Friday, August 30, 2013

The Miner's Lady Review

The Miner's Lady (Land of Shining Water #3)
The Miner's Lady by Tracie Peterson
Visit the author's website
Goodreads Summary:
When Chantel Panetta's younger sister claims to be in love with Orlando Vittorio, Chantel knows there is no hope. The Panettas and Vittorios have been sworn enemies for decades, and young love cannot heal the deep wounds between the two iron-mining families. Yet, unable to resist Isabella's pleas, Chantel agrees to help her sister spend time with Orlando...only to have a run-in with Dante, Orlando's brother. The older, more handsome one. 
Chantel can't deny the attraction that flares when she's with Dante. But when a tragedy occurs at the mine, is there any hope that the hatred that has simmered between these two families might be resolved? Or will Chantel's hope for love be buried amidst decades of misunderstanding?
 I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. The book is released September 1st 2013. The current Kindle price is $8.54 (8/30/13).

My thoughts:
This is a tough review for me. I didn't not NOT like the book, but...let's explain the ''bad'' first.

It just isn't original. The Miner's Lady has a Romeo and Juliet style feud between Italian families now living in Ely, Minnesota. Always good, but not original. I think because of this lack of originality, nothing will particularly stand out and be remembered. Days from now book amnesia will erase the Love Interest's, I mean Dante's name.

I feel this is the nature of romance novels. There is a conflict, the lovers resist their feelings, or are separated, a climax, and then a happy, safe resolution. I know this is the way it just is and it is also why I occasionally pick one up again. It's tried, it's true, it's just not something I can rave about to other readers.

With this fact established, I think we can move forward. The Miner's Lady did have fun points. Tracie Peterson is an excellent writer. Her plot was well thought out and each scene just flowed so lovely. The characters were comfortable. Italian families? Oh yeah, hooked this wannabe Italian! Nonna Barbato was my favorite; everyone should have a Nonna Barbato! Chantel, the MC, had just enough spunk to root for and Dante, the Love Interest, enough charm to fall in love with.

I personally, was hooked instantly when I saw the setting was the home state: Minnesota! I love finding the rare MN book, bonus points for historical correctness, Christian, and a romance! I've checked out the first 2 books in the 'series' and they also appear to be set in MN. I say ''series" because it doesn't appear that any of the characters from each book are in any way connected to each other.

Having read Tracie Peterson before and enjoying this one, I think I have enough trust to read the other Land of Shining Water books. Although enjoyable, cute, and comfortable, it is typical. I rate The Miner's Lady with 3 stars. I recommend it to lover's of Christian Romance or fans of Tracie Peterson.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Exemeus Blog Tour & Giveaway


Welcome to my stop on The Exemus tour, hosted by CBB Book Promotions!
Today I have a review and a giveaway.
Be sure to check out all the tour stops.  

The Exemeus (The Exemeus, #1)
About The Exemeus:
Her short life was devoted to love and to hate. Love of the man who stole her heart, hate for the man who stole the world. Murdered by the government she swore to destroy, she's been given another chance to make it right. But to save the planet, she needs the help of the most powerful mystic the world has ever seen—unfortunately he hasn’t been born yet.

In a world where fear is the only currency, Dephon has committed the ultimate crime: inspiring hope.

His only goal is to make it safely through ninth grade, but on a post-apocalyptic Earth run by the Treptonian government, it isn’t that simple. Heir to a legendary power, Dephon Johnson is the only threat to the government’s rule. And on Trepton, all threats must be eliminated. When hundreds of assassins are dispatched to neutralize him, Dephon is forced to fight back. His only chance of survival is to enlist the aid of the greatest warrior the world has ever known. The only problem is, she's been dead for 13 years.

About the authors:
Folami and Abeni Morris are a sister-sister writing team. Together they wrote (and rewrote) The Exemeus, somehow managing to accomplish it without murdering one another. Despite their facial similarities, tendency to finish each other’s thoughts and stick up for each other constantly, no, they’re not twins and thus deserve their own individual bio.
 Folami Morris:
 Folami grew up in the tiny city of San Mateo Ca, where nothing ever happens and no one ever leaves. She went to Xavier University for undergraduate, getting her B.A in physics and her B.S in Biology. After graduation she returned to California, to live in an even smaller city, where even less happens, Antioch Ca. During this time she escaped the monotony by hanging out with her imaginary friends Hyalee and Dephon, and by writing the Exemeus. She finally escaped to Queens NY and now realizes that quiet and tiny aren’t so bad. 
Abeni Morris:
 As luck (and logic) would have it, Abeni grew up in the same tiny little town as her sister, then she too escaped to the tinier town of Antioch. She has yet to leave. She received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood development from Cal State East Bay. She is the mom of two amazing kids, who swear that they deserve a percentage of the book proceeds and a ton of the credit. At least she raised dreamers.
Find the book: Amazon | GoodReads
Find the authors: Website 

People. I have been dying to let you know about this book.  And now the day is here! YAY!

The Exemeus is dystopian but also fantasy. I felt it was told in a 'fantasy' sort of way. Where perhaps some crazy things happen but it is okay, it makes sense, and its expected because it is fantasy.

Dephon is your typical non-descript nerd always struggling to hide from the football team. His world, is anything but typical. His world is a future Earth now controlled by the Treptonian Army. School is illegal and held in the sewers. No one goes out on the streets unless they want to be shot. Nothing interesting has ever happened to Dephon. 

Enter in mind-reading, future-seeing Jacquelin. She rapidly changes Dephon's life, telling him he has to read a giant magical book called an Exemeus and that doing so will save his life, and the world. 

This story is about Dephon, but's about Hyalee. As the reader, we get to experience the Exemeus. The Exemeus is a magic book that captures all the thoughts of Hyalee. Thus we get to read the story of Hyalee and Singleton, Dephon's parents, as well. Most of this novel is about Hyalee, with bits of Dephon thrown in, ala Princess Bride

However, I thought all the characters were great. Dephon was funny, especially when interacting with Mallea who is the guardian of the Exemeus with an attitude. Hyalee was a great main character, though I wish she would have been more inquisitive about what was happening to her. For example, when Mallea starts coming into her powers her appearance changes daily. If I fell asleep a white person and woke up Asian? I think I would be asking just a few questions. Still, she was strong and brave. Her relationship with Singleton was adorable!

My cons? I felt like the authors were asking for a lot of blind faith from their readers. Hyalee never gets answers, so we the readers never get answers. Then it begins to feel like the authors just don't know how to answer the questions themselves so they avoided the questions. I have read a few books like this lately so it was really noticeable to me. Second, a lot of people complain about the length. Not me!! But as I think back over the story, nothing really happened. Hyalee and Singleton experienced a lifetime, but Dephon....not so much. As a result the novel felt like one, long, albeit exciting, backstory.I am expecting a lot more action in book two. 

I rated this book a 4, but could easily be persuaded to go 4.5. convinced me. Official rating: 4.5 stars. This is one story that has stuck with me since reading it. I am super excited for book two, The Azemeon. Recommend for fans of dystopian and fantasy, people who like stories about stories, and cool people :D

Now for TWO chances to win big!! ----->

Make sure to check out The Exemeus Scavenger Hunt, where you can win a Kindle Fire or $150!  The first stop is at My Guilty Obsession, where you can get the first clues on this incredible journey for an amazing prize!  The Scavenger Hunt starts on Monday, August 26th and runs through Friday August 30th.  Chances to win are through midnight on September 1st.  Buy your copy of The Exemeus today, if you haven't already!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Favorite Secondary Characters

Check out the The Broke and The Bookish today to link up with Top Ten Tuesday!! This Tuesday we are talking about our favorite secondary characters we find in our books. I super apologize in advance: I was quite busy this weekend and wasn't able to plan/write my posts in advance. I might not get to 10 today, but will give it a good shot!

No particular order, as usual :)

1. Fred and George from Harry Potter. Don't even get me started. 

2. Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter. Yes. And in the movies where he kills the snake in his sweater. Epic. Truly epic. 

3. Drew Leighton from Sea of Tranquility. He was great at lightening the mood and didn't take crap from Nastya. 

4. Mallea from Exemeus. I can't WAIT for the blog tour happening TOMORROW!! But I loved Mallea a lot. She's got attitude, and HECK she lives in a book!

5. Simon from City of Bones. Because he was hilarious. I felt bad for him! Simon got the short end of the stick and not a lot of sympathy. 

6. Alice from Twilight. Yup. I went there. 

7 & 8. Sam and Legolas  from Lord of the Rings. Is Sam a secondary character?? He is now! And I am not gonna lie, I am probably influenced by the movies when I say Legolas....

Well, I made it to 8!! Go me :) Make sure to stop by tomorrow for the blog tour of Exemeus!!

Leave your TTT link below lovely friends! Can't wait to read your lists!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Top Books of far

Well....this post was supposed to be published at the beginning of the month. And then it just wasn't :) But still, here it is:

This list is from January 2013 through July 2013. During that time period I had eleven 5 star reviews on my Goodreads. The Top 11 were:

Anything by Jennie Allen
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
If I Could Keep you Little by Marianne Richmond
Prayer  by Richard J. Foster
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year by Erin MacPherson
Innocence by C. Nault and M. Findley


The Final Top Six for the First Half of 2013 are.........*drum roll*
6. The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year: Everything You Need to Know to Survive (and Love) Your First Year as a Mom
My review as done over at Christian Sugar Addict. I was super excited to be picked to help Erin launch her four book series. I LOVE the cute cover designs. When I received the book, I read it in two days, which at that time with a bitty baby, was an amazing feat of amazing-ness. I still refer to it and can't wait to dive into The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler.

5. Innocence (Shadow War, #1)
My review for this indie book was probably a shameless begging of you to check this book out. I am incredibly nervous for book two. It could go in a couple different directions, and I hope the authors choose a good one. This book definitely deserves more recognition.

4. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
I didn't review this one, but just so you know: it messed up my life. Ann Voskamp's book is wildly popular amongst several of the bigger Christian mommy bloggers. Ann's style of writing is different, honest, poetic, and real. Her journey to discovering 1000 things to be thankful for is truly inspiring.

3. Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)
Also didn't review this one :( I am digging this new cover. I am finding myself attracted to large title fonts. And I like the color pink, so that explains that one! I think most people have read this one, so I will not elaborate. If you haven't, FIND THE TIME!!

2. Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul
Ugh. Also messed up my life. It messed up my life so bad, it was scaring me and I had to quit reading it for a long time. Jennie Allen hits so many sore spots with honesty and clarity. I did a guest review of this book over at The Reading List. It was my first ever guest post and I was so nervous, but I think it was one of my favorite reviews! Recommend this one to those brave enough.

1. The Sea of Tranquility
I am sure my review didn't make any sense because I was, and am, so crazy in love with this book. I encourage you to click over to that review and find the link to an interview with Katja and her cinderella story concerning this novel. I requested this book on NetGalley on a whim, having not heard much about it. SO GLAD I DID! This story was new and deep and emotional. Very emotional. Katja Millay has produced a debut novel like a boss. I recommend this book to people walking by on the street.

Honorable Mentions (4.5 Stars)
-The Henchmen's Book Club
-Age of Miracles

Well, friends, I bet you were more organized than I. Did you list your top books of 2013 so far?? List them in the comments below or leave a link!! Want me to check out your Goodreads shelves?? Leave that link as well!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Being Henry David

Being Henry David
Being Henry David by Cal Armistead
Visit author's website HERE
Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old "Hank" has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything --who he is, where he came from, why he's running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or "Hank" and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of--Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Cal Armistead's remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home
I received this book from ARCycling! It is currently being offered for Kindle $10.49.

My thoughts:
Hank wakes up in a train station with no memory of who he is. All he has is a copy of Walden by Thoreau. After a run in with some bad people, he sets out for Concord, MA, home of Walden Pond. Hank hopes to discover clues to who he is when he arrives. Soon he meets new friends, and a girl, and suddenly isn't so sure he wants to get his old life back anymore. As pieces slowly come back to Hank about his former, real life he is faced with the decision: run away or face the facts?

There is a lot I enjoyed with this novel. While thinking through this review, I kept saying two phrases: "normal" and "real life". Don't be annoyed if I over use them here :))

First, being apart of the amnesia experience with Hank is exciting. We as the reader also don't know anything about him. Is he bad? Did he hurt someone? What happened? I liked the way Armistead wrote through this, making us wonder. Should we like him, or hate him? Later Hank's discovery of who he really is felt normal and very real. The experience didn't feel forced or coerced, and most importantly, didn't feel overly dramatic. Too many times in amnesia story type books the MC discovers their past finally and they freak out. I am pulled into the drama as well, but often wonder later, "Like, that was it?? That's what they were so worried about?" In Being Henry David I didn't have to worry about that drama and it was SO refreshing.

Also refreshing, and strange for YA these days, was the lack of love interest. I guess 'lack' is the wrong word, there WAS an attraction interest, but it was not the main focus of the book. It remained in the background and was just prominent enough to give Hank something worth caring for in his new life. But his attractions for the girl, Hailey, were again, natural and normal, not gripping and fanatical found in recent YA.

My ARC copy has 308 pages and Goodreads says 320 so I would love to get my hands on a hard copy to compare! Perhaps the hard copy deals with one of my issues: being unhappy with the ending! I mean it was a good ending, but there wasn't enough answered for me. I felt like I was being lead on a journey of self-discovery with this kid, I should at least get to know what happens in the end right?

Even though this is my biggest dislike, I still get why Armistead does it. Being Henry David is a short book, but is as long as it needs to be. She kept it to real life, and in real life, we don't always get all the answers. There were many tangent stories that other authors may have felt the need to address. For example, what becomes of Hailey or Thomas' backstory. These are stories we will never get to experience (GRR), but like real life, we only get to experience our own stories. And here 'our' story is Hank's story (sigh. fine.)

The other thing I didn't care for was Thoreau himself. From Goodreads, it looks like a lot of people pick up this book because it might include Thoreau or be a Walden-esque story. I had no clue about any of that. I hadn't read the description and don't automatically equate the name Henry David to Thoreau. Sorry literary world. So I could have done without the heavy Walden quotes and creepy Thoreau ghost. It was a nice story prop to provide Hank with a name to use and place to go, but beyond that meh. Again, sorry literary world!!

If you check out my new ratings page you can see a glimpse of how I like to rate my books. This book averaged 3.2 and I had rated it as a 3 star on Goodreads. I still would recommend it to contemporary readers and writers for good pointers on sticking to real life.

Check out more reivews for Being Henry David
Here at The Nocturnal Library
& Here at Pink Polka Dot Book Blog

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Making Life Easy

Tuesdays are quickly becoming one of my favorite days of the week, soley to read all the TTT posts. I love all the different answers and ways people make the lists their own. This week is sure to be great: "Top ten things that make your life as a reader/book blogger easier". I would LOVE to add more things to my short list!

As a Reader:
-The ease of buying and discovering new books with my Kindle. I have stumbled over a lot of blah books but also some hidden gems!

-Book lights. So I have a second gen Kindle. Love it. But Hubby threw away the charging cable?!?!? And because I haven't bought a new one (for 6 months now), I read all my Kindle books on my Android (go Galaxy s4!!). But back when I read physical books and e-ink, book lights were mandatory. 

-Goodreads. I probably don't need to say much more. Keeping track of books to read and discovering new books TO read.......yes. yes. and some more: YES!

-Snacks. Okay. So I don't snack too much while reading these days, but if I do have a snack near me, life is easier. I don't have to get up from my comfy reading nest and forage. I do find myself drinking a lot of Mike's hard lemonades while reading though....hmmm..

-a GOOD book. This seems obvious. But to make life as a reader easy it would be great to always have a GOOD or better yet, a GREAT book to read. Not all books are created equal. It's another reason why I love Goodreads so much. I can easily see what my friends are reading and enjoying or what has been rated fairly well and spend my time and energies there. 

As a Blogger:
-A good rating system. Specifically for book blogging of course. It is important to have a rating system in place, ANY kind of rating system, as long as you understand it and can adhere to it. As readers, we can read hundreds of books in our life times. Understanding why we liked this book and not that book can help lead us to books we will truly enjoy and even enrich our lives.

-Netgalley. This makes live as a book blogger way more FUN, and maybe easier. I love having the opportunity to read and review different kinds of books and am so grateful that publishers share this resource with us. 

-Blogging resources. I love the How They Blog Planning Kit, my Intentional Blogger ebook, and sites like Problogger. I also use Pinterest a lot for finding helpful designing sites. 

-Organization and TIME. Okay, I jumbled these 2 together :) If I can keep my posts organized I am golden. I also need to find time to draft, write, and read!! I know many mommy bloggers have to write in the 'after hours', aka the blissful period when all the kids are finally asleep. This is double-y golden for me because my husband is also gone at work during this time! 

-Blogging 'mentors'. I don't have an official mentor :( So raise your hand if you want to volunteer!! But when I started Sunrise Avenue, I contacted three LOVELY generous book bloggers and asked them a few questions to get me started. They were suuuuper nice and helpful and I have tried to implement all their hints and tips. I also spend a lot of time stalking a few favorite blogs. I watch what they do to interact with readers, how they write their reviews and how they rate books, etc. I try to take what I see and make it work for me as well, Alyssa style. It doesn't always work, but I try to learn anyways. And sometimes something works fantastically for that blogger, but doesn't fit ME or my calendar so I skip it or try to find a different solution. 

Hmm..that is getting a bit long :))

Remember to leave your blog name/link below!! I always visit back :) Happy Tuesday, friend! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Literary World I would choose to live in...


Fantasy has always and will always be my first book love. This is the genre that drew me into reading and never let go. It's why I chose to list my top 10 fantasy worlds last week. But this week's question for Behind the Blog with Bookish Musings is making me choose. just. one.

If you could choose any book world to live in, which world would it be and why would you want to live there?
I knew my choice had to come from my favorite fantasy worlds. But how does one choose between Hogwarts and Middle Earth, Wonderland and Oz?? I went with the world that popped into my head first: Narnia. 

I love the gentleness, the quiet content of all who live in Narnia. The creatures are dreams of every little girl, unicorns, princes, princesses, dwarves, and talking animals. I would love to live there for the sheer beauty. Perhaps it does appeal to my inner child a bit too much. But I am unashamed! :)

Ideally, I would love to live in the time of Edward, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy's reign. 

And while I liked the White Witch, I don't think I really want to meet her. Or live where it's winter always and never Christmas. 
(talk about a win for feminism)

Even the idea of trying to FIND Narnia is like a personal challenge. See a giant wardrobe?? Gotta check out the back to make sure it's solid and not a way to Narnia. And better look under the bed just in case!

Okay folks, tell me what literary world you would live in if you could choose! Fantasy? Sci-fi? Or Jane Austen??