Thursday, August 28, 2014

[Book Review] Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness DietCamp Utopia and The Forgiveness Diet
Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.  

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”

First things first - Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet does have fat jokes in it. Yes, it is about fat camp. About a very insecure, overweight girl who focuses way too much on her weight and avoids the problems that are going on in her life. Throw in a trip that she didn't want to fat camp, her neighbor that she had crush on doesn't want her, and a dad who left years ago and never contacts her? Oh yeah, let's not forget her mother who always talks to her about losing weight and eating less. 

So, yes. Fat camp. The place where kids dreams go to die because their parents have other things to do other than show their children how to control their diet. Story started out funny enough, with Bethany being an innocent girl who just wanted to be happy and felt ignored and out of place. So when she gets to Camp Utopia, she's the heaviest girl there. Again, soooo out of place for a sixteen year old. I found it very interesting that the author never actually tells us her weight. 

Long story short, Bethany rebels and runs away with her new friend Cambridge and refuses to go back and follow the camp's routine that's been set in place. The problem with this part of the book is that I take my fitness and nutrition very seriously, so for her to completely ignore it and turn back because it's "too hard"? I don't do excuses when it comes to getting your body healthy and in shape. 

But then Bethany opens up and I see her from a completely different side. The struggle that she went through, how everything in her past effected her decisions and why she is insecure. & I started to feel more respect for her. Actually seeing the change at the end was incredible and I'm glad that I stuck around longer to find out how it ends. 

I received this book free from  the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Jenny RudenAbout Jenny Ruden

Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit her website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

[Waiting on Wednesday] #18 - Winter Falls

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming books that we eagerly anticipate and cannot wait to get here!

"Winter Falls" - Nicole Maggi

Winter Falls (Twin Willows, #1)Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small town of Twin Willows, Maine. Things look up when a new family comes to town, but when she falls for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down. 

Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals. 

Alessia never would’ve suspected it, but her boring town is the site of an epic struggle between the Benandanti and the Malandanti to control powerful magic in the surrounding forest. 

As Alessia is drawn into the Benandanti’s mission, her relationship with Jonah intensifies. When her two worlds collide, Alessia’s forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make.


First of all, can we take a moment to admire this cover? All-white-everything is hard to pull off but seriously? IT'S A BEAUTY!!! And there's something badass about owls so I'm super stoked about it. On top of that, it's going to be a trilogy, so you know it's going to be good!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

[Book Review] Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Zac and MiaZac and Mia
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this tough and tender young adult novel that's a lot about love (and a little about cancer).

Winner of the 2012 Australian Text Prize

"When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics." So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can't forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

Not completely buying the The Fault In Our Stars comparison, I tried to keep an open mind before starting to read Zac and Mia. With cancer subject, this was a lot more about friendship and less about romance. It was more about raw emotions and the process of being ill than about personal life. 

"I don't deserve an award. I'm not a fighter and I'm probably not very brave. I haven't saved a kid from drowning, or sailed around the world. Playing three hours of Xbox a day doesn't make me a hero..."

The two main characters in this book are Zac & Mia (as you probably figured) who both have cancer and trying to beat it. It's interesting to see their reaction and their adaptation towards cancer. Zac is very down to Earth and always looks at times on the bright side. Even though he doesn't have high survival rate, he knows that it's just temporary and wants to enjoy life. Mia, on the other hand, is in denial and doesn't want to believe that she has cancer. Still hanging on to that believe that she will be back to her social life, she is trying not to think about it. 

Mia was a very difficult character here. She's arrogant, lashes out on everyone who tries to get close to her and is being very rude towards Zac. I honestly cridged when she was talking just because I didn't want to hear it. But as the story progresses, she changes and really turns around. The concept of this book is having hope and accepting the changes. And it is brilliant.

I received this book free from  Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

[Stacking The Shelves] #23

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews featuring the books we got this week.

Man this week has been super insane! Weather in Seattle has been very bipolar lately so I never know what to wear lol & I'm kind of starting to miss fall! I can't wait to wear sweaters and boots!

Also, it's been super busy so I didn't take any pictures of all the physical books that I got but I will make sure to have them next week. Hope everyone is having great weekend!

for review (netgalley)

In Her Wake (Ten Tiny Breaths, #0.5) Tear You Apart Day 21 (The Hundred, #2) Unteachable
Unbreakable (The Legion, #1) The Walls Around Us Amity Paradigm

What's on your list today?  Leave comments below & I'll return the favor!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

[Waiting on Wednesday] (17)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming books that we eagerly anticipate and cannot wait to get here!

"captive" - Aimee Carter

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #2)Expected Publication: November 2014
For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever. 

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape. 

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?



I can't believe it's almost been a year since they released Pawn (which I loved!) and now we are going to get treated with Capture, the second book in the Blackcoat Rebellion. I can't wait to read more about Kitty and how the whole thing is going to go down. Weeeeeeeeeee!!!


Monday, August 18, 2014

[Book Review] Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2)Her Dark Curiosity 
To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

“Call it sentimentality. Call it curiosity. 

Just don't call it madness.”

Her Dark Curiosity was the perfect follow up to the Madman's Daughter series. I actually think I liked it a lot better. Few months after Juliet returned from the island, she is now living with Professor who makes sure that she has everything she needs. No longer a maid, she is now considered an established lady who can marry without having any drama in her life. But then people start dying all around her. People that hurt her in the past. And she knows that this is personal. 

When she sees Edward, one of the creatures that her father created, she knows that they are very similar. And while trying to figure out the cure for each other, the beast has to be in control. With so much political drama and the group of people hunting Edward, the monster within her might not be quiet for long. 

“Sometimes you have to embrace the darkness to stop it.”

First of all, I'm so glad that I decided to continue with the series. The first book was a little too slow for me but I realized that it was a perfect set up for the series. The amount of action in this book was perfect and I loved how fantasy met reality. The author shows us how crazy it would be for a woman to be a scientist back in those days and to actually work in the lab and do research had to be kept a secret. Juliet definitely did not disappoint and I really liked her. Even though there was a small love triangle going on, it was not cliche and still interesting. 

Can't wait for the next book!!!

see my review of the first book in the series!

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

WINNERS: Beach Reads In August Giveaway Hop

WOOHOOOO!! Another successful giveaway has ended and I'm super excited to announce the winners! 

And the winner is...

DAN DADADADADA (drumrolls)

Ann V.! @mzannn

Ann, please contact me through Twitter (I just sent you a tweetie that you're a winner). She will have a chance to pick any of the books that were listed in my giveaway post (click on photo on the left to see the list).

Ok, are you guys ready for the next super awesome part? One of the things that I mentioned on my post is to share your favorite summer experience in comments. Whoever would have the most interesting comment would get a special gift from me.  I had so much fun reading everyone's comments, thank you so much for taking your time to comment! Alright, you guys excited to see the winner? Here she is:

I loved the humor and the story that Brandi wrote and I felt like I was a part of it somehow. Thank you so much for this! I will be happy to gift you an Amazon/Paypal $5 Giftcard :)

Well that's it folks. I am putting together another giveaway for finally getting Instagram so stay tuned and don't forget to follow me so you won't miss anything out! xoxo

[This-Book-Sucks Review] Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge, #1)Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend
Hot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.

Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don't hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she's someone else. As though the summer wasn't complicated enough already. Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn's first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

I really was hoping for a good read to end my summer. Thought it was light and fun and will make me miss that summer romance. NOPE. Didn't happen. It didn't hold my attention for long enough to care.

Reaction GIF: eye roll, don't care, Joe Pantoliano, Cypher, The Matrix

I don't even know where it went wrong. The story started out exactly how I thought it would - cute and fun, with Gemma being the best MC ever. But then she goes to spend summer with her dad and that's when she becomes a completely different person. She is way too focused on some drama that happened when she was 11 and by pretending to be someone else, she tries to fix mistakes that she made. 

I started to skim through the pages after about 60%. I think it's enough time to give a book to get better but I guess I could only wish. If only the covers weren't so pretty :(

Friday, August 15, 2014

[Discussion] When do you post ARC reviews?

when do you post arc reviews?

Ever since I started blogging, I always find little things that I can improve. Like my social media buttons, the way I post reviews, and etc. But one thing I'm still trying to make a process for is to post ARC reviews. So I was thinking... What do other bloggers out there do there? Ever since I started blogging, these have become my addition:

I mean, who can blame me, right? Yes, sometimes I am very good about not requesting too many ARCs but then if there's a good season and all of the sudden the good books start coming out... well then I go crazy. Like really, REALLY crazy lol

But then I do read them. And when should I post? I LOVE the scheduling function on Blogger but do I do it right after I read it or should I wait until release day? I have an idea of doing "Release Day Reviews" where I would post a review of a book on the day when it's getting released but not sure if that's too late. 

So let's discuss. when do you post arc reviews? do you have some sort of method/process that you follow when it comes to posting reviews? any tips? 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

[Book Review] The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride: A NovelThe Ghost Bride
Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, The Ghost Bride, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists.

Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price?

Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.

Reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s DaughterThe Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story and from a remarkable new voice in fiction.

"It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures, we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts."
The Ghost Bride is essential book to read. It is full of Chinese Malaysian traditions that captured my attention. Li Lan is a maiden who lives with her father that betrothed her to the dead son of a very wealthy family. I instantly disliked him and was amazed at how humbled Li Lan was. She was incredible. With being the ghost's bride and have to be elegant as well as strong and independent was truly amazing and I loved how it was expressed. 

“When Er Lang comes for his answer, I will tell him that I’ve always thought he was a monster. And that I want to be his bride.” 
I don't really know how to write a review for this book because it was simply great. The action, twists, the background, and the setting itself was a perfect way to express something magical and I really enjoyed it.


Yangsze ChooAbout Yangsze Choo

Yangsze Choo is a fourth-generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. She lives in California with her husband and their two children, and loves to eat and read (often at the same time).
Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[Book Review] The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

The Angel of Losses
The Angel of Losses
The Tiger's Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli's notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather--and her family--comes undone. To find the truth about Eli's origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York City and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli's past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can-and cannot-escape.

Filled with family traditions, culture, and Jewish folklore, The Angel of Losses is definitely a book you do not want to miss. Jewish myths and legends are very unfamiliar to me so reading about the White Rebbe and get to know the actual rituals was really interesting. 

In the book we are introduced to Marjorie, a young woman who lost her grandfather but always been close with him ever since she was little. Ghost stories always fascinated her so when she gets ahold of her grandfather's notebooks filled with stories that tie closely to Jewish myths, she loses herself in the research to try and find the truth. Meanwhile, she is getting further away from her family, especially her sister. Will this bring them together? Can her dreams really mean something? Marjorie goes through centuries worth of history to find the answers. 

The Angel of Losses was definitely not what I expected. This type of subject is usually too slow for me but I actually really enjoyed it. The element of a man who appears through the centuries and an old man showing up to Marjorie, intrigued me. Cultural genre is very new for me but this book has definitely made me want to look into it more.


Stephanie Feldman is a graduate of Barnard College. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and her daughter.

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