Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Summer Rental - Mary Kay Andrews

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Chick Lit
Source: Hardback, Purchased 
Buy the Book: Amazon

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars  Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction…

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia--whose caustic wit covers up her wounds--has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Mary Kay Andrews' novel is the story of five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.

Summer Rental is one of Library Journal's Best Women's Fiction Books of 2011.

My Review:  

I love that feeling you get when you finish a good book.  You know, the one where you are happy that you know the ending of story, but still somewhat sad that the story ended.  That’s the way I felt when I finished Summer Rental.  I loved the setting of this book, set in Outer Banks, NC, because I have family that lives there, and I can remember summer trips to the beach in NC as a child. 

This book is a light, summer read.  It was a quick read, but it doesn’t lack in excitement or even danger.  There’s a bit of romance involved, of course, but more than that, this book is about friendship.  Summer Rental told the story of three best friends, Julia, Dorie, and Ellis, that had been friends since school.  Despite living in different locations, they decided to come together for one month in August to reconnect, relax, and celebrate their friendships.  Along the way, Dorie encounters Madison in an unsuspected way, and she becomes the fourth female living under one roof at their beach rental, Ebbtide.

For me – I enjoyed that these women all had pretty real life issues, and I was able to really relate to their stories.  Ellis is the workaholic who doesn’t want to make time for a relationship because she hasn’t found the right man.  Julia has the right relationship and doesn’t feel like she deserves it.  Dorie is kind of stuck in limbo with her relationship.  Madison is running from hers.  Of course – let’s not forget the sexy neighbor/landlord Ty Bazemore who is dealing with his own set of issues.  I loved the characters, and found myself sneaking time to read during breaks, lunch, after work, etc. so that I could finish the book quickly.
Much like any book I read with a bit of mystery, I always try to figure out the ending.  That’s one of my flaws in reading, because instead of just enjoying the story, I try to figure out the story.  I was able to do that with Summer Rental, and I was accurate in my assumptions.

I did love that throughout the book you find out the “secret” that each of the girls is hiding from the others, because it makes the characters more relatable.  Even though, these women were from different backgrounds, for the most part, I felt they were all strong characters, and more than that, strong women, in their own ways.  For that, I’m commending Ms. Andrews for portraying thirty year old women as individuals who can and have stood on their own two feet. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  I wouldn’t say that it’s a life changing book for me, but it did exactly what it was designed to do.  It was a quick, light, easy read that made me long for the Outer Banks and for the ocean.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA Day 3: GIVEAWAY!

Who doesn't LOVE a giveaway?!  I know I do!  So for my first giveaway and to celebrate my first Armchair BEA - I've decided to have TWO giveaways.  Or rather, two prizes.

The first prize... a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.  Easy enough, right?!

The second prize... a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.  

That means TWO WINNERS!  

*Edit:  Contest will end at midnight on Sunday, June 2nd.  I'll do a random drawing and announce the winners here on the blog on Monday, June 3rd!  Good luck everyone.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Armchair BEA Day 3: Literary Fiction

Before I get started discussing today's Armchair BEA topic - I want to share some good news.  All the traffic from my posts yesterday got me so excited to develop this blog even more!  Some I thought I'd share some good news!

You guys!  I did some research, and I found someone who is going to revamp the blog!  Yay!  I couldn't be more excited for an awesome blog background, logo, etc. to really start this journey of mine!  Secondly, I received a couple of books on netgalley for review... one from one of my FAVORITE authors, Richelle Mead, author of The Vampire Academy series.  I could NOT be more excited, so thank you to everyone for visiting, and sharing the love of books and blogging with me!  

And... just because... I'll be hosting a giveaway starting later on this afternoon.  There will  likely be two prizes, so check back for details!  

On to literary fiction...

For me, when I think about literary fiction, it tends to be those novels in high school that we had to read as part of Advanced Placement English.  You know, the ones that we all tried to read the Cliff's Notes versions because we had way more important things to do as teenagers than be consumed with ::gasp:: a book. 

For me, literary fiction is something that touches the soul and changes your life, but it's deeper than just words on a piece of paper.  It's the characters, the language, the plot, the lasting feeling long after I've finished the last word.  

Some of my favorite books are considered literary fiction, and for the most part, I really enjoy the genre.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA Day 2: Genre Fiction

If you’re a reader of genre fiction do you have a favorite author or series? And what keeps bringing you back for more fantasy/sci fi/horror etc? And if you don’t read one (or more) of these genres what is it that deters you from those sections of the bookstore? I’m also curious to hear why you think these genres often don’t get the recognition they deserve.

I definitely gravitate more towards young adult fiction.  I think it's in part because there have been some amazing books released within the past few years that have really drawn me towards that genre.  Another reason I tend to gravitate towards young adult fiction and fiction in general is because so much of my free time was spent with my nose in an accounting text book.  After awhile, a girl just wants to read ANYTHING but.  I'd like to think that I'm a well-rounded reader in such that I'll pick up just about anything, but I definitely tend to stay away from the horror books.  I can remember as a child being terrified of the movie IT, and still being leery of clowns at 30.  Below are some of my favorite books...

If the book is one of a series, I've probably read them all, but am only choosing to put the first book in the series.  

Armchair BEA Day 2: Better Blogger?

Day 2 of Armchair BEA is upon us, and part of today's discussion is how to be a better blogger and how to focus "blogger development."  For me, this discussion is two fold, because it allows me to dig deeper and investigate what other book bloggers have done to be successful in their own endeavors, but also to allow me to really pinpoint what I want to do to develop my own style and blog.

Have you branched out into your community? Do you partner with other bloggers? Have you gone "pro" or tried generating some income through your blog? If you're a long-term blogger, how has your online personality developed over the years? 

As a newbie book blogger, I haven't really expanded into my community or partnered with other bloggers, although I do hope to do both in the future.  Going pro isn't really something I want to actively pursue, but if in the future, it went that direction, I most certainly wouldn't be opposed.  I mean, making money for my opinions, YES, please   :o)  But... my primary focus has been and always will be to share my love of books and reading with the masses.  It's just who I am, and what I like to do.  

So for my own development... here's a list of what I'd like to do with The Bibliophile's Digest, and where I'd like to eventually see this blog.

*  Create a logo
*  Create a lay out and blog design
*  Update The Bibliophile's Digest Facebook page
*  Maybe create a Twitter account?!
*  Become part of a book club
*  Take the ol' blog off of blogger, and maybe obtain a .com domain
*  Take part in more weekly meme posts hosted by various bloggers 
*  Develop a signature for closing each post
*  Develop a "review" policy
*  Create an about me section
*  Link up to Goodreads on my blog

You see - there's a thousand ways to network, and I want to start doing just that!

~ Christina

Armchair BEA: Introduction

Armchair BEA is a virtual blogging conference for those of us unlucky enough to be sitting in New York at Book Expo America.  One of these days, people, one of these days.  As a hopeful book blogger, I thought participating virtually might be a great way to get my name out there, and establish The Bibliophile's Digest as a blog out in the world.  So without further ado, here's my introduction.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself:  Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I'm Christina.  :o)  I'm a 30 year old accountant by day in the airline industry.  I enjoy my job, for the most part, but spending all day crunching numbers leaves the brain, well, mushy.  I turned to reading as an outlet.  It's always been a hobby of mine, since I was a little bitty girl.  I can remember, 1st day of 1st Grade, I got sent to the principal's office for being able to read at a higher level than my classmates, and my teacher didn't know what to do with me.  She then proceeded to keep me inside during recess to teach my classmates how to read.  

I started this blog several years ago... 2011, to be exact.  But I never spent much time on it.  As a full time student with a full time job, blogging always took a back burner.  I enjoy reading, and more than that, I enjoy writing, so I figured it was time to get back into it.  It's just a hobby, and I don't hope or plan to every make money off of this journey.  It's just a good outlet for me to publish my thoughts about a book, and keep up with what I'm reading in one nice, neat, package.

Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA?  What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event? 

I have not participated in Armchair BEA in the past.  I was drawn to the event because of the network of book bloggers that are involved, as well as the daily topics and insight given by Armchair BEA to bloggers.  It's just a  great resource, and I'm happy to be a part of it!

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

I'm currently reading Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews.  It's been on my bookshelf at home for awhile, and looks like a light summer read, so I picked it up.  Plus, it's set in one of my favorite places in the US... Nags Head, NC!  So far, so good.  :o)  I'm looking forward to doing the review.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why? 

It'd definitely be J.K. Rowlings.  I'm a huge follower of the Harry Potter series.  I want to just pick her brain.  A woman who has accomplished as much as she did, considering her circumstances in the beginning, is just an inspiration to me.  I'm always amazed by her every time I hear an interview.  She's such a gracious, humble, human being.  

Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?

For me, personally, I'd like to see The Bibliophile's Digest take off as a book blog.  I can't promise that it'll be the greatest blog out there, but I promise to give it my heart and soul.  Heck, who knows, there might even be a giveaway coming up soon.  :o)  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Gifted: A Donovan's Circus Novel by Liz Long

Gifted: A Donovan's Circus Novel by Liz Long
Release Date: April 18th, 2012
Genre: Young Adult
Source: BookBub, Amazon
Buy the Book: Kindle Version

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:  Even in a world of freaks, being a Firestarter is considered a dangerous Gift.

Lucy was born with the ability to create and control fire. She longs to leave the human world for one filled with Earthshakers, Transporters, and Chameleons, to name a few. When she rejoins the circus, it’s everything she hoped it could be—new friends, a potential love interest or two, and a place where she can be herself.

When troupe members begin turning up dead, however, Lucy is suspected of foul play. She must not only prove her innocence but also realize the full extent of her power. To find the real murderer, she must uncover the truth behind her father’s fiery legacy while figuring out whom to trust within her new circle. Little does she know the history of the Donovan Circus and its enemies might actually destroy the entire gifted world.

My Review:  I have nothing but amazing, wonderful, fabulous things to say about this book.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!  While some reviewers have compared the book to X-Men, I know nothing about X-Men, so alas, I can not make that comparison.  This book is fast paced from the beginning, and it kept me engaged and interested through each and every character interaction and turn of the page.  

I loved the characters... even the ones I wasn't necessarily supposed to love.  Lucy is a spunky, in your face, edgy girl who has lost both of her parents, and found herself back in the circus.  She isn't sure where she'll fit in, or if she'll fit in, but she's determined to do so on her own without using his father's name.  I loved Lucy's love interest(s), but that's all I'm saying about that for fear of giving something away.

There is suspense, danger, action, romance, personal growth within each character.  I mean, what's not to love?!  This is Liz Long's debut novel, and I'll definitely be on the look out for book #2!

Review: A Girl, a Guy, and a Ghost - Patricia Mason

A Girl, a Guy, and a Ghost - Patricia Mason
Release Date: November 4, 2012
Genre: Romance
Pages: 302
Source: BookBub, Amazon
Buy the Book: Kindle Version

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads: Curvy redhead Giselle Hunter, parapsychology reporter, has a crisis. Finding a ghost within three days is the only way to save her job. Not easy, especially with no psychic talent. A trip to Savannah Georgia-voted the most haunted city in America-seems ideal. But while Giselle encounters a discrimination-obsessed vampire, a nudist wizard, a not-so-psychic medium and a host of other kooks, there's not a ghost in sight. Then there's scrumptiously sexy, private investigator Ry Leland. With his buff body and bitable lips, Ry ignites her passion. He's an enormous distraction. Distracting her in a bed, in a closet, on the kitchen table, in a car... But despite the explosion of their mutual lust at first sight, Ry is unwilling to help with what he calls a cockamamie investigation. Unwilling, that is, until an attempt on her life makes it clear someone wants to stop Giselle from finding a ghost...and turn her into one.

My Review:  I don't know if everyone out there in the blogosphere knows about BookBub, but if you don't, you MUST SIGN UP NOW!  BookBub is a daily e-mail with free or deeply reduced books that can be downloaded to your Kindle or Nook.  It's a free service, and definitely worth signing up for.  I downloaded this book onto my Kindle app on my iPad when I found it using the daily e-mail from BookBub.

I enjoyed this book by Patricia Mason.  It's the first one I've read, and I would definitely read another.  Giselle reminded me a lot of myself.  Her banter with Ry, her encounters with several of the other characters, just remind me of what my life would be like if I were dating again.  Needless to say - I laughed, a LOT, and out loud several times while reading this.  I enjoyed the inner dialogue of Giselle, because I could just imagine myself thinking and saying the same things.  

It's definitely a quick, light-hearted read.  There's a bit of romance, some sexual content, so be aware of that if you aren't into that sort of thing, but it's quick, and doesn't distract from the overall plot of the story.  I won't say that I absolutely loved this book, but I did enjoy it.  

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Release Date:  September 2008 (English)
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 480
Source: Previously Owned
Challenge: 75 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.

It's about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It's about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age--and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it--who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism--and an unexpected connection between themselves.

It's a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of them forced to face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.

My Thoughts:

Let me just start by saying that I really fought this book.  I wasn't interested in reading it, despite all the positive reviews.  I tried several times to get into the book, and I just couldn't get pass the difficult character names and all the background details.  That is, until my  mom read the book, and convinced me to just "get through the first 50 pages."

After that - it was all I could do to focus on work, school, hobbies, etc. that didn't involve sitting in front of this book and READING!  Of course, once I finished this one, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.

Read this one!  You won't be disappointed.