Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison


The Blurb

Four different women. One common shoe size. And a shared lust for fabulous footwear.
Helene Zaharis’s politician husband keeps her on a tight leash and cancels her credit cards as a way of controlling her. Lorna Rafferty is up to her eyeballs in debt and can’t stop her addiction to eBay. Sandra Vanderslice, battling agoraphobia, pays her shoe bills by working as a phone-sex operator. And Jocelyn Bowen is a nanny for the family from hell (who barely knows a sole from a heel but who will do anything to get out of the house.)
On Tuesday nights, these women meet to trade shoes and, in the process, form friendships that will help them each triumph over their problems—-from secret pasts to blackmail, bankruptcy, and dating. Funny, emotional, and powerful, Shoe Addicts Anonymous is a perfect read for any woman who has ever struggled to find the perfect fit.

The Afterglow

What started as a way to fix her debt Lorna Rafferty created a group titled Shoe Addicts Anonymous. I only wish this could have happened in real life. Harbison has a way of bringing four women with major issues and making you laugh out loud and long for their friendship. These women bond in such an amazing way it's hard to not want to be them. Watch out Carrie Bradshaw because these women have a shoe addiction bigger than even hers.

I loved this book. I couldn't get enough. If I wasn't on such a time frame for her next novel I'd read it again. I loved the relationship/friendship between them all. I loved the light hearted flirty read perfect for summer. Overall I just loved Beth Harbisons work. It'll make you want to grab your friends and go out for cocktails.

I'm still in awe having just finished it and hope at least one other person picks up this book and enjoys it as I have.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

POSSESSION by Elana Johnson

Add it on Goodreads
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself. 

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn. 

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

The Afterglow

My new favorite word is techtricity. Elana Johnson's imagination is filled with perfect little details about Vi's and Jag's separate worlds. While reading, I was impressed over and over again by her creativity and cleverness. Possession is a dystopia, yeah, but it's also a character's internal debate over labels versus truth. What's good and what's bad, and can some things or people be both? All the while she's got voices in her head, her own and someone else's, trying to persuade her. For the intended audience (YA), it couldn't be more authentic and raw.

At times it was so raw, I almost felt Vi's pain. Maybe this was due in part to reading it on bed rest when I couldn't move without pain. My post-accident recovery somehow paralleled Vi's situation when she was trapped in a very tight place, threatened with pain if she stepped even slightly out of line. And of course, she wouldn't be Vi if she didn't push those limits. What you have to love about her is that she continued to do it, to fight for what felt right and true to her, even immediately after a barrage of intense pain.

She's a hero to root for. As for the two males who dig on her? I'll let you decide for yourselves when you read this, as I certainly recommend you do! But one is the clear opposite of the other in many ways, and we only have Vi's memories to tell us they used to be more alike before the Thinkers interfered. Hers isn't a clear-cut choice between two boys. It's muddied up by betrayal and misinformation, and memories she can't even trust anymore. That makes it a puzzle for the reader as well as for Vi.

Enjoy putting the pieces together!

Warning: the ending makes you want the next book immediately, but the next book is not a sequel; it's a companion. You've been warned.

Note to the publisher: Personally, I think Elana's working title, CONTROL ISSUES, was more apt for both the theme and Vi's voice. But the butterfly in the ice cube is perfect.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MATCHED by Ally Condie

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion.

The Afterglow

When I finished this book, I almost went back to page one so I could read the whole thing again.

Beautifully written, MATCHED reminded me of THE GIVER meets THE HUNGER GAMES.

The plot, which centers around a wannabe-Utopian Society that controls its inhabitants every move, has its obvious echoes of THE GIVER (actually, I think this may have been a point of contention with some readers, but I did not feel like it was a rip-off or anything).

And the main character, Cassia, feels like she could be a sister to Katniss Everdeen. If nothing else, the two would absolutely be best friends. In fact, if Katniss had enlisted Cassia's help to bring down the Capitol, there probably would have been a lot less bloodshed.

But I digress.

I loved, loved, loved this book. Condie is a master writer, weaving words together in such a way that the reader slips through the story with seemingly no effort at all. And the concept of a Society like the one in the book, while at first glance far-fetched, becomes more horrifyingly possible the further you get into the story.

All in all, a great book and highly recommended! Sequel comes out in November!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

THE DEATHDAY LETTER by Shaun David Hutchinson

From the jacket copy:

The clock is ticking…

Ollie can’t be bothered to care about anything but food, girls, and games until he gets his Deathday Letter and learns he’s going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer.

Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn’t work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It’s now or never….

Booklist says, "The reader is pulled along in Ollie's grip, wrestling with the big questions of life (and afterlife)....This first novel will appeal to male readers who care more about sex than philosophy."

I won this book nearly a year ago, when my friend Michelle McLean held a contest on her blog, and Shaun David Hutchinson sent me the book.

I owe Shaun an apology. I didn't start reading it back then (for one, it was the first book I'd ever owned that was signed by the author), but for another I got the impression that it wasn't for me.

When I finally started reading it last week, I got the feeling, at first, that I might have been right. The book is told from fifteen year old Oliver Travers point of view, in present tense, often breaking the fourth wall. It starts out as crass and juvenile, full of penis humor, wit, and sarcasm. This bothered me for a couple of pages, but Ollie's character, and his situation, were so compelling that I kept going.

I'm rather glad I did.

Ollie lives in a contemporary world where everything is perfectly normal, except that everyone receives a mysterious letter announcing their coming death about a day before they are going to die. Everyone behaves as if that is how things are meant to be.

So the book follows the final 24 hours of Ollie's life, as he tries to discover himself, appreciate the loyalty and support of his best friend, and understand love, as much as a hormone crazed young man of his age can.

I'm not going to give the story away, but I will say that this book is unlike anything I've ever read. The crass nature of much of the humor was a little groan worthy for me, at first, until I remember that I'm a 34 year old man, and I started thinking back to what I was like when I was 15 years old. Then it struck me:

This book, and Ollie's voice, are just about the most authentic I've ever read. And when you think about it like that, and let down your crotchety old man guard, this book is effing hilarious.

But it's not just that. It's subtle, and it builds up to it nice and slow, but The Deathday Letter also carries a poignant message about friendship, honesty, love, and trust. One that I was pleasantly surprised to find.

Thanks so much for the book, and your patience, Shaun!

I can recommend this book to any young man, especially those, who, like I did, feel awkward around girls, and just aren't quite sure exactly who they are yet. Girls and women may be turned off a little by all the testosterone, but if you can get past that you'll find a hilarious, heartfelt story in The Deathday Letter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

PRECIPICE by Melissa Luznicky Garrett

"I've been trying to convince myself since the first day we met not to go down this road," he says, "but I don't know how much longer I can keep up the charade."

I hold my breath in anticipation of what I hope he will say, knowing that I'm balancing on the precipice of a great betrayal.

When Julia said "I do" to her husband three years ago, she thought it would last forever. But when she finds herself in a dead-end marriage and in love with her best friend's boyfriend, she begins to question those relationships and everything she once believed in.

Now Julia must either do what's right . . . or follow her heart.

* * *

Confession: Normally, I am very wary of any books about marriage gone wrong, people considering affairs, or any storyline - be it book, movie, or song - dealing with the idea of following one's heart. This is because "following my heart" typically means "making an excuse for doing something bad," and I just can't get on board with that.

Fortunately, Melissa L. Garrett's debut novel for adults is not a story about making excuses.

Even though my marriage is quite happy, I found myself identifying and empathizing with Julia, the main character. She's a teacher in her mid-twenties with hardly a thought to spare for her own happiness - and zero awareness that she deserves much more from her marriage than she's getting.

When her husband is involved in an accident on a business trip, Julia must leave town to care for him. While in the hospital, she is hit with a startling revelation: she no longer loves the man lying in the hospital bed.

In fact, she's not sure she ever loved him. And she's starting to wonder if he ever loved her.

Combine that with the sudden appearance of Wes, the new music teacher, and Julia's struggling to remain faithful to a man who can't seem to keep the vows he made to her. He does not love her. He does not cherish her. In his sickness he is ungrateful to her, and in his health, he is emotionally abusive.

What I loved about this story was the way Julia does not say, "Oh well, my marriage sucks so I'm going to leave." Without giving too much away, I'll say this: She really fights for her marriage and her husband - not to mention her best friend, who's dating Wes. And in the end, she has a very hard decision to make: Work on the marriage and save her relationships with husband and best friend, or leave the marriage and ruin two people's lives in the process.

Please believe me when I say I could not stop reading this book, and I know you'll feel the same. A wonderful debut from an author I think we'll be seeing a lot of in the future.

The Hating Game by Talli Roland

The Blurb
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy.

After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes.

Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

The Afterglow

Talli Roland left nothing to chance, her writing keeps you on your toes, surprise after surprise lunged one right after the other, and just when you think you've got it all figured out she turns Mattie's world upside down once more.

This novel was light, fun and perfect for any girl who has ever guarded their heart until they've found the one. Break up, make up, whatever stage you're at in the dating world you're sure to love this tale!

With her debut novel being this exciting I'll be watching for her next book Watching Willow Watts to be released November 30th 2011. Keep an eye on this author she's beyond awesome!

About the Author

Talli is one of us! With an awesome blog about a girl who drinks coffee, writes, and then drinks wine you really do want to stop in and say hello. So stop by her blog today!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Winners Revealed!

Thank you so much for all who decided to follow Afterglow Book Reviews! We love being able to talk about books and we are very thankful to have you lurking among the blog and adding our favorites to your TBR list!

So let's not prolong this... people want to know who won! So here we go!!!

Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams

Congratulations - Cheyanne!

Lost Saint by Bree Despain – ARC

Congratulations - E. Elle!

The Gift by James Patterson - ARC

Congratulatoins - Jessica Lei!

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare – UK Copy

Congratulations - Regina!

The Marbury Lens – ARC

Congratulations - Ansley!

Prophecy of Days by Christy Raedeke

Congratulations - Thomasina!

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski – SIGNED COPY

Congratulations - Sara B. Larson!

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski – ARC

Congratulations - Jennifer Hillier!

Vanish by Sophie Jordan – ARC & SIGNED COPY

Congratulations - Lindsay Currie!

What Happened to Good-bye by Sarah Dessen – PERSONALIZED SIGNED

Congratulations - Al!

Send your addresses to me at jenniferdaiker(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll be sure to have all the information sent to the proper places! Thanks again for such a great turn-out and congratulations to all who walked away winners!!!

Coming soon - an International giveaway!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

SPELLBOUND by Cara Lynn Shultz

Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much.

Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistably drawn to - Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams. Visions of herself in past lives - visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

The Afterglow

OH, I loved this book so much! Although it took just a little while to really get going, once it did, I was HOOKED.

The setting is rich (literally; it's the Upper East Side, after all). Having been to most of the places mentioned in the book, it was easy to imagine Emma running through Central Park, hanging out behind the Met, and having romantic dates on Belvedere Castle.

This book's prose is beautifully written and Emma is easy to feel connected to. She will be an especially significant main character for any teen who's had a rough home life.

There was an unexpected (in a good way) level of action to this book that made it even more engrossing, and the bad guy is seriously, disgustingly bad - and SO fun to hate!

I loved this book so much that I emailed the publisher to see about getting a copy for a giveaway on my blog. If it's something you'd like to read, please be sure to visit me at http://annerileybooks.com/blog - it's not posted for giveaway yet, but it will be starting Monday, June 13!

SPELLBOUND comes out June 28 from HarlequinTEEN.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Truth Tellers Tale by Sharon Shinn


The Blurb:

Innkeeper’s daughters Adele and Eleda are "mirror twins"—identical twins whose looks are reflections of each other’s—and their special talents are like mirrors, too. Adele is a Safe-Keeper, entrusted with hearing and never revealing others’ secrets; Eleda is a Truth-Teller, who cannot tell a lie when asked a direct question. The town of Merendon relies on the twins, no one more than their best friend, Roelynn Karro, whose strict, wealthy father is determined to marry her off to the prince. When the girls are seventeen, a handsome dancing-master and his apprentice come to stay at the inn, and thus begins a chain of romance, mistaken identity, and some very surprising truths and falsehoods.

The Afterglow:

"The Truthteller's Tale" and its prequel, "The Safekeeper's Secret" are both wonderful books and, although they are targeted to a young adult audience, I hope that doesn't stop adults from picking up these gems. Elada and Adele are twins and mirror images of each other in both personality and appearance. Elada is a truth-teller, unable to speak an untruth and compelled to always tell the truth. Adele, on the other hand, is a secret-keeper, as closed-lipped and good-naturedly duplicitous as her sister is outspoken. As the twins grow up and into their roles, their abilities help them provide the functions of confidant and advice-giver for the entire town. Occasionally the townsfolk mix up the twins, to sometimes humorous, embarrassing, or disastrous results, accidentally telling secrets to Elada and expecting honest advice from Adele. The secrets they learn unravel over a backdrop of the sisters discovering love, loss, betrayal, and friendship as they first blossom into adolescence and then adulthood.

I loved this book and when asked what my favorite novel is that I've ever read I would definitely share this tale by Sharon Shinn. Her world and words are truly magical.

Friday, June 3, 2011

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins



From Goodreads:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?


***

I can't believe it's taken me so long to read this book. And I can't believe I'm posting on Afterglow twice this week--that might be my quota for the month. But I am positively, absolutely glowing about this book. And that's the name of the blog, right? I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. It reminded me of falling in love for the first time. Even though I've never been to Paris. I totally related to Anna and so much of what she does in the book (in particular, I distinctly remember stealing glances at a cute boy in a movie theater in my peripheral vision. LOL). I loved the boy, Etienne. The friends were real, but not perfect. And they were nice. It was group of people I wished I knew.


Contemporary YA at it's finest. Read it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shallee reviews The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker

Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.
To: KateLowry@pemberlybrown.edu
From: GraceLee@pemberlybrown.edu
Subject: (no subject)
Kate,
I'm here... sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor-the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her lovestruck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them-even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this, and I have to say the book surprised me. It sounded like an exciting read with some interesting twists. It was that, but it was so much more. Kate's character was deftly drawn, which helped bring out some of the deeper issues in the book-- grief, betrayal, tragedy, and secrets. The depth of feeling the book brought out in me was not what I expected, but I loved it.

I also loved the romantic relationships here. It's got a bit of a love triangle, but it's a completely different love triangle than I've ever seen. I loved each of the boys, and I loved the complexities of the relationships that emerged between everyone.

All in all, the mystery was intriguing and page turning, the emotional depth was stronger than expected, and this was just an all-around good read!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

 

Written by Chris Cleave.

This is a novel based on true events that happened in Nigeria and in England. How the oil industry effected a small village. It's about two women and how their lives intertwined in very unusual ways. I am kind of a slow paced reader but this book was so enthralling that I could not put it down. Not a "feel good" story but a very dramatic story about real events and how people deal with it. If you like historical novels I would strongly recommend it.

Have you entered Afterglow's Beginning of Summer Giveaway yet? It's easy to throw your name in the hat for a chance to win a free book! Click here!