Dec 28, 2012

Random Ravings

You're at the movie theatre opening night. You've been waiting all year for this film to come out because the previews just looked so friggin' good and you had to be one of the first to see it. You've got your popcorn in one hand, a coke and milk duds in the other, and you are rarin' to go.

Now imagine that every single action scene in the movie could be compounded into thirty seconds... And you've already seen them all, because they put ALL the good parts in the preview... The rest of the movie is narrated ~ the whole way through, and quite boringly, I might add. So instead of seeing and feeling like you're getting down and dirty with all the juicy stuff, you're only told what's happening.

I'm currently having this issue with one of the books I'm reading at the moment... As a reader, I keep getting told what is happening when what I really want is to feel what the main character is feeling. Right now, I'm convinced that there is going to be a huge twist in which we discover that our "heroine" is truly a heartless robot from another planet (minus any cool superpowers) because the girl just doesn't seem to have a whole lot going on in her heart... or brain for that matter...

There are some epic scenes that last a whole two paragraphs, and I'm like "Wait, what just happened? Are you serious?" but there's no build up or emersion into what is going on, so I have to go back and make sure that I actually read what I thought I read. The author just keeps flinging crap at us like a monkey at the zoo, coming up with one action scene after another and doesn't spend enough time on building up to the scene or the characters' reactions, thoughts, or feelings about everything.

As a result, the characters feel one-dimensional, kinda like cardboard cutouts. I'd take a little less action if it meant the author would slow down, dig deep into her characters, and stretch out the important scenes a little longer so we can absorb and enjoy both the blessings and the curses.

If someone tells me a story, I don't feel any connection if the storyteller is monotone and just lays it out like a college essay. I need to see their drastic facial expressions and hear the rise and fall of their voice. Just hearing the basics of the events they are describing isn't enough ~ it's the tone and emotional current running through those words that draws us into the story. It's the buildup and the explosion that get's us grabbing onto the edge of our seats...

Point: Slow down and let us feel the story through the characters... 

Whew.... I feel better...

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 26, 2012

Best of 2012 + Giveaway Hop!

This year has just rocked on by and has completely blessed me with so many wonderful books to take up residence on my overflowing - and almost sagging - shelves. Honestly, though, I wish I had ninja-lightning-fast reading skills so I could have read just a few more of those wonderful books on my TBR list that were released this year...

Even with my lack of speed-reading skills, I had a fabulous year when it came to reading. So many amazing books!!! It was difficult to pick only ten, but I managed to narrow it down...

10. The Mayfair Moon by J.A. Redmerski 

9. Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols 

8. The Taker by Alma Katsu 

7. The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

6. Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

5. The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

4. Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

3. Opal by Jennifer Armentrout

2. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen


1. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

All amazing books of 2012 ~ and in tribute to the Best of 2012, I am a Reader, Not a Writer is hosting a giveaway hop in celebration of all the wonderful books that we fell in love with this year :)

Here @ Realms of an Open Mind, the giveaway will consist of your choice of one of the ten books listed above :) Good Luck!!!

Also, keep scrolling for a list of other blogs participating in the hop. The more you enter, the more chances you have of winning!

P.S. This giveaway is international :)

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Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 22, 2012

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which we share what books we've added to our slightly overloaded shelves... :)

This week, thanks to Epic Reads, I've added a couple of books to my virtual shelf. Christmas time is here, so money is scarce and my urge to buy books, books, and more books needs to suppressed in favor of celebrating the holidays :). BUT I stumbled across these amazing deals for my Kobo App, and I couldn't resist.

Check it out. Click the cute birdies...

This week, I've added:

She should not exist.

He should not love her.

Claire Brennan has been attending Emerson Academy for two years now (the longest she and her mom have remained anywhere) and she's desperate to stay put for the rest of high school. So there's no way she's going to tell her mom about the psychic visions she's been having or the creepy warnings that she's in danger.

Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson as the ideal hiding place where he could be normal for once. He hadn't factored Claire into his plans. . . .

Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the reason behind Claire's unusual powers is revealed and the threat to her life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?

AND, although I have this amazing book in audio, I wanted a "print" version as well ~ yeah, it's that fabulous. And why not, for $1.99?

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and "Graveminder," comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.

What have you added to your shelves this week?

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 21, 2012

Spotlight: Altered by Jennifer Rush

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them. 

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

Sounds pretty intense, eh? I love the simplicity of the cover ~ black and white with that splash of neon. Beautiful.

One thing that irks me about a synopsis like this is that they always reveal who has stolen the heroine's (or hero's) heart! Cheeses it up a bit... but the rest sounds pretty amazing.. I'm curious to discover how these four guys were altered by Anna's mad scientist of a father... And how she and Sam are connected... hmmmm... ???

Can't wait to read this one!

Oh, and one more thing! Check out the excerpt I stumbled across while perusing Jenn Rush's website...

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 20, 2012

WInterHaven Sleigh Tour

Only five more days until Christmas! And the countdown begins... In celebration, Realms of an Open Mind has joined up with the WinterHaven Sleigh Tour hosted by WinterHaven Books. This week is all about childhood memories ~ what are our favorite children's christmas stories?

This was easy for me. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Everyone knows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his famous "Bah Humbugs." His image was recently capture by the spectacularly hilarious Jim Carrey in Disney's most current rendition of the story.

There are more than enough movies to fill your day with this classic tale, but they all tell the same tale, courtesy of Dickens. It's a bit of a spooky Christmas story, especially when you're a child, with heartless old men, rattling ghosts, and the image of a lonely death looming in the not-too-far distance.

I think I loved the paranormal aspect of this book ~ not only that, but the way it's portrayed. These spirits scare Ebenezer back to humanity, making him remember his past, showing him the truth of the present he has chosen to ignore, and giving him a glimpse of his dark and devastating future. He goes from one of the worst men in town to someone joyously unrecognizable ~ all in the Christmas spirit :). It's a happy ending, but the journey to get to that point was emotional, and Ebenezer had to face more than a few of those demons lurking around in his crippled soul.

I'm sure many of you have read the book, but you should also check out the newest film version. It's amazing and absolutely something fun to share with your family.

ALSO, as part of The Magic of Christmas, WinterHaven Books is hosting a give-away that will include a Children's or YA book bundle to be shipped to an elementary school or library of the winner's choosing. The winner will be offered a few options and they can choose what bundle and location to ship to within the United States. Awesome, right?  Good luck and happy holidays!

(P.S. Swing on over to WinterHaven Sleigh Tour to see who else is along for the ride...)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 17, 2012

Review: Opal by Jennifer Armentrout

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

This series has completely put me under a spell ~ I just freakin' love it. Book three ~ you would think the story would get old by now or begin to drag just a bit, but no... Armentrout weaves her magic and we all eventually find ourselves in thankful stupor and mild book coma... Either it's her mad writing skills or our continuous swooning over Daemon Black... mm MM MM....

Let's start with the focus of this one ~ Dawson's back in town, Beth is imprisoned by the DOD, Blake's the worlds #1 asshole, and Katy's relationship with Daemon continues to grow ;). Everyone is enduring their senior year unlike normal teenagers (as much as they try otherwise), as there's the whole issue of Will still being MIA, the DOD constantly monitoring their every move, and Dawson going all spaztic trying to save the love of his life (not that I blame him). 

Daemon and Dee finally have their brother back, but he's not the same... He's half of a person without Beth, and they come face to face with the fact that they have to help Dawson get her back. The group's only option seems to be to do the unbearable ~ trust Blake... He knows the ins and outs of the compound where Beth is being kept, not to mention he's a blackmailing, backstabbing little twerp that leaves them without much of a choice. 

All that jazziness aside, Katy and Daemon's relationship simply melts your heart. They argue and get on each other's last nerve (of course) which is all a part of their charm, but their love for each other outweighs everything. If the sparks were flying before, there are practically explosions in this one ~ something that could be unbelievable frustrating at times... especially because everyone keeps interrupting them... 

They grow together and learn to trust in each other's abilities ~ something Daemon especially needs to work on with his almost smothering overprotectiveness... But it's impossible to stay frustrated with him for long, ego and all. C'mon ~ it's Daemon Black ;). 

Katy has a heavy burden of guilt to carry on her shoulders in this novel. The weight of it all almost seems like too much ~ she has a best friend who refuses to talk to her and she feels responsible for the death and pain that came to a head in the last novel. She's not a fragile little human anymore, though, and she does everything she can, despite her fears, to set things as right as they can be. She's still a bookworm at heart (*love*), but she's grown to move beyond the pages of her beloved stories. Her new, crazy world shouldn't be real, after all, and I admire her courage and strength as she stands up for herself and those she loves.

Everyone goes through changes and evolves in this novel, and it's totally refreshing ~ the author isn't afraid to take chances by flipping the switch on characters or even killing them off... It's not all unicorns and rainbows, and it's a relief to feel the reality, even in a work of fiction.

I've fallen in love with this series, and to be honest, I didn't think the idea of "aliens" would really do it for me. I was so wrong and I'm glad I gave it a shot ~ because now I'm obsessed :). I'm ecstatic to find out that the story doesn't end with the third book ~ YAY! You'd think it would drag on and on and on like some of those series that really should have ended and continue past their prime, but I really don't believe that will be the case with the Lux Series. Look forward to more :).

Five out of five stars from this reader...

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 15, 2012

Review: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Is death the end . . . or only the beginning?

Ethan Wate always dreamed of leaving the stifling Southern town of Gatlin.

But he never dreamt that finding love with Lena Duchannes would drive him away. Lena is a Caster girl whose supernatural powers unveiled a secretive and cursed side of Gatlin, so powerful it forced him to make a terrible sacrifice.

Now Ethan must find a way to return to Lena - and Gatlin - as she vows to do whatever it takes to get him back. Even if it means trusting old enemies or risking their loved ones' lives.

Can Ethan and Lena rewrite their fate and their spellbinding love story in this stunning finale to the Beautiful Creatures series?

The gothic love adventure between Lena Duchannes and Ethan Wate has come an end, and a bittersweet moment it was, turning that last page. I've followed this series for years, and from the very beginning, I've been madly in love the story. The typical southern town, the hidden world of the Casters, the forbidden love between Ethan and Lena... All described epically in poetic fashion... What's not to love?

The first three novels had me reeling... I couldn't get through the pages fast enough, although I never wanted it to end... *sigh* but alas... The finale... It pains me to say that I didn't exactly have the same experience..

I hate, hate, hate that I couldn't love the fourth and final book in this series as much as I adored the first three. It's heartbreaking for me as an avid follower... But it just wasn't there for me, and I'll tell you why..

Ethan's dead ~ but he's not really gone, and he's determined to find his way back to Lena. Usually, when you're dead, you're, well... dead. But Ethan knows the world differently, and he knows that there has to be a way out of the mess he's made of his life.. or death.. you get what I'm saying. And that's what the whole novel is. A long, drawn out journey out of the Otherworld.

Everything in this novel felt different from the others. While I can embrace a change of pace, this one was pretty slow, and I honestly had a difficult time getting through it. There wasn't that action, mystery, or anticipation like there was in the first three novels. No big revelations or major conflicts. Ethan took one careful step at a time in his journey, and he didn't really face any crazy obstacles that were damn near impossible to overcome. Everything pretty much just fell into place for the guy. I was kinda... bored... There. I said it.

One cool thing I would like to mention is the dual point of view. The novel is cut into three "books," and in the second portion, we hear the story from Lena's perspective. I would've adored this new addition, and it is a nice element because of the change, except that Lena and Ethan's voices were pretty much identical. I couldn't tell them apart ~ it was like they were the same person in two different situations... *sigh* again...

I'm a pretty big fan of the bad guys ~ not because I'm on their side, but because they mix it up. They add a menacing texture, and they challenge our heroes. The one's we've become familiar with in the Caster Chronicles reveal their devious faces in this novel as well, but I didn't find them half as scary as I did in the first three novels. They might as well have come in waving a white flag, with all the fight they put up against Ethan, Lena, and Link. It was ridiculous how easily they were defeated. I think that's what irked me the most about this novel. It was such a letdown and completely anticlimactic ~ especially Ethan's little tussle in the end in which he finally achieves his mission ~ the goal that he had worked the entire novel to reach. I was kinda hoping for a twist, something unpredictable but... Yeah, it ended in like three paragraphs and Ethan barely had to lift a finger. The bad guys pretty much took themselves out, the whole way through. Such a waste of evil...

I did like the end ~ it was happy, but not all happily ever after, if that makes sense. It left me warm and fuzzy and it was a nice, closed ending that made you smile.

I hate giving anything less than a stellar review when it comes to this series, but I must be honest.  I didn't get that feeling of complexity and careful planning like I did in the first three novels... It was all just too simple, easy, and predictable... *totally bummed*

I'll give it three out of five stars ~ because I love the series, and Ethan and Lena will always be one of my favorite love stories :)

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 14, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday


The last book that had me grabbing for my box of tissues was The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen. There are so many emotional scenes in this book, I'm having difficulty in finding a place to start... 

Hmmm... Okay... Got it...

Ella is on the floor of her blood-stained bathroom, crying. Her mother took her own life in that room, and Ella hadn't been there since. Micha finds her, and she's a wreck ~ blaming herself for what her unstable mother did. Ella's afraid she might turn out exactly the same way, which is why she runs away... why she wants to become someone else... and Micha says that one perfect thing... "I love you, Ella May and nothing will ever change that. You can push me away - run away - and I will still love you." Pile that beautiful confession on top of a lot of pain, guilt, and suffering, and you have a big ball of raw emotion. Get's me every time.... *sigh*

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 13, 2012

The Ever Popular "Series"

A lot of the books I read are a small piece of the bigger picture. Most of them are series, trilogies, sagas ~ you get the point. I do have a few stand-alone novels, but it's pretty rare.

One of my favorite independent novels, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, recently had some big news. It is going to be.... drum roll please.... a trilogy :).

I can't really even describe how excited I am that this wonderful story will continue on a bit longer. The way Gaughen ended Scarlet, it felt like there should be a sequel ~ there was so much left to be seen, such a fantastic amount of curiosity left over.

BUT it totally could have ended where it did.

So while I'm excited, I'm also a little nervous. Not to doubt Gaughen's mad writing and storytelling skills, but...

I totally went on a thinking rampage, and not even about Scarlet in particular ~ my mind went on and on in general about wonderful first novels that carry a string of sequels... The sequels could embellish the story ~ make it even more beautiful and obsessive-worthy... Or they could be a burden, weighing down that first novel you fell in love with.

Let me put it this way... When you read a novel ~ a novel you really have no clue about except for the GoodReads blurb and maybe a few other readers' reviews ~ you have really no expectations. Let me rephrase that ~ you expect the novel to be as good as it sounds and as other people made it seem (there's a reason you picked it up in the first place), but there's nothing more specific than that..

When we plow through that first novel, we connect with the characters ~ I mean to the point that we laugh, cry, and feel every emotion they are feeling. We become part of the story, enveloping ourselves in that world every time we crack open the pages, and it feels like it becomes a memory of our lives. When readers fall in love with a book, it becomes very personal, as if the story was written for them and them alone.

Readers tend feel... possessive... Otherwise, why would there be angry reviews when a story didn't go exactly the way they'd hoped or ecstatic squeals and virtual "jumping-for-joys" when the books take an unexpected and fabulous twist...

So when we turn the first page of the second novel in a series, our expectations are much higher and much more specific than when we took a chance on that first one. We have hopes for the characters... for their relationships, their triumphs, their failures... We want to get to know them better, and we want it to feel as real as it did before... We want the characters to grow and evolve, but we want them to maintain that recognizable voice that we fell in love with... Not to mention, we need the plot to thicken and get gasp-worthy intense...

There's a lot of pressure on authors that choose to expand their stories into two or more books with three hundred plus pages to fill (give or take). Maybe we aren't doing our jobs as readers ~ reading the book the author wrote rather than filling it in with all the things we would have done with the story... But it's difficult to be objective when it's become so personal to you..

It's one of those things... I want the story to continue ~ I mean, who ever wants a good book to end? ~ but sometimes I feel that authors turn a story into a series just to take it to the bank a couple more times. That, or they seem to get tired of their own characters or lose their passion for the story and rush through the last novel just to get it finished (had that reading experience recently *not-fun*)... It's heartbreaking as a reader...

It's at this point that reading becomes a gamble... "to read or not to read?".... Guess that's a chance I (or we) have to take ~ because there's no way in hell I'm not reading the sequel to a book I fell madly in love with... :)

And it's at this point that I realized my spinning wheels did all that work for nothing...

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

End of the World Giveaway Hop!

As all of you may heard from one fanatic or another, the world is supposed to end ~ according to some ancient Mayan calendar ~ on 12/21/12. I've heard various theories such as super high winds, catastrophic weather, aligning planets (this is a big one lately) and such. Just to give you some info... According to NASA, the planets won't align again for the next few decades, and the last three occurred in 1962, 1982, and 2000 ~ even if the planets did align, "their effects on Earth would be negligible."

So while the world may or may not end this month, it's not out of the realm of possibility for the world as we know it to come to an end one day. War, crumbling economies, revolutions... Things change and they very well drastically could again...

My husband and I talk about this sometimes... What we would do... We always end up in the deep woods of Northern Maine, away from other people, with lots of guns and ammunition... My hunny could survive anywhere ~ he used to teach it and live it, so I know we'd be okay...

Except for the lack of books ~ which brings me to our giveaway...

Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

If you had to escape your home in order to avert certain demise, a book about survival would probably be best... I don't have any nonfiction books on my shelf, so fictional characters overcoming a wasteland will have to do.. Under the Never Sky offers just that... then there's the entertainment factor, which can never be underestimated when your whole world is turned upside down... A little fun might keep you leveled...

Anyway... In case the world does end, I'm giving away a copy of Veronica Rossi's dystopian novel as a part of the End of the World Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and My Life With Books.

Get clickin' :)

P.S. This giveaway is international, because hey, the world would end everywhere, not just in the U.S. :)

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Thanks for entering!!! Now keep scrolling to find other participating blogs and dozens of fabulous giveaways!

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading. The name says it all ~ post a teaser of one of you're current books so we can get a glimpse into your reading shenanigans.

Mine is from Opal by Jennifer Armentrout:

Walking away from Daemon was the hardest thing I'd done. Made worse by the fact he didn't try to stop me, because that wasn't his style, but deep down, in a place that spoke only the truth, I hadn't expected him to.

One day soon, I'll get back to my lengthy Tuesday Preludes. Lately, though, it's been one thing after another... So it goes with life.

What do ya got to tease me with?

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 9, 2012

Review: The Secret of Ella and Micha

Ella and Micha have been best friends since they were kids. But one tragic night shatters their friendship and their lives forever.

Ella used to be a rule-breaker with fiery attitude who wore her heart on her sleeve. But she left everything behind when she went to college and transformed into someone that follows the rules, keeps everything together, and hides all her problems. But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home.

Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. If Micha tries to tempt the old her back, she knows that it will be hard to resist.

Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella’s skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he’s determined to bring his best friend, and the girl he loves back, no matter what it takes.

I'm a little late in posting this review due to a family emergency ~ so sorry! Honestly, I couldn't wait to spread the word about this book ~ it's so freakin' beautiful :)

Ella is this tough, mouthy, adrenaline-junkie of a girl from a not-so-great-neighborhood. She doesn't take crap from anyone but she also has a heart of gold ~ a combination that caused her best friend, Micha, to fall in love with her. She's wrestling some demons though, and instead of facing them, she runs from them and buries them deep within herself, pretending to be someone else entirely. Ella wears this thick mask, and she's determined not to let anyone see what lies beneath it ... But the thing is, she's never been good at hiding what she's feeling, and Micha can see right through her....

I loved Ella. She's not whiny and helpless, and when she does cry, she's got a damn good reason. She's had to put up with more than any teenager should, but she's stronger than she thinks.

And Micha *swoon* is amazing. He's kinda half bad-boy, half good-guy ~ killer combination. I knew I was a fan of tattoos, but I never thought I'd grin at the idea of a lip ring ;). He's compassionate and gentle with Ella's feelings ~ for the most part ~ but he's also not afraid to say how he feels. Micha's got plenty of issues of his own, but he's willing to face them if that means he'll be stronger for Ella.

Even when Ella's afraid of her feelings for Micha, their relationship is beautiful. It's the one thing that saves them both. It's not possessive or clingy in any way, like so many of the young adult relationships we read about today. Ella and Micha give each other space to think, to process, and to follow their individual dreams. There's a wonderful independence in each of them even as they hold onto each other. They love unconditionally and no amount of distance or time will change that.

I absolutely adored this book and will certainly be reading the next in the series. I read most of it in one sitting, reluctantly putting it down to get back to my life. I would totally recommend :)

Five out of Five stars!

:about the author:

I live in Wyoming with my husband and three kids, where I spend most of my time writing, reading, and hanging out with my family. I’m the author of the Fallen Star Series, the Darkness Falls Series, and the Death Collectors. I also just branched out to the New Adult Contemporary genre with my book, The Secret of Ella and Micha.

Visit Jessica via
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Shadow Slayer Tour Stop

Roxie has the best night of her life until the popular kids decide they want to celebrate her birthday in a way Roxie never expects––in her attic, with a gift that’s out of this world, and a pact to never tell a living soul what happens next.

Twelve-year-old Roxie wants to be like Adrianne, the popular girl who gets everything she wants––a flock to prowl around the mall with; invitations to parties; and for Hayden, the cutest guy in the eighth grade to, you know, notice her. When Roxie invites all the eighth grade peacocks (code word : popular kids) to her first ever thirteenth birthday party on Halloween, they all come and give her a gift that’s literally out of this world. Roxie astral projects to Planet Popular where she becomes seventeen instantly and gets everything she’s always wanted, but nothing is as it seems. Being a high school peacock is complicated and Roxie will risk everything to be who she thinks she wants to be. Oh yeah, there’s Prom, doppelgangers, a mysterious map, and lots of bad peacocks too.

Shadows will do anything to become human. You see their influence everyday. You say things you don’t mean or do things that aren’t like you. You look, different. Friends you’ve known forever suddenly never call.

As a freshman, Roxie just wants to fit in which is impossible because she barely runs into her friends at her huge high school. Adrianne’s disappearance and Hayden’s attention rock Roxie’s world. But nothing rocks it like the most gorgeous guy at school, Drew. And nothing is more important to Roxie than astral projecting back to Planet Popular to solve the mystery of the map. But that changes when Drew invites Roxie to Homecoming. Hayden warns her that something’s wrong. Why would a guy like Drew like Roxie anyway? Drew must want something. Hayden’s right. Drew is...different. Planet Popular was just the beginning. Part of a bigger world, the Shadow World. There’s a war brewing between the world of humans and the world of shadows. When the shadow invasion begins at Roxie’s high school, she’ll not only fight for her life but the lives of her family and friends, when she discovers she’s the Shadow Slayer, the one human who can save Earth from the shadow onslaught. But, Roxie can’t even kill a spider. Oh yeah, there’s an evil English teacher, an enchanted play, a sword of Sandonian steel, a homecoming of horrors, and seven magic words too.

These two books are fun and quick to read. Roxie is a typical preteen trying to figure out who she is - she's not quite a child anymore, but she doesn't feel all that grown up. She's constantly worried about her social status, as if every move she makes right now will determine the course of the rest of her life. Ahhh, to be in high school again... Nothing outside of it exists when you're a teenager, and this is something that Roxie struggles with.

In 13 on Halloween, Roxie feels so young. She compares every emotion and personality type to an animal, which feels like another language at first. She tries to convince herself not to care about her popularity, but deep down, all she wants is to be the center of attention. She's constantly at war with herself, not really knowing what she wants - to be independent and carefree or to be popular.

In Shadow Slayer, Roxie matures, and it's nice to see her grow and find more pieces of herself. She still struggles with her self-esteem and is always worrying about what others will see when they look at her. Everything and everyone around her is changing, and at times she feels completely alone. Her best friend has pretty much turned her back on her and dreams of Hayden go up in smoke. Perfect "tens" do exist - the proof lies in Drew, and Roxie even tries out for a play.

But Drew, the hottie who becomes Roxie's perfect-ten boyfriend, is a little too perfect. Could he really just want to be with Roxie or does he have other motives?

After her first few weeks of school, Roxie should have known she wouldn't get the "boring" year she had hoped for. She learns of her true identity, changing not only her Freshman year, but her life forever. The shadows are coming out to play, and it's her responsibility to keep humans safe.

She's got a lot on her plate for a fourteen-year-old. As if starting high school wasn't enough drama to deal with, now Roxie's got the fate of everyone around her in her hands.

At first, I couldn't take Roxie seriously, but she's one of those characters that grows on you. I had to put myself in her shoes and stretch myself back to when I was a freshman in high school and all the emotions that were going through me at the time. Roxie handles herself pretty well.

This is a great series for young adults. Clean, fun, and super action-packed.

Four out of five stars from this reader :)

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:about the author:

I love writing about enchanted road trips, shadow worlds, and alien romance while eating lots of popcorn. I live with my hubby and Oso, our aussie shepherd, in our tree house on the central California coast. After twenty-plus years as a freelance graphic designer/animator with clients including E! Entertainment Television and The Los Angeles Times, I crossed over into the world of publishing non-fiction and followed my heart to the world of fiction. Check out my other books at Laurasmagicday.wordpress.com or find me on Facebook or @Laurawriting!

Buy Shadow Slayer on Amazon
Download 13 on Halloween FREE on Amazon

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 8, 2012

End of the World Giveaway Hop

*Sigh* The end is near... At least that's what everyone's saying... I find it funny that the world is going bonkers over an ancient calendar, but I guess everyone loves a good conspiracy...

As a toast to the Mayans and their ability to freak us all out, I Am a Reader, Not a Writer & My Life With Books is hosting an End of the World Giveaway Hop.

So I want to ask you - if the world were ending, what book would you hastily grab on your way to find safety from your imminent demise?

Morbid, yes, but you have to admit it makes you think reallllly hard about those books sitting cozily on your shelf. It would be nice to say "no book left behind," but c'mon, that's just not practical.

As for myself, I'd grab some kind of dystopian novel that would give me tips on what to do and what not to do if the world as we know it changed for worse. Or something to read that would pump me up, allowing me to believe I can be as kick-butt as the characters. Something like Blood Red Road, The Hunger Games, or Divergent. Yeah, those would be my top three if I had a split second to think about it. From there, it would depend on which book was the quickest to grab.

What about y'all? See, this giveaway starts in about a week, so I wanna get some ideas from you.

Let me know :)

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

WinterHaven Sleigh Tour

Well, well, well... This should be fun :) Today I am jumping on board the WinterHaven Sleigh Tour hosted by WinterHaven Books. This week, I am posting a review of Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans.

"There are stories, Christmas stories that are stored away like boxes of garlands and frosted glass ornaments, to be brought out and cherished each year. I've come to believe that my story is a Christmas story. For it has forever changed the way I see Christmas."
The Christmas season is supposed to be full of joy, but not for Mark Smart. Life had dealt him one blow after another until one snowy November night, when he finds a beautiful young woman who will change his life forever. Macy Wood has little memory of her birth parents, and memories she'd rather forget of her adopted home. A Christmas ornament inscribed with the word "Noel" is the only clue to the little sister she only vaguely remembers, a clue that will send her and Mark on a journey to reclaim her past, and her family.

Finding Noel was a quick and easy read in general. It tugs at your heartstrings, leaving you a tad bit misty-eyed. This book isn't really completely warm and fuzzy like you'd expect a Christmas book to be. The characters face several painful obstacles throughout their entire lives, experiencing moments when they almost give up and times when their downfalls build strength.

The only thing that gets them through their weakest moments are the kindness of others. Sometimes you just can't carry all the burden by yourself, and that's when an angel appears. In Mark's case, Macy is his angel, and she alters the course of what could have been a very short life for him.

Macy is a pillar of strength. Not to sound cliche, but that girl seems to handle anything thrown at her and come out okay - for the most part - on the other side. After hearing her story, I'm surprised she didn't end up in a ditch or a rehab center. She had a little help along the way, but Macy's most admirable quality is her determination to do the right thing. She never allows the world around her to harden her heart and she won't let it break her.

Mark is alright. I didn't really feel much for the guy - he was kinda generic. I felt like he was there only to compare to Macy and help her along her journey. His story has some twists and turns, but it definitely takes a back burner to Macy's.

Characters aside, the story itself is unique in regards to Christmas. Mark views it differently than I've ever heard it. He says:
"And perhaps after all the songs and poems and stories of the season, Christmas is really no more than that - humanity's searching for the familiar. Every year we bring out the same songs, partake of the same foods and traditions, and share the things that make us feel that there's someplace we belong. And in the end all any of us are looking for is home."
It's an interesting way of looking at it, especially because that's what Macy is looking for throughout the entire novel. Her sister, Noel, who is the only blood family she really has left, is out there somewhere according to Macy's vague memories and an ornament with Noel's name inscribed in the red paint.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It's not something I would usually pick up - I'm not typically a fan of Christmas novels - but this one was unique and felt genuine.

I'd recommend :).

Happy Reading Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

Dec 7, 2012


I've been MIA for the better part of a week... My husband's Great Uncle Johnny ~ or as he calls him, his Grandfather ~ passed away, and we rushed down to Texas as soon as we got the call.

I only knew Johnny for a few years, but he was one of those guys that immediately finds a warm, cozy place in your heart. He had a knee slapping, contagious laugh, and I had never once seen him without a smile on his face and a hug waiting for you.

The world's worse off without him here, but, on the other hand, we have a wonderful angel watching over us.


Dec 1, 2012


Well, I didn't reach my goal this year of 50,000 words, but I got pretty darn close. What does that mean to me? That I can definitely pull it off next year by managing my time a little better. SO much happened this month, I don't even know where to start. Between writing and working, my husband trying to talk while I write and two furry children's cold noses nudging my arms. It was crazy. But throw in a holiday and family visiting every weekend... I'm amazed I made it as far as I did. 

I'm not trying to make excuses. Trust me. Now that I look back on this month, I see where I could have squeezed in a paragraph here or a few pages there. It's a work in progress and you learn as you go. Next year I'll nip this in the butt and cross off my list of "things I want to accomplish." 

What did I learn? A whole helluva lot. I've tried to start writing, but my inner critic usually gets the best of me with that negative voice saying "that's crap," and I typically end up highlighting and deleting and ending up with the blank page I started with. Not this time.

NaNo taught me to just write. To give your inner editor the cold shoulder and just get those fingers flying across the keyboard. That's what proved to be the most difficult, but I've finally learned how to just keep plowing forward and let my imagination do the rest. 

I learned that I surprise myself. When I'm reading, I can't help but wonder how the author came up with that or how they created these characters that are so easy to fall in love with. It may be different for everyone, but for me, I think that once you get to know your characters and the story, the rest just kinda flows over.

In all my previous attempts at writing, I've never experienced that moment where the characters and the story takes over and things just pop up on the screen and you wonder "did I write that, or did they?" It's the most amazing and astounding thing, and I'll read it back over a few days later completely shocked that that came from my mind. I guess I didn't think I was capable. 

Now, instead of wondering how in the heck I'm going to get started on my novel, I'm rushing home from my day job because I can't wait to continue working on it.

Although I didn't accomplish my goal according to the numbers, I don't feel like I failed. I don't feel lost in my own little world anymore because I know I can now put it down on paper. NaNo helped me find the confidence to know that I am capable of creating a story, inventing characters, and just writing

Probably one of the best things I've ever done was sign up for this crazy month of writing, despite my fear. I've learned so much, and will, without a doubt, be back in the running for next year.

Happy Reading (and Writing) Everyone :)

~ Keely ~