GIVEAWAY: Twenty Boy Summer

According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

So I know I JUST finished reading this book, but because I loved it ever so much (check out my review here), I’m having another giveaway!! To enter, please fill out the below form AND leave me a comment on this post answering the question: What was your favorite place to vacation? Or, where would you like to go on your dream vacation?

Contest ends November 11th. One winner will be selected at random. US/CAN only.

Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It’s a banned book…so automatic appeal there.

Synopsis:According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Review: I have to really compose myself before writing this review because “Twenty Boy Summer” really impacted me. And I’m not ashamed to admit that – even being like 13 years older than the target audience. Sarah Ockler really blew me away with her story about love, loss, and that kinda awkward time that being a teen girl is really all about.

On the day of her 15th birthday, Anna’s wish comes true and she gets kissed by Matt – a close friend and also the brother of her best friend, Frankie. The kiss turns into many more as Matt and Anna steal moments of urgency that can only be associated with first lust. The intensity of their moments is conveyed in a way that made me really feel that rush of desire and innocent love. Instead of telling Frankie about their new connection, Anna and Matt decide to keep a secret – for fear of how she will take it. Matt, as Frankie’s brother, decides that he will be the one to tell her during their annual summer vacation to California. With that, he makes Anna promise that she won’t say a word beforehand. Before the secret relationship can be revealed, an accident happens and Matt does not survive. Anna decides to keep her last promise to him and does not reveal her secret to Frankie.

The book really picks up about  a year after the tragedy when Frankie and Anna are getting ready for summer vacation. This year, Anna is accompanying Frankie and her parents to California, and both girls vow to have the best summer ever –  a summer filled with twenty boys, one of whom Anna plans to lose her virginity to. Frankie, the more “advanced” of the two girls orchestrates the plan and puts it into motion, while Anna is more just along for the ride.

What really makes the book is Ockler’s impeccable writing and how she is able to put descriptive words to the exact emotions,  sense of loss,  and of  the not-belonging that teenagers face – especially teenage girls. One of my favorite lines in the book is:

“Tonight, when Frankie sits at the table and innocently knocks over her glass of Diet Coke, Aunt Jayne starts to cry, and the translucent veil of general okayness evaporates to reveal the honest, ugly parts underneath.”

I just cannot gush enough about how well-written this book was. It really brought be back to having similar emotions and experiences, in that sort of cusp of womanhood when you’re starting to realize the power of your sexuality and the impact of lust. I can see why this book ends up on Banned Books lists, but I really don’t think it should. The lessons it teaches far outweigh the implications that it makes. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone who currently is, or has ever been, a teenage girl.

Another Giveaway @Stuck in YA Blog

And in light of all this giveaway madness, I just HAD to post about this huge giveaway that is currently going on at a blog I follow – Stuck in YA.

Please check out this link for an opportunity to win SEVEN YA titles.

Pretty awesome, no?

Zompacolypse 2011 Trick-or-Treat Hop! Winner

Paranormal Wastelands

And we have a winner!!

Congrats to AmyS., who commented that they would be dressing up as a zombie this year. Awesome costume choice! Zombies never go out of style. Amy, please check your email for further information. If I do not hear back in the next 72-hours, a new winner will be chose.

Thank you everyone who participated. This Halloween Hop has been really fun and I look forward to hosting more book-related giveaways in the very near future. Stay tuned!

Zompacolypse 2011 Trick-or-Treat Hop!

Paranormal Wastelands

I just love LOVE Halloween and especially love all the events that always occur around the book blogosphere during this time. With that being said, I am READY to host my first ever giveaway. It is US/Canada ONLY. Ends at midnight, November 1st.

Continue reading to enter to win a paperback of Richelle Mead’s “Succubus Blues,” the first book in her best-selling Georgia Kincaid series.

Continue reading

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Chick Lit, Southern Lit
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: I generally really enjoy Southern Lit, and this was a bargain buy from Amazon.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Review: There is something about a book that is oozing with Southern charm that I can’t deny. Maybe it’s the foreign-ness of that kind of society that never fails to draw me in, or maybe it’s the rich descriptions of a slower kind of life, spent sipping sweet tea on a covered porch. Whatever it may be, when I saw “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt,” in the bargain section at Amazon, I knew I just had to read it.

The book is often compared to “Secret Life of Bees,” which was darling and definitely fit the “Southern Lit” criteria. Both protagonists are young women who are on the cusp of adulthood and discover much about life and family after spending a summer down in the South with very strong female role models.  In CeeCee’s world, these women are from all walks of life and of all different races.  As we follow CeeCee on her journey into acceptance with who is she and who her mother was, these women play an enormous role in getting her to that point.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was Hoffman’s writing. Her descriptions were so rich and sweet! I really regret not tabbing the pages that had these right lines on them, so that I could go back to them later and just re-absorb the wonderful sentences.

Hoffman really did a great job of balancing the different relationships in the book, without making any of the many characters “one note.” Each woman in the book can hold her own and I’d be interested to learn more about them all. My favorite was the lovable character of Oletta, who is the housekeeper in CeeCee’s new home. With her as one of the primary character, the very real subject matter of  racial tension was touched upon, but in a way as to not overtake the core of the story – which was about the growth of a young girl.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of other books such as “The Help.” It was a short and sweet read that stuck with me.

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razor Bill
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Loved the cover and wanted a more “Halloween”-ish read.

Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: Even before I heard of “The Replacement,” I was intrigued by Brenna Yovanoff after reading about her upcoming book “The Space Between.” After seeing the cover for “The Replacement,” I knew I had to read it and what better time to do so than during the Halloween season?

The story centers on Mackie, who is a replacement (changeling – the baby of two mystical creatures like faeries or goblins). Although left in the crib to a new family, Mackie is embraced by his human family and loved as if he was their born son. Their love, though, cannot stop Mackie from feeling as if he doesn’t belong. It also cannot stop him from slowly dying in the human world.

While the theme of love and family is strong in this book, it never comes across as cheesy or pandering to the YA-set. The bonds between Mackie, his parents, and his sister, feel natural. It’s a kind of relief to read a story where there is a positive relationship between the protagonist and those forces in his life. I especially loved Emma, Mackie’s sister – who is thoughtful and protective of her special younger brother, yet does so in an authentic way that mirrors an actual relationship between two siblings.

The other strong theme of “coming of age” has a darker twist to it, due to Mackie’s background and the conflicts contained in the book, but it still…works. He’s easy to relate to and seemed to me more of a tragic figure than most other heroes in YA books. The other plus is that I did not find him at all annoying, which tends to happen sometimes when I read YA (a tell-tale sign I am old)!

Although it can be dark at times, “The Replacement” doesn’t lack funny moments, and is brimming with positive relationships.   Due to some sexual descriptiveness and language, this may be better for the 15+ set but – as I am a prime example of – really has appeal across the age pool. I loved this book and now am even more excited to Brenna Yovanoff’s “The Space Between.”