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Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

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This book was a hard one for me to read and it's hard for me to review because it has such a personal meaning for me. I was a victim of bullying when I was in middle/high school and a good friend of mine committed suicide because of the bullying he received.It's a terribly cruel world we live in now and this book really delves into the world of bullying. I like how the author has case studies and even has a chapter where she talks to someone who is a "bully" and gets their side of the story.I loved the distinction between bullying and being "mean." I also enjoyed seeing her take on what kind of solutions we could have to curb bullying. Overall, a fantastic and insightful book on bullying.
The Map of Lost Memories: A Novel

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Ahh! It's like Indiana Jones...female style! I was super excited to start this novel and I have to say, I was not one bit disappointed. I loved the time period this book was set in and I was astounding with the amount of background, history and life Fay injects into this novel. I appreciated being placed into a foreign setting written as beautifully as Fay describes Cambodia and Southeast Asia. I loved the character development, the journey, the experiences that Irene experiences.Overall, I'm way impressed with this novel and I look forward to reading more from the author!
The After Wife: A Novel

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The After Wife by GiGi Levangie Grazer was a different sort of book for me. I'm not sure why, but I've strayed from the whole chick-lit, women's fic type of books lately. This was a nice jump back into the genre pool though.While this novel isn't going down as a classic or anything, it was well-written and Hannah is pretty funny. She reminds me of one of my friends and I loved seeing her personality throughout the novel. The whole "I-see-dead-people" bit was kind of surprise I liked. It added a bit of unpredictability to the text that sets it a notch above other chick-lit novels. The ups, downs, zippy one-liners and journey of self-discovery is what makes this book a pleasant read. I recommend it for any chick-lit/women's fiction lovers!
The Future of Us

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This was a pretty quick and enjoyable read with a very interesting concept. I love that what we perceive as normal now (Facebook) would be totally weird back in the 90's. And what would you do if you logged onto an ancient computer (although its not ancient to Emma and Josh in the book) and saw this website that was full of your future? Crazy, right?The Good: I thought for the development of the characters, Asher and Macker did a great job of nailing teenagers in the 90's. They are characteristically on track for what is *real* life teenagers. They are perfectly angsty, whiny, lustful, all full of expectations and dreams. I thought the character building was great. Like I said earlier, I also loved the plot and themes of this crazy technology showing us our future. Josh and Emma understandably want to both change and not change things about the future and that's just human nature! The writing was easy and quick to read and I enjoyed that the pov's changed between Josh and Emma. You could tell that it was two different authors writing two very different characters.The Bad: While the writing was good (but not great), I did feel like it was a bit on the younger side. That kind of took away from the story a little bit. I was also disappointed in the relationships and apparent "love" between Josh and Emma. Even the secondary characters Tyson and Kellan (LOVE the name btw) were lacking....romance or chemistry. It all felt very blah for me when it came to the love/dating aspect. I also think things worked out a little too easily for Josh and Emma's conflict. Asher and Mackler started out with this really fantastical idea, but it was followed through all the way. There were so many more aspects to explore.Overall though, this book was entertaining and enjoyable. Recommended for the younger set and maybe those who are nostalgic for the 90's and pop culture references. I give it a B!
Beautiful Disaster: A Novel

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Okay. I have a lot to say about this book and I felt like after I read this book, I was letting so many other blogger's opinions of the novel get to me so I decided to close Goodreads and just write my damn review. I've always prided myself on giving honest and truthful reviews no matter what other people say/think. This book garnered A LOT of controversy and flack and I can see why but I will also sit here and defend my opinion of this novel because you know what? I freaking loved it. I loved this book. First of all, this book reminded me of the show Intervention or Hoarders...the people on those shows are complete and utter train wrecks. Hot messes. Totally unable to understand why they do what they do. But I still watch it. Each and every time. I even ENJOY and look forward to watching these train wrecks. Why? I don't know. I just do. I'm guessing I'm not the only one either, otherwise the shows would be off the air. Anyways, Beautiful Disaster is kind of like those shows. Abby and Travis are train wrecks themselves. They have unhealthy personality traits and an unhealthy relationship. But the thing is...I've been there. I've seen it. And I've also seen it work out for the better like it does in this book. In my opinion, a lot of the "reasons" people didn't like this book so much has me scratching my head. A lot of people call Travis abusive and I straight up disagree. I've seen firsthand what an abusive relationship is, and I do not feel that Travis is abusive to Abby in the least bit. Does he have some anger/obsessive personality traits? Yes. But he doesn't hit her, he doesn't call her a bitch or a skank or verbally abuse her. He just doesn't always communicate his feelings in the most appropriate ways... and you know what? Neither do I. Neither do a lot of people. It doesn't mean they are abusive people. The other thing that has me scratching my head is that people are getting SO UPSET over Travis and Abby's relationship when I can think of a hundred other books that make me cringe with the way they portray the relationship. 50 Shade of Grey? That is NOT a healthy relationship but instead of beating it to a pulp, people are eating it up! Twilight...ugh... don't even get me started. I'd much rather have a protagonist like Abby, who is smart, witty and stands up for herself than a character like Bella Swan. But the thing people are also forgetting is that in this book, Travis and Abby's relationship DOESN'T work until they figure out who they are separately and how to fix what's broken in them. When they are able to face their own demons, the become the very best of themselves and then the relationship is able to prosper. Which I think is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Everyone always says pessimistically, "people never change," but I disagree. Sometimes, when it's with the right person and for the right reasons, people can and will change.Okay, now that I got that part out of the way, the other reasons why I love this book.... I thought that ALL characters were fabulous and I thought they all broke down the stereotype that I initially thought they'd all be in. Abby is a "good" girl, smart, driven and yet... she has a troubled past, she's a smart ass and even she is not without temptation to the badass hotties. Travis is the tattooed fighter that has an enormous ego...yet he's smart and affectionate and has a vulnerability that is adorable. America...oh, America. She is the best friend every person should have. Loyal to a fault, protective and yet just brave enough to encourage her friend to do some stupid things. But it's in the little details that make me love America. A couple of her off-hand comments that make me feel like she and Abby have an incredibly close friendship. I even like Shepley, who reminds me so much of one of my friends. I liked the premise of the novel, though I found that to be secondary to my attachment to the characters. Was it a little unrealistic? Yeah. Did I care? Nope. I've been reading for so long that I'm the type of reader that is able to suspend belief, even in a contemporary novel, if A. I like the characters and the plot enough and B. if it was written well enough. In my opinion, McGuire did both of these things, so the unrealistic parts didn't bother me. Actually, I kind of enjoyed it because I thought it put a twist on Abby's story and made her seem that much more interesting. One last thing. I know a lot of people were annoyed with Travis's pet name for Abby... but I loved it. I actually ADORED it. Maybe that's because in my relationship and close friendships with people, I have a rather unorthodox/silly/stupid nickname that seems ridiculous to the rest of the world but to those that are involved...it shows me how much I mean to them.Honestly, the only thing that REALLY bothered me in this entire story is that McGuire used a lot of unnecessary dialogue attributions and she said so and so "laughed once," about a million times within the book and it annoyed the crap out of me. That was my only minor nitpick. Overall, I loved this book. I read it in less than 8 hours and relished every moment with the cast. Obviously, just by seeing the Goodreads reviews, this book is not for everyone and honestly, I don't even know how to recommend it since so many different people seem to either love or hate it. So I guess my advice is... proceed with caution BUT don't ruin your judgement of the book by reading all the one or five star reviews. Find out for yourself. If I had followed some of my fellow bloggers instead of my own heart, I would have never picked up this book and that would have been a really sad thing.
The Night Circus

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This book has been one of the biggest talked about books this year and I couldn't WAIT to get my hands on it. I'm always nervous about reading a book with so much hype about it but this one did NOT disappoint!The Good: Where to even start?! First of all if the concept, characters and plot wasn't enough the language. Oh my god, the language. One of the most beautifully written novels I've read in a VERY long time. You would think this is Morgenstern's tenth novel...not her first. I am usually the type of reader who flies through books, because I can. And I'm a fast reader. But with The Night Circus, I took my sweet time reading it because I was literally savoring the sentences. Some of the sentences were like delicious, moist steaks dripping with literary juice. Yum. The setting is tremendously amazing. We've all read books about the circus no? Well this setting is beyond the circus... the circus is EVERYTHING. It's a completely beautiful, crazy world for the characters. I love every stinking inch of that damn circus. Had I been a character in the novel, I would have been decked out in red and called a Rêveur. (In the book that is someone who adores the circus and follows it around like a groupie and then writes reviews on it. So basically a blogger in circus land.) I know that some people had a hard time becoming invested in Marco and Celia's love affair but it came easily to me. I found them delightfully lovely and completely in love. Their love for each other was splendid and I love the fact that their relationship is doomed from the very beginning, an inevitable escape. But they find a way to cheat the system. I love that. I also loved SO many of the other characters. Bailey, Poppet and Widget. I love Herr Theisen and so many others. Have I not convinced you yet? Luckily, I have more good things to say about the book. Not only is the writing beautiful, but the comedic timing is perfect. There are seriously some lines that I laughed out loud at. There is quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek references and I find it very sneaky and very craftily done. Also the dialogue in the book is some of the best dialogue I've seen in a novel. I felt like I was watching a movie of the characters interacting rather than reading it. It was so easy to imagine the scene right in front of my eyes...which is why I'm not surprised that the movie rights have already sold to Summit and it will be made in a movie. I have no doubt that it will translate beautifully to the big screen. Morgenstern did awesome with her villains. They were creepy in that I-can't-believe-they-are-acting-and-saying-that kind of way. Morgenstern was able to capture the essence of being evil without having to make her characters into literally monsters, ghosts etc. I nearly tore my hair out when I was only several pages from the ending because I just did NOT want it to end. I wanted to live in the circus forever. Perhaps that is why my dream the night I finished the book contained vivid images of a black and white themed circus. The Bad: Really, I have nothing bad to say about this book! Overall, this book has shot to the top of my favorites and I highly recommend it. I know it's not going to be a book for everyone and I'm sure there are many people who will disagree with my view of the book but I cannot contain my love of this novel! A+!!
Tangled Tides: The Sea Monster Memoirs, #1

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So I started this book like a day before November and then all the craziness of November happened and even though it called my name several times, I had to ignore it otherwise I knew I'd get nothing done! So the minute I felt relieved of my November chores, I opened this bad boy up and delved into Karen's AMAZING world of mermaids, sirens, selkies and gorgons. I know, you're a little confused by that sentence but it's okay...read the book and you won't be!The Good: Oh my word, what an amazing world Karen has built in this novel. I love the setting descriptions and the introductions to all of the water species. I thought Karen did such an incredible job setting up this fantastical (but honestly, kind of believable) world that involve mermaid's smoking C-weed and half man/half seal's who drink blood. It's a crazy, trippy ride under the water in Tangled Tides, but what a fun ride it is. Yara, the main character is feisty and sarcastic and I really love her. She's that type of character you root for from the very beginning. She demands loyalty, and loyalty she gets. Don't get me started on the men in this novel. I wasn't hip on Rownan until I learned a little bit more about his past and then I understood his actions and demeanor but Treygan on the other hand. Yum. He's probably the sexiest merman I've ever envisioned. I love all the other crazy cast of characters too. Pango and Merrick, the gay merman couple, Delmar, the beefy but sentimental best friend of Treygan, Koraline (who I really hope to see more of in the next set of books!) and even Nixie tugged at my heartstrings a little bit! I thought the romance in the story was great and I loved that it wasn't insta-love and I absolutely love that Yara's ability to believe so strongly in love ends up saving everyone. It's such a beautiful notion...even for a cynic like myself. This was an incredible debut from Karen!The Bad: There was only one thing that bothered me a little bit about the novel and that was the use of some of the slang words that happen in "real" life that seemed very out of place and jilted the story for me. Like the word "hella" that I saw a couple times. To me, it just made that piece of dialogue so much weaker than it could have been if those slang words weren't in there. But that's being nit picky. Overall, I thought this book was FANTASTIC and highly recommended. I give it an A!!!
Ashen Winter

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AHHH! That was me after getting approved to read Ashen Winter on Netgalley. Last fall, I read and fell in love with Mike Mullin's first novel, Ashfall. I adored him AND his novel! I couldn't wait for this one to come out and I was hoping and praying that I would be approved to read it. I was NOT disappointed! It was just as good if not better then the first one.Well, when I say this novel started off with a bang...I mean it. Literally. There's no shortage of action in this novel and I LOVE that. Alex and Darla seem to be drawn to danger and even though they faced plenty of it in Ashfall, the things they encounter in Ashen Winter are just as bad. I really enjoyed watching the progression of Alex's personality through Ashfall and I loved that Mullin continued his growth yet solidified his character throughout Ashen Winter. I think one of things that impressed me the most was that Alex's TRUE nature, beliefs and values stay in tact. He does what he has to get to his parents, to Darla and to escape but he still genuinely believes in right versus wrong. The passage when he confronts his father about some things made me feel incredibly proud of Alex. He stood up like a real man, who believed in the darkest hour, a man should stand for something. The horrors are plentiful in this novel, which of course I LOVE! Mullin doesn't shy away from the gory and often times horrifying situations that actually COULD happen if a volcano erupted. He so accurately makes a statement (whether or not it was intentional, I don't know) about government choices and disasters. The government is as corrupt as the cannibals in this novel and I totally think that could happen in real life. People in power when the rest of the world is in turmoil is NOT a good combo. I think Darla and Alex's relationship with each other is perfectly portrayed. They have a mature relationship due to the nature of their lives post supervalcano and yet they still have the playful and naive teenage aspect. Hormones are still raging, that doesn't quit even when a natural disaster strikes! I love that the pace is quick and continually in motion. I read this book very quickly and would have finished it in one night if it hadn't of been for my day job! I also enjoyed the new characters that joined the gang as well as the old. Rita Mae-the librarian from book one is back and she is AWESOME! We also have Alyssa and Ben who are new to us, but I have a feeling they'll become more important in the next book. Ben has Autism and he is a source of great comic relief in the novel. Mullin did a great job of his portrayal without going overboard. We got enough information to deduce that he mostly like had Autism, but the confirmation was nice too. The cliff hanger at the end made me scream of course. I already can't wait for the next book. I'm so happy to say that knowing Mike Mullins personally made my enjoyment of these novels so much better. He's truly an inspiration and I'm glad that his writing dreams are coming true!Overall, I really ENJOYED this novel and I think it's actually even better then the first. Lots of action, lots of attachments to characters. This is a great roller coaster ride! I give it an A!
The One I Left Behind: A Novel

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I love the cover of this novel and was super excited to read it after reading the blurb. This book was like a rollercoaster for me... there were a lot of ups and a lot of downs but overall, I enjoyed this suspenseful novel of twists and turn. There's always a darkness to McMahon's writing and I actually love it. It ripples underneath the surface of the plot until the very end when it erupts and you realize, "crap! That's what I was feeling the whole time." It sneaks up on you and you realize her writing is. just. that. good. There were some areas that could have been improved...I wasn't fond of the main characters...I felt they could have been developed more. I also thought some of the twists and turns were a little on the predictable side. But overall, I really enjoyed this one!
The Promise of Stardust: A Novel

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OMG. This novel. It broke.my.heart. It's like a mixture of Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks and the writing is fabulous.I felt so many things while reading this novel and it reminded me of why I'm such an avid reader. This is the type of book I live for. The ones where I have to stay up late reading under the covers, or grab a few more spare minutes. This novel is fast-paced, character driven though completely predictable. It presents an ethical dilemma that forces the reader to think through the issue as if they were the one in the situation. This is my first Priscille Sibley novel but I'm such a fan now.
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