Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Cold Fury

Author: T.M. Goeglein
Series: Cold Fury #1
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Pages: 313
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: Sara Jane Rispoli is a normal sixteen-year-old coping with school and a budding romance--until her parents and brother are kidnapped and she discovers her family is deeply embedded in the Chicago Outfit (aka the mob).

Now on the run from a masked assassin, rogue cops and her turncoat uncle, Sara Jane is chased and attacked at every turn, fighting back with cold fury as she searches for her family. It's a quest that takes her through concealed doors and forgotten speakeasies--a city hiding in plain sight. Though armed with a .45 and 96K in cash, an old tattered notebook might be her best defense--hidden in its pages the secret to "ultimate power." It's why she's being pursued, why her family was taken, and could be the key to saving all of their lives.

Action packed, with fresh, cinematic writing, Cold Fury is a riveting and imaginative adventure readers will devour.

LC's Take:

Cold Fury was a book that I was really interested in reading because it sounded pretty much like nothing I had ever read before-- and let's be honest, it isn't very often that you see the Mafia coming up as a genre in YA fiction! So I knew that I had to give this one a try, especially since it looked like it was going to be an action-packed thriller that would be keeping me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end...

Now, don't get me wrong-- I did enjoy reading this one. However, I can't say that it turned out to be *quite* the crazy adrenaline-rush that I had been hoping for. It was still a really great book, but I had some issues with it-- which is unfortunate, since Cold Fury did have many really good things going for it too.

First of all, I definitely liked Sara Jane as the main character. I thought she was a tough, kick-butt kind of character and she managed to have this great assertiveness about her without coming across as being cocky or overly aggressive. I loved that she was a boxer and knew how to fight but that she also had this whole girly thing going on too with her crush on Max. So points have to be given out to the main character in this book-- I thought she was strong, brave, and totally rocked.

Another thing about Cold Fury that I loved was that a lot of the writing was incredibly good-- case in point:

"The recesses of a troubled brain at rest are terrible places because they have no boundaries-- no backward or forward or beginning or end. They are timeless, bottomless pits where a sleeping soul goes to sort out its worries and woes...  The subconscious spins like an awful, haunted buzz saw. It turns faster and faster, ripping through the day's events, shredding forgotten memories, and slicing to bits all hope for the future."  p. 128-9

Some of the more reflective and descriptive writing in Cold Fury was amazing, and a lot of the action scenes were just as well done. T.M. Goeglein is one super-talented writer who stands out against many other YA authors I've read lately, so I have to gush a little about the awesome writing style in this book. The back of the cover described it as being "cinematic" and I absolutely have to agree-- you felt like you were right in the middle of a Mob movie during certain scenes!

So... when it comes down to it, my main issue with Cold Fury was the pacing-- it just did not work for me. The beginning was filled with lots of flashbacks and memories, then around page 100 some present-day action starts to take place, but then we're thrown a bunch of family history and super-lengthy explanations about the Mob, and it just really threw me off. I felt like things were all over the place-- we have Sara Jane on this hunt to find her family while being chased by this crazy Ski Mask guy, then there's a sub-plot going on at Sara's school with her crush Max and her outcast suicidal friend Doug, and then there's all of these flashbacks about boxing and backtracking to Sara's childhood... not to mention, the whole long-winded chapter explaining the Chicago Outfit-- AKA The Mafia-- and to be honest, some of it just seemed to drag a bit, pulling me away from the main action. So with the pacing, it seemed to start slow, then sped up, then it slows way down with tons of explanation, and then slams you back into the action again-- it just didn't flow very well in my opinion.

Cold Fury was one of those books that I have a hard time putting a rating on, because there were aspects to it that I really liked and others that fell flat for me. On one hand, I loved the main character, the writing was really great, and I thought that the plot that centered on a girl from a Mafia family was really unique. Unfortunately, I also felt like there was just way too much back-tracking, Mafia history, and explanations-- and not enough action. It's not that I didn't find these things interesting, but they majorly slowed the plot down to a crawl in some spots and made it really difficult for me to stay invested in what was going on. The ending was still really good, and I would say give this one a shot if you want a genre that's really different-- and even if you do like action, I think this series has great potential to step it up in the next book and get really good!

~Cover Talk~

This is SUCH a kick-ass cover, and I absolutely love how it looks like a movie poster. Once again though, and not to beat a dead horse, but the cover for me turned out to be slightly misleading, because I looked at it and figured this was going to be an all-out adrenaline-fest kind of story with tons of action and a super fast-paced plot. The story didn't quite live up to my expectations in the end, but the cinematic cover is still pretty awesome.

LC's Rating:
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The writing was really great and the main character was one tough chick-- I only wish that the pacing hadn't been so sporadic and the plot less choppy! I would have liked this one more if there had been more action and less explanation/back-tracking.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! Forever 17 Books

PhotobucketIt's MAKEOVER time at LC's Adventures again! I am really excited to show you guys the latest re-design that I did for Sara over at Forever 17 Books!

Sara got in touch with me awhile back wanting to have something done for her book blog-- up until now, she had just been using one of the generic Blogger template styles and she wanted to have something more unique that reflected her own style. She told me that she liked tigers, especially white Bengals, and her fave color was sky blue. We decided to create a design with a white Bengal tiger lounging on a stack of books, and have a color theme of icy blues and light grays. Since she didn't want anything too flashy or over the top, I kept everything pretty subdued and simple. So.... here are the results! Check out Sara's new Book Blog Makeover below!

Old Design...



New Design!


I am so happy with how Sara's new blog design turned out, because I know that it fits her personality and style so much better than the old Blogger template. Not to mention that tiger turned out better than I thought it was going to-- he looks so regal sitting on his stack of books haha! ;)

I hope you guys will take a minute to stop on over to Sara's blog at Forever 17 Books and let her know what you think of her new look-- and be sure to follow her as well! ;)

~Grab a Button!~


*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cover Reveal + Giveaway! Timeless by Michelle Madow


 OK everyone, today I am SO flipping excited to be participating in the cover reveal for a wonderful YA series by an absolutely lovely YA author-- her name is Michelle Madow and the series is the Transcend Time Saga. The third and final book in this saga is called Timeless, and will be released November 20 of this year...

Yay! So onto the cover reveal, which will be followed by a totally sweet giveaway, so be sure to check that out below as well-- and yes, it is International! :D
 
~Timeless Cover Reveal~

Author: Michelle Madow ♥ Series: Transcend Time Saga ♥ Publisher: Dreamscape ♥ Release Date: November 20, 2012

Now, I have actually not read any of the books in this series yet, but I am seriously dying to-- ever since I saw the cover for the first one, Remembrance. I just love how they all have that beautiful masquerade theme going on!

Have you started the Transcend Time Saga yet? If not, be sure to check out the first two books in this series below-- you can get the e-version of Remembrance for only $2.99 so be sure to add it to your TBR lists!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

And now time for...

~The Epic Giveaway!~

So in celebration of Timeless' cover reveal, Michelle is having an absolutely AMAZING giveaway--and also, it is International! Here is what Michelle will be giving away to one really lucky winner:


One (1) signed copy of Remembrance
One (1) signed copy of Vengeance
One (1) signed copy of Timeless (when it's released)
Three (3) signed Remembrance bookmarks
A gorgeous mask that looks like the one on the cover of Remembrance
A mention in the acknowledgements section of Timeless

Interested?? Just fill out the Rafflecopter Form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~About Michelle~

Michelle Madow was inspired to write Remembrance after seeing Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video while a junior at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. The song and video gave her the idea about a high school girl reincarnated from Regency Era, England. She handed in the first chapter as a homework assignment for class, and when her teacher and classmates wanted her to continue writing, she decided to go for it. By the end of the school year, her first novel was
completed!

Along with the Transcend Time Saga, Michelle Madow has written two other young adult novels, both which will be developed into series.

Michelle Madow graduated from the Park School of Baltimore in 2005, where she always took two English classes each semester. She graduated from Rollins College in 2010, cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English. At Rollins she was a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and a member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.

She received the Charles Hyde Pratt Award for Excellence in Creative Writing in 2010.

For more information on Michelle and her books, please visit www.michellemadow.com.

Michelle lives in Florida, where she is hard at work writing more novels for young adults. She is represented by literary agent Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency.

~Author Links~

BlogFacebookGoodreadsTwitterYouTube

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Reading Book Review: Darkness Before Dawn


LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I've read or plan on reading! :)
*****

Author: J.A. London
Series: Darkness Before Dawn #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Pages: 342
Read it in: 2 days
Source: ARC from the Publisher
Summary: Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what's left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it's up to me--as the newest delegate for humanity--to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it's safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.

LC's Take:

Darkness Before Dawn was SUCH a wonderful surprise for me. Honestly, I started out worried that this was going to be yet another cliche vampire story, but boy was I wrong-- with a Post-apocalyptic twist in a world where vampires rule over humans, this book surprised me in all the right ways, and I am really, really glad that I chose to give it a chance!

Dawn is the delegate of her city-- a job her parents held for many years until they were unexpectedly murdered. In a dark post-apocalyptic world, it is her job to represent all the people living within the walls of broken down Denver and make sure that the vampires lurking outside are kept happy with a steady supply of blood. Reporting to the lead vampire, Lord Valentine, Dawn must negotiate and be diplomatic enough to fight for the human race but also be careful not anger him. Keeping the peace between vampires and humans is a constant struggle, and it isn't until Dawn meets Victor that she learns not all vamps are blood-thirsty monsters. Only problem? Victor happens to be Lord Valentine's son...

So like I mentioned, Darkness Before Dawn was one of those books that I was a little "iffy" about at first-- and even in the first half of the book, I was sort of scared that it was taking a wrong turn into Been-There- Done-That territory-- but the last half of it totally blew me away and I ended up absolutely LOVING this book. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on the next one in the series!

So first, a word about the beginning and why I was worried about this book becoming super cliche-- first, we all know there are like a gazillion YA books about vampires. They are freaking everywhere. And even though this book claimed to have a fresh, new take on the vamp genre, I was a little skeptical, especially since right away there was the ever-dreaded, waaaaay over-played--


wait for it....


Love triangle!


Oh yes, we have a good ol' love triangle, and not only that, but it started out as THE most typical kind of triangle there is. Dawn is caught up in her feelings for Michael, the good-guy athletic boyfriend with blond hair and then she gets all tangled up with Victor, the darkly mysterious and seductive vampire whom she isn't sure she can trust. I KNOW. I can't even flipping count how many times this same kind of love triangle has been played out in YA books, BUT-- and here's a big but (haha I'm such a dork)-- I actually ended up liking this one. Yes, it was the Good Boy vs. Bad Boy love triangle, but you know what, I totally became wrapped up in it by the end of the book. (And I'm so Team Victor by the way-- hott, sexy, brooding vampire with a tragic past? Ummm yeeah.... sign me up for that please LOL :P )

So points are being awarded to the love triangle in Darkness Before Dawn-- which I almost never give, because love triangles typically annoy the holy bejeezus out of me, so this is a pretty big deal guys. Just sayin'.

Next awesome thing about this book? I absolutely loved how it mixed a Post-apocalyptic world with the whole vampire genre, it worked SO well and gave the story a very dark and eerie feel to it. Dawn's world is dark, dangerous, and provided the perfect backdrop for an awesome story.

I was also a big fan of Dawn Montgomery herself. As the main character, I liked that Dawn had a strong-willed personality and was slightly reckless. I also liked that she could stand on her own two feet and didn't spend the entire book mooning over which guy she liked more. I mean yes, there is some of that obviously, but it didn't overwhelm the rest of the story and get to be super annoying. So I loved Dawn and I would definitely read the next book because she was such a great character. 

The writing style itself was a little difficult to read at first because it seemed choppy, i.e. there were lots of small, broken up sentences that felt sort of clunky and made me stumble over a lot of it while I was reading. I would have liked it if the writing had flowed a bit better instead of being so broken up, but the fragmented style didn't kill the story for me in the least, and by the end I was dying to get into the next book-- mainly because the author did the most genius thing possible by introducing us to some awesome new characters (Victor's sister Faith for example? I loved her!) and giving only hints as to who they were, which was like dangling cake on a stick because now I cannot WAIT to read the sequel! Well played, J.A. London. Well played.

So all in all, Darkness Before Dawn was an awesome vampire book-- it had originality, good characters, and an intriguing storyline. The post-apocalyptic twist was pulled off really well, the love triangle wasn't too annoying and actually had me interested, and Dawn was a main character I'd want to follow into the next book. And with the ridiculous number of vamp books out there, I think that this one did a really awesome job at standing out on its own. So to all my paranormal fans out there-- be sure to add this one to your TBR lists right now!! :)

~Cover Talk~

OK, so I know that a lot of people might think that this cover is sort of generic and looks like a million other YA book covers but... GAH! I just LOVE it so much! It's just so elegantly dark and Gothic, and the first time I saw it I was just like **wow!** First off, that dress is absolutely to-die-for gorgeous, and I love the air of mystery surrounding the girl whose face is hidden, and the gloomy clouded sky in the background with the black birds just sets the tone for how dark the story is. The *only* thing-- and this is so dumb-- but it bothers me a little how the "R" in Darkness is backwards. I don't know why! Haha, but other than that I really adore this cover.

LC's Rating:
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LOVED IT.  With an action-packed plot and a cast of awesome characters, Darkness Before Dawn also had a Post-apocalyptic twist that was refreshingly original and kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!

Check it out!
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yay I'm Back!! August Book Haul


What a crazy summer this has been! I wanted to just say how happy I am to be featuring a book haul this weekend because it has been soooo long... I took a bit of a break from my blog over the past 5-6 weeks due to life getting nuts but I am definitely trying to get back into the swing of things. Here is a brief update of what's been going on at LC's Adventures lately!


~Latest Posts~

Book Review: Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler (First 5 Star Review I've given out in a LONG time!)
ARC + SWAG Giveaway! What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (be sure to go enter!)

~Book Haul!~

~Links~

The First Days by Rhiannon Frater  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Seige by Rhiannon Frater  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Ashes by Ilsa Bick  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Entangled by Nicki Jefford  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Blood Fever by Veronica Wolff  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl  Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads

Please leave me links to your book hauls below!
Happy Reading everyone



Friday, August 17, 2012

ARC + SWAG Giveaway! What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Hello all my lovely readers and followers! Today I am announcing my latest GIVEAWAY which I am SO excited about because it is for a book that I have really been looking forward to reading. AND there will also be second and third place winners for some awesome book swag as well-- Find all the details below!


First Place Prize
One lucky winner will get an ARC of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang!

Author: Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 18th 2012
Pages: 356

Summary: Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

The Rules

1.) Be a follower of LC's Adventures in Libraryland-- or become a new follower :)
2.) Fill out the Rafflecopter form below
3.) Giveaway open to US residents only (sorry! It's due to shipping costs :/ )
4.) Last day to enter is August 31st, 2012 at 11:59 EST
5.) Winners will be notified by email on September 1st and will have 48 hours to respond

The Form
Fill 'er out and good luck to everyone!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Extra Entries
Grab this button for your sidebar to earn extra entries!

Good Luck everyone and thank you for following LC's Adventures in Libraryland!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ARC Book Review: Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous


LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
*****
Author: Kathryn Williams
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Pages: 240
Read it in: 1 day
Source: ARC from the Publisher

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America's finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering--fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.

LC's Take:

Pizza/Love (my lazy way of writing that super-long title) was a really cute and light-hearted read-- definitely perfect for summertime! I knew from the moment I read this plot summary that this was going to be one of those books that is just a lot of fun to read, and puts you in a good mood :)

Sophie Nicolaides has spent pretty much her entire life living and working in her family's Greek/Italian restaurant, surrounded by the sounds of the kitchen and the smells and tastes of amazingly delicious food. Cooking has become her passion, but it isn't until her best friend Alex convinces her to join a teen cooking reality show that Sophie starts thinking she might have a chance at making it big-- maybe one day owning her own 5-star restaurant. As the show progresses, Sophie finds that being a reality star is nothing like she thought it would be, and she has to figure out how to remain true to herself and her family heritage while also making some of the best food anyone has ever tasted to win...

So this book was actually the second one I have read that centers around a popular kind of reality show-- the first one was The Selection by Kiera Cass, which was a spin-off of The Bachelor. I definitely think that Pizza/Love did a much better job at capturing the action and conflict of being on a reality show, and since cooking reality shows are my all-time favorite,  it was a lot of fun to read this kind of plot. The author takes the time to introduce us to all the contestants, and you definitely get a sense of all the crazy drama taking place as the show makes it more and more difficult to compete.

Another fun aspect of Pizza/Love was how it included recipes that were woven throughout the book-- I thought that this just added a unique touch and made you feel more connected to the whole story. 

I guess there were only two major problems that I had while reading-- the first was that I sometimes found the characters and even some of the writing to be slightly generic, even formulaic, in its style and the way things were presented. There wasn't anything blatantly horrible about either the writing or characters, but at the same time there wasn't anything incredibly mind-blowing or truly memorable about them either. The second issue I had was with the love triangle between Sophie, Alex, and Luc, which got to be sort of confusing. You never really had much of an idea of where Sophie stood-- it seemed as though she chose whatever guy was right there in front of her at the moment, and the other one was just conveniently forgotten.

I think maybe some readers could be a little iffy about this book, thinking that maybe it's a little *too* cutesy. I mean with that quirky title and slightly juvenile cover, I sort of knew going into this one that it was going to be targeted to the younger YA audience. However, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that there was some edginess to the story-- nothing crazy, but the book wasn't so sickeningly sweet that I couldn't stand it or anything, and it didn't come across as being so juvenile that I felt like I was way too old to be reading it either.

Altogether, this was a fun and entertaining book that provided a really nice break from the darker paranormal/supernatural genres I'm reading this summer. I would say that if you are looking for a light, quick read to add into your summer TBR pile, this one is a good choice! But be warned-- you're going to want to eat a lot after finishing it ;)

~Cover Talk~

Totally going along with the cuteness of the story, the cover for Pizza/Love is really fun and adorable and immediately made me go "awww!" when I saw it. I guess the only thing that I don't like so much about this cover is that it does comes across as being a bit juvenile-- it just looks like a book cover for readers much younger than the 16-year old main character, maybe more like the 12-13 range. And I think that could be slightly misleading, because the story itself was definitely a lot of fun to read and isn't targeted only at a young crowd.

LC's Rating:
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Totally cute and light-hearted, Pizza/Love was a perfect summertime book that can easily be finished in a day. The writing was slightly bland, but the reality show twist still made this one a lot of fun!

Check it out!
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Review: Where It Began


LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
*****

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Pages: 369

Summary: Gabby Gardiner wakes up in a hospital bed looking like a cautionary ad for drunk driving—and without a single memory of the accident that landed her there. But what she can recall, in frank and sardonic detail, is the year leading up to the crash.

As Gabby describes her transformation from Invisible Girl to Trendy Girl Who Dates Billy Nash (aka Most Desirable Boy Ever), she is left wondering: Why is Billy suddenly distancing himself from her? What do her classmates know that Gabby does not? Who exactly was in the car that night? And why has Gabby been left to take the fall?

As she peels back the layers of her life, Gabby begins to realize that her climb up the status ladder has been as intoxicating as it has been morally complex... and that nothing about her life is what she has imagined it to be.

LC's Take:

It isn't very often that I sit down to start a book and have it finished about 4 hours later-- As much as I love reading, I'm pretty slow at it and I usually lose steam and need a few breaks in between. But every now and again, I get my hands on a book that I just cannot put down, that I just cannot get enough of, and end up devouring the whole dang thing in one day. Where It Began was one of those books...

Gabby Gardiner has what many people would call a "privileged life." She's grown up in the "Three B's" -- Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills-- she goes to a prestigious private school, and her mom just dumped a ton of cash to give Gabby a totally hot new makeover. But Gabby's life is far from perfect, and she feels completely out of place among the other rich and beautiful people at Winston High. The pressure is constantly on for her to be absolutely perfect, to get into an Ivy League school, and to not under any circumstances come across as being "regular," or God forbid-- a "sub-regular" freak who wants to go to art school.

It isn't until Gabby somehow miraculously catches the eye of the God-like Billy Nash that her life is saved from sub-regularity. For Gabby, Billy symbolizes the perfection she's supposed to attain-- her savior that rockets her into popularity and brings her new acceptance from everyone, including her parents. Unfortunately, Gabby's entire life ends up crashing down around her when she finds herself in the hospital after getting drunk and wrapping Billy's BMW around a tree. With no memory of what actually happened, Gabby now has to figure out how to pick up the pieces of her not-so-perfect life and somehow hold onto the guy who seems to give that life purpose.

So I thought that in Gabby, the author was able to create a main character who was flawed but who you just can't help loving to death and completely sympathizing with. She was smart and sarcastic, but she was also very innocent and susceptible to the world around her. She had a rather cynical outlook on life but at the same time she had a good heart. And even though she was lost and misguided throughout pretty much the whole book, I was still rooting for Gabby hardcore and wishing her a happy ending.

Now, as some of you may know, I absolutely hate when books portray female protagonists who are pathetically dependent and obsessive about their loser jerk-face boyfriends. But in this case, the dynamics between Gabby and Billy really worked marvelously with the whole plot of the story. Yes, Gabby has pretty much zero self-esteem and clung to Billy as if he were God himself, being completely unaware of what a creep he really was. But this insecurity and vulnerability in the main character didn't make me hate her at all or think that she was pathetic or crazy-- If anything, I felt sorry for her and could relate to her in many ways. As the reader, you could definitely understand why Gabby thinks and feels the way she does, and how she came to value superficiality over real love and a healthy relationship, due to the fact that her parents, her friends, and her whole school expects her to look and act a certain way. She was still likable and interesting, and her weaknesses only made her that much more likable and interesting.

The world-building was another plus in this book. I just adored how the author presented the world of Winston High and the society Gabby lives in-- from the jocks to the "Slutmuffins" to the doctors and nurses at the hospital, it was just one hilarious character sketch after another that had me giggling to myself throughout the book. Gabby gets just how ridiculously fake her world is, and life through her eyes was definitely entertaining to follow! There was clearly a tragicomedy feel to this book and I really loved that aspect of it.

Besides the main character and world-building, the other major thing that really struck me about this book was the writing. Narrated through Gabby's voice, it was both snarky and sarcastic, but also incredibly smart and heartfelt. Not to mention it flowed really well, which is probably why I couldn't put the book down and finished it in a day. The internal thoughts and emotions that are woven throughout the story not only revealed Gabby's life leading up to the car accident, but also worked perfectly to keep me totally wrapped up in what was going on. The twist at the end threw both Gabby and myself for a loop, but thanks to it, Gabby becomes much wiser and aware of what really matters-- and for me, that kind of character growth is what makes a book worth reading.

I am definitely giving 5 stars to Where It Began-- which I haven't done for a book in a really long time, since I very rarely pass out 5 stars. I thought this book was very real, the main character was really genuine, and I'm pretty sure that I laughed out loud at least three dozen times as I was reading. This was one awesome coming-of-age kind of story-- intelligent, but not taking itself *too* seriously. If you are thinking about reading a YA in the contemporary genre any time soon, I would definitely recommend this one to you-- trust me, it won't disappoint!

~Cover Talk~

The cover for Where it Began is not one that really stood out to me much at first, but I think that when you really take a look at it, you see just how gorgeous it is. There is something about it that I really like-- maybe because it's very simple and understated yet makes an impact on you at the same time. It isn't one of the showiest covers out there in the YA world, but you can clearly tell the genre is contemporary and the girl's direct and unapologetic gaze makes you look at it a second time.Very beautiful!

LC's Rating:
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A smart and heartfelt contemporary book that deals with some really hard issues in a direct and  approachable way, Where It Began was also really funny and entertaining. I COULD NOT put this one down!!

Check it out!
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! The Reading Enchantress

PhotobucketSo after a rather major blogging-slash-designing hiatus for the past month, I have an all-new MAKEOVER to show you guys! Today's blog design is for The Reading Enchantress...

Olivia is the fabulous book blogger behind the YA Book Blog The Reading Enchantress, a blog that had already caught my eye awhile back for the awesome rich colors and elegant patterns she had in her design. However, Olivia was looking for something a little brighter and she also really wanted a custom vector illustration as a focal point in her blog to have it really stand out.

Let me just say-- this gal had some AWESOME ideas! We both have a slight obsession with Marie Antoinette and Versailles-style things, so we began talking about creating a Custom Blog Makeover with a 1700's-French-style vibe, complete with a Marie Antoinette character with red hair to match Olivia's. We also added lots of details to the dress, a masquerade mask, a fancy bookcase, and chandelier. So here are the before and after pics of Olivia's all new blog design-- TA DA!! :D

Vector Design: Paper To Digital Graphic...
For most of the custom vector graphics I design, I first sketch them on paper, upload them to my computer, and then use a graphics program to create the digital image to be used in the final design :)



Before...

After!

So as you can see, the major things we changed were adding a vector character to customize and really highlight Olivia's blog header, and we also brightened things up quite a bit with a whole new color scheme. I think it turned out super cute and I was really happy to be able to bring Olivia's gorgeous vision to life! Be sure to stop on by The Reading Enchantress to let her know what you think and to follow her lovely book blog!! :)

~Grab a Button!~


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Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!
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