In Bed With Leviathan

Sunday, April 20, 2014

In Bed With a Book (formerly known as Sundays in Bed With...) is a blog hop/meme started by my friend Kate at Midnight Book Girl, where we can highlight the book that we're spending the day in bed reading (or the one we wish we could be reading all day in bed!).

I hope to be spending the day in bed reading...

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld is one of my favorite authors, but I've never read his Leviathan series, so I'm excited to finally be reading this!  I'm enjoying it so far!

Are you lounging around, reading in bed today?  Let me know in the comments, or leave a link to your post if you're participating in this meme and I'll try to stop by your blog!

Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Friday, April 18, 2014
Title:  How to Love
Author:  Katie Cotugno
Series:  None
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date:  October 1, 2013
Pages:  389
Format/Source:  Hardback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary, Romance
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again? (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

A Fresh YA Novel...

How to Love is definitely a new and different YA novel, at least for me.  I don't think I've read any YA novels that have to do with the main character having a kid, and while I'm sure there are YA books that deal with that subject out there, it still seems like How to Love is kind of a fresh take on the subject.  In the past year or so I've grown to really enjoy more YA contemporary novels, as long as they have more substance to them than just a romance.  Which, luckily, with the quality of writing these days in YA, pretty much all YA has quite a bit of substance.  So while this story is primarily about two teens who fall in and out of love and back in again, it definitely deals with a lot of other aspects, such as loss and addiction and family, as well as teen pregnancy.

A Few Hiccups...

However, this book kind of reminded me of a lot of television shows in the way that yes, there is a baby present in the story, but so much of the story revolved around the other characters that at times, I was thinking to myself, "Where is the baby?"  I get like that with TV shows a lot.  A couple has a baby but the baby is hardly ever in the show and I'm like, "Where is your baby??? Is it with a babysitter ALL THE TIME?"  Yes, Reena's baby is mentioned quite a bit in the story, but there only a few scenes where we actually see the baby.  I feel like maybe some of the issues with being a teen mother could have been delved into even deeper if we had seen the baby even more within the story.

And the chapters alternate between "Before" (before Sawyer left her and before she had her baby) and "After" (a couple years later and Sawyer has returned).  These kinds of alternating chapters don't normally bother me too much, but I did find myself having to go back to the beginning of the chapter sometimes to remind myself if it was a "Before" chapter or an "After" chapter. I'd be like, "Okay, this is a 'Before' chapter, so she doesn't have her baby yet."  And because the story focused so much on Reena thinking about Sawyer or talking to Sawyer or seeing him at the restaurant that both their families own, it was hard to discern if I was reading a "Before" or "After" chapter, because those scenes technically could apply to either one.  And to me, as a reader, not only is that kind of thing confusing, but it's also too much work for me to have to go back and figure out which type of chapter I'm reading all the time.

But Some Great Moments...

But I did really enjoy the book for the most part.  I got pulled into the story right away.  I loved Reena's friend Shelby, as well as a lot of the other characters.  And I LOVED the format of Reena's college application essay. That was so clever and I really wish I could actually read that essay!

And one, very subjective thing that I really loved about this story was that a lot of little different things reminded me of the show Veronica Mars.  One really rude and horrible character, Lauren Werner, totally reminded me of Madison Sinclair from Veronica Mars, and I began to picture Lauren as Madison in my head.  There were a few other things that reminded me of Veronica Mars as well, but I won't go into those because of spoilers.  But anything that reminds me of Veronica Mars really makes me happy!

Katie Cotugno also really has some great writing within this story.  I didn't write down too many quotes in my notes, but I'll share my favorite one: "Still, there were such huge swaths of his life I didn't know anything about--whole paragraphs blacked out of wartime letters, movies modified to fit this screen." 

My rating for How to Love by Katie Cotugno:

4 big stars.  A great story about loss and love and everything in between. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Katie Cotugno in the future.
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ HarperCollins

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Harry Potter Series--Dangerous Anti-Slytherin Propaganda by Sharon Bayliss │ DESTRUCTION Blog Tour

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Hi everyone!  Today I'm excited to have author Sharon Bayliss here at The Overstuffed Bookcase.  I met Sharon at YABFest in Austin last year, and she gave me my first ever physical book for review!  She's cool like that!  ;)

Sharon has also written two great books, The Charge, which is YA and came out last year, and Destruction (book one of The December People series), which is an adult book and just came out this week.  I enjoyed both books a lot and I'm very excited to be a part of Destruction's blog tour!

So Sharon's here today to talk a bit about wizards, since Destruction is about a family of dark wizards living in modern-day Texas.  And she's not only talking about the wizards in her own book, but also about wizards in my favorite series of all time, Harry Potter!  She's also got a giveaway going on below, so be sure to look out for that.  Take it away, Sharon!

The Harry Potter Series--Dangerous Anti-Slytherin Propaganda

I think we can all agree that J.K. Rowling is a Gryffindor. It's pretty obvious by the way she wrote the Harry Potter series. Every important hero was a Gryffindor. Every important villain was a Slytherin. And, the poor Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were mostly unimportant side characters. That is SO how a Gryffindor sees the world.

In the United States, instead of Hogwarts houses, wizards are commonly classified by the four seasons, as in The December People. The Gryffindors are called summer wizards, which is apt because they believe they are the sun and the world revolves around them. The Slytherins are called winter wizards.

The winter wizards in The December People constantly struggle against dark wizard prejudices, like those perpetrated in the Harry Potter series. You can see this clearly in one scene in the last book, where students are choosing whether to flee or stay and defend the castle. According to Rowling, lots of Gryffindors stay, a few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, and a BIG FAT ZERO Slytherins. I ask you...really? Really? Out of all those Slytherins, not a single one of them thought, "Hey you know, Voldemort is kind of bad guy. Maybe I don't want him to kill me and everyone I love." This is where Rowling really gets it wrong. Although dark wizards are prone to varying degrees of evil, they are definitely not cowards. Opposed to running from battle, they are often the ones at the front lines, the ones least afraid of darkness, pain, and death. And, they would never stand idly by while someone threatened them or people they loved. Like mama bears protecting their cubs, they will maul your face off if you get too close to their babies.

At least, in the last book, she also shows a little more Slytherin complexity than she had in the previous books. Most importantly, we learn the truth about of my favorite characters anywhere, ever. We learn that far from a coward, he is probably the bravest character in the series. He is also capable of loving deeply and being fiercely loyal. We also see Narcissa Malfoy betray Voldemort in order to find and protect her son. I still think it was too little, too late, but I'm glad Rowling finally showed another side of darker wizards.

So, if you happen to be of the Slytherin persuasion (and a grown-up...The December People series is not for kids) there is a story for you. Check out my recently released novel, Destruction.


This is a photo of me and my wand. Which Harry Potter character owned this wand before me? Be the first to guess correctly in comments and win a free digital copy of Destruction!

About the Book


An independent family-owned bookstore. The ONLY place to buy signed copies!

A locally owned book store in Austin, Texas.

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.  

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Destruction (Book One of The December People Series)

About the Author

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.

Thanks so much, Sharon, for stopping by!  I agree with you that the other houses in the Harry Potter series kind of got the short end of the stick within the books.  And as a proud Ravenclaw, I wish that each of the houses had been explored in depth within the series.  And it was definitely nice to see a different kind of magic in Destruction!

Short and Tweet Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Monday, April 14, 2014
Title:  Legend
Author:  Marie Lu
Series:  Legend #1
Publisher:  G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin
Publication Date:  November 29, 2011
Pages:  305
Format/Source:  Hardback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Science Fiction, Dystopian
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

This review is a perfect example of why I need to start writing my reviews right after I finish a book.  I write a lot of notes, but because I wait to write my reviews until right before I post them, I end up forgetting some of the book, or I just don't write the right kind of notes to write an adequate review. And this is definitely the case with Legend. I read six books in between reading Legend and writing this review, which means I don't remember a lot. It's not like this book was forgettable or anything; I just have too many other plots and characters in my head.

My friend Kate from Midnight Book Girl does this feature called Short and Tweet Review, where she writes reviews in 140 characters or less, like a tweet, and allows others to write their own reviews and link up to her post. And because I'm really having a hard time coming up with enough to write a full-blown review, and because my notes are much more about my theories, rather than comments on the characters or the plot itself, I've decided to write a Short and Tweet Review for Legend.

Short and Tweet Review:

I liked the underlying theme, and was happy that certain things were revealed early on. I think the rest of the series will be even better.

My rating for Legend by Marie Lu:

4 solid stars.  I wish I could remember more right now, because it really was a great story and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Penguin

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Stacking the Shelves (48)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme, hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews, where bloggers can share the books and bookish items that we've bought, borrowed, or received each week.

This StS is for the past two weeks.

Apparently I was one of the winners during Epic Reads's Tea Time a couple weeks ago, because Insignia by S.J. Kincaid showed up on my doorstep this week.  Thanks, Epic Reads!

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is free on iBooks until April 14!  Thanks so much to Irish at Ticket to Anywhere for letting me know about this!

What did you guys get this week?  Let me know, or leave a link to your StS post (or IMM or any other alternative) in the comments and I'll try to stop by your blog!
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