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The BEST Books I Read This SUMMER & MEGA Giveaway
Sep 1st, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

                 The BEST Books I Read This SUMMER & MEGA Giveaway

(Three winners!)

I’ve read a lot of excellent books this summer (June 21-August 31), but not all of them are included in this list. That’s because they were ARCs and haven’t been published, yet. I look forward to putting together another post at the end of 2013, which will include those novels.

Each of the books or series listed below were memorable for different reasons and I want to share them with you. One lucky winner will get to select two books of choice or one audiobook via Audible and a book. Two winners will have a choice of a book or audiobook. International winners – you must have access to Audible or the book must be available through The Book Depository. Giveaway ends September 22, 2013 11:59 PM CST.

(Rafflecopter Below)

In no particular order:

16151178The Sea of Tranquility by 

Why it’s on the list: I love characters who go through major transformations.

Review: An exceptional story.

A note about the cover: It’s perfect for this novel. That’s melted ice cream that formed the outline of the faces on the asphalt. It fits so beautifully, so kudos to the designer and the publisher for going with it.

I am NOT going to talk about Josh. Or Sunshine. Or what happened to her in THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay. I am not going to discuss the unfairness of what Josh faced over and over again. Many others have done so and done it extremely well. I second, third, fourth my agreement.
I will say this: THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY begs the reader to take action, to make a change, or a choice, even a small one like picking up the phone and calling a loved one to say “I love you.”

To read the rest of the review, click here: The Sea of Tranquility

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (AUDIOBOOK), performed by  and 13479365

Why it’s on the list: I’ll remember what happened to these characters for a very long time.

Review: Voices so real, it’s hard to believe this is historical fiction and not biographical.

I picked up this novel from the library, but then returned without reading it. That was nearly a year ago. I had heard that it would rip my heart out, and I wasn’t ready to grab the knife.
But when my dear friend Heidi from YA Bibliophile @hmz1505http://www.yabibliophile.com raved and raved and raved about the audio, I knew I had to listen to it.
Once again, Heidi was right. The readers brought this novel to life and had me riveted. I was drawn into the story of female spies and female pilots during WWII and the friendship between two women – Queenie and Maddie. As they both had their turn to share the sequence of events that led to their friendship and what happened when Queenie was captured by the Nazis was absolutely stunning. The characters seemed so real and their voices were so authentic, that it’s hard to believe that they were created in Elizabeth Wein’s imagination.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Code Name Verity 

15777621This Song Will Save Your Life by 

Why it’s on the list: Speaks to anyone who’s felt like they didn’t fit in.

Review: Wow, wow!

Can a song save a person’s life?
Hmm, you’ll have to read This Song Will Save Your Life to understand the magic of music. I was deeply impressed with the Leila Sales’ powerful portrayal of Elise Dembowski, a sixteen-year-old girl who has endured bullying and friendlessness for as long as she can remember. As the daughter of divorced parents who share custody, she’s scheduled in and synced to both parents’ lives. With her dad, she’s an only child. With her mom, she’s the big sister and a step-daughter. Elise is bright and creative, and music means everything to her. Her father is a member of a one-hit 70s band, still playing at various venues like cruise ships, bars, etc. while he also works at a music store. It is he, who gave Elise such a passion for music.

To read the rest of the review, click here: This Song Will Save Your Life

What Happens Next by 12819342

Why it’s on the list: Addresses a serious issue: Date rape after being drugged.

Review: Very realistic. Compelling. Painful. Serious issues. One of the best book boyfriends. Ever. Definitely recommend.

What Happens Next was recommended to me by Rachel fromhttp://rachelwritesthings.blogspot.com Thanks, Rachel!

I was immediately taken in by Sid’s story, a sixteen-year-old girl who goes on a school ski trip with her two best friends. While on the trip, the three of them split up and Sid meets a college boy named Dax. He’s fills her with lots of compliments and begs her to come to a party. Her friends are totally against it, by Sid ignores them. What happens next is absolutely horrible and real and a warning to girls to never go to a stranger’s place.
As Sid tries to figure out how to deal with what happened to her, she meets Corey Livingston, a boy who seems like a complete loser. But as the two of them take months to get to know each other, something special blooms between them.

To read the rest of the review, click here: What Happens Next 

16409311

Camp Boyfriend by 

Why it’s on the list: For anyone who has ever been torn between two boys or struggled with identity, this story will hit home.

Review: CAMP BOYFRIEND is . . .

authentic. Beautifully captures the difficulties of navigating friendships and relationships. So much more than a love triangle. (Don’t let that turn you off. It’s a huge plus.) This novel is about self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem.
I really want to see this in all middle schools/high schools/libraries.

CAMP BOYFRIEND does an incredible job of portraying the inner turmoil of a girl torn between two really good guys. But it’s also so much more. It begs the reader to ask, “What’s important to me?” Until that question is answered, it’s tough to know the bigger question, “Who am I?”

I am NOT going to summarize this novel. You can read that in the description. Instead, I want to share with you . . .
what I LOVED about CAMP BOYFRIEND.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Camp Boyfriend

The ENTIRE (to date) Covenant Series By 

Half-Blood (Book 1)

Half-Blood (Book 1)

(Half-Blood, Pure, Deity, Apollyon)

Why these books are on the list: The first line of my review says it all!

Review: Adventure, romance, heart-pounding action, and Greek mythology rolled into a captivating, unforgettable series.

Jennifer Armentrout created an fascinating world you’ll appreciate and visit on each page. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with Aiden and Alex.

Thank you, Jaime, from http://fictionfare.blogspot.com for sharing the first three books with me and to Spencer Hill for the fourth book APOLLYON and the novellas.

I read all four books in THE COVENANT series plus the novella ELIXIR over the past four days. That should say EVERYTHING. I was completely sucked into the Greek mythology and the incredible storyline told by the hyper, daring, courageous, snarky Alex (short for Alexandria). Alex is a half blood – someone who is born to a pure blood parent (from the Greek gods) and a mortal parent. Pure bloods and half bloods don’t mix. They’re forbidden to love and they’re most definitely a lower class. Half bloods can become slaves to pure bloods, losing themselves by being forced to drink elixir that takes away their ability to think and act on their own freewill.

To read the rest of the review, click here: The ENTIRE (to date) Covenant Series

615359Shark Girl and Formally Shark Girl by 

Why these books are on the list: Powerful portrayal of a teen redefining herself told through free verse poetry.

Review: SHARK GIRL will keep you captivated and will reel you in! Perfect for reluctant readers.

SHARK GIRL is about a girl named Jane who’s life changes in an instant when a shark attacks her and severs her arm. The story of that moment is told in free verse poetry. Throughout the novel, letters from concerned, compassionate people, along with reporters who want her story, are interspersed, breaking up the free verse poetry with the reality of what it means to be in the national spotlight. Jane shares her painful recovery, her deepest emotions, including her fears, frustration, and anger at the loss of her arm. Once a promising artist, she sees her future plans disappear as she has to relearn how to do everything with her left hand.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Shark Girl and Formally Shark Girl

Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm by  (AUDIOBO

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OK), performed by 10194157

Why it’s on the list: Fantasy at its finest!

Review: A captivating audiobook that kept me completely enthralled and invested in the story. Characters came to life.

About the story: Alina and Mal are two orphans who were raised in a Duke’s home (he takes in orphans who are “cared for” by a his servants. They rarely see the Duke.) Alina and Mal become each other’s best friends/family. Eventually, Alina and Mal come to serve the king as trackers. But when it’s discovered that Alina has a special talent, she’s whisked away from Mal and taken to the Little Palace to hone her skills as a Grisha and become the Darkling’s match. Putting their gifts together, they’ll be invincible. But Alina has a lot to learn before that can happen.
I loved the Grisha and their unique abilities. I could visualize the Shadow Fold and the nation of Ravka as well as the Little Palace, which isn’t very little at all.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Shadow and Bone To read the review for the second book in the series, click here: Siege and Storm

16270141The Boy on the Bridge by 

Why it’s on the list: A historical (romance) novel set in the former Soviet Union-USSR (Russia.) I don’t think many YA know about this time period in history.

Review: An accurate portrayal of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Terrifying and heartbreaking. Highly recommend.

When Laura goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad program, she believes meeting Alyosha on the bridge leading to her foreigners only dorm is a chance encounter. She quickly develops deep feelings for him and it appears that he feels the same way. He and his friends are hungry for anything that connects them to America. Does he love her because she’s wonderful, bright, kind or because of what she represents as an American? There is danger lurking around every corner, people who are willing to get this young couple in trouble, especially Alyosha, for anti-Soviet sentiment. Alyosha longs for the freedom that he perceives America represents. What does this really mean for Laura? You’ll have to read the novel to find out.

To read the rest of the review, click here: The Boy on the Bridge

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes17572903

Why it’s on the list: Simply unforgettable – Like SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Review: Part 1: Written on  7/20/13

Speechless.

I need to spend some time digesting this novel before I complete my review. I will say this – I am so glad I read the prequel (HONEYMOON IN PARIS) – See my review on Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/…
More tomorrow.
Or the next day.
Must. Close. My. Mouth. It’s on the floor.

Part 2: Written on 7/23/13

Impactful. Eye-opening. Shocking.

Okay. Deep breath.
I’ve been thinking about how to review this novel. A lot. And why it affected me so much. I’ve come to the realization that there are several things that deeply impacted me. The characters and the experiences are so real, that, as the reader, you get completely absorbed in what has happened to them. This experience is similar to what many would say happened while reading SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

To read the rest of the review, click here: The Girl You Left Behind

16158528Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Why it’s on the list: A unique, page-turner story. The characters are some of the most interesting I’ve read.

Review: An exceptional novel that will leave antique lovers drooling, nature lovers longing for the outdoors, animal lovers running to make a donation to their local animal shelter or humane society, and hopeless romantics swooning.

I seriously can’t believe that I waited a whole month to read this novel. I should have picked it up immediately. Looking for Me is storytelling at its best. Teddi and her brother Josh grew up on a farm in Kentucky. While she loves to give new life to old things like furniture, Josh becomes a protector of nature. Their father fosters their passions while their mother begrudgingly goes along with it. As Teddi and Josh grow up, they take their own journeys away from home. Their stories are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Some of the overall themes of this beautiful novel are the power of family ties, the bonds of friendship, and the power of love.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Looking for Me
a Rafflecopter giveaway

THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes, Review & ARC Giveaway
Aug 12th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND17572903

by Jojo Moyes, Review & ARC Giveaway

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books,

Pages: 384

Jojo

Jojo Moyes at her signing at ALA – Chicago

 

From Goodreads:

What happened to the girl you left behind?

In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.

My review – in two parts:

Part 1: Written on  7/20/13

Speechless.

I need to spend some time digesting this novel before I complete my review. I will say this – I am so glad I read the prequel (HONEYMOON IN PARIS) – See my review on Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/…
More tomorrow.
Or the next day.
Must. Close. My. Mouth. It’s on the floor.

Part 2: Written on 7/23/13

Impactful. Eye-opening. Shocking.

Okay. Deep breath.
I’ve been thinking about how to review this novel. A lot. And why it affected me so much. I’ve come to the realization that there are several things that deeply impacted me. The characters and the experiences are so real, that, as the reader, you get completely absorbed in what has happened to them. This experience is similar to what many would say happened while reading SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Moyes tells two stories in this novel, which eventually intertwine. The first takes place St. Pieronne, France in 1916/17 and is told in first person by Madame Sophie Lefevre. The men are away at war and Germans occupy much of France, including St. Pieronne where Sophie and her family live and run a hotel that’s been completely stripped of anything of value by the Germans. What Sophie does to protect/shield/feed her family and the village is incredibly heroic. What struck me to the core was how brutal the Germans were. I JUST DIDN’T KNOW. I know a ton about WWII. But I didn’t have a clue about WWI. Was I not listening in history class? Or wasn’t this taught? The Holocaust was HELL on earth, but I had no idea that the Germans did many of the same things during WWI – carting people off to camps, putting them in trains. And the brutality! It gutted me, but ultimately didn’t shock me. What shocked me was how the village people treated Sophie. You’ll have to read the novel to understand what I mean.

Now that I got that out of the way, let me explain that much of this story revolves around a stunning portrait of Sophie painted by her husband Edouard. The Kommandant can’t keep his eyes off the painting. It is this painting that connects the second story in this novel.

The second story takes place in 2006 and is told in third person. Liv Halston is a young widow in possession of Edouard’s painting of Sophie. His family wants it back. The twists and turns and the concept of reparation is an important issue, and a heated one, especially to Holocaust survivors or descendants who are fighting to get their families’ wealth back when it was stolen from them during WWII. But Liv’s painting had no connection to WWII. Yet Edouard’s family and the company they hired to get Sophie’s painting back, use this issue to sway public opinion and makes Liv a villain.
This ripped my heart out on so many different levels. I am deeply sympathetic to those who lost everything in the Holocaust. Yet, at the same time, I saw how absolutely wrong it was to throw the weight of this onto Liv’s shoulders. Horribly painful.
To further complicate things, Liv is in a relationship that has a HUGE personal implication and connection to this case.

This novel is . . .
so incredibly impactful and eye-opening!
deals with important issues.
filled with so many deep, personal wounds.

It brings up an intense need to have the characters, especially Liv, heal, live, and have HOPE.
I’m tempted to say more, but I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

Like Jojo’s previous novel that I reviewed, ME BEFORE YOU, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND will stay with me for a long time. I suspect I’ll be thinking about it and talking about it for years to come.
I highly recommend this novel. But be prepared, it will affect you!
Put this on your must-read list.
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For another opportunity to win THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND, go to: Chick Lit Central

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