Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Review of 2009: The Truth About Forever

Book cover
Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Pub Date: May 2004, Penguin Group (USA)
Hardcover, 374 pages
Book Source: purchased from


I long dull summer stretches ahead of Macy while her boyfriend Jason is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of her father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen--things like the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things like meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder if it really is better to be safe than sorry.

My Thoughts

I actually didn't think I would be able to squeak this review in before the New Year. That was before I really started getting into this book, though--before I couldn't put it down this afternoon.

The Truth About Forever is now officially my favorite book by Sarah Dessen that I have read so far. (I can even add it to my failed Sarah Dessen Challenge... Still 4 books shy of finishing that one.) I had heard many great things about this particular book and I can understand why. Dessen really has a talent for writing gripping, seemingly real-life YA fiction. There are always intriguing characters that have so many facets to their personalities--and you can be sure that there is more to them than meets the eye. Macy undergoes quite a transformation from a girl who is essentially living in her "perfect" boyfriend's shadow, to someone who finally takes chances and dares to live her life the way she wants to. I can honestly say it was sort of exciting to watch her change and grow--one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. Wes is definitely one of the many-faceted characters in this story, and through his game of Truth with Macy we learn more and more about him as the story progresses.

The Truth About Forever is a story about many things: death and grieving, love, friendship, and family (and often how all of those intermingle). I do sometimes find myself frustrated with the way that Dessent portrays some of the family interactions, but I have a feeling that is because I never experienced the same things in my own youth with my parents and have a hard time imagining events unfolding the way they do at times.

If you enjoy Dessen's books, I can't imagine that you wouldn't enjoy this one. With The Truth About Forever, she has come a long way from her first book, but it is still classic Sarah Dessen.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of The Truth About Forever:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Failed Reading Challenges & a Look Back at 2009...

Yes, my friends, I did have some failed reading challenges this year. Two, to be exact--The Sarah Dessen Challenge and the Classics Challenge. Given that I only signed up for four challenges, that means I only met half of my goals (with respect to challenges, at any rate). I certainly didn't sign up for these challenges only to fail, but how many of us plan to fail at anything?

I guess what I really didn't expect to hit me was a major reading slump towards the end of 2009. I like to blame the new job, but I think I might have hit that slump regardless of all the life changes at the end of the year--the new job just seemed to heighten the slump even more. But I think there is hope for me yet... I have read (and reviewed) three books in these last few days of the year, have started another book, and feel a glimmer of my old reading self coming back. It's a good thing, too, since I have over 70 or 80 unread books sitting and waiting to be read this year, and who knows how many more books I will pick up along the way?

Do I smell a new goal for 2010? I think I do... So here is my own personal reading challenge for next year--read every one of those books that is currently sitting on my designated TBR bookshelf. I believe there actually is a challenge out there devoted to reading books we have sitting around unread, so I need to find it and sign up for it.

Funny, I start off talking about failed challenges only to find myself signing up for another. I suppose that's a good sign that I'm not giving up! :-)

2009 has been an interesting year, both personally and in books. When the year started, I did not expect to find out that I would have to either relocate or lose my job. By the time the year was half over, I was out of one job but on a five-week vacation with another job already lined up. Certainly something to be grateful for, even if the job I took was not one that I necessarily wanted. 2009 also saw the birth of this blog, back on February 18th. I like to think that it has come a long way since those first reviews and the original look. I will never forget how welcoming fellow book bloggers were--what a great community we have! I have since participated in a 24-Hour Readathon as a cheerleader, written 100+ reviews, given away numerous books, and even interviewed a few authors. Not too shabby for my little blog of less than a year!

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to seeing where 2010 takes me. I'm looking forward to trying out some new authors, reading new books by favorite authors, and celebrating this blog's first blogoversary! There will be more giveaways, reviews, and plenty of fun stuff in the year to come, I can feel it! Thanks to all of my readers who have hung in there with me during the slow end to this year, and I look forward to "meeting" new readers in the days, months, and year to come!

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review: The Awakening

Book cover
Title: The Awakening
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: April 2009, HarperCollins Publishers
Hardcover, 368 pages
Book Source: purchased from


If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl — someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment — not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends — a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch — and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying. 

My Thoughts

Unlike the first book in Armstrong's Darkest Powers series, I thought The Awakening was pretty fast-paced from the beginning. The characters are growing and developing much more in this book, but the plotting still feels a little shaky and all over the place. Nevertheless, I am anxious to see how this story unfolds and wraps up in the third book, The Reckoning, which is due out in April.

This book finds Chloe learning more about the Edison Group and the experiment they have been performing on children with supernatural powers. Not only does this storyline focus on Chloe and her friends' quest to discover the truth about the Edison Group, but Armstrong also gives us a glimpse into the dark and difficult life for kids on the street. The two characters who probably grow the most during this stage of the adventure are Chloe and Derek, both discovering what they are capable of and trying to understand how they can control their respective powers. Even Tori shows us what she is capable of (though still obnoxious as ever), and together, all four of them, Simon included, make a smart and resourceful team.

If you enjoyed The Summoning, I think I can safely say that that you will enjoy The Awakening, perhaps even more than the first book. I know I did, and I am looking forward to finding out how Armstrong wraps this story up in The Reckoning.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of The Awakening:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the link to your review and I will add it to the list!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: Evernight

Book cover
Title: Evernight
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: May 2008, HarperCollins Publishers
Hardcover, 327 pages
Book Source: purchased from


Bianca wants to escape. 

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in. 

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him. 

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."
But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

My Thoughts

OK, I will admit it. Evernight might be your stereotypical YA vampire novel, but you know what? I enjoyed it, nonetheless. And actually, there were a couple of twists and turns that I didn't see coming when I was reading, so I definitely enjoyed being caught off guard. I am glad that I hadn't read any spoilers for this book beforehand--it is definitely a story that is better to go into with little information beforehand. (And as usual, I will try to keep the review spoiler-free.)

My biggest problem with this book is that I felt like some of the more interesting aspects of the storyline and characters were rather underdeveloped. There was a great deal of focus on life at the boarding school, but I think Gray could have gone into more detail on some of her more creative aspects of vampire culture vs. human culture. She really does a good job portraying some different ideas of vampire lore. Unfortunately, by the time we get to the real meat of the plot, there really isn't much time left to address it in the level of detail it deserves, if that makes any sense. I am hopeful this will be addressed more when I read the second book (which, by the way, I just ordered today).

However, I do think we have a great cast of characters and quite honestly, the story is engaging--along the same lines as another extremely popular vampire series (turned into movies) that shall remain nameless. I suppose this book is really a bit of a guilty pleasure, and you know something? Sometimes those are just what you need.

My rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Evernight:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review and I will add you to the list!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: Prophecy of the Sisters

Prophecy cover
Title: Prophecy of the Sisters
Author: Michelle Zink
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2009; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 352 pages
Book Source: purchased from


An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-

One good...

One evil...

Who will prevail?

Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.

They just know they can't trust each other.

My Thoughts

It took me awhile to read this book--there were many glowing reviews out there and I figured I would wait a bit before jumping in and checking it out. In the end, I am definitely glad I read it, but I have to admit it was slow going for me for about the first 100 pages--I had a difficult time getting drawn into the story initially.

The writing is great--as some of you may know from past reviews, I am not usually fond of the first person present tense in many books I read. The phrasing can feel awkward at times, in my opinion. Not so with this book! It was so well-written that I didn't even notice the point of view and tense for most of the book, which was a pleasant surprise. I also enjoyed the late 19th-century setting and felt that Zink did justice to the language and customs of the time.

Ultimately what I really appreciated about this book was the refreshing premise--this story is different from so much of the paranormal young adult fiction out right now. I also really appreciate the fact that the synopsis doesn't give too much away--that really adds to the enjoyment of the story, in my opinion. Once I was able to really be drawn into the plot and the characters I didn't want to put the book down. And silly me--somehow, even with all of the reviews out there, I didn't realize this was going to be a trilogy going into the book, and now that I've finished it I wish I had the second book close at hand! I am hoping that there will be further character development of some of the secondary main characters in the coming books. I feel that there was so much focus on the sisters, Lia and Alice, that some of the other important characters were left out in the cold.

The final verdict: Prophecy of the Sisters was definitely worth the read and, for me, mostly lived up to all the hype and great reviews out there.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Prophecy of the Sisters:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the URL for your review and I will add it to the list!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

WINNER: Murder on the Cliffs!

Thanks so much for all of the interest in the contest for Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis--I was excited to have an extra copy to give away to one of you! And now it's time to announce the winner, as chosen by

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! I have sent an email to the address you provided, please contact me within 48 hours or I will have to choose a new winner...

Once again, thanks to everyone who participated... Keep your eyes open, there will probably be another giveaway shortly down the road!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another Giveaway: Murder on the Cliffs

Book cover
Many of you might recall that earlier this month I participated in the Omnimystery Tour for Murder on the Cliffs, by Joanna Challis. If you remember, I LOVED this book, and it just so happens I received an extra copy, so I would like to give away my ARC to one lucky reader!

Here's how to enter:

1 entry ~ Leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.

2 entries each ~ Become a follower on Google Friend Connect (or let me know if you already are). Become a follower of @Melsbookshelf on Twitter!

3 entries each ~ Tweet about the contest, blog about it, stumble it, digg it, etc. and let me know in the comment by leaving links, etc.

As usual, my preference is for all your entries to be in one comment, but I will accept multiple comments as well :-) Please leave your email address in the comment so I can easily reach you if you are the winner! The giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY until Saturday, December 26th, 8pm EST. Good luck to all who enter!

Friday, December 18, 2009

WINNER: Nibble & Kuhn!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway this past week... has selected our winner this evening, so congrats to....

I have sent you an email to get your mailing address, so please respond within 48 hours or I will have to choose another winner. I hope you enjoy the book!


Friday, December 11, 2009

GIVEAWAY: Nibble & Kuhn

Book coverWell, I thought it was time to host another book giveaway. You might recall my review of Nibble & Kuhn a few weeks ago, but if not, be sure to take a look! If it sounds like something you want to read, here's a chance to win my ARC!

To enter:

1 entry ~ Leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.

2 entries each ~ Become a follower on Google Friend Connect (or let me know if you already are). Become a follower of @Melsbookshelf on Twitter!

3 entries each ~ Tweet about the contest, blog about it, stumble it, digg it, etc. and let me know in the comment by leaving links, etc.

Now, my preference is for all your entries to be in one comment, but I won't hold it against you if you leave multiple comments :-) And please leave your email address in the comment so I can easily reach you if you are the winner! The giveaway is open in the US only (sorry) until next Friday, December 18th, 8pm EST. Good luck to all who enter!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Audiobook Review: The Stolen Moon of Londor

Book cover
Title: The Stolen Moon of Londor
Author: A. P. Stephens
Narrated by: Richard Webster
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Pub Date: September 2009
Book Source: audio edition through Podiobooks, recommended by the author for review


The era of peace among the elves, men, and dwarves comes to an end when one of Londor’s twin moons disappears from the heavens. Without the moon’s balancing effect, evil forces grow bold, and warfare, sickness, and chaos threaten life itself.

Hearing the prayers of desperation that ride on the violent winds, the ancient wizard Randor Miithra, servant to the elf-gods, takes it upon himself to mend the world he has sworn to protect. The task will not be an easy one, though, for the wizard, too, has begun to feel the effects of the world’s imbalance. As Randor struggles to maintain some semblance of his powers, he meets a secretive band of colorful characters from all walks of life, drawn together by a common goal: to find the stolen moon, whatever the cost. It does not take Randor and his motley company long to see that someone or something does not want the moon returned to the heavens.

The road is perilous…the stakes have never been greater…will they find victory…or will they only find their deaths?

My Thoughts

When A. P. Stephens first contacted me regarding his book, I was very interested in checking out his first book in The White Shadow Saga, The Stolen Moon of Londor. I am very much a fantasy reader and lover and this book sounded intriguing. Is it ever! I enjoyed listening to it from start to finish and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the paperback to read through it again.

In my opinion, The Stolen Moon of Londor ranks right up there with some of my other favorite fantasy reads: Terry Brooks, Tolkien, Terry Goodkind... Stephens is great at giving a lot of vivid detail without becoming so involved that you lose sight of the story. As any good quest would have, there are many different characters, with varying personalities and talents, involved in this adventure to recover the stolen moon. Oh, and how about that for a fresh, new idea in fantasy? I am still anxious to find out where this story is going after the first book--how does one steal a moon, after all, even in a fantasy novel? But back to the characters--obviously they are not yet fully developed as this is only the first book in the saga, but already I can see that there will likely be some surprises along the way with this group. I can't even say that I have a favorite character yet, though I expect that to change as I continue reading the saga.

As far as audiobooks go, I have to admit I have never been too keen on listening to involved stories, because I worry that I will miss something. I was surprised at how easily I was able to follow and keep up with the events that were transpiring. I think it helps that Stephens does not get too involved in various events--the battle scenes are descriptive without becoming too bogged down, the world and events are presented in great detail without being wordy... In short, this book is well-written and to the point; there's not a lot of fluff here. The only thing I thought was missing was a more detailed account of the world of Londor itself. I didn't always find that I could picture it in my head, and perhaps that is something that will change when I reread the book as opposed to listening to it, I can't be sure.

I am most definitely looking forward to continuing The White Shadow Saga and anxiously await the publication of the second book. I would think that any reader who shares my affinity to fantasy works would enjoy Stephens' book and I urge you to check it out!

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of The Stolen Moon of Londor:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

WINNER: 16x20 Rolled Canvas Print

I'm excited to announce the winner of the 16x20 Rolled Canvas Print, courtesy of Online Poster Printing. This is such a cool item that will make a great present--even if it's only to yourself! :-)

So I'd like to congratulate our winner...

I am sending your email address to the sponsors and you will hear from them on December 12th, with further instructions on ordering your rolled canvas print at that time. Please be sure to have your image file ready.

Thanks to everyone who entered this contest and congrats again to Janssen!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Omnimystery Book Tour: Murder on the Cliffs

Book cover
Title: Murder on the Cliffs
Author: Joanna Challis
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: November 2009, Minotaur Books
ARC, 292 pages
Book Source: Received for review as part of the Omnimystery Book Tour


"The storm led me to Padthaway. 

I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me. 

It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny... 

So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.

Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.

As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets."

My Thoughts

I am embarrassed to admit that I've never read anything by Daphne Du Maurier, but reading Challis' mystery has made me strongly desire to remedy that. Many thanks to Lance and the folks involved with the Omnimystery Book Tour for Joanna Challis' breathtaking first book in her Daphne Du Maurier series. I'm excited to be a part of this tour!

I could not put this book down. The writing was breezy and flowed beautifully and I couldn't help but get wrapped up in the mystery and the characters involved. Challis has painted vivid scenery, emotions, and characters in Murder on the Cliffs. The mystery, though not particularly suspenseful, is well-done, with the blame shifting to and from the various suspects until the very end, when the real murderer is finally revealed. I enjoyed Challis' portrayal of Du Maurier as an amateur sleuth and her interaction with all of the characters. I was equally impressed by Challis' full-bodied, well-developed characters. Love them or hate them, they all played a key role in this story, be it large or small.

What really shines about this book is the element of historical fiction and the idea that this story led Du Maurier to writing her most famous work, Rebecca. Combined with Challis' talent for characterization and vivid descriptions, you have a book that will sweep you away into another world. If you enjoy mysteries, amateur sleuthing, and quality writing, I urge you to pick up a copy of Murder on the Cliffs. I truly don't think you'll be disappointed.

My rating: 5 stars

About The Author

Joanna Challis lives and writes in a colonial house with wrap-around verandahs and an English garden in Queensland, Australia, surrounded by family, old paintings, and anything fleur-de-lys. She is the author of several romantic suspense novels; Murder on the Cliffs is her first series mystery.


Joanna Challis is giving away a signed copy of her book, Murder on the Cliffs, to one lucky tour visitor. Simply go to her tour page,, enter your name, email address and this PIN: 3383 for your chance to win! Entries from Melissa's Bookshelf will be accepted until noon (PT) tomorrow, Thursday, December 3rd. No purchase required to enter or win. The winner will be announced on Challis' Book Tour Page next week!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review: Thanksgiving at the Inn

Book cover
Title: Thanksgiving at the Inn
Author: Tim Whitney
Genre: Young Adult, Holiday, Family, Fiction
Pub Date: October 2009, Bancroft Press
Hardcover, 223 pages
Book Source: Harrison at Bancroft Press

Synopsis (from the dust jacket)

Ever since his mother left, life hasn't been easy for Heath Wellington III. Between his father's (Junior's) bouts with alcoholism and literary rejection, and Heath's own wrongful suspension from school, there hasn't been all that much to be thankful for.

But following the tragic death of estranged grandfather Senior, father and son alike stand to inherit a life-changing fortune... with one catch.

Heath and Junior must spend the next three months managing Senior's bed and breakfast, located in the same Massachusetts home Junior has spent the last eight years trying to escape.

Upended from his everyday life and relocated to a town where everyone knew and loved the grandfather he can't even remember, Heath finds an inn full of some of the strangest people he's ever met, such as:

~ Winsted, the old, wise Jamaican man who used to lead the prayers in Senior's factory;
~ Mrs. Farrel, an elderly woman giving away her late husband's fortune letter by letter;
~ Mustang Sally, the muscle-bound, tattooed grease monkey who doubles as a children's author;
~ Carter, the silent TV news junkie and secret Harvard graduate.

And at a nearby school is Savannah, Junior's first love and her adorable, autistic daughter, Tory.

Bust most of all, there's Junior himself, vinegar to Heath's oil. As Heath adjusts to his new world, what he needs most is to start anew with his father, to understand that Junior, too, is dealing with loss, and to realize that even in the most tragic of times, there's a lot in life to be thankful for.

My Thoughts

First of all, I would like to thank Harrison of Bancroft Press for sending me a copy of this book!

Thanksgiving at the Inn is an easy, enjoyable read that is not only perfect for the holiday season, but any time of the year. While on some levels I felt that this story could pass for middle grade reading (except for some mild profanity), it is a story that really anyone of any age can appreciate. This story reminds us the importance of being thankful for what we have--and that it's important to remember that at all times, not simply when tragedy strikes.

In my opinion, the writing is generally solid, though the plot may be a tad predictable and some of the characters could stand to be fleshed out a little more--particularly Heath's father. What I did enjoy was the variety of characters we see--the synopsis sums them up nicely, and they make for an interesting premise. Some elements of the plot may not seem believable, such as Junior's transformation after his accident, but I think the real importance of this book is the message that Whitney is trying to send. While all of the serious issues are dealt with on a superficial level, that does help to keep the read a little easier for those young adults out there that Whitney is targeting.

If you are looking for a book that is a quick read with a message of gratitude, then you might considering giving Thanksgiving at the Inn a try.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Thanksgiving at the Inn:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giveaway: 16"x20" Rolled Canvas Print!

In preparation for the Holiday season Online Poster Printing is rolling out another giveaway – a 16x20 rolled Canvas! Rolled canvas prints are perfect for home decor, photo prints and signage. For more information on rolled canvas prints from Online Poster Printing, please click on the link provided or the image below.

This contest is open to US Residents only. One lucky winner will receive a 16x20 rolled canvas print plus free shipping, courtesy of Online Poster Printing!

Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment on this post telling me what photo gifts you'd like to have printed for your family and loved ones.

For additional entries, you may blog about this giveaway, tweet about it, become a follower on Google Friend connect, or become a follower on Twitter. Please leave me links/mentions in your comment, etc. for these additional entries.

This contest closes on Friday, December 4th, at 8PM and the winner will be chosen using and will be announced within the 24 hours following the closing of the contest! Good luck to everyone and thanks for participating!

Many thanks to Online Poster Printing for sponsoring this giveaway. For reviews on this company, please visit Yelp.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WINNER: Karma for Beginners

Sorry for the delay in posting this, I kind of forgot! Oops!

But chose the winner of Karma for Beginners today, drumroll please...

Congrats to.... Ms_Blingammm!!!

I've sent you an email, please email me your info within 48 hours or I will be choosing a new winner.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway... Keep your eyes open for another soon, perhaps a little Thanksgiving contest? :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: Nibble & Kuhn

Nibble & Kuhn cover
Title: Nibble & Kuhn
Author: David Schmahmann
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: November 2009, Academy Chicago Publishers
ARC, 279 pages
Book Source: Academy Chicago Publicity

Synopsis (from publisher)

An unraveling law firm. An unwinnable case. An unworkable love.

Derek Dover has it all.

Derek’s up for partner at Nibble & Kuhn just as that most proper of Boston law firms comically tries to ‘rebrand’ itself for the Google era. Pompous and arbitrary, the ruling junta of partners saddles him with a high visibility lawsuit just weeks before trial. The diligent young attorney arranges things so that Maria Parma, a new associate in the firm for whom he’s fallen hard, also gets named to the case. Maria, in turn, can’t keep her hands off Derek, but it’s complicated because she’s engaged to someone else.

As Derek prepares his case on behalf of seven young victims of an industrial polluter, his anxieties about his career and his torments over Maria’s mixed messages only increase. Have his eccentric WASP superiors handed him a ‘toxic’ case to ruin his chances of becoming a partner? How can he get his opponents to settle – an outcome the presiding judge all but demands – unless his unorthodox ‘expert witnesses’ perform with enough gravitas to match that of the other side with its Harvard Medical School scientist? Will Nibble & Kuhn survive the partners’ spectacularly bad business judgments? Does it even matter to Derek, given that his looming fiasco of a trial and his indiscretions with Maria seem set to sink any chance he ever had at partnership?

Ultimately, Derek sets into motion a line of inquiry that spins events entirely out of the control of the judge, jury, and any and all attorneys. 

My Thoughts

As I read this novel, I found myself wavering back and forth between feeling vaguely bored and detached, then intrigued and amused. Schmamann's writing is often dry, though ultimately that enhances the satirical nature of the story. Though I do not have a legal background, it was reasonably obvious when Schmamann was treating certain aspects of the legal profession with irony. With Nibble & Kuhn I also found myself reading another novel in the present tense, but this time it worked and rarely felt awkward.

Admittedly I was much more interested in the storyline involving the actual "unwinnable" case that Derek Dover was saddled with, rather than his workplace romance that was apparently going nowhere. Trudging through some of the drier parts of the book were ultimately worth it--the ending was priceless and one that I didn't see coming--a ridiculous conclusion that fit the rest of the story. It was truly a "laugh out loud moment." Overall, I thought Nibble & Kuhn was a good example of legal satire, and in the end I even enjoyed the outcome of Dover's relationship troubles.

My rating: 3 stars

Thank you to Jacob from Academy Chicago Publishers for the ARC. Readers, keep your eyes open for a giveaway in the near future! 

Other reviews of Nibble & Kuhn:

Drey's Library

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review listed here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giveaway: Karma For Beginners

Book coverI thought I would offer up my copy of Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank to another reader out there who might enjoy it. You can check out my review in the post below... Just because it wasn't my cup of tea doesn't mean it won't be someone else's, right?!

So here's how to enter:

+1 entry ~ Leave a comment telling me why you want to win this book.

+2 entries ~ Become a follower on Google Friend Connect.

+2 entries ~ Become a follower of @Melsbookshelf on Twitter

+3 entries each ~ Tweet about this contest, blog about this contest, stumble this post, Digg it, and/or bookmark it on delicious. Leave the various links, etc., letting me know you've done whatever it is you decided to do :-)

Since we're in the season of giving, I'd like to open this contest internationally, yay! Please be sure to leave an email in your comment so I have a way of contacting you. One comment with all the entries is preferred but not mandatory. This contest is open until Friday, November 21st at 8PM. Good luck to everyone!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review: Karma for Beginners

Karma For Beginners cover
Title: Karma for Beginners
Author: Jessica Blank
Genre: Young Adult
Pub Date: August 2009, Hyperion
Hardcover, 305 pages
Book Source: The Book Report Network on behalf of Disney-Hyperion


Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes.

Unless she’s with Colin, the gorgeous guy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he’s older—like illegally older—and Tessa’s taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it’s clear that something’s about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?

My Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to Nicole with The Book Report Network for sending me a copy of this book! Simply from reading the synopsis, I thought it sounded like an interesting premise and a promising story. Upon starting the book, I realized it was set in the 80's, which I also found to be a nice change from the modern setting that is usually depicted in stories lately. While I initially found the relationship between Tessa and her mother (and their move to an ashram) intriguing, ultimately the story fell flat for me.

I think the reason it didn't resonate is that I simply couldn't relate to the characters. I have never felt the way Tessa did, nor did I ever contemplate acting the way she did and making some of the decisions she chose. While this is supposed to be a young adult novel, I was really turned off by the amount of sex and drug use that was depicted. I guess it happens, but I have to admit if I had a 14-year old daughter, I would not want her reading this novel, nor do I really feel that is appropriate for anyone in that general age group. The first part of the story that focused on the move to the ashram and the effect it had on Tessa and her mother was certainly interesting, but the story started going downhill shortly thereafter.

The writing is generally solid, with my only complaint being the use of first person point of view. I seem to have become more sensitive to that lately and I really thought some of the phrases felt awkward simply because they were written in first-person. So, while I can appreciate that many people would probably enjoy Karma for Beginners, it did not work for me, nor would I feel comfortable recommending it to others.

My rating:

Other reviews of Karma for Beginners:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Review: The Victor

Title: The Victor
Author: Marlayne Giron
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 2009, Tate Publishing
Trade paperback, 272 pages
Book Source: Received from the author for review.


A benevolent King;
...his sword of power;
...a ruthless traitor bent on revenge;
...and the faithful son who stands in his way with the woman destined to share his throne.

Who shall emerge as the victor in this epic struggle between good and evil to govern the lives of hapless men?

My Thoughts

Many, many apologies to Marlayne Giron--I should have read and reviewed this weeks ago but have been in a bit of a reading funk lately as life has gotten in the way of my literary pursuits. I am hopeful that reading The Victor has brought me out of that funk--I greatly enjoyed this historical tale of betrayal, victory and romance.

While not without its flaws, The Victor is an enjoyable read that has a happy ending--my favorite kind! The story is simple: a man named Lucius seeks revenge against the king for banishment and nearly succeeds before the king's son saves the day. And you know what, the plot line works, plain and simple. My biggest issue was getting a grasp on the passage of time. Too often "many years passed," or something happened "year after year," leaving me with an uncertain feeling as to just how much time actually did pass throughout the story--ultimately, about 6-7 years. And perhaps the usage of "thee," "thou," and "thy" seemed a bit awkward at times, but generally I did not find it to be a detraction.

Overall, I thought The Victor was a nice read and never boring, which was nice. Giron minced no words, scenes, or characters to convey her exciting tale. I heartily recommend this book if you are looking for an epic historical romance that is a relatively easy read and ends with everyone getting his or her just desserts. For more information on Marlayne Giron and The Victor, please visit her website!

My rating: 4 stars

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review here, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winner: The Lost Chalice

Somehow I completely forgot to post the winner of my copy of Vernon Silver's The Lost Chalice! Oops! So without further delay, I'd like you all to join me in congratulating...

Please send me your mailing information within 48 hours and I will ship the book to you by the end of the week! If I do not hear from you by this time on Friday, I will have to choose a new winner... Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. Keep your eyes open for more contests soon!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

David Douglas's Demon's Bane Giveaway!

David Douglas Banner

Through the wonder that is the Internet, I've had the pleasure to be in touch a bit with David Douglas, author of Demon's Bane, a high fantasy novel that is due out in December or January. Given that I LOVE fantasy novels, I am definitely excited to read Demon's Bane! So I thought I would share with all of you the contest that David Douglas is hosting on his site--a lucky winner will receive a copy of Demon's Bane once it has been published! The first winner will be chosen the last week of October, so be sure to visit his site to learn more about the contest and how you can enter. There are also stories and excerpts from Demon's Bane, along with lots of other fun stuff!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

GIVEAWAY: The Lost Chalice

Book cover
Well, I tried as hard as I could to finish The Lost Chalice by Vernon Silver, but I guess I have simply determined that nonfiction books are not for me.

I actually thought this book was very interesting, and I am sure that lovers of art and art history--or just history in general--would really enjoy it. The Lost Chalice is well-written and has some interesting "characters" but I just never could get into the story, despite its many positives.

I would like to give this book to another book-blogger out there who can do it justice, so I am holding a giveaway for my copy.

The rules this time are easy... (1) Simply leave a comment to enter the contest! (2) Become a follower/friend on Google Friend connect for an additional entry (or if you already are a follower, let me know).

This contest is open to residents in the US only, sorry. You have until midnight EST on Saturday, October 17th to enter! Good luck!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Note to Publishers and Authors

Greetings! My apologies to those of you to whom I have promised reviews that have not yet been written. Please know that you and your books have not been forgotten; I have simply been swamped at work and have fallen far behind with my reading and reviewing. Rest assured that your books will be reviewed as soon as I possibly can, and I will contact you when the review has been posted. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

One additional note: I am really cutting back on the number books that I take for review at this time. Because my schedule is so hectic, it is not fair for me to accept a book to review and then not manage to get to it within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis, but I simply want to be fair to all of you!

I am hopeful that my schedule will normalize a bit in the next month or two and that you will see more reviews coming soon!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Belated Announcement: Winner of The Popularity Rules!

First off my apologies for completely forgetting to announce the winner of my copy of The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald... Thank you to everyone who entered. has selected the winner, so congrats to...

Katie of Katie's Bookshelf!!!

I have sent you an email, please let me know your mailing address within 48 hours, or I will have to select another winner. Congrats again and I hope you enjoy The Popularity Rules!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Winner: Signed Copy of Fire!!!

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a winner of the SIGNED COPY of Fire by Kristin Cashore... Drumroll, please... Congrats to:

Krista of

I've sent you an email, as well, but please send me your mailing information within the next 48 hours so that I can pass it along to the Fire Tour folks. If I don't hear from Krista in 48 hours, I will choose a new winner...

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, I hope you've enjoyed the awesome blog tour for Fire!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Audiobook Review: Cat & Mouse

Book cover
Title: Cat & Mouse (Abridged)
Author: James Patterson
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Pub Date: December 2007, Hachette Audio


The latest of installment of the bestselling Alex Cross series finds James Patterson's intrepid Washington, D.C., homicide detective besieged by not one, but two deadly killers. To make matters worse, Cross has fallen deeply in love with Christine Johnson -- last seen in Jack & Jill-- a relationship that leaves him and his family all the more vulnerable to the deadly game his murderous opponents have devised. 

My Thoughts

My apologies for the drought between reviews. Work has kept me VERY busy lately. I did manage to get through this audiobook during my commutes over the past week and was glad to be listening to books on CD again.

I have not read many of Patterson's Alex Cross novels, but those that I have read so far have generally been exciting and suspenseful. Cat & Mouse was no exception. As always, I can live without the sex that Patterson inevitably includes but without a doubt he knows how to write a thriller that will keep you on your toes. One downside to this audiobook was that the quality of the recording was not that great--there are two readers and they were obviously recorded in different conditions; the two recordings just did not seem to blend together very well.

Overall, while the poor recording quality was distracting, I did enjoy this book and look forward to listening to more Patterson novels soon. His books, with their short chapters, really do work well for my commutes.

My rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Cat & Mouse:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Victor

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~ Grab your current read
~ Open to a random page
~ Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~ BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~ Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine this week:

Sir Finrod could not believe his ears. "You would have him returned to you alive after today's deviltry?" he sputtered. He had been expecting orders for Lucius' Keep to be fired and his body left for the carrion foul [sic] to feast on.

~ page  17 of The Victor by Marlayne Giron

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Winner: Poster from Digital Room

Thanks to everyone who entered to win an 18"x24" custom poster from Digital Room! has selected the winner:

I will be sending your email address to Digital Room, and they will contact you shortly regarding your poster! Congratulations!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kristin Cashore Blog Tour & Giveaway: Getting to Know the Characters of Fire

Fire Tour logoI'm very excited to be the 8th stop on Kristin Cashore's Fire Blog Tour, where Kristin tells us a little bit about all the important characters in Fire, the companion novel to Graceling. Today's character just so happens to be one of my favorites, so I'm pleased to share more about him with you, courtesy of Kristin:

"Prince Brigan, Nax and Roen’s younger son and the Dells’ military commander, is also trying. Trying to prevent an inevitable civil war; trying to keep his brother, the king, focused; trying to fight off the looting parties that are the scourge of the mountains; trying to get to his appointments on time; trying to fall asleep at night and rarely succeeding. He would also very much like to have a try at breaking Fire’s neck. Sigh… too much to do…."

You can click on the tour logo above to read about the other featured characters on the blog tour, as well! There are many more to come! If you'd like to read my thoughts on Fire (I loved it!), please check out my review! If you're as excited about the release of Fire as I am and want to Tweet about it or tweet about this awesome blog tour, please use the #firetour tag as part of your tweet!!

You can also read a sample from Fire here:
Fire by Kristin Cashore

And perhaps you've noticed my countdown widget, noting the release of Fire on October 5th. Looks like this:

And maybe you'd like to show this little widget on your own blog? If you would, you can visit this link for the Fire widget!


I am able to give away one SIGNED COPY of Fire (to a winner in the U.S. only, sorry) as a part of this tour! How cool is that?! Here's how to enter:

+1 entry: Leave a comment telling me which character is your favorite on the tour so far.
+1 entry: Become a follower on Google Friend Connect
+1 entry: Tweet about this contest on Twitter (using #firetour and @Melsbookshelf in your tweet, please!)
+1 entry: Share this post on Facebook and leave me a link to your posting
+1 entry each: Stumble, Digg, bookmark this post on (The buttons are all handy at the bottom of this post!)

Yes, I'm keeping this a little easier when it comes to calculating all the entries this time, but you can still earn up to 7 entries for this contest if you choose to do them all!

The last day for entries is Saturday, October 3rd at midnight. I will announce the winner on Sunday, October 4th and once I have mailing info, I'll be forwarding that along!

Good luck!