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!