Friday, November 26, 2010

Where's Melissa?!

Wow, it has been awhile, hasn't it?  I'm truly sorry about that, but admittedly other areas of my life are so full and busy right now that there just hasn't been the time (or even the passion) for book blogging.  I've still been reading here and there, but really haven't had the urge to write any reviews (of course, a few of my more recent reads have actually been RE-reads).

So, no, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth.  Far from it!  In fact, I'm pretty excited to be able to make an announcement that I've been sitting on for awhile now... My husband and I are expecting our first baby next May!  Just when I thought I was busy, our life is about to get even crazier, but we can't wait! I am out of the first trimester and just beginning the second.  I just found out that we may even be able to find out what we'll be having at my 17-week appointment just three days before Christmas, I can't wait!

Hopefully now it's a bit more understandable why I just haven't been around that much.  Unfortunately, I can't promise that is going to change.  While I am not precisely declaring a formal blogging break, don't be surprised if you only hear from me very sporadically for awhile.  I'm just not ready to give this up quite yet!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday.  I know we are thankful for so much right now, so it was a very special holiday for us!  Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Victory

Title: Victory
Author: Susan Cooper
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult/MG
Pub Date: December 2007, Simon & Schuster Children's
Paperback, 224 pages
Book Source: Purchased from



Sam Robbins is a farm boy, kidnapped to serve on HMS Victory, the ship on which Lord Nelson will die a hero's death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Molly Jennings is a twenty-first-century English girl transplanted to the United States by her stepfather's job, who's fighting her own battle against loss and loneliness.

Two lives that couldn't be more different, two hundred years apart, are linked by a tiny scrap of fraying cloth, tucked into an old book. It draws Molly into Sam's world, to a moment in time that changed history — a frightening shared moment that holds the key to secrets from the past and hope for the future.

My Thoughts

A light and easy read, Victory is a book I know I would have enjoyed had I read it at the age Cooper intended the book for.  The story is told in alternating points of view, going back and forth between Sam Robbins and Molly Jennings, which tends to keep things moving pretty quickly.

While there are obvious connections between these two characters, the more you read, the more you want to know just why their lives would be connected.  In the end, while I suspected what was coming, no matter how improbable it may have been, I really enjoyed how Cooper laid everything out and revealed all of the pieces of the puzzle.  It was also interesting to have a glimpse of the history of Lord Nelson, even though it came in a fictionalized setting.

I think readers young and old could appreciate this story not only for its plot and setting, but also for the cast of characters.  If you are looking for an adventure that won't bog you down but will keep you entertained, I definitely recommend Victory.

My Rating: 4 stars

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mystery Mondays: Review: Pushing Up Daisies

Title: Pushing Up Daisies
Author: Rosemary Harris
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: February 2008, St. Martin's Press
Book Source: Received my copy from the author for review


Thirtyish former television exec Paula Holliday relocates from New York City to sleepy Springfield, CT, determined to turn her passion for gardening into a new, less stressful career.

When an eccentric spinster dies, her landmark property is left to the local Historical Society, and Paula sees the garden’s restoration as a way to get her fledgling business off the ground. She’s prepared for everything, but not for the mummified baby she digs up her first day on the job. After a cursory investigation, the local police decide it’s an old secret, not a recent crime, so they drop the matter, but . . . Paula’s not so sure.

Casual snooping turns serious when someone is impaled on a garden tool and one of Paula’s helpers is arrested for the crime. Aided by the still-hot aging rocker who owns the local greasy spoon, a Shakespeare-quoting massage therapist, and a handsome Mexican laborer with a few secrets of his own, Paula unearths more dirt the suburban town has kept buried.

Rounding out the cast, and among the suspects, a randy Congressman and his gin-swigging mother, an amoral newspaper reporter, an octogenarian ladies’ man, childhood sweethearts reunited after 50 years, and a tattooed lady you wouldn’t want to mess with.

My Thoughts

Have you been looking for a fun, cozy mystery to read?  Then I would urge you to try out Rosemary Harris' Dirty Business mystery series!  Quirky and entertaining, Pushing Up Daisies is a very worthy debut in the world of cozy mysteries.

While the overall story and mystery might have benefited from a bit more fleshing out, this book remains a winner.  With a wide array of characters, most of whom are quite likeable, you can't help but expect some interesting events to occur, and Harris certainly takes us for a winding ride on the way to solving the puzzle.  In the end, since everyone in town seems to have a secret to hide, there's more than one mystery that needs to be solved, which adds a bit of spice to the story.

Yes, there's also a bit of potential romance in the air with this book--two eligible bachelors are introduced, in fact.  So now, not only do I look forward to trying out another of Harris' mysteries, I am anxious to see who Paula Holliday ends up falling for.  Again, many thanks to Rosemary Harris for sending me Pushing Up Daisies for review!

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Pushing Up Daisies:

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!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review: Guardian of the Gate

Title: Guardian of the Gate
Author: Michelle Zink
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2010, Little Brown
Hardcover, 340 pages
Book source: Purchased at B&N @ Ga Tech


As sixteen-year-old LIa Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy that has divided her family for generations, her twin sister, Alice, works to hone the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants. There's also Lia's beloved, James.

The sisters always knew that the prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do.

In the end, only one sister will be standing.

My Thoughts

There's definitely no sophomore slump for Michelle Zink with Guardian of the Gate! While I had a difficult time getting drawn into Prophecy of the Sisters (but ultimately enjoyed it), I was immediately hooked on this story. Perhaps that was because I was already familiar with what was going on from the first book, though I also think the action really started very quickly in this book.

We see quite a bit of character development with Lia and her two friends--two of the four "keys" in the prophecy. And yes, there is betrayal that is heartbreaking and potentially detrimental to their mission, but we are left with hope in the end as well. Speaking of characters, there is just one thing that bugs me about this book, and that's the introduction of Dmitri, who I feel came out of nowhere to find a place in Lia's heart. What about James?! Is he so easily forgotten? I am definitely curious to see how that storyline evolves in the third book. Don't get me wrong--I rather like Dmitri's character, I just don't know how I feel about his place in the story.

There is quite a bit more world-building in this book as well, as we follow Lia's journey to Altus and read about her time there. We've been given a few more pieces of the puzzle, yet there is still so much more to be learned about the prophecy and everyone's role in it. Overall, this was a great read that was easy to get sucked into. If you liked Prophecy of the Sisters I definitely think you will enjoy Guardian of the Gate.

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Guardian of the Gate:

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!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review: Clockwork Angel

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2010, McElderry Books
Hardcover, 478 pages
Book Source: Purchased from


Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Thoughts

Those of you familiar with my blog and books I've read probably know that I loved Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. Clockwork Angel serves as a prequel to those books, and while I generally hate to see series end and look for related books, I have to admit it took me quite awhile to really get into this one.

I really can't put my finger on what it was about this book that caused me to really have to plod through nearly half of it before it clicked for me. Part of it may have been that I didn't find a lot of the characters to be very compelling (initially), or perhaps it's the fact that the story just seemed to move slowly for awhile. Whatever the case, eventually the plot found a good rhythm and I was finally pulled into the story and couldn't put it down. As always, Clare resolves some aspects of the storyline but leaves us hanging on perhaps the most interesting points. I would rather have some resolution than have the entire story left wide open, though!

Those of you who enjoyed the Mortal Instruments series will likely enjoy this book. It might be beneficial to read this one not long after finishing that series, though. I have read so many books since finishing those, that it took me awhile to get back up to speed with the premises behind the story.

My Rating: 4 stars>

Other reviews of Clockwork Angel:

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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: A Scattered Life

Title: A Scattered Life
Author: Karen McQuestion
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: August 2010, AmazonEncore
ARC Paperback, 255 pages
Book Source: Received my copy from the author for review.


Free spirit Skyla Plinka has found the love and stability she always wanted in her reliable husband Thomas. Settling into her new family and roles as wife and mother, life in rural Wisconsin is satisfying, but can't seem to quell Skyla's growing sense of restlessness. Her only reprieve is her growing friendship with neighbor Roxanne, who has five kids (and counting) and a life in constant disarray--but also a life filled with laughter and love.

Much to the dismay of her intrusive mother-in-law, Audrey, Skyla takes a part-time job at the local bookstore and slowly begins to rediscover her voice, independence, and confidence. Throughout one pivotal year in the life of three very different women, each will learn what it means to love unconditionally.

My Thoughts

While not my typical reading fare, I can see how the story in A Scattered Life would have widespread appeal. At just 255 pages it is an easy read that was a breeze to get through, although I have to admit that by the time I finished it I was a bit underwhelmed by the overall story. The potential was there for a great book (even though it would probably still not be one I would choose for myself), but I thought it fell short in several ways.

Both the characters and the plot really needed to be fleshed out in a bit more detail. So many of the characters, whether the women of focus or some of the supporting cast, really felt stereotyped and not individualized the way they could have been. Audrey was the rather annoying, meddling mother-in-law, while poor Skyla was trying to find herself and be understood by her husband and his family, and then there's the crazy new neighbor, Roxanne, her husband, and their wild group of boys. As for the story itself, it was alright, but would have been better for a bit more depth and an ending that wasn't quite so rushed. Given the relative shortness of the book, I don't think it would have hurt if it was a bit longer, if that means including more detail that adds both to the plot and to the emotional depth.

While tragedy eventually rears its ugly head (and we all know how I feel about stories like this--it was a disappointment when I realized where the story was heading), there is a glimmer of hope and happiness that peeks out at the end of the book. If only the means to the end hadn't been so scattered and ultimately heartbreaking, I would have enjoyed this book more. As noted at the beginning of this post, I received this book for review from Karen McQuestion, and would like to thank her for sending me a copy!

My Rating: 3 stars

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

Monday, September 6, 2010

WINNER: The Life O'Reilly

It's that time! Time to announce the winner of a signed copy of The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen! Many thanks to all of you who entered the contest. In the end, there could only be one winner and I let choose the lucky reader. Congratulations are in order for...

Please join me in congratulating Sharon on her win! I will be sending out an email and if I don't hear back from her within 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.

Review: Mockingjay

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian fiction
Pub Date: August 2010, Scholastic, Inc.
Hardcover,  pages
Book Source: Purchased from


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year. -- Scholastic

My Thoughts

It is so hard to believe that we have finally come to the conclusion of the Hunger Games trilogy. I can remember putting off my reading of the first book simply because I didn't know if it could live up to the hype for me. Now I am wishing that I could just keep turning the pages--though I do intend to (so to speak) down the road. I really think that this series would benefit from a straight read-through when I have the time to devote to it (and a smaller TBR pile, haha).

I have to be honest, though, and say that while I enjoyed it, Mockingjay was not my favorite book of the three--that honor still goes to The Hunger Games. As usual, I found myself completely swept up in Collins' story, alternately applauding and lamenting at the unfolding events. Overall, I really thought the story played out like it should have--though for a brief moment I really felt like she should end up on either Team Gale or Team Peeta. For most of the series I really have been a staunch supporter of Team Gale and the events of Mockingjay eventually led me to the other side. What Peeta was forced to do and experience thanks to the Capitol was unbelievably horrendous, and I was impressed with how Collins depicted his story and the other characters' reactions to what he had become. I think the biggest fault I can find with this book is the overall pacing. The third part really snowballed and ended the book much too quickly in my opinion, while there were some earlier parts that dragged a bit more than necessary.

My feelings by the time I closed the book? Satisfied, yet a tinge of sadness that the story was over. The epilogue was a nice touch, even though I yearned for a bit more from it. But perhaps that was the point in the end. I really do look forward to taking the time to read this series from start to finish sometime down the road--I think I'll appreciate this powerful story even more.

My Rating: I actually changed this to 5 stars since re-reading the series.
5 stars

Other reviews of Mockingjay:

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: Lies

Title: Lies
Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal, Sci-Fi
Pub Date: June 2010, HarperTeen
Hardcover, 447 pages
Book Source: Purchased from B&N@GT


It's been seven months since all the adults disappeared. Gone. 
It happens in one night. A girl who died now walks among the living; Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach; and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most: Drake. But Drake is dead. Sam and Caine defeated him along with the Darkness—or so they thought. 

As Perdido Beach burns, battles rage: Astrid against the Town Council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake, who is back from the dead and ready to finish where he and Sam left off. And all the while deadly rumors are raging like the fire itself, spread by the prophetess Orsay and her companion, Nerezza. They say that death is a way to escape the FAYZ. Conditions are worse than ever and kids are desperate to get out. But are they desperate enough to believe that death will set them free?

My Thoughts

With each book, Grant's story becomes more and more incredible. This series is definitely not for the faint of heart, as Grant does not mince words when describing the horrific events that are unfolding in the FAYZ. While I was frustrated by the seeming lack of progression in the second book, Hunger, I was morbidly captivated by the transpiring horrors and nonstop action in Lies.

What I like the most about this series is that I think the kids' actions, emotions, and reactions are absolutely believable given the completely unbelievable world they have found themselves in. I found myself able to understand everyone's point of view and was anxious to see how Grant would resolve some of the tumultuous turns that relationships took. Again, we were really only teased with the importance of Little Pete in this novel, but it was quite the teaser to say the least. Two new characters were added to the mix in Nerezza and Orsay, and their importance would have benefited from more development of their stories and characters, in my opinion.

Overall, I really do not have many complaints about this book, except that I was hoping that everything would be wrapped up and it is obvious that there must be another book coming down the road to answer more questions. All I can do is anxiously wait for more...

My Rating: 4 stars

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: A Bride in the Bargain

Title: A Bride in the Bargain
Author: Deeanne Gist
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: June 2009, Bethany House
Paperback, 362 pages
Book Source: Purchased from BJ's Wholesale


In 1860s Seattle, redwoods were plentiful but women scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free.

Joe Denton doesn't have a wife, though. His died before she could follow him to Seattle, and now the local judge is threatening to take away his claim. In desperation, he buys himself a Mercer bride--one of the eastern widows and orphans brought to the Territory by entrepreneur Asa Mercer.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Mercer is an escape from the aftermath of the Civil War. She signed on to become a cook--not a bride. When she's handed over to Denton, her stubborn refusal to wed jeopardizes his land. With only a few months before he loses all he holds dear, can he convince this provoking, but beguiling, easterner to become his lawfully wedded wife?

My Thoughts

While A Bride in the Bargain is published by a Christian publishing house, I think it is safe to say that this novel is perhaps more of a historical romance. There are some mild Christian references, but nothing that is overly preachy--meaning this is my kind of Christian fiction. No one was trying to convert anyone or force someone to church every Sunday.

I thought this story was a very enjoyable read, though at times Joe's and Anna's interactions were frustrating and perhaps not quite believable. Some of the blunders that both made along the way just didn't seem realistic, though I suppose that love (and desperate circumstances) can make you do and think crazy things. Why Joe chose to keep certain information and events from Anna just didn't seem to me to make a lot of sense, and I thought that Anna had a tendency to overreact, as well. In the end, though, everyone lives happily ever after, and isn't that really what is most important?

I think that my favorite part about the book was not actually in the story, but it was the author's note at the end, where I learned that this story is based on real historical events. The information Gist provided made the story that much more intriguing, in my opinion, and gave me a deeper appreciation for this book. Fans of both Christian fiction and historical fiction should give Gist's books a try--I don't think you would be disappointed!

My Rating:  4 stars

Other reviews of A Bride in the Bargain:

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!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review: The Girl Who Chased The Moon

Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: March 2010, Random House
Hardcover, 265 pages
Book Source: Purchased from B&N@GT


Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother's life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew--a reclusive, real-life gentle giant--she realizes that mysteries aren't solved in Mullaby, they're a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson's cakes--which is a good thing, because Julia can't seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town's sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar... Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she's hurt in the past?

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily's backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

My Thoughts

Once again, Sarah Addison Allen has written a charming novel with just enough magic, mystery, and romance to make for the perfect escape. I have highly enjoyed each of her books, and while this one may not have been my favorite of the bunch, I still loved it!

My favorite part about Allen's books is that you could almost believe the stories are true--including the bits of magic. It is so easy to be completely swept into her stories, and this one is no exception. In The Girl Who Chased the Moon, we once again have the perfect mix of original and quirky characters, most of whom have more than a bit of mystery they are hiding. While the story is perhaps meant to focus more on Emily and her search for answers, I found myself much more interested Julia's story and what would become of her. My only wish is that this book could have gone on a little longer and deeper into the various storylines. On the one hand, I loved the way the story ended, on the other, I simply wanted to know more and what the scene to follow would be like!

If you are looking for a story to take you away (to a charming Southern town, no less), look no further than Allen's books. There is usually a bit of sexuality, but nothing that is over the top offensive. Now that I've had the opportunity to read each of her books, I can't wait for the next!

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of The Girl Who Chased the Moon:

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

GIVEAWAY: The Life O'Reilly

Happy Saturday, everyone! Welcome to your chance to win a SIGNED copy of The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen! Mr. Cohen has been so generous as to sponsor this giveaway and I am excited to bring it to you! If you'd like a refresher on what this book is about along with my thoughts, please feel free to visit my review (which just so happens to be the post below this one)!

Here's how to enter (as always, my preference is for one comment with all your entries, but it's not required):

+1 entry ~ Comment on this post and tell me why you want to win this book. Please be sure to leave your email address so I can easily reach you if you're the lucky winner!

+2 entries each ~ Become a follower on Google Friend Connect, Twitter (@Melsbookshelf), and/or Facebook's Networked Blogs and tell me that you did in your comment, along with any links to that effect.

+3 entries each ~ Join the Melissa's Bookshelf Facebook Page, Stumble, Digg, or bookmark this post on del.i.cious, post about the giveaway on your blog (sidebar or a separate post is accepted), tweet about the giveaway (please include @Melsbookshelf in your tweet), comment on my original review. Be sure to let me know you've done these in your comment on this post and include any applicable links.

As always, there are a lot of ways you can enter and increase your chances of winning... This contest is open to residents in the U.S. You have until midnight EDT on Sunday, September 5th to enter and the winner will be announced Monday, September 6th! Good luck!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: The Life O'Reilly

Title: The Life O'Reilly
Author: Brian Cohen
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: October 2009, iUniverse
Paperback, 266 pages
Book Source: Received a copy for review from the author, many thanks!


On the outside, Nick O'Reilly has it all: a high-flying legal career, as a partner of an elite Wall Street law firm, and financial security, with an apartment overlooking Central Park. Having grown up in a working-class family, as far back as Nick can remember this was his dream. But at the age of thirty-six, after several years of sacrificing his personal life for professional gain, Nick has started to ponder his future and consider the mark he wants to leave on society both professionally and personally--his legacy. 

After being chastised in the press for turning a cold shoulder to the community, the firm calls upon Nick to help rehabilitate its image by handling its first pro bono case. Nick is asked to represent Dawn Nelson, a domestic violence victim who is fighting for custody of her young son, Jordan. A far cry from Nick's specialty of defending the misdeeds of Corporate America, it is up to Nick to set Dawn and Jordan on a path to a better life. But Nick gets much more than he signed on for, as Dawn forces him to reassess his life choices and, ultimately, be true to himself. Only when Nick finally realizes what is truly important in life does he face his toughest--and possibly final--challenge: a battle for his own survival.

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying that this is probably the most difficult review I have had to write to date. I have actually been sitting on this book for several days now, pondering the words I am getting ready to write. That might sound like it doesn't bode well, but I am rating the book highly--though, if this makes ANY sense, not because it was a book I enjoyed by the time I put it down. Doesn't that sound horrible? I don't mean for it to, but I am trying to be 100% honest in expressing my thoughts about The Life O'Reilly.

I probably should have realized this book would not be one I would typically choose to read--in the end, I felt as if it were a Nicholas Sparks novel, but only for the emotionally charged aspects of the storyline. (And in all honesty, I have only read one book by Nicholas Sparks and that was enough for me!) I simply do not knowingly choose stories to read that tend to be sad or potentially emotionally draining. Those aren't my kind of books. But what I can say about this book is that it is very well written with brilliantly portrayed characters, and that is why--even though I didn't enjoy the overall direction the story ended up taking--I had to give it a higher rating. Cohen deserves recognition for being able to cause readers to feel strong emotions--even in earlier scenes at the law office, I was getting very irate with the way that Nick and other lawyers were treated. To me, if a story or its characters can cause such strong emotional reactions in the reader, then the writer has most likely done his or her job.

There were certainly highs and lows, and while the end does throw one for a bit of a loop, I was left with just one impression by the last page. And honestly, it was the perfect way to end that book. So for those of you who enjoy emotionally wrenching stories, this book is definitely for you. For anyone who might be offended by language and mild sexual content, be warned you'll find it. If my review has intrigued you enough, pick up a copy and give it a try! Thank you again to Brian Cohen for sending a copy to me!

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of The Life O'Reilly:

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

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review: Dragon Flight

Title: Dragon Flight
Author: Jessica Day George
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub Date: April 2008, Bloomsbury
Hardcover, 255 pages
Book Source: Purchased from


In her last adventure, Creel talked her way out of a dragon's clutches. Then she talked her way into a job as a seamstress, caught the eye of a prince, foiled a diabolical princess's plans to take over the country, and, oh yes, was named Heroine of the Dragon Wars for her troubles.

Now, with the Dragon Wars over, Creel is back to work as a seamstress. Business is steady and life is good, but it's also a bit... dull. So when word comes that a bordering country has been training dragons for an imminent invasion, Creel throws herself into the line of duty again. After all, joining forces with the dragons, rekindling friendship with the prince who captured her heart, and maybe--just maybe--saving the day has got to be more fun than sewing dresses for some snooty duchess, right?

My Thoughts

Jessica Day George is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA fantasy authors. While I have to admit that I probably liked Dragon Slippers--her first effort--a bit better, Dragon Flight is still a very enjoyable read that is easy to get lost in.

What truly makes these books so enjoyable is the colorful cast of characters. I have found it so easy to become attached to Creel, Prince Luka, and others that help them along the way. And anyone who gets in their way is depicted so well in their opposition that you can't help but appreciate them for what they are in these stories. So while the plot might be a bit (just a bit) lighter in this book, the characters and their antics more than make up for that slight weakness. Marta comes into her own during the latest Dragon War after she and Creel get into a pretty impressive scrape when trying to help Prince Luka and the Faravelan soldiers in their effort to stop the invasion.

Again with this story, George's writing is easy to read and wonderfully vivid to the imagination, which I always think is important for YA fantasy novels. When I pick books like this up, I want to be swept away into the world I am reading about, and that is just what happens with George's books. I am looking forward to reading Dragon Spear and concluding this series, though no doubt I will be sad to leave Creel and her adventures behind. If you (or someone you know) is looking for an enjoyable YA fantasy read, I highly recommend these books!

My Rating: 4 stars

I'd love to link to other reviews of this book! If you have reviewed Dragon Flight and would like to see a link to your site listed here please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mystery Mondays: Maid of Murder Blog Tour!

Welcome to the kickoff of Amanda Flower's blog tour for her mystery debut, Maid of Murder! I am excited to share with you my review of her cozy mystery and hope you'll give it a try, yourself! Let's start off with the basics, shall we?

Title: Maid of Murder
Author: Amanda Flower
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: June 2010, Cengage Gale
ARC, 280 pages
Book Source: Received my copy from Vera at Luxury Reading--many thanks for including me in this blog tour!


India Hays is a lot of things... starving artist who pays the rent as a college librarian, daughter of liberal activists, sister of an emotional mathematician, tenant of a landlady who has kissed the Blarney Stone one too many times, and a bridesmaid six times over. But she's about to step into the most challenging role of her life: amateur sleuth.

Childhood friend and now knockout beauty, Olivia Blocken is back in town to wed her bodybuilder fiance with India a reluctant attendant... not just because the bridesmaid's dress is a hideous mess, but because she's betraying her brother. Mark still carries a torch for the bride who once broke his heart and sent his life into a tailspin.

When Olivia turns up dead in the Martin College fountain and the evidence points to Mark, India must unmask the real culprit while juggling a furious and grieving Mother of the Bride, an annoyingly beautiful Maid of Honor, a set of hippie-generation parents, the police detective who once dated her sister and is showing a marked liking for her, and a provost itching to fire someone, anyone--maybe even a smart-mouthed librarian.

India's investigation leads her on a journey through childhood memories that she'd much rather have left in the schoolyard, but to avoid becoming the next victim, it is a path she must follow. 

My Thoughts

By now most of you who are familiar with what I review will know that I always enjoy picking up a mystery book! Whether it's a complex "whodunnit" that is sure to surprise or a cozy mystery with humor and other interesting tangential side plots, I can't help wanting to try to solve the crime before the culprit is revealed.

Amanda Flower's Maid of Murder certainly falls more into the cozy mystery category, with more than its share of quirky characters and amateur sleuthing by India Hayes. Sprinkled with humor and wit, this book tells the story of a tragic pre-wedding murder and shows you all sides of the crime and the people involved. A more varied group of suspects and supporting characters you'd be hard-pressed to find, from India's nosy Irish landlady, to the deceased bride's testosterone-filled fiance, to her liberal parents and their hunger for causes and demonstrations. And that's only the start!

The mystery itself isn't too complicated and naturally we are led to suspect several people before the murderer is revealed. The story is fast-paced, thanks to India's desire to pursue the investigating on her own--although her methods are at times more of a hindrance to her brother's case than a help. I really enjoyed reading this book--Flower's timely use of humor and dry with make for an entertaining read. My only disappointment was in how quickly the case wrapped up once we were hot on the trail of the murderer. I would have been happy with more fleshing out of that aspect of the storyline--and I have to admit I wouldn't have minded seeing more development of the budding relationship between India and Detective Mains. Oh, in case you are wondering, I did figure out who killed Olivia before it was revealed--it wasn't a huge surprise for more than one reason...

If you're looking for a quick read and a cozy mystery, you might like to pick up a copy of Maid of Murder and give it a try!

My rating: 4 stars

Other stops on the Maid of Murder Blog Tour:

Bookin' with Bingo - August 11th (interview)
The Lit Witch - August 12th
Just Short of Crazy - August 16th
Reading at the Beach - August 17th
Books and Needlepoint - August 18th
Books By Their Cover - August 19th
Luxury Reading - August 20th

For more information on Amanda Flower, please visit her website and look her up on Facebook! To purchase a copy of Maid of Murder, please visit!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Review: Linger

Title: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fiction
Pub Date: July 2010, Scholastic Press
Hardcover, 360 pages
Book source: Purchased from


The Longing.

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with the werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.

The Loss.

Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.

The Linger.

For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces--wolf and human--with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

My Thoughts

Linger is one of those books that, while I am not 100% sure exactly what I was expecting, was not at all what I expected. Oh, as with Shiver, it is still primarily the story of Grace and Sam, but it takes twists and turns before it finally ends up in a place I certainly saw coming--but it was the route that Stiefvater takes us that makes this book stand out.

As always, I am honest with my reviews, and I have to start by saying that it took me awhile to get into this story. I was sucked into Shiver from the start, but Linger took much longer to sink in and grab hold. Cole was a character that just didn't interest me initially. No, not until I realized that he was going to be pretty important to the story did I become intrigued by his problems and mysteries. In fact, I think Cole ends up being such an important piece of the puzzle that I wish Stiefvater had devoted more time to rounding out all facets of his development that culminate in what he really brings to the story towards the end of the book.

With these books, I always pull for the couples, but I have to admit I found myself liking Sam less and less as the story went on. He just seemed rather weak and disappointing until he finally snaps out of it a bit towards the end. But let me tell you, with the hand that Stiefvater has shown us, I am even more anxious to read the continuation of this series to see how the story unfolds. What else will Cole bring to the table? Just where does Isabel fit in, other than the fact that her brother died trying to cure himself of becoming a wolf? Will Sam and Grace finally make it--and what of her relationship with her parents? It's funny, but as I grow older I can see more and more the side of the parents in these conflicts--though in this case Grace does make a pretty strong case for herself, as well. There is nothing to do now but wait for more!

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Linger:

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!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mystery Mondays: Review: Revenge Served Cold

Title: Revenge Served Cold
Author: Jackie Fullerton
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Pub Date: May 2010, Thomas House Publishing
Paperback, 287 pages
Book Source: Received a review copy from The Cadence Group--many thanks!


Kathy Spence awakens in the middle of the night and finds herself in a living nightmare. Her husband has been run down and she is the primary suspect. With an eyewitness to the crime and proof that her car was the murder weapon, it appears to be an open-and-shut case.

Terrified for her future, Kathy turns to amateur sleuth, Ann Marshall, for help. Believing in Kathy's innocence, Anne launches her own investigation, uncovering proof of a conspiracy that reaches from Kathy's past and threatens her own life.

In a race against time, Anne must count on her close friends and even the ghost of her father to help her bring a killer to justice before it's too late.

My Thoughts

Many thanks to the folks at The Cadence Group for providing me with Ms. Fullerton's latest thriller, Revenge Served Cold. My thoughts in this book ran the gamut of emotions from the moment I picked it up until I finished the last page.

I will admit that as I worked through the first 40-50 pages, this book read like a soap opera and I began to wonder if I would make it through the story. Then, however, Fullerton starts putting the pieces in place and I was hooked. Yes, we know that Kathy Spence is not the murderer, but we are left guessing as to who it might be--from two possible suspects. I was pretty sure I knew who did it all along and upon reading the inevitable (though relatively minor) "twist" I learned that I was right! Paced rather quickly, Revenge Served Cold is an easy read with just enough pull to keep you turning pages. The writing and dialogues may lack color, but I finished it easily in one morning and it was nice to whip through the pages and forget the outside world for a few hours. I could have done without the ghostly encounters with Anne's father, mainly because she likely wouldn't have been able to solve this mystery without her deceased father's help, and that point bugs me just a bit.

For the most part, though, I was enjoying my escape into this book until the last couple of chapters of the book when our heroine did something so ridiculously reckless and stupid, I found myself annoyed through what was meant to be the most suspenseful part of the book. I just don't see how anyone with half a brain at all would do what Anne did towards the end of the story--particularly upon learning that the case should be wrapped up fairly shortly. I will leave it at that. Sadly, the way things played out with Anne further tainted my feelings on this book, but if you are looking for a tidy little mystery that won't occupy too much of your time, Revenge Served Cold is just the book for you!

My Rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Revenge Served Cold:

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!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Hunger

Title: Hunger
Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Pub Date: May 2009, HarperCollins Publishers
Book Source: Purchased at B&N@GT





Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.

Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.
The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

My Thoughts

This review has been a long time coming but I really haven't had time to sit down and put my thoughts together to write it thanks to work. Today I finally am doing just that, even though it's been awhile (for me) since I finished it. The final verdict? A worthy effort, but Hunger just doesn't live up to Gone, in my opinion.

Given how long this novel was--nearly 600 pages--I expected a lot from it, and I have to admit I found it a bit wanting. As with Gone, I was rather sucked in, but by the time I read the last page, the realization hit me that Grant really didn't advance the plot along all that much for all the many, many words between the covers. I was also slightly turned off by the increased violence and gore, but once again I think that Grant does a good job portraying what would truly be happening in a situation like the one that these kids find themselves in. There were certainly some tense and exciting moments, but overall the pacing was not as fast as it probably needed to be for a book as long as Hunger is. However, Grant's imagination is truly unbelievable and unforgettable as you read about the powers that children are developing or the mutating creatures in FAYZ. I always marvel at the creativity that goes into developing stories like these.

We do see some hints of things to come and given bits of new information about some of the key characters and their powers, but I felt that Little Pete ultimately did not get his fair share of the storyline. This kid seems like he is going to be important, but I would like to have learned a little more about him than we did in this book. I guess in the end, the only way to say it is that this book felt like mostly fluff and filler, and I sincerely hope we return to the meat of the story in the next book, Lies.

My Rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Hunger:

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!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Mister Monday

Book cover
Title: Mister Monday
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy
Pub Date: June 2003, Scholastic, Inc.
Paperback, 361 pages
Book Source: Purchased from B&N@Ga Tech


Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then his life is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock.

Arthur is safe--but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with bloodstained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back--even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.

Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house--a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key--and discover his true fate.

My Thoughts

Mister Monday is the first book I have read by Garth Nix and I decided to pick it up because I have heard many good things about this author from many other book bloggers out there. I must say it was an interesting story--quite bizarre, actually, though also very intriguing and ultimately difficult to put down.

Poor Arthur certainly doesn't seem like much of a hero throughout most of the book--though he does desperately want to save his own world from the dreaded "sleepy plague." But for the most part he struggles--fighting against his own health issues and his fears of the new realm in which he finds himself. Along the way Arthur meets many strange characters, a few of whom will prove to be on his side and help him in his quest to find the mate for his minute-hand-key. The sequence of events and location are truly out-of-this-world and often left me shaking my head, but somehow in the end the story does make sense.

Engaging and often sprinkled with wit and humor, Mister Monday is a fine start to what I imagine will prove to be a fascinating series. I'm only sorry I am so late in getting into it, but as they say, better late than never! I don't know if I would have picked this book up without having heard more about Garth Nix beforehand, so I am glad I decided to. It's quirky and a bit different, but the adventure and characters make the story worth reading.

My Rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Mister Monday:

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!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

WINNER: Demon's Bane!

Good morning and Happy Sunday! Time to announce the winner of last week's contest for Demon's Bane. This week, congratulations are in order for...

Please join me in congratulating her! I have sent out an email, but if I do not hear back from her within 48 hours I will choose a new winner.

I will be taking a break from giveaways this week, but don't worry--a new one will be posted next Sunday, so stay tuned! I should have a review or two coming later this week, as well.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Demon's Bane

Book cover
Welcome to this week's giveaway: my paperback copy of Demon's Bane by David Douglas ! You might remember that I reviewed this book earlier this year, so please check it out to refresh your memory and see if you're interested in reading it!

Here's how to enter (as always, my preference is for one comment with all your entries, but it's not required):

+1 entry ~ Comment on this post and tell me why you want to win this book. Please be sure to leave your email address so I can easily reach you if you're the lucky winner!

+2 entries each ~ Become a follower on Google Friend Connect, Twitter (@Melsbookshelf), Facebook's Networked Blogs and tell me that you did in your comment.

+3 entries each ~ Join the Melissa's Bookshelf Facebook Page, Stumble, Digg, or bookmark this post on del.i.cious, post about the giveaway on your blog (sidebar or a separate post is accepted), tweet about the giveaway (please include @Melsbookshelf in your tweet). Be sure to let me know you've done these in your comment and include any applicable links.

As always, there are a lot of ways you can enter and increase your chances of winning... Once again, this contest is open internationally! You have until midnight EST on Saturday, July 10th to enter and the winner will be announced sometime on Sunday, July 11th, as will the next giveaway! Good luck!

WINNER: Storm Born!

Book cover
It's Sunday morning, time to announce the winner of last week's contest for my copy of Storm Born! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. This week has chosen...


Please join me in congratulating her! I have sent out an email, but as always, if I do not hear back within 48 hours I will choose a new winner. Keep your eyes out for this week's giveaway, which I'll be posting shortly.

And Happy Independence Day to those of you in the U.S. Hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend!! :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: Dragon Slippers

Book cover
Title: Dragon Slippers
Author: Jessica Day George
Genre: Young Adult, MG, Fiction, Fantasy
Pub Date: March 2007, Bloomsbury USA
Hardcover,  pages
Book Source: Purchased at B&N @ Georgia Tech


Many stories tell of damsels in distress who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor and swept off to live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories.

True, when Creel's aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that a knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it's Creel who talks her way out of the dragon's clutches. And it's Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king's city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.

But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom... or destroy it.

 My Thoughts

Do you ever read a book by a "new-to-you" author and think, "where has this person been all my life?!" Well, that is how I felt about Jessica Day George as I read Dragon Slippers. I have seen reviews of her more recent titles but wasn't really driven to pick them up (who knows why?), and now I can't wait to get my hands on every book she's ever written. Imagine my excitement when I discovered there are actually sequels to this book, as well!

Yes, that's just how much I enjoyed Dragon Slippers. It is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year--perhaps even since I have been reading. I honestly loved everything about this story: the characters, the plot, the dialogues, the fictional world George created... I actually finished this book a few days ago but have really been savoring it mentally before writing this review. Lately I have felt my reviews have become stagnant and I haven't always felt inspired when I write them, but this one just poured right out of me. Jessica Day George has really taken the meaning of fairytale, dusted it off, and given it a new shine. There were so many scenes and quips that made me smile or laugh out loud, making this book a true pleasure to simply get lost in. Indeed, just reading the excerpt on the back cover was enough to tell me I was going to enjoy reading Dragon Slippers.

I often compare how I enjoy books now to how I might have reacted to them when I was younger, and this is one of those books that I know I would have read over and over again. Maybe I just didn't have as much exposure to the right books when I was a young reader growing up, but I often feel that the selection today is quite a bit richer than it was when I was little. Thank goodness I can still appreciate wonderful books such as this one even now, and I imagine I will for the rest of my life. If anything I've said in this review has given you cause to think you might like to pick this book up, trust me, you definitely want to and should grab a copy as soon as you possibly can.

My Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Dragon Slippers:

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!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Sea Glass

Book cover
Title: Sea Glass
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub Date: September 2009, MIRA Books
Paperback, 379 pages
Book Source: Purchased from B&N @ Ga Tech


Student glass magician Opal Cowan's newfound ability to steal a magician's powers makes her too powerful. Ordered to house arrest by the Council, Opal dares defy them, traveling to the Moon Clan's lands in search of Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man—now her prisoner—claims Ulrick's desire for blood magic has eclipsed his passion for her.

In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get close. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain…

My Thoughts

Despite that "dangerous" comment I made to start my review of Storm Glass, the streak continues for me with Snyder's books. By the time my review posted a couple of days ago I had already finished Sea Glass and was lamenting the fact that the last book isn't due out for nearly three more months!

In all honesty there isn't much that I can add to what I have already said I loved about this series and Snyder's Study series. Her world-building is one of the key aspects that makes these books so good--both with respect to the actual lands and countries and the people of the various clans that inhabit them. And for those of you who were perhaps disappointed by Opal's character in the first book (though I wasn't), we see tremendous character growth and development in this second book in the series. If you don't love Opal by the end of this book, I have to admit I would be surprised. Actually, there are two or three minor twists that I think set up some interesting storylines for the third book and I am anxious to see how the story concludes.

My only beef with this book were two pretty obvious typos that I came across while reading, which I find disappointing when you think of the editing that should be going into these books. However, because I couldn't put this book down I can't let that detract from my rating, and so once again we see a top rating for Snyder! While some don't care for these books as much, for some reason both her Study series and Glass series have really resonated with me.

My Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Sea Glass:

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Dragon Slippers

Teaser Tuesdays Logo
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!
Book cover
Here's mine...

"It's a human," Shardas said in his dry way. "You've seen a human before, haven't you, Feniul?"

"Of course I know it's a human, but what are you doing with it?" The other dragon, which I could now see was bright green, made a disgusted face as best it could. "You're not going to eat it, are you?"

~ page 47 of Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George