BBE Scavenger Hunt!

Hi y'all! I've got something different and exciting to offer today, and I think you'll enjoy it. One of the totally awesome blogs I follow (and get to contribute to a`la the Best Book Ever weekly feature), Short and Sweet Reviews, is celebrating their one year blogoversary with a week of giveaways and fun. Today's giveaway is a super awesome Best Book Ever scavenger hunt!

How does it work? Well, swing by Short and Sweet Reviews (you can click the image below to go to the Best Book Ever International Giveaway page) and see today's post featuring whatever book we bloggers felt like gushing over today. Then make sure you check out every blogger's post for a special coded phrase - it'll be in bold - because you will need those phrases to enter the daily giveaway. (Another happy note: Participating bloggers are also holding their own giveaways, including me! So keep reading!) Now, let's get this show on the road...

Short and Sweet

One of my favoritest (I have an English degree, I say it's a word) YA novels ever is Pegasus by Robin McKinley. It's a book I sort of stumbled upon, mainly because I fell in love with the cover, and then the story sucked me in. It was an emotional read that took over my dreams at night and made me wish for a pegasus of my own. I mean seriously: Sylvi, the Princess, has her very own pegasus, Ebon. And she can ride him as he flies! AND she can talk to the pegasi! How cool is that? McKinley is well-known for her ability to create engrossing worlds and memorable characters, and this novel definitely has a special place in my heart. I'm counting down to the sequel, because I feel like half my heart was torn out when I read the last page -- fair warning: MAJOR cliff-hanger awaits the reader, but the journey makes up for the fall.

As I typed this, I swung by Goodreads and discovered that Robin McKinley will actually be writing two more Pegasus books! I. Am. Giddy. Oh, what a painfully long wait...

...Remember how I said every blogger is also hosting a giveaway, including me? I bet you're getting curious, aren't you? Wait no longer, here are the details of my giveaway:

I'm offering a "Reading Surprise Pack" here on A Word's Worth. What does that include? If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise - but I will give you a hint: there's swag! Entering is easy, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Since I'm paying for shipping, I'll have to limit winners to US only. Winner will be emailed, and have 48 hours to reply or I will choose another winner. Good luck! And don't forget to check out all the other giveaways!


Blog Tour: Downtown Green

Today I'm happy to be a stop on Judy Christie's blog tour with Pump Up Your Book! for Downtown Green. After you check out my review, click the banner above to see the whole tour schedule and swing by the other posts.

Downtown Green
Judy Christie
Abingdon Press, 2012

Note: Downtown Green is the fifth book in a series about Green, Louisiana. I somehow managed to miss this detail until I started reading, but thankfully it can be read as a stand-alone.

As Downtown Green opens, the town is just preparing to celebrate the opening of a new bypass loop - one with more opponents than advocates. With a quicker way to get around town, downtown traffic drops off dramatically, with a direct impact on local business. Finding a way to restore downtown Green, Louisiana becomes Lois Craig's new mission (as if running a newspaper and adjusting to being a new mom weren't enough work). Along the way, she finds surprising allies and hits heads with old enemies - and unexpected tragedy - but never wavers. Green has gotten into her blood, and Lois is like a mama bear defending her cubs (or in this case, her town). This premise alone is an interesting read, and Christie does a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters - which results in even more layers to the story, as each player in the cast of characters goes through their own set of misadventures, linking everyone in ways that only happens in small, Southern towns.

What I really, really loved about Downtown Green was the realistic feel. Green, LA could have been any number of small towns in the Deep South - it reminded me of several I have experienced. Everyone knows everybody else's business, and actually cares. The town is more than just a group of people and shops, it's the heartbeat of the community, and as people rally around the common cause, they rediscover existing bonds and forge new ones - both with their town and with each other. Meeting these characters, peeking into their lives, made me want to take a stroll through Downtown and stop to chat with whoever I happened to meet. Well, with almost anyone, some of them I could happily avoid, but you'll have to read about them yourself. These are real characters, flawed but good. They're truly wanting to do what's right for their community and fellow man. There is an element of "God talk" to Downtown Green, but it's gentle and has the same sense of authenticity as the characters and town. This is the Deep South, after all. All in all, an easy read that I think a lot of people can relate to - even if they're not from the South.

Book provided by publisher for review.


Blog Tour: Awkward + Guest Post by Marni Bates

I am happy to announce a fun blog tour stop today! Marni Bates, author of Awkward, has written a fun guest post for you today, and I've got a review of Awkward below (as well as links to catch up with Marni around the interwebs). If you want to check out the other stops along the tour, just click the banner above.
Comedy is the first thing I look for when I start a book. If an author can make me laugh within the first fourteen pages, I will hunt down everything they’ve ever written and be anxiously awaiting the newest release by the end of the week. I really enjoy funny, thoughtful books that have a core of sweetness about them. Which doesn’t mean it has to be overly romantic, just . . . sweet.

I know. That’s descriptive.

Pet Peeve alert: if the girl is supposed to be “spunky” she can’t turn into a dishrag over some guy. Pride & Prejudice is the best example of a romance done right because Elizabeth Bennett is the coolest fictional female ever! She knows how to handle herself under pressure, even when some hot jerk announces that she’s not very attractive (“Not tolerable enough to tempt me.” Oh, Darcy, you’ll regret that!). She is fiercely loyal and values her friendships enough to speak up on the behalf of others even when that is uncomfortable. Oh, and she never stops teasing Mr. Darcy. That might be what I love the most about the novel: you really know that he fell in love with her because he never tries to force her to change. I would love to see more contemporary YA books with that kind of a dynamic. Whenever characters can acknowledge each other’s flaws and embrace them . . . it makes me go all mushy.

That’s what I mean by sweet.

I’m also a sucker for some good inner turmoil, although I’m not a fan of the my life is soo hard!!! PITY ME!!! rant. I prefer it when characters struggle to contain their feelings or when they evaluate them. When I was writing Invisible (Jane’s novel), I loved how much she cares about Mackenzie and Corey. She considers them her best friends and she wants nothing but happiness for them both. Yet, she’s also feeling a bit abandoned in the wake of their new relationships. For the first time, their bond comes into question and that propels Jane into her journey. One that leads her to some rather unexpected places . . .
To learn more about Marni, check out http://marnibates.com/. She's also on twitter!
Don't forget to add Awkward to your GoodReads page either, and now read on for my review...

Marni Bates
Kensington, 2012

Mackenzie Wellesley has always tried to avoid attention, especially at school. High school is a rough place, and as a member of the "Invisibles", Mackenzie knows not to attract the notice of the "Notables". Well, she does tutor Logan - THE most coveted Notable (male) of them all, but that's business. They could never be friends. And her long-time crush Patrick (also a Notable) has no idea she exists. Mackenzie's not a total loner though, she has her two best friends Jane and Corey, and all is right with her world. Until the day she accidentally flattens a football star and attempts CPR. Pretty awkward, right? It gets worse: someone videoed the fiasco and once it hits YouTube, it's viral. Uh-oh. So much for being invisible.

As Mackenzie adjusts to the sudden spotlight, she grows as a person. Realizing that not all the results of her sudden fame are bad (free designer clothes to drool for? backstage passes to THE rock show? yeah, these are good), Mackenzie struggles to find a balance. Swinging too far into the frenzy, she overreacts by pulling back and landing in a massive awkward pit of "now-how-do-I-fix-this?" But through it all, she has a great group of friends, including Logan - though she realizes this just as she loses him. Mackenzie's journey to normalcy puts the teenage drama of high school into a unique light, and though parts of the story seem amazingly far-fetched, there's also a sense of "this could actually happen". It feels real. It has realistic situations that could very well happen in a high school anywhere in the USA. But it's also fun, it's quirky.

Mackenzie has her faults, and at times I wanted to shake her into seeing what was really going on. Thankfully, she has a cast of supporting characters to do that for me, and things start progressing as they should. Awkward isn't just the story of how one girl handles unexpected fame and popularity, it's also about the universe process of growing up and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. There are so many people who haven't learned this yet, and I always appreciate when I find books that relay the message so winningly. The sneak peeks in the back of the book have me eagerly awaiting the next Marni Bates release!

Book provided by publisher for review.



Lisa T Bergren

Oh. My. Goodness. If you're a new reader, you may have missed my head-over-heels, gushing fall into love with Lisa Bergren's River of Time series. You can catch my reviews for the first three books here: Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent. If you have not read these, you really should (and as soon as possible), because the story is ah-mazing. I'm going to try very, very hard to keep this review of Bourne spoiler-free for you, because the River of Time journey is totally one you need to make for yourself.

For those who have read all the books, Bourne is a novella - Lisa's calling it "River of Time #3.1" - that picks up literally where Torrent ends. As in, the day after The Battle. As a novella, it's shorter - roughly a third of the novels' length - and it covers a shorter period of time, just a few days. Those days however, are intense. Things are still uneasy between Florenze and Sienna, and since Castello Forelli is on the front-lines, there's always potential for danger. Especially when the She-Wolves are victorious again. But the tension in the Castello is more than just the threat from the North, it comes from within. The bond of brotherhood existing between Marcello, Luca and Lord Greco is strained. Everyone is trying to navigate the new place they find themselves in, while also handling their haunting pasts.

Bourne is told in alternating perspective from Gabi and Lia, as their stories - their places in medieval Italia - begin to take slightly different paths. This allows for a more dynamic and detailed story overall, as well as allowing Bergren to get into the characters themselves. As Gabi and Lia adjust to their new situations, and the ongoing border war, they do a lot of thinking about themselves and those around them. And we get to see it all, and in the process learn more about these brave Italian hearts that have captured our imagination. I loved getting to see Lia's side of things, and watch as she becomes ever more comfortable in her role as a She-Wolf. (I'm pretty sure Luca has something to do with that). As with each of the novels, Bourne ended too soon - and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment, breathlessly waiting to see what happens next!

eARC provided by author for review.

If you want to read Bourne, it's available at these retailers (ebook only):
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Bourne-River-Time-Novella-ebook/dp/B007E4RWSI

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bourne-lisa-bergren/1109160629?ean=2940013977914&itm=1&usri=lisa+t+bergren+bourne

Smashwords (all kinds of formats): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/136620


Today I guest review...

There is a review today, but you need to swing by Indie Jane to read about Barbara Cornthwaite's George Knightley, Esquire series!


Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley
PD James
Knopf, 2011

I'm not a big mystery reader, and have never read anything by PD James, but when I kept hearing about her newest novel Death Comes to Pemberley I decided to give it a shot. (Plus, it counts towards the Jane Austen Genre Challenge!) True confession: I did not read the entire book. I read the first two "books", skipped over the middle section, and skim-read the last two books.

It started out a little slow, but had the feel of setting the stage. There were a lot of details about life at Pemberley, and the lives of all the characters of our most beloved Pride and Prejudice following the close of Jane's novel. I did not mind this setting up, and actually liked that James was taking the time to do things right. But once the action started, the pace stayed painfully slow. It felt very circular, and nothing was going anywhere fast. So I skipped the middle section, and was able to pick up at the end without a hitch. In fact, I felt like if I had read the book straight through I'd be feeling even more circular and repetitive. I will say that things wrapped up neatly, and I was rather satisfied with the ending.

The characters are pretty believable, feeling true to the way I read Jane's originals - though I'm not entirely sold on the discussion that takes place during the Epilogue. James wrote an interesting twist to the Col. Fitzwilliam side of things that was a little unexpected, but fit logically. And in a really fun bit of writing, characters from Persuasion and Emma have roles in the story! (Maybe the other novels are represented in the middle section I skipped over?) Basically, the story is decent - it was just way too slow for me. And since I was able to skip the whole middle section and not feel like I missed anything...You come to your own conclusion. Maybe I just fail at mysteries...

Book provided by my local library.


A Weekend with Mr Darcy

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy
Victoria Connolly
Sourcebooks, 2011 (UK publication: 2010)

This had all the elements I love about 'British chick lit' with the added bonus of Jane Austen! The majority of the novel takes place at aweekend-long conference on Jane Austen, hosted by Dame Pamela at her extensive and gorgeous home Purley Hall. The conference is an annual event, with numerous regular attendees who jump at the chance to spend an entire weekend indulging their addiction to all things Austen (including, oh happiness, a costume ball!). With this romantic backdrop, our three main characters: Warwick, Katherine and Robyn find themselves pulled into their very own Jane-worthy romances. But will all end happily ever after, or is that only for the novel world?

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy is told in alternating perspective from each of the main three characters, which gives us a unique look at the way their stories develop. Especially the growing relationship between Warwick and Katherine - Warwick has a secret, a BIG secret, that we know but Katherine does not. It makes their interactions very interesting, and leads to some awkward moments. Robyn has awkward moments of her own, as her need-to-break-up-with boyfriend crashes the conference. Multiple times. Even more awkward is that Robyn stands a very real danger of falling head-over-heels for Dame Pamela's younger brother.

The best way to sum up this novel is: "the course of true love ne'er did run smooth" - all the right elements are there, but because our characters are human, they make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. Their journey to self-discovery, with the gracious assistance of Dame Pamela and the support of other Jane Austen addicts, is an engaging and entertaining tale. As their self-discovery leads them to new journeys and adventures, things fall into place in a way that even dear Jane would approve of. A fun, light read with just a hint of seriousness to give it flavor. Can't wait to see what the next two installments of the trilogy will be like!

eBook provided by my personal library.


Blue Moon Promise

Blue Moon Promise
Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson, 2012

While I have drooled over Colleen Coble's covers before, Blue Moon Promise was the first novel I've actually been able to read (thank you, BookSneeze!). Oh my. I know what all the excitement is about now! (And this also means I will be stalking my library and/or bookstore for more of her novels).

Elements of Blue Moon Promise reminded me of the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis (considering that there are multiple references to this story, I think it's fair to say we should make that connection). Lucy's father has died in a tragic accident, and her stepmother opted to leave her two children - Jed and Eileen - with Lucy while she moseyed off with her boyfriend. It's a bleak situation, made worse by the fact that Lucy suddenly finds herself unemployed, evicted, and being followed by a stranger. When one of her father's former friends shows up with a proposition, Lucy decides it's God's answer to her problems, and she agrees to marry his son - Nate - by proxy.

Upon arriving at the Stars Above Ranch in Texas, Lucy finds that she has her work cut out for her in terms of earning the respect - let alone love - of her new husband. Nate's first reaction to Lucy is loud and vehement: he's not interested in a wife, and especially not a wife his father picked out for him. And she's so tiny and from the city - how will she ever survive on a cattle ranch? As Lucy begins to work at making Nate's tiny cabin into a home, and they slowly get to know each other, each realizes they were wrong and God knew what He was doing when things fell into place the way they did. Eileen and Jed do a lot to smooth the transition as well, though all is far from perfect - and there are many struggles and obstacles to face. Obstacles like discovering someone has followed them from Indiana to Texas, and lingering uncertainties about their father's death. Every thing that occurs tests Nate and Lucy to their core, and each has to come to terms with their pride and need to control every aspect.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this story play out - I wasn't sure where it was going, and a few of the twists and turns caught me by surprise. There were enough details to flesh out the context without coming across as a super technical read on cattle ranching and frontier life. Lucy was a delightfully flawed heroine, as was Nate - where most Christian fiction characters come across as perfect (and thus my main problem with a lot of Christian fiction), Lucy and Nate are very human. I could relate to them, and their struggles - it was believable and realistic. And a truly beautiful story. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Coble's novels, if they're anything like this!

Book provided by publisher for review.


New Books!

Time for another montly recap of books now in my possession! (Or, you know, on my Kindle...) I like keeping track of my acquisitions this way, and it's also a lot easier to keep them separated properly. You'll notice this month there's a NetGalley category -- I've officially joined the league of NG bloggers, and am thrilled that I've been able to tap into this resource and gain access to great titles!


For Review:


Any of these on your To Read list? I must say I'm incredibly excited about Bourne and Unbreak My Heart! Also, stay tuned because Downtown Green and Awkward are both going to be March blog tours!