The Battle of Darcy Lane

The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando (received finished copy from publisher at BEA14)

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Best friends Julia and Taylor are bored. They are bored of spending their summer days floating in the pool, even if it cools them off. They are bored of waiting for the cicadas to emerge, even though Julia has practically convinced herself that that isn’t actually going to happen. And they are even bored of playing their most favorite game, millionaire.

What both girls needs is a little excitement in their lives.

And excitement arrives with the moving truck that is parked outside of the house across the street. That moving truck brings more than furniture, it brings Alyssa. And with Alyssa comes the game Russia.

But Alyssa isn’t the kind of friend that Julia wants. For one thing, Alyssa is mean. She seems to take pleasure in making Julia miserable. Secondly, she thinks way too highly of herself. That’s why Julia had to accept her challenge of going up against her in a Russia match. And worst of all, she seems to have stolen BFF Taylor.

Julia’s boring summer is quickly turning into the summer she will never forget. Not only has she found new friends, and a new game to play, but Julia also finds herself. But is that enough to stand up to Alyssa? Is it enough to win the game?

Author Tara Altebrando’s The Battle of Darcy Lane is a middle-grade debut that is sure to stun and captivate readers of all ages.

There are several factors that make this book such a great read. The first of those factors being the writing. I said it once, and I’ll say it again: Altebrando truly has a way with words. Her writing is strong, engaging, and above all things it’s descriptive. So much so that readers will easily be transported into the heart of the story.

Another one of those factors are the characters. Julia, Taylor, and even Alyssa are true representatives of twelve-year-old girls. Julia is honest and innocent. She’s ready to be independent, but still slightly scared to leave the cover of her sheltered life. Taylor is curious, always wondering what it would mean to have a new, more popular friend. And then there’s Alyssa who will always be mean to others to make herself feel better about herself. She truly represents the old mantra kids can be cruel.

Julia, The Battle of Darcy Lane’s leading lady, is a one of a kind character. She has real spunk. She’s the kind of character that young readers will want to be friends with, will overwhelmingly cheer for, and will easily relate to. For us older readers, Julia is the kind of character that will remind us what it was like to be twelve. She will remind us about a time in our lives where we are giving up our beloved toys for a training bra.

And still, another factor that makes this book a five star read is the game Russia. It adds a layer of depth and tension to the plot of The Battle of Darcy Lane. Not only does it give main character Julia a chance to vindicate herself, but it also gives her the confidence she needs – not only to win, but to survive the tween years.

The Battle of Darcy Lane is a five star book for me. And I think, if you dear readers, pick this book up, it will be for you too. This book captures all the good, the bad, and the in between moments of a very specific period in life. And it’s done with honesty and true emotions.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Backlist TBR List That I Totally Plan on Reading in 2015

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. The above photo was taken and altered by me.

Hello Readers!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie. That means that I can pick any topic I want. So I decided that today’s topic would be the top ten books on my backlist TBR list that I totally plan on reading in 2015.

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Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, & Lauren Myracle

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

Starstuck by Cyn Balog

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Looking for Alibrandi by Marlina Marchetta

The Keys to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson

Vesper by Jeff Sampson

Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Stealing Heaven

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

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Eighteen-year-old Danielle is a thief. And a good one at that. After all, not only has she been breaking, entering, and lifting silver since she was a small child, but she has been taught by the best of the best: her mother. Not only has her mother taught her everything she knows, she has also taught her that leading a life of crime isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity.

So when mommy dearest announces that it’s time to pick up their worldly possessions and move, Danielle isn’t surprised. But Danielle wonders. She wonders what it would be like to move and stay in one place for an extended period of time. She wonders what it would be like to lead a normal life. She wonders exactly where her mother is taking them, and why.

Turns out, her mother has her eyes set on Heaven. A sleepy, seaside town with big mansions  and even bigger wallets. But her mother isn’t interested in all of Heaven, she’s interested in the Donaldson house.  The Donaldson house belongs to one of Heaven’s oldest and richest families.

Danielle expects to move in, pull off the silver heist, and move out. What she doesn’t expect is to find some sense of normalcy: a home she’s comfortable in, a friend or two who seem to like her for who she appears to be, and even a possible love interest.

But while Danielle’s hatching her own plan to give up this life of crime, her mother continually plots. Will Danielle be able to find what she’s looking for? Will she finally be able to stand up to her mother, and walk away from her life of crime? Or is she doomed to live the life her mother has mapped out for her?

Stealing Heaven, written by author Elizabeth Scott, is a contemporary read that will, not only entertain readers, it will also engage them.

Elizabeth Scott’s writing is simply great. It’s smart, it’s original, and she relies not just on telling a story, but rather showing a story. When Scott describes this small, seaside town, she paints a vivid picture in the reader’s minds eye. Going into Stealing Heaven, as a reader, I simply thought this would be just a fun book. A book that I would enjoy, but that’s it.

What I got instead is a book, that while fun, is so much more. The plot is unique and drums up loads of questions. Questions about family, family loyalty, and the roles we play within the family unit. Even though I loved the storyline, I will admit there were some predictabilities. But those predictabilities honestly didn’t ruin or deter the book.

Beyond that, it’s full of genuine and memorable characters. Leading lady Danielle is a strong main character, that falls and fumbles. She’s flawed, but ultimately she’s real. Because of that, she’s so easy for reader to both relate to and cheer for.

Scott’s Stealing Heaven is great book, one that I expected to like, but not love as much as I did. Honestly readers, pick this book up! This contemporary read is full of thrills, chills, and even a budding romance!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2014 Releases That I Meant to Read but Didn’t

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. The above image was taken and altered by me.

Hello Readers!

It’s been quite some time I posted one of these. Seriously, I don’t even remember the last Top Ten Tuesday post I posted!

There were a lot of books I planned on reading in 2014. But unfortunately I never got around to reading them. Why? I’m not really certain why I didn’t get around to these 2014 releases. Maybe it was because I hit quite a few reading slumps. Maybe it was because I wasn’t in the mood to read that specific book. Or maybe it was because I didn’t read the book that was released before it.

Whatever the reason is, I’m hoping to read some, if not all, of these books in 2015.

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Unhinged by A.G. Howard

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The Unbound by Victoria Scott

 Defy by Sara B. Larson

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Are You Up For The Challenge?!?

Hello Readers!

It’s a new year! And you know what that means, right? Not only does it mean new books, but it also means a new reading challenge. Whether it’s a challenge you set up for yourself or a challenge hosted by an outside source, a challenge is a challenge.

And this year, there are quite a few challenges floating around. For instance, Goodreads (for those of you who don’t know Goodreads is a social networking site dedicated to books and all their readers) allows all users to deem how many books they are going to read and set their own challenge. Besides that, a lot of great bloggers are hosting their own reading challenges that you can join in on.

Beyond Goodreads, like mentioned above, there are blogs aplenty hosting challenges. Sara from What Sarah Read and Kate from Literary Kate are teaming up with Epic Reads and hosting their own challenge called the 365 Days of YA.  Basically, Epic Reads created this nifty and very handy graphic detailing 365 great books! The graphic and challenge have been broken down by season, monthly, weekly, and even daily reads. But because of that, it makes this challenge all the more customizable to what you are the person partaking in the challenge wants!

Now if you are into fantasy you may be interested in the challenge that Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and Rachel from Hello, Chelly are hosting called Flights of Fantasy. Again, this is a challenge that is super customizable. It’s a year long challenge that dares it’s participants as many fantasy novels as you deem fit!

Besides these awesome challenges, there are other challenges out there to help you readers add more diverse reads into your reading world. Dive Into Diversity is a challenge hosted by two blogs – Reading Wishes and Rather Be Reading – which urges participants to, not only read diverse book through the year, but also to talk about these books.

All great challenges right?! So why am I not signing up for any of these?

Well the answer is quite simple. As the new year was rung in I sat back and thought about the last reading year. I read a lot of great books, but I hit a one too many reading bumps. Or rather, slumps. I put a lot of pressure on myself to read faster and to read more. But what I realized while I was trying to read faster and read more was that I was still putting off all the books I’ve wanted to read for a very long time.

So I set up my own challenge.

I challenged myself to not only put as much reading pressure on myself, but I promised myself I would get to as many backlist TBR books. And because of this, that is why I’ve committed myself to read four books per month, and with that, an array of books. If you wan to know more about that you can check out my post here.

Believe me readers, I really do want to participate in one of the many challenges out there. But what I want more, is to focus on the challenges I set for myself.

I want to wish all of you who are participating in reading challenges – whether their own or hosted by someone else – much success. With that, I hope you year ahead in books is a great one.

 

Reading Challenge Update: January Edition

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Hello Readers!

At the beginning of the month I shared with you my reading goals for the month of January. To recap I said I was going to read the following:

1. Read one New-ish Book: My True Love Gave to Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

2. Read one ARC(Advanced Readers Copy): The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

3. Read one Audiobook: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

4. Read one backlist TBR Title: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Now that January is almost halfway over, I figured it was about time I give you guys an update.

Even though I am truly loving the collection of short stories that Stephanie Perkins edited, I have yet to finish it. At this point I have only 2 short stories left! So close, yet so far. You’re wondering why I haven’t finished this book yet?! I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t do well with short story collections. And the reason why I don’t do will with them is because I tend to lose steam. Not interest, steam. And I think I lose steam simply because I am not a short story reader, therefore I am not used to them. Even though it’s taking some time I will finish My True Love Gave to Me! Not only because I’m determined, but because I’m absolutely loving it. It’s extremely difficult for me to tell you which story is my favorite, as they’ve all been great for different reasons. Even though I haven’t finished I can honestly say it’s going to be a holiday favorite for years and years to come!

I did start the audiobook edition of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves. But to be honest I started this one a few months back. The problem was I started and never finished. I know, that’s terrible. I just re-started this audiobook a few days ago, so I’m just a chapter two or so. And this time I fully intend on finishing it.

Going into this month’s reading challenge I took a look at my shelves and my Kindle bookshelf and seriously thought. I thought about what book has been lingering on my TBR list for quite a while. I decided that Stealing Heaven written by author Elizabeth Scott was the winner. I read this one on my Kindle, and I read it in only a few short days. I really enjoyed this one  – enjoyed it more than I had expected to. It made me wonder exactly why I waited so long to read it. It was extremely readable, the plot, though admittedly a wee bit predictable, was unique and refreshing, and the characters were memorable. But that’s all I’m going to say because a review is coming.

So that leaves the ARC of Holly Black’s upcoming The Darkest Part of the Forest. I had real intentions to read this book this month. Why? Because Holly Black is doing a few appearances in my area and I fully intend on being in the audience. But I’m not going to get to this one this month. And there’s a legit reason why. But I’m not one hundred percent certain I can share that reason here on the blog … just yet (stay tuned). The bottom line is I’m going to have to push this one back…sadly 😦

So that’s all I have for you readers. Have you met any of your monthly goals yet? If so, please share! And Happy Reading!

 

I Mustache You Some Questions: Fun Facts About Me … The BookBandit!

Tag! I’m it!

Yes, fellow blogger and in real life BFF Miss Print tagged me in the I Mustache You Some Questions meme. So before you get to know me, I just want to say THANKS to Miss Print for tagging me. And if you want to check out Emma’s post, you can do so by clicking … here!

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Four names that people call me (other than my real name:

1. Coley

2. Nic

3. Miss Nicole

4. Key (don’t ask)

Four jobs I have had:

1. Sales associate at Duane Read

2. Member Service Representative at a financial institution.

3. Librarian

4. I wasn’t paid for this … but I ran my own indie/diy music zine! It was a job I took very seriously … seriously.

Four Movies I Would/Have watched more than once:

1.  You’ve Got Mail

2. Alice In Wonderland

3. The Sound of Music

4. Forest Gump

Four Books I’d Recommend:

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

2. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

4.  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Four places I have lived:

1. New Jersey

2. Virginia

3. New Jersey

4. New Jersey

Four places I have been:

1. London

2. Arizona

3. California

4. Louisiana

Four places I would rather be right now:

I’m content exactly where I am.

Four things I don’t eat:

1. Red Meat

2. Brussel Sprouts

3. Cherry Pie

4. Raw Fish (I’m not even that fond of cooked fish)

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Potatoes (of any kind)

2. Chicken Noodle Soup

3. Pasta

4. My grandma’s chocolate cake

Four TV shows I watch:

1. Big Bang Theory

2. Modern Family

3. Chopped

4. Repeats of The Golden Girls

Four things I am looking forward to this year:

1. My birthday in March

2. BEA15

3. My friends wedding(!!!)

4. Trip to Italy

Four things I’m always saying:

1. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.

2. Is there any mail for me?

3. Awesome

4. Really?!

Four people I tag:

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