Follow Me Friday & Book Blogger Hop 5

Hey everyone! Follow My Book Blog Friday was created by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View, and the Book Blogger Hop was created by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books. Both weekly features are another great way to get the book blogging community together! Follow, comment and join in the fun!

Question of the week: 

Who do you cheer for?

Cheer? Are we talking football here? Oh right because the superbowl is coming up...right? Hahaha as you can see I don't really do football...but I suppose I will cheer for whoever is wearing the color combination that I like more. Or whoever has the cuter players;)

Book Blogger Hop

Question of the week:  

Coming soon!


What was your favorite read this week? Feel free to leave your Hop & Follow links in the comments! Happy Friday!

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Vixen (The Flappers)
Title: Vixen
Author: Jillian Larkin
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 29, 2011
Pages: 432
Source: ARC from Different Area Codes Book Tours
Interest: 2011 Debut, 1920's
Rating: 4/5

Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.

The movie Chicago is one of my all-time favorites...the 1920's, danger, dancing, flirty dresses and lots of jazz...not to mention murder, manipulation, and intrigue. It's enough to make your head spin, even without the booze thrown into the mix! Based on my love for the movie, and the play, of course, I was really looking forward to reading Vixen (and am still looking forward to reading Anna Godberson's Bright Young Things). 

As far as characterization goes, I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters...I just felt that they were not fully developed. Gloria was very sheltered and whiny about her privileged life, although I did sympathize with her feelings about having her entire life arranged for her. Lorraine, Gloria's best friend, was obnoxiously jealous of Gloria, and I only felt pity for her. Clara...I  liked Clara the best, only I felt that too much was being done to make her "interesting". Scattered throughout the book are various hints about her past life, which are frankly not very intriguing and failed to pique my interest. There is a slight twist revealed at the end that involves Clara, and it helps to round out her character a little bit. Perhaps the upcoming sequels Ingenue and Diva will show us more sides to the girls. As for the boys, easygoing Marcus, snotty Sebastian and musician Jerome were all very appealing and entertaining. 

The plot and pacing were the the true strong points in Vixen. Jillian Larkin kept the story moving along at a fast, but not hurried pace, while the rotating points of view successfully told the many angles. As for plot...a rich white girl moonlighting at a speakeasy while falling in love with a black musician? That's a great story line, and Larkin handled it very well. I was never bored, and couldn't put the book down from beginning to end.

The time period itself here also deserves a mention, I loved all the details and research that were put into this book...I really felt like I was in the 1920's. A movie version would be amazing!

Vixen reads like a guilty pleasure, minus the guilt. It's 3 parts adolescent rebellion mixed with 2 parts steamy romance, shaken with danger, and served with a slice of fun. I am eagerly awaiting the next books in the The Flappers series!

Waiting on Wednesday: Other Words for Love

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it spotlights upcoming releases that we can't wait to read! On occasion, I will feature a book that has already been published, but that I am eagerly anticipating anyway. I figure that still counts:)

Other Words for Love

by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York—and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari’s family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. Not real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.

When misfortune befalls Blake’s family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

I downloaded the first chapter of this for my Kindle, and I liked it very much...I've also read several extremely positive reviews, so this one is definitely at the top of my payday purchase list!

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Most Inspirational Characters

For your reading pleasure, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I am definitely a list maker, so this feature is *write* up my alley! (ha ha)

List topic this week is: 
Top Ten Most Inspirational Characters

(In no particular order...)

1. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Although she does have certain gifts, this girl has got major chutzpah - crossing a deadly mountain pass in a blinding blizzard while carrying supplies AND a child and not to mention being inadequately fed or dressed?? Wow...Katsa is my new hero.

2. Alanna from the Song of the Lioness quarter by Tamora Pierce
The original Girl with Guts...she sets out to be a knight, and proves that she's better at the job than most men. 

3. Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride by William Goldman
While I'm not sure that revenge is the greatest motivator here, you have to admire the fact that he dedicated his whole life to righting a wrong.

4. Lyra from the Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Another dauntless heroine...she never hesitates in the face of danger, especialy when defending her friends.

5. Jacky Faber from the Bloody Jack Series by L.A. Meyer
I've never met a more likable character in fiction...Jacky is just so much fun and she has a great, carefree attitude toward life in general.

6. Stargirl from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl is the person we all want to be...completely free and uninhibited by society or anything else that might hold us down.

7. Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
She does her best to overcome a difficult life and a sucky childhood, rather than just give up and retreat into oblivion.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
Pages: 480
Source: ARC from Different Area Codes Book Tours
Interest: 2011 Debut, Fairy Tale Retelling, Beautiful Cover
Rating: 3.5/5

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

As I was reading Entwined, one thought kept running through my head: I wonder if Heather Dixon is a Disney fan? The entire book had that dream-like, floating on a cloud of fairy dust feeling that is the hallmark of a classic Disney film.

The first hundred pages or so were a little slow for me...nothing much seemed to happen, and I couldn't keep all 12 girls straight. It did help that Dixon chose names in alphabetical order, with the oldest girl being named Azalea, and the youngest, Lily. If all else failed, I could go through the alphabet and have a rough idea of the age of the girl in question. Some of the names of the girls were rather unusual...Bramble, Goldenrod, Evening Primrose...while not something I think a child in real life should have to handle, the uniqueness of each name worked in this story, and I like that Dixon deviated from the obvious plant/flower name choices like Daisy, Violet, or Jasmine.

The girls have a very formal relationship with their father in the beginning. He is the King first, and a father second, but over the course of the story, the king learns to understand his daughters better, and they in turn learn to forgive his gruffness. It was always obvious that he loved them, but neither he nor the girls knew how to communicate. It was quite refreshing to see a father-daughter relationship in a YA book; father characters are usually so one-dimensional that it is hard to connect with them, but I grew to love the king as the girls did.

I confess I didn't understand Keeper; perhaps I wasn't paying attention to critical parts, but I always felt a little confused by his character - I wasn't really clear on exactly how he got into his situation, and what his motivation for getting out of it was. He did creep me out though!

I'm not really sure if the enchanted sugar teeth count as a character, but Dixon managed to give the object such a feisty little personality that I couldn't help but be enamored by it:)

There is no possibility of writing this review without mentioning one of the key elements - the dancing. At times it was a bit much - I understood that the sisters love to dance, and it helps them through difficult times, but reading about the dancing often left me feeling like an outsider at a party where everyone else knows the right steps. I'm sure it is very difficult to describe a dance sequence, and it probably would have been tedious to read anyway, but I did want to be able to better visualize each dance.

The best part of Entwined was the innocent romances of the older girls. They were sweet without being sappy, and 100% G-rated while still being believable; Walt Disney would have been proud.

Overall, a lovely rendering of a lesser known fairy tale; it will easily appeal to middle grade readers as well as the young adult crowd.

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