Friday, September 30, 2011

September Round-Up

Boy! September was a good month! I read some really phenomenal books this month.  Here they are in no particular order:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
A Monster Called by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

The Serpent's Coil by Christy Raedeke
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
Rian of the Elves: Welcome to the Spire by Erin Hassinger
Helper12 by Jack Blaine
Vanish by Sophie Jordan
Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Possession by Elena Johnson
The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens
Slayers by CJ Hill
The Juliet Spell by Douglass Rees
The Space Between by Alexandra Sokolov
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Hush by Eishes Chayell

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW…What a story! What a ride!
Karou lives in Prague and is an art student at a local school…that is half her life. The other half of her life is “elsewhere”. “Elsewhere” is the shop run by a chimera named Brimstone, who traffics in teeth…not just human teeth, but any teeth. This is where Karou grew up…this little shop with it’s door that is a portal to anywhere in the world. And Karou is pretty much an errand-girl for the shop, picking up teeth from grave robbers, big game hunters, and the like. Payment for the teeth is in the form of wishes.

One day Karou notices that the portal doors have black handprints burned into them. She also discovers a man following her whose shadow is different than his body. This same man tries to kill her in the back alleys of Marrakesh. Who is this guy? What’s with the handprints?

Laini Taylor writes one hell of a book. Did not want to put it down!!
Karou’s BFF is Zuze who is crazy sarcastic and funny as hell! Loved the chimera who raised Karou…Brimstone is way too tough on her, but for good reason. Issa, for all her bluster, is a creampuff when it comes to Karou. Basically Taylor created a wildly fantastic world, much different than anyone has ever associated with angels and demons. She peels the story back to it’s core, very deliberately, giving the reader lots of time to assume they know what happened or what’s coming, but you don’t! Then there was the shocking conclusion with those 3 words all of us love to hate…”to be continued”…ARGH!!!! Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my strong suits…Wish I had a gavriel!

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Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH MY HEAVENS! Warning…this book made me do the “ugly cry”. But it was so worth it!

Conor is 13 and he is having a recurring nightmare. When a monster shows up Conor is expecting the one from his nightmare…but it’s not. This monster comes in the form of a Yew tree in his backyard…and what he wants from Conor is his truth. But Conor’s truth, the truth of his nightmares, is something so awful that Conor can’t put words to it…Conor would rather die than voice his truth.

This was an incredible story! Patrick Ness took a kernel of an idea shared with him by author Siobahn Dowd, before she passed away, and turned it into this magnificent story. I’m not sure what and how to talk about it without revealing too much.

As you read the story, you become pretty convinced what the monster is and who “called” him to come walking…but you would be wrong.
While the story is geared toward middle grade kids, it would apply to anyone who has ever dealt with someone they know that is dying. As an adult and the primary caregiver for a parent with Alzheimers, it shook me to my core and brought out feelings and memories in me that I thought I had stuffed down years ago…hence the “ugly cry”.

While the story is a tearjerker, and I mean have a whole box handy, the resulting message is beautiful and one I definitely needed to hear again. I can’t recommend this book enough!

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Review: My Soul to Take

My Soul to Take
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poor Kaylee…she doesn’t see dead people…she sees death coming for people. How freaky would that be? Then when she sees it she has this incredible urge to scream. While out with her BFF, she see death coming for a girl and starts screaming right in front of the boy of her dreams. Thankfully Nash takes it in stride and even starts to help her piece together what is going on. But the question is…what is going on?

This was a really great beginning to what I think will be a fun series to read! Ms. Vincent created an interesting world around Banshees…and in the process threw all my preconceived notions right out the window! I loved Kaylee’s sarcasm when she initially starts talking to Nash. He has a bit of a reputation as a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” type and she is cautious about what and how much she reveals to him…which I would have been too! But Nash’s sincerity and seemingly genuine concern for Kaylee totally won me over.

I totally did not see that ending coming! What a shock that was and it set up the next installment so nicely…I’m curious has to how Kaylee and her long-absent Father are going to start rebuilding their relationship. I’m also anxious to see if Kaylee’s cousin goes through some changes as a result of the ending. Must read more!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: The Serpent's Coil

The Serpent's Coil
The Serpent's Coil by Christy Raedeke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh My Word…This was SOOO Good! Dare I say I liked it even more than The Daykeeper’s Grimoire??

Serpent’s Coil picks up right where Grimoire left off. Caity’s Mom and Dad are on their way to San Francisco to deal with their house that burned down. And Caity needs to figure out where she is going to go to school now that they will be remaining in Scotland. She stumbles across a kind of “alternative” boarding school that focuses on what the student wants to learn about and they build a curriculum to fit…a real humanities based learning system. This would provide a means for Caity to get to China in search of Uncle Li. Now the trick is to convince Justine and her parents that Justine needs to go to this same school as well.

How did I love this book…let me count the ways. Ms. Raedeke created my dream school…I’d enroll today if there there were such a school and I could afford to go! LOL. Learning through travel, what a wonderful way to accomplish Caity’s goals! I loved that Justine was able to enroll alongside Caity. Justine was a great balance for Caity…especially when the author could have taken the romance route and had Alex go. That’s another thing I loved…you knew there was a budding romance between Caity and Alex but it was always in the background and didn’t compete with the tone or message of the book.

Once again Ms. Raedeke had me finishing the book and heading straight to the computer to research the some of the plotlines. If they were a total fabrication, she did a great job of convincing me it was legitimate…and if it was the real deal…then DAMN, that woman can research! Then she can take what she learns and build it into a completely engaging story that serves to educate the layman in plain English while not “dumbing it down”.

Ms Raedeke, once again, you have amazed me! So excited to see what you write next!!!

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Review: My Soul to Lose

My Soul to Lose
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Initially this novella was written as a way to provide Kaylee’s backstory which is referenced in the first book of the series, “My Soul To Take”.

Kaylee can see death…and when she does she has an overwhelming urge to scream. Usually is she can put some distance between her and “death” the urge will subside, but this time she can’t. And it lands her in a psychiatric facility.

Since I this was my first foray into the Soul Screamers series, the story didn’t really do much for me…just background for what was to come. Not that it wasn’t good, or anything like that…I do enjoy Rachel Vincent’s writing style and this novella whet my thirst for what I was going to find in the first full novel of the series.

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Review: Rian of the Elves: Welcome to the Spire

Rian of the Elves: Welcome to the Spire
Rian of the Elves: Welcome to the Spire by Erin Hassinger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. Sweeping epic with a whole lot going on.
GoodReads Synopsis: What if the person you loved more than anyone found it too hard to share their darkest secret? Samuel Mangus quickly discovers that his dad has had a pretty good reason to keep his hidden. A powerful Elf, Aubrey Mangus chose to leave his homeland long ago, taking nothing along besides his most prized possession—a mortal son.

For fourteen years, Sam’s life couldn’t have been more pleasingly plain. Yet, the last day of school was anything but that. His teacher sends a gift home to his handsome father, while he’s just had a conversation with a talking bird named Justus Sneeble. Worse than that, the Sneeble claims he’s come to warn him of something. Sam hopes he’s imagined the meeting, but once home is greeted by an evil creature called Recene. What happens next is too much to believe.

In Rian of the Elves, Sam meets new friends, each of them a different breed, each born with extraordinary gifts of their own. The Guild they form will be unprecedented and each has the honest intention of helping him succeed. Their Spire is the most magical place he’s ever been. So why is it that no one can tell him what lies beyond the plain, wooden door atop the Anteroom’s stairs? Oddly enough, Sam finds it more mesmerizing than anything else there. In the end, the answer is nearly heartbreaking and Sam must face the ultimate test of bravery and goodness on his own.
I really enjoyed Hassinger’s writing style. She has a lyrical quality to her writing. This is a story with a wonderful mythology…all the creatures and things in this world were quite fantastical. Normally I am not one for this type of epic fantasy world, but really enjoyed the story as well as the characters. I fell in love with all of them and their quirks. My only complaint with the story would be that sometimes there was so much going on I got confused and would have to go back and reread the previous pages to see if I missed something, sometimes I did, but other times I didn’t, which added to my confusion.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Shattering

The Shattering by Karen Healey

Review by Kristy Z

3 of 5 stars

GoodReads SynopsisSeventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn't prepared for her brother's suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna's brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year's Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?

Kristy's ReviewThe Shattering deals with the aftermath of suicide. The three protagonists of the story, Sione, Keri and Jana had older brothers who committed suicide, Jana's begin 7 years prior to Sione and Keri's less than one year. They are all still reeling from the loss and trying to re-find themselves and their place within their families. The three decide to come together and work on a theory--that maybe their brothers were murdered. It is too coincidental that one boy has committed suicide after vacationing in the town or Summerton, New Zealand during the New Year. Once the three stumble upon this theory, they are in hot pursuit of proving it and saving the boy who will be the next victim. 

There is a level of suspense within the book, but not as much as I had hoped. The main three characters were likable enough, but nothing really stood out in any of them. The best part of the book was the end when Keri makes a startling discovery that is a game changers for her. I think that this book does a great job taking a hard subject matter like suicide, adding in a bit of LGBTQ, and paranormal/suspense and making it all work. It was an odd book...but I like odd! I recommend the read. It won't be the best book you've ever read but it won't be the worst either!

Review: Every You, Every Me

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Review by Kristy Z

Kristy's Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

GoodReads SynopsisIn this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he's been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan's starting to believe it's Ariel that's behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself.

Kristy's ReveiwWelcome to David Levithan's world. I must start by saying he truly is one of my favorite Young Adult authors. Every book he writes you are thrust into a world that is like an onion that is slowly peeled to reveal all its layers, this book is no exception. A unique take on depression and mental illness.

Ariel is gone.
Evan is grieving and guilting.
Jack is moving on.
Evan cannot.
Evan finds a photograph.
Evan begins to believe Ariel or someone is stalking him.
Jack has had enough.
Evan starts to lose it.

Just when i thought the novel was going to become a tragedy, Levithan starts to reveal what happened to Ariel, who is responsible for the photographs and Evan is released from the depths of hell (so to speak). 

If you find this review strange, just think of it as practice for the book! It you are looking for something outside the paranormal/fantasy/contemporary mold of Young Adult, look no farther! 

Review: Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions by 

Kristy's Rating: 4.5 stars of 5

Review: What I absolutely loved about this anthology is that is had some of my favorite authors and new authors that I must read more of! I bought this to read BRIDGE by Jeri Smith-Ready. Her Shade Trilogy is my favorite trilogy hands down. BRIDGE was from Logan Keeley's perspective and was about helping his brother Mickey cope with Logan's death. It was powerfully emotional for anyone familiar with the trilogy (I cannot get into detail due to spoilers). If you have not read The Shade Trilogy you will still like Logan's off the cuff style and wit...also go read SHADE and SHIFT!

GARGOUILLE by Mary E. Pearson
This was the second story that I fell in love with. I have not read anything by this author ( The Adoration of Jenna Fox currently sits on my shelf) before reading this story. I was immediately brought into the story of Giselle and Etienne. Both are deeply in love and about to be married when Giselle in a moment of elation over her engagement lets her wings spread revealing that she is a gargouille. She is captured and carted off by a poacher who wishes to sell her and her removed wings to a Duke. Giselle knows she will begin to lose her gargouille memories and with that her memory of Etienne.  Etienne finds her caged and Giselle must send him away for his own protection. She knows it is the only way to keep the few reamining gargouille safe. Etienne vows he will find her, make her remember him and they will be together. I will not reveal what happens but this story was heart-wrenching love and if it were a book I would be all over it!

A  simple story about two kids coming into their paranormal talents. Likeable characters and could easily be a full novel.

SCENIC ROUTE by Carrie Ryan
Wow! This dystopian short gripped me. Action packed and suspenseful, over too quickly.

RED RUN by Kami Garcia
Ghost story with a twist!

FACING FACT by Kelley Armstrong
I was happy to see Derek, Simon, Chloe and Tori are back! I read this trilogy so to see a little of what comes after the end of the trilogy was thrilling for me. It felt like this series could go another round and pick-up from this short. If you loved The Summoning Series then you will be happy to get a little more.

SKIN CONTACT by Kimberly Derting
After Rafe was introduced in Desires of the Dead, I think we were all intrigued. He was mysterious yet wounded. Here we see what talent Rafe has and how he came to work with the FBI and Sara Priest. Tragic story that puts Rafe into perspective.

All in all I felt this anthology was well done. All the stories are captivating in their own way and as all good books do...leave us wanting MORE!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: HELPER12

HELPER12 by Jack Blaine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Helper12 works in the baby ward. She monitors and cares for babies newborn through 4 months. One night a family unit, the Sloanes, walk in with the director and walks out with a baby and helper12 as it’s nanny. Both have been sold to this “family” and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
This is a world where there is “society” (and they have enough money to do whatever they want) and there are “helpers” (workers with virtually no life outside their work and are disposable). The helpers are tattooed with their designation be it a “breeder”, “baby helper”, “house helper”, “driver”, etc.
When Mrs. Sloane starts to regret her impulse baby purchase, Helper12 begins to fear for her life and the life of the baby she is caring for…after all they were purchased on the black market, no one knows or cares who they are, and like all helpers are told, “helpers suddenly disappear all the time”.
This was a scary dystopian world! And as usual, from where the helpers are, life in society looks so good from the sidewalk looking in…but as Helper12 discovers, what goes on behind closed doors is never quite what you expect. That’s what I love about dystopian fiction…everything always looks so pretty and perfect on the outside and is so righteously dysfunctional on the inside…Blaine really got it right.
I loved that Helper 12 never abandoned her healthy dose of fear! If I had been brought up in her world I would be forever skeptical of anything and everything too. It brought a realism to the story, that some dystopian stories lack. And the whole “guilt by association” thing was a real eye-opener…way to really separate the masses and keep their heads down so as not to see that the Emperor is naked.
It was predictable in that I saw the romance coming. But was totally taken aback by the whole Gregory storyline. WOW! My heart ached for Thomas and Deen…I couldn’t imagine anyone who gave birth to a child doing what Mrs. Sloane did…but that’s another thing I love about dystopian fiction, they are all about what loving, feeling, sympathetic people wouldn’t do.
My only gripe would be that I would have loved to know more about what life as a “leisure doll” would have been! I’m guessing but would have loved to read it from Blaine’s point of view.
I look forward to reading more from Jack Blaine!

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Vanish

Vanish by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To save Will’s life, Jacinda has done the unthinkable and revealed her true nature. And Cassian has arrived to bring them all back to the protection of the pride.
The pride is not likely to forgive Jacinda’s indiscretion and since her twin, Tamra, has finally manifested, then there is no way anyone will allow Jacinda back into the place of honor she once held.
Jacinda clings to the hope that Will will somehow remember her and find a way for them to be together. Meanwhile Cassian is there to help pick up the pieces of her broken heart.
OH MY…let me just say I belong to “Team Cassian”. Nothing against Will, but Cassian makes my blood raise a few degrees, or 20. This series just gets better!
Vanish doesn’t seem to move as fast as Firelight did, but there was no lack of stuff going on. So the pacing change didn’t bother me like I thought it might.
I am finding I really enjoy Sophie Jordan’s writing style. She knows how to make some steamy (pardon the pun) kissing scenes…they make my knees weak! Probably TMI but it’s true!
I felt for Jacinda, between the two books she went from “hero to zero”, initially through no fault of her own. But when she saw the Pride for what they truly were, I couldn’t blame her for just wanting to be free of everyone and everything. Poor lamb is in such a tough position. Staying with her “home” pride is suicide at this point, going it alone is suicide at this point, and trying to join another pride is suicide. She is truly damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. Good job Sophie!
I can’t wait to see what happens next…I will continue to root for Cassian, I loves me some tall, dark and handsome underdogs!

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Review: Firelight

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacinda is a Dragon, ahem, sorry, the PC term is Draki. Jacinda is a very special Draki, a very rare fire breather…the first one born to her pride in many centuries. This makes her very special and highly coveted. Jacinda just wants freedom to make her own decisions.

Forced to leave home and enter the mortal world, Jacinda has one bright spot, his name is Will. She is drawn to him like a moth to a flame…and he ignites the hidden dragon within. With her pride searching for her, and dragon hunters always on the lookout. Life has become more complicated than Jacinda thought possible.

This was an incredibly fun read. I was sucked in hook, line, and sinker by the second page when Jacinda goes through her transformation into a dragon. Sophie Jordan created such a fascinating mythos for these characters. I just had to know more.

As for Jacinda’s ability as a fire-breather…it was so cool…I loved how it would pop up at the most inopportune times. Jacinda thinks it’s a lame ability, and yet it’s so prized because there hasn’t been one in her pride for so long. Sophie Jordan created some really interesting talents for her Draki to have. I’m in hopes this series will continue for a while and maybe explore storylines with some of the other Draki!

There is so much more I would like to say in this review, but can’t figure out how to get the crux of it out without spoiling everything…and without being so vague that what I write is pointless. All I can really say is that if you like dragons (LOVE ‘EM), action, adventure, love stories, and teenage angst…then this is the story for you! LOL

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2 Books, Yes! 2 Books in One

Last night was a banner night. Well, actually it started yesterday afternoon!

At 3pm yesterday I started Firelight by Sophie Jordan. Couldn't put it down. Finished it around 7pm or so. Immediately started Vanish (Firelight 2) by Sophie Jordan and finished it before midnight last night!

I read 2 books in one day! Can't remember the last time I did that! Then I started "Liesl & Po" and read for about a half hour before finally going to bed. It was a good night last night! LOL

Review: His Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

His Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel
Review by Kristy Z.

Kristy's Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Synopsis (GoodReads)Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

Kristy's ReviewMore please! That was my first thought upon finishing this gem of a book. We are taken into the life of a young Victor Frankenstein. yes, the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley fame. The adventure begins as Konrad, Victor's twin brother, is taken ill and Victor along with his cousin Elizabeth and friend, Henry seek to cure him. This book is full of action and adventure, edge of your seat drama and suspense that leaves you practically breathless!

Victor's character is pretty developed throughout the book but what I love it how his maniacal mind begins to take shape as the book progresses. You can see how dabbling in alchemy begins to bring out the darkness within Victor. By time the book ends you know he is well on his way to becoming the Frankenstein we all know from Shelley. 

The book was beautifully written. Oppel does a superb job making us feel like we are in 18th Century Geneva. The vocabulary is spot on for the period. The conversations are believable and the characters all have qualities you will love or love to hate! 

An overwhelming 4 stars and a hope that a sequel is in the works, for I would love to know what is next for young Victor Frankenstein.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Possession

Possession by Elana Johnson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Violet knows the rules and there are a lot of them. Vi lives in a dystopian society where the “Thinkers” tell everyone how to live, who to love, etc. Vi’s problem is that she is a “free thinker” and pretty much does what she wants.
Free thinking is what lands Vi in trouble and in jail. Locked in a cell with a very arrogant, yet good looking guy named Jag. They manage to break out and run for what they believe will be asylum and safety only there is no safety when the Head Thinker wants you to work for him!
Not sure where to start with this one! The reviews have not been stellar but the blurb really appealed to me so I jumped in. Turns out the reviews were right.
Reading it felt awkward and disjointed. Even though I read every word, I often didn’t understand what was going on. The constant need to call everyone “babe” was like nails on a chalkboard for me…but that’s a personal gripe. However, Jag crying multiple times was just too much for me. I like my book heroes to be strong…I don’t mind showing emotions, but boo-hooing is just stomach turning for me. And Vi, the female, who should have been showing some emotion, would have been nice if she showed any!
The ending was stellar! Talk about throwing me for a loop…that was the last thing I was expecting. I might be inclined to read the next book in the series if only to see what and how that ending is resolved.
For the most part this was a highly forgettable read for me. I notice that the reviews are highly polarized…seems to be a “love it” or “hate it” thing…For me it was meh!

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Review: Hush

Hush by Eishes Chayil

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hush is the story of a girl, Gittel, and the aftermath of her best friend’s death at 9 years of age. The story takes place in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community…with all its emphasis on traditions dating back hundreds of years. How does one go about dealing with an all too real monster of abuse and still live within the rules and guidelines of a religion that never dreamt of the horrors around today?

Hush was a tough read for a number of reasons. I grew up around a lot of Moderate and Reformed Jews, attended a lot of Passover Seders, and learned my fair share of Yiddish. I knew the Hassidic Community was Ultra-Orthodox but never imagined how different it was then the friends I had growing up.

This book was a lesson in Hassidic life. It was a lesson I was at odds with many times throughout the book. I’d like to think that I am very open-minded, especially when it comes to someone’s religious beliefs…I couldn’t help but feel so sad for a group of people who are taught that love isn’t important, and that everything is done out of obligation, such as marriage. Marriage isn’t about love but about procreation.

It was also very hard to discover that sexual molestation runs rampant in the Hassidic community and that the author, using a pseudonym, was, in effect, relating her personal story. The pervasive need to keep quiet about these things for fear of being ostracized…that would be the victim and his/her family that fear being ostracized. The predator, if in a position of power is usually moved to a different position of power. Yes, just like priests in the Catholic Church were in the past.

Ultimately, this was a very powerful read and I applaud the author for getting attention on the matter. I sincerely pray that all communities, religious or otherwise, will find the strength to punish these monsters rather than do the easy thing and turn a blind eye, for the children’s sake.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves

The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Dead-Tossed Waves" takes place several years after Mary has arrived at the coast. She is the mother of Gabrielle. They live in the Lighthouse and take care of any "Unconsecrated" that wash up on shore during high tide.

Gabry is unlike Mary. She doesn't have any desire to explore beyond the coastal town of Vista where they live. However, one night her best friend Cima and her brother, Catcher(whom Gabry has feelings for), convince her to go over the barrier and explore the old abandoned amusement park. Only to be attacked by a breaker and Catcher is infected.

Enter Elias and the "Soulers" who are a cult that worships the "Unconsecrated" for they are the resurrection. Elias helps Gabry to find where Catcher is hiding waiting to "return". But why is it taking so long?

I think I have to agree with the vast majority..."Dead-Tossed Waves" was better than "The Forest of Hands and Teeth". As I mentioned in the review for the first book of this series, I wasn't fond of Mary's complete and total selfishness. And some of it still resides in her. Granted age and maturity have improved her demeanor, but she still has a ways to go.

Gabry is a smart level-headed gal. In the beginning she is almost afraid of her own shadow but grows and challenges her fear. Unlike Mary, she can be a bit reckless in regards to her own safety when those she cares about are in danger.

Carrie Ryan has such a lyrical quality to her writing, painting very vivid pictures! Although I could have killed her quite easily at one point towards the end of the story. I know it was necessary...UGH, but the timing was just evil! I was captivated from the first page and Ryan really builds suspense...very hard to put down. Ryan very adeptly weaves in the characters from the previous book in a way I didn't see coming. Actually, most of the book I didn't see coming. Ryan is not a predictable writer! Which really makes me wonder where the third installment is going to take us. I have my suspicions, but if I've learned anything it's to not count chickens, or plotlines, until they have hatched.

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Waiting On Wednesday

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by: Laini Taylor

(Goodreads Synopsis)

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? 

This sounds so good!!!!  Can't wait to get my fingers on it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mary lives in a village surrounded by high fences and look-out posts. The village is in the middle of the forest. Outside the fences are the “unconsecrated”, waiting to bite and infect anyone they can get their hands on. Inside the Sisters are the moral and religious dictators and the Guardians are the protection force. Slowly Mary learns that all they have been taught about village life, and more importantly, what is beyond the fence, is false.

This is a post-apocalyptic thriller of the first order. Only in this case the apocalypse was a virus that that killed it’s host and then made those people return from the dead. I’ve tried to read zombie books in the past and did not like them. I’d heard so many good reviews on this one that I picked it up without realizing the “unconsecrated” were zombies. I would have put it back down if I had…I’m glad I didn’t! The threat of the zombies is a constantly looming presence, but the zombies don’t take center stage, if that makes sense.

At heart this is a love story. Mary is driven by the love of her family, specifically her Mother. She longs for the life her mother has told her about from the past, she longs to leave the forest and see the ocean…but doesn’t know if it’s even possible. Mary, also loves a man, who is supposed to marry her best friend, while Mary is promised in marriage to his brother. This is a heart-wrenching tale of love and survival against the most spectacular odds, odds definitely not in Mary’s favor! I could feel Mary’s anguish at her circumstances...and yet I found her very difficult to like due to her selfishness. She could be so focused on what she wanted she didn’t bother to stop and see how she was affecting those around her.

Carrie Ryan as a beautiful lyrical quality to her writing. Upon finishing “Hands and Teeth”, I immediately downloaded the other two books in this series, “Dead Tossed Waves” and “Dark and Hollow Places”. It always makes me so happy to fall in love with a book and then know there is more to the story, out there, especially if I don’t have to wait for volumes that still need to be published!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Overprotected

Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I made the mistake of starting this at 10:30 last night and finished it at 7:30 this morning. Not sure how many hours of sleep I got in between.

Ashlynn was kidnapped when she was 5 by a woman who worked for her father. After she was rescued, Ashlynn's family pulled up stakes and moved from California to New York City. Since then her father has been obsessed with her safety and protection, to the point where she has a live-in bodyguard, or "companion" as her family likes to call them.

Ashlynn's newest "companion" is a family friend from California, who made Ashlynn's life a living hell by teasing her relentlessly. Now he is 21, hopes to go into the FBI when he finishes his degree, oh, and he's gorgeous!

This was an incredibly cute, fast reading YA romance. Lots of sexual tension, but nothing more than kissing. Lots of action when Ashlynn does everything within her power to ditch her bodyguards. Lots of incredibly over-bearing parental supervision. It was a great break from all the net galleys I've been reading. I highly recommend it.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: The Mephisto Covenant

The Mephisto Covenant
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sasha is desperate to find out who killed her Dad. So much so, she contemplates joining a group that would require her to denounce God and pledge her life to some guy named Eryx. Turns out Eryx is trying to take over Hell from Lucifer and Sasha is a special soul who was born free from Original Sin. Getting Sasha to join Eryx would be a coup!

Enter Jax and his brothers, who are the sons of Mephistopheles, their sole purpose is to defeat their brother Eryx and prevent him from absorbing the souls of those who pledge to follow him.

Meanwhile, Sasha maybe the key to the redemption of Jax’s immortal soul.

I so enjoyed this book! Personally I was sucked in as soon as I saw Russian surnames. I love all things Russian! Once I was sucked in, I couldn’t put the book down until I was finished…so I was up until 2am!

One of the many things I love about these paranormal romances is the mythology the author’s create to build their story. The Mephisto Covenant is no exception. This Mephistopheles story, I believe, is based loosely on, “Doctor Faustus” where Mephistopheles is a worker for the Devil and goes around collecting the souls of the damned. Here Mephistopheles has several sons and they do the actual escorting of the damned and “M”, as they call their father, is more a liaison between Lucifer and the sons.

I’m kind of torn as to how I felt about the treatment of Sasha. There are several times where she is harassed and doesn’t stand up for herself…and I’m conflicted as to whether that had to do with her nature and the whole “born without original sin”, or if she was a victim. I’m hoping it was the former.

The thing with Sasha and Jax was instant mutual attraction. Unlike so many books these days, this wasn’t love at first sight, more like lust, but they were not quick to act on it in any way, definitely adding the tension, and self doubts of the characters. It also added to the their growth. Whereas it was Sasha’s nature to be exceedingly compassionate, not so with Jax. It was touching to watch him learn what it was to put someone else before himself…to not know what love truly was, but express it inherently.

Most of the loose ends were tied up in this book, but it, apparently, is the first of a planned trilogy, so I wonder if future books with continue to focus on Jax and Sacha? Or if the bigger story will continue, as the next installment focuses on one of the other brothers finding love? I guess I will just have to wait and see.

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Next Up: The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

GoodReads Synopsis:  Would you kill to make the world a peaceful place?

Zed is an agent from the future. A place where all of the world's problems have been solved. No hunger. No war. No despair.
His mission is to keep that way. Even if it means ensuring every cataclysm throughout history runs its course, especially one just on the horizon.

Zed's mission will ensnare the lives of a disgraced former spy named Leo; a young lawyer, Tasha, grieving over the loss of her brother; Sari, the oppressed employee of a foreign diplomat; and countless others. But will he finish his final mission before the present takes precedence over a perfect future? One that may have more cracks than he realizes?

The Revisionists is a literary tale of action and intrigue that puts a fresh spin on today's global crises, asking questions about the nature of history and the future, and our own roles in shaping them.

HELLO! Time Travel! Need I say more?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Next Up: The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen

GoodReads Synopsis: Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat. 

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

Sounds right up my alley! I hope I can get some reading done this afternoon!

Review: Slayers

Slayers by C.J. Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars!!

Dragons Exist. Dragon Slayers Exist. Dragon Overlords Exist. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Back, centuries ago, alchemists were not really looking for a way to turn things into gold, they were creating a serum that would allow Dragon Slayers an edge. The serum worked on their DNA to allow them to fight and kill Dragons. Those mutations were passed down through the Slayer’s generations and lay dormant, until awakened by proximity to a dragon or a dragon egg.

Meanwhile, the Dragon Overlords managed a few DNA mutations of their own which allowed them to slip into the minds of the dragons and control them from within.

It’s present day, and there are a couple of dragon eggs that are due to hatch in the not-to-distant future. The transportation of those eggs through the Washington DC area woke up the sleeping DNA in about 12 fetuses at the time of the transport. Those fetuses are now young adults and the only thing that stands between us and a man who wants to rule the world by controlling Dragons.

I really enjoyed this roller coaster ride. I’m not a big fantasy lover. What I loved about this fantasy was that it takes place in present day United States rather than some fictional world, and that the characters and story were geared toward young adults rather than middle schoolers.

The book grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let go. However, the main character, Victoria, “Tori”, a Congressman’s daughter, was a bit tedious in the beginning. She was a typical rich kid who didn’t think any of it applied to her. We did see her grow and mature, but it did seem as though we spent an awful lot of time focusing on how self-absorbed she was.

The story was a bit predictable, but that didn’t take away from the action or the story. The author got us through one conflict, but we know there is at least one more out on the horizon, so I know there has to be a sequel in the future…which I will look forward to for a number of reasons.

I recommend this for the quick, easy, enjoyable read that it is.

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Waiting On Wednesday

Hmmm...Not sure how I managed to lose a couple of Wednesdays...but it appears I did! I haven't posted a Waiting on Wednesday post for a while...So sorry!  Here is one I am anxiously awaiting!!!

GoodReads Synopsis: Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRĂ­s.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: The Juliet Spell

The Juliet Spell
The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Miranda wants nothing more than to be cast as Juliet in the Community version of Romeo and Juliet. So much so that she casts a spell, after which, she finds a man dressed in Elizabethan garb, standing on her table. Turns out she has conjured Edmond Shakeshaft, who is actually William Shakespeare’s younger brother.

I was ok with suspending belief so Edmund could appear and help Juliet fulfill her wish to become Juliet, however it did take a turn towards the ridiculous at the end. I completely understand that Edmund was going to have to go back from whence he came, at some point…but the whole “I loaded a program on my cell phone” and send them back just seemed desperate. In fact the whole last 1/3 of the novel was just bizarre…Dad suddenly reappears, William Shakespeare suddenly appears, William and Edmund go into counseling, there is an attempted murder, what of these things just doesn’t belong? All of them.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Cold Kiss

Cold Kiss
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What would you do to have one more day with someone you love?

Wren has always known that the women in her family were different. But, to speak of it was forbidden. When Wren’s boyfriend Danny dies, she goes to her Aunt Mari to try and get a handle on her abilities. Then with reading and research, Wren is able to bring Danny back. But he’s not quite the same as “her” Danny.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this story. I’ve discovered that I really don’t care for Zombie books and I was thinking that was what “Cold Kiss” would basically be. IT WASN’T! It was a love story. Who hasn’t thought about bringing any loved one back? I know I have! I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a teenager, losing my first love. Incredibly tough!

Wren is written so convincingly. As an adult, I can totally relate to her sense of loss and her wish to bring Danny back. She is full of complexity. She knows what she has done is wrong, but who can think straight while reeling from the sudden loss of the love of your life. Danny, in his undead way, brings Wren closure and helps her through the mourning process. If only we all could have that. In the end, “Cold Kiss”, reminds us that while losing a loved one is tragic, life does go on, which in it’s own way is hopeful.

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Review: The Space Between

The Space Between
The Space Between by Alexandra Sokoloff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anna Sullivan’s mom disappeared when she was five. Anna is being raised by her father who is suffering from Gulf War Syndrome and alcoholism. Anna is suddenly being plagued by very vivid dreams of violence taking place at her high school. The day after the first dream, the school has a fire just like the one she dreamed of the night before. More dreams, more violence, and in all of them Anna’s crush, Tyler dies. Anna is determined to figure out how to prevent the violence looming on the horizon.

This was a very dark read! I loved how Sokoloff incorporated Quantum Physics into the story in a way that was very easy for this layman to understand, which made the story richer. Multiple possibilities of many parallel universes reminded me of my favorite TV show, “Fringe”.

Sokoloff is able to suck the reader right into the story in a way that I could almost smell the smoke of the fire, and the fear of being discovered in my hiding spot. I felt Anna’s reluctance to get involved in all the weirdness, but her need to do the right thing and prevent tragedy.

The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is because there were too many loose ends and open ended questions. I’m not a fan of endings that are left open to my interpretation…I always wonder if maybe I missed something. I hate when I am left hanging like that. I would LOVE to see a sequel to this story where everything is resolved and all loose ends are tied up.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

August Roundup (only 2 days late)

It was another month of great reads.  These were the ones I finished in August: