Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: New Girl

New Girl
New Girl by Paige Harbison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You are the “new girl”…you are taking the spot of a missing, much beloved former student named Becca Normandy. You are rooming in Becca’s old room, with Becca’s previous roommate/BFF. You even have a slight resemblance to Becca. All you hear all year long is “Becca, Becca, Becca”. You even draw interest from the 2 boys that were front and center in Becca’s life.

But what happened to Becca? Why so much comparison? Why so much ire? Time will tell and it’s going to be a very LONG year!

What I liked about this retelling of “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier was the pacing. It could have easily gotten bogged down in minutae but didn’t. The pace kept me interested and reading. I liked New Girl…she found her strength and voice by the end. Early on she was just trying to fit in and hope some of the constant comparisons would ease up…but she reached her limit and started sticking up for herself. I liked the roommate, Dana…she was over-the-top and I really thought it was going to turn out that she had a hand in Becca’s disappearance (“Me thinks she doth protest a bit too much”), or at least the facebook post.

I didn’t like Becca, of course…what a manipulating sociopath! Geez, the lengths she went to! Talk about over-the-top. I didn’t like that New Girl put up with so much of Dana’s abuse. The sex was gratuitous. Not that I am a prude, I just felt it was over-the-top as well.

Overall I am a Paige Harbison fan and will continue to read her books, but this one wasn’t a favorite of mine.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Diabolical

Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the fouth, and seemingly final, book of the Tantalize series starts out…Miranda is watching her friends from on “high”. She discovers that her best friend Lucy has been accepted to a private, exclusive boarding school in Vermont with ties to a bigger School with the same name in the Carpathians.

Miranda gets word to Zachary what Lucy is up to and begs for him to rescue her. What’s “slipped” guardian angel to do? Well, head off the to academy with his protectee, Quincie, and her wolf-man, Kieran in tow. The plan, to call on the current Dracul to provide a letter of recommendation so Zach and Kieran can get accepted. Once in the academy they discover it’s ties to Lucifer and their inability to escape.

Whereas the previous book was just a battle of good vs. evil, Diabolical, is a clash between heaven and hell.

Have to be honest. Once the third book, Blessed, was over, I thought this series was done. Diabolical serves to finally tie the loose ends of Zach and Miranda. I enjoyed the story but it felt disconnected from the other 3 books. In this case, Smith took a detail from Bram Stoker and built a story around it…but it just didn’t feel organic to the first 3 books aside from the characters carrying over.

The writing and story were just as enjoyable as the previous books and I have to say that I loved the ending and Memo’s from Michael…I laughed my arse off! Overall it was a great story and a fun series. I will be curious to see where Smith goes from here.

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Review: Blessed

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this third installment of the Tantalize series we are back in Austin with Quincie, our reluctant vampire and teenaged restraunteur. Zachary the guardian angel has been reassigned to Quince now that Miranda has died. It is Zach’s hope, and new assignment, to get neophyte vamps/Eternals to redeem themselves and return to Heaven’s fold.

Quince has other plans. She needs to get Sanguini’s up and running and she also needs to figure out a way to save all the people who unwittingly consumed Bradley’s blood and will be turning into vamps without their consent or knowledge. Nora and Freddy also turn up in Austin to help Zachary.

I have to admit that I didn’t get the purpose of the second book until the ending when Miranda died and Zachary was given his new assignment. Now in this book we were back at Sanguini’s, and the storyline I prefer. Since Quince has no legal guardian, Kieran’s parents have stepped in and taken on that role…which makes things very difficult for Quincie. She has to hide her vampire side from the only family she has left. Quincie is in nothing but tough situations all throughout this book. But being the tough girl that she is, she is able to rise to each occasion and handle it in a way that is wise beyond her years.

I was pleased to see Zach show up. His character is different in that his future hangs in the balance as well. Having disobeyed his supervisor many times, he is earthbound but has regained some of his angelic qualities…but not all of them, and there is a very real chance he could end up kicked out of Heaven entirely. He still can’t return to the ethereal plane and see his beloved Miranda. But Zach and Quince become very close, sibling-like close. I thought once Q saw Zach, she might forget Kieran, but I need not have worried. Together Q and Zach work well together as their individual “quests” become one.

Smith took a tremendous amount of inspiration from Bram Stoker for this series. And she does illustrate that fact in a number of ways. I do love to see how authors find their inspiration and then what they do with it. With the fourth, and seemingly final, book in this series recently released I am curious to see what Smith may do in the future. Will she take off in another direction entirely? Will she use another classic novel has an inspirations? Time will tell.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Eternal

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Miranda gets abducted by the reigning King of the Vampires and is turned into an “Eternal” and becomes his “Princess”. Miranda’s Guardian Angel, Zachary, is kind of the reason Miranda gets abducted. And for his error…Zachary is earth-bound. With the help of another Guardian Angel, Zachary finds Miranda and becomes her Personal Assistant. Together Zachary and Miranda discover that they are not beyond redemption.

I have to say going in that this book confused me because it had NOTHING to do with the previous book and there were NO references to the previous book either. I thought that was kind of strange for a series. By the time I finished Eternal, I could see where the author was probably going to go with the third book.

I was surprised by how easily Miranda gave up on her human connections for her new vampire life. Her human life was “normal” but she felt it was boring. She seemed rather shallow and obnoxious for most of the book and only seemed to think about her humanity once Zachary was on the scene and pretty much forced her to.

Zachary was lacking depth as well. I get it that a guardian angel’s charge is their whole reason for being…but I guess I expected more from him.

These are not “kinder, gentler” vampires of “twilight”…these vampires are bloody and will suck you dry, with a definite good versus evil theme. If those are the kind of vampires you prefer than this is the series for you. Personally, I liked the first book much more than this one and have started the third and thankfully we are back with Quincie and Sanguini’s. The series, thus far, is becoming predictable, but it’s still enjoyable.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Sisters Red

Sisters Red
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whose afraid of the big, bad, wolf? Certainly not Scarlett and Rosie. In this re-imagining of “Little Red Riding Hood”, Scarlet and Rosie are in the care of their grandmother, when a Fenris (werewolf) comes knocking on their sleepy little Southern door. Grandmother loses her life while protecting her girls, but the Fenris manages to take out one of Scarlett’s eyes and leave a ton of scars in it’s place. Scarlett has dedicated herself to stalking and killing Fenris, along with her sister Rosie, and her best friend and hunting partner, Silas.

This was a total revamp and updating of Red Riding Hood. Scarlett and Rosie are two sides of the same coin. Rosie feels tremendous guilt because Scarlett was injured protecting her. Scarlett still feels responsible for protecting Rosie even though she is a young adult and is equal to Scarlet in the task of hunting and taking out Fenris. Ultimately it’s their love of each other that keeps them going…that is until their hunt takes them away from home and into Atlanta, Georgia…where the Frenris are numerous and there are prettier girls than Scarlett to get their attention.

Great mystery aspects keep the story going at a brisk pace as the girls searches for the truth behind the Fenris, and hope for a way to stop them. This is really a richly told that left me gasping after the fights as though I had personally fought alongside Scarlett and Rosie.

This was my first Jackson Pearce book and I’m anxious to read more!

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Review: Halflings

Halflings by Heather Burch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poor Nikki! Someone has it in for her…BAD! She’s chased by hellhounds, some dude in an SUV tries to run her off the road! Thank God, literally, that there are some Halfling Angels around to protect her. Mace, Raven, and Vine are halflings. They and their guardian, a full angel, have been sent to keep Nikki alive. They don’t know why she is special, they just know she is a target for some evil beings.

This was a fun read. A bit confusing in the beginning because it wasn’t clear who was who in terms of the halflings, but things were clarified rather quickly. Great mythology to the Halflings! Talk about “the sins of the father” being visited on the sons! Poor Halflings have to pay the price for the fact that their fathers fooled around with mortal women...talk about a sucky situation! Doing their duty is how they attempt to attone for their father’s misdeeds.

Mace is the guy who is trying to be positive and do good. Raven, on the other hand, sees life as the glass being half-empty and is pissed. Poor Vine is the newbie who is trying to learn the ropes and navigate the constant tension between Mace and Raven. That tension only escalates when they enroll in Nikki’s school and start competing for her attention…but falling in love with a human is forbidden and will land you in Hell for an eternity.

I loved that there was so much more to both Mace and Raven then what first appeared. I fell for both of them at the art gallery when they revealed their different perspectives on a particular piece of art…I saw a depth to them that is usually reserved for the main character. Meanwhile Vine provided the occasional nugget of insight and a whole lot of comedic relief.

Nikki, meanwhile, is no shrinking violet…she is my kind of chick. She can handle herself in most situations. Rides a motorcycle, competitive Karate, artist, and is a good kid! So why is something evil after her?

Really well written with lots of small conflicts leading up to a really big cliffhanger. Lots of twists and turns and characters getting introduced throughout the story…and you aren’t quite sure if they are good or bad. A great deal to look forward to in the next installment.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Tantalize

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quince has been orphaned…Left to the care of her Uncle D (Davidson), who is her Dad’s baby brother. She was also left with her Mom’s restaurant, which had been her Grandparent’s Legacy. Quince has decided to remodel and re-open with a vampire inspired theme. In walks Brad who appears to have the chops to pull it off. Now that the opening is looming, there are a rash of murders that appear to be the work of Weres…and her best friend, Kieran, is suspect number one!

HOLY COW…this book moved fast. I was so engrossed I didn’t realize the story had ended and I was reading the Acknowledgements. LOL

This had a really good love triangle…or maybe it was an unrequited love triangle?? Quince and I fell so completely under Bradley’s spell, neither one of us knew exactly what was going on, until it was too late. Poor Kieran tried to tell us. Notice how I included myself in that?!? My only complaint would be how easily Bradley seemed to give up? But I’m not convinced he has…need to get into the next book in the series to see if he really did give up.

The restaurant setting was different. I can see where some readers might (did) get turned off. Personally I thought it was a great setting/tool to effectively get the reader from point A to B. Can you tell I’m trying not to give away major plot points? Anyway, as someone who loves to cook and has fantasized about working in a restaurant, I loved the Sanguini’s setting.

Over all I enjoyed this book. Time flew so fast…good thing I started it on a day off with not a lot of chores to do…dinner did not get made though. Not a ton of character development because the characters are constantly reacting to their surroundings. But there were a lot of twists and turns and betrayals which always makes for an engrossing read as far as I am concerned. I hope we get into Kieran’s backstory a bit more in the next book. Him I would love to learn more about.

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Review: Endure

Endure by Carrie Jones

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Oooohhhh! Such a satisfying conclusion! Review to come!

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Review: Spellcaster

Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review to Come!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Entice

Entice by Carrie Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zara is now a pixie…she accepted her lineage and allowed Astley to turn her because only the Fae can enter Valhalla which is where Nick is. Devyn is having trouble accepting the fact that Zara is a pixie and that she won’t try to kill him. But does eventually let it go to help Zara and Astley find the way to Valhalla…which they finally do find, but the road is not a smooth one and some friends do lose their lives.

This story was a bit gut-wrenching because Zara is single-minded in her focus to get Nick. To the point where she almost dies. To say that her family and friends get frustrated with her is an understatement. And all the while Astley is there supporting her, being her friend, and not pushing any other agenda.

When Astley first came on the scene, I like many, couldn’t really get a read on him. I was afraid he was going to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I am happy to think that he is as good as he seems. Although his rule as King is not an easy life and a couple of times he does let it get him, it just endears us to him all the more. I think I may be changing from “Team Nick” to “Team Astley”…I may have to wait for the final book, “Endure” to fully decide whose side I am on.

Zara has a really rough road ahead of her. She is focused on getting Nick back but all the while she is afraid that when he finds out she had to turn, that he will hate her. Nick has made it clear from the beginning that he hates pixies above all else. What’s a girl to do? In Zara’s case she keeps plodding ahead and hoping for the best.

I have a lot of questions after Entice and the galley for the final book, “Endure”. I hope to know how this series wraps up sometime today. Time will tell, I guess.

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Review: Another Faust

Another Faust
Another Faust by Daniel Nayeri

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I didn’t know that the whole “making a deal with the devil” was known as a “Faustian Bargain”. In this story there are five kids who disappear from their homes and families to turn up five years later as the Faust siblings at the Marlowe Academy. The Faust siblings appear to only have a Governess who bestows on them some unusual gifts.

These gifts allow the kids to excel in the area for which they ultimately sold their soul. There are manipulations and deceit throughout the story and these machinations do tend to get a bit tedious and slow the story considerably.

Outside of the length of this story, I did enjoy the premise and most of the characters. Those that really embraced their deal were shallow and not really fleshed out. Those that were able to get out of their deal were more realistic and fully realized characters.

There are two more books in this series and they are based on different stories…I plan to read them to see how the Peter Pan and Jeckyl/Hyde stories play out.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Glass

Glass (Crank #2) by Ellen Hopkins

681 pages

Published 21 August 2007

Margaret K. McElderry

Crank. Glass. Ice. Crystal. Whatever you call it, it's all the same: a monster. And once it's got hold of you, this monster will never let you go.

Kristina thinks she can control it. Now with a baby to care for, she's determined to be the one deciding when and how much, the one calling the shots. But the monster is too strong, and before she knows it, Kristina is back in its grips. She needs the monster to keep going, to face the pressures of day-to-day life. She needs it to feel alive.

Once again the monster takes over Kristina's life and she will do anything for it, including giving up the one person who gives her the unconditional love she craves -- her baby.

The sequel to Crank, this is the continuing story of Kristina and her descent back to hell. Told in verse, it's a harrowing and disturbing look at addiction and the damage that it inflicts. (goodreads)


Welcome back to Kristina Snow's world. At the end of Crank, Kristina was pregnant and being pulled back from the grip of Crystal Meth. I would love to say that it worked...but then why would we need to have a second book it all ends well, right? It doesn't take Kristina long to start thinking about the monster again. After that it is a downward spiral of planning and manipulating to get her hands on her first eight ball of Glass, an even purer form of meth that is heated and inhaled and causes a high so addictive that an addict never wants to come down from it. Kristina gives up EVERYTHING for more of it. She meets Trey, falls in love and leaves her baby and family for him and the monster. We thought Kristina hit an all time low in Crank, but that is nothing to what she does in Glass. She really loses all sense of herself and falls further into the hell of addiction. 4 Stars!

I am amazed by the awesome storytelling of Ellen Hopkins. She is a very powerful writer. She pulls no punches. To take such a subject and humanize the people within it is just mind-boggling! I will forever be a fan.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Published on 1 December 2011

Sourcebooks Fire

281 pages

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate. (goodreads)


Holy High School Football! This book it ridiculously entertaining! Jordan is the quarterback of her high school football team. She is ranked best in the state and has BIG plans for a college football career. She has always been accepted by her teammates/buddies, pretty much the ONLY friends she has. How does a high school girl get by without a girlfriend? Who needs one when you've got your bff Parker (receiver on the team) and JJ (the center)?? Oh and there is...okay they are all guys and all her teammates so she is pretty clueless when new boy Ty (and star quarterback from Texas) shows up and is CUTE and makes her feel different. Unfortunately Jordan's main focus is getting Alabama to accept her and let her play football, so she manages to botch a lot of normal high school girl situations.

The dialog between Jordan and her buddies/teammates is epic! So fun, laugh out loud hilarious and very real. Her relationship that blooms is a bit creepy. I think the beau is a bit possessive and that is a major turn-off for me. I do love her bff Parker. Their relationship is awesome, believable and every girls dream. I felt the story flowed so well and just gripped me from the start. I could not put the book down! The ending was not all fairy tale and perfect, but it was what I would call real world! Over all a very refreshing read. 4Stars!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK, Shatter Me was a complete and total WOW! I finished reading it a couple of days ago and I still can’t let it go!

Poor Juliette is incarcerated at an Asylum, since the age of 14, because she accidently killed someone. Anyone who comes in contact with her can die a horribly painful death. So she’s been locked away in a cell where no one sees or talks to her. She hasn’t had any contact with another human being for over 3 years. That is until one day when a cellmate mysteriously appears…a male cellmate…someone she knew years ago in school. Turns out the a leader of the Reestablishment has plans for Juliette’s unique abilities.

One of the things that really affected me was how the author wrote. The way Mafi depicted Juliette’s thought process really emphasized how isolated and broken Juliette feels. I thought that was a fascinating and very effective technique! I just loved Juliette and how unbelievably caring she is though she has known nothing but hate and fear all her life. The reader was really able to get into Juliette’s head and what we found was captivating!

The love story was beautifully written and the Adam was so believeable (and swoon worthy!). While this was a dystopian story…it didn’t feel like it was that far in the future. And even it’s events were totally believable as a possible reality. This book just had it all for me! Can’t wait to see where we go from here!

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Review: The Alchemy of Forever

The Alchemy of Forever
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a case of “Happily Ever After”, not really being so happily ever after. Seraphine and Cyrus have finally found each other and a tragic accident is about to separate them forever. But Cyrus, the Alchemist’s son, has found a formula that will allow Sera’s spirit to leave her body and inhabit the body of another. Only 600 years later, Sera isn’t so thrilled with how hers and Cyrus’ relationship has progressed and she’s looking for a way out.

This story had so much promise and it just didn’t deliver! Great start, learning about the incarnates and how they became incarnates. Really slow moving middle. Then just as everything starts to pick back up again, the story ends. I looked it up on GoodReads and it was only 250+ pages. Ok, this is where I have to say that I feel cheated. I will bet my weight in donuts (and that’s a lot of donuts, friends) that this author offered up a longer more complete story and the publishing company said, “Hey let’s turn this into a series. Let’s stop the first book here…and save the rest of it for the subsequent books”. Sorry but this one just didn’t whet my appetite enough to care about what happens in future books.

Enough said!

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Review: Shatter Me


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

published 15 November 2011

338 pages


Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel. (goodreads)


When I began reading Shatter Me, there was so much talk about how fabulous it was, so my expectations at the start were extremely high. When I wasn't totally gripped at the beginning, I began to wonder what all the hype was about--I soon found out!

What a ride! Shatter Me begins with Juliette. She has been locked-up for touching someone and fatally harming them. You see, her touch is fatal. She has gone her whole life being ostracized by others to include her parents. As she sits in her cell trying to get through the days. She thinks of the world, how it has changed and been destroyed. How the animals and plants and trees are all gone. How pollution has ruined the earth. Now, the world is in chaos and split into sections basically run by whoever gets enough power and can keep it.

Everything starts to change for Juliette when Adam is thrown into her cell. Never has she had a cellmate, let alone a male! Adam isn't quite sure how to deal with Juliette. She doesn't really talk to him, and she keeps her distance but it isn't long before she helps him survive the long days of confinement. Then everything crashes down around them when their cell is raided and they are taken to Warner. He is a section leader and he wants to use Juliette as a weapon. With Warner's power and Juliette's gift he feels he can gain the upper-hand and expand his reach.

Juliette is such a sad and broken girl. She has spent her whole life thinking she is an abomination. Soon her and Adam discover that they can touch each other without harm to Adam. It literally offers something to Juliette that she has never had, love. To be hugged, to have the feel of another hand in yours, to have your cheek caressed, it is simple, yet so powerful when you have been denied it your whole life. Juliette realizes that Adam is the savior she had dreamed of, the white bird that would one day save her.

The last part of the book it full of suspense and action as Adam and Juliette try to escape Warner and find safety. We are introduced to several new people whom I think will be pivotal to the reamining story. I know this is at least two books and may even become a trilogy. We have a pretty good idea of who Adam and Juliette are and the end sets the story up to really take shape and see what more they can do with the help of their new allies. 4Stars!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Existence

Existence by Abbi Glines

published on 13 December 2011

Wild Child Publishing

194 pages

What happens when you are stalked by Death? You fall in

love with him of course. Pagan Moore doesn’t cheat Death, instead, she falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore, has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn’t let them know she could see them, they left her alone. Until she steps out of her car on the first day of school and sees an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he's dead. Not only does he not go away, when she ignores him he does something none of the others have ever done; he speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What Pagan doesn’t realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul. He is Death and he is about to break all the rules. (goodreads)


What I loved about this book was the unique take on paranormal. It isn't your typical ghost story. I don't think I've read another book with Death as the main love interest! Only Abbi Glines could make Death so...HOT! Death knew from the moment he saw Pagan that he would not be able to fulfill his promise to take her soul, so he sets out to save her at any cost. In doing so, it is Pagan who questions who she is, what she is, and if she is even sane. In the end as she is tested, Pagan make the ultimate tough choice saving Death and herself, but what is next for them??

Once again, Abbi Glines has written an awesome YA novel! A wonderful start for the Existence Trilogy that lays the foundation well, keeps the readers interest and has us swooning (or drooling) over the hotness of Death (okay, even Leif). I almost forgot to mention the jaw-dropping ending that has me longing for the next book in the trilogy. For her first time at bat for the paranormal genre, Abbi Glines hit a home run! 4 Stars!

Review: Breathe

Breathe by Abbi Glines

published 16 May 2011

Wild Child Publishing

Need a good clean YA read? This is the one for you! This story is sweet and will sweep you off your feet! Poor Sadie has a deadbeat mom, who acts more like the child than the adult. Sadie keeps everything together in her hard home life, which is why she ends-up taking over her mother's job as a maid over the summer. Sadie has no clue that the family she will be working for is none other than the Stone family. As in Jax Stone, major teen heartthrob and rocker! To Sadie it is no big deal. She doesn't have time to think about Jax or even listen to his music. Her main focus is working to make a paycheck so she can pay the bills, keep herself and her mom fed and maybe have some money left over to save for future expenses.

When Jax sees Sadie, he is interested. To even have someone working in the house close to his age is unique, let alone a girl who seems to be uninterested in him. He is baffled, but also intrigued. For a hot teen rocker, Jax is really sweet, thoughtful and protective. All his wonderfully swoon-worthy qualities win over Sadie rather quickly. Jax wants to be with Sadie and do normal things with her like go to a movie or a party, but he knows that will never happen with fame and the cameras always around him. He and Sadie decide to take things one day at a time knowing that it won't last past summer when his touring and public appearances resume. It doesn't take long for everything to fall apart for Sadie and Jax.

Abbi Glines weaves a perfect story of love and loss and strength. This book will have you grinning from ear-to-ear with happiness. Then, you will be pulling out the tissues and hugging your pillow in sadness. Don't worry the sun does shine again! A perfect YA contemporay...read it when you want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside! :) 4Stars!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: Ashfall

Ashfall by Mike Mullins

published on 11 October 2011

Tanglewood Press

466 pages

I am still thinking about this book and it has been days since I read it. I always say the sign of a great novel is that is keeps you up at night thinking about it. I lost a few nights sleep over this one!

After a super volcano under Yellowstone erupts, the US is devastated by the fallout. Soon to be sixteen year old Alex Halprin is sitting alone in his bedroom in Iowa at the start of a weekend alone while his parents visit his uncle in Illinois when the devastation begins. Alex is thrust into an unknown world that is out of control and ever changing. Alex decides to make the trek from Cedar Falls to Warren to find his parents, along the way he must learn very quickly how to survive the ashfall without starving, dehydrating or becoming a victim of violence. It is an epic story of survival. From the start Alex must begin to learn to ration his food and water and seek out safe shelter. After a near death encounter Alex meets Darla Edmunds and her mom. They save his life and let Alex stay with them until he is strong enough to continue his journey. A devastating event occurs that thrusts Alex and Darla together for the rest of the trek to Warren.

I really liked Alex. He was a normal almost sixteen year old. He had enough wit to get supplies together and get started on his trek, but he also really grows throughout the book. It doesn't take him long to start to adapt to the ever changing environment, roll with it and keep surviving. I also liked that he makes mistakes, more than one and they have consequences. It just felt so real. Although Alex has to adapt and change he is very compassionate. He still wants to help others and is grateful when someone helps him. He never asks for help, but takes what is offered and tries to give back. He is affected by the demoralization of society as it faces the devastating fallout of the eruption.

Where to begin with Darla! She has so much character! She is a spit-fire. She speaks her mind and is a hard worker. She is incredibly smart and mechanically inclined. She is amazing! Take Darla's creativity and Alex's prior experiences mash them together and you have an unstoppable couple! I was thrilled with the way the book ended. A companion, Ashen Winter, is expected in the fall of 2012 so be on the look out.

If you stand in the shower thinking of all the things you really should have on hand or learn to do, you are not alone! Maybe I will move to a small farm, raise some animals and crops...just in case. :) 4 Stars!

Review: Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse

Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse
Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars!

Sophomore year has a rough start for Phillip. His friends quit track and leave him to deal with the “Ferret” on his own. One friend ditches him completely to hang out with some douchebags. All the while Phillip still hasn’t come to terms with his Mom’s death…and his Dad keeps trying to get him to talk about it.

Then Phillip meets Rebekah…the “unconventionally” hot girl running track with him. She invites him to a youth group meeting at her church, which he goes to, to see her again. And continues to go to youth group, but is Phillip going to see Rebekah? Or is Phillip going because Christianity is starting to resonate with him? Oh and did I mention Phillip’s Dad is a rather staunch Atheist? Makes for some interesting conflict…wouldn’t you say?

Honestly, had I known going into this book, how Christianity driven the storyline would be I would have skipped it. Having said that though, I did read it and had kind of a love/hate thing with the book. At times the story was rather “preachy”…I hate being preached at! But there were other aspects to the story that I wanted to find out about. For example…interspersed throughout the book were reflections on the last year of Phillip’s Mom’s life…leading up to her death. I wanted to know what happened there and when it was revealed, it was a total let down after all the build up. It was another one of those times when I would have thrown the book across the room had I not been reading on my kindle.

The Christian church in the story is non-denominational, which to me is usually all inclusive, but this one was more fundamentalist. I strongly disagree with a lot of fundamentalist tenants! So the book preached to me about things I strongly disagree with…LOL…Like I said, a bit of a love/hate relationship with this one.

I did love Phillip’s Dad…While staunchly Atheist, he did come around to allow Phillip to be honest in his feelings about church and becoming a Christian. I think it was hard for the Dad to support Phillip but his love for his son won out over his beliefs. Another positive, was Phillip finally questioning everything he’d learned…throughout most of the book he’d taken on everyone else’s beliefs and never stopped to think or question anything, prior to that point he was a little parrot regurgitating everything he’d been told by people he assumed knew more than himself.

While I wasn’t a fan of the subject matter I can’t argue that the book makes a person think and examine their own beliefs, hence my very strong reactions while I was reading. But do take this as a warning, if you are a non-Christian reading this book, you will be offended! The book and Phillip will be redeemed by the end, so don’t totally give up on him.

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Review: Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Aria lives in a pod…think bio-dome. After an altercation with the leader’s son, Aria is basically kicked out of the community to most likely die on the “Outside”. After the guards kick Aria out, they go on to kidnap Outsiders, including Perry’s nephew, Talon. Perry is on a quest to get Talon when he finds Aria and reluctantly they work together…so Aria can survive and Perry can hopefully rescue Talon.

OK…So I tried to read this book a couple of times and just couldn’t get into it. BUT, I saw so many positive reviews I decided to go ahead and give it another try. I pushed through it hoping I would enjoy it more, but really didn't.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I found it “meh”. I liked and cared more for the secondary characters like Talon, Roar, and Marron, more than Perry or Aria. I thought Aria’s storyline was very awkward. The dystopian part of the story was completely clashing with the primitive side of the story…like trying to mash together an apple and an orange to come up with a third, “new” fruit. And for as disparate the lives Aria and Perry lived prior to meeting, I was surprised they spoke the same language. I guess the story was too full of contradictions for me. Especially the discovery of what Vale did to Talon! That was the point where I would have thrown my book against the wall but I was reading on my kindle fire and that just wasn’t going to happen. One thing I did appreciate was how Aria’s other half came to life once she got on the outside.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: The Way We Fall

The Way We Fall
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

“The Way We Fall” starts out as a journal Kaelyn is writing to her former best friend Lee. Kaelyn lives on an island off the coast of Canada and Lee is on the ferry to the mainland where he will proceed to NYC to pursue his dancing goals. In Kae’s journal entries we discover that a strange virus has appeared on the island and it’s killing the inhabitants. The island becomes quarantined and life changes for Kaelin and everyone else on the island.

I honestly thought when we got to the virus portion of the book, that it was going to turn into a zombie story…thankfully it didn’t!

I really enjoyed the whole story as journal concept. We got a glimpse into Kaelyn’s life when all was “normal”, relatively speaking. We learned the purpose of the journal and what Kae’s goals were with the journal. It provided a well-rounded view of Kaelyn.

The virus portion of the story was surprising in that there were a group of community minded teens who established a way to help the community and did it without prompting from anyone. There was also the usual group who were out for themselves…but it was Gav’s group which proved so hopeful.

My only real complaint was the ending. Honestly, the story had been so thoughtful and complete up until the December 19th entry. It felt like the author wasn’t sure how to wrap up the journal and this seemed like the best option? The book was so good otherwise and I felt cheated on the ending.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm
The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did you know Imperial Russia and it’s Tsars were supernatural beings? I didn’t either. Duchess Katerina has inherited the ability to raise the dead. She’s ignored her “curse” most of her life, but It’s a skill that makes her a highly sought after individual. Meanwhile there is a malevolent presence lurking in the royal blood lines. Everyone wants Katerina...and the time has come for her to embrace her power and pick a side.

Loved, loved, loved this book. I’ve always been fascinated with Russia, it’s culture, it’s Tsars, and especially St. Petersburg! My parents has traveled extensively in St. Petersburg bringing back lots of pictures of the palaces mentioned in the book.

I loved how the author pulled the actual Tsar’s family from 1880’s history to build the story. It allows for my imagination to wander and wonder “what if”.

Katiya is a strong female character. Her heart is in the right place, even if her necromancing talents tend toward the darker side of things. She believes in the Tsar and her family and will do anything and everything to protect them, even if it means giving up her dreams. Grand Duke George believes in the same things even if he doubts Katiya at first. Crown Prince Danilo is a Royal Jerk! I had such high hopes for him! And I loved how Katiya’s Mom flits around coming down with fits of hysteria, and focuses on getting her daughter married off, while her Father, is a more progressive thinker who supports his daughter no matter what.

I am so glad this is going to be a series! I couldn’t put this book down! It was so satisfying in all it’s palace intrigue, supernatural happenings, romance, and history! I can not wait to see what Robin Bridges does next? Will Katiya get to follow her dreams? Will she put them off for the time being? What about the Montenegros? And Georgi? Can’t wait to read more!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: A World Without Heroes

A World Without Heroes
A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jason Walker is a typical 14 year old boy. Average in school, obsessed with baseball, loves to skateboard and hang out with his friends. One day while volunteering at the zoo, he falls into the hippopotamus enclosure’s pool and finds himself transported to another world. In his quest to find a way home, he discovers another “beyonder” in the form of a 14 year old girl named Rachel who stumbled into Lyrian via an archway in Utah. Jason and Rachel get roped into finding the six syllables of a word that will undo the evil wizard Maldor who rules Lyrian and who also guards a portal that will return them back to beyond...and home.

What I liked about the book: I love Brandon Mull...I think he is incredibly clever and imaginative. I will read anything that he writes and have yet to be disappointed. Jason is smart, clever, witty, true to his word, has integrity and then some, just the kind of kid every parent would want to raise. I love that once he dedicates himself to the “cause” he can’t be talked out of it, boy does he get tempted. He keeps his promises. I loved the twists and turns that the story takes...especially when Jason finally gets in front of Maldor.

What I didn’t like about the book: It took a long time for the story to get going. There was a lot of fumbling and stumbling around Lyrian before Jason met up with Rachel and they got going on their journey. But that would be my only real complaint.

Overall, this series is geared toward slightly older kids than the Fablehaven series was. It’s richly detailed and totally engrossing once you make it past the Lyrian backstory at the beginning. I am anxious for the next book in this planned trilogy!

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Review: Revealing Eden

Revealing Eden
Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Eden lives in the catacombs below Earth’s crust. It isn’t safe to live on the surface where the Sun’s rays kill. Eden, being a pearl (caucasian), wouldn’t last long. In the “combs”, race wars still exist. The darker your skin, the higher your social status. Eden is at the bottom of the ladder, with “Cottons”, albinos, being the only race below pearls.

Eden’s saving grace is that her father is a bio-engineer who works for one of the largest companies, run by one of the most powerful men...Ronson Bramford. It’s at Bramford’s company that Eden meets and starts a tryst with Jamal, the head of security. It’s during these clandestine meetings that Eden reveals to Jamal what her father and Bramford are working on. And what they are working on is explosive!

What I liked about this book: It was fast paced and hard to put down. I would have read it in one sitting except I really needed to get some sleep. The romance was steamy, I kept looking for opportunities for Eden and paramour to get together. I loved the setting of the rainforest and the Mayan/Aztec mythology.

What I didn’t like about the book: Eden! She was whiney and incredibly self-absorbed. There were times I wanted to ditch the book because of her. The story was predictable! It was a Globally warmed retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a healthy sermon on saving the planet. Eden spent a lot of time identifying plants and animals by it’s latin genus and species...which really felt out of place considering how shallow and self-absorbed Eden was.

I appear to be in the minority with my feelings on this book. Which is fine. I do know I won’t be exploring the rest of the books in this planned trilogy.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Wrap-Up and the end of 2011

Oh My Word...Another year is done. I ended up reading 225 books in 2011. Originally I was going to shoot for 110, but my buddy, and co-blogger, KristyZ, posted her goal of 125. Not to be outdone, I changed mine to 150...I can be a bit competitive! But so can she! Kristy changed her's to 170, I believe and I changed mine one last time to 200.  Ultimately we both hit our goal! YEA US!

This year I am resolving to read less and write more. My goal is only 150 this year and I started a YA novel in 2011 that I need to pick back up since the holidays are over.  In the meantime, here is what I read in December!