Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: What's Left of Me

What's Left of Me
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

My Thoughts: This really reminded me of “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison because Meyes’ book had an alien soul transplanted into a human body where the human soul refused to leave.

Anyway, in this book, each body is born with two souls, and one eventually fades away, usually around 6 or 7 years of age. While young the two souls each have a name and kind of take turns controlling the body. In Eva and Addie’s case, they didn’t “settle” until much later, 11 or 12. Which caused much concern and many doctor and hospital visits. Having more than one soul in the body is great cause for concern, reporting to the government, whispers among neighbors, and usually moving to new areas where no one knows your history. If anyone discovers you have two souls (hybrid) you are usually taken away at the government’s insistence to be “fixed”. Scary thought!

My issue was that we, the reader, never learned how the two soul thing came about, nor why the government is so concerned about it…other than the “rebels” are generally hybrids, ie people with two active souls.

The story read fast and posed many interesting questions, some that were never cleared up but I am hoping the next installment will address them. Zhang had a tendency to repeat herself, which got tiring. Zhangs characters are endearing in their humanity…all of them have flaws and are likeable even when they try not to be. This was an interesting premise and I hope Zhang is able to keep the momentum up as the series continues.

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Review: Eve and Adam

Eve and Adam
Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Evening Spiker lives an affluent life in San Francisco with her mother, Terra, a successful geneticist and owner of Spiker Biotech. Sure, Evening misses her father who died mysteriously, but she’s never really questioned it. Much like how she’s never stopped to think how off it is that she’s never been sick. That is, until she’s struck by a car and is exposed to extensive injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible.

While recuperating in Spiker Biotech’s lush facilities, she meets Solo Plissken, a very attractive, if off-putting boy her age who spent his life at Spiker Biotech. Like Evening, he’s never questioned anything... until now. Solo drops hints to Evening that something isn’t right, and Terra may be behind it. Evening puts this out of her mind and begins her summer internship project: To simulate the creation of the perfect boy. With the help of Solo, Evening uncovers secrets so big they could change the world completely.

My Thoughts: The initial synopsis I read for this book gave me a completely different impression of the story. This book was not, in any way what I was expecting, but it was better than I was expecting also! Co-written by two well known authors, in their own right, who happen to be married. Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant. Grant writes the best selling “Gone” series, and Applegate who wrote the popular “Animorphs” series and “The One and Only Ivan”.

Poor Eve really has no clue about her Mom. They are two ships that pass in the night. That all changes when Eve get hit by a bus. Reading the bus scene was creepy and comical at the same time. It when she comes to at the hospital, post-op, that her Mom is in full form forcing the doc to release Eve into Mom’s care. Her mother is not beyond bullying and strong-arm tactics. Basically she is a witch with a capital B that puts the fear of God into everyone she encounters.

Eve is a typical kid, fighting to fit in. Sweet and smart she has only one friend prior to meeting Solo, and she is devoted to that friend. Eve is hesitant to tell her friend how she really feels or what she really thinks for fear of losing her.

Solo, meanwhile, has known all about Eve. He lives at Spiker Labs…literally lives at Spiker Labs. When his parents died, Terra was named his guardian. Which Eve is completely unaware of. Solo knows there is something going on at the labs, but has to be very careful how and when he digs around. Solo is lacking social skills because he never leaves the lab. All his schooling and social interaction is via the computer.

Solo opens Eve’s eyes to what is going on around her. Solo tells Eve all kinds of interesting information and reveals what he believes Eve’s mother is up to. Eve being the moral kids she is, agrees to help him. But not everything is as it seems. This was a well-crafted story with lots of twists and turns. You weren’t exactly sure what was going on until it was revealed…and the door was left open for what could be a very interesting sequel. Told from shifting points of view, we get to hear both Eve and Solo’s internal dialog which was really telling. I love being inside character’s heads and seeing how they tick.

This story is fast paced, and so is the action. It ultimately begs the question just how far we are willing to go towards saving people via genetic engineering, cloning, etc. Interesting questions for sure and it’s always to see how novelists tackle them via their stories. I hope this book does well and there is a sequel…I’d love to know what happens next to these characters.

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Review: Double Time

Double Time
Double Time by Olivia Cunning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Olivia Cunning delivers the perfect blend of steamy sex, heartwarming romance, and a wicked sense of humor in this menage story featuring the hottest guy in the Sinners band.

Trey Mills, the notoriously sexy Sinners rhythm guitarist, gives up his bisexual lifestyle and is swept into a hot, heady romance with Reagan Elliot, a female rock star sensation. But when Trey encounters Reagan's sexy bisexual roommate, Ethan Conner, he can no longer deny who he is or what he wants. Reagan heartily agrees to a solution that opens up a hot new world of sexual experience--and love--with the two men she wants the most.

**WARNING this is an ADULT title intended for an audience of 18+**

My Thoughts: LOVED this book…but, I gotta warn you. The publisher has decided to print this title out of the order the author intended. This book was intended to be the last book in the Sinners series. So it spoils some of the two books in this series which still have to come out, those of Eric and Jace. So consider this a word of warning…don’t read any further is you HATE spoilers…also you might want to pick up the book and just hold onto it until you get a chance to read Jace and Eric’s books first.

This was a great story and a beautiful summation to the series which still has two books to publish. OK, I’ll get off this soapbox now. Trey has been pining for Brian since they were kids and he is finally forced to move on. But as he makes this realization he meets Reagan who really sets his world on end. But can Trey really be happy with Reagan in the long run?

Ultimately it’s a story about accepting yourself and others as they are. The heart can’t help who it loves, it’s the brain we have to convince sometimes. I think Cunning gives Trey an authentic voice and she’s maintained that authenticity throughout. Trey’s lived the rocker lifestyle of sex drugs and rock-n-roll, even he isn’t sure he is ready to settle down, but I think watching what has happened with his bandmates who have settled down, happily, really rattles him as he wonders if he can ever have what they have. Cunning found, created, the perfect girl for him in Reagan. She loves Trey wholeheartedly and only wants to see him happy. It was good to see Trey finally happy. He’s got such a huge heart hidden behind all the bluff and bluster.

Looking forward, still, to Jace and Eric’s stories. I will be sad when Sinners comes to an end, because they are some awesome rockers!

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Review: Try Me

Try Me
Try Me by Olivia Cunning

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis Melanie has no desire to meet the members of the rock band, Sole Regret, but her groupie of a best friend gets them both backstage and then rushes off with the band’s lead singer. Left alone at an after party with a bunch of scary tattooed and pierced metal-heads, sheltered Melanie is relieved when the only normal-looking guy in the room insists on keeping her company.

By the time Melanie discovers that Gabe is the band’s drummer and not as normal as she assumed, she has already made a complete fool of herself. She can’t help but be interested in him, not as a rock star, but as the sexiest man she’s ever encountered. Strangely attracted to his hidden tattoos and body piercing, she wonders what it would be like to spend a night with a bad boy.

Gabe is more than willing to show sweet Melanie there’s more to him than meets the eye. All she has to do is try him. Will they only share a single night of passion? Or will their hearts entangle as quickly as their bodies?

**This is an ADULT book, intended for audiences over 18**

My Thoughts: Have I mentioned that I love Olivia’s rock band erotica? I do. Her’s seems more like what I would expect from a rock band than some of the glossed over “good guy” rockers in other books.

Anyway, this story was a kick and a great introduction to the band Sole Regret. I loved Melanie…she has some baggage and it colors her perception of men with tattoos…and yet she falls for a guy and gets to know him before ever knowing that he has them. I love when people are given an opportunity to overcome mis-perceptions. And Gabe handles her beautifully.

I’m excited to read more about Sole Regret! I will miss the Sinners when that series is concluded but am sure I will love Sole Regret almost as much!

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Review: Hearts in Darkness

Hearts in Darkness
Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Makenna James thinks her day can't get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.

Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he's terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he's trapped in his own worst nightmare.

To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?

My Thoughts: This was a great story. Loved the premise of these two strangers stuck on an elevator in the dark and that they start talking to each other to save their sanity. Neither one of them really got a good look at the other before the elevator died and plunged them into complete darkness.

I loved that by getting to know each other in the dark they connected on a spiritual and emotional level long before they saw each other physically. So many stories have the incredibly “beautiful people” and there is always the insta-lust based on the physical package.

I hope if I am ever stuck in a dark elevator for hours on end that I will get to have Makenna’s experience. LOL!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Onyx

Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

My Thoughts: I have to say that I like “nice” Daemon a whole lot more than “douche bag” Daemon! And yes, we do get a glimpse or two of “nice” Daemon.

Lots of revelations here! A few are surprising, most you could see coming if you wanted to. The chemistry between Kat and Daemon hits stratospheric levels…but with those highs come some real tear jerking lows too.

What I love about Kat is the fact that she seems like a reasonable, normal, high school kid. I love Daemon’s snark, arrogance, and his great big squishy heart that only gets revealed in tiny bits. Armentrout creates great characters and I have no doubt I will be following them to the “ends of the Earth”

Ultimately, the story remained just as “un-put-down-able” as all the other Jennifer L. Armentrout books I’ve read, thank goodness…the only problem with that is that it always seems like an interminable wait for the next installment.

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Review: Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis: It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

My Thoughts: Let me say I thought “Dressed in Blood” was a beautifully written spook-fest, Blake made evil poetically beautiful. But that beauty was missing from “Nightmares”. I’d say this installment was equally scary and spooky, but it just felt like something was missing.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I was fascinated by the history of the knife that Cas wields…as well as the council group Cas’s Dad broke from. So much of the backstory, we were missing from the first book was revealed in “Nightmares”. I love all the Voodoo and Hoodoo and all the other creepy crawly stuff.

I really appreciated that Blake didn’t let our hero and his sidekicks escape unscathed from “Anna Dressed in Blood”. They are all suffering from PTSD and are all handling it in different ways which made the story even more engaging. Nothing worse than heroes and sidekicks that are completely unaffected by what they go through!

This book also felt like a completion to the story. Thinking about it afterwards, though, I did realize that Blake did leave the door open for another adventure, but it would have to go in a different direction.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The Evolution of Mara Dyer
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past. She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head. They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets. She’s wrong.

My Thoughts: HOLY HANNAH! First I would like to say that I believe I loved Evolution more than Unbecoming.

Going into Evolution I knew the story was going to be about tracking down Jude, I mean after that cliffhanger, what else could the story be about. Well, I'm here to tell you, it was about so much more than simply tracking down Jude!

I don't do spoilers, so I apologize for being vague. Hodkin took Mara in directions I never would have or could have imagined. I'm still shaking my head in amazement!

My only problem was how easily Mara's family blew off her repeated attempts to tell them Jude was still alive. But if they hadn't there wouldn't have been much of a story, and considering the traumas she went through in Unbecoming, I guess maybe I wouldn't have lent much credence to her statements.

Do yourself a favor, if you read Unbecoming, read was quite a roller coaster ride!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

My Thoughts: Where to start…I had a really hard time getting into this one. It seemed to me that the story really took a while to get going. I think it was all the comparisons Diana did between her present and Elizabethan England as well as getting to know all of Matthew’s “School of Night” friends. The story did finally pick up for me once Diana and Matthew decided to head to France to see Phillipe.

It amazes me how Harkness can take famous historical figures and paint them so richly and with such vivid detail! I forget that I’m reading a novel.

Diana discovers who and what she is, one of the main reasons for traveling back to begin with. She and Matthew are able to learn a great deal about the manuscript, their other reason for traveling back in time. Plus we learn a lot more about Matthew in this installment…which I loved! Matthew’s son warned he was going to be different back in Elizabethan times…and he was. How Diana managed not to kill him, at times, still amazes me. We learned so much more about Matthew in this book, which was lacking from “Discovery”.

Harkness handled the time travel aspect of this story so well, I thought. We, the reader, kept getting glimpses of the present from the viewpoint of family members waiting for them to return, which I thought was brilliant. Also, Harkness always kept the timeline in mind so disruption was kept to a minimum, but yet there were small ripples seen through the eyes of the family left waiting.

Overall, I loved the book, though not as much as “Discovery”. I was left with a nagging question, What happened to Em? Did I miss it? Or is it one of those answers I am just going to have to wait for? I just can’t wait to see how the trilogy finishes up in the next book.

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Review: The Mephisto Kiss

The Mephisto Kiss
The Mephisto Kiss by Trinity Faegen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars!

GoodReads Synopsis: The eyes never lie. No one’s eyes are darker than Eryx. Not even the Devil’s.

When Jax and Sasha first see Jordan Ellis, they know she is no ordinary teenager. She’s the daughter of the President after all, but she’s also Anabo – a descendant of Eve.

What they don’t know is that Eryx plans to kidnap Jordan and force President Ellis to pledge his soul. If Eryx’s plot succeeds, the consequences would be catastrophic.

But the Mephisto brothers do know about Jordan’s secret identity. And for one of them, she could be the match that leads to their soul’s salvation.

Now it’s a desperate race against time to save Jordan and prevent Eryx’s haunting eyes from discovering her true identity.

My Thoughts: If you can put this book down after the first chapter, I will eat my hat. Talk about something grabbing you and not letting go?!? Holy Hannah!

I really wondered what this book was going to feature. I figured the story could go one of two ways…we could 1) Continue with Jax and Sasha or 2) Read about one of the other brothers. I can’t say that I had a preference for which way it was going to go because I enjoyed the first book, Mephisto Covenant, so much.

I’m here to tell you, it was option 2. This story centered around brother #2, Key, and it was quite a story! In learning about Key, we also learned a lot more about Eryx than we ever knew from Mephisto Covenant…and it was typical sibling stuff all of us with sibs have to deal with, just no escaping it I guess.

I dare say I enjoyed this book even more than Mephisto Covenant. Key was a total dichotomy…the person he projected was completely different than what was inside and a lot of it came from taking on the mantle of “oldest” once Eryx fell. Jordan was just what he needed and they complimented each other beautifully. Jordan was incredibly strong on the outside and made all her decisions based on the whole rather than herself. AND, Jordan and Key did not have a case of “insta-love”, which seems to be the case in the vast majority of YA books. The ending of this one was something completely unexpected as well! Hadn’t seen that one coming in a million years!

Now the question is where will the next book go? Will it follow Phoenix? Or, will it follow another brother allowing the Phoenix sub-plot a chance to grow a bit? Hmmm…can’t wait to read the next installment!

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Review: The Shadow Cats

The Shadow Cats
The Shadow Cats by Rae Carson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. And it was not Alodia.

Alodia is the crown princess of the realm. The sister who knows how to rule, and the one who is constantly reminded that she has not been marked for a grand destiny. But Alodia has plans, and she will be the greatest queen her people have ever known. So she travels--with her hopeless, naïve, chosen sister--to a distant part of their land, to begin to secure her supporters. This region needs its princesses, for it is plagued with a curse. The crops don't grow, the spring doesn't arrive, and a fierce jaguar stalks the shadows, leaving only empty homes splashed with blood behind. If Alodia can save them, no one will be able to deny her strength and her sovereignty.

But what she discovers could change the fate of her kingdom, if not her world. And it will most certainly change her opinion of her younger sister.

My Thoughts: This was a novella that takes place before the events of “Girl of Fire and Thorns”. It was an opportunity to get to know Elisa’s sister a bit better. This also had the first chapter of the next book in the series, “The Crown of Embers”. We didn’t learn anything new or earth-shattering, but it was a quick read and a good story.

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Review: Perception

Perception by Kim Harrington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared

My Thoughts: I love this series! It’s not a traditional mystery, it’s way more fun!

In this installment we have some common threads from the previous book, Clarity, that weave through this one. I love the subplots that continue in the background, they keep me coming back for more…kind of makes me feel like I’m part of the family.

Since “Clarity” took place during the Summer, Perception starts out shortly thereafter and Clare is in school. In previous years Clare has been perceived as an “odd ball”, but after helping to solve the murder from the Summer, the “cool” kids are paying her more attention. Clare also seems to have a secret admirer/stalker. Add to this the fact that a Senior has gone missing and Clare’s got a lot on her plate.

Maybe I was a bit slow reading Perception, but I didn’t figure it out until just before Clare did…that doesn’t happen to me very often. I find this series to be so much fun. Lots of twists and turns, very likeable, flawed, HUMAN characters, some with extraordinary gifts, all of them with great personal stories. I sincerely hope Harrington can find the creativity needed to keep this series going for a long time to come.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Timekeeper

Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: When Philip Walker appears as a new student in Michele Windsor's high school class, she is floored. He is the love she thought she lost forever when they said goodbye during her time travels last century. Overjoyed that they can resume the relationship they had a lifetime ago, Michele eagerly approaches him and discovers the unthinkable: he doesn't remember her. In fact, he doesn't seem to remember anything about the Philip Walker of 1910.

Michele then finds her father's journals, which tell stories of his time-traveling past. As she digs deeper, she learns about his entanglement with a mysterious and powerful organization called the Time Society and his dealings with a vengeful Windsor ancestor. Michele soon finds herself at the center of a rift over 120 years in the making, one whose resolution will have life-or-death consequences.

My Thoughts: It’s been way too long since I’ve read Timeless! I’m so glad I was able to get a galley copy of Timekeeper!

Before starting Timekeeper, do yourself a favor and make sure you read the novel Monir put out called, “The Secrets of the Time Society”. If you don’t, the beginning of Timekeeper will be very confusing.

This was a sweet conclusion to Michele and Philip’s love story. We learn about how Philip is suddenly enrolled in Michele’s high school, as well as the answers to many other questions. And the story ended in such a way that there could be further time-travel adventures for Michele…but I don’t think so.

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Review: Secrets of the Time Society

Secrets of the Time Society
Secrets of the Time Society by Alexandra Monir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GoodReads Synopsis: There exists a secret society where one's ability to travel through time is "gifted" to members only by blood. Those who try to enter the society quickly come to realize that time is a force not to be reckoned with. Alexandra Monir's short story exclusive eBook, SECRETS OF THE TIME SOCIETY, sheds light upon the world created in her novel, TIMELESS, and forecasts the fate that lies ahead for its protagonist, Michele Windsor. Now that Michele is gifted, there are some who will do anything to take that power away.

My Thoughts: I’m so glad I had this novella on hand. When Timekeeper started out I felt like I was missing something. I remembered this novella and read it before diving back into Timekeeper. The Time Society plays a large part in Timekeeper and this provides the back story. It could have been done within Timekeeper, but this was short and read fast, answering the questions that the beginning of Timekeeper left me with. Anything to feed my time-travel addiction is a good thing.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Round-Up

I don't think I did a round up for June now that I think about it. It was a tough month and I completely spaced it. But here are the books I read for July: