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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#1)

Title: Of Neptune
Author: Anna Banks
Release Date: May 13, 2014

Emma and Galen’s kingdom and their love is threatened by long-lost Syrena in the brilliant conclusion to Anna Banks bestselling trilogy.
Emma, half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.
Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean and the land-dwelling, freshwater Syrena. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love but their ocean kingdoms.
In this stunning conclusion to her bestselling Syrena Legacy, Anna Banks thrills fans with more action and romance than ever.

I DIG MERMAIDS ahem...well...more specifically...I LOVE MERMEN. Galen is one of mi' boys. *tackle hugs*

The second book ended on a sweet note, but I can't wait to see what happens in this novel!
How about you? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

*Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. Go check out the other posts!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) by James Dashner

"When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel -- a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring -- they're swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.Now it's up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak's missing parents while they're at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny!"

Wow! I love Dashner,  he just makes things so universal.  Of course, you never can go wrong with time travel…at least for me. Time travel books can go seriously wrong, and yet, they’ve always been my favorite. This isn’t my absolute favorite time travel story (um, for the older crowd, Tempest by Julie cross, and for a universal adventure, The Missing by Margaret Peterson Haddix) but I still fell into companionship with this story.

I love the characters (I can relate to them on some level, which I rarely do with characters), it’s witty, and it’s one of my favorite events in time! It just really couldn’t go wrong for me. I love the rivalry between Dax and Riq (it’s pretty electric.) Overall, it’s just real; and really well written!  This book will be integrated into a multiplatform story, much like 39 clues series! If you are a fan of 39 Clues, or Patrick Carman’s multimedia platforms, you’ll enjoy this book. (I received this ARC from the Dashner Dude himself at BEA12! Thanks James!

Neptune's Tears (Timedance #1) by Susan Waggoner

“London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her.”

I was entranced by the cover and I'd had it on my to-reads list for a few months..but then….I passed it several times at the Macmillan booth at ALA in Chicago (2013 for future readers reference.) I actually waited an hour in line, at the crazy bull run/zoo on Monday at 12 (where magically, everyone pops up from their crevices and they run down everyone they can to get to the booths that sell their books at noon.)
I waited for an hour, and once I was let in to the booth area, I picked this last beautiful display copy up and went to get a second before checking out. The process sounded peaceful, but what actually happened, was that about 30 people rushed me, crushed me into the booth and left with their precious books without paying for them.
I and three other dignified souls stuck around to express thanks with green paper of monetary value. I’d had my eye on this book for the whole weekend, knowing they only had that display copy. I was overjoyed when I was third in line!
So I made sure that I stuck this one in my plane backpack (which much to my chagrin, I had to take with me every day of ALA to keep track of my medicine and etc.)
The next day, exhausted, I sat on the plane and took this puppy out. I read…and read…and read.
Then I read the rest of it on the drive back home from LAX.
I finished it before we ‘got down the hill’ (it’s what we call the mountain pass that separates LA from my home town.) and I was sorely disappointed.
Yeah, it had lots of precise medical terminology…. But it had no character attachment (oh look, someone died and I don’t care.)
The other thing that drove me crazy? You know the saying “Show, don’t tell”? This book was ALL TELL and no show. Also, the time jumps drove me crazy. You’d go to the next chapter and all of the sudden, it was a month later….What happened in those months and those weeks? Surely she wasn’t put in to a chamber that paused her every thought and emotional turmoil? Yet she was in the same mental state she was before the skip… This definitely contributed to the character detachment.
I just keep waiting for it to get better and it never did. I’m usually such a sci-fi chick! This book held loads of promise, but the way it was written totally put me off. No matter how many unanswered questions there are, I will not be picking up the sequel. Shame. Perhaps it might have been saved if it had a really good (read: ruthless, dictatoresque) content editor.
Don’t pick this book up. There are plenty of others with the same premises that you will enjoy much, much, much better.

The Gaia Wars (Gaia Wars#1) by Kenneth G. Bennett

“Deadly secrets have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind.
Until today...
Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn't like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer's property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed."

I LOVED this book. It was amazing. Yes, I’'m a science fiction geekgirl. But, with a lot of science fiction, you lose a sense of reality, or you lose the personal side. Things are often not just new wave, but ‘future’-wave. This book is, alien invasion meets Native American folklore, meets campout nightmare.

Translation for people who don’t speak nerd: It rocked.

It had everything that makes a good story. Even non-science fiction people will love this read. Another thing I have to say, it was FANTASTICALLY written. I have the sequel already, I can’t wait to read it.

False Memory by Dan Krokos

“Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.
Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.
Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.”

You guys all know I’m a sci-fi fanatic. TONS of sci-fi releases have happened in the past month, and the flow shows no sign of stopping.  It makes me absolutely GIDDY. I met Dan at BEA12 and had the honor of receiving his first ever signed book. Ridiculous, right? The second I read the synopsis for False Memory, I knew it would be one of the genuine ones. (As in, it’s an honest Sci-fi, not just a romance that happens to have an alien in it.) Dan does a fantastic job of writing in the female perspective! It follows our natural train of thought (completely different from most boys...) Not to mention…this was like an action flick on PAPER. Though it has high action, it also wages psychological warefare. You ask yourself questions like: “Did someone betray them? Who? One of their own team members?” My mind worked a million miles an hour to figure it out!  Even though this book had a moderate amount of cussing, I absolutely recommend this book.  Kudos to you Dan, in the dark alleyways authors have to travel, you found  THE flashlight. I can’t wait for False Sight.

Broken Skies (Broken Skies #1) by Theresa Kay

“In seventeen-year-old Jax Mitchell's world, humans are nearly extinct and alien settlers have arrived.
Until recently, the E’rikon have remained segregated in their city and ignored the few humans who have tried to engage them… but now they have taken Jax’s brother. To rescue him, she forms an uneasy alliance with a teenage E’rikon left stranded in the woods. She agrees to guide him to the city if he sneaks her past the human-proof barrier. Too bad it’s not that simple.
Jax, who cannot stand to be touched, finds that’s she’s drawn to the alien boy with bright green hair and jewel-like scales down his back. And he’s equally affected by her, the courageous redhead with haunted eyes. But she doesn’t know the alien’s true motives and he has no idea that she is much more than she seems.
In this world where alien and human are at odds, the connection forming between the two has consequences. What started off as a rescue mission sets a chain of events in motion which threatens not only the remaining humans and the growing alien society, but Earth itself.”

YES. Just….YES. For anyone who has been around me for any length of time, you know that I totally dig Sci-Fi. It’s my favorite genre, and sometimes, it gets scarce. ESPECIALLY, good sci-fi. A good sci-fi, is like the chances of finding a majestic unicorn in your backyard. Fortunately, I’m half crazy, and I’ve found quite a few unicorns over the years. So I went in to this tour with a high bar, and hesitant expectations (but I always hope for the best when it comes to my favorite genre.)

For the first few pages, I dilly dallied, stopping to do chores and etc. But eventually I hit the sweet spot, and sat down to read all the way through the rest of it.

AMAZING. And that was my thought before I knew it was Theresa’s first (published) novel.

I love aliens, and all that jazz. BUT, Theresa managed to bring a fresh face to her aliens, I’m used to seeing Aliens in YA fiction, as humans with above average looks, intelligence or capabilities… Lir is definitely super human, and he looks human but he’s DIFFERENT. He has something that’s organically different.

On the flipside, There’s nothing I detest more than totally overboard xenologistic authors. I’m sure you’ve attempted to read at least one. One’s where it takes half the novel for you to understand what the heck is going on, and just what and who you’re dealing with.

To give you a more specific taste, I’ll share with you the moment I was riveted to the page.

“I pull out a green t-shirt and drop it on
the bed, then I find a pair of faded jeans with a hole in the knee— Jace won’t miss those— and
put them on the bed with the shirt.
I manage not to jump out of my skin when Lir just walks into the room. Don’t aliens know how to knock?
“Change,” I say, sending him a dirty look, and then stride back through the doorway.
Flopping into the chair in the den, I begin making a mental list of supplies we’ll need for
the trip. As I’m tallying the supplies I have on hand and what we may need to trade for, a loud
thump draws my eye to Jace’s doorway where Lir is standing with his back to me— shirtless.
My hand shoots up to cover the sound of my gasp. I’d heard of the green blood, but I’d
never heard of anything like this. Golden scales with green tips extend from the hairline on the
back of his neck in a line along his spine and flare out over his hips, disappearing into the top of
the dark gray uniform pants. The line of scales, the trail down his back only a few inches wide,
is brilliantly colored, almost like jewels. I’ve never seen anything like it and I want to know
what they feel like. Are they soft like a snake’s sun warmed skin or hard and jagged like the
colored rocks they resemble?
I’m up and almost halfway across the room before I realize what I’m doing..

AHHHH *fangirl squeal* The book progresses, and changes, and mystifies. Relationships form, hearts break , ideals change, and I was happy, excited and sometimes even embarrassed for the characters.

Speaking of heart break, that end left mine in pieces. Theresa, we need to have a little talk, you can’t just do this to us. You really can’t…It’s just inhumane.

But, I was (very very very) slightly comforted by the fact that the sequel is scheduled for release in September 2014.

Theresa, you have a new devoted fan.

Not to mention, you pulled a fast one on me with Flint. I TOTALLY didn’t see that one coming.

I give it a solid four and a half stars. If you are a sci-fi freak, or you’re in the mood for a whirlwind experience, I recommend Broken Skies. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review! I would appreciate it so much if you'd follow me via RSS and checked out the other wonderful bloggers on this tour. You can access the tour schedule (and links) by clicking on the tour banner above!

*my more conservative followers may not like this novel, but I can’t tell you why…. Because it would ruin a mainstream line of the novel. Sorry folks!

XOXOXO (Stories of Melissa #2) by Bethany Lopez

“Melissa has learned a lot since her freshman year began, but it isn’t over yet! Her world is about to change again with the birth of her new sibling, and she has to figure out how she will adjust to being the eldest of five kids. She, Jess, and Jimmy are inseparable, and she is having a fantastic time although she can’t help but miss Brian as she tries to learn how to deal with his relationship with Layla. Everything seems to be happening at once and that is when she is introduced to Ben Campbell, a senior at Dearborn High, who becomes an interesting distraction as he helps her deal with the new developments in her life.”

Ta-Ta For Now was good, but XOXOXO was FANTASTIC. In Ta-Ta For Now Melissa was a little bit shallow and selfish but I feel like you really did see Melissa grow up. While it wasn’t a book that required deep thinking, I really did enjoy reading about a normal teenage girl growing up. .(my life certainly isn’t normal!)  The best part of it was that it properly conveyed that sometimes things aren’t Happily Ever After, but that those parts of life are still as valuable. I love also how the boys weren’t portrayed as romeo. In so many books, the boys are pretty much perfect; relax, none of those are here! If you’re looking for a light, entertaining read, this is it! I’m looking forward to what Melissa will deal with next!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

        The Westing Game is the most unique book I have ever read. In The Westing Game, you follow the death of Millionaire Samuel Westing. In Samuel’s will, he leads his heirs to believe he was murdered. Mr. Westing told them (through the will) that he knew who murdered him-it was one of them. And it was their job to figure out who it was. How? The only way was to play the Westing Game. The heirs were split into teams of two. Each team was given four clues. They had to be cautious, because the killer just might strike again.

         The Westing Game took a while to grab my full attention, but once it had, it never let go. It can get a little complicated to keep track of all the characters, but the ending is well worth the wait. It’s an unusually complete book. Every clue is followed to excruciating detail, no clue, item, or character is misplaced. You won’t be left wondering about loose ends. And what’s more, it is complex-there are clues within clues within clues. As you investigate every minute detail with the characters you discover that the clues aren’t that small at all. The Westing Game is incomparable. If you choose to read this book, you’ll never forget it, and you’ll never regret it.

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

by Patrick Carman

         If you want to convince a friend that reading is fun, Skeleton Creek is an excellent book to use. Patrick Carman is nothing short of genius, you have never seen anything like this. It is the most interactive book you will ever come across. It is a multi-media book; you read a chapter or two, then log on to the given website, type in the password and watch the video. The book is about a boy named Ryan McCray, his friend Sarah Fincher and a place that may or may not be haunted. The words suck you into their inky vortex as you read Ryan’s journal, then you are given the password. You will be in a scramble to get to the nearest computer to find out what is next (and in my case, take a spectacularly impossible fall over the footstool). The video filled me with absolute and complete fascination.

This time, Sarah’s curiosity had gone too far, she went alone to the abandoned gold dredge just outside of town. Which would have been acceptable, except she never got to the door. She was scared off by someone (or something) unexpected. It involves a broken leg, a bunch of the videos, a haunted dredge, and a possible homicide. They discovered that their sleepy town had secrets; secrets that had been buried by a generation (or more!) of lies. Not to mention, this someone (or something) is not above killing, and it has made its intentions clear. They either stop investigating, or never see the light of day again.

         I will repeat it, Patrick Carman is a genius. It was excruciatingly difficult for me to put Skeleton Creek in 4th place instead of 3rd on my top five lists, but I just couldn’t put it in 3rd. The reason for that is, you need to have a computer and internet access readily available. This book is impossibly fantastic. It has everything! In fact, I can’t think of a single thing missing. Every friend of mine has read it and loved it. The only possible negative thing, would be that the videos are realistic and kind of scary (but then again, I jump when the toast pops out of the toaster), but I have had friends as young as eleven read it with no problem. It all depends on your mental state and your ability to handle it. Well, can you handle it?

*edit: This entire series is fantastic. You just can’t go wrong! I recommend it to everyone looking for a good bump in the night read!*

Friday, April 25, 2014

PSI Another Day by D.R. Rosensteel

When spunky teen Rinnie is forced to bust out her secret Psi Fighter moves in school in order to bring downs its drug ring, she encounters a deeper plot…and a more sinister danger.
My name is Rinnie Noelle.
 By day I'm just another girl in high school who likes lip gloss. But by night I'm a Psi Fighter—a secret guardian with a decade of training in the Mental Arts. Kinda like Batman, but without the cape.
Bad guys beware.
After screwing up my first mission, I'm now supposed to fix the problems at my school. Major, fly-catching yawn. Sure, drugs are bad, but what crime fighter wants to put bullies in detention when she can save the world from nefarious villains?  ’Cause I will take you out.
But things heat up fast. Now I have two guys into me—yummy new kid, Egon, and my old nemesis-turned-nice-guy, Mason. Plus, word on the street is that a Walpurgis Knight, the Psi Fighter's worst enemy, has infiltrated the school. And everyone is a potential suspect, even Mason and Egon. Darn. Fingers crossed I find the Knight before he finds me..

This book exceeded my expectations! It had a serious plot, but a lighthearted edge because there was one thing this author NAILED.


Here's an example:
 ""Stu-dents," she said finally in a staccato voice, She waited until the auditorium quieted. "I have good news for you, and I have news that is less than satisfactory."
"What's the good news, Old Bag?" A voice from the back shouted. The auditorium echoed with laughter at the nasty nickname.
"For me, Mr. Rubric," she said calmly, " good news would be a relaxing breakfast of sausage, eggs, and a honey-covered biscuit, eaten after the joyful discovery that my milk carton had your picture on it."
[Rinnie:] Direct hit, I gave it a ten."

This man made me laugh out loud. And further? It was a humor that ANYONE would find funny. It’s not like other novels I’ve read where you see something that you know some find funny, but find yourself just grimacing at instead.

One thing I’ve noticed in other people’s remarks about this novel, is the seemingly hated “Love triangle.” Usually I’m not one for the dreaded triangle, but this book was so subtle about it, I’m not sure you could call it a triangle at all…(I’m not convinced, because I don’t see proof of two boys chasing a girl simultaneously.)

I also would really like to comment on Mason's story line. I loved to see his clockwork ticking and see his devastating past. I LOVED the discussion he had with Rinnie at the end (Wink, no spoilers...) It was really just a gentle, lovable moment.

I found his characters genuine, and I really empathized with Rinnie. Her voice was so unique and funny (and like a normal teenager, occasionally self-doubting and/or spacey.) Which I found to be attractive.
Even his society was well put together. I expected this book to be somewhat like Ally Carter’s Heist Society (I would typically say Gallagher Girls was closer, except I can’t compare because I’ve never read Gallagher Girls!)

Now, I saw the ending coming, but it was pulled off in a really charming way. (mixed with elements that I didn’t see coming.)

This is yet another example of how underestimated male writers are in the YA field. They really are capable of writing female perspectives and they really can have an iron grasp on female emotional ranges.

I would absolutely recommend this read to anyone looking for something a little whimsical, with a solid serious edge. This was written especially well for a kick-butt against drugs novel...

This novel was provided to me by YA BOUND book tours, in exchanged for a review. My view on the novel was not influence in any way, shape, or form, by the donation of the novel.

Don't forget to see the other lovely ladies' posts, you can find them all on a handy-dandy little list

 Add it to your Goodreads to-read!

The Psi Fighter

About the Author
D.R. Rosensteel is a management consultant living in a household of women. He believes that the extreme estrogen level in his house contributes to his writing voice. And his hearing loss. He is a graduate of the Long Ridge Writer’s Group and the Institute of Children’s Literature. Psi Fighter is his first novel. Check out The Psi Academy at www.psifighteracademy.com

Follow him on various sights here!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Vicious Deep (The Vicious Deep #1) by Zoraida Cordova

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave. He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth. His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he's heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he's suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods. Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea...and now it wants him back.

I loved this story! It’s negatives would be a high amount of sexual (but non-graphic) content and a high amount of cussing..BUT it shows a ton of originality! Not to mention, it’s from Tristan’s perspective. FINALLY, a male perspective YA book. I was getting really tired of all the wimpy protagonists. Tristan is a player, a lifeguard, (a stereotypical one at that!) and then BAM. He’s introduced to a world of bloodthirsty merfolk.  I loved the whimsy of it, and yet it had a serious tone. I loved that Tristan was such a boy. I know, that’s a girl saying, but he was! You want to hug him one minute and call him Jerk Face the next.  And…as a little personal story I’d like to say that I got to read this one outside! And guess what? It didn’t melt! That’s the first time I’ve managed to do that. Basking in the sun with my music, dog, and this book! It made me feel like it was the perfect summer evening. It even distracted me successfully from this new painful medication I’ve been put on (illness, 0 - Zoraida,2 = WIN)! This is a definite summer read. (recommended for older teens because of the sexual refrences) I can’t wait to hear more from Zoraida! Do you have any cool summer reads?

Savage Blue (The Vicious Deep #2) by Zoraida Cordova

A storm is coming...
The ocean is a vicious place. Deeper and darker than Tristan could have imagined. Beneath its calm blue surface, an ancient battle is churning —and no one is safe.
In the quest for the Sea Throne, Tristan has already watched one good friend die. Now he must lead the rest on a dangerous voyage in search of the trident that will make him king. But while Tristan chases his destiny, the dark forces racing against him are getting stronger, and the sea witch of his nightmares is getting closer.
Battling sea dragons and savage creatures of the deep, Tristan needs his friends' support. But they each have their secrets, and a betrayal will force Tristan to choose between his crown and his best friend Layla — the only girl he's ever loved.

I loved this book just as much as the first (Although, I’ll probably always favor the first just a little bit.) It has taken me forever to find the right words for this review! (Although, part of the problem is a mind-numbing energy-sucking sinus infection.) This is the time of year were EVERYONE starts looking forward to summer. (well….this side of the hemisphere anyway…) This novel is like summer in writing. Whether it’s sand between your toes, the chew of saltwater taffy, the smell of chlorine, the sting/itch of sunburns or scorching backyard barbeques, EVERYONE can identify with the essence of summer in some way.

Tristan’s summer just happen to be more extreme. Savage Deep takes us through more of his horrors, as he tries to keep his ties to the land, and to prove himself in the sea. Believe it or not, he hasn’t run in to all of the baddies in the sea. Yet.

I feel bad for him! And of course, despite the fact that he’s in the running to rule an entire race, he’s still a teenage boy! A teenage boy that makes a few stupid teenage boy decisions. Let me tell you people, I was left grinning at the end, it had a marvelously unsatisfying ending (I mean that, in the frustrated way only readers understand.) And it had a few twists I didn’t sea coming (Yes, I misspelled that one, for the sole purpose of punny entertainmet.) Oh my gosh, I did it again… I wrote ‘sole’ and that could mean that I was saying it with the definition ‘bottom of foot.’..get it? Because… merpeople ....*coughs*…yeah. And now, I think I’ll go hide in a dark corner and fall in to a feverish sleep. I’ve obviously lost my mind. Bottom line – It was a great installment, in the already fantastic scaled summer-ish series.

Soujon's Journey by Marlee Morgan

Set in the mystical village of Sky Mountain and the city of Cyane, SOUJON'S JOURNEY is the tale of a young girl growing up and discovering life. Finding her gifts and the inner strength that allows her to stand up to adversity and overcome obstacles in her life.
In the mystical city there are four basic laws--(1) if harm it does none, do as you will, (2) be kind in spirit, (3) be in harmony with your surroundings, (4) be clean in body, mind and spirit.
Soujon embraces the new world around her and finds joy in life beyond her wildest dreams. This is a magical growing up, coming of age tale that will grab the reader from the very beginning.
 At first, I was wary, but then I realized exactly what I was reading. I was looking at it from entirely the wrong perspective. It’s listed as a fantasy/fairy tale so I read it from a fantasy angle. Then I noticed something different. How do I explain it? Around page 70 or so, I came to the realization that while this was a fairy tale, it is a specific kind. Here is how I noticed it:

Occasionally I would run across a passage that seemed out of place (at first.) The passages in question would shift almost to first person, without marking so. Then tell you in an almost narrative style about something in the particular characters past. I couldn't figure it out! At first I thought it might be a simple error, but around the third time it happened I realized this was no editorial error. These passages were clearly put there on purpose and for a specific reason. We were driving down the road and I was discussing the book with my mom (she’s a very good listener) when somehow the topic drifted to Disneyland and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Then, it struck me. The book was written in a classic fairy tale fashion, just without old English words such as thy (etc..) In other words: A classic with out muddled meanings. Classic lovers, enjoy. Once I had pinned the style down, I enjoyed reading it!  I did feel as though the synopsis didn't do it justice. I couldn't find a better way to word it though.

Sidekick: The Misadventure's of the New Scarlet Knight

Bobby Baines is in high school, which is bad enough. When his hero, Scarlet Knight, dies, Bobby is forced to take up his mantel. Only Scarlet Knight never had to deal with eking out a passing grade in math, keeping his fellow sidekicks in check, or stopping a giant squid from bearing down on his school and crushing everyone inside. After all, Bobby Baines is no super hero, he’s a Sidekick!

I adore this novel! I love superheroes, and everything that it entails, so I was a little worried when I picked this up for the Month9Publications blog tour. I was worried that it wouldn’t stand up to my expectations, or that it would just let me down.

Pab, you’re awesome. I don’t know what caught me first, but I loved the humor, and I’ll admit it, I was pretty much sold after the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers reference. One thing that I liked about the book, was that it didn’t push the stereotypes away, but it didn’t exactly follow them either.
It’s kind of like how cartoons perpetually make Vikings wear horned hats, when they really didn’t do that it history.

He offered enough familiarity for newcomers to super-stuff, but diverged enough for people looking for something new. The ending was surprising (a nice bit of foreshadowing in the beginning!) and one of my favorite parts was when Bobby had a complete emotional breakdown. (That sounds totally sadistic, but let me explain!)

It was human. It wasn’t over-emotional like a lot of YA novels try to make boys…Bobby went through a lot, worked through it, and finally it just reached the breaking point of his self-control. He sought comfort in his fellow sidekick Sarah and last but not least, this book had a really satisfying ending. (Which I won’t tell you about. Because, who do you think I am anyway?)

The bottom line, is that I'm really excited about Pab coming on to the scene of YA. We have the same kind of mentality when it comes to societal expectations (I reject your reality and substitute my own. ;) I'll definitely be watching out for Pab in the future!

Secrets (The Hero Chronicles #1) by Tim Mettey

The Midwest lies in complete ruins after a catastrophic disaster kills tens of thousands and leaves hundreds of thousands injured. Nicholas Keller emerges out of the devastation as a shining light of hope for all. But his newfound fame comes with a price that his aunt will not let him pay. They flee into the shadows in order to protect his secret. However, as Nicholas begins his sophomore year at his fifth school in five years, strange and unexpected things begin to happen. He soon tumbles into a web of doomed love, extraordinary talents and a secret past, which threatens the lives of everyone he cares about. It’s up to Nicholas to confront the truth, even if it means his own death.

When I was first approached about the book, it sounded good, but I didn’t think it would be sensational. While I can’t put it on a pedestal with my utmost favorites, I did REALLY enjoy the book. I loved the style of writing.

When he introduced Nicholas, it was really intriguing. You know something happened, but you don’t know what. And every so often, Tim would dangle another reminder about this unknown thing infringing on Nicholas’s life. The true art in that, is that he made it curious, without annoying the heck out of me (Another book comes to mind, when the author attempted to do this, and just ended up aggravating me to boredom.) I really liked Elle in the story, and I felt like I could relate to her (yeah, I like to eat croutons, I wear glasses and I couldn’t give a hoot about fashion, makeup, or popularity.) I was shocked to read a few negative reviews on this book!

They brought up ‘Cheesy Romance’ and ‘Middle Grade’ appeal. Yeah, I’d hand it to a middle grader if I felt they could handle it. But I’m in college and I loved the heck out of his love for Elle. Part of what frustrates me about the modern industry, is that the consumers (teenagers) don’t understand love OR romance. Sure, a lot of relationships have sexual, more physical components. But romance, and sexuality AREN’T mutually exclusive. You don’t have to tear someone’s clothes off to prove love – EVEN in a fictitious relationship. The amount of love you have for someone, or the amount of love you perceive to have received from someone else, shouldn’t have to be measured by kisses and touches.

Take the lovely cover for example. After reading the book, I look at that cover and the word that comes to mind, is intimate. It speaks of an unrestrained love. A love that would willingly die, not just for one you love, but for anyone.
To me, sacrifice is the ultimate love.

I need to wrap this dissertation up!

This is the first review I have Facebook commenting on, so I’ll probably get a few “You don’t know what it’s like.” Comments. I’m okay with that.

I won’t respond to those individual comments, but this is generically what I would say: I reject your reality and substitute my own.

BOTTOM LINE: I adore this book, and would absolutely recommend it to everyone.  This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review

Circle of Lies (Red Ridge Pack #2) by Sara Dailey

  Aiden Wright is trying to figure out who he really is, but the truth could cost him his true mate—or his life.
Life has always been easy for Aiden Wright. He’s smart, athletic, funny, and the ladies adore him. But when tragedy strikes, Aiden discovers the truth about who he really is and his whole world comes crashing down around him. Aiden thought that being a teenage werewolf was going to be awesome, but it might just cost him the one girl who could make him whole.
Since her mother’s disappearance, Teagan Rhodes’s life has been littered with her father’s empty beer cans and his hollow promises to change. Convinced that others would only let her down, she keeps everyone at arm’s length—but resisting Aiden’s charm is proving to be more difficult than she thought. Throw in a psychotic werewolf hunter out to terminate the species and one wrong move, one wrong decision could destroy everything.

I’m a hard sell when it comes to shifter novels. There’s a very, very fine line that authors have to cross in order to properly execute a plot with the ‘true mate’ trait.
These two authors did it pretty fine! To those new to shifter novels, I’ll just start off by saying that ‘true mate’ usually means that the two people’s souls become so….connected to each other that they physically can’t be parted (novels vary, but in this particular case, if separated, it manifests illness;) even if the two (or one of the) true mates doesn’t wish to be in the relationship.

Sometimes they can seem quite forced, and in some it seems like the reluctant party just caves in, instead of falling in love voluntarily. The book tour I’m participating in is for Book #2, but I would ABSOLUTELY recommend reading book #1 first.
Pack of Lies was good, I really liked the relationship between the two characters, but after I read Circle of Lies, I decided that it was my favorite. The ‘True Mate’ concept seemed to be better carried in Pack of Lies (book #1) but I realated with Teagan so much! We look very similar; have similar favorite foods, and even somewhate similar personalities.  Aiden was a real sweetheart too; he was very consistent throughout the novel. I love that the authors didn’t bring in the classic formula for YA romance, where both parties have their doubts. Aiden knew what he wanted, and he made it clear that he was there for Teagan to lean on in rough times.

I’ll admit, the one thing that really sold me on this series, was that I felt like it was such a strong study case in personality types. Even outside the pack usual (alpha, etcetera) it almost had an underlying psychology theme that I really enjoyed.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a paranormal romance, or looking for something with the non-average soul mate twist.  This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review: it's a part of IO Book Tours Circle of Lies book tour.

Pillage by Obert Skye

Upon his mother's death, fifteen-year-old Beck Phillips is sent to live with an eccentric uncle he had never met in a remote manor house, where he learns that his family suffers from a curse that allows him to make plants grow on command and dragon eggs hatch.

Ok, I will admit it. At first, I was just attracted to the cool looking, fire breathing dragon on the front cover. Yeah, that was a pretty superficial move for a person whose motto is ‘never judge a book by its cover.’ But hey! The cover was just doing its job: getting my attention.

When I first started reading Pillage I thought it was going to be another one of those ‘so-so’ books, you know, the ones that were ok, but just not Spectacular? Well, when I finished the book, I was dying for the second one. It is very difficult to write about the ending without giving it away, so I suppose here’s one way to put it; ‘Boringsville’ turns into……..well, ‘Notboringsville’. I cannot wait to read and review Choke ( the sequel) It should be fun, uncovering the new adventure and watching the bonds between Beck, Aeron, Kate and Wyatt grow. Total kudos to Obert Skye! He made Beck’s world ordinary, then, like an explosion, just peeled the shells off of everything, to reveal mind-blowing characters and a shocking plot.


Progeny (The Children of the White Lions #1) by R.T. Kaelin

Nikalys and his sister Kenders grew up living a peaceful life in the quiet farming village of Yellow Mud…until one blistering hot summer day when they went to the nearby lake for a swim. When they reached the lake, they saw and unknown mage conjure a massive water creature hundreds of feet tall. They watched in horror as the monstrous creation plunged toward their home, apparently drowning all in its path, including their parents and older brother, Jak. As the only survivors, brother and sister strike out on their own, hoping to discover the reason their home and family was destroyed. They must make their way through a countryside where magic is outlawed, punishable by imprisonment or even death, while struggling with the revelation that Kenders has magical abilities herself. Ancient, powerful forces seek them on their travels- some intending to eliminate the threat they pose, and some hoping to help them fulfill a destiny of which they are unaware. Myths and Legends come to life, whisking the pair along a journey they never could have imagined possible.

This book was the hardest book I have ever read. Not in the good way either. You may have read my review for ‘Allon’ by Shawn Lamb, I mentioned that it had a unique style that would be most appreciated by experienced readers. This is totally different. To be blunt, this was a major waste of my time. Tons of reviewers have given it good reviews (haven’t seen one below five stars yet.) I don’t see where they get ‘almost as good as the Chronicles of Narnia.’ I suppose it’s all up to opinion. The syntax was muddled, and the content was constantly redundant. I would sometimes have to re-read ENTIRE paragraphs to understand what was going on. Or, one of my favorite mishaps was learning that after four pages that the view had switched to a completely new character in a completely different place. I almost felt physically exhausted after reading it. I would stop after about twenty pages and do something else (within the course of one hundred pages, I read four other books), it was sucking the energy right out of me. I really do not like being a negative person, but I couldn’t find anything positive.I would definitely not recommend this book.


Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...
Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

First, may I say, aren't those covers beautiful? I've always had a thing for underwater covers (like “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer) I was originally going to read this book when my pool construction was finished. (so I could just feel like I was taking an awesome vacation.)
I couldn’t wait that long. I ended up sitting on the couch, and devouring this novel, and it’s sequel immediately. It was fantastic. I could feel the struggle of Galen. What he should do, and why he didn’t want to do it, but knew he had to.

And then, the glorious moment when…well, ok, I won’t spoil it.

Nonetheless, I love Galen and his old world nature. I love his perseverance. I love Emma and her propensity to get in to trouble. I like her spitfire nature, and her compassion towards living things (I’d say animals, but that doesn't really fit.)

I like a lot of the relationships presented in this novel, mainly because they have presented different kinds of love, and how each of them can be just as powerful as the other. If you are looking for a good summer read (that you don't have to fight to enjoy) this is the novel for you. I seriously enjoyed its rolling action (without the taxation of some of the more serious themed summer novels.) Such a sweet romantic story! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment!

Masters & Slayers (Tales of Starlight #1) by Bryan Davis

Adrian Masters was taught by his father to always respect women and never raise his sword against them. Marcelle fights with a sword better than most men and she fights with vengeance. The fighting matches are good, and yes, entertaining, especially when she can embarrass her old friend Adrian about his father's way of thinking. Chivalry is dead and she didn't care if it was. If chivalry existed her mother would still be alive.
Adrian  would be the best swordsman if it weren'’t for Marcelle (..er..swordmaiden). True to his honor and upbringing, he always forfeits against her. It never bothered him too much though. These matches were just practice. What he really wanted to do was go out and find the missing. People had been going missing for years, disappearing without a trace. There was one theory: That they had been enslaved on another world called starlight. Starlight is rumored to be the most dangerous place in any realm, it’'s ruled by ruthless dragons who will do anything to reap profits. Adrian'’s dream comes true when he is allowed to go to starlight, the only problem is his partner, Marcelle. While they both have amazing skills with a sword, Adrian would prefer a stealthy, strategic approach, while hot-headed, impulsive Marcelle would rather just go on the attack. Adrian must get to Starlight, keep the two of them out of danger,  and save the slaves. With his fierce devotion, Adrian will do anything to get Marcelle and the children off Starlight. Even if he dies trying.

I love this book. First of all, I just love Bryan Davis. All his books are fantastic for a lot of reasons. I could blab on and on about them but one of the biggest factors is that his plots are complex and interesting. You have to own a brain to truly get the real message. His books always whisper to me ‘can you handle it?’ I love the challenge and I love his bighearted heroes. Not to mention, I love pretty much any book with a sword in it (one of my more shallow reasons.) It’s not for the weak reader, but I enjoy them immensely. I definitely recommend this book.

Iron Knight (The Iron Fey #4)

My name - my True Name - is Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase - a half human, half fey slip of a girl - smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end - a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan's side.
To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

At first the series seemed kind of average. I didn't hate it, but I didn't immediately fall in love. The sequel to Iron King, Iron Daughter, I liked better.  Then Iron Queen I liked the same. The real icing on the cake was Iron Knight. The tale of a prince who wants to give up his immortality for his love, and in return, gain a soul. Iron Knight blew my mind, not only did it have the most BEAUTIFUL flow of English I have ever seen, it had excellent story qualities. It was a true fairy tale. The character had to overcome his weakness and even overcome his own strengths, all in pursuit of love. I salute Julie Kagawa. I just can't get over how graceful that was, it was amazing. Not to mention, she created one of the most humorous character I've seen all year (Puck, yes, the Shakespeare one, re-invented.)  .

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a modern novel, with all the hallmarks of a time tested classic.

Insight (Insight #1) by Jamie Magee

Before that fateful summer night, Willow had balanced the insight of emotion, and the vivid images. That night, the figure in her nightmare marked her wrist with a star, giving her father no choice but to tell Willow a family secret that would abruptly change life, as she knew it, forever. Before Willow had time to absorb the shock of her father's secret, her soul mate that had shared every stunning dream with her, found her, and darkness captured her closest friends. In order to save them, she must weave through broken myths and the undeniable power of the Zodiac. In the end, Willow discovers that at the moment of our birth we are all given a divine gift 

I love this book; I have never read anything like it. Chara is such a well put together world. It flowed seamlessly. Every nook and cranny was thought about and developed to extent. The culture, the people, the environment, the physics (in other words, everything made sense, it wasn’t floppy) even their select supernatural abilities fell into place perfectly. There is romance, but nothing graphic. I had to be really hard on this book to find a negative. You ready to hear what I found? One cuss word, two misplaced commas and an improper verb. That’s all I got. I would definitely recommend this book. It is one of the few books that I regularly re-read.

Incarnate (Newsoul #1) by Jodi Meadows

Anna is unwanted, ignored,  and considered a bad omen. Just because she hasn’t had a past life. Or, if she had one, she couldn’t remember it.  Kept away from society her whole life, she leaves for the city of Heart. In Heart, she hopes to discover the meaning of her existence, and if she’ll be reincarnated or forgotten forever.
Sam is the only one who thinks good of Anna, he thinks she has value and better yet, she loves music as much as he does. When dragons and sylphs attack and Anna is blamed, Sam hopes to show her a new life, one that won’t be forgotten.

This was probably the most unique book I’ve read this year. It took forever for action to occur (action wasn't it's goal in the first place), but meanwhile some very interesting philisophical questions were posed. All of you know, I’m a critic, I’ll fry the book under my magnifying glass until all is revealed. But man, this thing is fireproof. While it wasn’t my favorite book of the year, I’m really intrigued as to the stories next move.

Instead of the reader coming up with the questions, and the author answering them, it’s more like the author is asking you the questions, and letting you come up with the answers. Will we get the author’s answers? I don’t know, I’ll have to find out. Incarnate broke out of the trends with a different style and a different plot. Good. I was getting tired of reading the same thing over and over again.. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for something unique.

Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky

Before she was Maid Marian, she was Matty....
Matty has been raised to dance well, embroider exquisitely, and marry nobly. But when Matty's mother is murdered before her very eyes and her father, a nobleman, is reduced to poverty, Matty's life changes.
As the daughter of Nottingham's most famous falconer, she finds a new destiny in the hawks her father keeps. She begins to understand their thoughts and even speak their language. The beautiful merlin Marigold becomes Matty's closest winged companion and her fiercest ally.
It is a treacherous time in England. The sheriff of Nottingham is rising to power, and a true king has been kidnapped. Determined to fight, Matty's friend Fynn becomes Robin Hood. As Maid Marian, Matty joins Fynn and his Merry Men, famously robbing from the rich to give to the poor.
Well, I am not going to lie to you; this is my least favorite Robin Hood tale. ‘Hawksmaid’ lacked grace, it seemed choppy and misfit. In one chapter Matty would be eight and the next she would be twelve then fourteen. In some chapters she would be called Matty, then Matilda, then Maid Marion: the changes were numerous and almost too much to handle. ‘Hawksmaid’ is supposedly the untold tale of Robin Hood and Maid Marion, but Robin Hood was not even the main focus of the book. It was mainly about Matty and her relationship with her father’s hawks. Matty had a special bond with the birds; she could directly communicate with them. Which would be fine, except the birds talk in quotes, as a result it took me an entire chapter to realize that Ulysses was a bird and not a person. Then at the end, there is a strange chapter were Matty ‘becomes’ the bird. I suppose the best word to use is ‘possess’. She possessed the bird. The book really rendered me speechless and for quite a while I didn’t know what to say about it. All in all, I think the book was just misguided. It would be more accurate to say the story was about Maid Marion and how she learned the art of hawking or about her special bond with hawks. Robin Hood isn’t totally irrelevant though. He is in the background doing things and occasionally he surfaces by including Matty in his schemes.

I would like to commend Kathryn Lasky on her excessive knowledge of birds. I believe she was just trying to convey her love of birds through her writings and show how smart birds can be. However, if you are looking for a Robin Hood story, this is not the book you should pick up.

Griffin's Castle by Jenny Nimmo

Lonely and friendless from constantly moving, Dinah finds herself wishing the animal statues protecting a nearby Welsh castle would keep her company. Suddenly, to Dinah's delight, the stone animals start to magically spring from the walls and follow her home. But when the animals refuse to let Dinah leave her house, she quickly realizes that these mysterious creatures aren't rescuing her, they're imprisoning her. 

I found Griffin’s Castle (by Jenny Nimmo) disappointing. The main character Dinah was just frustrating to read about. I kept waiting for the sentence that would grab my attention. It never came. Chapter after monotonous chapter, all the words were just Dinah’s depressing thoughts. The story lacked structure. The plot was obscure and thin as tissue paper. Dinah exhibits extreme introversion, at first I thought that Berry and Jacob would bring her out of her shell by befriending her. I was wrong; she took their attempts at friendship as a nuisance. At the moment Dinah lived at Griffin’s Castle (which is actually just a large house). She longed to save the dilapidated house, I was severely disappointed when she dropped the dream and walked away from it with ease. Her mother thinks that Dinah just gets in the way of happiness; her stepfather lashes out with physical violence in the bat of an eye, and none of them learned their wrongs. Dinah just ends up moving to a relative’s house. It had so many (too many) loose ends. It was like you had fifty puzzle pieces to put together and there was a flaw, all the pieces were from different puzzles. Yet all those pieces were crammed in a box for you to ‘solve’. In my opinion it was just incomplete.

The book just ended that way. No lesson learned, no enemy overcome, no wrongs are righted, and no friends are gained. The story had potential (a lot of it!) I had high hopes; but one by one they were dashed. It was like an airplane that revved its engines and raced down the tar mac, but it just did not have the strength to fly. The only reason for reading this book is if you are running a review website and want to warn readers. Griffin’s Castle was totally pointless.

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine

Just when you thought it was safe....the 25 top-selling titles in the series that revolutionized horror for kids are back w/ a fresh new look. The updated design will make you scream. The original artwork will give you nightmares. And the classic bone-chilling stories from the master of horror will just kill you. This spine-tingling series sparked a licensing phenomenon & made R.L. the #1 author in the U.S.--and it's STILL the "must have" collection for true horror fans. Now a whole new generation will discover the thrill of reading ...and they'll never be the same again.

When I saw it in the bookstore, I couldn’'t resist. These are classics for this time of year. Ironically, the most traumatic (that’s right, TRAUmatic, not DRAmatic) teacher of my middleschool introduced my class to these books. It was either read one of those books, or do '‘fun'’ math with our free time. What kind of joke is that? Homework, for fun? Entering her class was like a psychological war-zone. In retrospect, it was a total plot (of evil) to get us to read, or do math practice. We were so scared of the books (…a book on her shelf? There is no way it could be a good one!) Not a lot of us touched those shelves….we'’d rather suffer math. It stayed that way until the series was banned from the school (I heard this secondhand, they were banned a year after I left) for some reason while standing in the bookstore, I had a little flashback. You know, one of those really bad days in school, and remember about 30 or so spines staring down as I left the classroom with my class bucket and backpack full of books. All of them were Goosebumps. Now, seven years later, I couldn'’t resist. I hated books back then and now I love them. I was intrigued to say the least. They are just classics. Nothing bad to say about them! I hear he has a teen series now…, I'’ll definitely be looking into those! I think it would creep out the 4th grade to 6th grade the most… although I’'m not entirely sure, depends on the maturity etc. I recommend the series.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gypsy Knights by Two Brothers Metz

"Fourteen-year-old Durriken Brishen has lost his parents, his grandfather, and though he doesn't know it, his Gypsy culture's dangerous gift.

       Taken in and raised on the rails by the first woman to pilot a freight train, Durriken  
          has one remaining connection to his Romani roots: a small wooden box that hangs      
        from the hammer loop of his overalls.The last gift he received from his grandfather,
  the box contains the world's first chess set. But a piece is missing: the Red Queen.
       According to Durriken’s family lore, the complete set awakens the power of Tărie, a mercurial gift that confers unique abilities on each new Master.

When a suspicious fire erupts in the Chicago rail yard, Durriken's escape produces an uneasy alliance, though not without its silver lining. Dilia is a few inches taller, several degrees cleverer, and oh yes – very pretty. While Durriken is uneasy allying with a girl whose parents were convicted of sedition, there's no doubt she is a powerful partner. And while it's not immediately clear to either, her own Guatemalan culture and family history are deeply entwined with the ancient Romani mystery.

Jumping box cars, escaping riverboats, deciphering clues, crossing swords with the brilliant madman Radu Pinch – with great American cities as its backdrop – Gypsy Knights is the page-turning saga of Durriken Brishen and his quest to rediscover his past."One word: Awesome. It’s like an Indiana Jones adventure right here in America. I love how chess and Durriken’s culture is woven seamlessly into the story, it just makes all the strategies so much more interesting. It does take a little bit for the action to start. It’s not ‘slow’ per say, it just starts handing you puzzle pieces, and you just have to wait for that moment that they all start clicking together. Negative: cussing. A few might also find it a turn off because it does incorporate Spanish (or at least that’s what I think it is…I suppose on the off chance it could be Italian because the languages are similar.)  Living where I do, the bilingual moments didn't faze me. The sequel may just put this series on the shelf of fame.

Farsighted (Farsighted #1) by Emlyn Chand

Alex Kosmitoras's life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and... oh yeah, he's blind.
Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophomore year might not be so bad after all.
Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to "see" the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger.
With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future.

Farsighted is an awesome book. It was new and exciting, it almost made the shelf of fame. The sequel (s) will decide if it goes on the shelf or not (I'’ll have to think on it, It’'s a tuff decision.)  It was just a fantastic fantasy. One of my favorite things about this series is the dimension. If you want it to be a fun fantasy, it is. If you want it to be deeper, it is. Here is the deeper part:

I'd say the core of Farsighted is Truth, not only truth but the way that lies influence the truth. That truth is better incorporated if you knew something worse first. It offers a nice insight into emotions, which is the secondary theme of the series. (Along with strength, or what the world perceives to be strength.) In a twisted sort of way, the worse things that happen to us are the best. They make us more determined for the good things and make us who we are and make us better people. Alex is perfect for the symbolism for trials and tribulations. Being blind, he's 10X more likely to listen and has 10X the choice to NOT hear it. Those moments of complete disorientation are the physical manifestation of our emotional incapabilities (ours by choice). He's the epitome of human abilities. Because, in reality, we all have our own blindness. It shouldn't be our 'disability' of our lives per say, rather our 'ablility.' Anyway, I love this book, it’s definitely a re-reader, and one of my favorites this year. Only one negative, cussing. But I think the story is definitely worth it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elfin (The Elfin #1) by Quinn Loftis

Before tonight Cassie Tate’s biggest concerns were whether she could pass Algebra and how she was going to keep Elora, her best friend, from dressing her in a skimpy fairy costume for Halloween. Her feet were firmly planted in suburban reality and she had no reason to believe her life would be anything but that of a typical teenager. That is until tonight, when Cassie saw something that no human was ever supposed to see; in the blink of an eye she was thrown into the world of the Light and Dark Elves.
He comes from a realm where light and dark have fought for millennia. He is of a race known to humans only in myths and legends. The darkness that lives inside him is a part of both who and what he is and it makes him the most gifted spy and assassin in the history of his time. His life is not his own; he lives in the service of the Dark Elf King. He slays who he must, has mercy on no one, is relentless in his hunt, and never tires of seeing his prey fall. He is Triktapic, assassin, spy, most feared of the Dark Elves.
Now, in the midst of his King’s complicated plans to expand the Dark Elves’ holdings into the mortal realm, for the first time, Trik finds his loyalties divided. For no Elf, Dark or Light, can turn away from their Chosen.
Unbeknownst to the mortal realm, the battle between Light and Dark is being brought to their doorstep. The only one who can keep it at bay holds darkness in his heart like a lover, and the one who can sway that heart must decide if she can look beyond his black past, beyond his evil nature and see the man he is destined to be.
The question must be asked, does love really cover a multitude of sins? Can true love actually conquer all or will his darkness consume those around him until all that stands is an assassin with the blood of the mortal realm on his hands?

This book was just ok. I enjoyed the biblical analogies, and I really do love books with elves; But, there were a few things in this novel that kept me from really digging in to the novel. The love between Trik and Cassie really didn’t sink in for me, it was annoying at times. It was fast, and reasonless for the most part. It was one of those ‘instant’ romances. (and you know how I don’t get along with those.)

I did really enjoy those analogies though. I can’t really say yay or nay to this book. It seemed like it needed a better content editor, or beta reader. The last few chapters of the book may have redeemed themselves. I love Cassie’s best friend Elora! She has a riot of a personality, and I personally can’t wait to hear her story. The book seesawed between my favorite things, and my least favorite things.

Overall, I think I’ll say it was a good book! I’m just really not the instant romance type. Nontheless, I think Quinn’s writing will improve, and her rough plot lines may smooth out as a result. Especially since she established her new world in Elfin. I look forward to the sequel.
This book was provided to me by the author through Reading Away the Days book tours, in exchange for an honest review.

13 Treasures (13 Treasures #1) by Ethan Dempsey

High school senior Evan Snowden loves his eccentric grandfather more than anything. Grandpa Kent is an adventurer, a man who seeks to answer history's greatest mysteries. To Evan his a man of wonderful stories. And it's these stories that have enthralled and captivated Evan for years. 
But a vicious attack on his grandfather plunges Evan and his best friend, Charlie, into a world of intrigue, danger, and discovery. A world that Evan has only known in the words of his grandfather's stories.

It was amazing! I loved it, it was fun, sort of short, but full of action and adventure. At one point, it almost made me cry. A little cussing, but well worth the fun adventure. Kind of reminded me of a teenage National Treasure… that could be just me though, I love movies.. anyway, it was really good! I recommend it, especially if your looking for a quick, but fantastic read. I loved Evan’s thoughts, not many novels are from a guys perspective and if they are, they don’t usually have their thoughts. I loved that it proves that boys have emotions (a lot of novels really ignore that side of them.) I definitely recommend this series. Ethan has lowered the kindle price just for you guys! It won’t last forever though, so I suggest you get it soon!

Defy (Firstborn Trilogy #1) by Raine Thomas

Seventeen-year-old Tate is about to make her parents’ dreams come true. Unfortunately for her, their dreams foretell her death.
Eager to explore more of the Estilorian plane and prove her abilities, Tate goes against her parents’ wishes and leaves the area of protection surrounding her home. Her choice puts her on a deadly path…one that leaves her alone, severely injured and battling for her life.
Her possible savior arrives in the form of Zachariah, a male who has removed himself from Estilorian society for more than fifty years. Fighting an unexpected connection to Tate, he must decide whether saving her life is worth destroying his.
As Tate struggles to find a way home, she ends up drawn into a dark Mercesti plot involving multiple murders and a powerful ancient artifact. With the unpredictable Zachariah as her only source for aid, she’ll soon find out if her abilities are strong enough to help her defy her Fate.

Wow! I was really impressed. While I’m an optimist, I really wasn’t expecting to love the book as much as I did. I’d just read a really fantastic book and sometimes it throws me off my funk and I have to wait a few days to read another book. That didn’t happen when I picked up Defy. Although, I do feel like if I had read the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy I would have understood things better. It was still vastly entertaining, with varying points of view and numerous things going on, It reminded me a little (style wise) of Beckoning Light by Alyssa Rose Ivy (a book series I also enjoy.) It takes wits to read this book. I recommend it for mature readers (there is some abuse and implications of rape-type things going on.) Otherwise, it was a perfectly entertaining read. I’m eager to see what happens next!

Dazzle (Delaney's Gift #1) by Amber Garza

Sixteen-year-old Delaney Scott possesses a special gift. Ever since she was a child she has known about her calling and the duty she’s expected to fulfill.
However, all Delaney wants is to be normal. That’s why she is drawn to Sam. He can offer her the life she’s always desired. Only Sam has secrets of his own.
Secrets that are deadly. Secrets that can change everything.
Wow! What a ride! This book made a powerful statement by breaking all the rules in the book. (I have a thing for rule-breaking authors….if they do it well.) First, It did a multiple perspective first person style. I’ve only found a few other authors who favor this point of view and writing style, and at that, most can’t pull it off. (INSERT AUTHOR NAME HERE) definitely pulled it off. Second, she took the physical stereotypes and threw them through the window. In fiction (let alone young adult) you very rarely see….well, you very rarely see the rare! Dreadlocks? Check. Tattoos? Check. Red hair? Check. Butt long hair? Check. That made the characters come alive, AUTHORS NAME made them different than your average Joe, and farther, her characters didn’t pretend they were average Joes. It was very refreshing. The third thing she did that isn’t seen as ‘done’ in the YA literature world; CLIFF HANGERS! Yeah, there was a peppering of them last year…but you just don’t see quality cliffhangers anymore. This one definitely caught me! The fourth thing she did (and the last thing I’ll point out) is that she presented a really interesting love triangle (er…zig zag.) and you genuinely can’t tell what’s going to happen. I know what I want to happen, but I can’t tell what to make of all these 100% human feels! Among other things she wove in an almost seamless analogy (I’m not tellin!) and did I mention Micah is my superhero? Because he is! I love male POV and I’m glad that’s starting to trend. He also expressed a very accurate friendship/loyalty/love emotional confusion. Bottom line, I ADORED this book, and I can’t wait to read book #2! I was seriously impressed.
I’m going to try to get an author interview! Stay tuned!
(This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review, this review is a part of the Reading Away the Days Blog tour.)

The Collector (Dante Walker #1) by Victoria Scott

He makes good girls...bad.
Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.
Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:
Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.
Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

I get giddy when I look at this book. I even made the rare decision to buy an actual copy for myself! This book had a CRUISE LINER’S worth of hype around it, and that something that I was nervous about. Until recently, I have avoided directly requesting such high profile books. But, something about the book really called out to me. (Not going to argue, it could have been the cover. I love when covers DON’T show the protagonist (erm…antagonists?) face.) I clicked the request button and waited nervously. SO many reviewers were requesting it! I got the email later that said I hadn’t been approved for the early round, but that my name had been added in a sort of luck-of-the-draw deal.

Later, one of the tour groups I’m a part of was given the book, so I thought “why not?” They approved 79 other bloggers, but I was not one of them. Yeah, I was mad at that point… but I calmed down and BOOM, three weeks later, the lovely publicist gave me an ecopy in the 8th round of blogger calls.

YAY! I was ultra-excited for two hours (complete with jumping around the house.) then I sat down and thought “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” I’ve gone to such lengths to get this novel….what if I hate it? Then I thought, what the heck am I doing? Why am I so worried, I’m never this way over novels!

So I sat down.

And surprised myself…because I LOVED IT! Ha! This book is so clearly written. I say it that way because it’s not over decorative in its descriptions, it’s witty, it’s sarcastic…and at other moments, deeply tender.

Victoria captures a pretty good window through the male mind (I can’t say for sure of course, I’m not a guy) but this book doesn’t try to gussy up guy thoughts. Moreover, the transition Dante goes through resonates. People rarely choose to change...and if they do, they have already changed on the inside. Dante is influenced by Charlie before he’s even aware of what he’s doing.

When he finally does notice, he takes a step back, juggles his options, and has to decide which side of the fence he wants to fall on. (and change the fate of the world in the process) through a surprising ending.  Further, there are subtle allegories with deeply moral backgrounds woven through a story of sin better than any other (technically secular) novel that I’ve ever seen (and does it ball parks better than any religious author.) I can’t recommend this book enough. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series. (and watching Victoria’s works to boot.)  Scroll down for commenting and click the red Chuck on the shelf to enter a GIVEAWAY!

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Warnings for this novel includes cursing, underage drinking, and a few sexual scenes.

The Claiming Words (The Claiming Words) by Tricia Drammeh

The Alexanders have always kept their secrets hidden…
When sixteen-year-old Jace Alexander moves to the small town of Oaktree, Georgia, he attracts the attention of every girl in school. Shy, introverted Alisa Cole immediately casts Jace in the leading role of her latest fantasy, but she assumes he’ll never return her interest. After she saves Jace from a Hunter, everything changes. Her accidental discovery of Jace’s secret propels her into a world of magic and danger. Alisa’s newfound courage is put to the test when Jace introduces her to his intimidating older brother, Bryce, and she decides she would rather battle a Hunter than endure another moment under Bryce’s intense scrutiny.
Jace and Bryce aren’t the only ones with secrets…
Rachel Stevens is the girl who has it all. She’s beautiful, popular, and in possession of an ancient power which endangers not only her, but those sent to protect her. Jace is drawn to Rachel—and he isn’t the only one. The Demon Re’Vel will do anything to claim her—even if it means waging a war with the entire Alexander family. As layers of secrets are peeled away, revealing the truth of her heritage and her family’s betrayal, Rachel struggles to resist an immortal suitor who stalks her in her dreams. With the Alexanders fighting to protect her, can Rachel escape the power of the Demon and his Claiming Words?
I’ll admit it, I was really nervous to read this book. About a month ago (for future readers, that would be February of 2013) I joined Reading Away the Days tours. I’m picky about the tours I participate in, but every single one I’ve decided to join at that tour group has been awesome. Every time I’m sent a book I think that it’s got to be the one that ends the good streak.
This week alone, I’ve read 5 mind blowing books in a row! How does that even happen?!? I don’t know.. but the point is, I really enjoyed this book. At first, I wasn’t sure about it because it seemed very sudden in it’s plotline take-off.

But you eventually learn that there’s a reasoning behind that sudden take-off and for the awkward beginnings. Another thing is, Tricia hit my Achilles heel. Turds turned to Treasures. I love love/hate relatioships.

I did see it coming, but I didn’t care that I knew what was happening. It tickled me pink. I loved how there were similarities between the brothers  Jace and Bryce, while at the same time, they handled the same situation with intense difference (towards grief and relationships in particular.)

I also really liked how there was a real rivalry between the girls at the beginning (the object being Jace.) You don’t usually see that represented in YA novels. It spoke the truth that sometimes girls know that they don’t need (insert person of interest) but that girls want said person anyway!
There are a lot of things I admire about this book, including the diversity of each ADversity.

I can’t wait to read the next installment ( I shook my fists at amazon. Thy foul mistress tricked me again. I totally thought the next installment had already been published. *sigh* Being a reader is like wanting to fight a fire breathing dragon with your bare hands…  and thinking you’ll win.  I can’t decide if I’m glad I caught this series while it was young, or sad that there isn't more for me to read!) I highly recommend this book. This book was given to me by Reading Away the Days, and Tricia Drammeh in exchange for an honest review.

Catharsis by Lada Ray

Before recorded history, before Humanity, since times immemorial, the Earth Keepers have been watching over our planet. Marked at birth and endowed with supreme powers, the nine chosen ones are the Earth’s record keepers and moderators, and when the time comes, the ultimate decision makers. This is the first of their chronicles.
The population of the red planet Catharsis, on the outskirts of the Andromeda Galaxy, is exceedingly beautiful. Women wear exquisite gowns and gorgeous hairdos, men look stately and dignified, and children are adorable angels. Even the old people are beautiful: nice grannies knitting scarves or baking delicious cakes and cheerful grandpas taking morning strolls to discuss the latest news at a nearby café.
But Catharsians harbor a terrible secret, which they are ashamed to admit even to themselves. The thing is, they have to share the planet with another race, which they call the Uglies, although the Uglies themselves prefer to be called Lemurians. Alas, no one on Catharsis cares what the Uglies prefer. Being ugly is considered a contagious disease, and because of that the Uglies are herded into a special reservation, called Camp Ugly, where they live out their drudgery behind an electric fence.
Yet the Uglies don’t seem to fret as they work in the fields, raise children and sing their beautiful songs about Mother of All, the Goddess Mu. And so, both races co-exist without much interaction—one in their large and beautiful homes, the other in their tiny huts behind the electric fence, until the ultimate disaster strikes.
Morf is a seventeen-year-old Ugly who finds himself in the middle of it all. He is thrust fatefully into the leadership position when no one else can fill its shoes.
Will the catastrophe bring to light everyone’s true beauty and true ugliness? Will planet Catharsis survive? What destiny lies in store for the Uglies?
We are about to find out… 

This is Book 1 of the Earth Keepers Chronicles, a new series of visionary/metaphysical fantasy shorts, written as prequel and companion to the upcoming YA fantasy thriller trilogy, The Earth Shifter.”
Catharsis! This book may be only 27 pages, but it wowed me! I’m usually not drawn to short stories at all, I just stay so disconnected. The book gave off a pleasant sense of whimsy, at the same time, it underlined crucial lessons about understanding/bullying/stereotypes/societal norms. I just all-around adored it! It was just so different from everything else I’ve ever read. I loved the background stories, the lessons it expressed.  Several of them closely mirrored my favorite Bible stories. It didn’t leave me empty like other short stories, it filled me up completely. I absolutely recommend this book to people looking for a satisfying read.

A Beautiful Dark (A Beautiful Dark #1) by Jocelyn Davies

On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.
In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.
This poor book. I don’t know what happened to it. Let me lay out the book for you:

Fend off wannabe boyfriend #1
Something weird happens
Get irritated at boy #2 and #3
Kiss boy #2
Something weird happens
Kiss boy #3
Get irritated at boy #2 and boy #3
Rinse, repeat…

It had a good…how do I say it…? Frame work. It had good framework. But it lost it after that. The book fails to mention why she has to choose between the two boys, when she has to choose (…before some catastrophic event or such.) and fails to mention why it would have anything to do with the overall picture of things. Also: In the book, Devin is a ‘good angel’ so to speak. The reason he seems safe and secure is because the good angels are incapable of ‘bad’ feelings (jealousy, hatred etc.) but Devin’s ‘girlfriend’ back home, oozes hatred and jealousy toward Skye. It just didn’t make sense. Nothing Jocelyn said stuck. It contradicted itself and went on and on and on. Do yourself a favor. Wait two days and get Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen. Same sort of concept, but a world of difference in every other fashion.

A Fractured Light (A Beautiful Dark #2) by Jocelyn Davies

When she wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings, Skye knows something terrible has happened to her. It's not until she hears Asher, the dark, rebellious angel she fell in love with, that the memories come flooding back. She tries to put the past behind her, but she knows she'll be forever haunted by the ruthless betrayal that almost took her life.
Skye returns home, but with the knowledge of who she really is, nothing can ever be the same. As she tests the limits of her newfound powers, Skye discovers that she's capable of far more than anyone could have imagined. Both the Order and the Rebellion want her for their side as war between the factions looms. She can't forget the terrifying truth she now knows about the Order, but something holds her back from embracing the Rebellion.

You know, I didn’t like the first, but I knew it had potential, and I was curious to see if it harnessed some of it. It didn’t. Nothing really happened in the novel….I mean…it just sort of trudged on through the snow and just sort of..existed. it never really gave into what is was getting at. The end was a little different. And of course Skye really irritates me…she has like… three guys trailing around her, and she never does anything about them. She just goes from one to the other to the other. I suppose what I should say is that the series just lacks development and logic. I don’t feel attachment to any of the characters, and that just sucks the fun out of it all. 

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I really didn’t like this book. I don’t really have much to say about the composition itself… I felt like it had true potential when I received it (BEA 2012!) but the more I read, the more it let me down. It lacked a certain…direction. I mean, they each had a goal, but it just seemed like it was filling this hole. Like it was a little lost and so it just decided to say ‘How about this general direction?’

I was willing to give it a chance but what really ticked me off was smack in the middle of the action, Raffe just decides to blurt out ‘Oh, no, I’m agnostic.’

Listen, I know agnostics aren’t atheists. Agnostics don’t confirm or deny God’s existence. I just couldn’t take it seriously after that. He’s a freaking angel who’s not sure of God’s existence. Seriously? I don’t mind when the angels are Fallen, or something similar…but an angel that’s just not sure?!  I finished the book quickly after that. There are loads of other Angel/Fallen Angel stories out there, just don’t get this one…its just sort of…lukewarm.  I have other issues with some of the…..implied things about God/angels/human kind. But It’s far too detailed to go through here. Perhaps on my blog page I roll out my arsenal.  ;)


Allon by Shawn Lamb

The land of Allon was a paradise until the fall of the Guardians paved the way for the rise of the Dark Way. Evil King Marcellus now controls the land as his forefathers did, with an iron fist and the help of the evil spirit, Dagar. But an ancient prophecy speaks of a time to come when the Guardians will return and Allon will be restored—lead by its rightful heir. All the while, the exiled teenage Promised Prince, Ellis, must prove himself worthy to be king through a series of supernatural trials that test his character, wisdom, courage, and his heart. The first in the Allon series, this magical tale of adventure, destiny, and faith will test the reader’s strength and awaken their spirit of adventure

This book presents a very unique challenge, it has a European influence. In no way is this an absolute negative, it is just something to think about personally. American influence is often in my mind referred to as ‘the easy format’ because American writers often shift the focus away from the actual background of the character to the plot or action (or what’s just happening at that moment.) An American mind might have the opinion that European influence has a shift on the characters,that’s false. European influence (these are not professional terms or accounts, just something that I have recognized in reading) doesn’t have a shift at all. It concentrates heavily on both the plot and the characters. Sometimes, we may think that it is excess complication. That is also false. Were the problem really is, is in the brain. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but if I were to guess, I would say it is the culture and society (or lack thereof), we simply concentrate on the situation too much and not the people themselves. Now, you may already know: Shawn Lamb is American! I find this to be really intriguing. I did notice in the book, that it is not constantly in ‘European mode.’ Often, the chapters with the most dialogue, are more to the American style. Which means: you can really use this book to adjust to the European style, before you go on to books entirely written in that way (such as ‘The Princess Plot’ by Kirsten Boie.)

Bottom line: This may not be for beginning readers, but there really is no negative to this book. Plus, I like to challenge my stubborn American mind to read a different style. Don’t get frustrated, try it again if you don’t get it, brains are stubborn objects. One huge positive: NO CUSSING!
Food for thought: Maybe this is the reason why a lot of Americans find things like Shakespeare difficult to read. What do you think? Need more encouragement?