Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











13138635From Goodreads: It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.
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I really enjoyed this novel in the beginning.  It caught my attention right away and drew me in—the spacecraft, the elegance, the social rift between Lilac and Tarver—I really enjoyed it all.  However, as the novel went on, I began to feel like their time on the planet was dragging on a bit too long for my liking.  It almost felt like Cast Away or The Life of Pi in that there were limited characters and little action as the story went on.  I tend to need constant interactions to stay focused, and there were definitely times that I felt this novel was lagging, but on the other hand, there were many times that it was fast-paced and interesting as well, especially when the phenomenon began to happen to Lilac.  I can’t go into much detail here without giving anything away, but know this: there is a creepy paranormal element that makes its way into this story, and it’s really unique and interesting.  I’m afraid it’s a little beyond my comprehension, as it were, because at the end there, I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening anymore, but even so, this curve in the story definitely took me by surprise and, when all’s said and done, I enjoyed it, even if I’m not 100% sure what exactly happened there at the end.

What I loved the most about the novel is that it’s a flashback.  We learn early on that Tarver is being questioned by higher ups about his time on the planet with Lilac, and as Tarver responds in clipped and sarcastic manners, we learn what he is attempting to hide from society, including his feelings for Lilac and exactly what happened on the planet.

The end leaves a little to be desired, which makes me wonder if there will be a sequel?  I didn’t feel like it resolved much, but in truth, it’s not a bad place to end their tale, either, so I guess we shall have to wait and see.  If you’re looking for something completely different with a side of creepiness, then I suggest you pick this one up.  Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

Disney Hyperion has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on December 10, 2013



18074584From Goodreads: Because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth . . .

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery’s family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn’t think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities.

After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened. When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy.

A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

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This story had a very interesting premise, mixing magic, Irish dance, an alternate universe, and a curse unlike any other in order to set the stage for the events that unfold within Awakening.  McKayla is a great female lead, with a kick-butt mentality and faithful heart, she wraps readers around her finger from the get go, making them fall in love with her almost immediately.  I really enjoyed her and, though experiencing many hardships, I loved that she kept her head up and stayed positive, which is extremely difficult in the face of adversity.  Her slow acceptance of magic also gave her a more realistic feel as she didn’t jump on board with her Aunt Avril right away, and she questioned information put before her without blind acceptance.  While I tend to really like blind acceptance in my fictional worlds, I also understand that it isn’t realistic, and so I believe Dorrity did a fantastic job bring McKayla to life.

The portion of the novel dedicated to dance, as it were, was a bit above me as I’m not a dancer and I have no ambition or care for anything dance related. But in truth, it is a very unique and interesting way to bring about the truth behind the mute janitor’s world, and I applaud Dorrity for presenting dance in this way, as I’d never have thought of it myself.

I think of all the characters, Aunt Avril and her eccentric ways, as well as the magical lizard, were my favorite.  They were just so different and added a different feel to the entire novel, which fantasy lovers will no doubt highly enjoy as they’re completely different from any characters I’ve read about in my books.

Celtic mythology is also something I know little about, and this is the first book I’ve read that actually touches on the topic, as far as I can remember.  It has actually really stirred my curiosity and now I’d love to do a little more research, and read more novels on the subject, as I feel it’s one not very many authors attempt.  Overall, this was a completely unique novel (with an AMAZING cover) and I highly suggest magical lovers scoop it up.  I am looking forward to more from Dorrity, though perhaps a little less dance on my end.  Three and a half stars.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 



12731861From Goodreads: 16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

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I really thought I was going to dislike this novel because, for a majority of it, I found the pacing to be slow, and Grace drove me absolutely insane. Grace cannot make a good decision to save her life, and I mean that quite literally. I yelled at her the entire book, and because I felt that not much was happening in terms of plot aside from treks through the trees, I was really thinking that this was going to be a two star review at the most. And this, dear readers, is why I always finish my books, because around 60% the novel really picked up; the mystery became extremely intriguing!  I suddenly couldn’t decide who was good and who wasn’t, and then my interest piqued to the point that I couldn’t put it down, instead reading far into the night.  In other words, read it.

I never did come around to liking Grace—I found her decisions to be stupid, childish, and mortifying all the way to the very end. While I understand she’s going through a lot, and that she’s highly independent, she constantly pushes everyone away from her and instead decides to put all her trust into a stranger she meets in the woods, the very place her father disappeared.  Ignoring the glaring holes in Mo’s story, she trusts him completely, even though he’s a 17 year-old college student living in the wild, unbeknownst to anyone, to study rocks, a revelation that should put Grace on edge.  It doesn’t, though it did put me on edge enough for the both of us, so I guess that evens it out a little bit.

Mo is a mystery, and as the pieces begin to click together, and Grace continually choose the wrong path (a path that constantly puts her life in danger and sends her back into the very woods where she knows deranged animal murderers reside), I have to at least admire her gumption, even though I’m not really a fan of hers in the least.  She definitely doesn’t allow anyone else’s thoughts or words to influence her decisions, and she’s hell bent on finding her father.  As the only person still convinced he’s alive, she has her work cut out for her, especially as the police and her own mother seem to thwart her at every turn.  So, it makes sense she doesn’t trust the people of her town, but at 16 I would expect just a little more common sense.  I mean, the fact that she constantly stumbles on evidence to back her claims, but fails to ever take a picture with her phone drove me batty…

My biggest issue with the novel, aside from Grace’s awful decisions, is the timing and occasional holes that crop up in the story. For instance, in a gun battle between two people, it doesn’t make sense to me that there’s time for other characters to stop running away, turn around, and have a conversation with the person who was just shot.  For starters, what about the person who shot the character?  They’re still in the picture, but for some reason, do nothing… I probably just confused you… it’s like when you watch a movie and right at the climax the bad guy stops and divulges his entire plan, giving the good guys more than enough time to hatch a plan and save themselves.  Does that make more sense?  Well, basically, there just seemed to be too many instances where everything was hitting the fan in the novel and yet Grace had time to stop and talk to people and try to figure out what to do next when bullets are flying all around her, and that made the story a little less believable for me.

But, Grace’s characterization and plot holes aside, the mystery of her father’s disappearance was great once the story began to pick up, and the end kicked me in the gut. Reader beware, Johannes doesn’t believe in happy endings, that’s for sure, and I found myself sitting in my room at 3am freaking out as the major climax of the story comes into play, killing off a number of characters, which was the last thing I expected to happen, to be honest.  And I cried I good bit then too, so I suggest you have tissues somewhere on the premises as your get closer to the ending.  But, to juxtapose the bloody end of some characters, there is a small shred of hope, even after all the tragedy, that makes me yearn for the sequel because, as much as I really dislike Grace, I really am invested in this story and the remaining characters.  Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

All Night Reads had been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.



13060190From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.

But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.

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I’ve finally come across another book that has merfolk it in (or finfolk, as they’re called in this novel), and they’re not evil!  YES!  So many mermaid novels I’ve read have completely evil females and it has really turns me off of reading books dealing with merfolk, but Surfacing, alongside Of Poseidon, by Anna Banks, has restored my faith in this genre.

Mara is in for a huge surprise when she moves to the island with her estranged father, only to find that nobody on the island really wants her there, save an older lady and two young male teens vying for her attention.  Everyone else, even her father, it seems, wishes she wasn’t there, but she’s at a loss as to why.  While technically a story about finfolk, this novel tackles the theme of prejudice and racism in the form of humans versus finfolk, and it’s very tastefully done.  It’s impossible not to feel sorry for Mara and up in arms about the treatment she endures from those around her, and I think it really helps teach a vital lesson that our society still needs to learn.  Tolerance.  Why is it that we tend to blame an entire people group for one thing that someone did?  And yet, in society, this happens time and time again.

For Mara, it’s no different.  Thrust into the “you people” category by those around her, not even knowing what it means when people say that to her, Mara unwittingly stumbles upon the truth as she finally goes for a swim.  As a reader, this was a little difficult for me because it took Mara so long to figure it all out, even when all the signs were staring her in the face!  Who has an hankering for salt water?  Not me…  And, who lives by the ocean and doesn’t go in? I was dying waiting for Mara to put the pieces together, but once she does, the story really begins to take off as she must come to terms with her change, keep the secret of someone she holds dear, and navigate her feelings of unwant from her father and the intolerable people of the island.

Mara has a quick wit about her and her retorts were awesome, especially to those who treat her like scum.  It was hard not to cheer when she reacts with a little more force on one occasion, but even so, violence is not the answer, which the finfolk believe wholeheartedly.  If only the human population on the island believed it, too.  The ending leaves the novel wide open to the sequel, and I’m excited to see where it goes, especially with Mara’s relationship with Josh and Dylan, Sailor’s search for her mother (although Sailor certainly isn’t my favorite finfolk), and Elizabeth and her father’s vendetta against Mara and everyone not completely human.  Three and a half stars.

3.5 starsFiction Addiction has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgally, in exchange for an honest review.



et cetera
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