Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











18039069From Goodreads: London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

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This novel actually started off slowly for me. At 30% in, I was thinking that I really didn’t want to finish it–I just wasn’t hooked, but I always give books the benefit of the doubt, as I did with this one, and as I went on, it got much better, and by the end I was turning the pages so quickly I would have had whiplash had I not been reading on a stationary Kindle.

The way Rosa’s family treats her and those around them is disgusting and very hard to stomach. There is a scene with a puppy that horrified me, and I nearly put the book down right then because I hated the heir so very much, but I kept going, because by that point, I was very interested in the plot.  And, this novel tackles some great topics for younger readers, such as racism and abuse, two aspects that are rampant within the text, stemming from the Brotherhoods hatred of all “witches” and the abusive relationship between Rosa, her brother, and her “fiancé.” Through it all, the novel shows how clouded one’s judgment can be based on hatred, and how entitlement and greed can ruin families. They were great lessons for readers about refusing to take abuse, though for a while there I was afraid Rosa was just going to roll over and take it.

While it may sound like Rosa is a week character that needs saving, in truth she is not. She is the subject of abuse on many levels, from physical to mental, and as a 16 year old without a friend in the world, she struggles on a very real level with her own wants and needs versus pleasing her family. At times I did want to reach through the pages and shake her, but then again, she must contend with the lesser of two evils–abuse from her family, or the death and destruction of others. Her selflessness is very real, but when it comes down to it, she refuses to stand on the sidelines and allow others to be terrorized. I really did like her and Luke (and they’re the only characters I really did like, save Cassie, the fiancé’s sister, but she was extremely miniscule).

The love relationship in this novel was slow between Luke and Rosa, and I liked that he saw her for what she was, a young girl abused and afraid, versus a witch worth killing. His attempts on her life were extremely interesting to see unfold, especially as his conscious plays a huge part in it all, and his attempts to finally stand up for what is right, along with Rosa’s make them vivid and real.

I can’t wait to see where the sequel of this one takes us because, while not ending on a cliffhanger per se, we are right in the middle of the action and you just know there is so much more to be told.  Four stars.

4 stars

Hodder Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on January 2, 2013.

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{December 11, 2013}   {Review} Severed by Dax Varley

18400224From Goodreads: Katrina’s still haunted by her encounter with the Headless Horseman – the night he beckoned to her. Now he has risen again, slashing heads and terrorizing the quiet countryside.

Her only joy during this dismal darkness comes when Ichabod Crane, a gorgeous young man from Connecticut, moves to Sleepy Hollow and their attraction turns to romance.

When the Horseman marks Ichabod as his next victim, Katrina, despite dangerous efforts to save him, sees no other choice than for them to flee.

But the Horseman awaits. Now it’s up to her to sever the horror and alter the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

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This is a very, very well done take on the classic short story, “Sleepy Hollow.”  In truth, I actually like Severed much more than I like the classic for a number of reasons, two of them being that I can actually connect with the characters and I can fully understand the text!  No offence of Washington Irving, but his story is very dry, whereas this recent rendition is full of characterization, mystery, intrigue, and romance.  Varley does an amazing job staying close to the original story throughout much of her retelling, but adds her own flare near the end, changing the story to a much more sinister and intriguing end, I think, than that of the original.  In fact, as I was reading I pictured the film version with Johnny Depp from 1999, and just like the movie, Daxley creates her very own end that fits perfectly within the storyline.

The story itself kept my attention late into the night, and had my eyes allowed it, I know I would have finished this in one sitting.  Varley definitely knows how to spin a tale, and her characterization was spot on.  I loved Katrina and Ichabod, and loathed Brom and Peter, just, as I imagine, Varley wanted readers too.  In the end, the characters do get their comeuppance, and this twist was really intriguing. I never saw it coming, and truth be told, I think this is an even better ending that the film version.

If you are intrigued by the legend and would like a different approach to the classic, I highly suggest you read this novel. Four stars.

4 stars

Dax Varley was extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

See my review of Washington Irving’s “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” here.



19073822From Goodreads: Alex Cronlord has failed.

The zombie apocalypse that she foresaw months ago has come to pass–in part because of her visions. Trapped in the now-quarantined city of Dallas, Alex struggles both with the undead and with her own guilt. She blames herself for the fall of Dallas, for leaving FBI Agent Moira McBain to die, and for the lies she’s still telling her father. When Zach, her friend and fellow superpowered fighter, makes a startling confession, it only increases Alex’s inner turmoil.

Unknown to Alex, Moira is still alive. Imprisoned in an alternate dimension and facing certain death, Moira receives help from an unlikely source. To get home, she must fight her way past both the soul-sucking Xorda and a frightening and mysterious group of werewolves. She knows who her enemies are. But can she trust her only ally?

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This novel had me on pins and needles as I read, jumping back and forth between the perilous adventures of Alex Cronlord as she battles the zombie apocalypse she unwittingly released on Dallas based on a Weaver premonition, and Agent Moira as she attempts to escape the confines of the Xorda world.  Complete with soul sucking demons, lycanthrope monstrosities, harrowing escapes, sorrowful deaths, and time warping, this novel has a little bit of everything for everyone.

So much has happened to Alex in the past few weeks, and with the weight of the zombie apocalypse and the death of Agent Moria on her shoulder’s, Alex has had about enough.   This young woman can’t seem to catch a break, so it comes as no surprise that she’s willing to give up her own life in more ways than one if it means putting a stop to it all, even if it means she’ll erase her entire existence from the world.

I loved the deeper glimpse readers obtain through the past events that happen at Pinnacle with Alex’s mother, Ainsling.  In book two, The Void, we begin to learn about the events at Pinnacle that started it all, with Sigmund, Xorda extraordinaire, targeting Ainsling from the very beginning.  But in this third installment, we learn even more as Alex stumbles onto an ability that has the power to stop Sigmund and the zombie apocalypse forever.  But will she succeed?

Abramowitz keeps his readers on edge with his perfectly timed cliff hangers interspersed within the novel. Jumping from one point of view to another, readers find themselves at the climax of an important scene only to be whisked away and dropped into the thoughts and adventures of another.  I absolutely adore this type of writing style as it keeps the reader on their toes.  Expertly crafter, readers experience an emotional rollercoaster as they jump between characters, and what makes it work so seamlessly is that each time readers are dropped into another character’s experience, it picks up exactly where the original cliffhanger left off a few chapters prior.  So, while readers may groan as the shift in character takes place, leaving them hanging, they are quickly thrown right back into the story as a previous cliffhanger begins to resolve itself.  This is ingenious and I highly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the fourth and final novel.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review prior to its release on December 10, 2013



Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00015]From Goodreads: Eliza Monroe has been traveling the United States for three years, immersing herself in the towns she visits as she searches for the mother she’s never known. She hopes returning to her grandmother’s inn in Sage Springs, Mo., will provide the break she needs to evaluate her lonely life.

What Eliza isn’t expecting is to have two men enter the picture, not making her decision to stay or leave any easier. One has been her foundation, while the other is as comfortable as she is hopping from city to city. Throw in a kooky grandmother, a cheerful best friend, a sarcastic guest, a town where residents and spirits interact like neighbors, and Eliza has little time to contemplate her future.

Friendships grow, webs are spun and lies are revealed before Eliza comes to terms with what she wants in life and learns what’s really important.

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Whispers and Wishes is a sweet tale of love and redemption as Eliza Monroe learns what’s really important in life.  Having spent the better part of the last three years on the road looking for the mother she’s never known, leaving behind a potential love relationship and the ghosts that peacefully haunt Sage Springs, Eliza is finally home for a short reprieve.  Her grandmother’s inn is in danger of closing, and Eliza can’t help but feel that this is where she belongs, but at what cost?

Westring has a created a cute and interesting story that revolves around the choices that we must make and how we know when enough is enough.  With the revelation that Jake, the boy she left so long ago, still loves her, and the attentions of the gorgeous and mysterious drifting handy man, Gavin, Eliza isn’t sure what to do, but one thing is clear, she has to make a choice.  Pulled in both directions, Eliza must decide where her loyalties lie, and as events come to a head and Eliza finds that not everyone is who they say they are and that not everything is what is seems, everything Eliza’s been working toward these last few years begins to crumble.  But, with great friends and a strong home base, Eliza is ready to face her fears, the truth, and love.

If you’re looking for a charming story and a quick read that will leave you with a smile on your face and a renewed belief in the goodness of people, then this is the book for you.  Four stars.

4 starsI received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review prior to its release on November 7, 2013.

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DSC04689About the author:

Hollie Westring hails from Kansas City, Mo. She used to be a journalist, which probably explains her extreme dislike of the serial comma and her preference for AP style.

After realizing the hours of journalists were not productive to any type of social or family life, she settled into a job at a publishing syndicate. She worked with comics, astrology columns, word puzzles and feature columns for six years. Although she enjoyed her time there, Hollie decided to leave the nine-to-five world and join the twenty-four/seven world of motherhood. Now she edits from home.

When not writing, editing or reading, Hollie can be found baking cookies or watching more than her fair share of crime TV. She’s a loyal Royals and Chiefs fan.

Links:

Blog: www.holliewestring.com

Twitter: @holliewestring

Facebook: facebook.com/authorholliewestring

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6622356.Hollie_Westring?from_search=true

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Grand Prize: One signed paperback of Whispers and Wishes, a custom necklace, and a $50 Amazon Giftcard

Runners Up: 2 winners will receive an ebook of Whispers and Wishes

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13091560From Goodreads: Three strikes…you’re dead?

A Major League baseball team with a woman as manager? A starting pitcher who can not only throw a baseball with a the best but can throw a whole game to Las Vegas gamblers? A gang of drug smugglers who are attempting to take over the team for their own purposes? Las Vegas Gold is a novel that has all this and more.

Molly Malone is the red-haired manager of a group of American League baseball players all carefully chosen from the ranks of free agent and amateur players. Money for salaries is no problem. Mike Malone, Molly’s father and a former star Major League player turned billionaire business man, has obtained a franchise for Las Vegas. He names his daughter, a star and manager in women’s pro baseball as manager, hand-picks Larry Henderson as General Manager and gives them carte blanche to choose the players. He begins building a state of the art roofed stadium and tells Molly and Larry to be ready to play in two years. Molly gets her way with a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Tabby, a pitcher with a great arm and attitude to match.

What the team isn’t prepared for is the trouble that follows the manager and soon invades their lineup. Previously, the worst any of the players had to deal with was striking out or blowing a catch. Now, they find themselves up to their necks in murder, thrown baseball games, Las Vegas gamblers and drug lords.

Combining a murder mystery with America’s national pastime, while covering such hot button topics as illegal gambling in the sporting world and the import of illegal drugs, Las Vegas Gold will keep readers of both baseball and mysteries riveted from start to finish.

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This is a novella for baseball fans everywhere!  With a murder mystery, illegal gambling, a no-nonsense female manager, and a hand picked team of fictional baseball players with attitude to boot, this novella sets the stage for a great read, especially for the hardcore baseball fan.

I, myself, don’t know much about baseball.  I went to my first (ever) game this Spring, and while I enjoyed the entire baseball experience, I didn’t understand any of the terminology my friends were using while the game played on.  At my second game, I asked questions and learned more about the game that is America’s favorite pastime, and it’s a good thing too, because honestly, I would have been quite lost in this novella had I not.  If you hate baseball, or sports for that matter, then this novella isn’t for you, but if you know a little bit about baseball and enjoy sitting in the stands and the overall baseball experience, then I highly suggest you pick this up.

While a bit top heavy with baseball statistics and terminology in the beginning, an aspect that bored me a bit, the novel picks up with the revelation that someone is after Tabby’s head.  And, as murder hits the baseball field, more than once, I was surprised and intrigued.  Likewise, the characters really began to grow on me as they turn out to be, in truth, quite caring and involved, which is somewhat of the opposite of how I view professional sports players, so this was a nice twist.  With a manager who refuses to back down, murders to solve, and a series to win, this novella surprised me and I found that I really enjoyed it.  Four stars.

4 stars

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



bloodFrom Goodreads: Julia has Awakened and in so doing bound herself to her one true soul mate, the king to her queen. The blood-binding which was foretold between fang and claw ultimately rescued her from certain death, the Circle of Protection is now complete.

Yet, another would-be queen vies for the position of ultimate ruler and believes she has found an ancient loophole that will upset the new balance of potential peace that has been put into play by Julia’s prophesied reign. Jacqueline will stop at nothing to achieve her goals, even using the dreaded Were to further her victory.

Cynthia and Adrianna form an unlikely alliance to survive against an enemy that now has help for his madness to take shape. Emmanuel, the Feral and Truman find themselves drawn to defend and protect a new order with a past that haunts their efforts, while a broken Were rises to a position of power through sacrifice and the one woman that holds his heart.

Can Julia and her one true mate bring peace to the species and rescue the ones they love? Will the Blood Singers fulfill their destiny to unite three groups of sworn enemies to come together as one?

**Mature Content Warning: This novel contains sexual inference, violence, and moderate profanity.**

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This third installment of the amazing new adult Blood Series by Tamara Rose Blodgett takes on a much darker, edgier tone as tensions rise between the three groups: Singers, Vampires, and Weres. Julia, thought to be off the hook and out of danger since choosing a mate among the Singers finds rather quickly that some knowledge has been withheld—mainly, how the Queen Singer must align the three groups through marriage… something neither Scott nor Julia want to hear having just declared their feelings for one another.

To make matters worse, Julia’s husband (by human law), Jason, is on the prowl, and he’s none to happy to see his wife engaged to another, even if their past human lives bear no authority in the magical realm and he feels nothing for her… or does he?  Mix in an honorable vampire, William, who is willing to risk all for Julia, and everything Julia thought she knew and wanted becomes extremely strained as tempers flare, profanities fly alongside fists, and dangers lurk around every corner.

Full of angst and with the reappearance of Jacqueline and the sadistic, misogynist Tony, relations are even further tested and, unbeknownst to our would-be heroes, there is more dangerous magic at work than they ever realized existed.  Forced to put their anger aside and work together, Scott, Jason, and William along with the most trusted among their groups plunge head first into a war they most likely can’t win against an ancient and powerful magic they’ve never dealt with before.  It is here that Blodgett really wows her readers with the insertion of a magical realm thought only to be a rumor amongst the groups, thrusting the characters into danger unparalleled in the previous novels and, sadly, ending with the death of a beloved character, for a magic this dark will cannot leave all unscathed.

I was completely blown away with Blodgett’s additional magical group—a group I’ve read much about in many other novels, but never thought would show itself within the Blood Series, and yet, they fit quite nicely, and Blodgett’s definitely done her homework concerning with sadistic group of meddlesome entities.  But, no spoilers here.  If you want to know who they are, you’ve got to read the series, because it’s a great one, touching on realistic emotions and not sugar coating the ups and downs of life. You’ll be hooked. Four stars.

4 stars

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



15746031From Goodreads: This short story is a companion to Untraceable and is 5,000 words.

When Mo sees a strange girl in the woods, he follows her. He soon realizes they are both in a dangerous position and may not get out alive.

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This is very short, approximately 16 pages in length, but it’s so worth the read.  I LOVE getting the perspectives of other characters, and that’s what Johannes provides as we learn what two scenes in the novel look like through Mo’s eyes. It’s very well written and leaves the reader hanging in a way that makes them want to read those scenes in Untraceable all over again.  I actually think that this novellete should/could be read PRIOR to reading Untraceable, even though it’s labeled as 1.5, because it really piqued my interest and I think it might generate even more interest in Untraceable should it be read prior.  It’s currently free on Amazon and 99 cents on Barnes and Noble, so if you’re interested in reading Untraceable, but aren’t completely sure yet, then definitely pick up this short novellete.  It’s awesome.

4 stars

I downloaded this novellete with Amazon when it was FREE.



14416243From Goodreads: The last few grueling years of training have served Kaltor well. He’s learned to harness the magic within his body, overcome a stronger opponent, avoid capture, and everything else an assassin-in-training needs to survive.

Or so he thought.

But when those they protect at an excavation site release a demon from the Abyss itself, Kaltor realizes just how poorly prepared they all are for what’s coming. Within a single night, their mining camp of one thousand people plummets to a couple hundred terrified survivors, the majority turned against each other by the demon’s potent abilities. Then he turns towards Shaylis, the largest city in the region, for the next stage of his plan.

In a constant battle of both steel and strategy Kaltor and his friends struggle to delay, deceive and defeat their opponent, who’s spent the last thousand years planning out every detail of her assault to perfection. As the number of casualties mounts and her final plan comes to light, Kaltor is left with only one option. He must draw on the secret power within himself, knowing if his true identity is discovered, his life and the fate of the world, will be changed forever.

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Welcome to the fantastical world of Varadours, Sight Seekers, and humans, a world unlike any other. When an amulet in an archeological dig sends prince Melshek over the edge, taking over people’s will, destroying families, and turning them into black veined humans controlled by webbed mouth women, Kaltor and the Varadour assassins must act to save the kingdom before Melshek’s presence spreads throughout the world, though this valor comes at a great cost to all.

Kaltor is a great young male lead, a Battle Born Varadour assassin in training, and a hero at heart. The Varadour assassins have many different powers that range from the ability to promote healing, to blending in with their surroundings, and even to being able to see things that are happening behind their backs.  Kaltor has many powers, but even more that reach far beyond those of his companions, a fact he’s had to keep hidden for years.  Now, fighting for all that is right against a world that doesn’t truly understand his powers, Kaltor will have to make the ultimate sacrifice if he plans to save those he holds dear.

With the advent of an ancient evil taking over the region, Kaltor steps up to the challenge of defending his people, and the epic fights that ensue will have any fantasy lover enthralled.  The creation of the black veined people and webbed mouth controllers was extremely intense, and the battle scenes and stealth against the hoards of black veined assailants held me captive as a siege against the crown rages on throughout the novel.  Although I found Kaltor’s thoughts to be a bit repetitive at times, I enjoyed his inner monologue as he tried time and time again to overcome the evil around him and convince the remaining people of the kingdom that he and the Varadour’s had their best interests at heart.

The Sight Seekers, with their vivid blue eyes and skills in stealth, create another intense barrier that Kaltor must overcome if he has hopes to save the people, and the many aspects of the world building that Sebrick adds to this novel were extremely well written and thought out.  While I’m not always a fantasy buff, Sebrick did a great job holding my attention and generating interest and feelings on my behalf towards the characters, and I highly suggest lovers of fantasy, world building, and epic war pick this one up.  Four stars.

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



12081764From Goodreads: Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.

To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.

Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.

Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.

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This is a very well written novel that takes place in two planes, or worlds, if you will.  The beginning half of the novel centers around Amber and her life on the human plane as she gets ready for graduation and taking the next steps in her life.  Thomas fleshes out her characters, Amber and Gabriel, during this time, making the reader fall in love with them as we get to know them on a deep level.  Having grown up together in foster care, watching them thrive and fall in love was extremely gratifying, and I really enjoyed their characters.  I especially love Gabriel. He’s a great male lead and Thomas does such a great job making him believable and real, just like she does with Amber. I loved both leads very much, though Gabe steals the show, in my opinion.

Now, whereas this novel begins on the human plane, it ends of the Estilorian plane, giving equal time to both “worlds,” though they’re not technically separate worlds, from what I understand.  It’s more like equal existences in an alternate reality, if I understand correctly.  But, regardless, the world building is epic! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Estilorian place, and while I don’t necessarily understand everything about the plane because I’m not really scientific, I’ve believe I have good enough sense of it all based on what Thomas reveals through Ini-herit and the other characters during the transition period of the novel, and from the prequel, The Prophecy, as well.

The ending of Becoming was a little rough for me as I was convinced that Thomas was going to do something drastic to the characters, and I nearly threw the book across the room in tears.  However, rest assured, Thomas doesn’t do anything to the plot that isn’t needed, though that probably don’t assuage potential reader fears… just know the end it perfect.

I’m very excited to read the next novel in this series because I liked Amber’s sisters, but didn’t feel I learned enough about them individually as this novel focuses mainly on Amber.  But, I believe Thomas has written this series to follow a different sister in each novel while still flowing in sequence, which is awesome! I first was introduced to this type of serial style by Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series, which follows a different brother in each book, yet spurring on the overall plot, and it’s an epic way to tell a story. Amber’s had her turn, and while we’ll still learn about her in the next segment, the focus will move to Olivia, which makes me really excited because she intrigues me. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.



18135479From Goodreads: After ten years of ballet lessons, Jordan Walker has finally landed her first principal role in Romeo and Juliet. Sweeter yet, “Romeo” has asked her to the May Fling Ball at Winston High. But a massive Texas earthquake triggered by the fracking activity nearby tears apart the community and Jordan’s future as a dancer. The Walker family survives the earthquake, but wake up the next morning utterly invisible.

On the run from a military with nefarious plans, Jordan and her family are forced to abandon their old lives and flee to Galveston. It isn’t until she meets Caleb, a blind musician, that Jordan dares to hope again. And the more their secret friendship develops, the more Jordan understands the danger she’s placed everyone in.

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This was a great read, pulling the reader in from the very beginning with a little hint of romance and ballet, only to have the entire world thrown into chaos with an earthquake that releases a purple gas from a research facility, forever changing Jordan and her family’s life.

It never ceases to amaze me when I know something’s coming in a plot line, yet, the author still manages to surprise me, and that’s exactly what happens in this novel.  I knew about the invisibility due to the synopsis, but Stephens reveals it in such a way that it was still jarring for me, even though I was expecting it.  As the reader, we’re given both sides of the coin: how the family interacts prior to the quake, and how they cope after with the advent of invisibility, which was really intriguing for me as I felt like I got to know the characters on a deeper level, watching them struggle and come to terms with their new lives, and being surprised time and time again by the many twists in the story.

Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was the characterization, which is extremely well done; Jordan changes immensely throughout the duration of the story, and though at times her decisions, as well as those of her family, irked me to no end, this is what makes Jordan and her family extremely real.  They struggle, they make mistakes, they yearn for what they can’t have, and Stephen captures it all quite beautifully in this well written paranormal read.  It’s so easy, as the reader, to look in from the outside and point out every bad choice a character makes, which is what I ultimately did with Jordan, but when it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Jordan definitely makes some bad decisions, but truthfully, I’d probably be doing the same if I were invisible and had no one to interact with aside from my family. So, I get it, even though I don’t necessarily like all the ramifications.

The novel, overall, kept up a decent pace, thought on occasion there was some downtime that I could have done without, mainly, when Jordan walks up and down the beach.  She spends a lot of time in her head trying to figure out her relationship, and while this definitely needs to happen, I’m more of an action lady myself.  But, there is more than enough happening in the novel, and throughout much of the novel I was on pins and needles waiting for the shoe to drop because an invisible existence is one that, at some point, must be found out.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review prior to its official release on September 17, 2013.



15947841From Goodreads: The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End…is now.

When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn’t get much worse-until the doctors found the monster in her head.

She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.

Now, with no hope of rescue-on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won’t quit-she discovers a new and horrifying truth.

The Change isn’t over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And…they’ve had help.

With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.

A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.

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Bick jumps right into this final installment without giving any playback, so if you haven’t read the other books, you’ll be lost in this one. And if you haven’t read the other books recently, you’ll most likely need a refresher course because there are a ton of characters, and the story jumps back and forth between them all, leaving the reader on constant pins and needles as each change over happens on a cliffhanger.  To be truthful, Bick is the queen of cliffhangers—I haven’t read another author that does it so flawlessly and so often within his/her writing; it’s an art, really, and I admire Bick’s ability to write a story like this that leaves me yearning for more and more, freaking out at each mini cliffhanger within the chapters.  And guess what?  The ending, in my opinion, leaves the door wide open for a spinoff series if Bick so chooses, which I would love, cliffhangers and all.

The characterization is great, but I was a bit confused by some of the paranormal activity that takes place in this novel, which I either forgot about from the previous novels, or I just plain missed in this one. I don’t really understand Alex’s ability and the monster within her, but I’m going to chalk it up to reader error because, honestly, Bick has never lead me astray.  I’ve highly enjoyed all her novels, and this zombie apocalypse is a smash hit.

Overall, Monsters was one hell of a ride and a great end to the series, but just a little too long for my tastes. I, personally, would have gotten more joy out of it had it been pared down from nearly 700 pages to two separate books.  Instead of a trilogy, a four book series would have been superb and made reading this final installment that much easier.  Regardless, though, this was an epic end to the series, but readers beware, it’s basically a nonstop action ride, jumping from character to character with mini cliffhangers written in between the multiple points of view.  There isn’t much down time, though I’ll admit there was a little, so I came out of it extremely tense and my body hurt from it all because I just couldn’t let myself relax as I read, and 700 pages is a long time to be tense. But it’s so good, it was worth it.  Four stars.

4 stars

Egmont USA has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 10, 2013.



Soul Survivor

Author: Michelle N. Files

Series: Hybrid Chronicles #1

Publication: June 14th, 2013

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Paranormal Romance

SoulSurvivor-MichelleNicole2

Synopsis

From Goodreads: Hailee Mai Hart is just a simple, normal girl. Or so she thought. When she left her one-horse town for a college education in the big city, she never could’ve imagined what awaited her.

She’s quickly thrown into a world filled with angels, danger, and a curse…her curse. Come to find out, she’s not so simple after all. She’s actually the last of her kind, and the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. She has one chance to save Earth, and it all comes down to one choice: Light or Darkness. What is right and what is wrong is all a matter of perspective, which leaves her heart dangerously tangled. No matter which path she takes people will die, and that’s just not an option.

Will she be able to save everyone, or will she be the Soul Survivor?

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Review:

SoulSurvivor-AlexSoul SurvivorHailee is a very complex character, self-assured and strong-willed in some instances, while full of doubt and panic in others. In other words, she’s real, and I enjoyed getting to know her in this first novel of the Hybrid series. She has a lot of weighty decisions to make in this novel, and I don’t envy her at all, but I do respect her immensely! And Alex and Seth? Both are infuriating suitors in that they bicker all the time and hassle Hailee about her destiny, but I loved them all the same.  Part of their charm comes from their intense hatred of one another, to be honest. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Ami, though, but would you be a fan of a woman who always tells the truth, regardless of a person’s feelings? Nah, probably not.

Truth be told, in the beginning I was a little nervous about the “insta-love” relationship that was brewing between Hailee and Alex in this novel. I’ve never really been a fan of instant relationships, and that is definitely what happens in the beginning of this intense novel, but there is a rhyme and reason behind it all, and Files soon put my worry to rest as she began to flesh out the characters and the truth behind all their identities came to light. I must admit, I breathed a sigh of relief because I really liked the storyline, and so I was very happy to realize that “insta-love” isn’t actually the case at all.

The plot itself was very well written and I found it unique as a reader. I love angel novels, but this is different, dealing with guardians, messengers, hybrids, and, of course, the Darkness.  I think the Darkness, Seth, was my favorite character because I never knew what he was going to do next, and he’s the bad boy image 100%, magnified because he’s actually full of murderous intent and destruction. He’s no faker, that’s for sure; he’s not putting on a façade, and that’s the personality that gets me every time.

The ending to the novel was perfect… for a minute there I was truly worried this would be a sad sob story because Files does something I certainly wasn’t expecting, and it blew my mind. It is remedied, however, opening the door for the sequel, which I am extremely excited to read. Four stars.

4 stars

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17906541-soul-survivor

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Survivor-Hybrid-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00DE50H2O/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soul-survivor-michelle-nicole/1115658248

I won a copy of this novel in a giveaway and read it prior to joining this awesome tour.

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Top Tens List – Songs to Listen to as you read Soul Survivor–from Michelle Nicole

  1. “She Is Love” by 3 Doors Down ~ Chapter 1 – Lost and Found
  2. “I Never Told You” by Colbie Caillat ~ Chapter 16 – Going Home
  3.  “Just A Kiss” by Lady Antebellum ~ Chapter 25 – Under the Moonlight
  4. “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele ~ Chapter 30 – Rain
  5.  “Criminal” by Fiona Apple ~ Chapter 35 – Desire
  6. “Give Me a Sign” by Breaking Benjamin ~ Chapter 37 – Miracles and Options
  7. “Without You” by Breaking Benjamin ~ Chapter 41 – Plan B
  8. “Anthem Of The Angels” by Breaking Benjamin ~ Chapter 43 – Facing the Music
  9. “Hymn For The Missing” by Red ~ Chapter 45 – The Sun and the Moon (first half)
  10. “Never Be The Same” by Red ~ Chapter 45 – The Sun and the Moon (second half)

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Giveaway

Prizes:

1 – Print copy of Soul Survivor by Michelle Nicole {US Only}

3 – eBooks of Soul Survivor by Michelle Nicole {International}

End date: September 21st, 2013 @ 11:59pm EDT

Click this Rafflecopter Link to Enter!!!

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 About the Author:

MichelleNicoleMichelle Nicole was born and raised in wild, wonderful West Virginia. While her first passion is numbers, not long into adulthood, Michelle rediscovered her love of books and with it the joy and fulfillment of writing her own stories. She spends her days working as a CPA and her nights weaving tales of love, friendship, and everything in between.

When she’s not working or writing, you’ll find her binge watching her favorite TV shows, reading, tweeting, hanging with her husband and furry children, or spending time with her close knit extended family.

LINKS

Website: http://authormichellenicole.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichelleNicole

Twitter: https://twitter.com/M1chelle_N1cole

Google+: https://plus.google.com/110493304598240853391

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7085821

GrapevineLogoSignaturehttp://www.grapevinebooktours.com/2013/07/tour-signup-soul-survivor-by-michelle.html



13049897From Goodreads: Tristan Coleman has survived the change from Clann magic user to vampire, much to Savannah Colbert’s joy—and despair. By changing the Clann’s golden boy and newly elected leader, even to save him from death, she has unleashed a fury of hatred and fear that they cannot escape.

As the Clann and the vampire council go to war, Tristan and Sav face a new threat—a fracturing of the all-consuming bond they share. To fight for peace, they must forge a new trust and risk everything to take down their deadliest enemy, even as they must run for their lives. Soon they will learn that some bonds are stronger than love—and some battles cannot be won without sacrifice.

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I began reading this novel without realizing it was the third and final in the series.  It’s actually my first novel of the author’s, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that, though not technically a stand-alone, it can be read on its own and still make perfect sense.  It’s extremely well written and I highly enjoyed it, even though I missed out on the events in the first two novels.  But Darnell does a phenomenal job keeping the reader up to speed from the very beginning, and she lets readers know the important events from the previous novels without an info-dump at the beginning.  Instead, she weaves the important facts throughout the story as a reminder to those who have read the other novels, and I really liked this method of intertwining events as a reminder, or in my case, to help explain, since I’m reading this series backwards, as it were.  Now, do I have some questions, sure. Were a ton of them answered in this novel? Yep. And it was so good that I’m going to go back and read books one and two because, even though I already know what’s going to happen in them, I’m excited to witness the events in slow motion with more detail.
The characters in this novel are actually running for their lives throughout a majority of the story, so there’s a lot of downtime and Darnell uses this to really flesh out her characters.  Truthfully, much of the novel focuses on the issues brewing between Tristan and Savannah more than anything else, but I kind of liked this as a new reader of the series.  I’m not sure how others will feel about the slower pacing, especially if they’ve read the other novels and already know the characters well, but I, personally, found it helpful in really getting to know the characters.

Darnell splits the novel into separate points of view, and I really enjoyed traveling through the mind of both Tristan and Savannah as the novel progressed. It was enlightening as Tristan and Savannah went back and forth with their feeling and sense of right versus wrong.  Their growing divide over a particular issues was extremely interesting to me because it’s one we discuss a lot in my classroom when we get into philosophical debates, and Darnell presents both sides, but leaves it open for reader interpretation, which I really enjoyed.  And the mindspeak?  This was very well written into the story. I imagine it’d be a pain in the butt to have this ability, especially with a significant other, but I’d like to have it just the same. I want to hear people’s thoughts, too… Overall, the characterization of this novel was phenomenal, the entire novel was clean, and I’m pretty sure this will be a great full series to share with my students. Book three definitely is, that’s for sure. Four stars.

4 stars

Harlequin has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on August 27, 2013.



et cetera
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