Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











17397760From Goodreads: THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

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Unfortunately, this novel didn’t grab me or really keep my attention as I would have liked.  Nerissa Marin’s character drove me a bit batty as she’s extremely spoiled and condescending, and I have found that if I don’t like the main character in my novel, I generally don’t care for the book overall.  Such is the case with this one.  While the premise was there for Waterfell, and the idea behind these water people was quite enchanting, the story itself was much too slow for the likes of me, especially as it revolved around Nerissa and her insta-feelings for Lo.  Not enough happened for me to really become interested in this novel, and I’m sad to say I can only give it two stars.

2 starsHarlequin Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on November 1, 2013

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17883713From Goodreads: From a brilliant new voice in horror comes a riveting nightmare of ancient evil unleashed—and the bravery and sacrifice of those called to combat it.

In 1948, when he was just a boy, Jimmy Kalmaku trained with his uncle to be the shaman of his Tlingit village in Alaska. There he learned the old legends, the old myths, the old secrets. Chief among them was that of a mask locked in a prison of ice, and of the faceless god imprisoned within: a cruel and vengeful god called T’Nathluk, dedicated to the infliction of pain and suffering.
 
Now all but forgotten in a Seattle retirement home, Jimmy finds his life turned upside down. For when an unwitting archaeologist pries the mask free of its icy tomb, he frees T’Nathluk as well. Stuck in spirit form, the Faceless One seeks a human to serve as a portal through which he can enter our reality. The Faceless One can control—and mercilessly torture—anyone who touches the mask, which means there is no shortage of slaves to ferry it across the country to its chosen host.
 
Yet the Faceless One has foes as well: Stan Roberts, a tough New York cop whose pursuit of justice will lead him into a dark abyss of the soul; Steven, Liz, and Bobby, the family of the doomed archaeologist; and Jimmy Kalmaku, who must at last become the shaman of his boyhood dreams.

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I’m sorry to say that this novel didn’t captivate me as I had hoped it would.  A new release just in time for Halloween, hailed as a “riveting nightmare of ancient evil,” I was sad to find that The Faceless One fell a bit short in this category, for me personally.

The story itself jumped around from character to characters too much for my tastes, making it difficult for me to follow along with much clarity.  While I felt the synopsis pointed to a story about Jimmy Kalmaku and his knowledge and attempt to defeat the Faceless One, the novel itself spends much time focusing on the lives of seemingly unimportant and random characters.  The story introduces a huge cast of characters, some of which play a rather small part in aiding the mask in its search, and I, personally, could have done with them.  There is only so much back and forth that I can stomach in a novel, and jumping from one side character to the next, then to Jimmy and off to another character without much connection between them all made for a hard read, especially in the very beginning when I was trying to make headway with the novel.

The novel itself is a bit long and, by a quarter of the way through, I found that, for me, it still hadn’t taken off.  Jimmy was still an inconsequential background character, as were many of those I’d met and watched die or otherwise aide the mask, and the pieces just seemed to be taking too long to put together without throwing me anything to really keep my interest.  The novel did get better as it went on, but I personally found this one just a tad too long, lacking the scare factor I really wanted it to have, and confusing me in terms of characters.  Overall, this is a great premise, but it’s just not the book for me.  Two stars.

2 stars

Random House Publishing Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on October 28, 2013.



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.



cover32102-mediumFrom Goodreads: Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader,” but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

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Truth be told, this novel started off a little slow for me because I didn’t refresh my memory about the prequel, The Darkest Minds, and so I felt like I was playing catch-up a bit in the beginning.  This is not fault of the author, but rather a reader error that I now know to remedy for the third installment, because I can’t wait for it to release next year!  As certain events from the first novel began to clarify in my mind as I read, the novel picked up speed and I soon found that it was a nonstop action packed sequence novel that had my stomach dropping all over the place.  If you’ve read The Darkest Minds, brush up on the major events because they’re going to come back to haunt Ruby in this novel, and it really helps to remember them from the get-go.  And if you haven’t read The Darkest Minds?  Do it.  It’s a very interesting tale, and this sequel knocked my breath away—but these novels really need to be read in order.

Ruby is an Orange.  That means she can root around in a person’s head and make them believe things that aren’t true, see things that aren’t there, erase entire memories and people from a mind, and this makes her extremely dangerous.  And awesome.  Because Ruby doesn’t exploit her power; she hates it, internalizing her terror and referring to herself as a monster.  In truth, Ruby’s life has been shattered on more than one occasion, and she hasn’t known much happiness since the catastrophe that changed the face of America’s children.  Living in constant fear, and having ripped the memories from the one boy that mattered, Ruby reviles herself.  And yet, there is a glimmer of hope as she sets off to find Liam and the flash drive that has the potential to answer her deepest questions and save the exploited and abused children of the world.

I spent a lot of this novel wondering whether The Children’s League was truly good or bad.  The first novel makes readers think one way, and this novel hovers between the two, sometimes pointing in one direction, and sometimes in the other, but in the end, the true threat lies with the government.  I still can’t say whether The Children’s League is good or evil, but many of my questions have been answered, and as Ruby and her friends traipse off into the wilderness and band together time and time again against other children, the pursuers of the League, and the government, the novel swallows the reader whole, dropping us right into the middle of this war, making it impossible not to root for Ruby and her unlikely team of misfits.

Reader beware, not everyone goes unscathed in this novel, and with the death of a character I initially disliked and learned to love, I suggest you keep a box of tissues handy.  This is war.  People die, people turn on each other, and lives are ruined.  And it’s one hell of a ride.  Four and a half stars.

4.5 stars

Disney-Hyperion has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on October 15, 2013.

The Darkest Minds (#1)

Never Fade (#2)



17638282From Goodreads: One pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.

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This is certainly not an uplifting book.  Going in I knew that Twigs was going to be dealing with some difficult situations, but her life keeps going from bad to worse, and I came out of the novel a bit depressed.

Personally, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, let alone like many of them. Twigs is a tiny girl, size 4’9.  I’m 5’1, so we’re close in height and I understood a lot of the angst that she felt about her size and how people referred to her size all the time.  The fact that she also has a baby face and is mistaken to be a child on multiple occasions is also something I experienced a lot at her age, though I never lashed out as Twigs does because it didn’t bother me as much as it bothers her, so I didn’t understand that part, I guess.  I feel like, in retrospect, that was her way of coping with everything else that was going on in her life, fighting back about her size since she couldn’t fight back against anything else, but even so, it’s not something I could personally connect with. I’ve also never lived through the hellish nightmare she does, so I think that may be why I don’t connect on the same level about the height issue, etc.

I have no respect for anyone in Twigs’ family, least of all her mother who sleeps around all the time, neglects Twigs (but not the other children), and keeps secrets.  Every time she came into a scene, my stomach recoiled because she’s an all around terrible person, and I don’t care if she tells Twigs how much she loves her in the end, or not.  Words can’t undo all the damage she’s done to Twigs’ psyche, and I have no love for her.

Twigs’ father is another lowlife.  Drunk or not, you don’t run out on your kid because of something that isn’t her fault, that she never had any control over.  It takes a while, but once readers get to the point where Twigs’ mother finally reveals the reason dad left in the first place, well, it’s stupid, especially as he blames Twigs and it’s not her fault in the least.  I’m sure, as you read, you realize that the dad Twigs has been idolizing has been extremely two-faced, and there is no excuse for his reactions towards Twigs, although everyone seems to think there is, which really irked me as I read.

Marlee wasn’t my favorite for sisters, either, but on the plus side, I didn’t note her trying to date the entire high school.  There seems to be only one man in her life, and the relationship seems quite strong, so I was confused as to what the synopsis was originally talking about here.  Maybe I missed something early on in the novel.  Perhaps?

Basically, Twigs has to deal with some terrible things in her life, and nothing has been easy for her.  Watching her go through crisis after crisis was difficult, and I’m glad she’s strong, but she also needs a break.  Thankfully, that seems to come in the form of crazy Helen and Coop, a boy from college, but not enough time was spent on either of those characters for my liking.  I don’t mind a true to life story, but I also need some more uplifting pieces along the way to keep my sanity.

While some of the events in the novel didn’t seem real to me, I’ve never been in any of the situations that Twigs finds herself in, so I’m not able to make a judgment call on them. This novel doesn’t have much in it in terms of happiness, though, and it created a gloomy mood for me as I read.  I have to pick up something a little lighter with a happy ending, I think, to counteract it.  Two stars.

2 starsF+W/Adams Media has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on September 18, 2013.



17347389From Goodreads: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after.

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Unfortunately, this series apparently just isn’t for me.  While I didn’t particularly enjoy the first novel, I was hoping the story would grow on me in the second, especially because so many of my friends really adore these books.  But, it just isn’t meant for me, which happens.

I had a very hard time following the plot line of this story, similar to my personal issues with the first novel, as it turns out.  The novel jumps around too much for my taste, as well, and it was so hard for me to keep track of the characters and all the paranormal aspects. The characters are interesting, but there are a lot, more than I can handle, apparently, though I find that a bit weird because I generally don’t have any issues following characters all over the place.  But, in the end, that doesn’t really mean anything.  Some books just aren’t meant for some people.

Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who loved the first book will thoroughly enjoy the second novel, as it’s the same writing style, jumping around from character to character and delving into the paranormal, with a slice of romance.  If you didn’t necessarily enjoy the first novel, then this second might be a little difficult for you to read, but in the end, I think it all comes down to reader preferences, and while this series doesn’t seem to be for me, don’t write it off until you try it.  Two stars.

2 stars

Scholastic has been very gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 17, 2013.



cover32563-mediumFrom Goodreads: When Elle’s father, a single parent and a big shot in corporate insurance, moves her to yet another boarding school for senior year, Elle is disgusted when nothing changes. Her night terrors don’t go away, and, soon, despite her father’s caring calls and visits, Elle starts to believe she’s losing her mind. She knows she’s being followed; a ribbon is tied around her doorknob, and there are those cigarette butts that keep turning up on the doormat, in violation of a strict smoking ban on campus. Then there’s Bryan, an intriguing boy Elle meets at a flea market and later finds out is a student at her school. Yet on campus, he pretends he doesn’t recognize her – until the day he divulges just how much danger she’s in. In her search for an answer to all the madness, Elle unravels the truth about her dad’s real identity, why someone has lied to her all her life, and the terrifying truth that she may be the only one who can save her from the one who’s following her now.

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While the overall archetypes of a story set in a boarding school haven’t really changed in this novel, with the brooding yet protective hero, the shy and needy heroine, the distant parent, and the lackluster staff, Lindsey still adds her own twist to an age old story, bringing in a serial killer with a vendetta, the secret police, and pure, nice, caring friends for our heroine, Elle.

I won’t lie, it’s hard not to compare Lindsey’s novels with the vast majority that have been written using the same setting. If you read the synopsis, you might just think it’s going to be like all the others out there, but in truth, it’s really not. In the beginning, yes, I very much thought that this novel was just like others I’ve read. However, like I said previously, Lindsey adds in her own elements that help give the story a kick, like the fact that there really aren’t any “mean girls/boys” on campus. That was an added relief. In fact, our heroine, Elle, though shy, has great friends that rally around her and try to include her in everything, which was an awesome change from some of the books I’ve previously read where the hero/heroine is hated by the “fabulous” rich students all around him/her.

On top of that, the school isn’t exactly strict, and the students are able to move about more freely, going into town, owning cars, and interacting with the real world, which isn’t something I often see in novels dealing with boarding school. It actually made the characters seem more like college students with this added freedom, and I liked this aspect a lot, though sometimes it was confusing to me because I’m still trying to figure out the living arrangements.  The girls seemed to have their own apartment, complete with a kitchen, and they bought their own groceries, so that was a little weird for me, but not a deal breaker by any means.

The addition of a serial killer running around added a sense of fear to the entire novel as well. Though, on occasion, I wanted to smack Elle upside the head because she doesn’t seem very street smart. If I woke up every morning and there were tons of cigarette butts all over my doormat every day, I’d be worried of a stalker AND I’d tell authorities. It wouldn’t be something I just chalk up to chance. Likewise, I feel like most people recognize a cigarette’s glow in the evening, so it surprised me that Elle didn’t recognize what it was when she saw it stalking her, but… then again, she is really naive, so… it happens.

I figured out much of the plot before the constant reveals and revelations of the characters’ roles, but the one aspect I couldn’t figure out for a while was the “why” behind the serial killer’s choice. But, once that was explained, everything fit nicely into place, and the end definitely left me with a pounding heart for multiple reasons. Overall, this is a decent read with a twist, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the novels you’ve previously read set in boarding schools, then I suggest you give this one a try.  Three stars.

3 stars

F+W/Adams Media has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on September 18, 2013.



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.



16088678From Goodreads: Smart girls aren’t supposed to do stupid things.

Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she’s so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennett. He’s cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she’s endured – and missed out on – in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she’s falling in love.

There’s only one problem. Bennett is Madelyn’s college professor, and he thinks she’s eighteen – because she hasn’t told him the truth.

The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennett – both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.

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This is the story of a young girl so desperately trying to break the mold of her perfect life that her parents have designed for her that she ultimately ruins another’s life in order to feel different. Bennett makes her feel like an adult, like she has control of her life, and so she doesn’t tell him she’s 16, even though she knows she should, that their relationship is illegal, and that it could all come crashing down around her. But she’s selfish; not intentionally, but selfish she is, and in the end, the pieces shatter and she is left with nothing but a disappointed family–but she does break the mold.

Both Bennett and Madelyn were incredibly infuriating characters in this story, mainly because they didn’t think. The first thing I do when I meet someone I’m interested in is find out their age, and Bennett doesn’t do that. He never asks, even though he knows he shouldn’t be dating a student. He doesn’t verify that she’s 18, or ask around about her; instead, he throws himself into the relationship and, in this lack of thought, ends up ruining his own life. Asking someone to keep a secret this monumental means he knows what he’s doing is wrong. So he’s just as much to blame as anyone else.

Madelyn does stop to think that what she’s doing isn’t smart, but she continuously ignores the nagging feeling in the back of her mind and does whatever she wants to do. She doesn’t care who she hurts, and because of this, I have no respect for her. Yes, I understand she’s 16, irrational, and that her brain hasn’t fully formed, so she makes big mistakes, but this is calculating, and while she never means to being Bennett harm, that’s what she does because of her own selfish desires.

And her parents are just as much to blame as Bennett and Madelyn are. Their pressure and inability to really see their daughter was sickening. How does one not notice their child is suddenly dressing sexier and trying to be more mature and grown-up? She was 15 when she started community college–why force that on her? They didn’t know their own daughter, and I understand that the mother was absent a lot, and dad was all about making sure she succeeds in life, but what ever happened to allowing kids to be kids? Why force them to grow up so quickly? If you push her to be an adult all the time, when she’s not and doesn’t have all the experience and capabilities adults have, then you’re asking for trouble, in my opinion. And that’s what they got.

In the end, everyone is at fault in some way, shape, or form in this story.  Everyone.

I liked the idea that this story is told through a series of letters Madelyn wants to send Bennett after it’s all said and done, so she leads up to the fateful morning her secret was discovered, but I really would have loved to have Bennett’s point of view in there, too.  Overall, though, it’s a very well written story that will really make readers think, picking the characters apart and trying assess their cognitive abilities, or lack thereof.  The characterization is superb; I just wish I liked them more.  Three stars.

3 stars

Flux Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release tomorrow, September 8, 2013.



1808884322568155From Goodreads: Haunted by silence, a mute teenage girl is mysteriously given back her voice … and it is divine.

Rendered mute at birth, Portia Griffin has been silent for 16 years. Music is her constant companion, along with Felix, her deaf best friend who couldn’t care less whether or not she can speak. If only he were as nonchalant about her newfound interest in the musically gifted Max Hunter.

But Portia’s silence is about to be broken with the abrupt discovery of her voice, unparalleled in its purity and the power it affords to control those around her. Able to persuade, seduce and destroy using only her voice, Portia embarks on a search for answers about who she really is, and what she is destined to become.

Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, SILENT ECHO: A Siren’s Tale is an epic story filled with fantasy, romance and original music.

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I really liked the mythology piece of this novel and I think it’d be great for teens to read, especially if they’re studying the topic in school, or if they’re extremely interested in mythology, as many are since Percy Jackson hit the scene a few years back. From my own studies of mythology in school way back when, I knew what Sirens were, and of course, I’ve read The Odyssey AND all the Percy Jackson books, so my definition of them is a lot more refined than someone who hasn’t studied or read mythology, but even so, I learned so much more about Sirens in this novel than I ever have before, and I thought that was extremely interesting.

I think it’s safe to say that most people know Sirens have a beautiful mesmerizing voice that lures men to their deaths, but most probably don’t know why they turned evil, and I really enjoyed Freilich’s rendition of what happened after Odysseus, bringing the story into the present, captivating the reader with this tale of good versus evil.

Now, potential readers already know from the synopsis that Portia is a Siren, unbeknownst to her, and therefore she’s going to struggle immensely with the power she has. She’s going to make bad decisions, she’s going to have trouble controlling her voice and reactions, and, if her distant relatives have anything to do with it, she’ll lose her way and wreak havoc on the world. Thus, readers realize that Portia, while initially very likable, is going to do things, say things, feel things that are going to make the reader dislike her. It’s part of being a Siren. Knowing that going in helped me as I read because I knew what she was, and while I really hated some of the things she does, and she tainted my feelings about her as a character, I knew that it wasn’t her true nature, but the Siren taking over. There is an outside force at work here, and while it’s easy to judge Portia and dismiss her as evil and dislike the story, in the end, this is a novel about Sirens and their power to ruin people, so I highly stress that readers remember this, otherwise it will be extremely easy to write off the novel and dislike it due to the heroine.

Now, I’m not making excuses for Portia, and her behavior definitely put me on edge as I read. Yes, I lost some respect for her, and at points I wanted her to die off in order to stop the hurt she was causing, but… I understood where this angst was coming from, which is why I still liked the novel in the end, whereas I usually end up disliking books where I lose respect for the main character. Also, Portia isn’t always evil, and the end of the novel does bring things full circle, in a way, so I can’t actually say I dislike her.

The one aspect of the novel I did not enjoy was the verse interspersed throughout. Portia loves music, as does her beau, Hunter, and they sing to each other, a lot. As someone who doesn’t listen to music or thoroughly enjoy poetry, I struggled with this. The versus themselves seemed quite juvenile to me, and the lack of a melody I could literally hear turned these verses into rhyming poems that, to be quite honest, I would expect from an elementary/middle school child. Now, the main characters are teenagers, and I think teens probably won’t mind these verses as much, but as an adult who teaches high school, including poetry, it was difficult because not all poetry rhymes, nor should it, and, well, this aspect just wasn’t for me.

Overall, I think this was a very interesting story that many MG and YA readers will enjoy, especially with it’s mythological aspects. Three stars.

3 stars

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

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble



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.



16431540From Goodreads: Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.

But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.

As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.

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This is the story of a young man so wrought with grief that he’s given up living, so set in his own delusion that he wanders everywhere barefoot in hopes of finding a thin space to connect with the dead. For the longest time, I thought I knew what happened that night that Austin died. There are so many instances when Marsh begins to tell the story, only to stop, giving enough snippets to connect all the dots, except for the biggest one of them all that some readers may catch, but I certainly didn’t. This, in and of itself, blew the whole story out of the water, and pushed what I thought to be just a decent read into a higher category for me. I love when I’m floored by the events in books, and this novel definitely left my jaw hanging. Of course, looking back on it, there are so, so many clues throughout, and Marsh even basically admits it at one point, but it went right over my head. Epic.

Basically, what seems to be reality in this novel is just the opposite, and I loved that Casella threw in a little bit of paranormal near the end, because I really thought the story itself was depressing and I was worried for Marsh. Since the accident that killed his twin and left Marsh scarred both inside and out, he’s become an introvert, wishing he could trade places, so sorry for the events and fight prior to the car accident that claimed Austin’s life. He’s lost all his friends, though not for lack of trying on their part; he’s despondent and zones out on many an occasion, and at multiple points in the novel, as he deals with his grief, the reader cannot help but wonder if, perhaps, he’s just crazy.

I really liked that Maddie latched on to Marsh to help him through this extremely difficult time. She has her own dark past as well, though, and watching the two come to trust and help each other was really nice.

Overall, this is a good read. Just remember, not everything is what it seems. Four stars.
4 stars

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

 



13617804From Goodreads: Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.

A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping.

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This is the story of an unlikely relationship that blooms from a bargain.  Dane is a hothead loner from the wrong side of the tracks that hates the world. Billy has down syndrome and just wants to find his father and learn to protect himself. Together, through clues left in an atlas, they begin to decipher the mystery that is Billy’s world, and they end up on some wild adventures, some of which seemed a little far-fetched to me, but then again, I was never the adventurous rebellious type, so I have limited experience when it comes to the run ins these two find themselves in. Honestly, this is a very intriguing story, but I never really connected with either of the characters.

I have to admit I was very intrigued by Billy’s cunning, though. I liked that very much and I feel that Lange works to dispel a lot of stereotypical thoughts through his character, which is great. I also liked the mystery surrounding the atlas, though the final revelation was somewhat disheartening. Of course, novels with their happy endings aren’t the norm in real life, as it were, and I feel like Lange is actually presenting a very real look at life in presenting the truth about Billy’s father.  It’s a little jarring, but one that many readers will probably figure out relatively quickly based on the foreshadowing, but it’s not real for the reader until the final blowout and Billy’s admittance.

Overall, this is a coming of age story, though, in the end, nothing is really resolved, leaving readers with just a small glimmer of hope. I was also left with some questions concerning legalities within the novel, but overall it was a good, clean read. Three stars.

3 stars

Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 3, 2013.



17167166From Goodreads: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

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I am always a little bit wary when reading a sequel to a novel I absolutely adored because I have a fear that it just might not be as epic as the first, and I don’t want a novel to fall short of my expectations.  Fortunately, Maas’ second novel in the Throne of Glass series is just an enticing and kick butt as the first!

This is, truthfully, a fantastic book, and Celaena is once again full of surprises.  And, although the synopsis tells us time and time again that Celaena is an assassin, I guess the nature of her job didn’t really hit me until this novel when we actually see Celaena begin to fulfill her duty and go after people who don’t necessarily deserve to die.  The first time she brought a body part to the king for his inspection, I actually was quite mad at Celaena, but rest assured, there is a rhyme and a reason behind what Celaena is doing, and you won’t be shocked or mad at her for long once she lets you in on her secret.  Readers beware, though, a beloved friend dies in this novel, sparking a darker side of Celaena that we haven’t seen before.  It, too, shocked me just a bit, but I found myself rooting for her the entire way, especially as she uncovers a plot far more sinister then she, or the kingdom, even thought possible. And so it goes, surprise after surprise as you read, and I loved every minute of it.  Especially when Celaena does go after the truly bad guys, showing her advanced training and ruthless nature when appropriate.

There is, of course, a little tiny love triangle, but Prince Dorian is more or less by the wayside, giving Chaol more of a chance to shine in this novel.  But both pine for Celaena, and I loved their many interactions.  It always pleases me to see the softer side of Chaol when he’s with Celeana, and they really are the perfect match.  However, I do love Dorian, too… making this a difficult triangle for me to navigate.  But, when all’s said and done, I think I’m cheering for Chaol, but then again, book three might just make me switch sides.

Full of fantasy of epic proportions, readers learn a lot more in terms of Celaena’s background and birthright, and it’s an exhilarating rollercoaster ride as everything unfolds, clearing up one mystery only to shroud the reader in another. This is definitely one to pick up in the bookstore first thing tomorrow!   Five stars!

5 stars

Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow.


13576618From Goodreads: There’s a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.

I’VE NEVER BEEN THAT GIRL.

Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the Headmaster’s sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster’s ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster’s grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.

YOU KNOW HOW THIS STORY ENDS.

Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make—and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison’s dark and sensuous debut novel, the name “Ophelia” is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as “Hamlet”.

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Though Hamlet is not necessarily my favorite, Dot Hutchison’s A Wounded Name takes a very interesting look at Hamlet from Ophelia’s point-of-view, interspersing some aspects of fantasy in order to give it a little lighter feel when explaining Ophelia’s final choice in the end.  Of course, there are liberties taken and events out of sequence, with Ophelia present for confrontations that she wasn’t present for in the Bard’s play, etc., but overall it’s a good rendition that paints Hamlet in a darker, abusive light, much more so than in the original play, in my opinion.  It does end with Ophelia’s death, but it’s not really a sad occurrence as Ophelia is moving on to what seems like a better place, a place brought up time and time again within the novel, adding elements of fantasy and myth where they weren’t originally, but working very well overall.

To be honest, the only issue I really had with this novel was the back and forth nature of the characters’ language.  At times it was modern, and at others it took on a more archaic feel, and that was jarring for me as a reader.  I really think it should have been all or nothing, and since this is a modern story set in an American boarding school, I would have liked it all to be in modern language instead of morphing back and forth throughout the characters’ discussions.

But overall, A Wounded Name is a good story, and I really enjoyed the element of fantasy that Hutchison added in, especially as the water calls to Ophelia from the very beginning, paving the way for the end.  And, the fact that this novel followed Ophelia, giving readers glimpses into her mind and her actions when she’s technically offstage in the Bard’s play was fascinating for me, especially because I’m always interested to know what the other characters are thinking and feeling when I read a novel.

I plan to recommend this novel to my students as we study Hamlet because it really does follow the play quite well and adds insight in places where the play leaves the reader wondering, and I think this might just make them a little more interested in Shakespeare.  Three stars.

3 stars

Lerner Publishing Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 1, 2013.



17182421From Goodreads: Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time … Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

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I really wanted to like this novel, but it’s rather depressing and, truth be told, I never really made a connection with the characters.  This is a very finely written piece, don’t get me wrong, but my questions were never answered. Why the returned come, what their purpose is, where they go when they disappear… I just don’t know, and that was the main reason I picked up this novel; I wanted to know.

Instead, this novel focuses on the appearance of the dead (not zombies, mind you), and how the world decides to react to such an anomaly.  However, no one has answers, so it’s more or less the blind leading the blind, with some embracing the dead, some detesting it, and others ready to lock them up forever.  Like I said, it’s a very depressing tale. We learn how the government decides to handle it, which isn’t very well, more like the Japanese Internment Camps than anything else, and we get to know characters… only to watch them traverse terrible atrocities and, ultimately, die.  But why they emerged from the earth again, and what their purpose was aside from driving the story, well, I don’t know.

What I did enjoy about the novel, though, was that the chapters break up to follow certain characters, even though it’s told in third person, and we meet new returned and hear their brief stories.  But again, it is all very tragic, and truthfully, I felt somewhat awful upon finishing it; angry with humanity.  But maybe that was the purpose?  People can turn evil, which is shown in this novel in very real sense, and while there are some good people interspersed, I really came out of this with a depressed soul and a feeling of disillusionment with humankind.

Overall, it’s very well written, but such a depressing tale isn’t really my speed. I guess I was hoping for mystery and danger, a sense of horror or something, but that’s not what this novel is about, and it just wasn’t for me. Two stars.

2 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.



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.



17901951From Goodreads: There are two sides to every story. In this dark and sexy companion novel to the New York Times bestseller A Terrible Love, experience the sizzling passion and pulse-pounding suspense through FBI agent Cas Steele’s eyes as he hunts down a psychopath…and falls for the killer’s prey.

Cas has been charged with an unsavory task: manipulate the hauntingly beautiful Jewell MacLeod—a woman he has every reason to hate—and slowly gain her trust in order to use her as bait to lure in a killer. But as the killer draws closer, Cas realizes that he can’t deny the scorching chemistry that ignites between him and Jewell, even if giving into his physical desire for her means jeopardizing his mission…and opening himself up to the possibility of a real and terrible love…

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Have you ever read a novel and wondered what the other main characters were thinking and feeling as the events unfolded on the page of a first-person narrative. Remember Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyers?  That tease of a half-finished manuscript that presented Twilight from Edwards point of view, showing readers where he went when he left Bella’s side; giving inside glimpses into his head and heart?  Remember that?  I nearly died when I got to the last chapter and read that Meyers wouldn’t be completing it because someone leaked it.  It was such a great story and it was my first experience with reading a novel from another character’s perspective, a writing technique that I actually haven’t seen very often.  Sure, I’ve seen authors publish a chapter here or there rewritten from another character’s point-of-view, but not so much in the way of entire novels.

Well, New York Times Bestselling Author Marata Eros (aka. Tamara Rose Blodgett) gives us just that in A Brutal Tenderness, the amazing companion novel to A Terrible Love.  This time, we see the entire story through Cas’ eyes, living his thoughts and feelings alongside him as he takes on Jewell’s case in attempts to flush out a murderer.  And it’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.

I adored A Terrible Love; Eros handles a delicate situation extremely well, and her writing is absolutely phenomenal, gluing the reader to the story one riveting page at a time.  And to be honest, I thought that novel was the end of a wonderful story, and it never crossed my mind to question what Cas was doing when he wasn’t near Jewell, or what he was thinking on a deeper level than what Eros presents readers with in the original novel.  But with A Brutal Tenderness, Eros captivates her readers once again, answering questions I didn’t even know I had, and shining a brighter light on an already wonderful story through the eyes of Cas.

When I first read the synopsis, I didn’t think it was the same story due to the alias that Jewell takes on from the get-go: Jess Mackey.  Though the synopsis sounds similar in both A Terrible Love and A Brutal Tenderness, the use of aliases versus full names in the book blurbs threw me off for just a bit, until I began reading and realized exactly what it was—and I was ecstatic!

One of the aspects that I really loved about this novel is that it casts Cas in a completely different light and his decisions, which irked me often in A Terrible Love, made much more sense and were actually out of love for Jewell as opposed to scorn, like I originally thought throughout much of A Terrible Love.  Likewise, readers are given insight into his reasoning for disliking Jewell so much in the very beginning, showing his emotional breakdowns as they come, and being able to visually see Cas change his tune as he got to know Jewell was a bonus given to readers through this change in perspective.

Eros is a genius, and this novel is, indeed, the perfect companion to A Terrible Love, but make sure you read A Terrible Love first so you don’t ruin any of the surprises.  Five stars.

5 stars

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on August 26, 2013.

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Eros is running an epic giveaway in which you can win the following:

eCopy of A Terrible Love

Galley copy of A Brutal Tenderness

Author swag

New Guess handbag/purse

Trust me, both novels are amazing, and you don’t want to miss out!

To enter this awesome giveaway, click this Rafflecopter Entry Link!

Read my 5 star review of A Terrible Love HERE



coverFrom Goodreads: AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued.

But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

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If you love dystopian, elemental, or steampunk reads, then this is definitely the book for you.  Combining all these genres into one, Megan Curd has created a masterpiece that glues readers to the pages from the very beginning, taking them on a whirlwind journey full of adventure, deceit, mystery, mayhem, and of course, a little swoon-worthy romance as well.

Avery Pike doesn’t know how she got her power to control water.  She doesn’t know what happened to her parents, either.  What she does know is that the government needs her, and they’ve given her a flea infested bed in a run down apartment and an education, which might not sound great, but it’s better than what most of the population gets.  In return, she needs to create steam in order to keep Dome 4 alive.  Fair trade?  Maybe not.  Because Avery’s been kept in the dark for much too long.

Curd drops her readers into the world of Dome 4, populating the pages with riveting descriptions and situations that help make Avery’s world tangible and real.  The corrupt government, the dire living situations, and the intense rules and regulations make the story come alive as readers watch in horror as the powerful abuse the weak.  Thus, it is with open arms that the reader welcomes the appearance of Riggs, a strange man offering Avery a chance for escape and, like Avery, the reader is baited into believing her luck is about to change.  But trading one prison for another isn’t what she expected.  And as it turns out… nothing is as it seems in this novel.

Enter Jaxon, dear, sweet, Jaxon.  It took me a little while to warm up to his pompous nature in the beginning, although his wit and clever banter made me snicker and fall for him quite quickly.  It is also because Curd expertly unveils his true inner soul as we get to know him, and it becomes clear that his hard external self-important demeanor is actually only a cover for a much deeper scar that lies beneath his put-together frame.  The fact that his father, Riggs, has never treated him with any amount of dignity is part of the problem.  The vast tests, pricks, and prods he endured as a child makes up the other part.  And yet, he is truly a loving young man who, though suffering through multiple ordeals as a child, has turned out to be one fine young gentleman. And a swoon-worthy one at that.

Honestly, all the characters in this novel are exceptionally well developed, and I loved that Avery is a strong willed female lead who doesn’t need a man to take care of her.  Her loyalty to her friends, Alice and Legs, also makes her an exceptional and likable character, and her sheer will power makes her a force to be reckoned with.  Though both Alice and Legs struggle a bit in the story, especially with coming to terms with some rather disheartening events, their struggles show their depth, and Curd has done a phenomenal job fleshing out these side characters.  What I love the most is that there are absolutely no flat characters in this novel—everyone changes, in some way, and that takes talent.

Curd also keeps this novel relatively clean, making it the perfect recommendation to give to readers of all ages, but especially YA and, in my case, my students.  With both a strong female and male lead, this book isn’t just for girls, and with it’s unbiased, yet beautiful cover, I expect to see this one eaten up by readers male and female alike.  Five stars.

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

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chair hdr2_______________________________________________________________________________

EXCERPT:

JaxonA hand grasped my shoulder.

“Jesus!”

“Nope, Jaxon. Although, I can understand why you’d confuse the two of us.”

I clutched my chest and felt my heart threatening to pound its way out.

He didn’t show his usual conceited visage. His cheeks were flushed, giving him a much younger appearance. His head was turned downward, but his eyes held mine. “Can I borrow you?”

“I have people in line before you. I can pencil you in around midnight.”

He didn’t flinch. “Then midnight it is.”

“Are you kidding?”

“I never joke about midnight rendezvouses with fiery beauties.”

“You’re a torrent of sarcasm.”

“That’s vastly different than kidding. Kidding is frivolity, and I am not frivol. Is that even a word? If it isn’t, insert something else—serious…brooding, perhaps?” He turned to the side and stroked his chin. “Does this look brooding to you? Wait, don’t look. You’re over your five minute ogling allotment.”

“You do know that sarcasm is the refuge for a shallow mind, right?”

“Depth is irrelevant when you can’t find the lake, my dear.”

I opened and closed my mouth, unable to think of a comeback. He always one-upped me. One day I’d come up with something. I’d start writing comebacks down to practice for when the occasion arose.  Because that’s not lame at all.

Book Links

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Steel-Lily-Periodic-Series-ebook/dp/B00EH0DF8S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376335474&sr=8-1&keywords=steel+lily+curd

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17828413-steel-lily

Author’s Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Curd/e/B0054LTV3M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1375839802&sr=8-1

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Guest Post: This or ThatFrom Jaxon’s POV

Vanilla or chocolate? ::grins:: well, you know you could have both if you go with me. Why choose one or the other when you can have both?

Edward or Jacob? Say what? Who? How about Jaxon? I’m right here, and they don’t have dreads. Or, can I pick from girls? ::dodges Avery’s death stare:: Okay. I pick Avery. I mean, it’s not like Katniss’s deadly aim with a bow and arrow is all that appealing…I’ll take death by Elementalist any day. ::Pats Avery’s leg::

Hockey or soccer? Football. I’m making my own option. Don’t worry, I do it all the time. ::smiles::

Ebook or paper? Paper. I love the feel of a book in my hands. Plus, without much power, the eBook wouldn’t last that long, now would it?

Salty or sweet? Salty. I’m the sweets anyone needs. ::winks::

Beach or mountains? Mountains. I want to camp and see wildlife. I want to see trees and wake up to a real sunrise. Someday, maybe that can happen.

Phone call or email? Neither. I want to see people in person!

Early bird or night owl? Night owl. I do some of my best work at night. ::looks over and winks at Avery:: Get your mind out of the gutter. I meant real work!

Dog or cat? Cat. They’ve got minds of their own, and I can respect that.

Messy or neat? ::points to dreads and shakes head:: Do these look neat to you? I like a bit of disorder in my life. Makes more sense to me.

Ninjas or pirates? Well ninjas, obviously. I have my own ninja! ::nudges Avery::

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meganAbout the Author:

Megan Curd is a graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While having always enjoyed reading any books she could get her hands on, Megan didn’t begin writing until a friend encouraged her to do so while in college.

When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to snowboard and travel to new places, and doesn’t turn down the opportunity to play xBox with her brother and friends when it presents itself.

Megan currently resides in Stanton, Kentucky with her husband, son, and Great Dane named Dozer.

Top Ten Books on TBR

1.)  Prodigy by Marie Lu

2.)  Allegiant by Veronica Roth

3.)  This Wicked Game by Michelle Zink

4.)  Raksha by Frankie Rose

5.)  Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

6.)  Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

7.)  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

8.)  Splintered by A.G. Howard

9.)  Enemy Within by Angeline Kace

10.) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

LINKS:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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mail.google.com

And now for the Giveaway:

What you can win:

GRAND PRIZE: 1 Steel Lily T-Shirt, Autographed Steel Lily book, & bookmarks

3 Runner-Ups: Autographed Steel Lily books & bookmarks

5 Runner-Ups: eCopies of Steel Lily

Click the Rafflecopter Link to Enter!

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