Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











StrongerFrom Goodreads: Two men are vying for a place in Lydia Strong’s life. Desmond has solid ties from her distant past, while Aiden is only concerned about being her future. But right now, party-girl Lydia has lost herself in a shot glass and dozens of one night stands. She’s forgotten her own worth and she’s plummeting toward the rock bottom of her life. While Des and Aiden compete to create her future, Lydia realizes she’s got to be stronger than she’s ever been, to fight her addictions and choose the life she wants now. She must find herself again, before the wrong man walks away.

____________________________________________________

Welcome to the riveting world of Lydia Strong, a woman spiraling down the wells of addiction. A novel completely unique and jarring, in amazing ways, Stronger pulls readers in, making Provencher’s tantalizing story the readers’ own addiction. Definitely one of my top ten reads of the year, Stronger is an extremely real, well written story that is not to be missed. Intense, passionate, real; this novel will leave readers breathless as it unfolds.

Certainly a read for the more mature crowds, this NA novel tackles topics such as abuse, self-worth, alcoholism, theft, and manipulation. It’s intense, but it’s Oh. So. Good. I was wrapped up in the story and truly felt like I was a part of it as I watched Lydia slowly fall to pieces, searching out one night stands (not too graphic on the sexual escapades) and alcohol to try and put the truth of her heartbreaking, loveless life behind her. Manipulated and at rock bottom, Lydia has much to overcome in order to begin building up her world once more, and that includes separating herself from the worst sort of abuser and allowing herself to love, live, and take control. But in order to do that, she’s got to love herself, first.

This is an amazingly intense novel that I absolutely adore. Provencher has done a fantastic job creating vivid, real characters and situations, and I highly suggest giving this one a read. I was a little concerned it might not be my cup of tea going in, but Provencher soon quelled my fears as this utterly fantastic novel unfolded. Be prepared for a slew of feels as this novel takes you on an amazing journey. It’s so perfectly written that you will fall deeply in love, just as I did. Five epic stars.

5 stars

I received this novel as a gift from my friend Lisa M. Ammari and was lucky enough to meet Misty Provencher this past weekend and purchase a signed copy for my reading shelf.

Amazon | Kindle (only $3.99) | Barnes and Noble

Advertisements


We Were LiarsFrom Goodreads:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

___________________________________________________________

While the premise behind this novel is indeed very good, I personally found it a bit slow. The main character, Cady, jumps between flashbacks and the present, which is usually one of my favorite types of writing styles, but this time, it fell a bit flat for me. I really just felt like this was a story about some cousins who visit an island every summer, only to watch their parents fight with one another over money and other superficial things. The story itself didn’t really move, and while the kids are friendly and they have a few fun excursions, I must have completely missed the segment that explained how, exactly, they were known as the liars—they didn’t seem to do anything, let alone talk to one another.

Gat is a friend of the family and soon becomes Cady’s crush, but there is no development there aside from her pining for a boy she can’t have, so the romance aspect was a little bit of a bust for me as well. Truthfully, I could have done without it, since it didn’t go anywhere, and much of the grumbling on Cady’s behalf became monotonous fairly quickly for me. In terms of characterization, Cady isn’t a character I like, and though not much time was spent on the other characters, I didn’t really care for them either. Because of this, I think I struggled a little more than usual trying to connect with the character, and hence, I wasn’t a fan of the story overall.

The last few pages of the novel reveal a surprise I didn’t see coming, and I liked it very much, but by that point the novel was basically over, so it was a short-lived revelation for me. I think, had the novel had a little more action and characters that meant something to me, I would have enjoyed this story so much more, but as it is, it just isn’t for me. However, a lot of my friends absolutely loved this novel, so I highly suggest you check out other reviews and give it a try because I may be the odd man out on this one. As is, though, I can only give it two and a half stars.

2.5 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Random House Children’s and Delacorte Press have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble



16000436From Goodreads: Worst. Summer. Ever.

Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper’s sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries.

Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Face with the horror of a soul-eating boohag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.

_________________________________________________________

The tables have turned in this sequel to Conjure, and though one curse was broken, another looms on the horizon, one thats potential to wreak havoc threatens not only Cooper, but Emma and Jack as well.  Everything is nearly right with the world again now that Jack is finally back to his caring, loving self, however there’s another curse to break, and suddenly, Cooper isn’t acting like himself.  In truth, Nolan replaced my hate for Jack with my hate for Cooper in this sequel, and it seems there truly is no break for Emma from the mental and verbal abuse she endures, first in Conjure, and now in Allure.

In my opinion, Emma is too good of a person, and whereas I wanted her to leave Jack by the wayside in book one, I was even more desperate for Emma to leave Cooper by the wayside in book two. However, with a heart of gold and a love stronger than her hate, Emma works desperately to break Cooper’s curse.  She’s a much better person than I, that’s for sure, but, while Cooper is a jerk, the difference between Jack’s curse and Cooper’s is that this time, it’s obviously not Cooper’s fault he’s acting this way. Unfortunately, I’m not that forgiving and, fault or not, his actions still hurt, A LOT, so I desperately wanted Emma to leave Cooper in the dust, curse and all. However, some very interesting facts come out about this curse later on in the novel, and it’s not just the Beaumont’s that it effects, but also Emma and Jack, unbeknownst to them, and this makes the race against time a fun one for the reader, especially with the revelation of the boohag…

While a majority of this novel was much more predictable for me than the first one, I think it was meant to be written this way in order to add shock value for the reader later on, because all at once the reader is blindsided by some events that, I, at least, never saw coming. And, these events added an extra air of awesome for me as a reader, especially because it includes some magical forms that I’ve never thought about or read about in any other novels, which is epic.

There are a number of characters in this novel that we love to hate, and with the events unfurling, it becomes obvious that there is more evil present in this novel than readers initially knew going in. While there is a resolution of sorts in this novel, an even bigger allusion to events to come is looming overhead, and I can’t wait to read the next installment! Four stars.5 stars

Entangled Publishing, LLC has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow, October 1, 2013.

Conjure (#1)

Allure (#2)



13425130From Goodreads: Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.

___________________________________________________

This past Spring, I went to a book festival in my area and had the pleasure of listening to Lea Nolan speak on a panel.  Up until that point, I had never head of Nolan, but as she spoke, and then read a snippet from her novel, Conjure, I knew I had to read this book, especially as it dealt with magic, mystery, and a curse that eats the flesh right off the bone.  Sound intriguing?  It is.

This novel follows the adventures of Emma, Jack, and Cooper as they attempt to break a 300-year-old curse that, until recently, they didn’t even know existed.

With the appearance of a beautiful young woman, Magnolia, everything changes for the teens, including Jack’s easy going disposition. As a reader, I really enjoyed the lore behind the curse, and the teens’ attempts to find it, however, Jack quickly moved onto my “hate list” as he began to whine and rage against everyone accept Maggie. For me, it was hard to know whether his change was due to the influence of Maggie or if this was his true character since he changed very early on in the novel, and it think this is one of the reasons that I truly hated him so much.  Not only is he degrading and nasty to his sister and best friend, the two people trying to help him, but he is self-centered, and this is just not endearing by any means.  However, as the story continued, I realized that an outside force had to be making Jack act this way, but as Nolan shields the truth behind it from the reader quite well, it’s virtually impossible to not hate him throughout much of the novel.

Once the curse took hold, dissolving Jack’s flesh from his skin in increments, I really wanted to say good riddance because his words and actions prior had been so hurtful, and he only gets worse as the novel continues.  Yet, both Emma and Cooper prove to be better than I, and with the understanding that Jack will die when the curse finally takes his last piece of flesh, the clock to stop the curse begins ticking.  And this, in my opinion, is where the novel really begins to take flight.  With the introduction of Miss Delia, the hoodoo apprenticeship begins, and readers are brought into a completely different world full of Gullah traditions and beliefs.  This was extremely eye opening and I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel, especially as sweet Emma works so hard to save her whiny, irritating twin, Jack.  Throw in some extremely large black dogs made of pure evil, and a second curse threatening the life of Emma’s love, Cooper, and the novel becomes one of many twists and turns that keep the reader glued to the pages.

What I really liked about this novel was that there were many different events happening, but Nolan worked to explain them and bring about a resolution before moving on to the next big issue.  While the reader initially believes this novel is all about saving Jack, and much time is devoted to this difficult task, this isn’t the only obstacle staring the teens in the face.  Cooper also has a curse, but Nolan waits to focus on this aspect until the time is right, creating a roller coaster effect for readers, without the whiplash.  There is triumph, and there are letdowns in this novel, which makes it all the more real as the fate of Emma’s family and one true love are in her hands, and I loved how the novel continually picked up speed, paving the way for the sequel, Allure.  Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel at a book festival.

Conjure (#1)

Allure (#2)



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.

_________________________________________________

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
%d bloggers like this: