Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











The Forgotten OnesFrom Goodreads: Allison O’Malley’s plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she’s been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison’s mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn’t trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother’s sanity.

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If you love stories that involve mythology, then The Forgotten Ones is definitely for you. Howard brings to life the mythology of Ireland in this enticing story, with The Tuatha De Danaana taking forefront, a sect I knew nothing about going in, but learned so much about throughout the story.

The Tuatha De Danaana means “People of the goddess Danu” in English, and Howard’s story mixes these gods and goddesses in with the fae, creating an intricate story of otherworlds while focusing on Allison’s fight to save her mother.

Pregnant and suffering with schizophrenia upon her return from Ireland, Allison’s mother has never really been there for her save a few years when she was very little. Seeing the burden both she has her mother have placed on Allison’s grandparents, Allison has vowed to so everything in her power to take over the care of her mother, and that means forgoing her own wants and needs in the process. Selfless and driven by a sheer sense of protection, Allison will stop at nothing to protect her mother, and all those she loves, making for an intense novel as the Danaana and Fae make themselves know, and Allison is sucked into the world—a world that could easily kill her.

I really enjoyed the characterization of this novel. Allison is no wimp, and though hard pressed to believe the stories her long-lost father spins, seeing is believing, and she soon accepts the truth for what it is. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, first warding off the man I believe to have broken my mother’s soul, and then joining him on an adventure through perilous worlds, against tricky fae and gods and goddesses in hopes of saving my loved ones. Part of my thinks I would be up for the challenge, but the better half of my thinks I would run away and hide…

Howard is a great writer, and the story itself was interesting and action packed, and I really enjoyed it overall. With some awesome twits and turns, this novel is sure to keep readers glued to the pages. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

Amazon | Kindle ($2.99) | Barnes and Noble

 



SunriseFrom Goodreads: The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors’ constant companions.

When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.

This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.
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This is the third and final installment in the Ashfall series, and while I do really like it, part of me is left wanting. Years pass by in this novel, and while it’s great to be back together with Alex and Darla—I do love them—I almost feel like not much happens in this final installment.

Yes, there are deaths. Within the first few pages, one character I really cared for died, but s/he was more so a minor character, so in the realm of things, my heart wasn’t broken for too long. In the greater spectrum of things, I feel like there was more of a rollercoaster effect in books one and two, and I was holding my breath a lot as I read those novels, but that didn’t happen as much in this third installment. Everything just tends to work out in the favor of the main characters from beginning to end, and while there is one scene that made me really cringe, again, Alex and Darla ultimately come out of it stronger than before.

This novel read more as a nice litter wrap-up, complete with bow on top, instead of an intense battle for survival, and I just felt like it all went too quickly and without too many hitches. At one point, Darla and Alex do the same thing four times, and each time they get away scott-free. Of course, the next time, they aren’t as lucky, but by that point, the build-up and let down had happened so many times that I didn’t really connect anymore.

I feel like this sort of sounds like I wanted the main characters to suffer more; that’s not the case at all–I’m glad life is finally working out for them, but with all the risks they’re taking (and not taking), it just felt like more should be happening. Instead, Mullin spends much time explaining the complicated green house and heating system that they’ve created, and that didn’t really pique my interest.

Of course, I hold some intense animosity for characters like Red, Petty, and Alex’s mom, but in the end, it’s all resolved very neatly… and yet, there really is no end. But in truth, could there really be an end? I don’t know that I’d be satisfied if everything was suddenly okay—if the ash had suddenly disappeared and life began to go back to normal, I don’t think I would have been satisfied, either. But the way Mullin leaves it opens everything to speculation more than anything else, and those endings aren’t really my favorite.

All in all, this series is really good; books one and two, Ashfall and Ashen Winter, captivated me and I fell in love with them from the get go, but this final installment left me wanting. Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Tanglewood Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on April 15, 2014.

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.



et cetera
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