Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Now a major motion picture, If I Stay by Gayle Forman is the haunting tale of a young woman faced with an impossible decision.

On a day that started like any other, Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

@Goodreads - @Amazon

First and foremost, ignore that little statement USA Today made on the cover stating that this will appeal to fans of Twilight.  Not that it won't (it very well might), but a statement like that might make the reader think that this novel is comparable to Twilight.  It is not.  If anything, I'd compare this novel to The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, as it is written in an out-of-body perspective.  

The novel opens with a horrific, fatal car crash.  Mia, the protagonist, finds herself outside of her body, which is badly injured and lying in a ditch, thrown from the car -- brain contusions, broken bones, internal injuries, you name it.  She finds the bodies of her parents first, dead and horribly mangled.  Her little brother, Teddy, is missing from the scene, likely thrown from the car as well.  She watches as emergency medical workers clear the scene and transport her body to a local trauma center.  

Throughout the mayhem, Mia has a series of flashbacks about her life leading up to the crash.  The reader meets her family, her best friend, Kim, and her boyfriend, Adam.  Mia is an accomplished classical cellist on the road to Juilliard, with the most amazing, loving family imaginable.  Her parents are (I feel like an idiot for saying this) "hip", open-minded, tattooed, and just cool.  Her little brother, Teddy, is adorably sweet and funny.  Adam, her boyfriend, is hot and in a band.  

In between flashbacks, Mia watches over her friends and family in the hospital, also noting her progress.  She is in a coma, in critical condition.  She has grievous injuries, including some that happened post-accident, during her emergency surgery.  Mia learns from the way hospital personnel act towards her body that she may actually have a choice as to if she lives or dies.  

This was a really good, poignant novel, but I do have a few problems with it.  Firstly, it was a bit on the short side, weighing in at only a little more than 200 pages.  (Note: The Kindle version of this novel ends at 79%, which was a bit of a disappointment, because the end is naturally abrupt on its own.) Anyway, because the novel was so short, the characterization suffered a bit, and the love story between Mia and Adam felt a bit forced.   I did not believe in their love.  I did believe in Mia's immediate family, however.  I felt the loss of her parents and brother profoundly.  I felt the love from her extended family, as they visited her in the hospital after the accident.  But I did not feel anything for Adam, and I believe I was supposed to.   However, I'm old and jaded, and I know a love like theirs can turn sour on a dime.  They're teenagers.  He's in a band.  If Mia died, Adam would be getting laid on the regular in two weeks.  Meh.

This novel makes you think what you would do in Mia's situation.  I won't tell you if Mia decides to stay or go, but if I were Mia, I think I would have let go.  

(Actual rating 3.5)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Currently a New York Times bestselling novelist, Liane Moriarty, author of The Husband's Secret, spins a new tale about secrets, lies, friendship, and schoolyard scandals.
Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads: Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?)

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
@Goodreads - @Amazon

A murder.  Maybe.  The blurb says there might have been a murder.  Or maybe an accident?  Does someone die?  Who dies?

Well, I'm not going to tell you who dies, or if it was a murder, an accident, or just parents behaving badly.  But I will tell you that you won't know who dies until, well, they die.  At the very end of the novel.

The book opens with something happening at an elementary school.  We have no idea what happened, only that something did, and we only know that is was something major because the blurb tells us that someone dies.  It's very unclear what happens in the beginning; we are told there is a scuffle of sorts witnessed by an elderly lady with a cat named Marie Antoniette (let them eat cake) in the very beginning.  Then the novel takes us back six months and introduces us to entirely new characters.  Bye, old lady.  Hello, three 30-something ladies.

The author tells us just enough to pique our curiosity early on.  One of the characters may have a psychotic monster child.  Another may be a victim of domestic abuse.  But the question still remains -- WHO DIES?  (And should we care?)

The novel is well-written, with relatable, although slightly clichéd characters, but it's the schoolyard scandal (read: kindergarten politics) that killed it for me.  I lost interest about halfway through the novel, but pressed on, because, well -- WHO DIES?

The ending is actually very good -- there are some twists that you will probably see coming, but the slow build-up was worth it.  I gobbled up the last quarter of the novel greedily; once it got good, it was very good.  

This book will be well received by women ages 25-45 with elementary school children.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

From acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell comes Landline, a new novel about an estranged couple and the magic phone that reconnects them at a critical point in their relationship.  Rainbow Rowell is famous for her earlier young adult fiction, Fangirl and the greatly beloved Eleanor & Park.

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened? @Goodreads - @Amazon
Pros: Cute cover!
Cons: Everything else.

It's not that Landline was a bad read; it just wasn't great. I went into this thinking that it was going to another epic, soul-punching romance like Eleanor & Park. It wasn't. The idea of the novel was cute -- a magical telephone that connects an unhappily married couple -- but the execution left much to be desired. First and foremost, the protagonist's name: Georgie McCool. That name mcsucks. It fits the cheesy theme of the novel, however.

Georgie herself did nothing for me, nor did any other character in the book. Neal, the husband, a short, fat guy, really did nothing for me, and I found myself rooting against their marriage. In the flashbacks prior to when Neal and Georgie married, when they were supposedly in love, they had no chemistry. Their relationship just never felt right.

Georgie and Neal have kids, but they are hardly worth mentioning. Neal is a stay-at-home dad while Georgie writes for TV sitcoms -- think Liz Lemon, but without the personality. Throughout the duration of the novel, the children are with Neal visiting relatives for Christmas, and Georgie hardly ever gives them a thought.

So blah blah blah, Georgie finds a magic phone that allows her present day self to talk to Neal before they got married, when they were in a big fight. Blah blah blah, Georgie has to make a decision: Now that she knows her marriage is shit, should she break up with Neal in the past so that they never get married?!

....No mother would ever consider a choice like that if she was given the option. Neal wasn't abusive physically or emotionally; he was unhappy because Georgie worked insane hours, never got time off, and he had to raise the kids pretty much exclusively. Georgie, on the other hand, was content aside from the fact that she knew Neal was unhappy. So for her to give any thought to breaking up with Neal in the past and thus not having kids with him is far-fetched and ridiculous.

I realize this novel is about a magic phone, which is far-fetched and ridiculous in itself, but that should have been the only thing far-fetched and ridiculous in the novel.  That way the reader could connect to it somehow, someway.  In theory.

The majority of my issues with this novel were due to Georgie and her utter lack of emotion towards her children.  It wasn't realistic, and really makes me think that Rainbow Rowell has never had children, because she does not appear to understand the type of bond a mother has with her child.  Not even close.  Because of this, I felt that Landline read more like a young adult novel, because young adults would be less apt to be bothered over the lack of a mother-child bond than say... a woman that has had a child.

Do Georgie and Neal end up staying together?  Who cares.  Read Eleanor & Park instead.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie is an adult novel that promises a fresh take on the apocalypse genre where children are dying, and then rising from their graves shortly thereafter, hungry only for blood.  It is marketed as horror novel that aims to pose the question: how far would YOU go for your children?

(Hi, everyone!  I'm back, finally.  I spent the last month busy with moving (packing and unpacking) in addition to work, of course.   We now have a fenced in yard for our dogs!  I'm so happy!)

 From an acclaimed horror writer, a chilling tale of blood-hungry children who rise from the dead in this innovative spin on apocalyptic vampire fiction.

Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod's Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were...but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to 
bring your child back?   

There was just so much I did not like about Suffer the Children.  I think part of the reason I pushed through it was due to the utter ridiculousness of the plot;  I had to see where that train was going to take me.  It took me fucking nowhere, that's where it took me.

So there's some disease that affects only children.  It sweeps the globe within a matter of hours, and causes all children in any given area to just immediately drop dead.  At the same time.  In unison.  Because that's how viruses work.  That is problem number one, and it's a big one.  That's just stupid.  I understand that the author didn't want to go into this aspect of the plot, but go just explain the death of every child under puberty on the planet in like one page is just not acceptable.  

The story is told in the perspective of several different characters that are all connected in some way, over the span of a few months.  The premise is as I described; all children die at exactly the same time, defying everything we know about science, and then rise from their graves a few days later, only to go into a waking sleep.  It's quickly discovered that the children are hungry for blood, and parents all over the world begin bleeding themselves to feed their children.  Once fed, any decomposition is immediately gone, and the children are their happy old selves.  But their children only stay awake for 1 hour per pint of blood.  Exactly one hour, down to the minute.  Science.  Then they die again, decompose, cycle repeat.  After a short time, parents are weak and bled out.  They need to find a blood source to sustain their children, if only for just a little each day.  BUT HOW?!

Now I know this entire story is extremely far-fetched, so you may be wondering why I question the science in a vampire book.  Well, simply put, when said vampire book has non-existent characterization, overall lack of anything happening at all, and with very little of the horror promised (aside from some ridiculous decisions the  parents in this nonsense faced), you tend to be a little picky. Would a more complex plot describing the slower and believable death of all children have made the novel better?  Probably not, but it would have made it a lot less ridiculous.  At least to me.

Slow throughout, with a slightly faster-paced ending, I unfortunately was not impressed at all with Suffer the Children; actual rating 1.5 stars.  

Please note:  This title was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher.  

Expected date of publication: May 20, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

There are simply... no words I can use to describe Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.  At least none that would do the novel any kind of justice.  It tackles a subject matter that is extremely difficult to read about, and even more so to talk about:  incest.

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.         @Goodreads

I actually finished this book well over a week ago, but could not bring myself to write a review on it.  What can I say?  How can I review a book that affected me so profoundly?  I just couldn't.  I still can't.  And honestly, the less the reader knows going in to the novel, the better.

“I think I’m going to die from happiness. I think I’m going to die from pain.” 

So, yeah, incest.  I was a bit worried about that delicate subject when I first came across this novel.  It sickened me.  I did not want to read it.  But I did, anyway, and I'm so glad; Forbidden sucked me in, and spit me out.

Am I okay with incest now?  No.  But I believe in Lochan and Maya's love.  Although taboo, yes, it was beautiful, and it was pure.  And yes, I rooted for them, I did.

This is not a book for everyone.  If you do not like reading about star-crossed lovers, you will not like this novel.  If you require a happy ending, do not read this novel.  And lastly, if you require to have coherent thoughts about a novel, skip this.  This book, if nothing else, will make you feel, and it will make you hurt.  You may not be able to articulate your feelings into words, much like me, but they are there nonetheless.  And even if you hate this novel, which you very well may, it will stay with you.  Highly recommended, and now one of my all-time favorites.

Review: In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy #1) by Maya Banks

In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy #1) by Maya Banks is a Scottish Highlander historical romance novel, very reminiscent of earlier works done by Julie Garwood.  While a quick, rainy day read, In Bed with a Highlander does not add anything new to the genre.

Maya Banks' beguiling new trilogy features three unforgettable brothers risking everything to save their clan and their legacy—and to surrender their hearts to love.

Ewan McCabe, the eldest, is a warrior determined to vanquish his enemy. Now, with the time ripe for battle, his men are ready and Ewan is poised to take back what is his—until a blue-eyed, raven-haired temptress is thrust upon him. Mairin may be the salvation of Ewan's clan, but for a man who dreams only of revenge, matters of the heart are strange territory to conquer.

The illegitimate daughter of the king, Mairin possesses prized property that has made her a pawn—and wary of love. Her worst fears are realized when she is rescued from peril only to be forced into marriage by her charismatic and commanding savior, Ewan McCabe. But her attraction to her ruggedly powerful new husband makes her crave his surprisingly tender touch; her body comes alive under his sensual mastery. And as war draws near, Mairin's strength, spirit, and passion challenge Ewan to conquer his demons—and embrace a love that means more than revenge and land.    @Goodreads

It's been years since I've read any of Julie Garwood's historical novels, so I unfortunately cannot do a side-by-side comparison.  What I can say, though, is that if I didn't know who had written In Bed with a Highlander, I would have thought Julie Garwood had, maybe when she was sick with the flu, or experiencing writer's block or something.

Bottom line is this:  If you have not read any of Julie Garwood's Scottish historical romances, stop, and read those, instead.  If you have read Julie Garwood's Scottish historical romances, stop, and re-read those instead.  While the writing styles are indeed similar, Julie Garwood mastered the genre that Maya Banks is tentatively stepping in to.

If you do not know much about Scottish history, of clans, lairds, highlanders, and lowlanders, you're not going to learn much here. Going in to this book, the author seems to have expected everyone to have at least a basic understanding of medieval Scotland.  In truth, the "historical" aspect of the novel is lacking.

What's not lacking is instant love.  Aye, both characters fall in love very quickly, after an instant, powerful attraction.  And the end... was just not great.

Review: Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey

Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey is a staple in the historical romance genre; originally published back in 1991, it has not lost any of its steam, and is still regarded to be one of the best of its kind.  Warning:  It is quite rapey.


Spirited Rowena Belleme must produce an heir--or incur the dangerous wrath of a ruthless stepbrother, who stands to forfeit his ill-gotten wealth. And the magnificent Warrick deChaville is the perfect choice to sire her child--though it means imprisoning the handsome knight...and forcing him to bend to her amorous whims.


Vowing to resist but betrayed by his own virility, noble Warrick is intoxicated by Rowena's sapphire eyes and voluptuous beauty. Yet all the while he plans a fitting revenge--eagerly awaiting the time when his sensuous captor becomes his helpless captive ... and is made to suffer the same rapturous torment and exquisite ecstasy that he himself has endured.

In my teenage years, I absolutely loved historical romances.  I've read everything the masters in the genre, like Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and Jude Deveraux, have published.  I have never read anything by Johanna Lindsey, though, and even though I am not really into historical romances as I once was, the rape warning was what had me wanting to read this.

In an overly complicated series of events that I skimmed through (the beginning was a bit slow, to say the least), Lady Rowena is forced to marry an older man at her step-brother's insistence.  She is to become pregnant with a male heir post haste.  Unfortunately, her husband dies on her wedding night.  Rowena's step-brother then decides to capture a man that resembles her deceased husband somewhat, so she can be impregnated before they release the news of her husband's untimely demise.

Enter Warrick deChaville, a man mistaken for a peasant, that happens to be a knight.  Rowena is forced to "rape" him repeatedly.  After doing so several times, Rowena feels badly, and arranges for her captor to escape.  Escape he does, but he comes back soon to imprison Lady Rowena herself.  She spends time getting raped in retaliation, and made into a servant at Warrick's estate.  Blah blah blah, they fall in love, blah blah blah.

The good:  I feel like a lecherous twat for saying this, but... the rape scenes were hot.  They weren't overly rapey or brutal; they were more of a shameful experience for the rapee, as their body betrays them and longs for the rapist's touch.

The not-so-good:  Who falls in love with their rapist?  Also, the writing was overly wordy, the and beginning was riddled with non-important details, resulting in a very slow read for me.  2.5 stars.  If you're looking for some great historical romances, I'd skip this one, unless you, too, are intrigued by those rape scenes, you weirdo.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1) by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is the dark and grisly re-telling of a classic, and the first in a new young adult series. Set in the magical land of Oz, but not the Oz we know; this Oz is devastated and bleak, and looks like a nuclear wasteland.  What happened, you ask?  Dorothy happened.

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

I'll be honest; I have never read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, but I'm familiar with the movie.  Very familiar.  Crazily obsessed at a young age, and watched it every day familiar.  Fans of the classic will likely enjoy this novel, but you do not need to be a fan to like this re-telling.  It is dark, sinister, violent, and sad.  The world of L. Frank Baum that Danielle Paige tweaks is powerfully told, completely different, yet somehow eerily familiar.

This story was really good; I rate it at 3.5 stars because, although very rich and imaginative, it dragged in the middle for me.  Gobble up this novel, I did not.  It took me several days longer than normal to read.

The premise of the novel is great; Amy arrives in Oz much like Dorothy originally did in the classic novel -- via a tornado and magic.  However, she does not arrive to the same Oz Dorothy did so many years before.  No, this Oz looks like a wasteland.  The only thing that is the same is the fabled yellow brick road.

Blah blah blah, Amy travels down the road, meeting people along the way, which makes the novel have a very Wizard of Oz feel.  She eventually meets Dorothy (who is a great character in this re-telling, incidentally), who throws her in prison when she learns that Amy came to Oz in the very same way she herself did.  Dorothy feels threatened, and must eliminate anything that stands in her way.

See, when Dorothy came back to Oz, she became corrupted by magic.  Through a series of events, she was able to climb to the top and reign over all the land, hoarding magic and punishing anyone that double-crossed her heinously.  Very fucking heinously.

(The other major characters from the franchise are also in this novel, and they are also rather amazing villains, especially the Tin Woodman.  Again, I cannot stress how vile and terrible the villains are in this novel -- you'll have to read it for yourself.)

Amy eventually escapes from prison with the help of a group of people, the Order, that are united under one goal:  to kill Dorothy, at any cost.

Amy... was flat, for me.  She was what most people would consider a kick-ass heroine, but she reminded me very much of Tris from the Divergent series, who I didn't really like.  If you liked Tris, I really think you'll like Amy.  There is also slowly developing love interest, a boy from the Order she joins, named Nox, who also did nothing for me.  This is the first novel in the series, however, so perhaps I will grow to like both characters in the subsequent books.

Overall, I highly enjoyed Dorothy Must Die except for the problems I detailed; the beginning and end were very good, but the story lulled in the middle when Amy trained with the Order.

Published April 1st 2014 by HarperTeen

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: The Magpies by Mark Edwards

The Magpies by Mark Edwards is one of those books that I had on my Kindle for months, without really knowing why, but I blame marijuana as the culprit.  It is a psychological thriller featuring a newly married couple and their neighbors from hell.

When Jamie and Kirsty move into their first home together they are full of optimism. The future, in which they plan to get married and start a family, is bright. The other residents of their building seem friendly too: the horror writer and the middle-aged herbalist who live upstairs, and the Newtons, a married couple who welcome them to the building with open arms.

At first, the two couples get on well. But then strange things start to happen. Dead rats are left on their doorstep. They hear disturbing noises, and much worse, in the night. After Jamie's best friend is injured in a horrific accident, Jamie and Kirsty find themselves targeted by a campaign of terror.

As Jamie and Kirsty are driven to the edge of despair, Jamie vows to fight back – but he has no idea what he is really up against…

THE MAGPIES is a terrifying psychological thriller in which the monsters are not vampires or demons but the people we live next door to. It is a nightmare that could happen to anyone.                                                                                                    @Goodreads
Unfortunately, psychological thrillers like this are a dime a dozen, and The Magpies does little to stand apart from other works in the genre. Jamie and Kirsty just moved into the apartment of their dreams, but everything is not as they imagined it would be; they seem to be living under the couple from hell.  Shortly after moving in, pranks start happening:  dead rats on their door step, the fire department being called when there was no fire, pizza being delivered to their house when they did not order it, et cetera.

Then, they start receiving notes from their neighbors, telling them that they have sex too loudly, and even one time enclosing a recording of them having sex that they had apparently taped.  Creepy, yes, but then the creepiness factor kind of sputters out, and nothing of consequence happens for entirely too long.

At the end, Kirsty wants to sell the apartment, but her husband has developed a Jack Torrence-like obsession with staying, regardless of personal cost, and even tries to hire a hit man to teach the neighbors a lesson.  He has a lackluster little show-off against the neighbors, burns the place down, and that's that.  The end.

Overall, not the worst I've read, but nothing that will stand out in my mind in a couple weeks time.  Decent, but not great.  And the sex scenes were just awkward.

Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Although I am typically not a fan of the new adult genre (no real reason -- my old ass just can't relate), I had read Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, and loved the last half of it.  Maybe Someday wasn't a bad read at all -- in fact, I quite enjoyed it -- but I had some major problems with the plot and characters.

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

The novel opens right after Sydney finds out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her longtime friend and roommate, courtesy of the hot guy she's been watching play guitar from her balcony in the evenings.   She quickly moves in with said hot guitar playing stud and his roommates, because she has nowhere else to go.  (I'm pretty sure I wouldn't move in with strangers under any circumstance, but whatever, I just went with it.)  Ridge is the hot musician, and shock of the century!, he's deaf.  He strikes a deal with Sydney to write lyrics for his band in exchange for free rent, and an attraction quickly blooms.

Then we find out Ridge has a girlfriend already.

Now, I know what you're thinking -- Ridge sounds like a piece of shit.  That's what I thought, too.  But, in Ridge's defense, adultery does happen, and it doesn't necessarily make a person a piece of shit.  At least that's what I tell myself.  Personal story time!: I cheated on, and then immediately left my first husband for my current husband.  My first husband wasn't a perfect guy, though, hardly;  without going into any details, we'll just say that he didn't treat me very well.  I didn't set out to cheat on him, it's just something that happened, and I owned up to it immediately, and that's that.  It was an extremely difficult time for me, and very hard for me to handle in every way imaginable, and keep in mind, my ex-husband wasn't the best.

Ridge's girlfriend in Maybe Someday is pretty much perfect.  Sweet, beautiful, kind, friendly, you name a positive adjective, and she fits it to a tee.

So therein lies the problem. While I enjoyed the romance that developed between Ridge and Sydney, I couldn't stop myself from thinking that Ridge is just a jerk.

I have some very specific reasons that I did not agree with Ridge's decisions... SPOILER ALERT!  Don't read ahead if you are interested in reading this novel for yourself and haven't yet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rave: Kindle First, April edition

Kindle First is a program launched late last year that allows Amazon Prime members the opportunity to download a Kindle book for free each month, one month before the book is scheduled to be published.  Haven't heard of it?  Check it out here!

April's Kindle First picks:
Historical Fiction

Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…

At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.                             @Amazon  -  @Goodreads

Young Adult

 In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she's also got a few killer secrets.

To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

When Ruby ends up killing a murderer to save his intended victim, she discovers that she's gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There's a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who's using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up swapping Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl's forced to kill, won't the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?         @Amazon  -  @Goodreads


Willow Parsons’s two new best friends are getting married, putting her squarely on the sidelines of romance—which suits her just fine. After the nightmarish situation she escaped from, featuring the ultimate Mr. Wrong, she is more than happy to spend her days slinging drinks in Dempsey’s Bar & Grill, and her nights alone. But her Anchor Island refuge has just one catch: muscle-bound charmer Randy Navarro.

Everyone in town knows that Randy, owner of the local fitness club, is a giant teddy bear. Everyone, it seems, except for Willow. He’s convinced that her avoidance is more than just playing hard to get, and is determined to uncover the secrets that shadow her lovely eyes. But when old fears are dragged into the light, can Randy get Willow to stay and fight for their love…or will she take flight, leaving him and Anchor Island behind?

Home to Stay is a charming, romantic tale about following your heart to find where you belong.                                   @Amazon -  @Goodreads 


 Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves are back at it, two years after the events of Dove Season—they’re not exactly the luckiest guys in the Imperial Valley, but, hey, they win more fights than they lose.

Settled on his own farmland and living like a true family man after years of irresponsible fun, Jimmy’s got a straight life cut out for him. But he’s knocking years off that life thanks to fun-yet-dangerous Bobby’s booze-addled antics—especially now that Bobby is single, volatile, profane as ever, and bored as hell.

When Bobby’s teenage daughter goes missing, he and Jimmy take off on a misadventure that starts out as merely unfortunate and escalates to downright calamitous. Bobby won’t hesitate to kick a hornets’ nest to get the girl to safety, but when the rescue mission goes riotously sideways, the duo’s grit—and loyalty to each other—is put to the test.  @Amazon  - @Goodreads

Meh.  I picked I am Livia by process of elimination; I simply had no interest in any of the other three,  two of which are part of a series.  Meh, Amazon, meh.

Which did you pick?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Rave: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover FREE for Amazon Kindle!

Today only -- download Hopeless by Colleen Hoover in Kindle format for free on Amazon.  Click here to download NOW!

My review, as published on Goodreads last year, before the birth of my blog:

I'm not going to lie here; the first third of the novel was an eyeroll fest. Pretty much everything having to do with the main character's introduction to high school was just one adolescent cliché after another. I graduated from high school thirteen years ago, however, so I'll chalk my opinion up to the fact that I am old and jaded now. Still, to me, the novel was very forced at first.

Why did I keep reading, you ask?

In short: I had it, I was broke and didn't want to buy anything else, and have you seen the reviews?!

This book is considered part of a genre that I think was just created (again, I'm old), called New Adult. It's basically Young Adult fiction with more sex. As much as I ended up loving this book, I don't think I will revisit the genre anytime soon unless Colleen Hoover is the author.

The last half of this book was just... wow. Powerful. Amazing. Uplifting. I couldn't put it down. The less you know, the better, so I will just say that I highly recommend it to everyone that likes a good romance, and if you think the beginning is a bit cheesy, well... stick it out.

Check out this title @Goodreads.
Don't wait to download this -- offer is good TODAY only!

Review: Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi is the last novel in her stunning young-adult dystopian trilogy, Under the Never Sky.    If you have not yet read the first in the series, I would recommend skipping this review, and checking out my review for Under the Never Sky, instead.  You can view that here. I also reviewed the second novel in the series, Through the Ever Night, which you can read here.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do--and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they're using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival--he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.                                                                    @Goodreads
I found Into the Still Blue to be a good, but not great, conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy.  I absolutely loved the first two books in the series.  Maybe that is the reason that I didn't love the last -- I liked it, but love it, I did not.  However, I did not power-skim it like I did Mockingjay in order to get through it; I wasn't disappointed, exactly, I just wasn't completely satisfied.

Four stars for Into the Still Blue, and four and a half stars for the Under the Never Sky series as a whole.

In a nutshell, I felt the end was a bit rushed.

Spoiler alert!  (Do not read if you have not read this novel and intend to)

Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell is a thoroughly entertaining and hard to put down family drama dealing with mental illness, secrets, lies, and tragedy within one small family.

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.                                                                               @Goodreads
I'll be honest; although the synopsis sounded okay to me, I chose this book because I needed to take a break from YA Dystopian reads and knock out some of the ARCs I had waiting for me courtesy of Netgalley.  I couldn't have chosen a better novel to ease the transition back to Women's fiction.

Told in the perspective of several characters (each one completely unique and extremely well developed) Lisa Jewell takes us through a journey into the lives of the Bird family, past and present, showing us how they went from happy and content to estranged and in some cases, bitter.

Lorelei, the mother, is a free spirit, a hippie.  She lives in the moment, never dwelling on the past, never even thinking about the past, even when she should.  She copes with her life and the tragedy that befalls it by hoarding.  I'm sure you've seen the reality shows about hoarders, and yes, she is that bad.  Maybe even worse.

The novel opens in present day, with Meg, Lorelei's daughter, arriving in tow with her teenage daughter at her mother's estate, following her death.  The novel weaves back and forth between the present in the past, usually centering around the time of Easter, Lorelei's favorite holiday, and also the day of tragedy in the Bird family -- a tragedy that changes their lives forever.

I am a sucker for a story about a bat-shit crazy mother.  Reading a story about a mother that desperately loves her children, yet still manages to fuck up all of their lives absolutely fascinated me.  My own mother was abusive and cruel.  I found myself wishing Lorelei was my mother early on in the story, and extremely glad she was not by the end.  There is just simply more than one way to destroy your child's life when you're a mother.  The sky is your limit.

I related most with Beth, the daughter of Lorelei's that lived at home until she was about thirty, afraid to leave her mother to her worsening illness, and unsure of what she wants to do with her life throughout the majority of the story.  I myself lived at home until I was around twenty-six, for absolutely no rhyme or reason; my mother was mentally ill, too, in a completely different way.

Beautifully and powerfully told, The House We Grew Up In is a family drama chock full of surprises at every turn, with rich character development and pacing, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.  Warning:  You might need some tissues handy when reading this one.

Note:  A copy of this novel was given to me for reviewing purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher, Atria Books.

Expected publication: August 12 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night is the stunning second novel in Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky series, continuing the mesmerizing romance between Aria and Perry, two star-crossed lovers brought together out of necessity, desperate to survive in a ruined world.  If you have not yet read the first in the series, I would recommend skipping this review, and checking out my review for Under the Never Sky, instead.  You can view that here.  Note:  My review does not contain any plot spoilers, but the book synopsis does.

It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death. 

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first.

Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?                            @Goodreads
 I cannot even begin to stress how blown away I am by this series.  I wasn't expecting much at all.  I, like everyone else in the world, loved Hunger Games, although in retrospect, the last novel in the trilogy did not do much for me at all.  I read Divergent, and while I thought it was alright, I had way too many problems with it, and found it to be extremely overrated.  Perhaps my low expectations are the only reason I love this series, but whatever the reason(s), I am hooked.

I am pleased to report that not only is Through the Ever Night a satisfying sequel, it's actually better than the first in the series.  With an epic plot, well-developed characters, great world-building, exquisite romance, danger, despair, and heartache, Through the Ever Night had me power-reading all through the night to reach its conclusion.

Also, we were awarded with a better explanation on how the world as we know it ended:
In school, Aria had studied the history of the Unity, the period after the massive solar flare that had corroded the earth's protective magnetosphere, spreading Aether across the globe.  The devastation in the first five years had been catastrophic.  The polarity of the Earth had reversed over and over again.  The world was consumed by fires.  Floods.  Riots.  Disease.  Governments had rushed to build the Pods as the Aether storms intensified, striking constantly.  Other, scientists had called the alien atmosphere when it first appeared, because it defied scientific explanation -- an electromagnetic field of unknown chemical composition that behaved and looked like water, and struck with a potency never seen before.  The term evolved to Aether, a word borrowed from ancient philosophers who'd spoken of a similar element.
Veronica Rossi is a talented writer, no doubt about it.  I went from very angry with Perry (not to mention downright panicked) over something that occurs around 75% into the novel, but by the end, I had forgiven him and loved him again.  Team Perry! Rossi is a master of human emotion.  All of her characters are genuine and likable, even despite their flaws.

And the feels.  So many feels!

What took me so long to read this series?  

Pssst... don't forget my giveaway for a brand new hardcover edition of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski here!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) by Veronica Rossi

I realize I am extremely late hopping aboard the Veronica Rossi train, but I wish I would have skipped most of the other YA dystopian novels I've read, and went straight to Under the Never Sky.  This... book... was amazing.

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure.                                                      @Goodreads

In Veronica Rossi's story, the world as we know it was destroyed about three hundred years ago, when a massive solar flare damaged the Earth's magnetic field, resulting in violent energy storms called Aether that wreak fiery havoc whenever they strike.  Shortly after the solar flare, a group of survivors banded together and formed the Unity; governments created huge domes, called pods, for survivors to live in to escape the harsh elements, and a lottery was held to determine who would be able to live in the domes on a permanent basis.  Aria's ancestors were fortunate enough to be placed inside a pod, Reverie, while Perry's ancestors were left outside, battling the harsh elements and struggling to survive.

The world building in this novel is fantastic.  Very imaginative and creative -- I haven't read anything like it at all, which is both unusual and refreshing in this genre.  Aria, one of the two main characters, lives in a pod with about 6,000 other people.  Since they are in such cramped quarters, they have invented a way to virtually go anywhere and do anything they can imagine, accessed by a Smarteye device worn permanently over their left eye.  They essentially live the majority of their lives in virtual reality, which they deem is better than real.  On the surface, it is.  They feel no pain, but can experience pleasure, smells, and tastes.  They can do anything, including flying, with no threat of danger.  They have everything they could need, and have even devised a way to life much longer than the current life expectancy, thanks to anti-aging treatments.

Early on in the novel, Aria is cast out of the pod for a crime she didn't commit.  Once she is on the Outside, with no hope of survival, she meets Perry, an outsider that is desperately trying to find his nephew, who was taken by the Dwellers that live in the pods.  He knows someone who can fix Aria's broken Smarteye device so that she can contact her mother, so the two of them form a shaky alliance out of necessity.

Despite the constant threat of the Aether, Aria soon realizes that nothing is better than real, nor is it even close to the same.  She grows increasingly attracted to Perry, and vice versa; Perry can scent her attraction, because he has highly developed skills that allows him to scent other people's tempers/moods, not to mention see clearly in the dark.  Their love story is slow to develop, but the end result is worth it.  I wanted Perry and Aria together, desperately.

With great world-building, excellent character development, and a unique, refreshing plot, Under the Never Sky has become one of my all-time favorites.  This novel wouldn't even wipe its ass on the Divergent trilogy.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa

The Forever Song, book three of the Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa, is the stunning conclusion to what I deem to be the best YA vampire series to date.  There.  I said it.  If you have not read The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure, stop reading now; while my actual review does not contain spoilers, the actual synopsis of the novel released by the publisher does.   A big one, in fact.    


Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.                                                          @Goodreads

 It’s hard to write this without spoilers, but I am forcing myself.  After all, at the time that I’m posting this, most of you have not read it; it hasn’t even been published yet.  Therefore, this review will be a bit cryptic, much like my review for the other novels in the series.  You can read those here and here.

In the final novel in the Blood of Eden trilogy, Allie struggles more than ever with her humanity in the wake of significant personal tragedy.    The story opens with Allie, Kanin, and Jackal traveling to Eden in search of Sarren, the psychotic vampire that has embarked on a dangerous journey to destroy humanity so that the world can start over.     

Allie knows that she is now a monster.   She cares little for humans, beyond stopping Sarren from wiping out her food supply.  She is hurt on an epic level, and to make matters worse, master vampire Kanin, her sire, is filled with disappointment towards the monster she has decided to become. 

Sound good so far?  It gets so much better.

What is waiting for the trio on their journey is worse than anything they could have imagined.  And… I can’t really say any more than that.

There is a rather large development 29% into the novel that I did see coming, however, I was somehow still shocked and amazed when it did, because it was just done so well.  No disappointments with the last installment of this series at all.  I commend you, Julie Kagawa.  You are… amazing. 

One little qualm:  At the end of The Forever Song, as Allie is reflecting on the time she has been a vampire, it is stated that she has only been a vampire for about a year.  I didn’t go back and make sure that time matched up, but from what I remember… it does not.  All of that happened over just 1 year?  Kanin’s training?  Wondering around after she separated from him, before she found Zeke’s group? Staying with Zeke’s group until they made it to Old Chicago, and later, Eden?  That’s just the first book, and I believe four months separates the first from the second.    This was a very minor issue to me, just something I noticed.  Perhaps it was only a year.  Whatever.

My rating for both The Forever Song and the Blood of Eden is five whopping stars. 

Please note:  I received a free ARC of The Forever Song by the publisher (Harlequin Teen), and Netgalley.  The book was not advertised to be the last in the trilogy, and I requested it without knowing.  Once I realized, after I had read the reviews, I decided to purchase both the first and the second installment in the series.  Well played, Harlequin Teen.  

Expected publication date:  April 15 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #4 - Reading Habits

Feature and Follow is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read where bloggers gain followers and make new connections.  I prefer followers through Google Friend Connect (GFC) and
Bloglovin’, but I'll take what I can get; hit me with your best shot.

Question of the Week: How have your reading habits changed in the past few years? Did you get interested in a new genre? Do you read more? Less? Why do you think your habits changed, if they did.

I've always been an avid reader.  Ever since my mother first gave me those V.C. Andrews books in second grade (and Stephen King in third -- she had taste, that woman), I was hooked.  Completely, irrevocably addicted to books.  I'm the type of person that would much rather be alone, immersed in a great novel than with pretty much anyone else... except my husband, of course, but he doesn't really count.

My tastes have changed, very recently, in fact; I used to be utterly turned off by young adult novels.  Now, I'm hooked.  I've read so many great young adult novels in the last two months alone, and I have you guys to thank for it, since many of you that I follow happen to read YA books.  So... thanks!

Since acquiring an e-reader and using it almost exclusively, I do think that I read more in recent years than I did in the past.  It's just so much more convenient -- and so much cheaper.  

Thanks in advance for stopping by -- I will return your comment and/or follow; I absolutely love reading new blogs and interacting with fellow book nerds!

Happy Friday!

Pssst... while you're here, enter my giveaway for a hardcover copy of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski! 

Want to join this blog hop or enter my giveaway?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rave: The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure is the second novel in Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden trilogy.  If you have not read the first novel, you may want to skip this so as to not read any inadvertent spoilers, especially in the synopsis.  My actual review does not contain any spoilers. You can check out my mini review of the first novel in the series, The Immortal Rules, here.

In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood

She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever—and possibly end human and vampire existence.

There's a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago—and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time.

Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.                          @Goodreads

As I previously stated, I purchased this novel and the first in the series once I received an ARC for the third novel in the series, and became intrigued.  Well worth the gamble, I must say.  While The Immortal Rules hooked me and restored my faith in vampires and YA literature in general, The Eternity Cure made me realize that this trilogy is going to be one of my all-time favorites.

More murdering, monstrous vampires.  More rabids.  A new plague that destroys humans and vampires alike.  Vivid descriptions, excellent writing, and a heroine that isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.  Gripping, dark, and tense, this novel has you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.  Julie Kagawa is not the type of author that is afraid to let tragedy befall her characters.  And oh, does it.

The two minor issues I had with The Immortal Rules were the underlying religious themes, and the love interest, Zeke.  The religious themes continued -- lightly -- throughout The Eternity Cure, and they again were not a problem for someone that hates shit like that (me).  I am a little worried that there is going to be some huge spiritual reveal in the last book in the series, but so far so good.

Zeke, who I thought was boring in the first novel, was much more tolerable in the second.  He's still not the best love interest (he's not Edward or Jacob), but I do have more respect for his character.  I even grew to like him a bit.  I wouldn't have wiped my ass with him in the first novel.

I gave The Immortal Rules a 4.5 star rating, but The Eternity Cure was better, and gets a solid five.

Stay tuned for my review of The Forever Song, the last in the Blood of Eden saga, coming soon!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rave: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa

Excuse me if this review sounds like it is coming from an obnoxious fan girl, but The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa, has completely restored my faith and renewed my interest in the overplayed vampire genre that previously bored me to tears.

To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.

Enter Julie Kagawa's dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.  @Goodreads
I stumbled upon this series on accident; I requested The Forever Song, on Netgalley, without realizing that it was part of a series, Blood of Eden.  Once I realized and read the reviews on Goodreads for this series, I decided I had to read it.  I immediately purchased The Immortal Rules and have since purchased the second novel as well, so... well played, Netgalley and Harlequin Teen.

This book was released in 2011, and is therefore considered old news to most avid YA dystopian fans.  I don't have much to say about it that hasn't already been said.  This post is to drive awareness to this series -- it's really good.  If you haven't heard of it, this is what you need to know:

Dystopian.  Vampires that are monsters, not beautiful, sparkling beings.  Zombies (called rabids).  Strong female lead.  Great writing.  Excellent world-building, and viable explanations on as to how the world ended.  Fast-paced.  Masterfully detailed.  And as far as I'm concerned, insanely underrated.  I had never heard of this series until a few days ago!

There are some religious undertones throughout, but they did not offend my heathen sensibilities.

I'd actually give this novel 4.5 stars, but since I was lazy and didn't make half graphics, I'll round up.
The novel is amazing, and has many strong points, but the main character's love interest is not one of them.  Boring!  Hopefully that improves!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #3 - Favorite Outdoor Reading Spot

Feature and Follow is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read where bloggers gain followers and make new connections.  I prefer followers through Google Friend Connect (GFC) and Bloglovin’, but I'll take what I can get; hit me with your best shot.

Question of the Week: Spring is in the air! Show off your favorite outdoors reading spot. If you don’t go outside...well where else do you read that isn’t inside your house? We want pics!

From my honeymoon in Virginia Beach, 2013

My favorite reading spot is the beach.  The wind in my hair, the smell of salt in the air, sand between my toes.  Reading a great book as the sun goes down, while the tide rolls in.  There is nothing more beautiful, and more peaceful, in all the world to me. 
I work from home currently, and therefore spend the majority of my reading time in the house.  

Pssst... while you're here, enter my giveaway for a hardcover copy of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski! 

What's your favorite outdoor reading spot?  Read more to join the blog hop or enter my giveaway!