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!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

The Memory Child by Steena Holmes is a very well-written women’s fiction suspense novel dealing with postpartum psychosis, the rare illness that can include rapid mood swings, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, strange beliefs, and sometimes, infanticide.

When Brian finds out that his wife, Diane, is pregnant, he is elated. He's been patiently waiting for twelve years to become a father. But Diane has always been nervous about having children because of her family's dark past. The timing of the pregnancy also isn't ideal - Diane has just been promoted, and Brian is being called away to open a new London office for his company.

Fast-forward one year: being a mother has brought Diane a sense of joy that she'd never imagined and she's head over heels for her new baby, Grace. But things are far from perfect: Brian has still not returned from London, and Diane fears leaving the baby for even a moment. As unsettling changes in those around Diane began to emerge, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

                                                                                   A woman's dark past collides head-on with her mysterious present in this surreal and gripping family drama.                                                                       @Goodreads

 This is a topic that is quite difficult for me to write about.  My mother has a variety of mental problems, and it is believed that she experienced postpartum psychosis following my birth.  Note: There is a difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, and although my mother was never diagnosed by a doctor, she is believed to have experienced the latter.  My mother was not depressed, she was bat-shit crazy.  It is undetermined whether postpartum psychosis is hormonal or hereditary; my mother had hormonal problems (including Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), and is also bipolar.  I have inherited PMDD from my mother; this is something that has developed over recently years, starting in my mid to late twenties.  PMDD is basically very terrible PMS that includes symptoms such as mood swings, irrationality, severe irritability, and depression.  As someone that wants to have children, the possibility of experiencing postpartum depression or psychosis absolutely terrifies me, especially since I have already inherited other hormonal problems from the mother.

So yeah – this book.

Diane and Brian are going to have a baby, but Diane is terrified; her mother smothered her infant brother and committed suicide as a result of postpartum psychosis.  Brian is an amazing, loving husband, extremely excited for the birth of his first child, while Diane is more than a little hesitant, and actually considers an abortion.  Fast-forward one year:  Diane has had her baby, is completely enamored of her child like most normal mothers, but… why hasn’t Brian returned from his business trip?

The story is told in alternative perspectives between Brian, during Diane’s pregnancy, and Diane, following the birth of her baby, Claire.  Supporting characters include a nanny that Brian hired for Diane prior to his business trip, as well as Diane’s younger sister.

It is clear very early on that something is seriously fucked up, and we do not know what could have happened.  I had ideas early on – in fact, I was almost convinced at one point that I had guessed the ending, and I was fairly confident because I read a lot – but I am happy to report that I was wrong.  Why does everyone act so off around Diane?  Where is Brian, the husband-of-the-year?

The writing was very good.  I have never read anything by Steena Holmes, and did not know what to expect.  She gives the reader a good mind-fuck with this one.  Highly recommended, with an ending I did not see coming.  The pacing was perfect, and the end satisfying.

Unfortunately, I am more apprehensive than ever to have a child.  But I knew that that would occur going in.  I just couldn’t resist.

Only four stars, because there is something at the end I personally wanted done a little differently, but that didn’t affect the readability of this novel at all.  Fast-paced and hard to put down, The Memory Child is a must-read for anyone that likes a little bit of mind-fuckery with their family drama.

Note: I received an ARC copy of this novel courtesy of Netgalley and Amazon Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  I would have bought this novel based on the subject matter, though.  No doubt.

Pssst... did you know you can enter my giveaway every day for a chance to win a hardcover copy The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski?  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie is a good, but not great, women’s fiction novel that deals with marriage, grief, and infidelity.   Hidden is a Kindle First pick for Amazon Prime members for the month of March. 

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life.

Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

Hidden is told in the first-person narrative of three characters – Jeff, the deceased, in the past, along with Claire, his wife, and Tish, his lover, both in the present.  The novel begins with Jeff’s untimely demise, and the first half of the novel tells the story of the first few days following his death, along with a look at Jeff’s past. 

We know going in to the novel that Jeff was cheating on his wife with a coworker at the time of his death, and it is slowly revealed how his adulterous relationship came to be throughout the course of the novel. 

Like most novels that start with a huge opening such as this one, Hidden was easy enough to become interested in.  The characters were satisfactory, but not great; Tish and Claire didn’t really stand out from one another, but Jeff had his own unique voice.  The writing is decent, but again, not great; unfortunately, when a novel deals with a topic that is written about a lot like this one is, it has to be fantastic to stand out.  This novel fell a bit short of fantastic.  However, if you haven’t read any books with a plot like this in the past, you may feel differently.  For me, though, nothing about this book was especially unique.

The big reveal at the end was not much of a reveal at all.  I was hoping to like all of the characters despite their obvious flaws (adultery sucks, but it happens to the best of us, after all; no one is perfect), but sadly, at the end, I was left thinking that two of the three characters were assholes.  Also, Jeff’s reason for cheating wasn’t a good reason at all, in my opinion.  Sorry, Jeff, you’re one of the assholes.

Available now for Amazon Prime members.

Expected publication date for non-Prime members: April 1, 2014

Don't forget to check out this month's giveaway:  A hardcover edition of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski!  Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #2 (& Giveaway!)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is to list my top 10 favorite fantasy novels.  I originally wasn't going to participate in this meme, because for all intents and purposes, I am somewhat new to the genre; I haven't read many fantasy novels.  Fantasy is way outside my comfort zone.  However, I've been on a fantasy kick, and I really want some new ideas and/or recommendations.  

My all-time favorite... Of course, I have to pay homage to what I consider an absolute staple in the fantasy genre (but what do I know?), Harry Potter.  This book and series may very well be the first fantasy novels I ever read, and I won't lie; I went into the series grudgingly.  I wanted to find out what all the hype was about.  Boy did I ever.  I even have a Harry Potter quote tattoo now.  And yes, I get teased about it regularly.

Other favorites include:  Eragon by Christopher Paolini, as well as the rest of The Inheritance Cycle, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, (the first in the series -- I didn't care for the second novel as much, and haven't read any others), The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and two I just read this month, The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons, and The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. 

Speaking of the Winner's Curse, I am currently holding a giveaway on my blog for a brand new hardcover copy.  Applicants may enter once per day.  Since I will be paying postage, this giveaway is unfortunately open only to US residents.

I chose this title for March's giveaway, because I absolutely loved it.  Read my review!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 10, 2014

DNF: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Everyone has already read and reviewed this, so I'm going to skip the blurb and go
straight for the jugular.

I really wanted to read and love this book and the two others in the trilogy. The author, whom I’ve seen around on various blogs and Instagram, is so damn cute!  I’ve heard so much about the third novel especially, and I just wanted to spend an entire weekend loving the series for everything it was.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Here's why:

Fucking strikethroughs.   Way too many fucking strikethroughs.  They’re on every page.

Deep ass sentences that mean nothing: “I hate the lackadaisical ennui of a sun too preoccupied with itself to notice the infinite hours we spend in its presence.”   U wot m8?

Sentences that are just poorly constructed and bad: “So much everything all the things dead.”

Purposeful lack of punctuation like it’s cute: “Two three four fifty thousand pieces of feeling stab me in the heart, melt into drops of warm honey that soothe the scars in my soul.”  (Also, what?)

Oh yeah, and the author never spells out numbers except for one time, which was referenced above for lacking commas.  She even begins sentences with numbers:  “2 knocks at the door and we’re both on our feet, abruptly startled back into this bleak world.”

Done.  I can’t do it. I quit after reading only 60 pages.

The plot and characters?  Not a problem.  The bad writing is what makes this a DNF.

Review: Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons

Run, do not walk, to the nearest bookstore/library/website/however you get your books and check out this new novel from Heather Lyons, The Deep End of the Sea, especially if you are a fantasy/mythology fan.

What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong?

Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age.

But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.                                       @Goodreads
I am a monster.  The worst kind of monster.  The kind that people have told stories about for thousands of years.  The kind that daredevils like poor Walt seek out, even though many believe I’m not more than a myth. 
I am the Gorgon Medusa.  And my eyes can turn anything living to stone.
 Thus begins the Deep End of the Sea, a modern-day re-telling of the infamous Medusa legend.  Medusa is, of course, the main character, and the love interest is none other than the god, Hermes.  Is your mythology a bit rusty?  Irrelevant; you’ll remember as you go along, unless you’re some kind of savage.  LOL – point is, there’s no need to be intimidated going in if you’re not a huge mythology buff.

I was highly interested in Greek/Roman mythology in middle and high school, but I am old as shit now. I am the very definition of rusty on the topic.  Also, I’ve never read a mythology book like this, and I really wasn’t sure how much I’d like it.  I am on young adult fantasy kick as of very recently (I’m seriously like Bambi on ice about it), so I figured, “Why not?”

I loved it.

I really, really loved it.

I mention that this is a modern day re-telling, because it is set in the here and now, in 2014.  There is technology (tablets, cell phones, et cetera).  There is also a great story – mythology isn’t still being studied because it sucks, after all – an epic story, in fact.  There is a romance so tender, so believable, it very nearly has the reader falling in love.  And the beau is a god, literally.  A caring, funny, sexy, gorgeous god.

Love makes every misery, every struggle, every moment of life worth it. 

Medusa is a heroine that I can actually say I liked, which is rare for me. A monster for the last two thousand years, the better portion of this book is her coming-of-age story – living life with her curse removed at long last.    She is strong, yet cautious, smart, yet unsure of herself.

I run.  I kick.  I punch.  I listen.  I write.  I give.  I live.  Stars above, I live.

The other characters (mostly other gods and goddesses of Greek mythology) are amazing – all of them, even the villains.  The writing is great – easy to read, and it flows wonderfully.  I devoured this novel, and I’m hungry for more.

I'm glad I took the gamble on this one after not reading much about it.  Plus, it's only $3.99 (Kindle format)

Published February 5, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Giveaway reminder!

Just a reminder, I have two giveaways ending in a little less than 12 hours for two ebooks -- The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle.  Both giveaways are hosted by Rafflecopter, so if you already have an account with them and already follow me, entering is just a few simple clicks away!  Free books, guys!

Enter to Win Now!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #2: Oldies but Goodies

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.

This week's topic:
Recommend some of your favorite back-list books – books that are at least a few years old (I’m thinking 5-10 years old rather than classics)

I'm not even going to bother with Harry Potter, because that's a given, mmmk?

Eragon by Christopher Paolini  -- @Goodreads
I found this novel (and ultimately, the rest of The Inheritance Cycle) when searching specifically for something to help me out with my Harry Potter withdrawal.  And this was written by a 14 year old!

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella  -- @Goodreads
Literature masterpiece this is not, but hilarious it is.  Considerably better than the movie.

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux -- @Goodreads
It doesn't -- it cannot -- get better than this when it comes to time travel/historical romances.  This has been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager.

The Duke (and the rest of the books in the Knight Miscellany series) -- @Goodreads
Gaelen Foley is a master of the historical romance genre.  I'd read the phone book if she wrote it.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen -- @Goodreads
For obvious reasons... elephant.
Never saw the movie... for obvious reasons.  

Read more for details on how to join this blog hop!   The more, the merrier!

Review: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

A very good start to a new young adult high fantasy series, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski will appeal to both fantasy and historical romance fans alike.

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
@Goodreads   -     @Amazon

I never judge a book by its cover, but I won't lie -- the cover is what draws my initial attention nine times out of ten. This cover is definitely what drew me in with this novel.  She's holding the R! Fantasy is way out of my comfort zone; although I do read it and enjoy it from time to time, I tend to prefer a more realistic setting.  This book, while set in an unknown land and is therefore considered a fantasy, reads more like a historical romance novel.  There are no hobbits, elves, or dragons, or any other kind of magic.  At least not in the first novel.

The first half of the novel was decent, but the last half was amazing.  I plowed through this book, desperate and at the same time hesitant to reach the end.  The heroine was okay -- she was a bit spineless at times, and other times, I wished she was a baby so I could shake her, but I don't have to love a heroine.  In fact, I almost never do.  I'm certainly not perfect, and I'll admit that I do have the habit of putting myself in the protagonist's shoes if the story is particularly good.  I did love the hero, Arin.   I didn't just like him, no; I loved him.

The romance is slow and well-developed; the author does a great job making it as believable as possible considering the circumstances.  She shows us how they fall in love, not just tells us that they did after the fact.

I finished this last night, and all day today I've longed for Arin.

Beautifully written and very well plotted (the political aspects are very well done), with masterful world building that will appeal to both historical fiction and fantasy fans alike, The Winner's Curse is a must read of 2014.

I'd like to stay for the record that I did not receive an ARC of this book; I purchased it with my own cold, hard cash after reading the first five chapters for free.  Download the first five chapters for your Kindle device here!

Recommendation:  If you liked this novel, you may also like The Pirate Prince by Gaelen Foley.  Check it out @Goodreads.

Published March 4, 2014

Rave and Review: Unravel by Calia Read

Amazing -- everyone needs to read this new adult psychological thriller by Calia Read. Not a fan of the genre? Don't despair, I didn't think I was, either.

Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine.

One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward.

Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind.

Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help.

A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past.

And now...everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he's real, and I know he needs me.

Do you believe me?           @Goodreads     @Amazon

Mind fuckery galore.

Usually when I read a psychological thriller, I am disappointed in the ending. If it’s especially fast-paced throughout, the ending is even more underwhelming for me. I also generally do not like new adult novels, although I’ve only read very few. So I started Unravel with low expectations, and was hooked very quickly. It was new adult that wasn’t corny and cliché. A psychological thriller that had me guessing until the very end, and even though I had my suspicions, I was completely satisfied with the outcome.

I am afraid to say too much about this novel, so as not to give anything away.  At the same time, I'm reeling, and I want to talk about it to someone, anyone.

 Prediction: Love it or hate it, I predict that you will not be able to put it down.

Warning: This novel does contain a vivid rape scene early on, and may not be appropriate for everyone. 

Published February 15th 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rave: Liebster Blog Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by two people: Kristen at Pretty Little Pages and Michelle at Book Hangovers Blabs Books!  I was so excited; my blog is only about two weeks old, and it's off to a great start.

The Liebster Award is given to awesome new or small blogs with under 200 followers. Liebster is the German word for sweetheart.  Its root word is lieb, which means sweet, nice, kind, and lovely.  The Liebster Award is all about welcoming new bloggers into the blogging community with loving arms, as it provides new ways to connect with other blogs and bloggers.

The Rules

List 11 facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions chosen by the person who nominated you.
Ask 11 new questions to 11 bloggers. They must have less than 200 followers. (You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.)
Go to their blog and inform them.

11 Facts About Jax

1. I am an animal fanatic.  My dream is to run a pet sanctuary/rescue.  Meet my two cats, Sputnik (left) and Smudge (right).

While I like my cats kinda and take care of them because I have to willingly, my dogs are my dogs. They are the recipients of probably way too much of my love, not to mention lethal doses of my mediocre singing. Meet Bebop, the Welsh corgi, and Darwin, the golden retriever mix.


2.  I am a type 2 diabetic, recently diagnosed (December 2012), and am currently considering bariatric surgery at my doctor's request.

3.  I am currently married to husband number two.  The story is actually quite scandalous.  I met my second husband while I was still married to my first;  we met playing World of Warcraft.  It was love at first boss wipe, I suppose.  Here's a picture of my husband, Michael, and I last year.

4.  Although I'm taking the semester off, I am currently enrolled in a local community college to obtain a degree.  I work full-time from home as a customer support supervisor (answering billing questions via phone/email).

5.  You may have noticed this already -- I am constantly changing my hair color.  I'm currently brunette (and digging it.)

6.  I was named after Jacqueline Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth I.  My mother is a big history and boxed wine buff.

7.  Speaking of my aforementioned mediocre singing, I absolutely love to karaoke... although only when alone.  I'm shy!  If you're wondering how mediocre I am, here ya go!

8.  Before relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina, I grew up in the suburb of Cleveland, Ohio where US President  James A Garfield lived and died. You probably don't care, and that's perfectly fine, because most people that live in or have been to Mentor also do not care.

9.  I have eight tattoos and three piercings currently -- both nostrils, and my septum.  I used to have a ton of different piercings throughout my twenties, and even 1/2" stretched ear lobes, but most of my piercings were taken out and retired when I had my gallbladder removed in 2009.  I guess I just felt it was time to grow up.  (Fun fact:  I abandoned a book on page three when the heroine referenced her stretched lobes as being "gauged out." No one calls it that.)

10.  I am a product junkie, and I am utterly addicted to cosmetics and perfumes.  I get magazine subscriptions exclusively for product ads -- I don't read the articles at all.

11.  I'm not very religious (read:  I am atheist.)  I am very open-minded, and I'll respect your beliefs if you respect my lack thereof.

Kristen's Questions {Pretty Little Pages

1. If you could have dinner with one character from your favorite book, who would it be? Why?
Good question.  I'd pick good ol' Katniss Everdeen, circa sometime towards the end of Mockingjay.  "Why?" I'd ask her.  "Why?"

2. Do you prefer hardback or paperback?
Currently, I prefer ebooks. I've switched almost entirely to ebooks a few years ago, and I have not looked back.  Prior to this new-fangled technology, I would always go with paperbacks.  I hate reading hardcovers.

3. Which author would you want to be best friends with? Why?
Stephen King.  I grew up reading his books, and a lot of them are pretty much staples in the horror genre.  He also writes a very tender, realistic romance.  Writing aside, however, the guy just knows what's up, and he's cool as hell.

4. What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?
Either The Green Mile or Shawshank Redemption, both by Stephen King. It's rare when an adaptation does the original source justice, and both of those movies delivered.

5. Which book do you want to see turned into a movie that hasn't been yet? Why?
The Wool saga by Hugh Howey.   Pssst -- part one is free for Amazon Kindle.  Read it if you're a dystopia fan. @

6. What book has had the biggest impact on your life? Why?
The Harry Potter series, of course.  Sadly, I can't think of any other book that has impacted my life.  The television show, Six Feet Under, on the other hand?  Yes, yes, yes.

7. You get one week to do whatever you want. Money isn't an issue, and there are no consequences for what you do. So, what do you spend your week doing?
No consequences?  I'd lay around, reading and smoking weed all week long.  Oh, what a blissful week it would be.  And food.  There would be lots of delicious food.

8. What's the one place (real or fictional) that you want to runaway to?
Vegas, baby, Vegas.  I'm a night owl, and I love that everything remains open at night in Vegas.

9. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life as many times as you wanted, which one would you pick?
Oh, so many!  I would need something light and fun, with an irresistible hero.  A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux fits the bill.  I love Nick more every time I read it!

10. You get to have one super power. What's it going to be and why?
Eating whatever I wanted and never gaining weight. Whatever that is. A good metabolism?

11. Vanilla or chocolate?
Chocolate.  Always and forever, until the end of time, chocolate.

Michelle's Questions {Book Hangovers Blabs Books}

1. What was your first bookish blog post about?
Easy, since it was only a few weeks ago!  I made a post with my top ten favorite books published in 2013.  I have a feeling my 2014 favorites will be much different.

2. What is a bad book habit you have?
I used to constantly crease the pages when I read physical books.  Now that I use an ereader, I don't really have any bad book habits.  I have plenty of non-book bad habits, though.  ;)

3. If you could write letters to the dead, who would you write?
I never got to say goodbye to my grandfather, so he'd be on the top of my list.  I miss that guy.

4. How many books are on your TBR list?
About 50, and it is constantly expanding.

5. What is your favorite scent/perfume/lotion?
I am completely addicted to perfume, and used to write a perfume blog with my bestie back in the day.  There is no way I could pick just one favorite scent. Here are a few of my current favorites:

6. Where would you want your next vacation destination to be (it can be anywhere)?
If money were no object? A one month tour of Europe. Realistically, Virginia Beach.  It's only about 3 hours away, and I absolutely love it.  Plus, they have a Old Time Photos there.  So much fun!

My husband and I last year at Old Time Photos in Virginia Beach, VA.

7. If you could be a Disney Princess/Prince, who would it be?
Ursula from The Little Mermaid, especially in the morning.

8. What is your favorite season of the year?
Meh, anything that's not summer.  I absolutely hate summer in the south.

9. If you could have a super power, what power would it be?
Aside from eating without gaining weight, I'd go with the ability to be exceedingly rich, without working.  Haha

10. What was the last movie you saw (in a movie theater)?
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  We saw a TON of movies in 2013 at our local IMAX theatre; we had a pass so tickets were only $5 each.

11. If you could go to any concert in the world, whose would it be? (dead or alive)
I'm only slightly-joking when I saw this:  Kanye West.

My questions for the nominees:

1.  What is the first book you can remember reading for leisure?
2.  What is your least favorite genre?
3.  What book do you most relate to?
4.  If you could be best friends with a book (or movie) character of your choice, who would you pick?
5.  What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?
6.  What is your LEAST favorite book to movie adaptation?
7.  What is your favorite book (or movie) franchise? (Harry Potter, Twilight, et al)
8..  What is your LEAST favorite book (or movie) franchise?
9.  How long have you been blogging?
10.  How many books are on your to-read shelf?
11.  Who is your favorite author?

My nominees:

1.  Barbara at BookShelves of Dreams
2.  Hellen at Worlds Inside Books
3.  Ellie at Ellie's Reading Nook
4.  Rimsha at Ramblings of a Bookworm
5.  Sarah at Words with Sarah
6.  Angie at Angie's Angle
7.  Kay at It's a Book Life
8.  Catriona at Fabulous Book Fiend
9.  Alyssa at Swept Away by Books
10.  Helen at My Novel Opinion
11.  Amy at Tripping Over Books