Monday, July 30, 2012

The Blood Keeper (The Blood Journals #2) by Tessa Gratton

The Blood Keeper (The Blood Journals, #2)The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First I have to say thanks to Netgalley and Random House Children's Books for letting me read the e-galley of this. Thinking back to the book, I had to go back and upgrade my rating from 3 to 4 stars. I have to say for some reason I liked this one a lot better than the first one. Not sure why. I did like the first one, but this one had me more on the edge of my seat and wanting to pick it back up when I had to put it down. While it is the "sequel" to Blood Magic, it doesn't really include the main characters from that book, Silla and Nick. They do factor in, and are part of the background story. And actually Silla's brother Reese who turned into crows in the last book, is a big part of the book. He has become Mab Prowd's familiar. He stays with her instead of staying with Silla, and helps her with her magic. The book starts off with Nick dropping off a young boy named Lukas who has a black candle rune carved into his back by his father, who we find out has cursed him and pulls on his magic. We also start with Mab trying to find out why the roses around the house were so hard to get rid of, yet her grandmother really wanted them gone. To find out more about them, Mab's spell creates a humunculus so that she can hopefully get it to talk about what is going on. This creature is able to escape from the protective circle and takes off running. It runs into Nick, and attacks him, so Nick has to destroy it with the help of his dogs. But it turns out Nick is now connected to Mab and will need Mab to help him figure out what is going on. Nick's life is not great to start with. One of his older brothers died about a year ago, and his family has been changed ever since. Again the diary entries/letters are mixed into the story. At first you don't quite understand what they really have to do with the story, other than they talk about Arthur, who was the Deacon of magic before he was ready to go join his wife and pass on the title of Deacon to Mab. We do learn about Mab's mother also. Soon as the story goes on, I began to try to figure out on my own the roses and the relationships between all these people in the past. It all gets a lot worse, right after it seems things are getting better, and has a lot of suspense at the end.
I really liked the characters in this one. There was still a lot of blood, but it seemed less for shock, and more as a part of the story. There were sometimes at the beginning that it drug a little bit, but mostly the story kept me really involved and as I said, wanting to pick it back up when I had to put it down. Definitely a good, and pretty original story in my opinion.
Tessa Gratton, Breanna Yovanoff, and Maggie Stiefvater
It also was exciting to get to talk to Tessa Gratton, the author of this book, at BEA.

Make sure you're checking back a lot this month, as my Blogoversary comes up, I plan to spend the whole month with special posts, and there will be a really big giveaway starting on August 9th, the actual blogoversary day, and going the rest of the month, along with some smaller giveaways throughout.

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

My last big Giveaway hop before my Blogoversary month!  And there will be lots of giveaways in August for that on my blog, so stay tuned!  But back to this one, in staying kind of with the theme, I'm feeling too lazy to pick exactly which book to give away, so the winner will have to choose from these four titles:





All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below.  Then go click through the links below that for more great giveaways!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Kill Order (The Maze Runner prequel) by James Dashner

The Kill OrderThe Kill Order by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was excited to read this prequel to The Maze Runner. I wanted to find out how all of this began. And for the most part I enjoyed this book. We start out with Thomas and Teresa getting ready to send Thomas down into the Glade with the other boys, basically right before The Maze Runner began. But we don't dwell there, it's only a couple pages on that. And then we go to 13 years before that. And we get to follow Mark, Trina, Alec, and Lana in one of the mountain settlements after the sun flares hit the Earth. The story begins when one of the Bergs, the big ships they use later on in the series as well, flies by and begins shooting the people in their settlement with darts. Darts that either kill right away, or make them sick. Alec and Lana are former military. Alec and Mark chase after this Berg, and finally are able to get on it, and find out as much as they can. They first find vials of the virus in boxes, and realize what was being shot. Then they find a tablet of some sort that they can see where the headquarters, or at least where this Berg came from. The Berg is crashed by the pilots, and then Alec and Mark head back to find out what has happened to their town. As the story goes by, we get to flashback to when the sun flares actually hit through Mark's nightmares. And actually, this is some of the story that is my favorite. The fact that New York, Manhattan especially, is going to be underwater, or at least a lot of it. I wish maybe we'd heard a bit more of that, but we are filled in on the big details through Mark's dreams. We then follow Mark and Trina, and Lana and Alec, as they try to reach this headquarters. They run into other settlements that have gone through the same thing with the Bergs on the way there, and find out just what this virus can do. Once at the headquarters, after a lot of conflict with those other people, they find out what the people in charge, the PFC - Post Flare Committee, is trying to do. And then they pick up another person, a little girl, named Dee-Dee. And so they must fight to be as safe as they can, and try to reach what they've heard is a safe place, Asheville. And this is about where we leave off. So, there will be another prequel, I'm hoping, because I still need to know more!! We barely touch on Thomas at the end, and I want to know about Teresa, and all that led up to WICKED, as there isn't much about it in this book.
Another good story, there were some edge of your seat moments, but sometimes it did get bogged down a bit. I loved the characters, Alec, and Mark and Trina. Lana too, although she's not as big a character really. As I said I hope there is another prequel so that I can find out more answers to the questions I still have.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

I'd like to thank Netgalley and Macmillan Childrens Publishing Corporation for letting me read an egalley of this. 
First I have to say that I have enjoyed two of the books by this author, The Compound and The Gardener.  This book was also good, but a bit different.  Our main character is Robie.  Her parents are scientists on a remote island in the Pacific.  She gets really bored there and so often goes to stay with her aunt in Honolulu.  And that is where we join the story.  Living with her aunt she does some kind of rebellious things.  This time she's getting her nose pierced.  We find out that Robie's way of dealing with things she is scared of is by finding out what would be worse.  Soon though Robie's aunt has to go out of town unexpectedly and while she really is supposed to go back to her parents, she convinces her aunt to let her stay as long as a friend of her aunt's checks in on her every day.  And Robie is stoked when the friend ends up not being able to.  But then, she gets lonely and bored by herself.  And when she is attacked on the street, she runs home, and decides to go ahead and fly back to the island on the next supply flight out.  When she gets to the airport the next night, she's not been able to get ahold of anyone to let them know she is coming.  But she assumes they've told the island that she's coming with them.  As they're flying, with one different pilot than normal, they must go a different way because of a storm, the reason communication has been lost with the island in the first place.  And, Robie and her baggage were never weighed, so it is possible that the extra weight causes the engines to not be able to handle all the stress with the storm, and it goes down.  Robie and one of the pilots, Max, are able to get in the raft.  The other pilot doesn't make it, goes down with the plane.  Now they're stranded in a raft, which seems to have a leak.  Robie must figure out how to survive with no water or food.  She soon also realizes she could probably figure out which way to land and maybe an inhabited island.  She does finally reach land.  But landing there isn't necessarily any better.  Throughout the experience, she spends a lot of time alone, as Max seems to be sleeping all the time.  She thinks she will find food, but then that brings a shark.  On the island she realizes just how alone she is, and must again fight for her survival.
An interesting story.  I love how the author uses a Hunger Games reference, she hopes for a silver parachute to come in and bring her exactly what she needs at that moment.  And I love that the first food she finds, are in Max's ditty bag, and it is Skittles, my favorite candy.  This was a short, quick read, and a good one.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Croak by Gina Damico

This is one of the books that I got at BEA, autographed of course!  It was a little further down in my stack to get read until I found out I will get to host the author during August, the Authors Are Our Rock Stars Hop month!  (And also my 3rd blogoversary month, stay tuned for fun!)  And I have to say I'm glad I went ahead and picked it up, and that I get to host Gina Damico, because it was a good, fun read!
I actually used to love the show Dead Like Me, a story about reapers, so this book about a similar type of storyline, reapers, really was a good one for me to read.  This is a bit different though.  In Damico's story, the reapers are still alive, although they do tend to live together in different towns throughout the world.  The main character of this story is Lex, she is 16 years old and has a twin.  But over the last few years she changed, all of a sudden she just started punching people and cursing, and just all around violent behavior.  Finally, it is the last week of school, and the principal would kick her out, but her father promises he's going to send her to her uncle in upstate New York to work on his farm. Now, the funny thing is they tie her down with jump ropes to tell her this.  She of course is not happy about this, but kind of sees that she does need to do something as she is not even sure why she has all this rage and is behaving this way.  She gets to the small town, her uncle shows up, and right away things are weird and crazy!  Then, she finds out he is a reaper, living in a town full of reapers. And he has figured out that her behavior will make her a perfect "Killer"/reaper.  There are partners, a killer, who touches and pulls the soul out of the bodies, and the culler, who collects the soul into a container to be taken back to the afterlife.  Now when they go to do their job, it is like they are frozen in time, and so everything in the scene is stopped.  Lex sees the murderer in one of her first jobs, and wants so bad to be able to kill the bad guy. But that is against the rules.  You can only kill who is supposed to die.  However, they soon find some strange killings are going on, deaths with the cause unknown both by their sources, as well as the people in the real world.  And while Lex kind of understands why this person is doing it, she also knows she really needs to find who is doing this kind of vigilante reaping.    Even when she kind of sees why they are doing it.
First, let me touch on the one thing I had a problem with.  The way Lex was at the beginning, violent and all that, I have trouble identifying with a character like that.  Kind of like I did with Wildefire by Karsten Knight.  But again, same as with that book, once I got into the story, and understood why they were the way they were.  And I grew to really like Lex.  Her sense of humor was awesome.  And I just loved when she'd go to punch people or something similar.  I really liked all the people and their sarcasm in this story.  I really liked the town, and I can't wait to go on and read the next in the series, Scorch.  This was a book I read in basically a day, I didn't want to put it down when I had to, and was always thinking about picking it back up and reading constantly.  The "romance" in the story was so tongue in cheek, without being sappy and silly, and I loved it, seemed so realistic and perfect for the the character of Lex.  There were even a few bits that reminded me a bit of Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortunate Events, in how something would be explained, that really you probably already knew, but the way it was done was funny and fit perfectly.
Me with Gina Damico at BEA 2012
Oh yeah, one last thing I have to complain about with the book.  On page 141, one of these explanations says that "As everyone knows, the offer of an onion ring is not to be taken lightly."  Okay, I can go with that, onion rings can be pretty tasty, but the next line is where I beg to differ, "Onion rings are far more valuable than their throw-away side dish counterparts -- french fries and potato chips..."  I would so take french fries over any other side dish.  So, a little disagreement there.  :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wake (Watersong #1) by Amanda Hocking

As always I'd like to thank the people who made it possible for me to read an advanced copy of this.  I was fortunate enough to walk into work at Barnes and Noble and see this sitting on the break room table.  As I had fallen in love with the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking, I immediately grabbed it and stuffed it into my locker to take home.  Thank you to St. Martin's Press for sending a copy to my store for me to get!
Okay, first I have to say that this is my first foray into the "mermaid" genre.  Although, technically, they aren't mermaids per se, but sirens.  I do have to say that I was not disappointed in the story though.  Again I can see that Hocking has really built her own mythological story with all the details to make the story work.  And even though we don't know quite everything, I mean, if we did, why would we read on, you can see that there is thought behind what all is happening, and a reason for it.
The main character is Gemma, she's 16 years old, and loves swimming, in fact she's so good, that she's working towards the next Olympics.  And she's starting to notice the boy next door.  And he's noticing her right back.  She lives with her father and her older sister Harper.  Their mother was in a car accident a while back, and hasn't quite been right since then.  So she had to go live in a  home where there would be people to keep an eye on her.  It doesn't sound like a nursing home type of place, though, so not bad.  So since that, Harper has felt that she must fill in for Gemma as her mother.  Something that Gemma sometimes feels is a bit annoying, as any teenager would for an older sister acting that way.  Recently there have been 4 new girls in town, although one has not been around as much.  These girls are Penn, Thea, and Lexi.  Harper gets an uneasy feeling around them.  They're beautiful and popular, but there is something dangerous or menacing about them.  Gemma likes to go each night to the sea and swim when no one is around, even though she notices the 3 girls in one of the coves each night, but she stays away, because she wants to swim in solitude.  One night, the girls call to her, and it's like she can't resist, even though she wants to, and so she goes up and hangs out with them in the cove.  They give her a drink, after which she gets really out of it, and wakes up on the beach the next morning, unable to remember what happened the night before.  But now she's grounded for staying out all night when her father and sister wake up to find her missing.  The truth is that Gemma can now really swim, and she feels even more beautiful.  In fact she seems to have a bit more of a mesmerizing effect on the boy next door, Alex.  But as you would assume, there is a price to her new powers.  And the mysterious girls are the reason, and hold all the answers.
As I said before, the story did not disappoint.  My only issues, first, I don't like that the parents are called by their first names.  It confuses me.  I don't remember what other book I read that in recently, but it just is weird to me.  Second, when I first talked about how much I liked the Trylle books, someone commented that they'd heard Hocking's e-books had lots of grammar mistakes.  I didn't notice any in the Trylle books, but I do have to say that I did in this one.  Yes, it is an ARC, so I'm sure they'll all be fixed before it is published.  I hope.  And when I say grammar mistakes, just really things that probably came from writing quickly to get the story out, thinking ahead of the line she was one, etc.  I do that too sometimes.  Thank goodness for editors and friends who check things!
To wrap up, I am eager to read on in the story.  One funny thing, as I was reading this, I watched the Animal Planet's show about "real" mermaids.  It was funny to me that I just happened to watch that as I was reading a book about the topic.  And this gives me a bit of a nudge to go ahead and maybe dive into some other mermaid types of stories.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rift (Nightshade Prequel #1) by Andrea Cremer

I was very lucky to get this ARC at BEA and even get it autographed by the author!  I was very excited to read this book.  I love the Nightshade series, you can see my reviews of the books here:  Nightshade, Wolfsbane, and Bloodrose.  So I was very interested to go back and learn where it all started.  Yeah, we got the history run down in Wolfsbane, and then of course more in Bloodrose.  But to go back and actually follow the people from the history, well that is what makes me enjoy learning about REAL history.
So, knowing all this, at first, I was a little disappointed.  I don't know why, but for some reason my brain didn't think that we'd go quite so far back in time.  But once I kind of figured out that we kind of had to in order to get to the beginning of the story, I really got into the story and was hooked!  As with the original series, we have a strong girl as our main character.  Only now, we're in more medieval times, when women were expected to marry well to bring their family money and status.  Never should they be warriors.  And yet our main character is Ember, and she has gone off on her own into to practice with a fake sword, for as long as she could.  She could never let her family know, they wouldn't understand, and her father is a bit of a tyrant.  But her friend, the family friend, Alistair, when he comes back, now as a guard of the Conatus, he does know, and has always known she wants this.  Ember is promised to Conatus as repayment when her mother was having trouble giving birth to her, and they helped out. Her father does not want to lose her, it would be losing her possible marriage to another lord's son that would help his family.  But Ember cannot wait to be free and get the chance to do what she wants!
Her family is escorted to Tearmunn, where the "convent" or place of the Conatus is.  Ember must choose a path, the paths are between being a warrior, knowledge, and crafts. She chooses the warrior room, and soon must face a trial.  And the trial is something she never knew was real.  A creature, dead, yet living.  And she is able to defeat it.  When she comes out, she is welcomed into the Guard.  She now must train.  At first she believes she will be training with the other female guard member, Sorcha.  But when her father once again protests, Barrow says he will train her.  And now she is training with this man who she is in awe of.  He seems to be a great leader, as well as really know the way of a warrior.  As they train, she feels differently about him.  But she is not sure how.  Alistair surprises her by making a pass, saying he knows that this is why she became a warrior, so she could be with him.  This is of course not true, and her relationship becomes strained with him.
The Guard must fight many different supernatural creatures, as terrible things begin happening in the villages surrounding them.  One of the Conatus members is sucked in to the evil, by a name we've heard before, Bosque Mar.  He wants to make a deal to help the Conatus with these evil creatures, such as wraiths, again creatures we know from the Nightshade series.  We're left at the end with all of the Guard and other members of the Conatus having to choose to leave quietly to escape the evil that is taking over, or to choose to be a part of the new group.
And now, I have to read on!!  Can't wait for the next book in the series!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rape Girl by Alina Klein

First  as usual, I must thank both Netgalley, and the publisher, Namelos, for allowing me to read an egalley of this book.  The story is exactly what you think it is about, a girl who is raped.  The story is very realistic, I think what happens is something that happens a lot.  The main character is Valerie, a normal teenager, who throws a party when her mother is out of town and she has the house to herself.  There is a boy she's hoping will show up, Adam, and finally he does.  Unfortunately, Valerie has been drinking, doing shots, and having wine coolers that a popular girl shares with her.  So by the time Adam gets there, she's a bit drunk.  Adam also has been drinking, and decides to play a game of spin the bottle, but with just himself and Valerie.  And so of course, he matches up with her.  And they go into another room.  Valerie's alcohol intake stops anything from happening as she pukes all over his shoes.  She ends up sleeping on the couch after everyone has left.  She doesn't remember what has happened.  But she wakes up to her clothes being taken off her body.  And Adam is there.  Her little sister is outside playing in the snow, and while she tells Adam no, she doesn't want to make too loud of a scene, because she doesn't want her little sister to come in and see this happening.  So, it happens, he leaves, and she immediately goes and showers and throws her clothes away, and tries to hide it.  But her mom comes home, and it's Thanksgiving, and she can't hold it in.  The story comes out, she names Adam, and the police take her story.  But now, her best friend doesn't believe it was rape.  People at school are against her because it is her word against Adam's, and he is the popular one.  When she finally gets back to school, she hears someone call her the "rape girl".  And that becomes her experience.
The book doesn't necessarily do anything "new" for this type of book.  It's very short, and is pretty much just straightforward.  The story is good, you do feel for Valerie.  And as someone with personal experience with this type of thing, I did really understand the feelings and such.  The feeling that it was Valerie's fault.  One line I really thought was good, was the fact that rape is the only crime where a victim must prove their innocence.  That really sat with me, because it is the truth.  A sad truth, but a truth none the less.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Suck It Up and Die by Brian Meehl

I got this book thanks to Netgalley and Random House Children's Books. It's been a while since I read the first one, Suck it Up. That I read for a possible book on the Gateway or Truman book list a couple years ago. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't one of my top picks that year, I think that was the year of The Hunger Games and Gone by Michael Grant, that really drew my attention. But this wasn't a bad book, in a way, similar to the Vlad Tod series by Heather Brewer in that it was a main character of a boy vampire. In this book it is two years after our main character, Morning McCobb has come out as the "poster boy" for vampires that want to be accepted into society, same rights, etc., and they promise they won't drink human blood. Only a blood substitute. That part of course always reminded me a bit of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. The book started out kind of slow for me because it seemed everything was going along just as it was supposed to, no problems to overcome. Kind of how I always figured that whenever I'd wished a book went on, how it would have gone on without any big dangers or plot points to fight. But then we got a new villain, well, sort of a new one. He was created in the forest where all the vampires go when they die. And he joins forces with a human who is the head of a group of people that don't want vampires to live along humans.
Well, soon we learn that when a vampire is actually satisfied and realizing the thing they wanted most in their human lives, well, that causes an interesting change. And Morning begins to get framed by the pair of villians in the public eye. I feel this was definitely a good sequel to the first. I know the first one left off in a way that I knew there had to be a sequel, and this did explain a lot, and kept the series going. Not sure if this one leaves off for another in the series, but it's probably a good chance that it will.
I will count this one as my "U" for the A-Z Reading Challenge for the "Up" in the title.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Soul Screamers Vol. 2 by Rachel Vincent

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.
My choice this week is based on the books that I just finished and reviewed this week.  I'm ready to go on in the Soul Screamers series, but I don't want to buy all the books separate, especially when the covers of the compilations are so beautiful!  So I'm going to wait till November when this comes out to buy it, although I may have to read the stories inside by checking them out from the library before then.  This second volume will contain:  #3-My Soul to Keep, #3.5-Reaper, and #4-My Soul to Steal.  I just love this series, the moment I pick it up I'm immediately sucked back in.  Some series if I don't read them right away it might take a bit to get back into, but not these!

I feel like this is such a short post this week since I didn't describe each of the stories within the book, but that's okay I guess.  So tell me, what are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

I've finished the Volume 1 book in the Soul Screamers, by reading book #2 My Soul to Save.  But before I can go on to the Before I Wake that I got from BEA, I will have to read numbers 3-5.5 in the series, and that will include two "half" books, 3.5 and 5.5.  But Volume 2 doesn't come out until November, and it only includes up to book 4.  Sooo, guessing I'll be looking to the library to check them out and read them, and then purchasing the 2nd volume when it is published in November.  Aaaah!  So complicated.  Plus, I'm guessing at some point there will be a volume 3 too, and while I own #6 already with Before I Wake, I'll have to wait for that too.  Such craziness.  Oh well.  But let me say, I honestly was able to give the volume 1 book 5 out of 5 stars as I gave each individual story inside a 5 star rating.
My Soul to Save was not disappointing at all!  Of course there will be spoilers here if you haven't read any yet, but I'll try not to make them big ones.  Kaylee is now living with her father, who returned with all the troubles going on with her aunt in the 1st book.  Her father is not extremely pleased with her new boyfriend, Nash, who is also a bean sidhe (which means banshee basically), but as a male he is able to help her with her screams, in fact her screams sound like music to his ears.  Her cousin really is even more hateful to her, blaming Kaylee for her mother's death.  At the beginning they get tickets to go see a big star, turns out Nash's brother, Tod, a grim reaper as well as a bean sidhe, knows the girl who is the opening act.  While at the concert, the headliner, Eden, just collapses on stage.  Kaylee assumes she'll be okay because she doesn't get her usual urge to wail as when other people die.  Turns out that Eden sold her soul, so when she dies, there is no soul for Kaylee to wail for.  And soon we learn what happens when souls are sold, where they go, and what happens to those people when they die.  And Addison, Tod's ex-girlfriend, is next, she is on the reaper's list because she will supposedly kill herself in a week.  And when Tod finds out she also sold her soul, he wants to save her, because when you die without a soul, whoever you sold your soul to is able to torture you forever.  There is no rest, no heaven or afterlife in this case.
What I love about this book is the look into the Netherworld.  I love how we are learning what this "universe" for this author's stories is like.  The world she has created is so complex.  And I love how it all works out.  These are the kind of books that make me realize I could never be an author, that I should stick to reading, because it just amazes me how they've thought of all the details.  Made their worlds work.  I know that what we've learned and seen in this story will definitely tie in to future stories, whether it is just that we now know how things work in the Netherworld, or have an idea what Kaylee and Nash will have to face if they need to go there.  So good.  I'm ready to read on, if I had the rest of the books between this and the #6 that I do have, I'd definitely read on.  I do love when I can just read straight through a series and not have to wait.  But, alas, as I said before, I don't have the next couple books.  So, it's on with the books in my TBR pile, and on my Nook from Netgalley.
Really, if you haven't started these books, you should give them a try.  I just get sucked right in every time I pick one up!

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent

So I'm actually reading this as part of the compilation book Soul Screamers Volume 1.  This is 0.5 in the series.  And let me say, this is one of the best "extra" stories to go with a series that I have ever read.  Of course since I've already read the first in the series, I know what is happening to Kaylee.  In the first book, this incident was referred back to several times, but just the main thing that happened.  In this book, *SPOILER ALERT* Kaylee first starts her wailing, as a banshee, or a bean sidhe as they are technically called.  But she doesn't know what she is, or why she can't stop.  And it happens in the middle of a shopping mall, and she even begans scratching at her own throat trying to stop it.  And this last bit is what gets her in a mental hospital ward, strapped down to a bed until she wakes up and calms down.  But there is something even more interesting going on here.  There is another girl in this hospital ward that seems to be seeing something, or knowing something is going on.  And when Kaylee gets the urge to do the wailing again, this girl, Lydia, is able to help her stop by somehow taking the pain away from Kaylee.  Unfortunately it is about this time that Kaylee's aunt and uncle come back to get her out of the mental ward, because as we know, they know she doesn't belong there.  So now, I really want to know what happened to Lydia, and why she can do what she can do.  I'm reading on to the 2nd book now, My Soul to Save, so I know I have quite a few more to go.  I'm hoping that maybe Lydia, or a similar person will show up later on in the series!  Once again Rachel Vincent has sucked me into a great story!!  And so it was so exciting to meet her at BEA, even though I didn't get in line in time to get a book signed. But she was so nice she did have an extra copy of Before I Wake that she left at the booth for me to pick up the next day, and she autographed it!
Rachel Vincent and I at Harlequin booth BEA 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

I've been wanting to read these books for so long.  The covers, the title, the premise, it all just sounded so good.  But as always, I have such a huge stack of TBR books, that I just never got around to it.  At the end of the school year, I decided to check a bunch of books out of the school library, and this was one of them.  It's also the first book I decided to read from that pile from school this summer.  And it was a great choice!  The book was long, and it took me awhile to get through, but not because it didn't suck me in, because even though I only worked at my part time job one day this week, it seemed I was busy.  Cleaning house, visiting family, seeing movies, etc.  But this book, when I picked it up, it was so hard to put it down.  I was about 170 pages from the end when I went up to my room to read before bed last night.  I planned to read until I was done, but did get sleepy after reading all but the last 30 pages.  And I didn't want to fall asleep, so I put it aside and finished it first thing this morning.
The story is told from a male point of view, and sometimes this isn't my favorite way, but it was good this time.  The main character is Ethan Wate.  He lives in a small southern town, a town where everyone knows everyone, and they still barely think they lost the civil war.  He's had these dreams for awhile now, where he must save this girl.  He lost his mother not too long ago, and his father has kind of gone off the deep end, only spending his time in the library/office, writing.  So Ethan is basically being raised, well he is a teenager, by Amma, the housekeeper, a superstitious woman.  A new girl moves into town, Lena Duchannes.  She may be new to town, but her uncle is the town hermit/recluse, and lives in the house all the kids have always imagined being haunted.  As soon as Ethan sees her, he knows, or figures out that Lena is the girl from his dream.  And they have a connection, they can talk to each other in their minds.  Everyone is against their relationship from the start.  The townspeople who shut out anyone new.  Amma, who just says she feels there is only trouble with her.  And even Lena's uncle, Macon Ravenwood, says they will only have trouble if they stay together.  It turns out Lena is a Caster, kind of like a witch, but not exactly.  And when she turns 16, her family has a curse she must deal with.  Ethan is still drawn to her, and soon seems that he is her best protection when other methods fail.
I loved the story.  I loved all the background, all of what you'd call the "mythology" of this type of supernatural being, the Caster.  I like how Ethan has a good friend, Link, who will stick by him, even as the others in town, who used to be "friends" step away the closer he gets to Lena.  A great book, a good ending, and I'm so ready to read on to the next one, Beautiful Darkness, although that may have to wait till later, with all the other books I need to read. *EDIT* I forgot to mention when I first posted this review, that the story somewhat reminds me of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.  Not in a bad way, because I love both books.  Just the new to town, the magic, etc.  My review of Unspoken will be posted in August, a month before the book is published.  So you'll have to check that out and see! *EDIT*
Have you read this book or series?  What did you think?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I only read this because I was able to borrow it from my sister, and because as many people were buying it and going crazy over it, I felt it was important I at least gave it a try.  And I wasn't really mistaken in my original thoughts about this book.  I gave it a 1 out of 5 stars on  Now, let me warn you that this is definitely a very adult book, and so my review will have some very adult topics and examples in it, so please don't read on if you are afraid you'll be offended.
First, the good?  Well, I can understand a tiny bit how it can be enjoyed.  It is very titillating in the sex scenes.  They are very explicit, and definitely can get a person's mind imagining.  However, I have seen similar writing of these types of scenes in the Penthouse Letters books.  Yes, I have read those before.  I went to college, those things were around then, and it was a naughty thing to read now that we were away from home and on our own.
Unfortunately, that is really the only good thing about the book.  So now I will describe all the problems I have with the book.  One reason I was not going to read them, is that an author friend of mine had said she'd started reading it, and it was so similar to Twilight she couldn't go on.  Okay, hopefully everyone knows this book started as Twilight fan fiction.  And if you are a fan, both of the books, and have seen the movies, you will see all the connections in the story.  The brother named Elliott.  All the fancy sporty cars that Christian Grey, the "Edward" of the book, owns.  Anastasia, our "Bella", who just goes by Ana, like Bella instead of "Isabella".  When Ana is in a bar drunk, kind of in trouble, Christian shows up out of nowhere to save her, like Edward did in Twilight when Bella was in trouble in Port Angeles.  Which, there is your setting too, it all happens around the Seattle area, as Twilight is in the state of Washington as well.  Ana's mother lives in Florida, and is scatterbrained, and divorced, etc.  And Bella, excuse me, Ana goes to see her, and her mom just seems to know there is something different about her with this guy.  Now, those are mostly things from the book.  But, anyone who watched the Twilight movie, without having read the book, didn't understand how Bella and Edward fell in love, and it is like Fifty Shades of Grey followed the movie technique in that you don't really understand how the two of them are in love.  I could name so many more Twilight connections, but I'll move on to another criticism.
The second thing I have to say is that it is so poorly written.  This article by Patti Greco sums up one of the problems:  The 50 Worst Synonyms in Fifty Shades of Grey.  And I hate criticizing the writing for the main reason that as I began reading it, I actually am afraid that it reminded me a bit of how I write.  So I can take that one of two ways, either I'm a sucky writer too, or if that's how "good" my writing is, I should finish my novel and get it published.  And I don't know if the writing got better as I got further in the book, or if I was just used to it by then and ignored the problems, but I didn't notice the problems as much at the end.  Also, this whole "inner goddess" bit that kept being brought up, really got old and annoying.  It was not a clever device to use, at least not to the extent it was used.  The "laters, baby" thing.  Also so stupid sounding.  If someone said that to me, I'd laugh at them, seriously laugh AT them.
And the third problem.  Okay, anyone who ever said that Edward was a stalker and abusive boyfriend, well, I hope that those aren't people who like this book.  This guy IS a stalker, whereas Edward really did do the "stalking" to protect her, Christian Grey shows up in all kinds of places, her work job, then he is there at her college graduation as the speaker, then he just happens to have a business meeting in Florida when she goes to visit her mother and get some space to think about her relationship with him.  How is that giving her space and time to think?  And why is she okay with it?  And abusive?  Edward "wants" to kill her, but as we see, he keeps himself away from her until he is able to control himself so that isn't a problem.  Mr. Grey does not keep himself away, and the way he wants to have her is through BDSM, a very interesting acronym for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism.  He even says he only wants her if he can discipline her.  When she rolls her eyes at him, he wants to spank her, and even does it one time!  Now, okay, whatever floats your boat in the bedroom, okay. I don't have a problem if that is what you're into.  But the fact that he NEEDS it that way.  He won't let her touch him.  I admit I've only read the first book, and I'm going to assume that he gives in and gets more normal eventually, but wow.  It's like the old saying that you can "fix" someone.  You know, sometimes yes, sometimes no, but don't count on it.  I can see that the idea of some of it might sound exciting and spice up a sex life, but I'm not sure a lot of it is that great.  And really, with all the tools and such in the "red room of pain/pleasure" I don't feel that Christian ever gets quite that far into what could be done, at least not in the first book.
At the end of this book, she tells him to make it as painful as he would ever go.  And she doesn't like it.  And she leaves.  He's shocked, and hurt.  I'm sorry, but he's hurt??????  Another reason I began reading this is because another review I read said that she did tell him no, and he did it any way.  I'm not sure I found anything in this book that seemed that way.  At least not in a way that he didn't change her mind to where she was okay with it.  Until the end, and then she let him do that, but knew that it wasn't what she wanted.
I could actually go on and list more issues I had.  BUT, this is already getting to be a really long review, and I don't want to really spend any more time on this.  Now that I have actually read it though, I am having a harder time when people who buy it at the bookstore go on and on about how good it is and didn't I really enjoy it.  I can't say to them that I thought it was horrible written, I'm supposed to be selling books.  So I just say that I can see why it is such a big deal.  And leave it at that.  And, I was not left hanging at the end, I am glad she left, and don't really care to read about her changing her mind and going back to him, as she obviously must do since there are two more books.
Please leave your opinions in the comments, whether you agree with me or vehemently disagree, I really do want to hear my fellow bloggers' thoughts.  I just ask that you keep your comments based on the book, or reasons I have listed, and don't do any name calling of me, (of course :-), or of other people who may comment with their opinions that may differ from yours.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi Ashton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.
This week I've chosen a sequel to a book that is a long way off before it is published, not till next January!  But I got to read the first as an e-galley from Netgalley, so I'm hoping maybe I can get my hands on the next in the series the same way.  Here is the description from

Two months ago, the Tunnels of the underworld came for Nikki Beckett. That night, Nikki's boyfriend, Jack, made the ultimate sacrifice. All Nikki wants is to save Jack before it's too late. All Cole wants is to find his queen - and he thinks Nikki is the one. Both determined, both desperate, Nikki and Cole form a tense alliance, leading them on a dangerous journey to The Heart of The Everneath.

What book are you eagerly awaiting?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell

I really enjoyed the book Total Constant Order by this author, in fact I made it a staff recommendation at the bookstore where I work too.  So I was so excited when I got to meet her at BEA this summer.  And I also got an advanced readers copy of her latest book, Narc, autographed of course!
Now, unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first one, but it was still overall a pretty good book.  I know exactly which students I would recommend this to, and I could actually see it as a possible nomination for our state reader award lists, based on books in the same thread that have been on the lists before.
Narc is a story about exactly what you think, a boy who becomes a Narc in his school.  It all begins when he makes a mistake, he is driving with his sister, and runs a red light.  The cop who pulls him over finds drugs in the car.  Aaron knows they are his, but his sister must have found them in his room and taken them, so the cops find them on her.  They give him a deal to keep both himself and his sister out of jail or juvie, he can go back to school and help them discover who is actually supplying the drugs.  Aaron was always kind of a loner, one might call him a bit of a loser.  But now he comes back, and must figure a way in with the kids that might have the answer to this question.  He starts with a couple girls.  Ones he knows have the big parties, and even seem like they do drugs.  But one, the one he really likes, Morgan, also has a jerk ex-boyfriend, who kind of senses something is off about Aaron.  Aaron's home life isn't great either.  His father died taking pictures of the war.  His mom has been working a ton, and kind of become a bit of an absentee mom.  He knows his sister is up to something, she's too young for a boyfriend, but is out visiting one, someone they don't know.
Some issues I had with the book.  It was a bit confusing in how he was dealing with the situation.  The way he went about getting in with the other kids.  I didn't like the way the police were, I know, it is supposed to be from a teenager's point of view, a teenager being coerced into doing this against his will.  I just don't feel like the cops really worked in the story for what I would think they would actually do.  I did like the use of the Facebook stuff, social media is such a big deal these days with bullying and similar things.  But the way it was put forth in the book was almost barely there, kind of confusing for me.  I feel it could have been fleshed out a bit more.  Although I did really like the way he got some clues about who was doing the online sabotage, based on things he saw.  I won't say what exactly, don't want to spoil that "a-ha!" moment in the book.
One thing I personally LOVED, was all the references to the Marx Brothers. I am such a huge fan of them, in fact was back when I was younger, and even in the 80's, most people my age didn't know who the Marx Brothers were.  Just as it is for Aaron in this book. I love that it was a family thing for him, as it was for me with my grandpa.
Crissa-Jean Chappell
All in all a good book for what it was supposed to be about.  I did really like the ending, both the climax when it all went down, and the "afterward" part.