World-building: WOW! I am wicked impressed with Kendall's world-building skills! The world she has created is intense and it took me a while to acclimate to it all. In this world, you have the Dreaming (dream world) and the Realis (real life). You also have Aers, Wæters, Fyres and Erthe elementals. These elementals have different functions and personalities, but we get a major dose of the Fyre elementals, whose personalities are exactly what you imagine: passionate, fierce, dangerous. The elementals feed off of the Wylding (humans) in the Realis, but need skin contact in order to absorb elements; their life force. In the Dreaming, it's an entirely different ballgame. However, elementals aren't supposed to be in the Dreaming. When they invade the Dreaming and mess with the Wyldlings therein, the seriously mess up the Balance. As Kendall states here: "Though the Dreaming is the collective unconscious of the human race, events that transpire there affect people in real ways." In other words, an elemental might suck the real life right out of a human! Therefore, Sentinels, beings with equal parts of water, air, fire and earth, have to guard the Dreaming and protect the vulnerable Wyldlings.
Confused yet? I was! But tell me that isn't damn interesting? It is seriously original and really sucks you in to the possibilities of it all. Wicked impressed, I tell you!
Characters: Gavin, our hero, is an Australian musician with tattoos and a lip ring. Rawr! I do love me some bloody fun Australian colloquial language. The use or arse and bloke had me smiling. Anywho, Gavin's conflicted about his past and struggling to go on with life when he meets our beloved heroine, Zoe, a whale biologist. Their encounters are anything but normal. Gavin is a Sentinel, and first meets Zoe in the Dreaming. Needless to say, their lives intertwine and their connection becomes undeniable. Gavin has lost his way and Zoe is just the spark to bring him back online. *waggles eyebrows* Note: See my favorite quote below. Gavin is full of protective spirit and when he regains his passion, his fire made me sweat! I absolutely loved watching his transformation. He has so much potential and I am excited to watch his growth. All of his growth. ;) Zoe is one hell of lady! She is fiercely passionate about her job, but her past experiences have taken a toll on her ego. She struggles to regain herself, though you would never be able to tell that from the outside. Zoe is admirable for standing up for her beliefs, regardless of the consequences.
There are other characters worth mentioning: Scarlet and Sinnder, Fyre elementals up to no damn good. Scarlet is one hell of a bitch, wrapped tightly in leather and fuck you. She is behind a master plan of which Zoe stands so firmly in the way. And of course, Scarlet has history with Gavin, but she is not yet ready for it to be considered history. She is out for blood. Scarlet is so easy to hate but she added such steam to this story. While I'm not a fan, I am totally digging her role and its effects.
SINNDER! Ha. Oh my. *fans self* Sinnder is Scarlet's lackey, or so she thinks. As Kendall described him here: "Sinnder’s an enigma. You just don’t know what the hell he’s about, what his goal is, or whose side he’s really on." I completely agree, as you never truly know his motives. His way of dealing with Scarlet and her unwanted advances towards him is sooooooo sexy. I love those scenes the most! Um, kitchen scene, anyone! Woot! He is just sexy without even trying. He bleeds sex. He is a Fyre, after all.
Whoa. Hot. The kind of hot that could make a woman feel like she needed a month-long vacation in a nunnery after one night with him.
Um. I have located my local nunnery. #JustSaying
Lasting Impressions: THE ENDING! THANK YOU FOR THAT ENDING, Kendall! And um, all the other in between stuff too. I cannot wait to pick up Exhale and continue on Zoe and Gavin's journey. And experience more Sinnder! And get scalded by Scarlet!
"I'm not finished with you yet," she whispered, dragging her hips up, down, squeezing her inner muscles around his cock. It was like fucking CPR. Brought him right back online.
I may have written this note in my Kindle: "That's what I'm fuckin talkin' bout, right there! #SmexyTime"(less)
Calla Tor is young woman who respects tradition and questions nothing. Just shy of 18, she is an alpha wolf of the Nightshade pack. Her purpose, and why she was even conceived, was to marry the alpha male of the Bane pack and form a new pack. Pack of what, you ask? Well, Guardians, of course! Yes, Guardians do change into wolf form, but I wouldn’t call them weres. No, they are something much more. Created with magic, Guardians are human and wolf at the same time, shifting from one form to the other with the ease of a blink. According to Calla, they are always both forms, only choosing which to use and allow others to see. Sounds like magic to me!
Guardians are the ancient protectors of the Keepers, a magical, mysterious bunch, and frankly, a group that puts a bad taste in my mouth *coughEfronandLukecough*. As you would expect, Guardians are bound to non-negotiable rules set forth by the Keepers, and these rules are not to be questioned. However, the idiom curiosity killed the cat must apply to canines, as well, because Calla find herself betraying the very customs that rule her existence. Of course, she starts off her treachery by saving a human boy from a grizzly bear and thus, exposing her true self…and this is only the first chapter! The story only intensifies from there on out, and Calla find herself questioning her reality to the very core.
The best part of this book, for me, where the characters. Cremer’s characterization is very impressive. I am very much attached to these characters and look forward to their exciting and treacherous futures. Thank the heavens this is a series! Ok, let’s start with the love triangle, shall we? Firstly, there’s Calla, who I find very noble and courageous. I was very impressed by the restraint of this young lady, and found her respect for tradition and culture refreshing. Then we have Ren, the young Alpha of the Bane pack, and Calla’s promised mate. Ren is an interesting character, leaving the reader wanting to wring his neck one moment, jump his bones the next, and finally, hug him until hurts. He is a complex guy who should not be taken at face value. Oh, and his nickname for Calla is Lily, and that alone is enough to make me swoon. And finally, there’s Shay, the human lad who Calla saves from a gory death. Shay waltzes into Calla’s life like a hurricane, uprooting everything she’s ever known. And, in the process, he challenges her to leave all the rules behind and think for herself. I adore Shay’s quirky personality and determination to free Calla of her chains.
The secondary characters are just as awesome. Bryn, Calla’s Beta, is one awesome sidekick. She is feisty and loyal, and is always able to say the right thing at the right time. Mason, another Nightshade, is admirable in the strength he possess for being different. And finally, Ansel, Calla’s younger brother, stole the show! I am so over-the-top adoring this kid! He is the epitome of the perfect younger brother; the one who lightly teases you, really listens to you, whole heartedly respects you and loves you unconditionally. His personality had me smiling every time he made an appearance. ADORE.
Another notable piece of this book is Cremer’s ability to write the most intense sexual tension I’ve come across! This is Young Adult, so there are no J.R. Ward or Gena Showalter smack-your-ass sex scenes. But damn – there didn’t need to be! I was panting along with Calla through her experiences with Ren and Shay. Fantastic writing!
As a whole, this book really touches on the concept of Freedom and how very precious it is. Calla’s world is overflowing with rules and mysteries, and to question or challenge these things equals a quick death. However, Calla eventually takes a stand for what she truly believes, regardless of the consequence. It is very similar to our need to stand up to the injustices of our own world, and how so many of us just let things be how they may, and never challenge anything we may feel is unfair / unequal…
One thing I will criticize about this story was my ability to guess what was going to happen. I am not good at this type of thing, in general, so the predictability must be up there. However, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I can’t express how much I enjoyed this book. Seriously. AND, if you can’t get enough of the Nightshade world, head on over to Shay’s blog! He posts videos and the like which correspond with his role in the books. So rad, me thinks. http://www.shaydoran.com/
P.S. I couldn't’ quote from this book because it’s an ARC. *sniff*
Amor Deliria Nervosa, aka Love. A disease that is slowly being eradicated from society. According to the government, love is at the heart of all wars, debauchery, deviance. If people cannot love, then people cannot hate, and society will be safe. Makes sense, which is why the government created a surgery to rid a person of the disease. This operation isn’t done until you reach 18. You are then given some appropriate matches and get to choose which one you want to betroth. Of course, you won’t make that connection until after you complete the college major that was chosen for you. And then you will have 2.5 children and live in a house with a white picket fence. And be content in your nothingness.
Despite the government’s direct, harsh methods, there are those in which the operation never works. These people are tossed inside the Crypts to waste away their lives in heartache and feces. Good times. Lastly, you have the Invalids, or the people who live in the Wilds. The ones that have escaped to uncontrolled lands to love until their hearts explode.
Meet 17 year old Lena, who is thoroughly looking forward to her operation because she wants to live a predictable life, just like everyone else…until she meets Alex and becomes infected. Lena learns the truth about her government in a very ugly fashion during a raid of an illegal party where adolescent boys and girls are mingling ( a major no no!) and unapproved entertainment is being enjoyed. This scene was brutal and Lena, who has been trying her hardest to deny thoughts of Alex, is suddenly in need of his rescue. Needless to say, Lena and Alex experience a secret, blissful romance and must make an ugly decision as to how to proceed with their lives. It is quite obvious they can’t continue on in society, and Lena’s operation date is slowly approaching…
I find it quite funny that they chose 18 as the operation appropriate age, as many, many teenagers fall hopelessly in love at some point in their adolescence, and teenagers are well known for their rebellious behavior. Yea, the government ensures that boys and girls do not associate with each other until after the operation, but where there is a will, there is a way!
Throughout the novel, the social worker in me couldn’t help but think about attachment and bonding between mother and child. If these women feel no love or affection, why is it that they give a crap about their children? While this world has almost eradicated crime, I can’t help but think about all the sociopaths that would really be produced from such an environment!
One thing I really enjoyed about this book were the various quotes and passages at the beginning of each chapter. Some were from the fictional texts of the world, some were bible quotes, etc. They all focused on what love looks like, feels like, the symptoms of love, etc. It really added to the seriousness of this dystopian world.
Delirium was the 3rd book with similar plot that I had read back-to-back. I’m not sure what possessed me to do it, but I enjoy the dystopian genre so I didn’t think anything of it. I thought the book was a normal, good read about 75% of the way through. It wasn’t until a certain turn of events occurred that the book went from good to fantastic. The ending was a real bite-your-nails moment and I didn’t realize how much I actually cared for the characters, especially Alex, until the end of the book. Those emotions crept up on me, kind of like love crept up on Lena. The final moments of the book brought tears to my eyes. I look forward to the next installment in this series because I just have to know the truth about the ending! [Looks like I also need to read Before I Fall, which has received much praise.](less)
Oh, dear Sam and Grace. One of the best couples to ever grace YA literature. Shiver was an incredible book. We were so lucky to have front row seats as poignant, passionate, pure love developed between Sam and Grace. For me, that intensity was lost a bit in Linger because of the introduction of Cole and Isabel’s POVs, but it was still there. Sadly, I feel that Sam and Grace’s emotions were muted and hard to find in Forever. Granted, Grace was a wolf for most of the book, but this means their scenes together should have been more electric, yet I did not feel that spark. While I recognized the intense yearning and concern they felt for each other, that original passion was missing for me. I understand they were under great stress as the stakes were quite high. This intense environment may have been what sucked the life out of them and that is understandable. It’s hard to focus on love and relationships when you have crazy men trying to gun down your pack. However, the passion was just not at the level I would have expected for the final book.
With all my thoughts on Cole and Isabel’s intrusion on Sam and Grace in Linger, I felt like they shined more intensely in Forever. I was way more interested in their damaged relationship this time around, watching as their flaws drew them together, like moths to a flame. As sad as it is to say, I became more interested in their relationship, finding myself missing their story when I was in Sam or Grace’s head. Plus, they brought snark and humor, which livened up the pages of this otherwise depressing story.
The first 100+ pages felt like filler and it was very unfulfilling to a beloved fan who was so excited to find out how it all ends. It wasn’t until a scene involving a sink hole and a terrified wolf, about 120 pages in, that I felt connected at all to the story. That was a very intense scene where emotions finally came alive. I thank this scene greatly, as I was very close to discontinuing the book.
The action in the book was terrifying, yet I never quite felt that from the characters. Yes, they knew the dangers and knew they had to act, but I never really felt like they were freaking out, which they should have been! The action was good and sad, then came the ending, almost immediately. The ending was disappointing and inconclusive. I don’t mind a story that leaves you to devise your own ending, but not when it is a major romantic story such as this. In my opinion, this story needed a solid closure.
As Parajunkee stated, this book should have been epic, but it was a let-down. While I wasn’t fulfilled with the ending of this timeless love story, there are many who were. Regardless of my opinions on Forever, I still find the author’s writing to be quite magical. She is a gifted writer who really makes emotions, character and scenes come to life. Her prose is whimsical, lyrical and emotional. I will no doubt read her future novels.(less)
This retelling of the Greek myth about Persephone and Hades is set in modern day and in no way feels like the famous myth that I know and lov...more2.5 hoots
This retelling of the Greek myth about Persephone and Hades is set in modern day and in no way feels like the famous myth that I know and love. However, the subtle influence is there and I thought this reimagining of a really interesting mythical tale was ok. It was hard not to compare Henry to Hades. I know it’s a retelling, but it would have been nice to see a bit of fierceness or enthusiasm. Instead, we get a whole lot of melancholy (understandable, but over the top nonetheless) and indifference. While Henry is a very genuine, honest soul, he was not a very dynamic character. I really wanted him to pack a punch, but he seemed so deflated throughout the entire book.
Kate’s initial reaction to Henry and his otherworldly abilities was completely unbelievable and that annoys me above nothing else. She finally questions him but by that point, I would have been long gone or in the psych ward. I know it’s a book and the rules are different, but just once, I would like our protagonist to flip out!
I was skeptical of one character throughout the story, but in the end, I was completely surprised by many characters. I enjoyed that mystery and surprise, and I’m still very unsure of one character’s motives. The best part of the book, to me, was the relationship between Kate and her mother. It was heartbreaking at times, and I really thought Kate’s emotional turmoil was portrayed well. It felt real, and Kate’s desperation was palpable. On the other hand, I didn’t necessarily feel the love between Kate and Henry. It felt contrived at times, and I couldn’t connect to their story. I do think their love is one that will grow with time, however, so I’m interested to see what becomes of them(less)
Interest in Book: After the ending in Pretty When She Dies, I definitely needed to know where the story would take Amaliya and Cian. The book ended on a good note, but there was a lot left up in the air. And, in true Frater form, she doesn't make it easy on her characters or readers!
World-Building: The world-building just gets me all giddy and excited in this series! I think Rhiannon is pretty masterful at this process, but I just love the little twist she throws into a seemingly normal, gritty vampire tale. Cian rehashes his vampiric history and I truly loved the lore expansion. We are introduced to a were coyote, a dhampir and a witch, and Samantha gets more than she bargained for when she decided to hang out on the wild side. The world expands nicely, but it doesn't make your head spin. And we get a taste of Amaliya's new life and powers right along with her. What an experience!
Characters: Rhiannon introduced more POVs during this installment, with many interconnecting story lines. Some of the characters are very tricky and treacherous. The bad guys are seriously bad, yet some might surprise you. Some characters make you laugh out loud, some make you sob, and others make your heart soar with love. Rhiannon has incredible characterization skills. She can build relationships up, break them down, smack them around and reel them back in. There is a lot of grey area with her characters, which keeps both the characters and the readers on their toes.
There was some growth with all of the main characters. Amaliya is learning more about what she is and controlling the power she possesses. Cian is opening up to the idea of expanding his family. Samantha's life becomes overwhelming and unbearable but with the help of her friends, she's able to gain control. I think this leads to some soul-searching and compassion-feeling, and Samantha's characters becomes a little less annoying. She does, however, have quite the mouth on her and she made me laugh numerous times. As did Eduardo, a new addition to the story who has eyes all over Amaliya. Amaliya plays it up, which makes Cian squirm. Fun times.
Lasting Impressions:The ending was an epic WTF and I just loved how it all played out. I truly love this series! It's gritty and entertaining. There is a lot of action, great lore and great smexy time! There is heart-break, revelations, soul-searching, romance and ass-kicking! It's got a little bit of everything that makes a book fun to read.(less)
INTEREST IN BOOK: If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Awaken was a book that spoke loudly to me. I was very wrapped up in the possibility of the scenario. I was also very affected by experiencing Maddie’s awakening, when Justin assists her in “unplugging.” It was beautiful to watch her reconnecting with her senses and experiencing emotions she never knew existed. Being that I’m a social worker, I understand how very important socialization and social support is for human beings, and this series really drives this point home.
WORLD-BUILDING: The world expands in Middle Ground as Maddie endures a life-altering trip to a detention center for her rebellious behavior. In Maddie’s world, detention centers take care of those who are unwilling to remain plugged in and participate in a mostly-digital life. Digital School brought safety and security to society, at the cost of togetherness and intimacy. Maddie’s father is the creator of DS, so her involvement in the rebellion to bring intimacy back to society is quite the scandal. Maddie’s experience in the detention center is horrific and we learn a lot about what is being done to keep society in check. I think my only real issue with this scenario was how easy it was to sneak around inside the detention center. I get that security was low because they control the students psychologically, but it just seemed too easy…
CHARACTERS: Maddie grew a lot in this installment. She was always brave and stubborn, but she really puts herself in serious danger to save many. I found myself rooting for her, then yelling at her, many times. She surprised me with her mature, selfless decisions, though I should not have been surprised. Maddie has always been willing to go the extra mile or 50 to do what is right. And then we have Justin. Geez. I might have to add Justin Solvi to the tippy top of respectable, amazing, glorious book boyfriends. I didn’t think I could adore him more, but I certainly do. What grabbed me most were his vulnerable moments. As Maddie pointed out numerous times, he certainly has issues letting people in and being intimate, and in Middle Ground, we learn why. Justin has been carrying around a lot of guilt and Maddie does her best to encourage him to remove the blanket of guilt and shame from his heart and soul. Those moments between them were so damn beautiful.
Gabe is worth mentioning, as I find myself thinking a lot about him during this review. Gabe works in the detention center and was integral in the dangerous planning by Maddie, Justin, and gang. I think he was a huge part in keeping Maddie sane throughout the story. Of course, all the characters that have befriended Maddie throughout this series, and continue to fight the good fight with her, are great in their own ways. Love them.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: It appears that we are going to have a third book in this series, as Maddie leaves us hanging with yet another heavy decision that she must make. In the end, I know she will do what she feels is right for humanity, but she will not be bullied. She has become quite the strong heroine, and she and Justin will stand up and fight until the war is over. Together.(less)
"You bitch!" he screamed. "I'll kill you for this!"
"Sure you will," I said in an easy voice. "Take a number and get in line."
Gin is always pissing someone off, even when she's out shopping for a nice dress with her awesome faux-brother, Finn. I mean, her breathing alone pisses you off, but then she goes and kicks your ass when you mess up her shopping date. And well, that pisses you off. Right? Well, that guy was sure pissed, and Gin told him to get in line. This is pretty much what her life now entails. A long line of people who are dying, literally, to get Gin dead. She's like a bad penny though and keeps coming back, shinier than ever. Her magic continues to grow, and in Deadly Sting, we experience one of the coolest tricks that Gin has ever done with her magic. It. Kicked. Ass. My jaw made nice with the floor during that scene and I have to admit I was impressed. Not that it was Gin's first time impressing me, but damn sure the most impressive trick to date. Chic's got mad skillz, yo.
Where was I. Oh, right. Gin's out shopping for a nice dress and stilettos (even though she'd rather stab Finn with them than wear them) because Finn wants her to accompany him to the opening of a fancy, schmancy art exhibit that is way too ironic to explain and spoil you with here. Unfortunately for Gin, Finn, and the hundreds of other folk attending the gala, including Owen, Eva, Philip and Roslyn, a certain giant by the name of Clementine has way more planned than you will find in the gala program. Clementine's master plan was pretty impressive and she livens up the party quite significantly. She thought through all of the details and things that could go wrong, but she didn't expect Gin Blanco. And Gin shows us all how to kick ass and take names in heels.
Gin reminded me of John McClaine, aka Die Hard, throughout this book. She was sneaking around, undetected, sniping and shivving people left and right. She loves the shiv. heh. I was pretty entertained by this thought and it really elevated the story for me. I pretended it was a movie and Gin was John's deadly, adopted sister. *snicker* Owen and Gin unexpectedly team up to bring down Clementine's giant horde, and working together forces them to talk things out a bit during their down time sitting in the prickly patch. Don't ask. Their emotions are raw and visible, but they remain level-headed and get the job done. Their last scene together had me clutching my heart and holding my breath. It was kinda beautiful.
Finn is gold in this book, but isn't he always?
“You do realize that the cost of that bracelet is within spitting distance of my going rate as an assassin, right?”
“You mean your going rate back when you were actually killing people for money,” Finn said. “Or as I like to call them— the good ole days.”
Oh. And the ending will please all of the Gin fans. It was a long time coming.
Being the last lady on the planet that has yet to read the Demonica series by Ione, I felt I needed to get my arse in gear and read something by this beloved author. It’s safe to say that I will be reading more, as I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment in the Lords of Deliverance series, which is set in the Demonica world. From what I’ve read, this book takes place shortly after the conclusion of the Demonica series…
I was immediately sucked into the story, and I love the interesting, dark world that Ione has created. I’m all over the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse storyline. And anything involving Greek Mythology. Ares (War), Thanatos (Death), Limos (Famine) and Reseph (Pestilence) are the Horsemen/Horsewoman of the Apocalypse. ;) I won’t go into the history, as that is for you to discover. However, this set of siblings has been cursed to carry the Seals of Armageddon, and they can only be broken via their agimortus. And when their Seals are broken, the apocalypse cometh.
This book is about Ares. Aka War, the second horseman. He’s strong, fierce, determined, yet has the ability to be gentle and compassionate. Battle, Ares’ horse, is BOSS. I think he might be my favorite character! And you know what is really cool about the horsemen’s horses? They magically live on their owner’s skin, like a living tattoo, and can be called out when needed. So rad. I need one like yesterday.
I enjoyed Cara’s character. She was fierce and strong, even when looking death in the face. She is a gifted healer and has endured trauma that she has not yet dealt with. Cara used to be a Vet and a friend drops off a hellhound puppy that is injured. Cara realizes something is different about this pup, but quickly works her magic and heals the little guy right up. He gives her a big sloppy kiss of thanks. A very special sloppy kiss. And thus, Cara is sucked into a world that she never fathomed could exist. On top of that, she soon becomes the lucky recipient of Ares’ agimortus, and well, he must protect her so he can remain semi-sweet Ares, instead of War.
Cara and Ares’ relationship is slow burning, but it hurt so good. Ares is not interested in becoming involved with a human because they die. We see some serious vulnerability from Ares when he finally lets Cara know why he is so guarded. She also has issues of her own, and eventually relays her traumatic past. I loved Ione’s use of quotes from past conversations in the character’s thoughts to illicit emotion, or make them come to a realization. Oh, and the smut was great. The shower scene was by far my favorite smexy scene. :)
Reseph is the first horseman of the apocalypse, and his seal hath broken. No longer do his siblings have the funny, warm brother that they loved so much. Now, Pestilence, as his name suggests, spreads disease and chaos like wild fire. He is one sick fock, but I loved the death, gore and destruction that he pretty much bathed in. Hmmm. What does this say about me…? Unfortunately for Cara and Ares, Pestilence is quite looking forward to War, Death and Famine joining the party, and sets out to destroy Ares’ agimortus. Uh oh…(less)
I received this book via Scholastic and it immediately peaked my interest. The premise is so interesting, and I definitely enjoy a good dystopian sett...moreI received this book via Scholastic and it immediately peaked my interest. The premise is so interesting, and I definitely enjoy a good dystopian setting. This disease called Ferae has ravaged the eastern part of the country and a massive wall was erected to keep the western population safe. Ferae causes mutation in humans, mutations with animalistic side effects. Bottom line, you don't want to catch Ferae, which is a blood born disease. A scientist is working hard to find a cure, since it is a man-made issue, but can man save himself?
The last half of the book is nothing like the first. Our main character, Lane, is also a very different character by the end of the book. Lane is on a very personal mission on the wrong side of the wall, and we all know how emotion can affect your thoughts and actions in the heat of the moment. I enjoyed her growth and believed her intensity and fear regarding her situation.
There is a love triangle. It doesn't bother me so much, but I'm just letting you know. The two guys were both great, and I adore them both for very different reasons. Rafe, the wild man that Lane meets when she ventures beyond the wall, is a sarcastic, fierce young man who makes a living off bringing down Ferals. He's a stark contrast to Everson, the Line Guard that keeps the wall safe from Ferals who may try and breach the wall. Everson appears more calm and calculating, with a tad more tact and softness.
The world building was super cool. It didn't start out extremely interesting, but as the plot builds, so does the setting and characters. The outside world is super dangerous as Lane quickly learns. She is a very trusting young girl and has a huge, compassionate heart. These traits aren't necessarily beneficial in this world, and Lane has to learn to listen to her instincts more. The setting at the end of the book was so rocksauce! It felt like a twisted Alice In Wonderland, with some equally twisted characters and situations. My kinda book, indeed.(less)
Meet Mackie Doyle, a 16 yr old boy with a dark secret. He lives in Gentry, a town that harbors even darker secrets. Mackie isn’t all that meets the eye. He’s a Replacement, a changeling that is left in a crib when the human baby is stolen. He’s lived life as Mackie Doyle, but in reality, he has no clue who he really is. His family loves him unconditionally and is very protective of him. The relationship he has with his older sister, Emma, is enough to bring tears to my eyes. She has never once thought of him as other. He is her brother.
Mackie’s life is difficult. Despite being different from every one else, Mackie (hate this name) has to maneuver life around the things that make him very sick – iron and blood - and he can never attend church where his father preaches because the moment he steps on consecrated ground, well…it’s not pretty. So who the bloody hell is this kid? And, an even better question is, who the hell is stealing human babies, and why?
The book was eerie and bizarre. The story was oddly explained and a bit vague is some areas, which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating. One things really irks me, and maybe someone can explain it if I missed it: Why did Tate single out Mackie to confide in? I assume if she knew what he was, or just suspected it, she wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with him. But maybe I missed something there. Maybe she did think he was valuable because he was other. Just seemed odd. *shrugs* Because of this, I could have cared less if there was any romance in this story. In fact, romance really didn’t fit, IMO.
On the other hand, the underlying themes of this story are fantastic. Us against Them. Unconditional Love. Identity. Judgment. Belonging. Inaction during Tragedy. Ohhhh, don’t get me started on Inaction! As a human rights advocate, I feel very strongly about how much the world sits by and allows such tragic and horrific events to happen in other areas of the world, and sadly, even in their own backyards. In this story, the town sits by, every 7 years, and lets a child be replaced by the changelings. The replacers somehow grant the town with prosperity (another vague piece) and so the townspeople turn a blind eye to the deaths of their children. These replacements don’t live very long, being exposed to iron, blood and the like. However, Mackie has survived and he becomes a pivotal point of change for Gentry.
The story is ugly but it speaks volumes of truth. The moral of the story, for me, is not who you are now but who you can be become. Tomorrow is a new day, and while I believe this world doesn’t take the time to ever live in the present – No Day But Today! – we definitely have the option to change. “It’s never to late to be what you might have been.” – George Elliott
I recommend this book to people who are up for the challenge. It is dark, ugly and different, but in all its fantastical glory, it speaks loads of truth about humanity and how we deal with those who are different from ourselves. This was a hot release for me, so I was so stoked to get my hands on an ARC! A major thanks to Tori from Book Faery for passing the ARC along to me! I really should share it with someone else, but I really love the cover…
[I could not share any quotes from this book because I have an ARC and you are only supposed to quote from the finished product. Boo.](less)
Interest in Book:Dark Inside was like crack. I could not tear my eyes away from the devastation and horror that the characters were surrounded by. Their hope and perseverance was just as addicting. I had to know where their bleak lives would lead. Into the mouth of Hell, no doubt. But I had faith, I tell you!
World-Building: The story opens 3 weeks prior to the end of days events in Dark Inside. We get glimpses into what was happening into the character's liver prior, and it appears that they were all experiencing signs that the end was near. When present day is back in focus, we learn that it is 3 months after the earthquakes. The four main characters from Dark Inside are now banded together along with various others. They have been surviving in a large home by gathering food, staying off the "Baggars" radar and trying to figure out what has happened to the world. They all face death head-on as they use their love and compassion for humanity to save people who have not been overtaken by evil. Unfortunately for them, evil is a sneaky bastard.
Characters: More perspectives are introduced into the foray and I loved that Daniel's was one of them. As suspected, this character really surprised me, especially at the end of the story. He is quite the special one, and I am looking forward to where his internal struggles take him in the next book. Clementine and Michael begin searching the university's campus for her brother, Heath, and stumble upon a survivor camp. The whole set-up appeared very cult-like but they did befriend, Raj, who brought smiles and humor to the pages. Aries is sneaking out at night to meet Daniel, who remains mysterious and refuses to live with the lot of them. Mason was quite the surprise in this book, and I believe he had the most personal growth. He steps up his game and really puts his ass on the line for the team, even though he constantly second guesses which team he is on.
Lasting Impressions: Lots of surprises, heartache and some triumphs occur in this exciting and treacherous sequel. I have not been so excited to read a series of books in some time and I am so upset that I have to wait for numerous months for the next one. We get a lot of emotion and action on both ends of the good vs. bad scale. I am seriously nervous for what lay in store for these characters!(less)
My Synopsis: Meet Susan and Alex Wendt, and their adorable daughter, Emma, a typical family living in Brooklyn, NY. Susan has quit her job to pursue her love of art, and has become obsessed with moving her perfect family out of their small apartment. Lucky for them, the perfect opportunity presents itself, and the family finds themselves living in their dream apartment.
Too bad that dream is squished like the big, juicy bedbug Susan finds on her pillow. And so the fun begins. Susan begins to freak out about a bug infestation that her husband and daughter have yet to encounter. She calls in an exterminator, who gives the apartment a clean bill of health, yet Susan falls deeper into bed bug Hell.
My interest in the book: Hello! Psychological thrillers are so fun to read. They make some of the best horror reads because of what they suggest. They plant a seed in our mind that has us questioning our own sanity. I like that look-over-your-shoulder-and-under-your-bed type of story. I like books that get in your head, and in the case of Bedbugs, get under skin.
Characters: Susan is a pretty normal woman who morphs into someone unrecognizable by her family. Alex is a hardworking man who really cares for his family, but finds it hard to handle Susan’s “issues” along with the stress of being the lone bread winner. Sweet Emma is a great addition to the story and I’m glad the author decided to include a child in the mix. An eccentric landlady, a shady handyman, a nanny, and a rough and tumble exterminator round out the cast of characters.
Worldbuilding: The world building for this book is pretty straightforward, as it is not set in a fantasy world, but in good ole NYC. Many of us may agree that NYC has its own set of fantasy elements, but the Wendts live in typical family-oriented neighborhood surrounded by shops, eateries and parks. The real world building takes places inside the apartment, where Susan slowly loses her grip on reality and the apartment warps into something straight out of a horror movie.
Lasting Impressions: Honestly, this book was great. I did find the ending a little hokey, but it did not detract from the terror and insanity that seeped from the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed the slow descent into madness and personally, would never, ever want to go through what this woman experienced…real, imagined or otherwise! In my opinion, when an author leaves you thinking about the book days after you’ve finished it (or in the case of Bedbugs, feeling the book days after), I think it’s safe to say that they did their job, and well.(less)
Val Shapiro is part succubus demon, part human, and loves using her bad ass skills to hunt down and kill blood suckers. She just turned 18 and was swi...moreVal Shapiro is part succubus demon, part human, and loves using her bad ass skills to hunt down and kill blood suckers. She just turned 18 and was swiftly kicked to the curb by her mother and step-father because she brings to much chaos to the party. They’re worried about Val’s lifestyle rubbing off on her younger sister. Can I just state what asshats her parents are? Her mother couldn’t handle Val’s succubus side, mainly because she was pissed at herself for being seduced by Val’s incubus father. It was a good lesson about how ignorance breeds fear.
Val is beyond hurt but uses that anger to kick some arse. While out on the hunt, she runs into a dog who eerily seems to understand her. Well, that’s because he does. Meet Fang. Half Hellhound. Half Pooch. 100% Awesome. All around snarky, which is why he’s definitely my favorite character in the book. Val and Fang become a team of win as the pair up to bring down the night.
Val is nothing short of feisty and independent, which is why I like her so much. She is not a fan of her succubus side, which she refers to as Lola, and does her best to keep that part of her packed tightly away. However, when she meets Dan, a P.O. on the supernatural crime unit and becomes his new partner, Lola perks up. These two have a rough journey ahead as they battle creatures of the night together, as well as their feelings for each other. Conflict occurs between them but the continue to work together because they make a good team.
The rest of the book is a mysterious, dangerous romp through the city as Val, Dan and Fang try to figure out what vampires are behind the sudden increase in human deaths and if the local all-about-peace coven can be trusted. Character development was pretty superficial and the story moved too quickly to really connect with anyone. However, the characters, snark and mystery kept me interested. Fun read. :)(less)
Interest in the book: After being introduced to Kendall's first book, Inhale, and devouring its wicked world-building a...moreCourtesy of Smash Attack Reads.
Interest in the book: After being introduced to Kendall's first book, Inhale, and devouring its wicked world-building awesomeness, I knew I had to continue on the journey with Zoe and Gavin. Their story is one that you want to finish. I want to see them safely through the end of their struggles. I NEED THEM TO BE OK! Ok?
First Impressions: The book leaves off exactly where Inhale ends, which I personally enjoy. We are catapulted back into the situation at hand, which is as hairy as your Uncle Mo's back. Emotions are raw and confused, and hellions are back on the loose to make life hell for Zoe and Gavin.
Characters: Zoe and Gavin are back with their stellar personalities, insecurities, yearning to experience life, passion for their respective jobs (and each other!) and compassion for others. Zoe is great and I really enjoy her voice in the story. She's insecure but her stubborn nature will not allow others in very easily. She is tough at her core but crumbles under the passion and adoration of Gavin. I think we'd all crumble. Gavin is a stand up guy. He's oozing with sex and definitely makes you want to take a cold shower, but the guy is just plain ole tender-hearted and good-natured. I frakking love experiencing Zoe and Gavin from the other's perspective. Aside from the serious intimacy of it all, I love knowing their thoughts in the moment, their insecurities and confidence, their happy and sad memories. I LOVE being inside their head. They balance each other but also challenge and push each other.
God, she was instant relief from all the shit flying around in his head. Her touch grounded him, put things in perspective.
Plus, their moments together never disappoint. Their encounters don't always end happily but their passion and adoration for the other pours off the pages.
He'd always viewed kissing as the path of least resistance to achieving the goal of bedding women. But Jesus, this wasn't a kiss. It was a fucking experience. Like discovering a new world. And the intoxicating atmosphere in Zoeland turned his bones to jelly.
And the HEAT they produce together is steamy. Kendall's use of phrasing always bring home a win.
He leaned in for a kiss, but she avoided his lips by dropping to her knees. She sucked his dick stupid.
Of course, Scarlet and Sinnder are never to far behind where Zoe and Gavin are concerned. Sinnder was so perplexing throughout the entire book. I love his mysterious nature. He constantly has me guessing where his loyalties lie and if his heart is as fiery as it's supposed to be. He is my favorite character in the series, and his role in this whole clusterfuck is becoming more and more interesting! Scarlet really upped the ante in this installment and bitch took psycho to ultimate levels of crazy. As much as I want her to go out in an everlasting flame of good riddance, I LOVE her character. She is seriously one of the best villains I've come across in a long while.
Fuck. If she'd been an ordinary human, Scarlet would have been classified as dangerous, but the Fyre Elemental label upgraded her psycho status to platinum deadly.
World-Building: You want world-building? You got it. Rich, intense and interesting world-building. Characters that jump off the pages and sear you with their interesting, engaging and sometimes down-right scary personalities. Two different parallel worlds that affect the other in tragic ways. And whales! YAY!
Lasting Impressions: Kendall Grey has talent and a beautiful heart. Did you know she was donating all proceeds of this trilogy to whale education? That, to me, is pure heart and compassion and a cherry on top. I wanted to be a marine biologist throughout my entire childhood, and dolphins were my passion. I completely get where she is coming from, and also love how she weaves them into her storytelling.(less)
Amelia cannot remember anything about how or why she is dead, and she has no clue why she’s always drawn to High Bridge Road. She is evidently in Limbo, and thus, still has a purpose to serve. When she saves a young man from drowning by pure will alone, her afterlife forever changes.
What I really loved most about this book was the evolving, innocent, endearing relationship between Amelia and Josh. I adore these two together. The more intimate their relationship becomes, the more awakened Amelia becomes. The story is told from Amelia’s POV, and the scenes where her senses and memories return are beautiful and exciting to read. I also enjoyed Josh’s family history and purpose, of which you will find out when you read it. ;)
There were some aspects of the story that I really didn’t like. The entire Eli / High Bridge Road plot felt odd and not flushed out enough for me, or maybe I’m just a big ole dummy and couldn’t quite grasp the concept of his character and purpose. Eli was certainly a creepy character and served as the evil entity in the book. Plus, he added some great tension to the story. However, his entire role was just weird. I don’t know how else to explain it. I also thought Josh believed Amelia’s circumstances way too easily, although as you find more out about his family, it starts to make sense.
The author’s descriptive writing was a joy to read and really set the tone for some of the spookier elements and scenes of the story. I absolutely loved the ending of the book and will read the next installment.(less)
I am loving the Greek mythology explosion in books as of late. I love Urban Fantasy and was attracted to this book because of the spin on Greek mythology. The authors decided to use the entire pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, the Fates, the River Styx and Charon, Tartarus, Cronus, etc., while adding vampires, lychens and witches into their mythical story. Our protagonist, Kyana, is a hybrid vampire/lychen, which means she is pretty bottom of the barrel in this world. However, because of her mixed heritage, she has the superior skills of both species and thus, becomes Artemis’ best tracer. Tracers work for the Order and find the Chosen, those who have been marked to absorb the power of the pantheon, as they are dying out.
Kyana is a tough pill to swallow. She is Alpha Female to the core and will not accept any help, comfort, etc. Her hard outer shell is soon explained, and as the reader, you are equally heartbroken and horrified by her experiences. As a social worker, I’ve begun to look at people differently, and this definitely crosses over into book characters. My perception of Kyana from the start was accurate, and my heart opened up to her as the story progressed. Aside from being spat upon by all other races, Kyana’s mixed heritage brings about some other, more personal issues. Vampires are not known for their commitment, and Lychens mate for life. Not a predicament I’d like to be in.
Ryker is the bastard son of Ares, God of War. Ares isn’t known for his gentle ways with women, and Ryker grew up hating the SOB. He’s only involved in his world at all because Ryker’s anger led him down a path of destruction, and his exquisite fighting skills attracted the attention of his father. Due to Ares’ treatment of his mother, Ryker vows to never become involved in a casual relationship. He’s in it for love or not all. Kyana and Ryker have an icky past that is relayed to us gradually and there is much bickering and strife between them throughout the book. However, the POV switches between them, so the reader is allowed a glimpse into their vulnerable sides. This allows us to feel some compassion for their situation and connect with them, all the while wanting to bash them on the head and scream “get on with it!”
Per Artemis’ rule, Kyana and Ryker unhappily team up to find out who the hell opened the door to Tartarus, letting all the big, bad uglies out into the world. More importantly, how did they get the key from a long dead and exiled Cronus? All in all, I enjoyed the book, albeit it took some time to become engaged. I thought the ending provided a nice segue into book 2. This book is Urban Fantasy, not Paranormal Romance. While we do get some tender scenes and a few hot, steamy ones, sex is not a major part of the story. A few prominent book bloggers did not finish the book, so you can see how widely varied our opinions and interests are. We can’t like them all!(less)
This was a very interesting book. What stood out most to me was how confusing the story was in the beginning. And once I got into the story, I realized it was so confusing because our protagonist, Allison, was also very confused. She wakes up in a psych ward with no memory. She slowly regains bits and pieces of her past, which point to the demise of a classmate, Tori, at the hands of…her? I enjoyed learning about Allison and her past right along with her. Interesting perspective. She also remembers how different she is from others. You see, Allison’s senses work differently. To her, sounds makes colors and shapes, have a distinctive taste and she can sense color by touch. Her senses are in overdrive, and then some. It is wicked cool to read these descriptions.
I was drawn to this book due to the setting, and well, that is linked to my profession. I really enjoyed the mental health speak, mainly because I can now say “Hey! I know what flat affect and poverty of speech is!” or “Man, Kirk is having a manic episode.” And the Rights Advocate that Allison, meets with – I want that job! She was a mental health advocate and helped Allison understand her rights as a patient, and helps her navigate the system and looks out for her best interests so she isn’t screwed. I want to do that! :)
The first half of the book was way interesting as Allison regains more of her memory and tries to piece together what the heck actually happened to Tori. A researcher begins to work with her and helps her to understand her ’sense’ sensitivity. There is a major turn of events about 75% through the book, one I certainly did not see coming, and one I did not enjoy. It really veers from the psych ward setting, and the storyline got a bit hokey for me at this point. Up until this moment, I really liked the book. I’ve read other reviews that liked this major turn in the plot, so maybe you will too. If this premise sounds interesting to you, give it a go!(less)
b>Interest in Book: Duh. It's a zombie book! And then I opened it and read the dedication. SO MUCH WIN. I knew immediately I would enjoy the author's voice. It turned out to be exactly what I expected: quirky, dangerous, campy, highly entertaining and just plain fun. It's not your typical serious zombie post-apocalyptic book, but it definitely has some gory moments as a band of teenagers try to figure out just what the tittlepop is happening in their little slice of America. Of course, underneath all the silly fun are some heavy themes, mainly corporate monsters and the food industry, which are one in the same, I suppose.
World-Building: Nick, aka Nero, is a normal teenager living with his perceived deadbeat of a father, The Dude, and his younger sister, Amanda, who has Asperger Syndrome. Nick works for a major chicken production plant and after a serious(?) incident, he ends up at the "Inward Trek" camp for juvenile delinquents. I think the incident was silly, but it connects the plot later on so I guess it gets a pass. On the way to camp, Nick notices odd occurrences but writes it off strange human behavior. Once at camp, the zombie infestation lands right outside their tents, literally. From there on out, lots of chaos, death, funny one-liners and tough chicks grace the pages as Nick and gang try to save humanity.
The zombie encounters were wicked fun and a tad gory. The zombies appeared to have some sort of rational grasp on reality, as they were able to use strategy a time or two. I absolutely love the groups' descriptions of the zombies, as camp counselors, camp mates, joggers and random people become flesh-eating hellions. The source of infection turns out to be connected in a big way to Nick, and his stance at the end of the book was unexpected.
Characters: Nick was the protagonist and as always, it's nice to read from a male's perspective. I really enjoyed the flashbacks where we learn more about his family. He also has a constant back and forth with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in his head that was ridiculously fun. however, Nick stood out the least. The author brought life to the supporting characters in a big way because they are all memorable. Every single one of the delinquents that Nick is unfortunately stuck with during this bizarre adventure had serious personality. When the zombie outbreak finally reached the group of misfits, I was laughing hardcore at their reactions. Idle and Billy start dropping beats, yo! And they use yo. Love!
I adored little sis Amanda. I've been around Asperger kids, and have a few friends whose children have been diagnosed. I think the author really captured the personality characteristics of this disorder. The author used a lot of question marks when Amanda was speaking, in between her words, to evoke emotions or maybe her constant questioning and wondering? I'm not sure. It was hella annoying at first, but then I realized it was only with Amanda and it made more sense.
Lasting Impressions: I really wish I could post some quotes, as this book is highly quotable. This was my first book by the author and I really enjoyed his style, commentary and phrasing. I loved the use of Zombrules throughout the book, which were just downright hysterical. My favorite spoke of Ztockholm Syndrome. Scary shit, people. The chapter titles were also really creative, as well as the Fresh Bukket Menu and the Incident Reports. The blood splatter at the beginning of each chapter gets bigger and bigger, too. All of this supplementary material and creativity really brought the story to life. Unfortunately, the ending fell flat for me, but it really didn't detract from my enjoyment throughout the book.(less)
Interest in Book: I read Jeff Hirsch's The Eleventh Plague and found it to be entertaining, but I had issues really connecting to the characters. That being said, I loved the world-building and themes in the book, and enjoyed the writing. Once I read the synopsis for Magisterium, I knew I wanted to read it and hoped for more in terms of character connections. Plus, I really had to find out what was on the other side of that fence, and I desperately wanted to know who the creepy Charlize-Theron-Evil-Queen character was on the cover. The cover is just incredible!
World-Building: Holy Awesome, Batman! I was immersed in this world when the characters finally take a trip across the invisible divide. The two worlds, or realities, are extremely different in every sense of the imagination. The modern-day world is the one Glenn has been growing up in, but on the other side of the Rift, reality is far different. Once she crosses the fence, Glenn is presented with magic and mystery and creatures and mayhem. I ate it up! I loved how starkly different both realities are, and how instantaneous the change was once you crossed the barrier. And this obviously caused issues for the characters. You see, Affinity, or magic, does not work once you cross the Rift. The same goes for technology. Problematic, or life-saving, when you are being chased down by power-hungry loons!
Characters: It was very hard to not like the characters in this book, and for that, I am grateful. Glenn was easy to like. She had hardship but her resiliency has led her towards a bright future. She is very studious, intelligent, and curious. She possess morals and seeks proof in her world, as any scientist would. Her father, a brilliant scientist, has lost himself in his work since her mother's disappearance many years ago. Due to her father's influence, Glenn relies on technology and proof to shape her world. None of this magic hocus pocus stuff appeals to her, though her geeky best-friend, Kevin, teases her about the possibility of such things. Kevin was a good, loyal friend, and as you can easily guess, there are some romantic tension between the two.
I was quickly interested in the creature Aamon, who we meet once Glenn crosses the Rift. He appeared very protective and interested in Glenn's well-being, but I always wondered where his loyalties lie. I think his character was the biggest surprise of all, one I was not expecting! Opal Whitley was another interesting character that really grabbed my attention. The reader's first encounter with her is eerie, but she soon morphs into a very useful character. And then, of course, we have the Magistra, the evil entity that is the driving force of this story. The scene where the reader first meets her will blow you away. Just think of that book cover in real-time. It was like out of a movie. I re-read it a few times because it was truly magnificent and eerie to experience.
Lasting Impressions: Bravo, Mr. Hirsch. This was a home run for me. I was engrossed in the story and a few scenes on the magical side of the rift were truly breathtaking to experience. The pacing was great and the descriptions were fantastic. The idea of having two realities side-by-side, so very different from one another but also so dependent on and threatened by the other, was a fantastic idea and all the intricate pieces were woven together well.
If you love magic, alternate realities, great world-building, eerie and intriguing characters, give Magisterium a go!(less)
Tempest Rising is my first experience with mermaid fiction. I love the ocean. I wanted to be a marine biologist my entire childhood / adolescence. I’m...moreTempest Rising is my first experience with mermaid fiction. I love the ocean. I wanted to be a marine biologist my entire childhood / adolescence. I’m not much of a beach goer anymore because skin cancer runs in my family, which means I’m pale as a ghost. However, I love to walk on the beach, watch the water ebb and flow, listen to the waves. It’s very peaceful and serene. Yet the ocean is also a very deadly, menacing environment, as the author so well portrays in Tempest Rising. I loved the author’s description of life under the sea. It was magnificent, and made me yearn for it.
Tempest was on OK protagonist. She was a fairly typical adolescent, who was self-absorbed and all “woe is me.” I’ll give her that though, as her seventeenth birthday was quickly approaching, and along with it, the inevitable decision: to be or not to be (a mermaid)? Tempest has put a lot of time and effort into hating that side of her heritage due to her mother’s abandonment of the family for the ocean life.
What did bother bother me was Tempest’s attitude toward her boyfriend. She was quite rough with her sweet, invested yet jealous guy, Mark and had a hard time remembering his name when Kai made an appearance. This was a bit annoying and put a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, she’s a teenager and teens are egocentric. However, she constantly told herself she was being an asshat but continued to do it. I can only take so much teen drama sometimes.
As far as Kai goes, he was the most likeable character, for me. I found him mysterious, mature and masculine. While I was not sold on the connection between Tempest and Kai, I ended up enjoying them together. I definitely feel that Kai brings out maturity and sensitivity in Tempest, and he urges her to do what is right, even if it is a hard choice.
The author threw some other ocean mythology into the story, and I absolutely loved it. This made the story more interesting, for me. All in all, the second half of the book was more interesting and exciting, as I enjoyed the underwater scenes the most.(less)
It’s not often that you come across a book that is way more experience than plain ole reading. Before I even opened the book, my experience with Le Cirque des Rêves began…
It took me a month to read this novel. It was not for lack of interest, but because I would carefully read and absorb and experience the book in small doses so as not to miss anything. The layout of the book is extraordinarily creative and imaginative, and it is quite obvious that the author was intent on providing the reader with much more than just a book. And that she did.
All the characters in this book are magical, even the non-magical ones. You will find yourself wrapped in their histories and current situations, and you will laugh, cry and love right along with them. I am quite enamored with twins Poppet and Widget, who play integral roles in the Circus’ future. I am also quite fond of the author’s ability to turn the circus itself into a character. This circus does not “fake” magic, it is infused with it. No one knows when the circus will arrive in town, it just magically appears. It is is worldly, traveling across oceans with ease. It is its own entity, full of wonder and excitement. The circus is the stage for an enchanting competition between two incredibly talented and magical opponents who never expected the end result.
One scene I really enjoyed took place inside a tent that a character discovers. It is filled with hundreds of jars, bottles and boxes. When the boy opens a container, his senses are transported. In one container he experiences the ocean and sand, in another the desert heat and silk. One container takes him back to the holidays with his family. To me, this book was a container that transports you to the magical journey within its pages.
A group of people who become fascinated and infatuated with the circus’ magic join together as rêveurs. The rêveurs await word on the next location of the circus, and take off to enjoy the circus in its new setting. For those who have read and will read this book, I think it’s safe to say that you will join the rêveurs with me, put on your red scarf, and follow The Night Circus to the end.(less)
This book starts right where book one left off, and the author takes no mercy on Rhiannon, slamming her face-first into serious action. Being who she is, Rhiannon doesn’t back down from the fight, and with a serious task at hand, bulldozes her way through her mission. This story is very different from book one, as Rhiannon is in a completely different setting and is faced with rules she would never dream up in 101 years. I found the story to be clever, entertaining and shocking, packing a good punch when needed and leaving my heart in pieces at the turn of a page. I can’t say that the plot of this book was a favorite, but it delivers the goods nonetheless.
Rhiannon is one of those characters who has a nice mix of vulnerability, snark, compassion, spunk, decisiveness, intelligence and loyalty. She will open a can of whoop ass if you screw with her loved ones, and she follows through, always. These traits, plus so much more, are why I find Rhiannon an admirable lady who I would love, love, love to have a drink with after work. From the very first paragraph, I was excited to have Rhiannon back in my life.
"Rhiannon's Law #22. You can’t lie to yourself, so don’t bother trying. Doing so only multiplies your douchebag level to the umpteenth power and confirms what others have been saying about you for years – that you are an idiot. Of course, I couldn’t fault those guilty of breaking Law #22 from time to time, as I was prone to do so myself. Like now, for instance."
The regular cast of characters are present, but they too are faced with new settings and rules, and we see very, very different sides of people, both good and bad. We are also introduced to new characters, who I could have lived without. Sure, they added drama to the story, but my blood was boiling over their abusive, fucked up views of reality. I wanted to slap a bitch on many occasion. All in all, The Renfield Syndrome is a story packed with action, love, betrayal and one hella dirty skank. It’s a wild ride from front to back and will leave you laughing, crying and gasping as you join Rhiannon in her quest to save mankind. (less)
Interest in Book: I'm a huge fan of this series and have really enjoyed the tumultuous, emotional and dangerous journey that Rhiannon has been on since page one of Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between. I'm pretty sold on this series and will follow Rhiannon through the end.
World-Building: J.A. has created Rhiannon's world with such skill. It is chaotic and dangerous and scary, but it makes sense in terms of the story. I wasn't sure there would be anymore surprises left in terms of world-building, but Rhiannon really got herself in deep with some half-demon-vampires, and witnessing their lifestyle was horrendous. As Chelsea states in her review, nothing is ever easy in this series. No one gets by unscathed, emotionally and physically. The characters are given no reprieve. The book opens with a bang and the actions continue to escalate from there on out. The setting is dangerous and the villains are from your worst nightmare, full of venom, malevolence and completely devoid of mercy.
Characters: Rhiannon continues to be a fierce character who refuses to lie down and play dead. Her internal strength is blinding, despite her nightmarish past. She has been physically training her body into shape, and continues to harness the powers of Marigold Vesta, a fallen angel she made a deal with in The Renfield Syndrome. Rhiannon is put through the ringer in this book, and so was I! I was an emotional mess after finishing this installment, and I'm seriously afraid for Rhiannon and Disco's future. She always seems to come out alive, but she and Disco have really gotten into a heaping pile of Hell and Demons this time!
I'm a huge fan of Disco, though I was immediately reminded of his douchebaggery in The Renfield Syndrome. He was also a bit of a bastard in one of the scenes where his wishes became a bit forceful. I was angry and shouting at him, but it was apparent his desire and love and carnal appetite for Rhiannon were not going to go unheard. Thankfully he keeps his head on straight and really stands by her side in the end. He could have easily walked away and saved himself, but he is in it for the long, hellish haul. I personally think they make a great team. Also, the extent of Disco's true powers was astonishing! Color me impressed. The revelation regarding Disco and his maker, Marius, was a bit unsettling, but I wonder if Marius will prove to be of use to Disco in the future.
I enjoyed Paine SO much in this installment. Thinking about his character makes me sob. The emotion this character puts out is so palpable, and his strength, determination and courage is so admirable. Bane is a character that I hope gets more page time. His mysterious nature and motives are quite intriguing. I have a feeling he will play a role in Rhiannon's game of survival. And Marigold Vesta! Holy cannoli. I knew she possessed serious strength and power, not to mention sheer fury for her situation, but she surprised me. I think my mouth was hanging open during the entire scene where she and Rhiannon get a little too close for comfort. I think Rhiannon better stick to her side of the deal...
Lasting Impressions: I was eating lunch one day while reading a scene involving half-demons and their idea of fun. I have a pretty strong stomach, but may I suggest refraining from food during the demon scenes? :) All in all, this is one dark, gritty and emotional ride for Rhiannon and gang. It is my favorite in the series so far, as I could not put it down and stayed awake into the night to finish it. I am eager to see where the story goes form here, but also extremely terrified to find out the fate of Rhiannon and Disco!
"Stalking ins't cool unless you're an Edward."
My mind was no longer functioning on a rational level. For fuck's sake, who needed rational when they boarded a train to insanity? All that was missing were the Oompa Loompas and Willy-fucking-Wonka.
Interest in Book: I started talking to the author on Twitter, and next thing I know, I have the opportunity to review her book. I had not yet heard of this series, and I am so happy that I know of it now. I love Shifter and Were books, and well, with a lone female wolf who is feared by the supernatural community, I was definitely game to find out what is so special about Jessica McClain.
World-Building: The book opens up with a bang as Jessica is woken up out of a dead sleep when her body endures its first shift into wolf form. This comes as a serious surprise to her, for many reasons. Firstly, she should not even be alive, as females born to weres never, ever occur. Secondly, a shifting female? Say what? She is an anomaly that has sparked much interest and fear since her birth, and with a pesky prophecy hanging over her head, let's just say that Jessica's life is now on the fast road to danger and hardship.
This book set up the world quite nicely. The Pack dynamics and politics were very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the brotherhood and camaraderie between the members. Other supernatural beasties are prevalent in this world, such as witches, vampires and other were animals. Vampires play a pivotal role leading up to the next book, and they were creepy to experience. Definitely not your shimmering type.
Characters: Jessica McClain is the daughter of the North American Pack Alpha, Callum McClain. Pretty much the baddest bad ass of his kind. Her brother, Tyler, is as dedicated to her and her father, and their relationships were endearing and heartfelt. Jessica has been living as an alias for the past seven years so she could live a normal human life away from the pack. Unfortunately for her and the rest of the supernatural community, her first shift has put into motion some serious treachery and a supernatural showdown is imminent. I enjoyed Jessica's character development. She is a fierce chic who does not back down due to possessing boobs instead of balls. She is a courageous as they come, though her new found powers and abilities are not quite known to her, or anyone else, which puts her in serious danger.
Packmates James and Danny, as well as best friend and business mate, Nick, are rocksauce. Danny is adorable with his accent and confidence. He has some of the best lines of the books, most of them aimed at Jessica's buxom chest or tight ass. James is Callum's second and a powerful, rockhard, sexy beast! His devotion and dedication to his pack and protecting Jessica are evident in his bold actions. And Nick is just fun and always there when Jessica needs him. Her only gal pal, a witch named Marcy, also delivers some light commentary and has a great personality.
And then we have Rourke. *rawr* Rourke is a deadly mercenary who ends up in town, seeking an audience with Jessica. After a series of events, Jessica finds herself alone with Rourke as they flee to safety deep in the Ozarks. Some revelations are had and some battles are fought. Rourke is an ancient werecat of some kind, though no one who has seen his were form has lived to tell about it. His raw energy is enough to light up the night sky and he is about the size of a boulder. I am hoping that we get to witness his cat form. The guess Jessica made about his were-form has me SO intrigued! That would ROCK!
Lasting Impressions: I was really impressed with this book! It reminded me of Rachel Vincent's Shifter series, which is a mega favorite of mine. I really love reading about Pack life and experiencing the harsh politics and extreme dedication among pack mates. Plus, there is an uber strong female lead who is trying to figure out her role in the world. I also loved the inner monologue Jessica had with her Wolf. It was humorous as hell watching the two as they got to know one another. And the author made me giggle profusely anytime Jessica's Latina neighbor, Juanita, made an appearance. Her thick Spanish accent was hilarious to read. The romance is minimal with a few damn sexy scenes, but the romance is the numero uno catalyst for book two, Hot Blooded! All in all, a fab start to a UF series!
If you love weres, pack life and politics, sexy, strong characters and great action, put this one on your TBR!
Interest in the book: After reading Abandon, I was surely going to follow Pierce's journey into the Underworld. The book leaves off right where Abandon ended, which made the story seamless. I am pleasantly surprised and entertained by this retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth.
First Impressions: The book opens with a horrific nightmare that Pierce wakes up from in terror, and suddenly realizes those curtains aren't familiar. Oh, right. Pierce is not in her bedroom. She's in John's. In the Underworld. And he's next to her. On the bed. This is not a situation that Pierce is ready to encounter. Oh, the woes of teen love!
Characters: Pierce is still that same odd young lady who doesn't quite fit in with others, but she has matured greatly due to events in Abandon. She remains fiercely protective over her family members and is distraught at the thought of never returning home to tell her mother that she is ok. Pierce meets some new characters that live in John's home. They all seem to think he's a captain and they kind of act like seamen. This may or may not be related to a major hurricane and sunken ship and all this other lore that surrounds Isla Huesos.
Pierce becomes more curious about John's true origins and learns more about him throughout this installment. Of course, John fears the worst and believes Pierce will see him as a monster. While I disagree heavily with John removing Pierce's choice and free will, he does his best to see that she is happy, even though he is seriously afraid of the dangers she faces. His conscience is on a constant give-and-take and I would hate to have to deal with that! But still, Pierce forgives him way too easily...
I have to mention the Mourning dove that John gifts her in the beginning of the book. The bird is very symbolic to Pierce and her relationship with John, and it also symbolizes something else for Pierce: Hope. So yea, that's what she ends up calling the bird, even though she is against the name in the beginning. The thing about Hope, you see, is that she pops into existence when Pierce is in trouble or needs assistance. Of course a bird can't do much to assist a human, but she is great at alerting Pierce to danger. Not only that, but Meg Cabot gave her the sauciest, sassiest little personality, and trust me when I say you will adore this bird!
World-Building: I really enjoyed the time spent in the Underworld. Despite the title, a lot of time is spent "above ground" as Pierce and John try to save her cousin's life. Of course, the Furies have a different agenda and they face perils of all shapes and sizes. What time is spent in the Underworld, however, really moves the plot forward. I enjoyed Pierce's discoveries of the other characters and the changes that have occurred in the Underworld due to her compassionate heart.
Lasting Impressions: This series is entertaining, and while the romantic relationship between Pierce and John is not quite right, what relationship is perfect? He is the caretaker of the dead and she is a teen girl who has been chosen as his consort. Things are bound to be less than ideal, though these two do their best to understand the other. The action was great, the secondary characters were fun and the plot has definitely moved forward. I look forward to Awaken!
“...Did you see him? I know the photo was grainy, but he looks like one of those death metal goth heads, or whatever they’re called. All dressed in black with long hair —”
I took umbrage at my mother describing my boyfriend this way. John was the Lord of the Underworld. How else was he supposed to dress?”
Interest in Book: I won this book during ArmchairBEA. I had not even heard of it, but the title and book cover interested me so much that I didn't even need to read the synopsis. I'm not sure that I ever did. "And girl created boy..." was surely going to provide some thought-provoking content, and I was right.
World-Building: This book appears to be set in present day, though I thought it was futuristic due to the apparent advances in technology. Terra Spiker owns Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, a multi-billion dollar biotech company. Her scientific teams have cured diseases and are held in high esteem around the scientific community. She is pretty much Queen Bee in the scientific/medical communities and will refuse anything short of that title and respect.
The book opens up with a grisly scene that catapults Evening, Terra's daughter, into a whole lot of reality, and propels the reader right into the story. I LOVE when books open with HOLY SHIT! scenes. When you can grip a reader like that from the beginning, you also have to keep us interested. For the most part, the book did just that. I enjoyed the scientific aspects greatly, especially when science and creationism clash in epic ways. The ramifications and WTFs of this world keep you turning the page! I think my only issue was with the ending, which did not go in a direction I was expecting, and it was all a bit dull for me.
Characters: Being the teenage daughter of "Terror" Spiker has its pros and cons. I'm not sure if Eve would be able to identify any pros at this point in her life, but her mother sure would! She uses her power and influence to remove Eve from the ICU immediately after a horrendous injury. Terra claims her company's technological advances are far better for her daughter's prognosis, and whisks her away to her own hospital in the Spiker Biopharmaceuticals complex. This makes sense if your mom has such resources, but the way Terra reacted during that scene was so cold and scientific. Not at all like a mother would be acting in such a scenario! My antennae went up and I wondered about this woman's real motives from there on out.
Accompanying Eve in the ambulance, since her mother could not fathom being enclosed in a space laden with micro beasties, is Solo, a Spiker employee. Solo is a bit too young to be fully employed by her mother. He's a lackey, given the crap jobs and no one really pays much attention to him. He also lives at the complex, which immediately makes you wonder about his family. He slowly reveals himself to Eve throughout the story and helps her puzzle together some serious reality checks.SERIOUS. It's pretty easy to adore Solo, even though he comes off as less appealing at first. Being who I am, I immediately thought about the causal factors for his actions and words, and by the end of it all, I was cheering for him.
While Eve is recovering in the SB complex, her mother puts her to work: create the perfect man. Of course, she provides Eve with a very advanced technological program in which to carry out this interesting, and entertaining task. Eve names her creation Adam and feels proud of what she has created. She pays great attention to the details - personality traits, intelligence, appearance, biological components like metabolism, prone to acne, diabetes. It was a fascinating look into genetics and really makes you think about what represents perfection to you.
Of course, Eve has absolutely no clue just how important Adam will become in her future...
Lasting Impressions: I enjoy multiple POVs when they are done well, and this book made me happy. It also made me think. Lots of questions about genetic modification, survival of the fittest, creating the perfect human and playing God come to mind. As a society, we are hell bent on perfection, when the sad fact of the matter is, perfection is unattainable because what is perfect to one person is not perfect to another. As a whole, society will never, ever reach perfection because of the vast differences each person embodies.What we should focus more of our energies on is happiness and acceptance. I will never be a size 6. I will never have thin legs. I will never have big eyes. I will never have the IQ of my husband. I will never be as spontaneous as he is, either. I have a bit of a controlling side, think I'm right more than I am, and can be a bit of a firecracker with a sharp tongue. I am ok with this because I have a lot of other things that I am happy with, both physical, mental and emotional. We have to stop searching for the perfect this or that, and start focusing on what we have and how it adds to our lives.
Smashtastic Synopsis: Meet Caitlyn, a Para on the run with her mother. Caitlyn lives in a world where being different gets you a life straight out of a Stephen King novel. Therefore, Caitlyn and her mother keep moving so that the government ParaTroopers do not learn of Caitlyn’s incredible telepathic abilities. When Caitlyn settles in a small town and falls for Alex, a Normal, things get heated. Caitlyn discovers a dangerous group of renegade Paranormals who are more closely connected than she could ever imagine. Faced with difficult decisions that will affect society as a whole, Caitlyn must choose between hiding in plain sight or standing up for humanity.
Interest in the book: Ever since reading Scars, I knew I would be a life-long fan of Cheryl Rainfield. I love her honesty and raw emotion, along with the simplicity and straightforwardness of her writing. I knew this book would be worth the time and was grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC. Characters: Caitlyn is a pretty stellar character. The reader is granted a front row seat as she slowly evolves into someone who refuses to allow others to suffer, even if it costs her everything she has. Her telepathic abilities are strong, as she is able to alter people’s decisions by planting seeds of doubt in their minds. This is clearly against her morals but she uses her ability in the fight to stop the oppression of her people, but also to save Normals. Her decisions are never one-sided, and she struggles with the weight of these decisions. While constantly bombarded by hate and disgust for her kind, she refuses to let these messages sway her perspective. The story aligns Caitlyn in a very straight shot to the dark side, so to speak, yet she fights to remain pure and true to ALL of humanity. She is a true hero and I want to hug her.
Worldbuilding: As you learn about the dire situation the Paras face, you begin to realize how much this world parallels our own. Paras are hunted and imprisoned merely because Normals fear their abilities, which stems from ignorance. Ignorance is prevalent in our own society, which leads to racism, discrimination, oppression and a plethora of other issues that should have long ago been eradicated, seeing as how we have evolved as a race. While there are certainly renegade Paras who take matters into their own hands and relish in the idea of hurting those who oppress them, there is a strong theme that tolerance and more importantly, acceptance, is the best path.
Lasting Impressions: As the author always sets out to do in her writing, she has given us a world rich in meaning. So many real-world issues are brought to light in this book: government control, oppression, racism, homophobia, sexism, and the basic right to life, dignity, liberty and security. The author does a splendid job of weaving these themes into this story. And we all know how much I love a story that brings real-world issues to our attention. My only irk with this book was the romantic aspect, as it never felt real to me. However, I do understand the importance of the Para/Normal relationship in propelling Caitlyn into uncharted water, forcing her to fight to survive.
Smashtastic Entertainment Scale: Great fun and extremely meaningful(less)
I love Thea Harrison's Elder Races series. I truly, truly do. It's magical, full of amazing world-building, characters that light up the pages, and in...moreI love Thea Harrison's Elder Races series. I truly, truly do. It's magical, full of amazing world-building, characters that light up the pages, and intense, passionate romance. All of the full-length books and novellas have been a sheer joy to experience. One of the most well-crafted paranormal worlds ever, and the romance is just incredible. If you have not experienced this writer's talent yet, get with the frakin program!
That being said, of all the amazing pieces of fiction set in the Elder Races world, this novella is my favorite so far. The world-building was minimal, but the love story was one of the most beautiful I've ever read. I was touched beyond belief as I watched Aubrey and Xanthe's love blossom and consume them. Seeing as she had to care for him while his body recovered from a brutal attack, it was only a matter of time before their close quarters brought them closer together. It happened so naturally, so beautifully. Their reactions and inhibitions and emotions were so realistic and palpable. On the lighter side, I loved when Aubrey playfully teased Xanthe after he realized that she had a crush on him. And I love how he occasionally slipped out of his political role and said Fuck. It made me laugh just as much as Xanthe. It's really hard not to love these two.
Of course, it did not hurt that Tiago, sexy beast that he is, had a few scenes. I sure do miss him, and he hasn't changed a bit. Always professional, but still putty in Niniane's hands. Heh. And they don't call Niniane Tricks for nothing. That's all I have to say about that!(less)