I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading Finding Mia; it'd been awhile since I read the synopsis so I didn't go into this YA contemporary wit...moreI was pleasantly surprised when I started reading Finding Mia; it'd been awhile since I read the synopsis so I didn't go into this YA contemporary with any expectations, yet really enjoyed this heart-wrenching story of family and self-discovery. Mia was an incredibly strong heroine, who I clicked with - her individuality was really inspiring, and her fears when it comes to her new family are completely relevant and understandable. I found her very genuine and sympathetic, and warmed to this story right away. I actually didn't want it to end!
My favorite part of Rachel K Burke's story was the characters. They all contributed to the story, from Mia, to her outspoken friend Gretchen, who was a layered character, to Evan, Mia's boyfriend. While I definitely didn't agree with all of Mia's actions, she was a lost teenager, and I could absolutely identify. Her struggles made her seem more real, although there were times when I wanted to jump into the book and give her a shake or a talking to. I was really moved by seeing her try to find a way to not just get along with her father and step-mother, but find a way to let them into her lives. That was one of my favorite aspects of the plot of Finding Mia, although I also really enjoyed Mia's growth.
Finding Mia is a powerful story of a girl finding who she is, when she's finally able to step out from the shadow of her mother's illness. It's a character study, and a story of bravery, and second chances. The pacing was really nicely done, and Burke's writing style is strong and clear. I would definitely recommend this story to teen readers, because I think it will resonate with others as it did with me!(less)
As soon as I began Quarantine, I knew I was in for a wild, heart-pounding ride, with non-stop action and an easily detectable current of danger that c...moreAs soon as I began Quarantine, I knew I was in for a wild, heart-pounding ride, with non-stop action and an easily detectable current of danger that constantly dragged me under and into the story being told. Author Lex Thomas (a writing team made up of Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies) takes readers into a world like our own, yet different. There's truth in the tagline, "graduate or die." In Quarantine, the stakes are high from the beginning, and never lessen. Whereas for most of us, high school is about finding out who we are, for these characters it's about surviving the epidemic that caused the government to seal them into their high school. While I at first found that part difficult to believe - that the government would abandon so many people, and only send in food and basic supplies every two weeks - the authors convinced me. I was quickly drawn in to the battleground that once was McKinley High.
The characters are all well-developed, and they feel real; they're the kids you went to school with, only now they're fighting for their lives. Brothers David and Will were opposites, yet fiercely loyal to one another. Each of the gangs that the kids devolve into were startlingly pragmatic and real. I was fascinated by the trading system, almost like a black market, that was established, and it was shocking to see how much some characters changed from who they were at the start. I never knew who to trust, or how to predict what might happen next!
This type of story isn't normally my cup of tea; however, even though I found a few parts of Quarantine to be too convenient, I did enjoy the story being told. The story definitely kept my attention, but I wish I had been able to connect with the characters more. I'm not sure if I'll read the following novels, since to me, this felt more like a stand alone. However, Lex Thomas knows how to write a tense nail-biter of a story, how to electrify a reader's darkest fears for humanity, and how to keep readers turning pages! (less)
The mark of a good book, to me, is when after you've finished, you're still wondering about the characters,...moreSee more reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
The mark of a good book, to me, is when after you've finished, you're still wondering about the characters, and dying to know how everything plays out. That happened to me when I read Amber House. Although at times I felt that the writing could have used some polishing, authors Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed have crafted a spine-tingling story about family history, loss, scandal, secrets, and the hope that history does not have to repeat itself. Combining the paranormal with a dash of sci-fi, Amber House is many things: romantic, genteel, and above all, scary. I LOVE to be scared, yet it very rarely happens...but Amber House actually left me afraid the night I finished it.
The Parsons family has a troubled past that Sarah, the main character, sees and experiences in glimpses, called "echoes." I enjoyed this aspect of Moore's story, because the house, recently vacated by Sarah's deceased grandmother, is full of family heirlooms, each one with a different, sad and sometimes, horrifying story to tell. I couldn't help but feel for Sarah and for her adorable younger brother, Sammy. They were both amazing characters, and Jackson and Richard were wonderful additions to the plot; each boy served a purpose other than being a love interest - they actually each furthered the story being told.
Amber House has a great deal to offer fans of mysteries. There's a decidedly Gothic, spooky feel to Moore's book, including two twists I didn't see coming, but really enjoyed. Considering I've heard this is part of a trilogy, I'm excited to see what the next book holds; although, Amber House could very well function on its own as a stand-alone. There is though, a LOT of potential in the characters and in the storyline, which really took off for me about halfway through Amber House. If authors Moore and the Reeds want to write more about these characters and the imposing, mysterious Amber House, I will definitely continue reading! I enjoyed the writing style, the elegance, and the period feel to this book, and will be anxiously awaiting new of a sequel. (less)
Serial house flipper Madison Boone caught my interest in the opening chapters of Mark of the Loon; Madison buries her grief over losing her parents in...moreSerial house flipper Madison Boone caught my interest in the opening chapters of Mark of the Loon; Madison buries her grief over losing her parents in renovation and selling homes, and in her closest friends. Since I can understand the urge to hide from that kind of heartache, I immediately connected with Madison - in her, author Molly Greene has created a sympathetic character who makes her own share of both good and bad decisions, surrounded by a terrifically developed group of female friends. Part women's fiction, part mystery, part contemporary, Mark of the Loon is a fantastic and heart-felt novel!
Greene's debut novel has so much going for it, from the deep and genuine friendships between Madison, Gabi, Gwen, and Anna, to the next layer down - Madison's issues and how they're explored -, not to mention the tentative and sweet romance that organically develops for Madison and Cole Welles. Not only was I never bored, I was absolutely fascinated as Madison pulled back the curtain on the couple who owned the house before her and filled it with their stories and their love. I enjoyed learning about Mallory, the woman who shared Madison's initials, and her husband. I didn't expect the mystery surrounding them, but it was a delightful addition to Loon!
As Molly Greene's novel slowly unfolded, I fell deeper into the story being told. I wasn't merely reading about Madison's life; I felt like I was there - discovering the quaint old home and impulsively buying it, falling for Cole amidst being terrified of doing so, digging into the enigma of the past owners of Madison's new home. I definitely was as surprised as Madison was by how everything worked out in the end!
With supportive and amazing friends any girl would be lucky to have, an exploration of healing from old grief, a truly swoon-worthy and steadfast love interest, and side characters who, even though they aren't in Mark of the Loon very often, nevertheless were a hugely felt presence, Greene's novel is a truly heart-felt and poignant read. Whether you're looking for a mystery, a romance, a contemporary, something with humor, or even a touch of the paranormal, Mark of the Loon has something for everyone! (less)
Christine Nolfi was the very first author to ever request a review from me when I started this blog; after I read and loved her debut, Treasure Me, I...moreChristine Nolfi was the very first author to ever request a review from me when I started this blog; after I read and loved her debut, Treasure Me, I immediately agreed to read and review her second novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, when she approached me about it. Although a good year passed in between when I read her first novel, and when I eagerly read this one, the effect was the same once I started Tree: I immediately fell all over again for Christine's writing and her way of creating characters that feel at once familiar, like old friends.
Main characters Ourania and Troy crackled with their own individual personalities, as well as their barely contained sexual tension. It was at once clear that there was something unresolved between these two, and as I read more, and began to like and care for both of these tormented characters, their pasts became clearer, and my heart went out to each of them. Throughout Tree, we're given glimpses through a dual POV into both Troy and Ourania's thoughts and motivations, and we see both sides of their tangled story. Still dealing - poorly - with their shared loss of a loved one, both Troy and Ourania have taken equally dangerous paths in their life, which has led them both to become deeply unhappy. I wanted to alternately hug and shake each of them for being so dense at times, yet so intuitive at others.
Nolfi effortlessly built layer after layer upon the foundation she laid early on in Tree; with her easy to follow, easy to love writing style, she weaves several character's stories into one another, yet does so in a way that never feels too tangled. The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge is many things: a romance, a mystery, a social commentary on the foster system and how it works and does not work at times, a mystery, and a moral lesson. What I loved best were the relationships: Ourania and Troy, Troy and his parents, Ourania and her foster children, sweet Walt and broken Emma, Ourania and Troy's sister. All of the characters, even the minor ones, were definitely well developed and stood out strongly in my mind, even after finishing Tree!
Christine Nolfi kept me guessing at various plot twists, which I applaud. Tree had so much going on, but not in a cluttered way - it was definitely a well-rounded mystery, thriller, and romance all at once. As the pages grew numbered, my heartbeat increased, and I found myself genuinely scared for the characters, as past secrets came to life to threaten them in present day. And at Tree's end, although everything was wrapped up a bit too neatly for my taste (my only real complaint), this novel is still emotionally satisfying in many ways! (less)
NEED MORE NOW. This was SUCH an awesome read: strong characters, family secrets, and sizzling Southern romance. <3
It's always interes...moreNEED MORE NOW. This was SUCH an awesome read: strong characters, family secrets, and sizzling Southern romance. <3
It's always interesting going into a book that has as much positive hype surrounding it as The Wild Ones does, because that voice in the back of my mind was wondering and whispering: "Will I love it as much as everyone else has?" I'm thrilled to say the answer is: YES! I adored so many aspects of this novel - from the familiar, Southern setting, to the horse ranch the main character's father owned and ran, to the independant, strong-willed characters who made me love them. By the time I finished M Leighton's novel, I needed a fan and a good cry, and much, much more of Cami and Trick.
The Wild Ones is so many things: a coming-of-age story about Cami learning how to go after what she wants...and how to live her life fully, a swoon-worthy romance, and a story about two people making one another better. This story would have been awesome no matter what, but with two electric lead characters who crashed into one another, it became an amazingly heart-felt, steamy romance. Cami and Trick complimented one another even as they frustrated one another. They grew so much as characters, and as a couple!
I also have to say, I really loved Leighton's writing style. Her seamless ability to blend two very different points of views endeared me to her immediately. Writing for males is difficult at times, especially when a story is being told by one male and one female - all too often writers aren't able to make the male's point of view stand out. Not so here! Trick was all male, and definitely an alpha male at that. I could quote his lines for hours, but instead, I'll just say: READ THIS BOOK.
The bottom line: do yourself a favor and get a copy of The Wild Ones. Plan to do nothing but read once you do, but also plan to laugh, cry, scream, throw things, and fall in love with Cami, with Trick, and to learn for yourself that "sometimes the wild ones are the best."(less)
Derailed is one of those stories that just called to me - almost demanding that I read it. And as I settled in to do so, I at once felt at home in the...moreDerailed is one of those stories that just called to me - almost demanding that I read it. And as I settled in to do so, I at once felt at home in the small town of Clayton Falls, where most of this story takes place. The characters fill the pages with their emotions, dreams, and issues - especially the main character, Molly. I felt a kinship with her right away (possibly a small portion because she shares my name!) Molly has been through a great deal of heart-ache, and watching her struggle to deal with that, and rise above her circumstances really endeared me to her.
Author Alyssa Rose Ivy has created a heart-warming story with Derailed. Not only are the characters true-to-life, but so are their reactions and their actions. Everything feels genuine, from the dialogue, to the relationships, be it friendships or romances. My heart went out to Molly, and Ben. I could feel the tension and the memories between them, and I was definitely rooting for them. Their history made me want them to work as a couple, but also, afraid for them. At times they were sweet to one another, even though there were moments when I wanted to shake them both.
Derailed is a page-turner; I read it eagerly, captivated by the story unfolding. Although I felt there was too much emphasis placed on the dialogue, and at times, wished for a bit more "showing," versus "telling," all in all, Alyssa's story is seriously cute and gave me the warm-and-fuzzies for sure - which I like! Molly and Ben are a fantastic couple, and I hope to read more about them, and about Clayton Falls! (less)
Falling into the world of Carnival of Souls was an entirely unexpected experience; despite the synopsis, I had no idea Melissa Marr had created such a...moreFalling into the world of Carnival of Souls was an entirely unexpected experience; despite the synopsis, I had no idea Melissa Marr had created such a lushly rich and dark world like The City. While I did have a few issues with the overall story, the world building here is superbly done. I at once was reminded of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy - one of my favorite fantasy series EVER - as I read about The City, and those that inhabited it. Between the brutality of the competition in which daimons fight for their lives and for a better future, and the sensuality of the Night Carnival, I was in love with the world of Carnival of Souls within a few pages. This was my first book by Melissa Marr, but it won't be my last!
I was captivated by a few of the characters in this novel, and rather than being off-putting as it is in some novels, in Carnival of Souls, I really enjoyed the multiple points of view. That was a great way for the story to be told! I love that we got the inner thoughts of Belias, Aya, and Kaleb. I found the three of them to be amazing characters, each willing to do whatever it took to accomplish an ends to a means, each with their own flaws and loyalties. I really admired Aya's strength, Belias's protective instincts, and Kaleb's sense of family. I was far less enchanted with Mallory, one of the other main characters, though. Even though we spent as much or more time in her point of view, I never really felt like we got to know her beyond the surface. To me, she was a flat character, and yet another example in YA literature of the girl guys are falling all over, yet I can never understand WHY.
Plot-wise, I though the pacing was really well done. I was never bored, and everything that happened felt tight and relevant to the story. Marr moved everything along at a nice clip that was never overwhelming. Thanks to the luscious world-building and the revelations Carnival of Souls had to offer, I was deeply involved in the various plot angles, between the competition and both Aya and Kaleb's motivations for winning, and also the plot with Mallory and the secret of her parentage. I loved her father, Adam, and definitely would love to know more about him. There were several great antagonists like Evelyn and Marchaois who served deliciously evil roles!
I'm torn on the romance in this book. I loved the hints of the past between Aya and Belias, and NEED to see more with them, especially considering how they ended up at the end of Carnival of Souls. Kaleb and Mallory...hmm. They're an interesting pairing. At first I expected to really like them, then they took on an insta-love feel, but Melissa Marr pulled out my kryptonite... Kaleb is definitely an alpha male and the way he took to Mallory, wanted to protect her, he definitely had that "MINE" thing going on that I SO tend to fall for in literature. So I'm conflicted on them - I think it's mostly what I mentioned above, that even though Mallory is tough, there's just nothing remarkable about her for me to QUITE by that Kaleb is oh-so-into-her.
Overall, Carnival of Souls is a well-developed, darker fantasy. There is a decadent feel to this book, an unhurried, languorous seductive undertow that will pull you in if you aren't careful, and leave you wanting more. Despite a few issues I had with it, it's a GREAT read, and I look forward to seeing what else Melissa Marr writes in this world. (less)
Night of the Purple Moon gripped me tightly immediately, with a fast-paced introduction that catapulted me into the premise Scott Cramer created. As...more Night of the Purple Moon gripped me tightly immediately, with a fast-paced introduction that catapulted me into the premise Scott Cramer created. As the world prepares for a comet sighting unlike no other, teenager Abby Leigh hopes it also means her world will return to normal - that her mother's visit will put her family back on the right track. Instead, Abby wakes the following morning after the world turns purple to a nightmare: everyone past the age of puberty is either dead or dying.
Trapped on the small island her father relocated them too, Abby has to dig deep inside of herself and find the strength to keep going, and to lead the surviving children. I can't imagine that kind of character, pushing on despite her constant fear: that everyone is gone, including her mother, that no one is left to develop a cure, that if they do, it will be too late for her. Cramer propels Night of the Purple Moon forward through occasional dual POV - Abby, her younger brother, Jordan, and a few other minor characters. Each chapter covers a new month, and while in some cases, that might have been a fractured pacing, instead, it worked very well in this instance, as we see the surviving children and pre-teens starting to form a community.
I have to say, reading Scott Cramer's novel was sobering and terrifying. I can't even fathom knowing that your own body changing could lead to your death! Even though the premise is a somewhat far-fetched, it is also still believable, because of the genuine fear and mystery Cramer interjects into this story. This is still realistic science fiction.
Night of the Purple Moon is a story full of equal measures of fear and hope. There's a great deal of character growth for both Abby and Jordan, although not as much for the secondary characters. This is a short novel, so Cramer didn't have as much of an opportunity to develop the supporting characters, although I definitely felt for several of them, like KK and Colby. There's a definite sense toward the end that our main characters are literally racing against the clock, and I was hanging on every word, NEEDING to know how everything played out.
Overall despite a few points that I would have loved to seen explored or explained more, and some characters that fell a bit flat for me, Night of the Purple Moon is a genuinely good story with a believable premise. It's almost more of a middle grade story, since there isn't really any strong language or anything sexual - just mentions of kissing - so it's also incredibly sweet and tender in two or three moments. I look forward to seeing what else Scott Cramer writes! (less)
It's no secret that I love YA contemporary reads, but until I started Catching Jordan, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, even with it being a cont...more It's no secret that I love YA contemporary reads, but until I started Catching Jordan, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, even with it being a contemporary read. After reading so many positive, glowing reviews, I wondered if Miranda Kenneally's debut novel could be such a winner with me, too, but I didn't need to fear; Catching Jordan has all the elements I love: a smart, strong heroine, moments that tug at your heart-strings, a swoon-worthy boy who makes the heroine question her choices...and best yet, a definite "boy next door" type that I absolutely fell head over heels for, just like I did for Kenneally's story of a girl football quarterback and captain of her team.
Within mere pages, I found myself identifying with Jordan Woods, which might seem strange, considering I'm probably the least athletic person in my family. But Miranda Kenneally wrote Jordan so splendidly - strong, fierce, comfortable in her own skin, yet able to be turned around and twisted inside out just like any teenage girl. I thought that Kenneally did a fantastic job at nailing a genuine teenage voice - I read Jordan's story and felt like I was there with her - rough-housing with the guys, falling for Ty, questioning her friendship with Henry. I was frustrated when Jordan was, happy when she was, devastated when she was. I absolutely loved that over the course of Catching Jordan, this spirited teenager learns so much about herself and about life, and does it in a way that you never question if she's being true to herself. Miranda Kenneally is such a great story-teller that you trust her, you trust that in the end, the entire journey is for a purpose, and for Jordan, it definitely was.
The characters in Catching Jordan are all memorable to me. I found something to love about most of them, which made me happy. Kenneally treated her minor characters with the same care and thoroughness that she gave to her main characters. There's such a fantastic cast of characters, too - from Jordan to her best friend, Sam Henry, to Ty, to their friends like Carter, and JJ. I loved how everyone had something under the surface. Despite being such boisterous boys, Carter, Henry, and JJ showed multiple times how much they cared about Jordan. Ty proved himself to be more than just a gorgeous boy capable of making Jordan's heart melt.
And speaking of Ty and Jordan...oh wow. The romance in Catching Jordan was just really well done, and felt real and true to life. For Jordan, falling for Ty happened fast, but I was really impressed with how Miranda Kenneally developed their relationship. I loved getting to know Ty, through Jordan, and watching Jordan get to know herself. At times, I was less than thrilled with Ty as a character, although I definitely understood him. I also really adored the relationship between Jordan and Henry. Oh, Henry. I am STILL all giddy over him. I adored what a perfect foil his and Jordan's relationship and friendship was to hers with Ty, and how her interactions with the boys showed her so much about herself, and what she wanted. Henry was another one of those characters who definitely had more going on than met the eye on first glimpse, and I spent the entirety of Catching Jordan wanting to wrap my arms around him and squeeze tightly.
If you're looking for a quick but satisfying contemporary read, then be sure to check out Catching Jordan! It's a book full of heart and a few twists along the way, plus just enough character growth to satisfy my itch for characters who change over the course of a book. I really loved Miranda Kenneally's personal writing style, because it made Jordan's story feel more intimate than it might have otherwise, and I was really blown away by how carefully all the various relationships between the characters were explored. I'm starting Stealing Parker (the companion novel) tomorrow, and I can't wait! (less)
The entire time I was reading Eden's Root, one thought kept resonating: this wasn't just sci-fi - this was realistic science fiction. And for me, that...moreThe entire time I was reading Eden's Root, one thought kept resonating: this wasn't just sci-fi - this was realistic science fiction. And for me, that is usually the most terrifying kind...the sort that isn't out of the real of possibility. This suspenseful novel forced me to think about possibilities that, although they scared me, also made me appreciate the Fi and her family live in, and the choices she makes to keep them safe. Ultimately, Eden's Root had a few issues that detracted from my enjoyment of it, but I still found it to be a wild ride I won't soon forget!
While reading Rachel Fisher's novel, I struggled a bit with some of the characters. I've waited awhile after finishing to write my review, and I think there was something off in the character's voices for me. I liked the actual characters themselves well enough - Fi was brave and loyal, Sean was protective and strong, Asher was devoted and swoon-worthy, and the other members of the Family all had important roles to play. But in retrospect, even though I understand she was forced to grow up fast, Fi never felt like a teenager, nor did Sean or Asher, really. The only way I can describe it is that maybe Rachel struggled to really find their identities as teens - even teens who had grown up before they should have had to, due to their circumstances. Also there was a bit of a distance between the writing and their voices, almost as if she was afraid to get to close to the characters.
However, I did find a lot to like about Eden's Root. I really loved the scenes with Fi and her father - to me, that's where part of the heart of the story lies, in Fi's devotion to her father, and in his wish to prepare her for the harsh realities she'd face after he was gone, another victim of the Sickness, a cancer-like disease transmitted through the very food they're eating.
I also liked the unexpected romance between Fi and Asher! At first I thought Rachel Fisher was going in a different direction with the romance, but I'm happy with the way it all played out - it felt natural. Despite the fact that the pacing when it came to large passages of time felt choppy, Asher and Fi ARE given time to grow as friends and as a couple, so that their pairing felt more natural than rushed.
Overall, I liked Eden's Root, and read it in one sitting, so that says something about the story being told and about the writing! I think Rachel Fisher has a lot of promise, because while there are a few aspects to this book that felt under-developed, there was also a great deal of potential for a brilliant sci-fi trilogy! (less)
I was thrilled to return to the small, eccentric town of Croak to revisit my favorite characters: Lex, Drigg...moreSee more reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
I was thrilled to return to the small, eccentric town of Croak to revisit my favorite characters: Lex, Driggs, Uncle Mort, and the various other townspeople. Author Gina Damico's zany cast of characters kept me laughing as the plot moved along, through both triumphs and tragedy's. Scorch is a deeper book than I originally thought it would be, because for Lex, the stakes are higher. She's an outcast in Croak now that Zara, a fellow Reaper, is on the loose. I thought in so many ways, Damico's second book was brilliant, because even though there were touches of her trademark humor and sarcasm, it's clear the characters have more to lose.
Once again, the characters in Scorch are absolutely a joy to read about. Each of them - down to the most minor of characters - comes alive under Damico's pen. Despite the many dangers - Zara's string of murders, Lex's new, odd powers, and so much more - all the characters stayed true to themselves. I loved the progression of Lex and Drigg's relationship, and how real it felt - perfectly awkward at times, serious or tender at others. I laughed out loud as often as I gasped with fear for my favorites. Gina Damico has a true talent at creating memorable characters.
With bodies piling up and the mystery of Lex's powers growing stranger every day, no place is safe for Lex and her friends. I read Scorch quickly because I HAD to know what happened next. Damico kept me guessing and kept me interested! I have a few mixed feelings on some of the plot twists, but overall, I enjoyed this one and will definitely be on the edge of my seat for the final book in the trilogy!
Looking back on Delusion, I'm conflicted as to really how to classify it, or what to say about it. Sullivan's tale is certainly imaginative, set again...moreLooking back on Delusion, I'm conflicted as to really how to classify it, or what to say about it. Sullivan's tale is certainly imaginative, set against the backdrop of World War 2 - an event no one, not even our main characters could ignore. The War adds an element of unavoidable danger to the story, even as sisters Phil (Philomel) and Fee (Phoebe) are sent to live in the country, in a town that's almost impossible to find, on a map or otherwise. Here the story picks up, but despite the action, I was still left aching, wanting...something more from Delusion.
I enjoyed the characters: Phil was practical, but passionate when it came to preparing area for the War, while Fee was a hopeless romantic, dreamy and fluttery in a way that had me giggling quite often. Their hostess's son, Algernon was interesting, and Uncle Walter was eccentric, but definitely played a part. By far the most polarizing characters were the members of the school of magic, tucked away in plain site, where both Phil and Fee meet magicians who dazzle, amaze, and antagonize them. The Masters of the college were very misogynistic toward women and quite arrogant toward "outsiders," which didn't set well with me.
There are several side plots in Delusion, revolving around Phil's family and ancestors, as well as Fee's storybook romance, but the one that interested me most was the relationship between Phil and Arden. I loved their exchanges, their banter, and the attraction that slowly blossomed between them. I also thought the story arc between the dueling schools of magic was really interesting, even if I would have liked it to be fleshed out more.
I think what threw me off most about Sullivan's story is the narration. It flip flops back and forth a lot, sometimes from one paragraph to the next (this may be corrected in the final version), but the way Delusion reads...it's as if an omniscient third party is telling the story at times, and that really left me kind of nonplussed. It was difficult, if not impossible to click with the characters in an emotional way, so I never really felt like I was IN the story.
If you're looking for a quirky, not-of-the-normal story, then definitely pick up Delusion. There's a touch of romance, and a healthy dash of mystery, along with an element of sleight of hand mixed with the possibility of REAL magic. Despite the fact that I didn't love it, I did enjoy this unusual story and would recommend you check it out for yourself!
When I started Dead Reckoning, I was at once captivated by the premise: a formerly proper young woman...moreFind more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
When I started Dead Reckoning, I was at once captivated by the premise: a formerly proper young woman, disguised as a nomadic male drifter. Jett - once Phillipa - is searching for her missing twin brother when she enters a small, Western town. She expects a fight with the local trouble makers; instead, they're set upon by zombies in a spine-tingling beginning that catapults the reader into a rather eccentric novel of the Wild West and the walking dead.
Mercedes Lackey and contributor Rosemary Edghill present readers with several intriguing characters, starting with Jett, and continuing into the supporting cast. There's Honoria Gibbons (or Gibbons, as she prefers to be called), an inventor's daughter, sent out West by her father to explore the more outlandish claims he receives, in order to prove them fact or faked. Joining them is White Fox, a scout and tracker who in investigating the numerous disappearances in towns - and in this case, OF towns. This motley band of comrades was unexpected, yet rather enjoyable. They each added their own spark to Dead Reckoning and I loved their interactions.
However, that's where Lackey's novel went awry for me. Despite the creepily fascinating premise and the great cast of characters, something just felt off. There were several big revelations, but the pacing crept along like, well, a zombie. To me, far too much time drifted by before the characters came to any decisions or really DID anything. They just sort of drug their feet. There was very little character development to go along with the lack of action - if Lackey and Edghill had pumped some life into Dead Reckoning in any way, this would have been a far more rewarding story. Instead, the characters sort of meandered toward the end and somehow it all felt rather...flat to me. I think I wanted MORE, period.
Overall, Dead Reckoning was not a satisfying read. That's not to say it didn't have moments of hilarity or interest. I think there was a lot of potential that - for me - felt like the authors just didn't follow through on it. I finished it feeling rather nonplussed, largely because of one key plot point that was never resolved. There's room for a sequel, though I don't think I would read it. Though as always...please read and decide for yourself! (less)
When I began The Lost Girl, I was prepared for a story of technology gone wrong, but what I found inst...moreSee more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
When I began The Lost Girl, I was prepared for a story of technology gone wrong, but what I found instead was a heart-wrenching tale of love, loyalty, and the importance of having your own identity. It's something we all take for granted - the freedom of making our own choices about what to eat, what to wear, what to read or study, or what to like and dislike. What would YOU do if everything about your life was decided based on you having to copy the life of someone else? Imagine a world like that...imagine trying to keep even a spark of yourself alive...and then you will have an idea of what Eva's life is like in Sangu Mandanna's debut novel.
Eva has lived her entire life mimicking her "other's" likes, dislikes, and studying her mannerisms and thoughts, all in order to replace Amarra if Amarra ever dies. Mandanna created a stunningly poignant character in Eva, whose strongest wish is also the simplest possible: to be seen as her own person. When Amarra suddenly dies, Eva is ripped from the only life she has ever known - including the life-like secondary characters who have been her caretakers: Mina Ma, Ophelia, and Erik - and has to face the fact that she is now, for all purposes, Amarra.
Eva tore at my heart as she fought against the inevitable; her only choices are to become Amarra or to be unmade - literally unstitched by the Weavers....and let me tell you, they are frightening! I wanted to reach out and hug Eva, and tell her that she wasn't alone. Her quest to find herself, while trying to be someone else, was terrifyingly real. As Eva bleeds through into Amarra and she runs the risk of her secret coming to life, I was hopelessly involved in The Lost Girl, following Mandanna's every word, hanging on the end of every chapter.
Emotionally, I definitely connected with Eva, and with a few of the other characters. Mandanna has crafted everyone with care here, weaving them as carefully as the echoes are created. While all of the minor characters felt as if Mandanna spent time with them, developing them, the stand-outs were Sean - Eva's would-be love interest -, Nikhil, Amarra's younger brother, and Matthew. Oh, Matthew. From his first scene, I adored him. He's the type of sly, intelligent character you know you shouldn't trust, shouldn't even LIKE, but you still find yourself falling hard for him. And while I definitely did NOT like Amarra, it was fascinating, how MUCH of a presence she was in this story, considering she and Eva are never face to face, of course.
I didn't expect there to be a love story at all in The Lost Girl, but there are several. I thought the tentative, largely unsaid feelings between Eva and Sean were just gut-wrenchingly honest and all the more beautiful because of it. Likewise, the conflict and torment between Ray and Eva - who he mostly sees as Amarra - was almost painful to read about, yet drew me in all the same.
There are many questions asked in The Lost Girl - questions about mortality, about life, and death, and about the weight of the human soul, and if anything of it ever lingers after death. The pages are soaked in both love and grief, seen in the eyes of Amarra's family, Eva's "familiars." Sangu Mandanna has created a clever plot that never left me bored - if anything as the story progressed, I read faster, driven to find out what happened next. Between Eva's struggles to maintain her identity, and the ominous Weavers, nothing about The Lost Girl is safe, but it is definitely a book that you will think about long after you read the final pages!
Lucid captured both my interest and my heart from the beginning; as soon as I met Maggie and Sloane, two ver...moreSee more reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
Lucid captured both my interest and my heart from the beginning; as soon as I met Maggie and Sloane, two very diverse girls who dream of one another's lives at night, I knew I wouldn't be putting this book down until I was finished. Authors Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass created a stunningly poignant cast of characters, from actress Maggie to typical student Sloane, who nevertheless keeps secrets, to Maggie's flighty mother and loving little sister, to Sloane's achingly real family. Against this backdrop, a mystery like nothing I'd ever read played out.
While at times, I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't, much less what I - wanted - to be real, I know one thing: I loved Lucid. Both girl's hopes and losses felt solid enough that I didn't question the fact that, whatever was happening, I adored both Maggie and Sloane. I found reasons to hope that it was Sloane's life that was real, and reasons to hope it was Maggie's. Authors Bass and Stoltz did an amazing job of making this twist-y story believable, and making me cheer for the characters.
Sloane and Maggie's struggles to find or even believe in love were especially heart-wrenching. As I sped through the pages of Lucid, I found myself hopelessly drawn to both girls, but especially Sloane, in her possible relationship with the beautiful, impossible James. I also wanted to wrap my arms around Maggie, caught between two guys, and terrified of letting either in. Wondering if either girl would find real love started to mean more than knowing what was and wasn't real to me, and the explosive ending wasn't something I saw coming. Having finished Lucid, I'm still trying to piece together what really happened - the fact that the ending was so disjointed both loaned a creepy feel to the book, but also left me confused, which dampened my enjoyment of this book. But Lucid is still an incredibly emotionally powerful debut, and I'd love to read more from either author!(less)
True story: I almost didn't want to read this book. I'll go ahead and admit it: I didn't think I'd li...moreFind more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
True story: I almost didn't want to read this book. I'll go ahead and admit it: I didn't think I'd like a book that so clearly parodies all things vampires, even, at many points, directly spoofing Twilight. But co-authors Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier absolutely changed my mind with the first few chapters of this hilarious inside look at the life of one level headed girl - Mel - caught between her swoon-y best friend and the vampire she loves.
Mel is an amazingly practical, out-spoken, and fierce heroine, one that I loved. There was never a moment in Team Human where I felt ambivalent about her. Larbalestier and Brennan developed her SO well, and she was the perfect choice to narrate this tongue-in-cheek vampire spoof. Mel is the character that was missing from Twilight! Living in a vampire-heavy town is a challenge for Mel, who has a strictly "live and let live" policy when it comes to vampires, but when the refined Francis shows up to attend her high school, all bets are off. I laughed out loud SO often at Mel and Francis's exchanges. I'm not sure which author brought that brand of humor to the table, or if it was both of them combined, but it was genius, watching Francis struggle to remain a gentleman toward Mel (whom he obviously didn't know what to do with) and watching Mel get in her little digs.
The characters were all stand-outs in Team Human, from Mel's scatter-brained mother to her caring dad and her younger brother, Lancelot (yes, that's his real name, and no, Mel's is NOT Melanie.) I really liked Ty, Mel and Cathy's friend, and actually found myself cheering for him throughout the book - there was just something irresistible about him. I fell hard for Kit, a secondary character and possible love interest for Mel, and in fact, was far more interested in the friendship developing between him and Mel than I was the gooey, over-done "relationship" between Cathy and Francis. They were insta-love to the nth degree, which of course was very deliberate, and I knew that...and yes, I STILL wanted to shake them both, especially poor, dopey Cathy.
Watching her fall for Francis was almost painful. I hate to bring up the T-word again, but it was VERY a la Edward and Bella, which is one of my most hated pairings ever (and a long, rant-y story I will not go into today!) But I still enjoyed the parody aspects of Team Human, and in fact, I actually liked these vampires a lot. They were weird and totally marching to the beat of their own drum, and several, like Francis and some of his other "family members" were really kind of fascinating. Ironically, I would have loved to have gotten to know a few of them better!
Team Human is a side-splitting story, for sure. I read it in a matter of hours, because I just couldn't put it down. I found the plot at times to be a bit weak, but this is not a deep or new story, and I don't mean that in a negative way. Larbalestier and Brennan have crafted a very funny, witty, sardonic tale of love between a vampire and a human, and the voice of reason stuck in the middle. If you read Team Human for what it is, you will find that that is a very enjoyable read. It didn't resonate emotionally with me, but it DID make me laugh, and cheer for Team Human. (less)
Truth: I love villains; the ones I really love aren't the "let-me-show-you-how-evil-I-am" Big Bads though, but rather the quietly hate-able ones who,...moreTruth: I love villains; the ones I really love aren't the "let-me-show-you-how-evil-I-am" Big Bads though, but rather the quietly hate-able ones who, even as they're plotting your demise, still show a sliver of humanity, making you want to redeem them. And that is exactly what happened when I read Shatter Me - I met Warner, and lost my heart to him. So when I heard about Unravel Me, I was all fluttery and excited, but worried: would a novella from Warner's point of view change my mind about him? And it did, but in the best way: I now firmly adore this broken man.
With Destroy Me, we see inside Warner's thoughts and motivations, and I have to say, so much about him became clear: why he makes the choices he makes, and why he is the way he is. A lot of fans of this series seemed to worry that Tahereh would try to make him too sympathetic, but I feel that she straddled the line between hinting that he can be redeemed, and still making me rage-y over his actions at times. To say that Warner is a complex guy is an understatement; Warner is layered, and definitely a swoon-worthy alpha male, but also very damaged, and misunderstood.
I am even more excited now for Unravel Me, to see what happens next to these amazing characters. Destroy Me gives us just enough of a peek into Warner's plans to make me nervous, yet also hopeful. I lost my heart to Warner, while aching to see more of Juliette and Adam. And while Adam is probably better for Juliette, I have to say, for the first time, I see the possibilities of Warner/Juliette, which breaks my heart in so many ways.
In short: pick up this book if you're, like me, anxiously awaiting Unravel Me. It's short, and it's NOT expensive, so you don't have to feel guilty about splurging. It's still told in Tahereh's magical writing style, and I promise you're going to want Destroy Me in your collection! (less)
Fated was the first book I had the chance to read by Alyson Noel, and I was really excited for it for...more Find more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
Fated was the first book I had the chance to read by Alyson Noel, and I was really excited for it for a few reasons - mostly because of the amazing-sounding synopsis, absolutely gorgeous cover, and those names: Daire and Dace. How adorable, right? And Fated started off really promisingly, and I settled into it thinking I was going to enjoy it a great deal; unfortunately, I ended up feeling as if this is, regrettably, one of those books that despite the fantastic premise, never lives up to its potential.
First I want to talk about what I DID like: the mythos, woven into Fated in the form of legends and wisdom imparted by Paloma, Daire's grandmother. Daire's mother sends her to live with Paloma - a woman Daire has never met - when Daire's visions become too much to handle, and she is labeled as mentally unstable. Paloma is able to help Daire, and to teach her, and I thought she was a terrific character and mentor, and I loved watching the relationship between Paloma and Daire develop. The New Mexico setting came alive in Fated, and I look forward to reading more about the Santos family's heritage. I also liked the rivalry between the Santos and Richter families, and am curious to see where that goes in the future books in this series, especially between Cade and Dace.
Unfortunately that's where my enjoyment stopped, due to the writing style. Alyson Noel isn't a bad writer. But it's as if she deliberately chooses the oddest ways of phrasing her sentences. I don't have Fated with me anymore but an example is, instead of having Daire say "I see my mother standing in the kitchen, looking at me. I know from the expression on her face that I'm in trouble," it was, "I see my mother standing in the kitchen, looking at me. Knowing from the expression on her face that I'm in trouble." At first I thought it was an odd technique we'd see scattered throughout the book, but no, it was like that throughout Fated, and after awhile, that started to drive me insane with annoyance, and finally completely jolted me out of the story several times, making it more and more difficult to connect with the characters and story. After that, as much as I tried to like Fated, I just wanted it to be over.
Finally, the romance took me by surprise, and not in a good way. From some of the lead-up to Daire and Dace's interactions, I was hoping for something more...epic, really. Daire's dreams led me to believe I would end up rooting for her and Dace as a couple, but instead, all I felt was let-down. I hope in the other books in this series, that Noel spends a LOT of time developing their relationship, because as it stands, they definitely feel like insta-love to me, and their shared dreams feel like a cheap plot device. I'd also like to see a great deal of character growth on Daire's end, because she came across (to me) as a spoiled kid throughout most of Fated. Something does happen near the end that makes me think we'll see her grow up some; if not, I'm not sure I'll continue past the second book, Echo.
Overall, there were some elements of Fated that I really quite enjoyed, but not enough to make me love this one. (less)
When I received my copy of Death and the Girl Next Door, I was expecting a fun, sexy thrill ride; however, what I got was something quite different -...moreWhen I received my copy of Death and the Girl Next Door, I was expecting a fun, sexy thrill ride; however, what I got was something quite different - a book that, despite a fabulous premise, never delivers anything beyond a mediocre read. While I did enjoy some of the characters, and thought parts of the plot were really interesting, overall Darynda Jone's first YA book was a let down for me.
Main character Lorelei starts off promising - she's sassy around her friends, yet melts into the mold seen too often in a YA lead female - uninteresting and insecure, who makes consistently rash decisions in order to have the guy she knows isn't good for her. I was really disappointed in Lorelei, but still willing to give her a chance. But as soon as Jared (the love interest) entered the picture, she went weak-kneed and never recovered. The flashes of spirit and vivaciousness were gone, and Lorelei lacked anything, any character trait, to set her apart. Her romance with Jared, while definitely forbidden, felt cardboard and stereotypical. I never cheered for them, never feared they wouldn't overcome their obstacles; they're THAT vanilla romance that you know, unfortunately, will prevail. They had a great deal of conflict, but it was just forced, fast, and undeveloped, just like their feelings for each other. The one good thing I can say is, at least there was no love triangle; ironically, I felt Lorelei was SO much better matched with the one guy who WASN'T falling all over her.
The plot held some originality, which I really liked, but over the course of Death, faded into familiar tropes, and the big "reveals" were things I could have predicted. And while there were some great, witty portions of this novel, by the end, I had to refrain from sighing in disappointment. For such a short novel, I felt like the climax was really rushed. I did like the secondary characters - Cameron, Brooke, and Glitch, and look forward to finding out more about them. I'll read the sequel...but I hope it's a library book. (less)
Considering I cried my way through this book, fell in love with The Boy, and my heart is STILL aching in a good way...I think I loved this book.
Fi...moreConsidering I cried my way through this book, fell in love with The Boy, and my heart is STILL aching in a good way...I think I loved this book.
end Me A Sign is one of those extremely rare books that took me beyond the mere act of reading a story, and actually propelled me into the story itself, until I felt like I was living the events taking place. I clicked immediately with Mia; who of us hasn't searched for a sign to tell us which direction to go, how to make the right decision? My heart went out to Mia as she struggled to understand what having cancer would mean to her, her family, and her friends, and ultimately, decided to keep the truth from those most important to her. Mia was a sympathetic character who made some mistakes throughout Send Me a Sign, but I adored her, as well as this heart-felt, heart-wrenching, poignant story about life, death, and courage.
Author Tiffany Schmidt brings Mia and her family to life with clarity and a wonderfully told story. From Mia's fact-obsessed father to her image-obsessed mother, and the boy next door who cares so unabashedly for her, and the friends who love, but don't understand her, I found something to like in most of the characters. I enjoyed the evolution of Mia's relationships with her parents, and loved watching her become her OWN person. I didn't always understand their reactions and motivations, but what I DID love was the way Mia interacted differently with each of them. She played so many roles, and while most of them were genuine: daughter, friend, girlfriend, the one that stood out most to me was her relationship with Gyver.
Of all the signs Mia searched so ardently for, she missed every single one pointing her to this sweet, steadfast, loyal boy, choosing instead to pursue a relationship with her crush, Ryan. Ryan turned out to be an amazing supporting character, but it was painful, watching his devotion to Mia, and the ramifications of how their relationship was tested by Mia's illness. I kept praying for Mia to make the right decisions in several aspects, but especially when it came to Ryan and Gyver. Both boys had a lot to offer her, and both had a lot to teach her about life, and about how to be truly brave. I won't say how it all turned out, but I WILL say I shed a lot of tears, some sad and some happy!
Send Me a Sign is a spectacular, heart-breaking look at what cancer means and does to people. It's a story about family coming together. It's a story about friendships being broken, and repaired. It's a story about choosing: life over death, hope over fear, love over isolation. It's a story I will never, ever forget. (less)
Some books are merely enjoyable, while others reach into your heart, take a firm grip, and enchant you, from the first sentence to the last, and long...more
Some books are merely enjoyable, while others reach into your heart, take a firm grip, and enchant you, from the first sentence to the last, and long beyond. Some books just refuse to let you go, and that was definitely true with The Sweetest Dark - haunting combination of historical romance mixed with elements of fantasy. Long after I finished Lora's story, I was still thinking about the characters, mourning the fact that I was done with this poignant, beautiful novel.
Author Shana Abe has brought 1915 London and the surrounding countryside to life with startling clarity. There's something about this era that I really enjoy reading about, and so I at once felt drawn into the atmosphere, which was at turns desperate and overwhelming, yet darkly beautiful all the same, from the orphanage where Lora Jones has spent her childhood, to the exclusive private academy she attends as a charity case. But don't count Lora out or disregard her - she's full of fire and life, and has a great, deep capacity to care about those around her. I loved Lora a bit before I finished this novel.
Lushly characterized by both amazingly fleshed-out main characters and equally compelling minor characters, I literally couldn't put down The Sweetest Dark. I read it in a few hours, turning the pages as quickly as I could to learn more about Lora, Jesse, and Armand, the three main characters. While Lora and Jesse tugged hard at my heartstrings, I wasn't sure about Armand until I was almost 3/4 through this seductively compelling novel. Armand is still something of an enigma, and although I eventually warmed up to him, it was Jesse that stole my heart, Jesse who made me smile and laugh, Jesse who I ultimately wanted so much more of...Jesse who I wanted to win Lora's heart. There is just the blush of a love triangle, but Shana Abe handles it masterfully; the romance in The Sweetest Dark is intoxicating, never over-done, never insta-love, never trite. Instead, it's organic and powerful.
Filled with mysteries shrouded in more questions, a delightfully creepy, sprawling castle, family intrigue, and a romance that WILL leave you swooning, The Sweetest Dark is a wonderful addition to the YA genre. The plot moves quickly at times, but not TOO much so, and all the characters are wonderfully developed - even one or two that I thought I knew surprised me! My only complaint is something that happened at the end. I know I probably shouldn't be sad, but wow, my heart just BROKE into so many pieces.
Whether you're looking for a heart-pounding romance you won't soon forget, an elaborate mythos steeped in fantasy and myths long forgotten, a spirited heroine, or a series of adventures in the midst of war-torn England, The Sweetest Dark is a must have! I don't know if there will be a direct sequel, but I hope there might be! (less)
I generally tend to adore road trip books, so I expected to like Reunited, from debut author Hilary Weisman Graham. What I didn't expect: to devour i...more I generally tend to adore road trip books, so I expected to like Reunited, from debut author Hilary Weisman Graham. What I didn't expect: to devour it in three hours, or to absolutely adore it! This quirky coming-of-age story seems like a fluffy, feel-good book from the synopsis...and while it IS that, it's also more. It's the story of three girls who are finding themselves while losing other things. It's the story of how sometimes, just because something is lost doesn't mean it's gone forever. Sometimes, as Reunited taught me, wrapped up in the knowledge that something is lost is the hope that it can also be found.
I was caught utterly off guard by how much I loved Graham's story of three girls who couldn't be more different: book-ish, responsible Alice, wild Tiernan, and flirty Summer. On the surface, these ex-best friends had very little in common, but over the course of Reunited, we learned more about each of them - who they are, their fears, what they still have in common, and the incident that tore apart their friendship. None of the three main characters are who they seem at first glance, just like Reunited is not the simple, road-trip story I expected it to be.
I loved learning more about Alice, Summer, and Tiernan, and I adored the way that Hilary Weisman Graham slowly revealed glimpses of their shared past, and their bond. I think we've all drifted from a friend before, and who hasn't wondered what it would take to repair a distant friendship? While each of the three girls had their own reasons for going on the road-trip to see Level3 play (a band that reminded me of my teenage fetishes with the Backstreet Boys!), it was really touching to see them haltingly get on the same page, through a lot of missteps and false starts. The hesistant awkwardness between the girls felt very genuine, and understandable. They frustrated me at times, but when they each let their guard down, it was amazing to see their old bond trying to resurface.
Reunited is a story with a great deal of heart, a few tears, and a LOT of laughter. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong for Summer, Alice, and Tiernan but it was awesome, seeing what they made of it. The end was nothing like what I expected, but if anything, it was just as quirky as the rest of the story, and it made a perfect sort of sense. I was sorry to read the final pages of Hilary Weisman Graham's debut novel, because I felt like she did an amazing job of fleshing out the three main characters, as well as the more prominent secondary characters, each who added something to the story.
While I might have wished for Reunited to be a bit longer - if only to see more of the girl's antics - it was overall a highly satisfying story. I laughed a lot, and closed Graham's novel rather wistfully, suddenly wanting to grab two of my friends for a road trip! This is a book not to be missed - I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did!(less)