“But what if we can’t find Jude?” He leans closer. His breath is warm on my ear. “We will.” “How can you be so sure?” I want to believe him so badly, but this is Rafa. The guy who’s all action and no plan. His smile is tired, knowing. An echo of a shared past I don’t remember. “Because I’m not smart enough to give up, and you don’t know how to.”
I seriously had to re-read this novel -- granted, I read it for the first time back in August -- in order to review it properly, and I still don't think I can adequately portray just how much I love this book...or this series, for that matter. It's been yet another month since my re-read, and I'm still having trouble gathering my thoughts. Why are the novels I love the most the absolute hardest to review? BUT...I have to do this now because my copy of Shimmer will be here in mere days, and I'll completely forego everything else to get to that book...including reviewing the previous book.
It's kind of a well-known fact that contemporary novels from Australian authors tend to be very beloved among us readers, but now we're finally getting wind of some of the awesome paranormal stories they write, too. And I am hooked, guys. So much so, that I'm not satisfied borrowing from wonderful friends anymore or waiting for the US release date. No, I had to go and buy myself a copy of this novel -- and the next one! -- from an overseas vendor to satisfy my need for more Rephaim adventures, even knowing that I'll still have to wait another year or so for the final book in the series. I think my desperation for these books speaks volumes, but just in case that's not enough to convince you, I shall proceed with fangirling over Haze. Fair warning, though: this is the second book in the Rephaim series, so there are possible spoilers for Shadows.
Haze picks up shortly after the events of Shadows, with Gaby having known that she is Rephaite -- a half-angel/half-human tasked with finding the Fallen and ridding the world of demons in the process -- for just about a week. The life she thought she knew isn't real. The brother she's spent the last year mourning doesn't exist. But there's a chance he's still alive, and now that they've established this possibility, Rafa wants to set out in search of him, like yesterday.
And Gaby is just as excited at the prospect. But she's hesitant, too, to discover the demons of her past, the past she can't remember. And so she and Rafa set off in search of other demons...demons they can hunt and kill and cleanse the earth of...at least until she's ready to search for Jude. In doing so, she proves to her fellow Rephaim that she is not the Gabe they remember at all, that she has changed or at the very least no longer remembers who she was before. The amnesia plot was used primarily -- and well, I might add -- in the first book to help establish the world and conditions of the Rephaim by having the Rephaim themselves explain to Gaby everything that she would have already known as Gabe. In this book, Gaby's memory loss furthers the plot by elaborating on her past relationships with the other Rephaim, those whom Jude left the Sanctuary with a decade ago.
It also adds more than a little tension to her relationship with Rafa. He still won't reveal what caused the big break, what drove Gaby and Jude to different sides, or why she and Rafa were basically enemies for the last ten years. But even though we get no answers in that respect, their banter and chemistry is still at an all-time high, fueling their actions and their passion, regardless of what they're doing. There are more than a couple of steamy scenes between these two, but there are tender ones, too, and I loved those just as much.
“I know things are messy with us, but do you really think I could just walk away from you?” This time he doesn't look away. “Do you really think I'd let you?”
However, Rafa grows agitated and frustrated with Gaby's stalling on the Jude situation, and though I'll admit it did slow the progress of the novel somewhat -- they didn't even set out in search of him until around the halfway point -- I understood Gaby's apprehension...and Rafa's, too. Neither knows which Jude they'll get, assuming that they find him at all. I think this might be the point at which Rafa and Gaby grow the closest, neither wanting to voice their fears but sharing them all the same. Their relationship is coming into its own, but it never overshadows the bigger picture.
Suffice it to say, this book by no means suffers from the dreaded Second Book Syndrome. It's exciting and emotional and raw and packs an even bigger punch than Shadows did. It is pure excellence with none of that filler you find in a lot of sequels. It simply expands upon the things that were already so well done in the first book: the tight-knit bonds and friendships, the slow-burning romance, the kick-ass fight scenes, and Gaby's insatiable thirst for answers to her past. I could go on and on ad nauseam about this series, but really, the best thing I can suggest is picking it up and seeing for yourself just how amazing these books are. Once you do, it'll probably take you ages before you can form coherent thoughts about it, too. ;0)
If I haven't sold you on this series yet, you really should visit the author's website. It hosts a bevy of information on the series, on the characters, and on the mythology behind it all. Plus, it's fairly entertaining. Just like the Rephaim series. You can also check out an excerpt from Shimmerhere, assuming you're already caught up with the series.
Boyfriend thievery isn't a topic I would usually be interested in, but I'll admit that my curiosity was piqued by the premise of The Boyfriend Thief, especially because Avery doesn't sound like the type of character to commit such an atrocious act. And once it was revealed who exactly wanted to pay her to do the stealing, I was on board.
Avery is the kind of protagonist that's going to grate on a lot of people's nerves. She did mine...at least, she did at first. But the more I got to know of her character, the more I realized that my teenage self had a lot in common with her. Avery is very goal-oriented, very ambitious, and very competitive. She's vying for Valedictorian and is currently tied with her ex-best friend for the top spot. I found myself in this very same predicament my senior year of high school. It was our competitive natures that drove the wedge in our friendship, but for Avery and her best friend, it was something far less altruistic: a boy.
Avery's mother left her family in a lurch after battling depression for many years, and Avery's never really recovered. She sabotages practically every relationship she's ever had, romantic and otherwise, and she's still doing it to this day. Avery doesn't believe in love except in a purely scientific manner, so when the opportunity to make the money she needs for her trip presents itself, she truly thinks she can keep it all business. But she never expected Zac to get under her skin the way he did.
The romance was cute, but I found it a tad predictable, especially since you can pretty much assume that Avery will mess things up at every turn, usually by jumping to conclusions or misunderstanding things and not waiting for the full explanation. It's comical at first but it becomes annoying after awhile. But there again, when I think back to my relationships in high school, I didn't always have the best judgment either, nor did I have much patience. However, I did like how Zac and Avery used each other as sounding boards and how they forced each other to face their problems instead of avoiding or running from them as they had before.
The Boyfriend Thief was a very quick read, and I think it's the perfect jaunty little book for a day at the beach. I recommend it to friends who are looking for a fun contemporary on the lighter side of YA because there's not a lot of depth here; it explores some deeper issues while remaining cute and fluffy. You won't walk away with all of life's questions answered, but you'll have fun anyway. ;0)
I always dreaded the game of Truth or Dare when I was younger. It never ended well for me. And the same is true for the girls in this book. But we'll...moreI always dreaded the game of Truth or Dare when I was younger. It never ended well for me. And the same is true for the girls in this book. But we'll get to that in a moment.
I like mysteries and thrillers and revenge stories. It's one of the reasons I'm still watching Pretty Little Liars. I didn't read the books, though. I read the first book in The Lying Game series by the same author, and I vowed no more. Those books just weren't on my level. Obviously, the story is interesting enough or I wouldn't still be watching the show. But I'm constantly screaming at all those pretty girls to just go tell someone in a position of authority what the heck is going on. And it's one of those mysteries that just gets more mysterious and complex as it goes.
The same could be said of Truth or Dare. It's an intricately woven story, full of secrets and deceptions, and it definitely kept me guessing. No dirty laundry remained un-aired. No skeleton remained in its closet. And no stone was left unturned as the girls tried to discover who was behind the dares. I'm usually really good at guessing who the culprit is early on and enjoy watching as the characters search for clues, but this time around, I was just as stumped as them until something happened and I just knew. The writing was clear and concise and the book read more mature than that series I mentioned earlier, and that just aided in keeping me in the dark for so long.
I generally like to know more than the characters do. So, when a character knows something that I don't and then takes it to the grave, it leaves me feeling a bit agitated. Especially when said character was on the verge of revealing this information, only to meet their untimely death. I call foul. What kind of ploy is this and why must you make me suffer so?
The suspense wasn't the only thing I liked about the story. The setting was the secluded town of Echo Bay, during it's Fall Festival. A festival which had previously been cancelled due to the mysterious deaths of three girls, dubbed the Lost Girls. If that doesn't set the mood for an eerie story, I don't know what would. The deaths weren't technically linked to the festival, but I usually attempt to avoid activities that lead to mentions of a curse and the like. But, hey, who am I to judge? Not the judgey people of Echo Bay, that's who.
I think I would have rather this book been a stand-alone. The story was just dark and intense enough to keep me reading, but that ending kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, you get your answers and you move on. Though the ending wasn't what I would call a cliffhanger, it did leave a lot more questions. Maybe I don't like mysteries as much as I thought? Because the questions and the not-knowing are seriously bothering me right now. I guess that's the sign of a well-written mystery? Like I said, I liked the writing, and I'd like to read more from this author. Just maybe not a mystery because she's infuriatingly good at it.
***Check out my stop on the SpiritBlog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden! I'm interviewing Gabriel!!! This should be interesting! =) And there's an A...more***Check out my stop on the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden! I'm interviewing Gabriel!!! This should be interesting! =) And there's an AWESOME giveaway!!!***
We're on the last leg of the Elementals Read Along! Wooooohooo!!! It's been a fun ride, hasn't it? The Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden just kicked off this week, so be sure to check out all the stops for awesome content and amazing giveaways! I've got Gabriel stopping by on Friday!!! :)
Steph and I will be reading and discussing Spirit over the next couple of weeks, so if you're just dying for more of the Merrick boys, be sure to request a copy from Netgalley! It includes the Breathless novella from Nick's POV!!!
And don't forget, Steph and I are both giving away a SIGNED set of the first three Elementals books at the end of the read along! I'm even giving out bonus entries for reviewing each book! =)
Holy geez! That was intense. And unexpected. And why do I have to wait until January for Nick's book?!?
Yep, that about sums it up. After reading the rest of this series the last couple of months, I was not expecting the turn Spirit took. And I liked it! It's rare that a book can truly surprise me these days, and I am impressed.
But, oh, my poor, misunderstood Hunter. He's had a rough go of it lately. Losing the only two people who really know you is difficult enough. But then he trekked to Annapolis to avenge their deaths, and it was like Daniel walking into the lions' den. Except that it didn't have to be.
Hunter's trust issues plagued him (and me!) for the majority of this book, and I'll freely admit that I was more than a little exasperated with his inability to trust anyone. His Guide training has taught him never to trust anyone and to use everyone. That first bit isn't hard for him at all, but he does have some trouble with the latter. And then he meets Kate, his perfect counterpart. This girl is even less likely to trust people, though she's not above doing what she has to in order to get what she needs or wants.
I like that despite everything that's happened, Hunter remains in the forefront. I knew he was getting his own book when I started the series, but I thought that after this, he'd fade into the background. But none of these Elementals are bit players, and I should have realized that Hunter's role as a Fifth would always be important. What's even more interesting, though, is that the Merricks won't let Hunter fade away either, even if he's hell-bent on not trusting them.
Sure, the bromance between Gabriel and Hunter has fizzled after the realizations we were left with at the end of Spark. But the awesome, sometimes over-bearing Michael really steps into his role as guardian in this book, and when everyone else is ready to write Hunter off, he takes the poor guy under his wing. I know this is Hunter's book, but man, Michael really shined in it. I sometimes forget how young he really is, that he's only five or six years older than the twins. But in Spirit, he reminded me of why I liked his character so much in Elemental and why I was willing to give this series a chance in the first place.
I feel like this is the PNR series I've been waiting my whole life for. It's not perfect, but it's so much freakin' fun that I don't care about those slight issues. I just know that I can't get enough of these boys, er, books...I only wish that I didn't have to wait so long for Nicky and Michael's books!
Big thanks to The Midnight Garden, Brigid Kemmerer, and Kensington Teen for putting this tour together and allowing The Starry-Eyed Revue to be a part of it! Also, thanks to Kensington Teen for providing an ARC of this title for review!
Nick is probably the Merrick brother I know the least about. He's always been so quiet and reserved, and that rarely helps you get to know a person. M...moreNick is probably the Merrick brother I know the least about. He's always been so quiet and reserved, and that rarely helps you get to know a person. Maybe Nick's just going for that brooding, bad boy thing, but just like his brothers, I think there's more to this guy than he shows everyone else.
As usual, I'm right. :P Based on that summary, I had a fair idea of how this novella was going to play out, but even if I hadn't read that first, I would've picked up on the hints almost from the beginning of this short story. Weird how I didn't see any signs of it in the previous books, though. Maybe because of how reserved Nick is?
Anyway, despite the shortness of this story, tons happens. All of the books and novels in this series are pretty explosive, though. There's dancing, a softer side of Quinn (probably my least favorite character in the series, but that might have changed with this story), fighting, drinking, and yes, kissing. And not necessarily in that order. :P
Lawd, that kiss was HAWT! And the revelations!! I need Nick's full-length novel, pronto!!! January 2014 can't come soon enough! Though, starting Hunter's novel this week will take the edge off. :D(less)
Hunter Garrity entered the Merrick brothers' lives as a bit of an enigma. But in this novella, we get a peek at what happened before Hunter tracked th...moreHunter Garrity entered the Merrick brothers' lives as a bit of an enigma. But in this novella, we get a peek at what happened before Hunter tracked them down, who he was before. And it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Don't get me wrong...he didn't have a crappy childhood or anything...just a really strict upbringing. His father expects him to handle all Elementals business in the same fashion that he himself would, but Hunter is still learning.
Hunter is a Fifth, which is a pretty lonely existence. People are drawn to him but rarely with the best intentions. But he hopes that Clare's intentions are merely those of a girl interested in a boy when she approaches him out of the blue. Considering the turn their first conversation takes, though, it's probably obvious to everyone BUT Hunter that there's more to the story, but he's new to this whole "reading and analyzing people" thing. Poor kid.
I enjoyed this brief glimpse at what makes Hunter tick, why he blew into town the way he did in Storm. I don't think this novella changed my opinion of him any, but it did make me more anxious to continue the series so I can get to his full-length book.
We're no longer Elemental virgins, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop! As part of the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden, Steph and...moreWe're no longer Elemental virgins, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop! As part of the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden, Steph and I will be reading Spark for the next two weeks, so if you're still swooning over the Merrick boys with us, be sure to stop back here on May 12th to discuss! And if you had no restraint and tore through all the books already, we'd still love to hear from you. ;0) And if you're just joining us, check out the Elementals Read Along sign up post for more details!
And don't forget, I'm giving away a SIGNED set of the first three Elementals books at the end of the read along! Bonus entries for reviewing each book!
*This review contains mild spoilers for Storm, the previous book in the Elementals series.*
**You do not have to read Storm to read this book. But I'd recommend it. ;0)**
How very fitting that the brother with the shortest fuse is the one who controls fire? I've jokingly been called a pyromaniac in the past, but I've got nothing on Gabriel. And from what I've read so far, neither do any of his brothers! ;0)
Chris's story in Storm was pretty great, but I found the moments featuring Gabriel to be the funniest...and some of my favorites, when he wasn't acting like a complete douche. I knew there had to be some underlying reason for said douchiness because no one can harbor that much resentment without some basis for those feelings. And there is. Gabriel's temper stems from his own anger toward himself. But instead of doing something about it, he turns it outward and takes all of his frustration out on his family. It's a defense mechanism, and a pretty effective one at that.
I realize that some readers felt his character was chauvinistic and that he objectifies women based on comments made to or about Becca in the first book. And, sure, he jumped to conclusions or made undue assumptions about her character without knowing her or any of the facts. But he owns up to it. He makes no excuses for his behavior and jumps to Becca's defense when he realizes he was wrong. I knew he had it in him.
And, apparently, so did Layne. She's the shy, studious girl that Gabriel's never even given a second look to...until one day when he needs to borrow a pencil. This innocent gesture is a catalyst, a vehicle that brings about significant change in both of their lives. But it takes them awhile to figure that part out. I loved reading as they pulled back the layers, discovering each other's complexities and flaws. Brigid Kemmerer writes about some seriously hot guys, but she also writes multifaceted characters that tug at your heartstrings with their sincerity and rub you the wrong way with their brazenness.
And then there are the powers she's given these kids. And they actually use them! Gabriel even talks to his element, convinces it to burn more intensely or pushes it back when it becomes too destructive. It's all very entertaining. But never more so than when Hunter decides they should be their own fire-fighting duo and save innocents from the arsonist who is plaguing their town at the moment.
That bromance between Gabriel and Hunter was so unexpected but sooo appreciated. Gabriel feels like his family is against him at every turn, and Hunter's kind of the outcast of the group, having been spurned by Becca in favor of Chris. (Okay, okay...maybe spurned is unfair...he was lying about who he was and that's hard to come back from.) Anyway, it makes sense for them to become friends, and even though I didn't see it coming, I'm so glad for it.
I had so much fun while reading this book. I swear there was a slap-happy grin plastered on my face the entire time I was reading. I know the series isn't finished yet, and I don't want to take attention away from the other guys, but I think Spark just may go down as my favorite, with Gabriel being my favorite Elemental. That said, I do have a soft spot for Hunter, and I don't really feel like I know Nick well enough to really judge him yet. But look at all the pages I marked with favorite scenes or quotes! I think it's pretty obvious I enjoyed this story quite a bit.
“I can get my things,” said Gabriel. “I'm not letting you out of my sight.” Layne was caught between them, flustered. She was nearly wringing her hands. “Dad, it's not--” His eyes cut to Layne. “Now, Layne.” She swallowed and slinked past him into the living room. “Don't forget my box of condoms,” called Gabriel.
Hunter sighed and gave him a look. “Come on, baby, don't be like that. Did you pack your midol?” “All right, all right.” Gabriel climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind him. “I don't even know why I like you.”
She scowled out at the parking lot. “So is this like your place?” “My place?” “Where you bring girls.” “Yes. I bring girls to this run-down parking lot all the time.” He gestured with his cup. “I have a sign-up sheet nailed to that tree. Now that you mention it”--he glanced at his watch--“we should probably wrap this up.”
But then Chris reappeared. He threw a glance at the wall that separated the lockers from the shower room. “Who's his sister?” Gabriel looked back in his bag and kept his voice nonchalant. “Just a girl in my math class.” “Just a girl, huh?” Gabriel glared at him. “Just a girl.” Chris smiled. “So was Becca.”
Thanks to Kensington for providing a copy for review! And thanks to The Midnight Garden for having me on the tour!
Steph and I are finally losing our Elemental V-cards to those Merrick boys. Join us for a read along, starting with Storm! We've alotted two weeks for...moreSteph and I are finally losing our Elemental V-cards to those Merrick boys. Join us for a read along, starting with Storm! We've alotted two weeks for each book, so read at your own pace and stop by Steph's review on April 28th to discuss with us!
It's official. I am in love with the Merrick brothers. Which one? *shrugs* Can't I love them all? Also. I have officially lost my Elementals V-card to them. And you know what? The morning after wasn't awkward or embarrassing. Those Merrick boys know how to treat a lady. And they aren't bad to look at either.
I expected to like this book. All of my friends who are more experienced with the Merrick brothers agree...these books are addictive, much like the brothers themselves. And I agree completely. I just didn't know how much I was going to love these boys with their supernatural abilities and all of the angst and drama that unfolds because of them. As soon as I finished Storm, I wanted to pick up Spark, especially when I realized it was Gabriel's book. But we have a schedule for this here read along, so I contented myself with the next novella...though I make no promises that I won't peek at Gabriel's story. (I'll be reviewing Fearless, a novella from Hunter's point-of-view, on Short Story Sunday this week.)
So, about the actual book...that's probably important, too, right? ;0) Storm is baby brother Chris's book. He was probably 11 or 12 when we met him in the Elemental novella, but he has grown into quite the young man...and he's also grown into his Element. Chris controls water, in all its various forms, while his brothers each control one of the other elements: earth, air, or fire. I really like the framework laid in this novel, how the Elementals were explained and how these boys are at risk because of how powerful and potentially dangerous they are. Thing is, if they weren't provoked, the only danger they'd pose would probably be to themselves as they come into their elements and learn how to control them.
But you know how it is. People fear what they can't understand or control. And so it is with the Merrick brothers. The other Elementals living in town are afraid of what the boys might do. (There's a history there, but that's the Merricks' story to divulge, and they tell it better than I would, anyway.) The younger Elementals in town, the less powerful ones, continue to goad the Merrick brothers, specifically targeting the youngest one in this book, and tension ignites until one night, a completely average girl steps in, ultimately immersing herself in a battle she never knew existed, a war that will likely be waged for the duration of this series. Though I have no doubt some of the players will change.
You want to know about the brothers, don't you? Fine. Michael, the oldest, comes off as an ass if you haven't read his novella yet, but I want to weep for what he's endured and sacrificed for his family. Nick and Gabriel -- the twins!!! -- are identically hot, though one is scholarly while the other is athletic. They both come off rather douchey at times -- Gabriel more so than Nick -- but the potential for nice guys is there, too. And Chris, the youngest, is a sweetie but that doesn't mean he's not as tough or volatile as his siblings. They are brothers through thick and thin, and they fight like them, too. The banter between these guys -- and pretty much anyone they come into contact with -- is music to my ears.
Becca may be new to the Merrick family dynamic thanks to Chris -- and she may not be entirely welcome -- but she's not the type of girl to back down from a challenge. She wants answers, especially when her family history is dragged into the mess. This girl's not going anywhere, especially now that Chris is falling for her. But things are complicated with Hunter in the picture. This guy's an enigma, but with each little hint we get about him, I am dying to know more. So, I'm pretty ecstatic that Spirit (book #3) is his story.
This book has it all: hot boys, a spunky heroine, supernatural powers, hot boys, tons of conflict and action, awesome characters, hot boys, a love triangle, a storyline that I will follow to the very end, and did I mention hot boys? And after all these brothers have been through and suffered, I just want to gather them all up in a [shirtless] hug.
What? Nick approves. :P
“Nah.” He took a swig of Gatorade, then wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “Finding a girl in the kitchen isn't exactly an oddity around here.” “Charming.” He glanced up at that, a glint of wicked humor in his eye. “I'm sure you're special, though.” “Not special at all.” She changed her mind and leaned in to take a cookie. “I just heard my number called and thought I’d better show up.” He grinned. “No way you're here for Nicky.”
“So she doesn’t like the rain,” said Gabriel. Nick smiled. “I kind of like the irony.” “Jesus, you are such a nerd.” Gabriel flung the lighter at him. “Stop using big words.” “Five letters is a big word?” Chris sighed. “No one likes the rain.” “You do,” said Nick. He flung the lighter back to his brother. Gabriel caught it. “Maybe we should put some money on it, see how long it takes Chris to get her wet.”
“Nick,” he said. “I think I’m going to need you to bite my arm.” “I think I’m going to need you to run that by me again.”
“If you want me to fix your homework, you need to leave me alone.” Then he spotted her. “You’re back.” “Yeah.” She glanced between him and Gabriel. “You do his homework?” “Just the math. It’s a miracle he can count to ten.” “I can count to one.” Gabriel gave him the finger.”
Thanks to Kensington/KTeen for providing a review copy.
When I started These Broken Stars, I think I was expecting something along the lines of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. I liked the first two...moreWhen I started These Broken Stars, I think I was expecting something along the lines of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. I liked the first two books in that series, but I haven't been compelled to complete the trilogy, though that may have something to do with the cover re-design mid-series and my ownership of the first two books with the old cover. But I digress. These Broken Starsfar surpassed any previous held notions about the book, and if I had the next two companion novels in my possession, I wouldn't be talking to you right now because I'd be glued to those pages, just as I was with These Broken Stars.
These Broken Stars does include mystery and intrigue reminiscent of that in Across the Universe, and the setting does begin on a spaceship far from Earth, but that's honestly where the similarities ended for me. This space opera is unlike any science fiction piece I've ever read. The prose is rife with beautiful imagery and sentiments, and the story itself possesses an otherworldliness that I find it challenging to express in words, though the authors had no such difficulties.
I've been a fan of sci-fi since I was a wee thing, thanks to my Star Trek-loving father, and yet I don't think I've ever experienced a sci-fi story that touched me as much as this one, that had me thinking about it weeks later. Because though this story begins on a spaceship with a girl who's nearly royalty and a boy who's anything but, it quickly morphs into a story of survival, of love and loss and everything in between.
There's so much I want to say about this story, but I fear revealing too much, so I'll just focus on the things I can talk about, like the characters. Lilac is that girl who is just so much more than she appears to be. She puts on a front for everyone, but inside, she's dying a little bit every day, having to pretend to be the perfect daughter of the universe's most powerful man. Lilac has suffered losses in her life, and though outwardly she appears fine, it's obvious from the chapters told from her point-of-view that those losses still weigh heavily on her.
Tarver is handsome and stoic and immediately captivated by the beautiful Lilac. He's a military hero who wouldn't have even been on the Icarus, had he been given a choice in the matter, but it's lucky for Lilac that he was. Tarver, too, knows loss, and in their efforts to survive after the crash, the two bond and forge a connection that neither one is sure will survive their rescue. I enjoyed watching these two characters, who normally keep so much inside, come out of their shells with each other, and their subsequent reactions to each other were even more interesting. As Lilac proved there was more to her than pretty dresses and galas, Tarver showed that he had a softer side. They each brought out the best in each other. (You can read my interview with Tarver tomorrow as part of the blog tour!)
That cover is just so stunning and full of elements I find so romantic, so I did have some lofty expectations for the romance in this story. I was not disappointed. I was, however, surprised again and again at the direction the story took and where it left the characters, but I was never once disappointed. It's actually quite refreshing that the authors were so daring and dramatic with this story, and the proof is in the fact that I spilled tears for these characters and what they were going through. Not only is the story full of the swoons, but I felt ALL THE FEELS.
And even knowing how it ends, I'm already itching to experience all of it again. These Broken Stars is such an impressive debut, the story so compelling and breathtaking. The novel is a collaborative effort and is told from dual perspectives, and each voice is unique to the character, proving that this co-author team is a force to be reckoned with. Even the brief bits of Tarver's interrogation preceding each chapter were masterfully done, bringing the reader into the story and cluing us into the end game piece by piece.
These Broken Stars is gorgeous and cinematic while remaining suspenseful and inimitable, and I highly recommend it, not just to sci-fi fans but to everyone. This book was just so readable and I breezed through it, wishing I'd paced myself when the story was over. I can't wait to see what the authors have in store for us next, and I hope that though the next story is a companion to this one, maybe we'll get another glimpse of Tarver and Lilac and what became of them. A girl can hope, right?
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my interview with Tarver as part of the blog tour hosted by The Midnight Garden!
Thanks to Disney Hyperion for providing an ARC for review!
"I recognize in Dr. Finneas Bennett a snake-oil salesman of the highest caliber. Of course, it takes one to know one."
I love a good historical fiction, especially one set in the Roaring Twenties. I still maintain that I was a flapper in a previous life. =) This particular time period was so rife with change, so imbued with culture, and it makes for some of the more intriguing historical fiction I've had the pleasure of reading.
Inevitably, I couldn't help but compare this novel to Libba Bray's The Diviners. Both books are set in New York during the 1920s and both involve séances, spirits, and the like. But I can honestly say that Born of Illusion holds its own against the work of one of my favorite authors, and it does so in measurably fewer pages. I'm in no way complaining about the length of The Diviners; I just know that some readers found the sheer number of pages in that book rather daunting. But that book had so much ground to cover and so many characters on which to focus, that its length was necessary to build the complete picture. Not so with Born of Illusion.
Anna's story is magical, literally and figuratively speaking. She might be the illegitimate daughter of Houdini, but she's also a magician in her own right, and a damn fine one at that. Yet, her mother refuses to share the spotlight with her. Their rocky relationship made it hard to like Marguerite, especially when she was forcing her daughter to take advantage of innocent people, but I eventually came to understand their dynamic and even understood Marguerite's position on a lot of decisions.
"She's a terrible snob for someone who swindles people out of money for a living."
That includes Anna's love life. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the romance in this book takes on a bit of a triangular edge, but the way it was presented made it essential to the story line. It wasn't simply a ploy used by the author to create unnecessary drama; the love triangle actually serves a purpose in this novel. And it's resolved by the end of the book...no waiting until the next installment to see who Anna chooses, though for me, I don't think there was ever any question.
"And Cole is the only one who can teach me. Cole, who vacillates between aloof and caring faster than a magician can say, 'Abracadabra.'"
"Owen sighs, his eyes remorseful. "I'm sorry, I'm just so jealous I can't see straight. I've been trying to let you know how I feel about you, but I'm such a klutz it never comes out right."
The book is a tad predictable, obviously, if I was able to figure out who Anna would end up with from the get-go. I also determined the identity of the villain pretty early on, but neither of these facts detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. In fact, knowing these things actually made it easier to appreciate the rest of the novel and focus on other aspects I might have paid less attention to, including that Houdini fellow. ;0)
All in all, I consider Born of Illusion to be a commendable entry in the YA historical fiction genre. The author captured the essence of the 20s beautifully, and made the allure of magic and illusion even more so before setting the stage for an engaging sequel. And this time, the story will focus on Rasputin. Color me intrigued...
Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for providing a review copy!
Dante's character took a little getting used to in The Collector. But I grew to love his swagger and his self-absorbed ways. And he showed tremendous...moreDante's character took a little getting used to in The Collector. But I grew to love his swagger and his self-absorbed ways. And he showed tremendous character growth in the first book. That said, it took a lot to get used to this new and improved Dante in The Liberator. He's not himself. He doesn't know how to be a liberator, but he's trying his best. And yet, this dude stays locked inside his own head for a good portion of the first half of the book.
Talk about a complete 180. Dante worries -- a lot -- about his relationship with Charlie, about his status as a liberator, and about how he's going to keep Charlie safe. It was actually kind of cute. And then he's given this new mission, which takes him away from his beloved Charlie, and he worries even more. Dante can't fathom how he's supposed to liberate the soul of a girl who is his equal in every way. It's enough to drive a guy crazy. But after Dante has his little pity party, he's back to being awesome. Annoyingly so, but still. :)
There are quite a few new additions to the cast of characters, as well as the return of some old friends. ;0) And if you're worried about the possible love triangle hinted at in the synopsis, fret not. Aspen is awesome and spunky and fierce, but more than anything, she is a friend to Dante and Charlie. Dante sees some of himself in her, but he never looks at her the way he does Charlie. Charlie is his world, and that's that.
I was happy to see that the villains were more prevalent and took on a more sinister role this time around. Not that they were non-existent before, but they were lurkers. In this sequel, those bad guys have upped the ante and have added to their ranks. This is truly a story of good versus evil, a battle between Heaven and Hell, and the bad guys aren't ready to give up just yet.
The Liberator got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but once it hit its stride, I was reminded of why I enjoyed the first book so much. This installment is more action-packed and intense, I think, but it also packs a more emotional punch, as everyone seems to be battling their own demons. I'm really enjoying Victoria Scott's take on angels and demons and what they're ultimately fighting for, and I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours and Entangled Teen for providing a copy for review.
Well, now. Dance of the Red Deathpicked up right where Masqueleft off...with little to no review of the previous book's events. I suggest a re-read of...moreWell, now. Dance of the Red Death picked up right where Masque left off...with little to no review of the previous book's events. I suggest a re-read of Masque if you've got the time. (I'd do it for the swoons alone...they are far and few in this follow-up novel.) Fighting abounds, escapes and near-misses are aplenty, and even an I love you or two is uttered. And yet, this finale in the Red Death series just wasn't quite what I was hoping for.
Our Heroine: That damned silver syringe makes an appearance once again, but this time around, Araby is able to refuse oblivion. She has learned to deal with grief and regret on her own terms. Araby's truly grown as a character, from the spoiled, naïve girl she was in Masque to the battle-hardened, world-weary revolutionary she is in Dance. Despite all of the horrific things she's been a witness to, she still maintains hope that together, she and Elliott can right the wrongs of their families.
The Love Triangle: In retrospect, I think it was always pretty obvious where Araby's affections lie, even after loyalties were tested and betrayals had come between characters. But just because it was obvious, doesn't mean I wanted to see it. I always favor my bad boys with a side of redemption, and this series was no different. What Araby says is true: Elliott would make a good leader. What I'm unsure of is whether that fact alone remains his only redeeming quality. I think Araby's presence does help to soften his demeanor some, but I'm not sure anyone could truly ever crack the ice surrounding his heart.
Will, on the other hand, is outwardly brusque, but on the inside, he's like a big, cuddly teddy bear. His presence on the airship, and among the group in general, is at first only mildly tolerated. His misdeeds are few but they are great, and he has a lot to atone for. But unlike Elliott, whose actions only serve himself or his purpose, Will is trying to regain trust. It's clear that his feelings for Araby haven't changed and that he'd be willing to do anything to protect her...even if that means protecting her from Elliott.
I remember Masque being much swoonier. There were moments, but where were the lines like this?
“And I’m falling in love with you,” he whispers. “But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me.”
What? You weren't swooning at that point? ;0)
The World: Still as depraved and desolate as it was in the first book...but maybe more so with the release of a second contagion. Now, even a mask may not keep you safe. But maybe the prince can? Doubtful.
The contradictions introduced in the first book are still prevalent in this sequel: the decaying, crumbling city versus the decadent castle. Traveling through the treacherous, crocodile-infested marshlands versus taking flight in an airship. The impoverished versus the wealthy. I imagine that's exactly what it would come down to if such a plague were to be released upon us today: those who can afford to survive and those who cannot.
My only issue with the world-building is actually one that I find all too common in dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels: what about the world outside of Prospero's city? Has there been no communication with the outside world? Is this place all that exists any longer?
I thought two books would be enough, but I was wrong.
At first, I was rather elated that this would be a duology. I love when authors and their publishing houses realize that the material is better suited for a two-part series as opposed to the standard trilogy. Although a satisfying ending to the series, Dance left this particular reader wanting still more from this derelict world, despite the dire conditions the characters still face. Sure, both books were crammed with drama and action and all manner of twists and turns. And the ending was great. But I still have so many questions. Still, the one that plagues me most, and the one I'm least likely to ever get an answer to is, Would Elliott really have been able to do it?
Thanks to HarperCollins & Edelweiss for the review copy.
There is just so much to love about The Summer I Became a Nerd. It's cute...moreThis review -- AND A GIVEAWAY -- can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
There is just so much to love about The Summer I Became a Nerd. It's cute and funny and sweet, and well, just plain adorkable! I, myself, am a huge nerd, though I think it's pretty obvious that I don't try to conceal that fact.
I envied Maddie, getting to LARP with the likes of Logan and Dan. My only experience with LARPing is through Little Brother, another nerdy book that I enjoyed quite a bit. And, honestly, now that I think about it, that was actually a big scavenger hunt and maybe there was no LARPing involved? So, yeah, terribly jealous. I'm not a gamer girl, but I think I'd be awesome at LARP. Just sayin'.
So, yeah, I liked the LARP aspect. I giggled at all of The Princess Bride references. (It is my favorite movie ever.) And I loved how much this book reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, complete with battle of the evil exes. The only thing I didn't like was how Maddie continually denied her own happiness simply for the sake of keeping up appearances. That is the main focus of the book, but I just found the justification for her actions, the underlying reason, to be without merit. However, when it comes time to confront the truth and make amends, Maddie mans up and I can appreciate that.
I can also appreciate the cute nerdy boy she has a big ole crush on. Logan actually reminded me of the guy I was hard-core crushing on in high school. And just like Maddie, I thought his dorkiness made him that much cooler. And much like Maddie, I was dating someone else when he finally announced his feelings for me. It made for an awkward situation...in both cases. But I loved seeing how it played out, even if Maddie didn't always do the honorable thing. Does the nerd get the girl? You shall have to read to find out.
If you are a nerd, have nerdish tendencies, are friends with a nerd, or are crushing on a nerd, I think you'll enjoy this fun and quirky book. The Summer I Became a Nerd is the romance novel for those of us who'd rather find true love in a comic book store than at the lifeguard stand. It's not your average summer beach read, but it's full of clever, nerdy banter and timeless sci-fi and comic book clichés that even your most closeted nerd can appreciate.
This prequel novella set in the Elementals world introduces us to the eldest Merrick brother Michael. I think it's rather fitting that the last brothe...moreThis prequel novella set in the Elementals world introduces us to the eldest Merrick brother Michael. I think it's rather fitting that the last brother to get his own full-length novel is the very first one we meet, assuming we're reading the whole series in chronological order. (And I am...reviews of each novella and full-length novel are forthcoming as part of our read along.)
Michael's family lives in fear that they're going to be discovered for what they are...by Emily's family and those like them. So, there's quite a bit of animosity already brewing between these characters before we even meet them. A chance encounter gone wrong leaves big brother Merrick in an even more precarious situation. But he is resolute, and despite any internal conflict, he takes his chances with Emily.
I love good banter. I'm pretty much guaranteed to love any relationship that starts with this. And although this is a short story and I didn't get to spend enough time with the characters to see the romance fully develop, I know I would have shipped it. Because not only was there banter, but they outgrew their bias of each other over the short period covered in this story.
So, I read this as a precursor to the Elementals Read Along spanning April and May. I am one of the Elementals Virgins, and I vowed to lose my v-card to the Merrick boys. I think I got to first base with this novella. I haven't learned a ton about Michael or any of the brothers, but this short story served as a great introduction to the series, and I feel like I've been properly initiated into the Elementals world.
Big thanks to Kensington/KTeen for providing a copy for review.
I love zombie novels, be they scary and gory or just tragic and sad. Even better if you combine all of those elements. And that's exactly...more**4.5 stars**
I love zombie novels, be they scary and gory or just tragic and sad. Even better if you combine all of those elements. And that's exactly what Susan Dennard accomplished with Something Strange and Deadly. Dennard has combined the elegance and industrialization of the Victorian era with the grotesqueness of the walking dead to create a world that was both frightening and intriguing. The first-person narrative allowed me to explore the streets of 19th century Philadelphia right along with Eleanor as she searched for her missing brother. The story was fast-paced and well-evolved, and though it was not suspenseful in the way that I had hoped, there were plenty of zombie-killing sequences to keep me entertained.
Characterization can make or break a novel for me. If I don't feel at least some connection to the characters and what they are going through, I'm more likely to have a less than favorable opinion of the story as a whole. The opposite is also true. Sometimes the characters are so solidly written, so meticulously developed, that I'm able to overlook other elements of the story that might have otherwise bothered me, such as the lack of mystery and suspense. The characters in this novel are in the latter category.
Take Eleanor Fitt of the Philadelphia Fitts, for example: she's a young, well-bred society woman who is to be married off to the first available man who comes along so that her mother may avoid the poor house. But no one asks Eleanor if this is what she wants. She bites her tongue and obeys her mother, biding her time till her brother returns and saves her from this plight. Assuming he does return. The underlying motivation for nearly every one of Eleanor's misguided actions and indiscretions is finding her brother. Elijah makes her feel normal and whole in a world where she does not quite belong. Eleanor has always known she didn't quite fit with high society, but after deep reflection and upon hearing "Miss Fitt" one too many times, the realization of just how much she doesn't belong really hits her. Miss Fitt = misfit. Such a clever moniker for such a clever girl. Quick-witted and sharp-tongued -- "I could keep quiet. But that didn't mean I would." (p. 89 of ARC) -- Eleanor is the kind of person I want beside me when the Zombie Apocalypse arrives.
In keeping with the theme of ostracism, Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters in her search for Elijah. The band of outcasts is hesitant to help Eleanor until they learn that Elijah's disappearance is somehow involved with the reawakened Dead. Joseph, the leader of the Spirit-Hunters, is a gentleman who handles himself with dignity and grace. Daniel, his right-hand man, is the opposite. He may be hot-headed and callous, but he is quite the inventor. (And quite dashing, too!) Jie is a Chinese girl, slightly older than Eleanor, who dresses as a boy, not only so that she may work with the Spirit-Hunters, but also to avoid suffering dresses and corsets and the oppression that comes with being a young women, in her society or in Eleanor's. Together, the three have followed a powerful Necromancer from Chicago to Philadelphia. Tracking down the Necromancer and stopping him is their primary objective, but seeing as how Eleanor has proven herself helpful and her brother does seem to be involved somehow, they agree to assist her in her search.
A slew of bad decisions, a heaping helping of zombie attacks, and a bittersweet romance all make for one exciting read. But the decisions aren't of the cringe-worthy variety, the zombie attacks aren't terribly disgusting, and the romance takes a backseat to the real action. It's really quite good and artfully told, considering this is the author's debut novel. And what a sensational debut it is. I almost wish I had time to re-read it now so that I could pick up on the nuances and details I missed on my race to the finish line the first time around. It's a zombie novel, but it's not of the grossly exaggerated and vomit-inducing type…at least I didn't think so. So, if you can handle a little descriptive grossness and prefer a story that doesn't focus primarily on romance, this book might be for you.
Thanks to HarperCollins/HarperTeen for providing an ARC of this title for review.
I had to take a minute to catch my breath and collect my thoughts before writing this review. I have so much to say and I'm not sure where to start, b...moreI had to take a minute to catch my breath and collect my thoughts before writing this review. I have so much to say and I'm not sure where to start, but I know that I want to keep this one shorter than my Ashes review...that one was a novel in itself. Suffice it to say, Shadows was one jaw-dropping moment after another, and though I feared for Alex, I never wanted it to end.
Shadows resumes right where Ashes left off, but I suggest that you re-read Ashes before diving into this second installment. There are flashbacks and other methods used to refresh your memory, but they don't happen all at once in the first chapter like in so many novels, and so I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. I rather liked that feeling, though...as if I were in the thick of things right along with Alex, not knowing who to trust or where to turn.
Lies and betrayal. Aside from running from/fighting off the Changed, the Chuckies, the zombies -- whatever you want to call them at this point -- that seemed to be the main theme. In Ashes, we only read from Alex's point-of-view, and so we only knew people's motivations as she saw them. But in Shadows, there are so many perspectives that it's hard to keep track of at times. Some of them actually led to a better insight into character motivations. Some led to comprehension of the environmental and behavioral changes as a result of the EMP blast that changed the world as these characters knew it. Some just drove me crazy, despite any awareness or understanding they might have left me with. All said and done, though, they all tell a very realistic, if not horrific, version of the events after the EMP detonation.
SOOOO much happens in Shadows. So much running. So much fighting. So much hoping. And although this novel is 528 pages, it never felt long. The pacing was such that I could barely catch my breath between chapters and POV changes. I was steadfastly attempting to figure out just what was going on, who was on who's side, but as much as I tried, I was constantly proven wrong. This novel may be a lot of things, but predictable is not one of them.
I recently read Outpost by Ann Aguirre, and these two novels are based on very similar ideas, though they are executed in two amazingly different ways. The writing styles are each unique and exciting to read, but without divulging too much of the plot, all I can say is that they maintain a similar premise when it comes to the evolution of the "zombies". It was very interesting to watch the way the two worlds each evolved and how older citizens always seem to revert to the old ways.
Shadows was gritty and gruesome and terrifying. But it was also another one of those emotional journeys that strikes you to the core, leaving you as vulnerable as the characters in the story. Ilsa J. Bick really goes for the shock factor with this series, and if the increase in action and suspense just from the first novel is any indication, I might need a respirator on hand to read the last book in this trilogy.
Thanks to EgmontUSA and Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
This book (and others like it) is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. Maybe it's the challenge of reforming a bad boy. Maybe it's just that cocky, "I am God's (or the Devil's, in this case!) gift to women" attitude. Whatever it is, I find the allure of it unavoidable.
“I glance in the mirror. Surprise, surprise—I look finger-lickin’ delicious.”
Dante Walker is the epitome of arrogant. He can be charming one moment and crass the next, but he only does something because he wants to do it. Well, unless Boss Man tells him to. Dante's job is collecting souls and he is damn good at his job. Until he's assigned to collect Charlie's soul, that is.
“As Charlie is leaving the house, she somehow trips on the threshold and nearly face-plants onto the ground. I roll my eyes. How is it possible out of all the people in this world, this is the soul I’ve come to collect?”
Charlie is a bit of an enigma to Dante. He can't figure her out. She seems happy, despite being unpopular and not pretty in the least, and he finds her to be a bit of a conundrum. The more time he spends with her, the more puzzled he becomes...or maybe infatuated is a better word for his feelings toward Charlie. Because it becomes pretty clear that he's developing an attraction to her. And that he actually finds himself wanting her company, as opposed to being forced into it.
“I'll never understand the friendships Charlie has. Friendships where it doesn't take cash or hookups, or saying the right things to stay in the circle. No, Charlie's friendships are different. She tries to protect her people, and they in turn protect her. They accept each other's imperfections and support one another. My friends weren't like her friends, which makes me wonder if I ever had any at all.”
Charlie is a bright light in a dark world, and she's bringing about a change in Dante that he can't explain or control. And the more he changes, the closer he gets to losing his heart to this girl whose soul he's come to collect. Which leaves Dante with quite the dilemma. I loved watching Dante squirm and struggle with this decision. Redemption is never easy, but it's worth the cost. And it makes my heart happy to see a bad boy go good, especially when his sole purpose was quite the opposite. The character growth here is off the charts.
I must admit that the slang Dante used was grating at first and took some time to get accustomed to, but after awhile, it either wasn't that noticeable, or he actually started speaking like a normal person because I found that it no longer bothered me. It didn't seem to bother anyone else in the book either, like it was normal to speak in such a manner. I'm sure the use of this language was just to play up his overconfidence, and to that extent, it worked. But I don't know anyone who speaks this way...not anymore, anyway.
Yes, this book was kind of cheesy. (But who doesn't like cheese?!?) Yes, this book is terribly predictable. (Did I mention I love a bad boy who redeems himself?) But even so, this book was a ton of fun. It's a great in-between book, a little something to make you smile. And laugh. You'll definitely laugh. Pretty much anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy this book on some level.
Thanks to YA Bound Tours & Entangled Publishing for the review copy!(less)
I approached Wings of Arian with some trepidation. The last indie novel I read left me with a bitter taste, and I really wanted to like this novel. I'...moreI approached Wings of Arian with some trepidation. The last indie novel I read left me with a bitter taste, and I really wanted to like this novel. I'm on a bit of a fantasy kick right now, and I really enjoyed the last few I read, so it became even easier to begin to expect the worst. But Wings of Arian surpassed all my expectations -- and not because I set the bar low...it's a truly awesome novel. This book really captured all of the fantasy elements that I enjoy so much: magic, mythical creatures, and of course, a world with secrets just waiting to be discovered.
First, let me touch on the characters. Our two champions, Kiora, the wielder of magic, and Prince Emane, her protector, are thoughtful, well-developed characters with established backgrounds. The chemistry between these two characters was immediately evident to me, though it took longer for them to see it. Their cause is truly a noble one, and I think the goodness in each of their hearts will prevail on their quest. Sometimes, I found myself wondering if Kiora was a little too good; the fact that she harbored no ill will toward anyone, even her enemies, could prove problematic in future endeavors, but at least she makes life interesting, right? And that Emane...the only time his anger bubbled to the surface was when Kiora was in danger. That fierce over-protectiveness, for which he was assigned the task of her Protector, may prove to be his downfall yet. But I sure hope not.
Ah, the world. Lush. Picturesque. And of course magical, though for the last thousand years, that fact has been kept kidden from the residents of the valley. But now that evil has returned, they have to be made aware, and they have to pick a side. The supporting cast of characters help to make the world fantastical, as they were as much a part of the valley as the trees or the grass, and they all serve to aid Kiora and Emane in their efforts to rid the world of the evil that has once again been unleashed on it.
Wings of Arian is relatively fast-paced, and it was a rather quick read, as well. The plot kept me interested, as one by one, secrets of the magical world were loosed upon Kiora and Emane, though they never got all of the answers at once...no matter how much they demanded it. My only complaint would be that the ending leaned toward the anticlimactic, though it did pave the way for a great future for this fantasy series.
Witty and humorous and full of magical potential, I'd recommend this novel to fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling and the newly-released Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
So, I went into Greta and the Goblin King thinking it would be similar to Labyrinth. And I guess it was, though not nearly as much as...more**3 1/2 stars**
So, I went into Greta and the Goblin King thinking it would be similar to Labyrinth. And I guess it was, though not nearly as much as I expected. Little boys abducted from our world and taken to the world in which goblins exist. Check. Mysterious goblin king with intense attraction to the heroine. Check. Quest to save the boys and send them home to their own world. Yup.
While there are similarities to the movie's premise, this story stands apart. For one, Greta isn't a waspish, coddled teenager who wishes her brother away. She tries to save him. When she finds herself stuck in Mylena and unable to return to our world, she picks up a sword and starts fighting. Greta is fierce and determined, but she is also vulnerable and lonely and not completely without her faults. Differences aside, I still expected Greta to shout out, "You have no power over me!" And then proceed to save the day by breaking the Goblin King's spell or whatever.
GatGK is fantasy-lite with a heavy dose of romance. I usually like my fantasy the other way around...or at least in even proportions. But for this book, the combination works. I full-on expected Isaac, the reigning goblin king, to exude intensity and lay on the longing gazes...and I wasn't completely disappointed. I wanted Isaac to be that bad guy that you hate to love, the one that you know the girl should stay away from but she just can't help it and she's not really fighting it all that hard. But he ended up being so much more to Greta. I still feel like I'm supposed to be pulling for Wyatt, since he is human and all that, but just like Greta, I felt the pull to Isaac. I just knew there was more to him that what was on the surface.
I only wish I could say the same for the overall world of Mylena. While the story suffers a bit due to the lack of world-building, the two main character arcs are pretty solid, making up for the fact that we never really delve into Mylena. But that's not to say I didn't want to. Such a wealth of fantastical elements to draw upon in a story like this, and the author barely touched on them. I'm glad to know that this is a planned series because I'd really like to explore this world in-depth, not just its inhabitants.
Greta and the Goblin King is a fun debut, one that I think would even appeal to those who usually shy away from fantasy novels. Not a lot of names and places to remember. Not too many magical elements to try to comprehend. Just a fun, quick read with some mythical beings and a hot romance (or two) thrown in for good measure.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy for review.
I am so unbelievably ashamed of myself for putting this book off for so long. I daresay I had the galley in my possession for a few m...more***4 1/2 stars***
I am so unbelievably ashamed of myself for putting this book off for so long. I daresay I had the galley in my possession for a few months before I even cracked it open. And then I remembered the allure of that cover, and the pull of Norse mythology reminded me why I wanted to read the book in the first place. I love mythology, any kind and of any origin, in all of its various permutations over the years and through various retellings. Can't get enough of the stuff. And the fact that I knew next to nothing about Norse mythology intrigued me beyond belief. Again, why didn't I read this novel sooner???
I've heard the term valkyrie before, but in case you weren't aware, a valkyrie is "each of Odin's twelve handmaidens who conducted the slain warriors of their choice from the battlefield to Valhalla". You don't need to know that going into this story because the author does such a splendid job of explaining the mythology in the book -- without going overboard with the details, I might add -- that you'll pick it up fairly quickly. But it always helps to be prepared...just ask Elsa. ;0)
I don't normally say this, but I would totally like to see this book made into a movie. Norway as the backdrop for all of the action would be gorgeous. And I've already got the head Valkyrie cast....as well as many of the other characters. But Astrid was the first one I had pegged down. I'm serious people...I'm never able to cast a book, but these characters are so clearly defined, even as they waver in their beliefs, that I knew exactly who should play the parts. Scary.
That synopsis might make it sound like the romance is first and foremost in this book, but let me tell you, Valkyrie Rising is equal parts action, danger, romance and myth. No one aspect stands out more to me than the others. And I loved every bit of it...from Elsa finding out who (and what) she was to her taking on her nemesis even when she was likely to be defeated to the swoonage between Elsa and Tuck, the ever-persuasive boy-next-door. Yes, it's safe to say that this story far exceeded my expectations.
I laughed out loud, I whooped in celebration, and I stared in open-mouth shock at times. This novel brings it. There's family drama. There's boy drama. There's really-beautiful-girls-who-want-to-destroy-the-world-on-Odin's-behalf drama. And it gets intense at times. If I had to compare it to any of my recent reads, I'd have to go with Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races, due to the mystical mythology, the will-they-or-won't-they aspect, and just the way that the setting is like another character in the story. There's also a touch of humor in both stories that just feels so authentic, so true to the characters. You don't have to enjoy mythological tales to appreciate this story...it's simply the kind of book that will speak to your sense of adventure and make you wish that your grandmother had passed down some extraordinary genes to you.
"Last name too? Bad sign. But here goes." He leaned closer, knowing full well how destabilizing his proximity could be. Before I could help it, I was batting my eyelashes right back at him. A reflex as involuntary as the knee-jerk test at the doctor's office.
"He laughed. It was a noteworthy event--his teeth were so straight it wouldn't have surprised me if he said he'd had braces twice. But his smile was crooked. It was the best possible combination."
"We should call the police," Tuck said. "And tell them what, exactly," I said. "That we think Valkyries kidnapped my brother? And attacked my grandmother? Maybe we should interrogate all the other fictional creatures, starting with the Easter Bunny?" I knew I wasn't being helpful, but my frustration was screaming for an out. "Leave the Easter Bunny out of it," Tuck murmured. "I know that dude has an alibi."
Thanks to HarperCollins for providing a review copy and to Shane at Itching for Books for hosting the blog tour.
I found Inbetween to be cute and clever, and although it wasn'...moreStop by The Starry-Eyed Revue on 8/24 for an excerpt as part of the Inbetween Blog Tour!
I found Inbetween to be cute and clever, and although it wasn't completely original (what is these days, right?), it was still a very fun read. It was engrossing to the point that I'd find myself skimming larger passages to read ahead and find out what happened, only to have to go back and re-read those sections to ensure I hadn't missed anything. I love when a book has me in its clutches like that, but I also hate it because it feels like I have to read everything twice.
Inbetween is set in our world but also in a location parallel to our world, aptly named the Inbetween, as it is that gray area between Heaven and Hell. It is the place where souls are sent if they haven't quite earned their spot in Heaven or Hell, though if they are truly exceptional souls, they may be given the opportunity to return to the land of the living to really prove their worth.
This novel is told as a dual narrative, from the perspectives of Emma and Finn. They may not have known each other in this lifetime, but each feels a deep connection to the other after a chance encounter that leaves Emma without her father and reminds Finn of a painful loss he suffered some fifteen years earlier. As a reaper, Finn takes some serious risks to ensure Emma's safety once he realizes who she is. And Emma is in danger quite often, which leads to a lot of trouble for Finn, since he's not supposed to interfere in human affairs or "go corporeal" because his boss can sense it and will require a full report.
Emma is a sneaky little minx, digging deep to discover things about Finn that he won't divulge himself. Yet, she never quite figured out what I had deduced nearly from the onset of the novel. I'm not going to sugar-coat it…this novel was a tad predictable, but that only kept the first half of the novel from being as enjoyable as it could have been. Once the action -- aka attempts on Emma's life -- really got going, the book became a bit more suspenseful and engaging.
The romance was sweet and cuddly but in the way a sad puppy at the pound is because there can't be a future for these two. Emma is of the living, and well, Finn is most definitely not. He's a reaper, meant not to develop feelings for a human but instead to send them on to the Inbetween to await their fates. But he can't help himself. His reaper friends -- Easton of Hell's domain and Anaya of Heaven's -- both try to convince him his intentions are fool-hardy, that he's wasting his time and causing trouble for all of them, but he's a lost cause. He'd try anything, do anything to be with Emma. I kind of have to wonder if this guy has ANY scruples after some of the things he's done for her or even contemplated so that he can be close to her.
Although this book is focused on the reapers and a rather forbidden romance, it has a little bit of everything in there, just to keep you on your toes: possible body-snatching, Ouija boards, psychotic ghosts, overbearing mothers…you name it. Oh, and a hot, if somewhat pervy, best friend who remains strictly in Emma's friend zone. So, no love triangle…well, not in the most literal sense, anyway, so yay! Wait, wait, wait. I just remembered there's no cliffhanger either -- though I did feel that the ending was a little too perfect, a little too easy. I guess this novel doesn't have everything then, but in this case, that's not a bad thing. All in all, Inbetween is a great start to a new series that I definitely plan to continue.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy for review!(less)
I have always been fascinated with the idea of extra-terrestrial life. My dad was a big sci-fi fanatic, watching every permutation of S...more**3 1/2 stars**
I have always been fascinated with the idea of extra-terrestrial life. My dad was a big sci-fi fanatic, watching every permutation of Star Trek and any and all alien-based movies he could get a hold of. You could say he rubbed off on me a bit. (Though, I'll never quite understand how I came to love Star Wars so much when he's never shown even the slightest interest in those movies. Weird.) Anyway, given my love of the otherworldly and the possibility of an interplanetary love story, this summary sounds like it was written just for me.
Gravity was fast-paced and full of intense action scenes but it lacked depth. The world was presented in an appealing manner, but I never truly understood how it had gotten to that point. Plenty of history is divulged in Gravity but with the constant unearthing of lie upon lie, it was difficult to discern if the facts presented were real or if they were only real to Ari in the here and now of it all. Suffice it to say, I need to know more about this futuristic version of Earth and those otherworldy Ancients before I can truly say this story captivated me. At only 199 pages, I can't expect much background, I suppose, but I expect the world, and the existence of the Ancients in ours, to be more fully explained in future installments.
Though all of the characters were likeable or at least relatable, I also felt that I only got to know them on the surface, except maybe for Ari, since the story is told from her point-of-view. Ari is your typical dystopian protagonist: tough and resilient, but she's made this way by her military father. She's expected to carry on his legacy and become the next Commander. In the beginning, she's quite naive and accepts everything she's been told as truth. But the closer she gets to her future, and the closer she gets to Jackson, the more she begins to question everything she knows, especially as the world around her begins to change. Gone is the peaceful acceptance of The Taking, and she must now decide which side she will align herself with.
Full of lies, romance, and betrayal, Gravity is a fun, quick read that will intrigue and excite readers. This novel will take you on a journey of discovery. It's an exploration of right and wrong and how far one girl will go to rectify the wrongs of the past. And it will leave you clamoring for more. I can't wait to find out more about this world!
Be sure to check out my stop on the Gravity Blog Tour to find out ten things Melissa West thinks you should know about Gravity before you read it.
A galley of this novel was provided by Entangled Publishing for review purposes.
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was such a fun, light-hearted novel...a long over-due break from all the doom and gloom I've been reading lately. It...moreMy Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was such a fun, light-hearted novel...a long over-due break from all the doom and gloom I've been reading lately. It has a little something for everyone, as it's equal parts contemporary, science fiction, and historical fiction: a girl from our time travels back in time to 16th century Italy.
Sure, that sounds like it might be hard to pull off, but Rachel Harris does it seamlessly. Whether we're following Cat around in present-day or watching "Patience" flirt with Lorenzo, the story flows flawlessly and is always entertaining. And there are lessons to be learned along the way, which is always a plus. I enjoy a good story that offers up some well-meaning and well-placed morals -- especially when said story is aimed at the young adult audience. And in 16th century Italy, you would be hard-pressed not to find individuals with a high standard of character, what with their virtues intact (somewhat bregudgingly for the younger set) and chaperoned outings and the like.
What I enjoyed most about My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was that unlike so many novels where the protagonist slips easily into their new life, Cat is having such a difficult time adjusting. She forgets herself often, using terminology from her own time period. Cat also seems to make a fool of herself at every opportunity, but what she lacks in proper etiquette, she makes up for with the ability to laugh at herself. Cat knows she'll never have an opportunity like this again, and she's going to enjoy it for all its worth.
The romance is just as cute and sweet as the rest of the story. But just about everything about this novel was cute. Well, except for that awful Niccolo. But that surprise ending?!? I need the next book NOW, Ms. Harris, if you please. I just love a book that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction at the end but also has you asking, "Well, what happens next?!?"
This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue along with the rest of the My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century tour post, which includes an excerpt from the novel.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing a review copy!(less)
One of the things I loved best about The Treachery of Beautiful Things was that it kept to the more traditional faerie lore -- think more A Midsummer...moreOne of the things I loved best about The Treachery of Beautiful Things was that it kept to the more traditional faerie lore -- think more A Midsummer Night s Dream and less Wings. And several favorites from the Shakespearian comedy appear in the novel, as well, making it feel as if I was visiting old friends. I love faerie stories and was glad to see that this particular tale was a return to the faerie world I’ve always known and loved, steeped in rich folklore and magical creatures.
The imagery used to describe the Faerie Realm is phenomenal, if not surreal. Ruth Frances Long depicts a world untouched by human technology, full of wonder and magic and unimaginable beauty. But our heroine Jenny soon finds out that the treachery of the Faerie Realm lies in the simplistic nature of things, for nothing is ever as it seems. The more she travels the Realm with Jack and Puck, the more she comes to realize this truth.
Jenny’s story is a bit sad. On her way home from a music lesson with her brother, the trees reached out and stole him from her. Of course, anyone she tells this story to deems her crazy or fanciful. Seven years later, as Jenny is preparing to go off to college, she goes to the forest that took her brother so long ago in hopes of making peace with his disappearance and saying a final goodbye to the brother she loved so much. Turns out, the forest wants her, too.
Once in the Faerie Realm, Jenny’s only objective is to retrieve Tom and return home. She is determined and intelligent but by no means is she any match for the Realm and its inhabitants, especially once they know she’s there and what her future holds. Jack and Puck try to keep her safe and repeatedly try to coax her into leaving the forest for good, but Jenny refuses to leave without Tom.
And so Jenny spends much of her time traipsing through the forest with her companions, oblivious to what’s right in front of her. She’s a damsel in near-constant distress, but it doesn’t grate on my nerves like it might in other novels. After all, she is in a magical world with no powers of her own to speak of. Plus, her rescuer is Jack o’ the Forest and his character left me with no complaints. He was complex and difficult to decipher…the yin to her yang, so to speak. Their romance in the novel isn’t all touchy-feely, and it isn’t really the focus of the story until the end, but it was still beautiful and, I don’t know…fulfilling? You know how some love stories leave you feeling like it was just a romance of convenience, not like the characters were really meant to fall in love, just that they did so for the sake of advancing the plot? Yeah, the romance in Treachery isn’t like that at all. It’s well-developed over the course of the novel, with neither party realizing it was happening or at least denying it to themselves or anyone who risked mentioning it. It wasn’t cute or sweet, it was simply lovely.
I loved all of the characters in this book, even the ones I wasn’t supposed to, including the fierce Oberon and the creepy Mab. But my favorite was probably Wayland. He was but a bit player, though his part nearly cemented the future for Jack. I always enjoy the character who foresees the future, giving you vague details but then won’t tell you what they mean. And then of course he gives Jack a gift that could kill him as soon as help him. It’s good to have a guy like that on your side, rather than working against you.
The Treachery of Beautiful Things is a lesson in love, loyalty and trust. It's a charming story told amidst unsettling things, but it's one of the better faerie tales I've read. It's also a stand-alone, which means that you're not committing to yet another series if you're smart and decide to give it a try.
My favorite quote:
"Every game has its Jacks," she said, the sadness of it pulling down the elation of sudden understanding. "The thing that acts as a wild card. It can't be counted on or predicted. A weapon, even. But he's in other places, too, isn't he? And do you know what else a Jack is, Puck?...I do." - p. 325 of galley
And I posted this teaser a couple of weeks ago:
"She was talking to a tree. Just talking to a tree. Totally normal. People probably did it every day here. They're only trees. She fought an insane urge to laugh." -- p. 181 of galley
Thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for providing a galley for review.
This is probably going to read more like a plea to the author than a...moreEnter to win your own copy of Dead Silence as part of the Dead Silence Blog Tour!
This is probably going to read more like a plea to the author than a review. So be it.
I love this series. I love the characters, how much they've matured over the course of these four books and how their relationships have changed. And I'm not ready to say goodbye yet. When I finished Dead Silence, it didn't feel like goodbye, either. So many things feel unresolved; it didn't feel like an ending at all, not even an open-ended type of conclusion. I was actually anticipating an announcement from the author regarding the next book, but then I saw THIS post. I knew it was likely that this would be the last book, and nothing is definite, as evidenced by the author's response to my comment on the aforementioned post (see below), but it hurt my heart to know that this may be the last body-finding adventure I get to go on with Violet, Jay, and the rest of the Center gang.
And it's obvious how much Kimberly Derting does indeed love her characters, even though she puts them through hell at times. There are some intense and horrifying moments for Violet, and she puts herself in danger entirely too often, but at the end of the day, she's a great heroine, role model and just an intriguing character overall. Her gift -- or curse, depending on the situation -- definitely makes life interesting. And once she learns that she's not alone, that there are others like her with similar gifts, things get really exciting.
As remarkable as Violet's gift may be, actually using it is what gets her into trouble. More often than not, using her gift means stumbling onto a murder victim, and Violet can't get any peace of mind until the victim is laid to rest and the murder is solved. The author creates an added layer of creepiness to the story by interspersing Violet's perspective with that of the killer, and a disturbing game of cat and mouse ensues while Violet searches for clues to aid in the Center's investigations. And while the killer is loose, no one is safe...not Violet, not her colleagues, and not her friends.
Violet's had her ability since she was a child, and she's mostly kept it a secret, though her best friend Jay has known the truth of her gift for years. Jay has proven himself compassionate and caring and completely trustworthy time and again, showing exactly why he has become one of my most treasured book boyfriends. He's the real deal, and the relationship between Jay and Violet, from best friends to first loves, is my absolute favorite kind. Have you ever read about a more honest and adorable fictional couple in YA literature? I don't think so. Sure, they hem and haw around their feelings for each other in the beginning, but they've been nothing but forthright with each other since. Just as Violet is an inspiring character, this romance is one to aspire to...a love for the ages, if you will.
Sure, there have been complications, with the relationships in this story and in general, but these characters persevere and do what is ultimately right. They fight the good fight. And I'm not sure I'll ever be able to adequately express how much I'm going to miss all of them. If this is it for Violet and friends, I'm glad the series ended on the note it did.
But hear this, Kimberly Derting: I will ALWAYS be ready for more, so whenever you feel like writing more of Violet, Jay, Rafe or even Chelsea, know that you have a willing reader in me. (Please, please, PLEASE write more body-finding adventures! Pretty please?)
Thanks to CBB Promotions & HarperTeen for providing an ARC for review purposes!