Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Three things to pay attention to world, girl and boy.

The World. It is different and familiar at all once. Take a girl pirate then plop her in a desert and what do you get? Something interesting is what. The world doesn’t drown you in details, but what’s there holds you attention because it’s familiar only because one knows where it’s but you’ve got to appreciate how it’s used in the story. Camels and land ships, confederates and the Otherworld… all interesting details that never did overwhelm me. Her world just is; you see some familiar bits with a different twist to them.

The Pirate. Would it be that she’s kick ass? But, she’s simply more than that. Annana is feisty, and tough raised by pirates and all, but not always kicking ass. She could hold her own and in fact did time and time again when needed be, but she’s a thinking girl too. She’d weigh her options, ask questions, and do the smart thing. But, it’s the very fact that she did things at all that I liked more.

The Assassin Naji would have been the perfect blend of mysterious and scary maybe-hero except funnily enough he behaved so unlike what I expected. It’s his decisions that drag the both of them from one mess to another. Plus, it was he who needed the rescuing. A funny role reversal here, but it’s a still a good thing too because it’s said fact that allows the girl to shine even more. 

Thank you Netgalley!



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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Good Reads Summary
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this—especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends—while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. Ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The story: Thought out. Frank. Sensitive…
The girl: Conflicted. Prickly. Wise…
Everyone else: Frustrating. Heartbreaking…

This ends on a quiet note, yet it’s an end that’s especially fitting given how quietly everything else progressed. Cameron, confused and surprised by what she’s feeling. Then Cameron, relieved that no one knows. But, Cameron, feeling guilty for the same. Years go by with her under the radar… then it's Cameron, falling in love with Coley… who breaks her heart. And then there’s the camp…

But first, this is about Cameron coming of age. This is a matter of her discovering who she is and what she wants. Later it’s her finding she’s not the only one, that there those feeling what she is, doubting what she did, and being defiant just like her. That despite the town she’s from, the family she has… despite an upbringing so different from theirs, there are those in the same boat. 

There’s a frankness in it that I appreciated. What she’s dealing with, what she’s feeling, where she goes, what she does and with whom are clearly detailed but not once in an overly dramatic way. Everything and everyone just was. But neither are those trivial, everything she goes through and all those details have a place in the story. I doubt she would be who she was without Irene, Linds, or Coley… or without Jamie or her family… or even without Adam and Jane and Rick.

It's also chock full of emotion that comes out of the details. Though slow, it’s actually that which allows the clarity of everything to shine through. It’s clear: her emotions, her defiance, her confusion, and her means of coping. She is humorous, and it’s this humor she uses to bounce everything else away. She’s prickly, but what else was the girl to be when everyone around a body is telling her what that what she was feeling was wrong? But then… doubt?!

That last had me so utterly frustrated… but I could understand too. These people truly believed the message they were sending. These people working so hard to do what they thought right by her, had me curious and almost (but not quite) sympathetic. These people, Rick and her grandmother, who believe that with a little time and some understanding, she wouldn't be who she was. I was frustrated by it all... angered, actually. So, it’s this girl who is wise because she eventually says it all by describing exactly the emotional abuse that happens when told time and again that to be who you are and to feel what you do is wrong. So, I understood exactly why she was as prickly as she was. What else was there to be?



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Friday, July 27, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless
Good Reads Summary
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
The story of a girl named Chelsea Knot who takes a voluntary oath of silence after her gossip-mongering ways yield unexpected consequences…

Saying she’s sorry isn’t enough.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Would it be too obvious of me to compare SPEECHLESS to SPEAK? Things felt slightly similar in the more emotional moments, but never did get as heavy because of all those lighter sweeter bits that balanced things out. BUT first, look at that cover, will you? Just look at it. Look at it again! So simple, yet it’s a simplicity that intrigued me. And not being one to read blurbs, I knew not one whit of what was coming.

Now call me frank, but I found the girl’s initial concerns too self-involved and trivial. I suppose that was precisely the point. For us to witness first hand a story of doing better, acting differently? The story of girl discovering that there’s actually more to her than even she thinks (there are all of those things, btw). By book’s end, I’d found that the girl had changed but not too much… more likely, she’d discovered pockets in herself~ she just didn’t do so as quickly as I’d have liked.

The writing was incredibly accessible. Her every words thought, clear as day; it’s the same that paints her as initially too wrapped up in basking under the reflected glory off of Ms. It Girl, which in turn motivates her every move, which is then what gets her in trouble. It’s all of that that created in me an intense dislike for her. 

Yet, I read on...

Because the story here is a simple one. The biggest wow was how with one wrong action, ka-pow there were consequences… and that’s even with those times when I felt a minor disconnect. Oh, how do I put this? I liked that there’s an aftermath. I liked that she dealt with it. Not the harassment she’s subjected to (because that was a mixed bag of horrible, frustrating, disappointing), but her seeing the connection of what she’d done and it having an effect on another in such a terrible way. That recognizing that, she does a total about face from her normal. And yet still, here I stand, feeling as though it were all avoidable somehow; that had she bothered to stick her thinking cap, everything could have been side stepped. 

Eventually, I got caught up in all that making -things -right -but -not -knowing -how -to -go -about –it, even with me feeling that the best friend/not friend angle as so-so. It’s this that felt incomplete. The BFF here is paper thin in how popularity crazy, manipulative she could be. It’s been done to death, and I wanted more. There could have been more too, but she’s made out to be absolutely terrible and nothing but. She’s not much different from where Chelsea starts off except where Chelsea’s tries, she one doesn’t even attempt to budge.

And finally, there’s that sweetness that stems from Chelsea figuring out who’s real and who wasn’t. A bit convenient… sure, but sweet nonetheless. Plus, what quirky bunch they turned out to be!

3.5/5

Thank You Net Galley!






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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

Nightshifted (Edie Spence, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

From debut author Cassie Alexander comes a spectacular new urban fantasy series where working the nightshift can be a real nightmare.

Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond...

Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed.  But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. Grey’s Anatomy was never like this ...


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I liked...

There’s a notable absence of histrionics on Edie Spence’s part. Because out girl? She’s a realist. She sees things for what they are and makes do. But she’s also a good woman trying to right some wrongs, do what’s right (at least the few she’s able to). So, her being the nurse that she is was totally apt. Add in that she didn’t sit on her hands and wait for things to happen; she made thing happen.

Did I mention realist? Because while cognizant of the goings on and accepting of it all, I also found her funny in her methods, sex being one of… mainly because she’d end  up with the oddest of bed partners. The sexy times are reminiscent of Sooki and company~ the girl, all good and positive surrounded by deadly (hot) supernatural men. Edies’ just like that, less the positivity. Plus, she really is good… or tries to be. Her push and pull with her brother, knowing what he did and who he was illustrated this. And, though it shouldn’t come as a surprise: it’s the last which eventually finds her mired in all those supernatural things:

She’s got vampires with their various thrones and factions, a friggin syphilitic were-dragon… and all other weres for the matter, zombies that regenerate, plus one or two shifters.

So, Her life? Definitely, not boring.

What I liked a little more...

It’s got a darker feel, yet it doesn’t get bogged down in all of the same, rather things progress in a matter of fact way. Bad things happen, the story moves on and she along with. She moves on. That, and she could be funny while at it.

Plus, gross out factor to the highest. Just think Zombies… then factor in a romance. Then consider that this is Urban Fantasy… Fascinating in the how-to’s and what’s-it’s, but let’s face it, toward the end there? Things did get more than a bit gruesome. Surprisingly: I liked it.

What I wanted more of…

Anna and Sike!

3/5




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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons

Tatiana and Alexander: A Novel
Good Reads Summary
 Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons

The Bridge to Holy Cross is a powerful story of love and hope -- a passionate and epic love story from the Russian-born author of The Bronze Horseman. The world at war ...two people in love. Tatiana is eighteen years old and pregnant when she miraculously escapes war-torn Leningrad to the West, believing herself to be a widow. Her husband, Major Alexander Belov, a decorated hero of the Soviet Union, has been arrested by Stalin's infamous secret police and is awaiting imminent death as a traitor and a spy. Tatiana begins her new life in America. In wartime New York City she finds work, friends and a life beyond her dreams. However, her grief is inescapable and she keeps hearing Alexander calling out to her. Meanwhile, Alexander faces the greatest danger he's ever known. An American trapped in Russia since adolescence, he has been serving in the Red Army and posing as a Soviet citizen to protect himself. For him, Russia's war is not over, and both victory and defeat will mean certain death. As the Second World War moves into its final violent phase, Tatiana and Alexander are surrounded by the ghosts of their past and each other. They must struggle against destiny and despair as they find themselves in the fight of their lives. A master of the historical epic, Paullina Simons takes us on a journey across continents, time, and the entire breadth of human emotion, to create a heartrendingly beautiful love story that will live on long after the final page is turned.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
"Though much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---

Unyielding."
A sweeping tale that takes us back to how they met, what they saw and why they were so relentless in loving... then later in protecting the other. It goes from New York, to Berlin then to both their memories of Russia. Tatiana and Alexander’s love story is epic in scale with both of them doing some heroic things. Granted things could get a tad unbelievable, Angel of Ellis and the lead up to the end especially.

Yet...  you see, I do not care. These two have carved a place in me. He is good and so is she. They love each other and are faithful. And it’s that faith that’s tested time and time again. In the end unyielding, as that line says, is what they were. They are the others'
"We walk alone through this world, but if we're lucky, we have a moment of belonging to something, to someone, that sustains us through a lifetime of loneliness."



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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Spark (Sky Chasers, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Waverly and Kieran are finally reunited on the Empyrean. Kieran has led the boys safely up to this point, and now that the girls are back, their mission seems slightly less impossible: to chase down the New Horizon, and save their parents from the enemy ship. But nothing is truly as it seems…Kieran’s leadership methods have raised Seth’s hackles— and Waverly’s suspicions. Is this really her fiancé? The handsome, loving boy she was torn from just a short time before? More and more, she finds her thoughts aligned with Seth’s. But if Seth is Kieran’s Enemy No. 1, what does that make her?

In one night, a strange explosion rocks the Empyrean—shooting them off course and delaying their pursuit of the New Horizon—and Seth is mysteriously released from the brig. Seth is the most obvious suspect for the explosion, and Waverly the most obvious suspect for releasing him. As the tension reaches a boiling point, will Seth be able to find the true culprit before Kieran locks them both away—or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? With the balance of power precarious and the clock ticking, every decision counts… every step brings them closer to a new beginning, or a sudden end... 


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Remember when I kept going on and on how GLOW was DARK? This sequel just upped the ante in that regard. In Spark, Kieran is leader, Seth is prisoner, and Waverly under scrutiny.

Talk about an about face!

This redefining of who they were on the ship and to each other (and I’m not talking about romance), was different. There’s a lot of doubting and being surprised that so-and -so could do this or that. Or, would it better to say that instead of this redefining, there’s a revealing of true selves and capability? Interesting, yes? Even more, when one recalls those hints shown in GLOW because here we see all of them living up to those things:

Take Kieran’s rhetoric on enemies or even his views on a more positive vision and moving forward, impassioned though he could be… he simply rubbed me the wrong way. But that was the point, right? To see such stark change in a boy who’d initially shown such possibilities. Yet, here with one emotion based-decision after another, farther and farther he seemed to stray from that potential.

But he wasn't alone, for Waverly too seemed to be on a similar path. Now, her name I still find unfortunately fluffy, yet she was anything but. They’ve devolved these two. With her pulling precisely what Seth had, yet it’s the very same action that drives the fact home: that she’s less girl-perfect and more girl-broken.

Less a shocker are the changes in Seth. we all hated him in GLOW, right? He does terrible things and behaved absolutely badly. Here, bridges are definitely mended, but with all the why’s coming out, well so too did his more reasonable-self surface. Frankly... he's the most likeable one of the three. I bought what he was selling. There’s a genuineness to his position; that had reconsidering my opinions of him.

They all did things that crossed the line... but always with reason! It's just that those reasons happened to add a darker feel to everything else here.



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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Bronze Horseman (Tatiana and Alexander, #1) by Paullina Simons

The Bronze Horseman (Tatiana and Alexander, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons


The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana--and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects--a secret as devastating as the war itself--as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

My Thoughts

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Where to start? Where to start? Where to start?

I struggled at the beginning because at first the girl behaved in a rather ‘young’ fashion, but understandably so… for the story does begin with her as exactly that. Then things got interesting/ complicated because if it wasn’t one thing tearing at her, it was another. There love, he said, was an impossible one, and I couldn’t agree more: her, too young; there being a war just begun; him and her, surrounded by some of the neediest bunch of people blind to anything save their own issues.

So, there was no choice was there?

No choice, but to root for the girl who was simultaneously too young, too kind, too loyal that she wouldn’t go after what she wanted. It’s the last that had me so frustrated: that she was doing all that was doing for such utterly ungrateful shits. Her quiet acceptance of things being the way they were was one part sad, two parts maddening. Her accepting that each of them, Pasha, Dasha and herself, had roles they fit into was doubly annoying because it seemed too good to be true, too many instances of turning the left cheek. I didn’t buy it and couldn’t believe that it happened over and over again. It seemed I wasn’t alone because in his eyes she deserved better… and he fought for her. So, where she’s kind, loyal, sweet and constant; he’s brave and her protector.

If only their story could be so simply summed up!

As said, if it wasn’t one thing it was another. Their tale is long and arduous… too painful a lot of the time, but made easier with a hope that there’d be something for them. But, just when you think that hope fulfilled, another obstacle spring up… obstacles in the form of the most ungrateful shits, I tell you.

It’s paced well enough with Part One a necessary evil for one to know precisely what kind of family she’s in and what kind of trouble there country is part of. By Part Two, though, I couldn’t get enough and just read… and read… and read. It took me two days and half days and I wonder did her world capture my imagination? well, I can say the parts of it laid were horrifyingly sad: the losses she suffered, (that they all suffered) plus what they did to get by… all of it brought out changes in them most often for the worse but sometimes (and with great relief) for the better. More likely, its their impossible love story that kept me up. What a wonderfully told story: beautiful, hopeful, sweet... but painful, too.

4.5/5



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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Teeth
Good Reads  Summary
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah Moskowitz's (author of BREAK and INVINCIBLE SUMMER) TEETH features a sixteen-year-old boy whose family, in an effort to cure his ailing brother, relocates to a remote island where legendary magic fish are said to have healing powers, and he discovers the island has terrible secrets, including a half-teenager, half-fish.

My Thoughts
My rating:  3.75 of 5 stars


Mix the more ordinary moments of a boy bored out of mind, feeling out of place with instances of him experiencing some truly chest squeezing moments of him figuring out where he stands in the not so grand scheme of things his family, with an emphasis on a bit of the more sad/bitter/lonely with him feeling like he’s always coming up short. Now, throw in some of the magical.

Reading Teeth is a quiet experience, soft emotions, hard emotions roll through you; and though it starts odd, it could also be funny most unexpectedly. It may be the last ten percent that’s the most powerful, the on the way to that stuck to me as well. Two aspects of Rudy are made clear: him being unsure as to how to put into words who he and the other were for each other AND him knowing precisely who he was for his younger brother.

What Rudy is… is stuck between rock and hard place. It’s one that drives him to the other; and it’s him with that other that caught me up. It’s his slow discovery of what really was going on; recognizing, feeling then accepting… though hesitantly at first.  And though Diana talks of something else, it seems her going, “It’s not disgusting. Books are disgusting… Let’s be honest, Rudy, books are pornography for brains. All subtext and bullshit and hidden imagery. This is real life. It isn’t like that…this is real life… and sometimes it just happens,” was completely apt. 

As to the other, his end of the story is heartbreak in action. You find yourself wondering why’s and how’s. Only to realize that it really doesn’t matter that much because here are two boys and they’re each the others’… and you’re cheering them on, even when they’re being funny about it. There’s still that sad, sad air to Teeth though. After all… why is where he is to begin with? And discovering the answer to that added a whole layer of the weird…as well as the angering. Because once you know you see that yes, though some may feel for him, the same just don’t feel deeply enough to do anything about anything… Save Rudy of course. Always Rudy who is self-described as one with a need to fix things,

He was supposed to be my escape. And now he’s turning out to be as much as of a fucking nightmare as my fucking family and this fucking island, because I can’t fix this. I can’t save him. And even if I could, how many times am I going to save a boy who doesn’t want to be saved before I finally get it through my fucking head that I can’t actually change anything.”

As brother and son, Rudy had me hanging on his every thought because at his core he is a good kid… but helpless about feeling the negative things that he justifiably felt. Still, it’s Teeth not knowing his place who had my eyes brimming. Him, making his place made him both stronger given his purpose, but weaker too. Weaker because while he protected his own, who did the same for him? *heart clench*

Of course, it wasn’t all so hard; simply because there’s this natural feeling to the way things came of the page. What one thought made sense, what another felt made sense too…and how normally everyone went about there business as if to say ’this may be odd to you, but it’s our normal. And when you factor in those bits of humor, book humor in particular, 

“Don’t go thinking I’m all normal just because I know how to get what I want. I can get unfortunately batshit. Make sure you’re not expecting cute. This isn’t Looking for Alaska… or

“I have an over inflated sense of justice. I’ve read Harry Potter too many times.”


Well I’ve got hearts in my eyes, all for this book. I went into it thinking I’d get one thing (magic gay fish, was it?) but came away something wholly different.

THANK YOU EDELWEISS!



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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)
Good Reads Summary

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...


My Thoughts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I went from

to this,

to this,

to this,


There are books that you take little sips from then are those you devour… this a little bit of both. It’s intricately told with a cast of characters each as nuanced as the other that I couldn’t help but get drawn in. That it’s lengthy is of no issue, in fact, I loved that aspect of it. Particularly since it allowed the reveal of who was close to whom and which sibling had what role. But this is mainly about Sorcha though, youngest of the seven among whom she’s a special place. It’s not as if she’s allowed to run wild, for there’s a discipline to them as is repeatedly pointed out. Each is schooled above and beyond and each has developed a specific skill.  Where Liam, the eldest, has been groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps, the rest of them had their place too. There’s the fighter, the wise one, the questioning one, the kind one, and still another with a hand with animals and… and she, the one with a skill in healing.

The dynamic among them was something that kept me reading because it was the fact that they were always certain of a place with the other, allowed me to breathe through some other parts that were excruciating. But as said, it’s Sorcha’s tale, her path and her sacrifice. So many things happen to her, yet all of them she bore. And I wept. And I was frustrated… for her and by her, by them and for others (Simon! *sniff*).

Add that the twists and the plots and the villains, all became so much more than I expected them to be. DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST just might be my favorite read this year. Witnessing her change from child to woman in this one, go through everything that she did and still stay strong and sweet and loyal? Perhaps Red saying she that she touched everyone around her is not inaccurate because she’s certainly left an impression on me.



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Friday, July 20, 2012

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
Good Reads Summary
Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Can a boy-hungry Jersey girl survive the wilds of Canada with her eco-identity intact? A witty new YA novel from the author of SOPHOMORE SWITCH.

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?


My Thoughts
My rating:  2.5of 5 stars

Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s way too perky/positive for me to love that I wasn't engaged by her voice more. The vibe she was sending out of 'why don’t we just all get along and let’s just keep things smooth on the home front' was nice… but left me wanting something more. A lot of the time, I found myself feeling it lacked that needed oomph. Simply, we witness Jenna being Jenna. She’s environmentally minded, sensitive to others… willing to do what needs be done to fit in. I enjoyed her having a definite position on certain things; but what I liked more was though she is a good intentions, she didn’t always pull things off. Of course, there were those off and on moments of her being a brat. It’s that bit that proved that she’s not always wonderful. So that when one contrasts her to Fiona (who’s most definitely not always wonderful,) their personalities were not black-white, opposites. Both are capable of being something else... it just took them a long while before they showed they could 

Her willingness to put herself out there is her biggest draw. She’s hell bent on doing something good, making nice and carving out a place for herself… that there were points that she’d miss out on what others felt about where she was coming from. So that slow opening of her eyes and acceptance that not everyone saw things as she did was a relief. My main issue is that said shift is so drastic by books end. I wish she’d have stuck to her guns… but not as stubbornly as Olivia had. I wish she’s kept to some of what she’d initially been spouting. But again, the point as she’d learned is that not everything is cleanly defined. (I suppose that’s the point anyway.)

On her and the boys; there be three boys, the old one, the surly one and the approachable one. I found it cute how she attempted to fit in. I found it cute how they had their own thing and that with each attempt on her part one of them would thaw. Slow building up there… and it’s when most of the funny things took place.  Overall, the romance was cute… if a bit insulting (seriously, it really was.) But if you factor in her going moon-y eyed and slack jawed over shirtless Reeve, well it was cute nonetheless.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shift by Em Bailey

Shift
Good Reads Summary
Shift by Em Bailey

Olive Corbett is definitely NOT crazy.

Not anymore. These days she takes her meds like a good girl, hangs out with her best friend Ami, and stays the hell away from the toxic girls she used to be friends with.

She doesn’t need a boyfriend. Especially not a lifesaver-type with a nice smile. And she doesn’t need the drama of that creepy new girl Miranda, who has somehow latched on to Olive's ex-best friend.

Yet from a distance, Olive can see there's something sinister about the new friendship. Something almost... parasitic. Maybe the wild rumours ARE true. Maybe Miranda is a killer.

But who would believe Olive? She does have a habit of letting her imagination run away with her…


My Thoughts
My rating:  1.5 of 5 stars

Subtlety is not this books strong suit... so, this wasn't that much of a psychological thriller. Obviously there’s a history here with everyone aware but having the same go unspoken. Yet, with the big ginormous hints littering the path toward the reveal, there really was no thrill for me in this one. At points, I even felt a little insulted by how it seemed someone had taken my hand and positioned my body just so as if to say, ‘see this? this  is the way things went down; and that? that is why things are the way they are now.’ There’s zero figuring out going on here.

In an attempt to make matters more interesting there’s more than one mystery to figure out. More than one unknown quantity entered the picture though Lachlan’s type lay on the side of the more predictable.  What did we have in him? Why, yet another new hot boy crushing on the odd girl out! Question: Who’s been there and done that with me? Answer: Anyone whose picked up a YA paranormal in the recent past. The fact that he’s interested in her was not new; the fact is I saw little point in him save YA hotness quotient being fulfilled.

It’s Miranda and her oddness that should have upped the ante. Eventually, however, the same problem of things being handed to me happens with regard to her. My complaints ran along the lines of wanting to be allowed the chance to figure things out on my own. As in ‘stop leading me along like a baby and let me do it!'

Plus, it’s the mostly oddly arranged thing I’ve read in ages and that’s not really a good thing. Imagine your typical story of a building up, a climax, and a resolution thereafter; now imagine a big ol’ knife slicing it clean in half and swapping those halves’ places , or more apt, skipping the tail end and then doubling up on the start. Why? SHIFT had the same thing taking place twice over! Imagine (again) my frustration over how people in it just. didn’t. see!  I mean, why piece things together at all, when midway through it’s clear that it’s already been done for you? What an aggravating experience this was. Not even mentions of toxic friendships and blow by blow of how they could tear each other apart kept me interested. And even when things eventually did change up (a little) well, there was no steam left. The tension before resolution? Absent. Instead, there’s a big squelchy plop-y sound to mark the ending.





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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Storm (Elemental #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm (Elemental, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys - all the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initial impression of the four hot boys on the cover: Pftt. Not my thing.
Knee jerk reaction after last page: Crazy clicking on my part thinking there was more to follow only to realize that it was over! I was less diappointed and more like this:



I was completely wrong about this! It was fun, it was funny… and not too romance-y, (well most of the time). And yes, there may have been a love triangle, but I moved along with it and saw that each one had his merits and his fair share of mistakes too. And yes, her parent may have been absent, but there was a point to that as well. And indeed, her best friend didn’t quite fit the mold of “BFF,” but it was all good. All those little “been there and done that” moments were immaterial, STORM is just that good! This was fun and I had a big grin plastered from word go.

On hot boys, OK. I’ll be the first to admit that crushing on these four hot boys (uber-cheesy cover on the book notwithstanding) makes me a tad immature, but… they simply had me grinning. How they played off each other; how each a specific type was sooo good! Except they’re so much more that I initially thought too. Types, you ask? One is solid and dependable, if a bit surly Another, nice, cool and at times distant. Yet another, a danger to the teenage girl population. (End of.)  But STORM revolves around the youngest one... being exactly what you’d think a youngest is. It’s Chris who has yet to define who he is. It’s Chris Becca rescues. And Becca! She’s so darned funny, prone to making mistakes and going off half cocked… there’s even moment of it where she pulls a McFly. Perhaps, that she is so far from perfect is what I liked about her.

But there’s more to them too as I would soon discover, there’s more than a little heart break in their past. Later it’s their secrets that have cause more of the action to take place. And just like the brothers,’ there’s more to her story as well: sad secrets that have her unsure and shaken and even more separated from the rest than they are. It’s her side of it that’s a touch heavy making this mostly action-filled summer blockbuster feeling read.

Oh and that ending? It really came too soon!


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt

The Thing About the Truth
Good Reads Summary
The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt

In this humorous love story from the author of Two-Way Street, an unlikely romance is the best sort of surprise—but the wrong secret can ruin everything. Kelsey’s not going to let one mistake ruin her life. Sure, she got kicked out of prep school and all her old friends are shutting her out. But Kelsey’s focused on her future, and she’s determined to get back on track at Concordia High.

Isaac’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. Since his father’s a state senator, Isaac’s life is under constant scrutiny—but Concordia High’s his last stop before boarding school, so Isaac’s hoping to fly under the radar and try to stay put for a change.

When Kelsey and Isaac meet, it’s anything but love at first sight. She thinks he’s an entitled brat, and he thinks she’s a stuck-up snob. So it surprises them both when they start to fall for each other. Kelsey’s happy for the first time in months, and Isaac’s never felt this way about anyone before...But nothing’s ever completely perfect. Everyone has secrets, and Isaac and Kelsey are no exceptions. These two may have fallen hard, but there’s one thing that can ruin it all: the truth.


My Thoughts
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I was on the fence about this one, thinking that maybe the pair of them were written the way they were in a play to make it more “edgy,” but not too edgy.  You know, edgy in the way that neither of the leads is that sympathetic?

Let’s face it. She’s too uptight; he’d act like an entitled ass. Plus, he could say some of the most atrocious things, while she could behave in equally insensitive manner. I felt that there really wasn’t anything to dig deep for; that they’d eventually prove themselves to be exactly what the other was saying. For a while there that’s what I felt I was getting: time and again, either one would say the most unexpected thing. Like her throwing out “guys like you” comments. Or, him thinking things that ran along the lines of “when you wear a skirt like that…” etc., except reading on, one finds that there’s actually some extra stuff under it all; stuff that doesn’t necessarily excuse their respective behavior, but explains it away (a little). As with Kelsey and her father, or her and her best friend; its aspects that make her a slightly sadder lead. Isaac’s part of it left me feeling short changed. So your daddy’s an ass? Deal with it, dude.

Yet, for all my moaning, I have to admit that the guy was actually pretty funny… funny even when I didn’t want to laugh, because he’s so full of himself and he could say some of the most ridiculous things! At one point he goes, “Not to sound like a pompous asshole, but I’ve had girls stalking me before. And it’s not a pleasant.” Not to sound pompous?! Too late. So I’m split over how funny he could be given him being so full of himself, and how douche-y some of his a lot of his thoughts were.

A lot of the way he was accounts for the way she was too. Picture it: when he’s all smooth, confident… and in her face, she reacts... ergh... 'remarkably' too. To his uber-douche, she’s uber-something else. The biggest positive in this for me at least is how he would spark something in her and she in him. Basically, they were funny together.  

THE THING ABOUT THE TRUTH was funny with the both of them acting the way they did… but honestly, they could get exasperating too!


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Monday, July 16, 2012

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Such a Rush
Good Reads Summary
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.    

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s a got a surprisingly long introduction to a girl who really doesn’t want to turn out like her mother. And does something about. In other words, DRAMA. It’s just not the quiet kind that has you holding your breathe waiting for the next surprise, rather it’s more like those filled with convoluted little plots that don’t make sense to you but make sense to the one suggesting them. There’s a lot of secrets and truths held back… but behold: I was into it.

It’s quiet sometimes especially when it’s all about her and her thoughts and her opinions. The same ones that were slightly skewed given where she comes from, but it wasn’t all quiet all the time, all those plots and plans that made no sense to me just upped the drama to the level of 'say what now?’ See, she’s a an eighteen year old pilot… and still wants to be nothing like her mother, and he’s the bad boy wanting a do over with his father. Only, what if it’s too late for either of them? Plus, there he's one of a hot pair of twins! So, I enjoyed it, even if found things a bit tedious at first, only later to have things take a turn toward the unbelievably too much. BUT if my likening SUCH A RUSH to a soap opera makes sense, it’s something I couldn’t peel my eyes from.

She’s a history that had me rooting for her BUT at the same a little (more than a little) perplexed me by why she was going a long with things. Her tough girl façade was not all a façade. TRUE. She really does take care of herself and she really is tough, but once things got going with him asking her to be one thing and act a certain way. My first reaction was to drop kick him, and me second one was asking why she’s folded. But I did get it (sure, I didn’t buy it, but I got it). She had her secrets after all and a lot of it has to do with living where she does and the way she does, but they had secrets of their own too.

Except the blurb made it out to be more dire than things really were. Take Grayson, the bad boy no longer. He’s turned a new leaf and become all responsible. So working along side him, she learns a little more of him and what she learns makes him a tinge sadder, (even if he still is an ass in my estimation). Well intentioned… but IMO he goes about it all the wrong way. And what about the other brother, the one described as sensitive and solid? He is all that, but he’s got issues of his own too. All his issues (their issues in fact) can be surmised in one word: FAMILY. Where Leah’s running away from where she came from, and Grayson’s wants a do over, it’s Alec who wants to do them proud.

Now, if all that’s not too much yet, there’s that other issue of Molly and Leah. BFF’s? Maybe. Maybe not. Leah thinks people are in relationships because they can get something out of it, and that’s sad, because the pair of them together no matter how entertaining together, were never really themselves with each other… and when things come to head… well, you get the picture. 

This was good at points particularly in the first half and if I add the smexy times that took me by surprise... well, I sailed through Grayson's convoluted plan even if it angered me more than a little.

3/5



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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4) by Stacia Kane

Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4)
Good Reads Summary
Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane
READING, WRITING, AND RAISING THE DEAD

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even with book three ending the way it did, things still don’t go as smoothly I’d have liked for her. A lot of that’s because she’s her own worst enemy. (And, yes, maybe some of it’s because he’s just like her.) Both of them, with their questions and their doubt, her issues especially on trusting and proving things; all of that’s made more difficult.

Now,
Never mind, that she’s almost killed (several times) in this one;
Never mind, that Lex is even more awesome in this one than I remember.


Because how come it was those tender moments that had my heart beating double time? How come every single page where she’s confronting him (and we all know who he is), things felt more like she was confronting herself?

Things still aren’t easy. Her choice is made, but she’s still looking back. In doing so I’m seeing the other guy in a totally different light. But I’m also seeing something new, something else that I don’t like in her. But maybe, in having Chessie act the way she does, be the way she is, Ms. Kane’s kept things real. That choosing something doesn’t preclude regret; that perhaps these things just go hand in hand. Or then again, maybe it less about t regret and more about working at whatever it is you pick.

Plus, there’s a moment here that shines a light on her addiction and how she feels about it. That it’s hers and that it’s not something she’s willing to share. It’s a shock really because…because she has him and he has her. So, I fretted (am still fretting, in fact) over what would happen if (WHEN) things get too much for her. At which point, I'd imagine, she’d lose herself in her pills AND THEN he’d lose her. THEN I’d likely be broken for him AND be furious with her! But she is the way she is with the why of it is only made clearer here: her past is so haunting, but she doesn’t want to be haunted so she drowns it AND herself in anything handy. (Did I make any sense at all?)

So good.

4/5 


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Saturday, July 14, 2012

City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #3)by Stacia Kane

City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #3)
Good Reads Summary
City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane
IT’S A THIN LINE BETWEEN ALIVE AND UNDEAD.

Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate. Mangled human corpses have started to show up on the streets of Downside, and Chess’s bosses at the Church of Real Truth have ordered her to team up with the ultra-powerful Black Squad agency to crack the grisly case.

Chess is under a binding spell that threatens death if she talks about the investigation, but the city’s most notorious crime boss—and Chess’s drug dealer—gets wind of her new assignment and insists on being kept informed. If that isn’t bad enough, a sinister street vendor appears to have information Chess needs. Only he’s not telling what he knows, or what it all has to do with the vast underground City of Eternity.

Now Chess will have to navigate killer wraiths, First Elders, and a lot of seriously nasty magic—all while coping with some not-so-small issues of her own. And the only man Chess can trust to help her through it all has every reason to want her dead.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



  “There is no ‘should have.’ There just isn’t. What happened happened. You can’t ever go back. So now you just have to move on. However you can.”


Story of her life, isn’t it? Moving on, the best she could, however she could… even if the direction she was headed is not really where one wants to be. It’s the personal aspect that got me moving through this one. That despite the fascinating twists the mystery took on and the scary, scary places her job brought her, it was her and her messed up non-relationships that kept me glued. And impatient! True, each thing she’d uncover was interesting, but it was really each moment of her figuring out what she wanted and then acknowledging how hopeless her position was that gnawed at me.

Then along side that you've got what her job had her doing. That aspect, well first impressions, sometimes they actually are accurate, right?. But, even with her following the clues and unearthing one plot, then another… none of those things held a candle to what the emotional parts did to me:

How all her emotions were all laid out and that she knew she’d screwed up, and had to bear the brunt of his reactions, had me on one hand, glad to see things progressing the way they were (in the sense that, actions really do have consequences, and aren't just to be swept off to the side.) Contrast that to me feeling sorry for her because I got where she was coming from THEN contrast that to me grasping where he was coming from! Them together (or not being together) has done a number on my emotions.

I predict things are only going to get more interesting though particularly since there’s that added complication of another key person stepping up and being more than I’d initially assessed him to be. 

Her life is complicated.
My reactions to most everything in this are complicated…
and I loved it!

4/5




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Friday, July 13, 2012

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Story of a Girl
Good Reads Summary
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend--Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


what would have been a thirty minute coffee break this morning morphed into two hours of me ordering one round after another, all because i didn't want this to end. i might have gotten couple side glances too, with maybe imaginary word bubbles of 'what's bugging you and why the clenched jaw?' directed my way.

and how could i not clench my jaws? how could i not breathe deep? really, how could i not when this story of this girl had both angry me and sad me riled up! the only time i wanted to make a fist-pump of joy was how she dealt with tommy... every other moment had me dreading what would happen next. so, right now, there's angry me, and then there's sad me. goodness, but this book has those two halves in me jostling at each other just to have their say first.

she's a pretty decent kid too, wise about some things but not so wise that she'd avoid the moments that had me screaming 'NOOO! you know better, right?' and 'don't do it, don't do it!' in my head. that she doesn't have it all us made plain, but that there were positives too can't be denied either. it's simply that those few positives didn't go all the way. take the brother and the mother who were present but mired in their own thing. her mother especially, who's presence was felt, but almost always fell short.

and you know what? i could forgive them to an extent especially when darren made it clear that they were in the same boat then doling out some tough love with her needing to make her own way (out.) i was all set for this big yay... but was held back by the nagging question of 'what about her?' Which the girl eerily echoes moments later with her,


  I, Deanna Lambert, belong to no one,
and no one belongs to me.
I don't know what to do.
*sniff*

but it's her father who had me blinking back... but blinking back why? from my anger for him or from my disappointment in him for her. her feelings for him, recalling what was, missing it but being resigned that they were the way they were had me glued:

  "That's what I figured out that day... that as much as I'd let him down, he'd let me down, too, and he was the one who should know better. He was my dad. That's when I had to make myself stop loving him. I had to remember the way he used to be, because if  I kept thinking about the old dad every time I looked at him, I would never stop hurting."

*SOB*

heavy stuff here...
all because people make mistakes and with things that matter being left unsaid.


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Inherit by Liz Reinhardt

Inherit
Good Reads Summary
Inherit by Liz Reinhardt

Wren Kochi’s life is full of problems without solutions and wishes that she knows better than to set her heart on. When a mysterious fox arrives from her family in Japan and things she desires begin to land in her lap, she’s torn. It’s tempting to have whatever she desires, whenever she desires. But is the price she’s being forced to pay too high? The mysteries of her absent family and secretive past begin to unravel, and Wren has to decide whether or not she’s going to embrace the powers she was born to command. When long-time crush, sexy, brilliant Jonas Balto, proves to understand her more than she ever imagined possible, Wren finds herself caught between love and family, power and friendship, and peace and desire. Just when she thinks she has it all figured out, she discovers the fight for her life and those she loves has only just begun.

Inherit is a YA mature paranormal. It contains drinking, strong language, and sexual situations.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, my favorite thing in this was definitely the Japanese telepathic fox-familiar.What a mouth full, eh?


That fresh feeling I had when I came across her Double Clutch’s been revived. Sure, my faith in the author ebbed a little given books two and three of the same series, but this one… this one!  This one may have returned my fondness for the author as well as for YA PNR/UF!

First thing, Whiplash. I may have suffered whiplash from all her ‘I want to but we shouldn’t moments.’  All that going back and forth with her went by quickly and if it was funny at first it got old soon after that.

Second thing, I could have done without threats of someone ripping the world apart and someone crossing the world to protect another as well as those lovely declarations because they just came too soon and too much in the right moment.... except that all those were truly minor hitches in what’s otherwise a totally fresh PNR, imo.

Long has it been since a PNR, (YA PNR at that), has had me laughing and not rolling eyes all that much. This was a fun book, with a little bit of something new. Sure we begin with the idea that she’s speshul and unaware but there’s more to her both on the ordinary and the supernatural levels. Discounting the odd names of most people involved had (MC included), there’s this normal/ordinary air to her. Wren loves her grandmother for one and channeling a little of her inner Brenna Blixen: she’s got her feet solidly planted on the ground~ well, at least for a good portion in the first half of the novel. Plus, if I backtrack a little, I just loved how she’s initially introduced:  feeling slightly abandoned by a BFF who’s newly in love. Then there’s the not so normal bit where she’s self described as ‘Rosemary’s baby, demon spawn, half-Asian child of corn.’ The girl just kept things from turning boring.

What came off as slightly odd were all those moments with The Boy. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first… but everything she said was just absorbed by him. Sure, we know why that’s the case (eventually), but while it was happening, it just felt out of tune for me. Like him acting the way he was, was not really the reaction I’d expect. Some mocking maybe, some laughing, even doubt perhaps, but nope. There was just all that understanding and listening that was on the one hand: new, and on the other: plain, old odd.

I like her version of speshul though, introducing different kinds of magic from different spheres putting a different spin on star crossed lovers and what not. Because it’s how those different types of magic did collide that’s the basis of her predicament. And while I’d have loved a little more of an explanation as to the who and the what, what’s actually presented was interesting. A little deviant, said he, but not really… a lot of it is just a different spin on witches and mages; some of it was new to me BUT I liked it. Sure there were bits that felt stilted; those sudden developments being exactly that (sudden), but on the whole I liked what I got and am definitely looking forward to what’s to follow.

And if all that’s failed to convince you, need I remind you of the telepathic fox-familiar from Japan?

This was loads of fun!


3.5/5




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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning Instinct
Good Reads Summary
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.



My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb says "There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)" This really isn't that story

No matter how well intentioned someone is, the same doesn’t stop them from deciding a certain thing and acting a particular way. You come away from this knowing full well that there really are no stereotypical predators or victims. Predators don’t go around all skeevy and scary announcing to the world who they are and what they want. Neither do victims. And she was definitely one, time and again… so this is me again: torn.

DROWNING INSTINCT enthralled me. Rare is the book that would get me to use that particular descriptive, but it really did.  She scared me and then her story went and broke my heart a little because you’d think that there’d be something good in this for her. And, may be, just maybe there was some good for her… except it was all so fleeting; bright and all that, but far too short a time especially when contrasted to everything else that had taken place.

Everything happens to her, some by her own doing but most all else not.  So midway through I wasn’t exactly positive if I could trust what was being said. Time and time again I had to put it down wondering if she really was saying what she was saying. Then I’d find myself picking it back up and getting sucked in again. She’s such a sad history… and it’s left me feeling a lot of what I did after FORBIDDEN, PIECES OF US and A STORY TELLER: at once happy then sad but basically torn about what was happening knowing that things (a whole boat load of things) weren’t right, but wanting her to be happy… even for just a little.

Oh, and pardon the shouty caps but: READ THIS, people!
4.5/5





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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts #2) by Stacia Kane

Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
ENEMIES DON’T NEED TO BE ALIVE TO BE DEADLY.

For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem—humans filing false claims of hauntings—all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes.

Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they—along with their ruthless employers—are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, I stand corrected.

A friend of mine asked if all those Fever comparison were warranted. Indeed they were. THEY TOTALLY ARE.  And, besides standing corrected, this is also me, smiling like crazy but wondering what the hell I was on the last time to have rated this a three?  I mean a three?! This is a four, people; at points even a five.

And here’s why:

a. I love how I read through the mystery just to get to the points where one or two or all three of them would be together. Because dear lord, there might have been the makings of a love triangle... but things were never that simple. And I loved it.

b. It’s hard how all of them screw up. How I shouldn’t like any of them, but found myself nonetheless, wrapped up in them with her the biggest screw up of all of them. Still, I understood who she was and felt sorrier for her given those brief glimpses into what she was and where she’d come from. She’s a lot like Roarke’s Eve. They’ve both miserable histories, and it’s the same that shapes them only for Chessie’s she’s shades darker. She’s not one to like. She’s just so pitiful, especially with a whole bunch of her choices I found myself disagreeing with. Except I read on because I wanted to see how things would turn out. It’s not all roses for her… in fact, there’s never a moment with her that was actually easy.

c. Seriously though, the emotional lows this one took her (and me as a consequence) were almost too much. The consequences of her choices; and even the choices she’s faced with before those consequences bubbled up…  were something else. Ahhhh! Why did I stop at book two again?

d. And, Terrible… you, asshole you… ! You fascinate me so.

4/5


******
First read through:
2/6/2011



I. Am. Hooked.


I was expecting it to be difficult. I was expecting the same thing I felt as I was reading the first installment, but did that stop me? Nope. The introspection and  the language that I could not abide there were still present here, but these did not slow me down one bit. I enjoyed the plot a much more here: With prostitutes dying in the city who is Bump going to call? Gho Why, Chess Putnam, of course. Once again she finds herself between the drug dealers, Bump and Slobag. And once again she’s caught between the two men in her life: Terrible and Lex.


Chess is a witch who makes one epic mistake after another. Normally, I would not find her sympathetic. Yet, despite every mistake, I could not help but find her a little... sympathetic. I mean, she is not supposed to be a sympathetic MC, drug dealer, self destructive and all that, right? Right? Wrong. It was all the introspection that did it for me. I have said that it was that aspect of the first book that dragged Unholy Ghosts down for me, but strangely, I did not mind it so much in this book.


Terrible (Uhm? Yum. Yes, definitely, yum.) He does live up to his name doesn’t he? Working for a  drug lord/pimp/crime boss and beating people up will make you do that I guess. BUT the thing that I love is (view spoiler)[ that they finally, finally, finally consider their mutual attraction (hide spoiler)]


Next one please.











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Monday, July 9, 2012

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1) by Stacia Kane

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED.

The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased.

Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch, freewheeling Debunker, and ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for nailing human liars and banishing the wicked dead. But she’s keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that’s landed her in hot and dangerous water.

Chess owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump. And Bump wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it.

Hell, yeah.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Look, it’s boring as hell the first fifty percent in, but once fifty nine hits and with everything thereafter, well… things get crazy in how good they were. This second read through has me seeing details that just didn’t matter to me.  She’s every bit as screwed up as I recall her. But she’s every bit as sad too. 

What’s got me wondering again though is if she’s got so little going for her then why are all these men in her way? First, Doyle, who read too good to be true… (view spoiler)[ turns out, I was right (hide spoiler)] Then Lex who read the bad boy, but the irresistible bad boy, if you catch my drift. Then Terrible, whom we know for a fact isn’t that attractive, built like a tank and with a face that may or may not have been run over by one. But… Why, oh why  am I so fascinated by them all? By that last guy in particular.

Then Chessie. It’s one debacle after another for her, and I’ m still here because she’s just that fascinating. She’s punched, stabbed, hexed… and subject to a other numerous things, but she’s stronger for all that. And also more interesting because she simply isn’t that strong or more likely, she isn’t as strong as I’d have liked her to be, if the drug use doesn’t establish this I don’t know what will… And still here I am... rooting for her.

Hell yeah, indeed.


*********
First read through 
(2/4-5/2011:)


It took me quite some time to get accustomed to the world she lived in and the language that some of the people used. It was not the drug use that I disliked (facts of life after all) rather it was the constant introspection going on that I could not abide. For most of the book it’s Chess thinking to herself considering the motives of others or thinking about how someone did something, or thinking about needing/wanting another hit that you read about.


Only when she interacted with the other characters did things really get interesting. Her interaction with Doyle, Bump and Terrible then later Lex… were the parts that really got me reading on, if not for the supporting cast, I probably would have chucked UG early on.


One thing I have noticed though,  Urban Fantasy heroines that I have read have some funky self-concepts going for them. Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson did not consider themselves anything special, and yet a boat load of guys were very into them. Chess is no exception.


3.5


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Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

A Midsummer's Nightmare
Good Reads Summary
A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

bear with me here, folks. i liked it and i didn't like it.

big plus points on how much better i found both its story and the way it flowed, especially when i contrast it to the 'too-laid out, follow the crumbs toward the story's resolution feel' that DUFF and Shut Out had me feeling.

in fact, even if a major point in this still has me weirded out, midsummer nightmare just might be my favorite of hers... though technically that's really not saying much given my having rated her previous two books at two's and this one? a glowing three. heck. maybe even three point five. 

then, bigger plus points on account of whitley. she's is out there and vibrant and lively. the best thing i can say about her is that she knows what she wants and has this definite way of going about it. sadly, it took pages and pages of me-myself-and-I whining on her part before I actually liked her for more than her being fierce.

so, liking her was difficult; she made it difficult! she has a warped view of things, of herself as well as of others. and it's all that, that made her a slightly more sad lead. she's fierce, but not really all that, and why exactly? she's eighteen and still hung up on what mommy didn't do and what daddy could have done.

what's worse is she does make perfectly valid claims: her parents truly do suck. once made clear, it's easy to see where things were going. so, that's another thing i liked: how easy to read it was. in fact, the same thing can be said for Duff and Shut Out; that even when the characters were being a pain, it was still easy to follow along.

that said, i do think there were many too-convenient explanations and even more too-convenient fixes here. so that what you end up with is she's the way she is because her parents were the way they were. i get it... i just didn't buy into it completely. plus, i'm still slightly weirded out by her romantic situation.



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