Friday, July 25, 2014

I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1)I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh ho ho! You deceptively tricky beginning, you! I confess it was the dark-ish tone that it started with that had me curious first. That last bit that Nadia as narrator tacked on  is so spot on as to why I read what I do these days; yes, I am one of those pulled in by things splintering apart. And while that's here, there's the after that as well.

And despite both, I felt the biggest plus in this is how not all of it is the melodrama of the girl loving the boy and the boy loving the girl and all is well and perfect if only! There's not much "if only's" here because the two provide a refreshing clear assessment as to what is versus what could be done versus what needs to be done.

Both know what they want (and I'm talking outside the romantic here, folks) and both are aware of the position they're in as well as the path they're on. What's even more real is the way their lives are laid out- they party it up sure but not just, as there were actual moments of her as student; those glimpses into what's required of her paint a more believable picture of her as the woman she's choosing to become. The same could be said for Ty only it's him as father. Basically, it's not all romance--- the things that came before there being a 'them' are still there. And it's how they fit themselves into the other's life that's different.

Thank you, NG! 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Bleed Like MeBleed Like Me by Christa Desir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bleed Like Me is not so different from other YA contemporary novels in that it's dark and gritty, except perhaps that more than one character is broken. Yet they're not just broken, for there's an awareness from both- the degree thereto the only variation. Add that they are not alone in being flawed; no one is 'faultless' here.

Yes, the two here are flawed; it's as such that they find the other. We see both their situations become the worst possible ones while together. If at first, her family reads good- adoptive parents of boys who need them- dig deeper and we find the lot of them floundering given all that's required of them, despite the goodness of their intent so that in the midst of that/because of that, her voice is lost. And if at first glance, too- he is a disaster- troubled youth, in conflict with everyone-everything; yet, they are both more than those. Only, it's when they each become become the other's ALL that things take an even darker feel. Yes, it is because of him then, with him, that she finds a measure of better, as does he in her. However, what is better exactly?

She knows from where her actions stem;  she sees her actions framed in what her experience lacked. He too sees her actions as is- not right, aware of the wrongness in the same, yet not putting a stop to it. And why? Like her, he has his issues too. Issues that she slowly becomes aware of. It's in that slow peeling back of layers by both of the other that makes this book what it is- different and truthful and multifaceted- because it's in their day to day, that they both manage to disappear. The business that others face have the two swept aside. It's there that the two begin what's obviously to be a co-dependent then destructive relationship (the latter only becoming evident to one first and then tragically, to the other.) 

The book is already dark with those in mind; but becomes a touch darker with each moment of her giving physical translation to her pain, and as well as of him being 'brave and out there.' Both aspects are felt even more, as there are others not necessarily sweeping them aside but too overwhelmed by things they have to face. In fact, it's this that makes reading BLM frustrating/riveting--- how things could have been otherwise, because there's a slipping through the cracks for both of them.

So, not one is faultless here... him, in goading her on; her, in clinging to him; and all else, in looking the other way (either because they just couldn't be bothered or because there were other things in the way.) Bottom line, BLM is different because it's more than them and their pain; there's the unfortunate truth that underscores its progression because things are allowed to continue- not just by people like the MC's but by the others around them (seeing but failing to act; or worse yet, not seeing at all.) 

Thank you, E! 

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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)The Jewel by Amy Ewing

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maaaaaaaan. Why do I feel like I've read bits and pieces of this book in other better told stories? I have yet to read Selection... so that's not it. But this has me thinking of Wither meets something meets something else. Despite this odd feeling of I've read (all) this before, overall I'm feeling 'Meh' over all of it. Mainly because there were so many elements to Jewel that it might have been better a reading experience had one or two or three things been taken out.

And what do we have? Royal blood line that's going to end if *gasp* no one is there to carry on said line. By some twist of fate/accident of science/something it's Violet and those like her  ("Surrogates") that can do the job. Also, Violet and girls like her magical. To this last we have them able to control "auguries" of color/shape/growth. Then all these take place in a world that's split in areas that include the Marsh, the Smoke, The Farm, the Bank, the Jewel... so predictably named that I wondered over why they the distinctions were even made. And in this already divided world, we have the Royals whose various lineage were likewise predictably named that I didn't even bother to keep track. And then throw in ladies in waiting -who weren't ladies, companions, and a host of other secondary characters all of whom serving the purpose of amping up the creepy. But failing to do so.

Given all those of those could have have been's: not much of this worked for me. Hell, not  even the 'surprise' romance between her and the one like her. And why? There were too many things going on;  a consequence we end up with a story wanting to tell too many things all at once so that it's personality and possibility was lost along the way.

But thank you, Edelweiss!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set aside the magic phone, it’s apparent that Landline is love and the issue of it being sufficient. My first encounter with Rowell was E & P. The pair there had me enamored; mere mentions of a certain time had me happy. This experience I immediately followed up with Fangirl. There I found myself likewise enamored with the odd yet endearing people that story was filled with.  Now, cute and odd as both those stories were, it was Attachments that clinched things. The one-two punch of pure nostalgia then pure ordinariness of the way they could all be is what worked for me.

There’s a little bit of the last in this; and despite the magic that could be that the phone in this served, Landline is less the about oddness that that represented AND more about the real connections, honest conversations, and deep-deep (as well as not-so-deep) musings they were all engaged in, particularly Georgie McCool.

Landline was all about Georgie: her life, her feelings on where her life was, how her life with Neal had turned up. Then there’s Neal as well: Neal of present and Neal of past…. both versions as seen through Georgie’s eyes. Only not just.

As in all her previous works, there were all those authentic connections made even more real with each moment one party had with another. There’s her link to her “partner.” (And no, it’s not Neal.) There’s that link she has with her family- each member remarkable one way or another- as well.  But mostly, it’s that connection she had with Neal~ where they came from and where they were now… and mostly, whether “love” as her sister asked it sufficed.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the EasyOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

That Jo is aware and not just of herself, but of the people around her and the circumstances as well as expectations she has and others have, is but one positive. That the place and the time come clear across is another. That Out of the Easy is not a one-track story of down-on-her luck girl trying to get out of where she’d started is yet another of its many selling points.

What we have is a very easy to like teenage girl who knows who she is, where she comes from, but does not flounder because of it. There’s honesty to her portrayal. Things aren’t all roses, true. She acknowledges the same, but isn’t limited by it as she works through and does what she has to and the same time keeps herself to what could be. Her juggling things as she does gets even more interesting with a mysterious death that pulls her in.

It’s that last complication that allow for the place and the time to become even easier to imagine. In getting to answers she’s not sure she wants, she comes up against certain characters, and those plus the people she works with as well as those already in her neighborhood make for a colorfully vivid image of New Orleans in the 50’s.

Yet more interesting: with each answer obtained, we have more and more instances of her doubting, questioning, wondering what the effects all these truths had on her and hers. So no, it’s not just Jo; it’s her and her family – the one she’s been born into and the one of her making.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Live (Burnside, #1) by Mary Ann Rivers

Live (Burnside, #1)Live by Mary Ann Rivers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LIVE includes a before and after; there’s how his before could be their after. Given both, what we have are two leads perfect in how real they’re laid bare. Every single aspect of this- him, her, and then them; as well as the people that surround them and the place (then places) they find themselves in- all of it are so perfectly drawn and made possible as a result.

HIM and HER. As said, his before, their after… or the possibility of that that has them being cautious then later not cautious at all. It’s a different story as what they are is never a simple one plus then two; there’s tremendous placed on weighing what is, what could be, as well as who they are; there’s thoughtful consideration on what they need versus what they want.

A BEGINNING. There’s simplicity to the start as River’s sets the two of them up on mutual attraction, but does not stop there; because it’s their slow getting to know the other that charges things further. It’s a newness that’s shadowed though by their pasts. So that this easy new thing that’s lovely, is not always that because of what they know and what they’ve learned: she and her family, has her pegged “the responsible one’; him and his past, has him more cautious about wanting-needing-sacrificing.

EVENTUALLY though it’s them working around those same things to see more in themselves  --- maybe first in the other and later in their own person.  Because the IN-BETWEEN? It’s that which has them exploring possibilities -- and me, swooning over their choice of words even their descriptions of event and action. There’s a quite quality to goings-on; the way they open to each other, allowing themselves a glimpse of each other’s past + character.

It’s all slow and soft but all that’s mixed together with their passion as they explore both the physical alongside the emotional. And all that, again, has me swooning as one look, touch, word between the two, about the other, for the other, allows so much to expressed, like those on Here and There and not being where you ought be; on Wanting and Needing; on  Smiles against kisses. Kisses against grins.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Half Bad (Half Life, #1) by Sally Green

Half Bad (Half Life, #1)Half Bad by Sally  Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We go from the first to the unusual second then back and forth and back again, later settling on the first. It’s  from this that we get a clear understanding of what he’s feeling and what he’s doing… eventually.

'Interesting' and 'different' are what first come to mind as I finished this, but also that it’s brutal. Not just in that jarring realization that it’s him in a cage, but everything else that follows from there, including the abuse he suffers and the perception others hold and the choice his faced with. There’s a softer side too, a not so obvious soft aspect in the longing he has, the relationships his built and loyalty he possesses… though there’s really not that much soft in that last aspect.

What I liked:

It’s brutal, vividly so, but it’s more too with Nathan- authentic as a guy; not alpha nor beta, not a “character,” but one who’s believable in who he is and what he’s going through.

What I didn’t:

Unexplained moments, conveniently placed help-mates... essentially more than one inexplicable that permits him to get from point A to B to C and so on.

I liked HALF BAD... mostly.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (Pseudonym), Abby McDonald

Dangerous GirlsDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dangerous Girls is a messy then messed up combination of self-entitled teens in a media circus drummed up by courtroom drama with its attending (re)interpretation of facts. Here we go from he said-she said of what might/could have happened to what she recalls. The depiction of who she is as well who the victim was diverges greatly from their recollections of who they were and what they did/ did not do. Not once do these two sides meet, so that it’s on us to piece things together. Because where one sees something as one thing, the rest see it as something else entirely. Between the two, one is never quite sure about what take as truth.

At first, DG is on girls and friendship: they’re complicated; it’s complicated.  Then DG’s on boys and girls: that combination is complicated as well. Later it’s on truth and presentations to that effect; yes, complicated, too. We have a simple enough start with new girl - new school scenario.  Said new girl is made slightly more interesting with family baggage and her dealing with the same in the face of her new-girl drama of mean girls, popular boys, and absent parents. But all that’s merely part of the  whole here, as the story is told with shifts from memories on all that brought in contrast to the media mess surrounding them as they sort through the aftermath of something unspeakable. But the question is: did it happen like she says it did… or not at all? If not, then what?

You may think one thing and have it confirmed time then time again; so that there’s a feeling of certainty, only events prove not quite as assumed. And it’s this aspect that had me pulling back. The work up toward the ending; the ending, really had me asking: was that really necessary?

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3) by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Ruin and Rising both character and plot are equally compelling. Thank goodness for the same. There’s few moments of the Darkling- Alina- Mal conundrum here since it’s already clear what the roles each have so that things become more than her as Saint, or Mal as friend then (reluctant) lover, or even Darkling as the one to overcome. What they all do is reveal sides unexpected (or maybe expected, as I have been conflicted over whom to root for since Day One.)

Because while Mal had me giddy over declarations and actions of a certain nature, it was still Darkling who had me considering possibilities. As did Alina, with her little moments of ‘who am I then who are you’ as well as the identity versus the distance she felt existed between her and certain key others. In fact, for a good chunk of this book, it is Alina alone then Mal alone then Darkling too; few instances is it really any of them together; it’s in that separation, that the unexpected unfold.

Things begin with Alina isolated and struggling to access her abilities. It’s in her isolation that things clear up regarding where loyalties are. But more, there’s clarity added to what she has to. And things really do fall to her, that she’s surrounded with so many does not take away from that. Yet, it’s also in being surrounded that the truth of purpose as well as history is revealed. And I tell you…. all those twists, all those reveals! Agh!  Thus, events begin then progress at a break neck pace: her alone, then them together and then her, then them, considering the next step, only to have more people joining in on the fray, and only for more revelations to be made.

In the midst of all that are secondary characters who add to the complication; yet they’re necessary complications that made for an even more compelling read. They each had a role, they all had a contribution- some more than others- but all of them propelled the reader forward. The people she’d chosen or the people who had chosen her make it clear the story really is more than her. Nikolai and Genya in particular stood out for me for that reason. In the two of them we have someone’s history connecting with someone else’s; in them, we have someone’s purpose coinciding with another’s. There’s connection here. And I loved that. In fact, it’s those connections, those reveals as well as those multiple swoon-moments that have me impressed. All aspects of the story are dealt with, not much is left untouched… whether it be who Darkling could be, or who Alina was to become, or even Mal, or hell, the rest of them; everything then everyone takes part in this conclusion. 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5) by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not going to lie- the minute I skimmed over Cole’s name in the blurb, was the minute I clicked that glowing TBR button on GR; long have I been a fan of Cole then Isabel (but really, mostly Cole). SINNER has them both fully fleshed out, flaws and all… and they are both nothing if not flawed.

There’s this internal struggle for the two. For him, there’s that push-pull-pull between being his old self, performing and loving the same versus being more than that- the guy he’d learned to become in Mercy Falls. So, there’s this sad bit that could have gone poor little rich boy for him, except not really. It’s in performing for the crowd that he truly came alive; it’s not him as hapless something or other. No, not at all as the Cole here is totally aware of the game as well as the role he was to have in it. As a consequence, we have is him reveling in it. It’s this same thing that made things more complicated. Was he really more than just what he’d put on display? And if the answer is initially clear to him, the more time spent in LA, the more emotional hurdles cropped up for him to deal with (or not deal with as was sometimes the case), the less clear everything turned out to be. 

Then turn to Isabel, for her things are a bit more muted, but no less emotional. For her change abounds the same leaving her unsure as to how to go about things. First, that a shift in what’s become of her family; and then that shift in what to expect from Cole. While you’d think perception would play a big role in his end of the story, it seemed, to me at least, to play just as big a part in how things were unfolding for her… and if possible in an even more complicated manner. For her there’s Perception based on expectation, as well as Perception based on history and what’s familiar. The way she deals with things is… not at all. And that above all is what made her real for me. Yes, she’s the pretty sad girl, but she’s also the scary one, then the funny one, then the mean one. She’s more than the Isabel from Mercy.

This is more than just a werewolf in LA (though it starts that way.) What we have a guy standing in front of a girl asking…. Oh, Wait. What we have is both the guy and the girl seeing possibility in who they both could be as individuals then together but more importantly we why that is.

Thank you, NG!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2) by Sherry Thomas

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2)The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the Burning Sky we had Titus certain in the role he was to play paired up with Iloanthe who was still figuring out just what hers was. In this sequel, we have two come together again, but given certain developments, it’s the two shaken about who they were to become and why. Issues of fate and inevitability as well as interpretation are what shake them up, and so there’s uncertainty that extends beyond who they were for their world and their future to the more personal level of who they were for each other. There were some swoony moments because of this.

But more than uncertainty, there were a number of New things that had me speeding through. Foremost, a new pair suddenly introduced, who they were and why they were was a question that had to be answered. And though I had some inkling as to the answers, I was never quite certain. Suffice to say, their addition confused me, but also allowed something more of the “I think I know, but I’m just not sure” excitement. And it’s not just on account of this new but oh-so-familiar pair that got me excited, so many thing I thought were turned their heads. So many things I’d assumed, were not quite it either. I enjoyed that uncertainty. Nothing is nailed down here, each page, each chapter was open…

This same thing is both strength and weakness… too many new things after all, can get old after awhile. That said Perilous Sea has a whole lot of ‘You think you know, but think again’ going for it.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just One Night (Just One Day, #2.5) by Gayle Forman

Just One Night (Just One Day, #2.5)Just One Night by Gayle Forman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books One and Two allow us more than a love story. Both pave the way for clarity in who they were both becoming- as to who they both were as individuals, and then who they both could become for each other.  Both books: Romantic, slow, and yes, all about the swoon, but not just. Because of both are about the journeys they both embark: her and her One Day, with him as her guide; and then him and his Year after that.

I loved Book One because of the possibilities opened to her; I loved Book Two because of the links to who he was and that time and again juxtaposed to who they could become; specifically a past found in the examples set by Yael and Bram and then the “who they could become…” Them.

But this One Night of theirs, is a sweet exclamation to all of the above, as it is an elaboration on the blurry bits for both. And I loved it for that reason: as within is a confirmation as to their truth: that he loves her; she is more to him than any other girl come before; that she loves him, he is more to her than just the First Guy/ the One who could have gotten away.

I have much love for this one.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

PointePointe by Brandy Colbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

POINTE. Every single dark thing a young adult novel could be about is in this one. It’s a wonder it all pulled through in the end. The character is not one to love but feel for. And feel for her...and him, we do. All the dark aside, there's how she is a product of what she fails to acknowledge; then there's how  it takes an outsider- one who who is unknown to her history- to call things as they are... While the first establishes her as being broken, it's the second that adds even more emphasis to the the fact that she's too broken even to realize it herself.

Notable are the almost casual additionsof sex, coarse language, and drugs... Not one of it is innocuous, each thing allowed to happen just further establishes that they're not just 'good' kids or 'bad' for that matter... a lot of them here have a good side and a bad side and a dark one. The non one-dimensionality of all of them had them reading more plausible; none of them are just jocks, just brains, or just drama queens, but are each all that... and more. Even more interesting: how non-clique they came off as. Pointe sheds off expectations of things like those; instead offers up a picture of The Flawed.

Except given the plethora of issues thrown in, I felt like Pointe was almost trying too hard; After School Special on steroids with rape, kidnapping, abuse, drugs, body-image issues, relationships, manipulation, expectation, and weven ambition to contend with... Well, there's a lot that a reader is made to contend with, yes? Yes.

The blurb hooks one in with the mention of an abduction then a return; but without setting the gravity of that aside this one comes to focus on who she is and why as well as how everything she's gone through has shaped her. This becomes most obvious though not immediately apparet in the romantic aspect- because first there's who she chooses but more importantly 'why.' In particular, 'why' she allows things to progress as they do. There's a sad realization given that unsaid connection between who she was and who she was with as it related to (and even mirrors) her present.

This was dark… then darker with each thing revealed.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Stray by Elissa Sussman

StrayStray by Elissa Sussman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish I loved this. But mostly it's was me waiting and waiting and then waiting some more for the story to move beyond all the hating on what certain women could do plus a lot of asking why that was the case. There are glimpses into men and what they could do, as well as a hazy history of four sisters and interpretations of what they've come to, and in line with that- how their society is arranged:

Royals with power on one hand, the women in it bestowed with the same, only to be limited by so many from so many different angles (guided from the front,  warned from behind.) But it is the who is doing what that should have been fascinating but ended up frustrating because not much is made clear!

Sure there are interesting additions in taking the fairy god mother role and twisting it into something: less. There's even the predictable bits of benevolent father coupled with Man as Wisened man-guide (nothing new there), but frustrating nonetheless because ... Why? and How?! Basically, I'm left with lots of questions like Who is this Josetta? And what of this Talia? Etcetra.  Worse: the Aspects that were made clear--- felt unimportant. Like Brigid and her merry brigade of Do-gooders (of unclear allegiance and motivation.
I take it back! Nothing important or unimportant is actually made clear. Although... I must confess, the whole pain as release was an interesting angle... Too bad that got covered in this mess of paths and strays, peopled with more than one mean girl, more than one heartless  a man, and -dear lord!- more than one cold woman; all of whose presenece, it felt was made to keep the MC down; that is unless she wasn't busy baking! I didn't get this at all.

That said, much thanks E!

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Swap by Megan Shull

The SwapThe Swap by Megan Shull

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My main objection to Swap is the simplicity of most everything in it. A young girl, a young boy, and both their desire to be anything else but themselves.

But here's the thing: young does not have to mean simple, particularly in the manner that the good, bad, desirable, as well as the undesirable all line up. Sadly, all that happens here.

One thing that marked this different- how the romantic angle was worked in. All those other books I have read have conditioned me to anticipate the presence a love interest, that the same be pivotal one way or another... such is not the case here. Early moments had me assuming things would go a particular way. They didn't and that I appreciated... that bit on how there's some unexpected in Swap at least.

Much thanks, Edelweiss!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Feral by Holly Schindler

FeralFeral by Holly Schindler

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Feral. I wanted to like this, but found my experience with it largely boring. Little of what was supposed to be suspenseful managed to hit the mark.

At first, there are two parts to this story, amd as often  as the female MC alludes to it- it's how we have her 'before' and 'after' but mire importantly, how the first has left an indelible mark on the second. Later there's the addition of what makes this supposedly suspenseful (more like confusing, really) in how our MC's current life crosses with the life of another (or end of the same).

Then the presence of a maybe haunting, body-possession of the feline kind, and people with each their own agenda. It could have been so much, and I wish I was interested enough to keep track of every little thing that differentiated one character from the other; but the plain fact is- this bored me. And even when things were finally coming to fruition, well, I was still bored!

But thank you, E!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2) by Tammara Webber

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2)Breakable by Tammara Webber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

   It's been a long, LONG time me, reading a book  in one sitting (and yes, a two week stint of stop-starting-not finishing books is a long time.)

I have got to hand it to Webber- she's accomplished a couple of unexpecteds in this sequel (companion novel?) First, that she's got me considering NA once again. Second, she's served up a sequel I found worlds better than the first. Then third, (and primarily,) that this trend of retelling the same story from a different POV doesn't always have to be redundant or isn't just a matter of rehashing a sex scene (hot as they may have been) from the guy's point of view!

Because ---and yay! --- We have depth! We have back story! Hell, We have a whole new story from Landon/Lucas that's not just about the romance built up between him and his Jacqueline with the bulk of this on his past as it touched on more than just his heartbreak--- what we have here is the Unmaking he goes through because of said heatbreak.

I enjoyed this more for the story of who he was and how all that led up to his present and the oddness of his duplicity. This is an 'as told by' that works... because the author works with what worked in the first book, but did not get stuck there; endeavoring instead to add some depth to the narrator by making him stand out in this not just because he was 'Easy' to fall for in the first (and let's be clear: he really wasn't)... Clearly, he's so much more than that. 

Loved this!)

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wildlife by Fiona Wood

WildlifeWildlife by Fiona Wood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved all the contrasts made between Strangers and Friends. Of Best friends and Maybe friends. Then the choices on who they were versus those on what they could be. Then options against perception. On belief in self versus contentment in the same. One of them in her comfort zone and then later the same exploring other ones. So, there’s what makes them “them” versus the paths that lead elsewhere. So, Changes (changes. CHANGES!) on one hand, and then Grief (Grief. GRIEF!) on the other. But mostly, it’s them being not-so great then wait a beat and it’s them being just that; it’s the ordinary feel they all bring to each their stories that I loved.

So, flashback to what I loved in SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS: a lot about Dan and Jane and definitely a little bit because Fred and then forward to WILDLIFE- less the sweet and happy in the possibilities from the first, and more with the real and the really SAD. In other word: emotion.

Enter, LOU and Syb.

Lou is the object of much affection from me. Her moving her way through all the things she’s feeling and SIMULTANEOUSLY being the observer sets her apart.  It’s the last that allows for two things to happen: we know her but we also see what she sees. And it’s In knowing her that we feel for her (and frankly, already five percent, I was already teary over all the things she was saying and more importantly- not saying.)

With each moment of her feeling what she was, it’s made clear things are not easy for her (for any of them really.). There’s no easy fix for her because the good doesn’t come in a snap. It’s in working through that, that we get to KNOW her. On the other hand, there’s Lou as observer:  we see what she does. It’s in this that a more complete picture of how the others could be is made. There’s a stripped down and more accurate version of Syb offered up as a consequence. She’s less the good girl going with the flow, because flaws are made obvious in this one; flaws not limited to the Mean Girls present in this one either.

And Speak of flaws: we have Syb. I love that she’s different: aware of who she was and how she could be “better” but not bothering to move toward the same because knowing who she was that there’s this lack of drama from her (for the most part.) Or more apt: there’s drama but not much of her being dragged down by the same. I just love that.  In the face of all things going on- she could be regular kid, not needing to be the best thing or the greatest thing; happy to have things unfold as they were. Yet, it’s in not-acting , this always reactive stance she has that makes her even more real for me.

It’s a love story. It’s a love between me and this book, rather than one between any one of the characters. Because I loved this. And I loved them. 

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Firebug by Lish McBride

FirebugFirebug by Lish McBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, Lish McBride, you make me happy. Like in Necromancer, you've come up with yet another motley crew of the definitely snarky, sometimes cute, and often funny that find themselves embroiled in some dark, dangerous, supernatural goings-on.

That they are all such nice guys is just a bonus- nice because where one pays special attention to potential collateral damage, another is a hodge podge mix of leather jacket clad nature boy... slightly eco-footprint without being preachy about it, and the other? The other is sly and hot and aware and UNAPOLOGETIC about none of those things. Thus, it's a toss up to determine just who I enjoyed most- Ezra, for his cocky asshole ways, or Lock for all those smooth moments balanced out by the not-so smooth ones, or Ava- all resigned over the way things are but plodding on and being snarky nonetheless! Or perhaps, them together is what made each of them shine. (Yup, I'm going with the last one.)

But more than the nice they're each capable of, there's the funnier WISE GUY bit they had going for them. They're not the good-guys by typical standards: muscle, assassin, and thief, each crack made by one or the other painted a clear picture of them as a team- one aware of what the other is capable of or what the other's about to do. And funny because of it. There's genuine camaraderie present plus the knowledge of one another that makes for interesting dynamics; because there's them in a sort of comfort zone (mindful of pigeonholes versus possibilities,) but hellbent on not shaking things up. But with the shaking up being inevitable... Gah! all that pressure, all that tension Gah! me thinking back to the Lock and Ava moments has me wanting to reread this... and I just finished it too!

Now that Clique-y group friend thing aside, the dark aspect in this was equally engaging. There's that dark underbelly mafia feel, with more than one crazy present. I liked it even as I am now left with a want to know more. In other words, there's more of Ava and Lock an Ez to come, right?! Right? (Tell me I'm not wishing for the impossible here, people!)

Thank you, NG!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to YouEverything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything Leads to You starts with this modern noir feel of bestfriends on the trail left behind by a silver screen icon, then shifts into something even more quiet, as the mystery of a letter and its contents, are pushed aside and become more about this new person and the draw she has for Emi. So, a love story... eventually, but not just.

More- it's all of them on the cusp of this new thing: acting-talking-and taking on their more grown up roles, but punctuated with moments of them, being not-quite the adults they picture themselves becoming. They swing back and forth and back from trying to be grown-up TO not-quite managing it. It's this particular aspect of the book that I enjoyed most. Because they all act so adult, sophisticated, and in the know, when really, they're not any of those things... yet. 

Emi and Charlotte- reveal an interesting contrast, too.  Both 18 and raring to get their adult lives started, but both so young too. It's the second that's most obvious: in their talk of fantasy-reality and the fall of one versus build up of the other. The very concept that not all is evident BUT can be made so, felt so young to me. Them pointing that out at all- felt like such young thing. But,  if first there's wonder and possibility and appreciation for both; later there's the other side of them finding what's previously wonderful/fantastic become not just that, the more familiar they become with it.

It's a theme that's repeated here- Emi as a designer and her work in movies; Charlotte and her ability to line things up- both make the  more obvious example. Movies as magic versus little tricks and tips and what not. Yet, Emi still holds true despite... despite the learning; she stills sees possibilities. So right there a contrast: she's young but not young; an adult-in-the-making.

Another bit of stripping down is of Ava and Jamal pointing out how Emi's and Charlotte's own reality is part fantasy... especially when contrasted against J's and A's own; as theirs is  neither as possibility filled or optimistic as E's and C's.

And later- and last- where Ava is concerned; as seen in the eyes of Emi, there's a movie being made around her (another thing that establishes just how young the MC really is in this one is); because for Emi, she's all these almost childish scenarios of epic love story and a host of other what if's, but it is Ava who's the object of all those what if's. Yet, the moment that ceased and once, more 'stripping down' was done, there's a lot of seeing things for what they were and appreciating things-people- more for the same. This has more than one Fantasy collapse- time and time again; and it's that for all of them that allows the Real-and the better- to come into focus.

They've all cast themselves in some role that they want or think they should have, but once they set those aside, I enjoyed them all more. But there were flaws in this nonetheless- like the too perfect way Emi is- she's just too 'great!' in too many aspects but if objectively seen is not really all that. Her tendency to romanticize things was especially difficult to get over- her and her dream job and what she could/would do; her and her object of admiration/affection/lust/maybe-love had me wondering over her ability to frame things and see things in a certain (unreal?) light. Neither did I appreciate the too simple oppositions: on one side Emi,  happy and on the other Ava, not happy at all.  It's too easy, the lines made... too simple the differences, pointed out.

Still, I enjoyed this for them and that they're all on the edge of something; with most of them taking on adult roles, but still holding on to a sense of innocence... shedding that last slowly with each fantasy that's collapsed.

thank you, e!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1) by Chelsea Cain

One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1)One Kick by Chelsea Cain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One Kick is my first read from Cain; and if her Heart books are anything close to this, then picture me excited.

The two leads in this are not so stellar: We know everything about Kick- but it is that she's a survivor who'se come up with ways of coping that mark her even more different, more remarkable. Contrast her to Bishop, and the scales are not balanced ever; as there's too much mystery around him, liking or disliking him is impossible. I didn't know anything about him!

That said, what they've tasked themselves to do was exciting then terrifying. (Also, I cried--- for the obvious reason: bad things happening to good people but worse to good animals!)  In the end, One Kick is a mixed bag for me. Mostly, I enjoyed the excitement all her in-knowledge permitted: the various secret passage ways and that purposefully hidden culture... I wish more of this was explored even knowing that this was where the ugly lay. Because already, what they'd managed to uncover got terrifying and then ugly. But it's the HOW it's all managed that got a touch too MacGyver; otherwise, this was a good start to a series I am definitely going to continue.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2) by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2)Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting. How roles have shifted and personalities changed. The girl has not completely shaken off the tendency to want what she doesn't have. In book one, she was stuck in Citizen Cane, unsure how to keep things going; but in book two, we're still allowed glimpses of that; but more than her keeping the household going- here, it's her wondering over how to keep the new version of herself ( that version that River had awoken) going. So she's still fanciful, but there's more emphasis given to the idea that if anyone was going to see things through, it'd be her.

Yet, the magical here is too easily accepted; in fact, things take place too easily.  Hear a mysterious radio program says so and so is happening? Well, guess where we're headed! Stumble upon mentions of fiery red hair sighted? Guess where we're going next! For such a smart lead in the first, here that same attribute felt little exercised--- she was just following a too conveniently laid out trail. (It's the one thing that I found out of place.)

Fortunately, other aspects of the book made up for that. First, that shift previously mentioned- in how she could be. Second, the added bonus given the complication of Neely. It's surprising really... how he picks up where River left off because the ensuing confliction created in her over them--- it was not as annoying a 'love triangle' (if you can call them that) that it could have been. Mainly because there's introspection and actual consideration on her part about not just who they each were, but who they each were for the other. It's that she questioned, wavers, then gets back to it... but at least she questioned.

Thank you, E!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1) by Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are two kinds of scary in this one- there's the second and more obvious bit that combines terrifying visuals of clowns, left-over hand prints, and entities like Thin Man, Frost and other 'Immortals'; but there's the first kind, predicated on being alone and being judged. It's with the latter as starting ground, that we have a girl who's been broken, only to find herself handed an unexpected opportunity--- revenge, (that's apparently best served after the mother of all makeovers at the hands of the Uber Hot man/boy of her dreams.) So, I loved some aspects of this, liked some others, and was meh over one specific thing.

I loved the imagery and how what's terrifyingly familiar has been used in this one. Lot's of the scares here feel like they'd been culled from my nightmares- that a Pennywise-like figure makes an appearance; that thing with a glass surface with the disappearing hand prints; those scary out of place (time) looking folk- who, for some reason, had me thinking of fields of corn *shudder*. And believe you me, there's more.

Less enamored was I, with the push-pull-push going on between the two leads; don't get me wrong, I love the fact that she doubted and questioned the attraction, but there's that issue of things being 'inevitabale,' as in "Obviously, we know how this is going to turn out."

Thankfully, other aspects made up for it: the Game, in particular. While it's not completely laid out in terms of the what, who, how or why; the bits that have been revealed make it clear- this is more than gussied up smart girl getting her revenge; There's so much possibility here.

thank you, eb!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

NogginNoggin by John Corey Whaley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With musings of ''You can find ways to be okay with dying, but you can't fake your way through living.' finding themselves intertwined with 16 year old boy humor, Noggin is a touching mix of the funny (in a cringe-please-don't-do-what-i-think-you're-up- to) and the deep. It's the second that should not have come as a surprise (considering this comes from the same author who brought us 'Where Things Come Back') Yet, set that last aside and there is unexpected depth---emphazised by Travis and the 'he's such a boy' feel he starts his story with. And while he is funny, all the humor (and there's plenty) doesn't quite disguise the truth:  there's more here, to him and then them than initially thought.

Dying, dead, and now back, Noggin has Travis as Rip Van Winkle only half a decade in; it's a period that's long enough to have things be different, only not quite for him especially, but not exclusively:

Because there are contrasts made between of what he knew AND what he's learning; between how he was with them VERSUS how they all are without him that kept tugging at me. It's the incongruence of it all for him (then for them) about what he recalls and how things are that allow for that mix of cringeworthy kid-move as seen through people who knew him BUT NOT vice versa, because he is stuck while they've moved on. He wants things a certain way and can't get things-people- to line up; yet in attempting to get things done, we see: that that incongruence between what's-wanted and what-is is not his alone; there too are more than a couple of 'What now's?' for those around him.

Yet the reverse is true and most moving as well- that while he's viewed as this kid who's come back while they have grown- either by growing up, growing apart, and growing 'smarter', there's even a more felt truth in him finally pointing out that he is just a kid despite the year and despite the rest of them having grown up-apart-smarter.   

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Inland by Kat Rosenfield

InlandInland by Kat Rosenfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  In books, in songs, in stories love is a floating thing.

A falling thing. A flying thing. A good bye to all your little earthbound worries, as you soar heart-first toward a pink sky and your dangling feet forget to feel the ground.

Only I know, now: it isn’t like that at all.

Love is a sense of place. It’s effortless, no stumbling, no stammering,. It’s your own voice, quite but strong, and the sense that you can open your mouth, speak your mind, and never feel afraid.

A known quantity, a perfect fit.

It’s the thing that holds you tight to earth, fast and solid and sure. You feel it, and feel that it’s right and true, and you know exactly where you are:


Moody and quiet and thoughtful, Inland is not a happy story told; there’s a general sense of longing on all their parts with varying basis. Callie Morgan longs for something as yet unnamed; her father longs for what isn’t anymore- his perfect wife and their happy family. Nessa knows what she cannot have and sees the futility in the same, instead works with what she’s dealt with, makes do and almost (but not quite) flourishes.

The writing is beautifully written, and is told by a girl -whose perspective had me doubting a host of things- who initiates things with her experiences of being alone as well as being lonely; and then weaves with those first more memories of a mother- recollections that are cloaked, like everything else in this the story is cloaked - in the unsure; second, the novelty and uncertainty of her present.

Her mother is a memory and she doubts what she remembers. It’s an uncertainty that extends to almost everything here. The new things she’s allowed and how she’s not quite ready to claim any of it- pointing out how “unreal” all the “normal” was for her. All of it is couched in a sense that there are things that are deserved but there’s also a whole lot more that aren’t. It’s her and a general sense of, “Mine. But why?” And later, “until when?”

Thank you, Penguin FtR!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1) by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There's a sequel, right? right?!

Lara Jean confused me- on one hand, there's a sweetness to her that felt genuine; on the other, there were all those other moments of her being clueless, almost too clueless. It's a split that warranted a closer look on my part. And ta da! reading this was sweet then not so sweet and then back again.

She reads young. Sometimes too young. Na├»ve, at best, then TSTL, at worst, she is Middle Child, who makes it’s clear that she’s no Margo – take charge, but neither is she the baby - sweet and all. Then with one out of the picture, the story partially becomes them coming into new roles and learning a new system; specifically, that Margo’s way isn’t necessarily her own. There’s a lot of insecurity because of this, and it’s in that that the True comes out. Because I could picture it: her muddling through things along with the rest of them.

So, what’s my favorite thing about this book? ROLES. Roles they all take on first because of circumstance then because they've all grown used to it. Margo, Lara Jean and then Kitty- first one is in charge, last one adds the sweetness, and the middle set on observing; it's when all those things change that we witness how they are each capable of more- as well as less.

The okay aspect: obviously, all the boys she'd loved before, and why each moment of her with them clarifies why it is in fact BEFORE and not STILL.

This was a cute read… and made even more sweet with all the family stuff going on for her.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Star Thief (Star Thief Chronicles, #1) by Jamie Grey

The Star Thief (Star Thief Chronicles, #1)The Star Thief by Jamie Grey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s nothing that blows my mind in this one; but neither was there anything that merited a 2 or 1. Overall, it’s an OK read. With a lead in Renna who is kick ass in owning herself and what she’s capable of and using what’s handy to get things done. In fact, it’s that she consistently gets out of whatever mess that’s present without much effort, so often in occurrence that I became less and less interested in her… because for the most part she’s kick ass. End off.  Plus the matter of all the romantic interests (plural) who are all too easily swayed by her feminine wiles. On the one hand: Yay! for owning that aspect of yourself; on the other… is that all it would take to distract so and so? So, sharp contrast  is made between her and the rest of them: her-  kick ass  - where the rest of them - a little too simply depicted for me.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #3) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #3)Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won - some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it - but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies. Food, weapons, happiness


They belonged to each other to hold.

Holy mother of words! This was beautiful. More than what Akiva and Karou have gone through, there’s a whole group of supporting characters that contribute to me loving this series even more than I did when I first started it. There are threads of emotion that link one to another then another then another; but better, there are individual stories, too.

Let’s work our way in (oh, and how do I do this without giving anything away?) Book One had it clear: she’s on one side and he, the other. Book Two complicates things further, by delving into what that divide meant for the two of them. (cue: hearts breaking, the book world over.) Book Three allows a peek into the specifics of both their worlds; and what continuing in that way meant. So things change. And behold! Me, loving these books even more.

It’s not like there’s anything new to this set up because strip it down and it’s clear we have read stories like these before – star crossed loves and all that; great best friends, too. But it’s Taylor’s choice of words that render the story of Akiva and Karou, Zuz and Mik, Misbegotten and Beast an   experience

I was feeling everything she wanted me to. The conflict and doubt they each experienced had me wanting to sit them down for a talking to; those instances of fun that inevitably came with Zuzana in tow or even those sweet ones between her and Violin Boy, while out of place given all the tense things they’re all faced, brought it home, they all definitely have a part in the story told.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Catch a Falling StarCatch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, now. Catch a Falling Star has surprising depth considering the super star falling for small town girl formula it works around. It’s so much more than that! Mainly, there is an awareness of position on the part of both the main characters. For the girl, there is a kind of level headedness that’s different given the less than positive effect it’s got- the same is holding her back from wondering. And I enjoyed it for that difference, as well as for the unexpectedness in depth.

She is aware of what she wants, what she could have, and what’s expected. Yet, in being thus, she limits herself. It’s the rest who play a part in her becoming more receptive to the idea of “more.” So, sure, we start with a Hollywood type, yet there’s surprising depth despite (and that later because of that) because it is not just about the building up of a “them.” Rather, focus is given to who she is and who she could become.

Then factor in the male lead: he was everything she expected him to be, but surpasses some things too; it’s in those other moments- of him, not as the Star, that made this a touch been there and done that, but it’s the unapologetic manner he’s finally presented pulled my appreciation for this up a notch

Thank you, E!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Still Life with Strings by L.H. Cosway

Still Life with StringsStill Life with Strings by L.H. Cosway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read Still Life with Strings twice because I enjoyed it so much; it may not be as different as her Painted Faces, but something in it worked for me. I enjoyed her and him and how we meet them both in their respective “after’s.”

The big things that have happened to either has them living their life a certain way; that they meet at that time, makes their connection even more (I could say “too” romantic except I really did enjoy this one) because there’s no saving here; they’re both past that, and as said, living in each their what-after’s.

Them looking back has less to do with them being stuck in the past; it’s more of the two marked by it, so clearly neither of them led easy lives;  the decisions she’s made on how to live and why is something else altogether as time and again it pressed on what they could become… were becoming. Him, and his history though less felt, was still present. He is, in fact, just as marked (fragile?) as she.

Eventually the connections made and eventually revealed set their story apart even more. Known to one but not the other, how deep and how unexpected their connection is adds to the romance of things.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Red at Night by Katie McGarry

Red at NightRed at Night by Katie McGarry

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I believed the leads in this one, particularly her changing views on what’s expected and what’s realistic. Weighing the safe route versus ambitious as she was is based on being knocked back time and again and the same having left an effect on her- a sad reality but a true one.

So, yes, I was buying that aspect of the story.  Now him and who he was: shifting from not caring to caring too much is another thing completely. Because there’s this whole side kick jock back story that paints him unfavorably; but that they do come into each other’s lives at the point that they do, when his lost his footing and her a direction has them making sense together for me.

It is Katie McGarry novel, so yes, there is Drama. But in this one, there’s a move to go beyond him as rich boy and her as poor girl and yada yada yada (though if you want that kind of read, just look up her older stuff.)  Anyway, thank the Gods, in making RED AT NIGHT less about that and more about their (particularly, her) changing views and what’s to be done about the same, I found myself liking this more and more.      

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Monday, April 7, 2014

The Nature of Cruelty by L.H. Cosway

The Nature of CrueltyThe Nature of Cruelty by L.H. Cosway

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Nature of Cruelty is NA’s take on a boy’s pulling a girl’s pigtails because he likes her- except with more drama. Despite that last thing, this was not a bad read; mainly given female lead aware of who she is, what she wants, and more importantly, what she doesn’t want. Contrast all the moments with her to the flashbacks of why the male lead was the way he was- that he allowed things to progress as they did, I still wonder at, but this is less about him and more about her anyway.

It’s interesting: how mostly she’s this strong lead: new to so many things but not cowed by the same; continuing just that way, I can see the attraction he held for her. Now the reverse is still unclear to me. Why him? The guy in this one is a grade-A douche: past and present; no prize, he is; but let’s set that aside and focus on the girl and how his interaction with her has shaped some of what she wants and doesn’t want, needs and doesn’t need. Or the fact that they’ve shaped each other in a way:  his behavior toward her has readied for more of the same while she’s opened him to the idea that not all things are negative. Yes, there are all those moments of woman on pedestal for him; yet it’s his contrary nature that has him acting as he does… which was in turns interesting then confusing. Bonus points on how there really only one big eye-roll moment here: MC’s and their speeches always crack me up.

Not bad.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1) by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)Dorothy Must Die by Danielle  Paige

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Woah. This was bloodier than expected; though why not when the title calls for Dorothy’s death? It’s a total about face from what we know of Oz and the characters in it. My favorite bit is Dorothy as lush, Tin Man head over heels for her, Cowardly Lion not cowardly but bloodthirsty and what not, and Scarecrow as something else altogether. Good is Wicked and Wicked is Good. Or were they, because if it’s not one person then it’s another insisting no one, least of all themselves, were to be trusted.

The more interesting bit is how there is a separate story here. Strip away all the trappings of what make this a re-imagination, and we have Amy, a girl who living a life so far from perfect; there is no Auntie Em in her life. Down and out and all that’s depressing, yet she’s still spunky. Is she another Dorothy? The parallels are there as she points out- Kansas, tornado and pet of a certain variety, but no… she isn’t. There’s a “real” way to how things are seen from her point of view… all is not good, something she does not blind herself from. But there’s also the more positive aspect: of her doing something about … stuff.

It’s a fun read. Yes, even with the requisite love interest present. I say so because they each have a role to play; as in the love interest is more than the love interest. At times, it’s that same thing that conflicts with what needs doing. Even better, there’s saving done but not by those expected.

This was bloodier than I thought it was going to be; but fun all the same.


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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bad for You (Sea Breeze, #7) by Abbi Glines

Bad for You (Sea Breeze, #7)Bad for You by Abbi Glines

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Since I had read all six books prior, I felt like I HAD TO read this seventh installment. that said i can't really wish my time back because I KNEW what I was getting into.

The title offers the first clue as to how things were going to proceed. While that should suffice, I have to throw out there how this felt like a step back for the series. The first book was all kinds of terrible (there's the poor girl girl on pedestal type to the rock star rich boy alpha type; lot's of weeping from the first, then lots of growling from the second.) And from that first book, the rest slowly (very, very slowly) progressed got a little more original. "A little" I say because each installment had a variation on the same theme but with growth of the incremental sort. sure, Breeze 2 had poor girl-rich boy combo and the the rest did sort of follow suit, but at least each book , (I felt) some my issues on alpha type plus the so-the-drama girl combo were being addressed. Because at least I thought with each girl, a little more depth was added; at least with each guy, there were hints of him being not just the Alpha-growly type ("hints" I say because they each were that too.)

In this one: we revert to Book 1. Yes, it comes with a couple of Dear Me's,  from the too-perfect but girl who just doesn't see the same... all of which having him act mine mine mine over her. Ach. Gag me.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Honor's Knight (Paradox, #2) by Rachel Bach

Honor's Knight (Paradox, #2)Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


While there's twice as much kick ass, there's also a little more on the romance; it's the second that has me questioning: is this a good thing? Does all the lurv take away from what makes her a great lead and this story an engaging one? Honestly? I hesitate to say... it does a little. For in that moment of declarations made, apologies exchanged, and truths revealed, my eyes did roll... but only then; otherwise, this was mostly good.

So, to the good (of which there's plenty.) It's finally made clear the roles they each possess. Who's good? Who's bad? And what being either entailed. If nothing and no one was straight cut just good or just bad in Fortune's Pawn, that's not the case here. Like I said, she finally sees them all as they are. However, it's what she does about what she knows that proves just how kick ass she could be:  See Devi dive off stuff, avoid death then cause time and time again.  Also, see Devi lay things out as she faced off with whomever. (It's to this end that we witness how even when backed into a corner, she'd still have something cooking- even if it was just her taking as many of them down with her..) 'Twas all very never give up of her.

On the progression of events- things went from awesome to awesome to the not-so awesome then back again; it's in the slump here where love declarations and heart felt what-it's came out. When all along, I was waiting for someone's scales to pop through, or someone's armour to malfunction; basically me waiting on the dying or near-dying moments. And in the mean time, the way things pan out in the love department have it clear: I was wrong; he is no Barrons (even though I wish he were.)

Set that aside, lot's of things do take place, plenty enough that us missing out on a Barrons type is made acceptable. Aliens, more aliens, murder, mind reading, crazy queen then crazier king-types abound. So that if One was interesting, then this was crazy.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fortune's Pawn (Paradox, #1) by Rachel Bach

Fortune's Pawn (Paradox, #1)Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fortune's Pawn: three parts kick ass  and one part swoon.

The prospect of a new series to love has got me all excited because what's there to love? The very kickass/ballsy Devi? The mysterious dude figure who's unknown factors had  me thinking Barrons? (Yes! I have indeed invoked the name of Barrons!) Or even the world...  it's a sci fi read with adventure up the whazoo; and all of it's been so cleverly laid out that each reveal, each piece anf player had me wanting just a little bit more.

Devi knows her mind, what she can do, what she wants, and what she doesn't want. Her ambition lands her on a 'cursed' ship, manned by a bird-thing, a lizard-thing, pretty woman, the happy family, and a cook. All is not as it seems because if it's not one thing then there's another that had her spidey senses all a-tingle.

I enjoyed her; not once did she sit back and wait for things to happen; she'd stir things up, poke her nose where it didn't belong... and was ever-ready for the ripples that were bound to follow. She's no trouble maker exacty, but simply aware of things and people and rules around her... it's that awareness that lead her into the most interesting of situations.

The rest of them: they are all cloaked in mystery. Some of them I had pegged; in no way were they just what they claimed to be... and with each reveal made, there I'd be all excited again. Questions on who's the captain, what's he up to? Or who's the cook? Or who THEY all were really! Then come to find out- there are no simple labels here; what she'd come to expect as well as what she knew, didn't apply to The Captain and his Fool or his people as the trader wasn't just a trader, neither was the cook just a cook, and for that matter, neither was the kid! So, that enemies become maybe-enemies; and allies weren't just that. It's all murky here--- and with her the new girl, clearing it up was, let's just, say: interesting.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts

Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2)Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've read most (perhaps, all) of Roberts' trilogies (though my GR shelves fail to indicate the same) and it's been my experience that where the first couple usually have the sad tragic past (woman on the run, or woman to discover self, or some variation of the same;) and where the final couple have even more a tragic romantic history, it's usually the second pair that offer up most of the laughs given a scenario of friends turning into something more or the two seeing what's so obvious to all else.     

This set up worked when I read Three Sister's, Ardmore, Chesapeak, Born In, Key of, and most recently those Wedding books. In reading all those, it has never failed that I'd fall in love the most with the middle couple (I have reread Ardmore's Shane how many times now? and James in Chesapeake... I swoon a little each time I recall him and the girl he grew up with. Swooning right now, in fact.)

Yet it's not the case here: it's slow going; slower than I've come to expect from NR! There's a lot of back story; Her past trilogies kept the back story just that; but here backdrop became more and more integral to the events that were unfolding. It's heavy on the paranormal which I do not have a problem with - at least not normally. Only here, NR going back time again to where it all started would pull me back from the enjoyment of why I was reading this--- where's the chemistry? where's the connection? where's the pairing off that would make me
laugh then sigh? All that's given eventually, but in the meantime we have all the 'We are Three; Witches are We' that's a throwback to TV's Charmed. And just like that series, it was cute and fascinating at first, but the longer it went the more I felt like saying, 'Way to beat a dead horse.. deader, folks!'

I wanted to love this. (I truly wanted to love this!) Because it's normally the middle couple with the lighthearted (not so serious at first but much more serious later) pair that have me loving them as individuals as well as cheering for them becoming a 'them.' Except here. And there were moments for sure... but moments don't make up for a whole lot of nothing really going on.

That said, I am much excited for Book Three. All those glimpses into their past make Fin and Branna a much more believable pair. Because at least with them there's a starting point; which brings me to my biggest issue: Connor and Meara coming together felt like a foregone conclusion yet neither was aware of the fact. It's like spares pairing up in romantic comedies which is all well and good for the side kicks, but Meara and Connor aren't the sidekicks in this one!  

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Nantucket Red (Nantucket, #2) by Leila Howland

Nantucket Red (Nantucket, #2)Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

a three point five (maybe even a four) (i cannot decide!)

Well, now... for a while there I thought this sequel wasn't going to hit the same high notes that the first did. I was wrong, it only took one or two chapters before I got into the flow of things to  recall why I was so engrossed by the first book as much as I was.

For those expecting happily-ever-after's in this, this isn't exactly just that. Recall the frustration felt over a friendship unraveling; then, recall the giddy feel  over Cricket and Zach, and the shifting in their paths: from him as that one other familiar thing tied to her past, to him being her something else. I gnashed my teeth for her over the first, then sighed (and sighed some more) over the second.

Yet, this sequel one is more than Cricket falling in love or even her clinging to memories of 'when it was good' as she had in Blue; Red has her opening herself to more than one hard truth: that what's good doesn't always stay so; that what's bad can shift and even be set aside; and that what she needs doesn't necessarily aline with what she wants (or vice versa). But more it's her outgrowing certain high school fancies and drama's and just growing up with it becoming clearer to her that things (the good or the bad, as well as what she wants and what she needs) aren't set in stone.

There's growing here -and I loved that- not just by her, as they ALL allow things and issues to shift around- either allowing something else/new to happen or getting back some what used to be. It's to this end that I'm torn: this sequel starts with an ending of sorts; it's this ending that opens multiple possibilities to her- her, questioning the authenticity of what she and Zach had; her and another and that tentative reconnection (that wasn't exactly a reconnection); her and her goals and setting after the same; the culmination of all said with her then her ending up in roughly the same spot she'd found herself  at the beginning of Blue, only here she's more bruised by certain developments yet still tentatively open to other things. 

Which brings me back to where I'm torn--- despite all the sad and sadder going on for her, things went on. Sad is not the end of the world for her... because along with the said, came the new: EXCEPT there's this too perfect way things unfold. The depressing is eventually (always) balanced out by some new thing, some new development that has Cricket proving time and again that she is a good girl, (here, prone to mistakes,) but a good girl nonetheless. It's not supposed to be a negative but I kept coming back to how too perfect, too 'right' it felt.

Now set aside my nitpicking, and I will say: I enjoyed this story. Mainly because she grows up- they all do. And it's them experiencing first hand, that their roles are not set; that things and people can and do shift about... and it's in that aspect where there's truth.

Thank you, NG!      

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Played (Hooked, #2) by Liz Fichera

Played (Hooked, #2)Played by Liz Fichera

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hmph…. Played was… cute? I just looked over what I had to say regarding Hooked; and lo, no surprises here, but this sequel has me feeling roughly the same way. UNDERWHELMED. Sam is the good kid who just takes and takes and takes the crap that’s unloaded on him; in other words, the male version of Fred. Thank the gods, that Ryan’s little sister isn’t a copy of her brother. She tries to do the right thing but finds herself time again doing the wrong thing; in a word: MISGUIDED.

Then take some convoluted plotting later and we have a romance. The same is cute and sweet, but before it got there: the both of them took turns trying my patience and being a pain in my ass, what with their respective issues: He is still the guy the girl didn’t choose; she is the little sister feeling overlooked. Boo. Friggin. Hoo.

That said, a couple of funnies in this one worked for me, including but not limited to: some kid and a failed Botox experiment; them each pushing the others’ buttons, rescue(s) failed or otherwise,  plus brushes with death, physical injury, assault, and arrest (though not necessarily in that order). Things got crazy and funny because of it! (except I don’t think that’s the effect PLAYED was going for.)

Like I said, cute... but underwhelming.
Thank you, NG! 

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava LavenderThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’ is a title most apt. This is more than the winged girl- the story extends to everyone and everything that contributes to her making and yes, that covers their sorrow, as well. It’s sweet then not sweet, terrifying and then terrifyingly real. It’ll also make you cry. It did me.

Her odd family portrait begins with who her grandmother is and why she is that way. It’s a past filled with labels of the pretty one, smart one, then quiet one, then later the strange one;. After an escape of sorts to a new world, we have heart break after heart break after heart break. Then it’s her mother’s story- one that was not sweet, but could have been. A lot of the wanting and not getting becomes clearer here for all of them (Jack, Viviane, Gabe… and much later Ava and Henry.) Finally we have Ava and her own sorrow, one built up first on Emilienne’s and then later upon Viviane’s.

So beyond the girl, we have family. How one story touches on the other; where the latter elaborates on the ‘what could have been’s’ of the first. There’s an echoing of the sentiment from one generation to the next:  that feeling of being limited by circumstance coupled with that need or want for something else (more.) Things broaden in  scope, beyond their common experience t include all other’s they touch on: the community comes to play a bigger role in the goings on. A murmur here, an expectation there… even the moments of fear and lust and even love… on who’s feeling it, but more importantly, why. Take Jack and John and how without them Viviane wouldn’t be as she was and consequently neither would Ava. Or Emilienne’s with her bread and all that opened to them.

This is more than just the girl. I loved it.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man GuyOne Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The blurb says “funny and heartfelt.”  Was I reading a different story? Because this felt too simple too short; there’s very little the lead has to figure out here. And if there was anything to be dealt with, it’s done easily enough.

To start we have Alek, very critical of the way his family is; in much the same way he felt them treating him. So… it’s a young story and he, a young lead. The same is never more obvious in how he sees his parents; and how he feels himself treated by them and his “too perfect” older brother. Essentially, there’s skewed perspective on all their parts; that over critical tendency that he complained of in his parents; well, he could be the very same. There’s a lot of “It’s not fair-ing” all around.

As to the romance, this is no Sedaris book (and I don’t care what the blurb says). There’s a lack of depth here - given the almost too simple resolution on his questions of “what if” and then later of “what now.” He is a blank slate when it comes to everything it seems; yet he draws Ethan in nonetheless because there’s a “Rightness” to how he could be. He’s molded and allowed to learn but a lot of that was superficial (which was fun and cute) but … again: depth, where’d you go?

Past that though and we see as more than the kid learning about himself and where he was going; because there were one or two teachable moments of Alek acting like the stand up guy he obviously  was.

So, this was not as funny or heartfelt as I was expecting especially, with moments that felt forced, contrived even. Then there were those more rare moments that were genuinely funny. I just wish this had more of… everything it promised.

Still, thank you, net galley!

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