Sunday, January 25, 2015

A WICKED THING by Rhiannon Thomas

Rating: F
Release Date: 2/24/14
Synopsis:
Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.


My thoughts on the book:
A Wicked Thing is definitely my biggest disappointment of the year, so far. The characters were boring. The plot was boring. The writing was okay, but it was also dull. This was such a great concept, and I usually love fairy tale retellings, but I could not bring myself to care about the characters at all. It was pretty torturous to finish this novel, but I did it. I'm a trooper. The ending also wasn't that good. 

I really didn't like Aurora. She bored me so much. She just blandly moved through her life, not taking matters into her own hands at all. She was way too passive for a leading female. Rodric or whatever was also dull, and his family was boring and terrible. Tristan, who tried to have a personality, still managed to be super boring and lackluster. I just really could not relate to a single character. It was pretty terrible. 

The plot was also boring and pretty uneventful. Yea stuff happened, but nothing was really exciting. About 50% through the book, it got a little more interesting, but I still couldn't invest myself in the outcome. The ending was, you guessed it, boring. The descriptions were good, and the writing was okay. Otherwise, this book just was not good.  I know some people enjoyed this novel, but it bored me to tears.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Blogger Talk #1: Pet Peeves

Since I don't have as many books to review nowadays (work and being a grown-up really gets in the way of fun, haha), I'm going to start a weekly segment called Blogger Talk. Feel free to participate in this and post your links in the comments. If we get enough bloggers participating, then I will start a Linky for it. To kick things off, I'm going to talk about the things that really bug me as a book blogger. I hope you guys let me know the things that bug you, too, in the comments. I'd like to get a dialogue going with these. I want to talk to you all more than I get to. :)

Publishers not informing reviewers that a book is part of a series
One of the things that bugs me the most as a book reviewer is when publishers put books on NetGalley and Edelweiss without telling us that the book is part of a series... and that the book uploaded is #2, 3, 4, etc., in the series. When I click on a book to review, I don't want to have to read 7 books beforehand just to review it, especially when the review is due very soon. I just don't have the bandwidth to take on such a task. I have deadlines that I'm working around with these books, as all book bloggers do, and I wish that publishers would be more cognizant of that. Also, sometimes when they don't tell you that the book is part of a series, and it's not clear on GoodReads either, you end up reading the book and it makes no sense because all of the explanations happened in the first installment. Well, then the book is going to get an awful review, which isn't good either. For situations like this, I just don't even try to review the books anymore. More often than not, I write a note in the review box on NetGalley or Edelweiss to let the publisher know that I won't be reviewing the novel since it's part of a series and no one thought to tell the reviewers this. It hasn't seemed to make a difference because the publishers still do the same thing, but at least I don't feel like I'm the one dropping the ball.

Random people who use your comment space to write their own reviews
Whenever this happens to me, I mark the comment as spam. I mean, wtf? Get your own blog and work hard to maintain it if you want to review things. Don't take up my space. Yes, that might make me sound bratty and selfish, but I've worked my butt off to build and maintain this blog. It's my space, and while I like to hear what other reviewers thought, I don't want someone trying to steal my thunder with a 12 paragraph long review. It's bad manners. Period.

1-2 Chapter teasers on NetGalley and Edelweiss
If I wanted to read a sample or teaser, then I'd have one sent to my Kindle. To me, NetGalley and Edelweiss are for books that are to be reviewed, not chapters that publishers want to taunt readers with. Then when we don't review the one chapter teaser, our review percentage drops, making it harder for us to get books to review, which makes our blogs less interesting and gives us less stuff to talk about. It's just a crappy deal all around, and NetGalley and Edelweiss shouldn't allow it, in my opinion.

Awful grammar in reviews/comments
Yes, I am a grammar nazi. I'll admit it. But in my opinion, if you're going to be critiquing someone else's writing, then the least you can do is write decently yourself. If you don't know the difference between then and than or you're and your, then chances are you also don't know what good writing is. Educate yourself before trying to pretend that you have an intelligent opinion on something. It'll make people take you more seriously.

That's all I can think of right now. What are some pet peeves that you have as a blogger? Do you think my pet peeves are ridiculous? I'd love to hear your ideas/opinions!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FRAGILE SPIRITS by Mary Lindsey

Rating: B
Synopsis:
Paul has always known he was a Protector, fated to serve a Speaker who could hear the voices of spirits lingering after death and help those souls find peace.

Vivienne ignores the voices of the dead.

Paul has always followed the Protector’s rule book, preparing diligently for the day when he’d be matched with his Speaker and fulfill his destiny.

Vivienne never does what she’s told.

So when Paul is matched with Vivienne, they both find the pairing less than satisfactory. But a kidnapping, a malevolent spirit and power stronger than both of them may just prove that they are two halves of the same whole.

In a stunning story about the beauty of fate and the power of secrets, Mary Lindsey returns to the world of Shattered Souls with a breathtaking thrill-ride of a novel.

**Note from author: This book begins one month after Shattered Souls leaves off. Lenzi and Alden are featured in this book, but reading Shattered Souls is not a prerequisite.


My thoughts on the book:
I loved Shattered Souls, so I was super excited to read Fragile Spirits. It did not disappoint. This novel stood on its own and lived up to my expectations. The characters evolved organically, the plot was intriguing, the pacing was spot on, the action and romance were realistic, and the ending tied things up wonderfully. Lindsey's writing was also top notch. This was a fantastic sequel. 

I really enjoyed reading about Paul and Vivienne. Viv was a great character, and she was extremely complex. Paul was also more complex than I would have thought. He surprised me (and Vivienne) quite a bit. I also really liked reading from his perspective, and I didn't think I would. I normally don't like reading books from a guy's perspective because I just can't relate. Sometimes it works for me, but more often than not, it doesn't. Both Paul and Viv grow throughout the course of the novel, and they complement each other well. I also enjoyed seeing more of Alden and Lenzi. I wasn't a fan of Race, and Cinda or whatever her name was seemed to be a plot device and filler character, but for the most part, I enjoyed the characterization of this book. 

The plot kept me interested, and I really liked the whole letting go of hate message in this story. I feel like so many of us, myself included, focus on the negative and the bad as a way to protect ourselves, just like Vivienne did. It can eat a person alive, if they let it. No one wants to turn into a living version of Smith. The pacing was also perfect. I was never bored, and I flew through the chapters. I really liked the ending, and the climax of the story was suspenseful. The ending tied things up nicely. It didn't sound like there would be another addition to this series, but if Lindsey does decide to write another book in this world, I'd love to read it. 

Overall, I really loved this book. It can be read as a standalone or as a sequel to Shattered Souls. I recommend reading both of them ASAP. They're unique and captivating. 

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES by Jeaniene Frost

Rating: B-
Synopsis:
In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate. 

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her. 

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…


My thoughts on the book:
The Beautiful Ashes is Jeaniene Frost's first endeavor into the world of angels and demons. It's also her first New Adult novel. While I wasn't as blown away by this effort as I was the Night Huntress Series when I first began it, I did enjoy the book. The pacing was pretty fast, the characters were well-developed, and the plot was intriguing enough to keep me interested. The story wasn't perfect, but I'll definitely be reading the sequel.

Ivy is likeable enough, though a bit less complicated than Cat, and Adrian is no Bones. I know I shouldn't compare the two sets of characters, since they are from two very different stories, but I can't help it. Also, Ivy is kind of immature. Sometimes she seemed to overreact about really stupid, childish things. And at other times she didn't react enough. I never felt her mourning for her family. She just kind of brushed that aside. Adrian was a bit too tormented and angsty for my tastes, but that's okay. He's still a relatively strong character, and I look forward to getting to know him some. The secondary characters were interesting, especially Costa.

Some of the characters' actions in the story seemed too convenient, like when they changed long-held beliefs almost instantly in the name of love, etc. However, for the most part, things flowed naturally. As previously stated, the pacing was spot-on. Nothing dragged. The romance tried to be steamy, but didn't quite make it. Again, the passion was nowhere near the level of Cat and Bones' lusty encounters. That being said, I'm hopeful that the next installment will bring more to the table, romance-wise. Frost is an excellent romance author as her Night Huntress series and its spin-offs illustrate, so I have faith that she can bring this lukewarm love some much needed heat. The ending tied things up from this novel nicely but set the stage for book two, which I am looking forward to.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of Frost's writing (she definitely has her trademark sense of humor in this novel) and people who love stories about angels and demons. I enjoyed the book, and I'm sure many of you will, too.

Order The Beautiful Ashes

Monday, January 5, 2015

TOXIC HEART by Theo Lawrence

Rating: B-
Synopsis:
A city in flames. A trust betrayed. A perfect love destroyed.

Has Aria lost Hunter, her one true love?

Ever since rebellion broke out in Mystic City, pitting the ruling elite against the magic-wielding mystics, Aria has barely seen her boyfriend. Not surprising, since Hunter is the leader of the mystic uprising, and he'll do whatever it takes to win freedom for his people—even if that means using Aria.

But Aria is no one's pawn. She believes she can bring the two warring sides together, save the city, and win back the Hunter she fell in love with.

Before she can play peacemaker, though, Aria will need to find the missing heart of a dead mystic. The heart gives untold powers to whoever possesses it, but finding it means seeking out a fierce enemy whose deepest desire is for Aria to be gone—forever.


My thoughts on the book:
Toxic Heart was a good follow-up to Mystic City, but the book wasn't without its flaws. The most glaring flaw, in my opinion, was no fault of the author's. There were copy-editing mistakes throughout the novel. I really hate when books have shoddy copy editors, especially when they come from major publishing houses. Also, some parts of the story just didn't flow. However, the characters were fantastic and evolved throughout the course of the novel. The plot itself was intriguing, and the writing was well-done. Even though this series and the Black City series are almost identical (I prefer this series), the story and characters stood out enough that I enjoyed the book and will continue the series. 

Aria was a really inspiring character in this novel. While she did pine away after Hunter some, she really spent most of her time and energy focusing on what needed to be done. Her thoughts, actions ,and feelings seemed realistic, and she really showed her strength several times in this book, especially in the third section. Aria grew into someone who I could root for. She carved out her own space in this messed up world that Lawrence created. Hunter turned into a giant jerk, and I wasn't his biggest fan. He went a little crazy, and then acted surprised when people didn't support his ridiculous ideas. Kyle, Aria's brother, turned into a worthy and terrible foe by the end of this novel. I feel like he's more of a threat than his parents are. Turk really won me over. I absolutely adored him. I can't wait to see what happens with him next. The new characters were all intriguing in their own way. While Shannon got on my nerves, I really loved Ryah. I can't wait to get to know these new additions better. 

The plot itself was pretty strong, though the story didn't flow perfectly. Some parts were choppy and just didn't fit right. Also, Lawrence introduced a love triangle, and I absolutely hate love triangles. However, Aria already made a decision, and her decision was different from what most YA heroines would choose, so I did like that. We'll see what she does next. The pacing was pretty spot on. Nothing really dragged for me. Some things felt rushed, and some of the decisions the characters made were a bit dumb, to say the least. I'll be interested to see the repercussions of those decisions in the next installment. The ending tied things up nicely and finished this novel on a strong note and gave a huge hint as to what the third book would cover. I'm looking forward to seeing what Aria does next. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to anyone who loves Dystopians. As previously mentioned, this series doesn't really stand out. It's very similar to the Black City series, but I enjoy the characters and writing more in this series. Either way, Aria is a stronger female lead than most YA novels have, and that alone sets this series apart. If you like Dystopian novels, give this series a try. 

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

WHEN by Victoria Laurie

Rating: A
Release Date: 1/13/14
Synopsis:
Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not thehow, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?


My thoughts on the book:
When I read the synopsis for this book, I thought, "huh. This sounds unique. I think I'll give it a try." I had no idea that the book would be as amazing as it is. When is unique, mysterious, suspenseful, and beautiful. It's a book that's full of heart. The characters are amazing and well-developed; the novel deals with a lot of real issues, and the concept of being able to see death dates on someone's forehead is extremely original. This is definitely one of the must-reads of 2015. 

Maddie is a terrific narrator. She has a voice that makes you trust her right away. Her gift seems more like a curse to me, honestly, but she is strong and deals with it very well, I think. It's easy to see why Maddie's gift gets her in trouble with the FBI when kids start getting murdered, but I felt so badly for her and her best friend, Stubby, too. All she wants to do is help keep people alive, and instead, she gets herself in trouble by telling people what she sees. Stubby is an interesting character, and I really enjoyed how he complements Maddie's personality. He really lightens up Maddie's mostly dark life. Maddie's uncle Donny is also fantastic. I really respect him. Her mom is a bit hard to like because of her addiction issue, but it is impossible not to feel bad for the woman. 

The plot is complex, and the mystery kept me guessing. There are a few red herrings thrown at us throughout the novel, and while I had thought about the possibility of the guilty party being who it turned out to be, I was still surprised, because the guilty person was on the bottom of my list of possible suspects. However, the big reveal makes sense, and the puzzle pieces fit well. Nothing in this story feels manipulated, thankfully, and I really love the ending. This is a standalone book, and the ending ties things up nicely. 

Overall, this book really stood out for me. I enjoyed everything about it. I really can't think of a single thing I didn't like. The plot is intriguing, and the pacing is spot on. The characters are realistic and enjoyable to read about. Give When a try. You won't be sorry. 

Pre-order When

Sunday, December 28, 2014

WILLOWGROVE by Kathleen Peacock

Rating: A-
Release Date: 1/6/14
Synopsis:
Willowgrove is Kathleen Peacock's riveting conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy, a dark, romantic, paranormal suspense series that pits friendship against survival, and trust against love.

Ever since Mac's best friend, Amy, was murdered, Hemlock has been a dangerous place. But now that Mac, her boyfriend, Kyle, and Amy's ex, Jason, have investigated a mass breakout from Thornhill, a werewolf "rehabilitation" camp, the danger has only grown. Fear of the infection spreading is now at an all-time high, and anyone with a scar is suspected of being a wolf.

What makes Mac even more afraid, though, are the dark experiments that the warden of Thornhill was performing on wolves in a secret asylum called Willowgrove. Uncovering the truth about what happened may be the only way for Mac to save everyone she loves and end her nightmares for good.


My thoughts on the book:
Willowgrove is an excellent conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy. Each of the characters evolved into terrific and interesting people. The story itself was full of action and adventure, with a side of romance. Relationships changed, betrayals happened, and none of the characters came out of this story unscathed. This book was full of many surprises, and Peacock's writing was captivating. I really enjoyed this entire trilogy.

Mac really shined in this novel. She became fiercely independent, but still caring. That's a hard balance to maintain, and Peacock handled it wonderfully. I really liked Mac as a narrator, and I was able to relate to her just enough to trust what she said. Kyle was a bit boring, in my opinion, in this novel, but I still liked him because he's such a good guy. Jason wasn't around much, but he really grew throughout the course of this book nonetheless. By the end, I could barely recognize him from the arrogant, selfish Jason that we first encountered in Hemlock. Serena also displayed a lot of strength. I really admired her. Amy's ghost/Mac's dream version of Amy also grew a lot, which was a nice surprise.

The story itself was fast-paced. One event after another happened that kept me turning the pages. Some truly awful things happened, and Peacock did an excellent job of showing what happens when hate, fear, and bigotry control a nation. It's important for us to remember that. This story definitely needed to be told. Aside from illustrating how horrific people can be when they're scared, this book did something that's almost unheard of in YA lit... it solved a love triangle without having a wishy-washy heroine or over-dramatic events happen to solve it for the heroine. Mac chose who she wanted on her own, and I loved that. I hate when authors take the easy way out of situations they created. I really loved the sci-fi spin on being a werewolf in this trilogy. That was unique. The fact that it was a disease instead of some paranormal manifestation changed a lot of things, and that was refreshing. The ending itself was conclusive, and I felt like that chapter of Mac's life had ended, but it was also open-ended. Mac hadn't made any definite plans for her future yet. Everything was still up in the air. I kind of liked that kind of ending. It left me with a feeling of hope for Mac and company.

Overall, I'd recommend this book and trilogy to anyone who wants a new spin to werewolf tales. This series is extremely entertaining and makes some really important points about society and how we can become better people. It's rare to find a book that can both entertain and make important statements. This is a definite must-read.

Pre-order Willowgrove