As those of you who follow my GoodReads account know, I've been reading a lot lately. However, I haven't been taking the time to review because I've been gathering my thoughts about each book. Anyway, expect a lot of reviews to come your way this week. Have a great weekend!
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Play with fire, pay the price.
Leila’s years on the carnie circuit were certainly an education. What she didn’t learn: how to be a vampire, or how to be married to the most famous vampire of them all. Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, and now the real danger is about to begin…
Vlad must battle with a centuries-old enemy whose reach stretches across continents and whose strength equals his own. It isn’t like Vlad to feel fear, but he does…for Leila, because his enemy knows she is Vlad’s greatest weakness. As friend and foe alike align against him—and his overprotectiveness drives Leila away—Vlad’s love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both…
My thoughts on the book:
Bound by Flames, in my opinion, is the best book that Jeaniene Frost has ever written. I absolutely adore all of her novels, but this one really stands out. It is difficult to read in places (graphic torture), but it has heart, grit, and suspense. I couldn't put this one down. I'm a huge fan of the Night Huntress Series, and Vlad has always been one of my favorite "spin-off" characters, but this book goes above and beyond any expectations I had for him and his series. Well done, Ms. Frost. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.
The character growth in this novel is astounding and extremely organic. Vlad really grows as a man, vampire, and husband in this installment. He proves he loves Leila by actually listening to her (sometimes). Leila, for her part, is coming into her own as a woman, vampire, and wife. She is learning how to deal with Vlad's overbearing ways and how to work things out through compromise. I really had tons of respect for both of them in this book. Some of the secondary characters really grow and/or show who they really are as well, and there are some very touching moments.
Like all of Frost's novels, the pacing is pretty quick, and the plot is suspenseful, and full of action and romance with a touch of comedy. Some of the plot twists really surprised me, and I loved the cameo by Cat and Fabian. This novel had to be difficult to write with the torture scenes, and Frost shows that she doesn't shy away from challenges. She paints the torture scenes as vividly as the romance scenes, and that impressed me. While some of it is a little stomach churning to read (being skinned alive, for instance), Frost's ability to not back down while writing these scenes is deserving of respect. The Epilogue delivers some much-needed lightheartedness, and it's clear from the direction of this book that the series is winding down naturally (the next installment will be the last, unfortunately). While I can't wait to see what Frost comes up with for Leila and Vlad in the 4th book, I dread the end of this series. I've come to enjoy it just as much, if not more than, Cat's and Bones' books.
Overall, I'd recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good vampire novel that pokes some fun at the old Dracula myths. Frost is a fun and talented writer, and if you haven't read anything by her yet, you're definitely missing out.
Order Bound by Flames
Thursday, March 12, 2015
I have a plan.
We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.
Either way, only one of us is walking away.
In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice "Ali" Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers…until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters…and the worst has only begun.
As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies…and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing—and turning—Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima—even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.
My thoughts on the book:
The Queen of Zombie Hearts is by far the best book in the White Rabbit Chronicles trilogy. I enjoyed all three books, but this one kept me hooked from page one. Showalter does not disappoint, and this book is equal parts romance, action, and emotion. Action packed and full of adventure, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the very last.
The cast of characters is amazing in this final installment. Ali has been a terrific and strong character since the first book, but she learns to embrace her emotions and herself more in this installment. She really grows as a character, and she makes some serious sacrifices. Ali is a great narrator and her perspective is fun to read from. Cole is as swoon-worthy as ever, and he also grows into a much more impressive character. I really like how he's willing to fight for Ali, no matter what. Nana is also a bright spot with her teen slang, and of course the phrase "douche-purse" made a few appearances, which added some humor to some serious and/or steamy situations. Kat is charming as usual, and the new characters that are introduced in this book are also well-developed and personable.
The plot is fast-paced and has more twists and turns that a rollercoaster. Some of the surprises I saw coming, but a lot of the things that happened actually shocked me. Showalter's writing is top-notch, and the world-building is well done. The romance between Ali and Cole is sweet with just the right amount of heat, and the friendships between characters is touching. I will admit that I cried toward the ending, and even though some parts are sad, I like that things aren't perfect for everyone. I hate convenient endings because life isn't always convenient or pretty. Things are complicated and messy, and the last chapters of this book really reflect that.
Overall, I'd recommend this book and series for people who are looking for something that is different from the normal zombie and/or teen paranormal romance fare. This trilogy has heart and a kick ass leading female, fantastic writing, and a captivating world. What more could a person ask for?
Order The Queen of Zombie Hearts
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Release Date: 3/10/15
Bad girls burn hot…
Red is the color of Kia Alcott's hair.
It's her temper, which blazes hot and always gets Kia into way too much trouble.
And it's the color of fire. Fires that Kia can start…just by thinking about them.
When her latest “episode” gets her kicked out of school, Kia is shipped off to her grandmother, who works for the wealthy Blackwoods. It's an estate shrouded in secrets, surrounded by rules, and presided over by a family that is far from normal…including the gorgeous and insolent Ethan Blackwood.
Ethan knows far more about the dangers of the forest surrounding the estate than Kia can ever imagine. For this forest has teeth, and Ethan is charged with protecting the outside world from its vicious mysteries.
But inside, even the most vibrant shade of red doesn't stand a chance against the dark secrets of the Blackwood family…
My thoughts on the book:
I'm a pretty big fan of Alyxandra Harvey's work. I generally enjoy everything she writes, and this novel was no exception. However, a lot of things just didn't make sense to the point that I could achieve a willing suspension of disbelief. The characters, for the most part were too extreme in their actions, and those actions often vacillated between love and hate with no warning. The world-building was also lacking a bit because things just didn't seem to fit. I've come to have relatively high expectations from Harvey, and this novel just didn't meet them.
Kia was okay, but I kept forgetting her name (maybe because she's named after a car?). She didn't really stand out. She' was just your typical angsty teenager with authority and parental issues. Yeah, she could start fires, but not nearly enough was done with that. Ethan was also very typical. I mean yeah, he had secrets, but he was still just blah. He didn't intrigue me at all. Everyone else was as you'd imagine them. No surprises with the characters. I could have told you exactly what would happen with each character at the beginning of the book.
The mythological characters that existed were there for some thrill factor. Nothing was done with the mythology of these creatures. It wasn't mentioned at all. One creature had its origins mentioned, but no mythology to go with it. That really bothered me. The stories of these creatures would have been much better than just following along with distorted folk tale imaginings of them and throwing them all in one place. They were there for a shock factor, but nothing was shocking about it. I wish that Harvey had actually done some research on these creatures. It would have added a dose of much-needed reality. In addition to the weak world-building, all of the surprises weren't really surprises at all. I had them all figured out before I hit the 50% mark. The writing itself was good, and the book was enjoyable in a light, doesn't-make-you-think sort of way. However, this story could have been so much more.
I'd say if you're looking for a light, quick, read, then give this book a try. If you want something with some depth, then pass this one up. It's enjoyable enough, and it's cute, sure. It just isn't something that will stick with you.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Release Date: In stores now!
A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems.
Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.
Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?
Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.
Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.
Read the first two chapters here!
My thoughts on the book:
It is very rare that I read a book that sweeps me away into its world and touches my very soul with its story. Strange Sweet Song is one of those rare books. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. Reminiscent of a modern-day Bronte sister, Rule's writing is almost poetic in its beauty. The contemporary Gothic world she created is described in lush detail, and the reader can't help but immerse himself or herself in the lyrical prose.
The characters in this novel are both modern and classic. They have an air about them that most contemporary people don't have, and I think that Dunhammond being set in the middle of nowhere, with technology having to be abandoned due to no internet access or cell phone reception, really helped the gothic feel of this novel. Instead of playing on computers and texting their friends, the characters had to find other ways to entertain themselves. The addition of classical music made this a beautifully haunting Gothic tale.
Sing, whose name I'm not a fan of, is a complex leading character. She is weak at times, and her voice reflects her inner turmoil. It takes her a long time to find her voice and a long time to find herself. In a large way, this story is Sing's coming of age tale. Furthermore, Sing's name has a deeper meaning. She wears it like a command, and feels that she has no choice but to sing how and when people want her to. The depth of her name choice is reminiscent to the great Gothic writers' ability to add layers of meaning to every word they wrote. The other characters each stand on their own as well, and while some are typical (Ryan and Lori, for instance), others are intriguing (Nathan). The mixture of typical and unique character gives the story a sense of reality that many books lack. Even The Felix and Tamino stand out. I, personally, adore Tamino.
Romance takes a backseat in this book, but it is present. The novel really illustrates the different types of love that one person can have. Love for music, love for nature, love for parents, love for oneself, and love for significant others all compete in this book. One of the main questions Strange Sweet Song raises is can one person have everything? Is anyone allowed to have all of their loves, or must everyone sacrifice at least one love for the sake of the others? I think the answer to this problem ends up being a bit ambiguous, and the reader is left to decide for himself or herself.
My favorite thing about Strange Sweet Song is that it makes you think without being too heavy. The story itself is enjoyable, but there are so many questions and deeper meanings woven into the fabric of this tale that one can't help but question his or her own reality while reading this novel. Because of that, along with the lovely prose, wonderful characterization, and captivating world, I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a bit of a change. This is one book that will definitely get you out of any reading slump you're in.
Order Strange Sweet Song
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Welcome to my tour stop for Death Marked by Leah Cypress, the riveting conclusion to the Death Sworn duology. This tour was organized by Rock Star Book Tours, and you can view the other stops by checking out the tour schedule at the end of this post!
Now, onto the book!
Title: DEATH MARKED
Author: Leah Cypess
Pub. Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.
At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.
Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.
This book was very emotional, and I almost had a soundtrack playing in my head while I read the novel. The song that I think sums up the book entirely is "How Strong Do You Think I Am" by Alexz Johnson because Ileni keeps having trial after trial from people she's supposed to be able to trust and love. If you haven't heard the song, check it out!
About the author:
I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I sold my first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins).
I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our three children.
Now onto the giveaway!
1 Grand Prize pack signed copies of all 4 of Leah’s books (Mistwood, Nightspell, Death Sworn, and Death Marked), plus signed SWAG! US Only.
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