Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: The Lonesome Young

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Lucy Connors
Contemporary Young Adult
Releases from Razorbill on April 8th, 2014

From Goodreads:

Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.


And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.

This book checks several of the boxes on my list of criteria when looking for my next can't-live-another-minute-without-this read, and I really need to suddenly develop the ability to control time so I can jump forward into April and snatch this book up. Here are just a few of the things I'm excited about with The Lonesome Young:

1. Romance - Shocking that I would be pumped about a romance storyline, I know ;-)

2. Forbidden romance - This is even better than just plain old sexy romance. There's so much more tension when feuding families are involved!

3. A motorcycle-riding rebel hero - Um. Yes please. Can he wear a leather jacket? That would work for me.

4. A good girl/bad boy setup - Some of you will roll your eyes on this one since it's been done again and again, but I will pick up a book with this type of relationship every time. Don't judge me!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Goddess

Starcrossed #3
Josephine Angelini
Paranormal Young Adult
421 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count.

To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.

In Josephine Angelini’s compelling conclusion to the masterfully woven Starcrossed trilogy, a goddess must rise above it all to change a destiny that’s been written in the stars. With worlds built just as fast as they crumble, love and war collide in an all-out battle that will leave no question unanswered and no heart untouched.

The world of the Starcrossed books has always been a complicated one–the cyclical nature of Greek mythology combining with a complex series of feuds between various demigod houses to keep us always on our toes–and while it's been fairly easy in prior books to settle into the story despite the intricacy, in this rather epic conclusion we get a touch tangled in the threads. There's no doubt that Ms. Angelini does a beautiful job linking all the various pieces together, creating a web of intersecting strands that impresses and dazzles with its beautiful strength, but at the same time, the creation of the web is such an overwhelming undertaking given the large cast of characters and their counterparts in both in past and present lives that she loses us at times along the way.

Where the focus in previous installments has been largely on Helen, Lucas and their forbidden romance, Goddess sees an expansion of the story as a whole, introducing new characters and new pieces of old histories which, while fascinating to read about, keep us at more of a distance from the core group than we have been before. The beginning is particularly challenging, Helen's recovery from the events at the end of Dreamless putting her out of commission and therefore susceptible to a flood of memories from past lives as she lays unconscious. The flashbacks combined with the aforementioned extensive cast of characters causes us to falter a bit as we start out, trying to sort through our memories as we attempt to recall not only who all the characters are at present, but also who they have been in the past and how their various roles in the Trojan War relate to one another then and now.

Despite a rocky start and a stumble or two along the way as we try and unravel the impressively tied knots between the gods and the Scions, Goddess is an entertaining read, our desire to know just what the Fates have been attempting to orchestrate all along as strong as it has ever been. Ms. Angelini's attention to detail is also extraordinarily noteworthy, each of her characters vital to the story in their own right so that none feel as though they are secondary. Instead, they are all important players in an impossible game where the odds of success are low and the possibility of the vicious cycle perpetuated by the failure of those who came before them repeating once again is high. Though we might not feel quite as connected to Helen and Lucas as we have in past books, there's a sense of camaraderie in place in Goddess that also wasn't present before, linking each character together in a bond that seems to strengthen chapter to chapter and infusing the story with extra energy as they fight to be the directors of their play rather than the actors.

Overall, Goddess is a story that would likely benefit from a glossary in the back outlining the various houses, all the members belonging to each one, and the god from which they are descended (there may be one in the finished copy, I cannot attest to this, but there isn't one in the ARC), so we can have a cheat sheet to help us when our memories prove to be less than the steel trap Ms. Angelini's so obviously is. Questions are answered, loyalties are tested, and love is both lost and gained, leaving us emotionally wrung out but ultimately extremely satisfied with our final moments in this tragically dark and stunningly hopeful world.

Rating: 3.5-4/5 

(I'm giving a range because I love this series, but this last book tested my ability to sort through and catalog a great deal of information, and I'm not ashamed to admit I got lost more than a few times)

Find Josie

This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mini Reviews: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True + Transparent

Sarah Strohmeyer
Contemporary Young Adult
320 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is an extremely fun read; not "fun" in a more vague “I'm don't know what else to say about this book” kind of way, but rather in its fundamentally truest sense – a genuine joy to read from page one to three hundred. Brimming with humor, sweet summer romance, and a ridiculously over the top boss who still manages to charm us despite her utter absurdity, this story is the perfect read for anyone in the mood for something light but still completely engaging. Be prepared to set aside a couple uninterrupted hours when picking it up though, as once you enter the hilariously cutthroat world of the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, there's simply no going back until all its craziness is experienced.

Zoe is a wonderfully amusing protagonist, her initial awkwardness with the Queen as she attempts to acclimate to the bizarre whims of a woman with a monstrously inflated ego (and vocabulary) delighting us right off the bat. She handles the Queen (
who by all appearances is a type of fairytale Frankenstein, made up of all the strangest and most outlandish characteristics of villains and stepmothers everywhere) with ease, finding entertainment in the sheer ludicrousness of it all while also giving her job the same dedication and importance as she might any other that was accompanied by less silly drama. While some readers may wince at the mention of an over the top character, the Queen and all the other secondary fairytale characters who fill out the summer intern staff are never irritating in their exaggerations, instead they're a vital component in what makes this cute and heartwarming read so successful.

Rating: 4/5

Find Sarah:

• • • • • • • • • • 

Transparent #1
Natalie Whipple
Paranormal Young Adult
350 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Transparent is a lighting-quick read; one of those stories we tease ourselves with in the late evening hours, repeating again and again that we're going to read just one more chapter before bed but yet we prove ourselves to be liars each and every time. One of the most refreshing aspects of this tale of an invisible girl–aside from the engaging characters–is the world itself, where special gifts and unique abilities are commonplace and out in the open. As a result of this setup, Fiona, even with the extremity of her gift, is able to interact with others rather than being hidden away hoping for the moment when she'll find someone who can see her. We then have the pleasure of not only watching as the relationship she has with her family changes with their arrival in a new place, but also of delighting in the myriad of new friendships as they form, chasing away the cruelty and uncertainty of her former life and replacing it with kindness and stability.

Fiona is a fascinating young woman, someone truly invisible who has never seen more than a basic outline of her shape thanks to the assistance of clothes and accessories. Her gift combined with the emotional manipulation of her father has her constantly questioning the person she is, and we can't help but feel for her as she tries to find something solid about herself to latch onto. While her friendships with a group of gifted kids and a budding romance with one boy in particular don't change her invisibility, they do her one better by proving to her that though her expressions and mannerisms go unseen, her feelings are still visible and important. Overall, Transparent is a paranormal story that reads very much like a contemporary one, the characters facing very relatable problems in the middle of the more fantastical ones to keep us glued to the pages as they give Fiona the shape, form, and value she's never had before.

Rating: 4/5

Find Natalie:

These books were sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Super Six Sunday: Kick-Ass Heroines

Inspired by Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish, Super Six Sunday, a new feature from the fabulous ladies at Bewitched Bookworms, has different book-related topics each week and asks participants to address each topic in the form of a list of six. Obviously.

This week's topic is kick-ass heroines, and there's nothing I love more (aside from romance, of course) than a girl who can take care of herself and fight side by side with the best of them. Most of the women I've picked have a supernatural ability to aid them in their general badassery, but what I love about all of them is the fact that even without their various gifts or abilities, every one of these ladies would place herself smack dab in the middle of a fight regardless, ready to protect those she loves with whatever of herself it's necessary to give in order to do so. If you haven't yet met any of the women below, I can't recommend their stories enough!

The Elemental Assassin Series by Jennifer Estep • Adult Urban Fantasy
Spider's Bite •  Web of Lies • Venom •  Tangled ThreadsSpider's RevengeBy A ThreadWidow's WebDeadly Sting • Heart of Venom

I met Gin long before I started this blog, and while her cool calm as she wielded her knives and inflicted lethal damage as assassin The Spider was initially a bit of a challenge to see past in the first book, once I really settled into the series she quickly became a woman I couldn't help but adore. She's as selfless as they come (almost to a fault at times), always putting the physical safety and emotional happiness of everyone around her ahead of her own, thereby making her both someone you wouldn't want to meet on the street late at night and someone you can't help but want to hug.

The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning • Adult Urban Fantasy
Darkfever • Bloodfever • Faefever • Dreamfever • ShadowfeverIced
(Iced is technically book 6 in the Fever series, but it's the first that features Dani as a protagonist rather than a supporting character. I recommend starting with book one, Darkfever, though, as Iced contains major spoilers for books that come before it)

After my fangirl post a couple weeks back, I'm sure it's no surprise to most of you to see Dani's name on this list. Though she's only fourteen, Dani can quite literally run circles around anyone who tries to challenge her, including quite possibly the baddest supernatural alpha men in fiction, Barrons and Ryodan. Not only is she a force to be reckoned with, but she approaches the death she faces each and every day with a beautiful sense of humor, convinced if she's going to meet her end it's going to be with a smile on her face and laughter in the air.

The Razorland Series by Ann Aguirre • Post-Apocalyptic Young Adult
EnclaveOutpost • Horde

Deuce is the epitome of a fighter; as close to fearless as they come and completely capable of defending herself and others against the daily threat of the Freaks. She's also one of those young women who has no agenda and plays no games, her utter innocence and sweet naivete when it comes to her relationship with Fade making her a desirable combination of strength and vulnerability. I don't want to say too much more about her as I'll be gushing all over this series in a few weeks when I host Ann as part of the Authors Are Rockstars tour, but suffice to say Deuce is a personal favorite of mine.

The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter • Paranormal Young Adult
Alice in Zombieland • Through the Zombie Glass

I'm a huge Gena Showalter fan in general, and her books always have a wonderful blend of action, romantic tension and laugh-out-loud humor. Ali is a young woman who has suffered unimaginable loss, but she possesses a fierce determination and a will to survive that simply won't let her wallow in the pit of despair she quite frankly deserves. She's not always the strongest fighter, but she's eager to learn and she holds her own against the the snark, the disdain, and the overwhelmingly strong personalities of her fellow zombie hunters.

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo • Young Adult/Fantasy

I think most people who've read this series would agree that Alina personifies everything we might consider to be badass. She has an ability that shocks and scares her with its power, and in the blink of an eye she finds herself trying to navigate a completely different world from everything she's known previously. People fear her, fawn all over her, love her and hate her, but she gracefully bears every burden laid across her young shoulders, becoming more gorgeously regal and awe-inspiring as the series continues.

The Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson • Young Adult/Fantasy

Elisa and I got off to a rocky start. Book one, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, is split into three parts, and for nearly the entirety of the first part, I couldn't connect to Elisa at all. She's what could be described as pleasantly plump, and for the first third of book one she constantly bemoans her weight yet imbibes in all sorts of pastries and the like, and she hardly has any confidence as a result of her own negative self-image. As soon as part two hits however, Elisa starts to blossom, forced to toss aside all her weight issues and focus on surviving in a brutal world, and throughout the remainder of the series she continues to grow as both a woman and a leader until she's completely unrecognizable from the girl we first met. Like Ali above, she's not always the most skilled fighter in hand to hand combat, but her strength lies in her compassion and her decision-making, which more than compensate for any of her physical shortcomings in battle.

Those are just a handful of my favorite kick-ass heroines, who would top your list?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Guest Post: Laura Briggs + A Time of Once

I'm pleased today to welcome author Laura Briggs to the blog to tell us a little bit about her very unique approach to writing her new fantasy series. I'll leave it to Laura to explain, but suffice to say I'm really excited to see how this series will turn out, and given I'm a huge fan of all things fairytale related, I need it to be 2014 already so I can have the completed book in my hands!


This month has seen the debut of something a little different in my writing career. My co-author S.E. Steinbrenner and I are kickstarting a new fantasy series. And we want fans to help us write the first book before its 2014 debut. 

Titled A Time of Once, the series will mix the modern world with classic fairytales we all know and love. My co-author and I have released two special edition prequels via Smashwords and Amazon, with interactive ways for readers to offer feedback and help shape the series world.

Once: The Series Beginnings and A Time of Once: The Series Prequel each contain different scenes from the work-in-progress. These short volumes offer readers a glimpse of the series’ key characters and plotlines, while providing ways for them to share ideas and questions.

What the Time of Once Series is Like:

Previously, I’ve co-authored historical fantasy re-tellings, such as First Bite: The Wicked Queen’s Tale and its companion books in THE DARK WOODS series.

But A Time of Once will take place in a contemporary setting, where fairytale elements began to manifest as part of a curse. It’s basically a different twist on the gimmicks explored in hit TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time.

Small town USA will be caught up in the path of dark forces that are changing everything–and everyone–into something from the fairytale world. Heroes and villains will take their natural roles, and the good guys will face otherworldly obstacles in their quest to restore normalcy.

A quote from the series’ character known as the Storyteller pretty much sums it up:  “What's evil becomes evil. What's good becomes good. And what's in between, it gets caught up either way.”

How Readers Can Get Involved:

•     Visit the series webpage at:

Here, readers can view a photo gallery, character bios, and leave their suggestions, questions, and comments concerning the series so far.  More interactive features, such as a discussion forum, will be available soon.

•      Currently A Time of Once: The Series Prequel is available for 99 cents on Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list here.

•      Once: The Series Beginnings–which features completely different scenes–is currently free on Smashwords

The Smashwords volume will be available at other major retailers (B&N, Kobo, etc) within approximately three weeks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Something Strange and Deadly #2
Susan Dennard
Paranormal Young Adult
406 pages
Available now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and see haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up a few months after the events of Something Strange and Deadly, the title aptly suggesting we'll find life for Eleanor a bit darker than it was previously. Our hearts instantly go out to her as her loneliness wraps around our necks with all the comfort of a garrote wire, slowly biting into our skin as the weight of death, loss and guilt continues to press in. Ms. Dennard does a beautiful job of reminding us exactly what happened to Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters at the end of the last book, thankfully not leaving us floundering as we struggle to remember, but also not simply dropping a summary of book one in our laps either. Instead she easily integrates a few clues to spark our memories here and there in the opening chapters before whisking us away to begin the grittier second leg of Eleanor's journey with the Dead.

Eleanor is a changed young woman from the girl we met initially in book one, a bit beaten down by the rather horrific past few months and the lingering whispers and rumors she encounters on a daily basis as Philadelphia society thrives on her misfortune, but she never wallows or pities herself, always moving one foot in front of the other even if the direction those steps take her is not necessarily one we want to see her travel. Forced to explore the ins and outs of necromancy thanks to an exceedingly powerful villain who simply cannot let her be, we find ourselves unable to look away as Eleanor embraces that which destroyed her brother, a myriad of interesting questions raised as we watch her dabble in what we previously understood to be dangerous and evil. It's unclear to us as she wades further and further into the murky waters of necromancy whether it's the type of absolute power that corrupts absolutely, or if perhaps the black and white view of the Spirit Hunters is in fact a bit more gray, leaving us morbidly fascinated and hoping Eleanor remains as strong through this latest trial as she has been thus far.

While questions as to the ramifications of Eleanor's newfound talent with necromancy keep our minds alert and invested, her complicated relationship with Daniel ensures our hearts are equally involved. Though they are not reunited for some time in this second installment, the tension between them when they finally come face to face again is palpable, her hurt and confusion as to his blunt admission at the end of book one seeming to rise to the surface of the pages and reverberate straight through us. Their romance continues to stutter, every step they take forward quickly followed by several steps back, but it's not in the irritating way of so many sequels where one person tries to the push the other away in order to protect them, rather all the things they need to say to one another as well as the complications of her necromancy form a labyrinth they both struggle to find their way through.

Overall A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a solid second installment, moving things forward both physically and emotionally for Eleanor while setting us up for a much larger showdown in the next book. The smaller villain and the case of the Dead in Paris is solved, leaving us satisfied that we didn't invest all our time in these four hundred pages just to be left hanging, but it's also abundantly clear that even bigger and badder things are on their way, hungrier and deadlier than anything we've seen thus far.

Rating: 4/5

If you haven't already, be sure and check out my interview with Daniel, and enter to win some fantastic prizes!

Find Susan:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Nightmare Dilemma

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Arkwell Academy #2
Releases March 4th, 2014 from Tor Teen

From Goodreads:

Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.

To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.

As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Nightmare Affair earlier this year, so I'm extremely excited to get back into this world and see what trouble Dusty will stir up next. I'm slightly concerned over the mention of Dusty's ex-boyfriend given my full approval of the budding romance with Eli–my love triangle radar is pinging warning after warning in my head–but seeing as the first book was relatively low in the angst department, I'm going to pick this one up hoping it continues in the same deliciously relationship melodrama-free vein.

Also, anyone else see screaming faces in the black shapes above each of the character's heads on that cover? Or is that just me? At first I thought they were branches or flourishes, but I think they're creepy-yet-cool faces with pointy noses and open mouths, and the one on the right seems to be sucking the "a" of "dilemma" right in. Awesome. I'm a big fan of illustrated covers, so both of the covers in this series have worked really well for me:)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: Midnight Frost

Mythos Academy #5
Jennifer Estep
Paranormal Young Adult
400 pages
Kensington Teen
Available July 30th
Source: ARC from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Here we go again …

Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities — until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.

As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast — otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins — and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there …

As action-packed and engaging as we’ve come to expect from Ms. Estep, Midnight Frost is another fantastic addition to the Mythos Academy series, providing us with a complete story arc within the book itself while simultaneously furthering the larger arc of the battle against Loki. One of the highlights of Ms. Estep’s writing, and this series in particular, is that each installment brings something new to the table – an emotional revelation, a significant physical battle, or even better, a desirable combination of the two – to keep everything moving forward, and we’re never left feeling as though we’re simply biding our time during the build up of something larger to come down the line.

Gwen is hurting at the beginning of this fifth installment, Logan’s absence and the echoes of their battle haunting her dreams instantly snapping our bond to her back in place even after months apart, and our hearts easily take up the beat of the painful tune led by Gwen’s own. While she’s certainly upset that Logan left and finds her mind wandering to him often, she’s not lost without him, instead she continues on as she always has when life has dealt her a punishing blow (of which there have been many), his absence felt and mourned but not obsessed over. She has a group of loyal friends and a job to do being Nike’s champion, and she never once lets her broken heart redefine and reshape the girl she was before Logan left.

Because Gwen is such a strong young woman in her own right, our time with her is not spent simply waiting for Logan to reenter the picture as is sometimes the case when a main couple is separated, rather we are with her one hundred percent, as involved in her newest predicament as ever. When Logan does finally make an appearance, the way Gwen handles the situation has us attempting to high-five the book as though she might feel our pleasure and admiration through the pages. She lets him know in no uncertain terms how his leaving affected her, and forces him to acknowledge that he's not the only one scarred by Loki’s intimate violation. Though Gwen is angry, and rightfully so, she’s not so angry that she doesn’t recognize Logan’s pain and trample over it in favor of expressing her own, instead she’s able to put herself in his shoes and not add to the guilt and shame he’s already carrying.

Overall, Midnight Frost satisfies on every level as have all the books that came before it, and the Mythos Academy series continues to be one that encourages the procrastination of work and the forgoing of sleep in favor of reading.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jennifer:

This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: The Distance Between Us

Kasie West
Contemporary Young Adult
320 pages
Available now
Source: Borrowed from The Irish Banana Review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

The Distance Between Us proves yet again what a gifted storyteller Ms. West really is when we enter into this tale with the desire to read just a few chapters, but before long find ourselves hundreds of pages in and fair to snarling at anyone who dares interrupt us. While there are some situations and issues that could be pulled apart and examined far more closely, Ms. West is more content to stay on the lighter side of things with this book, clearly never intending it to be a hard-hitting exploration of modern social structures and class distinctions. Instead, it’s a quick and endlessly amusing read, with a few dramas here and there and certainly many a thing to think about, but for the most part she allows the entertainment value to shine through in all its humorous glory, leaving us smiling, content and warm.

Caymen is a young woman those of us with a sarcastic streak a mile wide fall in love with nearly instantly, the dry quips lost on so many of her store’s customers like cupid’s arrows for us, hitting center mass one after another until we’re full to bursting with amusement and affection. She certainly won’t be a character for everyone as a result though, a dry sense of humor not always something that comes across well without facial expressions or intonation to accompany it, but Ms. West handles it expertly, balancing Caymen’s one-liners with just enough seriousness to keep her from being over the top.

Caymen, while hilarious, is certainly not without her flaws, the largest of which is a prejudice against the wealthy she seems to have inherited rather than formed through any direct experience of her own. She’s quick to look for an interpretation of Xander’s words or actions that fits the negative picture of him to which she's desperately trying to cling despite his increasingly successful assaults on her defenses, proceeding to hold him to a higher standard just as she perceives everyone of his ilk holds her to a lower. Though we might wish for her to give Xander the benefit of the doubt and be as honest with him as he appears to be with her, she’s never cruel and she doesn’t play games, instead she slowly tests the waters with him, her hesitation and her anti-wealth flare-ups borne of a very real fear given the precarious situation with her mother and her mother’s painful past.

Those who enjoy young adult romances (like me) will likely thoroughly enjoy this contemporary stand-alone, things progressing with Xander slowly; a speed that fits Caymen’s distrust and dislike of all Xander represents to her and her mother. There is another boy in the picture briefly, but he remains far in the background and removes himself from any triangle situation with thankfully little drama, leaving us able to focus on Caymen and Xander the way we want to. As mentioned previously, the gap between the two of them in terms of economic class could have been explored with more depth, but the story Ms. West gives us keeps to the flirtatious fun of being seventeen and finding someone who causes dormant butterflies in our stomachs to spring to vibrant life, something that never once fails to satisfy in the end.

Rating: 4/5

Find Kasie

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Super Six Sunday: Love Stories

Inspired by Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and The Bookish, Super Six Sunday, a new feature from the fabulous ladies at Bewitched Bookworms, has different book-related topics each week and asks participants to address each topic in the form of a list of six. Obviously.

This week's topic is love stories, and given how much I love romance, it's both an awesome and a terrible prompt for me. Awesome because there are so many amazing love stories out there that have made me swoon, and terrible because it was nearly impossible to narrow it down to just six. I had to limit the topic even further in my head in order to choose books, so I went with love stories that feature really strong heroines, emotionally and physically, who aren't afraid to challenge the men in their lives. I think all six of the below women push buttons, question, and frustrate their men, but they are also loyal, powerful in their own ways, and are absolute equal partners in the relationship. Love them.

Nalini Singh • Adult Paranormal Romance

Nalini Singh is one of my very favorite authors, and her Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series has been one I've been obsessed with for years. We meet Hawke and Sienna in book one, but it takes another 8 books–yes eight, I died a little inside when each book that released wasn't theirs–before they finally get together. To be fair, they need all that time as Sienna is significantly younger than Hawke, but their journey in this book is one I've taken with them over and over again and will continue to do so for years to come.

Karen Marie Moning • Adult Urban Fantasy

I'm sure many of you have heard the word Barrons uttered (or exhaled on a shaky breath full of longing) even if you haven't yet read this series. Jericho Barrons is not your typical romance hero. He's often neither romantic nor heroic. He's downright cruel at times and the force of his personality can be overwhelming. It's as easy to hate him as it is to love him, but Mac holds her own and never takes a step back when he takes a threatening step forward. Instead, she meets him with a step of her own, and the two of them fight, taunt, argue and then explode romantically as the series continues, and I just can't recommend their story enough. It's definitely NOT a conventional love story in any way, and that's part of what I like so much about the two of them.

Erin McCarthy • Contemporary New Adult

True came to be in my hands just at the moment when the New Adult genre got to be at its most frustrating for me, the angst and drama of the relationships starting to test my patience and grate on my nerves, but then along came Rory. Rory wouldn't know how to play a game romantically with a guy if someone gave her a series of directions to review beforehand, and her honesty with everything she's feeling quickly led her to the top of my favorite heroines list. Tyler is a bit more cliched - a bad boy with a difficult past, but he's not nearly as superficial as labeling him a bad boy makes him seem, and I couldn't have loved him with Rory any more if I'd tried.

Diana Peterfreund • Young Adult/Dystopian

This story is one of the most romantic stories I've read where the hero and heroine don't even do so much as kiss on page. Elliot and Kai are all tension and hurt, dancing around one another as they search desperately in each other for the person they knew when they were younger, but whereas Kai takes his opportunities to land his emotional punches, Elliot always pulls hers, earning my respect and her place on this list. Despite all the lingering pain between them, there are such beautiful moments in this tale, and I always look forward to going back and spending time with Elliot an Kai on a re-read.

Elizabeth Norris • Paranormal Young Adult/SciFi

Unraveling is one of those books that took me by complete surprise, the blurb initially one that held no interest for me, but when I was lucky enough to get a review copy I decided I might as well give it a try. I fell in love with Janelle on nearly the first page, her sense of humor and low tolerance for the petty games of the popular crowd winning me over immediately. When Ben enters the picture there is no swooning (except on my part), and their relationship is one of tentative friendship and wary attraction for a long time before it becomes something much more heartwarming.

Susan Ee • Paranormal Young Adult

Like Unraveling, Angelfall was a complete surprise for me, a story I entered into not really knowing what to expect but I quickly found myself blown away. Penryn is fiercely protective of her younger sister, and when she gets taken, embarks on a long and terrifying journey with the dubious help of wingless angel Raffe to find her again. I loved everything about this book and the relationship between Penryn and Raffe, the antagonism and distrust between them ever-so slowly fading to leave genuine affection in its place. Again, a bit darker and less traditional of a love story, but strikingly memorable and beautiful just the same.

Those are six of my very favorites, what love story would top your list?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cathy Reviews: Written in Red + London Falling

I'm pleased today to welcome my wonderful mother in law Cathy back to the blog to share with us her thoughts on a couple books she was nice enough to take off my plate and read in my stead. As always, a huge thank you to her for sharing in this blogging experience with me!

The Others #1
Anne Bishop
Adult Urban Fantasy
433 pages
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

In Written In Red, Ms. Bishop gives us an Earth we could imagine really existing. We first see all the characters in human form, but sense something very different about them. A different energy, animalistic in its undercurrents. We find out that in this world the Others, who have most of the controlling power, are something more. They are shapeshifters, vampires, and elementals, all coexisting with humans though on very shaky terms. These characters are so cleverly written. Ms. Bishop does a wonderful job maintaining the threatening nature of the Others while adding a humorous edge to their animalistic forms. For instance, Jenni, a member of the Crow clan, has a hard time putting change in the bookstore cash register because it's just so shiny.

In this first installment, Meg appears in the part of town designated to the Others even though she's human. We can tell she has a secret and that she's terrified, but yet she's willing to venture into a part of town that's dangerous to her. I won't go into depth on this because I don't want to spoil anything and Ms. Bishop thoroughly entangles us in a spiderweb of mystery. Meg is a very endearing character, not only do the Others come to protect her and take her under their care, but some of the human detectives feel the need to watch out for her as well. She's like the eye of a storm, existing in the middle while everything else spins around her.

This book has great story and character development. Even though this is urban fantasy, the characters are so well developed that you have a connection to them that draws you into the story. The line between good and evil is blurred, just like in real life. And there are lots of twists.

This book truly has something for everyone. There is mystery, tension between the Others and the humans, lots of paranormal cleverness and maybe a budding romance. I really enjoyed this book and the best part is this is the first book in a series, so I get more of these characters to whom I've become so attached.

Rating: 4.5/5

Paul Cornell
Adult Urban Fantasy/Mystery
402 pages
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

London Falling is an urban fantasy that reminded me very much of a Stephen King novel. Everyone in this book is going about their daily lives while only a very select few can see the true dangers that surround them. This story takes place in London and teams up four detectives to solve the mysterious deaths of soccer players. At least that's what the general public thinks. What is really happening involves black magic and witches. There are touches of humor in the book – they name their case Operation Toto, referencing the Wizard of Oz since they are chasing a witch – but for the most part, this is a dark story with some gruesome murders.

Mr. Cornell does a very good job in developing his detectives' characters, and throughout the book their layers are slowly peeled away, allowing us to become even more invested and attached to them. They start out as a mismatched group we think has nothing in common, and we simply can't figure out why they were chosen to see this mystical underworld. As they investigate these murders and stop questioning their "powers" however, it truly becomes a detective novel and we anxiously wait to see how it will be solved. We also learn why these four have been chosen to become a unit.

At the start of the book, I was a little confused because it seemed to start in the middle of the action without much of a lead-in. And since it's set in London, some of the terms were unfamiliar. Now, if I was the type of reader who immediately turns to the back of the book (you know who you are Jenny!), I would have seen the glossary there and that would've been helpful. I'm glad that I kept reading though because Mr. Cornell has written a very good detective story with fantastical elements.

The plot line is resolved for the most part in this book, but it does leave us with some questions which I'm hoping means Mr. Cornell is hard at work writing book two. I would like to see more of our English detectives and whatever creepy things live in London again.

Rating: 4/5

 These books were sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my (or in this case, Cathy's) honest opinion.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Darkness Strange and Lovely Blog Tour: Character Interview with Daniel + A Giveaway

I'm thrilled today to welcome to the blog Daniel; Spirit Hunter, inventor extraordinaire, and love interest for Eleanor in Susan Dennard's newest release, A Darkness Strange and Lovely. I absolutely adored the first book in the series, Something Strange and Deadly, despite my fierce aversion to all things zombie, and I may have fallen a little in love with Eleanor and Daniel both individually and as a couple. Daniel was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule fighting the Dead to answer a few questions for me, and be sure and check the bottom of the post for all the details on a fantastic giveaway!

Take us back to the first time you ran afoul of a zombie. What was your reaction and what object or person do you most wish you had with you when you came face to face with one?

The first time I ran afoul of the Dead, I was just a kid. My ma worked for a rich family outside of Chicago, and their estate was deep in the forest. There was this terrifying spirit that haunted those those woods—you could hear it hiss at night. *shudder* I wish I’d had Joseph with me then. He’d have known what to do—even if he would’ve only been a boy like myself, I bet he could’ve handled it. *grin*

If, in a separate interview, Eleanor was asked to describe you, how different do you think her answer would be from the way you would describe yourself?

Aw, she’d probably say I’m ornery. And rude. And I’ve heard her call me a scalawag more times than I can count now, so I reckon that’d be on her list too. But I’ll be honest, I’m not as grouchy as she might think—I just don’t like people touchin’ my inventions. What’s so hard to understand about that? And while I’ll admit I haven’t got my manners all tidied up like Joseph or Eleanor,  I wouldn’t call myself rude. I can be nice…when I want to be.

The scalawag thing, though…She’s probably right about that. *wink*

If zombies and spirits were suddenly a non-issue and your days no longer revolved around them, what would you most enjoy focusing on instead?

I reckon I’d go to school. Why hell, I might even start a school. I could teach kids like me—orphans and guttersnipes. I’ve been real blessed since my time in pris…well, you know where. Ever since I escaped that hell, though, I’ve been real blessed, and it only seems right to pass that luck on.

Let’s say you’re teaching a multi-week class specifically geared toward fighting the dangerous Dead. What would the class be called and what would the first item on the syllabus be?

Honestly, I’d leave that kind of class to Joseph or Jie. They’re the real Dead-fighers in the group. But I can already tell you what item Jie would want on the syllabus first…

Aim for the Knees: how to incapacitate a corpse when you’ve got no weapons or magic

If you had ample time to show Eleanor around your lab, which of your many inventions do you think she would be most fascinated by?

Now that’s a secret. One I don’t want her findin’ out. I reckon you’ll just have to read A Darkness Strange and Lovely to see for yourself. *sly smile*

While Eleanor doesn’t have your same experience with zombies, she is a quick learner and determined to be of assistance to you and the other Spirit Hunters. What quality of hers do you admire most?

I respect a woman—or any person, really—who doesn’t back down just ‘cause things get hard. As long as my fingers can curl into fists and breath still burns in my chest, I won’t stop—and neither will Eleanor.

It doesn’t hurt that she’s mighty fine to look at either.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (she really likes swoon-worthy rogues).

She lives in the Midwest with her French husband and Irish setter, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, is now available from HarperTeen.

• • • • • • • • • •


There will be 10 winners total and the prizes are…..

•      5 Winners will receive a hardcover copy of A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY and a paperback of SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, along with signed swag - US ONLY.

•      5 winners will receive an e-novella of A DAWN MOST WICKED and signed swag - INTERNATIONAL.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on this tour, put together by the amazing team at Rockstar Book Tours!

7/15/2013 - Bookcase to Heaven - Interview
7/16/2013 - Magical Urban Fantasy Reads - Guest Post
7/17/2013 - Tynga's Reviews - Review
7/18/2013 - Supernatural Snark - Interview
7/19/2013 - The Book Cellar - Guest Post

7/22/2013 - Read-A-holicZ - Review
7/23/2013 - IceyBooks - Interview
7/24/2013 - Working for the Mandroid - Review
7/25/2013 - The Reader's Antidote - Review
7/26/2013 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: In Dreams

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Erica Orloff
Paranormal Young Adult
Releases from Speak/Penguin on January 9th, 2014

From Goodreads:
In the land of nightmares, she finds the man of her dreams...
He haunts her in her dreams. 
She is always searching, looking for the man who calls her from afar, a disembodied voice who knows everything about her. 
But when she discovers the unimaginable secret her family has hidden for so long, her dreams—and her nightmares—invade her reality.
Her true love beckons, but the terrors await her. . . . Can she find him in time, or will their love—and her life—be destroyed?

Sixteen-year-old Iris has a recurring dream a long corridor of many doors, and behind each door a hidden world—some magical, some terrifying. But always she is searching for the man who calls to her—the man of her dreams—who knows everything about her, who stirs feelings in her she’s never felt before. When she discovers her father is actually the god of dreams, her nightmares and dreams follow her into reality, with both frightening and romantic results. Hunted by the god of nightmares, stalked by the horrifying creatures of the underworld, Iris must try to navigate both her worlds, as she tries to finally be with Sebastian, the man of her dreams. Can she triumph over the dangers that have haunted her forever, and be with Sebastian, or will terrors ultimately destroy them both?

You guys know I'm a sucker for a good YA romance and I tend to choose the books I want to read based on whether or not they have a romance in them, so In Dreams automatically checks one of my required boxes just by mentioning "the man of her dreams". Add in a dark and terrifying underworld and the god of nightmares and this one becomes a must read for me!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: When You Were Here

Daisy Whitney
Contemporary Young Adult
264 pages
Little, Brown
Available now
Source: Tour for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

When You Were Here is a slower story, one that doesn't leave us breathless and panting at the end but instead affects us in subtle ways that have no physical manifestation, though we feel its strength just the same. Danny's tale is akin to a watercolor painting – a few significant strokes are made, but they then spread out, crawling into the crevices and grooves of the paper of their own accord, slowly and inexorably changing the entire face of the artwork with their quiet bleeding. There's no dramatic action or epic battle with a villain, instead the colors of Danny's life creep outward after the initial strokes of his mom's death and the breakup with his girlfriend are swept across the paper, and we have the pleasure of watching as they take on a life of their own and create a beauty he would have never anticipated.

Danny is understandably in a bad place when we first meet him, finding it difficult to care about much of anything and popping Vicodin and Percocet with relative ease, but he's not so deep in a depression-lined hole that we can't reach him. He decides to take action rather quickly, returning to the city he and his mother loved to spend time in the most, and instead of simply wallowing there amidst the remnants of their life together, he goes out, asks questions, tracks down places she loved, and starts trying to find the peace his mother seemed to both so easily embrace and exude. Being in Tokyo isn't a miracle cure for him though, and while attempting to treat known wounds he inadvertently opens new ones, but part of healing is the acknowledgement of what is ailing, and Danny handles the revelations about his mom's life and his own life with admirable maturity and a refreshing lack of self-pity of any kind.

One of the highlights of this story is Danny's troubled relationship with childhood-friend-turned-girlfriend Holland, the pain of their abruptly terminated romance even more poignant than that of losing his mother, the questions surrounding the how's and why's of their breakup eating away at us page by page. His mother's death is of course prominent, but it's surprisingly not the aspect that reaches deep into our chests and squeezes our hearts tight, instead that action lies with Holland and the new fragility between her and Danny that seems as if it will simply break at any moment, shattering a young man already cracked wide open.

Those readers looking for a read that's not meant to keep them up late at night reading with its drama and action will likely thoroughly enjoy When You Were Here, the journey Danny embarks on one meant to be walked and fully absorbed rather than run and glimpsed in passing. It's luckily not as heavy as it could have been given the subject matter, and Ms. Whitney does a beautiful job of giving Danny's story due gravity without leeching all of our happiness as we read, infusing it with a great deal of hope and showing us all the possibilities that spring up in the wake of tragedy.

Rating: 4/5

Find Daisy

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.