Thursday, May 31, 2012

Talented by Sophie Davis: Review, Excerpt and Giveaway! Presented by Reading Addiction Blog Tours

  Hi Everyone!  I'm so excited today to be a part of my first blog tour with Reading Addiction Blog Tours.  This tour is all about the awesome new book Talented by Sophie Davis.  You can read my review here.  In addition to my review I have an excerpt from the book and Sophie has been kind enough to provide one lucky reader with a free eBook copy of Talented!  But first let's learn a little more about the book and its author.


Sophie moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating from Penn State University to pursue a career in the Sciences.  After deciding to actually write down one of the stories she makes up in her head, Sophie began the long journey towards her first full-length novel, Talented.  Caged is her second novel, and the second in the Talented Saga.  When Sophie isn't hunched over her computer, she can be found shopping in Georgetown, running in Rock Creek Park, or at the local dive bars in her Columbia Heights Neighborhood.


"Talia Lyons is Talented.  Born after a nuclear spill, she is part of a new generation possessing special abilities; Talia can read the minds of others and manipulate their thoughts.  Whether Morphers, Light Manipulators or Telekinetics, the Talented are taught to control their abilities under the protective eye of the government- to use their Talents for good. But all Talia wants is revenge.

Talia joins the Hunters, an elite group of government operatives, hoping to one day kill Ian Crane - the man who ordered the execution of her parents.  Ever since she witnessed their brutal deaths, Talia has spent her life honing her abilities, determined to settle the score.  But she still has a lot to learn before she can ease the pain inside. Talia turns to a boy who can mimic her Talents, a boy who truly understands her inner turmoil.  But even he can’t help Talia, when she’s forced to choose between saving herself and avenging the lives of her parents.
Talented is an action-packed adventure, about a group of teenagers who aren't afraid to embrace their fears and fight for what they believe in."

Sounds pretty sweet huh?  I, for one, just love the idea for this book!  Talia sounded like an amazing heroine and the whole concept of kids with special abilities working for the government like a pack of teen super heroes got me super excited. Well just in case you can't get wait to get your hands on this one, the author has very nicely provided us with an excerpt.


"  My parents’ deaths had been quick.  One cold metal bullet to the side of my father’s head was all it took to steal the life of the man whose lap I curled up in every night before bed so he could tell me a story; the man who brought me cold milk and warm cinnamon sugar cookies when I had nightmares; the man whose warm, dark brown eyes and toothy smile lit up the room every time my mother walked in.
  My poor mother, she never stood a chance.  Before she could even reach my father, a man in black grabbed her from behind.  With one flick of his wrist, a gaping wound appeared across her throat.  The man in black tossed her carelessly next to my father’s crumpled form, like she was trash.
I was murderous.  The feelings overwhelmed me, stirring in my stomach and rising like bile in my throat; overwhelmed me.  Then the horrible, high-pitched shrieking started; it filled my ears, suffocating all of the coherent thoughts in my brain.
  I am still not sure if it was the cold, calculated murder of my father, or the careless disposal of my mother – probably both – but I felt something inside of me snap.  One minute, I was hiding in the closet with the silk of my mother’s long dresses pulled tight around my face, like curtains trying to block out the brutal scene in the bedroom.  The next, I was sitting in the outer room of our hotel suite, surrounded by broken furniture, shattered glass, and the bodies of the men in black.  They were all dead.
  The blonde man carried a large gun slung over one shoulder, and several smaller ones were tucked at his waist.  An entire team of men clamored through the doorway after him.  He held up one of his hands, indicating for the men to stay back.  He approached me slowly, hesitantly.  He was greater than an arms distance away when he tentatively extended one of his large, gloved hands toward me; I had seen people do the same thing with wounded animals.
  “Natalia?” he asked in a soft voice.  I couldn’t find the energy to even nod my head, I just stared blankly.  “Natalia,” he repeated.  “My name is Danbury McDonough.  Do you remember me?  I’m friends with your daddy.”  I rewarded him with another of my blank stares.  “Natalia, are you hurt?”  He took my silence as an indication that I was not.
  He placed me in the back seat of the waiting vehicle. I curled into a ball as he covered me with dry blankets.  My body and mind were numb, impervious to the rain and cold.  He tucked the red and black fabric under my chin.  I was vaguely aware that the material was itchy against my skin, but I didn’t move it away.
  I could hear the soft ping of the raindrops hitting the metal roof of the car, keeping perfect time with the tears leaking on to the soft leather seat and pooling underneath my cheek.  I tried to concentrate on the noise instead of the slideshow of my parents’ deaths playing on the inside of my eyelids.  I was convinced that the images, now seared into my conscious, would never fade.  The feelings I’d had in the closet were now gone, leaving me empty and hollow and tired – so tired.  I closed my swollen eyes and willed my own mind blank.”" -- Talented by Sophie Davis


As I mentioned earlier Sophie has very nicely agreed to give away one eBook copy of Talented to a very lucky reader!  Make sure to enter and to add Talented to your TBR pile.

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Blog Tour: Talented by Sophie Davis - Review

Author: Sophie Davis
Genre: dystopian, action, science fiction
Published: January 11th, 2012
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: I received this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review.

"Talia Lyons is Talented. She possesses the ability to read the minds of others and manipulate their thoughts. Ever since she witnessed the brutal murders of her parents, Talia has spent her life honing her abilities, with her heart set on vengeance. Now she is poised to face the man responsible, but duplicity causes Talia to doubt herself and her powers. In the wake of this betrayal, Talia turns to a boy who can mimic her Talents, a boy who truly understands her inner turmoil. But even he can’t help Talia when she’s forced to choose between saving herself or avenging the lives of her parents."

 I don't know what I was expecting when I picked up Talented by Sophie Davis, but now I know that this book can be summed up in one word: awesomesauce.  Yes, ladies and gents this story has pretty much everything, a kick-ass heroine, amazing secondary characters, an eerie dystopian setting, hot guys, oh and did I mention teenage super heroes?!  Talented truly is the entire package.  I could gush and gush, but maybe I should just get to the review huh?


Pretty much everything.  First of (and probably most importantly) there is Talia.  She is strong, capable and unique while still being lovable.  Her motivation (the deaths of her parents) is different than in a lot of YA books and it really makes her more believable.  Second, we have the two boys in Talia's life, Donovan (her boyfriend) and Erik (her partner).  These characters are so dynamic and their roles in Talia's story change drastically throughout the book.  I wasn't really a fan of Donovan from the get-go (even if he was her love interest) but by the end I absolutely hated him (in the best way though) and Erik is just freaking amazing and adorable and funny and awesome and I could go on and on (sigh).  Next, there's the world-building.  Davis does a great job of setting up the story and then making the reader feel like they really know the post-spill system that the characters are living in and it's super disturbing sometimes. She creates a super believable history for her world and then weaves an impressive setting for her characters.  Finally, I just loved that not one single second of this book was boring.  It was so fast paced that I flew through it and the ending just left me wanting more and more.  I can't wait for book two!


Really, I can't say I had many dislikes.  I will say that the language was a bit strong at some points for a YA book.  Sometimes it was called for but there were other times where I think some different vocabulary could have been used.  Along those same lines, the description of some of the more violent parts of the book were a little disturbing (although in fairness these were usually pretty important to the plot).  

Other than the, maybe, overly-mature content at some points this book was great!  I would definitely recommend it if you love action and suspense and especially if you want to see some great world-building and an amazing heroine.  Four stars for this one!

Disclaimer:  *Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Feature and Follow Friday (6) and TGIF (2)

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q:You're a matchmaker—your goal, hook up two characters from two of your favorite books. Who would it be? How do you think it would go?
A: Hmm this is a hard one. Can one be a TV show? Dean from Supernatural and Evie from Paranormally would be an awesome match.  Oh the snappy  comebacks that would ensue.  They are both pretty similar, they are brave and loyal, but also snarky and like to have a good time.  Maybe they could have rollie-chair races down the halls of the Center together :)

TGIF is a weekly blog hop hosted by GReads.  It helps bloggers gain exposure and it gives us all one more thing to talk about on Fridays!

Q:  Issue Books: Which books have you found to be very rewarding when it comes to tackling tougher issues? 

A:  Oh gosh, I'm really going to dig into the past with this one, and maybe it's cliche but I really would have to say Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl.  For countless children the subject of the holocaust was made real and approachable by the words of Anne Frank.  Just a child, she endured the unthinkable with grace, courage and outspokenness and created what is, to this day, one of the most beautiful and tragic pieces of modern literature the world has seen.  Reading this book as a kid both shattered my view of the world and drove me to try and understand why evil people act the way they do and how we, as human beings, can, even in the most dire of circumstances persevere and do good for one another.  

"I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart." ~ Anne Frank

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday (1) Waiting on Wednesday (1) Weigh in Wednesday (3)


Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper that lets bloggers gush about books that have been sitting on their WLs for awhile.

My pick this week is:

Belles by Jen Calonita

Okay so, it only came out last month but ever since it was announced I've been coveting this book.  It has a gorgeous cover and the story just sounds adorable!  I'm especially excited that it's going to be a series.  I've heard such great things about this book and it sounds like it would be the perfect summer read.  Hopefully I can get my hands on this one sometime soon.  It is definitely at the top of my to-buy list.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where bloggers highlight upcoming releases we are drooling over.

My pick this week is:

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

I love mermaids!  I have ever since I saw Disney's The Little Mermaid when I was a little kid.  I haven't ever read a mermaid book, though, so I'm thrilled that there are so many being released this year.  This one looks especially interesting and features a merman as the main character, which is a bit different.  It comes out on June 12th and I can't wait to get my hands on it.


Weigh in Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren over at Epilogue where bloggers weigh in on literary topics.

This weeks topic:


This one is so difficult for me, I love them both, but I guess I would have to say poetry.  When it comes down to it, poetry was my first love and I simply couldn't live in a world without it.  Poetry is part of so many things that I love and great poets inspire such a depth of feeling within me that I always end up coming back to poetry when I need some peace or understanding in my life.  

Wow! There are a lot of wednesday memes. Please comment and leave me your Wednesday meme links.  I'd love to get your thoughts!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: The White Oak by Kim White

Author: Kim White
Genre: paranormal, fantasy
Pages: 326
Published: April 9th, 2012
Publisher: Story Machine Studio
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Source: NetGalley - I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"In The White Oak, the first book in the Imperfect Darkness series, Cora Alexander falls through a sinkhole and enters the underworld still alive. Her living presence threatens the tyrannical rule of Minos and the infernal judges who have hijacked the afterlife and rebuilt it, trapping human souls in a mechanical, computer-controlled city that lies at the core of the earth. To survive, Cora must rely on her untrustworthy guide, Minotaur, an artificial intelligence built by Minos. She is helped by a mysterious voice, and by Sybil, underworld librarian and author of each person's book of life. Sybil's collection holds the key to humankind's intertwined life stories. When Cora's own book is destroyed, Sybil gives her a magical golden pen and sends her to the underworld city to write her own destiny. Along the way, Cora finds the ghost of her dead brother, Lucas, a genius programmer who alone is capable of finding the chink in Minos's armor. But will he be able to get Cora out alive, or will they both succumb to the seemingly inescapable underworld trap?" -

 I'm not usually one for super technical fantasy stories.  I like fantasy but I'm not usually attracted to the "sci" part of sci-fi.  However, I had heard such great things about this book that I decided to give it a try and at first I really liked it.  About 1/4th of the way in, though, it lost me.  With that beautiful cover and the plot's mythological theme I really wanted to love this book, but it was just a little too strange and the plot seemed to be so convoluted at some points that I felt like giving up.  The main character is Cora.  She falls into a sinkhole at her abusive father's funeral and ends up in the underworld.  We find out that she has something to do with a prophecy (which is never really expounded upon enough)  and she becomes something of a fugitive.  All the while there are ghosts, mechanical beings, and a shifty AI named Minotaur as well as a terrifying and confusing underworld society (seriously, if it is really anything remotely like this, I need to find a way to live forever).  Cora must make her way through this awful place and find her twin brother while trying to dodge obstacles put in her way by those who fear the prophecy.  So with that out of the way, lets get down to business.


I really liked the first part of the book.  It really starts off with a bang (or, you know an underground cave collapse, something like that).  The action at the beginning is really great and it feels like the story takes shape very quickly.  Once Cora makes it to the underworld things start to fizzle a little but there are still a couple of characters that are pretty cool who are introduced here.  Chief among these is Minotaur.  He is an AI that can change into anyone.  Because of he programming he pretty much knows everything about everyone and is a very believable doppelganger.  While being entertaining, he also adds some depth to the story.  He has a deep loyalty to his maker, Minos, whom he calls Father, but the affection is not returned and this really makes him a sympathetic character in a way even though he doesn't really have emotion. Unfortunately that's pretty much where the positives ended for me.


I seriously don't know where to start.  I had so many problems with this book.  Lets just jump right in with the main character and her brother.  Cora, to me, was boring.  She was fairly emotionless (when she lands in the underworld she isn't surprised by anything, doesn't she find all of this a little strange?), and I didn't feel like I got to know her at all.  In addition, her relationship with her twin brother is completely lacking in connectivity.  You get the feeling that they are supposed to be super close, but when they are together they just kind of fall flat.  In fact at one point in the story they are discussing Cora escaping from the underworld so she can, you know, live and Lucas is all "don't leave me here" it's just kind of lame. I just couldn't care for them at all and when I don't care about the characters I don't care about the story. Aside from the characters I had real problems with the plot itself.  Basically there wasn't really a defined story line.  It seems like the author wanted to play around with mythology but didn't really explore it fully.  There were so many different things going on at once that it was easy to get lost and by the end of the book I was so confused that I didn't even really care that the whole book was, for all intents and purposes, an intro to the next book. I was just glad it was over.  As far as the mythological aspect goes, it was completely overshadowed by a jumble of other genres and way too much detail on things that didn't really add to the story (there is a whole page that basically describes Lucas coding a video game, no thanks).  And the ending...I can't even really call it a cliffhanger, it was more of a is-my-kindle-malfunctioning-where-is-the-rest-of-the-story ending.  Basically, I just didn't care for this one.  There is going to be a series but I really don't think I'll be reading it.  Let me know if you've read this what you thought.  I would love to have some more opinions, maybe I'm just missing something, or maybe this one is over my head.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Author: Katie Alender
Genre: horror, paranormal
Pages: 346
Published: April 21st, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion
Rating: 4/5 Stars

"When Alexis's little sister, Kasey, becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it.  Kasey is a weird kid.  Period.  Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own goth friends.  Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing.  Doors open and close by themselves, water boils on the unlit stove, and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough for the girls to see their breath.  Kasey is changing too. Her blue eyes go green, and she uses old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.  Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey's shoulder.  The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry.  Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?"

This book was such a pleasant surprise!  I bought it last year (another product of the panic that ensued when Borders closed) and forgot about it.  While I was rearranging my bookshelves a couple of weeks ago I found it and decided to give it a go.  I wasn't expecting much, and I couldn't have been more pleased that I was wrong.  This was a fun and enjoyable read from the first to the last page.  The characters were well-developed and diverse and the story, while familiar, was so well-formed that I finished the book in less than 24 hours.  I love a good old-fashioned ghost story and Alender did a great job of bringing the classic haunted house to a YA book.


Alexis!  I love the main character.  She's such a sad character at first.  Her parents don't understand her (welcome to being a teenager), her little sister is klingy and she has zero friends, in fact everyone at her school is afraid of her.  As the book progresses she matures and begins to realize that the stigma she has attached to other groups of kids at her school (e.g.  the cheerleaders, the preps and the jocks) may not be well-founded.  The author uses Alexis to get across the message that people are not stereotypes, but individuals.  There were times during this book where I forgot I was reading a horror story because the coming-of-age aspect of the book was so strong.  That being said, Alexis maintains her weirdness and individuality through the book.  She doesn't have to assimilate to be accepted and as cliche` as that may sound, that is not a message that got through to me all of the time in high school.  Alexis's love and compassion for her obsessive, strange younger sister is also very sweet and that relationship and her need to save her sister drives the entire plot of the story.  The supporting characters are also well-developed and those relationships don't seem forced or fabricated for the purpose of the message of the book.  The best part about the book, though, is that it is actually really scary, and not in the headless-corpses-with-bloody-stumps-for-hands way, in the best way: psychological and subtle.  There were times in the story where Alexis was talking to her sister and about half way through the conversation you realize it isn't her sister at all.   Little things like that mad this book super creepy in the best possible way.


There really isn't anything that stands out to me as a dislike except maybe that the romantic aspect of the book could have been explored a bit more.  There is an absolutely adorable guy, Carter, who doesn't get nearly the amount of page time he deserves, at least according to me.  Maybe he'll play a bigger role in the next book (fingers crossed).  The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because, while it was fun, it wasn't groundbreaking.  It's just a good old fashioned ghost story.  There aren't really any new concepts here and it isn't profound.  But I think that's part of what makes it so enjoyable.  It's a good lazy read.  The over-arching concepts (family, acceptance, teen angst, etc.) aren't hard to grasp so the reader can kind of sit back and relax and get a little spooked.


Oh my god.  This is one of the creepiest covers I've seen in a long time.  You can't even see her face!  I literally had to flip this book over so it was cover down on my nightstand at night  (I'm a giant baby).  But really, it's just so creepy and for some reason her feet are what creep me out the most!  As a pasty white person myself, I can promise you we aren't all vampires or ghosts, but there's just something very ethereal about this image while feeling very aggressive at the same time.  

So basically, I haven't shut up about this book since I finished it and I probably won't for awhile.  I also didn't realize until very recently that it is part of a series.  This got me so excited that I nearly bought the second one right away before I realized I have a car payment due tomorrow and that money should really stay in the bank for the moment.  I would definitely recommend this book to horror fans.  And if you happen to be sitting in your giant old Victorian house on a gray day with nothing to do, you can't go wrong picking up this book.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday (2)

Weigh In Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren over at Epilogue.

This weeks topic:  Novellas vs. Anthologies

Hmm, for me this is really tough.  Mostly, because I don't really read either usually.  That's not to say I wouldn't, I just don't have that much experience.  I suppose I would have to go with novellas because they usually continue a story that I'm already familiar with.  If I really love a series, I will definitely read a novella associated with it.  I've never been into short stories so anthologies don't usually appeal to me unless the topic is crazy interesting.  One anthology I have been dying to read though is Enthralled , mostly because I love some of the authors that have contributed.  Let me know which you prefer and make sure to sign up for WIW over at Epilogue.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: contemporary, drama, romance
Pages: 470
Published: 2010
Publisher: Harper Teen
Rating: 3/5 Stars

"What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing."

I feel like I should be upfront about something.  I've never liked movies like Groundhog Day.  The idea of living the same day over and over again annoys the hell out of me and usually I find myself twitching violently about half way through wanting to launch my remote at the screen in frustration.  That being said, I probably am not the best judge of a book like Before I Fall but I had heard such wonderful things about it that I had to give it a shot, and I'm actually happy that I did (for the most part). My family may be surprised at this, considering that I walked around grumbling to myself and huffing for the better part of a week (it took me 5, count 'em 5, freaking days to read this beast!) but after I was finished, I felt good about having read it.  So let's just dive right in to my likes and dislikes.

Why don't we start off with the positives before we get into the nitty gritty.  First of all I really liked Oliver's writing style, in particular the dialogue.  It felt very genuine and believable.  For being such a sad book, Before I Fall  also had quite a bit of humor.  I also really enjoyed a couple of the supporting characters, namely Kent and Juliet.  Kent was very quirky and likable.  He was able to be himself without totally ostracizing himself from the rest of his classmates.  He was also just so sweet.  In almost every scene with Kent I found myself "aww-ing".  I liked Juliet for different reasons.  She was so like the main character, Sam, in that she had sacrificed her reputation and her true self for her best friend, but she had so much more depth and truth to her than Sam.  I really felt for Juliet and understood her even though her role in the plot wasn't really developed until about half way through the story.  I also have to say that, while I didn't like Lindsey, I liked the way that Oliver wrote her.  She is pretty much cold and ruthless and her true vulnerability isn't apparent until she is in the most dire of situations.  I think I would have been completely disappointed if Lindsey would have turned into some hollowed out version of Regina George after her bus accident.  As a villain, she is great.


Okay, here's where it gets all negative.  First of all, and most importantly, I really hated Sam.  I kept thinking she would do something to make me feel for her a bit more, but I just couldn't  make myself like her.  She starts out as a nasty, self-centered mean girl and basically stays that way until the very last chapter of the book at least in some capacity.  Sure, she changes her behavior and tries to stop being so mean and vindictive but she doesn't do it because it's the right thing to do, she does it to save herself.  This is super apparent with Juliet.  Never mind that she and her prosti-tot friends have been victimizing this poor girl for years, Sam is sure that she can fix everything with some flowers and a half-assed apology.  And does she do this because she feels so badly about ruining poor Juliet's life? No, of course not, she does it because she thinks if she's successful in getting Juliet to forgive her, she'll improve her situation.  I just wanted to shake her!  In the end, I couldn't really root for her.  She is weak and selfish and it doesn't really matter to me that she tries to make up for it at the 11th hour.  I'm really more concerned about the apparently numerous kids that she's bullied to the point of collapse.  Rant over.  Next, I didn't like the fact that Oliver tried to make it seem like the four main girls' friendship and loyalty to one another somehow excused their actions.  I felt like she was saying "okay, so maybe they are horrible to everyone else, but look at how much they care about each other".  No, thank you.  In my personal opinion this is totally unbelievable.  People who are willing to do ANYTHING to get to the top do not truly care about anyone but themselves.  End of story.  Finally, I felt like the ending (which I won't get into of course) was lackluster.  I didn't feel like anything was really sewn up properly and it left me feeling pretty empty.

I realize that, for many people, this is one of their favorite books and I can certainly see its merit.  I had a real moral dilemma with this one.  In the end, though, the book really made me think and it stayed with me for days.  I may have problems with the characters and the plot, but if a book challenges me then it is worth reading and Before I Fall certainly did that.  So, yes, I would recommend this book, but I would also challenge the reader to reflect on the bigger issue at hand: how we treat one another, and the true consequences of our actions.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book Haul! (4)

Hey there everyone!  I had a great week in books and I'm so excited to read each and every one of these.  Leave a comment and link to your haul, I'd love to see what you got this week, and let me know if you've read any of these and what you thought (no spoilers please!).  Hope you guys have a great Sunday and look forward to my review of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver on Monday.

Thanks to Ginifer at Addicted to Words
Thanks to Lea at LC's Adventures in Libraryland and  Sourcebooks Fire

Received For Review:

Thanks to Simon & Schuster


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (5) and TGIF (1)

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q: Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?
A: I would love to have a beach house somewhere on the the East Coast, preferably Maine or North Carolina.  I have not actually been to these place, mind you, however I love the idea of a weather-beaten little beach cottage and watching a summer storm come in over the ocean while safe in my little reading nook. Ahhh.  Oh and there would also be coffee...and cookies.  That is all.

TGIF is a weekly blog hop hosted by GReads.  It helps bloggers gain exposure and it gives us all one more thing to talk about on Fridays!

Q: A Book Blogger is Born: What made you decide to start your very own book blog?

A:  First of all, I had annoyed my friends and family to the point of insanity jabbering about books (at least I'm pretty sure I did, they're fairly nice people so no one really said anything) but I still needed an outlet.  I had been reading several YA book blogs for awhile and I really like the community feeling and wanted to become part of it.  That's pretty much it, not to mention all of the great books I've been introduced to through blogging the last couple of months.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Author: Kiersten White
Genre: fantasy, paranormal, romance
Pages: 335
Published: 2010
Publisher: Harper Teen
Rating: 5/5 Stars

"Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.  Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal."

Anyone who has met me in real life probably thinks I'm fairly sane.  That is until they really get to know me and learn about my obsession with a little show called Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  The extent of my love for this show goes far beyond casual viewership and into the "dangerously crazed" category of fandom.  So much so that I injured myself on more than one occasion when I was in grade school trying to do kickboxing  in my room (i'm not very coordinated).  I have spent countless hours lamenting the fact that I will never be The Chosen One and that I don't get cool weapons (or athleticism for that matter).  Buffy ended awhile ago but I still tend to compare most paranormal-esque things to it.  I picked up Paranormalcy expecting a pretty good read based on the reviews I had read, but I was shocked by the amount of awesome in this book!  It was spooky, quirky and funny.  So why the Buffy intro to this post?  I'll tell you, Evie's witticisms and attitude remind me so much of Buffy!  I think that's why I loved this book so much.  By page 3 I was thinking "why isn't this a show on the CW yet?!".  I am in love with this book!  Let me give you an example of why I fell for this read:

“Tasers are a one-size-fits-all paranormal butt-kicking option. Mine’s pink withrhinestones.”  - Evie, Paranormalcy

Yes, ladies and gents, that's correct, she has a pink, bedazzled taser.  Oh, how I want one.  And in case you are wondering, yes, they do in fact exist (naturally I looked this up immediately).  There is actually quite a selection of pink tasers.  I happen to think the Hello Kitty one is pretty sweet.

Anyway, adorable anti-rape devices aside, this story had lots of things going for it.  First of all there is Evie.  I've already told you how I love her spunk, but she also has real depth and vulnerability without getting all weepy every time she breaks a nail.  She is strong and capable while still being feminine.  All of the characters that White creates here are realistic (strangely enough) and their motives are relateable.  This includes the bad guys and even the background characters.  I also really enjoyed Lend.  He is a paranormal who is captured while breaking in to the agency where Evie works.  He can change into almost any person and only Evie can see his real face.  Of course they grow to love each other but this is not a case of insta-love.  They form a friendship first and out of that loyalty and admiration comes love.  This is always admirable in YA literature where the model for successful book says that the girl needs to instantly fall in love with the brooding male lead.  That's another thing!  Lend doesn't brood!  He is funny and charming and just a little awkward.  Yes!  I don't know about you but Lend is just my type.  The two of them together are hilarious and entirely believable.  The third character I want to get into is the villain.  I won't get into too much detail because, for the most part, this character isn't revealed until about half way through the book,  but I will tell you that White does an excellent job of making sure that we understand the villain and even feel sympathy for their plight.  

Another thing I like about this story was that it wasn't one-sided.  I didn't feel like one person or organization was all bad or all good.  This is something that Evie comes to realize as well as the book goes on.  I think this is an important theme for a YA book.  I know that as a teenager it was easy for me to feel like the people who didn't always treat me well, or who didn't agree with me were awful people who were just plain wrong, all the time, about everything.  But that's not real life.  In reality we all have our moments of good and bad and White illustrates this with not only the monsters in her book, but the humans as well.

As far as negatives go I really wasn't able to think of anything I would have changed about the story.  It just worked for me.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something both spook and heartfelt with a lot of snark.  Giles would be proud.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Haul! (3)

Hi Everyone!  First of all I want to say Happy Happy Amazingly Happy Mother's Day to the best mom in the entire world!  I love you so much and I couldn't have asked for a better mom! Mwah!

Now on to the book haul. I haven't been buying books because my reading pile is bigger than my bank account balance so I'm trying to behave myself.  However, I did get some stuff from NetGalley and some sweet swag this week!


Swag from Elissa Janine Hoole for her book, Kiss The Morning Star:

Thanks so much Elissa!

That's it for me this week guys.  Comment with a link to your haul.  See you all on Monday!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (4)

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q: This Sunday in the U.S. is Mother's Day, in celebration, what are some of your favorite books with strong mother/child relationships?

A: Oh my gosh, I love this question.  I adore my mom, she is my very best friend!  So, naturally I love it when mother-daughter (or son) relationships are highlighted in books.  Here are some of my faves:
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty:  Even though Gemma's mother is dead, their connection is so strong.  It literally transcends death!  
  • Sweet Evil:  One of the thing that I really liked about this book was Anna's relationship with her adoptive mother Patti.  It was so loving and was a great strength in the book.
  • Angela's Ashes:  Okay I know this one sounds weird, but I adore Frank's ability to love his mother and be loyal to her despite her damaged life and poor choices.  In turn she really suffers for her children while still trying to instill a sense of pride in them.
  • Little Women:  Oh how I love Mrs. March.  She is so strong and capable and there is such and overpowering love between her and her girls.
Those are the ones that come to mind at the moment.  Let me know what you think in the comments and leave your FF links and please follow me via, GFC, Twitter and FB.

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sweet Evil

Author: Wendy Higgins
Genre: fantasy, paranormal, romance, thriller
Pages: 464
Published: 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Rating: 3/5 Stars
"What if there were teens whose lives depended on being bad influences? This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels in Sweet Evil.
Tenderhearted Southern girl, Anna Whitt, was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage, and her will-power is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.  Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?"

I'm really torn about this one.  I have been anticipating this book for awhile now and I think I worked myself into such excitement that it was easy to be let down, and for the same reason I continually tried to push my way through the not-so-great parts hoping that my premature fan-girling would be justified.  I have seen so many reviewers raving about this book like it's the second coming of the Twilight phenomenon and certainly they are more than entitled to their opinions (that is what we bloggers do right?) but I just didn't get that thrill.   Sweet Evil is not by any means a bad read, but it also is not the amazing story I expected it to be.  I went into it expecting steamy romance, thrilling action and a gripping, unique plot.  I got about half of those things which isn't too bad, but after being so excited to read it, it fell short.  

As always let's start with the good (including that absolutely gorgeous cover).  Steam.  The steaminess of this book cannot be denied.  There were certainly times when I felt like I needed to open a window and just cool off for a second.  In fact, parts of the book, felt more adult than young adult.  This is probably because the main heartthrob of the story, Kaidan Rowe, is the son of the Duke of Lust.  He definitely takes after his father.  He, naturally, falls for sweet little Anna who never swears, or lies, or drinks and certainly does not do anything Kaidan might have in mind.  When the two of them have to travel cross-country alone things really heat up.  One of the most redeeming things about the book is the way that Anna and Kaidan change each other throughout the story.  Anna lets down her guard a little when she's with Kaidan and he, in turn, allows her to see glimpses of his vulnerability.  They really start to love each other, in large part because of Kaidan's damage from never truly having love in his life.  One of the sweetest lines in the book comes from Anna's inner dialogue after discussing Kaidan's loveless upbringing:

"I tried to imagine young, inquisitive Kaidan looking up at the demon in his life, desperate for his attention.  I wished I could hold that little boy." - Ch. 14

The love between the two of them is what we all like to see in books, raw and real and deep.  Another part of the book that I enjoyed was the mythology.  Higgins does a great job of setting up the mythology behind the angels and the demons and their children.  She also does not have any qualms with being very brutal about the way the demons behave.  There are parts of this book that are very hard to get through because they are violent and heart wrenching, which I think is important when we are talking about evil.  She really drives the point home.  

That's where the love sort of stopped for me.  As far as uniqueness goes, I can't really say the plot was all that different from most paranormal romances.  Good girl meets bad guy.  Girl tries to change guy.  Bad guy is still bad, but broken underneath.  Girl finds out she has flaws too.  They can't be together but probably will, maybe, at some point.  It's fun and everything, but I was hoping for more of a different vibe with this one.  The only real difference I can see is that Kaidan isn't really the hero type.  He has a tendency to stand around and be freaked out when Anna is in mortal peril instead of actually jumping in and doing something about it.  And then there's Anna.  Don't get me wrong, I liked Anna, but I didn't love her.  She seemed weak and scared all the time and she cries almost constantly.  I'm a big crier, but Anna put me to shame.  I kept wanting to shake her and say "Snap out of it!  You have important things to be concentrating on!"  Next, there's the resolution problem.  I didn't feel like this book had much of a resolution.  It is going to be part of a series so obviously they can't explain everything in the first book, but after I finished it I kind of felt jipped.  It felt like the entire book was just a prelude to the next one.  Finally, I felt like there was a lot of finger wagging going on.  I realize it's a book about angels and demons, but I just felt preached to much of the time.  It seemed a little judge-y.

Basically, this book was entertaining.  And it did keep me reading.  Unfortunately I didn't feel like there was a great pay off.  I would still recommend this book if you want something to keep you engaged for a few days and I will be reading the next one because I need to know what happens.  I just hope that the rest of the series is a little meatier.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday (1)

Weigh In Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren over at Epilogue.
Todays topic: Contemporary Vs. Fantasy 

My Answer: Fantasy!  I don't have anything against contemporary and I really enjoy it much of the time, but one of the reasons I read is to escape for awhile and what better way to escape than with fantasy?  I also really love the twists and turns that come with fantasy/paranormal books.  Anything is possible, they aren't subject to the rules of contemporary books.  What about you guys?  Sign up for the blog hop below and let everyone know what you think!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Author: J. Meyers
Genre: fantasy, paranormal
Pages: 264
Published: 2012
Publisher: Self Published
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source:  Received for review from author.

"Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.
Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it."

I have read several books about healers or seers and have thoroughly enjoyed them, but this was by far my favorite.  Meyers creates a world that looks just like ours.  Everyone seems normal, except the Raine twins.  But, as the twins soon find out, their world is anything but ordinary.  It is inhabited not only by seers and healers, but by elves, goblins and vampires!  Sera and Luke find themselves caught up in this world while still, for the most part, being unaware of its existence.  No one is what they appear to be, and after depending upon each other their whole lives, the siblings may now have to face the Realm alone.  The story includes a cast of memorable and well-drawn characters from Sera and Luke's protective best friend, the beautiful Fey, and the dark and mysterious Jonas to the handsome and troubled psychic, Marc.  This book is a very approachable and real fantasy.

As usual, let me start with the things I absolutely loved about this book.  First of all, the pace was magnificent.  I think this was aided by the different story tellers.  Each chapter, and sometimes within a chapter, the story teller changes.  This helps with two things:  it speeds up the story and it allows the reader to get to know each of the main characters intimately.  By the end of the book I understood each character's motivations behind their actions, even if the other players did not.  I really connected with all of them.  They are each struggling in their own way with right and wrong and it is impressive to see how Meyers tackles that issue with each individual character.  You can tell she really cares about her creations.  Second, the villain!  Oh my gosh, Lilith was so scary.  She has two forms: intoxicatingly beautiful and frighteningly repulsive and one is scarier than the next.  She is pure evil and delights in the suffering of others.  She even keeps humans in cages as pets that she can torture for fun *shudder*.  At the same time she is very snarky and can be quite amusing.  Having such a diverse and intriguing bad guy was a lot of fun. The third reason I loved this book was because it wasn't what I expected.  It is not just your typical fantasy story, and definitely not a normal vampire novel.  It has some real depth and doesn't focus on the supernatural aspect as much as relationships, trust and loyalty.  

There is really very little I can say about improving this story except that I really want to know more about the Realm, and the more minor characters introduced toward the end (I'm sure Sera and Luke do too!).  I'm sure we will learn more in the sequel (please?).   The only real disappointment I had was in one of the characters, I won't say whom, and their decisions at the end of the book.  I feel like I put a lot of hope into this person and they let me down, but then again, I suppose that was the point.  Sigh.

Overall, this was a fabulous read, and I would definitely recommend it.  It was good freaky fun!  It looks like there will be a sequel and I will certainly be picking that up.  I can't wait to find out what's next for the Raine twins and their paranormal entourage.