Friday, January 31, 2014

Guest Reviews: The Destiny of Violet and Luke by Jessica Sorensen and Precious Thing by Colette McBeth



Summary:

Luke Price's life has always been about order, control, and acting tough on the outside. For Luke, meaningless relationships are a distraction-a way to tune out the twisted memories of his childhood. He desperately wishes he could forget his past, but it haunts him no matter what he does.

Violet Hayes has had a rough life. When she was young, she was left with no family and the memory of her parents' unsolved murders. She grew up in foster homes, living with irresponsible parents, drugs, and neglect, and trying to fight the painful memories of the night her parents were taken from her. But it's hard to forget when she never got closure-and she can't stop dreaming about what happened that tragic night. To make it through life, she keeps her distance from everyone and never allows herself to feel anything.

Then Violet meets Luke. The two clash instantly, yet they can't seem to stay away from each other. Although they fight it, they both start to open up and feel things they've never felt before. They discover just how similar they are. But they also discover something else: The past always catches up with you . . .

Publication Date: January 7, 3014


Jessica's Review:

3 stars. The writing was good and the premise of the story was really good even if it was a bit predictable, but I hated the main characters. Luke wasn't as bad as Violet, but I have a hard time connecting with characters that use their life problems to justify stupid childish behavior. Everyone has bad crap happen to them, but the truly noble characters overcome their issues, not use them to get away with stupid petty crap. And the ending...seriously? It just starts to get good and now we have to go to book 2??


Summary:

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever.

They met in high school when Rachel was the shy, awkward new girl and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Instantly, they fell under one another’s spell and nothing would be the same again. Now in their late twenties Rachel has the television career, the apartment and the boyfriend, while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Yet despite everything, they remain inextricably bound. Then Rachel’s news editor assigns her to cover a police press conference, and she is shocked when she arrives to learn that the subject is Clara, reported missing. Is it abduction, suicide or something else altogether?

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it. In Colette McBeth's Precious Thing.

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Jessica's Review:

3 stars. The premise was a good one and the writing was pretty good, but for me it was a little predictable and, sorry to say, a little boring. There was just a lot going on and it almost seemed whatever could go wrong would so it made it hard to feel any empathy for the main character Rachel.

Thanks to the publishers for copies of these novels for review! And thanks again to Jessica for sharing her thoughts on these new releases!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Disappearing Girl FAQS


Today I’m discussing my New Adult release The Disappearing Girl. Out of all my books, I get the most letters and questions regarding Kayla Marlowe’s struggles with an eating disorder. Here I provide some answers but BEWARE spoilers are posted.

What inspired you to write a book about eating disorders?

Eating disorders are a common problem that gets very little media attention. According to Anad.org, up to 24 million American suffer from an eating disorder with only 1 in 10 sufferers ever receiving treatment. Statistics also show that 95% of those who have an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 25.

Although you can find a handful of fiction books on eating disorders, I found many of them didn’t fully connect with me. I also hated that many of the books ended with one or more of the characters dying. Yes, you can die from anorexia and bulimia, but that’s not the only outcome. I had personal experience with an eating disorder and I wanted to translate those feelings I had in regards to food and weight onto the page.

Who did you model Kayla after?

Another thing I found bothersome about a handful of books I read was the unlikable main characters. Eating disorders can absolutely change your personality, but I couldn’t connect from the start with many of the characters. I wanted Kayla to come across as a normal college student who ends up succumbing to the pressures of losing weight.

What do you wish for readers to take away from The Disappearing Girl?

I really wanted to emphasize Kayla getting better on her own. Yes, Cameron inspired her recovery, but she walked away from the relationship to get treatment. I think it’s important to realize how important it is to rely on our own inner strength to get us through the hard times. Support is an important part of the process of recovery, but if Kayla went through treatment only for Cameron’s sake, she’d be more likely to repeat the same unhealthy patterns later on.

What would happen next for Kayla and Cameron? Will there be a sequel?

I wrote The Disappearing Girl as a standalone. If I did do a sequel, it wouldn’t be a story about Kayla relapsing. I just don’t want that future for her and although she would always be at risk for falling back into unhealthy habits, it was important to me as an author to give Kayla a HEA. If I did go ahead with a sequel, it would either by Lila’s (Kayla’s younger sister) story or a story featuring Cameron’s relationship with his birth mother.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing the book?

Some of the things discussed in The Disappearing Girl can be triggering to people suffering from an eating disorder. There is talk of calories, beauty obsession and extreme dieting. Researching these things was hard for me. It brought back a lot of feelings I had tried to repress. As happy as I am about writing the novel, it was an emotional relief when I finished it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Summary:

The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (Examiner.com).

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

I was definitely nervous starting Into the Still Blue. So many conclusions to YA trilogies that I’ve loved have turned out disappointing lately. The entire time I was reading Into the Still Blue, I was waiting for everyone to die or the book to end with no definitive answers. Although it wasn’t a HEA for all of the characters, I think Rossi did a wonderful job of concluding the series.

The beginning was a little slow for me and I think I needed some time to get reacquainted with the characters and recall the major plot points of the last book. Once I immersed myself fully in the world Rossi created, I really enjoyed the novel. I think the beginning was rough too because of Roar. He’s a favorite character of mine and it was tough to see him tormented. It tore at my heart to see him hating the world after the devastating loss he suffered in the last novel. The one thing I was happy about in regards to Roar was that the friendship between him and Aria continued to develop. At times it seemed like the starting of a love triangle and I was thrilled Rossi decided not to go in that direction.

Aria and Perry are equally great characters and I liked reading from their dual POVs. There was still romantic angst between the two, but they have certainly grown through the books. Less time is spent on their romance and more on the showdown between the Tides and baddies Sable and Hess. They are equally scary villains and neither came off as one-dimensional. Hess’s son Soren really grew on me in this book and he provided comic relief while Roar was brooding. The one character arc I was displeased with was Cinder’s part in the story. Although he was the savior, it was almost like he had a walk on part in this book. 

I love Rossi’s writing style and felt transported to the stormy world where Perry and Aria reside. Although her descriptive writing is phenomenal, I never felt like the story got bogged down with flowery language. Action scenes were exciting and the suspense had me biting my nails until the tension was resolved.

Although this book may not be my favorite of the series, I still liked it a lot and felt like the series ended in a satisfactory manner.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday and Updates on Works in Progress

Happy Tuesday All! I wanted to give an update on my latest writing projects. Here’s my progress and plans for the following works in progress:

The Memory Witch Sequel: I’ve written the first three chapters and I plan to resume work on it early spring. I was trying to write it at the same time as my current work in progress and I’ve decided the process wasn’t working for me. I need to write one book at a time to stay in the mindset of the characters. I have scheduled a blog tour for early March for The Memory Witch and will be posting updates on the stops. There will be reviews, interviews and a gift card giveaway.

Declan’s Untitled Spinoff (Second Sight): SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FINAL OMEN. I can’t leave Declan hanging and it was one of the reasons I decided to do a spinoff book with him as the main character. Kate is going to be a big part of his book as well since one of the plot points is the launching of their psychic investigation firm. Declan will get another chance at romance when they take on a new client searching for her brother. I also wrote a couple of chapters but will get back to the story hopefully early summer.


Falling for Autumn: This is my current work in progress and I’m really enjoying writing a standalone that falls within the New Adult genre. There’s definitely more angst in this one than my Second Sight series, but the characters have really come to life in my head. Autumn and Blake have their share of secrets and despite the strong feelings developing between them, a romantic relationship seems impossible. I included an unedited excerpt below =)

Falling for Autumn Excerpt:

The backyard of the football house was relatively quiet. Only people like me, those desperate for isolation, would venture out in the chilly weather. There were a half dozen students towards the back of the yard, gathered in a semi-circle, most likely sharing a joint while my presence remained unnoticed. I blew out my breath in front of me, mesmerized by the crystallization in the air.
The backdoor opened and slammed shut loudly behind me. Startled, I spun around. My beer sloshed over the side of my cup and wet the shoes of the guy standing before me. The motion lights had come on and I was faced with a now familiar pair of green eyes.
I shrank back and clutched my chest. “Damn! You scared me!” Actually, I’d been primed to kick him in the nuts. I didn’t take well to being startled, especially by hulking men.
“I could see that. I have a pair of drenched feet to prove your point,” he quipped. I almost rolled my eyes when I heard him speak. Of course, his voice would be as sexy as the rest of him. His tone was husky and there was an underlying sensuality in the way his mouth moved as he talked. He pronounced each syllable slowly, giving me plenty of time to watch his full lips move seductively.
I pushed down any lusty stirrings I felt and allowed my annoyance to take its place. “Maybe that will serve as a reminder to not creep up on someone.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said softly.
I expected him to leave, but he stood in place next to me. I cast him a sidelong glance and attempted to check him out further undetected. He was much taller than my five foot six inches and probably weighed twice as me. He wasn’t husky; instead he was broad and muscular. He wore a black t-shirt and his tan biceps were hard to not drool over. The t-shirt was fitted and I could make out the rigid planes of his chest and abs. It was the off-season and I couldn’t imagine how he could get any more cut during the regular football season.
Something about Blake was making me anxious and I gave in to my urge to flee. Without another word, I turned to go. His voice stopped me. “Why are you here?”
It was such an odd question. I laughed nervously. “What do you mean? In the physical or metaphysical sense? Like why am I at this party or why was I ever born?”
He chuckled, but when I caught his eye, I didn’t see humor there. “Why are you at this party? I’ve never seen you at the house before.” He spoke like it was an accusation.
 What was he the party police? His questions were rankling me. It was borderline offensive and I couldn’t get a read on his motives. It didn’t feel like he was hitting on me. Instead, he genuinely wanted me to justify what brought me to this party and into his presence.
“I’m going. Nice meeting you, I guess,” I said sarcastically and took another step toward the door. “I know you didn’t bother asking me my name, but it’s Autumn by the way.”
His fingers slipped around my wrist to stop me from going. I expected to hate the sensation, to despise the feel of a man’s hand on my skin. I inwardly cringed because I enjoyed it. His palm was soft and warm and he didn’t try to roughly hold me. Instead, it was a gentle caress that I missed once his hand pulled away. “Sorry…I’m being an ass. I’m Blake.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Guest Reviews: Me Since You, Side Effects May Vary and Summer of Yesterday

Summary:

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?


Jessica's Review:

3.5 stars. I read the synopsis for this and I had all kinds of scenarios running through my mind of what the tragedy would be, and it was almost a let down that it was what it was. I was with a cop for 10+ years and most of my friends are cops and I have a hard time believing any of them would respond the way Nicky did, so it almost seemed a little farfetched for me. The choppiness of the writing didn't help either.
Summary:


What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.


Jessica's Review:

2.5 stars. The premise of this story was a good one and I really looked forward to reading it, but I quickly got bored and I had a hard time feeling anything towards Alice. There's just something about her that doesn't allow you to like her and that's never a good way to start a book.


Summary:

Back to the Future meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Haley’s summer vacation takes a turn for the retro in this totally rad romantic fantasy.

Summer officially sucks. Thanks to a stupid seizure she had a few months earlier, Haley’s stuck going on vacation with her dad and his new family to Disney’s Fort Wilderness instead of enjoying the last session of summer camp back home with her friends. Fort Wilderness holds lots of childhood memories for her father, but surely nothing for Haley. But then a new seizure triggers something she’s never before experienced—time travel—and she ends up in River Country, the campground’s long-abandoned water park, during its heyday.

The year? 1982.

And there—with its amusing fashion, “oldies” music, and primitive technology—she runs into familiar faces: teenage Dad and Mom before they’d even met. Somehow, Haley must find her way back to the twenty-first century before her present-day parents anguish over her disappearance, a difficult feat now that she’s met Jason, one of the park’s summer residents and employees, who takes the strangely dressed stowaway under his wing.

Seizures aside, Haley’s used to controlling her life, and she has no idea how to deal with this dilemma. How can she be falling for a boy whose future she can’t share?


Jessica's Review:

4 stars. I really liked this story even if I thought Haley handled things a little too well. I was expecting more of a Marty McFly reaction to going back in time, but it didn't quite happen that way. It takes some time to get a good visual of the park in your head when the author is describing everything, but still worth a read.

Thanks to the publishers for copies of these novels for review!

Special thanks to my guest reviewer Jessica for her tireless efforts on getting me through my TBR pile!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #75

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and features books you've added to your shelves, both physical and virtual.

For Review:
Insanity by Susan Vaught

Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

Run to You: First Sight by Clara Kensie

Run to You: Second Glance by Clara Kensie

Run to You: Third Charm by Clara Kensie

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

The Hunt (Project Paper Doll #2) by Stacey Kade 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Young Adult Paperback Giveaway Extravaganza

Welcome to my blog's YA Paperback Giveaway Extravaganza! Enter for a chance to win one of these amazing books! You can check out the summaries below =) Giveaway ends February 4 and open to US and Canada. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summary:

Ten years ago, Quinn Jacobs’ mother made a bargain with a local witch—steal away Quinn’s memories from the first eight years of her life and in return, Quinn would spend a year in servitude to the witch.

On Quinn’s eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to leave her home and friends behind. For the next year, she’ll live at the Chadwick House, learning everything she needs to know about being a spellcaster. As her powers grow, Quinn begins to unravel the secrets of the past and the reason her mother was so desperate to conceal the horrifying truth.

Summary:

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

Summary:

It's the end of the world as we know it.

Trixie Collins is a normal teen making her way through high school. One night at a party, a boy comes on to her and won't take no for an answer. As she jerks her arm away, his fingernails cut into her skin.

When she finds her dog's mutilated body and realizes she's to blame, she starts to think maybe the zombie apocalypse they've been screaming about on the news isn't a hoax after all. Worse, she begins to think maybe she's one of the infected.

Now it's a fight for life as she joins together with her brethren to stop the humans intent on destroying them. Are zombies all bad, or is it just a huge misunderstanding?

Summary:

Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will come back from the dead -- just like the prom queen did.

While the town goes beehive over the news, Leigh bikes to the local cemetery and buries some of her mom’s things in her grave to keep her there. When the hot and mysterious caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh cranks up her punk music and keeps digging.

She should have listened.

Two dead sorceresses evicted the prom queen from her grave to bury someone who offered certain gifts. Bury them alive, that is, then resurrect them to create a trio of undead powerful enough to free the darkest sorceress ever from her prison inside the earth.

With help from the caretaker and the dead prom queen, Leigh must find out what’s so special about the gifts she gave, and why the sorceresses are stalking her and her little sister. If she doesn’t, she’ll either lose another loved one or have to give the ultimate gift to the dead – herself.

Summary:

Jake Reese thinks he’s just a screwed-up high school kid living in a small town isolated in the Arizona desert. Traumatized at an early age by his mother’s sudden death—and believing he might have had something to do with it—he’s allowed his guilt and lack of self-confidence to rule his life.

Hailey is the fiery little redhead that sees Jake as more than just a good friend. When she invites him as her date to a school function, it brings down the walls he's built to protect his heart, and sets off a series of events that threaten not only Jake’s life, but that of everyone around him.

The discovery of a portal on the outskirts of town brings Jake face-to-face with death and reveals a closely guarded secret about his mother. No longer is his memory of her the only thing that haunts him. Something evil from her past has escaped through the portal, and nothing will prevent it from trying to steal Jake’s future.

Can Jake overcome his fears to keep Hailey safe? Will the decisions he's forced to make destroy everyone he knows and loves?

And ultimately...is he strong enough to live with those choices?

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Reagan has a problem: She can’t remember what happened the night her brother was taken. Now, the dreams haunting her from the incident are becoming more intense by the day. All the while, the lines between what’s real and what’s a product of her paranormal-obsessed mind are becoming blurred.

Is she losing her mind or has she just stepped into a world she thought only existed in books?

Caught in a web of worried parents, competing boys, Wiccan relatives, protective amulets, and psychiatrist babble, Reagan must determine the truth before it’s too late.

Summary:

To the outside world, Anna appears to be an ordinary high school senior... 

Anna has a lot of questions. Should she pursue her desire to leave home for college and live out her dream of becoming a physicist? Or should she stay home and help care for her family, which has struggled ever since her father died in Afghanistan? Is her crush, Steve, really interested in her, or is he only using the highly intelligent Anna to try and boost his grades in school? 

These questions, plus the ordinary trials and tribulations of high school, distract Anna from noticing some very... strange things that are beginning to happen to her. 

For as long as Anna can remember, she has had a haphazard smattering of freckles on her arm. But these freckles are starting to change, and cause a series of unnerving hallucinations and odd side effects that only Anna seems to notice. When a strange shadow man starts to haunt her nights, she decides to go on a hunt for the truth to discover, once and for all, what is happening to her. The hallucinations continue growing stronger, however, and each new visit by the shadow man appears to become more and more threatening. Eventually, Anna realizes that she can no longer hide from her friends and family what is happening to her. 

But as she shares her secret with those closest to her, Anna never imagines that her very life, and the lives of those she loves, will be put in jeopardy.

Who, or what, is Anna?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Summary:
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Publication Date: January 28, 2014


Cruel Beauty is a Beauty and the Beast retelling blended with a hefty dose of Greek mythology. The world building was original and I never knew what direction the story was going in. The characters weren’t always likable, but they were definitely interesting.

Nyx isn’t your typical heroine. She’s resentful and pretty much hates everyone for almost half of the book. I emphasized with her plight, but since the book is intended to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I expected her to have more characteristics associated with Beauty. Nyx was more like the anti-Beauty and her complaining grew a little tiring.

Once Nyx began interacting more with Shade and Ignifex, the book took off for me. I liked the love triangle angle and how it played out. Shade and Ignifex are both flawed, but their vulnerabilities keep them from being categorized completely as monsters.

There’s a lot of mythology in the book and I sometimes found it hard to wrap my head around it all. However, I liked the mystery aspect of the novel and trying to figure out what tied Ignifex to the mythology presented by the characters. Ignifex’s history once revealed was a complete surprise that culminated in a very exciting climax.

The ending was a little confusing and I think another chapter would’ve helped flesh out the final quarter of the novel. I wouldn’t even have minded if things ended earlier since my ambiguity about how I felt about the characters didn’t make me require a HEA.

If you like high fantasy novels or fairy tale retellings, I would definitely recommend Cruel Beauty. It was interesting and unique enough that I’m having a tough time figuring out a book to compare it to. It’s YA, but certainly has crossover appeal.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Guest Reviews: Captivate by Vanessa Garden and Freak of Nature by Julia Crane

Summary:

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems.

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets..

Publication Date: January 1, 2014

Jessica's Review:

4.5 stars. This author has one hell of an imagination, that's all I can say. This story really grabs the reader and has you rooting for the good guys and I'm definitely going to have to keep my eyes open for the next book as I have to know what happens next. I want my own Marco or Robbie. :)


Summary:

Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

Publication Date: February 2, 2013

Jessica's Review:

3 stars. Ok, so the writing was fine and the subject was a unique one, but it was just a weird story and kind of boring. I just didn't really get it and it didn't make me want to read the next book.

Thanks to the publishers for copies of the novels for review! Thank you to my guest reviewer Jessica for stopping by today!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

Goodreads Summary:

Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?
When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her whereabouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.

Publication Date: January 7, 2014


In the Blood was a page-turning suspense read that will likely stay with me for a long time. The author took some interesting twists and turns with the story that made me keep reading in order to find out the mysteries surrounding Lana and her complex relationship with Luke.

Lana is an unreliable narrator and I loved that the story unfolded from her POV. I was never sure of her culpability in any of the crimes that take place around her. I was captivated by the way she saw the world and how self-aware she became over the unhealthy relationships she formed. My favorite scenes were between her and Luke as they attempted to best each other in the mind games Luke created.

I felt like Lana’s history was a much stronger part of the story in lieu of the parts about her missing roommate. Beck’s disappearance lacked the proper urgency and maybe it was because she was never fully developed as a character. I never felt invested in her survival. One of the villains was also not very fleshed out and the story ended with too many questions regarding his or her part in the story.

The book dealt with a lot of fascinating subjects including child psychopaths, gender identity and nature versus nurture while rearing troubled children. I liked the diary entries included and thought the author gave an honest depiction of a mother trying to cope with a “problem” child.  

This is a great suspense book for readers who like complicated narrators where the good guys are difficult to discern from the bad guys. I highly recommend the novel and I plan to check out the author’s other works.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter #2)

Goodreads Summary:

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

Publication Date: January 28, 2014


Her Dark Curiosity was such a frustrating book! It had so much potential to be a great sequel to The Madman’s Daughter, but the characters ruined a lot of the story for me. However, I’m still invested enough in the series to read the final book in the trilogy. I also really enjoy the author’s writing style and really love the feel of the atmospheric novel. Some spoilers appear in this review regarding The Madman’s Daughter.

I think my main issue with the novel was Juliet. I remember liking her in the first book, but she became too wishy-washy in regards to her relationships with the men in her life. I actually don’t mind love triangles but the love triangle in Her Dark Curiosity was just annoying when Montgomery returned to London. Montgomery was unbearable in this one and lost all his likability in my eyes. He was so self-righteous and it irritated the heck out of me since he deserted Juliet at the end of the last book. I prefer Edward and despite his major flaws, I love his tortured complexity and innocence when not taken over by his darker urges.

I did like the Jekyll/Hyde twist and the mysteries surrounding the King’s Club. I wish more of the book had focused on the murders instead of the romance. Hopefully, this will be the case in the third book. I really liked how the story ended and I think the author has the opportunity to finish the series strongly.

I did find the author’s descriptions compelling and felt transported to late 19th century London. I love the mood of the books and was thrilled seeing some familiar island faces in London.

Juliet is 17, but the series has a lot of crossover appeal. I will finish out the series and just chalk up some of the disappointments to middle book syndrome. If you haven’t read the first novel, I highly recommend it. It was a 4.5 star read for me and stood out as one of my favorite YA books of 2012.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!

  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #74

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and features books you've added to your shelves, both physical and virtual.

Library:
Allegiant by Veronica Roth

For Review:
Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Cured by Bethany Wiggins

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Meridian by Josin L. McQuein

Rebel by Amy Tintera

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: The Last Keeper's Daughter by Rebecca Trogner


Goodreads Summary:

Born into old money, Lily Ayres lives at Waverly, her family’s estate situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Paris, Virginia. She is a strange, small, almost mute, young woman who has no idea that her father has given her to the Vampire King Krieger. Walter Ayres is the King’s Keeper and part of a secret society of historians who unearth, preserve, and attempt to understand relics of long forgotten civilizations.

Lily has never felt comfortable in the human world, but after she suspiciously falls down a flight of stone steps, and is healed and claimed by Krieger, she realizes there is another world. In this Other Realm she feels a sense of belonging, and begins to untwine the mysterious event which left her mentally and psychologically damaged. When Walter disappears in England, Lily works with human and supernatural beings to uncover his whereabouts. With each new discovery, she is pulled deeper into the vortex of magic, intrigue, and dark desires that permeates the supernatural world. The revelations revealed unfold a story of deception and betrayal that threaten to tear the thin veil between the supernatural and human world asunder.

Publication Date: February 15, 2013


I love stories with original characters and The Last Keeper’s Daughter definitely falls into this category. The author created a unique world and a story that held my interest from beginning to end. By avoiding the typical vampire story troupes, the book really stood out for me in a crowded genre.

Lily was unlike any heroine I’ve read before and it made me really like her from the beginning. She has autistic tendencies, which gave her a unique perspective when the novel was told from her point of view. Trying to determine the root of Lily’s psychological and medical issues was an interesting subplot and I liked how gradually everything about her past was revealed.

Krieger was amazing. I don’t mind brooding and tormented vampires in YA books, but in adult novels I prefer the vampires to be more like Krieger. He’s unapologetic about who he is and despite his flaws I still liked him. His masculinity oozed off of the page and possessive vampires make me all hot and bothered (that quality is a different story for contemporary romances).

The plot moved along at a good pace and although there are a lot of characters, none of them were frivolous. They were all well developed and served their purpose in the story. All of the secondary characters were good, but I would probably say Hunter was my favorite. He added levity to the plot.

The ending had a few twists I didn’t expect at all. Trogner kept me guessing and I was shocked along with Lily over who was behind the murders and the horrors of her past. The descriptive writing during the concluding scenes was outstanding and I had a hard time getting to sleep after I finished.

Although there’s not a major cliffhanger ending, there were enough loose ends to leave room for a sequel. I’m looking forward to the next book and reading more about the supernatural world the author created.

Rating: 5/5 Stars  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: Phantom Touch by Jessica Hawke

Goodreads Summary:

Bridget White just wants to be an average girl, but the car accident that killed her sister took away everything normal in Bridget's life. Now she spends her days talking to unhappy ghosts and helping them move on to the afterlife. But dealing with death on a daily basis is too much for one girl to handle, so when she finds a way to get rid of her supernatural sight, she jumps at the chance. There's just one more job standing between her and normal. When a missing local girl turns up as a freshly murdered ghost, Bridget realizes she's the only one who can find the killer. Worse still, he's not done killing. Now Bridget may have to sacrifice her only chance at being normal to stop him from taking another innocent life.

Publication Date: October 28, 2013

This book had my emotions all over the place! I was laughing, crying and biting my nails throughout the entire novel. I loved Bridget’s spunk and the ending left me absolutely reeling. Jessica, if you are reading this, you NEED TO WRITE A SEQUEL!

I wasn’t sure what direction the book was going at the start. I have a tendency to skim book summaries in order to avoid spoilers (I hate book summaries that basically give everything away). I loved how the author took her time in revealing Bridget’s abilities and how they had affected the relationships she had with her friends and family.

The secondary characters were well developed. I especially loved Michael. As soon as Bridget teams up with him to find his missing sister, I was hoping for a romance to develop. Bridget’s friend Emily was irritating, but she felt like a very realistic character. A lot of the ghosts were great too with my likely favorites being Sal and Val.

The plot was excellent and I loved the story being told from Bridget’s POV. She’s snarky and tough when she needs to be. Along with ghost drama, Bridget has to deal with normal everyday high school drama. Her interactions with her classmates gave the book a very realistic feel despite the paranormal aspects.

The serial killer angle was scary and I felt for Bridget as she attempted to do the right thing despite everyone around her thinking she was crazy. There is also a touching subplot about Bridget trying to move on after the death of her sister years earlier.

And then the ending happened and I had a bit of a freak out. Bridget’s story can’t be over! I’m all for standalones but this absolutely needs to be a series. The ending was too open-ended for my tastes and I can’t move on without my darn HEA. I highly recommend Phantom Touch. It was good scary fun with characters I won’t forget about anytime soon.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: I, Zombie by Jo Michaels

Goodreads Summary:

It's the end of the world as we know it.

Trixie Collins is a normal teen making her way through high school. One night at a party, a boy comes on to her and won't take no for an answer. As she jerks her arm away, his fingernails cut into her skin.

When she finds her dog's mutilated body and realizes she's to blame, she starts to think maybe the zombie apocalypse they've been screaming about on the news isn't a hoax after all. Worse, she begins to think maybe she's one of the infected.

Now it's a fight for life as she joins together with her brethren to stop the humans intent on destroying them. Are zombies all bad, or is it just a huge misunderstanding?

Publication Date: January 8, 2014


Books about zombies always give me a lot to think about and I, Zombie continued this trend for me. I’m always impressed with zombie novels that aren’t simply gore fests, but instead make me think about the human condition. The author created a thought-provoking read by having the narrator not only be a zombie, but starting the novel before Trixie becomes infected.

Trixie was a main character that needed to grow on me. She came across as a little self-righteous as a human so I thought it was awesome when she became infected. As a zombie, I found her much more likable and was glad to see the author continue her theme of featuring strong women. I really liked her best friend Jack and found him my favorite character of the novel. One character I didn’t care for was Trixie’s mom. Her reactions to certain situations seemed a little unbelievable. For instance, Trixie comes home with scratches on her arms and says one of the boys at the party got too touchy-feely. Her mom’s response is to tell her daughter to be more careful. Huh?

The writing was good and the novel is well edited. It moved along at a nice clip and I never found myself bored with the plot. There’s plenty of action as Jack and Trixie run for their lives while the zombie outbreak becomes a showdown between the infected and the non-infected. I could tell the author did her research while writing the novel and found it interesting that she tied the disease to kuru. There were a lot of fun touches too like the creative chapter titles.

I did go through a lot of emotions while reading. I was angry at times and crying at other points. There were a few deaths that were surprises and I liked that there were twists up until the end. It is a zombie novel, so a few out there concepts are expected, but the teens Googling diseases and helping the CDC figure out a cure probably could have been left out. Trixie became a hero in so many other ways I don’t think it was necessary.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and I’d recommend the novel to fans of YA horror novels. There is some violence but I didn’t think it was graphic enough that younger teens couldn’t enjoy the book. I think the author’s recommendation of 13+ is a good guideline.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guest Reviews: Mr. Virile and the Girl Next Door, On the Rocks and The Moment Before


Summary:

Online virile.com dating columnist Dane Martin has no plans to give up his reign as bachelor extraordinaire. He has a reputation to uphold, especially with the upcoming release of his book Coming on Strong.

Holly Winters, everyone’s favorite girl next door, thanks to her blog of the same name, gives advice, but she doesn’t always take it. When she meets Dane Martin, every fiber of her being warns her to turn tail and run. Instead, she risks her future as an authority on relationships, jeopardizing her upcoming self-help book for women struggling to find commitment among the Virile sycophants.

Has the Girl Next Door tamed the most Virile man alive, or is she just another notch on the bedpost?

Publication Date: January 13, 2014


Jessica's Review:

4 stars. The story was cute and all the elements of a good story were there, but it was a little short for me. I would have liked to see more build-up to the bet that led to them "dating" and spent more time with them before they got their freak on in the bedroom. I'm not talking about lots of drama or anything, but I would have been happy to see more interaction between the main characters. That being said, it was still a pretty darn cute story.

Summary:

Six months ago, Abby's life fell apart for all the world to see. Her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, Ben, unceremoniously dumped her-on Facebook-while she was trying on dresses for the big day.

When the usual remedies-pints of Ben & Jerry's, sweatpants, and a comfy couch-fail to work their magic, her best friend, Grace, devises a plan to get Abby back on her game. She and Abby are going to spend the summer in Newport, in a quaint cottage by the sea, enjoying cool breezes, cocktails, and a crowd of gorgeous men.

But no matter how far away they go, Abby and Grace discover that in the era of social media-when everyone is preserving every little detail of their lives online-there is no real escape. Dating has never been easy. But now that the rules are more blurred than ever, how will they find true love? And even if they do, can romance stand a chance when a girl's every word and move can go viral with a single click?

Publication Date: April 22, 2014


Jessica's Review:

Grrr. I'm torn with this one. I guess 3.75 stars. Lol. The story was hilarious and I really enjoyed the subject matter as I find myself in a similar boat, but the story just kind of ended and I really was expecting more between her and Bobby. They really seemed to click and I get that the author wanted the lead to remain single, but then there shouldn't have been so much of a click where you were just waiting for something to happen with another character.

Summary:

Don't get me wrong. I loved my sister. I never, not once, wished her dead."

Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart, but they couldn't be more different. Popular Sabine, the head cheerleader dating the high school hunk, seems to have all the luck, while her younger, artsy sister "Brady Brooder" is a loner who prefers the sidelines to the limelight.

After Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident, grief unravels Brady and her family. Once recognized for her artistic talent, 17-year-old Brady finds herself questioning the value of everything she once held dear. Her best friend betrays her. Her parents' marriage is crumbling. And the boy everyone blames for the accident seems to be her only ally in the search for answers in the wake of her sister's death. As an unlikely friendship emerges, Brady learns more about Sabine - and love - than she bargained for.

Publication Date: January 14, 2014


Jessica's Review:

4 stars. This was a good story with a well thought out storyline, but there's just something about it that bugged me. Brady spent the whole story keeping secrets and not telling people the truth about her sister and then they finally get to letting everything out at the end and it was just rushed through. I guess I was just a bit disappointed with the ending.

Thanks to the publishers for copies of these novels for review! Also, a special thanks to my guest reviewer Jessica for stopping by today to share her thoughts!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The War Inside by M. Kircher

Goodreads Summary:

The end of the world is only just the beginning. So eighteen-year-old Thea discovers when her solitary life on a dying Earth is shattered by a mysterious dream, a devastating choice, and a strange gift that propels her on a journey towards the restoration of all mankind.

Thea is bitter and alone; a perfect embodiment of the sunless, cloud-covered Earth she inhabits. A terrifying dream convinces her to save the life of an injured girl, and despite her misgivings, Thea decides to rescue sixteen-year old Viviana. She soon learns that gentle Viv has a life-threatening infection, as well as a freakish patch of glowing skin over her heart. When this light spreads to Thea, she is forced to trust Caden, an arrogant, lazy, and annoyingly handsome boy she despises. Caden has a map to the last city on Earth, and the only place that might have a cure for both Viv’s infection and the strange light on Thea’s hands. As the trio embark on a journey through the barren wilderness, Thea and Caden try to fight their mounting attraction and discover that the light is not a curse, but a powerful gift meant to heal the polluted Earth and reconnect the remnants of humanity. What they don't know is that deadly shadows watch them, waiting for the chance to make sure that humans stay in the darkness forever.

Publication Date: July 28, 2013


This was a great dystopian based around an original premise. It was fun becoming immersed in the world Thea and her friends live in and following along on her journey. I believe this is the author’s debut and I would definitely consider her one to watch.

Thea definitely grew on me and I believe that stronger female characters are often harder to connect with at the start of books. Thea has her defenses in place and it was nice to see these defenses slowly chipped away at as the story progressed. I liked her relationships with the other characters, especially with Caden and Viv. I almost wished the author made Viv younger because at times she didn’t seem quite like a 16 year old.

World building was exceptional and the author really took her time to make sure the reader could visualize the harsh world Thea lives in.  Many of the descriptions painted a vivid picture of the environment. By mid-point, the novel really picked up and there was more action.

I think the strength of the novel lies in the idea behind it: environmental damage occurred due to society’s reliance on technology. With everyone going online and living in virtual worlds, the actual world collapsed around them. With the way things are today, I could easily see things heading in this direction.

Fans of YA dystopians will definitely enjoy this unique and imaginative tale.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the author for a copy of this novel for review!