Friday, December 20, 2013

{Book Review} The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor
Title: The Iron Traitor
Series: The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: October 29, 2013

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Blurb:

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as normal as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for; his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, normal simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.



Hmmm, so all I needed was a deep immersion into one of my favorite series to brighten my week. There will be people, especially after The Iron Traitor, who will disagree with me on so many levels I may lose friends, but Keirran may be even hotter than his father, and how I do love me some Ash. But... Keirran is broken in ways Ash never was, so...

One of my favorite things about Fey is the way they can be adapted, sculpted, and completely reinvented by an author to do anything, be anything, AND then be interpreted by the reader to look or sound or, again, be anything. What I love about Julie Kagawa's IRON FEY SERIES is the way she can shift between writing terrifying, monstrous creatures who cause my insides to quiver, then write a breathtakingly heartwarming, and surprisingly human scene the very next paragraph, and everything coheres.

Let's take Keirran as an example. While The Iron Traitor is told from Ethan's POV, I think we can all agree, the CALL OF THE FALLEN is a story about both Ethan and his nephew, Keirran. One human, and one Fey. Throughout the novel, Keirran shifts back and forth between cold, and sometimes sinister, to warm and sorrowful. Granted, Keirran is only half-Fey, he's been raised in the Nevernever, Mag Tuiredh, to be exact. He's born of a Winter Prince (Ash) and half Summer Fey Princess/half human turned Iron Queen (Meghan). A boy who possesses the blood of Winter, Summer, Iron, and human... talk about confusing! And all he really wants, is to save his love Annwyl from Fading. You might think with his extensive bloodline he'd have plenty of family and friends to support him, but you would be mistaken. Aside from his parents, he has a few Iron gadgets, Razor, and Ethan. Fey politics aside, the prophecies revolving around both he and Ethan are enough to keep most Fey far away.

The journey to stop Annwyl from Fading is plagued with trouble from the beginning. Keirran is determined to pay whatever price he must to keep his love alive. Her disappearing from existence is not an option, and how often do teenagers, even those not of this world, make well-formed and sound choices when pushed into a corner? (PLEASE, leave me a comment if you know one. I now have 2 and I'm not sure either of them will ever complete this task when not backed against a wall.) Lucky for Keirran, he has a trusty uncle who will fight with him until the end. Too bad they're both seventeenish.

Ethan, my dear sweet, naive Ethan. When will you learn? So, yeah, Ethan hears his nephew is missing. Meghan and Ash are searching both sides of the Veil for him, and finding nothing. The winds whisper where he's been, but by the time someone can catch him, he disappears again. Ethan gets pulled into the chase when Annwyl shows up begging for his help. Meghan also took time away as the Iron Queen to make a quick house call, hoping Ethan would have heard from Keirran. No such luck. And, well, if Ethan's going, then Kenzie's going too. 

Anyone see how this could go wrong? 

Did I mention Puck? Yep, you'll see him too. Guess what... they're off to see Titania to ask her to reinstate Annwyl into the Summer Court so her Fade will stop. Titania despises Keirran almost as much as she hates humans and Puck.

Even to obtain Queen Titania's consideration, the two humans and Keirran will be given an almost impossible task. A task they should probably think through, consult a few bazillion people, and then just not do, but as lovesick teenagers, they run straight ahead.  It's entirely possible that Keirran doesn't have all the facts associated with Annwyl's exile either. However, I'm going to go on and say... Puck could have hindered them some. Seriously.

Now, the title of this book is ominous in itself. The Iron Traitor? I'm sure you picked up on that, so I'll leave you with that thought, and also a couple of my favorite passages from this book.

"That's quite an offer," he said, lowering his arm. "But I think you're forgetting something."

"Oh? And what is that, boy?"

Keirran dropped to one knee, driving his fist into the wooden floor. There was a blinding  flash of blue-white, and I fliched, turning away, as roars and screams erupted around us. But a second later, they cut out as if someone had flipped a switch. My skin burned with cold, and I opened my eyes with a gasp...

"I don't sell out my family." - page 164

"This was different," I told her. "I wasn't forced to do anything. This was a choice."

"Yes, it was," Kenzie agreed solemnly. "You chose to help a friend. You chose to go along with this request because it was the only way to save his life. To save both their lives." - page 316

And the reason I will insist on reading Faery Tales to my children, and their children:

"But now—" the Lady made a hopeless, weary gesture "—we are all but gone from their minds. Our stories have been sanitized and made into children's tales. The Nevernever still exists on the dreams and fears of mortals, but even it grows smaller with each passing year. For those cut off from the dreamworld, we cannot help but Fade into nothing." - page 339
*While I was fortunate enough to receive an e-ARC from HarlequinTeen via NetGalley, this review is of the finished copy which was purchased by me from Barnes & Noble. All quotes are from finished product.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Book Review} Music of the Heart by Katie Ashley

Title: Music of the Heart
Series: Runaway Train
Author: Katie Ashley
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 24, 2013


Blurb:

For Abby Renard, the plan was supposed to be simple—join her brothers’ band on the last leg of their summer tour and decide if she’s finally ready for the limelight by becoming its fourth member. Of course, she never imagined stumbling onto the wrong tour bus at Rock Nation would accidentally land her in the bed of Jake Slater, the notorious womanizing lead singer of Runaway Train. When he mistakes her for one of his groupie’s, Abby quickly lets him know she sure as hell isn't in his bed on purpose.

Jake Slater never imagined the angel who fell into his bed would resist his charms by promptly kneeing him in the balls. Of course, the fact she seems like a prissy choir girl makes her anything but his type. So he is more than surprised when after betting Abby she wouldn’t last a week on their tour bus, she is more than willing to prove him wrong. But as Jake’s personal life begins to implode around him, he finds an unlikely ally in Abby. He’s never met a woman he can talk to, joke with, or most importantly make music with.

As the week starts comes to a close, neither Abby nor Jake is ready to let go. Can a sweetheart Country songstress and a bad boy of Rock N Roll actually have a future together?


How about that cover? YUMMY, right? I definitely thought so; however, the saying "don't judge a book by its cover" can go both ways. I'm always looking for a new series centering around a bad boy Rock God and a woman worthy of his unfettered attention. When I found this one on Amazon along with an average rating of 4 stars, I thought I'd found my next obsession. I never like saying I'm wrong, but on occasion, it's a must. And Music of the Heart just wasn't for me. At all.

Sure Jake Slater started out the book being all sexy with all his flirtations and his alpha male ego. His manipulating of Abby to stay on their bus for a week instead of running to her brothers' band where she was supposed to be provided a ton of potential.

Abby was supposed to spend a week touring with her brothers' band, Jacob's Latter - a Christian rock band, so she could decide whether or not she wanted to live her life in the limelight. Instead, she accidentally finds herself on Runaway Train's bus, in Jake Slater's bed to be exact. Jake is the womanizing lead singer of this hard rock band, and Abby landing in his bed would be the beginning of his metamorphosis into an upstanding one-woman man. And now the problems begin.

My first and, by far, largest complaint was the feeling of being preached to. I get Abby grew up in a conservative Christian household, but she spent the first half of the novel preaching to this group of bad boys about how they should treat a woman. How they should act like gentleman, not make sexual innuendos, etc. Essentially her goal was to change these men, make them into something they weren't. And not just Jake, but Rhys and AJ also. Brayden was married and loved his wife and children very much so, in Abby's eyes, he didn't need to change.

Now, I understand the idea of these books is to take a womanizing rock star and win his loyalty, but it's been my experience that most of these women want the guy for who he is. They have no desire to change his personality, only his promiscuous ways. And any woman in her right mind KNOWS better than to try to change a man.

Secondly, nothing about Jake and Abby's relationship was believable. She forgave every mistake, small or large, the minute he said "I'm sorry." Sure, some slip-ups can be forgiven that easily, but bringing another girl on the bus to purposefully hurt someone you love, no. Running after having a heated make out session with the love of your life. No. Ranting at said girl, telling her the only reason she loves you is because you are Jake Fucking Slater and kicking her out of your house when she's there to comfort you. Hell no. But Abby just let everything slide.

My final point is the numerous plot holes. Jacob's Latter, the band Abby was supposed to tour with, played such a small part in the book, I almost wondered why they were even there. Then Garrett, a singer from another band in which Abby sang a duet with, played no part in the book. He was a trope to play at Jake's jealousy, but forgotten within a page or two. For womanizing rock stars, we never see AJ or Rhys in action. In fact, other than Abby, Brayden's wife is the only other female the guys from Runaway Train even converse with. AJ was humorous, and out of all the characters, he was definitely the best written.

Also, one of my biggest pet peeves is repetition, and wow!!! The repetition in this book knows no bounds.

I will not be continuing on with this series, but I've heard great things about Katie's other works and will most likely give one of them a try. I sincerely hate having so little positive things to say about a book, but on the bright side I finished it. Mostly to see if there would be some kind of lesson about trying to change a man and how absolutely wrong that plan could go.

Friday, December 6, 2013

{Survey} Looking for New Features to Liven Up the Blog

I took a break from blogging during November and thankfully I'm starting to miss it again, but going into the first of the year, I want to add some features and I need your help to find out what you would be types of special bookish type features you might be interested in. I'm also going to revamp the blog. I love the gothic feel, but it's too dark and I want to make it easier on everyone's eyes, so be looking forward to a new, fun look also.


This is me this morning! Haha.

So here's a little form to fill out. It's short and sweet. After you fill it out, enter your name in the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $15 dollar gift certificate.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

{Kelly M Review} Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Title: Starcrossed
Series: Starcrossed #1
Author: Josephine Angelini
Genre: YA Mythological
Publisher: HarperTeen


Synopsis:

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.



I’ve had Starcrossed since the beginning of the year when my cousin bought it for me on my birthday in January. For some reason I never read it. I have a question, why is it always the books that you put off reading that end up making your top 5 book list. Now those who know me, know it is very difficult for me to bump something off my top 5, so it better be effing spectacular.


My 5 are:

1. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
2. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
3. Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini
4. Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
5. Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin



So as you can see it made the 3rd place and it knocked off Bloodlines which is quite a feat since we all know how much I love me some Adrian. See, I am a complete Greek mythology freak, to the point where I literally know everything about it –I blame this on my dad- and I RARELY read anything based on it. The only Greek myth stories I read, including this one, are Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and the Fury Trilogy by Elizabeth Miles. I loved Covenant but hated Fury, so it’s really a hit or miss for me but Josephine’s book is just absolutely the best Greek myth book I have ever read, like hands down. The accuracy and then her take on the myth freaking blew my mind.



The way it is written is just absolutely phenomenal, and I was jealous because in my mind I knew I could never be as awesome a writer as she is. She takes the whole Battle of Troy myth and she reworks it but in a way that stays true to the myth itself and making it uniquely her own. There is this cycle that gets repeated every generation because it never gets fulfilled and I will not tell you what it is because it is a major spoiler for the other books, so they people who took part in the Troy battle basically get reborn every single time but it’s not reincarnation if that makes sense? It’s just the roles that get reborn. I really hope I’m making sense but hey if I’m not then that’s a great incentive to go read the book, yeah? It even involves a freaking curse from the Furies!



ANYWAY I must say that Helen (I guess you all know who she represents in the myth) irritated the living hell out of me in the beginning because I really cannot take the ‘poor me’ attitude in any character/person. I don’t care who you are but you will piss me off. Thank sweet baby Jesus she snapped right out of it very quickly and I was able to see her grow so much as a character in the first book already which is extremely rare and I understood why Helen had to be like that way in the beginning so that we could see the strong female heroine she would become. She thinks she is this big freak but she isn’t, she’s really a Scion, now I’m not gonna tell you guys what this is, that way I can leave the spoilers to a minimum, although those who know Greek myth, will know what I’m referring to. She doesn’t know this of course because her mother abandoned her so she is left to find out from the mysterious Delos family.



This is where I introduce the wonderfully, amazing, swoon-worthy, yumminess that is Lucas. I fell in love INSTANTLY PEOPLE, IN-STANT-LY!!!!!!!!!!!!!



 Now this guy is so amazing that he goes against everything, the curse, his House (House of Thebes) and his family to save Helen from himself as well as his family from killing her and simultaneously stop her from killing them even though she doesn’t know why. He is a dark haired blue-eyed guy which is obviously my weakness!



He also has these two cousins, Jason and Hector who are at first very douchy but in the end you love them so much that you just want to be in a triple layer sandwich with them but all of them have to touch you, how that would work is lost on me but I know you guys will get me!



The girl characters are just as amazing really. Jason has a twin, Ariadne (strange name and I think the ‘d’ is silent but who knows) and she is just as bad ass her two brothers and her cousin, Lucas but we don’t see her fighting that much even though you know she can. Helen’s best friend, Claire, is the main source of humour really. I cracked up reading this girl’s lines and she doesn’t take nonsense from anybody!



Honestly people this is one book series that you HAVE to read there is no “ifs”or “mayby’s” there is only “yes I will now!” You guys do not understand the astonishing affect this series had on me. I read all 3 books in 2 days. Granted I had an episode of insomnia again but who cares when you have phenomenal reading material right? If you can get me to love your rendition of a Greek myth then I bow down to your awesomeness. At the end of this book I was like


 and Kristin was like



Friday, November 1, 2013

{Sentinel Blog Tour} Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Ah! How many of you are following the Sentinel Tour? Can you believe on Sentinel releases tomorrow? Seriously, like in 24 hours the Covenant Series will be coming to an end. I'm partially excited, but immensely nervous all at the same time. Some of my favorite characters' stories will come to an end, but it won't be goodbye because they'll remain on my bookshelf for me to reread whenever I desire.


I should probably kick my day off now. Better Read Than Dead is pleased to have been assigned Apollyon... which after Deity, actually relieved some of my stress and anxiety. 


How kick ass were Aiden and Alex? And Seth, well Jennifer wrote him perfectly. I slithered behind a pillow a time or two, scared for Alex, um... and a little for myself. Seriously. Eeps, and how 'bout those other deities? Wowza! Talk about some serious trouble brewing.

No reason to lie to any of you, but after Deity my heart slowed and a tiny piece of my soul lingered on the edge of perdition until I read Elixir, which only served as a mild sedative until Apollyon made its way into my tiny, but greedy, hands. You just cannot leave a person hanging like that. A friend borrowed my Deity ARC and she lives hundreds of miles from me - literally, it's a Texas/Mississippi friendship - and I swear I heard the book hit her wall when she finished. 

So, as Apollyon progressed, my heart kicked back into a normal rhythm and maybe Castiel visited and jump-started that tiny piece of my soul. Then when I saw Alex accept her role and the decision click in her eyes, I sang "Amazing Grace" as loud as possible. Heck, the dogs joined in and carried a better tune!!! Truth!

Let's talk a little about the disintegrated love triangle just so I can start some controversy. Not really, but it always does so why not embrace it? Most people don't believe me when I say that I had no team whatsoever until Deity. I didn't. I loved Aiden and Seth equally but for different reasons. 

Seth, until Deity, was your quintessential bad-boy. He smoldered with sex appeal. The longish hair, the tattoos (even though only visible to Alex), his snark, and his womanizing ways. Not to mention an ego the size of a tank. Then in Pure, he began to change his ways and to gain Alex's trust. Mine too, if I'm being honest. There's the really hot pool scene... *stares off into space* But then he ruined everything for me in Deity and not just a little bit, to the point he became completely irredeemable for me. Whether he was being manipulated by Lucien and his band of merry maids or not. HOWEVER, Apollyon might have proven my "completely irredeemable" theory wrong, or at least suggested I might be wrong. I seriously hope I am, but even if I am wrong, I don't believe he's right for Alex. I think too much has happened, he's wronged her in so many ways, and sometimes two people can love each other but be unhealthy for each other. Seth and Alex were conceived to be unhealthy for each other.

So you've probably guessed after that long paragraph about Seth, that I am completely Team Aiden, and you would be right. Instead of rewriting my reasons, I'm going to copy and paste a portion from a chat my co-blogger and I had after we had both read Deity and I made my decision.

I’m a sucker for the underdog. Okay, I know, someone is going to say “Aiden has never been the underdog,” but, in my eyes he is. He’s the Pure who’s not allowed to be with a Half because the powers-that-be say so, he loves Alex because of who she is and not what she can do for him, and he isn’t her fated “other half.” (I love a character who beats out Fate and Destiny.) Seth has sex appeal, his bad-boy edge, and he’s the freakin’ Apollyon. Come on! - For more of this entertaining and enlightening Deity squabble, go HERE!!!

And then you see them together, as lovers and as fighting partners, in Apollyon and how can you want them to be anything other than together. They. Are. Perfect. I'm seriously hoping Jennifer manages to wrap up the no Pure can be with a Half storyline in a way I would approve of. That's right, she must answer to me!!! Just kidding. But, no. Seriously.

Sentinel promises to hold truths both delicious and dreadful. Leave a comment, with your email, telling me what you hope to see happen OR are afraid might happen, and on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9TH, I'll give away 2 ebooks of Sentinel.

PS... Unless one of my lovely co-bloggers post, this will be the last post you see from me for quite some time. I am undertaking NaNoWriMo again this year and between it and worrying about my family, something has to be put aside... this time it's the blog guys. Sorry. But I'll probably poke my head in and say hi a couple of times, maybe even share a bit of my WIP... Kelly C is good about getting the Sunday Series up, but Kelly M is busy with college, so she's on hiatus for now. I'll pick a couple of winners on the 9th, stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 - It's That Time Again

For the past 2 years I've taken part in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, and I'll be doing so again this year. YIPPEE!!! For any of my readers doing NaNo, I love writing buddies so look me up - kristin73. Look at the bottom for a small blurb about what I'll be writing during the month long bout of creative madness.



Who doesn't know what this hoopla is about?

Okay, here are the basics:
You have 30 days, the month of November, to write a 50,000 word novel, or 50,000 words of a novel. 1667 words a day, every single day for 30 days. Jiminy Frickin' Crickets!!! Talk about a group of masochistic individuals. Why would anyone subject themselves to this craziness?

Insane, right? But here's the catch for someone like me, writing in a sprint makes it impossible for me to keep editing what I just wrote over and over and over and over... okay, well, you get it. Plus, I've met some wonderful, funny, talented people in those 30 days. The twitter word sprints are fun and challenging. And the pep talks by authors like Neil Gaimon, Rainbow Rowell, and James Patterson are inspiring to say the least.

What do you get at the end of the 30 days?
Hopefully 50,000 words that can be added to, then shaped and molded into some sort of novel. Yeah, there are some pretty cool prizes if you meet the 50,000 word count, but the best prize of all is knowing somewhere in your head you managed to create a few characters, dropped them into some creative scenarios, and came up with something all your own.

What do you do with this book you've written?
At the end of November, I would hope you edit before you dream of doing anything else because as much as I'm praying this will be the year that my NaNoWriMo work of art turns out perfectly and I can start querying agents, I'm dreadfully doubtful. After that, or even on December 1st, you never have to look at your manuscript again. Or you can edit, edit, edit... then stick it in a drawer never to be seen again. OR... you can query agents and publishers or self-publish. Heck, maybe just keep it around for friends and family to read (but I'll be the first to admit I've never let any of my family read a single word I've written, never). Whatever you decide, you get to know you wrote a novel!!! How awesome is that?

What am I writing?
Well, this is something I've never done before. I've never admitted to anyone other than my critique partners what ANY of my books are about, but this once, I'll let you in on my secret.

A talented musician has a secret he had hidden from the world... until he didn't. His fight with schizophrenia won. The world turned on its axis. The stage, the rush, the fame--it's all Holden's ever known and it's gone, taken because of a rash decision. Ironically, all his worst decisions happened during those sane times, like running off the only woman he had ever loved or deciding ten years of medications had cured him. Someone as talented and adored as the Holden Blake could never fall from his perch. Right?

A fictional tale of the real life struggles of people with mental health issues and the ones who love them.

(SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

{Book Review} Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title: Wanderlove
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary
Suggested Age: 12+


Blurb:

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.


I've read Wanderlove twice now, and each time the feeling to get up, find a back pack, and travel to Central America overwhelmed me. 

Bria, a freshly graduated 18 year old, decides she wants to travel. See the world--with her boyfriend, except, well, he was now the ex-boyfriend, so scratch that, she'd go with Olivia and Reese, her two best friends. But they bailed on her too. Determined not to spend the summer crying over Toby and fussing over which of her friends she would hang out with, because they didn't exactly like each other, she became A Global Vagabond... only better.

She boards the plane, headed for Central America, ready to explore the sites when a whimsy girl plops down beside her. Starling is flouncy and curious, friendly. Overly so considering Bria has not a freakin' clue what she's spewing from her mouth. What Bria doesn't realize is Starling is an experienced backpacker and Bria is only causing herself to look like a fool every single time she spoke.

Only one foolish thing to bite her in the butt, right? Well, not quite, but when Bria meets up with the tour group she's traveling with, they're all middle-aged and not at all what she pictured. Every single minute of their day is planned, the Vagabonds are filled with rules of where you can go, what to eat, who to talk to, so basically it was like living at home, only worse.

I enjoyed Wanderlove with all my heart. Bria's experiences, even the ones I shook my head at, feeling a secondary embarrassment for her--when Rowan invited her to dinner--were ones I wished I'd been smart enough to take on right out of high school. Travel, even by backpack. My family camped, I was no stranger to the wilderness. The time learning to take care of myself away from my family would've been some dang good therapy. Though I cannot imagine my mother's face if I told her I was going to Central America to backpack my way from one place to another. I'm actually smiling thinking about it now.

Kirsten Hubbard's words carved a miraculous world and filled the pages with beautiful, but sometimes, broken characters. Starling, the optimistic friend and sister who never let anyone flail, lost and wondering for too long. Rowan, the charismatic prankster who had had his share of fun and, equally, his share of trouble, who wears his heart on his sleeve, wove his way into my heart. Making me angry one moment and causing my body to shake with laughter the next. And Bria, the brave heroine. She's never whiny, and takes to the world of backpacking with the grace of ballerina.  

I'm certain some parents would not appreciate what I took from this story, but the advice I've given my oldest--and will give my youngest when she's there--is to really experience all you want in life when you are young. Travel, have fun, but most importantly, no matter how you do it... keep learning. Education, in all its forms, is invaluable.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

{Series Sunday} The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books






Synopsis:

Clary Fray is a normal teenage girl, until she sees an apparent murder in a club, and then her mother goes missing and she learns about the Nephilim -- half angel, half human demon hunters -- and that she is one of them. Clary will be thrown into a world of demons, werewolves, vampires, Fair Folk and warlocks. In the midst of this, she will fall in love, with perhaps the worst possible person...


Okay, I know most people who read this blog have long since read this series, but since I just blasted through it in a week and a half, I thought I'd do a Series Sunday and give my thoughts (trying to keep spoilers to a bare minimum). Keep in mind, I audiobooked the series, so a week and a half for five books is no slow pace.

To start, there weren't many twists for me in the first book, by virtue of the fact I saw the movie first. That's okay as it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the series.

Here are what I feel the series' strengths.

Characters: I have had issues with lead female characters fairly often, especially when she's a heroine up against the so-cool bad boy. I kind of expected to be irritated by Clary, but I'm not. I actually really like her. She does have her faults--and occasional bouts of horrible judgement or obliviousness (which I feel are more realistic than plot device)--but on the whole, she's well-developed and relatable. I care about her and empathize with her.

I heart Jace. The tormented jerk with a heart of gold. He's intelligent, surprisingly deep, snarky, but charming. He walks the line of too perfect, but he does enough aggravatingly stupid (and very guy) things while attempting to protect himself or others that he keeps (for me) from being too perfect. And don't jump on me when I say stupid.I mean it in a surprisingly good way. I don't find his bad decisions random or meaningless. They're real, believable, they're just bad decisions. Though I will say of the audiobook for City of Fallen Angels, the narrator gives Jace a Brooklyn accent that was sooo at odds with how I hear Jace in my head... not to mention quoting poetry in a Brooklyn drawl is just wrong. Stereotypical, yes, but true.

The supporting cast are equally as well-built and flawed, but in a way that works really well for me. Everyone makes bad decisions -- teenagers more than most -- but those decisions have consequences and fall out. I really enjoy Alec, Magnus, Isabelle and Simon.

Setting: I don't know NYC well, but I know that the author does. She knows in her mind exactly where everything is taking place and brings the city to life in a way that adds a great dimension to this world.

The magic: The magic system of the Nephilim is original and cool. The runes and the consequences of using them. I just thought it was a pretty unique idea. I really enjoy it.  Although, I admit, as the series progresses on, the overall magic of the world is getting sort of loosely defined and little free-handed (the magically-traveling house, anyone?) However, still really love the runes.

The overall story arc is pretty good, too. Not blow me away with it's amazingness (in fairness, not much does from a plot standpoint), but strong.

Things I wish I had a little more of: Alec and Magnus. I got my fill in City of Lost Souls, but I wish I had a little more to establish them earlier in the series. I (being the crazy slashy fangirl I am), adore them, but even I have a hard time seeing how they came together. There is so little that seems to be common ground for them. I'd just like it built out a little more. They're rather fully developed individually, but as a pair, less so.

A minor pet peeve of mine is pop culture references. I dislike them in my books, because I think it can so very easily date the books. They're fun now, but if I want my kids to read them 10/15 years from now... they may not get them (or they'll be really dated). Even a silly thing like Clary's flip phone dates them slightly, and the first book came out in 2007. Yet almost every instance of someone using a cell phone mentions it being closed--how many people do you know who actually have flip phones anymore? 

There's also a sort of continuity flub, almost. Isabelle is deathly terrified of anyone finding out Alec is gay, yet, once he comes out, it's a relatively minor event. Granted, there's a lot going on around the situation, but her extreme apprehension is at odds with the fact that there's virtually no fallout that isn't common to a mundane coming out after the fact. Alec isn't the main character, so taking time to highlight that may just not be in the cards for the series, but I would still expect to see a little more reaction.

My biggest issue with the books is: Spoiler


Overall, though, I'm really interested to see how this series resolves itself. It has far more strengths than weaknesses. I like Clary and Isabelle -- they're strong female role models, and pretty kicka$$ in their own rights. Simon is geek done right. Jace is Jace, charismatic and hard not to be drawn to. Although this is common in YA, the sheer uselessness of most of the adults is annoying (Luke notwithstanding).

Still, very worth the read, and I'm definitely looking forward to the last book and to the Infernal Devices.






Tuesday, October 15, 2013

{A Kelly Coffee Review} The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicles #1
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: DAW




Synopsis:

"My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me."

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature - the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.


I stumbled across this book while looking for something for my husband and I to listen to in the car (that was essentially kid-friendly for my way too bright three year old), that neither of us were at different places in. We've got a couple of series we're both reading but were in different places in them. We had a ten-hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted something that was about twenty hours. And I stumbled across The Name of the Wind.

The reviews for the quality of the audiobook itself were excellent--the narration was fantastic. I also have to admit being swayed by a quote from Game of Thrones author, George R. R. Martin: "he's bloody good, this Rothfuss guy."

Okay, so the audiobook is twenty-seven hours, not twenty. Still, I agree with Martin's assessment. The worldbuilding in this book is phenomenal. I just adored it. The setting, the magical system, the width and breadth of the cultures--everything feels so real. There's history, things lost, things forgotten, the world feels complete. I want to know more. I'm currently beating down my own tendency towards spoilers. This is a rare occasion in which I just want to read.

It's a different take--the infamous hero's tale from his own mouth. And Kvothe as a narrator is charismatic, magnetic, incredibly compelling. There's humor, tragedy, a real sense of the fragility of life and the emotions associated with loss and poverty. It's also great fun to hear the true stories of what come to be infamous tales.

Not only is the world a masterclass example of worldbuilding, and the narration fantastic, the character building is done with equal skill. Characters long dead you feel like you could know, they're just that well built. I think the synopsis covers the greater part of Kvothe's life, whereas The Name of the Wind really covers from ages 8 to 16-ish, childhood to the cusp of adulthood, when he begins to gain infamy. This allows school-age antics with a group of close friends to provide some levity in what can otherwise be a dramatic and tragic story.

And on top of all of that is the prose--the language. This is literature. The prose can bounce from playful to heart-wrenching, from satire and sarcasm to statements that seem like profound truths.

"Remember this son, if you forget everything else: A poet is a musician who can't sing. Words have to find a man's mind before they can touch his heart. And, some men's minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly, no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”

There is a care and a craft to the storytelling as a whole that is deeper than anything I've read in a good long time. And, it's something I strongly feel will last the test of time. As much as I enjoy contemporary fiction--even contemporary paranormal, I think a lot of fantasy has a longevity much greater because it doesn't involve modern element which can be so quickly outdated. The Name of the Wind, I feel, could definitely become a piece of classic fantasy literature.

So, go read it. It's awesome. I've got some other books on my plate before I can read the second and the third will hopefully be sometime in 2014. I can't wait.

Also, given the time period that most of this book covers, it almost counts as YA and it's pretty clean in terms of language and sex.

"Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a woman love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself.”





Sunday, October 13, 2013

{Excerpt} The Muse by Kenya Wright

Title: The Muse
Author: Kenya Wright
Series: Dark Art Mystery
Genre: Multicultural Romantic Suspense

Add it on Goodreads 

Blurb:
On the first day of her nude modeling job, Elle deals with a corpse, an eccentric dark artist, his sexy brother, and a grandmother that can see someone's future by just touching their hands. Although these crazy distractions shove her on edge, it's just what she needs to mend her battered heart and forget about her ex-boyfriend. Besides, she does get to live in their castle for the whole three months.

Everything seems magical and perfect. Until more dead bodies are discovered.

There's something going on at night, right in the artist's garden. Under the moonlight, young women are being cut and sliced, and no one has a clue to who's doing it. And the more she's around the weird family in the castle, the more she realizes that they all are hiding secrets.

EXCERPT:

We all came to watch her die.

We were distorted silhouettes against a moonlit sky like goblins or ghosts who came out at night, when the moon was full and welcomed wicked things to earth.

We surrounded her in a large circle, and she fluttered her eyelashes like an injured butterfly wagging its broken wings in a last attempt to fly. And similar to the insect falling to its demise, she lay on the wet ground in the midst of a garden, dying among growing things—carrots and cabbage, grass and fertile earth.

Stars glittered in the night. The moon glowed. A breeze kissed her flesh for the last time. It was beautiful in a way that was immorally wrong.

And then her expression froze into a picture, one discarded among forgotten things, except no one would ever forget her.

“I'll make sure they remember.” I took a strand of her hair.


Everyone nodded in silent agreement, and then one by one disappeared into the castle’s dark shadows where night met blackened air and creepy things whispered the most haunting words into the wind.


Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Interracial-Romantic-Suspense-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00FSHRH3I/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381542113&sr=1-2

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-muse-kenya-wright/1117087577?ean=2940148679493


Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sang the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life. Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.

{Series Sunday} The Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl





Series Title: The Caster Chronicles
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.

Kami's Website  Margaret's Website



Synopsis:

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. Mysterious, suspenseful, and romantic, Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption introduce a secret world hidden in plain sight. A world where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen. Sometimes life-ending.



So, I only started this series ten months ago. I got interrupted by the encyclopedia that  is the Wheel of Time and life in general. I finished the other three books a couple of months ago--and because I'm terrible at writing reviews for series unless I'm stuck with time between them--decided to do a Series Sunday about the whole thing instead of one-offs. So here it is.

When I started this series, I loved it. I was charmed by Ethan's voice and narration. The setting was spectacular, the supporting characters solid. It was campy in places, and a little trite, but I was deeply engaged.

I blew through Beautiful Darkness nearly as well, and still really enjoyed it. Maybe not quite as much as Beautiful Creatures, but still a lot.

I have no idea what happened with Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption. I really do not. I just know that I struggled to finish them--and probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been listening to them on audiobook (which, while driving, is fairly effortless). I just got lost somehow. I really struggled with Beautiful Chaos. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it was interrupted by another series (which, admittedly, was my fault). Maybe it was the turn that that plot took. I'm not sure. I just know, that when I did finish it, I gave it two stars on Goodreads. I disliked it that much.

I suspect things started falling apart for me when Amma goes to see the bokor. That's about where I allowed myself to get wrapped up in WoT. Something about that move, that decision, was just... I'm not sure if "out of character" is the right description or unexpected, but it turned me off. Badly.

Chaos never really recovered for me. I felt like it was predictable--and painfully so. I saw what was coming, and I didn't like it. I didn't want to read it. I wasn't surprised by the ending. I was annoyed.

I didn't really care much for John Breed, either, incidentally. And he becomes much more
important in the last two books. I've mentioned that character is really big for me, and it's odd, because John would usually be a character I liked. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't like him, didn't like the whole setup. It felt forced. It was "let's set up these characters together because they don't get to be with who they want to anyway."

Redemption didn't really redeem itself for either. I had read so much in the series that I felt I had to finish it, and it was easier than Chaos, but I still was left feeling indifferent. I have to admit to some really original ideas of death and afterlife in it, but overall, when I was done, I felt "meh."


Another symptom of my "meh" reaction is the fact that I didn't go searching for more information about the series and what would happen. In series, I am a sucker for searching out spoilers. I'm terrible at letting the intensity build and hanging on the edge of my seat to find out. I want to know more, and I want to know now. Even with the arguably huge cliffhanger ending in Chaos, I felt no compulsion to find anything out. As I'm writing, I think it may have been a lack of depth to the world. I just didn't feel like there was much beyond what we were seeing. While the concept was original and a new take, I felt a distinct lack of deeper worldbuilding.

I didn't understand the Council of the Far Keep, didn't understand their function or how they really worked or why. I don't think it was fully developed and it left me feeling indifferent. Parts of the world portrayed didn't feel real, didn't seem to fit to me, just didn't make sense.

You'll have to forgive the negative-sounding review. I'm much better at picking apart things I don't like than pinning down things I do.

However, in spite of the feeling the last two books left with me, I still really enjoyed the first two. The character building and setting are excellent, the concept an original take, and a fun, charming narrator makes the first two absolute must-reads on my list.

For the second two, well, you'll have to decide that for yourself. For me, I wouldn't have felt bad just reading a detailed summary--I don't think I would have felt I missed much.

So, definitely encouraging the first two. 4.5 stars for them overall. 3 stars for the series as a whole.


Books in the Series:

1) Beautiful Creatures
2) Beautiful Darkness
3) Beautiful Chaos
4) Beautiful Redemption 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

{ARC Review} Deeper by Blue Ashcroft

Title: Deeper
Author: Blue Ashcroft
Published: August 3, 2013
Self-Published


Blurbs:

Rain Wilson isn’t ever going to love again.

It’s a promise she made the day her boyfriend died in a water park accident, one she still blames herself for. Now she’s a senior lifeguard in a new town with a new pool and she’s just going to keep her head down and everyone safe.

Until a mysterious guy follows her into the waves at the pre-season bonfire and kisses her senseless. It’s just one mistake, and Rain is determined to put it behind her, until the dark haired, blue eyed hottie turns out to be her new co-supervisor Knight McAllister.

Knight is hot, tatted, and carrying baggage of his own. He’s not happy about having Rain for a co-supervisor, and he’s even less happy about his attraction to her.

But between lifeguard drama, hot underwater kisses, and a growing attraction between them that can’t be stopped, Knight and Rain are being pulled deeper into their pasts, and realizing that sometimes too much broken can make a relationship impossible.

Then again sometimes it’s the broken parts of us that fit together best.


When I read the synopsis of Deeper, I immediately pushed the request button from Netgalley and smiled like the Cheshire Cat when I was approved. Hot, tatted lifeguards, bonfires, oceans, waterparks... what's not to like? The names Knight and Rain definitely caught my attention. I think I'd melt at the feet of a lifeguard named Knight, seriously.

Short synopsis:

Rain left her home and moved to a place no one knew her after a tragic accident, involving one of her coworkers at the waterpark she worked at the previous summer. She felt responsible for the accident, and came to her new job determined to save everyone--the patrons and her staff. After all, a supervisor should be held accountable for everything happening during their shift. But what happens if when things go beyond her control? She's not one to ask for help, but she's going to have to learn to work with the most infuriating man she's ever known, her co-supervisor, Knight. Unfortunately, they met under less than perfect circumstances and he's less than happy to have her as his partner.

Knight has his own set of tragic circumstances, which lead to his need to protect everyone, especially females he cares about. And when you mix a person who is overprotective with another person who is willing to put herself in dangerous situations so others aren't hurt, well, the waters get a little rough. Knight also lost someone, his girlfriend who he loved. He's not afraid to move on, but he may have chosen the wrong person to fall for, because Rain has a set of rules she's bound herself to--no love, no sex, no life. Okay, maybe the "life" part isn't in there, but Knight believes she isn't really allowing herself to live. Maybe he's right.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed Deeper. The plot kept me intrigued, I needed to know what happened next. Knight interested me and Rain interested me. I enjoyed the suspense of each of their stories, for a while, but then I became frustrated. Pieces of their backgrounds are fed to us in flashbacks, but they're trying to be in some sort of a relationship while keeping their entire pasts from each other. No way will this work without some major damage being done to both of them, hurting each of them more.

Obviously, with only 3 stars, there were a number of things that didn't hit me right. I've read a number of NA books that use rape as an emotional heart string, most do it tastefully and bring it around to a lesson or to educate young women on ways to handle certain situations and how to go about reporting the incident and how to find counseling and so forth. AND, they have a single incident, not multiple accounts of inappropriate sexual contact.

Off the top of my mind, I can think of at least three, if not more, instances of inappropriate groping and flat out rape. And other than for the sake of building tension and putting either Amy, Rain, or young girls at the water park in uncomfortable situations, there was little reason behind the plotting. Rain had already done her maturing and growing between the previous summer and the current summer, so it wasn't like the incidences led to an epiphany and she suddenly turned from a weak girl to a strong woman. Knight didn't learn from his past mistakes and suddenly learn to keep girls who'd been raped from committing suicide, something that was never in his control anyway.

Also, the blurb does a horrible job of describing the true details of the book. Rain never actually had a boyfriend. She was never in love. In fact, one part of the book implies Rain meant to reject William, so all the misery she's put herself through is actually for nothing. So this was also a bit off-putting.

But, Knight and Rain's chemistry was undeniably hot. Even with Rain's "no sex" policy, their make-out sessions raised the hairs on my arms and put butterflies in my stomach. Their interactions always appeared sincere and very realistic. The friendships between the coworkers at the water park formed bonds and looked out for each other, the kind of place I would have loved to have worked, friends I would have loved to have made.

Final Opinion:

While I enjoyed the book, I suggest readers be warned of the numerous inappropriate and unwanted sexual situations between young women and men ranging from college-aged to adults. Knight and Rain are both enjoyable characters who have needs. Knight is hoping Rain can fill the holes in his heart, and Rain is refusing to let anyone love her or love anyone. Maybe they can help each other, or maybe they'll fall apart. You'll have to read to find out. 



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

{Blog Tour & Giveaway} Crest of the Blood Moon


Welcome to the kick off of the Crest of the Blood Moon's Blog Tour! This is the third book in Robin P. Waldrop's BLOOD MOON series, and in my personal opinion, the most intriguing and spine-tingling of all. Gen meets new friends, finds old enemies, and rushes to save werewolves, vampires, Rafes, and humans from the evil Laszlo is certain to bring should he get his way and indulge in Genevieve's blood on the night the Blood Moon rises.

Gen's matured since her days in Ties to the Blood Moon and she no longer just sits around waiting on someone to save her. She found her leverage and it's huge, something I never saw coming, and let me just be honest here... I've spent nearly as much time looking at these books as Robin has, and she still manages to pull an OMG and WTF from me. Seriously! And I have to say, this, of all Robin's twists and turns, has to be my personal favorite. It brings the tension to a whole new level.

We find out that people aren't who we thought they were, and that while all the lore rings true, there are ways around it. Twins of evil people show up and turn out to be pretty good peeps, twins of heroes prove to be traitors. It's a hell of a brain twister.

Robin throws plenty of shock and awe in the last few chapters. Her fight scenes are well written and gave me the chills when I read them. The romance finally comes to a head and we see what finally happens between Gen and William. Do they make it, or has the stress and the miles between them just been too much? This one I'll give no hints on, you must read.

And one last note, to anyone who compared Ties of the Blood Moon to Twilight, just keep reading, because Ms. Waldrop takes a swift and mighty turn that will leave you certain you have not just read another book about vampires and werewolves.

Buy Links:


Social Links





Blurb:

Inside a castle tower high in the mountains Genevieve is being held against her will. Can she escape her gilded cage and find the answers she seeks?

As Genevieve's birthday nears, time is running out. Who can she trust?

Peter?

Dahlia?

Or maybe a dark stranger Laszlo is holding in the dungeon?

Mistakes are made...

The race is on to reach Alaska. To gather the Adlet Wolves and find William.

Is Genevieve's and William's love enough to save them? Save their friends?

Laszlo is close and on the night of the Blood Moon plans are made for the All Hallow's Eve Ball... The Ceremony. The Sacrifice.

When the blood moon crests will Genevieve die?


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Author Bio:

Obsessive coffee drinker, unicorn enthusiast, batman devotee, video rock band guitarist, softball fan, rockin' grandma, voracious reader, and award winning author of YA/urban fantasy and suspense/thriller novels and short stories.




Tour Stops


October 1 - Better Read Than Dead - Tour Kickoff, Review, Giveaway
October 2 - Paperbook Princess - This or That
October 3 - Interpretations of a Part-Time Bibliophile - Author Interview
October 4 -
October 5 - Weekend
October 6 - Weekend
October 7 - Murder by 4 - Guest Post, Giveaway
October 8 -
October 9 -
October 10 - Margay Leah Justice - Guest Post, Giveaway
October 11 -
October 12 - Weekend
October 13 - Weekend
October 14 - Is It Amazing - Playlist, Giveaway
October 15 -
October 16 - Murder on My Mind - Guest Post
October 17 - Just Julie Blogging Books - Review
October 18 -
October 19 - Weekend
October 20 - Weekend
October 21 - Stacy Claffin, Author - Author Interview
October 22 - Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog - Spotlight
October 23 -
October 24 -
October 25 - The Book Rogue - Review
October 26 - Weekend
October 27 - Weekend
October 28 - Interpretations of a Part-Time Bibliophile - Review
October 29 -
October 30 - Paperbook Princess - Review
October 31 - Indy Book Fairy - Review
                           Murder on My Mind - Review

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