Monday, October 27, 2014

Book review: The Melody of Light by M.L. Rice

Siblings Riley and Aidan Gordon are survivors. Together, they survived an abusive childhood, and when a fiery accident incinerates all they have—except for each other—they survive that, too. The tragedy leaves them with burdens and pain beyond their years, but it also sets them free to forge their own paths. Aidan’s road to happiness seems smooth and carefree. But Riley continues to struggle, her only saving grace being a passion for music that helps soothe her damaged soul. As their paths diverge and college looms, Riley will have to depend less on Aidan and more on herself. Fear of failure drives her, but will finding love derail her single-minded determination to succeed, or will it open the door to the family she’s always wanted?

When she was little, Riley and her brother Aidan lost their parents in an oil refinery explosion. From there, their lives were pretty much nothing but downs. Their aunt and uncle mistreated them, everyone in the group home they lived in through high school hated Riley, etc etc etc.

This is about where I started having problems with it. Riley isn’t that compelling of a character, and she actually has a pretty bad mean streak. Not the ‘she’s traumatized and has a hard time controlling her emotions,’ kind, though. She, and pretty much everyone in the book, suffer from what I like to call Not Like Other Girls Syndrome. Phrases like “They’re so shallow” or “They look so generic” followed by “But we’re great!” are pretty common, from Riley, Aidan, and all their friends. It’s treated like it’s a good thing, that she’s looking down on girls that she doesn’t even know and probably don’t care about her.

It also felt incredibly over-dramatic. I’ve heard of mean girls, but the way she’s treated through the entire novel just felt like all the author could think of for conflict for most of the book was making Riley suffer at the hands of mean girls as much as possible. There’s not much sympathy to be had for her, either, because a great deal of the book is done in summary, saying ‘this happened and then this happened’ rather than actually playing out the events. We’re told a whole lot (including about characters, how they supposedly act etc) but we never see it.

I don’t know a whole lot about the subject matter either, but I have a feeling there wasn’t much research done into group homes and the foster care system, either. I just felt like in the real world, even with the horror stories about the foster care system, Riley and Aidan would’ve been handled a lot better. With Riley’s constant nightmares and panic attacks, she would’ve been sent to therapy a lot sooner than she was (she’s pretty much forced into it near the end of the book). The book also erroneously said Riley had night terrors, when she really just had nightmares that were often followed by panic attacks.

The romance was probably one of the better features of the book, but it didn’t really redeem it. Both of the girls Riley’s interested in have the Not Like Other Girls Syndrome that I mentioned earlier, which pretty much turned me off to the idea of either of them, if they feel like the only way to compliment someone is to put down others.

Finally, although this is the first thing that made me flinch, it has a Twilight prologue. By that I mean it has a prologue that’s literally just copy-pasting part of the climax of the story. I haven’t seen one of those in a while, so I thought the trend was over. I personally find Twilight prologues sloppy and a cheap way to try to drum up drama.

I really wanted to like this book, but I’m one of those people that doesn’t feel like bad representation is better than no representation at all. I’d give this one a pass.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book trailer: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy
Releasing November 11th 2014

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and return the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Summer Roommate Book Blitz: Guest post by Bridie Hall

Thank you for hosting me today and for letting me talk about my writing process.

Everyone has a different process of writing, one that suits their needs and the type of author they are.  Although I’m a bit of a control freak in general and I’d like to think I’m well organized, I’m not exactly a fan of plotting. A lot of my stories develop as they go along. Sometimes, like with My Summer Roommate, I even add characters or important events in the second or even third draft.
I start with a general idea about how I want the story to develop because every story has to have a point, it needs to have a message. I don’t mean an educational message necessarily, but there must be a conflict and the characters must go through a sequence of events that change them. So that’s my skeleton.

I try to write the first draft quickly. I strive to write 2000 words a day, if I can. I do as little editing as possible at this stage. When I realize a previous scene doesn’t tie in with the next, I’ll sometimes just write a note to change it during revision instead of changing it right that moment. So my first drafts can be very confusing to someone who’s not familiar with my thinking process. In other words, I write terrible first drafts. But I usually finish them in under three months.
For obvious reasons, all my revisions are extensive. Because I don’t follow a well-planned plot, a lot of things need to be changed for consistency’s sake and to nicely tie it all into a flowing story. So my first revision includes, but is not limited to, adding characters, deleting whole scenes (this breaks my heart every time), adding new events, twisting the plot into shape, and correcting grammar.
I try to let the manuscript sit on my desk for a while after this stage. A few months is best, but sometimes it’s only a couple of weeks if I’m on a deadline. I need to clear my mind of everything related to that particular manuscript, I need to cleanse it, so to speak, so I can return to the text with a fresh mind and a more attentive eye.

If all goes well (which it usually doesn’t) and if the story is approximately what I wanted it to be before I started writing it, this is the stage when I polish the text. This is the stage I like most, but also hate the most. I like that I’m beginning to see its final shape, that I’m adding the finishing touches that can make it shine. But I hate the polishing of grammar and syntax and all those more technical aspects of writing. I find all that tedious, although I love language and I certainly love to play with it – which anyone who’s read either Letting Go or My Summer Roommate will notice from the amount of puns.

Now is the time to send the novel to the editors, and I get to do another round of fine-tuning grammar and syntax and expressions – yay me! But at this point I’m happy to do it, because it means that the book is very near publication. Although I’m usually tired of working on the same story for so long, it’s very hard to let it go out into the world and into the readers’ hands. Every time I wait with baited breath to see how they’ll accept it.

You can buy My Summer Roommate on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

As part of the book blitz, each blog participating is giving away one copy of My Summer Roommate.  To enter, simply choose from the options on the widget below.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cover Reveal: #Nerd by Cambria Hebert

Title: #Nerd (The Hashtag Series #1)
Author: Cambria Hebert
Genre: New Adult College / Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 3, 2014

Two people from completely different worlds are about to be thrown together…

In more ways than one.

She wants to keep her scholarship. He wants to stay on the team. An awkward alliance doesn’t even begin to cover Rimmel and Romeo’s relationship.

But that’s about to change.

It starts with a dare. An initiation. A challenge.

Quickly, it turns into more. But when you’re a victim of your status, there is no room for anything real. The rules are clear and simple.

Stick to your circle.

And never fall in love with anyone on the outside.

Cambria Hebert is a bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair. She currently resides in North Carolina with her children (human and furry) and her husband, who is a United States Marine.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: Text, Torch, Tryst, Masquerade, and Recalled.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cover Reveal: Four of a Kind by Kellie Sheridan

Four of a Kind

Kellie Sheridan

Publication date: November 4th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Find it on Goodreads

The odds of giving birth to identical quadruplets: 1 in 13 million.

The population of Fairview, a town so small that all anyone talks about is the Fairview Four returning after fourteen years: 7208.

The chance of Reagan blending in with the crowd after a boy in her new town starts to see her for who she really is: zero.

Following in the footsteps—and all too often, the shadows—of her sisters was nothing new to Reagan. But after fifteen years of fading in to the background, she’s finally finding her own way. Amidst all the gossip and assumptions, one person sees Reagan for what she’s always wanted to be. One of a kind.

Finally feeling like she belongs, Reagan wants to enjoy every possibility her new life has to offer, but things aren’t going as smoothly for her sisters. How can Reagan possibly let herself be happy—or maybe even fall in love—when her family is finally turning to her for support?

About the author:

I have been in love with stories in all of their forms for as long as I can remember. Admittedly, sometimes that means falling into places like Stars Hollow and Sunnydale, but books have always been my true love. In early 2011 I began writing a book blog in order to share my favorite reads with book lovers. From there, the bookish community encouraged me to stop sitting on my own stories and share them instead. Since then I’ve been madly devouring everything I can about digital publishing.

For the past two years I have been mainly obsessed with young adult books, but my favorite stories still come from the adult fantasy genre. As far as I’m concerned, Briggs, Bishop, Vincent and Vaughn are all must reads.

I spent part of my twenties living in Galway, Ireland and swooning after various lilting accents but am now back home in Ontario, Canada. My family includes two Glen of Imaal Terriers and a Green Cheek Conure.

You can visit Kellie's website or follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book review: Populatti by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper

Getting in is hard. Staying in is harder...

Joining social network let sixteen-year-old Livi Stanley trade her awkward middle school past for the social life of her dreams. Because Populatti isn't just a social network. It's a club, providing access to friends. Parties. And Livi's crush, star baseball player Brandon Dash. Yet lately, online rumors have been threatening Livi's place in the group. And not even her friends are doing much to stop them. Leaving Livi to prove them wrong, and fast.

Before her life as a popster is over.

Received as a free ARC from Netgalley.

I feel like Populatti tried really, really hard to be what its author wanted it to be and fell horribly short.  Considering there isn’t a single review below three stars that I’ve been able to find, I was expecting it to be pretty good, but most of the time I just felt underwhelmed.

As you can see from the summary, this book is about a girl whose social life depends on a social networking site her friend made.  The friend, Crystal, is trying to get into a computer science program at MIT and plans to use the site for her portfolio, so a lot of love has gone into it.  Supposedly Populatti is what rules the social scene at school.  Unfortunately, I’m just not seeing it.

Does anyone remember the skit from The Amanda Show, The Girls Room?  It had a few girls hosting a show in the girls bathroom, and one of them was named Amber.  She always introduced herself saying “I’m popular!” and her friends would back it up (and even enforce it with violence).  But then it turns out most of the people in the school either don’t like Amber or don’t even know her name.

Now imagine an entire novel of Ambers, only the writer was trying to make it seem like they actually ARE popular.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing inherently against books that are about high-class people who are popular and maybe a little bitchy.  But these guys are sophomores in high school, spending all their time worrying about a site that boils down to an exclusive clique that even the book admits a lot of people see no value in being a member because they’re pretty much required to only socialize with other members.

That and I just don’t get Livi’s progression.  She was apparently bullied in middle school, before she moved to Golden Hill, called ‘drumstick’ because of her supposedly large thighs.  It’s implied she had no friends, and spent a lot of time alone.  And then in high school she proceeds to exclude and gossip about people who aren’t in Populatti, doing the same thing.  She doesn’t even realize it the entire book.  Instead of realizing that Populatti is toxic and getting out, all she can think of is that her friends would stop spending time with her if she wasn’t part of the site, not realizing that they probably aren’t actually her friends if that were true.  Sure in the end she realizes that Populatti isn’t perfect, but the ending left me underwhelmed just like the rest of the book.  There’s really no resolution to anything.

The writing itself is problematic too most of the time.  There are times when it’s great, usually descriptions, but a lot of the time, it’s much too simple, and it’s made clunky by the fact that the author likes dropping in brand names.  And, I usually don’t complain about the formatting of a book since it’s an unproofed galley, but to be honest, the formatting errors were way horrid.  Entire chapters would be smashed to the left, about five words per line, and often coupled with that, there would even be times when words were shifted around in sentences so that I had to read vertically to understand what the sentence was trying to say.  This book was already self-published, but it only shows up at print, so I’m guessing that since it was picked up by a commercial publisher, they decided to add an e-book version, which is what I obviously got.  But as I said, the errors were just a little too gross for me to overlook.

So yeah, this book was probably a little below mediocre.  As I said, it tried so hard, but it just didn’t get where it wanted to.

Banned Books Week: My Top 5 Banned Books

September 21-27 is Banned Books Week this year, celebrating reading and specifically, reading books despite people who want to censor what we read for various reasons, such as religion, or thinking that the books are inappropriate for children.  You can see a list of the Top 10 banned/challenged books each year from 2001-2013 here, and these are my top five from the lists, in no particular order:

ttyl, ttfn and l8r g8r

Lauren Myracle

Lauren Myracle has gotten pretty popular over the years; the first book of hers I read was Kissing Kate, which doesn't show up on the top ten lists, even though there's plenty reason for it to.  These three books were banned frequently for language, sexual explicitness and the fact that one of the characters is pretty religious, which pretty much covers the spectrum.

What My Mother Doesn't Know

Sonya Sones

What My Mother Doesn't Know follows the adventures of Sophie, a Jewish girl discovering love.  It's also written entirely in poems.  I loved this book as a teen and read is way more than once.  And, of course, it's on the banned list because teenagers apparently aren't ready to deal with sexuality.

Harry Potter series

JK Rowling

And what would a list of banned books be without Harry Potter.  The reason listed on the site is occult/Satanism, which is funny considering how much of a deal they make about Christmas at Hogwarts.

My Sister's Keeper

Jodi Picoult

It isn't necessarily a YA book, but because it centers heavily around a young girl, it was banned partly for being 'unsuited for age group,' among a laundry list of details.  Considering this book was meant to be controversial, I'd say Picoult did a good job, wouldn't you?

Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

And finally, Thirteen Reasons Why is a fairly popular book that deals with the journey a young girl experienced, as her resolve was chipped away and she finally committed suicide.  And, of course, the book has been banned specifically because it talks about suicide.  Whether you like this particular take on it or not, suicide is something that happens, and brushing it under the rug is a lot more offensive, in my opinion.

What are some of your favorite books that you 'shouldn't be reading'?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Evolution of Emily by Kate Scott

The Evolution of Emily by Kate Scott 

Publication date: November 18th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Emily Charles knows how to run away. Away from her overprotective, agoraphobic mother. Away from her biology-obsessed, autistic sister. Away from her quiet sheltered claustrophobic homeschooled life. When Emily’s escape plan involves starting her junior year at Kennedy High School, she realizes she’s no longer running away. Now she’s running towards. Towards her quiet thoughtful cross-country teammate, August. Towards her zany enthusiastic lab partner, Miles. Towards friendship, love, independence, and life.

Thanks to her sister’s special interest in biology, Emily knows all about the birds and the bees. Boys are a lot more confusing!

You can find it on Goodreads here.

Kate Scott lives in the suburbs outside Portland, Oregon with her husband Warren. Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child but somehow managed to fall in love with stories anyway. COUNTING TO D is her first novel. When Kate isn't writing, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and spending time with her friends and family. Kate also spends a lot of time doing math and sciency things and is a licensed professional engineer.

Follow her on Twitter or visit her author's site!

Kate Scott is holding a giveaway to celebrate the reveal!  If you'd like to enter, simply see the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: The Edge of You by Theresa DaLayne

He left home to escape. She made a new life out of guilt. Neither one expected to find love—but not even the Arctic can cool this steamy romance.

Maya knows she’s doing the right thing by moving to Alaska with her parents, but that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about it. Forced to give up a scholarship to a prestigious art school, she relocates to a Podunk town with one college the size of her high school cafeteria, all to help hold her family together after the death of her little sister. But a fresh start can only do so much.

Jake doesn’t like handouts and he certainly doesn’t need any distractions. Working on a salmon boat in Kodiak, Alaska is the only way to pay for his mother’s surgery back in the lower forty-eight. Juggling college courses and constant worry about his mother’s health, Jake couldn’t imagine anything else fitting into his life. That is, until he meets Maya, the sexy Californian artist who tints his world in technicolor.

But when Maya’s family starts to crumble and Jake’s mom takes a turn for the worse, will they drag each other down, or can they find what they were missing all along?

A free ARC was provided to me through Netgalley.

The first thing most people really notice about The Edge of You is that it does have a really unique setting.  Alaska is a far from common setting; this is probably the first book I’ve encountered that used it where it wasn’t some kind of wilderness survival plot.  And the setting is used well, with details dropped about it without seeming overbearing or too casual.  There are certain times when a special setting really does need more details than usual, and I’d say this is it.  Kodiak is pretty unique, and the fact that Maya is an artist worked really well, I think, because she’s the type of person that would have an eye for the type of beauty the island exhibits.

Overall, though, I’d say that the book was average.  The plot wasn’t anything special; a typical ‘broken people find love’ plot set against an interesting backdrop, and I found myself annoyed with the characters sometimes.  Most often Jake’s mother in the beginning.  I have a lot of sympathy for someone in positions similar to hers, but I just saw no reason at all why she’d stay with her boyfriend.  If he had spent even a little time taking care of her or earning money so she felt like she was dependent on him maybe, but he sucked her dry and didn’t give a darn about her, so I honestly had no sympathy that she didn’t just kick him to the curb earlier than she did.  Not to mention Maya’s mother was a pretty horrible person and her father handled things incredibly badly for… no apparent reason.  It even says in text near the end when he doesn’t contact her after she starts staying with Jake that he had no reason to stay silent.  He could’ve at least called and made sure she was okay.  He didn’t have to let her in on the Big Reveal.

I also found that the writing got really simple near the end, like the author just wanted to get it over with or something, which made those last few chapters a bit of a slog for me.

So again, I’d say this book was average.  I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I was hoping I would.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book review: The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

I will fully admit that I haven’t read any of the books that are apparently being compared to it, though I do have The Selection in my queue once I get through a bunch of books I requested from authors and all that fun stuff.  My first impression of the book was that it was a bit unsettling; I mean, why wouldn’t it be?  It seems to go back and forth on its impression of surrogates, whether they’re slaves or they’re girls who’ve gotten a great opportunity in their life.

I really did enjoy most of the book, mostly because the problems Violet faces and the ways she reacted made sense to me.  She’s torn on her life in the Jewel, one she feels like she should hate and yet, every time the Duchess gives her something for acting good and staying in line, she can’t help but think, “Well, maybe this isn’t so bad.” I have to admit that I didn’t really like the fact that she started right off with thinking how unfair it all is; it’s becoming a cliché in dystopian, I think, for characters to be Rebels From the Start.  One of the things some people seem to have a problem with is that she’s special, as in has “better” or “more” as far as other surrogates (as in her Augeries, in this case) but I’m one of those people that’s of the opinion that in a lot of cases, main characters do have to be special in some way.  If they don’t have special powers, or a “tragic” background, then they’re just some random person thrown into the events for no reason, and I’d find that boring.

A part I can honestly say I enjoyed was the Duchess.  I didn’t find myself hating her, even though we probably were supposed to.  She has her obviously mean moments, of course, such as when she threatens to break Violet’s hand, and when she has Annabelle drug her so they can try to impregnate her again without even telling her it was happening.  But in the grand scheme of things, it’s obvious that she’s not the worst person ever.  The reveal about what the Electress is trying to do as far as surrogates makes that clear, if it’s true (though I personally am a bit skeptical, considering the Electress came from the Bank, not the Jewel, and so wasn’t raised like the royalty).

One of the problems I did have with the book, however, is the “instalove.” As in she’s in love with Ash as soon as she meets him.  And I was actually fine with quite a lot of the book after they met, however… I couldn’t help but slam my head on the nearest hard surface sometimes.  When she sees him and Carnelian kissing in the ballroom, for instance, even after she heard during that very first encounter that he might be obligated to kiss her or even have sex with her, if that’s what she wishes, she freaks out and thinks that he’s a traitor.  I mean, seriously?  I know you’re smarter than that, Violet.  It seemed like it was just put in there to create drama and, in the end, the same ending could’ve been achieved by a lot of other means.

Also the ending is a cliffhanger and the worst kind too, where you’re left thinking “Where’s the rest?” as in “That’s more like the end of a chapter not a book,” and people who’ve read some of my past reviews would know I hate that device.  It doesn’t stop me from being interested in the next books, but I still hate it because I find it sloppy.

Still, I think it’s worth a shot, so happy reading!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read to help book bloggers get to know each other and spread the following love around.  Each week there's a question or activity.

Question of the Week: Before blogging (dark times people!) how would you find out about new books or did you?

Honestly?  I mostly just trawled my local library for books that they got in new.  They were pretty good at getting new ones in, at least from authors they already carried, and even if the book wasn't new (as in it came out within the last month) it was new to me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book review: The Rules of Regret by Megan Squires

“Life doesn’t come with a blueprint, which makes it hard to have any plans.”

Nineteen-year-old Darby Duncan is finally on her own. Her boyfriend of six years just left for a high-powered summer internship, though in reality he’s been absent for much longer than that. This newfound freedom wasn’t a part of Darby’s plans, but as she’s come to discover, plans only exist on paper, not in reality.

And guys like Torin Westbrook aren’t supposed to exist in reality, either. But he does, with his disheveled curly hair, irresistible dimples, and endearingly quirky habit of reciting quotes from classic movies and ancient thinkers. When Darby meets Torin as a fellow counselor at the survival camp she impulsively applies to, she’s certain his main goal is to turn her world upside-down. 

But Darby’s not sure she can adapt to Torin’s ways of viewing his past and the tragedies he's faced. Because she’s had her own share of heartache, too, and as much as she wants to believe that it’s all been for a purpose, her grief hasn’t allowed her to get to that point. Yet the more Darby is around Torin, the more she craves the freedom to break out of her carefully constructed routine and mindset and fall into something new. 

She’s just not sure that she should be falling for Torin along the way.

I read one of Squires’ books back in January, one that she wrote later.  The Rules of Regret was her second book, I believe, and I can confidently say that she improved between this one and Draw Me In.

The Rules of Regret is about Darby, who’s left alone for the first time in her life when her boyfriend of six years goes to an internship in Washington, DC.  Rather than moping around and letting the highlight of her summer be repainting her apartment, she decides to take a job at a summer camp so she can raise money and go see Lance as a surprise.

To Squires’ credit, the book does start out okay.  But by the time she gets to camp, I feel like she tried to fit too much in and ignored some things that she should’ve had in.  Suddenly Darby’s relationship has been on the rocks for years, Lance is a horrible cheater, and Darby is immediately attracted to Torin.  I found myself rolling my eyes at how fast she went from “He’s so annoying” to “OMG I want to sleep with him.” It just made Darby seem shallow to me.  Not to mention, the entire book is filled with heavy-handed scenes that just kind of made me roll my eyes.  For instance, on their overnighter, Torin mentions how religious he is.  I felt like it came straight out of left field, and it’s never even mentioned again, except for in passing by Darby, and not in reference to him.

I also really hated that Darby’s time at camp is treated with a time skip.  We never get to meet any of her cabin members or any other campers when, in my opinion, it could’ve been a much better way for Darby to come to terms with herself than what actually happened.  Instead we’re rushed right to her trip to DC to see Lance.  It just seems to me that Squires was focusing on the wrong way to tell the story.

There were certain passages and things I enjoyed about the book, but it wasn’t enough to really bring it up to average in my mind.  Which makes me glad that the author improved for her next book.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book review: The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations? 

Received from NetGalley in return for a review.

The Tyrant’s Daughter might seem like it’s trying to be an issue book at first, and I’d say that it is.  It’s a big issue book, dealing with a lot of different things at once.  There’s the big plot, of course, of the main character and her family escaping from their country in the midst of a rebellion, but then it gets down to the fact that their culture is nothing like ours.

They’re outsiders in a land that is so different from their own, and it’s a little uncomfortable reading it.  Not a bad uncomfortable, but I think it’s what the author was trying to accomplish with it: that even if someone is willing to learn and try to assimilate into a new culture, there’s always something about it that they just can’t get used to.  Laila protests fitting in at first, but when she realizes that she’s being just as judgmental of her possible friends as many people are of her, she relaxes.

Of course all of this is happening while Laila is slowly learning that her family’s position in their country wasn’t what she thought it was.  She had been brought up believing that they’re royalty, when it was really a dictatorship.  While some might say that it would be hard to believe that she had never even suspected it, it reads as pretty believable to me.  And the fact that she gets swept up in the affairs the government agent is trying to get her mother to be a part of just makes it easier to believe that Laila would be easily fooled.  She was brought up sheltered, even on those trips to France that she lovingly describes.

The ending, while I won’t give spoilers, is bittersweet and fits, I think.  The entire book is a pretty interesting ride, and I believe Carleson succeeded in showing us a story about a displaced girl trying to find her way.  So, happy reading!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer Smith

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it. 

Received a free copy from Netgalley.

This book… where do I begin?  I loved it.  And I’d recommend it to anyone who asks, and even people who don’t.  I found it clever and light, with just enough conflict to keep things tied together and not make it one of those random, light novels about, essentially, nothing.  I loved the idea of ‘would this have happened if xyz?’ because it’s something people think about quite a lot.  So I loved the love story part of it, as well as the twists associated with it.

What brought this book down a bit was Hadley herself.  Well one I was never big on ‘unique’ names for protags because more often than not, it makes it look like the author is trying too hard.  Another thing is that, while it’s completely understandable that Hadley is torn up about her father leaving, especially under the circumstances he did, it seems to me that she spends way too much time just being whiney about it.  Teenagers aren’t expected to be reasonable, but I had a hard time feeling anything but annoyance towards her when she went into another ‘my dad is so horrible for leaving ugh why do I have to do this it’s so unfair’ tirade.

Still, it’s a good book and a fast read so it’s up there on my good books to rec list.  So happy reading!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book review: Fable (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #3) by Chanda Hahn

All that glitters is not gold.

When something precious is stolen from sixteen-year-old Mina Grime, she will do anything in her power to get it back, even if it means traveling to the dangerous Fae plane and battling one of the strongest fairy-tale villains yet.

However, nothing can prepare Mina for the dangerous obstacles she will face in the Fae world, or the choices she must make when love and life are on the line.

And here we have the third book in the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series.  I read reviews for it after I finished it, mostly because I was curious what people would say, but didn’t want it ruined for me (I do this for a lot of books I’ve just finished reading, actually).  Anyway, it seems that a lot of people didn’t like this entry in the series.  But you know what I also noticed?  People who didn’t like this one liked the previous books.  And as you’ll know if you’ve read my previous reviews for the books, they aren’t that great, as far as I’m concerned.

This time the action really gets started.  Mina experiences a tragedy very early in the book in the form of a fire in the building she lives in, which everyone believes claimed her younger brother.  Pretty early on she finds out that he’s in fact been kidnapped, orchestrating another tale after she was avoiding them on purpose all summer.  The book isn’t perfect, I don’t think, but it definitely shows leaps and bounds of improvement for Hahn and her writing.  I actually enjoyed a good majority of it, especially near the end when everything starts being revealed and the stakes for the final book are set.  It’s different from the last two books, and that’s probably why reviewers who enjoyed the first two don’t like it, but I personally think it’s much, much better.

I just wish that Hahn had started off this strong.  When the final book comes out I’ll probably be looking for it, though.  So, happy reading!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book review: Diamonds Are a Teen's Best Friend (Living Blond #1) by Allison Rushby

Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe's No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she's relocating in movie-star style - crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn't for the fact that she's bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride. (Dad's specialisation: human mating rituals - need Nessa say more?) Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that's five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles - star of stage, screen and – DVD. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa's favourite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

As Holly Isles, world-famous actress, confides in Nessa over mocktails.

As Nessa coaches Holly in the amazing 'Nessa's Lessons in Love' - the ultimate man-catching rules to finding true and lasting lurv.

Nessa fall for Holly's too-cute nephew, Marc.

And – cover your eyes!
As it all goes terribly, horribly, embarrassingly wrong.

There's no doubting it. This is going to be one pitchy crossing.

Received as a free ARC from NetGalley.

Diamonds Are a Teen’s Best Friend is one of those books that seems like it should be for younger people (maybe classified as a middle-grade book instead of young adult) but it’s really not.  I mean it could be, but it’s not dumbed-down like a lot of middle-grade books tend to be when dealing with some of the issues this one does.

There are a lot of clever things about this book.  Of course there’s the whole thing with Nessa’s obsession with Marilyn Monroe, and the acknowledgement that it might be that she just wants a ‘friend’ who can stay with her while she and her father travel around the world so much.  And Nessa’s point of view was, for the most part, pretty entertaining.  She’s overly-naïve, though, and it becomes irritating when she misses obvious things that the reader got a long time ago.

There are also things here and there that the author seems to just skip over.  For instance, when the book says Nessa and Marc had become friends, I’m just sitting here thinking “When?” It’s not even that anything was skipped over; because the cruise is several days, rather than the book taking place over the span of a few months for instance, the time skips aren’t that long.  And it’s not even that Nessa just assumes they’re friends; Marc is really disappointed in her when he finds out about the whole Nessa’s Lessons in Love thing and says he thought she was better than that.  It’s a weakness in the book that tugs it away from being as good as it might have been.

Despite that the book is pretty good, something I’d recommend to others without hesitation.  So happy reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book review: Disconnected by Lisa Cronkhite

Seventeen-year-old Milly has a huge problem on her hands.  She is being bullied by Amelia Norris. Day in and day out, Amelia torments Milly and even threatens to hurt her, but she can’t tell anyone—not a soul.  Milly’s reasoning—she does not want anyone to know where her tormentor lives.  They only share one thing in common.  Both co-exist as one in the same body. Milly is so disconnected from her past that she feels compelled to find out what truly happened to her when her parents were still alive.  After a mysterious fire, she and Grandpa George move into Aunt Rachel's Victorian home where Milly then begins to unravel puzzling clues to her family history. Through dreams and scattered memories, Milly journals her breaking story, trying to cope by putting the shattered pieces back together, all the while resisting with her inner demon.  Amelia is determined to cut Milly out of the real world—literally. Milly starts to wonder who her real family is after stumbling across Aunt Rachel’s notebook—having the intuitive sense that something terribly awful is missing.  All she had thought to be true now seems like one big lie.

Disconnected follows the trend that started showing up in YA a while ago of rather introspective books that are more about the main character and how his or her mind works with the mental illness they have than really have a plot.  In this way it’s kind of iffy, because the writing is unclear in a way that has nothing to do with Millie’s confusion over who she is and how Amelia is actually a part of her, not a separate person.  The writing is murky and doesn’t feel complete in the way that a rough draft would, not because it’s told from the point of view of someone whose mind isn’t “right.”

This book differs from others of its kind because it does attempt to have a plot outside of Millie’s mental illness, but it’s a little… bizarre.  It feels more like a soap opera than a YA book, but I suppose that that’s where the genre is sometimes heading, with its flare for dramatics and such.  I will give the author credit and say she manages to do some foreshadowing that isn’t ‘drop it right in your face’ obvious, though, so she at least tried to connect the plot throughout the book instead of having it dropped on us at the end.

I really have nothing else to say, though.  The book wasn’t necessarily BAD but most of it was unremarkable and didn’t stand out that much to me.  So an eh book.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book review: Fairest (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #2) by Chanda Hahn

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,
Who is the Fairest of them all?

In the sequel to UnEnchanted, Mina Grime discovers that all is not fair when it comes to the Fae and their tales, especially when they don’t all play by the rules. Barely surviving the Story’s first fairy tale quest, Mina still has hundreds to go before she can end the curse on her family. But a new player arises to challenge Mina while new rules revamp the game she has just barely begun to understand.

All the while, people are mysteriously disappearing, including Jared, whom Mina must finally determine to be friend or foe. And with the loss of her greatest weapon, Mina must try to outwit a deadly hunter. Can Mina survive the most difficult quest yet while protecting those she loves from falling victim to one of the lethal tales of all? Or will she become a pawn when she strikes a bargain with the Queen of Fae?

Fairest is the second book in the Unfortunate Fairytale series, and if you’ve read my review of the first book, you could see that I wasn’t all that impressed.  The first book is one of the top free books on Amazon, hence why I saw it in the first place, and I kind of felt like that was the only reason people got it: it was free.  But I couldn’t help but want to see where things went from there, so I have the other two books that are out.

This one is slightly better.  In terms of the story, anyway.  Things connect better, there’s foreshadowing that makes it feel more like things happen for a reason than they’re just thrown around as plot devices, and it’s just all around better.  Mina’s still annoying, but the fact that she’s cast as the villain in the major tales in this book shows Hahn’s giving it a try to make it interesting rather than everything just going well for Mina.

Unfortunately the story being better doesn’t excuse the fact that it still is a chore to read.  The writing itself is simple and I felt like no one had bothered to go through and edit it on even the most basic level.  Seriously, it was a chore to read at times because of all the mistakes.  It might not be so bad for someone who isn’t as picky, but, well, I’m a writer and so it is for me.  Because of this, it gets a pretty low rating.  Not only because the editing is bad, but because the mistakes are so simple and basic (dialog formatting, anyone?) that I find it lazy that she left them in for the final version.

So yeah still not a great book but I’ll be trudging through the third soon on principle.  Happy reading if you choose to check them out yourself.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

The Moon and More is the latest book from Sarah Dessen, taking place in Colby, a fictional town that’s been used or mentioned in a lot of her books.  One thing I noticed right away is that the book mentions Colby is an island community, connected by a bridge to the mainland.  I don’t recall it ever being mentioned in the other books that use it, so while it’s kind of nitpicky, I kind of got thrown-off by that since I’d assumed in the past that it was a coastal community.

The book itself succeeds as Dessen’s books always do, however.  The characters are well-developed and have their own personalities and lives, rather than simply living within the context of the book’s plate.  There are certain things about them that could’ve been introduced earlier, such as Emaline’s tendency to go to the gym when she wakes up early.  And I’d also like to congratulate Dessen on working with a plot point that usually annoys me: the love interest became extremely annoying, but rather than Emaline going along with it, or it being unintentional on the author’s part and therefore ignored, it was meant to be that way and Emaline broke up with him rather than going along with it and losing her own identity.

The biggest criticism of the book would probably be that the writing gets repetitive when there’s a lot of dialog.  Dessen formats it the exact same way several times in a row, in a way that’s supposed to be different and quirky but just gets annoying because she keeps using it.

Still a solid read, though, so one I’d say you should pick up.  Happy reading!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

Received from NetGalley.

Roomies is a dual-narrative story from the point of view of two girls who are going to be roommates after the summer ends and they start college.  Lauren, from San Francisco with her huge family, and Elizabeth (EB) from New Jersey, with her single mother and love of landscaping.  The book itself is smooth and enjoyable, not to mention a quick read.  The two narratives flow together well, between the emails they share and the things that happen to them as they count down the days towards moving-in to their dorm room together.

The two girls are pretty different, avoiding a common problem that books with more than one narrator have: both of them sounding too similar to each other.  Since the book has two authors I’m guessing each wrote one of the girls.  I really enjoyed them both, although Lauren’s narrative was a little annoying because the text is pretty huge.  I realize that they might have just wanted to have a visual difference between the two girls, but it was kind of ugly to look at, and unnecessary considering it switched between the two every chapter so you knew who to expect for a new one.

The only thing I’d really have to complain about is that EB is overdramatic more than once.  It seems less a character flaw and more a plot device to put conflict between the girls, where there would probably be very little since they only talk through email.  She goes into some things expecting to be offended, and takes however Lauren reacts to her news or tells her things the wrong way, making her upset and wanting to ask for a new roommate.  The second time this happens she’s called out for it and realizes that she was being stupid, but it still seems stiff and unnecessary.  Neither time really adds anything to the story that seems vital and they could easily be taken out or replaced with her being upset in real life, rather than at Lauren.

Overall, though, it’s a great book, and one I’d recommend.  So, happy reading!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book review: Cursed (Voodoo Nights #1), by Lizzy Ford

Five years after her sister disappeared, seventeen-year-old Adrienne finds the strength to return to her father’s home in New Orleans. But soon after she arrives, the mark of a curse appears on her, leaving her worried. Will she be the next victim of a four-hundred-year old family curse ... the next to be claimed by a serial killer roaming the back alleys of the city?

The day before his senior year begins, Jayden is given a skeleton key passed down through his family for generations -- a gruesome reminder of how his ancestors betrayed their own people and sold them into slavery. He doesn’t believe in the curse the key allegedly bears and puts it away with the intention of forgetting about its message. Until he meets Adrienne, a girl he’s compelled to for more reasons than her beauty. 

He’s not the only one who notices her. A man in a skeleton mask and a voodoo gang member are also drawn to Adrienne. One is determined to protect her. The other intends to mislead her. Haunted by the mythical Red Man, all are connected to the ancient curse.

Can they overcome their misgivings about one another and prevent the dark prophecy looming over them? Or will they be lured away from each other by evil’s siren song?

Received through NetGalley.

If I had to use one word to describe Cursed, it would definitely be “creepy.” The voodoo mythology of New Orleans, Africa and Haiti is deeply  woven into it, not going soft on the details for the sake of the readers’ stomachs.  That’s for the best, I think.  It would’ve lost something if the author held back or was forced to censor herself.

One of the things I appreciated about the book was the fact that Jayden was willing to think that voodoo might be real, when given evidence.  He does spend most of the book not accepting it, because the only things he’s ever seen involving it were his family locking themselves in a shed and cutting off parts from animals.  After Adrienne is cursed so she can’t sing anymore, he’s still skeptical, but he’s willing to think about  it being caused by something supernatural rather than immediately shooting the idea down.  One of my pet peeves is characters who are dense, because most of the time, it seems like it’s just for the sake of the plot so the author can make a ton of things happen to make the person believe something.

Another good thing is that the author managed to use dialect without making it look awkward or making it unreadable.  Considering the background and current circumstances of the characters, they aren’t going to be talking like Ivy league college-educated people.

And of course I appreciated that the Red Man ended up not just being some random, faceless entity.  No spoilers, of course, but there’s an actual backstory to him, and even though what he does is horrible, it gives more depth to the story.  A random, faceless entity would’ve just made it shallow, at least in my opinion.

There were a few things I was frustrated with.  For instance, whenever Adrienne is talking about leaving because something bad happened, she almost always says she’ll “go back to New Orleans.” They are in New Orleans, and since she came over there from Atlanta, I’m guessing Ford meant to put that.  If it was just once it might not be so bad, but it’s a constant mistake, one that shouldn’t even need an editor to catch, just a glance-through from the author.  Also, I don’t know if it was just the copy I got from NetGalley, but there were notes leftover from editing, randomly talking about the different between original French and Creole.  And it does end in a really weird place, even for a book that’s obviously going to have a sequel.

In the end I’d probably give this three-and-a-half stars.  It’s great, but a few obvious problems bring it down.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book review: Marionette by T.B. Markinson

Paige Alexander is seventeen and has her whole life in front of her. One day her girlfriend comes home to discover that Paige has slit her wrists. Paige isn't insane, but she acts like she is. Why? 

After the incident, Paige agrees to go to therapy to appease her girlfriend, Jess. However, Paige doesn't believe that therapy will help her. She believes she’s beyond help. Paige doesn't want to find herself and she doesn't want to relive her painful past in order to come to terms with it. What Paige wants is control over her life, which she hasn't had since her birth. 

During her childhood, Paige is blamed for a family tragedy, when in fact, her twin sister, Abbie was responsible. Abbie doesn't come forward and Paige becomes the pariah of the family. 

To add to Paige’s woes, while attending a college in a small town in Colorado, the residents are in the midst of debating whether or not gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Tension is high and there’s a threat of violence. She isn't out of the closet and pretends to be straight at school since she fears what will happen if her parents find out she’s a lesbian. Will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?

An e-book copy was given to me free in return for a review.

When I read a book like this, I can’t help but be a little bit critical when it comes to certain parts of it.  The fact that the main character is gay makes it something I probably would’ve read anyway if I had discovered it on my own.  I’m not going to say it necessary falls into the trap of one of those books that are about nothing but the main character’s sexuality, but that’s because it definitely rambles on about a lot more.  To the book’s credit it does acknowledge it, at least, but it happens so often that I found myself losing focus more than once.

There’s so much going on in this book that there’s never a dull moment, and it did keep me reading to see what would happen next.  The downside of all this is that Paige is so disconnected to everything that sometimes I wondered to myself why I should care about what’s going on.  We get pages and pages of her talking to her psychologist about her past, for instance, but the end comes out of literally nowhere.  I won’t spoil it obviously, but it has to do with Abbie, and all we know about Abbie is that she and Paige were never close, that she’s the one who left out a toy when they were younger that led to a horrible incident with their mother, and that before they left for college, she got into drugs and was friends with hippies.  Well we also know that she’s passionate about music but ended up going to college to be a doctor because that’s what their mother wanted.  But none of that actually gives us a good look into who she is, which might be the point since she and Paige were never close, but still doesn’t do well to not make the ending come straight out of left field.

I will give the book plenty of credit that the writing itself is vivid and, for the most part, clean.  There is the tendency to mis-format dialogue every now and then but that’s the worst offender.  Personally, though, I found that the fact that Paige’s great story-telling skills (she’s studying history at college but wants to be a writer) leaking into her sessions with Liddy made me feel like she might be an unreliable narrator.  I’m aware she dwells quite a lot on the past, but the fact that she’s telling these perfect narrations about the parts in her life she discusses with Liddy just seems too perfect

Overall I’d probably rate the book as average.  There was so much potential in it and what the author wanted to do with it, but the weaknesses hold it back from it being as good as it could’ve been.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book review: The Second Shadow by Elizabeth Arroyo

Jake thought being demon meant a shredded humanity, stripped of all human emotion. Chaos and self-preservation dominates a demon’s instincts. But Jake feels every ounce of pain and despair around him. 

And it’s driving him deeper into Hell.

Gabby’s choice to save him last summer left a fissure in Hell’s gate that released a malevolent evil. When Jake’s given a mission by the demons to shadow a human girl who may know the whereabouts of an ethereal weapon, he doesn’t expect to see Gabby. But Fate has her own agenda.

When Jake and Gabby are thrown together on a camping trip with a group of delinquent teens, Jake begins to grapple with the haunting choices he made in the past. When the evil finds them, the group begins to battle for their lives, alliances are made, and truths revealed. 

As the evil begins to influence Jake, he questions his link to the demons, his purpose, and his love for Gabby. 

But the answers to those questions are only found in Hell. And it may cost him his soul.

A free copy was given to me in return for an honest review.

The Second Shadow is the sequel to The Second Sign, which I read not long ago.  Most of what I have to say is that the sequel is even better than the original.  The only problems I really had with it were surface errors, mostly typos and the whole ‘use a word that’s close to what you mean’ mistake.  There were also a few things that I felt like should’ve been revealed in the first book rather than the second.  It was a bit rushed at times, throwing realizations and information on you with little time to really digest it because it’s in the middle of the action and the characters have to get on with things.

Other than that, the story is well-put together.  There’s obvious effort in the lore, taking class Christian mythology and fitting it together with Arroyo’s own ideas and interpretations.  And like in the first book, she was definitely not afraid to show the more graphic scenes.  Descriptions of Erra’s influence on Gabby make your skin crawl (literally in poor Gabby’s case) and Alexi’s torture in hell doesn’t pull any punches in its descriptions.  I don’t usually enjoy graphic things like this, but I feel like it would’ve lost something if it weren’t all there.

And some of it is just surreal.  Jake has moments where he slips into Hell, or something like that.  I can’t even really tell what’s happening, but I have the feeling that’s exactly how I’m supposed to feel.

All-in-all, I’d have to say it’s a successful sequel.  The ending also leaves room for another book if that’s what Arroyo has planned, but unlike so many other books, it doesn’t just simply drop off and make you think “Wait, where the rest of it?” So, happy reading!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Contact change

I've changed the blog contact from an email form to an actual address.  If you'd like to request a review or anything else, you can send it to joana(at) now!  It's also on the "contact" page now.

Book review: Passionaries (The Blessed #2) by Tonya Hurley

Agnes, Cecelia, and Lucy watched as Sebastian sacrificed himself for what he believed in. Will the girls trust that their destiny as saints and martyrs and perform the miracles as Sebastian instructed? Or lose faith in themselves and each other in his absence? Time is running out for them to make a decision, and the fate of the world lies in the balance.

Passionaries is the sequel to The Blessed, a book I read last year and reviewed rather… unfavorably.  However I did say I’d see it out since I saw potential in it.  I kind of regret it, to be honest.

Passionaries continues the story of Lucy, Agnes and Cecelia a few months after their experiences at the Church of the Precious Blood.  Despite that they should have been keeping in touch and getting through things together, they haven’t so much as texted each other since the investigation into the events and Sebastian’s death.  That was the first problem I had with it; the fact that I didn’t really sympathize with what had happened to them and then they just abandon each other made me really not believe when they talked about how close they are.

A problem I had with the last book was one that a lot of people seemed to have: the fact that it was hard to tell whether they really were reincarnated saints, or if Sebastian was as mentally ill as suggested and he was just influencing them to believe they were because he had the delusion himself and they happened to share the right names.  There’s plenty of proof that there’s something supernatural going on here, but I still found myself doubting who they actually were.  For instance, Cecelia actually shreds two men with some kind of whip sword.  No mercy.  It’s actually really gory.  Am I really supposed to believe she’s a saint when she’s so willing to commit gross atrocities like that?  Honestly.

The one thing that I liked about the first book was the sequences with Dr. Frey.  They were the only thing that I felt was grounded in any sort of reality.  I was hoping it would continue in this book so that there would still be something redeeming about it, if nothing else improved.  I thought that this series had nowhere to go but up.  Unfortunately I was wrong.  Dr. Frey goes from a psychiatrist who’s genuinely worried about Sebastian and the girls to a cardboard-cutout villain who has an evil entourage.  We even get some backstory for him, but it doesn’t help.  All we know is that he used to be a priest, and he defected from religion until he joined the hospital.  There’s honestly no reason why anyone’s doing anything they do in the book.  Yes, saints are supposed to be disbelieved and persecuted, but this goes way too far.

Pretty much all this book does is prove that it could, in fact, get worse.  The exact same bad points from the first book are there, and more are piled on.  I really wish Hurley had improved.  And clearly there are people who enjoyed it.  But I just don’t get why.  Not one I’d recommend.