Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nightingale by David Farland

My Review for Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: January 10, 2012

Bron Jones was abandoned by his mother as an infant and has been in foster care ever since.  He was bounced from home to home and has had a very rough upbringing.  At the age of 16 he is fortunate enough to get placed with Olivia and Mike Hernandez.  She is a teacher at a school for the performing arts and recognizes Bron for what he truly is.  Bron thinks that his life may finally take a turn for the better.  He is popular at school, is living with a nice family, has a potential girlfriend...but of course this may all be too good to be true.  There is a secret that Olivia is keeping and with it comes a tremendous amount of danger.  

Mr. Farland has developed a set of characters known as Masaaks, which look human but have very special powers.  They are nothing like other paranormal characters we have all read about.  I found their history and abilities to be very fascinating.  When you add in the fact that there are good and evil Massaks that have been battling for thousands of years you begin to wonder, how can humans not know they exist?  There is a very good explanation for this which you will want to read about.  There was plenty of action to keep the pages turning with just enough relationship and character development to really allow the reader to connect with these characters.

It appears that there are currently three additional books planned for the series and I honestly can't wait to get my hands on them.  The end of the book was a bit of a cliff hanger, which is often the case with a series, so I was not surprised.  I just wonder how long we will have to wait to find out what happens next for Bron, Olivia, and the rest of the Masaaks.  I have not been able to find a potential release date for the second installment in this series, but I will be sure to let you know when I do.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Shattered & Maddie's Tattoo

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, be it physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Tynga publishes her post each Saturday, so be sure to link up your posts and check out what books others have added to their shelves that week.

Free Ebook:

Goodreads Overview:

A free download at the author's website.


Or so seventeen-year-old Zachary Moore believes. He’s free now after two months in solitary captivity, where his only refuge was madness. Finally home in Scotland, he’s determined to “get sane” in time to reunite with the girl he loves. 


To keep Aura safe, Zachary must build a wall of secrets around his past and present. No one can know how shattered he’s become. 

But the harder he tries to fix himself, the more his mind unravels, until memory, fantasy, and reality blur more than ever. With the help of an old friend--as well as an old enemy--Zachary must find the strength to speak. 

The strength to not stand alone.

A hopeful yet heartbreakingly realistic companion novella, “Shattered” lets readers into the fractured mind of the Shade trilogy's most mysterious and beloved character.

Ebooks I Purchased:

Goodreads Overview: 

A prequel to AWAKEN, this provocative short story explains the history behind Maddie's tattoo, and sets up events in the final installment of the trilogy. Excerpt:

"I never knew that taking one class would change my life. The most insignificant decisions can have the most significant impacts. That is the scary thing about choice. Choice is a methodical genius hidden behind the face of a child. We think it’s all fun and innocent until we realize the force of our decisions. Choice is our life compass. It guides our every direction."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

My Review for Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: January 17, 2012

It was a really long wait from the time I finished the ARC of Wolfsbane until the release of Bloodrose, but it was well worth it.  The final installment in this series presents the guardians and searchers with the task of collecting the remaining three pieces of the elemental cross in order to rid the world of the keepers and their magic.  Of course, each piece is in a remote location and is protected by magic and enhanced creatures.  

In order to bring the love triangle back into the mix, Calla and one of the searchers rescue Ren and convince him to join their side in the fight.  The tension between Ren and Shay is high throughout the book.  I was on the edge of my seat until the very end just waiting to see if my "team" would win.  

The book was full of action and we were able to connect with several of the characters on a more personal level.  More relationships develop throughout the book and in some cases finally come to fruition after years in the making.  As Andrea already told us, war does not come without loss.  There are numerous losses on both sides.  Some were absolutely shocking to me, but in the end I was very happy with how this series came to a close.  

After looking back through my GoodReads account...I realized this is one of the few series in which I gave ALL of the books 5 stars.  This truly is an exceptional series.  Fortunately for us, with the end of the Nightshade series comes the beginning of Andrea's next series.  Rift will be the first installment in a Nightshade prequel series that is scheduled to be released on August 7th.  Since I am fortunate enough to be the one selecting the BookNerds read along in August, you can probably guess what it will be.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hour Game by David Baldacci

My Review for Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: February 11, 2012

When we left Sean King and Michelle Maxwell at the end of Split Second, the two ex-secret service agents had decided to open their own private investigation firm.  This book starts out with Harry, a local attorney, asking them to investigate his client's involvement in a burglary he doesn't believe he committed.  Junior is accused of stealing from a very wealthy family he was working for at the time.  There is SO much evidence pointing to Junior that Harry believes it has to be a set up.  

While King and Maxwell are investigating Junior's case, a serial killer strikes the small town of Wrightsburg, Virginia.  He has been toying with the authorities and copying famous serial killers from the past.  The killer is obviously not your run of the mill serial killer and the local police are baffled.  The chief decides to deputize King and Maxwell, which gives them full access to anything related to the investigation of the murders.  This is by far the smartest thing the chief could have done.  Without Sean, I have to believe they would still be looking for the killer.

As was the case in Split Second, Sean and Michelle manage to get themselves right into the middle of all of the action.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering how they would get themselves out of each potentially deadly situation.  There were clues throughout the book, which I missed almost every time, but Sean quickly picked up on and would investigate.  Clearly, this is why I am not an investigator.  I was not surprised by who the serial killer was, but why he did it was really the mystery.  There were two murders that were not the result of the serial killer. I was SHOCKED to find out who committed them and why.  Everything all comes together in the end thanks to Sean, but without Maxwell protecting him along the way...we never would have gotten to the bottom of this case.  Sean is one person that truly needs his own secret service agent watching his back.  

If you enjoy mysteries, I would highly recommend the King and Maxwell series.  I absolutely love these characters and can't wait to see what is in store for them in Simple Genius, the next installment in this series.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fallen by Lauren Kate

My Review for Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: February 15, 2012

When we first meet Luce, she is on her way to Sword & Cross as a last resort.  She was present at the time of a fire that killed Trevor, a student from her previous school, but she cannot recall what caused the fire.  She also has a history of perceived mental illness because she sees unexplainable shadows.  The shadows, along with her inability to explain her lack of involvement in Trevor's death, lands her at this new school.

At Sword & Cross all of the students must wear black, some of the students wear tracking devices that can issue a shock if needed, and they are all under constant surveillance.  The students are allowed one 15 minute phone call per week and the classes are far from typical.  This is the last place Luce wants to be, until she meets Daniel.  There is a bit of a love triangle, but Daniel is the only one Luce is REALLY interested in.  She has an odd feeling that she knows him from somewhere, but she isn't sure why.

It takes Luce the better part of the book to figure everything out, which was a little too much buildup and not enough action for me at times.  I really enjoyed the last third of the book, but I don't think I will rush right into Torment.  While I completely understand the concepts behind Revenants, Demi-Gods, Vampires, Shadowhunters etc...I didn't fully grasp the "shadows", which left me liking this book...but not loving it.  The paranormal elements were interesting and I think there is a lot of potential for this series.  Perhaps with further explanation and understanding from Torment, I will have greater appreciation of the series. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

My Review from Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: February 23, 2012

The story is told from Ethan's point of view.  We can hear all of his thoughts, which were typical of any 16 year-old boy.  He is moody, full of hormones, and trying to deal with a very difficult situation.  I thought the interactions between Ethan and his brother were very realistic given the circumstances, so I felt bad for both of them.  I also enjoyed the relationship that developed between Cami (a neighbor girl he was friends with before the abduction) and Ethan.  Cami was a great source of support for Ethan as he tried to integrate himself back into a life he had completely forgotten.

The problem I had with this book likely comes from the fact that I have a son who just turned 7.  I couldn't comprehend how Ethan could not remember his house, his family, or any of his friends.  My son can remember things from past family vacations, friends from pre-school, etc.  Something did not add up, but I couldn't figure out why.  What sort of trauma did this child endure for him to COMPLETELY forget his past?  

I will not spoil it for those who have not read it, but I personally did not care for how this book ended.  I would have given this book 4* until the last few pages. I ultimately decided to give it 3*.  One scene brought the book from "I REALLY liked it" to "I liked it" according to my goodreads definitions.  I was in a state of shock.  The ending was so abrupt and I wasn't prepared for it.  Perhaps I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Introductions (The Academy) by C.L. Stone

Introductions truly is an introduction to all of the characters in The Academy series.  The narrator, Sang, comes from an abusive home.  Her mother is a recluse and never leaves the house.  She lectures her two daughters about how dangerous the outside world is and forbids them from socializing with others outside of school.  A simple phone call from a potential friend does not go unpunished.  Her father is very withdrawn from the family and is nothing more than a provider from what I could tell.  He goes to work every day and drives the girls to their high school registration, but that is about it.

One evening Sang decides to spend an evening out on her own.  While on her way, a neighbor's dog knocks her down and causes some minor injuries.  That is how she meets Kota.  They will be attending the same school this upcoming year and are even in the same grade.  She quickly meets several of his friends and starts to develop real friendships for the first time in her life.

Throughout the books she notices that these long time friends seem to communicate on a different level than most kids her age.  They are all very intelligent and appear to be withholding information.  She eventually learns that they are from a private school known as The Academy.  As part of a special project they will be attending the public school this year.  There are a lot of secrets the boys are not able to share with Sang.  We don't know what type of school The Academy really is, but we can certainly speculate.  Is it a school for spies like The Gallagher Girls?  Fortunately, I will not have to wait long to find out.  The next three books in the series are already available.

I really enjoyed all of the characters so far with the exception of Sang's parents of course.  I can't wait to find out more about The Academy and to hopefully see Sang come out of her protective shell.  She is still very shy and uncomfortable around others.  She is constantly questioning the intentions of even a simple friendly touch.  I'm sure Kota and the rest of the boys, who area already very protective of Sang, will be a very positive influence on her life.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stacking The Shelves: Ditched by Amity Hope

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, be it physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Tynga publishes her post each Saturday, so be sure to link up your posts and check out what books others have added to their shelves that week.

Free Amazon Ebooks:

Ditched by Amity Hope

I loved Twisted by Amity Hope.  Ditched was available for free this week on Amazon, so I immediately downloaded it.  

DitchedGoodreads Overview: 

Holly has her whole life mapped out. It’s simple, really. She just needs to finish her degree in journalism, marry Collin—her high school sweetheart—and live happily ever after.

Max has had a crush on his friend Holly since he moved to town four years ago. He’s been dreading her wedding since she first sent him a text telling him the news. He's dreading it so much, in fact, that he's decided to move back to his hometown in California immediately following the ceremony.

He never thought that a change of plan would include taking Holly with him, showing her that sometimes the happily ever after you really want, is the one you never knew you were looking for.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau:

Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost and the Goth series and The Rules, recommended this book.  It was free for the I downloaded it.  I love Stacey's books, so I'm sure one of her recommendations will be great as well.  

The Testing (The Testing, #1)Goodreads Overview:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? 

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. 

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one. 

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

My Review for Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: October 24, 2011

Hereafter is a story about an 18 year old girl named Amelia, who has been wondering the earth for an undetermined amount of time as an unclaimed spirit...ghost.  She doesn't remember anything about life prior to her death, but she has recurring nightmares about drowning and eventually wakes up each time in a graveyard.

All of this changes the night she meets Joshua.  Due to his family history and a life changing event he is able to see and interact with Amelia.  Together they are able to unravel the mystery behind the numerous events that have taken place on High Bridge over the years.  (This is the site of Amelia's nightmares).  He is also able to help her recall who she was in real life.  

The love story between Joshua and Amelia is very touching, but there always has to be some element of conflict to keep the pages turning.  That is where Eli comes in.  He is another ghost who attempts to convince Amelia to join him in the after world.  He was a very creepy character, but there were some sincere moments when he shared some of his history and helped Amelia discover her abilities as a ghost.  

I found this to be a very fast and enjoyable read.  I was so excited about the story that I convinced Teri to read it because I wanted someone to discuss it with.  I was baffled by the fact that she wasn't as enthralled with it as I was.  Perhaps I am just a sucker for a good love story.  If you are as well, you will not be disappointed.  I have read about numerous paranormal relationships, but I can't recall any of them involving an intangible being.  This added a unique element that I would have thought was insurmountable, but Tara makes the relationship very believable.  

This is the first book in a trilogy.  All of the books are currently available, but I still have to read the final book Elegy.  Here is my review of the second book in the series, Arise.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Split Second by David Baldacci

Sean King was a secret service agent protecting a presidential candidate on the the campaign trail.  He had a lapse in concentration that resulted in the death of his protectee.  It is now eight years later and he has reestablished himself as an attorney in a small town in Virginia.  He is living a very quiet and comfortable life when he hears that another presidential candidate was kidnapped while under the watch of the secret service.  Michelle Maxwell was the lead agent assigned to the candidate, John Bruno, at the time of the kidnapping.

Shortly after the kidnapping, Sean discovers one of his employees murdered inside his law office.  The story makes the headline news and Michelle immediately recognizes Sean as the disgraced agent she learned about during her secret service training.  She feels a connection to him due to their similar circumstances and begins looking into the events surrounding the death of Clyde Ritter, the candidate Sean was protecting on that fateful day.  

She eventually contacts Sean and they begin investigating the events pertaining to his murdered employee, Clyde Ritter, and John Bruno.  The closer they get to uncovering the truth the worse the personal ramifications become.  Before long I was constantly worried that something terrible was going to happen to both Sean and Michelle.  The only thing that gave me any sense of reassurance is the fact that I know there are four other books in the series.  They must make it out of this alive if there are additional books, right?

The details of the mystery were constantly evolving and were very convoluted.  I felt that Baldacci did a remarkable job of weaving all of the clues together throughout the story, which kept me constantly wanting to see what would happen next.  The ending was like nothing I had ever read.  I will compare it to the grand finale of a fireworks show.  I don't want to give it away, so I will just leave it at that.

I really enjoyed the characters King and Maxwell.  They are both brilliant detectives and complemented each other perfectly.  I can't wait to see how things unfold in the rest of the series.  Hopefully they can keep themselves a little further from the action in the future.  I also hope their relationship evolves more throughout the series.  Baldacci planted the seed that they are attracted to each other, but the circumstances in this book did not leave any room for a personal relationship.  There is over a decade between their ages and they have very different personalities...King is a neat freak and Maxwell is a slob.  How will this play out as they work together in the future and perhaps on a more personal level?  I can't wait to find out.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Entwined by Heather Dixon

My Review from Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: June 17, 2011

Entwined is a story about a Victorian Era royal family that is struggling financially.  The Queen, who has been suffering from a long term illness, passes away shortly into the story leaving behind the King and 12 princesses.  The mother was a gifted dancer who shared her love and talent with her daughters, but the King lacked the same emotional connection with his family.  The girls were never truly happy unless they were dancing, but the King imposed a one year period of morning that prohibited dancing and all socializing outside of royal business.  Throughout the book, we learn that the palace has a long history of magic associated with it.  The princesses discover this magic and a place in which they can dance and express their love for their mother, but not without a cost.

Overall, I enjoyed the story which is based on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Heather Dixon did a great job of providing a unique personality for each of the characters.  I also enjoyed how their relationship with the King progressed and developed throughout the story.  There were portions, however, in which I felt like it was dragging.  The plot could have moved quicker and there could have been more to the love story.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant

My Review from Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: October 8, 2011

I have to admit, I selected this as our October book to movie for one reason...Rob Pattinson.  I began reading with the expectation that this was going to be like one of the numerous books I was forced to read in high school, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a very easy ready and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  

Georges Duroy moved to Paris upon completion of his military service in order to "improve his position in life".  He is working at a railroad office making not nearly enough money to survive.  He is starving and living in poverty when he runs into an old friend on the street, Mr. Forestier.  Mr. Forestier is the editor of the La Vie Francaise newspaper.  He invites Georges to his home for dinner and gives him money to buy a nice suit for the occasion.  Mr. Forestier also invited the newspaper's owner and several writers, with hopes that they will give Georges a position on their staff.  Georges makes an excellent impression on everyone in attendance...especially the ladies.  This is where the "history of a scoundrel" truly begins.

Mr. Forestier's wife Madeleine assists Georges in writing his first article, which secures him an entry level position.  While his salary increases, his financial position does not.  He uses his additional income to bribe police officers and other insiders for information to use in his articles.  His standing as a writer improves greatly, but he decides that he will need to use other methods to advance socially.  He realizes that he has a way with the ladies and begins using his looks and charm to his advantage.  He seeks out a series of wealthy married women and establishes relationships with them based upon their ability to help him achieve his goals.  Even after amounting his own financial wealth, he is never satisfied with his position.  He is always jealous of those with more and is continuously strategizing his next move.  

I do not want to give away EVERYTHING, but this gives you a pretty good idea of the events that unfold in this book.  I can't think of a better person than Rob to play Bel Ami...which is translated as "Beautiful Friend" in the book.  The movie is now available on Netflix and DVD.  If you haven't seen it yet, here is a copy of the trailer.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

My review from Book Nerds Across America
Date Read: May 18, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer was recommended to me quite some time ago, but I have to admit, the fact that the movie was released starring Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe is what ultimately got my attention.  

Mickey Haller is a defense attorney in LA who represents a questionable group of clients.  Drug dealers, prostitutes, etc.  He will represent anyone who can pay his fees, but when he lands his "franchise case" (a case that will pay him six figures and will allow him to comfortably pay his bills for a while) he begins to question his choice of profession.    

Louis Roulet is a wealthy young real estate agent accused of attempted rape and attempted murder.  For the first half of the book I actually felt sorry for Louis as the defense attempted to prove that he was the victim of a setup.  As the book progressed and Mickey's investigator discovered additional information that connected this case to one of his previous clients, the truth behind the case became apparent.  Mickey ends up putting himself and his family in danger as he strives to do the one thing his father taught him about the profession, to always identify and protect the innocent.  "There is no client as scary as an innocent man."    

I have always enjoyed the John Grisham legal thrillers.  The one thing his books lack is a common element that makes you look forward to the release of his next book.  That is what drew me to the Kay Scarpetta series, which is next month's Sunday Mystery Corner.  When there is a character I can connect with that develops throughout a series, I am always excited to see what happens next.  This series is no exception.  Michael Connelly established a great character that we can continue to follow.  There are currently four books in the Mickey Haller series, which I hear only get better.  

What I liked most about this book is fact that the reader is able to unravel the mystery along with Haller.  Clues are exposed throughout the story and we can slowly see how Mickey plans to address the ethical dilemma that he is in.  With many legal mysteries, the reader is often blindsided with an unexpected ending.  Connelly left enough of a mystery to hold my attention, but provided enough clues to make me feel like I was an active participant in the discovery of the truth.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I reviewed Water for Elephants shortly before the release of the movie over at Book Nerds Across America.  I just watched the movie again and noticed I never posted the review on my blog.  In an effort to consolidate all of my reviews in one location, I will be posting several of my old reviews over the holiday season.

Date Read: March 26, 2011

Jacob, who is in his 90s and residing in a nursing home, narrates the story.  Throughout the book he has a series of flashbacks that tell the story of his life during the 1930’s depression-era.  We first learn that he was orphaned during his final quarter of veterinary school.  He was about to take his final exam when he discovers that he no longer has a family, house, or career to come home to.  He decides to hop a train to establish a new life for himself.  The train, unbeknownst to him, belongs to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.  He meets August Rosenbluth, who is Marlena’s husband, equestrian director, and manager of the menagerie.  August offers him a job as the show's veterinarian, but Jacob quickly learns that the show is far from spectacular.  The animals are underfed, mistreated, and the employees are considered to be dispensable.  The circus is struggling financially, but Uncle Al (the ringmaster) spends all of their money to acquire an elephant named Rosie.  He believes the elephant will become the star attraction that will save their show. As it turns out, she drinks all of their lemonade and can't follow a single command.

Sarah Gruen does an excellent job of describing the grueling behind the scenes details of life on the road with a circus.  From the performers to the laborers to the freaks of nature acquired to help draw in a crowd, I could easily visualize the characters.  It did not take long to discover that Jacob and Marlena are perhaps the only characters with any morals.  Through their kindness to Rosie they begin to establish a bond with her and each other.   

I thoroughly enjoyed the book as well as the movie.  While I rarely believe a movie lives up to the expectations we establish as readers, this was very well done.  They did change some parts of the book for the big screen and combined a couple of characters into one, but it did not impact the overall story.  I absolutely love Reese Witherspoon and Rob Pattinson, so I couldn't have been happier with who was cast as Jacob and Marlena. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let It Bleed by Jeri Smith-Ready

This is a free novella that is available on Jeri Smith-Ready's site.  It is a VERY substantial story with about 125 pages.  This is not just an extra scene, but an ESSENTIAL part of the story.  It bridges the gap between the third and final book in the WVMP radio series.

There is A LOT that takes place in Let It Bleed.  If you decide to skip directly from Bring on the Night to Lust For Life, you will be doing yourself a real disservice.  Two characters are murdered, four new characters are introduced, and a main character is essentially removed from the series.  I'm sure some of these details will be discussed in the final book for those who did skip the novella, but I can't imagine she will provide even a fraction of the detail.

There were a couple of events that greatly impacted the relationship between Ciara and her maker, Monroe.  I don't think they will ever have the type of relationship Shane and Regina have, but they are establishing a more friendly relationship.

This book also contains Vital Fluid's first performance.  Vital Fluid is Shane's new three-man nineties cover band and they totally rocked.  More of Shane and his musical talent is always welcome.

I can't thank Jeri enough for advising me to read this before starting the final book in the series.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Music Monday: Toad The Wet Sprocket Concert

I was a HUGE Toad fan back in high school and college.  When I heard they were releasing their first new album in over 15 years and touring, I was ecstatic.  If you are a Toad fan, you will LOVE the new album.

Last Tuesday I went to their show in Cincinnati and it was PHENOMENAL.  They sounded as good, if not better, than they did when I saw them back in my college days.  They played a great mix of both their old and new music and I loved seeing them in a smaller venue than they used to play.

My 8 year old son loves their music as well, but the concert was well past his bed time on a school night.  I had to take a few pictures and short videos for him, which I will share with you.  I did not record the full songs because I was there to enjoy the show not record it.  On the other hand, if I didn't have something to show Preston the next morning, he NEVER would have let me live it down.

I can't take credit for the first picture. Glen posted it on his Instagram.

New Constellation - The title track off of their new album.

Walk on the Ocean - The final song of the evening.

Good Intentions (A short video on my phone)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Spiral Bound Brother by Ryan Elliot Wilson

I am usually more of a YA/NA reader, but every now and then an adult book or series will pique my interest.  When I first read the description, Spiral Bound Brother reminded me of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  A friend recommended that book to me last year and I really enjoyed it, so I decided to give this book a try.

Anyone who enjoyed Staggering Genius, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, will most likely enjoy this book as well.  It contains a similar sense of humor, but without the depressing subject matter.  

The characters are quirky, but they definitely held my attention.  The use of three different narrators, as described in the overview above, was essential to the success of this book.  I enjoyed hearing Craft's side of the story, but I don't think I could have read an entire book from his POV.     

The writing was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  I never would have guessed this was the work of a debut author.  If this is any indication of the quality and originality of Wilson's work to come, he will have a very successful career.

I am extremely happy I read this before Christmas.  I now know what I am getting for the friend who needs absolutely nothing, but recommended A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  The fact that there are even E.E. Cummings quotes and references is an added bonus.  He is a huge fan of Cummings and I think he will enjoy this immensely.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: My Beautiful by Alicia Rae

My beautiful picks up where Beautiful Chances left off.  Lily is trying to come to terms with the loss of her family and wants to reconnect with her Aunt, Uncle, and cousins in Colorado.  I really enjoyed the interactions with her family and some of her friends.  The additional characters added depth to the story and took the focus off of just Lily and Kyle's relationship.  There is still a lot of adult content, but it didn't feel as forced as it did in Beautiful Chances.  The scenes were more fluid and mixed seamlessly with the story line.    

Lily received another threat from the stalker we were first introduced to in book one.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I NEVER would have guessed who the stalker was.  I was pretty sure it had to be someone she knew and I even had a short list of suspects.  I was not even close.

The last few chapters contained a lot of action and suspense, which helped to build anticipation and excitement for the final book in the series. Lily finally seems ready to move forward with her life.  The one person who is still a complete mystery is Kyle.

At the very end of the book Kyle promises to open up to Lily...tomorrow.  Just like the "free beer tomorrow" signs you see at the bar, tomorrow never comes.  I guess we will have to wait for Beautiful Dreams, which is scheduled to be released in January 2014, for Kyle to reveal the dark secrets from his past.  I have to imagine the events are from his time in the military, but that is pure speculation.

I feel like Alicia has come a long way between her debut novel and this book.  The dialogue was more eloquent and there was far more to the story.  I honestly can't wait to find out how Lily and Kyle's story will conclude.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beautiful Chances by Alicia Rae

I am participating in a review tour for the second book in this series.  Since I hadn't read the first book yet, the author was kind enough to send me the Beautiful Chances ebook.

Lily is a twenty-four year old who is struggling after the loss of her family in a car accident three years prior to the start of the book.  She moved to Florida from Colorado shortly after the accident to escape the constant reminders.  She was very close to some of her extended family prior to the event, but she hasn't seen any of them since.  She has been living on Sanibel Island where she has been writing and unsuccessfully trying to move forward with her life.  She is still having nightmares about the accident and will not allow herself to get close to anyone because of a fear of losing them.

One day when she is sitting on the beach writing, she is approached by an attractive stranger named Kyle. The rest of the book is pretty much a whirlwind romance.  There is A LOT of adult content...probably a little more than was necessary.  There are some really sweet date nights and they obviously care for one another, but Lily is still struggling with her past.  Kyle helps her work through her issues, but he remains somewhat of a mystery throughout the book.  He is extremely protective, possessive and overbearing at times, but we aren't sure why.  I actually thought he was a little creepy on a few occasions.

I felt like the story had a lot of potential, but it didn't really live up to my expectations.  There is a situation with a stalker, which could have added to the story.  The topic was brushed over and appeared to have been forgotten.  I'm sure it will surface again in the next book, but addressing it further in this book would have added substance to the story.

There were a couple of surprises at the end of the book, which definitely made me want to read further into the series.  I just hope the focus of the second book is on the plot and story development rather than what is going on in the bedroom.  A little of that every now and then can go a long way.  It shouldn't feel like the focus of the book.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Third Lie's The Charm - The Liar Society

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

Third Lie's The Charm by Lisa & Laura Roecker
Release Date: December 3, 2013

Third Lie's the Charm (The Liar Society, #3)This is the third book in The Liar Society series. I haven't read any of the books yet, but they have been on my TBR list for a while.  As soon as I finish a few of the series I am currently working on,  I am going to start The Liar Society.  I like reading a series without having to wait a year between books.  Now that the final book is coming out, it is about time to start reading!!

Goodreads Overview:  

New friend into old, the bond of the Sisterhood will never grow cold.

Life at Pemberly Brown is a whirlwind for Kate Lowry. Determined to finally destroy the secret society responsible for her best friend Grace’s death, Kate joins the Sisterhood hoping to go all Trojan Horse on their asses. But the night of her initiation another student at Pemberly Brown dies in what looks like tragic accident.

Kate knows better.

Kate and her faithful ginger, Seth Allen, immediately uncover a connection to the boy’s death and the secret societies that rule Pemberly Brown. But it’s not until Kate begins receiving pages from Grace’s old journal that she begins to piece together what really happened the night she died and how it connects to Pemberly Brown’s most recent tragedy.

Meanwhile, Kate’s ex-boyfriend Liam is following her around like an angry guard dog and she’s falling hard for the mysterious Bradley Farrow. Both boys are tied up in the mystery that surrounds Pemberly Brown, but only one of them can truly be trusted.

In this chilling conclusion to The Liar Society series Kate will fight to save her school from the evil that lurks beneath its hallowed halls. But will her quest destroy her or finally lead her to true love? She can only hope her third lie’s the charm

Monday, November 4, 2013

Captive by A.D. Robertson

I absolutely loved the Nightshade trilogy.  I have even read the two books in the prequel series, so I was excited to hear that Andrea Cremer was writing another book set in the Nightshade world.  This series is for adults and is definitely not YA due to some graphic adult content.  That is the reason she decided to use a pen-name instead of the name associated with her YA books.

Captive tells the story of Shay's parents, Tristan and Sarah Doran.  Tristan is a Keeper and Sarah is a Searcher, which in theory means they should be mortal enemies.  What starts out as a ploy on both of their parts to gain information, and perhaps Sarah's freedom, turns into far more.  Tristan and Sarah are both strong and independent characters.  As the story developed I couldn't help but love them, which is probably why I was on Team Shay since they very beginning of the Nightshade series.

All of the events take place prior to Nightshade, but I would recommend reading the Nightshade series before Captive.  There is a lot of history and detail behind the Witches War, Keepers, Searchers, Guardians, and the nether creatures that is discussed at length in her YA books.  It is touched upon briefly in Captive, but it was described at a level I would consider to be more of a refresher.  I don't think I would have appreciated this book nearly as much as I did if I didn't already have this background information.

If you are an adult fan of the Nightshade series, I would highly recommend reading Captive.  It contains all of the action and suspense I have come to expect from the Nightshade books with the addition of a steamy romance.  I will definitely be counting down the days until the release of the next book in this series.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Perfect Ruin, Bitter Pill, Starbright

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, be it physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Tynga publishes her post each Saturday, so be sure to link up your posts and check out what books others have added to their shelves that week.


Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles, #1)
Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

I liked Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden trilogy, so I am anxious to see what her new series will be like.

Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade

Stacey is the author of The Ghost and the Goth series as well as the Project Paper Doll series.  I love all of her YA books and was excited to hear that she was releasing a book for adults.

Free ebook: 

Starbright (Starbright, #1)Starbright by Rachel Higginson:

One of the other book nerds really likes Rachel Higginson's books, so I decided to give this one a try since it was free on Barnes and Noble.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Music Monday: OSU Marching Band

This week I am sharing the Ohio State halftime show from the OSU vs. Penn State game last weekend.  The theme was Hollywood Blockbusters and it is one of the best performances I have seen in a while.  I am sure you will agree, unless you are a Michigan fan :)

Go Bucks!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is about a set of eighteen year old identical twins, Cath and Wren, who are starting their first year of college.  They both wrote Simon Snow fan fiction growing up and have a large following.  Wren decides to move on to boys, drinking, and partying once she is on campus, while Cath is still living her life via the Internet.  She attends her classes, but she would rather spend her free time locked in her dorm room writing about Simon Snow.

Cath's roommate, Reagan, is a junior and eventually starts to help Cath come out of her shell.  Cath  becomes friends with Reagan's ex-high school boyfriend Levi, which becomes a little awkward as Cath realizes they may be more than just friends.  Levi is the complete opposite of Cath.  He is very outgoing and friendly.  Cath thinks that because he is two years older he is far more worldly and experienced than she is. There is no way they could have anything in common, right? WRONG....

The one thing that I really liked about this story is that it isn't a "boy meets girl they fall instantly in love" sort of story.  Levi and Cath are friends.  They have issues like everyone, but they learn from their mistakes and grow from them in the process.  I was "rooting for them" (if you have read the understand the significance of that sentence) and I was very happy with how it ended.

At the end of every chapter there was an excerpt from one of the Simon Snow books or from some of Cath and Wren's fan fiction.  Cath also reads several sections of her fan fiction to Levi throughout the book.  It was interesting to hear parts of the story, but I found them to be rather confusing.  Do these books really exist?  Maybe it is because I don't know the story or the characters that I couldn't really appreciate those sections as much as I probably should have.

I did love the rest of the story about Cath, Wren, Reagan, and Levi.  They are all such different characters, but they all needed each other in some fashion.  This is the first book of Rainbow's that I have read.  I really enjoyed her writing style and will definitely read more of her books in the futures.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Double Crossed by Ally Carter

This novella is book 2.5 in the Heist Society series and 5.5 in the Gallagher Girls series.  I have read all three of the Heist Society books, but I have only read the first two GG books so far.  I tweeted Ally to make sure I wouldn't encounter any spoilers since I do plan on completing the GG series.  She said there could be a very minor spoiler, but I probably wouldn't recognize it as such.  I couldn't wait any longer for another dose of Hale, so I decided to go ahead and read Double Crossed.

Macey and her parents are attending a party in New York along with the Hales.  All of society's elite are in attendance, which is how the characters from Heist Society and GG cross paths.

This is a rather substantial story for a novella at about 45 pages.  It contains completely new content, which is a major bonus.  It seems like so many novellas simply retell a scene from another character's point of view. That is a nice way to share additional information about another character, but I found this to be far more enjoyable.

It was interesting to see how spies and thieves could work together in a time of need.  They both have a unique skill set that complements each other very nicely.  I would definitely read another Spies and Thieves story if Ally decides to write one in the future.

If you haven't read any of Ally's books, I really think you can read this short story to get a taste of her writing style and characters.  There are minor references to events in her other books, but I wouldn't consider them spoilers.  It is available for FREE at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Free Four by Veronica Roth

This is a short story.  When I say short, I mean REALLY short.  Veronica retells one of the Divergent initiation/training scenes from Four's perspective.  I thought the story was very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Four's thoughts.  I never would have guessed what was going through his mind at the time and I actually developed a better understanding and appreciation of his character.  I always thought that he was a bit standoffish.  Sort of hard and lacking feeling, which couldn't have been further from the truth.

I am extremely happy that I read this before reading Allegiant.  I have already pre-ordered Allegiant and was ECSTATIC to see that it will be told with an alternating point of view.  We will finally get to experience the story from both Tris and Four's perspective.

I gave Free Four 4* simply because it was so short.  The story itself was worthy of 5*, but I was expecting more.  The entire ebook is only 43 pages and contains the first 2 chapters of both Divergent and Insurgent.  There was also an intro from Veronica about why she wrote this short story and how she ultimately selected the scene that she did.  There was only about 12 pages of new content, which would have been extremely disappointing if I had purchased this instead of downloading it from the library.  Since it was form the library, I took it for what it was and I am now ready for Allegiant.