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.