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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best of 2011

As 2011 comes to end, I figured I should dedicate a post to the books I read this year that really stood out to me. I'm not doing a countdown, since I don't have that many great books so sift through (my reading stride didn't hit until July). Here you'll see the 11 5-star books and one 4-star book that I couldn't get out of my head.

I did have several more 5 star books from the year that should have made this list, but they're all by the same author! You've probably already seen them in the post from yesterday.

What were your favorite reads of 2011?

Pinkindle Reads but no Reviews: December 17-31, 2011

I read a lot, but review less. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing something, or I just don't have much to say. Either way, it doesn't seem fair to leave these books out. So once or twice a month I'll present the books that I read, rated, but didn't review, and give a quick few sentences about what I thought of them.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Author of the Year

There's one author that stood out to me this year, and that was none other than Richelle Mead! I read 16 of her books this year and I plan to read more in 2012. I discovered her through a group read of Succubus Blues and instantly fell in love. I finished three of her series, and plan to start on the fourth, Bloodlines, in the new year after the second book is released.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

[Review] Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3) by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Awakened
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3
Author: J.R. Ward
Pages: 464 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: September 5, 2006

A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her…

Zsadist is definitely the most interesting brother so far. His emotional scars are far worse than the ones on his face and back. We got bits of his history in the previous books, but none of that compares to what comes out in Lover Awakened. As his twin said, "He's not broken. He's ruined." And it's easy to see why after his horrible past as a sex/blood slave. What he went through for so long is awful so it's understandable why he can't get close to Bella even if it's what they both want. Phury adds a bit of a complication since he also is attracted to her.

There's also the problem of Bella's kidnapper. Even though she gets rescued early on, Mr. O isn't going to let her go so easily. He's a man obsessed and finds her to be the perfect replacement for his dead wife. This "lesser" will stop anything to get her back. I was definitely interested in this story line. Mr. O's unstable mental state was fascinating and scary.

John's back! I'm so glad there's more of his story. Even though he hasn't hit his transition yet he's facing many difficulties. First there's the nightmares; are they just dream, or memories? He also can't look at Beth, the queen, without seizing and he feels like he knows her from somewhere. He was also so insecure and unsure of himself when he started training, I just wanted to give him a hug! He's such a sweet character, but I know that's going to have to change when he goes through his transition.

If bathroom breaks and sleep weren't necessities, I never would have put this one down! Z's story was amazing, heartbreaking, overjoying, infuriating, just about the whole range of emotions. I loved seeing him slowly overcome his past and be able to have a real relationship. I loved that Bella was so strong and never gave up on him. I loved Phury's (unhealthy) devotion to his twin! I just loved everything! Yes, I shed more tears! I can't help it!

The Thursday Theme [2]

I've decided to this bi-weekly for now.

When you add books to your to-read pile have you been noticing a theme?

Are you adding....
The same type of characters...Pirates, adopted, psychics?
The same plot devices...Road trips, triumphing over evil, time travel?
The same covers...Couples holding hands, girls in flowing dresses?

Whether this is intentional or not, I'm sure we've all got some trends happening on our book lists. Whatever it is, it's time to share! If you're not sure if you have any, take a look! I'm sure you'll find some. And feel free to do this on your own blog and leave me a link so I can check out your themes. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

[Review] Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #2) by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Eternal
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #2
Author: J.R. Ward
Pages: 464 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: March 7, 2006
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetite. He's the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Possessed by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him. When Mary Luce is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world, she must rely on Rhage's protection. Knowing that Mary feels the same intense animal attraction, Rhage must make her his alone...

Back to the wonderful world of vampire warriors, outdated slang, and 90's rappers! This time the story focuses on Rhage, which I was quite excited to learn more about after his shapeshifter scene in Dark Lover. It turns out that his ability is actually a curse. I felt terrible for what he has to go through both physically and emotionally. Despite his playboy facade, he's hurting. Of course that's where the woman comes in: Mary.

Mary's story is a bit of a sad one. She has leukemia, and after a remission, it's back. She's dealing with this when she meets Rhage, but it doesn't completely dominate her plot. She wasn't defined by her cancer, and we got to know many aspects of her personality. The end of her and Rhage's story made me a little teary eyed. Oh, how I love happy endings.

Mr.X is back, but this time he's got help: Mr.O. After the events of the first book, the "lessers" have decided to stop going after civilian vampires and go straight for the Brotherhood. However, it seems like Mr. O isn't completely on board for their mission. And Mr. O was pretty darn interesting, since he seems to have a wider range of emotions than the other lessers. This continuation of the plot wasn't as interesting as the first book in the beginning; there was too much construction and self loathing, but it's obvious that something major is building up. I can't wait to see what comes next.

The one subplot I wished there was more of was John's! We don't really know much about him, and I wanted to. His unknown past is very intriguing, so hopefully the next books get into it more. This time we also get to know Zsadist a bit better, and OMG I need to read his book immediately!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

[Review] Shadow Heir (Dark Swan, #4) by Richelle Mead

Title: Shadow Heir
Series: Dark Swan, #4
Author: Richelle Mead
Pages: 352 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Zebra Book
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice...

I went into this very excited and eager to know what happens with Eugenie's prophetic pregnancy as well as with Dorian. It started off a bit slow while Eug figures out how to handle the pregnancy and the birth. Then the birth happens! How does the Otherworld react? Well, let's just say they have more immediate concerns than a possible prophecy coming into action. Of course this new concern requires Eugenie's attention, and she can't take the babies with her.

While I know it was a tough decision for her to leave her twins so suddenly, I also felt like she was pretty detached from then. Sure she said she loved them and misses them and wants the best for them, but that's all it was, saying. I didn't feel any sense of her love for them, but oh well, I was more interested in what was happening in the Otherworld anyway.

Dorian is wonderful as always, and I just wanted to slap Eugenie and tell her to open her eyes and fall into his arms! I really loved the "dryad" scene, and was hoping for more, but it was still an aww moment. And then there's a scene where he and Eugenie are passing notes like teenagers, except that they were using Volusian as a messenger:

"I beg you this: do no make me keeping passing these adolescent sentiments back and forth all night."

Oh, Volusian! And no that quote does not imply that Dorian and Eugenie are back together, or does it? Why are they using Volusian as a middleman then? You'll just have to read and find out!

Kiyo, Kiyo, Kiyo. I am so glad he didn't show up until half way in. I seriously cannot stand that man! After the events of Iron Crowned he simply cannot be redeemed. I wanted Dorian to just run his sword through him and let that be that, but of course that would be too easy. Just, aaahh at him! I don't understand how he can be so cold and heartless. Some of his actions in this were nobel, but once his part was done, he went back to the same old, jerk faced Kiyo set to kill his own children. It takes an amazing author to create a character that evokes so much emotion in me, even if it's negative!

This review seems very vague, but I don't want to spoil anything! There's a great twist of course, since this is the end of the series. Unfortunately, I figured it out in Chapter 1, so it was pretty anti-climatic for me. But I was still interested in how exactly it would play out. And then there was another twist that made me squeal in joy! Then Eugenie made another HORRIBLE decision, pissed me off, and the series ended. WTF?! I am so mad her I can't even explain.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

[Review] Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Pages: 418 (Hardcover, US)
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is 100% amazing from beginning to end! It was unlike anything I had ever read and was not what I was expecting.

"Karou didn't add that she didn't need a Taser; she was more than capable of defending herself without electricity. She'd had an unusual education."

"In fact, her hair did grow out of her head that color, pure as ultramarine straight from the paint tube, but that was a truth she told with a certain wry smile, as if she were being absurd."

How could I not be immediately drawn in and intrigued by Karou after those small descriptions. Right off the bat we get bits and pieces that show that Karou is not like other girls, or other humans. The supernatural world where she was raised is dark, twisted, and utterly fascinating. Even Karou isn't sure of who (or what) she is exactly, and before she can find out she is ripped from the only family she's ever known.

Then comes Akiva, an angel of sorts. Good guy or bad guy? Karou's friend or foe? Does he have the answers that she's looking for? Am I suppose to like him? There's an air of mystery around him, and I couldn't quite figure him out at first. On the one hand, he's partially responsibly for blocking Karou from her home. But on the other hand, he didn't kill her when he had the chance.

I loved how I never knew where exactly the story was going. It was full of surprises which kept me hooked until the very end. At first it seemed to be following the typical YA Urban Fantasy format: slightly odd teenager comes into their otherworldly powers, fights bad guys, falls in love with the character you can't quite figure out. But then about two-thirds in, it changes. Suddenly we're thrust into Eretz, the fantastical realm. It's so beautifully done that I never wanted to leave! This book seriously wowed me and left me in awe.

In My Mailbox [5]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

[Review] Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander, #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Beyond the Highland Mist
Series: Highlander, #1
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Pages: 416 (Kindle Edition)
Publisher: Dell
Release Date: March 9, 1999
He would sell his warrior soul to possess her. . . .

An alluring laird...

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length—but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A prisoner in time...

She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side...

Adrienne is kidnapped from present day (1997) Seattle, and is brought to 16th century Scotland to pose as Janet Comyn, the fiance of Sidhaech James Lyon Douglas aka The Hawk (LoL). The Hawk is a womanizer and doesn't care to marry "Janet", but as soon as he meets her (after the wedding) he's suddenly jealous of the sexy blacksmith and wants her all to himself and will do anything in his power to make her love him. Meanwhile, Adrienne is way too accepting of her new persona in this change of location in time and geography; She seems to fit right into 16th century life as long as she gets her morning coffee. But she does miss her cat.

There is really no explanation of Hawk's change in character towards women, and none for Adrienne's comfort in being radomly thrown back 400 hundred years. Time travel should be more disorienting than what Adrienne displays, and there's nearly no description of the setting at all, so why bother even making this a time travel historical romance?! The story would have been better off with Adrienne being some girl taken from her village in order to impersonate Janet, since the time travel aspect is barely even touched upon. And when it is, it's dropped almost immediately as if it's not important. I was very disappointed about this, because I loved Outlander which actually shows us how the main character struggled to understand what happened to her and how she begins to adapt to her new life.

The story itself wasn't bad. I quite liked the rivalry between Hawk and Adam for Adrienne's affection, even though Moning gave next to no explanation as to why either wants her so bad. Adam is super mysterious and I wanted to know how the heck is was and what he was up to! I even found myself feeling sorry for Hawk with all of his failed attempts to woo her. However, the poorly done time travel aspect hindered my enjoyed of this book a bit. I'm not sure if I'll be continuing this series, but overall this one was okay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

One more fabulous challenge! As of today, my GoodReads TBR contains 472 books, but I intend to cut that down. I'll be going for the Married With Children level which is 41-50 books! Here are just a few books that I plan on reading:

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
Stolen by Lucy Christopher

I'll also be tackling my ever growing list of free ebooks, so that'll definitely help me reach my goal!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Completely Contemp Challenge 2012

Another reading challenge? Of course not! Okay, maybe...but I love YA contemporaries! Adult contemp, not so much, unless it's Chick Lit. I just don't care about real life adult problems. Teen problems are so much more interesting, even if they don't involve a supernatural creature (that's just a bonus!). Anyway, here's what I'm thinking about reading for this one...

1. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
2. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
3. Stolen by Lucy Christopher

1. All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
2. Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski
3. But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Site by Jennifer E. Smith
3. Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

I may change my mind and do more than 3, in which case I do have more books that I want to read! I just don't want to get too enthusiastic since I have a Paranormal challenge to do also...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

[Review] Darkfever (Fever, #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever (Fever, #1) Title: Darkfever
Series: Fever, #1
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Pages: 382 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 31, 2006
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…

This is one of those series that I've heard you either love or hate. I went into it hoping to be on the love side. I came out somewhere in the middle. I really enjoyed the story and all of the Fae background and lore, but I wasn't blown away by anything.

The writing style is very conversational. I feel like we really get to know Mac, which was both good and bad. Good because...well, we get to know her and that's important. Bad because she's a little bit annoying, which is possibly part of her personality, and that's fine. We can't always love the main character, although that would be nice. She did grow on me by the end though. What's not fine was all of the "I didn't know it then, but..." and "Later I would find out that..." Thank you Captain Foreshadowing, but we don't need you every single time something is going to happen!

Darkfever seems like a good set up for an interesting series. I'm especially eager to read more about V'lane. How could I not after Mac's first reaction towards him:

"I was instantly wet, hot, and slippery in my panties, every cell ripe and swollen with need. My breast and loins plumped just from looking at it [...] Nothing else would stop my pain, nothing else would satisfy my sole purpose in life--to fuck."


And damn that ending cliffhanger!

Monday, December 19, 2011

[Review] Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1) by J.R. Ward

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)Title: Dark Lover
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1
Author: J.R. Ward
Pages: 416 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: September 6, 2005
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood. The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

Sexy vampire warriors? Yes, please!

In Dark Lover we meet the men that make up the Black Dagger Brotherhood, but the story follows Wrath, their leader. Wrath is attempting to carry out the last wish of a dead brother, which is to help his half-human daughter, Beth, survive her transition. Wrath is a damaged hero and keeps others at arms length. I was rooting for him to find some peace in his life. He meets Beth and it's lust (and maybe love) at first site for both of them. Naturally, Beth is hesitant about getting close to Wrath until she learns about her father and her unknown heritage. From there it's a sexy, exciting ride as their relationship grows and Wrath fights to protect her.

I was also interested by the murder mystery side plot, involving the mysterious Mr. X (cheesy bad guy name alert!) and the "lessers," soulless humans who kill vampires. But I wish those parts had been their own chapters from the beginning, rather than smaller chunks mixed in with the Beth/Wrath storyline. It sometimes felt out of place, when it took me out of the romance scenes.

Havers' storyline felt like filler to me, but I really enjoyed Marissa and Butch. They were great characters on their own, and I liked what they added to the story as a whole. I hope to see them again in the following books.

Was the most well-written book ever? No, especially with random phrases such as "off the chain" and "I'm outtie," as well as the references to musicians of the 90s. But was it entertaining? Yes. Intriguing? Definitely. Fun and sexy? Heck yeah! There was the right mix of romance, mystery and suspense, and the story moved at the perfect pace. I'm definitely excited to read more about the vampires who make up the BDB (especially Zsadist) and their journey towards love.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox [4]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2012 Immortal Reading Challege

Yes, another one! This challenge was too good to pass up, especially since I'd most likely complete it by accident anyway! I love Paranormal anything, so I'll be reading for all 4 categories (Vampires, Angels/Demons, Fae, and Shifters). I haven't read much in regards to Angels and Fae, but I have plenty of books on my to-read list featuring them. And, of course, I have more than enough about Vampires and Shifters. Gotta love 'em!

Friday, December 16, 2011

[Review] Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful DisasterTitle: Beautiful Disaster
Series: Beautiful, #1
Author: Jamie McGuire
Pages: 454 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Jamie McGuire
Release Date: May 26, 2011
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Imagine you're driving down the highway and notice a car driving the wrong way straight toward another car. That car swerves to avoid the idiot on the wrong side, but then a couch falls off of a truck and they hit it. Then the car flips over, does some somersaults, and gets hit by an oncoming vehicle. Then it bursts into flames.^ You're wondering, "what the hell just happened?!" First of all, you probably pulled over and are the worst type of gawker. Secondly, you just had an experience similar to reading Beautiful Disaster.

From the very beginning I wasn't sure if I wanted Abby and Travis to get together. He's sexy, tattooed, and happens to be a genius. She wears cardigans, sucks at Biology, and likes chocolate syrup in her oatmeal. There was no way I could see these two in the same social circle, let alone being bestest friends turned lovers gone wrong. Plus Abby was either completely dense or pretending to be for most of the book in order to not see how much Travis was in love with her. Then we learn about her "shocking" secret and...

"This has just become one convoluted clusterfuck."

Indeed. Except that her secret is kind of lame, and seems to only partially explain her behavior. But it's unique and helps contribute to the insane drama. So much drama that those two almost gave me whiplash.

^Accident scenario provided by Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews.

Pinkindle Reads but no Reviews: December 1-16, 2011

I read a lot, but review less. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing something, or I just don't have much to say. Either way, it doesn't seem fair to leave these books out. So once or twice a month I'll present the books that I read, rated, but didn't review, and give a quick few sentences about what I thought of them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Thursday Theme [1]

I haven't seen this around, but if it does exist, I apologize.

When you add books to your to-read pile have you been noticing a theme?

Are you adding....
The same type of characters...Pirates, adopted, psychics?
The same plot devices...Road trips, triumphing over evil, time travel?
The same covers...Couples holding hands, girls in flowing dresses?

Whether this is intentional or not, I'm sure we've all got some trends happening on our book lists. Whatever it is, it's time to share! If you're not sure if you have any, take a look! I'm sure you'll find some. And feel free to do this on your own blog and leave me a link so I can check out your themes. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

[Review] Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger, #1) by V.C. Andrews

Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger, #1)Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
The four Dollanganger children had such perfect lives -- a beautiful mother, a doting father, a lovely home. Then Daddy was killed in a car accident, and Momma could no longer support the family. So she began writing letters to her parents, her millionaire parents, whom the children had never heard of before.

Momma tells the children all about their rich grandparents, and how Chris and Cathy and the twins will live like princes and princesses in their grandparents' fancy mansion. The children are only too delighted by the prospect. But there are a few things that Momma hasn't told them.

She hasn't told them that their grandmother considers them "devil's spawn" who should never have been born. She hasn't told them that she has to hide them from their grandfather if she wants to inherit his fortune. She hasn't told them that they are to be locked away in an abandoned wing of the house with only the dark, airless attic to play in. But, Momma promises, it's only for a few days....

Then the days stretch into months, and the months into years. Desperately isolated, terrified of their grandmother, and increasingly convinced that their mother no longer cares about them, Chris and Cathy become all things to the twins and to each other. They cling to their love as their only hope, their only strength -- a love that is almost stronger than death.

Yes, this book is old, but I still wanted to read it. While the language is very dated, the story is still engaging and disturbing. It seems like V.C. Andrews took every horrible thing that happens within families, multiplied it by ten, and applied it to the Dollangangers.

So many times I wanted to climb into the pages and slap the mother. The reasoning behind her actions was so weak, and Cathy and Chris saw this and yet they still continued to believe her as months and years passed. I wanted them to grab the twins and make a break for it, before things got worse. But of course, they were too late.

By golly (LoL), those last 20 pages were insane! I can definitely see why this book inspired such a huge ruckus when it was published. However, the incest wasn't as shocking as it was made out to be, or maybe it's just me. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series to find out what other drama the Dollanganger kids get up to.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2012 Krazy Kleypas Reading Challenge

Another reading challenge has been added to my list! I had to join this one, because I read Again the Magic a few months ago and absolutely loved it! I plan on doing category two, which is 4-8 books by Lisa Kleypas. I'm aiming to read the rest of the Wallflowers series:

Secrets of a Summer Night
It Happened One Autumn
Devil in Winter
Scandal in Spring
A Wallflower Christmas

And if that's not enough for me, I'll start either the Hathaways or Bow Street Runners series.

In My Mailbox [3]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

[Review] Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I'm normally not a fan of the "I did this. Then I did that. Then he did that. And this, that, and the other thing. *insert metaphor here*" type writing style, but I think it worked really well for Shatter Me. Juilette has been in an institution with no social contact for almost a year when she gets a new roommate. The author did a great job of showing us how nervous (and conflicted) Juliette was about this, not only because of her previous isolation, but due to her little quirk: a deadly touch.

Of course, that quirk is exactly why the Reestablishment wants her on their side. The Reestablishment is suppose to be...well, reestablishing society. However, Warner, the leader, has other plans; plans that require Juliette as a secret weapon. Warner is one of those characters that I just love to hate! He's a despicable human being, but I found myself interested in what he had to say, and what he was going to do next. His obsession with Juliette was intense and at times creepy.

In contrast to Warner, is the other man in Juliette's life, Adam. Adam was a puzzle that I was intrigued by, and I loved learning about him along the way. There was one moment about a third into the book that majorly disappointed me. I can't say what it is, since it's a huge spoiler, but I wassad it was there, even though it wasn't a bad thing. It almost felt like a cop-out to me, and makes things too easy, until we get to Omega Point. Then my opinion changed.

Omega Point is amazing so far! I loved what was revealed about it already, and I'm dying to know more about it and its inhabitants. I also want some answers! Book 2 is too far away!

"The weather, the plants, the animals, and our human survival are all inextricably linked. The natural elements were at war with one another because we abused our ecosystem. Abused our atmosphere. Abused our animals. Abused our fellow man."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

[Review] Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Bleeding Violet Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Love can be a dangerous thing...

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Don't let the gorgeous cover fool you; this book is bizarre!

" 'Did you kill your aunt?'
I ate the last bit of grilled cheese. I licked the grease from my fingers. 'Probably.' "

And that is how Hanna meets her mother! Well, that's certainly a great way to draw me in! From that point things just get weird. On Hanna's first day at Portero High, she notices two peculiarities: everyone wears black (to blend in), and they all have earplugs (to keep out the calls of hungry things). Of course Hanna is supplied with earplugs by a teacher, but she only wears purple, so she sticks out like a sore thumb. Then there's the glass statues that students group around and mourn, and the mass amount of missing person reports. Portero, Texas certainly is not what Hannah was expecting.

Hanna isn't exactly normal either, aside from her strict purple dress-code. She's on enough medication to run her own pharmacy and talks to ghosts. She's a super quirky character and I liked her immediately. Sure she's a bit strange, but she knows who she is and isn't afraid to be herself. I also liked how she displayed some vulnerability towards her cold-hearted mother. I just wished there was more focus on her mental illness, other than her mother telling her to take her pills.

I really enjoyed this book, even though some of the weirdness was verging on cheesy and ridiculous. Some of the monsters seemed to have climbed out of a Syfy Channel movie, but I'm not complaining! I like odd, and if you do too, go pick this up!

Monday, December 5, 2011

2012 Standalone Reading Challenge

I just added yet another reading challenge to my long list of challenges for 2012, but I just can't help myself! Challenges help me narrow down what to read next, and they give me some type of goal to achieve. The goal for this challenge is to read 15 standalone YA novels published in 2012. I've started way too many series, so sticking some nonseries books in my reading list will be a nice change. Anyway, one of the requirements to sign up is to create a list of what you plan to read for this challenge. Of course this list is subject to change depending on the availability of the books and my mood, among other things.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In My Mailbox [2]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Friday, December 2, 2011

[Review] Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Forbidden Title:Forbidden
Author:Tabitha Suzuma
She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

This book was truly amazing. The final chapter and the epilogue had me in tears. I don't think any other book has hit me as hard as Forbidden. While this may be shelved as YA, it does deal with some heavy topics including alcoholism, neglect, and the big one...incest. That being said, this is not going to be for everyone, but I highly recommend it if you can go into it with an open-mind.

Honestly, to me, the relationship between Lochan and Maya did not seem dirty and wrong. It was obvious that they truly cared about each other very intensely, but the circumstances were just wrong. The chapters alternate between the view points of Lochan and Maya, so we get to spend a lot of time in each of their heads. And it was so interesting watching their feelings for each other slowly change and develop, and how they had to deal with them.

Being responsible for their three younger siblings made their relationship that much more complicated. There was a delicate balance between being able to express their feelings towards each other, but also making sure that their family stayed together. One wrong move, one glimpse at a moment of inappropriate contact from an outsider, could cause them to lose everything. This conflict caused quite a bit of push-and-pull between them, which at times was frustrating to read, but also completely understandable. Even though they loved each other immensely, they also loved their younger siblings and didn't want to lose them either.

I was a mess of emotions reading this. On one hand, I was happy that Lochan and Maya found someone to be so deeply in love and happy with. But on the other hand, I felt to sad for them because I knew it couldn't possible work out, despite all of their hoping. I definitely wasn't expecting the ending to happen as it did, but reading it, it felt like the right ending to this story, even if it was hard to swallow.

I'm not sure what else I can say that without giving away major spoilers, so I'll just end by saying give this book a chance. Yes, it's about a taboo subject, but it's handled very well, and will definitely pull at your emotions in one way or another.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox [1]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to show off our newest books: purchases, borrows, ARCs, galleys, etc.

Flat-Out Love

Only one new book this week, which I purchased for my Kindle. I'm excited to get started on this one after hearing so many great things about it. I hope I enjoy it just as much!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

[Review] Bright Young Things (Bright Young Things, #1) by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young ThingsBright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.<

I feel like this story could have taken place in any other decade and been exactly the same. I was really hoping for more insight into the Roaring 20's, but instead got a few mentions of flimsy, sparkling dresses and people peacefully drinking their illegal liquor. Where was the excitement and the glamor?!

The writing was also pretty dense, with paragraph long sentences. By time I'd get to the period, I forgot what the sentence was about.

Example 1: "By then she knew that the flaky, crescent-shaped pastries they brought in the morning were called croissants, and she had gathered--although she still hadn't heard anything to confirm it--that the bizarre flowers filing the tall, rectangular silver vases all over the room were calla lilies, even though they were more austere and futuristic than any lily she had ever seen, like flowers that grew on the moon."

Example 2: "She cried for being so stupid, and she cried for the man who'd lost his life, for the things she'd known about him and the things should now never know, and she cried for the carefree, privileged world that had been hers for only a few glorious weeks, and she cried for all the years no one had loved her and all the many future years when no one would love her again."

Aside from those two negatives, the story was interesting and moved at a decent pace (although I wished for more excitement earlier on!). It's hard to write this without comparing it to Vixen by Jillian Larkin, which I think is definitely the better 20's era read, even though there are quite a few similarities between the characters and plot. However, the final chapter was much better, and makes me want to find out what happens next.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

[Review] Pure (Pure, #1) by Julianna Baggott

Pure (Pure, #1)Pure by Julianna Baggott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a free digital copy through Net Galley.

Pure is dark and disturbing. It takes place 9 years following the detonations which destroyed the Earth, turning it into a place completely unrecognizable. Those who survived have been fused with animals, objects, the Earth itself, and with each other. All except those within the Dome, the Pures.

The first 60% of this reads more like a series of events, rather than a plot driven story, but I really liked that. There's a ton of world building and character development, and it's truly fascinating to learn about this new world that has been created. However, there are time when these descriptions seem to veer off too far, get confusing, and don't seem to add anything of importance.

Overall, this was a great start to a new series. The ending wasn't exactly a happy one, but it definitely leaves a feeling of hope for the following books.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

[Review] Colters' Woman (Colters' Legacy, #1) by Maya Banks

Colters' Woman (Colters' Legacy, #1)Colters' Woman by Maya Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This started out weird, verging on creepy...well, actually some bits were just straight out creepy. That had nothing to do with the three bothers all wanting a single woman to share between them, but from the way they approached the situation after finding Holly. Simply stating "We found you in the snow and decided you'll be married to all of us. You're a virgin? That's okay we'll all take you at the same time." Uh, just no. Other than that, I did enjoy this. I liked the running from a murderous husband plot, and I'm a sucker for happy endings, even if they are predictable.

Monday, October 10, 2011

[Review] Thorn Queen (Dark Swan, #2) by Richelle Mead

Thorn Queen (Dark Swan, #2)Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not sure what to say except that I literally could not put this down during the last few chapters. It grabbed at my emotions and just wouldn't let go. If you were unsure about this series after reading the first book, I'd definitely encourage you to read this one and then make up your mind.

Friday, October 7, 2011

[Review] Storm Born (Dark Swan, #1) by Richelle Mead

Storm Born (Dark Swan, #1)Storm Born by Richelle Mead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While it was obviously a part of the plot, rape did not need to be mentioned on every other page. It really made me not want to continue reading, despite finding Eugenie badass (but that's no surprise) and the Otherworld interesting. With that out of the way...

I must say that I'm a Mead-aholic. This is the beginning of what I expect to be another great series from an amazing author. Mead has created another kickass heroine, who I can't help but love. Eugenie, aka Odile, is a shaman which is a very welcome change from all of the vampires, shifters, and other creatures of the night. She banishes unwieldy spirits from our world back into the Otherworld (and sometimes to the Underworld), but Storm Born brings Eugenie into that fantastical realm. I absolutely loved what was shown of the Otherworld so far, because it wasn't overdone. It's much like our world, minus the technology, and with supernatural creatures inhabiting it.

And Dorian! He's quickly become one of my favorite male characters. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

[Review] Bound by Blood (The Garner Witch, #1) by P.A. Lupton

Bound by Blood (The Garner Witch #1)Bound by Blood by P.A. Lupton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this from the First Reads giveaway.

Brianna is an empath. Meaning, unlike our dear friend Sookie Stackhouse, who can read minds and discern emotions, Brianna can only read emotions. Also unlike Miss Sookie, she can read the emotions of the dead. This can come in handy, since she's an FBI agent. Her current case involves multiple women who have all been drained of blood ( a quick look at the genre will tell you it's by a vampire) and who share an uncanny resemblance to Brianna.

This case generates many questions for Brianna as well as the reader: Who's killing these women and why? What is their connection to Brianna? Who is Brianna? That last one is not a philosophical question, but literally who (and what) is Brianna.

This book has a very small cast of characters which was new for me. I'm use to there being plenty of minor characters adding to the story, but in Bound by Blood we only have the three main characters, the killer, and his accomplice. This considerably cuts down on the list of suspects, but it also gives us more insights into the relationships between Brianna and the two men in life. The banter between her and Morrison is believable and hilarious. While her relationship with Nathan is electric and sexy.

I really enjoyed this book, but I must say there really wasn't any special that sets it apart from others in this genre. It was fast paced and exciting and that was good enough for me!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[Review] Angelina's Bachelors by Brian O'Reilly

Angelina's Bachelors: A Novel with FoodAngelina's Bachelors: A Novel with Food by Brian O'Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this from the First Reads giveaway.

This was a very pleasant story. Even though the first chapter involves a death, and the novel follows a newly widowed Angelina, it's not sad. In fact, it's full of friends, family, and of course, food. While the plot was extremely predictable, it was still very enjoyable. It also made me very hungry! I'll definitely be trying out the recipe for the Roman Egg Drop Soup.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

[Review] Fallen (Fallen, #1) by Lauren Kate

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Fallen by Lauren Kate
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Perhaps I've been spoiled by the amazing books I've read this week, or this book really was just bad. I didn't connect with any of the characters, and found them either irritating (Luce and Daniel) or dull (Cam and Penn). I thought the reform school scenario was an interesting change of setting from other YA paranormal romances, but unfortunately it didn't add much to the story. This was less of a love story and more of a tale of a disturbed girl obsessing over a guy who was extremely rude to her straight off the bat, while leading on the boring, cute, nice guy. Oh, and she sees shadows which make bad things happen.

I found my eyes glazing over and my brain turning to mush as I read this. But again I think this may have more to do with it not holding up to the other books I've been reading. I didn't want to finish it, but I'm of the mind "it might get better." It did...a little.

One last note: A greater, cosmic, soul-mate connection does not make up for lack of chemistry! I saw nothing that drew Luce and Daniel together, but rather Daniel just tells Luce that they're drawn together and always immediately fall in love. So if Daniel says so, it must be so. Free will be damned!