Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Somewhere In Time...

Published:  October 30th, 2012
Midnight In Your Arms
By: Morgan Kelly
Avon Impulse
ISBN-13:  9780062242600

When psychic Laura Dearborn inherits Stonecross Hall in 1926, she has no idea she's inheriting a love story too - one that she's lived again and again. But as Alaric Storm III, the handsome owner of the mansion from sixty years earlier, starts to haunt her waking dreams, Laura discovers her heart's true home has always been within Stonecross's walls.

Tormented by memories of war, Alaric Storm III is used to spirits-just not ones from the future. Set on fire by Laura's ghostly affections, Alaric is forced to choose: follow his heart and grasp Laura's hand through time, or surrender to the call of duty and live without love.

As All Hallows' Eve draws near, Alaric and Laura must find a way to hold on to each other forever-or risk repeating their tragic romance until the end of time.


     Laura Dearborn has been without a true home for most of her life, since her parents died when she was a child.  Then her brother died fighting in the Great War and she had no one left to call family.  Then out of the blue in 1926, on her 28th birthday, a lawyer comes knocking on her door and informs her that she has inherited a house called Stonecross Manor.  It was left to her in the will of the last owner, Alaric Storm III - ten years before she was even born.  Knowing it's the house that has haunted her dreams for years, Laura shuts up her flat and goes on a trip to Stonecross to try and solve the mystery.  What she doesn't expect is that she will be able to make contact with a still living Alaric, who is in 1866, through a rip in time.  With All Hallow's Eve approaching the time is coming for Laura and Alaric, now deeply in love, to decide if they will defy time to be with one another or let each other go.  And if so, will she stay in his time or will he stay in hers?  I was creeped out by the beginning of this book.  I didn't even realize it was an Avon romance at first and for the most part the quality stayed consistent throughout the novel.  It was my Halloween read this year, with spirits, psychic visions and time travel.  At first I thought the house was possessed, with the way it was described.  But really it was just a rip in time that gave the effect.  It still made me freaked out and had me imagining that Stephen King story Rose Red!  It was lighter than I expected, but I did like that he was a war veteran.  It gave Alaric an extra depth that I don't believe he otherwise would have had.  I felt like Laura was extremely blase about the whole time/inter-dimensional travel thing, but then again she was also a psychic and had been her entire life just about.  I can imagine that would be somewhat desensitizing.  Alaric on the other hand, also accepted it far too easily for a man of 'reason.'  I felt like he pretended resistance at first, but really didn't put up a fight to the idea at all.  The romance was sweet, Tess the kitchen maid's involvement was amusing and touching alternately.  It had all the right ingredients for a good, fluffy read.  I liked the ending, as it did surprise me what time period they ended up staying in; it was entirely unexpected.  Overall, a fun read that fit in with the season and it filled my longing for semi-decent time travel fiction.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via Edelweiss. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published October 30th, 2012.*

The Heart of a Fighter, I'm a Survivor

Published:  May 8th, 2012
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls
By: Julie Schumacher
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780385737739

I'm Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn't want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee's parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of "The Unbearable Book Club," CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren't friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I'll turn in when I go back to school.


     Adrienne Haus was supposed to go on a wilderness canoeing trip in Canada with her BFF (her only friend at all, really) but a knee injury has derailed that plan and left Adrienne stranded with only her Mom for company over the vacation months.  Then her Mom joins a yoga group with other Moms from school and they decide to start a Mother-Daughter book club to get through the daughters' summer reading assignments.  Attendance isn't optional and this an awkward thing at first, since none of the girls really know each other.  But Adrienne may have more in common with overachieving Jill, shy and insecure Wallis and rich party girl CeeCee than she ever thought.  As the girls make their way through the book list, Adrienne begins to question the denial she's been comfortably living in.  Who is her Father and why did he leave them?  Why won't her Mom tell her anything at all about him?  Also, why is Wallis' Mom never at book club and their house is off limits for meetings?  Engaging in reckless behavior with CeeCee becomes an outlet for Adrienne, but one night when Jill and Wallis tag along someone is seriously injured.  Will the girls be able to recover from a devastating incident that will change them forever and bring them closer together?  I liked Adrienne's writing voice, since the entire book is written as her term paper on the summer book assignments.  It also tells the story of her trying to find out who she is in relation to the world - to create her own individual identity.  CeeCee was quite annoying because she never really seemed to learn anything and really only ever caused trouble for the other girls, without any apparent remorse.  Jill definitely had more buried beneath the surface, but the majority of the book is spent with Adrienne and CeeCee, so those possibilities went unexplored.  The big mystery still left at the end of the book (with the answer hinted at, but never really clarified) was whether or not Wallis and her Mom were in Witness Protection or on the run from an abusive husband/Father/stalker.  That is definitely what it was made to seem like had happened to them.  At the end of the book the lack of resolution between Adrienne and her Mom about the Dad situation may have been realistic, but it was very unsatisfying as a reader.  Especially since that seemed to be one of the main conflicts in the storyline.  Overall, it was an interesting book and I did like getting to know Adrienne.  But I think it could have been a lot more interesting and a bit longer too.

*Books read by the girls in the novel for their book club:
- The Yellow Wallpaper by: Charlotte Anna Perkins
- Frankenstein by: Mary Shelley
- The Left Hand of Darkness by: Ursula K. LeGuin
- The House on Mango Street by: Sandra Cisneros
- The Awakening by: Kate Chopin

VERDICT:  3.25/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Monday, October 29, 2012

Breath In, Breath Out

Published:  October 2nd, 2012
Breathe (Breathe # 1)
By: Sarah Crossan
ISBN-13:  9780062118691

Inhale. Exhale. 
Breathe . . .
The world is dead. 
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


     The oxygen supply of Earth has become severely depleted and as a result, the remaining populace has to live inside domes supported by artificial oxygen, under a corporation by the name of Breathe.  They found a way to keep everyone from dying and promise that they're working to fix the outside environment...but are they really?  Inside the dome are three teens whose lives are about to change forever.  One is Alina, a girl whose parents are missing and who relies on the underground rebellion as a way to fight for a future that is made right.  But at what cost.  Then there are Bea and Quinn, best friends who live in the shadow of money and parental expectations.  Bea is poor and her parents can barely afford her.  Quinn has everything but is left feeling cold from lack of familial connections.  These three collide on a trip outside the dome, where Alina tags along for their oxygen supply and lands them in a whole lot of trouble.  But once Bea and Quinn learn the truth about Breathe and the outside world will they still want to go back to the dome?  And is the rebellion really as perfect as Alina thinks it is?  When things finally explode who will be left standing and where will they turn?  I went into this thinking, great yet another dystopian by formula.  I left with much the same impression.  I think the basic story would have been interesting - if it hadn't been done before so recently in Under the Never Sky and Masque of the Red Death.  The multiple points of view weren't helpful in creating three-dimensional and layered characters either.  They all felt really flat to me, because I barely got any time with them individually.  Also, the plot ended up feeling very paint by numbers, with even the cliffhanger failing to inspire me.  I liked the storyline with Maude Blue, the drifter/ex-Breathe employee.  It ended up being the reason that I finished the book at all.  She was an interesting addition the little walking party and definitely the most interesting of the characters individually.  The world building was seriously lacking.  I never understood how the "apocalypse" happened and what the "Switch" was.  When was the book set and how long ago had the switch been?  Overall a confusing setting, semi-dimensional characters and a recycled plot made for a fairly mediocre and somewhat dull read.  I will definitely not be reading the next one.  

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase on October 2nd, 2012.* 

Let's Level Up Already!

Expected Publication:  January 15th, 2013
Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles # 1)
By: Lenore Appelhans
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9781442441859

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.


     Felicia Ward died in a car crash two days before her eighteenth birthday, with no chance to say goodbye to the love of her life.  Now she is trapped in Level 2 of the afterlife, reliving her memories with the original intent of focusing on the ones that will teach her what she needs to learn before moving on.  But the keepers of Level 2, the Morati, have since made adjustments to the procedure and keep Felicia and a host of others locked inside their memories indefinitely so they can siphon their energy in hopes of breaking through to Heaven eventually.  The one of the girls in a chamber beside her own dies and Felicia is the only one her remembers she even existed.  Then Julian, someone from Felicia's mysterious past, finds her and offers to help her find Neil if she helps overthrow the Morati so everyone can move on.  Can she help prevent a Heavenly war or will the Morati triumph in their sinister endeavors?  I went into this very excited because I am a follower of Lenore's blog and the book's premise sounded interesting and not overused like so many other YA novels.  Unfortunately (and I hate saying this) I was left feeling very underwhelmed at the end.  I liked Felicia, but felt no real connection to her.  Learning about her life before Level 2 (a.k.a. Purgatory) was a good buildup for the novel, but at the same time a lot of the writing felt stilted and the characters felt fake.  At times it was like when I was reading Twilight in the sense that Felicia felt like a Bella - a cardboard cutout, easily replaceable.  The idea of the Morati being the lukewarm angels of the rebellion versus the ones who actively participated was a good one.  It was something that made sense - eternal waiting room for the indecisive/"bad" followers of God.  The romance with Neil was unappealing for me, because I personally have never met anyone who is that good, without any visible flaws.  It made him very boring, even as a retroactive love interest.  The whole situation with Autumn and Julian didn't make Felicia sympathetic to me and it just made Julian look like a selfish prick.  Plus the way he manipulates Felicia in Level 2 made me mad.  It felt like Felicia was just there to move the action along by making stupid/good decisions.  At the end when she finally got what she'd wanted for the entire book, I just felt very ambivalent about it.  Overall, an interesting book with lackluster characters and so-so plot resolution (which I will concede was probably in part due to being book 1 in a series).  I probably won't be reading the next one.

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on January 15th, 2013.*

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Necromancing My Heart

Published:  September 18th, 2012
Necromancing the Stone (Necromancer # 2)By: Lish McBride
Henry Holt & Company
ISBN-13:   9780805090994

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?

Well . . . not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.

But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead?

     Sam is just starting to adjust to life in Douglas' mansion, dealing with being a member of the local council and getting a grip on his necromancing powers.  He is finally starting to move past the horror of his fight with Douglas and all the pain the other man caused - but he's dead now, so it's over...right?  With a betrayer inside Sam's close knit circle, it isn't long before the shit starts to hit the fan again.  When strange things start happening and the people he loves begin to be threatened, Sam starts to question if he actually killed Douglas completely.  And if not, how do you destroy a ghost once and for all?  I was really excited for this book after the hilarity and overall fun of the first one.  I wasn't disappointed and the book drops you in right where Hold Me Close, Necromancer left off.  Sam is living in Douglas' house, using his wealth to make his friends' lives better.  And to hopefully make up for all the pain his secret powers have caused everyone.  His relationship with Brid is starting to feel more serious and the disapproval of the pack isn't standing in their way, but it is making Sam uncomfortable.  James, the personal servant of Douglas, is having trouble switching allegiances and is making things difficult for Sam, encouraging the other inhabitants of the property to make his life hellish.  These inhabitants include garden gnomes, a fierce warrior race, with names like The Darkness Known as Mittens, Gnome ChompSky, Chauncey the Devourer of Souls, Gnoman Polanski, and Chuck the Norriser.  Also, there is a minotaur and some nymphs who like to party.  My personal favorite was the pygmy chupacabra named Taco that becomes Sam's pet!  I liked the buildup between James and Sam's sister Haley, it was very sweet. 
     My main disappointment was the devillainization of Douglas at the end of the book to make him seem more sympathetic and human.  It just didn't ring true with the rest of the book.  I mean for chrissakes, the man has a zombie Keanu Reeves as HIS MINION!!!  The romance between Brid and Sam, with it's manufactured agnst at the death of her Father was ridiculous and the distrust she suddenly had for Sam was hard to swallow.  Overall this managed to avoid second book syndrome with some fairly clever dialogue, interesting new characters and decent plot twists.  But it did end up being somewhat mediocre compared to the series' stunning debut.
P.S.  The extra half star in the rating is courtesy of Thunder Gnome.  It made me laugh so hard I almost cried.
VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars
*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Such a Fine and Natural Sight

Published:  October 2nd, 2012
Tilly's Moonlight Garden
By: Julia Green
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN-13: 9781402277306

Tilly just moved into a drafty old mansion, away from all her friends. She spends her afternoons wandering around her new backyard in order to escape the cold, dusty rooms of the house. But one night, Tilly follows a fox she has seen from her bedroom window and he leads her deep into a hidden garden that is nothing short of mesmerizing in the moonlight. This mysterious garden and the special friend she meets there help her rediscover the magic in her own life.

This is the story of an unforgettable time in one girl's life and how a new home, a secret garden, and a little fox can change someone in the most unexpected ways.

     Tilly is a little girl who is feeling lonely and left out, when her family moves to a new house away from her old friends.  Also, Tilly's Mother isn't feeling well and is on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy with Tilly's soon-to-be baby brother or sister.  Dad is always distracted and taking care of something else and Tilly is too shy at first to become friends with anyone at school.  So she amuses herself playing in the hidden garden behind her new house, making friends with the fox who leads her there.  Can Tilly learn to appreciate what she has and how to make the best of it with the help of a very special fox?  This was not my usual read, especially upon discovering that Tilly is under the age of 10.  I usually read upper middle grade and YA and wasn't expecting much from this to touch me personally.  It was darker than I expected, for a book aimed at children that young.  The illustrations were gorgeous and I loved that they were black and white.  They sort of reminded me of the ones from my childhood, in books like Sarah, Plain and Tall and The Wizard of Oz.  Being of the age that I am, I just couldn't connect with Tilly and as I never shared her apparent obsession with foxes, the magic of that eluded me as well.  Probably a fun book for second and third graders, and maybe children's librarians who still posesss the magic.  As for me, my magic doesn't reach back far enough anymore to be included in the target audience for this one.  A sweet, if dark book but not the one for me.
VERDICT:  2.75/5  Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published October 2nd, 2012.*

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Twisted Tragedy of A Messed Up Girl

Expected Publication:  November 7th, 2012
The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul # 2)
By: Leanna Renee Hieber
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN-13: 9781402262036

For Natalie Stewart, a normal life has never seemed so far away. Her only solace, Lord Jonathan Denbury, is wanted for murder. To clear his name, Denbury must return to England and assume the role of his demon doppelganger. But Natalie begins to doubt his true motives, especially as a new gentleman begins whispering in her ear. Natalie and Denbury may be able to visit each other in their dreams, but they can't escape the darkening shadows. Amid spontaneous explosions, friends turned enemies and dangerous secrets revealed, there's still a demon who has Natalie's scent, and someone is trying to resurrect the ultimate evil.


     Natalie Stewart thought that after they vanquished the demon from Jonathon's body and the painting that had trapped him was destroyed, they would finally be able to breathe easy.  Once they reach the medical practice of Jonathon's friend Samuel out west, they realize that the demon they got rid of was just the beginning and one part of a much larger and far more evil organization.  Determined to find out the real reasons behind the hijacking of his body by the demon, Jonathon makes a voyage to England the infiltrate the secret society responsible.  Natalie returns to New York to face Mrs. Northe, her partner in crime, and her Father, who she left behind with only her diary for explanation when she and Jonathon ran away.  Then she is contacted by her friend Rachel, from the sanitarium she lived in, who is being forced to tie the spirits of the dead back to mysterious items in locked boxes.  Also, Natalie is having sinister dreams, where something evil is carving runic messages on her arms.  Mrs. Northe, Natalie, Rachel and Jonathon must pool all their knowledge and resources together if they're going to stop Rachel's employer the "Doctor" before he brings upon them something evil that is beyond destruction.  And is the demon from Jonathon's past truly gone or is it in the shadows, waiting to strike one final, deadly time?  I had been looking forward to this book since last December when I first read Darker Still in ARC form.  It was beautiful, haunting, fresh and the writing sent chills down my spine.  The sequel picks up right where the first book leaves off, with Natalie and Jonathon (Lord Denbury) leaving the city by train, to go see one of Denbury's old friends who may be able to help them.  I felt like this book wanted to have as much action as the first one, but never quite managed it.  Also, the romance between Natalie and Denbury felt very stilted in this book versus in the first one.  Mrs. Northe came across as very condescending and interfering, especially the way she has struck up a relationship with Natalie's widowed Father.  The whole monster with spirits tied to it was grotesque, but it had also been done before in Frankenstein and wasn't different enough to be truly original.  The only "new" characters that really intrigued me at all were Rachel and Denbury's spiritualist performing friend, Nathaniel Veil.  Overall, not my cup of tea but a decently well written book.  I just feel very lukewarm about it, which is extremely disappointing for me as an ardent admirer of the first novel.

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on November 7th, 2012.*

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Divining the Future of Us

Published:  September 18th, 2012
The Diviners (The Diviners # 1)
By: Libba Bray
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780316126113

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces!

Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

     Evie O'Neill has a bubbly personality, loves to party and has loads of friends in her 1920s Ohio town.  She also unfortunately has a talent for reading objects and being able to tell people's secrets from them.  When she exposes the secrets of the wrong person, Evie's parents send her to live with her Uncle Will in New York, who curates the Museum of "Creepy Crawlies," thinking it will be a punishment.  It isn't too long before she's living it up in speakeasies, befriending glamourous Ziegfeld girls and partying until dawn.  Then things take a dark turn when murder victims start showing up in the city with nothing in common, except for strange and ritualistic markings made to their bodies.  The police enlist the help of Evie's Uncle Will, realizing that they are connected to something occult related.  But no one realizes at first just how sinister these murders are, with a killer who himself is no longer alive.  How do you stop a killer from striking when he can't be killed because he's already dead?  It's up to Evie, Uncle Will and her friends to figure it out before it's too late.  This was a book that I was looking forward to a lot.  I really enjoyed Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy, with it's historical and paranormal/fantasy elements woven together - its something she does well.  So I was excited to see her go back to her strong point of writing.  That said, the plot was something very different and new from the normal, run-of-the-mill YA fiction which I appreciated.  It was obvious that Bray had definitely done her 1920s research.  However, she really went to great lengths to make that obvious and she really went overkill on the 1920s slang in the book.  It was almost 600 pages of novel and almost the whole way through I really felt like I was being watched and winked at the whole time about how "smart" and period the characters were.  It was annoying.  Also, the amount of plot and world-building made things move at a mostly glacial pace and almost caused me to quit reading a few times.  There was very little character development due to how many "main" characters there were (Evie, Theta [Ziegfeld girl], Mabel, Jericho, Sam, Uncle Will, Henry, Theta, Memphis and Isaiah) and how wide the plot tried to spread itself around them.  I finished feeling little connection to any of them, even Evie who I could tell the author wanted me to care about.  Evie came across as selfish, airheaded and extremely immature 99% of the time, with the other 1% being when she showed kindness or common sense (usually followed by idiocy or unwitting meanness).  Overall, I was disappointed with the lack of character development and the overly self-awareness of the plot.  Good story, not so wonderful follow-through.  I probably won't read the next one due to my ambivalence.
VERDICT:  3/5  Stars
*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Maybe I'd Rather Starve...

Published:  September 17th, 2012
Starved for Love
By: Annie Nicholas
Carina Press
ISBN-13:  9781426894381

After almost dying of starvation to remain faithful to a mortal lover, succubus Pia Blyton now shields her heart by feeding solely on men she won't fall for. The only trick is, to create energy to survive, she must achieve orgasm. At least that rules out bad sex with her three lovers. Too bad she's a sucker for falling in love.

When her demon lover doesn't arrive for their arranged rendezvous, Pia is forced to ask her vampire lover to step in before her energy becomes dangerously low. In return he demands a favor and Pia finds herself in the hotel suite of the mysterious Valerio Hunan, who seduces her with a devastating kiss. Too late Pia learns he's an incubus who wants to lure her into marriage—a marriage without love.

As an incubus used to bedding a variety of succubi, Val doesn't understand Pia's yearning for love. He needs a succubus wife to provide him with a steady source of energy. But he wants Pia for the passion and renewed interest in life she makes him feel. Can Pia convince Val that sex isn't just for survival and love is for more than the weak?


     Pia Blyton has a feeding system that allows her to not fall in love and get hurt, but when one of her three partners vanishes her schedule goes to Hell.  And to a succubus who has a former 'eating disorder' by trying to stay faithful to one man and has had her heart broken, this is a complete disaster.  Enter incubus Valerio Hunan, a shrewd businessman looking for a sixth wife to expand his power base.  Pia's overprotective Father offered her sisters and Valerio wasn't interested - but something about Pia intrigues him against his better judgement.  When sparks begin to fly and the relationship gets more complicated than either ever expected, both of them are left hanging on for dear life.  But with the mystery behind her third lover's disappearance possibly having a more sinister reason behind it, Pia may need Valerio more than she thinks.  Is true love too much to ask for a succubus?  This was different from my usual reads by far.  It was also the first book I've ever read involving a succubus.  I can't say that I was overly impressed.  I never really got invested in the romance or the characters, my main problem being it wasn't a monogamous love story, in that only two people were married to each other.  The multiple wives just disconnected me from the start.  Plus, Pia was whiny and acted helpless all the time - it seriously got on my nerves as a reader who has little patience with the "helpless" female in literature.  I like my heroines with a spine thankyouverymuch!!!  Overall, a disappointing love story, sex scenes that felt gratuitous & fell pretty flat and a story that didn't capture my heart.  Not the one for me at all.

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published September 17th, 2012.*

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Witchy Woman

Expected Publication:  November 13th, 2012
Witch World (Witch World # 1)
By: Christopher Pike
Simon Pulse
ISBN-13:  9781442430280

Heading off for a weekend in Las Vegas with her friends, Jessie Ralle has only one worry—how to make it through the road trip in the same car with her Ex, Jimmy Kelter. The guy who broke her heart five months ago when he dumped her for no reason. The guy who’s finally ready to tell her why he did it, because he wants her back.

But what Jessie doesn’t realize is that Jimmy is the least of her problems.

In Las Vegas she meets Russ, a mesmerizing stranger who shows her how to gamble, and who never seems to lose. Curious, Jessie wants to know his secret, and in response, alone in his hotel room, he teaches her a game that opens a door to another reality.

To Witch World.

Suddenly Jessie discovers that she’s stumbled into a world where some people can do the impossible, and others may not even be human. For a time she fears she’s lost her mind. Are there really witches? Is she one of them?

   So I have read a LOT of Christopher Pike's books in the past and I am very happy that he's decided to write YA books again.  As a reader, it makes me happily nostalgic.  But this book was below par compared to his previous works.  Jessie Ralles is a solid heroine for this series and as a former library page, I loved the fact that she was one in her small town.  I didn't enjoy her pining over Jimmy, her ex-boyfriend (of all of three months), who dumped her out of the blue, cruelly and without explanation.  I also felt like he was using a tired plot device when he had the reason be that Jimmy's previous girlfriend had been pregnant with their baby.  Now Jimmy wants to get back with Jessie because the baby died and he still loves her.  After graduation the two of them and a few of their other friends go on a trip to Vegas, where Jessie meets a guy named Russ and ends up discovering that their is an alternate reality called "Witch World," where there's another version of all of them.  In that world magic exists and to merge your two selves, one of them has to "die."  In Witch World, Jessie and Jimmy have a daughter who exists in place of his son in the other reality.  An evil faction of witches have kidnapped Jessie's daughter AND Jimmy's son for nefarious purposes pertaining to the possiblity of an apocalypse.  Now it's up to Jessie and her friends to convince Jimmy of reality of magic and to get back the children before it's too late.  It sounds like there is a lot of action in this book, but the majority of it is made up of plotting and scheming.  I was kind of put off by the casual way that Jessie had sex with Jimmy and felt like a normal, small-town girl wouldn't have handled things that way.  The book moved very slowly for the first 2/3 and when it finally picked up the pace I was left feeling very ambivalent.  But the cliffhanger ending guarantees that I'll read the sequel!  It was about 200 pages too long, but overall a good start to a new series.
VERDICT:  3/5  Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on November 13th, 2012.*

Neither One Prepared

Published: October 2012
Moonlight & Mechanicals (The Gaslight Chronicles # 4)
By: Cindy Spencer Pape
Carina Press

London, 1859

Engineer Winifred "Wink" Hadrian has been in love with Inspector Liam McCullough for years, but is beginning to lose hope when he swears to be a lifelong bachelor. Faced with a proposal from a Knight of the Round Table and one of her closest friends, Wink reluctantly agrees to consider him instead.

Because of his dark werewolf past, Liam tries to keep his distance, but can't say no when Wink asks him to help find her friend's missing son. They soon discover that London's poorest are disappearing at an alarming rate, after encounters with mysterious "mechanical" men. Even more alarming is the connection the missing people may have with a conspiracy against the Queen.

Fighting against time—and their escalating feelings for each other—Wink and Liam must work together to find the missing people and save the monarchy before it's too late...


     Wink has been head over heels for Liam McCullough ever since she was a teenager and he helped save her from a bunch of vampires.  But he is determined that after his parents' disastrous marriage he will be a bachelor forever.  Than one of her childhood friends, Connor, proposes marriage to her.  Wink decides to try and fall in love with him, but every time she does her mind fills up with Liam and it becomes useless.  But there are more important things to worry about than romance - someone is abducting people from London's shadier district for some nefarious plot involving revenge for the younger sons of nobility.  They are being conscripted for a cause almost too chilling to think about - to serve as mindless soldiers inside mechanical suits, with literally no control over anything they do.  Can Wink, her wayward adopted brothers and Liam come together in time to figure out who is behind the scheme?  Or will something devastating get in the way?  I saw this on NetGalley, not realizing that is was fourth in a series of novellas.  But I decided that I would read it because the summary intrigued me - and it sounded like a good romance.  I'm not usually a fan of steampunk, but this seemed like the lite version of it so I took the plunge.  I am SO glad that I did!  Wink was a wonderful heroine, perfectly capable of taking care of herself, mechanically inclined and not afraid to show it.  She used to be an orphan on the streets and so did four of her other 'siblings' until they were adopted by a Knight and his wife.  She still acts like a normal person, even with privilege, which is a joy for me as a reader.  I loved Liam, even though his stubborn refusal to try a relationship with Wink at first because of his werewolf condition made my teeth clench.  But I couldn't stay mad at him because of his fumblingly, inept attempts to point her in Connor's direction.  He really managed to amuse me.  The mystery of who is behind the abductions and mechanical army wasn't that surprising - the reason why was VERY surprising (which was a nice change from some of the stuff I've read lately, that treat readers like toddlers).    My favorite character though, was the mechanical dog George who acts and seems to think like a real dog.  Such a sweet companion to the Hadrian family.  Overall between the family relationships, the romance, the friendships, and the sneakily good world-building I'd have to call this my favorite Carina Press novella so far.  Very good and I highly recommend it.

VERDICT:  4.25/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published October 2012.*

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Don't Wake Me Up, You're Creepy

Published:  August 7th, 2012
Wake (Watersong # 1)
By: Amanda Hocking
St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-13:  9781250008121

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs.  She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door.  He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back.  Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever.  She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove.  They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price.  And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.


     So, the above summary is from Goodreads and seems like a more than adequate enough background for someone reading this review to know what the book is about (or trying to be about anyways...).  So I'm just going to bypass my normal blurb and just jump right into the actual review portion of this post.  As a young adult author who started out self-published and was picked up by a major publishing house, Amanda Hocking is totally living the dream.  And I  really admire her for her tenacity and raw talent.  But that's what it is -RAW TALENT.  This book is a lot more polished than her Trylle trilogy (the first book of which left me gagging and cross-eyed) and you can tell an editor actually made changes to it.  But not enough to tell Amanda that she needs to amp up the action and show, not tell!  I couldn't make out whether Gemma was the main character or if it was supposed to be Harper.  Plus, Gemma spent a good majority of the book swimming and going on about an Olympic future and just tossed it aside with hardly a fight when she began to transform.  Her relationship with Alex was sickly sweet and showcases her vulnerability in a way that makes her seem sixteen going on seven.  It made me want to throw the book against the wall.  I never really got a sense of the backstory for Penn, Lexi and Thea.  Yes we're told that they originated from Greek Mythology, but the girls' more recent pasts are very sketchy.  And the book's trajectory felt very iffy, especially when it tried to go from zero to 80 in two seconds flat and ended up doing a weak, school-zone thirty.  There just wasn't enough world-building and I got the same feeling her other books gave me - she's trying to write herself into a book.  With this one it wasn't as obvious until the really bad romance started because of the swimming focus, but it becomes blatantly obvious.  Ms. Hocking there is a reason that most real people do not make good book characters, in a word: BORING.  Overall a very weak book that left me feeling like I'd wasted my time.  Good for fans of Twilight though.  And she did improve as a writer, which was worth noting.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents: Christmas in Tinseltown

Published:  October 1st, 2012
The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents: Christmas in Tinseltown
By: Frank DeCaro, Virginia Bell
Health Communications
ISBN-13: 9780757317002

Now you can put some gam in your holiday ham with The Dead Celebrity Christmas Cookbook. When it comes to holiday fun, the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age knew how to make merry – on stage, on screen, and especially on the dinner table. With The Dead Celebrity Christmas Cookbook – the follow-up to his international sensation The Dead Celebrity Cookbook – Frank DeCaro shows how to put the kitsch into your holiday kitchen as he salutes a quirky collection of celebrities who are gone, but fondly remembered every year at Christmastime.

Filled with pop culture ruminations and genuine (and genuinely delicious) recipes of the stars, The Dead Celebrity Christmas Cookbook hails such movie classics as It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas, gives three cheers for such time-honored animated gems as Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and puts such offbeat offerings as The Star Wars Holiday Special in their rightful place – the dining room! (summary courtesy of


     I have a confession to make:  I never read the original Dead Celebrity Cookbook.  But I saw this one available on Netgalley and it looked like just the sort of thing that was right up my alley as a reader.  Granted, Christmas is not my favorite holiday (AT ALL),  but I figured maybe I could get a couple of recipes to use year-round from this thing and some fun anecdotes to read about in regards to famous actors/actresses since gone.  A lot of this cookbook was genuinely fun to read and I could tell that Mr. DeCaro was very passionate about what he was doing.  That said, I sometimes felt like the background info of the specific films (versus the specific stars) overshadowed the actual recipes and only served as filler to create more pages.  Plus, it never even touched on the fact that not EVERY dead celebrity was a Christian that celebrated Christmas.  Some of them had to have been Jewish right?  So where was the Hanukkah section?  I wouldn't have minded that, especially as a reader who isn't Jewish and is always looking to try new things.  But it didn't exist in this particular book.  The chapter names and the puns they created made me smile while I was reading, but overall I felt like this wasn't the cookbook for me or the actor trivia book for me either.  It split too much between trying to be both and didn't really succeed at being one or the other.  A fun book, but not one I would read again.

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published October 1st, 2012.*

Monday, October 8, 2012

Josie Griffin Is More Kickass Than A Vampire...But Not By Much

Published:  September 13th, 2012
Josie Griffin Is Not A Vampire
By: Heather Swain
ISBN-13:  9780142421000

A hilarious take on the paranormal trend--Twilight meets The Breakfast Club!

When former good girl turned rebel Josie Griffin gets busted for what was in her mind perfectly acceptable revenge on her cheating dog of a boyfriend, she lands herself in anger management therapy. It could be worse: it could be juvvie, or she could be a zombie cheerleader like the rest of her former friends. But there's something strange about therapy--these are not normal kids. There's the wannabe ladies man with a weird accent, Johann; the blindingly gorgeous Helios; Avis with his wild dreads; and Tarren, the sprite of a girl with a wicked temper. And all of them keep talking about "powers." Josie knows that has to be impossible, but strange things start happening, and nothing weird ever happens in Indiana. After all, there're no such things as vampires, werewolves, Greek gods, or fairies . . . right?

     Josie Griffin had the perfect boyfriend, great best friends and was living the teenage dream as a popular high school cheerleader.  Than she found her boyfriend kissing one of her BFFs - and found out the other supposed best friend knew and didn't say anything.  So you can't really blame a girl for busting out his windshield...right?  Except now she's court ordered to attend anger management therapy and do community service.  Not so bad, except when she lands in a group where everyone believes they're a mythological creature.  There's a vampire, a shapeshifter, a fairy, and what might be a Greek God.  Then girls from the shelter that Josie is working off her community service at begin to disappear.  It's up to Josie and her new friends to figure out what's going on, before it's too late for the girls that are still left.  But can Josie fit in with these kids, even though she's just a human?  This book started off very promising and I was laughing during the first few chapters, at Josie's fun personality and cheering for her continued strength.  It didn't last.  Josie stays consistently okay as a lead character, but is very shallow for the entirety of the book.  She never undergoes any real character development and neither do any of the others, especially her love interest Helios.  I felt like the more interesting characters in this were Tarren (the fairy) and Kayla (one of the girls from the shelter).  It was very predictable, in a Saturday night B-movie kind of way.  I smiled a few times, but overall I really did not connect with this one at all.  The resolution to the mystery was very obvious throughout the whole book and it made me groan at the cliche of it all.  A cute read, but nothing deeper below the surface. 
VERDICT:  2.75/5  Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  It became available for purchase or at your local library on September 13th, 2012.*

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Deadly to My Brain

Published:  September 2nd, 2011
By: Cindy McDonald
ISBN-13:  9781463647193

The novel is the first in a series about the West family, proprietors of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm, and their friends and associates in the world of horse racing. Socially awkward George gives everyone at the racetrack a creepy feeling and is avoided by all. But he uses an online portal to create a very different alternate identity to romance a multitude of attractive women including Kate West and her brother's ex-wife, Ava. When Mike West is forced to fire George, frustration and jealousy combine to make the voices in the jockey agent's head unbearable. Soon people start turning up dead and the path of destruction leads right to the West family home.


     Kate West hasn't had much luck with lasting relationships and love.  So, she decides to give in to cultural pressure and join a social networking/dating website to find her Mr. Right.  What she is unaware of is that George, a very socially awkward jockey agent, is obsessed with her and pretending to be someone else to catch her interest on the site.  But when he asks Kate out while working with his jockey at the ranch and she denies him, obsession turns deadly very fast.  When George is fired by Kate's brother Mike and spurned by Mike's ex-wife Ava, he has a full-on psychotic break with reality.  When people begin to die, can Kate and Mike find a way to survive the greatest chaos they've ever faced?  I had my doubts to begin with, as this is basically self-published and it's a very cliched subject matter.  However, it sounded like it could be a fresh, exciting take on an old plot line.  So I gave it a shot.  I wish that I had never wasted the space on my Kindle for this supposed piece of literature.  It got off to an okay start, but it just disappeared when the characters really got going with their stupidity.  It read like a very badly written soap opera, with bumbling police officers and one-dimensional characters.  The most complex character was George (the psychopathic killer) and even he seemed like a badly reconstructed rip-off of other creations in past literature.  Kate and Mike were stupid, annoying and completely unpalatable   Every time they started to show some sense, they completely negated it by saying or doing something utterly inexcusable for a mature adult.  Ava was a waste of space and served only as a plot point, to move things along.  All I wanted was for the book to be over and it seemed like the author dragged out the murder plot twice as long as she needed to.  It had a completely ridiculous ending and if it had been a print book I would have thrown it against the wall.  I will never subject myself to this sort of torture again.  NEVER.  

VERDICT:  1/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published September 2nd, 2011.*