Wednesday, July 01, 2015

4.5 star review for The Last Academy


The Last Academy 
By: Anne Applegate

Published: April 30, 2013 by Point
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Supernatural 

Overview:
What is this prep school preparing them for?

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. 

There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. 

She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam—and readers—stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

Snack Size Review:
I found this a thought provoking book that had a good traction to it. For a debut novel, I thought it exceptional. It took me a couple chapters to get into it, but I felt the author did a great service to its young main character by sticking to what that age's typical reactions would be and troubles with friends. Many of us... older... and hopefully... wiser, may baulk at this, but I felt it lent to the authenticity of the characters. It had a dose of mythology mixed in, but wasn't explained until the later half of the book. For those who aren't familiar with certain mythologies (I don't want to spoil it) it could be confusing. Some writing seemed a bit forced, trying to write in poetic proise where it seemed awkward, but overall it had suspense, thought provoking philosophical concepts and compelling characters. 

Siren's Fury by Mary Weber: 5 star review for shattering my mind... again!


Siren's Fury (Storm Siren Trilogy, Book #2)
By: Mary Weber

Published: June 2, 2015 by Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins
Genres: High Fantasy, Supernatural Abilities, Magic, Un-human Creatures, Kingdoms and Swords, World Building, Suspense, Action, Thriller, Horror, Romance, Court/Political Intrigue, Mystery, Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Steampunk 



Technically 4.8 rounded to 5

Overview:
"I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it's no use. The curse I've spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists."

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?


Review: 

Holy Mother of All Books....



That was exhausting. I literally collapsed reading this latest installment to the Storm Siren Trilogy.



From overwhelming joy, nerve wracking fear, heart gutting grief, soul searing anger and mind blowing surprise... my soul was overwhelmed with the cornucopia of emotions wrought out of me. 


Let me start with my three favorite characters. Eogan, Nym and Rasha. But let's get to Mr. Darcy in the flesh... Eogan. Can I just reiterate how much I love this man? He pushes Nym to look for the best in herself no matter what. Even if its from a memory of him. Their love was so powerful.


The ending of the last book had me crying out for "my prreeeccciiiooouuuusssss." Yes. I wailed for Eogan. And for all that Nym lost. Nym.... oh honey. I wanted to bang her in the head and squeeze her to pieces at the same time. As strong as she was and brave, she still had so much to learn about herself, others and life. Her journey in this book is one I think we've all taken in our own way. It's what makes her so relatable in such an unrelatable world. But I could feel all her emotions and left me a shell shocked.


Rasha has become one of my favorite characters. This girl was so awesome. She had this grace, yet massive spunk that made for a rare combination. We got to see much more of her and you will fall in love with her too. Mary left a lot for us to discover about her and her background so I am pacing for the next book.

I won't spoil this for you, so all I can say is that this was more a more strategic book and the tension and emotion was so powerful I had to put the book down every once in a while. It was overwhelming me.


My daughter actually brought me a bunch of tissues and all three hugged me... a first... because I was sobbing like at a funeral of a best friend... for huge chunks of the book. The whole length of the book. It seriously took my heart and ripped it out. Gutted.


Mary yet again delivered another power packed, mind bending novel full of convoluted and elaborate plot twists that left my head spinning.


Mary used her skills to create a new vision of other countries in this world. She developed complex and variant lands that were juxtaposed to make for a bizarre and intriguing landscape. The last book had some thrill, but pails in comparison to the horror in this book. Darkness, evil, nasty creatures and gruesome practices were integrated throughout the book and invaded my mind. 


There was some serious nausea for a few sections. Mary's super descriptive and meticulous writing created vivid and tactile scenes that will probably haunt my dreams for the next week.


I did find the pace a tad slow for the first half, but that may be in part to how impatient I can be. Nym's impatience to do what she needed certainly bleed through the pages and seeped into my heart. I needed answers and the anxiety was killing me.


I can proudly declare that I was a wreck reading this. Which, as you know, makes me shout of the excellence of the writing. Character development is another big aspect for me and I was not disappointed. Mary has a soft hand when it comes to her characters. She writes deftly with organic development, not "oh-my-character-needs-to-grow-up" paragraphs plopped into a scene or chapter. It flows... sometimes without conscious awareness of it till you look back and get an "ah-ha" moment. 

Mary's ending was yet another kick in the pants. Holy Cannoli, I sat up shrieking several times. The chapter yet again made me almost wet my britches. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to skip to the END. PROMISE ME! You MUST read the whole thing. Because if you don't... it will make NO SENSE. But when you do get  there... Holy Herd of Cows.... what a cliffhanger. Yet again!


Another standing ovation for an incredible book!


I am clapping like crazy with grabby hands for book three. I think the wait just my kill me!



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

5-Star-This-Book-Just-Blew-My-Brains-Talk-About-A-Book-Hangover Review for Storm Siren by Mary Weber


Storm Siren (Storm Siren Trilogy, #1)
by: Mary Weber

Published: August 19, 2014 by Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins 
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Action, Paranormal, High Fantasy, World Building, Supernatural Abilities, Court Intrigue, Kingdoms, Non-Human Creatures, Romance, Swordplay, Magic, Adventure, Dystopian, Slight Steampunk


Overview: 
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
 


•••

Review: 

This.... you see me. OK, maybe you don't actually see me... but imagine this MAMA sitting at her desk doing her "holla" happy dance.....




Here is this fierce chick. I mean FIERCE. Like... the ONLY other character I wanted to ever be other than her was Firestorm from Spider-Man and Friends. And.. OK... Anne of Green Gables because...GILBERT BLYTHE. Nym is authentic. She is not one of those MC that you see that has it all together. Polished... not her. In control... uh, no way. Capable of a wide range of emotions... GIVE-A-GREAT-SUBSTANTIAL-YELL Yes. You mess with someone she cares about or some innocent person.... watch out.


And Colin. I loved him. Loooooooved him. He is the best friend that every girl wants to have. He completely had her back when no one else did and went to bat for her every time.


The writing. Oh Lord. Can we have a moment of silence.....

It was PHENOMENAL. I mean breathtaking. Richness, corporeal, monumental, and textural all mixed together and merged onto a cohesive and lavish storyline canvas that should be framed and put up at the MET in NYC. The writing was dimensional, incredibly descriptive and decadent. If you are a fan of High Fantasy, you will be blown away.

Honestly... I feel the need to pause for a standing ovation here....


I am a spoiler free zone as you know, but what I can tell you is this. The floor will drop from under you. Over... and over... and over again. You will scream.



My jaw came unhinged probably eight times. That is a reading record. My daughter had to slide over and push my chin up. My kids laughed at me. However, I am a strong reader and would not be daunted by their lack of concern for my reading mental state. (Any serious readers out there have my back on this...)


Imagine those new roller coaster rides where it looks like you are dropping off the face of the earth? Yeah... the pressure and suspense in this book was worse. My husband actually rubbed my back at one point and "suggested" I put the book down for a while. AS. IF.... 


Any good book with thrills will also creep you out. Some readers like full on gore while others like subtlety. I found this about 75% disturbing so there were scenes where I was seriously spooked out.


Just when I thought I knew who was who and where the plot was going, Mary would through a major monkey wrench into the mix. That alone was a delectable source of tension.


Endings can make or break a book. This ending broke me. My daughter heard me whimper and found me rocking back and forth. Yes... I will admit I was brain fried at the end.


Emotional responses are crucial to excellent writing, and this book sucked mine like a pack of football players tucking into an all-you-can-eat buffet after beating their main rival in overtime. Be prepared with your favorite plush and a carton of ice cream.


The secondary characters were just as thought out and executed brilliantly as the main. Scenery was lushly described. Pacing was perfection. Can you tell I'm seriously giddy about this book?


I hadn't had such a visceral response in a while from a book. The pretzel twisting plot had me in a tizzy.



When I realized I could get the next installment since it is already on shelves, I wanted to write this now because I will be riding like De Ville out for revenge to the bookstore and tucking in till I've finished. You NEED this book. I NEED this book.


So I am dragging the kids into the car with promises of ice cream cones so I can get my hands on Siren's Fury. Oh... and did I mention how gorgeous the cover designs are? Well... see you when I pull my nose out of the next book!

Monday, June 29, 2015

4.3 Star Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain



The Shadow Prince 
(Into the Dark, book #1)
By: Bree Despain

Published: March 11, 2014 by Egmont USA
Genres: YA, Action, Greek Mythology, Modern Day, Music, Romance, Mystery, Social Issues



Overview:
Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.
 



REVIEW:
Though the first few chapters were slow, the book did pick up pace and by the end I was hanging from tender hooks watching events unfold. Bree's abilty to inject a character into a foreign world and retell items and language from their knowledge base is fantastic. I would sit there and ponder what they were talking about and then cry out, "oh its (fill in the blank)!" 

Though this is a Greek Mythology based book, it focuses entirely on Hades, a slight addition of Zeus and a footnote on Apollo. The rest of the gang (Athena, Aphrodite, etc) aren't mentioned.... yet. Based on what happened at the end of the book, we may yet see the entire family enter the scene. 

Haden is a character that I want to pick up and take home with me. OK... that sounded bad. Let me rephrase... I just want to take him under my wing. The poor guy just can't catch a break. Talk about a horrendous childhood. I hope we get flashbacks of his Mom in the next book, because she was such a wonderful influence. 

Daphne needed  a little more clarifying for me. She seemed somewhat nondescript until the last few chapters. I actually found Dax, Lexie and Garrett to be of significant interest and I hope to see more of them in the next installment. It just goes to show you once again that every person has a past and hidden hurts, and the people who act out the most are usually the ones in the most pain.

Bree had a significant amount of plot threads interweaving throughout the book and left a nice ending to  get me grabbing my wallet to go get The Eternity Key, book two, which is out now. 

Looking forward to the UPS man knocking on my door in 1-3 days! ;)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout - 5 star snack size review



Scorched (Frigid, #2)
By: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Published: June 16, 2015 by Spencer Hill Press
Genres: NA/New Adult, College Life, Abuse, Recovery, Mental Issues, Contemporary Romance, Gritty, 


Overview:
Sometimes life leaves a mark…

Most days, Andrea doesn’t know whether she wants to kiss Tanner or punch him in the gut. He is seriously hot, with legit bedroom eyes and that firefighter body of his, but he’s a major player, and they can’t get along for more than a handful of minutes. Until now.

Tanner knows he and Andrea have had an epic love/hate relationship for as long as he can remember, but he wants more love than hate from her. He wants her. Now. Tomorrow. But the more he gets to know her, the more it becomes obvious that Andrea has a problem. She’s teetering on the edge and every time he tries to catch her, she slips through his fingers.

Andrea’s life is spiraling out of control, and it doesn’t matter that Tanner wants to save her, because when everything falls apart and she’s speeding toward rock bottom, only she can save herself.

Sometimes life makes you work for that happily ever after…
 


REVIEW:
JLA delved into dark and troubling waters in Scorched. There are a lot of issues at play, and the characters are trying to puzzle together what the specific issues are and how to deal with them. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but this is a rich and gritty nose dive deep into the hearts of people suffering from things they think is way beyond their control, but could manage if they faced truths and took the first step. 


The relationships are complicated, the dialogue dense and authentic, the pace is realistic and the tone is natural. Jennifer uses her unique brand of wit, quips and internal musings to genuinely envelope the reader into each character's inner thoughts. 

This story is about as real as it gets without it actually happening to you.

Excellent and moving. Longer Review Coming.

One Bite Quicky Review: #Selfie by Cambria Hebert


#Selfie (The Hashtag Series, book 4)
By: Cambria Hebert

  

Published: March 9, 2015
Genres: NA, College, Recovery, Dating, Drinking, Abuse, Sports, Humor, Contemporary Romance, Family Issues, Sexual & Other Abuse, Social Issues, Texting


Overview:
It’s all about the #Selfie.

She was the one girl I never wanted.

Until I had her.

One night.

One mistake.

Something we both wanted to forget.

I got rid of the proof. The one piece of evidence that could remind us both.

At least, I thought I did.

When it shows up on the school Buzzfeed, rumors fly. Friendships are tested and the feels get real.

I don’t do relationships. I don’t open my heart.

Especially for a girl everyone knows I hate.

What happens during spring break, stays in spring break.

Until it follows you home.

Genres: 
This series just keeps getting better and better. That simple statement is not one that I use all that often as many series go soft after the first installment. Hebert keeps it fresh, while tying it all to the previous books. She has a finesse about her writing, an innate ability to know when to inject humor and balance incredibly deep and troubling subjects. It made me grateful that she touches on the harsh and sometimes evil side of social media and the severe bullying that it causes. There are other topics I don't want to really spoil for you, so I'll just say she handles it truthfully and skillfully. 

I am beyond excited for book five.

Longer review coming.

5 Stars Quick Bite Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West


The Fill-In Boyfriend
By: Kasie West
Published by: Harper Teen
Released: May 5, 2015

Genres: YA, High School, Social Issues, Relationships, Contemporary Romance, Humor

Overview:
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.
--------
Review: 
I have fallen completely in love with Kasie West and her novels. No matter what the genre, the storyline, the plot, West captivates and engages her readers. In a nutshell, when I pick up one of her books, I sit down, get comfy and hear Jean-Luc Picard's luscious voice say, "Engage" in my head. Everytime. Yes, I am a sci-fy geek but I digress. 



This book lived up to her high writing standards. Complex characters written in a digestible format. Don't get me wrong, it's not fluff but conversational. My favorite kind of style. 



You will love this tale. I wanted to beat the MC over the head with their own book early on, but do not fret, for West develops and matures her characters like the finest wines. Gia irritated me like a tub of sand where the sun doesn't shine but she grew on me and blossomed. There are some real life lessons to be learned from the situations she gets herself into. Everybody will get dumped. Everyone will feel insecure. And everyone will learn one way or the other who their real friends are and what is most important in their relationships. 

Real. Organic. Witty. Interesting. Surprisingly deep.

Bravo.



A Court of Thorns and Roses 5 star snack size review


A Court of Thorns and Roses 
by: Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's

Genres: Fairy Tale Retellings, YA, Suspense, Fae, Paranormal, Good vs Evil, Magic, Fantasy, Action



Overview:
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Snack Size Review:
Break out the minions for this one...


An incredible, fantastic retelling of a tale stuffed with determination, discovery and growth. This was beyond excellent. Gripping, deliciously taunting and undeniably deep, this book will make you hug your blanket, grab your tissues and pump fist the air. I need a sequel.