Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bite size 5 Star review of The Summer After You & Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The Summer After You & Me
By: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski 

Published: May 1, 2015 by sourcebooks fire
Genres: YA, Contemporary Romance, Recovery, Hurricane Sandy, Natural Disaster, Social issues, Marine Biology/Sea Life, Family & Friend Drama, Philosophical 

Rating: 5 stars

Overview:
Sunbathing, surfing, eating funnel cake on the boardwalk—Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. For her, it's not just the perfect summer escape, it is home. And as a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in over Memorial Day weekend, crowding the shore and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Lucy wants more from love than a fleeting romance, even if that means keeping her distance from her summertime neighbor and crush, Connor.

Then Superstorm Sandy tears apart her barrier island, briefly bringing together a local girl like herself and a vacationer like Connor. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm. And day after day, week after week, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and broken home. Now with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?

Review:
This book was so balanced. It was like surfing a wave: the freshness of the plot, the tension in the character dynamics, the excitement of emotional suspense and the satisfaction and joy of a solid ride. No one else has written a book from this perspective about Hurricane Sandy, and it will open many eyes. What I love is the gloriously harmonious mixture of natural disaster, marine life, family drama, romance and deep psychological/philosophical thought. I can't think of a more perfect summer read. Or anytime of the year read for that matter. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

EXCITING NEWS from Author CORA CORMACK!!!!!

The lovely and talented Cora Cormack has some HUGE news to share on her site! I won't spill the beans except to say........ There are MORE books coming :) dances in living room, clapping hands like a seal...

Just click on the link to find out all the delicious details!!!

http://www.coracarmack.com/the-one-with-a-new-series/

What I've been doing all week!


No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I did land in Marathon Key Florida though! I had family arrive to visit as soon as I got back. Now that everyone has left, I'll be posting reviews from what I read on the trip. Hope you are having a great summer! (Or Winter for you in the Lower Hemisphere ����)





If you haven't visited the Florida Keys, I highly recommend it! There are great deals to be had, and two airports in the keys along with Miami International just an hour's drive away. Beautiful views, great book, what more do you need?! 



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Snack Size Review: 5 stars to The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord



The Start of Me and You
By: Emery Lord

Published: March 31, 2015 by Bloomsbury
Genres: YA, Contemporary Romance, High School, Death, Recovery, Social Issues, Realistic Fiction, Family Drama


Technically 4.6 rounded to 5

Overview:
Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics, The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Snack Size Review:
I loved Emery's debut novel, Open Road Summer. Her second book was just as brilliant. Paige is our main character, and she is still reeling from the death of her first boyfriend. I must say, it would have been more believable if they had been friends or dated for a longer time. It surprised me how horrifically and completely devastated she was. Granted, the people around her, save her trusty BFFs, were compounding the problems.

Overall I thought it an organic, filling read. It deals with several issues very well and I started to get a real emotional pull a few chapters in. Well done.



5 Star Review: Spellbinder by C.C. Hunter


Spellbinder (Shadow Falls Novella)
By: C.C.Hunter

Published: June 30, 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Witches/Vampires/Shifters, Mystery, Action, Suspense, Romance



Overview:
When magic, romance and family secrets collide, the result is spellbinding!

Miranda Kane has always felt like a screw up–at least when it comes to her ability to wield magic. Her only sanctuary is Shadow Falls camp, where she’s learning to harness her powers as a witch. But thanks to her shapeshifter boyfriend who called it quits and ran off to Paris, both her heart and powers feel broken.

When she unexpectedly lands a top spot in a spell casting competition in France, she flies out with her best friends Kylie and Della. But her trip takes her straight into the heart of a dangerous supernatural mystery–and a heated romance. What Miranda doesn’t expect is for her investigation to unleash shocking revelations…about herself, her family, and her arch enemy. Now Miranda must step up and show everyone that she’s a witch to be reckoned with….before it’s too late.
 


Review:
My girl Miranda FINALLY gets to show her point of view. Whooo Hooooo!!



Miranda is probably the most overlooked character in the series. People probably write her off, but she is has a lot of layers. Deep, deep, DEEP down. HAHAHAHA... seriously.... she may give off the impression of a hyper and super easy going girl, but she has had a lot to deal with. However, I can only hold my book close to give her sympathy and her life takes several nose dives. The poor girl just can't seem to catch a break.



Anyone who has had their heart tramped with a herd of elephants can feel her pain. Then let's tag on her older issues with her parents and her mom's expectations. Plus her Dyslexia effecting her abilities. Fast forward to her trip to France where even more issues rear their ugly heads and things get dangerous.

This series is one of my all time favorites, and C.C. never lets it become stale or boring. The writing is fresh, meaningful, witty, gripping and I could binge read this all week. 

If you haven't read the series, then start with book one, Born at Midnight. You will get hooked. It's like crack. Well... since I've never done that, I say its like chocolate. Or bacon. You can not put it down, all willpower to stop is gone and you can't get enough. 
YUM!



Needless to say that I will be slightly hysterical in my glee when the next book comes out. 



4 Star Review: The Eternity Key by Bree Despain


The Eternity Key (Into the Dark, Book #2)
By: Bree Despain

Published: May 12, 2015 by EgmontUSA
Genres: YA, Greek Mythology, Modern Day, Action, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Mystery


Overview:
Fan-favorite author Bree Despain continues her modern-day romance trilogy inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades with this second book in her Into the Dark series. 

Haden Lord, the disgraced Prince of the Underrealm, has chosen love over honor and will do everything in his power to protect Daphne Raines, the human girl he was supposed to bring to the Underrealm. Haden’s choice is put to the test as the Skylords and a figure from his past arrive in Olympus Hills with a plan that could destroy all of the realms.

Embracing her destiny as the Cypher, Daphne begins to understand the immense power of her musical ability to control the elements, but she must come to terms with her feelings for Haden and what she must sacrifice in order to protect him and her friends.

Believing the Key of Hades is the only thing that can stop the Underrealm Court from releasing the monstrous Keres on the mortal world, Haden, Daphne, and their friends set out to find the Key before Persephone’s Gate opens again on the spring equinox.

Review:
The crap got real in this second installment to the Into the Dark Series. It was hitting the fan... big time. With the stress the group faces back in Olympus Hills once again with the hunt for the key, Haden stewing over his feelings, the Skylords and the other figure wreck mayhem and havoc on their plans, I felt shoved into a pressure cooker like a ham on Sunday.

Let's start with Haden and everything he's dealing with. Visions of the Genie from Aladdin saying, "Tell Her the TRUTH!" kept dancing through my mind. Honestly, I got how he felt, but it seemed like overkill to drag it out.


Most of the time, I sat biting my nails or wanting to smack the characters over the head with their own book.


As you all know, I deeply value emotional response from a novel.... unless it is just really written badly. Then I say, UGH. Do not fret, this book was very well written, with lovely characters and tense scenes. Daphne is still written with a adolescent point of view (which is good as she is still young) but we see some growth, especially towards the end of the book. She starts to see things from others' points of view and learns that she needs for forgive others, even for her own sake. 

There were some scenes I felt dragged on a bit, a few story threads I felt neglected, but overall I was yet again impressed by the writing. I saw something coming along the way, and wished I could have chanted, "I KNEW IT!!" with someone when it came to pass. No spoilers, but you'll probably figure it out too. 


Bree has a knack of piling on the "oh no" moments at the tail end of her books. The last chapter had me shrieking. Seriously gave me a heart attack. NO PEAKING people, you have to read the whole thing!


So congratulations to Bree on another well done novel! Can't wait for book three!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Snack Size Book Review: 4.3 stars for Turtle Bay by Tiffany King


Turtle Bay 
By: Tiffany King

Published: March 20, 2015 by A. T. Publishing 

Genres: Beach, Summer, YA, Social Issues, Family Drama, Contemporary Romance, Environmental Issues

Rating: 4.3 stars

Overview:
If you're a teenager in a small, rural area, how do you exist when your eccentric, free-spirited parents are the town freaks everyone laughs at?

For sixteen-year-old Rainbow Honeywell—or Rain, as she insists on being called—the answer was to become the queen of all pranks. She never wanted to be a troublemaker, but the label quickly stuck when everyone in Huntsville, Kansas, became a target. All she wanted was to deflect the negative attention off her parents, but Rain's plan backfired to the max, landing her in a heap of trouble with the local authorities and expelled from high school.

An unexpected inheritance offers Rain an opportunity for a new beginning when she and her family move across the country to the quaint beach community of Turtle Bay, Florida.

Determined to make the best of her second chance, Rain vows to walk the straight and narrow, hoping her parents will fly under the radar while she soaks up some fun in the sun, sandy beaches, and hot, tanned guys. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong new friends, and a late night party lands her back in the kind of trouble she had been hoping to avoid. As the newbie in town with a record, Rain takes the brunt of the punishment when an unforgiving judge chooses to make an example out of her and slaps her with enough community service hours to keep her busy until she is old and gray.

Facing the harsh reality of paying for the actions of others while atoning for her own past sins, Rain is paired up with Josh Shaw, a judgmental local lifeguard whose love for the beach and the environment is eclipsed only by his distaste for those who trash it. As far as Josh is concerned, Rain is guilty and got what she deserved, regardless of her side of the story. To make matters worse, a tropical storm sits in the Atlantic, threatening to wreak havoc on the small beach community.

Things slowly change as Rain begins to appreciate her surroundings through Josh's eyes, proving she is not the person he thinks she is. Their feelings for one another blossom as the tropical storm grows into a hurricane and bears down on Turtle Bay. With impending danger looming, the small beach community must come together in order to ride out the storm.

Review:
Looking for a fun, yet surprisingly deep beach themed book for summer? Look no further. Turtle Bay was filled with various issues to get philosophical over, characters to cheer on as they developed 
and an enjoyable plot to sink into. A fast read, yet had substance, this is one book you should take to the pool/beach. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Cover Reveal: Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2) by Victoria Aveyard


Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)
By: Victoria Aveyard
To Be Published: February 9, 2016

Overview: 
If there's one thing Mare Barrow knows, it's that she's different.

Mare Barrow's blood is red — the color of common folk — but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince — the friend — who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: She is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

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!