12/28/14

Book Review: Jackaby - William Ritter

Title: Jackaby
Author: William Ritter

Synopsis from Goodreads:   
“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Review:
I picked up this book because I loved the idea of a paranormal Sherlock Holmes, however it took me quite a while to really get invested in this book.  I think that was because this felt more like watching a TV series than  a movie.  As a reader you get a pretty basic idea of the characters and who they were, Jackaby being the easiest since we all know Holmes pretty well, but I didn't really feel like I got any character depth on any of them.  Jackaby's character was my favorite because while he did echo all the parts of Sherlock everyone loves, he was very much his own character exhibiting a bit more compassion and personable attributes that Holmes lacked.  I enjoyed the diversity of characters and the legends/theories/stories presented; they made the discovery of 'who-did-it' part of the book more enjoyable.  I believe that people who enjoy Sherlock Holmes, and (in my opinion a better comparison than Dr. Who) the TV Series Grimm, this book (series) will have a lot of appeal.

Rated:  PG
Genre: Fiction - Mystery
Rating: 4 Stars

11/21/14

Book Review: Roomies - Lindy Zart

TitleRoomies
AuthorLindy Zart

Synopsis from Goodreads:  
Graham Malone is my roommate, my personal eye candy, the reason I get up in the morning smiling (that could be from the illicit dreams I have about him too, I suppose. Let's move on.). He's also beautiful to look at, but his heart is where his true beauty lies. Take away the exterior and the interior still shines. 

I love him. I mean, I'm pretty sure I do, having never been in love before. Anyway, it seems legit. 

And now his brother Blake is here, and, well, he's the complete opposite of Graham. Sarcastic, brooding, and totally available. But he's leaving soon, and Graham's the one I want. I shouldn't have to remind myself of this, right? I wouldn't have to if Blake would quit looking at me like I'm something yummy and he's starving.

Here's a toast to roomies; the ones you should never fall in love with. Or something.

My Review:
Roomies was “laugh-out-loud” fun, romantic read; filled with plenty of sarcasm, wit, antics, broody jealous guys,  strange parents, a love triangle, and a bit of forgiveness and reconciliation.  The voice of this book, Kennedy, is self-proclaimed immature (and she is), she is very ‘blonde,’ can’t drive worth a lick and deflects meaningful conversations with banter and sarcasm; but she becomes very insightful at moments as well, which would usually seem strange but somehow worked for her character very well.  It actually redeemed her, because let’s face it; she sometimes even got on my nerves, especially when she was absolutely oblivious to Graham’s  (roommate) obvious adoration for her.  Graham was likewise just as oblivious, which resulted in a lot of heated moments, and even a macho “you’re mine” up against a door; but with every two steps forward it seemed like we took three back on the whole “I don’t want to mess this up” train.  Of all the characters, Blake was the only one who wasn’t actually blonde (ditzy, or otherwise…what’s up with that, Lindy Zart….why was nearly everyone blonde?), this dark brooding male was equally as appealing as Graham, and he basically knew what was what from the very first day.


Rated: PG-13 – sensuality, cussing (actually, if this were a movie it would be R, because the F word was used multiple times… in one paragraph), alcohol
GenreNew Adult
Rating: 4 Stars

11/17/14

Book Review: The Kiss of Deception - Mary E. Pearsons

Title:  Kiss of Deception (The Remant Chronicals - Book 1)
Author: Mary E. Pearsons

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love. 

My Review:
Kiss of Deception is a little bit hard for me to rate, because while part of me felt just a bit “eh” about the whole thing, another part of me could NOT.STOP.THINKING.ABOUT.IT.  I love the concept, the story of a young adult standing up for her rights and even wants and need; but then having to face the consequences of those actions. Lia was a strong and growing character, and I felt like I grew right along with her – I felt the injustice of an arrange marriage, her confusion as she was starting to discover her gift, and then her devastation at realizing the chain of events that has followed as a result of her running away.  The LOVE TRIANGLE (yes, of course) was beautiful, I was trapped between Rafe and Kaden, and had a very difficult time “choosing” a side, because throughout the first half of the book, both boys kind of made my heart melt.  All of that sounds great, so I’ll tell you what was wrong;  this book felt like it just draaagged on forever without a whole lot of action, and even that little bit kind of felt flat to me, which could have been the result of how long it took to get from Point A to Point B.

Rated: PG
Genre:  Young Adult - Dystopian, Romance
Rating: 3-Stars

11/15/14

Book Review: The Summer I Gave Up Boys - Kassandra Kush


Author: Kassandra Kush

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
A summer love novella 

Kaliyah Simon just broke up with her cheating boyfriend, and now that summer break is here, all she wants is a quiet, boy-free summer. To focus on work, reading, and her tan. But then she meets up with her old high school nemesis, Isaiah Winters, on the way home, and he seems more interested in being friends than enemies. Can Kaliyah lower her walls and get over seven years of pushing Isaiah away and find out what it would be like to actually be with him? 

With her best friend going boy-crazy, a twenty-first birthday looming on the horizon, Isaiah continually showing up on her doorstep, and an ex that seems to want her back, Kaliyah’s summer promises to be anything but quiet.

My Review:
What do I read when the snow falls outside but a book about summer love of course!  The Summer I Gave Up Boys is a fun, short novella about Kaliyah and Isaiah, apparently "mortal enemies" since High School with just enough spark to be something more.  I enjoyed the chemistry between Kaliyah and Isaiah, which is evident from the very beginning.  It was fun watching these two banter and bicker at each other, however if this were a full length novel I would have been really disappointed by how quickly Kaliyah dropped her resolve and went for Isaiah.  In a book that would be perfect for one of those Summer anthems with several other short stories, the story of Kaliyah and Isaiah made me smile, at times even laugh, and gave me the happy feeling of a decent HEA without a lot of drama.

Rated:  PG
Genre: Young Adult - Romance
Rating: 4-Stars

11/14/14

Book Review: The Jewel - Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel (The Lone City Series, Book 1)
Author: Amy Ewing

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

My Review:
In a cross between The Selection by Kiera Cass and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, The Jewel is a story with a class system and a bit of rags to riches (Selection), where the rich need something from the poor in order to survive (Birthmarked) and of course forbidden romance (both); this book was right up the dystopian-lover's alley!  While I enjoyed this book, I cannot say that it was among my favorites.  The relationship between Violet and Ash seemed to fall short for me for some reason, perhaps the "passion" moved too quickly?  The politics are what kept the book interesting rather than the romantic interest, which is a bit unusual, however I was invested in plot and wanted to know what exactly what was going to happen next.  And in true 'series' form; the cliffhanger, while wasn't a big shocker given the foreshadowing, left me sitting on the couch with mouth hanging open thinking, "Nooooo...."

Rated:  PG
Genre: Young Adult - Romance, Dystopian
Rating:  3 Stars

8/15/14

Book Review: The Real Thing - Cassie Mae

Author: Cassie Mae
Genre: New Adult

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from Netgalley.com; other than the joy of reading - I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com): Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world. 

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.


My Review: I try very, very hard not to read other people's reviews before I write a review myself, because I find my opinion is influencible; I find that I can see the other persons perspective on a book, and then....well, it becomes difficult to not have that same perspective. Not to say that when others hate a book, I immediately do too or anything like that, it's just that when I read the book, or think back on it - I start seeing where they are coming from and well...that's frustrating to me because then I'm left wondering (if I read the review before I read the book) if I would have felt that way anyways, or if I would have seen it myself. I'm like that with pretty much everything though, my friends know that I will be pretty upset, and have even NOT seen a movie or read a book based on someone spoiling it for me. This is ironic considering I'm sitting here typing up a review so that others can gadge whether they want to read a book or not, isn't it?

Okay, now that I've said all that, it sounds like I've got a bad review coming up, doesn't it?  Not true. But I am going to say that having Cassie Mae as a friend on Facebook makes avoiding others' reviews difficult.  The one little bit of a review I did see mentioned the lack of males who aren't naturally confident, in books; and the thing is, I agree.  Even Cassie Mae's own 'nerd males' have a certain amount of self confidence that makes them very nearly alpha in their own right. Eric, however, is suffering from a severe anxiety disorder, which sort of completely knocks him out of the over-confident category right off. Add in a jerk and verbally-abusive ex-girlfriend and you know this guy isn't going to be your typical leading man.  It was that, and the whole 'falling for your best friend' plot that had me jumping over to NetGalley.com to see if this book was listed.  (And it was my lucky day!)

What's The Drama?  Emilia ( Em, Emmy, Mia...) is super thrilled to be spending the summer with her best friend, and long-time crush, Eric, but is finding disconnecting from her electronic world long enough to enjoy him long enough.  Eric has liked Emmy for so long, but she is his best friend.  Beside, touching her leaves him feeling breathless...literally.  She is also that girl, no way she'd ever like someone like him, right!?

What I Loved:  The characters are so real!  As mentioned above, Eric is not this perfect guy; he's dealing with anxiety issues, self-esteem issues as well as weight issues. He is the opposite of over-confident, and I think it makes the book realistic. Real people have real issues. I feel the same way about Emmy.  I can probably think of several people who have a severe electronic/social media addiction (and many more with gaming addictions). Being online and talking to people we can't see makes us brave in ways we really are not, it is so easy to hide there.  Emmy also had a loneliness problem, she found solice in the people who liked her via messages, texts, emails, etc.  The attention is addicting. I know I enjoy all of the notifications on my birthday. It really makes me smile and feel good - but really, why is that?  Half of those people I don't even have a relationship with outside of the computer. 

Emmy was also easy to relate with because we have something huge in common - um, books!  It is obvious we readers understand each other since it is so easy to write one of us into a story and into a character who is otherwise not like us in anyway at all.  I smiled at her book-love every time it came up. 

Another thing to love, Cassie Mae is witty and fun, or at least her writing reflects that she is.  I am always able to laugh out loud while reading her books.  She has become one of my go-to authors when I'm looking for something fun, and just straight up fiction/romance (no paranormal, or long plots with crazy twists).  I love that I can rely on her to give me a light read that will end in that happy *sigh* that I crave.

Not So Much:  Even I was annoyed with Emmy's inability to disconnect. I have a love/hate relationship with technology, and there were moments when I wanted to punch her in the jaw because of it.  However, this is a part of her characters, and is also listed under "what I loved," because it is realistic.  Anyhow, I also ....and YES I know this is New Adult... am not a huge fan of some of the more, hmm..I don't even know how I can say it without sounding prude, but some of the sex (not the actual scenes, but the inbetween) talk, it was a bit much for me.  And I'm not into vibrators and such.  Maybe I am a prude.  Maybe I got married at 21 and have gone 13 years of married happiness without any of that sort of thing, but...I don't know, I'm not a fan of it in books.  

Can My Kids Read This?  Did you read the above paragraph?  Then my guess is, you already know that I would not recommend this book for teenagers.  :)

7/17/14

Book Review: Endless Summer - Jennifer Echols

Author: Jennifer Echols
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)Two irresistible boys. One unforgettable summer.

Lori can't wait for her summer at the lake. She loves wakeboarding and hanging with her friends-including the two hotties next door. With the Vader brothers, she's always been just one of the guys. Now that she's turning sixteen, she wants to be seen as one of the girls, especially in the eyes of Sean, the older brother. But that's not going to happen-not if the younger brother, Adam, can help it. 

Lori plans to make Sean jealous by spending time with Adam. Adam has plans of his own for Lori. As the air heats up, so does this love triangle. Will Lori's romantic summer melt into one hot mess?

Review:  Endless Summer is a duet of books that will capture your attention straight from the beginning.  It’s a summer romance on a lake, spending time with friends and working through normal teenage issues.  Two books, one story – so I’m doing the review as one.

 

What’s the Drama:  Lori is so excited for summer to have finally arrived because she now gets to try out her newly revamped teenage body on her long-time crush Sean.  In order to do so, she enlists the help of Sean’s brother and her summer best friend, Adam.  What she doesn’t know is that Adam might object….

 

What I Loved:  Oh the setting!  The fun of wakeboarding.  Just the idea of spending a summer working with your best friends, hanging out and just being outside the entire time.  Adam and Lori have something pretty good going on.  I love, love, love the “…or what” comments, and their secret handshakes.  They are cute and hot at the same time.

 

Not so Much:  I was getting very frustrated with Lori around the second book.  She really has a hard time learning from her mistakes in the worst way.  And when she and Adam get into trouble, despite it taking an entire book, it felt like Lori’s father was way too quick to recant and drop the punishment.  I was really hoping for a true heart-to-heart via father and daughter to work some of this mistrust and silliness out, but no.  I mean – yes he over reacted BIG TIME, but geesh.   I also felt like the military-school was a huge jump of a punishment, and the fact that Adam was constantly being blamed for things and the very little acknowledgement (by the parents especially) to at least apologize.  The ending was sort of dissatisfying in this way. 

 

Can my Kids Read This:  Yeah, it’s a very clean book.  I mean kissing and such, but it’s a summer romance! 

Book Review: Pan's Revenge - Anna Katmore

Author: Anna Katmore
Genre: Young Adult - Fiction, Romance, Fairytale Retelling

Synopsis (From Goodreads): “Are you ready to be kissed?” he breathes against the corner of my mouth.

My knees start to tremble and there are butterflies in my belly now. Way too many. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“I think it’s the best idea I had in a long time.”

Desperate to leave Neverland and find his love in this notorious town called London, James Hook makes a grave mistake. He puts his own wishes above those of his half-brother and once-arch-enemy, Peter Pan.

The consequences alter Peter’s life in a way no one could have foreseen. The boy who wouldn’t grow up swears revenge, and what better way than by stealing Hook’s girl?

The first to arrive in London, Peter finds Angel once again without any memory of ever being in Neverland. That gives him time to plant the idea of a ruthless pirate captain in her mind—someone who tried to kill her once and is now on his way to kidnap her again. If only this stubborn girl would stop playing with Peter’s head. He’d completely forgotten how beautiful she was. Or is it only because he sees her through different eyes now?

Through a shower of falling stars, a loop around the moon, and then a hard left at the Clock Tower—when James Hook finally arrives in London, he has to fight with a vengeance for his love and face a boy who grew up after all…


Review:  Pan’s Revenge picks up right where Neverland left off.  Angel is back in her own time, and has no memory of her time spent in Neverland, outside of haunting dream-like thoughts based around the necklace that one of her sisters brought home.  Hook is stuck in Neverland trying desperately to figure out a way back to Angel.

What’s the Drama:  Pan feels betrayed, not only does he figure out Angel inadvertently told Hook where his treasure is located, but Hook tricks him into breaking the Time-Stop curse on Neverland and is now seeking his revenge – and the best revenge he knows is to hit Hook where it will hurt the most; Angel.

What I Loved:  The chemistry between Angel and Hook is still going strong.  I was afraid of a love triangle scenario, but we were blessedly spared from that! (THANK YOU, Anna Katmore!)  The entire time I was reading, all I could think is..please let them have a HEA!

The other thing I really enjoyed is the Fairy’s involvement in Hook and Pan’s life.  It might have been deceitful in a way, but  I liked that they were concerned about everyone getting what they needed/wanted.

Not so Much:  It’s really hard to view Pan in the light that he is given in this book.  I’m purposefully being vague, but die hard Pan-Fans may not like the book because of this.  You really have to let the book stand on its own and let the ending bring you a glimmer of hope.

Can my Kids Read This:  Yes.  There is some language, and a bit of sensuality, but other than that, it’s a pretty safe read.  And it’s loosely based off of a well loved story – so you know, they are going to WANT to read it!

7/5/14

Book Review: Neverland - Anna Katmore

Title:  Neverland (Adventures in Neverland, 1)
Author:  Anna Katmore
Genre:  Young Adult - Fairytale Retelling, Romance
Amazon Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Neverland-Adventures-1-Anna-Katmore-ebook/dp/B00JLA8C50/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404564610&sr=8-1&keywords=Neverland

Synopsis (From Goodreads.com):  Why is there a boy who doesn't want to grow up?  How can an apple start the sweetest romance in fairytale history?
And what does a ruthless pirate have to do with it all?

Angelina McFarland loves reading fairytales. But she never dreamed of falling right into one herself. That’s exactly what happens when she slips on her balcony and a flying Peter Pan catches her mid-fall.

Ending up in Neverland where no one seems to age and laws of nature are out of control, Angel has no idea how to get home. Worse, the ruthless Captain Hook captures her and keeps her trapped on his ship, the Jolly Roger, where she gets caught between the lines of a timeless battle. But the more time Angel spends with the captain, the more she sees beneath his ruthless fa├žade.

As Angel desperately tries to find a way to return to her real life, she discovers a train ticket to London in her pocket. It won’t be any help in getting off the island, but as her memory fades away the longer she stays, this is all she has left to remind her of her former life and why she can’t give up trying.

Or is staying in Neverland forever the better choice after all?

Grab a happy thought and follow Angel on an adventure that will keep you breathless and smiling long after you read the last page…


Review:  I have been nosing around this book for a few weeks.  I'd look it up on Amazon.com, then move on, only to later come back to it.  Yesterday morning I finally bit the bullet and "One-Clicked" the book.  The fact that the book was on sale for the $.99 in celebration of the release of book 2 didn't hurt any.  I devoured the book.  I feel like I just consumed each word and am going to hold each and every one of them within me forever.  Peter Pan is one of my kid's favorite stories.  We've been reading the Peter and the Starcatchers Series, by Dave Barry with my kids, thus my hesitancy to actually buy this book; I was kind of "Peter'd out."   In truth, Peter, while a driving figure in the story, is present very little...

What's the Drama?  Angelina "Angel" McFarland was having an absolutely typical weekend, babysitting her twin sisters - playing games, reading stories, giggling; all things that don't normally happen when Mom and Dad are around, but then trying to get to a sweater her sister accidently threw into the tree outside her balconey, Angel slips and falls...into a whole new world.  Fighting against time and sleep, Angel wants desperately to return home to her sisters and home; all the while falling for the ruthless pirate, James Hook.

What I Loved:  I love fairytale - retellings.  Lately they are my vice, and while I'll drift away and read something new, I always come back to these retellings.  But this story is wonderful, and complete; the book didn't really end with me having any questions, which I love!  You know the character, who they are and why they are there before the book ends (a rare occurance in a series!)  Better than all of that, the "bad guy" is actually the hero of this story, and I always love that twist.  Jamie (Hook) starts off as the typical rutheless pirate, but his smirks and gleeming eyes make him just amusing and sexy enough even from the beginning, but as he starts letting his guard down and falling for Angel, he's even more appealing as "just Jamie."  This story is just - it's just amazing, and even as Angel fights to get home, you can also understand the desire to allow herself to just forget and stay forever.

Not So Much:  I don't have much I didn't like.  I'm sitting here racking my brain....and I can only think of the ending, which is a big obvious "duh!"  I mean, she has to leave - and leave Jamie. 

But there is book 2.  And lucky me, it came out yesterday!!

6/15/14

Why I prefer Young Adult over New Adult, or even Adult

This seems to be a thing now, name calling and bashing because of adults reading/liking/preferring Young Adult books over the Adult genre.  Here's the thing, I don't care what you think about what I read.  It's my money, my library card, my life...not yours, and frankly, your opinion doesn't really matter when it pertains to me; it only matters when it pertains to you.  I don't understand trying to shame people into reading your preferences, that makes no sense to me at all.  Alas, I'm jumping in and chiming in my 2 cents as to WHY I actually prefer books written to Teens and Young Adults rather than those that are written for "me."  Me being a 34 year old woman with three kids and a very happy marriage, who just happens to love escaping reality for a good book.

Reasons I prefer YA over NA and A:
  • When I read, this is my escape from reality.  I do not really want anything that is going to "enlighten" me, or "challenge" me...well, at least most of the time that is not my goal.  IF I do get an itch, I'll find something appropriate.  I also do not want something that is going to make me cry (thus the fact that I barely was able to read If I Stay, and almost regret reading Finding Alaska (though it is extremely excellent), and have NOT read The Fault in our Stars.  Too much real life, I get that every single day in my own life drama, and in the news.  And let's face it, adult books (with the exception of Chick-lit) tend to fall into some kind of hard topic.  At least the ones that I pick up.  I'm totally open for suggestions.
    • Exceptions:  I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Time Traveler's Wife, though I cried like a baby every single time Henry died.  I also really enjoyed The Weight of Silence, and boy that is a tough topic, especially for a mom.  I also loved The Girl from Junchow, and The Russian Concubine.
  • As a sappy young woman, I'm not going to lie; I do love romance.  Specifically, I love tales of first love.  YA really does nail this one on the head.  Especially in the books considered "coming of age."  I really enjoy books by Sarah Dessen, where there is this life story and changes happening in the lives of the characters, but the attraction between characters is this gradual budding thing.  I love to watch it take shape and become something promising.  NA books - typically the relationship jumps gears very quickly.  Within the first few chapters of the book the characters have already shared a few passionate kisses and sometimes even more.  I feel like the joy of this relationship has already taken place, and the rest of the book is some dramatic event happens within the story that causes the characters to stay away from each other for about two chapters and then decide that they actually do love each other.  Go apologize to their mate, and BAM, the end.
    • Exceptions:  Have you read Megan Squires?  Her books are pretty darn good!  T. L. Grey too.
  • I prefer to keep it as clean as possible, although, that isn't really THAT safe from YA books.  This is why I try and mention these things in my reviews, because if a parent is NOT interested in reading these books, but the kid is - at least there is some kind of baseline.  NA seems to have been created specifically to cross this line "safely."  Not in all cases (mentioned a few above).  I will say, it does feel a bit better to at least read about college kids now and then.  Sometimes the high school stuff does feel very young. Like, the author has hit the nail right on the head on the personality of a teenager, but man, I just don't want to be in this persons head.  It hurts! (lol)
  • I like vampires, werewolves, wizards, mythical creatures stories, etc.  I like fantasy.  In adult, it either lacks in the (above mentioned) romance, or it is soft porn.  So yeah.  YA all the way.  NA doesn't seem to cross into this...yet...that I've seen. And geeze, YA has the likes of Maggie Stiefvater, J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare and many more.  
So really, it's all about preference.  I don't read books about teenagers because I want to be a teenager, or because I feel like a part of my life is missing so I'm filling some void.  I read it because I like it, and it's as simple as that.

6/5/14

Book Review: Play with Me/Ryan Hunter - Anna Katmore

Title:  Play with Me / Ryan Hunter
Author:  Anna Katmore
Genre: Young Adult - Romance

Synopsis (From Goodreads.com):  Hunter grinned but he didn’t seem as happy as the guy next to me. More like he knew crap was about to fall.
“He can’t play when someone’s watching him,” Justin almost sang into my ear. “Totally screws up then.”
“But you all are watching him,” I pointed out.
At the back of the room, someone laughed. “Yeah, but we’re not girls.” 


Ryan Hunter’s parties are legend. And tonight she’s going to be there. 

Liza Matthews has been in love with her best friend since kindergarten. They’re close as can be. They’ve even slept in each other’s bed. But they’ve never kissed. Weeks away from her seventeenth birthday, Liza hopes that soon things will change between them. But when Tony comes home after summer soccer camp, his mind is focused on someone else. And worse, that new girl is a soccer player. 

Fighting for her love, Liza gets carried away and makes a stupid decision: Without the least bit of talent or any passion for the sport whatsoever, she goes for the co-ed soccer team. 

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter.
Review:  I purchased the books Play with Me and Ryan Hunter because they were on another authors pinned list of “kissing” books…meaning, good kissing scenes.  They weren’t much money, and seemed to be pretty short, so I thought I’d give them a shot.  They are pretty short books, and I liked the idea of the same story from different points of view.  Although, I will say that part way through Ryan Hunter, I was feeling that “I’ve read this before” feeling pretty strong.  I suppose I probably should have put some time in between the
two.

What’s the Drama? Liza is in love with her best friend, Tony, but Tony has a new soccer girl hanging out so Liza decides she’s going to play soccer too.  Thing is…she’s not that great.  Ryan Hunter has a bit of a reputation with the girls, but there’s always been something about Liza…so offering to help her train to play soccer seems to be the best way to get closer.

What I loved:  This is just a cute, fun story(s).  I loved Ryan Hunter’s dark brooding behavior!

Not so Much:  First name/Last name/ First name/Last name.  The characters each have at least 2 names, and they both can be used in the same paragraph interchangeably.  It had me scratching my head, in Play with Me.  By the time I read Ryan Hunter, I had it figured out – but still.  It’s understood that athletes use their last names more than their first, that is normal – but I think it’s okay to dial back the back and forth a bit.

Can my kids read this?  This book is fine for High School aged teenagers.  There is a scene in a bar, and a party with alcohol involved.

6/3/14

Book Review: How to Seduce a Band Geek - Cassie Mae

Title:  How to Seduce a Band Geek
Author:  Cassie Mae
Genre:  Young Adult - Romance

Synopsis (From Goodreads.com):  Sierra Livingston’s got it bad for her sister’s best friend, Levi Mason—the boy who carries his drumsticks in his pocket, marches with the school’s band, and taps his feet to whatever beat runs through his head. Sierra racks her brain for ways to impress the sexy drummer, but the short skirts and bursting cleavage don’t seem to cut it.

When Sierra gets paired with Levi’s sister, Brea, for a mentorship program, they strike a deal. In exchange for Sierra keeping her mouth shut about Brea ditching the program, Brea lets Sierra dig for more info on Levi to help get the guy of her dreams.

But when Sierra discovers Levi no longer plays the drums, his family has moved into a trailer, and he’s traded in his Range Rover for a baby blue moped, Sierra’s not sure if she can go through with violating his privacy. She’ll have to find the courage to ask him straight out—if he’s willing to let her in—and explore other ways to seduce the school’s band geek.

Review:  Cassie Mae is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, if for no other reason than her books make me laugh, make my heart thump and the HEA’s just make me sigh.  In How to Seduce a Band Geek she tackles the social barriers again, this time with one of the schools rejects, and, though a “band geek,” one of those people who everyone loves to love. 

 

What’s the Drama?  So you’ve got Sierra who deals with bullying every single day; being called a tease and worse because she wrecked a car into a tree in order to get out of having sex with her then boyfriend.  Then we’ve got Levi, the band geek who at one point would never been seen without his drumstick, but who is now known to be driving the streets at 4am on his moped and carrying around some strange black box.  Both characters are very obviously into each other (even if it’s not so obvious to them) but both are carrying burdens that may get in the way of what they want.

 

What I Loved:  Again the chemistry between Sierra and Levi is dead on.  Oh man the movie theater scene….  I also felt, where How to Date a Nerd lacked a bit of an example of ‘what to do when’ scenario, this one at least did follow through – cops were called in a scene.  So yay for (sort of) doing the right thing.  And Levi’s sensitivity, he’s really going through a rough time, and in a few scenes he sort of has a break down, but his vulnerability really made me like him so much more.

 

Not so Much:  How can I love and not love the same thing?  Well, as I said, the scene where the cops were called was at least a better example; however it wasn’t the best. Maybe it’s realistic that teenagers don’t tell their parents everything, and they naturally try and protect their friends; but clearly in this scenario Sierra knew what happened to her at an Ambien Party was wrong…so very, very wrong.  So why did she never talk to the police herself?  Why did she shut her mom down when she offered to talk.  Again, I know we are going for “what would really happen” rather than “what would happen” in books to make them more realistic, but wouldn’t it be good to give teenagers an example of what could happen if they did the right thing?  You prevent someone else from getting nearly raped, you stand up for what you know is wrong.  It’s not always a bad thing.  If you’re going to have these big, huge situations written in a book, I kind of feel like maybe they should be a big, huge situation.  Either there are good/decent consequences, ie; other girls come out of the woodwork who felt the same, there are bonds form, the offender gets in trouble; or consequences in the reverse; ie: the attempted rape happens again, someone gets seriously hurt/effected as a result of the party, etc.

 

I’m not saying that this whole topic needs to take on a force of its own, but it seems like it should have a bit more meat if it’s going to be present at all.

 

Can my Kids Read This?  Yes.  Once again, it is appropriate for High School teenagers.  The book, again, contains cussing, talk of sex, one drug party scene.  But I have to say this, all talk of sex was mostly about being not ready and how to deal with peer pressure.  And the drug party scene, Sierra had no idea what was happening until it was too late.  There was no glorifying of this type of atmosphere/behavior at all.

6/2/14

Book Review: How to Date a Nerd - Cassie Mae

Title:  How to Date a Nerd

Genre:  Young Adult - Romance

Author: Cassie Mae


Synopsis (From Goodreads.com):  Zoe has a great pair of legs, perky boobs, and wears exactly what she needs to show it all off. She works hard for the easy sleazy ‘you only wish you were me’ reputation, burying who she really is—an all-out nerd.


The only time Zoe gets to be herself is when she hides under her comforter to read X-Men comics, sending jealousy stabs at everyone who attends Comic-Con. Keeping up her popular rep is too important, and she’s so damn insecure to care about the consequences. But when Zoe’s sister takes her car for a ‘crash and burn into a tree’ joyride, her parents get her a replacement. A manual. Something she doesn’t know how to operate, but her next door neighbor Zak sure as heck does.

Zak’s a geek to the core, shunned by everyone in school for playing Dungeons and Dragons at lunch and wearing “Use the Force” t-shirts. And Zoe’s got it bad for the boy. Only Zak doesn’t want Popular Zoe. He wants Geek Zoe.

She has to shove her insecurities and the fear of dropping a few rungs on the social ladder aside to prove to Zak who she really is and who she wants to be… if she can figure it out herself.


Review:  I love that Cassie Mae is tackling these side-groups in High School, the ones people tend to avoid or try and disassociate themselves from.  I’ve read so many young adult novels, and rarely do I see books written about them; I had even thought about writing one myself (even though I’m not an author – and even though I’ve got stuff rattling around up in my head, I never seem to really have much time to sit and try and get it out on paper).  So How To Date a Nerd is more about Zoe, and her issues with being a “closet geek” than it is about “how” to actually date a nerd.  Zoe loves all things nerd; Star Trek, D & D, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings; you name it, she probably knows all about it.  However, in an attempt to stop being picked on, Zoe puts herself through a major transformation, sort of a la “Princess Diaries” style; showing up for High School completely reformed, totally hot, and absolutely NOT a geek.

 

What’s the Drama?  It’s been two years since her transformation, and Zoe is not happy!  And she has this absolutely, completely die-hard crush on her equally geeky next door neighbor Zak.  However, she can’t seem to sacrifice her spot on the top rung of the ladder to go after what she wants.

 

What I Loved:  Oh man, the dynamic between Zoe and Zak.  The innocence of shaky hands, and blushes.  I loved it!  And I’m pretty big into comic books/fantasy books/etc – so the references were really fun!

 

Not so Much:  MAN, Zoe is a jerk.  She is constantly beating herself up and then being the meanest person on the planet.  I understand her dilemma, really I do…but sheehs.  And then there was the attempted rape scene.  I would like to have seen that whole situation handled differently as an “example” for girls who have actually gone through something like this can look at and maybe follow….because ignoring it is NOT the right way to handle a situation like that, even if you escape…barely.

 

Can my kids read this?  Your mature High School kids, not your Middle Schoolers.  What you need to know is, they talk about sex, there is some alcohol, there  is cussing.  There is no actual sex in the book, however there was that attempted date rape sort of scenario.  The book isn’t real “heavy” at all though, very light, at times funny, and quite short.  Makes for a great lazy Saturday quick read (which is exactly what I did).

4/20/14

Cover Reveal: He + She - Michelle Warren



HE is trying to piece together his broken life.


SHE is running away from her wedding day.


TOGETHER, their world is a beautiful lie.


APART, their world is a perfect mess.


He + She is a free-spirited romance about soul-awakening second chances, heartbreak, and hopeful beginnings.





Michelle Warren didn't travel the road to writer immediately. She spent over a decade as professional Illustrator and designer. Her artistic creativity combined with her love of science fiction, paranormal and fantasy led her to write her first YA novel, Wander Dust. Michelle loves reading and traveling to places that inspire her to create. She resides in downtown Chicago.




Website/Blog:

http://www.michelle-warren.com


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3/25/14

Release Day Blitz: Awaken - Kristen Day



Awaken
Daughters of the Sea Book #2
By Kristen Day


The sacrifices we make have the power to shift the very fabric of who we are, and ultimately who we are meant to be…
After learning of her true destiny as the intended Leader of the Tydes, Anastasia Whitman must now embark on a perilous quest to the Underworld before the age of eighteen in order to plant the seed of immortality and complete her essence to become a true Sea Goddess. But before she can make her legendary journey, an unexpected new student transfers to Lorelei; initiating a sequence of events that will unravel Stasia’s new life, and test the boundaries of her relationship with the mysterious, dark, and sexy Finn Morrison. The line between the Underworld and the Living begins to blur as gruesome ghosts, morbid reveries, and pure evil haunt her waking hours as well as her sanity. Once the details of Finn’s own startling destiny are revealed, the dangerous secrets he’s been hiding will threaten the very love Stasia believed to be indestructible. As time begins to run out, she will be forced to choose between the one she loves and the destiny she cannot escape.

  


About The Author:
I am a southern belle at heart with a crazy streak that desperately tries to escape at every opportunity. I love all things nostalgic, rustic, and quirky. I've been told I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I prefer to think of them as kaleidoscope glasses - swirling and morphing reality into something I can digest (who hasn't pretended those pasty lima beans were really kiwi strawberry jelly beans?).
I am the author of the DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA trilogy, which includes FORSAKEN, AWAKEN, and CHOSEN (Winter 2012). I love all books, but really enjoy writing young adult, paranormal romances. I've loved to write for as long as I can remember. My first published work was my poem RED in second grade (you guessed it - it was a poem about the color red - life altering, I know) that won me 5 gold stars and a spot in my elementary school's poetry book. That's when my addiction to the written word officially began. I was the only kid in fifth grade that actually enjoyed diagramming sentences. Go ahead and laugh – it’s okay.


When I'm not writing I'm making jewelry, painting, drinking sweet tea, watching the discovery channel, or going on random adventures in the mountains of North Carolina with my amazing husband. I graduated from Appalachian State University and dream of becoming a full time novelist.