Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + GiveawayRight Kind Of Wrong by Chelsea Fine
Series: Finding Fate #3
Published by Forever on September 2, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Sometimes wrong can feel oh so right . . .

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.

picadillyblueRight Kind of Wrong, the third and final book in the Finding Fate trilogy, lived up to my expectations.  After reading two of Chelsea Fine’s previous novels, I’ve come to expect steamy romance, well-developed characters, and fun, fast-paced stories.  Right Kind of Wrong is not lacking in any of these.

Jenna and Jack take center stage in Right Kind of Wrong.  Their story is a bit different from Pixie and Levi’s and Kayla and Daren’s seeing as they already have a sexual relationship.  They’ve known each other ever since they started working together and they were both immediately attracted to each other.  One drunken night led to them hooking up but their relationship remained just friendly, at least on Jenna’s part.  Jack wants more and he’s willing to push Jenna until she gives in and admits she does too.  Jack really does everything in his power to push Jenna to her limits and admit she’s not as independent as she’d like to think.  He’s fine with her following her dreams but he wants to be there with her along the way.  He’s beyond sweet but he’s by no means perfect.  Jack has a very messed up past that takes a main role in Right Kind of Wrong.  It was refreshing to see someone with such a bad past take the role of the good guy.  It was also refreshing to see how the darkness in Jack’s past didn’t push Jenna away, that she was strong enough to handle anything he threw at her.

Jenna was my only issue with Right Kind of Wrong.  She was such a hypocrite!  She preached to Kayla and Pixie about letting love into their life and letting themselves be happy but she wouldn’t do the same for herself.  She did everything she could to push Jack away, all because he didn’t fit into her life plan.  She was actually downright rude about it to Jack and I hated that about her.  Also, it became a little repetitive with all the talk of her life plan and how Jack would just ruin things.  I wanted to reach into the book and slap Jenna right across the face.

The story was fast-paced and had me laughing a lot.  Jenna and Jack brought out the best and worst in each other and it was quite hilarious.  Jenna’s inner monologue was pure comedic genius.  There was a darker side to the story as well.  Jack’s little brother got messed up in some bad business and it was up to Jack to find out what happened to him and try to save his life.  It was a very different story from the first two books and actually appealed to me more than the other two.  If you’ve read Jay Crownover’s book, Better When He’s Bad, it’s a little similar to that.  And since I loved that one, I loved that aspect of Right Kind of Wrong.

Overall, Right Kind of Wrong has made me a Chelsea Fine fan for life.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I’m hoping for more steamy new adult novels from this author!

What others are saying about Right Kind of Wrong:

One Click Bliss’ review: “You’ll have to read it to find out what happens, but Chelsea Fine’s writing grips you from page one and has you fully ensconced in their lives and pulling for their happily ever after.”

Love Between The Sheets’ review: “While I didn’t love Right Kind of Wong, I did like Jenna and Jack’s story enough that I think I’ll go back and read the previous books in the series.”

LovLivLife Reviews’ review: “Really cute story – I enjoyed this one a lot – it was different than the other two books since Jenna and Jack already had the connection.”

Guest Post from Chelsea Fine!

Atrocious, awkward, and amazing: Road Trip Tales

by Chelsea Fine

 

Ah, road trips. An American pastime and a part of most everyone’s vacation memories. They’re romanticized, televised, and idealized, but they almost never go according to plan.

 

When you lock people up in a vehicle for an extended period of time, you’re bound to end up with a good story. And the term “good” is used loosely here because, in my opinion, road trips fall into one of three categories: Atrocious, Awkward, and Amazing.

 

Here’s a brief glimpse into three road trips I’ve taken that fall into each of those categories:

 

ATROCIOUS: Let me set it up for you. My husband and me, traveling late at night, with three children, two of which were 3 years old and both vomiting, while the other child (who was 1 year old and still in diapers) was screaming. We were driving an old SUV, lost on a pitch-black road somewhere between California and Arizona, without any food or diapers, running low on gas, with the car heater broken and one headlight out, during the middle of winter, in the RAIN.

 

It was three hours of pure atrocity.

 

AWKWARD: In high school, a group of friends and I decided to go camping one weekend at a spot three hours away. The camping trip itself was fun, but on the day we packed up to leave, there was some confusion and two people got left behind: me and my ex-boyfriend. Now, you all know how dramatic high school breakups can be and this particular boyfriend and I hadn’t spoken since we called it quits. We made the three-hour road trip journey back home in my little car, driving the entire way in tense silence.

 

Awk-ward.

 

AMAZING: The best road trip I’ve ever been on was, by far, with my husband. A few years ago we attended a wedding in Northern California and rented a car for our stay. We set out to find lunch one day, but took a wrong turn and ended up lost. At the time, neither of us had GPS on our phones so we had no way of knowing where we were. We tried to find our way back to the main roads, but all our turning-around only led us farther away from civilization and, soon, we were headed down a skinny dirt road in the middle of nowhere, tired and hungry. A few hours passed and  suddenly, the scenery changed from dirt roads and scattered shrubbery to winding hills of colorful trees, and rows of manicured vines stretched before us. In all our lost confusion, we’d accidentally driven right into wine country! Just off the dirt path to our left was a lone building that looked like it belonged in Tuscany. It resembled a cottage, with shutters and an oak door with iron hinges, and on a sign above the door was the word: RISTORANTE. Parking, we wandered inside the quaint building and were greeted by a pleasant old man and his wife, the owners of the small restaurant. They sat us on the patio, overlooking rolling hills of vineyards, and served us the most delicious lasagna and wine. We ate and drank to the beautiful rays of the setting sun and marveled at how we’d set out to find lunch and ended up on the best road trip ever.

 

Simply amazing.

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have any of you ever had an atrocious, awkward, or amazing road trip? Or perhaps all three? 😉

Chelsea Fine Headshot

About The Author:
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.

 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + GiveawayThe Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack
Published by Entangled TEEN on September 2, 2014
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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4 Stars

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

picadillyblueThe Girl and the Clockwork Cat stands out as amazingly unique in the YA market.  A steampunk adventure story featuring a half-Japanese heroine and her cat with a clockwork leg?  What’s not to love?

Nikki McCormack has a lot of strengths as an author.  Her writing is gorgeous, her characters are well developed, her setting is vivid, and her story is captivating.  From the very first sentence I had a feeling I would love The Girl and the Clockwork Cat and my prediction was right on target.

From the very first page, readers will have a hard time not falling in love with Maeko.  She’s a strong heroine who really stands out among all the characters in the book.  She’s feisty and I adored her attitude.  She refused to take crap from anyone!  However, she was not afraid to admit when she was in over her head or scared.  She was willing to seek out help when she needed it which really showed her true strength.  Also, while there were boys in her life (two, to be specific) she didn’t rely on them too much.  In fact, sometimes she was the one saving their butts.  It was a refreshing change of pace.  Chaff and Ash (yes there is a bit of a love triangle) aren’t too shabby either.  Chaff appealed to me a bit more since he was always there for Maeko but Ash had his strengths.  He cared a lot for his family and he was an all-around stand up guy (if a bit rude at first.)

The murder mystery aspect didn’t take long to be introduced.  Really everything about The Girl in the Clockwork Cat came about relatively quickly.  Nikki McCormack wasted no time in setting up the story and getting readers truly invested Maeko, Chaff, and Ash’s story.  The mystery will have readers hooked on this story if they weren’t already.  This truly is a conspiracy story and no one is safe from being a suspect.

As for the clockwork cat, Macak really was a character all his own.  When Maeko first finds him, it’s easy to tell that he’s not your ordinary cat.  He’s got a clockwork leg, for one.  Other than that, he’s a cat with personality and some little quirks.  I’m a total cat person so everything about Macak appealed to me.  I also really loved how Maeko didn’t see him as a cat, she saw him as a companion.  For someone who’d been on her own for so long, Macak was just what she needed.

Overall, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat is a wonderful debut from Nikki McCormack.  I don’t know what I expected when I first started reading it but it’s not what I got (and I mean that in the best possible way.)  I’ve never been big on steampunk but Nikki McCormack may have just changed that.

What others are saying about The Girl and the Clockwork Cat:

Buried Under Books’ review: “The author’s other main strength is in her characters who are vivid and engaging, even those who can’t be considered likeable.”

Nicky Peacock – Author’s review: “The Girl and the  Clockwork Cat was a well written, and thought out book, with an interesting storyline and some lovely prose.”

Forever Obsession’s review: “The Girl and the Clockwork Cat has action, mystery, intrigue, and really lovable characters.”

nikki mccormack
About the Author
Nikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12, which she still has tucked in a briefcase in her home office, waiting for the right moment. Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she continued to treat her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy presented her with an abundance of free time that she used to focus on making it her career.

Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her husband and three cats suffering varying stages of neurosis. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She finds peace through practicing iaido or shooting her longbow.

 

Where to find Nikki online:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Feuds by Avery Hastings | Review

Blog Tour: Feuds by Avery Hastings | Review

Blog Tour: Feuds by Avery Hastings | ReviewFeuds by Avery Hastings
Series: Feuds #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 2, 2014
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold--and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her world...in Avery Hastings's Feuds.

picadillyblueFeuds was far from what I expected it to be and I mean that in both a good and bad way.  I started the book knowing very little about it and I went into it with an open mind.  To be honest  I only really knew that it was a dystopian and all I hoped was that it would be different from the rest.  It definitely had a unique feel to it and that was by far my favorite thing about it.

Feuds is told from the alternating points of view of Davis and Cole.  Davis is the daughter of a rich Prior who is up for election as the next prime minister.  She’s a driven ballet dancer who is very concerned about the role she plays in her father’s campaign.  She will do anything to help him get elected so that his new policies can be put in place.  She cares a lot for her family and that shows from the start.  The only problem is that she really doesn’t know the whole truth about everyone in her family and so she doesn’t quite know what it is she’s standing up for.  Cole is a Gen fighter in the FEUDS who does everything for his family and is willing to risk everything for them.  He’s strong and fierce but vulnerable and lost at times too.  He’s a much more well rounded character than Davis.  He’s also someone who should have nothing to do with Davis.  However, he’s thrust into her life and once he meets her he just can’t stay away.  He’s drawn to her without knowing anything about who she is.  She also knows nothing about him though and that’s just how he wants things to stay.  They are the definition of star-crossed love but neither of them realize that until it’s too late.

To be perfectly honest, Davis and Cole’s relationship screams instalove.  That’s what it is.  They meet, they kiss (very passionately, might I add), they have amazing chemistry, and they decide they are it for each other.  However, they still know nothing about each other when they decide this.  It’s when they find out the truth about each other that their relationship is really put to the test.

The story is a little slow to pick up but it’s interesting.  Feuds is set in a futuristic society split between Priors and Gens (or as Priors call them, Imps.)  The Priors are the upper class who have been genetically modified for perfection.  The Gens are just normal people but they are considered low class because of this.  Things aren’t so bad for the Gens though when the Priors start dying from a mystery disease called Narxis.  Narxis has no cure and what’s worse, most people don’t even know it exists.  The current prime minister of the Priors does not want word about Narxis to get out and he is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the Gens from speaking out about it.  For the first part of the book though very little about this is actually mentioned and most of the story focuses on Cole and Davis.  I get the necessity of building up the characters but I really would have liked it if the plot moved a bit faster.

Overall, Feuds definitely stands out in the dystopian genre.  It’s a bit slower than your usual fare of “down with the capital!” dystopian novels but it has a lot going for it other than that.  The characters, the writing, the romance (even if it is instalove) all stand in favor for Feuds.  I definitely plan on checking out more from Avery Hastings especially the next book in this series!

What others have to say about Feuds:

The Young Folks’ review: “Feuds, in one word, is captivating.”

Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “Feuds wasn’t the perfect book, by any means, but I do think this series has a lot of potential.”

Queen Ella Bee Reads’ review: “The marriage of political unrest and disease layered with copious amounts of romance will make any and all lovers of dystopia swoon over FEUDS (and Davis and Cole because, wow there’s some serious kissing up in this book).”
 
Avery-author-photo

About the author:
Avery Hastings is an author and former book editor from New York City. Avery grew up in Ohio, graduated in 2006 from the University of Notre Dame and earned her MFA from the New School in 2008. When she’s not reading or writing, Avery can usually be spotted lying around in the park with her affable dog. Like her protagonists, she knows how to throw a powerful right hook and once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. In addition to New York, Avery has recently lived in Mumbai and Paris, but is happy to call Brooklyn home (for now).

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shatter (True Believers #4) by Erin McCarthy | Review

Shatter (True Believers #4) by Erin McCarthy | ReviewShatter by Erin McCarthy
Series: True Believers #4
Published by Berkley Trade on September 2, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

Kylie Warner prides herself on being optimistic, but after finding her best friend in bed with her boyfriend and flunking chemistry, her upbeat attitude has taken a dive. Even an impromptu hook-up with her sexy new chemistry tutor only brightens her mood slightly. After all, it’s not like she’ll ever see the tattooed scholar again…

While he’s a whiz at complex equations, Jonathon Kadisch has trouble when it comes to figuring out women. So when Kylie tells him that she’s pregnant after their night of passion, he’s at a complete loss. He’s prepared to be a good father—unlike his own deadbeat dad—but he’s less prepared to fall for the genuine and alluring blonde bearing his child.

With emotions running high, Kylie wonders if Jonathon’s devotion is out of growing love or looming obligation. And when heartbreak threatens to tear them apart, Jonathon will have to fight for the only girl who’s ever made him feel whole…

picadillyblueShatter, the final book in the True Believers series, was a wonderful conclusion to the series.  Erin McCarthy’s new adult series is full of romance, heartbreak, and tons of laughs.

Kylie wasn’t the best at first but she quickly grew on me.  She definitely put a lot of emphasis on what happened with Robin and Nathan but that was deserved.  Maybe not so much on Robin’s part but for sure on Nathan’s.  What made up for that though was Kylie’s great sense of humor.  That was by far my favorite thing about her.  One annoying trait of hers was how self conscious she was about her looks but that got better as the book went on.  The love interest, Johnathon, was adorable.  He was totally nerdy and so awesome.  He didn’t know anything about girls, especially non-nerdy ones like Kylie.  It was funny to see him fumble with Kylie.  He was a really great guy though.

The one thing that wasn’t so great about Shatter was the drama.  There was constant drama throughout the book and it got extremely annoying.  I wanted to hit both Kylie and Johnathon.  They were both smart people who did and said some very dumb things.  I felt like a lot of the drama was unnecessary and  just used to move the story along.

The ending was the best part.  The epilogue tied everything up, not just for Kylie and Johnathon but for Riley, Jess, Robin, Phoenix, Rory, and Tyler as well.  It was super cute and left me with the biggest smile on my face.

Overall, the True Believers series is fabulous for new adult fans who like fun stories with steamy romances.  I hope Erin McCarthy continues to write new adult novels!

What others are saying about Shatter:

Paperbook Princess’ review: If you have read the other books in this series, you might as well read this one too… you do get full closure on all the characters at the end of this which was cool and although the story didn’t meet my expectations I loved Jonathan (hot nerd!)”

Fresh Fiction’s review: “SHATTER is yet another in a long line of well-written, very hot romances by Erin McCarthy.”

Margay Leah Justice’s review: “Erin McCarthy has done it again.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Giver (The Giver #1) by Lois Lowry | Review

The Giver (The Giver #1) by Lois Lowry | ReviewThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin on August 1, 1994
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 179
Format: ebook
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4 Stars

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

The Giver is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopia and gradually appears more and more dystopic, so could therefore be considered anti-utopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. Jonas' society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. As Jonas receives the memories from his predecessor—the "Giver"—he discovers how shallow his community's life has become.

picadillyblueThe Giver has been on my shelf for years!  I’ve always been interested in it but never enough to actually read it.  As required reading for my YA lit class this semester I was finally forced to give it a try and I can see why everyone raves about it.

The Giver is a slower read with not much action.  However, it’s not a slow-paced read.  In fact, it’s actually pretty fast-paced.  I had a limited time frame to read it in but I honestly feel like I still would have read it quickly without the time constraints.  That’s partially because it’s such a short book.  The Giver weighs in at only 179 pages so reading it really won’t take long at all.  The subject matter and characters are quite interesting also so that helps speed up the pace of the book.

Jonas, the main character, starts off a little flat but is forced to develop very quickly once he is given the role of Receiver in Training.  He is a Twelve when he starts his training (I’m assuming twelve-years-old) but he quickly gains the maturity of someone much older and wiser.  Through his role as Receiver in Training he is given all the memories of the world.  Those memories include war, hunger, slaughter, but also sunshine, snow, and love.  All these things no longer exist in the society in which Jonas lives but it’s the job of the Receiver of Memory to hold these memories so that at least one person has the wisdom of the past.  Jonas is an easy character to relate to in part because it’s almost impossible to relate to any of the other characters, other than the Giver.  Feelings don’t exist for the other characters and so readers won’t really understand their motives or thoughts.  I know I was shocked at some of the things that people assumed were okay.  The Giver is also very easy to relate to and I saw him as a sort of father or grandfather figure to Jonas.

The story brings up lots of questions, like any good dystopian novel should.  The Giver will force readers to look at the past and the future and how each plays a role to the other.  It’s a thought provoking novel that shows a lot more depth than most books written for people in this age group.  Also, while Jonas is a Twelve and the book is written for people around that age, it does not show.  The Giver is not dumbed down at all for younger readers.  It shows the darker side of humanity without being gory or overdone.

Overall, The Giver is a wonderful novel that I’m glad I finally found the chance to read.  I know the rest of the series does not focus on the same characters and I’m eager to see how that is done by Lois Lowry.

What others have to say about The Giver:

Read Breathe Relax’s review: “This book will make you remember the first time you realized truths about your world that you wished you hadn’t learned.”

Thinking Out Loud’s review: “This is a story that rallies against the sacrifice of freedom for the sake of sameness and peaceful control.”

Two Moms Reading’s review: “I did enjoy The Giver, though I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would, based on how many people I see raving about it.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | Review

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | ReviewStrange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Published by Harper Teen on July 22, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

picadillyblueThis review is going to be extremely hard for me to write.  My feelings for Strange and Ever After are all over the place!  I loved it, I hated it, I couldn’t stop reading it.

Strange and Ever After picks up immediately after the ending of A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  Eleanor, Daniel, Joseph, and Oliver are heading to Marseille to chase down Marcus and get Jie back.  They aren’t sure what Marcus wants with Jie but they know she’s been compelled by him and the only way to break the spell is to kill Marcus.  However, Marcus is always one step ahead of them and he’s much more powerful than even Eleanor, Joseph, and Oliver combined.  Strange and Ever After takes the crew on a journey through Europe that tests their magic and their loyalties more than any of the other books.

Eleanor really bothered me in Strange and Ever After.  I loved her in Something Strange and Deadly, lost some respect for her in A Darkness Strange and Lovely and really couldn’t care less for her in Strange and Ever After.  Her magic has completely taken over her mind and she can’t even see what it’s done to her.  She cares so much about her magic that she has lost sight of her friendships and relationships.  She has pushed everyone away and she constantly blames others for it, especially Oliver.  Oliver really confused me in Strange and Ever After.  I liked him but didn’t completely trust him in A Darkness Strange and Lovely but this time around I didn’t even really like him all that much.  He had a  horrible temper and he treated Eleanor pretty badly.  Sure, sometimes she deserved it but I felt like he could have taken a different approach.  However, he did some things throughout the book that made up for that and by the end I really did like him.  Daniel really shined in Strange and Ever After. He grew so much throughout the course of the trilogy.  I can’t even put into words how amazing he was.  He was caring, smart, kind, and brave.  He has got to be one of the best love interests I’ve ever read about.

The story wasn’t quite as fast-paced as the first two books but it was definitely never boring.  Marcus had lots of surprises in store for Eleanor, Oliver, and the Spirit-Hunters.  I truly never knew what he was going to do next.  However, sometimes I was a little skeptical about how he knew to be one step ahead of them all the time.  How did he possibly know what they were going to do next when sometimes they didn’t even know what they were going to do next?

The ending completely broke me.  I’m not even kidding.  There were not enough tissues in my house for the ending of this book.  I know some readers didn’t believe the ending was completely necessary but I really don’t see how it could have worked out any other way.  I’m still torn up about the way things worked out but I can totally appreciate how great this ending was.

Overall, Strange and Ever After is a wonderful conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly series.  Susan Dennard has definitely gained a fan and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

What others are saying about Strange and Ever After:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who wants to read it, and if you haven’t already started it yet now is the time to do so because book three is officially out! “

Scott Reads It’s review: “ SAEA is less about zombies and isn’t as Gothic as the previous novels, but it does have more poignant, heartbreaking moments and so much character development.”

Finding Bliss In Books’ review: “That aside, Strange and Ever After is an entirely satisfactory conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy (or, as I’ve penned it, the Ke$ha zombie trilogy).”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1) by Lori M. Lee | Review

Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1) by Lori M. Lee | ReviewGates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone #1
Published by Skyscape on August 5, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 335
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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4 Stars

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

picadillyblueGates of Thread and Stone is a strong debut from Lori M. Lee and a wonderful start to a new fantasy series.  It’s got a little something for all readers and I think it’s a great introduction to fantasy if that’s not a genre you’re familiar with.

The story starts off strong and continues that way throughout.  I was hooked from the very first page.  The pacing was fabulous and I never felt the urge to put the book down.  It’s a quick read that will leave readers wanting more.  There is mystery, romance, action, and deception woven through every page.  I never could guess what was going to happen next.  (Until the very end when I had a tiny inkling that something might happen!)  Like I said, this book really has a little something for everyone.  Also, the fantasy aspect of it wasn’t quite as strong as other young adult fantasy novels like Rae Carson’s or Leigh Bardugo’s.  I don’t mean that in a bad way though.  I think this would be a great introduction to the fantasy genre for people who may be a little intimidated by some of the other fantasy novels out there.

The characters were a little bit lacking for me.  I never felt truly invested in their stories.  When one of them was hurt or taken, I didn’t get all that upset.  Kai, Avan, Reev, and the others felt a little unreal to me.  I never got enough information about them to feel like I knew their stories.  I know this is only the first in a series but by the end of the book I felt like I should have cared more than I did for the characters.  They were far from terrible though.  Kai was strong and self-sufficient.  She didn’t require saving every other page.  She could take care of herself and in fact, she could help others too.  Avan and Kai shared a lot of characteristics and I think that was part of why they fought so much.  They both wanted to look out for the other when really both of them could easily look out for themselves.  Avan was a true gentleman though.  He was protective of Kai but he didn’t try to stifle her independence.  I liked that he was confident enough in himself to not need to put her down.  Reev was the most lacking for me.  I liked him but there were a lot of mysteries surrounding him and I feel like some of those mysteries still weren’t cleared up at the end of Gates of Thread and Stone.

Kai’s ability was another big issue of mine for most of the book.  It went unexplained for quite some time.  Kai would use her ability but as the reader, I didn’t have a clue what she was doing, how she was doing it, or how it could possibly help her.  Not until one of the last few chapters was her ability explained and I felt confused about it even then.  I think there will be a lot more exploring of Kai’s powers in the next book.

Overall, Gates of Thread and Stone didn’t wow me like I hoped but it did get me interested enough to check out the next book.  Fantasy fans will enjoy this one.

What others are saying about Gates of Thread and Stone:

Hell Is Cold’s review: “Yet another very, very mediocre novel that tries to be whimsical and epic in scale but ultimately falls short in all respects.”

Library of a Book Witch’s review: “I will continue on to the second one being that I’m really curious what it’s about.”

The Starry-Eyed Revue’s review: “Things definitely take an unexpected turn toward the end of this book, both in terms of plot and world-building, but I’m on board.”

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | Review

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | ReviewA Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #2
Published by Harper Teen on July 23, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 406
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Darkness has come to the City of Light...

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely...and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

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A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a strong sequel to Something Strange and Deadly.  It follows the same trajectory of the first book which is to say it’s fast-paced, full of surprises, and surprisingly emotional.  It’s exactly what a sequel should be.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up a few months after Something Strange and Deadly ends.  Things in Eleanor’s life are rather rough.  Her mother took the loss of Elijah harder than expected and now must remain in a mental institution.  To pay for her bills, Eleanor has had to sell almost everything they own.  When Marcus shows back up in Philadelphia it’s actually kind of a good thing because it forces Eleanor to flee to Paris to meet up with the Spirit-Hunters.  And thus the adventure begins anew!

So all the old characters are back but there are some new additions this time around.  Both the best and the worst new addition was definitely Oliver.  I loved him but I also didn’t trust him at all.  He was friendly and witty but also very secretive.  Even at the end of the book I knew he had secrets that he had yet to share.  I look forward to finding out more about him in Strange and Ever After.  It’s really difficult to tell if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  I think the worst thing about Oliver though was what he brought out in Eleanor.  I really lost a lot of respect and liking for Eleanor in A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  She pushed people away and she blamed everyone but herself for it.  She was so consumed by her new powers that she couldn’t see how they were  beginning to control her every thought and action.  Also, Daniel, Joseph, and Jie could see what was going on and they tried to help but they kind of took the wrong approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all still but I think they could have handled things with Eleanor a little better.  Especially Daniel.

The romance was very hot and cold, just like in Something Strange and Deadly.  Eleanor and Daniel love each other, that’s pretty obvious from the start but what’s not so obvious is how they are going to make things work between them.  They come from very different worlds and while Eleanor is okay with that, Daniel is not.  He wants to be worthy of Eleanor and I love him even more for that.  He had tons of flaws but in my eyes he was perfect.

The plot fits surprisingly well with the first book.  I wasn’t sure how things were going to tie together but they all do in the end.  There were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming and some that I definitely did.  However, those little things I was able to guess didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a wonderful sequel that will leave readers eager to check out the third and final book, Strange and Ever After.

What others are saying about A Darkness Strange and Lovely:

The Page Sage’s review: “A Darkness Strange and Lovely met my expectations and then some.”

Romancing the Laser Pistol’s review: “ I think it I liked A Darkness Strange and Lovely because it was full of: hot kisses, zombies and old fashioned Paris balls.”

Stories and Sweeties’ review: “To you give a clear picture of my feelings for this book, I simply say this: every night, in the ridiculously wee hours of the morning, I had to tear myself away and force myself to put this down.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Published by Harper Teen on July 24, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor... from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

picadillyblueSomething Strange and Deadly was one of the series on my list to start and attempt to finish this year.  I’ve had Something Strange and Deadly on my shelf since before the book was published but I never got around to actually reading it until now.  The hype for this series is definitely warranted.  Something Strange and Deadly is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly addicting story.

Eleanor is an extremely feisty and smart heroine.  She is unique to heroines in YA these days but especially in heroines from her time period.  She stands out among everyone she knows and while some might consider it a bad thing, I considered it one of her best qualities.  She is not afraid to speak her mind and go after what she wants.  When her brother, Elijah, goes missing she sets out to find help from the Spirit-Hunters, certain that the necromancer tormenting Philadelphia has her brother.  The group of Spirit-Hunters are made up of the classy Joseph, the quirky Jie, and the sarcastic Daniel.  Daniel is rude, outlandish, and rather odd but that didn’t stop me from completely falling in love with him.  He lacked manners but he made up for that in other ways.  Joseph and Jie added a certain flair to the group of Spirit-Hunters and they all brought something unique to the book.  Even Clarence and Allison Wilcox were interesting additions to the story although I would have enjoyed a bit more backstory to Allison.  She came up a little short compared to everyone else.

The story is fast-paced and pulse-pounding from the very first page.  I read straight through the book in one day.  I haven’t been that captivated by a book in quite some time.  While Eleanor’s escapades weren’t entirely plausible, they were fun to read about.  Eleanor was always escaping from places to meet the Spirit-Hunters and I felt that she probably wouldn’t have gotten away with that for long in the time period she lived in.  However, that is a minor complaint of mine.

The ending completely surprised me and actually brought tears to my eyes.  Every time I thought I figured something out, a new secret would pop up and I definitely could not figure out how things were going to tie together.  I was pleased that the story tied up rather well and while it left me eager for the second book, it wasn’t a horrible cliffhanger.

Overall, Something Strange and Deadly brings something new to both the historical fiction genre as well as the horror genre.  Susan Dennard has a promising start with this debut novel.

What others are saying about Something Strange and Deadly:

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog’s review: :”Overall, this was a great read and I strongly anticipate the next one!”

A Page of Heaven’s review: “Something Strange and Deadly was a rather okay book; my feelings for it ranged from love to content to majorly annoyed.”

The Flyleaf Review’s review: “An original blend of historical, paranormal, and a slight touch of steampunk, Something Strange and Deadly is an impressive package to savor.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer | Review

The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer | ReviewThe Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Harper Teen on May 13, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily's and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

picadillyblueThe Secrets of Lily Graves is one of those rare YA books that actually manages to surprise me.  I expected to enjoy this one, and I did, but I didn’t expect to by stumped by the mystery and up late into the night reading to the very end.  Sarah Strohmeyer wove a fantastic mystery that kept me guessing until I turned the very last page.

The Secrets of Lily Graves is a supremely unique YA novel.  Not only is it a mystery, it’s got a totally non-typical romance, a wonderful family relationship, and a heroine who took me by surprise multiple times throughout the course of the book.  The mystery had to be my favorite part.  I very rarely find young adult suspense novels to be suspenseful but that was not the case at all with The Secrets of Lily Graves.  I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book!  Erin’s murderer is at large throughout the book and it’s dang near impossible to figure out who it is.  Even if you do figure out who it is, the motive will totally take you by surprise.  There were multiple layers to Erin’s murder and it seemed like as soon as I peeled away one layer, another one would pop up.  Sarah Strohmeyer really did a great job with the mystery aspect of The Secrets of Lily Graves.

The romance was cuter than I expected.  Matt and Lily have had some sort of relationship for a while but Erin was always in the way of them taking it any further.  Erin’s death might not have been the greatest way to bring them together but it did work.  Everyone blamed Matt for Erin’s death except Lily.  Lily took it upon herself to prove everyone wrong.  That brought her even closer to Matt and their friendship started to turn into something more.  The build up of their relationship was so realistic and they were adorable together.

The family aspect of the story was something else unique about The Secrets of Lily Graves.  You don’t see a lot of close knit families in YA books and you do in this book.  Lily is very close with every member of her family.  Sure she keeps some things from her mom but what teenager doesn’t?  Her aunt Boo is always there for her when she doesn’t want to talk to her mom but needs an adult.  Her grandmother was a bit crazy and she really cracked me up.  The Graves women were totally fun.

Overall, The Secrets of Lily Graves is a great young adult mystery that I definitely recommend checking out.  Sarah Strohmeyer definitely deserves every bit of praise she’s been getting for this one.

What others are saying about The Secrets of Lily Graves:

The Book Nookery’s review: “This wasn’t a terrible book, but it was completely generic, lackluster, and half-assed in every way.”

Words, Pages, and Books’ review: “Oh how I adored The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer!”

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “The Secret of Lily Graves is great read for mystery lovers.”