Friday, August 29, 2014

Blog Tour: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre | Review + GiveawayI Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Series: 2B Trilogy #1
Published by Harlequin HQN on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

picadillyblueI Want It That Way is Ann Aguirre’s first foray into the young adult genre and she definitely did it right!  Nadia and Ty’s story captured my heart and this series has some serious potential.

Nadia reminded me a lot of myself.  She’s hardworking, driven, and pretty hard on herself.  She is a full time college student who also has a part time job.  She has very little free time but she still manages to maintain some great friendships and care about her family.  Ty is similar to Nadia in that he’s working as well as putting himself through school but he’s also got a 4-year-old son to take care of.  What little free time he has he spends with his son and his parents.  Nadia and Ty don’t seem like they’d work since neither of them has much free time but what little time they do have they spend getting to know each other.

Nadia and Ty’s relationship seemed a little instalovey at first but that changed quickly.  It was more that they were both instantly attracted to each other even though they both knew they couldn’t possibly work out.  They decided to be friends and they really spent time getting to know each other.  They definitely had chemistry though and I was just waiting for them to give into the attraction.  They were not meant to be just friends, no matter what they thought.

The story wasn’t action-packed but it was still fast-paced.   Once I started reading, I could not stop.  I fell in love with Nadia and Ty’s story and I wanted to know if they’d get their happy ending.  The story also does a great job introducing the characters that will be center stage in the following two books in the series.  I wasn’t very impressed with Lauren but Max’s story is one I can’t wait for.

I Want It That Way is definitely a new adult book.  There are some serious sexy times.  I knew that Ann Aguirre could do romance but I had no idea they could be this steamy!  She’s right up there with Jennifer Armentrout and Erin McCarthy in that category.

Overall, I Want It That Way is a fabulous new adult novel that I highly recommend.  Ann Aguirre has been added to my list of favorite new adult authors and I can’t wait to read the second 2B novel.

What others are saying about I Want It That Way:

The Book Vixen’s review: “The cast of misfits in apartment 2B are also fantastic!”

The Reading Date’s review: “I think Ann Aguirre is a great addition to the New Adult scene and adds a fresh point of view.”

Talk Books To Me’s review: “At times the story does move slow and the ending was rushed but I still really enjoyed it.”

Ann Aguirre

 

 

About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

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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.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon | Review

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon | ReviewDragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #2
Published by Dell on July 1, 1992
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 947
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ...about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ...and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ...in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ...and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....

picadillyblueDragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series, brings readers back into the lives of Claire and Jamie Fraser.  This book just confirmed my love for this series.

All the original characters are back in this sequel but it also introduces readers to a bunch of new characters.  Two of those characters play a prominent role in the story but I wasn’t all that impressed with them.  Brianna Fraser and Roger Wakefield are introduced early in the book but readers are not given a lot of background information about either of them.  I know this is a long series and these characters are going to play parts in the following books though so I’m assuming Diana Gabaldon did that on purpose.  I liked them both but I look forward to finding out more about them.

As for the original cast of characters, I didn’t think it was possible to love them more but I was wrong.  Jamie and Claire only grow more amazing throughout the course of the book.  Claire is just as strong as she was in the first book, if not stronger.  She may not fit the mold of women in the eighteenth century but she doesn’t care and neither does Jamie.  Jamie is a strong man who loves Claire exactly the way she is.  They are both stubborn and like to argue but I think that only added depth to their relationship.  I loved Jamie but he was seriously hard-headed and made some very bad choices in Dragonfly in Amber.  He did make up for them though.

The story is full of politics and mystery and a good amount of romance.  The politics are what really had me hooked though.  The majority of the story is set in the eighteenth century and it focuses on the rising of Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie.)  I don’t know how much of the story was fact and how much was fiction but it was so captivating!  This is definitely one of those books that will have you intrigued enough to actually look into more of the history surrounding the story.

Overall, Dragonfly in Amber is a solid sequel to Outlander.  I’m continuing my binge read of this series with Voyager and I seriously need to get started after that crazy ending!

What others have to say about Dragonfly in Amber:

The Lit Bitch’s review: “Now that I am done with Book II, I absolutely MUST continue on with the series…though they are long (each book is about 800-900 pages) but I simply cannot move on to something else until I know what happens next.”

The Hope Chest Reviews’ review: “With her amazing talent and enthralling writing style, Diana Gabaldon has also earned a place among my favorite authors.”

I’m Loving Books’ review: “It was a great follow up and although it’s very long, it was fairly easy to keep turning the page to continue.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon | Review

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon | ReviewOutlander by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published by Dell on June 1, 1991
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 896
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire . . . and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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After watching the first episode of the new Starz TV show, Outlander, I couldn’t resist picking up the first book in the series that it was adapted from. I’d heard about Outlander before watching the show but I’d never actually picked it up. I’m so glad the show gave me that final push to give the series a try.

Outlander is unlike anything I’ve read before.  It’s such a mix of genres that I honestly have a hard time describing it when people ask about it.  It’s definitely mostly historical fiction but it’s also romance with a hint of science fiction and fantasy.  Outlander incorporates everything I love from all those genres and it all blends so perfectly in this series.

The characters are what will keep readers invested in Outlander.  The book is long.  The version I read was almost 900 pages but I never once felt the urge to stop reading.  By 100 pages in I wanted to know everything that would happen to Claire, Jamie, Frank, Colum, Dougal, and the others.  Every character is extremely unique and that’s hard to do with a cast of characters that is so large.  Jamie and Claire were by far my favorites though.  Their love story was absolutely amazing.  Jamie was strong, fierce, protective, and kind.  Yes there was one thing he did that I did not approve of but it didn’t change my opinion of him.  (If you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!)  Claire was a lot like Jamie.  She was strong and protective but she was also so smart and so outspoken.  It definitely made for some interesting situations seeing as women weren’t really like that back then.  She and Jamie butted heads quite a bit but it only made their relationship stronger.  Also, don’t ever think you can trust someone in this book.  Holy crap were they a bunch of backstabbers.

The first 100 pages are a little dull.  Don’t let that stop you from reading though.  Outlander is a wonderful start to the series of the same name and I’m eager to continue with the series.  I’m 100% invested in the lives of these characters now.

Note: There are explicit scenes in Outlander.  It is an adult novel.  It contains graphic descriptions of torture and rape.  You have been warned.

What others have to say about Outlander:

Eating Bender’s review: “Her ability to portray historical characters is outstanding, and even though I will caution that there are some very explicit scenes (see the section below for more on this subject), the story feels authentic and heartfelt.”

I’m Loving Books’ review: “Despite what I didn’t like I liked the book overall and I just adore their love story, it’s very lovely.”

Confessions of a Book Addict’s review: “I can’t wait to revisit Jamie and Claire’s captivating world.”

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.”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Penguin Teen on August 14, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

picadillyblueDoes it really come as a surprise to anyone that I absolutely adored the final book in the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy?  No?  Didn’t think so.  Isla and the Happily Ever After may just be the best book of the trilogy, in my opinion.

Isla and the Happily Ever After brings the trilogy full circle.  The story is once again mainly set at the School of America in Paris and the Paris scenery is just as wonderful as it was in Anna and the French Kiss.  However, the book isn’t fully set in Paris.  There is a little side trip to Barcelona as well as some time spent in New York City.  Stephanie Perkins’ books may just be contemporary romances but the setting always makes things interesting.  While I loved the Paris setting, I think Barcelona was my favorite part of Isla and the Happily Ever After.  Just like Anna and Etienne have Point Zero in Paris, Isla and Josh have La Sagrada Familia and so many other places throughout Barcelona.  They also have a few places throughout New York City and while a good portion of the book was set there, I felt more like their relationship was centered around Paris and Barcelona.

Part of the reason I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After so much was Isla.  Josh too but Isla was really a mystery before this book and she quickly showed to be a complex character with a story that I really connected with.  Isla never felt like she was good enough for anyone.  It was pretty clear that she didn’t think much of herself and so why would anyone else?  Her self esteem was beyond low but she was never a depressing character.  She had her best friend, Kurt, who suffered from Autism.  Kurt was a fantastic character.  His personality was perfect for Isla.  They grew up together and so they knew each other as if they were siblings, which they pretty much were.  I also loved how much Kurt meant to Isla.  She was willing to give up other friendships if the other person couldn’t accept Kurt.  They showed true loyalty to each other.

As for Josh, he was a much more complex character than I ever could have imagined.  Readers only get a glimpse of Josh in Anna and the French Kiss but you get his full story in Isla and the Happily Ever After.  He seems totally carefree at first but it quickly becomes clear that that is just a facade.  Josh is a deep character that balanced Isla perfectly.  Josh and Isla were pretty much opposites but they worked together.  Josh brought out a fun side of Isla and challenged her to try new things.  Isla brought out a more serious side to Josh and forced him to really look at why he did some of the things he did.  Their romance was a bit of a whirlwind but it was so much fun.  I wanted to see them both happy and it was clear that they brought out the best in each other.

The cameos from Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket were minor but perfect.  I expected a bit more of them than I actually got but I was actually okay with that.  Their parts in the story were absolutely wonderful.  Isla and the Happily Ever After tied things up for all three of the couples and I couldn’t have asked for more from Stephanie Perkins.  The brief glimpses of Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket definitely left me with a smile on my face.

Overall, Isla and the Happily Ever After could not have been better.  It’s the perfect ending to this trilogy and it left me eager to read whatever Stephanie Perkins writes next.  If you haven’t already started this series, you should really get on that.

What others are saying about Isla and the Happily Ever After:

Reading Teen’s review: “Isla and the Happily Ever After is a charmingly sweet addition to the trilogy.”

Lite-Rate-Ture’s review: “Stephanie Perkins knows how to end her story so well, I just felt my tiny heart clench inwards.”

Jenuine Cupcakes’ review: “Isla And The Happily Ever After is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection!”

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.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dearest Clementine (Dearest #1) by Lex Martin | Review

Dearest Clementine (Dearest #1) by Lex Martin | ReviewDearest Clementine by Lex Martin
Series: Dearest #1
on May 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 232
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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2 Stars

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn't mind being called bitchy and closed off. It's safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out...in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

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When I saw Dearest Clementine on sale on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot.  It was free, what could it hurt?  Well, I realized there was a good reason it was free: it’d be a complete waste of money to actually pay for it.

Clementine was a grade A bitch.  She was only nice to a handful of people and those people were her close friends.  Hell, one of her roommates was even scared of her.  When she first meets Gavin she’s not even willing to tell him her name and he’s nothing but nice.  Clementine really didn’t have much personality either.  It seemed all she had going for her was her looks.

Speaking of looks, the author spends way too much time talking about Clementine’s.  It’s all about how gorgeous Clem is, how skinny, how lightweight, etc.  We get it, she’s pretty!  No need to mention it on every page.

There was also way too much going on, plotwise.  There was this whole storyline with Clementine’s professor, another storyline about a missing girl, another storyline about Clementine being a YA writer but nobody knows it, another storyline involving Clementine’s cheating ex, etc.  Holy crap!  The sad part was that the book still wasn’t very gripping even with all that going on.

As for the love interest (or three) I didn’t mind him but I didn’t particularly like him either.  He was very secretive and his secrets ended up being really stupid.  If he had just talked to Clementine they would have had no drama in their relationship.  Of course he couldn’t do that and Clementine freaked out because she had trust issues.  Those trust issues revolved around her ex, Daren, who I actually maybe liked more than Gavin.  And that is saying something.  Sure he messed up but he apologized and seemed like a really sweet guy.

Overall, Dearest Clementine is one new adult novel that I cannot recommend.  This is one series that I will not be continuing.

What others are saying about Dearest Clementine:

Aesta’s Book Blog’s review: “Overall, this was a really sweet read with a little bit of humor, fun, drama, and mystery.”

Insightful Minds Reviews’ review: “All in all, Dearest Clementine earns 4 stars from me.”

Lite-Rate-Ture’s review: “You have to read Lex Martin’s Dearest Clementine, she has a beautiful writing style and DEAREST CLEMENTINE is one of a kind.”