Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review of Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick


    Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
    Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for
    Young Readers
    Length:427 Pages
    Hardcover, rented from library
    Rating: 2.5 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

       Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it. A mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever (if that's possible) and what's worse, he seems to be spending time with Nora's archenemy, Marcie Millar.

       Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadn't been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude, Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feelings that he is hiding something.

       If that weren't enough, Nora is haunted by images of her murdered father, and comes to question whether her Nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death. Desperate to figure out what happened, she puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations to get the answer. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts.


My Review:

        I'm just going to hop right in and say it: Crescendo, for me, was a big disappointment. It turned out to be the book that I thought its predecessor, Hush Hush, would be. If you've read my review of Hush Hush, you know that I did not expect to like it, but ended up enjoying it anyway. I cannot say the same of Crescendo.

        Before I get into the reasons behind my rating, I'd like to acknowledge that a great number of people really like this series. Some may even venture as far to say it is their favorite. So bear this is mind as you read my opinions: this is just the way I felt about it. If you're interested in the book, try it out. I'm a strong believer in don't-knock-it-'till-you-read-it-yourself. Not that I expect any of you to take my beliefs as the end all be all or anything, but just in case it comes off a bit harsh, keep it in mind. 

So. Where to begin?

        Most of my frustration with the book, surprisingly enough, stemmed from my inability to get over Nora's behavior for the majority of the novel. She came off as extraordinarily clingy and irrational, repeating over and over again about how she was "over" Patch and then blowing a gasket any time she saw him with Marcie. At times I had to remind myself that I could not, unfortunately, reach into the book and smack her with a cold fish. After the first hour or so of reading I had to stop altogether, and I honestly wondered if I would be able to push through the whole book. 

        Another thing that didin't exactly sit right with me was the romantic development between Nora and Patch, which I feel took a hit mainly because of the Nora-problems discussed above. For most of the novel they were either bickering or completely yelling at each other, and the entire time I couldn't help but think that Patch needed to just spit out whatever info he was withholding. His secrecy wasn't helping anything, and Nora proved incapable of trusting him even slightly.

       I wouldn't normally discuss these romance issues so early on, but the romance is such an main point of interest in this series that it feels necessary to point out those problems early on in the review. If you are hoping for the adorable interplay between Nora and Patch, you will be painfully disappointed.

Moving on. 

        As for the new character, Scott, I won't spoil much about how he comes into play. I will say, however, that I couldn't bring myself to like him for the most of the book--much like Vee. I had hoped that I would grow to like Vee a lot more this time around but this did not end up happening. Also, another character --who shall remain unnamed-- makes a disappointing switch at the end of the book.

        There's not much else to say, really, except that at around three quarters into it, things started to get a little better. The suspense, which I will admit was pretty well crafted, got me through the ending without having to stop reading and meditate. A few plot twists toward the end were pretty intriguing as well, and I'm sure those that got past the downfalls of the first half of the book were sufficiently mind-blown-- I know I was, and I'm not one such person. 

        I'm not sure if this qualifies as a redeeming factor or not, but one thing that saved Crescendo from being impossible to read was the writing. Fitzpatrick has maintained her solid ability to paint vivid images, which was a nice thing to see. 

Whoosh. Anyway.

        As someone that loves to read, as I'm sure many of you do, I try to stick to books I think I'll enjoy. Every once in a while, like in the case of this series, I'll give something a chance just for the sake of not being the one person that hasn't read it. I bring this up because I want to leave this review offering a piece of advice: If you think, even slightly, that this series may not be for you-- beware. You could find yourself roped in and then let down, just as I was. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review of Delirium by Lauren Oliver


    Author:Lauren Oliver
    Length:441 Pages
    Paperback, borrowed from a friend
    Rating:4.25 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

        Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

        But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

        Delirium leaves the readers with lingering feelings of both sadness and hope; it will stay with them long after the last page is turned.

My Review:

 It's been a nice chunk of time since my last review, so I'm going to jump right in here.

        I went into Delirium with a pretty foggy idea of what the book was actually about. All I knew for certain was that it had something to do with a society devoid of love--That's all. So you could imagine why I was hesitant to invest time in it; it seemed like it would be the ultimate sap-fest.

I can say with certainty now that I can no longer trust my book intuition.

        Delirium was not, in any way shape or form, just a sap-fest. Rather, it's a glorious exploration of what the world would be like if love were to be prohibited, and how one girl manages to discover its power before she, too, succumbs to the lackluster life that those around her place on such a high pedestal. I won't deny the corniness seeping from that statement, but I won't erase it either. Oliver presents it so masterfully that the concept doesn't branch off into corn-city, but still manages to instill the message of the story deep within you. It's quite beautiful, actually.

        One of the things that really sold Delirium for me were the tidbits of propaganda and text excerpts--taken from various documents and children's rhymes circulated around the society of Delirium -- given at the beginning of each chapter. These little wonderful additions pulled me into the society, and helped me to see how such a seemingly absurd walk of life could be... plausible. Practical, even, in the eyes of people that have never, and could never, experience the joys of love. It makes the whole mass-brain-washing more believable, and worse, forces you to see the power of using fear as a way to persuade and control people.

Anyway, onto less deep subjects.

        Oliver does a great job with the characters, especially in showing how the structure of society has molded a lot of who they are. Lena, the main character, was nothing special. That said, she was still a pretty solid character, and all of her actions and thoughts made sense to me-- I never felt like slamming my face into  a wall, so brownie points there. The characters I found myself most attached to, though, were Hana and Alex. Hana's the best friend anyone would want; the kind that teases you mercilessly, but at the end of the day, will always have your back. Alex is just... well, Alex. I found that I, too, had fallen in love with him by the end of the book. Granted, that happens to me a lot when it comes to love interests, but that doesn't take away from his special little charm. 

        Now, any review of Delirium is not complete unless the marvelous writing of Lauren Oliver is given special mention. Her words project vibrant images within your mind, pulsing and expanding as though they're living entities. It's easy to get lost in her vivid descriptions, all of them appealing to each of the senses as though crafted to place you directly into Delirium's society. 

Okay, I think I've driven my point home. 

        If I haven't succeeded in convincing you to read Delirium, allow the other countless raving reviews scattered across the internet to finish the job. It's definitely a lovely 441 page ride, one that will fly by and leave you spinning in a whirlpool of emotions with its wake. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review of Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

         Sweet Evil

    Author:Wendy Higgins
  Length: 453 Pages
  Paperback, via Amazon.com
  Rating: 2.5 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis: 

Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?


My Review:

         First, I'd like to send a huge apology to any and every person that has checked my blog over the past two weeks, only to find a lack of new reviews. Life has made it a point to busy me, and it's gotten a lot harder to find time to just sit and write.

Anyhoo, moving on. 

        This review is going to turn out a bit more choppy than most of my reviews, simply because there's nothing about the book that I feel particularly passionate about. Such is one of the things contributing to its low brownie rating. 

        So, the plot of Sweet Evil is pretty generic when you strip away the details: good girl meets bad boy, is instantly attracted to bad boy and falls for bad boy despite the fact that she should be scared of him. This is, in essence, the entire premise of the book. Throw in a sexually tense road trip, a best guy friend and a back story about angels and demons and BAM: you've officially recreated Sweet Evil. I know that may come off as a bit critical, but I feel that this is one of the major reasons I couldn't bring myself to enjoy the book; everything felt extremely superficial.

        I'm going to take a moment here to discuss my dissatisfaction with Anna, the main character. Anna is the type of girl that makes you reconsider your principles regarding tossing someone out of a window. Personally, I spent half the time wanting to reach into the book and slap her with a cold fish or something. The problems mainly come from how easily she's swayed by those around her. She knew she shouldn't be doing certain things, but yet there was little to hesitation on her part to think things through. Not to mention, any and every time something even minutely questionable was mentioned, she'd go into a metal dialogue about how she's a good girl that doesn't do bad things. Ever. 

You know when you overdose on sweets and you start to feel nauseous? It's kind of like that.

        Another problem I had was with the character Kopano. I've never been a fan of love triangles, but this one was especially odd to me. I won't spoil anything too major, but I definitely feel that this should be mentioned. What it comes down to, in simple terms, is this: the way Kopano is presented and the way Anna reacts to him is frustratingly bizarre. When and if you decide to read the book, you may understand what I'm saying. The whole situation begins to feel awkward when Kopano enters the picture.

        Now, I'm pretty big on description. I like to be able to visualize as much as possible. Sweet Evil, in my opinion, did O.K in this department. Certain things were described pretty well, while others left me scrambling to put images together in my mind. If you prefer to have only the basics given to you, then you should be content with the level of world-building and imagery.

        I really don't know what else to say about this book. It feels weird to be writing a mostly negative review for this, simply because I expected to really enjoy it. I may come back to edit this if I think of any strong points that should be mentioned, but as of right now, I'm drawing a blank.

        I will say that, with a 4.22 rating on GoodReads, the majority of people really liked Sweet Evil. So, if you're interested in the premise, definitely pick it up. At the very least, it's definitely something to pass the time with. Also, Kaidan isn't such a bad love interest-- British accents have the capacity to make most anything worth while. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

         The Raven Boys

     Author: Maggie Stiefvater
  Publisher: Scholastic Press
  Length: 408 Pages
  Paperback ARC, via giveaway
  Rating:4.25 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

            "There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of theShiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.


My Review:

          I have a lot to say about this book, so I'll just jump right on in. 

           The Raven Boys.

          Me oh my, this is quite the roller-coaster ride. The cool thing about it is, though, that despite it being a roller-coaster, it's definitely a smooth ride. This kind of leads into my first point: pace. Stiefvater sets an excellent pace that forces you to patiently wait for new information, yet never makes you writhe in anticipation for too long in between major plot points. I will say, though, that the beginning was a bit slow; it wasn't until around chapter 4 or 5 that I started to really appreciate the flow of the story.

           So, if you've had the chance to read even just the first chapter of The Raven Boys, you know that the writing is definitely unique. Right off the bat, I noticed how much it resembled Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Not only do the two of them use third person, but the writing itself is a bit more intelligent. The words aren't difficult, but they are definitely used as literary weapons. By that I mean that, at least to me, there's a lot of appeal in a book that sounds smart without bogging you down with unnecessarily obscure words. If you liked the writing in Graceling, you're sure to love it.

           World building. Steifvater has a superb talent to describe exactly what's happening. My one complaint though, (and this is not at all a big thing, just a preference), is that I wish there had been more description for places in between the main settings. Personally,  I like to be able picture as much as possible, but some of you may disagree. Either way, rest assured that the most essential settings are laid out in great details that come to life in your imagination. The devil's definitely in these outstanding details.

           The characters. I've thought about this for quite some time, but I've decided with certainty that the characters are my favorite aspect of this book. Stiefvater allows you to 'know' them the minute they're introduced. Their mannerisms, their manner of speaking, their physical description-- she combines these three elements so flawlessly that they become real. I honestly believe that you could meet any and all of the characters in real life, they're so impeccably believable. They have real flaws and real motivations-- two things that many young adult characters lack. Sure, most characters want something, but it takes a great writer to show exactly what they want and how wanting such things affects what they say and do. 

Whoosh, that was a rant. Moving on.

          The book follows four of the main characters: Blue, Gansey, Adam and Barrington Whelk. My favorite character, I'd have to say, is Gansey. Normally I prefer to read through the perspective of a female, but something about Gansey is just so darn fascinating. Obviously, because the novel is written in third person, you're not placed directly in his head. I think this fact only contributes to the enigma that is Gansey; you're given just enough to be hooked, but not enough to give everything away. 

           The last thing I want to cover is romance. If you read the synopsis and assumed the entire book would be about how a girl can't kiss her boyfriend, you are, thankfully, incorrect. In fact, there's very little romance in this first book and the romance isn't even the one hinted to in the synopsis. This, my friends, is a nice dose of reality. Blue, arguably the 'main' character of the four mentioned above, keeps a level head throughout the entire book. She doesn't fall head over heels with any of the boys, but rather reacts just the way a normal person would: with interest. Interest, to me, is stronger than insta-love. It's this slow, gradual build up that makes the eventual romance that much more "YES" inducing.

 Okay, I'm just about done.

            If you're at all interested in a maturely written story full of mystery and spectacular characters,  I strongly encourage you to go buy The Raven Boys. It's a refreshing new young adult novel that takes you on a completely original adventure. I will most definitely be purchasing the rest of series as they release.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

            Hush, Hush

  Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
  Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books
  Length: 391 Pages
  Hardback, via Library
  Rating: 3.25 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:


        Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

        But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

        For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.


My Review:

           Alright, I'm a little late in the game here. Hush, Hush was first released 3 years ago, which, in young adult novel time, equates to 3 decades. Even still, it seems to pop up at every corner, which is what led me to pursue reading it. It felt like everyone and their mother (literally) had read this book, and I was tired of feeling left out of the Hush, Hush conversation. 

           Such is why I am writing this review now, 3 years overdue.

           So, I'm just going to put this on the table right away: I did not expect to like this book. In fact, I pictured myself tossing it across the room, tearing out pages and setting the binding on fire. I don't know what it is about the premise, but for some reason all I could think about before reading it were the numerous reviews that attacked Patch's character, calling his relationship with Nora everything from boring to psychotic. The only way I could bring myself to read the book was to make a compromise: I would check it out from the school library. 

           Imagine my surprise when, about five chapters in, I have to evaluate the situation. Not only was I reading Hush, Hush: I was enjoying it. I'd even venture to say that I had trouble putting it down. The review I'm about to give came out of a couple days of allowing my opinions to sink in, as my brain had trouble accepting all of the things I like about it.

          One of the highlights of the book, in my opinion, was the writing. This is actually what I worried most about going in, even more so then the supposed crazy romance. Fitzpatrick has an enchanting ability to describe, in lovely detail, what's happening in the book. Even now, my brain can easily conjure up images of characters and situations. She also succeeds at interweaving Nora's thoughts into the narration so it doesn't feel like a play-by-play.

           As for the characters, the only ones I found myself growing attached to were Nora and Patch. Vee's character could easily have been among my favorites, but something about her really turned me off. I'm hoping that I'll grow to like her more as the series progresses, because she still shows a lot of potential. On a different note, though I feel the readers should've been given more time to get to know them, Elliot and Jules were pretty solid characters. I hated them, but in the good way. Kind of like the way you have a love-hate relationship with your favorite movie villain. 

           Patch was a different story. Despite the creep factor that he definitely exudes during the first part of the book, I found myself slowly beginning to like him for his candor. If he felt like saying something to get under Nora's skin, he would. It's as simple as that. I know there are a lot of romantic interests out there that have the same mentality, but that doesn't take away from the glory it gives Patch. I even laughed out loud a couple of times at some of the remarks he makes.

           The protagonist, Nora, was nothing special in my opinion. Was she pleasant to share eyes with?  Sure. Did she leave a lasting impact? No. Of course, this isn't a terribly bad thing. I guess it's just one of the reasons I still only give Hush, Hush a 3.25 rating. Again, I'm hoping that once I break into Crescendo I'll grow to appreciate her more.

          Now, bear in mind, I haven't read many fallen angel books. I'm not sure I've read any, for that matter. I'll say, though, that the back-story behind the fallen angels in Hush, Hush really had my attention. I won't blow any of it, but I'll say that I thought it was pretty well thought out and delivered. I'm also interested to hear more about Patch's life as an angel.

           I'll end this review with a final statement: if you're looking for a decent, quick read to pass the time, Hush, Hush is definitely something you can consider. As someone that didn't have high hopes, I am happy to say that I'm sure to read the other installments as soon as possible.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Review of Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper

          Grasping at Eternity

   Author: Karen Amanda Hooper
   Publisher: Starry Sky Publishing
   Length: 352 Pages
   Paperback,via GoodReads giveaway
   Rating: 4 Eternal Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

        Leave it to Maryah Woodsen to break the one rule that will screw up eternity: Never erase your memories.

        Before entering this life, Maryah did the unthinkable—she erased. Now, at seventeen years old, she’s clueless that her new adoptive family has known her for centuries, that they are perpetually reincarnated souls, and that they have supernatural abilities. Oh, and she's supposed to love (not despise) Nathan, the green-eyed daredevil who saved her life.

        Nathan is convinced his family’s plan to spark Maryah's memory is hopeless, but his love for her is undying. After spending (and remembering) so many lifetimes together, being around an empty version of his soulmate is heart shattering. He hates acting like a stalker, but has no choice because the evil outcast who murdered Maryah in their last lifetime is still after her.

       While Maryah’s hunter inches closer, she and Nathan make assumptions and hide secrets that rip them further apart. Maryah has to believe in the magic within her, Nathan must have faith in the power of their love, and both need to grasp onto the truth before they lose each other forever—and discover just how lonely eternity can be.

X-MEN meets MY NAME IS MEMORY in Karen Amanda Hooper’s latest young adult release.


My Review:

         To say that I was shell-shocked to see that I won a GoodReads giveaway would be a gross understatement. I was beginning to think it was impossible to accomplish, as I had entered countless of them to no avail. Lo and behold, an e-mail popped up in my inbox a few weeks ago deconstructing any suspicions I had accumulated. I had won a First Reads giveaway.

I walked on clouds for the rest of that day.

          Flash forward, about two weeks later, and a package waits for me calmly at home. My fingers were tearing at the material surrounding the book with a certain ferocity before I could even guess at what waited inside: Grasping at Eternity-- in all of its gorgeous cover glory, complete with a sealed envelop tucked within a random page.

          I'll take this moment to give a huge shout out to Karen Amanda Hooper, (and her fabulously named dog, Rooney), for taking the time to write me a lovely message bound in an equally lovely envelope. I'm not sure she'll ever see this review, but I wanted to give a shout out anyway to show my appreciation.

        Anyway, on to the point at hand. Grasping at Eternity.

           This book definitely surprised me. Oddly enough, it surprised me by not surprising me. I got exactly what I wanted from it. All too often lately I've had totally wrong notions about what a book may be about. It was a nice breath of fresh air to read something that delivered in every area that I had hoped it would.

           Reading the synopsis, one may immediately notice that the central topic of the novel is reincarnation. The whole idea caught my attention from the beginning; there aren't many young adult novels about life cycles around these days. I hoped going in that it would set a high bar for a concept I had yet to dabble in, and set a high bar it did. Due to the shifting perspectives of Maryah, pronounced like Mariah, and Nathan, the reader is allowed insight into the idea of reincarnation almost immediately. At times it was mildly frustrating knowing so much more than Maryah, but at the same time it's easy to understand why she's kept in the dark for so long. If someone were to tell me I've lived 20 other lives, I'd run for the hills at full speed.

            On the topic of changing perspectives, I will say that Nathan's point of view was kind of... iffy-- but only at first. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but his voice read more like a female than a male. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't seeing things through Maryah's eyes. After getting comfortable with the fact that he was lifetimes old, though, I started to understand why he sounded so different: he didn't sound like a typical teenage boy because he wasn't a typical teenage boy. Far from it, actually. I won't spoil anything more, but I will say that his intense love for Maryah also contributed to the way his voice was conveyed, and after a while it began to feel more natural. 

          This sort of leads into my next point: the way Hooper delivers the romance. While I admit that I wish I was given a little more time to get to know Nathan, I understand the reasons he kept his distance. I also realized that, in many ways, seeing less of a romantic interest is better than having them shoved down your throat during every scene. I think the main reason it bothered me at all was because by the time they "got together," it felt kind of rushed and weird. I understand that they were by no means strangers to each other, but as a bystander that witnessed only the events of the novel, it felt as though all of a sudden these strangers had fallen madly in love. It isn't insta-love, but we're never given a build up, either.

          Lack of romantic build up aside, it's crucial that I point out how lovely Hooper's writing is. Her descriptions creep off the page, slowly inching their way up into your mind. Everything is vivid and everything is beautiful. That's the simplest and best way I can describe it. You'll just have to read it for yourself to understand, but it's pretty incredible.
I'm just about done with my ranting session now. 

         I really hope that this gains more notice within the Young Adult/New Adult crowd. I was shocked to find that this fantastic book had only 209 ratings on GoodReads. What does that mean? It means go buy Grasping for Eternity. It's a wonderfully crafted novel that embraces a new phenomenon that is sure to keep your pages turning. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Review of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

      Pushing the Limits

      Author: Katie McGarry
   Publisher:Harlequin Teen
   Length: 384 Pages
   Hardcover, via a giveaway
   Rating: 4 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

           No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

          Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.


My Review:

The fact that I'm doing a review for this book right now still amazes me. I went on a giveaway-entering frenzy and was fortunate enough to win one of the books I wanted to read most: Pushing the Limits.

           Needless to say, when I got the email asking for my name and address, I nearly flipped my laptop into oblivion out of sheer joy. It is for this reason that I will do my best to give it the fairest review possible. I've been working through a cold for the past few days, so bear with me if I make some wonky comments.

           I'll start by saying that the synopsis, in my opinion, is slightly misleading. I was under the impression that a lot of the book dealt with a hidden romance between a broken girl and a bad boy. The romance, though, seemed to be far from hidden. Yes, there were some conflicts that made it difficult for them to be together, but I never got that "forbidden love" vibe. That said, this is by no means a negative thing. In fact, if the romance had been what I had been expecting, the story may have branched off in a whole bunch of cheesy directions. 

           While I'm on the topic of romance, I'd like to convey just how much I loved the relationship between Echo and Noah. McGarry does a splendid job at showing, through dialogue, how the two of them bring out the best in each other. Many of the comments they shoot back and forth had me laughing out loud, reeling at how perfect they are for each other. I don't normally start a review talking about the romance, but considering it was one of the best, most authentic parts of the novel, I feel it is necessary to make an exception here.

Moving on.

          If you didn't already know, the book alternates between the perspectives of Echo and Noah  every chapter. I didn't know this ahead of time, and quite honestly, it kind of worried me at first. I've never been a huge fan of point of view switches, but both Echo and Noah were such real, likable people it didn't bother me in the slightest. In fact, some of my favorite moments were told through Noah's perspective.

           As for secondary characters, there were only a few that I built a strong connection to. Mrs. Collins quickly became one of my favorite characters. Whether it was her sunny demeanor or her reckless driving habits, McGarry made sure that this woman made an impact on me. She has this way of saying so much out of so little, something that is hard to find in a book. Add the fact that you could see how much she cared for Noah and Echo and BOOM: outstanding character. Other people in Echo's life, however, irked me to no end. Grace, old friend of Echo and now most popular girl in school, managed to upset me any time she was mentioned. I understand in a "I-guess-I-get-why-you're-acting-like-such-a-biscuit" way, but at the same time I felt that she just needed to grow up. Personally, I've never met someone so dead set on being popular, so maybe that's why this bothered me so much.

          Other characters, some only mentioned once or twice, really helped to make the story that much more believable. Some authors forget that there are always additional people in a character's life that mean little in the grand scheme of things. It's all about immersing your reader into a story, and simulating as many aspects of real life as possible can really help to accomplish this. 

          On a different side of things, the language and description that McGarry implements is quite lovely. Her words mesh perfectly together to produce a vivid image in your mind. You could see Echo pulling down her sleeves perfectly, and eventually your mind put pieces like this into your mental image automatically. You're placed entirely into the world of Echo and Noah, almost as if you are a part of their universe.

           If I had to pick my favorite aspect of the book, though, I'd have to mention the book's ability to  evoke some serious emotion-age within you. Pushing the Limits had me laughing, crying, and biting my nails-- sometimes two of these things at the same time. The characters knock loudly at the door to your heart until you are forced to let them in. It's a wonderful thing to see.

          If you haven't yet read Pushing the Limits, do yourself a solid and order it whichever way you can. I was lucky enough to win it, but it's honestly worth any money you may have to pay for it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review of Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout


  Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
  Publisher: Entangled Teen 
  Length: 366 Pages
  Paperback, via Amazon.com
  Rating: 4.5 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

          Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

          The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

           I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…


My Review:

Oh man. Oh-man-oh-man-oh-man.

 I really should've known, the second I picked up this book, that it would become a "problem book." Problem Books lead to me struggling with A.) Writing a review for it, doing it as much justice as possible, and B.) Suffering through months of waiting for my next Lux Fix.

And here I return to a constant stream of man-oh-mans. Ms. Armentrout has done it again, folks. Okay, here we go.

           So if you are a GoodReads fiend such as myself, you know that the reviews for Onyx are through the freaking roof. I thought the 4.44 rating that Obsidian boasted was impressive, but nearly 4.7? That's virtually unheard of. My immediate response to seeing such a high praise rate was rather depressing in retrospect; I couldn't help but think that only die-hard Obsidian fans had gotten hold of the book, so of course they'd love the living hell out of it. I could practically feel the raging hormones bouncing off the reviews for Onyx, all spazzed out after a heavy dose of Alien-crack.

           Well, if you read my review for Obsidian, then you know that I was also one such provider of a hormone-dominated review. I return to you all today, still blushing slightly and yet again fanning myself, to give you another round of flustered ranting. Let's do this.

           Onyx. I'm going to try to sum it up in only a few words, but it wouldn't and couldn't possibly convey just how good the book is: A bigger, better, longer, sexier and more emotion-inducing Obsidian. When I saw other reviewers say very similar things, my immediate thought was along the lines of, "No way, not possible--Nope." As per usual, I was wrong. Very wrong, very stupid and very in for a very big surprise. 

        So, the beginning is nothing too special. Armentrout does a great job at bringing her returning fans back into the world of Katy and Daemon, knitting pieces of the last book's plot effortlessly into the thoughts and dialogue to bring you up to date. I never felt like I was reading too much exposition, which is great. The reader is also immediately treated to extreme Daemon-cuteness-- he puts a cookie halfway into his mouth and I just about kissed my book. 

        As the story goes on, I will say there were quite a few moments during which I felt the need to slam my face into a hard surface. Of course, usually these things were the good kind of face-palm moments, the kind you get when you know something bad is going to happen but it doesn't make watching it happen any less funny/sad/satisfactory. However, if you are someone that gets easily fed up with knowing too much more than the main character, then perhaps you will find these moments kind of annoying. I'll just say this: Katy is kind of clueless about certain thing frequently throughout Onyx, but understandably so. I just had to keep reminding myself that I'd probably think in a similar way to keep any irritation down.

       Obviously, as I've stated before and as I'm sure you would expect if you've read Obsidian, JLA goes full force with all types of tension in Onyx. Emotional tension, fear-induced tension, angry-tension, and the mother of all tension-- sexual tension. Most times, Armentrout manages to infuse scenes with more than one of these types of intensity and the end result is always fantastic: you feel it. You feel the tension inside you, taking custody of your nerves and playing them like a string instrument. It's incredible, and so rare, this ability that Armentrout has developed throughout her works. 

           One thing I wish I had gotten of out of Onyx was a bit more inclusion of secondary characters. I loved Blake, even despite the fact that I flipped back and forth between hating him and liking him. Dee, Adam, Lesa and Carissa, though, were kind of tossed to the side. Again, I totally understand how and why these characters were pushed to the back burner, but I still wished I had seen more of them. I guess I missed them in a way. Just something to consider.

          I could go on and on, (again), about this book, but if I'm forced to depart with one last high praise, I'd simply say this: The humor was spot on. I generally refrain from using silly text-language like lol, but quite honestly that's the best way to describe what I must have looked like reading Onyx. Cooped up on my bed, earplugs muffling out any sound-- and laughing out loud. And trust me, I'm sure it was loud. If you thought Obsidian was hilarious be prepared for some wild guffaws, because the dialogue is marvelously funny. 

           If you haven't yet read Obsidian, or any of Jennifer Armentrout's other fantastic novels, open up another tab right now and order them. Check that little priority shipping box and endure the wait--it's well worth it. If you have read Obsidian, order Onyx. Do it now. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of Nocturnal by Chelsea M. Cameron


  Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
 Length: Appx. 232 Pages.
 E-Book, via Amazon Kindle PC
 Rating: 3 Brownies



GoodReads Synopsis:

          Seventeen-year-old Ava-Claire Sullivan's mother is dying. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that her greatest solace comes from someone who's already dead.

          Peter Hart saves her one night in a graveyard from an attacker just as strange as he is, and now Ava can't stop thinking about him. She wants to see him again – even after he warns her he's dangerous, and she begins to realize what he is. Her best friends don't know anything about death, but Peter does, intimately. He's waiting for her the next night she comes to the cemetery, and the next...

          But their growing bond comes up against a promise Peter made a long time ago, a promise that could destroy them both. Now Ava has to decide just what she's willing to give up to hold onto the one thing that could last forever.


My Review:

          I'll be honest and say I haven't the slightest clue about where to start on this one. Yes, I did enjoy the book, but there's nothing specific about it that I feel inclined to begin with.

 I guess I'll just start from the beginning.

          So, the beginning felt like an entity of its own, almost detached from the rest of the novel. It slams you right off the bat with some pretty heavy news: the main character's mother is dying. Yes, legitimately dying, A.K.A, no vampires... yet. One would think that starting a novel off on such a down note might not be the best idea, but somehow Cameron still managed to take hold of my attention. As I read on, however, I worried that the entire novel would be based on the morbid behavior of a distraught teenage girl. Negativity seeped into Ava's every thought, which made the first chapters difficult to push through. I came very close to dropping the book, but a little voice in my head urged me to continue. Fortunately, I didn't have to struggle very long. Somewhere after chapter 4 it became a new story, rid of the morbidity that weighs heavily upon the first chapters.

              I discovered pretty quickly, after all of the my-mother-is-going-to-die mantras eventually stopped, that I actually really liked Ava's character. Her thought's lost their angst-y coating and she became someone I could actually see myself being good friends with. You can tell that she really cares for her friends, Tex and Jamie, and that they truly care for her too. In fact, I'd like to note that Tex was one of my favorite characters. She just always exudes this quality of playfulness and sincerity, and  I loved the banter between she and Ava; it felt believable.

            Speaking of characters, I may as well bring up the love interest. Peter. Peter, Peter, Peter. The first time his point of view came up, I didn't like where his character was headed. Something felt really off, and I hated the way his character was presented. Again, like the beginning of the book, it got better  around the third time around, but those first two were honestly just plain weird to read. His character through Ava's point of view, though, I adored. Everybody loves an innocent, clueless soul and that's exactly what Peter is. I won't blow too much about him, but all you need to know if you're interested in reading Nocturnal is that he's not your typical hero. I'll leave it at that and allow you to uncover the rest.

          The world building was nothing spectacular and sometimes I found it difficult to picture certain things. I would've loved a more detailed description of the graveyard in particular, as that was easily my favorite setting. There's enough to outline an image in your head, but the rest is left up the reader.

          Now, one thing I think needs to be pointed out about this novel is that it felt more like an introduction than anything else. Aside from a few set-up-esque plot points, not much goes on. The "climax" comes at the very end, and even then nothing is fully established. I'm really hoping that Nightmare will be different in this respect, as this novel had virtually no central conflict.

          Another thing that the novel lacked was follow up on a lot of essential questions. There were so may side problems that almost none of them were even remotely resolved. Aside from mentions here and there of her mother's illness, the whole idea is pushed completely to the way-side. I almost completely forgot at some point that her mother was ill at all! Further, conflicts within Jamie's life are never examined, and though I understand that Ava has a lot of her own stuff to dwell on, it got to the point where I forgot Jamie even existed. There are other unresolved issues that are too important to spoil, but if you read the book you'll know exactly what they are. The inconsistency is rather disappointing.

         I feel kind of like jelly now after sitting here and editing this, but I shall depart with one last tidbit.   This book, while nothing special, is pretty darn good, especially because it's absolutely free right now. It's definitely worth looking into, and despite the bad rep that vampire's get, (to which, I admittedly contribute), this vampire book is at the very least bearable if not thoroughly enjoyable. I give it 3 tasty brownies :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Current A-List Kindle Freebies!

Check out these great novels available for FREE on Kindle as of August 14th, 2012!

                       Prince of Wolves

                             Author: Quin Loftis
                             GR Rating: 4.13
                             Length: 216 Pages

GoodReads Description: 

           Jaque Pierce was just an ordinary 17 year old girl getting ready to start her senior year in high school in Coldspring, Texas. When a mysterious foreign exchange student from Romania moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends, Sally and Jen, don't realize the last two weeks of their summer was going to get a lot more interesting. From the moment Jacque sets eyes on Fane she feels an instant connection, a pull like a moth to a flame. Little does she know that the flame she is drawn to is actually a Canis lupis, werewolf, and she just happens to be his mate; the other half of his soul. The problem is Fane is not the only wolf in Coldspring, Texas. Just as Fane and Jacque are getting to know each other, another wolf steps out to try and claim Jacque as his mate. Fane will now have to fight for the right to complete the mating bond, something that is his right by birth but is being denied him by a crazed Alpha. Will the love Fane has for Jacque be enough to give him the strength to defeat his enemy, will Jacque accept that she is Fane's mate and complete the bond between them?


                            Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
                            GR Rating: 4.25
                            Length: 232 Pages

GoodReads Description:

           Seventeen-year-old Ava-Claire Sullivan's mother is dying. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that her greatest solace comes from someone who's already dead.

Peter Hart saves her one night in a graveyard from an attacker just as strange as he is, and now Ava can't stop thinking about him. She wants to see him again – even after he warns her he's dangerous, and she begins to realize what he is. Her best friends don't know anything about death, but Peter does, intimately. He's waiting for her the next night she comes to the cemetery, and the next...

           But their growing bond comes up against a promise Peter made a long time ago, a promise that could destroy them both. Now Ava has to decide just what she's willing to give up to hold onto the one thing that could last forever.


                                Author: M. Leighton
                                GR Rating: 4.16
                                Length: 57 pages

GoodReads Description:

             Madly is your average nearly-eighteen year old girl--for a princess, that is.

           Madly James is thoroughly enjoying her internship in the small town of Slumber when the unthinkable happens—there’s a prison break in Atlas, the magically-protected home of Madly’s race. A traitor has set free eight Lore, the spirits of what humans know as fairy tales, and they are making their way to Slumber to awaken their descendants.

             In order to save her home, the lives of her family, and all of humanity, Madly must learn to wield her exceptional powers and recapture the Lore before it’s too late and all is lost. But Madly’s only help are her two best friends and the Sentinel, Jackson Hamilton, that threatens both her heart and her destiny. Madly has loved Jackson as long as she can remember, but he is the one thing even a princess can’t have. Can she resist love to become the queen she was fated to be? Or can she find a way to have both?

This novelette introduces you to Madly and prepares you for the quest of a lifetime

                             The Fallen Star

                          Author: Jessica Sorensen
                          GR Rating: 3.97
                          Length: 449 Pages

GoodReads Description:

           For eighteen year-old Gemma, life has never been normal. Up until recently, she has been incapable of feeling emotion. And when she's around Alex, the gorgeous new guy at school, she can feel electricity that makes her skin buzz. Not to mention the monsters that haunt her nightmares have crossed over into real-life. But with Alex seeming to hate her and secrets popping up everywhere, Gemma's life is turning into a chaotic mess. Things that shouldn't be real suddenly seem to exist. And as her world falls apart, figuring out the secrets of her past becomes a matter of life and death.

                        Diary of a Vampeen

                              Author: Christin Lovell
                              GR Rating: 4.00
                              Length: 307 Pages

GoodReads Description:

           Imagine living a human charade for fifteen years and never knowing it. Imagine being provided less than a week to learn and accept your family’s true heritage before it overtook you. Alexa Jackson, Lexi, is abruptly thrown onto this roller coaster and quickly learns that she can’t change fate, regardless of how many lifetimes she is given. She will be transformed into a vampeen on her sixteenth birthday, she will be called upon to fulfill a greater destiny within the dangerous world of vampires, and she will have to risk heartbreak and rejection if she ever wants a chance at love with Kellan, whether she likes it or not.