Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Sweetest Escape (My Favorite Mistake #2) by Chelsea M. Cameron

  Feeling off balance when reading is never comfortable for me.  That’s the best way to describe how I feel when I read the second book in a series.  While this feeling usually goes away after a few pages, in some cases it lasts for the whole book.  That’s the best way for me to describe how I felt reading My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron.  Add to this one of the most disappointing “reveals” of my recent reading life, and you have a recipe for an unhappy reader.
            Joscelyn (Jos) Archer was the perfect good girl.  She was a preppy, happy student going through all of the usual college experiences with aplomb.  When a tragic event occurs, it upends her life and changes her from a good girl to a lost one.  When her parents are unable to deal with her new attitude, they send Jos to her sister Renee.  Renee lives in a large house with several other students (including the couple from the first book in this series).  Renee lays down the law and makes sure that Jos is going to school, heeding a curfew, and staying out of trouble.
            Unbeknownst to Jos, Renee has enlisted Dusty, a musician and friend of Renee’s, to keep an eye on her and make sure that she stays on the right path.  Dusty is appealing to Jos and soon, the two have developed a not-quite-platonic but not-quite-committed relationship.
            Because of the aforementioned tragic event, Jos is unwilling to make a commitment to Dusty (who coincidentally has a tragic event in his recent past.  However, instead of making Dusty less responsible, it has actually caused him to straighten up his life).  Enter 200 pages of Will They? Or Won’t They?
            When the tragic event is revealed, it is discovered the SAME TRAGIC EVENT devastated both Jos and Dusty!  And this event was the biggest letdown in my recent memory.  Both Jos and Dusty fought back and forth with self-loathing (“It was my fault, Dusty.”  “No, it was my fault, Jos.”)  So, I was thinking, “Dear Lord, did they accidentally drown someone?  Cause a person to lose his college career?  What?  What was it?!!!?)  When the big reveal came, I was furious.  There is no way that either of these characters should have blamed themselves in the least for the “tragic event”.  Seriously, it was asinine.  (The equivalent of me throwing gum on the sidewalk, you stepping in it, walking into the street, and getting hit by a car.  And then I spend a year of my life thinking about how awful it is that I killed you.)  It was the most ridiculous angst producing literary ending I have read in a long time.
            Couple that horrible ending with the sense that I was missing something (I guess what I was missing was the set-up of the characters from the first book),  and you have a bad reading experience.  While I am certain that this book was meant to be able to read as a stand-alone, it never felt that way.  I suppose that I can take the blame for this part—if I had read the first one, maybe the book would have felt more comfortable.  But there is no way that I am taking any blame for that horrible ending.  
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Regina

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth (The Diaries #1) by V.C. Andrews

Jealousy, tragedy, survival, and revenge—the discovery of Christopher’s diary in the ruins of Foxworth Hall brings new secrets of the Dollanganger family to light and obsesses a new generation. With Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind both now major Lifetime TV events, this first new addition to the Dollanganger story in nearly thirty years is a timely look at the events in the attic—from teenage Christopher’s point of view.

And don’t forget to preorder the follow-up, Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger!

Christopher Dollanganger was fourteen when he and his younger siblings—Cathy and the twins, Cory and Carrie—were locked away in the attic of Foxworth Hall, prisoners of their mother’s greedy inheritance scheme. For three long years he kept hope alive for the sake of the others. But the shocking truth about how their ordeal affected him was always kept hidden—until now. 

When I received this book in the mail and found that I got to read and review this one I was excited and couldn’t wait to get started reading it. I have always been a fan of V.C. Andrews and I remember reading the Dollanganger series when I was in middle school so I couldn’t wait to read and see what “Christopher” had written in his diary. Within the first five pages I was instantly hooked and couldn’t wait to get to the really good parts of the story.

     I liked “Kristin” and how she seemed to how a natural curiosity about a lot of things that were going on around her and her life. Once she found the diary however, it seemed she didn’t really care about other trivial teenage things any longer. She became really obsessed with the diary and finding out more about the Dollanganger children; I knew that “Kristin” knew that she had a distant tie to the family, but she wasn’t really sure how far back. I was surprised to read at the end of the book that they were distant cousins of hers, but because it was at the very end of the book it just made me end up having more questions. I especially wanted to know that if “Christopher” and his siblings were distant cousins to “Kristin” then who was her mother to them and how far back this distance was between them.

     I would really like to see at least one more book be made about this part of the series and explain to family dynamics or to even introduce possible relatives directly related to the Dollanganger siblings. I liked how “Kristin” found a guy who wanted to explore things like this with her and who cared about the same things as her only because of how important it was to her.

     I loved how Ms. Andrews family brought the main series back into play after so many years; I think a lot of older fans of the books and newer fans will enjoy this book and this story. I give Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth a “9” and Ms. Andrews and her family a “10.” 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Tiffany

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney

A forbidden romance literally heats up in this new fantasy from acclaimed author Daisy Whitney.

Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes the chance to get away from her family. But her power is fading too fast to keep stealing from the sky. She has no choice but to turn to a Granter—a modern day genie. She gets one wish at an extremely high price. Aria’s willing to take a chance, but then she falls in love with the Granter . . . and he wants his freedom. Aria must decide what she’s willing to bargain and how much her own heart, body, and soul are worth.

In a world where the sport of elemental powers is the most popular form of entertainment, readers will be swept away by a romance with stakes higher than life and death. 

The Fire Artist was a beautifully and artistically thought out book. It combined pain, romance, and truth to create and astoundingly well-written piece. My first thoughts when I received this book was,"Oh boy, I can't wait to read this!"  As soon as I had opened to the first page, I was already immersed in the story. The author created an emotionally in-depth feeling as I read the story. I felt the pain. I felt the joy. And I felt the passion. The book was amazing. I couldn't put it down.

            The story begins with the main character, Aria, immediately describing to the reader her fire. In Aria's world, certain people are born with the ability to control the elements- earth, air, water, and fire. These people perform for audiences and make lots of money. There are also people who can grant wishes, aka Granters. Aria's parents were both elementalists. Her dad was fire and her mom was water. Her father has forced from a young age to burn her hands in an effort to "make the fire come out". She does not have natural-born fire, so each time he burns her hands, they actually get really burned. He does this everyday for a long time. 

Eventually, Aria becomes fed up with the constant abuse. She promises her bed-ridden mother that she will find her fire and get both her mom and her sister, Jana, out of their father's abusive household. So, Aria gets her best friend, Elise, an air artist, and they head out to steal fire from lightning. Aria's type of fire is illegal and dangerous, and it also burns out over time. Each time she refuels it, it burns away a little of her heart.  Eventually, she gets noticed by the professional league of elementalists and is whisked away to New York. There Aria worries about her fire and desperately tries to find a Granter.  Aria does find a Granter but she has one small problem. She falls in love with him. Now Aria has to decide what she is willing to risk for love.

            This book was well written, but it does have curse words and a few drug references. There is also child abuse and minor violence.  On my "Amazingly Fabulous Book Scale", I would rate this a 9.5 because of emotional depth, plot line, and development of characters. Dare I say it again, I absolutely loved this book! 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Hannah

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Made for You by Melissa Marr

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

Wow!!! This is the first YA romantic thriller I have ever read and I must say it is creepy good. Emphasis on CREEPY!

The alternating point of view gives an intimate look not only inside a demented killers mind but also into the strange new death visions Eva encounters following waking up in the hospital. I loved the slight paranormal twist to this dark and otherwise disturbingly realistic novel of obsession turned deadly. The inner ramblings of "Judge" are chilling as we find out just exactly how crazy he truly is. I also really enjoyed the fact that amongst the suspenseful tale of a murderer was also a rekindling romance to root for. The silver lining I guess you could say. Of course this only drove the killer even more mad but still it added some softness to this captivating whodunit.

I felt slightly "obsessed" while reading Made For You. It's haunting story pulling me in page after page. I was racking my brain trying to figure out who "Judge" was. If you are a fan of intense YA novels with lots of suspense then this is the book for you!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  April

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lost Dogs by Kenton Kilgore

Buddy--a German Shepherd--and Sally--a Beagle/Basset Hound mix--are the beloved pets of Rob and Gennifer Bennett and their young daughter Audrey. Their home is Kent Island, MD: a beautiful, peaceful place, good for raising a family, good for having dogs. 

When unearthly beings strike without warning or mercy against humankind, Buddy and Sally lose the ones they love and the lives they knew. Now they must band together with other "lost dogs" to find food, water, and shelter without their masters. 

But survival is not enough for Buddy: he holds out hope that Rob, Genn, and Audrey live. And that he can find them before inhuman forces ensure that man is never again Earth's master.

fter reading The Dragon Tamer's Daughter, I was really excited to get a hold of Kilgore's newest book.  I loved his writing style and story telling before and was avidly looking forward to more of the same.  Instead of reading the story line, I plunged right in and found myself immediately fascinating with a new Kilgore world once again.

Let me start by saying that I'm not what one would consider a 'dog person.'  I know several of them and while I have no issue with them, I am not the person to look at the picture of the Dachsund in a purse and say 'Awww!'  Dogs are great, but not one of my 'aw' weaknesses.  However, in this book, it made no difference.  The dogs, while clearly depicted as dogs, have been humanized enough to make it easy to empathize and comprehend them.  They still retain their dogginess, down to their descriptions and thought patterns and even language.  

I think if I'd have read the description before I started, I would have considered it a 'dog book' or 'dog sci fi'.  It really isn't though.  It's apocalyptical.  Think Walking Dead meets Watership Down.  We have this wonderful cast of characters who happen to be dogs.  Most of humanity has disappeared and now they're left alone, confused, and in a world that doesn't support them the way it used to.  Not only that, there's such a loss of sense of purpose.  While we're taking the journey with these dogs, we feel the same sense of loss and urgency that they do.  I'll admit that there were several points in the book where I cried my little eyes out.  This is a touching and tormenting tale of an alien invasion from the dogs' point of view.

Kilgore definitely kept me happy with his writing style and storytelling once again.  I found myself unable to tear myself away from the pages.  I was so lost in his world that I felt a bit jolted when I was forced to return to reality.  Once I'd finished, I felt rubbed raw from emotion, but at the same time oddly satisfied.  This is not a 'tie it up in pretty ribbons' book.  Given the situation in the book, there are bound to be some dirty and gritty parts, and it's all a part of the ride. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Shawn

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past. 

 This is one of the best suspense books I have read in quite a while! I read the summary of the story on the back cover and I couldn’t wait to start reading this story. By the 2nd chapter I was instantly hooked on the story and it felt like I couldn’t get enough of the characters and the plot. Before I knew it 3 ½ hours had passed from when I started the book and I was on chapter “Popping.” Another Little Piece is an edge of your seat read that I think anyone; man or woman, would enjoy and love to read! I really like “Annaliese” I felt like she was sure of herself, but at the same time she wasn’t sure of anyone else around her; especially her friends. I felt a little bad for “Annaliese’s” friends, because they were uncertain whether to believe her about her identity or not. By the end of Another Little Piece I was really surprised at the twist; I kept thinking I knew what would or was going to happen and then I would keep reading and I would be proven wrong each time.  

     I love the way Ms. Quinn wrote and put this book together; she made it hard to put the book down from the very beginning. I loved the main character and I especially loved the name she used for that character; “Annaliese” is different and a very pretty name, I like that she used to different name than what a lot of authors use for names. I enjoyed the way each chapter had a poem before it continued with the main part, but I found it a little confusing with the way some of the parts of the book were put together (i.e. Silence is Golden/Two Names/Make It Right.) Those were parts of one chapter and I found it to be that way through the entire novel, I felt that there shouldn’t have been that many sub-sections within the chapters. I’m glad the chapters were short and I found that it was rather easy to get through a lot of chapters fairly fast.  

     Since this is a novel geared more towards teens I think that will help keep them more interested and willing to get through the entire book. I would love to see an entire series based around the “Annaliese” character; I think it would be great to see everything that has happened prior to this story and even a few books on what she does after this one. I highly recommend this novel to men and women, mainly women from ages 15-50! Although this is Ms. Quinn’s first novel I think she is and will continue to be an amazing author and one to watch. I think any other books she writes will be just as good if not better than this one.  I give Another Little Piece and Kate Karyus Quinn a “10.” 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tiffany

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Lodger: A Novel by Louisa Treger

Dorothy Richardson is living the typical life of a working girl in the 19th century.  Living in a boardinghouse, she spends her days working for a dentist and her nights conversing with her fellow boarders.  It is a peaceful, if not dull life.  She does have a chance at excitement, however.  One of her childhood friends invites her to spend the weekend with her and her new husband.   He is a writer who is just coming into his own—H.G. Wells. 
            Dorothy is enchanted with the lifestyle that she sees in the couple.  While her friend seems to be fading into the background as the wife of a volatile man, Bertie (as H.G. Wells is known) captivates Dorothy with his tales of the writer’s life and his appetite for passion. Dorothy falls under Bertie’s influence and, against her better judgment, begins a relationship with him.  Unfortunately, this relationship is built not on love—but on betrayal, misplaced passion (Bertie is a bit of a philanderer).
            Dorothy becomes pregnant and turns down the respectability of a marriage with a fellow boarder.  She also starts a love affair with another boarder, a woman named Veronica.  A passionate advocate for women’s suffrage, Veronica gives Dorothy the love that she cannot get from Bertie.  When Veronica is thrown in jail, Dorothy decides to more fully pursue her desire to write and express herself through her own creative gifts.
            Based on the real life of H.G. Wells and Dorothy Richardson, The Lodger by Louisa Treger, seeks to portray the relationship between the two, the elusiveness of the gift of writing, and the atmosphere of the suffrage movement.  She succeeds in some ways and not in others.  None of these characters are particularly likeable, and the book suffers from a lack of focus (is it about H.G. Wells….or suffrage….or lesbians….or the plight of women…?)  Though I found the characters to be well written, I did not fully connect with any of them.
            The most compelling part of the book is the information about the suffrage movement.  I had no idea that it was so violent and so demeaning to the women who sought a voice in the government.  I wish that this part of the book had been longer and more drawn out, as I found it to be the most compelling.
            The Lodger was an easy read and one that can teach you a few things about an interesting period in history.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina