Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Just For Now

Just for Now (Sea Breeze #4)
Just For Now by Abbi Glines
October 30, 2012
Simon & Schuster
Source: Personal Purchase
Genre: New Adult
Goodreads Summary:
The day Preston Drake figured out that wealthy women paid well for a set of tight abs and a pretty face his life turned around.

The run down rat-infested trailer he had shared with his alcoholic mother and three younger siblings was now only a place he visited to pay the bills and stock the pantry with food.

He no longer worried about his family starving or living without electricity. The money he made entertaining rich older women more than covered his family’s needs and his own. He had it all figured out. Except…

There was this girl.

She was as innocent as he was tainted.

Amanda Hardy wished her knees didn’t get weak when Preston walked into a room. She hated the fact her heart raced when he flashed his smile in her direction. He had a different girl in his bed every night. He was the kind of boy a smart girl ran from. So, why was she coming up with ways to get close to him? Even when it was obvious he wanted to keep her at a distance.

Maybe her heart knew something the world didn’t. Maybe Preston Drake was more than just a pretty face.
My Review:

If you are not familiar with Abbi Glines' Sea Breeze series, this is the fourth book. It's not necessary to have read the previous books in order to read this one. Each book focuses on a couple of characters, and the previous ones make appearances. But I've read all the books in order, and I'd say reading them in order definitely gives you even more perspective on this group of friends. The other books are: Breathe, Because of Low, and While It Lasts.

Just for Now follows Preston and Amanda's story, both of whom made appearances in the previous books. I've read all of Abbi Glines' books, and I'd say this is the most intense of them all. Preston's story has so much more depth. It's actually quite heart-breaking and I spent most of the book feeling sad and depressed. Preston is described as a total playboy in the other books, and here we get to understand why that perception is there. What we didn't know from the previous glimpses in the other books is how much responsibility he has for his family and how the choices he's made in his life are starting to to have repercussions.

Amanda is as sweet in this book as she has been as Marcus' sister and Sadie's best friend in the other books. She is also relentless in her feelings toward Preston. But even as she is hurt over and over again, she doesn't lose the kindness of her character. I appreciate that about her. Perhaps she's naive. But she's trying to see Preston for who he is deep inside, the person he's been hiding, and not just the persona he hides behind. She sees that Preston is more than just a pretty face and hot body. He has kindness and compassion, when he's not trying to push her away with his hurtful words. I love that he starts to let her in where he hasn't even let his best friends. Amanda also isn't shy about trying to remove the barriers he puts up. But she doesn't know all his secrets...yet.

Preston and Amanda had no shortage of chemistry and love between them, even when they were in denial. I really liked how sweet they were together when their barriers were dropped (and Preston wasn't acting like a jerk). There is a lot going on in the storyline beyond just Preston and Amanda falling in love. All our favorite friends make appearances in the book as well. I like that even after throwing punches this group of friends gets behind each other, looks out for each other, and forgives each other. Rock is especially awesome in this book (a true friend to Preston). Marcus plays a great role as Amanda's overprotective big brother, but also as Preston's best friend. And I couldn't help but love Preston's siblings, and his and Amanda's interactions with them (you'd have to be crazy not to).

I can't say I was smiling a lot while reading. Actually, the whole prologue bummed me out and set the pace for me. I think my heart hurt too much over Preston and Amanda's (mostly Preston's) circumstances throughout the book. But I had a very hard time putting the book down. I finished it the day it came out. I not only fell in love with Preston and Amanda, but with their group of friends all over again. I was cheering for a happy ending and holding out for hope that all was not lost. Abbi Glines delivers a heart-breaking yet hopeful story of love, friendship, and forgiveness, with steamy sex scenes to boot.


*Personal note: This book includes some graphic adult scenes and situations. I'm married and feel comfortable reading this. If I weren't married, I wouldn't, but that's just my personal feeling.

"Waiting on" Wednesday (2): Stolen Nights

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I'm going to be honest. I read Infinite Days what feels like forever ago. The publication date for Stolen Nights kept being pushed back and I was worried it would never happen. But it is happening! Yay! I really enjoyed Infinite Days and look forward to delving back into the vampire world Maizel created.

Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen #2)
by Rebecca Maizel
Publication Date: January 29, 2013

Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen, #2)
From Goodreads:
Lenah Beaudonte should be dead. But having sacrificed herself to save another, she finds herself awakening with strange powers that are neither vampire nor human—and a new enemy on her trail. In her vampire life, Lenah had thought that being human was all she ever wanted; but the human heart suffers pain, heartbreak and loss.

With her new powers growing and the dark force of the Nex after her soul, Lenah faces a choice: between the mortal love of gorgeous Justin, whose passion fed her human soul, and taking a different path to become the mistress of her own destiny, wherever that may lead...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (2): Rebel Heart

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
This teaser comes from Rebel Heart by Moira Young, which came out today. You can see my review here.

Oh no, she says. I can see her in yer face, Jack. I can see her in yer eyes.
(from page 22 of the ARC)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In My Mailbox & Stacking the Shelves (2)


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox - books bought, borrowed, received - and get to know other blogs.


Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Finale (Hush, Hush, #4)    Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4)    The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)    The Future of Us

With so many great new releases this past week, it was hard to resist buying at least a few of them. Finale, Beautiful Redemption and The Evolution of Mara Dyer all came out on October 23rd. I read Finale right away (see my review here). I'd already read the ARC of The Evolution of Mara Dyer (see my review here) but loved it so much I need the hardcover. I attended the book launch of Beautiful Redemption (see post here) and am very excited to finish reading this series before the Beautiful Creatures movie comes out. I also frequent our local used bookstores & found a beautiful copy of The Future of Us for a bargain.

That Boy (That Boy, #1)That Wedding (That Boy, #2)            If I Let You Go   Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1)      The Secret of Ella and Micha (The Secret, #1) Saving Grace 

I'm also a sucker for cheap ebooks with good reviews, so theseare a few of the ones I grabbed this week. I've had That Boy and That Wedding on my wish list for a while because of all the great reviews. The price went down this week, so I decided to get both of them. The Secret of Ella & Micha also has many great reviews, and at 99 cents, I had to grab it.

Are you a sucker for cheap ebooks, too? Do you love used bookstores like I do?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: Thomas & January

Thomas & January (Sleepless, #2)
Thomas & January by Fisher Amelie
June 15, 2012
254 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Goodreads Summary:
Thomas Eriksson thinks he has it all figured out.

"People crossed the street when they saw me. I’m not really sure why that was. I mean, okay, I might have looked a bit intimidating if I was being truthful with you. I’d changed since New York. New York represented a life that wasn’t real, not truthfully, anyway. No, New York was the “young, immature, in love, idiot" side of Tom. The “Tie-Dye Tom of New York City” didn’t exist anymore. Tie-Dye Tom was dead."
January Mac Lochlainn thinks she’s her own worst enemy.

"I quit Berkeley. Threw away a full scholarship. Plans, you ask? What plans?"

But they’re both wrong.

Tom approached me slowly and met me under the light on the stone walkway. He leaned over me so closely, my neck craned to see his face. His expression was one of confusion as he studied my own.

“What is it about you?” he asked me.

I gulped. “What do you mean?” I whispered, closing my eyes and swallowing again, my breaths becoming labored.
He lifted his hand and dragged the backs of his fingers across my jaw so lightly I barely felt them, but they made me feel dizzy all the same.

“How can you be this extraordinary, January MacLochlainn?” He leaned closer, a look of pure frustration and anger lit his eyes and pressed his lips. “And why couldn’t I have met you before I realized I didn’t want anyone...ever?”

Life for Thomas and January will never be the same again...whether they like it or not.
My Review:

After reading Callum & Harper (see my review here), I immediately grabbed Thomas & January. Thomas was introduced in C&H as Tie-Dye Tom and I simply needed to know the rest of his story, especially with the little nugget of info we had on him in C&H and the glimpse of his feelings at the end of the book. Thomas and January were such great characters to read about. Tom in particular had a lot of "baggage" he needed to deal with. I loved their interactions with each other, the bantering and the tender moments. This didn't have the same intensity of drama that C&H had, but that was okay with me because C&H were trying to give me a heart-attack! T&J had their own drama issues, and I enjoyed watching them work through it (or at least try, sometimes poorly). It was also so great to see the rest of the gang in this book, especially C&H. And I loved the ending and Thomas' integrity. We need more books like this. This will be a book I will reread. Oh, and I'm happy to say that the editing was much improved from C&H.

I'm looking forward to more books in this series, because these are characters I want to read about over and over again. There are so many friends in this group, and I want a book about every single one of them. Seriously, you'll fall in love with all of them.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Callum & Harper

Callum & Harper
Callum & Harper by Fisher Amelie
December 22, 2011
380 pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Goodreads Summary:
Life sucks for orphans Callum Tate and Harper Bailey.

Kicked out of their foster homes because they suffer the 'eighteen disease' with nothing but a hundred dollar check from the government and a pat on the back, they're forced to rely on a system that failed them miserably.

So they sit. They sit inside Social Services, waiting for their social workers to call their names and offer them the miracle they know will never come but they sit anyway because they have nowhere else to go, no other options on their very literal and figurative empty plates.

But as they sit, they notice the other. Although captivated, they each come to the conclusion that life is complicated enough without throwing in a boiling tension that can't ever be acted upon because they're both too busy thinking about where their next meal will come from but when their names are called and both are placed on a year long waiting list for permanent housing, suddenly relying on each other seems like a very viable plan B.

And, oh, how lovely Plan B's can be.

Well, except for the psycho from Harper's past that haunts her and, oh, yeah, there's the little issue that neither of them knows they're in love with the other.

Needless to say, Callum & Harper's life just got a bit more complicated.
“One day, you and I are gonna’ wake up and be alright. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day. One day. I promise you.” - Callum Tate

This is such a great story about Callum and Harper. Their story is heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time. Having no physical family, and being fresh out of the foster care system, they become family to each other. They are both beautiful characters and I couldn't help but fall in love with them (and you'll swoon for Callum). I loved the story, though I certainly wanted to shake them at times out of sheer frustration. Their insecurities and assumptions hindered them and made things way more difficult than it needed to be. I also loved their commitment to each other and their unconditional love. Their integrity in their physical relationship was refreshing. It was a beautiful thing.
Their group of friends are lovely as well. There are some real gems of characters in there. You can see how they've created a family for each other. Fisher said she'll be writing books about all the characters, and I really, really hope that is true because I love them all. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story (even the crazy parts that I won't spoil) and have been thinking about C&H ever since. This is definite reread material.

The writing wasn't perfect and I found the verb tense changes distracting at times (could use a re-editing), but I was able to modify them in my head and work through it because I really liked Callum and Harper. I look forward to Thomas and January :)

(4 1/2 with the editing issues)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Review: Alice in Zombieland

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
September 25. 2012
Harlequin Teen
404 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Goodreads Summary: 
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.

My Review:
I'm a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, so this book completely appealed to me. But I was wise enough to not expect a simple replacement of, say, the card army to become zombies. That would have been way too boring. On the other hand, this book really had very little to do with AiW aside from the MC's name, Kat her quirky friend, and the white rabbit clouds. So if you're looking for a re-written version of AiW with zombies plugged in, this isn't the book for you.

But that's not what I was looking for, so I was quite pleased with this book. I appreciated how Ali (aka Alice) had to deal with so much heartache in the beginning (and throughout) the book. This isn't a HEA book, at least so far. I like that Ali doesn't let people push her around and gets excited about finding a purpose for her life. I worried at different points in the story that she would become like so many YA heroines and jump in bed with a guy she barely knew (seriously, why do they do that?). I liked her choices in this book and hope she can maintain her composure in the future.

Kat was a GREAT character and she definitely was the spark the book needed. Without her it would have definitely been taken down a notch. She has spunk, and quirk, and yet had a sad side to her that we get to know. I love her loyalty and her advice to Ali.

Cole is the tough guy whom the entire school fears, but who is also a softy when it comes to those he cares about. I like that at 16 he has a huge amount of responsibility and yet he never complains or shirks it. He knows his purpose and doesn't apologize for it. And his group of guys and gals are a unique family in themselves. Shows you can't judge a book by its cover. But I'm also glad that he loosened up enough for him and Ali to finally figure out how to communicate with each other (it's about time!).

I also liked Gena's take on zombies and their spirit forms. I admit I haven't read a lot of zombie books, so I don't know what other "takes" are out there, but I liked this one. I'm interested to see how much further she'll take it in the upcoming book(s). Because, yes, this was a great book. And, yes, I will definitely want to grab the next one when it comes out!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Waiting on" Wednesday (1): Sapphire Blue

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I really liked Ruby Red and have been eager to continue this time-traveling series from Germany. If only I knew how to read German, I could have finished the trilogy by now. Ah, well. Just have to wait for the translator, I guess.
Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red #2)
by Kersten Gier
Publication date: October 30
Sapphire Blue (The Ruby Red Trilogy, #2)

From Amazon:

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Signing: Beautiful Redemption

It's release day for Beautiful Redemption! I had the pleasure of attending their book signing tonight (along with my kids who behaved beautifully, thank goodness). The fabulous authors, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, were there, and entertaining as always. We were also treated with two of the actors from the upcoming Beautiful Creatures movie: Alden Ehrenreich who plays Ethan Wate and Rachel Brosnahan who plays Genevieve Duchannes.

Kami, Rachel, Margaret, and Alden
This is the last book of the Caster Chronicles, so it is bittersweet. But I am also very excited to see how it all ends. I've read the first two books and really liked them. I am also a sucker for a good male POV, and Ethan is terrific. I had been holding out on reading the third book until Beautiful Redemption came out. But now I really just want to reread the first two and then read the whole series straight through, fully engrossing myself in the Caster world and the South. So that is my plan before the movie comes out.

The movie comes out on February 13, 2013. Yay!!!!
Speaking of the movie...I was already excited about the movie, but listening to Kami and Margie speak and then to hear the actors and their zeal...well, I am super-duper excited now. Pictures on the internet don't always translate to what someone is like in person. But seeing and listening to Alden makes me happy about their choice for him as Ethan. He's a cutie and I'm very excited for his role as Ethan. My 12 year old son, who loves book signings, asked if he could read Beautiful Creatures. He's used to listening to a lot of female authors at most of our signings. So when he heard Alden talking about his role as Ethan and his take on the book and movie, my son was all onboard for reading the book (and then, of course, he wants to see the movie).

Run out and grab your copy of Beautiful Redemption and get ready for the Beautiful Creatures movie!

Book Review: The Death Cure

The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3)
The Death Cure by James Dashner
October 11, 2011
Delacorte Books
325 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Goodreads Summary:
Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?
My Review:

Well, I really liked this series. A lot. The last book was just as suspenseful as the other two. I loved the short chapters, yet was amazed how every one still felt like a mini-cliffhanger. I had a hard time putting the book down. I continued to love Thomas, Newt, and Minho. I felt their frustration and hurt for them in their heartbreak. I wanted to whisk them away to a HEA and wished some of the things they went through I could change. I had mixed feeling about Teresa and Brenda. I guess Thomas' feelings of betrayal by Teresa were greater than Brenda's because of the length of their relationship. Brenda was on Thomas' side more, I guess. But then there were the twists to the story that made me go "Hmm." I felt bad for Teresa but I also liked Brenda. Oh the dilemmas.

I don't want to give any details away. So I'll just say that I really appreciated all the twists and turns of The Death Cure. I liked that not all of our questions are answered. But I also felt like some things seemed a bit contradictory and didn't make sense, perhaps some plot holes, hence why I have a slightly lower rating than the previous books. But I liked the ending even though I don't feel like it was wrapped up with a bow. That's okay. That's life. The characters will still have to deal with the emotional (and physical) consequences of what they went through with WICKED and each other in the future. And I wonder if that little twist at  the end will ever be revealed. Another "Hmm" moment. So the question remains: Is WICKED good? You'll have to decide for yourself.

4 1/2 STARS

Teaser Tuesday (1): Alice in Zombieland

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)

This teaser comes from Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter, which I am loving.

I couldn't help myself. I looked, too. What I saw shook me to my soul. I wasn't the only one who'd gotten a death glare today. Cole was watching Justin as if he meant to flay the skin from his bones, throw it down and play "Dance Dance Revolution" on it.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Signing: James Dashner

My boys and I with James Dashner!
My boys and I had a great time at James Dashner's book signing. He is part of a new series by Scholastic that just came out called The Infinity Ring. It'll be seven books, and he's writing the first and last. The first book, A Mutiny in Time, is already on bookshelves. The series sounds pretty cool, and I think my boys and I will enjoy it.

And don't forget the amazing The Maze Runner series that Mr. Dashner wrote. I haven't read The Kill Order yet, but I loved the other books and hope to read the prequel soon. My review for The Scorch Trials is here. My review for The Death Cure is here.

I loved attending book signings, especially with my eldest son, so you can look forward to more of these posts in the future.

Book Review: Rebel Heart

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
Rebel Heart by Moira Young
October 30, 2012
McElderry Books
432 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Goodreads Summary:
It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion. 
My Review:

I loved Blood Red Road when I read it. I loved the rawness, determination, even the immaturity of Saba as she took her physical and emotional journey to save her brother Lugh. I guess I thought she'd have grown a bit by now, but in Rebel Heart, Saba is in even deeper with her emotional train wreck. The first half of the book spends a large part focused on Saba's PTSD (for lack of a better comparison) for what she did in BRR. I appreciate that she wasn't a cold-hearted girl who could get over death so easily. I think that's realistic. Unfortunately, Lugh had his own issues right alongside Saba, but the two hard heads were more harmful then helpful to each other. The two of them and their issues were a bit grating at times.

The second half is another journey to find someone and try not to get everyone killed. But at least we meet some more new characters and are re-introduced to some old ones. The secondary characters certainly help round out the novel. Then Saba's in the thick of things, making rash decisions, and making more of a mess of things. Really, she was a hot mess. And the last quarter of the book had surprises, twists, and did-that-really-just-happen and I-can't-wait-to-see-where-this-goes-in-the-next-book moments. While I enjoyed this book, it wasn't at the BRR level I'd been expecting. But for a middle book in a trilogy, it did bring much more to the storyline and was not just a filler book. I don't even know what to expect with the last book as far as how the story will end, and who will survive, but I will certainly be reading it.

Character Breakdown:

Saba: Hot mess of emotions, made rash decisions, was in denial of what she was going through which just perpetuated all her problems, a bit of an emotional train wreck at times. And toward the end there...some careless/thoughtless decisions that surprised me. If she doesn't regret now, she may regret later. But who knows? I'm really curious where Ms. Young will take Saba next. Hopefully she'll finally get her head straight, grow up, and be the warrior she needs to be.

Lugh: I seriously wanted to punch him in the face several times. If he were my brother, I probably would have. I don't know what happened at Freedom Fields, but I want to know. He's certainly not the child of light his mama spoke of. But he also had a few nice moments. And then later I felt sad for him.

Tommo: Poor guy. Now this kid just can't catch a break. I really like him and hope he gets a happy ending. But I'm very worried about him and what he's going to do in the last book.

Emmi: Thank goodness for Emmi. She's the shining star in this mess of traveling companions.

Jack: Loved the opening with Jack. When Jack was actually in the book, he was great. But sadly he's just not in it enough. But I still love the guy. I really hope he's in the last book lots and lots.

DeMalo: I really don't know what to say about him. He's a bit of a conflict of interest for me. I don't want to like him because he's supposed to be the bad guy. But there's something about him that makes you want to like him. He's a very intriguing character that I can't help but want to know more about.

Nero, Hermes, & Tracker: Best travel companions. These books are all the better with this trio in it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In My Mailbox & Stacking the Shelves (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox - books bought, borrowed, received - and get to know other blogs.


Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
I don't normally get this many books, but the last two weeks felt like Christmas. With a couple of ARCs in the mail and some discount coupons to spend, I couldn't pass up these books (and ebooks).
Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)   Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
Blood Red Road (paperback) by Moira Young
Rebel Heart (ARC) by Moira Young
Blood Red Road was one of my favorite reads of 2011. Rebel Heart was one of my most anticipated reads for this year. Aren't the covers beautiful next to each other? I will be posting my review very soon.
The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)   Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy, #1)

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (ARC) by Michelle Hodkin
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was another of my favorite reads of 2011. Evolution was amazing (see my REVIEW HERE). Sweet Evil has been highly recommended by friends, and my Starbooks friend Kim let me borrow her copy. Looking forward to reading it!
Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)   Flesh and Bone (Benny Imura, #3)
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Flesh & Bone by Jonathan Maberry
Being the huge Alice in Wonderland fan that I am, I couldn't pass up Alice in Zombieland. I'm excited! I also plan to start the Rot & Ruin series soon (hopefully). Flesh & Bone is the third book.
Toxic (Denazen, #2)   Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2)

Toxic by Jus Accardo
Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
Touch was a great read last year, so I used my teacher discount a grabbed a copy of Toxic this week. I read both Slammed and Point of Retreat at the beginning of the year and LOVED them! I have them on my kindle. Then I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of Slammed from Ms. Hoover herself. Well, it looked so sad on my bookshelf without it's friend, so I had to grab a copy of PoR so they could be reunited.

 Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)   The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)
Throne of Glass by Sarah L. Maas
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
I've heard so many great things about Throne of Glass, and it was such a great deal on Amazon (check out the link), so I had to grab a copy. I loved the Iron Fey series, so of course The Immortal Rules by Ms. Kagawa must be read.
 A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1)
The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner
I am currently finishing The Maze Runner series, which is awesome. Mr. Dashner will be (somewhat) in our area for a book signing this week for this newest book of his, and the start of this new series The Infinity Ring. Well, I grabbed a copy, because I'm sure my boys will love it and I can't wait for us to meet him.
I got a few ebooks as well...
A Very Important Guest by Mary Whitney - see my REVIEW HERE
The Modified by C.A. Kunz
So Totally by Gwen Hayes

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
October 23, 2012
Simon & Schuster
544 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Goodreads Summary:
Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

My Review:

First, I'm glad I reread Unbecoming before starting this one. It had been months and the refresher was perfect, because there is so much that is going on and I wanted to be able to dwell on and enjoy every morsel. There's a reason this series is among my favorites.

Now, I want to say that this is a great book. By the end, I was like "WOW!" It wasn't a quick read for me. So much is going on and I felt like I needed to absorb it in increments. There's just so much happening. It's such a psychological journey, and you don't know which way is up at times. But it kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing. While I figured out some stuff, much of the other stuff took me completely by surprise. Plus, there were so many situations occurring that added so much to the story, that I would have never thought about adding.

Mara is a great character because I could completely see where she battled knowing whether she was in reality or not. She tried to be strong, but she just had every single obstacle against her. But then there was Noah, who believed in her. Noah was dedicated and attentive, yet held a certain aloofness. I liked how the author brought the deeper things about Noah out gradually. But even in his mysteriousness, he was such a noble guy. I loved their relationship. Seriously, you really would have to be crazy not to love Noah! I was also so happy to be reunited with the gem that is Jamie.

Michelle Hodkin did an amazing job blending the real with the crazy, the memories with the paranormal. And the ending was amazing, leaving me wanting more and very excited where the last book will take us (I mean, will take Mara).


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: A Very Important Guest (novella)

A Very Important Guest - A Novella
A Very Important Guest by Mary Whitney
September 26, 2012
Kindle Edition
43 pages
Source: borrowed via Amazon Prime

Goodreads Summary: 
Abby Flaherty has a lousy job, but it’s the perfect one for her. Housekeeping in a luxury Waikiki hotel is a refuge from her troubles. Once a carefree and spirited island girl, Abby has had to deal with responsibilities and grim circumstances beyond her years. But when a V.I.P. guest discovers there’s more to Abby than her uniform and cleaning cart, the glow of romance begins to brighten her life in ways she’s not sure she can trust—or live without.

Set against a backdrop of pristine beaches and starlit skies, this intriguing short story delivers political banter, poignant realism, and delicious romance, all sparked by the visit of A Very Important Guest.

My Review:

This was a  very sweet read and just what I needed. It's a novella, so it's short in length. Yet, somehow, the author was able to deliver a depth to each of the characters. Plus, they're in Hawaii, so you can imagine the beauty of where they meet. They fall for each other quickly, yet it feels completely possible (or maybe I'm just a romantic at heart). Will and Abby are compelling, yet not over the top. I loved their banter and that they engage each other in a meaningful way. I really hope the ending wasn't a tease and that we will see more of them in the future. If you are looking for a quick, sweet read, this is one for you.

4 1/2 STARS

*Personal note: This book has some adult content and situations, though not graphic. I'm married and feel comfortable reading this. If I weren't married, I wouldn't, but that's just my personal feeling.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
October 12, 2010
Delacorte Books for Young People
360 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Goodreads Summary:

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

My Review:
I admit it. I loved The Maze Runner. I was completely caught up in the craziness and the suspense of those kids being in the Glade and the Maze, and what the heck was going on. So I was very excited to start The Scorch Trials, because I had to know what whacked-out trial they were going to face next. Well, Mr. Dashner did not disappoint me.
The Scorch Trials picks up right where The Maze Runner left off. There is no reprieve for these kids. They are not safe, as they had hoped. The Glade isn't looking so bad anymore. The term "trial" seems like an understatement for all that they go through. Each chapter grows in suspense and danger, as well as confusion. It's like a long riddle, or puzzle, and we don't have all the pieces yet. I felt the frustration of the surviving Gladers, but also their extreme desire to conquer this trial, make it to the end, and hold onto that bit of hope that they just need to get through this. There is a reason that these guys survived the maze. There are no wimps here. I can't help but admire the determination and humanity of these boys (and girls).
I like Thomas as the main protagonist. He is emotional, yet cool-headed; a leader, yet a follower; a survivor, yet compassionate; loyal, yet focused. I also like his relationship with Minho and Newt. They are loyal to each other and have each other's backs, yet aren't going to get all weepy about it. If someone needs to have a cry, they do it, get it over with, then move on and do what needs to be done. Again, there's a reason these guys are leading the way.
The ending, of course, was crazy and confusing. Yet, my confusion is not in frustration. I appreciate the mental effort it's taking to try and figure out the truth. I don't know who to trust and can hardly anticipate what will happen next. Truly looking forward to The Death Cure.