Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review: Find You In The Dark

Find You in the Dark (Find You in the Dark, #1)
Find You in the Dark by A. Meredith Walters
October 10, 2012
290 pages
Source: personal ebook purchase
Genre: New Adult
(strong language and mature sexual content)
Goodreads Summary:

Maggie Young had the market on normal. Normal friends, normal parents, normal grades...normal life.

Until him.

Clayton Reed was running from his past and an army of personal demons that threatened to take him down. He never thought he had a chance at happiness.

Until her.

Maggie thought their love could overcome anything. Clay thought she was all he needed to fix his messy life.

That together, they could face the world.

But the darkness is always waiting.

Sometimes the greatest obstacle to true love is within yourself.

My Review:

This book really touched me. I loved the author taking on the subject of mental health. Maggie's voice felt very real for a 17 year old. I remember being her age and having to deal with and think about subjects beyond my maturity level and capability to handle. I also remember having completely irrational emotions and reactions to things, so I felt I could relate to Maggie despite her situation being beyond what I dealt with. Her approach to Clay's "issues" and conflicting feelings on how to handle the situations were honest and truthful, though obviously misguided. I liked how the author made me feel like I was in Maggie's head, going through her emotions, fluctuating between logic and reason in one moment, then emotion and wild feelings in the next.

I couldn't help but want to root for Clay and Maggie and their tender love, but also recognized the destructive path they were walking, fearing for what would happen next. Like Maggie, I loved Clay, with his exhilarating highs and exhausting lows. I ached for him to heal and be the 'normal' guy he so desperately wanted to be. I, too, wished Maggie could save him, but knew he needed so very much more, and that love just wasn't enough. I felt like I was at the edge of my seat, completely drawn into their heartbreaking story, watching a train wreck and unable to stop it. I also appreciated that Maggie finally had to face the reality of the situation and stop living in denial about her relationship with Clay and the truth of his 'issues.' Bravo for Ms. Walters' bravery in taking on this dark subject head-on, making us fall in love with these characters, and want to be more empathetic and less judgmental of those suffering around us. 

The only downside for me was that despite these being 17 year olds, this book must be dubbed 'New Adult' due to its more graphic and mature sex scenes. If those scenes had been scaled down and some removed, I would have loved to dub this a 'Young Adult' book. I think the subject matter of mental health is a worthy topic for high school students to tackle and learn about, but some of these scenes felt just a bit too much. Perhaps the author could write a more censored version, maintaining the integrity of the topic, just with more editing and filtering of the sexuality (as those scenes definitely read more as adult romance literature, particularly with the mature word choices used), and broaden her audience. Just a suggestion.

4-1/2 STARS

Friday, March 8, 2013

Feature & Follow (14): Opposing View

FF 2012 Feature & Follow #120

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by both Alison Can Read and Parakunkee’s View. This is a great way to gain blog followers for book bloggers, follow other blogs, and get to know each other. Each week a different question is posted by our hosts and we get to answer. You can find more info about this meme here.
Q: What is a book you didn't like that all your friends raved about?
The first book that comes to mind that I didn't like was Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. Overall I just didn't care for it or the characters or the story. I also didn't care much for That Boy by Jillian Dodd, and could only get through half of That Wedding before I finally gave up. And I also did not love Dare You To by Katie McGarry, which isn't out yet, but I read the ARC and am still pondering my so-so review of it (although it's too soon to tell if I'll be in the minority or not). Oh well, can't win them all.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Hooked

Hooked (Hooked, #1)
Hooked by Liz Fichera
January 29, 2013
Harlequin Teen
368 pages
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Genre: Young Adult
Goodreads Summary:
When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...


My Review:
To me, Hooked is so much more than just a love story. This book touches themes of racism, prejudice, forgiveness, grudges, depression, addiction, child abuse, cowardice, trust, honesty, etc. We have Fred, the Native American girl who joins the boys' golf team, hoping this will become a great opportunity for her and her future. Then we have Ryan, whose friend gets kicked off of the golf team to allow Fred to have a space. Both Fred and Ryan have secrets and problems behind the people they appear to be at school. These characters have to grow in many ways, and I appreciated the journey the author takes us on, watching their characters develop, not only together, but as individuals.
Ryan really had to grow out of the rut he'd created for himself, and determine how he wanted to live his life. Ryan was pretty cowardly throughout the book. He would take two steps toward breaking out of his mold, and then two steps back, giving up and not fighting for what was right. I appreciate that he finally saw that he needed help, even if his choices may not have been the best, he realized that he needed to change. Fred said it best when she told Ryan that he needed "to wake up." Fred was Ryan's wake up call to his life. Fred, on the other hand, needed to heed her father's advice in the beginning of the book to "greet (new beginnings) with your eyes wide open." I liked watching her grow into herself throughout the book and stop hiding in the shadows. I appreciated the quiet strength of Fred's character, as well as her special bonds with some of her family members, as well as the Native American community.
I also liked the integration of the secondary characters. For instance, Seth, Ryan's best friend, is the type of character that shows you how child abuse can potentially affect the child. Perhaps Seth would have still had his prejudices toward Native Americans due to his father's death, but the abuse he suffered from his stepfather was the most damaging, and one would think it affected how he handled the situations in his life. Seth was frustrating because he was just so wrong and misguided, and then crazy and mean. But the other part of me wanted someone to help him, guide him, and pull him out of his hole; stand up to him. I appreciated the author bringing Seth's character and his issues into the story.
I really wish this book had a different cover, though. The original cover leads you to think this is a romance book, when it really isn't. Sure, there are some sweet scenes, but they aren't graphic, and they remain YA (young adult) appropriate. This covers looks more NA (new adult), which it is not. I liked the fairly clean content of the book, especially compared to some other YA books out there, and wish the cover would be more reflective of that. This cover may cause those who don't want sexual content to avoid the book, and that would be too bad for them. And those looking for sexual content because of the cover will be disappointed and may diminish their rating of the book because they felt misled. Both these scenarios would be unfortunate.
Bottomline: This book quickly pulled me in with its unconventional storyline of a girl golfer on a boys team, intermixed with racism and other undertones of abuse. There are also exciting story elements that I was not expecting. Plus, there's a sweet romance and great character development. I definitely enjoyed this book.
4-1/2 STARS

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (12): Series To Start

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
For more information and a list of past and future topics, go here.
Top Ten Series I'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet
(The sad thing is that I own these & haven't started them yet...but hopefully soon!)
Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry
Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness
The Demon Trapper's series by Jana Oliver
Everneat series by Brodi Ashton
Evernight series by Claudia Gray
Rot and Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)   The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)   The Demon Trapper's Daughter (The Demon Trappers #1)
Everneath (Everneath, #1)   Evernight (Evernight, #1)
Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson
The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
Lumatere Chronicles series by Melina Marchetta
Matched series by Ally Condie
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)   I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls, #1)   Leviathan (Leviathan, #1)
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)   Matched (Matched, #1)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Tour & Review: Wounded

Wounded by Jasinda Wilder
December 16, 2012
277 pages
Source: Review copy for honest review
Genre: Adult Romance
Contains: sexual situations including rape and prostitution, war situations
Goodreads Summary:
War has taken everything from me. My family. My home. My innocence. In a country blasted by war and wracked by economic hardship, a young orphan girl like me has very few options when it comes to survival. Thus, I do what I must to live, to eat, and I try very hard to not consider the cost to my soul. My heart is empty, and my existence brutal.

The one impossibility in my life is love.

And then I meet HIM.

War is hell. It takes a chunk out of a man's very soul to do the kinds of things war demands of you. You live with fear, you live with guilt, and you live with nightmares. If you haven't been through it, there's no understanding it. War leaves no room for love, no room for tenderness or softness. You gotta be hard, closed off, and ready to fight every moment of every day. Lose focus for a split second, and you're dead. 
Now the only thing that can save me is HER.
My Review:

This is the touching story of Rania, a woman surviving the only way she can in war-torn Iraq, and Hunter, an American soldier who is injured in combat. They are two perfect strangers who couldn't even speak each other's languages, enemies according to their countries, and two people who should be horrified by the other for what their lives represent, and yet despite these odds, a chance meeting and circumstances bring them together as unlikely allies. The story that follows is truly touching in so many ways.  I was intrigued by the blurb, and once I started reading I didn't want to put this book down. I became completely captivated and read it in a day.

Ms. Wilder's characters felt so real and were developed so well. Her depictions of Rania and Hunter's backgrounds and current circumstances gripped me from the very start. My heart felt like it was in my hand the entire time. Their story was emotional and touching, particularly with respect to Rania's situation. The timeline of her life is just heart-breaking, yet she is such an incredible and brave survivor. Ms. Wilder did not shy away from her depictions of war and prostitution, yet still handled Rania's life and actions with respect to her as a person, not an object. Hunter also captured my heart with his ability to see beyond the surface and see the truth, his fierce protectiveness and strength, and also his beautiful gentle and soft side. In the midst of the war, I loved the humanity that Ms. Wilder displayed from both Rania and Hunter despite the brutality of their lives. Like me, you will be rooting for Rania and Hunter.

The pacing was great. There never seemed to be a dull moment or lag in the story. Despite what feels like a short period of time, the relationship development between Rania and Hunter felt honest and genuine, not rushed. There was also a great intensity about the storyline, not only with the anticipation of what would happen with Rania and Hunter, but even more so with their surroundings. The war, the people, the abuse - they all felt present in the story even when they weren't necessarily "present." Ms. Wilder made me feel like I was in the middle of it all. I even liked how her sentence structure seemed to change depending of what was going on - for example, it was choppier during battle scenes which helped speed up the tempo making the reader feel the intensity of the scene.

There was no shortage of romance, more so in the second half of the book. I will not go into detail, but the scenes were steamy in one moment yet tender in another. It really touched me how the author went about their relationship. What I also appreciated was how Ms. Wilder displayed the sharp contrast between sex and love-making, especially when you take into account Rania's life. I also loved the evidence of Hunter's tender treatment of Rania.

Bottomline: I loved this book. It is well-written with excellent pacing, covering sensitive and troubling topics, but with respect not sensationalism. I loved Rania and Hunter. The characters are beautifully developed and captivated my heart. If you want to read about a couple fighting against the odds of incredible circumstances, then I'd encourage you to take a chance on Wounded.

Find WOUNDED at these Links:

Author Links:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In My Mailbox (16)

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.
These are my goodies over the last few weeks, as my weekends have been too busy to post recently. I was especially excited to get my books from Fisher Amelie in the mail. She is such a sweetie and I love her books (and she signed them!)
 Vain   Callum & Harper (Sleepless, #1)   Thomas & January (Sleepless, #2)
Vain by Fisher Amelie (Signed!) - see my review
Callum & Harper by Fisher Amelie (Signed!) - see my review
Thomas & January by Fisher Amelie (Signed!) - see my review
 Recalled (Death Escorts, #1)   The Archived (The Archived, #1)
Bared to You (Crossfire, #1)   Reflected in You (Crossfire, #2)
Recalled by Cambria Hebert (Signed!) - see my review
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
 Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)
Mind Games by Kiersten White (ARC)
For Review:
 Wounded   Dear Cassie
Wounded by Jacinda Wilder
Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein
Used Book Find:
 Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely, #3)
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
For My Kindle:
 Love and Skate   The Sweet Gum Tree   600 Hours of Edward
Love and Skate by Lila Felix
The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred
600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Our first poster is now available at the DFTBA store!
 After spending most of the week sick in bed (or on the couch), reading has not been a priority. I just didn't have the capacity to concentrate and didn't want to do a disservice to any books I attempted to read. So what's a girl to do when she wants to have a book mindset but doesn't want to actually read? Solution...The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

I'd heard of these briefly before but hadn't had the time to look them up more thoroughly. With some extra time on my hands I discovered this amazing gem and had a two day marathon catching up on Lizzie's Vlog posts (yep, all 91 posts, at the time I finished). I still need to delve into the side videos. But I can honestly say that I loved watching these little videos and obviously got a bit addicted (and that's not the cold medicine talking). On average the videos are about 5 minutes long, so you can watch one or a few (or a lot) at a time.

Episode 1: My Name is Lizzie Bennet

Lizzie Bennet introduces her first video diary entry. Introducing herself, her traditional mother (Mrs. Bennet), her father (Mr. Bennet),  her best friend Charlotte Lu, and her ‘energetic’ sister Lydia Bennet.

These diary videos, if you haven't figured out already, are based off of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but in a modern format. Lizzie is the middle child, between Jane and Lydia. They have a cousin named Mary and a cat named Kitty (cute, huh). Lizzie's best friend is Charlotte. There's Bing Lee (get it...named for Charles "Bingley" - I love this name twist), his sister Caroline, and his best friend William Darcy. Of course, we also get Mr. Collins, Wickham, and Gigi (Darcy's sister Georgianna). We "meet" the mom and dad through Lizzie's costume theatre, which is very funny. The pacing of the videos along with the storyline is great (although I may be biased since I watched them all in two days). I like the twists and creative license they use to modernize the plot and characters. I will continue until they are done, and then hope, like everyone else, for a sequel.

Find out more here:

You Tube (catch up on the whole season):