Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (27) & Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

What I Read/Finished:
By Proxy by Katy Regnery
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (audiobook)
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (re-read)
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid (review next week)

Reviews I Posted:
The Witness by Nora Roberts (4-1/2 Star review)
By Proxy by Katy Regnery (4-1/2 Star review)
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter (4 Star review

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!

This was a fun week of personal library expansion. Nothing like getting a big box of books in the mail to up the excitement level! Book Outlet was having an awesome deal that I couldn't resist. And the new release of Through the Zombie Glass was quickly opened and read. If only there were more hours for reading!
Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles, #2)
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
Book Outlet Scores:
Isle of Night (The Watchers, #1)  Vampire's Kiss (The Watchers, #2)  Blood Fever (The Watchers, #3)
Just Between You and Me: A Novel of Losing Fear and Finding God  Social Suicide (Deadly Cool, #2)  Twisted (Intertwined, #3)
Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls, #1)  Sweet Shadows (Medusa Girls, #2)  Struck (Struck, #1)
Once (Eve, #2)  Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)  Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)
Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1)  Assassin's Code (Joe Ledger, #4)
Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff
Vampire's Kiss by Veronica Wolff
Blood Fever by Veronica Wolff
Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones
Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday
Twisted by Gena Showalter
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Once by Anna Carey
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Assassin's Code by Jonathan Maberry
eARCs for Review:
Red Hill  Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance (Knitting in the City, #2)
Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Through the Zombie Glass

Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles, #2)
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
September 24, 2013
Harlequin Teen
480 pages
Genre: Mature Young Adult Paranormal
(contains: sexual references, violence)
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:
Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much—family, friends, her home. After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well. A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things. The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more—including her boyfriend, Cole—than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.
My Review:

I loved Alice in Zombieland (find my review here). Through the Zombie Glass picks up close to where Alice in Zombieland left off. I want to first say that I enjoyed the zombie plotline to this middle-of-a-trilogy book. Whereas some "middle" books can get a bit lost with filler, this one had a new plot in addition to the previously introduced one in Alice in Zombieland. Gena kept things fresh and the reader engaged.

I liked the direction and the twists and turns Gena took with the zombie part of the story. She also tried to integrate more references and nods to Lewis Carroll's original books, and I really enjoyed them, especially the use of mirrors. We also get more of the witty dialogue and intriguing character issues from the secondary characters that make this a more well-rounded story (aka, Kat, Frosty, Bronx... Love them!). Between wanting to know how this new zombie issue was going to be resolved, and wanting to understand these new "visions," I was completely engaged in this book, staying up to read much later than I should have been until my eyes burned and I felt like a bit of a zombie myself. I am a fan of all things Alice in Wonderland, so I desperately wanted to love this book as much as I did the first.

Unfortunately, while it was an engaging book for the most part, and I am still enjoying the overall storyline and truly look forward to the next book, there were some things that detracted from the story for me:

1.) The pacing dragged in the middle a bit. The missed opportunities were irritating and I wanted to slap some sense into Ali for not being more urgent and paying better attention. I think it dragged due to the focus of Ali and Cole's "relationship" and the back-and-forth of that, which leads me to another issue of mine.

2.) The issues between Ali and Cole were frustrating, and I was not a big fan of Cole this time around. For being such a big tough guy, he could sure act like a cowardly jerk. At one point I was even seeing red, he infuriated me so much. My love for him in book one could not save him, and while I know they tried to justify some of his douchiness, and he played some pretty words and deeds later, I will still need more time to heal from his actions.

3.) The climax of action in the end was a bit anti-climactic and resolved a little too easily, though if anyone had been paying attention, this could have been resolved even sooner. When all signs point North, why is everyone going South? But I guess if everything was figured out right away, there would be no story, so I won't overly fault the characters for this.

4.) I also have issues when girls are fighting over boys, when it's obvious the boy is not interested in them. Why is the unattainable boy suddenly so desirable? Especially when he has a jerky history? I understand it in a sense, but it doesn't mean it isn't a sad degradation on the female's part. But I cannot lay this solely at Gena's feet, as this is a common book theme. And I must commend Ali for trying to not be one of those girls and holding her ground better than most - Gena did a good job there.

I know I seem to be negative, but overall I still enjoyed this book, just not as much as the first. Maybe my expectations were too high, I don't know. But it's a solid read with new plot twists and interesting relationship twists. I still liked Ali, even though I wanted to shake her at times. I was expecting to love Cole all over again, and didn't. I may be in the minority here, but I'm okay with that. He's still an interesting character, and I'm sure he'll be redeemed in my eyes more later, or in the last book (I hope). And I will definitely grab the next book.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: By Proxy

By Proxy
By Proxy by Katy Regnery
September 24, 2013
Boroughs Publishing
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: eARC from author for Honest review
Book Blurb:
Stubbornly small-town Jenny Lindstrom has misgivings when she promises to stand proxy in her best friend’s wedding—misgivings that are fulfilled when tall, handsome Sam Kelley walks into the courthouse an hour late. In order to keep her promise, an afternoon favor turns into a weekend of startling but undeniable attraction, threatening the well-ordered world that keeps her heart at arm’s length from any more pain.

Sam’s plan is to fly to Livingston, Montana, take vows for his favorite cousin, and return to Chicago as quickly as possible. But his plan is turned upside-down when he must spend a weekend with Jenny in Gardiner in order to keep his word. He doesn’t want to fall for the prim, proper schoolteacher whose small-town life seems to him like selling out, but the more time he spends with her, the harder it is to say good-bye.

When city and country come together for Christmas, the unexpected gift is true love.
My Review:

This is a very sweet and charming romance, and the perfect read for getting in the holiday mood, or really any time throughout the year to be in the mood for falling in love. I didn't know what to expect from this novel, as I knew nothing of the author or her style, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

As for the storyline, it seemed completely plausible to me. Maybe some won't, but I totally bought into this story. And I fell in love a little bit, too. The author made me believe in falling in love quickly, though I wouldn't categorize this as love-at-first-sight. I loved that the story initially revolves around the concept of a proxy marriage, or in this case, a double proxy marriage. I'd never heard of this, and I find it fascinating (and so relevant with all our overseas military). Then following along with this couple as they discover who each other are, as well as who they themselves truly are at a deeper level, and not just what they project on the surface, was really well done. The flow of the story and action kept me completely engaged, and I was eager to see how things would turn out. Throw in the joy of the Christmas season, a small Montana town, a bunch of big, blonde Swedish/ Norwegian brothers, and of course, the personal stories of our hero and heroine, and you've got the makings of the perfect read for sitting by a fire, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, sipping cocoa.

As for the characters, I genuinely liked Jenny and Sam. They were not perfect, and fought against preconceived notions and expectations - city boy, country girl. But the connection between them was genuine. It was refreshing to read about characters who could be honest, even if it embarrassed them. No games were played or ploys were used. It was a relationship based on honesty, respect, mutual admiration, genuine care, friendship, attraction, and even laughter. I love that they were able to grow and change and improve themselves after just knowing the other for such a brief period of time. The impact was obvious. The time to self-reflect and dig deeper, do some soul-searching was perfect. I was worried things would go too perfectly, and I'm glad they had to look at so many things that the reader would be wondering and questioning. Also, while there is physical attraction and sexual tension between Jenny and Sam, I would qualify this as a pretty clean romantic read.

Bottomline: This is a sweet, charming, romantic read that completely hooked me, making me fall in love with the characters, the setting, and the beauty of finding that special someone to fall in love with. This is the first book of a new series, Heart of Montana, and considering I love all the characters we are introduced to, and loved the writing, I am definitely looking forward to more.
4-1/2 STARS
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (20): Through the Zombie Glass

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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
(White Rabbit Chronicles #2)
Published September 24, 2013

Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles, #2)

Okay, so technically I'm not reading this yet. I decided to re-read Alice in Zombieland first. But since this little beauty was delivered to my doorstep yesterday, I wanted to post a teaser anyway, because it will be my very next read. And this teaser has made me want to hurry up so I can start! 

Teaser from page 47:
"Does it really matter? It won't come true." I wouldn't let it.
"It matters. It will come true. And we both know it." Cole walked away without another word - without ever looking back.
Book Blurb:
Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much—family, friends, her home. After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well. A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things. The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more—including her boyfriend, Cole—than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.
White Rabbit Chronicles: 
Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles, #1) Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles, #2)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Witness

The Witness
The Witness by Nora Roberts
April 17, 2012
Putnam Adult publishing
488 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary Suspenseful Romance
(contains mature language, sexual scenes)
Source: Audible personal purchase
Book Blurb:
Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security  systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today’s most reliably entertaining thriller
author—and will leave people hungering for more.
My Review:

I bought this on a whim via Audible during one of their daily deals. This was my first Nora Roberts read and this isn't my usual genre, but I thought I'd give it a whirl for the great price. Well I'm so glad that I did. I was thoroughly impressed by this story. I was swept right into it from the beginning and it held my attention throughout. I'm so glad I grabbed this gem.

Storyline: We follow the story of Elizabeth, controlled teenage prodigy, to Abigail, witness in hiding from the men who want her dead for what she witnessed. We first get a view of how Elizabeth was raised by her controlling, unloving mother. Then we see Liz's act of rebellion, which couldn't have been timed worse, and she witnesses a horrible crime. The entire build up of the first portion of the book was brilliant and kept me on the edge of my seat, my stomach twisted in anticipation. I knew something bad was going to happen, and yet I still did not know the extent to what it would be. My heart broke along with Liz, not only for her upbringing, but truly for how things played out and how she was left. This was really well-written.

Fast forward twelve years to enigmatic Abigail, the small town mystery, and the story picks up as her life of hiding slowly unravels as police chief Gleason enters her life. The way Abigail is portrayed as her very slow transformation comes about was, again, really well done. Though, honestly, at certain points I really just wanted to know how things were going to end, but the interactions between Abigail and Brooks made it worth the wait. The length of the book could probably been cut down a bit, or the pace sped up in the middle, though it still held my attention. But along with the Abigail/Elizabeth storyline, we also get the Abigail/Brooks romantic storyline, and then we have Brooks professional dealings as chief of police and the community trouble-makers he has to deal with. This is a very well-rounded story, with multiple plotlines, but they all tie into each other really well. I was impressed by how Ms. Roberts held it all together and paralleled everything. Down to the very end, I was engaged in the story and continued to be impressed by the continuity and anticipation of the final outcome.

Heartache and Humor: When you think about witnessing a brutal crime, heartache is certainly a relevant outcome. This story is no exception. I felt teary eyed several times throughout the story by the tragic circumstances that happened. But along with the sadness, I found myself smiling and snickering at the humor laced throughout. With the quirky characters, there was no shortage of lightheartedness to go along with the drama.

Characters: Multi-dimensional characters are a must for me to enjoy a book thoroughly. Nora Roberts created a fabulous group of characters with so much appeal I felt like I wanted to sit down to tea and have a chat right alongside them. Elizabeth/Abigail reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, without the fear of coitus, and slightly better at social interaction. She was a hoot without even trying. She was also extremely endearing, a mix of deep intelligence and social naïveté, and I loved her. I can see why Brooks fell for her. As for Brooks, he was such a mix of sweet, tough, gentle, kind, persistent, and also a big ole gossip. I loved how he was with Abigail and the way he treated those around him. He oozed his way into Abigail's life the way no one else would have been able to. They were quite perfect together. The side characters were also a treat and interspersed throughout the story to give it just the right amount of well-roundedness.

Audio Narration: Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous narrating. I honestly don't know if I would have enjoyed this nearly as much as I did if it weren't for Julia Whelan's narrating. This was a lengthy book, but somehow Ms. Whelan's ability to bring it to life kept me engaged and interested. I can see on Audible that she has narrated several other books, and I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book she's narrated.

Bottomline: I thoroughly enjoyed THE WITNESS. It is a well-written, engaging, and exciting story with quirky, endearing characters. The audiobook narration is fantastic, and I highly recommend it. The story felt a bit slow in the middle, but despite my tendencies to be easily distracted, I still felt pulled in and loved how things continued throughout the story. Really well done!

4-1/2 STARS (Book)
5 STARS (Audiobook Narration)
Find on AUDIBLE  *  Buy on AMAZON

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (26) & Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

What I Read:
My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin
The Witness by Nora Roberts (audiobook)

Reviews I Posted:
Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin (4-1/2 Star Review)
My Everything by Heidi McLaughlin (4 Star Review)
My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin (4-1/2 Star Review)

What I Attended:
Jonathan Maberry Book Signing! (see post)

Special Notes I Made:
Upcoming Author Event in Southern California (get details)

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 got some yummy goodies in the mail this week and some great looks books to review. Plus I bought a signed copy of The 5th Wave at the bookstore, which I loved on audio, but didn't have the hardcopy yet, so happy days for me.

 The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)  The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)  United We Spy (Gallagher Girls, #6)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (signed)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
United We Spy by Ally Carter
Won from Publisher:
 One Week Girlfriend (Drew + Fable, #1)
One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy (paperback)
eARCs For Review:
 Tattoo Thief (Tattoo Thief, #1)  Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance (Knitting in the City, #2)  The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #2)
Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway
Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid
The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa
Kindle Goodies:
 My Everything (Beaumont, #1.5)  My Unexpected Forever (Beaumont, #2)  Breaking Nova (Nova, #1)

Leo (Sign of Love, #1)  Leo's Chance (Sign of Love, #2)  Fire and Ice (Book of Shadows, #1)
My Everything by Heidi McLaughlin
My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin
Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen
Leo by Mia Sheridan
Leo's Chance by Mia Sheridan
Fire and Ice by Lacey Weatherford

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: My Unexpected Forever

My Unexpected Forever (Beaumont, #2)
My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin
(Beaumont #2)
September 2, 2013
291 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary
(contains mature language, sexual content)
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:
I expected a life of music.
I expected to raise my son.
It took one look to make everything change.
I never expected happiness.

I never expected to find her.
I never expected to feel desire.
I never expected I’d be a family man.
I never expected to be loved.
I never expected to fall in love.

They say you should expect the unexpected, I didn’t realize my unexpected would be the forever kind.
My Review:

This is the second book in the Beaumont series, and while some may consider it a standalone, I don't. There is much that happens in the first book that sets this story up. Without that set up, you will be missing some essential history. But I loved Forever My Girl (my review here), so it is completely worth the reading ahead of time. I also enjoyed My Everything (my review here), and while it isn't required reading, it has a nice tie in to the series.

With that said, My Unexpected Forever is a beautiful story about second chances. Here Katelyn's story continues from FMG, which at the beginning her husband (and high school sweetheart) dies unexpectedly, leaving her a widow with twin young daughters. At the end of FMG, we are introduced to Harrison, Liam's band mate and drummer. We felt the connection between Katelyn and Harrison when they met, but to say it was an inappropriate time to pursue anything would be an understatement, as it was Katelyn and her daughters' first Christmas without Mason. But here we get to see how the rest of their story will play out.

Once again I commend Heidi on bringing realness to these situations - real characters, real emotions, real circumstances. In FMG I could relate to Liam. In MUF I could relate to Katelyn. I may not be a widow, but my husband and I have been dating or married for 20 years and we have three kids. I know if anything ever happened to him, I would be in no hurry to replace him. Because he's irreplaceable. He's my true love. So I look at Katelyn's circumstances and I just feel sad for her, and sad for her young girls, and the timing of it all. And I know I'm not the only one who can relate. I like that this story addressed the piece of someone's heart that would always be tied to that irreplaceable someone.

Enter Harrison and his tender patient self. Harrison the dad, Harrison the drummer, Harrison the ever patient guy. He was a sweet, stand-up kind of guy. Maybe he hadn't always been that way, but when presented with new situations, Harrison adapts. He adapted to fatherhood. He adapted to falling for a widow. He adapted to rejection. He was gentle and patient, but also honest and real. But I also love that he wasn't a complete doormat. Begging and being a doormat is not attractive. But being yourself is and Harrison stayed true to himself and didn't become someone he wasn't just to fill that perfect picture of what Katelyn thought she needed. And his true self was enough - more than enough. When you see all the sweet, thoughtful things he does, you'll understand and swoon with the rest of us.

The progress of Harrison and Katelyn's relationship was slow and steady and I really appreciated that. It would have been unrealistic if it had been rushed. I liked how they brought out the good things in each other, yet also challenged each other's views. Harrison in particular challenged Katelyn's view of "type," with his tattoos and beanies and history. Katelyn's prejudices were frustrating, and her assumptions were harmful. I wanted to hug her and shake her at the same time. The mixed signals she sent out would give any guy whiplash. But it was a journey she had to take because she only knew one type of romantic love, and was so very afraid. But when Harrison and Katelyn were together without the walls, it was a beautiful thing.

There is a fair share of drama, and more continuing of the previous book's storyline. I liked how things were tied together and while I had suspicions, I liked that I was anticipating what would happen next. We also get more of Liam and Josie's story, as well as the ongoing band drama. Add that to Harrison and Katelyn's story, and I was completely entertained throughout the novel and didn't want to put it down.

And the kids. Oh how I love those kids. I love that they are such an integral part of the story. I love that these individuals have become a big, happy family. These children are the true gems of the group, and their interactions with each other and with the adults is enough reason to enjoy this book. Harrison plays a huge father/mentor role. First, I love how he talks about his son, Quinn. So touching. Then throw in his skills with the other kids, and you can see how natural he is with them all (and why Katelyn would be a fool to not see all the positive things about him).

Bottomline: I love this series. I love the real emotions I feel reading it. I love that I can relate with these people, even though they are fictional. I love the intergenerational storylines. I love the complex characters. My Unexpected Forever is a beautiful second chance story for two people who need that chance together. I look forward to more books to come in this series. There seems to be a hint at the end who the next one might be about, so I'll have to wait and see. But I'll be sure to grab it.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Novella Review: My Everything

My Everything (Beaumont, #1.5)
My Everything by Heidi McLaughlin
(Beaumont #1.5)
March 18, 2013
Mad Bear Publishing
61 pages
Genre: Adult Romance
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:

When Nick Ashford lost his friend, Mason, he didn’t realize he was going to lose his family as well, but that’s exactly what happened. Alone and in a foreign country, Nick is working on rebuilding his life one patient at a time, that is, until a striking volunteer makes her presence known.

Can Nick finish his year in Africa without risking his heart being broken again, or is he willing to start a new chapter in his life before his return to Beaumont?

My Review:

This novella in the Beaumont series follows after Forever My Girl (find my review here), so if you haven't read it yet, then this review or novella will be spoilery for that novel. I was very glad that Heidi gave Nick his own story, even if it was just a novella. Thought I would have happily read more. I liked Nick and wanted to know more about him, and was glad Heidi didn't make him out to be a complete bad guy, but just a guy with imperfections, just like all her other characters. That is one of the strengths of this series - flawed characters who grow.

Here we get to find out what Nick did when he left Beaumont and Josie and went to Africa for a year. Not only did we get to find out what he was doing there, but also get flashbacks to his relationship with Josie and the awkward time when Liam came back. I already felt badly for Nick during Forever My Girl. I felt like he got a bum rap for something out of his control. His jealousy and frustration in that situation was completely understandable. But I knew he must have had red flags during his relationship with Josie, and here we get to find out more of what happened between them, both before and after Liam's return. I liked how Heidi integrated it all and it really helped me to appreciate Nick even more. Additionally we get to see how Nick grew from that experience on a personal level and also had to own up to his mistakes, particularly with Noah.

We also get to see Nick's blossoming romance with Aubrey. I really liked the angle of this relationship. It was sweet and honorable. I liked them as a couple. I especially liked Aubrey, her gentle nature, her perspective on life, and the integrity she maintained. Their courtship was sweet and refreshing. I only wish we could have had more of their interactions, dialogue, getting to know each other, etc. I realize this is just a novella, but as I said before, I would have loved to read more.

I mentioned Noah before, and I'll mention him again. I liked how things came full circle with him. I like that children are important in this series and not just random side characters. That's another strength of this series - children are people too, not just accessories. There is a certain beauty to the adult/child relationships involved here, and adults have to take ownership of their mistakes and faults, whether they're blood-related or not.

Bottomline: I'm very glad I read this novella between reading Forever My Girl and My Unexpected Forever. Regardless of whether, at the end of Forever My Girl, you felt like Nick got the short end of the stick or made a total jerk move, this is the novella for you to feel closure with all parties involved. It's also a nice segue between books and a quick enjoyable read. 
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Signing Fun: Jonathan Maberry

My big boys and I took a little three hour drive (six hours round trip) to meet Jonathan Maberry on September 18th, and it was completely worth it. If you haven't read my reviews yet, I recently finished and loved the Benny Imura series. That was my first exposure to Mr. Maberry's writing, and I'm looking forward to reading his other series. And once I finished the Benny Imura series, I approved it for my boys to read. My ten-year-old has started listening to the audiobooks. He loved Rot and Ruin, and is in the middle of Dust and Decay. They are superior audiobooks and I highly recommend them. Word is they are in the midst of working on the third book for audio.
Oooh, the pretty signed books!
Mr. Maberry not only entertained us about his books, but was a wealth of information on writing, creating, and organizing. I was inspired not just by his works of fiction, but by his personality and work ethic as well. I'm hoping my children were paying good attention :)
And zombie cards!!

In good news, Mr. Maberry said he'll hopefully be publishing a fifth Benny Imura book, perhaps in the next year and a half or so, as well as an adult book that details First Night. I'm thrilled by the prospect of both of these and hope they come to fruition.

My Reviews:
If you've not explored the world of Benny Imura, you can find my review for the Benny Imura Series here, and my review of the final book (so far), Fire and Ash, here.

Here is a list of the first books of Jonathan Maberry's series:

Rot and Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)
Benny Imura Series
Book 1: Rot and Ruin
Blurb: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
Patient Zero (Joe Ledger, #1)
Joe Ledger Series
Book 1: Patient Zero
Blurb: When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills.  And that's both a good, and a bad thing.  It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance....
Ghost Road Blues (Pine Deep, #1)
Pine Deep Series
Book 1: Ghost Road Blues
Blurb: From a new master of horror comes an apocalyptic showdown between the residents of a secluded, rural town and the deadly evil that confronts them wherever they turn . . .

Evil Doesn't Die
The cozy little town of Pine Deep buried the horrors of its past a long time ago. Thirty years have gone by since the darkness descended and the Black Harvest began, a time when a serial killer sheared a bloody swath through the quiet Pennsylvania village. The evil that once coursed through Pine Deep has been replaced by cheerful tourists getting ready to enjoy the country's largest Halloween celebration in what is now called "The Spookiest Town in America."

It Just Grows Stronger
But then--a month before Halloween--it begins. Unspeakably desecrated bodies. Inexplicable insanity. And an ancient evil walking the streets, drawing in those who would fall to their own demons and seeking to shred the very soul of this rapidly fracturing community. Yes, the residents of Pine Deep have drawn together and faced a killer before. But this time, evil has many faces--and the lust and will to rule the earth. This struggle will be epic.
Dead of Night
Dead of Night Series
Book 1: Dead of Night
Blurb: A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave.  But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects.  Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up.  Hungry.  Infected.  Contagious.  This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang…but a bite.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Forever My Girl

Forever My Girl (Beaumont, #1)
Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin
(Beaumont #1)
December 27, 2012
Bandit Publishing Company
302 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
(contains sexual situations, language)
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:
I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.

I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I’ve poured my soul into my music, but I’ve never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile.

And now I’m going back.

After ten years.

I hope I can explain that after all this time.

I still want her to be my forever girl.

My Review:

This is a well-written second chance story and I really enjoyed it. We follow the alternating POVs of Liam and Josie, getting glimpses of past and present. They were high school sweethearts, deeply in love, and then things unexpectedly went awry and they've been out of each other's lives for the last ten years. A deeply unfortunate turn of events brings them back into each other's lives and forces Liam to face the regret he's been avoiding for the last ten years. 

I could really feel the emotions of the characters throughout this story and they felt very authentic. Heidi's ability to show the array of feelings one would face in this type of situation was well though out and did not feel overly outlandish or excessively angst filled. It felt honest and I loved being in both Liam and Josie's heads. They felt real. And I loved how their emotions and everything played out. I felt so sad for everyone, especially in the beginning. Just so sad for all the wasted, lost time. But along with my sad feelings, there were some really beautiful, tender moments. This really struck the emotional gamut.

But throughout the story I could also see that this time apart allowed them to become the individuals they needed to be. Would they have made it as a couple if the circumstances were different and they hadn't lost those ten years? That is the million dollar question. But I think Liam and Josie were eventually able to answer that question for themselves. And no worries, Liam paid a price for his rash, cowardly decision. A hefty price indeed. But forgiveness and redemption are worthy goals, and I liked how the story progressed.

I've touched on the characters, but I love this group of friends in Beaumont. And not just the adults, but the children as well. What a great array of personalities and imperfections. Josie has a great support system, and she lends her support to Katelyn as well. And then Liam is there for Katelyn. And then Katelyn is supporting Liam. And everyone is supporting the kids. They are multi-dimensional characters that really add something special to the story. There was one character that I felt like got a bad rap and I felt sorry for him (though he should have been paying attention to the red flags that had been popping up all along). But I'm glad he's getting his own story.

On a personal level, I could relate to Liam. I remember starting college and all the things I'd thought I'd wanted to do and career plans I'd had and been expected of me from my family kind of blew up in my face freshman year. I learned a lot about myself, became a new person, and discovered who I thought I was going to be was no longer who I wanted to be. Halfway through my sophomore year I dropped out of college for a year to figure things out and decide what path I wanted to follow. My parents cut off my funding and I had to take care of myself, though they did not disown me, just were deeply disappointed and didn't understand me. So to a certain extent I could relate to Liam. The difference between Liam and me comes down to communication and history. My boyfriend knew what I was feeling and what I was doing, but we also hadn't been dating as long as Liam and Josie, so he wasn't entrenched in my past expectations. But I could understand how the events in this story took place, even if I would have personally made different choices, and sympathize with Liam's position and choices. And I don't think I'm the only one who can relate.

Bottomline: I loved this story and loved these characters, This story deals with heartbreak and heartache, regret and remorse, trust and truth, repentance and redemption, hope and happiness, love and life. Heidi nailed the emotional gamut and used imperfect characters to bring a story of second chances to life. And no worries, we get a HEA and no cliffhanger. I'm a new Heidi McLaughlin fan and look forward to the rest of the Beaumont series, which I quickly bought after finishing this one.

4-1/2 STARS
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