Friday, January 13, 2017

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
by Darynda Jones

She can't look in on her daughter for fear that demons will follow her light and destroy her precious Beep to curry favor with Lucifer for ending the life of an infant who is prophesized to one day destroy him.

She can't figure out why her uncle wants her to stay home and/or why he's basically ignoring his wife and her bestie, making sadness abound.

She can't understand why her almost too-hot-to-handle-hubby wants her to drop a case.

She can't come up with a way to release the souls trapped in a hell dimension that she wears around her neck.

She can't figure out how to help her bestie's daughter to learn how to control her prophesizing powers while also catching the stalker who's sending her truly evil texts.

And she definitely can't figure out how to get rid of the angels that are following her everywhere.

With all the things that she can't do, will she ever be able to get used to the idea that she is a god?

Final thoughts: Yet another entry and still more amazing Charley. I really love this character and her sassiness. I REALLY wish there was a place to buy all the t-shirts mentioned at the chapter headings. My only issue... and it's pretty darn big... is that this one is a freakin' CLIFFHANGER!!!!  Ugh! Why couldn't the last chapter of this book have been the first chapter of the next instead? Why do I now have to sit around and wait to find out what happens?!?!?!  Sooooooo cruel!!!

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Phantom Kiss

Phantom Kiss
by Chloe Neill

In between the proposal and the wedding are all those planning sessions, showers... and exorcisms.

Final thoughts: It's short, like a couple of chapters from a regular Chicagoland novel, so it doesn't have a lot of "meat" to it. It added some depth to the characters and the story, but it's not unforgettable. More than anything, I'm just worried about how this will all finally end in the next book, especially because we've had no further information on a Merit/Ethan kid, despite that being pretty dang important in the early books.

Rating: 4/5

Moonshadow

Moonshadow
by Thea Harrison

Months after she was shot, Sophie Ross is still recovering both physically and emotionally from the event. She needs a change of scenery STAT.

She gets her opportunity when the daughter of the man who rescued Sophie from a human trafficking ring offers her an amazing mansion, tons of land, and an annual stipend... IF she can get in the door.

Upon arriving in the U.K., Sophie meets Nikolas and sparks fly. It's hate at first sight, but Sophie has what Nikolas needs to save his people and get back to those he was separated from years before.

Can they survive each other long enough to get what they both need?

Final thoughts: I was hanging in there pretty well until about 35% of the way through. I'm not sure what happened at that point, but I do know that it was a struggle to finish. Sophie and Nikolas have horrible chemistry, but we're told that they can't keep their hands off each other; it doesn't make sense. Additionally, I know that many say this book can be read separately from Harrison's other series, but I really feel like I was missing something. It felt like I was being left out of half the story. Maybe if I'd read her other series, I would feel more comfortable with this one.

Rating: 2/5

Max

Max
by Sarah Cohen-Scali

Ok. No book talk on this one. According to my Kindle, I made it to 36% (finished chapter 13). I'm not even sure why I pushed that far. I just can't seem to care about this. Max is unsympathetic and just not relatable to me. Maybe some people love this, but I'm not one of them.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Silence Fallen

Silence Fallen
by Patricia Briggs

It was just meant to be a quick run to the Stop and Rob to get some eggs and chocolate chips so that she could finish a huge batch of cookies for the very hungry werewolves that were at her home, pretending to be pirates in a pitched online battle.

It turned into a kidnapping that nearly killed her and took her halfway across the world to Italy. She's been taken by the most feared vampire in the world and her future does not look good.

And even IF she manages to make it out of his makeshift prison, she's still in Europe with no money, no passport, and no way home.

What's a coyote's only resort? Chaos, of course.

Final thoughts: I've now read this twice because I felt a little caught out the first time once I got to the end. Did I miss the clues? Was something not made clear? Was I just blind? Maybe. In the end, even looking harder, I still feel like that twist wasn't really predictable, so it took me out of the story when it came. However, I still love Mercy and Adam and this was another solid entry. It's funny how Mercy is slowly taking over the world without even trying, and maybe without even knowing.  On a side note, can someone please explain to me Mercy's ever-evolving and changing tattoos on the covers? (esp. when Briggs repeatedly states that she only has one coyote paw on her stomach and that's it??)

Rating: 4/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley. THANKS!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Other F-Word

The Other F-Word
by Natasha Friend

Hollis lost one of her moms a few years ago and has been dealing with that loss in the most inappropriate ways. Now she's being cyberbullied and slut-shamed as her birth mom continues to barely get by in life.

Milo has both of his moms, but no father to guide him through the pitfalls of being a teen boy who really really likes this one girl. Milo is also allergic to more things than he's not and he thinks that maybe knowing who his biological father is will help his doctors find better treatments for him.

Hollis and Milo couldn't be more different, and yet they're so very alike. They are both the children of #9677. He was a sperm donor who made their lives possible, and now they are looking for him.

On the way, they find three more siblings and discover what it really means to be a family.

Final thoughts:  Nice piece of realistic fiction that deals with the pros and cons of being a child of a sperm donor. This is a niche that needed to be filled and Friend does that very well. It's also a fairly gender-neutral book as it goes between both Hollis's and Milo's points of view, so this should be a good fit for all children trying to figure out who they really are. The ending leaves room to continue the story, but doesn't require it.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ready Player One

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

Twenty-eight years from now, in the year 2044, the world is falling apart. Things have gone so crazy that most people choose to spend their lives online in OASIS, the ultimate MMORPG where pretty much anything is possible.

Designed by eccentric gamer James Halliday, a fan of all things 80s, OASIS provides a home away from chaos. People can live and work in OASIS as long as they have the stamina and credits to do so. Kids can go to school there. Quests can be undertaken. Ultimate rewards await anyone who can figure out the clues.

And the ultimate quest on OASIS comes when James Halliday dies. As his last wish, he wills his entire multi-billion dollar fortune to anyone who can solve the clues, find the keys, and defeat the bosses first. The moment his quest is announced, the world goes crazy trying to solve the first clue. But as the years go by, people begin to think it's either impossible or fake.

Then Wade Watts stumbles upon the first key and everyone in the world finds out at almost the exact same time. Wade is now followed and adored; he's also wanted by some very dangerous people who will do almost anything to win the prize, including kill.

It's time for Wade to face the real world and the real consequences of living if he wants to solve the virtual puzzles hidden in OASIS.

Final thoughts: This is a gamer's dream book. It's addictive to anyone who's ever been addicted to games and/or was raised in the 80's. Obscure references are everywhere, as are pop-culture ones. I have a few questions about the legitimacy of Wade's hacking abilities considering the nearly 180 turn they take from the beginning to the end, but I'm willing to overlook them just because this is so well done.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You
by Kasie West

Chemistry may be the most dull class ever created for high school. There is just no way to get through it without either falling asleep or getting distracted. And Lily is easily distracted, mostly by song lyrics that constantly form and swirl in her mind.

When her Chem teacher gives Lily an order to stop writing in her lyric journal or lose it, Lily starts writing directly on her desk instead. What she definitely doesn't expect is a response that starts a letter writing conversation with a mysterious someone who may just be her soulmate.

While trying to figure out who she's writing to each day, Lily must also deal with a serious crush who doesn't seem to know she exists, the mean girl who does know she exists, and the bully-boy who not only knows that she exists, but seems to delight in messing with her.

Just getting through the day can be so very difficult. Thank goodness that she has those letters to look forward to each day.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy all the way. Just a rom-com with a weird twist in the rom part. I'm not sure I can accept the romance as it is as the guy just isn't that great. However, it was a nice little brain break to read.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Veil

The Veil
Chloe Neill

When the Veil lifted seven years ago, it removed the one thing separating the humans of earth from the supernatural creatures of the universe.

Claire Connolly was a child when the Veil was torn. She watched her father fight back against the supernatural and she watched him die by their hands. 

She has done her best to take over her father's business, becoming a respected businesswoman who knows almost everyone and can get people what they need, when they need it.

She has also done her best to hide her secret; she's a Sensitive.

If people find out what she is and what she can do, she'll be sent to live in Devil's Isle with the rest of the supernatural beings who were left behind when the Veil was finally closed.

But she may have to reveal who she is when someone is trying to tear the Veil open again and rain terror on the land once more.

Final thoughts: This is a solid supernatural novel, but it's not a stand-out. I would much rather have Neill finish her Chicagoland Vampires series instead of starting a new one. Maybe she needed a break from Merit and Ethan. Hopefully she's been diverted enough and can back to their story.

Rating: 3/5

The Demon's Deadline

The Demon's Deadline
by Tori Centanni

When Nicki was little, she was in a car accident that killed her mother. In order to live, she was given the option to take a job by a demon. Years later, she's now doing that job.

She's the demon's messenger. 

It's her job to deliver sealed envelopes to whomever the demon wishes.

It starts as a rare assignment, maybe once a month. Then it started to be once a week. When it starts becoming a regular thing, Nicki starts to get curious about what she's delivering.

And the people she's delivering envelopes to are starting to get little desperate and angry.

Her job has started to put her into serious danger. And now the demon is no longer around to protect her from the trouble he has gotten her into.

Final thoughts: This one throws you into the story a few chapters past what would normally be the exposition. It then pretty much skips the middle and goes straight to the end. It feels unfinished from beginning to end. Decent, but I don't think I'll continue reading the series.

Rating: 2/5

The Stand-In

The Stand-In
by Steve Bloom

All Brooks wants it to get out of town. To do that, he needs a HUGE boost to his SAT scores and a lot of luck, so that he can get into Columbia University and away from his flake of a father.

Unfortunately, getting that boost requires a tutor and tutors cost money. And even if he gets into Columbia, he still needs to pay for it, so that means that he needs even more money.

A one-time accidental acceptance of a job to escort a girl to Homecoming, leads to a new, albeit temporary, career as a professional escort (without all the illegal things that go with it).

Every weekend is booked for Brooks. He takes girls to Homecoming, Winter Formal, Spring Fling, and Prom, all for a tidy sum each Friday and Saturday night along with great meals and often the use of cool cars.

But being an escort is taking a toll on the rest of his life and deadlines for SATs and college apps are coming.

Now Brooks has to start making real choices and real decisions that have nothing to do with being a fake date.

Final thoughts: OK. Cotton candy with a few truly unbelievable moments, as well as a few far-too-easy-to-believe moments. Gets the job done. Easily forgettable afterwards.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things



Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things

by Martina McAtee

 

After years of watching her father be a barely functioning drunk, Ember must now attend his funeral and try to put the broken pieces of her life together. She's pretty much felt like she was on her own for most of her life, so this really isn't much of a change.

 

What is a change is the strange boy who seems to be everywhere watching her. Also strange is the appearance of twins who show up and take her to a tiny town in Florida, telling her that she is their cousin who was thought to be dead for the last 12 years. Now she's living with them, a pack of werewolves, and a fae.

 

Another change is the fact that she can now raise the dead, speak with the souls of the departed, and her cousins are a reaper and a banshee.

 

People want her power. People definitely don't want her to have her power. Ember and her cousins are at the center of a dangerous plan hatched generations before and now coming to fruition.

 

If she can survive it, she may become the most powerful person ever to have walked the earth.

 

Final thoughts: This thing just kept going and going and going and dragging and dragging and dragging. It was so frustrating because I kept having to put it down and pick it back up again. Only near the end did I finally look up the number of pages (having been reading the Kindle edition with only percentages listed), and I found that this thing is 508 pages. While the author is pretty good at showing and not just telling, this showed way too much and kept meandering around. Additionally, and this is a personal thing of mine, ::SPOILER ALERT:: the three death cousins are reincarnations of The Morrigan, a trio of goddesses. But one of the cousins is male. How does the author work that? She makes him gay. As if being gay makes him automatically more feminine/effeminate. That's really rude and definitely not accurate. More accurately, it's stereotyping and judgmental. 

 

Not reading the next one. Not caring one bit.

 

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
by Jenn P. Nguyen

Taylor Simmons has always stuck to the straight and narrow. Her bio dad is a jerk, but her mom was saved from him by Taylor's current stepdad. Said stepdad helped Taylor find order in chaos and a purpose in life. She's going to go to Columbia to be a lawyer, just like her stepdad.

But when a wait-list letter arrives from her dream university, Taylor goes into a spiral of despair so bad that she lets her BFF take her to a party where she gets more than a little drunk.

The next morning... she wakes up in the bed of Evan, the biggest player on campus who's had more one-night stands than can be counted... and everyone at school seems to know.

She suddenly becomes the center of the gossip world and it feels like there is nothing she can do to stop it. Then inspirations strikes! If Taylor can convince Evan to fake-date her, then the gossip will turn from her being a slut to her taming the bad boy.

Now she just has to convince him, and everyone else, that this faux relationship can work.

Final thoughts: All cotton candy all the way through. There's enough formula to make it fairly predictable, but a decent voice to keep it from becoming dull. It also has the typical misunderstandings and miscommunications, but the author kept them to a minimum and they didn't pull down the story. I wasn't a fan of the massive slut-shaming done, esp. since 1) she didn't actually sleep with him and 2) it was the first time she'd been associated with anyone. However, having worked in high school, I know it exists for everyone, even those who never do anything wrong, so I can't really fault the author for that. Overall, it's a decent story and quick read.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Being Jamie Baker

Being Jamie Baker
by Kelly Oram

After a horrific accident that should have killed her, Jamie Baker has acquired freakish strength, hearing that the NSA would kill to have, and the ability to harness electricity. Too bad she wants none of it.

She and her parents realize very quickly that if word of her powers were to leak out, she'd be taken and used for experiments to see what, exactly, she could do and how it could all be replicated. 

Unfortunately for her, she can't stay anonymous in her home town, especially since the same accident that made her ended up killing her boyfriend. So she and her family have moved to a new town where she has become "The Ice Queen" and keeps herself separated from as many people as possible. She keeps her head down, doesn't make friends, and hides what she can do.

That all ends when Ryan Miller is dared to kiss her and she lets him. Suddenly, he can't get her off his mind and he's determined to find out more about her. 

There's also someone from her past who threatens to share her secret with everyone.

Can she finally learn to control her powers and become who she may have been meant to be all along, or will everything she cares for be destroyed?

Final thoughts: So much whining! So much indecision! 80% of the book was Jamie going back and forth between wanting to be with Ryan and wanting to be as far away as possible. The reasons may change, but the angst is constant. I like the idea, but I really don't like the follow-thru. 

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bookishly Ever After

Bookishly Ever After
by Isabel Bandeira

It's a common problem among many readers; boys in real life are never as good as the boys in books. Worse than that is that a person can never be as clever with those real life boys as the fictional heroines are with their book boyfriends.

Phoebe is a serious book and yarn addict. She reads. She knits. And then she reads some more. She's practically memorized some of her favorite fantasy fiction books, which contain strong female leads who know what they want and how to get it. Those girls never say the wrong things. They always have quick and witty replies. And they always get their men.

But Phoebe can't seem to do anything like her heroines. She's awkward, confused, and often misses social cues. Even when her best friend points out crushes and the longing looks of a certain guy, Phoebe can't seem to see it. She definitely can't respond in the clever way she wishes that she could.

So she comes up with a plan. She's going to study her books, not just read them, and look for clues to be the best, wittiest, cleverest, most amazing girl that her dream guy could want, even if that means completely changing herself in the process.

Final thoughts: This is definitely a book for the shy introverts who love to read. Phoebe's problems are relatable and real, especially for many bibliophiles out there. My only real problem is that it often feels like Bandeira wants to be a fantasy author more than a realistic fiction author. She has all these amazing "scenes" from Phoebe's favorite books and series, almost like she herself came up with the scenes and wanted to write them, but couldn't come up with an entire book to put them in for a cohesive story, so she wrote this book to put them all together instead of writing the fantasy book she really wanted. I actually would probably want to read some of these Phoebe faves, but I'm not sure I want to read about Phoebe herself anymore.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Madly

Madly
by Amy Alward

It's been decades since Samantha Kemi's family was basically kicked to the curb by the royal family after the last Wilde Hunt. While the Kemis are firm believers in the strength and potency of natural ingredients, the world has shifted to synthetics. Soon, the Kemi store will be the last of its kind, since all other natural potion makers have either already closed or will be closing soon.

But things may finally return the Kemis to favor after the only daughter and heir to the throne accidentally uses a powerful love potion on herself, causing magical chaos that results in the first Wilde Hunt to be called since the Kemis' downfall all those years before.

Now Sam must go on the race of a lifetime, literally around the world, to find the ingredients required to make the counter-potion and bring glory back to the Kemi name. Of course, no race would be complete without competition, and that includes the guy she really likes, but shouldn't, and the heir's aunt, who wants nothing more than the crown for herself.

Danger is an understatement.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy while you read it; fills you with questions when you're done. The biggest question for me is, if the aunt is the one who sent Evelyn the potion information in the first place, with the intent being to "cure" her and take over the kingdom, why wouldn't she have had the counter-potion already created and ready to go before the Hunt started, thereby winning by default? I know that means that there wouldn't have been a book, but there has GOT to be a better reason than "We had to fill 300+ pages somehow!" [ Additionally, the fact that this was set in current-day London, India, and Africa (though all renamed), used magic and potions, and yet they all had televisions and tablets, was very disorienting. Decent. Cute. Sometimes funny. Could have been better. (on a side note: the copy editor may need to look for another job... TONS of typos)

Rating: 2/5

Study Hall of Justice

 
Study Hall of Justice
by Derek Fridolfs


After Bruce finally convinces his guardian, Alfred, to let him go to school, he gets into Ducard Academy. There, he takes all the traditional classes like English, science, and history, though he has some very unusual teachers.

He also has some very unusual classmates.

Some of them will be friends.

Most of them will be enemies.

Final thoughts: Cute addition to the DC Universe, though a little dense in characters. This one is a really great addition for young kids who are familiar with the villains. It's not as violent as the full comics, but it's still filled with inside jokes and characters not seen often by the average fan.

Rating: 3/5

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

 
 The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
by Katie Alender
 
When Delia's aunt died, leaving her home to Delia and Delia alone, there was no way that the young girl could know how much her life would change.

The home she inherits is not just a home; she's inherited The Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females. Her aunt had been its custodian for her entire life and had never left until the day she died. Now Delia will find out the truth about this home, and she must do it soon because the house takes its job very seriously.

Final thoughts: Another formulaic entry with few actual scares, but there is a nice twist from the start. There were some interesting characters, but the overall effect was less thriller and more "huh" (said with a tilted head and shrugging shoulders). This also suffered from consistency issues, which I've noticed with Alender's work in the past. She sets up rules and then breaks them for the sake of the plot. It gets frustrating when characters can suddenly do things, just once, that they couldn't do before, or are stopped from doing what they've been able to do in the past. Ok. Not great, but isn't completely terrible, either.


BTW - did anyone else think that Janie's online advisor was Theo's long-lost twin?

Rating: 3/5

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