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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Glass Sword

 
Glass Sword
by Victoria Aveyard

Mare, Cal, and the rest of the Scarlet Guard are on the run from the Silvers who are after them.

There isn't time to think.

There's barely time to breathe.

There's almost to time to run.

Maven is after them, after Mare, and he will do anything to destroy all that Mare loves.

Final thoughts: I LOVED Red Queen. I have given it high praise to everyone who asks. But this is really, really, really not even close to it in quality. It's repetitive and banal. Mare is completely unrelatable throughout. There are the annoying things like the first chapter or two in which Mare repeatedly thinks about Julian and Sara probably being dead. Over and over it comes up, to the point where it's like a blaring sign saying, "It's a setup! He's NOT dead!!!" And that kind of thing happens so often, it becomes dull to read. I had to fight to finish this one. The changing of city/location names was a little distracting, as well. The country is Norta (North America), they are leaving Naercy (New York City), they visit Delphie (Philadelphia), and they talk about Wash (Washington, D.C.).
What I hate most though is Mare's self-awareness. She is overly aware of everything and keeps talking about how no one can be trusted, how important she is the cause, and how she must remain safe, sacrificing others for herself. It's a high level of ego that is not pretty to watch/read. What made characters like Katniss and Tris pretty dang amazing is that they never thought of themselves as indispensable; they were protagonists who just wanted to keep those that they loved safe and get rid of those who would put them in harm's way. Mare is not like that at all. She's vain and self-serving, leaving even her own brother behind because she can't risk exposure and she's too important to lose.
There were a few decent moments, but it was just not as good.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, February 22, 2016

Grave Visions

Grave Visions
by Kalayna Price

Things just don't get any easier for Alex Craft.

Ever since she found out she was part Fae, she's been struggling to catch up her knowledge so that she can survive in Faerie as well as she's done in the mortal world (or better, since she's still not great at all that human stuff either).

But she's running out of time.

Ever since the last of her protection spells and glamours were broken, Alex has become more and more reliant on Faerie to survive. She's Fading and she needs to choose a court soon, or she will die.

While trying to figure out exactly what to do with her own life, she's called in to figure out exactly who is murdering Fae, while also trying to figure out what is killing humans and leaving no evidence behind.

Both cases are dangerous. Combined, they are deadly.

Final thoughts: It's been a while since Price has written a Craft novel. This was decent, but Alex herself has changed. She seemed different from her portrayals in the first three books, and her inability to take charge and really do what needs to be done was a little annoying. We also didn't get enough of Death this time around, and a little too much of Falin. Decent read, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

Fire Touched

Fire Touched
by Patricia Briggs

Ever since the Fae locked themselves away from everyone after a huge injustice against them, it's been getting more and more tense. Especially since, when the Fae left, they didn't exactly take everyone with them, leaving a few behind to cause trouble.

In the middle of it all, the werewolves, who have been working to maintain peace with both humans and Fae, though maybe not fighting one against the other. 

As the mate of the most visible werewolf pack, Mercy has watched her husband placate the human media, keep in line with the Marrok of the werewolves, and keep an eye on the Fae. His job is made harder by his and Mercy's choices for their own pack.

But things go from tense to breaking when a troll attacks a bridge in Mercy's territory and she calls out to everyone that that territory will be defended against everyone who tries to take it or harm those in it.

Now they have a human with rare powers, a vampire and his Fae friend, and more calling every day, who ask for shelter.

Tense is definitely an understatement.

Final thoughts: Not the best Mercy Thompson book, but definitely good. Maybe I was so excited to read it that I rushed it, or maybe it was rushed, because the end just kind of arrived and I wasn't ready for it. I like seeing the growth and change of all the Fae, and Mercy truly is becoming a part of the pack. I get why Adam is protective of her, but he's also grown enough to know not to get in her way. Overall, it's a solid next step in the series.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Sword of Summer

The Sword of Summer
by Rick Riordan

For two years, Magnus Chase has lived the life of a homeless kid because that's what he is. Two years before, Magnus's mother was killed by wolves in their apartment in Boston. She sacrificed herself to save her son and he's lived on the streets ever since with the help of Blitz and Hearth, two other homeless men who keep Magnus safe and teach him the tricks he needs to survive.

When Magnus's uncle suddenly starts searching for him, two years after he became homeless, Magnus learns that he's more than just some random homeless kid; he's the son of a Norse god and his destiny is greater than he could ever have believed.

Of course, destiny can be a real pain in the... Anyway... Destiny causes Magnus quite a bit of pain; the first pain being the pain of dying.

Yes. Magnus has to die to face his destiny. But dying is only the first step.

Final thoughts: I liked this one, but it honestly lacked the flow of some of Riordan's other books. Someone mentioned in another review of this book that it's like an information dump, and that sounds about right. With Percy Jackson, most people started reading that series already knowing the basics about Greek mythology, so the story could just flow without much help regarding the history. However, Magnus Chase is the son of a much less well known Norse god and the stories of Norse mythology are not nearly so prolific. Much of this book is filled with hints of stories or outright retellings of those myths. More than once, I found myself putting the book down to go look up a myth or mythological character, so that didn't help much with the flow of the story, either. Additionally, as has been pointed out by other reviewers, Magnus's voice is very similar to Percy's. Their histories are pretty similar, as well, so it can get frustrating that they sound the same. Not all teens are snarky with witty comebacks, even if those comebacks are only in their heads and indicated to the readers. Can we have a different kind of teen, please? Let's have a voice change.  All that being said, the story is solid and the building of the worlds is kind of cool. Special kudos to Riordan for his portrayal of Loki. You, Mr. Riordan, actually had me believing him and feeling sorry for him.

Rating: 3/5


Monday, January 25, 2016

Scent of Magic

Scent of Magic
by Lori L. Clark
 
Three sisters who are constantly moving each time someone decides that their handmade fragrances are signs of witchcraft move to a town and immediately begin making fragrances that people say are infused with witchcraft.

Final thoughts: I can't like this book. It's like an extended storyboard or outline for a book, but not really a book itself. It also can't seem to make up its mind. In the beginning, there seems to be the implication that the girls aren't really witches, but rather people with extrasensory perceptions. However, later it's revealed that they have a huge spell book handed down from generation to generation and kept in a safe. Make up your mind, please. Business is down one moment and then booming the next. Time flies sometimes and then crawls at others. And would someone please DESCRIBE something?!?! I have no idea what anyone looks like beyond hair color. I just can't really seem to care about these outlines of characters because there is nothing beyond that outline. Everything, including the plot, is superficial. Avoid this one until the author actually deigns to write it completely.

Rating: 1/5
 
ARC Courtesy of NetGalley

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dirt on the Ninth Grave

Dirt on the Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones

Lost and confused in Sleepy Hollow, NY, Jane Doe has no idea where she comes from or who she is. All she knows is that it has been a month and no one has come to find her even though she wears a HUGE diamond on her left finger.

Seriously! A guy wanted her badly enough to put a very possibly million dollar ring on it and he then just ignores the fact that she's gone?!?! Who does that?

Though she doesn't know who she is or where she comes from, she does know quite a bit of pop culture, which is weird considering the amnesia and all. She also names her furniture and body parts, and she seems to get into dangerous situations without even trying.

And while she doesn't know who her past friends may be, she does have quite a few who have shown up in her life, including the VERY hot (both literally and figuratively) new short-order cook at the restaurant where she's working.

She also sees ghosts. A LOT of ghosts. They are kind of everywhere.

Even with amnesia, Jane knows that she's not supposed to see the dead; but there they are!

Now if only she could get her memory back and maybe jump the bones of the hottie in the kitchen while she's at it.

Final thoughts: Charley may not know who she is, but she is still the same spunky, strong-willed character she ever was. She also finds herself in quite a bit of trouble with a creepy police officer who seems to think she's dating him and an antiques dealer who seems to be danger. There are still plenty of clever remarks and witty comebacks, as well as a complex story, but it was a little annoying to have one of the bad guys from previous books return (kind of). We learn something about Charley that kind of feels like Jones is setting up for future deus ex machina type saves, but it doesn't hurt this particular book. Good read and good continuation of the series.

Rating: 4/5

ARC from NetGalley

Monday, December 28, 2015

Firsts

Firsts
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Mercedes had a First Time that was truly horrible. Now she's determined to make the Firsts of other girls at her high school as perfect as they can be. And she does this by "tutoring" the girls' boyfriends.

Her only requirement is that her time with the boyfriend is that boyfriend's First Time. 

Mercedes teaches virgin guys how to be their best.

She starts out with just a few boys and a ton of good intent. Her "sessions" include how everything from the events of the date on that night, to how to speak to their girlfriends, to how to make sure that those girlfriends have the best time possible in all ways.

In the beginning, it works as planned. The guys keep her a secret and the girls speak of their Firsts with joy.

But things get out of control and strange as more and more guys show up to ask Mercedes from help and not all of them really seem to be honest about what they want.

Things are unraveling quickly and Mercy doesn't know how to make it all just stop.

Final thoughts: This is a realistic fiction story about a girl who suffered some seriously messed up stuff in her life (at 13) and she is now trying to control her world the only way she knows how. Sex is Mercy's control and she's desperate to keep control of things. She loves chemistry because it always makes sense; humans are too difficult to predict and Mercy is really bad at human interactions. She believes that her sessions with virgin boys is honestly something good for them and their girlfriends. Her reasoning may be confusing to some, but makes sense esp. to those who have also suffered similar events in their past. This book isn't graphic about sex, but it is pretty open about it, so it's for more mature readers.

Rating: 3/5

ARC Received from NetGalley

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails