Monday, August 11, 2014

Ghost House

Ghost House
by Alexandra Adornetto

Just days after her mother suddenly dies, Chloe's grandmother takes her and her brother away from their home and their father and brings them back with her to England.  They wind up in a renovated mansion in the English countryside, away from distractions, including WiFi.

Now Chloe has nothing much to pass the time except a few horses, helping around the house, and chatting with the ghosts that haunt the home.

Because suddenly, without her mother to give her the strength she needed, Chloe's "gift" for seeing the dead has come back full force.  

The good = Alexander Reade - 150-year-old ghost of a 23-year-old man who is very good looking and seems to really like Chloe.

The bad = Isobel Reade - 150-year-old ghost who was the wife of Alexander's brother and Alexander's secret lover in life.

The ugly = the story that lead to their deaths and Isobel's desire to destroy anyone who could come between her and Alexander.

If only Chloe could ignore the pull she feels to Alexander... 

Final thoughts: Adornetto just can't seem to get her writing up to snuff.  She interrupts a great story with information that comes out of the blue and is truly unnecessary.  There are errors everywhere. The characters are inane and unsympathetic.  Chloe turns 18, but often whines like she's 8. She's completely incompetent and does nothing to fight the events around her.  She doesn't even really talk a good game.  This could have been a fascinating and gripping story in almost anyone else's hands.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, July 21, 2014

Threats of Sky and Sea

Threats of Sky and Sea
by Jennifer Ellision

Bree Perdit had a pretty good life.  She helped her father run an inn in a tiny town at the northern end of the kingdom of Egria.  She chopped wood, watered ale, served patrons, and helped keep the bills paid.  To her, it was the perfect life.

When Bree accidentally overhears the conversation of Elemental Adepts in the forest outside her inn, she suddenly finds herself embroiled in politics she never knew existed.  She also finds out her father isn't who she thought he was.

Now Bree must survive court intrigues, political battles, and a king who is determined to conquer an island nation that controls the sea.  All he needs is the secret Bree's father has carried for years.  A secret even Bree will find impossible to believe.

Final thoughts: I was drawn into this one and kept reading, but part of the reason I did was simply because I was waiting and waiting for the very obvious secret to be revealed.  The "secret" was so obvious from very early in the book that it was difficult for me to understand how none of the characters could figure it out earlier.  I almost screamed at the book; it was so frustrating.  The romance between Bree and Caden seemed impossible, as well, since the author didn't really develop it so much as just declare late in the book that it was so.

Rating: 3/5

Madly, Deeply

Madly, Deeply
by Erica Crouch

As children, Annaleigh Wells didn't really like William Calloway.  They came from different classes and his wealth made him seem entitled and spoiled.

However, over time, Anna and Will became more than friends.  Their love was a love that was not to be denied.

When Will's mother died, his father abandoned him and his sister to the servants of their home.  The day Anna came back, after allowing him time for grief, she saved Will from making a horrible decision and sealed her own fate with the powers that surround everyone.

As their wedding day nears, Will's sister, Mary, tries to make everything perfect, hoping to avoid tragedy.  But fate is not that kind.

Can their love survive the worst that can happen?

Final thoughts: A modern novelization of Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee", the first half is pretty interesting.  However, around the second half, the story falls apart.  The focus changes from a love story to a grief story, with a final decision that just feels off.  It feels like it could have used a flash-forward or something like that.  It was a little unresolved.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Better Off Friends

Better Off Friends
by Elizabeth Eulberg

Macallan lost her mother in a tragic car accident just a few month ago.  Everywhere that Macallan goes, she gets sympathetic looks from her classmates and teachers.  It's exhausting especially when all she wants to do it focus on her schoolwork and forget her sadness.

Levi just moved to Wisconsin from California and had high hopes that he would start the new school year as the cool new kid.  Unfortunately, his pony tail makes him stand out in all the wrong ways and his love for a BBC comedy show confuses people.

When Levi and Macallan meet, they don't really connect until it turns out that Levi's favorite show is Macallan's favorite show.  Now someone thinks Levi is cool and someone doesn't look at Macallan with sad eyes.  They each now have that one person to trust, share secrets, and have inside jokes that no one else understands.

As time goes one, these BFFs become so close that everyone else assumes they are a couple, even when they're not.  Seriously!  A guy and a girl can be best friends without any romance, right?

Right?

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy fluff book.  This one is a teen rom-com with all the twists and turns.  The alternating points of view are nice, though the voices are basically the same either way.  Maybe it's a formatting issue with this NetGalley version, but the "conversations" at the end of each chapter between the two leads, as well as the alternating PoV in the final chapters became very confusing because there was no way to identify who was speaking.  Fun and fluffy with no real brain strain.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dead Beautiful

Dead Beautiful
by Yvonne Woon

On her birthday, Renée Winters spends time with her best friend, swoons over the guy who finally noticed her, and discovers the bodies of her parents.

A week after her birthday, Renée's grandfather forces her to move across the country to attend an exclusive boarding school in Maine. 

At Gottfried Academy, Renée studies Latin, Horticulture, Crude Sciences, and other subjects not normally seen in a high school curriculum.  There are also students not normally seen in high school like the extremely exclusive group of students who almost always speak fluent Latin to each other despite it being a dead language.

As Renée begins to get used to her classes, she also gets used to the presence of Dante.  He's the school recluse who speaks Latin like he was born to it, but also speaks to Renée like he can't stay away from her.

But Renée soon learns that there are many secrets at Gottfried and Dante may have the biggest one of all.

Final thoughts:  There's something that draws you in to this book, but nothing that really sticks when you're done.  It's messy, especially at the end.  There's a quote about soul mates at the beginning of the book, which actually has nothing to do with the relationship between Dante and Renée. (SPOILER:  They attracted because she was the person reborn with his entire soul, NOT because they share a soul.  That's COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than what is stated at the beginning and that opening is designed to confuse the reader, not add to the overall reading experience.SPOILER ENDED)  The last page was just weird and it felt like the author just wrote it after waking up one day and then forgot to edit it later.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, June 27, 2014

Almost

Almost
by Anne Eliot

Three years ago, Jess Jordan was almost raped.

Three years ago, Gray Porter almost testified to jail the senior who almost raped Jess.

Now, Jess is almost normal, at least to the outside world.

Now, Gray is almost ready to tell Jess the truth about what he knows.

But promised must be kept and bargains must be made.  

In order to convince her parents that she's normal, Jess decides to get a "pretend" boyfriend.  

In order to protect her from herself, Gray becomes Jess's "pretend" boyfriend. 

Now they are getting closer, both to each other and to the truth.

Final thoughts:  Very compelling story about the aftereffects of rape, even "almost rape".  While Jess was saved on the night of the party, her sanity wasn't and this book effectively puts the reader into the mind of the victim.  With the large number of rapes in this country, most of which go unreported, girls everywhere need a book like this to help them see that there is hope even if it takes years to get to it.  This is a good companion to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.  The only real problem I had with this was the unwillingness of the characters to prosecute the attacker.  "Protecting the victim" is a fairly lame excuse in this book and the dad's reaction in the hospital after the attack was the wrong one, especially his refusal to get his daughter tested for rufies and other drugs.  It furthers this story, but it's not a decision that should be promoted.

It is also a true shame that the cover looks like it was designed in the 70's by someone on psychedelic drugs.  A new cover could really help get this book into the hands of the people who need it.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, June 23, 2014

Broken

Broken
by Dean Murray

Adriana Paige's mother moved them both out to Utah for a fresh start after her father and sister died in a tragic car accident.  She also hoped that getting away from the familiar would help Adriana get past the constant memories that overwhelm her and cause panic attacks that can last for days.

It isn't too long before Adriana realizes that a new place to live doesn't mean a new start on life.  The panic attacks continue and often cause fainting spells.  She also starts having extremely lucid dreams about places that she has never seen.

At school, she meets and catches the eyes of the two boys who lead the two rival factions at the school.  Somehow, she goes from being neutral party to being the person caught in the middle.

Who will Adriana choose and will that side end up being the right one?

Final thoughts:  Show!  Don't tell!!!  Constant telling... again!  There was an extreme amount of laziness here as Murray seems to decide that it's easier to skip the things that might be hard and then just tell us what happened after.  This is especially true with the final conflict.  There is also a character introduced near the end who seems to only exist to help explain something that the reader doesn't even get to see in the climax.  It's frustrating and annoying how little is actually shown throughout the book.  The Twilight element is here, as well (again) with Adriana getting the nickname of Adri, even if she doesn't want it and it makes no sense.  She's got some secret power that no one understands, yet.  She's told it's too dangerous for her to know things and to get close to people.  She could get hurt.  But she pouts a bit and his love for her is so strong that she lets her do what she wants.  His love that is too strong, too dangerous, too inexplicable.  Why they love each other is never explained.  She suddenly loves him only because he saved her mother's job and not because she actually has any real feelings for him.  But they're in love... so that's all ok.  Avoid.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mine to Spell

Mine to Spell
by Janeal Falor

When Cynthia's oldest sister was freed and her father was defeated and imprisoned, Cynthia and the rest of her sisters thought they would finally be able to control their own destinies.  After a lifetime of being owned by her father and forced to suppress her natural abilities, Cynthia might finally be able to practice magic.

But things are never that easy.

When death threats start appearing during family gatherings, Cynthia realizes that she must sacrifice her own happiness and be sold to a new master in order to keep her family safe.

After the contract is signed, her new master takes her away and tries to steal her magic, so Cynthia fights back.  Suddenly she has made herself a free woman... and a target.

Her sister can't help her now; she must prove her ability on her own, though she does have the help of a very handsome stranger from another land.  

Now Cynthia has one chance to prove that women can be as strong and as powerful as the men of her country, or die trying.

Final thoughts:  This is a sequel and I read the first book awhile ago, so it took some time to get back in the swing.  I didn't love it like I remembered loving the first one.  I missed Serena and the switch to her sister's POV was disconcerting.  Cynthia had some good moments, but she was really all over the place.  I think the author was going for strong and sincere, but worried for her family, and instead Cynthia came off as never able to have a consistent thought or feeling.  She's naive and constantly doubting absolutely every thought, feeling, and decision she has or has made.  The middle of the book was good, but the beginning and end were weak.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Followers

Followers
by Anna Davies

Briana has just finished her first semester as a transfer student to a private school in Maine and it hasn't gone well.  Her mother has fond memories of being a social butterfly at MacHale, but Briana just can't seem to catch a break.

When she decides to stay around for winter term and audition for Hamlet, she hopes to really shine and maybe even become the popular girl she's always dreamed of being.  If she can be Ophelia, she can join the theatre kids and really get a social life that she can be proud of (and maybe shut her mother up).

However, when the director dies suddenly, the school decides to open the auditions to both MacHale students and the "townies" of Forsyth.  Suddenly, Briana has more competition than she can manage and she's left without a part.

To make her feel better, the director makes her the social media director and tells her to tweet the entire rehearsal process.  While not enthusiastic about it, Briana gives it a try only to find that someone is beating her to the news.  In fact, that person is tweeting events before they even happen... including murder.

Final thoughts:  Ugh.  So annoying.  Red herrings were dropped everywhere.  There's a recently discovered body of a girl who went missing twenty years before so there's the threat of a ghost story.  Red herring.  Bree's mother claims to have been a famous student at the school, but the only picture Bree finds has her mom in the back row while the soon-to-be-murdered student is performing, so is mom a murderer trying to force her daughter into the spotlight?  Nope.  Red herring.  There's a constant whodunit vibe, but nothing comes of it.  Everyone seems so uncaring about the deaths of people in the beginning.  Ms. Davies, please note that no one casts an understudy for a minor part, which Ophelia really is in the grand scheme of things, and then doesn't cast understudies for the 4-5 other parts that are really more important.  Ophelia needs an understudy/matinee actress, but Hamlet, the main guy, the one in EVERY SINGLE SCENE, doesn't need some sort of back-up?  Ummm... Nope.  There's also the annoying book jacket information, which is wrong.  No one hacks her account... ever.  The death referred to on the jacket is actually the third, not the first.  The tweet quoted isn't in the book.  Grr...  The ending is poorly done, sudden, and not very good.  It's really predictable even though it keeps trying to surprise the reader.  Not worth the time.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Proxy

Proxy
by Alex London

Knox is constantly getting into trouble.  He's been in trouble regularly since he was five.  But he's never been punished.

Syd has never been a troublemaker.  He's always tried to stay on the right side of things.  But he's always been punished.

Syd is Knox's proxy and Knox is Syd's patron.  When Knox does something wrong, Syd gets punished for it.  In turn, Knox's family pays for Syd's education and basic medical care.

Knox sees Syd get punished, but he doesn't stop it because he knows that's the system.  That's the way things are.

Syd has never seen Knox, but he knows that's the system.  He's just waiting for his debt to clear and his time to be served.

When Knox goes too far and Syd must suddenly take on a debt that's far too large, Syd makes the decision to leave the system.  He won't take this punishment for his patron.

He'll just take his patron.

Final thoughts:  This has a very interesting premise.  I enjoyed the ideas and the basic plot.  However, the point of view drove me nuts.  It didn't really fit any mode like third person limited or omniscient.  From paragraph to paragraph, the reader is shown one person's view and feelings and then the next person's with no warning or consideration.  I kept having to readjust throughout the entire book, which just frustrated me to no end.  So while the plot and ideas were original and interesting, the writing was just annoying.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sixth Grave on the Edge

Sixth Grave on the Edge
by Darynda Jones

It's just a normal week in the life of PI and Grim Reaper, Charley Davidson.

There's an old, naked, VERY well-endowed ghost riding in the front seat of her jeep.

There's a demon buying souls to eat and a desperate human who wants his back.

There's a looming threat on her life and the life of a friend.

And there's the steaming hot neighbor who is waiting for an answer to his simple yes/no question.

Nope!  Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Final thoughts:  Messy.  I LOVE Charley and her stories, but this one just seemed like an effort to remind readers of all the important characters, while setting up for the big final conflict.  Her dad and evil step-monster pop in for one plot set-up that doesn't get resolved here, but looks like it may in the next book.  The detective plot really is not much to work with.  There are a ton of B-, C-, and even D-plot things going on, but not much for the plot overall.  And I soooo predicted the final scene books ago.  Hopefully the next will be better since I really want to finish this series out with a bang and not a whimper.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale

The Stepsister's Tale
by Tracy Barrett

Ever since her father gambled away the family fortune and then ran off to die drunk and alone, Jane and her sister, Maude, have trying everything they can just to survive.  Their house is literally crumbling around them and their mother's mind is crumbling with it.  She insists that they continue to behave like ladies even though they are alone with no servants, no money, and no future.

When Mamma returns from a long journey with a new husband and a new stepdaughter, Jane has only slight hopes that things may get better.  When the new man in her mother's life dies suddenly, and it's discovered that he was deeply in debt, the sisters must not only find a way to survive the winter, they must also survive their spoiled new sibling.

With the help of a mysterious family in the woods, Jane may just get her family through the winter.

With the attention of the Prince of the Realm, Jane may just get rid of her spoiled problem.

Final thoughts:  Nah. Not worth it.  Barrett doesn't seem to have a grasp on the older teen mind, so what's written feels childish and petty.  Is Jane 17 or 12?  It's impossible to tell, especially when her younger sister reads like she's 6.  Who slaps someone just because a comb gets stuck in hair?  And how are we supposed to feel sympathy for that slapper?  The romance is nice enough and there are some interesting changes to the traditional Cinderella story, but no one comes out sympathetic or even likeable.  Even the cover looks like a Gossip Girl book.  It's bland overall.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, May 12, 2014

Wickedpedia

Wickedpedia
by Chris Van Etten

Everyone knows that Wikipedia is awesome!  If you need to get some information for a report, start with Wikipedia.  And if your teacher isn't very tech savvy, you can even lift information straight from the site and into your paper.

When Cole catches his rival (and ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend), Josh, cheating, he decides to play a little prank and make sure that his ex can see what a cheater Josh is.  By simply adding a few paragraphs to an entry on American serial killers, Cole sets a little trap that has Josh doing an oral report on Cereal Killers like Frank N. Berry, the Rise-and-Dine Killer.

After that stunt, Cole decides to go even further and write a few Wikipedia articles on his ex, her boyfriend, and a few more.  In his articles, he depicts them all at their worst and even includes a death for each one.

But everything changes when the first person dies... just like he wrote it.  When the next attack happens, Cole realizes that there are no coincidences.  Now he needs to figure out how to stop the killer before it's too late.

Final thoughts:  This had sooo much potential.  I was really into it.  And then it ended.  Really.  It just ended.  Huge climactic scene and then it just ends.  There's no real resolution.  No denouement.  Nothing.  Maybe there's a problem with my book?  Maybe it's missing the last chapter?  I hope so because otherwise the end is a massive disappointment.  This is an ARC, so there's still potential for that to get fixed, as well as the errors in grammar and a few name mistakes.  I enjoyed the story overall, but that ending... ugh.

On a side note, that book description online is WRONG.  There are things referenced that never happened.  Maybe they got edited out after the description was written.  Bad book jacket descriptions always bug me, so this is a personal pet peeve, but also important for the publisher to fix.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

Rating: 3/5 (would have been 4 if not for that ending)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Streetlights Like Fireworks

Streetlights Like Fireworks
by David Pandolfe

For most of his life, Jack has worked to hide his weirdness.  As the son of a prestigious lawyer from the firm of Atkinson, Atkinson and Atkinson, it wouldn't do for him to be outed as a kid with paranormal visions.

But for all his trying to hide it, his family has made it clear that he just doesn't fit in.  And it feels like his parents are always trying to push him away.  They even force him to go to summer camp, despite the fact that he's more than a little too old for it.

On a trip to the local guitar shop, Jack holds a Fender Telecaster guitar for a just a few moments, just enough time to touch the strings, when a vision of a rock singer fills his mind and tells him to bring the guitar back to her.

With his family fearing him and his friends in the dark about what he can do, Jack feels like he has no other choice than to approach the town outcast, Lauren, who has her own freaky history.  Once together, they start on a journey that will change everything.

Final thoughts:  Decent read.  It's a coming of age story for the kid who doesn't quite fit in.  The paranormal doesn't really stand out, but some of the coincidences are strange.  The final resolution was a little predictable, but the ending was kind of a let-down, though it does set the stage for a sequel.  I'm not as enraptured as other reviewers appear to be, but I can definitely recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fighting for Infinity

Fighting for Infinity
by Karen Amanda Hooper

For months, Maryah has been trying to figure out what made her previous incarnation, Mary, decide that all of her memories of all of her previous lives must be erased.  What was so horrible that erasing her history and torturing the love of her existence was her only option?

She's about to find out.

Unfortunately, the only way to solve the mystery is to be the prisoner of the one person she hates the most.  Dedrick's been obsessed with Mary and all of her incarnations for centuries.  He also thinks he has almost everything he needs to become a literal god among men.  

He just needs one more thing.

And only Mary knew where it was.

Can Maryah figure it all out before it's too late?

Final thoughts:  FINALLY!  A satisfying end to a trilogy.  The final book has everything it needs and almost nothing that it doesn't.  While there are moments that felt out of place, the overall story was well-paced and exciting.  My only real issue comes with the last chapter, but it's too spoilerish to put here.

Rating: 4/5

ARC provided by NetGalley 

Update:  I just had a moment of true giddiness!  A hidden gem I just found during my re-read of the book (having started from the first one and gone straight through) about 39% in:
   Nathan stared up at the sky.  "My old friend Wil used to say, 'It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.'"
   I grabbed Nathan's knee.  "I'm having déjà vu. Maybe I'm remembering Wil from a previous life. No, wait, maybe not. I think that's a Shakespeare quote."
   "Right. He was famous for his writing in that life."
   My eyes bugged.  "You knew William Shakespeare?"
   He smugly winked. "Still do."
   I gaped at him and tugged his shirt. "Who is he now?"
   "I'm not at liberty to say, but he's been in a few movies and on television. One of his series even had a star in the name. Funny how our origins stay connected with us no matter how different each lifetime is.  He's still sharing stories with the world, just in a different way than when he was Shakespeare.  You'd be surprised how many gifted souls there are roaming this world."
   William Shakespeare reincarnated. My father would have been beside himself. "Does he have a soul mate?"
   "He and Anne have been together through thick and thin."
   "That's so cool.  In a way Shakespeare is still alive."
   Nathan leaned back on his elbows. "Yes, older and wiser."

So... Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stand By Me is the reincarnation of William Shakespeare?  COOL!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Allegiant

Allegiant
by Veronica Roth

With the truth about their city finally revealed, Tobias and Tris now make the difficult decision to go past the fence that surrounds Chicago and find out what the world is really like.

And it's nothing they could have ever prepared themselves for.

Not only is Chicago not the only city, it's not even the only city that's being used as an experiment.  It turns out that genetic testing created a new breed of haves and have-nots: Genetically Pure (GP) and Genetically Damaged (GD).

Chicago was the first truly successful experiment to try and manipulate the GDs to eventually become GPs.  What are known in the city as Divergent are really the genetics of the GDs finally mutating back to GP.  Tris is the most pure of the GPs and is considered by many outside the fence to be the best hope for the future.

However, Tris doesn't really like the future that is planned, where GDs are subjugated and considered to be inferior to GPs.  

She knows she's got to change the future at any cost.

Final thoughts:  Wow.  That was not how I saw the series going.  This is a complete 180 from what I thought was going to happen and I'm not sure how I feel about it, esp. the not so subtle race metaphors.  Also, there's been a tendency recently in YA Lit to present the love interest's point of view (I blame Stephenie Meyer and the unfinished "Midnight Sun" for that), and this book continues that trend with Tobias having at least half of the book told from his point of view.  I'm not sure I like it.  I missed Tris.  Though there is a good reason for the need by the end of the book, I wish that change in format wasn't there.  I'm good with the book but disappointed with the series overall.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Insurgent

Insurgent
by Veronica Roth

The simulation that took the minds of the Dauntless has ended.  Most of the Abnegation are dead in the streets.  Those who survived are on the run.  And Tris must face the horrible truths of the deaths caused by her own hand.

The few remaining Dauntless, now free of the simulation's effects, must find allies where there may be none and they must find answers when others want only to be ignorant.

Will Tris and Tobias find the truth or will their world come crumbling down before what's real and what's simulation can be truly identified.

Final thoughts:  OMG!  It's an M. Night Shyamalan ending!  Are you freaking kidding me?!?!  Seriously?  Come ON!  So very frustrating!

I started off a little bugged because this book started off right after Divergent, which is a book I haven't read since it came out, so it's been a while and I've forgotten almost all of it.  Most sequels have a chapter or two to get you back into the swing of things and remind you about the plot, but this just dumps the reader in and basically yells, "SINK OR SWIM, BABY!"  Needless to say, I sank a little.  By the time I came up and started really swimming, I was into the story, but it felt forced.  The chemistry between Beatrice/Tris and Tobias/Four just wasn't as amazing as I (kind of) remembered.  Tris seems to have some sort of death wish, a la Bella Swan, including walking into a situation where she's pretty much guaranteed to die.  She lies constantly to the love of her life and feels bad about it, but never changes anything.  Tobias tends to be more than a little possessive and controlling, and yet still doesn't really get much done.  I'm glad I finally read it, but the ending especially just made me groan and glare at the sky in frustration.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fiance by Fate

Fiancé by Fate
by Jennifer Shirk

Sabrina is more than a little superstitious.  She tosses spilled salt over her shoulder.  She checks her horoscope.  She looks for signs everywhere.  And she meets with psychics to get answers to some of her biggest problems.

Her current problem is that her fiancé, the man who proposed on the anniversary of her parents' tragic death in a fatal car accident (that's GOT to be a sign, right?), has put their engagement on hold while he works things out for himself.

When Jack Brenner, son of her boss and the 3rd most eligible bachelor of Boston, shows up in her life, there are signs there, too.  Of course, they're all pointing away from him, but Jack's got a proposal for Sabrina that may be just what she needs.

Pretend to be his girlfriend to get his father off his back and he'll make sure her ex is so jealous that he begs for Sabrina to come back to him.

Sounds simple.  But the simple plans are usually the ones that get the most complicated.

Final thoughts: Pure cotton candy.  There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this book except that it takes you away from reality for a while.  There's a lot of telling instead of showing and some of it is just completely unbelievable, but it still has a hook and is basically just brain candy.  Don't look for anything here that will change the world; you're really just reading a rom-com.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, April 25, 2014

Audacious

Audacious
by Gabrielle Prendergast

Raphaelle
Named after the archangel
Not an angel at all
Thought by many to be the devil

Trying to be some
thing
one
else

Finds love
Finds heartbreak
Finds family

Loses freedom
Loses normalcy
Loses God

Her story
In verse

Final thoughts: Simple verses tell a powerful story that really should be read in one sitting.  Raphaelle has a number of serious issues to deal with including her father's emotional distance, her mother's bulemia, her brother's early death, her sister's asthma, and a whole lotta other things that go wrong because she's constantly to trying to be someone different to get away from her memories of the past.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fashionably Dead Down Under

Fashionably Dead Down Under
by Robyn Peterman

She'd just saved the world so you'd think Astrid would get a break... but, noooooo... she had to get dragged down to hell to meet her uncle, Satan.

Now she has to find a magical sword that can kill any True Immortal, solve a few crimes, stop her crazy grandmother (Mother Nature) from having tantrums that could literally destroy the world, and find a way to make sure the Vampyre love of her life doesn't turn to dust while visiting her in Hell.

It's just a day in the life of the Chosen One.

Final thoughts: Messy.  Too many jokes and not enough development.  One of the things that bothered me with the first book was that everything happened so quickly.  This book is worse.  It's like the story's on crack.  Problems are solved almost as soon as they're mentioned.  Ethan could turn to dust if he doesn't get out of Hell in a week?  Fine!  Have grandma stop time on Earth.  Problem solved.  Demon sets off a magical disaster in the dining room?  Fine!  Talk a few minutes and it's solved.  Jokes fly left and right about Hell and what it looks like, but there's just no time to develop it all.  This one book could have been so much more detailed, and could have been split into two or three to do it, if necessary.  I also missed some of the great characters from the first book who don't even get a mention in this one.  Plus the chemistry between Ethan and Astrid was completely gone this time.  I'm disappointed.

Rating: 2/5

The Conduit

The Conduit
by Stacey Rourke

After a series of break-ins at their home, Celeste Garrett's mother sends Celeste, her sister, Kendall, and her brother, Gabe, off to live with their grandmother until she can sell the house and join them.  And while they're old enough to go out on their own, they'd rather stick together for now, especially since the tragic death of their father.

So now Celeste is living with her siblings and her you're-only-as-old-as-you-feel grandmother, and she's taking the time to figure out what she wants in life.

But life has a way of figuring out what it wants before you do.

When Celeste accidentally activates her own destiny via a family heirloom, she and her siblings suddenly become the only people alive who can stop the oncoming demon assault.  As "the conduit", Celeste is the key to saving the world and the world really needs her right now.

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy fantasy-ish book.  While Celeste is supposed to be 18, her "voice" comes off much younger, but that doesn't stop the fun.  Overall, it's a decent read with a few hiccups and a few truly funny moments.  It's not perfect, but it's a pretty interesting ride for a few hours.  Side note: it's a little confusing having Kendall on the cover when Celeste is the center of the story, the POV, and the protagonist.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pawn

Pawn
by Aimée Carter

Kitty Doe has been raised to believe that everyone has an even chance.  With a simple test, every citizen can prove her worth and become a productive member of society.

One test leads to one tattoo and that tattoo means everything.  A II or III works menial labor.  A IV has a shot at mid-level jobs.  A V or VI can rise to the ranks of the powerful.  A I is removed from the population and sent "Elsewhere".  And a VII... a VII is the highest rank belonging only to the Prime Minister and his family.

When Kitty fails her test and ends up as a III, she knows that life will never be the same.

When Daxton Hart, the Prime Minister, shows up and offers her the chance to be a VII, Kitty realizes that it's her one chance to be more than just a number.  Or at least her one chance to be more than just Her number.

What Kitty doesn't realize is that she's going to have to be someone else and change everything about herself, whether she's willing or not.  And just days after she agrees, she becomes Lily Hart, niece of the Prime Minister, as she's been surgically changed to looked exactly like the murdered Hart girl.

Her job now is to end the rebellion that Lily started or more than just her life is at stake.

Final thoughts:  OK start to a dystopian plot even if it plods along a bit.  There are far too many twists and turns to keep them all straight easily and it's nearly impossible to figure out who is who or who is on who's side.  Some of the future described is actually fairly realistic, but it's not very engaging.  Decent, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lennon's Jinx

Lennon's Jinx
by Chris Myers

Lennon
  • Looks like the quintessential "bad boy with a heart of gold".  
  • Hooks up with girls because he can, but doesn't want to be tied down.
  • Famous parents who both have serious issues.
  • Adorable younger sister.
  • Uses music to get away from his problems.

Jinx
  • Afraid of men since an incident three years before.
  • Has an evil Step-Monster who rats her out to her mom on a regular basis.
  • Parties a little too hard.
  • Still in love with her ex.
  • Uses music to get away from her problems.

Together
  • They are able to bridge the gaps in their lives to find something real.
  • They take care of each other.
  • Find better futures.

Final thoughts:  Not very realistic for realistic fiction.  The situations are odd and I just can't understand why people would think Jinx is the "good girl/virgin" when she's such a heavy party-goer.  She regularly gets drunk and keeps a stash of "but it's medicinal" marijuana in her house.  The sheer amount of alcohol served to these seventeen year-olds is astounding.  Even the "responsible" adults let them drink wine.  And, I'm sorry, but there is NO WAY a doctor is going to let a 17-year-old make life or death medical decisions for his little sister when 1) the guy is NOT an emancipated minor, and 2) the birth parents are standing right there.  It's an interesting read while you're in it, but may not be worth the effort of reading the next ones.  Melodramatic and yet bland at the same time.

Rating: 3/5

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