Monday, December 30, 2013

The Mageri Series

Dannika Dark

The Mageri Series
by Dannika Dark

Zoë Merrick had always been a little bit of an outsider. She was the only child of a mother who basically ignored her.  She has a smart mouth that has gotten her into more than a little trouble. And she has a strange ability to shock people with her fingers without even trying.  Being born on a plane in a lightning storm can do that to a person.

One night, she's attacked and killed, only to wake up in a body bag and escape to the middle of nowhere.  That's when she meets Adam.

Hours later, she's safe, but no longer looks anything like she did, and now she's got new feelings and new abilities she never had before.

When she meets Justus de Gradi, he reveals that she is now Mage.  She has a light within her that can be used as a weapon, but is also like a drug to other Mages.  She must learn how to manage her powers and defend herself from those who would harm her.

She has a long, difficult road ahead of her. She gets a new name, Silver, to go with her new life. When she meets Logan Cross, she finds the man sent to kidnap her who finds that he can't live without her.

Her immortal life will never be the same.

Final thoughts: This is an addicting series with a number of interesting twists and turns.  The first four books are solid, but the fifth feels messy.  There seems to be a scramble at the end to tie up loose ends and explain events.  There is also a scene that's set up to connect the Mageri books to a novella set in the same world, but that scene just doesn't fit in the overall story and is never referred to again.  The one thing that bugged me throughout the books was the name of the city they're in: Cognito.  She literally named the city Cognito.  That just annoyed me, especially when there were sentences that made it become "in Cognito". 

Rating: 4/5 for the first four books.  2/5 for the last one.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cinderella Screwed Me Over

Cinderella Screwed Me Over
by Cindi Madsen

Darby Quinn has had her heart broken far too many times.  Bad relationships seem to be the norm for her, so she decides that she's had enough.  No more fairytale romances for her.  In fact, she's even written out a case study of each relationship, the corresponding Disney prince, and where and how each all went wrong, so that she can recognize the signs if she ever starts to fall in love again.

But she didn't count on meeting Jake Knight.

When Jake first enters her life, Darby thinks he's just like the other former princes in her life, but he's determined to prove her wrong.

Can this woman, who has declared love to be an unrealistic dream, find that it really exists?

Final thoughts: Cute fluff though sometimes frustrating.  Darby's bad history with men is really not that bad in the grand scheme of things. Many women have had much worse, so I'm not sure why these "princes" are so bad that it would cause her to swear off relationships altogether. I also can't really understand why Jake sticks around through Darby's yo-yo feelings.  However, the overall story is nice and Darby's friends and relatives redeem Darby herself.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, December 23, 2013

Princesses Don't Get Fat

Princesses Don't Get Fat
by Aya Ling

When Valeria, Princess of Amaranta turns sixteen, she's finally eligible for marriage.  When the day for her three suitors comes to challenge for her hand, they all work their hardest... to throw the contest.  None of them wants her after seeing her.

Princess Valeria is a big eater, in both senses of the word.

There's nothing Valeria likes more than a few cakes, cream puffs, and chocolates.

So, in order to help her daughter lose a little weight, and maybe gain a husband, Valeria's mother sends her to the Academy in Riviera to train her to become a fighter... or a least help her get rid of a few pounds.

And the plan seems to be working, until Valeria finds her way to the kitchens.

How does an overweight princess fulfill her marital duty when all she really wants to do is eat?

Final thoughts: Cotton candy book all the way.  You don't take this one seriously at all.  It's fluffy and sweet, though not intellectually "filling" at all.  It's just cute, though it has flaws.  The point of view keeps changing and the character development is rather shallow, but it's still a quick, fun read.  The bonus "Princes Don't Bake" isn't great, but continues the story decently.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 20, 2013

When Love Comes to Town

When Love Comes to Town
by Tom Lennon

It's the 90's in Dublin, Ireland, and Neil Byrne is finally becoming who he was always meant to be.  He's finishing his exams and preparing for his future.

He's also preparing to live as a gay man instead of hiding as a gay teen.

For the first time in his life, Neil starts to go out and meet other gay men to try and figure out this society that's eluded him all this time, but in which he feels he belongs.

Surrounded by family and school friends who constantly disparage gays and tell off-color jokes, Neil's more than a little afraid of what will happen if the truth gets out.

But what will happen to his heart and soul if he never is true to himself?

Final thoughts:  Interesting take on the problems of one teen coming to grips with his own being, as well as the fears and prejudices of those around him.  Just twenty years after it was written, it's hard to imagine what it must have been like for a teen in heavily Catholic Ireland before social media and cell phones, let alone what it must have been like for a gay teen.  Sadly, Neil is never really a sympathetic character and the constant interior monologues, especially toward the end, become difficult to follow.  It felt more like the author didn't want to take the time to describe certain scenes, so he just had Neil stream-of-consciousness monologue those moments. OK for today's teens, but probably much more impactful when it was originally written in 1993.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


by Tom Leveen

It's just after 11 on a Tuesday morning and the biggest decision Brian has to make is whether or not to go to his fourth period class.

Nine hours later, everything is different.

In just nine short hours, Brian's life has completely changed.  His school has completely changed.  The world has completely changed.

In just nine hours, nothing is the same... especially not Brian.

Final thoughts: Ignore the publisher's tagline.  That will just disappoint you.  This is not The Breakfast Club or The Walking Dead.  This is insanity on the high school campus in ways never seen before and with a sly little wink at Twilight.  There are a few moments of extra information awkwardly jammed in to help the author explain things like the layout of the school or the progression of the disease, and Kenzie's medical history doesn't quite fit, but these are nitpicks in a pretty decent story. Don't try and take this one seriously; just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Please note that the chapter start illustrations are very much a part of the story and fun to watch progress.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge

The Boy on the Bridge
by Natalie Standiford

It's 1982 and Laura is living her dream.  She's staying in Leningrad, learning all about Russia, while living there for a semester abroad.

She's also learning that much of what has been said about the Communist nation is true.

The KGB does listen in and watch people.  The black market is thriving with illicit and illegal American items.  There are purists and others who will turn you in to the KGB in a heartbeat, if only to avoid getting arrested themselves.

However, there's also beautiful poetry, amazing music, and romance.

When Laura meets a handsome man outside of her dorm, she finds the love she's always dreamed of.

But is her love true, or does he have an ulterior motive?

Final thoughts:  Very bland and kind of boring.  Too much time was spent by Standiford talking about Russia, including the language, the culture, and the food.  It felt as if she was showing off all of her research instead of focusing on the characters and the story.  Laura was annoying and Alyosha just didn't spark anything.  I kept putting this book down and only picked it up again reluctantly.

Rating: 2/5


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