Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion
by Rosalyn Eves

Access to magic equals access to power. 

Anna can't access magic so she can't access power. 

But even without access to magic, Anna seems to be able to mess up everyone else's magic. 

After ruining her older sister's coming out party and accidentally destroying all of the magic in the room, Anna leaves for Hungary to try and save her family's name and to get away from the danger her lack of magic presents for them.

But running away to Hungary does more to put Anna at the front of the magic rebellion than to hide her from it. She's being watched. She's being hunted. And she's being courted by people who want free access to all magic.

Her talent, or apparent lack of it, may be the one thing that opens up the binding that regulates magic and frees the people to be able to access it no matter what their family names may be.

Final thoughts: Messy. This one was just messy from start to finish. There were a couple of ideas that had promise, but the extended metaphor was forced and shoved down the throats of the readers. I feel no need to read the next two in the planned trilogy and I feel bad for those who read the back cover and think this will be any good.

Rating: 2/5

ARC provided by NetGalley

H2O

H2O
by Virginia Bergin
 
On a hot day in England, people all go outside to hang out with friends and try to cool down. When the rain comes, they are happy to see it.

Until it starts falling on them.

Previously the giver of life, this new rain is a killer... literally.

A bacterium that had been hidden in an asteroid that was destroyed before it could hit the earth has finally reached the atmosphere. It loves water. It thrives in water. And it's raining down on every human on earth.

As the bodies of the people she knew start falling along with the bodies of all of the strangers around her, Ruby manages to survive. She's running out of food and she can't trust the water to drink it, so she's also running out of options.

Now Ruby has to figure out where to go, how to get there, and who to trust on the way.

Final thoughts: This book had some great moments, but that's really what it was; it was a series of moments. Ruby is not very likeable and she never seems to learn. She keeps making the same mistakes over and over. She keeps making the same poor choices over and over. How she manages to live as long as she does is completely coincidental and senseless. Maybe the next book will be better, but I'm not sure if I'll rush out to read it.

Rating: 3/5

Shooter

Shooter
by Caroline Pignat
 
Locked in the boys' restroom, five students hide from a possible shooter at their high school.

Each student has a different story.

Each student has a different problem.

Each student has a connection.

One of them may know who is dangerous.

One of them may be able to stop the shooter.

One of them may be running out of time.

All of them need to work together to survive.

Final thoughts: Tight read that starts slowly and builds in tension and timing. This is not just about a school shooting; this is about people and how they are connected even when they think they aren't. This about high school and all of the nuances in the relationships between everyone within.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Songs About a Girl

Songs About a Girl
by Chris Russell

Charlie Bloom has never been popular. She's never even dreamed of being in the popular crowd because she knows how far away from that life she is. As long as she can live behind the lens of her camera, she's happy.

When she gets the email from a former schoolmate, a boy who is now world famous in the boy band Fire&Lights, she is suddenly thrust into the popular world. He wants her to take pictures of the band backstage to have them uploaded to their website.

Charlie knows that it's crazy a life that the boys live, but she's not ready for the crazy that is lead singer Gabriel West. She's also not ready for the moment when she realizes that the words of his songs are also the words from her mother's journals. And when she's thrust from anonymity into the spotlight, can she handle her new life?

Final thoughts: This was the book that I kept putting down. I finished it eventually, but I wasn't really impressed. The last chapter also took me from a single book to a semi-cliffhanger into a series that I didn't know I was reading. It's ok if you like this kind of book, but I just didn't really feel it.

Rating: 3/5

If I wake

If I Wake
by Nikki Moyes

Each year, on her birthday, Lucy goes into a coma. While her mother and her doctors search for a reason for her annual comas, Lucy goes on an adventure through time.

On her first trip, she's with a tribe of early humans, helping them to survive and even teaching them how to make a bow and arrow. When she dies protecting her friend, she wakes up in the hospital, covered with rashes where she was attacked before she died in her past.

Each time after, she meets the same boy with the same family around him. She realizes that her job in all of these lives is to keep that boy alive. She saves him each year with each trip in time.

In the present time, she is bullied constantly. Her life at home isn't great, but her life at school is horrible. She's running out of time for herself. Lucy simply doesn't believe that there is reason to go on, especially when her last birthday may mean one more chance to save the boy she cares for.

Final thoughts: Decent read. I wasn't fully drawn in to her world and the first time trip was a little shocking, especially because I still can't understand how it was so easy for her to just live in that world with little to know confusion on her part. That first trip, she just started living there as if she'd always been there. The final time trip was odd and the aftermath of that last trip felt forced and didn't quite work for me, but it was OK overall.

Rating: 3/5

The Adventures of Katie Button

The Adventures of Katie Button

by Lizzie Koch

 
Katie's been having the weirdest dreams. In her dreams, she is always with the same man, but always in a different period of time. Her man is a highwayman one dream and a royal the next. She's always head over heels in love, but something always goes tragically wrong. In her dreams, either she or her man nearly always die.

When Katie meets James, she's astonished because he's literally the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to recognize her. He also doesn't seem to have the same pull on her heart. His brother though... he's definitely someone she can spend some time with.

Will her dreams rule her heart?

Final thoughts: Eh. Just eh. OK to kill some time, but not really worth it. Some of the logic of past lives makes no sense and even the author can't really explain away the fact that two of those lives were only 5 years apart (Titanic and WWI). Her concert dream makes no sense and her reaction makes even less sense. So... eh.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When It's Real

When It's Real 
by Erin Watt
 
Oakley Ford may be one of the most famous singers in the world, but he's also one of the most infamous singers. He's got a major image problem and that is getting in the way of him working on his next album with one of the best producers in the biz.

Vaughn is the ultimate good girl who finished school early in order to get a job to help out her sister after their parents died. She's got a boyfriend and a very clean reputation.

She's perfect.

Oakley's PR team selects Vaughn to be his fake girlfriend for a year (and $20k a month) in order to help his image and her family.

Vaughn's current BF is willing to go along at the beginning, but it's tense.

Things start getting more and more confusing as Vaughn sees more in Oakley than a spoiled brat and Oakley starts seeing Vaughn as more than just a snotty prude.

Final thoughts: Eh. This is a combination YA/NA book, so it may not be appropriate for everyone. This new trend of girls dating/fake dating/not knowing their social media dating celebrities is already getting tired and cliche. This book did move along at a decent pace, but the end was strangely rushed and felt a little empty. There is also an obvious story line left for a possible sequel, but it's not a cliffhanger or anything. Vaughn's BF was a jerk from the first moment and there was absolutely no chemistry there, so it's very difficult to believe that they were together for 2 years. And that final conflict was ridiculous. But if you can suspend reality on those things, you may enjoy this. If nothing else, it's cotton candy for the mind.

Rating: 3/5
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In Some Other Life

In Some Other Life
by Jessica Brody

Kennedy "The Closer" Rhodes made a decision just over three years ago that put her on course to resurrect the school newspaper, become editor-in-chief, win prestigious awards, and set her course to Columbia University to major in Journalism.

That decision was essentially choosing a guy over the most coveted spot in Windsor Academy, a prep school that has an 89% acceptance rate to Ivy League schools. For the last three years, she's never regretted her decision. She's got a fantastic best friend, a great boyfriend, and an amazing high school journalism career.

Until she catches her best friend and her boyfriend making out.

Now she wonders about her decision. She wonders if things would be better if she'd chosen the school instead.

Then she falls... literally.

When she wakes, she's now Kennedy "The Crusher" Rhodes, who crushes at everything she does. She's top of her class at Windsor Academy. She never worked the school paper. She never dated that guy. She never lost her best friend.

Everything is similar, but different. Now Kennedy has the chance to redeem her choice from three years before and be the girl she's always wondered if she could be. But it looks like The Crusher has a lot more secrets and a lot to hide.

Final thoughts: Cotton candy "Sliding Doors" type of book. Flowed pretty well, but VERY predictable. That predictability doesn't make it an impossible read, but it can get frustrating when the lead can't see what is so obvious to the reader.

Rating: 3/5

ARC provided by NetGalley 


Friday, March 10, 2017

Wesley James Ruined My Life

Wesley James Ruined My Life
by Jennifer Honeybourn

It's summer and Quinn has nearly reached her goal to fund her band trip to England. She's always wanted to go there and, with her English grandmother now in a hospice so that she can get care as she suffers from Alzheimer's, Quinn feels the need to go more than ever.

But Quinn's simple summer of band practice and working at Tudor Tymes becomes complicated when the boy she blames for ruining her parents' marriage returns to town after five years away. Not only is Wesley James back, but she can't seem to get away from him. He's everywhere.

Things go from bad to worse when her gambling father borrows her money to pay back a bookie and ends up making another bad bet instead. Now Wesley James is in band, making tons of money in tips at Tudor Tymes (while Quinn does all the work), and he's going to England, while Quinn stays home.

Basically, the guy who ruined her life is taking her life and leaving her behind to suffer.

But Quinn won't let him get away with it...

Final thoughts: Yet another cotton candy rom-com book. It's cute enough, but the ending feels rushed, like the author reached her word minimum at some point and just jammed in the last chapter or two with little regard to detail. This is an early ARC, so things might change, but that ending just felt a little off from the rest. On a separate note, that cover is really wrong. The food truck shows up only in the second half and it's a Tudor Tymes truck, so it's decorated to be medieval and Quinn even complains about having to wear her velvet costume inside, which means the 60's trailer vibe and current clothes aren't right. It's nit-picky on my part, but it bugs me all the same.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Geekerella

 Geekerella
by Ashley Poston

Elle lives for her favorite show, Starfield. Whenever she misses her parents, especially her father, she goes back to the Prospero and her crew for solace. And she really needs that solace. Her stepmonster is always making her do every chore in the house and her stepmonster's oldest daughter does everything she can to make Elle's life miserable outside the home. Word that Starfield is going from the small screen to the big screen has Elle ecstatic until she finds out who gets cast as the Commander.

Darien Freeman relies on Starfield to get him through the tough times filming the show that shot him to teen stardom. When's he's cast as the Commander of the Prospero, he knows that he has big shoes to fill, but he also knows that he's probably the best person to cast, simply because he knows the show so well. Unfortunately, there's a blogger out there who seems to be out to get him and hate everything he does. And now he's being told that he has to shake hands and sign autographs at the one con he's sworn to avoid.

When Elle meets Darien, she doesn't even know it. A few innocent texts begin a relationship that neither can believe is real, but both want to keep forever.

However, there are forces determined to block them, like an old-friend-turned-enemy, a stepmonster and her monstrous child, an interfering father, a blog, and the real world.

Final thoughts: Another cotton candy book. Nothing serious here except for serious geeking out over fan references. The geek is strong with this author. This being an ARC, there were a number of errors that I'm sure will be fixed in the final galleys, but I was confused by a few issues. For one, the house was left to Elle who is nearly of age, but her stepmonster is able to sell it?? I'm not sure that's actually legal. Also, there's a point where Darien doesn't finish filming until early morning, but he has an early call the next day; that's actually against SAG rules. There is a time gap required after night shoots. Those notes aside, this is just a fun Cinderella retelling with a few choppy moments that bring it down a little. A final note about how the "villains" turn out would be interesting.

Rating: 3/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Follow Me Back

Follow Me Back
by A.V. Geiger

Tessa is trapped in her bedroom with no way of leaving because her mind won't let her. After something happened to her months before, she's be unable to trust the world. She has developed agoraphobia and there is nothing that makes her feel safe.

Nothing but Eric Thorn and Taylor.

Eric Thorn is a major pop star and Tessa's one vice. She follows him religiously on Twitter and keeps an eye out for any and all news. She feels like she knows him. He seems so afraid and unhappy; she just wants him to feel better.

Taylor is Tessa's Twitter friend and the one person who understands both her need to hide and her desire to make sure Eric is happy.

What Tessa doesn't know is that "Taylor" is actually Eric Thorn himself. He started following Tessa in order to attack her and try to stop the hashtag that she created, but he began to see Tessa as the one person who really understands what he's going through.

Together, maybe they can get out of the prisons that they've built for themselves.

Final thoughts: This one is ok, but the police interrogations spotted throughout were more distracting than tension-building. The story had moments, but it just wasn't too believable. The therapist is an idiot. And that ending, the last couple pages, was just completely out of left field. I did like the twist, but I really worry about this book as an inspiration to stalkers out there. I can just see a few very easily swayed people deciding that something like this, the love story part, could happen to them. If they could just get Biebs to read their Twitter, they could get him to understand that they belong with him, etc... Not great, but it did its job. Not sure if I'll read the next one.

Rating: 3/5

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Black Witch

The Black Witch
by Laurie Forest

Elloren Gardner has been raised in seclusion with her brothers by her uncle after her parents died in the last major war. She believes that she has no magic and that her only future lies in apothecary medicines. When she is old enough, her uncle sends her off to university to study in the hopes that she will one day be able to run her own apothecary.

But best laid plans and all... Elloren's aunt steps in and tries to get Elloren to wandfast to an eligible soldier, who is also the man most sought after by Elloren's worst nightmare and most dangerous enemy. Things are worsened further when Elloren's aunt also refuses to pay Elloren's fees, forcing Elloren to work in the kitchens, and also live in the worst of the rooms with the most dangerous of students. 

The prophecy is coming. Elloren may be the one named. And time is running out.

Final thoughts: Ugh. Let's just RAM ideas into the reader over and over and over again. Racism! BAM! Prejudice! BAM! Religious intolerance! BAM!!! It's relentless and unending. No one understands anyone else. No one listens to anyone else. When one person does listen, suddenly everyone becomes friends. It's basically the Christian Right (the Mages/Gardnerians) vs. the world with Fae, Kents, Urisks, Lupines, Icarals being every other race and religions on this earth. We vilify and lie about what we don't know or understand just like the Mages make up stories and deliberately misinterpret things to put the worst spin possible on the other people.
The world was pretty decently created and I liked most of the characters, but that message was just too strongly shoved up my nose again and again. 

Rating: 2/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Blade Bound

Blade Bound
by Chloe Neill

The wedding of the century is coming and Merit is the bride-to-be.

Also coming is some sort of evil that people are struggling to identify and it's threatening everything that Merit and her groom, Ethan, have fought so hard to protect.

And when werewolf Gabriel stops by to remind them of the impending prophecy, Merit just knows that the honeymoon will have to be cancelled.

Time is running out to save Chicago from the supernatural powers that threaten it and the humans who think that they can handle it.

Final thoughts: After all of the many books that seemed to drag this story out, it now feels rushed. It's almost like Neill was so eager to start a new series (probably with a certain prophesied child) that she pushed this one to an awkward end. I still love Merit and Ethan, and I definitely love how Ethan has finally accepted Merit as his equal, deserving of the chance to make a difference, but the luster has gone. I'll miss some of Chicagoland, but I'm really not too sad to see it end.

Rating: 3/5

ARC courtesy of NetGalley

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.

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