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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Forever Song ~ Julie Kagawa (earc) review [@harlequinteen @jkagawa]

The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3)
Harlequin Teen
April 15, 2014
416 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

*Contains some spoilers - both in summary and review - for Book 2, The Eternity Cure (my review)*


Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

The Blood of Eden series, started in 2012 with The Immortal Rules (review) followed by The Eternity Cure (review) in 2013, comes to a close in The Forever Song.

The Forever Song is like a road trip . . . you know, if you were a vampire, on a road trip with other vampires and planning to kill a psychopath vampire, intent on unleashing a deadly virus, at the end of the trip.

Allison is a different as they track Sarren on his way to Eden, hoping they can catch up to him. In The Eternity Cure some of who Sarren is and just what he was capable of became apparent at the end. Now, we see how it affects Allison. With Zeke murdered by Sarren, she not only has more incentive to catch the madman, but less to hold on to her humanity.

Anyone's grief would be outstanding, but we see what it does to a vampire who had been struggling not to become a monster, not to lose herself. Interestingly, the change in her character did have me a little bit worried for Allie, but I was also curious where it could take the story.

in Forever Song we're able to see the full extent of what Sarren is capable of. It seems that nearly ever turn in the road, every development unveils something else horrific and/or twisted that he had done. Usually worse than the thing before it.

Despite the group growing closer, bonding in a way, you cannot help but worry what will happen when they do finally encounter Sarren. Even if it isn't too late.

There was a bit of romance included, but it was the weakest - or least developed - aspect. It was necessary for some important growth in all of the characters, for tension, grief and even humor, but there wasn't as much feeling as in the earlier books. With all of the impending possible doom, death, destruction, it was not much of a problem that the romance was lacking. The chemistry I would have liked was missing, but it was all such a part of the larger story that it was okay.

The plot of 'track Sarren down and kill him,' seems simple. That objective, however, is not so easily accomplished. Through the roadblocks and obstacles they encounter readers not only get a fuller picture of the threat they're facing in Sarren, but of who the characters are as well.

As each new situation tests them individually and forces them to work together, we see more of who they are, who they can be. Both the good and the bad.

The Forever Song is definitely about its characters - who they were, who they are, what it's possible for them to become - but the action is far from gone. As with the other books in the series, there is violence, there are fights, there is gore and written very well. The parts that should be disturbing, are. The parts that should make you feel and worry for the characters, do.

All leading to one fantastic ending. I hate to see this series go, but am incredibly pleased with the send-off it received.

Rating: 9/10

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my egalley for review

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty GIveaway

If you saw my The Secret Life of Walter Mitty short story and movie comparison post last week, then you know that I really enjoyed the movie . . .

And now you have the chance to win a Walter Mitty prize pack including Blu-Ray of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty along with a book of "Walter Mitty" short story author James Thurber's short stories and a Walter Mitty Travel Tumbler.

Open to those in US & Canada (no PO Boxes, please), enter below.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Little Lies ~ Heather Gudenkauf (earc) review [@hgudenkauf @HarlequinBooks @MiraEditors #HarlequinMIRA]

Little Lies (Little Mercies prequel)
March 1, 2014
45 pages
add to Goodreads/buy Kindle version

For me, at least, buying a book based on the cover (well first the cover, then the summary, as well) has never led to better results than with Heather Gudenkauf's The Weight of Silence.

Not only did I love, love The Weight of Silence (and its cover) but also her next two novels These Things Hidden, and One Breath Away. I have been checking for anything about a new novel from Gudenkauf probably much too frequently.

While Little Mercies won't be released until June, there is an ebook prequel novella, Little Lies is available now.
In this riveting prequel to her novel Little Mercies, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores how even the smallest lies can have far-reaching consequences.

When the body of a woman is discovered in a local park—with her bewildered four-year-old son sitting beside her—veteran social worker Ellen Moore is called in to assist in the police investigation. Positioned beneath a statue of Leto, the goddess of motherhood, the crime is weighted with meaning and, Ellen discovers, remarkably similar to one from a decade past.

Ellen's professional duty is to protect the child, but she's not equipped to contend with a killer. As she races to connect the dots, she knows her time is running out. And the stakes are high: if she fails, another mother is sure to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Little Lies is my favorite sort of prequel novella: it both introduces us to the upcoming novel's characters, Ellen in this case, and has its own little story.

A short, self contained murder mystery plays out in Little Lies. This seems to be a very good way to introduce readers to the character and world. We learn about Ellen's past, about her family and their life, and meet other characters who are likely to appear in Tender Mercies, too. As Ellen works to put all of the pieces together, we get a sense of how seriously she takes her job and the responsibility and of her character.

While Little Lies's story is concluded at the end of the novella, it will leave you anticipating Little Mercies release even more. Gudenkauf has a very compelling character in Ellen and I am very much looking forward to seeing her in a full novel.

From my These Things Hidden review:
In These Things Hidden, much like she did in The Weight of Silence, Heather Gudenkauf uses the relationships--and intimacy--of a family and a small town to weave a literary tale that feels so real you'd sear it has to at least be 'based on' a true story.
After we've met Ellen, her family and a co-worker, I am eagerly anticipating seeing how their lives all play out in Little Mercies - and any new characters and their role, their influence.

Rating: 9/10

review copy received from publisher through NetGalley

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Haven ~ Carol Lynch Williams (earc) review

The Haven
St Martin's Griffin
March 4, 2014
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

I tried my best, but the review likely contains some minor spoilers.

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

The Haven is one of the few books where I have liked the uncertainty, the not knowing. When the novel starts, we know Shiloh and the others in The Haven Hospital and Halls are Terminals. We don't, however, know just what Terminals are. It's clear that the way Shiloh interprets several things are due to what she's been taught to believe but as readers we see things more realistically. Not having an immediate, up front explanation of either The Haven or of Terminals did pull me more into Shiloh's story.

I noticed the differences in her interpretation of events and of the little, everyday things she saw so differently because I was still working to figure out The Haven's world.

In The Haven there was not quite enough plot for me. Even as it became clear that something big was going to take place - or, at least, be attempted - the how was never discussed. It's understandable, with the Terminals limited knowledge, but any sort of 'after,' even in their imaginations was so vague. I wish we had been given some idea as to what may happen - especially as this book is the only one.

The story tried to focus on the characters - something I usually love from the author - especially on Shiloh as she uncovers more and more of the truth. While this worked brilliantly in Williams's previous novels Miles from Ordinary and The Chosen One the premise seemed to get in the way a bit. The Terminals are supposed to be almost like mindless drones. They follow their rules, keep a strict schedule, don't rebel and lack emotion. Even Shiloh who is slightly different thanks to the memories she shouldn't have, can be very flat. It's hard to have an emotional connection with characters who don't have emotions.

If the plot of The Haven had been stronger, with more of a look at the outside world either through narration or information gathered in The Haven or, perhaps, a slightly different ending, I would have liked it more. As it is, there was not quite enough plot or quite enough to the characters to really work for me. I love the premise and really enjoyed how the book started - and that readers were a bit out of the loop to start.

Rating: 7/10

thank you to the publisher for my egalley to review; received through NetGalley
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