Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Half Lives ~ Sara Grant (earc) review

Half Lives
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
July 6, 2013
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager - until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas.

The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain - a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs.

As Beckett investigates The Mountain's history, Icie's story is revealed - along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.

Sara Grant's HALF LIVES is a dystopian chronicle of the journeys of two unlikely heroes in their race against time to save future generations.

Sara Grant's second YA novel, after 2011's Dark Parties is a sort of apocalyptic novel, following a present-day teen and a teen of the future. At first it's a little confusing trying to figure out just how the two teens lives -- and worlds -- intersect, or if they do at all. As the story unfolds, however we catch glimpses of how Icie's life may have affected Beckett's life.

It also starts to become clear just what the state of Beckett's world means for Icie's likely future.

The company Icie has in her journey are far from the expected characters. They each have something unique that they bring to the perilous situation. They each also impact how Icie views her new situation -- and future.

Beckett's world felt more about the circumstances and situation than the characters, than Icie's did. It was more difficult to feel a connection with those characters. Despite the alternating points-of-view, Icie's story felt like the main story with Beckett's almost supplementing it, giving us the view of the future.

I did, though, really enjoy the way that the different points-of-view gave readers an interesting perspective on the opposite time and its narrator. We were able to see and know things about Beckett's world that wouldn't have made sense without Icie's tale. The future we knew about in Beckett's tale added a bit of drama to Icie's tale and some potential fear for her future.

Around the middle to the end, there were a few places where the plot seemed to be be, or at least want to be, something more mature than what the content was. As if the thing(s) mentioned would have been more appropriate for an older audience had they been fully discussed, explored or integrated into the plot so instead they just sort of were. It was a bit odd, not exactly bad but not weird.

This is definitely an interesting way to tell a story and to get us readers a more complete look at both characters' lives and worlds.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this title for review

Aug 1: edited to add the penultimate paragraph ("Around the middle...") was copy & pasting this while away and it got lost, my apologies

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hopeless ~ Colleen Hoover review

Hopeless (Hopeless #1)
Atria Books
May 7, 2013
406 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon/or Kindle

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

Hopeless is one of the first New Adult books I've read - the Slammed series by the same author, which I"ve also read, is either YA or New Adult - and if it's anything to go by, it's a genre I'm going to have to pay attention to.

While there is definitely some content in Hopeless that isn't that appropriate for younger readers, the age of the characters, that they're in high school and what they're experiencing keeps things more relevant and relatable for older teen/young adult readers. New Adult as an idea and a genre is a great bridge between younger teenage characters and situations and adult characters, Hopeless executing it very well.

If you've read Slammed, some of the same themes or situations seem to be used in Hopeless (backgrounds of characters, situations). They're used so differently and with such different characters, though, that it doesn't feel like anything's being repeated (ie it may be noticed that this character was in foster care and so was that one). I actually liked how vastly different two stories could be with some of the same elements.

If they're present in everything she writes, I may - may - feel differently.

Despite the story being from Sky's point-of-view, I had no trouble at all connecting with or relating to Holder's character. His interactions with Sky, what he shares with her, and her observations of him really made him feel like as just a full character as Sky, the narrator.

At times the plot seemed to be going somewhere predictable, that the reader was going to be able to guess everything ahead of the characters. I liked that things didn't quite unfold that way. Things weren't simple but they stayed true to the characters, who they were and what they needed. Even when things got darker - or perhaps more so then - the story stayed very real.

It's usually more science fiction or dystopian novels that leave me thinking after they're over but sometimes a really good contemporary fiction leaves me thinking about it - and its characters - after I've finished. Hopeless is one of those books. I'm excited to let you know what I think about the follow-up, Losing Hope!

Rating: 10/10

Waiting On Wednesday

This is what happens when you're want to double check posts before you post them . . . and then your internet craps out for a few hours :\ Sorry for the lateness

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
This week's pick:

Touch (The Queen of the Dead #2) by Michelle Sagara

Nathan died the summer before his final year in high school. But he wakes in his room—or in the shrine of his room his mother’s made—confused, cold, and unable to interact with anyone or anything he sees. The only clear memory he has is a dream of a shining city and its glorious queen, but the dream fades, until he once again meets his girlfriend Emma by the side of his own grave.

Nathan wants life. He wants Emma. But, even if Emma can deliver what he desires, the cost may be too high to pay...
Touch will be released January 14, 2014 by DAW Hardcover
- add it to your Goodreads or pre-order on Amazon

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Silence (my review) - released in May 2012 - which ended with a great set-up for the upcoming book(s). I'm eager to see where this middle book of the trilogy takes the story and the characters; though, a refresher of Silence's ending may be necessary!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

As Google Reader/GFC are now completely kaput, I thought it worth mentioning that there are now widgets on the right sidebar to follow Book Sp(l)ot Reviews with Bloglovin, Google+, Linky Followers and/or Networked Blogs.

Now, on to the this week's Teaser Tuesday post which features a book I just couldn't pass up -- even after I missed it on NetGalley (oops!!):

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser:

". . . I'd write a long note to Daddy and Patti Lynn, who were the only two people who would miss me.

But as it turned out, leaving Cayuga Springs was an emergence, and all I had was some sticky penny candy in my shorts pocket."

from Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall pg 26-27

and Whistling Past the Graveyard's synopsis:
From an award-winning author comes a wise and tender coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old girl who runs away from her Mississippi home in 1963, befriends a lonely woman suffering loss and abuse, and embarks on a life-changing roadtrip.

The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Originals ~ Cat Patrick (earc) review

The Originals
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May 7, 2013
307 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Some families have secrets, some more shocking than others. Lizzie, Betsy and Ella's secret most likely more shocking than any secret your family's been keeping.

After years of being raised as identical triplets, their mother not only moved them cross country but told them the truth: they were genetic identicals: clones.

In hiding from the governmental agency that wants to expose them for what they are, the Best girls are undercover as a single girl. To the outside world, the Best family is a single mother and her only daughter, Elizabeth Best. The girls each take a section of the day, a third. One covers part of school the second the rest and the third evening time. No one knows there are three girls.

It may not be ideal, but it's what the girls know. What keeps them safe.

Until Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, someone who seems to notice that she's different, without actually knowing that she is. The more time she spends around Sean, the more Lizzie begins to realize she isn't just a third of Elizabeth Best, that she's her own person. And to want her own life. But is it possible?

With The Originals my love affair with Cat Patrick and her writing is still in full swing. Forgotten, her debut, continues to be one of my favorite books with London Lane and Luke being two of my favorite characters, favorite relationship. Then Revived is all kinds of magnificent, too and I'm in love with it.

So, see The Originals had a lot to live up to . . . the awesomesauce thing? It totally did.

I feel strange repeating things from my reviews of Forgotten and Revived but it bares repeating so here you go: the premise of this novel is kind of brilliant and so unique. I've read books about clones (Mila 2.0 most recently) and sisters and lots of coming-of-age novels, but this book smooshed them all together. In a fantastic way. With a bit of possible, secret governmental danger thrown-in.

What really makes Patrick's books so great, however, (and this is a repeat assertion from the other two reviews, I fear, as well) are the characters she creates. The characters and their relationships. The Originals characters feel very real. There's the sisterly relationship the girls have that, at times, feels like a regular relationship between three teenage sisters. Yet, there's the added layer of how they're living their lives and all that puts on them, individually as well as how they interact.

Then there's Lizzie and Sean. Really, I love that Cat Patrick writes some of my favorite YA romance and yet her novels aren't exactly YA romance. The romantic leads aren't just interacting with other characters on the periphery, with their scenes being the main story; their relationship is part of the whole story. We still get a very full relationship from them but as they interact, progress and, hopefully, grow a relationship in the midst of the full plot of the narrative, with all of the other characters a part of things, the result is more real and true feeling

This is a fantastic read and I'll be counting down the days until the author's next release.

Rating; 10/10

e-arc thanks to NetGalley and LBYR

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Throwback Thurs Review: Between You & Me Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Sure Throwback Thursday is for pictures, but a book from last summer was recently released in paperback and after seeing it around (NetGalley, bookstores, etc) I thought a Throwback Thursday review of sorts, with this great summer read, was in order . ..

Between You and Me
Atria Books
June 12, 2012
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

She may have an apartment she doesn't like, a-maybe-kind-of-sort-of boyfriend she's not sure about and a roommate she ended up with through a chain of events, but twenty-seven-year-old Logan Wade has made her own life in New York City. Away from her parents in Oklahoma and away separate from her world famous pop star cousin Kelsey Wade.

Logan and Kelsey were best friends when they were younger, cousins just two years apart in age who wished they were sisters. Then something happened and Kelsey left Oklahoma to become famous and she and Logan haven't seen each other in more than a decade and a half.

When Logan gets a call saying that Kelsey wants to see her, though, she's on the next plane to Los Angeles . . . and about to discover more about Kelsey Wade's world than she anticipated. And that less has changed from their troubled childhood than anyone would think. Especially when an offer comes to be Kelsey's assistant.

The co-authors of The Nanny Diaries and the YA novel The Real Real have penned a book that looks inside the life of a troubled pop starlet. While Kelsey is a fictitious character and all references to real people - Hollywood actors, singers, etc - are fictitious as well it rings true. It also seems to mirror, in the biggest points, at least, Britney Spears' life circa 2004 on.

Kelsey is not Britney Spears' though (she looks different, physically, for one), her life - family life and past - seems much darker. Her parents are both ever-present and very controlling. They have final say on things in both their daughter's personal and professional life.
Even picturing a different looking person, I kept
thinking of Britney Spears' Everytime video 

When Logan comes to Los Angeles to visit Kelsey, she can tell that something isn't quite right with Kelsey. She's also still not comfortable around her uncle after the way her was during their childhood but everyone promises her he's different now.

Readers are kept out of the loops as to just what the 'accident' was that injured Logan, drove Kelsey and her mother out of town and left Kelsey and Logan's father's - and families not speaking.

Read More . . ..

[Review first publisehd June 20, 2012]

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Slammed ~ Colleen Hoover review

Slammed (Slammed #1)
Atria Books
September 18, 2012
317 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

new(ish) e-edition
Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.
Slammed is one of the most immediately readable books I've read in a long, long time -- if not ever. It's a book that's unbelievably easy to pick up, start reading, and get drawn into right away.

paperback cover
Layken (whose name does seem a bit crazy but it works in - and because of - the story) and Will have both experienced a lot more at their respective ages than most. It isn't done for drah-ma! and it doesn't turn them into melodramatic characters. It does shape them, yes, as it would anyone who went through those things and makes them unique characters.

Once or twice (and only for a moment) Layken and Will's relationship, along with everything happening  to them feels almost expected or like things I've read/seen before. It didn't detract, at all, from the story or my enjoyment of it, however.

The novel didn't follow the story line that I expected -- except for one rather large turn that seemed obvious much sooner than the character saw it -- and I loved that. That the story wasn't just Layken and Will but Layken's family and Will's and Layken's friends and the different interactions among them made for such a great read. Of course, scenes between the two characters were brilliant but it was when there were other characters around -- either with the two of them or just one of them -- that we really learned so much more about them.

I will say that, as this was from Layken's point-of-view, she was much easier to connect with and felt like a much more relatable character. I definitely liked Will a lot, but there seemed to be a bit of a distance from his character. (Not that he was distant, just not as well connected as Layken, main character wise.) The next novel in the series is from his point-of-view, though, so I'm looking forward to finding more of a connection with him there.

Rating: 9/10

(Review of rest of series coming soon!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Breaking Glass ~ Lisa Amowitz (arc) review

Breaking Glass
Spencer Hill Press
July 9, 2013
297 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he's not sure whether they're real or if he's losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.
Breaking Glass turned out to be a lot different book than I was expecting. It was more complex, both in terms of the plot, the characters and their relationships than the synopsis would lead one to expect. What I thought it was about was already enough, what it turned out to be was even better.

To give much more of the plot wouldn't be fair (or much fun) for anyone who's going to read it, so I won't. What I will say is this: when Jeremy ends up in the hospital, intoxicated and with a severely injured leg, he learns that his friend -- and crush -- Susannah has disappeared.

He thinks he knows what happened the night of his accident and who was there but soon, others' accounts have him second guessing himself.

Then, when Susannah starts requesting -- from, possibly, beyond the grave -- that he solve her disappearance or murder, Jeremy starts to question his sanity.

All of this happening while a bit of a soap opera is unfolding around Jeremy. Rockton is a small town with a lot of secrets; many of them surrounding Jeremy's family, friends and their past.

Even the things that seem simple grow much more complex as other characters put their spin on things. Or as tales -- or rumors -- from the past come to light.

Everything that happens to Jeremy is handled excellently. It isn't overdone, which could easily happen with everything that happens to him and/or he does to himself, no is it underdone. Despite his experiences that are so different from much of what most will experience, he's easy to relate to.

The character who was the closest to a second main character -- at least in the 'Now' sections -- didn't feel quite as developed. There were times when we learned more about her and it seemed something was coming, but it never quite got there. There may have just been too much plot involving Jeremy, the mystery and in the 'Then' sections for there to be that connection with her, also.

With such a deep, intense plot, Amowitz finds a great balance: keeping the plot creepy, the characters' melodrama unfolding, and having a possible new interest for Jeremy. All the while leaving readers guessing at just what will happen in the end - how the mystery will be solved and how everyone will fare.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to Spencer Hill Press for the arc for review

Monday, July 8, 2013

Right of Way ~ Lauren Barnholdt (earc) review

Right of Way
Simon Pulse
July 9, 2013
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon/or B&N

Can a road trip repair a romance gone wrong? Find out in this standalone companion to Lauren Barnholdt’s Two-Way Street.

Here are Peyton and Jace, meeting on vacation. Click! It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s romantic. This is the real deal.

Unless it isn’t. Because when you’re in love, you don’t just stop calling one day. And you don’t keep secrets. Or lie. And when your life starts falling apart, you’re supposed to have the other person to lean on.

Here are Peyton and Jace again, broken up but thrown together on a road trip. One of them is lying about the destination. One of them is pretending not to be leaving something behind. And neither of them is prepared for what’s coming on the road ahead…
Right of Way starts out the way a great companion novel should: we find out how the new main character or characters are linked to those from the previous novel and what their story is. Here Peyton is Courtney's cousin and we learn, as the story continues, different ways Courtney and Jordan are also part of Jace's life.

It's also very similar in tone to Two-Way Street with the characters not on good terms, keeping secrets from each other, but one caring for the other more (at least than is apparent) and trying ot make things better. There are also the same great road trip stops that seem to ease things in their (hopeful) reconciliation along.

The story is told in both 'the trip' and 'before' each coming from either Jace or Peyton's point-of-view and giving us some interesting views of the current situation -- and the other character -- but also some important insight into past events.

It's pretty easy to see that, despite their animosity, the two characters can be a very good fit. These are two characters it's very easy to root for. I loved Two-Way Street and having even that minimal appearance from those old characters was not only fun, but also reinforced some ideas about Jace and Peyton. The closer it got to the end, the more worried I was for the two of them as it seemed they had so much to work through, so much to conquer, with so little of the book left.

That they seem like they could so work, makes one hope that they can get their differences worked out and that their secrets - whatever they may be -will be revealed so that they can work through whatever is troubling them and perhaps really be together.

And that's where the spoilers that I just abhor will come just a bit into this review. I've been thinking on this book - and review - since I finished it in April and decided a) I can't leave this out and b) I'm not sure I can do it without any spoilers, so . . . .

I loved the book until the ending. Until really, the last page, actually. I've been thinking about this since I finished reading it in April -- whether I was just being too picky or not. Yet, I feel (then and now) strongly enough about the ending that it warrants mentioning in the review.

(If it's a tiny bit spoiler-y, I apologize profusely!)

The first ninety-eight percent of the novel seemed to be Jace, the story, and Jace and Peyton working to get Peyton to stop running away from her problem. Even when he didn't know what it was. Even when he only thought that was what she was doing. I know that it was to get her to literally stop running away but thought that it was figuratively as well.

The closer and closer it got to the end, the more I worried there wasn't enough time for a full resolution. And I don't feel that there was. Peyton's side of things was wrapped up too neatly, too quickly. She never really had to deal with things and the way her conflict was handled at the end sent a wrong message as far as I'm concerned.

Maybe I was looking for the wrong thing from the book and/or the character at the end, but I was disappointed in how it came together and what she did -- or didn't do.

Taking away that last page (or perhaps adding in some more), I very much enjoyed both the characters, the similarities in style to Two-Way Street and their road trip.

Rating: 6/10

thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for me egalley for review

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dead and Buried ~ Kim Harrington (earc) review

Dead and Buried
Scholastic Press
January 1, 2013
295 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?
Dead and Buried is just about everything you want a ghost story to be. There isn't gore or blood that bring the scares, rather it's good old fashioned creepy spookiness. Things are moved, there are cold spots . . . and Jade's brother's seeing a ghost in his room.

Kim Harrington's novel has great characters. The family dynamic between Jade and her family -- Jade and her step-mother, Jade and her little brother, Jade and her brother and the family as a whole -- is fantastic; it really adds a whole other layer to the story.

Jade's start to her new school isn't the usual 'new girl' start. While there is an almost insta-friend, she's different in a quirky way and makes for a fun character. Jade also gets attention not for being the new girl, but for something else, something she doesn't quite understand, yet. It sets things up pretty quickly to be different and lets us know something's up.

Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, the classic tale of romantic suspense, is one of my favorite books of all time so I was thrilled to see it mentioned in this novel. Dead and Buried isn't a retelling - like Paige Harbison's New Girl was - rather, different characters each some of the traits of those in Rebecca. Though, it's easy to see the parallels between Kayla and Rebecca -- and Harrington brings this to Jade's attention with Jade's English class reading and discussing the novel -- and less so with Jade and Mrs DeWinter.

The 'ghost and haunting aspects aren't watered down here. They aren't used as background happenings to bring about things in Jade's life, fading away, forgotten about later on. This is very much a ghost story with a real ghost who isn't going to play nice. I love it.

It does bring about things in Jade's life but because Harrington is skilled with her characters and how they experience that which they're going through. I'm really hoping for more ghost/horror stories from her. (Hey, I'm the one who checked out the ghost stories book and wrote a 'book' about witches in elementary school.)

Rating: 10/10

Other books you might also enjoy: Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook, The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee and Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the egalley -- and my sincere apologies for the late review

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
I have two books for today -- one that's just been released and one that's upcoming.

The upcoming book:
Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire #3) by Kate Locke - November 11th from Orbit

*my review of Book 1, God Save the Queen**
Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. Everyone -- vampires, werewolves and humans -- wants the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins -- wins.

Queen Victoria wants her head, Alpha wolf Vex wants her heart, and she still doesn't know the identity of the person who wanted her blood. What she does know is that a project from one of the 'secret' aristocrat labs has gotten free and she's the only one who can stop the perfect killing machine -- a sixteen year-old girl. With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra's finding out that being queen isn't all it's cracked up to be, and if she doesn't do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.
I'm very carefully not reading this synopsis because I still have to read Book 2** in the series, The Queen is Dead but I'm also very much Waiting On this one, Book 3, due out November 12th from Orbit!

add it to your Goodreads shelf

**Just as soon as I read a few books I have for review, you'd better believe I'm getting Book 2

The already released one:
Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance - released June 11th by Egmont
Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.
This one's being marketed as Veronica Mars meets Pride and Prejudice, so I really can't wait to see if it lives up to that potential awesomeness.

add it to you Goodreads shelf

What book -- or books -- are you waiting on this week?

Every Boy Should Have a Man ~ Preston L Allen review

Every Boy Should Have a Man
Akashic Books
May 7, 2013
192 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

It has to be said that Preston L Allen's novel has quite the provocative title. What also has to be said is that is not all it has.

I started Every Boy Should Have a Man without much knowledge of just what it was about, other than it was classified as SciFi at my library. The story isn't as simple as a boy (as we know them) needing a man (as we know them), in some way. Rather:
A riveting, poignant satire of societal ills, with an added dose of fantasy, Every Boy Should Have a Man takes place in a post-human world where creatures called oafs keep humanlike “mans” as beloved pets. One day, a poor boy oaf brings home a man whom he hides under his bed in the hopes his parents won’t find out. When the man is discovered, the boy admits it is not his—but the boy is no delinquent. Despite the accusations being hurled at him, he’s telling the truth when he says he found the man aimlessly wandering in the bramble. Nevertheless, he must return the man to his rightful owner. But when the heartbroken boy comes home from school one afternoon, he finds wrapped up in red ribbon a female man with a note around her neck: Every boy should have a man. You’re a fine son. Love, Dad.
With something - or a lot of something, at times - to say on the topics of race, religion, war, slavery, what we eat, and more Every Boy Should Have a Man gives readers a lot to think about. There isn't one issue or problem that is then exactly mirrored in this fictional world. Instead, it's the conglomeration of the different topics and issues that make the tale Allen's created so thought provoking. And make the story work.

It's a strange book to review -- some because of the length and all that happens within that short number of pages but mostly for the plot. Every Boy Should Have a Man is a book very much worth reading. The characters, both those that are 'man' and the 'oafs' have very human characteristics that allow you to connect to them right away. There are differences in them - both from us and from each other - that allow the story to proceed - but they're still very relateable characters.

The way the story is told can, at first, leave you wishing for a bit more of wherever the previous part left off but it is very soon easy to see why things moved to where they did. A lot of ground is covered in less than two-hundred pages, giving readers a full view of this imagined world.

Every Boy Should Have a Man concluded differently than I was expecting -- both where the story went and then the resolution it came to. I enjoyed both, though, for what it was for the characters and well as as and ending. It was different from the start of the novel and almost like a different story without a bridge between them (mostly impossible without changing the structure and/or length of the book) but also necessary for concluding things.

There's no doubt this is an original story and one you should read.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

God Save the Queen ~ Kate Locke (arc) review

God Save the Queen (The Immortal Empire #1)
July 3, 2012
351 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.

When her baby sister Dede goes missing, Alexandra "Xandra" is the only one in her family of half-siblings to question the official story they're given. Deciding to keep her suspicions even from her brother and their other sister, she decides to set out on her own investigation, knowing it will likely lead to her to places unexpected. Just how unexpected, however, she never could have imagined.

The England of the Immortal Empire series is a brilliant mix of the Victorian era along with 2012. There's electricity, but Queen Victoria is still on the throne. People still take horses and carriages, yet there are things, as well, mirroring modern transportation. There are also paranormal creatures - a result of the plague, Not all infected with the plague died in this version of events, rather a gene mutation was caused resulting in vampires, werewolves, goblins and some half-bloods.

Xandra herself is a halvie, half-vampire and half-human. Just how it effects her -- and other halvies -- is explained in the book but it makes her a very interesting character. She's not a vampire yet she's not human, either. In fact, the entire society and culture that Kate Locke has created here is very original and a ton of fun. (Though when it's all first explained it is a bit tricky following just how all of the 'genetics' works.)

It was nice not to get weighed down by lots of talk about hierarchy or packs, structure or the goblins vs the weres vs the vampires and why they didn't all like each other, etc. It was as much a part of the story as it needed to be but the focus was really on Xandra.  There's enough action, violence, drama and danger surrounding her and her quest for the truth as it is. We find out more about her, her past, her family, those closest to her, and some new characters as her story unfolds.

I love that as much of the world that Kate Locke created was able to be so effectively brought into such a character-centric book.

Both Xandra's DNA, the make-up of the society, the tension between the different beings (as whole groups and individuals) as well as the fantastic setting make this an incredibly enjoyable read. The way that Victorian and modern day settings are woven together is pretty brilliant - it's almost a reverse steampunk idea in a sense. With Victoria still reining and others around from her era as well, they've kept Victorian period things as part of modern society and/or things have evolved in a different manner. It's strange to explain but works so well in the book.

God Save the Queen does remind readers a bit of the Steampunk Chronicles (the YA series that starts with The Girl in the Steel Corset) and Gail Carriger's YA Espionage & Etiquette -- likely her adult series as well, but I've yet to read it -- so fans of either series will likely enjoy this. It should be noted, however, that The Immortal Empire is an adult series and contains a bit of adult content and quite a bit of adult language.

I can't wait to read the next book (and then be anxiously awaiting Number 3, out this fall).

Rating: 9/10

arc received through LibratyThing Early Reviewers program.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Insomnia ~ J.R. Johansson (earc) review

Insomina (Night Walkers #1)
June 8, 2013
351 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

It may seem easy to just say, "I didn't sleep last night." Yet, when Parker says it, he really - literally - means it. And every night.
Her eyes saved his life.
Her dreams released his darkness.

After four years of sleeplessness, high school junior Parker Chipp can't take much more. Every night, instead of sleeping, he enters the dreams of the last person he's made eye contact with. If he doesn't sleep soon, Parker will die.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. But what starts out as a chance meeting turns into an obsession; Parker's furious desire for what he needs pushes him to extremes he never thought he'd go. And when someone begins to terrorizing Mia with twisted death threats, Parker's memory blackouts leave him doubting his own innocence.

It seems like I have read quite a few books recently where the main character(s) were somehow experiencing some form of sleep loss beyond the norm. What made Insomnia different - and one of the things I really liked about it - was that it's main character, Parker also experienced the effects of that sleep deprivation.

Parker's extreme sleep deprivation wasn't just a plot element used to make his character more interesting or make things quirky. In a lot of ways, his 'insomnia' and its repercussions were the plot of Insomnia. We see the full toll it has taken and continues to take on Parker's life.

Though it's been four years of sleepless nights, the book is set at really the perfect time. Insomnia introduces us to Parker at two turning or, perhaps, tipping points. He seems to be reaching that point where it's all becoming too much (or not enough) and it's also when he meets Mia who promises a possible salvation.

A possible salvation she may not be willing to offer.

The closer Parker gets to that ultimate tipping point (where his lack of sleep will kill him), the more desperate he is for the real sleep Mia can provide. It's also the more unsure he becomes of his own actions.

The struggle present within Parker -- both physically and mentally/emotionally -- is incredibly well portrayed. What he's feeling physically and the mental effects it produces  fuel his actions as the story progresses. It's also enough motivation that it, along with the turmoil we see him experiencing, would stop even the most unsympathetic action from alienating him as a character. We can understand why he's doing what he's doing.

Or at least why he thinks he needs to.

I will say that the way one character was written made them seem more villainous than they were and so I kept waiting for some nefarious twist or turn involving them. It may have been a purposeful red herring deal or they may just have come across that way (to me).

How everything wrapped up though was fantastic and I am really happy that I didn't see it all coming together that way. (Although, I am happy that one of the minor characters was there for the reason I suspected and I am, thus, looking forward to Book 2.)

Rating: 9/10

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the arc (and the author for review copy opportunities mention on her site)

Coming Back

A super quick apology to everyone for my lack of posts over the past month (or two). I had some personal/health things happening. Things should be improved now and posts should increase, if not return to normal.

My apologies.
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