Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: "Crave" by Melissa Darnell

I was privileged to read an advance copy of "Crave" by Melissa Darnell, which is scheduled for release on October 25, 2011.

"Crave" is the first book in "The Clann" series, which features characters Savannah Colbert and Tristan Coleman, who take turns narrating the story from their points of view.

Savannah and Tristan were best friends, along with twin girls Vanessa and Hope. In fact, the twins helped perform Savannah and Tristan's imaginary 4th grade wedding one day. But that night, word of the event leaked back to their parents, who immediately forbid all the descendents of The Clann (including Tristan and the twins) from ever having contact with Savannah Colbert again. They were not told why, only that she was dangerous. Meanwhile no one told Savannah why her best friends suddenly abandoned her and refused to speak to her after that day, many of whom later became her worst bullies as they grew up together in school.

Who is The Clann? Genetically they're of Irish Decent, though some rumors claim they know witchcraft. One thing for sure, they practically run the town of Jacksonville, Texas. Most people of authority in that town are Clann descendants. Even some of the teachers at school. They are connected in every aspect of the town. The Clann have eyes and ears everywhere, and they are all keeping close watch on Savannah Colbert.

While Tristan Coleman obeyed his parents since that day in 4th grade, he's never been able to stop thinking about Savannah. And while Savannah hates him for abandoning her without saying why, she too can't seem to avoid thinking about him. She can even physically feel it when he watches her, though she has no idea why.

Savannah lives at home with her mother, whose work often takes her out of town, and with her Nana, who is the one constant in her life. Savannah's Dad lives out of town and sees her rarely, often turning down invitations to watch her perform at sports events. Savannah has a lot to be angry about, with feelings of abandonment from her Dad and former friends.

Then one day Savannah gets very sick. She suffers from fever and is barely coherent for 5 days. When she wakes up, she is surrounded by her Nana, mother and her father, who explain her heritage, the changes she is going through, and all the secrets they've been keeping from her. They also explain why it is vitally important she stay away from all Clann descendants, especially Tristan Coleman.

Unfortunately this is the time that Tristan decides he will no longer obey his parents by staying away from Savannah. He has made it his mission to date her. When she returns from school after her illness, she has over gone obvious physical changes that makes her irresistible to most guys. So much so that she starts to need protection from these guys, which Tristan has taken upon himself to provide.

Now that she knows the truth, Savannah is more determined than ever to stay away from Tristan despite the irresistible pull she feels toward him. He's decided to win her back, not realizing the potentially devastating consequences their relationship could bring.

I read this book in less than 24 hours, avoiding my husband and kids as best I could, to maximize reading time. I found this story to be refreshingly original, and a book I simply could not put down. After only reading the first of this series, I am certain this series will be one of my favorites.

If you only read a few books a year and like me prefer to read books you're willing to trade sleep for, pre-order this book. I'm telling all my friends this is a #mustread and after you read it, I suspect you will do the same.

"Crave" will be released in just over a month. Pre-order today so you don't miss out on this gem.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Review "The Implosion of Aggie Winchester" by Lara Zielin

I have been a fan of author Lara Zielin since I read her book "Donut Days". Actually, truthfully, I first became aware of Lara when someone showed me a link to her hilarious YouTube Snuggie parody, the "Bluggie" (the blinged out Snuggie).

Then I read "Donut Days" and was hooked on Lara Zielin. So when I read her post about her new book, and why it might not be suitable for everyone, I knew it was for me. Immediately I went online and bought it. Here is what Lara had to say about "The Implosion of Aggie Winchester".

Why Aggie Might Piss You Off and Why That’s Okay

One thing that’s great about books like Marly and Me and The Da Vinci Code is that diverse audiences can get behind them. From art appraisers to auto mechanics, from soccer-coaching dads to entrepreneurial college grads, people from all ranks can get sucked into the story.

Like so many people, I love books about dogs! And horses! And good old-fashioned mysteries. But I didn't write that kind of book when I penned Aggie.

I understand The Implosion of Aggie Winchester may not be that kind of book.

For example, Aggie swears. A lot. The F-word is practically a character in the book, so if you’re squeamish about foul language, leave Aggie on the shelf.

Aggie and her boyfriend do stuff. If you’re a fan of teen chastity and plots that don’t involve questions about sex, put Aggie down.

Aggie makes bad choices. If you want a teen with a strong moral center who knows exactly who she is and makes decisions that reflect that, Aggie ain’t her.

Aggie is flawed. She will probably frustrate you. But she’s also realistic. Aggie struggles. She falls. She effs up in the hugest ways, but she gets back up again and keeps going.

Which is, I think, true to how LIFE actually is. For me as an author, that’s part of why Aggie was worth all the heartache that went into creating her. She was difficult from the word go.

But as messed up as she is, she’s still not beyond redemption.

So maybe she might help teens who are struggling with developing a sense of self, or struggling with friends and boyfriends who don’t respect them, or struggling with finding words to express how they feel or act in ways that reflect who they really are.

Aggie isn’t right for every reader. And that’s okay.

Because I believe she’s exactly right for some readers.

So that, my friends is what sold me. I happened to have just finished a book earlier that day, so I got it on Kindle so I could immediately start reading. I finished the book in less than 24 hours. Now you guys know me. I rarely read a book that doesn't fall into the YA Paranormal Romance category. This book doesn't have any witches, vampires, werewolves or fairies in it, yet I devoured it. I simply could not put it down. I fell in love with Aggie. While my youth was not like Aggie's in most ways, her struggle to find herself, along with her mistakes and frustration over being misunderstood by her parents definitely struck a chord with me. I was captivated by her. My heart broke and then swelled for Aggie on her journey. It was heartbreaking and uplifting and left me wanting more.

This is one of these books that stays with you. If you're looking for a captivating read, that won't leaving you hanging as part of an unfinished series, a book you're willing to trade sleep for, or only read a few books a year... read "The Implosion of Aggie Winchester". You won't be disappointed.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: "Iron Knight" by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight is the 4th book in The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa. (not including the two short stories that were released between books.

If you haven't read the first three books, The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, and The Iron Queen, you may want to read these first before you read my review of the 4th book.

In fact, if you love faery lore, forbidden love, love triangles, and plenty of action/adventures with amazing writing, read this series.

Last we left Meghan, she had become the Queen of the Iron Realm in the NeverNever. There was just one problem, the love of her life, a winter fey, could not survive in the iron realm as iron is deadly to most fey. At the end of the last book, Ash swore his fealty to Meghan as his queen, taking the vows as her Knight and vowing to find a way to be with her.

This is Ash's story. He embarks on a journey past the end of the world to become mortal and win a soul so he can return to his beloved Meghan. His companions are Puck, Grimalkin, the Great Wolf, and a surprise companion that shakes him to the core, making him wonder what future he wants, and if he wants to continue on this journey.

The journey is anything but easy. He faces a number of challenges with his companions before he even reaches the Guardian and the required trials for becoming mortal. When he makes it to the Guardian, he is put through a series of trials to see if he is fit to become mortal and what it really means to have a soul. It turns out Ash really knows nothing about being a mortal. He gets a glimpse into a future where he is without magic, and ages while those he loves stay the same. Once again he must ask himself if the things he must give up are worth being with the one he loves. And can he handle re-visiting all of his past sins when he gets a first taste of what it's like to have a conscience? Can he ever live with all the evil things he did as the Winter Prince, son of Queen Mab?

And there is one more thing. If he decides to go through with it, one of his companions must willingly give up their life for him. Even if one of them was willing to make that sacrifice, would Ash ever allow them to? But what about Meghan? She has been busy ruling the Iron Realm. Without knowing about Ash's quest, and having heard no word from him in quite some time, is there any guarantee that she has not moved on to someone else in his absence?

This is a fitting conclusion to one of my favorite series ever written. It's no wonder I traded many hours of sleep and potential quality time with my family to read this. Kids? What kids?

Even though this appears to be a conclusion, I would love for the story of these characters to continue. This fourth book is in response to the fans and their feedback. Who's to say we can't encourage the author to write more? Where's the petition for a 5th book? I'll gladly sign it!

As if this book isn't wonderful enough, at the end (after the acknowledgments) the author gives us a hilarious "Survival Guide To The NeverNever" full of helpful tips from what to wear, what to pack, what food to bring, weapons you'll need, how to interact with the fey, and your best chances at avoiding sudden death should you find yourself in the NeverNever. Cause you just never know...

The Iron Fey is available for pre-order with a release date of October 25, 2011.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: "Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Helen Hamilton has grown up on the small island of Nantucket her entire life, raised by her father. In all of her 16 years, she never knew her mother. She's almost used to the stares everyone gives her, for her unnatural beauty. She knows she's stronger and faster than everyone else, but the last thing Helen ever wants is to be noticed. In fact Helen will go to any length to blend in with the crowd.

Everything changes when the Delos family moves to town. Especially when Helen first spots Lucas Delos. Their encounter and her surprise reaction means Helen can never go back to life as she knew it, now that the fates have stepped in. Literally. Helen and Lucas and his family are destined to replay the roles of the three fates and relive the Greek Mythology (or is it Greek History???) story of Paris and Helen of Troy. Can they escape fate? Helen learns things about her ancestry that she didn't think was possible and finds herself at times, literally fighting for her life.

I loved this modern take on Greek Mythology. It was not what I was expecting as far as typical love stories go, and was refreshingly original. I was immediately taken with these characters and traded sleep time to read it. Upon finishing it, I found myself re-reading several sections of the book to savor the story. I simply cannot wait for the sequel, to find out what the future holds for these characters.

"Starcrossed" by Josephine Angelini is available for pre-order and scheduled for release May 31, 2011.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review "Hourglass" by Myra McEntire

"Hourglass" by Myra McEntire

Thomas and Emerson's parents died years ago when she was young. Thomas, her much older brother, was appointed her legal guardian, and he and his wife have raised her since.

Emerson sees dead people. Or at least she thinks she does, until Michael enters her life and explains that what she's really seeing is just an indicator of her special ability. Michael was hired by Emerson's older brother Thomas to help Em with her "problem" where years of specialists and medications have failed. Emerson learns she's not the freak she always thought she was, but is actually a part of a community she didn't know existed.

While Michael and Emerson have an undeniable attraction, Michael tries his best to keep things professional. It doesn't take Em long to figure out that Michael isn't being entirely truthful about his intentions and as these things come to light, she realizes he needs her ability for his own agenda. She has to decide if she trusts Michael enough to help him. If she chooses to help, the risks are high and they both might not survive it.

I read this book in a day and 1/2. I would've read it faster, but I had to take breaks from ignoring my family. Pesky kids kept needing to be fed.

In addition to this being one of the coolest book covers I've seen, I absolutely loved this book itself. I fell in love with not only the main characters but also the minor ones as well. The author was merciful enough to not leave us on a cliffhanger at the end of the book, but I desperately hope she has a sequel in the works because I want more, more, MORE of these characters! It has been days since I finished reading it, but I can't bring myself to start another book yet because I want to keep reliving this story in my mind.

If you only read a few books a year, let this be one of them. You will thank me later.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review "Lost Voices" by Sarah Porter

"Lost Voices" by Sarah Porter is a book about abuse, young girls, friendship, revenge, and healing. It's the first book in a trilogy where young girls who are at the breaking point as a result of abuse at the hands of adults, are transformed... not into death, but into Mermaids. These Mermaids form a community with a leader, the queen, who is chosen by having the strongest singing voice. These girls attach to each other, form their own family, protect each other and live by their own code of conduct. But they also take revenge on humanity for their crimes against them, by singing mesmerizing songs to ships, which hypnotize the sailors, leading them toward the rocks, and to their drowning deaths.

Luce's mother died when she was 4. Her father and her lived a life always on the move, due to her father's questionable career choices. Eventually her father decides to move to Alaska, the town he grew up in, to live with the brother he never liked, so he can take an honest job as a fisherman and Luce can go to regular school. One day his ship never comes back. It's now a year later, Luce is turning 14, and has endured physical abuse at the hands of her uncle since her father died. On her 14th birthday after her uncle had too much to drink, he tries the unthinkable on Luce. Utterly broken and in despair, she falls off the cliff into the waters below, transforming into a mermaid.

Luce is immediately welcomed into a tribe of mermaids who were all wounded by adults, like she was. It's the only time she has ever felt she belonged. But soon she looses her taste for murdering people aboard ships that sail through their territory. She can't help but wonder if these same mermaids sang her father's ship into the rocks, which led to the situation where Luce became abused. Does killing the humans make the Mermaids any better than the humans who abused them? As Luce starts to wonder if there is a way to be a mermaid without killing humans, those who had embraced her, start to turn their backs on her. Does forgiveness have a place in the lives of those who've been abused so terribly? And what happens to the dynamic of the group when a new, outspoken girl joins the tribe?

Throughout the book, Luce quickly learns that her singing not only can cause humans to jump to their deaths, but also bring healing and comfort as well. As she spends more and more time by herself singing, she learns her songs have even more magic than she imagined possible.

When I first read the premise to this book, I thought I wouldn't relate to it much, as I personally had not endured the kind of pain/abuse the characters had in this book. But, surprisingly, the book sucked me in very quickly, as we can all relate to feelings of pain, loss, friendship, loneliness, revenge and forgiveness. I cannot wait until the sequel comes out to read more about these characters and see what the future holds for them.

"Lost Voices" by Sarah Porter is available for pre-order and is scheduled for release July 4, 2011.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: "Hereafter" by Tara Hudson

"Hereafter" is a paranormal YA love story by new author Tara Hudson that is scheduled for release June 7, 2011.

sidenote: I am shocked to hear Tara Hudson is a "new author" because the quality of her writing rivals that of much more seasoned authors.

The book begins with Amelia. Amelia is dead. And a ghost. She remembers very little of her past, other than her first name and age at time of death, but has no other memories of her life, family and how she died. Except that she drowned in the river under High Bridge Road. Her regular "nightmares" make sure she never forgets that part, after which she would always wake up in the graveyard. She spends her days wandering aimlessly, alone, without a purpose and without knowing why she is there.

Until one day during one of her "nightmares" she realizes she isn't alone in the water. This time a boy is drowning with her. She struggles to save him but is unable to touch or affect any part of him. When his dying heart skips a beat, he sees her. He can hear her yelling at him to swim and obeys. He's able to get himself to the surface and then to shore as Amelia swims with him. As paramedics attended to him, he continues to stare at Amelia, even telling her his name. "Joshua". Amelia may not have been aware of much before this encounter, but she does know living people shouldn't be able to see or hear her. But somehow this boy can.

Suddenly Joshua is all Amelia can think about, and after Joshua's near death experience, the feeling is mutual. But Joshua is alive and Amelia is dead. What kind of future could they have? Can a ghost and a living person even date?

But they're not the only ones in the story. Suddenly a mysterious ghost named Eli appears. He's been watching Amelia for a long time, but chooses the moment after Joshua survives to reveal himself to her. Why now? And what does he want from Amelia?

As Amelia gets to know both Joshua and Eli better, she begins to remember some of the details of her death. Why are they so important? And what does this have to do with High Bridge Road, the place Amelia died? Where Joshua almost died? They're not the only ones who've had brushes with death on that road.

Did I mention Joshua's grandmother Ruth is a Seer? She also can see and hear Amelia, but unlike her grandson, Ruth believes any spirit trapped between realms is evil. She not only plans to keep Amelia from dating her son, she plans to exorcise Amelia from this world.

As Amelia becomes more aware of her story and her ghost status, her future becomes more clear. Can she solve the mystery of High Bridge Road and save others from her fate while ending up with the boy she loves?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and immediately fell in love with Amelia. Her journey was so detailed, I found myself lost in the world with Amelia as an observer to her story. I don't know if the author has plans for a sequel, but I hope she does because I'd love to visit these characters again.

If you like paranormal YA romance like I do, pre-order this gem. I hope you will love it as much as I did.