Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Tell Me Why (Fringe #1) by Sydney Snow

Anna Vasquez has had enough. Torn after finding out her best friend committed suicide, she's determined to find out why this horrible thing has happened. But when she falls for her best friend's brother, Caleb, she learns a terrible secret. Suddenly she's left with questions and wondering if love really can conquer all.

Only a handful of people have read and reviewed this book so I really didn't know what to expect and I found myself being pleasantly surprised with the writing style, character development and overall premise of this book. 

I will tell you this though, that first chapter just ripped my heart out. It was so terribly sad and while I enjoy a good heart wrenching novel, I hoped that it wouldn't be that sad throughout the entire novel. It was seriously just a huge downer. But the book does pick up and while the focus is still on the suicide that happens within the first few pages, you're able to go on the healing journey with Anna and her friends. The characters were awesome. I immediately connected with Anna and Caleb and I found myself rooting for each of them separately and together within each chapter.

Oh, speaking of chapters ... this one swaps pov with almost every chapter. Which worked out beautifully. I didn't feel that the story was stilted or slowed down with this constant swapping ... instead, it made the story have even more depth than it would have had if it were written in a different style. 

Overall, a really great book that grabs those heartstrings and yanks on them from the very beginning. I only had one issue with the book and that was the ending. I wish that it hadn't ended the way that it did and it was only because it jumped the timeline. I wanted to read about all of the stuff that was skipped instead of just being told how things worked out. I'm excited to see what the other novels in this series hold. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Sideswiped (Off the Map #2) by Lia Riley

It was only meant to last the summer . . .

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

Have you ever seen The Sandlot? Well, there's a part in the movie where this kid named Squints says the word 'forever' and he makes it drag out ... for-ev-er ... foooorrreeeeevvvvverrrrr. Kinda like that. Well, that word kept popping into my head while I was reading this because it was taking me for-ev-er to get through even a page. Geez. 

I absolutely adored the first book in this series (this is the second). I gave it 5 stars and I was positively chomping at the bit to dive into this one. Instead of getting the great story I was imagining, it felt like someone smacked my hand and then hit me across the face with my Kindle. This was not the story that I had envisioned to follow up Upside Down. 

I don't even know what to say ... the magic was just gone. I didn't feel any of the spark that I had with the previous book. I found it almost boring. There was a bit of time between the first novel and this one and quite a few things had happened ... I wish that those weren't kept out of the novels. I think that what transpired were important events that if you're going to expand on the first book like that, you really need to include. I would have been interested to see how all of that stuff played out and watched the relationship between Talia and Bran grow. And then after that, I just totally checked out. I don't know if it is because I was upset with the events that we missed or if it was because the book just read as a bit of a snooze-fest. 

I was just disappointed. Very disappointed. I almost wish I could go back and not have started this at all because it took away some of the good feelings I had about the previous book ... was it really that good or was I reading it with rose colored glasses? We'll never know. But I'm definitely one of the few that didn't enjoy this one. There are tons of great reviews out there for it and I hope that it works out better for you than it did for me. It's just too bad that it didn't go in a different direction. Sideswiped was definitely 'Off the Map' for me. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Endless by Amanda Gray

Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.

So much potential. I had such high hopes for this novel because the premise was so interesting. But I guess I should have figured the book would turn out this way when the word "traveled" was spelled wrong in the blurb. Yeah, yeah ... I know that sounds mean but as a reader, I feel robbed. Robbed of the experience that I had so hoped would happen when reading this book. 

On with the slaughter! Haha ... mostly kidding. So the characters were okay ... I really didn't like Jenny. She seemed shallow and selfish and to be honest, her name drove me up the damn wall. I don't know why. I have friends that are named Jenny and it's never bothered me before ... but it really drove me crazy and I really couldn't remember who in the hell "Jenny" was when I would read it in the book. That lasted for close to 60 pages. Not good. 

I did enjoy one character and that was Ben. HE should have been the focus of the story because I loved ever Ben-moment that I got! He was just the perfect character, he had just the right amount of screwed up to make him interesting and urge you to root for him. I'll miss Ben.

The part of the book that I really enjoyed and kept me reading was the stuff about Nicholas II, the last Russian emperor because it was the most interesting out of everything on those pages. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to redeem the book. There were just too many coincidences that helped out the characters or freak accidents that happened out of no where for no explanation. Could I have missed the explanation? Sure. I was having a hard time focusing on pretty much everything in Endless, so there is a possibility that these things were explained. But again, having things spelled out for me wouldn't have made the book better. It was, in a word, meh. But the cover is pretty ... it does have that going for it. Not for me. OOOH. And I didn't like the ending. It was a cop-out and too simple for what had happened throughout this whole book. I don't care if it will take the author an extra 20-30 pages. You make that ending count! I don't have to like the ending, I just want it to stand up with the rest of the book and tie everything up or have an epic cliffhanger. I don't ask for much.

I should have consulted my Ouija Board before picking this one up.

Review: The New Agenda (The New Agenda #2) by Simone Pond

Ava's journey continues as she searches inside the mainframe to find Chief Morray. She ends up hitting his archive files, sending her way back to the early days. For certain, society was disintegrating: humans were self-destructive and wildly uncontrolled. But young William Morray had hoped, as an idealistic teenager, that his father’s acclaimed Repatterning Program––a precursor to the brilliant New Agenda––could manage the upheaval and get society back on track. They said it was for the greater good: out of chaos comes order and from the ashes the phoenix will rise. They said the Repatterning was a positive event, but like most advertising, it was a lie.

William’s wish had always been to work with his father and win his approval. However, when he is sent away to a remote underground safety shelter in Denver, William is awakened to the grisly truth that the Repatterning is a mass genocide. And worse: his father, the New Agenda leader, is the spearhead of this horrifying plan to eradicate all cities, homes and people outside of the Elite citizenship. William decides to team up with an underground rebel alliance to end the Repatterning and save what’s left of civilization.

I picked this one up immediately after I finished the first book in the series (The City Center). I really enjoyed the first installment and I had high hopes for the second ... thank goodness Simone Pond delivered!! I can think of quite a few impossibly popular series where the 2nd book was almost the kiss of death. It seems like authors write a popular novel and then when they get to the next in the series, they just totally crap on the entire thing and it leaves you wondering why you fell in love with the first novel! Anyhow ... authors: Don't do that.

Whew. Now lets get on with things ... I just loved this book. I enjoyed it quite a bit more than the first and I really, really liked that one. The funny thing is that I was speaking to the author about this second book and she said that she loved writing it. Well, you can tell. This book was intricately written with quite a few twists and turns that kept me on my toes from the very first page to the last period. 

Thankfully, the characters didn't change one iota - they were still the same as they were I left them in the first book. Although ... I did find myself liking a character that I absolutely abhorred in the last book. I even tried to talk myself out of liking him because of how much I detested him in The City Center but it didn't take. That's okay ... the way this character changed and developed made the story that much better and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Keep in mind, as good as this book was, this is not one of those series where you can just pick up the 2nd book and then jump around. You need to read them in order otherwise you will be totally confused.

I'm super excited to see what the 3rd novel has in store for me!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: The City Center (The New Agenda #1) by Simone Pond

During the man-made apocalypse in the 21st century, a group of elites killed off a majority of the population. Only two groups of survivors remained––those selected to reside inside the Los Angeles City Center and the rebels, relegated to live on the Outside.

Centuries later, Ava Rhodes is one of five potential successors competing to become the next Queen of the City Center. A week prior to the final competitions she encounters Joseph, a rebel from the Outside, and discovers her utopian home is actually a prison and breeding facility aimed at designing the perfect human. She escapes with Joseph to the Outside world, sending the City Center’s leader, Chief Morray, into an obsessive pursuit for his property.

Along the journey, Ava falls in love with Joseph and discovers an even darker secret about the fate of her people. She must decide whether to stay with Joseph, or save her people from destruction.

I recently just started reading dystopian novels again. For quite a while it felt like every young adult novel that came out had some sort of dystopian angle to it. The young adult genre just felt saturated with them. I had read so many good ones that I just couldn't stop myself from picking up a new one every other day. But then I started to get a little burned by them. They were coming out so fast from so many authors that they just didn't have that something special and unfortunately, a bunch were just a waste of my time to read. So I put the whole genre down. I haven't read one in more than a year, I think. Anywho ... it was a big deal for me to pick this up. It was an even bigger deal to love it as much as I did! 

This is one of those futuristic novels that has a whole butt load of technology that we don't have but Simone Pond explains each thing pretty well and I didn't find myself wondering about how anything works with the exception of two things. There were two things that I just really didn't understand and were glossed over a bit, I felt. 

As a reader, I'm greedy. I'm greedy as hell. I want ever morsel of information that the author is willing to give PLUS a handful of things that they aren't. Now, were these two items a big deal? Not really. It didn't change my reading experience when I didn't really understand them and to be honest, there's a chance that I skipped over the part where it was explained. I kind of devoured The City Center and found myself having to reread paragraphs because I was just going way too fast. You know how that is. 

I really liked the main characters and I became Ava's cheerleader pretty quickly. She's a smart and spunky character that you can't help but root for. I was excited to see what she was up to with each chapter and Pond really kept me on my toes with her. Just when I thought that Ava was in a situation that she couldn't handle, she did. Don't read that as me saying that Ava was written conveniently ... she didn't get out of impossible situations because she found (conveniently) the exact item that she needed or coincidentally something fell from the sky at exactly the right moment ... no. Ava used her wits and training at surprising moments that really boosted the story to a whole new level within the young adult genre. She was just a really well character that I enjoyed thoroughly. 

But. (Come on, you had to know it was coming since I didn't give this book that I really enjoyed 5 stars). Okay... here it is ... the problem was the end. I just didn't like it. Like I said, I'm a greedy reader. I want to know EVERYTHING. Up until the last 15%, the book was moving at a perfect pace - quickly, but not so fast that things were missed but not so slow as to make me want to throw my Kindle out the window. But then that last bit of the book came along and it seemed like things started happening at this break-neck speed. I felt a bit robbed. I want to know the nitty-gritty details. Make the book a little longer, I don't care or make it shorter and pop that last part into a new novel or a novella even. ANYTHING but rushing through. Le sigh. 

All in all, this was such a good book that I really enjoyed. I'm excited to jump into the next novel and see what Ava is up to now!

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
This is one of those books that I really went back and forth on for the rating. The difference is with this one, my amount of stars went from 1 to 5 to 2 to 5 to 4 and over and over. I just really didn't know what to think of this novel. 
Gosh ... where to start ... when you begin reading Gone Girl, you think that you have this whole thing pegged within the first page. But then you read the third page and your views change and THEN you think you have it all figured out. It was almost with every page that something would change and you would think that you knew what was going on just to have your ass handed to you in the next paragraph and to be totally confused. Here ... it's like that game you play where you put your forehead on a baseball bat that is on the ground and you try to run around it then after so many rotations, you have to drop the bat and run to your team or whatever. That game is how this book makes you feel. You watch other people read this and you think that you can handle it and you won't get confused because you've been around the block - you've read so many books that you think the author can't pull the wool over your eyes. Well I call bullshit. I can guarantee that you can't figure this book out. It will keep you totally in the dark until the very last page. 
The characters ... I can't say much because I don't want to give anything away so this will be difficult. Okay ... the characters are ... endearing. And deplorable. And the victim and the aggressor and the con-artist and so many other very contradictory words. I can't really talk about the characters. This feels like Fight Club. Rule #1 ...
I'll just say this, Gillian Flynn is completely twisted. She can write a book like none I've ever read. But a totally screwed up mind is the only one that could come up with the crap on these pages. That's all I've got. I can't say any more. I think that I'm glad I jumped on the bandwagon for this one and decided to pick Gone Girl up. And I'll probably read this one again because I'm sure there are things that I missed in my rush to read as quickly as possible so that I could find out what in the hell was going on. Geez. This is a messed up book. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: Sparrow 59 (The Sleepers' Coalition #1) by Devon Ashley

Members of the CIA’s specialized team Sparrow, who investigate specifically into black market deals involving stolen medical research, were all murdered in one quick sweep. Drew and Samantha, team five-nine, have been more than just partners since their academy training days. Safeguarding their secret tryst from everyone in their professional lives, they trust no one but themselves. But when Samantha finds herself suspiciously spared and Drew missing, she doesn’t want to believe what the CIA claims – that Drew is not only alive and has defected from their organization, but is facilitating the deaths of prominent research developers worldwide. Now the only member of Sparrow who hasn’t been killed off, Samantha finds herself under serious investigation by association – and a prisoner within her own home.

Just when she’s on the verge of being labeled a murderer and a traitor herself, Drew activates a beacon only she can see, taunting her from across the world. He knows she’s watching, and she knows he could be gone forever if she doesn't oblige his silent request. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, Sam goes rogue to track him down and clear her good name. But when she finally catches up to her partner of four years, he hasn’t a clue who he is or what he’s done, and the men chasing him down suddenly want to acquire her as well.

Frantic yet determined, Samantha is forced to protect a man she no longer trusts in order to learn why he went astray – and why his associates are determined to retrieve him. But is Drew really a victim himself in a much greater scheme, or will his memories prove lethal, leading Sam into harm’s way like a lamb to slaughter, ultimately risking the life of the only member of Sparrow he managed to save?

The first thing I saw when looking into this book was that it was compared to Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Bourne Identity. When I read that, I knew that this novel was for me. It's got the spy stuff (which I LOVE) and then its got the romance and excitement and suspense and what a wondrous combination it is!

I've read another novel by Devon Ashley, so I figured that I would enjoy this one as well. And man, did I ever. I couldn't seem to get enough. I positively devoured this novel. It was such an interesting spin on spies and I thought that with the characters being so young that it would really add a new twist and it did. Devon Ashley did a marvelous job in this basically barren New Adult/Spy sub-genre. To be honest, I really didn't know how this novel would go ... you would think that writing romancey-new adult novels would be a bit different from cranking one of these things out. Anyhow ...

As I've come to expect from Devon Ashley, the characters were very well written. I, once again, found myself connecting with each of the main characters even though I really had nothing in common with them. And that's a weird thing to transpire - I have NOTHING in common with these characters ... I'm not in my 20's, I wasn't living on the streets, I'm not a spy and countless other differentiations. Yet, I could really see myself in each of them. It was the weirdest thing. But that's the power of a great writer ... they can make you have some sort of connection with things that are so far out of your realm. 

The story itself was really interesting. I didn't find myself skipping paragraphs to get away from boring parts or skimming pages because I just wanted to push through. No, I blazed through this whole thing because I was so excited to get to the end. Speaking of which ... the end was ... the end was bullshit. I was completely shocked and amazed and pissed and about 9 billion other things. Oh, this next one better come out soon, that's all I have to say.

This comes out December 16th. Preorder NOW!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.


I've read quite a few Debbie Macomber books in my time and this one doesn't disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this novel. It's one of those simple stories that has such feeling behind it that you can't help but love it. 

The characters were awesome. I adored Carrie from the first word of this book and I wanted to punch Finn in the face from the very first paragraph involving him. Finn is that guy that you really love to hate to begin with and then he grows on you and then you wonder what in the world you ever did without him in the first place and how you can never be totally complete unless he's by your side. I married Finn's twin brother apparently. Carrie was exactly what I wanted her to be ... sweet and patient and almost unbearably kind. She's the type of character that I always find myself rooting for especially when the chips are down. And Finn couldn't have been more opposite from her. It was interesting watching their relationship change with the ebb and flow of outside factors. 

I really enjoyed everything about this novel. Although ... it has made me miss the snow, something fierce. This is a great book to read when you're sitting in the airport this year waiting for your flight home. A great book for the holidays and I'm so glad that I waited to read it until now!

Review: Inhuman (Fetch #1) by Kat Falls

In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plant-life has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

I received this book a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Geez ... it was like a year ago. I don't know why it took me so long to pick it up. I think that at the time when I first got it, I was super excited. I had been on this dystopian kick that I didn't think I was going to get tired of ... well ... I did, apparently. There CAN be too much of a good thing. I was just gorging on these YA dystopias like they were going out of style and man did it come back to bite me in the ass. I made myself sick of them. If I heard about one more dystopian novel, I was going to scream. So I decided not to read this one when I was so completely dead set against the genre. 

Which I think turned out for the best. Because by the time I picked this one up, it had been quite a while since I had read anything else like it. Not that I have ever read anything else quite like this one ... it was pretty out there. I'm not a huge science fiction fan, so this one was a bit of a reach for me. Can you imagine ... people crossed with animals ... while the concept of talking animals isn't anything new, especially in children's movies, this novel was anything but tired and done. 

The whole concept behind this novel was very intriguing and not very far-fetched. Almost immediately I became obsessed with Lane and the journey she was on. It was interesting getting to go on this trek with her and things being as foreign to the main character as they are to the reader. I found all of the characters intriguing in some way and I had a small attachment to each of them as the story progressed. 

When I first received this novel, I knew nothing of it being the first installment in a series. I often hoped that the story would wrap itself up so I could find out how things ended but at the same time, I was wishing that there would be a continuation so that the adventure didn't have to stop. Thank goodness, there will be a second installment ... especially since this one ended in such a cliffhanger. I'm interested to see how everything plays out in the next novel. I won't lie ... I'll need to reread this one before I get into the second one because I devoured it so quickly, I'm sure that I missed some important things.