May 31, 2012

Book #60 - Awake at Dawn (Shadow Falls #2)

Awake at Dawn (Shadow Falls #2), C. C. Hunter
383 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/23/12
Finished 5/24/12

This was one of those weird books that I really liked, but was really annoyed by all at the same time. You know what I'm talking about. It's a good story with interesting characters and a cool world. But, sometimes they seem like they're hamsters running in a wheel - there's lots of action, but they never really get anywhere.

At the end of the first book, Kylie was trying to decide between Logan and Derek, trying to figure out what exactly she is (fae, were or vamp), talking to ghosts, and being pissed off at her dad. Although there's some really fun and exciting things that happen during the course of Kylie's adventures, at the end, guess where she is? Still trying to decide between Derek and Logan, still unsure of what she is, still talking to unsettled ghosts and EXTRA pissed at her dad. See what I mean?

What I found exciting and enticing at the end of Born at Midnight, I now find irritating. Then, it was cool that I didn't know what she was. By now, I'd expect some forward movement; some progress in the storyline. Maybe a few hints at what she might be. But, instead, there's only more confusion. And, this thing between her, Logan and Derek. I get the YA love triangle - most authors feel it's an essential plot device. Why, I don't know. I'm sure they could find a more clever way to angstify their stories without a girl-loves-boy-but-maybe-she-loves-the-other-boy plot.

The saving grace are the relationships Kylie forms with her BFFs. That and Derek. I really dig that half-fairy. 

May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

I've been on a Jennifer L. Armentrout bender for about a month now. I've read every one of her YA books that has been officially released, and you'll note that my Waiting on Wednesday post from last week was also for  JLA book. In keeping with my current one-track mind, This week's Waiting on Wednesday post is about...

Deity (Covenant #3)
By:  Jennifer L. Armentrout
Due Out:  November 6, 2012

Daimon (Covenant #0.5) was the very first JLA book I ever read. The characters and the world captivated me and made me crave the remainder of the Covenant series. I've now read all that I can, and I can't believe I still have to wait almost six months until Deity comes out. It's making me crazy! Especially since Pure (Covenant #2) ended with such a bang.

May 29, 2012

Book #59 - My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1)

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1), Rachel Vincent
279 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/21/12
Finished 5/22/12

I really like stories that surprise me. And, this one surprised me. Just when I think that the limit has been capped on the imagination, I'm happy to find that there are still some authors out there that are still capable of coming up with fresh ideas. It's a fun discovery for a reader like me.

Kaylee has a secret. She can tell when people are going to die. And the way she can tell this is she has a nearly uncontrollable urge to scream bloody murder. It's distracting and horrible and she feels like a complete freak. And then she meets Nash. For some reason, he's the only person she's met that can settle her soul when she gets the urge to scream. But, now girls are dying around town with no apparent reason, and Kaylee is determined to find out why so that her soul can find some rest, as well as theirs.

This was kind of a sad story, what with all the death and whatnot. But, the end was kinda explosive and surprising. I liked that Kaylee was confused and curious, yet strong in her desire to learn more about herself and what she could and could not do. I thought she and Nash got together a little quickly (I like it when couples have to work for it), but it was inevitable, anyway.

I enjoyed all the twists and turns and big reveals. I hope the surprises continue in future books. I'm excited to check out the second one. 

May 26, 2012

Book #58 - Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4)

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4), J. R. Ward
480 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/18/12
Finished 5/20/12

Oh, Black Dagger Brotherhood, how I love thee. Let me count the ways.

#1) Large Hot Guys in Leather - Um, enough said.

#2) Strong, Capable Women - Every BDB story in the series features a woman who not only has effectively handled her own trials and adversities, but when faced with helping her love through his as well, she welcomes the burden. This story was no different. Marissa is shunned among her own and dissed by Butch, the human man that she likes. Yet, when he is severely injured, she doesn't think twice about staying by his side 24/7 until he is better. He is rough; she is refined. He is experienced; she is beyond virginal. She persevered through their differences to find their similarities - their common goals. I want to be like that.

#3) Exciting Stories - Each book features a different brother and his story of how he came to be one. All of them have experienced tragedy in unspeakable ways. Butch is a little different, however, He hasn't been around for hundreds of years like the others - only 37. He's not a vampire. He doesn't have any special powers or abilities. But, he does have the heart of a warrior and the desire to protect those he cares about with his life. This makes for an incredible story with great action scenes, just like the others.

#4) Friendships That Span Time - Although these guys aren't really "brothers," they may as well be. Wrath, Vishous, Rhage, Phury, Zsadist and Tohrment would sacrifice themselves in a New York minute if it meant saving one of their own. And, when Butch joins the group and starts his awesome "bromance" with Vishous, he adopts that attitude as well. He has a special relationship with V - they are the epitome of best friends. And, that makes this particular book extra good.

#5) Large, Hot Guys in Leather - I know I mentioned it once before, but it was worth mentioning again. :)

May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

I didn't even know this series existed a month ago. And, now, I think this book is the one I'm looking forward to the most.

Onyx (Lux #2)
By:  Jennifer L. Armentrout
Due Out:  August 14, 2012

Please - someone tell me that I do not have to wait three very LONG months until I can read Onyx. Three months until I can find out where Daemon and Katy's relationship goes - or even if they have one. Does Katy have any lasting effects from what happened to her at the end of Obsidian (Lux #1)? Does the DOD know?

I enjoyed Obsidian more than I ever thought I would (check out my review). It's at times like these that I descend into shallowness and wish that I had a wildly popular blog that drew review requests and offers for ARCs from the major publishers. Because, if I had one of those blogs, I'd have already read Onyx by now. And, everyone that knows me knows that I have a problem with patience. I don't have much of it.

But, hey - it's all good. I love the readers I have (all 2 of you). And, perhaps the anticipation is part of the allure. I'm imagining all sorts of cool stuff awaiting Daemon and Katy and Dee. I'm sure it will end up being even better than all that. 

May 21, 2012

Book #57 - Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12), Charlaine Harris
327 pages
urban fantasy
Started 5/13/12
Finished 5/17/12

Why do I keep doing this to myself? My "must-finish-the-series-even-though-it-sucks"-itis has reared its ugly head yet again and caused me to suffer for nearly five days. Even though I have been disenfranchised with the Sookie Stackhouse series for the past four or five books, I still feel the need to see it through to the end. What can I say? I am a glutton for punishment.

This book could be summed up in one word. BO-RING. Why does CH think we care about all the mundane things Sookie does during her day? Let me tell you something, Ms. Harris. I read to take myself out of my own hum-drum life for a little while and let my mind go to exciting places with interesting people. I don't give a crap about a character who visits Taco Bell and the DQ for a good time, the daily workings of a bar and grill, or the recipe for sweet potato casserole. And, now, I don't really give a crap about any of the characters that I used to love. Sad. So sad.

Even though this is a series built around a girl's relationship with vampires in her community, said vampires weren't even present until 15% into the book. Both Eric and Bill are mere shadows of what they once were. They are sniveling, whining wimps who bow to the whims of a boring waitress with a crap attitude. And all Sookie does anymore is bemoan her lot in life. Well, guess what? I happen to think that Sookie should be thanking her lucky stars for her involvement in the supe community, because without them in her life, she would be the most dull person on the face of the Earth.

So, will I read the 13th and final (I HOPE) crap-tastic book in this series? *sigh* Yes - it is highly likely that the sickness will descend yet again and steal my good sense for another week. You can say, "I told you so."

May 17, 2012

Book #56 - City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments #5)

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5), Cassandra Clare
536 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/10/12
Finished 5/12/12

Jace and Clary are back! *doing my happy dance* I missed them so much, and frankly, I was a little disappointed by the last installment of their story. I had high hopes for City of Lost Souls, which hit the stands on May 8 this year. If I'm going to be honest with myself, I don't know if it would've mattered terribly if this book was not a great one. I love the characters that Cassandra Clare has created and the world in which they live so much - Jace, Clary, Simon, Isabelle, Alec and Magnus have become a bookish family of mine.

Jace is missing. Everyone is desperate to find him - especially Clary, as one might assume. Not only that, but big baddie Sebastian is missing as well, and everyone assumes they are together - NOT a good thing. And, in fact, when they are finally found, nothing is as it should be. Our rag tag group of heroes splits up, both trying different ways to right the wrongs. It all culminates in the end with an epic battle and some more confusion. Which, of course, I'm sure, will be all cleared up in the sixth and final book, due out next year.

For the first time, I'm really taking an invested interest in the peripheral story lines. For the first three books in TMI, it was all Jace and Clary with a few tidbits thrown in about the others. Starting with the last book, we started exploring what Simon's new lifestyle means to him, how Alec and Magnus are getting on now that they're "out," and the softer side of Isabelle. Although Jace and Clary are still the characters at the forefront of our story,  the others deepen the overarching story and help build the world even further. I absolutely love it.

If I had any complaints about City of Lost Souls it's only that I'm honestly getting a little tired of Jace and Clary constantly being pulled apart. For the love of all that is holy, can't these two kids just be happy together for ONCE?? They love each other so much, and it's so heartbreaking that they just can't seem to find that happy place and settle down and just BE. If I could imagine a perfect ending for this epic story, it would be for Jace and Clary to fight side-by-side to bring down the enemy, and then go on vacay to Hawaii for a month or so before coming home and getting married. You hear me, Cassie? Let's get these two together forever finally!

May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for. This week, it's a Julie Kagawa two-fer.

The Iron Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1)
By:  Julie Kagawa
Due Out:  October 23, 2012

I am SO excited for this book!! The Iron Fey series is one of my favorite, so I was so happy when I read that we had not seen the end of the Nevernever after all. The Iron Prince takes place 13 years or so after the conclusion of The Iron Knight and follows Meghan's brother, Ethan. I don't know how or why or where, and, frankly, I don't care. All I care about is that there's a possibility that Ash might show up at some point. Yay!

The Iron Legends (The Iron Fey #1.5, #3.5, #4.5)
By:  Julie Kagawa
Due Out:  August 28, 2012

The Iron Legends is a collection of the short stories that fit in between the Iron Fey books, all combined under one cover. It includes Winter's Passage (#1.5), Summer's Crossing (#3.5), and the never-before-seen Iron's Prophecy (#4.5). I've already read Winter's Passage and Summer's Crossing. I always thought after closing the book (literally) on The Iron Knight that I had read the last word in Ash and Meghan's story. Imagine my delight when I heard of this new collection of the Iron Fey short stories - that it includes a new one that takes place after the conclusion of the final book. Even though I own the other two stories for my Kindle already, I won't hesitate to purchase The Iron Legends the day it publishes.

May 15, 2012

Amazing Books - Amazing Price

Can I make an official recommendation? Read Lisa Tawn Bergren's River of Time series. Like, NOW. I've read each of them three times. For me, that's serious business. And, if you own a Kindle, you can now own all three of them for only $4 each! It's an incredible series - please don't miss out on this opportunity.

Waterfall (River of Time #1)
What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaelogist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds...until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. (from Goodreads)

Cascade (River of Time #2)
Mom touched my underdress—a gown made six hundred years before—and her eyes widened as she rubbed the raw silk between thumb and forefinger. She turned and touched Lia’s gown. “Where did you get these clothes?”

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.

But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever. (from Goodreads)

Torrent (River of Time #3)
When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times.
But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death. (from Goodreads)

Book #55 - Obsidian (Lux #1)

Obsidian (Lux #1), Jennifer L. Armentrout
299 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/5/12
Finished 5/6/12

In all the books I've read about all the supernatural beings, this is the first one I've read about aliens. I have lots of experience with vampires, weres, shifters, faeries, demons, angels and dragons. But no experience with ET. Obsidian has set the bar very high. I believe that all other alien books that I read (are there lots out there?) will be measured against this one. Because it was So. Good! (*doing my happy-awesome-book dance*)

Katy moves to West Virginia (insert Dueling Banjos theme here) with her mom to get away from the bad memories of her dad dying. She is immediately filled with very mixed feelings about her neighbor Daemon. He's absolutely beautiful - until he opens his mouth. What. A. Jerk. His saving grace is his sister, Dee, whom Katy becomes fast friends with. The problem is, the more she fights with him, the harder it is for Katy to stay away. And, then she starts seeing things when he and his sister are around. Around the same time some big danger comes to town too. Coincidence? Probably not.

I loved this book as much as I love curling up with a good cup of coffee in my "comfy pants" (which is A LOT). I love that Katy and Daemon kinda hate each other. Buuuuuut, they kinda love each other too. That makes for some fun, caustic dialog. Armentrout was really brilliant in this book. She had me hanging on every word, wondering what event would finally throw Katy and Daemon together for good. I loved that they would fight bitterly one minute and do something selfless and amazing the next. It was exciting. I can't wait until Onyx (Lux #2) comes out!

May 14, 2012

Book #54 - Insurgent (Divergent #2)

Insurgent (Divergent #2), Veronica Roth
525 pages
Started 5/4/12
Finished 5/5/12

I read Divergent in November 2011, and for the first time since The Hunger Games, I was deeply compelled by a dystopian novel. And, I think I've said before that dystopian isn't exactly my genre of choice. As a general rule, they are dark, violent and depressing. Me? I'm a happy person. I like romance, happy endings, hearts and flowers. And, against all understanding, I LOVE this series.

The factions are no more - not like they were, anyway. Tris' and Tobias' city is in a complete uproar. Initially, the couple and their friends escape to Amity, hoping to find an impartial refuge from the Erudite and Dauntless members out to kill those who refuse to lie down. They aren't there long before they realize that their Dauntless nature doesn't mix well with the hippy dippy Amity, and they have to leave. Throughout the course of the book, their travels take them all over their civilization - in fact, they at least visit, and in most cases sleep, in every faction's headquarters. Tris and Tobias even take a side trip to see the factionless. All in an effort to bring down the Erudite and Dauntless traitors and restore some semblance of order to their world.

The thing is, this book IS dark. It is violent. And, yes, it's depressing. It's everything a good dystopian novel should be. But, there's an overarching message of hope. That two people - especially two people with a lot of love for each other - really can change the world.

To be fair, Tris is pretty fair annoying for a lot of the book. She's a little mopey and enjoys a lot of self-loathing. I mean, A LOT. I probably would too if I had been in her shoes. But, it was infuriating to see her wallowing in self-pity when this wonderful, strong man is standing by her side, desperately trying to help her, and she keeps pushing him away. The love she has for him never really goes away though, and she finds a way to push the bad feelings aside and tries to do what she knows is right. I think that is why I love this story.

May 13, 2012

Book #53 - Pure (Convenant #2)

Pure (Covenant #2), Jennifer L. Armentrout
329 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/2/12
Finished 5/4/12

As soon as I finished Half-Blood, I had to immediately start Pure. I was really feeling invested in these characters lives, and I really wanted to see what happened next. And, by the way, aren't the covers of these books beautiful?

It's time for Alex to stand up and make some decisions. Some major choices about her life. After the explosive and emotional end to Half-Blood, she is still in limbo in many ways. She doesn't seem to know how to properly deal with her mother's death. She doesn't quite know what to make of her relationship with Seth. And, she's more in love with Aiden than ever. But, the rules haven't changed - having a relationship with him makes her into either a brainless servant at best; dead at worst. So, what does she do?

Thankfully, Alex does take some semblance of control of her life. Albeit, her hand was sort of forced to make a few of those tough choices. But, she makes them and starts to move on. Alex really is such a strong character. In the face of some really awful circumstances and some impossible situations, she tries to take the high road and save as many of those she loves as possible. Her love for Aiden is true and heartbreaking. And, the friendships she forms are real, believable and fulfilling. 

My most favorite books are those that feature impossible situations. We, as readers, trust that the author will somehow, someway, make the impossible, possible. But, the ride - the trip to the possible - is the most fun part of reading.

May 8, 2012

Book #52 - Half-Blood (Covenant #1)

Half-Blood (Covenant #1), Jennifer L. Armentrout
281 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 5/1/12
Finished 5/2/12

I read the prequel to Half-Blood, Daimon, a few months ago to see if I could get a feel for what the series and author, Jennifer Armentrout, would be like. She was a new author to me, but most of my Goodreads friends really love her books. The good news is, my friends know what they're talking about. And, based on the 60-odd pages that I read, I knew I was in for a good series.

Alex's father is a mortal man, and her mother is half-mortal, half-God. Alex is a half-blood, which in their society, is equal to a second-class citizen. Half-bloods are raised to either be body guards or mindless servants for the pures. The two groups tentatively hang out and certainly never date. So, Alex is a little freaked out when, after returning to The Covenant (the school that trains bodyguards, or Sentinels) after a three-year absence, she finds herself falling in love with her trainer. Aiden. A Pure. Not to mention that she's dealing with the death of her mother at the same time. Poor Alex has a lot on her mind.

Sometimes YA authors seem to get it in their heads that the teens in their books need to talk or act a certain way. It almost becomes like a caricature of what a real teen is like. Either the character says things that are completely ridiculous, or they act much older than they're supposed to. It's so frustrating sometimes.

Armentrout seems to not fall into this trap, though.Her characters, aged 17, 19 and 21, sound like kids those ages. They use occasional bad language. Mouth off to their superiors, and even say intelligent things sometimes. They worry about small things and big things. It's very refreshing.

Half-Blood was a fast, easy read for me. Armentrout's writing is so smooth and enjoyable. I can't wait to see what happens next.    

May 7, 2012

April Book Report

This was a month for love! I completed two installments of one of my favorite series, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, plus all three Fifty Shades books in April.

Books Read - 12
Books Read To Date - 51
Total Pages Read - 19,948
Favorite Book of the Month - Fifty Shades Darker

I read several books that I deemed were 5-star-worthy this month, but one stood out as more 5-stary than the rest. The entire Fifty Shades series absolutely blew me away. I'll try to spare you from all the gushing (I'm sure you got enough of that in my reviews for each book) again. But, of all the books I've ever read, these three are among the best. And, of the three in the series, the middle book, Fifty Shades Darker, is my favorite. So much is revealed and accomplished. I laughed. I cried. I swore. Ahhh. THAT is good literature.  

May 5, 2012

Book #51 - The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires #2)

The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires #2), Rachel Caine
380 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/29/12
Finished 4/30/12

You know I love me some vampire stories. For all intents and purposes, this was a pretty good one. I actually enjoyed it better than Glass Houses. Which is good, because I was a little worried when I saw the cover (I think it's dreadful).

So, although Claire has protection now from one of the most powerful vampires in Morganville, the baddies still seem to be after her and her friends. Now, added to the mix is her boyfriend's psycho dad who is bound to get them all killed.

I thought this book was a bit darker and grittier than the first book, which is a good thing. Being that the main character is a 16-year-old girl, the potential for extreme bubble gum is there. However, although Claire is supposed to be 16, she seems much older than that. Until she's with Shane, and then some of the things that come out of her mouth make her seem actually younger than her supposed 16 years. It was one of those little annoyances that nag at you throughout, you know what I mean?

The other thing that bugged me about this book was the title. I thought before I read it that the Dead Girls' Dance would be a focal point in the book. In actuality, it took up only a dozen or so pages and wasn't a major turning point in the book at all. Not sure how this minor event got top billing on the cover.

However, despite all that, the progress in the various characters' story lines was satisfying. It was nice to see the couples grow closer, to see the conflicts get messier, the bad guys get badder. If it hadn't been for that progression, I think I'd abandon the series right here.

May 3, 2012

Book #50 - Pandemonium (Delirium #2)

Pandemonium (Delirium #2), Lauren Oliver
375 pages
Started 4/27/12
Finished 4/29/12

Le sigh. I really, really wanted to love this book. Because I really loved Delirium. So, it was with a heavy heart that I closed the book and realized that it definitely had not lived up to my expectations.

Last we saw Lena she had escaped to the Wilds alone. She meets up with a rag tag group of Invalids, learns the ropes of survival from them and becomes one of their foot soldiers for the resistance. While on a mission that goes awry, Lena is thrown together with Julian, the poster child for the oppressive government regime hell bent on performing the procedure on kids younger than 18. Their fight for survival forms a bond between them that will not be easily broken.

The story alternates between the past and present tense, with six months between. It was pretty confusing at first, getting the hang of the pacing and where we were supposed to be in the story. Sometimes, those plot devices work, but it just didn't feel like they did in this case.

But, beyond that, this was just a really sad book. I just don't like sad books.   

May 1, 2012

Book #49 - The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1), Aimee Carter
304 pages
Started 4/25/12
Finished 4/26/12

I'm not sure if my lukewarm reception to this book is because it is truly just mediocre, or because it followed a series of books that I fell in love with - they were a tough act to follow, and The Goddess Test didn't really come close.

Kate Winters moves to the town of Eden with her dying mother. Going through the motions, not really desiring any friends, Kate is pretty miserable, pretty much all the time. Then, the popular girl, Ava, dies right in front of Kate, and Kate watches a mysterious boy bring her back to life. Suddenly, there is some hope for her to have more time with her mom. But, in order for that to happen, Kate has to agree to spend six months with the boy, Henry, a.k.a. Hades, taking seven tests. If she passes, she becomes queen of the underworld and Henry's wife. If she fails, well, bad stuff would happen.

Now, I'm a huge fan of Greek mythology. I always have been. They are the original fantasy stories - how could I not love them? And, I have really enjoyed all the modern plays on the Greek myths. Author Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and The Lost Heroes series are both brilliant. So, I really had high hopes for The Goddess Test.

Instead, it just felt flat and lifeless throughout. There was no real excitement or suspense. The characters were very one-dimensional. I never really bought the budding romance between Henry and Kate. It seemed so sudden and forced. The big twists at the end weren't really twists. The sad thing is, this is a really cool concept. It could have been executed so. much. better. The next book in the series, Goddess Interrupted was just released about a month ago, and I do plan to give Aimee Carter another shot. I do love the mythology and the characters in mythology - I hope the second book pulls it off better than this one did.