Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review: RUINED by Jus Accardo

Summary from Goodreads:

 
A new adult novel from Entangled's Embrace imprint...

Hell is looking for a way to break loose…

Jax lost the genetic lottery. Descended from Cain, the world's first murderer, he's plagued by a curse that demands violence in exchange for his happiness. He left everything behind, including the girl he loved, but thriving on the pain of others is lonely… And it's killing him.

After a series of heartbreaking losses, Samantha put rubber to pavement and headed for college as fast as her clunker could carry her. But she can't outrun her problems. When an attack at school drives her back home, she's thrown into the path of a past—and a guy—she's been trying to forget.

Sam strains Jax's control over his darkness, but running isn't an option this time. Someone—or, something—followed her home from school: a ruthless monster with a twisted plan centuries in the making. Forced together to survive, and fighting an attraction that could destroy them both, Jax and Sam must stop a killer bent on revenge.


NOTE: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I can't say that Jus Accardo is my most favorite author, but she is among the Top 50 that I'd read if given the chance. With that said, I was a little disappointed by Ruined. Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable, but sometimes the 'tell' got a little too much for my taste.

Writing style:
It was good. Not amazingly great (unfortunately), but good enough to entertain. I liked the unique voice of each character and that Accardo didn't bore me to death with super detailed descriptions. I didn't like the overuse of foul language though.

Story line:
A bunch of girls are found dead. Only they appear to all look like Sam (our female lead) and they turn out in places where Jax (the male lead) has happened to stay for a night or two. The questions keep on coming but the two most important are: 1) who is the murderer? and 2) is he/she onto Jax, or onto Sam?

Themes:
- Trying to run away from your problems is never the right decision.
- Being the bad boy isn't always good. Or funny. Usually it's messed up.
- The bad boy isn't always the most dangerous one.
- Sometimes life requires sacrifices. The question is, can we handle them?
- The impossible love relationship is on.

Characters:
I was quite a bit disappointed in Jax's character. Other than having killer looks, horrible temper and sometimes lack of self-control we don't really learn much about him (other that he's a descendent of Cain and carries his curse). I got bothered a lot by his always 'saying' that he's in pain when the demon inside him is hungry. For all readers' sake, don't 'tell' me he was in pain, 'show' me, so I can feel it too at some level. This goes on and on chapter after chapter. It was annoying and frankly, it killed a lot of the story for me.
Other than that, Jax was impulsive and violent. Sure, he did resemble some kind of self-control which was commendable, but it wasn't enough. Although, if you really think about it, he must've been pretty strong to exercise such control over the demon who resided in him (Azirak I believe was the name).

Now I've got a few things to say about Sam. that girl was either super stupid and unobservant or she took belief in coincidence to a whole new level. I mean, all sorts of suspicious things happen in her life - to her! - threats and such, and she doesn't do anything about them but complain and try to reason them to coincidence.
What I liked about her was how she called Jax's crap when he was trying to get her angry and push him away. In that perspective it seemed that her brains and observation worked perfectly.

Jax had a twin brother who played the 'good' guy. Despite being a world class player, the whole town was wrapped around his finger. I don't remember his name, nor will I say much about him, because it may spoil your read, but just... don't take him lightly.

In conclusion:
My words above may have sounded harsh, but they're honest and I'm not changing them. Still, I would recommend the book to readers of paranormal romance/urban fantasy, because it's a fast pace, enjoyable read that will have you turning the page even if it's not all that spectacular.

My rating is:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Where Life Takes You by Claudia Y. Burgoa

Summary from Goodreads:

BECCA TRENT LIVED HER CHILDHOOD NEXT TO A CRUEL WOMAN—her mom—who lived to torment and neglect her. During her high school years, her mother married; bringing home not only a new husband, but a step sister her same age. The latter took over her Mom's role—making Becca's life miserable. Including stealing Ian—Becca's best friend and boyfriend—Lisa treated her worse than her mother had for the previous fifteen years. A couple years later, thing ended up in tragedy.

Becca buried that part of her life in the deep corners of her psyche, caught between sanity and nightmares. Between therapy, work and her constantly looming past she can't seem to find room to breathe. The memories of her late step-sister, Lisa, are her closest company.

Her best friend, Dan gives her that family love she always lacked. Everything was close to perfect, until everything and everyone from her past came back. Now she's trying to figure out how to survive and keep that bond which seems now to be held together by a thread.

Note: This is the first part of a two book novel


NOTE: I received a copy from the author via Xpresso Book Tours. This is my honest review.

WARNING:
I need to say this up front, so whoever's reading the review now, could decide if they want to keep on reading. This book contains mature scenes, and scenes of sexual abuse. Be warned that I wouldn't recommend it for readers younger than 18, or such with soft hearts. If you identify yourself with one of those categories of readers, please move onto something else. Otherwise, continue - you will probably enjoy the book as much as I did. Thanks!



From the moment I read the synopsis ages ago, I was hooked. Too bad I'd forgotten which book the synopsis belonged to. It took me a while to figure it out, but finally - finally I did, and I read Where Life Takes You in almost one sitting. I was extremely pleased with how it clenched my heart and even now won't let go until I get my hands on book two - Next To You.

Burgoa has done an amazing job writing a beautiful story with realistic characters who had to deal with life any way they could.

Writing style:
Intoxicating, to be honest. It grabbed me from the very first page and I couldn't make myself put it down. Such a narrative isn't very easy to find.

Story line:
One thing I want to say as a start - this book is not a cliche that you've read 100 times before. There's no story like this one that I've read in the past, so it's safe to say it's original. Yet, it's got everything to make it a great, fulfilling story. It has love and passion, it has misery, doubt, pain. It's got real life drama that will hook you up.

Themes:
-Parental neglect and hatred and how a child can cope with them
-Bullying, in its worst form
-Rape and how it lives on in the mind of the victim
-Love, that (perhaps) can conquer all
-Friendships that are strong enough to keep you going even in the darkest times

Characters:
In the beginning, Becca appeared to be just a normal girl. Sure, she had some mediocre problems, and we learned a little about her not-so-pink past, but it's no biggie. Then things started to clear out and page after intoxicating page, we're plunged into the life of a young woman who was so broken inside, she had no idea if she could ever be mended and become whole again. Her past has never been butterflies and flowers. She's been neglected and hated by her mother, terrorized by her step-sister and her former best friend. She has been traumatized on so many levels, I honestly couldn't believe that she was still standing and fighting.
Becca was one incredibly brave girl, even though sometimes it appeared like she just allowed others to take charge. She put one foot in front of the other and kept going, because she was a survivor.

Daniel was Becca's best friend, even though it's completely obvious to the reader that he is actually in love with her. Honestly, he was a little overbearing at times. I thought he was ridiculous with how he ordered everyone around, like he owned the world (and yup, he was filthy rich). But then I actually analyzed the situation, and I realized that Daniel was the super glue that held Becca together. He was like a pillar to hold her up. He gave everything he could to keep her fighting her battles, to make her want to survive. He was bossy because it seemed that she needed that kind of person in her life.

Tyler, Becca's step-brother was a guy with a good heart and a conscience. In the past, he'd made mistakes that made Becca's life turn into an even lower level of hell. Not intentionally of course, but he felt guilty that he hadn't acted on his real sister Lisa's threats as he should have. In the present, he protected Becca and was the big brother that she actually needed. I was happy those two stitched their relationship.

The Lisa chick was insane to the tips of her hair. I could not believe everything that she'd put Becca through. She obviously should've gotten some medical/psychological attention after her mom's suicide.

In conclusion
Where Life Takes You sure is a ride with so many ups and downs, it's hard to count them. It made my heart racing and if you give it a chance, I'm sure it will captivate you too.

My rating is:


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #15


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog post by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights releases we're eagerly awaiting.

My picks this week are:

#1





Title: River's Remorse
Series:The Sanctuary Series, Book2
Genre: paranormal
Audience: NA/YA
Author: Charlotte Abel
Release date: Summer, 2014
Publisher: indie

Summary:

No official summary yet. I know, it's kind of frustrating, but you know what? Having a cover is still a lot. I may do a separate feature once the summary is out.

 Why I want to read it:
River's Recruit - the first book in this series, had me gasping for breath. It was so intense, my heart was clenched all the way through to the last page. I seriously can't wait to get my hands on River's Remorse and I do suggest you get up to date on this series. It's AWESOME!

#2





Title: Mine to Spell
Series:Mine, Book2
Genre: fantasy
Audience: YA
Author: Janeal Falor
Release date: May 5th, 2014
Publisher: indie

Summary:

Cynthia has always hidden from her father’s hexes behind her older sister. When her family gains independence unheard of for women, she’s relieved that her days of harsh punishments are over. But as her seventeenth birthday approaches—the typical age to be sold to a new master—death threats endanger her sisters. She now faces two options: run or meet society’s expectations.

For once, Cynthia isn’t going to let her older sister shield her from the problem. She’s going to prove to herself, her sisters, and society that her family isn’t a threat to their traditions. She willingly chooses to be purchased by a new master. A bold step that takes her somewhere she never thought she would go and to a man she might possibly fall in love with. With his help, she may just find a way to save her sisters while discovering how to stand up for herself. If she lives long enough.

 Why I want to read it:
You Are Mine, the first book in the Mine series, was incredibly well written. The story was original and it devastated me when I finished it. I literally inhaled it, so yes, you see why I can't wait to read Mine to Spell.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Blitz: When Lightning Strikes by Sedona Venez

  
Book Details:

Title: When Lightning Strikes
Author: Sedona Venez
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Series: Credence Curse Series
Genre: Paranormal Romance - due to graphic language and sexual content this book is recommended for readers 18+.
Synopsis:
The steamy sequel to BREAKING THE STORM by Sedona Venez.

He’s flawed like a MF, but I want him.

Ryker Alfero
Wolf-Shifter. Tattooed. Dangerous. Off-limits. Everything I crave — and everything I shouldn’t want.

“I would love to see what else your dirty little mouth can do.” With those little words, my body shivered as a surge of energy zipped into my body, unlocking something I didn’t understand. My brain started functioning with a clarity I hadn’t experienced in years. No warring emotions, just calmness.

This shouldn’t be happening, especially not with him. God. This was going to be a rough damn ride.

“I’ll do my best to break you in slowly, submissive,” he hissed, his voice dripping with raw sex.

Is total submission inevitable?

“When I get you under me, it’s going to be slow, hard, and memorable.” ~ Ryker


I have other plans.

“Go find yourself a woman stupid enough to settle for less than you're willing to give. Whose heart you can break without giving a sh*t. This woman is off limits.” ~ Lightning

***WARNING: When Lightning Strikes is an Paranormal Romance intended for mature audiences. Recommended Reading Age 18+***


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18338679-when-lightning-strikes
Purchase:
Kindle / Amazon http://amzn.to/1enctYV

Barnes & Noble / NOOK http://bit.ly/1iIl9VC


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sedona Venez is the author of the New Adult Credence Curse series, and the New Adult Valkyries: Soaring Raven series. She is a NYC girl (go Brooklyn!) with a slight obsession with her iPad, Pinterest, and television shows Pawn Stars and Face Off. Her love of music, tattoos, rockers, alpha men and wolf-shifters inspires her edgy paranormal romance novels. She also writes Middle Grade/Young Adult under her real name, T.L. Clarke. You can find out more about Sedona and her novels by visiting http://www.sedonavenez.com


“Like” her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SedonaVenez
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TLClarke_TLC
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tlcauthor
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6535416.Sedona_Venez
Sedona’s website: http://www.sedonavenez.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/sedonavenezauthor

SOMETHING EXTRA:
  
WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES - PLAYLIST
I love listening to music while writing. It helps me set the mood and tone for each scene. The songs listed below are my top ten tracks that I played on a constant loop while writing When Lightning Strikes. Follow Sedona Venez on Spotify.com to find the full When Lightning Strikes playlist.

Animals – Martin Garrix
Burn – Ellie Goulding
Dark Horse – Katy Perry
Neon Lights – Demi Lovato
Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys
The Worst – Jhene Aiko
Adore You – Miley Cyrus
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Survival – Eminem
Not a Bad Thing – Justin Timberlake

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Blitz-wide giveaway
Prizes - open INTL (as long as Amazon ships there):
-Kindle Fire HD
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris

Summary:

Cat Crawford just wants to be normal—or at least as normal as a daughter of Hollywood royalty can be. And it looks like fate is granting her wish: she’s got an amazing boyfriend, Lucas; her fabulous cousin, Alessandra, living with her; and her dad planning his second marriage to a great future stepmom. That is, until her prodigal mother reveals on national television that she has something important to tell her daughter…causing a media frenzy.

Lucas Capelli knows his fate is to be with Cat, and he’s worked hard to win her over once and for all. Unfortunately, Lucas has his own issues to deal with, including a scandal that could take him away from the first place he’s truly belonged.

As secrets are revealed, rumors explode, and the world watches, Cat and Lucas discover it’s not fate they have to fight if they want to stay together…this time, it’s their own insecurities.

Well, and the stalkerazzi.



NOTE: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

When requesting this book, I had no idea that it was a part of a series. Much more a part of a series that I hadn't read before. Then I figured it out and was wary that perhaps I'd be lost and have no idea what in the world would be going on. Umm, no. Sure there were references to the past two books, but nothing I couldn't handle.

To be honest, I was expecting a WHOLE LOT MORE from this book. I was expecting some adventure... and I don't know... seeing that the first book dealt with time travel, I wanted to see at least that. But no. I was very disappointed, because NOTHING really happened.

Sure, there was some sweet romance going on, but in my book that's hardly enough to classify MNSSSL as a great book. It's hardly even mediocre, to tell you the truth. It revolves around events that are so obviously fake, I don't know how they made the story at all.

Writing style:
Unbelievable amount of 'tell', as opposed to 'show'. I literally had to make myself NOT skip over the parts where the reader is TOLD that this or that happened. Just show me! I'd be much happier.

Story line:
I'm happy to rant some more about this book, so here goes.
I'm thinking the story lacked a lot of things. Mainly, it lacked a problem for the plot to revolve around. It did have some resemblance of drama (with Cat's mom coming in the picture and pretending she cares for a relationship with her daughter), but it wasn't nearly enough to justify the absence of anything else. I've no idea what the previous two books were about, but I'm hoping they weren't centered on how to run from the paparazzi, how to not hate your mother and how to behave as a grown up.

Themes:
-searching for one's self
-standing up for oneself
-finding love and not giving up on it are two different things
-parents could make or break a person - sometimes

Characters:
Cat isn't exactly a character I can relate to. She's so insecure, she doesn't have any idea what's going on around her. Or she does, but refuses to acknowledge it. Love - no matter who it comes from - is largely ignored or just put in the back of her mind, because she just KNOWS that it can't last. That one day EVERYONE would leave her. Gosh, are you for real? Just because her mom was stupid and selfish enough to bail on her when she was five, doesn't mean that anyone else would. I mean, come on! Her dad's by her side always. Her step mom adores her. Her boyfriend looks at no one else and plans romantic dates for her.... what on earth could be better proof that she wasn't being abandoned?

Lucas is a great guy. I confess that he must be the one character in this book who was worth reading about. He stood up for himself and for Cat, even when things didn't look good for either one of them. He was an excellent boyfriend and a son to be proud of. Yet, all he got in return were insecurities and doubt. I was proud of him that he didn't give in or give up when things looked impossible.

Ransom... Cat's half brother was a nice guy. I guess I could like him, if given the chance. But I'm not sure I could endure another novel revolving around nothing.

Most other characters made short appearances and didn't seem to be of any circumstance so I will restrain from mentioning them.

In conclusion:
I think the book had potential, but it didn't turn out to be my kind of read. It was a sweet young adult romance, sure, but it didn't go anywhere above average.

My rating is 2.5, but I'll round down to:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blog Tour(excerpt): Lost in Us by Layla Hagen



Book & Author details:

Lost in Us by Layla Hagen
Publication date: February 17th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:
Serena has learned to live with her past, locking her secrets and nightmares deep inside her. But when her boyfriend of six years abruptly leaves her, she’s catapulted back into pain, nursing a broken heart. When indulging in mountains of chocolate doesn’t work, Serena decides the best way to deal with her shattered heart is to indulge in something else. A rebound . . .

The night she swaps her usual Sprite for tequila, she meets James. The encounter is breathtaking.
Electrifying.
And best not repeated.

James is a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. A man who has amassed a fortune by taking risks. A man who has shunned commitment completely, and still does. He’s the exact opposite of Serena. But sometimes opposites attract. Sometimes they give in to burning passion. Sometimes opposites are perfect for each other.

James is everything her damaged soul could want. His kisses are intoxicating, his touch out of this world. He makes her forget. He grants her peace from her pain. But as they grow closer, Serena discovers she isn’t the only one with a past. James carries the scars of a past much darker than hers. One that has left him damaged, hurt, and wary of love. A past that gives him the power to shatter her.

Now James and Serena must find a way to mend one another. Or risk losing each other forever.



Purchase: 




AUTHOR BIO:

My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author.

I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.

I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.

And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough 

Author Links:


 SPECIAL CONTENT: EXCERPT

"Red suits you," a voice calls behind me. I'm suddenly very grateful for being squeezed in, because my knees seem to have turned to rubber.  But my relief only lasts for a few seconds, because the music starts and everyone around me disperses, moving to the dance floor.
I don't fall. I can't move, either.
When he finally comes into view, my breath is cut short. There is something about seeing his beautiful blue eyes behind a mask that makes every inch of my skin burn.
So it wasn't the tequila last night.
"Dance?" He extends his hand.
"I can't dance." Out of the corner of my eye I see Sophie watching us, crestfallen.
"That makes two of us," he says, though unlike me, he doesn't sound panicked in the slightest. I really can't dance. Especially not waltz. But he doesn't lower his hand, and instead of protesting further, I raise my hand and place it in his. As if in slow motion I see him putting his other arm around my waist, and pulling me so close to him that I feel his every breath against my skin. This doesn't help the burning sensation. At all.
"You came," he says and his lips curve into last night’s same conceited smile.
"I make a habit of honoring my invitations," I say, surprised by how aggressive I sound. I bite my lip and look away, fixing my gaze on the highest point of the glass arch.
"Did you and your friend arrive home safely last night?"
Small talk. Fantastic.
"If safely includes Jess throwing up twice on the way home, then yes."
"Quite a party girl, your friend," he says appreciatively.
"What makes you think I'm not one?" I regret the question instantly. Thinking that a former math whiz kid isn't the most hardcore party girl at Stanford is not an absurd conclusion to draw. But his answer takes me by complete surprise.
"Having a steady boyfriend usually means you spend your free evenings and weekends… otherwise."
"You asked Dani to spy on me?"
"Of course not," he says with fake affronting. "I just know how to get the info I need from her."
"What happened to old-fashioned questioning?"
"It's old-fashioned," he answers with a smirk. "I like to consider myself modern."
"Make that lazy and sneaky." I finally unhitch my gaze from the ceiling and look him in the eyes again. They are so much darker than a few minutes ago. 
He tightens his grip on my waist. "Fine. Tell me three things about you."
I try to put on my most serious look. "I grew up in London and San Francisco, used to play volleyball in a minor league, and want to work in investment banking." Did he really think I'll make it easy for him?
"Let me rephrase," he smirks. "Tell me three things about you I won't find in your CV. Three dreams."
The next sentence rolls out of my mouth despite my firm resolution to torment him by not really telling him anything about me. Especially not the weird things.
"I want to taste every single recipe in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, get myself kidnapped by elves and locked up in Rivendell, and attend the midnight release of the next book about the wizarding world that I know Rowling will write. If that last thing fails, I want to learn how to fly on a broom, at the very least."
He bursts into a cascade of laughter. But it's not in the slightest mocking or mean. It's warm and heartfelt.
And loud.
"Your turn," I say, in an attempt to stop him, because we are attracting less-than-friendly stares from the couples around us. "Stop laughing like a maniac and tell me three things about yourself. Three fears."
He laughs for a few more seconds before assuming a solemn face.
"I hate snakes and always keep a light on when I sleep. And I suffer from chronic commitment phobia."
His words hit me like a whiplash. Amazing how lighthearted and playful he throws them at me.
"So I've heard," I say, trying—and failing—to keep my voice steady.
"I wanted to make sure you know it from me," he says in a soft voice. Yet for all the softness, it still feels like whiplash.
"That's very considerate of you."
Why do his words have this impact on me? Why do they have any impact at all? I guessed a while ago how things are. I wish we weren't dancing so I could run away. Put as much distance as possible between him and me. My wish is not far from being granted. Though I haven't listened to many waltzes in my life, I'm sure the orchestra is playing the ending tones right now. I try to distance myself from his intoxicating presence, but his grip on me is firmer than ever.
"I saw how you were looking at me in that bar," he whispers with urgency.
Crap, so Jess wasn't exaggerating. I do my best to put on the poker face she mimicked on our way home, then I remember I have a mask on anyway.
"Why did you invite me here?"
"Why did you come?" he asks, and there is a slight uneasiness in his voice.
"Because you invited me," I answer as sardonically as possible.
"I was curious," he says quietly.


Giveaway details: Tour wide giveaway Open INTL
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal cash (Winner's choice)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book review: Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER.

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He's trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won't get in to college. He's trying to keep his brother's business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He's trying to keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel - or he fears he'll lose his family. And he's trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his 'girlfriend's' partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR.


NOTE: I received the ARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

To be honest, I was a little weary to start reading Secret. I'm not into books where the romantic relationship is between people of the same gender. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against such books, they're just really not my thing.

Still, I love this series and Brigid is such a talented author, I was in for it from the very first book.

Writing style:
It was close to perfection. Neat, completely immersing and intoxicating.

Story line:
The story in Secret revolved completely around Nick's and Quinn's secret lives. How they clung to each other, and how they drifted apart. Their separate romances and so on.
I was a little boggled by this because the story, as relating to the entire series, didn't really move on much. There were really just a couple of scenes when the Guides made an appearance, but other than that, nothing. It was a bit disappointing to be honest. Not that I got bored by Nick and Quinn's internal turmoils, but still.

Themes:
-being different
-fulfilling everyone's expectations except your own
-fear of seeing disappointment in the eyes of your loved ones
-having no one to lean on is scary, but leaning on someone could be even scarier
-not seeing something (or someone) doesn't mean they're not there, watching your every step.

Characters:
Garth Brody is a brutal Guide. More ruthless than Silver, who we met in Spirit. I expected to see more of him than just the two-three scenes, but no such luck.

Nick, the chivalrous, gentle twin. The one who always tries to be who he's needed to be. The guy who has no idea who he really is. When he finally figured it out, he was scared witless that his family will kick him out.
To be honest, I never imagined (from the previous novels) that Nick could feel uncomfortable in his own skin, but there you go. He's a super cute, smart guy, with selfless attitude and no self-assurance.

I liked Chris for his brotherly love and support. He was among the first to figure out Nick's secret and show his acceptance. He told Nick "I'm sorry you felt that you have to keep it a secret." It totally warmed up my heart.

Now Gabriel is another story. I totally loved the dude and his macho attitude in Spark. He's by far my favorite Merrick brother, but he can be such a douche-bag sometimes. And to his twin brother too!

Michael surprised me with how understanding he was. He said he had been expecting it, which besides everything else means that he was sort of paying attention even with everything else that was going on in their house.

Quinn isn't really all that bad. I did like her character, even though at times she was just acting out. There's definitely a drama queen in there. I don't really understand why she pushes everyone who cares about her away, but draws near people who don't give 2 cents for her. It's outside of every reason, logic and understanding. And nature too.
Her family situation was horrible and she still endured it all. It was seriously messed up and I kept on trying to figure out whether she was stupid or loyal. Or afraid.

Adam... does not ring with male vibes at all. For some reason I always picture a girl whenever his name is mentioned. He's sweet and caring and has been through a lot. But underneath it, there is a tough interior.

Now it's turn for bad boy Tyler. Why's he a labeled bad boy is beyond me. Sure, he's been friends with murderous idiots, but other than that he seems cool. And of course, he's got a huge secret of his own.
To be honest, I had no idea he would be playing such a major role in this installment. Or that I'd actually end up liking and defending him. I guess just like any other person, he's complicated and multifaceted, which also makes him realistic. And that's a good thing.
What I really liked about him was that he really cared about Quinn. He called on her crap and told her off, and it was refreshing.

In conclusion:
Aside from not taking this series much further than Spirit, this installment was a page-turner. It focused on the every day life. The romance, the secrets, the internal struggle to figure out who you are really. It's a coming of age novel that I really enjoyed reading.

My rating is

The Queen of Hearts: A guest post by Colleen Oakes




10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

  • Lewis Carroll himself described the Queen as “An embodiment of blind and aimless fury.” 
  • The face of the Queen of Hearts in the original novel was based on a stainglass window portraying the Duchess of Norfolk at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, Suffolk. 
  • The Queen of Hearts is constantly mistaken for the Red Queen, when in fact the Red Queen only appears in Into the Looking Glass. Disney's Queen of Hearts seems to be a combination of the Queen from the book, the Duchess, and the Red Queen of Through The Looking-Glass.  
  • The gardeners painting the roses red is commonly believed to refer to the “War of the Roses”. The red rose was the symbol for House Lancaster, and the House of York was symbolized by a white rose.  
  • In Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat mentions that the Queen of Hearts has never really beheaded anyone: she's just being facetious. The Gryphon later informs Alice that the Queen never actually executes anyone she sentences to death, which reinforces the fact that the Queen of Hearts’ power lies in her rhetoric. 
  • Queen cards were introduced by the French in the 17th century. To this day, traditional Italian decks do not include a Queen of Hearts  
  • The Queen has a warped idea of justice: in the final chapters and the trial of the Knave of Hearts, we see her issue sentence before verdict.  
  • The Queen is sometimes believed to be a caricature of Queen Victoria. Carroll wrote in such a way to make her at once instantly recognizable to parents reading the story to children, and also fantastical enough to make her unrecognizable to children.  
  • In the video game American McGee's Alice, the Queen of Hearts is the final boss and the reason for Wonderland's decay. When Alice fights her, she discovers that the Queen is her dark side – an embodiment of her insanity; the Queen must be destroyed for Alice to become sane once more. 
  • In the Queen’s presence, Alice finally gets a taste of true fear, even though she understands that the Queen of Hearts is merely a playing card. A greater analysis of The Queen of Hearts indicates that she represents the idea that Wonderland is devoid of substance, which is actually the idea that Alice fears.



BOOK DETAILS:

Title: The Queen of Hearts
Author: Colleen Oakes
Published on: February 14th, 2012
Publisher: SparkPress
Genres: Young Adult Fantasy

Blossoming Love. A Father's Betrayal. A Kingdom with a Black Secret.

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah's days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts - and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she's ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It's up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinah's furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with
this new, dark take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

But be warned. Not every fairytale has a happy ending.

This is the story of a princess who became a villain.

Book Links:



Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20410977-queen-of-hearts?from_search=true


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Colleen Oakes is the author of the Elly in Bloom series and the upcoming YA fantasy Queen of Hearts Saga, both published via SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son. When not writing, Colleen enjoys swimming, traveling, and immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. She is currently at work on the last Elly novel and her second YA fantasy series, Wendy Darling.


Author Links:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

Summary:
Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo...

But true love never dies. Though they're parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he'll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father's crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility---a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure and the chance to avenge his father's death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants, and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn't surrender souls without a price...

MY REVIEW:

NOTE: I received the digital ARC from Entangled Teen in exchange for my honest review.

Honestly, I should've been done with this review ages ago. Two months since I read the book so yeah.

I thought this was a new author, but it turned out to be Jennifer Armintrout :) Not that I've read anything by her, so I don't have a previous opinion. SSS was good. Not super awesome, but still quite entertaining in a weird Shakespeare-come-to-life way.

Writing style:
I haven't written this in my notes so I'll go by memory here. I remember that the writing sounded like it belonged to the Shakespearean era. Not too close to make it a look-alike, but close enough to not sound out of place/date/time. There were changes in the storytelling depending on the characters who did the narrating and I liked that.

Story line:
The summary did a great job in describing what this novel is about. The unlikely friendship that develops between Hamlet and Romeo in their search of Juliet in the underworld, where they meet a gazillion mythological creatures. It was funny at times, tragic also. It lacked the romance that I thought it would have, but I didn't really mind. I liked the adventure more than the Romeo/Juliet developments.

The beginning had me quite amused, with Romeo and Hamlet going at it, arguing and all that, so yes, I can say that the story was entertaining.

Themes:
-mortality and how to deal with it
-eternity of love
-friendship isn't something you give, it's meant to be earned
-Norse mythology (and not only)
-growing up and out of childhood
-death and how it's perceived by different people/cultures

Characters:
Romeo was that guy that you perceive as more of a brute than a sophisticated individual. He certainly doesn't show much cleverness. But there are moments when he has brilliant ideas, moments when he sees through the illusions of the underworld. While Hamlet is quite afraid of Romeo in the beginning (thinking that he could be an assassin sent from his murderous uncle), there isn't much reason for him to be. Romeo is only interested in one thing - saving his beloved Juliet from the realm of the dead and he is brave and scary for her sake only. Okay, well, scary isn't exactly right. More like passionate and hot blooded - as any true Italian should be. What got on my nerves was his volatile anger issue, but again - Italian blood.

Hamlet tried to appear nonchalant most of the time. He faked indifference pretty well, until Juliet came in the picture. She seemed quite able to read the Dutch Prince even though she'd only just met him. Hamlet fears two things in his life: 1) being assassinated and 2)becoming king, but I'm not sure which one prevails. He really isn't the mad boy everyone thinks he is. He just pretends to be it. He's always calm and logical even in the face of danger. Oh, and poetic. He is Hamlet after all.

Juliet was being passed as the bravest of this trio. I'm not sure why she was supposed to be the one to save them all... for the sake of feminine power perhaps? I don't think it worked all that well. It felt rather forced at times. Still, she did have wits and courage and a kind heart.

Horatio also deserves a mention, I think. He was ever the smart, observant friend. Careful, he premeditated every choice, every decision that his young charge/friend Hamlet made. He didn't give his trust easily, but he also didn't doubt everyone's motives all the time.

In conclusion:
Such Sweet Sorrow is a novel of many mysteries, questionable choices and treachery, presented in a very poetic kind of way.

My rating is:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #14: My Not So Sweet Life by Rachel Harris


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog post by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights releases we're eagerly awaiting.

My pick this week is:





Title: My Not So Sweet Life
Series:My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, Book 3
Genre: Time Travel
Audience: YA
Author: Rachel Harris
Release date: April 21st, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Summary:

Cat Crawford just wants to be normal—or at least as normal as a daughter of Hollywood royalty can be. And it looks like fate is granting her wish: she’s got an amazing boyfriend, Lucas; her fabulous cousin, Alessandra, living with her; and her dad planning his second marriage to a great future stepmom. That is, until her prodigal mother reveals on national television that she has something important to tell her daughter…causing a media frenzy.

Lucas Capelli knows his fate is to be with Cat, and he’s worked hard to win her over once and for all. Unfortunately, Lucas has his own issues to deal with, including a scandal that could take him away from the first place he’s truly belonged.

As secrets are revealed, rumors explode, and the world watches, Cat and Lucas discover it’s not fate they have to fight if they want to stay together…this time, it’s their own insecurities.

Well, and the stalkerazzi.

 Why I want to read it:
I am reading this right now. It is super sweet. But, there's just one small problem - I haven't read the previous 2 books in this series!!! It sort of confuses me at times and raises questions that I should know the answers to had I read the series from the beginning. It's truly a bummer. Sigh.


So how about you? What amazing book are you waiting on this week?  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cover reveal: Next To You by Claudia Y. Burgoa

MY COMMENTS:

This cover has a quality of contentment and I like that.

BOOK DETAILS:

Next To You by Claudia Y. Burgoa
(Life #2)
Publication date: June 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Synopsis:
 


Him
…I need time. Time to heal those wings and learn to use them…
Was part of the letter Rebecca Trent, Daniel Brightmore’s fiancĂ©e and best friend left when she ran away. The person he trusted the most for the past decade disappeared without giving him a second glance. She taught him how to love, believe in family and that everyone deserves a happily ever after. Now he’s struggling between wiping any traces of her from his life and drowning his sorrows away with the help of his new best friends—Don Julio and Jack Daniels.

Her
Rebecca’s past suffocated her to the point of not wanting to continue, her lifeline and the only reason to live began to withdraw from her. She wished it had been her imagination, but heard it loud and clear: “If not, there’s always a divorce, nothing is forever.” This time it became a leave or die situation. Something has got to change—she had to change. Packing light and leaving a letter behind, she takes a journey that can help her find herself through the shards of her painful childhood.
As letters, memories and stories are exchanged, two once inseparable people reconcile what’s left of their relationship. Beyond the confines of everything they built together, they’re left with two lonely people searching for what it means to be whole. Will they find meaning under their bruised psyches or will their pasts get the better of them?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Claudia lives in Colorado with her family and three dogs. Two beagles who believe they are human, and a bichon who thinks she’s a beagle. While managing life, she works as a CFO at a small IT Company. She’s a dreamer who enjoys music, laughter and a good story.

Author Links: