Sunday, April 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Sparrows for Free by Lila Felix


There are skeletons in every closet. Some stay quiet—and some rule your soul with an iron fist.

Ezra is ruled by the ghosts of his past—and needled by the guilt they create. Not only does he have to manage his own guilt—his friends are forced to bear the weight as well. He lives in limbo, never dreaming of anything that lies beyond the grave.
In his mind, he’s a murderer, pure and simple.

Hide and seek is Aysa’s game. She begs for small spaces and empty places. But, she secretly desires so much more.
When they find each other, a hope for something new is sprung.
But Ezra’s skeletons are out for blood.

“I hide shock well. I’m a pro at hiding. I have no idea that whatever he had to tell me would be so personal—so heartbreaking. But, I quickly remembered that heartbreak was all around him every time he turned around. He needs no more empathy or sympathy in his life. He craves someone to give him a different take on a tired situation.
And different is practically my middle name.”


I haven't reviewed any book lately because I have had health issues. The fact is I've depressed a lot lately, to the point that I don't want to get out of bed. 

But today was different for me. My Kindle had been yelling my name for the past couple days, and today I picked it up. My 'to-read' has been out of control, so I decided just to read the first book that was on my shelf and this was it.

I have a cardinal rule when I read and review books: NEVER EVER compare authors. EVER!

I'm breaking that rule today. 

I've always loved book that suck me in, and don't let me go. I love books, that make me laugh, cry, yell, and scream.  I love that they send me  away from the reality that slapping me in my face. 

Jane Austen is my go to author when I need this. I need that 'old world' behavior, and forget about everything that is here. 

Rachel Higginson is the next author. I pick her because she is such an amazing author that she actually made me break my Kindle in her Star Crossed Series (that is a true series).

So, when I started Sparrows for Free I was thinking: Okay, a love story, blah blah, past tribulations, blah blah, happy ever after.

But I needed that...I needed something to take away the pain I've felt lately.

Well, I'm nothing but a big, dumb idiot! Because I have spent the last three hours, bawling my eyes out at this amazing story written by the fabulous mind of Lila Felix!!

How could I have thought this was just going to be 'just another story'? Especially when it comes from Lila. 

See, I have loved Lila since her very first book! But, I get a little worried when 'another' book comes out, because some authors become 'cookie-cutter'. I mean it's just the same story over and over. And I knew this wasn't her "Love and Skate Series", so YES, I was worried.

Again, I'm nothing but a big, dumb idiot! 

The first scene held me and didn't let me go. Ezra and Aysa are two people that have secrets from their past that are controlling their present lives. 

I wanted to slap Ezra through most of the book. Not because he was a jerk (well, not the whole time), but he was a whiny girl at times. NOW, don't start yelling at me. He DID go through something traumatic and he should work through it. But,  I still wanted to slap him.

Then Aysa. Oh that poor girl! Her past reminded me a lot of my own, and I could truly relate to her pain.

NOW, I loved how they found each other, and began to 'connect' and work through stuff! 

BUT .............. I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT THE ENDING ........ NOPE .............. NO WAY!!! 

Now, Lila usually ends with a ending that I can handle, but this cliffhanger just .... gggrrrr ... I just wanted to Facebook her and just say:


YEP.... I wanted to say that !!!

However, I want to thank her! Thank you Lila, because through Aysa and Ezra words I found hope in my own personal situation. I need to remember there is hope in every situation, whether it's fictional or real.

Thank you Lila! Thank you for helping me, even if you didn't know. 

This book (and the next one) has earned a place on my 'go-to' shelf. 

For that, I love you!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Jacque's Review:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is an interesting take on the whole vampire phenomenon.  There are walled off communities where vampires and those who are "infected" are supposed to live.  People who are infected are not vampires, but they have been bitten by a vampire and could turn into one if they succumb to the urge to drink human blood.  The urge is relentless, so most infected individuals eventually turn.  If they are able to resist the urge for 88 days, the infection wears off and the individual remains human.  There are some humans who were trapped when the walls went up as well as humans who volunteer to go into the Coldtowns for the vampires to feed on.  Most of the volunteers are hoping they will eventually be turned into vampires, but that is rarely the case since the vampires need to protect their food supply.

Tana is a 17 year old girl who was at a party with a bunch of her friends when there was a vampire attack.  Tana and her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, are the only survivors.  They help a vampire named Gavriel, who was being held captive by the attackers, to escape as well.  The three of them travel together and check themselves into the local Coldtown, which is where the majority of the story takes place.

Flo and I decided to select The Coldest Girl in Coldtown for our April read along after reading all of the amazing reviews when this book was first released.  I was expecting it to be the next Twilight, Vampire Academy, or WVMP Radio series, but it fell short.  While I liked the story, there was definitely something missing.  It never really grabbed and held my attention until the last 100 pages.  It is my understanding that this is supposed to be a stand alone novel, but I honestly believe a sequel containing A LOT more of Gavriel would be a far superior book.  I loved all of the scenes when he was present, but they were far and few between until the very end.  The ending was also left open, so Holly could easily resume the story at some point in the future.  While I am not counting on there being a sequel, I would DEFINITELY read it if there is. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Jacque's Review: 

Lynn Cullen is coming to Ohio State to speak this May, so a co-worker suggested that I read Mrs. Poe.  It is well outside my normal comfort zone, but I decided to tackle this piece of historical fiction. 

I really didn't know much about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, besides The Raven and a few of his other works I may have read in high school, prior to reading Mrs. Poe.  His father left when he was around two and his mother died about a year later.  He went to live with a wealthy family, who sent him to various boarding schools and provided little to no financial or emotional support as he was growing up.  As a result, he was poor and lacked confidence.  He ended up marrying his 13 year old first cousin when he was 23 years old.  The book implied that she was actually the more mature of the two at the time. 

As his popularity and success increased, his finances didn't appear to improve substantially.  He did, however, connect with another poet much closer to his age.  It is believed that a relationship between the two developed. 

This story is told from the perspective of Mrs. Osgood, the "other woman" in Mr. Poe's life.  They had many of the same friends and attended the same literary functions, which brought them into contact with one another rather frequently.  Mrs. Poe even took an interest in Mrs. Osgood's writing and they developed a very awkward relationship. 

Lynn does a remarkable job of incorporating 1800's terminology and culture into this page turning romance.  After only a few chapters, I couldn't put this book down.  I would let myself read 1 more chapter...then another...until it was well past my bed time a few consecutive nights in a row.  The story paints a brighter picture of Poe's life than I believe was actually the case, but that is the benefit of fiction.  Overall, it was a very entertaining story that I would recommend to any fan of historical fiction.

After reading Mrs. Poe, I am eager to hear Lynn Cullen speak.  I will be sure to post an update with any comments she has on the book, her inspiration, etc.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture. Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

Flo's Review
What a page turner! I will admit, this one started off slow for me. My only Goodreads status update comes from page 57 where I wrote, "A stable "Ehh..." so far. Will keep reading." I guess it just took me awhile to connect with Aria and the story. I started to get more intrigued when two of the characters blamed Jade's disappearance on the other. Then it turned into a case of me wondering which one actually did it -- and that held my interest. I also enjoyed learning more about the history behind Aria's gift, and I wish that this had been discussed more. Aria had one particular ancestor that she was interested in; I would have loved to read more of her story. More about the original Sybil for sure, and more about the other Sybil's. 

But this book definitely took off running in the second half, so much so that I abandoned my plans of watching TV this afternoon to staying in this book. I figured out who was behind Jade's disappearance before Aria did, and then it became me wanting to see how she might catch him. The end of the story was kind of abrupt, in my opinion. I would have liked to see more about how Aria navigates her new relationships and (without being spoilery in this review) what becomes of her and her gift.

A huge thanks to Soho Teen for providing me with this Advanced Readers Copy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Forsaken & Awaken (Daughter of the Sea #1 & #2) by Kristen Day

This is going to be a sad post!

I have had a rough month and I have been behind in everything! I feel extremely sad about this! No joke ... I really do!

Here is why I'm sad ...

My dear, sweet, extremely talented friend (at least I call her a friend, because I stalk her so much) Kristen Day has re released her first two book of the Daughter of the Sea Series.

OMG! I love these books, and the new covers just make me burst with even more love!!!!


So, because I missed the 'actually' release days ... I am going to giveaway 3.... YES I SAID 3 sets of these!! (Amazon ONLY!)

It's simple ... just comment on the blog post with your name and email!! That's it!!!

I will pick a winner on Friday, March 28, 2014!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl. (from Goodreads)

Flo's Review
I finished this book about an hour ago, and I've been trying to think about how to describe my feelings towards it since then. I'm kind of like Astrid herself really -- in one scene she is trying to explain to her parents that it's not just "Yes I'm gay" or "No I'm not gay." It's not so clear, simple, black and white as that. I am not doing it justice in my description, but it was a really good scene. Anyway, that's how I feel about this book. I liked it...I guess. I didn't not like it. But I also can't say 100% truthfully that I enjoyed reading it. I got to .... oh, about 40% in and started to skim. I am still trying to figure this out, so listen to my jumbled thoughts are I try to get a handle on my thoughts here.

The style of this story was very quirky. I like quirky. It's cute. In doses. (In my opinion.) I think my problem here was that this story was SO quirky all the time that it didn't feel like a story. Each chapter felt separate from the others, like it was 20 something little featurettes about Astrid. I guess they didn't flow? It didn't read as a story to me, but as a series of scenes. Because I didn't feel the continuity of a story, I began to get bored. I guess I didn't feel like we were really getting to know the characters -- we were just seeing them being quirky in different situations. So, as I mentioned earlier, about 40% in I started skimming. I "read" the rest of the book that way, and I still feel like I read it, like I can say I've read this book. 

See? It's not that I didn't like the book. I liked it...I liked Astrid. The other characters? Meh. 

Perhaps because of it didn't feel like a story to me, I didn't really appreciate what I'm sure are some of the deeper meanings and commentary behind things like the passengers and Astrid's obsession with Socrates. I read this book because it is the FYA Book Club selection for March, so I am looking forward to the meeting -- maybe there I will gain some new insight and appreciation.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? Or anything else by A.S. King? Is it her writing style in general?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Twilight Saga: The Complete Film Archive by Robert Abele

Immerse yourself in the world of the spectacular The Twilight Saga film series. Written and designed in collaboration with the entire cast and crew who brought all four of Stephenie Meyer's celebrated novels to the silver screen, this official treasure trove delivers an enchanting experience, transporting readers to the vampire world by sharing filmmaking secrets, never-before-seen candid set photography and artwork, and exclusive stories from the stars.

Flo's Review
This book is AMAZEBALLS. Seriously. It's really cool! I was lucky enough to find it on clearance and was so happy that I did! It has tons of pictures. There are comments from cast members, directors, production. Best if all, it has very authentic looking replicas of set call lists (I think that's what they're called), premiere tickets, and signed posters! These items are placed in little envelopes throughout the book and I was always super excited to find a page with one so I could see what was inside. Very very cool! I hope they do this for all my movie series that I've come to love recently.

First Love by James Patterson

An extraordinary portrait of true love that will move anyone who has a first love story of their own. Axi Moore is a "good girl": She studies hard, stays out of the spotlight, and doesn't tell anyone how all she really wants is to run away from it all. The only person she can tell is her best friend, Robinson--who she also happens to be madly in love with. When Axi spontaneously invites Robinson to come with her on an impulsive cross-country road trip, she breaks the rules for the first time in her life. But the adventure quickly turns from carefree to out of control after the teens find themselves on the run from the police. And when Robinson suddenly collapses, Axi has to face the truth that this trip might be his last. A remarkably moving tale very personal to James Patterson's own past, FIRST LOVE is testament to the power of first love--and how it can change the rest of your life.

Flo's Review
James Patterson is one of my favorite authors because of the range and diversity of his books. As soon as I read the description for this one, I put it on hold at the library. I was looking forward to a sweet, quick, easy romance that I could read in a day or two. In that, it succeeded. I read this one in two settings. 

However, I didn't love it. It felt like the surface of a story the whole time -- we were skimming the top layer of the story but never delving deeply into the settings, the scenarios, or the characters. I kind of felt like it was trying to be a sweet, simple fun romance story, but then it dealt with a very heavy issue that can't be described as sweet, simple, or fun. I don't want to give anything away, but I feel like it may garner some comparisons to another recent YA novel that, that has become massively popular.

Part of my problem was the time line. Those who have read my reviews in the past know that I don't tend to enjoy stories that jump around in the timeline. This one did that -- letting the reader in on a major piece (if not, THE major piece) of the story only at the beginning of Part 2. The problem with the jumping around here was that the story was trying to show the growing romance between the two main characters. In order to do that, I feel that the reader needs to see them fall in love linearly. Does that make sense? You need to build on something, and these two did, but the reader didn't get to experience the building in any way that made sense because the timeline was not linear. It detracted from the point of the story -- the falling in love.

I also felt like things came together too easily for Axi and Robinson. I feel like sometimes writers start with the idea that they need their characters to be in a certain place at a certain time for particular story development. This is all fine, but they just need to remember that how the characters GET to that point needs to make sense, be logical, and be realistic. One happenstance event? Okay. Several? Ehhh...

Because I am a travel nerd as well as a book nerd, I really enjoyed following along with Axi and Robinson as they experienced new things in each city. I also, of course, really liked Robinson. What a beautiful boy.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

COVER AND TITLE REVEAL: Luna of Mine (Book 8 of Grey Wolves Series) by Quinn Loftis

You know I'm the biggest fan of the Grey Wolves Series and Quinn Loftis. 

When she announced this book...yep...I screamed and jumped up and down.

So, here is the Title and the Cover .... 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Jacque's Review: 

Panic is a contemporary stand-alone novel.  The main characters are all recent high school graduates preparing to compete in a series of dangerous challenges.  It is a tradition in their small town for the students to contribute to a pot throughout the school year.  The day after their graduation, they have the opportunity to enter a competition referred to as Panic for the chance to win over $60,000.  While each participant has their own reason for competing, they all consider it their one shot at a better life.  Participants are eliminated throughout the competition and the winner takes all.  There have been serious injuries and even deaths in the past, so joining Panic is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

I have read a number of comments made by readers who assumed Panic was going to be another Hunger Games based upon the synopsis.  Panic is NOTHING like the Hunger Games.  This is not about a futuristic society subjecting unwilling participants to a death match.  This is something that I could honestly see happening.  Eighteen-year-old kids smoking, drinking, partying, and participating in ridiculous challenges for a chance at winning a large sum of money.  With Panic, nobody has to get hurt.  Participants can drop out if they decide the stakes are getting too high. 

The story is told from both Heather and Dodge's POV.  They are both participants in Panic, but they were not friends prior to graduation.  They start working together during one of the challenges after Heather's friend, Nat, injures her ankle and needs assistance.  We learn a great deal about all three characters and why they decided to enter the challenge.  There is a lot of danger and even some developing romance.  Each character has a secret, but by working together they all hope to come out on top.

This was an exceptional story that grabbed and held my attention from the very beginning.  I gave it 5 stars  and would definitely recommend it to any YA fan. 

Flo's Review: 
I woke up this morning to a text from my friend who wanted to discuss this book. I laid in bed texting back and forth with her for about 30 minutes about it. I just love when a book gets me talking like that!

Anyway, I have always loved Lauren Oliver's standalones. I love the Delirium trilogy, of course, but my favorite book of hers is actually Before I Fall. There is just something refreshing about reading a story that starts and ends with one book. And this one was so unique! What an interesting concept. The things that these contestants had to do were CRAZY! And there was a twist in the story that I never saw coming! I saw a review where someone mentioned that she loved how Heather started playing Panic for the wrong reason, but then ended up staying in for a right one. I agree 100%. Also, Bishop? I love you! What an amazing friend and then some.

Like Jacque, I would also recommend this book to any YA fan because the challenges kept me at the edge of my seat, and wanting to see how the characters were doing both in the game and in their lives kept me turning the pages.

Friday, February 21, 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons


What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong?

Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age.

But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.

About Heather Lyons:

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.


My Review:

O....M.....G!!! Yep, I said it, and I'll say it again: O...M...G!!!!

If you have read ANY of my reviews you know how much I love my Greek Mythology. I LOVE IT!!!!

So, when this tour came up I jumped at the chance to get in. Of course it helps that it's the amazing Heather Lyons.

What I liked: When I was in school, learning about mythology, I never thought past the story. I never fathom their lives 'before' their incidents.  

I saw a whole different side of Medusa, and thanks to Heather Lyons, I have a new respect for her. The story is told so well, that you can truly feel Dusa's issues/feelings/love/hate. 

Along with Dusa, comes Hermes. In my crazy mind I never saw him the way Heather Lyons describes him, but then again her way was much better. 

Their relationship builds and he is Dusa's only friend. I love how Lyons pulls it all together

What I didn't like: Some parts are 'fast pace'. I wish Heather Lyons would have 'added' some more time for certain parts. 

I know that thus review seems vague but I don't want to spoil anyone, because it's hard to list details of the story. 

So, how about this: If you love a good re-telling of Mythology, or if you want to see Medua (and Hermes) in a different light, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!! 

Blog Tour Schedule:
February 12
Lovin Los Libros-Character Interview (Medusa)
Vilma’s Book Blog-Excerpt and Review
Bookaholics Anonymous-Review Only
Books She Reads-Review Only

February 13
A Bookish Escape-Review Only
The Book Beacon-Review Only
The Road is You-Review Only

February 14
TSK TSK What to Read-Playlist and Review
Romance Addict-Review Only
Imagine A World-Review Only
Movies Shows & Books-Guest Post
A Nook for Books-Review Only

February 15
Book Briefs-Character Interview (Hermes) & Review
Seeing Night Reviews-Review Only
Part of that World-Review Only

February 16

February 17
Cocktails and Books-Excerpt and Review
Reading the Alphabet-Review Only
Pandora’s Books-Review Only
The Book Trollop-Review Only

February 18
Starbucks N Books-Guest Post and Review
Riverina Romantics-Review Only
Sofia Loves Books-Review Only
Nomi’s Paranormal Palace-Review Only

February 19
The Book Hookup-Review Only
Total Book Geek-Review Only
Kat’s Book Buzz-Review Only

February 20
Library of a Bookwitch-Guest Post and Review
Kate’s Tales of Books & Bands-Review Only
Gabic Reads-Review Only
Dowie’s Place-Review Only

February 21
Book Nerds Across America-Review Only
Poisoned Rationality-Author Interview and Review
Bound by Books-Review Only
Alii’s book Jungle-Review Only

February 22
The Book Whisperer-Review Only
Behind Closed Covers-Guest Post and Review
The Bo0ki3-Review Only
Confessions from Romaholics-Review Only

February 23
Not Everyone’s Mama-Review Only
WTF Are You Reading?-Guest Post and Review
NWA Gossip Girl-Review Only
No BS Book Reviews-Review Only

February 24
What’s Beyond Forks-Dream Cast and Review
My Favorite Things-Review Only
The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club-Review Only
Imaginary Reads-Author Interview

February 25
Pink Fluffy Hearts-Excerpt
Book Angel Booktopia-Fun & Different Idea and Review

Thursday, February 20, 2014

ALWAYS (Open Hearts Chronicles) Novella by Amity Hope

Amity Hope ALWAYS
~Always is a companion novella to Ditched.
Now that Holly and Max are finally together, life in Harmony Bay should be nearly perfect. Their first Valentine’s Day together is quickly approaching. Between school, interfering family, and long lost friends that have reappeared it has the potential to turn into a complete disaster.
Or it could turn into the kind of night that neither of them will ever forget.  
Character Interview with Max and Holly:

*What was your first impression of one another?
Max: The first time I saw Holly I was a sophomore in high school. I’d just moved to Chamberlain. She was in my Phys Ed class. We were doing physical fitness testing. She absolutely refused to climb the rope. She told the teacher it was too dangerous to be that far off the ground. I laughed about it all day. I didn’t realize until later that she was serious. She has a few phobias.
Holly: Thanks for sharing that. But wow, okay. That seems like such a long time ago. I guess what I remember noticing is his size. He’s a big guy. And he’s always smiling. He’s got a great smile.
*Most romantic gesture you've done for each other?
Holly: There’s no way I can narrow it down to just one. But this bracelet I always wear, the one with all the charms? Each one represents a gesture. This bracelet is getting pretty full.
Max: Easy question. She moved halfway across the country so we could be together.
*Favorite qualities about one another?
Holly: I love that Max is always willing to help other people out. Friends, family, strangers, it doesn’t matter. He’s just the kind of person that’s always looking out for everyone else. That’s kind of rare.
Max: We were friends for years before we started dating. I can honestly say she’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.
*Let's be honest now...most annoying trait about each other?
Holly: It’s not exactly bad but he does have a hard time telling people no. So sometimes he takes on too much.
Max: Then I guess we’re kind of alike that way. She worries too much about what other people think. Especially her parents. She’s getting better about that. I think she’s finally realized you can’t live your life trying to please everyone around you.
*Do you have pet names? If so what are they?
Holly: Nope.
Max: I’ve tried out a few. Snookums, honey bunny, sugar pie, baby cakes—
Holly: That’s precisely why we avoid pet names. Although I suppose if I’m going to be honest I should admit that sometimes I do call him my snuggle bear.
Max: It’s true. She does. I didn’t think she was going to admit it.
*Ideal Valentine's Day date and/or gift?
Max: I’d prefer somewhere quiet, for sure. As for a gift, I know neither of us cares about the cost. It’s more about finding something that shows just how well you know the other person.

Holly: It’s a cliché, I know, but as long as I’m with Max…I’m happy.