Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holy Black

Book Summary
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

Flo's Review
I devoured this book in 2 sittings. I've always loved Cassie's writing and Holly's writing, and this book did not disappoint. It has a very Harry Potter-ish type feel, as the first year students are separated into groups with different masters, and especially with the setting and the food. The underground Magisterium just sounds like Hogwarts to me. And I do love the concept that they get lichen to eat every day, but every day it tastes like something different. Call, Tamara and Aaron remind me so much of Harry, Hermoine and Ron, and I love it so much.

The fact that The Iron Trial reminded me of Harry Potter warmed me up to the story immediately, and almost feels like it was done on purpose. I could see that being the case so that the reader will come to expect certain things to happen and then be completely wrong and surprised with what actually happens. This definitely happened to me several times in the story! The letter on the cover of the ARC actually says, "We wanted to tell a story about a protagonist who had all the markers of a hero: tragedy and secrets in his past, magical power. We wanted people to believe they knew what kind of story they were in for. And then we wanted them to be surprised..." Well they definitely did just that! There are so many characters who you think you know, but as you find out more about them, you realize that their stories run deep and there's more in their past than they are making apparent. And the self discovery for some of these kids is on a whole different level!

The groundwork for a fantastic series has been laid. I can't say too much more without giving away any spoilers, but I've already promised a friend who's read the book that we will talking to soon to discuss our possible theories. It is that kind of book.

Jacque's Review

Flo and I were really excited to receive signed copies of The Iron Trial at BEA last year.  I knew nothing about this new series except that it was classified as middle grade and it was written by HOLLY BLACK and CASSANDRA CLARE!!  I was sold simply by the names of the two authors.  I've loved all of their books that I've read, so a collaboration between the two had to be good!
The book is about a group of twelve year old children who compete for admission into the Magisterium.  The Magisterium is a school for magic, but most of the parents think their children will be going to a dance school, acting school, etc.  Anything except magic.  The child must have a known aptitude for magic to even receive an invitation to the trials and only the best are granted admission into this prestigious school.  
The majority of the story is about their arrival to the school and their first year of training.  Callum Hunt, Aaron Stewart, and Tamara Rajavi all live in the same pod and are being trained by Master Rufus.  They are the focus of the story, but we do get to meet several of the other students in their Iron Year...AKA first year.
I agree with Flo that the story definitely has a Harry Potter feel to it with the magic, a special school, and the focus on two male and one female characters.  The characters must use the elements of nature as their source of magic.  They are taught early on that..."Fire wants to burn.  Water wants to flow.  Air wants to rise.  Earth wants to bind.  Chaos wants to devour."  They must learn to master and control these elements as part of their training.  
There were several surprise revelations the last third of the book that I never would have anticipated.  We discover that a few of the characters are more than they appear.  Holly and Cassandra didn't leave the readers balancing on the edge of their seats at the end of this book.  There was a sense of closure, but I am still anxious to see what they have in store for Call, Aaron, and Tamara in their second year at the Magisterium.

Mary's Review:

For once, I think I'm the odd man out on this book. Although, I didn't hate the book, I'm not in love with it either. 

I love the concept of the story and yes there is a 'Harry Potter' feel. I did enjoy the character, but I found part were 'dragging' and a bit boring in the beginning. I didn't like that the parents didn't know where they were going. That seemed weird to me, but I understand the purpose of it. It helps maintain the secret. 

I do like the friendships/relationships of the characters. I needed to remember that they were young-kids too (haha!) Now, it DOES pick up towards the end and I now know that there will be several more books. 

I've already planned to read the second book, because I know that sometimes the first book is mainly the 'foundation' of the book and it picks up more. I would recommend this book to others who love that Harry Potter type of books.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cover Reveal: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Note from Flo:
What a neat concept. It's so easy to look back on certain parts of your life and wonder what would happen if you'd decided to make one different decision...what if I'd gone to College B instead of College A, for example? My life would likely be COMPLETELY different. So I think this will be a really neat book and am happy to be a part of the cover reveal. So without further adieu...

We’re dreaming of summer—feet in the sand, soaking up the sun, taking a dip in the pool—but what we’re mostexcited about this summer is the release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s third novel, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE (on sale July 7, 2015). While we (impatiently!) wait for the book, today we’re giving you a first look at the gorgeous cover! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Love, Rosie Movie Review

Flo's Review
I recently read Cecelia Ahern's book Rosie Dunne, which I found out after I started reading it was going to be a movie starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin. I love both these actors so I was absolutely excited to see this movie.

It was a cute movie, but I think that I would have enjoyed it more had a not read the book, or had I not read the book so recently. The book spams almost the entire lives of Rosie and Alex, so I understand that we could not have a movie that long. So the movie ends up cutting and condensing in interesting ways. For example, one semi-big character was cut and his role in the story was transferred to another character. I remember being concerned when this same thing happened to Madge in The Hunger Games. The explanation I heard was that having multiple minor characters is okay in a book but does not work well for a movie. I can understand that. Also, events in both Rosie's and Alex's stories were cut and/or altered. This did not break the movie for me, but enough changes were made for me to think, "Wait, where's this character?" or "Wait, what happened to the part where?"

What I liked best about this movie: Sam Claflin. I love this man. See?
Me with Sam Claflin at the Mockingjay Part 1 U.S. premiere.
Because I came to know Sam as being Finnick in The Hunger Games, and I love Finnick so much, I thought that I would be watching this movie and think "Finnick!" every time Sam was on screen. But that did not happen at all. Sam did amazing job portraying Alex. His facial expressions captured a lot of the thoughts that we know Alex is having because he writes about them in the book, but that he cannot really just come out and say in the movie because it wouldn't make sense. 

So, my final synopsis? The movie is cute. The book is cute(r)! I suggest renting the movie first and then if you like it, reading the book. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Book Summary
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

Flo's Review
I wasn't going to review this one, but how could I not?! I read The Ruby Circle basically in a day, only getting up for essential comforts like moving from the bed to the dining table to the couch and then back to the bed and then back to the couch. What I loved most about this book is that the ending was happy and satisfying. I truly can walk away from this series happy about where we've left everyone. The growth of these characters, especially Sydney and Adrian, is absolutely fantastic and knowing where they were in the first book, Bloodlines, makes me wipe away happy tears for them as I close The Ruby Circle.

"The center will hold...because we are the center." <3

If you haven't yet read Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, I encourage you to go forth and do so! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Not A Match: My True Tales of Online Dating Disasters by Brian Donovan

Book Summary
40 million people in the US have tried Internet dating, which means 40 million people have probably gone on some pretty crappy dates. Not a Match: My True Tales of Online Dating Disasters is about one guy who experienced more than his fair share. Brian Donovan, a writer and comedian whose work has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, NPR, and Chapelle's Show, has been on over 100 Internet dates in a genuine search for love and happiness.

Flo's Review
This was cute. Brian has a fun sense of humor and I often found myself laughing out loud as I listened to his Internet dating tales. He had some crazy things happen to him, but I think that the real appeal of this book is that most of us have been there -- amirite?! Even if their crazy dating stories haven't been from the online world, I think a lot of people will relate. The audiobook is about 2 hours, which according to Goodreads breaks down to 68 Kindle pages. That is a good length. Any longer and it might have started to get stale listening to tale after tale after tale. But I really enjoyed this audiobook: it provided a good break from listening to music on the radio every so often. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things


Jacque's Review:

This book was selected by my book club, so I decided to give it a try.  I haven't read any of Elizabeth's other books, but I have read several glowing reviews of Eat, Pray, Love.  The Signature of All Things is set in the late 1700's to the late 1800's and tells the story of Henry Whittaker's rise to fortune.  He eventually settles down in Philadelphia with his wife where they are blessed with a daughter named Alma.  The majority of the book is told from Alma's point of view.

Alma had a rather lonely childhood growing up at White Acre, which reminds me of the Vanderbilt family's Biltmore Estate.  White Acre is a large mansion set on hundreds of acres of land.  Alma received an extensive education from her mother as well as a tutor and began to study mosses, which becomes her primary form of entertainment as well as her occupation.  The Whitaker family eventually adopts a young girl Alma's age named Prudence, who's mother worked for the family and died unexpectedly.  The two girls are never close, but they carry on as any other siblings would. They befriend a neighbor girl named Retta, who actually helps to bring the sisters closer together.

As a whole, I'm not quite sure what the point of this book really was.  Alma spends much of her time researching and writing books about mosses.  I thought there would be some interesting developments as Prudence and Retta eventually marry and start families, but it simply increased Alma's isolation, which led to more research and little plot development.  When a visitor named Ambrose Pike arrived at White Acre, I thought we might FINALLY be getting to the heart of the story.  While he does become a large focus of the last half of the book, his arrival really didn't hold my attention any further than reading about mosses for page after page.

While the book is very eloquent and well written with dialogue that depicts the time period, I can't really recommend this book.  It seemed like I would never get to the end, so I eventually switched to the audio version so I could listen while I was training for my next half marathon.  (At least I could kill two birds with one stone.)  I thought the narrator did a remarkable job with the various characters' voices.  Her interpretation of the Reverend Welles was by far my favorite.  He was a missionary Alma met in Tahiti while visiting the island.  The time period when Alma was in Tahiti was my favorite part of the book, but even this seemed to drag on longer than was necessary.

I will probably still give Eat, Pray, Love a try, but I will not be rushing into it after completing The Signature of All Things.

Rockin' the Boat by Jeff Fleischer: Review and WIN a pre-order copy!

Book Summary
We love to root for the underdog, and when it comes to underdogs, few are more impressive than the world’s great revolutionaries. 
After all, it’s pretty hard to find a more powerful opponent than the world’s biggest empires and emperors. And that’s part of why we’re drawn to the stories of revolutionaries. Many of these men and women were born into virtual dystopias, and they fought throughout their lives, against all odds, to forge a path to a better future. And whether they succeeded, failed, or succeeded only to become a new kind of enemy, there’s something inherently fascinating about that effort to change the world. 
Rockin’ the Boattells the stories of fifty such iconoclasts — including the gladiator Spartacus, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, the inspired religious fighter Joan of Arc, the abolitionist John Brown, women’s rights icon Margaret Sanger, and Maori chief Hono Heke — from an incredibly diverse set of places and times. Each entry includes a mix of history, biography, and analysis, and is supplemented with photos, sidebars, and an incredible amount of trivia as well. 
As a result, Rockin’ the Boat provides a unique and powerful view of history — a view from the bottom up, through the eyes of people who dared to imagine a different world from the one in which they lived.

Flo's Review
I always enjoy reading these type of books from Zest Books because they don't have to be read straight through for you to enjoy them. You can casually skim through them, brushing by parts that don't interest you and focusing on the things that do. And I always come away with some good trivia. So when I was approached about being part of this blog tour, I was all over it.

I especially had fun with Rockin' the Boat because I earmarked pages of interest and wrote little notes and commentary in the margins. Here are some random things I highlighted:

  • I learned how the story of Gaius Gracchus is similar to the story of the Kennedy brothers.
  • I got some background on the infamous "I am Spartacus!" scene in the 1960 movie.
  • Did you know that the terms "Kaiser" and "Czar" both originated as translations of "Caesar"?
  • There was a man named Vercingetorix. That name though!
  • The story behind "Remember, remember the fifth of November"
  • Samuel Adams worked as a partner in his father's malt house, but wasn't a very successful brewer.

...and that was all in the first 100 pages! Fleischer had some great captions for the pictures and the sidebars did a good job at expanding on the history and background of common and well-known things relating to the revolutionaries. 

Giveaway Time!
Want your own pre-order copy of Rockin' the Boat to read and write in? Enter via the Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Carry on, carry on
We are just the beginning! There are more blog stops and more prizes coming over the next few weeks. More information here: http://zestbooks.net/rockin-blog-tour/. And if you want to want to pre-order the book, you can do it here: http://zestbooks.net/rockin-the-boat/.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Book Summary
With shades of The Hunger GamesEnder’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart,Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.
 


Flo's Review
Wow. What an interesting journey with this book. I literally had quite a roller coaster experience reading it. While I loved the concept of Red Rising, the first book in the trilogy, it took me awhile to get through it. I set it aside for several months, and then only picked it back up when I got Golden Son. 

The beginning of the book held my interest, but then toward the end of Part I, it was losing me again. I once again put a Pierce Brown book down and went on to other things. But I was determined to push through, so I picked it back up and read on. Then two words at the end of Part I had me excited to get to Part II. I was back to being invested in the story for awhile, but then it once again started to lose me. It went to the side again, but once again I came back. By the end of Part III and into Part IV, I was flying. And then there's the end. But we'll get to that in minute.

What I liked most about this book is the themes of trust and redemption that run through it. Darrow, though born a Red, is a natural leader. It is in his blood. But he is a leader because he makes friends, not followers. And his friends will follow him willingly and die for him. Time and time again Darrow opts to trust his friends and give them the benefit of the doubt. And the majority of the time this works. He realizes that the Golds will break because they are rigid and power hungry and always looking out for #1 above all. And the Reds can rise because they believe in brotherhood and community. I jotted down the phrase "high virtue, low color." Darrow's problems come when he goes out on a limb and trusts too much, hoping that all his friends can be human beyond just being Gold. Darrow is also bold in his strategy and that is why is so successful as a leader. He is smart -- he does his homework. He is often able to anticipate traps and what others who seek to harm him may be thinking. He uses that to come into a situation with the upper hand. 

You may be wondering why I had such trouble getting through this book. Through my experiences with sci fi, I can say that I just don't think I'm a sci fi fan. There are exceptions, of course: the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are two that come to mind immediately. But with this book, for example, there was a lot going on. Different types of people, different planets...I was often lost in all the detail. Secondly, I appreciate a good battle scene...but not a long one. I'm the same way with movies. (Don't get me started on the final Hobbit movie!) So many scenes in this book are fight scenes. And while I can appreciate that they are well done and that the characters are kicking @$$, I tend to just skim over them after awhile.

And now we can talk about the end. I won't spoil it, but I will say this. Up until then, based on my roller coaster of a journey with this book, I was looking at a 2 or 3 star rating. The ending brought it up to 4. I almost gave it 5 anyway, but I couldn't bring myself to rate it so highly based on my experience. But I almost did. The ending overshadowed everything for me. It was the kind of ending a booknerd lives for -- it's waaay past my bedtime, but I can't bloodydamn put the book down! Then, once I've finished it, I immediately had to seek out a friend to freak out with. The ending made the book for me.

Morning Star is the third and final book in the trilogy and it's not supposed to come out until 2016. How am I supposed to wait?!?!?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ALA Midwinter Recap and an EPIC Giveaway!


I've had the opportunity to go to numerous bookish events over the years, but I have never been to any ALA (American Library Association) ones. Over the years I have heard many good things, so I decided 2015 was my year! So much of the fun of this conference was in the planning. I am a Florida girl, as you may know. ALA Midwinter 2015 took place in Chicago. In January. You have no idea how many times I heard, "You're to Chicago? in January??" But I pulled out my biggest coat and all my winter gear, and I hopped on the plane Friday evening.

I was lucky enough to be sharing the experience with some amazing bloggers -- Ana from Owl Always Be Reading, Leydy from Once Upon a Twilight, and Danielle from Love at First Page.
My beautiful partners in book obsession.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered (Splintered, #1)

Jacque's Review:

I've had this series on my TBR list for quite some time, but I really wasn't sure what it was about until I started reading.  Alyssa is a decedent of Alice from Alice in Wonderland.  Apparently the events from this children's classic actually took place and resulted in a curse on the women in Alyssa's family.  She and her mother can hear the flowers and insects talking.  Her mother couldn't cope and is now in a mental institution.  Alyssa is determined to find the rabbit hole and end the curse that has plagued her family for several generations.

The majority of the story is spent in Wonderland.  I thought Howard did a remarkable job of weaving the elements from the original Alice in Wonderland story into this dark and twisted version.  The descriptions of the unique characters and settings were detailed enough to paint a vivid picture for the reader without detracting from the progression of the story.  

My favorite character was Morpheus.  He is the caterpillar from the original story who can transform into a moth as well as a man.  Alyssa realizes he was not only her childhood friend, but he trained her for years on how to end the curse.  He is a very arrogant character with questionable motives, but in the end I felt like his heart was in the right place.  

Howard adds an additional twist by incorporating Alyssa's longtime friend and love interest, Jeb, into the story.  There is quite a bit of tension between Morpheus and Jeb.  As the story progresses Alyssa becomes increasingly less certain of her true feelings for these two characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and gave it four stars.  I haven't seen the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland that came out in 2010, but I am extremely interested in seeing it after reading this book.      

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

Book Summary
Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…... 
Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt. 
But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want….

Flo's Review
I've had a copy of Caged in Winter for awhile now, but hadn't gotten the chance to read it. However, when I learned that Brighton would be at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago, I took the book as my read for the plane in hopes that I could get her to sign it at the show. And Brighton's the sweetest, y'all! But let's talk about this book--

I really enjoyed reading about Cade and Winter. Cade is one of those characters who is not what he appears to be. He has tattoos and piercings and a strong physical presence, but at heart he is loving and self-sacrificing to a fault. Winter goes on the biggest emotional journey in the book, but Cade has one as well. It was nice to see him listen to his friends, family, and Winter and take a look at the life he's been living from another perspective. His sister Tessa and Winter both make him re-evaluate his staunch position. Everything he has done and continues to do is out of love, but the giving needs to wrap back around to himself as well.

Watching Cade break down Winter's barriers was a beautiful thing. I love that it started with a simple walk to the bus stop after work and then grew from there. That's the type of story you tell the grandkids, you know?!? "I walked her from work to the bus stop day after day until she gave me the time of day." Winter was able to put on a front at work, but Cade saw right through that and saw her underneath. *swoons* At times I was like, "C'mon Winter!!!" with her stubbornness and her refusal to let him in, but her hesitation made sense. But when she is finally able to look at her life and her choices in another way, thanks to Cade and Annette, it heartening to see things with her through new eyes.

I need the next book, Tessa Ever After, in my life immediately.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Book Summary
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a "wonderful" husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical--most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent--and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie--and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
"The Rosie Project" is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.


Flo's Review
Aww, so much love for this book! So. Much. Love. This is a book that I finished reading 15 minutes ago,but I still have a big smile on my face because I feel all happy inside after reading it. This book is for the underdog; this book is the for the social outcast; this book is for anyone who feels like they are being laughed at. 

It was surprisingly very easy to get inside Don's head -- probably because he's so rational about everything. But even though he doesn't do well with physical contact, you want to hug him throughout the book. Simsion does a great job of being in Don's head and bringing the reader there, too. Even though I may understand a social norm or a social nuance, I see it through Don's mind and understand why he doesn't understand it. 

I loved the fact that Rosie found his quirkiness endearing. I was cheering for her to fall for him because of it and she did not let me down. I loved seeing Don come to realize things after he has taken himself (and the reader) through his steps of logic. I even love the bright yellow cover of the paperback! 

Again, on a personal note that I've shared in my reviews of The Reason I Jump and Isla and the Happily Ever After -- I have a nephew with autism and it will never fail to warm my heart seeing someone on the spectrum have a life full of friends, love and purpose. Don cares about people and they care about him -- Claudia, Gene, Daphne. He is fulfilled by work and extracurriculars. This is the life I want for my nephew. 

I have to take a minute to recognize the narrator of the audiobook. I listened to a lot of this one and he was perfect! His accent and more especially his way of saying certain words and his intonations are exactly how I think Don would have said or thought them.

At times I found myself laughing and then feeling bad, like I was laughing at Don? But that's not it. Like Rosie, I think he would be fun to hang out with. I would learn a lot and every so often he would bust out with a little joke. He's a fast learner of basically everything, and we could drink wine all the time. He's so endearing -- that's a good word for Don -- endearing. This is definitely a definition of a "feel good" book! I definitely recommend this one!

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for providing me a copy for review.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hero by Samantha Young

Book Summary
Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that she and her mother weren’t his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets,. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him. Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair. Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again… 

Flo's Review
This was actually my first Samantha Young book. I've heard lots of good things and seen lots of good reviews for some of her other books, so I may have to give them a try.

When I started reading Hero I was in love with it. The story kept a good pace and smart alec Alexa was fun to read when she was putting Caine in his place. I was really into it...until the end. 

In the beginning, I questioned why Alexa felt she HAD to get through to Caine. She was seemingly irrationally driven to show him how similar they both were, and I know a lot of it was guilt for what her father did and loneliness because of how her life turned out. So I went with it. But by the end? I understand, too, why Caine turned out the way he did. But NO ONE should get a free pass to be a jerk. He was a jerk to Alexa REPEATEDLY and she kept taking it because she was going to get through to him dagnabbit! People are emotional and get hurt and make mistakes. I understand that. And I understand second chances. And maaaaybe third and fourth chances, based on the situation. But this was like 57 chances. (I made up that number, but you know what I mean.) I don't care anymore that his family life was bad. Use that, rise above it, be better. I know that's a tall order and not everyone can do it. I guess I'm just saying that I, personally, could not have kept giving Caine chance and chance and chance again to be a jerk to me and break my heart. I don't care who he is.

I do want to take the folks at Penguin/NAL for sending me this ARC. Hero comes out today and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it. If you read it, let me know how you liked it!

You think this is harsh? Here's my review of 50 Shades of Grey: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2012/06/50-shades-of-venting-50-shades-of-grey.html

Friday, January 30, 2015

99 Fictional Boyfriends on the blog, 99 Fictional Boyfriends...





If there's one thing that unites the Book Nerds, it's our love of fictional men. Earlier this year, Flo, Jacque, and I  were talking about them (of course!) when we came up with the idea of sharing a HUGE list of our favorites. Could we do it? We love a lot of these boys!

We decided to go big or home -- so we are bringing you NINETY NINE different boys that we love. Yes, as in almost 100! And the crazy thing? It wasn't that hard!


Here is my list (Mary!):

Haymitch
Hunger Games

Caleb
Significant Series
Finn
Daughter of the Sea Series
Decebel
Grey Wolves Series
Mac
Delta Project Series
Micah
Sweet Olbivion
Hades
Daughter of Zeus Series
Aiden
Covenant Series
Reed
The Premonition Series
Braden
On Dublin Street
Jackson
Madly Series
Curry
The Vampire Agape Series
Mr. Darcy
Pride & Prejudice
Rourk
Keegan Chronicles

Lucas Brooks
Trying to Score

Shea Adler
Taking Shots


Patrick
The Patrick Chronicles

William
Eden Trilogy

Liam
The Boy Who Sneaks in my Window


Swayer
The Vicent Boys Series

Gio
Elemental Mysteries

Chase
Taking Chances

Jude
Crash Series

Kiran
Star-Crosses Series

Gunner
Wanted Series

Jeff
Wanted Series


Lucas Sharp
The Ice Series
Max Crawford
The Ice Series
Marc Kane
The Ice Series
Levi Carr
The Penalty Kill Trilogy
Jake
Bold as Lover Series

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Book Summary
Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

Flo's Review
Michelle and I at the Miami Book Fair in 2014
Honestly, I am not sure what to say about this book. Did I like it? I did. I was listening to the audiobook, but then HAD to know what was going to happen once I got closer to the end, so I abandoned the audio and read the last 100 pages. At the same time, though, I discovered I have a low threshold for ... gross stuff? There were definitely a few scenes that I had to skim over because if I read them (or listened to them) closely, I felt I would be sick imagining them. Sometimes the situations that characters found themselves in seemed a little too coincidental, even though they weren't. (Ahhh...it's hard to do this in a non-spoilery fashion.) This book reminded me a lot of Allegiant in that I felt there was a lot of information dump in this volume. We spent the first two books being like, "WHAT is going on???" and just finally got answers here. Thankfully, though, it was not all information dump and there was some good action as well. This book also reminded me a bit of The Young Elites because with that book Marie Lu set up to write a story about a villain. Both of these books remind you, and Mara even talks about it toward the end of this one, that sometimes the villain is not all bad, and starts from a place of good intentions. I loved how this ended! I was told what it was going to do by a few people, I think, before I got to read it, but it was still really cool how it played out. I'm curious to hear if Jacque died in her chair when Noah Shaw started speaking words of love en francais?

Jacque's Review

After reading the first two books in the series, this was one of my absolute favorite YA series.  We had to wait over two years between the release of the second and third books, so I was beyond anxious for the release.  Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic, but this book didn't quite live up to my expectations. 

Michelle inserted chapters throughout the book which told the story of Mara's ancestors.  This provided a history of the "superpowers" Mara and her friends possess.  We also come to understand the motivations behind the research that is being conducted at Horizons, which shed some light on not only the characters' pasts and onset of their conditions, but also their future. 

We eventually learn if Jude is "real or not real" and how he is connected to Horizons and Dr. Kells.  I wish there could have been a way for Michelle to tell this story without using quite so much graphic violence.  I read a lot of adult murder mysteries, so I am not opposed to violence as a whole.  I just didn't think it was fitting for this series and specifically not when it was associated with Mara.  It didn't bother me in the least when Mara "punished" a character with her powers, but it was a completely different story when she had to defend herself by traditional means. 

The biggest disappointment had to be the lack of Noah throughout the story.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but he did not have nearly the presence that he had in the first two books.  He is one of my favorite YA characters and is probably the sole reason I loved the first two books as much as I did.  Without his presence, it felt like something was missing. 

Overall, I felt like the story tied everything together and provided a satisfying ending.  While it didn't live up to my 5 star hopes, it was still an entertaining story and a nice conclusion to the series.  The last 100 pages that Flo referenced above was the saving grace for me.  It probably doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine what must have occurred around this point, but I flew through the last 100 pages.  If only the entire book could have been like that I would have given it 5 stars like the previous two.  (Yes...Noah had several quotes that were beyond swoon worthy.  That is what I probably love about him the most along with his arrogant and confident demeanor.)