Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Book Summary
The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her home to the life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of death himself, he must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Flo's Review
Reading this book has been a long time coming for me. I loved Grave Mercy and immediately wanted to read this one when I was done. But life got in the way, and it ended up getting pushed back on my TBR list. It was BEA that bumped it back up again -- I was lucky enough to get a copy of Mortal Heart which I am eager to read, and I knew I needed to read this one first.

I pretty much spent the first half of the book feeling sorry for Sybella. Poor girl could not get a break! Horrible upon horrible. But it was interesting to me that she saw herself of undeserving of true respect, love, and sacrifice, when that is what she operates by. But I'm pretty sure if I had suffered everything she had, I would feel the same way. You think it can't get more horrible, then she would go and tell Beast about another secret she needed to confess.

Speaking of Beast -- #TeamBeast! I had to chuckle a bit with this because she really just thinks of him and refers to him as Beast, and I think that's awesomely hilarious. Also, Beast is pretty amazing. He and Sybella are pretty much perfect for each other and I loved cheering for them from the first time they met and throughout their adventures together. 

I also really enjoyed the fact that Ismae and Annith were both considerable characters in the story. Even though this was Sybella's story I felt that the three books mold and fit together seamlessly. I loved how being Death's daughter means different things for the Ismae and Sybella than it does for the convent, and I'm really looking forward to hearing from Annith.

Also, I enjoy historical fiction and the nerd in me really enjoyed reading Robin's "Author's Note" at the end explaining how she intertwined fact and fiction.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

The Promise of Amazing

Jacque's Review:

Wren is a sixteen year old girl who attends a private all girls school.  She has two best friends, Jazz and Maddie, and works part time at her family's catering hall, the Camelot.  She is the quiet, studious type that never gets into trouble.  Immediately this was something I could relate to.  I also went to an all girls school and primarily hung out with two girls with similar personalities.

Grayson (Gray) was recently expelled from the all boy's school, St. Gabe's, for writing and selling term papers to other students.  He is smart, popular, and was the star of the varsity lacrosse team.  Attending the public school without his friends or a lacrosse team is a wake up call for him.  He no longer wants to be involved in the illegal activities his private school friends were involved in, but they will not let him walk away.  

One of the running jokes within the catering operation is who gets to serve the mini hot dogs.  While working a wedding, Wren landed this undesirable tray and went about her job of distributing them to the guest.  This is where she meets Grayson.  He is hanging out with a group of friends and proceeds to make fun of the "weenie girl".  It was all fun and games until Gray choked on one of the weenies and Wren had to give him the Heimlich maneuver.  From this point on there is an undeniable attraction between the two, but their road to happiness is not an easy one.  

I do not want to give away any spoilers, so I will leave the description at that.  Overall, I enjoyed the story.  I loved both of the main characters, but I found Gray's friends to be extremely frustrating.    Luke is a self centered bully and Andy is a spineless pothead.  Every time they worked themselves into the story, I had to stop reading.  I understand that conflict is needed within a story, but Luke caused WAY more than his fare share.  

I ended up giving this book 3 out of 5 stars.  I think a few more date nights and a little less of Luke would have helped to balance out my frustration level.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Book Summary
Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race. But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

Flo's Review
I loved this story so much, for so many different reasons. First of all was the way I could relate to Annie. I hate running, too! So the idea that she couldn't even do two laps around her school track at the beginning of the book, yet she is training to run a marathon was fascinating to me. As I was reading, I found myself thinking that her program with Matt sounded really cool. If I could find a Matt, I might consider doing it. Might. But on the flip side, I loved this story because I couldn't relate to it. Annie grew up without a lot of money, but this is not the focus of the story -- and I love that. Because she never sees herself as a victim. It's just a fact of life that she lives in a trailer and her mother never graduated high school because she got pregnant. But Annie is working hard for her dream of going to college. And while she is madly in love with Kyle, when he proposes and asks her to give that all up, so does not. I really admire that. 

Another reason I loved the story was because I grew up in Tennessee. Not a town like the one Annie is in, but close enough where the scenery she describes reminds me of home. And I had friends that went to MTSU, so it was really cool to read about that. I loved Annie's personality -- Miranda Kenneally wrote this story to where Annie's voice is so distinctive -- you feel like you're just sitting down with her over a beer and she is telling you this story. She has a sense of humor and I really enjoyed her thoughts and interactions with the other characters. I loved that this is kind of the fifth book in a series, but is also a stand alone. I haven't read any of Miranda's other books, but I did not feel like I was coming into the middle of the story or that I was lost about what was going on in any way at any time.

In case you missed it, I loved this story. There are a few components, though, that I didn't necessarily love. First of all, Annie deals with a sense of guilt throughout the book -- she feels like it it her fault that Kyle died. I can certainly understand why she feels like that, but that is never really resolved -- for lack of a better word. I don't think she tells anyone that she thinks Kyle's death is her fault, so no other character can offer her absolution. And she does not ever give it to herself. Similarly, I don't know how I feel that Jere has Annie go ziplining and then she's like, "Okay, I understand why you're an adrenaline junkie." And she starts to equate Jere being an adrenaline junkie to how she should take risks in her life and such. It's almost like she now thinks it's okay...and I don't know if I do. I know it would be unrealistic for Jere to end the book with agreeing to never take any risks again, but maybe a middle ground between the extremes of Annie condoning versus Jere never doing anything risky again. Finally, there is something that happens to Annie and Jere near the beginning of the book that I don't think needs to be part of their story at that point in order for their story to be what it was.

I loved the multiple meanings of the title: Breathe, Annie, Breathe. What an amazing title! Because on one level it is referring to her remembering to breathe while she runs. On another level, it's about her needing to remember do things to move her forward in life and out of being stuck in grief. It can also refer to her having to remember not to snap at her Mom every time she mentions Kyle, to slow down her heart rate when physical contact with Jere speeds it up, to make it gracefully through an awkward situation like with her friends or Kyle's family or at the Roadhouse. Basically, it's like a call of, "You can do this!" Which brings us back to why I love this book. 5 of out 5 stars!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Jacque's Review:

This series has been on my TBR list since December of 2011, but for some reason it never made it to the top of the list.  I always loved the cover with the bright red dress and the swirling smoke...or clouds...I was never sure which.  (I'm not going to spoil it for you, but you will learn what the smoke is pretty late in the book).

Nikki Beckett's mother was killed by a drunk driver prior to the start of the book.  The depression and sense of loss combined with her insecurities about her relationship with Jack pushed her towards Cole.  He had a mysterious way of taking away all of her pain.

She later learns that Cole is an Everliving and uses human emotions as his source of energy.  He feeds on her for 100 years, which equates to 6 months in human time.  This time period is referred to as "the feed".  She should have wasted away to virtually nothing, but for some reason she survived.  Now Cole believes the two of them can rule the underworld.  The only problem is Nikki's love for Jack never diminished.  She refuses to go with Cole to the Everneath and returns to the surface for her last six months with Jack and her family.    

 At first I was a Cole supporter and thought the two of them would make a great couple.  That was before I met Jack.  Once I could see Jack and Nikki's love and devotion to one another it was clear that they belonged together.  They began researching mythology with the hope of finding a way to free Nikki.  With time running out, they need to work quickly or they could lose each other forever.  

Everneath was an excellent debut novel for Brodi.  I was captivated from the very beginning and didn't feel like the story lagged at any point.  Brodi added a unique twist at the end that I did not see coming until very late in the story.  It set up the second book beautifully and left the reader anxiously anticipating Everbound, which is the second book in the series.  Without this change in direction, I don't think there would have been much of a plot line remaining.

I will give you advance warning.  DO NOT read the synopsis for Everbound until you have already finished reading Everneath.  There is a large spoiler revealed in the synopsis and I was a little upset when I read it. I don't think I will read the synopsis for a book further along in a series ever again.  I have heard other bloggers complain about this, but this is the first time I have experienced it first hand.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Jacque's Review:

I needed an audio book  for a road trip, so I looked on the library's site to see what was available.  I LOVED I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella and decided to give another one of her books a try.

This book was just okay for me.  If I were reading a print copy, I may not have finished it. Since I was stranded in the car for 12 hours each way to and from Vermont with nothing better to do, I kept listening.

Laura Lington is a twenty some year old girl from London.  (The narrator had a British accent, which was a bonus.)  When we first meet her she is getting ready for her Great Aunt Sadie's funeral.  Sadie died at the age of 105 in a nursing home where she had been living for many years.  Her remaining family never really knew her, but Laura's Dad and his brother Bill agreed to hold a funeral.  During the service Laura is approached by Sadie's ghost demanding that they stop the service.  She simply can't leave this world without her dragonfly necklace.  Laura is the only person who can see Sadie, but she proceeds to stop the service by declaring Sadie was murdered and there needs to be an investigation.

Laura has been under a lot of stress lately and thinks she is finally going crazy.  What other explanation could there be for seeing and hearing a ghost?  Sadie appears to be close to Laura's age in her ghostly state and loved the twenties.  Not only does she want Laura to find the necklace, but she plans on living life to the fullest while she is still here.  She talks Laura into asking an American business man named Ed out on a date and wants her to dress in vintage 20's clothing and makeup.  She agrees to go along with the ridiculous plan because she wants to do something nice for Sadie.  She didn't really know her while she was living, but she is determined to make it up to her now.

Throughout the story Laura and Sadie develop a real friendship and begin to use their talents to help one another.  They are a great team and with Sadie's help, Laura is finally able to get her personal and professional life back on track.  It was a nice story with some surprising twist at the end, but I was never engaged to the point in which I couldn't stop listening.

I really enjoyed the portion of the book where Laura takes Ed on a tour of London.  I went to London last September and visited all of the same locations, so I could totally relate.  I just wish there had been more interactions with Ed.  Those were definitely the high points of this story.

I've heard great things about all of Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books, so I will probably read the first book in that series the next time I want a Kinsella book.  Unless this is the ONLY Sophie book you haven't read, I would probably select one of her others before starting this one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Release Day Blast: Hearken (Daughter Of the Sea #4) by Kristen Day

Hearken ( Daughters Of the Sea #4 ) 
Now Available!

Haven't read the first 3 in the series?! Get caught up while they are on sale!

★SALE!! Only $.99 cents each!★ 
Daughters of the Sea Series! 

When the evil you fear is born from within, who will save us…from ourselves?

Sometimes our souls hear what our minds and hearts refuse to accept. It will whisper its continuous cadence until we're strong enough to glimpse the truth. But when the soul's whispers morph into screams, we're forced to gaze into the mirrors of time and see ourselves for who we really are.

 Grappling with her newfound leadership position, Stasia begins to experience a recurring nightmare of murder, as well as curious reveries about a violet-eyed girl who can control the moon. When tragedy grips the Tydes and several important relics are stolen from the Sons of Daimon, Stasia’s Council leaves for the forgotten island of Atlantis. Unfortunately Atlantis harbors its own secrets, and they are all calling to Stasia. As her nightmares become worse and she begins to lose control of her mind, those around her must find a way to reach her…and fast.

 Olivia Campbell is used to getting what she wants, when she wants it. But destiny never asked Olivia what she wanted. Being Chosen to be a Paladin at birth had not been something she wanted, and she definitely hadn’t wanted her charge to be Anastasia. Unfortunately their irritatingly persistent Atlantean guide, Sebastian, seems to know all about her and the secrets she’s been hiding. As she fights to protect Stasia from an unknown force, Olivia’s own courage and loyalty will be tested in ways she never imagined. Will she be able to tell Stasia the truth before it’s too late for them both.    

Purchase your copy of Hearken today!

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/BN-KristenDay

About Kristen Day
  I am a southern belle at heart with a crazy streak that desperately tries to escape at every opportunity. I love all things nostalgic, rustic, and quirky. I've been told I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I prefer to think of them as kaleidoscope glasses - swirling and morphing reality into something I can digest (who hasn't pretended those pasty lima beans were really kiwi strawberry jelly beans?).  When I'm not writing I'm making jewelry, painting, drinking sweet tea, watching the discovery channel, or going on random adventures in the mountains of North Carolina with my amazing husband.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Book Summary
Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by Four: A Divergent Collection, a fourth volume in the Divergent series. Readers first encountered Tobias Eaton as "Four" in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character's backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton's life. The first three pieces in this volume--"The Transfer," "The Initiate," and "The Son"--follow Tobias's transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, "The Traitor," runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty--and love--that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

Flo's Review
I had already read The Transfer when it was first released, but I decided to wait to read the other ones until I could read them all together. I'm glad I did. This collection of stories was fantastic! I really enjoyed seeing things from Four's point of view, but even more than that, I enjoyed learning more about the past of Dauntless. I was not expecting the events that went down in The Son, and reading The Traitor made me want to go back and read Divergent again. This volume did a great job of showing more about Dauntless. In Divergent, Four talks about how the faction is changing from what it used to be, but that's all he says. When I was reading it, I was so caught up in Tris' story and the her initiate class's drama, that I didn't stop to think about how Dauntless was different. Like how the initiates used to do combat training with pads, and the idea wasn't to beat each other but to build camaraderie among them. So cool! And how the current system with Tris and the eliminations came around? Fascinating. I just really enjoyed this book, and if you enjoyed the Divergent trilogy then this is a great addition. 

Our Divergent Reviews
Flo's review of Divergent: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2011/03/divergent-by-veronica-roth.html
The rest of the Book Nerds' review of Divergent: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2011/05/divergent.html
Book Nerds review of Insurgent: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2012/06/insurgent-by-veronica-roth.html

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Flo's Review
The fourth book of the Bloodlines series starts off with everything going pretty well and happy considering the circumstances of Sydney's situation. She is living her life on her own terms -- enjoying herself and making progress in all fronts of her career. But then things get messy...

I enjoyed several things about this book. First of all, I love poetry. I love Adrian Ivashkov. Mix the two? OMG. *stops to catch breath* Second, we got to see more of Rose and Lissa than we have in previous Bloodlines books, and it's always neat when they make an appearance. I really, really enjoyed reading Adrian's point of view -- that man --er, vampire -- is always funny, but his thoughts as well as his comments was great.

If you are on Twitter at all, you've probably ascertained that this book ended in quite the evil cliffhanger. I have NO IDEA how Richelle Mead is possibly going to make everything okay, and I am simultaneously scared to find out along with being so excited I can barely wait! Thank goodness Silver Shadows comes out in a few short weeks!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Flo's Review
I have to admit -- this one is probably my least favorite of the Bloodlines series so far. There were two main story lines in this book, and I wasn't really attracted to either one. I didn't like or trust Marcus Finch and felt that Sydney was too quick to do both. The story line with Ms. T. felt a little bit forced to me -- like we just needed a reason to have Sydney and Adrian spend a lot of time together, so this is what we've come up with. That being said, it was a quick read and fit very well into the series as a whole. Also, some things literally made me laugh out loud -- Hopper the callistana, for one. AYE for another. Okay, basically I love Adrian. The sweet and then shocking ending of this book made me happy that I had The Fiery Heart on hand to pick up right away.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

All of You by Christina Lee

Book Summary 
Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor. He's irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin. Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she's perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother's bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes. When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won't accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing. Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too. So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.

Flo's Review
I picked this book up in the morning because today is a Lazy Sunday and I wanted a cute, simple love story to read. A few hours later, I am sitting at my dining room table (hey, a girl's gotta eat) crying and unable to put this book down. This book floored me! It was so much more than I thought it would be. Specifically, it wasn't just about the love story. I mean, it was, of course. But not just the romantic love. It was also about friend love, family love, and most importantly, self love. Avery and Bennett both grew up in similar situations, and they took the exact opposite extremes in their lives as a way to deal with the traumas of their youth. At the beginning of the book, I didn't think I would like Avery. But she surprised me with a greater depth and greater strength that I imagined. I am proud of her 16-year-old self for doing what she did and the choices she made after. But I love that her 21-year-old self was able to realize that she needed to grow and evolve if she was going to come out better and not just go through the motions of life. Ella was great, and I can't wait to read her story next. 

Thank you to Berkeley/NAL for the providing me with this book.