Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa- Review

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden 2) by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: April 30th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Received From: Publisher through NetGalley
Hardcover 448 pages


From Goodreads-Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.
Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.


With the Immortal Rules I warned you that you would not be reading The Iron Fey when you ventured into the dark world of vampires and humans and rabids. Go deeper. Go darker. Go underground. That has become the only safe place to be in most of the cities left in this decimated world. Sarren, that crazed, demented, vicious vampire has Kanin and Allison has been following the call of his blood to hers for weeks now. Ever since she was kicked out of Eden. Ever since she left Zeke and the others in that island of humans, free of vampires, virus and rabids. Allison is still unique among vampires, hanging onto her humanity, she still hates to kill and can't stand to let the monster in her have control. And yet that's what she knows she is, a monster. She battles with herself more in this novel as she's been a vampire a lot longer now. She's had blood out of a wine glass, out of a blood bag and out of a human's neck. She's seen the difference and knows what tastes the best, but still tries to deny that part of herself.

Unexpectedly, she meets up with Jackal, her half brother, as Kanin sired them both. He too is haphazardly looking for Kanin after he lost his city in a battle with Allison and Zeke and company in The Immortal Rules.  As they travel through the sewers of New Covington to enter the city, finding the gates locked, they stumble upon Zeke. Time and again Allison is torn between wanting to kiss him or tearing a vein open. But she does neither. She reminds herself, she is the monster and he is a human and it can never work. As we read about Allison's interactions with people, she sounds, inside like she's a passionate, living human being, but it seems that outwardly, she is that impassive face that stares at us from the cover of The Immortal Rules, (originally)

Jackal is revealed to us as a kind of comic relief. He's fast with an axe, his preferred weapon and fitting considering his coarse nature. He calls humans "blood bags" and "meat sacks". Zeke is ready to run him through with a stake on more than one occasion. But Jackal proves useful especially when they first encounter Sarren.

Zeke is different, too. He seems to be a warrior. He is well armed when Allison and Jackal find him and he's running a sort of refugee camp. He's a natural leader. He has a crossbow that shoots vampires with wooden stakes and he's an excellent shot with a gun. He also swears that he will kill Jackal one day for what he did to Zeke's father and his other "family" members.

And then there is Kanin. Tortured for months, barely sane when Allison finds him. He is no longer her mentor, but still cautions her about getting involved with humans. He is a man of few words, but they always seem to have such an impact.

We learn more about the virus. About a new strain of it And more about the experiments that were going on with the vampires. We also get a look inside The Vampire Towers. We even get to meet the Prince.

The tone of this book is very dark with an ending that will, well just see what you think. I don't know what I think. I need to discuss it with someone! Jenny??? Steph- read this one yet? Melissa?  Anyone?
I really need to discuss that end!

Definitely for the more mature YA reader.17 and up. Lots of killing, language, I think there were some sexual references.



To Buy Links-

 AmazonKindle/AudibleBandNBookDepositoryIndiebound/Kobo\

Author Links-

Website/Blog/Blood of Eden Fan Page/Twitter/Facebook



Monday, April 29, 2013

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer A Review

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo
Goodreads Summary-
Too many secrets. Not enough time.

Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

So this is Nick's story, the strong, silent one. He's really smart, a real gentleman, protective of his brothers, girls, anyone lucky enough to be his friend. He is the type of guy that anyone would want to know. But he's also the kind of guy who is so busy being what everyone else wants him to be he doesn't have time to figure out who he is.  Does he want to go to college. That's a resounding yes. But can he leave Michael and his family to live a relatively normal life where no one knows he's an elemental?

And what about these feelings he's having for Quinn's dance partner, Adam. Does he finally explore that side of himself? Or does he shut the door on it once and for all?

This short novella goes by so fast you hardly realize it's done it's that compelling. Nick is such an interesting character because the only time we've seen him is through the other character's eyes. He's a twin, smart, a softer version of Gabriel. And he's vital to the peace of the family. He keeps Gabe's temper under control. What would happen if he left the state to go to college?  

And then there's Quinn. He doesn't feel anything more for her than he has for any of the other dozens of girls he's been with. But when her dance partner, Adam asked for his number, it stirred feelings in him he's been fighting for so long. How would his brothers react to that? Not well he's thinking. Then Quinn gets kicked out of her house and ends up in a bad situation and needs rescuing. Nick and Adam to the rescue and his questions are answered, at least some of them. Brigid Kemmerer proves that once again she can write sizzling tension and desire between two members of the same sex as well as she can of the opposite sex. I was cheering for Nick hoping he'd get the courage up to see what he really felt for Adam, what he obviously did not feel for Quinn.

This is a very quick powerful story about Nick and Quinn's friendship and Nick's possible feelings for Adam. Again, Brigid Kemmerer knows how to write intense desire and the lack thereof. It's an excellent story and I hope we get a whole book with this story in it. Excellent! The book leaves us knowing what Nick feels but not sure how he'll handle it from there.

As with all of Brigid's books, steamy but no sex. Just desire. And even though Gabe isn't in it (much) it's still hot. Hopefully by the time this book hits the virtual shelves Brigid will be sharing some great news she shared with me about some characters in her series!
So, this review was written a while ago and the good news is out!! I've been telling Brigid Michael is NOT too old to have his own story and FINALLY he is getting his own story in 2014!!! And not only that, but NICK gets his own book TOO!!! Finally, all the Merrick boys get their own stories! Hmmm, what else could we squeeze out of Brigid Kemmerer if we begged her?
Maybe a wedding for one or four of the Merrick brothers. (Sorry, it's going to take a lot for me to like what's his name!) All I know is that each book, novella gets more smoking hot than the last, but there is a great story to go with each one. I love the layers, the characters, the side characters, the family dynamics and each and every brother! Nobody is perfect. Even though they have these awesome powers, they have normal family problems and the not so normal ones as well. Can you tell I'm a huge fan of the Elemental Series and Brigid Kemmerer??? And did you know she answers her own emails? She does! She is a total ROCK STAR!

Thanks to Kensington Books for providing a copy to review through NetGalley. I did not receive compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Heather

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe Review


The Sweetest Dark(#1)
by Shana Abe
Author Links-

To Buy Links-


“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.” 

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic,The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.
*************************************************************************************************

I was really surprised by this book! I hadn't heard much about it and I'm kind of late reviewing it. But it was so incredible, I couldn't believe there hasn't been a huge push about this book. Or did I miss it?
I mighta missed it. Cause this book hits all my must haves- magic, romance, wait, not romance, I don't know how Shana Abe did it, but she made this an epic love story in a couple of meetings between two characters. It felt EPIC! And oh yes, it is a gothic historical magical realism romance! So, if that isn;t enough labels for you, then I don't know how else to help you. I won't give away the magic.

The book is set in the years of the beginning of WWI. Don't get confused, this is England. They were in it before the United States, just remember that. Because I had to call the man with the elephant memory (they aren't supposed to forget anything) and ask him when the U.S. got involved in WWI. It matters because I needed to know how old the main character is when things happen. Anyway, Lora, has a rough time growing up but she's finally caught a break. She was found mute, homeless and orphaned at 10. She served time, and I do mean that, in a mental hospital after admitting some of her secrets. No one believed her hence the mental hospital and her "treatments." Then her orphanage is bombed by the Kaiser. But it's okay because she is headed to Iverson, an elite boarding school for girls, on the coast of England. It's in a dark gothic castle and her room happens to be in one of the towers.

Now, Lora sounds like a pathetic or at least sympathetic character doesn't she? But not once did I feel sorry for her. She's not written that way and she doesn't live that way. She learned in the orphanage how to be street smart and she knows people. When she gets to Iverson, she's already landed on her feet. She knows how she'll be seen and treated and she really doesn't care, she knows she's in a lot better place than she could have been. She's not feeling sorry for herself and events change in a way so that she gets the upper hand on the most uppity and therefore meanest girl to Lora. Some of the girls she attends school with are "Lady" This and "Duchess" of That. This is very upper class. And Lora's benefactor is a Duke who owns the castle and a monstrous home he's building some miles away from the school. Lora is actually funny in some of her observations claiming that on rainy days "all the girls in all the years recognized that they were made of spun sugar: Rain would surely melt them into puddles." (end of chapter 15) Sometimes she's saying one thing with her mouth and something totally opposite in her head. I'm not used to this type of character set in this time period. I really loved her! And even when something bad happens or something she can't believe, she's still very strong.

There were other characters that made the book amazing, but the magic and the ending. I can't say anything about it except to say Lora is not crazy and she learns about herself at Iverson. And the war comes to Iverson in one way and many others. I think Shana Abe has created an incredible first book in a series that I am popping to the top of my favorites list for this year. I will be looking at her other books, she's got a bunch and the next book in this series The Darkest Night comes out in August!
Yes, and thank you! I'm not sure I could wait a year after that ending. I'd be doing everything to get an ARC of that one. But this being April, I feel like I can wait. And just read The Sweetest Dark over and over. And read Shana Abe's other books.

Thanks to the publishers at Bantam for the E-ARC I received through NetGalley! The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

GET THIS BOOK!!! I'm getting my own copy for sure!

Heather

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WOW Waiting on Wednesday

WOW

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers and readers to share what they are looking forward to being released in the coming weeks, months, year.




Requiem by Maggie Stiefvater
The last book in Books of Faerie Series!!!!

Yeah, I know, no pretty cover but I've been waiting years for this book. I thought she was never going to write this one.
Comes out later this year!
Even if you didn't like the Wolves of Mercy Falls, give Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception
and
Ballad: A Gathering of Faeries
a try! Then wait impatiently like I am for Requiem. And hope for a good ending.

What are you waiting for?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Taken by Erin Bowman Review


Taken by Erin Bowman
Author Links-




Goodreads Link and Summary-

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?


Taken is one of those books I feel like I've been waiting forever to read. But once I started reading it, I felt like I'd just started it and it was already ending. I have been dying to know, what happens to the boys during the Heist? Where do they go? How does the population survive? Since the first time I saw the premise of this book, it has probably hooked me better than any other book I've ever read a premise for simply because boys disappearing right in front of everyone?? That's a scary thought.

Gray has an older brother, Blaine who is taken in the beginning of the story. I've never had a book made me swallow the lump in my throat by the third chapter, but when Gray talked about how lonely he was, I was about to bawl! He's this big strong boy that hunts and takes care of himself, but inside, he's this scared kid. He's lost everyone he loves and he has no one to talk to about his feelings. It is really sad.

The world is very Hunger Games like. Except the men aren't men. They are boys. Otherwise it kind of reminds me of  a town in a western movie. There is no technology and rudimentary medical supplies.  They have no electricity or running water. No indoor plumbing. But except for the Heist, people seem satisfied with their lives, not living in poverty.

Then there is the Wall. It's as if it's a living breathing thing. It Walls the people of Claysoot in and the rest of whatever else is out there, out. Brave or scared individuals have climbed the tree that reaches the top of the wall and tried to look past the wall. All that's visible is black nothingness. Anyone that goes over the wall, their body turns up the next day, charred and burned. Some boys do this to escape the Heist.

I am stopping my review here. I haven't told you anything past the summary because I'm not going to spoil anything for you. But that is just one quarter of the book. It took me only a couple of hours to read this book, I couldn't put it down. Plus, I had to know what was going on. I LOVE Gray Weathersby. He is impulsive and rash, but he has so much fire and life to him, he's such a great character. He wants to save everyone and I love him for that!  The writing is easy and as you might have guessed, fast paced.  There is a lot of character growth and a lot of action. Things that could have been over explained were thankfully only gone over once.  Everything was explained just enough, but not in too much detail, to make it interesting but not cumbersome.  And no cliffhangers or insta love!

I'm ready for the next book, please! Can I be a Beta reader? Please!!!

Great start to a new dystopian series! Recommended for lovers of dystopians with some romance, maybe a bit of sci-fi and great characters.

Let me know if you read it and what you thought!

I received an E-Arc of this novel from HarperTeen through Edelweiss for review. The opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my review.


Heather



Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Signing Lenore Appelhans, Beth Revis, Victoria Schwab, Megan Shepherd and Meagan Spooner at Malaprops in Asheville, NC from a few months ago

Okay, in my defense, I have a new computer and a new camera. And my computer doesn't have a slot for me to load the camera software so I have to hook a disc reader up to do that. And then I have to figure out the camera software. Some of that happened and some of it didn't. Kodak was very user friendly. Nikon, more for the advanced picture taker, I'm thinking. So here are the unedited photos. These were shot at the beginning of February on a blustery snowy night in Asheville. Commentary to follow. The cute kid in the glasses, is my 13 yr old, Jakob. I try to avoid pictures at all costs!

  This is Malaprops. This is part of the cafe that they cleared out for the authors to sit in to talk about their books and to read a little bit from them. Then they took questions and signed books.



This is the sign it says, Young Adult Author Readings. Everyone's book had just come out so we were all very excited. I had read everyone, but Meagan Shepherd's. But Megan Spooner was a surprise, so I didn't even have her book. When she talked about it I was like "WTH where did this book come from? Why didn't I hear about it?" So you know I got it.






Megan Shepherd reading from The Madman's Daughter. An interesting fact was that she wrote a lot of the book right there in Malaprops. There she is, if you ever go into Malaprops take a look around and you might see her there writing.








And here's Victoria Schwab reading from The Archived. I think it may have been the prologue to the book. It's a bit hard to read from a book and not spoil something for someone. But she did. Read I mean. Not spoil anything. Interesting fact for her, The Near Witch, her first novel, was only her second novel she'd written. She was still in college when she got a contract for it.
And here's Lenore Appelhans reading from Level 2. She was so gracious and happy to read without giving anything away. She's a book blogger, too. Her blog is Presenting Lenore. Level 2 has just undergone a major change. It has a new cover and name. I'll show you at the bottom. Or you can click the link and see for yourself. I talked to her about Level 2 and said I thought it felt like things weren't quite what they seemed in the book. Everything just came too easy after all the work and detail she'd put into the world and the memories for everything to fall into place so easily, it just didn't make a lot of sense. Then I said, "I just kept remembering Julian saying not to trust ANYONE, there and not to even believe what you see." She just gave me a knowing smile and said, "I know. I know." Like we had both been reading it and were discussing it, forgetting that she was the one writing it. Then she told me how hard she fought to make sure we didn't have a cliffhanger at the end of this book. I thanked her for you, but you can tell her again. I mean it sounds like she had to fight really hard, maybe even fists came out, or at least little plastic swords. Anyway, she got her way, for us. Thanks again Lenore! And everyone that didn't understand that carefully constructed world that she built, she actually had her brother-in-law build one of those little pods so she could feel what it felt like to be in one. That my friends is dedication to detail. And there is a reason for everything in the world. Just wait for the second book. My speculations are that what Felicia went through at the end of the book might have been a dream or a wish. But I don't think she's in a happy place yet or with the guy she wants to be with. I think it was all smoke and mirrors, because Julian, is one manipulative a**. Anyway, on with the tour.


This, you must know, is Beth Revis. I have only been to one book signing that did not include Beth Revis! So yeah, I know who she is....and I always start by saying, "You signed my son's cast on the ASH to NASH tour?" She remembers. But I bring him just in case she doesn't. I never have anything remarkable to say to her. She's so damn funny. She didn't read from the book, she just said some things that were funny and we all laughed. I don't laugh when I read her books though. She's always killing someone. I think she talked about that. Anyway, Beth Revis is awesome and I feel very humble around her. Oh I know she was sitting between two people who had their very first novels published and if you don't know, Across The Universe was her 10th and I think final (so she says) attempt at getting published. So she might have said something about dynamite under their chairs or don't start their cars, something funny. And I asked about her next project and she said, she couldn't say anything about it. So....whatever it is I really can't wait!


In case you haven't met her before, this is Meagan Spooner. She wrote Skylark and let me tell you it has magic and mystery and when she told me about using Google Maps for research I thought, "Wow, she really did her homework." Apparently the main character has to travel some distance through the woods and Meagan wanted it to be accurate so she used Google maps to track how many miles it was and the terrain and how much food and water she'd need. You really learn all kinds of things at these readings! And she never said a word about that new book she was writing with Amie Kaufman These Broken Stars. She said she forgot.
The sequel to Skylark comes out this October.

Props to my faithful sidekick and inquisitive little budding writer, Jakob for always being willing to come to a book signing with me no matter who is going to be there. He does have a slight crush on Beth Revis. I hope he doesn't read my blog today. (Sorry Jakob):) Below are some pictures of him with the authors.








New cover for Level 2 Old cover

New cover called The Memory of After-

Pretty cool!

I love book signings and I was feeling so guilty for not posting this one for so long. Now I can feel good that I've finally shared with you guys. It was a lot of fun and I am planning to go to one in June at Malaprops again. And guess who's going to be there? Yep! Beth Revis! Lol

Happy Weekend!
Heather

I'm getting a blog makeover this month so if you come over here and nothing looks familiar you'll know why. Everything is going to change.
 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hidden by Helen Frost Review


Hidden by Helen Frost


Goodreads Summary-  When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too. 

Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.

So, through various clicks and recommends and various other complexities on Amazon, I came across this novel. The reviews made it sound so extraordinary, life changing even, that I felt compelled to purchase it, right then and there. Slow down, the earth did not move. I seem to be headed down the same path this evening that I was headed this morning. So Earth shattering, no I don't think so. Maybe my emotions were on mute or subtle today. Anyway, it was a really good book. My first in verse and it wasn't that hard to read at all. Of course it's written for MG readers, but it's also coded with a secret message. Yes, that's why I really bought the book. The Nancy Drew in me was just dying to find the secret message. And it's pretty clever how the author does it. 

The summary pretty much explains the story, just not the details. Not the fact that Wren tried to escape several times. And that Darra knew where she was hiding and left food for her so she wouldn't starve. That Darra had a plan to get Wren out and safely back home so that Darra's father would be safe and so would Wren.

When Darra first hears Wren's name at summer camp, she wonders if it's her. How many girls their age could be  named Wren? But then, Wren hears Darra's mother call her name and she recognizes their voices.  Wren panics, remembering that time six years ago and  it comes crashing back on her. The girls spend an uneasy few days tap dancing around each other. Wren has no more wish to expose Darra than Darra wants to reveal herself to anyone. But then in a game the Life Saving Instructor invents called Drown Last, Darra and Wren are pitted against each other and something dramatic happens that splits the silence. And the healing begins.

The story is told in both girls' points of view but also in Darra's point of view at the end of each long line of verse, going down the right side is the story of what was happening while Wren was hiding in Darra's garage. You take the last word at the end of each of the long sentences to make a sentence. And no, I didn't figure it out on my own. There are instructions in the back of the book.

So despite the fact that this book did not move the Earth or change my life significantly, it was a very satisfying read and a testament to the power of forgiveness and friendship. That was transforming for the girls and to see positive relationships between girls rather than jealousy and just  plain meanness, it was good. 

This is for a younger MG reader maybe 4th or 5th grade. It does have one scary part for that age, someone is shot with a gun, off the page, and dies. Other than that there shouldn't be anything too scary other than the fact that Wren was kidnapped accidentally when Darra's dad stole the car.

Heather

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Elephant of Surprise (Russel Middlebrook #4) by Brent Hartinger Review

The Elephant of Surprise (Russel Middlebrook #4)
by Brent Hartinger
Author Links-Brent's Brain, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest
To Buy Links-
Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, BookDepository, Kobo

Goodreads SummaryBook 4 in the Lambda Award-winning Russel Middlebrook Series!

People aren't always what they seem to be. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

So discovers seventeen-year-old Russel Middlebrook in The Elephant of Surprise, a stand-alone sequel to Brent Hartinger's landmark 2003 gay young adult novel Geography Club (which has now been adapted as a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula and Nikki Blonsky).

In this latest book, Russel and his friends Min and Gunnar are laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise -- the tendency for life to never turn out as expected. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot but mysterious homeless activist named Wade, even as he's drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min is learning surprising things about her girlfriend Leah, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest technology obsession.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?

The Elephant of Surprise includes Hartinger's trademark combination of humor and romance, angst and optimism. Before the story is over, Russel and his friends will learn that the Elephant of Surprise really does appear when you least expect him—and that when he stomps on you, it really, really hurts.

Okay so I'm gonna go all fan girly over this novel. I loved, loved, loved it! No, I haven't read any of the other novels in the series, but I wasn't at all lost. There is enough back story that I felt completely in the know as I read the story. Russel is the navigator of The Elephant of Surprise and I say it that way because he's kind of leading a double life. Don't worry his friends are, too, sort of. I love having Russel narrate because he talks to the reader asking us to agree with him. He is funny and kind of like talking to one of the girls. He swoons over the same things we do, tight shirts over big muscles, kissable lips....definitely notices the things we do. Russel also has a flair for the dramatic and apparently metaphors. The novel begins with Russel telling us he's in the middle of a jungle with vicious animals all around, frozen with fear afraid one move would make him prey for some animal. Then he says, "No, really, I was! I know, I know. You're thinking: 'He always does this. He stars the story pretending he's in the middle of some exciting event- a war, a fire, a zombie apocalypse,- but then it just turns out to be something metaphorical. I'm not falling for it this time.'" (first page, chapter one) Drama, metaphors. But my favorite and this shows his humor which is present throughout the book - "A weed had broken through the concrete of my heart. (Yes, I know that's over-the-top. Go with it.) (Chapter 11). Russel is always throwing things out to the reader like we are living the story with him. I loved it!

 Russel's love life is a bit of a drama, too. Remember it's high school, who's wasn't? He is torn between his jock (gorgeous) ex who did something unforgivable (or maybe he just thinks he did) and a new guy he met, a "Freegan" who he can't tell if he's gay or not.  There is a nice lesson in there about being Freegan something I've never heard of, don't worry it's not an info dump. It's really entertaining and makes some very good points about Americans and consumerism. No, I didn't feel guilty. I read for pleasure, not to feel guilty. But it was good knowledge to have.

Then there's Min who is dating a girl from another school who isn't exactly "out" yet. Min thinks she might be cheating on her, but is afraid to confront her. What she convinces Gunnar and Russel to do to get any evidence that she's cheating definitely goes beyond the bounds of friendship. She sends out the "Bat Signal" as Russel says. I say more the Bat S*** Crazy signal. But it does make for some funny/tense moments. Min is one of a kind. I need to read the rest of the series just to see her antics. Apparently she is a  know-it-all, only she really does know it all!

And Gunnar, well according to Min and Russel he operates on a whole other level. (I've got a son like that. We haven't identified the level yet). Gunnar documents his every waking minute and posts it on line during the book. Russel tells him it's so boring even he unfriended him but Gunnar doesn't care. We don't see a lot of Gunnar, but I think still waters run deep with Gunnar. Russel describes him as "too different to even realize how different he is, if that makes any sense. It's something of a curse, but it's a good curse: it makes him one of the most interesting people I've ever met, and probably one of the most interesting people I ever will meet." (end of chapter one).

These are people you really want to get to know the more you read about them. They are so close they feel the same feelings at the same time. They have each others backs. They love each other. There is no petty back stabbing or jealousy. These three are true friends and despite their own troubles, they ask about each others lives and help each other, no matter how crazy the scheme or idea, because that's what friends do. So when The Elephant of Surprise comes and stomps on them or brings happiness, they are there for each other.

Recommend for lovers of contemporary YA, romance, and friendships. There is some language and sexual mentions so this would be for a more mature YA reader. I highly recommend it. It's actually a quick read. The story is so engaging, the characters so well written and the pacing is perfect. And the romances, some are good, some are in flux and some fall apart. That's YA romance! But there's lot's of it!

***I wrote Brent Hartinger an email to tell him how much I loved the novel right after I finished it. You know that feeling you have inside right after you read a great novel? I told him I felt all glowy inside like a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven!  I love books that can make me feel that way! What about you?***

As mentioned in the beginning of the Goodreads Summary, The first book in this series, The Geography Club will be coming to theaters later this year, I think. I hope so! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland Review

Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland
Author links-website, twitter
Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Book Depository,
Kobo
Goodreads Summary-The Goddess Test meets Dexter in an edgy, compelling debut about one teen’s quest for revenge… no matter how far it takes her.

Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build. 


I'm not really sure how to describe this one. It was a lot of fun to read. It starts out with a bang, seeking justice and how can you hate that. I love my husband and boys in YA in general,but maybe I've watched a few too many CSI's or too many news stories. I like it when men get hunted down and served justice that the courts didn't give them. So, I really love Cory. She's taking care of the bad guys, the really, really bad ones. I do not have a problem with that! Smite away.

However, the things that are helping her are the Furies, yes those, from Greek Mythology. They came to her in a time of great need and she's had them literally in her ever since. Cory busts out of a mental institution having suffered greatly at the hands of her psychiatrist with his drug treatments. She's been on the run for two years now and has finally settled down back close to home in PA. Her parents died in a car crash on their way to visit her in another treatment center when she was young. She then went to live with a grandmother who also died. It had something to do with the Furies. All of it had something to do with them. But Cory can't escape them. She is quickly becoming their third. When she starts at a new high school, they whisper to her about all the horrible thoughts and misdeeds of every boy that passes by. But never the women. They never speak about the bad deeds of women. But they are more than happy to pass judgement on the boys and men. Until Niko comes along. They are eerily quiet around him.

The romance is pretty quick, Cory and Niko not being able to live without each other happens too soon. But I remember high school and how hard I fell for someone and how quickly so, I do try to cut some slack in the insta love department. And I don't know, I think if I had Cory's problem I'd want Niko around all the time, too if he can shut them up. But their declarations of love are a bit premature. They don't know anything about each other. Still it was forgivable. I think if there are Furies there is also Fate playing a hand so maybe they were fated.

The really fascinating part of the book was how Cory sought justice. The Furies couldn't manifest in the human world unless she let them. So they would find a different way to let her know who the victim was. Then Cory hunts this man. Always a man. She plays the victim one time to a tow truck driver who she finds in a bar. She talks to the bartender pretending she needs a tow and he points her to the tow truck driver, even though she knows who he is. Now the bartender sees them leave together. She's the last person to be seen with him. But when he turns up dead the next day miles away and his truck is in the bar parking lot and Cory's car is gone, no one is going to think to ask about her? Fingerprints? She's apparently very pretty. The bartender won't remember her? Some of those details didn't feel very tight to me. I tried to explain them away, but they just kept bugging me. But police investigative work isn't the point of the story. Just know you're going to have to accept those parts and move along or you'll miss the important stuff. Don't worry about fingerprints.

The point is this, Cory needed the Furies once a long time ago and now she doesn't. Now she's in danger of losing herself over to them. They are slowly gaining control of her. And if she doesn't find an answer to how to get rid of them, she'll be their third forever and Lord help the male population then. Because they will kill innocent men just as quick as guilty. As the story builds, the reason Cory needed the Furies in the first place begins to be revealed, another terrifying tale. Cory hasn't had an easy life. But there is hope for her and the ending is solid enough that I was really happy I read the novel.

Cory has a bit of snark that comes out when it shouldn't. Actually, her asides in her head are wicked good. She is also very practical. She's not used to having friends but she tries her hardest to be a good friend to the raggedy band of kids she chooses to sit with on her first day of school. She tries to shield Niko from her evil. But you can't love someone and only know half of them. Did I say I love that she kills the truly evil guys?? To me, she's the only fully developed character. The story seems so hurried we don't have enough time to learn anyone else any deeper. I will say, in the end, justice is served in every way imaginable.

I don't think this is a series. It felt complete to me. It's fun, quick and violent. I recommend it to lovers of action packed YA novels with a fast pace and romance. There is a definite nod to Greek Mythology with the Furies. Not for the younger set, typical older crowd things are mentioned, drinking, sex, there might have been some language but it wasn't excessive since I'm not remembering it and I just finished the book today. I suppose I should make better notes. I think it's a winner!

Heather



Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blog Tour The Breeders by Katie French Review and Giveaway

The Breeders by Katie French
Goodreads, Amazon, Lulu
Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches– moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything- the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.


Okay, so I've seen just about everything in dystopians, well, I thought I had. But along comes The Breeders and I see something new and I am so wonderfully surprised by it! Obviously, the name gives away what it's about. The population of women has died down, (we're a precious commodity!) and women are needed to repopulate the world. However, "women" are not the only ones being used. Girls, as soon as they reach puberty are being sold for their fertility. They are being stolen from their homes violently sometimes their families are killed so that no one comes after them. The Breeders have all kinds of rumors about them including horrible experiments they perform on women and that they are like huge insects. I'm not going to tell you what is true and what isn't.

What I will say is that it didn't take me long to get hooked into this story. Riley is a totally believable character, flawed, but with passion and purpose. She has such a certainty of what she wants to do and most likely no plan as to how to do it, but that never stops her. She's a pantser for sure and that's really what I like about her. She's always looking for an opportunity. And family comes first. She's got an adorable little brother, Ethan, and so many times she could just give up if it weren't for him. She calls him an "Old Soul" and really as much as he's seen at his tender age, eight I believe, he is an old soul much wiser than his years.

Clay is a difficult character at first to figure out. Trust is hard to win and I was never quite sure if he was going to turn on Riley. Even after she had to go to the Breeders because of her terrible injuries, I wasn't sure if he collected a fee for turning her in or not. Clay keeps his reasons and feelings closed off to Riley, but she can see that he loves Ethan and actually gets a bit jealous of their relationship.

I didn't get emotionally attached to anyone really, but towards the end of the book I had a "wait, what? No, you can't do that!" moment. I wasn't ready for that to happen. Things were just getting interesting with them. Let's just say Katie French isn't afraid to put her characters in mortal peril or even kill some off. So don't get too comfortable.

The book is truly fascinating. The reason for the decline in the female population is given and the reason for the Breeders Hospital is also clearly given. The leader of the Breeders Hospital will absolutely stun you. And disgust you as well. A revolt is in definite need! Some characters from some other dystopians could really help out here cause most of those who would lead a revolt are barefoot and pregnant, really! No cliffhangers, no love triangles.

Recommended for lovers of dystopians, strong female leads, family relationships, something different!
I believe I would recommend this to a little bit older YA readers. There is talk of sex slaves, hookers, allusions to rape, and talk of sex. I believe there may have been some adult language. Definitely violence. None of it was overdone or overly graphic. I do highly recommend this novel. I am hooked and can't wait for the next in the series!

Thanks to Kismet Book Tours and Katie French for the complimentary copy of the novel for review!


Here is a little information about Katie French.

About Katie French - website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher.

In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English.

Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she’s ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.



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