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Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

30 May

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen
Harlequin (May 29, 2012)
Trade: $9.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210473
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Grays consume souls. If they give in to their hunger, it can kill a weaker human. Stronger humans can survived losing their soul, but they will become infected–they’ll become a gray, too. Being gray changes them, and grays who feed too much, get too greedy, are incredibly dangerous.” (p. 88, e-galley)

Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha—that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me…something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing—and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me….

Dark Kiss is book one in Michelle Rowen’s Nightwatcher series. It is marketed toward kids 14 and older according to the B&N website. The heroine is a teenager whose life was forever changed by a kiss. The hero is an angel and part of a team composed of angels and demons sent to destroy a threat to world, of which the heroine is somehow involved.

I started reading Dark Kiss on April 15, but put it down for several weeks. It’s not that the story was horrid or boring, it just didn’t hold my attention over other books which had recently become available. I needed to write this review so I picked the book back up May 29th and flew through its angst filled pages. My fingers itched to put the book down until I hit chapter 13. Then I didn’t want to stop reading.

Some young adult books that resonate with adults. Michelle Rowen’s Dark Kiss was not one of those books. The heroine was not mature beyond her years nor did she come off as on the cusp of womanhood.  Samantha–the heroine–gets kissed by a guy she’s been crushin’ on for years. It’s a soul stealing kiss that changes her. Now she can do and see things she was never capable of doing before the kiss. What it doesn’t do is make her into a cold, uncaring person ruled by her hunger to kiss others. That ability to ignore or manage the hunger to kiss people makes her different from others who’ve lost their souls.

When Sam meets a young guy and finds out he’s an angel sent to stop the soul suckers she  makes a deal with him. She’ll help him find his teammates who are wandering around town if he helps her get her soul back. It’s a great premise and works quite well. I just kept getting irritated with the heroine’s inability to see what was right before her eyes. Thinking back I know it’s because she is so young. She has no life experience to change her initial reaction to different situations. She takes things at face value when an older woman would (hopefully) know better.

Dark Kiss is a book for younger people than I. I expect several plot lines to be picked up in the second installment, Wicked Kiss, when the book comes out in 2013. I wasn’t impressed with the first half of the book, but the story got much better as the action picked up in the second half. Had the heroine not been “special” she would have died many times. Her naivete makes her an easy target for the many supernatural beings who are all following their own agendas. I don’t think I’ll revisit this series.

 

Review: Make Me by Parker Blue

20 May

Make Me by Parker Blue
Bell Bridge Books (April 20, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $12.95
ISBN: 9781611941203
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Leave me alone,” he said flatly. “Get the hell out of my life.” (p. 210, e-galley)

Val Shapiro has a secret she’s desperate to keep—she’s lost her slayer powers.

As the new guardian of the Encyclopedia Magicka, Val expected the books to give her powers to replace those that disappeared after she lost her “V card” to Shade.  But the encyclopedia exacts a price for every spell, making the job of guardian a tricky proposition.

When a rogue demon kidnaps Val’s roommate Gwen and Micah, leader of the San Antonio Demon Underground, Val is plunged into the middle of a Solomon’s Choice.  The rogue wants the dangerously potent Encyclopedia Magicka in exchange for her friends’ lives; the succubus leader of the Demon Underground in Austin is demanding the books be destroyed rather than let them fall into the wrong hands and wants Shade for herself, swearing to do everything she can to prevent Val’s turning over the books.

The kidnapping isn’t the only crisis Val faces. She’s been betrayed by Fang. Demons and vampires are disappearing.  The vamps of the New Blood Movement are forcing Val to keep the terms of her agreement to work for them to combat this new threat. The Demon Underground is challenging Micah’s leadership, and everyone is depending on a now-powerless Val to set things right.

Val needs all the help she can get. Even if it means forgiving Fang and spending time with a dangerously sexy cowboy-vampire.

Cover art: I hate it. It has an 80’s cover art feel that I don’t find attractive or enticing.

Characters:We are introduced to new characters in the fourth installment of Parker Blue’s Demon Underground series. The characters are a paranormal mixture which includes vampires, hybrids and demons. Some of them are clearly evil others force you to sit the fence and wait to find out if they are on Val’s side. I expect to see many of those characters in the future. I also expect to see less of some key characters from past books as the series proceeds.

Plot: The story is pretty straight forward. Val is keeping her word to the vampires and it takes her out of town. Once there, similar to a P.I., she investigates a mystery that takes her places she never wanted to be. It also forces her to see both the demons and the vampires in a new light. She learns about both and her relationship with Shade is tested in an unexpected way. Some story lines are closed, while new ones begin.

Overall Thoughts: At times part of the story was pretty predictable. Remember that the series is marketed to  young adults and that the heroine is a recently turned 18-year-old so not all of her decisions are well thought out. Don’t read it as a stand alone novel. The author supplies much back story, but it’s not an adequate substitute to reading books one through three. I enjoy Val Shapiro and loved the ending. I want to see where Blue will take Val next and will be reading book five when it is released.

Review: Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

17 May

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kennsington (June 2012)
Trade: $9.95; ebook: $8.99
ISBN: 9780758266965
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “I’m sorry, Gwen. I just–I just can’t do this. Not even for you. Especially not for you.” (p. 161, ARC)

I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.

Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me?

It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can’t use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me—and I’m in for the fight of my life.

Warning: Don’t start the Mythos Academy series with book three, Dark Frost. Each book builds upon the events of the previous book. You cannot skip this book if you’re reading the series. The events are pivotal on many levels.

From the start I fell in love with the heroine (Gwen) of Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series. Shewas deposited in a world she knew nothing about and forced to learn about war. On top of it all she became the goddess Nike’s champion. This means the bad guys have singled Gwen out as a person who needs to be destroyed. If all that weren’t enough, she is going through normal teenage drama. You know falling in lust with the unattainable guy. At the end of the last book, Touch of Frost, it seemed like she just might have managed to get the guy.

As Dark Frost begins, Gwen has yet to speak to her beau, Logan, since the events which took place before Christmas break. That quickly changes and poor Gwen is thrown for a loop when she comes face to face with the girl who murdered her mother. Thus begins the trickery, treachery and violent new journey of the Gypsy girl who can read items just by touching them. Nothing is what it seems in Dark Frost and things appear to happen a bit too easily. But appearances can be deceiving.  By the end of the story Gwen will take the reader through heartaches which come from more than one direction, to self-doubt and self-loathing before ending in a determination to find balance and see her mission through to the end.

Gwen continues to grow as an individual while learning more about her mother and the history of the characters surrounding her. Not only is Gwen growing, but the story takes a huge leap forward with this installment. Back story is filled in and the whole forward field is filled with question marks and possibilities.

If you need help remembering magical information or character biographies, flip to the back of the book and check out the Beyond the Story section. All the major players are listed. There is also a peep at chapter one of book four in the Mythos Academy series.

Crimson Frost, according to Jennifer Estep’s website, is book four and will be released Dec. 24, 2012.

Trylle Series Book Trailer

22 Dec

Review: Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke

4 Nov

Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke
NAL (June 2011)
Trade: $9.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780451233882

Favorite Lines: “The Pyr are all guys–men and their sons–except for me. The story is that there’s only one female dragon at a time, and that she’s the Wyvern and has special powers. Yours truly–I’m supposed to be the Wyvern. The issue with there being only one female dragon shape shifter at a time is that the last one died  before I was born. And it’s not like anyone has her diary. Zero references for me. Zero advice. Zero anything.” (p.5)

The next generation of shape-shifting dragons from the popular author of the Dragonfire novels.

Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal–well, as normal as a girl obsessed with drawing dragons can be. The thing is, she’s always been told she’s special and destined for great things. It’s not just because of her good grades, either. Zoë is the Wyvern of the Pyr–the one female dragon shape shifter with special powers. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr, and her powers are AWOL. Worse, there’s no reference book to consult, and the last Wyvern is dead…

Everything changes when Zoë’s best friend is bullied and Zoë reacts. Before she can blink twice, her inner dragon is loose, and she’s suspended from school and headed to a shape shifter boot camp with guys she’s known all her life. But soon she’s doubting her powers–and even some of her friendships.

Zoë quickly realizes she has to master her powers yesterday–there’s danger ahead and boot camp is a trap. A secretive group, the Mages, wants to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line–unless Zoë and her friends can solve the riddle and work together to save their own kind…

Flying Blind is the young adult spinoff from Deborah Cooke’s paranormal romance Dragonfire series. It follows the next generation of Pyr as they come of age. Book two, Winging It will be released in December 2011 and Blazing the Trail, book three, will be released in June of 2012.

The heroine of the book is Erik and Eileen Sorensson’s daughter. (Their story was told in Kiss of Fate.) She hasn’t had any Wyvern powers since she was about two. Her hope is that with puberty her powers will be restored. Too bad she doesn’t know what that means.

Right from the get go Zoë is consumed with jealousy over the attention her crush (Nick) gives to Rafferty’s adopted daughter. Soon the teens are at each other’s throats while the magical netting made by mages begins to surround them. There’s a mole in the story and it really wasn’t much of a challenge to figure out just who was pulling the strings for the first part. But there are more than one mole. Threats seem to come from every direction in Flying Blind making it a quick, entertaining read.

It’s told in first person from Zoë’s point of view. Zoë is a likeable 15 and 1/2 year old girl who is learning about the world. I wanted her to succeed and mentally cheered as she came into her powers. She will make an awesome Wyvern, but I feel bad for her. To be a teen, have to hide yourself (Hello…no one can know she’s a dragon) while trying to survive in high school is not what I’d call a good time. I was happy that Zoë interacting at school did not occur much on the pages of the book. I think that’ll change in book two.

Fans of the Dragonfire series will be happy to see the older Pyr warriors through the eyes of their children. The story is pure, shapeshifter fun set in the year 2024. You’ll get adolescent insecurities and hormones paired with the responsibilities of being  a younger generation of Pyr. The story lines of the adult Pyr are quickly intertwined with the events taking place in the present. By the final page of the book nagging details are answered and several major milestones in the lives of the Pyr teens are reached. I look forward to reading book two in December.

My Library is Supplementing my Buy List Right Now

3 Nov

which means I was able to save money by borrowing instead of buying books that I most likely wouldn’t keep. I figure if I really enjoy the books I can always buy them. This way I’m reading instead of ignoring a variety of books. So without further ado my super long hold list that should be ready for pick up tomorrow. Happy Reading!



Review: Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff

24 Oct

Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff
NAL (September 2011)
Trade: $9.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780451234629

Favorite Lines: “He gave me a look that I prayed was more kindly uncle and less here’s a live one for me to deflower.” (p. 191)

Is life offering fewer and fewer options? Then join the dead.
When Annelise meets dark and seductive Ronan, he promises her a new life-if she has the courage to chance the unknown. Now, she’s whisked away to a mysterious island and pitted against other female recruits to become a Watcher-girls who are partnered with vampires and assist them in their missions. To survive and become a Watcher, Annelise has to beat out every other girl, but she’s determined to do so, because to fail doesn’t mean dishonor-it means death.

When I heard about Isle of Night at Book Binge, I knew I had to have it. The premise of the book is intriguing and while I’m not someone who visits the YA section of the book store, I’m not quite willing to let a good book pass me by. I wanted it bad enough to buy it right away. It started off interesting enough until I began to know the heroine. I didn’t like her.

She is introduced as an immature, but extremely intelligent girl; she’s a genius. Her decision-making skills aren’t the best. She makes poor choice after poor choice and never lets the possible consequences affect her decision-making process. Maybe it’s par for a young adult novel, but I found it to be distracting. Added to that immaturity is the heroine’s need to give silly nicknames. For example, her father is Daddy Dearest, her arch-enemy is von Slutling and a random guy is Mr. Harvard Premed.

For the most part, the idea behind the plot is pretty awesome. Girls on the verge of womanhood battle for the right to live as vampire caretakers. They learn all types of things, but the key is to survive. The school doesn’t encourage friendships, as you never know when you’ll be battling killing your friends. I was good with all that. I didn’t love the mean girls which filled the pages. It was Annelise and another girl against a school full of beautiful, fit Barbies out to get them. I just couldn’t connect to the world, especially when I didn’t particularly care for the genius heroine who kept making ignorant decisions.

Neither was I thrilled with the love triangle. First of all, love with a person who deceives you is never high on my love plots list. Love with a man who may kill you if you misspeak…not high either. Especially in a world where you will never be equal. In Veronica Wolff’s world woman can NOT become vampires.

You will not be vampires,” he assured us. “Never that. To be Vampire is a man’s destiny. But we cannot survive without you, my fair ones. You see, only you have the opportunity to be a part of an elite group. A group that ensures the survival of the coven. This group is known as the Watchers. And to be Watcher is a woman’s fortune.”

I just wish authors would get over the stupid love triangle BS. It’s been over done.

My biggest peeve with the book has nothing to do with the story or the writing. I always get a little testy when I pay the full price for an ebook. I hate paying $10 for an ebook, especially when the paper version is also priced at $10. If I do spend that amount of money I expect for there to be no issues with my electronic version. Unfortunately, the copy I received had a stupid error that irked me. What? Well, the first paragraph in chapter 12 has two of the same sentences. Mine says:

The Initiates had led me to the ground-floor foyer, where I stood, stripped led me to the ground-floor foyer, where I stood, stripped to my underwear.

I read that crap about 5 times before I realized that I wasn’t crazy and my eyes weren’t skipping lines. I’m even more irritated that the error isn’t in the paper edition, only the ebook. WTF? If anything, I’d expect it to be the other way around since fixing an ebook is simpler than recalling thousands of books, which just wouldn’t happen.

Anyway, I read the entire book. I think it got better as it progressed. I’m even interested in reading the next book in the series. Why after this predominately negative review would I do that? Because I want to know where the author is taking the heroine with one of the possible love triangle guys. I know, I’m punishing myself, but I’ve got to know what happens when a girl hooks up with a guy whom she can never be on equal footing with.

Book two, Vampire’s Kiss will be released in March 2012 and the third book, Blood Fever, will be released in August 2012. I’m not sure what’s going on because it sounds like a third “hot” guy is added to the menu.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE PARTNERED WITH A VAMPIRE, YOU HAVE TO WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT.

By her wits, blood, and sacrifice, so far Drew has survived the intensive training on the Isle of Night. As a second-year Acari, her ultimate goal is to become a Watcher, and now she has a shot at her first mission. Except nothing is as it seems. The vampire Alcántara is as sinister as he is sexy, Ronan is more distant than ever, and it turns out there are other vampires out there. Bad ones.

Ancient, bloodthirsty, and powerful, these undead are really old school. They’ve captured one of the Watcher vamps and are torturing him for information. The only chance to save him is to infiltrate a major summit the baddies are holding on their own island. There will be mortals there, serving as butlers, maids, and various hired help. Drew had better brush up on her skills as a serving girl, because she’s about to go undercover…

But, when their vampire prisoner turns out to be a gorgeous bad boy, Drew’s first mission quickly turns into more than she bargained for…–Veronica Wolff’s website; description of book two.

Book Trailer & Giveaway: Hades by Alexandra Adornetto

30 Aug

The giveaway is closed. Thanks for entering.

Enter the giveaway for a chance at winning Alexandra Adornetto’s Hades. Tara at Zeitghost Media will provide a copy of Hades, book two in Adornetto’s Halo series, for the giveaway. It was released for sale today. To be eligible, you must have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address. I will select a winner with the help of a random number generator at noon on September 7, 2011; Zeitghost will mail the book to the winner. To enter, tell me if you believe in angels or tell me about your angelic experience.

Book Trailer & Giveaway: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

19 Aug

Giveaway is now closed! Thanks for entering.

Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.

Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.

Want to win the first book in Alexander Gordon Smith‘s Escape from Furnace series? Zeitghost Media has allowed me to host a giveaway of Lockdown in honor of book three in the series, which was released earlier this month. To be eligible, you must have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address. I will select a winner with the help of a random number generator at noon on August 27; Zeitghost will mail the book to the winner. To enter, leave a comment telling me if you would expose Furnace or keep running after successfully escaping.

Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

9 Aug

An incomplete post was published this morning. This is the full post. Sorry about any confusion.

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kensington (July 2011)
Trade: $9.95; ebook: $9.95
ISBN: 9780758266927

Favorite Lines: “I stood there, feeling like my heart had just been broken without it ever having really been  offered up for sacrifice in the first place.” (Can’t tell you the page without spoiling the story.)

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody’s head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I’m determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

Jennifer Estep‘s newest young adult series, Mythos Academy, was released in July 2011. The first book, Touch of Frost, introduces us to Gwen Frost and the Mythos Academy. Her mother recently died and she’s been enrolled in Mythos Academy for two lonely months before finding a dead body.

There is so much going on in Touch of Frost that I hardly know where to start. Gwen is a likeable loner with the ability of psychometry. She can touch an object and know, see and feel its history. She keeps her power secret, but uses it to make money finding lost objects for classmates. Speaking of which, her classmates appear to be fickle people. They’re the rich offspring of the gods: Spartan, Viking, Valkyrie and Amazon. They’re also stuck up, rich kids who want nothing to do with Gwen.

Gwen does manage to make a friend though. I think Daphne will be a life long friend to Gwen. Gwen brought light to the way Daphne lived. She showed Daphne things Daphne didn’t want to see, things Daphne blinded herself to. By the end of the book Daphne was a character I wouldn’t mind having as a friend.

The secrets at Mythos Academy are numerous. They surround Gwen and are a deeper part of Gwen than she realizes. Everyone is at Mythos Academy for a reason even Gwen; that reason became clear as the story unfolded. One of my favorite parts of the book is the growing attraction between Gwen and Logan the Spartan. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

I had a good time reading Touch of Frost. It didn’t take me long to read and when I was finished I was itching to get my hands on the next book in the series. Unfortunately, book two, Kiss of Frost, won’t be released until December 2011. (Psst. There’s another short story in the series called First Frost available; it’s on sale for 99¢)