Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Wanderlust by Kitty French

Title: Wanderlust
Author: Kitty French
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Genre: Romance
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Summary: Ruby has been in love with Ford since their university days, but she hasn't seen her former best friend in years--not since the one unforgettable kiss they shared right before he went off globe-trotting and she stayed behind. When he returns to town unexpectedly for their friends' New Year's Eve wedding, the sparks between them ignite, but can her wanderer ever settle down?
Ford has never forgotten Ruby, or the kiss that changed everything between them, despite the many women he has tried to erase her with. His return to England for the wedding means a second chance with Ruby--but will one passion-filled evening with her be enough, or has he finally found his home?

Review:   What a sweet, spicy little treat just in time for the holidays!

One of the things I love about reading is that it comes in all forms. Long tomes, series, poems, sassy books, plays... There's something for every mood, and sometimes you just have that desire to curl up in a chair with something sweet and sexy, especially when the holidays roll around.

Wanderlust is definitely the latter, and I quite enjoyed it. It's exactly what it says it is: a fun little holiday story. Ruby and Ford have been best friends for years - or they were, until they kissed the night before he was to leave to travel, changing things forever between them. Neither of them have ever really been able to forget each other, but will their differences keep them apart?

Incorporating Ruby's plans for her friend's wedding, Wanderlust has heart and suits the holiday spirit, no matter if you are religious or not. I mean, who can turn down a snowed in hotel and tension that sizzles? The romance and sex in this book is sweet and easy, and well done for a story that's introducing a couple with an already established relationship between them. You never doubt the intimacy between them!

The one thing that might be said to be missing in the story is a bit more depth, but considering the length and what it's designed to do I am willing to excuse that.

Definitely a good choice for a night curled up with a cup of hot chocolate or when you're snuggled in bed and want something to read :)

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo & Netgalley November!

So, next month should be interesting... It's both NaNoWriMo and Netgalley November!

So, what is Netgalley November? Well, as anyone who uses Netgalley can attest to, the site can be a bit addicting! New releases pop up, others sit on the 'Read Now' shelves, and before you know it you've requested a bunch...

Now the problem is reading and reviewing all of those books! With the new ratio that Netgalley now lists that shows just how many books you're actually giving feedback on, many bloggers are understandably trying to do their best to bring their ratio up.

Personally, mine has come up a bit over the last few weeks since I've been working on it, but it's nowhere near target... Right now it's sitting at about 48%! That just won't do. So I'll definitely be looking to bring that up over the month of November.

The only thing is, that could possibly clash with NaNoWriMo...

NaNoWriMo is a short form for 'National Novel Writing Month', something that I have been attempting since, oh, about 2005 or so. The goal? 50 000 words by the end of the month, and writers across the world join together to do it!

Have I been successful in the past? No. Still, I am not going to let that stop me! I've come to realise something important recently... I thought that I had lost the desire to write, but no, what had happened was that I had stopped reading. The two are incredibly linked together, imo. Reading and writing have always been a part of my life, so when I took out one it meant that the other one decreased in importance in my brain as well.

So it'll be interesting to see how I handle these over the next few weeks... Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin

Title: Matzoh and Mistletoe
Author: Jodie Griffin
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 21st, 2013
Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Romance
Rating: Three out of Five Stars


Every December twenty-fifth, Rebeccah Rickman volunteers through her synagogue so that others can celebrate Christmas. Her usual mitzvah, or good deed, is assisting police officer Jeremy Kohler. But this year is different: this year, Becca is free to act on the attraction that has long simmered between her and the sexy cop.

Jeremy couldn’t have asked for a better gift than discovering the woman he’s fantasized about for five long years is single. But when he learns about the violence that broke up Becca’s marriage, he’s hesitant to pursue her. He fears his desires will scare her away—but can’t deny his own need for control in the bedroom. Or his longing to instruct her in the fine art of submission…

Becca is shocked to learn that Jeremy is a sexual dominant. And despite her past, she’s also aroused. But before she can explore what that means, she’s going to have to put her trust in Jeremy—and her own fledgling desires.


It’s no secret that with the introduction of Fifty Shades of Grey and other series, BDSM has moved closer to the forefront of the romance industry, attracting devoted readers of all ages. Sexy and intriguing, personally, I can see why people are so fascinated with this genre.

Matzoh and Mistletoe brings to us the store of Becca, a sweet Jewish woman who has recently divorced her abusive husband, and Jeremy, a cop with a secret dominant side. The two of them have always had sparks, but now that Becca is single again, they are free to finally explore the tension that exists between them.

The sexual tension between the two characters is well developed in the book, and we are given insights into how both of the characters feel, as well. Griffin writes from both perspectives, giving us an idea of how they both feel about the relationship between them, something I appreciated when it comes to the topic of BDSM.

There were a few areas that needed improvement, however. BDSM is a tricky, tricky subject, and I do give Griffin credit - she’s obviously done research into the lifestyle and it is much, much better than some BDSM out there. That said, I still felt as though it was far too rushed, especially considering Sam’s history. The book is rather short, coming in at around 183 pages, and it would have been nice to see more time spent slowly developing the relationship, the trust and the submission. It’s hard to build up a submissive relationship in a story, but it’s essential because it’s such a deep level of trust.

The lack of exploration of Becca’s recovery from divorcing her husband was another problematic matter for me, especially as it relates to BDSM. The story could have used some more exploration of her emotions and feelings - the attempt is definitely made, but it could have used more.

A quick and easy read, I can easily see this story appealing to those who just want a bit of sexy erotica to pass the time, especially with Christmas just a couple of months away. Those who are familiar with the BDSM lifestyle or who have had any experience with domestic violence may find the book lacking, however.

Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: I'll Be Home For Christmas by Jessica Scott

Title: I'll Be Home For Christmas
Author: Jessica Scott
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Genre: Romance
Rating: Three of Five Stars

Summary: There's nothing in the world Army Sergeant Vic Carponti loves more than his wife and his country. Smart-mouthed and easy tempered, he takes everything as a joke . . . except his promise to come home to his wife, Nicole, for Christmas. As he prepares to leave for his latest deployment into Iraq, Vic will do everything he can to shield his beautiful, supportive wife from the realities of war . . . and from his own darkest fears.

As a career army wife, Nicole Carponti knows just what to expect from her husband's tour of duty: loneliness, relentless worry, and a seemingly endless countdown until the moment Vic walks through the door again. But when the unthinkable happens, Nicole and Vic's bond is tested like never before and changes everything they believe to be true about the power of love and the simple beauty of being home for the holidays.

Review: When I was finishing highschool, one of my best friends was dating someone in the military. Although I live in Canada and that means that most Canadian officers are serving as peacekeepers, I still found it hard to contemplate being in that sort of relationship. Loving someone who goes overseas to fight... Hard to cope with!

This book explores exactly that idea, with Vic Carponti being sent overseas on deployment. He's been deployed before, but that doesn't mean that this time is any easier, especially considering that the fighting is even deadlier than before.

The story examines the tension that develops when someone you love is overseas and under tension - as the POV goes from Nicole to her husband and back again, we see their innermost thoughts and fears, and the way each reacts to the other as their emotions are stretched to the breaking point. Vic immerses himself in humour to try and get through the roughest of situations, something that comes up frequently throughout the book. Meanwhile, Nicole does her best to stand up to the pressure of missing her husband and yet wanting to be a support system for him.

Ultimately, the two of them are put under even more strain as the story takes a sudden turn, and there's no doubt that any reader will find themselves pulling for the couple, especially considering the subject matter and the season.

My main caveat about the book is the writing. Although the story is compelling, it could have used a lot of smoothing and editing - it comes across very disjointed at times, almost stilted. A lot of short sentences are used, making it hard to fall as deeply into the story as would have been possible, and the plot climax was also not as fleshed out as it could be. The latter could be attributed to the fact that this is a novella, but the writing could really have been looked at.

Overall, however, a sweet little story that is a nice, light read for the season.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: Two out of Five Stars

Summary:  What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent


Let's just establish one thing right away here - I adored the first two books in this series. I felt that Divergent and Insurgent were well written entries into the dystopian, young adult genre, and I liked the plot elements that Veronica Roth explored, the idea of dividing society into segments based on their skills and weaknesses. So I was really looking forward to Allegiant and what it would do to conclude the series. 

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Allegiant just felt as though a lot of the magic and the drive that fueled the first two books was gone - my attention wasn't grabbed by this book the way it was in the others, I wasn't glued to the page, barely able to put it down. Instead I found myself skimming, wanting to get to the more interesting bits.

I don't consider this a spoiler, as it was announced well ahead of time and does not reveal anything about the plot - the POV in this book shifts back and forth between Tris and Tobias. When I heard this, I thought GREAT! It is always interesting to get into someone else's head! I always wished that there was a chance to do that in the Harry Potter series - that's one of the reason I love fanfic so much, it gets into things that the author doesn't touch on. 

Unfortunately, I didn't find the switch-up in the POVs to be particularly interesting, which is surprising. In fact I actually thought that it detracted from the book a bit, because Tobias' POV wasn't distinct enough from Tris. There were quite a few times in reading this book that I was surprised to realise I was reading Tris rather than Tobias, and vice versa. Worst of all, he didn't sound like the Tobias I had seen through Tris' eyes, and while there is always some disconnect between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us, I didn't find this as close as it should have been.

'What should have been' brings me to my last point about the book. Sadly, what could have been an incredibly fascinating journey into areas of this world that we haven't yet explored turned into a somewhat meandering story instead, with a lot of questions left unanswered. It's sad because the elements of a spine tingling, fascinating conclusion are in there, but they are fuzzy and jumbled and just not articulated well.

Roth makes more than one decision that will be controversial, something I am not going to get into here, for the sake of spoilers. Ultimately I disagreed with several of her choices and did not close the book feeling satisfied in the journey or that all my questions were answered. As much as I hate to do this, I feel the book deserves the two star rating because it did not live up to its potential or my expectations.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Jagged by Kristen Ashley

Title: Jagged
Author: Kristen Ashley
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Genre: Romance
Rating: Three of Five Stars
Summary: An old flame rekindled . . .

Zara Cinders always knew Ham Reece was the one, but he wasn't interested in settling down. When she found someone who was, Ham walked out of her life. Three years later, Zara's lost her business, her marriage, and she's barely getting by in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of the tracks. As soon as Ham hears about Zara's plight, he's on her doorstep offering her a lifeline. Now, it will take every ounce of will power she possesses to resist all that he offers.

Ham was always a traveling man, never one to settle down in one town, with one woman, for more time than absolutely necessary. But Ham's faced his own demons, and he's learned a lot. About himself, and about the life he knows he's meant to live. So when he hears that Zara's having a rough time, he wants to be the one to help. In fact, he wants to do more than that for Zara. A lot more. But first, he must prove to Zara that he's a changed man.
Review: As I've said in other reviews, it takes a certain something to have romance be believable, something that you invest in.
This is one of those books where I feel that there was a certain something missing, even though the characters and the overall plot were interesting. All the really good romance novels that I've read over the years have had depth and meaning, and I felt a bit as though that was lacking, in this book.

We come into the story already knowing that the Zara is in love with Reece. Now, this isn't something that's a problem - as long as it's executed properly - but I felt that there was just something that was a bit lacking, here. Throughout the story I felt a bit as though I was being - how can I put it - perhaps being told that Reece is in love with Zara, rather than seeing it.
Though even there, that's not quite putting my finger on it, because there are various things that Reece does for Zara throughout the novel that definitely show that he cares about her. It just felt a bit like the heart was missing, the true emotional depth that would convince me that Reece had truly fallen head over heels.
There was a lot going on in this book for the length of time that was covered, and there were a lot of jumps forward - I do wonder if the book would have benefited from a bit more time spent on those moments, on the times inbetween. Stuff happens off the page and we don't get emotionally invested in it. It's a bit like a movie on a slow fast forward.
I loved Reece as a character, and Zara too - she's a strong, beer drinking woman, and I enjoy seeing something like that. She's been through hell and so has he, so I had every reason to root for them - especially considering that the sex is smokin' hot. All over, though, it just felt like the book was lacking that little bit of magic that would have slid it from being an okay read to being a really good one.

Disclosure: I received an ARC through Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: All Fired Up by Kate Meader

Title: All Fired Up (Love In The Kitchen #2)
Author: Kate Meader
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance,
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Summary: Her sweetest mistake . . .

Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control . . . until she meets the one temptation she can't resist: Shane Doyle. The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas - her new husband. While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom. How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?

. . . Tastes so, so good

Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn't know he exists. Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn't part of the plan, but melting Cara's icy exterior is so worth the detour. Now as the annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves . . . the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.

Review: What do you get when you combine a hot, sexy Irish man with a cold, reserved events planner?

Sparks and tension, that's what!

I really enjoyed this book. It's hot, well paced, and it's got heart to it as well, which I appreciate.

I've read a lot of romance novels over the years, I'll be honest - they're easy, they're sweet and sexy. But not every romance novel does it for me, simply because you can't just throw two characters together, make them lust for each other, have them screw and then kapow, instant successful romance story!

A good romance has more than that. It'll have the tension and the sparks, the heated looks and longing - but it'll also have real tension and show that the characters have real worries and vulnerabilities, things that make them tick. It'll show things that might make one character a bit of an ass, and the other one a bit mean, and that's what makes it all coalesce together.

All Fired Up has all of this. Cara is our reserved heroine, running from a slip of her control, battling her demons and trying to hold temptation at bay. Shane is our sexy cowboy, gorgeous, Irish - and with a history of his own, and a weakness for Cara.

Put it all together and you have a story that was engaging and made me care about the main couple. Learning about Shane and Cara throughout the book, I came to understand and empathise with both of them - at times I wanted to shake them, but I still knew why and how they were making their decisions.

The sex is damn hot, too! (Had to mention that, right?) There are some moments where the dialogue made me roll my eyes, which is why I'm not giving it the full five stars, but it wasn't enough to seriously detract from the story.

Definitely a good read for romance lovers. I should note that this book is the second in a series, but as is so common with romance novels, you don't have to read one to understand the other, as far as I can tell - though I'll be picking up the first to check it out, too!

Disclosure: An ARC was provided through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Review: Addicted To You, by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Title: Addicted To You
Authors: Krista and Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary Romance
Rating: Three of Five Stars

Summary: She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other. 

Review: This book was a bit different than what I had expected - I thought there would be much more focus on the romance than there turned out to be. This book does focus on the relationship between Loren and Lily, but there's a lot more going on here. 

You might think that the title and the little quote that's on the cover are just a throwaway, a cover up for the romance - but they're definitely not that. This book delves into the realities of addiction for both Lo and Lily, exploring the dark sides of being addicted to sex and being addicted to alcohol. 

The way the two characters are twined together is believable, too - they're best friends who have spent most of their lives trying to hold each other together, but eventually that all has to start falling apart. The subject matter in this book is definitely not light - it doesn't hold back from the dangers that are out there for people who are addicted to sex and alcohol, so people should keep that in mind.

I won't lie - at first it was hard for me to get into Lily's head. She's wealthy, privileged, and doesn't always treat Lo very nicely. Throughout the book I got the impression that Lo is much more willing to try and help her than she is to help him. Still, she's very real and multi-faceted, and so was Lo - that was what kept me turning the page, including her relationship with her flawed but caring family. 
Overall, a pretty good self published debut from these authors, I think we'll be seeing a lot more from them. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC through Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

The Room Beyond free on Amazon!

Hey book lovers!!

So after reading and reviewing The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas the other day, I'm excited to tell you that it's free on Amazon today!

You can check it out here and I definitely encourage you to do so... It's a great book, and this is a good way to support a new author, too. It's a haunted, twisting tale and I really enjoyed it, so I hope people check it out!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dwindling competition...

Now that Borders in the US has gone out of business, that leaves only one main chain to fill the gap, and that's Barnes & Noble. Now some people might not see anything wrong with that, right? There's still one big chain that can get people's books out there, a place where people can go and look at physical books and browse to their heart's content.

The trouble is - who's there to fill the gap if that big retailer decides not to carry your books? A decision made by one person, for all the stores across the entire country.

That's the situation that I read about this morning when I came upon a link to Mindy Klasky's post - one she literally calls "A post I didn't want to write".

If you click through you can read her story and see the situation that she finds herself in.

I'm sure that some people will think that this isn't a big deal - after all, Amazon still exists, right, and other retailers? Well, the answer is yes and no.

First of all, as a reader, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many books I've discovered on Amazon. The site is very good at showing me books that are selling well and things 'related' to things that I've bought previously, but does it introduce me to new authors? Not really. There's a very different experience when you walk into a library and see the shelves of physical books, when you're able to pick them up and leaf through them and see the covers and the summary...

The closest I've come to this experience is Goodreads, but though the site is very popular, most people aren't aware of it. So their experience when they go to buy books is going to be very limited - they are likely either going to buy it because the site is promoting it to them, or because someone else recommended. That's a very limited scope in comparison to coming across a book on a shelf and picking it up that way.

This is the issue I have with the world we're slowly moving towards, and why I think that self publishing is so important and valuable.

Anyway, I just wanted to spread the word, so hopefully Mindy will get some more support and have better success going forward.

Review: Mine To Hold by Cynthia Eden

Title: Mine To Hold
Author: Cynthia Eden
Publication Date: October 21st, 2013
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Summary: She was one man’s obsession…

Nine years ago, Claire Kramer’s lover brutally killed her family, and he tried to kill her. She escaped, but she’s been haunted ever since that attack. Too afraid to trust another man and too worried that her past will catch up with her, Claire never gets too close to anyone. But then she meets Noah York.

He must have her.

Noah York is a man with secrets. The world sees him as a billionaire hotel tycoon, but Noah has a dark and dangerous side. For years, he worked covert military operations before he built his fortune. When it comes to death, Noah is a master. He knows that he should steer clear of Claire, but the white-hot attraction Noah feels for the delicate beauty is instant—and consuming.

He will never let her go.

Someone else is just as consumed by Claire—someone who will kill to possess her. And if Noah can’t stop the hunter in the darkness, he may just lose the one woman that he can’t live without.

Review: I should note that this book is listed as part three of a series, but I didn't find anything missing that I needed to know ahead of time. It looks like it's one of those cases where romance stories are linked together, but not necessarily integral to each other. 

 I've been trying to read a little bit more romance recently, so when I saw Mine to Hold available on Netgalley, I just had to request it. The book tells the story of Claire - a woman who has endured far too much tragedy and fear in her life - and Noah, the businessman who's used to getting whatever he wants... And what he wants is Claire.

There's more than just the two of them and their romance, though, because danger is involved in this story too. Claire's already lost most of her family to tragedy, but now people are getting hurt again, and the two of them are at the centre of it. They need to find out who is after them, before that person finds them first.
The story interweaves the passion that sparks between Noah and Claire along with the mystery of just who is putting them in danger, and why. I did have my guesses as to what was going on, but there are enough surprises mixed in to keep things going, and a sense of real danger, too.

The romance was where things fell apart for me, just a little bit. Now, don't get me wrong, the sex is hot - the two of them obviously have chemistry, and that was just pure fun to read. It just felt as though things developed a bit too quickly for my tastes, in terms of where Claire starts off at the beginning and how quickly things move along. Of course, this is a book that's very much focused on the passion and the thrills, but I like that mixed in with just a little bit more reality, I guess you could say!

Throughout the course of the book Noah and Claire do learn about each other, though, which was something I liked to see. Lust without depth won't last, but the two of them have gotten to know each other - they've both had their vulnerable moments.

I would recommend this for anyone who likes their steamy sex mixed with a thrilling ride - there's still a lot to like here! I have a feeling Noah will be popular among a lot of readers.

Disclosure: I received this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas

Title: The Room Beyond
Author: Stephanie Elmas
Publisher: Banstead House Publishing
Publication Date: September 29th, 2013
Genre: Horror, Romance, Thriller
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Summary: When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?

Review: This is a book that is fully capable of sucking you in from the moment you read the first page and start to learn about the characters. We start off with Serena, a young artist who takes on a job as a nanny to support herself, and learn about the eccentric family that she's working with - and the enigmatic Sebastian, who draws her attention from the start.

Then the story leaps back in time, to the 1800's - to Miranda, the young, meek and unassuming new bride of Tristan  and Lucinda, two women who revolve around one man, Tristan Whitehouse. We also meet Lucinda - the beautiful, captivating neighbour who Miranda is sure she has to keep away from her husband.

If it sounds like the start of a typical romance, don't be fooled - there is much, much more to this book, and it's truly fascinating and dark, touching on a hint of horror and supernatural throughout the course of the book. The tone builds up steadily throughout the reading, as the reader starts to learn about the stain that taints both worlds - a touch of madness, all circling around a house that seemingly doesn't exist.

The writing throughout is incredibly descriptive, truly a delight to read - how can you not be delighted, with phrases like this?

"Outside thunder clouds had moved in, tinged blue and black like bruises punched into the sky." 

This sort of description is sprinkled liberally throughout, but not so much that I found it purple-prosey, or too much - it just adds to the feeling of the book, lush and dark.

Miranda's character turns out to be one of the most compelling, much to my surprise - and it's all due to her growth throughout the book - she changes from simply being quiet and nervous to taking charge as her relationship with Tristan pulls her down a dark and twisted rabbit hole. What I expected of her character at the beginning of the book was a far cry from what actually happened by the end - she truly comes into her strength, doing what she has to in order to survive. 

Serena's story, on the other hand, is one of love and loss and ultimately, escape - and it leaves you wondering about the others in the book, and their fate. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but in a satisfying way, when a book disturbs you and makes you want to learn more.

Lucinda's story is by far the darkest of the three - I won't say much, here, other than to say that there were a couple of scenes that I reread, just to make sure that I wasn't misinterpreting, and that what was happening to her was exactly how I read it.

Altogether, this is a dark and haunting thriller that I really enjoyed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publication: Dutton Books
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Summary: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Review: What to say about this book.  It's probably more of a 3.5 than a three, first of all.

First I will be completely honest: I resisted reading this book. When the internet started going nuts about it and I got the gist of what it was about, I kind of wrinkled my nose and had no interest in reading it. 

I guess it was partly the summary, and my lack of desire for depressing books at the time - I mean, when you read a book about kids with cancer you have to know what you're getting into, right? There are only so many places a plot like that can go. 

Reading this, I feel surprisingly neutral about it. The writing in terms of characterization is good, there's no doubting that. In particular Augustus charmed me just as fast as he charmed Hazel. That's what happens when I read a book that's first person, I find - although I'm in someone's head, I feel more connected to who *they* feel connected to than to the main character themselves. 

There's a lyrical sense to some parts of the book, which I quite enjoyed. The problem is that for everything I read that was lyrical and moving, there were other bits that struck me as pretentious and... Well, I'm going to go with hipster, for lack of a better description. At times the kids didn't not sound like any teenagers I can imagine, and I have taken into account the fact that they have cancer. 

I won't deny that my eyes welled up a couple of times during this book. So why am I dissatisfied? I guess I am just left with a vague feeling of having read a book that is slightly manipulative, and falls into the tropes that are quite common when dealing with stories (whether in movies or books) about people who have cancer. It's one of those things where I wonder whether the charm of Augustus' character and the nature of the story arc are what carry the book in spite of the slightly unbelievable prose and pretentious flair.

At any rate, at least now I can say that I've read it, lest anyone try to tell me I can't criticize it without reading!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 10th, 2013
Genre: Ya, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: Four of Five Stars

Summary: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review: Oh my god, this book.

I feel like I have been scooped up and shaken around and thrown back to 2001, when I was just getting into the Harry Potter fandom, and my life revolved around reading fic and everything fandom. I mainlined this book in about three hours because I just couldn't put it down.

Have you ever read a book that made you feel like parts of you had been taken and described and then put down for everyone to read? That's what this book felt like, to me. It's a book that made me wonder how someone else could peer inside my head like that, a book that made my stomach flutter, that made me actually physically laugh and smile... (Does anyone else have that, those books that make you smile in your head, and then there are the books that actually make you smile?)

I loved the characters in this book, and I loved the journey we go on with them, too. I especially empathised with Cath's journey throughout the book - seeing myself in her nervous ticks and social anxieties, I was rooting for her. Wanting her to be happy, wanting her to succeded. Wanting her to see her potential and open herself up to more.

Levi dragged me in almost the instant he stepped onto the page, and he won me over again several times over throughout the book. He won me over when he sleepily kissed her, even though part of me was going AHHH what are you doing?! He won me over when he was obviously convinced that he'd fucked it all up, and then he won me over again when he kept telling Cath over and over that he liked her, and when he was so willing to wait. This is a guy who not only doesn't mind waiting for sex, he doesn't mind waiting for just simple touching!

Their relationship was pure fun to read - it wasn't perfect, it was awkward, and uncertain and developed slowly throughout the course of the book. Nothing felt like instant lust, or just based on hormones, and that's what made it so much more satisfying to read. Sometimes instant lust is fun, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I want that slow burn, that lazy development that drags you in and doesn't let go.

It's just... It's one of those books that made me feel, and gives you that sense of having been told something with meaning when you reach the final page. Wren and Cath - together they've learned something, and we've seen Wren's journey without being right in her head. Cath's grown, and a page in her life closes with the end of Simon, but it's true...

"It's never over... It's Harry Potter Simon."

(On a side note, some of the 'fanfic' bits scattered throughout are freaking hilarious, especially if you're at all familiar with or basically any fanfiction at all.)

Of course, not everyone will feel the same way that I do. I'm old in fandom years, haha! The fact that I was around in 2001 makes me kind of ancient. But I'd still recommend this book for anyone who's ever been a fan. Whether you have that gut punch of personal identification with the book or not, it's still a gorgeous, funny book that's worth the time.

Review: The Rising by Terra Harmony

Title: The Rising
Author: Terra Harmony
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Publication Date: November 7th, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. The increasing acidity of the ocean is destroying her home, slowly eating away at the once thriving underwater landscape. But since the night of Serena’s birth, it is an outside force that most threatens their dwindling population. Werewolves, who once served as protectors for mermaids in the Kingdom of the Undine, now seek to eliminate all who dwell in the ocean — and Serena is about to find herself right in the middle of the deadly conflict.

Given the title of Werewolf Liaison, Serena is determined to make things right for her people. When she ventures to The Dry, she meets Liam, the werewolf with hazel eyes, and her whole world gets turned upside down. As Serena discovers the real history between werewolves and mermaids, she is left wondering who her true enemies are.

Review: Who doesn't love mermaid stories? My first exposure to mermaids came when I was just a child - I went to a friend's birthday party, and we watched The Little Mermaid. It's classic Disney, but since then I've always carried a bit of a fascination for mermaids and sea-lore in general.

That's probably why I sent a request as soon as I saw the cover of The Rising on Netgalley - the cover is beautiful and almost hypnotic, in my opinion - the mermaid with her head thrown back, hair flowing in the water, the moon hanging overhead... Then there's the fact that it said right in the summary that werewolves were involved, and I was hooked.

The first thing that I will say about this book is that if you struggle with the present tense, you might have some issues with this book. It's not quite Hunger Games-eque, because we're not in Serena's head - we're still removed from her, and that means that you might find yourself a bit out of your comfort zone with this. It took me awhile to adapt to it and I'm still not sure that it was quite right for the book, coming across with a slightly amateurish touch as I was reading.

Terra Harmony immediately takes us into an interesting world, though. Serena is an orphan, and her world is under threat - from the werewolves, from the dying seas around them. I especially liked the second inclusion because it's all too true - the environment is important to me, and I liked the inclusion of the fact that the creatures in the oceans are facing real danger. I especially liked the descriptions of how Serena changes back and forth - it makes sense and throughout the book some interesting questions about how mermaids procreate are answered, too - though not with too much detail.

The trouble I mostly found with this book was that the plot meandered a bit. Characters are opposed to Serena but she doesn't have a clue and neither do we, as readers - this drags on for quite a bit of the book, and when the reason was revealed I honestly wasn't expecting it. I suppose I should have been, thinking back on it, but I didn't really find it all that satisfying, either - in the overall theme of the story, the big plot reveal is something that just makes sense when you look at general tropes of fiction and fantasy.

The book also has a very 'young' feeling to it, I guess. It's YA but it feels like young-YA with the names and some of the writing, which is very choppy at times. I felt that it could have done with some better editing, for example:

"Just as she finishes with the last strap, Murphy and Kai dive into the receding tide. Their legs transforming into fins before they even hit water."

This happens more than once throughout the book and it threw me out of the flow every time, because it's just very disjointed and doesn't make any sense.

Some of the concepts also forced me to really stretch my willingness to set aside my disbelief, which was unfortunate, because some of the ideas really worked for me! The idea of the powers that mermaids have, and how they live, the society they've built - all great, and I enjoyed reading about them. Then you bring in their connection to the werewolves and it just really tried my patience. I'm still not even sure what I think of the end of the book and how it fits with the tone of the rest of the story - not so much what's happening, but how it was conveyed. It's a bit dark in comparison to the writing that fills the rest of the book.

Overall I would say that the book was... okay, I guess. I neither loved it or hated it. I do wish that Serena's story had gone in a different direction - the direction I thought it WAS going at first would have been fascinating, but it definitely did not go that way. Still, a worthwhile try for those who love mermaids and want more mermaid fiction.

Disclosure: Arc received through Netgalley in return for an honest review.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Hard to Handle by Jessica Lemmon

Title: Hard To Handle 
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Genre: Romance
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Summary: ONCE BURNED Sadie Howard never dates a guy more than once-but Fate has other plans for her when it comes to Aiden Downey, the one that got away. Aiden loved her, left her, and broke her heart. Yet suddenly she's bumping into him at every turn, driven to distraction by his wicked grin and rock-hard body. Now she can't resist finishing what they started-as long as she doesn't let herself fall in love . . . 

TWICE AS TEMPTING Aiden Downey threw away the best thing he ever had when he let Sadie go, and now he's determined to win back the woman he's always wanted. Sadie agrees to let him into her life-and her bed-as long as there are no strings attached. But Aiden's not about to make the same mistake again. Can he convince her to take a second chance on a once-in-a-lifetime love?

Review: I've had bad luck with romance as I've gotten older. When I was younger just about any romance did it for me, but that changed as I started wanting more of a plot, more depth than just 'brooding dark hero' and 'hard to get heroine', etc. Of course any genre is filled with tropes, but they have to be well written to be enjoyable and there's a lot of romance out there that just didn't do it for me.

So I went into Hard to Handle hoping that I'd find that changing, and I wasn't disappointed! This is a story that draws two people who are hurting back together, and ultimately it's a story about how sometimes life gives you a second chance.. Getting hurt doesn't mean that it's over.

Both main characters drew me in right away. Oh, there are the usual descriptions of how the other turns them on, but the book goes way beyond that, really helping you understand what makes them tick. I empathised with Sadie (and liked the note that both men *and* women would turn their heads for her!) and Aiden just about hit every button I had, I must admit! Let's see, we have a gorgeous man who rides a motorcycle, who puts family before anything, and has a tattoo proving just that... Guh!

Within the first thirty-five pages I'd learned enough about Aiden to realise that this wasn't just going to be a story about a guy being a jerk and then changing his mind - he'd made a difficult choice in a horrible time and that was what made me stop regarding him with wary suspicion as a reader and start actually rooting for him. Sadie has her own burdens as well, and as the book develops we get past her walls and see just what's made her the way that she is, the insecurities and vulnerabilities - she hasn't had an easy time of it, and she's not just carrying a grudge.

The tension between the two of them sparks off the page, and woven in between that is healing on both sides as Aiden deals with the loss that he had, and Sadie learns to take chances again. The other characters aren't just backdrop, either - (I will note here that I haven't read the book that came before this one, Tempting The Billionaire, but I have a feeling I'm going to pick that one up next!) - Sadie and Aiden's friends and family are developed as well, and I had a particular soft spot for Aiden's dad, Mike. I should note that I love this sort of story, too - romances that link together are favourites of mine!
Oh, and it goes without saying - the sex is hot, too - well worth the wait! This was a great read for me, a fun, hot romance that was a perfect way to start off my day. Definitely recommend to any romance fans!

Disclosure: An ARC was provided through Netgalley for an honest review. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize for Literature!

Alice Munro, Canadian Author, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature!!

     If you don't know who Alice Munro is, I'll forgive you - she's a bit of a quiet, unassuming literary legend, but still a legend all the same. She's been called a master of the short story, and she's been writing longer than I've been alive - her first book was published in 1968.

     This has a bit of a personal side for me, I'll be honest! First of all, I'm Canadian and I take personal pride when one of our own does well. Second of all, I happened to grow up two blocks away from the woman and I know first hand that she's a wonderful, quirky personality. She loves lemon meringue pie and she dearly loved her husband, Gerry, who passed away April of this year... It makes me sad that he didn't get to see this honour bestowed on her. 

     Her books mainly draw on her roots - rural southern Ontario, where she grew up and where she has lived most of her life. She writes strong, complex women and explores the realities of growing up female, and also touches on her own family. 

     If you haven't checked out her books before, then I definitely suggest that you do now!

Review: Redemption by C. J. Barry

Title: Redemption
Author: C.J. Barry
Publisher: Forever Yours
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Summary:  Reya Sinclair is a Redeemer of Souls. Her mission is to give Earth’s most depraved sinners a shot at redemption just before they are slated to die. Her own redemption is on the line as she fulfills her duties, leaving a trail of dead bodies in her wake. It’s all going perfectly well until one detective takes notice, possibly bringing her salvation to a halt.

Thane Driscoll is a good cop who’s seen too many bad guys get away, including the man who murdered his father. He exacts his own style of justice, even if it costs him his humanity. A string of mysterious deaths leads him to a woman who’s not quite human and might hold the key to finding his father’s killer.

When death and shadows descend, New York City becomes a battleground for the forces of light and dark. As the body count rises and sparks fly between them, Reya and Thane race to uncover a terrible truth. Can one man hell-bent on revenge and one woman determined to save her eternal soul be enough to keep the planet from spiraling into darkness?

Review: I started off really enjoying Redemption. The main character is Reya, a woman who offers evil souls one last chance before death claims them. In the process she works for her own redemption, which plays a bigger part than is obvious at first.

The plot builds slowly in this book - I started off expecting one thing but the book went in an entirely different direction, which has both benefits and drawbacks. There was little exposition - everything is revealed in due time throughout the book, which was enough to keep me turning the page.

The main characters, Thane and Reya, are well developed and multi-faceted. Reya is a strong character, an enigma who is slowly revealed throughout the book, and I still think she's awesome. :D A kick-ass, strong woman who is fighting for her own redemption, and taking pleasure in seeing evil-doers get what's coming to them? Yes please! Yet she still has her moments of weakness, developing her from more than just a cardboard cut-out, and that's what I really enjoyed about her. I would have liked to know a bit more about her history, though.

Thane wasn't quite as well developed, but still a character I could empathise with, driven by his past and the need for justice and revenge. Through learning about his family and his history you learn more about the man. I liked the temptations that he faced, too - unlike other authors I've read, like Piers Anthony, this wasn't just based on lust and I found that refreshing.

The romance in the book was well developed too - no instant lust, which I *hate*, and it progresses slowly over the course of the book as they work together and learn about each other, each finding that their initial conclusions weren't entirely correct.

The plot broke down a bit for me in the middle, though. Past lives and ascension and dimensions are all involved, and while I find all of those things FASCINATING, they need to be well written and well thought out. It felt a bit lacking, here - there wasn't enough depth, or not enough to draw me into fully suspending my disbelief. The concepts are interesting enough, don't get me wrong, I just didn't feel like they were quite well developed enough. Because of this my interest waned a bit as I found myself thinking 'what?' and 'how?' throughout the course of the latter half of the book.

I would still say that it was an enjoyable read, but I'm not sure whether I would pick up any sequels.

Disclosure: I received an ARC through Netgalley for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: The Holders by Julianna Scott

Title: The Holders
Author: Julianna Scott
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: March 5th 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA, Magic
Rating: Three out of Five Stars

Summary: 17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

Review: Doesn't that green gem just look gorgeous? I find it fitting, since The Holders is set in Ireland, one of my top places to visit!

The Holders revolves around Becca, a seventeen year old who has spent most of her life protecting her little brother, Ry. Ry has always been different from the other kids, and Becca is fiercely protective of him, so it only makes sense that she's highly suspicious when two men show up out of nowhere saying that they can help. In the end she decides that Ry can go with them - but only if she can go as well.

From there we're taken off to Ireland, truly a part of the book I really enjoyed. Ireland has always fascinated me, and the bits and pieces we glimpse throughout the book are compelling and interesting. Mixed into this is burgeoning romance and best of all - secret powers!

The abilities that come up in the book was something else I really enjoyed. I've always loved it when authors show us abilities that are rooted in 'our' world, and this book has plenty of those, from people who can read minds, cast illusions, move things and more. The way this is presented, from history to how it's passed down, to how they control it, is obviously well thought out and fascinating for someone like me who loves getting down to the intricacies of how things work and compelling worldbuilding.

The weak part of the book comes from a bit of predictability - I was able to guess at the major reveal in the book and also the major relationship that developed. The romance especially was a weak spot, for me - it felt as though it developed a bit quickly, for my tastes, and... Okay, I'll admit it, the age difference bothers me, though I'm not a prude. The connection between the two romantic leads is a bit tenuous, in my opinion - I've read concepts like this before, and it is very difficult to pull off. This book has more thought put into it than most, but I still found it a bit lacking.

Overall, though, The Holders is a great debut novel and I would definitely pick up the second book in the series!

Disclosure: An ARC was provided through Netgalley for review.

Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Title: Parasite
Author: Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication Date: October 29th, 2013
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Dystopia
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Summary: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

Review: Look at the cover!!!! Again, some books just hit my hot spots and this definitely did. The cover is what first grabbed my attention on Netgalley, but when I saw the author... Mira Grant is one of my absolute favourites for her ability to combine real science with science fiction and that hint of horror and dystopia - her Newsflesh series was and still is one of my absolute favourites.

Parasite is an incredibly fascinating, disturbing book... So just the type of book that I love :D

Set in a world where everyone has accepted parasites to keep them healthy and well, the story follows Sal, a young woman who is a survivor of a horrific car crash. A poster child for the movement thanks to the fact that she was saved by the parasite in her head, Sal is reluctantly dependant on Symbogen for her ongoing therapy and still trying to reconcile who she was before the crash with who she is now.

Then a new kink gets added into the mix... People are changing, turning into shells of themselves, and Sal is right in the middle of it, dealing with the afflicted, Symbogen and even her own family in an effort to uncover the truth.

I'll be honest here, I love this sort of book. I love when science and horror get mixed together, and Mira Grant does it incredibly well. This isn't a book that just tells you what has happened, it's a book that shows you with incredible detail, with Grant's trademark interludes that are taken from interviews with the characters, or personal writings. Taken together, it builds a world that has an incredible amount of thought and detail put into it, both fascinating and horrifying.

Not necessarily a book for the squeamish, Parasite is a book that touches on the common human fears of bioengineering and medicine gone wrong and explores them with compelling thoroughness. I am definitely intrigued and eager to see the next book in the series!

Disclosure: Arc obtained through Netgalley.

Throwback Review: Firefly by Piers Anthony

Title: Firefly
Author: Piers Anthony
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Rating: One out of Five Stars
Warnings: Pedophilia, descriptions of child abuse

Summary: When a fleshless corpse is found on a Florida estate, a reclusive caretaker, an investigative reporter, a police officer, and a woman discover that a creature whose victims die in a frenzied state of sexual ecstasy is preying on human beings.

Review: All right, so Piers Anthony is long established, and this book has been out for years and years, too. So why am I reviewing it? 

Well, first of all, I think it's important to talk about past books too, whether we loved or hated them. The wonder and magic of books is that they stay around - look at examples like Pride and Prejudice, after all. Books have the power to be read and influence people far into the future. 

So I think it's important that I touch on this book because to be honest, when I think about it, it just might be about one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. I read it when I was a young teenager and at the time I didn't have a problem with it, but now, thinking back, I am incredibly disturbed as an adult that the book even exists. 

The whole book comes across merely as a vehicle for Anthony's sexual fantasies. This is actually a common theme through his books, I am thinking, and I may do other reviews to touch on this as well. In any event, a large part of the book - far too much of it, in my opinion - is devoted to descriptions of this creature overpowering people, which thus necessitates describing their reactions and orgasms in pornographic detail.

The worst part, however, is that the book contains a description of a sexual scene with a young child, and that is what really revolts me about this book. How it was ever seen as fit to publish, I do not know, considering that it has graphic descriptions of pedophilia and child abuse.

I would not recommend this book for anyone.

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

 Summary: Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. If she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she′s engaged to marry.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, he is the boy being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find - or whom she will lose.


Another gorgeous cover, with lovely writing to match.

The concept was what drew me to this book in the first place - an isolated society, set in a floating city in the clouds? Count me in! I always love reading new takes on how the human race would react to new situations, and this one was fascinating.

We see everything through the eyes of Morgan, a young girl who has always been tempted to know what lays beyond her city but wishes that she wasn't. Her family has already been rocked by one tragedy, and all she wants is for things to be normal.

The chain of events throughout the book take that option away from her, though, and that's where the dystopic elements of this society that Lauren DeStefano has built creep in. It's not just that we're dealing with a society that's been consigned to the clouds, it's what that society has done to live that is subtly creepy and a bit horrifying. It's presented in such a way that it's almost barely noticeable - dribs and drabs here and there throughout the book, but when taken together you realise just how far Internment has had to go to maintain their way of life.

Taking that into account, it's no wonder that Morgan yearns to know what lies beyond the city's confines - or that others do as well. Their question for freedom is what guides the book, and you can't help but want them to succeed, driven by curiosity as a reader!

The relationships in this book are extremely well developed, from Morgan's relationship with her brother, Lux, to her friendship with Pen and her blooming romance with her betrothed, Basil. So many books focus solely on physical attraction that I have a deep appreciation for when a writer takes the time to build depth rather than just focusing on lust. Then you have Morgan's relationship with her friend Pen - a friendship tested by their differences, but bound by loyalty. Truly nice to read.

The book ends off on somewhat of a cliffhanger than left me anticipating more - I'll definitely be picking up the next book!

Review: Endless by Amanda Gray

Title: Endless
Author: Amanda Gray
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Publication Date: Sept 10th, 2013
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Summary: When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.

Review: First of all, isn't this cover gorgeous??? One of the things that drew me to the book! I think it's just beautiful, and it really suits the haunting, poetic tone of the book. 

Endless is a beautiful story that drew me in from start to finish, leaving me wanting and hoping for more from the author with the same main character. A mix of intrigue, mystery and romance all bound up together was enough to keep me turning the page.

The story centres around Jenny, a teenaged girl who has the power to see glimpses of the past when she touches someone - something that she has always tried to hide.

I really enjoyed the writing in this book. The description is beautiful - the imagery is intense, painting a picture in your mind's eye as you read. Most authors include description, but Amanda Gray shows that she has a talent for it, here - there was a point where the shade from trees was described as lace, and that is the sort of thing I love, the comparisons that make you look at nature and your surroundings in a new way.

From the start I found that I could really empathise with Jenny - she's never known her mother, and she loves her father but feels that what he hopes or wants for her is different than what will make her happy. She wants to make him happy, though, so she tries her best. She doesn't have many friends, and we see her grow to a better understanding of the word throughout the book - what it means to be a friend to someone, and what they might want from her, what friends can do for her just because of the friendship they share. It adds to the emotional depth of the book, and I liked seeing it.

Her friendship with Ben was especially well done, building up slowly - it's so rare that you get to see a slow buildup of relationships in books now, it seems, that it was really nice to read and see it building, so slowly that neither of them are aware of it until they come to the sudden realisation. The sad part is that in comparison, Jenny's relationship with Nikolai falls short - it seems to be based on the physical attraction that her counterpart Maria had for him, but beyond that I couldn't find a basis for it, if I was honest. I found myself rooting for Ben more than I did for Nikolai, because I can't see what they have going for them beyond the 'meant to be' trope.

The mix of magic and time travel intrigued me, here - the idea of time travel being scrutinised and controlled made sense to me, and the idea that time travel would have consequences was a breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the other tropes out there right now.

The one thing that bothered me was that the book ends rather abruptly, and I'm not sure whether it's meant to be continued, or meant to be a self contained story - if it's meant to be self contained, then it's not quite satisfactory enough for me, to be honest. Too abrupt for Jenny and Nikolai's story, and it makes me worry that in comparison, Ben's story seems to be tied up in a neat little package, and also that I don't know what a second book would be about, other than more of the same. But the potential is there, so I'd read it.

All in all, four stars. One subtracted for the ending and the lack of depth in some of the relationships, but everything else was well done and beautifully written.

Disclosure: Arc provided through Netgalley for review.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Crashing Into You by B.D. Rowe

Title: Crashing Into You
Author: B.D. Rowe
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2013
Pages: Paperback, 310 pages
Rating: Two out of Five Stars

Description: Bookish college sophomore Sydney Baker wants Evan Taylor with every ounce of her being. The hottest stud on campus, Evan is six foot four, ripped, stacked with muscles. He's even easy to talk to.

There's just one problem: he's her roommate Melanie's boyfriend.

But when Melanie tragically dies after a night of wild partying, Sydney and Evan turn to each other in a time of intense grief. And it doesn't take long for their close friendship to blossom into something more.

Unfortunately for Sydney, secrets from the past soon put her relationship with Evan to the test. Especially when a sexy blonde freshman makes her way into Evan's life, and tries to rip away everything Sydney holds close to her heart.

Review: I'll be honest, I didn't and still don't quite know what to make of this book.

The cover is gorgeous, and is part of what drew me in - it definitely suits the title and in some ways, the story that is told in the book. The problem is, throughout the book there were times when I had the distinct feeling that the author was trying to preach to me, and that's not necessarily something that I look for in fiction, particularly romance.

At times it felt as though the book itself was trying to decide just what it was, romance or a lesson about drunk driving. The way this was expressed through Sydney's conversations and reactions to those around her made it quite hard to get through, at times - it just didn't sound like a college student, but someone much older, someone with an agenda.

Considering everything that happens in the book - from our introduction to Sydney and the events that shape her character, to the storyline with Evan - it felt like the book feel a bit short. I felt that the book itself wasn't quite long enough for what the author seemed to be trying to accomplish, and for me the conclusion wasn't satisfactory, either. It seemed as though it was trying to be shocking for the sake of it, and I didn't come away with any real message as to what the book was really about, what it was trying to accomplish. The story the author was trying to tell, rather than just 'alcohol is bad and can screw stuff up, kids'.

Overall, this just left me wanting a bit more. The emotions and drama were there, it just didn't quite come together. 

Disclosure: ARC provided through Netgalley for honest review.