July 29, 2012
Illusions (Wings #3), Aprilynne Pike
For once, my must-read-all-books-in-a-series-itis has paid off. Usually, it just succeeds in pissing me off and wondering why I wasted my time. Not so this time. If I'd have gone with my gut, I would've abandoned this series after the first book. After Illusions, I'm glad I didn't.
Laurel hasn't seen or heard from Tamani for nearly a year. She's a senior in high school now, and has spent another summer in Avalon trying to learn how to be a fall faery. Although she's still with David, for two years now, she misses Tamani more than she realizes. And, all of a sudden, he shows up. As a student in her high school. To make matters worse, he starts trying to get close to another new student whom the gang suspects is a wildflower - a faery with no idea who she is. When you add in some more troll action, it's fair to say that Laurel is having a really stressful year.
I... liked Illusions. Actually, I really liked it. Weird. Although Laurel is still a self-righteous, wishy-washy, pansy (pun intended), Tamani's constant presence, especially in a human environment, made the book enjoyable. The past two books, I've been frustrated and annoyed by the way Laurel was playing both David and Tamani, and at least in this book, she finally stepped up and made some real choices. And, that was a really, really good thing.
The ending was also much more dynamic. There were a lot of questions still unanswered at the end of Illusions. Some big cliffhangers to be addressed. It actually makes me anxious to read the final book.
My only complaint with this book is that we barely saw Avalon. As that was my favorite part of Spells (Wings #2), I was hoping for much more than what I got. Other than a quick confab with Jamison, Laurel's time in Avalon was only spoken of in passing. Hopefully, the final book remedies this situation.
July 28, 2012
Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood #7), J. R. Ward
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
I admit that after the last two Black Dagger Brotherhood books, I was starting to lose confidence in The Warden's abilities. How many times have we seen series start off strong, but then the story arcs and characters start to go off-course? Especially when there are 8+ books in the series. Thankfully, Lover Avenged has pulled me out of my slump and renewed my confidence in the series.
This is the first book that doesn't follow a member of the Brotherhood. Rhevenge is a friend of the Brotherhood, however, and not just because his sister is married to one of them. He owns the club that the Brothers like to frequent, and he's helped them out of a few sticky situations in the past. However, he's half symphath, which means he's got a lot of hiding to do. So, he doesn't see it as necessarily a good thing when he finds himself falling in love with the respected and well-liked Ehlena. After all, how can you give your heart to someone when you can't even tell her half the truths about yourself?
Rhev has been mentioned in nearly all the books, and to be honest, I never really gave him too much thought. He's a drug lord, a club owner, a pimp - he can't be a "good guy," right? This book proved that there is so much more to Rhev than what you see on the surface. There are actually good reasons behind what he does. But, centuries of self-loathing has taken it's toll on him, and I feel so very bad for him most of the way through. He's actually very brave and very honorable, despite his occupations. I love the slow burn between he and Ehlena; I REALLY loved the fact that their romance started with long, late night phone conversations. It's so unusual for these guys, but such a nice change of pace.
My favorite part of this book is that, for the first time since Dark Lover (BDB #1), we get more Wrath POV. Oh, how I've missed that guy. He's having trouble adjusting to the fact that, as King, he shouldn't be out fighting. He shows some serious vulnerabilities in his relationship with Beth, and we finally get to see more from both of them. It's been way too long. The other side stories - John Matthew, Xhex, Tohr, Lash - were really engrossing too. J. R. Ward is so smart. She creates a slow build-up over two, three, even four books for these stories, so that the reader just can't help but run right out and get the next in the series right away. I admit - I fell for it. Watch for the review for Lover Mine (BDB #8) soon. And, believe it or not, I have Lover Unleashed (BDB #9) and Lover Reborn (BDB #10) waiting beside my bed as I type this. Speaking of which, I think I'm going to go start them now...
July 27, 2012
Spells (Wings #2), Aprilynne Pike
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Can you believe that I only listened to my first audiobook in February of this year? I know, right? What was I missing? I have a 35-minute commute one way to work, so it takes me the better part of a week to get through one of them. But, I've done a few now - enough so that I've developed a theory. I think the best audiobooks to listen to are the ones you don't have high hopes for. See, my reading time is precious - I want to spend it the best way possible on the best books possible. But, there are books out there that I'm curious about, but don't think will be "great." Since my time in the car wouldn't have been spent reading anyway, that time would be great to put toward those no-so-great books. Make sense?
With all that said, I'm sure you can guess that Spells was an audiobook. Honestly, I wasn't thrilled with Wings (Wings #1). It was juvenile, kinda hokey, and Laurel, the main character, annoyed the crap out of me. But, the end was not horrible and left me wondering what happened next. So, what the hey? I decided to listen to it in my car, too, because the alternative was listening to Fun's "We Are One" for the seventy-millionth time this summer.
So, Laurel has agreed to go to Avalon for the summer to learn how to be a faery. She also gets to spend some quality time with Tamani, which only adds to her confusion over David too, by the way. After she gets home, it's clear that there's a persistent threat to Laurel's life, which will keep Tamani around and Laurel motivated to learn her craft faster.
Ok, so I will say that this book is marginally better than Wings, which does give me hope for the rest of the series. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, which focused more on faery culture and the city of Avalon. Laurel is try to learn how to be a "mixer" and Tamani is trying to teach her all the nuances and politics of Avalon. I thought the pace and world building here were really nice, actually. Laurel didn't bother me like she usually does
Then, she goes home and the book starts to go to crap. David is a whiner and a poser. I'm not a fan of his character at all. And, when Laurel is around him, she is the same way. She strings along both David and Tamani, and that makes me crazy. And, Chelsea - ugh. Valley girl with a 'tude. The pace seemed to slow almost to a snails pace at this point, too. And, the introduction of Klea felt both unnecessary and confusing.
But, hey - it was an audiobook, and a perfect one, in my opinion. I really wish libraries would stock a bigger selection of audiobooks. Because I had to get Illusions (Wings #3) in hard copy. I know, I know. I couldn't resist. I have to find out what happens now!
July 26, 2012
Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6), J. R. Ward
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
And then there were two. Of the original Brothers introduced to us in the first book, Phury and Tohrment are the only ones left to not have their own book. And, after Lover Enshrined, we're down to one. This is Phury's book. One would think that with his colorful past, volatile present and Fabio hair that I would've enjoyed this one more than what I did. :(
*CAUTION - Spoilers from Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood #5) are included in this review. (Sorry - it can't be helped this time.)
Phury is in a pickle. He is still madly in love with his twin brother's wife (or, shellan, as they are called among the vampires in Ward's world), Bella, and now he's committed himself to sleeping with 40 virgins in order to repopulate the Brotherhood with future warriors. Eesh. Needless to say, he's not feeling to happy about this arrangement. To add insult to injury, Bella is pregnant, and she's not doing so hot. To deal with the emotional turmoil he's put himself in, he turns to drugs, alcohol and self-destruction. Until a certain member of The Chosen lights a tiny spark inside of him and gives him hope for a better future for everyone.
Mmm kay. Here's the problem. I never really found myself caring too much about Phury. I know, I know - he's one of the super hot BDB vamps. He's the most sensitive. He's got nicer hair than I do. I should love him, right? Think is, I just... don't. I kept wanting him to man up like his Brothers before him - to wake up and see what was right in front of his face. And it annoyed me to no end that he wallowed in self-pity as long as he did.
So, why the 4-Star rating? Well, first of all, I can't bring myself to rate any of these books lower than a 4. Each one is part of a bigger whole. Although Phury's story, even though it was the main story, was lacking, the other side stories for John Matthew, Rehvenge, Qhuinn, Blay and Xhex kept me going. they also ensured that I picked up book #7 immediately after reading the last word in this book. More on that tomorrow.
For my first ever giveaway hop, I'm so pleased to be linking up with the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop, sponsored by Colorimetry and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. Woo hoo!
I don't know about you all, but my summer days have been anything but lazy so far. I sometimes need to make an excuse for me to slow down and take some time for me before summertime has completely passed me by. What better way to do that, than to get yourself a new book that you've been jonesing to read?!
So, the winner of my giveaway will get to pick a book of their choice from the Book Depository (as long as the Book Depository ships to your location), up to $10. Then, you have to promise me that, when you get it, you'll take some time for YOU and fully enjoy it. Mm Kay?
So, fill out the Rafflecopter and cross your fingers! While you're here, I hope you take a look around and find something you like. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
July 22, 2012
Dark Frost (Mythos Academy #3), Jennifer Estep
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Boy, Dark Frost starts off with a bang. And a clash, bam, whomp, and screech. Seriously - it's exciting right off the bat and the action doesn't let up. Good Lord - it sounds like I'm talking about Die Hard and not a YA book.
So, the baddies are still trying to raise Loki, and now they're closer than ever. Only one more step to take - and Gwen has the key to that final step. So, of course that makes her Reaper Enemy Numero Uno. Luckily, she has her badass friends, including her kinda-sorta boyfriend Logan, to back her up. And, of course, her own powers are multiplying and amplifying every day, it seems.
Like I said - Dark Frost is exciting from beginning to end. Despite some seriously heinous attacks by the Reapers of Chaos, life still gets back to a semblance of normalcy at Mythos Academy. Gwen returns to her sparring with Logan and his friends and her classes. But, there is an undercurrent of stress and urgency that flows throughout the pages. Gwen feels responsible for saving her friends and measuring up to the standards that she feels Nike has placed upon her shoulders. And, I felt that from her as I was reading. I love books that make me feel what the characters are feeling. Estep has achieved that in spades.
I felt Gwen's struggle to honor her mother's memory. Her love for Logan and frustration when things weren't right with him. Her desire to protect her friends and family from the enemy. Her hopelessness when she felt that all was lost. I cried at her sadness and laughed at her snarkiness. Bravo Ms. Estep.
July 21, 2012
Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2), Jennifer Estep
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
My Grandma Helen always used to tell me that, "true love never runs smooth." Ain't it the truth, grandma? But, if we're to be honest with ourselves, would we really want it to? That delicious give and take, push and pull, yesyesyes nonono is what makes true love something special. And, when it all works out in the end, all that much more satisfying. Kiss of Frost holds evidence of this in spades. And, it made it better than the first book in the series.
After her epic battle for survival and then epic shoot-down by hot bad boy Logan, Gwen is struggling. She is trying to catch up to all her classmates in fight training, trying to get a better grip on her ever changing and evolving powers, and most of all, trying to forget how much she loves Logan Quinn. That last one is the hardest, especially when he's been parading around with his arm around another girl. Luckily, Gwen has her loyal friends to lean on for support and a winter carnival (and maybe a new guy?) to provide much needed distraction. But, too much of a distraction may just make her forget that there are Reapers out there that really want to see her dead.
Gwen, Gwen, Gwen...I know how you feel, girlfriend. She's trying to be the bigger person and go on with her life sans Logan Quinn. It's just so hard to forget you're madly in love with someone that you have to see on a one-on-one basis every freaking morning. Especially when he's made it clear he wants to be with someone else. Jennifer Estep is such a wonderful writer - Gwen's struggle with her feelings and new powers were very real to me. It had me remembering very vividly what it was like to be a teenager again, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. LOL.
The best part about this installment in the Mythos Academy series is that we see some real progress with Gwen's character. She's learning new aspects about her powers, and Estep has made things progress at a real, believable pace. So many times, I see characters realize they have powers, and then all of a sudden, WHAM! They can move heaven and Earth with the flick of a finger. If superpowers were real, I kinda doubt it would happen like that, you know what I mean? Gwen is almost discovering her new abilities by accident, and only a little at a time, which is so much better.
Her relationships with the others around her is so much fun to read. When we first met Gwen, she had no friends at her new school. By the end of the first book, she had made friends with the Valkyrie, Daphne and the Celt, Carson. And, of course, the Spartan, Logan. By the end of Kiss of Frost, she can add a few more names to the "trusted friends" list, and not all of them are human. I'm enjoying watching Gwen come into her own. And, that includes watching her and her friends team up to battle the baddies toward the end. It was very exciting and fulfilling. Before I was done reading this book, I had already reserved Dark Frost (Mythos Academy #3) at the library. I'm loving this series!
July 18, 2012
The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1), Julie Kagawa
I admit that I was apprehensive about this book before I started it. The Iron Fey is one of my all-time favorite series, though, so I felt I had to give a vote of confidence to Julie Kagawa and at least give her new series a go. But, let's face it - going from faeries in a wonder land to vampires and zombie-like creatures in a dystopian America is quite a leap.
In the words of Buttercup from The Princess Bride, "I will never doubt again."
Never doubt Kagawa's ability to weave an engrossing story in an incredibly descriptive and captivating world with characters you can't help but fall in love with, that is.
This book would not be even half as amazing as it is without Allison Sekemoto. She's brash and cranky, but not so much so that she's unlikeable. Thank goodness Kagawa took her time developing this character. Allison is trying desperately to hang on to the last shreds of her humanity - of her sense of self. In was deliciously heartbreaking to read. And, falling in love with a human boy both helps and hinders this process.
I detected none of the silly vampire cliches that are prevalent in so many vamp stories. Somehow Kagawa made vampires seem so much more... human. Real. Vulnerable. It's a breath of fresh air and I absolutely cannot wait until The Eternity Curse comes out in May 2013 (NOOOOOOOOO!!!). Bravo, Ms. Kagawa - you've earned a new super fan with this one.
The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf #2), Molly Harper
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
The most crazy part of the Naked Werewolf series is that Molly Harper has actually made living in bum frickin' Egypt Alaska sound like FUN. What, WHAT? The winters are ridiculously long, and the summers are non-existent compared to what I know. There are no malls, Targets, or Applebee's within 50 miles in any direction. And, yet, I think hanging in Grundy Alaska sounds like a really good time. Weird.
To back things up a bit, Maggie, who is Cooper's sister (from How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf - Naked Werewolf #1), is now in charge of the pack, and along with that, the town the pack lives in. She's young and spunky and willing to take on a lot of responsibility. But, when bad things start happening on her watch, she's all of a sudden juggling a bit more than she had planned. And, when you throw in a nosey, hot writer who wants to know if werewolves really exist, Maggie just may not survive her new job.
I fell in love with Molly Harper's writing when I read How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf a few weeks ago. She's witty, funny and just a downright good storyteller. But, there are some serious moments too. Maggie really struggles with her sense of duty and how far to take it. I really felt for her - she really digs Nick, but he's a human, and as the pack leader, she is STRONGLY encouraged to mate with another werewolf. She wants to be a good leader, but she also wants to be happy.
I also liked learning about what happened with Cooper and Mo. Obviously, they are not the stars of this story. But, they aren't non-existent either. Thank heavens, Harper recognizes that the characters in her first story are not gone from the readers' minds; we see what they've been up to in the year or so since book #1 concluded. And, I certainly appreciated that.
Happily, Harper just announced last month that there will be a Naked Werewolf #3 sometime in the near future - YAY! I will certainly be adding it to my shelf when it's available.
July 15, 2012
Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood #5), J. R. Ward
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
I didn't think it would ever happen, but it did. A BDB book that I wasn't totally and completely in love with. I wasn't sure it was possible, but alas. Ms. Ward, you had me until the last 25 pages or so.
This is the story of the tortured brother, Vishous. He had a brutal, difficult childhood - even more so than the others in the brotherhood. He feels not only unworthy, but also incapable of love. Until a run-in with the lesser baddies goes wrong and Vishous is sent to a human hospital and meets the woman of his dreams. Of course, there are complications - besides the fact that she's a human, Vishous had just agreed to bed 40 vampire females in the hopes of furthering the brotherhood race. Talk about bad timing.
One thing I really liked about this book is the distinct lack of lesser backstory. To be honest, in all the previous books, I mostly skimmed those sections. My interest is in the brothers and their mates - not really in the details behind the bad guys. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad the bad guys are there. It wouldn't be much of a drama without them. But, I don't really find myself caring much about their inner workings and how these guys became lessers. So, I appreciated that there wasn't a lot of that here to bog down the story for me.
I also liked that there seemed to be a bit more of a focus on a few of the other brothers. In previous books, there was always a little side storytelling going on with some of the others - setting them up for their upcoming books. But, the side stories in this one seemed much more in depth. It was nice, since V's story was kind of intense.
I liked Jane and her no-nonsense attitude. I like that she wasn't afraid to handle V. Apparently, he liked that too. :) But, for the love of Pete - THE ENDING. I'm just not feeling it. I get that vampires getting together with humans is complicated. It was handled very well in Rhage's book, as well as Butch's. I don't know - maybe Ward thought she needed a new way to keep a human around forever. Whatever the reason, I wasn't thrilled with her solution to the problem. I hope this is the last vampire to hook up with a human in her stories, because Lord knows what kinda of weird plot device she'll cook up next to keep him or her around forever.
July 12, 2012
Wings (Wings #1), Aprilynne Pike
I'm a Top 40s girl. Yeah - I'm the one you see at the stop light singing her lungs out to her favorite song. But, there always seems to come a time when all the songs are overplayed and I get sick of hearing them all. It's times like those that I seek out an audiobook at the library. I have a 35-minute commute to work and then home again, so it usually takes me a little better than a week to finish an audiobook. Wings was the audiobook that provided me with a break from the bubblegum pop this time.
Laurel is a 15-year-old about to enter public school for the first time after bring home schooled her entire life. She's a bit different from other girls her age. She's never cold, she is a very strict vegan and salt water makes her sick. Things get really weird when she sprouts a flower on her back a few months after starting school. She confides in her new friend/boyfriend David, as well as another kindred spirit, Tamani, that she meets in the woods behind her old house. Together, they help her come to grips with what she is and what is hunting her.
Wings was... cute. I would put this book at a slightly lower level than YA - like, somewhere between middle grade and YA. Laurel's discovery of what she really is and all the things that go along with it seemed like a child looking at a bug - excited, wide-eyed with wonder, trepidation and a little fear. Laurel was a very washed out character for me. The adjective I thought about a lot when she was going on and on about all her problems was, "BLAH." She's like a wet noodle - limp and boring.
David is your typical, doppy, 16-year-old guy. He likes Laurel because she's really pretty. He blusters a lot about how he's going to protect her and tries to be all big and tough. But, during the big, bad battle, he wasn't much help. And, don't get me started on Laurel's BFF Chelsea - I really could've done without her completely.
The bright spot for me was Tamani. He was colorful, adorable, mysterious, chivalrous. Why he's obsessed with wishy-washy Laurel is beyond me. And the fact that she totally leads on both he and David made me crazy.
But, who am I kidding? It was still a light read. It passed the time in my car. And, as I sit in my living room, typing this very mediocre review, I have Spells (Wings #2) in the CD player of my car (it's so far better than Wings!). I just hate giving up on series. We'll see if I'm just a glutton for punishment.
July 10, 2012
I was shocked when I just typed that up there - 260 pages?! What the... what?? There was so much packed into this book, that it really seemed as if it was a bigger book than that. Not to mention that it took me nearly an entire week to read it. So weird.
So, Kate Daniels is a mercenary in future Atlanta. She is hired by those with enough money to pay for her services, and/or those who have a problem that is too big for them to handle by other means. The problems Kate usually handles are of the magicky, supernatural variety. And, she's very well suited for them. Kate doesn't take crap from anyone, she doesn't respond well to authority, and she's one powerful chick. But, when her mentor/father-figure is murdered by someone who seems to want a turf war between the town's vampires and shifters, Kate takes it upon herself to do whatever it takes to find his killer. And, strangely, she makes a few allies along the way.
Ok - where to begin? There is some ca-RAZY world building going on in this book. Andrews has created a very complex, detailed future - one that I still don't think I completely grasp even after finishing the book. To be honest, I was at least a little confused (and sometimes a lot confused) for nearly the entire book. I think Andrews could really have taken a bit more time to explain the background behind the whole magic/tech world a bit more. I think it would've made a huge difference.
However, despite my constant state of confusion, I never felt the urge to abandon the book altogether. I was urged onward by a desire to find out what happened to Kate's mentor. Despite Kate's abrasiveness, I found myself liking her and wanting to know more about her and her past. And, I luuuuuurrrve Curran. I hear from friends who really enjoy the Kate Daniels series that this book is the "worst" in the series, so I look forward to reading the next one to see what happens next!
July 9, 2012
Books Read - 8
Books Read To Date - 70
Total Pages Read - 26,868
Favorite Book of the Month - The Golden Lily
There was no contest when it came to deciding my favorite book this month. I featured The Golden Lily in a Waiting on Wednesday post a few months ago, and it certainly was worth all the anticipation. It was deliciously suspenseful, teasingly romantic and wildly entertaining. As much as I enjoyed Rose and Dimitri's story, it has come to an end. This is Sydney's and Adrian's time, and I'm more than happy to put The Vampire Diaries behind me and move on with Bloodlines. It's going to be a fun ride. :)
July 8, 2012
Hourglass, Myra McEntire
time travel, paranormal romance
You see me doing my happy dance? It's because I've finally found another time travel book that hasn't resorted to cliches and tired plot devices. Woo to the hoo!
Emerson has had a rough go of it since her parents died. She had been institutionalized and medicated into oblivion due to depression, PTSD, and oh yeah, she sees ghosts from the past. Her brother and sister-in-law don't exactly know how to help her, so they enlist the services of Michael Weaver from The Hourglass. Turns out he sees ghosts too - sort of. It's a little complicated. Because The Hourglass isn't all it seems to be. And, neither is Michael. He is more. SO much more.
I freaking LOVED this book! I felt for Emerson right from the beginning. Her story is sad and a little hopeless at first. It's obvious from the beginning that she has issues with these ghost sightings, and they are getting worse. But, from the instant she sees Michael, there is hope. And... something more.
Now, all of a sudden, instead of a helpless, hopeless life, Emerson is faced with a future and the opportunity to make a difference.
I have high hopes for Timepiece (Hourglass #2), which was just released a few months ago. Look for the review soon!
July 2, 2012
The Golden Lily, Richelle Mead
urban fantasy, paranormal romance
I was SO EXCITED to read this book! I even featured in on a previous Waiting on Wednesday post. It's no secret that the Vampire Academy series is my favorite series of all time. It was good to find out that some of my favorite characters' (ADRIAN!) stories were not over. And, The Golden Lily was even better than Bloodlines - I expect great things from this Mead series as well.
Sydney is finally in the Alchemists' good graces. She's eager to continue doing a good job in her assignment. But, at the same time, she's finding that she's actually - GASP - enjoying herself. She enjoys having an opportunity to go to a traditional school, have friends, date. "Normal" really is underrated. And, apparently, an illusion, as well. Syd stumbles upon a rogue group of vampire hunters that threaten to upset the delicate balance between the human world and the vampire world that the Alchemists have spent years building.
I have to admit - The Golden Lily started a little slowly. It's a new school year and Sydney is settling back into her world in Palm Springs after a quick trip to Alchemist headquarters. Sydney has been painted by Mead as a brilliant girl. She is well spoken, well dressed, polite, beautiful smart. So, it's beyond me why Mead also made her so incredibly daft when it comes to social situations! I don't entirely buy that this intelligent girl has absolutely no idea what to do on a date, how to act at a school dance, or when a boy LIKES her likes her.
Sadly, we all have to wait another year before Bloodlines #3 comes out. After the ending of The Golden Lily (I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room!!), it's entirely too long to wait!