December 31, 2013

My Year In Books - 2013 Edition

Wow. How is it that 2013 is over already?? Today is the last day of the year, and as I look back on my year in books, I'm kinda blown away. I made some great friends, discovered some amazing new blogs, attended some mind-blowing events, and yes - read a TON of books.

The Books
First, let's look at the books themselves - all 218 of them (I actually read 223 if you count re-reads):

My goal for the year was to read 200 books, so I'm happy to say my goal was once again met. One thing that helped me achieve my goal was the fact that I embraced audiobooks this year in full force. Do you have any idea how much more palatable doing dishes and folding laundry is when you can listen to a book at the same time??

I really jumped on the new adult bandwagon on 2013 with abandon. I just adore this genre and will read almost anything that carries the label. I also discovered a love of YA sci-fi. I never would've guessed that I'd love this genre as much as I do.

I'm getting a little tired of dystopian books. I read quite a few in 2013, and it's getting harder and harder for me to give them five stars.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of paranormal books. Vampires, werewolves, faeries - you name it, I'll read it. 

The Authors
I discovered a ton of authors that were new to me in 2013. And, I read a lot of books by authors that were already one-click favorites before January 1, 2013. Including re-reads, my top five authors in 2013 were:

Jennifer L. Armentrout - 12 books
Abbi Glines - 10 books
Jeaniene Frost - 9 books
Samantha Young - 5 books
Darynda Jones - 5 books

The Events
Without a doubt, the high point of 2013 for me was my trip to NYC to attend the Book Expo of America. It was something I had been looking forward to for months, and all the planning and anticipation were nothing compared to the real thing. I met so many of my favorite authors and came home with so many new books - it was overwhelming.

 In addition to BEA, I helped organize an event in my home town that brought nine YA authors together for an all-day event. Celebrate the Book was in October and benefited my local library organization. I had no idea the amount of time and planning involved in putting together an event like this, so it was definitely a learning experience for me.


Finally, I attended an event in November with Jennifer Armentrout, Wendy Higgins and Brigid Kemmerer where they talked about their latest and upcoming releases. I've actually met each of these ladies several times now (all three were at the event I helped organize in October too), and hanging out with them absolutely never gets old. They are so much fun and such accomplished authors. I just love these ladies to pieces.

New Friends and Old Ones
By putting myself out there on my blog, on Goodreads and at events, I've discovered that the world is full of super talented people and some even bigger book fans than me! My blog is better and my life is more rich because of them.

Hannah from The Irish Banana - Hannah doesn't live too far from me, so I've seen her at local events, but her help with my BEA planning proved invaluable. Plus, she's just a really cool chick who is always willing to come to my rescue. I appreciate her so much.

Jessica from A Midsummer Night's Read - I met Jessica in line at BEA. We'll be getting a lot closer in 2014 since we're rooming together this time. Dude - we're going to have a BLAST.

Anna from Annaberry Reads - Anna has been a good friend for awhile now, but her blog is new. I'm so proud of her for putting herself out there and achieving that goal. Even though she lives so far away, we text each other daily to stay in touch. We share the same taste in books and we're both wives and moms. I think Anna is my soul sister.

Jen from At Random - Without a doubt, Jen is one of the best friends I have. We've taken road trips, met for lunches, gone on double dates, and just hung out watching movies and eating junk. We share an infinite love of books and never seem to run out of things to talk about. You might be pretty thin, but you have a fat heart, my friend.

Publicists - I was always afraid to put myself out there to my favorite authors' publicists because my blog isn't all that big in the grand scheme of things, and I was afraid of making an idiot of myself. And, one day I decided I didn't give a crap anymore. The worst they can do is say no to my ARC and tour requests, right? And, an amazing thing happened. They said YES. I've made some contacts with some amazing publicists this year. Suffice to say, they have one of the coolest jobs EVER. And, in addition to interacting with authors and working down the hall from the ARC closet (how they resist that temptation, I'll never know), they really do pull out the stops to make our blogs better. And, I thank them so very much for that. Some of the amazing people I've met this year include Vida Engstrand from Kensington Publishing, Cassie McGinty from Disney Worldwide Publishing, Jessie Edwards from HarperCollins, Abigail Tyson from William Morrow and Lisa Wray from HarlequinTeen.

 One thing is for sure - 2013 was a big year for me. Bring it on, 2014. I'm ready for you.

December 30, 2013

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Crash (Crash #1)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Crash (Crash #1), by Nicole Williams
Published December 18, 2012
paperback, borrowed from a friend
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Jude Ryder and Lucy Larson are this generation's Romeo and Juliet: Explosive. Sizzling. Tragic.

A steamy summer encounter with bad boy Jude means trouble for Lucy. Her sights are set on becoming a ballerina, and she won't let anything get in her way . . . except Jude.

He's got a rap sheet, dangerous mood swings, and a name that's been sighed, shouted, and cursed by who knows how many girls.

Jude's a cancer, the kind of guy who's fated to ruin the lives of girls like Lucy—and he tells her so.

But as rumors run rampant and reputations are destroyed, Lucy's not listening to Jude's warning. Is tragedy waiting in the wings? This racy romance is hot, hot, hot!

A huge thank you to my bestie, Jen from At Random, for allowing me to borrow Crash. For the past six months. Yes, yes, I know. I'm such a bad friend. I don't really know why I waited so long to read it. Especially now that I have and realized what I'd been missing out on this whole time. But, it's now tucked back away on her bookshelf, and I'm able to check another Nicole Williams book off my TBR.

When Lucy first saw Jude, she really liked what she saw. And then he opened his mouth, and her illusion of him was shattered. He was a grade A jerkface, and Lucy wasn't afraid to tell him so. Jude was impressed and taken with the feisty new girl, despite the fact that he knew she should stay away from him and his checkered past. Thing is, that first meeting was enough to solidify an attraction between the two of them that just won't let go. Even if it could be disastrous for both of them in the long run.  

I really like those romances that start off with the girl putting the guy in his place. Crash was like that. Jude was a cocky bastard who said some things that would've turned me right off when he initially met Lucy on the beach. But, because she didn't swoon like the rest of the female population in their town, he was intrigued and wanted to know more. He dialed down the attitude and actually exerted some effort to get her to like him. Go Lucy!

Jude is a pretty bad guy. He's been in and out of jail multiple times and is currently living in a home for boys. Lucy is a pretty good girl, yet her home life sucks ever since her younger sister died on her watch. It really was like these two needed each other. Lucy needed Jude's strength and protective instincts. Jude needed Lucy's ability to see the good in him and to believe in him since no one else did. 

I was hoping to see more of Lucy's love of ballet. It was there, but wasn't a very big part of the story, as I thought it might be. There were, however some surprising twists and turns in the story that I didn't expect. 

I think I would actually classify Clash as a mature YA rather than a new adult. Both Lucy and Jude are in high school, the language isn't too terrible and although the sexual tension was super hot, the actual sex quotient is quite low. The pacing was good; Crash was an easy read that I finished very quickly. 

I'm eager to continue on with the Crash series and find out what's in store next for Jude and Lucy.

December 27, 2013

REVIEW: Wold After (Penryn And The End Of Days #2)

World After (Penryn and the End of Days #2), by Susan Ee
Published November 19, 2013
Amazon Children's Publishing
e-book, gifted
young adult fantasy/post-apocalyptic
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

If someone had told me six months ago that I'd be giving five stars to a book with stuff like man-eating children, insides-liquifying scorpion monsters, and bat-winged agnostic angels, I would've said you were off your bookish rocker. I mean, would you think that a book like that would end up being one of the best of the year? But, trust me. TRUST ME. World After was incredibly, epically awesome. 

World After picks up immediately where Angelfall left off with Raffe hunting for his wings, stolen by the nasty demon Belial, after assuming Penryn was dead and leaving her with the resistance fighters. Penryn, on the other hand, is trying to keep her family together which proves to be a challenge since Paige is now... different. The angels are up to something, and none of it seems good for the human race.

I'm not quite sure what it is about this series by Susan Ee, but I am so caught up in it, I'm counting the months until the third book is released (six!). World After was disturbing, scary, crazy, and completely AWESOME. It built perfectly on the story started in Angelfall and left us hanging at just the right part. 

Penryn is such an amazing heroine. She's so brave and smart and strong. I also love that she has emotional meltdowns and gets pissed when her world is falling down around her. Because no one does the right thing at the right time all the time. She's developed this attachment to someone who is supposed to be her mortal enemy and she still recognizes the wrongness of that. And, yet, Penryn has the ability to cut through the bullshit and see the person underneath to know that Raffe is inherently good and someone to be trusted. I love that about her. 

Speaking of Raffe, he seemed a little different in World After than he was in Angelfall. More... human. He jokes around more with Penryn. He acts a bit like a dork at times. And, he doesn't seem determined to hide his affection from her any longer. Which, of course, made me love him even more, if that's possible. 

This story is a complex one, full of lots of twists and turns and deceptions. To be honest with you, I'm still not a hundred percent sure who the bad guys are. I kind of love that, too. You think the angels are the baddies, but I don't think all of them are. Perhaps demons are influencing them? Something fishy is going on, and I'm still not quite sure what it is. The fact that Susan Ee is able to hide all the details and true motives this far into the story is amazing. 

One thing is for sure. If you read the Penryn series, you'll get a little dystopian, a little horror, and even a little romance. What a combination, right? The characters are uniquely wonderful and the story is scary, gritty and exciting. The mythology that Susan Ee has worked in is awesome too. I seriously loved World After and its predecessor, Angelfall. Please give it a try too.  

December 26, 2013

A Bookish Recap of Christmas

I'm sitting here at 9:30 p.m. on Christmas night trying to grasp the fact that, once again, it's all over. All the planning, madness, obsessing, spending, wrapping, baking and excitement is over in just 12 short hours. It's a good thing, really. I'm very much looking forward to getting on with life as I know it. And, 2014 is going to be a busy year - I'm ready to get started.

But, first, a recap of Christmas. Of course, every year I ask for books and book-related items. I had about a dozen books on my list this year, as well as things like bookshelves and blogging essentials. Here's what I got.

1. 2014 planner - I actually got this for my birthday a few weeks ago, but it was on my Christmas list. I would lose my mind without my planner. It keeps track of all my blog tour commitments, signings I want to attend and ARC review posting dates. A new one for 2014 was a MUST - if I hadn't gotten it as a gift, I would've bought one myself.

2. Books - I received two books this year. Yup. Two. It's all good. I received a bunch for my birthday, and I've been so very fortunate this year to have made some really amazing contacts with major publishing house publicists, who have managed to keep me busy with some really cool ARCs. So, really, I can't complain one bit. The two books I received were Rush, by Maya Banks and The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan.

3. Amazon GC - My parents know that a good stocking stuffer for me is always an Amazon gift card. I got one worth $25 this year. So, now the big question is, what do I spend it on??? I'm leaning toward these two pre-orders:

4. I-Pod Nano - My big gifty this year came from my wonderful husband. I had been complaining about
having to listen to my audiobooks on my Droid smartphone because when I get texts or e-mails, it cuts out the audio for a few seconds. If I'm listening to a borrowed audiobook from the library, I don't get those seconds back. If I'm listening to a book downloaded from Audible. it repeats the last 5 seconds or so right before the alert noise. Either way, it's irritating. So, my husband got me my very first I-gadget ever. I'm excited to start playing with it and listening to some books on it.

So, what bookish Christmas presents did you get? Any books? What didn't you get that you really, REALLY wanted?

December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings Me

1. The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4), by Rick Riordan

2. Tangled, by Emma Chase

3. Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1), by Darynda Jones

4. Altered (Altered #1), by Jennifer Rush

5. Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1), by Morgan Rhodes

6. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), by Marissa Meyer

7. Beautiful Stranger (Beautiful Bastard #2), by Christina Lauren

8. Mine (Real #2), by Katy Evans

9. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1), by Michelle Hodkin

10. A Beautiful Wedding (Beautiful #2.5), by Jamie McGuire

December 23, 2013

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Pulse (Collide #2)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Pulse (Collide #2), by Gail McHugh  
Published September 17, 2013
Atria Publishing
audiobook, purchased
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads)
“Do you know how scary it is to want something so bad you’re willing to change your whole life for it?”

Emily Cooper is ready to risk everything to be with the man who has consumed her thoughts and dreams since the fateful day they met. Unraveling fast, she can only cling to the hope that Gavin Blake still wants her.

Nursing his wounded heart, Gavin has cut himself off from society and retreated into a self-destructive, mind-numbing world. Emily isn’t used to being the strong one, but she’ll have to find the daring and confidence within to fight for their love and bring Gavin back from the edge—even if it means losing herself to their all-consuming, pulse-pounding passion. A New York Times bestseller, Pulse is the unforgettable conclusion to the story of Emily and Gavin that began with Collide.

I loved so much about Pulse. The angsty beginning, the drama-filled middle, the swoony ending. Bottle caps and baseball. Hot sex and a book boyfriend for life. It was pretty darn epic.

We pick up in Pulse immediately where we left off in Collide (which I personally am very thankful for - I hate huge time lags between series installments!) with Emily finally making her choice between Gavin and Dillon and setting off to make things right. And, for once things finally seem to be going her way. Until yet another bomb is dropped in the middle of her life, and now Emily and her new relationship have to deal with a new challenge.

Emily, who was ridiculously frustrating in Collide, finally gets her crap together in Pulse. It made her much more palatable and even likable. I was so happy about that, because I really wanted to love her. Better than that, I really respected her for the decisions she made in Pulse. 

Gavin... well, what can I say about Mr. Tall, Dark and F*ckable? He is the epitome of bookish awesomesauce. He's gorgeous, rich, attentive, always says the most swoony things, and is amazing in bed. Seriously, I don't think he could get any more perfect.

Which brings me to point of contention #1. He was TOO perfect. Doesn't he ever get mad at Emily? Have a bad day at work and take it out on her? He had no flaws, which makes him a flawed character for me.

As much as I love romance and need it in my books, even I was getting a little tired of the constant declarations of love and devotion between those two. It was a bit too much - a bit too sugary sweet and sappy.

And, the biggest star-knocker-offer is "that chapter." (Those who've read it know what I'm talking about.) About 75% through the book, there is a chapter that had me gasping, crying and completely freaking out. The thing is, there was absolutely no point to it whatsoever. None. It was like shoving drama in with a crowbar. And when everything was resolved, I was left kinda pissed off. Why put me through all that? What was the purpose?

All that being said, I absolutely, without a doubt recommend this entire series. The love story is definitely one for the ages, and despite how it might sound, I really, really loved it.

December 20, 2013

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Is anyone else soooooo ready for 2013 to be over? Or is it just me?

Books always seem to make things better, don't they? Thanks to Bookhounds and I Am A Reader Not A Writer, I have a good excuse to give you one in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop!

I'm not going to complicate matters. Trust me - life is complicated enough, am I right? So, enter below to win one book of your choice from either Amazon (US) or The Book Depository (INT) up to $15.

Happy holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


UPDATE & NEWS: Be With Me (Wait For You #2)

Hey all you Wait For You fans - have you heard the news about the extra content in the print version of BE WITH ME (Wait For You #2) by J. Lynn/Jennifer L. Armentrout?

You probably know that Be With Me will be coming out on February 4, 2014. You also probably know it’s the official sequel to Wait For You, and it features Teresa (Cam’s sister) and Jase (Cam’s best friend). But what you most likely don’t know is that in the print version only you will find an exclusive never-before-seen scene between Teresa and Jase that won’t exist in the e-book version.

That’s right, if you can get your hands on a print copy of Be With Me, you will be privy to a super exclusive scene you can’t get anywhere else!

So, what are you waiting for? If the fact that Be With Me is written by the amazing Jennifer Armentrout wasn't enough to convince you to pre-order it, the allure of extra scenes should. I've read the first six chapters, and they were absolutely amazing. I can't wait to read this incredible new new adult book from one of my favorite authors!

Pre-Order Be With Me!

About the Author

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

December 19, 2013

REVIEW: Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3)

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3), by Veronica Rossi
To Be Published January 28, 2014
e-galley, obtained from Edelweiss
young adult dystopian
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

FINALLY. A series ender that did the story justice.

I don't know about you, but lately it seems as if the final books in series I follow - particularly dystopian series - have not even come close to living up to my expectations. Perhaps my goals are too lofty. I want drama, suspense, intrigue, tons of stress and frustration, but ultimately a satisfying HEA for the main characters and a resolution to the main problem that has plagued them for several books. I didn't think that was too much to ask.

Thankfully, Veronica Rossi and I seem to be of the same mind. Because, this fantastic author gave me my wishlist in Into The Still Blue. Especially the tons of stress and frustration. Oh, I felt those things in spades.

As the title suggests, the entire book is about the two separate factions of people - the Tides and Dwellers led by Perry and the Horns and Dwellers led by the evil duo Sable and Hess - trying to get to the Still Blue where the air and sky are clear and healthy. In order to do that, they need the help of Cinder, the 13-year-old boy that befriended Perry and has been kidnapped by Sable and Hess.

In addition to the plotting, planning, thwarting and executing of said plans, there was a lot of focus on relationships both old and new. Perry's and Roar's friendship seems irreparable since Liv's death. Perry and Aria are now together and resolved to make their relationship work no matter what. And the Tides and Dwellers need to find a way to get past their ingrained differences so they can live together in peace.

My love of Perry, Aria and Roar never wavered. Their choices and actions were in keeping with the characters Rossi has created over the course of two books and two novellas now. They are characters whose traits I admire - the dedication to family and the honor in the face of adversity is inspiring.

Leave it to Veronica Rossi to make me love characters I had previously resolved to hate. Soren, Brooke and Loren most definitely grew on me over the course of Into The Still Blue, until at the end, I was most definitely rooting for them to make it through the final dangerous confrontations.

The pacing was perfect. The action and angst almost non-stop. The character development was amazing. I thank Veronica Rossi for giving us the drama, suspense, stress, and yes, that elusive HEA, in this final book of the Under the Never Sky series. This is, without a doubt, one of the best dystopian series I've ever read.

December 18, 2013

REVIEW: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1)

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days #1), by Susan Ee
Published August 28, 2012
Amazon Children's Publishing
audiobook, purchased from Audible
young adult fantasy/post-apocalyptic
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. 

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel. 

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl. 

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

There's been no shortage of hot angels in YA fiction in recent years. Patch. Daniel. Akiva. But, see, you haven't met Raffe yet. Otherwise known as Raphael. The archangel. Or, maybe you have. But, I guarantee you haven't met Susan Ee's version of him yet. Because once you do, all those other guys fade into the background.

I finished Angelfall five days ago, and I'm still reeling. I am amazed at Susan Ee's ability to create this crazy, amazing post-apocalyptic world complete with angels, demons, monsters and heroes. It is unlike anything I've ever read before.

The setting is San Francisco, six weeks after angels invaded Earth, causing world-wide destruction by way of natural disasters of all kinds. Now, it appears as if the angels are finishing off the remaining humans in horrible and brutal ways. Seventeen-year-old Penryn is running with her handicapped sister and cray-cray mother when they are witness to an angel getting the crap beat out of him, his wings ripped off and left for dead. Her mother runs, her sister is taken, and now Penryn is left with a lame angel to guide her to their headquarters in order to save her sister. What begins as a volatile partnership ends as something much more as Raffe and Penryn face life-threatening challenges in order to accomplish their goals.

I read Angelfall after my bestie, Jen from At Random, started fangirling over it. Jen never fangirls over anything, so I knew it must be a good one. I remember about 10% or so into Angelfall sending her a text saying that I wasn't sure if I loved or hated Raffe. In the beginning, it's very easy to have this love/hate relationship with him. I think Penryn does too. He plays the angry angel card very well.

The glimpses we start to see into Raffe's psyche through the course of his and Penryn's journey will definitely sway you toward the love end of the love/hate scale. He's just as tortured as Penryn is. He's lost his wings to his main enemy. His only choice of a surgeon to sew them back on is a female angel who he hates. He lost his troops. His friends. He's an angel all alone, and they hate being alone. So, I get why he's an ass most of the time.

But, the more things that Penryn does that he doesn't expect, the more his outer shell cracks, showing glimpses of his true self. One who has a snarky sense of humor. Who might not think humans are all that bad. Who might actually want to HELP Penryn. It's that version of Raffe that I fell in love with.

Penryn is my kind of chick. She is a complete badass, forged by a crappy home life. She took self-defense lessons in order to protect herself from her unpredictable and mentally unstable mother. Then, the world fell apart and she was able to put her knowledge to very practical use. If any "Daughter of Man" was suited to team up with an equally badass archangel, it's Penryn. One of my favorite parts of her is her dedication to her family and her reluctance to give up even in the face of insurmountable odds. Well, that, and the fact that she has the guts to stand up to Raffe, a trait that I think he loves much more than he lets on.

You want a book with action, then you have it here. There are plenty of battles, both supernatural and human. The pacing is fantastic - there was never a moment when the story lagged for me. And, I really enjoyed the audio version of Angelfall. Caitlin Davies did a great job with the narration. This was the first book of hers that I've listened to - I'll definitely be seeking more out in the future.

Susan Ee continued to surprise the heck out of me. I thought Angelfall was simply an angel book. But, there are zombies (of sorts), monsters and demons to contend with. Not to mention radical humans bent on re-taking our world. This was an incredible book about loyalty, love and lies. The twists and turns were exciting and gripping. There was never a dull moment - it was exciting and action-packed the whole way through to the frustrating, amazing ending. You need to read this book.

December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This is one meme I can get on board with - I LOVE lists! I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

1. Samantha Young - I read On Dublin Street early in 2013 and immediately fell in love with Scottish author Samantha Young's in-your-face style of writing. Her characters are tough and their romances are tumultuous and hot. To date, I've read all four books (three full-length and one novella) in the On Dublin Street series, as well as her first new adult novel, Into the Deep. Expect to see her name plenty more in 2014.

2. Colleen Hoover - Slammed was the first book I read in 2013. I read four of her books so far this year - Slammed, Point of Retreat, This Girl and Hopeless. Her stories are absolutely heartbreaking, yet uplifting. It's impossible to not fall in love with her characters.

3. Katie McGarry - I read Pushing the Limits after hearing many of my friends rave about it. That was all I needed. Echo and Noah's story was so amazing that I followed it up quickly with Beth and Ryan's story in Dare You To. The best of the bunch, though, was Crash Into Me. Isaiah and Rachel were one of my favorite couples of the year. And to top it off, I had the pleasure of meeting Katie at BEA this year, and she was so nice!

4. Abbi Glines - One of the first new adult books I ever read was Fallen Too Far after purchasing it while on sale for $0.99 for my Kindle. After an ending like that one, I immediately purchased Never Too Far and Forever Too Far. How could I not? I've read six or seven of Abbi's books so far and have loved every one of them. She's definitely one of my new adult favorites.

5. Cora Carmack - Cora Carmack's ability to write these completely amazing book boyfriends made her an auto-buy author for me. I was on the Team Garrick street team for the NA Crush Tourney, and I've lusted after Cade since word one of Faking It. This woman knows her hotties.

6. Darynda Jones - There are several things I can count on in a Charley Davidson book by Darynda Jones. One, they will make me laugh my ass off. Two, there will be a few mysteries that will keep me guessing. And, three... Reyes Farrow. Darynda Jones also has a YA series, which has made it's way on my Christmas list this year. I will read anything this woman writes.

7. Courtney Cole - Courtney Cole can bring the pain. Her new adult stories are gritty, dirty, scary and sad. But the endings... OMG the HEAs are epically amazing as is the road to them. If you want a story that is gripping and compelling, you should definitely give Courtney Cole a try.

8. Jeri Smith-Ready - I've met Jeri Smith-Ready on a number of occasions and had collected all three of her Shade series books, signed and everything. I didn't get around to reading them until the fall of 2013, though. Stupid decision on my part, because they were completely and utterly AMAZING. Definitely ones I will read again and again.

9. Beth Revis - I admit, before Beth Revis, sci-fi wasn't really my thing. It seemed like something people who liked to wear Vulcan ears to the grocery store would read. I was SO wrong. Beth's story of a space ship searching for a new planet 300 years in the future completely captivated me. I can't wait to read more from her.

10. Nicole Williams - I put four Nicole Williams books under my belt this year, with the first one just in September. I still have the rest of the Crash series to read and the final Lost & Found book yet, and I can't wait. They're so good and sweet - kinda like M&Ms. There's no way you can have just one.

December 13, 2013

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY: Betwixt Omnibus

Welcome to my stop on the Betwixt blog tour, organized by Xpresso Book Tours! Check out my review of the entire Betwixt omnibus, then enter the giveaway!

Before (Betwixt #0.5), Betwixt & Beyond (Betwixt #1.5), by Melissa Pearl 
Published December 1, 2013
e-book, provided by the author and Xpresso Book Tours
young adult contemporary/paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads)
The Betwixt Series includes Betwixt, Before and Beyond. 

Follow the lives of two teenagers who have to discover that sometimes to find your way, you have to get completely lost. This emotional series deals with the consequences of bad choices, young love... and the ultimate power of redemption.

Beautiful, wild-child, Nicole Tepper, is hit by a car and left for dead. But when she wakes the next morning, Nicole finds herself in bed without a scratch. Perhaps she was more intoxicated than usual, as her mother is giving her the silent treatment and her friends are ignoring her as well.

Things take a turn for the weird when Nicole soon discovers she is actually hovering between life and death. Her body is lying in the forest while her spirit is searching for anyone who can hear her. Unfortunately the only person who can is Dale Finnigan, the guy she publicly humiliated with a sharp-tongued insult that has left him branded.

Desperate, Nicole has no choice but to haunt Dale and convince the freaked-out senior to help her. Will he find her body before it's too late? Or will the guy who tried to kill her with his car, beat him there and finish her off before anyone finds out?

In this prequel to Betwixt, find out who Dale Finnigan was before he became known as“scar-face”—the unassuming hero everyone underestimates.

In this sequel to Betwixt, find out how Nicole Tepper proves to Dale that she loves him beyond all common sense.

Imagine for a minute that you’re walking alone down a forested road in the middle of the night. Scary already, right? Man, I hate the woods at night. But, I digress. So, you’re walking along and, of course, have no cell service in the wilderness like you are. When you see headlights in the distance behind you, you think, “Halleluiah. I’m saved!” Instead, the car swerves, HITS YOU, and you fall broken and battered down an embankment. No one knows where you are. You’re hurt badly and can’t move. You. Are. Royally. Screwed.

From that lead-in, you might think that Betwixt is about one girl’s efforts to survive long enough to be saved. And, yes – that is part of it. But, a much bigger part of this gripping story is about the incredible power of forgiveness and how it can change your life in ways you never thought possible.

Nicole spent the past two years of her life dying slowly inside from grief and guilt over the death of her little sister. To cover it up, she found new “friends” and buried her troubles in some pretty nasty rebellion. She shunned her former friends, and horribly hurt the feelings of Dale, the new guy at her school. When she is knocked unconscious by a car, Nicole is brought back to awareness in the middle of her life, but Dale is the only one who can hear her. Being able to roam the halls of her school and house unseen has its benefits and its curses as Nicole finds out what people really think about her, all the while, she and Dale are trying to figure out where her body is before she dies. Or before the person who hit her comes back to finish the job.

Betwixt was a powerful book. I mentioned earlier the theme of forgiveness that I saw woven throughout. Dale has to find it in himself to forgive Nicole for publicly insulting him so that he can do the right thing and help her. Nicole has to try and forgive herself and admit that she’s worth saving. And, eventually, she needs to forgive the person who hit her so that it doesn’t eat at her for the rest of her life. None of these things is easy to do. Nicole’s become an expert at doing what’s easy, and it doesn’t help or make you feel better.

Nicole’s journey to self-discovery and self-preservation was perfectly timed. She did not come along easily. The truth was hard to swallow. It took her awhile to come to terms with what a mess her life had become and what she needed to do to fix it. I’m so glad it wasn’t an instantaneous change. How much she had to work for it endeared me to her and made me root for her every step of the way, even when she was being a total bitch.

Dale was such a great guy. He had already been through his own person hell, which perfectly suited him to help Nicole through hers. If there was one person on earth who understood her, it was Dale.

His story is outlined in the prequel novella, Before (Betwixt #0.5). In it, you see how Dale, feeling constrained by his parents’ rules, rebels in much the same way Nicole did. He hooked up with some seedy kids, started smoking, drinking, jacking cars and sleeping around at only 15. His defining moment comes when he and his four friends are in a horrific car accident and his proverbial life flashes before his eyes. It was a heartbreaking story to read, but it gave a lot of very helpful background leading into Betwixt.

The mystery surrounding who hit Nicole and where she was was awesome. It was perfectly paced so to not give too much away at one time. Nicole’s times of coherence when she was in her body were stressful and suspenseful and scary. I can’t imagine waking up injured in the woods with wild animals around and everyone thinking I ran away. When she was unconscious and with Dale, I kept wanting them to hurry up and figure it all out sooner so that she could be found.

After such a defining moment in her life, you would think it would completely turn Nicole around. Thankfully, it does even more than that. As we see in the post novella, Beyond (Betwixt #1.5), Nicole and Dale fall into a mostly happy life with one another. But, separation has never been easy for Nicole since her sister died, and now she’s faced with the reality that Dale will soon be leaving for college and Nicole will have to stay behind to finish her senior year of high school alone with all the mean girls, a.k.a. her former friends. Nicole finds she must revisit her awful experience in the woods in order to help Dale get into the college of his dreams, even if it means they will be 3,000 miles apart.

It’s good to see that such an intense experience as the one that Nicole and Dale shared did shape their lives. Nicole isn’t a saint, by any means. And I thank Melissa Pearl for not writing her as such. She’s still tough and snarky. But, she has a strength now that she didn’t have before. And she has love which, let’s face it, helps make everything better.

“Bravery’s a choice. It’s not something you’re born with or without. It’s something that grows inside you each time you choose to stand up and fight for the right thing. Each time you choose to speak out instead of staying silent.”

I was sad to see the end of their story when it arrived. Both novellas are a great length – not too long and not too short. Although Nicole’s speech was a little too “valley girl” for me sometimes, I still felt connected to the characters and were with them every step of the way. This is definitely an omnibus worth reading one after the other.  

About the Author

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. “Best. Year. Ever!!” She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has produced four more books and has a YA fantasy trilogy coming out this year. Unknown and Unseen (The Elements Trilogy) out now!

“I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love.”.
Learn more about Melissa Pearl --> Website / Goodreads / Twitter


Enter to win a paperback of the Betwixt series omnibus and a $25 Amazon Gift Card! This giveaway is open internationally.

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December 12, 2013

I'm Going Back - BEA 2014

Guess what?

I'm going back!

Registration is now open for BEA 2014, and I've already sent mine in. So, it's official! Last year was my first year there, and I had the time of my life. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. I have new goals and to do lists.

I know it will be awhile before authors and publishers start making their announcements about who will be there and which books will be offered. Which, of course, is when the real fun begins. But, until then, I'm content to reminisce.

So, are you going?