Review for Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein

Sneaking Candy by Lisa Burstein

TITLE: Sneaking Candy
AUTHOR: Lisa Burstein
PUBLICATION DATE: December 9, 2013
PUBLISHER: Embrace, an imprint of Entangled Publishing
PAGES: 280 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Candice Salinas is a creative writing grad student who just wants to be taken seriously. Since her fellowship only covers her tuition, she started writing (and self-publishing) erotic romance novels as Candy Sloane to make ends meet. And, surprise, she is relatively successful, making enough off her novels to pay her rent. But her asshat faculty advisor would disapprove and no one would take second look at her serious writing if they knew she was moonlighting as an erotic romance writer, nevermind that she kinda loves doing it (pun intended). Then James walks into the picture, as if she needs more drama. The hot barista a local coffee shop, he’s finally taken interest in her like she’s fantasized about for quite some time. But, unfortunately, he is now a student in one of the classes she teaches to earn her fellowship. The relationship is strictly forbidden, but sometimes Candy sneaks into her brain and she can’t help sneaking around with him. With so much to lose, will Candice strike out or will things work out for the best?

Candice is that character with split personalities, one minute being the level-headed, if somewhat insecure, Candice and the other being the confident Candy who goes after what she wants. While I can understand jumping between the two roles, I also became a bit annoyed when she was being overly dickish to James, who was a complete sweetheart. She usually feels a great deal of remorse and apologizes, but I still wanted to strangle her when she was getting out of hand. What made me love her, despite the drama, was how this was more about her becoming more confident in both personalities. She starts out somewhat proud, but embarrassed about her romance novels, and completely lacking the confidence needed to stand up behind her books and proclaim that there was nothing wrong with writing them and that it didn’t make her a “lesser” author like some asshats like to imply. But she grows and learns and by the end is ready to stop hiding her secondary persona. I am woman, hear me roar, type of thing.

Then we have James, the sweetest guy imaginable. He genuinely likes Candice, regardless of which personality she is displaying and puts her with her hot and cold crap. One minute she is all over him and the next she is cold as ice, claiming this can’t happen because she is his teacher and it’s not worth losing her career over. Somehow, despite Candice’s attempts to push him away, he still remains by her side when she needs him, proving time and again that they need to give it a try regardless of the fact that it would be highly frowned upon. He’s got that great ability to deliver witty comebacks when necessary and walk away when Candice is being absurd. And, of course, he’s hot enough to catch anyone’s eye.

This does have a slight love triangle, but it isn’t one of those massively annoying ones where the girls is leading two guys on because she can’t decide. She likes both in the beginning and, once she gets to know both better, it’s pretty obvious she only really likes one of them. No cliffhangers to be found either, since it is a stand alone. And, not instalove. In fact, the characters haven’t even said those three magical words to each other by the end of the book. They like each other and are attracted and really want to try the whole relationship thing, but the L word is never mentioned. So we are joyously free of the three main hang-ups I have these days.

It’s definitely a different from any other NA novel I’ve read because neither character harbors a disturbing past. There are no abusive exes or parents or attempt rape or anything sinister like that lurking in shadows of this novel. Not that I’m downplaying those elements in a NA novel because I’ve deeply loved many of those stories, but it’s absent here. Plus the idea of a serious writer moonlighting as an erotica author is fascinating. I’ve always wondered if any of the erotica authors feel a little embarrassed of their profession. I’m not implying that there is anything to be embarrassed about, more that I can see where it would steam from. I imagine introducing yourself to strangers as a professional erotic romance writer can be daunting because there is a stigma attached to it. Well there is a stigma attached to romance in general, but erotic romance especially. It was interesting to explore Candice’s feelings about her in-the-closet profession, becoming more and more proud of who she really was and the message her novels sent. Sure, they were smutty, but they still made people feel things and told a story that her readers loved, so what more can you ask for? For writing to be worthwhile, must it be dull and dry? I certainly hope not, for my sake as well as Candice’s. I love that, by the end, she is proud of her Candy novels and is ready to stop hiding them from the world. I love books that support that type of message, you know? That one that say be yourself regardless of what the world things. Fuck your parents, fuck your colleagues, and, most importantly, fuck the naysayers. If it is what makes you a happy and you can legitimately make a living off it, then go for it. We need more novels with that message.

It’s also very funny. Readers searching for something that will make you giggle and snort constantly, this is it. Penis jokes and double entendres galore, all of which had me giggling or smiling or somehow showing my glee. There are double entendre alerts every few pages and all of them at least made me smile. Here is a novel that isn’t afraid to show its pervy side. Speaking of pervy, we get a great few steamy scenes that does Burstein credit. The undeniable chemistry between Candice and James heats up every scene between the two, even the ones where they aren’t getting along.

This novel shines because of its originality, it’s humor, and the “be yourself” theme behind the story. It’s creative and different and exactly what I was looking for. Lisa Burstein is definitely an author to watch because it’s apparent she is going to do great things!

****Thank you to Embrace, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.****

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Palace Of Spies (Palace Of Spies #1) by Sarah Zettel

Palace Of Spies by Sarah Zettel

TITLE: Palace Of Spies
SERIES: Palace Of Spies #1
AUTHOR: Sarah Zettel
PUBLICATION DATE: November 5, 2013
PUBLISHER: Harcourt Children’s Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PAGES: 368 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Peggy Fitzroy’s led a normal life. That is, until her uncle kicked her out for refusing to marry the dastardly scoundrel he chose for her. Forced into the streets, Peggy is desperate for a way to support herself in a time where women were not allow to have an occupation. Under duress, she allows herself to be convinced to impersonate Lady Francesca, a lady-in-waiting in King George I’s court. Lady Fran died, supposedly of a fever, and now they need someone to take her place. Though Peggy is sure she doesn’t understand their motives, she knows that this will keep her fed, clothed, and sheltered until she can find other reputable employment. But she soon realizes that there is more going on in court than meets the eye and if she doesn’t figure out what it is soon, she may follow in Fran’s footsteps to an untimely demise.

Peggy is a very entertaining character. She’s clever enough to give Hermione Granger a run for her money, but balanced out with a healthy dose of fear at the appropriate moments and a penchant for hysteria if things get too out of hand. She’s stubborn enough to want to stay around and figure out what game is afoot instead of running off with the jewels she has collected, which she could easily live off of the rest of her life. Then there is her cousin, Olivia. If I loved Peggy, then I adore Olivia. Smart and sassy, with a flair for drama, this girl had me begging for a sequel from her perspective. In the first chapter, when her and Peggy where play-acting to an imagined drama, I was rolling with laughter. My one lament of this novel is we don’t get nearly enough of her, or the leading man.

Speaking of the leading man, Matthew Reade is also a hilarious character. From his first meeting with Peggy, to the end of the last battle, he screamed swoon-worhty male. Funny and hot, with a passion and talent for the arts, I was instantly in love. He has an ultra-sweet side and genuinely cares for Peggy, regardless of the façade.
He fits right into the role of leading man with perfection. The fact that he isn’t royalty or even a sir, simply a lowly apothecary’s son with the desire to pursue a career in the arts.

Given my love for historical romance novels, is it really any wonder that I loved this? Though it is very different, the setting and the writing style is the same and it had me swooning anew for this genre. I’ve read a handful of historical YA’s before, but nothing compares to this. It has the added bonus of no love triangles and no cliffhanger, so I have not a single thing to complain about. This has it all, intrigue, mystery, humor, with a romance light enough to not overtake the plot. It was everything I was looking for and more. If you like historical YA’s or just want to give something a little different a try, definitely check this one out.

****Thank you to Harcourt Children’s Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare

TITLE: City Of Bones
SERIES: The Mortal Instruments #1
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PUBLICATION DATE: March 27, 2007
PUBLISHER: Margaret K McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Divison
PAGES: 485 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 stars

Clary is just a normal girl with a quirky best friend and no clue that there are fairies, vampires, werewolves, and all manner of mythical creatures are roaming the world, until Jace Wayland walks into her life. Once she meets him, everything changes and the jury is still out if it’s for the better or not. Then her mom gets kidnapped and she is thrust into a world were everything depends on finding a mythical hidden item in order to bargain for her mom’s life.

I originally gave this five stars, but then downgraded it because it contains a love triangle and cliffhanger and I abhor those. I’ve seen a lot of hype on the blogosphere lately about the upcoming film and purposely waited until close to the movies release to read this because I knew as soon as I finished I’d be dying to see the film and I didn’t want to have an excruciatingly long wait ahead. I can honestly say that I understand the hype now. I really enjoyed this. It’s got that addictive quality that makes it difficult to put down once you start and that is quite a quality to possess.

As for the characters, I didn’t initially love Clary. She seemed decent enough, but too similar to so many other YA heroines. No Bella Swan syndrome (thank Satan), but nothing about her stood out. Short, slim, flat-chested, artsy, and relatively intelligent seems like a common theme these days. I’m happy to report that by the end, I did come to like her character quite a bit. That whole always fighting for your friends/family no matter what thing gets me every fucking time.

Then we have the main attraction, Jace. If you read my updates, I think it’s pretty obvious that I liked him from the start. There is just something about a hot, cocky, snarky, badass that just never fails to attraction my devotion. He kept me laughing through this somewhat serious book with his one liners and comebacks and complete confidence in his sexiness. And you can’t help but feel for the guy once you learn his back story. Team Jace, all the way.

The other is the other point in this particular triangle. Simon. I sympathized with him from the get go because he’s affection for Clary is rather obvious and I knew she’d never choose him. It’s almost an unwritten rule in the love triangles that they never pick the nicer guy who has always been there for them. Simon’s cute and totally geeky. He’s always ready with a Star Wars or D&D reference and even though I liked Jace more, I do hope Simon eventually finds his happily ever after.

All the other characters were equally interesting, from Luke to Hodge to Isabelle & Alec. I especially enjoyed Magnus Bane. Hodge’s character gets an irritated eyeroll ****SPOILER****because OF COURSE he’s the fucking bad guy, or at least, of course he is working for the bad guy. He’s casting choice for the film alone told me. He’s played by Jared Harris and he’s NEVER a good guy. I felt a little disappointed because that’s a running theme in everything lately, to have the “friend” be the bad guy or the helpful side character. I get it, it’s a good plot line and it keeps you guess, but could be leave it out for a bit?****END SPOILER****

The writing was great, the plotline wasn’t overly original, but it definitely wasn’t the same one we keep getting over and over. What really irked me was the love triangle? Square? Pentagram? For the first half of the book it felt like everyone liked Jace and/or Clary and it got old really quickly. Luckily they are all over it by the end, so we don’t get too much time angsting over it, but it was still annoying. ****SPOILER****The sibling accusation between Jace & Clary didn’t garner more than an eyeroll. I know it isn’t true and even if I didn’t have a little sister who let me in on that secret before I started this, I still would have known. There is too much passion between the two and this series has too many fans for that to be the case. Just no. No Flowers In The Attic for me, thank you.****END SPOILER****

On the whole, this is an immensely enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone looking for an addictive thrill-ride, with some interesting, if a little predictable, twists.

Review for Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy #4) by Jennifer Estep

Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

TITLE: Spartan Frost
SERIES: Mythos Academy #4
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
PUBLICATION DATE: December 24, 2012
PUBLISHER: K-Teen, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp
PAGES: 354 pages
FORMAT: Ebook
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 4 stars

Things are finally working out for Gwen. Sure, Loki has escaped from his eternal prison, but her and Logan finally seem to be on the same page, going out on their first date. Things are looking up…until Logan’s dad arrives with the Proctorate to arrest her for freeing Loki. And everyone at school, beyond a handful of friends and a few teachers believe she really did intentionally help free Loki. Now, she is going to trial to and things don’t look good. Can she convince the Proctorate that she is innocent?

I have to say that this is my favorite so far in this series. It still doesn’t get 5 stars because the ending leaves something to be desired ****SPOILER****what, with Logan leaving and all****END SPOILER****, but it was very entertaining and addictive. Gwen’s back with her normal spunkiness, even with the entire school torturing her and the Powers That Were hounding her for freeing Loki. It weighs down on her a lot, but that doesn’t stop her from being determined to figure out why Reapers broke into the school just to steal some jewelry and who is behind this whole plot to get her thrown in jail for Vivian’s crimes.

We get to see a bit more of Grandma’s kickass-ness. Man, I love that little old lady. And then there is all the extra Logan time we get….yeah do I really need to comment? Sure, he’s cocky and overly self-assured, but he always manages to keep Gwen happy and smiling even at the worst of times and really what more can you ask for? The romance between those two is totally swoon-worthy. I’ve also got to hand it to Estep for keeping me in the dark for a lot of this. Maybe I was denser than I normally am, but I didn’t see the ending coming until Gwen figures it out and I didn’t suspect a certain someone of being a reaper at all until Gwen revealed that he/she was.

This is a great installment of the Mythos Academy series and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Review for Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2) by Jennifer Estep

Kiss Of Frost by Jennifer Estep

TITLE: Kiss Of Frost
SERIES: Mythos Academy #2
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
PUBLICATION DATE: November 29, 2011
PUBLISHER: K-Teen, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp
PAGES: 337 pages
FORMAT: Ebook
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 4 stars

Gwen Frost’s life just got worse. It’s bad enough to be stuck at Mythos Academy, where all the kids are decedents of ancient warriors, but now, she’s also forced into extra hours of weapons training, to help her learn to defend herself. Oh yeah, and the extra sessions are taught by none other than her crush, Logan, who rejected her proposal to date. Trying to stay focused is difficult enough without his gorgeous face to distract her. Add to that the fact that the Reapers of Chaos are out to get her, and this is definitely bound to be an interesting semester.

Just like the last one, Gwen’s spunky personality had me instantly sympathizing with her. Her comic book and sugar addictions, not to mention the strong compulsion to know everybody’s secrets and I just couldn’t get enough. Her snappy comebacks always made me laugh and her struggle to get over Logan had be both rooting for her and hoping she’d fail…because I mean, COME ON, her and Logan belong together and it had better fucking happen before this series ends.

The side characters are as amusing as ever, though I do feel like Daphne got pushed to the side a little. She was too wound up in her new boyfriend to be overly involved, though she isn’t completely absent, just a bit distracted. We get to see just a bit more of Logan and the fact that we don’t get a LOT more of him was a rather large disappointment. Gwen also makes a new friend in this one, towards the end, and I have to say that I think I’m going to love him. He’s quite an unlikely friend and I was taken aback a little, but I already like him quite a bit.

Part of the plot was a completely shock ****SPOILER****the thing about Oliver****END SPOILER**** and part of it was utterly predictable ****SPOILER****the thing with the reaper.****END SPOILER**** The biggest reason this gets four stars instead of five is that the beginning was very slow and felt outright condescending at times. In the beginning of this, we get so many recaps of book 1 that I felt like I was reading an extended summary of it instead of a completely new book. I understand that authors want to make sure people who didn’t read book one can understand the plot, but you can leave somethings a mystery to make them wish to read the first one a bit more. Or at the very least, not describe multiple things in completely detail! I mean, I did actually read book one and I do remember quite a bit from it, especially the major plot points and the fact that Gwen cannot touch people because her psychometry gives her flashes whether she wants them or not. You don’t need to repeat that fact every single time Gwen refuses to touch someone or allow herself to be touched or even in close proximity to others.

Beyond that, this novel was wholly enjoyable, especially once you get past the first half because things really pickup quickly in the second half. Once you get to the halfway point, it’s pretty difficult to put down. One thing is for sure, I’m definitely going to be reading the next installment.

Review for Saint Dragon Girl, Vol. 01 (Saint Dragon Girl #1) by Natsumi Matsumoto

Saint Dragon Girl: Volume 1 by Natsumi Matsumoto

TITLE: Saint Dragon Girl: Volume 1
SERIES: Saint Dragon Girl #1
AUTHOR: Natsumi Matsumoto
PUBLICATION DATE: December 2, 2008
PUBLISHER: VIZ Media
PAGES: 200 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 stars

My very first manga. I must confess that I’ve never gotten into them before. I took several different Japanese language classes in high school, but never could get into manga or anime, despite my best efforts. However, a few weeks ago, I came across a used book store that had a great selection of manga and decided to give it another go. I must say I’m rather satisfied with this decision because this was adorably cute and very funny.

Momoka Sendou and Ryuga Kou have been friends since childhood and though it’s clear to everyone that there is a deeper attraction there, Momoka refuses to acknowledge it. This makes for quite a few embarrassing, hilarious moments. Ryuga seems to be aware of her attraction and is constantly teasing her about it, but when danger strikes, he’s always there to save her. It’s a pretty amusing fantasy type manga with adorable drawings. It also has the appeal of being one of the few mangas I’ve seen that features a protagonist with a small bust.

I have already purchases the next two in this series and can’t wait to dive in. Momoka and Ryuga better end up together in the end!

Review for Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep

Touch Of Frost by Jennifer Estep

TITLE: Touch Of Frost
SERIES: Mythos Academy #1
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2011
PUBLISHER: K-Teen, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp
PAGES: 350 pages
FORMAT: Ebook
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 4 stars

Gwen Frost is that weird girl that just doesn’t fit in anywhere. She’s Mythos Academy’s newest student, but unlike everyone else, all she has is psychometry, a fancy way of saying she gets flashes off touching things and/or people. Her lack of flashier gifts is what sets her apart. Everyone at this school is a Spartan or a Valkerie, here with the sole purpose of learning and being trained to fight a war with Loki who is still imprisoned, but always trying to escape. Gwen isn’t sure why her grandmother is forcing her to attend this school since her mother’s death, but one she knows she stands out. Then a fellow classmate dies and while everyone else is busy brushing it off and getting on with their lives, Gwen is struck by the feeling that they are all missing something big and she is determined to figure out what that is.

This is one of those YA mythological fantasy novels with a big mystery and just a hint of a budding romance. It’s completely enthralling and I loved it. Gwen is everything you could want in a heroine, spunky and quirky and completely misunderstood. She reminds me quite a bit of Veronica Mars though at some point in the novel she says she isn’t as crafty as our dear Veronica. She’s forced into a school where she is the school freak for have less strange abilities than her fellow classmates and can’t make a friend to save her life. Nobody likes her, nobody wants to talk to her, and nobody cares about her. Instead of spending the novel bitching and moaning about it, she just kinda goes with it. Nobody likes her? Fine, she’s better off without those snotty rich kids anyway. She’s that underdog that you can’t help but root for.

I also really liked Daphne. Estep could have easily put her in the category of bitchy rich girl and left it at that, but she doesn’t. Daphne’s true colors are hiding under the surface and they are a girly pink with hints of a computer nerd who is really sick of the fucking backstabbing community of Valkeries she has always been a part of. After a little pushing, it is clear that her and Gwen are meant to be BFFs.

Then there is the character that I’m a little on the fence about, Logan. Initially I adored him, with his bad boy looks and attitude, not the mention his reputation as a man-whore and his quippish dialogue with Gwen. I loved him more when he saves her life not once, but twice. The part where my love for him starts to diminish is how after every step forward he and Gwen take, he always assumes the standoff brutish attitude. ****SPOILER****Add that to the speech at the end about how he likes Gwen but they can never be together because there are things about him that she doesn’t know and shouldn’t ever know and I was rolling my eyes and nicknaming him “Edward” in my head. This is also part of why this gets four stars instead of five, because I HATE it when they do that.****END SPOILER****

One of the other many things I loved about this was the fact that we don’t stick to your basic overused mythological figures, or even stick to one type, seeing Greek and Norse gods, and more than one that I have never heard of before. No Aphrodite or Thor or Zeus to be found here, opting for much more obscure references, only throwing in a handful of popularized ones. I also loved the writing style and how I felt like I was in Gwen’s head a lot of the time, bouncing around along with her insecurities. My only issue with this, beyond Logan’s idiotic moments, was the lack of romance. I would have preferred just a touch more romance between Logan and Gwen, but since this is the first in a series, I’m sure we’ll get to see it eventually!

This is a wholly enjoyable novel and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys YAs, mythology, and a good mystery.

Review for The Sweet Dead Life (Sweet Dead Life #1) by Joy Preble

The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

TITLE: The Sweet Dead Life
SERIES: Sweet Dead Life #1
AUTHOR: Joy Preble
PUBLICATION DATE: May 14, 2013
PUBLISHER: Soho Teen, An imprint of Soho Press Inc
PAGES: 244 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

Jenna Samuels’ eighth grade year isn’t going exactly how she planned. She’s dying and the doctor’s cannot figure out what’s wrong with her. Then she has a seizure and on the way to the hospital, gets into a car wreck where she is sure she sees her brother die. But when she wakes up in the hospital, Casey is just fine, better in fact. He’s hair and skin have visibly improved and he’s belly has magically transformed into six pack abs. What the fuck, right. Apparently Casey is an A-word (Jenna cannot bring herself to say “angel” just yet) and he was sent back from heaven to find out who is poisoning her and why.

I’ve been avoiding writing this review just a little. It was partly because I was already caught up in another amazing book and wanted to continue with it and partly because I’m not exactly sure what to say. This book was very good and entertaining, but I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly why, even in my disconnected thoughts so having to put it into words is a bit difficult. I liked most of the characters. Jenna’s smartass attitude and slight potty mouth (she does cuss some, but never says anything truly foul, in my opinion) had me relating to her within the first few pages. She is a bit repetitive, but let’s face it, what 14 year old girl isn’t? Casey was a very interesting character and I loved that becoming an angel didn’t just magically solve all his problems. He still has to work and go to school and try to kick his pot addiction, but with the added bonus of being much more attractive. I loved the obvious affection between the two of them. In the beginning, Jenna complains about him quite a bit, but it’s clear that she loves him a great deal.

I think the reason that this is so hard for me is because it was intensely interesting and then quite a bit boring and then interesting again. In the beginning, when they were trying to figure out what was wrong with Jenna, I was addicted. Call me a House MD addict, but I loved that. Once you find out that she is being poisoned, which is pretty early on, I was bored. Who was poisoning her? Sure, I was curious, but it wasn’t a driving need. She whole plot sort of slowed and the self-deprecating death humor disappeared because Casey was in fact dead now. Then, you start to unravel the mystery of why her dad left and what’s wrong with mommy dearest and things got very interesting again, if a little predictable. ****SPOILER****I mean, let’s be honest, when they figure out mom is being poison as well, but with a different poison than Jenna and go into the search to discover what Mom consumed that Jenna and Casey didn’t, who didn’t know exactly what was poisoning her and who was behind it?****END SPOILER**** The ending was good, with all the mysteries solved, but I was so highly disappointed with their dad and even more disappointed that Jenna wasn’t angrier with him. ****SPOILER****Yes, his disappearance was beyond his control, with the whole memory erasing drug thing, but he started remembering MONTHS ago and didn’t even bother checking on his wife or kids. Not once did it cross his mind that mmm maybe my wife can’t afford all the bills and they are living in the gutter or maybe my son had to give up the things he loved just to keep them afloat? Worst. Father. Ever. Man the fuck up dude!****END SPOILER****

Really, this was an interest story with great characters and pretty amusing writing. If you want a pretty good mystery, this is for you!

****Thank you to Soho Teen, An imprint of Soho Press Inc for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

Review for School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

TITLE: School Spirits
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins
PUBLICATION DATE: May 14, 2013
PUBLISHER: Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group
PAGES: 297 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 stars

Izzy Brannick’s life has been anything but ordinary. She has been trained to fight monsters since she was old enough to walk and she’s pretty good at it. After a botched first solo job (really, how hard should capturing a vampire alone be?!?), Izzy’s mom decides to give her an easier task, catching a high school haunting ghost and laying her to rest. For this task, she must enroll in high school, a much scarier task altogether. Izzy quickly learns that this isn’t your typical haunting….and that when this is all over, her newfound friends will be hard to leave behind.

This novel is exactly what you’d expect a spinoff of Hex Hall to be. It’s mysterious and monstrous and funny and endearing and heartbreaking. Izzy isn’t as quick with the one-liners as Sophie was, but she’s just as spunky and funny and relatable. She’s easy to sympathize with as she navigates the treacherous halls of high school for the first time, making friends and trying to pass all her classes. Trying to balance that with witch hunting with the school’s paranormal group who are so clueless it’s all Izzy can do not to laugh in their face.

Torin was another great character and a great mystery. You never quite know what he is up to or what he wants, besides being freed from his mirror prison. The affection between him and Izzy is obvious but it’s unclear if it is of a romantic nature for the most part. I personally think the love triangle aspect will be played up in the next novel (especially considering that’s how it happened in the Hex Hall series), but I guess we’ll wait and see.

My favorite character though, has to be Dex. I thought I loved Torin’s character, and then Dex showed up and my mind was completely changed. I LOVE Dex. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

He’s funny and smart and self-assured and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about him, except his small circle of friends. He’s just so damn quirky and adorable and, just wow. I’ve never been one for fashion, but this boy with his pinstripe pants, purple pea coat, and an endless supply of scarves fashioned into cravats definitely won my attention right off the bat. Any guy who even knows what the word cravat means in this day and age would probably catch my attention! ::swoons:: For once, it isn’t the guy who rushes in to save the girl, because Dex isn’t really capable of that, with is severe asthma, but damned if he still isn’t noble as hell.

The rest of the cast was just as interesting, if not as amazing. Romy is unique and geeky and adorable, if a little obsessive and strange. Watching her and Anderson dance around their obvious attraction to one another was a fun little side story! Aislinn, Izzy’s mom, was annoying and overbearing, but ultimately tried to do right by her one remaining daughter.

The story was a bit predictable to me. I pegged it pretty early on who had summoned the witch, but I still didn’t see exactly how so there is a lot of mystery. The whole thing with Dex at the end was shocking as hell! I mean hes….he was…it….well, I won’t spoil it for you guys, but just be prepared because it’s a bit of a doozy. I was pleasantly surprised that this contained neither a love triangle nor a cliffhanger. Though I think Izzy’s is attracted to Torin and just refuses to admit it, it never comes into play. As for the ending, the entire main plot of the novel wraps up nicely, leaving loose ends only on major things that you should have known wouldn’t be wrapped up in a single novel.

This novel was exactly what I needed, a book that I had high expectations for that definitely lived up to them. I recommend it to everyone who enjoyed Hex Hall and all YA paranormal lovers.

****Thank you to Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for [technically] DEAD (DEAD[ish] #2) by Naomi Kramer

(Technically) Dead by Naomi Kramer

TITLE: (Technically) Dead
SERIES: Dead(ish) #2
AUTHOR: Naomi Kramer
PUBLICATION DATE: October 29, 2010
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 100 pages
FORMAT: Ebook
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 stars

Cooper’s dead and is shocked as hell to discover that Heaven is technologically challenged with not a single computer in site. Fuck that, he quickly returns back to Earth to walk around bored and confused until Linda shows up with orders from on high to help his lardass find peace.

I was a huge fan of the first story in this series, Dead(ish) and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. Though I don’t particularly like Cooper, he’s story was quite amusing and you still get plenty of Linda’s bad attitude to help it along. Trent also makes an appearance and that had me over the moon because I loved him in the first one. My only complaint is that this seemed shorter than the first one. But then, I felt like the first one was a bit short as well….and it’s probably only because I just want more of Linda & Trent!

If you liked Dead(ish) or are into comedic stories with tons of foul language, this is definitely for you!