Review for Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

TITLE: Biggest Flirts
SERIES: Superlatives #1
AUTHOR: Jennifer Echols
PUBLICATION DATE: May 20, 2014
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Tia is just looking for a senior year of fun. She’s a perfect flirt and has a hard-earned reputation as a party girl. She isn’t looking for anything serious as she has seen where that could lead to and wants no part of it. The first order of business on this year’s list of guys to fool around with is Will. Will, however, is looking for something serious. He is a stand-up guy and doesn’t much go for the love ’em and leave ’em hookups. When Tia refused to date him, he looks elsewhere, putting Tia in an awful position. Does she want him for herself enough to get over her fears or will she let him go and move on?

Tia was a character I instantly loved. Though I don’t have much in common with her, I love that a character like her has finally made her way into YA literature. She’s smart and confident and not a virgin. She’s the heroine who is okay with noncommittal hookups and is terrified of a relationship. For all intents and purposes, she is the typical YA male. I loved the role reversal. I loved that she wasn’t looking for more, that she was scared of more. She has good reason to be, seeing how her sisters lives have turned out. I also love that she hides her amazing drummer skills. She intentionally misses a beat or two so she isn’t the lead drummer and doesn’t have to tackle those responsibilities. She doesn’t want this. She is scared she’ll suck at them. I love that she is confident and not at the same time. I just love her.

Will is adorable in his attentions to persuade her into a relationship. Their friendship/whatever the hell it really is, is the stuff dreams are made of. I loved them together from the start. He’s so sweet, even from the start that I couldn’t help but love him. I’m a sucker for a sweetheart. He does what he can to help Tia, even when she’s being a bitch. He doesn’t take it all lying down, though, standing up when he thinks it’s appropriate and sometimes even when it’s not.
It feels so good to read another great Jennifer Echols story. I was a bit worried after I read her adult contemporary romance and didn’t love it. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t come close to the awesomeness that she portrays in her YA’s and I thought maybe she was losing her touch. But this proves that is not the case. Maybe I’m just not a fan of normal contemporary romance or maybe that was a fluke, but either way, this novel was fantastic.
9th Doctor Fantastic Gif

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

The writing is great, the story is interesting, and all the characters felt very well rounded. My only issue was that Tia and Will play the break up and get back together game a bunch. That always irritates me. Tia has her reasons for shying away from commitment, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying for me. Either you like him enough to get over it or you don’t, but pick one.

What you really need to know is that this novel has everything you’d expect from Jennifer Echols. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s sweet. It’s the perfect combination of heart-warming and heart-breaking. It’s the perfect contemporary YA romance that breaks the tradition of virginity = good, smart girl. Tia is flirty and fun and not ashamed of how active (or inactive) her sex life may be. She’s a great role model for teens, in my humble opinion.

****Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Deviant (Blood & Roses #1) by Callie Hart

Deviant by Callie Hart

TITLE: Deviant
SERIES: Blood & Roses #1
AUTHOR: Callie Hart
PUBLICATION DATE: February 20, 2014
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 116 pages
FORMAT: Ebook
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Sloane is determined to do whatever necessary to find her sister. She is willing to do indecent things, make trades, do favors, whatever it takes. Zeth knows he can help her. He can get the information she needs, but what will be the cost of his assistance?

Here’s the dead, I don’t really know what to say here. I don’t review many erotica novels for this exact reason. The template for this review has been sitting in my drafts folder for months because I don’t really know what to say. How to you review erotica? There’s smut and smut and…oh yeah! More smut! I have no problem reading it, but what to say to all you waiting for my thoughts? Ummm…I like smut?

It is a dark little story with endless amounts of…wait…you guessed it, smut and an intriguing mystery. I want Sloane to find her sister and I’m not yet sure how I feel about Zeth. He seems to be the controlling alpha male type dominant (hehehe) in erotica and I’m not the biggest fan of that type. I am an adult and I am fully capable of making my own decisions and I don’t need some tough guy bossing me around. I don’t understand how women find that attractive.

The mystery is good, but you don’t really get enough to go on. This is a novella, so it’s tiny. It gives you just enough to make you want more and then it stops. It’s like that whole shtick drug dealers have. I give you a taste for free and then you’re hooked and begging for more!

What you really need to know is this: it’s a pretty decent novel. I still haven’t read the next one, but I’m curious enough now that I definitely want to. Be warned, however, that this is smut. This is intense smut. If you can’t handle the sex scenes in normal romance, then steer clear of this thing.

4 bows
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Review for A Shimmer Of Angels (Angel Sight #1) by Lisa M Basso

A Shimmer Of Angels by Lisa M Basso

TITLE: A Shimmer Of Angels
SERIES: Angel Sight #1
AUTHOR: Lisa M Basso
PUBLICATION DATE: January 29, 2013
PUBLISHER: Month9Books, LLC
PAGES: 321 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 2 bows

Rayna has been seeing angels since her mothers death. Believing the visions are hallucinations, she is quickly shipped off the the mental hospital to get better. Now, she has been released with a clean bill of health (provided she take her meds) and is now starting high school. The problem? She has quit her meds and is now seeing angel wings attached to the new kid at school. Then a kid at school commits suicide and Ray’s life changes. The angels are not only real, but dark ones are responsible for the suicides. The angels need Rayna’s help to save her classmates, but is she up to the task?

Ray was a character I was on the fence about. I loved the fact that she thought she was crazy. It’s the natural response when you start seeing things that aren’t supposed to be real, but it’s one we don’t see in YA much. Most YA heroine’s just accept that the things are real with little to no convincing. My problem initially started when I learned she was off her meds. You are finally at a point that you have stopped “hallucinating” and you just decide it’s not worth it anymore? We don’t get much of a reason she stops the meds beyond the normal “bad side-effects” excuse. This always bugs me and it’s a decision I can’t understand. The meds are meant to help you and you are just giving up on that help. I get that for the plot of this novel to move forward, she has to be able to see the wings and discover that angels are real, but it was a flimsy reason for me. I know all medicine has side effects. My husband is bipolar, so trust me, I get it. But either you want to get better or you don’t and I have a hard time relating to a character that throws away her chance for better.

The males, Cam and Kade, are nothing new or excited. The same basic points in a normal YA love triangle. Cam is the good guy, the angel, and Kade is the supposed bad guy, the fallen angel, but who isn’t all that bad. These two were the start of another problem. I hate love triangles. I was pleasantly surprised when Ray’s male BFF, Lee, doesn’t make a play for Ray. I breathed a sigh of relief to avoid that particular cliche because I hate to see the nice friend character lose, but it’s not here. That avoided, I was sure the love triangle element would be avoided, but no such luck. Not long after Cam enters the picture, Kade shows up. Kade, by the way, is clearly the better choice. Cam is righteous and silent and just blah. I wasn’t a fan. Whereas Kade actually helps Ray when she needs him and pushes her to stay safe instead of pushing her to help with a cause that will obviously put her in danger.

The writing was decent enough, but the plot was wholly predictable. It starts off pretty interesting. The premise of the novel, with a “crazy” heroine was pretty attractive when I requested it and it starts off on that angle, with Ray fighting for sanity and completely believing she is crazy. Angels aren’t real. People don’t have wings. It’s just a hallucination brought on by the stress of her mom’s death and she needs to stay away from stressful situations (and stay on her meds!). I felt like that was a believable storyline, the type that would really happen if I started seeing blindingly bright wings attached to people that no one else could see. We get a crazy heroine, a spunky best friend, and the normal family drama that would go with the crazy. Great start, really, it was difficult to put down for the first 50 or so pages. And then it was like Basso forgot was she was doing. From that point on, it’s all the typical YA stereotypes shoved into one. We get the love triangle, the bad boy vs good boy, the “unexplanable” connection, the heroine’s need to sacrifice herself to save her friends/family, and several more wrapped into one. It felt like Twilight and Fallen had mashed together to create a new and boring tale. I don’t even understand how Ray manages to fall for Cam. He’s there a good bit in the beginning, but I didn’t feel them connect at all, whereas I could definitely feel the tension between her and Kade.

With this book I feel like the author set out to write a new and different YA angel novel and then either forgot that was her goal or became self-conscious about the ability of the idea to succeed. I feel like it was trying too hard to give people what they wanted as opposed to following where the characters lead. It has great potential, but there was just no follow through. It could have been epic and different and new, but instead feel prey to the same tired YA troupes we see constantly. I think people who loved Fallen or other basic angel stories will love it, but if you are looking for something different, this definitely isn’t it.

****Thank you to Month9Books LLC for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

2 bows
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Review for The Brokenhearted (The Brokenhearted #1) by Amelia Kahaney

The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

TITLE: The Brokenhearted
SERIES: The Brokenhearted #1
AUTHOR: Amelia Kahaney
PUBLICATION DATE: October 8, 2013
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: Hardback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 2 bows

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS…LOTS OF SPOILERS. ALSO LOTS OF BAD LANGUAGE (WHICH SHOULD BE EXPECTED). YOU MAY PROCEED!

Anthem Fleet was just a normal rich girl with a pushy boyfriend, barely there parents, and a drive to be the best prima ballerina she can be…..until she sneaks out for a party, meets a new boy who subsequently get’s kidnapped for ransom causing her to run away and fall into a lake where she is saved by a boy who takes her to a crazy doctor who gives her a chimeric heart because she’ll die otherwise. Then she goes all vigilante to save the oh so special boy and get vengeance on the people who took him in the first place.

Before I get started with the usual shenanigans that are involved in my angry reviews, I want to get something out of the way. I’m going to try something new here. Since talking with Lauren about this book and how absolutely insane it is, I have been inspired to make it a themed gif post. All the gifs used here will be taken from the Nostalgia Critic. This will happen for two reasons. The first being I’m a huge fan. The second is that this book inspired Doug Walker level rage and I feel his expressions can help me express my feelings to you. If it goes well, I may attempt to do more gif themed reviews, but we shall see. Also, instead of just giving you my thoughts, I’m going to walk you through the novel and it’s craziness. This may go horrible wrong, but I’ll never know unless I try. Now, back to the review.

We start off with Anthem whining about life. She is a replacement kid, you see. Her parents had another daughter who died and they had Anthem to replace the dead one. So we see her parents pressure her to fit into Rachel’s (the dead one) mold even though they are ssssoooo different (Hint: they really aren’t). She is supposed to attend this fancy party with her parents and meet up with her boyfriend of several years, but since he has been pressuring her to sleep with him and she doesn’t want to, she lies and tells her parents she is sick and stays home. Then she sneaks out with her friend and goes to a rave. She meets Gavin, a oh so hot, but sweet and sensitive, guy. The two talk a little and then the police break up the party so they get separated and she assumes she won’t see him again. Up until this point, I was fine. The novel was okay, but not amazing. Then we get to the next bit.

Anthem realizes that she doesn’t really want to be with Will because her night with Gavin showed her better things are possible, so she dumps him. She goes to ballet practice as normal and Gavin is waiting outside for her. Now, at the party, Anthem didn’t give him any of her info besides a fake name and the general direction of her home. The fact that he was able to find her suggests stalker tendencies because he had no logical way of knowing we she’d be. But Anthem, being the idiot that she is, is just overjoyed to see him and skips Ballet practice (something she’s never done before) to spend time with him. She ends up skipping practice all week, telling her instructor that she has an injured ankle which the instructor believes without any kind of corroboration from a doctor or her parents, to continue hanging out. Now, at the end of this single week, she follows Gavin home and gives him her virginity because she loves him so much.
Doug Walker isn't that just precious gif

That’s right, Will, the obnoxious boyfriend of years doesn’t deserve it, but guy of the one week knowledge is worth it. After they get it on, things get really interesting. Or maybe interesting isn’t the right word because there was no point in this novel where I would have had a problem sitting it down for something else. But anyway, things take an unexpected turn with thugs break in and kidnap Gavin. They tell Anthem to get them an exorbitant amount of money by Friday or they’ll kill precious Gavin. They leave and Anthem tries to run back home, but gets accosted by a hobo. Then Ford, another random guy, saves her and tells her that she needs to give him a reward for such an act.
Doug Walker Sorry gif
Thinking he is a creep, she runs off again and ends up falling off a bridge into a river that kills her. But oh so heroic Ford jumps in and saves her and takes her to his demented doctor friend who gives her a heart transplant to save her. She gets a chimeric heart and she’s all healed.
Doug Walker thinking gif
Now, when Anthem awakens, she realizes several days have passed. She runs home, against the good doctor’s recommendation, to beg her parents for the money to save Gavin. She decides they don’t need to know about her death and surgery and new heart. She begs them to save Gavin, but they refuse because they won’t negotiate with terrorists and they’ll probably just demand more money anyway.

Anthem then steals some of her mom’s jewelry to try to negotiate with them. Her family’s body guard, Serge, helps her in this endeavor, volunteering to go in and make the trade. This goes badly and Anthem swoops in the save him because her chimeric heart gives her many new abilities. She’s super fast, super strong, super healing…basically a lot of supers. Why does the chimeric heart allow her to do these things? I don’t fucking know. It’s never explained!
Doug Walker illogical gif

Anyway, after that she decides to find the baddies on her own because she doesn’t want anyone else she loves to get hurt. Meanwhile, in normal life, because she is a teenager and that means parents and school and drama, Will is black mailing her into being his girlfriend. Apparently after she dumped him he planted a camera in her room and recorded her acting like a chimeric heart freak and says if she doesn’t pretend to date him, he’ll post it online so the world can see what she really is. Instead of using her new found abilities to sneak into his home, beat him senseless, and take his computer with the files, she angrily agrees to his plan. Because she is powerless against him?
Doug Walker shrugs gif

So in real life she is going through the motions and in night life, she is using Ford to help her hunt down Gavin’s kidnappers. They find him, she goes to save him, he gets shot through the heart and dies. At which point I just freak the fuck out.
Doug Walker the hell was that gif
You make such a big deal about the instalove and how she can’t let him die and then just like that, you shoot him and it’s game over? Interesting. That wasn’t a twist I saw coming. I don’t like it, but kudos to you for shocking me. After that, Anthem goes into a short depression and then a rage filled training session with Ford to learn to fight. I personally think this is useless because she has super-human strength and super-human speed and super-human healing, so the basics are combat aren’t really necessary, but hey, it’s your life! She takes out the gang that killed Gavin one by one. When she gets to the ringleader chick, she actually kills her. The others she just gift wraps for the police, but the girl who actual shot Gavin gets to die.

Her quest is complete, so the novels over, right?
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No? Damn. Anthem, despite missing all those practices, is the lead in the ballet’s performance of Giselle. She performs and then finds a note about the boss of the gang that the kidnappers worked for is going to be at a party and she should go and handle him. And she does. Anyone wanna guess who the boss is?
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It’s Gavin! He’s not really dead! He faked his death and used Anthem to get her money!
Doug Walker HA! gif
Apparently Anthem is dumber than we thought because even though he dies in her arms, she doesn’t notice the fake blood or how it’s cold or possibly how he is still fucking breathing!
Doug Walker are you even trying gif
But yeah, they fight, he shoots Ford, who followed Anthem to save her and Gavin gets away while Anthem rushes Ford to his crazy doctor friend. Don’t worry people, he is fine. She uses her super-sleuth abilities…
Doug Walker SHHH! gif
to find Gavin and throws him off a cliff, killing him. Then she realizes that her dad is in cahoots with Gavin and his gang and book over!

Oh! And somewhere in the middle, Anthem convince’s Will’s parents that he is on drugs and needs help so they ship him off to rehab while she makes off with is damning video! YAYAY!

Doug Walker I need my fuckital gif

The problem with this besides the insta-love and love triangle (rectangle?) and the crazy plot and my annoyance (read: hatred) for the lead character, is the complete lack of world building. It is apparent that this does not take place in modern day America (or modern day anywhere). It’s obvious that it’s a dystopian world of some kind. But we never get anymore information than that.
Doug Walker remember me? gif
Just like an explanation for why a chimeric heart suddenly allows her to do so many new things, we get no explanation about this world. We get no background or history on when things changed or why or how. We get nothing to explain away the crazy people names and don’t even get me started on the names for the drugs people take.
Doug Walker see the problem? gif

What it comes down to is this novel was a big mess. It gets 2 stars instead of one because the last 50 pages or so were very intense and interesting and I like that she realizes what an idiot she was in the beginning with Gavin. This novel is billed as The Dark Knight meets Cinder and in that respect it fails hopelessly. It resembles neither work. It fails on all counts, barely keeping me motivated enough to put in the effort to finish it. And now I have to read the sequel because I requested it for review. This novel is why I’m going to stop doing that. I’m only going to request first books or books in a series I have already started to avoid having to force myself to read something I’m pretty sure I’m not going to enjoy.

So there you have it! My very first novel walk through! What did you think? Did you like the themed gifs? Did you hate them? Are you also a Nostalgia Critic fan? Inquiring minds need to know! Mostly just I need to know, but I’m sure someone else out there is curious!

2 bows
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Review for Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

TITLE: Attachments
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
PUBLICATION DATE: April 14, 2011
PUBLISHER: PENGUIN GROUP Plume
PAGES: 336 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC / Audiobook
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley / Borrowed
RATING: 5 bows

Lincoln is the newsroom’s internet security officer. It sounds like a great title and when he applied for the job, he thought he would be building firewalls and securing company data. This, however, is not the case. Lincoln is paid to not only read through any flagged emails, but his boss openly encourages him to snoop through the employees emails and computers anytime the mood strikes, to keep people from wasting valuable time while at work. He absolutely hates it. Then Beth Fremont & Jennifer Scribner-Snyder’s email conversations get flagged and he can’t bring himself to report them. They are witty and heart-felt and enrapturing. By the time he realizes that he is falling for Beth, it’s much too late to just walk up and introduce himself. Is there possible relationship doomed or with Lincoln find a way to make it work?

All the main characters in this novel are equally lovable. Lincoln had adorable geeky nature and an addiction to school, which is an addiction I can completely understand. He can’t stop. He has finally gotten out into the real world with a job and he still finds himself eventually taking more classes at a community college. He just loves to learn, something I think all nerds can relate to. He’s so earnest and sweet and he hates feeling like a peeping tom by reading people’s emails….except with Beth & Jennifer, or maybe even more so with these two, but he can’t stop. The more he reads, the more attached he becomes and the more he wants to learn about these two.

Beth and Jennifer themselves are just as awesome. Beth’s obsession with cinema and her rocker boyfriend keep you wondering and Jennifer’s struggle with her husband’s desire to have a baby when she doesn’t feel ready is wholly relatable to me. Not that I’m at the point when my husband is demanding a baby, just that I wonder if that’s how I’m going to be when it’s really time to start having kids. Kids scare the shit out of me, they can be little monsters. But, that’s beside the point! Jennifer’s struggle makes the novel easier to relate to and Beth’s wit makes it funny. This is a girl who manages to make me laugh out loud with every snide comment. You don’t realize that shit is about to get serious until halfway through when it does start to get serious.

One of the things that was entirely lovable about this story is that it is an awkward romance that isn’t really a romance. The story if largely about Lincoln and Beth and if Lincoln will find a way to confess his feelings to Beth (and if it’ll work out), but you don’t get any of the over the top romance smexy scenes. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a sexy scene just as much as the next romance addict, but it was refreshing to see one focus more on the relationship rather than the bow chicka wow wow. So for all of you romance-phobs, don’t worry, you’ll find no bad euphemisms here.

I started this novel with a little trepidation. It sounded interesting and I really wanted to read it, but it’s my first Rainbow Rowell book and I’ve been told not all of her novels end happily. I like happy endings, in fact, that are required. So the closer I got to the end, the more I worried if this would all work out as beautifully as I imagined. For all those with the same fears, this works out well. It’s exactly the ending you hope for.
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The only issue I had with this was a very tiny one. The name bugged me. The whole novel, I was expecting things to be attached to the emails, but nothing ever was. I think there was a singular time that there was an attachment and that bugged me a bunch. I think the meaning of the title was more of the attachments people form, but I just felt a bit mislead because I was expected actual email attachments to at least be mentioned in the novel. I know, it’s a stupid complaint, but it would have made the title that much more perfect.

The bottom line is that I loved this novel, a lot. It kept me smiling and laughing and crying and emoting in general the entire way through. We get to see a lot of ups and a couple of downs from the amazing people who I have formed and attachment to. It was the perfect starter novel in Rainbow’s writing and if I didn’t want to read her novels already, this novel alone would have me adding them to by TBR pile. I don’t know really know how else to articulate that. I loved it, it was amazing, go read it now, k?

****Thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Plume for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place #1) by Kelsey Sutton

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

TITLE: Some Quiet Place
SERIES: Some Quiet Place #1
AUTHOR: Kelsey Sutton
PUBLICATION DATE: July 8, 2013
PUBLISHER: Flux
PAGES: 331 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 4 bows

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions, she sees them. They have long given up on making her feel the effects of their touch. It doesn’t work and no one knows why. The only one who hasn’t given up is Fear, who spends too much time looking into her past and attempting to torment her with his touch. Elizabeth herself has come to depend on Fear’s company and chatter, but is he dependable as she needs? Can they unravel the mystery of her emotionless existence?

Elizabeth is an interesting character. She fakes her way through life, without experiencing any emotions, but she isn’t cruel. She tries to assimilate into high school culture and follows the social norms and rules, but is always just a little off. It’s hard to pretend to be ruled by emotions she doesn’t feel. She experiences nothing, not joy, not rage, not sorrow, not even lust. Pretty faced boys with oodles of muscles illicit no reaction. Fear, with his gorgeous face and obvious devotion to her, doesn’t bring anything to the table. And man, oh man, does she want to feel something for Fear.

Speaking of Fear….
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I love him. He’s diabolical and terrifying and absolutely amazing. He’s devotion to Elizabeth is swoon-inducing on it’s own because he’s so tenacious about it. He refuses to believe Elizabeth cannot feel any emotion. She feels, he knows she does, it’s just so very faint it’s hard to tell. Despite her insistence that she feels absolutely nothing, he manages to make her cry at a particular funeral. He is right about her on so many levels and I was rooting for him so hard it wasn’t funny.

I was rooting for him because this does have a dreaded love triangle.
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I know, I know, but they are unavoidable and this wasn’t even remotely alluded to in the description. I was a little miffed when I realized that was where this was heading.
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Okay, so maybe more than a little because I generally try to avoid love triangles because they are a source of rage for me. I hate the whole set up. I hate the two people fighting for one person and knowing that someone is going to end up unhappy. I want everyone to ride off into the sunset at the end, all shits and giggles. I know this is too much to ask, I’ve been told over and over again, but it’s still what I hope for, k?

ANYWAY, the other point in the love triangle is Joshua, a sweet, farm boy Elizabeth has known all her life who has finally worked up the guts to talk to her. I really liked him and had you put him up against any other male than Fear, he might have been who I rooted for, but Fear wins, hands down. He does nothing wrong and helps Elizabeth even when she’s particularly bitchy, but the connection with Fear was already established and that who I liked best. There isn’t really a logical reason behind this, I just liked one better. However, Joshua’s happiness is part of why it got 4 stars instead of 5. Joshua genuinely loves Elizabeth and that does not end well for him. I feel like he deserves to be happy and maybe he will be eventually, but not at this exact moment.

Another reason is the matter with Charles, Elizabeth’s brother, wasn’t finished well. They made up and started to work things out and she leaves without any resolution. I guess I just don’t understand why things had to end that particular way? I can’t say more with revealing spoilers, I don’t think, but after everything they went through, I hate that she leaves it the way she does. There is no logical reason to do so.

BUT, besides the two small issues, I loved this novel. It was impossible to put down and wholly entertaining. Within the first 20 or so pages, you get so much. I remember talking to Lauren about the two books I was reading last Saturday and saying that so far, The Brokenhearted was pretty good, but I was only 20 or so pages in. I said that this one was amazing so far and was talking about Fear and all the things that have happened so far and thinking, “Wow, I must have gotten further than I thought.” So I pulled it out of my purse to check and I was only on chapter 4. It’s an action packed ride that keeps you guess and begging for me. Fear stole my heart almost instantly and Elizabeth’s journey isn’t one I’ll soon forget.

All you really need to know is that the good far outweighs the bad. This has great writing, interesting characters, and a truly unique, well fleshed-out world. It will suck you in and won’t let you be until you have devoured every page!

4 bows
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Review for Drowned (Drowned #1) by Nichola Reilly

Drowned by Nichola Reilly

TITLE: Drowned
SERIES: Drowned #1
AUTHOR: Nichola Reilly (AKA Cyn Balog)
PUBLICATION DATE: June 24, 2014
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PAGES: 304 pages
FORMAT: ARC
SOURCE: Via author
RATING: 4.5 bows

Coe has been shunned her entire life. She lives on a small island, probably the last bit of humanity left, where the ocean’s tides threaten to wash them away. Every day they have to climb up onto a platform until the tides go out with the 400 or so other members of her clan. She is shunned because she is weak and deformed. Missing one arm means she’ll never be very useful. She can’t fish or fight or scavenge in her condition. All she is good for is cleaning the craphouse. Joy! She has accepted her lot in life until the king falls ill and she is taken on as the princess’s new lady-in-waiting. From there on, she learns that life on the island is not all it seems and maybe the truth will set them all free. Or maybe it will lead to their inevitable doom…all one way to find out!

When the story starts, Coe is far from that brave badass YA heroine we’ve been seeing a plethora of. She’s smart, but weak and scared and….whatever the opposite of badass is. I don’t want to say pathetic, because she definitely wasn’t, but maybe a little defeated? She had this sad attitude because she knew once her sixteenth hard season (comparable to 16th birthday) was upon her, her rank would go from the safest part of the platform, the the outer edges where she’d surely meet her death quickly. And it was completely refreshing to read from such a perspective. Right now, I’ve read a ton of novels about the brave and special girl who knows how to sword-fight or use a bow or is just a special little snow-flake who manages to save the world. While Coe does have a tinsy bit of the snowflake syndrome, she isn’t like any other YA heroine I’ve read. She isn’t utterly unique, she just believes in love which is an antiquated thing to these people and her love for others is what sets her apart, even if it isn’t immediately apparent. And her confidence builds throughout the novel when she gets more sure of herself.

Then we have sweet, brave, amazing Tiam.
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He’s kind and caring and tries to help everyone and a totally annoying good guy and somehow I fell for him anyway. He’s that “I’m good at everything, but I’m not rubbing it in your face” type. You know, that one who you love, but secretly you want to punch in the face because he’s so damned skilled at everything? That’s him. At first, I didn’t love him, but the further into the story I got, the more I wanted to see…which brings me to my next point…

This book has a cliffhanger…involving my sweet Tiam. For all of you who don’t know (and weren’t clued in by the author bit of this review), Nichola Reilly is a pseudonym for Cyn Balog. I have been incredibly spoiled in the past because all the novels I’ve read by her were standalones, meaning no cliffhangers. I went into this with expectation that that standard would be upheld, but no such luck. If you haven’t already read my spiel, I hate cliffhangers…a lot. I have kinda let it go a bit
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because everyone is doing it (which isn’t the best excuse) and if I hated anything that ended ambiguously, I wouldn’t be able to read any YA series at all until all the books were out. Sorry Cyn, I still love you! And I love this book! I just wasn’t a fan of the particular moment you chose to end on. On one hand, it was hopeful, but Tiam…..I can’t say more without spoilers. ::sobs:: Also, love triangle alert. It’s not one of those Bella Swan, I love both of you so desperately how could I ever chose?!?! ones, but it is there. One hot guy, two very different girls, may the odds be ever in your favor.

The rest of the cast was diverse. You have Fern who I absolutely adore. She so young and resilient and happy. Even when bad things happen, she bounces back to that smile pretty quickly, definitely quicker than I’d be able to. Then there is Star, the princess, who I liked? Hated? I’m not sure? This character’s personality jumps around so much, I wasn’t sure what to make of her and our leading lady feels about the same way. Everyone else is pretty much as asshat. Finn and the rest of the crazy villagers are just that, crazy. After the king dies, they seriously lose their shit and I wanted to smack all of them. How can you do this? What the hell is wrong with you? How is this going to solve anything?

One thing I was really blown away by here was the world. This is an incredibly unique world unlike anything I’ve ever read about before. These people have lost the ability to love or even care about their fellow man. They seem to be an entirely selfish group and they don’t care how others perceive them…not that there are others. They have lost the ability to read. Let me say that again, these people can’t read. Coe is the only person on the island who knows how, a secret she guards closely. I can’t imagine not being able to read. I get that in the scheme of things and in their life style it was a superfluous skill, especially when their books would all float away, but I’m just floored by that. I don’t think I could tolerate this world without the option to escape into fiction constantly!

This novel is near perfect, only failing short at the end with that cliffhanger (I know, I’m beating that point to death). The only thing that could have made it better is a bit more from the journal. Coe has a journal that several of her ancestors wrote in and I was very interested in learning more about them. I would love an epilogue or a novella or something along those lines that is just a story (or several stories) from that journal. It has everything I have come to expect from Cyn, regardless of the name she writes under, with great characters and a wholly enrapturing story. All I can really say is this: Can I have the next one? Please?

****Thank you to Nichola Reill for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review****

4 bowshalf bow
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Review for Obsession (Drawn #2 – Aaron) by Lilliana Anderson

Obsesseion by Lilliana Anderson

TITLE: Obsession (Aaron)
SERIES: Drawn #2
AUTHOR: Lilliana Anderson
PUBLICATION DATE: May 30, 2014
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: From author
RATING: 4 bows

At the end of Drawn, our lovely author left us with a massive cliffhanger. Now she gives us a choice, which hero do you want Etta to end up with? If you choose Aaron, then this is the story for you. If you prefer Damien, then you need Redemption. In Drawn, we follow Etta’s relationship with Damien and his obsessive need to keep her close. Now, he’s in prison for started a pub brawl that landed several people in the hospital and Etta is trying to rebuild her life and learn to be a mother. She can see know that what she had with Damien wasn’t love, it was nothing like the feels she now has for Aaron and when Damien shows up at her doorstep, she wants nothing to do with him…..but will he allow her to make that choice?

While I didn’t love Etta in the first novel, here I really connected with her. She is doing her best to move on and build a life with Aaron, though she doesn’t want to tie in down in her drama initially. She doesn’t have many options left in her life except to try and be the best parent she can and be grateful for all of Aaron’s help. He literally swoops in and saves the day, helping her with everything she needs while not pushing for the relationship he really wants. She really shows a lot of growth here, coming to terms with the relationship she had with Damien and realizing that it wasn’t really a relationship at all, just an affair with a man who would let her know him as well as she wanted. We also get to see her devotion to Evie, who is the cutest little girl ever. In my head, she was more or less a black-haired version of little Anna in Frozen. I loved watching her stand strong against her pull towards Damien because we know it will never work.

Then we have Aaron, my beautiful sweet Aaron. The man has the patience of a saint, not only waiting for Etta throughout the Damien episode but also waiting during her pregnancy and after Evie is born and just waiting in general for her to make a move. He was prepared to move on with his life and let her go, if it was what she wanted. Thankfully, it’s not. This time around, she wants him as much as he wants her and they are magical together. They have that perfect relationship we all dream about, with love and trust and complete devotion to each other. The way he is so head-over-heels for Evie as well just had me falling for him all the more. It takes a strong man to love his enemy’s child as his own.

Then we have Damien. I was never a Damien fan, but I almost feel sorry for him here. In Redemption, we see him really put an effort into improving himself and getting well enough to really win Henrietta back. After watching him really put some effort into it, it was very sad to watch him spiral out of control here. I feel like his life in Redemption was the best possible scenario and this was the worst, but the more likely of the two to occur. The odds of Damien getting Jordy (or someone like him) as his cellmate were much higher than him getting Keith (who was in cellmate in Redemption). Without Keith’s presence encouraging him to improve, he worsens because a violent prison life is likely to have that effect. Why would he change when his ways make him the top dog in this life? And while fighting to stay safe in jail, he’s obsession with Etta only worsens. I don’t think I would ever want him to win Etta back because I don’t believe that would ever really work, but I would have liked to see him get a happy-ish ending. Maybe not a wife and kids, but just a life solidly on the redemption path. The thing he does at the end broke my heart a little. It doesn’t redeem him completely but it’s hard not to let it bring out more emotion.

I really think that Redemption was the fairy-tale ending, with everyone getting to ride off into the sunset with their happily ever after (Damien with Etta and Aaron finding love with someone new) and this is the realistic path. Under that logic, I should really like Redemption more because I’m a big (HUGE) fan of the happily ever afters, but I really don’t think it would have worked. I don’t think Etta would really be capable of forgiving Damien and moving on with a life with him after everything he has done. The way this story works out was a much more depressing ending. Aaron & Etta (and Evie) do get to live happily ever after, but Damien’s fate isn’t very happy…which is why this gets four bows instead of 5. I kinda felt like that was how this was going to end. Once Damien shows up at Etta’s house, this is the only real logical way the story could play out, but I kept that hope alive that maybe it would turn out differently.

In the end, I like this story better than Redemption and even more than Drawn, but it wasn’t perfect. I loved the idea that we get to pick who she ends up with and that they aren’t just the same story with different endings. I love the idea that different choices set you down different paths. For anyone else out there like me who wants to read both novels, you will get a bit of repeated material at the beginning. The start off the same, with very minor differences, but once you hit the halfway mark, things go drastically different as we see how those choices effect their lives. I also love the idea that the two novels present together with regards to Etta. If you read both, you can clearly see that, whether she admits it or not, her desire for Damien is completely within her control because she gives in to it in Redemption but fights it here. That simple choice, give in or fight, changes everything. I have wholly enjoyed this journey and encourage everyone to give it a shot. How can you not want to read a novel where you have the power to choose who Etta will end up with?!?!

****Thank you to Lilliana Anderson for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for Redemption (Drawn #2 – Damien) by Lilliana Anderson

Redemption by Lilliana Anderson

TITLE: Redemption (Damien)
SERIES: Drawn #2
AUTHOR: Lilliana Anderson
PUBLICATION DATE: May 30, 2014
PUBLISHER: Independent
PAGES: 300 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: From author
RATING: 4 bows

For those of you who read Drawn, you know we were left with a massive cliffhanger. Who will Etta choose? Well the beauty of this series is that we get to choose. We get a different sequel for each guy with completely different events. This is Damien’s book. Damien has spent the past three years in prison for the fight he caused the day Etta left him for good. A fight that landed a dozen people in the hospital. He knows he fucked up, but he is more determined than ever that when he is released, he’ll find her and make it right. Etta is trying to make things work with Aaron. She knows he is a good man and he’s always been there for her, but part of here still craves Damien. Can she continue to fight her desire for him when they come face to face or will she give in?

Okay, before I say anything, I need to tell you that I am wholly biased. I am Team Aaron and at no point have I considered jumping sides. Anderson stated at the beginning of this that she meant to make Damien un-redeemable and though she tries to fix it here, she did that jobs too well. For me, Damien is beyond salvation. I’m sure he deserves a happy life, but he needs to find it elsewhere. Even with him on his best behavior, I didn’t want Etta anywhere near him. Some things cannot be undone, you know? With that being said, here’s my take.

I had a rocky relationship with Etta in book one. I liked her but Damien makes her stupid and I hate girls like that. I hate girls who allow men to rule their lives and dictate their worlds. We’ve all met that girl who only ever talks about her boyfriend. No matter what topic you try to introduce to steer the conversation elsewhere, it always ends with “well he says blah blah blah.” Etta turned into that girl in Drawn and I was hoping to see her come out of it here, with the prolonged absence from him. She both does and doesn’t. She moves on some but still longs for him even though he was a controlling assface to her. And the minute he shows up showing the least bit of improvement, she more or less jumps in the sack with him. Which perturbed me. You have a child to consider now and him saying he’s changed doesn’t prove shit. You cannot have that around your child. For me, she just forgives him way too easily. They go through the semblance of a trial where they are separated and work towards making a better relationship. She seems a bit selfish here. I understand to an extent that she has still never really been on her own and made her own decisions but when she chooses to move away from Aaron, essentially cutting her ties with him, I saw red. This amazing man helped you when no one else would have and he has stood by you throughout your bullshit and loved your child as his own and THIS is show you repay him? There are not words for my feelings on that subject.

Damien himself was much improved here. He’s medicated to help his obsessions and manic behavior, but it’s not enough to make up for past mistakes. I understand psychological disorders have a great effect on people, but I don’t understand how people can ignore them to such an extent or refuse to seek help because of bad side effects. Do you not realizes that there are hundreds of medications for bipolar or mania or whatever disease you have and the side effects vary depending on what and how much you are taking? If one doesn’t work, try another! I like that he does see the light and realize he needs help, but I think Etta should be lost to him. He fucked up beyond recovery, cut your losses and move on. If you are very lucky, she’ll let you see your kid but that’s as much as you can get.

The plot and writing and pacing of this are as good as the previous book. It’s everything I was expecting in a sequel, with a story enthralling enough to compel me to finish it in a single day which is a feat for me. I will say that Lilliana has an amazing way of making you care for the characters you don’t even like. I really despise Damien and yet I found myself sympathizing with the selfish asshat. That was both amazing and infuriating because I didn’t want to sympathize with him. I wanted my hatred to prevail. Even though I’m 100% Team Aaron, this book made me wish just the tinniest bit that there was some hope for Damien.

All you really need to know is that if you are Team Damien, you’ll love this. You get to see him redeem himself in a lot of ways and attempt to earn Etta’s trust. He actually has a swoon-worthy side when he wants to and I can sorta see the attraction. If you are Team Aaron, then you’ll be angry at the way Etta treats him much of the time, but he gets his happy ending here…even if it wasn’t the one I was wishing for. Now I’m off to read the ending I was wishing for. Aaron, here I come!

****Thank you to Lilliana Anderson for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****

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Review for House Of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

House Of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

TITLE: House Of Ivy & Sorrow
AUTHOR: Natalie Whipple
PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2014
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
PAGES: 352 pages
FORMAT: E-ARC
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Josephine Hemlock has always known that the old witch under the bridge wasn’t a myth….because that witch is her grandmother. And, like her grandma, she’s a witch. She’s spent the majority of her life hiding from the Curse that took her mother’s life (as well as many of her other relatives) and it’s going rather well until a mysterious man shows up looking for her mother. So now she must figure out who is behind the curse and destroy them before the curse claims her or her beloved Grandma. Will she succeed or will she succumb to the curse?

Josephine is that perfect combination of spirit and fear. She is fiesty and determined to do the best she can, but she’s also terrified of her grandmother dying and of catching the curse. She has a great group of friends and a new romance with the hot, sweet guy at school, but somehow still manages to feel lonely because she can’t share her magic with anyone. She’s so beautiful and awesome, but still self-conscious in the most adorable way around her new beau. Her determination to save her Grandmother was endearing as hell.

Winn, said beau, is absolutely awesome. I’ve read a multitude of bad boy types, and he’s nice guy image was a great change. He’s genuinely a good guy, who always does the right thing and really likes Josephine as she is. He’s a nice looking, muscly guy, but the muscles don’t just miraculously appear where they have no business being on a teenage boy. They are the result of days working on his parents farm. I loved that. I’m sick of reading about characters that are all toned and hot but for no apparent reason. It was nice to see that there was a legitimate need for him to be all muscly, not just because, you know, it’s hot.

There are is a parade of additional characters, including Jo’s two best friends Kate and Gwen) and the inevitable other point in the love triangle, Levi. Who I kinda liked better, because he has a bad boy vibe. I know, I know, I just went on a spiel about how great it was to read about a nice guy and I like the bad guy more. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just fucked up. Anyway, I liked all the characters. I loved that the friends get let in on the secret and not pushed aside. What I really loved though, was the darkness of it. I’ve read a review or two claiming this wasn’t dark enough. I wholeheartedly disagree. What I really loved about this was it’s darkness. I’ve read a lot of YA’s or witch stories in general, where the people are just born with the ability and they don’t have to cast spells or make potions or anything, just wave their hand and poof! Problem solved. That’s not the case here. Everything has a cost and sometime it’s as simple as pulling out a flew strands of hair or going color blind for a day or two. Other times it’s yanking out a fingernail or a tooth. The debt must always been paid. I loved (loved loved loved) that darker take on it. It felt more like witchcraft or voodoo, less like pansy-ass hand waving.

This is exactly the novel I was looking for when I started reading it. It’s a little slow to start, but has everything you need for a great novel, with dark voodoo, a great mystery, and a light romance. This is the best witchy novel I’ve read since Once A Witch!

****Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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