Review for Breathless (Elemental #2.5) by Brigid Kemmerer

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

TITLE: Breathless
SERIES: Elemental #2.5
AUTHOR: Brigid Kemmerer
PUBLICATION DATE: April 30, 2013
PUBLISHER: Kensington Teen, a division of Kensington Publishing Corp
PAGES: 65 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 stars

Nick Merrick has always been the level headed one, the unofficial peacekeeper among his hotheaded brothers. But his personal issues are finally starting to get the better of him and he doesn’t know if he’s brothers will understand or where to turn.

Okay, I have to say that I never saw this coming. Maybe I’m just blind or maybe there really were no clues at all, but I would never guessed that Nick Merrick is a closet gay. And so self-conscious that he can barely breathe. He always seemed to be the most together of the bunch and now that we finally get a peek into his mind, we can see that he’s terrified that he won’t be able to overcome his homosexual tendencies and that his brothers won’t understand, especially his twin. When Adam shows up, he finds it harder and harder to fight his attraction. The tension builds beautifully. I just wanted to give poor Nicky a hug and tell him it would all be alright. I don’t think he really has anything to worry about with his brothers because they are so fiercely loyal, but we’ll see how that plays out. I can’t wait to read his full novel to see how that turns out….too bad Hunter’s books up next. It’ll definitely be worth the wait though!

****Thank you to Kensington Books for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review of The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

TITLE: The Sweetest Dark
SERIES: The Sweetest Dark #1
AUTHOR: Shana Abe
PUBLISHER: Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group
PAGES: 352 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 4 stars

Eleanore Jones has never been normal, no matter how much she tries to be. For as long as she can remember, metals have sung to her and there has been a dark voice whispering for her to do bad things. As a child, she made the mistake of admitting these things to adults which got her time in a psych ward with more than one treatment round of electro shock. Now she’s determined that if she can’t be completely normal, she will fake it as believably as possible. When the war starts and the majority of the population gets out of London, her orphanage sends her to Iverson’s, a high class boarding school, because she has been selected as the new charity student. Once there, Eleanore meets Jesse, the grounds keeper and feels an instant attraction to him. She also meets Armand, an arrogant aristocrat who may just be hiding the same secrets she is.

I decided to sleep on it before I wrote this review and I’m still at a loss for words….except the constant whine in my brain to go ahead and read the sequel (which I have a eARC of) instead of reading what’s next on my reading schedule. This is one of those novels that while I really enjoyed it, I’m not exactly sure what I liked. It has all the elements I hate, instalove, love triangle, bad ending, but somehow I still liked it.

I liked all three of the main characters. Eleanore has that tough girl image from being in an orphanage for most of her life and when the snooty girls start to fuck with her, she fights back, giving back exactly what’s she given instead of taking it. I loved that she was always battling with the idea that maybe she really was just crazy and everything was all in her head. Jesse stole my heart right from the beginning. Charming and sweet, he’s definitely the silent type. In fact, everyone believes he is mute. He says he only talks to people worth speaking to and that basically amounts to 2 people at the school. Armand is a whole other can of worms. The son of a duke, he’s lived a charmed life, but really he’s just as lonely as Eleanore and he’s so adept at lying no one notices. While I wanted Eleanore to be with Jesse, I did feel a lot of compassion for Armand. I know book 2 is going to take the love triangle to now, annoying, heights, but I still really want to read it. The only other character I loved was Sophia. Clever Sophia is the only girl at Iversons that actually comes to like Eleanore and I feel like we don’t get to see enough of her. She pops up a few times to help and then vanishes and I kept wishing to see more of her.

The story was interesting, if a bit slow. I read more for the fantasy elements, than for the historical ones. I’m not a big fan of novels about war. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the cause or that I have a problem with gore, it’s just not a subject that interests me. So, while I understand the bits about the war were necessary for world and plot building, I was definitely not enraptured by them. This novel took me by surprise with the ending, which I didn’t see coming. But I can’t talk about the ending without ranting and I am desperately trying not to do that with this review.

****SPOILER****Okay, so maybe a tiny one. JESSE DIES. I’m not talking he dies and then some part of his supernaturalness brings him back, I mean he is dead and they bury him. Then you get a tiny epilogue saying that he is with the stars now and one day Eleanore will join him. Great, so I’ll have to deal with Armand and Eleanore getting all lovey in book 2. ::sobs::****END SPOILER***

This novel really has a ton of good things in it. You get enough mystery to keep you interested, tiny bits of humor to make you laugh, enough boy drama to have you rolling your eyes, and an ending that you’ll never expect.

****Thank you to Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for My Ex From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #1) by Tellulah Darling

My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling

TITLE: My Ex From Hell
SERIES: The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #1
AUTHOR: Tellulah Darling
PAGES: 212 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 stars

Sorry, I’m just so fucking happy. I’ve been in a reading slump lately where I have enjoyed a few novels, but I’ve not LOVED anything, you know? I’ve found some funny/wacky/amusing/heartful/insert positive adjective here novels lately, but nothing that has made me want to bow down in front of his magnificence. Well, ladies and gentleman, here it is. This novel has me groveling on my knees at its awesomeness and I can honestly say that I loved every minute of it (and am dying on the inside for the next installment).

Sophie Bloom is just your average teenager. Average looks, average grades, with an adoptive mother who saw to it that she was enrolled in a boarding school so she wouldn’t have to put up with her. Everything is quite ordinary…until she kisses a handsome stranger on Halloween and her world is turned upside down. What that oh-so-delicious kiss revealed was that Sophie isn’t average after all, she’s really Persephone, the Greek goddess of Spring. Wait, what?!? That’s right kiddies, Sophie is really a goddess and she is smack-dab in the middle of a war between Zeus and Hades who both want her dead. Then there is her ex, Kai, son of Hades (aka mysterious kissing stranger). Things between these two are complicated at best. So much for a semester of worrying about teenage drama and backstabbing, yoga-pants wearing bitches, Sophie’s off to fight the baddies, slay a dragon, and save humanity…if she can pull it off.

Where to start? I guess I’ll go for Sophie first. She is the absolute perfect heroine. Snarky and sarcastic, she was had me giggling and rolling my eyes at/with her within the first few pages of the novel. She’s that heroine that it is entirely too easy to sympathize with as she is dragged along on this thrill ride, whether she likes it or not. Then there is Sophie’s best friend, Hannah, who is one of the greatest supporting characters ever. She’s brainy and busty and over-protective, with just the right of amount of bossiness to keep Sophie in line. I loved the two of them together. I loved that when Sophie finds out that she’s a goddess, the first thing she does is demand to see Hannah to tell her about it. Not for one second did she contemplate leaving Hannah in the dark to “protect” her or some other such bullshit.

The only character I’m undecided about is Kai…and that’s probably the point. One minute I’m lusting away after him (just like Sophie) and the next I want to assist Sophie in the nailing the bastard to the wall while inflicting several thousand paper cuts along his body then dousing him in salt and lemon juice so they all feel like they are on fire. Apparently Kai and Persephone had some kind of epic romance, star-crossed lovers and all that. They defied everything to be together, but his royal Dickhead can’t seem to decide if he wants to help Sophie or just fuck with her head. Trying to figure out whether to root for the pair to work it out or to see them in a knock-down drag-out brawl was enough give me a headache.

I am quickly discovering that I one of the most important things for me in any story is the characters. I have to like (hopefully love) at least a few of them to become invested in the story. This novel succeeds not only on that front, but has all the things necessary for me to adore it. It has amazing characters, clever dialogue, just the right amount of humor to keep me smiling, and a plot that even kept me guessing. Even with all these amazing things, the one thing that stands out even more is Tellulah Darling’s writing style. She manages to flawlessly pull off the wholly believable voice of this teenage girl. It’s so utterly true to life. I absolutely adore it and I recommend it to everyone.

****Thank you to Te Da Media for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

TITLE: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
AUTHOR: Sarah Strohmeyer
PUBLICATION DATE: April 23, 2013
PUBLISHER: Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: Edelweiss
RATING: 4 stars

We follow Zoe on her summer adventures in Fairyland. No, not some mythical, magical place where supernatural all the Disney princesses are real, but a theme park with actors portraying the non-Disney-fied versions of the fairy tales. Every summer Fairyland holds internships to allow rising seniors to pump up their resume and give young actors a chance to showcase their talents, even if it’s only at a children’s park. Zoe arrives assuming she got an actual role, with her cousin Jess, only to find out that she is to be the Queen’s assistant. Disappointed, but trying to make the best of it, she goes in on her first day only to be berated for her every action. So much for a fun, carefree summer entertaining children. This summer is going to be a nightmare and it’s only just beginning.

I really enjoyed this. I seem to be stuck in a contemporary YA loop these days, but with stories like these, I’m not complaining. I didn’t realize until about a third of the way in that this was a retelling of Cinderella, but that realization only made me happier. I love fairytale retellings and this was no different. You can’t help but sympathize with Zoe, dealing with the hellish Queen (aka the lady in charge of all that happens in Fairyland) who commands her to get up a dawn to walk her precious pooch and the proceeds to yell orders and demand near impossible tasks. Zoe is the invisible hand that keeps the place up and running, from waking up late cast members to filling in for dismissed workers and everything in between. I loved her through every minute. Sweet and willing to do anything to give her cousin a boost to a coveted Princess position, which is one of the big four (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel). Jess has a minor role as Red Riding Hood, but dreams of being Cinderella.

Jess was everything the sidekick was supposed to be. She stands up for Zoe and never does that backstabbing thing that goes down in so many YA’s. She’s completely loyal. The other characters all range from perfectly charming to alarmingly despicable (like the Queen, who is a tyrant). I will say that my favorite male was Ian. A little cocky, oozing charm, sarcastic, and armed with way too many bad puns, he’s got the Prince Charming at down to a “t.” Watching Zoe do the “I don’t like you, I like you, I hate you, I like you” dance with him was more than a little amusing.

This tale has everything you could want, great characters, good writing, witty banter, and a wicked twist that you may or may not see coming. I certainly didn’t. I recommend it to everyone who loves fairytale retellings, especially fans of Robin Palmer or Alex Flinn.

****Thank you to Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****