Review for Alpha (Alpha #1) by Jasinda Wilder

Alpha by Jasinda Wilder

TITLE: Alpha
SERIES: Alpha #1
AUTHOR: Jasinda Wilder
NARRATOR: Summer Roberts & Tyler Donne
PUBLICATION DATE: April 29, 2014 / May 27, 2014
PUBLISHER: Seth Clarke / Seth Clarke
PAGES: 450 pages / 11 hours 49 minutes
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Review copy via Audible
RATING: 3 bows

Kyrie St Clair is out of options. She has lost her job, she is behind on her rent, and she has people depending on her to get the bills paid. So when a check for ten grand shows up in the mail, addressed to her with no return address and a memo simply reading “you”, she cashes it. She has no other choice. When a second check shows up, with a more ominous “belong” on the memo line, she is even more worried, but she cashed the first, so she might as well dig her hole deeper. A third reading “to me” completes the statement and Kyrie knows she is in a world of trouble. But nothing happens. She receives a check each month for an entire year before a man in a suit shows up at her door to collect her. It’s time to pay her debt and she has no choice but to go with the man to meet her fate. What will that bring? You’ll have to read to find out.

At first, I sympathized with Kyrie. It’s hard not to with the situation she is in. Her dad is dead, her mom is crazy, and someone has to pay her and her brother’s college tuition. She has been dealt a hard hand, there is no doubt about that. But, with bills piling up for her tuition, her brother’s tuition, her mom’s medical care, and basic living expenses, why the hell would you choice a career path for a social worker?
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Regardless of the fact that you need a masters degree to even get in the door in that profession, it won’t pay enough to take care of your own college debt, much less support anyone else. The very first thing she should have done was change her career path. It doesn’t really seem like the right choice for her. At no point did I see her as an overly caring individual meant to spend her days helping the less fortunate. I’m not saying she should give up all her dreams, but part of the growing up act is realizing what you can and can’t have. Also, tell your brother to start helping out! He is just as capable of getting a job to at least contribute a little!
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And the further I got into the novel, the more irritated I became with her. I understand you have no real choice in this situation, but for someone so determined to stand on her own and pay her families bills, you sure do hand over that control pretty quickly. Roth makes it clear that you are free to leave whenever you wish, so why not?

Speaking of Roth, I can’t say I’m a fan. I didn’t dislike him, but I’m not a huge fan of that whole Alpha male thing and this guy is a bit too controlling for my liking. He actually wasn’t too terribly bad on the alpha male side and he demands that Kyrie knows everything is consensual and he won’t even hurt her. I don’t understand his fascination with her. She’s not that amazing, but I digress. You don’t learn very much about him and anything I say could be counted as a spoiler since you don’t learn much until closer to the end.

Plotwise, this was fine, if predictable. There are certain twists you see coming miles away. If you are looking for a story to shock you with plot-twists, this is not it. I went in expecting a little more meat to the story. I went in expecting a story with a bunch of sex and instead got the novel equivalent of a porno. I realize that I asked for that in some ways because this is labeled an erotica novel, but I felt like it was a bit over the top. In all fairness, I’m not sure if this is because it really is worse than you’re typical erotica novel or if that was just the added effect of listening to it on audio. When reading, you can skim over parts and skip things, like excessive endearments or exclamations (trust me, I’ll get to that in a moment), but you can’t do that with audio. Or, I imagine you could, but it would be tricky to do so without missing something important.

If I’m being completely honest, there were several things that bothered me about this and it’s quite possible that it’s just me being picky. Regardless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. The #1 thing that irritated me above all else was the repeated mention of how huge this guy’s dick was. I got it the first time you said it, okay?
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This is an erotica novel, so you can mention it a time or two more, because…well, just because I’m in an giving mood.
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But this goes above and beyond. I’ll leave out my opinions on romance novels going overboard with the whole “I want a guy with a cock so huge that it literally hurts me to fuck” cliche. Maybe I’m sheltered, but I just don’t understand the appeal.
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But this novel mentions it every at least once every 20 minutes after the first time she sees it.
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I’m not exaggerating on that. She goes on and on (and on and on and on) about it. I UNDERSTAND! The man’s dick is the size of my forearm. Mental image is a check there. I DON’T NEED YOU REPEATING IT AD NAUSEAM. It got old, really fucking fast (tehehe, did you see what I did there?). And just when you thought she has accepted this fact, she’d go on and on again.
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Even if I let that particular pet peeve go, I have a logistics question for you. If he is so big, does it not follow that she will be tight to him?
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Obviously she is not used to getting it on with someone so well endowed, since she makes such a big deal about it? Also, let me clarify here that when she says “big,” she is referring to girth as well as length. It’s like putting a rubber band that is made to fit around a cucumber over a soda bottle. Will it stretch to accommodate? Most likely, but it’ll be a tight fit!

The other thing that annoyed me was that Roth was so damn handsome. Yes, I understand that this is a fantasy and all (hence the enormous cock), but why must the man be so pretty that it hurts. That kinda kills the fantasy for me because it’s so far from the realm of normal. If I fantasize about someone gorgeous like Matt Bomer, I’m eventually going to be less focused on the smexiness and more focused on what the hell Matty is doing with someone normal like me. Especially considering the man I picked for me fantasy land is very very gay.
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In all seriousness, I’m sick of reading about inhumanly pretty guys. Can’t I have an normal guy? An average guy who is attractive but someone flawed? And by flawed, I don’t mean deeply mentally and emotionally scarred by a depressing past? Is that too much to ask?

Basically, I was a bit disappointed with this. I will definitely be steering clear of the audio versions of erotica novels for a while.
If you like erotica with it’s over-exaggerations, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this. If you are looking for something a bit deeper to connect with, look elsewhere.

Audio notes
Ummm…Summer was okay? I didn’t love her or hate her, she was just in the middle somewhere. Decent narrator with average pacing and voice differentiation. There was nothing particularly amazing about her performance, but that very well may be because of material given. I’ll keep my mind open for her and definitely give another novel narrated by her a chance. As far as Tyler goes, you don’t get much to go on. For those who see two narrator names and expect this to be told in dual perspectives, please let go of that notion now. It isn’t. You get a itty bitty bit of Roth perspective at the very end and I’m not overly impressed with the tiny bit Tyler did. He was mediocre at best. I won’t avoid a novel narrated by him, but I’m definitely not going to seek it out.

****Thank you to Esther Bochner at Audible for providing me with an audio copy in exchange for an honest review****

3 bows
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Review for Exile (Exile #1) by Kevin Emerson

Exile by Kevin Emerson

TITLE: Exile
SERIES: Exile #1
AUTHOR: Kevin Emerson
PUBLICATION DATE: April 29, 2014
PUBLISHER: Katherine Tegen Books
PAGES: 320 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Catherine Summer Carlson lives her life as two separate people. At home, with the parents, she’s Catherine. Catherine is the bright straight-A student on track to be the next big shot lawyer in her family. But elsewhere, she’s Summer. Summer is a music junkie who excels at managing bands and has no interest in being a lawyer. She’s recently been dumped by her band, Postcards From Ariel, due to an actual record label picking them up. She’s on a mission to find a new group to manage and she knows she’s hit gold when she finds Caleb Daniels singing and convinces him to start a new one. Falling for Caleb is the number one wrong thing to do as a manager but she can’t help herself. Then Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father and things get really interesting. Suddenly she’s right in the middle of some else’s mystery. She knows that she needs to be on her professional best, but sometimes ignoring your heart is difficult to do and you’re head will just have to live with the consequences. Can Summer sort out her life (as well as the band’s) or is everyone doomed to failure?

I’ll be completely honest. A big reason I downloaded this was because of the pretty cover. I read the synopsis and it sounded great (I love books about music), but it was that gorgeous, simplistic cover that really grabbed me. I also loved the idea of a male author writing a female perspective. In YA, it’s mostly girls. Female authors writing mostly female characters. Female authors sometimes writing male characters, which is always a crapshoot because some female authors can’t capture that male voice. It’s always fascinating to read a male writing as a female because it’s like “so, this is what they think of us, huh?” kinda vibes. I have to say that Emerson did a great job capturing the female voice. Many times when authors write outside their gender, it feels like a female trying to do a male voice or vice versa, but Emerson is not guilty of this.

Summer is a complex character. It’s easy to sympathize with her because her band literally abandoned her after they signed with a record label and that includes her boyfriend, the frontman. Her love for music was something I could instantly relate to. I’ll never be in the music business, but I totally get that need to disappear into the perfect song. She’s smart and driven and completely determined to live out her dreams in the music industry, even if she can’t bring herself to tell her parents that piece of information. She’s also unfailingly human, making judgement errors and having insane moments of jealousy when other girls come on to Caleb. It really rooted her down to Earth.

I liked Caleb a lot, but sometimes I wasn’t exactly a huge fan. He does some stupid things and treats Summer badly at moments when she really doesn’t deserve it. I get that the guy is going through a lot and he’s having a difficult time, but there are moments when other girls are blatantly flirting with him in front of Summer and he does nothing to reassure this girl who has already been dumped by one rocker boy who gained fame. He also shuts her out sometimes and that bugged me too. It was clear that he was a good guy, but his inner asshole shone through more often than I would like and the older I get, the more anti-asshole I become.

This was a compulsive read, with that just-one-more chapter addictive quality that we all look for in a book. I only had a few issues with it. The first one being that the dynamic between Summer & Caleb was very insta-lovey. They meet and then they are dating and serious almost immediately afterwards. It kinda throws you off. I do think that attraction happens immediately, but there was no dating period, just an immediate this is my girlfriend and the manager of the band I’m going to create thing. Then there was the fact that Summer feel into a similar situation that she has already been in. She was already the girlfriend/manager of a band and that didn’t end well. Why would she jump back into the same situation? She has a few reservations, but she didn’t really even hesitate before dating Caleb.

All things considered, this novel is pretty awesome, and I am impatiently awaiting it’s sequel. Summer is a pretty awesome heroine, especially because of her imperfections. The plot and writing keep you going and wondering how exactly the light mystery will play out and if Caleb’s band will be successful. If you love contemporary YA, books centered around music, or even just YA fiction, this is for you. Give it a try and you won’t regret it!

****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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Review for The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

TITLE: The Last Best Kiss
AUTHOR: Claire LaZebnik
PUBLICATION DATE: April 22, 2014
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 374 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 5 bows

Anna Elliot let worries about what people would think ruin her first real relationship. Since then, she’s never really been attracted to anyone. She never really got over Finn Westbrook. And now, he’s back. Over the missing three years, he’s grow taller and cooler and her friends suddenly can’t get enough of him. Now, though, Finn wants nothing to do with Anna and all she can think of is finding a way to win him back over or finding a way to convince herself she’s over him. Either way, she must do something because this situation is driving her insane. Can she get Finn to forgive her past transgressions or will she be doomed to watch him date her friends for the rest of her high school career?

Anna was a girl I was unsure of initially. In the beginning, when she liked Finn but was worried about what her friends would think, I wanted to shake her. If these girls are really her friends, they’d be happy she found someone she liked and who was nice to her, not judge-y about his reputation. At least, that’s how it’d work in a perfect world, but I get that these are issues that girls really go through. Having to choose between your friends and you’re boyfriend is never an easy choice. She choose her friends, or rather she choose to not give her friends the option to know. At her age, that kind of decision is understandable, but as an adult watching her, I just shake my head at her immaturity. She doesn’t even give her friends even the option to mull it over and get behind it. She just decides that her friends would never understand and her hurt poor Finn, a lot. Now, in the present, when he returns, she has spent years regretting that. It’s not something she just starts to regret upon seeing he’s new, prettier face. No, she’s spent the years of their separation wonder how he is and missing him. Despite the fear of what her friends would think, she actually like him as he was. She liked the geeky, science obsessed boy who so always so enthusiastic about the things he loves. She can see that boy peeking out from the new Finn’s eyes. She wants him back, even though she knows she doesn’t deserve the chance. I loved that part. I loved that she knew that she’d fucked up and she was honestly trying to right a wrong.

Finn was completely lovable from moment one. He’s so dorky and adorable, how can you not love him? I’ll confess that I have a soft spot for geeks, so I knew immediately he would be a character I’d fall for. Then, upon his reappearance, with the added height and confidence, I was even more of a goner. Like Anna, I missed the enthusiastic geeking out over pretty photographs, but there was something appealing about the new facets of his personality. It really made me wonder how he spent those years apart. What did we miss, adorable Finn? Obviously, we missed a growth spurt, but beyond that, what happened? It was hard not to be on his side even when it was hurting Anna because he had be shunned and that type of thing isn’t easy to get over.

Plot-wise, this went places I didn’t exactly expect. Something happens about mid-way through that I didn’t see coming, but it moves the novel along perfectly. I could instantly see why LaZebnik decided to take it there because it was exactly what the story needed. This novel really should have annoyed me because I generally hate love triangles of all kinds. I hate the angst of what will happen. I especially hate cheating, which inevitable happens in those. But here, watching Anna almost reap what she sowed, it was a touch satisfying to see it. She put herself into this situation by rejecting Finn even when she knew she liked him and now she has to deal with the fact that maybe he’s moving on. Maybe he’s moving on with one of her best friends and she’ll have to watch.

I also really enjoyed watching Anna grow. It’s clear that she’s changed a bit since their first interlude and she’s older and a bit wiser now. She’s matured enough to know when to stand up for the people around her and to find the most effective way to do so. I think I just really liked Anna. It’s not often that we get a book where the main character has genuinely wronged someone and now must live with the consequences.

The Last Best Kiss is written with Claire LaZebnik’s classic wit and style. If you are a fan of her previous work, then you’ll love this. I actually liked it more than Epic Fail. This is an amazing little contemporary romance about owning up to your mistakes and finding a way to work it out. And a happily ever after, naturally. I recommend it to all contemporary YA fans!

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

5 bows
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Review for The Geography Of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith

The Geography Of You And Me by Jennifer E Smith

TITLE: The Geography Of You And Me
AUTHOR: Jennifer E Smith
PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2014
PUBLISHER: Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 337 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via NetGalley
RATING: 5 bows

Lucy and Owen meet on a stalled elevator. They are both heading up when the lights suddenly go out and the elevator stops, somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floor. They eventually get rescued only to learn that it is a city-wide blackout. The whole city is dark and in the darkness, these two develop a fast-friendship that never quite disappears…even when they both move out. Lucy moves to Edinburg with her parents while Owen embarks on a cross-country drive with is father. Though the two are far apart, neither can forget the other. Through postcards and the occasional email, they keep in touch, but they wonder if they will ever reunite in the most important way or if they should move on. Can they make it work? Or will they be move on?

Lucy is a sweet, smart girl who is the epitome of a loner. No friends, beyond her brothers, and no desire to go out and make them. Sometimes she is lonely, but she cozies up with a book or goes out to explore NYC and everything is alright. So when the idea of spending the electric-less night alone (because her brothers are off to college and her parents are on yet another world-exploring trip) is too much, she invites Owen to join her. The two connect in a way that shocks them both. They don’t really know each other and yet they feel like they do. She’s an interesting character for me because she is the daughter of obviously wealthy parents (how else could they afford to always been off in Rome or Paris or Barcelona while the kids stay home with a nanny?) and yet she isn’t that snobby rich girl we always imagine. She gets left alone a lot and she doesn’t spend an excessive amount of money (in fact, I think we hardly see her spend any money). She’s bubbly and sweet, which are qualities you don’t expect in a loner. I thinks he’s lonelier than she wants to believe, especially since her brothers left for college.

Owen is definitely lonely. He was decimated by his mother’s death and is just roaming through life, trying to get by without being crushed by the grief. Though we never find out exactly what he listens to, it’s mentioned several times that he is constantly wearing headphones. Owen is just lost. He doesn’t really below in New York City, but he doesn’t below anywhere really and he wants to see the continental US a lot. So when the trip with his dad becomes a reality, he’s thrilled at the chance….but still worried about his dad. And life. And how he is ever going to decide his future.

I loved that for once we get a contemporary YA novel isn’t focused on how attractive this guy is. Don’t get me wrong, both leading characters are pretty enough, but it’s not the sole focus of their relationship. Lucy doesn’t just see him across the room and instantly love him because he’s so hot. Their attraction is so much deeper and more than that. I’ve been reading way too many NA’s lately and they mostly focus on the physical aspect of the relationship. It was so refreshing to get a different take on it, something I think is closer to real life. A relationship based on a connection and caring as opposed to the need to get each other naked as fast as possible. I get that hormones are a big thing, but it was nice to have something leave that bit out for once.

I really want to go on and on about the writing and the story and the well thought out plot (because all of those are true), but my brain is just mush at this point. I’m so in love with this story that I cannot find adequate words to articulate my joy, which is a problem I’m finding a lot lately. Jennifer just has this awesome ability to draw you into her worlds. You love the characters, you want their happiness as if it was your own, and your hopes are endlessly dashed as the story progresses because you don’t know if they are going to make it work. You want it more than you can express, but there is always that niggling possibility that it won’t happen and how depressed would that make you? Obviously since I love it, that is not the case, but it could have happened!

Another tiny thing about this emotional ride is that Jennifer manages to incorporate just the write amount of wit and humor to keep me giggling. This novel will run you through the ringer, but when they get it right, it’s pure magic.

All you really need to know that Jennifer E Smith is a writing god and we should all worship her. I don’t think this was quite as good as The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, but it was damn close. Now I’m even more determined to fit This Is What Happy Looks Like into my reading schedule soon because this woman just knows how to make me fall in love. If you’re a fan of Jennifer’s previous works, like contemporary YA, or are just looking for a story to make you fall in love, this is the one for you. It has that magical quality that makes you hope that you’re life will turn into a romance when you get stuck in an elevator. 😉

****Thank you to Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

5 bows
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Review for How To Lose A Duke In Ten Days (An American Heiress In London #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke

How To Lose A Duke In Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke

TITLE: How To Lose A Duke In Ten Days
SERIES: An American Heiress In London #2
AUTHOR: Laura Lee Guhrke
PUBLICATION DATE: April 29, 2014
PAGES: 384 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 5 bows

Edie’s marriage to the Duke of Margrave five years ago was far from a love match. Sure, the two put on a good show before the ceremony, but soon after Stuart (his grace) ran back to the wild’s of Africa leaving Edie with all the duties and responsibilities that should have been his, just as she wanted it. Now, he’s returned. Injured in Africa, he is now determined to make his wife fall as much in love with him as he has been with her. She’s beyond resistant to the idea and soon a wager is made. He has ten days to make her fall for him (proven by a kiss, naturally) or he gives her the legal separation she so desires.

Edie is that strong woman we all hope to be. Completely content on her own and perfectly capable of running an estate and shouldering all the responsibility of dukedom with easy. Her fear of getting too close to Stuart was so heartbreakingly understandable that you couldn’t help routing for Stuart to succeed in pulling down her walls and winning her over. She deserves the love and adoration she so adamantly denies herself. She has good reason, believe me, but her life would be so much better with Stuart’s love.

Stuart is the picture of the swoon-worthy male I always look for in historical romance. Chivalrous and sweet and hell bent on seeking revenge of the man who hurt Edie. He was immediately captivated by Edie, with her straight forward nature and her desire for a specific type of marriage and after the ceremony he could feel himself falling for her, the very last thing she wanted, so he left for Africa a bit earlier than planned. He left because staying with her when he couldn’t have her was torture of the highest order. Now, with his mangled leg, he has no choice but to come home and he’s welcome can only be described as frigid. Edie actually runs from him and leaves him at a train station when she bumps into him accidentally. But she’s just as alluring running away as she was that night when she followed him into that garden and he just has to find a way to win her heart.

Watching these two make progress was completely thrilling. Throw in Edie’s impetuous little sister, who also won my heart, and I’m sold. This is what I want from every historical romance. It has the action, the suspense, the tension, and, obviously, the romance. But these two are so incredible perfect for each other that it makes you wonder why it took so long for them to figure it out. It’s exactly what I was hoping it would be and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Any historical romance novel fan will love this!

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

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Review for The Taking (The Taking #1) by Kimberly Derting

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

TITLE: The Taking
SERIES: The Taking #1
AUTHOR: Kimberly Derting
PUBLICATION DATE: April 29, 2014
PAGES: 368 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf at Malaprops
RATING: 4 bows

Kyra Agnew was just a normal high school girl, with a talent for pitching softball and a long term boyfriend to plan her future with….until she disappears without a trace. One night she was arguing with her father and poof! Gone. She wakes up the next morning behind a dumpster and goes home only to discover that’s 5 years have past since that night. Five years and her life has moved on without her. Austin, her boyfriend, is now off at college dating her best friend, her parents are divorced, and her dad is a conspiracy theorist over alien abductions. Even worse, she is freakishly drawn to Austin’s kid brother, who was 12 when she left but now is a 17 year old hunk who seems to be the only one that cares about her side of things. As they dig deeper into her missing years, only one thing is certain. Once they learn the truth, nothing will ever be the same.

I really liked Kyra instantly. It was difficult not to sympathize with her. One night everything is fine and literally the next day, everything is different. She boy she loves so dearly has moved on, to her best friend no less, and is now living the out the dreams that she helped plan with someone else. Her mom has remarried and has a new child (her brother, Logan). Her dad, who she was always so close to, has lost his damned mind, spending all his time obsessing over alien abductions. To his credit, he was the only person in her life that never really stopped looking for her. She goes through so many emotions that this felt just as much like a contemporary YA as it did a paranormal. In fact, I enjoyed those contemporary feeling bits more than the paranormal aspects. Either way, this girl has it rough. I get that everyone around her is doing their best and people need to move on with their lives, but it genuinely feels like nobody really wants her side of things, they just want her to go back to her life and for things to be as normal as possible. Except Tyler. The connection she feels with him is undeniable. He is the only person that just lets her vent without judging her for what she says or feels. It’s not hard to see why she falls for him so quickly.

Tyler, dear sweet Tyler, is so perfect. He’s hot and cocky and endearingly sweet to Kyra. He’s determination to show her that he is so much more than Austin’s kid brother was awesome to watch. Also, watching him go out of his way to help Kyra, even if it was just distracting her from the drama of her “new” life, was beyond sweet. I don’t know how she would have survived without him, at least mentally. Also, teenage boy who likes to read? ::drools:: That by itself is enough to catch my attention. Not only does he read, but he actively collects old and rare literary magazines? Excuse me while I melt into a puddle on the floor.

The one thing that stands out to me more than anything else is how addictive this is. When I started this, I just wanted to read a chapter or so to have something on my currently reading list. I had just finished When The Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke and I don’t like having my “Currently reading” slot empty, so the plan was just to start it. I know I can say I’m reading it when I haven’t started, but I don’t like doing that. If I haven’t started it, I’m not really reading it and it shouldn’t be on my currently reading list. ANYWAY, I started it and an hour later, I was still reading. I was forced encouraged to stop reading for a few hours to hang out with my husbands friends and it was a very long few hours with me sneaking the book out at every opportunity. It’s addictive. From the moment Kyra appears, you have this need to find out everything, not only who took her and why, but also how the people around her react to her reappearnce and how the confrontation with Austin goes and where the forbidden-feeling romance with Tyler leads. I was enthralled in a series forget-the-world kind of way.

As I said before, I really enjoyed the contemporary aspect of this novel and how it felt like a nice blend between contemporary and paranormal. I’ve read several reviews and the biggest problem I’ve seen people have is how long it takes her to start asking questions and looking for who took her, but I will play devil’s advocate on that. If you vanished but had no memory of disappearing, where do you look for answers? Who do you ask when no one knows? And are you just going to ignore they way your life has changed? Are you not going to experience some emotions over those changes? I felt like that would have been my first response because those are the things that are in front of you. When you are sleeping into your old bedroom that has been turned into a guest room down the hall from the 3 year old brother that you just learned about and your mom in bed with your brand new-step dad, that’s harder to avoid than the idea that you vanished for five years with absolutely no memory of it. Then, once that has been processed, you start to push the boundaries and go looking for answers.

What really irked me was how trusting she was from the people she got her information from. Once they are in the compound, it’s easy to see why, but when she is more or less kidnapped, I wouldn’t take anyone at their word. Also, why were the health side effects never mentioned in that first meeting? That kind of information is paramount and could have really helped avoid trouble. Serious, serious trouble.

Overall though, this is a highly enjoyable read. It’s one of those rare novels that even though it may have an issue or two, you just can’t put it down, you can’t let go of the story or stop thinking about it. Yes, it does have a cliffhanger and a minor love triangle, but it’s forgivable because of it’s awesomeness. I am impatiently awaiting the next installment!

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

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Review for Sweet Reckoning (The Sweet Trilogy #3) by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

TITLE: Sweet Reckoning
SERIES: The Sweet Trilogy #3
AUTHOR: Wendy Higgins
PUBLICATION DATE: April 29, 2013
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 464 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss / Freebie shelf from Malaprops
RATING: 4 bows

Anna Whitt and her nephilim allies are preparing for the final battle. They aren’t sure when it’ll start, but it’ll be sooner rather than later, no matter how much they want to delay it. As Anna gathers those she loves in close, she is determined that her love will be an asset, but she’s terrified it’ll be her downfall. How can they win this war with no casualties? Can she take the grief that will come with losing one of her loved ones? Kai? Patti? Jay? Marna? Kopano? Can she keep them all safe as she extinguishes the Duke’s lives here on Earth? I guess you’ll have to read to find out!

Anna is just as sweet and innocent here as she was in all the previous books. I still find her naive and annoying, and sometimes down right dumb….but she’s slightly better here. We actually get to see her swear once and that endears her to me. This chick is put through countless life threatening scenarios and I just don’t find it believable that she doesn’t feel the need to use swear words as an outlet. Big group of demons threatening my life? OH FUCK would be the first words out of my mouth or at least in thought, and Anna never debases herself to that level. I get that she is the “good God-fearing girl” and whatnot, but seriously?

It’s just not believable for me, regardless of the genre I’m reading. The sensors aren’t going to throw you to the wolves for an expletive here or there. ANYWAY, our sweet Anna does grow a bit more here, with lessons learned and consequences to face, so she was a little less annoying but still no where near a likable character for me.

Then there is Kai…..I constantly make fun of those “I sigh for Kai” banners, but he is very sigh worthy here. He’s quit his “job” of sleeping around, though he keeps up appearances for his father, and he’s all about Anna. Our dear stupid Anna. I still cannot fathom why he just needs to be with her, but, hey dude, it’s your fictional life! We get much more Kai here than we did in Sweet Peril and lots of steamy scene****SPOILER****He and Anna actually get married because she needs to be rid of her virginity or Pharzuph will kill her (and Kaiden) on-sight. She also needs to keep her “purity” so that she can wield the sword of righteousness. The two really steam up the page after their nuptials, but it wasn’t quit as sexy as the scenes at the end of Sweet Peril****END SPOILER****

I like most of the side characters, but I especially love Ginger. Why couldn’t this be told through her perspective? She’s the exact kind of snarky badass that I typically root for. No such luck, though, because it’s all Anna, all the time. The whole gang is in on this one, seeing as it is the final battle to end all battles. Jay even sticks his head in quite a bit.

This gets 4 stars for much the same reason the rest of the series has, it’s addictive. Once you start, you want to keep going and it’s incredibly difficult to put down even if it’s for something important like food or work or sleep. We don’t really need those things, do we? We can subsist on oxygen, live off our pittance of a savings account, and sleep when we’re dead, right? It was worth a shot. This world, no matter how annoying or preposterous, draws you in until it’s all you can think about. Do they succeed? Do they all die trying? Do Anna & Kai finally get it on? Inquiring minds need to know. It says a lot that I give it 4 stars because I had so many issues with this novel, and this series as a whole.

Warning: Rant ahead!
One my biggest issues is how this series pushes that outdated “no sex before marriage rule” which I can’t stay. The message this series (the last book especially) seems to send is that sex before marriage is wrong. Now, before you start yelling at me about all the characters except Anna are going at it with other people like jackrabbits, let me just say that all of them (except the “bad” dukes, of course) harbor obvious guilt over it. Maybe I read wrong, but that’s how it came off to me. It literally seems like it’s saying “No sex before marriage unless you want to get pregnant and then die!” which is not a moral I’m cool with.****SPOILER****Anna and Kaiden only sleep together after the marriage vows, which make it gloriously acceptable. Jay and Marna nearly jump into the sack the minute he is free from Veronica, no marriage vows recited, and BAM! Marna’s pregnant. Marna’s pregnant even though she has had surgeries to remove pregnancy as even a remote possibility. Marna is pregnant, which means she will die in childbirth because human bodies aren’t capable of handling the birth of even an half Nephilim. Wait until marriage? Golden. Dare to break this archaic laws? Die painfully in childbirth, cause that’s what whores deserve.

****END SPOILER**** Yeah, that’s a serious problem for me.

Another issues is the love triangle, which isn’t really there, but it’s hinted at. Last book, Kopano and Anna kissed, even though she’s like totally not like into him or anything, causing a big rift between Kope and Kai. This book, all that jazz has been settled and Kope actually has a lady friend (I don’t say girlfriend because it’s never officially stated), but that awkward love triangle fest moment still slips in. Then there is Jay and Marna. Jay & Veronica break up at the very beginning of the novel, and he and Marna are together at the first possible second. Again, no official triangle since Jay and Ronnie are totally over, but it’s got the twinges of it because we all know Veronica would flip the fuck out if she knew about it. Them being together leads to the spoilery thing, but does it bother anyone else that they jump into a relationship so quickly? Months without any contact, but it’s okay suddenly to do sleepovers? GRH.

Oh and the character deaths. Let us not forget those! ****SPOILER****As mentioned in the last bit of hidden spoilers, Marna dies in childbirth. It does happen after the end of the official story, but still, it was unnecessary. Patti gets shanked to death to try and make Anna doubt her faith, and obviously Pops goes back to Heaven after the battle when they must choose sides. And Flynn got shot in the last book which royally pissed me off.****END SPOILER****

Despite my personal hangups, I think anyone who has enjoyed the previous books in this series will like this one. It’s a fast-paced thrillride that will keep you enthralled from start to finish. It’s easily the best book of the series, with all the baddies getting their comeuppance and (most) of the goodies riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after. I’m interested to see how I like Higgins’ newer novel, See Me because it’s supposed to be wildly different than this trilogy. I’m more than willing to give it a shot because the woman definitely knows how to write addictive stories. With all my complaints, you’d think this wouldn’t be a series I’d recommend, but I did enjoy it (for the most part) and I think as long as you can tolerate yet another story about a special little snowflake who is the only one with the ability to save the world, you’ll enjoy this.

****Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss 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
PAGES: 352 pages
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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Review for This Side Of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

This Side Of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

TITLE: This Side Of Salvation
AUTHOR: Jeri Smith-Ready
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
PAGES: 384 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

David more or less gave up his life 40 days ago. He’s parents believe in this crazy thing called The Rush, which is basically the Rapture where all the good people are called up to heaven and the baddies get stuck on Earth for the apocalypse. He thinks they are nuts, but he also thinks they need help and he agrees to follow their crazy path, if they swear to get help after the Rushed date comes and nothing happens. But giving up everything hasn’t been easy. He misses his friends, his girlfriend, and baseball like nobodies business. Now the rush has come and gone….and his parents are nowhere to be seen. Can he uncover the mystery of where his parents went? Did they go home to Jesus or is there are more Earthly explanation?

I started this with a bit of trepidation. For me, religion and fiction don’t mix…actually they do because in many cases because I am an atheist so most religions feel a bit fictional to me, but that’s beside the point. In my experience, YA and religion don’t mix well unless it’s a christian (or insert specified religion here) novel. There are very few authors that can even touch of the subject of religion without feeling preachy. I hate being preached to, so I was more than a little nervous here. But I have loved everything I’ve read by Jeri, so I knew I had to give it a chance. She handles the subject matter exceedingly well. David is heavily religious no matter how you look at it so a good portion of this deals with God and the Bible and so on, but I never felt like Jeri was attempting to push that path on me.

Speaking of David, I both applaud his dedication to his family and want to smack him upside his head. The moment when he realizes that he has truly given up everything important in his life for this ridiculous religious ideal his parents are trying to push on him, I wanted to rail at him. How the fuck could you do that? I truly praise you for being so dedicated to forcing your father into the therapy he so desperately needs, but is it really worth it? Aren’t teenagers supposed to rebel? Aren’t you supposed to use those years to realized that it’s your life and not theirs and you must live it to your standards? And don’t even get me started on his parents! How can you do that to your kids? Take away their hopes for the future and force them to give up something so important? Especially when you know certain truths that I won’t reveal? You sir and madam win the bad parent of the year award, along with all the other Rushers.

Mara is the sibling I could really embrace. She’s the “good” child who finally rebels when Mom & Pop attempt to force her into Rushing. She promptly utters a fuck off and says she’ll pay for her schooling herself if they won’t help and proceeds to live her life as independently as she can while still residing under their roof. How can I not love the girl who can’t make herself believe in God and insists on continuing her education despite her idiotic parents naysaying?

This is one of those complex novels that really makes you stop and think about how far you’d go to save your family. Would you be willing to temporarily sacrifice everything? Knowing that you may never get back to where you were? Will your girlfriend still love you when this is over? Will your baseball team let you back in the game (tehehehe, you lose)? It’s pretty addictive, trying to figure out the mystery of the rush.

I only had small two small issues. The first being I’m not a baseball fan and therefore I don’t particularly enjoy reading about baseball. It wasn’t terribly bad, only having a few scenes in the field, but I could have done without them. The second being the way it was written, jumping back and forth between before the Rush and after. I really appreciate the effort in trying to tell the story in a different way and how it catches your attention because you start off with the mystery of where the hell the parents are, but every time it switched time frames, I wanted to skip ahead and see where that particular timeline went. It would have been a bit less frustrating if it was told in a linear timeline.

Beyond those two issues, I really enjoyed this. It was so much more than I was expecting and it couldn’t be more different than Jeri’s previous works. No paranormal romance here, just fanatic Christians and a boy’s journey to come to save what’s left of his family. I recommend it for anyone wanting a novel that will leave you thinking.

****Thank you to Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

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