Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Review - Effortless (Thoughtless, Book 2), S.C Stephens

A lot can happen in a year. You grow, you change, you learn from your mistakes. And Kiera had made a lot of mistakes to learn from. But she had learned, and she was determined to never cause a man pain again, especially the amazing man who currently held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it come out the other side unscathed?

Love is easy… trust is hard

So, I wont lie, I feel somewhat hypocritical reading this book given that Thoughtless, the first book in this series, didn't exactly get a sparkling review from me. I hated Kiera to the point where I considered putting the book down, the storyline kinda bored me, and I wasn't blown away with the writing.

The only saving grace, however, was Kellan Kyle, because I'm a total sucker for a boy in a band with a troubled past and possessive tendencies. *sigh*.

He's basically the only reason I picked up Effortless, and while I can't say it was a complete 180 and it's now my favourite book ever, it was definitely a lot more enjoyable than Thoughtless and I didn't consider putting this one down. Huzzah!

So Effortless basically revolves around Kiera and Kellan maintaining their relationship while Kellan goes on tour, with a few little obstacles in between. The story line alone had me enjoying this book much more, simply because I could sympathise with Kiera who faces a lot of worries about Kellan and cheating on tour, groupies, when he's coming home etc etc.

I grew to like Kiera in Effortless and found her a more believable character. She faces some self confidence issues which I think most girls can relate to, and throw in a super hot boyfriend who spends a good deal of time in the company of other attractive females and you've got yourself a believable character.

The sub-characters were also a great deal more interesting, as I found that they offered little to the narrative in Thoughtless. Kiera's sister, Anna, has her own story line going on and more is made of characters like Jenny and Kate, as well as the other D-Bags.

Kellan, as before, was an enjoyable character and his relationship with Kiera became less about the sex and more about the actual bond, which was a nice change up from Thoughtless which predominantly focused on how sexually attractive they found eachother.

Having said that, I still don't have anything amazing to say about Effortless, there was nothing about it that screaming THIS IS AWESOME. I've read a lot of other books involving the whole rock/music/band thing that I enjoyed much more and I've definitely read other new adult/contemporary books that Effortless couldn't hold a torch to. *cue hordes of angry fan-girls*

For that reason I'm going to give Effortless a 3 out of 5, as I did Thoughtless. In my first review I said I wouldn't recommend it, and I think I stand by that, though maybe not as passionately. I won't tell you to put it down, but I'm not shoving it under your nose.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Review - Thoughtless (Thoughtless, Book 1), S.C. Stephens

For almost two years now, Kiera's boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she's ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he's purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes...and none of them will ever be the same.

Firstly, I didn't realise when I first picked up this book how freaking long it was! 530 pages (paperback), is a pretty epic read by any New Adult/Contemporary standards.

Half way through, I was definitely waning. If you've seen any of my GoodReads updates you'll see just how irritated I was becoming with the length of this and how drawn out I feel the storyline was in places. However, I'm glad I didnt review this straight away, because the more I think about it, the more I actually quite liked the elongation of the plot points.

You can tell from the blurb that Kiera gets it on with Kellan, so I'm not giving anything away there, and what I found with Thoughtless is that the length of the book almost brings a sense of realism to the whole situation. Normally, I'm complaining that stories are too short, relationships aren't developed enough, and there's too much wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am going on. But with Thoughtless I really felt the bond between Kiera and Kellan growing.

I liked Kellan as a character and I think Stephens did a good job of portraying his torment about hurting his friend, Denny, by sleeping with Kiera. He fits the typical hot rocker/bad boy mould, but I'm not complaining. Kiera, on the other hand, annoyed the hell out of me. I cannot stand prudish characters and this is exactly what she was. Doesn't swear, doesn't talk about sex, only slept with one guy, blushes a lot - argh I can't stand it. I don't know about you but I don't know a single girl that is THAT prudish.
She annoyed me because not only can I never see someone with Kellan's characteristics looking in her direction, but she spent paaaaaages and paaaaages whining about her problems. For someone so prudish and morally upstanding she sure did a great job of screwing over her long term boyfriend... then whining about it. It bugged me. A lot. For that reason, I actually considered putting the book down part way through, but I stuck it out for Kellans sake.

The story naturally revolved around the whole affair and wasn't too deep. Sub characters were okay, the other D-Bags had some personality, but not loads. The writing was okay, nothing spectacular. All in all it was a pretty average book and I've given it a 3 out of 5. I probably wouldn't recommend it, but I am currently reading Effortless (Thoughtless, Book 2) so what do I know?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review - Backstage Pass (Sinners on Tour, Book 1), Olivia Cunning

Five stunning guys, one hot woman, and a feverish romance... For him, life is all music and no play...

When Brian Sinclair, lead songwriter and guitarist of the hottest metal band on the scene, loses his creative spark, it will take nights of downright sinful passion to release his pent-up genius...

She's the one to call the tune... When sexy psychologist Myrna Evans goes on tour with the Sinners, every boy in the band tries to seduce her. But Brian is the only one she wants to get her hands on...

Then the two lovers' wildly shocking behavior sparks the whole band to new heights of glory... and sin...

Okay so I wasn't sure what I was expecting from this book. I mean, I knew it was erotica but I didn't realise it was EROTICA. I'm talking no holds barred, threesomes, sex in public places, back-door action (and not in the typical way) kind of erotica.

I'm not going to talk too much about it because it may offend some of your lovely YA ears, but it wasn't my kind of thing. Now, I actually like a bit of naughty, but this wasn't for me. I picked it up because I'd read some reviews that said there was a pretty decent story line in Backstage Pass, but if there was, I missed it completely. So that was a big let down.

I also had no idea how to pronounce the protagonists name, which irritated me quite a lot. Petty, I know, but I cant connect with someone if I don't know their name! Myrna (I pronounced it Mer-Nah) was also fixated on the fact she was older than Brian, and highlighted it on a regular basis, which only made her come across as whiny and a bit self-obsessed. Brian was just as bad, being the ultimately clingy boyfriend and not in a Travis Maddox, passionate, you-are-mine, kind of way. Just in a, Jesus-get-over-it, kind of way.

I always love the rock band theme so that's what kept me going. Cunning clearly knows a bit about music so I did enjoy some of the language she used and the general flow of the book was okay. But the sex scenes were quite repetitive and the actual sex wasn't my cup of tea and didn't give me the warm and fuzzies.

Some of the other characters were mildly entertaining and I've heard that the other books in the series are based around them. However, they're not that entertaining that I think I'll give the rest a go.

I've given Backstage Pass a 3 out of 5, but to be honest, I probably wouldnt recommend it. I think there are much better rock band based erotica's out there.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Review - Lonely Souls (Witch Avenue Series, Book 1), Karice Bolton

It’s two weeks before Triss turns 18, and her world is about to change into the most magical one imaginable as she readies herself to enter The Witch Avenue Order... that is until her mother’s disappearance. Instead of celebrating her transformation, she finds herself spreading rose petals into her mother’s empty grave.

When Logan, her best friend from junior high, moves back to town for college, he vows to help her find the answers she so desperately seeks surrounding her mother’s disappearance. As they begin uncovering clues, it becomes apparent that the life of white magic they both grew up loving is not what the majority practices, and their lives are in danger.

With a haunting feeling that her mother may still be alive, she begins to hear a call to the wilderness. Triss realizes that in order to find the answers she needs, she must learn the ways of her ancestors and become the hunter, not the hunted before it’s too late, and she becomes part of the lonely souls.

This was the first book in a very, very long time that I considered giving up on. Had I not felt insanely guilty by doing so, I would have given up after about 25%.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting with Lonely Souls, but we've all established that I'm a huge cover whore so I was more than willing to give it a go. Given the name, it was a fair assumption that this would be a witch based YA book, which I was fine with, but I finished it feeling like it never really began.

The main reason I was set to give up on it was the writing (ignoring storyline and characters for now). The writing was a huge turn off for me. Not only was the language repetitive and not particularly advanced, I got the strong impression that Bolton has no idea how an 18 year old would talk. I cant count the amount of 'who talks like that?' moments I came across and I found it extremely difficult to associate with the characters in any way as a result of this. The dialogue was boring and wooden, giving away absolutely nothing about the characters, and the actual structure of it had me re-reading quite a lot of paragraphs so I could actually establish who was talking.

So, I wasnt getting off to a great start. Then I started evaluating the characters. Triss, for me, was a terrible protagonist. She had very little personality, to the point where I'm not entirely sure how to review her. There was just nothing about her. She was relatively whiny and her obsession with Logan completely detracted from the fact that her mother was missing, perhaps dead. She definitely played up to the helpless heroin stereotype, which is my ultimate pet peeve.

Logan wasn't any better. You could tell Bolton was trying to portray him as the good old YA bad-boy but it just didn't work at all. He wasn't smooth enough, there wasn't enough description of him to make me swoon, and his dialogue wasn't particularly witty or flirtatious. He returned Triss's obsession but it irritated me more with him as he was supposedly madly in love with her for the years they've been apart, blah blah blah. Yeah alright, what 18 year do you know that turns girls down for a chick he hasn't seen in 2 years?

The storyline was... well, I'm not quite sure what the storyline was because to me it just seemed like it was about Triss and Logan fighting their annoying teenage feelings of lust for each other. The foundations for a decent plot were all there but nothing was elaborated on enough to really grab you. I got to the end of the book wondering what the hell the last 290 pages were about and when the real action was going to kick in.

There were moments in the storyline that felt reminiscent of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series and once I found myself making that comparison, Lonely Souls was done for.

I think I've established from reading Lonely Souls that I don't like witch novels. Something about witches just doesn't do it for me, and once Logan whipped out a wand, I was out. Harry Potter was pushing it for me, and Clare only just got away with the Steele, but I'm sorry, wands are not cool.

When I come across books like this it's usually the action that helps me see them through, but in Lonely Souls there wasn't any (this is why wands suck, who can kick ass with a 5 inch stick?). There was one almost-fight-scene towards the end of the novel but it lasted all of 5 seconds and didn't have me white knuckled as other well written action scenes have me.

All in all, I just felt Lonely Souls was a weak book that seemed to have lost its way when it comes to plot and general purpose. I wont be reading any more of the series and I wont be recommending it. Because I hate giving 1 star I'm going to give it a 2 out of 5.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Review - Bad Rep, A. Meredith Walters

"Who gives a damn about their reputation? Oh, that would be me! Especially since mine had gone straight to hell in the span of thirty minutes".

Maysie Ardin is soaking up the summer before her junior year of college, shopping, hanging by the pool and shopping some more. But when her black belt in spending lands her in trouble with her parents, she is forced to take a second job at a local bar to dig herself out of a deep financial pit.

She thought she’d be miserable. But then Maysie didn’t count on Jordan Levitt, the hot, pierced and tattooed, drum playing bartender who also happens to be very interested in her. And the feelings are totally mutual.

It had the makings of the perfect romantic set up. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy has girlfriend? Okay, maybe not.
But attraction is a hard thing to ignore and soon Jordan and Maysie find themselves in the middle of a gossip induced firestorm. Maysie has to learn whether she can set aside her fear of public disapproval in order to be with the one she wants. Or will she let the opinions of others dictate her life and her heart?


I should probably start by telling you that Jessica Sorensen (The Secret of Ella & Micha, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden) has officially ruined the NA/Contemporary genre for me. I can't help but compare everything to her writing, which is just flawless. So when it comes to reading books like Bad Rep, they're really going up against Sorensen in an all out, no holds barred battle for NA perfection.

Unfortunately, Bad Rep started off on the back foot for me anyway, with the whole sorority/fraternity concept. Being a Brit and not having this kind of culture in our Universities, it's hard for me to relate to, and as someone that's never really striven for that kind of nicey nicey social acceptance, I find it all a little melodramatic. And that's how I found Bad Rep.

I didn't enjoy the story line because of this, and I therefore found Maysie as a main character a little whiny and somewhat pathetic. I very much sided with her room mate, Riley, in that it was totally lame to be thinking her whole life was crashing around her because she'd lost the respect of a sorority (for something she brought on herself, may I add).

There was little in the story line that kept me really entertained, and the major plot points weren't particularly dramatic. I was waiting for someone to get hit by a bus or for the school to burn down (anything!), thinking that the entire book couldn't possibly revolve around one half-hearted, teenage affair at a college, but alas, it did.

Another 'unfortunately' for Bad Rep is that it touched on my big big biggest pet peeve when it comes to this genre (and YA for that matter): 24 hour love. And in this case, it was literally, 24 hours. In 24 hours Jordan had become so completely infatuated with Maysie that he decided to screw over his girlfriend of 3 years (who he wasn't happy with anyway, just leave her for Christ sake?!), risk his position in his fraternity, which is apparently so important, and try and get Mays in the sack. It's just everything I dislike about establishing relationships.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Jordan as a character, and it was nice to read a NA book that didn't revolve around the guy being the indecisive one, but it wasn't strong enough for me to really sympathise with any of their actions.

I'm not going to write a long review on this because to be completely honest, I dont have that much to say. I couldn't relate to the story line and the plot points were weak, the writing was okay, nothing particularly superb, and the sex scenes were alright, the characters weren't irritating by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasnt an exciting book.
Theres definitely books I'd recommend above this one in this genre, so I'm giving it a 2.5 out of 5 (3 stars on GoodReads)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Review - Beautiful Disaster, Jamie McGuire


Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Beautiful Disaster is a re-read for me, but as I didn't review it the first time round, I'll do it now. This was hands down one of my favourite books of 2012. If not THE favourite book of 2012. There is so much about it I love that I kind of feel the need to do it as a list rather than a proper review, so that's what I'm gonna do.

The characters
If you've read any of my previous reviews you've probably picked up on a couple of my pet peeves when it comes to main characters; a major one of which is indecisiveness You know what I mean, the whole 'will they/wont they' kind of thing. The 'I love him, but we can't be together. Oh wait, yes we can. Oh no we really can't'. That whole thing just pisses me off. Come on guys, lets just get together than throw in a nice juicy obstacle rather than beating around the bush.

Well, anyway. Beautiful Disaster actually played up to that pet peeve for me, but its probably the only book I've read where I just didn't care. Everything else about it was that damn good. The main reason it didn't bother me so much was because McGuire actually justified that attitude. Abby and Travis have so many issues between them that even I was changing my mind about their relationship.

Both characters are so well thought out, with intricate and sympathy-inducing histories and their actions revolved around these perfectly. I felt like I really understood why decisions were being made, or people were being pushed away, that I can just let that peeve go.

On top of that, both characters were likable. I freaking loved Travis, so much so that he has officially been crowned my book boyfriend of 2012. Not only is he a total bad-ass, but he's very funny, cute in the right places, angry when its justified, and hot as hell to boot. His extreme personality is perfectly balanced by Abby's more serene one and his devotion to her is seriously heartbreaking.

Abby is more my kind of character, although she has her occasional face plant moments, she generally didn't piss me off and made most of the decisions I think I would have done in that situation. She approaches Travis with caution and makes the smart move of not buying a one way ticket to Crazy-in-Love-Land like most lead females do.

The story line
I loved everything about it. Although it starts off as your typical college romance, there's a more sinister side to it with Travis's fighting and Abby's past that turn it from something mundane, into something seriously exciting and completely original.

When I first read it through and I got to the whole Mick/Benny/Vegas story line I was completely taken aback, well and truly convinced the college would be the main setting for the book. Not only did it change it up when it risked getting dull, but it added a more adult side to Beautiful Disaster that most books in the YA or NA genre still lack.

The action/entertainment
There was bucket loads. Seriously, like I just said, the whole Vegas thing was an exciting turn of events, as was the event at the school (trying not to spoil), and adding Travis's fights in there, too, it was packed with fantastic action and entertainment.

I never felt like the book was winding down and the sheer amount of different little drama's that were going on kept me completely and utterly hooked.

The writing
I have a bit of a thing for the way a book is actually written, not just stuff like grammar and punctuation but the actual vocabulary used and how appropriate it is. And ding ding ding, you guessed it, Beautiful Disaster checked out on all fronts. The language was beautiful and reflected the genre, each character had a different style of speak, the writing flowed really well, chapters didn't drag, plot points didn't drag. and everything was just flawless.

Seriously, 5 out of 5 across the board. The only thing I wanted when I finished this book was to maybe get more of an insight into Travis's past and to see things through his eyes, AND WHADDYA KNOW, McGuires' next book, Walking Disaster, is exactly that. Cannot freaking wait.

It's out on April 2nd and I'll definitely be picking it up.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review - Hush Hush (Hush Hush, Book 1), Becca Fitzpatrick (WARNING: Super, epic rant)


Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

I am a huge cover-whore so I was immediately drawn to this book (kudos James Porter for one of my favourite covers), I love the fallen angels premise and I was intrigued by the name, pair that with some great reviews I've read and I was preparing for good things from Hush Hush.

Unfortunately, it didnt quite deliver. The story was scatty, not always making sense, unnecessary plot points (I'll elaborate later), not particularly original, and not particularly exciting. The characters were quite dull (Vee was okay, entertaining), I didn't learn enough to really care about any of them, and at times their behaviour was completely uncomprehendable and unexplained.

I don't tend to do this but I'm going to explain each point because I don't want to just incoherently babble about how disappointed I was with the book.

Story line/Plot points/Action
When I think of a fallen angel story line I envision darkness, action, passion, battles, heaven, hell, and all that kind of jazz. Now clearly Fitzpatrick has thought of those things, too, but the mistake she's made (in my eyes) is trying to squeeze them all into one story. It's like she's taken every paranormal YA cliche available and thought 'yes, that needs to go in'.
  • Fallen angel with no wings? Check. 
  • Interference from Heaven? Check. 
  • Fallen angel falls for weak, human girl? Check.
  • Other fallen angel wants human girl, too? Check. 
  • Human girl has sarcastic best friend? Check. 
  • Human girl(s) get kidnapped and fallen angel has to save them? Check.
  • Angel ex-girlfriend of fallen angel has it in for human girl? Check. (Okay, so maybe that ones a bit specific, but its not the first time I've seen it)
There's actually two different story lines going on and this is probably the main thing that turned me off. You have Elliot and Jules (Chauncey) being all sneaky and playing the obvious villains, then you have Debria gunning for Nora over a matter completely unrelated (the ex-girlfriend thing). Both are weak story lines but put them together and you've got a novel of rookie-mistake-making, self-indulgent, barely-there-fallen-angel-references, that don't hit anywhere near the nail.

There's so many things unexplained, too. Why is Elliot such a nutso? Jules briefly explains how he needed to test Elliot's loyalty, so he makes him kill his girlfriend? Now, I'm assuming Jules has worked his dark angel voodoo magic on Elliot's mind to achieve this, but that's only a guess, it's not explained, and neither is his mental push-Nora-against-the-house-drunk-at-6am behaviour.

Towards the end of the book, Vee starts getting a little psycho, too. She confesses that she's been seeing Jules on the sly but that's all that gets mentioned. Literally. Right, so the protagonists best friend is supposedly dating of the the narratives top prospective villains, and we get one mention of it? Again, surely Jules would be working some kind of voodoo magic on Vee for a specific purpose? He doesn't exactly strike me as the kind of guy that would be dating her for fun. Plant some ideas in Vee's head and try and get her to convince Nora, take over her body for your strange annual body-snatchers event, hell, even kill her to prove a point... but no? nothing?

And Action? There was none. Nora spent the whole book running and hiding, Patch didn't do very much, and Jules threw a few punches.

Characters/Character development
I've briefly touched on some of these already but I'm on a roll, so lets do it again. Elliot, Jules, and Debria are not strong characters and proved to be anticlimactic villains whose motives seemed slightly watered down and a bit boring to be honest. They're all so obvious. Elliot has a neon sign over his head from the start, Jules' behaviour was a huge ding ding ding, and Debria conveniently showing up at the same time as everything else kicking off is just too easy.

There was no suspense, no sense of who done it? Vee's mental behaviour even had me suspecting her at one point, and not in a oh my god, maybe its HER kind of way, more of a Jesus, really? *rolls eyes* kind of way. While she's funny, her actions are irritating and she's the kind of bimbo that you can see falling over and dying first in every horror movie ever made. In fact, I probably would have enjoyed it if she had died. At least something exciting would have happened. (Like when Paris Hilton got speared through the head in House of Wax)

Nora is one of the heroins that I hate (sorry). She makes dumb-ass decisions, changes her mind so much it makes me dizzy, totally ignores her better judgement, and is just dull, whiny character. Her relationship with Patch is headache-inducing to the point I was routing for Patch to just leave her the hell alone. "He wants to kill me. Oh, no he doesnt. Oh, yes he does. Oh my god I love him." It was like being in the audience of the worlds worst pantomime.

Patch is the only saving grace in Hush Hush, and that's purely because bad-boys are awesome. I would have liked more brooding and sexy one-liners, but given that the majority of book was a disappointment, I'll take what I can get. Although the narrative was from Nora's perspective, I didn't feel much relationship development between her and Patch. One moment he's aloof and hard to work out, then Jules is all 'Patch is in love with you, Nora'...Erm, what? When did that happen?
I had such high expectations for the book (damn you, cover art), but unfortunately it left me wanting more. I feel like I need to go and read a Laury Falter book just to get my fallen angel craving out of my system.

I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5. I'll probably read the next in the series just to see if it perks up. But if I feel the same after book 2, I'm not reading any more. I wouldn't recommend it, but if you already have it, I wont tell you to put it down.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Review - Opal (Lux, Book 3), Jennifer Arementrout

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.
Together we’re stronger... and they know it

I'm starting from the back here because I can't physically keep it in - OH MY GOD. The ending of this book actually had me crapping my pants. It had to happen, really, we all knew it was gonna happen to someone eventually but I still freaked out when it did. And to top it all off, I now have no idea how long I have to wait for the next book. (Jennifer, if you're reading this, and I'll make sure you do, LET ME BE A BETA READER?! Give me an ARC, Jesus, even the first chapter!)

I know, I know, you're probably sick of my Lux reviews by now because they all pretty much say the same thing. "ERMAHGERD these books are so freaking awesome, go and buy them, 5 stars, gush gush gush."

Obsidian (book 1) Review - Onyx (Book 2) Review

Seriously though, Opal is even more kick ass, with even more revelations, even more secrets, betrayal, deception, romance, naughtiness, tension, relief and just about everything else a book needs to have you crying, cheering, and panting in the right places.

The action scenes are hold-your-breath-until-you-re-blue, the romance scenes are interrupt-me-and-I'll-kill-you, the story line is-HOLY-SHIT, the characters are either be-my-best-friend or -MARRY-ME.

Dawson has returned, Blake is back and causing even more trouble (we all knew leaving him alive was a bad idea right?!), Dee is still distancing herself from Katy following the loss of Adam, Daemon is still desperately trying to get Katy to confess she loves him, Arum are still trying to kill them all, the DOD is still sniffing around, and there's also Prom to contend with.

I've worn myself out with my last 2 reviews on this series so please go and read them, and please go and buy these books because they're just awesome. 5 stars, again. Nothing more to say.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Review - Easy, Tammara Webber

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

Easy follows the story of Lucas and Jacqueline, two college undergrads who are brought together by an attempted sexual assault on Jacqueline. Lucas soon discovers the events surrounding Jacqueline play a little too close to the events that almost destroyed his childhood and we watch two struggle to deal with a haunted past and a dangerous present.

While the general tone of the story is relatively dark, Webber manages to present some touching and bright moments that'll have you exhaling the sympathetic breath you didn't know you were holding (and not just at the naughty scenes).

My first impressions of Easy was that it was beautifully written in all aspects. The language was lovely, not too childish but not overly adult, the dialogue was entertaining the pace of the story flowed pretty well, and it was generally quite a nice book to read.

The one thing I did LOVE about Easy, was that, not once, did Lucas or Jacqueline say those three dreaded words! I thought that was a brilliant and mature step for Webber to make as it made their relationship that bit more chaotic. I often find there's something so final about characters in this genre saying 'I love you'. It's like those words are the answer to a simple problem, but not with Easy. The lack of those words only added to the chaotic feeling of actually falling in love.

Given the subject matter that is ever present throughout the book, it's hard not to notice the little messages of not only female empowerment, but of male empowerment, too. Usually, I get majorly turned off by subliminal messaging in books, but I didn't feel like that with Easy. I finished this book feeling proud of the decisions made, and confident that not all men are the devil! (Which a lot of women seem to think, unfortunately)

The reason I'm not giving it any more than 4 stars is that I don't feel the story line, although it flowed well, was particularly strong or unique in any way. Lucas's childhood confessions were also a little rushed for me and I didn't really feel a build up in his decision to tell Jacqueline about his past.

I'd still recommend it for any NA/mature YA readers and give it a wobbly 4 out of 5 (I'd maybe give it a 3.75 but I'm not feeling that pedantic today).

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Review - Death Sentence (Last City on Earth, Book 1), Rhiannon Paille

"May today be the day she dies," Jonathan said.

Fable Ketterling is the only immortal in the last city on earth. Thirteen hundred and five years of captivity, fame, and death.

Temperance Day is the only day Fable sees the sun, and each year, she hopes it’s her last.

Let me just start by saying that Death Sentence wasn't what I was expecting at all. Although I knew it was a short story, more of an introduction to the series rather than an entire novel, I was blown away by the intensity Paille fit into such a short piece of writing.

We're thrown straight into the world of earth as it is in 3325CE/1305TE and introduced to a handful of characters that will obviously be playing pivotal roles within the rest of the series, or at least in the next book.

The short story revolves around Fable Ketterling and her annual performance as the last immortal on earth. I won't give away much of the story, partly because its still only just touched upon in Death Sentence, and partly because I want you to go and read the book for yourself.

Paille is one of my favourite writers when it comes to descriptive language, and given that the vast majority of Death Sentence is an epic battle scene, you can guess why I was so captivated by this book. There's flame throwers, zombies, bears, zombie bears, tigers, obstacle courses, and a load of other kick ass stuff that'll make you wish you were as bad ass at Fable. It's one of those bits of writing that catches your breath; its tense, its compelling, its nerve racking, but at the same time, it makes you feel truly sorry for Fable and everything she's had to endure in her 1321 years of life.

And most importantly, it makes me want to read the rest of the series. How is Fable the only one left? Who exactly is Jonathan Cray? Why are his eyes 'warm' when the rest of his family has tortured her for so long? How did Hattie become the choreographer of Fable's annual death show?

Ahh so many questions I want answered! Fable seems so docile in Death Sentence, making no attempt to hurt any of the people that keep her bound in chains 40 stories underground, but the thoughts are there. "I could have killed them in three seconds, snap, snap, leave them lying on the floor."

There's something deeply menacing about this strange earth, and something even more troubling about Fable Ketterling. I fully intend to find out what that is. Fantastic teaser for the Last City on Earth series. A solid 4 out of 5.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Review - Onyx (Lux, Book 2), Jennifer Armentrout

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Alriiiiight, so you know in my review of the first Lux book, Obsidian, I wen't off on one about how great and refreshing the storyling is for this series? Yeah, I'm doing that again.

I wont cover the main characters too much, go and read the first review, but Daemon remains heart cripplingly swoonworthy, Katy is still heart cripplingly swooning, and the rest of the Blacks remain a stable contstant, adding to the storyline where needs be.

However, we do meet a new character in Onyx and that is Blake Saunders from sunny California. Blake conveniently turns up at school during a rather tumultuous time in the story line and conveniently takes an immediate liking to Katy, Daeman conveniently doesn't trust him, and Blake conveniently ends up confessing his knowledge of the Luxen, the Arum, and the DOD, conveniently offering to help Katy with a few... issues she has going on. Convenient. (really trying not to give away the story line here).

So anyway, that alone should give you a pretty good clue as to how good the storyline for the second instalment in the Lux series is. There is A TON more stuff going on than just that and the whole thing is just an action packed, romance filled, alien orgy. Its great.

There are a few gasp moments that I didn't see coming and a few 'awww come on' moments that I saw a mile off (Will, anyone?). Not that it spoils the flow of things. Armentrout is really good at sneaking in bits of information then distracting you with a completely different direction in the story line that doesnt leave you with a constant of obvious plot points.

Naturally, the relationship between Katy and Daemon progresses and the thing I love about it is that its not like BANG we're in love. Katy, although at times she slips slightly into the I-make-dumbass-decisions type of heroin I dislike, generally seems to have her wits about her and doesn't go diving head first a pool of Daemon. The same applies to him, too. History with his brother's death over his relationship with a human puts Daemons guard up and while you know that ultimately they will confess their undying love for eachother, the journey they take to get there is actually really nice.

Loved Onyx just as much as I loved Obsidian, maybe even more. Another rare (though becoming less rare) 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Review - Obsidian (Lux, Book 1), Jennifer Arementrout

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don't kill him first, that is.

With a cover like that you can probably guess that Obsidian offers swoon by the bucket-load, danger by the ton, and just about everything else that has YA readers everywhere weak at the knees.

Following Daemon Black and Katy Swartz, Obsidian is less of a typical fantasy love story and more of a -drop-kick-you-in-the-heart, jaw dropping, bare-knuckle kind of whirlwind that'll have you sighing with swoon and taut with tension in equal measure. Oh, and there's aliens. You heard her. Aliens.

The story line for the whole Lux series is awesome and while Armentrout technically calls her extraterrestrial race 'aliens', she writes them in such a way that the idea of little green men wont even cross your mind. The Luxen are beautiful, freaky powerful forces of light who just so happen to have chosen the human form of sexy as hell American teenagers.

The baddies, because there's always baddies, are an equally dangerous alien race called the Arun; forces of darkness. Obsidian is very much the battle of light versus dark and it's actually quite refreshing to read something that keeps it in the family in terms of species. Don't get me wrong, I love me a good vampires vs werewolves, but theres something much more intense about civil war. More deception, more betrayal, and nearly matching abilities, making for some heart pounding fight scenes.

Alien Daemon and human Katy ('Kitten') are both really likable main characters (one more than the other, jus' sayin') and while there is no doubt that the story is based around their will they/wont they relationship, theres enough action to keep things spiced up on the ass kicking front, too. And more importantly, the story line is interesting. So many YA books let the relationship completely dominate the narrative but Obsidian lets the drama surrounding the Luxen race take equal reign.

It's very well written, too. Not too preppy or high school inner-monology, but with just enough teen angst to plant its feet well and truly in the YA genre.

I really enjoyed reading this opening in the Lux series and genuinely can't think of anything I don't like about it. For that reason its getting a rare 5 out of 5. Original, sexy, tense; Perfect YA.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review - The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, Jessica Sorensen

Okay, so Jessica Sorensen is officially my new favourite person in life. I'm not even going to bother posting up a blurb about this book because all you need to know is that you have to go and read it right now.

If you're a fan of NA/contemporary books then there's no doubt in my mind that you will fall completely in love with this story.

I tend to stick to YA fantasy stuff but every now and then I take a break in favour of something a little more mushy, enter Jessica Sorensen. After reading The Secret of Ella & Micha I wasn't too sure how good or different Callie & Kayden's story would be but oh my god.

Its painful, its beautiful, its passionate, its devastating, and while I sometimes struggle to sympathise/empathise with storylines like this, I found myself in complete agony for both of the main characters.

Sorensen is such a beautiful writer and has an amazing way of entwining the main narrative and dialogue of her books with the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Cheesy as it is, she's the kind of writer that really takes you on their journey and I truly felt like there were times I was drowning along with them.

I found myself grinning like an idiot just as much as I felt sorrow, and I'm pretty sure I didn't take a breath for the last few chapters. You know those times when you don't realise that your whole face is contorted with tension, like real ugly style, until you try and stretch out your muscles? That's how the ending of this book made me feel.

With most NA books, or even romance in general, I tend to find that the storyline moves a little too fast paced for me, ala Twilight, when Bella falls in love with Edward after like, a day, but the relationship between Callie and Kayden flowed perfectly. I felt the trust building between the two, even after both of their traumatic pasts, and even found myself revelling in the joy that that kind of relationship would bring two people so hurt.

I know this is less of a review and more of a gushy demand to go and read this book, but seriously, if you like this genre then I bet my house you will love this.

5 out of 5 stars, I'm begging Sorensen for a copy of the second book right now.

Review - The Secret of Ella & Micha, Jessica Sorensen

Ella and Micha have been best friends since they were kids. But one tragic night shatters their friendship and their lives forever.

Ella used to be a rule-breaker with fiery attitude who wore her heart on her sleeve. But she left everything behind when she went to college and transformed into someone that follows the rules, keeps everything together, and hides all her problems. But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home.

Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. If Micha tries to tempt the old her back, she knows that it will be hard to resist.

Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella’s skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he’s determined to bring his best friend, and the girl he loves back, no matter what it takes.

I don't read too many NA/Contemporary books, and those that I do, I don't tend to review. I don't know why, has just worked out that way. But every now and then I'll come across a book that I adore so much, I have to let you know. This is one of those books.

Firstly, the main thing I love about this book is that its so beautifully written it feels like every chapter could be the end. You know those moments in books where the last paragraph or last sentence is just heartbreaking, and you think "this has got to be the ending, that's too stunning for it not to be". And every time I came across that moment, I let out a sigh of relief when I turned the page and realised I had yet more of Sorensen's gorgeous writing to indulge in.

I won't lie and say that the story line is unpredictable or particularly original but where Sorensen does differ from other typical NA books is that her characters are so strong. Ella and Micha are fantastic protagonists, neither one lacks self-preservation, neither is too whiny or irritating, and the way their personalities brighten when they're interacting is really refreshing for this genre.

I couldn't help but make comparisons to Abbi Glines The Vincent Boys, given the whole hick-town, bad background similarities (this is what I mean by nothing particularly original), and every time I did, Ella & Micha came out on top by a country mile.

The ending was superb and again contributes to how much I loved the strength of the characters. Ella & Micha refuse to be defined by their pasts, and while Ella does have a few wobbles, they're not persistent enough for her to become irritating or for me to lose interest with her as I find I do with a lot of main characters of this genre.

The Secret of Ella & Micha was one of the rare books that I read from start to finish in one sitting, in around 5 hours, and I got up this morning to find that The Forever of Ella & Micha wasn't even out yet! Devastated. So now I'm going to continue to fill my NA craze with The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (also by Sorensen), purely because if the writing is anywhere near as beautiful as Ella & Micha, I know I'm going to love it.

A solid 4.5/5 for Ella & Micha (a 5 on GoodReads).

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Review - Crushed Seraphim, Debra Anastasia

How does a foul-mouthed angel end up as the last hope for all of Heaven and Earth?

When Seraph Emma is maimed and tossed from Heaven by a rogue angel who's taken charge, she fears she'll never be allowed to return. Tasked with the impossible job of showing the self-loathing (and not even human!) Jason his worth, Emma is sure she's doomed to fail.

Meanwhile, having wormed his way into Heaven, the corrupt Everett has trapped God in Hell and has designs on unleashing evil everywhere. Fortunately, if there's one thing Emma can't do (in addition to minding her language), it's give up. Determined to save Jason and get back to Heaven-even if it means going to Hell-Emma's plan is simple yet impossible: trick the Devil to save God.

What she doesn't count on is the devotion and, well, humanity she finds in Jason; the spirit, hidden compassion, and raw sex appeal within the Devil; and the vulnerability of her own heart. With the help of two unlikely allies, she'll wage the battle for Heaven. But will Emma be sidetracked by a new sort of heaven along the way?

What's truly more dangerous? Falling from Heaven, or falling in love?

There were a few things about this book that I loved, and a few things that didn't quite do it for me. From the blurb above you can guess there's 3 main characters, Emma (Seraph angel), Jason (Half-breed vampire), and Jack (the Devil).

Jack, for me, was the best character, and I'm sure anyone who's read it will agree with me. He's sexy, feisty, funny, and just an all round likable guy, despite the fact that, you know, he's the Devil. Emma is a strong protagonist with a quick wit, a few funny one liners, and a generally kick-ass personality. Jason, on the other hand, was pretty dull. Maybe I expect too much of my vampires but he wasn't bad-ass enough and we don't really learn enough about him for me to particularly care about him.

I found that Emma's enthusiasm died down a bit towards the end of the book, which was a little disappointing, but Jack stayed strong and interesting which was enough to keep me going.

There's some steamy scenes for you romance lovers, as well as a juicy love triangle that keeps you hooked. As with any menage et toi's, a decision must be made, and certain events were sneaky at throwing you off course as to who that would be.

Storyline-wise, it wasn't particularly spectacular and I think a few details were maybe overlooked or things/characters weren't explained enough, making me think for a moment about what was going on (not in a good way, more in a 'huh?' kind of way).

It's worth a read but I wouldn't say it was what I expected. I wanted more kick-ass angels (I don't really think the half-breed vampire race was really needed or fit particularly well) and epic battles, Amy A. Bartol or Laury Falter style, but it was just out of reach with Crushed Seraphim.

I've already bought the second book in this series, Bittersweet Seraphim, so I'll get round to reading it eventually but I'm not picking it up straight away. A solid 3 out of 5.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Review - Pantomime, Laura Lam

Right, so I think I'm missing something with this book. I had seriously high expectations for it, seeing more 5 star reviews than I've seen in a long time. Maybe even ever. But, I'm not really sure I see why?

The writing style is great, I'll give Lam that. She does a good job of being consistent with the language she uses and even goes that little bit further with the little quotes at the start of each paragraph, I liked that touch. However, that's honestly as far as my enjoyment of this goes.

I think for me, the book struggles to decide what it is. Is it a romance? Is it a fantasy? Is it a drama, even? It's a little bit of everything, but not really that great at being anything. Jack of all trades... as they say.

The characters weren't particularly strong; Micah I found quite annoying and lacking personality. Lam tries, and to a degree, succeeds in presenting the emotional turmoil that his condition causes him (I'm sticking with 'him'), but it quickly grows quite tiresome and I became quite irritated by some of the decisions he makes around it.

His relationship with Aenea I just thought was a little silly and lacked self-preservation. There's not even any real thought put into it on Micah's part. I'd have expected him to try and distance himself from her, try not to be discovered etc. but there was none of that. I ended up feeling no sympathy for Micah.

Drystan was probably my favourite character, the most grounded and the certainly most believable. But again, his relationship with Micah is another that I found a little silly. Rushed is probably the best way to describe it. You spent the majority of the book not really hearing much about him, only that Micah finds him attractive, and then the end... Well, I wont give it away.

I don't feel like I've been given enough of a teaser regarding the magical/Penglass side of things to care enough about reading another book. To me, it read like a runaway romance that tried to be a bit magical, but didn't get it right.

I'd love to pick it up a bit and say that the story line was good but I finished the book feeling like I hadn't even reached the crux of it. I wanted more, and not in a good 'oh-my-god-give-me-the-next-book-right-now' kind of way. Maybe that was the point, but I get the impression that the second book is now going to be this huge magical adventure, having a completely different vibe to Pantomime and I'm not sure how I feel about that. The idea of Pantomime was great because of the circus and the metaphor behind the actual pantomime, but I don't see how Lam can carry that into another book given the ending.

I know, I know, I'm being far too harsh but I just cant justify giving this book any more than about 2 stars. Honestly, I probably wouldn't recommend it and I don't think I'll be reading any more of the series.