Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fade to Black ~ Review

Title: Fade to Black
Author: Sue Duff

Publisher: Smashwords
Publication Date: October 10, 2014
Pages: 458
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Illusionist Ian Black has a talent for keeping secrets. College student Rayne Bevan has a gift for uncovering them. She suspects that the popular performer's skills extend beyond the stage and that he's the area’s mysterious and elusive defender of the innocent. In her efforts to uncover the truth, Rayne is swept into the hidden world of the Weir, a magical race who struggle to prevent Earth from self-destructing. Her inquiries expose Ian to those who would kill for his connection to the planet, and as he fights to keep Rayne, and those closest to him safe, they discover a force behind the Weir’s raging civil war—a traitor bent on launching Earth’s Armageddon.

I'll start with the bad because there is only two things, and the bad are my humble opinions really. Nothing more.

First, Fade to Black took a long time to get into. It took nearly a month for me to finish this, so yeah. Loooong time. The story wasn't bad, nor were the characters, the pacing, all of that literal device jargon was fine. What really threw me off from this book was the way it was written and how information was given to me as a reader. So that leads me to the second part of the bad; it was just so confusing!! I understand that a lot of novels just throw you into the plot to hook you into the story. Many (myself included) typically enjoy a good hook. However, all good books needs a backstory, an explanation, some indication of what's going on in our characters lives before all the action stuff carries us away. Without this, readers get lost in the action, trying to figure out what is going on and what it means to the characters. At least, that's how I felt when reading this.

I want to say that the POV is to blame for my confusion, but I don't think I would have liked this book if the POV were shifted to just one character. We see this story through multiple characters. Each have their merits, and provide insight to what's going on, but again it did get confusing to me. I'm still not 100% sure what Ian is. Or Rayne. Maybe this book needs a prequel?

Other than the confusion, I really enjoyed this novel. The characters, main and secondary, were compelling. Ian and Rayne will make a cute couple, once the ball gets rolling. This is an instant attraction but! develops into a slow burn love. Thank heavens. I truly loved the fantasy aspect to this as well. Very interesting, just needed better execution.

Provided by the publisher via Roger Charlie for an honest review. Thank you!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Second Chance Summer ~ Review

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Pages: 468
Genre: Contemporary, Relationships, Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. 
Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

I'll admit that I didn't start really enjoying this one till the end. So fair warning, but you may have to push yourselves past the humdrum to get the really juicy, emotional parts that I might have shed a tear or two at. Honestly, until the end I was teetering between giving this book a 2.5 to 3 stars. Did you see what I gave it? FOUR STARS! The final chapters were truly powerful and really bumped up my opinion, (therefore the rating) of this novel.

Taylor, the protagonist of our story, did something very bad the last time she came to the summer lake house. This "very bad" incident puts her in an awkward position when her family returns years later for one last family vacation and she comes  face to face with the best friends she had at twelve. I'm thinking to myself as I'm reading, how bad could you be at twelve? As the mystery surrounding the "very bad" incident, slowly (and I do mean mind numbingly slowly) becomes unraveled, seriously I think I saw my brain I eye-rolled so hard at the reveal. I don't want to be one of those people who spoils things, so my only comment is this: You were fucking twelve, GET OVER IT. That isn't just for Taylor, but also love-interest Henry and BFF Lucy.

This book could have been so much better if the author had written more about Taylor's family and less about her 12-year-old drama. Every scene that involved Taylor's family, I treasured, especially concerning her dad who I think is my favorite character in this novel.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Courage and Other Demons ~ Review

Title: Courage and Other Demons
Publication Date: January 19, 2013
Pages: 362
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary: The end of the world will start in the suburbs of Denver with a faery transfer student from Ireland. If you think that’s totally ridiculous, then you understand how Maggie O’Neill feels. In all of her sixteen years, faeries were something you read about in children’s books. They didn’t actually show up on your doorstep. They didn’t kiss you and make your knees go weak and whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Until Simon Brady, that is. Simon changed everything. He makes her heart race and her skin burn with excitement, but he has also changed her core beliefs about the world and made her see it as a dark and dangerous place filled with monsters that belong only in the lines of faery tales. There is no doubt in Maggie’s mind that she loves Simon, but can she see past who he is and find a place for him in her heart?

My expectations were misplaced with this one. Based on the synopsis (and the cover), I totally thought I was going into a world where civilization had already been ripped apart and practically ended.

Not so much.

Instead, I went through the normal school days of Maggie. On repeat. For a while. :/ I was hoping since the synopsis flat out tells you what's going on with Simon, we, as readers, wouldn't be subjected to the big reveal of a paranormal creature amongst us. You know, with the heavy breathing, achy chest, and head feeling whooshy that usually accompanies such an event.

While the beginning did drag for awhile, once Maggie is informed of the prophecy and the Irish folklore comes more into play, the novel does go up and up from there. I really enjoyed the Irish stories and have looked further into some of the legends, which are fascinating! 

The relationship between Maggie and Simon bordered on insta-love. Luckily, there's a nice little prophecy to speed things along. (Even if Maggie was one of those stubborn mules that eventually sits after you've been pulling it to go forward.) (Actually, she's just that type of person in regards to everything.) I liked the romance and seeing their rocky relationship from the starting line. There are a lot of obstacles for these two young lovers to overcome, but there's an overlying sense that all will work out in the end. That might be the prophecy talking however...

There's really only one thing that frustrated me. About halfway through the novel, we become aware that there's more than meets the eye in regards to Maggie. As the MC, she's supposed to vanquish the enemy, become the hero, blah blah blah. Yet, there wasn't even a smidgen of a hint of what her "specialness" actually was. Constantly, Maggie kept asking why me? AND NO ONE HAD AN ANSWER! There was absolutely nothing "special" about Maggie. No powers, no insight, absolutely nothing to indicate how in the world this normal human girl is supposed to fight against the coming evil. Overall, I really liked this book, but I needed a little more from this author. For some reason, she wants to play Maggie close to the chest. Not cool, Ms. Daugherty, not cool.

Provided by the publisher via Roger Charlie for an honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Halfway to the Grave ~ Review

Title: Halfway to the Grave
Publication Date: October 30, 2007
Pages: 358
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father - the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner - are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

Wow. I need Bones in my life ASAP. He's a dead ringer (hah!) for Spike off of BtVS, but just much more mmmmmmf. 
I read this in one night. Ill-advised when you're supposed to work the next morning, but really, it couldn't be helped. I was head over heels drawn into this book. Not only did I read this in one night, but I caught a few zzz's, went to work, and then read this book again. Pretty much right after finishing it. IT WAS THAT GOOD! 

Cat isn't a normal girl. Being half-dead does that to a person. Cat is easily one of my favorite heroines, despite some of the actions she takes. She's strong despite everything that she has gone through, and everything she faces within this novel. As for Bones, well, I think I made myself clear on that particular vampire.

I will admit that the supporting characters are not very, well, supporting. They're intentions, demeanor, they're lives seemed insignificant. Even recalling the bad guy in this is a little difficult. Probably because I was so wrapped in the dynamic that is Cat and Bones. Yet I'm still perfectly okay with this. Must've been a great dynamic. ;)
If you want something light, enjoyable, and totally addictive then I highly recommend Halfway to the Grave.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Firebug ~ Review

Title: Firebug
Author: Lish McBride
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse? 
Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss. 
When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

It took me a long time to look past the blurb and sit down to read this one. I'm not sure why the summary put me off, but I'm kicking myself now. Firebug is definitely more on the mature side of YA, so readers beware of sexual, language, and violent content!

Fortunately for me, I adore all of the above so Ava and her cohorts were amazing as well as soothing for my needs! 

In case it hasn't been said yet, Ava is badass. There are a few times that I was wishy-washy with her decisions, but ultimately she is a strong, awesome character that I just wanted to kick ass with. She has restored my faith that YA heroines can be flawless even with their flaws!

I also really enjoyed Ava's relationship with her teammates/ best friends, Lock and Ezra. Their dynamic was powerful and made me a bit envious sometimes. Like, why can't I have a crazy-sexy were-fox and protective, intense half-druid as my best friends. 

Put the three of them together with some on-the-run, start-a-rebellion quest and, people, you've got yourself a fantastic story! Seriously, this book was really refreshing paranormal book that was not all about L-O-V-E. A lot more focused on friendship and loyalty, and I loved that!

 Provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Frenchman ~ Review

Title: The Frenchman
Author: Lesley Young
Publication Date: January 2015 (Originally: December 2, 2014)
Pages: 276
Genre: Romance, Crime, Adult Fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.  
Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the carefree American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands.  
Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s family business will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line. 
Louis (loo-e), I'm afraid to say, didn't capture my heart. He's arrogant, gruff, demeaning, and untrustworthy. I am not saying that he didn't have his moments. But for a good 90% of the book, my lips were curled in a grimace.

I have a feeling that this novel is supposed to take after 50 Shades of Grey, which I've yet had the pleasure of reading. (Sarcasm, my dears. The snippets I've read of 50 Shades makes me want to put it through an industrial shredder.) Let's take a look at the parallels, shall we? The MC is a virgin, the Love Interest is involved in something "bad" and the MC believes their fantasy that her love is good, no matter what discriminating evidence is thrown their way. Not a bad recipe for a book, tbh, but I feel like it could have been just a tad more original. And nicer. At least Christian Grey was polite. 

This novel's Mary Sue, or Fleur, wasn't terrible. In fact, I liked her quite a bit in the beginning. But once Louis' reputation became harder and harder to ignore, I lost a lot of respect for her. Even when Louis practically tells her that he's part of a crime family, she ignores it believing he's "innocent." Puh-lease.

Things do look up in the end when she finally accepts who Louis really is. You think, finally, she gets it. She's going to be stronger for it. She's gonna be ok. Sadly, this makes her act, in my opinion, a little crazy and she makes some, again in my opinion, stupid, stupid decisions.

There were some other elements going on that is mentioned in the summary. I wish that the book had a little bit more to do with Fleur's budding relationship with her mother. But honestly that whole part felt like a plot device for the author to exploit in regards to creating some sort of antagonism for Louis and Fleur. Pretty much every character was a plot device for them, now that I think about it. Le sigh.

I don't believe I will be continuing with the series. As I understand it, it won't be a continuing story of Louis and Fleur (though the book is left open to do so), but will introduce a new international couple. Might check out the blurb and see if it catches my attention.

Provided by the publisher via Roger Charlie for an honest review. Thank you!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Of Metal and Wishes ~ Review

Title: Of Metal and Wishes
Author: Sarah Fine
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

Have you ever just sighed in content while reading a book? That's what happened to me with this one. The language, the writing, ah, I got chills! It is beautiful. Truly gorgeous writing.

Plus it's a reimagined telling of The Phantom of the Opera. How does one simply resist?! While the Ghost isn't nearly as suave as my dear Phantom, he doesn't shy away from his "job." Especially when our MC practically double dog dares him to prove his existence.

I will admit that some of the scenes are grisly. Tastefully done, but still bloody. If Phantom had a warehouse full of meat hooks and dangerous machinery, I shudder to think of what would happen. Ghost was mild compared to the viscousness of Phantom. Even in the beginning, before we really know about Wen's Ghost, I felt that he was a lot more immature than Phantom, and I found the difference lacking. Don't get me wrong, I loved this story's Ghost! Once we learn more about him, he pulled at my heart strings. Just not as much as Phantom.

Now you cannot have a Phantom retelling without Raoul de Chagny. Wen's love triangle (if you can call it that. It's pretty much a given in this one.) involves a foreign red head called Melik. Red heads for the win! (Ayyy, talk about that pun. Go on, say it aloud. Get it? Knew you would, you're a smart cookie.)

Melik is not your typical love interest. For one, red hair. How often do we see a love interest that doesn't have brown or black hair?! My first crush had red hair, I loved my carrot top crush. If he were anything like Melik, I might have married him. Too bad we were in the 2nd grade

Where was I? Oh yes. Melik. Not typical. Right.

Melik is also highly responsible, and is the unofficial leader of the Noors, the "barbaric" foreigners who come to work at the factory. Wen, the MC, falls for him gradually (thank goodness) and I love the development of their relationship. It's complex (different social classes), real (there are trust issues), and stunningly written. (Did I already mention the writing? I think I did.) The ending is what kills me though. --heart breaks--

Now I'm not saying that this is the kind of book that the relationship is the central thing and other elements like plot and all the other parts of people's lives fall by the wayside. Nooooo my friends, I will not steer you wrong. There are so many aspects to this book, and I think because we get to see so much of their lives outside of the romance, it made it all the sweeter for me.

It's not as often an occurrence that I get wrapped up in a book. So glad that I was able to get my hands on this one!!!!