Monday, September 30, 2013

Red Hill ~ Jamie McGuire

Red HillRed Hill by Jamie McGuire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5-4 stars

A romance that takes place during the zombie apocalypse. What's not to love, right?

Well, there were several things that I did love about this book.

I liked that the zombie aspect wasn't watered down (yet definitely not overly gory).

I enjoyed the differing POV's. I know that multiple points of view in a story annoy some people, but I quite enjoy them when done well, as they were here. I loved how each character's storyline intersected with each other throughout the first half of the book, so when they all do finally converge at Red Hill, it made sense.

Where the story started to lose some of it's punch, was during the last third or so of the book - when the focus shifted to the rather melodramatic romances between several of the main characters.

Nathan was a great character when he was running for his life and trying to protect his daughter, Zoe. Scarlet was a badass when she was searching for her two missing daughters. But put them together? Not so much. Their relationship had this whole 'insta-love' feel to it that I just did not buy. And the love triangle that developed between 3 of the other characters also didn't really work for me as well. My problem was that I really liked all of these characters...until they started to really interact with each other.

Speaking of characters...considering this book takes place during the apocalypse, it's not exactly surprising that not everyone makes it to the end. I have to say, I was really surprised by how many characters ended up being killed off...and in some cases by some of the ones who survived.

But, there was one instance where the death of a character was not only unexpected, but also not fully explained. And this particular death was my biggest pet peeve about this book. It happens "off-screen" and comes completely out of left field. There was a brief paragraph about what happened to this character, and then they are pretty much forgotten for the rest of the book. Considering this person was a main character, it really pissed me off that the death was brushed aside so easily by both the author, and the remaining characters.

   photo bullshit_zps1c8d6018.gif

I do like the fact that (as of now) this book is a standalone. And the story did feel completed, without any lingering lose ends. But, this book was much more entertaining when it was strictly a survivalist story and didn't focus so much on the romance (and this is coming from someone who loves romance novels).

Considering I wasn't a big fan of McGuire's Beautiful Disaster, I was overall impressed by the writing in this book, and by the fact that she definitely went outside the box here.

**Note: This review is based on an Advanced Readers Copy.**

Book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sleeves ~ Chanse Lowell

SleevesSleeves by Chanse Lowell
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If ever there was a book that could be described as bi-polar, it would be this fucking train wreck.

I honestly don't even know where to start with this. Sleeves was hands down, far and flipping away the weirdest, most insane hot mess of a book I have ever come across

It would be pointless for me to try and explain the plot to you. Mainly because I *still* don't understand it myself. I will say that even though it was confusing, ridiculous and about as un-sexy as you can get with a 'romance' kept me reading. Mainly so I could see how the hell it all turned out in the end.

The main character...Mr Cage Man as i referred to him in my head while probably the most messed up, deeply disturbed leading man I have read about in quite a while. Including Nathan from the Breach series (btw, the author of Breach, K.I. Lynn, is one of the editors of this book. Make of that what you will.). I realize that Lowell 'explains' the reason behind his...eccentricities, but it doesn't change the fact that he is still one helluva twisted whackadoo.

And then we have Casey. The female lead....who accepts all of Cage Man's insanity with a smile on her face. Never questions that he might have a few screws loose. Never bats an eye. That right there makes her even more creepy than Baby Hulk (another one of my nicknames for Cage Man).

Again, I usually avoid writing negative reviews. And I realize some people have read and enjoyed this book, and more power to them. This was just...not for me.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fangirl ~ Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5+++ sweet and beautifully romantic stars!

Wow. Rainbow Rowell has hit one out of the park with Fangirl. There were so many things that i loved about this book I don't even know where to start!

  "What the fuck is 'the fandom'?!"

For those of us who not only love to read...and in fact would much rather spend our time in made up worlds then inside our own reality...but have ever found ourselves consumed with a particular book series, movie, musician etc, Fangirl is like a gift. It so realistically and completely captures what it feels like to love something so much that you pretty much schedule the rest of your life around it. And it does it with so much nerdtastic love that I almost couldn't stand it. :)

Much like our heroine Cath, I too have dabbled in the "art" of writing fanfiction. It is a much maligned, but creatively freeing endeavor that I loved and was downright obsessed with for quite a long time. Reading this book brought me back to those days (which admittedly were not that long ago), and i found myself reading most of this book with a huge grin on my face.

I gave my poor Nook a workout reading this book. It feels like I highlighted every other paragraph. But when there are little treasures like the following quote, how could I help myself?

  "Cath? It's your dad. It's still late, but I couldn't wait to tell you this.You know how you guys want a bathroom upstairs? Your room is right over the bathroom. We could put in a trapdoor. And a ladder. It could be like  a secret shortcut to the bathroom. Isn't this a great idea? Call me. It's your dad."

*I LOVE Cath & Wren's dad. To pieces. In many ways he reminded me of a crazy combination of both my parents. And that just made me love the story even more.*

There were several times when I found myself wondering if Rowell was some kind of Mind Ninja. Like she had found a way to crawl around inside my brain and put so many aspects of my personality into the character of Cath. We share many of the same insecurities and obsessive tendencies. And I have no doubt if I had a Levi of my very own....I would have been "all mouth" as well.

Speaking of Levi.

Talk about the most perfectly imperfect guy. Levi wasn't a bad boy. He wasn't sex on two legs. He was simply the sweetest, kindest, most adorable boy I have come across in...well, forever.

Cath & Levi's relationship was so incredibly sweet to watch unfold. It wasn't insta-love. It started out as this really funny, awkward friendship that just blossomed into a sweet, romantic kind of love that makes me feel all girly and swoony just thinking about it.

  "I'd give you the moon right now," she said.
Levi's eyes flashed happily, and he hitched up an eyebrow.

"I want to touch you. Hold you. I want to sit right next to you, even when there are other options."

Rowell is just a beast of an author. She managed to find the perfect balance of romance, humor, and drama without the stifling amount of angst that seems to be in   EVERY

other NA/YA book around. I loved the fact that she incorporated the  Simon Snow stories, and that they became so important to the plot.

If I have any kind of criticism it would be that Rowell loves to leave us with an open ending (something that drove me crazy about Eleanor & Park.) I'm someone who likes to have closure, and as with E&P, the book just sort of...stopped. And while I appreciate that she likes for the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks about the characters and their future...i would have liked to have a little more of a completed ending. But...other than that? This book was just about perfect.

  "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Infraction ~ KI Lynn

Infraction (Breach, #2)Infraction by K.I. Lynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 WTF-happened-to-my-Nathan stars

*WARNING: disappointed fangirl rant ahead**

K.I. Lynn, what did you do?!? I am seriously at a loss right now after finishing this book this afternoon. As my glowing reviews for the first book in this series, Breach (and it's companion novella Dissolution) have shown, I am an unapologetic Nathan fangirl. Yes he might have come across as manic and overly possessive, but I was on board the Nasty Nathan train. FULLY on board! And going into this book i had the feeling that his...intensity...might be dialed back considering the events at the end of Breach. However....the Nathan that is present in Infraction bares little resemblance to the uber-alpha male that I fell for in the first book.

Some may argue that seeing a softer side of Nathan was a good thing. And while I agree that he needed to do some major groveling to win back Lila (and by the way, I have issues with her in this book as well, which I will get to in a minute), but...but...what happened?! There is a running joke in this book about Nathan getting a lobotomy, and frankly...that sounds about right.

Nathan went from being the take-no-prisoners, slightly crazed Alpha male with the filthy mouth, to being...sensitive? Romantic? He calls Lila "Honeybear" for fuck's sake! HONEYBEAR?!? Seriously??! (okay, maybe once or twice Honeybear was kinda cute...but, I'm on a roll here, people!)

Speaking of Lila. She needed a swift kick to the girly bits in this book. I understand her issues. I do. And yes, Nathan made some mistakes, but...

SPOILER WARNING: refuse to go back to him until he declared that he loved HER more than he ever loved HIS DEAD WIFE?!?!?  That is wrong on just about every fucking level there is.  Period.

Okay...okay....the book had it's moments. There were a couple of glimpses of the old Nathan and his dirty mouth, but by the time those scenes happened, I already felt like I was reading another series. The shift in how the characters acted in this book was HUGE. And I couldn't force myself to get past it.

*dramatic sigh*

There will be a book 3. So, I haven't lost hope of a rebound for the series. I just hope that Lynn finds a better way of mixing the hard and the soft together next time.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dissolution ~ KI Lynn

Dissolution (Breach, #1.5)Dissolution by K.I. Lynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5++ Oh-Nathan-Let-Me-Comfort-You stars - even though it was FAR too short, even for a novella

Not too much to say about this one that hasn't been mentioned in other reviews. It was really nice to get inside Nathan's head for a little while. Even though it can be a very dark, and crazy place.

My love for Nathan in the first book is no secret. Yes, he was caveman-esque at times. (Okay, most of the time), and yes the reasoning behind his trying to push Lila away felt slightly forced. But, I was able to ignore the faults in the storyline because I truly do love his character so much and want to see him happy and humping like bunnies with Lila. :P

Again, this novella was EXTREMELY short (24 pages), so we really didn't get the kind of glimpse into Nathan's mind that i would have liked to have had. But since the series is going past 2 books...there's hope that fans of the series may get another chance.

Side Note #1: I found out after reading this that the series was inspired by Twilight and/or started out as fanfic. I have no problem with fanfiction in general, but I have to admit...i really don't want the image of Rob Pattinson trying to take over the perfect vision I have of Nathan in my imagination. I kind of wish I hadn't found out, or at least not until I had finished the series. Just one of my little quirks.

Side Note #2: Truth - the conversations between Nathan and his "beast"? Kinda creepy. Maybe a little more than kinda. LOL

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Breach ~ KI lynn

Breach (Breach, #1)Breach by K.I. Lynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5+++ mind-bendingly intense stars.

**WARNING: graphic language and fangirl hysteria ahead**

  His body was sin. His cock was sin. And I was a sinner.

Holy hotness, batman!

With Breach, K.I. Lynn has created one of the most intensely erotic books I have ever come across. Ever. Not to mention the fact that she introduces us to one Nathan Thorne.   Unquestionably, my newly crowned KING of the dirty talkers!!!

"It's what i want. To stretch you open and have your pussy suck me back in."

"That is the best sight in the fucking world," he whispered, licking his lips as he stared down at my body. "You look so fucking good covered in me."

"Your fucking pussy belongs to me. And I'm going to make sure everyone knows it's taken."

I have always had a weakness for the tortured soul. And, Nathan is definitely fighting off some pretty intense demons. To be quite honest, there were times when he slipped away from just being damaged, into being possibly unstable...

"I slept with my dress shirt on last night because it smelled like you. And that pissed me off!"

And finally once even slipping into full on creeper-land. The whole "marking his territory" scene in the bar?!

Um...I wasn't sure if I should feel turned on, or scared. Okay...I was both. Mostly turned on. Don't judge me, people!!! Until you have felt the power of Nathan's dirty mouth, you don't understand!!! LOL

I wanted to be part of it. To be part of his soul. He was my god, and I worshipped him.

Much like with the Crossfire series, both the H/h Nathan and Lila have a LOT of issues to work through. And while I can admit Nathan's reasons for pushing Lila away are a bit paranoid and OTT, it does make a crazy kind of sense in a way. Or maybe that's just Nathan's dirty talk distracting me into buying into almost anything. ;)

This book ended on a cliffhanger. Of. Course. And it was a DOOZY. Be prepared to read the companion novella Dissolution (which gives us 2 chapters from Nathan's POV)and book 2 Infracture immediately after finishing this.

This book was crazy hot and a definite wild ride that I loved to pieces.

"Oh God!"
"Not God, baby. Nathan. That's the name you'll be screaming when you come."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Epilogue ~ CJ Roberts

Epilogue (The Dark Duet, #3)Epilogue by C.J. Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

6++++++ stars.

I just devoured this book in one sitting. I had been saving it for months because to be honest, I didn't want to contemplate the idea of Caleb and Livie's story coming to an end. But...what an ending it was.

  "You don't need my forgiveness. Anything that's mine to give is already yours."

Let me apologize right off the bat because, this isn't going to be so much a a fangirl gush-fest.

When I stumbled across The Dark Duet series last year, I dived into it head first, not really knowing what i was in for. I wasn't at all prepared for how dark and twisted that ride would be. And like most people, I found myself struggling with how to feel about Caleb. He does so many truly terrible things in the first two books. But, once CJ Roberts began to give us a glimpse into that tortured man's soul, i was hopeless to resist him. Much like Livie.

  "I have never felt comfortable sharing my feelings - especially my doubts, fears, hopes and desires. They are what make me vulnerable. And more than anything, I hate to be vulnerable."

While I was thrilled when I found out that Roberts was going to be writing a novella exclusively from Caleb's POV, I was also a little scared as well. I wasn't sure how I would end up feeling about him once I got a closer look inside his twisted mind. Let's just say, I could totally understand how conflicted Livie always felt about her feelings for Caleb. On the one hand, he's the monster who kidnapped and terrorized her. But on the other, he's the man who would stop at nothing to protect her. Even at the cost of his own life or freedom. But, Roberts wiped away my fears within the first few pages of this gorgeous, sexy, emotional book. Seeing things through Caleb's eyes...getting to truly understand how much he regretted how they came to know each much he wished he could have been a better man for her....well, it goes without saying that my love for him has now reached an all new level of adoration.

  I didn't want to hurt her. I loved her. I don't know how to do it like a normal person. I didn't know how to tell her how scared I was. I pressed my head to the back of her neck and tried.
"Tell me I don't deserve you. Tell me all the things I already know."

There were times while reading this book that I was just completely floored by Robert's talent. She has managed to create this complex, dark & twisty world that is both alien, and feels disturbingly familiar. And she has given us two of the most emotionally and intellectually complex characters I have ever come across.

  "I made you love me! Livie, I was confused. I was...broken. I'm still broken. I don't know who I am or what I want. All I know is that without you, there's nothing. I'm nothing. Do you have any idea how terrifying that is for someone like me?"

  "You're the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I just wish I that for you."

Reading has always been my passion and an escape from the stress of my daily life. And once in a great while I manage to stumble upon a book or a series of books that not only make an impact on my life, but truly touch my heart in a way that few ever have before. These 3 books have more than made an impact on my life. And I know that I will always hold a very special place in my heart for Livie and Caleb's very unconventional, but no less beautiful love story.

The Dark Duet series is a journey through some of the most painful and gut-wrenching of experiences. But, it is also a story about love and battling your demons and being okay with not being perfect. With not having a perfect life.

Caleb and Livie's relationship isn't about hearts and flowers. It's about devotion and commitment against every odd imaginable.

  Survival is the most important thing. It affords us the chance to live and to find all of the things that make life worthwhile. I found redemption. I found forgiveness. I found love.

I had finally found a way to obey and never look back.

  I could never write an ending better than the one Livvie gave you, but I’ll leave you with this:
Once upon a time I saved Livvie. She’s been saving me ever since.

**Read more of my reviews at my blog**

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Night Film ~ Marisha Pessl

Night FilmNight Film by Marisha Pessl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 What-The-Fuck-Just-Happened stars.

I don't think I have ever had more trouble figuring out how to rate a book in my life. My emotions are so conflicted right now, and my head's still spinning from the entire reading experience.

  "The problem with you, that you have no respect for murk. For the blackly unexplained. The un-nail-downable. You're mining for something quite powerful that does not want to be found. And it will not."

As not to ruin the story for anyone, i won't really get into the overall plot of the book. Just lay out some of my thoughts and emotions.

Night Film had quite possibly the most brilliantly creepy opening scene I have ever come across. It takes a LOT to get under my skin, but this scene did just that.

A man jogging alone in the middle of the night. A young girl, face obscured by long dark hair and wearing a bright red coat. The feeling of being hunted by something not exactly human.

By the end of the prologue i was feeling both entirely unsettled as well as super excited to dive head first into this monster of a book (it comes in at a little over 600 pages).

  The girl was like one of those picture books with pages that unfold and unfold, all the way out, which caused children's eye to grow wide. I suspected she'd never stop unfolding.

There was so much about the first half of this book that worked for me. I loved the fact that the author incorporated both photos and 'web pages' throughout the book. It definitely went a long way in making me feel as if i were reading a true crime novel, instead of fiction. I loved how the mystery of Cordova was laid out for the reader. I really felt like I was in the middle of the investigation right along with our main character, and I absolutely loved that. And the storytelling itself felt so fresh and unique to me, that for a long time...even though early on in the book...i truly thought this would end up being one of my favorite books of 2013.

  "Surely you've noticed that the space around Cordova distorts. The closer you get to him, the speed of light slackens, information gets scrambled, rational minds grow illogical, hysterical. It's warped space-time, like the mass of a giant sun bending the area surrounding it. You reach out to seize something so close to find it was never actually there."

Unfortunately, and surprisingly (at least for me) around the 65-70% mark, the story began to fall apart.

The lines blurring the good guys from the bad were constantly shifting. One minute the author made a particular character out to be a monster, and 20 pages later, the same character was made out to be the victim. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if it only happened a couple of times. But it was a recurring theme that really became annoying after a while. Also, I felt like the main character, for supposedly being a hard-nosed investigative journalist, was far too naive about certain things. And far too dismissive of events that were obviously going to be important later on in the story.

One thing that i really enjoyed was how certain minor, yet pivotal characters had opportunities to shine. There were several scenes where key players in the Cordova mystery were allowed to tell the reader a story. To lay out certain events that went a long way towards unfolding the underlying storyline. Pessl has a knack for using words to paint a picture for the reader. Making us feel like we are in the middle of the matter how disturbing the scene may be.

I have to admit, I was incredibly disappointed in how the author chose to resolve many of the mysteries in the story. Yes, the plot was outlandish and over the top....but I loved that about the book. I truly wish she would have stayed true to the promise of the story, instead of going for a seemingly much safer, less disturbing angle. After the roller coaster ride of the first half of the book, I feel like the last third was a total let down.

As for my thoughts on the actual ending of the book? Seriously? That's what we get after 600 pages of build up? This had to be the most ridiculous, and infuriating ending I have read in years.

***Minor Spoiler Alert***

This wasn't an ending at all. There wasn't even anything close to a resolution, and just when we get to the moment we have been waiting for for the entire book....bam. The author slams the door in our faces. I realize that the ending of the book was supposed to mirror the endings of many of Cordova's films. But, as a reader I still feel immensely cheated.

So, that is why I found rating this book to be so difficult. There were so many things that I loved about it. But there were also so many things that I thought were beyond frustrating. In the end though, I have to give it 4 stars, on the strength of the first 300+ pages alone. Add in the creep factor, the uniqueness of the concept...and Night Film was an entertaining if eventually disappointing walk on the wild side.

  "Did I not warn you McGrath, that to capture Cordova was to try and trap shadows in a jar? You wanted the truth? Here it is. It's boxes inside of boxes. What made you so certain you could ever figure him out? That his questions even had answers?"

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Return To Poughkeepsie ~ Debra Anastasia

I am so excited to be able to share this very special cover reveal. It's the sequel to one of my all time favorite books, and I have been dying to get my hands on it ever since Debra first told me she was writing it.
So...without further delay.....

Beckett Taylor is a murderer. 
Destruction and intimidation are his calling, his craft— whether he wants it that way now or not. 
He left Poughkeepsie to keep his brothers safe, to keep Eve safe. Set up with happy lives to live, they’re better off without him, right? But all his willpower crumbles when he hears his brother Blake’s frantic voice on the phone. 
Mob forces have moved in on his old territory, and Livia’s been taken. In an instant, Beckett knows it will take an attack only he and Eve can execute to bring her back safely. All his self-imposed embargoes are torn to shreds, along with the new man he’s struggled to become. “Brother, call Eve. I’ll be there soon.”
In this emotional and action-packed sequel to Poughkeepsie, Debra Anastasia conjures a tale of love at its most raw and ragged. With Beckett and Eve, how could we expect anything less? 
But even when it’s messy, not magical, true love perseveres. Real love finds a way—for better or worse until death does part.

Debra's writing style is beautiful and lyrical. Her characters feel more real to me than some of the people I know in my everyday life. I for one can NOT wait to go on this intense journey.

Trust me...this is going to be EPIC!

*Coming December 31, 2013*