Friday, June 28, 2013

review: BUMPED by Megan McCafferty

BUMPED by Megan McCafferty
Series: Bumped #1
HarperCollins: Balzer + Bray
Released: April 26, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Page Count: 323

Rating: Loved it!

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

My Thoughts

WOW.

I've never read Megan McCafferty's other series, so I have no preconceptions about her writing. All I know is that I loved this book! I'd been waiting for this book for the longest time but still had no idea just how much I'd love it.

I've read some negative reviews of Bumped and want to address the main points that these reviews seem to have in common.

1. Yes, some of the slang was difficult to get used to, but you'll know what it all means by the time you've finished the first section. If you can wade through that, you'll get it later on. The "futurespeak" is there for a reason, not just to annoy you.

2. The messages from both Melody's and Harmony's sides feel a little heavy-handed at times, but that was the point of the book - society is brow-beaten with these messages 24/7 and never given a chance to find a happy medium somewhere in the middle.

Other things I loved:

1. Reading about the twins' separate but parallel journeys of self-discovery. Each twin had something to learn, and they probably wouldn't have been able to learn it without the other. It's hard for each of them to admit, but they need each other.

2. That the story was told in alternating chapters. Normally that's not something I can read easily, but each chapter title was the name of a character, making it quite easy to follow.

3. Shock value. Normally I don't go for this, but in this dystopian world it was necessary to shock Melody into realizing that the way she's been raised to see the world isn't the way she actually feels about it.

It's going to be a long and agonizing wait for book two!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

review: INVINCIBLE by Sherrilyn Kenyon

INVINCIBLE by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Chronicles of Nick #2
Macmillan: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: March 22, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 420

Rating: DNF

Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse . . .

Nick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.

His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.

But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them . . .

My Thoughts

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm beginning to tire of Sherrilyn Kenyon's writing. Well, at least her Dark-Hunter universe. I feel like I know it inside and out and am ready for something new, already! (Yes, I read the Belador book. It was awesome. But her other new series have been delayed for a ridiculous amount of time, and it's really beginning to disappoint me.)

Kenyon was the writer who really got me into paranormal romance and completely revamped (pun intended) my reading habits. I picked up Dark Side of the Moon at CVS while waiting for a prescription and was instantly hooked. But that was four years and twelve books ago. It's been tough since the long-awaited Bad Moon Rising, but Invincible really put the final nail in the coffin once I realized that, while the story was interesting, I wasn't at all emotionally invested in the characters.

I will be reading her other series, such as her science fiction romance and the Belador urban fantasy books. For now, though, I really need to take a break from anything remotely Dark Hunter-related and move on to something new.

Monday, June 24, 2013

review: DARKNESS, BE MY FRIEND by John Marsden

DARKNESS, BE MY FRIEND by John Marsden
Series: Tomorrow #4
Scholastic (US)
Released: 1996
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 272

Rating: Loved it!

A RISK WORTH TAKING.

Five months into World War III, Ellie and her four remaining friends have barely escaped the Australian town of Wirrawee with their lives and their sanity intact. But as the nightmare continues, they realize they must once again sacrifice their hard-won comfort and safety.

A group of soldiers has recruited the kids to guide the way to the Wirrawee air base for a risky sabotage mission. What could possibly motivate Ellie and her friends to return to the heart of the conflict? It may be their only hope of rescuing the families they left behind.

My Thoughts

Darkness is an appropriate title for this book - it is the darkest point in the series emotionally for these kids. Considering all the horrible things they've witnessed and the safety they've given up to try to make a difference, they're just barely surviving at this point.

It's hard to talk more about this installment without giving away too many spoilers. It's also hard to appreciate a book when it puts the characters you love through hell. But Marsden does such a good job at keeping it honest, at ensuring that they don't succeed 100% of the time at their sabotage attempts, that it's really the only way to have written this book.

Friday, June 21, 2013

review: THE VAMPIRE VOSS by Colleen Gleason

THE VAMPIRE VOSS by Colleen Gleason
Series: Regency Draculia #1
Harlequin: MIRA
Released: March 22, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Page Count: 380

Rating: Really liked it!

Regency London – a dizzying whirl of balls and young ladies pursued by charming men.

But the Woodmore sisters are hunted by a more sinister breed: Lucifer's own.

Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member the Dracule – a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls – the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral ... until Angelica.

Angelica Woodmore possess the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger – for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him – to protect her.

Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica ... but this vampire never backs down from a fight.

My Thoughts

Colleen Gleason's writing shines once again! Gleason is one of the few authors who, at least in my humble opinion, successfully pulls off historical paranormal stories. (She also writes post-apocalyptic paranormals as Joss Ware - highly recommended!)

The Vampire Voss is the first in Gleason's new historical vampire series, Regency Draculia. It's set years before her Gardella Chronicles series, and the mythology seems to be a little different - although I will admit to not having finished the Gardella series (yet!). Her take on vampire mythology is fascinating - Lucifer, dreams, the Mark as a physical manifestation of their cracked souls, etc.

I'm also a big fan of redemption for vampires and other "baddies." Voss starts off as a real ass, but over the course of the book he learns to put others before himself.

Angelica was a great heroine, especially for a historical. She's not the typical helpless, useless female - she is both smart and able to protect herself. She is a lovely change of pace and the main reason that Gleason is one of the only historical authors I will read.

I can't wait to read book two!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

review: A KILLING FROST by John Marsden

A KILLING FROST by John Marsden
Series: Tomorrow #3
Scholastic (US)
Released: 1995
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 270

Rating: Loved it!

IT'S TIME TO STRIKE BACK.

The anything-to-survive existence of Ellie and her friends has sharpened their senses and emboldened their plans. They aren't merely on the defensive anymore - they're also fighting back. Their strategy? Attack the enemy not just on land, but also on water. If they have any hope of sabotaging the formidable containership at Cobbler's Bay, then they'll need stealth . . . and one very big explosion.

And if they fail, they may face a whole new kind of terror - imprisonment.

My Thoughts

This book affected my very strongly the first time I read it - as soon as I finished, I went back to a certain scene (you'll know which one if you've read it too), cried my eyes out, and was pretty much useless for the rest of the day. This time was different. I cried a little bit, but mostly I just lay in bed thinking about what had happened and how I would handle that type of situation. It was a long and sleepless night.

Marsden certainly knows how to throw his characters from the frying pan into the fire. The group finds success, catches a glimpse of hope, then is knocked down again when they least expect it. Their experience is full of dwindling hope, boundless fear, and senseless tragedy.

A Killing Frost was originally the end of the series, but thankfully Marsden felt the need to return to Ellie and co., so there are four more books tacked onto the end of the original series. If this had been the end of the story, with no more books to come, Marsden would have received some very unhappy fan mail from me!

As it stands, though, I need to take a short break from this series and go read something mindless and happy. Then it'll be back to the battlefield.

Monday, June 17, 2013

review: ONCE IN A FULL MOON by Ellen Schreiber

ONCE IN A FULL MOON by Ellen Schreiber
Series: Full Moon #1
HarperCollins: Katherine Tegan Books
Released: December 28, 2010
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 292

Rating: Liked it

Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever.

Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend's Run is famous for them. She's used to everything in the small town until Brandon Maddox moves to Legend's Run and Celeste finds herself immediately drawn to the handsome new student. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight.

Her best friends may never forgive her if she gives up her perfect boyfriend, Nash, for Brandon, who's from the wrong side of town. But she can't deny her attraction or the strong pull he has on her. Brandon may be Celeste's hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend's Run.

Psychic predictions, generations-old secrets, a town divided, and the possibility of falling in love with a hot and heroic werewolf are the perfect formula for what happens . . . once in a full moon.

My Thoughts

Once in a Full Moon was much better than I thought it would be. Though the storyline is still very similar to Schreiber's Vampire Kisses series - new boy comes to town, girl falls madly in lust with him for no particular reason, girl discovers boy's secret, etc., etc. - the werewolf aspect and a few key changes help the story to stand on its own two feet. While I am a little disappointed that this author doesn't seem to be able to write a book wherein the female protagonist doesn't completely lose herself in the male love interest, this series doesn't seem to take it to the same extent as Vampire Kisses.

Schreiber's books are all very light reads, so they're perfect for when you need a break from something darker.

Friday, June 14, 2013

review: INK EXCHANGE by Melissa Marr

INK EXCHANGE by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #2
HarperCollins: HarperTeen
Released: April 24, 2008
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 325

Rating: It was okay

Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes - not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures and helpless to withstand its perils.

My Thoughts

Oh, how I wanted to like this book! After reading about Aislinn and Seth working through their problems with Keenan to get together, I was so hoping that the same would be possible in Leslie's story. It's always so frustrating when you want something to happen and it doesn't! (Especially when you've deluded yourself into believing it can still happen . . . and have to admit it won't only a couple of chapters from the end.)

Alas, I should stop pouting. I still love Marr's writing, and I loved that she dealt the with difficult issues in the story instead of glossing over them as the female protagonist falls in love, as many authors do these days. The plot in this book also adds to the series as a whole, so, even though it was a bit upsetting, the story still adds to the overall series. The grade is purely a result of me being cranky about the ending of the book. And who knows, maybe after I've finished the series I will have changed my opinion of this book and will need to come back and update this review. (I can hope, at least!)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

review: THE DEAD OF NIGHT by John Marsden

THE DEAD OF NIGHT by John Marsden
Series: Tomorrow #2
Scholastic (US)
Released: 1994
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 272

Rating: Loved it!

WAR RAGES ON.

A few months after the first fighter jets landed in their own backyard, Ellie and her five terrified but defiant friends struggle to survive amid a baffling conflict. Their families are unreachable; the mountains are now their home.

When two of them fall behind enemy lines, Ellie knows what must happen next: a rescue mission. Homer, the strongest and most unpredictable among them, is the one to take charge. While others have their doubts about his abilities, Homer has no choice but to prove them wrong - or risk losing everything to the enemy.

My Thoughts

It's funny how you can know something's going to happen next but still dread it so much that you spend all your energy wishing and hoping for a different outcome. I had to force myself to read certain parts of The Dead of Night because I knew what was coming but didn't want to read it all over again. It's going to be much worse with A Killing Frost, for sure.

Dead isn't my favorite of the series - that honor goes to #1 and #7, and possibly #5. I love this one because it's such a realistic portrayal of what starts to happen when you realize that you're going to be stuck with these people for who knows how long - until you win the war or get caught, basically. But it's tough to read the characters getting so cross with one another. Events halfway through and at the very end also make it a difficult re-read because, as I mentioned above, you know what's going to happen and can't do a damn thing to change it. Marsden is not afraid to put his characters through Hell (pun intended), and it adds a certain amount of honesty to the storyline.

I still love the book though - I'd just rate it an A instead of an A+.

Favorite line: "The future is . . . I don't know, what's the future? It's a blank sheet of paper and we draw lines on it, but sometimes our hand is held and the lines we draw aren't the lines we wanted." - Lee, p. 81

Monday, June 10, 2013

review: STARGAZER by Claudia Gray

STARGAZER by Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #2
HarperCollins: HarperTeen
Released: March 24, 2009
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 329

Rating: It was okay

The vampire in me was closer to the surface . . .

Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautifl, dangerous students of all - vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny was to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas - a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross - or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning.

My Thoughts

I really want to like this series! But Bianca was so difficult to connect with in this book. You'd think that after the events of book one she'd be a little more willing to take a second look at everything her parents have told her, considering how much they've left out in the past. But no, she decides that they're perfect because they're her parents and they love her, so obviously they tell her everything, right? Wrong!

Sometimes, the trope of secretive parents can actually be pulled off successfully. This, unfortunately, was not one of those times. It was completely unbelievable that Bianca's parents - and, apparently, some of the adult vampires too - would keep this big of a secret from her -- AND that she wouldn't ask about it when it's being discussed right in front of her! This girl lacks some serious common sense.

The other big disappointment of this book was how Bianca uses Balthazar for her own gains. He is a great guy - never lies to her, never has to hide the truth about himself to protect her, and doesn't have to be protected from Bianca's sometimes uncontrollable vampire ways. Yet she treats him like garbage in this book, never thinking about how what she says will affect him until it's too late to take back. I lost a lot of respect for her after that.

At this point, this is one of those series that I want to keep reading just to see if I will hate the characters anymore than I already do. It's a little backwards, yes, but I have this perverse need sometimes to read all the way to the end of the series even if I'm not totally loving the books.

Friday, June 07, 2013

review: EVERNIGHT by Claudia Gray

EVERNIGHT by Claudia Gray
Series: Evernight #1
HarperCollins: Harper Teen
Published: February 10, 2009
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 327


Rating: Liked it


Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful - even when it comes to caring about him.

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

My Thoughts


I really enjoyed this book . . . right up until Bianca takes a bit 'ole bite out of Lucas. Wow. That was quite a blindside. After that, I felt that Bianca was an unreliable narrator, because there was so much she hadn't told us before, so who knows what she's leaving out now? That kind of thing always drives me nuts.


It was very frustrating to go from no mention of vampires in the first seven chapters (except for once in the prologue) to having vampires be the main topic of discussion for the next twelve. It was also quite difficult to believe that Bianca's parents were so overwhelmed by her uniqueness as a born vampire that they didn't know what or how to tell her about the facts of vampirism. That's like not telling your kid they can get pregnant by having sex, just because the kid has an iron deficiency. It's ridiculous.

However, now that it's obvious what the situation is, maybe I'll enjoy the next book more. I am cautiously optimistic.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

review: THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig

THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig
Canongate Books
Released: July 1, 2010
Source: Amazon UK
Page Count: 341


Rating: Loved it!


Inevitably, if you have abstained all your life, you don't truly know what you are missing. But the thirst is still there, deep down, underlying everything . . .
- The Abstainer's Handbook

Meet the Radleys

Peter, Helen, and their teenge children, Clara and Rowan, live in a typical suburba English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But, as their children have yet to find out, the radleys have a devastating secret.

In this moving, thrilling, and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain - and lose - when we deny our appetites.

My Thoughts


The Radleys is a sinfully delicious treat, a witty tale of bloodthirsty suburbanites that manages to defy most of the tropes of the vampire genre.


The Radleys seem like your typical suburban family, even if they are a little odd. But beneath this veneer of normalcy lies a deep, dark family secret, one the kids don't even know - they are a family of vampires. When the truth comes out in a horrifying way, they have to face the reality that they can't keep living such a half-life, and they have to dig out the skeletons in their closet along the way.

It is incredibly difficult to describe this book without any spoilers! Just know that it's hilarious, with a classic British sense of humor and a dash of soap opera drama to top it off. (Basically, that means it's awesome.)

Monday, June 03, 2013

review: STOLEN by Lucy Christopher

STOLEN: A LETTER TO MY CAPTOR
by Lucy Christopher
Scholastic: Chicken House
Released: May 1, 2010 (US)
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 304

Rating: Loved it!

You saw me before I saw you.

A girl: Gemma, at the airport, on her way to a family vacation.

You had that look in your eyes.

A guy: Ty, rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar, eyes blue as ice.

Like you wanted me.

She steps away. For just a second. He pays for her drink. And drugs it.

Wanted me for a long time.

He takes her, before she even knows what's happening.
To sand and heat.
To emptiness and isolation.
To nowhere.
And expects her to love him.

Written as a letter from a victim to her captor, this is Gemma's desperate story of survival. Ty has Stolen her body. Against every instinct screaming inside her, will he also steal Gemma's heart?

My Thoughts

This book really broke my heart.

Stolen starts out at an airport in Thailand, with Gemma arguing with her mother and going off to the coffee shop to cool off. She doesn't have the money to pay for her coffee, though, and a good-looking guy pays for it, stirs in some sugar, and brings it to the table. What Gemma doesn't realize is that her coffee is drugged - and her life is about to change forever.

Ty steals her away to the Australian outback, and she soon admits to herself that they really are in the middle of nowhere, that no one is coming to save her. So she tries to save herself instead, exploring escape routes and trying to manipulate Ty into freeing her.

Stolen explores the emotional roller coaster ride that Gemma experiences while working through her feelings, post-abduction. It is terrifying and honest and unflinching. But most of all, it's unforgettable. Highly recommended.