Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Undertow by Callie Kingston


Marissa can't wait to leave behind her mom and the traumatic life they shared. With Drake, she has it all figures out- until she discovers his betrayal.  She flees to a desolate beach on the wild Oregon coast hoping to escape her pain where, overcome with exhaustion, she dozes off beside a log. When the first icy wave strikes her, it is too late: a rogue wave drags her out to sea.

Somehow, she survives. Perhaps that gorgeous merman she dreams of each night rescued her? Determined to discover the truth, her obsession deepens until she again risks her life in the unyielding sea. Will the creature Marissa seeks save her? Will she be lost forever in the eddies of her mind, or will Jim, her new boyfriend, keep her from falling into the abyss?

Genre: YA Contemporary/Drama
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

First and foremost, people will start reading this book expecting a paranormal twist, but don't be fooled, this is not paranormal in any way. Undertow is an emotional story about a girl trying to find a reason to fight to live. A gripping novel that will send the readers on an emotional roller coaster that dips so low before the rise. A brilliant, realistic story about the power of obsession and the courage to live through it.

Marissa is no doubt, a damaged seventeen year old, becoming more realistic with each struggle that weighs her down. You feel through her, which is never an easy feat for an author. Marissa has experienced countless disappointments and heartaches, some that most people will never have to face, some enevitable. Like the ocean, Marissa is deep, dark and untempered until she finds her anchor.

The ocean motif(analogies that Marissa uses to describe things or people around her) leads you to believe that there will be a paranormal aspect(mermaids, most likely), but once you dig a little deeper, you see the importance of the ocean and the power that it holds over Marissa. Undertow will make you think, it will make you take a deeper look into the story to assess the subtle clues that are strewed without. Realistic situations, realistic characters and powerful emotions are all wrapped up in the story.

Undertow is set in the scenic, coastal Oregon. Callie Kingston ferries you to each location with vivid imagery, adding a breathtaking element to her already omnipotent novel.

Exceptional writing that transports you into the story, to experience each new development as if it were your own. I cannot convey enough how emotional Undertow is. It starts out subtle then hits you full on like a rogue wave. A story that will burrow into your mind, escape impossible until you know the ending, no scratch that, way beyond the ending. This is a story that will stay with you. Recommended for ALL readers.

Undertow is available at Amazon

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cover Reveal: Taste by Kate Evangelista

Taste by Kate Evangelista

Publication Date: TBA
Published By: Crescent Moon Press
Cover Art: Liliana Sanches

The Blurb:
At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threatens to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn't realize until it's too late that the closer she gets to both Dimitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

My Thoughts:
What an amazing cover, right? I love covers that feature girls in full-length dresses looking somewhat desolate. Plus, the blurb drags you in making you wish the book was already out! Can't wait to get my hands on Taste! I know that I will be checking Kate's website every single day so I know when to expect this novel!

Make sure to head over to Goodreads to add Taste to your TBR pile!

To find out more about this intriguing debut novel by Kate Evangelista visit her website here and her Goodreads page here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Revenge(Blood and Honor#1) by Dana Delamar

I received a copy of Revenge, from the author through the group Making Connections on Goodreads, for an honest review

Revenge (Blood and Honor, #1)
A woman on the run. A damaged Mafia don. A rival bent on revenge. . . 

Kate Andretti is married to the Mob-but doesn't know it. When her husband uproots them to Italy, Kate leaves everything she knows behind. Alone in a foreign land, she finds herself locked in a battle for her life against a husband and a family who will "silence" her if she will not do as they wish. When her husband tries to kill her, she accepts the protection offered by a wealthy businessman with Mafia ties. He's not a mobster, he claims. Or is he?

Enrico Lucchesi never wanted to be a Mafia don, and now he's caught in the middle of a blood feud with the Andretti family. His decision to help Kate brings the feud between the families to a boil. Attacks from without and within push them both to the breaking point, and soon Enrico is forced to choose between protecting the only world he knows and saving the woman he loves.

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

If you are intrigued with Mafia aspects and the inner workings or gritty, dark stories than this is a book for you! Revenge is a fictional take on Mafia life in Italy that will have you questioning the line between reality and fiction, that is how well written this book is!

Well-developed characters help carry the story, they are perfected in their own way from sweet, endearing Antonio, rugged Ruggero, untrusting, jaded Kate, emotional Enrico and the purely evil Carlo. The relationships that are created and shattered all hold a significant part for the story and I'm guessing, for the future stories of Blood and Honor. Kate and Enrico were both agreeable characters that each have their own personal struggles that send them(and the reader) on a roller coaster. You ultimately are able to sympathize with each of them, making you eager for a happy ending.

The imagery is well laid out, to the point where the reader will feel immersed in the bellisimo Italia and the culture surrounding the Mafia. There is corruption, violence, blood and gore, death, hard decisions and the expected romance. In other words, this story has grit that will either have the readers cringing or increasing their reading speed. I was drawn into the story from the absolute beginning, unable to put the book down. The dialogue was simple perfection, where you could hear the Italian accents dripping from each character(save Kate). Dana Delamar expertly weaves in Italian words that flow flawlessly, giving the story an authentic Italian feel. Bestowed with many point-of-views throughout the story we are able to fully soak up the Mafia aspect as we get an inside look at both sides of the bigger 'family'. Yet, the story still carries a hint of mystery. Dana Delamar has obviously done a tone of research regarding the Italian Mafia, successfully turning it into a fictional story that will grab your attention, rendering you useless until you are satisfied at the end.

Blood and Honor will be a four book series, each taking a closer look at different characters involved in the Lucchesi Family. I found Revenge to be the perfect introductory story to the ones that will follow, allowing us to become attached to the future main characters and understanding their roles.

Revenge is available at AmazonSmashwords and Barnes & Noble

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Love Hurts: The Killing of Rose by Holly Hood

I received a free copy of this book from the author through the group Making Connections on Goodreads

In a world forever obsessed with idea of love, lurk creatures straight out of legend - mythical beings that really do go bump in the night.

In a small town located in rural Arizona, there are two brothers that are not quite human. They have a deep, dark secret.
Love hurt: The killing of Rose
For Sam and Frankie life is a constant battle. Love for these two is more than long walks on the beach and those butterflies in your stomach - it's a blood bath. Sons of an Incubus father, they are destined for a life of self-destruction and, staying one step ahead of the law is about all they have to be thankful for. That is, until one of them thinks they've finally found a love worth fighting for. Sam believes he has found his true soul mate. Only problem, if Sam can't control his urges, being with her might just kill her.

Then there's Frankie, Sam's brother, who lives a life of destruction. Women are nothing more than a pastime for him. Life is nothing more than drinking and finding his next victim. In order for Sam to save his soul mate, he must find the strength to overcome his adversity. . . or no one will come out alive.

How far do you go for the ones you love when love can destroy everything?

Genre: Paranormal Romance(18+)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Light and airy, this is not! Sick and twisted, deep and dark, intense and disturbing, but what a freaking ride! If you are a fan of Holly Hood than you have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to her writing. My fandom began with the Wingless series, continued with Ink and now Love Hurts.

Love Hurts is not your normal love story, by any means! This is a story of the ever popular Incubus that is NOT romanticized. The males in this story are severely messed up. Sam is running from his evil past while Frankie simply embraces his evil ways. Sam is desperately trying to fight his urges for the love of his life while Frankie stumbles across something that he is scared to admit. The two brothers are undeniably at odds with each other, their relationship strained, at best, but as the story begins to unfold, Holly Hood does a great job of relaying that the brothers' do actually care for the other(even if they don't believe they do).

Holly Hood has a way of writing that draws you deep into the story of each character. The characters are all meaningful with their own places, never just a part of the story. They are the story. Love Hurts was written in a different tone than Holly Hoods other books(that I've read), we were privy to the perspectives of all characters involved. This allows the reader to become more engrossed in the story and the many layers of the characters.

Beware the cliffhanger! As soon as you read the last two words, you will be aching for the next book! I know I might just die of anticipation! This book is not recommended for anyone under the age of eighteen, but if you are fortunate to be older, than I recommend you dive right in! Satisfy those dark urges!

Love Hurts: The Killing of Rose is available at Amazon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: Growing Up Wired by David Wallace Fleming

I was fortunate enough to receive this book from the author through the group, Making Connections on Goodreads.

How will romantic relationships withstand technology's offer of instant gratification?
Growing up Wired
While on his computer, Victor Hastings admires the provocative pictures of the girl he's dating.

Meanwhile, she's posting more and more on Facebook and all the social sites.

Now everyone in his cramped fraternity is competing for her.

What kind of love is this?

The wired kind.

Growing Up Wired - technology's dirty secrets - questioned and challenged.

Author Recommendation - Mature Young Adults(language, drinking & drug-use, sexual situations)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Growing Up Wired is almost like a college experience all rolled into one book. Drugs, drinking, sex, porn and a generation obsessed with technology. David Fleming sneaks in these sub-plots that are meaningful and just simply brilliant. It's almost scary how realistic this book is. Growing Up Wired shows how individuals(maybe a certain generation) can become disconnected with the living world by shutting themselves away or being dependent with technology(computers, cell phones, social websites etc).

I think that with Growing Up Wired, each reader will come away with a different meaning, maybe along the same lines, but still different. For me, this was a story about a college guy, Victor Hastings, who is stuck in a technological, virtual haze trying to escape by any means possible. Maybe sex for him is the first step in being able to feel, but he keeps getting reeled into the psychological games of shy or ill-reputed females. He perceives himself as unconfident, but even so he is always disallowing people to label him. By being the observer we are allowed to see that he perceives himself wrong(in my opinion). He is more than fairly intelligent and is confident just not in face-to-face female interactions. Victor(and some others) are inclined to many philosophical ramblings, but I found this to be insightful, sometimes confusing, but still making perfect sense(Am I making sense?). College is the time for self-discovery and this is what the book portrayed for me, whether or not that was the authors intentions. There is also the point of women(or college aged females) who allow themselves to be subjectified, either willingly or because of a deeper reason. Everybody craves attention from everyone, parents, peers, authority figures, etc, but how far are you willing to go to get that attention?

We get an array of different characters(as is prone in life) that are all scary realistic. You have the resident stoner, the overage frat boy that refuses to grow up, the guy that starts to lose it, the confident guy that gets what he sets his mind to(maybe the sanest character; I hope the author knows who I'm talking about), and all the inbetweens.

"With all the distractions and breakneck pace of everything today, there's no way to know what's real anymore"

I was completely and utterly entranced by Growing Up Wired. I devoured it as quickly as possible, unable to put it down. This should be a REQUIRED read for all college students and recent college grads. It makes you put a lot of things into perspective. Probably not the best book for college parents, but then again, it might bring them to a new level of understanding(or just scare the crap out of them).

Growing Up Wired is available at Amazon

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton

 I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of The Forever Girl from the author.

The Forever Girl: Sophia's Journey (Forever Girl, #1)Sophia Parsons' family has skeletons, but they aren't in their graves. . .

Solving the mystery of an ancestor's hanging might silence the clashing whispers in Sophia's mind, but the cult in her town and the supernaturals who secretly reside there are determined to silence her first.

As Sophia unknowingly crosses the line into an elemental world full of vampire-like creatures, shapeshifters, and supernatural grim reapers, she meets Charles, a man who becomes both lover and ally.

But can she trust him?

It's not until someone nearly kills Sophia that she realizes the only way to unveil the source of her family's curse: abandon her humanity. If she wants to survive, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Tantalizing. Extraordinary. Captivating. Rebecca Hamilton filled the pages with beautiful, vivid, descriptive prose that easily transforms into images. I love when authors think outside of the box to describe a scenery or character, when they turn simple words into lyrical sentences, evoking emotions. Rebecca Hamilton does this, pairing it with a strong, fresh plot line and characters that carry the story(instead of the other way around).

Sophia is the epitome of a perfect female protagonist. She is strong-willed, intelligent, open minded and is able to keep her wits and morals intact. She battles with her inner struggles in such a way that many readers will be able to relate to her, becoming dazzled by her as we live the story through her. Charles is also a fantastic character. Deep, determined and open minded like Sophia. We get to slowly scratch away his many layers as the story and relationship progress. Secrets are kept, trust is tested.

As the story progresses, the plot line will lead us in ways that were unforeseen. Even with the mild foreshadowing that the author sneaks in to keep our interest piqued. This is not a world just thrown together to produce a story. This is a story steeped in musty history and rich facts that brings every intricate detail into sharp focus. Every world flows together with purpose. The romance is so pure that it lends a sweeter taste to the eeriness of the story.

This is a new world of vampires, shapeshifters and witches that stands alone in it's own realm. This is a book that will grab your attention, refusing to let go. The eerie world that Rebecca Hamilton has created in The Forever Girl has and will keep capturing the attention of readers. And rightfully so! I was completely 100% absorbed in The Forever Girl from the first page. The story will linger, the characters will haunt until we are satisfied by reading the next book.

The Forever Girl is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Keep an eye out for Her Sweetest Downfall, a novella about a character in The Forever Girl, it should be out some time in June or July.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: The Emerald City(Osworld #1) by J.A. Beard

I received a free copy of this book from the author, J.A. Beard, from the group Making Connections on Goodreads.                                                                          

The Emerald City (Osland Trilogy, #1)In this loose re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz, Kansas teen Gail Dorjee has tried to escape from the pain of her parents' death by retreating into a hard shell of anger and sarcasm.

When her aunt and uncle ship her off to an elite Seattle boarding school, Osland Academy, she spends her first day making enemies, including the school's most powerful clique, the Winged, and their leader, the ruthless Diana.

Social war and the school's uptight teachers are only mild annoyances. Mysterious phone outages, bizarre behavioral blocks, and strange incidents suggest Osland is focused on something much more sinister than education.

Now Gail has to survive at Osland with a pretty pathetic assortment of potential allies: her airhead roommate, a cowardly victim of the Winged, and Diana's cold but handsome boyfriend, Nick.

Genre: YA Fantasy/YA Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
An enthralling, modern take on the Wizard of Oz told through the captivating voice of Gail Dorjee. You get the whimsical aspects of the old story that are expertly interlaced with new twists that will have the characters eagerly reading to the end.

I think we all know the characters and plot line of the Wizard of Oz, but just to do a minor recap(without giving anything away): We meet the reminiscent characters, the courageless, the brainless, the heartless along with many other important characters. The group comes across trials and tribulations also reminiscent of the forever loved tale of the Wizard of Oz, but it carries all on it's own with added paranormal twists and a little, barely-there romance that is a great set-up for the adventures to come. A journey of self-discovery along with the battles of good vs. evil. J.A. Beard will keep the readers guessing, never alluding to the ending even though this is a re-imagining of a famous story. He expertly keeps the story fresh and extremely interesting, told from the perspective of a fierce, anger-ridden teen that many readers will fall in love with. J.A. Beards brilliant, vivid imagery will help transport the reader as the story takes place.

I only had on minor issue, it seemed that the author started The Emerald City as a story in the third perspective, but then changed it to first person. There were some 'she's' or 'hers' instead of 'me's' or 'mine's'. This however, did not overtly detract from the story, it was only mildly bothersome.

I recommend The Emerald City to every and all readers regardless of age or gender. This is an epic adventure that you are not going to want to miss out on!

The Emerald City is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords. Get your copy today!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Movie Review: Contraband

To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.

Genre: Action/Crime/Drama
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi and Kate Beckinsale

Still of Mark Wahlberg in Contraband       Still of Giovanni Ribisi in Contraband      Still of Kate Beckinsale in Contraband 
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Violence, smuggling, drug lords, comaraderie, intense drama, scary, sad. . . this movie has it all. There are scenes that will have your eyes prickling with tears, scenes that will have your jaw hitting the floor and of course scenes where you are trying to hold back from yelling at the screen. Emotionally powerful. Exceptional job in all aspects of this movie: acting, writing, directing, producing. The actors WERE their characters and they were all perfect for their parts. There was never a moment where I wasn't fully immersed in this movie. And I walked away still thinking about it. Went to bed, still thinking about it. Woke up, still thinking about it. You get the point. Is this movie for everyone? No, not even close, but it is a damn good movie!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

High school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley College, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Turns out that balancing a full tray of drinks in high heels is neither as easy nor as lucrative as Shannon hoped.
Aces Up
When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and it's sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.

Cole's assurance that Shannon has natural talent- along with his amazing kissing ability- makes Shannon believe that a life of riches, ease, and constant making out is right around the corner. But could it really be this easy? And with Wellesley in her sights, does Shannon have the guts to call Cole's bluff?

Genre: YA Contemporary/YA Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Aces Up is a comical, fun, fast, sweet read with an excellent moral story. Lauren Barnholdt's writing style will attract many readers, she writes in such a way that you feel that you are taking this adventurous journey right along with the characters.

Shannon is a very likable female protagonist that many will be able to relate to, not so much in the situation she finds herself in, but in her personalty. She is extremely smart, almost quirky in her antics and she can be somewhat paranoid(comparing her situations to 48 Hours Mystery or something of that sort). Cole is hot and carries that sexy dangerous vibe, but there is something aloof about him. Max has many things going in his favor, he seems overall sweet, charming and genuinely nice, but he will come off as a little lost and confused. I loved the new, unexpected friendships that happened and the dynamics between Shannon and her sister, Robyn. They both added immensely to the story, driving the point of the story across even more.

The plot line moves quickly, without any dull moments. You get enchanted with the glamour along with Shannon, not paying attention to the wily ways of those around her.

Aces Up will have readers laughing-out-loud(possibly rolling on the ground), swooning from the sweetness and learning(hopefully) to trust in your friends and family, not get swept away by a sexy face and dollar signs and ultimately that doing the right thing is always, well, right and that working hard will pay off! A meaningful story that grabs the reader, pulling them in with witty banter, and great characters(this is, after all, a Lauren Barnholdt novel)! Do not miss out on this one!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: The Sin Collector by Jessica Fortunato

I was lucky yo receive a The Sin Collector from the author through the group, Making Connections on Goodreads.

The Sin Collector (Book 1)"The Sin Collector" follows the life of Liliana, a born Sin Collector. She has spent over 100 years absorbing people's sins so they may rest in peace come death. However when she meets another Collector, one who insists everything she's been taught is a lie, Liliana must make her way from sunny L.A. all the way to the streets of Madrid. Searching for answers to a question we all share. Why are we here? The friends and enemies she makes along the way only seem to blur the line between right and wrong. Can Liliana fight the Castus, an organization bent on killing off every Sin-Eater? Should she trust her head or her heart when the two most important men in her life are fighting alongside her? Then there is the worst question of all, who will be left when the dust settles.

Genre: Paranormal/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Sin Collector, the debut novel from author Jessica Fortunato, is a completely new concept that is fresh, new and oh, so intriguing.

As soon as you begin to read, you are hit with the loneliness that drips off of Liliana. It's a powerful emotion that everyone will easily empathize with. Although Liliana is lonely, she's still an adept female protagonist. She's strong, resilient, determined and loving. She also has a hilarious sarcastic flare that adds life to her character. Billy is sweet, caring and fierce at times, but his character is cloaked in suspicion along with Olexanders character. Olexander(in my eyes) was a powerful addition to the set of characters. He has his Old-World charm, protectiveness(of his small Sin-Collector family), he's compassionate, but with that said, you can never be certain where the suspicions should truly lay. Olexander and Billy(but really the author) expertly place suspicion into the readers mind. I was constantly asking the question, who can Lily trust?

The plot line will keep you entertained as you keep trying to figure out the end result. This is quite an adventure that Lily undergoes! There is action, a little bit of romance, suspense and mystery. The main focus in the plot was the paranormal and suspense with a light order of romance. The romance was sweet and innocent as Lily is faced with two men from her past. There are religious undertones, but it stays simple with the characters' beliefs/faith. The ending is satisfactory, tied up nicely with a hint of what to expect in the next installments. Although, there were some things that were left unexplained. I hope they will be in the next book. This was an enjoyable read with great characters and a fresh concept, recommended to all ages and genders!

Here's a quote that I found hilarious. . .

"Truth  was, I didn't really want to die today. I was in the middle of a really good book, and being alive had always worked out for me. . ."

The Sin Collector is available at Amazon

Monday, February 13, 2012


Let's take a moment to be inspired by Adele. She is the perfect role model for girls, ladies and women around the world. Not because she's successful, but because she took her anguish and heart-break(over a "rubbish relationship") and had the courage and dedication to turn it into a piece of art. She voiced her opinion, her agony and she became stronger for it. If only we could all take our negative incidents and turn them into a positive with an appropriate outlet. May it be writing, dancing, music, school, sports, anything that helps empower you as a person. Adele should inspire us all to work hard and make our dreams(big or small) come true. I have been inspired by many people(famous, but mostly normal people that have touched my life), the most inspiring(and encouraging) is my grandmother, but today I can honestly say that I was affected by Adele. She inspired me to not give up on my dreams(to become an editor and writer) and to not let petty, negative things(fear and that I'm behind before I've even started) get in my way.

Adele is my inspiration for today, who or what is yours?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Ink by Holly Hood

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Ink from the author through the group, Making Connections on Goodreads.

Hope didn't ask for so much change in her life. She was happy living in Georgia for the rest of her life. Focusing on the things she loved the most: singing, dancing and her best friend Karsen. This was effortless, she had no worries.

InkBut all that changed when her mother decided to leave dad for Pete, the Tae Kwon do instructor. And now Hope has to choose between staying where she belonged or moving far away to Cherry, California with her dad.

After making the choice to move far away, to protect her father, Hope realizes Cherry is nothing like the hometown she's used to. Everyone is rude, high class and she doesn't fit in. Not until Slade comes along. He has never fit in and he is okay with that. And Hope is fascinated by everything that Slade is. All the way down to his tattoos and bat wielding rescue the first time they meet.

She knows she should stay far away from him, but it proves tricky as she discovers dark secrets about the town and people in Cherry, California. Hope doesn't know who to trust as her life takes a turn from ordinary and depressing to dangerous and wild.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Holly Hood has an aptitude in creating original, thrilling worlds with well-developed, unique characters. She puts real life situations into her stories that make them, well, real! Ink is intense, emotional and raw(like many of Hood's books).

Ink is a parable about never judging a person by their appearance. Hope meets Slade who is covered in tattoos, has a lip piercing, constantly wears black and lives in a tour bus. Then she meets Tucker who is undeniably gorgeous, confident, a well-standing student and the Mayor's son. They are polar opposites and both take an interest in Hope as she slowly gets acclimated to her new surroundings, but who can she trust? Hope is a strong female protagonist. She's seventeen years old, but she's independent and smart(most of the time). As the story unfolds we are constantly shrouded in mystery regarding the characters, Henry Park(where Slade lives), and the town Cherry. Every character(small and big) have defining personalities that make them their own character instead of just there to fill in space, they add to the story in many different ways.

Ink is a long story, but in my opinion, it was the perfect length. It moves along at an even pace, never dragging with enough twists to keep readers interested. The paranormal aspect is unique and mystical, the reader will get an inkling of what that aspect is, but won't know for sure until we are told. The story will conjure up many emotions from heart-warming, gut-wrenching to sometimes even fear. There are sometimes even hilarious moments. The real life situations, sex, alcohol and some violence, make Ink raw, intense and meaty. Hope may only be seventeen, but all teenagers aren't virgin's and these situations arise all around us. Some readers(and reviewers) may try to uncategorize this as young-adult, but I think it can still qualify(obviously not for the younger YA readers), but for the slightly more mature(16 or 17+). Unfortunately, the ending was not good enough for me. I still had a few questions that I wanted answered and things were tied up a little too nicely for such an intense read. But, all in all, this was a fantastic, gripping read that many readers will enjoy! 

Ink is available at Amazon.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Resurrection(Guardians of Vesturon #2) by A.M. Hargrove

I was fortuitous enough to receive a free copy of Resurrection from the author, A.M. Hargrove.

Warning : If you haven't read Survival(which is book #1), then I highly recommend you to not go any further. You wouldn't want to spoil the fun for yourself!

Rayn Yarrister, first-born son and Leader of The Guardians, has been imprisoned on Vesturon for breaking their most sacred of covenants. He is suddenly jolted by Maddie's telepathic pleas for help, as her life hangs in the balance. Can he alert The Guardians in time to save his soulmate? Or will he face his trial alone and broken without his one true love? In Resurrection(Book 2), The Guardians of Vesturon are facing their biggest challenges as Earth is threatened by an invading species from a distant planet intent on destroying it for its resources. The Guardians, as protectors of the universe, have been assembled to defend not only Earth, but other vulnerable worlds as well. The Yarrister family is threatened by an unknown entity intent on discrediting them. Will they uncover this plot in time to save themselves from ruin? Will The Guardians succeed in stopping the Xanthians, or will Earth be invaded and ravaged by this marauding species?
Resurrection, a YA Paranormal Romance (Book 2 of The Guardians of Vesturon)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Resurrection picks up where Survival left off, with Maddie fighting for her life. Separated into different parts, we are given many perspective's(from Rayn, Maddie, the Yarrister's and even some new characters) that it helps the story become dimensional, rounding it out and ultimately letting the reader connect to each character. The questions that were left unanswered and the suspicions that everything wasn't quite as it appeared, get answered and brought out into the light as we learn new facts.

The characters are further developed as the perspectives interchange within the story. Rayn is the same protective, unconditionally loving man that readers first melted for. Maddie is the same accident prone, sometimes beyond innocent, indecisive girl, but she starts to transform as the story progresses. She makes the decision to change, ultimately finding herself and becoming a confident, independent woman. She undergoes many hardships, but Maddie's new way may be more agreeable to some readers. The change in Maddie is welcomed, turning the story from slightly great to fabulous, but unfortunately Rayn and Maddie's relationship hits some turbulence, leaving the reader in a gut-wrenched state.

The plot line has many twists, leaving the reader to grip the pages as they are left with events that are extremely unexpected. There is never a dull moment as we learn new qualities about all of the characters and watch the story unfold from our viewpoint. The time line of the story allows for everything to flow naturally, not rushed or forced. It adds major points to the overall feel of the book. The sub-plots merge nicely with the entire story, giving it meat. Resurrection is packing way more emotion than Survival, making the feelings it provokes palpable. The reader will be drawn even more into the story, not wanting to let go until the end, maybe even beyond that. A.M. Hargrove knows how to successfully draw in her readers and leave them satisfied, once again!  

Resurrection is available from SmashwordsAmazon and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thrift-Store Thursday!

I thought it would be fun to go scrounging around the local thrift shop for books, see if I could find any good ones. Usually, you can find droves of historical fiction, but I was determined to find something, anything YA. And I was in high luck! Someone must have cleaned out their YA library because I found twelve books total, for a little over eight dollars! Is that a steal or what?!

These are three of the ones that I'm super excited about! Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt, Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen and The Year I Turned Sixteen(4 books in 1) by Diane Scwemm

Here are three more that I'm excited about and they just happen to be the firsts in their series'! Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

It might be a crime that I haven't read any of the Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead, but at least now I have the second one to help get me motivated. 

Here's another one that looked interesting, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

The other books that I bought are The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell, Barbarian and Escape(Sons of Dark 1&2) by Lynne Ewing and Mina by Marie Kiraly. So, twelve books in total, all sound interesting! All I have to do now is find the time to read them all! I'm sure I can squeeze them in, so keep a look out for their reviews! Have you found any good books? I would love to know if anyone else is thrifting it up ;)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: Rapture by Phillip Simpson

I was one of the lucky readers to receive a free copy of Rapture from the author, Phillip Simpson, through the Goodreads group, Making Connections!

The Rapture has occurred, just as the Bible predicted. The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell.

Earth burns, hell-like in its oppressive heat. Every volcano in the world has erupted, and tsunamis and earthquakes continue to devastate the planet. Clouds continuously rain ash onto the scorched landscape, sparking fires all around. Plants and animals are dying. Food is scarce. The night sky is devoid of stars, and the moon - when it can be seen - is the colour of blood.

The remnants of humanity fight for survival. Most have fled the cities and now hide in caves deep in the mountains. By night, demons stalk the earth, capturing the remaining humans and killing them - if they're lucky. The less fortunate are converted to worship the Devil, and ushered into endless hell.

Eighteen year old, Sam (short for Samael) was raided in the town Jacob's Ladder, Utah. It is appropriately enough near to a place of natural scenic beauty called Devil's garden. He finds himself alone, unable to rise up with his family because he is half demon. His mother, a devout Christian, was seduced by Satan and conceived his child. She smuggled the boy to an old friend Hikari, a Japanese sword master and demon expert. Since then, Hikari and his daughter, Aimi, have been all the family Sam has known.

Now they're gone, and Sam must set out on the mission Hikari charged him with long ago: to help all the humans left behind. Armed only with his beloved Japanese swords and his wits, Sam wanders the post-apocalyptic world alone, separated forever from everyone he loves. Cursed by his demonic heritage, he must now embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels.

There he will confront his destiny. There he must fight to save a friend. . . and the souls of the living.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Rapture is written in a beautiful, hauntingly way full of descriptive style that leaves your mind tingling. Phillip Simpson expertly braids together an action-packed, coming-of-age story that both females and males of all age will enjoy. There are, of course, religious undertones, but in a classy make-up-your-own-mind kind of way that adds to the overall feel of the story. With this we witness characters question their faith, find their faith and the unwavering faith(even throughout all the struggles he faces, mentally and physically) of the half-demon boy. Irony well played.

The overall mentality that you get from Sam is fierce, but there are so many emotions layered into his character that he will instantly become endeared to many. Loneliness, sorrow and loyalty are the main factoring emotions that ebb out of Sam and although he is a highly trained warrior for a distinct reason, he can't help but want friends. He is so innocent, in a sense, that it breaks your heart when he finally gets to experience something, anything, that most people take for granted every day. Sam is a character that will stay with me beyond this story. He is substantially powerful(not just physically) and the author did a fabulous job creating his character. The story would have been sorely lacking without Sam, or even with a slightly changed Sam. 

The story line moves quickly, but meaningfully with many action scenes as Sam(male protagonist) battles the demons. The battles help add to the desolate, desperate feel that I would imagine the Tribulation having. The reader gets a reprieve from the plotting and scheming with the alternating chapters of "Post-Rapture" and "Pre-Rapture". Although the chapters alternated, they flowed together with precision, never breaking up the story or making the reader burdened with unnecessary facts or sub-plots. Everything fit together in a powerfully emotional way. It was an effective way to lay the facts out about the Rapture and Tribulation without overloading the circuits. It also enabled us to get a better look at Sam as he was coming of age and how the people around him and his purpose greatly effected him. There is some residue of romance, but it is tinged with anguish.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to Rapture. There are twists that you slightly anticipate, but then there are twists that the reader never saw coming, and I mean never. I'm beyond happy that this will be a trilogy because I am desperate to read more about Sam and his adventure through Tribulation!

Rapture is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meeting Destiny by Nancy Straight

I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of Meeting Destiny from the author, Nancy Straight, through Smashwords. And that wouldn't have been possible without the fantastic group Making Connections on Goodreads!

Lauren is visited in her dreams for years by a stranger claiming to be her destiny. Destiny becomes reality when paths cross during a failed robbery attempt. Lauren and the stranger experience chemistry like no other and now her doubt over her long time relationship with her high school sweetheart is not her only secret. . . someone else knows about her keen intuition and sixth sense. A mysterious clairvoyant seeks Lauren out and tells her not only of her life now but what the future may hold. Soon Lauren is in the middle of a murder investigation and a questionable friendship with the key suspect. Law enforcement, friends and family are concerned for Lauren but unfortunately they are unaware of the true danger. . . Sinister forces are at work and will stop at nothing to destroy Lauren's abilities.
Meeting Destiny (Destiny #1)
5 Stars!!

Meeting Destiny completely and utterly blew me away! The first two chapters do a great job in setting up Lauren's character. We learn that she is courageous, caring, big-hearted, true to herself, stubborn(the good kind) and smart. She is the type of girl who knows who she is and won't let anybody else dictate that for her. She is strong of mind, partly from her 'intuition', but also from the strength that it takes to do the right thing. If and when she makes a mistake, she fixes them instead of letting them fester. We come across so many female protagonists that let their mistakes carry that it was a complete breath of fresh air to read about a character that had the courage to fix them straight away.

After the first two chapters, we get introduced to Seth(more than the quick glimpse we got of him in the very beginning) and Max. They are both stand-up, young men that will instantly start pulling at your heart-strings. Max is undeniably gorgeous, but without the big-head. He will give any or all 'bad-boy' favorites a run for their money. He is the exact opposite of a 'bad-boy', genuinely a nice person and very capable of melting hearts. Seth is also a sweetheart that you can't help but sympathize with. He cares, whole-heartedly, for Lauren, but he also has a slight conniving, stubborn streak in him(but who wouldn't in his situation?). Nancy Straight's characters are all fleshed out becoming more and more real as you read about them. There is no choice, but to fall in love with each and every one.

The plot line will hold your attention, refusing to let go beyond the very last word that you read. There is obviously romance with elements of paranormal and there is also suspense. These were intricately weaved together to create a mesmerizing story that readers of all ages will instantly love. There are ups and downs in Meeting Destiny that will have readers gripping their Kindles in anticipation, hope and maybe sometimes even fear.

Nancy Straight, being the cunning author that she is, throws a curve ball at the end instead of the expected straight. Readers will be scrambling(maybe even clawing) as fast as possible to get their hands on Destiny's Revenge, the next book in the trilogy. Mercifully for us, all three are out, waiting for us to gobble them up!

Meeting Destiny is available at AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & Noble

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Five by Christie Rich

Five(An Elemental Enmity novel) by Christie Rich
Rayla Tate was just a child when her mother disappeared from her life forever. Raised by her aunt Grace in a small town, she has lived a relatively uneventful but extremely sheltered life. She doesn't know it yet, but she
 is special. She has been hidden from the fae who have lived secretly among us since the beginning of time. Descended from an ancient blood-line of Elementals, only she has the power to crown the first fae high-king.

Sick of provincial living and dictates of her aunt, Rayla flees the safety of her home and runs away to collage with her best friend. However, excitement over her newfound freedom is short-lived when she finds herself being chased by a mysterious stranger on her way to school. She is drawn to him immediately but resist the compulsion she feels. He disappears into the night, but she is certain he is following her.

Rayla struggles to deal with the encounter as she adjusts to her environment. To make matters worse, aunt Grace reveals that Rayla will soon be hunted by a pack of fae lords, each hoping to claim her power for his own. She soon finds herself surrounded by stunning men. Are they fae, or is this just normal collage life? More importantly, who can she trust when she can't trust herself to be near them?

5 Massive, Bright Stars!!

The moment I started reading Five, I knew I was in for a wild ride! I instantly became engulfed in this creative, incomparable world that author, Christie Rich, has created. And rightfully so! Christie has successfully laced together every single detail with authenticity and astounding ability to transform words into more than just mere words. The characters have real people characteristics(even the fae), making them well-rounded and able to stand on their own. Rayla has high morals, she is fierce, stubborn, smart and determined. She struggles just like we all do, she feels just like we all do. . . she is painted in such a vivid picture(as is the whole book, really) that readers will have no choice, but to root for her in her doozy of an adventure. The old friendships and new friendships are ever present as Rayla embarks on her collage occurrences. There is mystery lurking at every corner making the twists a pleasant and unforeseeable pleasure. I'm sorry this review isn't any longer, but if I say anymore, I will undoubtedly be giving too much away, I don't want to steal the pleasure of your discovery from you! Do yourself a HUGE favor by purchasing this book! I will be more than happy to read everything and anything that Christie Rich writes, she has a new fan with me! Luckily, Dark Matter(the next book) is already out!

Five is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review of Survival by A.M. Hargrove

Survival,  YA Paranormal Romance (Book 1 of The Guardians of Vesturon)                                                                                                                                                     Survival(Book 1 of The Guardians of Vesturon) by A.M. Hargrove

While on a backpacking trip in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, nineteen-year-old Maddie Pearce finds that her world has been thrown into a vortex and is madly spinning towards the impossible. Abducted by a mad psychopath, Maddie narrowly escapes with her life. But that is only the beginning. Her mysterious rescuer introduces her to a world that Maddie has difficulty accepting as reality. Will this strikingly gorgeous stranger be the key to her future or will she return to her mundane world, scarred from her experience? Follow Maddie as she is forced to make difficult decisions that carry her to mysterious places.

31/2 Stars!
Survival is adequately titled, for it is a story about a girl, Maddie, that has an almost uncanny strength(mentally and physically) to survive an onslaught of events. An intriguing and new view about beings from another world, the Guardians. It was refreshing, fun and even thrilling at times. Survival is written in four parts(or Books), the first is where we get introduced to Maddie Pearce as she begins a new adventure at collage. Maddie is honest, cunning, perceptively smart, fierce at times and very determined. Although she is written as a nineteen year old, she comes across younger and inexperienced in some aspects of life. Some readers may find this endearing where others might be slightly frustrated. We also get a look at the psychopath, Darryl, that forever alters Maddie's life. Where Maddie's part is full of emotion, Darryl's is lacking. Not only is it a character change, but the perspective changes from first-person to third-person allowing the reader to get a feel for this crazy, unstable person and what drives him. In Book 2, we get to delve into Rayn's psych, where we get some history about Vesturon and the Guardians. We also get to start with Rayn as he meets Maddie, a positive choice from the author, which gives us more insight into his character and his struggles than if his part started where Maddie's left off. Rayn is honorable, strong, extremely smart and such forth. He is one of the perfect 'heros' that us girls like to read about. Rayn's perspective gives Survival a well-rounded feel and I think the story would be lacking without his thoughts. Although, this is a romantic tale about survival(from many things), I think the readers will feel that this seemed to be more of a back story, setting up plot for the second installment, Resurrection. A good back story, but still a back story. There wasn't a solid sub-plot of evil to overcome until there was only a quarter of the book left. And there was no ending to that sub-plot because it was just beginning, to be continued in the next book. Some may argue that Darryl and his evil ways were a sub-plot, but he disappears until he is needed and ends up leaving the readers with a huge cliff-hanger. There were also things that were mentioned that were just that, mentioned. They were never looked into or explained or brought into the story, but they leave you asking questions like "is that an important detail to keep track of?". A.M. Hargrove does a successful job of drawing her readers in and keeping them interested. I'm almost positive my questions will be answered in the next book! I can only imagine the dilemmas that will be present in Resurrection. Lucky for us, Resurrection is currently out and available for us to snatch up!

Survival is available at Amazon, SmashwordsBarnes & Noble.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review of Angel Evolution by David Estes

Hi all! I was fortunate enough to attain a free copy of Angel Evolution from the author through Smashwords and the group Making Connections on Goodreads! So thank you, David and everyone at Making ConnectionsAngel Evolution is the first book in the Evolution Trilogy, below is the summary and my review!

Angel Evolution (The Evolution Trilogy, #1)

Angel Evolution(Evolution Trilogy #1) by David Estes
When Taylor meets Gabriel at collage, she is in awe of the subtle glow that surrounds him. No one else, not even her best friend, seems to notice. Something about him scares her. Is all as it appears? While Taylor struggles for answers, she finds herself in the middle of a century old war centered on one miraculous revelation: evolution.

If you think this is just another book about Angels vs Demons, then you are sorely mistaken. This is an original plot line that deviates from the normal good vs evil concepts. As soon as you begin reading, you are shrouded in mystery. And, although we get Taylor's and Gabriel's perspectives, David Estes writes in a way that slowly reveals the intentions, leaving us stuck in the mystery until almost half way through. Throughout Angel Evolution we get different perspectives, mostly from Taylor, Gabriel or Christopher. This helps round out the story, allowing us to become individually involved with each of the characters. Estes writing is wholly descriptive in such a way that he shows us the inner workings of each character which further attaches us with them. I must admit that Taylor and Gabriel were not my favorite characters, that was stolen by Christopher! The first half of the book is dedicated to the dynamics between Gabriel, Taylor and Christopher as they get to know each other. The second half starts to pick up as things are revealed and doubts acquired, still so many doubts. You are constantly asking, who can Taylor really trust? 

I recommend this book to ALL YA fantasy lovers, Angel vs Demon lovers and anyone who is looking for something different! You will not be disappointed! Also, Demon Evolution(book #2) and Archangel Evolution(book #3) are already out so you won't have to wait to see what happens!

Rating: 4 stars!

At the beginning of each part, Estes quoted song lyrics instead of poetry or wise words by a famous person. . . I loved that idea and to stick with the music idea, I'm posting the lyrics to Enter Sandman by Metallica(which Estes quotes for Part 1).  It eerily fits perfectly with Angel Evolution(in my opinion).

Angel Evolution by David Estes is available from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Smashwaords.  So don't hesitate to go purchase a copy!

Happy Reading!