Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: Modern Manhood by David Wallace Fleming

I received a copy of this essay from the author in exchange for an honest review

Modern Manhood

Publication Date
August 5th, 2011


Available At

Modern Manhood - it's a subject that needs to be addressed in earnest by someone, I suppose, eventually. . .

What's it mean to be a man in times when most employment consists of clicking a mouse and making a PowerPoint? (Nobody really knows anymore). Trust me. I've looked. I've read. I've asked around the usual places.

There are people who can give a biblical interpretation; there are people who can give a biological interpretation; there are people who can give an interpretation upon historical inequality. But if you've ever asked yourself, "Am I there yet? Is this it?" or "Wasn't there suppose to be a boom - some luminous flash of light. . ." chances are you live in the United States, are between 18 and 40, and male.

Ah, the hopeless, pathetic, forgotten male - is he a relic, an anachronism, a vestigial bundle or excessive upper-body strength no longer needed in an era of unmanned attack drones, seven adjective lattes and dual income families? Was Beyonce right? Do girls run the world? To answer all these questions and more, we must do what men do best: Get our bearings. Not just in space - but in time.

Genre: Non-fiction Essay(12,000 words)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A deeper, but humorous, philosophy based look at the afflictions of manhood ranging from jobs, to parenthood, to love. To simply say thought-provoking would be an understatement. It will make you take a deeper look into the lives of the people around you, as well as your own.

"It's so noisy that I can't talk to the person standing eight inches from my mouth"

By David Fleming offering his take to us in an essay, it opens up a lot of room for the reader to agree or disagree with his opinion. It invites discussion, if you read this(which you should), I recommend that you have your friends read it as well, because this is a topic that you will want to discuss and debate.

"If a man overly develops his logical capabilities while suppressing his emotions, this can lead him to spend his life contemplating things which are actually of little importance to him"

The only reason that this didn't get 5 stars is because I wanted to see more. David Fleming's essay, Modern Manhood, is dominated by the 'Corporate Man', and although some may argue that men can be broken down to the same wants and needs (consciously or subconsciously) I feel that there are vast variables that could have been looked at, adding a broader spectrum of the male from different backgrounds and situated in different career paths would have been much appreciated.

"But the predictability of life has cut us off from the reality, the beauty, the risk and the fullness of life"

But, with that said, I love anything that allows me to get a deeper look into someones mind and that is what David Fleming allows us. He ties in some theories from Freud and Jung that fit perfectly with the flow of David Fleming's written words. Some may be daunted by the strong philosophy, but rest assured that David explains it in perfect 'plain' English, with humor scattered throughout, allowing non-philosophy minded people(such as me) to understand and enjoy. This is a must read, for all ages, all genders.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Shepherd's Moon by Stacy Mantle

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

Shepherd's Moon (The Shepherds, #1)

Publication Date
October 25th, 2011


Available At

It's taken twelve years to earn the official title of Shepherd but she's now mostly trained, fairly effective, and the first female in over two centuries to hold the position as protector of animals. All animals. . .

The Territorial Council isn't thrilled with her new title of Shepherd, but they don't have any more control over the appointment than they have over her. All they can really do is wait for her to screw something up - which Alex is determined not to do. Everything changes with a chance encounter with a genetically modified Shifter leaves Alex shaken and initiates a quest to locate its maker.

In a desperate bid to save her pack, Alex must infiltrate the Parallax Corporation - an international organization with their hands in everything from biomedical engineering to publishing. They have now expanded their efforts to include terrorism and are attempting to breed the perfect weapon.

Despite years of training and enough money from her live-in pack of misfits to finance a small country, Alex finds herself woefully unprepared to tackle the new threat. To make matters worse, Alex must work with a mysterious man who's been trying to kill her since the day they met. Together with her pack, Alex must learn how to stop the biological cloning and find those responsible for the plan before it really does become a global threat.

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I have to say that I enjoyed the characters along with the plot line, but I found quite a few problems that detracted from my reading experience.

As soon as I started reading Shepherd's Moon I instantly felt as if I missed out on the first book of the series. There was just so much backstory and history that was relayed to us as the reader and had a huge part of the story. I also think that by not being able to 'witness' the past events, it lessened the investment into the characters, I wasn't as effected as I should have been. Also, the repetitiveness was extraneous. It seemed that every time Modnik(the were-jaguar) was brought up that we got a recap of the event that took place pre-book.

There is a broad spectrum of Shifters in Shepherd's Moon, as well as other preternatural creatures. It was fun to see all the different ones as they came to play in the story. For instance, there are vampires, Nephilim, different weres like jaguars, coyotes, wolves, horses, hawks, cheetahs. In other words, Stacy Mantle brought a lot of new concepts to the table that I really appreciated.

Alex as the female protagonist was a strong voice, in my opinion. I liked her determination and fierce loyalty to her pack, but I couldn't figure out if she was 20 or 24, I think each age was mentioned once in the book. I also had to keep reminding myself of her age, she reads as an older woman, and it might have been the authors intention because Alex hasn't had an easy life. She's had to grow up quickly to take on certain responsibilities. She seemed to fumble around a lot with her responsibilities and lacked a certain amount of experience, and that's the one thing I found consistent with her age.

I found the plot line extremely intriguing, capable of pulling me in, but incapable of hiding the inconsistencies that were scattered throughout. For instance, Alex tells us that weres aren't born, they are made, but then she has a were-jaguar in her pack that has had multiple births, currently raising two as jaguar cubs because it's easier to raise them as cubs than humans. They were born, right? So maybe Alex meant that they could be born or created? Or are Shifters different than Weres? I don't know, I constantly had my brow furrowed as I tried to decipher some of the things in this book. But, as I said, the plot line is super interesting, it just needs to be polished up for the full affect of a potentially great story to take place. There were also a lot of misplacement's of quotation marks, or lack of. It was a distraction that took away from my reading pleasure, usually I tend to ignore error like that, but it was a little too obvious.

The romance, in my opinion, was non-existent. The guy that I thought would be the perfect match for Alex was too easily dismissed because she could read his mind and they were best friends since they grew up together. I felt that there was a lot of romantic potential that Stacy Mantle could have cashed in on between Billy and Alex. There was a repulsion/attraction thing going on with Tristan, but there was only one moment where he was attractive to ME as the reader. And don't get me wrong, I like romance in my stories, but it's not a necessity that I need to be able to enjoy a good story.

I should be giving this book 2 stars, but I did actually really, really like it. The characters were fun, the plot line drew me in, but it needs to be re-edited by the author so she can polish it up a bit more. If she does that, then I think she will gain more interest because the story and the series has A LOT of potential. I am extremely curious to see where this series will go, so Stacy Mantle can count me in line for the next installment.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Strangers by Barbara Elsborg


Publication Date
November 2009

Ellora's Cave

Available At

Kate Snow's has enough of bad boys until a one-way swim in the ocean puts her on a collision course with a man she can't resist. Charlie Storm has turned being a bad boy into an art form. Already a famous pop star, mega-success in the movie business beckons until his inner demons send him spiraling out of control and right out to sea. The last thing he expects to do before he dies is crash into a suicidal woman. When the worlds of these two strangers collides, their lives take an upward twist. In surviving the waves, they find they can't stand to be apart, in or out of bed. Kate seizes a chance for happiness, seeing in Charlie a man she can finally trust to love her. Charlie can't let go of Kate because she's the only woman able to see the man he wants to be. But the price of pain is high and when the world wants to drive them apart, life only seems safe in Kate's bed.

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Erotica Romance(18+)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Dark, emotional and gritty. Oh, and don't forget steamy and hot. Strangers is deeply intense, sure to pull in the reader.

Kate and Charlie are two extremely screwed-up individuals that harbor dark pasts. Now, I don't condone suicide(who does?), but Kate and Charlie's lack of wanting to continue life undoubtedly bonds them. They each have depth which is perfectly portrayed by Barbara Elsborg's writing. Kate is a greatly likable female protagonist. She may not believe herself to be strong, but she is and that's the beauty of her character. The reader gets to see all the positive attributes of her character as we watch her struggle with her inner demons. She's also very witty and the banter between Charlie and Kate adds to the story, further showing the undeniable connection that these two possess. Kate and Charlie have similarities but they also have vast differences, and not just that Charlie happens to be famous. Charlie is a piece of work, he's, of course, smoking hot, but he is haunted by past events in his life that affect the way he acts in the present. He has unbridled rage that he tapers down with sex, drugs and alcohol. Simply put, he's a womanizing cocaine addict that hates himself. They each have inner demons that are fighting to drown them, and individually they are helpless to fight back, together they become the others life preserver.

As the story opens up we are introduced to the two characters as they literally collide. We are then swiftly taken to first Kate's events leading up to the attempted suicide and then Charlie's. I found this to be a successful way to reveal both of their pasts in a simple yet artful way to rely the information. If you follow my reviews then you already know that I love stories that provide the males perspective. Strangers does this and, quite frankly, the story needed this. There is so much going on between Charlie and Kate, as well as separately, that we need to see both perspectives. To say that the reader will be taken on an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Strangers is filled with witty banter, steamy sex scenes, raw, emotional moments, tender moments and even moments that might have the reader flinching back from the abrasive reality. But what a read!

If you are a reader who enjoys steamy romances between two unlikely, desperate, people that perfectly fit together than Strangers is for you. Just a warning, though, Strangers is an erotica story so if you aren't into adventurous sexual scenes then I would not recommend this book to you. Also, needless to say, you should be 18+ to read this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Witchy, Witchy(Spellbound #1) by Penelope King

I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book from the author through the group Making Connections on Goodreads

Witchy, Witchy

Publication Date
September 2011


Available At

When Calista McCoy moves from the slums of the Louisiana Bayou to an illustrious beach community in California, she knows her life is going to take a drastic turn. But once she arrives at the beautiful mansion by the sea, dark secrets are revealed. . . secrets that become even more complicated when she meets the gorgeous neighbor boy, Nicholas, and she feels an unexplainable--and undeniable--attraction. He's everything she's ever dreamed of. Literally.

Her new life seems almost too good to be true. But as everyone knows, when somethings seems too good to be true, it usually is.

. . . And in Calista's case, is could be deadly.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Fantasy Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I first learned of Penelope King when I stumbled across A Demon Made Me Do It, a dark YA paranormal tale that quickly captivated me. I think I can safely say that I was expecting something darker, but what Witchy, Witchy lacks in darkness is quickly made up by the magical journey that will just as easily entice readers.

The first three quarters of Witchy, Witchy are dedicated to character development, in my opinion. There is some slight mystery as the reader tries to figure out the placement of Nicholas and Justin, but within that first three quarters I felt that I successfully became intuned to the characters, able to know how each of the girls(Callista, Sophie and Lily) would react to any given situation. That, I felt, was a success on Penelope King's part. I often become invested in characters, but to add knowing to investment was a simple way to capture my attention throughout the story.

I have to say that I wasn't in love with Callista. She was a strong character, don't get me wrong, but she wasn't able to sweep me off my feet. She did have a realness to her though, for a sixteen year old. She was really naive at times, but would have moments of supreme clarity that added to her character. I did enjoy watching the growth she achieved, she started to become a stronger female protagonist at the end of Witchy, Witchy so I have high hopes that she will continue the growth into a character that WILL sweep me off my feet.

As the plot goes, there wasn't much mystery to get twisted in. The only question that kept reoccurring in my head was: someone has to be a Hunter, someone has to be bad. . . so who is it? I have to admit that for someone who likes to be tangled in mystery, I was content with how Witchy, Witchy progressed. Like I said earlier, I really appreciated the fact that I KNEW the characters. As you can guess, I will be reading the next book in the series, Kiss The Crystal Sun.

I recommend Witchy, Witchy to all lovers of romantic, whimsical fantasy. I think Witchy, Witchy will vastly captivate female readers of any age.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Defiance(Significance #3) by Shelly Crane

Defiance (Significance, #3)

Publication Date
March 8th


Available At

In the third installment of the Significance series, we begin with Maggie and Caleb in the clutches of a new enemy; the Virtuoso council. Not only do they have to deal with consequences of taking the lives of the Watsons and the council attempting to take Maggie away to keep their precious Visionary safe, but they must deal Marla as well. All are determined to undermine, control and use Caleb and Maggie's rare gifts for their own uses, some wish to destroy them entirely. Then Maggie's father and Bish are threatened but the council forbids the presence of humans. Peter and the family fight and stand beside them every step of the way to save Maggie's father, to keep Caleb and Maggie together when the corrupted council is so set on keeping them apart and to stop Marla and whatever she has up her sleeve. Then Maggie has the shock of her life when she discovers something about her real father. It may change everything for everyone. Stay tunes as the story continues.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Fantasy Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!

I have loved the Significance series from the get-go, easily devouring each book as it has been released. Defiance was not an exception, and in my opinion, it was the best one!

The evolution of each character as an individual and as a whole(meaning the family) sets Defiance above the others in this series. We get to see them act as a unit, being loyal and fighting for what they know is right. They have their faults, but they are within the realm of being the perfect family. Something, I think, that every family strives towards. As readers, we often read about relationships that are hot and cold, the two characters pulling and pushing. I love the fact that Maggie and Caleb have been such a strong couple since the very beginning. In Defiance, their relationship is the rock that grounds their family and many of the other Aces present at the meeting. They trust in each other, they are truthful to one another and their love shines through every action that they take. Theirs is a relationship that puts a smile on your face, warms your belly and flutters your heart.
In Defiance, things happen that I have been expecting from the very beginning and then there were things that completely shocked me. This is by far the most emotional installment of the Significance series, so have your tissues ready. Defiance is fast-paced, never a dull moment as things are revealed. I was never left with the feeling of lacking. The Visionary aspect of the story gets some more light and I found it completely entrancing.
This is a series that shouldn't be overlooked. Shelly Crane has the ability to draw in her readers as she takes them on an incredible, captivating journey. Recommended to readers that love a sweet, titillating romance that will sweep you away, keep you entertained and provide new, refreshing paranormal aspects. Defiance, along with the first two books, are appropriate for younger readers, but also something that readers of any age will enjoy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Howl by Annalise Grey

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book from the author


Publication Date
Nov 9th 2011


Olena Vizerskaya

Available At

Nineteen year old Sophie Mathews is a line-walker between two worlds - human and werewolf. She lives around humans but is never truly part of their world. That is, until she is spotted by a hiker.

What should have been a passing glance becomes so much more as Sophie falls for the one thing she is forbidden from ever having: a human mate.

Adding to her stress is newcomer Daniel, the arrogant wolf on Sophie's tail.

Then several humans are killed by a mysterious and dangerous beast within the pack's hunting grounds. The humans begin whispering of wolf-men roaming the forest and the threat of discovery looms heavy around the pack.

Everything is falling apart and Sophie realizes just how little control she has over her future.

Will she risk everything - her heart, her family, and her safety - for a chance to control her own fate?

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3 out 5 stars

Werewolves, mystery and love are combined in Howl to make a fascinating and original tale.

I think lovers of werewolf books are use to seeing a normal girl fall for a werewolf boy. In Howl, you will discover that the story is just as good with the roles reversed, it creates a refreshing take on a favorite genre of many. Annalise Grey also has an eye for the intricate details that added immensely to the overall story. The over-bearing, protective nature of the Alpha, the submissive ticks of the pack, the multiple births of the werewolf females, how the wolves act in wolf form. Those are just few. They added an authenticity to the story that is sometimes overlooked by authors.

Sophie was the perfect voice for Howl, in my opinion. The struggles she had to deal with made her an accessible character that was easy to like and relate to. The gradual growth was realistic, adding an even flow to the story. In fact, each character was strong in their own ways,  they each had their own personalities that never once blended into the background. Annalise was successful in evoking emotions from each character as the story unfolded. The sense of family shone through with a brilliance that pertained to the 'pack' loyalty that was needed. My absolute favorite character was Tristain, Sophie's twin brother, I loved the emotions he brought forth, the loyalty and love that radiated off of his character.

The plot line was original, throwing me through a loop that was highly unexpected. The mystery was succinctly solved, but giving way to the bigger mystery that successfully set up future books in this series. The sub-plots add to the intrigue as the reader will sense that not all is revealed when it comes to the Mathew's family. There was, however, something that was preventing me from being fully swept away. There were parts that fell flat, for me, things that were unnecessarily over detailed, like a trip to the grocery store. And although the romance between Sophie and Jaime is extremely sweet, I was still left wanting. It never evoked a heart-fluttering response from me. The romance wasn't delved into deep enough, it almost felt that the majority of it was skimmed over, lending a sub-plot feel to the romance. Maybe that was Annalise Grey's intention, I have no idea, because I can also say that there is more between Daniel and Sophie than just simple attraction, something deeper that will remain a mystery until it is revealed. I did really enjoy the story and look forward to seeing how the future books in this series will pan out.

There is no doubt that Annalise Grey knows how to weave an original, interesting tale that will reel readers in. If you are looking for a new, refreshing werewolf story, then I highly recommend Howl to you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Tomorrow Land by Mari Mancusi

I was fortunate enough to receive this book from the publisher through NetGalley

Tomorrow Land

Publication Date
March 8th

NLA Digital Liaison Platform LLC

Available At

Can true love survive the end of the world?

Imagine finding your first love, only to be ripped apart by the apocalypse. Peyton Anderson will never forget the day she was forced to make a choice--between her family--and Chris Parker, the bot she'd given her heart. Now, four years later, as she steps from the fallout shelter and into a dead and broken world, he's the only thing on her mind.

All Chris "Chase" Parker wanted was to take Peyton away and keep her safe from harm. But he waited for hours in the rain on judgement day and she never showed--breaking his heart without ever telling him why.

Now the two of them have been thrown together once again, reluctant chaperones to a group of orphaned children in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead still walk. . . and feed. As they begin their pilgrimage to the last human outpost on Earth, can they find a way to let go of old hurts and find the love they lost--all while attempting to save what's left of the human race?

Genre: YA Post-Apocalypse
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tomorrow Land not only has zombies, but it is set in the future. I found this an interesting mix along with the hauntingly beautiful cover.

When I first started reading I instantly became cautious about Peyton's character. She appeared whiny and shallow, instantly stereotyping Chris as a tech-head and deeming him unworthy. As the story progresses Peyton's character shows growth which was much appreciated, making her a better female protagonist. Within the story we get a mixed point-of-view that alternated between Chase(aka Chris) and Peyton. This helped us gain insight into each character as they each experience either different or the same things. 

Tomorrow Land is told in alternating chapters, one is four years ago(leading up to the plague) and the other is when Peyton is finally released from the bunker. The alternating chapters are artfully crafted to lend an insight to each character and the background surrounding the plague. It also shows us how Peyton and Chris changed as the hardships of life in a post-apocalyptic world became more and more present.

Although I found Tomorrow Land enjoyable, I also found it lacking. I just couldn't convince myself to be truly invested in the characters or their story. The characters were a little under-developed for my taste and the overall story was too neat, predictable and convenient. It was all too easy, way too easy when they had to travel four-hundred miles(without cars, with eight children) in a desolate land filled with people-eating-zombies. When there was trouble it was easily overcome and since this is a zombie book I was expecting more fighting especially when Peyton was so radically equipped to fight. There was potential, but the story just felt skimmed over.

If you are a fan of zombies or post-apocalypse stories then you should check this out. It's suitable for readers of all ages and both genders.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Hoodie by Brendon Lancaster

Note: I received a copy of Hoodie from the author through the group Making Connections on Goodreads

HoodieFrom the moment Ben Chapman ('Hoodie' to the other Shady Boys) crashes out of school, determined never to return, and, incidentally, seeking his revenge on the school's drug dealer by stealing and concealing his stash in his trousers on the way out, you know that this is a boy to whom caution and reticence are alien concepts. Outwardly, he maintains that all he wants is a job, his own money and to follow his heart towards the girl of his dreams, Isabelle. But, underneath that concealing hoodie, Ben has a rich inner life, fed by dope, wine and the belief that he is someone special. During his 'summer of love', we follow his attempts to engage with the real world with frustration and compassion. His adventures cause him to question today's competitive, consumer-based values, eventually challenging his perception of reality and prompting him to reflect upon who and what his purpose in life is before finding himself faced with the definitive test of resolve and bravery. Hoodie's blend of up-to-date realism, dream-like escapism, fast-paced, hard-hitting action, wistful musings, humour and tragedy, all while the story navigates its way on a magical mystery tour of Ben's mind, ensures an enjoyable read. It provides the perfect antidote to alarmist Daily Mail reporting of youth issues, exploring the problems facing modern day Britain from the perspective of a disempowered, disaffected teenager. On a deeper level, there is a moral/spiritual sub-text, fed by Ben's belief that he has a secret weapon; the simian lines(fused head ans heart lines) on the palms of his hands. These are extremely rare and noted as being a genetic abnormality shared by drug addicts, mass murderers, scientific researchers and religious fanatics(and, by sheer coincidence, Tony Blair). Could these lines hold the key to his future?

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I honestly don't even know where to begin. There are so many aspects of Hoodie that I could talk about, but I really, really don't want to give a single detail away because it will ultimately subtract from the readers experience.

"Long, wispy brushstrokes of clouds hung motionless in a sky tinged with pink, sweeping gentle waves over the skyline created by the Hallfield Estate" 

So, what can I say? Well, for one, Hoodie is a book that I found highly enjoyable. There are so many different things occurring that it's hard to point out just one tiny detail to focus on. We get to delve into Ben's inner psyche which is often philosophical, borderline looney, but completely insightful.  Ben aka Hoodie is a lost sixteen year old boy who quite honestly has no idea what he wants from life or what to expect. He believes that he is ready to grow up and become his own man, but in reality, he is so not ready. His maturity fluctuates, he is intouch with his emotions, and he's lonely(even when he surrounds himself with the Shady Boys). I loved Ben as a character, he is the type of character that will constantly surprise and is surprisingly deep. I felt that Ben was adequately portrayed as a sixteen year old, his language, mannerisms and his deemed "superiority". 

I found Hoodie to be profoundly realistic with issues that everyone, one time or another, experiences in their lives. Some issues are hard to ignore and others are more subtle, requiring a deeper look. Brendon Lancaster doesn't down-play any of them, as most are in your face demanding attention. As Ben's mind whirls around, the readers will as well.

"Hash - the drug which can turn unconsciousness into consciousness. Whereas this lot were more interested in taking advantage of being served endless rounds of alcohol - the government-regulated drug of choice which turns the conscious into unconscious - through never-ending happy hours"

Brendon Lancaster's writing had an easy flow that captivated my mind and attention. I felt completely immersed in London culture as the scenery was described with crystal clear precision and riddled with slang that may throw some American readers through a loop, but it adds to the authenticity, to the overall feel of the book. The sub-plots all entwine evenly with the main, adding more juicy meat to be dissected. The perspective is third-person, but for a brief stint it slips into first-person. I found this to transfer without a hitch, not disrupting the flow, but adding an insight that both perspective's had to offer. I found that Brendon Lancaster's writing allowed me to become impartial yet still invested.

Hoodie will not appeal to everyone, but that shouldn't stop you from reading it. If my kids were in their teens I would pass Hoodie along to them, but since they aren't I will simply recommend it to readers of all ages and both genders. Hoodie might appeal more to males because of Ben's character, but females will find some aspect to relate to because the issues are not gender specific. I don't think that my simple words could ever do justice to this book, so I urge you to pick it up and read it yourself.  

"A few shared swigs from a bottle after school every day acted as commas; four cupfuls or more on a Friday acted as a full stop, signifying the end of the week; a cupful or two to ponder a dilemma with one of the others acted as a good question mark; and getting shit-faced on at least a monthly basis was always remembered as an exclamation mark"

Hoodie is currently available at AmazonSmashwords and Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: Destiny's Wrath(Destiny #3) by Nancy Straight

Warning: I do not recommend reading this review if you haven't read the first two books, Meeting Destiny and Destiny's Revenge. However, you shouldn't miss out on the epic paranormal adventure!

Destiny's Wrath (Destiny #3)

In the final installment in the Destiny series, Lauren and Max still yearn for their normal life together. Although finally united, they're unable to enjoy their bliss when they learn nine people have been viciously murdered. The murderer is a young man who saved Max's life months earlier. Lauren and Max must decide how to help the young man and destroy the evil that resides within him. The only thing the Council and the Cabinet can agree on is: Lauren and Max need to stay away. Lauren and Max worry that this time the evil may consume them both. Nobody involved saw the power of Destiny's Wrath until it was upon them.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!

Destiny's Wrath is the 'ahhh' of a quenched thirst, the icing on the cake, the cherry on top. . . the perfect ending! I instantly started reading the third and final installment in the Destiny trilogy as soon as I finished Destiny's Revenge. I was in dire need to know what would become of Max and Lauren.

There is no doubt that Nancy Straight has the ability to draw in her readers, she had us all hooked from the very start of the first book, Meeting Destiny. And rightly so. Her characters are deep, the plot well-thought out and captivating, all throughout the entire adventure.

Books are usually plagued with the push and pull of the two main characters, you know, the getting together, pushing each other away and such forth. And while they are still interesting, they are becoming a bit predictable. Destiny's Wrath is unique in that sense, never becoming predictable. Max and Lauren did a lot of learning in Destiny's Revenge, I was extremely happy to see their relationship progress in the way that it did. Lauren's commend ability and resolute attitude never wavered, we didn't have to witness any back-tracking as she moved forward in her life. She stayed strong and true to the character that she evolved into in Destiny's Revenge. Max was much the same, as he too stayed true to the character that he evolved into.

In Meeting Destiny we were introduced to the sweetest, make-your-heart-flutter relationship of Lauren and Max. In Destiny's Revenge their jaunt to happiness was put to massive tests as they individually, and as a couple, battled their inner turmoils as well as other aspects. Finally, in Destiny's Wrath we get to see that sweet, make-you-jealous relationship again that makes your toes curl. Max and Lauren evolved into one, making wise decisions and sticking together no matter what. The evolution of their relationship throughout all three books was a complete pleasure to read about!

As Destiny's Revenge set a new tone, so did Destiny's Wrath. There was a darker tone that seeped through, partly because we were privy to Samual's inner workings, and they weren't pleasant. There is also the anticipations of the ending that brings out the darkness. Destiny's Wrath moves at a faster pace, adding a slight desperation to the eminent ending.

Recommended to all lovers of the Paranormal genre. You don't want to miss out on this delightful trilogy!

Destiny's Wrath is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review: Celia On The Run by Sarah Mandell

I received this book for an honest review

Nick Novaczek is a cautious soul, a 17-year-old with a boring life, a predictable future, and a quiet thirst for danger. On the eve of his beloved grandmother's funeral, danger finds him by the motel swimming pool. Her name is Celia and she's everything he's not. This foul-mouthed beauty is hitchhiking across the country to make amends with her estranged father and doesn't carry an ounce of fear or hesitation in her tattered suitcase. She's bad news all around, but for a rule-follower like Nick, she's intoxicating.
Celia on the Run
Twenty-four hours after speaking to Celia for the very first time, following one extremely lucky night, Nick is hopelessly hooked and "borrows" his parents' car to join her cross-country mission, even though her story is full of holes. It's the mistake he's been waiting his whole life to make. Together, they dodge a train, jump off a bridge, and scam everyone in their path. Nick is blossoming into a teenage fugitive, just like Celia, and he's never been happier. She may not be who she says she is, but she's got his vulnerable heart.

After weeks of detours, with hundreds of miles left to go, their wild adventure starts to unravel. The money dries up, Celia's dark secrets start to surface, and it's clear they both want vastly different things out of this partnership. Celia is all about no strings attached and severing whatever they may have between them once they reach their destination, while Nick is head over heels in love and wanting a future with the girl in his passenger seat. They seem to reach a new low on a daily basis, but she won't turn back, no matter how desperate things get. After all, this is her trip and Nick is just the driver. Celia's got a charming smile to pay her way, a willing accomplice, a hidden agenda, and an endless supply of lies. Not to mention a gun.

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!
Love, love, LOVED this book! This isn't a pretty little romance, it's a dark coming of age novel that takes you on an adventure across the country with two characters that elicit powerful emotions.

Celia On The Run is mostly told from Nick's perspective, a boy that so desperately wants to live life and not just watch it pass by as he has been for the seventeen years of his life. It was really refreshing to see the roles reversed as Nick is the shy, not-so-sure character and Celia is the bad-ass with confidence, attitude and a lack of self-preservation(in a way). Nick's confidence surges after his one night with Celia, and he instantly starts becoming his own person as he experiences new and, most of the time, dangerous situations. Celia's character is a mystery that we slowly get familiarized with, severely wanting to unravel the secrets that are hidden.

Celia On The Run is courageous, mostly dark and even horrific at times, gut-wrenching and exhilarating. I was gripping the edge of my seat the entire time, experiencing the ups and downs right alongside Nick and Celia. I was reluctant to set my Kindle down for even a moment, I even read while brushing my teeth! I was thoroughly invested in the story. Sarah Mandell did an excellent job of keeping the suspense, drawing in the readers and then slamming them with suspected and unsuspected outcomes. There are tender moments that left my heart stuttering, but they were slightly overshadowed by the dire situation that was ever present on the cross country trip. This only added to the tender moments, making them as sweet as can be. Sarah Mandell's writing style takes you to each scene without any trouble, letting the story play in your mind as your eyes scan the words on each page. The growth is both subtle and not, individual and as a whole. It gives you hope for a happy ending that you will never be sure is in Nick and Celia's future.

My only complaint is of the cover. I like the current cover, but I feel like it could have been better. I have a very distinct image in my head when I think about Celia On The Run, a cover that would have tied into the story more and would possibly draw in future readers.

An uninhibited view of sensitive topics done in a tactful manner that plunges you into the world of the not-so-well-off youth of America. If you are sensitive to swearing, violence, drugs and sex then this might not be a story that you will like, but it is a necessity to this story and it would not carry the same impact without it. I encourage males and females of the proper maturity to dive in because Celia On The Run is a dynamic, touching and intense adventure.

Celia On The Run is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: If I Can't Have You by Lauren Hammond

If I Can't Have YouOne is lonely. Three is a crowd.

Robin Mason has never been the same since Drake Robertson, a hot lifeguard at her family's yearly vacation spot saves her from drowning. Ever since that day she's never let another guy hold a candle to him. She's idolized him and has been waiting for the day where they can go from Facebook friends to more. Much, much more.

Flash-forward three years and Robin isn't the same tween Drake rescued from the deep blue sea. She's collage bound, curvy, and finally ready to take what she wants most - Drake.

But not i Drake's brother Elliot has anything to say about it.

Robin is torn between what's right and what's wrong, her head and her heart, and two brothers that are simply irresistible. But who will she choose? Safe, sweet Elliot? Or the hot, smoldering Drake?

Two brothers. One girl. One choice. So which will it be?

Genre: YA Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The sexy cover and the intriguing blurb are what captured my attention, but once I started to read, great writing style, intriguing concept, but sadly, lacking characters.

I was expecting better character development. Robin was too whiny, an attribute that really grates me in female protagonists. For the age that the characters were suppose to be, they seemed too immature. I was left feeling like the surface was scratched, never being led deeper. For me, the proper emotions were missing or in the wrong place.
If I Can't Have You is about an obsession masked as love vs. missing what is right in front of your face. From the beginning the reader will know who Robin will end up with, but I felt like there was a lot of unnecessary things that got in the way of that. Everything that happens with Drake is understandable and expected, but then you add Elliot to the mix and the things that happen between him and Robin are too instantaneous, never going deeper. The love was too easily acquired but then it was also too easily thrown away making the reunion rushed. I just felt that the situations were too far-fetched.

I enjoyed the concept of the story, but I was left frustrated, wanting a deeper connection to the characters. I lacked the emotional pull to make me invested in them. They were too see-through, not meaty enough and the story was too much of a surface story. I will try other works by Lauren Hammond, I have faith in her writing style, I just hope the characters will elicit more from me.

Reader Warning: This book contains a lot of cussing and sexual content. I would only recommend this to older YA readers.

If I Can't Have You is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits#2) by Samantha Young

Scorched Skies (Fire Spirits #2)
The White King has crossed the line, sounded the horn, sent out the wolves.

When blood is shed and life is lost the reality of Ari's position as both hunter and prey finally sets in. It seems her father will stop at nothing to force her will to his own and distracted by Charlie's latest mistake and her seemingly misguided attraction to Jai, Ari never thought to fear anyone else but the Jinn King.

Blindsided and attacked, Ari learns a new wolf has joined the hunt. A dark sorcerer believes he knows a way to bleed the power of the Seal and wield it as his own, and he is even less patient than the White King.

The war for the Seal has only just begun. . . and it's time for Ari to turn it on its head.

It's time for Ari to stop acting like the hunted.

It's time for Ari to become the hunter.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!

Well, let me just start by saying: Samantha Young, will forever be one of my favorite authors! She has amazing talent that seeps from the pages of her stories, drawing the reader into worlds that are fascinating and unique.

As Scorched Skies unfolds we get little glimpses of all the characters involved, we get to see how they think, which lends a helping hand in immersing the reader into the story. The mystery and intrigue continues from the first book, unraveling some old aspects and starting some new ones. There is never a dull moment. I was constantly in sweet, torturing agony as the romance picks up. I knew who I was voting for the whole time, but the question is: who were you voting for? Charlie or Jai?

We get further introduced to Trey, Jai's best friend, and I must say, he is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the story. We also get introduced to new characters, a better look at the 'political' side of the Jinn, have some suspicions rooted more deeply and get a slightly deeper look into Jai's childhood. The emotions are raw as we continue our adventure with Ari as she grows and accepts the responsibility that was thrust onto her. Scorched Skies will have you jumping out of your skin for Borrowed Embers!

There is quite literally no need for a longer or more in-depth review. Fans of Samantha Young will already be snatching up Scorched Skies and if you aren't already a fan, then what are you waiting for? Go buy Smokeless Fire and get started on this amazing adventure that you shouldn't miss out on!

P.S. Go vote for Borrowed Embers to be the next released book from Samantha Young at her website here!

Scorched Skies is currently available at Amazon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Reason To Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

"No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?"

Reason to Breathe (The Breathing Series, #1)
He knows there's something more to the girl sitting in the back of the class the moment he sees her. She's beautiful, intelligent, and athletic - but she slips quietly through the crowded halls, trying not to exist. Determined to get to know the elusive girl, Evan soon discovers. . .

Emma Thomas is hiding a terrible secret.

Reason To Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl's fragile grasp of hope.

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars!
I've been wanting to read Reason To Breathe for quite some time, the only reason I have waited is because I was waiting for the sequel, Barely Breathing, to be released. I couldn't hold out any longer.
Emma is such a strong character, she will endear herself to each reader as she slowly starts to blossom, finding her true reason to breathe and gradually letting the wall down that she painstakingly built up around herself. Evan, oh Evan. He is a knight in shining armor, really, but in the subtle ways he lets Emma crawl out of her own shell without forcing her. He will leave readers breathless with his charming, calm determination. Sara, Emma's best friend, produced a lot of emotions from me. The reader will undoubtedly connect with Emma, but they will also connect with Sara(some readers even more) because of the struggles she deals with concerning Emma. I found myself completely breaking down when Sara would witness the evidence that Emma tried to hide. She was helpless to do anything without pushing Emma away and Rebecca Donovan did an exceeding job conveying the role of the powerless friend. The reader will be incapacitated to become anything less than invested in the story of Emma, Evan and Sara.
Reason To Breathe produces sorrow, compassion, fear, helplessness, anger, but there are moments that are heart-lifting as well. Rebecca Donovan captures each emotion between the pages with an effortless simplicity that is also overshadowed by the deep layers begging to be examined. Rebecca Donovan does a successful job of making the story as humanly as possible. Reason To Breathe is not a feel-good novel, it is not an easy read, but it is a much needed look into a realistic situation that has been brushed under the rug too many times. I can honestly say that I will forever be impacted by Reason To Breathe, in fact it is nearly impossible for me to think about this book and characters without feeling the sting of tears in the back of my eyes. There are only a handful of books that have made me bawl my eyes out, Reason To Breathe is now on the top of that list.

I highly recommend Reason To Breathe for all readers regardless of age or gender. This is a must read!

Reason To Breathe is currently available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords

Make sure to add Barely Breathing, the sequel, to your tbr pile, it's expected to be out in May

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review: Destiny's Revenge(Destiny #2) by Nancy Straight

Warning: If you haven't read the first book, Meeting Destiny, I would not recommend reading this review of the second book. I do, however, recommend you read Meeting Destiny!

Destiny's Revenge (Destiny #2)

There was no reason for Lauren to be in a coma. Her physical injuries had healed, but she had been non-responsive for so long that her doctor's told her family and Max to move on. She awoke to find her life in a shambles; the man she loved was gone, her friends had moved on with their lives, and her family was ripped apart by her accident. No one knew of the evil forces watching, waiting for her in the shadows, in the lonely corners, even in the eyes of those she loved. Lauren needed to reclaim her destiny, to get her life back; the last thing she ever suspected was Destiny's Revenge.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

A new tone is set in Destiny's Revenge, the second book of the Destiny trilogy. There is an underlying feel of foreboding that radiates from the pages as the story progresses. I did not anticipate the turn that Destiny's Revenge took, I was completely blown away!

Now the hard part is going to be highlighting the story in a way that gives nothing away. Here it goes! Differences, Lauren and Max have both changed, they have both matured, but that is not the only difference. Their destiny was altered, consequently altering them as individuals. They each have a strenuous journey of re-discovery as they each battle their inner turmoils. Max is more hardened, which is to be expected, but he still very much has the ability to make the female readers' feel fluttery butterflies. In my eyes, Max is more desirable in Destiny's Revenge. Lauren has amped up her likableness by multitudes. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved her in Meeting Destiny, but she has grown into a more commendable, resolute young woman. She relies more on herself, only asking for help when she truly needs it. There is sparse interaction with secondary characters, but the reader won't be lacking as their attention is captured and held by Lauren. There are a few new characters that are introduced, some more amiable than others. There are two additions that I truly loved and was shocked and happy Nancy Straight chose to introduce them. They added to the story, complementing Lauren and Max's characters. Nancy Straight also slips in a treat for her fans in the form of Max's perspective. That's right, we get to delve into his psyche! I can only hope that we will get continued glimpses in the third and final installment, Destiny's Wrath!

All I can say, you better be prepared to pick your jaw up off the ground! I was capsized by a rogue wave, and that is how I will equate it: to being hit by a huge wave, sucked under, tossed around until you can't decipher which way is up or down. Then once you finally surface, you are left gasping for air trying to find your equilibrium. In one word: intense! The wheels in your head will be constantly spinning as new aspects are laid out in front of you. You lean to one side, then maybe start to lean to the other. You will have no idea who to believe or how it will end! The emotions are also more raw, almost gritty. And that is all I will say about the plot!

Nancy Straight is an exceptional author that goes above and beyond any expectations. She successfully ensnares the readers attention, never relinquishing the hold until you have the the last book in your hands, ready to shun the world and continue the adventure of Lauren and Max.

Destiny's Revenge is currently available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review: Amber Eyes(Entwined Souls #1) by Jolyn Palliata

~ Eyes are the window to the soul, in a time when souls are ancient. ~

Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy - Book One)

After an accident, one she shouldn't have walked away from, Lexi's life finally begins. She meets Dez, a new student with the most beautiful eyes she's ever seen. And since gazing into them, Lexi has had vivid waking dreams that pull her back through time, and into the warm embrace of a mysterious stranger - a stranger who becomes all too familiar. When offering an explanation for her detailed visions, Dez changes her world forever with two simple words: Soul mates.

For the first time in her life, Lexi feels safe and complete. But lingering in the shadows is the embodiment of evil, coveting the light within her. He's a threat to Lexi's very existence, and to a love that has transcended time.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A captivating tale abut soul mates and true love with a plush background of history. As Lexi discovers a new(or maybe in this case, old) life that she has lived, the reader is transported to that time right along with her. The imagery was vividly bright, making it extremely easy to become part of the story. The mystery is kept throughout as we slowly reveal new angles, each taking  the reader in a different direction. I did, however, start to lose focus when the time would skip forward in varying amounts(two weeks, a month, a few months) with only a snippet of info to convey Lexi's thoughts and feelings. After that, though, the story flows more smoothly as we move forward in a more consistent pace.

I personally loved all of the characters involved in Amber Eyes. The story revolves around Lexi, but she is surrounded by outstanding characters that add more personality to the story. You get the sense of strong friendships that withstand the trials of time and other hardships, becoming a family rather that just simple friends. Lexi is a dazzling female protagonist, she helps hook the readers attention with her sarcasm, wittiness, and fierce loyalty. Regarding soul mates, Dez is the perfect match for Lexi. They compliment each other with their similarities and differences, adding a balance to their characters. Jolyn Palliata does an excellent job of keeping Dez shrouded in a thin veil of mystery. Word of advice, don't get settled in for the apparent neat little satisfying bow because the reader will get thrown in a completely different direction that will have you gasping in anxiety for the next in the trilogy.

"Careful. Your horns are knocking your halo off balance."

Amber Eyes is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: Moonlight and Oranges by Elise Stephens

Moonlight and Oranges (Paperback

A timeless tale of young romance.

Lorona Connelly is ready for a change from her carefully planned, bookish life. When sparks fly at a costume party, she embraces a chance for romance with the handsome Kestrin Feather. However, she quickly realizes that even love and destiny may not be enough to overcome the reality of an over-protective mother-in-law and Kestrin's long, tarnished history of relationships.

When Lorona's curiosity leads her to Kestrin's journal, doubt plagues them both with insecurities and threatens the relationship. Can true love overcome the odds, or was their whirlwind romance just a frivolous crush? Authore Elise Stephens shares a journey of young love, fate, and wounded trust in the story of Lorona and Kestrin, a couple who must learn to overcome their fears to share a life together.

Genre: YA Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

A brilliant novel that sends you on a rugged trek as the characters discover, fight and surrender to their fate. Beautifully written!

The characters were all so unique in their own capacity. Kestrin constantly had me groaning in frustration yet he rouses compassion. Lorona draws a connection out of you the moment we meet her, endearing her honest, insecurity ridden determination to the reader. And it doesn't stop there. Kahlil and Yuki both ignite a fierce affection in their unwavering loyalty to their friends. Amanda, Kestrin's mother, will have you disgusted and angered. Each character produces appropriate emotions as the story tangles and untangles.

Moonlight and Oranges starts with a bang, not subtlety introducing the reader to the story, but fully throwing the reader into it from the very beginning. It was exhilarating! The mixed point-of-view's help shed light as the reader is caught in the middle of a fantastic whirlwind. Moonlight and Oranges is a contemporary, twined together with fantasy, take on the story of Cupid and Psyche (I had no idea until I reached the end and read the author's notes, after that I quickly found the likeness and the little clues hidden within. Example: Kestrin's last name Feather, referring to Cupid in the Mythological story). But it isn't just a straight forward take, there are many different aspects that make this unique in it's own right. I was in agony as the somewhat unpredictable twists took me in a different direction, but it was a blissful agony. The reader will be aware that there is a happy ending, but the journey to get to that happy ending is tremulous. There are moments that had me laughing, crying and many in betweens. Emotional and entertaining!

Elise Stephens did a superb job of capturing my attention and keeping it throughout, I was helpless to the outside world as the story devoured me.

Moonlight and Oranges is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Drip Drop Teardrop(novella) by Samantha Young

Drip Drop TeardropAvery hasn't had it easy.

When she was ten years old her parents died in a car crash. Now nine years later her Aunt Caroline is the only family member she has left. And Caroline is dying.
So when death comes knocking (quite literally) in the form of damaged and dangerous, Brennus, Avery makes a deal with the reaper in order to save Caroline.

Brennus is Ankou.

One of the many, once mortal men and women, who were given the choice to become an immortal in exchange for ferrying the dead over into their afterlife.
Nine years ago Brennus took Avery's parents and tried to take Avery, but she fought him and won. Amazed by her strength Brennus followed Avery and has watched over her.
Now he knows Avery is the one to offer him freedom from his obligation to the dead.
And he'll stop at nothing to have her.

Authors Warning: YA Paranormal Romance for mature teens(some content may not be suitable                      for younger readers)

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

What I have come to learn is that fans of Samantha Young will never be disappointed. She has such talent spinning new, unique tales that surround characters that pack a punch. Docile and surrendering characters? Never. Samantha's characters all have one thing in common: they are all utterly and extremely badass!

Drip Drop Teardrop is a novella that instantly captures your attention. Do not expect a 'wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am' novella, it reads as a novel as the story unfolds, grasping each aspect of the characters that is important. It even still carries the ups and downs as Avery struggles with her inner turmoil. 

A fast, entertaining read that will have you ready for This Weeping Frost, the companion novella.

Drip Drop Teardrop is available at Amazon

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Made Up by Emma Jackson

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

Made Up

Life hasn't been much of a fairytale for Katia recently, but when she lands her dream job as a makeup artist, it seems like things might be about to change.

Whisked off to join a film production in the vibrancy and magic of India, she has to face a fire-breathing dragon in the shape of her new boss and solve complex riddles, such as whether Owen Walker, the movie's gorgeous leading man, is a serial womaniser, a knight in shining armour, or something in between. . .

Because learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction, might just be the key to finding her happy ending.
Genre: Contemporary Chick Lit/Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 I was instantly swept away by the stunning characters as they negotiate through their adventure.

You are graced with a wide array of characters from the sweet, yet jaded female protagonist, Katia, to the rumored womanizing Owen, to all the in betweens. We get to see through Katia's eyes, feeling what she feels, temporarily walking in her shoes. Emma Jackson writes in such a way that I was instantly evoked to become invested in Katia's character and her well-being.

A sweet, budding, uncertain romance starts to take place as the pages grow fewer. Although, this is a romance story, the romance takes a step back as we discover the personal demons that Katia struggles to battle. Not all of them are her own. Made Up produces emotions that are hard to ignore, conveying struggles that some women may have to deal with that all women will be sympathetic to. The pace was well-thought out, never being rushed to produce something that would have been unnatural and too coincidental. Everything flowed together nicely, I was never left wanting because I was completely satisfied with the story and the characters.

I was extremely gratified by the end, but also severely disappointed because I grew attached to the characters of Made Up, desperate to read more. But behold, Made Up is in fact the first book of a trilogy, so my my disappointed was turned into anxious excitement.

Made Up is currently available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review


Pub Date 
March 13th

Random House Children's Books
~Delacorte BFYR~

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America-the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize that she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Simply put, this is a must read that every reader should be scrambling to get their hands on. A truly inspiring tale that is going straight up to the top of my favorites pile!

The characters are so real! The feeling of being lost, of drifting through life without a purpose or destination makes Bria and Rowan incredibly relate-able, building a camaraderie between reader and characters. I even felt that sometimes Bria was an extension of myself, I thoroughly connected with Bria and Rowan which has forever endeared Wanderlove to me. There are realistic situations, realistic reactions and most importantly, realistic characteristics. Rowan is a slight mystery, but he's not overshadowed by it. He's still somewhat accessible which makes him more human than many male main characters. 

The plot line is a sweet, slow-building anticipation. It starts out fantastic and just keeps getting better and better. I was in awe the whole time I was reading. The imagery instantly sends you to Central America, plunging you into the cultural aspects, blinding you with the colors, bringing to life an experience that is hard to have by just reading. As you read, you get immersed in the art attribute that Kirsten Hubbard provides by quoting artists, to including her own drawings as Bria's interpretation. It's another facet that let's you in deeper without shoving you there. I was wrapped in a euphoric calm the entire story, marveling in the superbly written dimensions that made me laugh, cry, sigh and every emotion in between. Wanderlove is the kind of book that at the end, an audible, satiated sigh will escape with a hint of a smile on your lips. Possibly a singular tear will travel down your cheek as you realize your time with Rowan and Bria has come to an end. Yes, it is THAT amazing!

Wanderlove transcends it's pages, it is otherworldly in it's chaotic simplicity that reels you in effortlessly. This book will experience many re-reads throughout my existence. I hope that other readers feel for Rowan and Bria as I do. 

Wanderlove is available for purchase(ebook and hard cover) on March 13th from Amazon 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal

I received this book, The Lifeguard, from the publisher through NetGalley

The Lifeguard

Pub Date
March 1st
March 6th(ebook)

 Albert Whitman & Co

It's an unsettled summer for Sirena. Back in Texas, her family's splitting apart, but here in Rhode Island, at the cottage of her Aunt, it's a different world. There are long days at the beach and intriguing encounters with Pilot, the lifeguard with shamanic skills. Sirena explores her obsession with Pilot and discovers his mysterious--almost magical--gifts.

Genre:YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

The recommended age for The Lifeguard is thirteen and up, I must agree that this is a perfect book for that age group. It was really cute, super sweet, but ultimately a little too young for me. 

Sirena is a sixteen year old girl, and boy, does Deborah Blumenthal channel a sixteen year old with her writing! Sirena's thought process, her slight obsession, her anger with her parents. . . it all reminded me of being sixteen. Pilot is a complete mystery, he's elusive and serious. Never giving a hint to his emotions. For me, the secondary characters were what made this story. Antonio, the eighty year old painter, Mark, the restaurant owner, and Aunt Ellie, who writes science fiction books. They rounded out the feel, making the story whole. 

There are hints that allude to a paranormal, kind of magical, element that helps keep the mystery alive, the curiosity stoked as the story unfolds on it's own. I found the main plot of The Lifeguard to be about Sirena struggling to understand the world around her, coming to terms with changing tides and letting go of the hurt and anger. It was a nice change to have a books sub-plot be the paranormal aspect instead of being the main focus. The letters between Sirena and her best friend, Marissa, were a very nice touch, showing qualities of Sirena that were lost from being in a state where she didn't know anyone her own age. I loved how all of the secondary characters helped Sirena make the changes necessary to let the past go, it made each of them endearing in their own way. The ending will have your heart pitter-pattering! One of THE sweetest endings ever, I absolutely loved it!

Altogether, this was a fun, cute, sweet, somewhat whimsical read that was easy to get swept away in. I wouldn't miss out on this one!

The Lifeguard is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble