Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green


Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Published: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

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Oh, Half Bad, I wanted so very much to like you. So many people talked about you, you have glowing reviews, and normally you’d be something that I would reach for. I only finished you because I have completion issues. My major problem with this book is it takes SO LONG for anything to happen, that by the time it does I was bored and wanting to put it away. I felt no connection to Nathan at all. I don’t know if that’s from the first few chapters being written in second persona narration, or if he’s just that flat.

And there’s the other kicker. Nathan is half white witch, half black witch, hence the ‘Half-bad’ title of the book and his branding. He doesn’t distinguish himself from anything else. There’s no swaying to either side, he’s staunchly in the middle, with a supreme (though rightfully earned) hatred of the white witches. I do think it’s a cleaver play that while the black witches are traditionally portrayed as evil–the white side, the traditionally good witches, are vile and disturbing on so many levels. I guess it’s a perspective thing. The best thing about this book for me was Gabriel. He was a breath of fresh air and lightened things up a bit. It’s irritating when the secondary characters are more rounded out and have more of a personality than the main character.

There’s insta-forbidden-love without any context, and fulfillment, and the ‘love interest’ is missing for three-quarters of the novel only to come back in the last few chapters as a pawn/bargaining piece. I wanted so much more from this book, I really did. There’s so much violence and hatred toward the main character, and there’s so little development/action that I find it incredibly frustrating.

Overall: pink2 Don’t buy into the hype. Seriously not sure if I’m going to pick up the second in the series.

Book Review– 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil


Title: 3:59
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Published: September 17, 2013
Publisher:Balzer + Bray

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo. Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgangers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day. But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh. By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

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This is a quick read chock full of twists and turns, believable science fiction and a dark splash of fantasy and horror. Where it falls short however, is the entire plot is given away in the synopsis and the ending is a little too neat–a little too packaged.

I’m going to start with the things I did like. It’s got a very Alice In Wonderland, mirror flip-turned-upside down vibe going on. From the first page the author leaves the reader unsettled. Something’s coming, and it’s really hard to pin point just what is going on. I think what makes this really effective is that it’s not just one thing, but a group of things, stacking on top of each other. When Josie and Jo switch places, I think the story really starts to shine. The glaring contrast between the two girls really gives light to the ‘good twin v bad twin’ battle. Though in this case they’re doppelgangers. I figured out one of the twists early on, after Josie alters her appearance to look more like Jo.

The story doesn’t really pick up until after the switch, when Josie learns that there’s more to Jo’s world than the girl had initially let on. Josie for a few chapters flounders, trying to get her footing and deal with the people who look just like those she left in her own universe, but act so very different. The characters are different enough that they stand out and separate from their alternates. One of the very obvious differences in Jo’s world is the introduction of the Nox. I really would have loved to see more about them, rather than the flash bang description and then a rather disturbing scene further along in the book.

One of the things that I did really enjoy is nothing was exactly what it seemed. Everyone had their own agendas and secrets. I did see the major twist coming from a mile away, but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book. I did feel as though everything was packaged up neatly with a bow–even the heart-wrenching moment, there was closure there. I would have preferred a little rawness to this, but I can see why the author kept it neat.

Overall: pink5 Quick read that plays with science and fantasy on a real world scope. A little too neat of a finish, and predictable but still enjoyable.

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green.


Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Published: September 22, 2009
Publisher: Speak.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

picadillypink In reading The Fault in Our Stars, I discovered John Green. I found him to be a bit pretentious (okay, a lot pretentious) but the way he crafted his world, and his way with words won me over. The Fault in Our Stars reads like a movie, and I’m glad I experienced both mediums. Curiosity got the better of me, and after a friend’s non stop barrage of tweets about Green’s other works I picked up Paper Towns from the library. I let it sit around for a few days before I picked it up and started to read.

Almost instantly I’m greeted by the same prose, the same slightly overbearing pontification of word-smithing, and yet I chug on. I try to connect with the plot, with the characters with this whirlwind of a hope of a chance of a female named Margo Roth Spiegleman and her ever present, yet cast aside straight man Q. Let me tell you, if I have to read the words Margo Roth Spiegleman again, it’ll be all too soon. What frustrates me so much with this novel is the time Q spends chasing this girl and she’s not even what he really wants. Q doesn’t even know what he wants (and here in might be the main purpose behind the story–but still).

What I take out of it, is it’s a love letter and a goodbye note left by Margo Roth Spiegleman to Q. I really like the reaction she has later on in the book. She’s wanting to be free from the societal bounds she’s put on herself–and I think Q and the Scooby Gang going after her completely undermines that. It’s a drawn out process and maddening in it’s plodding progression. Yes, it’s a coming of age story, yes it’s the last hurrah before graduating high school and stepping into the grand void of the unknown.

I wanted to love this book so hard. I wanted it to be something that after reading I went out and purchased and put on my shelf, like I did with TFiOS. I also tried really hard to keep from drawing comparisons of the two, but they just kept happening. Things would creep in, details, narrative nuances that I couldn’t help but notice. I prefer TFiOS, though I can’t deny that Paper Towns is well written and there’s an audience for it, it just didn’t happen to float my boat.

This particular quote has stuck with me though, and I can’t seem to shake it.

“– I mean at some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you’ll look back down and see that you floated away, too.” I liken this as a warning to Q, not to get so wrapped up in Margo, but at this point there’s really no turning back. Not for Q, or the reader.

Overall: pink3 Would I recommend this? Yes. Would I own this? No. I am going to read Green’s other works though.

Book Review: Breaking Free by Brandy L. Rivers.


Title: Breaking Free
Author: Brandy L. Rivers.
Published: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Goodreads.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
They say that dreams can come true, but as a Dreamwalker, Devlin had yet to experience anything but nightmares. Then again, the druid had been held by sadistic vampires and dark mages for twenty years, forced to do their bidding. Newly escaped, he stumbles upon a dreamrealm where he can’t resist a little werewolf.

Jamie just wants someone to call her own. She feels like she’s been waiting for an awfully long time, when a man who teases her memory begins to visit her while she’s dreaming. From the moment she feels his turmoil, she’s drawn in, wanting nothing more than to heal his broken soul.

Before Devlin can decide what to do, he has to make a trip to Edenton. His first goal is to make sure someone who can’t remember him is safe and happy. The little werewolf of his dreams happens to live there, and she’s even more irresistible in real life.

When you’ve been taught all your life to run, what will make you change? Can Jamie convince her mate to stay and fight? Will he risk everything to have what he needs? Or run to save them all?

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I could not put this book down. I devoured it in a matter of an hour and a little bit, and it blew my mind. Devlin is by far one of my favorite male leads of anything I’ve read this year. He’s strong, smart, sensitive and tough. He’s been held prisoner for years, but some seriously nasty villains, and despite torture and terrible things happening to him, he remains true to himself–a healer not a fighter. Which just makes me so happy.

Jamie is another great character, she grew on me pretty steadily throughout the novel. I really love their chemistry together, and the fact that the female character was the stronger in the relationship. Devlin is not an alpha male–but it works so well with Jamie who pulls him out of everything and works to make their world better. This is the fourth book in a series, but it didn’t feel like I was coming into the story mid-way. Characters from previous books show up and are mentioned but there’s enough context to determine who is who without giving away their stories.

Overall: pink4 I loved this. I’ve already purchased the other books in this series.


I was given a copy of this book for honest review.

Book Review: Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


Title: Snakecharm
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published: June 13, 2006
Publisher: Laurel Leaf.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Zane Cobriana, cobra shapeshifter, thanks the gods every day for Danica, his hawk pair bond, and the peace their union has brought to the avian and serpiente. Soon, Danica will have a child to carry on their royal line. But what should be a happy time is riddled with doubt.

Syfka, an ancient falcon, has arrived from Ahnmik claiming that one of her people is hidden in their midst. The falcons are more powerful than the avian and serpiente combined, and Syfka shows nothing but contempt for Zane and Danica’s alliance. To Zane’s horror, his own people seem just as appalled as Syfka is by the thought of a mixed-blood child becoming heir to the throne.

Is Syfka’s lost falcon just a ruse to stir up controversy among them? The truth lies somewhere in their tangled pasts and the search will redefine Zane and Danica’s fragile future.

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After reading Hawksong and falling in love with it, I immediately went to reserve Snakecharm from the library. It took a few weeks for them to get it in, so I was chomping at the bit to read it when I finally got my hands on it. I still like the world, and the characters–though in Snakecharm there’s a narration shift from Danica to Zane. About halfway through the book we find out that Danica is pregnant with their first child, and along with that comes the problems of raising a mixed breed child, and which throne the child will inherit. I found that Danica changed a bit in this book. She’s not as strong/self sufficient in this book, relying heavily on others.

Zane is a believable narrator though a bit passive. I felt that it dragged a bit, and lacked some of the excitement and drama from the first book. I did also notice that there wasn’t as much world building–it was as though I was supposed to take things at face value. The story felt a bit rushed, a little stitched together to further the main plot along. I did like the side story with the two falcons that are hidden among Danica’s people. It was a nice twist that I didn’t see coming.

Overall: pink2 Snakecharm suffers from second book syndrome–adding in details to pad the story and push along a larger plot that will be revealed in later books. Feels like filler.

Book Review: Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis.


Title: Bold
Authors: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis.
Published: October 16th 2013
Publisher: Createspace.

Rating: Did not finish.

Synopsis:
Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash and vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who just moved to her Air Force desert town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.
Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered suburban world. But will they discover there is a difference between being bold and being stupid before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?

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Bold has an interesting premise, though it contradicts itself. Sasha who makes a promise to be bold after nearly dying, takes pride in hiding in the shadows and remaining on the fringes. Everything changes of course, when Will (the new boy in town) enters the picture. I could have gotten past that. However, the writing in this book is more akin to a screen play. Lots of visual imagery, a lot of cut scenes, and more exposition than anything. The story switches narration, which I would be okay with, except that it switches every two to three pages.

One thing that made me want to stop reading was the response to a background character responding to Will’s crying (also, who in the world rubs hot sauce in their eyes to induce crying? That’s dangerous). The trucker nearly throws Will into the dumpster because he “Wanted to give him something to cry about […] Crying boys lead to gay men.” I’m not certain where young men crying suddenly changes their sexuality. I understand that the authors wanted to create a background character like that—but not necessary. It really stuck out to me and hit a chord. Another instance and what made me put the book down, is after a chapter or two of flirting, Will and Sasha decide to go hiking. Will (in his narrative portion) has a mental soliloquy about how his dates normally go and the fact that “Sasha meeting him at the trail head is strange. He hopes this doesn’t put him in the FRIEND ZONE” That phrase along made me rage that I didn’t want to finish the book. I flipped through it, and there’s instances where Will is controlling, off putting and worried that Sasha is sneaking around on him. Also, I don’t normally mention this in reviews, but it really bothers me. The couple on the book look so much older than high school–more like college age. It’s slightly off putting considering the age range of the main characters.

Overall pinkdnf Rampant sexism and rapid switch narration made this book really hard for me to swallow.

I was sent this book free for review purposes. I am not being compensated or influenced in any way.

Book Review: Beasthood by A.Z. Green


Title: Beasthood
Author: A.Z. Green
Published: February 17, 2014
Publisher: Self

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
What would you do if you discovered you weren’t human? That you turned into a bloodthirsty monster against your will?
What if your instincts, emotions and desires were torn between your own and the dark, dangerous animal lurking inside of you?
If it could make you yearn for someone you shouldn’t, make you say and act in ways you wouldn’t and overwhelm your whole existence?
If everything you’d ever known about your life was a lie?

In a world where a deeply hidden community is swathed in mystery, deadly secrets, betrayal and murder, Jaz Barker struggles to fight against the dangerous Beast within her and the emotions and desires it thrusts her way.

When tensions ride high and people she cares about are put in danger, she will have to decide how much of her newly awakened animal-side she’s willing to let in.

And if it is worth the risk…

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Beasthood is a wonderful urban fantasy book with some great horror/mystery elements to it as well. This is a quick read full of twists and turns and no one is who they say they are. The prologue sets up a great driving plot and also introduces the bit of intrigue and mystery into the story. Jaz is a great character. I like that she’s well developed, has a backbone and frankly doesn’t take too much crap from anyone. What really fuels my slight obsession with this book is the werewolf culture. These shifters are different from others that I’ve read, and I really appreciate that. I like their society and reading about their laws and the way that they act with each other.

There’s a lot going on, but the story doesn’t seem rushed at all. It’s beautifully thought out, paced well and there’s always just enough hinted at to keep me engaged and wanting to read. I didn’t want this book to end, and I’m sorry to say that the second hasn’t been released. I love the scenes between Jaz and Nic and I want more. This is a great fast paced story. It kept me guessing to the end and wanting to keep reading long after it was over.

Overall: pink5 I’d love to read more of this world.


I was given a copy of this book for review by My Family’s Heart Book Reviews and Tours. I am not being compensated or influenced in any way.

Book Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz


Title: Teeth
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Published: January 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

picadillypink I am really conflicted when it comes to this book. I really like a lot of aspects of it, and then there are a few things that just drive me absolutely crazy about it. I’m going to start with the things that I did like about it. I really love the character of Rudy and how he changes through the novel. He cares so deeply for his little brother, and the sacrifice that comes with caring for a sick relative really shines through–as does the guilt of wanting to have some sort of life outside of being a caretaker. His interactions with the other characters is amazing. I love the slow burn between him and Diana and how their relationship changes, becomes something that neither of them are ready for. Despite that I think the real ‘relationship’ is between him and Teeth. What he does for Teeth in the last third of the book and how he helps him speaks so much about the way Rudy operates and the base intentions of his actions.

Speaking of, Teeth is a really interesting character. I haven’t come across anything quite like him in the books I’ve read. I guessed his origin pretty quickly, though how he came to be is quite possibly one of the weirdest conception stories in the world. I love the friendship that they build and I felt for the little one-sided romantic feelings that Teeth had toward Rudy. I think that he and Rudy play similar roles: misunderstood, protector, wanting more for themselves. Unfortunately things don’t always work out nicely. Teeth suffers in this book and there are some rather disturbing ideas (though never explicitly shown, there is mention of rape and forced oral sex). Which brings me to one of the major things I had a problem with.

I don’t like non-consensual sex as a plot device. And while it’s not explicitly shown, it’s implied through dialogue and some imagery between Teeth and a couple of the fishermen. I don’t know where it fits in, and I think the story would have been just the same without the sexual violence. I also feel that the book could have been longer. I want to know more about the world, the island and why certain things work the way that they do.

Overall pink5 amazing characters and relationships make this story.

Book Review: SEAL My Destiny by Sharon Hamilton


Title SEAL My Destiny
Author: Sharon Hamilton.
Published: March 14th 2014
Publisher: Createspace

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Navy SEAL Luke Paulsen, on the verge of PTSD stemming from the death of his fiancee and a brutal tour overseas, knows he is damaged goods and unsuitable for relationships. While paying respects to a fallen comrade, he is unprepared for the chemical attraction he feels for the carefree dark-haired beauty playing in the surf one evening. Julie Christensen befriends the troubled SEAL, motivated by her yearning to soothe the young man’s troubled soul. Fueled by intense mutual desire, they succumb to one night of mind-numbing passion. Afterwards, he is unable to shed the memory of his lost love and disappears. When they meet again at a wedding that will forever bring their two families together, their passion and longing for one another forces them to confront their pasts in order to find a future together.

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This is one of the best SEAL/military focus romance I’ve read. I love that Ms. Hamilton not only has well rounded characters with incredible chemistry and explosive scenes together, she has a battle torn SEAL who suffers from PTSD. It’s handled beautifully, and true to real life. I really like that she had the balls to bring that into this story. It’s something that makes it all the more real, more visceral if you will. I have not read the other books in this series, but there are reoccurring characters and I didn’t feel lost coming into it with the sixth book. I will for sure be checking out the other books. I love a good military focused romance, and by golly this hit ALL of my buttons.

Speaking of, the romance sizzles and is off the charts. Again there’s realism to it when Luke disappears from Julie’s life. The way they come together after that is great, and so worth the wait. I really rooted for them and they deserve a happy ending. I fell in love with this story and the characters. It’s action packed full of good drama and real characters. Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. There are a few things that don’t jive (a few pacing details), but it’s not enough for me to really care at all.

Overall: pink5 pink4 This is a beautiful story, full of love, steamy scenes, and realism. I recommend it highly.


I was sent a copy of this novel for review by My Family’s Heart Book Reviews. I am not compensated.

Book Review: Chime by Franny Billingsley


Title: Chime.
Author: Franny Billingsley
Published: April 12th 2012
Publisher: Speak

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Briony has a secret. It is a secret that killed her stepmother, ruined her sister’s mind, and will end her life, if anyone were to know. She has powers. Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and a great mane of tawny hair. He is as natural as the sun, and he treats her as if she is extraordinary. And everything starts to change . . . Chime is a haunting, brilliantly written novel that will stay with you–its magic, its romance, its world like none other.

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Kristen from the Book Monsters sent me this book in our swap (along with Fangirl) and I found myself quickly getting swept up in the story. Chime is very layered and interesting. I would actually compare it to The Scarlet Letter (yes that classic that most of us were forced to read in middle/high school). Briony is a wonderful character, strong and focused in her goals. She has a few desires and more than a few secrets. She’s dark and mysterious and little by little we’re shown her world and what’s going on. Things are done a certain way with roles being fulfilled. Until Eldric comes along and shakes everything loose. He’s everything she’s not. Goodness and light with a streak of wonder and adventure. He challenges her and I think they make a great pair. They balance each other well. The characters in this book are some that I’ve never seen before. Their interactions are amazing and electrifying. No one is who they really seem to be, and each character, even the most minor grows and changes as the story goes on.

I really enjoyed the mythos and superstitions of this world. The magic aspect and magic v. religion/faith. It takes a really interesting turn especially in the last few chapters. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t but there are quite a few shockers that left me reeling.

There is one thing that kept me from rating this book higher. Briony’s narrative took me a very long time to get into. She’s very flighty and changes the subject and goes off on mental soliloquies and tangents that have absolutely nothing to do with what’s currently happening in the novel. It’s a little too jumpy and sporadic, but given time and patience it’s enjoyable.

Overall pink3 strong characters, beautiful imagery, but a flighty narrator creates flow issues. Would recommend to someone looking for a different take on witches with a bit of a historical twist. Thanks so much Kristen.