The Academy: Introductions by C.L. Stone {Review}

The Academy: Introductions by C.L. Stone {Review}Title: The Academy: Introductions
Author: C.L. Stone
Series: The Academy #1
Publisher: Arcato Publishing on December 23rd 2012
Format: eBook, 280 pages
Source: Publisher
1 Stars
The sum up

I didn’t like it at all. I couldn’t care less what happens in the future books, nor do I have any desire to learn about the Academy. I’m done with the series.

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Salt by Danielle Ellison {Review}

Salt by Danielle Ellison {Review}Title: Salt
Author: Danielle Ellison
Publisher: Entangled Teen on January 7th 2014
Format: eBook, 266 pages pages
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
3 Stars

The sum up

A solid fast paced book that’s perfect if you want fun witchiness, or need a break from the heavier stuff.

Summary

Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find “her” demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

My thoughts

Penelope is a witch without her own power. Stolen from her when she was young, she still can do magic, but only when her family is nearby to “lend” her their power. All she’s ever wanted is to find the demon who took her magic, perform a ritual and get it back. She’s been training for years to become an Enforcer, mainly so she can use their extensive research library to find the demon. One day when she’s trapped by a demon, Carter shows up and suddenly she can do magic. How is that possible? And how is she going to pass the Enforcer test without her magic?

Penelope was quite a strong character. She’d lost both her parents and her magic, yet she still managed to be positive, kind and even cheerful. She was respectful of her grandparents, which I loved. She knew what she wanted, and she wasn’t about to let anything stand in her way. Even after Carter entered the picture, she was aware of his effect on both her and the future she had planned for herself. She had a snarkiness about her which I appreciated.

Carter was an enigma – we never quite knew what his motivations were. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but he definitely had secrets. Penelope was more willing to look past those than I would have been. Her sister and grandparents were great, always there for her when she needed help.

There was no sex, but there was chemistry, and some snogging. I kind of wondered whether Carter would turn out to be related to Penelope, because, after all, she could only do magic with her family nearby. But unless the next book in the series takes an alarming turn, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.

I enjoyed the world-building in the story. There’s another world alongside ours that has witches and demons. There are demons of every shape and color, and they can take human form as well, though that usually ends up killing the human. The Enforcers are like the special services of witches. They are paired into teams of two and their job is to hunt all the demons out there.

There were a few grammatical errors and one or two things that bothered me. One of the biggest ones was Penelope’s insistence on becoming an Enforcer. She had to pass 2 major magic tests to become one, but she just kind of glossed over the fact that she didn’t have magic. She was planning on having her sister around for the first test, but the second test didn’t seem to make her all that anxious, which I found odd. For someone so conscientious, she didn’t seem to have a plan in place for that.

Those little issues weren’t enough to make me not want to keep reading and overall, I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

About the author

Danielle Ellison is from a small town in West Virginia. She spent her childhood pretending to fly, talking to imaginary friends, and telling stories. She hasn’t changed much since then. You can still find her pretending to work, talking to imaginary characters, and writing stories.

When she’s not writing, Danielle is probably drinking coffee, fighting her nomadic urges, watching too much TV, or dreaming of the day when she can be British. She is the author of five upcoming novels.

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Betwixt by Melissa Pearl {Review + Giveaway}

Betwixt by Melissa Pearl {Review + Giveaway}Title: Betwixt
Author: Melissa Pearl
Publisher: Self Published on November 5th 2012
Format: eBook, 203 pages pages
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
3 Stars

Summary

Beautiful, wild-child Nicole Tepper is hit by a car and left for dead. But when she wakes the next morning, Nicole finds herself in bed without a scratch. Perhaps she was more intoxicated than usual, as her mother is giving her the silent treatment and her friends are ignoring her as well.

Things take a turn for the weird when Nicole soon discovers she is actually hovering between life and death. Her body is lying in the forest while her spirit is searching for anyone who can hear her. Unfortunately the only person who can is Dale Finnigan, the guy she publicly humiliated with a sharp-tongued insult that has left him branded.

Desperate, Nicole has no choice but to haunt Dale and convince the freaked-out senior to help her. Will he find her body before it’s too late? Or will the guy who tried to kill her with his car, beat him there and finish her off before anyone finds out?

My thoughts

Mean girl Nicole is actually mean to cover the pain from an incident a few years ago that left her sister dead. Instead of feeling the pain, she lashes out at everyone around her, including her parents. After insulting the scarred Dale in front of their classmates, she ends up getting hit by a car while walking home alone after a party. And wouldn’t you know, Dale’s the only one who can hear Nicole’s pleas for help. Can they work together to find Nicole’s body before she fades away for good?

Dale was the only likable character in the book.

Nicole wasn’t an especially likable character. She was going through something awful, carrying around the guilt of her little sister’s death, but she was so mean to everyone around her. Her parents already lost one child, and Nicole was making it darn near impossible for them to like her. Plus she was mean to the kids at her school, acting like the typical queen bee. Dale, on the other hand, was a great guy. He was kind, gentle and, lucky for Nicole, not at all spiteful.

Nicole’s boyfriend was a douchecanoe, the perfect companion to her mean girl. And her friends were just as mean, as demonstrated by their lack of concern after she went missing. Which Nicole witnessed, thanks to her ghostly presence. Really, Dale was the only likable character in the book.

There was tension, as Nicole tried to figure out where her body was and if she would even be able to stay alive until Dale could find her, and mystery as we wondered who hit her and if they would be able to finish the job.

The dialogue was a touch on the unbelievable side for me. I don’t think I can put my finger on it, but it didn’t ring as authentic to me. There was one thing that especially bothered me (slight spoiler): View Spoiler » The writing also seemed to lack something, maybe that little extra thing that makes the story come alive. The basics are there, but the story could use a little polish.

The sum up

While definitely enjoyable, it lacked a little something and had some plausibility issues.

About the author

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. “Best. Year. Ever!!” She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November, 2011. Since then she has produced three more books with her fifth novel, Betwixt, due out in November 2012.

“I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love.”

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Go Figure by Jo Edwards {Review}

Go Figure by Jo Edwards {Review}Title: Go Figure
Author: Johanna Edwards
Publisher: Simon Pulse on October 23, 2007
Format: Paperback, 271 pages
Source: Purchased
2 Stars
Summary

Ryan is not obsessing….

But she does want to lose weight. Ever since she was outted as a “fat girl” at chearleading camp in fifth grade, Ryan’s been on a mission to shed more than a few pounds.

Lately she’s also on the hunt for a new relationship. Now that her ex- boyfriend is a rock star – currently posing on the cover of Rolling Stone – Ryan seriously needs to move on. They haven’t spoken in months, but in the magazine Noah’s wearing the bracelet Ryan gave him. She can’t help wondering what that means…Not that she wants him back or anything.

No, Ryan’s plan is to make the most of senior year. After all, she’s popular, funny, a talented photographer…she’s got a lot going for her. So it’s not all about losing weight or gaining a boyfriend. It’s about getting what she wants. And it’s about time.

My thoughts

Ryan is on the heavy side, and that’s always been a problem for her. Not for anybody else, mind you, just her. She has an ex-boyfriend who liked her just the way she is. Of course, he’s now a famous rock star, and nobody will let her forget that. Her best friend (also on the heavier side) is away until the new school year, but Ryan’s excited to spend her summer at a super-exclusive photography workshop at the local college.

Ryan was obsessed with her weight. To her, everything in her life came down to what she weighed. No matter what else was going on, she found a way to relate it to her weight. While annoying at times, it’s probably pretty realistic for someone at that age to feel that way. Josh was a typical image-obsessed teenage boy. Until he wasn’t. Noah, the rockstar ex-boyfriend, was a jerk. Maybe he was nicer before he became famous, but I didn’t see it. It made it hard to see why Ryan was still crushing on him.

We didn’t get to know Ryan’s BFFF (Best Fat Friend Forever) until she came back from her summer away, and when she came back, she wasn’t a very nice person. Why were they friends? Because fatties have to stick together. Since they were the 2 biggest girls in school, everyone (including the two of them) just assumed they would be best friends. I hated that.

Although I quickly tired of Ryan’s obsession with her weight, I still managed to feel sorry for her every once in a while. When you’re young, everything is so important and life altering.

This was an easy, fast read, but that came at the expense of plot and character development. Everybody learned their lesson by the end, but they seemed to do it by magic. One day, they just woke up and knew that weight wasn’t everything, that it’s not OK to judge a book by its cover, drugs are bad, etc. We didn’t get to watch as they came to these realizations themselves.

The sum up

A quick story with a lot of potential, but it lacks characterization and plot development.

About the author


Johanna Edwards is the nationally bestselling author of the novels The Next Big Thing, How to Be Cool, Your Big Break, Love Undercover, and Go Figure. Her books have also been published in Russia, Spain, Brazil and The Netherlands.

Johanna is a graduate of The University of Memphis (BA ’01) department of journalism.

Johanna, 34 years old, lives in Memphis where she is hard at work on her next novel.

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TMI by Patty Blount {Review}

TMI by Patty Blount {Review}Title: TMI
Author: Patty Blount
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire on August 6th 2013
Format: eARC, 336 pages
Source: Publisher
2 Stars
2 Stars

Summary

Best friends don’t lie.
Best friends don’t ditch you for a guy.
Best friends don’t post your deepest, darkest secrets online.

Bailey’s falling head-over-high-heels for Ryder West, a mysterious gamer she met online. A guy she’s never met in person. Her best friend, Meg, doesn’t trust smooth-talking Ryder. He’s just a picture-less profile.

When Bailey starts blowing Meg off to spend more virtual quality time with her new crush, Meg decides it’s time to prove Ryder’s a phony.

But one stupid little secret posted online turns into a friendship-destroying feud to answer the question:

Who is Ryder West?

My thoughts

Meg and Bailey have been besties forever. Through thick and thin, they’ve managed to stay close. Through Meg fending off the advances of the super nice boy next door, to Bailey’s abusive relationship, they know each other’s secrets and would do anything for each other. Even butt into each other’s lives if necessary.

This book was okay; it was a quick read and had some entertainment value, but I had a lot of issues with it.

The 2 main characters, Meg and Bailey, were supposed to be the best of friends, but they didn’t act like it. Throughout the book, they were friends, then they’d fight and be enemies, then they made up again. Friends, enemies, friends, enemies, over and over again. The flip flopping got old very fast. Also, they both seemed incredibly immature for 17 year-olds. I would have pegged them as maybe 13.

Meg was insanely driven to excel at everything. She had a focused plan and there was no room for anything else – no other friends, no boys, no subpar grades. She seemed to think that any deviation from her set plan would result in catastrophe. This was the reason she was avoiding any sort of relationship with the sweet boy next door who was very obviously crushing on her. Once the big reason behind her narrow-minded focus was revealed, I thought it was silly and not worth the build-up.

Bailey was one of those girls who changed herself to be a boy’s ideal girl. Unsurprisingly, the boys never made her very happy. Her latest was on the controlling side and downright mean. I’m not sure what she saw in him in the first place. I think she liked him because he was popular. I questioned whether Bailey was Meg’s friend at all when she decided she would make Meg realize her feelings for the boy next door by dating him herself and making Meg jealous. What kind of friend does that?

I figured out the mystery of “Who is Ryder West” within a chapter of his first appearance on Meg’s radar, so no surprises there. The plot was an interesting idea, but the execution left me wanting.

The sum up

A great idea bogged down by very unlikable characters.

About the author


Technical writer by day, fiction writer by night, Patty mines her day job for ideas to use in her novels. Her debut YA “Send” was born after a manager suggested she research social networks. Patty adores chocolate, her boys, and books, though not necessarily in that order.
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Working It Out by Rachael Anderson {Review}

Working It Out by Rachael Anderson {Review}Title: Working It Out
Author: Rachael Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing on July 15th 2013
Format: eARC, 262 pages
Source: I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
4 Stars
Summary

A chance encounter . . .
Grace Warren’s life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . .
Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace’s rehab clinic post surgery, he’s every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there’s something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he’s everything she’s sure she doesn’t want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she’s willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.

My thoughts

Grace is perfectly content being single. She spends her days working hard as a physical therapist and her nights trying to relieve her guilt over her brother’s paralysis. She has no room for anything else. When live-life-to-the-fullest Seth ends up as her patient, they clash immediately. But something about her intrigues him, and he’s not willing to take no for an answer.

I really liked this story. Just like her previous novel, The Reluctant Bachelorette, Working It Out, is a fun, clean read that’s pure entertainment. It tackles some heavy subjects, but it does so without going to a completely dark place.

All of the characters were likeable, except maybe Grace’s kind of creepy coworker. Grace was strong and intelligent. Seth was fun and kind. His “sister” was passionate and loving. Grace’s brother was depressed but he soon figured out the way back. They were all nice, normal people whom you would want to have in your life. They handled their problems realistically and without too much drama.

There were a few things that irked me, like Seth’s inability to consider Grace’s feelings when it came to his daredevil ways, or Lanna’s stubborn refusal of Seth’s help, even if it meant a lot of money for her charity. Just little things, and certainly not enough to make me dislike the book.

The plot is a fun one, it’s easy to see how these two might clash, and the fun comes when they’re stuck working together. The chemistry between them was quite fun. There was a touch of romance, but anything that could be considered “private” was behind closed doors and we didn’t read about it.

Rachael Anderson has a gift for capturing the atmosphere and attitudes of the story and the characters. Her novels are a joy to read and I consider them automatic buys.

The sum up

Fun and sweet, this is a classic contemporary chick-lit novel.

About the author


I love to read, write, and do most anything outdoors, with the exception of rock climbing and sky diving. (I have serious height phobias.) If there’s something I can do within five feet of solid ground, count me in!

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45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson {Review}

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson {Review}Title: 45 Pounds (More or Less)
Author: K.A. Barson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile on July 11th 2013
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Source: Book Divas
4 Stars
Summary

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

My thoughts

Ann has been overweight for a long time. She’s tried various diets and exercise programs, but none stick. When her aunt asks her to stand up at her wedding, Ann decides now is the time to get serious about losing weight. She sees an informercial for the Next Big Thing and decides that’s the key. As she’s trying to lose the weight, she’s also dealing with new friends, jealous friends, a new crush, her absentee dad, a new job and a very critical mother.

In the beginning, Ann was a bit of a non-character. Thanks to her mother’s constant nagging, and her own self-image, Ann was afraid to be herself, or to have much of a personality. She wanted to blend in and be unnoticed. As the story goes on and she learns to open up and make friends and talk to people, she really blossoms into a person whom I would totally be friends with.

One of her new friends, Raynee, was a great person for Ann to get to know and I liked her character. I also liked Ann’s crush, who was a cutie patootie and so nice (and forgiving!). Ann’s family was your average blended family and they were all believable, though the mom was a bit… off. Her issues weren’t the kind that would go on unnoticed in real life as long as they did in the story.

The plot was entirely (and unfortunately) believable. Who among us hasn’t, at one time or another, decided we needed to lose some weight? Thought that everything would get better if we could drop a few pounds? Imagined that this new diet is the one that will solve our weight problem once and for all? We know better, but Anne still believes, and it was painful to read as she learned the truth.

You know going in what the final lesson will be, but it was never got preachy. There was a lot of humor in the story; I loved Ann’s snarkiness, and her grandmother’s bad attitude. I laughed out loud several times. K.A. Barson not only writes the funny scenes, but she can bring the sad, too, without it being overwhelming. Ann’s inner dialogue was one I think everyone can relate to.

The sum up

I found this to be honest and fun; a perfect story for girls, both the young and the not-so young.

About the author


K.A. Barson graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She and her husband live in Jackson, Michigan, surrounded by kids, grandkids, unruly dogs, and too many pairs of shoes.

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Review: Friends and Lovers Trilogy by Bethany Lopez

Title: Friends and Lovers Trilogy – Make It Last | I Choose You | Trust In Me
Author: Bethany Lopez
Publisher: CreateSpace
Format: Kindle Edition, about 584 pages
Source: AToMR Tours
Overall Trilogy Rating:
3 owls

Make It Last

 
In a small town, it’s hard to recover from being dumped by your high school sweetheart. That’s just what Briana has to do after Colin leaves her to follow his dreams. She focuses her energy into her friendships and the pursuit of her own goal of becoming a chef. Just when she finally feels like she’s on the right path, he comes back to town.

Colin knew breaking up with Briana before leaving for college was the right thing to do. He was determined to leave small-town life behind forever, and that included his high school girlfriend. But when a sports injury puts him on the sidelines, he’s forced to return home. Seeing Briana again brings back a lot of memories, and Colin wonders if he made the right decision. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he wants her back, and this time, he wants to make it last.

I Choose You


Up until now, Nicole’s life has been mapped out for her. She’d go to college, marry Jake and become the upstanding minister’s wife. When she leaves that life to begin again in a small town in Texas, she finally has the freedom to live as she chooses. There, she meets Kent, a guy whose charm and passion make it hard to stick to her morals.

Dodging his father’s fists and protecting his twin sister made Kent into the man he is today. He learned by watching his mother stay by his father’s side that it’s better to keep relationships simple. Then he meets Nicole. Her sweet smile and genuine response to him land like punches to his resolve. After a lifetime of learning to protect his heart, can he finally let down his guard?

Trust In Me


Roni’s dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer were smashed under the brutal rage of her ex-husband’s fists. Getting divorced and starting over at the age of twenty-two was never her plan, but maybe in Texas, she’ll find her path. When the town’s local player, Rich, opens a Rec Center, she sees a way to rekindle her dancing dreams…and maybe have a little fun with her sexy new boss.

Rich never expected to fulfill his dreams in the town he planned to leave behind, but that’s just what he’s doing. His reputation as a noncommittal ladies’ man might make it challenging to earn respect in the business world, but he’s willing to prove that he’s serious. In fact, when it comes to pursuing Roni, he’s more than willing. But she’s taking a page out of his book, not wanting to risk another relationship. Can he convince her that his playboy days are over and that she can trust him with her heart?

My thoughts

Rather than talk about each novella in the trilogy, I’m going to do the whole shebang at once.

The first novella was probably my least favorite. It lacked any conflict at all. The couple broke up in the very beginning, there was some heartache, fast forward a few years, a few awkward scenes, then bam, they’re back together. That all happened in probably the first third of the story, the rest of it was spent following them around as they flirted, talked and made out. That was it. That made for a bit of a boring story, with no action, tension or excitement. The rest of the novellas, though, had more content to keep me interested.

I liked the variety of characters. There were rich kids and poor kids, abused kids and privileged kids, nice kids and asshats. You knew from the beginning of each story how it would all end for everyone, no real surprises there. Some of the situations they found themselves in, however, were unbelievable: Briana forgave Colin awfully fast; for someone so virginal, Nicole got naughty pretty quickly; Rich’s Rec Center was just too perfect a solution…

There were some deep situations the characters got into that were handled nicely, although they were resolved a little too quickly and cleanly, in my opinion. All of the novellas were zippy and moved along at a fast pace. And I liked the 3 brief bonus chapters at the end of the trilogy that acted as epilogues for each novella. I enjoyed seeing the couples a bit later in their lives.

Overall, the trilogy was entertaining and fun, with a touch of substance. A perfect choice for a beachy summer day.

The sum up

Quick, flirty and fun.

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