Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead {Review}

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead {Review}Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Publisher: Razorbill on August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback, 332 pages
Source: Gift
4 Stars
The sum up

Snarky, sexy and fun. A promising start to the series.
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Knowing Jack by Rachel Curtis {Review + Giveaway}

Knowing Jack by Rachel Curtis {Review + Giveaway}

Knowing Jack by Rachel Curtis {Review + Giveaway}Title: Knowing Jack
Author: Rachel Curtis
Publisher: Self Published on January 17th 2014
Format: eBook, 165 pages
Source: AToMR Tours
3 Stars

The sum up

Despite my issue with the book, I found this a fun and sexy way to pass the time.

Summary

I am not a slut, although I’ve been called one often enough. Yeah, I spent three months screwing one of my college professors, but I was crazy about the guy. Then he broke up with me.

I am not a bitch, although people like to say I am. I kept our relationship secret. I’m not responsible for telling the university administrators about it, but a lot of students still blame me for getting their favorite professor fired.

I am not a drama queen, although everyone thinks I am now. When I got a few nasty messages, I just deleted them. When I got the threat, I assumed it was someone being stupid. I still think that’s all it was. My parents worry, though, so they hired me a bodyguard. Now Jack follows me around, intimidating everyone who approaches me and looking obnoxiously hot.

This is what I am. I’m Chloe. I’m a twenty-year-old art history major. Kind of shy, although I pretend not to be. Stubborn enough to stay here for my senior year, even though everyone hates me.

And I’m stuck with Jack.

He calls me “Princess,” but I’m not a princess either.

My thoughts

Chloe made a decision she’s still paying for. She doesn’t regret that decision (after all, they were both adults and technically, he wasn’t even her teacher at the time they began seeing each other), but she’s hating the backlash. She’s trying to stay strong and not let it get her down, but really, how much negativity can one person take?

Chloe was an interesting character for me. She was strong, in standing up to the bullies and staying at the school even though everyone hated her, but she was also basically a weakling when it came to Jack. She was on a break from men, but the second she had the chance, she was ready to chuck it all just to have sex with him. Jack was your typical strong and silent type. You knew he had a dark secret he was hiding, but it only made him more attractive.

The point of view switched every once in a while, but it never stayed with Jack very long, maybe a page or two. Just long enough for us to know how much he loved Chloe and wanted her hot bod, but also that he couldn’t be with her because it would disappoint his dad.

Chloe was a bit frustrating in that she wasn’t able to stand up for herself in a lot of ways until Jack and his magic penis somehow taught her to let go and own it. In fact, it was amazing the things his penis could do. It made her fall in love with him (and vice versa), it made her let go of her self-righteous determination to prove something and made him stop trying to please his dad in order to live his own life. It was miraculous, that penis.

So, as you may have noticed, I had a slight problem with the believability in this novel. BUT, other than that, I really enjoyed it. If you can set aside your disbelief in the magic of the sex, it’s kind of a fun story. It’s fast-paced, a little bit mysterious and a whole lot sexy.

About the author

Rachel is a writer, a teacher, a romance reader, and a dog-mom. She loves animals and art and hot men with soft hearts under a tough exterior. She tries to write love stories that feel real, even in unlikely circumstances.

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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}

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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Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn {Review}

Title: Another Little Piece
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: HarperTeen on June 11th, 2013
Format: eARC, 419 pages
Source: Publisher


Summary

The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn’s haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

My thoughts

Annaliese was recently found after having disappeared over a year ago. She can’t remember anything from her past, including the year she was gone. She doesn’t recognize anyone from school, her house, or even her parents. And though everyone insists she’s Anneliese, she’s positive she isn’t. When she starts remembering things that have happened to other girls, she knows something’s wrong. And she doesn’t know why, but she can feel a deadline approaching fast. Now she needs to find out what happens when it arrives.

I want to be one of those people who appreciates this novel for its quirkiness and unexpected twists and turns, for it’s simple prose and elegant story telling, but I am not going to be one of them. It is quirky and has a ton of twists and turns, and it does have simple and elegant prose, but in the end, all I can think is: This story is flipping weird.

As the reader, we knew nothing of Anneliese other than what she was told. We experienced the memories and confusion just as she did, which allowed us to really appreciate how scary and disorienting it was to not know anything about yourself. She seemed very detached, which was totally understandable, but it also made it hard to like her. I felt so sorry for her parents, who were torn between wanting to never let her out of their sight and allowing her to go at her own pace.

The boy who seemed to know more about Annaliese than she did was creepy, as hem was supposed to be. And the boy who was kind-of-dating Annaliese was someone I just felt sorry for, more and more as the story progressed. And that’s all I can tell you about the characters without spoiling anything.

But really, even if I wanted to spoil you, I don’t think I could. Because, to be entirely honest, I’m not really sure what the hell was going on about 80% of the time. There were a ton of flashbacks and none of them had any context or explanation. The book isn’t described as science fiction, but that’s a huge element in it, but even that isn’t described completely. Seriously, this was me during most of the book:

I was left with an unclear story and too many questions, and I don’t enjoy that in a book.

The sum up

While I thought Another Little Piece was okay, it just wasn’t my thing. I’m not sure I would read anything else from this author.

About the author

Kate Karyus QuinnKate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character. Another Little Piece is her first novel.

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The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay {Review + Giveaway}

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay {Review + Giveaway}Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books on June 4th, 2013
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Source: Purchased
5 Stars
Summary

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

My thoughts

You guys. You guys. This book. I just… I don’t think I have the words to express how much I loved it. Nothing I can say could possibly convey the amazingness that is this book. And the feels. My god, the feels!

Nastya is the new girl at school, and everyone wants to know all about her. But nobody knows a thing because not only does she dress like a prostitute, she doesn’t speak. Ever. What they don’t know is that something traumatic happened to her a few years ago, and her silence and provocative dress are her way of dealing with things and taking control of her life. On the other hand, everyone knows everything about Josh. Everyone in his family has died, one by one, until he’s all alone. Between those who are afraid his “bad luck” will be contagious, and those who just don’t know what to say to him, he has no friends, except for Drew, the slutty but honest guy he’s known forever.

From the very first chapter, I was completely invested in what was going on in these characters’ lives.

The point of view switched between Nastya and Josh, which I loved. We learned what happened to Nastya before Josh did, and I enjoyed seeing things from his point of view, as he struggled to understand what made her tick. I also liked seeing her point of view, as she let herself relax around him, and learned to face her past.

I really liked Drew, Josh’s friend, who also became Nastya’s friend. He was a manwhore, but he never lied about it to the ladies. He was always up front about his interests, and of course, there was more to him than met the eye.

The way the characters spoke to each other was so honest, nothing flowery or unreal. They always said what was on their mind, even if it didn’t make sense, or paint themselves in the most flattering light. But they were honest, and they respected each other for it. Drew was definitely the comic relief; he had a great sense of humor and knew how to make the other two take a break from their inner turmoil.

Katja Millay has a gift for writing honest and real emotions, and for making me care about the characters. From the very first chapter, I was completely invested in what was going on in their lives. And I wanted them to work out, I wanted them to heal and be there for each other. I wanted them to have a happily ever after. It mattered to me what happened to them.

Not since reading Where the Red Fern Grows as a child have I cried so much for characters in a book. I’m not talking getting a little teary-eyed, either. I’m talking full on ugly sobbing.

It’s a long one, at over 400 pages, but believe me, you won’t notice. In fact, as I neared the end, I started to slow down my reading because I just didn’t want the story to end. I am absolutely blown away that this is Katja’s debut novel, I never would have guessed that. She was born to write and I will, without doubt, read anything else she puts out.

The sum up

Heart-wrenchingly sad, but also hopeful and funny. It broke my heart, stomped on the pieces, then put it all back together again. Truly a book that everyone must read.

About the author

Katja Millay grew up in Florida and graduated with a degree in film & television production from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She has worked as a television producer and a film studies and screenwriting teacher. The Sea of Tranquility is her first book.

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Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton {Review}

Title: Some Quiet Place
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Series: Some Quiet Place #1
Publisher: Flux on July 8th 2013
Format: eARC, 350 pages
Source: Publisher
4 Stars
Summary

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

My thoughts

For as long as Elizabeth can remember, she’s not been able to feel emotions. She doesn’t get shy, embarrassed, happy or sad. She tries hard to act normal, because her home is the only place she knows and she doesn’t want to start over somewhere else. Not only can her classmates tell she’s different, but even her parents are freaked out by her. Her mother barely looks at her, and her father avoids her. Unless he’s drunk. All she wants to do is finish school and not cause any waves.

This was a very unique story, and had a lot of elements I’ve never seen before. It was pretty long, and I picked out several parts that could have been cut without effecting the story. It dragged a bit, especially in the middle. But the final third picked up and I really liked the snappy pace through the end.

It was hard to like Elizabeth as a character since she didn’t have a personality. She had opinions and actions, but no cares or desires. It was easy to feel sorry for her, though. Not only did she want to be normal, but her home situation was a mess. It would have been nice if she’d had a friend to talk to, to tell what was going on at home. But she didn’t have anyone constant in her life except Fear, whom I loved. At first, I thought he was only interested in Elizabeth because she was an enigma – she never felt afraid, even when he brought out the big guns. But he started to show some actual depth and I saw a bit of warmth and caring peeking though.

There was a lot of mystery in the story. Not only the whole “Why can’t Elizabeth feel anything,” but also how did she end up that way? Was it the accident? Why does her mother avoid her? Has her father always treated her so badly? Why doesn’t anyone else in the family have the same problem? Why is Fear so obsessed with finding out why she isn’t affected by the Emotions? Who are the people in her paintings?

The romance was subtle, but it was definitely there. You might even say the book had a touch of swoon. And those who dislike love triangles can rejoice, as there wasn’t one here, though it started off looking like there might be.

Kelsey Sutton has a gift, and I was surprised to learn this was her debut novel. She writes like someone with many books under her belt. She creates a world just like ours, with a slight difference (the visible Emotions), and manages to make it real. The writing is evocative and dynamic.

Originally published as a standalone, a sequel has been announced, but I’m not sure if that’s the right way to go. I really enjoyed this book, and you might think that means I’d automatically welcome another in the series, but you’d be wrong. I’ll probably read it, but unless it’s fantastic, I’ll most likely say it would have worked better as a standalone novel as opposed to a series.

The sum up

Different and unique, I enjoyed this romantic take on emotions. 

About the author


Kelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her college classes and her writing, though she can also sometimes be found pounding out horrible renditions of Beethoven on the piano and trying bizarre drinks at her local coffee shop. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark.

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Review: Slated by Teri Terry

Title: Slated
Author: Teri Terry
Publisher: January 24th 2013 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Book Divas
Series: Slated | Fractured
5 owl rating

Summary

Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost forever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

My thoughts

In the U.K. in the near future, teens who have been convicted of crimes can be slated, or have their brains wiped. They forget everything about their past: who they were, their personalities, their families, everything. They literally become blank slates. They are then placed with new families who raise them as their own. The slated are like toddlers, just learning about the world and their place in it. To help with the transition, those who have been slated wear bracelets that monitor their brain activity. If they get too sad, angry or aggressive, their bracelets alert the wearer so the offending behavior can be fixed.

This book turned out so differently than I was expecting from the start. At first, the writing bothered me a bit; there was a serious lack of contractions. It was weird, a conversation would be going along fine, then someone would say something like “It is obvious” or “It is fine.” It was kind of jarring and I just knew it would ruin the story for me. But then I really got into it and soon I didn’t even see those little annoyances anymore. Let me assure you, this is a fantastic book.

When I started the book, I wondered why Kyla was so compliant about the slating situation. Where were her parents and why didn’t she wonder the same thing? How could she just go to a new family and act like it was no big deal? What happened if she didn’t fit in? Though these questions were answered eventually, they were slow in coming. There was no big info-dump in the beginning, I just had to read along and wait for the information to be revealed.

I really enjoyed all the characters. It’s hard for me to describe them, though, without revealing some secrets. One of the best things about the book is how I never knew who was trustworthy and who wasn’t. Someone who was a stereotypical bad guy could be secretly good and someone who appeared so good you knew they must be evil, may actually be good. Truly, I never knew what to think about them, and I absolutely loved that.

There wasn’t a lot of action, as far as fight scenes or chases, but there were a ton of tense moments, and Teri Terry really knows how to write them. They were subtle and gripping and I literally held my breath many times throughout the story. Sometimes it was as simple as 2 people having a conversation, but it was written in such a way that you could literally feel the uneasiness between them, even if one of them didn’t.

Finally, the ending frustrated me because it didn’t feel like an ending. It wasn’t that it was a cliffhanger, it just… ended. Almost like Teri Terry had to edit the book down in size, so she just opened a page, pointed and said “Here. Here’s where it will end.” Of course, that just makes me anxious for the next one, so maybe she did it on purpose!

The sum up

I loved every bit of it and can’t wait for the next one.

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This book review originally appeared on BookDivas.com