Category Archives: first in a series

Review: Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon #1) by Anna Banks

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: May 22, 2012
Source: Library
Series: Of Poseidon #1

I hadn’t really heard much about this book before I read it, nor had I sought out any reviews. I don’t think I’d even read the flap until I was a few chapters in, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this book. I was pleasantly surprised, and I definitely enjoyed Of Poseidon.
I love mermaid stories, and I absolutely love it when I find one that does things a bit different than what you’re expecting. These mermaids can change into human form on their own, though they aren’t supposed to since contact with humans is forbidden. They can all sense each other to some degree, though there are a select few that can sense better than others. They’re divided into two kingdoms, one descended from Poseidon, and one from Triton. We all know who Poseidon is, but my knowledge of Triton is confined to Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I’ll be googling him here pretty soon just so I can a somewhat better grasp on the mythology of this book.
I loved all the characters in Of Poseidon, even Galen’s snarky sister Rayna. It takes a little while to warm up to Rayna though, but once you do you’ll love her. Toraf, Galen’s best friend and Rayna’s boyfriend/mate, was a fun character to follow. Everyone felt distinctly different from everyone else, their own personalities clearly developed. I felt like I was with these people, not just reading about them. I wasn’t really impressed by Galen’s older brother Grom though. I felt like he should’ve sided with Galen in the end because of them being family, but there were things unsaid on Galen’s side that did make it hard. I was hoping for more information on the Grom and Nalia storyline, but it wasn’t a focus in Of Poseidon. Their story is briefly covered in the short story prequel Legacy Lost.
I got this book from the library, but I will definitely be acquiring my own copy so that I can reread this while waiting for the next book. And let me warn you guys, there’s something big revealed at the end, and it’s a huge cliffhanger. When I got to that last chapter and I realized what was happening I was like “OH MY GOD YOU CANNOT END THIS BOOK HERE. NO NO NO NO NO!” Needless to say this a series I’ll be continuing. If you love mermaid stories, read it. Even if you don’t, give it a try. It’s definitely one of the best I’ve read.

Review: Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1) by Kalayna Price

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
Publisher: RoC
Release date: October 5, 2010
Source: Purchased
Series: Alex Craft #1
Rating: Four stars!

I haven’t been reading books like this since I started blogging, mainly because they take me a little more time to finish than young adult books do. But I’ve decided I’m going to go back to reading these as well, because I’ve always enjoyed them, and Grave Witch was a breath of fresh air for me. I loved this book.

I was reading vampire books right before the publishing industry exploded with them. Once the shelves were over saturated with vampire novels, I got burnt out on the entire adult paranormal spectrum for a few years. Grave Witch was my reintroduction to Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance books, and I must say I’m now itching for more. Alex is a kick ass main character, strong and yet vulnerable. She’s quirky too, with her cute little dog, and a great sense of humor. Loyal as hell to those close to her.

The story itself is not groundbreaking at all, but each author brings their own ideas to the table and present it slightly different. I enjoyed the story very much despite it not being a fresh idea, because of how Kalayna Price writes it and makes it her own. And it never hurts when there’s not one sexy guy, but two involved. Though I know who I’m leaning towards. Though I don’t see how that relationship can work, but this fiction so that’s all right. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Alex is taken in the next book, especially after one of the guys drops the L word at a crucial time.

I’m definitely looking forward to digging into the next book. I recommend this to anyone who just wants something fun to read.

Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: June 5, 2012
Source: Library
Series: Monument 14#1

So I have kind of a funny story that goes along with this book. I checked it out from the library on July 20, day 1 of my ten day vacation from work. It’s a hot and humid day, and because of the humidity I knew it was likely that we’d have some kind of storm. Just as I was walking into Walmart with my mom for lunch at the Subway inside there was already rain coming down fairly hard outside. I brought in Monument 14 to read while we ate. Now, Monument 14 gets started with the end of the world things right away with a huge hailstorm at the very beginning. Then the kids get trapped in this supermart store, and I’m currently eating in a supermart store with my own storm going on outside. Plus, the lights in Walmart were flickering. CREEPY. Needless to say, I was kind of paranoid for an hour or two after that.
Anyways, that attests to Emmy Laybourne’s writing, because she was very good at describing stuff in such a way that my own surroundings helped add to the atmosphere of the book. It’s not very often I get a reading experience like this one, and while it was creepy in the extreme it was also fun. I then proceeded to ignore the book for a week or so though, until I no longer had this lingering sense of doom hanging over me. Overall I really enjoyed this book. The story is definitely intriguing and I’m amazed at the strength these kids had to keep going, even when everything in their life has completely turned around.
I only had two issues with this book. It’s told from Dean’s point of view, from his journal I would assume given the way it’s written. All of the other characters had distinct personalities, but Dean kind of felt bland. Like there wasn’t really that much to him, just no personality really. The other issue was that I would have liked a little bit more information on what was going on in the rest of the country, in addition to their day to day lives surviving in a Greenway. We got a little bit of info at the beginning, but then didn’t get anything else until the end of the book.
I would definitely recommend this for those who love disaster/post apocalyptic stories. While the pacing can drag at times, this definitely paints a grim picture of what could be a possibility in our future. Just make sure to read it when you have good weather!

Review: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Release date: June 12, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Flirting in Italian #1

I could not put this book down. I was in love with Flirting in Italian.Years ago I took a People to People student ambassador trip to three European countries, and Italy was one of them. This book makes me want to go back so much.
Lauren Henderson does a great job of writing young sexy Italian men. I couldn’t get enough of Luca. Especially the interactions between Luca and Violet. There was insta-attraction, which I think is better than insta-love. And it felt realistic since every time Violet is talking to herself in her mind about Luca, it was the exact same way I’ve done with boys I was into in the past. If for nothing else, read this book because of Luca. He’s too sexy a character to pass up.
The other characters in this book were done well too. I liked how it seemed the four girls might not get along at first, and were then given a common enemy. It would’ve been nice to explore why Elisa is the way she is though, and maybe see all of them start to get along, but that could happen in the next book. I was surprised at what was revealed about Catia, Elisa’s mom. Scenes with Leonardo and Andrea were few, but they were fun ones to read and I hope to see more of those two.
The story was great. Except for a few too many inner dialogues for Violet, the story moves along nicely and is well written. The only thing I was disappointed about was not learning more about Violet and that painting of the girl she looks like. But from the way the book ends it looks like that will explored in the next one, so it wasn’t a huge issue. Especially since there were plenty of sexy Italian boys.
Flirting in Italian is a fantastic summer read and will definitely make you want to go to Italy for your own adventure. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book coming out in 2013.

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: April 3, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: His Fair Assassin #1

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I have never had a 500+ page book read so fast. This book was a masterpiece. T he only thing I didn’t like about it was that we didn’t get to see Sybella and Annith hardly at all, but I think that’s because each of them will have their own book in the series. Robin LeFevers’ Grave Mercy is for young adults what Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series is for adults. Deeply cunning, pieced together masterfully. I could not put this book down.

The people in this book were astounding. Gavriel Duval is one of the most yummy male characters in books today. I loved how there was instant animosity between him and Ismae, and then they grew slowly to have feelings for each other. Ismae was awesome as well. Strong and definitely able to think for herself, I love what she chooses it in the end. I would have loved to have seen more of Gavriel’s men, de Lornay and Beast because they made every part they were in fun to read. I love when supporting characters are just as developed as main characters and they definitely added to the enjoyment of this book.

The first chapter or two probably my least favorite, but necessary in setting up this story. After that though once this beast of a book gets moving, it doesn’t stop. Despite how big it is, it never once slowed or got boring. In fact I wouldn’t have minded it being just a tad bit bigger if we could have had more romantic scenes between Ismae and Gavriel. The story itself is just mindblowingly good. It always amazes me when I read stories with such deep laid conspiracies, and I’m never able to figure them out until thing are revealed. I like when I can’t figure it out, though some people might be able to predict what will happen.

Grave Mercy is pretty much perfect, for me. This is definitely taking the spot for favorite read of 2012 so far. If you like historical fiction in general, but loved the original Kushiel trilogy by Jacqueline Carey, Grave Mercy is definitely for you.

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co
Release date: April 3, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Jasper Dent #1

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Holy freaking cow, I can honestly say I have never read a book like this. Adult thrillers have never really interested me, I got my fill of those watching shows like NCIS or Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. And I hadn’t originally intended on reading this book. But I kept seeing it around the blogosphere and thought why not.

This is the creepiest book I’ve ever read. And the creepiness starts even before you start reading, because under the dust jacket is a figure outlined in blood splatter. The people in this book were awesome. And like Jazz’s mantra, people matter people are real, they were indeed real. My favorite had to be Howie, Jazz’s best friend. He gets dragged along on all the crazy things Jazz needs to do to find this serial killer, and never really complains about it, or even when stuff starts to really hit the fan, doesn’t run away from it. And he brings some humor to the story, which is much needed when reading about something so serious. Connie, the girlfriend, was awesome too, if maybe a tad bit unrealistic. I don’t know how many girls would really be able to fall in love with someone who was raised by a serial killer. But she also sticks by Jazz and doesn’t run, and I commend her for that.

What I love most about this book though was trying to get into the mind of a serial killer, try to know what they think they’re doing and why they’re doing it. That’s always been fascinating to me, because I myself cannot even begin to comprehend taking someone’s life, and when I think about it it’s incredibly horrifying. But obviously people who do these things think differently and I’ve always wanted to know how they can have so little respect for life. If I thought I was good enough I’d even to join the FBI to help find people like this try to get into their minds. If not for the fact that I was completely surprised by who the serial killer turns out to be, I’d probably be doing that job.

I don’t give ratings on the blog, but I do on sites like Goodreads and Shelfari to help remind me in the future how much I like these books, since things fade over time. I gave this book 5 stars, but hesitantly only because of how disturbing the subject matter is. But the author did an awesome with the writing and bringing his characters to life. I would love to see a sequel for this, since the ending was left open for one. I definitely want to know what happens to Jazz after the events of I Kill Hunters.

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: February 28, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Partials #1

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.
I almost gave up on Partials. I started it in early March, and it just wasn’t grabbing me, even 150 pages in. Too much worldbuilding and setup and not enough story movement. So I put it down for nearly a month. Then I picked it back up again, because I don’t like to not finish a book if I can help it. I know a lot of people have a 50 page rule, or even up to 100 page rule, but I don’t. I have more of a time rule. If it takes me too long to get even halfway through, like the year it took me to get have way through the first Shannara book, then I give up. Partials is divided into three parts, and the first part is the slowest and hardest part to read. That may be off-putting to some of you, but it is worth it to get through that first part. I’m very glad I did.
The second two parts have tons of action and story movement. I liked most of the characters well enough, though they didn’t really feel their ages to me. Kira was supposed to be 16, but she felt older than that. But that could also work since in a world like theirs, especially with something they have called The Hope Act, you would have to grow up hard and fast. I didn’t like Marcus, who was Kira’s love interest. First we don’t really see him all that much, and second even when we did see him I have to admit he kind of acted oppressive. Definitely not attractive. I liked the Partial Samm even more, and definitely want to see the interaction between him and Kira in the second book. For the most part though, the story is definitely lacking in the romance department.
Partials was one of my most looked forward to books in 2012 so far, and I have to say it didn’t quite meet up with my expectations, but in the end it didn’t fall too short either. I will definitely be reading the sequel, especially since more questions were asked than answered, and I have to know what happens with all the different things going on.

Review: Belles by Jen Calonita

Belles by Jen Calonita
Publisher: Poppy
Release date: April 10, 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Belles #1

Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.
Warning: If you have the finished copy of this, DO NOT LOOK IN THE BACK UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED WITH BELLES! There is a summary for the second book that could totally spoil you. I know because it spoiled me somewhat. Though that did only make me want to read it even more to see how stuff was revealed.
Anyways, THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. As I know I’ve mentioned I do most of my reading at work on breaks, but this one I dug into and spent one evening doing nothing but reading Belles because it was that good. I love the southern atmosphere it conveyed. And the people. I don’t read contemporary too often, maybe once every other month on average. But these characters felt so real. And I felt like I was actually there while reading.
Izzie is amazing. She grew up faster than she should have had to to take care of her grandmother. She’s strong. Mira pissed me off most of the time, just because she’s so selfish. She does redeem herself a little bit at the end, just a little bit. I’ll be interested in seeing her character grow more in the second book after learning something shocking. My favorite character though was Mira’s brother Hayden. He’s just got everything together, and was one of the most welcoming when Izzie joined the Monroe family.
There was romance for both Izzie and Mira, and it was sweet. But it didn’t overshadow the overall story, which was nice. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves contemporary young adult books, especially if you love southern settings! I’m seriously stoked for Winter White, which will actually get into the cotillion season, and I love those kinds of things.

Review: The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad

Book title and author name
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: April 3, 2012
Source: Finished copy for review from publisher
Series: The Fame Game #1

In Hollywood, fame can be found on every corner and behind any door. You just have to know where to look for it. Nineteen-year-old Madison Parker made a name for herself as best frenemy of nice-girl-next-door Jane Roberts on the hot reality show L.A. Candy. Now Madison’s ready for her turn in the spotlight and she’ll stop at nothing to get it. Sure, she’s the star of a new show, but with backstabbing friends and suspicious family members trying to bring her down, Madison has her work cut out for her. Plus, there’s a new nice girl in “reality” town—aspiring actress Carmen Price, the daughter of Hollywood royalty—and she’s a lot more experienced at playing the fame game… When the camera’s start rolling, whose star will shine brighter?

Filled with characters both familiar and new, Lauren Conrad’s series about the highs and lows of being famous delivers Hollywood gossip and drama at every turn.

I read L.A. Candy a few years ago, when I had an idea of who Lauren Conrad was. I remember enjoying it, but for some reason or other never got around to reading the two sequels that followed. Then I was sent an arc of The Fame Game, the spin off series. It sat on my shelf for the last month though, until another copy arrived in the mail. I’d been in a bit of a reading slump, so I thought why not try this book.
Now first of all, let me just say that as much as I love reading, I don’t actually read at home all that often anymore. I mostly read on my breaks and lunch at work now. But I enjoyed this book so much that I stayed up late a few nights ago to finish it. There’s so much drama and I have to admit I am a drama whore. I can’t get enough of it. My favorite characters were Kate & Carmen. Kate is this “nobody” from the midwest who moves to L.A. to try and make it as a musician. Carmen was born from Hollywood royalty but is still human. Gaby wasn’t given much development since she’s just supposed to be the stupid/ditzy sidekick. I actually hope to see more development for her in the next book. Madison is that character you love to hate and hate to love. But there is a huge twist for her that will you shocked.
Overall, I’m definitely looking forward to the next in this new series by Lauren Conrad. I can’t wait to see what happens to The Fame Game after the shocking ending.

Early Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass (ARC)

The Selection by Kiera Cass
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: April 24, 2012
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Series: The Selection #1
Purchase: Book Depository

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

First of all what drew me to this book is pretty much the same as what has drawn everyone initially. That cover, oh my. That is one of the most eye-catching covers I have ever seen. If I had no idea about this book before being published and only found it afterwards sitting on a bookshelf in the bookstore, I’d probably buy it without even looking at the inside flap. That’s how stunning the cover is. We all know that saying don’t judge a book by its cover, but come on. We all do it. And seriously, the cover is the first thing we see about a book, that first initial draw. It helps when it looks this good.

 America was an interesting character. She was strong and definitely opinionated when it came to Prince Maxon and their two different worlds. I enjoyed the other girls in The Selection as well, for the most part. Some seemed really sweet, though most were just barely mentioned in passing, and usually only when they were sent home. I had a problem with that at first, but after giving it thought I decided it works that way, since I don’t want a big chunk of the book to be information on all 35 girls. That would’ve definitely taken away from the story. I would have liked to have seen more of Maxon’s mother and father, especially the mother since she was also chosen from The Selection. I’m guessing based off something said in the book though that we’ll be seeing more of her in the sequel. I have to say that Kiera Cass made it really easy to choose which side of this love triangle I’m on. I get the reasons behind the way one of the guys acted, but once I saw how the other one was, I knew who I was rooting for.

The story itself was very enjoyable. I ate this book up. I would have liked more worldbuilding though. More information about the world in general, but also more about Illea specifically. Like how the castes came about. How was it decided who would be in which caste? And how did Maxon’s family end up ruling? Something was mentioned about that, but didn’t go in depth at all.

The Selection doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, but it ends in such a way that is frustrating but at the same time makes you really wish you had the sequel in your hands so you could continue right away. I will definitely be reading the next in this trilogy when it becomes available, and buying The Selection as soon as it is released for my personal library.