Review: The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark #2) by Shana Abe

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 320
ISBN:
Publisher:
Genre: fantasy, historical fiction
Source: Library book

The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark, #2)A rich portrait of post-Victorian England, The Deepest Night seamlessly blends thrilling romance with riveting history and adventure—perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Lauren Kate.

It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.

As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.

Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.

With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

Beautifully written, deeply romantic, and filled with daring adventure and magic, The Deepest Night is a mesmerizing novel of the enduring pull of destiny, and the eternal strength of love. 


This. series.  

I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of dragons (or drakon as they are called in this series). Mermaids? Yes. Dragons? Not so much. In fact, I'm pretty sure The Sweetest Dark was the first book I have read featuring a dragon, aside from Talking to Dragons that I read in 6th grade (a million years ago). Add that to a setting that I adore, and you have my instant fandom.

I love this series.

Why? That's a more complicated answer than I probably have time for, but in it's simplest terms it's because of the beautiful, lyrical writing. There is a certain flow in the prose that borders between a fantasy novel and some eloquent, antiqued story. I love Victorian literature, and The Sweetest Dark and The Deepest Night blend those lines perfectly. However, I did not find The Deepest Night to have the same poetic feel as the first book. At times it was there, but it wasn't as abundant as the first time around.

I also found that some parts of the plot lingered too long this time around. It seemed like more of the story was focused on Ahmed than Lora. Now, don't get me wrong. I do enjoy Ahmed, but it made things a bit slow to tell both those stories at the same time.

Overall, I think The Deepest Night suffered from middle child syndrome. It wasn't as trail blazing as the first book and is lacking the finality that the next book will have. It's lost somewhere in the middle. Necessary to move the plot along, but lacking the pizazz in the elements of The Sweetest Dark that took my breath away. But I do still recommend this series. I read The Deepest Night in one sitting; I didn't want to put it down.

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Giveaway Time!



 
I have good and bad news.

The good news is I have an awesome signed book for a giveaway.

The bad news is that I had this book for a year and forgot about it. See, I've been doing some serious cleaning around here this summer. In the process, I've uncovered all kinds of things. Most of what I found is not useful, but I uncovered an entire box of books I grabbed from IRA in 2013-- for the purpose of a giveaway-- but forgot about it. They got lost in the piles of books I currently have.

It's sad for me to admit that. But at least I found it. Better late than never, right?

So here is what's up for grabs: 

* a signed ARC of Scorched

Not familiar with the book? Here's a bit about it:

Scorched (Scorched, #1)Trinity
Don’t leave me here... It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it...

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed. 



This contest is open to anyone with a US mailing address. Just enter the Rafflecopter below. 

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Review: If I Should Die (Amy Plum)

The Deets: 
Audience: YA
Pages: 405
Publisher: May 7th 2013 by HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062004031
Genre: paranormal, paranormal romance, myth
Source: Library book

If I Should Die (Revenants, #3)I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future together was shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend, and I lost him. Now our enemy is determined to rule over France’s immortals, and willing to wage a war to get what they want.

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying—to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others—so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me? 




 I have put off reading this book because I did not want it to end. I am a bit saddened that there is not more Vincent and Jules, but what a great way to end this series!

Lots of things are going on in If I Should Die. There is A LOT of back story for revenants and numa. We also meet a few other characters (or at least I think they are new because I forgot them in the other books!). At any rate, they have a more prominent role in this book than they did before.

But what really got me this time around was Kate and her sister, Georgia. They have both undergone some serious character growth. In the other books, Kate comes across as whiny and weak. Not this time! She is a total kick butt heroine now. Her destiny is a bit obvious, but that's ok. I enjoyed it. Then there is Georgia. The self-centered hussy is gone. She's reserved and concerned about people other than herself. She was a great supporting character for Kate.

What did bother me, however, is the lack of Jules. I love Vincent and Ambrose, don't get me wrong. But there has always been something about Jules. He's so broken and distraught about his feelings for Kate. I was really hoping he could find his happy ending, but instead he vanished. Poof. I was pretty upset by that. I think Jules needs his own series or at least a companion novel.

If you have read the other novels, you will more of the things you have come to expect from Amy Plum. The descriptions are remarkable. You will feel as if you are walking the streets of Paris along with Kate and her band of revenants. Also, the way she can pen emotions will make your heart race and give you goosebumps. It's pretty fantastic. If you are like me and have been putting off this series, go ahead and pick up If I Should Die. It won't disappoint you. And if you have not read this series, what are you waiting for?



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Review: Burning Blue (Paul Griffin)

The Deets:
Audience: YA, older MG
Pages: 288
Publisher: October 25th 2012 by Dial (first published October 24th 2012)
ISBN: 9780803738157
Genre: mystery
Source: Library book


Burning BlueHow far would you go for love, beauty, and jealousy?

When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that--he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in--and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.

Award-winning author Paul Griffin has written a high-stakes, soulful mystery about the meaning--and dangers--of love and beauty.


I absolutely loved Paul Griffin's Stay with Me, so when I saw Burning Blue on the Teen Read's 2014 list, I had to give it a try. I had super-high expectations for this book based on what I've read before, and I was not disappointed.

Burning Blue is a cross between a contemporary and a mystery. It's not one or the other, but something perfectly blended. The narrator is a teenage boy with his own issues to hide from, which brings a perfect sub plot to the story. On one side you have the mystery behind Nicole's attack, and Jay's back story. But above all that, you have a story about overcoming misunderstandings and first impressions. (and much more)

Jay's voice is perfect. He's not your stereotypical jock. He's not a super-nerd. He's not overly popular, or an outcast. He floats between them all, hoping to be invisible. I think many readers will be able to relate to him on that level, even if his tech savvy habits are a bit hard to follow at times. 

As with other books by Paul Griffin, always expect a twist and a finely executed ending; Burning Blue did not disappoint. The big reveal will blow you away (even if you figure it out about the same time as Jay does). It will make you think, that's for sure.




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Review: Dream Boy ( Madelyn Rosenberg)

The Deets: 
Audience: YA older MG
Pages: 336
Publisher: July 1st 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781402295836
Genre: mystery, paranormal
Source: eARC from Netgalley


Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares. 




This. Book. 

I really don't know how/why it's getting 4 star reviews on Goodreads. The idea is beyond my understanding. I really felt like I was being generous with 3 stars at times. 

Let me start by saying that the flow of the plot held me back from loving this book. I was around 60% complete before something "good" started to happen. Something that made me go "oh, hey now" instead of mindlessly reading. Needless to say, it was super slow at times.

With that being said, I can mention the characters. Annabelle just annoyed me for some reason. I cannot exactly put my finger on it, but she did not impress me at all. In fact, she was a bit annoying. The idea behind Dream Boy is highly original, so I can say it's fresh. But I just wasn't buying the whole "let me love the boy from my (literal) dreams from day one" thing.  Maybe I'm crazy, but if lover boy showed up to my school from my dreams, my first reaction would be WTFizzle just happened. It would NOT be hey boy, remember that dreamy kiss? Let's do it again. So Annabelle gets a big wah wah from me, and Martin/Josh gets a super wah wah wah (cue cheesy game show sounds). If you told me Martin/Josh was an alien, I would totally buy that based on how he acted. His speech patterns and way of explaining things were definitely weird. I was not impressed.

I was also not impressed with the setting. Dream Boy takes place in a small town somewhere, and it really could be Anywhere, USA. There was nothing descriptive or even tangible to hold on to.  It felt under developed and lacking.

The one thing I did enjoy was the best friend, Will. The banter between Annabelle and Will was believable and I adored it. There should have been more. He was the character that kept me reading. 

So, this is going to be another book that you will either love or dismiss. It's going to be up to the reader to form his/her own opinion. This girl, however, was unmoved.  




Review: Mortal Instruments #3: City of Glass (Cassandra Clare)

The Deets: 
Audience: YA
Pages: 541
Publisher: March 24th 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 9781416914303
Genre: mystery, paranormal, magic, paranormal romance, series
Source: Library copy



City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?





I am finally reading these. I know, I know. Where have I been? Too busy to devote to 500+ pages of the same story for 5 books, apparently.

I enjoy the world building immensely. I really do think it's fantastic. However, this is the 3rd book in the series and I feel like I'm ready the same book over and over again. There were new characters and a new climax, but really... how many times can Clary come close to catching Valentine (and have him escape) and keep the story fresh?

I found the plot to be very slow at times. Very, very slow. I started skipping paragraphs/pages. And let's be honest-- I didn't miss anything. Gasp.


I know I will finish the series. I want to see the movies, and I always read the books before the movies. Unfortunately, I'm not in a huge rush to finish these books because they are boring me. There was so much hype for this series-- and I was so excited to read them-- but now that they are starting to feel like the same book repeated over and over again, I just don't want to devote the time to read another thousand pages. To me, I feel like there are too many other books out there deserving of my time. Plus, the story is starting to get predictable. I guarantee I know where things are headed. I will read the next book (eventually) to see if I'm right. I bet I am... 


Don't misunderstand me with this short review. I do think these books are worth reading. In fact, I wish I would have read them when they were new. With a year inbetween each installment, it probably wouldn't seem like the same story in every book. I would have had time to forget. I think the problem for me comes down to chain reading. There is no time to forget and refresh.

Sebastian was not a surprise at all. I figured him out way before the end of the book. I'm used to figuring things out, but it was a bit predictable. Luckily, though, there were new characters that were interesting and added to the plot. The back of the book gives away Simon's plight, but I will say how it happened was a surprise. He has always been a favorite character for me in the series, and this book was no different. He did a lot of growing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the role he played.

My summer reading goal was to make progress with this series, and I feel like I've made a good start. I do think these are fun to read books, and I recommend them. I do not, however, suggest chain reading. Give yourself a book or two in between each one to keep things fresh.

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Summer Library Challenge: Library Collage

library 

This week's Summer Library Challenge task asks us to make a collage of our local library.

Well, sadly, I'm leaving for Disney this week so I had no time to take pictures of the gazillion library locations in my town (ok, I think there are like 20). But I did find some amazing pictures on-line to show how awesome they are.

My favorite library in town is the one downtown. It's about 30 miles from me. When I worked around the corner from it, I would always stop by after work. Now it's a bit of a drive but I make it a point to take the kids there as much as I can.

There is an enormous children's department. I mean HUGE. Think full art studio, theater, reading area plus computers and shelves upon shelves of books. We hang out there a lot. We also spend time in the YA center (and by we I mean me). It is incredible.

With 4 stories and numerous "extras" downstairs, the main library is a major feature in town. There are monthly Art Walks hosted here as well as lots of bookish events. I love getting lost here.


Review: Mortal Instruments #2: City of Ashes (Cassandra Clase)

The Deets: 
Audience: YA
Pages: 453
Publisher: March 25th 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 9781416914297
Genre: magic, paranormal, paranormal romance, series
Source: Library copy



City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?




I can start checking this series off my TBR list. Woo! At 500+ pages, these take a bit of time to read, or at least a whole day for me. It's been a while since I read City of Bones, so it was nice to jump right in to the story again. The setting for this series is one of my favorites (next to Savannah for Beautiful Creatures). I would be stating the obvious to say how original this series is. You already know that because you probably read the books when they came out eons ago.

I'm a fickle creature. I do not like to wait for book releases if they are part of a series. I wait until the whole series is out so I can chain read all the books in one go. I did that with Beautiful Creatures, Hunger Games, and a few others. The only series that I read as they were published were Divergent (and we know how that turned out!) and The Darkest Minds books (plus a few others). I'm just so impatient; it's a character flaw.

Because I know my flaws, I can recognize something that is going to set me off. I really feel that books that are edging near 500 pages are risky because that's a lot of stuff to put in a book. I feel like I have a great attention span, but even I start losing interesting around page 400 or so. I am finding that these books are no exception to that, either. Luckily, though, there is enough tension with the characters that keeps me reading. (Yay, Simon!)

So, I'm not going to say much about City of Ashes because it's already been said. You can read the gazillion reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.  I did just want to say that I'm enjoying the series so far, and I'm glad I'm finally reading it. I can see why there is a cult following to these books, and I might just have to jump on that bandwagon myself.





















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Book Blast: Warrior by Kasi Blake




 BOOK BLAST:  WARRIOR
Official Release Date: 7/13/14

This is the third book in the Order of the Spirit Realm Series.  If you haven't read them, start with Bait.  It is free at most online ebook vendors such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.

This book begins two years after Hunter ended.  Bay-Lee is fighting a Devil Tree while her mentor and boyfriend, Nick Gallos, watches from the sidelines.  Things are tense between them.  She wants to amp up their relationship, but Nick has put on the brakes. He's got one foot out the door, and she doesn't know what to do about it.

Warrior brings about closure and change, some good and some bad.  Together, Nick and Bay-Lee will take on the werewolf pack that killed her mother, face their twisted pasts, and face a friend turned enemy.



Quotes from Warrior:

Bay-Lee: You never told me I wasn't supposed to kill it.  You told me I couldn't kill it.

Nick: I should have known you'd take that as a challenge.

Keisha: Oh, don't play Miss Innocent with me, girl.  It was your idea for me to trade places with Nick's banshee, but you've been wearing a pouty face ever since.

Bay-Lee: I don't have a pouty face.

Keisha:  Sure you don't.

Bay-Lee (after knocking Keisha down):  You hit on my boyfriend, so I thought I should hit on you.

Little girl:  There's a monster in my closet.

He added, "Reapers aren't supposed to care.They don't have compassion or love inside of them."


"But you're still human."


"Because of you!"  It sounded like an accusation instead of gratitude.  "I haven't lost my humanity because I still have you.  His facial muscles tightened.  "I can't keep living like this."


Nick threw the talisman down and stormed off, heading for the castle.

She scooped the talisman off the ground.  It was precious, even if it was malfunctioning. 

Without it Nick wouldn't be able to stay with her.  She ran until she caught up with him. 
Slipping it into his hand, she begged him to keep using it.  "At least until we find something else.  Please."


The purple half-circles beneath his eyes attested to his lack of sleep and made her want to cry.  She cringed when he slipped the thing around his neck.  Asking him to live like this was horrible, but she couldn't let him go, not yet.







Minute Review: Hexed ( Michelle Krys)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 384
ISBN:
Publisher:
Genre: magic, witches, mystery
Source: eARC from Netgalley


Hexed (Hexed, #1)If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid. 



Ugh. So many questions left unanswered in this book. The thing that bothered me the most with this book is the plot. And any reader knows, that is the kiss of death for a book.

The moment I knew I was going to have issues with the plot was when I noticed the uneven pacing. The story started off solidly and had a nice quickness to it, then all of a sudden there are new characters and rushed scenes. Indie goes from newbie witch to master of her powers in literally one night. That was super annoying for me. She would practice her skills and fail miserably on day one, then wake up on day 2 able to do more than she practiced. Even for a book that requires me to suspend my belief, that was not believable.

Then there is the ending. Ugh. I absolutely hate it when books introduce new characters at the very end from nowhere. That is exactly what happened in Hexed. Granted, I knew something was up with the new BFF because that was a repeat of a previous plot element (not too original, I'm afraid), but I was deeply frustrated to see a name that I do not recall reading anywhere else in the book. At the end, instead of being left wondering what's going to happen next, I'm left wondering who the heck is this new character. Not exactly a masterful cliffhanger in my opinion.

Since I'm on a tangent, I might as well mention my other remaining grievances. First, the sudden shift in behavior between the supposed long-time bestie. I figured that was coming due to the underlying tones laid out in the book with that character's behavior, but there was no closure at all. It was as if she was just written off as ___ type of person and that was that. There were lots of other questions/situations that did not get resolved, but I don't want to bash the book completely. Some readers may really enjoy it, it just wasn't for me. One positive thing I can say is that this author does a nice job building the romantic tension between Indie and the wizard guy-- whatever his name was. That was fun to read.

You may want to give Hexed a try, but the rest of this series won't be for me.  



 

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