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Win a copy of Nobody and Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ends 2/20)

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Immortal Rules Giveaway!

Oh hey, how's your week going? The temperatures been around the high 90's and low 100's on the east coast. I've swallowed several pints of ocean water and pretty sure a couple of bugs. I just got a call-back from Penn's Medical Center about my volunteer application, which is good. Celebrated my birthday yesterday, also good. Can you guess how old/young I am now? Then I found out I need about 3 more vaccine shots, which is very bad as I hate needles.

But enough about me, let's talk about what you can win to make an awesome last week of June.

Hint: she wrote a best-selling series about the fey.

Another hint: it's in the blog title.

It's The Immortal Rules!
"In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity."Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend--a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what--and who--is worth dying for.
website / author's website / twitter / amazon link


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Struck

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Grade: 3 stars out of 5
Published: May 8, 2012; hardcover
Source: ARC from publisher

What Jennifer Bosworth wrote is something that is frighteningly possible. A massive religious cult, another massive cult trying to stop the other cult, no government stability, prices on basic needs sky-rocketing, etc. Of course in real life there is no psychics or magical beings who with withhold lightening.
In this dystopian novel, Mia Price is the only one who can either save the world or destroy it. Mia is addicted to being struck by lightening and will chase it in for that one hit. Like a drug addict, she keeps asking for more and it shows. With Lichtenberg Figures dancing all over her body, she dresses in black to not scare anyone. But people know who she is, what she’s done, and what she can do.

Jeremy wants to protect Mia, but from what and exactly from whom?
I’m conflicted with my response to Struck. I think it’s dangerous, sexy, and creative. But then again I think it’s creepy, underdeveloped, and too quick.

My biggest issue was Mia and Jeremy. Mia and Jeremy happened too fast for my liking. I found Jeremy really creepy in the beginning and exasperated at how quickly Mia was able to forgive Jeremy. The foundation to the relationship weak; their connection together too strong given the amount of time together. I found both characters lacking in development and background. Of course this is only part one of a series so I expect more later on.

What I did find fascinating was just the idea behind Struck. It’s something I’ve never read before and something I never expected to read. This book will hit a couple of sore spots for some, but I think overall it’s so interesting and unique that will make people curious and draw them in.

I love that Bosworth takes the most innate part of human and expands it. Why does Mia like to be struck by lightening? Because it gives her a high; it makes her feel alive. Why does the Prophet want to run the world? Because it’s power and control and the need to feel safe from anybody. Why do people join the two different cults? Because it gives them a sense of purpose, it makes them feel needed, they want to survive, they want the weight taken off their shoulder. The basic drive in humans is so powerful that it can cause mayhem. I love it; I love that it’s a raw emotion.

The action scenes were done well. The cult scenes were deliciously strange and haunting. The characters were set apart and individualized ‘cause nothing spells a bad book when I can’t tell where one character ends and another begins.

The climax had a pow to it. The ending was satisfying. Struck was a solid read that has a solid audience.

Cover C+/B-


case of a lightening strike: Lichtenberg Figure

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Summer My Life Began

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5
Published: May 10, 2012; paperback
Source: unsolicited ARC from publisher

What better way to spend your summer than figuring what you want to do for the rest of your life and love it too.
“Elizabeth Margaret--better known as Em--has always known what her life would contain: an internship at her father's firm, a degree from Harvard, and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is, it's not what she wants. So when she gets the opportunity to get away and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em learns that her family has some pretty significant secrets. And then there's Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can't resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels that for the first time ever, she is really living life on her own terms.” 
The Summer My Life Began is a relaxing summer read with light hand of poor family relations.

Em spends her summer doing what she loves and what I somewhat enjoy doing, cooking. While TThe Summer My Life Began doesn’t include recipes, there are some inspirational dishes that can be mimicked. Delicious sounding dishes that I’m sure will make the taste buds tingle.

One thing that I love is how the book juxtaposes Em’s internal conflicts with her external ones. Just as Em finds her calling, family relationship starts to crumble. On one hand, I love that Em’s following her passion and that cooking seems to be so right for her. I, for one, would love to find something I am great at, can make a career from, and have so much passion for it. On the other hand, I don’t envy the pressure from the family to be perfect and something I’m not. Ultimately I was rooting for Em to be a chef and get out from her parents’ steel wings.

Her summer at her aunt’s place that sparked this new Em is a beautiful setting to the novel. I love how Greenland spent some scenes traveling throughout the town and giving it more atmosphere. The blossoming of Em’s new romantic relationship with Cade is sizzling. Cade is the local bad boy with a troubled past and a great future ahead of him. I was slightly iffy about Cade and Em because it seemed almost too soon and too quick, but the relationship grew on me.

The big hush-hush secret that runs through the family can be easily predicted. It is quite hinted throughout the novel. I didn’t mind it as much as others, despite it’s somewhat being a cliché, mostly because I never saw The Summer My Life Began as a life-changing novel. It’s a summer read meant for readers to enjoy, not dissected. I enjoyed it.

Read The Summer My Life Began if you’re looking for something light, but with a surprising hearty bite at the last minute. Some parts of the novel can be fleshed out more and I wished that the emotions can be stronger, but all-in-all a good read.

Cover B-

Friday, June 15, 2012

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Published: June 19, 2012; paperback
Source: ARC from LibaryThing ER

I have a love affair with Courtney Summers’s books. I’m usually strictly a paranormal gal (I mean, have you seen my bookshelf?), but as soon as Courtney Summers’s has a new book I’m on it like as if it were a cupcake—devoured with a every-man-for-themselves attitude. So when Summer’s announced her new book involving zombies I had to read it!

And thank you jebus that these zombies are not the cuddly, happy-go-lucky zombies that’s French kissing some cheerleader/goth dude. No, this is eating-the-flesh-off-your-face zombie.



Oh yeah.


This is Not a Test is about Sloane and a motley set of teenagers trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Of course, what’s a Summers’s work if there isn’t emotional tension, angst, and drama. A boring one is what that will be.

This is Not a Test is heart pounding, jaw clenching novel that really leaves you hanging off the edge of your seat. (I know, I know, second POV is bad because it makes me sound obnoxious, but truly, this novel will have you on the edge.) While the zombies attack is an essential part of the novel, it is not the main focus. For This is Not a Test is a character driven novel with Sloane being the instigator. It is about living to survive from abandonment. Learning how to breathe even when the room starts to feel small and closing in. Learning to forgive people.

Summers’s draws forth an emotional response from the reader in every chapter. Even with the first person point of view, there’s an attachment and connection to the other characters. Take a deep breath in, and exhale slowly because it’s easily to get wrapped up in the characters. It’s so easy to get caught up in the loneliness and the despair from Sloane. Sometimes the urge to yell at someone is strong, other times tears sting your eye. There were so many times I had to stop reading, close the book, and take a minute to collect myself before I started to bawl. I became so emotionally invested in Sloane that it surprised me. I wanted to follow her tale till the wee rosy-fingered dawn. But I passed out around midnight so instead I dreamed about it. I wanted her live, but I wanted her to want to live even more.

By now you might have noticed my lack of mentioning of the zombies aside from the initial introduction. There’s a reason for that. Courtney Summers writes fantastic contemporary works of fiction. This is Not a Test reads just like a contemp. book with zombies being in the background. The zombies may be the ones that started the book, but the story of Sloane started before that. What the zombies do is make everything much more intense; it kick-starts the adrenaline. That’s not to say there aren’t any zombie fighting and chasing scenes. And that’s not to say what Summers’s wrote about the zombies wasn’t frightening. Because there were and it was. There is more to This is Not a Test than flesh-eating zombies.

The one part of Summers’s novels that frustrates me: the ending. They are typically open-ended and for me, I need to know what happens. Will they make it? To the new safe house? As a couple? Will Sloane continue to want to live? What happens now!?

With Summers’s terse writing and some unforgettable lines, This is Not a Test will haunt you; it’ll stick with you even after you finished reading it. I want to carry this book with me always so I can smack people in the face and demand that they read it. Now!

Cover A-
Absolutely love the blood splatter and the tilt of the model's head.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of WTF Did I Read

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed
by E.L. James

Grade: 0.5 stars out of 5
Published: self-pub then Vintage dropped a shiny penny for the series; paperback/kindle
Source: myself (why oh why)
Ages: 18+ but I started reading smexy books earlier so whatever floats your boat.
Cover: B+

Currently in my YA reading slump, I thought I would do a 180 and pick up some books that has been drawing attention: Fifty Shades trilogy. I’m sure every author would love to be in E.L. James’s position right now: a stellar contract, countless weeks on the NYT’s bestseller list, made USA Today’s list, in stores almost everywhere (including WalMart where I just had to gasp!), etcetera etcetera.

For those of you who have living under a rock, or in case of my many friends, just don’t care, the Fifty Shades series is about a guy named Christian Grey (hint hint, Fifty Shades of Grey) who’s a really rich guy that’s part philanthropist, part sexual and overly bearing dominant with an inner 14-year adolescent that’s really horny and afraid of being abandoned. He also has a really bad case of an Oedipus Complex.

Now it’s not all about him, despite the fact that his ego can fill up an entire room, because it takes two to do the dirty deed. Oh, I should mention that this trilogy is a BDSM, erotic, love tale, but more on that later. Now the lovely partner/lover/semi-submissive to the ever dominant Christian is Anastasia Steele. She’s pretty and a brunette and really good at reading/critiquing manuscripts. She also loves her stepfather. There’s nothing really much about her per se except being exceptionally pretty to the point where almost every single straight guy around her is in love with her. Or perhaps they just want to get in her pants.

She also talks to her inner goddess, which is within her subconscious even though the subconscious is something you're unaware of she frequently talks to it. So much so that I would like to stake her inner goddess.

So the whole series is about them being trying to be together. Through the ups (sex), and downs (bad relationships, a “crack whore mom”, a crazy stalker/murderer, a boyfriend who wants to control every aspect of your life, an ex-submissive/dominant/the way older woman who taught you sex, etc) they somehow work things out. Instant love works amazingly well in fiction.

Straight up, I did not like the Fifty Shades trilogy. Shocking really. Firstly, I wish I had never known that this was originally a Twilight fanfiction. I compared it to the original Twilight than I compared it to the really great fanfictions I’ve read. What’s bad was that I caught E.L. James using a certain Twilight character’s real name instead of the name that James’s created. Uh oh. (Luckily I’ve read enough Twilight parodies that I’ve grown used to these mistakes.) Secondly, what a poor set of characters: dislikable and vapid. Thirdly, the plot sucked. Lastly, which I think was the blasphemous of the entire book, the sex…was bland. For a BDSM erotica, I was expecting some steamy, wow sex, but most was very “vanilla” and repetitive that I fell asleep. At 10 PM. I kid you not.

Christian and Anastasia have no idea what they want in each other and it’s horrifyingly embarrassing reading them interact. Cheesy, cliché, and uninspiring dialogue flows between them like verbal diarrhea. The mind says no, but the body screams yes; I can’t live without you; sunshine comes out your ass, yada yada yada. I for one wanted to take the flogger, crop, paddle, and cane to smack them a few times. The conversations they have boils down to Christian wanting Ana to be safe and following what he asks/demands; she, of course, tells Christian that she understands his concerns and will try to take it into consideration. Not 5 hours later does she defy what he asked and then she gets pissed that he’s angry because she blatantly goes against what he says. Then he gets upset that she’s pissed and afraid that she’ll leave. She forgives him; they have sex. And repeat. And repeat. Over and over again and you wonder whatever happened to character development.


At that point I would like sparkly Edward back. (Not something I ever expected to say or type.)

The supporting cast is bland. Ana’s best friend is supposedly rich and intelligent. For the most of the series, she’s off vacationing and banging Christian’s brother who is supposedly cheating, but the author never goes into that. Christian’s sister is hyper and does not know what personal space is. Ana’s parents and friends are flickers of light.

The sex is bland for a BDSM erotica. Forget bondage. Forget doms and subs as that it didn’t last the entire book one of the series. Sadism still alive and kicking, but Ana gives off too many conflicting signals that I don’t doubt why Christian’s half-confused by the type of sex that have. (She likes it rough, but not roughly as if that’s not a vague statement.) There’s a couple of scenes where he spanks her (thank goodness he doesn’t ask, “who’s your daddy” because that would be disturbing on a new lever), they play with a couple of sex toys, and they really like elevators, but other than that it’s mostly typically love scene romance-y vanilla sex. That is not what I asked for.

So what we have so far is bland sex, poor characters, and a weak plot.

The one redeeming thing about the books was the crack whore mom and her impact on Christian. For whatever reason I find his childhood tragic and something I can easily sympathize to.

Stupid curiosity told me to read these books. Gah. Never listening to that again until next week…or at least until Thursday where I will try a chocolate panini.


Listen to Gilbert Gottfriend read Fifty Shades of Grey
Listen to Ellen Degeneres read Fifty Shades of Grey