Friday, 31 August 2012

Captive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts

Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1)Captive in the Dark by CJ Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not sure anything I write in this review will explain how much I loved this book and why. To say that this story is complex is a massive understatement. If you're looking for a light easy afternoon read, a book with love, hope, and a happily ever after, keep looking. If you want raw emotion, pain, dark terror, a page turner that will captivate you from the first word to the last and then leave you wanting more, this is the book for you.

Caleb is a slave trainer, and Caleb wants revenge. When he sets his sight on Olivia he thinks she is the means to the end. His goal is to kidnap her and train her to be a pleasure slave so he can sell her and ultimately use her as a tool for his revenge. However, Olivia turns out to be not quite what he had expected.

Olivia is a high school senior just trying to get through her last year so she can get out of her life and start new. She has no one at home she can turn to for support, with no father and a mother who doesn't seem to like her. When she is kidnapped, her first instinct is to fight. She is not the quiet submissive Caleb was looking for. Rather, as the days pass, she struggles to hold onto the person she was, no matter the cost.

The characters in this story are amazing. We really don't know a lot about Caleb's revenge, why he wants it, etc., but just that it is more important to him than anything else he has ever known. His character is so complex. The author did such an amazing job, with both him and Olivia, at showing emotions, feelings, and conflicts. As Caleb gets to know Olivia, he begins to feel sorry for the things he must do to her, but feeling sorry is not quite enough to make him stop. Olivia is so confused about how she is supposed to feel about Caleb. One minute he is hurting her worse than she could have ever imagined and the next he is holding her and comforting her, something no one has ever done before. She is torn between the two sides of him and her feelings of hate for him and her need to be loved by him.

I love that we got both Olivia and Caleb's point of view in this story. I don't think it would have made half the impact if it had only been one sided. We got to see not only what Olivia was going through and her inner turmoil, but also Caleb's, and that is what, in my opinion, really made this story so great. I am amazed at the emotions and feelings captured in this book. And both characters are so likable. Yes, even Caleb who is supposed to be the monster here. As I was reading my emotions followed Olivia's…one minute I loved him and felt sorry for him, the next I hated him. In the end, my love for him won over and I couldn't help but hope there would be a happily ever after for him.

And holy cliffhangers! I finished the book at 1:30 in the morning and immediately hopped on Amazon praying and hoping the second book was out! Turns out I have to wait a couple of months. Two months for me to imagine ways the story could end, to figure out how Caleb and Olivia's lives are going to play out. But, no matter what I imagine for them, I know it will not be nearly as good as what the author will do…so now I will wait patiently and try to get these two out of my head. Wish me luck.


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Writings From the Heart by Beth Ann Masarik

Writings from the Heart: Stories and Poetry From Around the World (Volume 1)Writings from the Heart: Stories and Poetry From Around the World by Beth Ann Masarik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I find it hard writing a review for anthologies, as there are so many components to the book. Some of the stories/poems I loved, some I thought were just okay. So, I'll do my best to give you an overview of the book as a whole.

This anthology will have something for everyone. The short stories range widely in topic and are heartwarming and full of emotion, playful and funny. Reading through the stories and poems in this collection, I found them interesting and unique. If you're a fan of poetry, or you're just curious to find out more, you'll definitely need to pick this one up!

One of my favorite stories was "Hiding in Plain Sight," though there were a few others I really enjoyed as well, and though I'm not normally a huge fan of poetry, I really enjoyed the poems in this anthology. A couple of my favorites were "Invisible Scars" and "Succubus in Chains."

This book is for a good cause, so even if short stories and poetry is not something you usually read, give it a try. The proceeds from this collection will go to the Adult Congenital Heart Program at Cohen Children's Medical Center of NY for education and research in this area.


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Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cas is a ghost hunter. He hunts down and kills ghosts that don't realize that they are dead. He inherited this ability from his father, and it has been passed down for generations. Cas moves with his mother, a white witch, to Canada to track down rumors of a ghost names Anna. When he finds Anna, she is anything but what he was expecting.

Cas is a very likable guy. He's a nice guy with a good sense of humor. I found myself laughing at his wittiness more than once. He's never really had many friends, moving around too often to really have the chance to make any, but when he does make friends he turns out to be a great one. He is caring and loyal and overall jus a good guy. Anna turns out to be pretty likable too. I loved the two different sides of her that the author was able to convey. And her story once it was told was so sad! I never would have expected it to play out the way it did. All of the characters were fleshed out well and are charming, making this dark sort of story really fun to read.

I love that this story was told from a male POV. You don't really see that very often, and it was a nice change. The author did a great job getting inside Cas's head and made him a good narrator. This is the kind of book that, although is fun to read, has a major creepy feel to it too, along with some gore. I think the author did an amazing job with that, as I'm sure it wasn't easy to accomplish! I am very much looking forward to book two to see what happens!


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Seduced by Three by Sylvia Ryan

Seduced by ThreeSeduced by Three by Sylvia Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you love a story full of alpha males, this is the book for you. The world as we know it is coming to an end after a major cataclysmic event. Sarge has been preparing for this day for years, even though he never really expected it to come. He knows what he must do to survive, and at the request of a friend, goes after Grace to help her survive too. Grace is the (adult) daughter of a man who taught her how to survive. She is tough and knows how to take care of herself. When Sarge comes in insisting she go with him, she does so reluctantly and only because her father had sent him. Hiding out and trying to survive in a world of chaos, they team up with a couple more allies.

I liked all of the characters in this story. Each is unique and has his or her own personality. I really would have loved to see what all of their lives were like "before." Sarge is the strong sexy type. If there ever was an alpha male, he is it. He tries to control Grace in a way that he thinks is helping her but quickly learns she's not to be pushed around. Van is more sweet and caring. He is still strong and sexy, but more in a cuddly teddy bear sort of way. Luke is the bad boy of the group, silent and sexy. We really don't know much about him except he is the brains of the group, the peacekeeper when things get rough. I really liked Grace throughout the whole story, until the end. She was a strong, doesn't take crap type of girl. She was young enough that she was still trying to figure out who she was and what she wanted out of life but old enough to have learned from past mistakes. Throughout the story she was trying to assert herself and not lose her individuality in the male dominated world she was now living in. However, towards the end of the book she does a complete 180. She turned into everything the guys had wanted her to be in the beginning, which is not her, and the change was really overdone to the point where I was actually rolling my eyes at the book. Together the three men made a whole, everything Grace wanted in a man, and she had to figure that out and come to terms with it. Oh yeah, did I mention the hot and steamy sex scenes!!

I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from this author.


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Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox

Bitter Harvest Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bitter Harvest is a great story, flirty, sexy and fun. Rider is pretty much your poster boy for Playboy. He is sexy and irresistible, and knows it. Sutton is a Lieutenant is serious and focused. When the two meet, sparks fly.

This story is set in an apocalyptic world where a manmade virus is infecting people and turning them basically into human machines. Sutton lives in a human community of uninfected people that is, as far as they know, one of the last human communities around. Their goal is to protect themselves from the infected for as long as they can.

The evolving relationship between Rider and Sutton was fun, and the sexual tension made the story fun to read, though at the end I was still confused by the whole 'cure' thing. I wish that would have been explained better.


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Solstice by Bryan W. Dull

SolsticeSolstice by Bryan W. Dull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book as an ARC from the author.

Gavin is a vampire hunter. He hunts humans who have been 'infected' and kills them before they fully turn. Gavin, like any good main character hero sort, has a past that continually haunts him. Gavin's past has made him a bit cynical, but he is overall a good guy. When he meets Solstice, he can't just turn her out on her own, no matter how much he would like to. Gavin is the sort of guy that makes a great main character, and he might just be getting his second chance at life.

Solstice is a half vampire, half human. She is alone in the world, and all she really wants is to be normal. She appears sweet and innocent, but there is a danger lurking underneath the surface that we only get a very small glimpse of in this book. I love the mystery surrounding Solstice. Even though she is the book's namesake, we really don't know very much about her, but just enough to peak interest.

I enjoyed the author's writing style. The story flowed smoothly and was easy to read. Gavin's sarcastic wit and humor was refreshing in this dark story. Really the only thing that brought this book down for me was the prologue. The scene itself was powerful, and I really liked the potential there but felt it just didn't deliver. I can't really put my finger on what is bugging me about it, though. It very well could be the third person narration, which I'm not a huge fan of, but I just think it could have been given more force.

As I said above I received an unedited ARC, so there were many grammatical errors and a few timeline issues in this book. I heard that Solstice was picked up by a publisher, so going through that process and an editor should fix all of those issues. Overall I really enjoyed this story and am looking forward to see where the author takes it. Thank you to Bryan Dull for letting me read your book!


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One Less Warlock by Judith Post

One Less WarlockOne Less Warlock by Judith Post
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it's hard in a short story to create a unique setting, characters, etc., and still get some sort of story line in. In One Less Warlock, Judith did an excellent job of molding the story in such a way that we got a taste of a distinct world and character personalities, and a complete story to go with it. In this short story Judith was able to pack in witches, vampires, a sexy Were, succubus, voodoo, murder, and mystery, all in only about 20 pages. Pretty amazing.

I enjoyed the story and Babet, the main character, and am looking forward to more of her in the future.

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The Sun Never Rises in the Big City by Jeremy C. Shipp

The Sun Never Rises in the Big CityThe Sun Never Rises in the Big City by Jeremy C. Shipp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great short story, one I would love to read as a full length novel. It is basically about a 'detective' trying to find a murderer, but the setting in which the characters lived was pretty unique. There were quite distinct social classes that the story isn't quite long enough for you to grasp the whole concept of, but we got an overview of the almost dystopian setting, just enough to tantalize. There are so many places this story could be taken, and I will be looking for more from this author.

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Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

Dirty Little AngelsDirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the blurb for this book you might be led to believe it is about God or religion. Really it is a coming-of-age story of a young impressionable girl looking for answers and something to believe in.

Hailey is a 16-year-old girl living in the slums of New Orleans trying to find a way to fix her broken family. In this process, she questions religion and tries to make sense of all of the different views on the subject. Basically, she is a confused young girl trying to figure out why things are the way they are. With parents who are too busy with their own problems to even begin to think about hers, having no real positive role model and left on her own to find answers, Hailey turns to her older brother and his friends for support. This book follows Hailey as she maneuvers through life looking for something or someone to help her make sense of things.

This story is told basically through a stream of consciousness with Hailey as the navigator. I love the descriptiveness the author uses in the way Hailey sees things. The use of imagery is impressive and really paints an imaginative picture for the reader.

Though there isn’t much action in this book, it is a compelling read, brutally honest in what a young girl in Hailey's situation might face with no real happily every after. Ultimately what Hailey discovers through her experiences is that no one can be counted on and if you want something changed you have to take action and do it yourself.

That all being said, I really would have loved to see the ending taken a little further. Where the author chose to stop the story left me wanting more, to find out conclusively what happens to Hailey and her brother. Ultimately, I think wanting more is indicative of a great story!


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Crimson Midnight by Amos Cassidy

Crimson MidnightCrimson Midnight by Amos Cassidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Crimson Midnight has it all…sexy werewolves (my personal favorite), vamps, demons, warlocks, and crazy fairies. Oh, and I forgot to mention the action, drama, mystery, magic, humor, and romance…What more could you ask for in a book?

Rose moved to the big city of London to get a fresh start, and with a new job, a city to explore, and old friends to keep her company, everything should be perfect…insert scary laugh here. Rose moves in with a family friend, Flo, and Flo's two sons, and before long she comes to realize that not everyone is who, or what, they seem.

I LOVE the characters in this book. Rose is tough and sassy. She is a fighter and stands up for herself. I am so over the female leads who sit around helpless waiting for the big strong man to save the day. Rose is very much not one of those. But, don't get me wrong…there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a big strong man (or two) waiting on you hand and foot…anyway, back to the book. I really enjoyed Rose's witty personality. The back and forth with her and Harold and Roman is so much fun. Some other characters that deserve a mention are Thistle, who really turned out to be a likable character; Harold, the troublemaker; Raven, the strong but silent type; and Roman…What do I say about Roman? His character is awesome! I love his and Rose's relationship, or lack of as the case may be. Seriously, there is nothing more exciting than a love that isn't meant to be. The authors did a great job shaping each of the main characters in the story and giving us enough background so that we got to know them. I enjoyed having the multiple points of view throughout the story so we got to see the story fleshed out through different eyes.

And did I mention the twists and turns? Heck yeah. Enough to make sure you'll have no clue what's going to happen next. I love being surprised with the ending, and wasn't disappointed here…but I do have one issue to take up with the authors…Did that really happen? You know what I'm talking about, don't act like you don't. Um, I really think you better fix that somehow in book two. And speaking of book two, is it almost finished? It's hard to be patient when I'm dying to know what happens. Could you hurry, pretty please?

Interview with author Amos Cassidy:
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Second Time Around by H.A. Caine

Second Time AroundSecond Time Around by H.A. Caine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable short story. Jamie is about to open his own bakery and has a chance to meet some of his new neighbors. Matthew and Jamie seem to hit it off, but Jamie is unsure of Matthew's sexual orientation or if he is interested in him.

The characters and the setting in the story were fun, and it was an entertaining story.


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Lure by Brian Rathbone

Lure (Sam Flock Adventures, #1)Lure by Brian Rathbone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, this book was good. Sam and Shells pretty much partied all the time and were pretty funny together, always getting into some sort of trouble. Sam is a strong female lead who doesn't take crap from anyone and doesn't back down from a challenge.

Sam is an ex-cop turned paranormal investigator, together with her friend Shells. They are called to Lake Lure to investigate some paranormal activity and jump at the chance to get out of town for a while. This story started off good, but ultimately never went anywhere. We saw a lot of Sam and Shells partying, and that's about it. The buildup to the ending was a bit slow, though entertaining, but once we got there it was very anticlimactic. It seemed that throughout the whole book I was waiting for something that never came, and I was left wanting something more out of the book.

That being said, if you're looking for a quick, humorous story about two friends on a cross country trip, this is it.


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The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Allie is a human living in post apocalyptic America after a plague wipes out over half of the population and vampires take control. She and her gang of friends struggle every day just to not starve to death on the streets. Allie hates the vampires with everything that she is, until she is attacked and forced to make the choice between life and death. Choosing life, she then has to learn to come to terms with what she has become and try to figure out how to keep her humanity.

I loved this book for many reasons…First, I really liked Allie. She was a tough street girl who knew what it took to survive, yet she had a soft side to her, always helping out those around her. In a world where even humans had lost their humanity, Allie was struggling to try to keep hers.

I loved the descriptiveness of the book. The author really does a great job weaving Allie's tale and painting a picture of the world she lives in. I really liked the way Allie described everyday things that she hadn't seen before because they don't exist in her world…motorized bicycles (motorcycles) and winged mice (bats). Through the whole story the author described each setting, whether it be a run down, long forgotten farmhouse or a deserted paved road, with such feeling and intent.

I also loved the romance aspect of the story. There wasn't much romance to the story, which is a good thing (see below), but what was there was done well. I really liked that the story was from the POV of the vampire falling for a human. Most books are written the other way around, and it was a nice change. I liked that Allie and her love interest didn't fall in love instantly and were very cautious with their feelings.

Here's the 'see below.' The author did such a great job framing out Allie's character. In the beginning of the book I was rooting for her to survive, then after she turned and was alone I felt sorry for her, then after she met up with Zee's group I was glad that she had friends, and then later I was sad for her again. It makes for a great story when you can connect with the characters so much that you feel for them. I think a romance really would have ruined the story, as Allie wouldn't have felt like such a loner if she would have been able to make it work out. As it was, she was a very new vampire and trying to learn her limits, and she knew that falling for a human was out of the question.

In the end, Allie did what she had to in order to survive and keep her humanity intact. I liked the way things ended but am waiting very anxiously for the next book….which I will be buying the day it's released!


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Fallen by Lauren Kate

FallenFallen by Lauren Kate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio book of Fallen.

Fallen is the story of Luce, a 17-year-old girl sent to a boarding school for troubled teens. Her first day at the school she meets her fellow students, some who she seems to hit it off with immediately, and then there's Daniel. Luce is instantly inexplicably drawn to Daniel, but he very obviously wants nothing to do with her.

The story follows Luce through her days at Sword & Cross as she learns the ropes and tries to figure out how to fit in and stay out of trouble. She makes a couple of friends, Arriane and Penn, to help her out, and of course an enemy to set the balance. Though Luce is fascinated by Daniel and her unexplained attraction to him, she is adequately distracted by Cam, the "other" hot guy at the school.

The characters in this book are fun and each has their own personality. I liked the setting the author was able to create and the effect portrayed through her descriptions of the school and surroundings. I ultimately enjoyed the story, but I felt it was a bit slow at times. Through the whole book we know that Luce is different, but nothing else really seems to be happening, and the ending, although had a bit more action, didn't really answer many questions.

All in all, this was a good book and I will be listening to the next one in the series to find out what happens. Hopefully we will find out more about Luce and Daniel and see more of Cam.


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Deadly Addiction by Kristine Cayne

Deadly Addiction (Deadly Vices, #2)Deadly Addiction by Kristine Cayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deadly Addiction has everything you could want in a great book – suspense, romance, an oh so sexy alpha male, a kick-ass female lead…and so much more! I'm not even quite sure where to start with this because I just loved everything about this book.

The characters were written exceptionally well. The author has a way of getting inside of the heads of her characters that is nothing short of amazing. I loved the relationship between Alyssa and Remi from their very first meeting. The flirting was fun, the chemistry was hot, and the sexual tension was done in a way that left you always on the edge waiting for what was going to happen next!

Alyssa is a cop trying to salvage her career after questionable tactics while working undercover. She is sent to the Iroquois reserve on an "easy" assignment to help set up a group of native officers to police the reservation. Alyssa is trying to put her past behind her but is finding out that it is not such an easy task. Remi is half white/half Indian. He has struggled his whole life to try to fit in and has had to overcome many hardships from his childhood. He fights for what he knows is right while at the same time fighting for freedom for his family and his race. The crazy thing about this story is that everyone was doing what they thought was the right thing for the greater good. Even Chaz was doing what he thought was best to help his people.

There was so much conflict and complexity to the story. The humor laced through was great, and the sex scenes were hot!! Deadly Addictions is one of those books where after you've read a few chapters you're hitting your forehead and asking yourself why the hell you hadn't picked it up sooner!


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ReVamped by Ada Adams

ReVamped (Angel Creek, #1)ReVamped by Ada Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sent to the small town of Angel Creek to train four new vampires to become guardians of the town, Dawn thinks she has been given a pretty easy assignment. Her assignment, however, turns out to be not so simple when she meets her trainees, and the longer Dawn is in Angel Creek, the more she realizes she is in for more than she bargained for.

Revamped gives us a different take on vampires from the usual. I enjoyed the way they were portrayed in this book and loved the humor throughout the story. The descriptiveness of the story was wonderful and imaginative, and the characters were well written. The author did an excellent job of creating her characters and getting inside their heads.

Dawn was a great character and easy to connect with. The only thing I really did not like about her is that I found her character to be inconsistent at times. She was trained to be this great warrior, the greatest in fact, but at any sign of trouble she just seemed too indecisive and weak. I loved the 'misfit' vampires. The humor they brought to the book was great. I also loved Ethan and Sebastian. There was some romance sprinkled into the story, but it is not really a big part of the story.

There were some great twists to this story that you would never have imagined coming. Overall it was an enjoyable read.

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Blood Debt by Nancy Straight

Blood DebtBlood Debt by Nancy Straight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Nancy Straight ever since I read the first book of her Destiny series. After I finished it, I immediately went to Amazon and purchased the next two books. I would have done that with Blood Debt as well but, sadly, the rest of the series isn't out yet. However, I look forward to the rest of the series with great anticipation. Here's why I love it…

First is the story itself. I think the thing I love the most is the uniqueness of it. The mythology woven into the story is creative and original. I really enjoyed the author's new perspective on the centaurs and gods.

Second is the characters. Camille is a great lead. She is independent, funny and strong. We are introduced to her and given some background on her, and then her world is turned upsidedown. The story follows her as she learns about who and what she really is and what that means for her.

The rest of the characters, from her new family to her new friends to her old friends, are written with dimension, enough that I am looking forward to reading more about them, especially her old friend Daniel.

Last is the author's writing style. She has a way with words that makes the story flow smoothly and fun to read. The story is sprinkled with bits of humor, and there is never a dull moment, holding your attention to the very last word. The story is full of action, mystery, romance and heartache. What more could you ask for?

Interview with Nancy Straight!
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Not That Type of Guy by Sara York

Not That Type of GuyNot That Type of Guy by Sara York
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not That Type of Guy is the sweet and sexy story of Aiden and Trace. Aiden is a CIA agent with a tough job. He keeps people at a distance, especially woman, thinking he really can't get into a serious relationship. After an unexpected sexual encounter with another man, Aiden has to face the reality of his feelings and what he's been hiding from himself. Aiden's character was written in a way that we were able to feel his conflicts and emotions. He had had it drilled into him his whole life that being gay was wrong and bad, and he was terrified of his own true feelings. He had kept them hidden for so long that he was a wreck when those feelings finally made their way out.

Trace is a doctor who changes Aiden's whole way of thinking and, ultimately, his life. I liked Trace. He knew what he wanted and wasn't afraid to go after it. The attraction between Aiden and Trace is intense, and they were fun together.

The story was good and fun to read. Through the story both Aiden and Trace learn life lessons. Aiden, that you can't fight who you are, and Trace, that things aren't always black and white.

One thing that bothered me throughout the story was the way too many emotions. Aiden is supposed to be this tough CIA agent, being put in life and death situations constantly, yet he's an emotional wreck. I get that he is going through a conflict, but I would have liked him more if he were more firm and less teary. I also am not a fan of instant love. Instant attraction I get, but love really needs more time to develop.

Overall this was a fun, unique story, and thank you to the author for providing me with a copy to review!

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What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

What I Didn't SayWhat I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I Didn't Say is a captivating, emotional story. We follow the story through Jake's point of view as he comes to term with the consequences of his actions. After getting drunk with some friends one night and getting into a car accident, Jake's life is changed forever. No longer able to speak, he must learn how to come to terms with his disability and communicate again, not only with his family but with the rest of the world as well.

Through the story we watch Jake grow, although he does have setbacks, and he also learns that he's not the only one with problems. Enter Sam. Jake had been crushing on Samantha since she first moved to their town. As the two become closer, Jake learns that, although she appears perfect on the outside, she is struggling with her own troubles.

I enjoyed watching the changing dynamics of Jake's life and his relationship with Sam. I think this story was all the more powerful because it could be true. Everything that happened to Jake could happen to any teen today in real life.


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Determinant by A.M. Hargrove

Determinant (The Guardians of Vesturon #3)Determinant by A.M. Hargrove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in The Guardians of Vesturon series was my favorite, although I loved the first two books as well. Determinant is fast paced and full of adventure and surprises that will be sure to keep you guessing. Plus, it is packed full of hot guys…who can resist?

January is a great character. She has had a tough life but despite her past, or maybe because of it, she is a strong lead and knows how to take care of herself. She is easily likable and fun to be reading about. I really love Rykerian. I loved having his point of view in the story. He's sweet, smart, funny, and obviously cares very much for January.

My favorite new character in the story was Jurek. He was mysterious and complex. If he were real, I'd marry him. That's all I'm going to say :)

Although this is the third of the series and the characters from the first two books make an appearance, Determinant could be a standalone book. However, I would suggest you read Survival and Resurrection first to get all of the background and because, well, you'll love them.

Interview with Rykerian!
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Meet the Guardians!
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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the kind of book you don't want to end. You know it's going to have to, you know it's getting close, but when it finally gets there, you're still upset because you want the story to continue…you have so much invested in the characters that you just have to know what happens next!

Karou is such a great character. She's fun, caring, and loyal to her family…just don't piss her off because she knows how to fight. She is definitely the kind of girl you want on your side in a battle. I quickly became intrigued by Karou. At first she seems so innocent, but then you find out she has this whole other life. She is obviously lonely, and I found myself feeling empathy for her and her situation. It would be hard not to be able to have 'real' friends, and even with her 'family' she was pretty much left in the dark about everything. I loved her even more for the fact that she didn't just sit around feeling sorry for herself.

I also really liked Brimstone, although he would definitely scare me in a 'don't piss me off or I'll eat you' sort of way, and my fondness for him grew as the story was revealed. I really like that we got to see Brimstone from both Akiva and Karou's points of view. Akiva saw him as nothing but a monster, but Karou had good memories of him, almost father like, and it humanized him a little for Akiva, I think.

As for Akiva, at first I wasn't sure what to think of him. I didn't trust him and thought he could only bring trouble. By the end of the book, however, I was in love with him. I loved him for how he loved Karou (and Madrigal), how he took action for what he believed, even how he fought for her though his hope was gone. He's the kind of guy every girl dreams of.

The author's descriptive writing style quickly captivated me. She knows how to create just enough tension to keep you on edge without drawing it out so long that you are in danger of losing interest. In fact, many times I found myself covering the page across from where I was reading so I wouldn't be tempted to look ahead to see what was going to happen! She also did a really good job with the character's conflicting emotions, really getting them across to the reader. Through her words and descriptions, she brought the characters to life.

I was not sure I was going to like the "switch" in stories from Karou to Madrigal, but I fell into it quickly. While I was reading it, I missed Karou, but eventually grew to love Madrigal and her story just as much.

The story of forbidden love is one that has been told 1000 times over, but Taylor's take was so unique it was like hearing it for the first time. The story was fun to read and captivating. I am eagerly anticipating book two to see where the story is going to be taken.


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Five by Christie Rich

Five (Elemental Enmity, #1)Five by Christie Rich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rayla is pursuing her dreams by going away to college rather than staying close to home. Despite her aunt's protests, she sneaks off with her best friend, and that's when the fun begins. The whole story line of Five was different, and I appreciated that very much. The history of the Elementals and the Fae Lords was an interesting one. I really enjoyed the whole fantasy world that was created for this story. The book was action packed and fun to read. I mean really, who wouldn't want five hot Lords fighting over you?

Rayla was a great character. She was funny and sassy. The story follows Rayla as she learns of her heritage and what that means for her. I like that she didn't fall into a heap and cry after learning about the Elementals, but really, with all those yummy guys following her around, what's to cry about?

I loved the twists and turns the story took and am looking forward to where the author is going to take it next. I already have book two queued up on my Kindle and am anxious to get started!

Interview with Christie Rich:
http://makingconnectionsgroup.blogspo...

Interview with 'Rayla':
http://shutupandreadgroup.blogspot.co...

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Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Bared to You (Crossfire, #1)Bared to You by Sylvia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was pretty hot. The sex scenes were hot and steamy, and the setting was a perfect fantasy. Who wouldn't love the dream of running into Mr. Hot and Sexy at work and having him come right out and tell you like it is?

The characters were done well for the most part. Cross was, well, Cross. I don't really know what to say about him except YUM. I guess that's really enough.

Eva was, well…for the most part I liked her. She was strong and independent, knowing what she wanted and not afraid to go after it. I didn't, however, like the way she reacted to things…Yes, I know she was traumatized and running was her way of dealing, but really, it got old. Example: At one point she says (or thinks) she can't stand the thought of being the next in a line of many, and yet that's exactly what she agreed to with Cross. He laid out pretty clearly how it was going to be for him, and she accepted his deal, so she shouldn't have acted like a jealous girlfriend, getting mad because he obviously had had sex with other girls. She drove me nuts sometimes. Her reactions seemed very childish to me, and I had trouble keeping up with her bipolarity.

The story itself was pretty predictable. For the most part I knew where it was going. I probably would have enjoyed it a bit more if I had not already read 50 Shades. Overall, if you like 50 Shades, you'll like this book.


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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Harry!! I love his sarcasm, his self-depreciating humor, his smarts, his Macgyver-like ability to get out of any situation with the scantest of resources.

Fool Moon, as you might guess by the title, is about werewolves. I really enjoyed that author's take on the wolves and the many different kinds of wolves…how inventive!

My favorite part of this book, though, was that we got to see a softer side of Harry. The scene towards the end with him and Susan was just a peek, barely even a chapter, but it was enough to show a side of him that we don't normally get. I mean, he's always nice and gentlemany, but this was a sweet side and it was my favorite scene in the whole book. It humanized Harry in a way that nothing else could.

I am so very much looking forward to finishing this series. Oh yeah, and I listened to the audio book of this one, which, by the way, is awesome! James Marsters has the perfect "Harry" voice. It really brings the whole story together. I've heard after book five they switched narrators, so I just hope that one is half as good.


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Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

ForbiddenForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“How can something so wrong feel so right?”

What do you say about a book that leaves you speechless? I actually have a lot to say. First off, my hats off to the author on this one, not only for the excellent read, but also because this couldn't have been an easy story to write. I somehow managed not to bawl like a baby, but I did, especially during the last two chapters, sound like *gasp, oh no, oh my God*…until my husband finally told me (not very politely) to go in to the other room to read because he was trying to watch TV. I'm also still thinking about the story and the characters over a week after I finished the book, which says a lot. So, I'm going to try to keep this short, but I really doubt that's happening.

Forbidden is like an emotional train wreck. You know what's coming but you also know you can't stop it…all you can do was sit back and watch and wait for the inevitable. I thought the author caught the character's emotions and desperation so wonderfully. And speaking of characters, Lochan and Maya were so great, it was hard not to fall in love with them both. They were completely selfless, thinking only of their family and each other. I loved how each character's role was clearly defined. Lochan was "the boss." He had been the authority since their dad left. He was the strong one who wasn't supposed to show weakness. Maya was the peacekeeper. She always knew what to say to diffuse a situation and make everyone feel better. Kit was the troublemaker, always questioning Lochan's authority and angry at life. Tiffin was the easygoing one, and Willa was the "baby." They each played their role well throughout the story and you really got a feel for each individual personality.

“We can love each other.' I swallow hard to ease the constriction in my throat. 'There are no laws, no boundaries on feelings. We can love each other as much and as deeply as we want. No one, Maya, no one can never take that away from us.”

I love, love, love that we got both Lochan and Maya's points of view. This detail really makes the story what it was. The emotional punch would not have been quite the same without the ability to know what each one was thinking and feeling throughout the story. I'm sure it would have still been good, just not great. We really needed to be inside both of their heads, so I'm really glad we got that so we could understand that they both knew what was going on was wrong but in the end they were powerless to stop it.

I've read in other reviews that people thought the first half of the story was slow, and I would agree, but only to an extent. Even though there was no action/adventure, it was still very interesting to read. We really needed that backstory to understand that this book also isn't about two people who just met and fell in love. And this book isn't just about incest. That happens, it's in the story, but it is not the whole story. This story is about two people, brother and sister, who leaned on each other for support, who only had each other, who couldn't count on anyone else, who fell in love with each other. We got to see the whole backstory on how things happened and why and got to see the gradual change in their relationship as well as their fight against that change. We got to witness their eventual heartbreaking downward spiral. We got to see them before, when they were just brother and sister, and I think that that detail right there really made this book what it was.

And yet through all this, the writing was very simple and easy to read. The story flowed smoothly and was easy to follow.

“Willa’s big blue eyes, Willa’s dimpled-cheeked smile. Tiffin’s shaggy blond mane, Tiffin’s cheeky grin. Kit’s yells of excitement, Kit’s glow of pride. Maya’s face, Maya’s kisses, Maya’s love.
Maya, Maya, Maya . . .”


So in the end, after falling in love with these characters, all I wanted for them is to have a happy ending. Of course, that's almost impossible with their situation, but I was still deeply saddened by the ending. That says a lot about a book right there…when you feel emotion for the characters.

So, long story short, thank you to the author for writing this book and I am grateful I took the time to read it.


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Dark Light of Mine by John Corwin

Dark Light of Mine (Overworld Chronicles #2)Dark Light of Mine by John Corwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second installment in Corwin's Overworld Chronicles series is full of action, adventure, romance (but not the mushy kind), and humor. Picking up where book one left off, the action starts in the first chapter and doesn't let up. We follow Justin and his friends (Elyssa) as they strike out on new adventures.

I love that story is written from a male point of view. That's not something you see often enough, and it is a nice change. The story itself is unique and fun. The world Corwin created in this series is incomparable.

Justin, our main character, is so much fun. I absolutely love being in his head. I love that, although we watch him grow and mature throughout the story, he always stays true to who he is and what he believes.

I am a huge fan of Corwin's writing. His electrifying plot twists and fast pacing are sure to keep the reader turning the pages.

Warning: This series is addicting.

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Improper Relations by Juliana Ross

Improper RelationsImproper Relations by Juliana Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun short story featuring Hannah and Leo. Hannah had been taught that a wife's duty was basically to just tolerate her husband. She had never experienced any personal pleasure from sex and didn't even know it was possible. When Leo offers to teach her a thing or two, she realizes she wants to know everything.

This was a quick, easy read told from Hannah's point of view. The story flowed smoothly, the characters were likable, and the sex scenes were sensual. I think the author did a great job with the setting descriptions and the vocabulary of the characters, making them seem real to the time era. I also liked the timeframe of the story. Rather than having everything happen in a few short days, it was drawn out so their relationship was able to develop over time; not an easy thing to do in a novella.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and will be looking for more from this author.


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Afterlife by Eric Edstrom

Afterlife (The Undermountain Saga, #2)Afterlife by Eric Edstrom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in The Undermountain Saga was just as captivating as the first. Afterlife continues the story of all of our favorite characters from Undermountain, beginning about six months after the first book, as well as the return of our favorite bigfeet. The story begins with a bang and continues with fast-paced adventure throughout.

I can't give enough praise to the author's descriptive writing style. He really knows how to manipulate words to bring the story to life and bring emotion and personality to the story. The characters are fun and unique. Even the villains in the story are so alive that you want to read more about them.

I absolutely love the world these books are set in. The creativeness and complexity of the society is so much fun to read about, and the myths and legends are blended in nicely. I am very much looking forward to the next book in Undermountain series to see where the characters are taken.


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Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12)Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I enjoyed reading this book, because I love the Sookie saga, I was a bit disappointed with this one. There seemed to be a lot going on, but nothing really happened (except for one scene at the end). There was a lot of filler in this book, a lot of loose ends to tie up. I believe the whole series could have been wrapped up with this book with just another chapter or two added. As I said, I love Sookie and would love the series to continue, but there comes a point when a story needs to end, hopefully while it is still ahead.

That being said, Sookie had a lot to deal with in this book. She had a lot of time to think about her relationship with Eric and a lot of time to think about her humanity and what she wants out of life. She also had to deal with betrayal from ones she loved and trusted. All in all, even without all of the action and excitement of the previous books, I think this book was a good setup for the end of the series, which I am very much looking forward to.


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What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

What Kills MeWhat Kills Me by Wynne Channing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What Kills Me is not just another vampire story…I promise. The story is unique, fast paced, action packed, suspenseful in all the right places, and laugh out loud funny.

Axelia (Zee) is a 17-year-old girl studying abroad for a few months. She takes a chance on a guy who she figures she'll probably never see again, and it ends badly. Now thrown into the world of the paranormal, Zee must figure out how to survive as a vampire; not an easy task when just about everyone you meet is trying to kill you.

I love the characters, especially Zee and Lucas. I really loved their relationship and how it evolved over time. There was no love at first sight, no instant attraction. The way the author brought them together slowly made everything seem more realistic, and the back and forth between Zee and Lucas was hilarious. I loved Zee's personality. She was a great character and easily likable. I am looking forward to the next book in the series to find out what happens!

Check out our interview with Wynne Channing:
http://makingconnectionsgroup.blogspo...

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

September Book of the Month Contest

Here it is folks!  I thought we'd have a little fun with this month's challenge :)

Here's what you do:

1.  Find the answers to the crossword puzzle.  You can't actually do it here on this page, but you can write your answers down. 

2.  Message me the answers (1-8) on Goodreads.  Follow this link here to be taken to my profile.

Easy peasy, right?  Oh yeah, to make it easier, all the answers are words from the book titles of September's BotM picks:

City of Glass
Beautiful Disaster
The Moon Dwellers
The Immortal Rules

I think that's enough hints.  Good luck! 

Don't forget to enter part 2 for an extra chance to win!  Follow this link to go to the contest page on Goodreads.

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WHAT YOU WIN:
The winner of this contest will win a copy of one of Shut Up & Read's October books of the month in the format of your choice (ebook, paperback, hardcover).  I will pick one winner using Random.org on September 30!  Good luck!!

OTHER RULES:
There is no age limit. HOWEVER, you must get permission to participate from a parent or guardian if you are under 18! If you win and choose a physical book I will need your mailing address, so ASK FIRST!  This is international, so go ahead and enter!

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ACROSS
1. Living forever; never dying or decaying.
5. Inhabitants: people who inhabit a particular place.
6. A hard, brittle substance, typically transparent or translucent, made by fusing sand with soda, lime, and sometimes other ingredients...
7. A sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.
8. The financial and commercial district of London, England.













 
DOWN
2. Behave or move in a listless and aimless manner.
3. A set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.
4. Pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.