Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review–Stolen (Women of the Otherworld #2) by Kelley Armstrong

Stolen (Women of the Otherworld #2)
by Kelley Armstrong
Summary: It was in Bitten, Kelley Armstrong's debut novel, that thirty-year-old Elena Michaels came to terms with her feral appetites and claimed the proud identity of a beautiful, successful woman and the only living female werewolf.
In Stolen, on a mission for her own elite pack, she is lured into the net of ruthless Internet billionaire Tyrone Winsloe, who has funded a bogus scientific investigation of the "other races" and their supernatural powers. Kidnapped and studied in his underground lab deep in the Maine woods, these paranormals - witches, vampires, shamans, werewolves - are then released and hunted to the death in a real-world video game. But when Winsloe captures Elena, he finally meets his match.  Source: I purchased a paperback from a used book store.

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I enjoyed Bitten, but I admitted that I wasn’t sure where the story would go in the next installments. And when I began Stolen, new types of creatures were introduced. I felt like I went from a story about only werewolves to a story involving everything with no warning. But I kept reading, curious to see where the story would go with the new creatures. And I’m glad I did.

Stolen was incredible and devoured it. I loved the plot and I thought it was interesting to see Elena cope with being held captive in the strange compound. She had to think about her alliances and figure out how she was going to get out, along with coping with the new creatures she learned about. Suddenly, she wasn’t the only powerful female in the world.

I thought Stolen was an improvement from Bitten because there was so much action and so much hanging in the balance. However, I do still wish I had more werewolf background before being introduced to new creatures in the world. I also wonder how future novels will be able to top the action and dire situations in Stolen.

One of the more exciting things about Stolen was finding out about the existence of other types of supernatural beings, some of them women like Elena. I thought she would bond with some of them and for awhile, it appeared she understood Cassandra. I was a little disappointed by the direction of the book after Elena’s capture in this regard. All of the powerful women turned out to be less than ideal people and I kind of hate that because I thought maybe Elena could would benefit from having some good powerful women to befriend, learn from, and give advice to. And if that isn’t the point, I’m confused about the name of the series.

I definitely recommend the series so far and I’m excited to continue, despite my concern about where it will all go. It’s always like this for me at the start of a long series.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review–Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1)
by Kelley Armstrong
Summary: Elena Michaels is the world’s only female werewolf. And she’s tired of it. Tired of a life spent hiding and protecting, a life where her most important job is hunting down rogue werewolves. Tired of a world that not only accepts the worst in her–her temper, her violence–but requires it. Worst of all, she realizes she’s growing content with that life, with being that person.
So she left the Pack and returned to Toronto where she’s trying to live as a human. When the Pack leader calls asking for her help fighting a sudden uprising, she only agrees because she owes him. Once this is over, she’ll be squared with the Pack and free to live life as a human. Which is what she wants. Really.

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Source: I purchased a paperback from a used bookstore.  


I watched the show Bitten on Syfy first. I have had the books on my shelf for ages, but it wasn’t until I spent an afternoon watching my recorded episodes of the show that I realized I had to pull these books off of my shelf and read them. I knew from reviews that the show had changed a lot of aspects of the characters and plots, but a lot of it was the same, so it was easy to fall right into the book.

Bitten’s premise was unique. Elena was the only female werewolf and one of very few people to survive being bitten. And of course, it ruined her life. Some reviews of the book hate that Elena followed a pattern of hating her otherworldliness and trying too hard to be normal, but I actually understood it. Elena wasn’t born into a life and desperately wanted out. She was forced into it, struggled with her feelings about it and thought that she could try to carve out a normal life for herself away from the Pack.

I enjoyed Bitten and will definitely continue the series. I’m really eager to see where it goes. I felt like Bitten had a satisfying conclusion, so I’m a little anxious about what will happen next and if I should have bought so many of the next books in the series.

Sometimes, I think a person’s opinion about a movie or show has a lot to do with what they experienced first.. because I think I like the show better. There was a lot more in the show about dynamics of the Pack, history, backstory, etc that the book didn’t have any of. Even Elena’s life in Toronto was more thought out and rooted. I don’t know if the show borrowed from the other books too in the first season or if they just made stuff up, but I really need some more backstory of the characters in order to love this series. However, I have discovered most urban fantasy/paranormal series I read I am always a bit Meh and on the fence for the first 1 to 2 books, so this is nothing new. I will continue on and see how I feel!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Review–Between the Stars and Sky by David James

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Between the Stars and Sky
by David James
Summary: Between the Stars and Sky is a vivid, standalone contemporary novel from Young Adult author David James.
In the small, lakeside town of Huntington, the Firelight Festival marks the end of summer. A time to laugh, to live, to love. And for Jackson Grant, it is a chance to begin again.
But there is a darker side to the Firelight Festival, a deadly tradition known as the Firelight Fall. A secret game. A legendary lie. A test of bravery. Those who fall risk everything, and Jackson is on the edge. Until he meets a girl who pushes him over.
For Jackson, falling for Sarah Blake might be as dangerous as jumping in the Firelight Fall. As summer burns away, Jackson and Sarah ignite an unstoppable love game. For her, his heart is on fire. And soon, Sarah shows him life, saves him from loss, and opens his heart to an infinite and wild love found between the stars and sky.
Lyrical and deeply romantic, Between the Stars and Sky is a poetic and heart-stopping read for fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and E. Lockhart.

Source: I received a digital copy of the book from the author as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

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Like the author’s other novels, Between the Stars and Sky was lyrical. The writing was very poetic and descriptive. You could highlight just about every sentence because it just captures something so deep. Not a single word was wasted or used to describe some silly little action. And like the author’s other books, Between the Stars and Sky was mostly from the male point of view which is something a lot of readers probably aren’t used to in contemporary (or any kind of) romance. Jackson was vulnerable, hopeful, poetic, and incredibly romantic. I love the author for this reason because he is never afraid to show off the sensitive and vulnerable side of a guy’s emotions when he’s falling in love.

Despite enjoying the book, I do warn that you really have to be in the mood to read the book (or any of the author’s books). His books can’t be read quickly or halfheartedly. They demand a slow read because each sentence tries to linger. It can be frustrating if you’re in the mood for a straightforward story, but it can be beautiful and inspiring if you’re in the mood for his lyrical prose.

Between the Stars and Sky is like a piece of super rich chocolate cake. You have to take slow bites and savor each one or it will be much too rich and heavy to enjoy. And if you’re in the mood for quickly snacking on M&Ms, you won’t enjoy it or appreciate it at all. That’s the best way to describe the book.

I recommend Between the Stars and Sky, especially if you’re a fan of introspective prose. The characters don’t just reflect, they live inside of their emotions and feelings. They treat each moment like it could be their defining moment and aren’t afraid to be romantic about it. Nothing about the characters is ordinary or run of the mill, which can be a nice change from the other cotemporary romances on the market.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book to Movie Review–Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Movie Summary (from IMDb): With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.

Book Review:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Book to Movie Thoughts:

I went to the theater on opening night. I wanted to sit in a theater with people who had no idea what was going to happen next. I was afraid over time the plot would be spoiled and everyone would know the plot within a few weeks. Having watched the reactions of people reading the book, I expected the same sorts of shock and disbelief in the theater.

The movie was pretty good. The casting of Nick was perfect, as Ben Affleck played the likeable husband that you also can’t stand because he’s such a schmuck. I think every character was casted perfectly except for Amy. And she was only half bad because she played the other half of her role perfectly. I knew it would be hard to be satisfied with the chosen actress because her character was so complex. I thought the movie turned her into a colder, bitchier version of herself in her diary and it made the rest of her personality easy to predict. The book was so much better in this regard.
The movie captured so much of the twisted plot and characters of the book. In almost every way, it was well done. Only minor changes were made, mostly to the details of certain events, but the overall event was still much the same.

I only have two complaints. One, the biggest twist and most major moment was so predictable in the movie. Maybe I just knew it was coming. Maybe Amy’s diary had more of an impact on me in the book. But even the people I was with guessed the next part and that was such a disappointment. The twist in the book floored me absolutely and I wanted the movie to do the same. The movie did a better job in forming the final moments of Nick and Amy, but missed the mark with the beginning of the lives and the impression they gave to one another and to the audience.

My other complaint involves another aspect of the book that the movie didn’t quite hit. The writing was incredible. Nick hit the nail on the head with so many of his reflections on life, marriage, and today’s world. Amy’s cool girl passage was so spot on. And the movie tried to hit those moments in the narration, but I think it was hard to do it as well as the book. For that reason, I think skipping the book in favor of the movie would be a huge mistake. You just don’t get Nick or Amy without the book.

As I suspected, the internet is filled with Gone Girl spoilers and disgruntled people who were mad enough about the ending to spoil it for everyone else. I’m glad I saw it before any of that happened. I don’t understand what it is about twists that gets everyone so mad, but those same people complain about predictability. The movie audience is a lot harder to please sometimes than readers, but both seem to prefer endings and stories that follow a pattern instead of breaking the mold and that’s a shame. Gone Girl was awesome!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review–Between the Spark and the Burn (Between #2) by April Genevieve Tucholke


Between the Spark and the Burn (Between #2)

by April Genevieve Tucholke

Summary: The conclusion to Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, this gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier is a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures and Anna Dressed in Blood.Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.
The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own …

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Between the Spark and the Burn was the conclusion to the series. I wasn’t sure if I would read it, but I was left with a lot of curiosity after Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The characters and the abilities they have were intriguing.

Between the Spark and the Burn was pretty well done. While I still have the same issues as I did with the first book in terms of how it was written, I was already expecting the same writing style, so it wasn’t hard to adjust. Sometimes, I felt like Violet’s narration worked well even though it was so simplistic as times. I’m conflicted about it, but the writing style had me flying through the pages and maybe that’s the point.

This duology is creepy without being enveloped in a million plot points. Sometimes, horror books are so full of the unbelievable and the endings always end up being convenient or some events seem far fetched once explained. But these books are so subtle. Crazy things happen, but the books don’t try to shove explanations down my throat. Everything just lingers. It’s like biting into something and letting the flavors roll around on your tongue for awhile. It’s that kind of story. And maybe, if you think about it too much, you might decide it doesn’t make much sense. But at least it doesn’t try to.

I recommend the books, but I think you have to like horror and lyrical prose. Not blood and guts and ghosts horror, but the eerie and unknown horror. The Poe-like horror. These books are weird and incredible and full of emotion. After reaching the end of the duology, while I enjoyed this installment, I wish it would have been a standalone. No answers were given and I would have preferred the way I felt at the end of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea to the way I feel now. But I suppose I’m glad I read both.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review–Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1)
by April Genevieve Tucholke
Summary: You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.
Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?
Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.
Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is one of those books I kept touching and putting back and touching and putting back at the bookstore. The cover is gorgeous, the story sounded dark and twisted, and the title was so poetic. I didn’t want to buy a hardcover because of the price, so I finally snatched it up once I saw the paperback at my local Barnes and Noble.

How do I begin? The book was written well, but simplistically. As far as the way the narration unfolded, it could fit in the Middle Grade category. Which is fine, since I do enjoy Middle Grade fiction, but the plot was very much romance based and not really appropriate for younger readers. Violet struggled with her feelings for River. For the first time, she felt understood and like she belonged, plus she was feeling a slew of other emotions she couldn’t figure out. Literally the entire plot is about Violet’s feelings for River and their interactions were much too advanced for any kind of Middle Grade fiction novel. It wasn’t anything too far fetched for YA, but I didn’t feel like I was reading a YA novel.

Even though the plot of the novel was romance based and the main character’s focus was on River, the love interest, it was an awesome novel. Suddenly, strange things were happening in the town of Echo and River was somehow a part of it. He was dark, mysterious, and the things he was making Violet feel were just as dark and mysterious. I loved their chemistry and the way Violet struggled with her emotions. I loved the additional characters that came about later on the book. I couldn’t stand Luke or Sunshine, but the way Violet felt about them helped the reader get a grasp of Violet herself.

Once I got used to the simplistic writing, I devoured the novel. I loved it, loved River and Violet, and loved the infusion of dark magic. I almost one clicked the sequel, but then I had to go to work. And once I got to work and had some time to mull it over, I realized it wasn’t a big deal to read the sequel and I’d rather not spend the $10 on the kindle version. I'm curious, but not enough to buy the sequel.

The plot was great, the characters had potential, but I wish the novel was written for adults. I wish the writing was more complicated, the characters older, and the exploration of feelings more explored. As a MG/YA novel, it didn’t make much sense and didn’t resonate with me as much as it could have. However, I would still recommend the book, I don’t regret my purchase, and my finger my end up clicking that Buy button for the sequel.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review–Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4)
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Summary: Is death the end . . . or only the beginning?
Ethan Wate has spent most of his life longing to escape the stiflingly small Southern town of Gatlin. He never thought he would meet the girl of his dreams, Lena Duchannes, who unveiled a secretive, powerful, and cursed side of Gatlin, hidden in plain sight. And he never could have expected that he would be forced to leave behind everyone and everything he cares about. So when Ethan awakes after the chilling events of the Eighteenth Moon, he has only one goal: to find a way to return to Lena and the ones he loves.
Back in Gatlin, Lena is making her own bargains for Ethan's return, vowing to do whatever it takes -- even if that means trusting old enemies or risking the lives of the family and friends Ethan left to protect.
Worlds apart, Ethan and Lena must once again work together to rewrite their fate, in this stunning finale to the Beautiful Creatures series.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Beautiful Redemption was incredible. The layout and pacing were completely different from the other books in the series, which made sense after the events of Beautiful Chaos. Some parts of the book were Ethan’s point of view and others were from Lena’s point of view. I loved the direction of the plot and the journey Ethan had to go on to figure out how to find his way home.

Beautiful Redemption was more entertaining than the other books because I felt like it gave me as many answers as questions instead of leaving me more confused. All of the threads of the story came together quite nicely in the finale. I liked having conclusions.

Ethan’s journey, though perhaps a bit boring for some, was incredibly interesting to me. I love books that involve traveling through the Underworld. I am always fascinated by these journeys and looking for connections to different types of mythology. Ethan’s underworld was such an awesome blend of elements from Gatlin, the South, the Greats of Amma’s persuasion, and the Caster world. I loved all of the elements and the way some of them mirrored other mythologies.

I understood Ethan’s motivation and I loved that he was so focused on the task. Even though his journey was to get back to the love of his life, I felt like his narration was less whiney than it has been in other books. It was as if losing everything gave him enough motivation to focus instead of worry all of the time. He wasn’t worried about Lena. Instead, he was determined to get back to her. I like the Ethan who doesn’t worry and freak out all of the time.

I really liked what the story did with the problem of dark casters. I feel like, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you are dark or light. It matters what you do. I always hated the way dark casters were just suddenly terrible and you had to cut them out of your life. The story was always heading in that direction with Lena being on the fence, Ridley’s involvement, Genevieve’s story, and even the flashbacks from Sarafine. It took forever to get there, but I’m so satisfied with that conclusion.

I closed Beautiful Redemption with a smile. It ended so well. I loved the characters, their reflections, and I love that Ethan had some respect for Gatlin in the end instead of hating it. I highly recommend the series because it was so much more than a paranormal romance. It took forever and some of it was tough to wade through, but the last two books really stood out to me and made the series worth reading.