Friday, August 22, 2014

Review–Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

by Elizabeth Scott
Summary: Life. Death. And...Love?
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.
Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

Source: I received a copy from NetGalley

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Heartbeat was fantastic. I enjoyed the unique premise, the mix of strong emotions going through Emma, and the way her relationship with Caleb blossomed through grief. I do want to warn people that the novel is extremely depressing throughout most of it. It’s a novel about dealing with grief and loss, along with the nasty rage and frustration that comes with it. It doesn’t try to be funny or quirky about it and the writing reflects Emma’s emotions quite well. It can be a real downer to read if you’re easily swept up by the emotions of a narrator. It was very good and worth the read, but I'd hate to see negative reviews of it due to not being in the right mindset for the book.

I loved the way Emma narrated. While her situation was unlike anything I could even pretend to relate to, I felt like maybe I understood her. I was a teenager when my mom and stepdad were having a baby and I remember the rage I felt about being replaced or swept to the side and Emma felt that way about her stepfather. I understand the way that anger, jealousy, misunderstanding, and stubbornness affects teenagers because I was one and I thought the author did a wonderful job with conveying Emma’s emotions.

I knew Emma’s view was probably warped by her own tunnel vision and perspective, but her view wasn’t farfetched. She wasn’t overreacting so much as forgetting about other perspectives, which I thought was pretty believable. I was captivated by her pain and rage. When she crossed paths with Caleb, they both shared understanding of loss and grief and anger and immediately connected. I loved watching them grow with each other and find solace with each other.

When you go through something that is hard for people to really understand, being understood becomes so important. Finding Caleb was exactly what Emma needed in order to finally put things in perspective. It’s like your brain just relaxes once you find someone who understands you and I think that’s what was so beautiful about the story. It was a kind of down and depressing narration, but it was hauntingly honest and beautiful.

“He looks at me like I am beautiful, and when he does, I am.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review–Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #4)
by Maggie Stiefvater

Summary: A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.
Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

Source: I received a copy from NetGalley

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Sinner is a standalone novel, but it’s best read after Forever, the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. It isn’t necessary to reread the whole trilogy before reading Sinner, provided that you slightly remember how it ended in regards to Cole and Isabel. Cole and Isabel certainly had some unfinished business when the series ended, but the series wasn’t really about them so much as it was about Sam and Grace. In Sinner, Cole and Isabel are the main characters and it’s truly their story. Sinner has completely different emotions than the other three books, too. I think part of that is due to the setting and the characters themselves, as neither are the same type of people as Sam and Grace. I enjoyed Sinner a lot. I liked the differences, but I was expecting something different because I knew it was about Cole and Isabel.

The author has a way with words and is always able to conjure up images and emotions that floor me. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series had me on the verge of tears and feeling so… nostalgic.. and it wasn’t a sad book! When I read The Scorpio Races, I could almost smell the sea. And when I read Sinner, I could feel the loneliness, rage, and hope that the characters felt. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s certainly a talent.

Cole ended up in LA, partly to do music, but partly to see Isabel. He needed her in ways he wasn’t used to needing people. And she needed him, too, but was so terrified of needing him and falling for him. She created a life for herself in LA and Cole’s presence threatened to undo her careful mask of indifference. Cole agreed to be on a reality show where nearly ever participant had failed or become a disaster after taping. With Cole’s history, the world, Isabel, (and myself as the reader) wondered if Cole would once again end up face down on the floor. Would he break in the land of temptation?

The relationship between Cole and Isabel was… well.. them. They’ve always had weird magnetism, snarky comebacks, and moments of sweetness peppered in. It was a roller coaster, but enjoyable. I loved being along for the ride and I’m so glad the author decided to write this one. It gave me some sort of closure and I didn’t realize how much I needed that!

I highly recommend this book. And I’m totally one of those people who hate spin offs and when series continue without the main characters and I usually refuse to read them. But I love Maggie Stiefvater and, while I haven’t devoured EVERYTHING she has written, I am never disappointed by her books. I think she’s one of the most talented authors out there.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7)
by Ilona Andrews
Summary: No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…
As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.
As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Wow. Magic Breaks was absolutely incredible!

I have no idea how the series has gotten better and better with each book after 7 books, but it has. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and thought the events were unpredictable. I loved that Magic Breaks began with a short summary of the previous events. While I just got finished reading 1 through 6, I know when I go to read book 8, I’ll appreciate any and all summaries to catch me up. The author didn’t do it through the first few chapters in that annoying way that some series do where the main character talks about the powers she has and the friends and relationships she’s made. When we read series, we know the major points, it’s the finer details we forget! Instead, the author gave us a quick summary through the eyes of Barabas recapping the last book quite simply. I applaud the author for the efficient way she chose to handle that and I hope the next book includes a good summary like that.

Magic Rises had quite the plot and adventure, so things were pretty crazy and shaky at the beginning of Magic Breaks. Roland would come for her (and Atlanta) eventually and I knew all signs were pointing to it happening in this installment. The first half the of the book, Curran was basically absent taking care of Pack business, while Kate was left to hold down the fort. Which meant we all knew something epic would happen and Kate would be left to deal with everything.

It seems the general consensus is the first half of the book wasn’t that great. However, I did enjoy the events and I think Kate grows as a person each time she’s left without Curran. She struggled with decisions and ended up making decent ones at every turn. While there were scenes that didn’t move the plot forward all that much, I think having the set group of people around Kate during a lot of her battles changed perspectives. We know Kate, but the rat alpha made some pretty good points when he said he felt left out of important decisions and felt alienated. I think having him along gave us some different views and showed us how, while we know Kate and can’t understand why people have a problem with her, perhaps they have legitimate concerns.

I enjoyed the scenes with Kate and Ghastek because, while Kate hated the Masters of the Dead, her and Ghastek always had a good relationship. Based on the events of Magic Breaks, I would not be surprised if Ghastek lends her his help (on a permanent basis). He seemed like he still had some moral fiber.

It was obvious to me in Magic Breaks that Kate and Curran were the real deal. It seems like some readers were so upset about the events in the last book, but I understood Curran and I felt like he did explain the situation well enough to be forgiven. And going through that situation strengthened their relationship, as Kate didn’t once walk around doubting their relationship. She only speculated about his safety instead of where his heart was.

The epic showdown I’ve been waiting for since the beginning was awesome. It was unlike anything I expected. I was extremely worried that Kate would meet Roland and defeat him on some technicality, which wouldn’t have been fair. We already know she’s not as powerful as him and I thought there was really no way for her to have defeated him. Her fights with Erra and Hugh had plenty of close calls, even when Hugh was holding back his magic, so any close fight with Roland would be unbelievable. Obviously, I want Kate to win, but I was worried the author backed herself into a corner she wouldn’t get out of without some sort of hidden magical ability suddenly appearing. Instead, the showdown went in a completely different direction and now I’m more intrigued than ever. The last half of the book was AMAZING.

And the ending? Wow.

I love this series. I never expected it to become a fast favorite, especially when I thought the first book was simply intriguing. It has gotten so much better with each book. I love so many aspects of the story and it’s damn good storytelling. I can’t get enough and I cannot wait for the next book. It’s a definite must read series. Seven books sounds daunting, but they are worth the read!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Review–Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews

Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6)
by Ilona Andrews
Summary: Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.
Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.
Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Magic Rises was epic. I absolutely love the series.

When Curran explained to Kate what the mission would be in Europe, I thought it sounded pretty interesting. They had to be careful not to attack anyone, though they fully expected to be insulted. What I wasn’t prepared for was how agonizing it would be, especially for Kate.

I spent so much of the novel aggravated, but in a good way. Kate was aggravated and she was trying to keep her cool, despite being insulted constantly in the castle. Protecting a pregnant shapeshifter, trying to uncover who was a threat, worrying about Curran, being insulted by nearly everyone aside from a couple of her guard, and finding out it was all elaborate ruse to bring her toe to toe with Hugh was seriously stressful. I could not figure out the motives of anyone.

I am so invested in the characters of the Kate Daniels series. I was eager to figure out what on earth happened to Curran and why he was hurting Kate. How could he not see how she was feeling? It was driving me mad. But I also noticed how, despite Kate feeling more alone than ever, the rest of the Pack gained even more respect for her as she stood her ground. Most of the Pack liked her, but the few who weren’t sure definitely became sure in Magic Rises.

I don’t want the series to end. I love the characters, the setting, and the plot. I recommend the series and I am glad I finally picked it up. And right on time, too, since the latest book just released!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review–Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)
by Ilona Andrews
Summary: Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.
Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.
So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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I am so in love with the Kate Daniels series. I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good after Kate and Curran admitted their feelings for each other and ended up together because so much of what I enjoyed was their chemistry and sarcasm. I was definitely proven wrong. Kate and Curran still have their own feisty chemistry and it’s almost better now. She never stopped busting his chops and being difficult.
I feel like the plot is heading towards something epic. Each book involves plot that place more and more groups of people in danger. I wonder if Kate will get her showdown with Roland. It certainly seems like she’s gearing up and the rest of the people are slowly figuring out who she is and what she is capable of.
I highly recommend the series. I’m incredibly invested in the characters and I love seeing each adventure unfold. Kate becomes a character I love more and more as time goes on. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the series ends. I need more, even after 5 books.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday–Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read

Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read
books I own, but am not sure about anymore

1. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I bought it when it was on sale for Kindle, but I hear so many mixed reviews. I’m not sure that I’ll even like it!

2. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. I have it, but I haven’t wanted to read it, yet.

3. The rest of the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I own the full series, read book 1, loved it, and then I can’t seem to get in the right mindset for the rest.


4. The rest of the Maze Runner books by James Dashner. I loved the first book, but I stopped for some reason and I’m afraid the rest of the series won’t be as good.

5. Monument 14 Emmy Laybourne. I bought this during my must-devour-dystopia phase and I just don’t know if it’s any good.

6. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. YA novels with cool concepts are tough for me to read because if I don’t see enough hype, I wonder if they are mediocre.

7. Origin by Jessica Khoury. Same reason.

8. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger. Same reason


9. The Providence Trilogy by Jamie McGuire. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Beautiful Disaster books, but I (and don’t hurt me for saying this) don’t think any of her novels are well written. I’m scared to try yet another book of hers.

10. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa. Honestly, I loved The Immortal Rules, but I have this terrible feeling she will end up with Zeke, who I don’t like because he was just too optimistic and religious and na├»ve to me and I am terrified to continue the story and be disappointed by a series that I hold pretty highly in my head.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review–Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4)
by Ilona Andrews
Summary: Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.
Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Magic Bleeds is my favorite of the series so far and it has definitely cemented my love of the series. What started out as a “maybe” series to me has rapidly become a favorite. I love the action, the unique world, the main character, all of the supporting characters, the romance, and the plot. I love that the series is adult, but it’s fairly clean and the character isn’t up her love interest’s ass and they aren’t having sex on every page. It’s not really like YA, though, as Kate is an adult, has adult responsibilities, and struggles with life. It's the perfect adult series if you want a good story with romance without it being a "paranormal romance" novel.

Magic Bleeds did have a bit more focus on the relationship between Kate and Curran, but after the events of Magic Strikes and Curran’s proposition that if he found her before 72 hours, she would need to make him dinner, one of the clear mating signs of the Pack, I knew that there were some details that this book would have to hammer out.

Kate wasn’t used to having friends, relying on others, or caring about the welfare of others. It went against everything she was trained for as a child. In the previous books, she began to slowly make friends, care, and admit to herself that she did, in fact, have feelings for Curran. In Magic Bleeds, Kate realized she needed to start including the people she cared about in her life and battles.

The Pack definitely had some strange social mating rituals, but mating with an alpha was even trickier, as it meant proving yourself, becoming an alpha, too, and presenting a strong show of force as a team. It was difficult for Kate to accept all of it, especially when it put the Pack in danger as result of her past. The villain causing the problems in Magic Bleeds also put a lot of stress on Kate because of the connection to her past.

I definitely recommend the Kate Daniels series. I’m loving every book and the series gets better and better as I read on.