Sunday, December 28, 2014

WILLOWGROVE by Kathleen Peacock

Rating: A-
Release Date: 1/6/14
Willowgrove is Kathleen Peacock's riveting conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy, a dark, romantic, paranormal suspense series that pits friendship against survival, and trust against love.

Ever since Mac's best friend, Amy, was murdered, Hemlock has been a dangerous place. But now that Mac, her boyfriend, Kyle, and Amy's ex, Jason, have investigated a mass breakout from Thornhill, a werewolf "rehabilitation" camp, the danger has only grown. Fear of the infection spreading is now at an all-time high, and anyone with a scar is suspected of being a wolf.

What makes Mac even more afraid, though, are the dark experiments that the warden of Thornhill was performing on wolves in a secret asylum called Willowgrove. Uncovering the truth about what happened may be the only way for Mac to save everyone she loves and end her nightmares for good.

My thoughts on the book:
Willowgrove is an excellent conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy. Each of the characters evolved into terrific and interesting people. The story itself was full of action and adventure, with a side of romance. Relationships changed, betrayals happened, and none of the characters came out of this story unscathed. This book was full of many surprises, and Peacock's writing was captivating. I really enjoyed this entire trilogy.

Mac really shined in this novel. She became fiercely independent, but still caring. That's a hard balance to maintain, and Peacock handled it wonderfully. I really liked Mac as a narrator, and I was able to relate to her just enough to trust what she said. Kyle was a bit boring, in my opinion, in this novel, but I still liked him because he's such a good guy. Jason wasn't around much, but he really grew throughout the course of this book nonetheless. By the end, I could barely recognize him from the arrogant, selfish Jason that we first encountered in Hemlock. Serena also displayed a lot of strength. I really admired her. Amy's ghost/Mac's dream version of Amy also grew a lot, which was a nice surprise.

The story itself was fast-paced. One event after another happened that kept me turning the pages. Some truly awful things happened, and Peacock did an excellent job of showing what happens when hate, fear, and bigotry control a nation. It's important for us to remember that. This story definitely needed to be told. Aside from illustrating how horrific people can be when they're scared, this book did something that's almost unheard of in YA lit... it solved a love triangle without having a wishy-washy heroine or over-dramatic events happen to solve it for the heroine. Mac chose who she wanted on her own, and I loved that. I hate when authors take the easy way out of situations they created. I really loved the sci-fi spin on being a werewolf in this trilogy. That was unique. The fact that it was a disease instead of some paranormal manifestation changed a lot of things, and that was refreshing. The ending itself was conclusive, and I felt like that chapter of Mac's life had ended, but it was also open-ended. Mac hadn't made any definite plans for her future yet. Everything was still up in the air. I kind of liked that kind of ending. It left me with a feeling of hope for Mac and company.

Overall, I'd recommend this book and trilogy to anyone who wants a new spin to werewolf tales. This series is extremely entertaining and makes some really important points about society and how we can become better people. It's rare to find a book that can both entertain and make important statements. This is a definite must-read.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

OPPOSITION by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: A-
Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can't believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

My thoughts on the book:
Opposition was an excellent conclusion to the Lux series. I absolutely loved every book in this series, and I am sad to see it end. However, this was a fantastic ending. The characters all grew organically throughout this story, and the pacing was spot on. The action scenes kept me on the edge of my seat, and the romance scenes were equally sweet and steamy. JLA did not disappoint with this installment. 

Kat was an inspiration in this novel. She was amazingly strong and selfless. I want to be like her when I grow up! She went through a lot, and my heart broke for her several times, but she persevered, and I respected her for that. She didn't let what monsters did to her turn her into a monster, too. That kind of inner strength is hard to come by and very inspiring. Kat is the perfect YA heroine because of that. Daemon also grew up a lot in this book. I was glad to see that he was becoming less controlling. Being with Kat was good for him, apparently. He made a lot of sacrifices for Katy, and he stood up for what he believed was right. Daemon was somehow able to balance his intense love for Kat and his desire to stop the world from ending. Most characters can't do that. Dee was a wild card in this book. I really liked seeing different sides of her character. I wish we'd gotten to know more about Archer and Luc, but unfortunately there just wasn't enough time to spend on them while the world was ending. 

I always enjoy JLA's writing, and this book wasn't an exception. My one problem with the writing was that the characters said the kind of dorky catchphrases sometimes. I felt that each character should have their own vocabulary when it came to things like that. However, her descriptions were amazing, and I could picture the horrific sights of the alien apocalypse. I also enjoyed reading things from Kat's and Daemon's POVs. It was easy to distinguish between the two most of the time, too. Armentrout always writes the best romance scenes, and these were no exception. Her action scenes were also top notch. I wish that we'd understood more of why the Luxen wanted to take over Earth instead of another planet, though. Since they had been spread out all over various universes, I don't understand why they wanted Earth so badly. That's the only part I really found lacking. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and series. If you haven't read the Lux series yet, you're missing out. I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but I loved these books. If you like sci-fi at all, give the first book a try. I guarantee you'll love it. 

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Friday, December 19, 2014

CREATORS by Tiffany Truitt

Rating: B
The dramatic conclusion to the Lost Souls trilogy, which answers readers’ questions and finally pits natural Tess against the true enemies of Templeton, the creators

Heartbroken but more determined than ever after a tense showdown in the woods, sixteen-year-old Tess once again returns to the safety of her community of Isolationists. Bolstered by new alliances and desperate to protect those she loves, this time she knows she can return stronger and more powerful than ever to take back what is hers. As she trains in combat and grows more confident, Tess receives beautiful letters penned by her forbidden love, the chosen one James, from his prison in Templeton. He is now serving as a bodyguard to the creators-the team of scientists who created artificial life in the first place. And what he has discovered about the true origin of the illness that halted natural life could change everything. Enemy will become ally and death will bring new hope in this stunning conclusion to Tiffany Truitt's epic Lost Souls trilogy.

My thoughts on the book:
The first thing that crossed my mind when I finished Creators was, "why? Why did you have to hurt my feelings, Tiffany Truitt?" I mean the ending was good, and this was a fantastic conclusion, but it was sad as heck. The character growth was excellent and organic; the plot was intense and full of emotion; the writing was beautiful; and the ending tied everything up nicely. Still, I just don't see why it had to be so sad. Sigh. 

The characters all evolved a lot n this novel, and I felt like Tess really came into her own. She impressed me time and time again in this book, and she really showed her strength toward the end. Tess did what she had to do to protect the people she loved, and I really admired her for that. She had a nice balance, and wasn't completely selfish, like some characters are. Tess understood sacrificing for the greater good, but she also wanted to protect those closest to her. The constant struggle between the two ideals was interesting to read. The other characters all pretty much broke my heart at one time or another. They were all realistic and flawed and wonderful, but they really crushed my soul. 

The plot was amazing, and I flew through this book. I had to find out what happened next. Truitt balanced everything wonderfully. The pacing was perfect. Nothing was rushed, and I never got bored. The action and romance scenes were realistic and natural. Nothing felt forced. Truitt's writing really captivated me, too. She words things so beautifully. I can't wait to see what she writes next. The ending crushed my very essence, and I hated it and loved it at the same time. I like when authors don't go easy on the reader, but it really didn't have to be that sad. Sheesh. Things were tied up nicely, though, and nothing fit neatly into a little box. I liked that.

Overall, this series was fantastic. I really loved all three books, and I can't wait to see what Truitt comes up with next. If you're looking for a dystopian series that stands out from the rest, give this one a try. You won't be sorry. 

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Monday, December 8, 2014

UNCHOSEN by Michele Vail

Rating: C+
I thought the worst of my reaper training was behind me… turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. 

Molly Bartolucci has done a lot of growing up but after being accused of using illegal magic at her school for necromancers, reaper-in-training Molly is treading lightly. As the destined leader of Anubis’s Chosen, she needs to study hard, train harder, and stay out of trouble. 

Uh, right. 

It doesn’t help that she’s feeling more than academic about her melt-your-bones hot reaping instructor, Rath. And if her relationship drama isn’t enough to drive her over the edge, she has to deal with mother issues, nosy little sisters, suspicious friends, and an unnamed force stalking her at school. 

Then her family is attacked, and her bio-dad ends up comatose in the hospital. Now, Molly has to uncover who’s trying to hurt her loved ones—and all without the help of Anubis.

My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed the story that Vail told with this novel, but the typos really ruined it for me. I would have rated the book an A had it not been for those. The plot, pacing, and writing were fantastic, and the characters were fun to read. The world-building continued, and the book itself was really good. If you don't mind typos, you'll fall in love with this novel. 

Molly is a fun character with a lot of sarcasm, and I really enjoy reading from her perspective. She deals with things very well, and she grows a lot in this book. Molly really learns what's important in her life, and she learns that she must make sacrifices. I'm happy with the direction in which her character is going. I wish Rath had been more present in this book. He's such an interesting character, and he's good for Molly. I really enjoyed learning more about Barbie, though, and the grandparents are much deeper than I originally thought. 

The plot is fast-paced and kept me interested. Vail's writing and descriptions are pretty good, though lacking in some areas. The story itself is a solid one, but the typos really detract from it. Sometimes characters' names were switched. For instance, Vail calls Rath Ralph in one sentence. Also, tenses switch randomly throughout the novel. There are duplicate words, as well, such as "He ran to to the other side of the street." That's not a direct quote from the book, by the way, I'm just giving an example of what was going on. Also, the back of the novel said that the next installment would be out in March of this year, and it's not out. I hope that the third book is released. I have to see what happens next with Molly since this one ends on a cliff hanger. Aside from the typos, I absolutely adored this book, though. I grew to better understand the world that Vail had created, and the characters and plot are evolving naturally. Nothing seemed forced. I really hope there is a third book. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book, and series, for people who are looking for something a bit different from your usual necromancer novels. This involves Egyptian mythology, which is a nice touch, and it makes it stand out. 

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

INTO THE NIGHT by Suzanne Rigdon

Rating: C
When Selina Baker, a coordinator for a Boston non-profit, goes out on the town with her friend Jess, she never expects to meet the man of her dreams. And she certainly never expects him to be undead.

When things go from flirty to majorly flawed on her first date with James Lawton, he is forced to save her the only way he can--by killing her. Selina suddenly finds herself in the mix with the creatures she thought were made up solely for late-night TV. Into the Night follows Selina’s transformation from a wallflower into an impulsive and dangerous new vampire. With no choice in the matter, Selina becomes trapped between a new man, his wary brothers, and his cruel and controlling Queen, who wants nothing more than to watch her suffer. Selina must walk the fine line between adjusting to her new powers, life after death, and following the rules--all while avoiding disaster.

My thoughts on the book:
Into the Night was a decent urban fantasy offering, but it didn't really stand out. The characterization wasn't spectacular. None of the characters was really easy to relate to for some reason. The plot was a bit confused at times, and some of the occurrences were simply impossible, even in fantasy. The pacing was a bit slow in places, and the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger. The romance was lukewarm at best. I'm not sure if I'll continue this series or not.

I liked that Selina wasn't simply another detective or investigator of some sort because that is way too prevalent in the urban fantasy genre, and she was a likable enough character, albeit boring. All of the characters were kind of shallow. I mean they were fine, but they didn't grab me. No one's emotions made sense to me, and I couldn't relate to any of the characters. I just couldn't make myself get 100% invested in what happened to any of them. Even when something tragic happened to one of the characters, I was unmoved. Selina also annoyed me a lot. She was impulsive, and her emotions didn't really fit any normal pattern. She just didn't seem to feel enough, if that makes sense.

The plot also had quite a few rough spots. Some of the things that happened were simply unbelievable - like the how Selina turned into a vampire. If James was a vampire and really fast, why did he just stand there gawking when she got stabbed? Also, how did he manage to kill those two people violently, in front of witnesses, and have nothing happen to him? I know this is fiction and vampires existing at all isn't realistic, but I wasn't able to attain a willing suspension of disbelief because of that. For the life of me, I couldn't understand how these dead bodies kept piling up and no one did anything about it. None of the vampires was very good at hiding his prey, so how did no one end up in jail? That distracted me a lot. Also, the world-building was unclear. Nothing was ever fully explained. It felt as if the author herself wasn't sure what the world entailed. On top of that, Selina's and James' romance wasn't really believable. It also wasn't exactly steamy. It bored me, to be honest. There was no chemistry at all between the two of them. I just didn't buy it. The writing was mediocre, and the pacing was off. Also, the falling action lasted too long and ended in a cliffhanger. I really didn't care if it was a cliffhanger or not because I don't really care what happens to any of the characters since I couldn't connect with any of them.

Overall, I'd say check this one out from the library before buying. The premise is a good one, and the novel itself isn't offensively awful or anything, but it's nothing that will blew me away, either. The problems mentioned above really bugged me throughout the course of the book, but I was interested enough to finish it, so that has to mean something, right? And I wasn't irritated at the book when I got done, so that's a good sign. I'm just not very excited about this one. At least it was something a bit different.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DOG WITH A BONE by Hailey Edwards

Rating: B+
Half-bloods with Thierry’s skill set are given two options. They can join the conclave’s marshal program, or they can pack their bags. Turn down the job offer, and you’ve just shredded your residency pass for the mortal realm and booked yourself a one-way ticket to Faerie.

Texas is the only home Thierry has ever known, and she’s not going anywhere. Even if it means following in her notorious father’s footsteps as a peacekeeper. But pinning on the badge opens her eyes to the fact sometimes fae need protection too, and that sometimes humans are the real monsters.

My thoughts on the book:
I always enjoy Hailey Edwards' books, and this one was no exception. My main complaint is that it was too short! I flew through the pages and wanted more. The characters were realistic and likable, and I found myself really rooting for Thierry and Shaw. I wish that she'd added a bit more world-building, but I'm excited to see what the next book brings.

Thierry was an interesting character, and she had a really dark past. I liked that about her. I hate when MCs seem perfect. She wasn't so tormented that she was angsty and whiney, though. She was very strong. I think Thierry was a good balance and remarkably well-adjusted, considering her life. Shaw was a bit more complicated, in my opinion, but I liked him quite a bit. He made for a good love interest, and he also wasn't angsty and angry, even though his past was also rough. The secondary characters weren't around a lot, but they were a colorful group - each one had his or her own personality, and I loved it. I can't wait to get to know them more.

The pacing and plot were fantastic in this novel, but the world-building was lacking, in my opinion. I still don't fully understand Thierry's gift - what are the runes for? I get that her left hand kills things and that her powers are growing, but I'm still confused about what she can do. I don't think Thierry knew all there was to know about her powers, either, though, so I'm hopeful that more explanations will be given in the next installment. Also, I would like to know more about the different types of fae and what their powers are. I just didn't feel like I understood the world fully. Of course the book was so short that there wasn't much room for world-building. The next one is supposed to be longer, so things should be explained in more detail. The romance in this book wasn't as hot as the romance in Edwards' other series. Every time it started to get steamy, something interrupted. Things were a bit sweeter and more genuine because of that, though, in my opinion. I'm looking forward to seeing where Shaw and Thierry go from here. The ending tied things up from this book, but set the scene for the next installment, which I can't wait to read.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who are tired of the same old paranormal romances. This one was a bit different and the characters definitely stand out in a good way.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

SUSPICION by Alexandra Monir

Rating: B-
Release Date: 12/9/14
A modern-day twist on the classic thriller, Rebecca, with a dash of the supernatural, a powerful romance, and a deadly family mystery. 
“There’s something hidden in the maze.” 
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.

Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.

My thoughts on the book:
In a genre where a lot of books are carbon copies of each other, Suspicion stands out. I've never read a book quite like this one. It's quite different, even from Rebecca, though I do see the comparisons. There were parts of this novel that seriously creeped me out, and the mystery and realistic characters kept me reading. I was dying to see what would happen next. There were some parts that didn't fit, but overall, this was an excellent read. 

Imogen was a great leading character. However, the first chapter where she was ten years old didn't read like it was from a ten year old's perspective. Monir should have made her voice more child-like in that chapter to make it believable. It was more acceptable for her POV to read like an adult's once she was seventeen. Unlike a lot of leading characters, Imogen was extremely self-aware. She wanted to do what was right. She also knew how she felt and what she wanted, even if she felt guilty for wanting the things she did. Sebastian was a good leading male, and he was very sweet. He clearly had a lot going on, and I felt like we didn't get to know him as well as we should have. Theo was also interesting, and I would have liked to have seen more of him. The other characters were unique, and they seemed realistic, but they didn't really grab me the way these three did. 

The plot was extremely complex, and some parts of the story seemed more like plot devices that organic occurrences. For instance, Imogen's power was extremely interesting, and I would have loved to have seen more about it, but instead it was only used sparingly to move the plot along. It never really caused any problems, and she mastered it really quickly for not even having to practice. It just didn't ring true. Also, the huge plot twist at the end threw me, and it didn't really seem to fit. There weren't enough hints indicating that this was the case. Even thinking back, I can't really see how the plot twist fit. There just needed to be more there. All of these issues aside, the story and plot kept me reading, and I flew through this book in one sitting. I had to see what was going on in the mysterious Rockford Manor. Also, Monir's world-building was fantastic. I felt like I was in the English countryside at a huge castle-like mansion that had more than its share of ghosts. The romance was sweet and believable, but I don't feel like we got to see it develop enough. Again, it just felt like there were chunks of its story missing (like with the big plot twist and Imogen's powers). I just wish we'd been shown more of it and maybe less of Imogen's life in NY. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you're looking for something different that will hold your interest, look no further. However, there are some incomplete story threads in this book. It bothered me some, but they weren't so incomplete or lacking that I'd consider them plot holes. I just wish we'd had more information. Either way, I enjoyed the novel, and I'm sure most of you will, too. 

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