Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Darkness (Brookehaven Vampires, #2) by Joann I. Martin Sowles


Title: Darkness
Author: Joann I. Martin Sowles
Publisher: Brookehaven Publishing
Pages: 295
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Source: Author
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

Not long ago, Laney Alexander was living a carefree life, that is, until she was thrown into a world full of creatures only the imagination thought possible. Now, after surviving a terrifying night, Laney and Oliver are lying low at Julz's place, relieved to be in each other's arms once again. But fate seems to have other plans...

Julz is not happy to have visitors in her home and emotions run high. Laney is pushed to her limits as she watches Carter fight for his life and her relationship with Oliver becomes strained as she discovers secrets about Julz that could tear them apart.

As she reaches her boiling point, disaster strikes and her life is shattered. Laney must come to terms with what has unfolded. Will she lose her way and let the darkness consume her or will she find her light in Oliver?

Secrets will be revealed. Hearts will be broken. Lives will be lost. Darkness will fall.


Darkness is the second installment of the Brookehaven Vampires series by Joann I. Martin Sowles.  The first installment, Laney, got me hooked on this series and Darkness definitely fed my addiction!  Darkness picks up where Laney left off (on a cliffhanger, of course!) and dives right into the story.

In Darkness, Sowles offers the reader a lot of background information that helps make the Brookehaven world much more detailed and defined.  Throughout the course of the book, we learn more about Oliver and his family: Issac, Hayden, Julz, and Felix.  Oliver is gorgeous (as always!) and brooding, and cares so much for Laney, his love, that he keeps secrets from her that makes the reader feel the urge to continue reading, so more secrets can be discovered.  Laney is naturally smart, witty, and funny in her narration which provides relief when things get too serious.  Oliver is charming and caring, which makes him totally swoon-worthy! I really enjoyed the character development in Darkness, as well as the development in Laney and Oliver's relationship.  The one question that was constantly in my mind was: Will Laney become a vampire?  I don't think I could take it if anything ever happened to my favorite literary couple.  I hope you're reading this, Ms. Sowles!  *cough*

I really enjoyed Darkness--it seems as if the books get better as they're written, and I hope this pattern continues!

I highly recommend the Brookehaven Vampires series if you're a fan of paranormal romance!

Buy Laney (Brookehaven Vampires, #1):
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Buy Darkness (Brookehaven Vampires, #2):
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Torn (Trylle, #2) by Amanda Hocking, Book Review


Title: Torn
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 324
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5

When Wendy Everly first discovers the truth about herself—that she’s a changeling switched at birth—she knows her life will never be the same. Now she’s about to learn that there’s more to the story…

She shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined—and they’ll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers—and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who’s strictly off limits…and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction.

Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Wendy must decide her fate. If she makes the wrong choice, she could lose everything, and everybody, she’s ever wanted…in both worlds.


Torn is the second book in the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking.  Check out my review of Switched (Trylle, #1) here.

Torn picks up shortly after where Switched left off, with Wendy and Rhys escaping from the Trylle compound of Forening.  Shortly after, a lot of action and drama ensue!

I really enjoyed Torn significantly more than the first installment in the trilogy because I felt Torn exhibited much more character development and delved deeper into the world of the Trylle.  I was really displeased the protagonist, Wendy, in the first book because I felt she complained much too often and kind of acted like a spoiled brat; however, Wendy really matured over the course of the second book, which I really appreciated.  The one thing that I really enjoyed about Wendy was her classic sense of humor--she's so cynical and full of snarky retorts, which I really like in my protagonists. There's a lot of action, adventure, and drama in this trilogy which really grabs the reader's attention and doesn't really let go.  I'll admit, there were a few parts in the middle of the book where I felt a tad bit restless, but I was propelled forward by the pace of the plot and my investment in the lives of the characters.

I like most of the characters in the Trylle trilogy, especially Wendy, Rhys, Matt, Finn, Rhiannon, and Loki, a new addition to the trilogy who makes his debut in Torn.

If you're a fan of action, adventure, and fantasy, I highly recommend these books for you!

                                                         *      *      *

"Prepare to be enchanted…Switched by Amanda Hocking is a fast-paced read thoroughly laced with action, adventure, fantasy, and romance. Hocking has created a magickal world that I am excited to return to and will definitely be following Wendy and her gang of friends throughout their spectacular journey into the world of Trylle."
--Casey's Crew, on Switched

Buy Switched (Trylle, #1):
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Buy Torn (Trylle, #2):
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The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1) by Kelley Armstrong, Book Review


Title: The Summoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 390
Release Date: March 31, 2009
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

After years of frequent moves following her mother’s death, Chloe Saunders’s life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, and meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she’s not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts–everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.

At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe’s small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home–charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a “thing” for fire–Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn’t your usual “problem kid” behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either…


The Summoning tells the story of a teenage girl named Chloe Saunders who has always felt different and out-of-place until she moves to Buffalo, New York and starts attending an art school. Just when she thinks she's found a place where she belongs, supernatural occurrences occur and Chloe begins to see ghosts, although her paranormal gift is branded as mental illness and she is shipped off to Lyle House, a group home for troubled teens. Upon arriving at Lyle House, Chloe knows something isn't quite right and she sets off to discover the truth behind Lyle House...

I absolutely loved The Summoning!  I really enjoyed the protagonist, Chloe, and her narration felt very relatable and accessible.  The characters were great because they seemed like real people, and I pictured them so clearly in my head.  As the story progresses, the characters develop and I really enjoyed seeing them grow and evolve into stronger characters.  The Summoning is driven by its fast-paced plot; there is literally something constantly happening!  I never once felt bored or restless while reading The Summoning

While I do enjoy romance in books, The Summoning doesn't revolve around love and romance (i.e., Twilight).  The Summoning is filled with action, adventure, with a hint of romance, and I highly recommend it!

Buy the book:
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Infinite Days (Vampire Queen, #1) by Rebecca Maizel, Book Review

Title: Infinite Days
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

“Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than you... no one.”

Those were some of Rhode’s last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face.

It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste.

Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust.

I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn’t Rhode.

But Justin was... daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream.

I never expected to be sixteen again... then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me...



I know what you're thinking: Great, another vampire book--so predictable.  Well, no.  Infinite Days is different than any other vampire book I've ever read, and I loved it!  The book chronicles the life of a 592-year-old vampire named Lenah Beaudonte who, through an ancient ritual, is changed back into a human after centuries of living as an evil, bloodsucking immortal.  Lenah then relocates from her home in England to a fancy boarding school in New England where she meets a human named Justin and falls in love with him.  Justin awakens something in Lena that she never knew she possessed and she begins to learn how to live and love again.

I found Infinite Days to be very original while sticking to traditional vampire lore.  Maizel exhibits dark, macabre imagery in her novel reminiscent of Anne Rice's beautiful, seductive immortals which I found very appealing.  The protagonist, Lenah, was very relatable (even though she was a human turned vampire turned human...again.)  Lenah was a very strong narrator, and I really enjoyed seeing this beautifully twisted world that Maizel created through her eyes.  I also loved the characters of Rhode, Lenah's vampire soul mate; Justin, Lenah's human lover; and Tony, Lenah's human best friend.  I felt very strong character development throughout the novel, which is always appreciated, and I admired Lenah's strong-willed personality and her tiny quirks and idiosyncrasies.

As I read Infinite Days, I felt constantly encouraged to read by the interactions between the characters, lovely narration, and fast-paced plot.

I highly suggest that you read Infinite Days if you haven't already--there's not one single thing I didn't like about this book.  The sequel, Stolen Nights, is available now and the third and final book in the trilogy is expected to be released in 2014.

Buy Infinite Days (Vampire Queen, #1):
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Buy Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen, #2):
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hidden (House of Night, #10) by P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast, Book Review


At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet's evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side -- but she's far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world. First, a mysterious fire ravages the stables. Then, Neferet makes a devastating move that will test them all.


With the seeds of distrust sown and Darkness breeding chaos at the House of Night, everyone must band together -- but that's proving to be more difficult than ever before. The twins are barely speaking and the House of Night's former enemy, Kalona, has now become their warrior, pushing their trust to the limit. To top it off, Zoey is pretty darn sure she might be losing her mind. She saw something when she looked at Aurox through the Seer Stone that she can hardly explain to herself, let alone her friends. Is it possible that Heath has come back in a different form? Is that why Zoey's so intrigued by Aurox, when it's so obvious that he's dangerous? And who would believe her if she told them? Zoey knows that following her instinct about Aurox might be just what they need to defeat evil . . . but if she's wrong, it could cause the destruction of those closest to her.

With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it's too late?  
Title: Hidden
Author: P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Release Date:
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4.5/5

The tenth book in the bestselling House of Night series picks up where the ninth book, Destined, left off.  (If you have not read Destined, I'd recommend you not read the rest of this review!)  The last time we saw Zoey and the rest of the Nerd Herd, Zo's mom had just been brutally murdered by Neferet as a sacrifice to Darkness and the gang attempted a ritual at Grandma Redbird's lavender farm to purify the land and find out what exactly happened to Zoey's mother.  Neferet tried to stop Zoey and her circle from performing the ritual with the aid of Aurox, a half-boy, half-bull creature born from Darkness, created by Neferet to do her dirty work.  After a showdown at Grandma Redbird's, Destined ends and then there's where Hidden picks up.

I loved Hidden, and I think it's one of the best House of Night books in the series.  I saw some major character development, especially in Zoey, which I appreciated, and I felt as if we were finally getting somewhere with the plot now that the Vampyre High Council is aware of how totally evil Neferet is.  I never felt bored or forced as I was reading and I even found myself staying up really late just to find out what was going to happen next.  I was constantly on the edge of my seat in anticipation and I was really pleased with what P.C. and Kristin created.  If you are caught up with the House of Night series, you have to pick up Hidden A.S.A.P.  And if you're a HoN virgin, you have totally been living under a rock and must get started on this awesome series RIGHT NOW!

Hidden was dark, seductive, and filled with action, adventure, and romance.  I can't wait for the next installment in the House of Night series!





Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interview with L.B. Schulman, author of LEAGUE OF STRAYS


1. Tell me about League of Strays. How did you come up with that story angle or idea?


Answer: I was fascinated by how Columbine came about and what motivated those two boys to do something so horrific. As it turns out, one of them has since been declared a sociopath. It seemed like that one boy influenced the other, which also intrigued me. I also wanted to write something that highlighted revenge as being its own form of bullying.



2. How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (YA-lit)?

Answer: I have always loved to read YA. I don’t even read adult fiction anymore. I just enjoy the quirky, exciting, adventurous lives of YA characters. As a writer, I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else. (Except for middle-grade, of course, but that's YA's sibling.)



3. What kind of research did you do for this series?

Answer: I spoke to police officers and lawyers, to make sure the ending was as realistic as possible. I also researched the viola so I could capture Charlotte's feelings about music. But I also drew from my own experience playing violin as a teenager.



4. What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

Answer: I am inconsistent, though I wish I could say otherwise. Some days I don't write at all, and others, I write for eight hours straight. I live a busy life with kids and other responsibilities and sometimes, I can't squeeze in the hours to write. That is why this book took me so long to write...two to three years to get the first draft done and more to revise. I write in my living room on the couch with my laptop.



5. What is the hardest/easiest part of writing for you?

Answer: It’s hard to begin my writing day when I don't feel inspired. But I know from experience that I need to motor through that lethargy and just start. Soon, I will be on a roll. The easiest part is when my characters seem to write the book for me. My fingers just dictate what they tell me.



6. What’s the best thing about being an author?

Answer: For me, it's being able to pass along my world views through writing. If I have an important thought that I want to share, my characters can help me. As an author, I get to choose the theme and so writing the book is pure fun. I love what I do.



7. What are you working on now?

Answer: Another contemporary YA with a very cool hook. But I don't like to talk about my books until I've written them, because I am always changing my mind about the plot until it's done.



8. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Answer: For most of us, it takes a really long time to be published. Don't give up. Read, read, read. My writing really improved when I started reading a YA every week. And get a critique group. Their reactions have really helped me refine my writing.



9. Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?

Answer: I like so many books, it's impossible to say. I find wonderful qualities in almost all of them. I could never pick just a few.



10. What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

Answer: What is the number one quality that a person needs to succeed in anything he or she attempts? Perseverance. If you keep knocking, they will answer eventually, even if they are only doing it because they are annoyed with you! 



11. If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Answer: Keep on Knocking: The L.B. Schulman Story (title inspired by previous question.)



12. Is League of Strays being made into a movie/TV series? If you got the opportunity to cast the characters, whom would you choose and why?

Answer: Well, the book would have to be hugely popular for that to happen, I think. I’d take either of the Fanning sisters, or Drew Barrymore as a teenager, for the role of Charlotte. For Kade, I’d have to say Robert Pattinson. Yes, I know: he’s Edward Cullen, and Kade on my cover even resembles him. But still, those eyes and that intensity. Yeah, he’d be good. Real good.



Flash Questions:

1. If you could trade places with a person for a single day, who would it be and why?

Answer: I think it’s hard to be a celebrity, so I really don’t want to be one, even for a day. Everyone has his or her struggles, and no one lives a perfect existence, so I will stay in my own body for now.



2. What was the last movie you saw?

Answer: Oh, you would have to ask this. I am so embarrassed. Gulp. WAYNE’S WORLD TWO. But hey, it was Inappropriate Movie Night at my house. That title came from my constant admonition that such and such movie was “inappropriate” for my children, but I was seriously outvoted so many times that we now make a night of it.



3. What is your biggest TV addiction?

Answer: The Biggest Loser (inspiring while I do my elliptical) and American Idol. I also like any paranormal show, like Touched or reruns of The Ghost Whisperer. I don’t watch much TV though, because I get easily addicted to junk, and it’s a huge time waster.



4. Guilty pleasure?

Answer: Lattes, all day long. And chocolate bits: milk chocolate, not dark.



5. Fruits or veggies?

Answer: Mangoes and avocados….the ones with the most calories possible.



6. Favorite childhood toy?

Answer: My counting jump rope. I liked trying to beat my own records.



7. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Answer: A hard-boiled egg, a latte, and then an hour later, a bowl of Cheerios. I eat all day long. Hard for me to write without food nearby. Bad habit, I know.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2) by Jennifer Estep, Book Review


I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...

Title: Kiss of Frost
Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Pages: 354
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

I have read my fair share of books written by authors who try to take myths and legends and transform them into their own modernized mythological story.  Whether those books are good or not, well, we won't get into that. But I can personally guarantee that there is no "mythological retelling" book out there quite as original or well-written as Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep.

Kiss of Frost is the second book in the Mythos Academy series, so if you haven't read the first installment, Touch of Frost, it'd be a good idea to click off this review until you have.

Kiss of Frost opens up shortly after the ending of the first book and, as per usual, Estep has you hooked from the very first page.  The first OMG moment happens when Gwen is nearly killed by an unknown assailant.  After the first attempt to take her life is foiled, Gwen starts getting paranoid and begins taking extra precautions to ensure her safety, but plays it off cool because she doesn't want to ring any alarms and upset her friends, Grandma Frost, or Professor Metis.  However, after the SECOND attempt at murdering Gwen is set into motion, Gwen uses her Gypsy gift of psychometry to get to the bottom of who's trying to kill her.  And what she sees in her vision gets the ball rolling and from that moment on, a chain of exciting, heart-stopping events take place and you literally will not be able to tear yourself away.

Now that I've cruelly teased you all with the passage (above), I'll talk a little bit about the rest of the novel.  First, the characters.  I'll admit, Gwen really annoyed me in the first book and I can honestly say I wanted to slap her around on quite a few occasions, but she completely changed over the course of the second book.  I felt as if Gwen matured a lot and really started taking her place as Nike's Chosen One seriously and stopped bagging on herself for not being "good enough" all the time--because it was really annoying, but that's what character development is for, right?  I really liked Daphne and Carson in this book, too.  I felt as if they were the perfect best friends, and I could definitely feel the sincerity in their friendships.  At first, Logan Quinn (totally hot Spartan playboy/warrior) really pissed me off until the very end of the book.  I didn't understand why he was being such an asshole to Gwen, but things cleared up and by the end of the novel, I had to profess my love for Logan.  All in all, the characters were great and they all felt very real and relatable, and I really liked that aspect of the book.

Next, lets talk about the plot, which I've already given you a taste of in the introduction.  OMFG!  I think that one single acronym should be enough to tell you all how crazy (in a good way!) this plot was.  Action, adventure, romance...what else could you possibly want from a book?!  The plot, characters, and chemistry of this book reminded me a little bit of the House of Night series, (minus the tedious plot line!)

I have to give Kiss of Frost a 5/5 rating.  It was THAT good.  I seriously can't wait to dig into the third and fourth installments, Dark Frost and Crimson Frost (December 24, 2012).

Buy the book: