Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers

The Cleaner of ChartresThe Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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Thanks for dragging me along through the most boring of stories. I really learned a lot and grew as a person.

The Cleaner of Chartres is about the quiet Agnes, found in a basket by a farmer. The slow and overwritten novel jumps from the present to Agnes past where we learn surprisingly little considering the mountain pages we had to get through for the information.

I stopped reading this book at least a dozen times telling myself to just give up. It wasn't going to get better. Then, finally at 54% stuff started to happen! Holy shit! Stuff is happening!

I should have just given up. I have a good nose for bad books. This one was just...listen, I congratulated myself for finishing it, okay. I'm fairly certain that I haven't high-fived myself for finishing a book since my junior year of college when I read The Wife of Bath for English Lit of the Middle Ages.

The Cleaner of Chartres is slow, over-written, and full of contradictions. Is Agnes a real person or is she a Mary figure? Is she both? Who knows. We certainly don't because (view spoiler)[the book just ends after Agnes makes a out of character declaration to Abbe Paul. (hide spoiler)]

This is not a horrible book, but it is a self-indulgent piece that goes nowhere.

ARC provided by Viking for review purposes in conjunction with

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never ListThe Never List by Koethi Zan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

Escape is just the beginning

The Never List
is a psychological thriller. When Sarah and Jennifer were in a car accident that resulted in the fatality of Jennifer's mother, and more than four months of hospitalization for the best friends, they created a list--The Never List. Filled with statistics that only an insurance statistician could love, the girls found a way to minimize their fears of victimization and helplessness. Unfortunately, in their first year away to school, the worst happens. The best friends are captured and held in a cellar by a sadist.

Sarah's Story

The Never List is told by Sarah, who tells us that she's escaped. Little by little we are told what occurred in the cellar, and who their captor was. Though it's been 10 years, for Sarah, it might as well have been yesterday.

Throughout the reading, I anxiously bit my nail, finally putting the book aside for hours at a time, such is the power of her story and the terror that she experienced. Fortunately, I sucked up my courage, otherwise I'd have missed an compelling story.

The Never List takes Sarah back to where it all began, and as one reads, they can't help be feel the tremendous fear the protagonist faces in her effort to redeem herself--for what, we aren't sure, but Sarah's guilt is just as prevalent as her fear. It is this theme of redemption that propels the plot along, because their captor has just gotten married. Sarah can't stand idly by while another woman walks into a fatal trap, especially if he is paroled.

The psychology at play in this novel is intensely frightening, so much so that there's little trust in any character. Paranoia runs high. Anyone could betray Sarah at any given time. Her phobias, which seem debilitating at first, start to seem like excellent choices.

If it were not for the deceleration of impending doom by what can only be described as easy outs, this book would be a four or five star thriller. However, it became apparent, at least to me, (view spoiler)[ that the author was not willing to hurt her protagonist. (hide spoiler)] When the theme began to overwhelm the action during the climax, the physical threats become less fear laden--less tangible.

The Never List is a fast paced thriller that allows readers to view the aftermaths created by the captivity of humans. Safe is only a word. Escape is just the beginning.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Outcast by Adrienne Kress

OutcastOutcast by Adrienne Kress

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 fangirl stars for Outcast

"To describe a kiss that was such a kiss would only be to diminish everything about it. The only thing to say about it is that it was."

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Before you say that you've read books that contain angels and nephilim and they didn't really work for you, let me say, forget it. Forget all of it.

Outcast is truly awesome.

Angels are coming to Earth and taking people from Riley's small southern town once a year. The first couple years, there was fear, but it was soon replaced by religious fanatics who saw the Taking as a Glory. But not Riley. Riley thinks the Taking and the Glory are bullshit. Last year the angels took Chris, Riley's first kiss and best friend. The taking this year will be different. Riley's pissed. Riley shot an angel in the face with a shotgun. The angel turned into Gabe McClure, who was Taken in 1956.

Outcast is a fantastic read full of Riley's unique dark humor, and Gabe's flirtatious wit. The sexual tension between Riley and Gabe is thick, but Riley is no dummy. It's going to take more than good looks, and 50's charm to let down her guard against something that's been taking the citizens of her town.

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Adrienne Kress has crafted a YA heroine that is smart, cunning, and honest. Riley shuns drama and follows her heart, avoiding cliche YA plot devices. But Kress goes a step farther. In Riley's character, other stereotypes prevalent in YA novels are shattered such as the quintessential cheerleading captain.

Adults and teens alike will revel in the friendship that grows between Riley and Gabe. Who couldn't sympathize with Gabe, who finds himself thrust into the future without family or friends? Certainly not Riley, who is the reason he's here in the first place.

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Outcast will have you up late into the night, so plan accordingly. This addictive read is sure to catch fire.

ARC provided by Diversion Books for review purposes, in association with

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Charlaine Harris Sucks Again

Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse, #13)Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

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Alisha: The fan who is neither crazy, nor entitled rants


So I've been on Amazon, watching the reactions. Lots of sock puppets and rabid Charlaine fans giving this turd 5 stars. Even Anne Rice is weighing in! I'm uber suspicious of all reviews that say, "She tied this up nicely, way to go Ms. Harris! and I look forward to reading the Coda in October!" Gotta hand it to Penguin, they are on top of this.

"Hey everyone! Look over here! Disregard the bad reviews. Those people are CRAZY!"

There's been a lot said about this final installment of Sookie. There have been angry fans, sad fans, furious bloggers, and Charlaine sheeple. Fans of Charlaine and maybe free speech? are calling the upset masses entitled and crazy. If you didn't like the book, you are a crazy Eric/Sookie shipper. Just check out the Wall Street Journal's crap article, How to Kill a Vampire Series if you don't believe me.

It's a mess. In the end, this will sell plenty of books, but a good portion of readers will remember that their emotional trust was broken. Say what you will, that is a legitimate feeling. There is a relationship between reader and writer and that is built on trust. When a writer chooses not to just add a twist, but to twist a knife into the reader, it's sometimes permanent.

(view spoiler)[The world of Sookie has changed. I've thought a lot about why Harris would write an arc that heavily favored Eric, then dismantle the entire work in three books. (hide spoiler)] My guess is that Harris, being tired of Sookie isn't in the same frame of mind she once was when writing the frisky waitress/telepath. Of course she isn't in the same place she once was. We change. What once was exciting and fresh, can become dull and stale. Likewise, with Sookie, Harris' ability to do what she wanted in light of True Blood, crazed fans, and simple boredom all took their toll on the work.

I've read books 1-9 at least five times each. 10-12? Why bother?

I'm not a whiny girl who didn't get her way.

I did not read this final installment and I don't plan to, but not for the reasons that you might think. I'm not an entitled douche bag. I don't want to make Harris my bitch. I've been known to read a book or two, and despite what Harris' PR camp is spinning, I won't be attempting suicide or threatening the author any time soon. Most likely, I'll just read something else.

Here's my complaints, since I know the ending and I've read all the reviews on Amazon.

Bad Plot Devices

Alisha takes offense. Harris thinks that (view spoiler)[ rape is a appropriate plot device, selling Eric into sex slavery for the next 200 years. Lets salt that and add that Pam is forbidden to go with him. What's troubling is that I doubt she would have made the same choice for a female character, because RAPE! Holy crap! (hide spoiler)]. Try saying that out loud to someone who hasn't read the books and see if they don't laugh at the absurdity of that particular choice. "She did WHAT to Eric?!?"

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1. I waffle between thinking that Harris hates her fame or or fans or the book. I can't tell which one. Then I think, no, she's just tired of it. But after her choices for DEA, I am back to thinking that she's a bit vindictive. Why? I haven't a clue. It could be the fans, or True Blood/Alan Ball hate. I can't say. I do feel her choices for Eric were vindictive. Let me restate that. I feel this. YOU are free to feel other stuff.

But Alisha! Wait! Harris can do whatever she sees fit. See my last comment, but also...

Sure, she can and she did. I ask you though, how did Moning conclude the Fever series? How has Gabaldon treated Fraser and Claire? How did Mead conclude Vampire Academy? You can literally insert any couple into this example and get a similar outcome. That outcome being that not everyone is satisfied with conclusions, but the readership did not freak the fuck out.

2. Harris wrote the love between Eric and Sookie. Eric always had Sookie's back even when she didn't realize it. He graveled her drive, and replaced her coat. He called her brave and self-less. He tried to protect her from a bond with Andre. Harris also wrote Sookie saving Eric. In those books, many of us became invested readers.

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3. Harris wrote the (view spoiler)[friend/boss/big brother relationship between Sam and Sookie. There was a kiss here and there, but we READ that it could never work because Sookie could hear his thoughts unless he was actively blocking her. But now, it's all good. Thoughts, shmoughts, is what I always say! (hide spoiler)]

4. Harris wrote that Sookie was worried (annoyingly concerned) that the bond between her and Eric was influencing her feelings of love, so much so that she broke the blood bond. And yet, Sookie is willing to overlook (view spoiler)[the use of the Culivial Dor on Sam because...we don't know. Sookie decided that reading Sam's thoughts didn't matter, so maybe it a new life choices/attitude thing. Maybe her clock is ticking? Settling worked well for Tara, right? After all, Tara has twins! (hide spoiler)]

5. Harris wrote Sookie as brave in the beginning and accepting of other supes because people had always treated her like crap. She was open to others, but now, to live a happy life (view spoiler)[ she must shun other supes and try to live as humanly as possible? (hide spoiler)]

6. I'm not okay with the way it ended for Eric. (view spoiler)[ Rape happens and so does sex slavery. I know it's just a book, but it leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. CH wouldn't make this choice for a female character, but it's okay for a man? *face palm* Just kill him off! This choice is cruel and the sex slavery is icky. We know what happened between Eric and his maker and we know he was abused sexually. (hide spoiler)] That was sad. Now it's full circle? Jesus. I just can't...

My hard-hearted husband laughed up when I told him what Harris did to Eric. He said I ought to charge Harris with committing a McMurtry in the first degree. If you don't know what I'm referring to, see Lonesome Dove and the sequel, The Streets of Laredo.

But wait! There's more weird plots! Why would Sookie's gay cousin, Claude want to (view spoiler)[ kidnap and rape Sookie? He was foiled by homophobes? Right wingers save the day! (hide spoiler)] Again, I didn't read this, but there are some heated rants of tumblr that are discussing this peculiar plot device.

If you don't want to end up a spinster, it's time to settle!

Back to my point. I'm not reading the book because Sookie isn't fun anymore. That character I loved has devolved into a bigoted old woman, hell bent on nitpicking every aspect of her life. Sookie settled! She settle for line dancing, kids, and casseroles. That is NOT BRAVE. Remember ladies, when a woman nears thirty, it's time to quit being picky. The music is about to stop, so pick a chair! Charlaine wrote that too.

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SVM books once involved a mystery, some witty banter, a bit of fantasy with a smidgen of lust. When it worked, it was magic.

Sadly, the magic is gone. Luckily, there are other books in the sea, err...library.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

The Exodus Towers by Jason M. Hough

The Exodus Towers (Dire Earth Cycle, #2)The Exodus Towers by Jason M. Hough

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zero G is such a pain in the ass.

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I need sci-fi and Jason M. Hough is my fix.

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How do a handful of humans stop the Builders before they finish what they started?

This second installment of The Dire Earth series, like the last novel, comes with a time table. The Builders are coming back in about 18 months, and what they'll bring this time, no one is sure. Speculation runs high, and nobody wants to talk about the possibility of total extinction. The Builders destroyed most of the human population, and those humans that remain, would like to live.

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Hough works his way through four different plots, which are tied together by Skyler, Tania, Blackfield, and Samantha. Skyler and Tania work in Brazil with the second elevator, while Sam is on the ground in Darwin and Blackfield is still king dick of space elevator one.

The Exodus Towers moves a bit slower than the first book, charging quickly through heavy combat scenes and alien discovery and dragging while our characters scavenge and maneuver politically.

The Exodus Towers is full of new alien surprises, none of which are good. I mean, they're bad. Like, really bad, and things are only likely to get worse. This is where Hough really shines. His world building is first rate. Add to that a really wonderful protagonist and you have a damn good story.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle, #1)The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Darwin Elevator: SciFi lovers look no further.

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This imaginative, action-packed gem ended my losing streak. I am by nature a scifi lover. Fans of Steven King will love this book.

The Darwin Elevator is another dystopian novel, but don't let that deter you. Darwin has something new to offer: a compelling plot, fantastic writing, and characters with substance.

Set nearly 300 years in the future, Darwin tells the story of Skyler, the captain of a scavenger ship who supplies the city of Darwin, Australia and the space elevator with finds located outside of the protective Aura that surrounds Darwin and the elevator.

The elevator was built by aliens, twenty years prior. Industry around the elevator exploded. Darwin became a hub of activity. Then the virus broke out. A gift from the aliens? The subhuman virus erodes the human brain, killing some, leaving others to function at the lowest levels. The Aura, which is given off by the elevator, acts as a barrier between the virus and the inhabitants of Darwin.

Hough has created a world the feels real because it's based on what we already know. For instance, some of the space level stations have ugly carpeting. Taking a climber to the first station takes 14 hours. Ah. I know this world. It's full of time sucking waits and ugly carpeting. It's these kinds of details that make a world real.

In addition to extraordinary world building, the characters make you feel. I wanted Skyler to be okay. Tania is brilliant but naive, from her life spent in orbit. I was forever suspicious of Prumble and Neil. Then there's Russell.

Russell mother f-ing Blackfield.

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I hate Russell. He's like Hitler of space.

That is why this is an amazing book. There are no meh feelings while reading The Darwin Elevator.

If you love an in depth SciFi thriller, I highly suggest The Darwin Elevator.

ARC provided by Netgalley in conjunction with Random House Publishing

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

The Office of MercyThe Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Normally I don't keep reading books that irritate me, but I just kept punishing myself with this gem of a novel.

I'm always wary of synopsis that promise that fans of awesome book, or awesome author with LOVE this novel. Apparently, fans of The Hunger Games should love The Office of Mercy. Well, I loved The Hunger Games?!?! Ergo, I loved The Office of Mercy. Uh, no. No I didn't.

The Office of Mercy is a dystopian that tells the story of Natasha, a citizen in America-Five. American-Five is a 305 year old post-storm settlement that "swept" 5.9 billion folks from the face of the earth. And by "swept," I mean bombed the earth back into the Stone Age. The Alphas, who established the community and the eternal life of the community, are stoked about this monumental achievement.

Oh, but wait! See, some super smart folks got away and lived. The Office of Mercy (yes, there's an office of just about everything, including government, agriculture, and the dumbest, exit) is changed with sweeping the remaining tribes that near their dome perimeter. The thought is that The Office of Mercy is dispatching the outsiders to a better place where they won't suffer. Gah. *eyeroll*

The premise is intriguing, but the execution is a total fail.

1. The book bugged me immediately. At first it was the name of our protagonist; Natasha. The author overuses the name to the point of distraction. Have you ever met a new mother who finds excuse after excuse to use their baby's name repeatedly because they like the sound of it? Natasha, Natasha, Natasha! I wanted to stab my eyeballs out.

2. There were info dumps concerning the emphatic code that the citizens follow so that they can murder and be super happy. The code could have scared the shit out of me, but instead it was YA simplistic and about as deep as a puddle. Since I'm an adult, and this is published by Viking as an adult novel, I had to rage a bit.

3. The terminology in any sci-fi can be hard to accept. I never accepted the vocabulary choices in this book. The elevator is called "the elephant," there is an office of everything, and they don't abbreviate. Seriously? When the citizens swear, they say, "By Alpha," or some such nonsense. It's truly obnoxious.

4. Natasha is only twenty-four, so it makes perfect sense that her love interest in the book is creepy older guy and her BOSS, Jeffery. Jeffery totes has a thing for Natasha and has since she was a little girl and he gave her extra chocolates. OOOOOH MY GOD! MY MIND!!!!! Jeffery is so not swoon worthy it hurts. I didn't buy their romance AT ALL. NONE. NO. Natasha is such a freaking Mary Sue and then she goes off with Jeffery and I had to scream. I didn't think her choices could get worse. I didn't, but then JEFFERY the creeper.

5. I haven't read pseudo science this bad since Feed, by Mira Grant. At one point, Natasha is injured and they doctor from the Office of Health tells her that she gave Natasha a few dozen bundles of nuero-synapses and 40 billion fresh blood cells. Wow! That sounds technical and completely legit.

6. The book has nothing new to offer us. 15% in and I was sure it was a bad rip-off of Under the Never Sky, which I loved. In UTNS, the protagonist lives in a dome, post-storm, has interactions with outsiders, and has access to a virtual world called The Realms. The Office of Mercy has The Pretends. Again, the name alone is painful.

7. Where is the scary murder government? Apparently, the same folks who built the dome don't keep tabs on their citizens very well because Natasha and friends can go in and out without detection. Really? These are the guys that killed everyone, but a handful of disenters and allowed to hold meetings in the library and nobody is monitoring the exits? Mmm, kay.

If it's post-apocolyse/dystopian you're looking for, just skip this one. There are so many good dystopians out there. This just isn't one of them.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was not a fan of Immortal Rules. I want to say that up front. I found the first installment of this series head-slamming dull. That kind of boredom that happens when you just don't care anymore. Kill everyone. Whatever.

That was not the case with book 2. I was shocked. The Eternity Cure has fantastic pacing. And, despite the gravity of the situation, TEC managed to be a less heavy and more lighthearted; a great improvement from the angsty book 1.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

3.5 stars

And All the Stars proves itself as an original plot with diverse and likeable characters.

The world is covered in a purple dust and there are black spires in major cities all over the world. People are dying, and those that survive and covered in stars or are stained green.

Madeleine Cost is at the epicenter of the invasion in Sydney. As a result, she is almost completely covered in stars.

Madeleine teams up with seven other teens and young adults who begin to refer to themselves as The Blue Musketeers. Madeleine and her new family of Musketeers must hide from the Moths who seek to possess their bodies.

And All the Stars is a lovely novel about strange new friendships and the love that develops during desperate times. In these young people, the seed of hope is nourished by the close bonds of love and a reliance in one another.

The novel is well written, and yet there were times that I was unsure who was speaking. Conversations between characters needed to be broken up some with action descriptions and with character names to increase the clarity as well as to help lead the reader along. The sheer number of characters made this a necessity that was not met as well as it might have been.

Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher and

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Books I Want to Read

This week I'm starting a new post dedicated to the books I want to read, but I'm reading other books right now. Let me assure you, dear constant reader, there are always books I'd like to be reading but can't get to right this minute.

#1 on the list for this week is by my dear Goodread's friend, Karina Halle's new novella On Every Street. It's her back story into the romance between Ellie and Javier from Sins and Needles, book 1 of the Artist's Trilogy.

#2 is actually #2 and #3. Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa and the sequel, The Eternity Cure are on my must read list. I want to say that book 1 was on my list to read last year, but was pushed to the side. Now I have the second novel in the Blood of Eden series, The Eternity Cure courtesy of, so the series just got pushed up. I'm hearing lots of good buzz about The Eternity Cure.

This beauty is due out on April 30th, 2013 according to Amazon.

Okay, so that's three lovelies I want to be reading. This of course doesn't mean that I'm not currently enjoying And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst or City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte. I'm loving both!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was unprepared for the emotional ride that is Me Before You.

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At its heart, Me Before You is love story. Twenty-six-year-old Louisa Clark hasn’t been anywhere really. Money has always been an issue, as Louisa helps to support her sister, her sister’s child, her parents, and her grandfather. But more than that, Louisa has been has let her lower middle class define her. She believes that travel, college, and other accoutrements of the educated upper classes are simply, “Not me.”

When The Buttered Bun tea shop that Louisa has been working in for the past five years suddenly closes, she is forced from her routine to find new employment. This bit of circumstance lands her squarely in the world of thirty-five-year old Will Traynor, a C5-6 quadriplegic, and forces Lou to rethink her safe choices. Will Traynor’s life, up until being hit by a vehicle was anything but safe.

The development of the friendship and eventual romance between Will and Lou is remarkably believable. Louisa, like most of us, is terrified by Will’s depression and sarcasm, but it’s Will’s attitude and Lou’s financial situation at home that forces her to reluctantly stay in her position as caregiver.

“Here’s what I know about you, Miss Clark. My mother says you’re chatty.” He said it like it was an affliction. “Can we strike a deal? Whereby you are very unchatty around me?”
I swallowed, feeling my face flame. “Fine,” I said, when I could speak again. “I’ll be in the kitchen. If you want anything, just call me.”

Will is often complete ass, but it’s difficult to blame him. He is at the mercy of his failing body; from pneumonia, to the pooling of his limbs, Will is in nearly constant pain. So it isn’t surprising that he is unhappy with the peacock-bright Louisa, busying herself in his space.

”I thought I’d see if I could fix any of these frames,” I said, holding one up. It was the picture of him bungee jumping. I tried to look cheerful. He needs someone upbeat, someone positive.


I blinked. “Well…I think some of these can be saved. I brought some wood glue with me, if your happy for me to have a go at them. Or if you want to replace them I can pop into thrown during my lunch break and see if I can find some more. Or we could both go, if you fancied a trip out…”

“Who told you to start fixing them?”
His stare was unflinching.

Uh-oh, I thought. “I…I was just trying to help.”

“You wanted to fix what I did yesterday.”


“Do you know what, Louisa? It would be nice—just for once—if someone paid attention to what I wanted. Me smashing those photographs was not and accident. It was not an attempt at radical interior design. It was because I actually don’t want to look at them.”

I got to my feet. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that—“

“You thought you knew best. Everyone thinks they know what I need. Let’s put the bloody photos back together. Give the poor invalid something to look at. I don’t want to have those bloody pictures staring at me every time I’m stuck in my bed until someone comes and bloody well gets me out of it again. Okay? Do you think you can get your head around that?”

I swallowed. “I wasn’t going to fix the one with Alicia—I’m not that stupid…I just thought that in a while you might feel—“

“Oh Christ…” He turned away from me, his voice scathing. “Spare me the psychological therapy. Just go and read your bloody gossip magazines or whatever it is you do when you’re not making tea.”

My cheeks were aflame. I watched him maneuver in the narrow hallway, and my voice emerged even before I knew what I was doing.

“You don’t have to behave like such an arse.”

The words rang out in the still air.

The wheelchair stopped. There was a long pause, so that he was facing me, his hand on the little joystick.


In the truce that occurs after this interaction, Will begins to treat Louisa like the fixture in his household she will become. With this shift in power, and as the weeks slip by, Louisa begins to look forward to her days with Will.

Moyes has written a novel that challenges the idea that we know what’s best for those in situations that mirror Will Traynor's. Even Louisa is susceptible to the notion that she knows what Will wants, her judgment—like that of his family, clouded by love and the ultimate fear of saying goodbye forever. What is a life after all? Is it an able bodied person’s right to decide for another what constitutes a life? Is love enough?

Further, Louisa and Will's affection for one another challenges the traditional notion concerning love. Will is determined to make Louisa see that he isn't fit for anyone's romantic feelings. Not surprisingly, Louisa has her own ideas concerning love.

Moyes beautiful novel, Me Before You, challenges us to ask who gets to decide what a life is? It is a deeply human book, both funny, and tragic that asks us, "What makes living worth it?"

Advance reader copy provided by Viking in conjunction

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

Angelopolis: A NovelAngelopolis: A Novel by Danielle Trussoni

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Angelopolis is a disaster of a book.

It begins well, with our hero from book #1, Verlaine, and his meeting with Evangeline. Evangeline is taken by Eno, an evil Emin angel, which is the start of our adventure to Dullsville.

Trussoin spends an incredible number of pages dedicated to what each type of angel looks like, and what they do. Equally, the dedication to Noah and his seed catalog is tiresomely drawn out.

What is lacking from Angelopolis is a point. Verlaine MUST get Evangeline back because he feels awe and flutters when he's near her. The actual emotions of the characters are so stilted and academic, it hurts. The motivation is nil, and so the characters simply exist and perform the essential tasks needed to move the meager plot forward.

In this passage, Verlaine "shivers" because "There was something in her manner that inspired a sense of fearlessness." What that something is, we don't know. The character that inspires fearlessness, said relatively little.

In another instance, Vera has just awoken to find her party greatly reduced.

"Vera wanted to say something but she couldn't find her voice. She hoped that her silence would be understood as a kind of vigil."

These kinds of passages just scream cop-out. These are moments to be taken advantage of in character development, but instead, Trussoni simply moves forward. After all, there's boring and oddly executed action scheduled!

Equally troublesome are the settings that contain items that were previously not included.

"There was no bed and no sign of food or water."

Just one page later and in the same setting Trussoni writes, "Lucien went to his bed and pulled a beat-up suitcase from underneath."

Magically appearing beds are one thing, but cots and metal chairs make an appearance as well in a prison setting.

"There were no blankets, beds, or toilets nothing more than what was absolutely necessary to sustain the creatures."

"They (Angels) screamed and struck at the tower with whatever was on hand--metal folding chairs and rods broken form the cots in their cells."

Now they have cots, but no beds? It's troublesome when an author isn't clear about the rules that govern the world she's created. The angels either rest or need sleep, or they don't.

While I'm discussing things that don't exist, let's talk about the title. (view spoiler)[ There is no Angelopolis! Apparently it exists in the inner circle of the prison, but that's the extent of the conversation. I can only conclude that Trussoni liked the sound of the word, and used it. She had to put something about an Angelopolis in the book, and so we are fed lame lines that add up to nothing. (hide spoiler)]

At the heart of the plot are the evil angels and their threat to humanity. Very little time is spent on creating a sense of fear and impending doom. We simply have to take it on the word of the Angelologists that the angels are evil.

Let's not forget that Evangeline is in danger and Verlaine must save her because he feels awe and flutters when she's around. So, in what must be the stupidest section of the book, (view spoiler)[ Verlaine leaves Bruno and Yana from a security post because he's tired of talking and goes off to find Evangeline in the prison alone. Why? "His time for simply taking orders was over. He was going after Evangeline alone." Except that there were NO orders. (hide spoiler)]

This kind of manufactured drama stilted, I could simply not take it seriously.

Finally, the conclusion is horribly thrown together, and an ridiculous cliffhanger is tacked to the last page. (view spoiler)[ Verlaine plans to catch Evangeline, and kill her! (hide spoiler)] Dumb.

Quotes taken from an unedited e-galley.

ARC provided by and Viking

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Friday, March 1, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest DarkThe Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating: 4.5

"I'm going to kiss you, Eleanore," he said quietly, still looking at her. "Not now. Later." His eyes cut back to mine. "I thought it fair tell you first."
I stilled. "If you think you can do so without me biting your lip, feel free to try."
His gaze shown wicked blue. "I don't mind if you bite."
"Biting your lip off, I should have said."
"Ah. Let's see how it goes, shall we?"

The title of this sure fire winner, did nothing to prepare me for the rather original story that resides between its pretty cover.

The plot is set in Victorian England at the onset of WWI. Lora Jones is found in the streets of London at around age 10, without language or clothing, Lara is raised in an orphanage. When Lara confesses to hearing music, voices, and other oddities, she is sent to a mental institution.

Lara is nothing if not bright, and learns to hide and lie her way to a clean bill of mental health. "Cured", she is sent to an elite all girls boarding school on England's southern coast.

It is there that she meets the mute grounds keeper, Jesse, and the Duke of Idylling's son, Armand.

Ah, but this is not your typical love triangle, but we'll get to that in a minute.

What sets The Sweetest Dark a part from other YA novels is the treatment of the characters.

Lara is not obsessed by her looks, or her lack on money. Instead, Lara is much more concerned with simple things that she can do something about, like eating enough at each meal. After being hungry for so long, Lara is simply happy to exist in a semi-safe environment.

This is not the first YA book to be set in a boarding school, but it is the first that I've read that handles the bull-shit that the other girls dish in a very adult manner. Most YA novels feature a tough main protagonist who is ready to kick ass, even at her own detriment. This is not the case in The Sweetest Dark. Lara does nothing without fully weighing the options. The results are refreshing and satisfying.

We'd entered that numbed, dragging stretch of hours before Sunday tea and after church, when Iverson's genteel young ladies tended to wander off in their individual clusters to genteelly shred the characters of anyone beyond their circle.

There's so much drama going on with our three main characters not being exactly human that we just don't need more problems in the form of secondary school girls. Yes, the dynamic is there, but Abe doesn't fixate, and for that, I thank her.

The attention of Jesse and Armand are equally adult. Lara is Jesse's beloved, and that is obvious from the beginning. There are no games, there's no, "what ifs or whys". Their love just is.

Armand plays his own role. Confused by his obsession over Lara, who he calls "the waif" he attempts to puzzle her out. She's not very forth coming, and their interaction, much like her interactions with the other school girls is satisfying. Lara is quick witted and matches Armand's self-loathing turn for turn.

As I've mentioned, the three are not exactly human, but again, Abe's treatment of the three is realistic. There's nothing in The Sweetest Dark that comes easily for the three, which makes the magic that much more believable. I don't wish to give away what they are, but suffice it to say, Abe again delivers on originality.

A great big Thank You to Shana Abe for her contribution to awesome female characters that do smart things! Oh, and thanks for a book that doesn't contain fey, vampires, or werewolves. You Rock!

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Quotes taken from unpublished proof. ARC provided by Netgalley in association with Bantam Books

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Protector a novella by Nancy Northcott

Protector (The Protectors, #1.5)Protector by Nancy Northcott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Protector is a well written novella that will satisfy the romantic cravings for fans of The Protector series.

The novella features the relationship between Josh, a helicopter pilot, and Edie, a firefighter on a Hotshot team.

This was a fast and fun read, that's reminiscent of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed

Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed: (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Kitty)Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed: by Jeremy Greenberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Silly and sweet, Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed satisfies the need to laugh at the wee beasties we live with.

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I for one am looking forward to my letter from my cat, Bluebell, who has a tendency to treat my fingers like hot dogs, or at least small cocktail wieners.

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D'Lacey Brings Us The End of Days

Black Feathers (Black Dawn, #1)Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"When the final days come, it was said that Satan walked the Earth in the guise of a crow. Those who feared him called him Scarecrow or sometimes Black Jack. I know him as the Crowman."

Black Feathers is a modern fable in which Gordon Black's birth, signals an end to our modern way of life.

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The Crow Man by ~chichu-chan

Black Feathers begins at the end. In an attempt to save herself, the earth is in upheaval, ridding herself of a great swathe of humanity, "like a dog shaking off fleas." There are fires, floods, and earthquakes. Solar flares ravage satellites. Illness and disease consume city after city.

In this time, there is great prophesy. The Crowman will come. Some, like The Ward, say he is Satan. Others, believe he is sent to save humanity, and bring about a new, bright day. A singular idea that both sides can agree upon is that the Crowman brings the Black Dawn.

And here lies one of the most thoughtful aspects of Black Feathers. Is the Crowman good or evil? Gordon and the young seer, Megan are inexplicably tied to the Crowman, so we wonder, how will this end? What we know of the Crowman is terrifying, which is saying a lot when the earth is taking her last breath, and there's treachery at each turn.

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There's so much to be had in this book. The prose is stunning. D'Lacey imagery is complete without being overwhelming. The unique plot is well-paced, and populated with believable characters.

D'Lacey has crafted a novel about the dark terrors that stalk us when night comes. Black Feathers equal part nightmare and fairy tale fable.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Love Unscripted

Love Unscripted (Love, #1)Love Unscripted by Tina Reber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If wasting paper was a crime, Tina Reber would be sentenced to life.

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The 680 page monstrosity that is Love Unscripted and is BOOK #1 in a F-ing TRILOGY, is about Taryn Mitchell, who at 26 is the own of Mitchell's Pub in the town of Seaport, Rhode Island. Seaport is the filming location of the Seaside movie franchise staring Ryan Christensen, hot actor extraordinaire.

Like all the Georges and Channings our there, Ryan is terrorized by fan girls and paparazzi. And so, on one fateful day, Taryn opens her pub and in comes the hunted Mr. Christensen. This is where our story begins.

This story is utterly enjoyable for about 150 pages. It's happy and frisky, but after that, it goes on repeat with a few interesting bits thrown in for good measure.

So what's wrong with Ryan and Taryn?

Ryan can't trust anyone because HOLLYWOOD! The only women Ryan seems to find are super slutty sluts from Whore Island, or gold diggers/publicity whores.

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Taryn was cheated on by her ex-fiance, Thomas. Boom. Done. Trust I feel for Taryn, because she's the first person who has ever been cheated on. It's hard.

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If you can stomach an okay romance between two pretty people who can't get on the same page, and the overuse of words like, "passionately, and giggled," by all means, read this book. Hell, read all three. Please recycle.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spellbinding: A Sleeping Potion

SpellbindingSpellbinding by Maya Gold

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It's witchy time! So lets light some candles, then fall asleep, ya'll!

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This is one of those books you have such high hopes for. Fun cover, good title, and then blah.

Abby's character is uber predictable and just immature. Her voice smacks of a girl of 12 rather than 16 or 17 years old. I expect a certain level of immaturity from my YA characters, but not to the point where I want to smack them.

There's really nothing happening in this book. The romance is lack-luster, the magic is predictable, and the ending was a cop-out. Spellbinding fails to conjure the magic.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

S.E.C.R.E.T.: The Hottest 10 Step Program EVER

S.E.C.R.E.T.S.E.C.R.E.T. by L. Marie Adeline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cassie has some self-esteem issues. The only man who she's ever slept with, her worthless husband, is dead. She's a 35 year old waitress who's given up on life and love until a customer drops her diary and Cassie totes reads it!

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And she's shocked! The diary is totally naughty town!

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Enter S.E.C.R.E.T., which is like a slutty support group. It's basically and 10 step plan for chicks like Cassie to get their grove back. Yes, ladies. That means 10 different fantasies, played out by 10 beautiful, and willing men.

Did I like this book?

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Indeed, I did.

There were some sections of the book where I was all...

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And others parts, where I was like...

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Slowly, through the hottest therapy EVER, Cassie starts to come out of her shell.

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My only complaint was the focus on age. Yes, I know 35 is not old, but Adeline keeps pressing it to the point I was applying Retinal while reading. S.E.C.R.E.T. was sort of making me self-conscious!

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Still, it was pretty yummy. No regrets! I'd do it read it again.

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