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“It’s Hopeless.” Okay, bad pun. – A Review of HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless, Colleen Hoover – I have heard tons about Colleen Hoover and how great her books are, so in the interests of research, I asked my readers which was the most fast paced story, and they recommended Hopeless.

Going into this, I knew it was a contemporary, so my hopes were not high… but I really hoped to like this in the end. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me.

Was it the book’s fault?

No. Not at all. This was a typical scenario of a bad reader to book match. So even though I did not like this book, I would still rate it four stars for how well written it was, and how it attempted to address some really serious issues.

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Why subtract a star if I can ignore not liking the book?

Well, there was one point in the story that I found very unrealistic. It had to do with the way two people dealt with a horrible situation. I didn’t buy it. So I took half a star off for that. I also took a half star off for the names that made me roll my eyes. This book had all the stereotypical ridiculous names you hear about in romance novels. Now, yes, I can see that there may be girls names “Sky” in the world, but do they have to have a best friend named “Six” and does the love interest have to be named “Holder?” (Holder was his last name, but that’s what he was called in the book.) It just seemed so cliché to me having all these characters with this type of name. It bothered me through most of the book.

Why I didn’t like it …

Overall, the reason I did not like this book was that I read to be entertained. This topic (abuse) is not entertaining to me. (Again, that’s just a bad match of reader to book)

Also, there is a trend in YA these days to have characters that come from horrible backgrounds. I know I am extremely blessed that my parents were not divorced, they did not physically or mentally abuse us (Other than a spanking and driving us to be our best) We were not poor. No one in my family has been murdered. No one does drugs. I could keep the list going, but I think you get the picture.

Personally, I don’t see why we can’t have more stories about normal people doing extraordinary things. I don’t know. I guess people would find that boring. Personally, I am glad I’ve had such a boring life.

Anyway – Four stars for “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover. It was excellent – just not my cup of tea. (Book Review)

Twelve Year Old Reader Review of: My Diary from the Edge of the World by: Jodi Lynn Anderson @jodilynna

A note from Mom: This book had a profound effect on my son. He spoke about it every day. But that ending … wow, did that ending throw him for a loop. this is what he had to say:

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This book is about a girl named Gracie who is in a world where a cloud comes to take a person’s soul before they die. She thinks a cloud is coming to take her little brother Sam, so they run to a mythical place called “The Extraordinary World” where clouds cannot follow. They run into a lot of conflict and strife on their journey.

[Yes, he used the word “strife” (proud momma alert!)]

I liked how they were always in a different place and in a lot of situations where they couldn’t get out, but they always managed to get out. And I like how it was a really big journey and a HUGE plot twist at the end.

I didn’t like how sad the ending was. I prefer to read things with happy endings. It would have been a sad ending no matter what, but it was even more sad because of the twist.

I would recommend this book to people who like cross country journeys and people who don’t mind a sad ending or plot twists.

I would give this book three and a half stars out of five because of the ending. I was really enjoying it a lot until the end. It was very original and I loved it until the end.

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A note from Mom:

Like I said… it was all about that ending. Without giving spoilers, just make sure your child is going to be okay if everything doesn’t end up “happy songs and lolly pops”. He was a little disturbed. He was loving it (and did love it overall) but he could not get over that ending.

Find out more on Goodreads

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The 26+ novels I read in 2015. Which were the best?

Funny, as I read more and more books in 2015, the #1 book kept changing. There were many books I read this year and thought: “that is the best book I’ve ever read!” but then, over time, I realized that maybe I enjoyed something else a little more.

Read-hold up PKO_0016876I read a total of 26 books this year and two novellas, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I tried to read mostly books that other people recommended. When I did, for the most part, I was thrilled.

Looking through the list, I had ten books that knocked my socks off, and only  one that was a DNF. And one or two I wish I didn’t finish.

So now, at the end of the year, I am going to re-rank them all again. While all of the books in my top ten were well written and jam packed with awesomeness, some of them “stuck with me” more than others. And while some had annoying things I over looked because I liked the rest of the book, other books I enjoyed without any annoyance, so I bumped them up highter. (If that makes any sense) So, here are my top ranked books this year.

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The best of the best:

 

  1.       Cress, Marissa Mayer – Loosely based on the fairytale Rapunzel, Cress is a maiden with long hair being held captive in a satellite orbiting earth. Her prince is a swashbuckling hero who doesn’t know he is a hero. This book is book three in the Lunar Chronicles, and does not stand alone. You really do need to read the other two books first. But holy freaking cow—this book was absolutely AWESOME! I was not crazy about Cinder (book one in the series) but everyone told me I needed to keep reading. I am so glad I did. This might just be the best book I have ever read. Amazing characters, fast pace, and a plot that dazzles. It has been many, many years since I anticipated a sequel. I’m really looking forward to the next book.
  2.       Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard – To be honest, despite the hype, I had no desire to read this book. I only picked it up because my son plowed through it and told me to drop what I was reading and read Red Queen so we could talk about it. I have to say I’m really glad I gave this book a chance. This is a dystopian in a world where some people have developed magic while others remain normal. There are both futuristic elements as well as similarities to classic fantasy that I think really makes this novel stand out. It is a great story with a very original plot and a great twist at the end. I really enjoyed it.
  3.       Alienated, Melisa Landers—Wowzers. This was a delightful read for anyone who enjoys a good alien romance. Great conflict and a nicely plotted conflicted hero who makes mistakes, but for the right reasons. Where the 5th Wave was technically a better novel than Alienated, Alienated is far superior on the sheer enjoyment level. To be honest, both had weak finishes, but Alienated stuck with me, and I would consider reading it again.
  4.       The 5thWave— This might be one of the best executed books I have ever read.  This was a very deep and introspective story. One that really makes you think. It is easy to see why this has become such a hit. It walks a fine line across many genres. There are deep, well-developed personal relationships that will appeal to the contemporary reader as well as high action scenes that will keep the thrill seekers turning pages. And, of course, there are aliens… and what’s there not to like about aliens? I went in ready for a “let’s see how much we can blow up” story, and found it to be so much more. The beginning is a touch slow as the world and characters are being built, but the multi-faceted plotline and the way the character’s lives weave together is totally worth the ride. (The end was lackluster, but as a whole, I’d definitely recommend this one)
  5.       Scarlet, Marissa Mayer—Wow. I read Cinder (Book one of the Lunar Chronicles) at the end of 2014, and was not really enthused. It was good, but not really my cup of tea. I’d heard a lot of rumblings that Scarlet, book 2, was even better. I gave it a try when I found it at the library. Now, to be honest, I did not like it at first because we continue Cinder’s story from Cinder’s POV, and then, half way around the world, we have Scarlet’s story in her POV. To be honest, I was a lot more interested in Scarlet’s story than Cinder’s… so I had to trudge through the Cinder chapters. But the last five chapters or so, when they came together, really changed my mind. I am totally interested in continuing the series now. Really good.
  6.       White Hot Kiss, Jennifer L. Armentrout – Great Googley Moogley! This book was awesome! I hesitated, because it is a demon romance, and it sounded stupid, but JLA is one of my favorite authors, so I decided to give it a chance. The story surrounds a half-gargoyle/half-demon girl who is raised by gargoyles to hate her demon side. She meets a demon and falls for him, which is a problem because her Gargoyle family’s job is to kill all the demons. (I know, this sounds incredibly dumb – but it was AWESOME!)
  7.       Invaded, Melissa Landers – Book two in the Alienated series. I have to admit I cheated and got this at the library to avoid my book-buying ban. I really wanted to get lost in this series again. Nothing but truly entertaining fun in this aliens-come-to-Earth story. I love how Landers portrays a realistic idea of how people would react to aliens, but is still able to keep you entertained with quirky characters. A great read!
  8.       Storm: The Elementals Series Book One by Brigid Kemmerer – Wow, I loved this book so much more than I expected to. There is a group of four brothers living on their own, that have been marked for death because they are stronger than any of the other “elementals” in the world. (Each can control an element, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.) At first I thought I would hate this, because I had trouble telling the brothers apart, but after a while I felt like I got to know them, and I totally got in to this story. There are very few books that I am tempted to pick up book two right away after reading book one. This is that type of book. I stopped myself, though, because I have way too many books that I already own. But I see myself giving in and getting this in the near future.
  9.       City of Bones, Cassandra Claire – I enjoyed this waaay more than I expected to. I think the cover turned me off a bit, probably because the guy on the cover looks so old, but he’s only about 17 in the book. It started off with a bang, then got a little slow for me during the world building part, but then it really took off for a great time. I imagine the second book is going to be even better because they can just “get to it” without explaining the world again. This was made into a movie that flopped a few years ago (I’m going to rent it though, because I’m curious) It is also being made into a TV series that premieres in January 2016. I’m totally looking forward to that!
  10.    “14”, Peter Clines – I waited almost a week before I decided where to place this book on my list. (In fact, it was number one for quite a while) Part of me wanted to bash this book because there is something in it that just came across as stupid to me. But I would be lying if I did not admit that I was scrambling to get back to this book every day. The writing was absolutely amazing, and the characters came alive, and became friends that I really cared about. I would totally recommend this book, especially for writers, for the simple reason of researching how the author painted characters that kept me totally engaged even when the plot took a nose dive. I wish I could explain what disappointed me about this book, but it would be an incredible spoiler. If you do read this, I’d love to chat about it. I might even want to read it again. Yep, it’s that good. (This book was my number one for a while, but in retrospect, while I DID LOVE IT, what I will always remember about this book more than anything else is the stupid part. Stinky)

Those are my top ten books for 2015.

And below are the remainder of the books I read this year.

There is one DNF and two that I really wished that I’d given up on rather than wasting my time. Other than those three, these were all really good.

And here are the rest!

 

Guardian For Hire, by Christine Bell – Okay… yes, this is a romance novel. And I’m not really sure I’d even call it a good one, because I was rolling my eyes at times… but that doesn’t change the fact that I really loved this book. I totally related to the main character. She is a strong-willed woman of privilege. She wasn’t starving to death, or on the streets, or suffering from mental issues… she was just a normal, well-off person. I found that refreshing in a novel. (They gave her a background that may have been a little forced, but I brushed it off) I really enjoyed the chemistry of the main characters, and I appreciated how the intimacy didn’t get ‘rough’ like I’ve seen in far too many books lately (for my tastes anyway.) So, go ahead, sue me. This is a contemporary romance, and I loved it. (NOTE: I originally placed this at the top of my list for the year, but moved it down a few months later, because while I really enjoyed the book, it was not original enough to “stick with me” like some of the others.

Broken Skies by Theresa Kay – Oooo! Aliens! This book was a lot of fun. It is set in a dystopian Earth, where mankind has basically destroyed themselves and live in camp-like city/towns. There is also a city on the planet that has been taken over by aliens. When our main character’s brother is “abducted”, she befriends an alien accidently left behind in hopes he can help save her brother. This is a great alien romance with an interesting take on a dystopian future. And the characters spend a lot of time in the woods, which I always enjoy. This is a first in a series, and doesn’t quite stand alone if you like all of your loose ends tied off. But there is definitely a fun ride of twists and turns, and a plot twist that I never saw coming.

The Looking Glass, Jessica Arnold.

Don’t judge a book by the cover. This is a ghost story! Well, sort of. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. A girl gets trapped inside a cursed house while her body is in a coma. She needs to crack the curse before her parents turn off her breathing tube and she dies for-real. No pressure! I enjoyed this so much. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another Jessica Arnold book.

 

Death Becomes Me, Elizabeth Holloway

I’ve done a full review on this one. This is the second book of Call Me Grim, where a girl is scheduled to die, and decides to become a Grim Reaper instead. This book delves even deeper into the lore, with a very interesting and even creepier twist. Great sequel.

 

My Sister’s Reaper, Dorothy Dreyer

This is a bizarre spooky-scary about a girl who has a family history of magical powers. She tries to save her sister who is in a coma (using magic), and ends up facing off with a reaper (as in Grim Reaper). This is a very interesting take on reaper lore. There is a lot of scary imagery (but not too scary) woven around an interesting set of characters. I’m definitely looking forward to book 2.

 

The Artisans, Julie Reece – This book is a “Southern Gothic”. I had no idea what that meant, so I was surprised when it started to get a little scary. This is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, where a girl is blackmailed into designing clothes in this “mean but cute” rich dude’s mansion in order to save her father. But there’s a catch – the mansion is haunted. And Mr. Hotness might have a few family secrets. I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the last 30% or so when things started to heat up between the main characters, and the ghosties started to get a little… ummm, “impatient”. This is great for romance fans who don’t mind a little “scary” mixed in with their love story.

Hopeless, Colleen Hoover – I have heard tons about Colleen Hoover and how great her books are, so in the interests of research, I asked my readers which was the most fast paced story, and they recommended Hopeless. Going into this, I knew it was a contemporary, so my hopes were not high… but I really hoped to like this in the end. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me. Was it the book’s fault? No. Not at all. This was a typical scenario of a bad reader to book match. So even though I did not like this book, I would still rate it four stars for how well written it was, and how it attempted to address some really serious issues. Why subtract a star if I can ignore not liking the book? Well, there was one point in the story that I found very unrealistic. It had to do with the way two people dealt with a horrible situation. I didn’t buy it. So I took half a star off for that. I also took a half star off for the names that made me roll my eyes. This book had all the stereotypical ridiculous names you hear about in romance novels. Now, yes, I can see that there may be girls names “Sky” in the world, but do they have to have a best friend named “Six” and does the love interest have to be named “Holder?” (Holder was his last name, but that’s what he was called in the book.) It just seemed so cliché to me having all these characters with this type of name. It bothered me through most of the book. Overall, the reason I did not like this book was that I read to be entertained. This topic (abuse) is not entertaining to me. (again, that’s just a bad match of reader to book) Also, there is a trend in YA these days to have characters that come from horrible backgrounds. I know I am extremely blessed that my parents were not divorced, they did not physically or mentally abuse us (Other than a spanking and driving us to be our best) We were not poor. No one in my family has been murdered. No one does drugs. I could keep the list going, but I think you get the picture. Personally, I don’t see why we can’t have more stories about normal people doing extraordinary things. I don’t know. I guess people would find that boring. Anyway – Four stars for “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover. It was excellent – just not my cup of tea. (Book Review)

Temptation by Kathryn Barrett — This is about an actress who moves to an Amish town to get ready for her role as a young Amish newlywed. Things get awkward when she develops feelings for the handsome Amish widower next door.

I have mixed feelings about this book. We see the story from two points of view: the actress, and the Amish man. It is weird, because the Actress totally wants this Amish guy. We get that. He’s hot. But then we are thrown into the Amish man’s head. He is troubled by this seductress. She is the antagonist in his story. I couldn’t root for them to be together, because if they do end up together, this man’s wonderful, perfect life will be ripped apart. I didn’t know who to root for. I wanted them both happy, but I didn’t really see any happy ending. Only the really great writing kept me reading, because, to be honest, I was AFRAID of the ending, because I could not in my right mind see a happy ending in these people’s futures. The whole thing kinda left me feeling disturbed. I would pick up another Kathryn Barrett book though. I loved the writing style.

 

Doon, by Lori Langdon and Carey Corp —This is a tale about a girl unhappy with her home life who goes on a summer vacation to Scotland, and starts seeing a spectral image of a cute guy in a kilt.

Okay, that kinda simplifies things a bit, but that is the gist of the opening premise. There ends up being a whole history about the family she vacations with, and suddenly she is whisked back in time/into another dimension (called Doon) and she meets the guys she’s been seeing images of. This was a nice, light read. Just what I needed after the heavy, disturbing images in The 5th Wave. This is the kind of book that is fun to cuddle up with by the fire and forget about the workday. Just a nice, light, trouble-free read.

 

Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini. This book had an awesome concept. Children of the original Gods still walk among us with powers, and there is this feud going on that makes descendants of different gods compelled to fight each other to the death. I had high hopes for this book, because it was recommended by a few teen fans. Where I did enjoy the story, I was never submersed in the narrative. I never really felt for the characters. I wasn’t scared in the right places. I will not say it was not a good book. It was. I did enjoy reading it and I would consider reading the next one. I just wish I could have completely lost myself in the world.

 

Pretty Crooked, Elsa Ludwig – This is a book about a girl who suddenly comes into some money, and she and her mom move to a rich town and the daughter goes to an expensive prep school. When the daughter sees “scholarship” kids getting picked on, she starts robbing from the rich kids who are mean and buying nice clothes for the poor kids. I had very mixed feelings about this novel. The writing was great, and going into the story, I was warned that there was “no ending at all” (By my mother-in-law, of all people). I figured there had to be some kind of ending, and I know there is a sequel, so I started reading expecting there to be a few “open” plot elements that would make you want to buy the next book. While I enjoyed this book overall, I was stunned that there actually WASN’T an end to the book. It is almost like it stops mid-chapter. There are several conflicts: 1. Which guy will she end up with 2. Will her best friend hate her forever 3. What is going on with her Mom 4. How will getting caught pan out in the end (That’s not a spoiler. They kind of let on in the first chapter that she gets caught.) I was okay with the ending at first (It was late and night and I was tired) but the next day, when I realized there was no resolution to ANYTHING I felt a little different. The book is good if you are ready to invest in an entire series. Just go into it ready to be buying more books.

 

Lifer, Beck Nicholas – I had my eye on this for a while because the cover was gorgeous. LIFER is kinda like reading two books in one. There are two main characters, written in dual first person POV. We start with a slave girl on a space ship with the rumblings of rebellion, and then the next chapter trades off to a boy without any memory waking up on Earth beside a dead kid. LIFER had me scratching my head, because I couldn’t really tell how these two stories would intertwine. And you have to wait until you are about 75-80% into the book to understand why. Despite the cover with space ships on it, DO NOT expect this to be about aliens. LIFER, with it’s oppressive, brutal governments, is really more of a dystopian. If you’re looking for conspiracy, guns, and rebellion, this is the book for you.

 

Claire Daly: Reluctant Soul Saver by Michele Brouder – This book is about a girl who gets these powers that she doesn’t understand, and ends up being someone who guides lost souls to heaven. (That’s oversimplifying it a little bit, but that’s the main premise.) There is a lot going on in this story. It is about a girl finding herself while discovering family secrets and, of course, fighting off the bad guy (I have to admit the bad guy in this book is delightful. Unfortunately, he might have been a bit too delightful, because I found myself rooting for him a few times.) I have mixed feelings about this book. It stayed with me for a while, because I enjoyed the overall premise. I just wish I loved it more. I wish it started later, because it starts off with glowing hands out of nowhere, and then lags for too long until something happens. Then later, when stuff starts to happen, I found myself rolling my eyes at the cliché stupidity of the heroine. The ending certainly rocked, and I did find myself in tears at all the right places… But I think if the entire story had been tightened, and the Claire Daly character had been constructed with street smarts, I would have been wildly singing this book’s praises. (I mean, if you are in a bar, and three guys basically threaten to rape you, and get themselves thrown out of the bar, you DO NOT walk home through the woods by yourself. – I almost stopped reading there, to be honest) And we see near the end that she didn’t learn from her mistake, as she takes off by herself again to another place that would obviously do her harm. Despite all this, though, I do admit that I enjoyed the story overall. I’d give this a solid three stars. It’s an interesting book with a deep spiritual slant about God and angels. (I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review)

 

Slumber, Christy Sloat –

This is a dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty. The princess wakes up in an insane asylum not remembering who she is, and she is told that she killed her boyfriend. And guess who runs the asylum???? (Don’t think too hard.) This is a very different spin on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale. Very Dark.

 

Joshua and the Lightning Road, Donna Galanti

This is a middle grade action adventure.

I will point you to my son’s review that I posted on my blog, because he is the target audience for this book. In a nutshell, he loved it.

 

Unnamed book – That dumb shifter story where the guy turns into a cat. (I’m not going to even bother going back to look for the name of the book – DNF) – Ugh. I picked up this book because it was written by a bestselling author, and I like to read styles from all different genres. This was romance and heavy on the sex, but I only made it about 37% into the book. I think the problem was that the overall premise (the reason why these two characters were driven together) made no sense to me. I did not understand why this girl needed to have meaningless sex with him to get out of being queen, while her fiancée had this shifter tied up to have sex with her so she WOULD end up being king. I tried to overlook that and enjoy the story as a chase novel after they took off together… but as it moved forward it just didn’t have any substance. I was reading it “just to get it over with” and I realized that my time is precious, and other books were calling me that I hoped where better conceptualized.

Novellas:

Until Midnight: An Alienated Short, Melissa Landers

This was nice… a free read for Christmas bridging the very small gap between the best-selling Alienated and the soon to be released Invaded. Don’t expect too much from this. It is really just a cute little snippet to keep readers swooning over the alien hero a few more months. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy it though. Just wish it was a little longer … but then that would be a novel, wouldn’t it?

Saved by the Dragon, Vivienne Savage – I was pleasantly surprised by this novella. I mean, it’s a cheap romance, and they have sex a few minutes after meeting each other – totally stupid, but I loved the characters and the dynamics once they actually started to get to know each other. I’m considering buying more in the series. Funny – I just read the one star reviews, and I have to agree with them all. Everything about this is book is dumb, but for some reason I kept turning pages. (Update – The rest of the series went on sale New Year’s Eve for $.99 for the box set. I figured, hey, why not?)

Did you read any of these? What did you think?

What was YOUR favorite book of 2015?

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Don’t Fear the Reaper. Well, maybe you should @eholloway300 @chapterxchapter

Is there such thing as a “Reaper” genre out there?

Call-Me-Grim-CoverI’m wondering, because last year I read MY SISTER’S REAPER by Dorothy Dreyer, and I also read CALL ME GRIM by Elizabeth Holloway. Both of these books were YA, and they each featured the Grim Reaper, but both in a very different way.

This year I got my greedy little hands on the sequel to CALL ME GRIM. Now, I have to admit, that this is the book that I was reading when I had that impromptu shove from a ghost while staying at Weisel Hostile in Nockamixon State Park.

DeathBecomesMeCoverDEATH BECOMES ME has the creepiest scene in it with a Reaper wearing a little girl’s body chasing people around. CREEPY!

Anyway… Both CALL ME  GRIM and DEATH BECOMES ME have a really unique twist on the whole idea of the Reaper, in that there are more than one, with the Big Bad Main Grim Reaper in charge of them all.

DEATH BECOMES ME picks up where CALL ME GRIM leaves off, and really digs deeper into the lore, and leaves you with a lot of questions, and a really odd feeling… I mean, did she really just send a soul off to … [[*/<>?:+**]]

Call-Me-Grim-CoverGAH! I can’t tell you because it will be a HUGE spoiler, but Wow! Does Elizabeth Holloway have a great (and maybe disturbingly twisted) imagination.

In a way, I felt like this book sewed a lot up for the characters. In some ways, it felt like “The End”, but there is another book coming out that I belive is the last in the series.

DeathBecomesMeCoverThere is still a huge question hanging out there that I, for one, want the answer to.

But maybe I don’t. I have a really bad feeling that a third book might leave me terribly disturbed.

This is a romance, by the way… but it is a romance twisted around the really well thought out, kinds creepy plot with grim reapers and people dying and stuff like that.  Wonderfully imaginative.

Just don’t read in it a 200 year old house in the middle of the woods. I won’t be making that mistake again.

Chapter by Chapter was nice enough to send me a copy of this book to review. So it is all their fault that I am seeing ghosts.

Click here to pick up a copy of CALL ME GRIM or DEATH BECOMES ME

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How can a book be both the worst and best you’ve ever read?

Alien Huh Close

I think we’ve all been there… we are gobbling up a book, loving every minute, and then all of the sudden Bam! Something happens in the plot that kills the book for you. Disappointment lingers. You place the book on your nightstand and think up reasons NOT to read. Then, after a few days, you grab something else, and that original book sits on your dresser, collecting dust.

I came very close to this in reading “14” by Peter Clines. Notice that I said “close.”

Let me explain.

This book was recommended to me by two readers on Instagram. This year my goal was to read only books that were recommended in order to really submerse myself in the current trends.

Anyway, that’s how I found “14”. Within a few pages, I was instantly engaged. This is odd for me, because the book is about an everyday guy who has a low paying job and gets an apartment in an old, historical building. Nothing exciting, right?

Yet I was flipping pages.

Then we meet the other people living in the building, and they each have their own quirks, their own voice, and their own … hmmm, I don’t know how to put it, but they each have their own “something special” that that drew me to them and made me want to read more.

So I kept flipping pages.

Soon, they all start discovering odd things about their building and their apartments, and that’s when the fun begins. I really can’t tell you anything else without ruining it, but at one point, something “happened.”

One of the characters looked out the window and saw a “xxxxxx”. Now, when I read this, I thought,

“Please tell me that he didn’t really see a “xxxxxx”.

But, alas, the main character actually DID see what I didn’t want him to see.

Alien SnarlI stopped reading. I was angry. Why did the author have to go there? I was loving this book! Why did he have to ruin it with a “xxxxxx”?

But the story festered and simmered in my brain. What were the characters going to do? Would they stop? Would they continue? Would the one character tell the others about the stupid “xxxxxx”?

I picked up the book, and eagerly started to devour it again. To my glee, the “xxxxxx” was not there after that scene, and I dove back into this amazing world.

Enter the climax. Wahoo! There were things I didn’t expect, and boom were we on a fun ride! (Meaning me and the characters, because we were all buds by this point.)

But then another hard stop, because the “xxxxxx” came back. And not only that, the “xxxxxx” “****ed”.

I wish I could fill in those blanks, but it would completely ruin this book.

Again, I was so frustrated that not only was there a “xxxxxx” in the book, but the “xxxxxx” also “****ed” that I considered placing the book down.

But I couldn’t.

My friends were in imminent danger. Would they survive?

Alien sour I realized that I wasn’t reading a book anymore. I was experiencing events. The story was happening around me, not inside the pages of a book. The writing is totally on point, maybe bordering on brilliant being that I WANTED to abandon the book. I just couldn’t.

After a while I was able to accept that the “xxxxxx” “****ed”. Not sure why. Maybe I just got used to it? Anyway, I was then totally able to enjoy the adventure with my new friends.

Yes, I’d have to say that this is one of the best-written books I’ve ever read, simply because of my need to find out more about the characters. But I would subtract one star in a review for two reasons.

#1, obviously, the “xxxxxx” – which I still wish was written differently, but so be it.

#2, The book starts out with a false action beginning. This was not a problem initially. Actually, I thought it was brilliant to show what would happen later in the story, since the beginning is very “everyday” contemporary. Unfortunately, this ended up ruining the end for me, because I thought I had read a passage that would happen in the future. When that DID NOT happen later in the book, I was taken aback, and scratched my head when the book was suddenly over.

Alien PKO_0003410-JPGBut in the end those things did not ruin the book for me, and I think it will be a long time before I am able to stop thinking about this story.

If anyone reads this book, (Please please please read this book) I would love to talk about it with you. I am very interested if anyone else was annoyed by the “xxxxxx” and if that aspect of the story was enough to ruin it for you.

Note: Mature content (mild sex scene) and a few F-bombs, but I didn’t find the language overused. I might even drop an F-bomb myself if I saw a “xxxxxx” coming at me.

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An 11 year-old Reviews Joshua and the Lightning Road by @DonnaGalanti “Omigosh! Action Adventure!” @Month9Books

Since Donna was nice enough to hang out and chat on Monday nights with us, I thought it would be great if I could get a middle grade perspective of her book.

This review comes directly from my eleven year old son, with a little prodding by Mom.  Details about what the book (and the book trailer) are about are at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

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 Let’s start out with what you liked.

The main thing I liked about it was the non-stop action and adventure.

Other details I liked were how different things and different problems were introduced and there were so many things they had to do all at once. And I also liked how the story didn’t take place in one area, how they had to move to different realms all the time.

Also I liked how things started winding down at the end, and then they started winding back up at the end– At 75% it seemed like everything was safe and then it was like “Omigosh they’re not safe because (character name removed) is back!”

 

 Did anything special catch your eye?

Some of the things that caught my eye were how you didn’t know Joshua’s name until his friend mentioned it. You didn’t know his name until the second chapter. I kinda liked that.

Also, at the beginning, I liked how when the storm happened out of nowhere and then this guy showed up and all this action suddenly came out of nowhere. It was like, “Omigosh! Action adventure.”

(Mommy plays Devil’s Advocate) Was there anything you didn’t like?

(He had to think a minute)

The only thing I didn’t like was how hard it was to keep track of who the characters were. There were too many kids that he meets.

There was also one character that has something bad happen to him, but he still goes on the adventure, but is only mentioned once when they are eating but then you never hear about him again. What happened to him?

[Minor spoiler] They never found out who spilled the beans on the plan they had to escape from the mill. [End minor spoiler]

 Overall thoughts?

Even though there were a few things that bothered me, overall I really liked this book.  

Would you read another book n the series if there were one?

Yes.

 

On a scale of 1 for the worst book you’ve read and 5 for the best book you ever read, how would you rate this book?

I would rate it a four

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There you go! Directly from my eleven year old son. I hope you enjoyed it!

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books), the first two award-winning, bestselling books in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, and the middle grade fantasy adventure series Joshua and The Lightning Road (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at Project Mayhem. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. Visit her at www.donnagalanti.com.

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About Joshua and the Lightning Road:

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark world where stolen human kids are work slaves ruled by the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians who come to see Joshua as the hero prophesied to restore their lost powers. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.

An 11-year-old’s review of The UnderTakers: The Last Siege of Haven

 

Before the review, a note from “Mom”:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how I first encountered a Ty Drago book.  For those of you who don’t know me, I have three sons. 14, 11, and 9.
 
My 14 year old (AKA the Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer) is an avid reader. Always has been. After years of struggling to get Middle Dude to even read a comic book, I’d given up. Then I started having the same trouble with Littlest Dude. In a panic, I rescheduled a weekend to bring Littlest to meet Dan Gutman… the author of the only book the kid agreed to read if I twisted his arm.  Middle Dude came kicking and screaming (Well, not that bad, but he wasn’t happy)
 
What, Doesn't this look like Ty Drago?

What, Doesn’t this look like Ty Drago?

Anyway, this is where Ty Drago comes in wearing a big old red cape

(Well, kind of. We actually didn’t even meet him) …
 
While we were buying a few Dan Gutman books at the Barned and Noble stand, Middle Dude comes up and hands me this book. “Can we get this?” he asked. “It looks sooo cool!”
 
I flipped over this very thick book 480 stinking pages. It was HUGE.  I said, “You’re not going to read this.”
“Yes I am,” he pleaded. “It sounds awesome.”
 
I stared at this monstrous book that I knew would end up as a doorstop or mashed in the toy graveyard in the corner of his room. With a sigh, I purchased The Undertakers, figuring if he read five pages, I was way ahead of the game.
 
That is when the magic happened. That night, I found Middle Dude hiding under the covers with a flashlight READING.  Did you hear that? R.E.A.D.I.N.G.
 
I couldn’t believe it!  A few weeks later, he was done and asked for the second book. And then the third. And then the on-line material!
Wahoooo!
This kid who hated reading, was suddenly devouring Ty Drago books.  And once he blew through them all, he was far more open to trying other books. 
Now he reads every night with a smile on his face. Thank you Ty Drago!  You are my hero.
 
Enough of my babbling … Here is Middle Dude’s review.  I was going to correct his punctuation and typos and stuff, but I figured I’d leave it as he typed it.  Enjoy!
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The UnderTakers

The Last Siege of Haven.

 .
To Ty Drago,
Over all i really liked the book. It was literally non stop acition and i read most of it on one night because it was so great. The only thing i disliked was that most of the book was based on getting amy to haven.
Throught out the book i just kept thinking in my head oh my gosh what will happen next. my favorite part of the book was when they were being chased by the baby malum, it really added alot of action to the book, like a hole new species.
another part i like was when helene got out of her homeless old lady suit for backup. that came out of no where. When prentended to lose his sight i was like oh my gosh how did he lose it he isnt eighteen yet and a bunch of other questiosn like who will be the leader.
i enjoyed the part when they set haven with traps so the corpses wouldnt get in. i was also sad when [SPOILER REMOVED] died, but at least {SPOILER REMOVED} saved [his or her] friends.
overall this was one of the best books that ive ever read and i cant wait for the next 2 (i think there will be 2 more) books that you will write.
it always seemed like every second was an hour when i waited for your book “the secret of the corpse eater”.
i hope it wont be like that for the 5 book. i hope that wont happen this time.
  Happy Reading,
[Middle Dude signed his name.  So cute! but Mom is removing for privacy’s sake]
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Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | TBD

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Rafflecopter! Enter to win one of 5 digital copies of Last Siege of Haven (The Undertakers #4) by Ty Drago Click here

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ABOUT TY DRAGO:

Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place.  In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses,The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest.  He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.

Author Links:  Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads

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Middle Dude received an arc for his fair and honest review. Where he would never pan a book (He’s cool like that) He has, like his older brother, respectfully declined to review a book after reading. He wouldn’t have typed all that out if he didn’t feel strongly about the book.

Book Review: The Artisans by Julie Reece

I’ve been looking forward to this book release for a long time. Julie Reece is the author of CRUX, which is one of my favorite paranormal/mythical novels.

Now she’s out with a brand new YA novel. Woohoo!

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The Artisans is a “Southern Gothic”. I had no idea what that meant, so I was surprised when it started to get a little scary. (At one point, I even had to shut my eyes, which made me remember that I was reading a book, which is a little hard to do with your eyes shut.) It is a creepy read at times, but only one spot got “gory” (Which was probably mild by horror standards, but it made me cringe a little.)

This is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a touch of the cobbler fairy tale thrown in for good measure.

A teenage girl is blackmailed into designing clothes in this “mean but cute” rich dude’s mansion in order to save her father. But there’s a catch – the mansion is haunted. And Mr. Hotness might have a few family secrets.

Ooooooo, yes,

They are the scary kind.

I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the last 30% or so when things started to heat up between the main characters, and the ghosties started to get a little… ummm, “impatient”. The last ten percent or so flew by. This is great for romance fans who don’t mind a little “boo” mixed in with their love story.

What is interesting though, is that this book is a duology, which means there is another book coming out. I am very interested to see where the author takes us in the next book, because The Artisans definitely had the feel of a stand alone. There is really nothing “left hanging”. So, if you are the type that likes a stand alone, don’t worry about picking up The Artisans. It definitely ends, and ends satisfactorily.

I would recommend this book for a nice quiet weekend read, or a fun book to hide under the covers with.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | kobo | TBD | Goodreads

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Rafflecopter!

Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Artisans by Julie Reece (INT)

Click here to enter the rafflecopter!

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About Julie Reece

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

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Eleven-Year-Old’s Review of “The Three Thorns”: Brotherhood and the shield by @Michael_Gibney @chapterxchapter @tantrumbooks @month9books

TTT-CoverI figured a middle-grade review would be best coming from a middle-grader. Here is what he had to say, in his own words:

.

What was the book about?

It was about three orphans who band together when a bunch of guys tried to kill them. They end up traveling to a new magical world and find out that they have special powers and are part of a prophecy that says they will bring down the evil emperor.

What did you like about the book?

I liked how there was lots of action and adventure. There wasn’t just talking all the time. There were a lot of fight scenes, and it never got boring.

Who was your favorite character?

Tommy was my favorite. He was the oldest of the kids, and he was really mean when the story started, but he changed over the course of the book.

TTT-CoverTell me about the bad guy.

He has assassins and a big army. You don’t really see him to much.

You mostly see the big scary assassins that are nine feet tall and in every fight scene. They are really more like the bad guys in the story.

What was your favorite part?

When they broke out of the orphanage, everyone chased them. Mr. Jennings offered a year of work off to any of the other orphans who caught the kids who escaped. There was so much action! And they forgot something and had to go back, and someone got caught and stuff, and it was really exciting.

On a scale of one to 5… One being that book you didn’t finish last year because it was boring, and five being the best book you ever read, how would you rate “The Three Thorns?”

TTT-CoverI think 4 stars.

Why?

There was a lot of action and a lot of chasing, but the part  where they were being taken to the castle didn’t have a lot of action.

There should have been some fight scenes to make it more interesting.

Would you be interested in reading the next book?

Yes. They ended it in a way that made me say “Omigosh I have to see what happens next!”

Would you recommend this book to your friends?

Yes, to my friends that like action adventure books.

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 A note from Mom:

There you have it, directly from my son. I have to say that each day he finished reading with a smile on his face. He is easily bored, and there are a lot of books in his “did not finish” pile. He does not put up with books that don’t keep his attention. There is a rafflecopter going on to promote this book. Click below to enter. Good luck!

Purchase Links:

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | Indiebound

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Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c08c9e8e288/?

More about the book:

THE THREE THORNS (THE BROTHERHOOD AND THE SHIELD #1)

Three brothers born to a once powerful King were abandoned at birth and cast out into the old world as orphans – alone and unaware of the other’s existence or their royal heritage.

In the new world, by order of the false King, three of the most lethal assassins are sent to kill the children before they come of age and avenge their father’s throne.

But when the brothers find one another, Benjamin, Tommy and Sebastian must resist the temptation of magic and power if they are to defeat the unspeakable evil that has threatened them since birth.

The Three Thorns is book one in an exciting children’s fantasy series called The Brotherhood and the Shield from debut author Michael Gibney.

ABOUT MICHAEL GIBNEY:

Michael Gibney began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and assumed his first sous chef position at twenty-two. He ascended to executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, where he managed an eighty-person staff. He has worked in the kitchens of Morgans Hotel Group, 10 Downing in Manhattan, and Governor in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, among many others. Over the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to work alongside cooks and chefs from many of the nation’s best restaurants, including Alinea, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Bouley, Ducasse, Corton, wd~50, and Momofuku.

In addition to his experience in the food service industry, Gibney also holds a BFA in painting from Pratt Institute and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Connect with the Author:  Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

What makes you abandon a novel you are reading?

I recently finished a novel that was truly painful. In respect to the author, I’m not going to name it… but it was NOT an enjoyable read.

All the other novels I have lined up were screaming “Try me! I’ll be better, I promise.” And I was pretty sure that ANY of them I picked would have scaled higher on the enjoyment factor.

Was it written poorly?

I don’t think so.  You see, I purchased this book because it was by one of my favorite authors. In fact, this is someone I’ve reviewed and given five stars to, and if you hang here you know I don’t give away five stars all that freely.

I almost gave it up on this story five times, but I continued reading hoping that the author that I’d fallen in love with would shine through.

It didn’t happen.

What didn’t I like?

Well, I think it was a lot of things. This was a western. I detest westerns, but I’d read one last year that I really enjoyed, so I figured my favorite author could pull it off, too.

Ah, no.

The main character also had an annoying name. “Jazzy”.  Yeah, I’m serious. Don’t you want to smack her upside the head already?  I hoped my favorite author could overcome the annoying name.

Nope, didn’t happen.

In the end, I forced myself to finish. Probably because I purchased the book and wanted to get my money’s worth. Probably because I was waiting for some kind of a Sixth Sense ending that would make it all worth my time.

Didn’t happen.

In the end, though, something about the background came out that made me sympathize with Jazzy. Interestingly enough, I suddenly connected. Unfortunately, it was in the last couple of pages… thousands of words too late.

I’m wondering that if I had known this little tidbit of information in the beginning of the story, if the necessary connection between reader and character would have happened… that maybe, just maybe, I would have cared enough about her that I would have been worried when the stagecoach got overrun by bandits. I would have worried when the gun was pointed in her face. I would have cared if Mr. Perfect saved her scrawny butt…

The problem is that I suddenly cared to late, and it did not fix the rest of a very uninteresting read to me.

Have I given up on this favored author? I don’t think so, but I will be much more leery of picking up another title of hers. It’s a shame.

What did I learn?

I try to take away something from every novel I read. In this case, I will remember that if there is a secret or something in a character’s past that may help reader connection, I will push that little tidbit up front.  Late revelations are just that. Late. In this case, too late for me.

What about you? What makes you stop reading a book you have paid good money for?

Jennifer___Eaton