Category Archives: Review

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Publisher: Tanglewood Press (September 27, 2011)
Kindle:  345 pages / 476 KB
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait–to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

Review:

Ashfall was a good, engrossing read. It worked well to evoke emotional responses from the reader. Mullin provided a raw view of humanity in a post-apocalyptic world caused by natural disaster, i.e. the volcanic eruption. There was many moments that left me feeling disappointed with the state of the world. Looting, pillage, rape and other undoubtably violent acts were shown to the readers. They were things you expect from the middle ages, not the modern time that Mullin set the book. But he packaged it in a way that worked to show, just because times are different doesn’t mean people are.

Occasionally though there are moments of kindness that help to counterbalance the ugly and evil that is shown. Darla and her mother are just one example of that. Though usually small acts of kindness, they are things that stay with the reader and Alex as they travel on.

The relationship between Alex and Darla is just one way that helps to show, even during this disaster and time there is a chance for something beautiful to happen. Their relationship, however, is not a focus. By keeping it a secondary plot device, it gives their relationship a solid, understated quality that makes it that much easier to appreciate.

Mullin takes the ugly of humanity and exposes it to the reader. By clearly showing how much bad there could be, Mullin gives hope even when there doesn’t seem to be any. Things weren’t all fixed for the characters but there’s that hope gives way to this feeling that things would one day be alright. It’s just the first book, and I think it works well to hook the reader and get them anticipating the next one.

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Everything You Need to Suvive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 3, 2012)
Kindle:  416 pages / 5 KB
Source: Galley Grab
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

 A male perspective on sorting love from loss, faith from fear—brimming with humor and romance.Phillip’s sophomore year is off to a rough start. One of his best friends ditches him. His track coach singles him out for personalized, torturous training sessions. And his dad decides to clean out all of the emergency supplies from the basement, even though the world could end in disaster at any moment…and even though those supplies are all Phillip has left of his dead mom. Not that he wants to talk about that.

But then Phillip meets Rebekah. Not only is she unconventionally hot and smart, but she might like him back. As Phillip gets closer to Rebekah, he tries harder and harder to turn himself into the kind of person he thinks she wants him to be. But the question is, can he become that person? And does he really want to?

Review:

Phillip is a strange kid. Or a very normal one. Starting with his meeting Rebekah, Phillip is soon besieged with the drama of life. There’s some fighting with friends, making up, and all this while trying to get Rebekah to like him back.

“Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse” is a slice-of-life told from Phillip’s POV. A flawed character, we get to follow him around as he makes mistakes and, hopefully, learn from a couple of them.

At first just wanting to see Rebekah, Phillip attends Church. However as the book goes on, Phillip’s reasoning transforms with/through faith. Phillip is trying to get a better understanding of the world and his beliefs. His struggles and convictions are spot on. As I was reading, Klauss was able to draw me in and make me feel the confusion. It forced me to struggle alongside Phillip.

The narrative is interspersed with flashbacks. It’s part of Phillip trying to find himself and deal with his mother’s death. It wasn’t recent, but with the flashbacks, it was clear that his mother’s life leading up to her death had an intangible impact on his life.

While this wasn’t my type of book, I can’t deny Klauss did an excellent job when writing this. The voice fit, and the narrative never faltered or dragged. Definitely a good read for anyone in the mood for a slice-of-life involving teenage friendship, romance and struggles with religion.

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Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Publisher: Hyperion (October 4, 2011)
Hardcover:  576 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the first pages of this standalone sequel to The Lost Hero, Percy Jackson remembers only his name and the name of Annabeth, a mysterious woman he associates somehow with the city of San Francisco. From those sparse clues, he must somehow complete a mission for the leader of the Roman camp even as he is being pursued by the two sisters of Medusa, who possess an apparently unquenchable thirst for vengeance: Even when killed, they spring back to life. Rick Riordan’s second Heroes of Olympus promises even more excitement than the first.

Review:

The long wait is over. Son of Neptune is out and available to any fans of the Percy Jackson/ Heroes of Olympus books.

This time we get to see Percy Jackson in this disoriented, amnesiac state. Due to Juno’s (Hera for those more accustomed to the gods’ Greek counterparts) meddling, Percy has been left without memories and placed in the hands of a “rival” camp, Camp Jupiter. The Roman version of Camp Half-Blood is much more regimented and ordered than Camp Half-Blood. The differences were interesting to read. More intriguing, though, was Percy’s reactions to the differences, especially when he’d been unsure as to the reason behind his discomfort/ niggling sense of displacement when among the Roman demi-gods.

Like how Jason got Leo and Piper to aid him, Percy’s friends in Camp Jupiter are Hazel and Frank. Hazel is a bit of a mystery at first. Sister to Nico di Angelo, Hazel’s abilities were kept quiet in the beginning, only alluding to the fact that her power was dangerous. Then with her blackouts, the reader finds out little-by-little more about her. Though potentially dangerous, Hazel comes across as a rather soft-spoken follower. But as the book goes on, the reader gets to see her pull her weight and tackle her “fate” head-on.

Frank is the one who changed the most throughout the course of the book. When we first met him, he came off as ditzy. He was sweet, clearly enamored with Hazel, but not as cool as Percy. However as the story progressed, it was becoming clearer that while Frank suffered from low self-esteem in his abilities, he was far from just uselessly tagging along with Hazel and Percy. Frank plays his part, and doesn’t let the reader down.

There’s just so much I want to talk about, but can’t for fear of spoilers. Instead, I’ll just say that this is most definitely a recommended read. If you like the Percy Jacson/ Heroes of Olympus series, this book is one you wouldn’t want to miss. If you haven’t read any of Rick Riordan’s books, then go start with “The Lightning Thief”. You won’t be disappointed.

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The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (September 27, 2011)
Kindle:  272 pages / 396  KB
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.

I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?

Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.

Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play…and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. Waypast. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.

Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star-crossed….

Review:

Truthfully, I was on the fence on whether or not I’d like this book. Of all the things to wish for, Miranda wants to be Juliet. But as I read on and her reasoning behind the wish was explained, I warmed up to the story and started to root for her.

The entrance of Edmund was hilarious and his reactions were believable. A lot of modern ideas and terminology was thrown at him, but he adapts well at a surprisingly quick pace.

Miranda’s mother is also another surprise.Despite the overall unbelievability of the situation, she just accepts Edmund’s appearance in their life and home. Same with Drew. Intuitive and kind, Drew was a character I liked having around.

The writing is easy to read, while the story moves at a quick pace. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen Rees throws a curveball. A fun read for any YA romance fan.

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Find Douglas Rees:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble The Book Depository 

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Misty and the Single Dad by Marion Lennox

Publisher: Harlequin (June 7, 2011)
Kindle:  192 pages / 347  KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Teacher Misty Lawrence has lived her whole life in Banksia Bay, cherishing a secret list of faraway dreams. Just as she’s finally about to take flight, Nicholas Holt—tall, dark and deliciously bronzed—turns up in her classroom with his little son Bailey and an injured stray spaniel in tow.

We start off with the elementary school teacher, Misty Lawrence, who has a list of dreams she plans on going through once her responsibilities in Banksia Bay ends. However, Misty can’t help but be a good, dependable person despite her wishes to get away and live life.

Enter Nicholas Holt. He moved to Banksia Bay with his son, Bailey, to get away from excessive excitement, adventures and dangers. He wants to put down roots and make a safe haven for Bailey. Maggie is attracted to Nicholas and it seems inevitable they end up in a relationship, especially with the not-so-subtle meddling of the town veterinarian.

For a short Harlequin novel, Lennox certainly delivers. Misty is captured perfectly. While characterized as a dependable person, Lennox is able to accurately convey Misty’s feelings of unease and dissatisfaction. She grapples with trying to settle with her life without leaving any regrets of forgoing her dreams to pursue a happy relationship with Nicholas.

Nicholas likes Misty. But in his zealous efforts to secure a safe home for Bailey, he misses Misty’s unease in her attempts to stifle her dreams. The way Lennox plays out their relationship is fast paced but not overwhelmingly so. It is easy to follow. This is a good read for anyone looking for a short, sweet romance.


Sawyer by Lori Foster

Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition (July 1, 2007)
Kindle:  224 pages / 254  KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Sawyer Hudson, the only doctor in Buckhorn County, took it upon himself to rescue the beautiful but enigmatic woman who came literally crashing into his life. Though he knew he should keep things platonic and professional, around her his body had other ideas. And his heart was no more cooperative.

Honey Malone was on the run, fleeing a dangerous predator, when she lost control of her car, drove into a lake–and found herself up to her neck in breathtaking men. After the brothers nursed her through her injuries, she tried to leave, but she hadn’t bargained on their stubborn protectiveness. Or the passionate bond that tied her to Sawyer.

Review:

A pretty quick read, I had high hopes for “Sawyer”. The premise seemed interesting and full of potential. Foster created a diverse cast of enthralling male leads for her series. The focus of this one is, obviously, Sawyer. Honey, on the other hand, is not nearly intriguing. Sure, she has that whole mysterious-woman-on-the-run thing going on for her. But it’s not nearly enough. Her refusal to confide in Sawyer and his brothers makes sense, but it goes on for so long I’m left feeling irritated with her.

The one scene where she finally got on my nerves so much that I had to put the book down and take a break from it all was when she tried to “keep them safe by keeping them in the dark”. To achieve that goal she attempted to “borrow” (read: steal) Sawyer’s car to get away. Then, in the midst of all Sawyer’s anger, their inexplicable attraction erupts and they’re making out. This entire scene felt ridiculous and forced. I can see how perhaps it was headed here.

Sure the story has potential. The pacing of the story moves at a brisk pace, which helped to keep my attention on the book. But the characters/ situations weren’t developed enough for me. If you’re looking for just a quick romance and easy read, then this book and the others in the series should be a good fit.


Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperback (February 18, 2002)
Kindle: 352 pages / 415 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Dear Reader,

Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn’t. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior’s day.

As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander’s sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again.

But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace–the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse?

Julian of Macedon

Review:

An oldie but a goodie? Maybe so. After a recommendation from a customer, I gave this book a chance. Not really knowing what to expect (sometimes I like to just jump into books without looking too far into the premise), I took the plunge into Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series with this book.

Though a bit scandalized by the content (which, I suppose, should have been expected since the main character did summon a “love-slave” from a book), the story played a lot with Gods, Goddesses and paranormal mysticism. The concepts Kenyon came up with were interesting enough to keep me reading.

One thing that did confuse me was where the “Dark-Hunter” part was supposed to come into play. It was only with a bit of research and the start of the next book that I realized that “Fantasy Lover” was more of a prequel of sorts.

The characterizations of the Gods and Goddesses that showed up felt fitting and appropriate. Or at least, Kenyon made it feel appropriate. I enjoyed how she portrayed them and her other characters.

Definitely a recommendation for those in the mood for a steamy romance, and enjoy that bit of paranormal.


Mephisto’s Covenant by Trinity Faegen

Publisher: Egmont USA (April 26, 2011)
Kindle: 448 pages / 5 KB
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—she is an Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx always looming, Jax knows he has to keep Sasha safe and win her over.  But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

It’s an interesting premise that Faegen has created. The idea that a child of Hell could be redeemed by one known as Anabo, it’s unique.

The characters brought on a mixed reaction. Sasha is a character I didn’t fully like or understand. We start the story with her relentless pursuit of the truth behind her father’s death. So relentless in fact that is borders being obsessive to a dangerous degree. Sasha comes off as a super good person that anyone would be friends with when given the appropriate opportunity. (Which makes sense since she is an Anabo.) For anyone thrust into the situation Sasha found herself in, I’m sure we’d all like to go back to our days of ignorance. Sasha’s initial reaction makes sense, even as it irked me.

Jax is refreshing as a male protagonist. I’m so used to those heros who always felt the need to push away their love interests. It was good to see Jax pursue Sasha. Even as he’s trying to stay away from Sasha at her request, he does things for her that would have swept any girl off her feet.

The romantic tension between Sasha and Jax was obvious and enjoyable. Even as Sasha wanted to stay away from Jax, she couldn’t help but want to be with him at the same time.

A good read, with an intriguing idea. It’s a book to check out if the summary interested you even the slightest bit. With the struggle against Eryx not over, it’s a good thing Mephisto’s Covenant is only the first of six books. Mephisto’s Covenant comes out September 27, 2011 from Egmont USA.


How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Publisher: Pocket (February 22, 2011)
Kindle: 384 pages / 629 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

Review:

An entertaining read, this was my first time reading anything by Molly Harper. Of all the places to move to just to get some distance from your parent, to go from southern USA to Alaska seems extreme. But as Mo elaborates on how her hippie parents are like, Alaska might not be far enough.

Mo is an interesting character who I’d probably get along with. She’s a good person, just looking for the place where she belongs after her tumultuous childhood. New to the small town of Grundy, Alaska, Mo is a novelty that has most bachelors flirting with her as she quickly finds a place for herself in their community.

The only one really against Mo’s move to Grundy is the perpetually grumpy Cooper. (As well as Lynette, who’s dislike comes from the men’s attention on Mo.) Consistently at odds with one another, Mo and Cooper can’t deny the latent attraction at work as well.

The book starts off pretty slowly. But when we finally get to the scene described in the summary, where Mo finds a naked man stuck in a bear trap, the story just takes off.

A quick, fun read, this book isn’t one to pass up.


Abandon by Meg Cabot

Publisher: Point (April 26, 2011)
Kindle: 320 pages / 360 KB
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Review:

This was such a great read. However towards the beginning it did require a bit of a push to get into the story. Cabot jumped around in time so much that I nearly got fed up. But I knew it’d make more sense if I just powered through. Luckily my faith was rewarded.

Even when Pierce was so angry with the situation at hand and didn’t like John all that much, I couldn’t help but root for them to be together. There was this pull that Cabot made apparent and irresistible. The plot twists and increasing mysteries only help to keep me drawn in and reading to the end.

What makes this better is that “Abandon” is just the first book. There will be more to expand on the characters and answer the questions left unanswered. This is a great start. Cabot worked magic on this, and I’m excited to see where she takes it. Another book I’d recommend to anyone who’s interested in either YA fantasy books or vague interpretations of Greek mythology.