Friday, September 16, 2011

Countdown: Reccomendation Edition

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I have found some of my favorite reads through recommendations. Not many of my close friends are huge readers like myself, so I really have to rely on my awesome blog contacts. Either through comments left on my blog, emails I've received, or books mentioned/reviewed on other blogs that I follow. Without those helpful tips and suggestions I would miss out on so many amazing reads. I don't even like to think about the amount of books I'd never add to my shelves. So here are a few recent recommendations I've received, got any more I should check out?

Countdown Pick #1: The Vicious Deep (The Vicious Deep, #1) by Zoraida Cordova (4/1/2012)

Set against the backdrop of a Coney Island summer comes The Vicious Deep, the story of sixteen year old Tristan Hart whose life is turned upside down when the mermaids make an unscheduled return to land in search of their new king.

When a sudden storm pulls Tristan from lifeguard duty into a deadly riptide, he discovers what he really is—a prince of the Sea Court. Turns out, his girlfriend hopping and talents as a swimmer aren’t caused by his teenage prime hormones after all.

In this modern Arthurian tale with a twist, when all a guy wants to do is get The Girl and enjoy the freak show that is a Coney Island summer, Tristan has to fight for his life, the lives of his friends, and his humanity, if he still wants it, as he’s caught in a race for a throne that is as ancient as the gods.

When I first heard about this one, I was sold as soon as the word mermaids was mentioned. But then I come to find out it's more about their search for their king and my excitement grew. It seems our main character Tristan gets a whopping surprise when he discovers he might just fit their requirements, not to mention there are super high stakes involved in his decision and this revelation. Its rare I read a book with a guy's point of view and with their narration, so I always look forward to the change of pace. Here's hoping this read lives up to my excitement.

Countdown Pick #2: Wrecked by Anna Davies (5/1/2012)

Miranda has lived on Whym Island since the death of her parents. She has taken comfort in its seclusion and in the folklore that claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and its surrounding waters. It's just been easier to believe that things are out of her control.

But when a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy that haunts her dreams. As the guilt of the accident consumes her, she finds refuge in her late night swims. Then, she meets Christian, a boy who seems so familiar, but won't tell her where he is from and why they can only meet at the beach. As Miranda falls for Christian and begins to put the accident behind her, she discovers that there are secrets that Christian is keeping to protect her that may only end up bringing her nothing but harm.

I guess I've got another water themed addition to make the list of recommendations because this one got me immediately! Being rescued at sea by a hunk....oh yeah! This girl seems to be a character who's unfortunate circumstances will have readers emotionally involved from page one. Heck I'm emotionally invested after just reading the book's description. But honestly it was the mysterious vibe surrounding this plot that really pushed me over the edge. I can't wait to see what happens and I'm actually hoping I'm left guessing until the very end. I'm unfamiliar with Davies, but am really looking forward to see what she brings to the young adult literature world.

Countdown Pick #3: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (5/22/2012)

Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

I could have called this the water edition of countdowns at the rate I'm going because here's yet another aquatic future read. While this one hints at an underwater kingdom and beings with unusual powers and talents in connection with water and the creatures who call it home, that's not the only reason behind the TBR addition. It was more the relationship between the two main characters that really got my attention. Calen and Emma's confusing and mysterious connection drew me in and I'm anxious to see if a great romance is in the works for these two. It all just sounds too juicy for me to pass up.

Countdown Pick #4: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (1/5/2012)

Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends.

Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.

In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted.

While this title may not be centered around the water and any underwater creatures like my other choices, fantasy is still in full effect. I'm also thinking this one may be different than others in the genre, which lets face it, is always a welcome revelation. I'm not previously familiar with this author, but her world of dragons, witches, and fairies sounds magical. Don't forget that there is of course a romance in the center of it all and there's no way I could possibly pass this new recommendation up. The cover is beautiful, the plot sounds fantastic and just like that I've added yet another title that I can't wait to check out to my TBR pile.

Countdown Pick #5: Perception (Clarity, #2) by Kim Harrington (3/1/2012)

When you can see things others can't, what happens when someone is watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only, Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared. Clare needs to see her way to the truth — before it's much too late.

I'll admit this one is slightly different from what I normally sway towards on the bookshelves, but I can't help it. I've heard so many wonderful things about Harrington's writing that I thought it was finally time to wise up and give one of her books a try. From the sounds of it, Clare seems like a potentially unique character. Throw in the mysterious disappearance of a local girl and the fact that Clare's powers are out in the open and my curiosity is totally piqued. So here's hoping that I join the ranks of devoted Kim Harrington fans all over.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Countdown: Romance Edition

I may sound like a cliche, but what girl doesn't love a good romance every once in a while. I love them, the triangles, first loves, flirting, the drama, basically all of it. Some of these I've chosen have already been released, but I've been excited for them to hit the shelves and might not have gotten to them just yet. Overall I just found myself looking at my TBR list and a good majority of them were falling into this category and as I started to take a closer look at a few of these titles, it was like I was hearing about them for the first time all over again. Instant excitement and anticipation. So here's a few to start...

Countdown Pick #1:
Love Story by Jennifer Echols


For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions—it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.

After being introduced to Echols' writing with Forget You, I was an instant fan. She draws out a reader's emotions and definitely knows how to make you break out the tissues. Her couples always have obstacles to overcome, and they're usually not minor, but I've got to say, this one sounds like a doozy. I'm totally ready to dive into this one and while I'm crossing my fingers for swoon-worthy romance, I've got the tissues near by just in case.

Countdown Pick #2:
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi's curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she's ever had to make: the life she's always longed for - or the love she can't live without?

Although this sounds like it could be considered more fantasy than romance, for my purpose it falls into the romance category. Our heroine Lexi eventually finds herself in a love triangle and what kind of reader doesn't enjoy those? All that suspense that comes with them, I love it. Strong emotions, high stakes, and me in the background crossing my fingers that Lexi will choose whichever guy I think is best for her. I may be alone, but I haven't read any of Hubbard's work before but I've heard nothing but good things. Hopefully this will be the first of many of her books that I come to love.

Countdown Pick #3:
Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal, #1) by Stacey Jay

"These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,Which as they kiss consume."—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

I'm always intrigued by retellings and unique twists of classic works but this really got me excited. While the romance may not be centered around the two characters you would assume, the main theme seems to be the fight to keep true love alive. Definitely a fight worth fighting. While I'm not sure how this will all flow and jive with the original opinions we all have for these well known characters, it should be entertaining to say the least.

Countdown Pick #4:
Glow (Sky Chasers, #1) by Amy Kathleen Ryan (9/13/11)

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

While Ryan may have meant for this series' debt to fall into the dystopian/suspense categories, I saw the hints of a romance and I'm focusing on those elements. Waverly and Kieran have been tasked as two of the few young adults to re-populate the new Earth. While chemistry is apparent, Waverly has her eye on another as well. The plot shows potential and the character descriptions leave me with no doubt that I'll be pulled into this love triangle. The reviewers have begun comparing it to The Hunger Games, and hey, a girl can hope it turns out to be just as great, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

I love a good retelling! Jane Austen and her wonderful works have been near and dear to me since forever. But Pride and Prejudice has always held a special place in my heart. There is no part that I don't love. And I can prove it too. I chose to write my senior college thesis around Pride and Prejudice and if I could spend that much time analyzing, researching, and basically driving myself crazy over every small detail of the work and still come out on the other end with affection...well I think that proves my utter never ending devotion.

Some devoted fans of Austen think the original Pride and Prejudice is a classic and should be left alone, but personally I just like the chance to revisit with my favorite characters, no matter how they've been spun and tweaked. LaZebnik has produced the latest retelling in this adorable package. Say hello to Hollywood, celebrities, fame and fortune and our favorite characters intertwined into the mix.

It was fresh and fun to see "Darcy" a.k.a. Derek as the son of a power celebrity couple and "Elizabeth" a.k.a. Elise as the latest transfer student at the elite and ubber rich kid high school where he and his friends attend. Her family is still exhausting and Derek is of course the guy every girl would like to date. It's cute and funny and I couldn't put it down. This was my first experience with LaZebnik and now I'm adding her other titles to my TBR pile. If all her books are as fast paced and equally entertaining as Epic Fail, I'll be on cloud nine and a lifetime fan for sure.

I gave Epic Fail 4 shamrocks!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Countdown: Mixer Edition

I'm usually more organized when it comes to my countdown posts, but honestly when I started this one, I had so many books that I wanted to highlight that I decided to just go with it. I'm foregoing a distinct title and I'm letting you know these books are a jumble of genres. Some are romance, some fall into fantasy, etc... Basically they have one thing for sure in common...they've all caught my eye and they're all books I want to read. So let's get started...

Countdown Pick #1: The Marked (Delcroix Academy, #2) by Inara Scott (4/3/2012)

Dancia’s back at Delcroix, but this year, everything’s different. Dancia’s Talented, and her powers have earned her an invitation to join Delcroix’s real raison d’etre –the Program. Dancia’s wanted to use her powers to help people all her life — and now Delcroix is going to give her the training she needs to use her Talent for good. At least…that’s what the school saysshe’ll learn to do with her powers. Her cuter-than-cute boyfriend Cam insists that it’s true, and so do all the other students. But there’s still a little voice inside her head that wonders — if the Program’s so great, why did her almost-only-a-friend- Jack run away rather than join? And why would the school be getting attacked by angry ex-students? Dancia’s a loyal student…and a loyal girlfriend. But if finding out what’s really going on means talking to Jack, well — it’s a risk she just might have to take.

Scott's series opener, The Candidates, got me hooked and I added Delcroix Academy to a must read series. Now that Dancia's back at Delcroix I've got loose ends I'm hoping have been or will be tied up. How are Dancia and Cam doing? Where will Jack fit in when he comes back...because he has to come back right? Are the ex-students against The Program for good reason, or were they the problem and The Program merely wanted to control any possible future problems they could cause? I enjoyed Scott's quick pace and well written scenes and I'm hoping to see more of that with this latest installment.

Countdown Pick #2
: Shattered Souls (Souls, #1) by Mary Lindsey (12/8/2011)

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger...

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

I always love the chance to check out a debut author. I can't tell you how many of my favorite authors were originally found through their debut works. I may have stumbled upon them by accident or was given a recommendation, but either way they were lucky finds. There's something just so fresh and exciting about an author's first go in the publishing world. I'm not saying they're always the author's best books, but I've had really good luck in the past with debuts and I'm hoping this year is no different. Lindsey seems to have thrown a little bit of everything in this one: romance, suspense, paranormal abilities, and so much more. I might just need to add this one to my Christmas wish list.

A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

I've always considered myself a creative and imaginative person to a certain extent. But when I hear about a book like this one, James puts me to shame. His fictional/dystopian world knows no bounds. He's got an entire world going on in this book that is so colorful, dangerous, exciting and terrifying, that I just don't know where someone gets ideas like these. And I haven't even read the book yet! It sounds amazing and I am really looking forward to dedicating some time and checking James' work out for myself. Can it be as good as it sounds? I sure hope so.

Countdown Pick #4:
Witch Eyes (Witch Eyes, #1) by Scott Tracey (9/8/2011)

Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything—lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder—to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him.

No matter how many times I see it done, I'm still always impressed to find a genre like paranormal romance, and a certain main element like witches and witchcraft, spun in a new way. This genre and these elements have been used in so many different ways and by so many different authors, you would think all the ideas have been used up. Not so, as Tracey proves with his debut novel. I'll admit that I haven't read it for myself yet, but from the looks and sounds of it, I've got to say it sure seems unique to me. A witch eye and feuding families will to do anything to gain the power it wields for themselves. Oh yes, this could get ugly. Family ties, romances that are forbidden, and secrets long ago buried are up for grabs. Sign me up please, I can't wait.

Countdown Pick #5:
Half Blood (Covenant, #1) by Jennifer Armentrout (10/15/2011)

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway.

There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

Mythology of any kind is a major draw for me. Always has been and I imagine it always will be. Gods and goddesses, their powers, the destruction they cause, the lives they influence, all of it fascinates me. Armentrout's got it all going on in her debut from the looks of it and I'm adding this one to my list. The main character sounds sweet and yet like sh also has a spunky side to it. There is of course a hint of a romance or at least a crush and lots of consequences that come with every character's every action. Watch out fantasy lovers, this might be one you want to add to your bookshelves.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: The Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

No matter how many books I read that Cassandra Clare wrote I'm still surprised at how quickly she is able to draw me in. It is without a doubt a gift she has and I'm grateful for it. I wasn't sure how the Infernal Devices series would match up to the Mortal Instruments. But after finishing this opener, I think I might actually be leaning towards this new series. I found myself invested in all the characters this time around instead of just one or two.

No two are alike and I loved them all. The villains were perfectly awful, the surprise twists were unexpected, and the good guys had me rooting for them every step of the way. The reappearance of old friends like Magnus Bane was a fun addition and the new central cast of characters hooked me for sure. Tessa, Will and Jem are of course my new favorites, but I also loved learning more about those in the background like Sophie, Agatha and Thomas. Everyone had me interested and I couldn't wait to learn more.

Obviously if readers love the premise and Shadowhunter world from the Mortal Instruments series, there will be no question that they'll still be enchanted this time around. We get a little more information on their ways, and the central family names. The Lightwoods and Herondales piqued my curiosity to a record high. The pace was as quick as always and I turned the pages as fast as I could. The battles maybe could have lasted a little longer but the last one still had me reeling. I'm without a doubt anxious for the sequel, The Clockwork Prince, to hit the shelves. Hopefully December will come quickly and I'll have an awesome surprise waiting for me under the Christmas tree.

I gave The Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Across Eternity by Aris Whittier

Born a genius; education, wealth, and prestige came easy to Logan Richards. Actually, there wasn’t much that Logan couldn’t learn or acquire. However, he knew there was more to life than money and power. Logan was determined to find the woman who he'd dreamed of his entire life and know what it was like to love her before he died.

Amber Lewis, a waitress for a five-star restaurant in, Dana Point, California, was overworked, stressed, and wary of life since her sister, Heather, had passed away. Then, one evening while working she fell hopelessly in love with Logan Richards, a chivalrous man who felt deeply familiar. For Amber, it was the beginning of a voyage of self-discovery and renewal. For Logan, it was the completion of life. For each of them it was the deepest sort of love.

I went back and forth trying to decide where to begin this review and finally I realized it would have to be with a heartfelt thank you to the author. Aris Whittier was without a doubt meant to be a writer. I'm always excited and grateful when I get a review request, and this time was no different. I jumped right into Whittier's work and quickly discovered she paints a beautiful picture with her words. I owe her a thank you because I enjoyed myself tremendously while reading this book. Truly a gem, I highly recommend it.

Amber and Logan's story is what I think most people would give just about anything to experience for themselves. Their love is incredibly powerful and beyond beautiful. I'm not sure anyone could dream up two nicer, kinder, or more deserving individuals. Their selfless acts, complete trust, and ability to love and live life to the fullest was humbling to say the least.

There were parts that were difficult for me to get through and tissues were needed from time to time, but overall it's their relationship that I took with me when I finished the last page. Their love for one another that really left an impression on me. While there were tears, there were quite a few laughs to be had as well.

As this was my first experience with one of Whittier's works, I can't compliment her enough. Beautiful ideas, wonderful words and talent that abounds. I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her works in the future.

I gave Across Eternity 3 shamrocks!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Nightspell (Mistwood, #2) by Leah Cypess

Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all.
In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.

Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister . . . if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.

In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all?

After enjoying Mistwood and Isabel and Rokan's story so much, I found myself easily anticipating the release of Nightspell. While I understood this was merely a companion novel and not attached to Mistwood as a continuation or sequel, I must admit that I was slightly dissapointed.

Darri just didn't match up to Cypess' previous heroine in my opinion. I found myself encouraging her, giving her multiple chances to live up to my expectations, but she seemed to fall somewhat short. Ghostland was unique and intriguing, but sinec the main character and narrator hated it so much, I found it hard to be overly enchanted with it myself.

Cypess does know how to weave together moral dilemas without a doubt. She kept me questioning who were the "bad" guys really? And readers are constantly put in situations where they must decide what is right and wrong? Who gets to make those distinctions and who decides who must pay for the consequences of the actions taken?

Cypess had my thoughts and emotions tangled from start to finish and while I may have enjoyed Mistwood more, Nightspell was still an entertaining and worthwhile read.

I gave Nightspell (Mistwood, #2) 3 shamrocks!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Countdown: Fantasy Edition

Ever since I was a little kid I've been a huge fan of the fantasy genre. My dad started out reading me books like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit was another of his favorites, and the list goes on. At the time, those books scared me, but not enough to keep me from wanting him to keep picking others just like them. There's just something about the creativity in this genre and the limitless possibilities that pulls me in and keeps me wanting to find others like my favorites to add to the shelves in my apartment. Add to that the fact that some of my favorite authors are huge in the genre and I just can't seem to get enough. As long as this genre keeps turning out great reads, I'm not sure I'll ever find another genre that intrigues me quite so much. Here are just a few that I'm looking forward to reading real soon.

Countdown Pick #1:
The Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare (12/1/2011)

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends. The special Collector’s First Edition will include a never-before-seen letter from Will to his family!With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and...

Somehow Clare has found a way to grab a reader's attention and make them forget they're reading fiction. All that matters is finding out what happens next and how the characters make out. The Moral Instruments series became an overnight success and I don't see The Infernal Devices being any different. Clary and Jace may have captured the hearts of readers everywhere, but I've got to say that the characters she's come up with in this series are just as wonderful.

I was hesitant to take this series on only because I wanted to wait to start it only when I knew I would be able to give it my full attention and without bias. I didn't want to be wishing that the characters in her previous series would pop up on the pages, I wanted to be ready for the introduction to the new ones. When I finally picked up the series opener I was ready and excited to enter Clare's world of the Shadowhunters and see a little further into the past and how everything got started.

Countdown Pick #2:
Crossed (Matched Trilogy, #2) by Ally Condie (11/1/2011)

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

After finishing the first book in this trilogy, Matched, I was dying to get my hands on the the sequel. Condie's world fascinated me. Dystopian novels were not overcrowding my shelves at the time, but there was no way I could walk away from this series. Still wanting to know what Ky's fate was, if Cassia could find him, and where Xander would fit into it all, November just can't get here soon enough.

Condie debuted this novel and without any previous works of hers read, my expectations were not incredibly high. I didn't know what to expect. Now I will admit the circumstances have changed. Matched was such a stellar opening that I can only hope that the intensity, action packed pages, and quick pace continues on with this trilogy. Other than The Hunger Games, this trilogy was second on my list of favorite dystopian novels. It began to change my opinion of the genre, no longer thinking of it as a one hit wonder reserved only for Suzanne Collins' works. So cross your fingers with me that the magic continues on with Crossed.

Countdown Pick #3:
Destined (House of Night, #9) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (10/25/2011

In Destined, the forces of Light and Dark collide as their epic struggle focuses on Tulsa's House of Night. Zoey is home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side and preparing to face off against Neferet. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, he and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together if Rephaim can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.

But is Zoey really safe? Does she truly know those who are closest to her? And will love win when it is tested by the very soul of Darkness? Find out what s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

The House of Night
broke the mold for me when it comes to a long running series. Normally my interest wanes after too many books in one series, it all starts to seem like too much. Like the far reaching circumstances and extended scenes that in my opinion might not be integral to the overall plot begin to fill like they're just words filling up the page in order to extend the page count. Not so with this series. I'm definitely not bored, I still want to see where the story goes, and I absolutely still worry about the characters' futures. I can't wait to see where the Cast duo takes Zoey and her friends next.

I'll admit to being a little less worried going into this installment as I was with some of the previous installments. With the end of Awakened, I was somewhat content with the way things were working out. I had some ideas and hopes of how this installment and future ones in the series would go, but I'm content to sit back and crack open this book and just see where the pages take readers next.

Countdown Pick #4:
Frost (Stork, #2) by Wendy Delsol (10/1/2011)

In this sequel to STORK, Katla Leblanc has to employ her grit, spirit, and special gifts to rescue the boy she loves.

After the drama of finding out that she’s a Stork, a member of an ancient and mystical order of women, and that her boyfriend, Jack, is a descendent of the Winter People able to control the weather, Katla Leblanc is delighted when all signs point to a busy and peaceful Christmas. That is, until the snowstorm Jack summons as a gift to Katla turns into the storm of the century, attracting Brigid, a gorgeous scientist who, in turn, attracts Jack. Between the school play, a bedridden, pregnant mother’s to-do lists, and keeping an eye on her aging grandfather, Katla doesn’t have time to question Brigid’s motives or deal with Jack’s increasingly cold behavior. But Katla’s suspicions mount when Jack joins Brigid on a research expedition to Greenland, and when the two of them go missing, it becomes clear that Katla is the only one who can save her beloved Jack from the Snow Queen who holds him prisoner. Adventure, romance, and myth combine in this winter escapade for teens who like a bit of fire with their ice.

I've always loved a good romance, and while I like to see the happily-ever-afters happen for my favorite couples, I don't mind it when it takes them a while to get there. It's nice to know that they earned it sometimes. Too many times have I read a novel where the characters are not altogether all that nice and in my opinion deserving of these great guys or these great girls and yet somehow the author still ends the book with the two together, whether they're nice characters or not. While that may be realistic, sometimes I want to read to get away from how things are in real life, and see that on the fictional pages of some books, only the nice guys get the great girls, and vice versa.

In this sequel it seems Katla and Jack will have their work cut out for them if they want the fairy tale ending. I'm anxious for October reads and will be crossing my fingers as always that Katla and Jack can work things out. Are you with me?

Countdown Pick #5:
Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3) by Rachel Hawkins (3/13/2012)

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Hex Hall
became one of those series that hit my funny bone and had me laughing and enjoying myself throughout the entire book. Hawkins keeps it light and fun with Sophie and her friends. With this third installment it sounds like it may be taking a turn for the more series side. The second book most definitely had darker edge to it with the newly discovered demons and the way things were left off at the end, but I've got the feeling that Hawkins will take it even further with her next book. Sophie's without her powers and there's a war right around the corner that she will of course play a big role in. Can things go right for Sophie? Will Archer and Cal be by her side? As friends or more? So many questions and I can't wait to get some answers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Sirensong (Faeriewalker, #3) by Jenna Black

When Dana is invited to Faerie to be officially presented at the Seelie Court, it’s no easy decision. After all, everyone knows Titania, the Seelie Queen, wants her dead. But Titania claims not to be the one behind the death threats; and her son, Prince Henry, makes the decision a whole lot easier when he suggests Dana might be arrested for (supposedly) conspiring with her aunt Grace to usurp the Seelie throne. So she and her father better do as they're told…

The journey through Faerie is long – and treacherous. Dana thought it would be a good idea to have friends along, but her sort-of-boyfriend, Ethan, and her bodyguard’s son, Keane, just can’t seem to get along, and Kimber’s crush on Keane isn’t making things any easier. When a violent attack separates Dana from their caravan, the sexy Erlking saves her just in the nick of time… and makes it clear that he hasn’t given up on making her his own.

Arriving at Titania’s beautiful palace should be a relief. But Dana is soon implicated in an assassination attempt against Titania’s granddaughter, and is suddenly a fugitive, forced to leave her father behind as she and her friends flee for their lives. Will she be able to prove her innocence before the forces of the Seelie Court – or, worse, the Erlking – catch up with her? And will she save her father before he pays the ultimate price in her stead?

Finally Black takes us into Faerie! I've been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the series and couldn't have been more excited to finally see her vision play out. While I was hoping for a little more time spent at court, the overall journey was well worth the wait.

After the way things were left at the end of Shadowspell, I was on the edge of my seat even at page one to see where everything would go. With a zillion different ways Black could have rounded out this series, I think she did Dana and the rest of the gang justice.

Interesting twists and turns were laid out for Dana and Ethan, Keane and Kimber, the Erl King, and just about everyone else. While I enjoyed how Black pieced everything together, I'll admit to being a little sad throughout the majority of this edition. I knew in the back of my head that it was all coming to an end. Goodbyes would be said to these unique characters, wonderful settings and dynamic situations. It may have affected me more than I anticipated while reading this time.

still stands out for me as the "best" of this series, but Sirensong was a fast and entertaining end to a fun series. And hey, the infamous hot posset made a final appearance, and I admit I was half tempted to whip myself one up to enjoy right along with Dana and Kimber. If you're a fan of this series, you'll no doubt be picking up a copy of Sirensong for yourself, regardless of this review, but I do think you'll enjoy it.

I gave Sirensong (Faeriewalker, #3) 4 shamrocks!!!! (I only wish there was a fourth book in the series to look forward to next)


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