Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me
(DIE FOR ME trilogy, Book #1)
by Amy Plum

Genre: Young Adult | Paranormal Romance

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Kate and her sister are moving to Paris after the tragic deaths of their parents to start a fresh new life with their grandparents. During that summer, in-between the visits to cafes and museums, Kate catches the eye of a young Frenchman and his friends -- who "seem" to have inadvertently saved her life. Thus, on a personal mission to discover the truth behind her new friend's talent in saving lives, Kate becomes involved in a hidden secret that drags her and her sister down into a dark battle between immortals.

Interesting concept but somewhat of a slow read that was lacking in substance and any real spirit. Kate was kind of blah to me overall and as much as I wanted to really lose myself in her story, I felt she desperately needed more energy or vitality to make her more interesting. I understand her morale was down due to mourning her parents, but for some reason, she just lacked warmth for me and becasue of that the story didn't have that certain zest I enjoy. Now, the notion of "revenants" was intriguing and I wish the book would have put more focus there instead of making it into some ludicrous romance where the girl seems feeble and the boy comes off as desperate. Hopefully, Book #2 ( Until I Die ) will bring about more fascinating characters and concentrate on the history/background of the Revenant gang.

Likes: I personally have a love-hate relationship with Paris, but to experience "The City of Lights" through Kate and her sister was pretty pleasurable.

Dislikes: Sometimes I appreciate the side-characters in a story & sometimes not . . . this book was a case in the latter for me!



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red
(Ruby Red trilogy, Book #1)
by Kerstin Gier

Genre: Young Adult | Time-Travel

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Gwyn's family is quite unique since they share a secret time-traveling gene. Her cousin Charlotte is the most recent of family members to go through the extensive training that will prepare the travelers for their adventures into the past. Little does the family expect that the lessons have been wasted on the wrong family member since Gwyn suddenly develops dizzy spells herself and literally falls back into the past--twice! Caught off guard by her new ability, she keeps it secret until the truth becomes revealed and she's quickly brought into a mysterious society that is deeply rooted with dark passages, archaic passwords, and oddly enough. . .a cute (but egotistical) boy with the same time-traveling ability. Since Gwyn's new skill was discovered ( along with another darker hidden talent she reveals to only a select few ), she and those around her have been questioning her past and just who she really is. Can the truth be revealed in the past?

This was an okay read. Nothing really special, but interesting enough that I'm tempted to check out Book #2, Sapphire Blue, in hopes it will get better and much more enjoyable. Unlike many books in a series that have continuous stories that AT LEAST contain one plot line which gets concluded within that book. . . this story just keeps going and going. So much so, that I was left hanging at the end going "That's it?" even though it was obvious book #2 would be coming out soon. I didn't feel there was a sense of completion within the tale and because of that, makes me imagine this trilogy as one big substantial book cut into three smaller/duller parts -- boo! Yet, all in all, it contained an intriguing concept that was both unique and puzzling. Book #1 gives you a taste of what to expect further into the series with little glimpses/foreshadowing of Gwyn and Gideon's adventures into the past, so I guess I'll give this series a fuller evaluation after reading further.

Likes: The clothing attire needed for each past visit was fun and I was amused by each character's reactions to their apparel.

Dislikes: With a family that was so use to discussing/praising it's "rare" gene and being very open about it, I was somewhat taken back by Gwyn's reluctance to reveal her ability to her mother due to the fact she was afraid many would consider her crazy. Didn't make sense to me!



Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test
(Goddess Test, Book #1 - Harlequin Teen)
by Aimee Carter

Genre: Young Adult | Romance | Mythology

Every girl who has taken the test has failed.

Now it's Kate's turn.

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Katie is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll becomes Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails . . .

Kathrine Winters is in a difficult place right now. She's trying to keep it together even though her Mother is close to death and she has to start a new life in a new place, knowing she could be alone in the world within just a few months. She has no other family, thus she desperately clings to her Mother and knows once the cancer becomes fatal that everything will change and she's not prepared for that. Then one night she meets a young man who makes some outlandish promises and her life now takes her in a whole new direction. Can the myths of the past really change her future?

It's been awhile since I've read a book as quickly as The Goddess Test. I simply couldn't put it down!!! I highly enjoyed the mythology and the simplicity of the overall story. When a reader can engage solely on the protagonist without a lot of outside interference ( too many side-characters, side-plots, settings, etc. ) it makes the tale a lot more entertaining, especially for my reading taste. I quickly become engrossed in Kate's emotional struggles that before I knew it . . . it was over. Thus, I'm thrilled Book #2, Goddess Interrupted, is coming out soon on March 27th.

Likes: Kate was very down-to-earth and easy to identify with as a character, thus her tale quickly become emotionally gripping since it wasn't difficult to see the world through her eyes & experiences.

Dislikes: The ending somewhat surprised me and it will be interesting to see where this will lead in Book #2 since many of the "relationships" between the characters quickly got altered.



Friday, February 24, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Historical | Fantasy

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Two kids are raised to compete in an unknown magical challenge one day. Neither knows what will be rewarded to the winner or who is their competition ( or even much about the overall challenge itself ), but nonetheless, they both dutifully work on their magic under very different and very eccentric teachers. One takes a more physical force when learning about illusions while the other studies from books how to bend the imagination, yet they grown up into powerful figures who can easily enchant and delight through there impossible tricks. Thus, when Le Cirque des Rêves is created, both find themselves drawn to it and each other as the battles truly begins.

This was a refreshing read for me since it was something new to excite my romantic taste and yet satisfy my historical curiosity. The overall book covered many different genres throughout, thus sometimes it felt very mysteriously charming, other times like a young adult adventure, and then it would flip into a very unrealistic delusion of fantasy - so it will definitely keep the reader on their toes. The narration skips all over though, so you do have to pay close attention to the year and the characters since the book will easily go back and forth in time to expand on a tale related to the circus. In the end, it all comes together but it is a bumpy ride for all ( lots of side characters and settings...even within the circus itself ) until the final chapters, so expect lots of passion and excitement as The Night Circus does what it does best . . . enchants!

Likes: (( Spoiler )) Great name for the young male character, Bailey, since it instantly brings to mind "The Greatest Show on Earth" BARNUM & BAILEY ® Circus

Dislikes: Luckily I devoured this book in just a few days, but if this was something you kept by your bed for a few weeks, I could see how easily overwhelmed one could get with the numerous narrations and small stories intertwined within the larger tale. Lots to take in!



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reckoning by Jeaniene Frost

(Originally appeared in the anthology Unbound)
by Jeaniene Frost

Genre: Supernatural Thriller | Short-Story (eBook only)

In New Orleans, a pair of undead serial killers are about to turn Mardi Gras into a horror show—unless the immortal hitman Bones can hunt them down first.
From Jeaniene Frost comes a thrilling prequel novella featuring characters from her New York Times bestselling Night Huntress series.

IN HONOR OF MARDI GRAS (Today, Feb 21st). . .

Bones is on the hunt for the famous Delphine & Louis LaLourie, who are actually ghouls and back in New Orleans during Mardi Gras to continue their deadly reign on innocent tourists. With the Majestic Voodoo Queen, Marie, out of town on business, Bones hopes this would be an easy mission, except there is also someone trying to murder him as well, with silver arrows nonetheless. As this twisted cat-and-mouse thriller quickly gets out of control, can Bones save the day (as well as his own neck) from becoming any more bloodier during carnival time?

I just had to tackle a Mardi Gras related story for today and what better character to read about than Bones, so win-win! Overall, I'll just start off by stating I'm not a fan of anthologies since the stories are way too short and always leave me wanting more, but this tale was enjoyable for the fact that it contained lots of Mardi Gras spirit - which I am totally in by the way (and, in real life, out in costume on St. Charles Avenue yelling for REX beads!) This suspenseful thriller shorty contains lots of Bone(s) action (no pun intended), so have fun with that, but also somewhat emotional when you find out the real reason behind Bones mission. Enjoy!

If you don't know about the LaLourie's . . . click here. Sometimes the truth can be creepier than fiction!

Likes: Interesting spin of truth and fiction . . . had me cracking up when I first started reading. The LaLourie's story is truly a famous New Orleans dark tale - so thanks for the spin-off Jeaniene!

Dislikes: As most short-stories in anthologies can be - the story was too choppy for me and somewhat silly (the whole musical Phantom of the Opera Mardi Gras float scene . . . I mean, seriously?)



Happy Mardi Gras

I'm on hiatus today, but here are some fun facts about Mardi Gras and this year's celebration:
  • The 2012 Mardi Gras celebration will be the 200th year for New Orleans
  • The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple; which stands for justice, green; which stands for faith, and gold; which stands for power
  • Louisiana is the only state that has made Mardi Gras an official holiday
  • 4,000 tons of trash is usually collected each year just in the Central Business District and French Quarter after Mardi Gras
  • There are 36,993 hotels rooms in New Orleans and the occupancy rate is usually in the 90th percentile
  • The bead throwing became a Mardi Gras tradition when a member of one of the Krewes dressed up as Santa Claus and threw glass beads as gifts. The bead throwing was so popular that it has continued on ever since

Laissez les bon temps rouler,


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica Rules the Dark Side
(Jessica Series, Book #2)
by Beth Fantaskey

Genre: Young Adult | Paranormal Romance

When Jessica Packwood found out she was a Romanian vampire princess, she had the shock of her teenage life. Turns out that was the easy part. Now, married to Prince Lucius Vladescu, she has to claim her throne and convince a vampire nation she’s fit to be their queen. But Jess can’t even order a decent meal from her castle’s Romanian staff, let alone deal with devious undead subjects who would love to see her fail.

And when Lucius is accused of murdering a vampire Elder and imprisoned without the blood he needs, Jessica finds herself alone, fighting for both their survivals. Desperate to clear her husband’s name and win his release, Jess enlists the help of her best friend Mindy Stankowicz and Lucius’s mysterious Italian cousin, Raniero Lovatu. But both of them are keeping some dark secrets. Can Jess figure out who to trust – and how to rise to power – before she loses everything, including the vampire she loves?

Full of romance, mystery, and danger, the highly anticipated sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side shows that sometimes a princess has to earn her “happily ever after” – with a sharpened stake in hand.

Settling into married life can be an adventure, but also quite difficult . . . especially if you're a newly-turned vampire princess ( Princess Antanasia Dragomir Vladescu ) who is lacking in power and your husband has been recently accused for a crime that could easily carry a death sentence. Having always had someone strong to stand by her her whole life, Jessica, for the first time ever, much now stand alone and hopefully gain some much needed strength/confidence/knowledge to free her husband from his falsely accused crime. Can she find the proof that Lucius's needs in time?

The murder suspense builds quickly throughout this continuation book for Jessica, but the overall tale carries a much darker plot line than the first in the series - something I did not enjoy so much. I felt the story was lacking the quirky romance that I praised so much in Book #1, but I did like that some well-loved past characters took on a stronger role ( Mindy & Raniero ). Expect lots of climatic vampire drama for the new couple, but the story fell short for me since Book #2 carried on like a whole new story (not part of a series) . . . sure there were the same characters, but the feel to the book was moody, bleak, and just very heavy with the grim subject matter (lots of gruesome death, dank prison cells, creepy cemeteries, etc.), making it difficult to enjoy throughout, compared to Book #1's silliness and whimsical charm.

Likes: Raniero grew on me! At first, I wasn't so keen on him, but in the end, I really liked him a lot . . . maybe b/c I'm such a fan of character development and his whole troubled back-story was revealed throughout the book.

Dislikes: Jessica was very whiny and hopeless at times, ugh!



Monday, February 6, 2012

Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks

Never Love a Highlander
(McCabe's Trilogy, Book #3)
by Maya Banks

Genre: Historical Romance

Caelen McCabe’s young, reckless heart nearly destroyed his clan. Now putting family loyalty above all else, he steps up to marry his older brother’s jilted bride and salvage the uneasy alliance between two clans. While beautiful Rionna McDonald is a fit wife for any man, Caelen trusts no woman, especially not this sweet temptress who torments him with white hot longing.

As the sacrificial lamb in her father’s power game, Rionna will do her duty but protect her heart and her pride from another man’s humiliation. Despite everything, the heat in Caelen’s touch melts her defenses and she craves the sensual delights of a husband who guards his emotions as fiercely as his clan. But when the ultimate battle for the McCabe legacy is upon them, Rionna’s true warrior spirit emerges. She will risk the wrath of her father, the fury of her enemies, and her life to prove to Caelen that his wife’s love is too precious to lose.

The youngest McCabe brother, Caelen, marries the twice-jilted bride, Rionna, out of duty to his family. Both go into the marriage for different political reasons but eventually end up sharing a mutual understanding that blooms into affection. Though it is a rocky relationship at first with many trivial arguments ( followed by many bouts of make-up sex ), both Caelen and Rionna create a satisfying ( and somewhat suspenseful ) romance that concludes presently . . . all while building up to the final/fatal battle with the trilogy's evil villain, Duncan Cameron. Expect lots of clan wars, stubborn male tactics, devious plotting, family ties, and a fierce maiden, but overall an enjoyable read!

Likes: The stubborn warrior personalities that both share . . . when you get past their tough outer-shell, they also are both rather vulnerable and hopeful.

Dislikes: I'm not a fan of books that focus on brutal physical abuse and yet that was quite obvious in both Rionna's past as well as her present lifestyle. That is always an emotional downer for me ( even though I can understand the author's motive to create a bleak background story for the protagonist to grow stronger from )