Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reviews: Digital Me and Perfect Opposite

Here are some long-overdue reviews for two books that I received as advanced copies from the authors for honest reviews. It must be said that I'm always slightly skeptical when agreeing to take on these early-release copies, because often times they are still in early stages of editing, and the professional copyeditor/proofreader in me screams out for a red pen or commenting feature while reading. However, I'm a sucker for new stories and I'm hardly ever disappointed when all is said and done. I really enjoyed both of these!

Digital Me by J.M. Varner

3/5 stars

All kids these days have been warned about the importance of discretion on the internet. Most, however, have not witnessed or experienced any situations personally that would prove why being careful is so important. This book gives one such example. And it does so in such an initially innocent way that the same situation could have happened to anyone, making it hit even closer to home.

Sara couldn’t wait for the social networking site Digital Me to be opened to high school students (think Facebook in 2005). Soon she is consumed in the online world, creating her own new persona and alienating her few real-life friends in the process. When a computer hacker across the globe targets Sara and her friends, things spiral out of control very quickly in this novel that serves as a warning of the dangers of personal information on the internet.
My only concern with this book is that the target audience might not have witnessed the significance first hand of Facebook opening up to high school students. I remember this being a huge deal, and could therefore relate to this book on a personal level. However, I love that this book can still be applicable today, nearly ten years later. The only possible mature situation in the book was merely implied, so I love that this book can also be suitable for middle school students who will soon be able to create their own Facebook accounts.

Perfect Opposite by Zoya Tessi

4/5 stars

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. Both characters were so enjoyable that I found myself craving more of them and returning to my iPhone to read it numerous times throughout the day. (With two little kiddos at home, it’s hard to find long stretches where I can indulge my need to read… but I made exceptions for this book!)

Sasha is the daughter of a man with some shady connections. When a deal gone wrong leaves her father and therefore Sasha as targets, Alex is hired as a personal bodyguard. Nobody realizes just how personal it will get. I loved how Alex helps Sasha work through some PTSD she’s dealing with. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Sasha and her roommate.

Zoya Tessi did a wonderful job adding humor and suspense into the love story that shouldn’t have worked but does oh so well!


Teaser Tuesday!

This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. I love this idea! It's simple:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 lines (teaser sentences) from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers... you don't want to ruin the book for others!
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teasers ;-)

This week's teaser:

Mannie woke the next morning uncertain if he had dreamed. Outside it was still pitch dark, but the habit of getting up early for work or war didn't change even if the world had.

From All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater
45% into the e-book on my Kindle app

Looking forward to hearing about the books you're into :-) Happy reading today!

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey is a fun way to recap what you've recently read, what you're currently reading, and what's next on the list. Join in on the fun by visiting here!

So here's what I have going on... It's been a while since I've posted, and I've read a number of books recently (yes, I've been doing a lot more reading than blogging!).

Here's the list of what's completed:

And here's what I'm working on:

What's up next (subject to change):


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Brush of Shade (The Whisperer's Chronicles, #1) by Jan Harman

**I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. **

Ever since losing her parents in a tragic car accident that left her walking with crutches and taking medication for pain and anxiety among other things, Olivia Pepperdine has seen and heard things. Flashes out of the corner of her eye. Horrible voice that haunt her nightmares. Although the medications take the edge off, they can't completely mask the growing concern that Olivia has that she's going insane. Adding to the tragedy, Olivia lost her brother to another car accident a few years before, and now alone, she comes to live with her Aunt Clare in Spring Valley, a remote town harboring a lot of secrets, many of which link directly to Olivia and her family.

Upon arrival, Olivia is met with mixed reactions from the townspeople. Some people seem to be elated to have her there, paying for her groceries and going out of their way to come up and say hello in the store or on the street. Others seem openly disgusted, staring, sneering, and some even going so far as to tell her to her face that she doesn't belong here. As Olivia works to make sense of the bizarre treatment, she starts to realize that there was a lot that she didn't know about her father and that her family had a strong connection, even in recent times, to this town she had never heard of.

Trying for normal and determined to convince herself she's not crazy, Olivia soon befriends Trent, a popular guy at school who is very forward and a little reckless. Like many of the townsfolk, Trent often appears to be expecting something of Olivia and thoroughly confuses her when he keeps referencing the fact that she has a lot of money, something Olivia knows that she does not. Olivia also takes an after-school job at Hattie's store, working alongside the mysteriously handsome Shade, a man who holds his own secrets and connections to this bizarre town. Shade always seems to be around, offering a shoulder to cry on and saving Olivia from any perils that come her way. Olivia tries to write off his seeming devotion by saying that there's no way he could be interested in a mere high school girl, but she soon finds out that her connection to him might have deeper roots.

Although I really liked the premise of this book, I'm not sure I connected with the execution as much as I would have liked to. I really wanted Olivia to take a stand and either fight for her freedom or take over her birthright position in the society. As it stands, I feel like her character is to wishy-washy and at times annoyingly emotional. If she complained about being crazy one more time, I think I would have lost it! Ironically enough, these are some of the same complaints that Shadow, Shade's brooding brother, had about her as well. Perhaps this was one of the reasons he was my favorite character. I also felt something lacking in Shade and Olivia's relationship. While there was definitely attraction on her part, and a pronounced eternal devotion on his, I felt like Olivia spent too much time trying to convince it away. Perhaps some scenes from Shade's point of view might have filled this void of emotion that I noticed. The character of Trent really infuriated me at times. He seemed like a chauvinistic pig and I couldn't quite understand Olivia's attraction to him or the fact that she kept going back to him and forgiving him for his buttheadedness (yeah, spell-check really didn't like that one!). I've also had a problem with third wheels lately, so maybe I'm just being biased.

Despite some of the shortcomings, it is a very interesting concept. I have a feeling I'll be reading the next installment just to see where the author takes this story line so I can watch Olivia hopefully come into her own, see how the Olivia-Shade relationship develops (and perhaps the Olivia-Shadow relationship as well!) and to see how the people of Spring Valley adapt to Olivia as their leader.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays

This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. I love this idea! It's simple:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 lines (teaser sentences) from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers... you don't want to ruin the book for others!
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teasers ;-)

This week's teaser:

He smiles at me, and I can't read what it means. I think, for just a second there, he looked up and saw heterochromatic me. Not a dead girl. Not even a ghost.
from Wither,  by Lauren DeStefano
p. 157

Ooooh... this makes me want to put everything else aside and keep reading for the rest of the day. (I'm only on page 60 of this book now!) But alas, I have carpet being installed in two rooms today and a stack of freelance editing that is calling my name. But I can't wait to see everyone else's teasers! Happy reading today!

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Monday!!!

I totally skipped out on this last week, so I'm jumping back in today for a fresh start! This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey. It's a fun way to recap what you've read, gush about what you're currently reading, and predict what you plan to read next. Plus, you get to see what others are reading/have read to bulk up your own to-read list ;-)

As you can see below, I have quite a few reviews that are in the works, and I plan to step up my game later this week. I also have a couple really promising ones in progress and coming up, so I hope your coming week looks as exciting as mine! Enjoy!!!

Have Read


Brush of Shade, by Jan Harman
This book had potential, but unfortunately didn't live up to it in my opinion. I was given a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest opinion. My full review will be coming soon.

Awaken, by Meg Cabot
This one was fabulous! I took my time reading it because I knew it was the end, but I enjoyed it just as much as the first and was really happy with the way Meg Cabot chose to wrap this one up! Review to come soon.

Perfect Opposite, by Zoya Tessi
This was another free copy granted in exchange for an honest review, and after reading the one mentioned above, I was a little skeptical about another self-published title with very few reviews on Goodreads. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this one and really enjoyed the opposites attract love story mixed with a little bit of action. Full review to come soon.

Frigid, by J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Whoa! This was so not what I was expecting from this author! Having only read 3/4 of the Lux novels from this author, I had no idea about this whole other side of her. J. Lynn is the pen name Jennifer L. Armentrout uses when writing for the adult audience. And although I turned 30 today (I know, right?) and clearly fall into the adult classification, this book had the ability to make me blush! A more complete review will be coming soon.

Currently Reading

Digital Me, by J. M. Varner
A free copy was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Although I've just started it, it looks to be a play on Facebook and the ramifications of opening the age limit to high school-aged students. I worry that the topic might be a little dated now, but we shall see!

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano
This is a fantasy story set in the future where a cure has been found to all diseases, including all forms of cancer. However, an irreversible side effect of this is that all females die at age 20, and all males at age 25. Rhyne is a 16-year-old girl who is sold as a bride (along with two other girls who will be her sister wives) to a man who is currently losing his first wife to the disease. I'm about 60 pages into this one and am really enjoying it so far! This is the first title in the Chemical Garden series.

Guilty Wives, by James Patterson
I tried this one out back when it first came out, but it was a new release from the library among a pile of other books, and I ended up having to return it before getting more than a chapter or two read. This time I'm trying out the audio, so hopefully it goes better this time around. I'm usually never disappointed with a Patterson title.

Plan to Read Next

The Truth About Forever

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Review: Opal (Lux series, #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Warning to all of you who love reading series: don't read the synopsis blurb on Goodreads for the next book until you're finished with the first one. Although I guess the good thing that came out of me not following this rule for the Lux series is that I wasn't as shocked/disappointed/heartbroken/pulling out my hair at the end of this book as a lot of others seem to have been!

But I'm way ahead of myself...

This book was, like the two before it (and I'm sure the one after), AMAZING! If you haven't already heard it enough in the short time I've been blogging, I LOVE DAEMON BLACK! Jennifer Armentrout has created the perfect relationship with just enough passion, devotion, and, often times, frustration and defiance, to make Katy and Daemon believable as a couple to keep the readers cheering for them, while not getting completely sick of them (think Bella and Edward).

Speaking of those overexposed vampires, I couldn't help but thinking as I was reading this and the other Lux installments, that this series is everything that I really wanted Twilight to be, yet so, so much more! You have the supernatural element of course, but wonderfully unique this time with aliens instead of the overdone vampires. Katy, of course, is much more tolerable than the ever-brooding Bella, and as I mentioned before, though her love of Daemon is as unyielding as that of the once-human-turned-vampire's devotion to the sparkling Edward, their relationship isn't without its quarrels and blatant defiance, often in the shape of Katy openly going against something Daemon has told her to do. Katy is not one to sit back and let a family of aliens take care of her. The only point I'll give in favor of the Twilight series in this battle is the use of the love triangle as a valid plot conflict. Before finishing the series initially, I was actually team Jacob. Of course, I had some inherent issues with the perfection of Edward as well as Bella's blind devotion to him, but Jacob had balls and went after what he wanted, consequences be damned! I admired this about him. He also seemed to have a genuine interest in Bella's well-being (not that Edward didn't) and even something to offer Bella that seemed more favorable than life as an eternal bloodsucker (i.e., warmth, a more "normal," aging life). The Lux version of this might not have intended to be as drawn out or intimate as the Twilight love struggle was, but I must say that I hated Blake from day one! And it's not necessarily for the fact that he made Katy question her feelings for Daemon or the involvement in the supernatural family of light beings. He was just such a self-centered donkey! I get that his character is essential to the plot as his connection to the DOD is a continuous conflict with the aliens. However, part of me wanted there to be an even stronger pull to test the relationship of Katy and Daemon. At times, I even wished that Dawson would prove to be this force, even secretly hoping that he was the one sneaking in to snuggle with Katy in the middle of the night. Alas, his devotion is to Beth, and this was not to be!

This lack of love triangle success does not make this book or series any less wonderful, however. Opal picks up where the second book, Onyx, left off (so if you haven't read the first two, you might want to stop now... if I haven't already ruined it for you thus far!). Dawson is back, and although he's not the same as the glimpses we've gotten from the other characters' remembrances of him, he still fills a now-bigger void in the alien family (with the loss of Adam) and his presence seems to bring a little peace, if also trepidation, to Daemon and Dee. Dawson also seems to fall into the category of people who are not opposed to Katy being a part of the group, which is good since Dee is teetering to the other side given the aforementioned death of her boyfriend, which she at least partially blames Katy for. Although it broke my heart, this breach in the friendship of Katy and Dee was wonderfully depicted, and the emotions so real, filling the void of the relationship drama that was lacking between Katy and Daemon this book. (Not that I didn't love seeing them in love of course!) Blake is also back (gag) and begrudgingly (on both sides) forms a semi-alliance with the gang as they work to overcome the scrutiny of the Arum and the DOD while figuring out how to rescue Beth and Chris (Blake's Luxen healer). The cliffhanger at the end of this book was HUGE, and although I knew it was coming, it was still beautifully and heart-wrenchingly emotional. And the best part is, coming into this series late in the game, I don't have to wait for the next one to come out like everyone else did! I'll go start it now...

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's (still) Monday!

So I know it's kind of late in the day, but I couldn't resist taking part in one of my favorite meme's from Sheila at Book Journey. This is a fun way to recap on what you've read the previous week, as well as what you plan to read in the week ahead. Plus, you can scope out what others are reading to add to your to-be-read pile ;-)

Have Read...

Last week I finished two books, one of which I've posted a review for (the other's coming soon, I promise!):

Taking Chances by Molly McAdams

 Although it received a lot of great reviews, this book was not for me. The plot had a lot of promise, but it just tried to do too much in too short a time frame. Check out my complete review here.

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A more formal review is to come, but let's just say, I love, love, love this series, and this book is no exception. Thank you Jennifer L. Armentrout for bringing Daemon Black into my life! For those of you who enjoy young adult fantasy, this series is a MUST! Can't wait to start the fourth book in the series, Origin.

Currently Reading...

Brush of Shade by Jan Harman

This is a brand new book (the first in a series) that I received from the author for review purposes. I just started it, but so far, it's pretty intriguing! Click here for more info.

Awaken by Meg Cabot

The third installment of the Abandon trilogy, this one is proving to be just as rewarding as the first one (I can't remember the second one as well, so I'm thinking it wasn't as good as the first!). Sadly, it is just a trilogy so unfortunately, this is it. I kind of want to take it slowly just to savor my time with Pierce and John!

Plan to Read...

Digital Me
Perfect Opposite

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Taking Chances by Molly McAdams

Let me start this first review by saying I tried to like this book, I really did! But every time I found a glimmer of a redeeming quality, it would be followed by redundant plot scenes or underdeveloped characters and I would be back to trying to convince myself to finish the book. I know, I know, not the best start for the first review on my new blog. But there are plenty of books out there I adore. I promise I'm not a book snob! This one just wasn't my cup of tea. Sometimes it doesn't pay to take a chance! (However, it did get pretty decent ratings on Goodreads. If fact, the person whose list I took this from for my buddy read gave it 5 stars, so you might not want to just take my word for it!)

The story starts off with Harper (love the name by the way... And would have named my son that if he wasn't... well... my SON) leaving for college and reminiscing on growing up with a widower father, a sergeant in the Marine Corps whom she calls "Sir." Homeschooled and raised by rowdy marines in training, Harper is more than ready to step out of her bubble and find herself by having "real college experiences."

This doesn't quite pan out, however, as during her first few interactions with frat boys, she falls instantly in love with two of them. Chase, the gorgeous playboy who also happens to be her roommate's brother, is everything Harper knows she shouldn't trust but can't resist. Brandon, Chase's fraternity brother, is, in contrast, everything Harper has always dreamed of and never thought she deserved. Both boys are hopelessly in love with Harper and engage in numerous verbal and physical battles to win her affections. For a good portion of the book, Harper works to convince herself why she should be with one or the other (that is when she's not seeing both of them). 

Perhaps my biggest problem with this book was that it attempted to do too much. The aforementioned love triangle takes up about the first half of the story and then something tragic happens to completely change the scope of the storyline. I would argue that the author could have ended the story here and then wrapped up the rest of the story with a summarized epilogue or a sequel (of which there is one, but not that continues the story... More to come on that later). Instead the author continues with a story that has a number of other sub-climaxes, including another man professing, over and over again, his undying love for Harper, and a too-close call with an MMA fight sequence. 

As I mentioned earlier, there were sparkling moments when I really wanted myself to like this book. Though he won't be taking the place of Ren Rajaram or Daemon Black as my book boyfriend anytime soon, I did find myself rooting for bad boy with a soul, Chase. I also thought that the plot had a lot of possibilities, but could have been better executed. For example, Harper's relationships with her father (Sir) and marine Carter, her best friend from back home, could have been expanded on more at the beginning and throughout to better set them up for the strained communication and eventual fallout with one and the not-so-surprising declaration and eventual fallout with the other. Perhaps because of this lack of development, the reconciliations with both toward the end of the book seemed a little forced. 

I also had a hard time believing the time frame in which Harper was able to fall in and out of love with the boys. While McAdams covers a lot of material in the short space of one book, Harper breezes through a whirlwind of emotional epiphanies, changes of heart, and lifetime milestones in the course of just over a year. 

Perhaps my hopes were just too high for my first read of the year. However, I don't think I will be moving on to the sequel to this title, "Stealing Harper," which is a retelling of the story from Chase's point of view. For starters, knowing what happens would make it too difficult to get overly vested in the story (if I was able to), and I'm not sure I could bear to see Harper toddle back and forth for another 400 pages. For those of you who ignore my review and give this series a try (or those who have already read both titles and/or anything else by McAdams), please let me know if I'm making a mistake by not trying the second installment. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this title, no matter how conflicting with my own they might be ;-)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Book of the Year

First Book of the Year, hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Sheila's blog was one of the first I found when jumping into the world of book blogs, and I'm excited to be a part of this event. With so many books on my want-to-read list for this year, it was hard to decide which one to start with, but I've chosen a title that I'm using for another challenge: the buddy read challenge in January for one of my Goodreads groups. So far, it's a pretty quick and interesting read.