Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Release Date: 1-2-2012
Publisher: Poppy
Format: ARC
Genre: YA, Contemporary
My rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis from goodreads:

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.


This book has done nothing but make me smile the whole way through! I've been on a contemporary kick lately and have heard so many great things about this story, so I had a feeling I would love it, and clearly I did. I just love the tone of the book and how it alternates between being light and witty, and then real and emotional. You can't help but get caught up in Hadley and Oliver's budding romance, and after a while it's hard to believe that everything they go through has only happened over the course of one day.

The book starts off with Hadley missing her flight to London; where her dad is getting married to a woman she's never met. But missing her flight is pretty much the best thing that could ever happen to her, because it led to her meeting a very swoon-worthy boy named Oliver (who by the way has an English accent, which is always a plus!). The chemistry that these two have and the ease at which they get to know eachother is so delightful and believable, and I loved every second they were together. This is a couple I was rooting for from the very beginning, because it's so clear that they're meant to be together. With them the author does so well at covering all of the emotions that go along with falling in love: the uncertainty, excitement, shyness, longing, compulsive thoughts, and a fear that you're maybe misreading the signs--all of these are honest and accurate depictions.

There were moments when the plot detours into specific memories that belong to Hadley, and I think that fit into the plot well and made Hadley more relatable. It's clear that Hadley and Oliver both have family issues that are weighing them down, which in a way solidifies their connection even more. They were there for eachother at a time when it seemed like no one else could bring them comfort.

I absolutely loved the last chapter of the book because instead of feeling like an ending, it gives you the distinct impression of a wonderful beginning. I will definitely be re-reading this book whenever I need a heartfelt smile and laugh.

So pick up this book if you're looking for a genuine, feel-good novel--one that is made up of first loves, self-discovery, the possibility of fate, and the journey and connection of two people getting to know eachother.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Mind Over Monsters (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation, #1) by Jennifer Harlow

Published: 10-8-2011
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Paperback, 273 pages
Genre: Paranormal Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
Series: F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation
My rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis from goodreads:

Very few people know the truth about Beatrice Alexander. She's no ordinary schoolteacher with a fondness for classic movies. Beatrice can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing and dangerous skill that she's never learned to master—or embrace. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins F.R.E.A.K.S. The Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals is a top-secret offshoot of the FBI that "neutralizes" ghouls, trolls, and other monsters threatening humanity.
 
Beatrice has no desire to become Buffy the vampire slayer. But F.R.E.A.K.S. offers training to control her power. Also, she doesn't feel like such a freak next to the other supernatural members, including a cute former detective who's a werewolf and an unbearable vampire determined to seduce Beatrice. Despite a natural instinct to flee from hideous, bloodthirsty zombies, Beatrice must prove herself on her first mission to find a cunning necromancer.

First I would like to thank the author, Jennifer Harlow, for sending me this book! I won it in a goodreads giveaway and she was nice enough to also send me an awesome bookmark, a list of songs on the playlist for the book, and a very nice card/note.

Let me begin this review by saying that this book pretty much rocked my socks! I love all things paranormal, so when I started in on this story I quickly discovered that I'd hit the motherload! In this book is the existence of every supernatural entity you could think of: ghouls, zombies, ghosts, trolls, necromancers, werewolves, vampires, ogres and so on. There are also several individuals with psychic abilities ranging anywhere from mediums to pyrokinetics--anything is possible in this book. Aside from the outstanding characters and creatures, this story is very creative and well-written. The storyline is also very fast-paced and the book is extremely hard to put down.

The protagonist and narrator, Beatrice, is my kind of gal; she's smart, witty and incredibly fun to read about, and seeing things through her perspective is a fun and exciting experience. One of the things I love most about her is how much she grows throughout the novel. She starts off being scared, unsure and isolated because of her gift as a telekinetic; but over the course of the story she ends up being more self-aware and a total badass!

Joining the "F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad" proves to be a very dangerous but rewarding experience for Bea. Her first assignment involves a grueling investigation to stop a murderous necromancer and this process involves a lot of blood, sweat and danger--and the wielding of a machete (yes, Bea's cool like that!). My favorite thing ever is a female character holding her own and kicking some serious butt, and that's exactly what Beatrice did.

Another reason to absolutely adore this book is the hot werewolf and the seductive vampire who are both interested in Bea. These two characters couldn't be more different, but they are both extremely desirable nonetheless. Will, the werewolf, is in charge of the "F.R.E.A.K.S." and he's got plenty going for him; he's smokin' hot, strong, and has a lot of integrity. This man also has a very boy-next-door vibe going on that's impossible to resist. Oliver, A.K.A. the most gorgeous man and vampire in the history of EVER, has a devilishly smooth way about him. At first I wasn't sure how to feel about him, because he's one of those guys that you should probably hate but he's just so darn charming that you can't. His interactions with Bea cracked me up every time, and I grew quite fond of him after some of his many layers were peeled back to reveal a kindness under that pompous exterior. It will no doubt be interesting to see how the tension between Bea and these men carries out.

This book has quickly become a new favorite of mine and to say that I am eagerly awaiting the second book in this series is a serious understatement. I cannot wait to read more about Bea; with her sassy talk and overall amazing demeanor that will never cease to entertain. So, do yourself a favor and get your hands on this book, because you will not be disappointed!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a fun way to exhibit the books we recently acquired.

*All titles link to goodreads*

Won:


  • The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg (ARC copy)
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
  • Pizza wallet (Inspired by The Catastrophic History of You & Me)
  • Follow Your Heart luggage tag (Inspired by The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight)
  • Football charm necklace (Inspired by the book, Catching Jordan, which I exchanged for The Future of Us because I already own Catching Jordan)
  • Pumpkin spice soaps (Not pictured)
-I won these books and swag from a giveaway hosted by the lovely Sarah at The Book Life. I can't even begin to express my excitement over winning this prize pack, and I am so excited to read these books! =D



-I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. The author sent me a signed copy of her book; as well as a bookmark, a list of the soundtrack for the book, and a very sweet note/holiday card. I'm about to start reading this book and I'm super excited about it!

Gifted:


-My friend/co-worker, Cindy, gave me this book for Christmas. I recently let her borrow Anna and the French Kiss and she loved it (as did I!). So when she learned that I hadn't bought and read Lola and the Boy Next Door yet, she got it for me. She's so sweet! I can't wait to read this. :)


-My best friend, Sarah, surprised me with an email from Barnes & Noble saying that she bought this for me for my nook! I had no idea you could do that, but it's pretty awesome. Thanks Sarah!

Bought:


  • The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 
-This is a small book of the poem, The Raven. It came with a raven (as you can see in the right side of the picture) that says "Nevermore" when you press a button. This was left over from Halloween at my local book store, and because of my love for all things Poe, I had to get it!

As you can see I'm in book heaven this week. I can't wait to read all of these!
What's in your mailbox? =)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Review: Dreams of Gray by Maurice Lawless

Published: 12-2-2011
Publisher: Red Iris Books
Format: ebook
Genre: Adult Paranormal Fiction
My rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis from goodreads:

Dreama Cargill is in trouble. She woke up naked, cold, and sporting a back mural. Where did it come from? Tattoos aren’t her usual scene. Then again, neither is blood and a strange attraction to the woods at night. Something is changing her, and not for the better. Can she unravel the mystery before the moon calls her to kill?

First I would like to thank the author and Red Iris Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

Dreams of Gray is a short novel that isn't exactly what I'm used to reading, but it held my attention nonetheless. I usually just read young adult books, but the synopsis for this adult paranormal story caught my eye and I couldn't pass it up. There is a lot going on all throughout the story and there really doesn't ever seem to be a lull, which I liked. There are some sexual situations that take place along the way and while I don't think they necessarily add to the plot, they don't distract or take away from it either.

The book is from the perspective of Dreama, a.k.a. Dree. She's a clever and amusing character and I was instantly drawn into her story! The changes she goes through and her quest for the truth are both scary and fascinating, and I was extremely curious about how things were going to play out with her and her new-found abilities. She meets some interesting people along the way that she is now connected with and unlocks a pretty shocking truth regarding how she came to be the way she is.

The paranormal aspects of this book were pretty interesting and spun differently than what I would have expected, which is one of the things I liked about it. On one hand I feel the end of the book is too abrupt and leaves me wanting more answers, but then I realize that the author probably means to leave the reader wondering. All I know is that there's no going back for Dree!

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a short, but entertaining, paranormal read.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Practice Cake by Dalya Moon

Published: 10-20-2011
Format: ebook
Genre: YA Contemporary
My rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis from goodreads:

There’s one thing Maddie finds more tempting than red velvet cake: her coworker, Drew. All it takes is one of his sly winks or a playful hip-check by the cooler, and she’s incinerating the cookies. Her boyfriend would not approve.

When a reality TV crew descends upon the bakery, her simple summer job gets even more complicated. Maddie could become the Bakery Network’s next breakout star, if she can handle the heat of being cast as a show villain. Drew has an alternate idea: run away from everything, with him and his sexy tousled hair. She decides to take the leap, but when she finds out Drew’s been hiding a shocking secret, Maddie looks down at her packed suitcase and takes a moment to think. Should she fly off to Australia with a guy she hardly knows, or should she pick up her suitcase and hit him with it?

Chock full of imperfect people behaving badly, Practice Cake is for readers who enjoy a good laugh.


First I would like to thank the author, Dalya Moon, for giving me the opportunity to read this fantastic book. I'm so glad I requested a copy because I really enjoyed reading it!

Practice Cake proved to be a cute, delightful and enjoyable read. The story flows really well and I didn't find myself getting bored with it once. This book is also very well-balanced; with the right amount of humor, heartache and serious dilemmas. There is also a wide range of characters that are woven into the plot and you'll find yourself wanting to either smack some of them or laugh with them. I admit that going into it I thought the plot was going to be pretty predictable, but I was completely wrong and was pleasantly surprised by things that went in directions I wasn't expecting.

The female protagonist, Maddie, was extremely entertaining and had me chuckling several times. This is a girl that I would love to be friends with! She's extremely ambitious, despite what some of her family and friends say, and she's a very strong individual. Maddie is also very relatable; with very real family problems and boy trouble (speaking of boy trouble, her dating misadventures were quite comical!!). Her sister, Melanie, was one of my favorite characters. I envied their bond and got a kick out of their banter. I also liked Maddie's best friend, Jaslene. She could be a bit passive-aggressive at times but overall her presence complimented Maddie well.

The bakery where Maddie works is an interesting setting, especially when you combine the reality t.v. crew that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for her. Despite all of the drama going on in that place, it seemed like a fun place to work. There was definitely never a dull moment where Maddie was concerned.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, real and satisfying read filled with unexpected laughs-- you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Published: 9-27-2011
Format: Hardcover, 452 pages
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Series: Mara Dyer
My rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis from goodreads:


Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.
                                                              
This book is just so many wonderful things all at once. Michelle Hodkin weaves a very intricate and suspenseful plot that is incredibly impressive and fresh. The entire story is a mesmerizing and mind-blowing experience, and it's impossible not to experience an onslaught of emotions while reading this book. There is a hearty dose of mystery, intrigue, adventure, copious amounts of humor and snark, and emotional depth that will be sure to keep any reader satisfied. I loved everything about this book, seriously, and I just cannot say enough good things about it.

Mara is such a complex character, and it was so easy to fall into her world and experience things right along with her. The book basically starts off with her waking up from a coma and having no memory of where or what she was doing before that, but it's clear that she's had an accident. After Mara wakes up and is able to leave the hospital, she can't shake the bad feeling that she has, and then really strange things start happening to her. These things continue and intensify after her family moves to a different state for a fresh start. She is surrounded by mystery and unanswered questions, and she's not sure what's real anymore (and neither is the reader!). I won't go into detail about too much, because there's just no way to discuss everything I want to address without ruining the story for those who haven't read this book yet, but I will say that the unusual things that happen to Mara seriously messed with my mind. I honestly had no idea what the heck was happening, and I had no inkling as to what the big "reveal" in the book would be; but it was shocking, and there was more than one!

As Mara tries to move on with her life after her accident, she is thrust into a new school and encounters some interesting people. Noah, the sexy boy with an English accent, becomes a delightful and integral part of Mara's life. He is just....SO VERY SEXY. I mean, really, this dude is the complete package. He's infuriating, hot, smart, chivalrous, mysterious and understanding. I really liked how Mara didn't instantly fall at his feet, though. She stood her ground and called him out for being arrogant and jerk-like at times. But when they get to know each other better and their attraction grows stronger, things get steamy and intense, and we find out that Noah has his fair share of mystery as well. There is so much more to these characters than meets the eye. Noah's connection to Mara is still confusing and alarming, but no matter what, I'll never get enough of these two, and I can't wait to discover more about them!


Also, I really hope we get to see a lot more of Jamie, Mara's new friend, because he provides many laughs and he's super awesome. Daniel, Mara's older brother, was fantastic as well. He's a great support system for Mara, and he's a great guy. Mara's entire family is pretty great, actually. I'm interested to see how certain things will play out with them.

One of the things I loved about this book was that the reader is kept so far in the dark for a while, but then as soon as one thing is revealed, it's like a dam of information has been broken, and the whole tone of the book kind of changes. Even after discovering everything that is revealed, there is still so much more to learn. Seeing how certain people and things are connected will be quite interesting and I'm extremely curious to see how everything comes together and is connected, because the ending is just so mind-boggling and gasp-inducing!

I highly recommend this book, and believe me when I say that you will not be disappointed. There's just no way to know how amazing it is until you read it! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Published: 10-4-2011
Format: Paperback
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Series: Carrier Trilogy
My rating: 2 & 1/2 out of 5 stars

Synopsis from goodreads:

From the moment she sets foot at her new school in Ireland, Megan is inexplicably drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. But Megan soon discovers that her feelings for Adam are tied to a supernatural fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that unites them could be their ultimate destruction.

This electrifying debut novel was first discovered on inkpop.com. the online community for aspiring writers. THE CARRIER OF THE MARK sizzles with unbridled romance, a unique supernatural hook, and a breathtaking Irish setting, and will entice fans of the Need series by Carrie Jones and the House of Night series by P. C. and Kristin Cast.


Let me start this review by saying that this book left me feeling terribly conflicted; so much so that I had a difficult time trying to figure out how to rate it. On one hand, some aspects of this book are pretty original and I appreciate the fact that the author was able to introduce me to some things that I haven't come across in a paranormal book before-- for instance, the story behind the "Carrier of the Mark". However, on the other hand, there were far too many similarities between this book and a popular series that I've read in the past. Some of these similarities are so small that they could possibly be called a coincidence, but then there are some huge ones that are undeniable and too alarmingly familiar to overlook.

The frustrating thing about this book is that it has so much potential. I really wish that the aspects of this story that I found so terrific could prevail over the many things that bothered me, but they can't-- they're at least evenly matched, though. Aside from the bothersome occurrences of deja vu in this book, I also found that the love that developed between the main characters, Megan and Adam, was too contrived. There was absolutely no build-up to their union, they were just like "Hey, let's run into each other at a party and make out under a tree without first having any kind of conversation that has substance". I mean, seriously, this dude has a shite-ton of explaining to do and Megan doesn't even bother demanding any explanations from him before they start swapping saliva? That's just plain silly. I can usually be okay with the whole, "instant and undeniable attraction" thing, but for some reason, this time it didn't sit well with me. I also felt like these two were way too obsessed and intense with each other, to the point of being selfish at times. But at the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I feel the need to add that there were things about them I liked. I really started off the book liking Megan a lot. It wasn't until she got all needy that I began to resent her a bit. Overall, she's not that bad, and by the end of the book I gained a little more respect for her on some levels, and the same goes for Adam. But yes, I'm still annoyed with them, because on several levels they still look like creepers.

Although this book gave me hardcore mood swings, I want to add that I really liked several of the other characters in this book. The members of Adam's family are terrific, and I would definitely be more inclined to continue reading this series if it were mostly about Adam's sister, Aine, or his sexy older brother, Rian. Megan's friend Caitlin is a great character as well, she was just an all-around nice person.

Another positive about this book was reading about what it means to be a "Carrier of the Mark", because it proved to be unique and interesting. This was one of the elements of the book that I truly enjoyed, because you can really tell that the author put a lot of thought and effort into making sure that her facts come together to clearly explain all of the paranormal aspects that are present. I admit that at times I felt like I was on information overload, but I would much rather have too much information thrown at me than not enough.


I apologize if this review seems scattered and jumbled with a side of contradiction, but as I said before, my outlook on this book is conflicted. I really don't hate it, I'm just disappointed.

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