Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Dead by Bianca D'Arc

The most adequate way to describe how I felt about A Darker Shade of Dead is, “Meh...” It certainly wasn’t an awful book, but I found myself feeling rather apathetic about the plot and the characters. This book is actually the third installment in a paranormal romance series, which came as a surprise when I won it on Goodread’s Giveaways because nowhere in the description or on the cover/spine does it indicate that there are two books prior to this one. Perhaps if I had read books one and two before attempting this story, I would have enjoyed it more, but A Darker Shade of Dead gives me only a brief glimpse of the events that lead to the world’s current state before thrusting me into the middle of a zombie war.

The main character, Dr. Sandra McCormick is responsible for unleashing a bunch of zombies into the world when her experiment on improving healing and endurance goes horribly wrong. Overcome with guilt and a need to make things right, she joins a military program hoping that their many resources will provide her with the materials necessary to develop an antidote for the virus. Commander Matt Sykes, leader of this top secret project, proves to be quite the distraction for Sandra with is enticing physique and killer smile. It’s too bad that I didn’t swoon quite like the protagonist did every time Sykes entered the room. I’m sorry to say that the sexual tension between the two was practically nonexistent because the readers spent more time in the character’s heads than witnessing their heated encounters. Even when the two were intimate it just sort of fell flat.

One of the things I found most disappointing about this novel was the massive information dump in the first 100 pages. Between introducing all the characters from the earlier novels, highlighting previous events, describing the evolution of zombies and what measures the military took to keep the situation contained, I’m surprised that there was any page space left for romance. I just kept thinking, “When am I going to get to the good stuff?” A looming zombie apocalypse isn’t exactly a very romantic setting for two strangers hoping to find love, yet if Joss Whedon can somehow manage to make it work, I’d like to think that other writers can too. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Textual Healing by Eric Smith

I have never had a pet sugar glider, nor have I ever known any one with such an exotic pet. I wouldn’t even know where to buy one! Can you even get a sugar glider at a regular pet store? When the main character, Ace aka Andrew makes the impulsive decision to buy a sugar glider in order to impress a girl that he is smitten with, I learned that one should never leave such an unusual animal unattended. Ace’s adventure with his psychotic pet that he dubbed Ditto is just one of many scenes where the readers witness the lengths to which Ace will go to in order to impress a girl. However, it takes the right girl to show him that the best that anyone can hope for is that someone will love you for who you truly are and not the persona that you project onto others. This is a major theme in the book and is reinforced often with many of the secondary characters. Brian, the OCD vegetarian that works in Ace’s bookstore has an alter ego called Pantera that is half man, half panther with exotic moves and inexhaustible stamina. Brian, however, is just a quirky kid who lacks the confidence and sexual prowess to just be himself around women, hence the need for Pantera. We even learn that the flower-shop-owning ninja dons a disguise and speaks in haiku because she has difficulty expressing herself, especially when it comes to the pirate that she secretly yearns for.

You’re probably wondering what this story is even about. Well, Ace is a writer who had one extremely successful book that was turned into a movie. With the money that he made he bought a bookstore and spent all of his time keeping it afloat while trying to maintain his superficial relationship with his girlfriend. He never once noticed the rut that he had fallen into or that he had accomplished very little in the three years since his big success. It is only after his girlfriend breaks up with him that he realizes that he needs to piece back together the parts of himself that he lost along the way. One can’t help but love this goofy protagonist who is determined to get his life back and find true love. The crazy assortment of characters that he surrounds himself with on his journey only makes this book that much more enjoyable to read. I’ve already mentioned Brian and the ninja, but there is also Hannah from Montana who he falls in love with, as well as all of the emotionally unstable writers that attend the self-help group Textual Healing.     

As much as I enjoyed Textual Healing, I had some issues with the writing. While there are some genuinely funny moments in this book that had me laughing out loud and going back to reread some of my favorite scenes, there were also moments that were intended to be funny, but came off as rather ludicrous instead. One example of this is when the ninja sees Hannah walk into the bookstore while Ace is asleep and decides that she must protect Ace and his store by capturing the intruder and tying her to a beanbag chair. Typically this type of behavior would be considered assault and possibly even kidnapping, but rather than be horrified by what has just happened, both Ace and Hannah find the situation humorous. Unfortunately, I did not. I was too distracted by how silly and unrealistic this scenario seemed. The other issue I had with Textual Healing was the many spelling and grammatical errors. One glaring mistake that really bugged me was when Ace was describing Hannah’s outfit and he mentions that she is wearing platform boots with heels and then a few pages later remarks on how her sneakers snap against the hard floor of the church steps. If I can spot this mistake while reading this book for the first time, I don’t see how so many others could have missed it during the editing process. Despite these minor issues I had, I found Textual Healing to be a fun read and I will be keeping an eye out for future books from this author!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In My Mailbox #7


In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store.

Borrowed from the library:


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

"What are you reading now and why are you reading it?"

I'm currently reading Textual Healing by Eric Smith. I received this book from the author for review and so far I'm really enjoying it! I don't read a lot of adult contemporary fiction, but thus far this book has proved to be very entertaining and hilarious!

Summary taken from Goodreads:
 Few people have to deal with a haiku-speaking flower-shop-owning ninja every day on their way to work. Unfortunately for Andrew Connor, he is one of those people. Poor Andrew, his week has been a rough one. His former bestseller, Chasing Fireflies, is on clearance at Barnes & Noble for $1.37, his girlfriend left him for a corporate America action figure, and he's been tricked into joining Textual Healing, a support group for writers who can't seem to write anymore. Dealing with his employees at his failing used bookshop, a strange new love interest from the Midwest, and a pet sugar-glider that has somehow managed to destroy his entire apartment... when will he ever find the time to put pen to paper again?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

For me, Personal Demons was a bit of a train wreck. This book is a classic example of what not to do when featuring a love triangle in a story. No one wants to read about a protagonist that every good looking male is obsessed with. Having many men vie for her affections and compete with one another to assume the role of boyfriend is not a terribly realistic concept or even an enjoyable one to read. With this type of scenario the protagonist almost never knows who to choose and often agonizes over which boy she likes and which boy she ‘like likes.’ In Personal Demons the main character, Frannie, has the gift of sight and both Heaven and Hell want to tag her soul. The demon Lucifer and the angel Gabriel are using everything in their arsenal to woo Frannie to their side. It’s bad enough that they have to race one another to be the first one to nab her soul, but they also have to deal with the human men in Frannie’s life that are desperate to prove to her that they are boyfriend material.

In terms of plot, Personal Demons doesn’t really have one. I read more than halfway through the book and skimmed the rest, but the story never went beyond which boy Frannie should choose. As the plot sluggishly plods forward, we learn a bit more about Frannie’s special abilities and why it is so vital that either side claim her for their own, but that’s about it. Aside from a few minor revelations, this was nothing more than a soap opera with a supernatural spin. Watching Gabriel and Lucifer play tug-of-war with Frannie and try to outdo the other by upping the amount of heavy petting with each encounter was not sexy or flirtatious so much as it was painful to read. There were times when I had to set the book down because I just couldn’t deal with Lucifer’s and Gabriel’s methods of seduction. It was so forced and hokey that every time Frannie claimed that she would melt from their attentions I wanted to roll my eyes and toss the book away.

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews lately where readers are voicing how unsatisfied they are with the emergence of so many love triangles in YA books. I’m one of the few that will probably never tire of the love triangle, but I have to insist that if authors are going to write a love triangle into a story they need to follow a few short pointers!

  1. Maintain the tension between the protagonist and the two love interests to keep the readers engrossed in the story.
  2. Each love interest should have attributes that the readers finds both appealing and unappealing. One shouldn’t immediately be able to dismiss one character or the other. Make it tough on us.
  3. Keep the characters down to earth and relatable. The interaction between the characters should be natural and slow building. Don’t rush!
  4. Once you’ve decided who you want the protagonist to end up with, stick to your decision! Don’t torture your readers by having the main character go back and forth between the two.
  5. Two love interests are more than enough! Adding any more into the mix is going overboard! 

If there is one thing I really liked about the book it was the cover. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is something about the cover that really appealed to me and made me want to pick up the book again and again. It’s just a shame that the story didn’t live up to the tantalizing image on the front.

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

In My Mailbox #6

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store. 

Book I won from Goodread's Giveaways
(Won back in November and it finally) came!

Summaries taken from Goodreads:

Trapped for a classified military program, Dr. Eileen McCormick has nothing left to lose. Bad enough her genetic experiments were used to turn innocent victims into zombies; worse still, a ruthless ex-colleague is threatening to expose her unless she joins his sinister research project. Now the only way she can set things right is to develop an antidote under the watchful blue eyes of Commander Matt Sykes. And the last thing Eileen needs is Matt's penetrating gaze, easy understanding, and compelling kiss uncovering all her deepest secrets.

 Borrowed from the Library:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Borrowed ARC from a Friend:

The story of two very different women, one mortal, one mermaid, and the clash between worlds best kept apart... It is a cold day at the end of the world when a young woman, a princess in hiding, looks out across a Northern sea and sees something she could not have seen. It looks...it can't be. It looks like a mermaid's tail. And, as she looks more closely, she sees that the mermaid is dragging a drowning sailor in her arms. Because, only hours before, another princess, the daughter of the sea queen, has decided to risk everything and take a look at the world above the sea: the world of mortals. And there she finds a storm, a shipwreck, a sailor, and sets in train events which will change both women's worlds forever.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

"What was your favorite subject in school?"

Well, it definitely wasn't math because I'm terrible with numbers! I always enjoyed English, which is why I majored in it in college, but if I had to pick a favorite subject it would definitely have to be either creative writing or Fantasy in Literature. I learned a lot from the creative writing classes I took in college and the Fantasy in Literature course was a blast! 

"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?"

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins! I need to know what happens next! It such a great new series! I'm also really looking forward to reading Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Education of Bet was a quick, delightful read with likable characters and a sweet romance that no doubt put a big dopey grin on my face the entire time I was reading this book. I couldn’t help but admire the main character Bet’s spunk and determination to attend a school and receive a higher education despite the many obstacles that stood in her way, one being that she is a woman. Bet has the misfortune of being born in a time when women were not afforded the same opportunities as men. However, when she learns that her closest friend Will desires to join the army instead of attending the Betterman Academy, Bet devises a plan to take his place, allowing them both to pursue their dreams. This little adventure would not be possible of course, if both Bet and Will didn’t share some physical characteristics and if their guardian, Will’s great uncle, weren’t almost completely blind. After much preparation, Bet is on her way to learning Latin, mathematics, and how to convince a bunch of teenage boys that she is every bit the man that she claims to be.   

One of the highlights of this novel is the relationship between Bet and her roommate James. Both are oddities at this school, content to study or read during their leisure time when most boys would be drinking, smoking, or brawling. James sees in Bet someone he can really talk with and relate to, while Bet finds in James a companion whose honest and loyal friendship has made living with a bunch of unruly boys bearable even in the worst of times. However as their bond grows stronger, Bet comes to the realization that what she feels for James is more than just mere friendship. Her relationship with her floor mates by comparison is nowhere near as congenial or civilized. While Bet may look a great deal like Will, she is still a bit smaller and more feminine than most of the other boys. This makes her a target for bullies and I must say, given her unique circumstances, she handled their bullying admirably and with a sense of humor.

As much as I enjoyed this book, the truth is that everything was tied up a little too neatly in the end. When a girl is masquerading as a boy at an all boy school, certain problems or obstacles are bound to arise. Changing clothes in front of other boys, dealing with her monthly cycle, and playing in full contact sports are just some of the issues that Bet must deal with in the course of this tale. What I found to be the most frustrating was that all of these obstacles were explained away rather easily and created very little conflict for the main character. It is expected in stories such as these that one or two people are bound to discover the main character’s true identity and when this inevitably happens in Education of Bet, I was surprised by how easily these people accepted her situation. The reaction to Bet being a girl was met with either shrugged shoulders or encouragement. I don’t know about all of you, but if I found out that a girl was masquerading as a boy at an all boy school I would feel a tad bit concerned for her well being, especially given the time period that this story takes place in! If it weren’t for the short length of this novel and the lack of any real conflict, I would have rated this book a little higher.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In My Mailbox #5

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store. 

Books I Bought:

Books I Borrowed from the Library:

For Review (Thanks Eric Smith!):

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

"Who do you cheer for?"

In all honesty, I don't watch sports and I probably never will. If ever I was going to cheer for something, it would be for every time a new book comes out that I've been dying to read! Perhaps my lack of love for watching sports stems from all those painful years of trying and failing to get into shape!
To come...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

I wasn’t ‘wowed’ or moved to tears while reading Fixing Delilah, but it was a decent read that emphasized the importance of family and forgiveness. After the death of Delilah’s grandmother, the main character, her mother and her aunt set out for Vermont to try and piece back together what is left of their broken family. Delilah has very few memories of her summers spent in Vermont with her grandparents, for all the joy she experienced with them growing up is overshadowed by the memory of her grandfather’s funeral and the fight that kept her family apart for the last eight years. The mystery of this tale surrounds the source of the family feud, the truth about Delilah’s father, and the mysterious death of the aunt she never knew. Amidst all this drama and despair there is a light romance between Delilah and her childhood best friend Patrick, but their relationship isn’t the focus of this novel so much as it is an attempt by the author to lighten the mood from time to time.

I felt the pacing in this book could have been a little better considering that not much happens in the first half of the novel. Like Delilah, I became frustrated every time she approached her mother or her aunt demanding answers, only to be brushed off or ignored. Perhaps the mother’s constant evasion of her daughter’s obvious need to know more about her family was a way to keep the readers in suspense until the big reveal, but honestly every time Delilah’s mother would dodge a question or avoid the issue, it made me feel like the story was going in circles, doomed to never deviate from its set course. The romance between Delilah and Patrick in comparison seemed rushed. Given that the two spent eight years apart it didn’t take long for them to take their friendship to the next level.

The parts I found the most interesting were when Delilah is desperately trying to make sense of memories of her grandmother that would come to her suddenly and unexpectedly when she would pick up an old jewelry box or glance into a room. I also enjoyed the scenes where Delilah learned about the aunt she always longed to meet from the pages of the diary she left behind. Learning what her aunt’s life was like before she died and how much she meant to those who loved her were probably the most heartbreaking and touching scenes in this book. I have to admit that there were also moments between Delilah and Patrick that twisted my heart just a bit, but I would have preferred that their relationship developed gradually instead of the instant connection that occurred. 

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: The Greyfriar Vampire Empire

What is great about The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire is that it is a refreshing take on vampire lore. In this book vampires do not sparkle like jewels, burst into flames in direct sunlight, or increase their numbers by feeding humans their demon blood. Rather, the vampires in this tale are a powerful race that has always existed deep within the forests and far beneath the bowls of human cities. They waited centuries for their chance to take their rightful place on the surface, but the opportunity did not arise until humans began to lose their faith. Religion, magic, and prayer no longer held sway with the masses and technology became a thing of worship. Humans had made themselves vulnerable to attack because their machines were no match against such unimaginable strength.

One of the most intriguing questions brought up in this book is that if vampires need humans to survive indefinitely, which race is the stronger of the two species? When vampires rose up and conquered entire continents, they drove those who survived the slaughter into the south. Humans found sanctuary in the tropics and over time rebuilt their government and repopulated their cities. Humans don’t need vampires to survive and even in the darkest of times were able to band together and rebuild what they had lost. The main character, Princess Adele is the key to uniting the free nations in the war against the vampires, and it is her journey that makes this story really remarkable.

Adele starts out a naive, pampered princess who never ventured far beyond the castle walls and by the story’s end becomes a mature, resourceful woman worthy of taking the throne. Her transformation begins when she is abducted by a faction of vampires determined to incite a war with the south. Her companion, the legendary vampire hunter Greyfriar, goes to great lengths to free her from their clutches, but if Adele is to survive her imprisonment, she must learn to rely on her own strength. Greyfriar’s actions at first seem to stem from a sense of honor, but the further readers delve into the story, the more it becomes clear that the Greyfriar is not what he seems.

The relationship between Adele and Greyfriar was my favorite aspect of this story. They start out as strangers, but eventually develop a bond that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to read. Greyfriar possesses many secrets, but through their travels, he opens up to Adele and their tentative alliance blossoms into an unforgettable romance. If you’re looking for a steampunk fantasy with an original premise, imaginative world building, and a romance that will leave your heart aching for more, then The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire is not to be missed!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

"What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you?"

The two series that changed my life would have to be Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton. When I was really young I would read all the time because I had an older sister who loved to read and she had entire bins full of books that I could explore. When I got to high school though, I stopped reading for pleasure. I discovered the Harry Potter books some time later and from the first book I immediately fell in love with the world and the characters. Harry Potter helped me to rediscover my love for books! The Anita Blake series introduced me to the wonderful world of urban fantasy! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Laura's 'Stay'cation and IMM Christmas Special!

My staycation is at its end which means I must get out of my pajamas, stop eating leftover Christmas cookies, and get off my lazy butt! You're probably wondering what I did on my staycation, but before I tell you I should warn of all of you that I was quite the couch potato :o)

1. A person cannot truly be on a staycation unless she/he commits to watching a lot of TV! Luckily, I had Doctor Who and the Winchesters to keep me company. Time travel and demon hunting has never been so much fun!

2. No staycation could be complete with out video games, so it's quite possible that I wasted many hours hurtling very angry birds, collecting bananas, and getting harassed by a game show host in a truly hideous red suit.

3. Don't worry, I read some books too! Geez, what kind of book blogger would I be if I didn't read any books on my staycation?! I fear I may have lost some precious reading time on Christmas and New Years though, but I took advantage of the time I had left and managed to finish three fabulous books! I'm slowly, but surely working on writing my reviews and I will hopefully have at least one of them posted by the end of this week!

Curious what I read? Of course you are! Well have a look...

 4. The best staycations fall around the holidays, which mean that I got to open presents! Want to know what I got? All you have to do is follow the rabbit down the rabbit hole... errr... or just take a peak at what's IMM :o)

In My Mailbox Christmas Special!!!

I got lots of wonderful goodies on Christmas, including a toaster oven and a new flat iron, but this is a book blog darn it! So for this Christmas special I will only be showing you the books I got! I mean, did you really want to see a picture of my flat iron? I didn't think so! Then again, there was this one gift that I got from my wonderful, handsome, and overly generous boyfriend that I would like to share with all of you. Even if it's not technically a book, I can still read books on it...

Now as you look at this picture, I want you to imagine that the opening theme to Star Wars is playing! To say that I was shocked to receive an iPad is a bit of an understatement, especially considering that I asked for a kindle! The way I figure it though, this is something that my boyfriend and I can share. The fact that I've already caught him sneaking off with my iPad on several occasions only strengthens my belief that this new toy was meant to be enjoyed by both of us :oP

Books I received this holiday season:

If you have not read any of these books what are you waiting for?! They're awesome! Well, I hope everyone enjoyed this post! I only have a few precious hours left of my staycation and I'm going to spend that time reading! I can't wait to catch up with all of you and see what I missed! Before I go back to reading though, their is just one thing I need to do...