Category Archives: Goodreads challenge

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Love, in Theory: Ten Stories by EJ Levy

Love, in Theory: Ten Stories

by EJ Levy

Book Description

In this funny, brainy, thoroughly engaging debut collection, an award-winning writer looks at romance through the lens of scholarly theories to illuminate love in the information age.
In ten captivating and tender stories, E. J. Levy takes readers through the surprisingly erotic terrain of the intellect, offering a smart and modern take on the age-old theme of love–whether between a man and woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or a mother and a child–drawing readers into tales of passion, adultery, and heartbreak. A disheartened English professor’s life changes when she goes rock climbing and falls for an outdoorsman. A gay oncologist attending his sister’s second wedding ponders dark matter in the universe and the ties that bind us. Three psychiatric patients, each convinced that he is Christ, give rise to a love affair in a small Minnesota town. A Brooklyn woman is thrown out of an ashram for choosing earthly love over enlightenment. A lesbian student of film learns theories of dramatic action the hard way–by falling for a married male professor. Incorporating theories from physics to film to philosophy, from “Rational Choice” to Thorstein Veblen’s “Theory of the Leisure Class,” these stories movingly explore the heart and mind–shooting cupid’s arrow toward a target that may never be reached.

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS

Love, in Theory: Ten Stories by E.J. Levy

This is my first collection of short stories I’ve ever had to review, so forgive me if this seems a little clunky…I’m not quite sure how to rate the entire book.

Love, in Theory is composed of ten short stories that deal with all kinds of love: new love, old love, husband and wife, mother and daughter.

Some of the stories were very good, while others were less than enthralling. My favorite was “Small Bright Thing”, in which both a mother and daughter must face that the other’s life is changing.

The author definitely has a gift for making you feel what the character is feeling, which is pretty cool since the characters across the stories are all so different and so many different emotions are present. She also has a knack for getting inside each person’s mind and making them confront things they don’t really want to.  The characters, not the plot, are the heart of the stories.

I’m not entirely sure short stories are for me, but this offering was rather intriguing and I’m glad I read it. If nothing else, it concretes the idea that love is anything but straightforward.

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About the Author

E. J. Levy is an award-winning writer. Her short stories and essays have appeared inBest American EssaysThe New York Times,The Kenyon Review, and Paris Review, among other places, and have earned a Pushcart Prize, a Nelson Algren Award, a scholarship to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and twice been named among the year’s 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories, among other honors. She is editor ofTasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers (Avon), which won the Lambda Literary Award. This is her fiction debut.

To learn more, visit ejlevy.com.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Going Under by Georgia Cates

Going Under

by Georgia Cates

Going Under Series, Book One

Book Description

Jessie Boone is a self proclaimed bad boy and doesn’t march to the beat of anyone’s drum, but his own. Growing up in less than desirable circumstances has made him no stranger to the hard knock life and his determination to leave it behind is fierce. When he finds himself transferred to East Franklin High School, he sees his opportunity to use his athletic ability to snag a college football scholarship, but Forbes Henderson, the player Jessie means to replace isn’t giving up his spot willingly. In fact, Forbes is willing to go to extreme measures to retain his place as first string quarterback. When Forbes’ malicious plan to injure his replacement fails, Jessie is furious and determined to show him he messed with the wrong person; not only is he going to take the position of first string quarterback, he’s going to take his girl, too.

Claire Deveraux is perfection at it’s best. She is beautiful, intelligent and unaware she just became Jessie Boone’s conquest as revenge against her boyfriend, Forbes Henderson. Like her flawless performance as the perfect daughter and student, Claire’s production of being the perfect girlfriend has everyone fooled, except Jessie Boone, and she fears this tattooed bad boy will see her secret desire to explore his crude threats and promises to rock her perfect world. If she decides to give in to one uninhibited moment with Jessie, will she learn too late that it was all an act of vengeance or will Jessie learn the taste of first love is sweeter than that of revenge?

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

 

Going Under by Georgia Cates

Jessie Boone is just starting in a new school full of rich kids after dire circumstances forced him to move in with his drug dealing grandma. Claire is the quintessential beautiful cheerleader dating the quarterback. But when Jessie and Claire come together, sparks fly.

But if they want to be together, they have more than their fair share of hurdles to get over. Claire needs to ditch her controlling, two timing boyfriend, and Jessie has to figure out a way to keep Claire from learning the sad truth about his life. Unfortunately for both of them, the truth always has a way of coming out.

As I was reading this, I definitely noticed it had a lot in common with Pushing the Limits, but this book was published first (interesting.). However, I felt this story was better told.

The story is told from both Jessie and Claire’s alternating points of view, which I loved. With a book that is so centered in a relationship, I believe it’s important to get to see each person’s true feelings.

Jessie put on a tough front, which of course was necessary for him to just make it through his everyday life. But I loved that he was sensitive even from the beginning. I know that sounds like a YA stereotype, but he was different. It’s something I can’t explain, you just need to read the book to understand.

Claire was OK on her own, but overall I enjoyed Jessie’s chapters more. Claire’s best friend Payton was actually more entertaining for me.

The chemistry between Claire and Jessie was sizzling and palpable, but the book actually keeps their physical contact pretty clean. I love that they didn’t jump into bed together quickly. I believe this is important in YA books, and lets teen readers know that a relationship doesn’t necessarily need sex for it to be hot.

As the book got to its’ ending chapters I felt my emotions being wrenched. The story definitely got to me, and I loved the way it ended, even though it was a little bit too perfect.

I believe this is a book that everyone will love, and the author has a gift for making readers feel what the characters are feeling.

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About the Author

I am a wife, mother of two daughters and a labor and delivery nurse. I have recently added Paranormal Romance Writer to my list of things to keep be busy, but I am ecstatic to release my debut novel, Blood of Anteros, the first book in The Vampire Agápe Series.  I am also the author of Going Under and Shallow.

Like others that enjoy a great story of paranormal romance, I am easily bored by the tale of an obtainable, ordinary romance and was inspired to create The Vampire Agápe Series. When I am not tied up with my family or delivering babies, I am working feverishly on the third book in The Vampire Agápe Series.

Twitter: @GeorgiaCates
The author is offering a tourwide giveaway.  Prizes:
 US Only: (2) Signed print copies of GOING UNDER
(2) GOING UNDER T-Shirts
International: (5) eBook copies of GOING UNDER and SHALLOW

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: My Boyfriend Merlin by Priya Ardis

My Boyfriend Merlin

by Priya Ardis

My Merlin Series, Book One

Book Description

He was a little older than he was letting on. By a few eons…

In this modern Arthurian, 17 year-old Boston high schooler Arriane, aka Ryan, DuLac just found out the guy she’s been crushing on, hot biker Matt, is a little older than he was letting on. In fact, he is really Merlin—the Merlin, King Arthur’s Merlin, the greatest wizard who ever lived. Frozen in a cave for over fifteen hundred years, he’s woken for a purpose. But Ryan’s not impressed. Tired of being a relationship loser, she’d rather kick his legendary behind.

Sure, the world has been crazy ever since the sword and the stone fell out of the sky like a meteor. But despite gruesome gargoyles, a deadly new world of magic, and the guy driving her crazy, Ryan knows that family is everything. Will Merlin sacrifice hers to save the world? Will she be able to stop him?

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

My Boyfriend Merlin by Priya Ardis

Ryan DuLac is a high school student with some problems: she and her boyfriend Matt have just called it quits, and since her mother’s death, she’s been living with a close friend of the family. But everything in her life is about to get way more complicated.

When Ryan loses her best friend in a freaky dragon attack, she learns that there’s more to the world than meets the eye. Magic is real–and Matt is not really Matt. Ryan quickly gets on the track to becoming an unlikely hero.

This book was a really cool spin on Arthurian legend..not quite a retelling, but all the components we know and love are there: Merlin, Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake. Along with a few unique chracters I really loved.

I really liked Ryan from the start of the book, and as it progressed she got even cooler for me. Though she was thrown some pretty unbelievable roadblocks, she stood strong and didn’t rely on anyone to help her. She worked out her own problems and was not falling all over herself around the guys. And…I’m always a sucker for a girl who punches a guy in the face 🙂

Matt is Ryan’s ex, and he actually turns out to be Merlin, the legendary wizard. Although he has broken Ryan’s heart, there is a reason behind it. He was a truly nice guy but very focused on his work. Vane is Matt’s brother, also a wizard. He’s more of a loose cannon and the brothers have some issues between them. Although Vane and Ryan clash, they can’t stay away from each other and things get pretty heated. So yes, this book does have somewhat of a love triangle, which I usually hate. But the chemistry between Ryan and the two brothers was really sizzling, and I like it when I actually have no idea who the heroine will pick. The triangle kind of reminded me of Damon-Elena-Stefan from The Vampire Diaries (one of my fave shows).

I loved the romance aspect of the book, but the action was definitely not lacking. Fast-paced scenes start very soon in the book, and they are interspersed nicely throughout the novel. This made it a very compelling read, and I never got bored.

The author did a very nice job with weaving the traditional Arthurian elements with completely original supernatural ones, and I really enjoyed reading this novel. I am definitely excited for the next!

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About the Author

Priya Ardis loves books of all kinds—but especially the gooey ones that make your nose leak and let your latte go cold. She started her first book at sixteen, writing in notebooks on long train rides during a hot summer vacation in India. Her favorite Arthurian piece is the poem The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson. A hopeless romantic, she’s a longtime member of the Romance Writer’s of America. When not living in her characters’ world, she might be found at the local coffee shop—her nose buried in a book.
You can win paperback or ebook copies of the first two books in the series!

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REVIEW: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe

by Sarah Crossan

Breathe Series, Book One

Book Description

Inhale. Exhale. 
Breathe. 
Breathe. 
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina
has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn
should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea
wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

*Below is a review that will most probably make people mad at me…*

Quinn, Alina, and Bea are teenagers in a dystopian future where the atmosphere has been depleted of oxygen, making it impossible for anyone to breathe. As a result, The small population of survivors from The Switch now lives in a structure called The Pod, where air is pumped in and pretty much every aspect of life is controlled by an oppressive government (any of this sounding familiar yet?).

Quinn is the oldest son in a prominent family, and happens to be best friends with Bea, a brilliant but poor girl who has high aspirations. Alina is a member of a resistance group that plans to bring Breathe (the government) down. When Quinn meets Alina, he immediately becomes interested in her, and soon all three of the kids’ lives are intertwined, for better or worse.

Breathe was one of the most anticipated releases of Fall 2012. I was one of those bloggers who heard about it ages ago and immediately put it on my TBR list. But unfortunately, the book description that roped me into wanting to read this book was just about the only compelling thing about it.

I was so excited to start reading this book, but once I started, the many shortcomings I found made me not want to finish it. First off, maybe it’s just me having dystopian overload, but I feel like I have read this story. So. Many. Times. Pure by Julianna Baggott comes to mind, countless others. It’s kinda like the author went down a dystopian novel checklist:
-Oppressive Government: CHECK
-World changing event THAT IS NEVER TRULY EXPLAINED: CHECK
-Resistance group with a crazy leader: CHECK

Then there was a YA checklist:
-Love triangle: CHECK
-Non-existent/non-caring parents: CHECK
-Whiny girl, idiot boy, kickass (but not quite) heroine: CHECK

So many things about this book didn’t make sense to me. Just for example: the kids find a drifter, an older lady named Maude. She explains that before The Switch, she was training in the medical field. That would take a person with fairly high intelligence, correct? Well, in this book she talks as if she just stepped out of 1870’s Appalachia. “I weren’t no threat.” and such. Maybe I picked things apart, but hey, I’m a reviewer so things like this catch my attention.

Characterization was severely lacking in this novel, and I’d be hard pressed to say I found redeeming qualities in any of the characters. Quinn made me want to punch him several times, Alina just wasn’t the smartest, and Bea had no backbone. The sort-of-but-not-quite love triangle was very annoying.

There are several other things I had issues with, but honestly, I am tired of talking about this book and I’m ready to get it out of my mind. I only finished it because I started it…and I kind of wish I hadn’t.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Tools of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman

Tools of Prophecy

by Michael A. Rothman

The Prophecies Series, Book Two

Book Description

The TOOLS OF PROPHECY is the second volume in an epic saga which describes a prophecy that has placed the Riverton brothers in the lead roles of a struggle to save their world from being overrun by unspeakable horrors. This destiny requires that they face off with the demons that nearly destroyed their world over five centuries ago.

In the first book, the population of wizards had been practically eradicated by the former tyrant. The Rivertons are now charged with creating an Academy of Magic, recruiting qualified students, and furthering their own training with secrets that have long been held by the reclusive elves.

Despite their youth, a mysterious spirit has engaged them in an epic struggle to gain mastery of their newfound skills, help raise and train two armies, and stay alive long enough for their final showdown with destiny.

The only things that stand in their way are the assassins hired to destroy them and the Demon Lord’s minion who holds a personal grudge and intends to witness the young boys’ deaths.

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

*Spoiler warning! This review is of the second book in a series and possibly will contain spoilers from the first book.  You can find my review of the first book, Heirs of Prophecy, HERE. *

Tools of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman

Two years have passed since the Riverton family arrived in Trimoria and acquired their magical powers. But a new threat is never far away, and dad Jared Lancaster knows his boys and everyone else close to him must be prepared when that threat nears.

So the boys are sent to train and strengthen their powers with the elves, and Jared opens a school where all citizens who show some magic potential can attend. New allies and old friends come together to face the latest evil Sammael has to offer.

Even though it had been several months since I read the first book in this series, I found it quite easy to slip back into the wonderful world Michael Rothman has created. The author does a fantastic job of refreshing the reader’s memory at the beginning of the book without repeating too much information.

I flew through reading this novel quite quickly. I really enjoyed seeing Ryan and Aaron get stronger, but I felt this book was a bit more lopsided on character focus than the previous one. I would have like to have seen more from the perspective of Aaron, especially, as his brother seemed to get more space in the book. I was used to being able to see what everyone was doing and thinking in the first book, so I kind of missed that here. We did, however, get a closer look into the wicked queen Ellisanethra and a brief look at the behind the scenes at demon lord Sammael’s world.

With the building of the magic school we saw the introduction of several new characters, and they all bring with them a distinct personality. A few already familiar characters get unexpected powers, as well.

I thought his book was quite a bit slower than the first–less outright action, and more suspense building. Where in the first book I could see several parallels to other fantasy series, I thought this book began to stand out and create it’s own unique niche.

Tools of Prophecy is a fantastic follow-up to Heirs of Prophecy. Both are clean, fun, fantasy reads that readers young and old will devour.

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About the Author

I am an Army brat and the first person in my family to be born in the United States.  This heavily influenced my youth by instilling a love of reading and a burning curiosity about the world and all things within it.  As an adult, my love of travel allowed me to explore many unimaginable locations.  I participated in many adventures and documented them in what will be a series of books.  Some might put these books in the Fantasy genre, and I never had issues with this label.  After all, the adventures were, without any doubt in my mind, fantastic.  I simply quibble with the label of “Fiction” that some might put on these tales.  These tales should be viewed as historical records, more along the lines of a documentary.  I’ve learned one thing over the years.  Magic is real.  Keep exploring, and you too will find your magic.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5778499.Michael_A_Rothman

http://michaelarothman.com/

http://www.facebook.com/MichaelARothman

http://twitter.com/michaelarothman

HEIRS OF PROPHECY IS FREE FOR KINDLE DURING THIS TOUR ONLY! DON’T MISS THIS AMAZING FREEBIE!!

http://www.amazon.com/Heirs-Prophecy-Prophecies-Series-ebook/dp/B007MW34X4/ref=zg_bs_155221011_f_2

You can win SIGNED paperback copies of Heirs of Prophecy and Tools of Prophecy!

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW: Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

Skeleton Women

by Mingmei Yip

Historical Fiction

Book Description

Skeleton Women is a Chinese phrase for femmes fatales. This story is about three of them  — Camilla, a nightclub singer who has been forced to become a spy, Shadow a magician who jumps naked off a tall building, and a gender-ambiguous gossip columnist. All must scheme in order to survive the gang wars in lawless 1930s Shanghai.

Camilla is a young orphan when she is adopted by a master crime lord and turned into the singing sensation of Shanghai. She lives in luxury but knows none of the wealth is really hers. She is one of the skeleton women, who lure men to their ruin and death. In her case, it’s literal, since she is also trained in knife-throwing and contortion.

Her assignment: attract the attention of another crime lord and help see he is assassinated. But can she stay in his good graces with competition from Shadow, a famed magician, and Rainbow Chang, the ambiguously sexed gossip columnist? And will she be able to resist falling for either the gang lord’s son or his hunky bodyguard?

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip

Camilla was plucked from an orphanage at 14 years old and trained to become a skeleton woman–a dangerous double agent who’s working for one mob boss to destroy his rival. As Camilla becomes deeper ingrained into the gang, she not only has to be the mistress for its’ leader, Master Lung, but she must attempt to steal his financial information and assassinate him as well.

As if this weren’t enough, Camilla’s life becomes more complicated when an enigmatic female magician named Shadow comes to Shanghai. The normally icy exterior Camilla puts on begins to crumble when she starts experiencing jealousy, friendship–and maybe even love.

This book hooked me from the very beginning, but it did take a while to build anticipation. I quite liked Camilla, I just found myself confused at many of her choices.

Camilla does what she needs to do to keep herself not only alive, but thriving. She is a master in flattering a man and getting what she wants. But while she has much luck in her relationships with men, she has no other successful bonds to speak of. As an orphan, she of course has no family. She also has no girlfriends, but I’m not sure if it’s because she’s so stand-offish or other women are simply jealous of her.

I think the author has a gift for characterization and world building. The story takes place in Shanghai in the 1930’s, and I could envision the opulence of the era quite vividly. Great care is taken to describe what characters are wearing and what places look like, but it never feels over-described. I got a good feel for each of the important characters in this story, which was nice because sometimes that doesn’t happen in a book that is told in first person.

As the book went on, I couldn’t wrap my head around Camilla’s reasoning for some of the things she chose to do. I can’t really describe them without spoiling the story, but I’ll just say some things felt pointless and I couldn’t see how they added to the story. I’ll also say this is a novel with a lot of loose ends. If you’re a reader who needs all questions answered at the end of a story, you won’t like the way this ends.

I enjoyed the little stories-within-a-story that were added to the book. They all related to Camilla’s journey in some way. The entire book was filled with symbolism. Though the book was set in China, there were not a lot of unrecognizable words and I really appreciated that. The book was a very easy read.

I found the ending a bit sudden and as I said, there were too many unanswered questions for me to rate this book higher. Perhaps other readers who don’t mind ambiguous endings would enjoy it more. I was, however, entertained by Camilla’s journey and she’s a character I won’t forget soon.

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About the Author

Mingmei Yip believes that one should, besides being entertained, also get something out of reading a novel. Her new novel is Skeleton Women is about survival, letting go, and finding love and compassion.

Her debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion is the story about the last Chinese Geisha and also that of courage and the determination to succeed and attain happiness.  Her second novel Petals from the Sky, a poignant Buddhist love story, is about wisdom, compassion, when to persist and when to let go.  Her third novel Song of the Silk Road is an adventure love story between an older woman and a younger man with a three million award on China’s famous, dangerous route.

Visit Mingmei at www.mingmeiyip.com to learn about her books, music, paintings and calligraphy. You can also connect with Mingmei on Facebook and Twitter.

 

FOLLOW THE REST OF THE TOUR HERE

REVIEW: Josie Griffin is NOT a Vampire by Heather Swain

Book Description

When former good girl turned rebel Josie Griffin gets busted for what was in her mind perfectly acceptable revenge on her cheating dog of a boyfriend, she lands herself in anger management therapy. It could be worse: it could be juvvie, or she could be a zombie cheerleader like the rest of her former friends. But there’s something strange about therapy–these are not normal kids. There’s the wannabe ladies man with a weird accent, Johann; the blindingly gorgeous Helios; Avis with his wild dreads; and Tarren, the sprite of a girl with a wicked temper. And all of them keep talking about “powers.” Josie knows that has to be impossible, but strange things start happening, and nothing weird ever happens in Indiana. After all, there’re no such things as vampires, werewolves, Greek gods, or fairies . . . right?

MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Josie Griffin has been sentenced to anger management classes after destroying her cheating boyfriend’s car with a baseball bat. Once she gets there, she finds out that the other kids in the group are a bunch of wackos–claiming to be vampires, faeries, and oh yeah, Greek gods. But Josie is determined to get through the course and the laborious community service she has been assigned to.

As Josie gets to know her group mates, she realizes that as far out as it sounds, they were all telling the truth! Not only is she now friends with a pack of supernatural creatures, she’s also trying to uncover a mystery in the shelter where she’s doing her community service; girls are going missing without a trace. Can Josie and the group of paranormal misfits find out the truth?

This book pulled me in from the very beginning, but as I read on I struggled with knowing what rating I would give it. I couldn’t decide if this novel was hilarious or ridiculous (and believe me, it’s a fine line), so I ended up rating it right in the middle.

Josie is likable enough–she gets points just for beating up her ex’s car with a bat!–but I never really connected with her. The characterization wasn’t very deep in this novel, and I think that’s why I didn’t connect with anyone. The relationship between Josie and Helios was pretty weak. As a matter of fact, it was more interesting to watch Johann the awkward vampire fawn all over Kayla. That, at least, was funny. The group was diverse but not intriguing as a whole.

The writing was trite at times, with Tarren the dyslexic faerie botching her speech, and Josie misunderstanding things often. Though I did enjoy when Tarren mixing up her words resulted in spells which did not work they way they were intended.

I figured out the ending about halfway into the book, so when it turned out as I expected it would, that was a bit of a disappointment for me. In my opinion, this was just a very “meh” book that just left me with a few weak smiles and a lack of any other strong emotion.

 

*Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this ARC.

REVIEW: Zom-B by Darren Shan

ZOM-B

by Darren Shan

ZOM-B Series, Book One

Book Description

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B’s racist father thinks it’s a joke– but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish.
B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn’t work, B doesn’t hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.
That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Zom-B by Darren Shan

B is a high school kid who lives in London with a racist, abusive alcoholic father, and a mom who doesn’t stand up for herself. B hangs out with a tough group of friends, and has gotten a bit of a reputation.

When the zombie attacks that happened in Ireland (which B and family did not believe were real) come breaking through the front door of B’s high school, race and reputation don’t mean much. After all, zombies don’t notice skin color when digging through someone’s skull to devour their brains.

Well, I never had trouble getting into this book, but I will admit it had a slow start. Besides the prologue, it took more than half the book for zombie action to even happen. But once it did, HOLY CRAP.

The entire first half of the book was basically showing the foundation of B’s dysfunctional family. The father, Todd, is an extreme racist who believes England should be whites-only. Todd drinks too much and takes his frustrations out on his wife, until B gets between them.

Yet in spite of this abuse, B has a sick desire to please Todd. B regularly bullies a black kid named Tyler, and picks fights for no reason. Even though B knows it’s wrong, the urge to make Todd proud is a strong one.

So, then zombies attack at B’s school one day. I must say, this was a zombie novel done right. Blood and gore are not spared in the narrative, and it’s awesome. The undead hordes quickly consume kids in their path, using sharp nails to drill through skulls like plywood. B and friends form a large group to try to find some escape, but their numbers start dropping quickly. Imagine B’s surprise when one of the strongest, most level headed members is a black boy.

As I said, the first half of the book was slow, but the GIANT twist at the end and the explosive final page, combined with an abundance of zombie gore, more than made up for it in my opinion.

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Thanks to Around the World ARC Tours for allowing me to review this ARC.

REVIEW: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm

by Brigid Kemmerer

Elemental Series, Book One

Book Description

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys all the ones she doesn’t want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.

MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

It’s not exactly the best timing when Becca Chandler saves Chris Merrick from getting a beating in an alley behind the school. But she does, and soon enough she’s in the thick of Chris and his three older brothers, Michael, Nick, and Gabriel. Which is not great–since people at her school are already believing a vicious rumor her ex boyfriend spread about her.

Then Becca learns that Chris and his brother aren’t exactly normal. All four of them have an affinity with an element: air, fire, water, earth. And some of the people in town think it would be safer if the Merricks were dead. Becca struggles to help the Merricks–and herself–stay alive.

I’d seen so many great reviews of this book that I knew I had to read it, and I’m glad I did. I did have a couple of issues with it though.

*****SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!*****

So, our lead girl, Becca. I’m a bit conflicted on her. At the very beginning of the book, she is taking a self defense class. And throughout, she has her tough girl moments. But unfortunately, she’s never tough where it counts. Her best friend Quinn comes off needy and bitchy at times, but Becca just kinda takes it. And then there’s the attempted rape issue.

See, Becca’s ex boyfriend Drew started spreading the rumor that she’d slept with half the school…because he tried to rape her and he was scared she’d turn him in. And she just…went with it. God, I had a lot of trouble reconciling this with myself. Becca would rather be labeled the school slut than turn in Drew and his friends for what they did to her??? THEN, they try to do it again later in the book! I don’t love what happened when it comes to the whole way Becca responded to the rape issue.

Anyway. It was cool to see characters use the elements who weren’t witches! The Merrick brothers definitely all have their own distinct personalities, but in the end they all care for one another and don’t let anything come between them.

This book has some inklings of a love triangle, and honestly, I’m not sure in which direction it’s gonna go. Both boys interested in Becca have lied to her, and yet she is drawn to them. I guess we’ll see in the next book.

I kind of had a feeling about what Becca really was, and I was right. But I still really liked this story. I look forward to learning more about the Merrick brothers.

 

 

REVIEW: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

The Vicious Deep

by Zoraida Cordova

The Vicious Deep Series, Book One

Book Description

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.
He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.
His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.
Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova

Tristan Hart is a high school lifeguard who isn’t worried about too much besides girls and his swim team. But out of the blue he is overtaken by a huge wave on the beach, and he experiences very–unusual dreams.

But when he wakes up, his mother lets him know he was not dreaming. Tristan is in fact half merman. And not just any merman, an heir to the royal throne. But there are those who would not be happy to see Tristan come to power. Not only that, he must figure out how to keep his two worlds from colliding. His life is getting more complicated by the minute.

I haven’t had much luck with what I call “merpeople” novels. Lies Beneath was horrible for me, and others I’ve read have just kind of been meh. Vicious Deep has some promise, but unfortunately doesn’t completely deliver.

First off, we have Tristan. He is a grade-A jerk. He is a player who can’t ever remember girls’ names correctly, and rather rude and chauvinistic at that. Yet in spite of all this, he is somewhat in love with his best friend, Layla. She knows his history but still manages to have feelings for him too.

The world of the merfolk (or merkin as they are called here) is very intriguing and I enjoyed being immersed in it. I was also partial to the two merfolk who came to help Tristan, Kurt and Thalia. They were charming in an awkward way 🙂

The biggest problem I had with this novel was the pacing. It. Was. SOOOOOOO. Slow! It took a long time for anything of substance to happen, and I almost gave up on reading it a couple of times. Once it got the end end, it finally started rolling along better.

By the time I got to the end, I was glad I had read it, but there were several unanswered questions. I wish I could have learned more in this book…but it is of course, the first in a series.

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