Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Seriously Series Reading Challenge

Frodo’s Frisky Friday: The Wicked Merman by Kelly Apple

Frodo's Frisky Friday

The Wicked Merman

Summary From Goodreads

When her friend drags her off to the lake for some much needed R&R, Ari thought she’d be getting away from supernaturals for a few days. Sunning and swimming sound divine and it might help her shake off the funk of being parted from her beloved Guardian.

But when a girl who loves monsters ends up at a lake housing a merman, she’s going to end up doing a lot more than swimming.

Ari can’t resist trying to find the answer to the age-old question: How do mermen have sex?

This wicked merman is more than happy to give her some hands-on experience.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

I have come to the conclusion that the Monstrous Tales series is going to be exactly what most erotica enthusiasts are looking for, at least if they enjoy the fantasy variety. It is a solid dose of “monster” and human coupling, an underlying story of isolated creatures that are pretty lonely, and a small bit of “regular life” drama thrown in. If that is what you are after then you will be more than satisfied as this is some of the best writing I’ve come across in terms of the sex scenes. Kelly Apple is innovative, she answers questions that come across perverse minds like ours such as “how do mermen have sex?” while giving a bit of a reality check when it comes to the day-to-day lives of these creatures, it isn’t all fantastical in fantasy land.

If you follow the blog, and this feature in particular, then you know that I’ve featured three of the four tales in this series making it somewhat of a staple akin to Leigh Wilder and the writers at Luna Erotica. The difference between this series and some of Wilder’s similar work is the MC in Monstrous Tales, Ari, is someone I can barely tolerate, where even the frustrating ones in Wilder’s stories have some redeeming qualities. The sex scenes, monsters, and story around her is excellent, but she is whiny, self-centered, and quite frankly bitchy when she’s not screwing something. Even then she isn’t satisfied and wants her Guardian, which is fine to a point, but it is stressed too much for me.

I’m going to keep reading this series and trying to tune out the MC’s whiny tendencies and frustrating lack of compassion toward anyone but the Guardian. The rest of what is going on is definitely worth it, but if you are looking for a character you can get behind (pardon the pun) this is not it. I still recommend the series, but just keep it in mind. Thanks as always for reading and have a great (and maybe a bit naughty) weekend! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #72/365; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #25/75; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #24/75

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Mini Review Monday: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

MiniReviewMonday

Storm

Summary From Goodreads

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn’t want. 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 . . .

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Storm was everything I had hoped it would be and more! All sorts of cool elemental powers were on display, but they weren’t overpowering or superpowery (that’s totally a word now) which was great. It made the characters, even as awesome as they were, seem mostly normal, even openly mocking stuff like the X-Men when the MC, Becca, would expect too much of their abilities.

The biggest surprise for me with this book was that, with such a large cast, I really enjoyed all of them. Becca was funny and sweet, Chris was adorable (something I’m sure he’d love to hear), and the rest of the brothers each had a unique voice, which makes sense given the rest of the series, but something that you can’t really take for granted.

Storm was so good that I didn’t even mind the love triangle, and THAT is saying something! It was fast paced, the romance was so sweet no matter what the pairings were, and the cool displays of elemental awesome were as fabulous as you could hope for. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and to see the world from the point of view of the other brothers, I know it is going to be a crazy ride. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #63/365; Mount TBR Challenge #45/200; 2014 TBR Pile #45/50; New Author Challenge #27/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #20/75

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January & February Wrap-up

January & February Wrap-up

Somehow it is already March! The first two months of the year went pretty quick, and while I’m not as ahead in my challenges as I’d like to be I’m at least on pace which is good. While I know a few people regularly check my widgets on the sidebar to keep up with my progress, I still figure a recap of how this year has gone so far wouldn’t be remiss. I’m going to go over challenges, my favorite books, my least favorites/biggest disappointments, and what I’m looking forward to in the coming months. Here we go! ^.^

Challenges

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge – The overall reading challenge I use to keep track of my progress, out of the 365 books I have for my goal this year (a book a day challenge in case you haven’t heard about it) I’ve read 62. I do count novellas in this, so it is a little padded, with 15 of them being of shorter length. I’m on pace, managing to stay a few books ahead, but I had hoped to have a bigger cushion at this point. Oh well, not a bad start!

 Mount TBR/2014 TBR Pile Challenges – The goals are different for these two (200 for Mount TBR, only 50 for 2014 TBR Pile) but I’m counting TBR books for both and am currently at 44 which is a ways ahead of even Mount TBR’s needed pace. I’ve done a pretty good job of trying to read TBR books for the majority of my reads, but since it is early in the year it has been easier since there just haven’t been that many books released in 2014 yet. As the year progresses this might be more difficult, but I’m thrilled with this progress! TBR book of note – Pivot Point by Kasie West

 New Author Challenge – This is one of my two new challenges this year and I’m having a blast with it! The biggest possible goal amount on this one is 50, and right now I’m at 26 which I’m pretty ecstatic about. I imagine this one will slow down if/when I work more on my next goal, but for now I’ve been experiencing plenty new authors and for the most part loving it! New Author book of note – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 Seriously Series Reading Challenge – I do want to start, continue, and finish more series this year and I set a goal of 75 books total (rather than a series amount) and am currently at 19. This does mean I’m ahead of where I need to be, but most of these came in January, so in March I’m going to try to read and complete at least 3-4 series to get back into it. SSR book of note – Three by Kristen Simmons

 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge – This is my other new challenge this year and what sparked the idea for my weekly Killing My Kindle feature that is on Thursdays. I set a reasonable goal of 75 eBooks and am currently at 22 which is a solid start, just a bit ahead of my progress on SSR. I’m using eBooks for two features that run almost every week so I have no doubt that I’ll surpass 75 here, though I’m not sure by how much. Ebook of note – Fosgate’s Game by David C. Cassidy

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Favorite Books

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen – This was such a great read and the sequel, Lady Thief, was excellent as well. Love this Robin Hood retelling! ScarletUS.indd

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab – An excellent sequel to The Archived. The world is amazing, I love Schwab’s writing style, and the characters are excellent. Can’t wait for book three!

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch – I knew the serious material in this one, but I didn’t expect to get as emotionally invested as I have. This book is amazing, touching, and so sweet. All the feels!

Most Disappointing Books

Vitro by Jessica Khoury – My only DNF so far this year and with the potential it had this sucked even more than usual. Ugh. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – A beautiful cover, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and an awesome world, what could go wrong? Everything else apparently. The MC was whiny, the love triangle sucked, the book was jumbled and all over the place, and I skimmed the last 75 pages or so and found the ending to be exactly what I figured it would be. *groan*

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – I didn’t know you could make time travel, aliens, war, and a quirky MC boring. It didn’t seem possible, but Slaughterhouse-Five proved me wrong. What a drag to make it through this one, oh well.

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What’s Next?

More Series! – I plan to read at least a few series as I mentioned before including: Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Secrets of the Eternal Rose by Fiona Paul, The Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chronicles.

Readathons! – Ides of March: Mar. 13-17th hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, UKYA Day: April 19th a 24hr readathon hosted by Lucy at Project UKYA, and Dewey’s Readathon: April 26th hosted by Dewey!

Read All The Books! – Seriously, I just want to read as much as I possibly can, get ahead on my overall reading challenge, and somehow keep blogging every day. Let’s do this!


Killing My Kindle: Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan

Released On: April 10th, 2011

Summary From Goodreads

While Fallen Oak recovers from the Jenny pox, someone new is hunting Jenny.

Like Jenny, Ashleigh Goodling belonged to a pair of opposites with powers that mirror each other.

Now Jenny and Seth must face the opposite of love…

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Earlier this year I read and really enjoyed Jenny Pox, the first book in this series, so I was pretty excited to see what Tommy Nightmare had in store. Tommy Nightmare introduces a pretty large group of new characters, a lot of them becoming close to being MCs, but there was still plenty of Jenny and Seth from the previous book. There’s also another returning member, but I won’t say anything about them for spoiler reasons.

I really liked what Bryan did with Tommy’s character for the most part. He’s a badass, doesn’t take anyone’s crap, and uses his power, fear, to his advantage whenever he sees fit. Sure, that doesn’t make him overly likable, though his backstory does elicit some sympathy, but it is a logical path for him to take. My complaints for him are twofold. One, I wanted more of him in this book, he really only had about a third or so at most, probably less, and his sense of humor and pretty freaky power potential wasn’t expanded on as much as I would have liked. Two, in the second half of the book he was being manipulated, and despite showing some resistance for all of one or two pages, he just let himself be a puppet. It was disappointing.

The rest of the book bounces around from the previous MCs, Jenny and Seth, to other new characters that have other (admittedly cool) powers, such as Esmeralda and Alexander. There is also a regular human that has her own arc, but it doesn’t really need more than that mention. While the multiple points of view do help to give a full scope of what is happening in the story, it did make for a bit of a jumbled feel and I would just be starting to enjoy one section when it would jump to a different one. A little irritating.

With all that said I did enjoy much of what I read and the displays of power were really incredible. The different romances that went on, despite my usual distaste for triangles and various couplings taking over the story, were plentiful but really well done. I liked the dynamics presented and thought that they added to the story where as others I have seen it might detract. My favorite element outside of the powers was definitely the flashbacks to ancient times. Ancient Sparta and Athens were mentioned a few times and it gave the story a realistic feel, plus I just love ancient history so the more of that the better.

Even though there were elements that I mentioned that disappointed me this likely would have been a 3/5 if it weren’t for the ending. Without spoiling anything I can say that Jenny does a 180 in a lot of ways, runs off without thinking, and changes her entire persona because of one incident. Everyone else stayed true to their story arc, but Jenny? Nope. So needless to say I was really disappointed.

There are good points here, potential for the rest of the series, and enough to get me to read book three in hopes that it improves back to the level of the first book, Jenny Pox. Overall it was a disappointment and a giant drop off, especially in terms of believability and consistency. The writing is still really solid in quality, but maybe Alexander Death will settle down on the POV jumps and get back to the roots of the series that made it start out so well. I am definitely intrigued by Alexander’s character, which made only a brief appearance in book two. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #48/365; Mount TBR Challenge #34/200; 2014 TBR Pile #34/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #19/75; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #17/75

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Mini Review Monday: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

MiniReviewMonday

Breaking Point

Summary From Goodreads

The second installment in Kristen Simmons’s fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Breaking Point is a whirlwind of action. The book takes hold of you, thrusts you into the lives of Ember and Chase as they try to stay alive and find some source of hope, and refuses to let you go until you are just as much of an emotional wreck as the characters within.

Despite the supposed decision Ember must make that the summary for the book implies, it seems like she ended up doing a bit of both. At times her and Chase, as well as a few others (which changed throughout the book, though there was a core for a lot of it), were giving it everything they had to fight against their oppressors, but quickly resorting to hiding at others for fear of getting caught. With how fast the pace is in Breaking Point the true feelings of the characters gets a bit muddled, seemingly changing just as fast as their environment, and while it didn’t ruin the story it did make the book a bit disjointed at times.

Simmons does a lot of things well in the sequel to Article 5. She made me really feel the heartbreak and sense of loss and hopelessness that Ember and her friends often had. The relationship between Ember and Chase also was very well done, having rough patches and miscommunication just like real couples do, and never feeling forced or too perfect. Finally, no matter how many different areas the group was moving around in I could always get a clear idea of what they looked like, her descriptions were excellent and detailed, the imagery vivid and quite powerful.

Overall I felt that Breaking Point was an improvement over its predecessor. Ember is still a tad clingy when it comes to Chase, but she is starting to carve out her own identity, moving out of the “overly attached girlfriend” territory. The book was a bit jumpy at times, and I felt that a couple of scenes might have been rushed just a little, but for the most part the breakneck pace worked to the story’s advantage. Breaking Point will bring out the feels in bunches and it refuses to sugar coat any of them, which I loved. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #37/365; Mount TBR Challenge #28/200; 2014 TBR Pile #28/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #15/75

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Book of the Week: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

BookOfTheWeek

Book of the Week

Every Saturday I will talk about my favorite book that I read during the week, whether it be a review or a spotlight, or maybe having the author over to talk about it. Who doesn’t want more happy bookish goodness? ^.^

This week I’m gushing about: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Released On: February 14th, 2012

Summary From GoodreadsScarletUS.indd

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

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First, allow me to give full credit to Christina from A Reader of Fictions for being the one who not only got me to buy this book, but hounded me until I felt that I HAD to read it immediately. Obviously with Scarlet being the book of the week this week I absolutely  loved it, but let me tell you why!

Scarlet is a freaking bad-ass! She operates much like a ninja, flitting from tree to tree, whipping her knives out whenever necessary with deadly accuracy, and staying in the shadows even better than the great Robin Hood. Oh, and she’s HILARIOUS! Witty retorts, great banter with the guys, and more than a few jabs at John Little, all which hit the mark. Her past haunts her, and she tries to keep a brave face on at all times, but once in a while her guard slips and I couldn’t help but want to give her a hug…which she’d probably give me a swift kick for. Loved her!

The rest of the characters are just as high of quality as Scarlet. Robin is pretty much what you would expect, though he has a slightly darker history, but he’s lovable, charming, and the hero everyone expects him to be. John Little is a tad more of a player than I remembered, but he plays the great friend/goofball role perfectly, and is quite funny in his own right. Much, the fourth and final part of the band, is the one you feel sympathetic for. He’s sweet, has had a rough time of things, and is somewhat simple, and you can’t help but like him. Really just a great group as a whole and wonderfully executed.

I Love Them All

The vividness of the world that Gaughen created shocked me. I could feel the wind blowing past Scarlet as she ran across the treetops, the dreary conditions that the commoners lived through as they struggled to survive, and the warmth of Tuck’s where the band gathers to regain their strength. From the dungeons, to the cave, and every marketplace that they visited in-between, all of it was clear in my mind, and I’m in awe of that.

It's so beautiful

As amazing as the characters and world is, the story is just as grand, and perhaps even more intricate. Somehow in less than 300 pages we learn about Scarlet’s dark history in great detail, plenty about Robin’s as well, and even John Little and Much each have their backstory, but it never felt forced or like a info dump, just beautifully woven in. There are numerous battles, daring escapes, betrayals, and romance, and it’s all blended in perfectly.

I have nothing bad to say about this book, nothing. The only thing I would note, and it worked for me, is that there is a way of speaking throughout Scarlet that took me a few pages to get used to, but once I did it enriched the whole thing even more. Again, thank you Christina for the recommendation, and for anyone reading this who hasn’t read Scarlet yet, do yourself a favor and buy it. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #30/365; Mount TBR Challenge #24/200; 2014 TBR Pile #24/50; New Author Challenge #11/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #13/75

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Frodo’s Frisky Friday: The Wicked Woods by Kelly Apple

Frodo's Frisky Friday

The Wicked Woods

Summary From Goodreads

Ari’s always had a thing for monsters. Big ones, small ones, and all the ones in between. They turn her on like no human can. She’d be an ordinary girl if not for that one little quirk.

Since monsters aren’t real, she’s resigned herself to loving them in her imagination.

But, as Ari is about to find out, monsters are real and now one of them has her in their grasp. Will reality be better than fantasy? Or will she walk away and lose her one chance at fulfilling her wildest dreams?

Warning: This book contains a girl who isn’t afraid of monsters and a monster who wouldn’t mind a special lady friend. You’ll never look at those all-night monster marathons on TV the same way again.

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It’s time for a special kind of review! I read The Wicked Woods as part of the Bout of Books 9.0 readathon and live tweeted my reactions as I went. I’ve done this kind of review format a couple times, but it’s pretty rare, so I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I hope you enjoyed that goofy style of review! If you did let me know and I can try to do this more in the future, and if you didn’t enjoy it that’s cool too since (for now) this is a pretty rare thing for me. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #15/365; Mount TBR Challenge #13/200; 2014 TBR Pile #13/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #6/75; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #5/75

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Killing My Kindle: Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Released On: July 22nd, 2010

Summary From Goodreads

Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the “Jenny pox.” She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.

Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth…but if she’s going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

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This book is exactly what I had hoped for when I decided to tackle my Kindle app and enjoy some of the bookish goodness it had inside. Jenny Pox has been sitting in my Kindle since the summer of last year and I’m sorry that it took me so long to get around to it because the book is fantastic! Jenny Pox is a mix of paranormal, romance, and a sprinkling of horror, all wrapped in a small town and great cast of characters.

Jenny is a sweetheart, with a bit of an edge that she has developed from years of being bullied and stuck in a self-imposed isolation. I loved her character and really felt for the struggles she had to go through, while enjoying her ability to be so caring in spite of them, and her willingness to love if the opportunity presented itself.

That leads me to Seth, a great guy and while being a bit of a party animal he is clearly a gentleman. He’s sweet to Jenny and despite him being a bit of a “knight in shining armor” stereotype I enjoyed his playfulness and creepy/goofy sense of humor.

The romance between the two is beautiful and just incredibly touching. It’s hard to imagine what Jenny had to go through not being able to touch anything or anyone, and then all of the sensations from being able to with Seth! It must have been overwhelming, even just with hand holding.

The use of different powers in different and creative ways was fascinating and a joy to read. Bryan came up with different twists to them that I never would have thought of and it proved that even the most dangerous of powers can be useful for good, and that some powers are more than first meets the eye.

The ending was a whirlwind of action and I encourage anyone who hasn’t given this book a try to read it for that alone if nothing else. The powers are on full display, tension is oozing, and there are twists and turns everywhere. Frankly it was just freaking fun!

Overall I really enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to read the rest of The Paranormals series! Thanks as always for reading and I hope this inspires you to tackle your eBook library as well! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #14/365; Mount TBR Challenge #12/200; 2014 TBR Pile #12/50; New Author Challenge #6/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #5/75; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #4/75

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Book of the Week: Bang by Lisa McMann

Book of the Week

Every Saturday I will talk about my favorite book that I read during the week, whether it be a review or a spotlight, or maybe having the author over to talk about it. Who doesn’t want more happy bookish goodness? ^.^

This week I’m gushing about: Bang by Lisa McMann

Released On: October 8th, 2013

Summary From Goodreads

Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.

Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.

Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…

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I’m officially in love with this series and Lisa McMann’s writing style. I’m already pining for Gasp, book three in the series, as I type this.

Let Me Love You

 

The banter between the family members (Jules – MC, Rowan – lil sis, Trey – older brother) and the love interest (Sawyer) is some of the best I’ve seen and I laughed almost to the point of tears throughout the book. The closeness that the siblings share is so touching and while it is explained quite clearly how they stay that way it still feels surreal at times.

Rowan is the best secondary character I’ve experienced in quite some time. She’s got attitude, she’s a darling little sister when she knows Jules needs it but uses it to her advantage when it suits her, and her witty remarks slay me every time. Trey manages to not be a cookie cutter older brother while still being there for Sawyer during the crap she has to go through. He’s her rock, but that doesn’t stop him from questioning some of the decisions she makes and calling her out when he thinks it’s necessary. He’s just a cool guy, someone you’d love to have as your best friend.

Then there is the romance between Jules and Sawyer and holy freaking crap if it isn’t the sweetest thing aaaaaaah.

I Love You So Much

 

They are so torn between having to deal with their family BS and wanting to be together and when Sawyer is dealing with the worst of the visions and all that goes with it…I melted into a puddle of happy goo by the way they helped each other. They both struggled so much, going through all kinds of ordeals, and even fights between themselves, but cared enough to talk it out and stay strong for each other. It wasn’t a “perfect” romance where everything just falls into place and that’s what made it so special and so REAL.

Oh and the STORY! There is action, and creepy vision-y things with a lot of mystery/amateur sleuthing going on which was so fun to read even during the rough parts (in the plot not the level of writing – to be clear). Plus SO MUCH DRAMA but like…the good kind, if that makes any sense at all. It all worked so well together and there was the perfect amount of tension and aaaaah so GOOD.

Well, now you know how I feel about Bang, and also this is a pretty good idea of what this feature will be like every week assuming I get at least one really good book/week which I think is highly likely. Thank you so much for reading and check out the Visions series if you haven’t already! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #2/365; Mount TBR Challenge #2/200; 2014 TBR Pile #2/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #2/75

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Killing My Kindle: The Sorcerer’s Daughter by Larry Kollar

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: The Sorcerer’s Daughter by Larry Kollar

Released On: December 10th, 2013

Summary From GoodreadsThe Sorcerer's Daughter by Larry Kollar

In the third “Accidental Sorcerer’s” story, as Bailar and his apprentices help the Conclave prepare for conflict with the rogue sorcerers, Sura learns that she is a descendant of a noble House in the Alliance. But when she discovers the price of her history, it may be too late.

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The Sorcerer’s Daughter is, by far, the best book in this magical series to date. Picking up right where Water and Chaos left off, Sura and Mik continue to learn more about magic and their abilities to control under the tutelage of their master Bailar. While there is some back and forth between the views of the two apprentices, this is Sura’s story, especially in the second half of the short but exciting adventure. After seeing things from Mik’s perspective in Water and Chaos, I’d say that I prefer things told from Sura’s point of view. There is more feeling, emotion, and passion behind her voice and the story is strengthened because of it. Kollar makes us feel what she is experiencing and, to me, this is his strongest piece from a writing standpoint as well.

The relationship between the two young sorcerers isn’t as central to the story, something for which I was very grateful, and that allowed the magic to be the focus. Spells using all elements, sometimes mixing them to create something even more powerful, and displays that were exciting and often rather humorous are spread throughout the book.

What sets The Sorcerer’s Daughter, and indeed the Accidental Sorcerers series as a whole, apart from other magical series is that the spells aren’t designed to just inflict damage against enemies or even to just protect yourself. In this series every spell has multiple purposes and uses, and often the initial intent behind them is peaceful in nature, but these sorcerer’s find creative ways to make them combative. It’s a nice departure from the never ending stream of books filled with fireballs and earthquakes.

The story is split into two halves, initially learning and teaching new spells that will be useful later on at the Conclave, and then with Sura having an adventure on her own as she learns about her history and what her life could be like if she desires for nobility. Both are equally entertaining, and the pacing is perfect. The personality of the other apprentices in the first half as well as the nobles and servants in the second helped to keep the mood light and kept me laughing. The cast overall was the strongest it has been in the series and I really enjoyed meeting some new people that I imagine will be returning in the forth book, Into the Icebound.

I’m really looking forward to experiencing more of the world Kollar has created and seeing what new spells he comes up with. This is a really light and easy read for fans of MG or YA fantasy and it’s only a dollar on Amazon if you want to check it out. I’m so happy I started the year off on a high note as this was the first book I read for my challenge and it makes me hopeful as I work my way through my Kindle app that this will be a fun feature to do each week. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #1/365; Mount TBR Challenge #1/200; 2014 TBR Pile #1/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #1/75; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #1/75

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Goals and Challenges for 2014

It’s a brand new year and I plan to enjoy it with as much bookish awesomeness as I can possibly handle, which (if everything goes well) will be a lot. If you’ve been following the blog since the beginning of 2013 (which is freaking amazing if there is anyone out there who has) then you know about my 365 books in 365 days challenge that I attempted. I only lasted around 90 days that time, but this year WILL go all the way to the finish!

365 Books AND Posts in 365 Days Challenge

Last year I was trying to review EVERY book I read, and it burnt me out rather quickly. This year the goal has been tweaked so I can make this doable for me, and more enjoyable for you. I have a set schedule, most of the features are weekly, and I won’t review every book, but you WILL get a recap/rating at the end of each week. More on that later.

This challenge is simple, I read one book for every day in the year and post on the blog every day. I can read multiple books in a day to get ahead, but even if I post more than once in a day on the blog I still have to post EVERY day. Make sense? Alrighty!

Other Challenges!

Mount TBR & 2014 TBR Pile: These go together since they both involve my TBR, and the 2014 TBR Pile (hosted by Evie over at Bookish) has a maximum of 50, while Mount TBR (hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block) has a max goal of 150+. My goal is 200 books off my TBR which should be quite manageable since I don’t plan to buy more than 165 books this year. 😛 If I’m successful my print TBR will all but disappear, at least those I bought prior to this year. Wouldn’t that be crazy? This is the majority of what I’m tackling:

Print TBR 3

Seriously Series Reading Challenge: This challenge is another great one because it will give me extra motivation to complete entire series so that I can make progress on the pretty progress bar on my sidebar. Seriously Series is hosted by one of my favorite bookish people, Kelly, at Reading the Paranormal, and my goal is (for now) at 75 books, because I have SO MANY book 1s in series and I don’t know how many I’ll continue, so this is a safe starting point.

New Author 2014 Reading Challenge: I love reading books from new authors, whether they are debut authors or just ones I’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy, and when I found out about this challenge I immediately was drawn to it. This is one of two new challenges I’ll be attempting this year, and the New Author Challenge by Jackie at Literary Escapism will ensure that I read all sorts of new styles and worlds to keep things fresh. I can’t wait! My goal is the maximum for this challenge, 50 new authors.

2014 Ebook Reading Challenge: The second brand new challenge for this year, the Ebook Reading Challenge hosted by Sarah at Workaday Reads, has even spawned a new weekly feature which I’ll talk about shortly, and is the only really limiting challenge I’m taking part in. My Kindle app tends to be forgotten with all of the pretty print books right nearby, and I wanted to attempt to whittle the crazy number of ebooks down a bit. My starting goal is 75 or “Hard Drive” (out of the maximum 150) and it should be a nice change of pace at times.

*Sidenote – All of these challenges can be combined so I’m not trying to read ~400 books, just 365. ^.^

Blog Features and My Schedule

MiniReviewMonday Monday – Mini Review Monday: Same as it ever was, a short and sweet review that can be any kind of book, in any format or genre. This allows me to get my feelings out about a book, but without going into as much detail as a full review, and I’m often more passionate in these.

TotallyRandomTuesday Tuesday – Totally Random Tuesday: Mostly this will be Top Ten Tuesday as I do love lists, but it can be an extra review day, or something completely off the cuff. Enjoy the randomness! ^.^

Waiting On Wednesday hosted by Breaking The Spine Wednesday – Waiting on Wednesday/YA Wednesday: I’m back on the WoW train (not the video game) so that will be the usual feature, but again it could be an extra review if something YA is just that awesome in any given week.

Thursday – Killing My Kindle: Every week I will talk about an Ebook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated to tackle my overwhelming Kindle library and share some of it with you. I’m really excited about this one!

Frodo's Frisky Friday Friday – Frodo’s Frisky Friday/Regular Review: Roughly every other week I will have Frodo’s Frisky Friday where I review a book that is either Adult, “naughty”, or has mature content of some kind. The other weeks this will be a spot with a regular review since this blog is mostly aimed at a YA audience.

Saturday – Book of the Week: This is exactly what it sounds like. Every Saturday I will talk about my favorite book that I read that week, whether it be a review or a spotlight, or maybe having the author over to talk about it. Regardless this is the best book I read that week. Yay for new features! ^.^

Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Sunday – Sunday Post: I want to do this every week even if I don’t have a book haul as part of it. I’ll list the books I read that week, give a rating and a brief summary of my feelings on it, and let you know about any fun things I am taking part in for the following week.

** Sidenote – All of these are the regular features, but if I am taking part in a readathon, blog tour, or other bookish event then I may post about that instead. Regardless you will get something every day! I hope you can handle it! 😛

2014

I’m so excited for this year and hopefully you will join me on this crazy ride of bookish goodness. I know I’ll make new friends, talk with more amazing authors, and gush over all of the great books there are whether they are just coming out or are ones I should have read last year or even before. If you have a goal post like this or want to share your excitement for the new year feel free to comment or link me up to the appropriate post, I’d love to see what your plans are! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book (or 365) to read.


Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red

Summary From Goodreads

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

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

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This. World. Is. AWESOME!

Usually I dive into characters at the beginning of my reviews because generally that is the focus and how I feel about the book as a whole tends to go by how much I enjoy them, or don’t. However, with Ruby Red I just want to talk about the world that Gier created. For hours. With everyone. Alright I might be getting a bit carried away…

So in this world there is time travel, which is awesome. The MC has cool powers that she has only hinted at to anyone but her best friend and her mother (who I don’t think took it completely seriously) which are pretty incredible, and potentially dangerous should the wrong people learn she has them. Other people have different powers too, but so as not to spoil it I’ll just say at one point someone may or may not have used “the force” in a way. Aren’t I such a tease? ^.^ There are organizations that have complex prophecies that, if completed, may or may not result in powers untold. Oh, and wonderfully detailed descriptions of the time periods that the time travelers visit, who doesn’t love that?! Aaaaah I love this world so much. *hugs*

Oooh and the writing style! The dialogue is captivating, the characters have these in depth conversations and the vocabulary used is expansive and a thrill to read. The way Gier creates this web of family history that even the characters within the families can’t always figure out is intriguing and I’m very curious to see where she goes with it. What ties will be made next? Every scene just felt elaborate and shiny and aaaaah I can’t stop gushing. Books just aren’t written like this very often and it is such a refreshing experience. Love.

So, plot. The general idea here is girl winds up with special time traveling abilities, is completely unprepared and still has to deal with her new powers and resulting change of lifestyle while attempting to complete missions for this group of families that are trying to fulfill a prophecy. Except she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing because she wasn’t trained at all. Oh, and she isn’t completely on board with some of what she is expected to do on these missions and the supposed “enemy” may not be so bad after all. We see some initial displays of time travel, transition into wonderful action sequences and then get some motivation leading into the second book, Sapphire Blue, by the “enemy” and a little romance. Still with me? Sounds pretty awesome right? I thought so too. ^.^

The romance is where I have some quibbles. No insta-love thank goodness, but certainly some instant attraction on the part of Gwyneth which I’m completely fine with. She likes the other MC, Gideon, right from the start at least on a looks level and as the story goes on she learns more about him along with the reader. However, Gideon doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings and we even see him involved with someone else early on. So near the end when one of the characters does a 180 I’ll be honest and say I was a bit frustrated. There weren’t a ton of warning signs (some small ones but nothing big enough to make the kind of change that occurred) and it seemed like it was just a tactic to generate more interest potential in book 2. Meh.

Finally, a bit more on the characters which in a reversal of my usual style I have saved (unintentionally) for last. To tell the truth this is the one area where I just didn’t connect with the book. I couldn’t get invested in what Gwyneth was going through except to marvel at the world and times around her. It isn’t that she is dull or irritating, she just didn’t have any qualities that stood out and grabbed me. Gideon at least had a solid sense of humor and while he is “annoying” in the first half according to Gwyneth, it’s his thing and he owns it. Oh, and the best friend (Lesley) just felt completely fake to me. She was like a robot built to help Gwyneth understand certain developments in the plot and catch up since she is so behind in training. Not thrilled with her character. Until the last 10% of the book or so this was going to really hurt the book for me but then BOOM new characters! Hello friends! I wanted to give the author a hug for introducing these people because I LOVED their characters and I’m sure they will be around more in Sapphire Blue which is a major reason why I’m super excited to read it.

I really enjoyed Ruby Red when all was said and done. The second half of the book, the more action packed half which comes as no surprise, was much better for me because it focused less on Gwyneth, Gwyneth, Gwyneth. The world is immense and complex and just awesome. Gier’s writing is such a nice change of pace from the vast majority of books I’ve read and I can’t wait to experience it again. The new characters introduced at the end of the book gave new life to the story and hopefully as Gwyneth is trained she will be less bland a MC. I don’t know how the romance, if there is going to be any, will impact Sapphire Blue but it should be interesting no matter what. Definitely check out this book and the series! Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #109/200; Mount TBR Challenge #64/150; 2013 TBR Pile #64/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #27/51; Genre Variety Reading Challenge – Category – Historical Fiction #26/30

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Day 90: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Day 90

Summary From Goodreads

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! This is where I write a review in the time I have before I go to work or before I go to bed. Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

I, of course, had heard great things about the Percy Jackson series but had never started it until now. The first book in the series, The Lightning Thief is a fun, humorous adventure as the main character Percy gets acquainted with this world filled with all sorts of deities and creatures he thought were just myths. A thrill ride from start to finish I breezed through the book and couldn’t put it down. It was a light read and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. The characters were compelling, the writing was fantastic, and it really was quite funny. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 91!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #90/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #22/51

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Day 79: Amaury’s Hellion by Tina Folsom

Day 79

Summary From Goodreads

Vampire Amaury LeSang is cursed to feel everybody’s emotions like a permanent migraine. The only way to alleviate the pain is through sex. When he meets the feisty human woman Nina, a cure for his ailment seems within reach: in her presence all pain vanishes. Unfortunately, Nina is out to kill him because she believes he’s involved in her brother’s death. And she would succeed if only Amaury’s bad boy charm didn’t play havoc with her hormones and catapulted her into his arms and his bed every time she was near him. As every kiss brings them physically closer, danger is lurking and threatens to destroy the little trust they have in each other.

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Maybe I should come up with a name for my occasional foray into ze naughty. Frodo’s Frisky Frolic? Seems too silly, oh well. This is the second book in the Scanguards Vampires series and also my second “adult” book of the year. As was the case with Samson’s Lovely Mortal I will be putting a page break here since I know a good portion of the people that read this blog are teens and I feel it only fair to give you the choice about whether or not to read this particular review. So read on if you’d like, but feel free to check out a different review if you aren’t into the adult romance books. ^.^  (more…)


Day 67: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Day 67

Summary From Goodreads

Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.

Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls.  Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power.  Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

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So finally I read Crewel. This book has been sitting on my shelf since around October/Early November after I bought it due to the positive reviews it received from some of my best bookish/bloggy/twitter friends. I started it almost immediately after it came in the mail but the first few chapters left me cold and frustrated with the main character, Adelice. Back to the present, today I decided I was done putting it off and gave Crewel a second shot, I’m (for the most part) glad I did.

The reason I was turned off on my initial read was that Adelice didn’t appeal to me. Not even a little bit. She seemed like a brat, like her emotions were all over the place (admittedly the beginning for her was a bit rough but still) but most of all that she seemed to fall for every cute guy she met. The last part was incredibly irritating and based on the summary mentioning a “forbidden romance” I was worried that insta-love was on its way or short of that some sort of love triangle. Unfortunately, and this is really my only problem with Crewel, I got both. The insta-love scale, previously mentioned in my review of Lancaster House, applies here and it is about a 6 out of 10. Then there’s the love triangle. I get it, people seem to love their “teams” and what not, but I could seriously go without ever reading another confounded love triangle and never regret it. This one was well done…but still, argh. So the romance elements of Crewel were the low-point for me which doesn’t surprise me given the beginning and the boy-crazy aspects of Adelice’s personality.

As I mentioned earlier, I was not a fan of Adelice on my first go. Now having read the book I can say I’m somewhere in the middle. I like her spunk and refusal to just hide in the background. She’s got backbone and some solid personality which is great to see in a female MC, or really in a female character in general. If it weren’t for the boy stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph I think I’d be a full supporter. As far as the two guys in the love triangle go…they’re fine. I’m “team Jost” if I have to pick one, but not because I think he’s that amazing, they’re both just alright. Decent personalities, good senses of humor, Erik is the ego/funny guy, Jost is the tender/caring one, but neither made me go crazy to back them. Anyway.

The plot and world building are the strength of Crewel by far. I loved learning about the world Albin created and all of what the Spinsters were capable of. The different aspects of the weaving and the intricacies and detail involved were excellent. There was plenty of tension building up throughout the book, solid reveals that often were borderline stunning and some elements of the creation of the world that I can’t get into without spoiling things, but that were wonderful. The writing was just lovely, it made for a fast read and I breezed through Crewel in what seemed like no time at all. I couldn’t put it down and that’s always a good sign.

I definitely look forward to reading Altered, book two in the Crewel series, which I believe comes out late October of this year. Can you believe this was Albin’s debut?! So impressive! I enjoyed Crewel overall despite the romance irritations. The writing and the world that Albin created outweighed any negatives I could find by a wide margin. A pretty great read. Thank you as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 68!

Mount TBR Challenge #50/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #50/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #67/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #23/51

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Day 60: Ethan by P.T. Michelle

Day 60

Summary From Goodreads

Ethan Harris never thought monsters and darkness would consume his daily thoughts, but every night the same visions repeat in his dreams. He’s careful to project a semblance of normalcy, keeping the suffocating darkness locked inside. As much as he wishes he could focus on girls, sports, and cars like other seventeen-year-olds; nothing distracts him from his own demons or shines through.

Until Nara Collins crosses his path. The blonde fascinates and intrigues him, giving him a measure of peace he’s never felt before.

When Ethan discovers there’s more to Nara than she allows others to see, that she might have a unique secret of her own, suddenly his world comes into focus.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! This is where I write a review in the time I have before I go to work or before I go to bed. Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Ethan was a solid short read and did add some good depth to the Brightest Kind of Darkness series. Some new powers were revealed which were cool, though the band thing was kind of a random way to do it. However, the same major problem I had with Brightest Kind of Darkness was true in Ethan as well, insta-love. If you read my DNF of The Forever Girl, my last review, you know my distaste for insta-love and Ethan was all sorts of obsessed from the instant he saw Nara. It was disappointing since I enjoyed the rest of the novella.

Overall a good short read if you are a fan of the series, it gives more information and shares new insights into Ethan. I look forward to reading Lucid soon. Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 61!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #60/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #21/51

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Take Control – March 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Take Control

You can use hastag #TakeControl on twitter and share your progress. Share the Take Control Button or this post on your blog, Facebook or twitter to earn an extra entry for each place you share. (Rafflecopter will post March 1st, so be sure and enter them)

*note this challenge can be done in conjunction with any other TBR challenge as long as the book is read between March 1st and 31st.

Another challenge that works perfectly with my 2013 TBR Pile & Mount TBR ones, and run by one of my best bookish blogger friends Kimberly, huzzah! I knew I was going to sign up for this but just wanted to wait until today, the 1st, to post it. Since I’m already doing 2 TBR challenges for the year (and am almost done with one, woohoo!) this won’t really change my reading habits all that much, though I think I will put a small twist on my focus for the month. For the month of March I will try and read as many of my series books that also qualify as TBR pile ones. Not only will this make a lovely dent in my TBR challenges, but I should make some great progress on my Seriously Series Reading Challenge as well! Aren’t these things great motivators? ^.^

So goals, because what is a challenge post without them?! Out of the 31 books I will be reading for the month (per my goodreads challenge) I will try and read at least 22 from my TBR pile (~70%). Sounds reasonable right? This should also help, as all of the books would be full length novels, to decrease my novella reading for the month. An additional challenge to overcome but I think I’m up to it! So here are the series I am working on that have books that qualify as TBR, most of the TBR books will be from these:

Dragoneer Saga – M.R. Mathias

Pendragon – D.J. MacHale

The Protector – M.R. Merrick

Shades of London – Maureen Johnson

Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor

The Iron Fey – Julie Kagawa

Scanguards Vampires – Tina Folsom

Legend – Marie Lu

There are other series that I might start (Unearthly, Under the Never Sky & Everneath to name a few) as well as ones that have not been completed but have books coming out in 2013 (Razorland series, Spellbound & Brightest Kind of Darkness are some). I can’t wait to whittle down some more on my TBR & Series challenges & piles! One thing to really look forward to, and incentive if you haven’t signed up for this yet, is there is a readathon! Weeeeeeeeeeee! I sure do love me some readathons! ^.^ Time to go read! *poof*

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Currently Reading:

TBR Books Read:

Pages Read:

Series Started/Continued:

Series Completed:


A Month in Review: February

A Month in Review: February

Waving goodbye to February and hello to March!

Waving goodbye to February and hello to March!

That month flew by! The second month in my 365 Books in 365 Days in 2013 Challenge was much harder than the first, mostly because work went from having me at 25-30 hrs/week to 35-40. This resulted in more long days away from my precious books and less sleep to keep my brain going strong when I was conscious and at home. One additional result of this was that my novella reading almost doubled, from 5 in January to 9 in February. There were other circumstances involved with that upswing (Angela Kulig & Larry Kollar’s awesomeness being a main one) but it was definitely trying to fit stuff in my schedule at times too. Now to break down the month of February!

Challenges

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge/365 Books in 365 Days in 2013 Challenge – 28 Books Read; Total so far: 59

Mount TBR Challenge/2013 TBR Pile – 20 Books Read; Total so far: 46 – My piles are slowly but surely dwindling! I’m almost done with the 2013 TBR Pile with only 4 to go and when I do that will make me 1/3 of the way through Mount TBR too! Huzzah!

2013 Genre Reading Challenge – 7 Books Read; Total so far: 23 – After starting off crazy well in January I slowed way down as I continued to read mostly in my favorite genres depending on my moods. I’m still way ahead of the pace though!

Seriously Series Reading Challenge – 6 Books Read; Total so far: 20 – I slowed down on this one too for some unknown reason. Still almost at the halfway point and I’ve completed 3 series already!

Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge – 1 Book Read; Total so far: 2 – As with every month for this one I can only do one book a month! My book for this challenge in February was The Dead Love Longer by Scott Nicholson!

Activities/Posts

Number of Posts: 34 – 28 Reviews, 3 Memes, 1 Readathon & this Month in Review post!

Activities: Wicked Valentine’s Readathon – 7 books read for 1,559 total pages!

Stats

Views – 465

Comments – 52

What I Learned/Changes For March

I’ve kept up with all of my challenges and am already nearing completion on a couple of them which amazes me. I still am trying to find a better balance with reading/posting and work but that might never have a true solution. I did vary up my posts slightly with a few memes and the readathon mixed in but in March I will endeavor to do so even more. I plan to do a WoW post every Wednesday instead of just twice and I would like to do two Stacking the Shelves posts instead of one, but that depends on what I receive/my ability to buy more. Early this month there will be an interview with Sarah-Jane Lehoux as well as my blog’s first giveaway! Make sure to look for those on March 4th & 5th.

Let me know any feedback you have on the last month and improvements or changes I could/should/might want to make. How are you doing on your challenges? Which ones are giving you the most difficulty and why? Are you finding/making time to read? Comment and let me know! March will hopefully be the best month yet in 2013, I can’t wait! Thanks as always for reading! ^.^


Day 55: Destined by Ali Cross

Day 55

Summary From Goodreads

Choosing is a bad idea, because Desi always makes the wrong one, and sometimes there are no do-overs. Certainly not this time, when all has been lost and Desi can’t even save herself, let alone her friends. For Desi, the hardest thing is letting someone help her, to accept their sacrifice on her behalf. But that’s exactly what she’ll have to do in order to save the worlds from Helena’s destruction.

The goddess of Helheimer, long imprisoned by Desi’s father, Loki, is free at last, and she’s bent on reclaiming what once was hers. The nine worlds will be drawn into war, over Hell, over Earth, with innocent humans meaningless collateral. While Michael and the Gardians of Asgard, along with the golden-armored Valkyrie lead the battle for freedom, it’s Desi who holds the destiny of all the worlds in her hands.

Can she set aside her doubts, once and for all, and claim the gifts that are hers to bear? Can she accept the sacrifice that is made for her and Become all that she was created to be?

Her final choice will define not only her future, but the fate of humankind, forever more.

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A solid ending to a fascinating trilogy. Destined ties up all of the loose ends and finishes Desi’s transformation into what she was always meant to become. Love as the overpowering theme in Destined, helps to conquer even the most difficult of challenges and keep the darkness from overpowering the characters.

In Destined we are given a lot more information from both James and Michael as their points of view are each used almost as much as Desi’s. This helps to show how each uses the love from others and from themselves to overcome their own obstacles as well as helping others to do the same. For Desi, Destined is about her coming to terms with who she is and finally accepting herself completely despite what she has done in the past. Once she does this her transformation is complete and she can learn about why she is the being that she has become and what that means for her future.

Michael on the other hand remains as singularly focused as ever. All he wants to do in the beginning is rescue Desi, and though I don’t blame him he does act like a lovesick puppy for quite some time. I’m all for the “power of love” feelings going around, but the guy needs to get some perspective and often he gets a mental slap upside the head from some of his fellow warriors, and even Odin himself. The romance between him and Desi is as strong as it ever was but the lovey-dovey nonsense they share once they reunite is well…let’s just say I could do without about half of how much we as readers are given. We get it, they love each other a ton. Anyway…

The plot is fantastic in Destined, I really have to give major props to Cross here. We have mind control, soul-eaters including some nasty business with a version of the river Styx, hounds transforming into humans, epic battles between all sorts of creatures and some clashes of proverbial titans/gods. Really when it comes down to it, despite the love-crazy parts spread throughout the book, their is a ton of action and it is written very well. The pacing keeps you intrigued throughout with the possible exception of the beginning which is just pure nauseating pining.

As the book progresses we do get bounced around the different worlds/realms like a pinball. You have to pay pretty close attention just to make sure you know where you are at all times as sometimes it can get a bit confusing. The use of Norse terminology doesn’t make things easier unless you are a history buff, however, that same use and combination with other faith systems is what makes this series so compelling to begin with and I wouldn’t change a thing in that regard.

Overall this is a good ending to the series. I felt that Desolate was probably the overall strongest book in the trilogy, but Destined’s ability to move from one action-packed sequence to the next is the best by far out of the three. If you haven’t checked this series out give Become a try, it is well worth your time. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 56!

Mount TBR Challenge #43/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #43/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #55/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #20/44

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Day 53: The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

Day 53

Summary From Goodreads

The first time his father disappeared, Tucker Feye had just turned thirteen. The Reverend Feye simply climbed on the roof to fix a shingle, let out a scream, and vanished — only to walk up the driveway an hour later, looking older and worn, with a strange girl named Lahlia in tow. In the months that followed, Tucker watched his father grow distant and his once loving mother slide into madness. But then both of his parents disappear. Now in the care of his wild Uncle Kosh, Tucker begins to suspect that the disks of shimmering air he keeps seeing — one right on top of the roof — hold the answer to restoring his family. And when he dares to step into one, he’s launched on a time-twisting journey
— from a small Midwestern town to a futuristic hospital run by digitally augmented healers, from the death of an ancient prophet to a forest at the end of time. Inevitably, Tucker’s actions alter the past and future, changing his world forever.

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From time travel to ghost-like beings, from the worst disasters in history to cats that shouldn’t have ever existed, The Obsidian Blade has it all. The cat thing is reason enough to read this if you haven’t already, freaky! Anyway, I received a copy of The Obsidian Blade from the amazing people at ARCycling and finally got around to reading it and I’m very glad I did. If you’ve been following my reviews you’ve seen a TON of fantasy so it seemed like it was time to divert a bit, in this case to sci-fi.

The most interesting and compelling element of The Obsidian Blade is definitely the setting/world-building. Due to the crazy amount of time transportation and dimension jumping it is vital that each new “time” is well developed, often very quickly. Somehow, and I give major credit to him for pulling it off, Hautman manages to make each time frame seem realistic and complex, and most importantly unique. You have forests in the distant future, an ancient city, and everything between. However, while many science fiction writers seem adept at creating these alternate times/realities/worlds, etc. it is even more impressive that Hautman’s writing makes our own seem just as interesting as the rest.

As for the plot, that was understandably a bit scattered. With all of the time jumps you have to make sure and follow closely to where the main character, Tucker is and what dangers lurk in that new place. The main goal of The Obsidian Blade seems to be centered on Tucker’s desire to bring his family back together, but that feeling doesn’t really resonate. While his focus does remain singular the story itself bounces around with seemingly no end in sight. Don’t get me wrong, each new “time” is interesting in its own right, but without having a strictly linear fashion to it the story is just…a bit disjointed.

Tucker as a main character was good if not overly memorable. The Obsidian Blade seems more interested in sharing all of these awesome new times and places with the reader then to create a stellar MC. Tucker is fun, a bit annoying with his incessant questioning, but overall enjoyable. While I enjoyed one of the other main characters, Lahlia, to a certain degree just because of her weird mannerisms and odd sense of humor, she is the only one that stood out. The rest I could take or leave really. Some of the beings in the book though? Really cool.

As this is the first book in the series I feel like there is definite potential in its continuation. The creepy/cool beings known as Klaatu could certainly be expanded on. I don’t really care that much about Tucker, but I’ll gladly give The Cydonian Pyramid a shot in order to read more about Lahlia. Besides, I can’t resist more “time” jumping through dimension holes, what nerd-geek can? Overall I enjoyed The Obsidian Blade and it is a solid read for any sci-fi fans. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 54!

Genre Variety Reading Challenge #23/30 – Category – Science Fiction; Mount TBR Challenge #41/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #42/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #53/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #19/44

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Day 51: Betrayal by Gregg Olsen

Day 51

Summary From Goodreads

In this action-packed thriller sequel to Envy, foreign exchange student Olivia Grant is stabbed to death after a party–and the prime suspect is her best friend. As twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan get pulled into the aftermath of this Amanda Knox-like crime, they realize nothing is what it seems. Could it be betrayal of the ultimate kind?
Betrayal features real-life crime-solving techniques, heart-stopping suspense, plenty of red herrings, hard-hitting ethical questions, and information about the Amanda Knox case that inspired the novel. As the crime unravels, so does the twins’ past…and they must face off against a family member who may unexpectedly have carried out the worst betrayal of all.

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Favorite quote: “Besides, when she made it big, she’d be able to look Anderson Cooper in the face and tell him the backstory that made Hollywood’s misadventures seem like the boring middle part of a YA novel”

When I wrote my review of Envy I said at the end that if the positive elements were carried through and some adjustments were made that Betrayal could be stellar. I’m thrilled to say that I was exactly right. Betrayal was everything I had hoped for after reading Envy. I knew that the characters were already compelling, the storytelling talents of Olsen were excellent and so this was Envy minus the few flaws of the first book.

The story of Betrayal is wonderful in its execution. The intertwining arcs between the murder of Olivia Grant and that of the twins works beautifully, and with the foundation having already been set there didn’t have to be such a major focus on the powers that the twins have. I can’t overstate enough how much of a difference that made. Gone is the cheesy factor, the repetition and the sillyness. In its place is a thrilling murder mystery that seems to be linked to just about everyone in Port Gamble in some way. The different points of view that were used in Envy no longer drove me crazy, but were executed so well and so seamlessly that the flow of the story was never interrupted and the story just received the enriching side affect of having more details to go on. We knew more about what the supporting characters were thinking, and it was fantastic.

Speaking of the characters, talk about refined! I said in Envy that because of the massive amount of character points of view there were a lot of info dumps to compensate. In Betrayal we know about the vast majority of the characters that are used and are given just slight reminders as to what role they play. Again this helps the flow of the story while keeping the characters both interesting and fresh. The twins don’t seem as cartoonish in quality, Beth actually (in a stunning turn of events) becomes human, or at least close, and a plethora of other characters are defined further in a more natural way. Even with characters that were unpleasant (Brianna anyone?) I found that I enjoyed reading about them, something that isn’t often the case.

The murder mystery in Betrayal will leave you breathless until the end. The book as a whole left me pining for a third book and while I don’t know for certain if there is one I have heard about a possible title Guilty. I can’t wait to read it if and when it comes out. I definitely enjoyed Betrayal and I think any reader, especially YA fans would too. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 52!

Mount TBR Challenge #39/150; 2013 TBR Pile #39/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #51/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #18/44

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Day 49: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Day 49

Summary From Goodreads

WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

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Enclave is a thrill ride from beginning to end. Fast paced action with danger lurking around every corner will keep you on your toes and the new discoveries will leave you with a sense of wonder just as great as the characters within experience. From the dark tunnels, to the new enclaves and the feared and oft-mentioned “topside” Enclave there are new worlds seemingly around every corner.

Deuce is a kick-butt, no nonsense type of character. She’s stubborn and fiercely loyal once she places her trust in someone or something but she’s also quite ignorant of life outside her enclave. At least at first. She has to be tough and with that sort of mindset since she is a huntress, a role that requires a mix of bravery and a steely resolve.

Fade is this mysterious entity. All you know about him in the beginning is that he lived in the tunnels, without the protection of any enclave for years prior to joining Deuce’s, and supposedly he’s even lived “topside”. While his outer shell seems designed to keep people away, probably due to the frightening things he’s had to face in his life in the tunnels, he’s also quite the softy. He cares about people in a way that surprises both Deuce and the reader at the same time. He’s gentle when he can be, and steadfast and devoted to those few he bonds with, including Deuce. He’s a very likable character.

The romance between the two is understated in a good way. It’s something you can see building naturally (no insta-love, hooray!) and through non-romantic actions. They bond, they grow to trust one another and rely on each other and that eventually makes them closer than either of them probably thought possible. It isn’t all encompassing and it doesn’t become the focal point of the book which is fantastic.

The various “worlds” that are created here, both the underground and topside, are wonderfully done. Neither of them is some sort of paradise waiting to be basked in, they each have trials to face and obstacles to overcome. The strict regimen of the underground, specifically the enclave, is offset by the wildness of topside where no rules seem to be present at all. It’s hard to say which would be worse, one polar opposite or the other, but both are equally fleshed out to perfection. The fear you take from the underground is one of the system you believe in not being at all what it seems, and from topside what it would be like with no system at all, anarchy at it’s worst.

Enclave was the perfect blend of all these things and more. As far as Dystopia books go this easily jumped to the top of the list, my previous one if you remember was Divergent and I’d have to put Enclave head and shoulders above that one. I can’t wait to read Outpost and I’d recommend Enclave to anyone, fans of Dystopia and a good read in general. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 50!

Mount TBR Challenge #38/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #38/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #49/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #17/44

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Day 44: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Day 44

Summary From GoodreadsThe Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

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Part fantasy, part thriller, but with the feel of a contemporary The Name of the Star was the perfect blend of all of those genres done in Maureen Johnson’s unique writing style. I didn’t have the foggiest clue what to expect from TNotS, my first experience with Johnson’s work, but from following her on twitter and her interactions with John Green and nerdfighteria, I had high hopes. Luckily for me they were met and then some.

Rory is a very relatable main character, with a quirky sense of humor, a predictably adequate-but-not-stellar level of smarts so that she struggles just enough to need help but not enough to be considered a dunce. She has the usual struggles adjusting to living in London and in a new school. Johnson’s style, something that despite my best efforts I am completely failing at describing, brings Rory, and the rest of the characters to life and keeps them from being stale school-aged-teen cardboard cutouts. Jazza, the best friend, is a very likable character. Though she is very focused on her schoolwork she is goofy, especially when a little tipsy, and brings out the best in everyone, especially Rory. Also her love of books is something that always makes a character more endearing to me regardless of whether that has any bearing on the character’s actual personality, silly but true. Love Books

The relationship that you could see coming from the beginning of the book like there were strobe lights and neon signs all around it was the only thing I didn’t love about TNotS. It was understated in its importance/impact on the book, which is fine, except that it almost felt like it was just in there because there needed to be some sort of romance/extra-special-bond in the book. That coupled with it being painfully obvious who was pairing up made this the only major disappointment for me. I don’t know if I just want it to have been better or scrapped, oh well.

In contrast I felt the plot was very well done. The fact that we did know the dates of the major events before hand did remove some surprise factor, but it added to the quality of the build up and it was a trade off I was happy to make. The mix of thriller style/murder mystery and fantasy works really well here, especially after the initial encounter of Rory and the main suspect. I couldn’t put the book down and the ending really drove it home in perfect dramatic fashion while opening up a tantalizing cliffhanger for The Madness Underneath, which I can’t wait to read now.

I thought the book was great and I’ll certainly be getting the other books by Johnson as soon as I can so I will be able to devour those as well. As always thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 45!

Mount TBR Challenge #35/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #35/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #44/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #16/44

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Day 35: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Day 35

Summary From Goodreads:  

Crime lives–and dies–in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen–and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town’s victims and culprits.

Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins’ old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out–and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.

Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge–and push you right over.

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Envy is a mixed bag. On one hand I enjoyed the story and was unable to put the book down until I had finished it. On the other, some of the writing drove me a bit crazy, as well as the point of views.

Envy uses multiple (and by that I mean somewhere around 10) points of view in order to share information with the reader. It is effective but it just feels a bit busy, too many thoughts from too many different people. Also, because we see the point of view of so many different characters the amount of info dumps to flesh them out is somewhat ridiculous. That type of information sharing goes on throughout the entire book, not just in the beginning like with most books that focus on one, or maybe two/three, point(s) of view.

As for the writing, it was little things, and more so in the beginning. For the first few chapters there was some variation of “something big is about to happen/everything is going to change” stated over and over again. I don’t really understand why, the reader can pretty much infer that important things are going to occur, it is the beginning of the book we are talking about. There were creepy lines that didn’t fit such as on page 39 “However, the girls felt no mercy for those who perpetrated evil intentionally. Their souls were dark and always would be.” Pretty serious stuff for teenagers and a bit over the top. Also, there were random words used that don’t make sense given that the audience is YA, such as with “scintilla” which essentially means a very small amount.

The “twin-sense”, especially the way it was written, kept making me think “wonder twin powers activate!” which I can’t imagine is a good thing when reading a book about figuring out why someone died. 

However, like I said in the beginning part of the review, I did enjoy the story. There were clues for the reader to find along the way just as the sisters were and seeing if you can figure out “who done it” before the characters do is always fun. The plot twists were convincing and didn’t feel contrived. As for the main characters, though they did suffer from being very similar by default since they are twins, I enjoyed reading about them. They felt realistic (sans superpowers/twin telepathy) and were likable enough. Beth, the best friend of the twins, was done very well. She was a character that the reader was supposed to detest and by page 59 I officially wanted to dropkick her so mission accomplished!

Overall I thought Envy was a solid book. The story was there to work with and though the execution at times felt a bit off to me the experience was a good one. I already have Betrayal so I look forward to reading that sometime soon-ish and seeing how the story continues. If the positive elements of Envy are carried through and developed I think that book could be stellar. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 36!

Mount TBR Challenge #29/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #29/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #35/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #15/44

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