Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Series: The Hunger Games #3

Hardcover, 390 pages
Publication: August 24, 2014 by Scholastic Press

Source: Purchased for my own reading.

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans--except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.
With Mockingjay being the final installment in The Hunger Games series, I was expecting it to be great; if not better than the previous books in the series. There were some parts I enjoyed, but overall the book left me feeling meh and disappointed.

What I enjoyed were the actions scenes but the main plot and outcome of the book, not so much. From the start of the book till the very end all Katniss was doing was complaining and crying about the situation. She never wanted to be the Mockingjay, yet she was forced to be it anyways. She went from being President Snow’s pawn to President Coin’s pawn. Nothing changed. I think my opinion of the book would have been different if she actually wanted to be the face of the rebels. But the biggest disappointment was the end. Again, at the beginning of the book Katniss told everyone she was going to kill President Snow. She’s definitely capable and everyone believes it too. People risked their lives for the cause and for Katniss so she can complete the mission. Complete what she was set out to do from the very beginning…to kill Snow. However, the last scene was Snow was so anticlimactic, I felt cheated. And the big twist everyone was so shocked about was whatever to me.

I really liked the first two books in the series, but with Mockingjay it felt like a filler book to complete the trilogy. All of the events in Mockingjay built up to a poorly executed and abrupt ending. It as if everything leading up to the end from book one was for nothing. In my opinion the author just got plain o’ lazy and totally gave up on this series and its characters. Mockingjay had none of the qualities of the first two books and now I wish I stopped at Catching Fire. This could have been an amazing series, but with the addition of Mockingjay it just ruins it. What a shame.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Big Keep by Melissa F. Olson

Title: The Big Keep
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Genre: Mystery Fiction
Series: Lena Dane Mysteries #1

Trade Paperback, 344 pages
Publication: June 20, 2014 by Westmarch Publishing

Source: I received a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for a honest review.


Former Chicago cop Selena "Lena" Dane has been going through the motions at her private investigation agency for years now. But then Lena learns that she's unexpectedly pregnant just as she takes on a heartbreaking new client: Nate Christianti, a fourteen-year-old boy in search of his biological father, Jason. Jason's disappearance isn't as clear-cut as everyone had thought, and Lena will need to follow his path of destruction halfway across the country to find Nate some answers. Along the way, however, Lena attracts the attention of a killer who's willing to stalk her all the way back to Chicago to make sure she drops Nate's case. To protect the boy, the baby, and herself, Lena must find the killer - or die trying.
I haven’t read a mystery or non-paranormal book in awhile, so it was a nice change when I picked up The Big Keep. The Big Keep is centered on Lena, an ex-cop turned Private Investigator after a horrible incident involving a team member on the police force. At the start of the novel, Lena discovers that she’s pregnant. But not wanting to quit working Lena keeps the pregnancy a secret from her husband Toby. Lena doesn’t think it’s much of a big deal as the case she ends up accepting involves helping a teenager, Nate find his biological father. No biggie right? What should have been a quick and easy case turns dangerous as Lena is stalked by an unknown person hell-bent on stopping Lena from finding Nate’s biological father.

The Big Keep started out a bit slow. It wasn’t till I was a few chapters in, that the book got my attention. As with cases, Lena had to research and dig to find Nate’s dad, Jason’s whereabouts. But once Lena got going and discovered more about Jason, that’s when all the action starts. I am a big fan of Olson’s Scarlett Bernard series, so it came as no surprise that I ended up loving these characters just as much. Olson has a way of creating very real and relatable characters that just leap off the pages; from the main characters to the secondary and tertiary characters…every single person was fully realized and developed. I really liked Lena, she’s definitely a tough chick that does what she wants and isn’t afraid to put others before herself (or her unborn child). When Lena works on her case, she isn’t just working to make money but she literally throws herself into it and takes every case personally like they were family. 

While it’s admirable to be determined and brave (Lena working on Nate case regardless of someone pointy telling her to stop or they’ll go after her and her baby/the family). It was reckless and selfish at the same time. I didn’t like the fact that Lena didn’t tell Toby right off the bat she was pregnant, especially when she knew how much he’s dying to have kids. Yes, readers do find out the reasoning behind it and I understood the why. The reasoning is so traumatic for Lena, it’s still affecting her year(s ?) later. But I still couldn’t get over it. Lena knew what she was doing every time, not only is she putting herself in danger but that of her unborn child. I wasn’t cool with that. So every time Lena knowingly put herself in harms way, I just cringed while reading it which inadvertently pulls me from the story. Lena is very stubborn woman, and while I hoped she’d be more careful after the first dangerous situation, she wasn’t. Other than that, overall…Lena was a good-likeable heroine.

Bottom line The Big Keep was a very enjoyable read and I found myself liking it more than I expected; regardless of my little problem with Lena’s choices. The mystery was well done, so well, that when the big reveal came I was totally shocked. Let me just say I didn’t see that one coming! Love the story and the all the characters. Lena’s family is just too wonderful and adorable and Nate is such a smart and lovable kid. His story was all sorts of heart-breaking but everything turned out great in the end…yup, I was very happy with how it wrapped up (case and story wise). I highly recommend The Big Keep! If you’re a fan of Olson’s Scarlett Bernard series then you won’t want to miss this new series!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gratitude Giveaway Hop [INT]

Welcome to my stop on the hop! I would like to thank the lovely hostess, I am a Reader, Not a Writer for putting this hop together. 

The Gratitude Giveaway hop runs from November 15 - 30

I can't believe it's been three years since I started this blog! Boy, does time flies. I just want to say thank you to all the wonderful readers that has supported the blog over the years. I love and appreciate all the times you've stopped by and commented on my post/reviews. I still get that happy-surprise feeling like the first days of blogging when I see a comment!

This blog would be nothing without you guys, the authors and publishers.
I am grateful for each and every one of you.

One (1) winner
Choice of $15 (USD) Amazon GC or $15 (USD) worth of books from the Book Depository.

INTERNATIONAL, open to anywhere The Book Depository ships.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to see all the blogs that are participating in this hop!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray [Excerpt + Giveaway]

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

For a history lesson, this is almost interesting. Maybe it’s the way he talks with his hands, like an excited kid. But right when I might actually get drawn in, I see Paul walking swiftly up the side aisle to the exit.

Theo’s hand closes over my forearm, tightly, in warning. He whispers, “You see him too?”

I nod. He rises from his seat—crouching low so we don’t block anyone’s view and create a disturbance—and I do the same as we slip out to the side of the auditorium.

A few people give us annoyed looks, but the only sound in the room remains Conley’s voice. “For generations now, people have dreaded World War Three. But they’re making a huge mistake. They’re expecting war to look the way it looked before.”

Nobody much is milling around in the corridors outside, except for a few harried assistants trying to prep for some kind of follow-up reception. So Theo and I go unnoticed as we try to figure out where, exactly, Paul might have gone. In a building this old, nothing is laid out quite like you’d expect.

“Through here, maybe?” Theo opens a door that leads into a darkened room, one empty of chairs or tables.

I follow him inside; as the door swings shut behind us, darkness seals us in, except for the faint glow of the tech we wear—our holoclips, or my security bracelet. We can hear Conley’s speech again, but muffled. “The next challenges humanity will face are going to be fundamentally different from any we’ve faced before. New threats, yes—but new opportunities, too.”

Then we hear something else. Footsteps.

Theo’s arm catches me across the belly as he pulls us both backward, until we’re standing against the wall, hiding in the most absolute darkness. Adrenaline rushes through me; my hair prickles on my scalp, and I can hardly catch my breath.

The steps come closer. Theo and I look over at each other, side by side in the dark, his hand firm against my stomach. It’s too dark for me to understand the expression in his eyes.

Then he whispers, “The far corner. Go.”

We break apart. I rush into the corner, like he said, while Theo walks straight toward the steps . . . which turn out to belong to a tall man in a uniform who doesn’t have a sense of humor.

I knew somebody like Wyatt Conley would have security.

“I only wanted to get an autograph afterward,” Theo says as he keeps going, leading the guard farther from me. “Do you think he’d sign my arm? I could tattoo the autograph on there forever!”

Probably Theo meant for me to get out of here while he distracts the guard. Instead I creep around closer to the stage, and to Paul.

From onstage, Conley says, “The dangers we have to fear aren’t the ones we’re used to. They’re coming from directions we never imagined.”

Theo protests as the guard backs him out of the room, “Oh, come on, no need to overreact—” The door swings shut again, and I can’t hear his voice any longer. I glance over my shoulder, as though looking for Theo would bring him back again—

—which is when Paul Markov’s hand clamps down over my mouth.

My father’s killer whispers, “Don’t scream.”

Due to shipping errors I ended up receiving two duplicate copies of A Thousand Pieces of You. And with permission from the publicist, I am giving these copies away to two lucky readers! To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below!


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Saturday, November 08, 2014

[Review] A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Sci-fi, Young Adult/NA
Series:  Firebird #1

Hardcover, 368 pages
Publication: November 4, 2014 by Harper Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher and Kaye Publicity in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

There’s been a lot of alternate/parallel books cropping up, many with intriguing synopsis but the few that I’ve read fell into two categories: good or bad. None of them had that ‘wow’ factor that blew me away…till I read A Thousand Pieces of You. Most alternate/parallel books play with the idea of another world, one other world to be exact. But A Thousand Pieces of You exceeds that idea by exploring multiple worlds, where the worlds are either freakishly similar to our own just somehow slightly tweaked or extremely different, advance (or behind in terms of technology).

Marguerite,Theo and Paul are constantly jumping dimensions, thanks to a nifty invention called Firebird, a device (necklace) that Marguerite parents’ created. The Firebird enables the wearer to jump to parallel dimensions and temporary inhabit their ‘other self’ for a short duration. Gray’s world building was incredible and the concept for this book extremely unique. I don’t think there’s any book like this, nor as well done. The science behind the idea of alternate/parallel multiverse was very in-depth; the information was explained in a way that’s easy to understand and made the idea/story believable. I loved all the different dimensions that the characters ended up in. Each dimensions had its own elements that made them standout which also made it easy to differentiate one from another. My favorite, like the cover is alternate Russia; which happens to be where Maguerite and Paul were at the longest. I thought the incorporation of the Tsar family and Maguerite as a princess during the second imperial dynasty was a fun play on the Romanov family history.

I really liked all the characters. For one thing, they’re older. Early twenties I believe, which makes this book more NA than YA in my opinion. Marguerite is an artist living among a family of scientists, trying to carve a different path from her physicist family. For the most part Marguerite is a strong, smart, and likeable heroine. I liked that she always listened to her gut, and never let what others say influence her thoughts/feelings. Then there are the two men vying for her heart, Theo and Paul who is both her parent’s assistant. Both men are also likeable and wholly different. Theo is more laid back, always making jokes, and has this confidence that borderlines being cocky. And there is Paul who is quiet, shy, extremely smart but isn’t so great on being social or expressing his feelings. And the thing they have in common is how much they love-care for Marguerite. With that said, there is a love-triangle in this book (not my favorite) but it doesn’t last long thankfully. Marguerite does make a definite choice midway and I was glad to see she didn’t flip-flop back and forth between guys or lead anyone on.

Like many reviewers stated, A Thousand Pieces of You is heavy on the romance. As someone who isn’t all that crazy about romance (I’m more of an action kinda girl), I actually loved the romance aspect of the novel. LOVED it! It might have overshadowed the importance of Marguerite finding her father’s killer but I mean once readers get to the end, and find out the truth…no one can really get mad lol. The love story was so sweet, it literally made me feel all mushy inside (and again, I never get all swoony about this stuff!). While the book explores multiverse dimensions, it also explores the topic of destiny/fate (which is what one of the character proposes, that there IS a scientific explanation behind the idea, and that it’s real). And readers will get to see that idea in play throughout the book, as two characters find themselves together regardless of time, space or dimensions.

A Thousand Pieces of You
is hands down the best young adult sci-fi book I’ve read all year. I’m a big fan of Gray’s Evernight series, but I gotta say I love this book more and am excited to see where it go. I highly, highly recommend this book; words aren’t enough to express how much I enjoyed it. There’s a little something for everyone, mystery, action, romance, historical, and sci-fi. Pick up your copy of A Thousand Pieces of You NOW, you will not regret it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Bloodsick by Melissa F. Olson + Promo

Title: Bloodsick
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: An Old World Novella #2

E-book, 175 pages
Publication: October 27th 2014 by SMP via Shifters After Dark Anthology. Available as a stand-alone December 26, 2014

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

Buy Shifters After Dark here!

All her life, Sashi’s mother warned her not to get involved with werewolf problems. But Sashi, a witch who uses healing magic on sick and injured bodies, has never made a habit of ignoring trauma. When she meets an abused shapeshifter that no one else seems willing to help, Sashi will risk everything –including her fledgling relationship – to save a woman who can’t save herself.

Bloodsick is Will Carling’s origin story, a character that readers met in the Scarlett Bernard series. Bloodsick is narrated by Sashi Noring, a twenty-something Thaumaturge witch (healing magic) living in Minnesota and occasionally Astrid, a female werewolf recently traded to the Minnesota pack to mate with their alpha Luke. There are two stories occurring simultaneously, one with Sashi discovering her place in the world, who wants to make her own path rather than follow in her mom’s footsteps using her magic as an oncologist; and Astrid a new werewolf and member to the Minnesota pack, being mistreated by her Alpha Luke who is determined to bond/mate their wolves together…regardless of their mutual dislike for one another.

I never read a short-story with duo narration, nor is it a preference of mine but I found myself wrapped up in both of these strong women voices and really enjoyed it. Sashi’s mother, Stephanie Noring is Luke’s go-to healer every time he or his wolves get injured. A few days before the full moon, Luke brings Astrid to Stephanie to heal a broken leg and this is where Sashi first meets Astrid and eventually discovers that Luke is not only physically and mentally abusing Astrid but he’s also forcing himself on her in hopes that their wolves bond, and that he will be cured of his madness. Sashi knows she shouldn't meddle in pack affairs, but she's not one to stand by and see another woman go through what Astrid is going through. Sashi's involvement has a snowball effect not only in her Old World business life but also her personal life. While this is supposed to be a story of Will’s origins, the two women are the ones mostly in the spotlight. However, the story still did a great job in painting an image of Will prior to his werewolf transformation and a life before he became the Alpha of the L.A. pack. It was interesting to see all the events that lead up to Will’s transformation, especially when he never had a say in it.

I loved Sashi and Astrid, they were very likeable leads. They are two very different woman but have the same qualities that make them the perfect heroines; both of them are strong, independent, smart, brave and headstrong. I also loved learning all about the witches and wolfs dynamic as well as more of the old world (term used when referring to all the hidden supernaturals). The two supernaturals are very complex in their rules and it was interesting to see how much they differ yet one thing is for certain; the sects cannot stand one another nor do they interact with each other much, which is exactly the way everyone wants it to be kept.

Another great novella from Olson! Bloodsick has all the elements that I love and come to associate with the Scarlett Bernard series packed into this short-story. Bloodsick clocks out at 175 pages, but it was jammed packed with action, a well-written plot, awesome characters and an intriguing world. Bloodsick is a great introduction to Olson’s writing style/story telling; fans of the Scarlett Bernard series will be delighted to jump back into the Old World, while new fans…let me just say ‘get ready to be hooked’! I absolutely loved Bloodsick and was so sad when it ended...I just didn’t want to leave Sashi, Astrid, Will, and the wolf pack! The ending/Epilogue was just crazy and bittersweet! I hope we find out what happens next for Sashi! I highly recommend Bloodsick, Olson’s spin on the supernaturals (Witches, Vamps, and Weres) is a breath of fresh air. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!

Bloodsick is available now in the Shifters After Dark Anthology!
Six authors, six books for only .99! For a limited time only! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

Title: The Accidental Highwayman
Author: Ben Tripp
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Series: The Accidental Highwayman #1

Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication: October 14, 2014 by Tor Teen 

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….
This is the most fun I had reading a historical fantasy young adult in a long time! The Accidental Highwayman is compared to be in the same vein as Star Dust and The Princess Bride and while I haven’t read either book I did see the movie, Star Dust; and I can definitely see some comparisons. The book is set in 18th Century England, and the dialogue/writing definitely reflects the time-period perfectly. The lingo might take a while to get used to, but I don’t think it detracts from the story. It instead gives an authentic feel to the characters and the setting. Tripp inhabits his world with fantastical creatures and beings that just leap off the pages, and enthralls the reader into a feel-good adventure with Kit and his misfit crew. What makes this book more charming is Tripp’s use of illustrations (full page and small pictures) throughout the book, I absolutely love it. 

The Accidental Highwayman is narrated in first person by 16-year-old Kit who is such an adorable and likeable character. Kit use to be part of a traveling circus before he was employed by Master Rattle as the sole servant of the manor. He lived quite a simple life and is very content with how things are but on one of Master Rattle’s usual nights, Kit finds his employer chased by bandits and injured at home. Kit dons his Master’s clothes to misdirect the intruders but instead he finds himself picking up Rattle’s task by a witch to save a lady who is none other then the Fairy King’s daughter and only heir. Kit is suddenly thrust into this magical world that he never knew existed and he took everything in better than I expected. Of course he was freaked out when he found out he had to complete his Master’s task, but I think how he handled it was very realistic…obviously scared and in awe at the same time. It was great to see Kit learn as he goes, and hilarious how he unintentionally out smart all his chasers from goblings, pixies, gryphons, Red Coats, The Rea Sea Duchess and even the Fairy King himself! Along his journey Kit picks up all sorts of wonderful unique friends such as the half human fairy princess who has unlimited powers yet to be discovered, tight-roper Lily (an old acquaintances when he was a kid), Lily’s eccentric Uncle Cornelius, a smart/ (non-talking?) baboon and two tiny fairies that pack a whole lot of attitude.

I love, love, love The Accidental Highwayman! It has everything one looks for in a book; great world building, likeable characters and an action-packed plot. In my opinion, It embodies everything that makes a classic fairy tale-fantasy adventure story. The book is geared toward the young ddult audience, but I think even a younger audience such as middle-grade or older audience (like myself lol) will very much enjoy this book as it offers a little something for everyone. I highly recommend The Accidental Highwayman, and think readers will have as much fun reading it as I did. I can’t wait for the sequel, The Accidental Giant! Be sure to check the Editor’s Note on how the author came up with the story from using old documents he found in his ancestor’s sea chest. How cool is that?!