Friday, August 5, 2011

Along for the Ride Review

Along For The Ride
Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date:
June 11, 2009
Genre:
YA, Contemporary Romance
Pages:
Kindle Edition
Source:
Purchase
Rating:
5/5 (Avg 4/5)
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

I have to admit that I am a sucker when it comes to romance. But sometimes the story is so cliché and predictable, I have to put it down. I've done this for a lot of books. Oddly enough, I've never given Sarah Dessen a chance - which is peculiar because she's an NC author, and I do try my best to support my state's authors. So I decided to give her a try... and I am so glad that I did. Everything about this story screams 'Missy's Perfect Romance Book' and let me tell you why.

Auden is a completely relatable protagonist with a particular trait that I can relate to very well - insomnia. I had a huge problem with it when I was in school and there were many nights when I went to the local Waffle House just to get out and do something, in hopes that I would tire myself out. Of course the insomnia is just a small little spot in what makes Auden a great character. She's smart, self-sufficient and doesn't go all ga-ga for just any boy. I'll admit, I was a little worried when the first guy came into the story because I did NOT want the story to be one of those good-girl-reforms-bad-boy type stories that I could really go without right now. Eli was a great male lead and I love the fact that he stayed so mysterious for so long. There were a lot of characters in this book, but I felt as though each one served their own purpose very well.

I also liked the romance and relationships formed in this novel. The insta-love and insta-lust was pretty non-existent, which made the story that much better because it built up to romance besides just falling into romance from the very beginning. I liked that Auden's stepmother wasn't the run of the mill evil stepmother trying to push her way into every aspect of Auden's life. Auden's parents didn't really touch me from the beginning, but they grew on me as they each grew themselves throughout the book. I also really liked how Auden's friendships with some of the teens in the town seemed to grow organically - it wasn't something that just happened overnight, but rather with a lot of time and effort on both party's sides.

Going with all of this, Auden grew dramatically throughout this novel which is so refreshing. Normally, you have a main character that's pretty set in their ways and may change their mind on one or two things, but Auden really opened up to change - though she never really lost who she was through the novel either. It was a great balance and worked well for the story.

Overall, this novel is fabulous. The pacing is great and easy to fall into. The characters were wonderfully developed and the plot made for a great story. Sarah Dessen's writing is amazing and I will definitely be reading more from her very soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Antara Review

Antara (Antara #1)
Marilena Mexi

Publisher: Lulu
Release Date:
March 22, 2011
Genre:
YA
Pages:
Kindle Edition
Source:
Author
Rating:
5/5 (Avg 3.5/5)
Peace and tranquility on the island of Aster, home to both humans and 'merfolk', has long been broken by a devastating phenomenon, recurring every five years. A storm including gusting winds and huge waves mysteriously appeared and eradicated much of the population. The misunderstandings, suspicion and hate born of this disaster have torn the two races apart, and the peace loving merfolk are now in a never-ending struggle to prove their innocence and restore peace to the island.

On the human side, things are even worse; under the tyranny of cruel king Orestis, the people suffer and all their king cares for is vengeance against the “fish”, as he spitefully calls them, executing merfolk after merfolk for just being near his lands.

Secrets, intense emotions and strange phenomena will upset their lives forever.

Most of the time, I can specify things about a book that I really, really liked and other things that I didn't like so much. This book is an exception because everything went together so well that it was hard to see anything that I didn't like about it.

I don't know if it was on purpose or not, but the story reads like an old-fashioned fairytale. It was beautifully written and lyrical, sucking you in with just words from the very beginning. The story is very fantasy with a very real issue that is dealt with in our society today, which was a nice little twist. The premise was completely original and, even though the story was short, you came away from the story completely mesmerized and satisfied with what you've read.

I also cannot go without mentioning the romance which was so sweet it almost gave me a tooth ache, but in a good way. As a matter of fact, the scenes between Aster and Orestis were some of my favorite.

I was absolutely blown by the illustrations in this book as well. They added about ten more dimensions to the story that may not have necessarily been needed to make this story so great, but they were definitely a welcome addition to it. I'd love to have prints of all the illustrations to just tack on my wall and stare at all the time.

Overall, this was a fantastic read. I cannot say anything bad or negative about it because it far surpassed my expectations of a YA book and left me speechless!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday


February 7, 2012
Cate Cahill and her sisters are considered eccentric bluestockings—a little odd, a little unfashionable, and far too educated for their own good. The truth is more complicated; they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it could mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. Before their mother died, she entrusted Cate with keeping them safe and keeping everyone, including their father, in the dark about their powers. When her father employs a governess and Cate begins to receive notes from her missing, presumed-mad godmother, her task becomes much more difficult. As Cate searches for answers in banned books and rebellious new friends, she must juggle unwanted proposals, tea parties, and an illicit attraction to the new gardener. Cate will do anything to protect her sisters, but at what cost to herself?

Like vampires, I have always had a soft spot for witches. After reading this premise, you know this story is so much more... but I do hope the paranormal element is a big part of it!

What are you waiting on??

Reborn Review

Reborn (A Goddess of Night Novella)
Ley Mesina

Publisher: N/A
Release Date:
May 25, 2011
Genre:
Paranormal
Pages:
Kindle Edition
Source:
Author
Rating:
4/5 (Avg 3.5/5)
Lily Westbrook knows she is anything but ordinary. When her powers fully mature on her eighteenth birthday, she realizes that being half witch and half vampire is more of a challenge then she was let on to believe.

After being accepted to Kensington University in Cedar Creek, Massachusetts, she sets out on a journey that pulls her deeper into the world of witches and vampires, uncovering the truth about her past and discovering who she is meant to be.

Reborn has that "diamond in the rough" appeal that I do like with some novellas, though it had a little more emphasis on 'rough' because of the spelling and grammatical errors. With a little fine-tuning in editing, this can be fixed so I'm not going to throw this part into the rating - I just thought it should be known to people who are bothered by things like that. Being a reviewer and reading ARCs, I've learned how to look over these things so I cannot justify it one way or the other simply because of that.

With that out of the way I can say that I did enjoy Mesina's story. Vampires versus witches has been done before, yes, but this story has its own small unique twist in mythology that takes it above being completely cliché. With the perspective changing to varying characters, it was good insight into all that was going on but could be confusing at times. You catch on quickly, but I would have liked to see the POV focus on just one or two of the characters, that way you could bond to those specific characters (especially Lily) and be able to relate a little better.

Overall, this was a nice read to finish in one-sitting. It's an great introduction story with a decent understand of everything that is going on. It has all the characteristics that are needed for a novella, and leaves you wanting to know a lot more - as it should. It's a fun little read and I can't wait for the follow-up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eternity Review



Eternity (Fallen Angel #2)
Heather Terrell

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date:
June 28, 2011
Genre:
YA, Paranormal
Pages:
Paperback, 304 pages
Source:
Author
Rating:
4/5 (Avg 4/5)
The end . . . or a new beginning?

As Ellie comes to grips with her destiny as the Elect One, her relationship with Michael grows tense. When she meets a mys­terious boy named Rafe, things get even more complicated.

Yet the time has come for the Elect One to stand against the group of evil fallen angels who are bent on destroying the world. In order to face the immeasurable malevolence heading her way, Ellie tries to put her personal life aside. But she soon learns that whoever holds her heart also holds the key to mankind’s salvation—or destruction. As the end days approach, Ellie is faced with an epic decision. Who does her heart really belong to? And is her love strong enough to save the world?


I have to admit right off that I had not read the first book in the series, Fallen Angel, until I had to read this one. I just felt as though I needed to read it to give this book a fair shot.

This book was a little clearer to me on facts than the first was, even answering some of the lingering questions that I had from Fallen Angel. The mix of true mythology and mythology made for this book blended together well, never seeming scattered or unreal at all. In all honesty, this is probably one of the best series involving angels that I have read in a while.

The characters were all written great. Ellie was a great female lead both brave and powerful, yet definitely acted like a normal teenage girl at the same time. I think Michael is a good counterpart for Ellie, though sometimes he's a little flaky when he needs to be there for Ellie. Rafe caught my attention in this book, as well as Ruth. It's great to see a best friend in a book that acts like a best friend to the lead instead of getting all jealous or worked up over every single detail.

Sometimes while reading, I felt as though things were made out to be a little more... dramatic than necessary. And I honestly would have loved to see more of the action when it happened, it just always seemed a bit rushed. Overall though, this was a great read and a great follow-up to Fallen Angel - easy to follow and quick in pace. I'll definitely continue to follow this series as it progresses.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Only Mine, by Susan Mallery

Only Mine (Fool's Gold #4)
Susan Mallery

Publisher: HQN
Release Date:
July 26, 2011
Genre:
Contemporary Romance
Pages:
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Source:
Netgalley
Rating:
5/5 (Avg 4/5)
You can’t win if you don’t play…

Her town’s lack of men may make headlines, but it isn’t news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool’s Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town.

Finn Anderssen will do anything to keep his twin brothers—the perfect contestants—off the show. Despite Dakota’s better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn’t dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV.

FYI for anyone that reads my blog, this is most definitely not a YA read. Every once in a while, I step away from YA to read some quality fiction reads, and this is one of those times.

I haven't read any of the books in the Fool's Gold series before this one, but I can definitely say that I will be sure to remedy that soon. On the same note, even though I've never read any of the books before, this book was easy to read as a stand-alone and I was never once confused for reading the books out of turn.

If there ever was such a place as Fool's Gold, I would most definitely want to visit there.. if not move there. Even though the main part of this story was about one specific girl, there was this overwhelming sense of community with all of the characters from this town - everyone knows each other and, in seeing so, it makes you feel as though you know them too. Plus, all of the characters, no matter how minor, really sprung to life off of the pages of this book. There were all unique with their own voice and personality. I loved it.

Dakota is a female lead that you won't soon forget. She's smart, funny and very charming... yet she has a vulnerable side, too. She's a real go-getter and her sense of independence is absolutely mind-boggling. I love how her attitude is really, "I would like to have a husband, but I don't need a husband to be able to have a great life," unlike most characters that either don't need a man at all or are completely dependent on a man. She's the perfect role model for a strong woman in control of her life. And I did fall in love with Finn right along with Dakota. He was pretty great. Independent himself, though he had a few selfish streaks that I could have done without. In the end, he made things right, so I won't be too upset with him.

There was definitely a bit of the reality show storyline thrown in but I really liked how the book concentrated on Dakota more than anything. Plus, we also get some perspective and growth on some of the other characters as well, which really add another layer to the story that made it that much more enjoyable. This is definitely a great read for all of the romance lovers out there. I will definitely be picking up more from Susan Mallery, especially the other books in her Fool's Gold series.



Also, be sure to enter Susan's Only Mine... All Mine contest for an exclusive first look at the Fool's Gold Christmas ebook and a Man Shortage shirt! Click the banner below and be sure to sign up for Susan's newsletter to become a member. All it takes is an e-mail address and a zip code! Offer ends September 1, 2011!

Interview with Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Books:
· Delicious (February 2006) Buchanans Series
· Sweet Talk (July 2008) Bakery Sisters Series
· Under Her Skin (May 2009) Lone Star Sisters Series
· The Sparkling One (February 2010) Marcelli Series
· Chasing Perfect (May 2010) Fool's Gold Series
More books by Susan Mallery...


Out Now:
· Only Mine (July 2011) Fool's Gold Series



How did you come into writing?
I had always imagined writers wore berets and smoked and lived in dark, danky apartments in Paris until I took an evening course called “How to Write a Romance Novel” while in college. A recruiter had lined up an excellent job for me as an accountant. When I told him I had decided to become a romance writer instead, he said he had always wanted to be a writer, too, but had been afraid to try. He told me that he would help me find a different job in a year if it didn’t work out, and that gave me the courage to take the leap.


"Best-selling Author, Susan Mallery." What is your reaction when you see this?
I’m humbled. You don’t become a bestseller without a lot of amazing fans. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and my fans have been telling their friends about me from the beginning. It means the world to me. This year, I’m doing something really fun – I’ve selected 25 fans to be the Fool’s Gold Varsity Cheerleaders. They’re doing what they love to do – talking books with people who love to read – and they’re earning prizes as they go along. It’s pretty fabulous, and their enthusiasm makes me feel giddy. They are so sweet!


You've written many books. Where do you find fresh inspiration for your future books?
I find inspiration everywhere. Country songs are a great source of inspiration. So are stories on National Public Radio. And the evening news. And eavesdropping on conversations in the ladies room – oh wait, did I just admit that? It’s true, though. Watch what you’re saying when a writer is around. You never know what snippet might end up in a book.

Ideas are easy to come by for me. The real trick is identifying which of those ideas are big enough to sustain a book. An author needs to find ideas with many layers and infinite possibilities for where the story could go, so that the path she chooses is unpredictable to her readers. My stories are emotional with a lot of humor, and it’s the emotional choices my characters make that I find so fascinating.


How did you come up with your Fool's Gold series?
I knew I wanted to create a series based on a place. In the past, I’d written series based on a family, so once I ran out of siblings, I ran out of stories. Readers kept asking me for more in every series. They loved that sense of connection, and they wanted it to go on. By creating a series based on a place, I can continue to write books in the series as long as readers love them and as long as I find inspiration there.

The place itself needed to have a strong identity. As I was brainstorming the series, I heard a story about the then-upcoming 2010 census, about everything a town can discover about itself from census results. I wondered, “What if there was a man shortage?”

So Fool’s Gold was born… the town with the man shortage. But instead of making the women eager to get more men to town, I tweaked reader expectations and made the women strong, self-sufficient, and kind of crabby that anyone would think they need more men. They can run the town just fine without men. Which means that any men who do move to Fool’s Gold have to earn the right to live there. . . and they have to earn the hearts of the women they love.


What would you tell the reader about Only Mine that separates it from the rest of the series?
Each book in the series is a standalone novel, meaning that you won’t get lost if you read them out of order. As ONLY MINE begins, a TV dating show is about to film in Fool’s Gold. Psychologist Dakota Hendrix, one of the Hendrix triplets, has been assigned by the mayor to keep unbalanced contestants off the show so Fool’s Gold won’t look stupid. Between her job and hiding an emotional secret from her mother and sisters, Dakota has plenty on her plate. The last thing she needs is an angry, rugged Alaskan pilot in her face. Finn Anderssen isn’t going to leave Fool’s Gold without his fame-seeking younger brothers, who belong in college, not on TV.

You can read free excerpts at www.foolsgoldca.com. You’ll find lots of freebies and fun bonus content there, too!


Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Next year, three yummy cowboy brothers will move to Fool’s Gold. The year after that, a bodyguard academy will open up on the edges of town. Who doesn’t love cowboys and bodyguards? I’m all a-tingle!

In addition to the romances, I also write one non-romance women’s fiction per year. These books are more serious, more emotional, and they give me the opportunity to spend more time on the other relationships that are so important to women. My next women’s fiction, BAREFOOT SEASON, will be out in April. It’s the first book of a new series set on quaint Blackberry Island, Washington.

Summer Giveaway Hop!


I've decided to join the Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Mary from Bookhounds. There are over 300 blogs participating in this hop, so after you're done with mine be sure to check out the others by following the links below!

There will be 3 prizes, but you'll only have to enter once to be signed up for all of them!

Prize #1 is a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon.com or Book Depository.
Prize #2 is a $10 gift certificate to either Amazon.com or Book Depository.
Prize #3 is a book of your choice, along with a swag pack full of random swag that I have lying around the house.

My contests are international and entering for these prizes is simple. All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and valid e-mail address. Following is appreciated, but not mandatory for this hop. Be sure to have entered by midnight on August 7th. I will randomly select 3 winners the day after and notify them via e-mail.

Good luck, guys!




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5/26/2013: If you're here and you're reading this.. thanks for sticking around! I know I've been gone for a while but I am definitely coming back. This blog will be going through some crazy transitions (layout and such) for the next few days, but I should be back up and ready to review VERY soon. Thanks so much for your patience and support!! xoxo, Missy
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