Tag Archives: 4-star

Review: Living Violet by Jaime Reed

Title: Living Violet (Cambion Chronicles #1)
Author: Jaime Reed
Publisher: Dafina
Genre:  Young Adult, Paranomal
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Premise looked interesting and I won an ARC of the book via Goodreads.

Synopsis: He’s persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most–and everything she most fears. . .

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.

But Caleb’s secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.

Review: Via Goodreads, I received an opportunity to read an advance copy of “Living Violet.” I was really interested in the plot and the book drew me in from the start. While I thought the premise was original (as original as you can be in the ever-growing paranormal YA genre), there were a few issues that I had which made this a 3.5 (or 4, since you can’t have half ratings) read for me.

Let me begin by saying I totally hate this cover. I hate HATE that Caleb is pictured because well…I don’t find this cover boy cute at all and it totally threw me off when reading the book since I was just picturing THAT dude as Caleb instead of some imagined hottie, and it made the plot a little unbelievable. Since I know that authors rarely even have a say in what their covers look like, I’m not going to detract any stars for this point. It’s a personal pet peeve and I wanted to mention it because it made the book a little harder for me to read.

When I did finally get into the book, one thing I really enjoyed was Jaime Reed’s writing style. It was really easygoing and fun and Samara was a character who really bounced off the pages. She was realistic, and realistic is good. I also really appreciated that she wasn’t a “Bella Swan” – meek and quiet and far too subtle for my tastes. While I can see where Sam would come off as being a little annoying, I really think that in this case, there was enough sass without it coming across as forced or bratty.

Another thing that really made the book for me was the actual premise. I liked the supernatural beings featured, and I really liked Reed’s explanations of how they work. The supporting characters in the book really helped move and shape the story and I really enjoyed getting to know them all.

Now, the one thing that I did NOT like (and I kinda mentioned above) was Caleb. Again, maybe this was because of my cover bias but he just DID NOT come off to me like the likeable, tempting guy that Samara is into. At the beginning, he comes off a little skeevy and really, does not make up for it for the rest of the book. He just did not work for me as the male lead, and do sorta wish he had been written differently.

Overall, I decided to rate the book up to 4 stars because I did enjoy reading it, issues aside. I also am curious to read the 2nd book in the series, because it seems like it would focus more on Samara than on Caleb and Samara’s relationship. I’d recommend this book to all fans of paranormal YA.

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Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Chick Lit, Southern Lit
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: I generally really enjoy Southern Lit, and this was a bargain buy from Amazon.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Review: There is something about a book that is oozing with Southern charm that I can’t deny. Maybe it’s the foreign-ness of that kind of society that never fails to draw me in, or maybe it’s the rich descriptions of a slower kind of life, spent sipping sweet tea on a covered porch. Whatever it may be, when I saw “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt,” in the bargain section at Amazon, I knew I just had to read it.

The book is often compared to “Secret Life of Bees,” which was darling and definitely fit the “Southern Lit” criteria. Both protagonists are young women who are on the cusp of adulthood and discover much about life and family after spending a summer down in the South with very strong female role models.  In CeeCee’s world, these women are from all walks of life and of all different races.  As we follow CeeCee on her journey into acceptance with who is she and who her mother was, these women play an enormous role in getting her to that point.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was Hoffman’s writing. Her descriptions were so rich and sweet! I really regret not tabbing the pages that had these right lines on them, so that I could go back to them later and just re-absorb the wonderful sentences.

Hoffman really did a great job of balancing the different relationships in the book, without making any of the many characters “one note.” Each woman in the book can hold her own and I’d be interested to learn more about them all. My favorite was the lovable character of Oletta, who is the housekeeper in CeeCee’s new home. With her as one of the primary character, the very real subject matter of  racial tension was touched upon, but in a way as to not overtake the core of the story – which was about the growth of a young girl.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of other books such as “The Help.” It was a short and sweet read that stuck with me.

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razor Bill
Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Loved the cover and wanted a more “Halloween”-ish read.

Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: Even before I heard of “The Replacement,” I was intrigued by Brenna Yovanoff after reading about her upcoming book “The Space Between.” After seeing the cover for “The Replacement,” I knew I had to read it and what better time to do so than during the Halloween season?

The story centers on Mackie, who is a replacement (changeling – the baby of two mystical creatures like faeries or goblins). Although left in the crib to a new family, Mackie is embraced by his human family and loved as if he was their born son. Their love, though, cannot stop Mackie from feeling as if he doesn’t belong. It also cannot stop him from slowly dying in the human world.

While the theme of love and family is strong in this book, it never comes across as cheesy or pandering to the YA-set. The bonds between Mackie, his parents, and his sister, feel natural. It’s a kind of relief to read a story where there is a positive relationship between the protagonist and those forces in his life. I especially loved Emma, Mackie’s sister – who is thoughtful and protective of her special younger brother, yet does so in an authentic way that mirrors an actual relationship between two siblings.

The other strong theme of “coming of age” has a darker twist to it, due to Mackie’s background and the conflicts contained in the book, but it still…works. He’s easy to relate to and seemed to me more of a tragic figure than most other heroes in YA books. The other plus is that I did not find him at all annoying, which tends to happen sometimes when I read YA (a tell-tale sign I am old)!

Although it can be dark at times, “The Replacement” doesn’t lack funny moments, and is brimming with positive relationships.   Due to some sexual descriptiveness and language, this may be better for the 15+ set but – as I am a prime example of – really has appeal across the age pool. I loved this book and now am even more excited to Brenna Yovanoff’s “The Space Between.”

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre:  YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Why I picked it: Love the concept of a story motivated by found pictures. Plus…AWESOME cover appeal.

Synopsis:  A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Review: From the very moment I happened to stumble upon this book on Amazon, I was intrigued. The cover is fantastic and gives off such a spooky air that I couldn’t help but be drawn to it. Although I went into it expecting horror and got fantasy…I was not at all disappointed.

Ransom Riggs collects “found” photos. These old, and often super creepy, pictures are the inspiration behind this novel, which incorporates those images with a fantastical tale about a teenage boy trying to find his place in life.

Jacob has grown up listening to his grandfather’s stories about an island on which there is a school filled with “peculiar” children who all have different special talents. When old enough to dismiss such fantastical ideas as magic, Jacob decides to take his grandfather’s stories with a grain of salt – that is, until tragedy strikes and our hero realizes there might have been some truth behind it all. The story follows Jacob as he attempts to uncover the hidden secrets of his grandfather’s life – with a lot of humor and descriptive language peppered throughout.

I must admit this book hooked me really fast and the author’s build-up of events kept me reading well past my bedtime. I loved how the photos were incorporated into the text – with descriptions preceding actual pictures. I found myself really excited to turn the page and see what the described characters looked like. I also really enjoyed that these seemingly scary pictures were turned into something more innocent via the story. Instead of scared, I found myself fascinated by the photos.

One thing I did not care for was how the story builds up to a sequel (which has already been announced). In plain terms, there is more of a lack of resolution than I usually like. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read a series but I especially like to read a series where a book can stand alone. While this one can, it’s teetering on that edge of the unknown. And as a totally random side note, I actually thought to myself as I read “Hey! There’s not many pages left and it seems like too much is still open ended. But they’d have a hard time making this a series, unless they have many pictures of same individuals or enough pictures that kind of obscure the subject’s face.”

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I liked the format and the imaginative story. I would highly recommend this book, but be forewarned – if you like an ending wrapped in a neat and tidy bow, you will likely be disappointed.

Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Title: A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers #5)
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre:  Historical Romance
Rating:4/5

Why I picked it: Last installment of Lisa Kleypas’ amazing Wallflower series.

Synopsis: It’s Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady in waiting and, if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

Review: The first thing one notices about this conclusion to Lisa Kleypas’ awesome Wallflowers series is how short it is. It also centers around a brand-new heroine who has had no parts in any of the other novels. For these two reasons, I really thought I wasn’t going to like this book as much as I did. Not to be cliche, but it was short and sweet.

The book centers on Rafe Bowman, brother to Daisy and Lillian, who gets an ultimatum from his father to either marry Natalie, a well-bred English lady, or to lose his share of the Bowman’s huge amounts of money.  Instead of Natalie, he becomes completely captured with Hannah, who is of plainer stock.  Natalie, of course, sees him as an ill-behaved, American rake. While this center storyline is occurring, readers get a kind of “what are they doing now?” look into the lives of the previous Wallflowers. Although this book takes place almost right after the last, it was really nice to get a glimpse into those characters who we have grown really attached to.

Lisa Kleypas did a really nice job of joining a new story with glimpses into the current lives of the previous Wallflowers. The new characters were well thought-out and the old kept the same traits that made us love them in the first place. Overall, it was a really satisfying companion to the series and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has read the prior books.

Review: Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers #4)
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre:  Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5/5

Why I picked it: Book #4 of Lisa Kleypas’ amazing Wallflower series.

Synopsis: After spending three London seasons searching for a husband, Daisy Bowman’s father has told her in no uncertain terms that she must find a husband. Now. And if Daisy can’t snare an appropriate suitor, she will marry the man he chooses—the ruthless and aloof Matthew Swift.

Daisy is horrified. A Bowman never admits defeat, and she decides to do whatever it takes to marry someone . . . anyone . . . other than Matthew. But she doesn’t count on Matthew’s unexpected charm . . . or the blazing sensuality that soon flares beyond both their control. And Daisy discovers that the man she has always hated just might turn out to be the man of her dreams.

But right at the moment of sweet surrender, a scandalous secret is uncovered . . . one that could destroy both Matthew and a love more passionate and irresistible than Daisy’s wildest fantasies.

Review:  I hate to admit it but this was probably my least favorite book in the Wallflower series. Then again, it’s hard to follow “Devil in Winter,” which is likely one of the best romance books I have read in some time.

This book is focused upon Daisy Bowman, the last Wallflower left without a husband. Daisy is a character I can relate to. She’s cute, witty, and bookish. Best of all, she does not give off an air of “damsel in distress” and desperation that is often found in other romance books.

The book begins with an ultimatum: Either Daisy marry Matthew Swift, a trusted business partner of her father, or she finds someone else to marry before the Bowman family returns back to New York permanently. As with every historical romance book I have read, there is required a certain suspension of facts and general beliefs. This one was pretty bad on that front.

For one, Matthew Swift spends a large portion of the book denying Daisy for reasons untold, until we get to the end of the book. Instead of being satisfied with this plot-line being wrapped up, I was more saying to myself “Really? That’s why? That’s umm..silly.” Also in this book, more than the other Wallflower books, I found myself asking “Why is it so hard for her to find a husband?” Not only is Daisy beautiful, but she’s also obscenely rich! The other Wallflowers genuinely had things that may be off-putting to snobby gentlemen callers (a stutter, a brash personality, or a lack of money). Daisy just is imaginative and likes books.

Overall, this may not have been a bad read as a stand-alone. I can’t really rate it down much because Lisa Kleypas really knows how to write a damn good romance book, and I did find myself smiling or giggling at certain points. The problem is that it’s in line with three other books in the Wallflowers series that are all just so damned good that it’s hard for me to rate this one higher.

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Genre:  YA, Fairy Tales
Rating: 4.5/5

Why I picked it: A fairy tale retelling? Yes please!!

Synopsis: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend–but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

Review: Okay, first of all, how awesome is the cover of this book? Seriously, I can’t stop looking at the prettiness if it and it automatically drew me to the book right off the bat.

Secondly…wow! What an amazing story! Told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Scarlett and Rosie, the book delivers in terms of action, suspense, and romance. I must admit it took me a little bit of time to get into the book (about 50 pages or so), but once I hit that point, I was hooked and read the rest of the book in one sitting. Seriously.

There were a lot of elements that made this fairy tale exactly that. Setting, tone, and narrative all made me feel like I was in that magical world with the characters. Jackson Pearce entwined that world with the modern day and instead of feeling inauthentic or forced, it actually worked!! I think it also helped that the characters were really great.

Sisters Scarlett and Rosie have a relationship that is complex and deep. I found that the switched perspective (each chapter alternates as either being told by Rosie or Scarlett), actually really helped get into the core of what each character was feeling. It kinda would have been nice to hear more from Silas and what he was thinking, but that is just a minor point for me, as I really enjoyed his character.

My automatic instinct was to empathize with Rosie and pity Scarlett but as I got further on in the book, I felt more empathy for Scarlett as well. Although she was unwillingly thrust into a life where she is aware of the Fenris, due to tragedy striking, she takes that knowledge and chooses to turn it into something tangible. She chooses to fight every day for what she believes  and to protect those innocents who don’t know any better.

Overall, this was a terrific, quick read that I would recommend across the board. It’s a modern take on a classic story that isn’t merely a retelling. It’s a complete overhaul for today’s audiences, and it’s one that rocks!!