Review: Breathe

Breathe by Elena Dillon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16 year old girl. It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught. That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over. Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.

In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way. Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction. On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is. Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening. Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time? Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.

It’s been a month since I read any contemporary and the fact that this one is a mystery got me intrigued. Okay, so Jasmine is the sister of a murder victim – a serial killer’s murder victim, who never got caught. The murder of her sister itself causes enough upheaval in her life and now when after two years her family moves into a new town for a fresh start, she is ready to put it all behind her and move on.

Roughly the first half of the book is her settling into her life, though the fact remains that overall she and her family members are more wary now and almost paranoid about strangers. One such incident leads to a meet-cute with the love interest and she immediately starts crushing on him. Things are really looking up when she is asked out by him (who is quite a good guy) and she finally feels happier in this life. The past is still looming over her, however, when she starts to get messages from an unknown source. Her paranoia having a basis, she is afraid but refuses to involve her family into it. In fact, as a character, I loved that about Jasmine – she has multiple facets to her personality – she is the naive teenager, but brave enough to know when to speak up as well as very caring towards her loved ones. In fact, in a dystopia she would have been hailed a hero. For his part, Easton is also a good boyfriend, though his over-protectiveness (even though it was justified) grated on my nerves at one point. He is however a gentleman and kind of her knight in shining armor even though she didn’t need him to be.

As for the mystery, well, I wasn’t as much satisfied with it. Things didn’t really look up in the mystery department until 70% of the book (yea, I notice such things) and the ending was resolved but I felt some things were left unanswered. Like, who put those articles on the lockers? I’m sure it was Lisa but it wasn’t ever explicitly answered. Secondly, how did the hospital never find out that she was made unconscious, not became unconscious? Seems like a thing they would know, plus her flimsy excuses wouldn’t have ever made me believe it. So, in the contemporary department – it scores with good characterization and dialogue. But in the mystery – eh, not so sure with the somewhat okay plot and uneven pacing. I would give this a solid 3.

Received an ARC from Mark My Words Publicity via Netgalley for review purposes. This in no way affects my opinion or my review.

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Review: Deliverance

Deliverance by C.J. Redwine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everything hangs in the balance, and nothing is certain: Rachel has been kidnapped by enemy forces and is being taken to Rowansmark while Logan, imprisoned and awaiting trial, is unable to leave Lankenshire. Separated from each other and their Baalboden comrades, each must find a way to achieve what they desperately want: to rid their world once and for all of the Commander and the tech that controls the deadly Cursed One.

Fighting through her pain and embracing the warrior she’s become, Rachel will do whatever it takes to escape her enemies’ clutches and join Logan in his fight. But when she learns a secret that changes everything, she realizes that escaping Ian and his tracker friends is no longer an option if she wants to save the people she loves. Instead, she’ll have to destroy Rowansmark from the inside out—if she can survive the journey through the Wasteland.

Logan needs allies if he wants to thwart Rowansmark’s power grab and rescue Rachel. But securing allies will mean betraying his beliefs and enlisting the help of the man he hates more than anyone: Commander Jason Chase. Driven by his fierce love for Rachel and his determination to make their world safe, Logan may be just the weapon the city-states need to defeat the Cursed One.

But as Rowansmark bears down and uneasy alliances are tested, will Rachel and Logan’s love for each other be enough to surmount the unbelievable odds against them?

Deliverance truly delivers a good finale to the Defiance series. At the end of Deception, I was afraid for how it will all go down. I knew it would all converge at Rowansmark, and a happy ending is to expected but the causalities are a fear every reader is accustomed too. And since Defiance and Deception had quite a death toll, and there was a war brewing in this one, I was truly apprehensive. I needn’t have worried though, with Redwine delivering (I will keep doing this, guys :P) a great finish to the series.

At the start of the book, Rachel is en route to Rowansmark, a prisoner of Ian while Logan is sitting in a Lankenshire prison cell, hatching a plan to go after Ian as well as take out the Commander camped outside the gates of Lankenshire. Running through scenarios, he knows he has to compromise somewhere, ally with his mortal enemy for the chance to get Rachel back. Rachel, meanwhile, is fighting tooth and nail to escape her captors. She is injured, which slows her plans but not her spirit. However, when she gets to know her captors and their plans, she realizes that bigger things are at play and her she will have to sacrifice her freedom to save her people.

The plot winds through the other city-states, with a new character in the form of Connor joining Logan’s inner circle and winds up in Rowansmark, where Rachel gets firsthand experience in how cruel James Rowan is. The ending is happy but the journey certainly is not – I was cringing each time the protags endured something so physically painful. Rachel learns to let go of her anger, to not follow down the dark path she was on during Deception. Where Deception was largely devoted to the emotional obstacles, Deliverance was on the physical ones too. Besides the main characters, secondary ones like Quinn, Willow and Frankie really shine. I was so emotional when Quinn declares Rachel to be his sister and Logan calls Willow his family – it was so leading up to that moment right from book one. Nice work, Redwine! Actually, a lot of events tie into the first book, which makes me commend this series for the splendid plot construction. And as always, the writing is perfect paced with the story flow, keeping you interested and invested all the time. This book goes on my favorites shelf, for sure!

Received an ARC from Balzer+Bray via Edelwiess for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion or my review

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Review: Outcast

Outcast by C.J. Redwine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quinn Runningbrook knows a hundred ways to kill a man and make it hurt. He can track, ambush, and torture his prey with terrifying skill—just like his father taught him. But every kill consumes another piece of him, and Quinn longs to stop, to save himself and his sister Willow from becoming like his father—a man who kills for entertainment.

But when Quinn refuses to torture a group of trespassers caught too close to the Tree Village where his family lives, and instead kills them quickly, he disobeys a direct order from his father . . . and Willow is forced to do it instead. Suddenly, Quinn isn’t the favored apprentice to the family business of “protecting” the Tree Village anymore. Willow is.

When Jared Adams—a courier from the nearby city-state of Baalboden—is caught traveling too close to their borders, Willow is ordered to torture him for information. But Quinn knows that Jared doesn’t deserve torture or death. And he realizes he has to take action…or the fate chosen for Willow and himself by their father will remain carved in stone.

I almost forgot about reading this book and took it up while reading Deliverance. Though it is a companion and only gives the story of the events mentioned in Deception, I felt it prudent to read it before the end of the series *sob* and so I did.

Outcast’s story is of Quinn and Willow – when they lived in their Tree Village, apprentices of their sadistic abusive killer father, who only wanted to create another version of himself in his kids. Since Quinn, a boy of honor refuses to conform but too scared to say so, his father manipulates him by making Willow do the work. Basically, both siblings are being manipulated by their father to protect each other.

You see Quinn struggling hard against being a killer, Willow being fiercely protective of her brother and generally, the loving relationship between the two. Jared Adams is also an addition to the story, a fact I liked because we see him from an outsider’s view, not just from Rachel or Logan’s.

Highly recommended for fans of Defiance series – you will enjoy the writing and the characters.

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Review: Deception

Deception by C.J. Redwine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Baalboden has been ravaged.

The Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And with a ragged group of survivors struggling to stay alive, it’s up to Logan to become the leader they need – with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival city-state Carrington’s army, which is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group leaves their home and takes their chances in the Wasteland.

But soon their problems intensify tenfold: Someone – possibly inside their ranks – is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. The chaos puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn’t long before they feel their love splintering. And soon the group begins to question whether the price of freedom may be too great – and whether they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.

Now THIS is how a good dystopian book should be! Baalboden’s survivors on the run, crossing through the Wastelands while running from the Commander’s Army as well as trying to eliminate a threat on the group. The title obviously points out to a threat within the group, and is the major suspense of the story and while I predicted who it might be, I couldn’t have imagined the reason.

In this book, the protagonists Rachel and Logan are in the position of protector and leader respectively. It’s a 180 from how Logan was to be her Protector in the first book and now she is one who is his protector. Big win for strong female protagonists. While Logan is burdened with the responsibility of getting over a hundred people to the nearest safe city-state, as well as keep the Rowansmark tech out of the hands of the Commander, Rachel’s tribulations are more of the emotional one. We see her spiraling from rage to vengeance to apathy to grief – and her emotional journey is something that bonds you to her. She is this strong-seeming warrior, who constantly has to remember the guilt of killing a nearly innocent man, the guilt of being helpless to protect the ones she loves and her ever-burning vengeance against the Commander. Logan tries to get her to open up, but she sees the troubles he is going through and keeps it to herself. Logan, on the other hand, is plagued by self-doubt and constantly runs through scenarios in order to protect the survivors. The weight of those lives, as well as constantly having to prove himself, does put him in a position which makes him distant from Rachel but he tries. The moments between Rachel and Logan are sweet, and intense but flow well with the storyline.

The other significant characters from Logan’s inner circle, siblings Willow and Quinn are well-rendered. They don’t just remain secondary characters, and in fact we get their backstories too. Quinn especially is a big player in Rachel’s story arc, and he is emotionally close to her in a way Logan could never be. Now before you get thoughts of a love triangle, I am going to stop you right there and tell you to go back to the first line of my review. ;)

Overall, I loved how Redwine’s writing brought the story alive. It was a very intense book; enjoyment wouldn’t even be the right word to describe it. It was more close to an experience rather than an adventure, if you get my meaning? I wouldn’t even describe it as beautiful, but more like a feeling of home. In short, I loved it – each and every bit of it.

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Book Blogger Hop: Aug 29 – Sep 4

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

This week’s question is:

Do you reply to comments on your blog or do you figure folks won’t be stopping back to read your reply so you don’t bother?

My Answer:

I make it a point to reply to any and all comments as soon as possible. Whether the person comes back to read it or not, though I would prefer having a person come back and see it at least.

ARC Review: Ghost House

Ghost House
Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Release date: August 26, 2014

After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own.

First thoughts – Ghost House, despite it’s name, lacks some good amount of horror. Chloe has come to her grandma’s house in England for the holidays, a way to get away from the sadness in her life due to the recent death of her mother. Being psychic, she has always been able to see ghosts, but they never really communicated with her until she comes to Grange Hall. Of course, the first one had to be a hot charming dead guy – Alexander Reade, who in no way makes you cheer for him with his misogynistic ideals from two centuries ago. Of course, there is insta-love because that is how it will go, even though there is a really cute living guy called Joe who would be more suited to her. Of course, there is angst in the form of I’m-dead-you’re-alive and the ghost of the ghost’s ex love. Isobel is a vengeful spirit who is a ghostly personification of a 10 year old – she swings from alluring to vengeful to adoring in a matter of seconds.

Okay, rant over. Now, what I liked – Chloe. No really, she was a step up from Adornetto’s last heroine. At least this one is not ready to let a guy walk all over her and go, but yeah, a little less angst would have made her character more likeable. I liked how she was in general- sarcastic, witty and confident, just not the whiny mess around Alex. It’s not even that she can’t interact with guys – she is fine around Joe. I don’t even get why we are we supposed to root for Chloe and Alex. We know she is smart because she doesn’t go directly after a ghost that is out for her blood. In fact, I liked the book in the start. Mid-way, I was rolling my eyes at nearly every page because the chessiness was dripping off the pages. I found it perfect until Chapter 27, too – it closed off really well, and the climax would have worked into a standalone perfectly. I was hopeful that it would just leave it there, but alas, it has to be a series so on the last line of the last chapter is a bombshell (which I was hoping wouldn’t come and came anyway) which is supposed to leave us wanting for the next book but just leaves me thinking – how the hell could that happen?

About the writing, I am on the fence – the descriptions and style seems good but the progression and dialogues seem stilted. In terms of setting, I felt Halo had a better structure than Ghost House. Quite many things are unexplained and there are plot holes, which I would rather not start enumerating. Overall, an okay sort of book, but could do with a little more of the horror.

Received an ARC from Harlequin TEEN via Netgalley, for an honest review

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Oh, and since the book trailer was released two days ago, I though I might include that as well in the review.

Chilling, right? Wish the book was half as much interesting as the trailer. Also, none of the scenes in the trailer actually happened in the book.

Cassandra Clare shares first ‘The Last Hours’ snippet

Originally posted on TMI Source:

imageThe Last Hours – Cassandra Clare’s fourth series set in the Shadowhunter universe – is still a few years away, but nevertheless Cassie has released a first snippet on her tumblr:

Matthew held out his hands. “Pax,” he said, wheedlingly. “Let it be peace between us. You can pour the rest of the port on my head.”

James’ mouth curved up into a smile. It was impossible to stay angry with Matthew. It was almost impossible to get angry at Matthew.

Cassie also briefly talked about Matthew, Charlotte and Henry’s second son:

Lucie adores Matthew. He’s her brother’s parabatai. Everyone loves Matthew. He’s one of those people.

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Meet J.K. Rowling’s New Harry Potter Character



Originally posted on TIME:

J.K. Rowling unveiled a new character in the Harry Potter universe Monday, and she’s a stylish songstress who just happens to be Ron Weasley’s mom’s favorite singer.

Celestina Warbeck has never been seen in the flesh in any of the seven Harry Potter books, but Rowling wrote a new story about her excerpted on and released in full on Here’s a hint about Warbeck’s humble half-Muggle origins and her blockbuster music career:

Internationally-acclaimed singing sensation Celestina Warbeck (sometimes known as ‘the Singing Sorceress’) hails from Wales. Her father, a minor functionary in the Muggle Liaison Office, met her Muggle mother (a failed actress) when the latter was attacked by a Lethifold disguised as a stage curtain…

Some of Celestina’s best-known songs include You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me and A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love. Her fans are usually older people who love her grandstanding…

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Review: Flawed

Flawed by J.L. Spelbring

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a world where Hitler won the The War, and perfection is constantly sought, Ellyssa has broken free from her austere life and has found another meaning for her existence.

Family, friendship, and love.

But her happiness is short lived. Ellyssa finds herself on the run, again. Her father’s work didn’t die with him, but lives on in her siblings, Aalexis and Xaver, and they are determined to complete his unfinished dream.

All that potential of a racism-influenced dystopia, all of it wasted on a love story. That is what disappointed me the most about Flawed. There is this brilliant concept of a world governed by a person’s genetics and how it can be taught to be accepting and the plot is more focused on the love scenes between the protagonist Ellyssa and her movie boyfriend Rein. When thinking about the emotional awakening of conditioned soldiers, I would think empathy is a more useful emotion than love, but yeah – all YA has to be focused on love, right? Atleast Perfection had focused on Ellyssa forgetting her conditioning and joining the Renegades but Flawed was a poor rehash of Perfection. Simply put, Flawed suffers from the Sequel Syndrome – can’t live up to the potential of the first.

The writing was good but can’t sustain a plot that focuses on how hot the guys are. We get – they are the ‘perfect’ specimens, blah blah. Xaver is a sociopathic romantic – we get it! Rein is hot as Sam Winchester – we get it! Can we just move on to the actual story? Honestly, the start of the book was a snoozefest and I lost interest in Ellyssa POV pretty soon. Aalexis and Mathew gave a good narrative and honestly, it was more interesting through their eyes. In a book where there is a freaking containment camp, how can oodles of pages be devoted to the lovefest going on? I get that every dystopian book is avoiding trying to be the next Hunger Games, but incorporating romance in a dystopia is a pretty silly concept. Delirium did it right – well, that was basically the main plot point there – but here? Nah, just don’t go there in a dystopia. Nobody cares how soulful the person’s eyes are and how many times your midsection quivers (I got pretty sick of that line too – takes me to Romance novel territory) when there are PEOPLE DYING! Love in the face of death is an okay concept but not practical for a rebellion-themed book.

Most of the review seems like a rant because that’s what I really want to do. I left the book halfway, started another one, finished it and then came back to this – I was that frustrated to read it in one go. It got better in the second half, when things actually started HAPPENING, but by then my brain was fried. Xaver and Aalexis were a more interesting couple than Ellyssa and Rein and when you start cheering for the antagonists’ romance, man, that’s rough. Another bullet dodged was the almost-love-triangle (though I am not sure whether to call it almost – it was there and then kinda resolved a few chapters later?) but when you look at Ellyssa’s perspective, it feels like it is there? She herself says that she doesn’t like another girl making eyes at Woody so I am not sure whether to call it an almost love triangle or not. Even Rein is a one-dimensional character – he is the movie girlfriend who just keeps getting caught in the villian’s clutches and has to be saved by the heroine. I mean, seriously, that happened in the last book too.

The take-away message is – skip this installment and go to the next (whichever is coming because the story isn’t close to being over) because honestly, it doesn’t do much advancement in plot besides humanizing the antagonists and introducing yet another Renegade camp. Below 3 for this one, and even that is mostly because of Aalexis and Mathew.

Received an ARC from Spencer Hill Press via Netgalley for review purposes. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book or the comments in my review

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ARC Review: The Perfectionists

The Perfectionists
The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release date: October 7, 2014

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

First thing you need to know about this book – it is a Pretty Little Liars-rehash. No, seriously, the basic premise is the same – five girls implicated in a secret in a posh suburban town, where people keep dying like annual flowers and the male population is interested in underage girls. Having said that, I would also like to point out – it is better than PLL. I would go further in saying that Shepard outdid herself with this one. I had read her other new series – The Heiresses (which was PLL in adult fiction) and that one disappointed me a bit with the predictability.

So, PLL 2.0 (yes, I just had to get that in) starts off in Beacon Hills Heights – where there are these five different girls who have each been tormented by the murder victim – Nolan – and plot his demise. They don’t carry it out, of course, (actually I don’t trust that – I have my doubts about Parker but we’ll get to that later) but he actually turns up dead! Le gasp! Now, naturally these little liars girls feel guilty because he died right after they played a harmless prank on him (Jenna, anyone?) and how can they go to the police because they will look oh-so-guilty! So, being a Sara Shepard novel, they go about their regular lives and try to find out who murdered him.

The characters in this series are definitely more diverse than of other Shepard books. The girls are all seemingly perfect with flaws underneath. Parker is a scarred PTSD-suffering survivor of parental abuse and while my heart bleeds for her, her memory is a mystery and therefore she seems fishy. Ava is the girl who is slut-shamed just because she actually got good while Mac was a notch in Nolan’s belt. Caitlin blames Nolan for the death of her younger brother whom he had bullied very much. Julie is just hurt on behalf of Parker. Basically, Nolan is the male version of Alison DiLaurentis, get it?

Romantic entanglements – no Shepard book would be without at least one girl cheating on her boyfriend or getting involved with a taken guy. Mac has had a crush on her ‘best’ friend’s boyfriend since forever, Caitlin is starting to like her boyfriend’s sensitive younger brother, Julie wants to have a normal relationship while dealing with a stalker and Ava just wants a peaceful existence. I was very happy with how positively their friendships were shown – none of the girls have the slightest trouble with each other, even though they just became friends weeks ago. They also accept each other’s flaws with a great deal of understanding – and more importantly, without any judgement. About ships, well, I really ship Parker and Julie – they are the poster childs for BFFs – the way they protect each other.

Yes, Shepard has one formula – secrets in a group of girfriends – and currently that seems to work well for her. Do I love it? Yes. I can’t get enough of her books. Her writing style is quite addictive – it may not keep you at-the-edge-of-your-seat-anxious but it definitely makes you go where-is-the-next-book. I would give this a 3.5.

Received an ARC from HarperCollins via Edelweiss, which in no way affected my opinions in this review

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