Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Tour: Deuce - Janine Caldwell


Deuce
Janine Caldwell
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Publication Date: 2014
On Goodreads

About the book:

The epic conclusion to The Vortex Series coming soon!

In an instant everything changes for seventeen-year-old Cassie Moore. Together she and her time-traveling boyfriend, Trent Astor, battle to survive their next impossible challenge. As they navigate through a third parallel world in which Cassie begged Trent to create for her, the two soon discover that no world can be made perfect.

And while they fight through their new circumstances, the universe may just have its own agenda for them both.

With DEUCE, the 3rd and final book of The Vortex Series, Janine Caldwell combines fantasy and romance to create a compelling love story of integrity and sacrifice.



Excerpt:

      A cyclone, a black hole, and an earthquake of epic proportion. Add to that my shock, and, well, I’ve pretty much summed up the hell I unwillingly experienced. There I am one moment, ecstatically kissing my boyfriend, imagining all is right again in my world, and the next I’m whirling in the dark, gasping for air, while an invisible giant hand squeezes the bejeezus out of me.
      “They’re not daydreams, they’re flashes!” Those were the last chilling words Trent screamed at me and . . . Poof! Gone in a blink is the boy I love. Ripped from my hands before I could ask him why his eyes were flashing with terror in the middle of our sweet reunion. My body, previously rooted outside my tennis club’s locker room, was hijacked and thrown into a horrific virtual roller coaster. Death, I thought surely, was the only possible outcome.
      Is that torture a sampling of traveling through time? Because, as insane as the idea is, I think that’s precisely what happened. I jumped time.
      But how could that be? I’m not a time traveler. That burden falls on Trent. Has his supernatural power suddenly become contagious, like mono? That would be just my luck. Or maybe he somehow accidentally transported me along with him. It’s never been done before, but I guess there’s a first for everything. Although it does defy everything we know about his powers.
      Afraid to open my eyes, I grope around me, hopeful that Trent’s body is near and waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, I only come up with handful of dirt, fingering objects that resemble sharp, dry needles.
      “Trent?” I croak. “Are you here?”
      Silence.
      My mind races through questions as fast as my heartbeat. Where am I? Am I alone? What exactly has happened to me?
      Ready to at least face wherever it is I am, I attempt to crack open my eyes. They begin to water immediately, blurring from dizziness. The world rocks around me. Moaning, I reach for my head and tuck into a ball, willing the spinning to stop. I can’t think. All I can do is breathe. The deeper I fill my lungs, I learn, the better the recovery. The cool, heavy air smells like pine and damp woods, which is both soothing and terrifying.
      Slowly, with careful movements, I manage to shift around onto my hands and knees. I think it’s progress, but before I can choke it back, I vomit. When that wave of nausea ends, another comes charging through me. I vomit again and again, ejecting my insides like someone being exorcised. My muscles from feet to neck are clenched tight, aching with the slightest movement.
      After one last exhausting cough, my stomach calms down. The dizziness ends as well. I chance opening my eyes, and this time I’m able to keep them open, a sense of being more steady and grounded to the earth resonating through me. Sinking back onto my heels, I take in the scenery. I’m awestruck by the view of a grand forest. It’s very green and heavily wooded. Diagonal beams of light filter through an array of giant spruce, redwood, and pine trees, warming my face and highlighting the layer of mulch I polluted with my filth.
      I’m stunned, petrified that I really did travel to some other place. My gaze roams around me, still clinging to the hope of finding Trent, but as far as I can tell, I’m all alone. My throat tightens at the thought—alone in a mature, wild forest. God only knows what year it is or for what purpose I’ve been sent here.
      Wow, am I sincerely debating what year it is? I have so lost it. Never in my wildest imagination could I foresee something this insane happening to me. But as I take another gander at my current setting, I can’t deny I’m no longer home in Pleasanton, California.
      Although there’s nothing left in my stomach, it doesn’t stop me from a surge of nausea at the harsh reality of my situation. All I want to do is huddle back into a ball until I can wake up from this nightmare. A sob escapes my mouth, echoing into the vast forest before it’s swallowed up by thick layers of bark. Tears threaten to fall until I sniff and force them to retreat.
      No! This blubbering has to stop. There’s no point in feeling sorry for myself. Wallowing in self-pity will not get me home any faster. That’s right. Get up and do something, Cassie. Don’t wait for someone else to rescue you, because this time it looks like you’re on your own.
      I take a moment to regroup, coaxing strength to arise in me. I consider everything I’ve learned about time traveling. If my instincts are correct and I can make sense of all this, I have to start accepting the facts. Somehow I’ve miraculously become a time traveler like Trent. A flyer through time. How this happened is a question to debate later. But understanding this much means I’m probably the only one who can get myself home. Me. To play this game and win, a mission has to be met before I’ll be given a ticket back to the present. It’s the only way.
      Freshly determined, I straighten my spine, eager to figure out this puzzle. In the next moment, an arctic breeze cuts through my skin, and I’m promptly reminded of what I’m wearing, or not wearing, as the case may be, for an adventure gallivanting through Sherwood Forest. My yellow tennis dress looks practically neon compared to the surrounding russet and emerald hues. It’s of little warmth and even less protection from lethal branches. By the angle of the sun and the increasing shadows, I can tell it’ll be dark soon, too. The notion causes me to involuntarily shudder.
      Using the aid of a nearby boulder, I claw my way to my feet. It’s an improvement from crawling on all fours, but I have Bambi legs, wobbly and feeble. With stiff fingers, I rub my bare arms and bump into Trent’s leather cuff, too big for my wrist. I forgot I had slid it on at the tennis match to show Trent that I remembered him. It seems suiting I would have it in my possession at the moment and certainly comforting to have a piece of him with me. The necklace he bought me for Christmas, regretfully, is tucked safely away in my locker back at the club.
      A tad more inspired by the bracelet, I trek through the forest at a pace my Grandma Bertie in her last days could’ve kept up with. Of course, I have no idea where I’m going. It’s trunks, leafy bushes, and speckled boulders as far as the eye can see. I’ve yet to find any sign of other people, which makes trying to save someone a real conundrum. And besides the occasional squawk followed by a fluttering of wings high up in the trees, there’s no sign of animals, either. I should probably be grateful for that, but the eerie silence is creeping me out. The isolation pricks at my nerves. I have zero supplies unless you count the extra hairband I have in my pocket, which I don’t. No food or water, no shelter. I can’t think about what I’ll do if I have to stay the night out here.
      As I roam, teeth chattering at the dropping temperature, I contemplate what Trent would do on one of his missions. Probably not wig out like me. I’m sure he’s above that by now, having years of completed missions under his belt, but, hey, this is my virgin jump, so I think I’ll give myself a break.
      Hmm . . . let me see. I suppose Trent would think back to his flashes. Yes, that’s it! He explained once these spontaneous, uncontrollable flashes are visions conjured from . . . well, I don’t know where they come from. From a supernatural force he can’t fully explain. A spiritual dimension of guides championing his missions, perhaps. These images play through his mind to give him clues of the victims he’s been summoned to save. As I told Trent, I thought I was only vividly daydreaming these last few weeks. Apparently not.
      Before I begin to pick through my brain for images that might help me figure out what I’m doing here, a lone wolf howls a hundred or so yards away. A second wolf howls until a chorus of haunting wails sends an icy chill through my bones.
      Come on! Seriously? Did it have to be wolves? It couldn’t have been a horde of gentle bunnies or a herd of harmless, grass-eating deer?
      I’m about to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction of the howling when a human scream pierces through the forest. With that scream reverberating through my mind, time stands still. Suddenly, I become hyperaware of my surroundings, as if I can hear the blood surging through my veins, sense the microscopic particles floating on my fingers, see the forest breathing in and out. Soon a flash of a panicked child in harm’s way burns through my brain, clear as water and impossible to forget.
      Got it. It’s no longer a question. As warm adrenaline courses through my veins, I’m reminded I’ve seen this kid before in what I thought were meaningless daydreams. An instinct planted somewhere deep in my core assures me I’ve been sent here for him.
      With no more time to ponder, I gallop, weaving through the thick brush. I am strength. I am power. Leaping over boulders, I swipe at any branch blocking my path as if I’ve been raised in the forest and know how to command my way through it. It’s easy to ignore the thrashing on my naked skin, distracted by the thousands of sharp tingles invading my nerve endings. It’s an odd sensation—like I have a fever, though moments ago I was shivering from the cold.
      When I reach a small clearing, I find a young boy, a raccoon hat on top of his head. My heart stops. He’s sitting on the ground with at least five sandy gray wolves snapping and circling him. He not only appears to be in horrible pain, but beyond terrified by these beasts inching closer. I can understand why. These wolves are not your fluffy Hollywood specimens, but real savages—scrappy, ravenous-looking. Backed up against a tree, the boy continues to pull at his bloody leg with desperation, but he can’t seem to free himself. It’s caught in something. A metal animal trap of some sort. In the meantime, his only weapon is a long branch he periodically strikes in the air, but it has little effect of scaring the wolves away.
      As I hunch down behind a patch of shrubbery, my heart caught in my throat, I rack my brain for what I’m supposed to do next. This is so beyond my expertise. I’m a high school tennis player, for Pete’s sake, not Davy Crockett. Think, Cassie! What would Trent do?
      I scan my surroundings, searching for anything that might help distract the wolves from wanting to gobble up this poor kid, but there’s nothing! Only rocks, spiky foliage, and a few dead, sap-spattered pinecones. I’m debating whether I should take off my tennis shoes to chuck at the beasts when I hear the boy scream in a way that makes my stomach lurch. It sounds like a wolf has moved in near enough to nip at him. If I don’t hurry up and do something, they may all attack him at once. There’ll be nothing to stop their eating frenzy at that point.
      Wait a minute. Rocks!
      I spring out from behind the shrubbery with my ammo, ready for battle. A primitive roar spews from a deep-rooted part of my spirit, drawing a couple wolves away from the boy. With superhuman strength, I launch the handful of rocks at them until I nail one between the eyes. It yelps and stumbles before shaking its head in a daze. This gets the rest of the pack’s attention. They reassemble, growling as they tentatively move away from the boy and face my direction.
      Oh, crap. This can’t be good.
      The wolves advance as one unit, creeping toward me, stalking me with their raised tails and hackles. Their orange irises are fixed directly on mine, appearing as feral as their unruly coats. Their razor-edged teeth are bared, columns of foamy drool spilling out of the corners of their black gums.
      A fit of trembling wreaks my body, my mouth as dry as the dusty forest floor. Way to go, genius. What’s your next brilliant step? Sure, you prevented the boy from being attacked, but by way of offering your own flesh for them to feed on. Nice. Some time traveler you are. One mission and you’re already finished!
      I’ve lived through a few nail biters—being held at gunpoint by a lunatic scientist and plummeting to my most certain death in a hot-air balloon mishap, for example—but at the moment, feasted on by wolves is ranking up there as the most horrifying. The pack has moved in dangerously close, growling at me from deep within their chests. They’re pushing me back out of the clearing, cornering me against the same dense patch of shrubbery I was hiding behind. In another second, my plan is to turn around and sprint like an Olympian track star, but I’m already doubtful I can outrun them. They’ve got to be familiar with every nook and hollow in this blasted forest. There’s nowhere I can hide they won’t track my human scent.
      As I continue to cautiously step backward, one eye steady on the wolves, my foot catches on a root. I trip and land on my backside with a painful thud. So much for running. My vulnerable position excites the wolves. They look moments from pouncing, leaning back in their haunches, licking their chops at their easy prey. A scream escapes from my lungs.
      I’m sorry, Trent. I really did try. I love you.

Purchase links:

About the author:

Janine Caldwell was born in Concord, CA and raised in the small San Francisco Bay Area town of Clayton. Four days after high school graduation, Janine attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and graduated with a degree in English. Janine now lives in Anthem, AZ with her husband and two sons. As a lifelong literature fanatic, she knew it was only a matter of time before she would become obsessed with writing her own work. With relatives like the Brothers Grimm and Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), she figured fantasy writing had to be in her DNA.

Books published by Janine include Visited, a YA coming-of-age fantasy, Rematch and Double Fault–the first two books of The Vortex Series. The final book in this YA fantasy romance, Deuce, will be released soon.

Author links:

Giveaway:

Prize: 10 ebooks of Deuce (via smashwords coupon) (INT)

RULES AND RESTRICTIONS: Contest is void where prohibited. Entrants must be 13 or else have parent or guardian’s permission to enter. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner’s name will be selected. Winning entries will be verified for authenticity.

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Tour hosted by:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: Double Fault - Janine Caldwell

Double Fault
Janine Caldwell
Series: Vortex Series, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Whiny but bearable
On Goodreads

If you missed my last review, it was for the first book in this series, Rematch, and you should check it out before you read this one if you want to see how the two books compare.

So Double Fault was definitely better than Rematch but I still had a few problems with it, some of which carried over from the last book. The biggest issue for me was the writing itself.

I found it hard to find any significant differentiation between Trent's narration and Cassie's. I think if an author is going to have more than one narrator, there should be a noticeable difference in the way they tell their stories. I also thought at first it wasn't completely necessary to have more than one narrator, although I understood why it worked later in the book, so that isn't a qualm against Janine Caldwell, just an observation. However, like I said, the narration all sounded the same to me. Some chapters I would even get confused as to who was supposed to be speaking and assume it was one of them when in actuality it was the other. This threw me off sometimes and broke up my flow of reading.

Another problem I had with the writing was that there was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing. Most of the plot points and descriptions were given in explicit terms of either Cassie or Trent saying "This is happening. Now this is happening. Now this person is doing this." I didn't feel engrossed in the world of the book, I felt like I was just a spectator in a separate reality. It took a lot away from what otherwise could have had so much more potential.

Speaking of separate realities, that was one thing I did really like about this book. Janine Caldwell's story was very interesting and it kept me pretty entertained learning about how Cassie's life would have been different and how messing with time is more dangerous than meets the eye. I wish I could say more without spoiling it, but the plot is definitely what kept me reading, especially when I got annoyed with the characters, who seemed to be flat and boring at times. I really wish she had focused more on Lorelai, who is definitely my favorite character.

Overall, the book fell short in a lot of places, but I can see that Janine Caldwell has a lot of potential as an author and I look forward to seeing how she improves in the future.


- Noor

What one event from your past would you change and why?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Tour Review: The Polaris Uprising - Jennifer Ibarra


The Polaris Uprising
Jennifer Ibarra
Series: Polaris, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: adfsasdf
On Goodreads

About the book:

In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.

Review:

IT'S FROZEN. IT IS. SERIOUSLY. BUT GRUNGIER AND FOR YA. PRAISE POSEIDON. HALLELUJAH.

Ahem.

First of all. Conventional YA Love Culture is wrecked. Remember how we all thought Hans was the next Flynn? (If you haven't watched Frozen, I don't know what you're doing with your life.) Well, in the same respect, the usual love culture is built up and then Ibarra spends the rest of the novel demolishing it. No stupid stupid love triangle. Even though the novel is actually centered around having relationships chosen for you, and the sisters in question are the President's daughters. Lots of room for risque love situations that would appeal to the casual YA reader. However, Ibara takes the wonderful path of emphasizing and empowering the relationship between sisters Ryla and Alanna instead. The Polaris Uprising tells both their stories, side by side. If you took the time to read the description above, you'll notice that Ryla's love is drenched in her sister. Even when she becomes a bit friendly with Tyson, all she ever thinks about is her sister. It's awesome. I love it. I'm excited. Get excited, people.

And therein lies my second favorite part of this novel. The characterization and conflict between Alanna and Ryla is at once emotionally taxing and extremely wonderful. Though I dislike that Alanna simply rolls with it, I can see the intricacy of the social and psychological hold that she feels towards her father.

Most of the characterization is extremely fluid, exemplified by a bit of witty dialogue that reveals parts of Ryla:
"Ryla grinned and looked over at her father. 'I assure you my reputation is much exaggerated.'
'I'm sorry to hear that. He only had good things to say.'
'Well, in that case, it's all true.'"
Ryla isn't afraid of her father and in contrast to Alanna, has a much easier time speaking and joking in front of their father, even if it can be slightly restrained. She is portrayed to be brainwashed like her sister Ibarra wastes no time refuting that pretense. The Hunger Games-esque tension that resides in the subtle things that are not allowed and the history (you know, since the war everything is perfect) provide that stark contrast for Ryla. She should fit in with the crowd, she should not care about free will. But she seems to have inclinations otherwise and that's what allows the story to take off.

At other times, the novel is not as fluid . . . for example, it's a bit slow to pick up at the start. Once the information starts to seep through, and the twists start taking the story new places . . . you figure out how horrible and cruel this dystopia is and the novel begins to come together. Unfortunately, since there's so much to tell, there are a few passive passages where the scene is sacrificed for the sake of information. Which, to be fair, I didn't notice because it only bifurcates the transitory scenes. An early example is:
"Growing up, Alanna and Ryla had always been able to do as they pleased in that area . . . Even as a young girl, Alanna could always be counted on to be on her very best behavior. Ryla, on the other hand . . . "
This little snippet allows the scene to transition from the banquet thoughts and the President's office. It also follows a bit of dialogue that ends in Ryla's hesitance and mild annoyance at the upcoming banquet.

(I'm on such a good reading streak.)

Another thing about characters (sorry, am I a broken record? characters are so important in this novel damnit): even the secondary characters are influential. Ryla and Alanna may be in the spotlight but that doesn't make everyone else incidental. People live actual lives outside of Ryla's coming of age and Alanna's expositions.

I mean there were scenes but I don't want to spoil the well-constructed plot! I can just say that I was constantly holding my breath and refusing to trust anything. Even the wedding. And the suspects of the assassination. Nothing is real.

Also that cliffhanger. What the actual Hades. I didn't even know how to breathe after, or if I was allowed to breathe.

- Marlon

Purchase links:

About the author:

Jennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.

She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.


Author links:

Giveaway:

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Tour hosted by:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Tour Review: Just Like a Musical - Milena Veen


Just Like a Musical
Milena Veen
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Charming
On GoodreadsAmazon

About the book:

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Fields has always lived by the rules set up by her foolishly overprotective mother. As a result, she doesn't go to school, she's never been kissed, and almost everything she knows about life is what she has learned from old movies.

But now...now there's this Joshua guy. He's quirky, and he's tall, and he uses “romantic” and “old-fashioned” in the same sentence.

And there's Mrs. Wheeler, an eccentric retired Hollywood costume designer and Ruby's new best friend.

When Mrs. Wheeler ends up in hospital, just after telling Ruby her long-kept secret, Ruby decides to break her mother's rules and embark on a journey that will change her life forever.

Review:

Okay seriously just go buy this book right now. It's so so good. Have you ever been charmed by a book? That's what Milena Veen has done here. I was hooked from this:
" . . . her long, skinny arms keeping her straw hat from falling off her hat. I was instantly attracted to her. I know it sounds silly; she was just an old lady in a Charleton dress . . . "
Veen tricked me into thinking this book would start off with insta-love and the weather. And it did! Just, not the way that I would have guessed. And I think that summarizes the book quite well. It's not what you think and it's not really ever what you think it's going to be. After that point I was waiting for the twists and turns and I was not disappointed. Ruby and everyone around her are full of enough quirks to keep even the most ordinarily situations quite beautifully startling: there's Ruby and her movies, there's that neighbor who has old dresses belonging to movie stars (you know Ruby is going to love that!), the side of the overprotective mother that you sympathize with. Especially that last one. Usually an author will only hint at that side, fearing that it detracts from the story or the image that needs to be portrayed of that character. But holy hell Veen does an amazing job showing the exact pull and push relationship between a child and such a parent.

And that leads me to the characters. I love them. They're not two dimensional or unlikable. Ruby is relateable, a teenager with a powerful imagination being trapped and restricted. That's familiar. Joshua's Tourrette's making him socially impaired to a degree but, more importantly, not consuming the entirety of his character. Etc, etc, etc.

Leading off of that is the writing itself. It's charming, as I said, but it can also be a bit clunky. I wouldn't dwell too much on it because it is self published and hasn't gone through high-grade proofreading. Just be warned a couple of lines of dialogue will seem outlandish, but that's it for the most part. This issue is wholly drowned out by what I've written above and by the fact that the plot is quite brilliant. For a two hundred page novel, it doesn't waste any time in rushing along. As soon as I was getting into the story, it took off. There is a bit of suspense but don't count on it, the book seems to be written as an exploration rather than a pure adventure. Therefore, the social interactions that Ruby has post-runaway at once explore her growth as a sheltered child and further, explore parenting and how harmful it can be.

One of my favortie parts of this book is the overarching thread of humor. The stumbles and pains that adolescence brings, especially with someone as sheltered as Ruby, are spilled throughout the pages of this book, but each and everyone is industriously presented with humor. And that's difficult to do. Yet Veen just makes it seemless. I find it hard not to relate to a newer John Green novel.

And holy wit, by the end of the book, Ruby's mental development has blossomed enough to leave us with this gem:
"And then it came to me – a thought so clear that I was surprised I hadn't realized it before: freedom is not someplace outside you, hidden at the end of the winding road where magical things happen and where people all of a sudden become wise and fulfilled. You don't travel three thousand miles to find it. Freedom lies inside you. Like some delicate fruit . . . if you don't open your eyes . . . it will never get ripe."
Just go. Now. Read. Purchase. Do it.

- Marlon

About the author:


Milena Veen was born in Belgrade, Serbia. Her first piece of writing, a poem about a walking cherry, saw the light of the day when she was seven. She's been writing ever since.

Milena graduated from University of Belgrade with a degree in psychology. She lives in a little European town with her husband and a mute cat. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading, riding her bicycle, and listening to music. She prefers clouds to sunshine and coffee to tea.


Author links:

Giveaway:

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Tour hosted by:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Rematch - Janine Caldwell

Rematch
Janine Caldwell
Series: Vortex Series, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, SciFi
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Excerpt from a Preteen's Journal
On Goodreads

Hey, everyone! I'm reading the Vortex series as part of a book tour and when I read what this book was about, I was so excited to get to read it. Rematch switches between the point of view of Trent Astor, who can jump through time, and Cassie Moore, a girl Trent was supposed to save on a mission that went askew. The premise was so promising, but when I read the book, I thought it fell a bit short of what it could have been.

My main qualm is the writing. I know it's supposed to be from the point of view of 18 year olds, but they sound more like preteens whining in their journals. Both of them. Even though Cassie and Trent are pretty different, they both sound exactly the same in their narration and I found myself getting confused about who was speaking every so often. This wouldn't be as bad if the writing itself didn't sound so juvenile but it did. I felt myself getting so annoyed with Cassie and her internal ramblings. I also thought the way she described people was kindof bland -- she mostly just listed attributes. She describes her best friend Kelli as "a petite bomb shell with a pug nose and squinty alluring eyes that have most guys drooling in her general direction." I don't know about you, but a pug nose and squinty eyes in't really a description I would use for someone attractive. She also spends an excessively long time talking about Ally Carter and her boobs and how
"She confidently parades her tan long legs and voluptuous body around like a woman in her twenties. She's like a supermodel with perfectly blown hair in just the right shades of blonde, seductive eyes, full pouty lips and then... there's her bust size. Ugh."
Honestly, the book is just full of subpar dialogue and rambling internal monologues that make it really hard to keep reading.

I also didn't think the supporting characters had any sort of depth to them. Cassie's (ex)boyfriend Jeff was a typical jock. Kelli didn't really do anything except act as a person for Cassie to have conversations with. Everyone except Trent, Cassie, and to an extent, Lorelai, blended into the background and just seemed very static and unnecessary.

Even though I really didn't like the writing style and thought it needed major improvement, the plot of the story kept me going. The stuff about the vortexes and Trent's time travelling abilities was pretty interesting, and I liked how most of the plot played out.

Overall, even though this book wasn't the greatest thing I've ever read, I'm hoping for some improvements in the second book so stay tuned for a review of that next week!

- Noor

If you could travel in time,where and when would you go?
Let us know in the comments!

Review: Darkness and Light - Elle Casey

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Darkness and Light
Elle Casey
Series: War of the Fae, #3
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Oh Gods, Hilarious
On Goodreads

Awesome. Generally, well done, Elle Casey. The best parts of the past two novels were been amped to new heights.

The drama flew through the roof. Jayne's powers are growing and the demand on her is insane. What I really loved about Call to Arms was the intricacy of the plot and how issues were placed against issues and desires were placed against desires to create a world that did not adhere to a strict and typical diet of 'paranormal young adult fantasy'. Jayne is still cracking jokes, is still cursing, is still making stupid decisions, is still relateable, still has ulterior motives, still is Jayne. The drama does change her of course, but she only becomes more erratic. As a reactive rather than passive character, Jayne must have these changes but her foundation is still there. I like that. The development is strong (especially when Jayne starts to develop and nourish her disinclination for the War and the Fae, which had been growing in Call to Arms).

Tony, Tony, Tony.
"But if I had to choose between them and Tony? It would be Tony every day of the week and twice on Sunday."
But the development isn't just strong with Jayne. The more cruel characters of this book (plot twists . . . so no names, sorry!) have been fleshed out, too. We know their motives and can sympathize.

Also, Ben? His 'kill you, love you' attitude was . . . weird in a cool way. He was mental, seriously mental. I thought he was a cool little shout out to the physical craziness that inhabits the Fae world.

Also the situations with Tim have become exponentially funnier. I needn't explain this, go see for yourself! Anytime Jayne and Tim were in the room

I like to think I looked like Tom Hiddleston when I laughed during this book (which was every page):



Unfortunately, the love triangle just has to develop. I had loved this quality in the past two books: relationships were hinted not just for the sake of the plot line of building characters but because in stressful situations a cocktail of hormones necessitated it. So I was thankful that insta-love culture and love triangles were, for the most part, not central to the text. Thankfully, Darkness and Light tamps the potential of the love interest influence down with Jayne's decisions and the fact that people are in constant danger of dying . . . or worse. Still, having the love triangle at all leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, because while I like the fact that Jayne is off with Spike, showing the realistic way some people act, I want Chase to 'get the girl'. He deserves to 'get the girl'. For fricks sake, he got himself cursed for her. He could have died. Twice. What did Spike do? Well, he kissed her a bunch of times. He was hot. Let's not talk about, you know, getting all incubus on her. And I shouldn't have to want Chase to 'win' because people are not objects, relationships do not develop solely on who deserves whom. And, Dear Agony, because I'm so tired of love triangles.

Also, a bit heavy on the fart jokes.

Another slight complaint I have is this: fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times and it's a frowny face. This one: :(. The abrupt ending of the first book didn't bother me at all (I had Call to Arms ready and waiting). The abrupt ending raised my eyebrow but it was cliff-hangery enough to let it off the hook. However this just sort of ends . . . mid-scene. Come on!


Overall, though, more than four stars. Can't wait to get to Book # 4! Let's do this!

- Marlon

Can you handle life without your best friend?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Tour Review: Reaper's Rhythm - Clare Davidson


Reaper's Rhythm
Clare Davidson
Series: Hidden, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Interesting
On Goodreads

About the book:

When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered. Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger. The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.

Review:

To say that Reaper’s Rhythm starts with a bang is a bit of an understatement – the very first scene in this book is one that grips the reader’s attention, forcing you to have so many questions about what happened and what will happen next. The opening follows Kim as she gets home a little while after her older sister, Charley, to find that she committed suicide. As she frantically runs down the stairs to call for help, a mysterious boy appears and makes her pass out. When she wakes up, she has no recollection of finding her sister or the boy who was there.

As it is a paranormal, the reader expects there is some sort of magic at play, but Kim doesn’t know any better. For a large part of the book Kim is simply adjusting to the lose of her sister rather than learning of anything mystical or magical – in fact, I’d say that the first half of the book reads more like a contemporary with that looming threat of something paranormal taking a backseat to the psychological affect of death on Kim. The way Kim’s story follows so much of her adjusting to the loss of her sister and trying to cope really helped build Kim as a character, showing a young girl who can’t cope with and accept her sister’s suicide at face value. Of course, she was right about something magical at play but it’s still an interesting view of people in denial.

Although the psychological journey of Kim in the first half of the book is very interested and made me enjoy her point of view a lot more, it was a very slow paced development. As a reader who knows something funky is going on in the background, I just wanted to find out more. Since Kim’s character development takes priority, not much of the paranormal things are allowed through and it was a long time before there seemed to be anything plot moving. It seemed as though I had to wait almost 20% between each new development while Kim continued to whine to people how her sister surely could not have killed herself. But, as I said before, Kim’s development throughout this was worthwhile, despite having taken priority over the plot development.

The dynamic between Kim and the other characters is very much that she can’t get past her sister’s death and everyone else is getting annoyed with her. The great thing about Kim is that she is very true to herself throughout his – despite how often she’s getting no as an answer and hitting more obstacles, she still searches for answers. She doesn’t care who thinks she’s crazy so long as she can find some sort of information from someone else. At the same time, there is a na├»ve side to Kim – she is very trusting of others and doesn’t always see their ulterior motives. Clare Davidson did a wonderful job seeing into the mind of a 16-year-old girl facing a great lose.

While Kim definitely takes the leading role in Reaper’s Rhythm, the secondary characters definitely add something to the story as a whole. From Matthew, a character that makes us wonder what exactly is going on, to Kevin, a new friend who surely must have a hidden agenda, to Tia, a disgruntled ex-friend of Charley’s, to Gage, a guy who just seems too nice for anyone’s good - Reaper’s Rhythm has a pretty well rounded out cast of characters. All of these characters had something they were hiding and it was interesting to explore how Kim interacted with them and found out what was going on little by little.

Overall I really enjoyed Reaper’s Rhythm – I felt the characters were very well developed and the idea behind the magical element was a great new twist on an old concept. I also liked how this book took place in modern England, something I’ve never read before. It was interesting to learn more about the educational system in England, as I had no prior knowledge, and to sort through all the British slang. Reaper’s Rhythm is a book I’d definitely recommend to someone who enjoys a character’s journey and growth just as much as an interesting paranormal twist.

- Kiersten

Purchase Links:

About the author:

Clare Davidson is a character driven fantasy writer, teacher and mother, from the UK. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter and a cranky grey cat, called Ash. Clare juggles family life with writing, teaching and a variety of fibre craft hobbies.


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Tour hosted by:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: The Pretty One - Cheryl Klam

The Pretty One
Cheryl Klam
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Bland
On Goodreads

Hello hello! Today, because of my shocking lack of ability to get to a new book (lets blame finals shall we), I have decided to review a book I read a little while ago.

The Pretty One centers around a girl named Megan, who is chubby and lives in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Lucy, who is the darling of the school. Sounds alright so far right?

So then Megan (after hearing Lucy criticize her looks) runs into the street and gets run over by a car. LOL, what. Then, miraculously, after a year, she comes back to school after lots of facial reconstruction surgery and forced weight loss, she's prettier than her older sister!! (Isn't beauty a subjective thing, rather than objective?) Here is one of my major annoyances with the story. It treats beauty like it is one, definitively objective thing -- this just serves to ruin self esteem for people everywhere, not only young, chubby, Megan-aged women such as myself. I take this moment to remind anyone who is reading this that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and that Megan's chubbiness did not make her ugly just in the same way that her new found weight loss did not make her beautiful.

Although it is almost impossible to get over that wtf body shaming aspect of this book, there is the flaw of the main characters. Megan is positively annoying. She spends time wondering if it's alright to say "hi" back to someone who says hello to her. She ponders the blueness of blue eyes. She wonders if boys are just all turning their heads and falling for this newfound, surgery given beauty or whether they have loved her personality from the very start. It's almost impossible to like this character. I find characters with low self esteem to be interesting and often insightful, but Megan was worse than a low self esteem, as her entire personality was consumed by her doubtful demeanor and complete lack of understanding of beauty.

Klam also kept bringing up Lucy, as though her little sister now being "wow so much prettier than she is" (it's not a real quote from the book but it might as well be), trying to make us sympathize with her. If anything, wasn't she complaining about her ugly duckling sister that got her into the accident which made her so beautiful in the first place? Also, doctors don't even change the look of your face in those type of accidents so I'm not totally sure what kind of random metamorphosis Klam tried to explain.

The beginning of the novel had so many wtf moments and poor writing that I could not deal. While the ending was written much better than the first half, the story ended much too quickly and tried to hit like 18 birds with one stone in just that one concluding scene. The ending is weird and seemed to be thrown hastily together, neither of which are cool by me.

Another note. Beauty never makes someone popular as it did for Megan in this book -- neither does it bless them with acting ability or the ability to draw in like tons of different love interests all in the span of a few weeks. This book places too much emphasis on one set, restricted definition of beauty, and all in all, it made me dislike the book even more than I already did. The rating given is for the writing and plot of the story, but if my thoughts on beauty and perception were to be accounted for, this book would probably rank as a 0.5-1. Would not recommend.

- Amrutha

How do you feel about objectively defining beauty in novels?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Call to Arms - Elle Casey

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Call to Arms
Elle Casey
Series: War of the Fae, #2
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Easy
On Goodreads

After a bit of rehashing and reflection that Jayne does in the beginning, our story begins.


Tony's gone, Jayne's fae race is mysterious, and Casey allows us glimpses of the Dark Fae and what may take place in the war to come. See, Jayne might be what is vaguely referred to as an Elemental, possibly of Earth and maybe, just maybe, of Water. But the Dark Fae have a Fire Elemental.

What I love about Call to Arms is the intricacy of the issues at hand. It follows the apparent structure (at least in the beginning) of the fantasy action sequel: the mysteries of the main character start to be divulged; the stakes are raised; conflicts of interest and of potential are introduced to further complicate things . . . you get the point. However, the underlying factors are what keep me reading. The structure of the books is particularly deceiving in that the apparent conflicts exist as they should in the typical novel of its kind, but one or two things throw it off enough to make my predictions crumble. Especially around the end of the first half of the book . ..  all the things that make Jayne the apparent typical protagonist make her dangerous as well.

It's rather rare, I suppose, nowadays to see a sequel that does a good job of not only entertaining the ideas of the first book but expanding on them, making everything go absolutely bollocks. This is where the stupid love interests should be, this is where the bad decisions should be made, this is where all the crazy gets crazier and doesn't just repeat the first book or reject it. *Cough cough The Matrix cough cough*.

Harry and Voldemort have to face off. The Ring's got to be taken to Mordor. But how? That's what gets us as readers and Casey does an excellent job of designing the 'how' around her characters individual interests. For instance, Jayne's desire to be extraordinary is deeply embedded into who she is and how she acts.

When she's told she might be an elemental, a part of me backed off and thought, well damn, this might just turn out like I predicted. But then there was the added dilemma of Jayne being either weak towards the Dark Fae Elemental or, if the Water affinity turned out to be correct, strong towards the Dark Fae Elemental. But Jayne immediately turns on herself:
'I had wished to be extraordinary. And my mother had always told me be careful what I wished for.'
And later
'But still, I was no warrior. I think it would be more appropriate to call me . . . a 'lucky klutz'.'

Jayne's disposition to want to be anything but that high school girl she used to despise being is internally thrown into the pit against the idea she has of herself that she is not extraordinary in a certain sense. She's not a warrior, but she still wants to be a Fae.

But a war's about to happen.

Do you get what I'm saying?

This is just one issue. Never mind the ever-deepening sexual attraction Jayne has to Spike, never mind Chase's odd visit in the middle of the night to say that, though Tony's gone, Jayne can still talk to him. Never mind Jayne's lingering hatred for the Fae for putting her through such a test, though even the stubborn dissenting dwarves agree she shows 'reason'.

And that's just the first three chapters. The plot landscape and character development are completely intertwined. The plot isn't just incidental to the characters and the characters are not just subjects of a wonderfully woven plot. The internal and external factors just make me go insane I love it.

A lot happens, and yet, it doesn't feel like infodumping, which is fantastic. It's simplistic, neat, and easy to follow. Though I might go so far as to say sometimes the reflection is unnecessary, it's only because I follow the story so closely. Most people might need the first chapter to think about all the hell that broke loose during the length of the first book.

I think that's all that needs to be said. There are just as many plot twists as in the first book (I won't forgive you for that cliffhanger, Casey!) and just as much cursing, if not more (shoutout all my B*tches in the lake and my dumbass faeries). But, like the first book, it doesn't take away from what happens. I won't spoil anything for you, go read it yourselves! GO AND LOVE SPIKE, THE CUTE, DREAMY MOTHERLOVER. AND CHASE IS SO ADORABLE BUT hey can we just talk a minute about how Elle Casey still does not make these romantic undertones something that hinders Jayne's psyche or somehow makes her incapable of logical decisions.

And Maggie. YES Maggie! All hail Maggie and her sass upon the loathed Tim! Also what the crap, Tony?

I do have a bit of a problem in that I wanted more people do just die and go limbless and suffer great psychological trauma . . . but hey . . . that's just me.

 Mother Nature is a bit psychopathic. Trees are not to be trusted. These novels are twisted.
- Marlon

Can you handle life without your best friend?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: The Changelings - Elle Casey

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The Changelings
Elle Casey
Series: War of the Fae
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: What is This I Don't Even. So good.
On Goodreads

What's so scary about faeries? What could be? They're cute and pink and wonderful right? Even if you're clever and have read Artemis Fowl . . . well, you ain't seen nothing yet.

First of all, the diction is so sharp it could tear down the YA industry's general 'teenage voice'. It's extremely clear and no sentence is at all fluff. Casey is never ambiguous, never too florid, chooses precisely when to rain down her more poetic voice and most of all, she never infodumps, even in the beginning . . . instead, there's a bit of a pattern:
"I write and eat with my left hand but do just about everything else with my right. My body is confused with what it's supposed to do."
That's in the context of having a mini existential crisis in a history class. Very fluid, very helpful feel of what the narrator thinks of herself . . . plus we now have the tiny fact that our narrator is multidexterous. This pattern is brilliant and Casey uses it throughout most of the beginning to paint a brilliant internal and external picture of the main character, Jayne. This is such a rarity . . . in the introduction of even the best books I've read, there have been infodumps out of utter necessity (or in the case of City of Bones, a clever trick to make you think certain things are important when they're all lies). So I commend Casey for being able to wriggle out of that convention.

Now let's talk about Jayne. This girl. Oh gods. There aren't enough curse words in the English language for her, I assume she'll learn a few more languages to sate her thirst. She's just angry, and confused, and generally you do not want to piss her off. She's Percy Jackson if he'd stayed in the public school system, a little bit of a 'glutton for punishment'. She's relateable, in that most teenagers have felt like she has about parents, school, their bodies, and life in general. After all, I've always felt the itch to tell off my worst teachers. But what I like about her most is the absolute downplay on the romance. I mean, really? THANK YOU. In any YA, even friggin YA's that don't have a smidge of romance tag on it, there are still romantic conventions just looming around. But Jayne's not having any of that nonsense. She's tough, independent, and she shows her emotions like her skin, despite being inclined against both. Jayne also handles situations quite . . . wonderfully:
"Sonofabitch!"

"Shhh, Jayne, not so loud," said Tony, Panicked.

"What?! Those assholes put us in this forest with humanoid creepers that like to suck the life outta people! You know what that means, Tony? Vampires! And not the hot, Twilight kind either. How am I supposed to remain calm about that?"
I don't think I need to talk about anything else because the word choice and Jayne literally just make the novel. This girl will have you laughing constantly because she does not just accept everything, she acts like her inner ten year old and loses her marbles. She clings on to her friends when she's desperate. She faces her enemies after deliberation and you have no doubt she's going to rip them a new one. When stranger things start happening to her, she doesn't just take that either. She rampages. I love it. This girl reacts. Percy Jackson reacted like any regular kid would. That's why I fell in love with that series. Jayne is just brilliantly portrayed as not just someone you could be, but more along the lines of someone you're actually rooting for and you don't want to be because she's so clearly getting screwed over. I wish I knew her in real life.

Oh gods read this book for the tree hugging. Seriously, you'll know what I mean.

(Also every secondary character bar Tim is fabulous and you sort of hope no one dies but you realize they're all probably going to die. The plot and tonal shifting are on point and easy to follow. Jane is stubborn and doesn't develop much until the end where she's forced a bit out of her skin. The enemies were frightening, just about every conventional beast is thrown in . . . werewolves, vamps, etc, but it doesn't stop there . . . everything is an enemy in the "challenge", which takes up most of the novel.)

Tree hugging, though.


- Marlon

What mythological monster have you been dying to read about?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Blood of Olympus - Rick Riordan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week and for many weeks after, I am and will be waiting on City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. However, Kiersten's graciously done that already. So this week, I'm waiting on The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

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The Blood of Olympus
Rick Riordan
Series:  The Heroes of Olympus, #5
Release Date: October 17th, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Waited on by: Everybody and their Mothers (Marlon)
On Goodreads


Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the "Argo II" have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them, and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake. The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps. The Athena Parthenos will go west; the "Argo II" will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over


Unlike City of Heavenly Fire, I DON'T EVEN HAVE A BOOK COVER TO BE HAPPY ABOUT. No excerpts, just the ability to re-read House of Hades and cry over literally every other page for frack's sake. Percy Jackson has been my hero . . . I didn't start off as a Harry Potter kid, I started off as a Max McDaniels kid, but while Max only had one book out at the time (The Tapestry #1: The Hound of Rowan), Percy had three. And they were amazing. And it's been a very long ride and I'm almost unwilling to let it go. Words cannot express precisely how much I strive to be the Rick Riordan to at least a few people. That would be the greatest gift of which I could be capable, because these books, these freaking books have made my life so much more worth living. When I heard about The Lost Hero, I jumped on the excerpt like it was the dropped hot potato and I was a stereotypical Irish person. It was the absolute best transition book, that had the best elements from the first series with new faces. Son of Neptune? You better bet I was going bananas that Percy was back, even without his iron skin. We're not going to talk about Mark of Athena because you know it shattered hearts. House of Hades seemed to tie knots that have been loose for years, closing chapters, realizing and actualizing characters. Preparing for the end.

So let's do this people. On October 17th, we'll go down together. 


- Marlon


What are YOU waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stuffed Animal Saturday [10]

Stuffed Animal Saturday is a meme that we post here at We Live and Breathe Books every two weeks to showcase the book we're currently reading with one of our favorite stuffed animals and discuss our stuffed animal's opinion (well, it's really our opinion, but that's besides the point). We hope you enjoy our quirky feature as much as we enjoy writing it!

Hey guys! It's Jeremy again, he likes to read a lot so he wants to hog the spotlight/camera lens. This week, we're reading an ebook and since the Nook was hiding on a very high shelf, he decided he wanted to take a picture with a Frozen coloring book instead. The book we are actually reading is Rematch by Janine Caldwell. It's the first book in the Vortex series and I will be reviewing it as part of a book tour, along with the next two books in the series. 

So Far: I'm only a few pages in, so I can't form too concrete of an opinion but so far I like this book quite a bit. Even though I haven't gotten super far into it, the beginning is very interesting and I really want to keep reading, especially to see how these two characters will collide and how everything will play out, especially the central conflict.

A Sneak Peek: 
Since I haven't read too much of the book, there isn't a specific passage I would like to put here so I'll just paste the description blurb so you guys can see how interesting this book seems.

Trent Astor is many things—orphan, runaway, musician. But what’s most extraordinary about Trent is that he’s a time traveler. His supernatural gift sends him on missions to the past to save unsuspecting victims from harm. However, when he fails to save the life of a young girl, his life changes in ways he could never have dreamed. 

 At eleven-years-old, Cassie Moore suffered through a horrific shooting. Tragically scarred from the ordeal, the once promising tennis prodigy was forced to throw away all hope of a future in tennis. Now, as she begins her senior year of high school, the past continues to haunt her. She struggles to find herself, her self-esteem at an all time low. If only she could resolve the past, she might be able to move on with her life. She never imagined that could be possible until she meets the gorgeous new student in her PE class.


-Noor

Are you and your stuffed animal reading anything interesting? 
Let us know in your own Stuffed Animal Saturday!