Shattered by H.M. Ward

Blurb:
51tseqQBbdL.jpgAfter Mari’s attempt to help Trystan goes horribly wrong they are both forced to deal with the consequences.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Well that synopsis is horribly short.  After such a major cliffhanger, I didn’t realize that I never went on to find out what happened next (probably b/c this book wasn’t out yet), so this was my first read through!  I find that while I’m still really interested in Mari and Trystan, I’m not sure if this style of serial novella series is for me.  It feels like not enough happens in each book, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but these books definitely feel shorter than the 200 pages they claim to be.  It takes me less than 2 hours to read them.  So it doesn’t feel really satisfying.

I will say that I was kind of disappointed in the predictability of the story — totally saw what was going to happen with Brie.  Totally called Trystan briefly trying to push Mari away.  Sometimes I don’t mind a predictable storyline, but I might not be in the right frame of mind for it right now, kwim?  But I’m invested at this point, so I will finish this, I just doubt I will bother getting involved in any more of these kinds of series by this author.  It’s just not to my *personal* taste.

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Turtle Bay by Tiffany King

Blurb:
24988193If you’re a teenager in a small, rural area, how do you exist when your eccentric, free-spirited parents are the town freaks everyone laughs at?

For sixteen-year-old Rainbow Honeywell—or Rain, as she insists on being called—the answer was to become the queen of all pranks. She never wanted to be a troublemaker, but the label quickly stuck when everyone in Huntsville, Kansas, became a target. All she wanted was to deflect the negative attention off her parents, but Rain’s plan backfired to the max, landing her in a heap of trouble with the local authorities and expelled from high school.

An unexpected inheritance offers Rain an opportunity for a new beginning when she and her family move across the country to the quaint beach community of Turtle Bay, Florida.

Determined to make the best of her second chance, Rain vows to walk the straight and narrow, hoping her parents will fly under the radar while she soaks up some fun in the sun, sandy beaches, and hot, tanned guys. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong new friends, and a late night party lands her back in the kind of trouble she had been hoping to avoid. As the newbie in town with a record, Rain takes the brunt of the punishment when an unforgiving judge chooses to make an example out of her and slaps her with enough community service hours to keep her busy until she is old and gray.

Facing the harsh reality of paying for the actions of others while atoning for her own past sins, Rain is paired up with Josh Shaw, a judgmental local lifeguard whose love for the beach and the environment is eclipsed only by his distaste for those who trash it. As far as Josh is concerned, Rain is guilty and got what she deserved, regardless of her side of the story. To make matters worse, a tropical storm sits in the Atlantic, threatening to wreak havoc on the small beach community.

Things slowly change as Rain begins to appreciate her surroundings through Josh’s eyes, proving she is not the person he thinks she is. Their feelings for one another blossom as the tropical storm grows into a hurricane and bears down on Turtle Bay. With impending danger looming, the small beach community must come together in order to ride out the storm.

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My Review:
4 stars — I absolutely adore Ms. King’s YA contemporary books, they are some of my favourites in this genre.  And for some reason while I bought this book immediately when it came out, I didn’t get to it right away.  But it was exactly what I always love about her books, so I shake my head at myself for leaving it so long. (also, it’s currently only 99 cents people — if you love YA contemps, I recommend checking it out)

This is probably going to be a bit of a lackluster review, b/c I finished this book 2 days ago, and have read 2 more books since then…I hate doing that, but travel always screws me up.  What can I say?  The romance was definitely sweet, and I liked how the relationship progressed from intrigue to “sort of” hate to understanding to crush to more.  It was the perfect YA romance in my opinion.  And we definitely got enough of it to keep me satisfied.

I really enjoyed both Rain and Josh, though this was really Rain’s story.  Rain could have easily annoyed me with her viewpoints on Josh and the aftermath of the party, but I thought in the end she was written very authentic teenager, and it didn’t last so long as to drive me nuts.  Just enough to make her believable, but then give us some growth.

There were some tiny side plots that I was a bit confused about.  I felt like Farrah was going to have a bigger part in the story, and then she just didn’t.  I really feel like she has more to say.  Maybe there was an initial thought to write more books and make it series-esque, and then it just didn’t pan out?  That makes me sad, b/c I would love to learn more of Farrah’s story.  And then there was the Evan storyline.  Part of me liked what was brought there, but I felt somehow off about it.  Like I wasn’t quite sure what all it brought to the story as a whole.  But I also read this book off and on with a big break in the middle, so that sometimes messes with how I see the story as a whole.

In the end the part that stood out to me the most and just totally made me love this story were Rain’s parents, Butch and Buttercup.  I LOVE when YA’s actually have parents that EXIST and are important to the story.  So many times they’re just written around and it’s just not realistic.  And while Butch and Buttercup were unbelievably unique and different, they were great parents and I really loved what they brought to Rain’s growth.

All in all, it was exactly what I was looking for from Ms. King.  She writes a lot of different ages, from YA to Adult, but for me it’s her YAs where she shines.

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Taking Shots by Toni Aleo

Blurb:
17504320In TONI ALEO‘s exhilarating Loveswept debut, the first in a series featuring the hockey hunks of the Nashville Assassins, a reformed bad boy helps a charming, willful woman face off against the demons of her past.

No matter how hard she tries, Elleanor Fisher never thinks she’s good enough, from her job to her weight to her love life. After enduring years of abuse at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, Elli has been drifting through life in a daze. Until, that is, she meets Shea Adler on a promotional shoot for the NHL’s Nashville Assassins. Before Elli knows what’s happening, the gorgeous Shea breaks the ice and shatters her world.

A brilliant athlete inside the rink, Shea Adler is tired of the life he’s living outside of it: the women, the money, the drinking. But everything changes when he meets Elli. After laying eyes on this feisty, witty, beautiful woman, he feels like he’s just taken the hardest hit of his life. No matter how skeptical she is, Shea knows they are meant to be together–if only he can convince Elli to put her insecurities aside before she misses out on a shot at love.

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(I actually am reading this from the box set of the first 5 novels in this series, b/c I got it on a great sale and it was hockey romance and some friends loved it.  Check it out on Goodreads here and Amazon here.)

My Review:
2.5 stars — Well crap.  I have a few friends that really enjoyed this book, and so I was really looking forward to it.  It started off a bit rough for me — for an Indie book being picked up by Loveswept, I guess I was a little disappointed that there were still quite a few editing mistakes (both grammar/typo-wise and timeline issue-wise), or just things that I felt should have been polished better.  I mean, for a bit at the beginning they weren’t using any contractions and it just felt uber formal or something.  So that wasn’t a good start.

And theoretically I should have really loved Elli.  I tend to fall for those heroines with self-esteem issues (bonus points if it’s a larger girl).  But can I just say that I almost hated her instead?  I mean, she had her good moments, it wasn’t all bad.  But OMG, we got to the climax and she and I were just done.  Like broken up, I was through with her, and there was nothing she could do to get back into my good books (and quite frankly she didn’t do enough to make up for things).  For one, I was really not impressed with a size 10 girl being a supposed fat chick.  But now that I write that, I’m feeling kind of disappointed in myself, b/c everyone’s allowed to have their insecurities.  But to go on and on about it so much, it was just frustrating.  So maybe that’s more my own personal flaw and not the book’s.

But it was like Elli just went through this lobotomy as the book went on.  She could be mean!!  And I know there’s insecurity, and I know she was totally screwed up by her past and her awful family, but WOW!!  Her reactions were too much for me.  If I was Shea, I would have run a long time ago, and I honestly don’t understand how he could put up with all of that without barely an apology.

Shea, on the other hand, was (for the most part) a total sweetheart.  He was almost too good to be true.  Thank goodness he occasionally flew off the handle sometimes b/c otherwise it just wasn’t believable.  But otherwise I really liked him.  Which is probably what made it so much worse!  He did NOTHING WRONG and he still almost apologized more than Elli did!  It was ridiculous!

And I did not understand his relationship with his sister Grace!!  And what is with the violent and mean women??  SHE KICKED HIM IN THE STOMACH!!!  Who does that??

And Elli’s mother and sister?  OMGosh, no.  Two dimensional evil.  Maybe I would have believed it if she didn’t have a fabulous father…then why wasn’t the father doing more to keep the mother in line?  I don’t get it!  My brain actually hurts.

And holy cow was this book long!!  And I don’t mind long books, but there was a lot of minutiae in the book that could have totally been cut out as unnecessary.  Again…I get it when Indies have a problem getting good editing, but Loveswept is owned by Random House…there’s no excuse.

So if you couldn’t tell I had a bit of an emotional reaction to this book.  *sheepish grin*  Woops.  Sorry.  Another ranty review.  Crap.  😦  But it’s like I was kind of meh at the beginning…then I started to really like Shea and even Elli…then things slowly started going downhill…then they PLUMMETED…and then it ended without Elli being redeemed.  So yeah.  That’s it.  I’ll still give another book in the series a try since maybe it was just these characters, or first book-itis.  And b/c, well, I have 4 more books in the box set.  But I need to give my heart a break first.

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Beyond What Is Given by Rebecca Yarros

Blurb:
26128190Lt. Grayson Masters is focused on graduating the Apache helicopter course, and the last thing he needs is his gorgeous new roommate Samantha Fitzgerald distracting him. While her smart mouth and free spirit are irresistibly irritating, he can’t deny their off-the-charts chemistry, no matter how hard he tries.

Having just been expelled from college, Sam has no business digging for Grayson’s secrets while she’s hiding her own, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to tear down his walls. Each barrier she busts through drops one of her own, though, and she’s not prepared for the truth: another woman laid claim to Grayson’s heart long ago.

Falling in love is something neither Grayson nor Sam can afford, and when that line is crossed and secrets are exposed, they’ll learn that sometimes it’s the answered prayers that will put you through hell.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Hmmm…another hard one for me to pin down on how exactly I feel.  I think I wanted to love it so much that my initial thought was 4 stars.  But when I actually sat down to think about it, I just wasn’t as drawn into the story as I was with the first 2 books.  I really love Ms. Yarros’s writing, and that was still exceptional in this book.  My problem is that there was just too much going on, I didn’t like all the bits of drama, and while I wanted to root for Sam and Grayson, I also wanted to smack them sometimes.

The thing is, I didn’t quite get the initial chemistry.  OK, yes, I get initial attraction and they had it by the boatloads.  But that’s just not enough.  For Grayson to behave so differently, I guess I wanted something more concrete that attracted him to her.  And yeah, I guess there was her fiery personality and all that, but I just felt like I was told a bit more than shown in this case…but maybe I was just too distracted while reading this and so I missed something.

I enjoyed both Grayson and Sam, but holy shit there was a lot going on in the background of their love story.  And in the end, it kind of detracted from it.  I guess it would have been ok if they’d been able to get past the issues, but the same ones kept cropping up over and over again.  And I think both Sam *and* Grayson were to blame.  Sam really didn’t put a lot of faith in Grayson, but at the same time a part of me understood where she was coming from…I guess I just wanted her to grow up and learn and trust and just , well, *grow* a bit quicker than she did.  But another part of me understood that her reactions were very human.  And Grayson…oh that boy.  He suffered from that same affliction of humanitis…making silly choices sometimes and not learning from them.  It was hard to watch him hold onto that guilt for so long.  I got it initially, but after awhile even a stupid person would let that shit go.

And I wasn’t too bothered by the Grace storyline per say.  It was a bit obvious where it was going to go, so I can’t say I was surprised with some of the twists therein.  It was mostly just a frustrating wrench that lasted a lot longer as a plot device than I was expecting.  I will say I didn’t see Parker’s reveal coming AT ALL.  And in some ways it made me understand her a bit more.  She was still a bitch, but at least I could understand how she got to that place, so I kind of appreciated that.

And quite frankly that was enough.  Heck, then we still had Sam’s issues to deal with.  They kind of got relegated to the backburner, and really didn’t feel necessary to the story or Sam’s growth.  Maybe bits of it, but it was a bit too much for me.

AND THEN you had Grayson’s issues with his Dad and the helicopter pilot stuff (this is me trying not to be spoilery).  I was actually initially intrigued by this b/c I felt something in Eyes Turned Skyward that made me curious about Grayson and his studying habits, and it was yet another little side plot that felt thrown in.  I, personally, would have LOVED more attention on this issue.  But with everything else going on, it felt awkward and didn’t really fit.  So in the end, I would have cut it out completely.

So yeah.  All that.  We have this great little romance with two characters with great chemistry, and it just got sooooo bogged down with everything else.  I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if it could have been pared down a bit.  I will say that I was starting to give up on our characters, despite some of their sweet moments, and then we got that ending.  Grayson came through for me (and Sam).  And that’s what is bumping it up a half star.  But after writing this all out, I have a feeling I’ll still be rounding down.  It was a good book, but I think it could have been soooooo much better.  Ah well.

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Chameleon by Kelly Oram

Synopsis:
18999247For small-town rebel Dani Webber magic and monsters are no more real than the Easter Bunny… until the day she accidentally stops time. Dani quickly discovers that not only do supernaturals exist, but she herself is one of them. This is great news for her life-long best friend Russ, who can finally come clean about his own supernatural status and his undying love for her. Before the two can start to enjoy the long overdue relationship, Dani is taken by a powerful council of supernaturals who believe she is the Chosen One destined to save them from extinction.

As if being kidnapped and expected to save the world isn’t bad enough, an ancient prophecy warns of the Chosen One’s dark nature: “Only the truest love will keep her an agent for good.” The council believes they know who this “true love” is and, unfortunately, that person isn’t Russ. The mysterious, powerful and devastatingly handsome Seer is the last person Dani wants in her life, but when she starts having visions of a horrific future, she has no one else to turn to for help.

Soon Dani finds herself torn between two very different boys with two very different opinions of whom she can trust. With the visions getting worse and time running out, Dani is forced to put aside her feelings and work with both the Seer and Russ before an ancient evil is unleashed upon the earth.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — OK, so here’s the thing: I’m actually not a fan of love triangles.  Now that’s not to say I won’t love a book that has a love triangle, b/c one of my favourite authors unfortunately LOVES them and has a major one in one of my favourite series of hers.  I guess it just has to be done right, or there has to be enough other stuff surrounding the story to push down my inherit dislike of love triangles.  And this book failed to do that for me.  What’s weird is that I knew going in that there was a love triangle (uh duh, it’s in the blurb), and quite frankly being a huge fan of Ms. Oram and being a part of her fan club, other readers inevitably even spoiled it for me (because people forget about that when they get excited and start fangirling), and so I even knew which boy probably won out in the end.  Although, I guess that kind of ruined my read of this book a bit as well (kind of like More Than Jamie Baker being a bit spoiled for me ruined it a bit).  People are so well meaning, but it really is hard to avoid spoilers once you join a fan club.  So my advice?  Don’t join the fan club until you’ve read it all.  Seriously.

OK, that was a stupid tangent to get off on.  ANYWAYS.  Right.  Love triangles.  So we start this book with Russ and Dani.  And even though Russ could be kind of a prick at times, I kind of fell for the two of them together.  I mean come on, they were hilarious and the bantering was funny and I really did feel chemistry.  And a small part of me that hadn’t reread the blurb before diving in hoped I had been wrong about the existence of a love triangle, b/c best friends to lovers stories??  Who doesn’t love those?  And OMG the paranormal stuff was so fun and exciting and intriguing, and I really was loving most of that!!  (though her reactions to the cravings bothered me here and there, but I could deal with it)  And then the council comes and takes her away (not a spoiler, this is all implied by the blurb for the book, so I figured I could mention it).  And we meet book boy 2.  And from that point on I just never really got back my verve for the story except in pieces here and there.  You see, not only was I only meh on Gabriel (he was ok, just nothing spectacular IMO), I really didn’t feel Gabriel and Dani’s connection at all (no matter how many times we’re told it’s there).  And when Russ comes back into the picture, he’s an even bigger dick, and quite frankly I couldn’t have cared less who Dani ended up with.  I wasn’t feeling either anymore.  I refused to invest in either relationship b/c I honestly didn’t know how it was going to pan out, b/c I didn’t ever feel that great love that I was expecting that would show who the true love was supposed to be.  So for me, this book was an epic romance fail.

Now on the supernatural side it was kind of intriguing.  I LOVED that moment when I understood the title of this book.  Dani’s powers were quite cool, and I enjoyed the “fight” type scenes throughout this book.  I will say that I went back and forth a GAGILLION times over who the bad guy was going to be.  And sometimes I felt like Dani, Russ, and Gabriel were freaking idiots for not being a bit more cautious all around with all the powerful warlocks that they could encounter, but apparently I’m just paranoid that way.  I always had it narrowed down to 2 suspects, and a part of me was mildly disappointed that it wasn’t who I wanted it to be, but in the end it made the most sense.  So fantastic mystery element.  And I will say that the climax was quite emotionally impactful for me.  I really hope we get to learn a bit more about the Supernaturals as a whole, b/c it felt like a lot of backstory was missing at times.  I guess b/c we were really only dealing with a few types in this particular story.  I’m actually very excited to see what else we’ll learn in the future stories, and how the world will unfold.

And I totes agree with other readers, Duncan is da bomb.  He disappointed me here and there, but he was one of the better characters in the story, particularly for such a minor one.

So I am definitely reading the next book in the series.  Especially since it’s from a different character’s POV and so we’ll get a fresh chance at a good romance.  I will say that while I LOVE LOVE LOVE the covers for these books (and the interior formatting), I don’t yet get the significance of the cool sun thingie.  Have you read this book?  Did I miss something?

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A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram

Synopsis:
22089601Rockstar to the core, Six-time Grammy Award-winning musician Kyle Hamilton has it all—money, fame, talent, good looks, and a job he loves. His only regret in life: walking away from a certain notorious virgin because he was too prideful, stubborn, and even afraid to give her the only thing she asked of him—his abstinence.

Four years and a broken heart later, Kyle realizes that sex isn’t everything, and he suddenly can’t stop thinking about the girl that got away. Virgin Val Jensen got under his skin like no one else ever has. He wasn’t ready for her then, but things are different now. He’s grown up, he’s learned a few things, and he’s finally figured out exactly what he wants, or, rather, who he wants.

Kyle Hamilton wants a do-over, and this time he’s willing to do—or not do—whatever it takes.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Initial thoughts when I turned the page to the end: OMG OMGOMG!!!  LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT!!!!  Then I glanced at some other people’s reviews (which is a bad habit that I have to break), reflected on it as a whole, and realized there were some things that bothered me.  But since you really can’t beat that initial feeling of LOVE at the end of a book, I’m going to give it that extra bump up a half star anyways.

What I loved: OK, so I am a SUCKER (100%) for an epilogue type book.  I know some people hate those, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!!!  And since V is for Virgin didn’t really satisfy my romance fix, this book gave me everything I was looking for.  There were plenty of sweet moments, plenty of swoon moments, some great witty banter between Kyle and Val, and definitely some great chemistry.

Also, KYLE POV!!!!  I am a sucker for a boy POV book, so I LOVED getting inside Kyle’s head.  I will admit, Kyle wasn’t my ideal book boyfriend in V is for Virgin.  Frankly, he was kind of a jerk.  He had these moments, but they weren’t really enough you know?  But somehow in this book he made me fall for him.  I mean, he still had his jerk-ish moments, but he really had grown a lot since the first book.  And he wasn’t just some perfect turn-around good guy.  He was still Kyle Hamilton.  He was just starting to see what was important in his life, and what was missing from it.  I was so glad that we didn’t start right off from the Epilogue from the previous book, but a few months before and got to see the events that led up to him appearing on the Connie Parker Show and surprising Val.

I will admit that there were times I doubted what drew him to Val so much.  Yeah, I know they had unbelievable chemistry, but he really was set on this new path, and I wondered just how well he knew her to be so sure she was the one, you know?  But it’s not as though he didn’t recognize some of that in the book and decide he wanted to know her better, so I was satisfied.

OK, so the little niggles: thongs are trashy??  OK, I will admit, I don’t wear thongs.  But that’s because I can’t get over the something between my butt cheeks thing.  I was quite disappointed in Val for those comments.  (And yes, I get that is a tiny thing)  Also…well shit, I can’t mention my other thing b/c it’s *kind of* spoilery.  I’ll save it for the Goodreads review.

But seriously, if I don’t think about it too much, I just bask in the enjoyment of this story.  And can I say I really loved Robin again?  I enjoyed the moments between her and Kyle, they were infrequent, but so sweet when they happened (and unexpected).  All in all, this definitely lived up to my expectations and made me a happy reader!!

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More Than Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram

Synopsis:
18690119Jamie Baker, the only girl in the world with superpowers, has now accepted who she is and learned to control her power. Not to mention she has the best boyfriend on the planet. Life is finally looking good. But the day she witnesses an accident and decides not to save the guy out of fear of being exposed, she realizes that simply being Jamie Baker isn’t enough.

After seeing Jamie so wrecked with guilt, the ever-helpful Ryan Miller decides it’s time to make all of his fantasies about turning his girlfriend into an honest-to-goodness superhero become a reality.

Of course, coming up with a decent Super Name and fending off all of Ryan’s attempts to get her into spandex aren’t the only problems Jamie faces. The more her alter ego starts to make headlines, the harder it becomes for Jamie to hide her extracurricular activities from her best friend, the government, radical scientists, and the mysterious new guy who is determined to steal her from her boyfriend.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Oooooo, majorly conflicted!!!  (also, spoilers for book one if you haven’t read it)

OK, so part of my problem is that I kind of got a bit spoiled on parts of this book, just from being in Ms. Oram’s fan club on Facebook and seeing parts of discussions go by no matter how much I tried to avoid them like the plague.  I can honestly say I don’t know how my thoughts on different parts would have played out if I’d been able to read this book organically without seeing any discussion about it.  So if you haven’t read this book yet, TRY WITH EVERYTHING IN YOU to do a better job of avoiding reading anything about it, b/c apparently people don’t realize what is a spoiler (even just small things).  So there’s a part of me that’s disappointed in that, though there’s a tiny other part of me that thinks I may have noticed things happening and figured things out early on even without the spoiler.  And yes, I get that I’m being extremely vague, but I’m trying to avoid what was done to me, you know??  (perhaps I’ll add a spoiler section to my Goodreads review so I can discuss it)

OK, so I loved having Ryan and Jamie back.  I was super surprised that this book was a bit after the end of BJB.  For some reason I guess I just expected it to pick right up where the first book left off, not be a year later(ish).  But it was nice to see Ryan and Jamie fully entrenched in their relationship and enjoying each other.  I loved their banter and sweet moments, but occasionally I felt like something was missing between the two of them…but I can’t pinpoint it, so maybe it was just that I love them so much I always want more.

I am still conflicted about the Mike/Becky subplot.  There are parts of me that enjoyed the uniqueness of how it was dealt (what story actually bothers to pay any attention to the rapist?), but it’s just inherently uncomfortable then and I’m honestly not sure how forgiving a person I am personally.  I was also still kind of blown away that Jamie kept it from Ryan, no matter how she rationalized it.

And while I enjoyed Jamie’s conflict over the accident situation, I sometimes felt like it was drawn out longer than I was expecting…or maybe not drawn out so much as revisited too often.

I loved seeing her become Chelsea’s Angel, though I was disappointed that her disguise wasn’t very disguising.  But her heroics were so very Jamie-like, she really embraced that role.

Having seen teasers for the 3rd book, and having left reading this book so late, I wasn’t at all surprised or taken aback by the epilogue to this book…so I guess it didn’t bother me as much as it seems to have with other people.  I could totally see it happening in that way.

My basic problem with this book all centers around one element.  And unfortunately it’s a major element.  So I’m unsure how I’m going to enjoy the next book since that element still exists.  It’s having me waffling between rounding down or up on this one, and I honestly didn’t expect that since I loved BJB so much.  So like I said, very conflicted.  It had a lot of great elements, but that one could just overshadow all the good ones.  😦

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Becoming by Raine Thomas

Synopsis:
12135131.jpgEvery three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.

To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.

Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.

Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Ooooo, this is going to be another hard one to review.  Yet again, I had mixed feelings about this baby.  I was actually sucked right in from the beginning and thoroughly enchanted by Amber and Gabriel.  The book started off really strong in other words.  I was intrigued by Amber’s mysterious power build up, and what it could mean, and what it would do, and I just felt so many emotions in the first bit of this book.

Even Amber and Gabriel’s relationship had me so enthralled.  Sometimes it’s not quite as much fun when the love is found so quickly in the book and you don’t get quite the same build up, but I did enjoy the build up that we got.  I seriously swooned over Gabriel’s obvious love for Amber.  And he was just so adorable, and gah!!  He was definitely a book stealer, I adored his character right until the very end (but I will get to that).  And I could totally feel their chemistry with each other.

Then we got to about the point where they left for their trip to Alaska, and it felt a little like where I expected the book to go just didn’t follow.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I guess I just lost a bit of what was sucking me in.  It’s like we were bombarded with a TON of information all at once, but at the same time I still wanted to know what her “Incidents” were caused by.  We sort of got an explanation, but apparently it wasn’t what I was looking for.  We also started getting into the heads of a lot more characters, which I don’t necessarily mind, but by the time I got to the end of the book, I felt like Amber and Gabriel’s story was a bit shortchanged, you know?  Like if they were only going to get this one book, then I wanted more time in their heads.  But I guess that was all the story they had to tell.

I did THOROUGHLY enjoy the action-y type scenes (both in Alaska, and then later in the Estilorian plane).  I was intrigued with the abilities that we were shown, and it had me on the edge of my seat.  And while I was leery of how the story would progress once they reached the Estilorian plane, I was so completely satisfied with the Amber and Gabriel part of the storyline that I was a happy camper.  Their love had me grinning from ear to ear, and I was so happy with how that all worked out.  Again, Gabriel was just so SWOON!!!

On the other side of the coin, there were a lot of descriptive moments in this book, and that’s not something that I’m personally much of a fan of.  (from her hair and makeup and clothes to the appearance of the guest houses, that kind of thing)

And then there’s the world building.  On that I am truly torn.  I loved the unique paranormal world that was built, but holy shit (excuse my language), it was kind of overwhelming.  Mostly just all the names.  There were *9* classes of Estilorians.  And quite frankly, I had a hard time keeping them straight.  It was just too much.  I ended up losing interest because I would become a bit confused at times.  But at the same time, some of the stuff was really cool, you know???  GAH!  I’m so freaking torn!!!!

So my final assessment??  This will tell you: I bought the box set for the 3 Daughters of Saraquel books, b/c I am definitely intrigued and want to learn Olivia and Skye’s stories.  So regardless of all the little niggles, I was definitely sucked in enough to want to continue, and that says a lot since I don’t have a lot of time to spend on books if they aren’t intriguing.  And I wonder if the next two books might even surpass this book b/c they won’t be mired down in that initial world building, you know??  Fingers are crossed.  🙂

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Unlit Star by Lindy Zart

Synopsis:
23007471We are not guaranteed anything, not even this life.

Rivers Young is the popular guy untouchable by reality. He is like a star—bright, consuming, otherworldly. The thing about stars, though, is that they eventually fall, and he is no different.

He falls far and he falls hard.

Delilah Bana is the outcast enshrouded in all of life’s ironies. Alone, in the dark, like dusk as it falls on the world. When Rivers hits the ground, she is the night that catches him. In the darkness, they meld into something beautiful that shines like the sun.

Only, the greater the star is, the shorter its lifespan.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This one had so many moments of 5 star-ness.  I actually highlighted quite a few passages (though not the ones that everyone else apparently did).  But I think in the end this was just one of those stylistic mismatches for me.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve never been attracted to complicated writing.  I know it’s what tends to get awards and accolades, but I guess I’m just a simple girl.  And this book just didn’t quite work for me in that way.  It also had a lot of…almost…philosophizing?  And I don’t mind some of that, but it was just a very introspective book in parts and I ended up losing interest in those parts.  And so strangely I would be going along enjoying myself and the good parts (which I will totally get to), and then Delilah would get going (either in her head, or talking to Rivers), and I would lose some of the emotions.  In the end I didn’t even really cry, which totally surprised me.  I teared up, but I guess I was expecting full on bawling when I figured out one of the major plot points would add some tragedy to the story.

I will also admit that this book reminded me a lot of one of my favourite movies of all time (though I’ve never read the book), and so it suffered from unintentional comparison on my part, and while I enjoyed some parts of this book better, in the end it couldn’t compete in my heart.

OK, now that that crap is out of the way, on to what I liked (and in some cases adored).  Delilah could be an absolute trip.  There were some aspects of her personality that bothered me, but in general I thoroughly enjoyed her spunkiness and her newfound positive attitude.  I loved the first part of the book sooooo much, and how she got through to Rivers by not treating him with kid gloves.  I loved watching their relationship develop, and I could totally feel the connection between them.

And Rivers was generally delightful too.  I felt so many of his emotions, and all the struggles he went through with overcoming his accident…I was just all in with him.  Occasionally his love lines to Delilah got to be a bit flowery, but I could overlook them most of the time.  And again, I cannot stress enough how his emotions got to me and felt so real.

And the highlight for me in this story was the teasing way that Delilah and Rivers interacted.  I seriously laughed so much at times.  Honestly, so many great moments that made my heart just happy for the two of them together.

So basically it was another up and down book for me.  I’ll probably round up b/c I just loved the good parts so much, but it’s a hard decision because I was disappointed that it wasn’t the epic read I was hoping for.

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Within This Frame by Lindy Zart

Synopsis:
27232486It begins with a television show in 1996…

Lance Denton knows what he wants, and it isn’t his co-star Maggie Smiley. She’s too timid, too nice, too innocent—too everything. She sees past his exterior and into his heart. Maggie expects him to be good, and he only knows bad. He tells himself this, and yet he can’t stay away from her. Her eyes, her heart, her spirit. He falls for her, and then he keeps falling.

It ends with a knock on the door in 2010…

Maggie Smiley has spent the last decade pretending a piece of her childhood never happened, namely the part that involved Lance Denton. When she receives an invitation in the mail to a fundraiser, she decides to stop hiding—from her past, from herself, and ultimately, from Lance. He makes this easy when he shows up on her doorstep, his blue, blue eyes promising more than she wants to see.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — It’s official folks, I’m in a slump.  The synopsis above is actually not the one I read (I read the one you’ll see on Goodreads), but I feel like this one (from Amazon) better represents the story.  I had a completely different story in my head when I started this, and it totally affected my initial enjoyment of the story.  I was expecting Lance to have been some bully from her past who’s back to make amends.  And I guess in a way that is still true, but they had a romantic relationship in the past too (which you do get from this updated synopsis), and so it just threw me off.  I mean, it’s like my favourite analogy — thinking you’re going to drink Coke, but you’re actually drinking root beer, and so it tastes bad, even though you like root beer.  Expectations suck.

Getting the meh parts out of the way, sometimes I just felt a little lost in the prose.  There were so many emotional things going on, and sometimes I had moments where I just honestly lost what the story was trying to tell me.  It’s hard to explain.  I think I’m just having massive brain farts and they’re destroying my reading experience.  It takes away from the effectiveness of some scenes when you don’t know what they’re talking about.

OK, onto the good stuff!  Even though both characters were royally screwed up to the yin yang, I still enjoyed both characters.  I loved the depth that they showed, and Ms. Zart really gets you to feel the angst that they’re both experiencing, especially in the past parts from Lance’s POV.  I also really felt their attraction in the past, and the love that developed there (along with a lot of unhealthy bits).  I think in the end I was more affected by Lance’s story to be honest.  I felt like we got to see what he was going through and what made him who he was.  I felt all the depths of his emotions.  Maybe b/c we were in Lance’s head for all the past segments.  In the end only seeing in Maggie’s head in the present, I didn’t really get to connect with her and all the things she was struggling with.  I know she was supposed to be reclusive and bad body image issues, but I just felt like it wasn’t really there (maybe it was more prominent in her past), and so it just kind of solved itself rather quickly.  I didn’t get to see the growth and transition, and I missed that.  So for me, Lance was the shining star of this story — which is funny, b/c he was a mega jerk for quite a bit of it.  So I don’t usually find myself gravitating towards those characters, but I really believed in his growth and changes.

All in all it was a solid read, but as I seem to be lately, I was left wanting more.  I guess I’ve just turned into a demanding reader or something.

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