Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: More Than This (O'Leary #1)

More Than This
When a lonely teacher teams up with a handsome bartender for some outrageous acts, they both get more than they bargained for…

Learning her ex-husband is going to be a father, Quinn Adams is determined to have a baby of her own—without the partnership of a man. But her sister and friends believe she needs to focus on herself first, and step out of her comfort zone by completing a list of adventures. Challenge number one is to go on five dates within two weeks. After a few disastrous attempts, Quinn’s ready to give up—until sexy bartender Ryan O’Leary offers his assistance.

Ryan has always been the dependable one in his family, often at his expense. But lately, he’s been longing for a life—and a woman—of his own. The woman he has in mind is Quinn. Though it seems all she wants is friendship, Ryan can’t ignore the explosive chemistry he feels between them. In the hopes of becoming closer, Ryan offers to help out with Quinn’s list. But when she asks him for a serious favor, he’s afraid it will jeopardize his chance to become more than friends.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: eKensington
Publication Date: January 3, 2013
Kat's Review
I saw this ebook on my library's website and thought, Why not? You know, cause it's not like my backlist of things to read isn't a mile long.  I get distracted sometimes.  This book is what I would call a contemporary romance, although not quite as gushy as many tend to be.  The premise was kind of cute.  A teacher, Quinn, who is stuck in a rut decides she wants a baby.  In an attempt to break out of her comfort zone first, her sister and best friend design a list of summer challenges, much like the lists they had made as kids, but with updated challenges.  The owner of the Irish pub Quinn frequents finds himself interested in her and offers to help out with the list in the hopes that she'll fall for him. 
Like I said, the premise is cute and simple- two people looking for change in their lives, somehow finding a way to come together.  It's a lighthearted, summertime type of read.  In fact, I found it to be very readable.  Quinn's baby obsession began to annoy me a bit after a while, I have to admit, because she was focused so single-mindedly on that one goal to the exclusion of almost everything else, but otherwise I found it was easy to just roll with the story through to the conclusion. 
I felt as though the cast of characters were pretty well drawn.  The frustrated teacher, a bit burnt out from the job, her sister, who adores the spotlight but has her own insecurities to deal with.  Kate, the best friend and mother of three kids, struggling in a marriage that is no longer working.  Ryan, the bar owner, shouldering the weight of responsibility after his father died and coping with the reappearance of his flighty brother.  Griffin, his rich best friend who always seems to be looking for something he can't find.  They were likeable, relatable characters that were often the voice of reason for Quinn when she couldn't see what was best for herself. 
Rating: Worth a Look
This book isn't going to provide you with any profound insights on the meaning of life.  It's a lighthearted, sweet romance that will make you laugh at some parts and cringe at others, but that ultimately left me smiling.  It's a great summer read, while lounging poolside or at the beach.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: From Ashes

From Ashes
When Cassidy Jameson's best friend Tyler took her to Texas with him when he left for college, she was expecting his cousin, their new roommate, to be a Stetson-wearing cowboy since his family owned a ranch; not this incredibly gorgeous guy with a husky Southern drawl that seemed to make the world stop whenever she looked at him. Because of her past, she's only ever trusted two men in her life, Tyler and her dad whom passed away when she was six. But there's something about Gage that draws her to him in a way she can't explain, only problem? He's always telling Tyler that he doesn't want Cassidy living there and sees her as nothing more than his little sister.

Gage Carson was excited his cousin Tyler was coming to live with, and go to college with him. When he'd called to ask if he could bring his friend Cassi with him, Gage didn't care. Gage had heard about this mysterious friend since they were kids and felt like he already knew her. Nothing would prepare him for watching her jump out of Ty's Jeep though. Not only was Cassi the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, but there was something about her that within seconds of meeting her, made Gage want to protect her, and make her his. Too bad Tyler made it a point to remind Gage on a daily basis that he was dating her and she was completely off limits.

For a year and a half, Gage and Cassidy dance around their feelings for each other as Tyler continues to keep them apart; until one day Tyler unknowingly pushes her right into Gage's arms. With Tyler unable to keep lying to them, they finally start a relationship both have been craving since their first meeting. But when an accident and disaster sends her back to Tyler and California, will Cassidy be able to come face to face with the demons from her past to live a life she and Gage deserve; or will the fact that she once again ran to Tyler be the final push that ends Cassidy and Gage for good?

Recommended for ages 17+ due to sexual situations and language.

(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Publication Date: December 11, 2012

Kat's Review

I would like to start my review by saying that I like this book more than I liked Taking Chances.  I wanted to like that book, but it just wasn't for me.  From Ashes had a more likeable main character in Cassidy, which helped a lot.  I also didn't mind Gage, which is good because this is a dual point of view book, so readers are living in both their heads throughout the book.  The story starts off pretty straightforward: Cassidy is an abused child who takes solace in Tyler, her best friend.  When Tyler leaves for college, he sneaks her away from her home to go with him.  They move in with his cousin, Gage, and voilà, a love triangle is born.  It's not your typical love triangle, though.  Cassidy loves Gage and Gage loves Cassidy, but Tyler loves (or so he says) Cassidy and spends the majority of the book trying to sabotage anything between them.  Cassidy and Gage spend the majority of the book trying to overcome the obstacles that keep getting thrown in their way.  In a nutshell.

There are a few things I liked about the story.  Cassidy and Gage's feelings for each other.  While they fell a bit too fast for my liking, the attraction between them was well written and neither wavered in how they felt about the other.  While I didn't like Tyler and his manipulation of Cassidy, I don't think it was unrealistic to portray their relationship as one of dependence.  Cassidy had always relied on Tyler to save her, and she felt she owed him something (although it's messed up, I think it's a pretty common feeling to have when you think someone has repeatedly saved your life.)  He took advantage of that and manipulated her to serve his ends.  In terms of a love story, there is definitely love between Cassidy and Gage.

There are some things I didn't like.  I think the book was longer than necessary, like Taking Chances.  I also found Tyler's character to swing too far one way only to swing entirely another.  I also thought the involvement of the detective to be an unnecessary addition, and actually made me like the main character a little less for a while.  There were too many obstacles thrown in their path, and the pacing was a little weird.  The story jumps around a lot, at one point jumping several months in one go.  That was a bit frustrating. 

Rating: Worth a Look

I almost gave this a heavy page turner rating but changed my mind because although there was a lot I didn't buy into, I can definitely see the appeal of this book to those who like their romances complicated with a dose of Southern rancher and a happily ever after.  I think this book is much better than Taking Chances, so if you liked that book, you'll probably enjoy this one even more.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3)

Beautiful Chaos
(Caster Chronicles #3)
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home from the Great Barrier, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected -- and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What -- or who -- will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it's not Lena -- and the mysterious figure is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself -- forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and he's afraid to ask.

Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 12, 2012
Kat's Review
This story picks up with the world order having been broken when Lena claimed herself as both Light and Dark.  The scorching heat is drying up the crops and swarms of locusts are eating everything in sight.  Nothing is as it should be, and Ethan and Lena set out to figure out how to put things right.  We start to see the consequences in everyone's lives: the Casters are having trouble controlling their powers, Ridley disappears, Amma begins meddling with Dark forces, the Sisters are torn apart, and Marian is accused of treason.  For starters. 
I feel like I have to qualify this review by saying that this was my least favourite book in the series so far.  I still really liked it, but I felt it was longer than it needed to be, and that sometimes the plot got away from the important aspects of the story.  I also had the big secret figured out pretty early on, so much off the searching and wondering just kind of seemed pointless after that. 
However, all of the things that I love about this series were still there.  The world that is Gatlin never ceases to entertain me, and the cast of characters remain as colourful as ever, if a bit predictable after three books.  This book involved the Mortals more than the previous ones did, highlighting the importance of their various roles and showing how intertwined the Caster and Mortal worlds have become.  It's no longer just about how Ethan and Lena are going to find a way to be together, but about how so many people are connected in a variety of ways. 
As I mentioned earlier, I kind of had the twist figured out, so the ending didn't surprise me.  It did tug at my heartstrings though.  One of the things these authors do best is create relationships that are complex and messy and that feel real, so it's not surprising that they elicit real emotions from the reader when something happens to one of them. 
Rating: A Good Read
Unlike the other books, I didn't find this one all consuming, but it is still a really good read, better than many books out there.  I still love this series, and I've already started the last book.  If you haven't started reading The Caster Chronicles already, I urge you to start. 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Crossing the Line (Pushing the Limits #1.5)
Katie McGarry captivated readers with her “riveting, emotional” Young Adult debut, Pushing the Limits. In this gripping novella, she tells the story of Lila and Lincoln, who discover that sometimes it’s worth crossing the line for love…

Lila McCormick, Echo's best friend from Pushing the Limits, first met Lincoln Turner when tragedy struck both their lives. But she never expected their surprise encounter would lead to two years of exchanging letters—or that she’d fall for the boy she’s only seen once. Their relationship is a secret, but Lila feels closer to Lincoln than anyone else. Until she finds out that he lied to her about the one thing she depended on him for the most.

Hurting Lila is the last thing Lincoln wanted. For two years, her letters have been the only thing getting him through the day. Admitting his feelings would cross a line he’s never dared breach before. But Lincoln will do whatever it takes to fix his mistakes, earn Lila’s forgiveness—and finally win a chance to be with the girl he loves.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
This is a novella, not a novel, and I think it will only be released as an ebook, but I'm still looking forward to reading it.  I loved Pushing the Limits, and was lucky enough to be able to read an advanced copy of Dare You To, which was also great.  Since I've enjoyed everything else that Katie McGarry has put out, I have high hopes for this one as well.  A quick read, but it promises to be a good one! 
What are you waiting on?  Let me know in the comments!

Kat's Book Buzz is now on Bloglovin

With all the talk about Google Reader shutting down, I've added my blog to Bloglovin'.  The service can instantly add all the blogs you currently follow on Google.  I still love having new followes on Google Friend Connect, which for the time being is still available, but if you're making the switch to Bloglovin', or you've been there a while, I would love for you to follow my blog there as well.

Thank you!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Book Buzz (5)

A new week, a new round up of news from the book world!

Kelley Armstrong will be at Chapters Brampton on March 30th.  Her newest release, The Rising, will be on sale before the official release date of April 2nd. 

Winners of the CBC Short Story Prize will be announced on March 26th.  Read the finalists here.

Jane Goodall's latest book has been postponed.  Publisher's Weekly has all the details.

Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is remembered in Quill and Quire.

Open Book Toronto has a whole list of literary events happening around Toronto this week.

Have some news or an event you would like listed on Monday Book Buzz?  Send me a message at

Review: Pretty Dark Nothing

Pretty Dark Nothing
It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Kat's Review

This novel has a cool premise.  The main character, Quinn, is being plagued by demons infiltrating her mind and influencing her actions.  Despite her best efforts to fight them off, they get closer and closer, causing her to have nightmares and visions that are terrifying and making her behave in strange ways.  She's recovering from the loss of her father, who moved out to start a new life and family, as well as the loss of her boyfriend of four years, who mysteriously broke up with her after going on vacation with his family over the summer.  She spends her days fantasizing about getting back together, even while watching him date another girl at school. 

This is where Aaron comes in.  Aaron is the new guy with a mysterious past, who feels a connection to Quinn that he can't explain.  He's dealing with his own demons; the loss of his mother and sister in a car accident, the same accident that killed him, only to be revived by paramedics.  He came back to life unable to remember anything about his past, and with a new ability- he can read the minds of those he touches.  Only, Aaron finds that his connection with Quinn runs deeper than that; they have the ability to connect even while far apart. 

This book is part paranormal thriller, part high school romance.  I liked the character of Quinn well enough, except when it came to her inability to let Jeff, her ex, go, even after starting a relationship with Aaron.  Her devotion to Jeff made sense in the beginning, but not closer to the end, even despite the urging of the demons to take him back.  The supporting characters were fun and well drawn, and the author did a good job of  showing Quinn's behaviour from the view of outsiders who didn't know what was really going on. 

My biggest complaint with the book is the ending.  Quinn takes off from the school dance and is urged by the demon in her mind to do something crazy.  When Aaron shows up to save her, there is a big long section that explains his role in Quinn's life.  It felt like one long info dump that came out of nowhere.  There was never any real hint of Aaron's true role outside of his psychic ability earlier in the text, and it felt like too much, too fast, but not soon enough.  It's the one thing I really disliked about the book.  The whole section was confusing, and I had to read it twice to wrap my head around it.  It does set up the sequel quite nicely, but I didn't feel like it matched the rest of the book.

Other than that complaint, I really enjoyed the novel and thought it was well written and unique. 

Rating: A Good Read

I will qualify the rating by saying that it's a good read except for the part at the end.  I was able to get past the confusing info dump and still really like the book despite it, but others may not be able to.  It would be a shame to let that stop you from reading this one, because I really did enjoy most of the story.  Looking forward to the sequel.  Perhaps everything will be cleared up!

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley & Month9Books in exchange for an honest review.

 Purchase from Amazon US Pretty Dark Nothing

Purchase from Amazon Canada Pretty Dark Nothing

Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: The Collector (Dante Walker #1)

The Collector (Dante Walker #1)
He makes good girls...bad.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: April 2, 2013

Kat's Review

This book is so much fun I don't even know where to start.  The story is told in the first person from Dante's point of view and he is hilarious.  Listening to his inner dialogue made me laugh out loud at times, and watching him navigate the world of his assigned mark was endlessly entertaining.  Charlie is everything that Dante has no idea how to handle: plain, nerdy, kind, funny and despite not being popular, has two best friends who would do anything for her.  She suffered through tragedy in her childhood, and instead of coming out bitter and angry, she came through grateful, happy, and more determined than ever to help others.

Dante doesn't stand a chance.

The book isn't all sarcasm and laughs, though.  There is a complete story arc here, following Charlie's transformation as well as Dante's.  Charlie has everything she could ever wish for dangled in front of her, and Dante works hard to break down her defences, to chip away at her confidence, until she begins to doubt herself.  She begins to change, and Dante is startled to find himself conflicted about those changes. As he struggles to bring in her soul by the deadline, he also begins questioning why her particular soul is so important in the first place.  He's stunned by what he discovers, and he begins to question everything.  Including his loyalties. 

I try not to give away spoilers in my reviews, so I won't, except to say that Charlie affects Dante in ways he didn't think possible.  As the deadline winds down, he finds himself forced to make some difficult choices.  He's also forced to face some personal truths that he has been avoiding. 

As I said earlier, this book is a fun ride.  Dante is a snarky, sexy main character who is more complex than even he believes himself to be, and Charlie is a force of nature wrapped up in an unassuming package.  The supporting characters run the gamut from human best friends, to fellow collectors, and even a liberator, Heaven's equivalent of a collector.  Everyone has their sights set on Charlie, for different reasons, and no one is sure who they can trust.  For the reader, it's one satisfying ride. 

Rating: A Good Read

This book is certainly worth spending some time with.  It's got a great cast of characters and a story that takes the familiar concept of angels and demons and puts an original spin on it, including a twist at the end.  I liked Charlie as much as I liked Dante, and although there are some messages here, they didn't feel preachy or over the top.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.  A recommended read.

I was provided a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Purchase from Amazon US 

Purchase from Amazon CA

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)
Taken from back cover:
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.

A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 19, 2013
Kat's Review
I'm a big fan of Cassandra Clare's books, and the final book in the Infernal Devices trilogy doesn't disappoint.  All the key players come together under the roof of the London Institute and find themselves fighting Mortmain, the man who would take down the Shadowhunters.  Tessa and Jem are planning a wedding despite Jem's failing health, Will is trying to hide his love for Tessa, Charlotte is being threatened with removal as leader of the Institute, and Gideon and Gabriel Lightwood are dealing with the aftermath of losing their father. 
A lot goes down in this book. 
Focusing on the minute details of the plot is kind of pointless, though.  The bigger story here is about love, loyalties, and sacrifice.  It's about doing what's right, even when there doesn't seem to be a right answer to your problems.  The love triangle between Tessa, Jem and Will comes to a head in this book.  I have to first say that I am not a fan of love triangles.  This is one of the few that I feel is done well, and not reduced to trite, jealous back and forth bickering between characters or selfish behaviour that results in one character taking advantage of the other two.  It's well written, with a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful and satisfying conclusion. 
This book reduced me to tears several times.  The ugly kind.  The relationships are what drive this series, and those relationships are written so well that I really cared about what happened to the characters.  Besides romantic relationships, Cassandra Clare is an expert at writing relationships between friends, particularly males.  There is so much love between Will and Jem, yet there is no sense of embarrassment, or awkwardness in the telling of it.  That kind of friendship, the kind that runs so deep it touches the soul, is so often absent among male characters in novels, but flows so naturally in her books.  In fact, it was a particular scene between these two characters that made me cry the hardest.  
If you have not yet started these books, I highly recommend it.  They are set in the past, but the story and characters feel very modern.  I'm sad to see this series end, but this book really did close the door on it in a satisfying way.  
Rating: All Consuming
There's not much to say here that hasn't been said already.  This series has action and friendship, intrigue and mystery, romance and heartbreak.  It is suitable for teens and adults, males and females.  This series will stand the test of time. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Taking Chances (Taking Chances #1)

Taking Chances (Taking Chances #1)
Eighteen year old Harper has grown up under her career Marine of a father's thumb. Ready to live life her own way and experience things she's only ever heard of from the jarheads in her father's unit; she's on her way to college at San Diego State University.

Thanks to her new roommate, Harper is introduced to a world of parties, gorgeous guys, family and emotions. Some she wasn't expecting yet, and others she never knew she was missing.

She finds herself being torn in two as she quickly falls in love with her boyfriend Brandon, and her roommate's brother Chase. Covered in tattoos, known for fighting in the Underground and ridiculously muscled...they're exactly what she was always warned to stay away from, but just what she needs. Despite their dangerous looks and histories, both adore and would do anything for Harper, including stepping back if it means she's happy.

Her first year away is turning out to be near perfect, but one weekend of giving in to heated passion will change everything.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Kat's Review
This book started out fun.  The main character moves away from her strict, military father to gain some independence and make some friends in college.  She has been sheltered her entire life, and when she moves in with her outgoing roommate Bree, her social prospects pick up.  She undergoes a makeover of sorts and begins accompanying her roommate to parties.  She meets Bree's brother, Chase, as well as another guy, Brandon. 
Chase is the typical bad boy: tattoos, user of women, underground fighter.  He has a reputation with women and never lets them sleep in his bed.  Somehow, he falls in love with Harper at first sight, and vows to completely change his ways to deserve her.  At the same time, Harper starts dating Brandon, a fighter as well, but less of a bad boy.  He treats Harper well and is willing to wait for her to be ready to sleep with him.  Unfortunately, she sleeps with Chase instead and gets pregnant.
This was where I began to get frustrated with the story.  The love triangle part didn't ruin it for me, because people make mistakes, even mistakes that don't make much sense to me.  It's much of what happened next that was a bit too far flung for me to buy into.  No one seemed particularly upset by the pregnancy except for Brandon (obviously), but then when something tragic happens, Brandon comes back into the picture, all mistakes forgiven. 
Harper's character was too wishy washy for me.  I never truly bought into her feelings for anyone, because they went back and forth too much.  Also, her behaviour rarely had negative consequences, and she seemed to be universally adored by everyone.  Perhaps if there had been stronger consequences (I don't mean the tragedy, I mean actual fallout from the cheating and the pregnancy) then I could have gotten more into the story.
Rating: Heavy Page Turner
Judging by the rating on Goodreads, I seem to be in the minority here.  Chase is the quintessential bad boy who gets tamed by the love of his life, and Brandon is the nice guy who is willing to sacrifice all for the woman he loves.  I can see the appeal of this book.  If you like a love story with a twist and a happy ever after, you might enjoy this this book.  It just wasn't for me.
Purchase on Amazon

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My Waiting on Wednesday pick for this week:
Spirit (Elemental #3)
With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: K Teen
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
I've made no secret of my love for this series, and I am waiting impatiently for this book to be released.  If you haven't had the chance to start the Elemental series yet, there's plenty of time to get caught up before May!
What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2)

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2)
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: October 12,

Kat's Review

Every now and then a series comes along that breaks the mold.  I feel like this is one of those series, and I'm kicking myself for not having jumped on these books when they were first released.  The writing is beautiful, the setting is atmospheric, and the characters are so complex and intriguing that I just can't put these books down. 

After the horrific events that ended the last book, in which Lena loses her beloved Uncle but manages to put off having to choose between light and dark, we begin this book to find Lena suffering the loss of her Uncle and feeling enormous guilt at having caused his death.  Her guilt and internal turmoil are so strong that she is pushing Ethan away, and he feels their relationship crumbling.  Rather than holding onto him for support, Lena is doing everything in her power to break the connection.

When Ethan goes on a quest to help Lena, he is introduced to Liv, the British girl studying at the library to be a guardian of Caster secrets.  The more Lena pushes Ethan away, the closer he gets to Liv, and he begins to wonder what life would be like with a normal girl, a girl without powers that would kill him if he got too close.  At first I didn't like this angle, but the more I read, the more it made sense.  His relationship with Lena was so complicated, so difficult, that it would be normal for a teenage boy to wonder if it's all worth it.  Ethan is committed to helping Lena though, and along with Liv and Link, he sets out to find her. 

I honestly love just about everything in these books.  I love that the characters are more complicated than they appear to be at first glance.  I love that relationships run deep and loyalties mean something.  I love that the line between good and evil, light and dark, is blurry.  That people can make unexpected choices and go against their nature.  I also really admire the way each book has a complete story arc, yet ends in a way that makes me want to dive into the next book immediately.

Rating: All Consuming

When I read this book, I didn't want to do anything else.  I thought about it when I wasn't reading it, and stayed up late to read just one more chapter, until one more chapter turned into three or four more chapters.  If you haven't started this series, I highly recommend it. 

Review: Off Sides

Off Sides
“I'm not sure what possessed me to do it. Maybe it was the impossible expectations I faced, maybe it was my own self-loathing. But I just knew I needed something different to happen. I needed derail me from my current path. Otherwise, I would become lost...a hollowed out shell of a man. So I did it. I approached her, then I pursued her, then I made her mine. And my life was saved...”

Ryan Burnham is the privileged son of a U.S. Congressman and captain of his university’s hockey team. While he is on the verge of fulfilling his dreams to play in the NHL, his parents want him on a different course. One he is expected to accept for the sake of his family’s public image.

Forced her to abandon her music career after the heart breaking death of her parents, Danny Cross exists on the opposite side of the tracks from Ryan. She is struggling to make her own way, working two jobs, attending college part time and volunteering in a homeless shelter. She is on a mission to build her own success.

With a chance meeting, their vastly different worlds collide, causing each to evaluate whether they are truly on the correct path to self-fulfillment and happiness. Can their relationship survive? Particularly when others are against them every step of the way. A lot can happen in just ten short days...
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Big Dog Publishing
Publication Date: February 21, 2013
Kat's Review
This is a short novella about two college kids from different sides of the tracks who fall in love and try to make it work.  Rich, privileged Ryan and working class Danny.  They meet at the diner where Danny works to help pay her college bills, and Ryan can't stop thinking about her.  Despite his misgivings, he asks her on a date and they click, but Ryan panics because he's worried about how the people in his life will treat her if they start a relationship. 
There are several things I liked about this book.  Danny is smart and tough, but she is not a victim, despite the hardships she faces.  She sacrificed her music education to help pay for her mom's medical treatments, and she made practical decisions in order to stay in college and make ends meet.  She's independent and isn't intimidated by Ryan or his world.  Ryan is a nice guy, who is able to think for himself.  I was worried at the beginning, when he doesn't call her for a few days, that he would be playing the "I love her so much but I'm embarrassed of her card" that I was relieved when he didn't.    He treats  her well, and their personalities complement each other.  It was nice to see a college guy depicted in the book as a normal, everyday guy.  Not a womanizer, not an overly violent douche who tries to control his girlfriend because he "loves her so much he can't stand to have anyone else even look at her," just a guy who falls for a girl from a different social circle and tries to find a way to make it work.
There are a few things I wish had happened differently.  Ten days is plenty of time to make a great connection with someone and decide that you want more, but their relationship went from zero to you're the love of my life in that time span.  It would have been more realistic to me if the timing had been spread out a bit.  Also, without giving away spoilers, the big thing that happens that makes Ryan's mom step in and try to end the relationship was a bit over the top.  I can't say more than that without giving anything away.  Also, I thought the ending was cute, but kind of cliché.  Again, that's all I can spill without spilling anything significant.
Rating: Worth a Look
This book has some great elements, as well as some parts that weren't for me.  Overall, it's a short, quick read with an interesting premise and likeable main characters.  Danny is a strong woman, and Ryan is a nice guy.  If you like the New Adult genre, this novella is a cute addition.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2)

Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2)
Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: October 1, 2012

Kat's Review

I borrowed this book from the library as soon as I saw it because I read Chasing Jordan and liked it.  Miranda Kenneally writes female characters that are athletes, while still making them attractive to boys despite not fitting into the typical female stereotype.  Any time the typical female stereotype is broken in fiction, I'm a fan.  In this book, Parker is a softball player who gives up on the sport and tries to reinvent herself in an attempt to distance herself from her mother and the scandal that her mother caused when she left town.

I have to be upfront about a few things here, although that may mean giving away some slight spoilers.  I'm not generally a reader of Christian fiction, but there is a lot of religion in this book.  I was fine with it, because I thought it was suited to the story, but if that's the type of thing that bugs you, this might not be the book for you.  The main character is a devout Christian who finds herself questioning her faith after her mother leaves their family to move in with someone new.  The book also deals with issues of sexuality and includes an inappropriate student teacher relationship.  Again, if those topics offend you within the context of a novel written about a Christian main character, read something else. 

Those issues didn't bother me, and I liked the book, although I liked Chasing Jordan better. The biggest issue I had concerns the teacher-student relationship, and since I don't want to give away too many spoilers, I will sum it up by saying that I wish the teacher had been forced to take more responsibility for his actions.  I don't attend a church like the one that Parker attends, although I know people who do, and the church often the centre of their social universe.  When that social circle turns on you, it can be devastating.  This book delves a little bit into what it can be like to have that happen. 

Rating: Worth a Look

As I said earlier in the review, I liked Chasing Jordan better, but still enjoyed this book.  The religious overtones are much stronger in this book than the last, and that will either make some people like it even more, or turn others off completely.  I like this author, though, and so I think everything she writes will be at least worth a look.

Purchase at Amazon US Stealing Parker

Purchase at Amazon Canada Stealing Parker: Catching Jordan Series, Book 2

Monday Book Buzz (4)

Good morning and Happy Monday!  I hope everyone is recovering from their St. Paddy's day celebrations.  Here a few items of interest in the book world this week.

Chapters/Indigo has the first chapter of Dan Brown's new book Inferno available to read on their website.

Book deals for the week of March 18th, from Publisher's Weekly.

Canada's Federal Librarians express concern over a new code of conduct.

An opinion piece on Joan Didion's Salvador, first published 30 years ago and still relevant today. 

Andrew Piper talks The Demonologist on the CBC.

The New York Times talks about Salt, Sugar, Fat.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2)

Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2)
Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he's invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Kat's Review
This is the companion novel to Beautiful Disaster.  It's not a sequel, but rather a companion novel that tells the story of Travis and Abby from Travis' point of view.  Some of the key scenes from the first book are retold, but much of the book shows Travis when Abby isn't around, so we get to see his thoughts and actions when she's not there.  It throws his motivations into light in a way that wasn't possible when reading the book from Abby's perspective.  Interestingly, there's much less violence in this book than the last.  Many of those scenes are skipped entirely or simply mentioned in passing when Travis laments his inability to control his temper. 
In my review of Beautiful Disaster, I outlined in detail the concerns I had with Travis and his obsessive, violent behaviour.  In this book, we get a chance to see what drives him to behave the way  he does, and how much he desperately wants to change.  Abby was the catalyst for him wanting to be a better man, but I still think that placing that kind of pressure on one person is unhealthy.  Travis needed to seek help for his anger management and deal with it on his own.  I will admit that I walked away from this book liking his character more than I had after reading the first.  I also like the glimpse into his family.  Since the author will be writing more books, one about each of his brothers, or so I hear, it was nice to get to know them better. 
What I find unrealistic and perhaps a bit cliché is the whole "I treat every woman like crap except for the woman I love" bit.  I see the appeal of thinking that you are the exception, that your love has changed a man.  Honestly though, I don't want to date a guy who treats every woman with no respect, regardless of how he treats me.  I'm not a prude and I have no issues with guys who hook up with women for consensual sex, but the out and out dismissal of these women as sluts who are unworthy of respect says a lot about the way he looks at women in general.  In real life, that's a warning sign, not romantic.
That being said, I think I liked this book better than the first.  Travis is brash and volatile, but the voice of his character is more authentic than I found Abby's to be.  He's not trying to hide anything, and he certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.  If you enjoyed the first book, I don't think this one will disappoint.  Again, I think the story was too long and could have wrapped up about 100 pages before it did, but for die hard fans, it could probably never be long enough. 
Rating:  Worth a Look
It doesn't really matter what rating I give the book because if you're a fan of the first, you'll go out to get the companion novel, and I actually think it's worth it.  For Travis fans, this book gives you a great glimpse into his thoughts and emotions.  If you're not a fan, well, this book isn't going to change your mind.  It's more of Travis, only this time unfiltered. 
I was provided a complimentary copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.