Review: Dark Parties by Sara Grant

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Book: Dark Parties
Author: Sara Grant
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 3, 2011
Source: ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours

Summary: (from Goodreads) Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield “protects” them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there’s nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says…

Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a “dark party” to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she’s ever known, including the people she loves the most.

First impressions: If you have any question about the title, it gets answered in the very first scene. Neva is literally stumbling around in a “dark party” where kids make out in homemade sensory deprivation chambers. It’s the starting ground for her mini rebellion with her best friend, Sanna, and sets up a dark world indeed.

Lasting impressions: A solid entry into YA dystopian. I found the world believable and Neva appropriately rebellious and ballsy.

Conflicting impressions: I didn’t feel the fear as much as I could have. The fact that Neva’s high-ranking father can whisk her away from the big bad government meant I wasn’t ever truly nervous that anything awful could happen to her.

Overall impressions: Man I love dystopians, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Neva lives in a world where people, and increasingly, young girls, are disappearing. In the Protectosphere, they are taught that the world outside has deteriorated to nothing. Their society has remained enclosed in this small area for so long that people are starting to look the same, and disease is ravaging the life expectancy rates.

Neva is the daughter of the Minister of Ancient History, and has some privileges as a result. When she rebels against the government and the Protectosphere, she gets questioned but ultimately released to dad’s custody. Not so for her boyfriend Ethan, who gets strapped with a subdermal tracking device and receives the scare of his life. Along for the ride is Neva’s best friend, Sanna, and Sanna’s new boyfriend Braydon.

At the dark party in the opening scene, Braydon kisses Neva, unbeknownst to Sanna. This starts a cycle of confusing feelings and the struggle to not want what she so obviously wants so bad. Braydon likewise shows an interest in Neva, but won’t back off Sanna. Stuck on the sidelines is Ethan, who wants to marry Neva and start a family.

Neva knows something is not right in the Protectosphere, and suspicions planted by her now missing grandmother are becoming entrenched in her mind. She uses a position at her dad’s division to try and find out what is happening to the young girls that keep getting wiped from society without a trace. She dutifully records their names in a secret journal, desperate to not forget them.

I was totally sucked in to this story. Neva is bright, impulsive, and loyal to her friends if not her government. Above all, she wants to do the right thing and find justice for the missing, even if that means breaking the rules. When her nearest and dearest succumb to the worst of circumstances, she does all she can to right her wrongs. She is stuck between two boys and her best friend, and no matter which way she decides, she’s hurting someone.

The action moves briskly, and though the ending was a bit abrupt and ultimately predictable, there were some nice twists and turns along the way. I loved the idea of the Protectosphere – a place the authorities tried to shelter its citizens from the toxic world, but ended up creating even more toxicity within its walls. Though the world didn’t come off as scary as I think was intended, there was plenty of tension within the scenes to keep me flipping pages as fast as I could.

Very highly recommended to dystopian fans, or anyone who appreciates their rebellious side.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

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Summer Book Exchange: Thank You Baggins!

Last week marked the official start of Ruby’s Reads‘ Summer Book Exchange. When Ruby first announced this secret Santa book exchange for the summer months, I signed up immediately. Giving gifts is one of my favorite things to do, and getting something in return is even more awesome! Each participant gave a book and received a book (two different people)picked from public wishlists. I had a lot of fun looking at my exchangee’s wishlist!

My gifter was Baggins’s Book Blabber!

Yesterday I received my book – Clockwork Angel, which I am beyond excited to read. And yes, part of the reason I wanted this was for the beautiful cover…

HUGE, ENORMOUS THANK YOUS to Baggins’s Book Blabber for sending me this gorgeous book that I now get to read in time for the sequel, out this fall! You’re the best!

If you’re feeling left out (which, frankly, you should), never fear! The book exchange will be back this fall!

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Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

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Book: Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: June 28, 2011
Source: ARC received from NetGalley

Summary: (from Goodreads) What’s a girl to do when meeting The One means she’s cursed to die a horrible death?

Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to â?? Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives â?? visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

First impressions: Emma is immediately likable. I loved her smooth demeanor in the face of anxiety-inducing situations. In the first few pages she’s on her way to a brand new school, assigned a basement locker (the lowest of the low in status), and facing down catty remarks from the mean girl. Her response is to put the girl in her place, trust her instincts, and soldier on. Awesome.

Lasting impressions: That cool demeanor served her well in the end, and I was so disappointed that there weren’t 100 more pages after the final scene. Emma is one of my favorite characters of 2011. Can she be my new best friend?

Conflicting impressions: There were a couple of things that seemed under-developed. Her scar and the car accident were mentioned a few times, and seemed like they should be important, but didn’t really affect the story. Likewise, her potential as a witch didn’t quite get there the way I would have liked.

Overall impressions: I’m going to admit this up front: the pacing is a bit slow. And yet, I loved this book. This only goes to show that for every rule, there is an exception.

In this story, Emma moves to New York City to live with her aunt after her deadbeat drunk of a stepdad manages to wreck the car and leave her with a nasty scar on her arm. Her mom and twin brother are dead (from different circumstances), which creates an overly complicated back story. Emma basically picks up the remaining shreds of her life and moves with hardly any of her belongings, save for some essentials and a unique necklace she received from her brother before he died.

The opposing forces she walks into at her new private school are intense. The resident blonde, perfect popular kids are mean; the quiet, smoking hot dude is nice. Emma picks up a couple of other friends along the way that tow the middle line and keep the story from veering into cliche territory. Her necklace garners some interest right away from Brendan (resident hottie) and Angelique (resident weirdo witch girl).

Emma feels way too attracted to Brendan. She’s not sure what’s going on there. He comes on strong, but then cools off. When she finds a drawing of her necklace in his locker, she gets really intrigued. What’s with him? Or more importantly, what’s with her necklace?

With the help of Angelique, she tries to find out, and stumbles upon a pretty awesome legend that ties in to her dreams, Brendan, and the necklace. It appears that her growing feelings for Brendan will only lead to death. What’s a girl to do?

Emma, ever the calm and collected one, rises to every obstacle in her path. This was the main reason I loved her so much. Whether it’s telling off the mean kids, outrunning mysterious events in Central Park, or simply dealing with drunk kids at a party, she’s got it under control. She flirts easily with Brendan, and I could really relate to her trying to read something into his every move. Is he really putting his hand on my back or just resting it on the bar?

C’mon. Who hasn’t been there?

This is one of those books where I can see the flaws other people find with it, but my love for the characters made this a favorite for me. I didn’t mind the complications, and could overlook some parts where details were a bit glossed over. I just wanted to read about Emma and Brendan and see if they could find a way to make it work. Their attraction seemed honest and real, and Brendan is to-die-for lovely.

The rumor is that a sequel is on the way, so I’m hoping that I get more witchcraft in it, as it was one of the more interesting parts of the book, but didn’t take up much real estate. The NetGalley ARC included some extra pages told from Angelique’s perspective involving a new legend. I’m hoping that’s where the next book is headed!

This book was fun, swoon-worthy, and unlike anything I’ve read so far this year. I highly recommend it! It’s a contemporary tale with just a hint of paranormal and a kickass heroine. What’s not to love?

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system
Want more information on this fab book? Check out the Kismet blog tour happening right now!

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Review: When You Dare by Lori Foster

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Book: When You Dare
Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: HQN Books
Release date: April 26, 2011
Source: Purchased for Kindle
Series: Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) The tougher they are, the harder they fall . . .

Professional mercenary Dare Macintosh lives by one hard and fast rule: business should never be personal. If a cause appeals to him and the price is right, he’ll take the mission he’s offered. But then the lovely Molly Alexander asks him to help her track down the men who’d had her kidnappedâ??and for the first time, Dare’s tempted to combine work with pleasure.

Fiercely independent, Molly vows to trust no one until she’s uncovered the truth. Could the enemy be her powerful, estranged father? The ex-fiancé who still holds a grudge? Or the not-so-shy fan of her bestselling novels? As the danger heats up around them, the only anchor Molly has is Dare himself. But what she feels for him just might be the most frightening thing of all.

First impressions: Hello, pretty cover. I’d ask how you are, but I think it’s fairly obvious. You’re doing great. So what’s going on back there, behind your beautiful abs of awesome? No, you’re right. I don’t really care.

Lasting impressions: A smart, strong woman meets a smart, strong man and somehow both are surprised they fall in love. I’m all about the slow burn, but with this one I was snapping my fingers hoping they’d move it along. I gots thangs to do.

Conflicting impressions: Dare is a mercenary, and a lot of time is spent talking about his job or watching him protect Molly, but we get snubbed when it comes to actually seeing his dare I say, daring rescue? I could pun all day with this guy.

Overall impressions: It took me probably three weeks to get through this book. I would read a few chapters, put it down, then not ever really get the urge to pick it back up. I was on board with a handsome mercenary who rescues a young woman, then falls in love while trying to track down her kidnappers. If only that was the book I got.

Instead, I got a really boring but handsome rich dude who says he’s a killer mercenary but in reality is just dull and likes dogs. A LOT. He calls them “his girls” and I think that’s supposed to be cute but I thought it was weird. The author wanted to make us think he had daughters by using this vague phrase.

Yeah. We get it. Very clever.

The book starts after the main event, which annoyed me. Dare has just rescued this woman out of the goodness of his heart while actually in Mexico to rescue his friend’s sister from human traffickers. There was this extra American lying around so he just scooped her up and put her in the bin with the others. It’s a good thing Lori Foster doesn’t try to make Molly feel indebted to him for going out of his way to save her because that would be super extra annoying.

But no. Molly feels indebted not because Dare rescued her, but because she hasn’t paid him. She spends the rest of the book worrying about the expenses Dare is racking up in order to get her things like food, clothing, and shelter (the nerve!) and is so overly apologetic about being scared and seemingly weak that she drives Dare (and us) crazy.

The secret is that Dare doesn’t think she’s crazy for being scared. He thinks she’s actually handling things really well and is so impressed with how awesome and strong she is that he wants to smooch her. Instead of going all Moonstruck and slapping Molly while Cher-ily telling her to “Snap out of it!” he just dives in and plants a kiss on a shell-shocked recovering kidnapping victim who was beaten and starved in a Mexican shack for almost two weeks.

Surprisingly, Molly reacts by wondering if she can get some more of that smooching. That pain in your eye? That’s called an eyeroll sprain. You may want to go put some ice on that.

The single most frustrating part of this book was that despite the somewhat forgivable back-and-forth nature of the characters’ escalating feelings, the plot itself didn’t really go anywhere. We come in after the exciting rescue and then spend a few hundred pages watching Molly try to build her life back up to normal, then spend the last 50 pages finding out whodunnit and watching Dare take them down in a very brief scene. Where was the danger I was promised in the summary? I wanted way more action than I got, and was disappointed with how slowly the book moved.

Our main characters spent most of the book telling each other the same thing over and over again, highlighting their mutual admiration. “You’re perfect.” “No, you’re perfect.” “You’re so strong.” “No, you’re so strong.” “I secretly love you.” “No, I’m the one in love with you secretly.” Ad nauseam. If you can stomach the slow pace and just want to follow the romance, this is for you. If you’re looking for some excitement or surprises, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Want a different perspective? Read these well done reviews by Ruby’s Reads and The Unread Reader.

TGIF at GReads (1) and Weekly Recap

This Friday blog hop is run by Ginger at GReads! Each week she posts a question and we answer and recap our weeks. Click the button to join in!

This week’s question was too good to pass up. Ginger got a bunch of us So You Think You Can Dance fans tweet chatting (twittering? tweeting? chatting?) this week at #SYTYCDBloggers and when shortly after the results show she tweeted this week’s TGIF topic, I decided to join the cool kids’ table at Thanksgiving.

Summer Love: Where’s your ideal place to take a summer vacation & get lost in a book?

OH RIGHT. I did that already.

Okay, okay. So technically it wasn’t summer, but you wouldn’t have known it from the weather and view! Regular readers will recognize the pic I snapped from our resort balcony in Daytona Beach while attending a wedding back in March.

I spent an entire Saturday afternoon on that balcony by myself reading Wicked Lovely and sipping coffee and Diet Coke while dear husband was off doing his Best Man duties. I threw on comfy clothes, a bathrobe, and put my feet up. I got to listen to the ocean pounding without getting a sunburn.

Nobody complained that I wasn’t being social (I never am, which is somehow always a disappointment) and yet I could still glance up and see miles of beach and scan the pool below to spy on wave at friends.

I learned an important thing about my vacation needs from this trip. I need beaches and sunshine!

What’s your ideal vacation reading spot?

My weekly recap is inspired by the phenomenally talented, kind and generous Small Review. If you are not already following her, you are really missing out. Also, have I mentioned how much I love Cool Text? They’re the folks that allow me to make these cool (and simple) text buttons – for FREE!

If you’re a first time visitor, or just didn’t get the chance to stop by this week, here’s what you missed:

Point Counterpoint
Announcing a new feature! I’m recruiting anyone who wants to argue/discuss books with me.

Top Ten Tuesday
A list of the reasons I love book blogging.

Spring into Summer Readathon
My progress in a readathon on Friday and Saturday.

5/5 stars
Black Dagger Brotherhood Challenge and Book Club

FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater
3/5 stars
YA Series Challenge
Shifter Challenge

June Giveaway and Guest Post Announcements
I’m giving away a signed copy of DIVERGENT and a copy of CASCADE this month. I also did a guest post and am giving away a copy of WATCHERS by Dean Koontz as part of the My Favorite Things event at My Bookish Ways.

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

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Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

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Book: Forever
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: July 12, 2011
Source: ARC received for I Read Banned Books Tour
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3

Summary: (from Goodreads) In Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

First impressions: Man, Maggie Stiefvater sure is a gorgeous writer. She writes as if each word is carefully chosen, in this specific and beautiful way. I fell into the rhythm of this book very easily, and it took me right back into the world.

Lasting impressions: This was my favorite installment of the trilogy. Based on my so-so reactions to the first two, I wasn’t sure if this one would be any better. I wanted to see how the story ended, and ultimately I’m glad I read not only this book, but the whole series.

Conflicting impressions: I’ve come to accept that my problems with this series are ones of personal taste. I don’t think the way the parents were written out of the story came through for me the way Stiefvater intended. I also will never be able to tell the multiple narrators apart. I realize, though, that these things don’t bother most fans of this series.

Overall impressions: This one is certainly not vying for “special shelf” status. Grace’s relationship with her parents drives me bonkers. I can’t ever keep the narrators straight without double-checking the designation. The science of the wolves is overly complicated. Yet there’s something that has kept me reading all three books.

The writing style is very specific to Stiefvater. She is a master of prose, no doubt. She beautifully captures the isolation and cold of the Minnesota woods. I think she’s at her best when the scenes have a lot of internal conflict and are light on dialogue. When Sam is trying (still) to process his bathtub fears, for instance, or when Cole goes on another depressive bender. There’s an incredible scene with Grace in the woods in the middle of the book that is terrifying, and I was totally swept away by it.

But JEEZ-US! Sometimes I had no idea where the story was going or how much of the backstory I was supposed to have memorized. I tried finding a detailed recap anywhere online for Linger because for much of this book I just felt lost. Authors! It’s been a long time since your last book came out! You can’t really expect all of us to re-read the series each time, can you?

I remained frustrated with Grace’s parents in this book, although her mom tried to redeem herself. Mostly, though, they remain self-absorbed little shits (pardon my French) who show up when typical parents would be needed and disappear when it suits the story. They are just awful, and I get that that is the point, but then why is Grace so forgiving? Why does she even try to involve them anymore? I wish I could define that breaking point a little better, but since I can’t, this point goes woefully unresolved for me.

This book is made much more tolerable by the growth of Cole and Isabel. Cole takes over for Sam as Most Interesting Despairing Wolf, and Isabel shows much more depth of feeling and introspection than ever before. I loved Isabel in this book. She showed why she is the way she is and so I understood her much more. Why didn’t we get more of this before this book?

Despite my personal hang-ups toward the book, it resolved the Mercy Falls story adequately enough. It had some major shockers toward the end, and though it teases us with a few twists, I’m not angry that this is the end of these characters’ stories. I can let my imagination fill in the blanks.

I definitely recommend this one to fans of the series, but for anyone on the fence, I’d say this book makes the trilogy worthwhile. If you have the free time, I think it would be best to knock them all out in a row so you stay invested and caught up in the action. I also recommend them in the summer, because reading these cold, depressing books in the middle of a cold, depressing winter does not make for an enjoyable reading experience. Should you choose to ignore me, I will not be held accountable for any side effects you suffer.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system
Interested in reading my reviews for the rest of the series? Click to read my reviews of Shiver and Linger.

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New Feature: Point Counterpoint

Have you ever finished a book and had such a strong reaction that you just had to talk it out with someone? Good or bad, writing the review just wasn’t enough for you?

Sometimes I just want to call up some blogger buddies and say “What gives? Why did you like this book so much and I didn’t?” Or vice versa, say “Are you crazy?! Why didn’t you love this book?”

I decided that in order to save my sanity, I needed to create a forum where I could trap a bloggy friend in one place and make them counter my arguments for a book’s genius or stupidity. I want to have a conversation where we can discuss the books that inspire or frustrate us and get the alternative perspective.

So I’m in the process of recruiting for my new Point Counterpoint feature!

Point Counterpoint button
Have you read one of my reviews and thought I was crazy? Do you disagree with my interpretation of a particular book? This is your opportunity to put me in my place!

It doesn’t have to be a love-hate discussion about an entire book. It could be a writing style, a genre, a plot element, or even just an argument calm discussion about pacing or age-appropriateness.

I want it all! I want someone to reach out and CHALLENGE me!

You can check out a list of the books I’ve reviewed, as well as search my reviews by rating, on my Review Index. You can also peruse my list of books read at Goodreads (and also be my friend!).

Do you have what it takes? Are you interested in flexing your typing fingers and engaging in some good old fashioned debate? Email me!

Have a suggestion for a debate you’d like to see? Leave me a comment, and if you know of a blogger who could take me on, point me to them!

Hit me up in the comments for any questions/concerns/fears/taunting. I’ll just be over here in the corner stretching and warming up.

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Top Ten Tuesday (1)

I love lists, so I’m excited to dip my toes in the listy fun that is Top Ten Tuesday. This meme is run by The Broke and the Bookish and each week they post a new list for us to complete and share.

Just post your own list, link back to The Broke and the Bookish, and add your link to the linky tool to participate!

Today they’re celebrating their blogoversary, so we’re all celebrating the Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger/Bookish Person!

1. Sharing my opinion. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it when people listen to and enjoy what I have to say. I love reading comments from people who actually care about what I wrote. Awesome!

2. Meeting new people. Though I don’t know any of you personally, I still consider many of you friends. I like having friends in all areas of the country and world, with all different backgrounds. I would never meet you without blogging!

3. Expanding my horizons. I love the exposure book blogging brings for new books. I can follow people who read totally different genres or who have different tastes in characters, plots, and themes. I love the variety.

4. Getting to know authors. The other benefit of online access is chatting with authors as well as book lovers.

5. Being a cheerleader. The best part about ARCs is that I get to be a part of the publicity machine. That is so much fun, especially when I love the book through and through.

6. Book recommendations. I finally have a place to go to get good book recommendations! I used to stumble blindly through libraries and bookstores. Now I know what I’m getting into before I even walk inside.

7. Publishing news. As a blogger, I feel like I have a direct line into book marketing and publicity, so I get the inside scoop on when covers and books are released.

8. The excuse to write. I love putting together blog posts, thinking about what I’m trying to communicate, and reading the finished product. It keeps me working my writing brain even if I’m not working on my fiction.

9. Memes. That said, sometimes I don’t want to have to think about what to write. Thank you, memes!

10. The excuse to read. More than anything, I love book blogging because I can read with a purpose. It’s not just about learning more about the market, or craft, or even reading for fun. I like that I read now not only to enjoy the book, but so I can talk about if afterward. It’s like a fun book club that happens every day!

What do you like about book blogging or being a book fan?

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Review and Book Club: Lover Awakened by J. R. Ward

Today I’m participating in Bookaholic Does Blogging’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Book Club for her BDB Challenge. Every month, in addition to reading one of the series’ books, I’ll be participating in her book club posts, so we can all gab about BDB and their muscley awesomeness.

Click the cover to purchase at Amazon
Book: Lover Awakened
Author: J. R. Ward
Publisher: Signet
Release date: September 5, 2006
Source: Bought for Kindle
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #3

Summary: (from Goodreads) A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion and terror his only passion-until he rescues a beautiful female from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for each other begins to overtake them, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past and find a future with her.

1. On a scale from 1-5, what would you rate this book? Briefly tell us why.

Five big fat stars! I don’t think I fully understood the BDB obsession until this book. Sure, the first two were entertaining and steamy and campy fun, but this one…whooooooie! Zsadist is a tortured and misunderstood soul, and at times I got so frustrated with all of the characters’ self-absorption and inability to see through the others’ facades that I wanted to scream, but the book is still immensely satisfying. I think I would almost recommend people read this one first, except that you do get some important backstory from the other two books. I bet I could catch someone up on the details around Z and Bella, though, and then staple them to a chair and watch them read this one. SO GOOD. You’re not moving until you finish it, I would say. *stares sternly*

2. Let’s talk about our feelings: reading about Zsadist’s past had me choked up and provoked some serious feelings towards him for me. What did you think when you read about his past?

Z’s past certainly explains a lot about his behavior, but I was surprised at how little Phury especially seemed to understand how that past impacted Z’s life. I didn’t fully buy that Phury would think that Z could hurt Bella. I mean, really? Z’s twin brother wouldn’t get that all of his cold fury and isolation and self-punishment was a front for self-loathing despair? He would really just assume that what he suffered turned him into a sociopathic woman hater? Nope. Don’t think so.

I thought Ward did a really nice job depicting what happened without being overly graphic. We don’t need to know all of the details, and she gave us the information without dwelling on it. I also felt that Z’s perspective on everything was well done and I really believed his experiences and how those shaped his self-image. Heart-breaking stuff.

3. Obviously, Zsadist came a long way as a person in this book. What do you think of the post-Bella Zsadist?

I was most happy about his change toward Phury. He seemed finally able to love him as a sibling and not just as this fellow warrior brother. I think faced with the enduring support of Phury and Bella showed Z that there are people willing to do anything for him and that he is worthy of their love and respect. I liked that his transformation was gradual and didn’t happen overnight. He grew and changed but at an appropriate pace considering his past. I loved watching that change happen.

I have to mention that I cried at the end when Bella interrupts Z and Mary and he shows her what he’s been working on. I hope that’s vague enough to not be a spoiler but specific enough that you who have read it know what I’m talking about. That moment kicked me in the gut and it was so sweet and beautiful that I couldn’t contain the tears. I can’t think of a single other urban fantasy or romance novel that touched me to the point of tears. Good stuff.

4. Phury has always gone to whatever lengths to protect his brother. What did you think of him shaving his head and heading to the movies to meet the lesser?

I’ve always had issues with Phury. Until that moment, I didn’t really see the depth of his sacrifice for Z. Sure, he’s celibate and does whatever he can for his brother, but it always seemed kind of doormat-y and pathetic instead of honorable. When he decides to shave his head and take a knife to his face, though, I got it. He’s not messing around. He seriously loves his twin, so my apologies Phury. I get it now.

5. With O gone, do you see the dynamics of the lesser society changing? How so?

H, O, U – they all seem fairly interchangeable to me. The lessers are kind of boring to me, and seem to only serve the function of creating some context for the Brotherhood and why they exist. It seems to me they don’t pose that big of a threat and considering they all seem completely off their rockers, I wind up dismissing them. In fact, I don’t really remember who is still alive – lessers were alive, then dead, then alive again, then dead again. Who is left?

***WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD***6. We found out that John is “Darius’ son.” I have a feeling he might just be the reincarnation of Darius himself — it’s reaching, I know. What are your thoughts on John as Darius’ son or, possibly, as Darius?

The problem with reading these so far apart is that I forget what happens in the interim. When Darius chose to come back, what were the terms the Scribe Virgin gave him? I don’t remember. I think there was something about him being unable to see his daughter, so I assume that’s why he passed out when meeting Beth, which makes me think he is Darius and not just his son. That would be a fun twist.


7. Book 4 will about Butch. Do you think that Butch’s book will be different from the first three books given that Butch is a human? Do you think Butch will remain a human?

I love Butch! Although at first I hated him because of his attitude toward Beth, I have come to love him. I laugh every time he talks about how beautiful the Brothers are, though. He’s so metrosexual and it seems so different from the tough guy cop routine of Book 1. He’s always entertaining, though, and I think he brings an interesting dynamic to the Brotherhood. Given what happened between him and Vishous at the end of this book, I’m curious to see what happens in Book 4!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Spring into Summer Readathon Updates

The Spring into Summer Readathon is here and I’m getting this party started! Over the next two days I’m going to be updating this post periodically with my status and participating in challenges and reports. Giveaways and mini-challenges run every two hours and I can’t wait to dive in. You can follow all the action on Twitter via the hashtag #SiSRead or get the details at Squeaky Books. And without further ado…

What do you hope to read during the read-a-thon?
I hope to tackle some of my review books and also take the time to read some books I’ve been putting on the back burner while finishing school. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of focusing too much attention on review copies and not breaking it up with stuff I actually want to read just for fun. It’s time to kick that to the curb!

What book are you starting with?
Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz. I started this on the train to work this morning and am LOVING it so far. I know it’s a review copy, but I can’t put this one down!

I hope to read:
At least three books, which seems doable, plus finish the two I’ve already started. I think it will depend on whether husband goes to work tomorrow and/or limits his intrusions.

Here are some of the titles I’m going to try to get through: SPELLBOUND by Cara Lynn Shultz; WHEN YOU DARE by Lori Foster; DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth; THE ESPRESSOLOGIST by Kristina Springer; VAMPIRE EMPIRE: THE GREYFRIAR by Clay and Susan Griffith; WILD CHILD by Mike Wells; OCTOBER GIRLS by L.C. Glazebrook; LEGACY by Cayla Kluver

Where are you going to read?
I’m reading from home. Not too exciting. I’ll probably vacillate between the couch and my bed.

What will you include in your updates?
Enna (Squeaky Books) has given us a standard for our updates, which I’m going to use as well. It covers books and pages read, as well as the time spent reading. Mine will have to be modified a bit for Kindle books that don’t have page counts, so for those I’ll use percentages.

Update: 5:00 p.m. CDT

I’m finishing up this post and then getting down to business!

Total books read: 0
Total pages read: 0
Books read since last update: 0
Pages read since last update: 0
Total time read: 0
How I’m currently feeling: Anxious! I hope I meet my goal. THE PRESSURE! I’m scrapping this mini-challenge attempt so I can get to reading already. I’ll check back in a few hours for the next challenge.

Update and Day 1 Report: 1:09 a.m. CDT

I majorly failed at day one. I was hoping to get through at least one whole book and I couldn’t make it happen. We had a big stressful morning at work and I’m now too sleepy to finish. I’m really loving SPELLBOUND, but I have to call it a night.

1. First of all, give us an end-of-day status update. Books read, pages read, you know the drill!

Total books read: 0
Total pages read: around 250 (65% done)
Books read since last update: 0
Pages read since last update: around 250
Total time read: 4 hours or so
How I’m currently feeling: Disappointed! Hopefully tomorrow I can get going and not be so easily distracted by Twitter.

What is the favorite thing you have read today?
Considering I’ve only read one book, I’d say SPELLBOUND.

Which mini-challenge was your favorite?
I haven’t participated in any, but my favorite to read was the picture puzzle challenge.

What has been your favorite thing about the read-a-thon?
Checking out the challenges and tweets. It’s nice to feel like this is a community effort.

What has been your LEAST favorite thing about the read-a-thon?
My inability to read quickly. I’m so into this book that I’m savoring it. This may have been a poor choice for a readathon after all, but I don’t have the strength to abandon it yet!

Are you on track to meet your goals?
Blech. No. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to focus/accomplish tomorrow, but I doubt very much that I’ll have the patience to read 5 books in one day.

Will you be participating tomorrow? Do you have any new goals?
Yes, I’ll be participating. I’ll probably unplug for large chunks so I can actually read without as many distractions. I think my new goal is to finish my current read and finish DIVERGENT. If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll try for one more.


Update: 11:30 a.m. CDT – Mini-challenge #7

Total books read: 1
Total pages read: 384
Books read since last update: 1
Pages read since last update: around 130
Total time read: 5.5 hours or so
How I’m currently feeling: I’m glad I at least got through one whole book. These are shameful times in the LET house, my friends. Seriously, could I read any slower? Doubtful.

Mini-challenge: Name one book you think should be taught in school, grade of your choice.
Shakespeare. Is that cheating? It’s really hard for me to pick just one, as I consider at least a handful of them required reading: Othello, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Merchant of Venice. Frankly, I think each of these contain life lessons worth some deep reflection. Nobody expresses the power of choice quite so poignantly as Shakespeare. Every action has a consequence, and our decisions (or indecision) impact the world in big ways.

I also happen to think that challenging students to discuss these themes while reading outside of their comfort zone is equally important. Language evolves, but the messages stay the same. Shakespeare can be understood, and this realization builds confidence in young readers. I read my first Shakespeare play in 8th grade, but I think students would be capable of better discussions in high school.

Sorry to get preachy, folks. Will’s my man.

Update: 7:00 p.m. CDT – Mini-challenge #11

Total books read: 2
Total pages read: 586
Books read since last update: 1
Pages read since last update: 202
Total time read: 8.5 hours or so
How I’m currently feeling: Despite the challenge of the readathon, I have been very unmotivated to speed through books. I feel better that I finished another (albeit short) book, but I think I’ve reached my capacity. Hubs turned on the Tony Awards from last week and I haven’t been able to really give my attention to DIVERGENT as a result. I think I might be done for the day.

Mini-challenge: If you could live in the world of one book, which would it be and why?
This is such a great question. I was going to say something historical, but I’m not sure I’d want to rough it without indoor plumbing and modern medicine. Instead, I’ll go with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Oh, to be young and in love in a snooty boarding school in Paris! Sign me up!