Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ARC Review: Smoke on the Water (Sisters of the Craft Book 3)

Title: Smoke on the Water (Sisters of the Craft) by Lori Handeland
Publisher: St. Martins Paperbacks
Format: advanced e-galley from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review
Pages:352 pages
Genre: paranormal romance

This book is due to be released August 4, 2015

Synopsis: Reunited after four hundred years, three sisters join together to vanquish the power that tore them apart…and embrace the sorcery that is their birthright.

Abandoned as an infant, Willow Black spent her childhood in foster care, the object of whispers and pity...and rumors about being certifiably crazy. Telling your young friends that you can foresee the future--and summon the rain--is a surefire way to end up in the psychiatric ward. But when Dr. Sebastian Frasier arrives at the facility, Willow's whole life takes a turn. Sebastian is the handsomest man she's ever actually laid eyes on--even though he has been in Willow's visions for years. But not even she could have predicted the storm of passion that engulfs them both. With Sebastian by her side, Willow is emboldened to embrace her history, and the sisters she never knew. Soon, the true power in her blood awakes--and the battle she was born to fight begins. While the temp est rages, Willow must depend on the friends and family she's found--and the man she has loved forever…

(48) Review: The beginning of this book takes place at this same time as book 2, Heat of the Moment, and gives you some insight into what Owen's mother was up to while he was off in Afghanistan and also how she kept appearing at different times to help Becca and her sister Raye.

Willow was found under a Black Willow tree but never adopted.  Her foster families all thought she was crazy when she didn't want to be near water or told them about things that hadn't happened and when they did they were just as Willow had described.

Even Willow thinks she is crazy but one patient, Mary, Owen's mother from book 2, is one of her friends in the facility.  Willow seems to be the only one who can calm Mary down and Mary thinks that Willow is the only one who can help her save the witches.  Seeing as they are both in a mental facility Willow just thinks Mary is nuts until weird things start to happen that make Willow rethink things.

You get the back story on Willow, how she got to the mental health facility and why her sisters can't find her, which is interesting.  Once the sisters are all reunited the story picks up as they try to banish Roland from the earth.  The story had a great ending and I only can hope that someday we will meet these characters again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Audio Book Review: Dirty Wings (Metamorphosis Trilogy Book 2)

Title: Dirty Wings by Sarah McCarry (Metamorphasis Trilogy Book 2)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Renata Friedman
Length: 6 hours 52 minutes
Genre: Sci Fi/Fantasy

Synopsis: Maia is a teenage piano prodigy and dutiful daughter, imprisoned in the oppressive silence of her adoptive parents' house like a princess in an ivory tower. Cass is a street rat, witch, and runaway, scraping by with her wits and her knack for a five-fingered discount. When a chance encounter brings the two girls together, an unlikely friendship blossoms that will soon change the course of both their lives. Cass springs Maia from the jail of the only world she's ever known, and Maia's only too happy to make a break for it.

But Cass didn't reckon on Jason, the hypnotic blue-eyed rocker who'd capture Maia's heart as soon as Cass set her free - and Cass isn't the only one who's noticed Maia's extraordinary gifts.

Is Cass strong enough to battle the ancient evil she's unwittingly awakened - or has she walked into a trap that will destroy everything she cares about?

In this time, like in any time, love is a dangerous game.

(47) Review: This book is actually a prequel to All Our Pretty Songs.  Dirty Wings is about the parents of Aurora and the narrator of the first book.

Maia is a gifted piano player who lives a sheltered life until she meets Cass, a street girl who teaches her how to speak her mind and steal what she needs to live.  Switching back and forth between "then" and "now" McCarry takes you from when Cass and Maia first meet to after they have run away together.

It was difficult to wrap my brain around this sheltered young talented girl being Aurora's mother, the tripped out junkie from All Our Pretty Songs, but you start to see how she got to that place and why Cass knew she needed to protect her daughter and why she tried to protect Aurora.

The same skeleton man from book 1 haunts Maia and her musician boyfriend that haunted Aurora in All Our Pretty Songs, only this time Cass tries to save her friend instead of her daughter.

McCarry's descriptions are still poetic, haunting and beautiful and Renata Friedman's narration is hypnotizing. This book is a beautiful addition to this trilogy but I was left a little stumped by the ending.  I realize that after reading the first book that we have an idea of how their lives turned out but this one just sort of ended leaving me a bit lost.

Monday, July 27, 2015

ARC Review: Awake

Title: Awake by Natasha Preston
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: advanced ebook from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 336 Pages
Genre: YA

This title is due to be released August 4, 2015

Synopsis: Of course, the dress was white. This is what I’m supposed to die in, I thought. Not many people knew what their last outfit would be. I pulled it over my head. It fit me perfectly. It had long, loose fitting sleeves, a modest neckline, and waves of material on the skirt. I hated it.

There were no shoes, and I was afraid I’d have to run through the forest barefoot but there weren’t a lot of options. Besides, I’d run barefoot over a bed of nails to get away.

“Scarlett, are you ready?” he called.

I looked in the mirror and took a deep breath. Time to fight for my life.

Scarlett Garner doesn’t remember anything before the age of four—until a car accident changes everything. She starts to remember pieces of a past that frighten her. A past her parents hid from her…and a secret that could get her killed.

(46) Review: I enjoyed this book.  It kept my attention, it moved fluidly, and the mystery was just enough to keep me going.  Did it have some flaws and issues? There were a few things that could be corrected with editing but honestly I got too wrapped up in the story and the disturbing reality that stuff like this really does happen to get too nit picky.

Scarlett doesn't remember anything before the age of four...then again how many of us actually do? This is one of those issues that some people had with this book and while I can see their point, it might have been better if she had been older when she lost her memory it didn't ruin the book for me.

Scarlett meets the new boy at school and starts having flashbacks to her past opening a Pandora's box of questions that aren't being answered to her satisfaction. Who is this girl she keeps dreaming of? Why is she dressed in white? How did the fire start that caused her to lose her memory? The answers to these questions are disturbing and leave Scarlett fighting for her life. Can she survive? Will the new boy Noah betray her? I don't want to give anything away but lets just say the story keeps the pages turning.

Sure the romance between Scarlett and Noah was quick and a bit unrealistic, but this is a YA mystery/romance so not sure what people expected.  Maybe in the hands of another writer this story could have taken a much more creepy disturbing thrill ride but I think this worked.  I haven't read any of Natasha Preston's other books so I have nothing to compare it to but Awake kept me turning pages and routing for the underdog.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Audio Book Review: All our Pretty Songs (Metamorphosis Trilogy, Book 1)

Title: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
Publisher: Audible Studios
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Renata Friedman
Length: 7 hours and 1 minute
Genre: Sci Fi/Fantasy

Synopsis: This is a story about love, but not the kind of love you think. You’ll see…
In the lush and magical Pacific Northwest live two best friends who grew up like sisters: charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora, and the devoted, watchful narrator. Each of them is incomplete without the other.

But their unbreakable bond is challenged when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them.

His music is like nothing I have ever heard. It is like the ocean surging, the wind that blows across the open water, the far call of gulls.

Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil - and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. We have paved over the ancient world but that does not mean we have erased it.

(45)Review: Beautifully written with poetic visuals, I would find myself getting lost in her descriptions of places, music, life.  The lives of these two girls are so intertwined that at times I couldn't figure out if their relationship was sisterly, or like lovers.  The narrator is the more stable of the two girls and Aurora is so ethereal she almost doesn't seem real.  Gorgeous and reckless Aurora often gets herself into difficult situations that the narrator saves her from and every now and then Aurora's madness filters over onto the narrator.

Aurora and the narrator's mothers are best friends - one is stable the other not so much, much like their children.  The narrator's mother claims to be a witch and is very worried about her daughter and her friend.  She thinks there is evil lurking around and wants to try to protect them. As Aurora and Jack become entrenched with a man named Minos, they may end up on a path that our narrator cannot travel. As much as she loves them both, the narrator isn't sure if she can save them or if they even want to be saved.

This book is both beautiful and dangerous.  The supernatural elements of the book are woven throughout making you unsure whether it is really happening or if it is in the narrators imagination.
I found it interesting that you never learn the name of the narrator.  We follow her, love with her, and are scared with her but we never learn her name, making her an enigma.  I loved that she was mysterious, yet I felt like I knew her.

I don't think I have ever read a book like this before and I'm glad I found this one.  I can't wait to read the next two books of this trilogy and hope that they are just as poetic and mysterious as this one.

Monday, July 13, 2015

ARC Review: Center of Gravity

Title: Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: advanced ebook from publisher through in exchange for an honest review.
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Fiction

This title is due to be released July 14, 2015

Synopsis: The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It's temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss. If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.
Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?

(44)Review: This book keeps you on edge, switching back and forth between different characters you get to see each persons point of view, their feelings and motivations.  The hardest ones to read were written as if Jack, Mitchell's son from his first marriage, were talking.  The struggle between loving his dad but knowing he is a monster and loving his mother Ava but not wanting to get in trouble for caring about her made my heart ache for him.  I felt like the photo on the cover hanging on by a thread cheering for Ava and hoping that Mitchell gets his due.

The manipulations and insanity are terrifying because you can see how easily it could happen to someone. There were a few times I wanted to scream at Ava to wake up and realize how dangerous Mitchell is. The same could be said for some of the other characters in the book, but sociopaths are such likable people most of the time and rarely show their true colors in public.  It is super frustrating watching Mitchell mold his world to his whim and have people fall in line believing his every word but it happens all the time.

I found myself super invested in these characters which kept me turning the pages when I really should have been doing other things.  Great read, fabulous beach read (just remember to turn over every now and then).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Audio Book Review: Independent Study(The Testing Book 2)

Title: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Recorded Books
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Elizabeth Morton
Length: 9 hours 46 minutes
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: dystopian YA

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Cia Vale survived The Testing, as has Tomas, the boy she loves, and they have both gained admission to the University. She has a promising future as a leader of the United Commonwealth and no memory of her bloody testing experience, thanks to a government-sanctioned memory wipe. Cia should be happy but  is plagued by doubts about the past and future.

Determined to find the truth, she embarks on a path of study forbidden by the government delving  into the Commonwealth's darkest secrets. What she finds is the brutal reality lurking behind the friendly faces of her classmates and the unbearable realization that leaders chosen to protect us can be our greatest enemy.

(43) Review: I am still struggling with the narrator of these books. Her voice is very bland and almost monosyllabic with occasional inflection thrown in making it easier for my mind to wander or me to zone out while listening.

I have to state that I did enjoy this book, it wasn't as good as the first one but it was okay.  I feel that its biggest downfall is in the main character.  She seems almost too perfect.  She is able to do just about anything and never seems to falter.  Cia, doesn't seem to have any flaws, she figures out all puzzles put to her with little effort and knows a little bit of everything, its barely a struggle.

This world actually seems a little more devious and brutal than some of the other dystopian novels I have read.  In this world life is a more dangerous and not so obvious. The last few chapters of this book got really good, and I found myself more sucked in than I had for the first 3/4 of the book.  I will be picking up the last book of this series just to find out what happens.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ARC Review: In the Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft Book 2)

Title: Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft) by Lori Handeland
Publisher: St. Martins Paperbacks
Format: advanced e-galley from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review
Pages:368 pages
Genre: paranormal romance

This book will be released June 30, 2015

Synopsis: A spell that tore three sisters apart is broken four hundred years later, when the magic in their blood reunites them. Now, one of them will discover her gift--and reignite a love long thought lost…

Flame-haired Becca Carstairs was born to be a veterinarian. Since childhood, her affinity for animals has been special, and her healing touch nothing short of magic. But only Becca knows the truth--that she alone can hear the creatures' voices. She's always trusted her sixth sense…until a string of missing pets, an attempted murder, and a face from her past converge into one explosive mystery, with her at its center. Is haunted Owen McAllister, the boy who broke her heart ten years ago, related to the sinister crimes that have peaceful Three Harbors, Wisconsin, on its guard? Or is his reappearance part of the answer to questions that have troubled her all her life? As Becca delves into her strange heritage, she'll have to fight for her life…and the man she will always love.

(42)Review: I love this series, so much fun but also a good action mystery with romance thrown in.

In the first book we were introduced to Raye who speaks to ghosts in this book we meet Becca who can talk to animals and has the ability to heal, I can't wait to meet the 3rd sister and find out what her gift is! Trained as a vet Becca just thinks she is good at her job and the discussions she has with her patients and gut feelings about what is wrong with them is all in her head, but of course its much more than that.

Not only can Becca heal animals she can heal people and as the book progresses you find out just how this gift has guided her life.  I really enjoyed this book, it didn't build at as slow a pace as the first one, and there were less crimes to investigate and follow but it didn't lack for anything.  I loved that Raye and the other players from book 1 made an appearance and I once again fell under the spell of Handeland's storytelling.

The romance was hot and steamy without being too graphic and and the mystery and danger continue to leave you turning the pages as fast as you can.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ARC Review: Speaking in Bones

Title: Speaking in Bones: A Novel (Temperance Brennan) by Kathy Reichs
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 320 pages
Format: advanced e-book from the publisher via in exchange for an honest review
Genre: Mystery

This book will be released July 21, 2015

Synopsis: Temperance Brennan investigates what looks to be a typical missing person case, only to find herself digging up bones possibly left by a serial killer, a cult, or perhaps something not entirely of this world.

(41)Review: I love these books, and while I have watched the TV Show Bones I tend to appreciate the books more.

Tempe finds herself involved in a case involving web sleuths (regular people who try to help solve cold cases through the internet). When a woman walks into her office with a disturbing audio of a woman in distress Tempe decides to help.  Whether she is helping to take her away from her problems of finding tax receipts or dealing with her Canadian detective Ryan this case is a good distraction.

Fundamentalist Christians, mysterious remains, and a family that refuses to help find their missing daughter really drive this story along.  I am usually pretty good about figuring out who was involved and what happened but this plot twists and turns and the ending truly was a surprise.

I loved how Kathy Reichs weaves Tempe's personal life in with her work life because that is reality, trying to juggle a personal life and a career that really takes you in different directions all the time can be difficult. There was much more about Tempe's personal life in this book than in previous ones and it seems almost like the case was just filler...which to Tempe it may have been.  I also think that this book was not as forensically detailed as her past books it was a nice break to have something that was a little more psychological.

There was a bit of a teaser thrown in at the end which I wasn't sure I appreciated but I guess we will see how that pans out in the next books. Overall I enjoyed this installment of the Dr. Brennan series, it may not be for everyone if you are looking for the fast paced forensically detailed books she usually writes but I think its a good addition to the series.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ARC Review: As Night Falls

Title: As Night Falls: A Novel by Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format:advanced e-copy from the publisher through
Pages: 385 pages
Genre: Mystery/thriller

Synopsis: Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.

In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.

Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.

Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.

(40)Review: I don't know what it was about this book but it just didn't grab me at the beginning and I struggled with it all the way through. I liked the plot but the characters really lacked something. My favorite character was Harlan, the dimwitted muscle man who seems to have his own set of values. Nick was a sociopath with no charisma and everyone else just seems to be unmemorable.  It was disappointing to me that I didn't like the book when the summary seemed so great.

I wouldn't say this book is terrible.  It had its good points like the plot but honestly I think this might make a better film than a book, it just was lacking something.

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