Archive for February, 2014


February 2014 Book Haul

I have to admit that I’m a bit obsessed with buying books from bookoutlet.com. There are just so many good deals there, and it doesn’t help that I get e-mails about all the latest sales. Here are all the books I bought in February:

*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac – Gabrielle Zevin
Genre – Young Adult/Romance

If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia. She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place. She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d know about her mom’s new family. She’d know about her dad’s fiancée. She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her. She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back.

But Naomi picked heads.

Following Polly – Karen Bergreen
Genre – Chick Lit./Mystery

Would you call Alice Teakle a stalker? Or just someone with an, um, healthy obsession with golden girl Polly Linley Dawson? No one much notices Alice: not her boss, not the neighbors, not even her Mother.

Besides, everyone follows Polly: her business selling high-end lingerie you can imagine only her elegant self wearing, her all-over-the-social-pages marriage to movie director Humphrey Dawson, her chic looks, her wardrobe. Alice just follows her a little more….closely.

And when she loses her job and starts to follow Polly Dawson one Manhattan autumn afternoon, Alice stumbles on the object of her attention sprawled dead on the floor of a boutique. Alice is forced to become truly beneath anyone’s notice. Invisible, in fact. Because she’s accused of murder.

But can another obsession help save Alice with the fallout? Charlie is Alice’s longtime unattainable crush. He might be able to help her out of the mess she’s in…in return for a favor or two, that is. And how will Alice find out if Charlie is really the man Alice thinks he is?

Unwanted – Kristina Ohlsson
Genre – Mystery

One mistake changes everything.

In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken. Her distraught mother was left behind at the previous station in what seemed to be a coincidence. The train crew was alerted and kept a watchful eye on the sleeping child. But when the train pulled into Stockholm Central Station, the little girl had vanished. Inspector Alex Recht and his special team of federal investigators, assisted by the investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman, are assigned to what at first appears to be a classic custody fight. But when the child is found dead in the far north of Sweden with the word, unwanted, scribbled on her forehead, the case soon turns into the investigation team’s worst nightmare, the pursuit of a brilliant and ruthless killer.

Always Watching – Chevy Stevens
Genre – Mystery

She helps people put their demons to rest.

But she has a few of her own…

In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today?

And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back.

Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape.

Beyond – Graham McNamee
Genre – Young Adult/Horror

Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: Her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer.




Bonechiller – Graham McNamee
Genre – Young Adult/Horror

WELCOME TO NOWHERE.

Danny’s dad takes a job as caretaker at a marina on the shore of a vast, frozen lake in Harvest Cove, a tiny town tucked away in Canada’s Big Empty. If you’re looking for somewhere to hide, this is it.

It’s the worst winter in years. One night, running in the dark, Danny is attacked by a creature so strange and terrifying he tries to convince himself he was hallucinating. Then he learns about Native American legends of a monster that’s haunted the lake for a thousand years. And that every generation, in the coldest winters, kids have disappeared into the night. People think they ran away.

Danny knows better. Because now the beast is after him.

Let Me In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
Genre – Horror/Paranormal

In 1983, when a teen boy is found dead, emptied of blood, Oskar, 12, hopes revenge has come at last against all the school bullies who harass him. More important is the new girl next door. Eli has never seen a Rubik’s cube, but solves it at once. They become friends and more. Something is wrong with her, and she only comes out at night.




The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald
Genre – Classic/Childrens

Princess Irene lives in a castle in a wild and lonely mountainous region. One day she discovers a steep and winding stairway leading to a bewildering labyrinth of unused passages with closed doors – and a further stairway. What lies at the top? Can the ring the princess is given protect her against the lurking menace of the boglins from under the mountain? This complete an unabridged edition of “The Princess and the Goblin” is an ageless story of magic and mystery.

 

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow – Katy Towell
Genre – Fantasy/Childrens

Twelve years ago, for 12 days straight, the town of Widowsbury suffered a terrible storm, which tore open a gate through which escaped all sorts of foul, rotten things. Strange things and strange people were no longer welcomed in Widowsbury, for one could never be sure of what secrets waited under the surface . . .

Adelaide Foss, Maggie Borland, and Beatrice Alfred are known by their classmates at Widowsbury’s Madame Gertrude’s School for Girls as “scary children.” Unfairly targeted because of their peculiarities—Adelaide has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf, Maggie is abnormally strong, and Beatrice claims to be able to see ghosts—the girls spend a good deal of time isolated in the school’s inhospitable library facing detention. But when a number of people mysteriously begin to disappear in Widowsbury, the girls work together, along with Steffen Weller, son of the cook at Rudyard School for Boys, to find out who is behind the abductions. Will they be able to save Widowsbury from a 12-year-old curse?

Lockdown – Alexander Gordon Smith
Genre – Young Adult/Horror

Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.

Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.

Gone – Michael Grant
Genre – Young Adult/Dystopian

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents-unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers-that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

A Kiss in Time – Alex Flinn
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Talia fell under a spell…Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic…

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels…The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

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Sisters Red Giveaway! (Closed)

Sisters Red – Jackson Pearce
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend–but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

*Description taken from Goodreads.

20140227_20320520140227_203226The book is in used condition, and there is some wear on the cover. The outside edges of the pages are beginning to yellow. Other than that, it’s in good condition and would look great on your shelf! 🙂

The giveaway will last for two weeks and end on March 13th. I want to give plenty of people a chance to enter.

Click the link below to enter the giveaway.

**US only. Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Black Box Review

Genre: Young Adult

Black Box by Julie Schumacher is a realistic fiction novel that follows a teenage girl named Elena. While Elena is the protagonist, the story focuses on Elena’s older sister Dora who has been diagnosed with depression and is hospitalized. Dora’s depression ends up affecting everyone around her, and the reader finds out how depression can affect relationships and families.

Elena and Dora have had a close bond and have told each other everything, but when Dora is diagnosed, their relationship is strained. While Dora is away, Elena has to deal with her parents arguing more and has to cope without Dora by her side. However, when Dora is discharged, life only seems to become more difficult. Elena is willing to do anything to help Dora, even if that means accepting more responsibility than she can handle, which in this case, might not be the best for either of them.

Black Box is a quick read at only 168 pages or so. The novel is able to describe depression in such a way that’s believable. There is nothing pretty about what happens in the story which makes it more realistic. Depression can be a hard illness to discuss, but I think Schumacher explains it well. While it may seem as though the novel never goes into a lot of detail about depression, the way Dora talks about her illness is key. Dora never gives Elena a clear description on how she feels and that makes it difficult for Elena to help in any way.

Not only does the reader see the changes in Elena and Dora’s relationship, but he/she also witnesses how the illness can affect an entire family. The parents are completely unprepared to help Dora through her depression, and they have a hard time understanding what she is going through. All the pressure eventually falls to Elena who is forced to make a tough decision.

The story is emotional and grim at times. I found the novel interesting, and I felt it was a good change of pace from all the usual young adult subjects like romance, dystopia, and paranormal. This is the first young adult book I have read that features depression as the main topic. While I really enjoyed the book, keep in mind that it’s a sad story, and it might not be for everyone. It’s definitely worth reading though, even if only to see a different side of young adult fiction.

My Rating: ★★★★

The Only Boy

As I’m starting to use twitter more often, I’ve been following more authors. I want to see what the authors whose books I’ve read are working on, and I want to discover new books to read by lesser-known authors. So as I was searching, I ended up finding some great authors and their books. The cover art on one author’s book really stood out to me. The book is The Only Boy by Jordan Locke. On the author’s website, I found out that the cover was created by the author. Here is the cover and some information about the book:

The Only Boy – Jordan Locke
Genre – Young Adult/Dystopian

Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch’s senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.

Taylor’s got a dangerous secret: he’s a boy. His compound’s been destroyed, and he’s been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he’ll be exiled. Maybe even executed.

Mary’s never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn’t suspect Taylor’s secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.

Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound’s boundaries.

*Description taken from Goodreads.

Not only is the cover appealing, but the story sounds really intriguing. If you want more information about how the cover was created, check out the post here. Plus, there is more detail about how the idea for the story was constructed. I’m always interested in finding out where ideas come from and the effort put into making a book. I appreciate all the work that was put into making the cover because I wish I could create my own cover. At least I know who to contact to make my cover art if I ever write my book. Anyway, just thought I would share something I found interesting.

Also, don’t forget to vote for a book you would like featured in a giveaway. Click here to vote.

Book Giveaway Poll (Closed)

I will be hosting a giveaway on this blog soon, but I need some help picking which book to give away. I want to make sure I give a book that a majority would like. All you need to do is vote in the poll below and choose a book you would like to see in a giveaway. The poll will close in a week, and next Thursday, I will have another post about the winning book and details about the giveaway!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

The winning book is Sisters Red! Click here to enter the giveaway!

Genre: Young Adult/Realistic Fiction

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is told through letters written by the protagonist Charlie. He’s an awkward teenager that writes to a “dear friend.” It’s unclear who the “dear friend” is because his/her identity is never revealed. These letters to this friend reveal Charlie’s experiences in high school from making new friends to discovering himself as a person.

Charlie is a quiet student that doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. He has dealt with a lot of trauma in his life, and he keeps his distance from people until he meets Patrick and Sam at a football game. They introduce him to their group of friends, and throughout the story, Charlie grows as a person and becomes more comfortable with this group. Mostly, he is happy that he is accepted and fits in. At the end, the truth is revealed about Charlie’s childhood and what he went through when he was younger.

Once the reader finds out about Charlie’s past, the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. It explains his awkward behavior and shows that he suffered a lot as a child. Charlie is conflicted with his feelings, and this story focuses on how he is dealing with what happened to him. He goes through life wanting to be accepted by others and wanting to be recognized as a person. This can make Charlie relatable because most people his age want to have friends or at least someone who acknowledges their existence.

The way the story is told is interesting. As Charlie is writing these letters to his friend, the reader gets to find out more about his life and the challenges he has been facing. The novel felt more personal with the letters, and it’s as if the reader is the “dear friend” that Charlie is writing to. There is more of a connection to Charlie than there would be if the story was told from a different point of view.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great coming of age story, and I believe it can help readers not judge others before knowing them. It’s hard to know what a person has been through, which is why we should treat others with respect no matter how strange or awkward they may act. Everyone is fighting their own battles, and it’s important to remember that when it would be easy to pass judgment.

My Rating: ★★★★

So far, I have loved every movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Of course I haven’t seen them all, but I’m hoping to change that. I just need more money to buy them. I have been slowly adding to my collection whenever I see a really good deal on one of the movies. Feel free to comment and let me know about any movies from Hayao Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli that I need to watch.

*All descriptions taken from IMDb.

Spirited Away
Rating: PG

In the middle of her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into animals; and a bathhouse for these creatures.

Thoughts: This was the very first movie I saw by Miyazaki. I remember seeing the VHS in the store and asking my parents if I could get it. I didn’t know anything about the movie, but I knew I wanted it. I had seen anime before and enjoyed it. My parents let me get it along with Castle in the Sky, and as soon as I got home, I started watching them. I watched Castle in the Sky first, and I liked it, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I immediately put in Spirited Away and instantly fell in love with the story. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I still own the VHS, and I love it. I’m surprised it isn’t broken with how many times I have watched it. I adore this movie.

Ponyo
Rating: G

An animated adventure about a five-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become a human.

Thoughts: I know that Ponyo is not the best by Miyazaki, but there is just something so charming about it. It’s a cute movie that’s very entertaining. There are plenty of flaws in it, but I can’t help re-watching it. The details in the movie are just as good as any other Miyazaki film. I feel like the story is the only thing that is not up to par with the other fantastic movies. However, it’s still worth a watch.

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Rating: G

A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.

ThoughtsKiki’s Delivery Service is such a unique movie that brings up the struggle of a child growing into a young adult. Kiki must train away from home for a year to become a better witch. She brings along her cat named Jiji on her journey (Jiji is one of my favorite characters). Miyazaki has interesting ideas about what a young witch/girl would be going through during this important time of her life. In a sense, the movie reflects a young girl losing her childlike imagination as she grows older (the friendship between Kiki and Jiji). Near the end, there is a bittersweet moment as Kiki starts becoming a young adult and her relationship with Jiji changes.

Howl’s Moving Castle
Rating: PG

When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking home.

Thoughts: I love the message this movie sends to young women. When I watched this, I was an insecure teen. I related so much to what Sophie felt about herself, and the movie helped me see that even if you might feel like you’re not pretty enough, there is someone out there that will think you’re beautiful. Plus, it shows being pretty is not the only thing that matters. There is a lot of focus on the romance aspect of this film, but there is plenty of humor throughout. There are subtle scenes and dialogue that just make it a wonderful movie. It’s a nice romance story that I feel anyone could enjoy. 

My Neighbor Totoro
Rating: G

When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

ThoughtsMy Neighbor Totoro is the most recent Miyazaki movie I have seen, and let me tell you, this one is a tearjerker. I was not prepared for all the emotions this movie put me through. There is so much raw emotion that the sisters feel, and it is portrayed amazingly well. It was as if the audience was watching the lives and struggles of these real life girls. It’s a beautifully told story. I loved that there was no bickering or drama between the sisters. They didn’t fight over silly stuff, and they actually got along. The movie mainly deals with the girls’ adventures with the forest spirits.

The Secret World of Arrietty
Rating: G

The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

ThoughtsThe Secret World of Arrietty deals with loneliness that the two main characters face. This one is a bit sad because of the subject matter, and it doesn’t end in the way that I thought it would. One thing I like is that not every movie ends with a happily ever after, but there is hope and the promise of happiness. Even though the movie’s main character is a tiny borrower, the characters are realistic with the characterization and character development that takes place. This movie is a nice step away from cliches, and it’s a very entertaining film.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Rating: PG

Warrior/pacifist Princess Nausicaä desperately struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and their dying planet.

Thoughts: One thing I really love about Miyazaki’s movies is that there is a deeper message in each of them. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind focuses on saving the environment and how important it is to protect the planet and animals. It’s also nice that in each of these movies, there are strong female leads, taking charge of their lives and not letting life just pass them by when times get hard.

Princess Mononoke
Rating: PG-13

On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

Thoughts: If you want your friend/boyfriend/fiance/husband to watch a Miyazaki film with you, this would be the one to show them first. I’ve made Chad watch all of these films, and he says this one is his favorite. It has a higher rating than most because there is a lot more violence. I believe this adds to the struggles brought up in the film. There was a real threat/real bloodshed that had to be dealt with.

February 2014 E-Book Haul (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of my e-book haul. All of them were free except for the last three books.

*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

Identity – Ted Dekker
Genre – Young Adult/Mystery

Who am I?

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.

I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.

Some will say that I m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.

So who are you?

A Sexy Journey – Jasinda Wilder
Genre – Romance/Erotica

I’ve always been a good girl. I grew up in a small town, dated my high school sweetheart all the way through college, and married him. I even waited until our wedding night for my first time. Yeah, that kind of good girl. Finding my husband in bed with the church secretary came as quite a shock, needless to say. Finding out he’d slept with just about every female in town was an even bigger shock.

Discovering those dirty little secrets is what sent me on a journey that I will never forget.

 

Game, Set, Match – Nana Malone
Genre – Romance

Off the court, tennis star Jason Cartwright’s playboy image is taking a public beating. On the court, he’s down forty-love. A knee injury is shutting down his game, and the paparazzi are splashing his love life on every magazine. A comeback is in order, but the makeover he needs to save his faltering career is in the hands of the woman he loved and left fifteen years ago.

While single-mom, Izzy Connors, sees people for who they really are through the lens of her camera, even without it, she knows Jason isn’t the star he appears to be. Although his charm and good looks haven’t dimmed since he broke her heart, all she sees is his wasted talent and playboy lifestyle.

Can Izzy put the past behind her and help Jason get his game, and his image, back on track? Or will the click of her camera shatter his world as well as his heart?

Rushed – Brian Harmon
Genre – Horror

Eric can’t remember the recurring dream that keeps waking him in the middle of the night with an overwhelming urge to leave, yet he spends each day feeling as if he desperately needs to be somewhere. With no idea how to cure himself of this odd new compulsion, he decides to let it take its course and go for a drive, hoping that once he proves to himself that there is nowhere to go, he can return to his normal life. Instead, he finds himself hurled headlong into a nightmare adventure across a fractured Wisconsin as the dream reveals itself one heart-pounding detail at a time.

 

Surrender – Melody Anne
Genre – Romance/Erotica

Raffaello (Rafe) Palazzo takes what he wants with no regrets. Arianna (Ari) Lynn Harlow has led a charmed life until tragedy strikes her family. He’s looking for a no-emotions attached mistress, she’s looking for redemption.

They are not a pair that should ever work, but undeniable attraction and devastating tragedies bring them together in the city by the bay where he fights to keep their relationship nothing more than an enjoyable way to meet his needs, and she battles to not lose herself in him. Spending time with Ari starts cracking the hard shell that Rafe has built around his heart, but he denies the affect she has on him until it’s too late to stop the inevitable conclusion that their relationship is headed for.

Just when Ari has sunk to the lowest she’s ever been she finds an ad in the paper announcing a job that’s too good to be true. It turns out she’s right. She makes it through the intense rounds of interviews only to find out the job is for a mistress to the powerful Rafe Palazzo, owner of Palazzo Enterprises. Rafe gives her a day to think about whether she wants the position or not, and she’s sent on her way, only to find out her mother’s near-terminal position has taken a turn for the worse. Her mom’s only in the hospital because Ari messed up, and her mother’s the one who paid the price. Is Rafe her savior, or will he take her with him straight to the depths of hell?

A Hidden Fire – Elizabeth Hunter
Genre – Fantasy/Paranormal

“No secret stays hidden forever.”

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he’d abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice De Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.

 

Tangled Beauty – K. L. Middleton
Genre – Romance/Erotica

Sinclair Jeffries thought she knew what she was getting into when her zany, gay friend, Jesse Eddington, talked her into portraying his girlfriend during his parent’s anniversary party on Huntington Beach. That is, u

til she met Reed, Jesse’s sexy as hell older brother, and ends up getting much more than what she’d bargained for.

Reed Eddington assumed his future was settled until he met Sinclair, his brother’s so-called “girlfriend”, but the raw, sexual tension between them is hard to ignore. As he watches their ruse from the sidelines, he finds himself wanting to uncover more than just their amusing little facade.

Double Dare – Rhonda Nelson
Genre – Romance

Runaway bride Louisa Honeycut is looking for a quick escape when she passes the Double Dare, Inc sign and the slogan “Are you ready for the time of your life?” seems like divine intervention. Sheltered by her overbearing father, Louisa has years of catching up to do and can think of no better person than gorgeous Sam Rawlins to show her. Is she ready for the time of her life? Hell, yes.

Ordinarily unflappable adventure guide Sam Rawlins makes his living showing the wealthy how to have fun, but nothing in his experience could have prepared him for the “adventure” Louisa Honeycut asks for. He might be showing Louisa the time of her life, but the quirky little snack-cake heiress is soon turning Sam’s own life upside down…and perversely, he likes the new vantage point.

Hostile Witness – Rebecca Forster
Genre – Thriller/Romance

When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more Josie realizes that politics, the law and family relationships create a combustible and dangerous situation. When the horrible truth is uncovered it can save Hannah Sheraton or destroy them both.

The Last Call – George Wier
Genre – Mystery

Bill Travis, an unmarried, unattached investment counselor rapidly approaching his fortieth birthday, conceives that he may not live the most exciting of lives, yet Julie Simmons, his first appointment that Monday, is deeply in trouble. She has taken a North Texas quarter horse racer and liquor baron named Archie Carpin–the last of a dynasty of criminals from the 1920’s–for a ride and cleaned him out of a neat two million bucks. And thus begins the adventure of Bill’s life.

Ensues a chase north across Texas to recover the money and shake the pursuit of a couple of rednecks with a penchant for rifles and rigged explosives. Yet, through all this action the compelling tale of yet another mystery—an 80-year old missing person’s case—begins to unravel.

The One You Love – Paul Pilkington
Genre – Mystery

Emma Holden’s nightmare has just begun. Her fiancé vanishes, leaving the battered and bloodied body of his brother in their London apartment. Someone is stalking her, watching her every move. And her family are hiding a horrifying secret; a secret that threatens all those she loves. In a desperate race against time, Emma must uncover the truth if she ever wants to see her fiancé alive again.

The One You Love is a fast-paced suspense mystery, full of twists and turns, following in the tradition of writers such as Nicci French and Sophie Hannah.

 

UnEnchanted – Chanda Hahn
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her newfound fame brings misfortune as an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her its next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and stop these deadly events, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

 

After Shock: A Novella – C. J. Lyons
Genre – Thriller

As head of the FBI’s Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Squad, Agent Lucy Guardino has made a name for herself bringing the lowest of lowlifes to justice. Rapists, serial killers, pedophiles—she’s faced them all down with her signature grit and determination.

But today is different. Because the man who has taken her prisoner has promised Lucy three things: that before this day is over, she will be dead; that someone in her family will also die; and that he always wins.

Trapped inside her worst nightmare, Lucy faces a ruthless killer as he plays Russian roulette with the lives of those she loves. Wounded and unarmed, how can Lucy defeat a psychopath who doesn’t play by any rules?

Poe – J. Lincoln Fenn
Genre – Horror/Fantasy

It’s Halloween, and life is grim for 23-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.

But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.

There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.

As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.

The Archived – Victoria Schwab
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

A Monster Calls Review

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

(Note: There may be lots of gushing praise over this story.)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a fantasy novel based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, and it’s illustrated by Jim Kay. The story follows a thirteen-year-old boy named Conor who is dealing with his mother’s illness. This book is able to demonstrate the psychological nature of an adolescent boy and his difficulties in understanding life and himself.

Conor has been having nightmares ever since his mom started her medical treatments. One night, a monster shows up at midnight. Conor expected a different monster, the one who shows up in his nightmares every night. The monster that arrives tells Conor that he will be told three stories and that after the stories, Conor must tell the monster a story of his own. This monster wants something from Conor that he is reluctant to give. He wants Conor to speak the truth.

A Monster Calls is such a beautiful book. The illustrations are gorgeous and make the story really come together. I have no complaints about this story because I believe it was written and illustrated perfectly. It’s very rare to find a story that can hold your attention and give you such joy for the written word. The novel is able to take hold of the reader and never let him/her go until the story is finished. Once you finish, it’s possible to just sit there to take in all of the details of the story.

The characterization and character development is done amazingly well for a 204 page novel. There is a lot of depth in Conor’s character. He is a teen, struggling with the fact that his mother is sick, and he doesn’t know how to cope emotionally. Conor starts out as an untrusting, hostile boy who wants nothing to do with anyone. The three stories that the monster tells Conor are quite original and demonstrate moral challenges that relate back to the main story. By the end of the novel, Conor grows as a character and learns to deal with his fear and his nightmare.

The story is incredible and sad. A Monster Calls can easily bring a reader to tears. As I was reading, I was close to tears myself. There’s a real longing to help Conor through his struggles. If the reader has ever experienced anything similar to what Conor is going through, it’s easy to relate to him. At one point near the end, I had to put the book down because I was trying not to cry. I had to take deep breaths and start again a few minutes later. I find this to be an accomplishment because I rarely cry over a story. I’m by no means heartless (or so I think), but it takes a lot to push me over the edge. This story had the right amount of believable story, sad plot, and relatable characters that got me to tear up.

I hope this is a book that people will read in their lifetime because it really makes you step back and appreciate everything in your own life. This is a beautifully crafted story that deserves all the praise it has been given. I’m excited to read more of Patrick Ness’ books because I have heard nothing but good things about all of his work.

My Rating: ★★★★★

February 2014 E-Book Haul (Part 1)

The other day while I was playing with my android tablet, I decided to go through my kindle app, and I ended up getting quite a few books. This haul is around 30 books, and I know that is a very large amount; however, all of these were free except for 3 books which totaled $3.97. So, I’ll call that a win. Now, I just need to find more time to read. This haul will be in two parts, so let’s get to part one.

*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

The Dummy Line – Bobby Cole
Genre – Thriller/Suspense

Avid hunter Jake Crosby is thrilled that his nine-year-old daughter Katy shares his love of the outdoors. His wife, Morgan, on the other hand, does not, which means Jake and Katy enjoy an abundance of hunting, fishing, and camping trips together. So when they head off into the Alabama woods for a spring turkey hunt, Jake expects nothing out of the ordinary. But even his worst nightmares could not prepare him for what befalls them that evening, when a band of drug dealers attempts to break into their remote camp. Desperate to protect his daughter and himself, Jake makes a gut-wrenching decision. His quick thinking enables him and Katy to escape…but brings the gang of vengeful criminals hot on their trail. Gambling on his knowledge of the land and hunting skills, he leads their bloodthirsty pursuers on a perilous cat-and-mouse game deep within the Noxubee River swamp. Jake knows they all won’t come out alive–but he will do whatever is necessary to make sure Katy does. Taut and engrossing, The Dummy Line explores what happens when an ordinary man is pushed to extraordinary lengths to protect his loved ones.

The Sheik’s Defiant Fiancée – Elizabeth Lennox
Genre – Romance/Contemporary

Laila knew in her heart that marriage should be for love, not for duty. Her union with Sheik Jabril would help improve and maintain political stability in her country, as well as bring the people of her province honor and pride. And Jabril was certainly easy on the eyes. He was tall, built like an Olympian, and exuded power and masculinity. But the man was a player of the worst sort, with mistresses all over the world! She realizes that she cannot say no to the Sheik of Surisia, so she respectfully requests that they treat their marriage like the business arrangement that it is. His response? He kisses her! Through that kiss, he demonstrates that he will not accept anything less than her full acquiescence, but she also discovers that his passion and physical presence stir something within her that she cannot control.

Their first public event together convinces Jabril that he made an excellent choice for a wife. She is not only stunningly beautiful, but smart and socially adept. She will be a worthy partner to rule his kingdom, and to share his bed! Her trembling response to his touch excites him, but her suggestion that they essentially live separate lives confounds and amuses him. There is no way he will allow that. The intensity of their first kiss lingers in his memory and he will not relent until he has experienced all she can give. He wants her in his bed, every night. And he will have her!

The Descent Series: Vol. 1 – S. M. Reine
Genre – Fantasy/Paranormal

This is a collection of the first three titles in The Descent Series, which are gritty urban fantasy books about an exorcist, a witch, and their battles against the forces of Heaven and Hell. (Approx. 200,000 words total.)

Books included:
1. Death’s Hand
2. The Darkest Gate
3. Dark Union

DEATH’S HAND
Elise Kavanagh doesn’t want to hunt demons anymore. It’s been five years since she killed her last enemy, and life has been quiet since then. She went to college. Got a job, and then lost it. Made a friend or two. Lived a normal life. Now her former partner, a powerful witch named James Faulkner, wants Elise to fight one more time. The daughter of a coven member has been possessed, and Elise is the only exorcist nearby.

Becoming a hero again would mean risking discovery by old enemies. But digging into the case reveals that it might already be too late–bodies are disappearing, demons slither through the night, and the cogs of apocalypse are beginning to turn. Some enemies aren’t willing to let the secrets of the past stay dead…

The Mind Readers – Lori Brighton
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Cameron Winters is a freak. Fortunately, no one but her family knows the truth …that Cameron can read minds. For years Cameron has hidden behind a facade of normalcy, warned that there are those who would do her harm. When gorgeous and mysterious Lewis Douglas arrives he destroys everything Cameron has ever believed and tempts her with possibilities of freedom. Determined to embrace her hidden talents, Cameron heads to a secret haven with Lewis; a place where she meets others like her…Mind Readers. But as Cameron soon finds out some things are too good to be true. When the Mind Readers realize the extent of Cameron’s abilities, they want to use her powers for their own selfish needs. Cameron suddenly finds herself involved in a war in which her idea of what is right and wrong is greatly tested. In the end she’ll be forced to make a choice that will not only threaten her relationship with Lewis, but her very life.

A Job From Hell – Jayde Scott
Genre – Young Adult/Paranormal

In a world of love bonds, rituals, dark magic, ancient enemies and immortals, nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.

Seventeen-year-old Amber enters the paranormal world by chance when her brother, Dallas, sets her up with a summer job in Scotland. Dallas has spied something in the woods he thinks could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. But instead of finding riches, Amber unknowingly enters a paranormal race—and promptly wins the first prize—a prize for which many would kill. Soon, she discovers her new boss, Aidan, didn’t employ her for her astounding housekeeping skills and he isn’t who he claims to be either.

As the dark forces slowly conspire against Amber, her naivety and love for Aidan catapults her into a calamitous series of otherworldly events. With every immortal creature hunting for her, whom can she trust with her life?

Back On Murder – J. Mark Bertrand
Genre – Mystery

Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight–the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter.

With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he’s still one of Houston’s best detectives.

 

Sisters In Love – Melissa Foster
Genre – Romance

Danica Snow has always been the smart, practical, and appropriate sister. As a therapist, she prides herself on making reasonable, conservative choices, even if a bit boring, and as part of the Big Sister Program, she has little time for anything more in her life.

Blake Carter is a player. He never gets bored of conquering women, and with his sexy good looks and successful lifestyle, he has no trouble finding willing participants. When his friend and business partner dies in a tragic accident, he suddenly, desperately, wants to change his ways. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to stop doing what he does best.

When Blake walks into Danica’s office, the attraction between them is white hot, but Danica isn’t the type to give into the heat and risk her career. Danica’s desire sets her on a path of self-discovery, where she begins to question every decision she’s ever made. Just this once, Danica wants to indulge in the pleasures of life she’s been so willingly ignoring, but with her Little Sister in turmoil and her biological sister’s promiscuousness weighing heavily on her heart, she isn’t sure it’s the right time to set her desires free.

Never Buried – Edie Claire
Genre – Mystery

The truth about what happened in 1949 went to Paul Fischer’s grave. Too bad his body didn’t!

Advertising copywriter Leigh Koslow doesn’t pack heat–just a few extra pounds. And she doesn’t go looking for trouble. When she moved into her cousin Cara’s refurbished Victorian house, she wasn’t planning on discovering a corpse–certainly not one that had been embalmed ten years before. But as anyone in the small Pittsburgh borough of Avalon could tell her, her cousin’s house has a history attached. A history dating back to two mysterious deaths in the summer of 1949.

Someone wants Leigh and Cara out of the house–someone who has something to hide. But that someone doesn’t know Leigh’s impetuous cousin, and when Cara digs her heels in, Leigh looks to her old college chum, local policewoman Maura Polanski, for help. But the answers the trio find only point to more questions. Were the scandalous deaths of fifty years ago really an accident and a suicide? Or were they murder?

Promise You Won’t Tell? – John Locke
Genre – Young Adult/Mystery

“I think something might have happened to me Saturday night. Something bad.”

Private Investigator Dani Ripper’s client list is nuttier than the Looney Tunes conga line, but she diligently solves one crazy case after another, waiting for a game-changer.

Enter Riley Freeman, 17-year-old honor student.

Saturday afternoon Riley quietly placed a little strawberry sticker on her private area and pretended it was a tattoo. She didn’t tell anyone about it. That night she went to a slumber party that featured drinking and boys. Riley fell asleep, woke up the next day with no reason to think anything happened…

…Until Monday, at school, when a classmate called her Strawberry. Coincidence or crime? Dani agrees to investigate. And the roller coaster ride begins.

A Family Affair – Mary Campisi
Genre – Romance

When Christine Blacksworth’s larger-than-life father is killed on an icy road in Magdalena, New York, a hundred miles from the ‘getaway’ cabin he visited every month, she discovers a secret that threatens everything she’s always held to be true.

Her father has another family which includes a mistress and a daughter. Determined to uncover the truth behind her father’s secret life, Christine heads to Magdalena, prepared to hate the people who have caused her to question everything she thought she knew about her father. But what she finds is a woman who understands her, a half sister who cherishes her, and a man who could love her if she’ll let him. The longer she’s around them, the more she questions which family is the real one…

The Ugly Duckling – Hans Christian Andersen
Genre – Childrens

A classic story by Hans Christian Andersen presented with modern illustrations. The story of how a little bird endures the abuses and miseries as he was growing up not realizing he would mature into a beautiful swan. It’s a great tale about personal transformation for the better.

“It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, for the most essential things are invisible to the eye.”
– Antonie De Sainte Exupery




Murder On the Mind – L. L. Bartlett
Genre – Mystery

Jeff Resnick hardly knew his well-heeled half-brother. But after suffering a fractured skull in a vicious mugging, he reluctantly accepts the fact that he has a long and brutal recovery to face—and his closest of kin can provide him with the time and place to do it.

Now, Jeff is haunted by unexplained visions of a heinous crime—a banker, stalked, killed, and eviscerated like a ten-point buck. When Matt Sumner’s murder is discovered, a still-recovering Jeff realizes this was what he had seen. Jeff must not only convince himself of his new-found psychic ability, but also his skeptical brother Richard Alpert. Since Sumner was Richard’s banker, both brothers have a stake in finding out what happened. With Richard’s reluctant help, Jeff’s investigation leads him to Sumner’s belligerent family and hard-nosed business associates, none of whom want him snooping around.

When Jeff discovers a second victim, he knows he must relentlessly chase his quarry even if it means risking his brother’s life.

The Soulkeepers – G. P. Ching
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother’s car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can’t find his mother’s body. A beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom.

But in exchange she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a protector of human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother’s disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him.

 

Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century
Sean Patrick
Genre – Non-Fiction

Imagination amplifies and colors every other element of genius, and unlocks our potential for understanding and ability.

It’s no coincidence that geniuses not only dare to dream of the impossible for their work, but do the same for their lives. They’re audacious enough to think that they’re not just ordinary players.

Few stories better illustrate this better than the life of the father of the modern world, a man of legendary imaginative power and wonder: Nikola Tesla.

In this book, you’ll be taken on a whirlwind journey through Tesla’s life and work, and not only learn about the successes and mistakes of one of history’s greatest inventors, but also how to look at the world in a different, more imaginative way.

Free To Die – Bob McElwain
Genre – Mystery

Brad Ashton fled three years ago to avoid a conviction for murder. Now he’s back. And his hope for freedom appears to be within reach. Unfortunately there are those who have no interest in his legal status; they only want him dead or on the run once more. But for Brad, running is no longer an option. It’s a table stakes game in which the risks are high. But he puts everything he has at risk.