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Early Review: Wild Card by Jamie Wyman

Wild Card - Jamie Wyman
 
 
I think Wild Card is a good start to (I'm assuming) a new urban fantasy series. I don't see any other books in the works, but that's never stopped an author before!
 
Cat is an extremely skilled computer tech who lost her soul to Eris in a game of poker.
The hows aren't explained till toward the end of the book, but it's not exactly what you think...
Since then, she's been the goddess of Discord's unpaid lackey. Thanks to being on call 24/7, she has no social life, no love life, and no money.
So when Eris announces that there may be a way for her to get her freedom, Cat jumps at the chance. Supposedly all she has to do is attend a party, but Cat's under no illusions that it will be that easy. When Eris insists that her obnoxious personal assistant Marius escort Cat to the gala, any leftover hope she had about a mundane evening flies right out the window. Cat's contempt for Marius is only rivaled by his disdain for her. Since they both work for Eris, they've had years to dig and poke at each others nerves. So at this point, they're both pretty raw.
Such a cute couple!
 
At the party, Cat finds out from Coyote that Eris has put her soul up as a bargaining chip in the mother of all poker games. It seems that all of the trickster gods across mythology like to get together once in a while and test each other out. The party is being held so the other gods can decide whether Cat is worth it.
Cat's job is to retrieve all of the chips from the other gods in order for Eris to free her.
Now here's where the story fell a bit short for me. 
And possibly this is because of my limited knowledge of poker, or gambling in general...
I didn't get why she had to run around trying to get all of the chips. Eris gave them the chips. They were supposed to give them to Cat if they found her an acceptable bargain. Just sit still and let them come to you, right? 
I also didn't understand why Cat thought Eris was going to free her. The instructions about getting all of the chips back didn't even make a whole lot of sense to start with, and the goddess lies for fun, so she had to know she was probably going to pull something at the last minute.
 
Other than the wonky plot holes, I really enjoyed the story. Marius and Cat were funny together, and after a while he grew on me. The author even managed to make him sexy, which is no small feat considering he's a satyr.
Still not too sure about the goat legs, though. *shudder*
It was interesting to read about some trickster gods that I hadn't heard of before, and I also liked the way the more familiar gods were painted in a different light. Loki is my new favorite!
 
If you're looking for a new urban fantasy that mixes things up with mythology, then this might be something you'll want to check out.
 

Review: Waterfell (The Aquarathi #1) by Amalie Howard

Waterfell - Amalie Howard

 

 
 
Whoa!
Talk about a book being NOT what you expected! I thought this was going to go into my every growing pile of mermaid books. So color me shocked when I finally realized what Nerissa was, and where she came from.
Yeah. She's so not a mermaid.
 
I thought this book was heading straight into typical territory after the first chapter or so, but then it surprised me by taking off in an entirely different direction.
And I want to tell you...I really really do! But part of the reason I enjoyed Waterfell so much was because I had no idea what kind of book I was in for.
The characters were fully formed, the pacing was great, and every time I thought I had what was going to happen next figured out, everything flip-flopped on me.
 
Nerissa is the heir to the Aquarathi throne, and after her father's murder, the Aquarathi family that guarded her took her to safety. When she comes of age, she is expected to go back and fight for her throne, but Nerissa isn't in any hurry. She enjoys living in the human world and pretending to be a regular girl. Playing soccer, surfing, and hanging out with her best friend sure beats going back to face a people who aren't sure if you're fit to rule. See, before her father's death, Nerissa was simply the King's Irresponsible Daughter. And now? Well, she isn't sure. It seems like a lot of pressure and responsibility for something that she doesn't even want.  And with her mother and father both dead, there really isn't any reason to go back...right
Except that her guardians haven't exactly told her everything.
 
Secrets, betrayals, and possibly even true love..
What more could I ask for?
 
If you enjoy books that twist and turn into unexpected places, then you're definitely gonna want to get your hands on this one! 
 
P.S. 
There's a fade to black sex scene toward the end that plays into the plot. I didn't personally think it was inappropriate, and I would have no problem letting my girls read this when they are teenagers. I'm just tossing it out there as an FYI for anyone looking to buy this for their (or someone else's) teen. Teenagers? Yes.
Tweenagers? Probably not.
 
 

Review: Shazam! ( vol. 1) by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank (Illustrator)

Shazam!, Vol. 1 - Geoff Johns, Gary Frank
 
 
Shazam!
Billions of screaming fans go wild with anticipation for the revamped version of Billy Batson!
Fine. It's just me and five other geeks having a nerdgasm. 
Whatever.
It counts!
 
If you don't know much about this title, let me give you a couple of important tidbits of information.
 
First, the buff character on the cover is not named Shazam. Shazam is the wizard who gave Billy Batson the power to transform into Captain Marvel. 
Not much of an improvement in the name department, but still...
Shazam is also the magic word Batson uses to make the transformation.
 
Second, Billy Batson is a kid. Worse, he was originally an annoyingly perfect kid. See, Batson was picked by the wizard because he was so pure of heart. He was nice and sweet, and always did the right thing. He made Superman look morally deficient.
So, yeah. He was too boring to bother with.
 
But when I heard Geoff Jonhs was taking on this title for the re-boot, my inner dork did a little dance! 
Could the great and mighty Johns make this title readable!?
Answer: Yes!
Batson is no longer a sweet orphan who tries to always do the right thing. Now he's an angry kid in the foster care system.
But he still has a Pure Heart underneath it all, right?
Eh. Not so much.
In fact, he only ends up with the powers of Shazam, because the wizard was out of time. He'd been looking for someone worthy to take the mantle, but surprisingly kept coming up empty handed. Billy accidentally found his way to the magic subway car...seriously, don't ask...and ended up in the right place at the right time. Black Adam had been freed from his prison dimension, and he was currently en route to kick some ancient wizard ass. Poor old Shazam literally has no choice but to fork over the power and hope for the best.
 
Of course, Batson realized the importance of being given access to such great powers, and immediately set out on an epic quest for...beer.
Oh, come on. What would you have done if you were a teenage boy who found himself suddenly able to turn into an adult?
That's what I thought.
 
And that's just the beginning.
Now I know that there are a few of you hardcore fans of the original Shazam out there, and seeing your beloved character portrayed in a different light will likely upset you. 
Fun Fact: Nobody else cares what you think.
This title needed a kick in the ass to make it more relevant, and that's exactly what happened.
 

Review: Closed Hearts (Mindjack Trilogy #2) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Closed Hearts - Susan Kaye Quinn
 
 
I liked this one even better than the first book, Open Minds. Maybe it's because I understood the world a bit better, but I don't think so. It seemed like the action had been kicked up a notch in this one and maybe it was just a bit more fast-paced? Whatever the reason I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
 
Closed Hearts takes off a few months after the last book ended, and Kira is dealing with the aftermath of her decision to bring the secret world of mindjackers out in the open. The regular readers are afraid, and the government is taking full advantage of their fears. And while it sounds like he only wants to imprison jackers who break the law, Kira finds out how easy it is to end up on the wrong side of those laws. 
Her only goal is to live a normal life, but the threats to her and her family's safety are coming from every side. A group of rebel jackers, led by the enigmatic Jullian, want her to join them to save a group of their friends and family being held inside a secret jacker prison. Somehow they've teamed up with the Clann leader that Kira left to rot in prison in the last book, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to get Kira on board with their plan. On the other side of the coin, a powerful politician is trying to blackmail Kira into publicly denouncing all jackers as unpredictable and dangerous. Unfortunately, Kira is afraid that he's partially right. On top of everything else, Kira knows that Agent Kestrel is still out there waiting for the opportunity to get his revenge.
 
The only bright spot in her life is Raf. He has remained faithfully in love with her throughout everything, and they've managed to stay together despite the fact that he's only a regular reader. When Raf is kidnapped by her old nemesis from the Clann, Kira is finally forced into action.
 
I loved the addition of Julian to the story. He brought a much needed sense of something to the plot. I never really felt any sparks when it came to Raf and Kira, so I'm hoping that after this book, Julian is going to slip into the role of love interest.
I ended up a little annoyed that Kira once again had to be forced into doing anything, but I'm hoping that because of the way this book ended, she's not going to be dragging her feet in the trilogy's conclusion. 
I felt the same annoyance about her attitude towards Julian. 
He's a good guy! Stop being such a whiny bitch to him already!
Still it was a really fun book, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all ends up.
 

Review: The Iron Bells (The Demon's Gate #1) by Jeanette Battista

The Iron Bells (The Demon's Gate, #1) - Jeanette Battista

 

 
 
I found this little gem on NetGalley during what I'm now referring to as my Desperate Period. It was during that time that I ended up finding You Are Mine and a few others that were shockingly good, despite ugly covers or misleading blurbs.
I'm not saying this has an ugly cover, but nothing about it screams, Read Me! I'm An Awesome Book! 
At least, it didn't to me.
Desperate Period thought process:
Red-eyed chick with sword...64 AD...skim, skim...Jerusalem...skim, skim...Vatican...skim, skim...blessed bells...skim, skim...Inquisition...skim, skim...demon...skim, skim,...Amaranth...skim, skim...Rome...New Adult trilogy....
Some kind of medieval demon thing? Probably gonna suck. Damn. I've got nothing else to read.  Grrrr.
*sigh*
 Fine.
Now I realize that this is not the way normal people choose books.
Lucky for me, I wasn't functioning like a normal reader. Otherwise, I never would have bumbled my way to this damn fine read.
 
In this post-apocalyptic setting demons rule the earth. Year ago, a magic user conjured up a demon...and totally screwed the pooch. Guess he didn't really know what he was doing, and it opened up the gate to wherever. This allowed demons to come and go as they please. So did they all fly out of the gate and start eating people, you ask?
Well, no.
They started quietly possessing world leaders, and then destroying religious sites and relics on the down low. By the time people realized what was happening, the demons were firmly in charge. And anyone who tried to speak up was taken by the Inquisitors and killed.
At this point in time, everyone just goes about their business and tries to pretend that things are normal. Except they're not.
Amaranth is an underground resistance fighter in London. Her mother was lost to the demons when she was a child, and she was taken in and raised by the resistance's leader. She only has one friend leftover from her childhood, so when she gets a heartbreaking call from his mother saying he has disappeared, she feels obligated to do everything she can to find him.
In the meantime, part of her job for the resistance includes delivering a package to safety. Turns out this package is a cute bell-ringer named Dham. They form a tentative friendship, but before anything else can develop she finds out a shocking secret about her missing friend. And the deeper she digs into her friend's disappearance, the less she is sure she can trust anyone with what she's found.
In fact, the only person she can turn to for help is a demon that she finds in the resistance's underground cells. He's a prisoner that Amaranth's mentor is planning to use to close the gate. Great plan...except for one thing. The body he's possessed will die when he opens the gate and leaves. And guess who's body he's wearing?
Oh. Shit.
 
There are lots of other layers to this story, including hints that maybe the demons aren't really demons in the way that the humans think. The plot just kept getting thicker the more I read, and I honestly couldn't put it down. 
I also loved that Amaranth ended up saddled with a snarky demon sidekick. It was definitely one of those I-Hate-You-But-I-Need-You relationships, but it looked to me like the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
This book was a totally fun ride, and I'm so glad I accidentally stumbled onto it.
Highly recommended!
 
Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/11/review-iron-bells-demons-gate-1-by.html

Review: Tangled Tides (The Sea Monster Memoirs #1)

Tangled Tides - Karen Amanda Hooper



 
 
I've been trying not to be a cover snob lately.
Thank you, thank you. No applause necessary.
So even though at first glance the orgasmic rainbow mermaid on the cover looked a tad cheesy, I didn't let that discourage me.
I'm feel like I've grown as a person.
In retrospect, however, I should have seen it coming. Now, this wasn't an awful book, but it does go kind of overboard (no pun intended) with the fantastical elements of the story.
You know those books where the author keeps heaping more and more magical powers onto the main character? Like it wasn't enough that they were a werewolf/vampire hybrid, so they also find out that their great grandmother was a demon/witch, and now they have those powers too? And then they do a favor a Greek god, and that ends up garnering them with a few extra powers on top of everything else?
Yeah. That's this book, but with mystical sea creatures.
 
I waffled between 2.5 and 3 stars for a while, because it wasn't that badbut it wasn't something I couldn't wait to get back to, either. Not having any trouble picking a book back up is kind of my pass/fail test for 3 stars. Sorry, but this one failed. I had to give myself that mental it's-not-SO-bad talk more than once. It did get better, but it was still too much of a struggle to pass my 3 star test.
 
Parts of this are really good, and you can tell the author has one hell of an imagination, so I'd definitely be wiling to give her stuff another try in the future.
 

 

Iron Man: Believe (volume 1) by Kieron Gillen (Illustrator: Greg Land)

Iron Man, Vol. 1: Believe - Kieron Gillen, Greg Land

Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Quite a bit of meh to my feelings. 

When did the chick who engineered Extremis become a good guy? I missed something, didn't I? Somebody tell me what I missed!

Tony tracks down Extremis kits that have been sold to various villains and even to some not-so-bad guys.
The King Arthur storyline was by far the lamest, and the demon-chick at the end was by far the most confusing.
In between there was a lot of that meh I mentioned.

Review: Blackout by Robison Wells

Blackout - Robison Wells



 
 
At the start of the book, Aubrey isn't the most sympathetic character. She woke up one day with the ability to turn herself invisible, but she hadn't exactly been using her power to do anything worthwhile. In fact, she ditched her longtime friend Jack, and was using her special ability to steal clothes and other goodies that she normally wouldn't be able to afford.  She was also using her power to spy on classmates. The high school's Alpha-Girl found about Aubrey's little secret, and had been using her to keep up with all the gossip in return for making Aubrey popular. Since Aubrey had always been known as trailer-park trash (due largely to her dad's drinking problem), this was a dream come true for her.
Or it was until the military showed up at a dance and started throwing all of the kids on a bus. Not to mention that they killed one boy who fought back...after he turned into some sort of mutant monster.
Aubrey pulled a disappearing act, assuming that they'd come for her, and hid until they were gone. She reconnected with Jack, but before the two could get away...her father sold her out to the government for beer.
Nice!
They both end up at a military camp that was designed to sniff out kids with powers. The kids who test negative for mutations get to go home, but no one will tell them what happens to the kids who test positive.
 
Meanwhile...
Alec and Laura have been traveling around (with another teammate) blowing  things up. They're part of some mysterious terrorist organization, who's main goal seems to be chaos and destruction. They'd been leaving quite a body count in their wake until one of their missions goes wrong and they got separated. Alec was still on the loose, but Laura got picked up and put into the same camp as Jack and Aubrey. Of course, she decided it was a golden opportunity to infiltrate the enemy, and immediately started worming her way into a power position.
 
I liked the different POVs you get in this book. 
I thought it added a little sumpin' sumpin' to the drama of everything to know what was going on in the bad guys' heads. Especially when Laura was working side by side with Jack and Aubrey. 
Nooooo! She's evil! Don't trust her! 
Why are you going into the basement with her?!
Never. Go. Into. The. Basement.
 
I've barely skimmed the top of this book's plot, but let's just say that the psycho teen-terrorists aren't Aubrey and Jack's only problem. The military has plans for all of the kids who have powers, and they don't exactly ask nicely for their help. Lots of twists, near-escapes, secrets, and betrayals. 
 
I do wish the terrorist organization and the cause of the virus had been explained a little bit better. I didn't get annoyed by the lack of information while I was reading, though. It was fast-paced enough that I breezed through the story pretty quickly, and only after it was over that I realized I still had questions. Maybe the author is saving those things for the next book?
 
All in all, I had a lot of fun reading Blackout, and I'd recommend it for YA fans of mutant kids in a slightly dystopian setting.
 
Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/11/blackout-blackout-1-by-robison-wells.html

Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara

Relativity - Cristin Bishara

 

 
 
 

I like the idea that there are other alternate realities out there, and in that respect this book is a win. Can you imagine being able to scroll through other (maybe better) versions of your life? To be able to see the What If  factor first hand? Very cool.

Ruby is dissatisfied with her life. Her mother was killed in a car accident years ago, and now her father has remarried. The package comes complete with a psychotic step-sister. Oh, and she had to move away from her best friend (aka boy of her dreams) in order to go live with her wacky new family.
So, no. Life is not good.
But it suddenly gets interesting when she discovers an old tree that has the power to take you to alternate dimensions. Kind of like Dr. Who's phone booth, only without the time travel and ever-changing sidekick. The how's and why's of the tree are never fully explained, even though Ruby spends a great deal of time trying to collect information and figure it out.
Did I mention that Ruby is some sort of child-genius? Good thing, too. 'Cause if I got stuck in that tree there's no way my tiny mind would have been able to figure out how to make it work. Thankfully, our heroine doesn't still use her fingers to add and subtract.
Don't judge me. Not all of us were good at that whole 'math' thing....
Anyway, because Ruby enjoys a healthy understanding of physics, she is able to get into this tree and travel to these other dimensions. She gets to see what it would be like if things had played out differently.

Is it everything she hoped for?
Well, here's where I didn't really care for the story. I mean, what was the point? To find out that in a different world you could have had an awesome brother? To find out that your mother might still be alive out there in another reality, but she wants you gone and her (rather ungrateful) daughter back? To find out that...what? I felt a bit disappointed by the ending. She came, she saw, she barely made it back. Something just didn't feel complete to me after the last page. Maybe I just need more closure in my books?
I guess the point is that life is what you make of it.

This isn't a bad book, it just wasn't exactly my cuppa.

Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/review-relativity-by-cristin-bishara.html

Review: Consume (The Clann #3) by Melissa Darnell

Consume - Melissa Darnell
 
 
So. I read yet another book without checking to see if it was part of a series.
It was.
And yet, somehow no one is shocked....
Anyway, (as I now know) this is the third book in the Clann series, and it seemed to wrap up what I assumed was a trilogy. But it's not listed as a trilogy, so maybe there are more books to come? Not sure. Also not important to the enjoyment of this book.
After a few chapters I got the gist of what had happened in the previous books, and got sucked into Consume and it's cast of characters. Very cool story, but now I want to go back and read first two books.
Ugh. Because my to-read list isn't long enough as it is...
 
Tristan and Savannah are childhood friends who fell in love. Awww. So sweet! Anyway, Tristan was a member of the magic wielding Clann, who was slated to take over for his father as it's leader. Savannah was too, but she was a witch/vampire hybrid, so of course their love was forbidden. Evidently, at the end of the last book she was forced to turn him into a vampire hybrid in order to save his life.
So the story opens with her and her (vampire) father out in the middle of the woods trying to get Tristan's blood lust under control.
I'll admit I had a little Twitard flashback reading that part...
Oh, and Tristan's also lost his memory, so eating people seems like a good idea to him. Fortunately, his memory eventually comes back, and he stops trying to suck the blood of innocents.
But their troubles don't stop there.
Now they have to convince the vampire counsel and the Clann to stop fighting each other, and let them live happily ever after. Which would be a lot easier if the new Clann leader wasn't an extremist lunatic hell-bent on destroying all vampires. And blowing things up. And framing Savannah and Tristan for it.
 
Of course, the lovebirds have a major falling out over how to deal with this guy. Savannah wants him stopped, but Tristan (due to some spoilery stuff) wants him dead. Can they win the day and repair their love?
*cue dramatic music*
 
This was a really fun story, and I had no problems getting into it without having read the other books. If you haven't read these, you might want to check them out!
 
 
Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/review-consume-clann-3-by-melissa.html

Review: You Are Mine: (Mine #1) by Janeal Falor

You Are Mine (Mine Series, Book 1) - Janeal Falor

 

 
 

You know how you go into a book expecting one thing, and then end up with something else entirely? That's what happened to me when I read You Are Mine.
Here's what happened:
I was low on reading material. Really low. I was searching through NetGalley for something (anything) to read, and nothing was looking very good. I'll admit I was getting desperate, and requested a few things that I normally would have given a pass.
Including this book.
Because at first glance, I thought it was going to be a cheesy bondage/kidnapping romance about a wizard who liked to spank chicks with his magic paddle.
Admittedly, there are worse ways to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon...
But, wow. I couldn't have been more wrong about this book if I had tried!

You Are Mine is actually a fairly heavy story, and filled to the brim with social commentary about women's rights. Now, in this country, it's thankfully not much of an issue. At least not to the extent described in this book. We've all heard the horror stories of things that go on around the world, and to be honest, I usually avoid reading the books that describe what it's like. Frankly, it makes me ill.
But what Ms. Falor did was weave an element of fantasy into her story, and that allowed me to keep reading something that I normally wouldn't have been able to stomach.

In this world, only the males can use magic. One of the things that makes a woman valuable to a man is the level of magic in her blood, which allows her to breed stronger children. Serena has been tested and it turns out that she's quite the catch. Only, it's not like she gets her choice of suitors. Her father sells her to the highest bidder, not caring what happens to her at his hands. In fact, he actively wants the man to abuse her. It's the norm for their society, and men who are not heavy-handed with their wives are looked down upon as weak. Serena's entire life has been filled with punishments and abuse by her father for non-existent wrongs that he's gladly doled out. So far, she has been able to keep him from hurting her sisters too much, but she knows that once she is sold to her new husband there will be no one to protect them.

Through a series of interesting events, Serena ends up in the possession of a warlock from a barbarian country. Of course, she thinks it will be a fate worse than death, because if the men in her civilized country are so cruel, how much worse will it be with this man?
The fact that she can't see obvious kindness in this man could have been a very tedious and eye-rolling thing to read. But the author does such an excellent job of putting the reader into her shoes, and showing what systematic years of abuse has done to her, that it comes off as totally believable.

As far as this being a cheesy PNR? Yeah, no. There's not even one sex scene in this book. It was just an amazingly well told story with a dab of romance. I absolutely could not put it down. And it made me think...

I know we always celebrate the women who fought for the rights that we now take for granted as ours. And we should! But let's face facts, if there weren't men who fought to change things too, nothing would have happened. There were guys who went against the conventional beliefs of their times, and stuck up for their daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. I would imagine that took quite a bit of guts.
Just sayin'.

Anyhoo. Read this one if you get the chance, 'cause it totally blew me away.


 

Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/review-you-are-mine-mine-1-by-janeal.html

Review: The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

 

 
 
The Burning Sky is one of those books with layers of goodness. There were so many things I loved about it that I'm not really sure where to start! I guess I can't really complain about this kind of dilemma, can I? 
Although, knowing me...I could definitely try.
 
I guess I'll tackle the characters first. 
Iolanthe is an awesome female lead. And what I mean by that is that she isn't so perfect and wonderful that you don't believe she's real. She has flaws, but she also has a lot of oomph, too. She stands up to Titus and meets his challenges with spunk. She also calls him out every time he deserves it, and isn't so overwhelmed by her growing attraction to him that it clouds her judgment of what he does. In other words, I didn't want to roll my eyes at her every other minute.
Titus is equally real in the way he behaves. Even when you want to smack him for being such an ass, you can't help but understand his reasons. When he lies and manipulates Iolanthe, you know he feels bad, but you also kind of agree with him. Or at least I did. So much has been resting on his shoulders that there is no way for him to just let her walk away from her destiny. Maybe I just like characters that are willing to do bad stuff for a good cause?
The secondary characters are also well written, so you don't feel like anyone is really unnecessary or a throw-away. 
 
It's set in the 1800's, but (again with the layers) it's setting is twofold. Part of it is taking place in Eton, but there is another magical world crisscrossing with it called the Domain. The Domain is where Titus and Iolanthe were raised, but they are hiding out in the non-magical boy's school. Well, Iolanthe is, Titus is supposed to be there. He's kind of in exile, retaining his title as a figurehead only. Of course this means, Iolanthe has to pretend to be a boy, which brings yet another layer to the story. She's never visited the non-magical world, so she has no idea what these guys are talking about half of the time. Not to mention she's definitely not a guy. 
See, Titus' mother was a seer, and she left him with her diary that reveals her dreams and ultimately his destiny. That destiny included Titus being the one to find and train the prophesied savior of The Realm. Except he justassumed this savior would be a guy, so his preparation included bringing him to Eton. Hmmm. Unfortunately, with the evil villains hot on her trail, Iolanthe doesn't have much of a choice in the matter. Due to a spell placed on her guardian, she's lived her entire life unaware of the extent of her powers. So it's either follow Titus and attempt to turn herself into a dude, or die at the hands of a spooky Inquisitor.
 
Titus isn't exactly hiding Iolanthe because he wants to keep her safe. Nope. In return for his services, he expects her to use her powers to fight against their oppressors. Whether she wants to or not. Oh yeah, he's no knight in shining armor. He uses every underhanded trick in the book to force her to do what he wants, and she, quite frankly, hates him for it. Sort of. Every now and then, she catches a glimpse of  what Titus could have been if he hadn't been born into this role. And once she finds out that Titus' destiny includes...well, that's a spoiler, so you'll just have to find out on your own. Anyway, she starts to understand him a little better, and respect him a lot more. The fact that he's still desperately trying to save his people, even though his mother's diary said that...um, yeah. Can't tell you that either
Well, let's just say it  inspires her to do the same.
And somewhere between the blackmail and the threat of impending doom, these two start to develop a tentative friendship. Maybe even something more?
Oh yeah. Definitely something more...
 
There's also this cool book that has been passed down to Titus. It's the magical version of a virtual reality world, and inside are lots of different fairytales that come to life. 
It's a battle training simulator...with fairytales
*KA-BOOSH!*
That was my giant Nerd-Head exploding, by the way.
There are other uses for it, but the fairlytale thing was too awesome not to give it a special mention!
 
There are a lot of great things about this book that I've failed to mention, but if you like magical worlds then The Burning Sky is something you definitely don't want to miss.
Or don't listen to me. Miss out on an awesome story.
*sniff*
Whatever.
The choice is yours...
 
 
 
Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/the-burning-sky-elemental-trilogy-1-by.html

Early Review: Twinmaker (Twinmaker #1) by Sean Williams

Twinmaker  - Sean Williams

 

 
So in the future there's this thing called the D-mat. Think: Star Trek Teleporter. 
Beam me up, Scotty!
Almost everyone all over the world uses it to travel anywhere they want to all across the globe. So if you live in Denver you can go to school or work in Amsterdam. Very cool, right? 
I say almost everyone uses it, because there is (of course) a group of granola crunchers (Abstainers) who refuse to step inside the D-mat for fear of...well, all kinds of conspiracy theory reasons. You know, like the people who go on and on about eating organic because all of the chemicals pumped into things. 
Except, now that all kinds of diseases are on the rise, they don't sound quite as crazy anymore...do they?
Well, Clair stumbles into into the same sort of realization when she inadvertently uncovers some very unusual things happening to her best friend. Libby is Clair's popular cool counterpart, who hates the birthmark on her face. So she tries to improve herself via chain-mail like instructions that she found on the Air. The Air is basically the internet, and (most) everyone is connected to it continually through augmentations in their eyes and ears. 
After Libby announces that she's tried Improvement and  it worked, she sort of stops communicating with anyone. Libby's disappearance coincides with Clair and Libby's boyfriend sharing a secret kiss, so Clair isn't sure if something bad has happened to her, or if she's somehow found out about their indiscretion. Soon, however, the messages that Clair does start getting from Libby point to something more strange and sinister than just hurt feelings.
But the instructions for Improvement are just too goofy to be believed. Kind of like that crap on Facebook that someone always 'shares'. 
*Insert sentimental garbage here*
Now make a wish and re-post to all of your friends.
If you believe enough, your wish will come true.
If you're not brave enough to re-post this...
Horrific things will immediately begin to happen to you and those you love!!!!!!
Nobody but crazy old ladies from church and my friends' little kids (who shouldn't have FB accounts to start with!) pass this stuff onto me. 
Why?
Because everyone else in the world knows they're absolutely ridiculous. 
Same thing goes for this Improvement thing that Libby tried. It basically said that you write down what you want to change about yourself, then hop around from place to place in the D-mat. The letter (or some form of it) had been circulating the Air for a while, and the vast majority of people did exactly what I do with the dorky FB posts...they sighed and scrolled on past it.
 
Since nobody believes Improvement is possible, that leaves very few people on the planet left for Clair to turn to for help. 
Hmmm. Who does Clair know that would believe a crazy conspiracy theory?
Well, there's this one kid in her classes named Jessie that comes from a family of Abstainers (think: futuristic version of the Amish), who might be able to point her in the right direction. He's basically a social pariah, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
And speaking of desperate measures...Clair decides to try Improvement for herself. Whether or not it has any effect on her is a question that plagues her for the rest of the book, and I'm not telling you what happens. So there!
Trying Improvement and looking a bit deeper into the D-mat conspiracy leads her to meet a disembodied super-hacker with amnesia, who goes by the name Q. How does this person play into everything? Well, if you've read a lot of adult sci-fi, you'll probably be able to figure out Q's origin fairly quickly. But I think for a teen who's new to the genre it might come as more of a shock.
  
In the beginning, there's lots of teen drama, but after Clair teams up with Q and Jessie the story takes a more exciting turn, and leaves most of the angst behind. As far as romance goes, there are two boys in the story that Clair likes, but (for reasons I can't go into) there is no actual love triangle. I thought the plot had an interesting concept, and there was also a well thought out world to back it up. It's a good young adult sci-fi story, but I'm not sure it translates into something that adults will fall in love with. I was totally entertained the entire time I was reading it, but if you're not a fan of YA you may find some of the things that happen to be a bit too predictable. 
A bonus point for the book is the body image theme that starts the story off. If I remember what it was like to be a teenager correctly (and I do! Smartass.), then this is definitely a theme worth having. 
 
Although, I have to admit that I still nit-pick my imperfections...even at such an advanced age. About one day every month I feel bad about the way I look, and decide to try some sketchy rejuvenating cream/tool that I've seen on tv.
I usually come to my senses before I manage to give the operator my credit card number. I mean, can something really change your life for only 29.95 a month for four months?
Eh. Probably not.
Besides, part of the beauty of surviving adolescence is the knowledge that it perfection is overrated.
 

 

Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/early-review-twinmaker-twinmaker-1-by.html

Review: Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey

Deceived - Julie Anne Lindsey

 

 
Uhhhhh....
The last part of the book was pretty good, but to get to it you have to wade through some pretty murky waters. I had a really hard time understanding what was going on for the majority of the book...and not in a good way. There were numerous times when I couldn't even figure out who was speaking, mainly because it wasn't clearly stated. It's not that I like the Bob said, "Such-n-such" style of writing, but there has to be more than just quotation marks letting me know that someone else is talking after a while. In little doses it's a good thing, but after a page or so? Well, I lose track of who is saying what. Especially if there are more than two people in the conversation.
 
In the beginning it was also had to swallow Elle's attraction to Brian, mainly because she was so frightened of him. I didn't understand how she could switch gears that fast. She would be almost ready to pass out from a panic attack (because she was convinced he was a dangerous stalker), but she was simultaneously blushing and feeling butterflies in her stomach?
Oh God! I think he's going to kill me!
*swoon* 
He's so gorgeous!
That just wouldn't happen. I've known quite a few guys who were extremely attractive, but they gave the the creeps. So. While I recognized they were good-looking, nothing fluttered around my abdomen except that tingly Danger! Danger! feeling. And honestly, that's more of a churning nausea than a tingle. 
Bad-Boys? Yes please!
Showing-Up-At-Odd-Times-Stalker-Boys? No thank you.
There's nothing sexy about a guy that you think might stuff you in his trunk. And even if you're not right when your gut is telling you some dude is a possible creeper, you're not going to get a warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy if you find him lurking in the shadows. 
Ever.
P.S.-Even if he's not planning to ask you to 'put the lotion in the basket', there's a reason your instincts are giving off a warning vibe. Trust your gut, ladies.
 
There were manymanymany other parts of the story that didn't add up...even at the end, but I would have to give spoilers to point them out. And there's no point in reading a mystery/thriller if you already know all the secrets, right?
If you can make it through the first 70% of the story, the rest of the book is very readable. At that point I got sucked into it, and flew through till the end. 
Would I recommend it?
No.
But if you're a fan of YA mysteries then you might enjoy this more than I did.

 

Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/review-deceived-by-julie-anne-lindsay.html

Review: Sweet (True Believers #2) by Erin McCarthy

Sweet  - Erin McCarthy
 
 
I've come to realize something about this genre and it's readers. Everyone has a different thing they look for when it comes to romance novels. Some of us live for hot sex scenes, some of us require action in the plots, some of us go for damaged heroes, some of us like kink, some of us want it to be sappy, and some of us specifically seek out guys in kilts. And then there's that whole group that likes to read about having sex with swamp monsters n' stuff. 
Hey! Not judging...just pointing out that Romance readers are a fairly diverse group. 
Anyway, my point is that we all gravitate toward different things.
Me? I like humor.
Maybe because falling in love is awkward, nerve-wracking, and well, quite hilarious at times.
Remember the first time you accidentally farted in front of  the man of your dreams? Oh yeah. Good times.. 
And in my personal opinion, no one does humor better than Erin McCarthy.  It's not over-the-top Three Stooges kind of funny. Which honestly, I don't find funny at all. No, it's more that her characters have a running inner monologue that resonates with my experiences, and makes me giggle. A lot.
 
There's another thing that makes Sweet a perfect fit for my personality, and that's the fact that Jessica comes from an extremely religious family. Believe it or not, I come from a family of Southern Baptist preachers and missionaries. 
I know, right? I bet you're wondering how I turned out to be such a well-adjusted person, but that a story for another day.
So. While some of what Jessica says and does might seem strange, I don't think McCarthy's portrayal of a preacher's daughter was weird at all. This isn't an anti-God book, but Jessica's character is trying to straddle the fence between pleasing her parents and being herself. Instead of just telling her parents that she's not who they want her to be, she lies to them. She knows that the minute they find out that she's not acting like a good girl, they're going to pull the plug on her finances. Not to mention, they'll probably emotionally disown her as their daughter. Now, it's not like she really wants to spend great gobs of time with her mom and dad, but the idea that your parents will totally turn your backs on you is a scary thought for anyone. She wasn't exactly raised to be Miss Independent, so No Money + No Family = Bad Idea in her mind. 
 
And then there's Riley. He's such an ass, but you can't help but love him. In the last book, True, we met Riley's brother, Tyler Mann. And where Tyler is a sweetheart, Riley is...not. Well, he is once you get to know him, but he hides his warm fuzzy side under layers and layers of douchebaggery. Fortunately, Jessica is not really much of a sweetheart either, and she enjoys handing him nuts on a plate when he gets out of line. 


So what happens when you stick two snarky people from entirely different backgrounds under the same roof for a week?
Pure magic, that's what!
Because while it seems like these two are destined to work each other's last nerve, their personalities actually compliment each other really well. Mostly because underneath it all, Riley is actually a good guy, and as it turns out a really good friend to Jessica. But can these guys get over the damage of their pasts and make room for each other in their futures?
Hmmm. If you think I'd give a story with a sad ending four and a half stars, then you don't know me very well, do you?

As a side note, if you're one of the readers who's looking for a book that features sex with Bigfoot, then you may not enjoy this as much as I did. Sasquatch does not make an appearance in Sweet. 
Oh well, there's always next time...

Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/review-sweet-true-believers-2-by-erin.html

Freak of Nature by Julia Crane

Freak of Nature - Julia Crane
 
I was drawn to the book by the cool cover. I mean, how can you not love that? You can't. Really, great job to whoever came up with it.
As for what's inside? Well, it was entertaining enough for me to want to finish it (which is my personal requirement to earn three stars), but it was missing that something that makes a story awesome. 
 
There's a lot of moral ambiguity in the characters, which kind of makes it hard to love or hate anyone. Even the evil scientists aren't super-duper bad. Or good. 
Take the love interest, Lucas, for example. I wanted to like him, but he just came off as a total creeper at first. He switches back and forth between helping Kaitlyn and helping his boss so many times, that by the end of the book I really couldn't work up any warm fuzzy feelings for the guy. Sorry. Just not exactly what I was looking for in my next book-boyfriend.
But there was no one to really hate enough to make the guy look good, either. Even the head of the evil corporation wasn't so bad by the end of the book.
Quasi-evil. Not evil enough.
Maybe that's what the author was going for, but it didn't work for me.
However.
It might be different for someone who is just absolutely into stories about cyborgs. Like I said, it was entertaining enough to want to finish, so you might have a different experience with the characters than I did.
 
At far as the plot goes, it had a lot of interesting ideas. Kaitlyn donated her body to science, but assumed that she would be dead when they used it. Well, she did die, but these guys managed to bring her back and turn her into a top secret project. None of the scientists realize that she has retained any of her old self, and Kaitlyn isn't about to let them in on it. She believes (rightly) that if she betrays any of her emotions they will erase the rest of her personality. She has very few memories of her former life left, mostly just feelings and a few leftover bits of dreams. 
Her one friend and ally is the granddaughter of one of the scientists working on her project, a young girl named Quess. Quess is the one who warned her not to let on about her lingering personality, and she is the only one who is willing to help Kaitlyn figure out her past.
Lucas is the young hot-shot researcher who came up with all of the programming for  Kaitlyn's project. He waffles back and forth between guilt over what they've done to her, and pride that he did such a good job in the first place. Also, he thinks she's hot.
 
There's no real urgency to the story, because Kaitlyn seems to accept her fate. Even when she escapes, it's not really because she decided that she'd had enough. I think I would have liked it better if she was a bit more angry at her circumstances, and lashed out at the people responsible. 
Anyhoo. The ending has a decent sense of closure to it, but it looks like this one is the first in a series, so I'm sure there are more stories to come about these characters.
 
 
 
Source: http://www.addicted2heroines.com/2013/10/freak-of-nature-ifics-1-by-julia-crane.html