Embrace (The Violet Eden Chapters, #1)

First Lines: Birthdays aren’t my thing.  It’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death.

An angel series!  And it’s Australian, too!  Well, it’s written by an Australian.  I actually forgot it was Australian as I was reading, which probably means US editors changed things for us Americans.  Anyway.  That was a totally pointless intro on my part.

Violet wants nothing more on most days than to talk to her best girl friend Steph and spend as much time as she can with her best guy friend (and the incredibly hot) Lincoln.  It gets harder, though, when her love for Lincoln goes unrequited.  But things are about to get weird anyway, when after Vi turns 17, she starts having weird dreams that leave very real evidence behind and noticing things happening to her.  What’s happening to her?  Can she stop it?  …Does she even want to?

This just flew under my fingers as I read.  I’d read about three chapters and tell myself, “Ok, it’s time to go do something else,” and end up reading three more before I could actually stop.  I read the whole book in a day.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to pull that off, I think, and not have it feel like I read it all in a day.  Of course, it kind of helps that I had nothing else pressing to attend to.

I was very thrilled to find there was not an information dump when Violet finds out what’s going  on.  To an extent, there was one, but it was nowhere near as bad as some I’ve read.  This has just enough to give you a taste of things, an understanding, but still left you with questions.  Which is exactly what it should do.

I really enjoyed the characters as well.  Steph is an uber girly-girl and Lincoln is such a sweetheart.  But I most related to Violet, who tends to be a bit of a control freak, especially when things relate directly to her.  That’s exactly who I am and this seems to be one of the few characters I’ve read who are actually more or less commended for being control freaks instead of looked down upon.  She was very realistic.

If there’s one thing in this story I could have done without, it was the love triangle.  I’m not going to tell you who’s involved because it’s more than obvious once you start reading.  But the triangle felt forced, almost rushed as well.  The more evident the triangle became, the more I wanted to put it down.  Not like, “I’m going to quit reading this,” but more like I was actually able to put it down and do something else for a while.

Overall, it’s a fast read, a full-of-action read, and an intriguing story.

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The Woman In Black

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Since I grew up with Harry Potter like millions of other children (and hopefully millions more in the future), I’m kind of a big Daniel Radcliffe fan.  Even if I still see him as Harry, like I know tons of other people do too.  Anyway, he and the ghosts were the only reason I wanted to see this.  It surprised me that my mom wanted to see it too, since she doesn’t like paranormal stuff.

Arthur is a young widowed lawyer who is struggling to hold everything together.  His boss gives him one last chance to prove himself by sending him to an estate in the country to sort through a woman’s papers for a will.  Little does he know that the house is haunted and the town cursed…

I’ve never been good with horror films.  Contrary to what you may be thinking right now, I tend to actually laugh through horror films.  Apparently other people don’t like that.  I just think they’re so corny in their gimmicks.  I thought that this one would be different.  It wasn’t.

Daniel acts well, as we already know, but it just wasn’t a good role for him.  First of all, he doesn’t look old enough to be widowed or have a 4 year old son.  Secondly, we mostly just watched him wander around the house with a fearful expression on his face.  Even the best of actors can’t pull that off for long.  It just felt awkward.

The story itself didn’t seem to make much sense either.  Crazy woman became a ghost after she died.  Got it.  Now what?  The plot just seemed shallow and what it did go into was cut off abruptly at the end without answers.

Really, I wasn’t a fan of it.  I wanted to be, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

The Probability of Miracles

First Lines: When Campbell’s father died, he left her $1,262.56 — as much as he’d been able to sock away during his twenty-year gig as a fire dancer for the “Spirit of Aloha” show at Disney’s Polynesian Hotel.  Coincidentally, that was exactly how much her fat uncle Gus was asking for his 1998 Volkswagen Beetle in Vapor, the only color worth having if you wanted to have a VW Beetle.

Dear Nerdfighteria (if you understand this reference, pretend I have just given you a high-five), this book is very much like John Green’s The Fault in our Stars.  We’ll cover this a little more in depth in a moment.

Cancer has ruled Campbell’s life for the last five years.  Ironic, really, since she grew up in the most magical of all places: Disney World.  You’d think a little magic would have rubbed off on her and kept her from getting cancer in the first place.  But it is what it is and Cam has learned to deal.  She’s even made a Flamingo List, full of things she wants to do before she dies.  Nowhere on that list will you find “Moving to Promise, Maine,” which is exactly what her mom wants to do.  Cam isn’t getting any better in Florida anymore and there really aren’t any treatments left to try until they hear about Promise.  It’s a weird little town where the sunsets seem to last for hours and mysterious letters keep arriving for Cam.  There’s also the cute Asher, who seems to appear out of nowhere just when Cam needs him.  Cam knows the end is coming, and she only has this summer left to live a lifetime.

If you’ve read TFIOS, you’ll see similarities to this.  Both are cancer stories where the main characters are snarky to the point of acidity who have given up on having a normal life.  Cam has determined that cancer is really her only defining quality anymore, much like Hazel did.  And both of them learn they’re wrong.

This was a really quirky story.  I kind of figured it would be, given what I had heard of it, but this almost took quirky to a whole new level.  The sad thing is I can’t even go into detail because it will give away great parts of the story!  Just take it from me then.  I can say that Cam makes some pretty amazing connections between her life and movies she’s seen, like comparing a cashier at Whole Foods to Rolf from The Sound of Music.  That was just beautiful in its quirkiness.

I was surprised that I actually got kind of fed up with Cam’s attitude.  Normally I’m all for the snarky, sarcastic lead.  And for about half the book, I was enjoying it.  It was after they got to Promise and got settled that I started getting mad at Cam.  All of this awesome stuff was happening around her and she just didn’t care to even acknowledge it’s awesomeness.

It was a very funny book and one that made me cry.  I guess you kind of expect that from cancer books, huh?  They’ve usually given up on life, so they have a very different perspective on things and hey, it’s cancer.  You’re gonna cry at some point.

I guess I should also mention that if you get easily offended, you might want to hold this book at arm’s length.  I’ve read other reviews where people were offended by things that I thought were just normal teenage behavior and ideas.  Whatever.  I thought it was just fine.

Black Dawn (Morganville Vampires, #12)

First Lines: It would have been better if he’d screamed.

I love this series.  Can I just say that and have that be the end of the review? … I guess not.

*WARNING!  SERIES SPOILERS AHEAD!*  Hello, this is book 12.

Life in Morganville has never been anything close to resembling normal.  But now, what was “normal” seems like a fantasy.  The draug, a vampire’s only natural enemy, have invaded Morganville intent on killing all the vampires.  And they have no qualms about killing humans, as Claire has seen first hand. As usual, Claire and her friends have to try to bring order back to Morganville…and without Amelie’s help this time.  Can they defeat the draug, save the vampires, and manage to all stay alive?

I just love the characters.  They all have such distinct personalities.  I’m a little biased toward Claire because there are so many things I think I have in common with her, but I’m also a big fan of the other three.  I love Shane’s snarky comments and his soft side.  I thought he had some great character development in this one.  Michael is just a sweetheart, through and through.  And Eve, she’s determined and sarcastic and incredibly vulnerable.  I love them all.

It could just be me, but I’ve thought the last two books have upped the danger to a new level.  They’ve all been dangerous, don’t get me wrong, but the stakes almost seem higher now.  The infrastructure that Amelie built is falling to pieces and bringing chaos one step closer to their door.  And it’s bringing one heck of a story with it.

The chapters are all told from rotating points of view.  The majority is still told by Claire like normal, but it does jump to her friends and even a few surprise narrators as well.  I do enjoy Claire’s narration better than the others, though.  It would really drag on with some of the others, even Shane, sadly.  I’d suffer through the chapter just to get to a part from Claire’s perspective.  Ok, it wasn’t “suffer” so much as, “Alright, I guess [enter name here] can tell the story alright, just not as well as Claire.”

Overall, though, it’s the same kind of book we’ve been reading in this series.  Action, friendship, a dash of romance, lots of fear, and even a few crazy “WTF was that?!” moments.  Those usually involve Myrnin, as per usual.

The Vow

I have finally seen this.  I’ve wanted to see it since it came out in theaters, but my schedule just didn’t work that way between school and stuff.  Then it was too late to see it in theaters, so I had to wait for the DVD.  My mom and I tend to be big romance movie fans, me especially when either of these two are in it.

Leo and Paige are a perfect, if quirky, couple.  They fell in love, they got married, and they lived happily ever after…until one winter’s night when their car was hit from behind and Paige flew through the windshield.  Now she can’t remember the last five years and doesn’t recognize her husband’s face.  Leo, heartbroken and helpless, does what he can to help her.  But what can you do when your wife doesn’t remember you and her parents, who have never liked you, are doing all they can to separate you two?

Pretty much all I’d ever heard about this movie from others was that the ending sucked.  I thought I’d mention it now, but I won’t talk about it just yet.

Yes, I’m biased.  I’m fans of both the very sexy Channing Tatum and the gorgeous Rachel McAdams.  I thought Channing did a good job playing Leo.  He looked thoroughly heartbroken, frustrated, and helpless at times.  It was easy to see how he thought he was helping her and easy to see why she sometimes didn’t see it that way.  You can kind of see things from both sides.

I thought the love story itself was cute.  How they fell in love the first time and everything, and then how Leo tries to make her fall in love with him again.  It was just cute.

Now about this ending.  I actually liked it.  It doesn’t wrap up like a fairy tale, with the couple riding off into the sunset together.  It actually ends like you would sort of expect if you took a snapshot of someone’s life.  Which is kind of what this is, since it’s based on a real story.  So in that respect, I thought it fit.  Would I have liked the sunset and happy ending?  Of course.  I’m a Disney princess at heart.  But realistically?  Life isn’t like that, so why must every movie end that way?

Overall, it was pretty good.  No, it wasn’t perfect and it’s not this cutesy rom-com.  It’s more real.  It has more emotion.  And more flaws because of it.  But I applaud the effort wholeheartedly.

The Way We Fall (Fallen World, #1)

First Lines: Leo, it’s about six hours since you left the island.  The way things have been, I know you wouldn’t have expected me to come to see you off, but I keep thinking about how you waved and waved from the dock five years ago, when I was leaving for Toronto.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a dystopia.  Ok, maybe this is slightly more skewed to “science fiction” than “dystopia”, but I’m still going to count it as both.  It still felt like a dystopia to me.

Kaelyn moved back to the island with her family after living in Toronto for five years.  It’s not ideal; she doesn’t have many friends because most people look at her like she’s a snot for living in the big city that long.  Then a sickness starts appearing on the island.  At first, it’s just a persistent itch and some sneezing and coughing.  Then it makes you super friendly and has you sharing secrets with strangers.  And finally, you start hallucinating…right before you die.  The disease sweeps the island, causing the government to put the island under quarantine.  How long can Kaelyn and her family survive the epidemic?  What will happen to everyone?  With Kaelyn losing those that she does care about, how long does she want to hang on?

I tell you what, I started getting really paranoid after I read this.  I’m itching like crazy right now as I type this.  And a few of my family members have allergies, so the sneezing made me jump a little at first.  You really do get sucked into Kaelyn’s world, where every symptom could mean the person has the disease.

I liked that there was a love component to the story and that it didn’t detract from the rest of the story.  It took a back seat to the disease and the chaos.  That’s exactly what it should have done.

It seemed a little weird that the story was told in the journal to Leo the whole time.  It was told well, don’t get me wrong, but it just seemed like an odd way to tell the story.  It worked, so I guess I can’t complain much about it.

It ended up being pretty heart wrenching.  I mean, this disease was wiping out people right and left.  That alone is disheartening, even if you don’t know them.  You know you could be next.  And the effects of the quarantine were far-reaching as well, but I won’t go into that.  I want you to have something exciting to read, after all.  Let’s just say toward the end I really started getting choked up.  It was hard not to.

Spotlight Friday (42)

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all of my American readers!  Everyone grab their summer reading and head for the water!  Of course, I’m here to give you 3 new books that you can add to your summer reading list, though it’ll probably be more 4th of July reading than now, since you still have to wait a few weeks for these books to come out.

For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Release Date: June 12, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

What’s To Like: I’ve never read Persuasion or really any Jane Austen book.  I’m really not that into the classics.  But this sounds freaking incredible.  I’m actually happy there’s a character out there who’s going to show someone what they’re missing instead of pining over her and jumping at the chance to be together.  That’s not how the real world works.  Not always, anyway.  Also, Malakai sounds like a pirate and well…pirates are sexy.  Even if he’s not a pirate, I’m still going to pretend he is one.

My review of For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Timepiece (Hourglass, #2) by Myra McEntire

Release Date: June 12, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads): A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking…

Kaleb Ballard’s relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb’s powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he’s stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results. 

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough…

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

What’s To Like: Ok, so I got the first one for my birthday last year and I just wasn’t blown away by it.  I liked Emerson and her “I may be small, but I can kick your butt” attitude, but I didn’t really like Michael.  Kaleb, on the other hand, was cute and funny.  He stole my heart.  And now this one looks to focus a lot on him.  So this should be interesting.

Keeping Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Release Date: May 31, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)A romantic and empowering book about bullying

Noelle’s life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn’t know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle’s kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she’s terrified. Surely it’s safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it’s time to stand up for herself–and for the love that keeps her holding on.

What’s To Like: I don’t tend to read many books about bullying, mostly because they end up also having themes of suicide or something, but I like this because Noelle is going to stand up for herself.  I like empowering books where the good girl ends up showing up the others.  It gives you hope, I guess, that you can do the same if you are ever in that situation.  Also, Susane usually writes pretty cute books.

My review of Keep Holding On