Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles, #2)

First Lines: Where should I begin?  With travesty?  Heartache?  No, I don’t want to begin with where I am now.  I don’t want to end that way either.

This was the last of my library haul that I had to read.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it; it was just that some of the other books were more important to me.  I knew I was going to like this when I finally got to it.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Ali Bell has lost more than most people.  Friends, family, a home.  But her loses aren’t over yet.  After a zombie attack one night, strange things begin happening to Ali.  Mirrors come to life when she looks at them.  Whispers that aren’t her own fill her ears.  But worst of all, dangerous impulses tell her to do some dark and terrible things.  She needs her friends and Cole more than ever…but Cole is pulling away, not only from her, but from everyone.  With Kat, her best friend, by her to support her, Ali will face the zombies, uncover Cole’s secrets, and fight off the darkness inside her.  But the clock is ticking.  If she’s too slow, the darkness will take over.  Tick tock.

First of all, I love that this is a bizarre twist on Alice in Wonderland.  I like trying to spot the allusions in the book.  I know I miss a lot of them, but it’s still fun.  Besides, this is great story in its own right.  It doesn’t need AiW to stand.

I was very worried for this book when I saw that it had a sequel slump in it.  (That’s the part in a series where for whatever reason, the main couple just *cannot* be together.  It happens a lot.)  However, it played into the story really well.  It’s easy to see why Cole does what he does, and why Ali does the things she does.  That goes a long way to turning it from a cliche to an essential part of the plot.  It’s a small but distinct difference.

I really like Ali and the other girls in this story.  There isn’t a wimpy, “why me?” character in the bunch.  These girls fight for what they want, and they do it with roundhouse kicks, wit, and a stubborn attitude.  I love that.  It’s so nice to see girls who are willing to stand up for themselves.  And each of these girls also suffers from some kind of lack of self-confidence.  And that’s nice too.  Nobody, no matter how strong, is invulnerable.

I thought the plot for this story was a bit of an adventure.  It never quite went where I thought it would.  When I’d think I had something figured out, I’d be close, but never quite on it.  (As they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades…)  That’s always a little thrilling, especially when the story doesn’t quite end where I think it will.

Overall, it was a pretty good read.  I had points where the action slowed, but it was a good read overall.

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The Iron Queen (The Iron Fey, #3)

First Lines: Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.  One year ago, on the very same day, my brother was taken from me, as well.  But that time, I went into Faery to take him back.

If you’ve been following me much over the past six months or so, you’ve seen how into this series I’ve become.  So when I saw this on the library shelf, I broke my usual rule of 5 books in order to get this book as well.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Meghan thought her time in Faery was over.  After being cast out, she looked forward to spending some time with her family in the mortal world.  But Faery, as it turns out, isn’t done with her.  As the Iron Fey gain more and more control over Faery, Summer and Winter are determined to stand their ground.  Meghan, caught between two worlds, may be the only person who can defeat the Iron Fey and save those she cares most about.

I really enjoyed this story.  I like seeing Meghan grow and watching the characters around her change as well.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Puck, Ash, or even some zany off-the-wall character like Grimalkin, it’s so much fun to read.  I really enjoy the humor they bring to the story as well.

The action this time was pretty superb.  There’s a lot of action to go around, from actually fighting to just inner conflict and turmoil.  I couldn’t always predict what would happen next.

Funny story.  So I’m in the middle of student teaching right now and I brought this book to class to finish it yesterday.  I’m in a class with 16 guys and I’m sitting at my desk reading this lovely pink book.  Then I start getting to the end and I’m trying to blink back tears.  I’m already seen as weird by some of the students for wanting to read (can you believe them?), so I didn’t want to give them more to judge me on.  But yeah.  That’s how I finished the book.

I didn’t realize when I started this that this is more or less the end of Meghan’s part of the story.  I know the next book is told from another character’s POV, and it just seems like we’re finished seeing Meghan’s side.  I’m fairly confident she’ll be back in the story again, just not as the narrator.

This was a really lovely read.  I really enjoyed it.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

A Mad, Wicked Folly

First Lines: I never set out to pose nude.  I didn’t, honestly.

I found this book only a couple of months ago as I scoured the internet for new releases for 2014.  I adore historical fictions, so it was a no-brainer for me to add this to my to-read list.

London, 1909.  A place where social class means everything, money equals power, and women are nothing more than sensitive adult-children.  Enter Vicky, who just wants to be an artist.  After posing nude in one of her art classes, she’s forced home amid scandal and shame.  Her parents try to cover the scandal quickly by announcing her engagement to Edmund Carrick-Humphreys, a young man from a rich family that is willing to overlook Vicky’s scandal.  But Vicky has her own plans in mind.  She’s applied at the Royal College of Art to be a real artist.  Caught up in the suffragette movement and a working-class boy who is her muse and maybe her true love, life quickly begins spiraling out of Vicky’s control.  As a debutante in high society, how much is Vicky willing to give up to follow her dreams?

In no fault of the book, I found the first half or so of the book a little slow.  That’s mostly because, apparently, even as a teacher, there are some days so slow and boring that you can actually read nearly 200 pages in one school day.  That was incredible, but I eventually got tired of sitting in uncomfortable chairs and reading.  So I’m definitely not holding this against the book.  Just worth mentioning.

I quickly came to love Vicky’s spirit.  She’s got a lot of fire in her.  Her passion is easily art and drawing.  That comes through in every chapter as Vicky fights for it.  I really liked seeing a main character who was so passionate about something like that and was willing to admit that she still needed to learn a lot about it.

It was easily evident that a lot of research went into writing this book.  It felt fantastically real, whether it was fashion, the suffrage movement, real historical figures, high society, or slang.  All of it was there and there’s a great author’s note at the end to give you more information on all of these topics (except slang).  I really liked that it was so well-researched because it gives the story a more authentic tone.  The research came up all the time.  London, 1909, wasn’t just the setting.  It bled into every facet of the story.

There are a lot of great themes about this story that I could go into.  Obviously, the theme of following your heart is huge.  But there was also this slow, curling theme of what it means to be a girl/woman.  The suffragettes were a great backdrop for that because they believed very differently (for the time) what it meant to be a woman and what rights women should have.  I found myself feeling very offended by the way some of the characters treated women.  (In the author’s note, you learn that many of those things are completely historically accurate, and it’s horrifying.)

The characters, I thought, were all fantastic.  From Vicky to her family, the suffragettes to the boring high society girls Vicky has to deal with, all the characters were well-fleshed out and interesting.  Between the characters and the plot, I couldn’t lose with this book.

Overall, I thought it was a great historical fiction.  I really loved it, and I’m sure the story will stick with me for quite some time.

Lipstick Apology

First Lines: Steve McCaffity just undressed me with his eyes.  Okay, maybe I’m still clothed, but we definitely made eye contact.  Well, actually, he might have only glanced at the tiny chocolate stain on my V-neck–so it was noticeable.  I decided to level with myself.  It was actually quite possible that Steve McCaffity didn’t even know that I existed.

This is one of those books I found so long ago online or in a store that I don’t even remember why it first appealed to me.  It’s been on my to-read list for ages, and I decided that it was finally time I did something about it.  (I’m making good progress on this goal of reading older books.)

It only took a moment and four words to change Emily’s life forever.  One minute, she’s dancing at a party.  The next, she learns her parents have been killed in a plane crash.  The only thing her mother left was an apology written in lipstick that said “Emily, please forgive me.”  Only Emily doesn’t know why.  She’s uprooted from her Pennsylvania home to live with her aunt in New York City, which is nothing like the world Emily used to know.  At school, she catches the attention of two completely different boys: Anthony, the baker-by-night who is her first friend at her new school, and Owen, the most beautiful and most popular boy in their class.  Ultimately, Emily will have to choose between the boy who makes her forget and the boy who helps her remember and heal.

Ok.  So maybe you caught this as you were reading the description.  The tone of the story shifts drastically from the beginning to the end.  When I started this, I really thought it was going to be more of a mystery.  Why did Emily’s mom write the apology?  What did she need forgiveness for?  However, even though this was big enough to become the title of the book, it took a back seat to the romance.  That was disappointing.

I was also a bit disappointed that this story took a turn for the shallow end of emotions after a while.  Instead of really diving into the theme of forgiveness, it became a book of “OMG, did you see what she was wearing?  Hey, let’s go get facials!”  As a reader who isn’t much of a girly-girl, this was really annoying really quickly.

Now, Emily has some very real struggles in her life.  I mean, she just lost her parents and the only home she’s ever known.  That would be enough to put me in a nearly-permanent bad mood, at least for a few months.  And Emily handled things pretty well.  You put on top of that living with an aunt who has no idea how to be a mother, a new school, and figuring out how NYC works, and Emily is justified to have a few outbursts.  (Which she does, occasionally.)  I really felt some sympathy for her.

That was one thing this book did pretty well: characters were varied and unique.  Their relationships felt real.  Emily and her aunt don’t always have things in common, nor do they always understand each other, but you come to understand each of them.  And the love interests are as different as night and day without being over-the-top.  Emily’s friends are all over the map.  I felt by the end of the story that I had a fairly good grasp on who everyone was, personality-wise.  So that was really good.

Overall, I just misjudged what I thought this book would be about.  I wanted more of a mystery, but what I got was a romance.

Spotlight Friday (99)

Happy Valentine’s Day!!  Sorry I didn’t post one of these last week, but things got crazy.  But that’s ok, because today’s a new day and it brings with it three new books!

Searching for Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)Before, Brynn had a group of best friends, a loving boyfriend, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And after…she had none.

When Brynn lost the boyfriend who never loved her, the friends who feel she betrayed their trust, and the new life just beginning to grow inside her, she believes her future is as empty as her body. But then Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of.

But can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life’s own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?

What’s To Like: What I really want to know with this book is what happened.  Why did Brynn’s life “collapse”?  Why do her friends feel betrayed?  And I’m all about books that push people to create art.  I sometimes get the impression from the world we’re living in that people don’t think art (of any kind) is important.  But it totally is.  My gut instinct is that this will be a worthwhile read.

Half Bad (Half Life, #1) by Sally Green

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

What’s To Like: Does this not scream awesome read?  Yes, yes it does.  I’m very interested to see exactly what these witches are like.  They differ in every story.  But I like the idea of Nathan being half good and half bad.  It’ll bring in the conversation of whether we’re born bad or if it’s a choice.  And I really like those.  (Wicked is a good example of that.)

My review of Half Bad

Wayfarer (Tales of Beauty & Madness, #2) by Lili St. Crow

Release Date: March 6, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads)Ellie Sinder is a Charmer—the most powerful of her age that St. Juno’s Academy has ever seen. But Ellie’s stepmother, Laurissa, wields manipulation and abuse to force Ellie to work her spells ever more intensely, for Laurissa’s profit.

Then a train from over the Wastelands arrives in New Haven, bearing on it golden boy Avery Fletcher, newly returned from prep school, wearing a sweater Ellie’d love to bury her face in and a smile as bright as his blond hair. Avery’s arrival sets Laurissa off on a dark and dangerous scheme—and this time the soul up for grabs is Ellie’s.

What’s To Like: I know I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book in this series, but I’m hoping that now that I’m more familiar with the world, this will be better.  This is a twist on Cinderella, if you couldn’t tell.  It follows a new character (though she was well-known in the last book).  Still, I think this could be really interesting.  You know, if I could figure out what exactly a Charmer is.

Blood and Lilies Spotlight

Hello friends!  I’m excited to show you guys a spotlight for a new book!  Just check it out and see if this strikes your fancy.

Lyn CroftBlood and Lilies by Lyn Croft

The blurbFirst in the Bloodlines Series

Once cast from Heaven, Zillah has vowed to destroy God and overtake his kingdom. But a key is needed to open the gates between the two realms.

The Key to the gate walks the earth in the form of a woman…young, innocent and completely unaware of her importance in the battle between good and evil. Once her blood is shed, Zillah can open the portal to release her father…Lucifer himself.

Cara, a college sophomore, is quickly thrown into the world of the supernatural, as well as learning of her true ancestry. Vampires, werewolves and the Nephilim are now a part of her reality. As the beings struggle to protect her, she fights to keep her sanity as her mortal realm is crushed.

Secrets are revealed that could shatter Cara’s new found love, as well as lead to her ultimate death. A family is torn apart as the battle to save the key leads them down a road of betrayal and heartache. Loved ones are lost, lines are crossed, and nothing is as it seems. Lies and truths twist and turn, leaving us with only one question…

Could you sacrifice the one you love to save the world?

An excerpt: The evening sky pulsed, hues of deep purples and blacks engraving blurry lines above the earth. The night echoed its cries, carried by angry breezes through the hills of the land. The cemetery, cascaded in carved tombstones that sprouted from the ground, laid empty and dormant, except for the busy, yet silent whispers of the dead.

The ground, wet and damp, gave way beneath Cara’s bare feet as she trudged through the mud pushing between her toes. Her eyes traveled towards the ground to study her soiled feet, finding her body was draped in a simple, yet elegant white dress which graced her pale legs just below her knees. The plunging neckline stopped just beneath the cleft of her breast as the thin silk straps hugged the tops of her shoulders, exposing her bare delicate skin.

She scanned around her, alone and frightened, like a young child strayed from its mother. It was so dark, and the crested moon, swarmed by rolling darkened clouds, offered no safe haven of light to guide her way. Slow and unsure, she stepped cautiously, waiting blindly for an edge that would send her spiraling down into a never-ending abyss, swallowing her whole. The shadows danced in front of her, playing tricks on her unfocused eyes as her feet took her step by step.
Where was she? How did she get here? She could hear faint whispers of the dead crying out to her from the spirit world. Their words made no sense as they all jumbled together like a soft but unmelodic hum in the air. Her ears strained to make out parts of the words, hoping to piece together some language so she could better understand why they’d brought her here.

Realization struck. The voices had guided her here. She turned around to where the whispers grew, louder and more needful. She followed them as they increased, vibrating through her head as if they were coming from inside her brain, instead of churning in the air around her. The darkness frightened her, yet she still continued, following the only guidance she had.

Cara.

She could hear it now. Through the vast echo of the whispers, she could make out her name. They called to her, begged her to come near. She obeyed. 
Something hard struck her toes, shooting instant pain up through her legs, like lightning igniting through her to her very core. Her body flew forward as she reached out to stop her fall. She expected a large stone to split her head. Or perhaps the tip of a metal cross would impale her through her chest and end it all, without her knowing or seeing it in the darkness before her. But there was nothing as her body hit the soft ground beneath her.

Grass laced itself through her fingers as she looked up to the gravestone in front of her. The clouds that had hugged the moon so well broke, lighting the etched carvings before her so she could see. What she read on the engraving shook her to the core. Her eyes couldn’t process, couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing.

Cara L. Chadwick
Beloved Friend and Student
We will miss you always
Oct. 18, 1992 to Dec. 21, 2012

A cry escaped her lips as Cara pushed herself up from the ground as fast as she could, stumbling backwards. She wanted to turn away, run and never look back. There was no way in hell she was going to stay here to hang out with her own tomb. And the date…it was this Friday’s date…or had it already arrived and was now in the past? Cara realized she had no idea of what time it was, or the day, but she needed to escape and get out of this place as fast as her bare feet could carry her.

Author Bio

Lyn Croft is a sci-fi fantasy writer born and raised in sunny Southern California. There, she raises her daughter, works full time, writes novels, and plays video games in her spare time.
Her new book, “Blood & Lilies ~ Bloodlines” is her debut novel, and the first in a series of epic tales for the battle between good and evil.

Links

Happy reading!

Giveaway Winners!!!

Yay, guys!  The giveaway is over and I have officially picked my winners!

Drum roll please!

GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Erin Higgins

RUNNER-UP WINNER: Daycia Leppert

Congrats, girls!  I will be in contact with you very soon to figure out where to send your things!

Thanks to everyone who entered!