Genre: Paranormal Romance

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book Review

Posted September 19, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 9 Comments

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book ReviewLies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Series: Lies Beneath #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 12, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 303
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4.5 Stars
Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

I’d been really worried about Lies Beneath, as a lot of the reviews have been mixed, but I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved so much about it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. We have a male narrator! YES! This was so refreshing. Calder is a merman from a family of human-killing mermaids. He was not born this way, but was changed to a merman after falling off a boat and drowning as a young child. Maybe that’s why he’s a bit reformed, and hopes to escape the “school of fish” loyalty and just be his own person. I loved reading his thoughts as he struggled between being who he wanted to be and being who he was created to be. I think Brown did an amazing job writing a male’s thoughts. I’ve always thought that would be a tricky thing to do.

2. This story takes place in an awesome location: Lake Superior. That lake is so mysterious and deep and freezing, and I LOVE that the story took place here rather than in the cliche tropical location. Rather than hearing about rainbow fish and sea turtles, you get to read about sunken ships and the unexplored depths of the lake. We even get a mention of an ancient road down there.

3. I really liked the evil mermaid spin. I was getting tired of the “I wish I were human, but I have this tail, so I’m going to swim around and hope I can fake being human well enough to make you love me” storyline. These mermaids love being who they are. Even Calder does not want to quit being a merman, he just does not want to suck the life out of humans. They all have their own personalities, and don’t sit around suppressing what they are. And the evil thing? It was awesome! Mermaids are made out to be monsters and not humans. It created some suspense and intrigue. I dunno, I guess I’ve always been a bit rebellious myself, so I enjoyed the more gritty and dangerous spin.

4. I really enjoyed the need for revenge that the mermaids had. It consumed their thoughts as they tried to seek revenge on the man they blamed their mother’s death on. Even though these mermaids are considered evil, you have to give them credit for never breaking a promise, and for being extremely loyal to each other. I mean, even though Calder began to change his mind regarding this revenge, his mind was so linked with his sisters’ that he really struggled with an inner turmoil that pulled him in two very different directions.

5. I appreciated Lily’s common sense and vivaciousness. I can’t stand a dumb, quivering-in-her-boots kind of heroine. Lily has a sharp mind and she knows things without having someone beat it into her head with a hammer. And I loved her little sister, Sophie. She is adorable.

6. The Hancock family’s past is vast and dynamic. I loved getting more insight into what happened to make these mermaids so mad, and what mysteries are hidden beneath the surface.

7. The romance was sweet. It was not obsessive or silly. It seemed legit to me. Calder and Lily look out for one another, and have a healthy give and take relationship. Calder is not controlling or stalkery. I mean yes, he lurks in the water outside her home to protect her, but he’s not sneaking in her room to watch her sleep. Lily is not helpless and naive. She can hold her own, and does not frighten easily. I believed this one.

8. I wish the book had spent a little more time on Calder’s sisters. Those girls were so much fun to read about, and they were really what made the book so unique. Hopefully the rest of the trilogy will give us more information on them. They could have their own spin-off series.

All in all, this book is now one of my new favorite mermaid romances. I loved the unique spin, the believable romance, and the interesting characters. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of mermaid books, and it’s also a great one to start on if you’re just dipping your toe into the genre.


Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book Review

Posted September 3, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book ReviewIllusions by Aprilynne Pike
Series: Wings #3
Published by HarperTEEN on May 3, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 375
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
"I don't do patrols, I don't go hunting, I just stick close to you. You live your life. I'll keep you safe," Tamani said, sweeping a lock of hair from her face. "Or die trying."

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

Illusions is  my favorite of the Wings series so far. It was magical, romantic, adventurous, and I got through it in 24 hours!

For the most part, I really like the characters. There’s Laurel, her boyfriend David, her sentry/guardian Tamani, her best friend Chelsea, and Chelsea’s boyfriend Ryan. There’s also a troll-hunter, Klea who I don’t like, and Klea’s foster child from Japan, Yuki. They are all different, they have personality, and they are all people I could see myself being friends with. These people are not annoying, whiny little teenagers. I forget they are in high school. Thank you, Aprilynne.  It’s so nice to read a book where the high schoolers don’t act like stereotypical high schoolers.

So, these characters are off attending high school, keeping the secrets of Faerie a secret, going to school dances heavily guarded by more sentries, protecting themselves and their human families, and avoiding the trolls that are out to discover the secret gates to Avalon, home of the faeries. Laurel spends most of her free time with David, Tamani, and/or practicing her faerie skills in her bedroom. This brings in a whole new cast of characters: the other faeries who live in Avalon and train Laurel on being a faerie during her summer breaks. She has one friend there, Katya, who I really like. She’s adorable. I also like Laurel’s teachers and mentors. The descriptions of Avalon are amazing. It sounds gorgeous, from the scenery, to the description of an out-of-this-world new year’s festival, to the architecture, even the clothing and accessories the faeries wear. I would LOVE to go to Avalon!

And then we have the characters in between: the sentries, faeries who keep a watchful eye on everyone else,  and Laurel’s parents, who are extremely understanding. SO many characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t seem like it while you’re reading. It just sounds like a lot when I type them all out in a list like this.

Obviously there’s a love triangle, just like there is in any other YA romance. I like both the guys, David and Tamani, involved in this love triangle! I find myself rooting for one, and then the other. Usually I have one favorite and I root for him throughout the entire book/series. I’m confused on who Laurel should end up with, though. I can only imagine how confused SHE is, since she’s the one actually living it. She has a very sweet bond with both the boys. In this book, though, she takes the time to focus on the guy who she’s spent most of her time brushing off, and it was adorable! This guy loves her so much, and he is so willing to wait for her to decide. I swear, I wish I had one of these guys going after me. Laurel gets both. It’s not fair. Or maybe it is. I think I’d really get stressed out loving two different men.

There’s tense moments, romantic moments, tender moments, beautiful writing, amazing settings, fun characters, and magic, magic, magic! The end had a twist I wasn’t expecting, and dropped to quite a cliffhanger! I really feel like giving away any more details would spoil everything, so I need to just stop and let you read them for yourself! I hate writing such a vague review, but it must be done! If you have read these, I’d love to hear what you thought! If you haven’t read them, hopefully my review pushed you towards giving them a try. I hope I didn’t spoil anything for anyone, and at the same time I hope I did the book justice.


Beneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan | Mini Book Review

Posted September 29, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Beneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan | Mini Book ReviewBeneath a Sapphire Sea by Jessica Bryan
Series: Merfolk Trilogy #3
Published by Fanfare on August 1, 1993
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought on Amazon Marketplace
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5 Stars
Beneath the shimmering, sunlit surface of the ocean there lives a race of rare and wondrous men and women. They have walked upon the land, but their true heritage is as beings of the sea. Now their people face a grave peril. And one woman holds the key to their survival...

She was a sultry siren with an undiscovered heritage.

A scholar of sea lore, Meredith had come to the Greek island to follow her academic pursuits. But in one magical meeting she gazed into the mesmerizing blue eyes of a proud, determined warrior of the sea...and was eternally linked with a world far more elusive and mysteriously seductive than her own. For she alone possessed a scroll that held the secrets of his people. She alone was their only hope. And she alone would surrender to the powers of a love destined by the tides.

He was an azure-eyed warrior of a long-forgotten race.

With eyes that told the stories of eternity, Galen lured this exquisite woman to join him in a battle for power beneath the sea. For now Galen's clan faces two enemies: Anastas, who wars against his own people, and a deadly unseen foe. He will cross into Meredith's world to choose her as a bold warrior for his people—and as his only love. He will share with her the secrets of a realm beyond time and imagining, and together they will emerge victorious as the keepers of its fate...or see its fragile beauty destroyed forever.

(Even though this is book 3 in a trilogy, each novel is a stand-alone)

I read a raving review for this book on a romance column and was so interested by the unique storyline that I had to buy it! I went on Amazon to order it and found that it was out of print. I kind of panicked because most good books that are out of print are extremely expensive. I found one for a penny, though! So exciting!

Meredith, a landwoman and historian, goes to the Greek islands to study ancient legends about the sea. While there, she comes across Galen, a mysterious and very sexy man with rippling muscles and long dark hair. He claims to also be a scholar and offers to show her around. Meredith soon learns that Galen is different. He can read an ancient language even the most learned scholars can’t identify, he has no problems at all with being wet, and he has heightened senses. She soon learns he is a merman.

Galen’s people and friends are dying of a mysterious illness that apparently only Meredith can remedy. Galen knows this, but Meredith has no idea who she is or the knowledge she possesses. As Galen sets out to gain this knowledge, he falls in love with her and she with him. A lasting bond is formed between the two of them as they begin their journey together to save Galen’s people and learn the truth about Meredith.

I must say that it was SO worth the effort I put in to getting a copy of this book in my possession. I loved it! The descriptions Jessica Bryan writes are beautifully written. I felt like I was the one swimming through the water, gazing at all the scenery, and feeling all the feelings the characters felt. I got so wrapped up in the story and the characters that I became unaware of my own surroundings. LOVED this amazingly beautiful and magical romance.

This review was originally posted on April 24, 2012 and was re-posted for some extra love.


Everneath by Brodi Ashton | Book Review

Posted September 8, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

Everneath by Brodi Ashton | Book ReviewEverneath by Brodi Ashton
Series: Everneath #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 24, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

When I saw the description of this story on Netgalley, followed by the buzz and excitement around the blogosphere, I knew I had to read it. Ever since I was very young, I’ve always had an intense curiosity for Greek mythology. Then, when I minored in art history in college and studied Greek art, I learned a lot more about the ancient myths from the art that illustrated them. This book is centered around the story of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, God of the Underworld. Persephone was beautiful, and sought after by many—namely Hades. One day when she was out picking flowers on the plain of Enna, Hades emerged from the ground and abducted her. Her mother, Demeter (the goddess of harvest), wandered the surface of the Earth searching for her lost daughter. When she found out what happened, she was livid (as any mother would be!). Her extreme sorrow caused her to withdraw, and the earth became infertile. Zeus knew that this could not go on forever. He sent his son Hermes down to the Underworld to get Hades to release Persephone. Hades reluctantly let her go, but gave her a pomegranate seed before she left. Once she ate it, she was bound to the Underworld forever and had to spend 1/3rd of the year there. Whenever she was with Hades, her mother would not let anything grow, thus the season of winter was born. Pretty cool story, huh? I swear, I love mythology!

In the book, the Everneath is explained as being the space between the world we live in and the Underworld, where the Everlivings have found the secret to eternal life. But they must feed off of the energy of a human every 100 years or they will die. Enter Nikki/Becks. Cole convinced her, in a moment of weakness, to go with him to the Everneath so he could feed off of her for 100 years (which is only 6 months time on the earth). When the Feed is over (which is when this book begins), Nikki is allowed to Return to Earth for 6 months before she is to be sucked into the Tunnels to serve as a battery to power Hell. Or… she can go back to the Everneath with Cole and become an Everliving, and have eternal life at the cost of the lives of human beings. She hates both of her choices. This book is all about Nikki’s quest to find a way to beat Mother Nature and stay with her family and friends.

I really enjoyed the story. I loved the unique subject matter, and how the author was able to tie in so many elements of the Greek myth, while still adding in unique aspects that made it her own. The story itself is actually pretty beautiful. It’s all about love, loss, and courage. The easy way out for Nikki would be to go back with Cole and have eternal life. She’d even have a shot at being the next Persephone and claiming the crown, becoming queen of the Underworld. That sounds a whole lot better than eternal suffering in the dark, dirty depths of Hell. She can’t fathom the idea of draining the life out of others to save herself, though, so she has chosen the Tunnels. Actually, she could have gone straight there and not return to see her family. It would have been far less painful for her to never see them, and the results of their grief while she was gone. She decides to go back to make amends and say goodbye the right way, before disappearing again. Every decision she makes in this book is for other people. I admire that about her.

Cole’s kind of a slimy character, but I always find myself rooting for the bad-boy (at least for part of the story). In the beginning he seems so wonderful (and I wanted Nikki to choose him), but once we learn what he did to her we quickly root for the sweet childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend character, Jack, instead. I loved Jack. He ached for Nikki the entire time she was gone, and upon her return he is very understanding and supportive. He gives her the space she needs to recover, and lets her come to him rather than pouncing on her and demanding answers. That a really mature way to handle a situation like this, especially from a high school boy. He was just a really good guy.

The writing was enthralling, although a few phrases were used too many times. Everything in the story was delayed for “a few moments” or “a long moment”. Like, a character would say something and the other character would respond “after a long moment”. Or two people would hug for “a long moment”. That’s really my only complaint, about the writing, though. I’ve always been the type to not like hearing or reading the same phrases. It’s a quirk of mine. I enjoyed Ashton’s descriptive passages, allowing me to picture the Tunnels, the Everneath, and especially different peoples’ emotions. I also loved that this book takes place in Utah! I live here! I go to the setting of this novel, Park City, all the time! I loved being able to picture the streets they walked down… the Sundance Film Festival, the Utah Jazz, the Weber River… the Timpanogos Caves… So fun! The characters were also great, with lots of dynamic traits. We’re told very specific things about each character, so that by the end of the story you understand their body language without needing the author to explain it. I loved that. It’s like I was watching a movie in my head as I read the book.

I can see this book having a very wide appeal. It’s not mushy gushy, so I think the guys would enjoy it (if they can handle reading a book with that cover, that is! Buy it on Kindle, boys.). It’s not juvenile, so I think it could appeal to the adult fiction lovers out there. Greek mythology enthusiasts will eat this one up. Fans of paranormal romance (YA or adult) will love it. It’s a bit of a mystery that you need to figure out, which is always a plus. Music plays a big role in it, which pretty much nobody can complain about. The book is attacked from so many different angles, that it’s very versatile. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would! I’m very intrigued by the cliffhanger ending, and can’t wait to see what the currently untitled next book has in store for us.

*This is a repost from January 14, 2012*


Beastly by Alex Flinn | Mini Book Review + Movie Thoughts

Posted March 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 22 Comments

Beastly by Alex Flinn | Mini Book Review + Movie ThoughtsBeastly by Alex Flinn
Published by HarperTEEN on October 2, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
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4 Stars
I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

I was really worried about reading a modern take on “Beauty and the Beast.” I love that story so much already that I was worried Flinn was going to ruin it. I absolutely loved it! I love the transformation Kyle makes from being a complete jerk to being Prince Charming. I mean, he was so mean and self-centered… and he really hurt people and didn’t care! He makes a complete 180, and the difference is amazing. I can see many people falling for this guy!

He meets Lindy because of her father. He got into some major trouble, and the only way to get himself out of it was to essentially give his daughter to the Kyle. Their relationship goes from absolute loathing, to tolerance, to curiosity, to a blooming romance. I love the amount of concern Kyle shows for Lindy and her well-being.

I really liked Will (Kyle’s blind tutor) and Magda (Kyle’s housekeeper) too. They were entertaining i nthe same way that Lumiere and Cogsworth are from the Disney movie.

All in all, it was a great story. Kyle’s thoughtfulness and generosity were highlights for me. If you love Beauty and the Beast, this book will not disappoint you at all. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy modern retellings of timeless fairy tales.

My thoughts on the movie version:

I was really excited to see what Hollywood was going to do to Beastly. I loved the magic of the story, and the characters were wonderful. When I saw who was playing Lindy, though, I was majorly disappointed. I’ve never been a fan of Vanessa Hudgens, and I did not think she did a very good job playing this role. And then when I found out that Mary-Kate Olsen was cast as Kendra (the witch), I almost boycotted watching it. But then it came out on DVD, and so many of my friends loved it… so I decided to try it. I thought it was just ok.

Alex Pettyfer was totally not who I pictured as Kyle. I was looking for the tall, dark and handsome type… more like Paul Wesley (Stefan from The Vampire Diaries). This guy just did not seem like he had enough going for him to be able to cause such pain in the lives of his classmates. His “beastly” look was also not what I pictured, but I liked it. It worked. Like I said, Vanessa and Mary-Kate were not the right people to cast, in my opinion… but Mary-Kate did do a great job at looking witchy. I loved Neil Patrick Harris as Will. That was a wonderful choice.

Overall, I am SO glad I read the book before the movie came out. It would have ruined the book for me if I had seen the movie first. The acting and special effects were “meh” for me, and I will most likely not watch this again. The book is so much better, so you should definitely read it, especially if you enjoyed the movie.

 


Of Neptune by Anna Banks | Book Review

Posted June 10, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Of Neptune by Anna Banks | Book ReviewOf Neptune by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #3
Also in this series: Of Poseidon, Of Triton
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Hardcover
Source: Goodreads first read
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2.5 Stars
Emma, who is half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together. Alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.

Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean-living Syrena and the land-dwelling, freshwater counterparts. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love, but their ocean kingdoms.

In this stunning conclusion to her bestselling Syrena Legacy, Anna Banks thrills fans with more action and romance than ever.

I really, REALLY loved the first two books in The Syrena Legacy, Of Poseidon and Of Triton. I was excited for this third book because I loved the characters. At the same time, I felt like there wasn’t really a need for a third book. Of Triton wrapped up everything for me, and I felt like there really was nothing left I needed from the series. For this reason, I was also worried I would not love Of Neptune. Sadly, I was right. I almost didn’t even finish it and that broke my heart.

I don’t know if I’m tired of Emma or what, but her little wacky idiosyncrasies really bugged me this time around. I feel like in areas of her life, she has grown and changed and matured. In other areas, though, she’s stayed the same silly little teenager she was before she discovered herself and her family and her destiny. Things I found funny in book one, like Emma’s “ohmysweetgoodness” and “fan-freaking-tastic” and sarcastic quips were not funny this time. I wanted her to grow up a little and show me that she has changed over the years. I didn’t even like her in this book. She’s selfish (SO SELFISH) and inconsiderate and petty. She acted too young to be in a relationship. They both did, really.

I didn’t love Galen this time, and that surprised me. Hs uses of marine words inserted into human phrases is not endearing anymore. He calls Emma “Angel Fish” and that really started to bug me! He has also gotten way too broody. I loved the romance in the first book, but things really fizzled in book 2 and even more in book 3. I’m not sure why, after everything we’ve been through with Emma and Galen, a brand new love triangle was necessary in this final book. Emma goes to a town of Half-Breeds called Neptune and meets Reed, who is immediately infatuated with her. He is immediately in love with her. He immediately wants to break Galen and her up. It feels so forced and awkward. And Emma actually considers this and I’m like, “WHAT!?” How can this even happen after it is decided that Galen and Emma are destined for one another. I don’t even believe their love story anymore if she is so easily swayed to leave him for someone else. And REED? He’s a very weak, rather useless addition to the story.

To be honest, the entire Half-Breed town fell a little short of my interest level.I did not enjoy this new storyline that had nothing to do with the other two books. I wanted the magical underwater romance that I got with the first book, and there is none of that. Galen and Emma don’t even get much time with one another. There’s a lot of pouting, brooding, jumping to conclusions, and immaturity and it just bothered me that it was coming from two people who hold a lot of responsibility and who I have invested so much time into. I missed Rayna, Nalia, Toraf, and Grom. They made small cameo appearances, and I did not get their fun personalities. They were the ones I was so excited to see again! I don’t care about these new Half-Breeds and their hidden agendas. I wanted my Syrena family back!

I will admit that I loved the epilogue. If this epilogue had been placed at the end of Of Triton, I would have been a happy girl. If you enjoyed Of Poseidon and Of Triton and are looking for a little something more, definitely read the epilogue because it is very sweet and wraps things up nicely. Of Neptune is not necessary, though, and it pains me to say that more than you might expect.


Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper | Book Review

Posted October 10, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper | Book ReviewSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 23, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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0 Stars
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

I’m SO sad, you guys. So sad. I was so intrigued by the idea of whales and witches and magic and an eerie little stormy village on an island. But honestly, Salt & Storm is the biggest disappointment of the year for me. I’ve been battling with even writing a review, but I decided to go ahead. My thoughts are very unorganized, so this is just going to be a list of things.

1. There is hardly any magic at all.
2. The writing style just did not work for me.
3. I felt like the characters spoke in a really weird way.
4. I was really upset by a dream Avery has, which includes a gruesome scene about a whale being killed by humans. It was disturbing. My review policy states that if I encounter a scene like this I’m done, but my curiosity got the best of me. Stupid curiosity.
5. I’m not sure what the point was of even including witches in this story, because there was so little having to do with them. In theory, witches are really important to the island because they bring the whales in to be killed or lead the whalers to the whales, whatever (yes, another disturbing thing to read about), but nobody was doing anything really witchy.
6. I hate Avery’s mother for taking away her freedom to choose to be a witch. This mom went as far as to almost kill Avery’s best friend in order to keep her from fulfilling her destiny.
7. Death. So much death. And I guess it was not a large quantity of death, but the fact that most of the deaths were disturbing or upsetting.
8. The characters were extremely boring. I honestly did not care, even when I could tell the author wanted me to.
9. The romance is not even worth mentioning. I hated it. I can tell the author tried to not have it be insta-lovey, but it was. And I did not like the guy at all. I can’t even remember his name.
10. There were a few twists that kept me going, but I skimmed so many passages just looking for the major details. I was bored. This book is SO SLOW.
11. In order to not spoil anything, I’m not going to discuss the ending. But I hated everything about it. Death, heartbreak, and other events that make you go, “Ok, wait what? What has been the point of this book anyway?” happened.
12. I was left feeling so unbelievably depressed. I had to go and talk to my mom and basically confess what I just read, because I just could not shake that awful dark cloud that this book installed over my head.
13. I wish I had DNFed.

*sigh* Well, there you have it. My brain dump. And honestly, I was over this book until I listed out how upset with it I am. Just thinking about it has me in a funk all over again. I can’t honestly say I would recommend this to anyone.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Mini Book Review

Posted May 5, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 6 Comments

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Mini Book ReviewDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 27, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 418
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
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5 Stars
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Guys, this book is WEIRD! Haha. It took me a little while to get into it because of its strangeness, but then I was hooked on the story. Laini Taylor is an amazing author, and I feel kind of weird for not having read this book sooner! I am so glad my book club decided to read it for April, because I finally had an excuse to read it.

Karou is the most interesting character I’ve read about in a while. She has blue hair, she is an art student in Prague, and she is not entirely human. She was raised by a demon who lives on the other side of random doors throughout the world. He gives her languages for her birthday, and gives her wishes (hence the blue hair and the fact that her ex-boyfriend itched terribly while he was nude modeling for her art class). Karou runs errands for this demon, and when he needs her he sends a tiny little demon bird to get her. She comes across Akiva on one of her errands, barely escapes with her life, and her world kind of spirals out of control from that point on. Karou is not quite sure who she is, and there are many people who hope things stay that way.

Seriously, Laini Taylor’s imagination is CRAZY. Maybe it’s the bright pink hair? I don’t know. But she is masterful at creating a dynamic and HUGE world that I am convinced exists somewhere. I usually hate stories with angles and demons (haha. No, not talking about Dan Brown here), but I really enjoyed this one! And the mystery of who Karou is, who Akiva is, and what’s GOING ON just kept me on the edge of my seat. The language is beautiful, and can I PLEASE go to Prague!? One of my book club members, Karin, was actually in Prague when she read this and I am SO JEALOUS. From what she told me, though, Laini paints an amazingly accurate Prague… so maybe I’ve been there already? Give this book a shot if you’re in the mood for a little bit of strange and a hugely weird world.


Tempest Revealed by Tracy Deebs (Book Review)

Posted June 5, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Tempest Revealed by Tracy Deebs (Book Review)Tempest Revealed by Tracy Deebs
Series: Tempest #3
Also in this series: Tempest Rising, Tempest Unleashed
Published by Walker Children's on June 4, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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2 Stars
Half-mermaid Tempest Maguire is trying to have it all: fulfilling her duties as second-in-line to the merQueen Hailana while periodically returning home to the California coastline to be with her family and longtime boyfriend, Mark.

Living under the sea and rebuilding Coral Straits is grueling work, while being back home reminds her of everyone she loves and misses. But when her old flame Kona arrives bearing news that Hailana has died and Tempest is now officially merQueen, she returns permanently to Coral Straits, even though it devastates her family and rips her apart from Mark.

Once there, she discovers that an old enemy has resurfaced, hell-bent on taking over her throne... with or without her. As Tempest prepares for her final showdown against Tiamat and anyone who stands with her, she must decide what - and who - is really important to her. Because there will be few survivors in the ultimate sea battle that is brewing - and Tempest isn't sure she will be one of them.

And so ends the Tempest trilogy, filled with mermaids, selkies, sea monsters, surfer boys, sand, and protective families. While Tempest Unleashed, book 2 in this trilogy, is still my favorite of the three, I am very happy I got to see how everything turned out for Tempest. It goes without saying, but I am saying it anyway, that if you have not read the first two books of this series, my review will spoil them for you. It’s kind of inevitable. :) As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I feel like Tempest took a step back in this book. She lost the fire I saw in her in the previous book. She’s still a tad confused over whether or not she loves Mark or Kona… and that bugged me. Maybe I just have The Bachelorette TV show on my mind right now (since I just watched the recent episode), but if you feel like you love two people then you CAN’T and SHOULD NOT be with them! Anyway, I digress. I feel like she played the martyr role out in her mind in a way too dramatic fashion. It’s like she just kept wanting to die for someone, but not for a noble reason… mainly because it would be the convenient way out! It got a little old. And really, so much of this story is of her inner thoughts as she whines and complains and acts selfish. She had a lot of obstacles to go up against, so I give her props for that… but really, she bothered me because she handled pretty much everything like a coward. I don’t like heroines who run away every chance they get.

2. Tempest Unleashed made me really dislike Kona, and now Tempest Revealed made me annoyed with Mark! He kept trying to die too! And all of a sudden, I liked Kona again. Mark has his redeeming qualities, though. His big romantic gesture is really sweet, but both he and Tempest act just a little too immature for me to pull for them. Kona’s maturity and nobility made me end up liking him the most in the end, even though he threw his own temper tantrums every now and again.

3. My favorite person in this book was Zalek, the healer who saved Moku (Tempest’s little brother) in Tempest Unleashed. I felt like he played a larger role than he had before, and I just adored him. I wish the book had been about him instead of Tempest. And I really liked Mahina, her best friend. The book could have been about her as well. She’s inventive, sweet, loyal, brave, and a hopeless romantic. I just love her.

4. Considering the fact that Tempest Revealed is the final book, and all events have been leading up to the destruction of Tiamat (the sea witch), the climax was really anti-climactic. Everything was resolved in a page or two, and it was such a tiny part of the story that I felt really let down. SO much of the book was devoted to Tempest’s mourning over lost this and that.

5. Yet… happily ever after ensues. You know it will. And honestly, I was already so let down by the anti-climactic climax that the pretty bow of an ending just frustrated me. Plus, there are loose ends flapping in the breeze. I would have liked to have heard more about her family. I mean… they end up being such an afterthought, yet everything Tempest did, she claims was to protect her family! So where are they?

All in all, I’m disappointed. I was tearing through the pages for most of the book mainly because I wanted to get past Tempest’s complaining, and get on to the action. When I finally did, it was over in the blink of an eye. Rather than going out with a bang, the trilogy really just fizzled in my eyes.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Posted May 2, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 18 Comments

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Also in this series: Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 5, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 356
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

PEOPLE. I have no idea why I took so long to read Shadow and Bone. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, but I AM NOW! This book was chock full of awesomeness and excitement and mystery. I just can’t contain my love for this book, and for Leigh Bardugo, who I am now a fan of for life. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This WORLD. Oh wow. My absolute favorite thing about Shadow and Bone is the world Leigh created for us. I love all of it, from its setting in futuristic Russia, to the elaborate keftas, to the mysterious Shadow Fold (a dark and barren wasteland filled with volcra, which I swear are some kind of dragon on steroids), and all the awesome talents of the Grisha. This world is complicated and complex with its own language. It’s amazing.

2. Leigh’s writing is out of this world. OH man. Have you seen that episode of Friends with Ross’s wedding in London, and Joey is having a hard time figuring out how to read his map, so he puts it on the ground and stands on it, putting himself INTO the map so it made more sense? That’s what Leigh did to me! I was IN the book, and I could picture and see everything. It all made so much sense, and I absolutely loved everything. Had the writing not been so amazing, this book would have flopped.

3. Alina. Oh, Alina. Talk about an amazingly bad-a heroine. I love her! She’s just a run of the mill girl one day, and then all of a sudden she’s Ravka’s everything. She gets swept up into the magic and excitement of the lavish castle, and gets to wear fancy clothes, dine on yummy foods, and be the topic of every conversation. But through it all, she stays humble, really just wanting to become a part of the wall or the floor rather than shine. She’s timid and scared and confused, and she feels inadequate. But as the story progresses, she grows into this brave, confident young woman who will sacrifice and cause problems and fight for herself.

4. Oh, the Darkling. MAN. I’d heard stories about him floating around the blogosphere, and now finally understand what everyone has been talking about! He’s dark and sexy and charming and dangerous, and people are just drawn to him for some mysterious reason. Reading about him was rather intoxicating. I was drawn to him too! But like I said, he’s dangerous… and I swear, I always love the dangerous character!

5. MAL. Can I have Mal for myself? Mal is Alina’s childhood friend, who she has never really been able to live without. But when she is taken to the castle, and he is made a tracker for the kingdom, they lose each other. What a beautiful friendship they have. He’s brave and protective and SO full of secrets and depth. 

6. The romance is perfection. There’s not too much, not too little, nothing really insta-love… it all makes sense for the circumstances. I loved it. And that’s all I will say, because it’s too good to even come close to spoiling.

7. I feel like everything happens! Shadow and Bone is chock full of adventure, mystery, action, emotion, romance, opulence, relationships, and questions. The ending is just… urg.se.rgusheg;sghus.ergisjherg!

Clearly, I loved Shadow and Bone. I have nothing bad to say about it, and can’t stop thinking about it at ALL. I read this one really fast, and when I was not reading I was thinking about it. If you love fantastic world-building, strong characters, mystery, intrigue, romance of extreme proportions, and beautiful writing, you will love Shadow and Bone.

Watch the book trailer for Shadow and Bone! Pretty amazing!

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