Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne


Solu's luxurious celebrity-filled Cruise to Lose is billed as "the best cruise since the Titanic," and if the new diet sweetener works as promised - dropping five percent of a person's body weight in just days - it really could be the answer to the world's obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She's already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.


Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his childhood "Baby-Tom-Tom" image. His publicists have even set up a "romance" with a sexy reality-TV star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.

4 Stars

Sweet was my first TBR Jar pick. It wasn't a book I would have picked up this month so I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much (I typically read scary/horror/gory books in the fall/winter). Sweet was equal parts horror and trendy. An odd combinations for sure, but it totally works. The writing isn't perfect but the story was highly entertaining and made up for it. The romance was totally predictable, but I just didn't care. The story moved at a steady pace and the gore was extremely satisfying. Emmy Laybourne doesn't hold back, y'all!

The concept of an artificial sweetener turning people into rabid addicts was morbidly fascinating but also hit close to home considering how diet-obsessed our society is. And let's not forget about that bath salts craze that turned users rabid. 

As far as I've been able to find, there is no sequel which is a bummer because the ending is wide open for one. I really want a sequel! Ms. Laybourne has another trilogy published, Monument 14, which I own and will definitely be picking up in the near future. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: Lexicon by Max Barry

Stick and stones break bones. Words kill.

They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words.

They'll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember.

Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.

There's a word, they say. A word that kills.

And they want it back . . . 

3 Stars

My feelings about this book are all over the place. It starts off with a bang and I couldn't put it down for a couple of chapters. 

Who were these men? Why did they put a needle in Wil's eye? Who the hell is chasing Wil & these strange men? Who is Wil supposed to trust? 

You see what I mean? Confusing but just enough intrigue to keep me reading for a while. By page 53 I was exhausted. I put Lexicon down & read a different book (Sweet by Emmy Laybourne), not knowing if I would DNF it or not. 

By the time I finished Sweet, I found myself wondering about Lexicon and poets and "barewords," so I decided to pick it up again. At first I was glad I gave it another chance, but then I got to the last 5 chapters or so. By then, I was so confused & mentally exhausted again. The climax of the story just kept going and going and going and going...then BOOM. 

The end.

Like, huh? What?!

There were plot twists all over the place too. Just when I thought I understood what was happening & who was who...  BAM! Plot twist. One or two plot twists is awesome, but Lexicon had so many that it made me dizzy. 

I'm honestly not sure if I would recommend  Lexicon to anyone but I'm positive I will never reread it. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Raven by Stacey Rourke

Book 2 of The Legends Saga

Pick up book 1 here:

An infamous love, destined nevermore,
For death could not claim, the enchanting Lenore.

Cursed by the malevolent spirit of the Headless Horseman, Ireland Crane ventures to Manhattan in search of a way to break her soul crushing bond. Instead, she discovers the lines between fact and fiction are blurring once more. Croaking ravens. Telltale hearts. Could the works of Poe be coming to pass with handsome Wall Street Midas Ridley Peolte as their unwilling target?

She walks the Earth, a plague on mankind,
searching for he, her rotted heart doth pine.

Together, the two unknowingly release a dark force death itself could not tame. Surrounded by the unrelenting violence and mayhem they’ve unleashed, Ireland feels her control over the Horseman slipping. Before the beast within consumes her, she and her crew must follow the clues of the dead to right a centuries’ old wrong. Will it be enough to sate the Horseman’s appetite?

Hell hath no fury like a ghoul scorned.

Raven is book 2 in The Legends Saga with Crane being the first book. I am a huge sucker for retellings, but The Legends Saga stands apart from all the others because they are based on DARK tales. Book 1 focuses on the legend of Sleepy Hollow and book 2 revolves around Edgar Allen Poe. Yesssss!! I thoroughly enjoyed Edgar's story, and his "affliction" was super creepy!

Edgar and Lenore's story was so pure yet tragic. I did hope to get a more detailed look at Edgar's writing process/career. Admittedly, I'm not very familiar with the works of Poe, so I'm sure the story is chock full f references I just didn't catch. Stacey is good like that. 

The ending was heartbreaking, satisfying, and left me wanting more, so much more. The only thing I have left to say is...

How could you, Stacey??

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow thinks that playing the role of the fairy queen Titiana in a production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream could be her lucky break - if she can pull it off. But when she meets the handsome Sonny Flannery, Kelley has to face the shocking truth that the world of Faeries is all too real - and that she an unwitting part of it. Sonny warns Kelley that she is no mere mortal, and that she is being haunted by powerful forces from the Faerie realm. Now, Kelley must come to terms with her heritage - and her growing feelings for Sonny - if she wants to save not only herself, but also the human world that she holds dear.

5 Stars

Wondrous Strange was just plain magical!

Sonny was, by far, my favorite character. He was equal parts swoony sweetheart and tortured soul. I loved everything about him. It was adorable how he would get confused over things Kelley would say. All he wanted to do was figure out why all of the trouble he was dealing with kept leading back to her, but to Kelley it looked like he was being creepy and following her. He kept trying to explain to her what was going on but of course she didn't believe him. 

I felt sorry for Sonny because he didn't really fit in anywhere. 
1- He's a changeling who grew up in the fairy realm and thus has no knowledge of our culture.
2- Oberon made him a Janis, a guard whose sole responsibility is to guard the gateway between our realm & the fairy realm by any means necessary - including death, and so fairies hate him because it is his specialty to maim/kill fairies. He doesn't fit in with the humans or the fairies. 

The story revolves around The Wild Hunt, one of my favorite fairy concepts, and takes place in New York, mainly Central Park, which I also loved. Finally, Puck. His story and how he is connected to Kelley is very sweet and I hope it gets fleshed out more in books 2 & 3. The second book, Darklight, is at the top of my June TBR and I can't wait to visit this world again. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier. 

4.5 Stars

The Valiant was just plain awesome. I can't remember ever reading a book set in the time of Caesar. I found the whole gladiator fascinating.

Fallon is a straight up bad ass. The fact that she didn't whine much after she was kidnapped was great. A lot of times when an MC is dealt a raw deal their internal dialogue turns so whiny, and it makes it hard to focus on the story and their journey. Totally not the case with Fallon. One of my favorite parts of the story was the friendship between Fallon and Elka (who is a bad ass in her own right). Elka was so supportive of Fallon and kept her grounded. I want my own Elka! 

The story didn't solely focus on the "forbidden romance" and it was so refreshing. I loved Cai but I wanted to see more of his life. He would make comments about his father putting him in strategically placed positions for political advancement. I would have liked to have read some of their conversations. 

Cleopatra makes a couple appearances but she is still a mystery for me. I want to know how she met Fallon's sister. I want to know the back story on how they became such good friends. 

Finally, the fight sequences were freaking awesome. As I read them I kept picturing them with a 300 vibe. I could totally see Fallon kicking ass Spartan-style! 

When I got my hands on this book I couldn't wait to read it, but now I kind of wish I'd waited because now I'm dying for the next book!

I really love Ms. Livingston's writing style and immediately picked up her book, Wondrous Strange (a reread for me), after I finished The Valiant. I am determined to read her other 2 trilogies this summer (Wondrous Strange & Starling). 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston


Nothing ever happens in the town of Long Thorpe – that is, until sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson disappears without a trace. No family or police investigation can track her down. Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out….


My stomach dropped as a tall, dark-haired man stepped into view. Had he been hiding between the trees?

"No. Sorry." Gulping, I took a step back. "I'm not Lily."

He shook his head, a satisfied grin on his face. "No. You are Lily."

"I'm Summer. You have the wrong person." You utter freak!

I could hear my pulse crashing in my ears. How stupid to give him my real name. He continued to stare at me, smiling. It made me feel sick.

"You are Lily," he repeated.

Before I could blink, he threw his arms forward and grabbed me. I tried to shout, but he clasped his hand over my mouth, muffling my screams. My heart raced. I'm going to die.


This book was a total impulse buy back last year while I was perusing the book aisle in Target. I can't visit Target and not take a quick peek (read: at least 15 minutes) at the book aisle. The Husband does not understand this rule, and when I have to go to Target with him, I leave feeling empty because I don't get to stop by and see my friends in the book aisle.


It's no secret that I'm very picky about what contemporary books I will read, especially YA. I need more in my plots than some girl wondering if the boy likes her or not...which seems to be the majority of YA contemporary (okay sure, there's some coming of age stuff in there, but since I've already came of age and surpassed it, I'm good, no thanks). So, when I read the synopsis and learned it was about a girl who gets kidnapped, I was sold.


The beginning of this book was so slow for me and I just felt like all Summer did was whine. I know, totally justified, but that girl spent an obscene amount of time crying. I found myself skimming over the chapters in her POV, which is ridiculous since that's where all of the good/horrible stuff is supposed to be happening. I even found Lewis's search for her more interesting. I wanted more from Colin's POV. I wanted more about his childhood with his mother who supposedly made such an impact on him that it drove him to severe OCD, killing prostitutes (chill, it's not really that big of a spoiler), and kidnapping the girls. So your mom caught your dad running around on her...totally not enough basis to turn into a psychopath, for crying out loud. I dunno. I'm just on the fence about this one. I gave it 3 stars because at about 70%, some drama ensued and I couldn't put the book down because I just had to find out how it all ended. Honestly, if I wasn't going through withdrawals from Criminal Minds (I marathoned all 10 seasons and can't find season 11, *sad face*), then I probably wouldn't have picked it back up.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: The Whispers by Daryl Banner


This book can be read as a standalone. Although reading the Beautiful Dead Trilogy would enrich your experience, it is not required.

Jennifer needs to know the truth about the Beautiful Dead. Do they really exist, or is it all a lie?

She faces punishment from the university if she pursues her forbidden Undeadly studies - but she could also change the world. One reckless decision (that may or may not be totally illegal) sends Jennifer and her friends embarking on an adventure of adeathtime to find the truth at last.

She did not expect, however, to discover the fate of all humanity resting in her little Living hands.

The Beautiful Dead Trilogy

The Beautiful Dead (book 1)

Dead of Winter (book 2)

Almost Alive (book 3)

Or snag the box set!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange 
for my honest review.*


I don't even know where to start with this book. It's a blessing and a curse all wrapped up in one lovely package. I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I most definitely was not ready to say goodbye to Winter & Co., so when the chance to get an ARC was presented to me, I pounced on it right away. That being said, I think I went into this one with my hopes up just a little bit too high. But let me explain!


I was hoping for more backstory on how the Undead came to be and I was hoping for more glimpses of Winter and John *SPOILER* even though I knew they literally blew away in a cloud of glorious undead dust at the end of Almost Alive. I clung to the false hope that maybe Jennifer or John (come on, his name is John!) would have some confusing dreams about Winter and John (which has yet to be confirmed that they are, in fact, Winter and John reincarnated, but I'm going to assume/hope/pray/beg that they are). It just felt like something was missing for me. I think it's because I'm still so attached to Winter and John. And this is my fault.


Now that we've gotten the hard part out of the way, let me tell you that The Whispers will draw you in just like The Beautiful Dead trilogy. You don't have to read The Beautiful Dead trilogy to understand what is going on in The Whispers, but ohhhhh I highly recommend it. Trust me. You will get so much more out it if you do.


Having read The Beautiful Dead trilogy already, this book made me so nostalgic for that world. I loved all of the little nods to the trilogy throughout the story. I was so eager to breeze through the book and see what would happen that I'm sure I missed a lot of the references. It was like finding little Easter eggs. I'm going to have to do a reread, take my time, and make a list...but first I'm going to have to reread The Beautiful Dead trilogy so that all of its wonders are fresh in my mind.


 The Whispers completely whetted my appetite for more stories in this world. I have several conspiracy theories about why Jennifer wasn't allowed to further her research on The Beautiful Dead and present all of her truthful findings. I have theories about just who Professor Praun and President Vale really are. I just have so many theories and questions, and the book was only about 200 pages, which wasn't nearly enough. I'll never have enough of this world.


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