Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (audiobook)
Read by: Kim Mai Guest
Time: 10 hours and 29 minutes
Publisher: Listening Library, 2011
Source: library
BUY: Amazon -- BN -- Book Depository

Goodreads Description:
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. so she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, perfect, Etienne has it all... including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? 

My Review:

Wow. Romance. And drama. I have to say, I thought I’d read chick lit before, but I was wrong. Very wrong. Call me ignorant, but I thought I’ve read a good amount of kissing and love struggles in my lifetime, but this book had me really feeling the heartache and the tension between Anna and St. Clair.  The relationship between Anna and St. Clair was agonizing. But in a good way, if you know what I mean. I’m pretty sure I was yelling at them at one point, “Why can’t you just see you two are meant for each other!! Gah!! the heartache is unbearable.” Anyway, it’s probably good I listened to this book while I was home alone. I couldn’t control my emotions very well, but that is unsurprising.

This book was a quick read, and even though nothing really surprising happens, I really enjoyed it. I started reading this book on my vacation. I was at the beach for a few days, and I could not have picked a better book. It was a lot of fun, despite my desire to shake Anna’s brains out so she could stop acting like a stupid teenager.  I suppose that was the glory of the book. Anna and St. Clair were undoubtedly in love, and unbelievably stupid at the same time. It’s a classic tale of love and heartache, but I grew to love all of the characters despite their teenage ignorance. I mean, I was a teenager once :)

On the narration, I thought Kim Mai Guest did a great job at creating new voices and personality for each of the characters. It really brought the story to life. I hated St. Clair’s voice at first, but after a while I didn’t even notice it. I guess it’s pretty difficult to capture that American, with an English accent, who also knows and speaks fluent French, male voice. Other than that, Guest was a very animated story-teller, and I really enjoyed listening to this book.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun romance. It doesn’t take long to finish, and you’ll probably finish reminiscing about all of your own past or current lovers. Or maybe you’ll just be dreaming about St. Clair’s fabulous hair. Either way, you won’t regret it.

I give this book a four out of five fantastic foxes. Despite it’s foreseeable plot and stock characters, it was quirky and uplifting. The writing was strategic as the plot moved with ease while still making me beg for more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spotlight: The 5 Moons of Tiiana by Paul T. Harry

The 5 Moons of Tiiana by Paul T. Harry
Genre: Science Fiction
Tone: Adventure, mystery, excitement mixed with drama and humor.

The 5 Moons of Tiiana is a science fiction narration on a soldier caught in the middle of an interstellar war, faced with rescuing the princess he loves, and solving an ancient alien mystery that might bring peace to the galaxy.

Rez Cantor is a captain in the Imperial Army’s Shadow Guard, and the personal attaché to Leanna, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the Emperor, and sole heir to the Melelan throne.

On the eve of a treaty signing ending a twelve-year war between the Relcor and the Empire, Rez Cantor learns that the Imperial family has been slated for death.

Under orders from his Queen, Rez is given a final command–save the Princess at all costs. Unprepared, bewildered, and overwhelmed, Rez has only hours to formulate a plan, break into the Imperial Palace, and whisk the princess away before the Relcor learn of the deceit.

Not to be stymied, Rez is partially successful in his efforts. He steals Leanna away, and the two flee Melela in a spaceship, along with others of the Imperial Guard, including Rez’s arch nemesis, Philip Golan—but at the edge of space tragedy strikes. Their ship is nuked as it enters warp, and what happens next transcends all Rez knows or understands. Knocked unconscious during their tumultuous escape, Rez awakens to find himself on a beach–alone–without the princess and no idea where he is.  His predicament worsens as he begins to experience his new environment–an alien moon that harbors new hostilities and challenges at every turn, including a metal-eating cloud that appears to be both alive and deadly.

So begins the sojourn of Rez Cantor upon the Moons of Tiiana.

Trapped upon the water-covered moon of Urlena, Rez is captured by the water-breathing Aquella, genetically altered, and made a slave. For two years he labors in the ore mines at the bottom of the sea for his new aquatic masters. Determined to regain control of his life, Rez manages to escape. He makes his way to the moon’s surface and finds an ancient decaying city where he takes up residence. It is here, while fighting for survival, that he stumbles across a transfer point leading to another moon–Boutal.

Rez arrives on Boutal, sick and emaciated from his life as an Aquellian slave. He is found by a mystic called Ahska along with her son, Oolat, a giant humanoid ape-wolf. Together, these two nurse Rez back to health, while initiating him into life upon Boutal–a pre-industrial, medieval society, harboring many secrets. It is on Boutal that Rez begins to realize his destiny, though he lacks true understanding. It is only through a series of events, including the color of his skin being changed, that Rez learns that Boutal is under siege from external forces and that the Princess of Melela is alive and well. She is now a full-grown woman, and a dark-skinned beauty in her own right, easily capturing Rez’s heart. The only obstacle to their reuniting is the fact that she is now married to Hazadek, the medieval King of Casita.

Stealing Leanna from Hazadek, Rez and the Princess flee to the northern mountains of Luskia where, with Oolat’s help, they begin to look for a way home. It is during this time that Leanna becomes pregnant. Thrilled at the prospect of being a father, Rez becomes obsessed with finding a way back to Melela, but fate has other plans. The pyramid transfer point they discover in the Northern Plains is under the control of another alien race–the Zecla. The Zecla are a malevolent warrior race of spider-wasps who live on the moon of Zin. They are locusts that propagate every two thousand years, and to meet their biological needs they migrate, bringing death and destruction to everyone in their wake. As fate would have it, they have found access to Boutal and are preparing for an invasion. On their initial foray they kidnap Leanna and take her back to Zin.

In a desperate effort to find Leanna, Rez inadvertently journeys to the moon of Aura where he is reunited with his old nemesis, Philip Golan, the scientist and pilot who helped him and the Princess escape from Melela. Originally enemies, Rez finds that things have changed drastically for Philip–he’s no longer human. During their escape from Melela, Philip was critically injured, and while Rez ended up a slave on Urlena, Philip in turn ended up on the moon of Aura–a moon populated by robots. With extensive injuries to his body, the robots saved Philip the only way they knew how, by converting him to a wheelchair bound cyborg.

Because Philip is a genius, and the fact that he is linked with the robot race of Aura, he has gained an understanding of what has transpired upon the moons of Tiiana. He educates Rez on the two thousand-year-old war that ripped the moons of Tiiana apart. He also provides Rez with a way to save Leanna, for she is in grave danger. It is on Zin that Leanna lies in stasis, as fodder for the Zecla Queen’s hatchlings and her days are numbered. Sealing Rez within a suit of metallic armor, Philip transfers Rez to Zin with a compliment of six robots. Here, our hero races against time and the trials of an inhospitable environment. On one side, Zin is bombarded by radiation from Tiiana, on the other, the moon it is subjected the freezing reaches of space, and in the middle are millions of Zecla preparing for war.

Ever so successful in his efforts, Rez manages to grab Leanna and depart Zin–whereupon Philip’s robots detonate three nuclear weapons upon the moon. These weapons devastate Zin and the Zecla, hopefully destroying their ability to invade the other moons of Tiiana. Unfortunately, all is not well. Leanna is critically injured and lies in a coma, and Philip with all his know how and robot science is unable to help her.  She is dying.

Desperate to save his love, Rez turns to the only beings he has yet to meet–the Visi, the healers of the moon, Vashia.  Calling to them, he pleads for their help, which they eventually grant.  It is on Vashia that things begin to make sense for Rez.  It seems that while the Visi are elusive in their nature, they play a far more important role in the events that are transpiring on the moons of Tiiana than anyone knows. The airy life forms take Leanna amongst them and begin to reaffirm her body from a genetic level up–they also inform Rez that the Zecla are not dead. They are in fact, regrouping.

Rez’s destiny becomes clear.  He must somehow unite all the moons to fight the Zecla.  If he fails everyone will die.  Traveling between the moons Rez seeks a way to bring all the races together to stop the Zecla, but in order to do so he must overcome his own prejudices, and the racial hostilities that plague each moon.  Unwavering in his duty, Rez begins to pull the moons together, preparing each one for the struggle that lies ahead. On one side are the Aquella of Urlena, the Solula and Motula from Boutal, the Auraian robots of Aura and the Visi. On the other side are the Zecla and the Brata, a race of flying gargoyles who inhabit the volcanic islands of Boutal. It is these enemies who will meet in the Aritonian desert of Boutal for the final battle and the survival of the moons of Tiiana.

In the final outcome, Rez is successful in his mission.  He saves the Moons of Tiiana by restoring balance to the moons. The outcome is even brighter for Rez because Leanna is once again restored and Philip has made it possible for them to return to Melela in a new spaceship.  Rez’s only concern is the uncertainty of what is waiting for them on Melela.  When they left the Relcor had conquered everything and were bombing Melela into oblivion.  What will they find there?  If he returns with the Princess, will she be safe?  With these unanswered questions lurking in the background, Rez and Leanna return to space, taking with them Giragoc, the viral cloud weapon that Rez first encountered upon arriving on Urlena. The metal eating cloud has plagued the moon for almost 2000 years, nearly destroying it. With this last charitable effort, Rez is under the assumption that he and Leanna are taking Giragoc into deep space where he will be left to die, but that is not the case. The Visi have other plans.

Warping through space Rez is perplexed by the fact that Giragoc is following their ship as they make each jump through space–and he’s getting closer.  Suddenly on their last jump, Rez is given another surprise; he and Leanna have not been returned to Melelan space.  Instead they have landed in orbit around the Relcor’s home world.  Rez is in total panic–this is a total screw up, and their ship now under attack from the Relcor. What have the Visi done?

Rez’s apprehension is short lived and he realizes that all is as it should be.  He sees Giragoc’s form pouring through the warp hole behind them and the hundreds of Relcor ships approaching–a smile crosses his face–he understands what the Visi have done. The Relcor are a metal based life form–metallic hybrids–the very substance that Giragoc craves and he is famished.  With tears of joy running down his face, Rez understands that the Visi have just given his portion of the universe the only weapon capable of destroying the Relcor.  And they’ve just dropped it on their doorstep.  He and Leanna can now return home to rebuild their lives and their world.

Meet the Author: Paul T. Harry

Paul T. Harry attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas as an English major with a theater arts minor before beginning his career as a writer and music producer. He also worked as an editor with Second Avenue Songwriter’s magazine and has spent the last 30 years writing novels, screenplays and short stories. Paul is married with four children and resides in Gold Canyon, outside Phoenix.

Visit him on his Website -- Twitter -- Goodreads

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
Pages: 342
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2012
Series: Darkness Before Dawn #1
Source: library
BUY: Amazon -- BN -- Book Depository

Goodreads Description:
Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. but it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what's left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it's up to me -- as the newest delegate for humanity -- to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine... or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it's safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever. 

My Review: 

What I liked about this book was the political tension between Vampires and Humans. I thought the idea of humans voluntarily donating blood to vampires to keep them at bay was a very interesting concept, and it made for an appealing setting for the story. While I would still classify this book as a Paranormal Romance, the plot was driven mainly by the turmoil of vampires and humans attempting to coexist (somewhat). This book was a quick read for me. I never wanted to put it down because the authors were very clever at putting cliffhangers right at the end of each chapter. I was never bored in my reading.

What I didn’t like about this book was that its characters were quite predictable and flat. Dawn is supposed to be so strong. At least, she is according to a four-century-old vampire, and if he says she’s strong then he must be right. Right? Well, I wasn’t entirely convinced. When we first meet Dawn, the new (and youngest ever) delegate between Denver and Lord Valentine, all I could think of was how her hatred for vampires made her incapable of being a good delegate. Considering her history with vampires, I didn’t blame her. I just wouldn’t have called her ‘strong’. I thought Michael and Tegan, Dawn’s boyfriend and best friend respectively, were all right. Michael’s ego was SO annoying, but it made him a pretty believable character. And Tegan, she was just your typical flirt. There wasn’t really anything appealing about her. Honestly, her only real role in the story was to act as catalyst for the plot’s tension between Dawn and Victor, Lord Valentine's son.

Also, the writing was only average. I have some pet peeves when it comes to writing and the author’s complete disregard for articles and pronouns at the beginning of sentences drove me CRAZY!!! I know I’m being really picky on this, and I wouldn’t be bothered if it was a rare thing, but I just can’t stand people writing or talking like that. Why would someone say “Keeps the area from invading the city.”(pg 45)when they could say “HE keeps the area from invading the city.” Of course that quote is a bit out of context, readers would know the text is referring to Lord Valentine, it just annoyed me. Okay, you probably think I’m crazy now, so I’ll just leave it at that.

There was one more thing that was just “off” about this book.  In the prologue the question is asked, “Does your daughter [Dawn] know about her true heritage?” I thought this would be the part of the books conclusion, but it wasn’t. The issue never comes up again in the novel, and I still can’t help but wonder. Why would the authors choose to put that in the prologue and then not even address it in the story? I wonder if I missed something? Also, the story never explains why Lord Valentine chose Dawn as delegate at all. She was much younger than any of his other chosen delegates. I guess there were just a few plot elements that did not add up for me.

It might sound like I didn’t like this book, but it was a good read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes paranormal romance or even dystopian novels. I definitely plan on reading the sequel as well. The plot, setting, and well-placed cliffhangers made this book pretty unforgettable. I give this book a four out of five foxes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
Pages: 417
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company in 2011
Series:Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Source: Library
BUY: Amazon -- BN -- Book Depository 

Goodreads Description:
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged stranger who have crept through a slit in the sky.

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

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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?

My Review:
Right, so I loved this book. Loved. It.

I loved Taylor’s characters, the romance, and mostly the writing. The characters in this book were so incredibly vivid. Karou’s blue hair, Akiva’s fiery wings, Brimstone’s scars, Zuzanna’s small figure, and even the white wolf was terrifyingly real. I felt like I had been transported directly to where the characters were, and like I could easily have portraits of them hung in my apartment. Each character’s beauty and flaws were absolutely captivating to me.

On top of writing lovable characters, Laini Taylor’s imagination and creativity of Elsewhere filled me with jealousy. I wish I could grow a fox’s tail and wolf ears so that I can be a Chimera too. Oh yeah, the Chimera are the beautiful and potentially dangerous creatures that occupy Karou’s other world. For lack of a better term.

Here is a book filled with love, danger, and friendship. In a perfect blend of joy and grief that made my heart wrench for each of the characters and wonder about them long after I finished reading.  The two worlds that Karou traveled between created the lure of the novel. I couldn’t help but hope that the world of Brimstone, Karou’s guardian and Akiva, Karou’s lover could be real; that one day I might see an angel with wings of fire or a beast of many designs. Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to pretend it’s real.

Another thing that I truly enjoyed was the romance. I’ve read a lot of reviews that were extremely critical of the romance in this novel, but I personally loved it. I thought what Taylor did was unique. I wish I could tell you, but you’ll just have to read it to find out. Yes, the romance was a bit gooey at times, but it worked. The romance wasn’t over the top in that I couldn’t believe the lovers were disgustingly ignorant of what love really is. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I’m totally gooey in love with my boyfriend that I can relate to their feelings of overwhelming need for each other. So, if you’re not a fan of flowery love, then maybe you can just skip those parts. Although, I recommend that you don’t. This book has so much more to it than Karou’s romance. (Oh, and to my boyfriend, if you’re reading this I apologize for writing about you on my blog. Unless you loved it, in that case I’m not sorry one bit).

Lastly, my favorite bit of this novel was the writing. I am an enormous fan of a good metaphor. I love metaphors, and this book is full of them. The writing is so well crafted that I can actually empathize with Karou, whom I actually have very little in common with. You know, not having a beast guardian who collects teeth and opens portals all around the world. However, Taylor has a way of simplifying some of Karou’s complications so that I really could relate with her, and she did so with some very beautiful language.

I give this book a five out of five fantastic foxes. It is full of new adventures, ones I've never dreamed of. I wanted the characters and their worlds to be real, and have thought about them even after I finished the book. Also, the writing is simply beautiful.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Loved You First Anniversary Tour


Thanks for making the stop here on this awesome tour. If you've been following since the beginning, great, but if not go HERE and check out the previous posts of the tour.

Here's what is coming in this post: Cover reveal for the 1 year anniversary of I Loved You First by Reena Jacobs, About the book and author, A short and sweet review from mwah, and thennn... a pretty fan-fricken-tastic giveaway.

Now, because I'm dying to show you.... here is the new cover for I Loved You First!

Pretty isn't it? I think the cover does a great job reflecting the emotional appeal of this book. The look of wonder, the shading and lighting, the bold letters... everything just fits the story so well. Great cover!

Okay, so now you REALLY want to know what this book is about, don't you?

Alexandria (Alex) Carmichael guards two secrets close to her heart. One―she’s in love with her best friend, Seth. Two―he’s gay.
As a freshman in college, Alex looks forward to fun times with her best friend. When Seth decides cycling through girlfriends is the way to fit in with the straight crowd, Alex must make a choice: watch Seth give his affection to another while her heart breaks or come clean with her feelings and risk losing his friendship forever.
I LOVED YOU FIRST is a new adult love story told through the eyes of Alex, an African-American/Caucasian student, who takes a journey of self-discovery while watching her best friend come to terms with his sexuality.
Available at: Amazon - BN - Smashwords - The Book Depository

Welcome Reena Jacobs everyone!!

Reena Jacobs is just a writer who loves to see her words in print. As an avid reader, she’s known to hoard books and begs her husband regularly for “just one more purchase.” Her home life is filled with days chasing her preschooler and nights harassing her husband. Between it all, she squeezes in time for writing and growling at the dog.
Connect with Reena: Blog - Twitter - Goodreads

My Review of I Loved You First:

Okay, I'm going to keep this short because there is so much else going on in this post. First, when Jacobs sent me a request for review, I knew I wanted to read her book without even reading the description. She is just downright hilarious and I knew that I would love working with her! 
The best part of her novel is the characters. They were incredibly realistic. I honestly felt like they could have been my neighbors. Each character did some things that I loved and other things really annoyed me about them. Perfect. They're real! 
Also, Jacobs sheds light on the struggles of becoming adult. Along with coming to terms with ones sexuality, Alex and Seth learn about becoming independent, the value and the hardships of friendship, and about dealing with prejudices. 
This is a great novel because you can relate to it in many ways if not all. 

I give this book four out of five fantastic foxes! 

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