Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Death and the Girl He Loves

Darklight #3
Darynda Jones
Paranormal Young Adult
272 pages
St. Martin's Griffin
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The fate of the world is not something a girl wants on her shoulders, and that is especially true for Lorelei McAlister. 

Unfortunately for her, that is exactly where the world’s fate has decided to take up residence. Lorelei has seen firsthand the horrors that lie beneath our everyday world. And those horrors are getting her friends killed. Because of this, she agrees to leave the sanctity of her hometown and is sent to a different world entirely. A boarding school. But even here she is being watched. Someone knows what she is. What she carries inside her soul. And on top of that she’s seeing visions. 

This is nothing new for Lorelei. But these visions are something more: death, destruction, and the end of the world. Lorelei must face the fact that there are people who want her dead, and no matter where she goes, no matter how far she runs, the lives of her friends and family are in mortal peril. Lucky for her, her friends and family include the handsome Angel of Death, a fiercely protective half-angel, and a ragtag group of loyal supporters who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty in the name of fighting pure evil.

Death and the Girl He Loves reunites us with the trademark humor of Ms. Jones, her characters sparking with sarcastic fire and delighting us with the casual barbs and witty taunts they toss back and forth throughout. Though imminent death hovers quite literally on the horizon for most of this book, the story never loses the qualities that so drew us to it in the very first installment, the emphasis on family and friendship–as well as just a touch of romance–as strong as ever to keep us hovering on the edge of our seats, waiting to see just if and how Lorelei is going to fulfill all that is prophesied.

Though Lorelei is endlessly funny and has us wishing we could live in this world simply to be a part of the banter between her, Brooke and Glitch, she can be more frustrating at times in this final book than she has books past. We find ourselves swinging back and forth between sympathy for her given the sheer amount of pressure placed on her young shoulders, and frustration given her tendency to wallow in self-pity. She’s severely lacking in the self-confidence department, so convinced she’s going to fail the entire time that she shakes our confidence in her as well, and we end up wondering if she’ll be able to step up to the plate when the time comes. That being said though, she’s at least not ignorant to her own pessimism and owns up to it on a number of occasions, we just can’t help but wish she’d dare to believe in herself as much as those around her so clearly do.

Given Lorelei is in no way, shape or form the type of heroine who would win in any sort of hand to hand combat situation, the way the final battle goes down is both beautifully fitting and completely unexpected, Ms. Jones forcing us to tip imaginary hats in acknowledgement of how many steps ahead of us she’s been all along. There are a few lingering questions with regard to some things Jared mentions about his relationship with Lorelei, but they’re questions that don’t necessarily demand answers, and we’re left more than content with a rather fascinating conclusion.

Rating: 4/5

Find Darynda

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Before Jamaica Lane

On Dublin Street #3
Samantha Young
Contemporary New Adult
352 pages
Available January 7th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
One simple lesson in seduction between two friends can turn into so much more…

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…

There’s nothing that can be said about the premise of Before Jamaica Lane to make it sound anything other than exceedingly familiar, the friend-aiding-another-friend-in-sexual-exploration trope one that’s been done again and again, but while this story certainly doesn’t sound different to us, when we crack the spine we find the differences present themselves in how Olivia and Nate’s story makes us feel. We know from the onset that this friendship is going to go down in flames, but Ms. Young so excels at writing characters who forcibly yank us into their lives that we discover in ourselves previously unknown masochistic tendencies; ones that have us devouring page after page just to feel the burn resulting from the sheer joy of their developing feelings followed by the deterioration of something beautiful.

Olivia is a woman with body issues–seeing physical flaws in the mirror no one but she can see– making her feel more realistic everyday woman and less romance heroine from the get-go. Though her insecurities often deter her from engaging in any type of flirting with the opposite sex (aside from Nate), she’s never overly whiny or self-pitying, her skewed perception of herself something she’s fully aware of and hoping to change with Nate’s help. Her relationship with Nate is something that brings a smile to our faces from the beginning, their easy banter and utter comfort with one another flowing rather seamlessly from friendship into physical intimacy, and while we of course shake our heads at her and Nate’s shared naivety in thinking their experiment won't spectacularly blow up in their faces, their moments together are still lovely, joyous and of course oh-so hot.

Nate is a player by synopsis definition, but thankfully it’s not an obnoxiously prevalent aspect of his character, and aside from one or two scenes in the beginning where Olivia is forced to bear witness to the ease with which Nate loves and leaves women, we don’t have to endure constant physical reminders of his emotional unavailability. He’s funny, charming and absolutely adorable with Olivia, and even when things between them fall apart, he never crosses an irredeemable line wherein he hurts Olivia past our capacity to forgive him for it. He causes her pain, yes, but it’s clear that she’s not the only one with a heart struggling to beat through its misery, and when he finally gathers his courage, his campaign to see her back in his arms feels heartwarmingly genuine and painfully honest.

Overall, what Before Jamaica Lane lacks in originality it makes up for in emotion and characterization, returning us to a beloved group of friends with enviable romances that make even our darkest days brighter with their telling, and we can’t help but look forward to the next couple who will no doubt break our hearts and then expertly mend them in the streets of Scotland.

Rating: 4/5

Find Samantha

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

End of Year Survey: Part 2


Today is part two of the End of Year Survey put together by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, you can check out part one in yesterday's post if you missed it! There was a lot of gushing over my favorite books. Gushing that will only continue today. Win.

• • • • • • • • • • 


Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I went with romance. Of course ;-)

Warden and Paige from The Bone Season

Isaiah and Rachel from Crash Into You

Janelle and Ben from Unbreakable

Kaidan and Anna from Sweet Peril

Lela and Malachi from Sanctum

Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously.

I’m going to change this question just a touch to be “authors read in 2013 that never disappoint”.

Karen Marie Moning, Jennifer Estep, Katie McGarry, Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Norris, Wendy Higgins, Chloe Neill, Thea Harrison, and Nalini Singh.

Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Sanctum by Sarah Fine. I’d seen it around a lot when it first came out and made note of it, but then more and more of the bloggers whom I love and whose opinions I trust implicitly started talking about it and I knew I had to pick it up.

Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Paranormal YA! Try not to be so surprised, everyone ;-)

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

This question is torture! There are so many I could list, but several of them are on this list multiple times already, so to shake things up I’m going with the oh-so swoon-worthy Trevor from Pivot Point. I loved him so much!

Best 2013 debut you read?

Pivot Point by Kasie West, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke, and All our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill.

Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Poison by Bridget Zinn. This was a light and cute fantasy story complete with an adorable pet pig, and I just smiled the whole way through. A close runner-up would be The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. Main character Dusty wielded her snark like a boss and I adored her.

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Endless by Jessica Shirvington and Fractured by Sarah Fine. Months later, my heart hurts still.

Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker. There didn’t seem to be a ton of hype surrounding this book before or after it came out and I didn’t see too many reviews for it (though that could entirely be my fault and I just never ran across them), but I so enjoyed this book. I would say the same for Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. Both are books I would strongly recommend to anyone.

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This was one of my must-haves at BEA this year, but I came home, got distracted, and then never got to it. *hangs head in shame*

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

Burned by Karen Marie Moning (I know you’re all shocked by this given the prevalence of Iced in all my answers yesterday)

2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Half Bad by Sally Green and Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins, The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and Up from the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

This might seem like a strange or lame answer, but this year with my blogging I really want to just be content. It’s so easy to get caught up in the sometimes-competitive nature of book blogging (especially YA book blogging), feeling compelled to compare page views, comments, number of ARCs received, etc., and I fully admit to focusing on the wrong things numerous times in my almost 4 years doing this.

With each year I’ve been blogging though, the exhausting need to make the blog bigger and better (in terms of statistics and popularity) has waned, and as 2013 draws to a close I’m finally finding that I’m happy with things just as they are. My blog will never be the biggest, best, or brightest stat-wise, but I have an AMAZING group of readers and followers, and a core group of blogging friends that I simply can’t imagine my life without, so 2014 is a year that's going to be all about being satisfied with what I have. I’m still going to strive to improve the quality of my content of course and make the blog better in that way, but I’m going to try and rein in my competitive nature and just be happy with Supernatural Snark as it is moving forward ;-)

• • • • • • • • • • 

Finally, just as a little extra addition to this survey, I thought I would list the books that received a rating of 4.5 or 5 stars this year since it's a fairly rare occurrence. After looking through all my reviews for this survey, I've found that I'm fairly critical in terms of rating assignments and I'm a bit stingy with those upper numbers O.o

Out of 150 or so books read and reviewed this year, I gave exactly 5 the highest rating I have. That's not very many at all. Apparently I'm hard to impress :-) Here are the best of the best for me in 2013:

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre (part of the 'Til the World Ends Anthology)
Iced by Karen Marie Moning
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

I was a tiny bit more generous with the 4.5 rating, and had a whopping 19 of those this year:

House Rules by Chloe Neill
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington
Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons
The Rules by Stacey Kade
True by Erin McCarthy
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep
Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Endless by Jessica Shirvington
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Finding It by Cora Carmack
Sanctum/Fractured by Sarah Fine
Kinked by Thea Harrison
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Any books I haven't listed above that I absolutely should not miss out on? I'm always looking for recommendations! *makes grabby hand motions*

Saturday, December 28, 2013

End of Year Survey: Part 1


I'm really excited today to participate in the End of Year Survey put together by the fabulous Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. I always have so much fun reading friends and fellow bloggers' favorite book lists around this time of year, so I thought I would hop aboard this Train of Win and give the survey a try. 

It's a shockingly hard survey to fill out. I've read innumerable amazing books this year, so it was crazy difficult to call out only a handful. Also, my memory is more sieve than steel trap, so it may or may not have taken me several hours to go back through my review list and figure out what books would fit into which category. Well done me ;-)

This is a fairly lengthy survey, so I decided to split it into two parts with the second one posting tomorrow along with the list of books that got a 4.5 or 5  from me in 2013. Without further ado, I give you some of my favorite books of the year!

• • • • • • • • • • •

Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Contemporary YA: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Contemporary NA: True by Erin McCarthy

Dystopian: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill is a close second. (Both of these books span genres, but I'm tucking them into this one for the purposes of this survey.)

Historical Fiction: The Madman’s Daughter (yes, this is a bit of a stretch for this genre ;)

Paranormal: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Science Fiction: Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

Fantasy: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Romance: Kinked by Thea Harrison

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Taken by Erin Bowman. I’m a sucker for a stunning cover (as so many book lovers are), so I had very high hopes for this one after seeing its gorgeous cover. Unfortunately, it didn’t work quite as well for me as I’d hoped.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker and Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most?

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon and Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Guards of the Shadowlands by Sarah Fine

Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

So many! Sarah Fine, Samantha Shannon, Kasie West, Cristin Terrill, Erin McCarthy, A.C. Gaughen, Mindee Arnett, and Cora Carmack.

Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. For a while now I’ve told myself that fantasy is not the genre for me, but multiple times this year I’ve proven myself wrong and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Iced by Karen Marie Moning. If I didn’t need my hands to work, I would have Ryodan in a death grip 24/7.

Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon or Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. Both have sequels that should be releasing in 2014 (hopefully on The Bone Season anyway, I know it's book one of seven), and I will gladly re-read both of these to make sure I remember everything I need to before tackling the newest installment!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke. I also absolutely ADORED this book.

Most memorable character in 2013?

Ryodan from Iced
Warden from The Bone Season
Sturmhond from Siege and Storm

Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. This book was just so beautifully atmospheric, it had a dark hypnotic quality that left me completely mesmerized.

Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

This answer is a bit of a surprise for me, but I’m going to go with Endless by Jessica Shirvington. The Violet Eden Chapters and I got along very poorly in the beginning, but with each book my love for the series has grown, and Endless absolutely ripped my heart out and stomped on it. It makes me a bit of a masochist, but I loved every second of it.

Days of Blood and Starlight and Sanctum/Fractured would be on this list as well.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

I’m going to change this question a little bit to be “Books I still can’t believe I haven’t read given it’s 2013”

Anything by Gayle Forman (I KNOW!)
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

I fail this question. I never highlight or mark quotes or passages, so I honestly don’t have one.

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest (not counting novellas): Neptune’s Tears by Susan Waggoner
(218 pages)

Longest: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (597 pages)

Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Pretty much the entirety of Iced. It’s a conversation starter for sure. Also, the ending of Fractured *falls down dead*

Part two will be up tomorrow!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs

Lauren Morrill
Contemporary Young Adult
352 pages
Available January 7th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

Being Sloane Jacobs is a quick and easy read, one of those perfect in-between books that gives us a breather from darker and more emotionally challenging stories. This is a tale best approached with all skepticism and disbelief shelved in favor of allowing the more simplistic desire to simply be entertained rule, the lives of both Sloane Jacobses kept quite superficial despite difficult family situations that could have easily provided enough conflict to see their lives written into two separate books rather than detailed for us simultaneously. There are some extremely cute moments that split our cheeks with a monster grin, Ms. Morrill’s sense of humor an overall highlight, but it’s not always enough to keep the nitpicky reader in us at bay.

Both girls are likable with engaging points of view that are easy to follow, but as mentioned above, we never have the opportunity to dig deeper with either of them, left as simple observers of their lives rather than feeling like active participants. Sloane Emily’s family situation is a fairly typical representation of a perfect façade masking a crumbling interior, her family slowly falling apart even as their happy faces and pleasant family dinners indicate otherwise, but despite the familiarity we still find ourselves exceedingly curious, wanting the chance to chip away at those brittle smiles to see what the downward turn is hiding underneath. Sloane Devon’s family situation, while undeniably painful in and of itself, isn’t quite as intriguing as Sloane Emily’s, though again we still can’t help but want a closer look at that dynamic and its correlation to Sloane Devon’s issues in the beginning.

There are romances for each of the girls, but aside from providing a few sweet moments, they’re not given any depth, relegated to brief kisses and then the predictable big misunderstandings before everything is wrapped up quickly and neatly. Those like me who crave the happily ever will no doubt be satisfied with the end, though we are left wishing the means by which we got there had a bit more substance. All in all, Being Sloane Jacobs leaves a bit to be desired in terms of character development, but Ms. Morrill’s writing style flows well and keeps us turning the pages, ensuring we’re having fun reading even if we’re not committing this story to treasured memory.

Rating: 3/5

Find Lauren

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays!!! I hope everyone enjoys their time off with friends, family, and loved ones; I know I'll be eating far more cookies and delicious baked goods than I should and encouraging those around me to do the same so I'm not alone in my extraordinarily impressive sugar consumption. I love the holidays :-)

I'll be away from the blog today and tomorrow, but will be back on Friday with a review, and then over the weekend I'll be posting some of my favorite reads of 2013 which I'm really excited about.

Warmest wishes and massive holiday hugs to you all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Ashes to Ashes

Ashes #1
Paranormal Young Adult
Melissa Walker
356 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When Callie's life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.

Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.

However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.

As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.

Ghost stories can be tricky beasts, particularly ones with a romance mixed in, often testing the boundaries of believability even with the generous dollop of disbelief we already suspend when cracking the spine of a paranormal tale taken into consideration. Ashes to Ashes gives us the most believable version of a ghostly romance though, one wherein both parties are on the same plane of existence rather than struggling to bridge the life and death gap to find lasting happiness. While the romance does play a role, it's a fairly minor component overall, and we instead get to take a closer look as the word haunting is given new meaning thanks to Callie's guide Thatcher. No longer is haunting a word that inspires fear, causing goosebumps to scatter across our skin at the thought of an unseen presence watching our every move; rather we come to see it as a word synonymous with comfort, Callie's haunting of those she left behind a way for her to fill them with the peace and acceptance of her passing.

Though the setup of Ashes to Ashes is a deeply fascinating one and the pages turn quickly and easily as Callie struggles to let go of a life unfinished, Callie herself can be extraordinarily problematic at times. At first, her disorientation and her desire to let her friends and family know that she's not entirely gone is completely understandable, as is her bristling at Thatcher's attempts to tell her how her new world works, but as the story progresses and Callie continues to buck Thatcher's authority at every turn, we find ourselves losing our sympathy for her plight. Despite all signs pointing to the fact that Thatcher is both knowledgeable and not without compassion for her situation, she always allows herself to be persuaded otherwise by those who give her a bad feeling, one she readily ignores again and again.

For most of the book, she wallows in a selfishness masquerading as the selfless desire to help those she loves, staunchly refusing to see just how much pain her way of going about haunting her friends and family causes them and convincing herself that Thatcher's way of bringing them solace is something it clearly isn't. Callie continues to hurt Thatcher with each blatant disregard of his teachings, and given his stoicism and quiet suffering profoundly affect us whenever he's on page, we can't help but work up a little resentment of her misguided attempts to contact her best friend and boyfriend. Though it takes a while, Callie does come to see the error of her ways before crossing a line she'd never be able to uncross, and in the final few chapters she makes great strides toward repairing the damage she's caused to her character in our eyes.

Overall, Ashes to Ashes is a story that flows well and inspires a myriad of reactions as we read, and while one of those reactions is undoubtedly frustration, this book is still easily devoured in a short amount of time. The ending is wrapped up – while perhaps not neatly as there are still some questions floating around seeking answers – definitely satisfactorily, though we can't help but hope there's more to come with Callie's story now that she's seen the proverbial light and has a new appreciation for the people who matter to her.

Rating: 3.5/5

*Update: When I wrote this review, I wasn't sure whether or not this story was going to have a sequel, but it turns out it will, so I imagine some of those lingering questions will be answered in book two:)
Find Melissa:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: The Spider

Elemental Assassin #10
Jennifer Estep
Adult Urban Fantasy
400 pages
Pocket Books
Available December 24th
Source: e-ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
How did I end up in a career where I always have blood on my hands? Well, let me tell you a story about an assassin who thought she could do no wrong. . . .

Ten years ago. A blistering hot August night. I remember like it was yesterday. The night I, Gin Blanco, truly became the Spider. Killing people is what I do best, especially now that I’ve honed my Ice and Stone magic. But back then, I had yet to learn one very important rule: arrogance will get you, every single time.

This particular job seemed simple: murder a crooked building contractor with ties to ruthless Fire elemental Mab Monroe. My mentor, Fletcher Lane, had some misgivings, but I was certain that I had the situation under control . . . right up until I exposed my weaknesses to a merciless opponent who exploited every single one of them. There’s a reason assassins aren’t supposed to feel anything. Luckily, a knife to the heart can fix that problem, especially when I’m the one wielding it. . . .

The Spider is a somewhat unusual installment in the Elemental Assassin series given that it's the tenth book yet also a prequel to all of the books we've read thus far, allowing fans of the series a never before seen glimpse at Gin as she's getting her bearings as an assassin while at the same time giving newcomers to the series a perfect introduction. This newest installment does revert back to the somewhat repetitive nature the last couple books had finally moved past, reminding longtime readers of things they are well aware of nine times over, but as always, even with that niggle Ms. Estep thoroughly entertains with a piece of Gin's life previously unknown to us. The real treat comes in the form of Fletcher Lane, a man we lost early on in the very first book and have felt the absence of in each book since, but in this story he's alive and well and beautifully caring despite what he's training Gin to do, and we can't help but revel in every minute we're granted with him knowing when it's over we'll be faced with his loss all over again.

The younger version of Gin we get in this book is surprisingly different from the Gin we've come to know and love, our expectation that she would be the exact same woman ten years prior of course slightly delusional once we've had time to think on it, and our initial shock quickly gives way to curiosity as we begin to catalog all the ways she differs from The Spider with whom we're so familiar. Over the course of this series we've learned to implicitly trust Gin, perhaps at times questioning the always-fatal solution she suggests to various problems, but we've unequivocally known that those she targets deserve their fate and then some; many of the villains she's faced monsters that haunt us long after we've finished reading. In this story though we find ourselves a bit off-kilter, Gin's willingness to so quickly believe what a file tells her is the truth causing nerves to roil in our guts and unease to shiver down our spines, something that's completely foreign to us in this context and utterly fascinating at the same time.

Gin has always been someone who inspires confidence in us as readers, our faith that she knows what she's doing unwavering as she proceeds to teach the nightmares that plague Ashland's streets, businesses or government officials lessons that will lead them straight to their graves. There's no doubt in our minds in The Spider however that it's Gin who will be learning a lesson; a rather brutal one that finally gives us some insight as to why she's so very susceptible to emotional hurt, particularly from members of the opposite sex. While we ache for this younger Gin, wanting nothing more than to scream ourselves hoarse telling her to open her eyes–that The Spider we know would never be satisfied with face-value and would dig and dig and dig until she found everything there was to know before acting–we find ourselves both riveted and resigned, knowing Gin has go this one the hard way in order to be the woman we meet later in her life.

It's nothing short of gratifying in the concluding chapters to watch as the Gin we recognize emerges from the young woman we didn't, the price for the change in her extraordinarily high, but paid for in full in wounds visible and not. Overall, The Spider is a deeply satisfying addition to this series for both new fans and old, Ms. Estep handing us a piece of Gin we never knew we were missing but now can't imagine continuing her story without.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jennifer:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Interview: Jennifer L. Armentrout


I was a little late to the Wait for You party, reading it well after the release date only to discover a deep desire to kick myself in the shin for waiting so long. I adored this story and love interest Cam in particular, so I'm incredibly pleased today to welcome author Jennifer Armentrout to the blog to answer a few questions. If you're a fan of contemporary new adult, I can't recommend this book enough, and I'm eagerly counting down the days to Cam's sister Teresa's story, Be With Me.

Cam is a pretty proficient baker. What would he say is his favorite thing to make, and what would Avery say is her favorite baked good of his to eat?  

Oh, Cam loves to make cookies, and, if you’ve read Wait for You, you know that Avery is a huge fan of Cam’s “cookies”!

What was one scene/moment in Wait For You that you were really excited to write from Cam’s point of view?

I was excited to write the scene when Cam and Avery first meet. I wanted readers to see what Cam was thinking when Avery ran into him.

If Avery had a do-over of her first run-in with Cam, what’s one thing, big or small, she would do differently?  

I don’t think that Avery would have run away from Cam without going into class. She was embarrassed that she had overreacted to the situation.

If Cam and Ollie were in the market for a third roommate (let’s say Jase turned them down), which character from one of your other books do you think would fit in best with the two of them?  

I think that Kyler from Frigid would get along really well with Cam and Ollie. That would be an overload of hotness in one apartment, though!

Ollie may or may not have a scrapbook into which he put the surprise photo of Avery and Cam before they headed out on their first date. What are some other candid shots we might find in this scrapbook if we were to flip through it?  

I’m sure Ollie’s scrapbook would be full of random shots and lots of them would probably be completely inappropriate.

It could be said that Avery and Cam’s pet tortoises are a fitting representation of their relationship – they moved forward slowly and steadily and Avery hid in her shell on occasion when scared, but Cam was always there when she popped her head back out. Looking forward to Tess and Jase, what animal would you say best represents their romance? 

I’m going to go with a wild horse, but I’m not giving any details on why I chose that animal!

Lastly, a very serious question. Who ultimately won the epic tortoise head-bobbing showdown, Raphael or Michelangelo?  

I think Raphael would win because he has more practice.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Some things are worth waiting for . . .

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at that fateful Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. What she never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she's building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing . . .

Cameron Hamilton is six feet, three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, com-plete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make Avery want things she believed had been irrevocably stolen from her. Getting involved with him is dangerous. Yet ignoring the simmering tension that sparks between them—and brings out a side of her she never knew existed—is impossible.

Some things shouldn't be kept quiet . . .

But when Avery starts receiving threatening e-mails and phone calls, she's forced to face a past she wants to keep buried and acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. If the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface with one less scar? And will Cam be there to help her?

And some things are worth fighting for . . . 

• • • • • • • • • • •


# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Pawn

The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
Aimee Carter
Young Adult/Dystopian
352 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked - surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

Pawn is a thrilling start to a new series, the intensity of it stemming not so much from action but rather intrigue, every person Kitty comes across outfitted with multiple masks both literal and figurative that keep us guessing as to what their charm or their cruelty is hiding. It’s with no shortage of trepidation then that we flip the pages of this first installment, wondering what move any one of the players of this horrifying power game will make next and, even more pressing, where that move falls in the grand scheme of their endless conniving. Though it may sound as though Kitty is surrounded by a group of utterly miserable and truly awful people, what makes this book so thought-provoking is Ms. Carter’s ability to cast light on some of their darker motives, forcing us to understand their endgame even though we’re appalled by the lengths to which they're willing to go to achieve it.

Kitty is a joy to follow from the beginning, a young woman with an extraordinary sense of self despite being what society calls an “extra”, given the last name of Doe and shipped off to a group home to be yet another hungry mouth to feed in a sea of gaping maws. She knows exactly who she is though, and even while those in power succeed in shaping her physically, she never bends mentally, refusing to be manipulated and always keeping an eye and ear out to help her navigate exceedingly dangerous seas. She’s a person who absorbs information like a sponge, allowing it to seep in and settle while she figures out how she feels about it, never overreacting or jumping to conclusions like those around her. Instead she is ever-patient, learning the rules of a game she never thought would have a place in her life and slowly acquiring the knowledge to outplay the longtime players.

The romance in this first installment is as interesting as the rest of the story, at first appearing as though it will be a non-issue, only for previously clear waters to grow murkier as Kitty is sucked deeper and deeper into Lila’s life. She begins this journey with an adorable longtime boyfriend in Benjy (whom we unfortunately don't get to know all that well in this first book), someone she’s desperate to save from herself given her unfortunate classification as a III, but when playing Lila Hart she’s engaged to Knox, someone she knows from the moment she meets him has innumerable secrets. Luckily though, there's no real love triangle situation even when Benjy enters back into the picture after a fairly lengthy absence, and thankfully all three of them know exactly where everyone else stands so there’s no petty jealousy or over the top reactions. They are all victims of circumstance (perhaps Knox to a lesser degree than Kitty and Benjy), and the relationship between the three of them has the potential to be one of those nuanced and infinitely complex ones that hold us captivated rather than irritating us with the transparent purpose of creating drama for an existing couple.

Overall, Pawn is a quick and extremely tense read, one that makes us absurdly grateful we have our reality to return to after seeing the Hart’s warped version of utopia. We’re left at a logical stopping point with no cliffhanger in sight, and I simply can’t wait to see where Ms. Carter and Kitty take us next.

Rating: 4/5

Find Aimee 

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Prank-Tacular Blog Tour: Needing Her by Molly McAdams

Today I'm crazy excited to be part of the blog tour for Needing Her, the latest novella from new adult author Molly McAdams. HarperCollins has put together a really fun and creative promotional tour leading up to the novella's release on December 23rd, so I'm going to let them explain just how it's going to work: 


Molly McAdams is pulling a prank on the internet to celebrate the release of her prank-tastic novella, Needing Her, on 12/23! For eight days until Needing Her goes on-sale, the internet will be brimming with New Adult celebs like J. Lynn, Jay Crownover, Sophie Jordan, and more—all pretending to be the REAL Molly McAdams. All have filled out the same Q+A, so it’s up to the fans to guess which one is the real Molly! Each day, a new Q+A will go live on a variety of blogs, and if you guess who’s answering the questions in the comments, you could win a fabulous gift basket, including books from all the participating authors, as well as a prank “starter-kit,” for your own practical jokes. Here are the participants:

Molly McAdams

J. Lynn

Monica Murphy

Lisa DesRochers

Jay Crownover

Sophie Jordan

Nichole Chase

Blogger Yara Santos of Once Upon A Twilight

So see if you can guess who’s who by commenting, and you’ll be entered to win a lavish prize basket. And check all the other participating blogs until 12/23 to see if you can pick out the REAL Molly McAdams. Identities will be revealed, and the winner will be announced on 12/24, on these blogs as well as on the Between the Covers FB page.


Favorite food?


Favorite color?

Green - no, pink! No, purple! … Maybe green.

Favorite band and / or favorite song?

Band? Coheed & Cambria *drools over Claudio Sanchez's hair* My favorite song changes based on what book I'm writing, soooo good question?

How do you come up with your book ideas?

They all start off as dreams, and then I throw a lot of my personal life in there!

What’s the best prank you’ve ever played on someone?

Me? Play pranks? I pretended to kill off a main character … oh, wait no. I actually did that. Never mind!

What’s your fascination with cops and detectives?

Uhh, they're sexy? Haha, to be honest, I'm surrounded by cops and detectives, and for years before that I was surrounded by Marines. I write what I know!

What’s the thing you love most about Needing Her?

I love that they have fun with each other. I love the wars, and I love Connor's attitude. Yup.

• • • • • • • • • • 


A fabulous, fun, and sexy New Adult novella from New York Times bestselling author Molly McAdams. If you loved Connor in From Ashes, this is the story for you.

She's the girl next door

Maci Price isn't really into relationships. Having four very protective older brothers has always made having a boyfriend very difficult anyway. But her friend is set on finding her the right guy—and thinks the mysterious Connor Green is the perfect pick.

He's her brother's best friend

Connor Green is trying to find himself again. He loved, then lost, and it's time for him to pick up the pieces. His brooding is making his friends crazy, but Maci, who has grown up into a gorgeous and incredibly sexy woman, is about to break the spell.

They're made for each other

When Maci starts up old pranks to get Connor out of his slump, an all-out war leads to a night that will break all their rules … and a relationship they must keep hidden. Together they're electric. Apart they're safe. And soon they'll each find that they're exactly what the other needs.

• • • • • • • • • •


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 16th:

Tuesday, December 17th:              

Wednesday, December 18th:       

Thursday, December 19th:            
Will Read For Books       

Friday, December 20th:  

Saturday, December 21st:            

Sunday, December 22nd:               

Monday, December 23rd:                             

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cathy Reviews: Dead Set

I'm thrilled today to welcome my mother in law Cathy back to the blog to share her latest review!

Richard Kadrey
Paranormal Young Adult
320 pages
Harper Voyager
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After her father’s funeral, Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But life’s not so easy, the money is tight, and a new school brings trials. Fortunately, she has an escape: her dreams. A world of freedom and solace removed from the loneliness and anxieties of real life, Zoe's dreamscape offers another, more precious, gift: It is the only place where she can spend time with her closest companion — her lost brother Valentine.

Yet something is very wrong. An unfamiliar — and univited — presence has entered her private realm to threaten Zoe and Valentine, a disturbing turn of events that is compounded by an impossible discovery. A chance encounter at a used record store where the grooves of the vinyl discs hold not music, but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. Now, the shop’s strange proprietor is offering Zoe the chance to commune with the father whose passing took a piece of her heart. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then...

How far into this eerie world will Zoe go to discover what she truly needs? And once she does, will there be enough left of her to come back?

In Dead Set, author Richard Kadrey manages to make us feel the angst of 16 year-old Zoe as he gives us an upfront account of her troubles: her father is dead, she has to move to a rundown apartment, and she has to start a new school with no friends. That's enough misery to push anyone close to the edge. Mr. Kadrey gradually reveals other stressors in Zoe's life, hinting at a hospital stay for cutting, but  the most fascinating aspect of the story for me was Zoe's dream life. While Zoe hates her real life, she loves her dream world where she can spend time with her dream brother, Valentine. But slowly, even in sleep, her world begins to become troubled.

In the main part of the story, Mr. Kadrey creates a world where the dead are living temporarily until they can move on. He is very descriptive and paints us a detailed  picture of this world. Not really somewhere I would like to be! Zoe manages to cross the boundaries into this world and sees her father. There is lots of mystery and intrigue while she is in this underworld. We feel her angst and frustration, which in turn sometimes fuels our own frustration because of Zoe's very teenage decisions. Even so, we cheer for her as the reluctant heroine. She learns the lesson that some things are worth the sacrifice.

This book felt like a mixed genre to me part myth, part fairy tale, and part contemporary paranormal. At one point in her journey, she's like Alice down the rabbit hole! If you have time, take a journey with Zoe.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Richard

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my (or in this case, Cathy's) honest opinion.