Saturday, August 22, 2015

Book Review: Within A Dream by Tempest C. Avery

I'm back from vacation so first things first! I gotta put up this review!

Book received in exchange for an honest review through Lovers of Paranormal

I'm going to need some help with this review...

Much better.

I don't even know how to start with this one.

On one hand, there's an interesting premise to the book. 4 teenagers are reincarnations of magical beings and have special powers. Bad people are after them and they have to try to protect themselves and learn more about their heritage and their powers.

On the other hand, it was everything but the kitchen sink when it came to the magical/supernatural beings and I was wondering when it would stop. Shall I list them?

You know it.

1) Witches
2) Faeries/Fae
3) Werewolves
4) Aliens
5) Shapeshifters
6) Reincarnations
7) Voodoo/Hoodoo
8) Celtic Mythology
9) Viking Mythology
10) Some Wiccan incorporated

Some bonus features:

A. Insta-love
B. Insta-love + love triangle
C. Insta-love for secondary characters
D. Hot guy on a motorcycle
E. Evil ex-lover type
F. Absentee Parental Units

The characters and the story was interesting enough but there was just too much going on. Too many histories and stories getting mixed together with far too many magical beings. It works in something like Harry Potter because as far as the first book goes, there aren't major characters that are different beings from different planets. You cannot introduce all of these different creatures into a book without it looking like you are trying too hard.

I liked Lily, the main character, fine though. She wasn't completely helpless and she liked to take charge which was nice. Her love interests both occupied the dark broody boy character which was a little typical but it wasn't a bad description of a relationship. It did feel like it was trying to pull on the Shattered series a bit with the old love interest coming to you in dreams but I was able to overlook that part of it.

But there's one thing that doomed this book for me.


There were typos or misspellings every ten pages if not more frequently. This book desperately needed some editing and a lot of love because there is absolutely no excuse for spelling "melodramatic" as two words. "Mellow dramatic".

So yeah, real rating about a 1.8 so I'm rounding it up to 2 stars. The saving grace was the interesting idea behind the book but there was just too much going on with not enough editing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Boost (A Haunted Addiction #1) by D.A. Paul

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Blurb from Goodreads:
They call it a boost.
It’s the buzz you get from absorbing the spiritual energy of the dead, and it absolutely terrifies Lidia Powell.

Shortly after meeting Ander at summer camp, Lidia is thrust into the world of psychic mediums and brought to a new school. At Mountain Heights Academy, even a casual pizza-date is accompanied by a ghost, and only a frightened uberdork would refuse the boost. To Lidia, the peer pressure to absorb phantom apparitions is horrifying, but to everyone else, it's the drug of choice.

However, when one of the students delves into dark energy, Lidia suspects that a boost isn’t as innocent as it seems. Soon, the boost becomes an addiction and Lidia must act fast before the changes become irreversible.

Boost by D.A. Paul is probably best described as a mix of Ghostbusters, and Vampire Academy. The main character, Lidia, is a teenage girl (I'm assuming around 16? The age was never really given or I missed it somehow) who gets entangled into a world of ghosts, spirits, and demons. She never wanted this life in the first place, never knew about it to be honest, and she wants to go home and live a normal life with her dysfunctional family. It's all a bit too much for her, getting whisked off away from her charming, normal boyfriend to go live in the mountains with a bunch of other teenagers who add high school drama to her already messed up world.

Okay, so I don't do most high school drama type books. My high school was a bit weird, I only graduated with 55 people and we couldn't really have that much drama because it was impossible to have secrets in the first place. Whatever grudges we had (and there were some, no doubt) we kept them to ourselves. You were stuck with them anyways and how else were we going to get a senior prank together? That being said, sometimes I just can't relate to the mean girls and backstabbing that goes on in some YA books. My reference for normal high school life comes from old school Nickelodeon. 

Odd note: if you google "high school drama gif" it's all Ouran High School Host Club and that makes me really happy
But anyways, Lidia ends up moving away from her boyfriend Ethan and basically being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the weirdest private school ever with his best friend who is not only a flirt but also terribly attractive. Because that's going to go well. Lidia has to learn how to deal with being away from the stability in her life while trying to figure out how to deal with the ghosties that keep cropping up in her life.

My appreciation for Lidia sort of waxed and waned throughout the book. I enjoyed the fact that she didn't feel the need to dress up when Ethan came by and rejected her mother's pleas to "look a bit cuter". My mother, to this day, still does the same thing. I went to church without lipstick and blush a few weeks ago and you would think I walked out of the house naked. We all know those mothers and I liked that this girl actually stood up for herself a bit. I didn't like the body shaming or the trash talking though. I know it was a few isolated incidents but wanted a girl to be smothered with her "overly large breasts" just rubbed me the wrong way. It's not the girl's fault that she is well endowed.

Also, the vegan part. 

Or semi-vegan. I get that some people do it for health, philosophical, and/or taste preference reasons and I completely respect that. What I don't like is when people call themselves vegan and then eat cheese and dairy saying that they couldn't resist the temptation. I don't care if an author makes a vegan character but PLEASE stop using it as a descriptor as if her diet dictates who she is as a person. I got it. She ate waffles for breakfast (which are made with milk by the way) and tried to avoid meat because it made her feel weird after something with her grandmother but it felt like it was every other sentence. Lidia was closer to a semi-vegetarian than a vegan and that really bothered me. It felt like it cheapened the point of her trying to be vegan.

Moving on from that, I actually really liked Ander for the most part. He's not a good boy and he's not a bad boy but somewhere in the middle. Lidia asked for him to leave her alone and he did so. He knew she was pissed off and he tried to protect her without being obvious about it. He respected the fact that Lidia was dating his best friend and respected her boundaries. He was flirty without being a jerk and there were no cringe inducing lines that you sometimes find in YA.

The idea of getting high off spirit energy is pretty unique and that was what held the book together for me. Getting a "boost" (hence the name) is literally like getting a tiny shot of adrenaline. It makes sense. Spirits = Energy. Energy = Endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't get into as much drama as angsty kids.

But despite all of the good, interesting things in this book, there were some major flaws that didn't work for me. 

It felt like the stereotypical high school set up, that I'm starting to get really sick of seeing. We had the curvy sexy bitch girl. Check. We have the popular cool guy. Check. We have the awkward couple that everybody is slightly concerned about. Check. We have the guy with the lip rings. Check. It just seemed like there was a formula there and nobody really stood out. Lidia was beautiful and random guys developed crushes on her and she not only had a sort of boyfriend but also had Ander and every other guy that looked at her. Give me a girl main character who is confident in herself but doesn't have boys wandering around her like cows off their feed. I want strong girls who have insecurities but are honest with themselves.

Building on that was the sex. They are teenagers at boarding school. They're going to get it on. But it felt out of place if we're going to be honest. There was very little sexual tension for me because it was treated so casually. I think that if they weren't all having sex with each other, the relationships might have worked better. It went from zero to a hundred real quick. Lidia was thrilled about someone's pinky touching her thigh and then they were in bed together. It was rushed and there seemed to be little consideration for the stuff that happened between the first kiss and sex. That's not to say that it needed to be racy but it jumped around too much. There is awkwardness and deeper kisses between those things. There is more frustration and anxiety. The characters need to have more interaction with each other between those two settings other than just avoiding each other. It was a missed opportunity in that regard because there could have been more build up there.


The kids never actually seemed to be in class or at camp. They were supposed to be students and camp counselors but there was never any mention of them actually participating in any significant way. When I was at camp, the counselors were always busy and when I became in charge of 80 seven year olds for a few summers, I understood why. There is always something that needs to be done and you don't have a chance to go work on your tan. At school, there's always homework. Especially at a school that has high college acceptance rates and these kids barely seemed to go to class! I wanted a few classroom scenes but they were noticeably absent.

It just felt like parts of the book were missing. I was looking for tension. I was looking for teachers and kids getting caught out at night but it didn't seem to happen. This book could have been a hundred pages longer because it seemed like some of the descriptions and interactions had been pared down. Readers want to know what classroom life is like and what they do on their days off. Sometimes, it is good to see the characters lounging around talking shit and it just wasn't there for me.

But you know what? I probably would have really enjoyed this book in high school when I really think about it. It's a young adult book and I think it would be perfect for young adults. I wanted more from it but that might be because I like high tension and more crazy drama. I want high speed chases and hiding in the woods overnight with ghosts surrounding the main characters. The drama in this book was, I feel, suited for a particular age range and that worked well.

Big thank you to D.A. Paul for contacting me and providing me with this ARC!

Oh my goodness, am I getting old? Is that really happening to me?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I really need to read more these days. I feel like things have been turned on their head because Taylor is reading books and I'm watching TV. He's reading Red Rising and the rest of the books in the series after I basically told him to read them or else and he is loving them. I knew it. Such good books for guys and we've been having some lovely discussions about themes and characters.

But I digress.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in a new series by Sarah J. Maas of Throne of Glass fame. This one is definitely different though from that series though. This is another retelling of Beauty and the Beast but in a way that doesn't make me want to throw things and run through the streets screaming. I mean, I think we're all sick to death of the traditional story line and this book takes a different spin on it. 

Alright, before I get distracted again, I want to talk about the cover. While it is a lovely idea, I'm sick to death of black and red covers. Sometimes, they work for me but those tend to be a bit more subtle. I get that black and red are supposed to be the dangerous scary sort of combination but I wish that authors and publishers would mix it up a bit. It's all we see now! Please, I'm begging you. Some other color combination. Use orange. Use green. I'd die a happy woman if you used purple. CHANGE IT UP.

Feyre is a survivor and always has been. She doesn't remember much of the luxury her family used to live in but she does know how to aim a bow and take care of her kills. She knows that she has to work hard or her family will starve and knows equally as well that she will get neither help nor praise for her efforts. Her sisters were used to being taken care of and nothing has changed much there. Her father sees himself as a worthless cripple even though with a little effort, he could get a job. So that's why Feyre is out in the woods, alone, hunting a deer when the biggest wolf she has ever seen stalks into her life. She had heard stories of faeries turning into animals and kills the beast, not knowing what repercussions may follow. Feyre then finds herself spirited away to the land of Faeries and curses where danger not only comes in the form of her captors, but also what lurks in the woodland.

So in the beginning, we have a bit of a Cinderella situation going on. I mean, her sisters are pretty horrible. 
If you haven't seen this version of Cinderella, you're seriously missing out
They used to be a well respected family with money and power but their father lost all of their money and these girls haven't quite gotten over that. They prance around their little town like they are the best thing that ever happened to it because they were brought up with silver spoons in their mouths. Feyre never really experienced all that so she has a bit more humility. You end up hoping that something horrible happens to her sisters because they are the bullies that you always hate in life and literature. You want them to have to work and struggle when they don't seem to initially.

"Nesta cocked her head. I'd seen predators use that movement before. I sometimes wondered if her unrelenting steel would have helped us better survive - thrive, even - if she hadn't been so preoccupied with out lost status."

Moving on though to the actual fairy tale part of all of this. Feyre, in retribution for what she has done, is dragged off through the woods to live in an enchanted faerie castle with a terrifying male who seems to be lacking in the social skills department. Feyre has been told all her life to be scared of faeries. That they're wicked and they control the land and could unleash all sorts of hell on it. But this mysterious masked man isn't all thorns and snarling. And neither is his companion Lucien. 

So Tamlin (big scary fae) and Lucien and everybody else in this particular faerie realm is under some sort of curse. Tamlin and Lucien are both High Fae which means while they are handsome and powerful, they are cursed to wear masks that they cannot remove. But beyond that, both are incredibly attractive. Feyre finds herself being drawn in more and more to Tamlin, her captor, and can no longer see him as the enemy. And then...everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

The fairy tale aspect of this works really well in my opinion. It is definitely Beauty and the Beast but the beast has more personality and charm than the one we always associate with. You get to see into his mind more and understand his pain. And Feyre is more than just a Belle character. She can't read but she is an artist. She paints and tries to make the world a more beautiful place than her reality. She is bitter and cynical and all of the things that would naturally happen if you were left to fend for yourself with nobody's help. The magic works. The curse works. It all is great for me. 

And it's funny! I had some laugh out loud moments in it and the writing is actually pretty good. There's a nice balance between humor, dialogue, world building and introspection.

"He also said that you like being brushed, and if I'm a clever girl, I might train you with treats"

And it's sexy. It's so easy to try to tame fairy tales because it's what we grew up with as kids and we don't want to see them corrupted. But there's some definite tension going on here and Feyre is a mature woman. She is open and honest with herself and isn't some wilting violet. And Tamlin isn't either. He's possessive and dominant. He is fully aware of his sex appeal but he doesn't use it as a weapon. Once he gets over his supremely awkward stage, he is charming and the perfect gentleman most of the time. But when he gets pushed, he has this dark and alluring side that Feyre can't resist. 

"He took my hands. His callused fingers, strong and sturdy, were gentle as he lifted my bleeding hand to his mouth and kissed my palm. As if that were answer enough."

The biggest issue I had with this book, besides the cover, is the ending. And I'm not going to spoil anything for you but it felt a bit rushed sometimes. It had a Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire feel to it and it left me wanting more. The rest of the book had been done so well with all of the world building and character development that the ending just didn't live up to it. It felt like the author was searching for a conclusion. I'm not saying it was terrible but it was just not as good as the rest of the book. 

I will be reading the next one but I hope it builds more. The first book has established a wonderful world and an interesting plot. I desperately hope that the next one lives up to its legacy.