Blog Review Tour: “Captivate Me” and “IRIS” by S.J. Pierce

 

 

IrisCaptivate Me       AND       IRIS
By: S.J. Pierce
Copyright: 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Format of Book: E-Books

*I received free ARCs of Captivate Me and IRIS from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

 

Synopsis of Captivate Me

“My mom had always told me – when you meet “the one”, you’ll know; they’ll captivate your heart the moment you lay eyes on them. I had always wondered, though, if my mom’s words of wisdom were finite – if they applied to everyone. Maybe those who had found their one great love were the lucky few, and maybe the rest of us would have to settle for less than earth-shattering.”Seventeen-year-old Kat Walsh is a Gifted – a human with paranormal abilities. With her mom a former Angel and her dad a dream prophet, it’s always been in her genetic make-up to be extraordinary. But, unfortunately for her, the world can’t handle the strange or unusual. So when she slips up and uses her powers at her high school in Ireland, the entire student body treats her like a freak – even the ones she thought were her closest friends.

Broken, but hopeful for a fresh start, she allows her parents to enroll her in a boarding school buried deep within the forests of a small Colorado town. At Midland Pines, School for the Gifted, she feels as though she can finally be herself; she makes new friends and even has the attention of the most popular guy in school – Levi. Everything feels normal again… or does it?

Not long after her arrival, weird dreams of an alluring boy whom she’s never met surface during the night, and the eerie, shadowy trees encircling their school seem to call to her. As these disturbing, yet enticing developments intensify, other bizarre occurrences happen – students and staff turn up missing, and mystery visitors leave gifts while she sleeps. With all of these other things fighting for her attention, a desperate Levi has to fight even harder to keep her interest. But with the dreams of the attractive boy slowly captivating her heart, Kat has to make a choice – will she settle for ‘great’ Levi, or will she search for her elusive dream visitor, possibly stumbling across ‘amazing’?

From the author of the Alyx Rayer Chronicles, comes a refreshingly different Young Adult series with plenty of love, suspense, and a new take on the Paranormal.

Recommended for readers 16 and up due to mature content.

Synopsis of IRIS (#1.5)
by S.J. Pierce
Publication date: September 1st 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

***This book is meant to be read after Captivate Me***Set before the events in Book One of the Captivated Series, “Iris” explores the depths of family bonds, new bonds, and the lengths a person would go to save the life of a dying sibling. In this novella, get to know Iris and her two sisters more intimately, as well as Gabriel, the first angel-human hybrid who agrees to live under her protection.

Recommended for readers 16 and up due to mature content.

Welcome to my stop on the Captivate Me/IRIS Blog Tour! Below is my review of the first book with a teaser about the next AND a giveaway! Click on the image at the bottom of the screen for the rafflecopter!

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
I really enjoyed reading the various characters in Captivate Me and then learning more about some of them in IRIS. Kat is a well-created character who has quite a bit of learning and growing up to do. This obviously sets the stage for some pretty interesting things to happen. Kat is just learning to be herself after hiding her Gift for so long. She’s quickly sought after by a very nice and popular guy named Levi. I also like Kat’s roommate Anna; she and Kat are a perfect pair. There is also a mess of other characters who I deeply enjoy, GabrielIris, and a few others.. but you’ll have to read to learn more. Pierce does a good job creating her characters and giving them enough backstory to move the story along, but leaving enough up in the air for the reader to want to learn more.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
The dialogue in Captivate Me is realistic and fitting for the Young Adult reader. There is nothing overly stand-out, but it does help move the story along. I like the internal monologue, as well.

I found the dialogue in IRIS to be a lot more fun. Perhaps this is because of the characters and personalities of those involved in this particular novella.

Plot  –  3.5/5 Stars
This was a fresh take on the typical paranormal young adult books that are floating around. I haven’t seen this story before, which is part of the reason I found it so much more enjoyable. All of the characters have their own sub-story, which enables a novella like IRIS to work so well.

Visual Imagery  –  3/5 Stars
There are some really great visual moments, such as those in the woods, but I felt this story could have used more in the visuals. This would have helped drive the story farther. I wanted to “see” more colors and patterns. This is not a complaint, just a suggestion, however.

Ending  4/5 Stars
I definitely enjoyed the ending of this book. There was a lot to be said, but it was done in a wonderful way. Captivate Me ended wonderfully, opening the door to Book 2, and IRIS introduced what will be happening in 2, but should be read AFTER Captivate Me.

Total: 17/25 Stars

Why read this book?

I am a big fan of YA Paranormal books and this one was done very well. Definitely worth a shot.

Goodreads: Follow This Link
Purchase Captivate Me:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
Purchase IRIS:
–Amazon: Follow This Link
AUTHOR BIO
Susan James Pierce has a degree in Marketing Management, works for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, Georgia, and devotes her precious, spare  time to writing Fantasy, Paranormal and Sci-fi novels.Author Links:
http://sjpiercebooks.blogspot.ca/

rafflecopter-giveaway-button

 

 

 

 

Follow me on Facebook: Facebook Button

Advertisements

Book Review: From The Wreckage by Michele G. Miller

From The Wreckage Cover

From The Wreckage
By: Michele G. Miller
Copyright: 2014
Format of Book: E-Book, One day I will own her paperbacks, too. She’s just that good.

I will start by saying I read this book in one day.. I really couldn’t put it down. From The Wreckage is a beautifully written novel that will draw you in from the very first chapter. When you start reading, you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into and then suddenly you are thrown onto a rollercoaster ride. From The Wreckage is a haunting story about Jules Blacklin, a high school senior, who has survived a devastating storm in her town. She is forced to keep moving forward and find a way to continue surviving, despite the horror that she has experienced firsthand.

“In a matter of minutes on a Friday night, I lost my school, my identity, the security of my first love, the personality of my sweet fearless brother, my best friend, my town, everything as I knew it. Everything changed.  Minutes – that’s all it takes to change your entire life. How do you deal with that?”

Have you ever read one of those books where you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action? I was terrified, anxious, attached, frantic, desperate, hesitant, and filled with hope at multiple points while reading this novel, many at the same time. If you are like me and have never lived through a natural disaster to this magnitude, it’s hard to know what it’d be like. Sure, you can imagine it to some degree, but you really don’t know. From the moment the tornado lands, I was right there with/as Jules. My heart was racing and I felt her desperation.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  5/5 Stars
Miller does a great job delving into the psyche of a victim, finding the different facets of what makes her characters tick and then taking them through various stages of disarray. Each character experiences the same horrific and traumatizing event, but they all come out with a different scar. The sad beauty is that not all of these scars are physical. I immediately felt drawn to Jules. She’s that girl who has it all and then… doesn’t. Her decisions are many of the same ones I’d make. She’s one of the most real characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.

One heartbreaking character within this story is Jules’ younger brother, Jase. Children see the world with open, excited eyes; they are ready to explore and learn. What happens to children when their world gets turned upside down, literally and figuratively?

West Rutledge.. don’t even get me started. A hero with something else seeding inside. I found his mystery to be magnetic and wanted to know more about him. (Ah, the beauty of series novels.) 🙂

Perhaps the biggest character of all is the storm itself. It becomes more than an event, it becomes personified – a villain that came to town and changed everything, leaving dust, damage and loss in its wake.

Overall, Miller’s cast of characters is seamlessly produced. I’d love to see what would happen if this had the chance to go to the big screen. (I call dibs on being cast as Jules, though…)

Dialogue  –  4/5 Stars
The execution of dialogue throughout this novel is done very well. Like everything else in this book, the dialogue is refreshing and honest. My favorite bits are the conversations that take place in the basement while Jules and West are trapped; these are the ones that pull at your heartstrings and make you breathe a little faster out of well-placed anxiety. One of the lines that West says to Jules while trapped struck a chord with me – “We’re not gonna die tonight, Buffy. I’ll be damned if I finally get the nerve to speak to you again, only to die in this place.”

Plot  –  5/5 Stars
There’s perfection in this plot. The best part? It’s not overdone. Miller has found something unique, but instead of banking on just the simple idea of a storm changing everything and how it resolves for a single character, she has created a web of cause and effect for multiple characters. To quote the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical Once More With Feeling (which I feel is very fitting, seeing as FTW has multiple references to the cult classic) “Where do we go from here?”

Visual Imagery  –  5/5 Stars
Storms like the one in FTW happen all the time around the world. You watch the news, see photos and videos, feel sad and slightly scared, but it’s still not typically on your doorstep. Unless you’ve lived through it firsthand, there’s no way to actually get it. Reading From The Wreckage made me feel like I was inside the storm instead of just seeing archived footage. Recovering from those early scenes was like finishing a race… you need time to let everything settle and go back to normal.

When I’m reading a really good book, I find myself seeing through the eyes of a character I am drawn toward. For this one – it was Jules. The tornado touched down right behind her and my world went hazy as I ran for my life. When you find yourself right there, in the midst of it all, that’s when you know the author did something right.

Ending  4.5/5 Stars
Without giving anything away, the ending was satisfying enough, but I wanted even more. Not in a bad way, but in the when’s-the-next-in-the-series-coming-out kind of way. But that’s how it goes with books I am drawn into.  Looking forward to the next one!!

Total: 23.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

Beauty and tragedy don’t tend to go hand-in-hand… but here they do. So much loss, love, growth, and coming of age in this complex YA novel. It’s a great start to what is sure to be an amazing series. I am an avid Michele G. Miller fan, but this is by far her best yet.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Wicked Book Cover

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
By: Gregory Maguire
Copyright: 1995
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is a clever take on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. The reader gets to see the story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view. From start to finish, we learn more about the Witch, her roots, her life story, her struggles and joys. Is it possible to love a villain? Hey, is she even really a villain? That’s what this beautifully written novel does.

I absolutely love Wicked. This was my third time reading this book; each time I read it, I find at least one detail I missed from before. I enjoy reading books that give me a different perspective each time I read them. This is no different. Separated into five parts, this novel is incredible from start to finish. There are two sides to every story and Maguire gives us a compelling and rather artistically-worded version. Dare I say, I enjoy the story within this novel far more than I enjoy that of the musical of the same name that was based off of this book. I love the darkness and the beauty of each character.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  4.5/5 Stars
The character development of Elphaba, our main character, is laid out to the very last detail from start to finish. Maguire takes us through the various stages of Elphaba’s life- from a little baby with terrifyingly sharp teeth, through teenage years and adulthood, until she meets Dorothy Gale. The thing that makes this book most enjoyable is how Maguire makes Elphaba into a character that the reader can relate to. I find it most interesting that it makes sense. This could be how the Wicked Witch was before that fateful meeting with the girl in the blue checkered dress and annoying little dog.

Throughout Elphaba’s story, we meet quite a few intriguing and mysterious characters; the beautiful Galinda with her upper-class life, Boq with his endearing persistance, Fiyero with his otherworldy ways, the Wizard with his agenda, and so many others. I fear giving too many names, as I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 StarsWicked quote 2
The dialogue in Wicked matches the wide array of characters that Maguire has introduced the reader to. The philosophical banter, moral questioning, heated arguments, and quirky jokes help drive the plot and characters along nicely. There are many times in Wicked that I found myself thinking, “Huh, I never thought about it that way” for various points characters would bring up. The argument of “What is evil?” comes up very often, each character sharing their perspectives.

Plot  –  4.5/5 Stars
This book has it all – mystery, intrigue, tension, love and hate, life and death, darkness and light. There’s a lot going on, but Maguire shares this with the reader in such a way as to not become overwhelming. I enjoyed finding out where Elphaba came from, who her parents were, what it was like to grow up in her world, follow her through her time in school and see what was to become of her. Maguire raises questions of morality and religion and what the consequences of our actions are.

The best part of Wicked‘s plot is that there are no stereotypical plot devices used. This is a freshly told story that keeps the reader on their toes wondering what will happen next.

Visual Imagery  –  3.5/5 Stars
The imagery in this story is well done. Maguire gives the reader enough detail to have a foundation but not so much that there is no need for imagination on the reader’s part. It’s amazing how Maguire can take a story like The Wizard of Oz that is so iconic and have his own take on what the land of Oz is like. He has an almost Tim Burton-esque view of this world he has adopted and made his own.

Ending  4.5/5 Stars
After 406 pages, I still didn’t want it to end. Luckily, it doesn’t have to just yet. Gregory Maguire has created a lovely little series of books to follow Wicked. While you know the ending of The Wizard of Oz, the ending of Wicked is like a whole new story. That’s all I will say about it. Other than, I love it.

Total: 20.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

There’s a reason that I keep coming back to this book. It’s cumbersome in a wonderful way. I enjoy this version far more than The Wizard of Oz, but then again I’ve never been one for campy stories. There’s a little something in this story that I believe everyone can relate to, though the darkness interwoven throughout may not be for everyone. I love a book that can make you think. Give it a shot and keep an open mind.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

E: Entertainment

E

E is for Entertainment

To me, a great book is entertaining. Now let me explain…

I don’t expect the book to always be about twists and turns and crazy adventure… but I want it to keep me inside it’s pages well after I have finished reading.

Reading Doing It Wrong
In a given book, want to have any/all of the following reactions to the story:

~ Laughter
~ Tears
~ Anger
~ Hope
~ Anticipation
~ Curiousity
~ Pride
~ Desire

buy books for happiness
The book can be fiction, non-fiction, classic, modern, drama, comedy, young adult, new adult, adult, sci-fi or realistic – I don’t care. I just expect the world when I read a book. I expect to feel something good about the book I am reading. I want to be so excited to read it, that turning the page is an adventure in and of itself.

Just like a good movie, television show, or stage production – a book needs to entertain me, otherwise… onto the next!

good book coping

D: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse series)

D

My apologies for the delayed D and E posts. Came down with some awful cold this weekend. Now for your D post!!

Dead Until Dark CHarris
Dead Until Dark
By: Charlaine Harris
Copyright: 2001
Published by: Berkley Publishing Group
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

“Dead Until Dark” is a great mystery/comedy/fantasy blended story about Sookie Stackhouse, a cocktail waitress from Bon Temps, Louisiana. She’s adorable, small, feisty and quite attractive. She has one small flaw… she can read people’s minds. This has been an issue for her throughout her entire life, causing her to be sort of a loner. One can imagine that such a “disability” can hurt the dating world, as well. Enter Bill Compton – tall, mysterious, handsome.. and the greatest part? She can’t hear a single one of his thoughts. Bill also has something of his own to contend with – he’s a vampire. Vamps have just come out into the open. “Dead Until Dark” is the first story in the Sookie Stackhouse series and influence of the HBO hit series “True Blood.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. This was my second time reading “Dead Until Dark” and I loved it even more this time around. Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton, Sam Merlotte, and other great characters help round out a rather intriguing storyline. As a huge fan of True Blood, I can attest to the fact that, while the tv show is inspired by the book series, the books are VERY different. Even more important – this book is NOT Twilight. This is an adult’s look into the world of vampires. No one sparkles.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  3.5/5 Stars
Between the mysterious characters who we only have a surface skimming to those who we are given an in depth background of, I felt highly satiated as the reader. I felt like I knew Sookie and her lifelong plights. How horrible it must feel to be completely invaded by people’s thoughts each and every day. The level of mystery throughout the book allows for those holes in the story, knowing that at some point they will be filled.

Sookie is an excellent character. She’s outspoken, defends herself, and simply wants to experience love. Enter Bill Compton, most people’s dreamy, undead fantasy. Not mine. He’s very well-developed, but he rubs me the wrong way. I find him to be a bit more controlling that I prefer in a man.

My favorite character of the bunch in this story is Sam Merlotte, the owner of Sookie’s place of work, Merlotte’s. He cares about Sookie, has a secret of his own (who doesn’t?) and is confident (but not cocky.)

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
Where the rest of the countdown thrives, the dialogue isn’t as strong. That’s not to say it’s bad – I am thoroughly entertained by the dialogue throughout the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is filled with bite and her many years of practicing keeping her face from reacting to the thoughts of others comes through in her tongue-in-cheek responses to those who get on her last nerve. She isn’t afraid to stick up for herself, even in a life-or-death situation, which leads to some great moments between her and some of the Big Bads throughout the story.

Plot  –  3/5 Stars
This book has all of my favorites – fantasy, mystery, romance, plot twists, great characters, and real time. There are great plot drivers, such as Sookie’s telepathy, the relationship between Sookie and each of the males in her life, the vampire’s entrance into society (or not), and a whole mess of other things. With so many different storylines, it’s amazing that the story doesn’t get jumbled. Charlaine Harris manages her plot points well, ensuring to close any loose ends that need closing and leaving open those that drive the reader toward the next book in the series.

Visual Imagery  –  2/5 Stars
The imagery in this story is lacking. I love the fast-paced movement of the book, but I am missing those various descriptions to make the visuals easier. I have a foundation of how everything appears, but I am missing the added detail. I can picture a general floorplan of Sookie’s house and Merlotte’s, but I wanted a bit more detail. Having watch True Blood since the beginning of the show, I am not at a loss for visuals, but I would like to read more instead of have the tv show dictate what I see.

Ending  3.5/5 Stars
I enjoyed the ending. After a very action-packed book, I felt fulfilled by the way the story rounded out.

Total: 15/25 Stars

Why read this book?

As I mentioned above, this story is such a great mix of so many genres – fantasy, mystery, romance, drama, comedy. With all of this, there’s bound to be something in the story that you like. This isn’t your average vampire story – Firstly, no one sparkles. Secondly, there’s SO much more to it than what meets the eye. And finally, it’s for adults. This stands alone from the tv show, as I mentioned before. If you love True Blood, you’ll enjoy these books. If you haven’t seen the show, you can still enjoy Sookie’s adventures into this new world.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Book Review: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

The Devil Wears Prada
By: Lauren Weisberger
Copyright 2003
Published by: Doubleday
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

*Please note that this may contain some colorful language and tongue-in-cheek statements.

Let me start out by saying “Yes, I have seen the movie and I loved it.” There… now I feel better. As someone who typically prefers to “read first, watch later” it’s always hard for me to read a book after I’ve seen the movie. You can’t help but visualize the characters as they are depicted in the movie and little is left to the imagination. I try to avoid this scenario whenever possible. “The Devil Wears Prada” by Lauren Weisberger, however, is one of those anomalies. One of my co-workers recommended it, so as I was perusing an amazing used bookstore in Burlington, MA, I stumbled upon it and figured, “Sure. What have I got to lose?”

“The Devil Wears Prada” is about Andrea Sachs, an aspiring journalist, who has just graduated from college and is hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the highly visible, well-known editor of Runway magazine. With the promise of a great work recommendation from Miranda if she makes it through a year working as her junior assistant, Andrea sets herself up for the long haul. After all, how hard can the job really be? We very quickly come to find out that Andrea isn’t just Miranda’s assistant – she’s Miranda’s bitch. The reader gets to experience events unfolding through Andrea’s witty and wholly sarcastic narrations. We read as Andrea struggles with potentially compromising her integrity, makes poor life choices, fights for her future, etc.

I can’t say that I loved this book, but I didn’t hate it either. There were moments that had me laughing out loud, while others had me perplexed and struggling to maintain focus. I would recommend this book as a decent read, but I won’t be raving about it. Some of the best scenes in the book were when Eduardo, the security guard, made Andrea have to earn her way into the office through song. I will forever thing of “Material Girl” when I think of this book.

The Final Countdown

Characterization  –  2/5 Stars
At times, I found myself empathizing with Andrea, but mostly I was frustrated with her character. In my eyes, she was a weak character surrounded by a weak supporting cast. Andrea does little to win the audience over. She consistently puts those who care about her on the back burner in lieu of her career. She complains incessantly about her job choices and consistently judges those around her, placing herself on a pedestal.

In general, the characters simply weren’t built on. We were introduced to various moments, but very rarely did I have a moment where I found myself thinking “Oh, that’s why this characters responds in such a way.” It would have been nice to see more back story.

The star in this book is Miranda Priestly; she wins the show with her incessant need to challenge her assistants and have them submit to her overt dominance. We get hints of Miranda’s life outside of Runway and I found myself wanting to know even more about her back story.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 Stars
I found the dialogue to be thoughtful, sarcastic and witty. I enjoyed that this was a book that was obviously written for an older audience. I prefer the gritty, trash-mouthed reactions over the fluffed up version that was in the movie, mainly because it brings the reactions of characters to a more realistic level.

I found there was a lot of filler consisting of more monotonous explanation versus a substantial amount of dialogue. Perhaps if there was a bit more dialogue in the novel, I would be a bit more favorable to the story as a whole.

Plot  –  2.5/5 Stars
Sure, the book is about a very material world, but overall the story came across as superficial. I wish that there was more than just a surface explanation of what was happening in the world of Runway and Andrea’s life. Girl gets job that “a million girls would die for” > Girl has boss who is the equivalent of Satan > Girl judges and gets angsty about those around her > Girl changes and hurts people > etc > etc>.  This left me wanting more, but not in a good way. I wanted to get behind the psychology of it all.

The repetition throughout the book was bothersome – Andrea’s routine tasks throughout the day appeared over and over, with very few exciting scenarios. Wrapping bottles, getting lunch, grabbing coffee, angst, etc. I did enjoy moments throughout – such as the Harry Potter reference early on. (Then again, anything that references Harry Potter will probably be a highlight to me..)

Visual Imagery  –  3.5/5 Stars
Overall, the visual imagery was done fairly well. Any scene set in Runway placed a great vision in my mind while I was reading. I particularly enjoyed the sample closet of designer clothing, shoes and accessories. I’d love to have access to such a thing for my current job.

Ending  1.5/5 Stars
Blah! With so much going on throughout the book, the end felt rushed and lacking. Without giving anything away, I found it to be predictable. After reading such an angsty book, the ending didn’t fit the puzzle.

TOTAL: 13/25 Stars

Why read this book?

While I wasn’t a huge fan, I know some folks who did enjoy this read and couldn’t wait to get their hands on the sequel. There are some really great moments that occur throughout this book, such as our glimpses into Miranda’s life. It’s sort of like when you were a student and you saw your teacher at the grocery store. That moment of “Wait a second… they have a life outside of school?” Like I said earlier, Miranda is the star of this book.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Happy New Year!

image

I am very excited to finally start this book review blog. I have been looking to do this for quite some time, as my literature collection grows daily and I am finally able to put my English and Journalism degrees to good use.

While this is a blog with a focus on book reviews, I plan on broadening my literary focus to compare some books to their movie counterparts, occasionally throwing some other forms of geekery into the mix, and some other fun things every now and again.

I always welcome book suggestions, friendly challenges and other interactions. If you happen to be an author and would like me to take a look at your books, contact me. I would be happy to write an honest review of your work.

My first book review will be for The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Subscribe to this blog for many more to follow.

…in the meantime, I will be the one snowed in with my nose stuck in a book.

Happy reading!

*Picture Credit: Target Corporation