#BookBlogWriMo Day 11 – My Top Ten Posts and Thanks

#BookBlogWriMo Day 11 – #TopTuesday – My Most Popular Posts of All Time

I have actually never used this feature on my blog before, so it was really interesting to see what posts have accumulated a following and what ones aren’t as popular. Here are my top ten posts so far. My blog has only recently begun gaining more traffic as I’ve been posting more, but I’m excited to see what has been doing well.

#10 C: The Four C’s to a Great Book and a Successful Review From Me – 4/4/2014 – 22 views – This is actually one of my favorite posts on this blog. It pretty much spells it all out – what I review and what it takes to get a good rating from me. I have received some great feedback for this post and it’s a great reference for authors and other bloggers who are looking for ideas on a reviewing system.

#9 Blog Tour: Book Review + Giveaway – Inevitable Detour by S.R. Grey – 10/10/2014 – 22 views – Blog tours are always great traffic drivers.

#8 Book Boyfriends and Lady Loves – Updated 2/6/2014 – 23 views – Ah, another one of my favorite posts on this blog. I haven’t updated this in a while, so I’m due for another few lovely fellers and ladies.

#7 #BookBlogWriMo Day 1 – The History of My Blog and Thanks – 11/1/2014 – 26 views – Self explanatory. From just a few days ago!

#6 Book Review: From the Wreckage by Michele G. Miller – 7/9/2014 – 29 views – For those who don’t know, I am Michele’s editor. This is awesome. Beyond awesome, really. I met Michele through my blogging, joined her street team, then the rest is history. I started editing for her on the third book in this series – All That Remains. This series is awesome and Michele is a phenomenal author.

#5 A Little Bit About Me and My Love For Books – 3/7/2014 – 32 views – This post has a whole lot of information about me in interview-ish form. Worth checking out if you’re interested in learning more.

#4 Book Review: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger – 2/27/2014 – 37 views – My first ever book review! Not really a huge fan of the book, though. Ha!

#3 My First Rafflecopter Giveaway – 10/24/2014 – 50 views – Another milestone! Hoping to do a huge giveaway in January when my blog hits one year!

#2 Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway – #Nerd by Cambria Hebert – 11/3/2014 – 51 views – Part of a blog tour, #Nerd was a fun read and I’m excited that the next book will be coming out soon. 🙂 If there’s a tour for that one, I will definitely be participating.

#1 Blog Tour – Review – Unlit Star by Lindy Zart – 10/10/2014 – 95 views! – This is one of the most incredible books I have read. When I go into the search stats for my blog (aka, how people found my blog and posts) many of them have been searches for “Unlit Star” and the various characters and plot points within. I’m always on board for Lindy Zart’s book tours, as she’s one of my favorite authors.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 11

I am thankful for all of those military men and women – past and present – who put their lives on the line each day.

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/

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Review: The Lilith Scroll by B.L. Marsh

 The Lilith Scroll
By: B.L. Marsh
Copyright: 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy/New Adult
Format of Book: E-Book

*I received a free ARC of The Lilith Scroll from N K Author Services in exchange of an honest review.

Please see this post for the book spotlight and more information on where you can find it!

Synopsis
What if you discovered there was time before time began? What if everything you thought was true, was not? What if there was a beginning before, “In the beginning”? What if another story was unfolding within our time? A story steeped in loss, love, betrayal, and secrets?

On her twenty-third celebrated birthday, Lilith arrived in Scotland, following clues she had secretly collected about her past. Little did she know that her arrival at the Rosslyn Chapel would reignite one of the oldest wars of all time- The Fall. Sides will be chosen, lives will be lost, and the secret kept all this time by the Illuminati will be exposed.

Welcome to Eden. The place where magic was born, trees are gateways to other realms, and Angels aren’t what you think they are. Meet Lilith. A young woman with an incredible story; one she isn’t supposed to know, much less tell. Meet Sam. A man with an unknown past and powers that rival Lilith’s.

Go back in time. Back to the garden. Experience the magic of creation, the wonder of nature, and the betrayal that destroyed it all.

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 4.5/5 Stars
I found the characters in The Lilith Scroll to be incredibly complex and well-developed. Marsh does an incredible job weaving character webs and she hooked me very quickly. Lilith St. Claire is our main focus and I found myself wanting to join her in her adventure to find out about her past. Oh, and Sam… I’ll just leave it at that. Part of what drew me in to each of the characters is that there was a reason they became how they did and Marsh placed motivation into each of their actions, regardless of how small.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 Stars
There were moments in The Lilith Scroll where I fell completely in love with a character because of their various monologues and speech patterns. Marsh creates a beautiful dialogue, especially between Sam and Lilith. There’s a moment toward the end where I had to re-read just so I could live the moment again. The dialogue is realistic and appropriate for the time at which it takes place. The dialogue and the plot work hand-in-hand to create a wonderful story.

Plot  –  4.5/5 Stars
I was unsure, at first, how I would feel about this story. As a personal preference, I don’t usually gravitate to stories that appear to be about religion, but this was such a wonderfully different story than what I expected. It was a bit slow to start and slightly confusing as I adjusted to Marsh’s style, but once I did, I fell right in line and enjoyed the adventure. I loved that I understood the shorter Hebrew phrases. Marsh did a fantastic job weaving her educational studies into this impressive novel.

Visual Imagery  –  4/5 Stars
There were many times during The Lilith Scroll where I felt like I was right there, experiencing the sights, smells, and feelings. Moments in the Garden had me reliving my own studies when I was younger. Marsh describes everything as I pictured them, but so much better.

Ending  3/5 Stars
I wanted a little bit more, but considering the rest of the novel was at such great length with such hefty detail, the ending was a bit of a relief as it closed the loop. I look forward to seeing where Marsh takes this story and what is to come.

Total: 19.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

There’s something different about this story from anything else I’ve read. If you enjoy reading Tolkien, this is a great option for you.

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Blog Tour and Review: Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman


CrystalMagicTourBanner2

Crystal Magic CoverCrystal Magic (Clearwater Witches #1)
By: Madeline Freeman
Copyright: 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance
Format of Book: E-Book

*I received a free ARC of Crystal Magic from Xpresso Booktours in exchange of an honest review.

Synopsis
Nothing is safe around Kristyl Barnette. Windows break. Books rocket across the room. Lights flicker. Strange occurrences follow the sixteen-year-old everywhere.

When tragedy forces her to move to the small town of Clearwater, Michigan, with her estranged aunt Jodi, Kristyl tries to leave her past behind. But Clearwater has secrets of its own—a mystical history that intersects with Kristyl’s life and might shed light on the inexplicable events that plague her.

When a mysterious illness threatens her aunt’s life, Kristyl will do anything to cure her. Enlisting the help of witches could save Jodi, but is dealing in magic worth the consequences?

Welcome to my stop on the Crystal Magic Blog Tour! Below is my review of the book and a tour-wide giveaway (follow the link) for a signed copy of Crystal Magic. (This giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers.)

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3.5/5 Stars
The characters in Crystal Magic are very lovable. Kristyl (Krissa) is really genuine and I found myself wanting to reach through the pages to hug her at times and others I wanted to high-five her for just being awesome. She’s genuinely curious and resilient. She’s had a lot to adjust to, as we find out at the beginning of the book, but that’s only the beginning for her. I enjoyed following her through her journey and finding out how she adapted to each curveball thrown at her. Krissa’s aunt, Jodi, is endearing and caring; it’s apparent early on that there’s something about her we don’t know.

Another wonderful character is Owen – ugh, love him. I did find myself wanting to know more about him. Luckily, this is a series, so I may get my wish.

One character I couldn’t stand is Crystal. (Imagine having to share your name with someone who is just an all-around bully.) She is developed well and has a nice bite to her.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
The dialogue in Crystal Magic is realistic and fits the Young Adult genre well. I enjoyed the back and forth between Owen and Krissa. There was something refreshing about finding dialogue that can read aloud and on the page easily. The arguments aren’t forced and the monologues aren’t heavy.

Plot  –  3.5/5 Stars
This is a fun story with some nice twists. Between finding out the backstory of our main character and sifting through the crazy in the town of Clearwater, I was pulled right into the story. I look forward to seeing where this all goes in future books.

Visual Imagery  –  3/5 Stars
There are some really good moments throughout the book. As this wasn’t a visual-heavy story, I found myself drawn to Jodi’s store, Hannah’s Herbs. I could see the stones and jewelry. Having been in places like this before, I could practically smell the incense burning. I also enjoyed “seeing” the town of Clearwater and adventuring through Krissa’s new home.

Ending  4/5 Stars
Well, as far as endings go, this one was pretty great. I sort of saw it coming (just a teeny bit, and only by a hunch) but not to the extent that it did. I have to say it was VERY well done. (Yay for cryptic reviews, huh?)

Total: 17/25 Stars

Why read this book?

If you enjoy Young Adult Paranormal books, Crystal Magic is a pretty great choice for you. This may be my powers of seeing the future kicking in, but I have a feeling that this is a series to keep an eye on. I look forward to finding out what happens next.

Goodreads: Follow This Link
 
Purchase:
–Amazon: Follow This Link 
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MadelineAUTHOR BIO
Madeline Freeman lives in the metro-Detroit area with her husband, her daughter, and her cats. In the time she should spend doing housework, she rewatches Fringe. She also loves anything to do with astronomy, outer space, plate tectonics, and dinosaurs, and secretly hopes her daughter will become an astronomer or a paleontologist.
 
Author links:

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Book Review: Markings by S.B. Roozenboom

Markings by S.B. RoozenboomMarkings
By: S.B. Roozenboom
Copyright: 2013
Format of Book: E-Book

Celina Bayberry is your run-of-the-mill teenager – angsty, stubborn, insecure, and awkward. She’s uncomfortable in her own skin, works part-time at the wildlife reserve near her home, and meets Aaron, an attractive and strange guy who seems to turn up around every corner. Overnight, things start happening to her that she can’t explain. She quickly learns that there’s something bigger going on.

“The air still carried that aroma of earth, wood, blood. Mostly blood now…” (Sentence from Preface.)

Overall, I found this Young Adult book to be a fun read. It is fast-paced and age-appropriate. Something that really pulled me in was the amazing cover design! Kudos to Steven Novak!

The Final Countdown
Characterization
– 3/5 Stars
Celina (Lina, for short) is decently written, though I found her character lacked substance. Her stubborn, man-bashing ways became repetitive, though I did like her growth from the beginning of the novel to the end. I would have liked to see her a little more developed, though I anticipate that when a sequel does come out, there will be more elaboration on her.

I found Aaron, Lina’s coworker in the shelter, to be amusing, confident, imperfect, and loyal. He adds a nice opposition to Lina, giving a bit of variety to her surface personality.

The “bad guys” are really well created. They have the right bit of ooze and ick, balanced with a hint of slickness.

I also love Celina’s cats – Chubby, Harry, Snowella and Albert.

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
The dialogue in Markings is realistic, but it doesn’t really stand out. It helps drive the story and move the reader from Point A to Point B and beyond, but I’d have liked a bit more substance. While the story wasn’t heavy on impressive dialogue, I did enjoy the banter between Aaron and Lina, as well as the creepy quality of the “bad guys.”

Plot  –  4/5 Stars
I’m a sucker for anything paranormal that relates to vampires, shifters or witches. In this case, there’s the shifter element. I think that Roozenboom built this story off a great idea and there’s quite a bit of intrigue around the unknown. If I could choose any animal to shift into, I’d probably find myself turning into a cat of some sort.

Visual Imagery  –  4/5 Stars
Description is definitely Roozenboom’s strong suit. Set in Oregon’s Wildcat Country, there were high expectations  for imagery and they were lived up to. Between the images of animals at the shelter, clothing choices of the characters (who doesn’t love a little sparkle?) and other descriptions that help drive the plot along – Markings paints a really great picture of the world Celina Bayberry is living in. It definitely helps that the cover is so striking!

Ending  2.5/5 Stars
I wanted more from the ending. There was a great build-up to the final scene, but I felt there could have been more. It felt abrupt and rushed.  Despite this, I can’t wait until the next book in this series comes out. This is a story I latched onto and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Total: 16.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?
If you like YA paranormal romance, this is your book. Between the great imagery and the fun plot, this is a quick read. There’s a character in this story for everyone, so give it a chance!

**Fun Fact: I’ve also read S.B. Roozenboom’s other two novels and I enjoyed those, as well! Take a look. 🙂

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

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?

Complete by Lindy Zart – Blog Tour – Giveaway In Post

CompleteCoverKeep - CopyComplete (Incomplete Series, Book 2)
By: Lindy Zart
Publication Date: March 15, 2014
Genre: New Adult Romance

Blurb

If the truth sets one free, why does Lily Jacobs feel so trapped?

She’s learned doing the right thing isn’t always best and now she is living the consequences of her greatest sacrifice. Every day since Grayson Lee left is one she wishes he hadn’t. Years have gone by since their friendship turned to more and then was eradicated by Lily alone; enough time for their young love to fade. Only it hasn’t, not for Lily.

Now he is back and seeing him is devastating to her at the same time it is rapture. She tries to accept that they cannot be together, but everything inside her shouts that they should be; that they only fit with each other. And so she has to accept the greatest truth of all: She loves him still. She loves him enough not to let him go this time.

Excerpt

He wordlessly holds out a hand to me. His chest is rising and lowering from jumping around and heat emanates from him as he holds my gaze. As I fit my hand in his, the song changes to ‘Everything Changes’ by Staind. The scent of home wraps around me as he pulls me into his strong arms. His palms span the width of my back as though each finger of his has to be in contact with me.

I vaguely hear Aidan say something about pancakes and then he leaves the room with a grin on his face. My attention is immediately back on Grayson. He is singing to me, bringing me tighter into his arms, his mouth close to my temple. Pinpricks of cold awareness trail up and down my back and arms. I close my eyes, clutching him to me; the front of me pressed to him. It isn’t enough. Overwhelming emotion washes over me like the hands of regret.

“Can I tell you something?” he whispers by my ear as the song ends.

I whisper back, “Do I want you to tell me something?”

His lips smile against my forehead. “Does that ever matter?”

Pulling back, I look into eyes that have loved me and haunted me. “Not usually.” I smile.

Grayson brings his mouth close to mine, never releasing my gaze, and tells me, “You weren’t my first love.” He pauses and my heart cracks at his declaration. “You were my only love.” And it is repaired and whole just as quickly.

My Review

Complete picks up a few years after Grayson and Lily’s story finished in Lindy Zart’s first book in the duo – Incomplete. If you haven’t read that one yet, I highly suggest it. New Adult Romance has quickly become one of my favorite genres, especially when you throw in a great author such as Lindy Zart.

In their first installment, Incomplete, Lily and Grayson were best friends growing up and discovered that maybe there was something bigger for them. [ Fun side bar – my husband and I were best friends in high school. 🙂 ] Complete takes place a few years after the previous story. Lily and Grayson have both graduated and moved on with their lives. It is a beautiful and witty story about two people who were best friends in love and what happens when life gets in the way.

    The Final Countdown

Characterization – 4/5 Stars
All of the characters in this story are very well-developed. Of them all, Lily is the most dynamic. She has a beautiful soul and has grown up quite a bit since the last time we met her. Grayson and Lily are still battling their demons, though they’re more complex now.

Lindy Zart does a great job building the history of each of her characters. The struggle with an alcoholic family member continues to be an issue for one character, while another struggles with their identity. One unsung hero in the midst is Stone; he’s ultimately one of my favorites. I love that he loves his grandfather, is a tasteful flirt and isn’t pushy. I’d have loved to see more of him (spin-off, maybe?)

Each character in Complete has a purpose. I’d love to be a part of their circle.

Dialogue – 4.5/5 Stars
The dialogue in Complete is a wonderful mix of playful banter, tragic confession and beautiful romance. I love those books where I can be laughing at one minute and crying at the next – this is definitely one of them. Grayson and Lily may be older now, but they seem to pick up where they left off. Zart used the dialogue in this novel to drive the story; this is fitting, since communication is key in any relationship – romantic, family, friends.

Plot – 4.5/5 Stars
When a story makes me feel like my own life is written in it’s pieces, I can’t help but fall in head first. Perhaps I’m a bit biased since I am always going to root for best friends in love, even if something has pulled them apart. Complete has pretty much everything I want in a romance – friends, family, conflict, music, sex. There are moments here or there that pulled me away from the story, but for the majority I was completely enthralled.

Visual Imagery – 3.5/5 Stars
I enjoy when as author gives me just enough detail to have a great foundation for what to see, but leaves space for me to come up with things on my own. Between Grayson’s bad boy style, Lily’s out-of-comfort outfits, a beautiful middle-of-nowhere feel, and everything in between, I had no trouble “seeing” the story. Visually, the story is just as beautiful as the dialogue. There are moments, such as Grayson and Lily’s stolen glances, that draw you in just a much as the conversation.

Ending 4.5/5 Stars
All I will say is – you should read it yourself.

TOTAL: 21/25 Stars

Why read this book?

If you:

like romance
have ever been in love with your best friend
want to make it big in the world
have every settled for anything less than you deserve
or just love to read
You will find something to love about this book. The struggles are all realistic, the love story brings you pain and joy, and you find yourself rooting for someone. Who? Well, that’s for you to decide. Everyone deserves true love, it’s just harder for some to see that. I absolutely love this book.

*I received copy of book for honest review.

Links

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18461474-complete
Kindle- http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Incomplete-Lindy-Zart-ebook/dp/B00IZRAPKK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395587260&sr=8-1&keywords=Lindy+Zart
Smashwords- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/418916
Nook- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/complete-lindy-zart/1118922206?ean=2940149221042

About the Author

Lindy Zart has been writing since she was a child. Luckily for readers, her writing has improved since then. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, and one cat. Lindy loves hearing from people who enjoy her work.

Links-

Twitter- https://twitter.com/lindyzart
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/lindyzart
Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/lindyzart
Amazon Author Page- http://www.amazon.com/author/lindyzart
Blog- http://lindyzartauthor.blogspot.com
Smashwords Author Page-https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lindyzart

Giveaway Info

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