Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Girld Meets Underworld by Jess Watkins

Having lost her mother and brother, Stella stands on the roof of her building, about to jump. She is stopped by a handsome young man, who jumps first. Somehow, he survives and Stella soon discovers that Conner holds a dark secret and more than a passing connection to her own unhappiness.

But Conner isn’t the only man to take an interest in Stella. Will is dangerous. He has mood swings, a crazy older brother and the ability to heal abnormally quickly. Stella knows what Conner is, but what exactly is Will – and why does he appear to know more about Conner than she does?

Description and picture from Goodreads.com

My Review

         I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    Since the whole Twilight craze a few years back there have been numerous books with the plot of girl falls in love with both a vampire and a werewolf and must choose between them. I have read several of them and most have been complete disappointments. This one, however, was one of the few that turn out amazingly.
    The book is fairly short but the author does a great job of creating endearing characters. I got completely wrapped up in Stella’s story right from the beginning. She is a very sweet girl but she can be very strong willed and does not have a problem standing up to anyone that threatens her or those she loves. Connor, the vampire side of the love triangle, is the veritable bad boy turning his life around. He is so sweet with Stella and is constantly saving her life throughout the book. It seems that no one wants Stella and Connor to be together and the lengths that some people go to in an attempt to keep them apart are crazy. Will is the werewolf love interest. He is very different from Connor, but that is what attracts Stella to him. Where Connor is very self-assured and confident, will is troubled and vulnerable. You can see how much Will loves Stella but his life is unstable and with a brother that is truly certifiable always trying to ruin his happiness it seems like there is no hope for Will and Stella.
    One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book is that at times the bad guys are good and the good guys are bad. This is so much like true life. No one is good all the time and bad people can often do good things. This helped to lend to the believability of the characters and the story. While I obviously know that vampires and werewolves are not real, I still like the stories I read to feel real and the author did an amazing job at creating a paranormal story with a true-life feel to it.
    There are several twists and turns throughout the story, especially the ending cliffhanger. I was in no way expecting the story to end the way that it did. I am still trying to wrap my head around the betrayal that happens. I can’t wait to read the next book so that I can figure out what will happen. I am hoping that the next book will be equally as good as the first and fully expect it to be considering the amazing story that can be told using the cliffhanger ending of the first book.  

Parent’s Guide:  There are some sexual innuendos and a few uses of the ‘f’ word.  There is nothing too bad, but keep in mind that this book was written for older teens and young adults.

The Brotherhood of Olympus and the Deadliest Game (Book 1) by Guy T. Simpson Jr.

The Brotherhood of Olympus and the Deadliest Game, is the first of a series of young adult horror/fantasy novels that tells the story of Drake Frasier, a painfully shy, intellectually gifted 13 year old boy growing up in Aberdeen, Washington.
On a cold, gray Friday the thirteenth, his favorite uncle is killed in a horrible car collision with a logging truck. Drake's life takes a sudden twist after the accident when his family begins to encounter haunting spirits that bring terror and doom upon them. He soon finds that he has unique gifts and abilities that allow him to fight the apparitions, and that there may be a greater sinister plot afoot. But as Drake develops his skills to combat the ghastly specters, his oldest brother continues to use a Spirit board game that invites the evil into their lives. Drake must bring his brothers back together to fight the nefarious forces to save his family, and quite possibly the world.

Description and picture are from Goodreads.com

My Review

 I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was amazingly good. I feel like this book could turn in to a very epic and sweeping series if the author chooses to continue with this story. The story line is very intricate but not overwhelmingly so and the characters are so well written that you are drawn in to the story in a way where you feel the ups and downs that they all experience.
This book is a true good versus evil story. The five Frasier boys have heard whisperings about the ‘gifts’ that run in the family but the never pay them much heed. After the strange death of a beloved uncle strange things start to happen and the boys are pulled in to a struggle between those deities that want humanity to continue without their interference and those deities that have turned power hungry and wish to decimate and enslave humanity. There are even some immortals that you could not imagine being on the ‘good’ side that are trying to help the Frasier boys to be successful in their quest. The boys also learn that the family gifts are real and that they must embrace them if they are to be successful in saving the world.
One thing I really loved about this book is that the author incorporated myths from several cultures in to this story. The Pacific Northwest is rife with legends that have been around for hundreds of years and come from numerous Native American tribes. The author did a great job at using those legends to influence the story while at the same time tying the Mt. Olympus in Washington State to the Mt. Olympus in Greece. There were also pieces of Norse and Roman mythology as well as numerous Gods and Goddesses from almost all cultures imaginable, including some I have never heard of. The author was even kind enough to place a guide at the back of the book to give a brief explanation of all of these different components.
This story is written in a very descriptive way and most of the time this is a very good thing. The characters are explained in such a thorough way that you feel as if you really know them and understand why they do what they do. You almost feel like you are a member of the family and have known these boys their whole lives. The descriptive writing also goes beyond the characters and extends even to descriptions of the scenery and layouts of the city and surrounding areas. There were a few times that this descriptive writing seemed a bit much and in each instance it was during those times when the author was describing the scenery that the family was seeing while out camping. I am not saying that the description of those scenes was badly done; I just do not enjoy reading about what all the nature looks like. I just need the basic idea of the surroundings and then want to get on with the story. My imagination will fill in the rest.
There was really only one part of the book that bothered me and that was Rachael’s relationship with Drake. She is only 14 years old and she is so in love with Drake that she decides that she will do whatever is in her power to keep Drake safe throughout his life. It is so sweet and all but she seemed very young to be making that sort of huge decision. I suppose it could happen but I remember when I was 14 and had a crush on a boy I was definitely not thinking of a future more than a year or two from then, let alone for the rest of my life. While this did bother me a little it was not a huge thing and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.
Overall this book was a fantastic read. If you are anything like me you will fall in love with the characters and feel drawn in to their story. The things that these boys deal with are so strange and sometimes upsetting and scary, especially to the younger boys who are still children. The plot kept me guessing with all of its twists and turns and I can’t wait to read the next book to find out what happens.
Drake is not your typical teen age boy. He does play sports and like to hang out with his brothers but he is different because of how in to learning he is. He devours any book he can get his hands on no matter what the topic. He has even read through two entire sets of encyclopedias. This thirst for learning and large volume of knowledge comes in handy once crazy, paranormal things begin to affect him and his family. 

Parent's Guide: There is a small amount of swearing in the book, but nothing too horrible.  The one thing I did not think was appropriate you a book targeted to young people was the use of a Ouija board (they call it a Spirit board in the book) and the kids using it to contact spirits.  Please be warned that the kids do communicate with evil entities through the board and one of the kids gets these spirits to show him how to have powers (i.e. telekinesis, psychic abilities, etc.).

Kindred (Night School Vampire Hunter Trilogy #2) by Michelle Cornwell-Jordan

Angel and her friends at Ame Academy, a boarding school for preternatural and humans are back, and they are preparing for battle against the dark forces that kidnapped Angel’s younger brother Jordan. Angel had recently discovered that she was a Hunter and that she alone has a special weapon against her enemies, her blood, which is discovered to be toxic to her enemies. Angel is prepared to use her training and all that is at her disposal in order to save Jordan, even if that means joining forces with the strange and mysterious Rafael, who at their first meeting, she recognized him as the boy she had dreamed about for weeks prior to his arrival at the school. Angel cannot shake the feeling that she knew Rafael before, and is hopelessly drawn to her extremely handsome fellow hunter.

Rafael frightens her, he hints of a secret; another time and another life lived.

Can love survive two lifetimes?

Events unfold that provides the answers to who Rafael really is and what they mean to one another; and along with these strange and blossoming emotions for Rafael, along with guilt and fear for her brothers safety; Angel discovers that she is more than just a Vampire Hunter, and that she plays a major role in a ancient prophecy, which she must fulfill by facing a force so evil that survival is not promised.

But she will face the Dark One, Angel will sacrifice all, if it means saving all whom she loves.

Many questions are answered, but the drama is just beginning….

Description and Picture are from Goodreads.com

My Review

                                    I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
I hate having to give a bad review to any book because I know that to an author their book is like their child and to have it talked about in a negative way is very upsetting. I hope that this review will be looked at in a helpful way and not as an attack because it is definitely not meant in any hurtful way.
The premise of the book is actually pretty good. I did like the idea of the their being a school for supernatural kids that is blended in with a traditional school in such a way as to allow it to remain hidden. I also really liked that it was described like any other high school complete with that one group of girls that every past and future high school student will recognize. Whatever they are called at different schools; plastics, barbies, etc., we all know who ‘those’ girls are and no story of any high school would be complete without their inclusion. The premise of this book is that a crazy supernatural person that wishes to take over the world and it is up to Angel and her friends to stop the threat. Pretty good idea for a book.
The problem that I have with the book all comes down to writing style and proofreading. This book is set up as several blog entries that are written mostly by the main character interspersed with flashbacks. There is nothing wrong with this format but I just felt that there was little thought put in to the writing of each post. Several times throughout the book there were instances where it seemed the author had forgotten a necessary detail and instead of going back and writing it in to past pages where it would be logical she would just tack it on as ‘oh, I forgot this detail but here it is now that you absolutely have to know it.’ These entries felt so out of place and threw off the whole flow of the story. There were also several obvious grammatical errors that should have been caught in the proof reading. The one that sticks out in my mind, mainly because it drove me crazy, was the use of ‘maybe’ instead of ‘may be’. These errors were so obvious and frustrating that it completely ruined the story for me.
I also wish that there would have been more character development. The basic story of the characters was told in the story but I never felt like I got to know the characters on a personal level. There is a huge potential for amazing characters there and I would love to see them become more real. Without better development of the characters I feel this book will just never be more than mediocre.
The one thing that I did actually like about this book is the ending. I never expected the book to end the way that it did. I do not want to give anything away but in a part of the book where you expect an epic fight the story goes in a completely different direction. Putting it like that makes it seem like it would be a big let down but it actually worked very well and left me stunned.
I am hoping that the author will do some more work on this book and then try republishing. With a little more work I feel this could actually be a really great read. 

Parent's Guide: This book contains a decent amount of swearing and some fight scenes.  I would rate this book PG-13, more for the language than the fighting.

Forged by Greed by Angela Orlowski-Peart

Two Seattle 16-year-olds, Jatred and Jasmira, are not your typical star-crossed lovers. They are not even your typical Shape Shifters. Sure, they try to live an ordinary life. At least, as ordinary as the Prince and the Princess of the rivaling ancient Races--the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards--can live. But eventually they learn that not much about their existence can be normal. Especially when the Races' two commanding Goddesses are involved.

One of the Goddesses is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means kicking Jatred and Jasmira's love to the curb. Nothing is off limits, including removing Jatred's memories of Jasmira.

To complicate things even more, there are the Universe's powers to consider. They are trapped in an ancient Amulet in order to protect the stability of the world. But the Universe has a mind of its own, and when the powers are unleashed, the forces of nature are disturbed; earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions shake the Earth. All Shifters of both Races are summoned by their respective Goddesses to fight in the name of, or against, the normalcy of the world.

Book description & Picture from Goodreads.com

My Review 

           I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
    What is it about stories of forbidden love that makes it so fun to read about? It seems like no matter how many of these stories I read I am still a huge sucker for a good one, and this book is pretty darn good.
    This story follows the basic outline of any story about forbidden love. A boy and girl fall for each other but for some reason they are not supposed to even talk to each other, let alone fall in love. In this book the boy and girl come from different species of supernatural shifters. Throughout all of time these different shifters have not been permitted to mingle but Jatred, the prince of the Winter Shifters, and Jasmira, the princess of the Summer Shifters inevitably find themselves head over heels in love with each other. Of course there are forces at work that are trying to split them up. Unlike most stories, not only are their family and friends trying to keep them apart, but these kids each have a Goddess to whom they owe their allegiance and each Goddess has their own agenda.
    I fell in love with the characters in this book. Jatred and Jasmira are such sweet kids. You would think that with both of them being royalty they would be stuck up and spoiled but this was not the case. They were both pretty humble and very kind, especially to those that they are to rule. They care so much for each other and you can tell by the lengths that they go to in order to be with each other, even if some of the solutions turn out to be disasters. I was rooting for them to be able to truly be together throughout the book. Their friends were also great characters and were very supportive despite the rules that say they shouldn’t associate with one another. I loved that these teens were able to be examples to the older shifters of either tribe and were able to show them that despite being from different places and taking different forms when shifting, they are more alike than they are different. That is such a great message for teens to hear.
    There are many twists in the plot that keep the story fast paced and keep you guessing at the outcome. Between crazy Goddesses, crazy fight scenes, strange natural disasters and the drama of young love there is never a dull moment. I can’t wait for book two so I can find out what will happen to Jatred and Jasmira. I am really hoping that they can find a way to be together. 

Parent's Guide: This book was actually a very appropriate YA story.  There is some very minor swearing and some battle scenes, nothing too intense or graphic.  Rating wise I would think it would be PG.