Nov 28, 2015

A Glance Back at November

To my American readers, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This year, my younger brother and his beautiful wife hosted Thanksgiving dinner. I was ecstatic because he's quite the chef. And for the first time ever, I had deep-fried turkey. I don't care for anything deep-fried, but I am always willing to try something at least once. For those of you who have had it, you know what I mean when I say, "Wow!" It was absolutely delicious—tender, moist, and so flavorful.

In the same manner of keeping ourselves open to new possibilities, November was a month of many new authors for me largely in part because I've become a "professional" reader for NetGalley. Here is the line up. I hope you find a title, or two, that catches your eye.



Crystallum (Primordial Principles 1)
by by Laney McMann

AS AN AVID reader of young adult books, I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of the most thought provoking books that completely captivate me...
The Reluctant Duchess
by Sharon Cullen

THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS, by Sharon Cullen, is a sweet historical romance with a touch of suspense to make the heart race but not wildly...
The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave 1)
by Rick Yancey

“THEY’VE TAKEN EVERYTHING worth living for. Now they’ve come to take the things worth dying for.” I woke up to a start the first night I read...
The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave 2)
by Rick Yancey

“Because, in the end, without love all our effort is wasted, all we do is in vain.” Spoken like a smitten husband, Ricky Yancey dedicates this...

Nov 24, 2015

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave 2)

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave 2) book cover

by Rick Yancey
book review rating 4 out of 5

“Because, in the end, without love all our effort is wasted, all we do is in vain.”

Spoken like a smitten husband, Ricky Yancey dedicates this quote to his wife, Sandy, in the Acknowledgments section of The Infinite Sea. I think Mr. Yancey may be quite the romantic…just a guess. With such a profound understanding of love, I am delighted to see this knowledge poured into his books. For in this epic sequel, love—utterly unpredictable, wholly powerful—is the catalyst that irrevocably changes everything.

The Infinite Sea continues the story right after the destruction of Camp Haven with Cassie, Ben, Ringer, and the rest of the team hiding from the Others as they wait for Evan to rendezvous with them. But the longer they wait, the more they despair. Faced with the devastating possibility that Evan may be gone, Ringer leaves the group to seek out safer refuge. Ringer’s departure splits the story into two concurrent timelines: Book 1 and Book 2.

Book 1 has everything that I’ve come to enjoy about this series—heart-pounding pacing with plenty of romance, intrigue, and action to improve upon the brilliant start of the trilogy.

Book 2 is slower, but equally exciting. Narrated almost entirely from Ringer’s perspective (fans of Cassie and Evan, I hear your collective sigh), her character undergoes a pivotal transformation and provides the answer to one of the biggest mystery in this trilogy: who is Evan Walker? The dominant focus on Ringer takes away too much of the spotlight from Cassie’s lead protagonist role. I was rather surprise and a bit disappointed that Cassie’s narrative, by comparison, was not as significant. Still…

At a time when killing seems like the only option, the easier option, Mr. Yancey writes unforgettable characters with infallible courage, integrity, and morality. But the one truly remarkable theme woven throughout both books is unconditional love—this love will be the arrow that will pierce the very (black) heart of the enemy.

The Infinite Sea doesn't just continue the story but moves it forward with new revelations and possibilities that will have readers questioning everything and eagerly anticipating for more in The Last Star.

DISCUSSION: Who is your favorite supporting character of all time?

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Nov 17, 2015

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave 1)

The 5th Wave book cover

by Rick Yancey
book review rating 5 out of 5

“THEY’VE TAKEN EVERYTHING worth living for. Now they’ve come to take the things worth dying for.”

I woke up to a start the first night I read The 5th Wave. At some point in the mist of reading about the 4th Wave—Pestilence—I fell asleep on the couch (it was a terribly long day), and my mind must have continued the story into my dreams. There I was in REM, living through an apocalypse. And, I’ll admit; my survival skills were pathetic.

This is my first book by Rick Yancey, and I highly regret letting this book sit on my nightstand for as long as I did. Quite simply, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Mr. Yancey’s prose is superb—each paragraph is lyrical and laden with emotions to weave an intricate and gripping epic tale of catastrophic loss in a world on the cusp of extinction. It is told through the thought-provoking narratives of four compelling individuals: Cassie—the defiant, Ben—the courageous, Evan—the enigma, and Sammy—the hope.

It’s the dawn of the 5th Wave, and Cassie has only two missions: stay alive and rescue Sammy from the Others—beings who only look human, who kill anyone they see. How can she fight an enemy she can’t detect? To stay alive is to trust no one, until she meets Evan Walker. Charming as he is mysterious, Evan may be Cassie’s only hope to stay alive and rescue her brother. But, can she trust him?

I enjoyed all the characters, but the most memorable one, the one that still lingers in my thoughts is Evan. He is extremely complex. The depths of his struggle, the torment he endures, and the shocking final revelation that he makes by the end of the book are profound, heartbreaking, and enlightening.

So much more than an alien invasion, this is a beautiful and captivating story about humanity’s rise above disparity, hopelessness, and hatred. Mr. Yancey writes an original and remarkable tale with characters whose hope, courage, and above all—love—forge the blade that will cut deeply into our souls and leave a lasting memory long after the last page is turned.

I have a deep admiration for Mr. Yancey’s writing. I can’t wait to continue this series with The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave 2).

DISCUSSION: I was so smitten by this series that I actually sent Mr. Yancey a fan mail right after I finished The 5th Wave. This is rare for me. I hope I didn’t sound like a stalker. =) When was the last time you were so touched by a book that you reached out to the author? What book was it? Who was the author?

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Nov 10, 2015

The Reluctant Duchess

The Reluctant Duchess book cover

by Sharon Cullen
book review rating 2.5 out of 5

THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS, by Sharon Cullen, is a sweet historical romance with a touch of suspense to make the heart race…but not wildly.

Lady Sara Emerson’s beloved cousin—Meredith—was tragically murdered. The crime was never solved. Two years later, Sara is jolted out of her dull life when she receives letters dredging up Meredith’s death.  Now, the killer seems to be targeting her. Determined to bring her cousin’s murderer to justice, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin’s fiancé—Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmoyne. However, living under his protection has its own hazards. Drawn to his fiery personality, Sara feels a delicious urge to take their relationship in "new, exquisitely inappropriate directions."

My feelings for The Reluctant Duchess are like mixed greens in a salad bowl; there is a little bit of everything.

The characters, for instance, have me pulling petals from a flower say, “I love you. I love you not.” Sara’s character is too eager to help those in need, much like a mother hen. Her kindness and stubborn determination to take care of her father at the expense of her own happiness was, again, too altruistic. I couldn’t connect with Sara because I believe you cannot set your ENTIRE life aside to take care of others who have already had the chance at living their life fully. But, I have a soft spot for sweet characters, and I like her anyways for her shyness, quiet confidence and placid beauty.

Gabriel’s character had me truly on the fence. While he did have a strong, yet vulnerable personality, and is arguably swoon-worthy, he allows his mother to dictate whom he should love. Oh no, no, no…

And speaking of mothers, I think Ms. Cullen has a wickedly good sense of humor playing up the meddling mom card. Though I think the greatest joke was actually played on me—the reader. There were many scenes in which I was welcoming the satisfaction that comes with a deeply emotional and honest conversation between Sara and Gabriel, or anticipating a sensual late night tryst, when I am jolted out of my reverie at the (un)timely appearances of the moms. Such an unexpected and unpleasant mental cold shower. Ha ha. I hope my next book by Ms. Cullen will leave me just a touch less high and dry.

DISCUSSION: Who's your all time favorite swoon-worthy historical male/female lead?

{I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and humble opinion.}

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Nov 3, 2015

Crystallum (Primordial Principles 1)

Crystallum book cover

by Laney McMann
book review rating 2.5 out of 5

AS AN AVID reader of young adult books, I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of the most thought provoking books that completely captivate me, and redefine my understand of the complexity and maturity of this particular genre. Crystallum, by Laney McMann, did not have this effect. It fell rather flat.

Kadence Sparrow wasn't born a devil's child—she was turned. Now, she's hiding from the truth, and running…straight into the arms of Cole Spires. As one of the Celestial Children, Cole lives to defend the Ward and protect the Primordial race. When Kadence tackles Cole at club Crystalline, he assumes she, like most girls, just wants his attention. But, Kadence isn't like most girls.

Ms. McMann creates a unique twist to an age-old theme of angels versus devils. The idea that there are two races of Celestial Children—Primordial and Primeva—is interestingly different. I appreciate the thoughtfulness in the telling of their history, the magnetic and avian principles behind their supernatural strength, and the twists and secrets leading up to the very end.

Yet much of this creativity was sidelined in favor of teenage drama. High school crushes, jealous exes, irrational fights, and constant threats between the Primordial and Primeva were quite immature. Before long, I no longer felt that I was reading a young adult dark fantasy novel, but following the lives of angst teenagers.

The extensive use of Latin was quite intriguing…initially. I sense that Ms. McMann has an excellent command of this lost language. I enjoy author’s incorporating their own personal experiences into their books. But, in this case, I do feel that it was too much of a good thing. It grew tiresome. Halfway through the book, I no longer felt that I was reading a story; I felt that I was being tutored in Latin. Et Mortali Spiram. The Mortal Coil. Filios Daemoneum. Devil’s Child. Nefarius. Black Guards. And, that’s not even the half of it. Such an abundance of Latin didn’t feel critical to the story; it was distracting and completely lost its charm at the end.

Despite the lack of character depth and the disruptive foreign language lessons, I can see how (very) younger adult fans will be enamored to the irresistible Cole and mysterious Kadence, as they defy all odds to begin their passionate love story, whilst battling the forces of evil. The series has a bit of a rough start, but there is a lot of potential. I look forward to the characters maturing and the unraveling of more Primordial mysteries in Primordial Principles 2.

DISCUSSION: What was the last series you read with a slow start that concluded with an absolutely amazing ending? Do share.

{ I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and humble opinion. }

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