Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Review: Dragon Marked (Supernatural Prison #1) by Jaymin Eve

Dragon Marked (Supernatural Prison, #1)Dragon Marked

Author: Jaymin Eve
Series: Supernatural Prison #1
Pages: 386
Publisher: Self
Release date: 28th January 2015

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Book 1 in Upper YA/NA Paranormal Romance Trilogy.

There are supernatural prisons hidden across the globe. Contained within these fortresses are some of the deadliest criminals from the five supernatural races: vampire, shifter, fey, magic users and demi-fey.

Jessa Lebron, twenty-two, has spent her entire life in Stratford, Connecticut, one of the gateway towns adjoining these prisons which protect the fortified borders. She’s a wolf shifter, and her father leads the town council. She learns that much of her life has been hidden from her, secrets which threaten to tear apart the very fabric of her world. Especially the biggest secret of them all.

She is dragon marked.

Jessa only knows what she’s been told about the dragon marked, that they are dangerous and must be eliminated to prevent the rise of the dragon king, the powerful warmonger who had his head removed a thousand years ago. So now Jessa's on the biggest hit list of all. Dragon mark hunters are lethal and her only hope to evade detection is to keep the energy contained.

As more secrets unfold she finds herself locked up in Vanguard, the notorious American supernatural prison. Thankfully she’s not alone. Braxton, the dragon-shifter has her back. Together they must survive long enough to free themselves and the other dragon marked.

Because it’s time for the dragon marked to rise.

Excerpt:

I glared at the deadly but visually stunning dragon. He was massive; he’d had to tuck his wings in at his side to have room for movement. The black and blue of his scales shone even in the dying light. The bright yellow eyes surveyed the room, before locking me in his gaze. He roared again and I decided to take a stand. In general I didn’t think much before I acted, and my plans were often considered to be brave or stupid. Usually both.

“Braxton Compass,” I scolded him, moving right up into his strike zone, my hands on my hips. “Your scaled dragon ass is blocking the doorway.”

Jacob, Tyson, and Maximus crowded behind me. They were ready to snatch me up if their brother made the wrong move. But I knew it would have to be pretty exceptional circumstances before Braxton would lose enough of himself to hurt me.

The massive beast lowered his head until we were eye to eye. He would scent trickles of my fear, but despite my body’s involuntary response, I wasn’t really afraid of Braxton. His dragon was a little unpredictable, but he was strong enough to keep both of them controlled. I knew he’d pulled this stunt to remind the council where the real power lay and that he didn’t like secrets being kept, especially when they personally affected us.

The dragon and I continued our stare-off, my dark blue eyes locked on his yellow. “Let’s call it a tie,” I finally said, grinning and raising my eyebrows at the same time.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

I am a huge shifter fan so when I saw the call-out for reviewers on Goodreads I jumped at the chance to read Dragon Marked which is the first book in the Supernatural Prison series by Jaymin Eve and a nice start to the series.

Twenty-two year old Jessa Lebron is a wolf shifter and the daughter of the council leader and alpha. Jessa was a snarky, kick-butt character, a little frustrating at times but loyal to those closest to her; especially her father and the Compass brothers Jacob, Tyson, Maximus and Braxton.

The side characters were all written wonderfully, Mischa was na├»ve and endearing, Louis has me intrigued, the Compass brothers each had their own unique personality, are extremely powerful and protective of Jessa - Braxton is a very rare dragon shifter, Maximus a vampire, Jacob a Fey and Tyson a magic user, there is a small hint of romance but I’m certainly hoping for more in the next instalments. I enjoyed the close bond and friendship between these characters as well as with Jessa and her family.

The plot is evenly paced as we learn about the different supernaturals and the politics at Stratford, Connecticut which is a gateway town adjoining the prisons which protect the magically fortified borders. We also get a bit of a mystery surrounding Jessa and her locked up powers and the fact she is dragon marked which will make her hunted and eliminated to prevent the rise of the dragon king if it is made known.

As Jessa and her friends find and learn more about the supernatural prison, she inadvertently finds herself locked up in Vanguard with Braxton but with her father’s reputation, surviving in there is going to be her biggest challenge.

I enjoyed Jaymin Eve’s creativity and unique storyline, her writing is engaging and the characters were all written extremely well. I enjoyed the supernatural/council politics and the original world and setting. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. If I had one gripe it would be the blurb, an element of surprise would have been nice rather than too much being revealed here.

Dragon Marked is a wonderful start to the Supernatural Prison series.



Jaymin EveAbout the author: Jaymin Eve has a passion for reading, writing and arithmetic ... okay maybe not the last one but definitely the first two. She loves surrounding herself with the best things in life: her two girls, a good book and chocolate.

Living on the beautiful Gold Coast, in Australia, the family loves spending lots of time on the beach. And travelling as frequently as possible.

When Jaymin isn't trying to wrangle two daughters, a puppy and her husband, you will find her hiding in a corner trying desperately to write her stories (without little fingers pressing random keys). She asks forgiveness if you notice the occasional sskkkkssjs appearing in her book, her children are proud of their contribution.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & OliverEmmy & Oliver

Author: Robin Benway
Series: -
Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: 23 June 2015

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.


She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

I love books where childhood friends become more so I was really eager to read Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway.

Emmy & Oliver were seven year-old best friends and neighbours until a day when Oliver was kidnapped by his own father and didn’t reappear until ten years later. A piece of Emmy’s heart was lost that day and she always lived in hope that he would return and things would be just as they were.

Emmy’s life since then had changed, no freedom, strict parents and decisions being made for her. She wants to surf, attend college away from her hometown and live a life without her parents constant worry but all of them were changed the day Oliver was taken.

Oliver was sweet but to me he lacked emotion, admittedly he was confused; he had been betrayed by someone who had meant the most to him and he was thrown back into an unknown life with a new family. My heart honestly broke for him but there was no oomph to his character, I found him to lack depth.

I liked the side characters, they were believable in their actions and their reactions – they were portrayed perfectly.

The writing was truly wonderful, there was some great dialogue and banter with a bit of humour thrown in. The storyline kept me entertained and I couldn’t help but hope for some normalcy for Oliver and some independence for Emmy; it’s great she had such loving parents but their restrictions were over the top - for good reason of course but I felt for her.

Overall, a sweet romance, great characters and an engaging and emotional storyline; I was satisfied with how this all came together.

Thank you to HarperTeen via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Emmy & Oliver.



Robin BenwayAbout the author: I'm the author of "Audrey, Wait!", "The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June", and the AKA series. My new book "Emmy & Oliver" will be released on June 23, 2015. I live in Los Angeles with my extremely stubborn shih tzu, Hudson. I've gotten a lot better at cooking. I still love coffee. We should be friends.

Also, I never use this Goodreads account, so if you'd like to contact me, feel free to find more info at my website! www.robinbenway.com

Friday, 22 May 2015

Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

The Leveller (The Leveller, #1)The Leveller

Author: Julia Durango
Series: The Leveller
Pages: 256
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: 23 June 2015

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. 

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Phoenix ‘Nixy’ Bauer is a leveller, she is paid to drag kids out of a virtual reality known as the MEEP and return them to their parents. When the games developer loses his son in the MEEP and with no one able to retrieve him, he turns to Nixy for help.

Wyn Salvador as far as his suicide note says doesn’t want to be found but when Nixy makes her way through difficult obstacles to retrieve him she realises that he is being kept there against his will and they both have no way of returning home.

One of the first things you notice when you start The Leveller, is Julia Durango certainly knows her gaming – the lingo, the setup etc. was all done very well; despite not being a gamer myself I enjoyed this aspect. The MEEP was explained well, the concept sort of reminded me on Elusion by Claudia Gabel/Cheryl Clam; Gamers are able to remain suspended in a sleep like state in a virtual reality building worlds as an avatar – a relatively new technology.

Nixy was a fun, snarky and likeable character; she was confident and sassy, really well developed. Wyn was an interesting character but not as developed as Wyn, he didn’t have as much page time but what we saw of him I liked.

I enjoyed the detailed virtual world setting, the smidgeon of romance, and the many twists, turns and betrayals – I didn’t know who could be trusted and I was baffled by the reasoning of why Wyn had been held hostage, I enjoyed the overall concept and how it came together.

The writing is engaging and entertaining, the plot was fast paced with many thrilling moments and the world-building was done well, I flew through this book in no time and couldn’t wait to find out what was going on.

Overall, an action packed adventure filled with twists, turns and a betrayal I never saw coming. The romance isn’t at the forefront of the story and the storyline is highly entertaining, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Thank you to HarperTeen via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review The Leveller.



Julia DurangoAbout the author

Julia writes books for kids of all ages in a small town by the Illinois River. Cha-Cha Chimps, her picture book for youngest readers, is a 2014 ILLINOIS READS title. Upcoming books include The Second Guard fantasy series (Disney Hyperion 2015) and her debut YA novel, The Leveller (HarperTeen 2015).

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Review: The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The Summer After You and MeThe Summer After You and Me

Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Series: -
Pages: 320
Publisher/Source: Netgalley/ Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: 1st May 2015
Amazon

Synopsis: Goodreads

Will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?

For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn't just the perfect summer escape, it's home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can't help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.
Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy's summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski appealed to me when I first read the synopsis, it is a young adult contemporary romance about a seaside town on the jersey shore. 

Our MC is Lucia ‘Lucy’, a sweet, kind and compassionate character who lives in the Jersey Shore, the storyline takes place after the events of Super storm Sandy which left much destruction in its wake. Lucy and her friends have a no getting attached rule when it comes to the local tourists or the families who reside there during summer break, but things happened during the storm with her long-term crush and next door neighbour Connor Molloy that she can’t forget despite now dating her best friend, Andrew.

Lucy was a realistic character and maybe I am a tad old for this type of story but I felt she over-reacted in some instances; yes I would be mad about what happened at prom with Andrew but I feel she was looking for an easy way out in some instances rather than facing responsibility. I also felt her friends treatment of her after the prom event was a little too much, her brother Liam was a complete ass – there was too much immaturity and drama at times.

Connor was also a little mysterious, I didn’t like him initially because of his man-whore reputation but I came to enjoy his interactions with Lucy and the way he looked out for her, their shared moments were the parts I really enjoyed, despite having a girlfriend you could see how much he respected Lucy and wanted to make things right.

Lucy’s passion for marine biology was an aspect I enjoyed; I found the paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter to be interesting. I also found the tidbits about the repairs and re-building of the area after the storm to be intriguing; the devastation was heart-breaking and the aftermath and how the residents were dealing was an aspect you don’t often hear about. It wasn’t easy on Lucy’s family and how they were still trying to fix everything as well as keep the money flowing.

The Summer After You and Me was an entertaining read overall and was written well, unfortunately I felt it was a little immature at times and my interest tapered – I think this book also would have benefitted from a prologue and dual POVs.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Summer After You and Me.



Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiAbout the author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of the YA novels, How My Summer Went Up in Flames (Simon Pulse 2013), Famous Last Words (Henry Holt and Co., 2013), which was a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, and the forthcoming The Summer After You and Me (Sourcebooks Fire, May 2015). 

Her first paid writing gig was as an editorial assistant for the North Jersey Herald & News, where, in addition to developing a life-long passion for coffee and news, she wrote obituaries for eight months. She also worked as a speech writer, bank teller, ghostwriter, bookkeeper in a lampshade factory, pet shop clerk, and music zine editor.

She lives with her family in New Jersey and spends her summers “down the shore,” where she dreams of taking surfing lessons and observes sea life while keeping her toes in the sand.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint AnythingSaint Anything

Author: Sarah Dessen
Series: -
Pages: 432
Publisher/Source: Penguin BooksAustralia
Release date: 5th May 2015

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
 

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

Sarah Dessen books tend to be hit or miss for me, for some reason there always seems to be something that I don’t connect with, Saint Anything was a cute read but unfortunately it didn’t wow me or make it to my favourite YA contemporary list.

The story itself is centred on Sydney, a young woman going through a big transitional phase in her life after her brother Peyton is put in prison. She is a likeable character; she blends in never taking the spotlight or wanting attention like her brother did. She is intelligent, brave and smart but she struggles with the fallout of her brothers mistakes.

Saint Anything is a story of longing, self-discovery and friendships. Sydney has had a rough time and her parents are seemingly oblivious to how she is feeling or the seriousness of what her brother did so when she meets siblings Layla and Mac Chantham and their family who run the local pizza shop, she begins to see what true family and friendships are like and how to deal with the everyday problems caused because of her brother/family.

Sydney forms a sweet friendship with Layla and a growing romance with Mac who was an absolute sweetheart, the Chantham family were complete opposite to her own but she fit into their crazy life beautifully. Dessen excels in writing wonderful family dynamics.

All of the side characters were written well, Sydney’s brother Peyton really needs his own book, I found his story interesting and would love a book of redemption for him. Ames was a complete and utter creep! I didn’t understand why Sydney didn’t speak up about this guy, he was odd! I loved Layla, she was a fabulous best friend. Sydney’s relationship with Mac wasn’t at the forefront of the story but was sweet and slow moving.

Sarah Dessen’s writing is wonderful – the themes and message she conveys was done very well and the characters were each interesting, the story-line was engaging and kept me entertained.

Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia for the opportunity to read and review Saint Anything.


Sarah DessenAbout the author (From http://sarahdessen.com/bio/): Hi. I’m Sarah. Writing a bio is always a little weird, if only because it seems completely self-absorbed. I have a standard one that I send out, which lists where I got my degree, the names of my books, all the same boring basic facts. But for this website, I’m supposed to do something more, give a sense of who I really am. So here goes.
The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn’t tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry’s A Summer to Die or Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it’s the best thing to which any writer can aspire. I’ve also been lucky enough to teach writing and see my students find their own voice. Teaching was great for me, because I got to show people how writing can really change the way you see not only yourself but the world. I’ve found in my own life that if my writing isn’t going well, not much else will. It is the one constant, the key to everything else.

Now that I’m writing full time, I have my good days and bad days. But I’d rather be doing this, even on the worst days, than anything else. As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, my daughter, and two very spoiled dogs. I like to work in my garden—although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive—-and, in my weaker moments, shop. What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that’s a good thing. It’s always more fun to make stuff up anyway.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Review: Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Last Year's MistakeLast Year’s Mistake

Author: Gina Ciocca
Series: -
Pages: 256
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: 9th June 2015

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Before:
Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

After:
Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I have been eager to read Last Year’s Mistake since I first glimpsed the cover and read the synopsis, I usually enjoy these types of books but this one has left me conflicted.

Kelsey couldn’t wait to get out of her home-town despite having to leave her best friend David, the opportunity to start afresh away from drama, a misunderstanding and people she no longer considered friends made the move a relatively easy decision. I liked Kelsey but I did have a difficult time understanding her actions. David on the other hand I thought was wonderful and ‘real’ he was popular, loved baseball and the girls adored him.

The characters were at war with one another for the majority of the book, they were supposedly the best of friends and inseparable at one stage but they treated each other terribly; there was a lot of jealousy, angst and unnecessary drama as well as one thing I can’t really handle in books – cheating, I had many issues with a few things that took place, maybe a teen could relate more but I was left shaking my head. I think this book would have appealed to me a lot more if they weren’t in relationships with other characters for a majority of the book, I couldn’t feel or appreciate their attraction or the bond they shared.

The secondary characters weren’t memorable, Kelsey’s boyfriend Ryan was an ass and Violet, David’s girlfriend came across as demanding and high maintenance. The only characters I didn’t mind were the parents and Kelsey’s new best friend – Candy, she was a great support.


Last Year’s Mistake is told from Kelsey’s POV, it would have been the perfect book to have dual POV’s, getting to know David’s thoughts would have helped to understand his actions a lot more. I couldn’t fault Gina Ciocca’s writing which was entertaining but unfortunately, at this time this book wasn’t for me.