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Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Marked – Inara Scott

The Marked
By Inara Scott
Delcroix Academy – Book 2
Available April 2012

There will be spoilers in this review, do not read if you haven’t read The Candidate.


Description:
All of her life, Dancia Lewis has wanted to use her powers for good. And now that she’s learned the truth about Delcroix Academy—and herself—she may just get the chance. But being part of Delcroix’s top secret Program isn’t anything like Dancia expected. She has to ask herself: what happens to the Talented kids who refuse to pledge their loyalty to the Program? And why did her friend Jack run away rather than join? Dancia’s adorable boyfriend Cam insists they need the help of every Talented student to defend Delcroix from dangerous enemies outside their gates. But Dancia has to wonder: what if Delcroix’s most frightening enemies come from within?

 
This Blonde’s Review:
Despite her uncertainty Dancia takes the oath and joins the program. She isn’t sure about the Program but she is sure about Cam. She hopes that after she takes the oath there will be no more secrets and no more uncertainty. She wants to learn how to use her powers to help, not to cause problems.

Life in the Program isn’t any easier for Dancia. Instead of being welcomed in as part of a family she finds more secrets. She has the added complication of not being allowed to tell her best friends anything that is going on. As the lies add up they can easily become a wall that could separate her from her friends if she isn’t careful.

Cam’s friends still don’t trust her, so instead of being welcomed she is treated with suspicion. Her past friendship with Jack and his connection to their current problems don’t help her case. Luckily her relationship with Cam doesn’t depend on his friends’ opinions and they are going strong. Mostly. He still won’t tell her everything and gets upset if she questions the program. When he finds out something about Dancia’s past it may be too much for them.

When Jack shows up and starts trying to change her mind about the Program she finds herself torn. Does she believe that the Program is what she was told or should she believe her friend? As she searches for the truth she will learn things about the people around her she never would have guessed.

I enjoy how real Dancia seems. She has her beliefs and suspicions, but she’s not perfect and allows her feelings for the people in her life to sway her. Luckily she is a strong enough person that she can’t get too far from herself even if she wants to. Cam is a little trickier. I want to like him, because Dancia does and he’s written like a character we should like. But he’s too clean for my taste. He’s a good guy who follows the rules. Sure, he broke the rules with Dancia but that seemed more fluke than a willingness to fight for what he believes. Luckily the author gives me hope that he’s a character I will have a lot more interest in when we see him in the third book.

There are parts of the story that are predictable, but the author doesn’t write those sections like they’re supposed to be secrets from the reader. Dancia is trying to put together a puzzle and asking questions that others never voiced. It’s harder to piece it together if you don’t have all of the pieces, but how can she ask the questions when no one wants to let her in? Watching her try to put it together while juggling the people around her and her training classes make Dancia seem real.

In the end, Dancia has to make some hard decisions. It’s all about whether or not she trusts the people in the Program and if she trusts herself. I won’t tell you who she decides to trust, but I really loved the realizations she came to. It felt perfect to me. It sets us up for a potentially great third book. I can’t wait to see if any of it plays out the way I hope it does.

If you enjoyed the first book you will want to continue reading Dancia’s story. We get to know her better in this one and we can feel closer to other side characters as well, such as Dancia’s amusing grandmother. The author didn’t stop with character building in the first book. I won’t spoil any more for you, I’ll let you find out for yourself.

If you enjoy reading about a girl trying to decide what is right for her and who to trust you’ll enjoy reading about Dancia. If reading about supernatural powers is something you love then Delcroix is the perfect place for you filled with students who can give you exactly what you’re looking for. The only problem is knowing who to trust.

 

Preorder Your Copy:
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Struck – Jennifer Bosworth

Struck
By Jennifer Bosworth
Available 8 May 2012

 
Description:
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

 
This Blonde’s Review:
They say lightening doesn’t strike twice. Mia is proof that is does. Mia has been struck by lightening many times, the lightening seems to seek her out. Instead of being afraid of it she is addicted to the lightening strikes. Every time is different for her, but the one constant is that she wants to feel the energy course through her body.

Mia’s family moved to Los Angeles to escape the lightening. They also moved to escape Mia’s past and the things people knew or thought about her in their old home town. Life isn’t what you’d expect in LA, since the city was destroyed by a massive earthquake. An earthquake some believe was caused by lightening. Mia doesn’t know what to think about the storm that happened the night of the earthquake, but she knows it wasn’t an ordinary storm.

The majority of people who live in LA now live in tents and live desperate lives. Food, clean water, and medication are scarce. Mia’s mother was hurt in the earthquake and has needed medication ever since, so Mia does what she has to to take care of her family. That also includes going to school with her brother. The children of LA attend school for food and they need it to support their family. Once they start back to school strange things start to happen. People Mia knew before have changed drastically. There are also people Mia has never met before who act as though they own the school.

Mia wants nothing to do with any of them. She wants to keep her family safe and avoid the cults. For reasons Mia can’t understand the cults are more than casually interested in her. Of course there is also a guy. She has never seen Jeremy before, but something about him draws her in. He tells her not to trust either group and he knows more about her than she believes is possible. Should she trust him or try to stay out of all of it?

I love Mia’s character. Strong characters who look out for their families first are the kind I love to get to know. She craves lightening but she’s also been damaged by it and has regrets. She has scars all over her body that she attempts to hide. There have been people in her life who have been hurt by her addiction while she always recovered. Mia is strong but wants to escape from that part of her life.

Mia’s little brother is a wonderful contrast to her. He is more sensitive and wants to help everyone, while doesn’t want to get involved. He is looking for answers but she wants to move on. His soft side makes her strength more apparent. Not everyone could hold their family together the way Mia does, even if she doesn’t always make the right decision.

Jeremy is the love interest in this one, but I really couldn’t see it. We don’t know much about him, only that he knows everything about Mia and helps her after she fails to listen to his warnings to avoid bad situations. Without knowing who he is or if he is hiding anything from her, Mia soon falls for Jeremy. There are plenty of reasons this seems like a strange and bad idea. It’s hard to see coming back from that. I do feel that there could have been more solid reasons for them to fall for each other, something to make forgiving the past more understandable. Instead it happens too easily with too little solid information shared.

When Mia finds out why the cults want her she won’t believe it. Despite her ability to survive multiple lightening strikes, the things they tell her don’t seem possible. Regardless of what she believes or how much she doesn’t want to get involved life isn’t that easy for Mia. When she’s forced to choose a side it means more to her than which cult she’ll unwillingly join. It’ll mean everything.

If you enjoy reading about a city in chaos, people who are more than they appear, rival cults battling for what they want, and a girl who holds the answer to how it will all play out sounds appealing to you then pick up Struck in May.

 

Preorder Your Copy:
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Glimmer – Phoebe Kitanidis

Glimmer
By Phoebe Kitanidis
Available 17 April 2012

 
Description:
What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you were?

And what if to discover your true self, you first had to unravel a mystery so big and terrifying you were not sure you’d survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship…but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love—and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.

    
 
This Blonde’s Review:
They wake up naked in each others arms. They have no idea how they got there or who the other is. As they try to figure out who the other is, they soon realize neither of them remember their own names either. With no identification they can find the only thing they can do is go searching for someone to help them. What they soon realize is no one is going to take them seriously. Luckily they find out that her name is Elyse and are taken to her home.

Even without their memories it is clear something strange is happening in Summer Falls. People don’t find their amnesia worrisome and tell them they’ll snap out of it. Everyone is happy and mellow at all times. Bad memories are wiped away somehow, even thing as large as death can disappear from memory. Even a town star can disappear and not be remembered. In addition to all of it, the town is haunted.

Marshall’s magical family background and Elyse’s ability to see the ghosts in town make them the perfect pair. Together they are able to avoid the ghosts and work together to piece together what happened to them. As they discover themselves together they grow into a strong romantic bond where they know each other as well as they know themselves.

The truth isn’t always what we hope it will be, and when Elyse and Marshall discover what happened to them they’re surprised but determined to free themselves and the people they care about.

Reading Glimmer was interesting since we didn’t know anymore more than our characters did. As we alternated viewpoints we were able to see the build up from being suspicious of the other to a bond they didn’t want to break. We are able to take each clue they find and put it together in hopes of figuring out the answer before they do. In some cases we can, but the author does a great job of weaving her story together without giving too much away too soon.

Elyse and Marshall are interesting characters. At times it was hard to decide if I liked them or not. It was fascinating to see the way they became entirely different people without their pasts tying them into certain roles and beliefs. There were things they believed Before and After, but there were many things that were different about them too. Could losing their memories be better for them or would it be something they need to reverse?

If you enjoy reading about characters trying to solve mysteries while they grow into who they want to be, then you’ll like watching Elyse and Marshall do the same. If magic, ghosts, and other unexplained phenomenon sound fascinating to you then you’ll enjoy seeing them navigate Summer Falls and trying to solve the problems that plague the town.

 

Preorder it Now:
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Monstrous Beauty – Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty
By Elizabeth Fama
Available Sept 2012

 
Description:
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse?

With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

 

This Blonde’s Review:
Syrenka is a mermaid. This means she has no soul, is immortal, and has few of the sensitivities of humans. Yet she wants to love more than anything. Her love for Ezra is dangerous for both of them. He could die if she isn’t careful and she could be caught if anyone sees them together. We are able to watch Syrenka’s journey from mermaid to human and then watch the ways she grows into her newly acquired soul. Things happened in the past that have had grave consequences on the present.

Hester refuses to do anything about the feelings she has for her best friend. The women in her family always die after they have their first child, even if the birth goes smoothly. She believes her family has a genetic defect that is undiscovered. She has decided to beat the curse by never falling in love, never having sex, and never having a child.

Then she meets a man named Ezra on the beach. He’s mysterious but something about him draws her and she can’t resist wanting to be closer to him. Through him she starts to consider the idea that maybe her family has been cursed. For a chance to be closer to Ezra she is willing to try to break the curse on her family. What she doesn’t realize is there is more to Ezra than she knows. There is actually more going on in her hometown than she ever imagined possible, and Ezra has more to do with it than she would believe.

Monstrous Beauty is not a typical mermaid story. In this book we are shown the way mermaids really would be, wild and more animalistic than human. They want something and they take it. Syrenka wanted to become human to be with Ezra, but until she was captured and something terrible happened to her, she had never had a good chance before. When she takes that chance she never considered how that action would set them on a path to destruction.

We see Hester and Syrenka’s stories play out in alternating chapters as they draw to simultaneous conclusions. The way the author wrote this was fabulous. There were things that were obvious to any reader, such as the unlikely chances of two men named Ezra being the man these women love. While we knew that Ezra the present must be the ghost of Ezra the past, his character is still curious and fascinating because it isn’t immediately clear how he came to haunt the beach. It’s something I didn’t see coming until it was happening.

Our book isn’t full of perfect characters fighting for their perfect love. We have characters who can be loving, selfish, even violent and vengeful if pushed. The characters felt complex, like we can’t love or hate them. They are people whose stories we should care about regardless of their imperfections.

I heard great things about this story and I really enjoyed this one. I loved that even with the parts of the story that were predictable, the author didn’t give away too much too soon. There were several things she waited until later to give just enough to make us know what was going on without giving our characters the knowledge. Other things she never shared until it was happening and we discovered along with our characters. Too often we have stories where the author gives too much away too soon. I was fully engaged in this story until the end.

Elizabeth Fama managed to write a strong book with many things happening at once that all fit together without confusing us. The characters are genuine and realistic enough to have fatal flaws. If you enjoy reading reading about mermaids the way they would really be instead of the Little Mermaid, then you’ll want to read about Syrenka. If you’d like to read about a woman who changed the course of several generations and the girl who can fix her mistakes, then you’ll want to read Syrenka and Hester’s story.

 

Preorder your copy:
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In Too Deep – Amanda Grace

In Too Deep
By Amanda Grace
(aka Mandy Hubbard)
Available Today
Description:
I never meant for anyone to get hurt. All I wanted to do that night was make a play for Carter Wellesley. His heartless rejection was mortifying, but people got the wrong idea when they saw me leaving his bedroom, crying. That’s how rumors of rape started.

Now girls at school are pouring out their sympathy to me. Guys too. But not everyone’s on my side. The school has become a war zone and the threats are getting scary. What began as poetic justice has morphed into something bigger–forcing me to make a terrible choice.
This Blonde’s Review:
In many ways Sam is a stereotypical teenage girl who isn’t confident enough to be herself. Sam is in love with her best friend, but he has an off and on girlfriend. Rather than deal with her situation as it is, Sam chooses to dress seductively in hopes of hooking up with the school’s golden boy. She hopes that the flirtatious and newly single Carter will be interested in her new look and that it will also make her best friend jealous enough to see what he’s been missing.

Her plans don’t work out like she hopes. Sam finds herself drunk and unsteady when Carter turns her down insultingly. When she leaves the room crying and looking disheveled another girl asks her if what she thinks happened Did. Sam thinks it’s obvious that the she was drunk and tried to hit on a guy only to be turned down. She doesn’t realize what the girl really thinks until much later.

Luckily for Sam, her best friend shares her feelings and they become a couple that weekend. Since they spent the weekend in new couple bliss neither of them are aware of the rumors spreading about Sam and Carter. At school Sam believes everyone knows that Carter turned her down and insulted her, so she tries to ignore the stares and whispers. When girls ask her if it’s true she confirms what she believes they’re asking.

It isn’t until much later in the day that Sam discovers what everyone believes happened to her. Sam has always been the girl who will take the easier route rather than confronting a problem, so she decides to leave it for the day and figure out the answer tomorrow.

Except Sam’s pattern of avoiding the hard stuff doesn’t change overnight and she soon finds herself getting deeper than she intended. She may not have started to rumor and she may not have known what she was confirming at first, but before long she can’t use that as protection. Soon she is lying by allowing people to believe it and then by leading them to believe it, with the encouragement of others at times.

Sam’s primary fear is how her boyfriend will react. She knows that as time goes on it will be harder to make him understand. She starts looking for a way to have it all, but is that really possible by the time everyone chooses sides?

I really enjoyed this story. Sam is a flawed character but we can still care about her and want her to be happy. She has difficulties at home with an overprotective father, but she isn’t mistreated either. Sam has supportive people around her and she could have come clean at any time, but instead she allows it to build until it becomes harder to forgive. This story feels like it could be written true to life if a situation like this occurred. I prefer books that feel like they could be real and give us a glimpse of what could happen and make us think about how we’d react.

The way this book ended feels perfect. Sam is forced to grow up and recognize who she is and what she is willing to allow happen around her. She also has to accept the consequences of her actions and figure out if she’ll get to keep her best friend or not.

If you enjoy reading about characters who have to learn how to stand up even when it’s hard appeals to you then Sam is a character you’ll want to know. This is a story that will show you how that girl learns to be strong enough to deal with a misunderstanding of life changing proportions.

 

Dead To You – Lisa McMann

Dead To You
By Lisa McMann
Available Now

Description:
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It’s a miracle… at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn’t going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together. But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable…

 

This Blonde’s Review:
Ethan was abducted from in front of his house when he was 7 years old. He chose to get in the car with strangers, but he was taken and never seen again. Until the day a 16 year old boy contacts authorities saying he believes he is Ethan.

His age is right, his description fits what Ethan should look like, and he says he’s Ethan. He recognizes his family, but doesn’t mention everything he remembers comes from the family website. He can’t remember how he wound up with the woman he called his mother, nor can he explain why he feels the need to protect her by not giving her true name. As he struggles to fit into his new family there are things that come to the surface that are unsettling. We learn that he was raised by a drug addict who left him alone often as a child until he was abandoned. As his little brother begins to suspect Ethan can’t be who he says he is life gets more difficult for him. He can’t explain why he doesn’t remember anything from his life before he was taken. He has no excuse for why he got into the car that day instead of running away. All Ethan knows is that he wants his family to love him and he wants to be left in peace to find his way. But there is more to the story than anyone knows, even Ethan.

I really enjoyed reading Ethan’s story. We learn about Ethan a little at a time, nothing is revealed too quickly and it can be hard to decide where Lisa McMann is going to take this story. What will happen to prove who Ethan is? Will Ethan snap before they find the truth? I found myself believing I knew what had happened and what was coming next only to find myself doubting and changing my opinion often. Lisa McMann is the kind of author who will give you a good story instead of what you may want or expect to read. Knowing she won’t be predictable makes it harder to know what will happen at the end. Dead To You did feel a little slow in places, but this isn’t a story to fly through. This is a story to feel. We have to feel the hope, the confusion, and the tension. We need to feel the slow build from jealously to suspicion. We need to see when Ethan starts to care and when he starts to fall apart.

If you enjoy reading books that make you feel what the characters feel and won’t give you the easy storyline, then you’ll love Dead To You. Lisa McMann fans will not want to miss this one, she has not disappointed us.

 

Fear – Michael Grant

Fear
By Michael Grant
Gone – Book 5
Available April 2012

Have you read the first four books? Beware that there are spoilers, though I will attempt to keep them to a minimum. And be sure to check out the poll at the bottom of the review!

Description:
Night is falling in the FAYZ. Even though it’s been nearly a year since everyone over the age of fifteen disappeared, the sun has continued to shine on the kids of Perdido Beach. Now, though, the gaiaphage has blotted out the sun and plunged the FAYZ into perpetual gloom. Divided and dispirited, the survivors face their greatest enemy yet – the darkness of their own minds…

This Blonde’s Review:
It’s been a year since the youth of Peridido Beach were left on their own. They’ve learned to live with the powers some of them possess. They’ve learned to feed themselves and maintain order. They have learned to survive. They may have split into two groups, but they are surviving and thriving. Until the wall that has closed them in starts to go dark. Without light they can’t grow food. In the dark they can’t see the monsters that will be coming for them. There is much to fear in the dark when you live in the Fayz.

Fear gives us a chance for the kind of further character development I didn’t expect to see after the fast pace of the previous books. If you’ve read the first books in these series you have come to know many of our characters and you’ve formed opinions about them. We have characters we love and characters we love to hate. The dark brings out the insecurities and strengths they weren’t aware they possessed and we start to learn new things about them.

In the previous books in this series our characters have been in danger from each other and from outside sources at every turn. It’s a different kind of fear than what they feel with the internal struggle they face in this book. At first glance it may be hard to see why these fears bring out so much in our characters, but the slower pace gives them time to decide what kind of person they are instead of simply reacting. Panic and fear change us, when it slowly looms over us we are tested in ways split second survival doesn’t. I loved that Grant has given us this other side to explore as we watch Sam and the others try to manage.

Fear isn’t a slow book by any means, with all of the characters we are exploring and the dangers in each part of the Fayz we have plenty to watch out for. Michael Grant does such a great job with this story that juggling characters and the different threats they face is not at all confusing. The character voices are very distinct, you feel like you know these characters and can feel proud or offended when they act out of character. We become a part of this world and it is easy to see multiple threats happening across the Fayz at the same time without it feeling busy. He writes this story like this is a world we want to become immersed in while thankful for the safety of our own homes.

I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this book. With each book in this series I have found myself putting off dinner time and bedtime for the sake of finishing one more chapter or five. I am not usually a fan of series books that extend past four books, but with the Gone series I find myself eagerly anticipating the sixth book.

If you’ve read the first 4 books in this series then you will not be disappointed in Fear. I know you’re eagerly waiting for your copy and looking around for hints about what will happen in the next one. I have to warn you, it’ll make you crazy for the next book in this series. I’m already trying to figure out how to get my hands on an advance copy.

If you aren’t familiar with the Gone series you should look into getting a copy of Gone, the first book. If you enjoy reading about a world where kids suddenly find themselves alone, in danger, and developing powers they never believed possible then you’ll enjoy getting to know Sam, Caine, and the rest of the kids of Perdido Beach. This series is wonderful for readers who enjoy being drawn into a world where we expect to know many characters and situations. The Gone series is one I enjoy recommending to friends and Fear is a book that is the perfect addition to their story.


Be sure to enter my giveaway for Fear!
The giveaway is over on March 30, 2012 and the winner will be announced on the 31st!


If you want to buy a copy instead of waiting for a potential giveaway::

Preorder Fear :: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Catch up on the rest of the series ::
Gone (1) : Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Hunger (2) : Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Lies (3) : Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Plague (4) : Amazon | Barnes & Noble