Blood Promise - Richelle Mead


Blood Promise is the fourth installment of the Vampire Academy series.  Rose has made her decision and this time we follow her off school grounds on her journey to find her beloved Dimitri, leaving her best friend Lissa behind. She travels all the way to Siberia in hopes of finding him but is she strong enough to follow through with the mission she has set out to complete?


I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to the series.  It centers around Rose but because of her unique bond with Lissa we are able to see what is going on back at the academy.  Lissa usually tries so hard to be the "good girl" pleasing everyone but she basically spirals out of control without Rose around to take care of her.  It's sad really but in previous books where she was boring, in  this one her drunken antics and failure to deal with her loss is a little obnoxious.  I wish she could've found a better way to deal with her grief. However, I can say I have finally begun to gain some respect for her abilities but not necessarily for her character.  Without Rose, she is completely worthless.  


Despite my issues with Lissa, this is a great story! We are introduced to many new characters and get more insight into the bond between her and Lissa along with Dimitri's past. Rose is continuing to grow as a person and is learning more and more about herself, which is wonderful and at the same time tough.  As a reader, I feel for her and believe that she is a very relate-able character especially since most people know what it's like to feel love and guilt.  If you've already read the book, then you'll know what I mean by this next statement.  I think she spent a little too much time in the dazed state where she is just not quite herself.  It dragged on a little too long.  This doesn't change the fact that she is the best character of the entire series.  As with previous books, the ending is absolutely amazing! It isn't quite as shocking as the last two but the twist at the end still gives me hope.


I'm very anxious to get my hands on the next installment.  I can't wait to see what happens next.


4.5 out of 5 STARS

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Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead


As the midway point through the Vampire Academy series, Shadow Kiss starts a few weeks after Rose kills her first Strigoi and is witness to the shocking death of a fellow comrade.  Since these traumatic events, she hasn't felt right and to top it off she may be seeing ghosts!  Her best friend Lissa has decided to stop taking her meds and experiment with her unique magic.  Old enemy, Victor Dashkov, may be getting off the hook for the crimes he committed.  As if things couldn't get worse, her and Dimitri's forbidden love affair is heating up once more.  An unanticipated threat may force Rose to choose between the two people she loves most: her best friend and the love of her life.

I really love these books and they keep on getting better and better!  This one is definitely darker than the previous books because Rose is dealing with the death of Mason and learning more about her bond with Lissa. Rose is still the sassy, strong young lady that we have fallen in love with but her growth is very apparent.  One of the things that I liked most about this book is that Rose begins to question whether or not she wants to follow the path of being the guardian she has trained her whole life to be.  She may not want to spend her life protecting Lissa in the shadows while sacrificing her own personal happiness.   I'm still not very impressed with Lissa.  I think that she has potential but she is not quite there yet for me.  I find her extremely annoying.  She is definitely not a memorable character in the least.  On the other hand, there's the Rose and Dimitri saga.  I like Dimitri and how he tries to repress and deny his feelings for Rose.  Things get really hot between the two! I don't want to give anything away so I will leave it at that. 


At first, I didn't know how Adrian would fit in to these books.  Honestly, I didn't think that I would like him and I thought that he would be a creep.  Now, I see that despite his flaws I actually do kind of really like him.  I like that he is a spirit user and it is evident that he does genuinely care about Rose.  Part of me would like to see her try to be with him but a bigger part of me knows that it wouldn't be right.  Ultimately, Rose belongs with Dimitri.  


  Ultimately, this book left me at the edge of my seat and pretty heartbroken.  This is definitely the best book in this series so far and I have to imagine that it will only get better from here. The ending is definitely another shocker that leaves the reader dying to get their hands on the next one!! Needless to say, I will own this series.


5 out of 5 STARS

There are some people who are disgruntled about the age difference between Dimitri and Rose.  Personally, I don't think it's a big deal nor do I think that it sends teens the wrong message because the age group these books are meant for should know and understand that this is a work of fiction. Not to mention I think a situation such as this rarely happens in the realm of reality. This book is meant for YOUNG ADULTS so parents should monitor what their younger more impressionable kids are reading and not take fiction so seriously. 



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Black and White - Malorie Blackman

NOTE: The other name for this series is Naughts and Crosses. 


Sephy and Callum. One is a Naught while the other is a Cross.  They are childhood friends who have grown to love one another in a way that is not acceptable in their society.  It's simple: Naughts and Crosses do not mix. They desperately want to be with each other but first they must fight against the world and possibly even risk their lives for a forbidden love.  


This was an amazing book!  I don't want to take away any elements of surprise for the readers who have not yet read this one.  This is more than just a tragic love story.  Both of the main characters start off innocent and unaware of the hatred present in their society.  It is very relevant to the world as we know it and really made me think about the what ifs. Some people are more well off than others and some unfortunately are forced to grow up earlier in life.  This book shows that we should not judge people and also that your experiences shape who you are as a person. I was inspired to pay attention to how people around me stereotype others.   The author did a very good job tackling racism in a new  and different way.  


From the moment I started this book, it hooked me in and I never wanted to put it down.  All readers could relate to either one of the characters.  The story itself was very powerful and thought-provoking.  There were shocking twists and turns that kept me reading for hours.  I was very saddened by this book and almost brought to tears, but I loved it nonetheless.  It shows a hard, terrible, and unfortunate truth.  I loved that I was able to feel what the characters were going through.  People really need to look past the color of ones skin because we are all the made the same on the inside.  This is only the first in a trilogy  and needless to say I can't wait to get my hands on the next one (Knife Edge)


5 out of 5 STARS

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The Last Olympian - Rick Riordan

Everything that has happened up to this point, has been building up to this book.  All of the demigods and their allies have been preparing, as  best they can, for the final showdown with Kronos.  The prophesy has been revealed and Percy has some life-altering decisions to make.  Kronos' army is stronger than ever and they know their chances of defeating him are slim, especially with the Ares cabin refusing to fight.  In addition, there is a mole within the group feeding information directly back to Kronos! The gods are busy fighting the titan Typhon who is rampaging across the country headed for Mount Olympus while Poseidon is fighting another titan Oceanus.  Our favorite group of heroes are on their own to stop the titan god of time in the conclusion to this epic story. 


Sadly, this marks the end of the Percy Jackson series.  Let me just say, this has quickly become one of my favorites!  From beginning to end, the books got increasingly good.  Despite minor complaints, this is a great story that anyone can enjoy: young and old alike.  From the first chapter and throughout, there was not a dull moment in this book.  You got action from beginning to end.  I know we are used to some comedic relief or banter between the main characters but there really wasn't any room for that in this book.  No complaints here because that definitely should be expected with a war raging and the possibility of the world ending based on the actions of a group of teenagers.  More people die and I was at the edge of my seat hoping that all of the main characters survive.  I liked the way the story unfolded and the wrap up left me feeling like reading this the whole series was totally worth it.  


If I had one complaint it would be that the battle seemed to be a bit choppy.  They would start fighting and stop and start again.  My one and only wish is that the fighting would have been a little more smoother.  That being said, I understand why it had to be broken up that way as well as it can't be expected for them to fight non-stop without at least taking a break to tend to the wounded.  Still, it felt a little choppy.  There was a couple of nice twists at the end, some of which I saw coming while others were a good surprise.  I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes young adult and even adults too! 


There is a teaser at the very end alluding to another series he is doing set in the same world but around different characters.  No doubt I plan on reading that one too. 


5 out of 5 STARS

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Frostbite - Richelle Mead


This is the second book in the Vampire Academy series.  Rose is witness to the aftermath of a terrible Strigoi attack and news of this attack spreads quickly.  To keep the students at St. Vladimir's safe, everyone is sent to a ski resort for Christmas break instead of staying on school grounds.  The vampire community is on high alert and tempers are flaring over the debate on whether or not Moroi should be allowed to use their powers and fight alongside dhampirs.  When Rose tells a group of her friends that there may be a group of Strigoi nearby, she finds herself in a jam when they decide to go after them on their own.  It is up to her and an unlikely friend to go after them and bring them back before they get themselves killed.   


Again, I must say that this series has surprised me.  Once I started reading, it didn't  take me long to finish!  Everyone's favorite character is Rose Hathaway and for good reason! It was so nice to see Rose get down and dirty and kick some serious butt!  I really liked that she had the opportunity to be an unlikely voice of reason though the situation was brought on by her own foolishness. It was nice to get closer to Rose as she has to deal with some life changing events.  She is tough enough to hang with the guys but underneath it all she's kind hearted and willing to risk her own life to help others.  We are introduced to Rose's mother, Janine Hathaway.  I think the interactions between the two was done very well and seemed realistic.  It's not surprising  that there are a lot of similarities between the two.  I also like the uniqueness of the bond that she and Lissa share.  It's a little odd that it's only one way but for the story, it works.  As far as Lissa goes, she is okay but she has a long way to go to convince me that she isn't just another helpless Moroi.  Her ability to control spirit is neat and I hope it is explored further in the next  book; otherwise what would be the point of her having it?  She and Christian's relationship is cute and almost too perfect.  Though, I like Christian (possibly more than Lissa), their relationship wasn't all that interesting, in fact,  it was more entertaining to see him interact with the other characters. 


I LOVE how Rose acts when she is around Dimitri, especially after what happened at the end of the last book.  There is this sort of weird, awkward, sexual tension that was great to see.  Rose, however, does get annoying at times because she shows that she is young needs more time to mature.  In addition to Mason, Adrian Ivashkov was a nice monkey wrench thrown in there trying to steal some attention from our heroine.  However, I think her heart is with Dimitri despite all the distractions.  


 I enjoyed the plot of this one, though nothing much happens until about midway to the end.  The ending however is a huge shocker and I think readers will be blind-sighted by it.  The second  book was worth reading for the Rose/Dimitri drama and for the ending.  So far this series has proved to be much better than anyone could have expected.  It's a great balance of action and romance, with interesting characters who get themselves into a whole lot of trouble. If you like this genre of books then trust me you'll be hooked.  

I must address how stupid all the covers are in this series.  This series is too good for people to be deterred from reading it simply because the cover looks dumb. 

4 out of 5 STARS

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Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead


Rose Hathaway is a dhampir- meaning that she is half vampire and half human.  The Vampire Academy is a secluded school designed to protect and teach the Moroi to learn how to control their magic and dhampirs the skills they need to protect them from the evil red-eyed Strigoi vampires.  Fear that they are in danger, Rose and Lissa have been on the run for two years and have finally been caught and dragged back to the academy.  They, once again, have to face their peers and deal with the drama of social politics.  Is Rose strong enough to keep Lissa safe behind the school walls?

Rose Hathaway is the strong female lead.  She is a straightforward, blunt, a bit sarcastic but is willing to go to extraordinary lengths for those she cares about.  It's hard not to like Rose; she says things that most people are too afraid to say and stands up for what she believes.  Her best friend Lissa, on the other hand, is timid, shy, and smart.  She is the complete opposite of Rose and her character was bit flat at times.  Her worry about a lot of things got slightly annoying and it was obvious that she was dealing with some depression issues. However, it was nice to see she had a dark side and her behavior is justified with the things that she went though.  And who can forget Dimitri?  A hot teacher whose reputation proceeds him.  He is the strong , silent type who genuinely wants to do the right thing.   It's no surprise that Rose is falling for him though it's against the rules.

One of the lessons I learned was "You can't judge a book by it's cover."  I thought this book was going to suck not only because of the cover but also because of the title.  I thought it was going to be a lame Harry Potter wannabe with a vampy twist.  I will be the first to admit that I was very wrong!  I absolutely loved all the characters, especially Rose.  This story is new and original; it had me hooked from the beginning.  The story was fast paced with some nice twists.  There is no doubt about whether I will be reading the next installment to this series.   
PS - the chick on the cover looks like Angeline Jolie


4 out of 5 STARS

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The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan


As this series draws closer to the end, we follow our friends, Percy and Annabeth, on a dangerous journey through the Labyrinth.  Annabeth gets to take charge and lead her own mission.  She chooses Percy, Grover, and Tyson as her companions. They have to find Daedalus to get Ariadne's string before Luke does and navigate through the labyrinth that could potentially drive them all insane.  Meanwhile, minor gods and demigods alike are joining forces with Kronos and people are already dying in a war that has only just started.  Things get a little messy as Rachael Elizabeth Dare is reintroduced and poor Percy doesn't quite know why Annabeth and Rachael are butting heads.  Percy, Annabeth, and Rachael must work together to stop Kronos from taking over Camp Half-Blood. 

I was a little worried after reading the last book but this one made it all worth it. There was a lot of developments along with heart pounding action.  This book had the potential to get really confusing since so much does happen but it was very easy to follow. One of the things I really enjoy about this series is how the relationships between Percy and the other characters develop.  I love the comedic banter and I can see Percy as a somewhat normal, clueless teenage boy.  The tension between Annabeth and Rachael is pretty funny.  I liked that we got to delve deeper into the plot and that it has gotten darker and a little more serious.   This book is now my favorite book in the series and I cannot wait to get my hands on the final installment!! 


5 out of 5 STARS

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Planning A Return

This year has turned out way differently than I expected it to.  So much has changed and I can honestly say that my life is completely different now than when the year first started.  I went through a break-up ... those are never easy ... but I am recovering and slowing rediscovering myself again. I got into a really bad car accident ... completely totaled my car  and still saving for a new one -- I am grateful to be alive and well . Surprisingly, despite being rushed to the hospital, I walked away from the accident with a little bruising and minor scrapes.  Went from living with my ex-boyfriend to living by myself to planning on living with a roommate to living back home with my mom (temporarily)  On a bright side, the year had lots of ups ... I reconnected with a bunch of old friends and met lots of new people in the process- some of which have become very close friends.  Realizing that I'm still young has lead me to partying till all hours of the night, being more spontaneous, and learning to love myself.  To some it all up, this has been one of the best and worse years of my life!!


Books ... Oh how I haven't forgotten you!! (after all this is a blog dedicated to books)  Amidst all the action of my life I have found time to read.  As of today, the first of December, I have officially completed 43 books and reviewed 36 of them here.  This was my first time attempting a book challenge and it is becoming clearer and clearer that I won't be completing either one.  I guess I was a little too ambitious but I will be trying again next year!!  Considering all my life experiences, I am still very proud of myself.  I have successfully achieved one of my goals which was to consistently read throughout the year. In 2010, I broke out of that post-winter funk that I always tend to get into and that has made starting this blog worth it!  

Happy Reading!! ♥ Sunshine


PS. There are seven books that I have read but not reviewed. (still added to the list of books for the challenges in the sidebar)  I will do my best to post reviews of them but no guarantees. 

The Van Alen Legacy - Melissa De La Cruz

The fourth book of the Blue Bloods series continues with Schuyler and Oliver on the run from the conclave.  They insist that it is Schuyler who is behind the death of Laurence. In another part of the world, Mimi and Kingsley are teamed up working to find "The Watcher" aka Jordan.  Bliss, still in New York, is desperately fighting against "The Visitor" for control of her body. Everyone is on edge after the previous attack of the Silver Bloods and they are sure to strike again.  Relationships woes don't stay on the back burner for too long.  Although Schuyler has made her choice, Oliver over Jack, was it the right one? As the saying goes, old loves die hard, and someone you may least expect is also beginning to have doubts.  


Out of all the books, this one was the quickest read and the most fast pace.  It is also the first one in which each chapter they switch between the three perspectives of Schuyler, Mimi, and Bliss.  I really enjoyed getting to see all three sides and the fact that they were all in different parts of the world. The plot is starting to get more and more complicated and intricate with the threat of the Morningstar (aka "the visitor) and the Silver Bloods.  Also, with the inner turmoils of the young Blue Bloods themselves.  I felt like this one was a great balance of their personal relationships as well as the plot moving forward. 


I was glad that the reader was finally introduced to certain characters and the writing evoked a lot of emotions towards them.  As much as we love to hate Mimi, in this one, you really get to know her and understand her.  Maybe, she isn't as cold-hearted as we all would like to think.  I also really liked getting to know Bliss too.  Originally, I didn't think she was one of the smartest people.  Now, we see how strong she has become and how much of fighter she can be.  She isn't as dumb as I thought she was and I was glad that she was able to put some important pieces of the puzzle together all by herself.  Great character development and the plot twists in this book! 


I have enjoyed this series up to this point and I am very anxious to get my hands on the next one: Misguided Angels.  When I first started this series, I didn't think it would actually get this good.  I guess with all good things come patience.  I love how all the characters have evolved and we have learned so much about them and their pasts.  The major thing is there is less focus on the fashion and more focus on the plot and for that I am extremely grateful. 


5 out of 5 STARS

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Specials - Scott Westerfeld


Special Circumstances used to be a rumor that no one believed in but Tally Youngblood knows the truth: It is very real and they are recruiting. In what was supposed to be the ending to a trilogy, Tally is forced to become a special.  She gets another operation that makes her the perfect killing machine and finds herself working for the same people that she was once against. When she gets an assignment to eliminate the New Smoke, she is conflicted with resurfacing memories.  Will she once again fight alongside the people of the Smoke or carry out the mission she is programed to do? Either way, her final decision changes the world as she knows it. 


This is actually my favorite book in the series.  I really enjoyed the "special" point of view.  It was definitely an improvement from the pretty perspective.  Her change from being a pretty to a special was much more difficult than her change from ugly to pretty.  She is programed to think she is better than everyone else and gains new abilities like crystal clear vision and stronger muscle. In each book, she is the one who is different and can think her own way out of the effects of the operation.  She struggled more with holding on to past memories and feelings and really what is left of her humanity. I was a little disappointed that some of the events were predictable as there were some reoccurring themes, for example, what helps her to remember herself is being alone in the wild. 


Like the first book, Tally is alone for most of her journey to rediscovering herself post-operation.  The only other important people are Shay and Zane.  I like how her friendship with Shay fluctuates from good to bad throughout the series.  I'm glad that she was present more in this book but I still wish the reader was able to know a little more about her.  I also enjoyed how the roles were somewhat reversed between them and Shay was more susceptible to the idea of being cured than Tally and it reminded me of why I liked her in the first book.  Zane. on the other hand, was hardly present but had an indirect role in helping Tally along on her quest. I am disappointed at how characters that were important in the previous books are hardly mentioned, mainly David and Zane.   .  


In other reviews I've read for this book, I noticed that a lot of people had problems with the Cutters.  I do not condone cutting oneself but, as an adult reader, I did not have a problem with it being apart of this book.  The issue was resolved subtly; they realize, after being "cured" that they didn't need to cut themselves to feel "icy." Not to mention, Zane and David did show their disgust toward it.  


Overall, I liked the series once I actually sat down and got into the  books.  I liked the ideas and I think they were presented well.  I enjoyed the ending, though it could have been better,  but not enough to continue to read on to the next book (Extras), especially since Tally is not the main character.  The author should have kept the series a trilogy and come up with a better ending.  There is a slight possibility that I will revisit this series again in the future, but only if I have nothing better to do with my time. 


3.5 out of 5 STARS

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Pretties - Scott Westerfeld



Tally Youngblood is back again and has finally become a pretty.  It feels like all her dreams have come true. She is pretty, popular, and has a hot new boyfriend.   However, she can't shake the feeling that something is not right.  When uglies crash a party, Tally is delivered a message from her old friends in The New Smoke.  After reading the letter she wrote to herself as an ugly, she re-discovers the truth about being pretty.  Now she must decide if she wants to forget the truth and live as a bubblehead forever, or go for round two against Special Circumstances.

For this to be the middle book of a trilogy, it was just okay.  Initially, seeing the world from Tally's pretty perspective seemed interesting but it was everything I expected it to be.  I 
thought the pretty jargon was cute, at first, then it became a little annoying. Pretties are simple beings who only care about fashion, drinking, and partying.  I was disappointed that this story became predictable. It may have been better to present the different perspectives (uglies, pretties, and specials) using a different main character.  However, I do like Tally.  She is a likable character and I liked her struggle against being pretty minded. She really cares about her friends and is willing to do anything to remain in their good graces.   


Pretties had some good moments but it definitely wasn't as good as Uglies, though I was relieved there wasn't an underlying message in this one.  I am interested in reading from a specials point of view; I just hope it's more interesting than the pretty perspective.   


3 out of 5 STARS

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Uglies - Scott Westerfeld


Tally Youngblood, resident of Uglyville, can't wait to turn sixteen.  In her world, your sixteenth birthday marks the day that you will get an operation to turn you pretty.  Once pretty, you move to New Pretty Town where you meet up with old friends  (now also pretty) party and have a good time all the time.  After her best friend, Peris, is turned she impatiently counts down the days to when it will be her turn and they can finally be re-united.  In the meantime, things change when she meets fellow ugly, Shay.  They quickly become besties but Shay questions whether or not she really wants to be turned pretty and decides to risk life on the outside.  After Shay runs away, the authorities give her an ultimatum: find her friend and turn her in or never turn pretty.  Her adventure and the choices she makes changes her world forever.  


Based on the description of this book, I didn't think I would like it at all.  Nonetheless, I figured I'd at least try and admittedly I had a hard time getting into the story at first.  I am surprised to say that I enjoyed this book and its originality. The world this story takes place in is really interesting.  Everyone is classified by their age.  You are a littlie and live with your parents until the age of twelve.  Ages twelve until your sixteenth birthday you are an ugly.  After turning pretty, there are two more stages that are briefly discussed but I think they are middle pretty and late pretty.  What you can and cannot do depends on your age. 


 At first, I hated Tally despite the fact that she couldn't help her shallowness and inability to think differently.  However, as the story progressed she became much more likable and my favorite character.  I really enjoyed seeing her grow as a person and discover the truth about her world. Shay was fun at first but as the story continued she didn't seem to grow as much as I thought she would.  I am planning on reading the next installment and really hope that Peris becomes more involved in the story.  


I did notice that there is a clear message in the book about the meaning of beauty.  It tackles inner beauty versus outer beauty and learning to accept yourself.  The society in which Tally is from has a set idea of beauty and that idea is instilled in them from birth.  It is common practice for uglies to use insulting names to refer to one another, sound familiar? Basically, you are not pretty unless you look a certain way and have an operation.  If everyone looks the same, what happens to individuality? It is great to realize that sometimes our flaws are what makes us beautiful and unique.  Even though this story takes place in the future, it directly correlates to our society and I think it is a great message for youngsters. I would definitely recommend this book to pre-teens and teens alike. 


4 out of 5 STARS

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan

The Titan's Curse continues with Thalia, daughter of Zeus, joining our gang of characters after being healed by the Golden Fleece that now protects Camp Half-Blood.  Grover needs help bringing back two new half-bloods so Percy, Annabeth, and Thalia go to help.  The mission turns out to be much more difficult than our heroes could have imagined.  They run straight into a trap in which Annabeth disappears and Artemis is kidnapped trying to rescue her.  Percy, Grover, and Thalia must find a way to save the goddess and their friend before the gods meet on the day of the winter solstice.  In addition, they also have to find out what the Titan's Curse is and how to defeat a monster so powerful it could destroy Olympus.  


The Titan's Curse was generally a good book.  It was only slighter better than the Sea of Monsters for me.  I liked the dynamic between Thalia and Percy.  Their struggle for the leadership role added some much needed humor.  I also liked the presence of Artemis' huntresses because it gave more diversity to main cast.  I always enjoy seeing how the myths are played out in the context of the story.  However, the main plot was at a standstill instead of moving forward.   It seems, this book was just an in between adventure to introduce readers to characters that may become more important later in the series.  The story itself was enjoyable and I would say it was not a waste of my time.  I was glad to finally be introduced to the gods Aphrodite, Atlas, Artemis, Apollo, and especially Athena.  


I have noticed some similarities happening in plot of each book of this series.  Percy always has to find something and bring it back by a certain deadline. (Book 1 - Zeus' master lightning bolt Book 2- the golden fleece and book 3- the orphiotaurus)  Percy has to save someone important to him. (Book 1- his mother  Book 2- Grover Book 3- Annabeth) Not to say there aren't any twists, because there are but in some ways it is becoming predictable. Despite the monotonous plot, the book is still written in a way that holds your attention.  It did bother me that it took so long for them to figure out the "god" parent of the two new half-bloods because it was completely obvious to the reader long before the main characters figured it out.  It is the same complaint that I had from the Lightning Thief, why did it take so long to figure out that Percy was the son of Posiden when the signs were so straight forward.  


Despite all the complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the ending.  I loved ending twist with Atlas and how Percy was able to withstand the Titan's Curse.  I also liked how, with Thalia and Nico in the picture,  Percy is no longer the only person that could fulfill the prophecy about the child of a big three god bringing the demise of Olympus.  I do plan on reading the next book with the hopes of it being much better than these last two. 




3.5 out of 4 STARS

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Love the One You're With - Emily Giffin

Ellen is happily and newly married to the perfect man. Andy is funny, hansom, wealthy, and most of all is madly, deeply in love with her.  But, before Andy there was Leo.  Also hansom, and the ex-love-of-her-life!  Their chance meeting in an intersection stirs up many past memories causing Ellen to question her perfect life.  Doubt creeps in as Leo tries to re-kindle the flame.  Ultimately, Ellen has to make the biggest decision of her life: stay with her husband or give her first love another try.  


Another great audiobook from the library! I was worried about whether or not I would like this book since I hated Something Blue, my first Giffin novel. I'm glad I gave her another chance.  Ellen is easily a character who the reader can relate to.  As I was listening, it felt like I was listening to a girlfriend or something that has happened to someone I know.  All women can remember their first love or wonders what could have been if things had been different.  Even though she made some choices that I would normally call stupid, I found myself curious and on her side throughout the entire book. After all, we are all human and we all make mistakes, most are with the best intentions and some are understandably in the name of love.  Through Ellen's eyes, I fell in love with both Andy and Leo for different reasons.  I liked that despite her final decision, there was the possibility that things wouldn't end up perfect for her.  I didn't mind it but parts of it was a little cliche. Overall, I really enjoyed it from beginning to end and it is definitely possible that I will revisit this one sometime in the future.  


4 out of 5 STARS

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Something Blue - Emily Giffin

Darcy is a privileged woman who loves shopping and expensive things.  She is engaged to be married to her long time boyfriend Dex.  She has an affair with one of Dex's groomsmen, Marcus.  Eventually the engagement is called off. She confides her secret to her best friend Rachael only to discover her now ex-finance half naked in the closet.   Pissed, she vows never to talk to either of them again.  To make matters worse, she becomes pregnant with Marcus' baby and soon after he dumps her.  Down on her luck she relocates to London to live with her childhood friend Ethan, until she can get her life back on track.


This is a follow-up to another book called Something Borrowed.  I did not know this until after I had finished reading the book.  Maybe, if I had read that, then I would have liked this book a little more. Based on the description, my expectations were high and afterward I was disappointed.  Darcy is such an annoying character and I wish that her transformation was quicker.  She wined and moaned and complained and obsessed over Rachael and Dex for 20 chapters!! She reminds me of a girl in high school being dumped for the first time and she is supposed to be 30 years old? Although Marcus was a jerk, I can understand why he broke up with her.  The ending was extremely predictable but as much as I wanted to hate it ... I kind of liked it.  I still personally wouldn't recommend this book to any of my friends because the beginning was so long and drawn out. If I happen upon Something Borrowed I will probably read it since I'm familiar with all the characters and I heard it was better. The ending did make me give it 3 stars instead of the 2 I was planning on. If you are looking for some good chick lit  ... pass on this one.


3 out of 5 STARS

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan


The Sea of Monsters is the second book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  It is about a boy who is a demigod (half human, half god) and the son of Poseidon set in the modern world.  In this installment, Percy is in his second year at Camp Half Blood where he is in training to be a hero.  We find that someone has poisoned Thalia's tree, which protects the camp making it the safest place on earth for developing heroes.  He also has a dream that his best friend, Grover, is in serious trouble.  He desperately wants to help but is told he has to stay at the camp.  Of course he doesn't and he and his friends Annabeth and Tyson set off on a quest to save Grover and the camp.   


After reading the first book, I had high expectations for this one.  It was good but definitely not as good as the first.  That being said, I still enjoyed it.  It is similar to The Odyssey and if you have read that, then this story is very predictable.  Riordan did add his own modern day spin to it, which is always nice.  One of the disappointing things about this book was its lack of the humor present in the first book.  The ending leaves you with a cliffhanger that makes you want to know more.  The wonderful thing about this series is that it's a well written adventure that is extremely addictive.  Although this one was kind of sub par, I'm connected with the characters and it makes me wonder what the next adventure will be about.  I will soon be reading the next installment The Titan's Curse. 


4 out of 5 STARS

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Stray - Rachel Vincent



Meet Faythe,  your seemingly average college grad student, except she is also a werecat.  After high school, her whole life had been planned out for her, she was supposed to marry Marc and have little werekitties.  Herein lies the problem, Faythe is a strong, independent female who doesn't want that life for herself.  She convinced her father, who doubles as the Alfa male, to allow her to go to college instead.  For five years she has escaped her duty to her Pride, until she is attacked by a stray.  For her own protection, she is forced back into Pride-life under lock and key.  She is one of eight tabbies who are of child birthing age and two of them have gone missing.   Faythe's stubbornness and failure to follow the rules gets her into serious trouble not to mention her relationship woes in this supernatural thriller.  


I was very excited to get my hands on this book because I had heard so many great things about it.  I also couldn't wait to read a book on a tough chick who happens to shift.  The beginning starts off a little slow, with our heroine being all talk but no action.  There were some things stated that I felt could have been cut out.  Once you get past all the preliminaries, it actually turns out to be a good book.  Towards the end, I couldn't put it down and things mentioned in the slow parts resurface to make a big impact.  Parts were a little predictable but there are enough twists to counter that. I like the romance present but I would have to say I rooted for Jace instead of Marc.  Marc was a little too much of hot head despite his looks. I don't think it's over between Faythe and Jace just yet.  At a little over 600 pages, I finished this book pretty quick and I would recommend it to adult readers interested in reading about a strong, female lead with a touch of the un-ordinary. I do plan on reading the next book in this series Rogue. 

 4 out of 5 STARS 

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The Reckoning - Kelley Armstrong

This is the final installment of the Darkest Powers Trilogy.  Again, this one picks up where the last book left off.  Despite trying to recall the events of the previous book, once I got further into the story it all came flooding back.  Chloe and the rest of the gang have found Andrew, a family friend of Simon and Derek, and finally feel at ease with someone they trust.  They are in hiding trying to figure out a strategy to go back to the Edison Group and rescue Chloe's Aunt Lauren and their friend Rae.  Amidst  this major problem, Chloe finds herself caught between  not only two guys but two brothers.  She likes Simon but Derek and her have formed a very close bond. More trust issues arise as they continue to learn more about the Edison Group and the people who seemingly want to take them down.  In the conclusion of a great series, almost everything is answered and I couldn't put it down.  


This was a great end to a really good trilogy.  This book is fast pace and holds the reader's interest until the very end.  I liked that we got to learn even more about the characters, especially Tori.  It was nice that they all got some experience training with their powers however short lived it was.  Although Chloe still wines about her powers not being useful, it's bearable and clear that she has gained some maturity through her experiences.  Derek has been my favorite character throughout the series.  The more I read about him the more I liked his character.  I loved how the dynamics change between Chloe, Derek, and Simon.  Armstrong did a wonderful job at mixing romance and suspense and I have to say, for me, this was a page turner. The ending leaves you wanting to know more and I really wish there were going to be another book.  I almost read the whole book in one setting.  I highly recommend this trilogy to anyone interested in reading good books with a little supernatural flare. 


The reason I didn't give this book a 5-STAR rating is simple ... there are too many questions that I would have like to have answered. Maybe it was Armstrong's goal to leave the audience in suspense and let them decide for themselves.  But, in addition to other things,  I wanted to know  the explanation for the changes in the color of Chloe's necklace. 


4.5 out of 5 STARS 


I will definitely be reading The Gathering, after reading the preview at the end of this book.  I'm just going to have to be patient since it isn't due to come out until early next year.


* Update** I was told that reason that Chloe's necklace changed colors is due to the fact that she is getting stronger.  However, there is a part in the book (I don't want to give it away but when Chloe and Tori were in the cemetery) where it seemed like they were going to further explain the necklace.  

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The Short Second LIfe of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer


This is a short story about a character that was barely mentioned at the end of Eclipse.   Bree Tanner is apart of the newborn vampire army that attack the Cullens.  This book tells her story from when she was created until her encounter with the Cullens.  We know how her story ends based on the previously mentioned book.  This books helps to see the other side of the big fight that ensued.  

I was unsure what to expect from this novella.  I am not surprised that I enjoyed it.  I really like Meyer's writing style.  The imagery was great and and I feel like I felt the character's emotions. In Eclipse, I sympathized with the newborns and this made me sympathize with them even more.  It gives a lot more insight to what we already knew.  I liked the supporting characters especially Fred.  One of my problems is that I wished that we were told what happened to him.  I also wish that she were able to talk to him more and tell him all she learned about the vampire world.  Overall, I enjoyed the book but it may only be because I am a fan of the Twilight saga. I got this book when it first came out but had been putting off reading it.  It is hard to learn about a character and read a whole story in which you already know the ending.  This novella is a special treat for fans of the series and I doubt non-fans will enjoy it as much. I wouldn't call this extremely interesting but it was nice to have the main character be a vampire.  I was interested to see how Meyer changed her perspective from Bella to Bree.    I don't think I will read this one again although I own the book.

3 out of 5 STARS 

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Revelations - Melissa De La Cruz


Now that Schuyler is stuck living with the Force's, she has to abide by a whole new set of rules, which includes not seeing Lawrence or Ollie. To make matters worse, Mimi is meaner than ever and Jack seems to be ignoring her.  Mimi has moved up the bonding ceremony between her and Jack and doesn't miss a chance to throw it in Schuyler's face.   However, there is trouble in Rio, an important place of power for Blue Bloods, and everyone must go there to protect it.  The Silver Bloods finally make their move and it's a bloody battle that tests loyalties.  Shocking revelations are revealed about who they are really fighting against in the third installment of this series.  

I enjoyed reading this book because just as the title suggests there are a lot things revealed in the plot.  It started off a little slow but gets very good towards the end.  I like the love "square" aspect between Schuyler, Jack, Mimi, and Oliver and I'm glad she tried not to make that the main focus in the book. I like how Jack and Schuyler, despite their love, are the same situation.   However, I feel like Schuyler is less relate-able in this one because she seems very selfish, especially at the beginning.  She is so involved in her own problems that she doesn't seem to care about learning the Blue Bloods history or her lessons.  In the previous books, I wasn't sure what role Bliss played in all this but it is clear that the author had the master plan.  I didn't really care for her character up until this point and I liked that we get to learn more about her and her sister. 

Overall, I like the book and I cant't wait to get my hands on the next one!  Revelations has done a good job at revealing just enough to have the reading wanting to know more.  The beginning is a little slow but the ending to totally worth the time.  

4 out of 5 STARS

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The Scent of Scandal - Carole Matthews

 Rose Stevens, accomplished aromatherapist, moves to a small village to escape from her problems, mostly having to do with a guy.  In comes Dan, the village handyman / heart-throb, who is also tied down to another woman.  Rose tries to win acceptance within the little village but runs into some unexpected problems. Great Brayford is filled with eccentric characters who are all curious about their new neighbor. In such a secluded area there are bound to be rumors and speculation with Rose being in the center of it all.  Can she live the peaceful life she wanted or has she simply gone from one set of problems to another? 


This is a great British romantic comedy. I got this as an audio book from the library and it was read very well.   I really enjoyed listening to this book!  There were parts that literally made me laugh out loud or gasp for breath.  I loved how all the characters were named after aromatherapy oils with neat little descriptions  of each oil ... and they stay true to the oil descriptions.  The reader can sympathize with Rose's situations, especially if you have been in love before.  The ending was very cute and made me smile.  There really wasn't much about this book that I didn't like.  
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5 out 5 STARS

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Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz



This is the second book in the Blue Bloods series.  
This installment begins with Schuyler and her best friend, Oliver Hazzard-Perry, going to Italy in search of her grandfather at her dying grandmother's request.  She hopes that finding him will help in their quest to defeat the Silver Bloods.  In the meantime, preparations are being made for the Four Hundred Ball in New York.  It is an exclusive extravaganza for Blue Bloods only.  Our favorite young socialite, Mimi Force, has decided to throw a masquerade ball after party.  However, with the Silver Bloods at large and Michael refusing they exist, are the young Blue Bloods as safe as they think? 


I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  In my opinion, it was much better than the first.  The plot moves faster and we learn more about the Silver Bloods.  We are introduced to a new character, Kingley, who raises questions about the villainous Mimi.  The love triangle (or square) between Jack, Mimi, Schuyler, and Oliver heats up.  Mimi's dislike for Schuyler increases causing her to make poor decisions that Jack has a hand in helping her out of.  It is completely obvious that Jack still likes Schuyler thought he tries to keep his distance for Mimi's sake.  I wish he had a bigger role in this book since he is my favorite character. --maybe in the next one.  
The only problem I have is with Bliss, is she a main character and what does she have to do with the overall story?  I'm sure that all of her dreams and blackouts serve a purpose in the big picture but I'm not sure what that is yet and her character is becoming an irritant. Overall, great book!


4 out of 5 STARS

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The Awakening - L. J. Smith

 Book One: The Vampire Diaries 
**This book will not be counted toward my book challenges.**  


Honestly, I did not read this book in its entirety.  This is the first book I read on my new phone and so it is missing some text but I got what was important. This book is definitely for young audiences not for older people who love reading young adult books.  


School has just resumed for Elena and she is ready to resume her role as the most popular girl in school.  On the first day, she is completely ignored by a new, unbelievably gorgeous, student named Stefan.  She breaks up with her boyfriend and becomes obsessed with making Stefan hers causing her to jeopardize her friendship with her friend Caroline who is also into him.  Elena finally gets the Stefan but discovers that he has a secret, obviously he is a vampire. Then there's Damon, Stefan's evil older brother, who comes to town and shakes things up. 


The only reason I decided to read this book was because I started watching the show based off this series.  That being said, the TV show is much better than this book!   Even with the missing text, from what I've read this book is just not very good.  It was a boring, unrealistic wannabe Twilight minus the werewolves.  The book started off with potential  but soon proved unable to deliver and fell short.  The ending was just confusing. This is the first in a long series but I do not plan to read anymore of them. Fortunately, we all have the TV show to keep us entertained. 


2 out of 5 STARS

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Splendor - Anna Godbersen




It is tricky to write this review without giving any spoilers.  I will try to do my best as always but I suggest reading the book before reading any reviews.  The great thing about this series is that it picks up where it left off previously while also giving subtle refreshers to jog the memory.  As to be expected, there is a lot of drama, secrets, and lies. 

Like I've said before, Diana is my favorite character!  I love everything about her in all the stories and this time is no different.  She grows a little more in each book and reminds us of how it feels to be young.  She completes her quest and finds Henry but soon discovers how much influence the elder Schoonmaker has.  They are still very much in love with one another and would like to openly be together. We find out if they are able to make it official. 
Elizabeth is still married to her deceased father's business partner.  In previous reviews, I felt that her storyline has been boring and predictable.  This time around, I liked her story much better!  She begins to suspect her husband is not as honest as he seems.  Will she find out what her husband is up to, if he's even up to anything? The return of her old friend Teddy Cutting stirs up bittersweet feelings for her. We find out if their friendship continues or dissolves now that she is married. 
Penelope is still upset with her husband Henry and finally gives up on trying to force him to love her. Whereas, in previous books, her storyline has always been interesting and exciting; this time it's a little predictable and boring.  We find out whether or not the bitch of the story gets what she deserves.  
 Lina is still pretending and, for me, she is an okay character.   It seems like throughout the series her storyline has had little impact on other characters (except book one).  She is in love with Leeland Bouchard but and old friend from the past may put all she has worked for in jeopardy. We find out if she can keep up her facade or become exposed.   

This is the fourth and final book in the Luxe series and I'm glad that she ended it.  This book definitely gives the reader closure in that it wraps up all the loose ends but leaves some things to the imagination.  I was reluctant to read this book because my friend told me that she did not like the ending. After I finally finished the book, I actually liked the way it ends.  I think the only reason why some people didn't like it was because it wasn't the predictable ending that some people were hoping for. Unfortunately this book didn't blow me away like I really wanted it to but overall a good series. 

The Luxe is Anna Godbersen's first series.  Overall, I really enjoyed reading all the books although parts of them were very predictable.  She has a new book called Bright Young Things that is scheduled to come out October 26th.  Based on a web search, it is also going to be a four - book series set in New York during the 1920s.  I will more than likely being reading it so look for that review at the end of the year! 

4 out of 5 STARS 

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Time Off

It is abnormal for me to wait so long before updating my site.  I have had some personal problems at home that I explain on my other blog site: Random Somethings - A Little Time


Starting Wednesday ... I will be posting another review on a book I finished a while ago (Splendor) and get back to doing something I really enjoy. :) 

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale - Holly Black

Kaye is a sixteen year old high school dropout who works and takes care of her mother instead of it being the other way around.  They end up moving in, temporarily that is until her mother shacks up with another loser, with her grandmother.  Strange things start happening and she finds herself in the middle of a war between faeries.  She  believes in her faery friends but never thought she could be one. 


Tithe starts out painfully slow but gets better as you continue to read.  This book is just okay for me and I can't say that I loved it.  Like my complaint for previous books reviewed here, I liked the idea but felt like it wasn't executed as well as it could have been.  I get that Kaye is a troubled teen but at times it felt like I couldn't relate to her and it felt forced. The one thing about her character that I did like was her cleverness and I felt that added a lot to the story. Some of the conversations  between the characters seemed very awkwardly worded.  Because of the style of writing, I would have liked to see more of what was going on with Corny (hate that name!) and Roiben OR from Kaye's first person perspective.  Roiben was my favorite character but I don't feel like I know that much about him.  


Thank goodness that the ending picked up and made the  book somewhat worthwhile.  I did like that the story seemed modern and the imagery was good.  Although I liked the ending, it felt rushed and I would have liked it to wrap up better. This is the first book in a series and  this did leave me curious about what could happen in the next book, so will read it and again  get it from the library.  


3 out of 5 STARS

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Evermore - Alyson Noël

A girl named Ever suffers a tragic loss with the death of her family and is sent to live with her rich Aunt.  Soon after, she begins to know what people are thinking, see people's auras, and know their life story by touching.  She considers herself a freak and only wears hoodies (with the hood up) and drowns out people's thoughts with blasting her iPod.
  
Damen is gorgeous, charming, and mysterious.  Every girl in school has a crush on him but when he starts focusing all of his attention on Ever, everyone is confused including Ever herself. He seems to be able to read her mind and is able to calm down the voices just by being close to her.  Will he help change life  for Ever? (sorry I had to do it!) 


This book is okay.  The characters were okay.  However, I loved the concept behind the book better than the execution of it.  The main character, Ever, is easy to relate to especially if you have suffered the loss of a family member(s).  I liked that she can see the auras around people and I haven't seen that before but I think it could have been used a little more.  I don't like her name at all and I don't understand why she was named that.  


Riley, her sister, who is a ghost is my favorite character because she adds comedic relief to the story.  I just have one question that  I wish were answered, if she can see and talk to her ghost of a sister then can she see and interact with other ghosts?   IF she can, then I really wish that was explored more as well. 


Damen, the mysterious, is okay.  He was not my favorite and I did not fall in love with him even at the end of the book.  I did like his story after it was finally explained at the end.  Throughout the book, he was a little too much of a mystery. I knew he would be a good guy but at times I questioned his motives.  


Evermore didn't blow me away at all but I liked the concept of the immortals.  I didn't connect with the characters and I didn't feel they were as believable as they could have been.  At times, it felt like this book was just like most of the others in this genre; it needs a little more originality.  Parts of the book dragged on but it had moments that were good.  I wouldn't say it's a page turner.  Will I read the next book in this series?  Maybe, but if I do I will be getting it from the library. 


3.5 out of 5 STARS

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Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater


Grace grew up with wolves living in the woods behind her house.  One yellowed-eyed wolf catches her eye ... she considers him "her wolf."  When she meets a boy with the same yellow eyes she wants desperately for him to be her wolf but she knows that is impossible ... or is it? 

Sam is a werewolf who has watched Grace from afar for most of his life.  After changing back to his human form, for what may be his last time, he finally meets her.  He has to stay warm in the mist of the coming winter or he will change back and lose Grace and his humanity forever.

This is a beautifully written love story.  It made me remember the first time I was in love and this story just makes you feel good.  I wasn't completely blown away and part of the story dragged unnecessarily. At times, Sam and Grace were so lovey-dovey and cute that it almost made me sick. But, I loved the concept and the execution was okay though the writing was great.  It alternated between Grace and Sam's perspective, but I felt like I knew Sam more than Grace.  When I started reading this book, I thought that I would have a better feel for Grace than Sam but the reverse happened.  Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it to fans of the Twilight Saga though I wouldn't say it was better than Twilight. I will definitely read the sequel: Linger. 

4 out of 5 STARS

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