Friday, February 28, 2014

Upon Further Review: Last Sacrifice

Upon Further Review is an original feature here at Somewhere Only We Know. I have always loved re-reading my favorite books, and I wanted a way to incorporate re-reading into my blog. Thus From the Ashes and Upon Further Review were born. From the Ashes is where I re-read a book that I have never reviewed before and finally review it. Upon Further Review is where I re-read a book that I've already reviewed and see if my original rating stands or not. This is also the time for me to discuss any new revelations that my latest re-read has brought to my attention.

As you guys know, I've been re-reading the Vampire Academy series. Check out my From the Ashes reviews of: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, and my Upon Further Review of: Spirit Bound. Last Sacrifice also gets an Upon Further Review post instead of From the Ashes because I actually semi-reviewed it before. I can barely stand to look at my old posts much less call them reviews. As with Spirit Bound here's my attempt to make up for that.

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, # 6)

By: Richelle Mead

Published: December 7th 2010 by Razorbill

594 pages

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires, Urban Fantasy

Source: Own in multiple formats

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--They come first.

My vision was growing dimmer, the blackness and ghosts closing in. I swore it was like I could hear Robert whispering in my ear: The world of the dead won't give you up a second time. Just before the light completely vanished, I saw Dimitri's face join Lissa's. I wanted to smile. I decided then that if the two people I loved most were safe, I could leave this world.

The dead could finally have me.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose - for a crime she didn't even commit. She's in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She'll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose's life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back...and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Join Rose, Dimitri, Adrian, and Lissa in Last Sacrifice, the epic, unforgettable finale to Richelle Mead's international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series.

I read Last Sacrifice the first time immediately after its release in December 2010. Along with Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice was one of the first books I ever did a post about. Seriously, that post is so embarrassing I didn’t even want to link to it. I didn’t know anything about writing a book review at that point.

I’m not really sure how I feel about the Goodreads description above. In some ways I feel like it gives too much away and yet it’s deceptive at the same time. I’ve been discussing how Richelle Mead is a foreshadowing magician, right? Well it all culminates in Last Sacrifice. Everything that’s been set up and alluded to has come out. But does she stop there? Absolutely not. She goes on to foreshadow and set up her Bloodlines series with Last Sacrifice. I love it.

I only took 3 pages of notes this reading of Last Sacrifice because my 6 pages of notes from Spirit Bound was so overwhelming I had a hard time even using them to write my review. Too much information is just as hard to muddle through as not enough. Either way, just the fact that these books are worthy of note-taking—and they are!—is enough to make them top rated books for me. So let’s dive in. Again….spoilers for Spirit Bound (book 5) and all previous books.

At the end of Spirit Bound, Rose and Adrian have just had a very sensual night together. Having not gone all the way, Rose does let Adrian drink from her which is totally taboo. The evidence is on her neck the next morning when she sneaks out to get breakfast. She stumbles upon Dimitri who acts like he wants nothing to do with her at first. They begin talking about the new dhampir age decree, and then the guardians swoop in and try to arrest Rose. Dimitri fiercely protects Rose from them in a way that can only come from someone who has the history that they have together. Rose is eventually arrested for the murder of Queen Tatitana because she talks Dimitri into backing down. And that’s essentially where we pick up with Last Sacrifice. Rose is still in holding for this crime.

Abe, Rose’s father, has taken on the task of defending her. He’s sworn to her that she won’t be convicted or executed for this crime, but time appears to be running out. I know I’ve been talking about him since he first showed up in Blood Promise, but I just love Abe. He’s snarky, sarcastic, a flirt, a mobster/gangster, dresses like a pimp, and his faith in his daughter is nothing short of endearing. Even though Rose and Abe haven’t had a very long relationship, it doesn’t take years for them to click and to depend upon each other. Rose could easily have that “I didn’t have a dad” victim mentality, but as she discusses at the end of the book, she’s never had a victim mentality at all—and it’s one of the reasons why I love her character so dearly.

Lissa is the strongest in Last Sacrifice that we’ve ever seen her throughout the whole series. She started the series as a character that I struggled connecting to, but has come out on the other side being a character that I can respect. She isn’t going to let Rose go down for this crime she didn’t commit, and instead of letting Rose take care of everything like she normally does, Lissa steps up and takes charge to take care of Rose this time. She executes her plan with poise and grace, even when bumps in the road come. As I said, I’ve come to respect her a lot. Now there is some pieces of her behavior at the very end of the book that had me furrowing my brow in slight confusion but nothing too bad. Also, as I’ve said in every single review of this series, the bond between Lissa and Rose is the perfect way for Richelle Mead to have dual narration without actually having dual narration. So smart.

The biggest thing for me with Last Sacrifice is Rose and Dimitri’s relationship contrasted with Rose and Adrian’s relationship. I’m going to try to be as vague as possible here, but proceed with caution. I don’t condone Rose’s treatment of Adrian. She doesn’t always take him seriously. She uses him even when she’s not fully aware that she’s doing it. Sometimes Rose almost treats Adrian with scorn. This should not be the way you think about the person you’re with—your other half. Rose never intended to be forever with Adrian. She tells his mother as much in Spirit Bound. She cares about him, sure, but she sums it up by saying “I should have said we strengthen each other. He makes me want to be a better person. We understand each other. I didn’t motivate him,” and “We have fun together.” While my heart aches for Adrian, I love how utterly raw he is with Rose about how he’s feeling. He tells her some harsh things in a harsh way, but they’re things she needs to hear. And the same goes for her. While she’s in a position that can’t really defend her actions and he might not want to hear the truth, she is completely right about their relationship.

Obviously in contrast, Rose and Dimitri do better each other. They make a great team. Dimitri is willing to fight for Rose, for her life, even if that means forfeiting any life of his own to go on the run with her. He comes alive with her after having been dead. After feeling the extreme guilt over his actions as a Strigoi. Rose is the only one who knows how bad Dimitri really was as a Strigoi. She’s the only person he can share those feelings with because she’s the only one who saw him at his lowest. When Dimitri kind of goes off the deep end and kills Donovan in a messed up attempt to atone for his Strigoi days, Rose is the only one who can bring him out of it by showing him that he can’t possibly have any Strigoi left in him because he’s able to see the beauty in her—in the world. Seeing how beautiful a second opportunity at life after being Strigoi really is, Dimitri can’t help but want to live his life to the fullest. That includes being with Rose—what he ultimately wants and is scared he’s lost forever. He wants her to be happy, even if that means she’s with Adrian—or someone else. And Rose…well look at every single thing she’s done since Shadow Kiss. Every move she’s made has either been in service to Dimitri and her love for him or in service to Lissa and her love for her. Rose has matched Dimitri moment for moment, sacrifice for sacrifice. Rose and Dimitri match. They fit.

Of course, not everything in Last Sacrifice revolves around the Rose/Dimitri/Adrian love triangle. Lissa, as we found out at the end of Spirit Bound, has a sibling and the sibling must be brought to court so that Lissa can have her family backing and vote on the counsel. Rose, Dimitri, and Sydney are out and about searching for Lissa’s long lost sibling while Lissa, Christian, Adrian, Eddie, and Abe are back at court investigating Tatiana’s murder in order to prove Rose innocent. Politics still infest the Moroi at court as elections begin for a new monarch. And Spirit continues to play a vital role in both sides as spirit dreams, Strigoi healings, aura watching, compulsion, telekinesis, and charming various silver objects abound.

Favorite quotes:

“Of course not. Why do anything without a reason?” – Abe pg 16

“Ah, my daughter," he said. "Eighteen, and already you’ve been accused of murder, aided felons, and acquired a death count higher than most guardians will ever see." He paused. "I couldn’t be prouder.” – Abe pg 64

“You’ve always been my equal, Roza.” – Dimitri pg 72

“Impossible situations are our specialty...” – Rose pg 94

“I don’t need luck, Roza. I’ll always find you.” – Dimitri pg 117

“I've seen you too. Ozera. Crispen, right?” ... “So what brings you and Christopher here?” ... “But you just got here! I was hoping we could get to know each other." It went without saying what he went by that. "Oh. And Kreskin too.”– Blake Lazar pgs 316, 317, & 321-322

“Fighting is easy. It’s why we fight that matters.” (I don't remember who said it and therefore wasn't able to find it searching through the book. If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments, and I'll update this.)

“...it was better to be alone with my self-respect than to be in the wrong relationship.” – Rose pg 486 - amen Rose, amen!

“Ah, Belikov," said Abe, shaking Dimitri's hand. "I'd been hoping we'd run into each other. I'd really like to get to know you better. Maybe we can set aside some time to talk, learn more about life, love, et cetera. Do you like to hunt? You seem like a hunting man. That's what we should do sometime. I know a great spot in the woods. Far, far away. We could make a day of it. I've certainly got a lot of questions I'd like to ask you. A lot of things I'd like to tell you too.” – Abe pg 589

Last Sacrifice is an excellent series ender. Everything wraps up nicely but in a way where it doesn’t feel forced or overly predictable. As a matter of fact, the true killer for Tatiana’s murder was a pretty good surprise the first time reading it. Richelle Mead pulls in pieces from even the very first book and references them again in Last Sacrifice which I love. The characters continue to grow and change, and I love them even more in this book than I did in the beginning. Last Sacrifice is witty as Richelle Mead tends to throw in those one-liners here and there for the right characters at just the right moments. It’s passionate and yet methodical. I love it. Last Sacrifice easily gets 5 Stars from me for an overall 5 Stars for the series. Have you read Last Sacrifice? What did you think? Let me know!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saving Quinton - Review

Saving Quinton (Nova, # 2)

By: Jessica Sorensen

Published: February 4th 2014 by Forever

384 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Nova Reed can't forget him-Quinton Carter, the boy with the honey-brown eyes who made her realize she deserved more than an empty life. His pain was so similar to her own. But Nova has been coming to terms with her past and healing, while Quinton is out there somewhere, sinking deeper. She's determined to find him and help him . . . before it's too late.

Nova has haunted his dreams for nearly a year-but Quinton never thought a sweet, kind person like her would care enough about a person like him. To Quinton, a dark, dangerous life is exactly what he deserves. And Nova has no place in it. But Nova has followed him to Las Vegas, and now he must do whatever it takes to keep her away, to maintain his self-imposed punishment for the unforgivable things he's done. But there's one flaw in his plan: Nova isn't going anywhere . . .

And I thought Breaking Nova was intense… Man. My thoughts are kind of all over the place as I literally JUST finished reading this book minutes ago. I feel like books about drug addiction are in some ways similar to cancer books. It’s kind of like, even if you’ve never dealt with cancer or drug addiction personally, you probably know someone who has. I don’t typically read too many books that deal with this level of addiction, but Jessica Sorensen’s novels usually touch on all sorts of dark topics and so it’s no surprise that drug addiction is one she would take on in this depth and detail.

Typically guilt, self-loathing, self-sabotage, and all of this type of negative thinking is a turn off for me in books. I get so tired of characters blaming themselves for all the terrible things that happen in the world—things that are beyond their control. But for some reason I didn’t struggle with this with Quinton as much as I expected to. Maybe it was because, like Nova, I just kept telling myself that it was the drugs talking. Like if he could somehow get sober he would be able to move past his guilt, self-loathing, self-sabotage, etc. I expected Saving Quinton to be much more about Quinton coming out of his drug use and back into a healthy way of life, but truthfully the entire book was just about him delving further and further into the dark and dangerous place, moving from harder drug to harder drug. It was quite exhausting and overwhelming to even read about.

Nova has a great heart. She’s got baggage from her previous boyfriend, Landon, committing suicide. She couldn’t save him, and now no matter how desperately she tries, she can’t save Quinton either. But she can’t give up on him at the same time. I’ve not ever tried to help someone out of the pit of drug addiction, but I have tried to help someone who doesn’t want it, and I have had that battle in my head of not wanting to give up on someone despite how repeatedly they try to drag me down with them. I felt for Nova, and I know that so many people out there can relate to her who have family members or friends that are deep in the clutches of addiction. It breaks my heart.

My favorite quotes:

"It can be so comforting, peaceful, serene. It can make you feel so in control, but it's just a mask--what we're trying to hide--is still growing, feeding off the addiction--"

"...you could spend a hundred years with a person and still not know them if they don't want you to know them."

"I think as long as he's alive still, there will always be hope."

Saving Quinton was an intense book. It kept me reading and moving forward. I had frantic dreams about this book at least two nights in a row. I have to give Saving Quinton 4.5 Stars. Even if the subject isn’t one I want to read on a regular basis, that doesn’t affect the fact that this book brought out some pretty extreme feelings for me. I even got nauseated at a couple of points. Have you read Saving Quinton? What did you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting on Take Me On

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Take Me On (Pushing the Limits, # 4)

By: Katie McGarry

Expected Publication: May 20th 2014 by Harlequin TEEN

304 pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

I love Katie McGarry, and I can't wait to carry on this series!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Series Enders Reading Challenge - February Wrap Up

It's time for our second Monthly Wrap Up for the 2014 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Since posting the January Wrap Up, I (Sandy) finished 2 series enders: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, # 6) by Richelle Mead and Lila and Ethan: Always and Forever (The Secret, # 4.5) by Jessica Sorensen, but I'm not scheduled to post my reviews until later as I try to always stay scheduled in advanced for reviews. I'll link up whenever I review these.

Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the February giveaway runs from February 25th - March 25th. On March 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Ever After of Ella and Micha - Review

The Ever After of Ella and Micha (The Secret, # 3.5)

By: Jessica Sorsensen

Published: December 3rd 2013 by Forever

272 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Borrowed from my Holly @ Words Fueled by Love

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Temptation of Lila and Ethan comes a story of change, hope, and unbreakable vows.

The day Ella has waited for is just around the corner. It's the day she'll marry Micha, the love of her life, the light that guided her out of the darkness. It looks like it will be the perfect Christmas-until an unexpected package arrives with a harsh reminder of Ella's past. Suddenly Ella doesn't feel as confident about her future. Can she really have a "happily-ever-after" if she's never even seen one?

Micha will stand by Ella no matter what she's going through-though he worries that she might leave him standing at the altar again. When he's offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to tour with his favorite bands for three months, Micha knows he can't leave Ella behind. But can he ask her to uproot her life to join him on the road?

Now Ella and Micha must find a way to balance their fears, their dreams, and their love . . . if they ever want to hear wedding bells.

I’m starting to kind of feel like too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. Thankfully I believe Jessica Sorensen is done with this series, but I was beginning to feel like it was being drawn out for no real reason. It really caught me off guard when reading The Temptation of Lila and Ethan that Ella pulls a no-show for the wedding. Obviously that was really just set up for this book, but it felt completely out of the blue to me.

Truthfully, Ella has been an increasing struggle for me with each book that I've read in this series. I totally enjoyed reading about her in The Secret of Ella and Micha, but since then she’s slowly been building up to annoying. I get that her past experience has always been to run, but I just felt more and more like she was overreacting. Micha in contrast has become more and more stable. In his own way, he’s pretty much always been the rock in their relationship. He’s had his own demons to conquer, sure, but mostly, he’s just there for Ella. Always. He’s careful not to spook her into running for the hills, especially since standing him up at the alter.

It almost felt like there was no real conflict to this book. Even though Ella constantly battles her fears, her desire to run isn’t away from Micha for the most part. She’s confident in her feelings for him and her desire to marry him. But other things are always in her periphery that spook her. I guess the true battle for Ella, and this book, still involves dealing with her mother’s life and death. Sure that’s kind of a real life thing. Unlike books, resolution doesn’t always come swiftly and finally. Real life bangs us over the head time and time again, and our pasts continually haunt us. However, it felt to me that this should have mostly been resolved in The Forever of Ella and Micha.

In some ways, I feel like my review is coming off more negative than I intend. I did enjoy The Ever After of Ella and Micha, and I’m thankful that they have their happy ending once and for all. But at the same time, I had minor frustrations with this one. Ultimately, it was a good ending to the series, and I’m thankful that I can put it to rest as resolved and be satisfied with the ending. The Ever After of Ella and Micha gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read The Ever After of Ella and Micha? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Post - 85 & Stacking the Shelves - 55

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This has been a bit of a hectic week work wise. Yet good overall. Truly not much to add to that.

THIS PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of Sempre (Forever, # 1) by JM Darhower (4 Stars)
Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader/Blogger
Wednesday: Waiting on Ruin & Rising (The Grisha, # 3) by Leigh Bardugo
Thursday: Review of Cress (Lunar Chronicles, # 3) by Mariss Meyer (4.5 Stars)
Friday: Review of The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret, # 3) by Jessica Sorensen (4.5 Stars)

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of The Ever After of Ella & Micha (The Secret, # 4) by Jessica Sorensen
Tuesday: Top Ten Rewind (not sure what topic I'll pick yet) & February 2014 Series Enders Reading Challenge Wrap Up (and winner picked for January)
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday: Review of Saving Quinton (Nova, # 2) by Jessica Sorensen
Friday: Upon Further Review: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, # 6) by Richelle Mead
Saturday: February 2014 EOM Wrap Up

Don't forget to sign up for the 2014 Series Enders Reading Challenge! Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with a BIG giveaway at the end of the year! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Blindness

By: Ginger Scott

Expected Publication: February 25th 2014 by Ginger Scott

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Author/Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads )

Goodreads description--It takes a while to know who you really are. And when you lose your way, sometimes it’s hard to find it again.

Charlie Hudson was on the verge of figuring that out when her dad—the only parent and friend she ever had—died suddenly. She was barely 18, and she was alone. So she went for easy—playing life safe, running away from a home that harbored nothing but bad memories and challenges and loving a man who would take her away from it all forever.

It’s funny how chance takes over when you need it most. And that’s exactly what brought Cody Carmichael into her life. A former motocross super star, Cody was now happy to be living the blue collar life, spending his days finishing up school and his nights under the hood of some classic car, just trying to keep everything his father taught him alive. Cody and Charlie were living parallel lives, until they finally collided. And the moment he smiled at her, Charlie knew he was the one who would change everything. But was she willing to take the risk?

Cody saw through it all. He saw her—all of her. But would letting him in be too much to take? And if Charlie let herself love him—really love him—could he love her back?

Undeclared (Woodland, # 1)

By: Jen Frederick

Published: April 28th 2013 by Jen Frederic

260 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher/Author (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--For four years, Grace Sullivan wrote to a Marine she never met, and fell in love. But when his deployment ended, so did the letters. Ever since that day, Grace has been coasting, academically and emotionally. The one thing she’s decided? No way is Noah Jackson — or any man — ever going to break her heart again.

Noah has always known exactly what he wants out of life. Success. Stability. Control. That’s why he joined the Marines and that’s why he’s fighting his way — literally — through college. Now that he’s got the rest of his life on track, he has one last conquest: Grace Sullivan. But since he was the one who stopped writing, he knows that winning her back will be his biggest battle yet.

Unspoken (Woodland, # 2)

By: Jen Frederick

Published: September 13th 2013 by Pear Tree LLC

278 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Author/Publisher (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Whore. Slut. Typhoid Mary.

I've been called all these at Central College. One drunken night, one act of irresponsible behavior, and my reputation was ruined. Guys labeled me as easy and girls shied away. To cope, I stayed away from Central social life and away from Central men, so why is it that my new biology lab partner is so irresistible to me?

He's everything I shouldn't want. A former Marine involved in illegal fighting with a quick trigger temper and an easy smile for all the women. His fists aren't the danger to me, though, it's his charm. He's sliding his way into my heart and I'm afraid that he's going to be the one to break me.

Impulsive. Unthinking. Hot tempered.

I allow instinct to rule my behavior. If it feels good, do it, has been my motto because if I spend too much time thinking, I'll begin to remember exactly where I came from. At Central College, I've got fighting and I've got women and I thought I was satisfied until I met her.

She's everything I didn't realize I wanted and the more time I spend with her, the more I want her. But she's been hurt too much in the past and I don't want to be the one to break her. I know I should walk away, but I just can't.

Unraveled (Woodland, # 3)

By: Jen Frederick

Published: January 18th 2014 by Pear Tree LLC

280 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Author/Publisher (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.

Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn’t move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn’t taken many chances in life. Now, she’s met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband?

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Temptation of Lila & Ethan - Review

The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret, # 3)

By: Jessica Sorensen

Published: October 22nd 2013 by Forever

336 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Ella and Micha series comes a gripping story of passion, pain, and the courage to love . . .

THE TEMPTATION OF LILA AND ETHAN

On the surface, Lila Summers is flawless: good looks, expensive clothes, and a big, beautiful smile. But a dark past and even darker secrets are threatening to bubble over her perfect fa├žade. She'll do anything to keep the emptiness inside hidden-which leads her into situations that always end badly. Whenever she hits bottom, there's only one person who's there to pull her out: Ethan Gregory.

Ethan set the rules a long time ago: he and Lila are just friends. He doesn't do relationships. Although his tattooed, bad boy exterior is a far cry from Lila's pretty princess image, Ethan can't deny they have a deeper connection than he's used to. If he's not careful, he could be in serious danger of becoming attached-and he's learned the hard way that attachment only leads to heartbreak.

When Lila falls farther than she ever has before, can Ethan continue to help as a friend? Or is he also getting close to falling . . . for her?

I’ve read 8 books by Jessica Sorensen (The Secret of Ella & Micha, The Forever of Ella & Micha, The Tempation of Lila & Ethan, The Ever After of Ella & Micha, The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, The Destiny of Violet & Luke, and Breaking Nova) at the time of writing this review. So far I’ve seen a lot of repetitive themes with Jessica Sorsensen’s writing. And that’s been probably my biggest complaint to-date. However, The Temptation of Lila & Ethan might be my favorite one so far. It’s possible that’s because this one was a little different. But it’s possible that it was just better than the others. I’m not 100% sure.

The main difference that I noticed between The Temptation of Lila & Ethan and all of the other books that I’ve read by Jessica Sorensen was that while Ethan definitely has kind of a troubled past (her characters usually do), he’s basically worked past most of them by the time we get to The Temptation of Lila & Ethan (or so it seems anyway). Normally both of the leading characters in Jessica Sorsensen’s books have major problems. And expanding past that is the pattern of one character making decent progress with their issues in the first book, and the second book in the series focusing more on the healing of the other main character. By the end of the 2nd book both characters are in a much better place than when we started. And while The Temptation of Lila & Ethan is the 3rd book in The Secret series, this is really the first book of Lila and Ethan’s story so I expected the story to follow Jessica Sorsensen’s previously established pattern. But that really wasn’t the case. Ethan has his struggles that influence him because of his past, but he isn’t really weighed down by them and he’s in a much healthier place than most of Jessica Sorsensen’s other characters.

As I’ve said, Ethan has his troubled past, and he still has struggles to deal with because of that past, but he isn’t weighed down by them. Ethan is a great character. Probably my favorite male lead of all of this author’s books. He’s a good guy through and through even though he would debate that very fact. Ethan repeatedly makes good decisions. And the times when he makes a bad one, he’s able to make a course correction before he actually does any damage and goes through with his bad choices. Ethan is a rock. And he’s used his troubled past to make himself stronger and to be more willing to help others—specifically Lila.

Speaking of Lila, I was a fan. I mean she does have more of a victim mentality than Ethan does, but I can completely see how she got to the place where she is. Her story and her emotions are completely believable if only a little extreme. While it does take help from Lila to dig out of the hole she finds herself in, who among us all can say they’ve never needed help from someone else? Lila borrows Ethan’s strength until she has some of her own, and I loved seeing her work through her darker issues and work her way into the light.

I do wish that Ella and Micha were a bit more present in this story. The appearances they do make really felt to me like the only real purpose was for establishing an interest and creating intrigue for the reader to keep pressing forward in the series and pick up The Ever After of Ella and Micha which released in December 2013. While I have no problems with this, it was just something that I noted, wrinkled my nose at, and then moved on. By the time this review goes live, I will have already read The Ever After of Ella and Micha. And the novella concerning Lila and Ethan, (Lila and Ethan: Always and Forever) I’m all over it as well.

The Temptation of Lila & Ethan gets 4.5 Stars from me. Have you read The Temptation of Lila & Ethan? If so, what did you think? Let me know!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cress - Review

Cress (Lunar Chronicles, # 3)

By: Marissa Meyer

Published: February 4th 2014 by Feiwel and Friends

560 pages

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Source: Personal Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Rapunzel's tower is a satellite. She can't let down her hair - or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker – unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

I feel like I’m going to stumble through this review rambling, fan-girling, and generally not making sense. I hope not, but let’s dive right in.

Marissa Meyer has made the Lunar Chronicles series so much fun to read. I never know how she’s going to work the fairytale aspects into her retelling. She always hits the major plot points from the fairytales in such a way that is fun and exciting to experience. Her world building around these fairytales is so spot on and unique that it continues to surprise me. As far-fetched as Cinderella being a cyborg sounded when I initially stumbled upon this series, Marissa Meyer has made every single decision works perfectly, and I love it. I love the anticipation of knowing a certain part of the fairytale has to be addressed and just waiting to see how Marissa Meyer is going to handle each piece of the puzzle.

I, also, love the steady build of this series so far. We started Cinder with the main storyline of Cinder and Kai—an impossible relationship—Earth fighting the letumosis disease, and the Lunar queen being a threat to Earth, but we’ve expanded so much since then, encompassing other characters and subplots. Obviously with book 2, we bring in Scarlet (aka Little Red Riding Hood) and Wolf, and Thorne. Turns out that we actually met Cress in Cinder, but we just didn’t know it at the time, and I loved that little fact.

Yet again, Marissa Meyer brings a unique take on the classic story of Rapunzel. As the description says, instead of being locked away in a tower, Cress has been imprisoned in a satellite for seven years doing the Queen’s bidding through the go-between of Sybil the queen’s thaumaturge. Cress has gotten extremely good at hacking during her time locked away in her satellite. She’s been exposed to all of the drama between Earth and Luna and she’s made a decision about which side she’s going to end up on.

Cress has also developed a bit of a crush on Thorne, researching his history and creating her own ideas to explain away his repetitive bouts of trouble with the law. I loved how she basically has a celebrity crush on Thorne. I was worried that her little heart would be broken—Throne is too—when she finds out that he’s not exactly what she’s imagined him to be. However, unlike most celebrity crushes, Cress actually gets to spend time with Thorne, and due to an injury he suffers, Thorne has to depend upon her much more than he would like. Marissa Meyer brought this development out in a slow process that was easy to accept and adapt to—easy to get on board with and root for at the same time.

I liked seeing the progress that Scarlet and Wolf were making. It’s obvious how much Wolf cares about Scarlet and after his loyalties were called into question in Scarlet, I’m glad to see he’s firmed up his place. Scarlet finds herself in the best place to provide set up for the introduction of our next main lead from the next fairytale (Snow White aka Winter) for the next book. And I’m glad that Cinder and Kai have made the progress that they’ve made as well. Kai is allowed time to process the information he’s received and the events that have taken place since Cinder and he’s able to form some theories about why Cinder has made the decisions that she has that do not involve treason and betrayal.

One thing I will say, I’ve come to realize that I’m not always a fan of series where the good guys are battling the same bad guy over the entire series, unless there are new/different mini-bad guys for each book. Let’s take Harry Potter for example. Yes, the main villain is Voldemort over the entire series, but Harry has some challenge or mini-bad guy to battle each book. Or the House of Night series how Neferet is the villain for most (if not all since I abandoned that series) of the series and the characters don’t seem to make any progress toward taking her down. That being said, I was starting to get a little bored with the Queen Levana villain aspect of the storyline, but they made enough progress in Cress for me to be okay with where things ended. And considering Winter is supposed to be the last book in this series, having Queen Levana be the main villain for one more book won't be so bad. If the series were any longer, I would desire some diversification.

All in all, I’m happy to give Cress 4.5 Stars. Each book in this series has gotten better and better for me. I hope that continues with Winter and that won’t end up being a disappointing series ender. Have you read Cress? What did you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Ruin & Rising

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Ruin & Rising (The Grisha, # 3)

By: Leigh Bardugo

Expected Publication: June 3rd 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.

448 pages

Genre: YA, Fantasy

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

What are you waiting on this week? Let me know!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader

Top 10 Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader.

Reading
    1) Reading takes me away from real life for a bit—not that I particularly feel the need to escape my life because I happen to love my life, but it’s nice to have an escape too.
    2) I meet so many characters that I fall in love with. I’m surrounded by friends and family that I love, but I don’t always understand how they think. That’s one of the reasons why I love reading—being completely immersed into someone else’s mind and experiencing their thoughts and feelings.
    3) I get to visit a variety of places and worlds. I’ve never been to Paris, but I kind of feel like I have been. I’ve never been in outer space, but I kind of feel like I have been. I’ve never seen any dragons, but I kind of feel like I have.
    4) Studies show that the “cloud nine” feelings you get from falling in love do go away over time. It’s really scientific and involves chemicals, hormones, pheromones, etc in the body. But reading allows me to in some small part experience those cloud nine feelings over and over again.
    5) It bonds people. I love being able to discuss the books I’ve read with people—whether they are people in my real life or people on the blog. It’s really why I started blogging to begin with which leads me to the next point.
    6) Books change people. My dad always says (and he may be quoting someone I don’t know) that you’d be exactly the same 5 years from now as you are today except for the people you surround yourself with and the books you read. I think the books I’ve read—all of them—have made me a deeper person (not that all the books I’ve read are deep). They help me to relate to a larger portion of people over a larger variety of situations.

Blogging
    7) The book blogging community is really special. I’ve never “met” anyone I wish I hadn’t. It’s full of supportive people who share a common love. There's really nothing I've experienced quite like it.
    8) I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I love blogging because of the access I have to a wider variety of books. I am exposed to a large selection, and it’s really awesome. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review all kinds of books.
    9) Blogging also gives me an excuse to read. While blogging isn’t my fulltime job, I always have that excuse of “but I need to read this for my blog…now.”
    10) I already mentioned the book blogging community, but I’ve “met” so many great people (not book characters) through this medium.

What are your top favorite things about reading and/or blogging? Let me know!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sempre - Review

Sempre (Forever, # 1)

By: JM Darhower

Published: January 29th 2012 by CreateSpace

530 pages

Genre: YA/NA, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco had vastly different childhoods. Haven, a second-generation slave, grew up isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege, never having to answer for anything he did.

Both now seventeen, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide, making them question everything they ever believed. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.

I can’t say that I’ve ever read a mafia book before. Nor have I read a book about human trafficking or slave trade. So when I read the description of Sempre, I thought this sounded like a different read that might be just the change of pace that I was looking for. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Sempre was indeed going to be a book that I would like very much. JM Darhower has a great voice and his easy writing style pulled me in early on. Though there's nothing inaccurate about the description, I did have a slightly different picture in my head of how Sempre was going to go down than what actually happened.

Haven is, as the description states, a second generations slave. Her mother was a slave also who happened to have been raped by Haven’s father. As the description also says, Haven has experienced abuse to the point that she is jittery, jumpy, and flinching just about constantly. Haven’s mother presses her to escape and because of this stunt, Haven is sold to another "Master".

Vincent DeMarco is the mafia member who buys Haven after her escape attempt. Vincent has very specific reasons for purchasing Haven, though none of that is clear to Haven or really any of the other characters. He brings Haven into his family. She’s separate but a part at the same time. He treats her well with the exception of an occasional slip into “monster” mode. Vincent is a broken man. He’s lost his wife to the mafia, and he’s doing everything he can not to lose his sons to them also. Dominic and Carmine are very different. The mafia, it seems, has easily accepted that Dominic will probably not be a member of their family. But that’s not really the case for Carmine. Though Carmine still has the freewill to say “no,” the head of the Italian mafia pretty much assumes that Carmine will be following in his father’s footsteps.

Speaking of Carmine, he’s a hot tempered boy who frequently jumps into violent mode quickly. Of course he’s your typical leading male—meaning he’s fast and loose with his women. Carmine has a potty mouth to rival all other characters. But he’s scarred as well. Having essentially watched his mother die when he was eight and being shot in the process, Carmine has some baggage to say the least. After seeing that he and Haven aren’t quite as different as initial appearances would seem, he softens as he falls in love with her. I personally swooned every time he spoke Italian to her. Granted I had no clue what it was that he was saying. Sometimes JM Darhower would translate for Haven and thus for the reader, but sometimes not. I wanted to be annoyed that I had no clue what he was saying, but Haven didn’t know either. And it was endearing. Oh okay…it was straight out hot.

While things didn’t exactly progress how I pictured from reading the description, the essentials are there. Mafia slave and mafia prince are going to have a tough road to be together. And all isn’t cotton candy and unicorns. The pacing was good. I never felt like putting Sempre down exactly, and I never really felt like things were moving too slowly, but this is a hefty book coming in at 530 pages. Toward the end, I still didn’t feel like things were slow necessarily, but I was kind of getting to the point where I was ready for them to wrap up. While I don’t know that I could have predicted everything from the very beginning, while the story was unfolding pieces that felt like they were supposed to be game changers didn’t really feel like game changers. Maybe the information was leaked slowly enough to where I felt like I already knew what they were saying before they official made the important statements or plot twists. I say all of that to say that this one was a little predictable.

I’m not quite sure why, but I wasn’t expecting much from Sempre when I first picked it up. Maybe it was because I’m new to the mafia and modern day slave trafficking tales or maybe it was because I was unfamiliar with the author. It doesn’t really matter why I wasn’t expecting much at this point. What does matter is that Sempre exceeded my expectations in every way. I was sucked in. I enjoyed the ride. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. Sempre gets 4 Stars from me, and I hope it gets the love and attention that I think it deserves. Have you read Sempre? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Post - 84 & Stacking the Shelves - 54

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

I hope everyone had a great week and a Happy Valentine's Day--whether you're single or not. Husband surprised me with a new Kindle Paperwhite, and I was so excited to add to my kindle collection. I've been wanting a Paperwhite for some time, but couldn't really justify spending the money on it. Other than that, this week has been pretty good with nothing to complain about.

THIS PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of Panic by Lauren Oliver (3 Stars)
Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon
Wednesday: Waiting on Five Ways to Fall (Ten Tiny Breaths, # 4) by KA Tucker
Thursday: Review of Believe (True Believers, # 3) by Erin McCarthy (4 Stars)
Friday: Audio Review of Carter Finally Gets It (Carter Finally Gets It, # 1) by Brent Crawford - Best audiobook ever! (3 Stars for the Story; 5 Stars for the Narration)

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of Sempre (Forever, # 1) by JM Darhower
Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday: Review of Cress (Lunar Chronicles, # 3) by Marissa Meyer
Friday: Review of The Temptation of Lila & Ethan (The Secret, # 3) by Jessica Sorensen

Don't forget to sign up for the 2014 Series Enders Reading Challenge! Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with a BIG giveaway at the end of the year! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

Also, I don't normally do this, but Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, # 1) by Marissa Meyer is on sale until 2/17/14 for $2.99 at Amazon.

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

He Belongs With Me

By: Sarah Darlington

Expected Publication: March 4th 2014

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Author (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads )

Goodreads description--Two girls. One Leo.

Identical twins, Maggie and Clara Ryder, both grew up with Leo Maddox, billionaire playboy, apparent alcoholic, and heir to his grandfather's world-famous Maddox hotel empire. Their roles were cemented long ago: Maggie, as his best friend and Clara as his childhood nemesis.

But when a simple twist of fate changes everything and both girls start to fall for the lean, mean, ridiculously sexy and seemingly spoiled Leo... which girl will win his heart?

Throw in a little mischief, drama, and one smoking-hot bartender and lines are sure to blur. But one thing's for certain, neither good-girl Maggie nor rebellious Clara will be satisfied until they each figure out where they belong.

*NEW ADULT ROMANCE. Recommended for 17+ due to sexual situations and adult language.

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly, # 3)

By: Susan Dennard

Expected Publication: July 22nd 2014 by HarperTeen

400 pages

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Zombie, Horror, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booksamillion.com )

*Note: The above links to Amazon, Book Depository, and Booksamillion.com are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

I feel like I'm forgetting some books this week....but I'll post them next week if I find any that I missed.

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!