JJ Reads

Fever (Chemical Garden)

Fever - Lauren DeStefano As we have come to expect from Lauren DeStefano, Fever is another beautifully written masterpiece. Fever picks up right where Wither left off with Rhine and Gabriel escaping from her father in law's, Vaughn's, mansion in Florida. Just when Rhine and Gabriel believe they are out of the woods, they are both captured again and fall into the hands of a madam running a prostitution business. Unable to escape this new prison, Rhine and Gabriel's relationship tenses as Gabriel begins to resent Rhine for convincing him to escape the mansion and falling right into another trap.

In the meantime, Vaughn doesn't give up his search for Rhine and finds her. With the help of others, Rhine and Gabriel manage to escape and take a malformed child with her in order to save her too from the horrible fate that awaited her. The road to Manhattan in search of Rhine's brother, Rowan, was a treacherous one as the three of them endure many hardships. Eventually they reach their destination, only when Rhine makes it to the house she shared with her brother, she finds that it's been burned down and upon further investigation finds out that her brother might be in fact looking off looking for her. Filled with sorrow with the idea that she might never find her brother now that he has left Manhattan, Rhine spends her days trying to think of ways that she can find him.

Her search plans are halted as Rhine falls ills, exhibiting signs of the deadly virus that takes the life of every girl at 20, only Rhine is not that age yet. No one knows or understand why Rhine is sick, wasting away slowly. Vaughn finds her and reveals the source of her illness, revealing in the process that he has been tracking her and the atrocities he had been doing all along, and plans to do in the future. Rhine is blackmailed I to going back to the mansion, only this time she won't be a bride, she will be a lab subject.

Words cannot express how much I loved this book. Listening to it on audiobook was a special treat, as the narrator, Angela Lin, does a wonderful job of capturing Rhine's solemn and somber voice. The overwhelming sense of sorrow I felt as I listened, out me right into the story, and I felt that I was there, holding Rhine's hand all along the way. That said, DeStefano's writing is a hit out of the park. If you enjoyed Wither, Fever as a middle book will answer some questions, but leave some more along the way. This is definitely a 5-star book for me. A MUST READ.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Belles

Belles - Jen Calonita Belles is a very cute story about family values, love, friendship, and the old "money can't buy you happiness" adage. Picture Gossip Girl meets Steel Magnolias. The two Belles of the story (Isabelle and Mirabelle) couldn't be any more different, coming from different backgrounds and social status, they are more alike than they both realize.

Isabelle is the one who lives in near poverty, on the poor side of town. She lives with and cares for her grandmother who has trouble remembering her own name most days, and with the memory of her mother who died when she was just a little girl. The most cherished memories Izzie has of her mother are the ones of her teaching her how to swim. She has inherited this talent from her mother and she puts it to use by working as a lifeguard at the pier and by teaching swimming classes at the community center of her neighborhood. While working as a lifeguard, she meets a guy who surfs there and they become very friendly, making Izzie realize that she might be developing feelings for him, but refusing to act on them.

Mirabelle, also known as Mira, is the rich kid who has always had it all. From the most popular girl in school, Savannah, being her best friend, to her football player boyfriend and extensive wardrobe. Mira is a girl with good feelings and she is sometimes torn between the cruel decisions she is forced to go with in order to please her best friend. As the book is told from alternating points of view, when you are reading Mira's you can't help but think that she really is afraid of her friend, and what going against the Savannah will cost her. Mira is concerned with the superficial (friends, status, etc) and being a Senator's daughter doesn't help either, since she has to keep a professional and pleasant appearance at all times, so as not to jeopardize her father's chances in the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, Izzie goes on with her life, trying to hide her grandmother's worsening condition from the social worker that often visits her, until the day the inevitable can no longer be avoided and grandma is taken to a home. Izzie is told that she has an uncle who is a Senator and has agreed to become her guardian. He is Mira's father. Izzie is taken to his mansion and introduced to this whole new lifestyle that she is not accustomed too. She has trouble at school because the rich kids don't want to accept her and while her aunt begs Mira to stay close to Izzie and make her feel welcome, it just seems that Mira lets her friends dictate who Mira is allowed to become friends with. Lots of drama and sabotaging goes on in school trying to scare Izzie away and Mira does nothing to stop it, afraid of losing her status all because she wanted to stand up for what's right.

I absolutely adored this book and its characters. I felt the frustration each girl felt with the things that happened to them. With Izzie I felt her despair for not being able to care for her grandmother the way she wanted to, and for being powerless to choose her own path. With Mira I felt her fear of losing it all, because of this new person in her life who she is supposed to love as a sister. Her motives were selfish but understandable in some ways. She really didn't know any better. There is a huge revelation towards the end of the book that I won't include in this review, but it is a very important one, so I suggest you pick up the boy and check it out. It was a fast, yet lite, read, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. 4 Stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Disenchantments

The Disenchantments - Nina LaCour I went into this book expecting to read a light, fluffy story about kids in a band who go abroad. I couldn't be farther from the truth. This story is about making life altering decisions, those that every teenager is faced with at the end of their high school careers. The Runaways, Heart, and other 80's girl bands all take part in the soundtrack of what is the life of the characters in this book.

I had my doubts, at first, about the nature of Colby and Bev's relationship. Are they together? Are they just best friends? but my questions were answered shortly after when it is revealed that Colby is in fact, head over heels over Bev and the unofficial groupie of the worst girl band in history, The Disenchantments. I liked Colby a lot. He's the good guy who can't catch a break with the girl he likes. He's in the best-friend zone and he can't get away from it, because Bev won't see him as anything but, even though she knows exactly how he feels towards her.

I honestly didn't like Bev one bit. I didn't appreciate the way she treated, used, and lied to Colby. On the flip side, I thought that Colby was way too attached and shouldn't have let Bev dictate the course of his life the way she had always done. Okay, so they had plans to go abroad after graduation, and Bev bailed on him and applied to College, but still, there's always community college that he could have gone to the first year while he applies to another school.

All in all, the story was good. There were times that I was frustrated with the two main characters, and there were times when I wasn't sure where the story was going, but I slowly realized that every element in the story was put there for a reason. For example, Colby's mother painted a bird that became the artwork for his father's band back in his day, this bird happened to appear in a photo album of tattoos that were done a while ago, and a search for the person with this tattoo resulted in Colby eventually finding out what he wanted to do with his life. This is a cute, coming of age story, that will appeal to music lovers and road trip enthusiasts alike. I rate it 3 stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Pure

Pure - Julianna Baggott I will get right down to it. This book was creepy, disturbing, and frankly disrupted my ability to have a good night sleep for nights, but boy was it ever worth it. I liked it! This book reminded me of how I felt when I read the first book of the Hunger Games. The desperation, the despair, the disconsolation I felt for the characters in this book was so overwhelming at times that I often had to put the book down and collect my thoughts. In the midst of all of that though, I felt like this one one of the best books I've read in 2012 so far. So well told, and felt so real, that it flat out scared me. Beware this book is not for the faint of heart.

Pressia is almost 16 years old, the age age where all survivors of the Detonations that ended the world as we know it, must report and serve the OSR (the corrupt government that has taken over) either as a soldier or as a live target. She lives with her grandfather in an old barber shop, whose roof was half ripped off by the detonations, scared for what awaits her when she turns 16. Does she run away now or does she accept her bleak future. You see, Pressia is not an ordinary girl. No one in this new, wretched world, is ordinary. Everyone has been affected in some way by the Detonations, an explosion of nuclear proportions that either killed you instantly, or if you are a survivor like Pressia, fused you permanently to whatever was near you at the time. Pressia herself is burned and fused. Half her face is burned and one of her hands is no longer a hand, now permanently fused to the doll she was carrying when the Detonations went off. The doll has become her hand, and the only thing left of her childhood.

This book is full of fascinating characters, each with their own fascinating stories of survival to tell. A boy whose back became fused with birds, wings fluttering and beaks encrusted in his skin. The grandfather fused with a fan, lodged in his throat. The groupies, or a large group of people who became fused together, into one large body with many arms and legs. And the Dusts, creatures once human who have become fused with the dirt and grab people from the ground and eat them alive. Wretches is what they are called in the Dome, a species that is no longer purely human, all victims of mutations, fusings with other species and objects. Even newborn babies are born mutated or deformed, because the mutations are so deep within their DNA, that not even their offspring can escape their fate. All of this a far cry, in Pressia's mind, from the world inside the dome. A benevolent presence in the horizon, a haven where she knows people live, free of the effects of the detonations, and that one day she hopes will come back down to the ravaged earth and help the survivors.

Partridge is 2 years older than Pressia and lives in the dome, aware that he is fortunate to be there, knowing what happened on the outside. The Detonations is a known fact, but no one in the dome has suffered the effects. Inside this dome, artificial air flows, people's genetic material is coded to be faster, stronger, smarter. Behavior is modified if someone becomes trouble or asks too many questions. Everyone must act like they love and are thankful for being there, and no one is allowed to question authority. It is the epitome of a perfect society, but without any freedoms. People like him are called Pures outside of the dome, because they have no marks, no burns on their bodies, their genes are not mutated or fused with animals or objects. Pure as the human race once was before the Detonations.

Something happens that pushes Partidge to escape out of the Dome, and into the outside world, where he hasn't been since he was a child. Once his path crosses with Pressia, they are both taken on a wild ride where they both realize their lives, their histories, are more interconnected than they realize, and that the truth is bigger than either of them could have ever imaged. Pressia, Partridge, and the companions that join them along the way, must overcome every obstacle this new cruel and hopeless world throws at them. What is there to live and fight for when the only things they have ever known prove to be different? I for one, can't wait to find out in book 2 how this story unravels. A must-read for fans of Dystopian fiction.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Incarnate

Incarnate - Jodi Meadows Imagine a world where when you die, you have the absolute certainty that you will come back, reincarnated in a new body, male or female. This is the world of Incarnate. There had always been a total of one million souls in Range, until the day that Ciana died and their temple went dark. Five years later, when everyone was expecting Ciana to come back, instead a new soul was born. Someone who had never been born before, someone not reincarnated.

Ana spends her childhood sheltered, living in shame away from Heart, the city where she was born. Seen as a threat because she replaced Ciana and the looming uncertainty if this will happen to others as well. Her mother, Li, treats her with cruelty and contempt and all Ana has to look forward to is the day when she can finally leave Li and go off on her own back to heart to search for answers about why and how she was born. On her way she is attacked and almost drowns, only to be saved by a boy of her same age in his current body, but who has been reincarnated many times. An old soul.

Ana is reluctant at first to accept any help, because she is so used to being treated badly, like she isn't worth anything, but Sam starts to slowly gain her trust and takes care of her until they finally make the trip back to Heart to search for the answers Ana so desperately wants. Once they arrive at Heart, Ana gets to finally meet people, besides her mother and the people who seldom visited them, and is regarded differently by different people. There are those who hate her because the see her as the reason Ciana didn't come back and a constant reminder that at any point any of them could be replaced, and those who befriend her, because after all, it's not her fault she was born.

While in Heart, Ana embarks in a mission to learn as much as she can about the past and why she came to be. Unsure of whether she herself will be reincarnated, Ana is constantly reminded of her questionable immortality by those in charge. The land where they live is often attacked by creatures such as dragons and sylph, and though others could fight with confidence that if they die, they can at least come back, Ana cannot just doesn't have that luxury. Ana starts to discover things about the city and it's leaders that put her at risk. Someone apparently doesn't want Ana snooping around the archives and asking questions, for fear of what she might actually uncover.

I was interested in this strange world with strange creatures. I found myself trying to figure out all the things that can possibly go wrong with people being reincarnated all the time, in different bodies and different genders. Even the book mentions how some people were not allowed to breed because of fear of strange genetic conditions popping up. Someone who was your mother in a previous life could end up being your boyfriend in another, and the fact that you got to retain your memories from all your past lives makes for an awkward situation. Definitely kept me scratching my head trying to make sense of it all while I read the book. I identified with the main character in the sense that she was always treated like a child, and that frustrated her to no end, because she was not clueless or hopeless, she was just inexperienced. I know the feeling.

I think this book was a good read. It's not something I would wait in line at B&N for, but definitely a good, entertaining story that presents a unique type of future. There is no reference to the past as a fallen society, so I'm unsure if this qualifies as a dystopia. Nevertheless, I give it 3 stars and a recommendation to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy read.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Everneath

Everneath - Brodi Ashton What do you get when you take Greek mythology, sprinkle in some paranormal, some ancient Egyptian elements, and transport it to modern day society? You get Brodi Ashton's Everneath. I enjoyed this book so very much although in the beginning I was quite confused and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. The book starts out with the main character, Nikki, coming back from the Everneath (a world between worlds, between life and death, where you could live forever) and constantly changes point of view, from the time before she was gone and what led up to it, and what happens after.

Nikki is a 17 year old girl who one day just up and disappeared without a trace. Six months later, she comes back, looking very different and acting very strangely. What no one knows is that Nikki has been gone for a century (in Everneath, and not human years) and is only back for a few months before she has to go back. She also didn't come back alone. A boy named Cole who was the one responsible for her going to the Everneath is back looking for her, trying to lure her back and not taking no for an answer.

Nikki's time on the surface is limited and she uses it trying to mend relationships that were severed upon her mysterious disappearance. Her relationship with her father after her mother's death, her friendship with BFF Jules, and most importantly her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Jack since that was the biggest reason for her returning. Once her time is up, she must choose to either return to the Everneath with Cole, where she can be an Ever-Living all the while draining energy from unsuspecting humans in order to survive, or go to the tunnels, she she will be stuck forever in darkness.

I felt very heartbroken for Nikki once it was revealed what was the series of events that led to her demise, and now that she was back she was trying to hard to get her life back, all the while knowing that she couldn't really stay, no matter what she did. She wanted to be with the ones she loved, but at the same time didn't want to build their hopes up at her return, because she knew she wasn't going to be around for long.

The love triangle in this book is sort of unique. Nikki is not head over heels over Cole, she actually hates him, but is tied to him in very profound ways. He will not leave her alone and becomes her shadow, when all she wants is for him to go away and leave her alone. Jack, on the other hand, is the boy she actually loves and cares for, and he's the one who she came back for. He had a lot to do with her disappearance and he will do anything he can to get her back, the problem is that Nikki is keeping her distance, so as not to hurt him. Can she trust Jack with her truth? Can she escape her fate of going back to the tunnels or to the Everneath? Can she actually get her life back?

I highly recommend this book. It was very well written, the words flowed, and the plot had very nice progression. Although you got bits and pieces at a time, you actually felt like you were going to get the whole story eventually. I'm glad I stuck with it and I can hardly wait for the sequel. 4 Stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Tempest: A Novel

Tempest - Julie Cross Jackson Meyer is our time traveler hero, who knows about of his ability, but not quite aware of the extent to which he can it. In this story, time travel as Jackson knows it, does not affect the future. He could jump (or travel through time) half an hour into the past, make a big change, then come back to the present and everything would be right how he left it. No consequences, no repercussions. That is until the day Jackson and his girlfriend Holly are attacked and during the struggle Holly gets shot. Jackson panics and attempts to jump, not sure of when (not where) he is jumping to, and finds himself two years in the past, in 2007.

Jackson tries without success to jump back to 2009, but every attempt takes him even further into the past, where he tries to make a connection with his now deceased sister. Each one of these attempts are temporary and brings him right back to 2007, where Jackson is realizing that he is stuck, and no longer able to make it back to his own year 2009. Jackson tries to make the best our of a bad situation and seeks his girlfriend Holly (who isn't yet his girlfriend in 2007) and his friend Adam who he had confided to in 2009 about his time travel abilities.

Friendships are renewed, romances rekindled, and family loyalty becomes questionable in Jackson's new world. He finds that his abilities entail more than he could even dream of and he is forced to make a choice that could mean the end of the world as we know it, or his happiness.

I normally, scratch that, most of the time, find books about time travel very difficult to read and comprehend. Tempest is one of those books that start off slow, keeping you guessing, not quite understanding where the plot is going, until it picks up in a big way towards the end. I think Tempest will be one of those books that will be better as a movie, although as a book it was pretty good as well. Though it is a very interesting plot, I believe it will most likely translate better visually, than it does on paper. I applaud Julie Cross for tackling this subject and keeping a consistent timeline. I think I would have enjoyed this book more had it been more past-paced towards the beginning, or even the middle. The fact that it started off so slow caused me to loose a bit of interest in the story. It didn't quite grab me at the start, but it packed a bunch of action at the end that was indeed very entertaining. I give this book 3 stars, because even though it didn't start out as my favorite, it proved worth it in the end.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Fracture

Fracture - Megan Miranda Delaney was supposed to be dead. After falling through the thin ice of a lake, she was under water and without oxygen for exactly 11 minutes. Even though she is being kept alive by machines, the doctors and everyone else has dismissed Delaney as already dead or basically just a vegetable. After 6 days, Delaney miraculously wakes up from her coma and surprises even her doctors when she is coherent and seemingly completely normal. A catscan reveals that Delaney's brain is mostly damaged and that scientifically there is no explanation for her looking and acting like she was never brain dead.

As Delaney physically recovers from her accident she discovers that she now has a physical reaction to when someone around her is going to die. Her fingers start shaking and she feels a strong pull toward the dying. Following this pull brings her face to face with Troy, another accident victim that died and miraculously came back. Troy lost his entire family in the accident that almost took his life, so in turn he is very disturbed and has taken it upon himself to show Delaney what they are meant to do with this ability of being able to know when someone is about to die. Problem is, that Delaney doesn't agree with Troy's methods and philosophy and wants to believe that there is another way.

We are introduced to a love triangle as well. Delaney's friend since they were kids, Decker, was the one who pulled her out of the lake and performed CPR on her until the ambulance got there. He is possibly the reason she is still alive and her best friend in the whole world. He is also the first boy that ever ever kissed her (although it was on a dare) and the only person who understands her. There is a lot of awkwardness and tension between Decker and Delaney as they both discover that they cannot live without each other.

"What would you do if you only had one day to live?" is what Delaney wants to know of the people around her as she watches her loved ones fall apart under the pressure of Delaney's almost-death and her behavior ever since she came back. Although Delaney is back from the dead, she is not the same Delaney everyone knew. Death had changed her. I quite enjoyed this book, although I was lost at times with Delaney's inner monologue and her train of though felt disjointed at times. I would recommend it though for the paranormal element and give it 3 stars.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Hallowed: An Unearthly Novel

Hallowed - Cynthia Hand NOTE: This review contains some spoilers from the first book.

I picked up Hallowed right after listening to the Unearthly audiobook. Never in my life did I imagine I was going to be taken through such an emotional roller coaster. Major tissue paper alert with this book! You have been warned.
The story picks up right where Unearthly left off, right after the fire and Clara's uncertainty about what she was supposed to do on that day, save Christian (who didn't really need saving) or save Tucker, the guy she's in love with. Clara rightfully feels like destiny's playing a mean trick on her.

Clara suddenly begins to have a new vision, which she is at first unsure is actually a vision since she's having it during her sleep, like a dream. Her vision imvolves a funeral and seems to tell her that someone close to her will die. Judging by the people not present in her vision, she assumes this person is Tucker.
Meanwhile, Angela forms an "Angel Club" and recruits Clara, Christian, and Clara's brother as members. They begin to learn thins about each other and what they can do as angelbloods, as well as compare notes and opinions on what Clara's vision means. Eager to help her is Christian, who has developed an obsession with Clara, convinced that she is his purpose and destiny, while Clara refuses to reciprocate because she is in love with Tucker. Clara vows to watch over Tucker and prevent at all costs what she sees in her vision to come true, going against her purpose and causing a lot of friction between her and her mother.

We are suddenly thrown into the world of black wings, whom we were introduced to in book 1, and Clara struggles to find a way to battle them using Glory. Clara has sudden moments where she feels sorrow, a sign that a black wing is nearby, throwing an element of suspense throughout the book. Clara's mother revelals a bit more information to Clara, but always holding back, not giving more than she thinks is necessary, and irritating Clara to no end.

There is a big revelation towards 3/4 of the book that I will not mention in this review (you will have to read the book), but it's HUGE and it involves Clara's estranged father. We also find out more about Clara's vision and who is the person that the funeral is for. This is where the tissues will come in handy.

The end will leave you with a sense of yearning and loss that I myself have only experienced with a handful of books. I became so attached to all the characters in this book, and although this book is not the last in the series, it had an air of finality, like I'd lost a loved one myself. It moved me deeply and I may or may not have cried like a baby when I finished this book. I give it 4 stars. Excellent, EXCELLENT sequel. Can't wait to read the conclusion to this very moving story when the third book in the series comes out.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Unearthly

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand I'm a fan of books about angels, and when I read Unearthly's synopsis I just knew I had to read it. I had received a review copy of Unearthly's sequel, Hallowed, and of course couldn't very well review the sequel without reading the first book so I purchased the audiobook. It was simply one of the best decisions I ever made.

Unearthly introduces us to Clara, a young California girl who is anything but ordinary. She is an angelblood, a descendant from the union of an angel and a human, or in her case, of another angelblood and a human. This mix makes her a Quartarius, or 1/4 angel and 3/4 human. There is no secret as to what Clara is and what is expected of her. From a very young age her mother, another angelblood, revealed to Clara and her brother that they are angelbloods and that they will start seeing visions of their "purpose" or what they were put on this earth for. Every angelblood has a purpose and it is known to them that they are supposed to complete it, no questions asked.
Clara begins having her visions which involve a guy and a forest fire. Clara is unsure of what her vision is telling her to do since the visions come in pieces, revealing more and more each time she has one. With her mother's help, they figure out that the vision takes place in Wyoming. This revelation prompts her family's relocation, and Clara goes from being a popular Cali girl to the new girl at Jackson Hole High.

The story progresses as Clara meets the guy in her vision, Christian, and does anything possible to get his attention, to the point of becoming obsessed with him. Her vision becomes more detailed and comes on at random times, frustrating Clara as she doesn't know exactly what is expected of her, but she assumes that she is supposed to save Christian from this forest fire.

Clara's purpose is thrown for a loop when another guy injects himself into Clara's life, becoming her new focus and in the process angering her mother. We as the readers are introduced to a love triangle as well as a whole new world of angels, good and bad. Should Clara follow her heart or follow her destiny?

I for one adored this book. I loved the story and loved the characters even more. Clara's mother is at the top of my list, being a mother myself, level-headed and wise although she did frustrate me many times with her secrecy, not revealing to Clara information that seemed key to her figuring out her purpose. Clara's brother reminded me so much of my own son, sports obsessed and unwilling to to hold back just to seem normal. Clara's friends who welcomed her to a new school with open arms. Finally Tucker, oh forever Team Tucker.

Cynthia hand does a marvelous job with this book. Wonderfully well written and captivating, you will be unable to put this book down, or in my case, to press pause. The audiobook's narrator does a great job as well with Clara's voice, keeping within the slower tempo of the story, and with changing her voice over to the different characters, making those who are older sound older, etc. I give this book 5 stars. It simply blew me away and I totally recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the Hush Hush and Mortal Instruments series, or just simply likes to read a well-told coming of age story.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Destiny's Fire

Destiny's Fire - Trisha Wolfe I feel very honored to be a part of this blog tour, especially after reading the book. This is seriously one amazing book that I believe fans of The Mortal Instruments and Hush Hush series will definitely enjoy this. It contains steampunk and action goodness, not to mention a pretty steamy-hot love triangle.

Dez (short for Destiny) is a girl that grew up hiding her true identity. Having been raised as one of the Shythe (a nearly extinct race of shape shifters), Dez was always taught that the Narcolym (another, stronger, race of shape shifters) are the enemy and responsible for the low number of Shythe still left in the world. Both the Shythe and the Narcolym are part of a larger race, Kythan, descendants from guardians to the Egyptian pharaohs, and dependent on humans' need for them, even though humans are not aware of their existence. Every Kythan, Shythe and Narcolym alike, goes through a transformation at age 17, where they are marked and develop their powers. The Shythe, who are known for having glowing blue eyes, are given the power of charge (passing electric currents). The Narcolym, whose distinguishing feature is their glowing red eyes, are given the power of flame.

Dez lives with her mother in Haven Falls, the last safe for the Shythe in which protection spells protect the border from being infiltrated by Narcolym. Talks of a possible a peace treaty between the Shythe and Narcolym councils has Dez and her friends nervous of because the Narcolym cannot be trusted. Her friends, Lana, Jace and Nick, who are also triplets, secretly train for an impending battle, headed up by Jace . Dez discovers that although the triplets and she have been friends since they were little, she is starting to develop feelings for Jace, who apparently feels the same way about her, though both are too shy to admit it to one another.

Dez's world comes apart the day that the without warning the barriers are lowered by the council and the Narcolym freely enter her Haven Falls. This brings on an unexpected encounter with a Narcolym named Reese who changes Dez's life forever. You see, Dez has a secret. While all the Shythe's eyes are blue and the Narco's are red, hers are neither. Hers are violet, product of her mother being Shythe, and her father being Narco. A half breed, a product of an experiment that supposedly went wrong and wasn't supposed to survive, and in hiding with her mother as long as can remember. Dez is forced from a young age to disguise the color of her eyes using lenses and fears most of all what will happen the day of her transformation, will her power be flame or charge, or both.

I became highly invested in the world that Trisha Wolfe has created. It was refreshing to read about other types of shape-shifters, something new, something fresh, something I had not heard of before. I can't get enough of this story and can't wait to read know more about this Kythan world. The steampunk is an added plus to my already growing obsession with these characters. Jace is that boy next door, gentle, caring, and good looking. Reese is the super hot bad boy, the one you do not bring home to mom. Lana is that token loyal friend every girl should have. Finally, Nick is the one who reminds us all, that it's not all business, sometimes you just have to relax and let go. 5 stars all the way for this book. I'm not kidding. You guys need to read this like now. You can thank me later.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky  - Veronica Rossi Another great release this January, Under the Never Sky delivers everything I expect from a good dystopian. I loved the characters, loved the plot, loved the premise. It's sometime in the future and after the planet has been ravaged by strong energy storms caused by an ever-present Aether in the sky, part of humanity has been forced to retreat to pods or safe places where they live their whole lives enclosed in order to feel safe. In order to live their lives with some kind of normalcy and to not die of boredom out of being trapped inside the pods, scientists invented the Realms, virtual worlds where people are able to create their own virtual realities, change their appearance, or visit any place with a simple thought. Aria, the main character, grew up in one of these pods and these realms are all she knows.

Aria's life changes one day as she agrees to accompany a group of friends who end up breaking into a pod that has been abandoned. As they disconnect from the realms and step into reality, some of them can't handle the change and begin a fire that spins out of control, causing destruction and death. While insanity takes over the group and Aria gets attacked, an Outsider named Perry who had broken in to steal medicines, watches from a tree above. He steps in to help an unconscious Aria and brings her to safety by enclosing her in a separate chamber where the fire never reached.

When Aria wakes up she finds that her life has completely changed. As one of the two survivors of the incident, and the other one being the one who attached her and son of a powerful man, she is being blamed for the entire thing. She defends herself, placing the blame on the guilty party, so to silence her she is thrown out into the real world, with no way of defending herself or a chance or survival. Perry finds her and develops an anger towards her because he lost someone close as a consequence of helping her before. He has set out to find his nephew Talon who was kidnapped by Dwellers, the people that live in pods such as Aria did before, so he makes a deal with Aria to become allies. Perry's goal is to find his nephew and Aria's to find her mom, who Aria lost touch with and is unaware of what has happened with her.

Aria and Perry set out on a journey where they both learn things about themselves and each other that they weren't aware of. They both struggle trying to accept their new realities, both in mourning over people and lives lost. Everything they've ever known to be true is questioned and an unlikely partnership, and love, slowly builds under the never sky.

I think what I liked most about the story was the way that Aria and Perry got to know each other well before they were able to accept that they even liked each other. No insta-love alerts went off in my head and I truly appreciated that. I felt that a lot of questions were left unanswered at the end and I was a bit frustrated by that, but since this will be a series I expect answers to be revealed in subsequent books. I give this book 4 stars out of 5. An awesome read and my last book of 2011. What a great way to end the year.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles

Cinder - Marissa Meyer Make no mistake, this is no common Cinderella story, this is Cinderella...the new and improved version. When I read the book description the first thoughts that went through my mind were "Another Cinderella story?", "Cinderella is a Cyborg?", and "Lunar people?". All these doubts were put aside though as I read through the book and fell completely and utterly in love with the spunky and tenacious Cinder, our heroine.

Cinder is not a regular girl, she isn't even fully human, at least 36.28% of her. Having been turned Cyborg (human with mechanical parts and improvements) at a young age, and having no recollection of the event, Cinder has 1 (not 2) wicked step-sister and a step-mother that can make anyone cry. Cinder would cry at all her step-mother makes her go through, except her tear ducts were removed during her cyborg operation, giving people the impression that she has no emotion, something that couldn't be farther from the truth. Cinder having a mechanical leg and hand, which she covers up with pants and gloves, struggles with not being able to fit in with those that know what she is.

One fine day, she meets Prince Kai, who comes in to her shop seeking her services as a mechanic. He is unaware of Cinder's situation but is instantly smitten with her. In the meantime, there is a plague ravaging the planet, taking people's lives in a matter of day. Without a cure found, the government of New Beijing has resorted to drafting cyborgs to use a test subjects to find a cure, forcing them to risk their lives for the rest of humanity. Cinder's other step-sister, the one who is not evil, falls ill and Cinder is volunteered as a test subject by her evil step-mother. The series of events that happen after poses a very curious and difficult situation for Cinder and puts her again in Prince Kai's path. Is she immune to the plague and why? Does she hold answer to the cure to the plague deep in her DNA? Does she reveal to Kai that she is in fact a Cyborg?

This book was so good it's hard to put into words and do it justice. An excellent debut by Marissa Meyer. I'm excited to read the upcoming books in this series and I highly recommend it for any age. Absolutely a must read. I give it 5 stars because it definitely blew me away.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Gabriel's Inferno

Gabriel's Inferno - Sylvain Reynard I would like to begin this review by stating that this story is not YA. Although most of the books I review are YA, I do read adult books as well. This book is one of those.

I think I can get your attention by summarizing this book with three little words: sexy, sensual, romantic. This book has all three and then some. The first thing that caught my eye was the mere size of the book. At 500+ pages I knew I was in for an intense book with lots going on, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be taken on a wild emotional ride. Sylvain Reynard is an extremely talented writer. He has a very special way with words. His master of the English language is such that the words he writes will sing to you. That is how strongly I felt about this book.

Julia Mitchell goes off to Toronto to attend graduate school and what she finds is a pretentious, overbearing professor, Gabriel Emerson, who seemingly picks on her since the beginning. He gives Julia an extremely hard time and she can't figure out why, until she overhears him talk about a recent death in his family that she believes is the cause of his attitude. A huge misunderstanding ensues because unbeknownst to Professor Emerson, Julia might not be a stranger after all but actually someone from his past who he is having trouble remembering. Old, confused feelings, resurface and he is faced with the challenge of having to earn Julia's trust after the way he initially treated her. She is extremely shy and innocent. So innocent in fact, that she has trouble understanding why people "can't just be nice". The fact that she is so sweet, innocent, and also pretty, makes her the target of many. She invokes in others mixed feelings such as jealousy, admiration, and even obsession.

Prof. Gabriel Emerson, is an expert in the art of seduction and a Dante specialist. This fact coupled with the fact that he is good looking and well off financially, makes him the perfect womanizer. Gabriel frequents a night club where he meets and sleeps with different women every night. He is what seems only interested in purely sexual and not any meaningful relationships. Gabriel has a dark past, a past he doesn't like to talk about. He struggles with the fact that no matter how smart and successful he has become, he is still the black sheep of his family due to his short temperament and bad choices in the past.

Julia and Gabriel establish a rocky relationship from the beginning, knowing that they are violating rules with their teacher-student link. As the reader, I was immediately invested in their affair, feeling the despair and desperation that came with trying to make things work out with a less than favorable situation. I fell in love with the main characters. Their personalities translated so well on paper I felt like I knew them and I wanted so bad for things to work out for them. There will be a Gabriel's Inferno Part 2 which I am dying to read already because these characters have become a part of me. I miss them already. Needless to say I highly recommend this book to any adult. 5 Huge stars!

Note: Little fact about this book. It was published once as a fan fiction for a popular book series, but was later published. Good thing too, otherwise I might have never read it.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

Every Other Day

Every Other Day - Jennifer Lynn Barnes Preternatural creatures, Zombies, Hellhounds, Vampires, Chupacabras, and everything else that goes bump in the night. You name it, our heroine Kali, has fought it and won. Kali, who might otherwise seem like a normal girl, not quite Indian, not quite white, and with unnaturally sharp fingernails, is not quite human either, at least every other day.

Every other day, Kali undergoes a transformation. From human to something else not even she knows what it is. Unaware of how or why she is this way, once Kali goes into predator mode, nothing can stop her and she is relentless at hunting down those creatures of the night. Her blood, too sweet for these creatures to resist, was also poison to them. That coupled with the fact that she didn't feel pain, made her almost invincible.

That was only temporary though, for every other day Kali changed back into a regular, average human, with no special powers and no extra strength. A nerve wracking period where she would count down to her next change, like a ticking time bomb, while aware that she was completely vulnerable and exposed to her enemies.

I enjoyed reading from Kali's POV. She was straight and to the point when it came to accepting what she was. Her determination in saving someone's life, even when she was not in super human form, made me admire her even more. Her relationship with her father, or lack thereof, was heartbreaking, and even though she acted like it didn't matter, I felt her underlying pain. I connected with character quite a bit.

I was, however, unable to connect with the rest of the characters in the book, except for Skylar, the bubbly maybe-maybe not psychic friend of Kali's. Bethany, Zev, and the others felt very detached to me, and their personalities were boring, in my opinion. I also felt that the last 1/4 f the book was rushed and I lost my way through the plot as I struggled to make sense of the revelations that were taking place.

I did enjoy that this book reminded me a bit of Buffy, so I would recommend this book to fans of the paranormal, who like their heroines tough and likable but with not-so-strong secondary characters. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)

The Girl in the Box

The Girl in the Box - Sheila Dalton Every once in a while you read a book that mimics real life, the stuff you hear in the news, the stuff you never think can happen to you or someone you love. This is that kind of book. Sheila Dalton tells us the story of Jerry Simpson, a Canadian psychoanalyst on vacation in Guatemala; Of Inez, a young mute Mayan girl who he found chained up and locked up in a shed that resembled something like a box (thus the title) and whom he rescues and brings to Canada with him; And of As Caitlin, Jerry's partner back in Canada, who after getting close with Inez and caring for her, one day finds out that Jerry has been murdered and Inez is the likely culprit.

Dalton has a way with the written word and with telling this heart-gripping story about hope, love, and doing what's right. What would you do if you suddenly found out your loved one was killed by another person you cared for who is mentally unstable? Would you condemn the killer or would you try to understand him/her condition? Caitlin is torn between helping Inez get the help she needs or get justice for Jerry, the love of her life.

I was a bit hesitant when I started reading this book, mostly because the issues it deals with (murder, autism, immigrant status) seemed too somber and difficult to read about, but as I kept progressing through the book, I realized this book is about more than that. It is about compassion and the human condition, about loving someone unconditionally, and about doing what's right. This book is an absolute great read.

(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)