Archive for January, 2015

Goodreads.com Description: “Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most. “

My Thoughts:

This was another great story by Lauren Oliver! She is quickly becoming one of my must read authors. I can count on Oliver delivering an intriguing plot, well-developed characters and vivid descriptions.

Panic did have a misstep for me in Dodge Mason and his family. I could have used more description so that I could better visualize these characters. Fortunately, it didn’t take away from his story. He’s one of those characters that you’d like to read about in a novella. There are layers to his personality and Panic only hit a few.

The remaining characters in Oliver’s tale shined. I especially loved the character of Heather. Readers should easily be able to identify with Heather. She was a smart girl who was much stronger than she realized. Another memorable character was Bishop. He reminded me a lot of what Kent from Before I Fall would have been like if we had spent more time with him. Another character that stuck out for me was Nat. She was the pretty little girl who wanted to be so much more. Unfortunately, she was the type who would fall for anything just to achieve something. And, like Heather, Nat didn’t realize her strengths.

A great aspect of Panic was the development of the relationships. Each friendship was fully developed. I came to understand why the characters interacted the way they did. By the end of the book, I was sympathizing with Dodge. He finally realized what he had missed staying isolated.

The descriptions of the town of Carp, New York truly worked. Oliver did a fantastic job of relating the despair of its residents. I could easily visualize those who lived on Meth Row and the Fresh Pines trailer park. Anne’s home and ranch were a breath of fresh air for a teen who grew up in such a poor environment.

At first I thought the theme of Panic was conquering your fears. But, by the end of the book, I realized that it was about finding your strengths. We all have fears, big and small. But, not everyone finds what they’re good at–their strengths. Fortunately, Oliver’s characters learn that lesson in the end.

I highly recommend reading Panic.

Have you read all of Lauren Oliver’s young adult books? Then, be sure to pick up a copy of Vanishing Girls due out in March.

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Two More Chapters Ready to Read!

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Read Chapter 7 of My YA Novel!

Posted: January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Read Chapter 6 of My Novel

Posted: January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Do you have comments? Don’t hesitate to send them directly to me at sbenson64@gmail.com!

Description: “ABOUT AN UNTIMELY ROMANCE: Heather Richardson is a seventeen-year-old British girl whose life quickly becomes an emotional roller coaster when she meets Ruben Brown, a twenty-year-old man who works for her father at Freesdon Manor. As much as Heather wants to love Ruben, the cracks in their relationship begin to show as her eighteenth birthday draws nigh. In a surprising turn of events Heather is confronted by Frank, an intriguing man from a past that dates back to the nineteenth century. His untimely presence changes everything. When she’s thrown back in time by an unrelenting force, Heather realizes that her life is not what it appears to be. Her future has already been written, and it seems she cannot escape her fate, a fate determined by a love lost long ago. In her struggle to find herself, Heather must chose her destiny amidst a dangerous love triangle, vengeful lovers, and passions controlled by the hands of time. “

I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

Untimely by J & L Wells was an interesting read. If you are someone who appreciates romance and time travel, you may enjoy this story.

For me, the time travel portions were problematic. In all honesty, the story set in the eighteenth century could have stood alone. It was complete with details, description and a plot line involving a gentleman of money and a young servant. I would have been happy to read more about their story and what happened on their night together.

The modern story didn’t work for me. Heather Richardson is a young, impetuous girl who jumps into a relationship with a man she just meets. She falls head over heels in a matter of weeks. Heather travels back in time and suddenly falls in love with another man. But, her flighty mannerisms seemed perfect in the eighteenth century.

The character of Ruben was a little forced. There wasn’t enough detail about him. He was painted as a mysterious man with a temper. There really wasn’t a lot else going on with him. He loved intensely, but, there was no real reason behind it.

The best character for me was Frank Boswel. He was the time traveler going between eighteenth and twenty-first centuries. We get enough back story to really learn about Frank. I was actually cheering for him by the end of the book.

Untimely has its merits–good descriptions, an evolving plot line. If you are a fan of time travel romance, you probably will have no problem with the back and forth story line. There is a second book in this series. It looks to be more involved than book one. The story is intriguing with potentially good characters.

Goodreads.com Description: “With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today’s foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person’s life can affect so many others. For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined. “

My Thoughts:

Lauren Oliver’s first book, Before I Fall, should be required reading in high school. It’s a great book exploring a popular girl’s life and death. But, Oliver’s story is more than just a diary following Samantha Kingston’s day. In my opinion, it’s a look at purgatory and how a person can get out.

“Sam” was the stereotypical popular mean girl. She hung out with friends who were equally mean. They did what they wanted and never paid the price for their exploits. That is, until the day Sam died.

Oliver’s descriptions are excellent in this tale. I could easily visualize every event in Before I Fall. Even the characters stood out for me. Sam and her group would easily be identifiable in any high school, small or large. They were the cute, well-dressed girls who clung together like grapes on a vine. Interactions with the group came only to those who were privileged to do so. But, as Oliver so deftly points out, pay back can be a bear. And, it can happen to you even after you die.

No living person knows what the afterlife looks like, but, Oliver gives us a glimpse. Imagine spending eternity re-living the day you die. If you’re in hell, you have no means of changing it. It just keeps repeating. But, if you’re in purgatory, you may have a chance to end the cycle. Your good acts can get you to Heaven provided you realize what you need to do. And, that’s the premise of Oliver’s book.

I particularly liked the characters in this story. Sam is somebody that you’re not sure whether you should like or hate. At times, you definitely don’t like her. By the end of the book, however, you’re pulling for her. You want her to have one more day. The other characters are equally strong especially Kent and Lindsay. By the end of the book, you hope they learned a lesson. But, I somehow doubt it.

I was surprised that I didn’t get tired of re-living each day with Sam. Oliver didn’t just recap the previous day. Instead more details are given each time. You keep reading because you’re hoping for a different outcome too. And, just like Sam, you’re disappointed to find you’re still on the same day. So, you plow ahead to the next day….

I became a fan of Lauren Oliver after reading her Delirium series. I wish I had discovered her sooner. This book was an excellent read that should be read by all–not just young adults!

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Goodreads.com Description: “After months of searching, Ember and her friends have finally located the Sword of Light, the only weapon capable of destroying Queen Aneira and ending her rule. This is Ember’s destiny. Or so she thought. Now a pact to save the man she loves changes everything. In this final installment in the Darkness Series, when the truth comes to light, Ember will learn some things are better left in the dark as her world is ripped even further apart. It is no longer a rabbit hole, but a never-ending black void full of endless lies, betrayals, and secrets. The fight for Earth has begun, and Ember will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save millions of innocent lives and those she loves. But this price may be too high—even for her.”

My Thoughts:

Blood Beyond Darkness is a Mature YA(16+)/New Adult Paranormal Romance.
**Warning: The Darkness Series is not YA, but a NA Series.

Stacey Marie Brown’s paranormal Darkness Series culminates with a war between Light and Dark. There is a prophecy to fulfill and Ember is in the middle of it.

Brown packs a lot in this last installment. Wars are always about endings and beginnings. The same is true of this book. We see the end to some relationships (Eli and Ember, Jared and Kennedy) and the beginnings of others (Gabby and Aliki, Kennedy and Lorcan). We lose characters we have grown to love. We even have friendships restored and new ones started.

Blood Beyond Darkness is about strength. Can you be strong enough to do your job even if means losing what you love? That’s the prevailing theme throughout this book. Ember continues to grow stronger with the thought of fulfilling a prophecy in the back of her mind. She’s obligated and even compelled to live up to her duty even though it will cost her the love of her life.

I love how Brown dealt with the theme. We get a character who has matured over the four novels. She’s still fiercely loyal to her family which has also grown through the series. I’ve read other female protagonists who started out weak and grew strong by the story’s end. But, Ember is strong throughout the series. She’s totally likable (unless you’re Samantha, Aneira or Sheriff Weiss). You care about her and the people she cares about as well.

Brown did an excellent job with all her character development. Samantha, Aneira and Weiss are the only ones that stayed bad guys and you didn’t want them to change. Lorcan becomes someone you can understand and even get to like in time. The Unseelie King really isn’t such a bad guy. And, you even feel sorry for Torin in the end. To be honest, I didn’t want the story to end. That’s how strong the characters and story line were for me.

This is not a Fairy Tale with a happy ending. The prophecy is fulfilled but everything changes. The Otherworld and Earth get merged together. Now humans and fae have to live side by side. Not a good prospect for anyone. It makes for a dangerous world to live in. It gives Ember and her ‘mate’ new jobs.

Thank you Stacey Marie Brown for a thrilling, visual read! I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the Darkness Series. And, don’t worry, the final book does end well. You will not be disappointed.

Be sure to read more about Elighen Dragen in the novella, Beast in The Darkness. You’ll only love his character even more after this quick read.

Brown writes more about Faes and the great storm that hit Seattle (thank you Ember and Aneira) in her next series.

City in Embers, 23531413due in February, is on my must read list.

Goodreads.com Description: “While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a furjacker—a skinjacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins to use in his Wurlitzer, which predicts the future. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth.”

My Thoughts:

Shusterman concludes the Skinjacker Trilogy with a psychological tale. Once again, we follow the exploits of Mary Hightower, Mikey, Nick and Allie. This time we are dealing with their inner struggles in Everlost.

Mary is hellbent on world domination. The only relevant world to Mary is one in which all the children of Everlost can continue to carry out their death in a repetitive forever cycle. Living souls are actually the ones in need of saving.

Poor little Mikey is no longer The McGill. And, now that he realizes he’s in love, he doesn’t care to be a monster either. But, he has to learn that love isn’t any easier in Everlost.

Nick is a shell of his former self. Shusterman lets readers know that you can’t be so focused on a goal that you forget yourself. And, that’s what happened to Nick. He spends the entire book trying to figure out who he was before the Chocolate Ogre.

And, Allie….well, Allie has learned that everyone has a purpose. She learns her and is struggling to do the right thing so that she doesn’t mess up her second chance.

Our four Afterlights are joined by Jinx, a wannabe Mayan who skinjacks animals. He believes that he has been called by the Jaguar gods.

Shusterman lets us know that if you believe something strong enough, it comes true. This is the whole premise of Everlost. Jinx believes he was called by Jaguar gods and so he resembles a wild cat more than a human. The Afterlights believe in a scar wraithe who can extinguish a soul just by touching it. Those who believe fear it. Jinx is the only one who doesn’t believe the tale so it has no effect on him.

In “Everfound” we learn that ultimate power can still corrupt even after life. It was Mary’s and Milos’ ultimate downfall. But, it is possible to be forgiven and get a second chance in life. Nick The Chocolate Ogre returns to his Rod Serling persona. Jinx is reunited with his soul mate, Jackin’ Jill. Mikey is forgiven for being the ultimate monster and finally gets to where he’s going. And, Allie gets the second chance she believed she earned. Even the scar wraithe learns that he has a real purpose and is finally fulfilled.

Shusterman continued to interweave historical references in this final book–The Titanic, Mayan civilization, the first atomic bomb testing site, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Lots of great research done in this series!

I really enjoyed reading this trilogy. If you’re looking for a somewhat lighthearted series, check this one out! The ending is a good one.

Goodreads.com Description: “Some days feel like years, but in Ember Brycin’s case just the opposite is true. Em would be 22 now—if she were human. She’s not. She is a Dae—part Demon and part Fay—with a little Dark Dweller thrown in to make her more of a freak. Life has become further complicated for Ember since returning from the Otherworld. Besides being continuously hunted by the Seelie Queen, Ember is at the top of the Unseelie King’s list, after breaking her oath with him. No one breaks a vow with the Unseelie King without extreme consequences. Adding to Ember’s problems is a certain Dark Dweller whose mood has become violent and cruel. As much as she’d like to deny it, there is an undeniable connection between them. Eli is sexy, gorgeous, and frustrating as hell. She also knows he is holding something back, something that could change their relationship forever. But her problems go way past him. As the tension for war mounts between the Seelie and Unseelie (Light and Dark), the tension at the Dark Dweller’s compound escalates even more as they prepare to obtain the Sword of Light—the only weapon able to kill the Queen. But is Ember the answer to the location of the sword? Is she the one to fulfill the prophecy? As usual nothing is ever what it seems.”

My Thoughts:

DWELLERS OF DARKNESS is a Mature YA(16+)/New Adult Paranormal Romance.

**Warning: The Darkness Series is not YA, but a NA Series.

Another great installment in the Darkness Series! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this ‘not so typical’ paranormal romance. Brown’s storytelling style reminds me a lot of Bertice Small, an adult romance writer. I read Small’s Skye O’Malley series years ago. I never felt like I was reading a romance novel. Instead, it was just a well-crafted, visual tale. I’m finding those same qualities in Stacey Marie Brown’s series.

We rejoin Ember after she has spent time in Otherworld. She didn’t realize that time passes differently in the land of faes. Ember has been away for four years and Eli was not happy.

Ember continues to learn about her heritage and her destiny. But, now she has to help her friend, Kennedy, realize that she’s no ordinary human. Kennedy is a Druid! Talk about plot twists!

The young Dae is dealing with a lot in this book: a more complicated relationship with Eli, knowledge of her mother’s killer, a friend turned traitor (Josh), her pre-birth bond to Torin, an uncle who just happens to be the Unseelie King, a new Demon family and restless Dark Dweller traits. And, to add just a bit more spice to the mix, Lorcan is still tormenting everyone.

Despite Ember’s impulsiveness and stubbornness, she is a very likable character. And, Eli just continues to become a more well-rounded beast. These two are like gasoline and lighter fluid to flames, but, the relationship works.

I especially appreciated the humor that the Pixies, Cal and Simmons, bring to the story. There are ‘laugh out loud’ moments throughout the book. Pixies are major practical jokers and Eli tends to be the source of all their pranks.

Part of me hates that I’m reading the final book in this series. These are characters that you enjoy and hate to leave behind. And, much like Small’s Skye O’Malley series, I see myself re-reading Brown’s series. It’s great reading–intriguing plot, great visuals! The series should be a movie!