Friday, April 27, 2012

The Punk Ethic by Timothy Decker

* * * * 

Back to music, what are songs anyway? They’re crappy little stories. And there are two kinds: the whiny confession. Which suck. And the fictional story. Which suck. All this strumming and singing is a waste. I’m tired of wasting time. I don’t want to tell anybody anything about me. That’s stupid. I don’t want to invent some story. I don’t want to be entertaining. That’s stupid.

I have to do something. Wake up, Martin. Go start something. Go!

If you want to rock, you come out swinging. Well, Martin Henry just made a fist.

Challenged by a teacher to actually “do” something, Martin walks a minefield of idiot friends, an unfathomable Dream Girl, high school, and relative pennilessness to prove that he can change the world.

The funny thing about change, it screws up everything.

 I made a promise to myself at the end of last year that this would be the year of male authors for me.  Not that I would dismiss female authors but that I would make a concerted effort to read books written by men.  As usual I have sucked at sticking with my resolution.

As of April 8, 2012, I have only read 4 books written by men.  That is a sad state of affairs in my opinion.  Something I need to rectify, like yesterday.  Fortunately the books written by male authors that I HAVE read have been fantastic. There was TFIoS by John Green and then Boy Meets Boy and The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.  The fourth one – and the focus of this review - was the Punk Ethic by Timothy Decker.  And all I can say is that Timothy Decker is worthy of being in the same company as Green and Levithan any day of the week and twice on school nights and weekends. 

Martin Henry is a smart-a** punk kid that is pretending to skate through school.  I say pretending because he does his homework and his grades are good.  But if he had his way, you would think he is a rebel without a cause.  Oh wait, thanks to his English teacher’s challenge, he DOES have a cause.  Martin decides to do something “really desperate”.  Something “that’s pathetic, rock-bottom kind of pathetic”.  He’s going to stage a benefit concert to raise money for his newfound cause.  No, I won’t tell you the cause.  That’s a secret that is only given to those smart and angsty enough to read this book.  Oh, and Bel, because I told her.   

This book isn’t just about Martin’s “pathetic” benefit concert.  This book is also about Martin’s social ineptitude and what it takes to finally get him to realize that his life isn’t as bad as he seems to think and maybe, just maybe, there are other people out there with problems worse than his.  In spite of being socially inept, I absolutely loved Martin.  Not in our usual book-boyfriend way, but in a what-a-hilarious-angsty-little-s**t sort of way.  His reaction to adults and his interaction with his friends is just…so…teenage boy.   

I highly recommend this story.  I smiled at every page of this book.  And a book that makes me smile that often is a gem indeed.   


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Immortal Rules: Blood of Eden Book 1 by Julie Kagawa

* * * *

My vampire creator told me this:
“Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. The question is not if it will happen, but when. Do you understand?”

I didn’t then, not really.


Allison Sekemoto survives in the fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep human as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked – and given the ultimate choice. Die … or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allis becomes what she despises most.  To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend – a possible sure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what – and who – is worth dying for.

I’ll admit that I’ve been over the whole vampire genre for a while. With so much out there, it’s kind of hard to imagine that there's something different enough to capture my attention. Julie Kagawa had me devouring each page of this addictive and thrilling saga, showing that she can most definitely create another world as brilliantly as she has done with the Iron Fey series.

Allie is a survivor – hardcore with an abrasive personality. She is fiercely independent so don’t mess with this chick because she will literally cut you down!  One day, after leading a small group out to scavenge for food, they are attacked by rabids. A stranger comes to her rescue and offers her the choice of eternal life or a quick death. She chooses eternal life. And thus begins her journey as a vampire, a species she once abhorred and has now become. Her mentor, the one who turned her, is the master vampire, Kanin. He takes her on as his responsibility teaching her everything he can about being a vampire. He gives her routines to follow and has her studying as well. Yes folks, this vampire is learning her reading, writing and arithmetic. Discipline is how he has survived and he imparts this wisdom to her before they’re separated.

She meets up with a wandering group led by Jeb and his son, Zeke who are searching for Eden, a place they believe exists without vampires. Jeb, a former preacher, is certain that Eden holds all the answers to humanity's salvation. The book does have some religious undertones but it’s not overwhelming. While with this group, Allie becomes close to Zeke, Jeb’s second in command. His innocence and generosity stand in stark contrast to Allie’s eternal cynicism.  Being welcomed into a group who live and work together as a family, is new to her. So she tries to adapt the best she can though her Fringer past is hard to shake. She constantly finds herself at odds with Jeb’s strict rules. She doesn’t stand down which makes for very tense and heated moments. 

There are also many suspenseful moments but none to me are more spine chilling than when Allie has to fight her dual nature. Several times she’s overwhelmed by the Hunger and comes close to feeding off an innocent. The far-reaching ramifications hang heavy around her. The “will she? won’t she?” moments as she struggles to keep the monster at bay are intense. Tugging at her rational side is her new found friendship with Zeke. His gentle nature and naiveté help to anchor her human side. It’s how Allie has to work hard at holding on to her humanity that’s the most absorbing part of this story.

The book is divided into four parts marking the developing phases of her life. As she moves on with the group and grows attachments, she learns of a far bigger battle that must be waged leading her to unexpected encounters. As horrific as some of the situations can get, it's also exciting to watch Allie in action because simply put, she is bad ass!

The Immortal Rules pulses with never ending suspense. You truly get the feel that they are living in a broken world that's dangerous and unforgiving at every turn. And Allie, who begins the book looking out for herself, learns a bit about family and loyalty and also about what it is to be human.

~ Bel

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday (1)

Weigh in Wednesday is a brand new meme started by Lauren at Epilougue.  This meme is a great way to break up our week and a fun way to share our book-ish opinions with the book lover community.

This week's topic is:

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction 

Nat - Fiction all the way.  Fiction allows me to immerse myself in emotion and excitement that I may not necessarily experience in real life.  I have found that I can't lose myself in non-fiction the way that I can in fiction.

Bel - Before kids I was all over non-fiction especially history. The geeky side of me enjoyed taking notes and researching facts. I'd even hunt down movies based on subjects I'd read about. Now post kids, I crave fantasy and escapism. It's how I deal with being a "responsible" adult!

So tell us what YOU think - Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (16)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

By Veronica Roth
Publication Date:  May 1, 2012

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin (22)

In my search for images of unusual mailboxes, I found this.....along with dozens of other ridiculously fun mail receptacles.  I think from now I can promise a new fun mailbox picture most every week.

We are now taking part in Mailbox Monday!  Mailbox Monday (or as we STILL like to call it, A Peek in the Biblio-Bin) was originally started by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books and is hosted this month by Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books.
Mailbox Monday is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

Last Saturday, Shel and I (Nat) were able to attend The Romantic Times convention.  It was an amazing experience.  We met numerous authors at the Book Fair during the morning hours and then split up to take the most advantage of the different YA Panels we were interested in.  At the end of the day we were able to join hundreds of teens, parents, teachers, librarians and bloggers at the Teen Party.  It was a very exhausting but AWESOME day.  To top off our visit we walked out with an amazing haul of free books which we are highlighting today.  Keep a look out.  You will very likely seeing some of these in future giveaways!

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Shadowspell by Jenna Black

Hearts at Stake by Alexandra Harvey

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Body and Soul by Stacey Kade

Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

The Savage Grace by Bree Despain

Tell us what was in your mailbox this week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

National Poetry Month 2

For our second poetry spotlight for National Poetry Month:

I Am Not Yours by Sara Teasdale

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love - put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the temptest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

I Cry by Tupac Shakur

Sometimes when I'm alone
I Cry,
Cause I am on my own.
The tears I cry are bitter and warm.
They flow with life but take no form
I Cry because my heart is torn.
I find it difficult to carry on.
If I had an ear to confide in,
I would cry among my treasured friend,
but who do you know that stops that long,
to help another carry on.
The world moves fast and it would rather pass by.
Then to stop and see what makes one cry,
so painful and sad.
I Cry
and no one cares about why.

First Love by John Clare

I ne'er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale.
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.

And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start -
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.

Are flowers the winter's choice?
Is love's bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love's appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

National Poetry Month - Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

It's National Poetry Month and to celebrate, I wanted to share one of my favorite poems from my teenage years.  While Shakespeare is my favorite poet, Edgar Allen Poe was the first poet to haunt me. So without further aideu:

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Edgar Allan Poe

Friday, April 20, 2012

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

* * * ½  

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

The XO and I long ago decided that we would be first in line if there was ever an opportunity for civilians to explore the universe and settle on newly discovered planet.  Of course I am willing to volunteer because in my mind it will be this amazingly perfect long term vacation (on a super shiny new spaceship with all the amenities you can imagine) where I get to read and eat bon bons all day in bed.  Wait, on second thought, that’s my life now.  Well except instead of a super shiny space ship with all the amenities I am living in a 20 year old house that is getting to the stage where all the “amenities” need to be replaced.  And instead of bon bons I am eating carrot sticks and almonds because dairy and milk chocolate are a big no no.  Oh, and instead of all day in bed, it’s all day following my kids around while I feed, bathe, dress and diaper them.  So really, it’s no wonder I have decided to volunteer to go on the pretty shiny spaceship. 

All I have to say to Beth Revis after reading Across the Universe is this:  Darn you for crapping on my shiny spaceship fantasy.   

In Across the Universe the voyage doesn’t take place on a pretty shiny spaceship and the voyage itself is most definitely not a long-term vacation.  The ship is definitely high tech but it’s not pretty.  And the people living on the ship (not counting those that are cryogenically frozen) work long and hard to keep their small civilization going. 

I don’t read a lot of Sci-Fi so I am not sure if this harsh thought out reality is common in Sci-Fi stories that include century ships.  But I can say this tough and non-glossy view is pretty common in the dystopian genre.  And since this story could be classified as dystopian/sci-fi/mystery, the over all feel of the story works.   

What I loved most about this book was the struggle that both Amy and Elder had learning that right and wrong isn’t as black and white as we would like.  No one answer works for everyone and there are repercussions for every decision you make, no matter how good your intentions.   

The only complaint that I had with the story over all was that I figured out what was happening before it actually happened.  I am not usually able to do that but for some reason I was able to with this book.  It was kind of like someone telling you what your Christmas present is right before you open it.  I felt a little deflated even thought I still love the story. 

In the end, if you are fan of Sci-Fi and Dystopians then definitely read Across The Universe.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop

The Showers of Books Giveaway Hop is hosted by One A Day YA & I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.  Today through April 25, 2012 you can enter to win our FABULOUS prize:

A SIGNED copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (one of Nat's favorites)!  And if that wasn't sweet enough, we will throw in some swag we scored from the RT Convention on Saturday!

You know the drill, fill out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.  Good luck!

Tangled by Erica O'Rourke

* * * 1/2

Constance started to keen as the air around us began to thrash and twist, the caustic scent of ozone burning my nose. As I watched, her dark gold hair began to lift and kick into knots. “I’m here. It’ll be okay.” It was the last thing I said before my best friend’s little sister went supernova in the second-floor girls’ bathroom, taking me with her.

A month ago, Mo Fitzgerald risked her life to stop an ancient prophecy and avenge her best friend’s murder. Now, she only wants to keep her loved one safe. But the magic – and the Chicago mob – have other plans.

Mysterious, green-eyed Luc is back, asking for help – and a second chance. Colin, her strongest protector, is hiding a shocking secret. And inside Constance, the magic is about to go terribly wrong. Tangled in a web of love and betrayal, Mo must choose between the life she’s dreamed of and the one she’s destined for.

Tangled, picks up a few months after the events at the Chicago Water Tower. Mo is trying to get back to normal but magic and trouble are never far behind. It turns out the magical world still needs her despite their disdain for her. In the normal “flat” world, she’s trying to understand her family secrets, a rival mob is after her and she's crushing on two different guys. All this and she still has to get into NYU. Oh the pressure!

I really enjoy this series mostly because it's intriguing to watch Mo balance two very different worlds and very different expectations. No matter how many times she may save the magical world, she still has to get to school and get decent grades. She has to answer to her mother and uncle, even if they are suspicious. There are very real repercussions she has to face no matter where she turns. Not that I enjoy watching someone suffer but it’s definitely a different take on the whole paranormal storyline.

When The Convenant comes back to demand her help, Mo takes a stand and demands something as well. She's determined to have some control of her life and is still reluctant to adopt Luc's view that it's their fate to be together and protect the magical world. While she's fighting fate, she's also working her way through everyone's secrets    her mother's, uncle's, father's and Colin's. Mo deciphering her family politics is hazardous undertaking. At times she's in over her head and she makes some knucklehead moves. Then there are others when she actually gets the upper hand though it's short lived. But I have to hand it to Mo. The crap she goes through would do anyone's head in but she still manages to hold it together.

Mo's romantic triangle continues. Luc is a great comic relief, especially when things gets pretty serious but Colin is the guy you want to bring home to mom. So it's a good thing he's there a lot! While I'm not really sure myself who she should end up with, when it comes to Mo and Colin, I find the blurry line between that of protector and potential lover rather unsettling. But where my fellow BiblioJunkie Nat loves the nice boy, I loooove the bad boy. So I guess that means I'm Team Luc.

Tangled is a lot of fun to read and it was the perfect escape for me. There are quite a few creative twists involved which take things up a few notches. I'm looking forward to reading Bound that comes out June 26!

~ Bel

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

By Melissa Walker
Publication Date:  May 22, 2012

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

* * * * 

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

I dove into this book late one evening in the hopes of a good read after finishing a less than stellar book.  The plan was to read a chapter and go to sleep.  Fast forward 6 hours later (or 4am) and I have somehow survived the emotional roller coaster that is Breaking Beautiful.  When I say emotional roller coaster, I don’t mean the rapid brutal ascent and fall of emotions that you find in Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.  Think shorter ascents and drops in a dark tunnel and the only thing that keeps you from trying to jump off the ride is the light you KNOW is at the end.

This is one of those books that is hard to review because I really don’t want to give anything away other than what is in the description above.  It’s a bit of a mystery and I would hate to inadvertently spoil it for anyone.   

What I can tell you is that this book is rather dark.  I knew going in that it would be.  The description provided by the publisher prepared me for the subject matter of abuse Allie experienced at the hands of her boyfriend, Trip.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the abuse/bullying that Allie and her friends and family suffered at the hands of the town’s population – both adults and adolescents.   Some of it was intentional and vindictive.  Some of it was just the careless and thoughtless.  Either way, it was hurtful to the characters and upsetting to read.   

But not the entire story was dark.  Some of the brightest parts of this story were Andrew and Blake.  The very first thing that drew me into this book was the relationship between Allie and her twin brother, Andrew.  Andrew and Allie have a bond that is both beautiful and moving and I truly believe is one of the few things that keeps her alive in the beginning.  Then there is Blake.  Even after the way she treated him while dating Trip, Blake still insists on supporting her however and whenever he can and when she lets him.   

Although dark, this book ends with a bit of sunshine and hope.  I truly loved it.  If you love a good emotional read, as I do, then I highly recommend this book.   


*Breaking Beautiful will be released Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

* * * 1/2

Mira has never known her parents or much about her secretly shrouded past. When she runs away to Beau Rivage, the town of her birth, on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, she’s hoping to find her parents’ graves and not much more. But she's stumbled into – or been drawn to the place where the Märchen, the Marked, play out to try to resist their roles. Here, Grimm fairytales come to life, curses and gifts are awakened, and Mira is destined to meet her fate, whatever it is.

Kill Me Softly is simply delightful! From the moment I started reading, I was glued to every page especially because the first few chapters provided some “what the heck?” moments. That's what makes this book so enchanting because you’re just following the breadcrumbs to get to the bottom of the story.

As describe above, Mira finds herself in Beau Rivage a few days before she turns 16. Since her past is a complete mystery to her, she decides that she will discover the truth on her own. Once in Beau Rivage, she encounters some pretty interesting personalities like Blue, an abrasive rocker and his best friend, Freddie. Blue insists that she yleave and never come back, convinced it's for her own safety. But when she meets Felix, Blue’s nicer, older brother, she plans on sticking around. Felix not only offers to help her find her parents’ graves, he also offers to put her up at the hotel casino that he runs  much to Blue's chagrin.

Over the next few days she comes to realize that many people in this town are fairytale characters, living out their fairytale in various forms. It's like the TV show Once Upon A Time except in Beau Rivage, these people know that they’re fairytale characters and are waiting for the transformation to take place when they are fated to live out their roles in whatever tale they’re in.

I was surprised that for someone so sheltered Mira didn’t seem too unfazed by all the people she was meeting and disturbing things she was learning. Her interaction with both Blue and Freddie are tense, fun and downright ridiculous. Her instant attraction to Felix will have some readers swooning. The focus of the story does change from looking for her parents’ graves to unraveling secrets and discovering the truth about these fairytales. And there are times when her stubbornness gets in the way of her seeing the big picture which honestly can be quite maddening. I mean, when someone tells you so many times that something isn’t good for you, don’t you think you should at least take them seriously, even if for a little bit?

Kill Me Softly is a darker take on some of the more famous fairytales. It may be a little twisted but it’s imaginative, and I had fun putting together the pieces to guess which fairytale was being played out that Mira had unwittingly immersed herself in ... oh and I guessed right!

~ Bel

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chase In Shadow by Amy Lane (Gay Romance, 18 years+)

* * * *

Chase Summers: Golden Boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.

Nobody knows the real Chase.

Chase Summers has a razor blade to his wrist and the smell of his lover’s goodbye clinging to his skin. He has a door in his heart so frightening he’d rather die than open it, and the lies he’s used to block it shut are thinning with every forbidden touch. Chase has spent his entire life unraveling, and his decision to set his sexuality free in secret has only torn his mind apart faster.

Chase has one chance for true love and salvation. He may have met Tommy Halloran in the world of gay-for-pay but it if he wants the healing that Tommy’s love has to offer, he’ll need the courage to leave the shadows for the sunlight. That may be too much to ask from a man who’s spent his entire life hiding his true self. Chase knows all too well that the only things thriving in a heart’s darkness are the bitter personal demons that love to watch us bleed.

There's something about the journey of self-discovery as you begin to admit the truth about yourself that's at once powerful and downright scary. This is why I was intrigued by the premise – guy so far into the closet that he's practically in Narnia, who must figure out how he’s going to come out. First he must admit he’s been in there for a while. So if you read this book, expect plenty of emotional upheaval and some very uncomfortable, harsh and graphic moments. 

Chase who has been hiding his sexuality from everyone – he can't even admit it out loud to himself – decides to enter into the gay porn industry so he can make more money to afford college as he studies engineering. It’s in this arena that he can be himself, unafraid and daring, separate from the other world where pretense is his armor. And it’s here that he finally falls in love for the first time with Tommy. The book explores the following year as Chase continues to lead his double life  that of gay porn star while still immobile in that closet  and how it all eventually crashes down around him.

I have to applaud Amy Lane for writing such an incredibly dark, raw and unabashed look at someone coming to terms with their sexuality. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. Chase makes some pretty poor decisions and knows it. And each crack in his armor is more devastating than the previous. With each chapter, he slowly and painfully opens up about his scarred past concerning his parents and the effect they had on him. Beneath it all is a fragile kid, and I really do mean kid because there are moments when his thought process is so childlike, it's heartbreaking.  He is so full of self-loathing that he feels unworthy of being loved or deserving of any kind of happiness. To admit out loud that he’s gay, is to admit something so terrifying about his past, that that simple admission would completely undo him.

Chase does have wonderful friends surrounding him. Donnie, his best friend since childhood and Tommy, Chase’s love interest are top-notch good guys, as are the other guys he meets at his new line of work. Tommy in particular, doesn’t take Chase’s BS and is always challenging him to take the next step out of the personal hell he’s in. Tommy is so well-written that his persona just jumps off the pages. I adore him and Chase together.

Be warned: Chase In Shadow is extremely graphic. I had no idea that this would be the case when I first requested to read it. (My suggestion: skip the graphic sequence at the beginning of each chapter if it's too much for you and just focus on the rest of the story.) Initially, I found it unsettling but as I read on, it made for a startling contrast. Chase considers sex in front of the camera less frightening than having to talk about his innermost demons. Any time there’s a pause where Chase can be truthful about himself, he shuts down and the heavy impact it has on his relationships is tremendous. So while the sex scenes are graphic, it's Chase's self-destruction that's most disturbing, brutal even to stomach. However, looking past the graphic details, the reader will succumb to Chase and Tommy's beautifully aching story.  

Chase In Shadow is no holds barred. I did have to read it in increments because some scenes are so gutting and exhausting that I could only take so much at a time. Thankfully, this tormented soul does get a chance at happiness after overcoming the many demons holding him back. A pleasant surprise at the end makes this tumultuous journey worth it! 

~ Bel

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

By Jill Shalvis
Publication Date:  May 22, 2012

Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself. And as the local good girl, she's expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she'd like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong. And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he's only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he's gone...

For the first time in his life, Ty can't bear to leave. Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn't -- including leaving the military for good. As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love. After all...anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Peek in the Bibli-Bin (21)

In My Mailbox (or as we like to call it, A Peek in the Biblio-Bin) is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

For Review:

Hide and Snoop by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Boys of Summer by Steve Berman
Point, Click, Love by Molly Shapiro
Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan
A Touch of Green (Out of Olympus) by Tina Folsom
Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton

What was in YOUR biblio-bin this week?

The Last Slayer by Nadia Lee - 18 +

From Carina Press:
Ashera del Cid is a talented demon hunter, but when she kills a demigod's pet dragon, the hunter becomes the hunted. Her only potential ally is Ramiel, a sexy-as-hell demon. Now the two must work together to battle dragons and demigods...and the chemistry crackling between them.
Ramiel has his own reasons for offering Ashera his protection. He knows her true identity and the real reason the demigods want her dead. What he can't predict is how she'll react when she discovers he knew who she was all along...
Ashera is shocked to discover that she is the only daughter of the last slayer. To claim her destiny, she and Ramiel must join forces to face down danger and outwit their enemies. Only then will she be able to truly accept her legacy...

The Bad:
I did not find Ashera to be a good heroine.  I did not really care about her or her situation until late in the book.  I thought the world of demi-gods and dragons could have been more fleshed out.  I also needed more of an explanation of how Ashera is who she is - or is destined to be. 

The Good:
Hot demi-gods and dragons?  Who doesn't enjoy a story like that.  The story was interesting and I wanted to understand more about the Ashera's world.  According to Nadia Lee's website, The Last Slayer is the first in a trilogy, so I am hopeful that the next book will give more answers. 


Friday, April 6, 2012

Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis - 18+

From Penguin:

Jade Bennett couldn't be happier to escape her past for the quiet ranching town of Sunshine, Idaho. Plus, there's nothing like working for veterinarian Dell Connelly. And though Dell has no intention of settling down, Jade's strength and sass are enticements no red-blooded male can resist.

I love Jill Shalvis.  Her books and blog have given me countless hours of entertainment over the years (I first discovered her books back in 2006 or 2007 and never looked back).  No offense to Bel and Nat, but if Jill would agree, she would definitely be my new BFF!  She is the queen of the embarrassing, everyday situations.

Animal Attraction is the second in the Animal series.  I picked this up without having read the first book, Animal Magnetism (though I have it now).  While reading a series from the beginning is always my recommendation, you do not need to read Magnetism to enjoy Attraction. 

Animal Attraction is the story of Jade and Dell.  While Jade's story is a little more serious and intense than many of Jill's heroines, the story is still sexy, engrossing and fun.  If you like Lori Foster, Janet Evanovich or similar authors, you will love Jill Shalvis.

Check out her blog here:
Also, if you friend her on Facebook you will get to enjoy her "Man Wars" with Kristin Higgins, which is a great reason to get out of bed on a given day.  I won't give away the surprise, just trust me, if you love hot boys, you will love Man Wars!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

*** 1/2

The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan–an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.
Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

The Bad:
I really do not have anything bad to say about Out of Sight, Out of Time, except maybe I wish it was longer or that the next book would be out sooner!

The Good:
I truly enjoy the Gallagher Girls series and this installment illustrates a darker side of Cammie.  The stakes are high because Cammie has no idea what happened to her after she left Gallagher Academy at the end of Only the Good Spy Young.  The series has grown and become more intense as the characters get older and face more dangerous scenarios, while keeping the fun adventure that started with I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.  OOSOOT is an intense, suspenseful ride that you should definitely check out!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.

The Selection
By Kiera Cass
Publication Date: April 24, 2012

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter


The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it’s a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn’t have a code name?
Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn’t prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she’s doing something riskier than ever—she’s falling in love.

Cammie Morgan may have a genius IQ and attend the best school in the country, but as she starts the spring semester of her sophomore year there are a lot of things she doesn’t know. Like will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble did she really get in last semester? And, most of all, exactly why is her mother acting so strangely?
All Cammie wants is a nice, normal semester, but she’s about to learn her greatest lesson yet—that when you go to a school for spies, nothing is ever as it seems.

When Cammie “the Chameleon” Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she’s there to watch Macey’s father accept a nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world’s best school (for spies), “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnapper’s dangerous plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.
As her junior year begins, Cammie can’t shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did.
Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion’s corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can they keep her safe?
Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth…

When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start during her junior year of high school. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when she faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.
Now the danger follows her everywhere and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most-trusted allies is actually a rogue double-agent Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.
In this fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling series, the Gallagher Girls must hack, spy, steal, and lie their way to the truth as they go searching for answers, recognizing that the key to Cammie’s future may lie deep in the past…. 

The Good:
Gallagher Girls is one of those series' that I would see in the bookstore or while shopping online and thought looked interesting, but never seemed to have the time to read.  Finally, a few weeks ago I was looking for something light and fun, so I picked up I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.  Much to Nat's amusement, I ended up reading the entire series in 24 hours.  The books are so much fun!  Not only are the GG engrossing and fun, but they were the perfect antidote to a really bad week.  Cammie, Bex, Liz and Macey are great characters.  I so want to go to Gallagher Academy and hang out with them! 

The concept for the books is simple and Ally Carter expertly executes the stories.  Gallagher Academy is an all girl school training the next generation of spies.  These girls are genius, athletic and all have exceptional talents.  The one thing they do not know is how to deal with boys (and really, do any of us?).  This idea leads to hilarious situations and begins the spy adventures for the girls. 

I definitely recommend this series.  I cannot wait for the next installment!