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Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole (Arcana Novels)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Timesbestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions 
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, the Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory 
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on the Lovers. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned 
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first...?

Goodreads Summary

I love this book. Evie is such a dynamic character. She is discovering more about her past (learning that she was more or less a sociopath at one point) and diving deeper into the relationships she has with Jack and Death (Aric). It's fascinating to think that Death was in love with Evie for all those years. That backstory could have made up a few more books (prequels). The plot consisted of trying to defeat the Lovers (incestuous twins) and further developing the relationships between the characters. 

The Arcana is such an interesting and fascinating idea. I love the idea of teens bestowed with individual powers fighting to the death (not the death part, but the other parts are cool!). The descriptions of who is who at the beginning of the book add to the level of intrigue. I wished there was not a love triangle. Ideally, those do not exist though they are prevalent in young adult books. I never knew who I wanted Evie to end up with (as if it was even up to me). The plot was super fast-paced. I finished the book ahead of this one in less than a day. My whole family has found it a fun read! There were so many interesting twists and a few things occurred that I would never have guessed would happen. I can't wait for the next in the series!

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Ruining by Anna Collamore

Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens - especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door. 

All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness or is something sinister at play?

THE RUINING is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.

Goodreads Summary

I loved every aspect of this novel. The main character, Annie, has had a difficult like growing up in Detroit. She wants to reinvent herself and start anew with a young family and two children. She acts as the nanny and also attends the local college. Her room and board is covered as long as she nannies for the children (though the mother mainly only allows her to nanny the older child). It seems like a dream come true, but is it only an illusion? 

The longer Annie is there, the stranger things get. Libby insists on calling her Nanny instead of her name though she denies it when Annie asks her why. Libby seems to recreate trauma Annie experienced in her past. The whole family is strange. There is a difference between "private" and paranoid. The ending was as satisfying as I expected. I loved how Owen, the love interest, stepped up and cared about Annie's safety despite several of her cutting remarks. Annie's caring and compassion for Zoe was apparent; she really cared about her little charge. The author created an atmosphere of tension and suspicion that remained throughout the novel. I can't recommend this book enough.

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

How To Make Out by Brianna Shrum

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

Goodreads Summary

When Renley needs money to attend a math club trip she is nothing but resourceful. She creates a blog that allows people to send in money to have their questions answered. Despite not being an expert in many of the subjects that the questions ask about, she still accepts the money and attempts to become an expert (not that easy!). For whatever reason, Renley's newfound abilities gain her popularity. We all know that whenever something new comes along, often, something old must go. Will Renley choose her "new" life or "old" life? Or will she find a way to combine the two?

Renley's character both annoyed me and made me laugh. The lengths she went to and the trouble she caused herself was almost comical. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it's much easier to read and guess what will happen than to be embroiled on your own, but I usually guessed what was going to happen next and which choices she would make. I really disliked how callous she was to her best friend and Drew; it didn't seem necessary to hurt them like that. Drew's character was adorable. He was the ideal boy-next-door with charisma and a dose of handsome. I dislike love triangles, but this one did not ruin the plot for me (but be warned that there is a love triangle). The author has a way of writing that makes me feel as if I am back in high school. I liked that the author took on her characters and didn't merely write about them. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Goodreads Summary

Besides the gorgeous cover and amazing and unique setting, I loved the intricacy and plot development behind this book. Bridey's grandfather thought he heard singing coming from the sea moments before plunging to his death. Unfortunately for Bridey, trying to explain someone happily drowning comes off a little..insane. Ever since the incident with her grandfather, she has hated the water. Her suspicions were confirmed when a dead girl washes up on shore and, later, a boy with wounds (who Bridey is able to save). Bridey knows that something devilish is brewing in the sea, but she isn't sure how to figure out what or how to stop it. 

Bridey's character was lovely. She was part detective, scared villager, witch seeker, and love interest. For the most part, she didn't make any wildly inane decisions and I liked her willingness to challenge the evil in the sea. Fynn was a worthy love interest. He wasn't just there for the romance; the wounds he had when he was rescued from the sea were a mystery in and of themselves and he helped Bridey overcome her fears of the sea throughout the novel. Morag's character was possibly my favorite witch of all time. I liked her unusual ways and that she didn't care what others thought. Her character was mysterious and fascinating. The relationships between the characters were well-developed and helped lead up to the finale. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

A World Without You by Beth Revis

Saturday, January 5, 2019

What if finding her means losing himself?

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Soíia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofía, he must decide whether to face his demons head-on or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves.

Goodreads Summary

It's difficult not to use my Neuroscience background to analyze this novel (whenever I do that it tends to ruin all fiction novels). Bo is a teenage boy with a serious delusion disorder. He believes that he can see the "timestream" and that he can choose to go back in time. He tampers with going forward in time and wants to change what has already happened in the past. He believes that he is attending a school for gifted children who have certain powers. The other children don't matter nearly as much to him as Sofia, a young girl with a serious depressive disorder whose mother and two sisters were killed in an automobile crash. When she commits suicide, Boy is convinced that he actually dropped her off in time somewhere and has to go back in time to go and save her. 

Although the summary does not say much about Phoebe, a good chunk of the novel is written from her viewpoint. She has to endure having a brother with special needs. She's just a teen herself and gives up a lot because of her brother. She knows that it is important that he "heal," but she can't help but think sometimes that he is selfish. I preferred Phoebe over Bo's delusions and sometimes willful choosing of his delusions (debatable in the science community). 

The author did a decent job at describing an unspecified mental disorder. I could tell that she had looked into several disorders that could somewhat fit Bo. Often, it is not possible to identify a disorder that fits perfectly with the given symptoms. I could go into why Bo wasn't a fully accurate representation of a true disorder, but I do believe that unless we have experienced it ourselves we cannot fully say one way or the other no matter what traditional science says. I liked how the other students at the school for "exceptional" children fit into his delusions and hallucinations. I really did love how the author fit Bo's hallucinations like puzzle pieces into the plot of the story and into reality. I spent about a day reading this book, but I think I will remember Bo for much longer than that. I was not surprised by the ending, but it's rare to find a book that is truly shocking.

3 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ