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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: The Holders by Julianna Scott

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: The Holders
Author: Julianna Scott
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publishing House: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 9781908844422
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via Netgalley


17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that the voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family;s heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees that Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all - especially Becca - in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland forgive their father for what he's done?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Becca spent most of her life taking care of her brother keeping him away from those who would want to medicate him and whisk him away to the loony bin on account of how he hears voices in his head. Then one day she returns home to find people from this strange school in Ireland taking a strange interest in her brother and although the school seems to be good for her brother she's reluctant as she is unsure of her motives. She relents in the end and finally agrees to accompany her brother all the way to Ireland, where she finds out that she is not all what she seems.

Becca may have took some time to figure things out for herself, and we chalked it up to her having a different teenage life, where she worries about her brother and never seems to make time for herself. When she was in Ireland, she pretty much was awestruck with the new environment and the new people. We could understand that given her genius status, Becca may not have had the easiest time back in high school to have made some friends. Alex, the love interest, remained Becca's rock pretty much throughout the whole ordeal. Despite being a little bland for us, he seems to be a perfect match for Becca who needs someone to lean on as well.

Jocelyn, Becca and Ryland's father, reminded us a lot of Professor Xavier from the X-Men. They're both headmasters of a school for people with powers and both of them just so happen to have abilities that involve mind-reading and compelling other people's wills. As far as we've seen, the powers that have been showcased in the Holders are quite typical of the super-powered-humans theme. Truth be told, we were hoping for some really cool powers.

Despite some problems with the book, like when Becca may have been a bit too overdramatic, and a bit slow in piecing things together, and some plot twists may have been a bit too predictable and boring, we did have to admire Becca's overprotectiveness over her brother. The way they love and truly care for one another is sweet and genuine, and the fact that Becca had the audacity to actually let her brother be happy struck a chord in us. (If only all siblings were as nice!)


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publishing House: Razorbill
ISBN: 9781595143990
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh - to build a home - on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to uncover who - or what - is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed - friends, family, life on Earth - will have been for nothing.

 (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


It's finally here! Shades of Earth is the final book in the Across the Universe series and starts off with Amy, Elder, and a fraction of the people from Godspeed headed to Centauri-Earth.

The setting for Shades of Earth is quite different. Instead of being confined inside the walls of a ship, they're now given a lush, new world so very different from their own. But this world is virtually unknown to them and soon enough the colony finds themselves struggling to survive as they face their new home - a home filled with unknown danger and an unidentified enemy determined to eradicate them all. Since this is a new setting for both characters and readers alike, I sort of wish Revis took more time to explore more of the world - the descriptions were beautiful, mind you - but I understand that in the midst of their fight for survival, exploration is going to take a backseat to keeping themselves safe and healthy and whole.

My biggest complaint in this installment however, was Amy. I had a hard time getting through the first part of the book because I found her selfish, childish and quite annoying; it was during the latter part of the book that she grew on me and, while I'm still not fond of her, I can say that her character did develop and mature. I really liked Elder here. It was interesting, seeing the new world through his eyes and seeing how he compared Centauri-Earth to Sol-Earth. Being the leader of the people from Godspeed, Elder is constantly struggling to lead his people and is unsure of who to put his trust in; sometimes he questions if leaving Godspeed was the right thing to do. I also enjoyed the romance between Amy and Elder, it was very sweet and real and I'm glad that Amy finally admitted to herself her feelings for Elder - that she was with him because she chose him, not because there was no one else.

One thing I was looking forward to were the Frozens because it's in this book that they're finally freed and their release incites fear and distrust among the men and women of Godspeed. There was racism and discrimination, which was unavoidable due to their initial impressions of each other, and despite the fact that there were times wherein they did work together, there was still an invisible line drawn between the two fueled by fear and apprehension.

In the final book of the trilogy Revis pits her characters against harsh environments - toxic flowers and giant bird-like predators - and an unknown adversary picking off their people, day by day. Amy and Elder struggle to identify this threat but in the process they uncover more secrets that could prove fatal to the colony. I like how Revis is unafraid to make her characters suffer; how she constantly tests their resilience and has them face seemingly insurmountable odds. At the end of this book questions are answered and mysteries revealed - puzzle pieces that fall neatly into place finally revealing the truth. 

Shades of Earth is the final leg of Elder and Amy's story; a satisfying conclusion to the Across the Universe series. It's a wonderful journey that seeks to explore the vastness of space and the possibilities of life in uncharted planets. Would I recommend this series? Yes, most definitely. It's not everyday you come across a thoroughly entertaining YA series superbly tackling space exploration, a budding romance and the masterful weaving of mystery and intrigue that manages to connect two planets - galaxies apart.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Title: Everbound
Author: Brodi Ashton
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Publishing House: Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 9780062071163
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity - a debt that should've been hers. Now she is living a borrowed life, and she doesn't know what to do with the guilt. And every night, Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away. No matter how she tries to reach for his hand, she can never find it.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen - and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to help in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole, along with Cole's bandmate Max, descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they anticipated - and more deadly. From a Lake of Blood and Guilt to Sirens' alluring tricks to insurmountable walls of rock and flame, the trio is given every reason to turn back and give up. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack - even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this breathtaking sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we'll go to for the ones we love.

 (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


It's been months since Jack took Nikki's place in the Everneath, and Nikki's pretty desperate to get him back. She's all too familiar with the horrors and dangers of the Everneath, and she knows that her time to save him is running out. Nikki can only hope that Cole doesn't have any more tricks under his sleeve, as she enlists much needed help from a guy who's still convinced that they belong together. Faced with the trials and tribulations that Everneath will throw at Nikki and her companions to throw her off her mission, Nikki will have to blindly put her faith in Cole to save Jack from all that Everneath stands for.

A year ago, I devoured Ashton's Everneath with relish. When I surfaced up for air, I knew that the yearlong wait for the next book would be quite the death of me. Everneath was so good and so very different. For once, the heroine didn't choose the paranormal guy over the guy-next-door, and I very much welcomed the change.

Now that I've been dragged back to the Everneath, I would have gladly went back in time and told my 2012 self to calm down because the sequel was a bit disappointing.

What takes the spotlight in this sequel is Nikki and Cole's relationship. As Cole is begrudgingly tied up to Nikki's plans to help save Jack, it is out of love that he tries to keep Nikki safe and protected at all times in the Everneath. Nikki, on the other hand, alternates her life as a girl on a mission to save her sweet boyfriend, to an unsteady girl who regularly skips out on her dad and her appointments with the shrink as she is kicked - literally - back to earth at times. Ashton's characters are stable and in their respective zones all throughout the book, so you will not find me complaining about that aspect.

Everbound also provides the opportunity for readers to finally get an actual glimpse of Everneath, where public executions are held without remorse, and where souls are treacherous and deceptively cunning. Everneath, I found, zeroes in on the hell that we mostly have made up in our minds. Although admittedly, after exploring Everneath, I found my self getting tired of the world, I will have not many complaints about this factor either.

I also have no problems with Ashton's writing. As always, it is impeccable, and she has once again proved that she is one of those authors who can write whatever they wanted to write, and still come off as sound and logical. 

The ending's the part where I get miffed. If Ashton had ended the series with this book, I would have been happy and sated. But instead, it seems that the author is going to pull us into an entirely different direction now that there has been an unexpected - but not improbable - twist. Since the story centers around Everneath, it seems that the author had to find a way to rope all her characters back to the origin of the whole story, and it really wasn't something that I found delightful. The surprise ending had me thinking as to whether I ought to continue the series, or to wash myself off of it altogether.

Nonetheless, I am giving this book a rating of 3 because the characters, world-building, and the flow of events were logical and consistent. I am still disappointed, however, with the way things turned out, and I do not find myself very curious as to how Nikki will get herself out of this new pickle.



Monday, February 25, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title: Shadows in the Silence
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 29 2013
Publishing House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062002396
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore


Your strength in heart and hand will fall...

Ellie knows that the darkest moments are still to come, and she has everything to fight for:

She must fight for Will.

The demonic have resorted to their cruelest weapons to put Will in mortal danger, and Ellie makes an unlikely alliance to save him and to stop Lilith and Sammael, who seek to drown the world in blood and tear a whole into Heaven.

She must fight for humanity.

As the armies of hell rise and gather for the looming End of Days, Ellie and her band of allies travel to the world's darkest and most ancient regions in her quest to come into her full glory as the archangel Gabriel.

And Ellie must save herself.

Her humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold archangel power, but Ellie must hold tight to who she is and who she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.

In this final installment in the Angelfire trilogy Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing bright conclusion.

 (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Before reading Shadows in the Silence, I suggest you check out Wings of the Wicked first.

The last book in the Angelfire trilogy is undeniably the best book in the series. In Angelfire Ellie is a bratty, whiny, too spoiled teenager who has issues with her father and is vapid and frivolous to a fault. In Wings of the Wicked we watch as Ellie's character grows. She's matured a bit and despite still being a tad bit frivolous, she realizes how important her role is in regard to the safety and protection of humans and the world. Everything culminates in Shadows in the Silence, war is on the horizon and Ellie has to make a choice - to stay human and watch the world burn or to find a way to become the archangel Gabriel and relinquish her hold on her humanity and with it become the cold, merciless machine that is an archangel.

Shadows in the Silence starts off where the second book ends - with that nasty, nasty cliffhanger. While I liked how Ellie immediately stepped into action to save her beloved Will, I'm glad that this didn't take up a large amount of time. It wasn't exactly easy but really, Ellie is determined and nothing will stand in her way. With the threat of war looming overhead, Ellie races against the demonic reapers to find the artifacts she needs to revert back to her former glory because Ellie, and her band of misfits, are the only ones standing between the human's survival and certain death in the hands of reapers. It's not easy because there's a super powered fallen angel after her and then there's that fear that if she does revert back to archangel status she will lose her humanity and in the process lose her emotions and feelings and her connection with Will. But Ellie knows what she has to do and does it with her bravest face on - she'll go down fighting.

I liked how the characters developed in the final installment. Ellie is as brash and determined as ever, and in this book we see more of her archangel side peeking through her humanity. Moulton manages to blend both sides of Ellie perfectly and she just grows into her role as Preliator. Humanity has a fighting chance now that Ellie's matured and comprehends the gravity of her situation. Her romance with Will is as sweet as ever. Will, after finally succumbing to their passion is determined to never let her go because after 5 centuries of pining after her he finally has her in his arms. And while he's unwilling to let Ellie become an archangel, he begrudgingly does so because he loves her and there's really no other choice left. I think the boy's entitled to be a tad bit selfish when it comes to his beloved. Now Cadan, on the other hand, was never a viable love interest and while I love him to bits and pieces I still could not comprehend his attraction to Ellie. Sure, he sees her as his redemption and while he is an amazing friend and a powerful ally it's obvious that he was destined to have nothing more with Ellie but a strong and wonderful friendship. I suppose love is strange that way.

Shadows in the Silence marks the end of the series. One final battle that ends in a fury of clashing steel blades, death and angelfire and a love strong enough to transcend the barriers between Heaven and Earth, archangel glory and human frailty. 



Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #18 + The Sunday Post #13

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This post will provide a recap for posts that have been made during the entire week (February 4-9, 2013).

Nicole's review of Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Moulton

Michelle's review of Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Waiting on Wednesday #6 - The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni + ACID by Emma Pass

The Twins on Thursday: our review of A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

Feature and Follow #2

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.

Purchased Books:


From left to right:
1. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
2. Sever by Lauren Destefano


From left to right:
1. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
2. Ghost Flower by Michele Jaffe
3. Sever by Lauren Destefano


(Image from GoodReads)
Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon
Thanks, Soho Press! (NetGalley)

The Book of Broken Hearts

(Image from GoodReads)
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Thanks, Simon Pulse! (Edelweiss)
*Michelle was so excited about this one, she finished it as soon as she downloaded it.

What goodies did you guys get?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday #2

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Find out more by clicking on the links provided.

Question of the Week:
We always talk about books that WE want. Let's turn it on its head. What books have you given other people lately?

Michelle: Well, we just recently concluded our blog giveaways, so we gave away a copy of Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer and two paperback copies of Rachel Hartman's Seraphina.

It's just me on the blog today, as Nicole is busy with her schoolwork. Truth be told, we're both swamped with course requirements until the end of the week, so in the past few weeks, you guys might have noticed our lack of commenting on other posts, as well as on other people's meme posts. We do apologize for it, but we do intend to make up for it as soon as we're relatively free. (Which won't be long now, thank heavens!)

What books have you guys given away? Leave us your links below and we'll follow back as soon as we're free!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: A Shade of Vampire
Author: Bella Forrest
Format Acquired: PDF
Publication Date: December 14, 2012
Publishing House: Self-published
ISBN: 9781481280761
Source of Copy: Sent by author for review


On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.

A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves more than her blood. 

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.

An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.

Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.

Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all the other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


What a way to spend your seventeenth birthday. Sofia's best friend forgets her birthday,  she gets sedated and captured by someone (Or is it something?) and is carted off to an uncharted island in the middle of nowhere, just when she was taking a leisurely stroll. Then to add insult to injury, she finds out that she's going to be part of this so called Prince's harem and oh, she just realized that vampires do exist. So there - happy birthday, Sofia.

A Shade of Vampires' characters are just that - characters. They felt so stiff that we just couldn't rouse any modicum of empathy for them. They were okay characters, but hardly unforgettable. We wanted to see some measure of surprise when Sofia met the vampires for the first time, or maybe some panic when she was captured and a heavy dose of fear since she was going to be forced to be part of some stranger's harem. We're pretty sure that Sofia has never met a vampire before and when she was faced with a vampire ready and willing to suck her blood she was so... chill with it all. It was disconcerting. Derek Novak, the so-called vampire prince, the savior of all vampire-kind, has just woken up from years of sleep to fulfill his destiny. When he lays eyes on the beautiful Sofia, it's love at first sight and he can't let go of her. He's possessive - a character trait far too common in YA male protagonists - and assertive. It's either his way or the highway. And while we would like to say that they make a cute couple, they really didn't manage to stir any feelings inside of us. They were just a boy and a girl who were attracted to each other and whose attraction is wholly based on outward appearance and a few supposedly touching lines said in the heat of the moment. 

We found that A Shade of Vampire actually reminded us more of a novella that would lead to the actual first book. 

It also felt like Lucas was more of a bad guy simply because he was the stereotypical nemesis who wanted the protagonist's new toy just for the sake of having it. But then, it's light, it's easy to read, and it's an easy fix for people who are not looking for anything particularly heavy. We could imagine people reading this in between contemporary novels.

If you're in the market for a very light paranormal read, you could consider picking this one up. There were no forced romantic scenes (Yay, no awkward kisses!), and the pacing was okay. We'd recommend this one for people who are hesitant about the paranormal genre, and who are more likely to appreciate contemporary novels.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #6: The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni + ACID by Emma Pass

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme first initiated by Jill from Breaking the Spine. However, we've added our own twist to it! Not only will we feature books that will be published in the following months, but we will also feature books that are not available yet locally, and are still unavailable to us.

Title: The Caged Graves
Author: Dianne Salerni
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publishing House: Clarion Books
ISBN: 9780547868530


17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvanian, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out... or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core. 

                                 (Image, summary, and information courtesy of Goodreads)

We love things that go bump in the night. Funeral rituals and rites are also some things that we both find eerily fascinating, so you can only imagine our interest that caged graves do exist! Is it a zombie awaiting its turn to walk on the earth again? Or is it a product of witchcraft and sorcery? Well, this compelling and utterly original premise has us by the nose, that's for sure.

Title: ACID
Author: Emma Pass
Publication Date: April 25, 2013
Publishing House: Random House Children's Publishing (UK)
ISBN: 9780552566148


2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID - the most brutal, controlling police force in history - rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed - or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID - and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.

 (Image, summary, and information courtesy of Goodreads)

From the premise, this book pretty much promises kick-butt action and a strong heroine to boot - no lily-livered damsels in distress here. We are huge fans of intense action scenes and suspense thrillers in a dystopian setting and the added drama of Jenna being the only female inmate in prison is bound to make things a whole lot more interesting. Killers, rebel groups and one girl's race to uncover the truth - this book is definitely high up on our to-read list.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Publishing House: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374373665
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Monstrous mermaids
Vengeful ghosts
A century-old curse

When fierce mermaid Syrenka falls in love with a human named Ezra, she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land. The choice comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Generations later, seventeen-year-old Hester knows that love and death are inextricably linked for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect, or a curse? Hester's solution is to avoid love altogether, until she meets and enigmatic stranger named Ezra and feels drawn to him in a way she can't explain or resist. Ezra may be able to help her tease apart the strands of her family's strange history: Ezra knows a thing or two about curses.

The answers Hester seeks are waiting in the graveyard, in the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean - but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and the tragedy of so long ago.

Monstrous Beauty is a dark and brilliantly plotted thriller about sacrifice, enduring love, and hope.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


In all actuality, mermaid novels novels scare me, all because I find it very, very hard to find really good mermaid novels. When I read reviews saying that fans of Fama's Monstrous Beauty also adored Lanagan's The Brides of Rollrock Island, and vice versa, I was really quite excited about it, because I am very much in love with The Brides of Rollrock Island, and the prospect of another gorgeous, ethereal read is always appealing. I know it's unfair for a book to be compared to another (I mean, they are written by different people after all!) but Monstrous Beauty, sadly, did not captivate me as much as I thought it would.

Hester isn't stupid; she knows there's probably a pretty good reason why her mother, and all the women before her, died after childbirth. And what Hester initially hesitantly attributed to a genetic dysfunction, proves to be so much more. Her lineage is cursed - and it doesn't seem likely to stop with Hester. When eerie apparitions begin clamoring for Hester's attention, she knows what she must do. Only Hester can free the spirits from their ties to the earth, and break the curse, so she can break free from her own inner demons as well.

Fama's mermaids remind me of the river next to my grandmother's property in the province. There was talk that a city man never resurfaced from the water, people around the area have heard inopportune giggling and laughing in the wee hours of the morning coming from the river, and one-way wet footprints on the walkway vanished in the middle of the concrete path leading away from the river. These were what I'd imagine Fama's mermaids to be like: mysterious, possibly vicious, and maybe even real.

Syrenka wasn't exactly Disney's vanilla Ariel. She has accidentally killed a human she loved,   and extracted revenge on mortals who did her harm, but all Syrenka actually wants is to be on land with the human she loves the most. All Ezra and Syrenka ever wanted was to be happy. But given the strange circumstances of their romance, there will naturally be the traditionalists who refuse to accept that a creature like Syrenka would have a soul, much less grasp the human ideas of love and happiness.

The first few pages of Monstrous Beauty were lovely and lyrical, but as the story progressed, my interest in it waned as well. Don't get me wrong. I could very well imagine the small coastal town that Hester inhabited. Fama does a good job with world-building and letting readers envision themselves facing the treacherous waters of the sea with the wind blowing salt-laced sprays through their hair. The interpersing POVs - especially the historical one - brought out the true flavor of the story as well. With everything else being stunning, I would have to say that my problem lies with the characters. Believe me, I loved Syrenka, but that was it. All the others, I didn't care about. I didn't particularly hanker for the typical instantaneous spark between Hester and Ezra. I didn't want to root for Hester when the sea witch (who could have easily passed as Ursula) was chasing after her because she was changing the course of their reality. 

Monstrous Beauty wasn't much of a thriller from me. I had an inkling of the progression of the story, and I didn't plow through it the way I did. All I thought of was that it was quite a shame that this could have been a really great read.

Despite the predictability of the plot and the strange progression of events, Fama's Monstrous Beauty made use of stunning world-building, and a pretty interesting take on mermaids. I can definitely see myself reading this down by the river near my grandmother's  area. Who knows? Given the eery atmosphere the river provides, my feelings for Monstrous Beauty just might improve.


Monday, February 18, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title: Wings of the Wicked
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 31 2012
Publishing House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062002365
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore


Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.

Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven's warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, thought they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell's strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

She's been warned.

Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian's new plan to destroy Ellie's soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian's schemes, the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything - including herself.

She'll be betrayed.

Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be Hell to pay.

 (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Wings of the Wicked is the second installment in the Angelfire series. In my opinion, this book is an improvement as compared to the first book. In Angelfire I found Ellie a bit too whiny and too spoiled and Will a bit too stiff for my taste. The one character who actually caught my attention in the first book was Cadan. It's a good thing he has more scenes in this book.

Wings of the Wicked is basically about Ellie kicking demonic reaper butt while evading capture by Bastien and his thugs. They need her for this crazy ritual that involves the reawakening of some really scary angels that will lead to the end of the world as you know it with chaos and fire and brimstone. There are a lot of action scenes which are pretty entertaining although sometimes I wish Ellie did more than stand around narrating scenes for us readers. 

The characters were better developed here. Ellie isn't that annoying anymore although she still likes to go to parties and be all frivolous because, let's face it, she's still a teenager even if she's a reincarnated archangel. She's still careless sometimes and oblivious - I mean, if people were out to get you, wouldn't it be pretty obvious that they'd go for those you love too? But at least she stopped being so whiny and vapid. Will, on the other hand, is still brooding and sulky but I like how we get glimpses of the lighter side of his personality what with his banter with Nathaniel and his sweeter moments with Ellie. They both suffer a lot of heartbreak in this book and I'm hoping that this will only help their characters progress. Cadan is an interesting addition to the gang and while he does have a few more scenes here than in Angelfire, I still wish to know more about him. Admittedly I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that he's in love with Ellie because there was no build-up, no indication whatsoever that he harbored feelings for her. He just popped up out of nowhere with his heart on his sleeve - such a cutie pie. His relationship with Will is of interest too.

So Wings of the Wicked is an improvement on Angelfire - the romance was sweet and the action intense, it had better characters and had a few interesting developments. Why do I find myself unwilling to give it 4 stars/rainbows? Maybe because I wanted to see more of Ellie's archangel powers develop and probably because the book is around 516 pages long and it dragged on some parts. Don't get me wrong. I like thick books but I just felt like there were a few scenes in Wings of the Wicked that weren't exactly needed and totally unnecessary. I didn't really need to know about the parties Ellie attends and I don't think that Cadan loving Ellie was actually needed because Ellie, despite all her flaws, is loyal to a fault and it's pretty obvious that she loves Will and Will alone. But in spite of all that, this was an entertaining read and that cliffhanger at the end had me itching to get my hands on the next book.



Friday, February 15, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #17 + The Sunday Post #12 + In Our Mailbox #3

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This post will provide a recap for posts that have been made during the entire week (February 4-9, 2013).

Nicole's review of Splintered by A.G. Howard

Michelle's review of Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Michelle's review of Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Twins on Thursday: Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.

Purchased Books:


From left to right, top to bottom:

1. Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Moulton
2. Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Moulton
3. Everbound by Brodi Ashton

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. Misfit by Jon Skovron
2. The Kill Order by James Dashner
3. Ravage by Jeff Sampson
4. Elemental by Antony John

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
2. So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
3. Prophecy by Ellen Oh
4. Illuminate by Aimee Agresti


From top to bottom, left to right:

1. Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
2. Boundless by Cynthia Hand
3. Everbound by Brodi Ashton

From left to right:
1. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
2. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Wicked Kiss (Nightwatchers, #2)

Wicked Kiss by Michelle Rowen
(Thanks to Harlequin via NetGalley!)

In Our Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren. This features all the things that we have received in our literal mailbox.


Nicole got her signed bookplates from Jay Kristoff, author of Stormdancer.

Oh, and lest we forget:


Elizabeth Rodriguez