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DNF Reviews: Illusive, Raven Boys, Stormdancer

Thursday, June 26, 2014
by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Genre: YA Science Fiction   Hardback: 416 Pages
Publication: July 15, 2014 by Little Brown BFYR

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

The premise to Illusive is interesting. I'm always up for a superpower book. (My brother introduced me to the web serial Worm and I had to stop cold turkey because I was so addicted to it and wasn't getting any blogwork done - definitely plan to get back to it sometime though!) And I like how there are limitations to the powers. For example, Ciere has difficulty spreading her illusions to her surroundings, and technology will see through her illusions.

What didn't work for me is that I could never really connect with the characters and their plight, specifically Ciere and Daniel, the two narrators. Ciere was an especial problem because she's the primary narrator. She's overly naïve for someone who's supposedly been in the criminal life since a young age, and I don't feel like she has sufficient motivation for hiding some things from her fellow criminals. The more interesting characters are Kit and Magnus, but they don't have much star time and mostly hover at the background as the older members who have a shady past and aren't telling what they know.

The writing is also not very cohesive. The story takes a while to get the plot moving and doesn't spend much time going through the details. And as my brother noticed when he followed me along for several pages, there is an excessive overuse of dialogue tags. These are more minor complaints though and would normally be what separates a book that I liked from one that I loved. This time, it's what kept me reading as long as I did, waiting to see what happens.

When it comes to YA superpower books with a youthful voice, I enjoyed Transparent by Natalie Whipple much more (read my review here).

DNF 54% into the novel

Content: drinking, partying, violence

A copy was provided by Little Brown for review

The Raven Boys
The Raven Cycle #1, by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance   Hardback: 409 Pages
Publication: September 18, 2012 by Scholastic Press

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The writing is filled with beautiful descriptions that bring the emotions and story to life. There is a mystic quality to it that you don't often find in YA books. I like how the story alternates perspectives among different characters in order to round the plot; however, this ended up working against the story for me. I never felt like I really got to know any of the characters. Really get into their minds. Also, it wasn't until about halfway into the story that it felt like the action was picking up, and by then I wasn't interested in pursuing the story further.

I've seen fantastic reviews for The Raven Boys though. I might pick this up some other time. I just don't know what the chances are since I've read and dnfed Shiver and The Scorpio Races as well. As beautiful Stiefvater's writing, and as interesting as her characters have been, for me in the past, the pacing of her stories just isn't working for me.

DNF 51% into the novel - slow pacing, still didn't feel like anything was happening.

Content: N/A

A copy was provided by Scholastic for review

by Jay Kristoff

Genre: YA Fantasy   Hardback: 313 Pages
Publication: September 18, 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Interesting world with beautiful descriptions, but it's hard to get into the language and culture of the world. The writing / voice is also hard to follow. I've heard great things about this book, and I'm still interested in how the action goes down later though. I might pick this up at a later time.

DNF 12% into the novel

Content: violence

A copy was provided by Macmillan for review

Review: Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Killing Mr. Griffin
Lois Duncan

Genre: YA SuspenseThriller
Paperback: 223 Pages
Publication: April 1978
by Laurel Leaf Books


Mr. Griffin is the strictest teacher at Del Norte High, with a penchant for endless projects and humiliating his students. Even straight-A student Susan can't believe how mean he is to the charismatic Mark Kinney. So when her crush asks Susan to help a group of students teach a lesson of their own, she goes along. After all, it's a harmless prank, right?

But things don't go according to plan. When one "accident" leads to another, people begin to die. Susan and her friends must face the awful truth: one of them is a killer.


Killing Mr. Griffin is a suspenseful novel with very human characters. The premise for this novel, teenagers plotting to kidnap and scare their strict English teacher, is pretty cool but creepy. When I first read this as a kid in third grade, I really, really liked it. It could be because I was reading a story about teenagers, but it could also be because the tension is gradually built up. The fear isn’t so much about the horror of what the characters do, but more about how cool and collected one of the characters is throughout the majority of the novel. Seriously, if I were to run into this guy, I’d turn the other way and run away screaming because he is so terrifying.

The story features alternating storylines. They’re pretty interwoven from the get-go and don’t necessarily focus on one character at a time. There are brief stints with the main characters’ parents, but other than developing some of the characters’ traits, they don’t do much else. These random tangents aside, the secondary plots with Mr. Griffin’s wife and David’s grandmother work pretty okay, one more strongly than the other. They serve as other perspectives to the main plot and merge with it well later on.

Susan can readily be pointed out as the protagonist since she goes through the most growth and we follow her more than the other four main characters. Of the other characters, Jeff and Betsy fit more or less into the typical jock and cheerleader molds. David and Mark are slightly unusual in that they are only children from broken families. David is really kind and the most sympathetic of the main characters. He is probably my favorite character of the bunch. Mark is harder to figure out since he doesn’t fit into any stereotypical high school role but is still somewhat popular.

What about the title character? Well, we do get one scene of him with his students and another of him with his wife. The main characters talk about how mean he is, but that’s about all there is. For me, it would’ve been more effective to have those scenes play in flashbacks, especially the scene with Mark since he is the most bitter towards Mr. Griffin. Having had a few tough teachers in high school and college, I think this would’ve served as better justification as to why the characters want to do something to Mr. Griffin.

Something I enjoyed spotting that I don’t think I fully appreciated as a kid was the seventies mannerisms. Some of the names, the clothes, and the expressions are pretty dated and work within the context of this edition (on a side note, a lot of these references survived in the updated edition, which kind of takes away from the “updating”).

One thing that left me unsatisfied was the uncertainty of the ending. While the antagonist’s fate is pretty obvious even though we don’t see it, the outcomes for the other four aren’t as clear. The big question for me is with Susan. She is presented with two options at the end, and I want to know what she will pick given the implications of her decision. Another problem I had with the ending was how rushed it felt. One moment we’re left with an incredibly tense cliffhanger, then we fast-forward to almost two weeks later with Susan and her mother talking about what happened. There’s not enough material for a sequel in my mind, but I think there is definitely enough for a few more chapters and a more satisfying ending.

While the kids never planned his death, the ways they go about trying to cover their roles in it are pretty clever at certain points. It seems like they could get away with it, but ultimately we don’t know for sure. I still think Duncan could’ve written a few more chapters on that, but I can sort of see her reasoning in stopping where she did. On one hand, I like the characters and the thrills of the plot, but the uncertainty of the ending left me hanging. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

Additional Information
  • N/A

Similar Books
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  • The Snowman by R. L. Stine

  • Some language
  • Brief violence

Review: Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jersey Angel
Beth Ann Bauman

Genre: YA Contemporary
Hardback: 201 Pages
Publication: May 8, 2012
by Mary Lamb Books


It's the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She's not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn't sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn't start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn't want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn't want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself spending more time with Inggy's boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.

◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

Jersey Angel is an interesting read. One that I can entirely see people either loving or loathing. The writing is different from what I'm used to in contemporary books. It kind of reminds of The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block in that the writing is somber and gloomy. They're not afraid to delve into the dark side and show how crappy life can be. And both portray explicit sex scenes.

Angel is far from an angelic character. She is a free-spirited character who just wants to have fun—which entails a lot of sex and not being tied down to any one partner. She does a lot of questionable things. She's strung along nice-boy Joey for years, breaking up to sleep with other boys only to keep coming back. She sleeps with her best friend's boyfriend. And she sleeps with skinny, awkward, but sweet Kipper because she feels sorry for him being a virgin. She embraces her sexuality and seems to have charge of her life, but she's so much more than that.

She's also someone who doesn't want to grow up because she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. She can't find it within herself to apply herself to her studies or think about her future after high school. And within, she's a girl who yearns to know what love is but has a hard time understanding it. Angel is such an extreme character that I can see readers' reactions to the book hinging entirely on whether or not they can connect with her. While she may not be entirely likable at the beginning, I recommend giving her a try. She doesn't make any big revelations over the course of her story, but the glimmers of change can be seen.

There are flaws to the story. Time skips forward a lot in the narration, making it hard to keep track of the seasons, and Angel spends much of the first third of the novel mooning over Joey before other plot threads are introduced. The story also doesn't spend much time glossing over character motivation. I'm still not sure how things got started between Angel and Cork. Angel doesn't give Cork a chance to explain himself at the end of the story, so I'm not sure if there's more to him than what we get to see. Many other things happen during the story without explanation. While it's a part of natural life, I do wish that we got to spend more time getting to know the characters because there's so much underlying complexity that isn't fully explored.

I also want to give special note to the use of family in the novel. While Angel's family isn't the greatest—she has a slutty mother and an absent father, as well as a somewhat estranged step-family through her father—they still play a role in the story, and I love how they aren't mentioned in the beginning only to fall off the map later on. I especially like the role that her little half-sister plays in the story. Mimi idolizes Angel and keeps talking about how she wants to be just like her. It made me think about how important it is for us to set a good example for the younger generation.

Overall, Jersey Angel is a unique read that I recommend giving a chance. While there are holes in the writing, there is a lot here to be learned. Just take note that there is a lot of explicit scenes in the story and that Angel may not be the most likable character.

Additional Information
  • N/A

  • Language
  • Making out, touching, sex
  • Drinking, smoking, drugs

Review: Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker

Monday, June 16, 2014

Alecia Whitaker

Genre: YA Contemporary
Hardback: 320 Pages
Publication: July 1, 2014
by Poppy


The best songs come from broken hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family's bluegrass band, and playing everywhere from Nashville, Tennesee to Nowhere, Oklahoma. One fateful night, Bird fills in for her dad by singing lead, and a scout in the audience offers her a spotlight all her own.

Soon Bird is caught up in a whirlwind of songwriting meetings, recording sessions, and music video shoots. Her first single hits the top twenty, and suddenly fans and paparazzi are around every corner. She's even caught the eye of her longtime crush, fellow roving musician Adam Dean. With Bird's star on the rise, though, tradition and ambition collide. Can Bird break out while staying true to her roots?

In a world of glamour and gold records, a young country music star finds her voice.

◆ A copy was provided by Little Brown for review ◆

Another fantastic book from Alecia Whitaker! I read and loved The Queen of Kentucky back when it came out in 2012. What I remember (and love best) about Whitaker's writing is that she writes about teen girls in the midst of forging their identities and struggling to come to terms with who they are, and she's done it again in Wildflower. And, once again, she had me feeling the feels. So much I don't want to write this review because I was so busy enjoying the novel I forgot to take notes on what I'm supposed to be writing about.

Bird's voice is light and youthful. From the first pages, it had me hooked. So bad that I noticed during on the of couple times I came out of my reading reverie that I hadn't heard my family members talking in the same room—loudly. Her youthfulness means that she has big dreams, which sets her up for the crash when she realizes they aren't as easy to obtain as she hoped. Like Ricki Jo from The Queen of Kentucky, she plunges forward without much thoughts to the consequences, choosing instead to live on the thread of hope that everything will come true only to despair when they don't. She's also prone to thinking that she doesn't know the best for her, which made me sad since she relies on other people so much, and not all of them want the best for her as a person. Sometimes, I just wanted to slap some sense into her, but most of all I wanted to hug her and tell her to take the time to slow down a little and think about what she really wants instead of what she thinks she wants.

Two things really brightened this novel for me (other than Bird herself): family and the country vibes. Frequent blog visitors know that I'm big on family and always appreciate a good novel that has a present family (that sticks around and doesn't fade into the background). Having lived on the road with her family for most of her life, Bird is very close to her family, and they're so strong and supportive. I'm half in love with them. (The other half is with Adam and yearning for him alongside Bird. I have to know what happens between them!!! And no, I'm not speaking up about this anymore because spoilers!) I also love a good Western setting, which is the number one reason I picked up this book!

If I have any complaints, it's that time tends to skip a little in this book. The story doesn't really spend much time exploring any one events or time in Bird's life; rather, the big picture comes together through all these snippets. But this is a minor complaint. I don't know much about a singer's life, being far removed from this scene, but I probably don't need to or want to know about all the in-betweens in Bird's life. That said, it is a little jarring, especially when combined with Bird's tendency to rush into things and think later.

After this book, I'll probably give most anything Alecia Whitaker publishes a try. I'll definitely be on the lookout for Wildflower book two! I'm both happy and sad for Bird's success, and I look forwarding to seeing where she goes and how she matures from here on out!

 ... for the feels

Additional Information
  • N/A

  • Kissing

Imagine Weekly: Stacking the Shelves 6/15

Sunday, June 15, 2014
Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.


I received for review:

Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke (Goodreads | Amazon)
Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither (Goodreads | Amazon)
Some Boys by Patty Blount (Goodreads | Amazon)
The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory (Goodreads | Amazon)

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks, and Macmillan Tor / Forge
* Check out more book hauls through Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews *

Previous Week


What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and we'll check out your week's haul!

Review: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lies My Girlfriend 
Told Me
Julie Anne Peters

Genre: YA Contemporary
Hardback: 256 Pages
Publication: June 10, 2014
by Little Brown BFYR


When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life—secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to—but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

◆ A copy was provided by Little Brown for review ◆

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is a likable story with likable characters.

Following the death of their girlfriend Swanee, Alix and Liana discover each other and the double life that Swanee has been living. Both have been emotionally abused by Swanee and have a lot of pent up sadness and anger. As the only ones who understand what the other is going through, they find themselves drawn to each other. Initially, it's hard to connect with them as they alternately withdrawing and lashing out at the world in their grief. Alix especially because she doesn't provide an adequate explanation for why she was so depressed and in denial about Swanee's death.

I also don't see how Alix and Liana could be so drawn to each other in such a short period of time. Okay, I can kind of understand considering my own relationship experiences, but both of them were so very strongly drawn to Swanee—as in they thought they were holding forever. I'd expected more of a mourning period even after finding out that Swanee had been duping them. There isn't a strong development of the whole Swanee angle, which I expected considering how large of a role she played in the girls' lives, but it's okay since the story is mostly one of recovering, forgiveness, and finding new love.

It also feels like the stealing Swanee's phone and texting Liana angle was made out to be a greater deal than it is. Alix doesn't seem to have a reasong for withholding this bit of information from Liana, and Liana seems overly angry about the "prank texts" she received. It also doesn't come up all that often in the story—to the point that I wonder why it's there at all. It's not the only plot thread that's loosely woven in the story. All in all, there's a lot of potential for complexity in this novel, but it just didn't live up to them and ended up being a quick read. (Which isn't entirely bad.)

One of the greatest things about this novel is how it could be about anyone. As other reviewers have pointed out, you could replace any of the girls with someone else, boy or girl, and the story would be the same. While there is mention of the girls' sexuality, it isn't made out to be a huge deal or factor largely into the plot, which I liked. It's important to have books addressing the issues that come with sexuality, but it's also important to have books that accept it as a part of life.

Overall, Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is an interesting, captivating read once I got past the first pages and was able to form a connection with Alix and Liana. I recommend this as a quick contemporary read that addresses some serious topics.

Additional Information
  • N/A

  • Death
  • Language
  • Kissing, making out, touching

Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Taking
Kimberly Derting

Series: The Taking #1
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Hardback: 338 Pages
Publication: April 29, 2014
by Harper Teen


A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

Sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew jumps from a car while arguing with her father and disappears in a burst of light. 
When she wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she gets there. At home, she finds out that five years have passed, and she hasn’t aged a day. Her mother is remarried, her boyfriend Austin is in college and dating her best friend, and her father has become a drunken conspiracy theorist who believes that she was abducted by aliens. The only comfort and support she has is in Austin's little brother, Tyler, who has grown up into a very cute 17-year-old boy.

I like Kyra. She handles a difficult situation really well. Upon returning to her family, she discovers that she is younger than all of her friends, who are now in college. It is an especially awkward situation with her and her former boyfriend Austin because she's now younger than him, and he's dating her best friend. On top of it all, she is developing feelings for Austin's kid brother Tyler, who was only twelve years old the last time she saw him. Kyra is confused and lost, and she doesn’t know how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. Overall, she's a likable character, and I could connect with her easily.

Tyler is a sweet addition to the cast of character. The developing friendship between them is so adorable and heartwarming; the romance is very sweet, especially since Tyler finally has a chance to be with the girl he has crushed on for so long. He is completely loyal to Kyra and shows steadfast dedication in staying by her side. He's willing to do anything for her. She is so lucky to have someone like him in her life! He's someone a girl wants to bring back to her family.

The plot is fast paced. There are a lot of thrills and secrets that had me on the edge of my seat. I really like the idea of aliens taking people and altering them as some kind of experiment. That said, I would like to see more explanation on why they are doing what they do to the disappeared. I hope that the second book will provide a more satisfactory answer and further build the world that Kyra finds herself tangled up in.

The Taking is a suspenseful, mysterious, thrilling ride. Derting has provided a promising start for the next book by ending on a high note with conspiracies, underground rebel networks, and spooky government agencies.

Additional Information
  1. The Taking
  2. Untitled
  3. Untitled

Similar Books

  • Kissing

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hannah Harrington

Genre: YA Contemporary
Paperback: 288 Pages
Publication: August 28, 2012
by Harlequin Teen


Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

◆ A copy was provided by Harlequin for review ◆

Chelsea reminds me of Sam from Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall in that both are characters that are hard to like at first. While she has somewhat of a sense of right and wrong, she's also pretty clueless about the implications of her actions. All she wants is a little fun. But then her idea of fun sets in motion events that send a boy to the hospital, and she takes a vow of silence, believing that no good can come out of her words. Her story that follows is one of self-discovery, love, and forgiveness.

Though Chelsea can be pretty insensitive, she's well-meaning at heart and a likable character. As much as she cares about some shallow things, she's willing to make sacrifices to do what her heart tells her is the right thing to do, and she proves capable of learning from her mistakes. That isn't to say that she has strong conviction. The whole reason that she takes the vow of silence is because she doesn't trust herself to say the right things. This made her all the more endearing and realistic. As much as I love a strong, independent female character, I also love the ones that need encouragement and support to move forward.

The side characters were equally quirky and endearing. I love the cast the work at the diner. They're a bunch of fun characters that I would love to be friends with. They're down to earth and not afraid to call people out on their b***s***. (Yeah, there's some language flying around here, but not THAT much.) I don't want to start naming all the individual characters because that would be another review on its own; just know they're awesome, and I wish they had more screen time. If I have (and am) to give a special callout to someone though, it has to be Sam. I love me a dorky, imperfectly cute boy, and the scenes between him and Chelsea are so, so cute and giggle worthy. They had me smiling, in my happy place. They are beautiful and precious.

I especially love how, while the book tackles some deep issues, it does so with fun and humor. It fits in with Chelsea's personality and make the book a quick, easy read. I also love how Chelsea is close with her parents. While she does sneak around a little, her parents are a constant presence, and it is obvious that her family is close-knit despite the problems they encounter. The only complaint I really have about the story is that the narration jumps around a little and doesn't really explain how some things come to be or does so later in the story, such as Sam deciding to befriend Chelsea. Something or someone would be mentioned here, and then it will pop up again later. Plot threads and characters weren't developed all that much, though not to the point that it's unbearable.

Overall, Speechless is another powerful contemporary story from Hannah Harrington. While there are some problems with the writing, the message comes across, and I very much enjoyed the light style of writing. This is certainly a book that I will be recommending.

Additional Information
  • N/A

  • Language
  • Kissing, making out
  • Drinking, weed
  • Boy in room overnight

Review: Circle of Desire by Keri Arthur

Monday, June 9, 2014

Circle of Desire
by Keri Arthur

Series: Damask Circle #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 352 Pages
Publication: April 1, 2014
by Dell



Two children have been found dead, their souls torn from their bodies. Two more are missing, and Ethan Morgan’s niece is one of them. A dedicated cop, Ethan has every intention not only of bringing her back alive but of catching the monster behind these kidnappings. And he will use anyone and everyone to achieve those aims—even a crazy woman who claims to be a witch. But time is ticking. The victims rarely stay alive for more than seven days. Four of those days have already passed.

In ten years of working for the Damask Circle, shapeshifter Katherine Tanner has never come across anything that goes after kids the way this monster does. The last thing Kat needs is interference from a cop who has no idea what he’s up against. But the greatest threat to Kat may come not from the forces of darkness, but from the man she is beginning to love. Because Ethan is a werewolf... and the full moon is rising.

◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

Circle of Desire is a quick easy read. I picked this up while I was at the airport on a stopover and in need of some light reading. While the beginning wasn't as enthralling as the previous books in the series, the book gradually captivated me and magically glued my eyes to my Kindle.

The romance dominated the foreground in Circle of Desire, more so than I remember from the earlier books. In fact, Kat and Ethan's meetings often lead into steamy scenes narrated in excrutiating details that cross into erotica. While the romance focus caused the last book to fall flat for me, somehow it worked in this book. Maybe it's because I had more accurate expectations for the book or maybe the chemistry between Kat and Ethan really worked for me. Or maybe this book didn't try to compromise the action and the romance and instead focused on the budding relationship between the two shifters.

At the same time, the details do fall flat in other areas. Though Kat and Ethan are shown to feel each other's emotions, the story doesn't really get around to explaining the empathy shifters feel in their relationships, and information on the Damask Circle and its greater operations has also been withheld from us. Furthermore, the crime portions of the novel were lacking. While the crime scenes are described in gruesome detail, I never did feel afraid for the kidnapped children or their would-be saviors. The big bad guy just never felt as dangerous as everyone keeps saying she is. As nice as the romance is in the book, it would have been nice to see more action.

This is a great read for those looking for a steamy paranormal romance with some crime and action mixed in. If you're looking for a larger crime focus, then I'd recommend something like Hannah Jayne's Underworld Detection Agency series.

Additional Information
  1. Circle of Fire
  2. Circle of Death
  3. Circle of Desire

  • Makeout scenes
  • Explicit sex scenes
  • Violence