Book Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

forbidden

PLEASE NOTE: This book deals with the topic of incest and as such may be difficult for some readers.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As de facto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives and the way they understand each other so completely has also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: A love this devastating has no happy ending.

Forbidden is the type of book that it takes balls to write and extraordinary skill to write well. When I first heard the hype surrounding the book I kind of shrugged it off, but my interest was piqued due to the topic. Once I picked up this book though, nothing else mattered, it had all of my attention.

Forbidden is the story of the Whitely family, a family in a situation that too many families face. However, one thing is different, Lochlan and Maya even knowing the possible consequences are in love. The dynamic between the siblings and the situation they are in, it all makes you feel for them.

The entire book is these two teenagers giving everything they have to make sure that their younger siblings have a roof over their head, food in their tummies, and all the things they could need to have as good a life as possible. They deal with all the many facets of parenthood, forgoing their own lives essentially to be the protectors, a role that someone had to step into for their mother. That may not sound like much, but on top of that, Lochlan and Maya are dealing with a whole other beast. Love, for each other.

They know it’s wrong, and they know that there are a thousand horrible things that could happen to the family if anyone found out, but in the end they care for each other and need the support of one another. Then, boom, the end of this book is smacking you in the face and there are FEELS and TEARS. I think I sobbed into this book for a straight 15 to 20 minutes. It was ridiculous. But it was also powerful and it stuck with me and I couldn’t process it or even talk about it for days, because there are no words.

This book is amazing, but so is Tabitha Suzuma. She takes on the topic of this book, heavy duty as it is, and weaves an amazing, unputdownable story. This one could have gone either way, but she brought an eloquence to the table that I haven’t seen in some time. I truly believe that she was brave as all hell to write this story and I am so glad she did. Absolutely pick it up, I know I’ll be looking for more from this author! 5/5 Stars!

ALSO, PLEASE make yourself available for discussion for the young reader in your life who picks this one up!

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Book Review: Nash by Jay Crownover

nashSynopsis from Goodreads:

Will their past determine their future?
Saint Ford has worked hard to achieve her childhood dream of becoming of nurse. Focused on her work and devoted to her patients, there’s no room for love. She doesn’t need a guy making waves in her calm, serene life—especially when he’s the unforgettable hottie who nearly destroyed her in high school. Dark, brooding Nash Donovan might not remember her or the terrible pain he caused. But he turned her world upside down… and now he’s trying to do it again.
Saint has no idea that Nash isn’t the cocky player he once was. Uncovering a devastating family secret has rocked his world, and now he’s struggling to figure out his future. He can’t be distracted by the pretty nurse he seems to meet everywhere. Still, he can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them —or how she seems so desperate to get away from him. But the funny, sweet, and drop-dead gorgeous Saint is far too amazing to give up on—especially since she’s the only thing in his life that seems to make sense.
When Nash discovers the truth about their past, he realizes he may have lost her heart before he could even fight for it. Now, Saint has to decide: is Nash worth risking herself for all over again?

Nash is the fourth installment in the Marked Men series and oh man, did Ms. Crownover take this book (and likely, this series) to a whole new level. I loved the first three books even with their slightly unbelievable bits and awful editing, but reading Nash was literally like a breath of fresh air. I’m so glad I got hooked on this series.

Nash was introduced in the first book and I’ve been curious about him ever since. He seemed to be a bit of a mysterious character and it wasn’t until book three that we start catching glimpses of who he really is. In this book Nash’s character has become so well developed, and even though he isn’t perfect, I can’t help but love him. Saint, too is just a totally loveable character. She’s so real and down to earth and it’s impossible not to relate to her in one way or another.

Nash and Saint’s story truly sucked me in. Between their separate backstories, their high school history, and the redevelopment of their relationship as adults I could not stop reading this book – it literally kept me up until 5 in the morning. Every bit of this story was just done brilliantly.

I don’t know how many ways I can say it, but Nash was phenomenal. It is a character driven story, which is something that I love personally, and it is at the same time a very emotional story that just grabs you by the (lady)balls and doesn’t let go. The writing, the story, and the editing is all just at a whole new level and I can’t stop fangirling about it all once I start.

Bottom line, Nash is amazing! I absolutely adored this book and I have a feeling I’ll be rereading it many a time. The characters, the feels, the story – it’s got it all. 5/5 stars.

The Marked Men series:

1. Rule
2. Jet
3. Rome
4. Nash
5. Rowdy
6. Asa (Expected Release April 14, 2014)

Book Review: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

theduchesswarSynopsis from Goodreads:

Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.

Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly–so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don’t get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he’s up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he’s determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…

The first full length novel of The Brothers Sinister series, The Duchess War made for a great introduction to the characters that we follow through the main three books. While the prequel novella whetted my appetite for the series, this book quite simply pulled me into it’s grasp and didn’t let go.

The main characters and lovebirds in this particular story are Robert Blaisdell, Duke of Clermont and Minerva Lane, or Minnie, not of a titled or well-to-do family. There was a lot about these characters that I just absolutely loved. Minnie has this very scandalous past, but it’s hardly scandalous in the way that one would expect from a historical novel and I love that about Milan’s books. Robert on the other hand is this very affluent figure, yet he has this whole agenda that the peerage would lose themselves over. They’re both very strong characters, but they compliment each other very much and I just loved reading about them in this book.

The story itself is fantastic. As I mentioned before there is a lot happening in this book. Or at least, the book is kinda of built off of a lot of things that have happened to our main characters. Both the Duke of Clermont and Minnie have these secrets that they’re guarding and don’t want to get out. Hidden agenda’s, and scandals that have long since past, and making up for what other people did. It’s all very interesting, but it’s also still a love story… a romance novel. Mad props go to Courtney Milan who has kept me up late reading her books more than once recently.

Bottom line, The Duchess War is fantastic. I loved it, it was a very fresh take on historical romance for me personally and I love what she’s doing with this series. Definitely recommended if you’re a fan of historical romance or looking to give it a try. 4/5 stars.

The Brothers Sinister series:
0.5. The Governess Affair
1. The Duchess War
1.5. A Kiss for Midwinter
2. The Heiress Effect
3. The Countess Conspiracy

Book Review: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

thegovernessaffairSynopsis from Goodreads:

She will not give up…

Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.

He cannot give in…

Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…

Courtney Milan is a name that I’ve seen around quite a bit since I started reading romance novels a couple of years ago, but surprisingly enough I hadn’t picked up my first book by her until recently. I signed this eBook out of my library on a whim and am I glad I did. I loved it!

Characters. Serena and Hugo were a pleasure to read about. It’s unfortunate, but all too true, that a lot of characters from the different romance genres can start to blend together, but these two characters were refreshing. They had these great personalities and both were so stubborn that it just made for some very fun reading. The budding relationship between Serena Barton and Hugo Marshall was an awesome base for Milan to build the Brothers Sinister series off of.

Story. I loved the story. I feel like Milan did a great job creating something realistic out of a time period we know to be strict in a lot of ways. The way that everything came together was really just perfect in my mind.

Bottom line, The Governess Affair was a great read. There was a lot of entertainment packed into this novella, so it’s no wonder I’ve continued on with the series! This is absolutely recommended and one I’ll be revisiting! 4/5 stars.

The Brothers Sinister Series:

0.5. The Governess Affair
1. The Duchess War
1.5. A Kiss for Midwinter
2. The Heiress Effect
3. The Countess Conspiracy

Graphic Novel Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Leigh Dragoon & Emma Vieceli

vampacademygraphicSynopsis from Goodreads:

After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It’s filled with intrigue, danger—and even romance.

Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.

I adore Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, so it was only a matter of time before I jumped into the graphic novels. Overall, I did enjoy this. It was a super quick sort of read.

The story: I found the story itself to be adapted quite well for this format. I’m very familiar with the story, but if I weren’t I would not have been lost while reading because all of the important things were there. That being said, I did find some of the transitions to be a bit abrupt. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book or anything, but it was noticeable while reading.

The art: All in all, I liked the art. There was a lot of detail packed into the drawings, plus I thought that the way it was drawn out fit the feel of the story. My favorite part of the art though is the use of color. In particular, the background colors. The artist used great background color to really set the mood, or feel of each particular part of the story.

Bottom line, I really enjoyed this telling of Vampire Academy. It’s a great way to brush up on the story line of the first book quickly and I’ll definitely be going back for more of the Vampire Academy graphic novels. 4/5 stars.

Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

gameofthronesAKA, In Which I Attempt to Concisely Review a Book Where All the Shit Happens.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

I’m not sure that there is much to say about A Game of Thrones that hasn’t already been said. It’s hugely popular, epic, and either well loved or hated by many. It’s the epic piece of that that has kept me from reading it since it was recommended to me… oh, four or five years ago. I did it though, I conquered the first book!

Let’s talk characters. There are so many characters in this book. Parts large and small, people who are truly good, pure evil, somewhere in between, and those who you just don’t know what to do with. The characters were so well written that at times when I didn’t want to like a character I still kind of ended up liking them… With some (obvious) exceptions. It’s quite impressive that there are all these amazingly fleshed out characters in a book as long and involved as this one. Another thing that I give GRRM props for is managing to write a book from as many points of view as he did here and making it work. It wasn’t an overload like I thought it would be, but rather flowed quite nicely from character to character and so on.

The story itself was essentially exactly what I expected. This fantastical, medieval journey in a place just out of one war and on the brink of another was just so well done, plain and simple. The story kept me at the edge of my seat, I savored each page, and spent several nights reading until 5 or 6 am. It ran the gamut from cruel to bittersweet with a few adorable moments – but it was mostly harsh if I’m honest. A Game of Thrones is a book that’s very in your face and I loved it.

While this was a very good, fantastic read, I do have one bone to pick. One story line in particular was just too obvious. So obvious it was painful. And while I appreciate Martin’s attempt to give us this particular back story so to speak, I just wish something about it had been different. That it had kept me guessing more. The anticipation was a huge part of what made my reading experience awesome, yet I lost that for this bit.

That being said, I’m hooked. I can’t wait to dig in to more of the series. I’m really, really curious about where the stories of Arya, Sansa, Robb, Jon, Tyrion, Daenerys, and many others are going to go. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t waiting for a few deaths in particular… mean as that may be! Either way, A Game of Thrones is a win. 4.5/5 stars.

The A Song of Ice and Fire Series:

1. A Game of Thrones
2. A Clash of Kings
3. A Storm of Swords
4. A Feast for Crows
5. A Dance with Dragons
6. The Winds of Winter (To Be Released sometime in 2015)

Book Review: Dream Huntress by Michelle Sharp

dreamhuntressSynopsis from Goodreads:

Detective Jordan Delany has a gift. Through her dreams, she connects with dead victims of violent crimes. Her isolated life as a drug cop is perfect for hiding the freakish visions, until her newest investigation has her posing as a cocktail waitress in a down-and-dirty strip club. When
she’s saved from a drunken customer by a handsome stranger, the heated chemistry is exactly why she intends to keep Mr. Arrogant at bay. But learning he’s the new bouncer for the corrupt club she intends to bust just might be the one reason why she can’t.
Tyler McGee suspects a drug ring operating out of the local club is flooding the streets of his hometown with heroin. Determined to get answers, he plays the part of a fallen cop and lands the job of head bouncer. What he discovers is that the club owner isn’t the only deadly obstacle he’s facing. His attraction to an intriguing cocktail waitress with a penchant for danger just might kill him first.

Note: I received a copy of Dream Huntress from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Once Dream Huntress was brought to my attention and I checked out the synopsis, I must say I was intrigued. Suspense and paranormal stuffs plus a romance? Please and thank you. This book was one hell of a ride, especially for a debut novel.

Characters… what’s not to love (or in some cases, hate)? Jordan, our leading lady, is pretty badass though not without her faults. There are a lot of things about her that bring out the ‘you go girrrl!’ mentality and yet I did pick up on the ‘DUH’ moments too. She was very relatable and real for a character that has this totally unrelatable thing going on in her life. Our other main character Tyler was quite the charmer if I may say so myself. He was an incredibly refreshing male character in that there was no fighting the relationship or feelings that came alive when he met Jordan. Once he realized he cared for her in more than a protector of the realm way he just went with it. From moment one I loved these two together.

In addition to writing two great main characters, Sharp also wrote her secondary characters in a way that invests you into their stories. You want justice for some, jail (and worse) for others, and in the case of Bahan – a book, I would so read his story. Just sayin’.

One of the biggest positives of Dream Huntress for me was that the story picks up right away. There’s no slow going or boring intro. When you start reading you know within a few pages what’s happening. Boom, here’s your story and it was brilliant. That said, I was sucked into the story so quickly because of how it was written. It was like getting enough information that the story could move from page one, but not enough that I knew what was coming next so I had no desire to put the book down. There was definitely that constant sense of, how exactly is this going to down…

Another thing I’ve got to mention is the way that this ability to connect to the dead manifested in the story. It was done very well. A lot of times when a paranormal ability like that gets brought in, there’s potential for it to be cheesy if it’s not done right. Not the case here. Jordan’s ability has had a huge effect on her life and we’re able to pick up on that. In addition, when she’s actually having these dreams, they’re written in a way that makes you feel what’s going on. I won’t lie, I nearly got chills reading the first nightmare Jordan had in the book. It was fantastic!

There’s only one thing that really bothered me in this book and that was the way that our main characters would fight at times, whether with each other or themselves. It added a bit of unnecessary drama in my eyes (mostly because communication could have prevented so much trouble), but I didn’t let it take away from my overall enjoyment of this book.

All in all, Dream Huntress is a fantastic debut novel. There’s a great story, it’s got great flow, and it’s just very well written. I’ll be looking for more from Michelle Sharp for sure. A solid 4/5 stars.