[643]: The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones

24154660-1 The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson, #10
St. Martin’s Griffin | June 24th, 2016
Source: ARC via Net Galley
Adult Fiction | Paranormal | Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


As a Part-time PI and full-time grim reaper, Charley Davidson has asked a lot of questions throughout her life: Why can I see dead people? Who is the hot supernatural entity following me? How do I get gum out of my sister’s hair before she wakes up? But, “How do I trap not one malevolent god, but three?” was never among them. Until now. And since those gods are on earth to kill her daughter, she has little choice but to track them down, trap them, and cast them from this dimension.

There’s just one problem. One of the three stole her heart a very long time ago. Can the Razer, a god of absolute death and destruction, change his omniscient spots, or will his allegiances lie with his brothers?

Those are just a few of the questions Charley must answer, and quick. Add to that a homeless girl running for her life, an innocent man who’s been charged with murder, and a pendant made from god glass that has the entire supernatural world in an uproar, and Charley has her hands full. If she can manage to take care of the whole world-destroying-gods thing, we’re saved. If not, well…


Ah…Charley. My love for you and your husband is so complete that there is no possible way Ms. Jones could ever do anything to make me hate you. Save for maybe a sudden introduction of the most annoying plot device in the history of writing (love triangle),  I just don’t see myself ever rating your books less than 5 stars (knock on the wood). I can’t tell you how happy I was when I learned that there were to be two releases in one year for this series. I don’t know why Ms. Jones did that, but I’m not going to complain. If anything, I want to go Kathy Bates on her ass and chain her to her writing desk until her fingers bleed. Sadly, I hear that kind of thing is frowned upon and would apparently land me in jail, so I guess I have no choice but to wait with the rest of the peasants.

back to reality

This is a month after Charley’s memory came back. Back to regular programming. The human race’s  survival rests upon a month-old baby in hiding. And Charley came back with a few secrets – which strains her relationship with Reyes – who, by the way, seems to be avoiding her like the plague. That in itself is a little tough to do considering they’re married. But what was once a very sexually active relationship has cooled down considerably. Charley has no idea why, but at the same time, she’s terrified to ask. Because that would  entail Reyes consequently asking questions of his own.

little bo beep

In the meantime, Beep is still hidden and guarded by a whole army of …well, guardians. Charley and Reyes are attempting to deny their longing for their child, but they both know that they would only be leading their enemies directly to Beep. I’m excited for what this little person could do! At least, from what the story has been leading up to. The possibility of her being more powerful than her parents and her fated romance with Osh. It reminds me of Jacob imprinting on Reneesme, to be honest [insert uncomfortable giggling here], but I don’t really care one bit. I do wonder if there’s going to be a spinoff featuring Beep when she’s a little bit older. Oh, the possibilities!

in retrospect

This is one of those series that I wouldn’t mind reading forever. It could go on and on until I have an entire Charley Davidson-Farrow library. It’s hilarious, sexy, and so much fun. You’re always guaranteed a good time with every installment. Ms. Jones, as usual, has a cachè of fresh sarcasm and wit. It’s never the same so you’re always treated to her comedic brilliance. Keep them coming is what I say!

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[641]: Burn by Paula Weston

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Burn

by Paula Weston

Tundra Books | June 7th, 2016 | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Once upon a time, angel books are a dime a dozen. And even though it’s been reinvented in every conceivable way known to man, it wasn’t long before I got over it. I can only stomach so much forbidden love between an angel and a human. Gabriel and Michael have been cannoned to within an inch of their lives that I could no longer tell whether or not they’re God’s or Lucifer’s instruments. So yeah. I was over it.

I’ve always been a fan of Aussie authors and their contemporary fiction so I’ve never really strayed from that genre. I was easily coerced to read Shadows back in 2012; the postage I paid was astronomical. But I had no regrets. In strange ways books find their way in your shelves, that’s how Shadows came into mine. I was full of cynism at first (along the lines of, not another angel book! ). But two chapters in, I knew I was going to have a life-long relationship with Paula Weston’s Rephaim series.

Before

Soon after their reunion, Gaby’s and Jude’s memories came back with a vengeance. Events that led them to how they were separated played out like a reel of film in Gaby’s forgotten life.  Some revelations may be hard to stomach, but they’ll both be powerless to stop the onslaught.  Ultimately, all they’re looking for is a way to live without the threat of a war that could end their existence. Along the way, they learned more about their parentage and the secrets Nathaniel and The Garrison has hidden from the sons and daughters of The Fallen.

This is the End

If you haven’t read these books yet, then I envy you. Not only because you’re about to discover a brilliant series whose main M.O. is to give readers heart palpitations, but because you will not have to wait for installments. Paula Weston knows how to reel her readers in, and depending on how you feel about cliffhangers, be warned that she is the reigning queen. Truth be told, I waited until Burn came out last year (Australian release)  before I gave in and read Shimmer. I just couldn’t handle the wait.

Alas, all the books are here. This is the end of the line. It’s been four years since I discovered this series. Four years of waiting for answers.  And the one thing that I dread the most was exactly as painful as I thought it would be. I wanted to know the wedge that created the separation between Gaby and Jude. I wanted to know why Rafa insisted that if Gaby knew the truth, she’ll hate him forever. Those answers were a little tough to read. But I persevered. I can’t believe this series happened in a span of a week! A series years in the making. Talk about painstaking plotting.

The Rephaim series filled me with hopeless dread. Each book gave relief but exacted a different kind of torture for another year. It is the kind of series any book lover could obsess about. Every single installment gives you a flavourful bite, but you’ll be ravenous for a bigger piece of the pie.  And yet, even with my irrational fear and dread of reading the books, I couldn’t stop. Overall, I’m sad this series is over because I feel like their lives are just starting. I wouldn’t mind seeing them do banal things instead of kicking ass day in and day out.

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[639]: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

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The City of Mirrors

by Justin Cronin


I’ve only recently discovered this series – in February to be exact. I found a hardback at a flea market last summer, but I didn’t really pick it up until the audiobook went on sale in February of this year. It was the kind of book that had me instantly hooked. So of course, I had to listen to the next one soon after. My feelings didn’t change. In fact, I think I was even more in love with the second one. The third and final book took four years to write so if you’ve been a fan since the first book came out, I can only sympathize. But I can tell you that I can relate if you’re having a hard time writing what you felt after everything is said and done.

the story

Years after The Twelve has been destroyed, humanity attempts to build a life outside the walls that had protected them from the virals. There’d been no signs of them, no attacks since The Twelve has been killed. Complacent, but otherwise determined, the humans decided to test the waters outside the walls.

In New York, Zero’s plans once again rid the world of humanity begins with someone who had helped defeat The Twelve. This time, he’s driven by revenge. Amy and Carter lay in wait while a pocket of humans prepares for war once again. This is the last stand; the war that could definitively end a century of darkness. Or the war that could start it all over again.

the burden of reviewing the passage series

And so we come to the end of this wonderful series. An end that was daunting, breath-taking, and bittersweet. A story spanning a century and generations of survivors but with one common denominator: the one that saved humanity from complete annihilation. Reading these books truly is a labor of love. You need patience because the books are heavier than your average novel. Shedding all your presumptions about the vampire lore is also a requirement. There are no coffins, and no crosses to save your soul. In a way that the vampire lore has been romanticized over the years, Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy reinvented the myth and gave it a biological origin with a bit of theology thrown into the mix.  It’s the ultimate good vs. evil; angels and demons. But prayers can’t save you in this dimension.

This book was everything I hoped for, but somehow not enough. The ending should’ve given me a sense of resolution and acceptance but it didn’t. That’s not to say it was a bad series-ender. It isn’t. That’s not even possible, in my opinion. Justin Cronin is a master story teller. Each book was perfectly conceptualized and intricately plotted. It’s been a while since I’ve been awed by a series with this caliber. And I tell you, I’ve read quite a few 5-star reads in the past.  As I sit here and try to put my thoughts into words, I’ve been thinking about how vastly unfair my book rating has been. Because there are 5-star reads, and then there’s Justin Cronin’s books. It’s a whole another level of greatness.

 

 

 

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[637]: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys


Books about wars from any period tend to leave a lasting effect on me. Stories about the struggle, the hunger, the pain, and anger stay longer than I’d care to admit. Mostly, I’m overcome with admiration to the characters; it had me thinking about how I could never have survived  had I lived in that era. I’m particularly drawn to stories about World War II. Two years ago, I was completely enamored with Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and Michael Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Then, last year, I discovered Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena; it’s not set in the same time period, but just as affecting regardless. It was a book set during the Chechen war. But these books have one thing in common: they were written by authors who has an uncanny ability to transform horrific tales into something beautiful. Salt to the Sea was no different.

Book Description

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets. Each one born of a different homeland; each one haunted by tragedy, lies…and war. As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. Yet not all promises can be kept.

One of the reasons that I enjoy reading books in this genre is that it affords me  the opportunity to learn something. Before starting this, I knew nothing about Wilhelm Gustloff or the “Amber Room”. After I wiped the snot dripping off my nose, I took to the trusty Wikipedia and did a bit of side reading.  It did indeed happen. For a moment or two, I felt the same indignance Ms. Sepetys felt for the way we’ve dismissed this disaster. We certainly haven’t given it the same reverence as we do the Titanic. And I know it’s tough considering who were on the ship to begin with. But we need to remember that they were mostly refugees and victims of war and that they, too, deserve to be remembered.

Reading historical fiction is not always going to be an easy read. More often, they tend to be heavy on the narrative and dry. Salt to the Sea is not the kind of historical fiction, however. Sepetys’ writing has a one-sitting type of reading quality. The pacing was swift and not at all inundated by the four-person points of view.  She set up the novel in such a way that readers would have a heavy weight on their chests, ominously waiting for that looming heartbreak.  There was sporadic humor that felt out of place, but I felt was necessary. It made the story even more endearing.

And of course, the characters. Oh, these lovely characters! They were full of life, and love. Despite the hopelessness of their situation, this motley crew was one of the most compelling band of characters I’ve read in a long time. They looked out for each other, bonded by the will to survive.  There were romance and stories of their lives before the war.  They were heartbreaking, poignant and gorgeous – but mostly, sad. Box of tissues required.

 

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[634]: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

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Marked in Flesh

by Anne Bishop


There’s a myriad of reasons why I love this series. As a reader whose tastes tend to lean towards stories that are more in touch with reality, The Others is one of the few paranormal series that slipped through that filter. Typically, I’m drawn to the romance that a book promises. This series, however, doesn’t offer much in that respect. And that is why it’s astounding (especially to me) that I’ve consistently rated them high with every installment. So what is it about them that keep me coming back?

For one, Ms. Bishop has created a world that to me, is fascinating. Now if you’re a regular reader of paranormal fantasy, you would probably consider hers as one of many. But since I have no basis for which to compare it to, I remain amazed. After all, I can only name at least one other series that I follow in this genre: The Black Dagger Brotherhood. And that’s about the extent of my experience.

Second, Meg and Simon themselves know how to tease me enough with their budding romance. Confounding, really. Because if it were another book, the slow as molasses progression would have me running out the door faster than you can say DNF.  That is not the case here.  I love how seemingly innocent they are. Simon has no experience whatsoever in handling a relationship with a human. Meg does not have any experience with any healthy relationships period. Together, they are sweet, funny, and more often, silly – which makes them so irresistible.

Third, the anticipation of reading the demise of the Human First Last Movement. Truth be told, I thought it was unrealistic how far The Others have let them. It took too long to snuff them out considering how easily they can destroy their enemies. It’s just silly, I thought. So with every installment, I waited upon bated breath.

There is an underlying social relevance to these books that I’m just now realizing. Nowadays, talks of climate change and its deniers persist in social media platforms. Some political groups insist that humans are in no way responsible for the increasing greenhouse gases that contribute to Earth’s rising temperatures. But scientists insist that we are destroying the only place we call home. We have the same scenario in this series, albeit the humans were only too happy to accept responsibility. Sometimes, I wish that we have the same creatures governing the world’s natural resources.  Because if you think about it, we would probably live more harmoniously in a world where war can easily be eradicated by much more superior supernatural  beings. The conflict in the Middle East would not exist because the land would not be owned by Israel or Palestine. Countries cannot invade other countries. There will be no Axis of Evil. World peace is not just a wish uttered by beauty pageant contestants. It could be a reality if The Others actually existed.

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[633]: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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Tell Me Three Things

by Julie Buxbaum

I love and hate this book in equal measure. It is a dangerous book to read because it has the ability to put you in a deep reading rut. I feel like I should apologize to The Raven King because I can barely get through its first hundred pages; which is a damn shame because I’ve been waiting forever and a day to read it. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to finish a single book since finishing this one. And for the life of me, I just can’t move on. Depending on the type of reader you are, Tell Me Three Things can be hazardous to the health of your TBR pile. It’s either going to reaffirm your love for the written word or as in my case, it will stunt your reading groove.

Truthfully, I’m envious of those who haven’t discovered the sweetness of Tell Me Three Things. The romance, the characters, the storyline, and the dialogues – everything about it is a reminder of why I can never stop reading YA. Some books with a high school setting typically have the opposite effect on me. Most of the time, I can barely tolerate it. But this book exemplifies the type of contemporary YA I will keep coming back to.

It features a couple of characters who are adorably awkward in their own ways; the loss of their loved ones contributed to them being socially stunted – introverts, in their own respects. Somebody Nobody, for one, was living a double life. His other persona, though gregarious on the surface, was a reluctant participant in the social hierarchy in which he occupies a closer to the top wrung. He shies away from it which makes him a novelty and irresistible to girls and boys alike.

In contrast, Jesse stumbled on pretty much every facet of her new life. Having recently lost her mother and her dad consequently marrying almost soon after, her new life in Los Angeles is a far cry from the comfort of Chicago. She lives in a mansion. She goes to a prestigious school where everyone is practically a typical Californian. To top it off, she has a stepbrother who would rather forget that they ever existed. The only saving grace that stopped  her from running back to Chicago was the correspondence from an online good Samaritan who felt the need to befriend her, albeit, anonymously. Somebody Nobody gave her guidance and tutelage with regards to the working annals of her new school.

Though the author did her best to give us viable suspects on the identity of SN, I half-expected, half-hoped who he was. The contenders gave me pause, made me think of the possibility at least.  There’s Liam who was responsible for her part-time job at the bookstore his family owns; Caleb – the all around goofball and friend to Liam. Then there’s Ethan – a loner, aloof, an enigma with a predilection to Batman t-shirts. I loved “trying” to solve the identity of SN. Let me tell you that it’s not going to take you long before you catch on. But the mystery is just gravy, in my opinion.

Indeed, this book is a mine of story niches. It’s lovely and touching; funny and smart. I love watching Jess figure out how to navigate her new life despite grieving for her mother and dealing with abandonment issues from her father. I love watching her slowly accept the reality of having a step family. I eventually loved her step brother whom, when push came to shove, would protect her from the token Mean Girls of the school. Characters, even secondary ones, grew on me. They made me laugh and made me grin like a fool at inopportune moments. I especially adore Jesse’s interactions with “my suspect”.

Once in a while, I find a book like this that becomes an instant favorite within a couple of chapters into reading it. It’s in the way the story is constructed; the characters imagined. It’s in the ease in which I fall helplessly in love with everything that’s unfolding before me. And once in a while, there’s a book like this that makes me lose my appetite for everything else on my shelves. For that reason, I almost wish I never read the book in the first place. Almost, but not quite.

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[628]: She’s Not There

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She’s Not There

by Joy Fielding


Double Day Canada                                                                                       February 23, 2016


I was in a reading rut. A hell I would not wish on my fond enemy. But on Saturday, I finally found reprieve. She’s Not There threw the proverbial raft to save me from an ocean of misery.

About the book

It’s been 15 years since Caroline’s daughter disappeared from her crib at a hotel in Mexico on their 10th year wedding anniversary. Every year on the day of her disappearance, she’s had to deal with the guilt and the shame that the entire world has made her feel. The world hasn’t forgiven her. She hasn’t forgiven herself. And yet, she’s never lost hope. So when she receives a phone call from a girl who claims that she might be her long-lost daughter, she followed her instinct and flew to Canada to meet her. But she didn’t show up. Days later, she showed up at her doorstep in San Diego and threw her life into a frenzy. Old wounds and old hurts will be opened. Lili’s appearance might very well widen the distance between Caroline and her oldest daughter’s already difficult relationship. But Caroline will face anything – even being hounded by the media – just for a chance to finally find out the truth, absolve her of guilt, and to be reunited with a piece of her heart that’s been missing for 15 years.

My Thoughts

Joy Fielding perfectly captures a parent’s worst nightmare in her latest work. While I never would leave my kids in a hotel room all to themselves (especially at such young ages), she shows how easily it was for Caroline to succumb to her then husband’s reassurances that everything was fine. Caroline took the brunt of the blame and the ridicule that the world threw their way. Never mind, that it was her husband’s suggestion to leave the kids in their room while they  dined with their friends. Never mind that her husband only stayed a week longer than her three months waiting for word from the authorities. She was unfairly scrutinized to within an inch of her life. But even if I was angered by this, I can’t help but feel that Caroline did have a victim complex. She didn’t speak up. She didn’t cry foul. She took all of the injustices in stride. She even took the abuse from her oldest daughter. I don’t know if it was because they already had a precarious relationship to begin with, but the tension between the two never let up over the years.

This book made me go through a tumult of emotions for all the characters involved. I was angered by the ex-husband who lied when he said he checked out the kids when he didn’t; I was mad at the world who cast the stone at Caroline; I was even mad at the tempestuous older daughter who was difficult from the get go.

She’s Not There was a one-sitting read for me. I read it with ease all thanks to Joy’s effortless writing. I recommend this to those who enjoys light psychological thriller and an emotional powerhouse. This book gave voice to a resonating nightmare that I bury at the back of my mind every time I leave my 14-year-old and my 9-year-old at home. I always tell them to set the house alarm. Lock the doors. Don’t answer the phone from an unfamiliar number, and never, ever answer the door when someone knocks and we’re not home. It’s that sick feeling I always get whenever I’m not around my kids.

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[627]: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

13281368 Double Day Canada | October 16th, 2012
Paperback, 568 pp.
Adult Fiction | Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
GOODREADS | CHAPTERS | AMAZON


The end of The Passage left most of the characters in variations of unresolved situations. For the most part, we knew the ones who aren’t coming back. As for the rest, short of keeping a nightly vigil, the most that we could offer for was hope. Hope that all the heartbreaks, struggles, and sacrifices weren’t all for naught. But let’s be real.  When the enemy is as formidable as The Twelve and their familiars, one can’t help but lose all hope. Admittedly, there was only one thing I was dying to see:  the direction of where Amy and Peter’s relationship would be. Well, all I can say is, the situation is about as clear as mud. And I really wish that there is something good waiting for them in The City of Mirrors.

So in this book, we await the promised eventual demise of The Twelve. For lack of a better word, they are the “forefathers” of the vampires or virals that ravaged humanity. The theory is, kill The Twelve and the rest of the infected will perish. So Amy’s army split up in the beginning of the book to hunt them down. In the meantime, Alicia’s abilities are changing. She’s becoming more attuned to the undead; she’s hearing them more clearly and communicating with them in ways that Amy was only able to do in the beginning. And whatever changes she’s going through, Amy can also sense the same within her.

The Twelve is an extension of its predecessor; in such a way that it went back to the early days of the contagion and what happened to some characters which a lot of us have probably written off as dead and gone. Characters like Lila – Wolgast’s ex-wife and how she somehow blocked everything that happened as the world was thrown into chaos. But if you think their stories are an attempt to prolong an unnecessary sequel, you might want to guess again. Without giving away too much of the story, these sub-characters will have a direct and indirect impact to the world a hundred years into the future. Justin Cronin once again showed us how particular he was in plotting this story. To go back and forth between times and characters is painstaking work, but he did it in such a way that it didn’t leave the plot in a soggy, dogged mess.

For a time, I was worried by the absence of virals killing humans. With every turn of the page, I kept waiting for a massacre to come. It turns out, the virals have found an innovative way to torture and maim what’s left of mankind. In a compound in Iowa, a government of hybrid virals has learned to make slaves and meals out of humans. Fittingly, the showdown between The Twelve and Amy will happen here. And it’s not without fatal cost to Amy’s friends.

I can never recommend this series enough. I know it’s probably a bit more verbose than you’re used to, but trust me when I say all the word vomit is essential. It’s a struggle to review because there are so many facets to the story that I can never cover. But if you find yourself in a position to wallow in a book for a week, you should start this series.

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[611]: The Passage by Justin Cronin

6690798 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: The Passage, #1
Ballantine Books | Hardcover, 766 pages
Publication Date: June 10th, 2010
Adult Fiction | Horror, Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her.

As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.


This book was unbelievably good. At first, I was a little intimidated by its heft and I wasn’t quite sure what the book was about. The synopsis does not offer much. All I can infer was it was a book about a contagion that started in a lab gone wrong. Soon it will be revealed that the creatures were vampires in essence. They are strong and fast. They hunger for human blood. But while Vlad the Impaler didn’t make an appearance, another equally sinister and dubious “creator” was present and accounted for.

Apocalyptic novels and films usually begin in two ways: one, man can’t leave things well enough alone so they go to remote places of the world to find an artifact of great value – not for wealth, but indulgence. But since they don’t know enough about the artifact’s history, they will inadvertently unearth a curse or in this case, a creature that’s been left sleeping in peace until they wake it from its slumber. Second, mankind’s greed for power and domination over their kind that leads them to trouble time and time again. They create a biological weapon out of conceit. Unleashing an irreversible devastation that none of them would have the chance to defeat because it will overpower any kind of weaponry known to mankind.

The Passage started as it should. The end of the world rooted to man’s boundless greed and ambition. The U.S. government employed the help of a Harvard microbiologist to create a breed of super soldiers in an effort to staunch the terrorist attacks that have been happening more on U.S. soil. They infected twelve convicts on death row to become a race of soldiers of great strength, agility and endurance. But the experiment backfires, plunging the world into darkness, chaos, and death; bringing the human population to near extinction.

THE THIRTEENTH

The thirteenth infected was a child of six. Amy was abandoned by her mother at a convent in the care of Sister Lacey. She was a quiet child who saw things and felt things that any adult person would be scared of. Although Amy didn’t turn into a monster, she’s become something else altogether. She will age slowly; she doesn’t get hurt easily. And she’s somehow able to form a mental connection with The Twelve and the millions of people that are infected. She will play an important role in saving what’s left of humanity.

THE FIRST COLONY

A hundred years later, only 94 people survived in a Fort Knox-like community (or so they thought). Vampires, as the myth goes, cannot survive in the daylight. So by eliminating nights altogether, this pocket of civilization managed to avoid the millions of vampires roaming the Earth. But it will not last. Their power source is dwindling.  In an effort to find another source of power, a group of people was sent out on an expedition that will mark the beginning of the end for the people in the sanctuary.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT

If you’re in the mood for a good SciFi-Paranormal hybrid, this is the perfect book to spend a few of your days reading. I listened to this on audio and read my copy whenever I can. It was the type of book that will consume you until you ache for the next one. In some ways, the world was what you will expect from a post-apocalyptic novel: desolate, scary, sparse, destroyed. But where Cronin spent a lot of time on was in his characters.

If you’ve ever read or seen The Stand by Stephen King, it is somewhat similar. There are religious undertones, but not too much. Just enough to know that the good always wins over evil. The US government named their project, Project Noah based on the Biblical story about an ark he built to survive the flood. Though I’m still not sure which of the two was the ark: Peter or Amy.

Justin Cronin is a brilliant writer. He took pains in building his characters and story. It’s the type of book where everything matters – every sentence, every phrase, every single punctuation.  He didn’t leave a stone unturned, or a plot arch left unexplored. For days, and nights this book consumed me. And I don’t regret a single moment of it.

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[603]: The Dirty Secret by Kira A. Gold

28277395 The Dirty Secret by Kira A. Gold
Carina Press | E-Arc via Net Galley
March 28th, 2016
Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


From the Desk of Donna Edith…

My services are unconventional. My clients come to me with needs and I match them to other clients with needs of their own…

Promising young architect Killian Fitzroy: Driven, clever, eager to prove himself. Starved for sex, though he’s come to me for professional assistance, not personal. Needs: Someone unique, creative and fast. An artist with a feminine perspective to breathe life into a house he’s built.

Aspiring scenic designer Vessa Ratham: Sensuous, spontaneous, but secretive. Recently returned to Vermont armed with an art degree that qualifies her for little more than waiting tables. Needs: An opportunity to shine.

Yes, Killian and Vessa will satisfy each other nicely—in more ways than one.


This is one for the ages, folks. I don’t usually give out five stars that easily, but I felt like this book deserved it. There are so many reasons and, or criteria as to why a book warrants a high rating. But for me, I simply go by how much enjoyment I derived from it. And this book is pure fun. Plus, I may be a little jealous of the author’s writing.

THE MATCHMAKER

Donna Edith is a matchmaker. Though you probably shouldn’t say that to her face if you ever want to hire her services. Because that’s far from what she does. Her company places people with the right employers. It just so happens that this woman has a knack for giving them what they need when they need it the most. Though in the case of her two clients, they didn’t even know what they needed when they each decided to avail of her services.

THE ARCHITECT

Killian Fitzroy is a man on the verge of greatness. He’s a brilliant architect well on his way to success. But he is a man starved for relationships – sex, in particular. With the long hours that he puts in and the demands of a job that he loves (on most days), he doesn’t have the time to make real connections.

THE DESIGNER

Fresh off graduation, Vessa Ratham moved back to Vermont to be closer to her family. Without any real experience as a designer, she needed  actual clients to start her portfolio. With Donna Edith’s help, she was seduced by a house and a man – both in need of her personal touch.

Truth be told, had I not been familiar with the author, I’d have bypassed this book in a heartbeat. After all, the matchmaking romances I’ve read in my lifetime is simply too many to count. I have not read a book by this author. I did, however, read her fanfiction work. At the time, I was already in awe of her writing. There is something magical, lyrical and beautiful about how she strung her words together. She writes pretty prose that are far from pretentious. It feels natural and easy. She gives her characters personalities that are unique that you’d think they are made from a form of magic. Vessa is a strong character who picks and chooses her battles. She’s determined and headstrong; vulnerable and courageous. It’s difficult to explain. The secondary characters were also far from ordinary. There’s her stoner friend who was far more aware than any lucid person you’d know; her landlord who shares her love for antiquities and interesting things; and Killian’s friends who made his lonely existence a bit more tolerable before he met Vessa.

But if there’s one thing I can complain about is the wild designs Vessa came up with. I’m not going to lie, I could not imagine myself living in that house because damn. I don’t deal with brightly painted, wildly decorated rooms. I just can’t. I’m a huge follower of the minimalist movement, so the very idea of living in a house where a room is decorated with red walls and Chinese lanterns makes me want to break out in hives.

I love that this book is pure romance. It’s relatively angst-free, unlike most NA romances nowadays. If you’re a fan of NA, chick lit and contemporary romance, Kira Gold is an author to watch.

 

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