Friday, April 27, 2012

Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

Awaken Me Darkly (Alien Huntress, Book 1)
by Gena Showalter
May 2005
Downtown Press

There's beauty in her strength ~ and danger in her desires.

Hands down, one of the worst books I've read recently.  I think I might finally be done with Gena Showalter.  I have tried to get through so many of  her books and have never made it more than half way.  In a way I suppose that means this book wasn't all that bad considering I finished it . . . interesting thought.

Mia Snow is an alien huntress working for A.I.R. (Alien Investigation and Removal) in a world where many alien races now live and work with humans.  As a self proclaimed, sexy kick-a first grade b*tch, Mia has always dominated her mostly male workplace (which is full of fabulously handsome men who absolutely adore her).  While investigating a series of murders, however, her super sexy, very strong, kind and thoughtful human partner (who she would never sleep with because he isn't good enough) is fatally injured and Mia must find a way to save him.  Enter Kyrin en Arr, a gorgeous alien prince with the power to save Mia's partner . . . for a price.

If you think you might ever read this book you should probably stop reading here . . . 

This is obviously meant to be an edgy romance novel with aliens as sexual partners to spice things up a bit.  While this paranormal lover formula has totally worked for other authors I couldn't stop myself from periodically screaming "How does he have the right equipment for this?!"  at the book.  I'm just not sure how these aliens managed to be umm err compatible with humans.  Yeah, yeah, I know it's just a book.  It's fiction.  Right?

I can deal with that.  I love fiction.  But this book crosses the bounds of fiction and into the world of delusional with its twisted concept of feminism.  This book fulfills some kind of female dominance fantasy in that Mia Snow is the strongest character in the book and holds power over all she meets.  She displays this by not only beating up all the bad aliens, but also her co-workers, friends, and even her lover.  Seriously?!  These men are just going to take that kind of abuse?  I don't care how attractive she is, if women aren't supposed to put up with physical and verbal abuse, then why should men?

Above all, I guess I simply couldn't identify with any of the characters nor could I get over the *ewww* factor involved every time I tried to contemplate how an alien/human pairing was possible.  I do want to thank Gena Showalter, however, for writing this book so that I could add it to my paranormal romance reading list as one of the very few books out there written about alien/human relationships.

Alien Huntress Series
Awaken Me Darkly
Enslave Me Sweetly
Savor Me Slowly
Seduce the Darkness
Ecstasy in Darkness
Dark Taste of Rapture

Young Adult Spinoff Series
Red Handed

Short Story
Deep Kiss of Winter

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien ★

The Frog Prince
by Elle Lothlorien
September 2011

Someday your prince will come.  Sort of.

I bought this book for my little sister's birthday a few months ago thinking she might enjoy it since it was topping the chick lit charts at the time.  If you think that's impressive, consider the fact that this book, which is Lothlorien's debut novel, is self-published!  Despite all the positive reviews, I have to admit I didn't trust it's indie status and honestly didn't think I was giving my sister a great book.  A few weeks later, however, my sister marched through my front door, shoved the book in my face and said "You HAVE to read this!"  So I did . . . and I totally loved it!

When Leigh Fromm treads on a handsome stranger's foot at her great aunt's wake she has no idea that the bleeding man is actually Prince Roman Habsburg von Lorraine, the would-have-been king of Austria.  Due to Austria's current system of government, Roman will never be King, and chooses instead to spend his time in a self-imposed exile in Denver, Colorado building tree houses and dancing like a star.  But Leigh doesn't mind hanging out with this handsome, delicious-smelling, phoney prince of Austria.  After all, he'll never be real royalty, right?  Right?

This romantic comedy has all the makings of a major film deal.  I honestly don't know how Lothlorien did it. I spent the first third of the book completely disgusted by the perfect guy who could do everything from dance like Patrick Swayze to fly his own airplane and his beautiful, model of a girlfriend who was brilliant but a total klutz.  Everything about the book and it's characters felt so cliche that I was getting pretty bored there for awhile.  BUT THEN everything changes and you're swept away with the characters, completely caught up in an adventure that no one expected or even dreamed possible (that's why this is fiction, people).  I truly have to say that if you enjoy chick lit, and spend hours drooling over the possibility of being a princess, this book is for you!

For more fairy tale reinterpretations, check out these books or read these other modernized fairy tales by Elle Lothlorien.

Other Once a Time Books
Sleeping Beauty
Rapunzel (TBR Spring 2012)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield

Unforsaken (Banished, Book 2)
by Sophie Littlefield
October 2011

I just wanted to be a normal girl in a normal high school with normal friends and normal habits.  And the thing I longed to do was not normal at all.

It's really hard to write a review for the second book in a series without giving too much away.  If you haven't read Banished yet, I highly suggest you do so as it is an excellent, fast-paced read with a unique twist on necromancy.  This book continues Hailey Tarbell's story as she struggles to pretend to be normal and hide her unique healing abilities.  Overall, Unforsaken is very similar to Banished as we run into many of the same villains who continue to have the same goal of capturing Hailey and others like her for their abilities.  If given the choice, I think I would have liked to see these two books meshed into one.  The first book was exciting and engaging but the second felt a little as if there simply wasn't enough new material for an entire book.  That said, together these books make a complete story and this one is definitely worth reading if you've read Banished.  If you like to read books about necromancers and people with special powers, be sure to check out this reading list.

Banished Books

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry ★

The Lace Reader
by Brunonia Barry
July 2008
William Morrow

My name is Towner Whitney.  No, that's not exactly true.  My real first name is Sophya.  Never believe me.  I lie all the time . . . 

If reviews are any indication, this is one of those books that you either love, or love to hate.  I myself had a very hard time getting into this one, but persevered due to my fascination with the setting as well as the intriguing characters.

It has been years since Towner Whitney last set foot in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.  Although she comes from a long line of Salem lace readers, Towner has never affiliated with the other mystically gifted women in town.  When two women go missing, however, Towner is drawn back to Salem to confront the truth behind her twin sister's death and bring her killer to justice.  There is not much more that I can tell you about this book without giving its secrets away, but know that while you may think you understand what is going on in these pages, you don't.  And you won't until the end.  With a rich, haunting setting and characters that ultimately reveal such depth that you want to start the book over as soon as it ends, I highly recommend The Lace Reader and hope that you too will make it to the shocking conclusion.

If you liked The Lace Reader, but also enjoy chick lit that make you laugh out loud, try Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure (Book 1)
by Julianna Baggott
February 2012
Grand Central Publishing

Burn a pure and breathe the ash.
Take his guts and make a sash.
Twist his hair and make a rope.
And use his bones to make Pure soap.

I'm not going to lie, this is one freaky book.  All the horrors of nuclear war are brought to life in this post-apocalyptic novel.  Instead of somewhat healthy characters cheerfully bemoaning their fate and scrounging for food, these characters simply survive, melted to the things they were using or standing next to when the bombs went off.  Bicycles, birds, and even their children.  Fused to the baby doll she was holding, Pressia lives in the ashes of this demolished world.  However, she derives hope from gazing at the massive dome which houses those who made it inside before the world ended.  The people inside are "pure", completely unscathed and unmarked by the war.  The pure have promised to come back for all the wretches outside the dome.  But it's taking too long . . .

For someone who has studied the effects of the bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki this book was truly terrifying.  Unlike most post-apocalyptic fiction, this one really does allow the reader to get a feel for what nuclear fallout would be like.  Due to some of the graphic wartime images, I don't recommend this one for anyone not emotionally mature enough to handle it.  This book is disturbing to say the least.  But also thought-provoking and heartbreaking in all the right ways.  For more dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, check out this list.

Pure Books
Fuse (TBR)
Burn (TBR)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu ★

Legend (Legend, Book 1)
by Marie Lu
November 2011
Putnam Juvenile

June is a military prodigy.  Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic's highest circles.  Day is the country's most wanted criminal.  But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

So you know how sometimes when you're reading a book you feel that magical something that tells you this would make an awesome movie and/or Broadway musical*!?  Well this book should be an anime!  Wait!  Don't go!  Hear me out . . .

The year is 2130 AD and the United States of America has dissolved into The Republic of America (located in CA) and its surrounding colonies.  The RA is ruled by a military government that decides the future of each citizen through an aptitude test when they are sixteen years old.  June is the only person to have ever scored perfectly on the test.  Day has the lowest score.  June has lived her life in the highest circles of society.  Day is a fugitive and has been hiding on the streets for years.  June has been trained to track criminals.  Day will do anything to avoid capture.  June and Day are going to meet.  But will they survive the encounter?

Reasons this should be an anime:
1. Did you not just read that description?  All we're missing are the Gundams!**
2. June is totally Asian.***
3. So is Day!  Except get this - he's Asian, but with freaking blond hair!  I know, right?!  Sooo anime character cliche!

And there you have it.  Whether this is ever made into an anime or manga or not, Legend is a fantastic, fast-paced read for fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction.

Legend Series
Patriot (TBR September 2012)

*Let the record state that I have never actually thought this.
**Hopefully Patriot will rectify this obvious mistake.
***Of course you don't have to be Asian to make the cut for an anime.  Sailor Moon was born in Tokyo with two silky blond Swiss pigtails for crying out loud.  But in this case, I think it lent that "Asian" feel and only strengthened the case for an anime.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Good In Bed
by Jennifer Weiner
May 2001

"Love is nothing, nothing, nothing like they say."  ~Liz Phair

If you've ever been a woman in her late twenties or early thirties there's a pretty good chance you've read some form of diet chick lit.  We've all read books about girls who are unhappy with their weight and we secretly scour the pages for the magic bullet or super diet secret that magically transformed these miserable women into the hot babe at the office.  While these books can sometimes be motivating, they ultimately leave me feeling inferior and disgusted with my own non-barbie figure.  This book, however, was something different.

Good In Bed tells the story of Cannie Shapiro, who is overweight and struggling with life.  Her ex-boyfriend details their past sex life in a popular magazine, the new boy in town wants nothing more than friendship from a big girl like her, her doctor won't give her diet pills, and she can't seem to land any big stories for the newspaper where she currently works.  This book has been called a "modern Cinderella story" because of the way that Cannie's life begins to change, but there is nothing fairy tale-ish about her struggles and the way she handles them.  Cannie is real.  And her story will make you laugh, ponder, and maybe even cry as she deals with the challenges that women have to face every day.  Good In Bed is a redeeming read and a good reminder that the glamour of Hollywood should never have the final say in how we feel about ourselves or live our lives.

You can read the continuing adventures of Cannie Shapiro in Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner or try these other similar books about women who struggle with their weight.

Fat Chance by Deborah Blumenthal
The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards
Jemima J by Jane Green