2015 Top Reads

2015 has been a whirlwind of new books and author friends. It’s been a crazy ride that has culminated in my attendance at Utopia 2016 and potential publication.. we’ll see 😉

Happy New Year readers, this blog wouldn’t be anything without all of your kind words and support!

And now…

Top 15 Books of 2015

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Happy reading and here’s to an even better reading year next year!

Jordan

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Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest-Holly Black

20958632Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

cooltext1889161239 copyChildren can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

cooltext1889171582 copy5/5 Stars

You know that wide-eyed wonder and enchantment you experience on your first trip to Disney World? Where you take everything in, breathing in the magic, falling in love with the incredible surroundings, you know, deep within your heart that something life-changing is about to happen? That’s what I felt from the first page of The Darkest Part of the Forest. If you’re in a reading slump, feeling a little jaded and tired, pick this up and fall head over heels for reading again.

PROS:

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest is foremost a love story. Love between a brother and sister is unusual in a YA paranormal book, I adored that romance was NOT the focus but a sidebar. Hazel and Ben have an easy connection based on years of adventure. Children of neglectful artistic parents, Ben and Hazel had to fend for themselves in a world of fae magic. All they had was each other and the idea that they could be heroes. Ben and Hazel’s quests in the forest were like knightly legends of old, full of mischief and chivalry, bravery and fierce determination. No matter the trouble they get into, Ben and Hazel are always there for each other. As they grew older, life drew them apart but that love is undeniable and the nostalgia is especially poignant.
  • Hazel has a chronic case of the “ordinary” girl blues. Despite living in a world where magic is real and creatures of nightmares lurk in the shadows, Hazel struggles to deal with the fact that she’s average. Her brother is skilled at music, her parents are artists, and Hazel just is-the average teen girl. Hazel throws herself into random make out sessions to numb the pain of her total lack of excitement. Hazel mourns the loss of her childhood, when everyday was something new, she lived then in the moment with absolute spontaneity and recklessness. What Hazel misses more than anything is feeling that she had a purpose and a partner in crime with her brother. As things start to quickly go downhill in their enchanted little town, Hazel rekindles the spark within herself and discovers that sometimes ordinary is masking the extraordinary. 
  • Ben is unique. From his clothes to his music, he’s intriguing, intelligent, and draws you in. The parallel between love for the idea of the prince and how Ben views him romantically struck twofold when the prince woke. Ben saw the boy in the coffin as his confidant, his safe haven, and as the story develops, Ben’s passionate side comes to life. 
  • Holly Black is a master at incorporating these tiny stories that somehow explode into key plot points. Holly Black weaves fairy tales with serious skill. What feels like enthralling, somewhat random inclusions becomes story that you can’t get out of your head. These read like campfire tales, like bedtime stories, full of mystery and romance, of deceit and paranormal. From the sentence, the tale of the prince in the glass coffin is mesmerizing. I could not put this book down. 
  • Each fae creature has a story. No matter how brief, they’re colorful, dark, twisted, and full of passion. Some scenes are gruesome, graphic, and terrifying. Others are light, full of frivolity and triumph. 
  • The Prince is Otherworldly, beautiful, and mercurial. He wavers between deadly and lighthearted but always determined. He’s temptation and magic, fairy tales and daydreams brought to life. So much tension builds up to the first encounter that when it happens, it’s a shock.
  • Jack is flirty, playful, and mysterious. The truth of his past, his role as a changeling, and his magic makes him intensely attractive. You need to know about him. The chemistry between Hazel and Jack is like a live wire waiting to strike. Electric and stimulating.

CONS:

  • The Alderking’s viciousness was muted. He felt like more hype than anything. I would have like to have seen more violence, more evil, and heard more of the sadistic adventures of his knights to hone in on his position as the main villain.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

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Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown-Holly Black

4.5/5 Stars

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown-Holly Black

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They ran through the night together in a darkling fairy tale of blood and forests and snow, of girls with raven’s wing hair and rose-red lips and sharp teeth as white as milk.

***

He kissed her ferociously, savagely, their lips sliding together with bruising fervor. The pain in her tongue became a distant throbbing. Her fingers dug into the muscles of his back. their bodies pressed so close that he must have felt every hitch of her breath, every shuddering beat of her heart. And as scared of him as she had been, right then she was more frightened of herself. 

*** 

Every night, in every Coldtown, people die. People are fragile. They die of mistakes, of overdoses, of sickness. But mostly they die of Death.

Death drinks down their warmth until their veins are dry. Death forgets restraint. The older vampires might grow dusty and careful, but those freshly made want to glut themselves and sometimes, foolishly, they give in to Death and do. 

Plot: Tana wakes up from a rough night of partying to find herself in a bathtub, missing her shoes. She has no clue what happened last night or how many people noticed her black out wasted in the bathtub behind the curtain. Noticing the sunlight streaming through the window and absolute silence, she figures everyone must still be asleep. Stumbling from the bathroom she is met with slaughter. Torn throats, shredded skin, puddles of blood, and cold, lifeless bodies lay strewn across the house. Tana is terrified, bordering on hysteria, she knew these people, they were her classmates, her friends. Ever since the Coldtowns were established after the vampires have stepped out of the closet, attacks on houses had been rare. Someone must have left a window open and rogue vampires climbed in, hungry and savage. Knowing what she does about vampires, she is aware that they could be slumbering in the house, waiting for darkness, so she must be absolutely quiet, grab her stuff, and get out before the sun sets. Cautiously stepping into the shadowed room where she expects her coat to be, she is shocked to find her ex, Aiden,  strapped to the bed in some sort of weird bondage, and a vampire, chained up against the wall. Baffled, Tana doesn’t know what to make of the situation but knows that she can’t leave Aiden for vampire food no matter how much of a jerk he was to her. As she goes to untie him, he launches, teeth out, jonesing for blood. He’s been bitten, he’s cold. Those who have been bitten by vampires suffer an infection in the blood that only kills them and makes them a vampire when they drink human blood. If they fight the cold for 88 days then the infection will pass and they’ll stay human. Most don’t make it that long. As the sun starts to slant in the sky, Tana is flooded with desperate anxiety, she needs to save Aiden but hears the vampires starting to rise. Enlisting the help of the vampire, Tana gets Aiden out the door and they embark on a journey of love, lust, loss, anger, betrayal, and revenge to Coldtown.

This is the Goodreads summary:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

PROS:

  • Dark, twisted, and acerbic humor that is fueled by macabre ingenuity.
  • The descriptions are gory, meticulous, and written with such a poetic, candid touch that you’ll feel simultaneously removed from the carnage yet actively participate as each bloody detail is revealed. The shock, disbelief, and sheer heart-ponding terror will leave you feeling breathless as the wickedly gruesome slaughter, feedings, and fights reach their climax.
  • The danger, excitement, and general feeling of recklessness that comes along with taking risks, taunting death, and playing into the hands of cold-blooded killers will have you turning pages, consumed by hunger to know more.
  • Gavriel is a character in the vein of Anne Rice, with such a rich, complex, and vibrant history that is just exotic and corrupt enough to pull you in and have you begging for more. On top of that, he’s one of the most sexy vampires EVER. The kissing scene. Holy hell, the heat radiating off the page is enough to send even the more timid into overload mode. It’s tantalizing, dark, bloody, and just as wickedly sinister as you’d expect from a vampire-human make out. For this scene alone, I would have given this book at least 4 stars. Deeply impressed by the chemistry, the passion, and overall eroticism in a book that is not blatantly sexual. It sneaks up on you, surprising and raw.
  • Holly Black never ceases to amaze me. Somehow she takes overdone folklore and fantasy, gives it so much depth and emotion that it seems like an entirely new story.

CONS:

  • When I started reading this, I was completely and utterly appalled and disgusted with Tana. I really strongly disliked her. Mainly, Tana seemed like a pushover, someone with so little respect for herself that she put up with an open relationship that was highly masochistic, and very unhealthy, and didn’t care enough about herself and what it was doing to her to get out. Tana just wasn’t a character I could get behind, she wasn’t strong, she was weak-minded, insecure, and just not conflicted enough within her situation. That being said, on first impression, Tana was so not a heroine, hell, she was closer to a secondary character. As more and more of her backstory is revealed, her personality starts to make sense but some of her actions don’t match up. It’s only until later in the plot, somewhere around 80% through at least when the lightbulb goes off. Tana’s actions, her bravery, her unswerving devotion to morality, her mortality, and making sacrifices for the greater good are some of the most developed, inspiring signs of character growth that I’ve seen. As the story moves forward, Tana slowly recognizes her own self-worth, she’s able to embrace her recklessness and use it to save herself from dire situations, solve seemingly impossible problems, and face off against some of the most maliciously evil villains in the book. Tana is a badass of epic proportions. She puts others first, and brutally fights for her life, using ingenuity, calculation, and sheer brilliance to cheat Death time and time again. If you’re like me, give Tana some time, get to know her, and maybe you’ll be surprised by what a fantastically courageous heroine she turns out to be.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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genashow

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Masque

trilogy

Happy reading,

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 7

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Wednesday 8/21

Books Read: The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

Number of Pages Read:

The Name of the Star= 370 pages total

Thursday 8/22

Books Read: Fracture-Megan Miranda; Ink-Amanda Sun

Number of Pages Read:

Fracture (262) + the first half of Ink (163) = 425 pages total

Friday 8/23

Books Read: Ink-Amanda Sun; Breathless-Scott Prussing

Number of Pages Read:

The second half of Ink (163) + Breathless (254) = 417 pages total

Saturday 8/24

Books Read: Leaving Paradise-Simone Elkeles; Smart Girls Get What They Want-Sarah Strohmeyer

Number of Pages Read:

Leaving Paradise (303) + Smart Girls Get What They Want (348) = 651 pages total

Sunday 8/25

Books Read: Cities of the Dead-Jason Phillip Reeser; Kiss of Fire-Rebecca Ethington

Number of Pages Read:

Cities of the Dead (220) + first half of Kiss of Fire (176) = 396 pages total

Number of Books Completed:

10/10

Number of Pages Read So Far:

M(368)+ T(371)+ W(370)+ R(425)+ F(417)+ S(651)+ S(396)=  2,998 pages read

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair Review

Crash Review

The Name of the Star Review

Fracture Review

Ink Review

Smart Girls Get What They Want

Breathless Review

Leaving Paradise Review

Other reviews pending. If you’re interested, check back or subscribe 🙂

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners! I had a wonderful time participating, and checking out everyone’s progress. Not to mention the creative posts to the challenges. Until January.

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 6

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Wednesday 8/21

Books Read: The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

Number of Pages Read:

The Name of the Star= 370 pages total

Thursday 8/22

Books Read: Fracture-Megan Miranda; Ink-Amanda Sun

Number of Pages Read:

Fracture (262) + the first half of Ink (163) = 425 pages total

Friday 8/23

Books Read: Ink-Amanda Sun; Breathless-Scott Prussing

Number of Pages Read:

The second half of Ink (163) + Breathless (254) = 417 pages total

Saturday 8/24

Books Read: Leaving Paradise-Simone Elkeles; Smart Girls Get What They Want-Sarah Strohmeyer

Number of Pages Read:

Leaving Paradise (303) + Smart Girls Get What They Want (348) = 651 pages total

Number of Books Completed:

9/10

Number of Pages Read So Far:

M(368)+ T(371)+ W(370)+ R(425)+ F(417)+ S(651) = 2,602 pages read

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair Review

Crash Review

The Name of the Star Review

Fracture Review

Other reviews pending.

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners!

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 5

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Wednesday 8/21

Books Read: The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

Number of Pages Read:

The Name of the Star= 370 pages total

Thursday 8/22

Books Read: Fracture-Megan Miranda; Ink-Amanda Sun

Number of Pages Read:

Fracture (262) + the first half of Ink (163) = 425 pages total

Friday 8/23

Books Read: Ink-Amanda Sun; Breathless-Scott Prussing

Number of Pages Read:

The second half of Ink (163) + Breathless (254) = 417 pages total

Number of Books Completed:

7/10

Number of Pages Read So Far:

M(368)+ T(371)+ W(370)+ R(425)+ F(417)= 1951 pages total

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair Review

Crash Review

The Name of the Star Review

Other reviews pending.

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners!

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 2

Progress for Day 2 of Bout of Books read-a-thon was about the same as Monday’s. I didn’t like my formatting from yesterday’s post so here are the results:

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Reviews on both books pending 🙂

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners!