Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: For Your Heart by A.L. Davroe

Title: For Your Heart (Retellings #1)
Author: A.L. Davroe
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 31st 2013
Source: A.L. Davroe


Four stars.


In Jeanette's younger days, she went into the park with her very best friend.... But came out alone. She hasn't been the same since his disappearance, and she hasn't gone back to the park since that day. It's been seven years and she still can't shake what happened, living her life through a series of distractions to try and forget. Meanwhile, a knight of the summer court named Tamrin has been given the task of protecting the queen of the summer faeries' very special rose patch. Unaware of the consequences, Jeanette picks one of these roses, and Tamrin vows that he will right his wrong. The consequences? A rose is worth a human heart. But can Tamrin go through with it, the longer he gets to know Jeanette?


This is an upper level paranormal romance novel, and is a re-imagining of a well known Scottish tale, The Ballad of Tam Lin. I was unfamiliar with the tale before reading For Your Heart, but was pleased by how Davroe integrates the story.

For me, the characters were a strong element of this story, and what made it so likable. Jeanette is true to her morals, and Tamrin has this cute naivety when it comes to how the human world works. He's adorable, and I grew to love the pair of them as they grew to care about one another. It was a sweet romance that I was entranced by. This book is told through multiple POVs, which helps the reader get to know each of the characters better. It was clear to tell who was speaking, and didn't muddle the story at all.

And speaking of entrancing, I love the fantasy world and aspects that Davroe writes about within For Your Heart. Personally, I got an Alice in Wonderland-esque vibe about the two worlds and how one can travel between them. Being a massive Alice fan, this was a huge intrigue for me. I'd love to see more books that take place in the Otherworld or explore them more in depth.

I also loved the pop culture references that were sprinkled throughout this novel. References were made to things like Doctor Who and different animes, and I got kind of excited and fangirly when this happened. They added to Jeanette as a character and made her more relatable, at least to me.

My issues with this book were minor. I didn't like one of the side characters at all, but I don't really feel like I got to know them well.

Plus, look at the cover work for this. Gorgeous.

All in all, I'd recommend this to the older half of the YA spectrum who love fantasy and romance, or have an interest in retellings/re-imaginings of classic stories. I was very fortunate enough to beta read this title: An advance reading copy of For Your Heart was provided to me by the author, A.L, Davroe, in exchange for honest feedback. Thanks!

For Your Heart is available TODAY on Amazon, so pick up your copy here! Also, add it to your Goodreads to-read list by clicking here!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

Title: You Are Mine (Mine #1)
Author: Janeal Falor
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: May 6 2013
Source: Netgalley & Chardonian Press


Four stars.


When Serena is tested and found to be of good stock, she knows that the rest of her life is written. She will be married off to a warlock and become his, his property. To serve him and do as he pleases, no matter how cruel or pointless, and produce his children. And if she disobeys, she will lose it all. She will be shaved, tattooed, and barren- and perhaps even sacrificed- and worth nothing to society. Her ownership is won by a man from another country, who lets her get away with a little rebellion that no one else had ever tolerated. But how much is she willing to chance in a society that sees her only as a material good?


I have to say, I was very much impressed with this story. It uses a few of my favorite things: dystopia, magic, and romance, and wraps them up into a unique package.

I loved the cast of characters in this book, namely the heroine Serena. She was strong in her principles, even when she knew the consequences of daring to have an opinion. At the same time, she knows when enough is enough. I never questioned her fighting back to be over the top, as I have in other books with "strong" characters. I also loved Zade, the "barbarian" who wins her hand. The land that he's from differs from hers, to a better degree. I enjoyed their light romance throughout this book.

I liked the magical societies that Janeal Falor created. At the beginning of the book there is a tournament in which many lands come together, and that helped to draw me in from the get-go. I'm a sucker for fantasy novels, and I loved the blending of the horrors that are associated with a dystopian society (such as abusive and inequality) and more fantastical elements of spells and magic. I was a bit afraid of this merge, but Falor definitely pulls it off with her writing.

This book is definitely one that sucked me in from the beginning, and the action only tapered off at a few minor points for me- it was hard to put down as a whole. The tarnished, or the no longer useful women of society were a really interesting, creepy element of the story that reminded me of the Avox from The Hunger Games series.

I will for sure pick up the next book in this series (assuming from the #1 after this title that there will be more installments!) and I'd advise fans of dystopian young adult as well as fantasy YA fans to do the same.

Thanks to Netgalley and Chardonian Press for my copy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [26]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. I'm feeling much better this week, thank goodness. I'm behind on my reading thanks to my sinus infection, but that's alright. Nothing too exciting happened, but this weekend is my university's insane Halloween bar party hot mess. So I'll be in my room, avoiding all the obnoxious people while enjoying my book and a glass of wine!


Claus: Legend of the Fat Man by Tony Bertauski
Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance
The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things by Anna Holmes, Kate Harding, Amanda Hess
Cut Me Loose by Leah Vincent

In the Mail:

Forgiving Lies by Molly McAdams Thanks, Aeicha!


A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Amazon Freebies:

Locked by Maya Cross

What did ya'll get?

Double Review: Forbidden Fruit & Yank

Title: Forbidden Fruit
Author: Selena Kitt
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: August 30th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Four solid stars.

Leah and Erica are best friends that attend the same stuffy Catholic college. Since Erica's mother passed away, Leah's spent so much time over there that she's essentially Mr. Nolan's second daughter. During one of their girl nights, the friends find a box of erotic videos and magazines beneath Mr. Nolan's bed, and it fuels their curiosity and desires, for each other and for the men in their lives.... But that turns into more of a problem when the man in Leah's life becomes her best friend's father.


Wow. I was not expecting a short novella like this to pack so much steam into such little space. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I liked the actual plot of this short story. Most of the time, with erotic short stories, I don't get a sense of any real plot line, just scene after scene of bedroom activities. But this plot was intriguing- how awkward would it be for everyone involved if you started shagging your best friend's dad in their own house. I was genuinely interested in how long Leah would get away with it, and what would happen once she was busted.

The sex scenes, though frequent, never became boring or repetitive. I'm impressed that Selena Kitt managed to have so much variety in the scenes that she wrote. The descriptions are just the right amount of crass and sensual, and they are more than a little hot. For me, the Catholic school bit was a nice touch, and made it all the sexier.

Be warned that this is an erotic story, and contains sex, Catholicism, toys, girl-on-girl, and strong language. It's a hot, short, kinky read and won't be the last I read by this author.

Title: Yank
Author: Selena Kitt
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: August 28th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Two stars.

Dawn, a foreign exchange student from America, is headed to Surrey for her studies, to stay with childhood friend David. His world becomes shaken up the moment she arrives back, because he's not the little girl that he remembers anymore, and it becomes increasingly more difficult for either of them to resist the temptation that lives only down the hall.

I wasn't so much a fan of this one, in compared to the other Selena Kitt story that I have read.

I didn't feel connected to the plot or the characters. I understand that this is a short story, and an erotic one at that, but there still has to be some level of interest in characters or the rest of the story breaks down. That's how I felt about this one.

The smutty scenes, as always however, are well written and full of blazing heat. If I could rate these separately, I would, because Selena Kitt is a great author when it comes to the x-rated scenes within her stories.

Selena Kitt is known for approaching more taboo subjects, which I found odd seeing that this book seemed relatively tame. True, her host mother insists that the two act like siblings, and the school has a "no relationships with the host family" rule, but that little detail didn't seem so rebellious to me. But then I started reading reviews of this book, and saw that in the original edition of this story, they were related. I very much hate to say that, but I think I would have preferred that they were. It would have added the missing depth to the characters, the plot, and the "taboo" factor.

This is a book intended for adults, so be aware that this book contains vulgar language, crass British slang, and graphic detail. Thanks to Netgalley and eXcessica Publishing for my copies.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Behind Barres

Title: Behind Barres
Authors: Miriam Wenger-Landis, Amanda Brice, Leslie DuBois
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 14th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Two and a half stars, rounded up.

Behind Barres is a collection of three separate stories by three unique offers, which all center around a main theme: ballet. These books are: Girl in Motion by Miriam Wenger-Landis, Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice, and The Queen Bee of Bridgeton Leslie DuBois. All three books are completely different, and give a varied look into the young adult genre.


This omnibus ended up getting a relatively neutral review, since I loved one book, was indifferent to another, and was definitely not a fan of the third. It falls short for me as a collection, but a few of the stories would stand well on their own.

The first book, Girl in Motion by Miriam Wenger-Landis, tells the story of Anna, who has worked extremely hard to get where she is now as a ballerina. It's her goal to land a position with a professional dance troupe, and gaining herself the lead in the annual performance definitely helps her. But emotions run high and feelings grow more intense as graduation comes ever closer, and a boy enters her life to add more pressure to the mix. This story was okay to me. It was rather boring and predictable, but it was fine enough. I liked reading about the dace life, but I never really got a good sense of who the characters really were.

The middle book, Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice follows the young teenage Dani as she gains a spot dancing with a celebrity on the reality game show Teen Celebrity Dance-Off. The hype of fame doesn't last her too long- that is, before the threats start coming in. Someone is out to get her, and if she's not careful, they will succeed in ending much more than her career. I found this story to have the most potential, but it was the weakest of the three in my opinion. I am very aware of the fact that this is a young adult story, but the vocabulary used was juvenile, even for a young teen audience. It sounded like when someone's mother tries to be "hip" or relatable but just ends up creating awkward snickers. That's how I felt about conversations in this book as a whole. I liked the plot, but the characters and the way they interacted drove me up a wall.

The final book, The Queen Bee of Bridgeton Leslie DuBois, narrates African-American teen Sonya's struggles at her private, predominantly white school. She worked herself to the bone to become a dancer, trading her cleaning and work skills for ballet lessons when her mother couldn't afford to get them. When she gains the attention of the star basketball player- a Caucasian- the catty, popular girls show just how ruthless they can be against those who encroach on their territory. This story blew me away. The characters were written with depth that made me instantly connect with Sonya. I feel this says a lot, seeing as she is of a different age, race, and is a ballerina. I am not athletic, white, and out of my teens, and I still was able to sympathize with her, and wanted her to overcome the obstacles thrown in her way. True, the romance was a bit over the top, but I feel that the overall writing and concept make up for it.

If you are a die hard fan of dance or ballet stories, or enjoy young teen romance, this collection might be worth a read. But for fans of a later young adult audience and grittier realism will probably be disappointed.

Thanks to Netgalley for my copy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mini Review: Lash by LG Castillo

Title: Lash (Broken Angel #1)
Author: L.G. Castillo
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: May 1st 2013
Source: Netgalley


Three stars.

Lash, an angel fallen from grace, is given a second chance when he is given a new mission: to protect a woman named Naomi who has lost her faith. His mission grows more complex as he realizes the archangels and allies he thought he had have been keeping information and secrets from him. He must assess his growing feelings for Naomi, and decide how far he's willing to go to regain his place in Heaven.


Have you ever read a book, and then after you've read it, you didn't have much opinion of it one way or the other? That's how I feel about this book.

This was my first book revolving around an angelic character, and I'm starting to think there's a reason why I've stayed away from them so long. The characters seemed to be relatively one dimensional, like I'd read them or their equivalent in other stories (angel aside, naturally). I never really attached to any of them, which made it hard for me to cheer them on or care about what happened to them along the course of the story. The writing too was neither exceptionally bad nor amazingly well done. It was perfectly in the middle.

The one feature that stands out the most to me about this book is the cover, which I do have to say, is gorgeous. It'll hold its own on a shelf, that's for sure.

This isn't all that helpful of a review, because at the end of the day, I am completely indifferent to this book. I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't discredit it either. If you have a thing for angelic characters, this may stand out to you far more than it did to me. I would consider picking up the next book in this series, to see how things progress.

Thanks to Netgalley and L.G. Castillo for my copy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Streaks of Blue by Jack Chaucer

Title: Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School
Author: Jack Chaucer
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 27th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Four stars.

While camping out with her best friend Candace, Nikki has the strangest dream. A dream that seems to be a warning that social outcast of their high school, Adam, has plans to shoot up the school. Though her friend tells her that it's probably just nothing, Nikki can't shake the bad feelings that it stirs inside her, and she comes up with a simple plan- to become Adam's friend when he might not have any others. But is her friendship too little, too late?


I have to first get off my chest the horrible timing with which I finished this novel. Today, October 21st, 2013, there was a shooting at a Nevada middle school that left two dead, and two injured (as of now). The shooter is believed to be 13 or 14. I am greatly disturbed even more so by this book because it is an issue that clearly is still in need of great discussion.

Nikki is a girl that everyone should be a little bit more like. It's true that I didn't always agree with her choices- befriending two boys who are emotionally unstable enough to plan on a mass murder is obviously extremely dangerous- but she had the cahones to stand up to her school, and her friends who questioned why she'd want to be friends with such a "trailer trash train wreck." I could not help but to think of the wise words of Albus Dumbledore: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Though her best friend was loyal and in the right for being worried, Nikki stood up for what she thought was right, and that's a really hard thing to do in life, high school especially.

School shootings are a widely controversial topic, but Jack Chaucer is gentle and understanding when referencing other shootings- namely Sandy Hook. I was afraid that this book would have been insincere and abuse a hot news story in order to have a plot, but that was definitely not the case. This whole book is gritty and frighteningly real, and driven with emotion.

I did have a few small issues with the book that resulted in its four star review in lieu of five. The conversations between characters had a tendency to feel forced, which led to a small disconnect for me. The end was also patched up rather quickly, but to be honest, I'd rather have it wrapped up a little fast than drag on for too long. And, though this personal opinion isn't reflected in the rating, I'd have really liked to hear more of Adam's story.

It's a sad but true fact that most of us (thankfully) will never know exactly what's going on inside a shooter's head. It's for that reason that things like this need to be taught and discussed: You don't know the life of anyone else. Just because someone is different is no reason to taunt, bully, or pick on them. A little friendship and kindness can go a long way. Embrace differences, and be kind. It's preachy and cliche but god damn it if it isn't true.

Be warned that this book addresses a sensitive topic, contains colorful language, and references drugs and alcohol. The author is donating half of all profits from this book to the Newtown Memorial Fund.

Thank you to Netgalley for my chance to read this.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [25]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. This past week was an alright one. I had a Latin exam that I think I did okay on, but I did get a bit ill. I'm not quite sure if it's my sinuses, my ear, or a tooth, but the right side of my head is killing me. Ibuprofen and juice are my saving graces this week! And, this weekend is homecoming here at my university. Go Salukis! Now for my haul....


Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow
Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison
Under a Blackberry Moon by Serena B. Miller


Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst **signed**Thanks Sarah & Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks!
Perry Road by Emi Gayle [Kindle] Thanks Emi!
Swag from Rita J. Webb Thank you!

From the author:

The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp

Amazon Freebies:

French Quarter by Lacey Alexander
Unleashed: A Highland Historical Trilogy by Kerrigan Byrne
Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

And, I got a super duper care package from my sister, who insists that I need candy on Halloween.

Also, if you love goth or alternative music and are looking to help out an independent musician, check out my Raised by Bats post. My favorite singer, Voltaire, is still raising money to make his newest album!

That's it for me kiddos. What about you?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine

Title:Where the Stars Still Shine
Author: Trish Doller
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 24th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's Books


Five stars.

Only one thing about Callie's life is constant- her mother. The mother that took her away from her family over a decade ago. Now Callie's life consists of month-to-month apartments and hotels, food that she can get from a vending machine down the street, and clothes that she gets at local thrift stores boasting that town's names and schools to help her fit in. And let's not forget the slew of less than honorable men that her mother spends time with. But that life comes to an end when Callie's mother is finally arrested for her kidnapping... And Callie is taken to live with her father, in a proper home. She has to learn all over again what it's like to be in a family, to be loved, and to learn the roots she'd all but forgotten.


I'll be the first one to admit, I was a little leery about reading this title. I'd seen so many reviews raving and praising it that I was afraid that my opinions couldn't live up to the hype that it caused. Well, all I can say is that I was definitely not disappointed. This book is worth every bit of praise that it collects.

What might be the biggest pro of this book, in my opinion, is the protagonist, Callie. She's a refreshing heroine, who is strong and relatable while still being somewhat confused in her life and unsure of where she fits in to the grand scheme of it all. I think this juxtaposition is part of what makes the writing of this story so real. These conflicting traits work in harmony to represent a character with more depth, more personality. I was rooting for her from page one until the end.

This book also features one of my soft spots- Greek characters. Callie learns that the family she was forced to leave behind as a child is a large Greek one, and they live in a largely Greek community in Florida. The exceptionally handsome love interest, Alex, is also of this persuasion. I don't know why I have a thing for the Greeks (since I myself am Polish and Irish), but I do, and so I found this added level of Callie finding about where she's come from to be a pleasant surprise.

The writing itself is well detailed and pretty, while still having a layer of grit that I can't quite explain. But the narration allows for the story to seem pure and nonfiction, despite the fact that it is a fictional piece of work. I hate to use this word, because it's rather ambiguous, but it has a good "flow" to it that makes it easy to read in one sitting- the reader can easily lose themselves in the plot.

Plus, the cover work is gorgeous. It's definitely on my list of best covers for this year.

I've read quite a few books that feature a less-than-well mother/daughter relationship. Some of these I've liked well enough, and a few I didn't care for at all. Where the Stars Still Shine is the first that has blown me away entirely, perfectly captured the complexities of the emotions involved in a dynamic such as this, and has made me so adamantly support a female protagonist.

Where the Stars Still Shine is the first book that I have read by author Trish Doller, but it will most certainly not be the last. I recommend it to fans of YA romance, contemporary novels, or realistic fiction.

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for my copy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: The Scarpetta Cookbook

Title:The Scarpetta Cookbook
Author: Scott Conant
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 15th 2013
Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Five stars.

When I saw that I was approved to get this title, I was super excited. I am an avid watcher of the Food Network, and Chopped is a show that I watch differently. I know from watching that show that Scott Conant is a master of pasta, but I hadn't really known too much about his own cooking. The Scarpetta Cookbook contains 125 recipes from his restaurant, Scarpetta. I was definitely pleased with this book.

First let's talk about the eye candy, and no, I don't mean Scott himself. The photography of this book is beautiful. It makes every single dish look delicious, and the pictures taken within his restaurant show off the amount of pride that he has in his work. This book is worth it just to glimpse the pictures, if I'm being completely honest.

Then, there's the recipes themselves. They are all written in easy to follow format, and Chef Conant takes that even a step further. Between recipes, there are tips and mini cooking lessons, so that you can learn the skills required. I think that extra step of education is a great complement to the book, because the recipes don't demand that you already have a ton of previous knowledge. He also explains what things are, and what else can be used. Plus, he selects wine pairing suggestions for each dish. As my regular foodie readers know, I'm really bad at that bit, so it was definitely a helpful tidbit for me!

The book is organized by course, which makes it easy to navigate if you're searching for something specific. Out of 125 recipes in this cookbook, there are maybe 120 that I want to try. Those are phenomenal statistics, in my opinion. Almost everything in this book sounds simply divine. The recipes that I am most excited to try are as follows, in no particular order:

-Fennel and Citrus Spiced Roasted Black Cod w/ Baccala Mantecato
-Slow Cooked Lobster w/ Ricotta Dumplings, Pea Shoots, Cherry Tomatoes, & Tarragon Oil
-Mediterranean Octopus w/ Smoked Potato Crema
& Pumpkin Pots de Creme w/ Concord Preserves and Cinnamon Froth

I recommend this for cooks who love Italian food/pasta, or who are looking for classy, elegant dishes to impress with. I know that I will be purchasing a copy of this for my shelves, and I know I'll get a lot of use out of it.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my copy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: Made of Stars

Title: Made of Stars
Author: Kelley York
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 1st 2013
Source: Netgalley and Entangled Teen


Five shining stars.

Chance is a constant in the lives of half-siblings Ashlin and Hunter. For as long as they can remember, their quirky friend has been by their sides. They're a perfect group of three. The siblings are ecstatic when they come to their Dad's house for the first time in years, knowing that things will pick up where they left off. But they're older now, and Chance's lies don't quite add up. Hunter and Ash start to question why Chance hides so much from them when they're so close..... And then his mother is found dead. Can Ashlin and Hunter protect the boy they love forever, can they make his life okay for the first time?


Wow. I just finished this, and I'm speechless. I need to finish this review while everything is still fresh in my mind and while I'm still emotionally traumatized. This book is incredible, from cover to cover.

Actually, I'd like to mention that first. Look at how beautiful the cover of this book is. It lures you in, effectively, but inside it is a barrage of heartbreak and feelings. So many feelings. You betray me, peaceful cover.

I had never read a book of Kelley York's before, but I know I will be reading them again in the future. Her writing is beautiful. Throughout this story, there's this underlying tone of sadness and false tranquility, of impending mental and emotional shattering. I knew from only a few pages in that this book would leave a scar on me, and I was correct. Yet, despite all this sadness, this book illustrates such beautiful love. Between friends, between siblings, between lovers. Part of what makes the love of these characters so real is the alternating perspectives of both Ash and Hunter. It was executed perfectly in this novel, and gave a better insight into the siblings' feelings towards Chance.

Oh god, Chance. The characters in this book were all likable in their own way, but Chance is by far my favorite. Possibly ever. He's so odd and quirky and broken and lovable and UGH I just want to give him a hug and feed him sandwiches. (Yes, I know he's fictional. Shut up.) His flaws added to his charm, and when he's together with Hunter? They're perfect. In a messed up, imperfect way. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's the great thing about love, isn't it? It doesn't have to make sense. It just IS.

I honestly thought my review copy was missing pages off the end. I wasn't expecting so abrupt of an ending, and that made my pain so much worse. I have not been so emotionally damaged by the end of a book since Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.

A large part of why I liked this book is that love seems to have no boundaries. True, this book features a romance between two male characters. But that isn't the point of the book. There's no coming out scene, no hate. Ashlin loves Chance. Hunter loves Chance. Chance loves Hunter. It's just pure and simple love between humans.

I recommend this book to everyone, unless male/male romance is something that you're completely against. If not, this book is stunning. I really have no other words, and I hope that this review ends up being coherent. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat some chocolate and process and maybe watch something to brighten my mood.

Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for the chance to read this.

Review: Inhuman by Kat Falls

Title: Inhuman (Fetch #1)
Author: Kat Falls
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 24th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Scholastic


Three stars.

Inhuman is a dystopian novel in which a virus spreads across America. It causes those afflicted to develop animal-like traits, morphing them into feral half animal creatures. Sixteen year old Lane is sent on a mission to save her father, even if it means going into the Savage Zone. She risks it all in order to accomplish it, and meets a few characters who may be more dangerous than she'd ever imagined.



I give points to the author for her creativity when writing this book. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn't zombies in this book. It was a cool take on a spreading virus, having DNA altered and creating these savage animal-like people. Unfortunately, I just didn't really get the "creepy" factor that's needed for a dystopian novel to ring true. I know that this is a fiction book, but part of what makes dystopian or post-apocalyptic books so disturbing or powerful is the fact that they could very well happen. I didn't feel that connection to this book.

Another thing that made me disconnect from this story were the characters. The protagonist wasn't all too awful, but she definitely isn't a strong enough character to stand out in my mind. She just kind of... Exists. I was never really cheering her on, nor was I hating her so much that I wished her to fail. She was just there. It's hard to really explain. Now a character that I did have feelings for, though negatively, was Rafe. Rafe is one of the love interests- yes, one of. Because there's a triangle. Joy.

Rafe is a jerk. The fact that Lane is interested in him at all only furthered my disinterest in her story. The dialogue between them is blunt to the point of forced or fake. I just really didn't want to read more about them at parts. The more this interest/love triangle went on, the more that I just, didn't care.

This book did have positives though. The writing, forced dialogue aside, was actually pretty good. There were a lot of concepts and parts of the plot that I liked, and that held my attention well. I think that if the triangle were removed, this book would have had an entirely different rating for me. For me, that was the main reason why I didn't enjoy this book. Everything else was fine. I especially enjoyed the setting, which had a creepy hospital-like feeling, due to the medical/virus themes of the book.

I also love the cover. It'd definitely get my attention, and I'd pick it up if I saw it on a shelf. I love the color scheme.

All that being said, that book gets three star, average rating from me. I'm still not really sure how to feel about it, to be honest. I understand that this is the first book in a series. Despite my issues with this first book, I would pick up the next one to see how things progress and if my feelings for it improve.

If hot jerks who are inexplicably adored and love triangles are not your thing, Inhuman should be skipped. But, if the premise of a dystopian book free of zombies with a new twist on the virus intrigues you, this might be worth your time.

Thanks to Netgalley and Scholastic for my copy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Raised by Bats Preorder

Hello my lovely readers. Today, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite musicians, Aurelio Voltaire.

Yup, that devastatingly handsome pirate up there. He's a Gothic singer, who is hard to classify, but who has fans that listen to a wide spectrum of rock, Goth, New Romanic, New Wave, Alternative, and Gothrock. If his name sounds familiar to you, then you probably read my review of his first novel, Call of the Jersey Devil, earlier this year. My review can be found here. Now, why am I choosing to talk about him on this lovely Sunday afternoon?

Because he needs your help!

Voltaire is working on completing his newest studio album, Raised by Bats. And let me tell you, I am dying to listen to it. It is full of brilliant musicians! This album features:

Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls, The Violent Femmes ) on drums.

Ray Toro (My Chemical Romance) on guitar.

Knox Chandler (Siouxsie & the Banshees, Depeche Mode, The Creatures) on guitar.

Craig Adams (Sisters of Mercy, Mission UK, The Cult, The Alarm) on bass,

Emilio China (Psychic TV, Peter Murphy's Band) on bass.

Chibi (The Birthday Massacre) - vocals.

Frank Morin (World Inferno Friendship Society) on guitar.

Franz Nicolay (World Inferno Friendship Society) on accordion.

Melora Creager (Rasputina) on cello.

Julia Marcell - vocals

Armen Ra (Antony and the Johnstons, Mark Almond) on theremin!

with backing vocals by:

The Cruxshadows, Bella Morte, Ego Likeness, Zombina and the Skeletones and Angel Spit!

How amazing is that line up!?


Now, Voltaire has an indiegogo fundraiser posted to help him raise the money to finish this CD, and he has some AMAZING incentives for your donations! Signed CDs, posters, t-shirts, plushies, and if you're generous enough, even concerts! For as low as ten dollars, you too can own a digital copy of this gonna-be-awesome album. Click here to check out the other impressive incentives you can order!

But Jill! I hear you exclaim over the blogosphere. I've never heard of this Voltaire. How do I know if I like his music? What does he sound like? Well, my loyal readers, allow me to assist in your musical education this afternoon! Below is a Youtube video for one of his most well known songs, When You're Evil. In fact, it was my first Voltaire experience. It's dark, catchy, and just listen to that voice.

And as a bonus, I'm including a song from his recent science-fiction album, called "Bitrektual". I know that there's some Whovians that read my posts with regularity, so here's a song all about Doctor Who!

So, if you love the aforementioned music videos, or are already a fan of Voltaire's, go and check out his newest album's preorder page. In addition to whatever merchandise you get from Voltaire himself, I will send you a note of gratitude across the internet for the world to see. Support independent music artists, and check out Raised by Bats!

I'm ending this post with a picture of Voltaire and I together, because I was lucky enough to meet him just this past week at a show right here in Illinois. I had to take two 3 1/2 hour trains, miss three classes (including a quiz... Oops), and crash on my friend's couch for the night, but his shows are so worth it. He's hilarious, talented, and ridiculously nice. So go forth and order! I did!

I love this picture. It's candid, but I don't even care.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Melt: The Art of Macaroni & Cheese

Title: Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese
Authors: Stephanie Stiavetti, Garrett McCord
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 22nd 2013
Source: Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company


Four stars.

Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese is a cook book that specializes in various combinations of pasta and cheeses. The title is a bit misleading- this isn't just a collection of different American comfort food recipes. This book contains exotic and ethnic variations, including dishes from Greece, Mexico, and India.

This book is divided into sections: Always Refreshing, Stovetop Delights, Hearty & Satisfying, & On the Sweet Side. I really like this organization, because whether you want a filling casserole or a light summer pasta salad, you know what section to look in.

Though this cook book does not have a picture for every recipe, it does have quite a few, and the quality of these pictures is fantastic. If you didn't want to try these recipes just by reading their names and ingredients, the pictures will make you want to cook them immediately. For me, pictures are crucial for a good cook book, and Melt definitely has them.

Readers should take note that, as I mentioned above, this is definitely not just a comfort food book as the title suggests. There are a lot of gourmet dishes, with a lot of gourmet ingredients to match. Among them, there are a lot of name brand cheeses that are mentioned that might not be readily available to the average home cook. I personally live in a big city, so it wouldn't be too big of an issue, but not everyone lives so close to specialty shops.

That being said, the authors do try to remedy this by adding a list of acceptable substitute cheeses at the end of each recipe. Also at the end of each dish is a list of other flavors that work with the ingredients in the recipe, and a few wine pairing suggestions. I found that to be extremely helpful, because I have no idea how to pair wines (and I openly admit it!).

The instructions are clear and concise, and the authors include facts and tips for cooking/selecting both cheese and pastas alike.

Some of the dishes from this book that I'm the most excited to try are:

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Leonora Goat Cheese, Star Pasta, and Gingersnaps
Cahill's Irish Porter Cheddar with Bacon and Stout
& Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni

This is a cook book that I would definitely keep handy in my kitchen, despite the misleading title. There is a huge variety of ethnicities, ingredients, and cooking techniques at work here, and as an avid cheese aficionado I recommend this to cooks, cheese lovers, and pasta lovers alike.

Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for my copy. Photo courtesy of Netgalley.

Stacking the Shelves [24]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. This weekend is going to be a great one, I can tell you that! This is my university's homecoming, but more importantly, our "Fall Break"- meaning that I have no school Tuesday or Monday. I'm really really hoping to catch up on my reading! I'm so far behind. But thankfully, my Netgalley diet is working. I only had a few more approvals! Shall we?


Anyone But You: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by Kim Askew, Amy Helmes
The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable
How To Run With A Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy
The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Amazon Freebies:

Sanguis City by Morgan Jane Mitchell
Beg by C.D. Reiss

Photos courtesy of Netgalley & Goodreads

What did you get?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mini Review: My Little Pony: Pony Tales, Vol. 1

Title: My Little Pony: Pony Tales, Vol. 1
Author: Thom Zahler
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: November 5th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Diamond Book Distributors


Four stars.

My Little Pony: Pony Tales, Vol. 1 is a graphic novel that stars the fourth generation of Hasbro's My Little Pony characters. In this book, each of the mane six- that is, Rarity, Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash- each get their own little story in which they individually learn a lesson on friendship.

What I really liked about this volume was that it is divided by pony. Don't get me wrong, I love these ponies as a group too, but it was a nice change of pace to see each individual highlighted in there own little section. And it is true that much like the television series, the stories are quite heavy handed with the morals. However, I think that's a good thing, seeing that the intended audience is for children. This is a graphic novel with a good message for kids and adults alike.

What I didn't really enjoy this time around was the art. I'm going to try my best to explain why, but to be honest I can't really put my finger on it myself. It just seemed that the ponies looked... A bit off. I don't know if it was the proportions or their outlines or what it was, but I wasn't really as big of a fan of the art in this volume as I have been in books past. That being said, the scenes and coloring with both nice and made it easy to hold my attention.

Overall, this is a graphic novel that any fan of My Little Pony, old or young, would appreciate. It's an easy, light-hearted read that illuminates just how important it is to know about friendship. I would pick up the next volume in this series.

Thanks to Netgalley and Diamond Book Distributors for my copy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mini Review: Vitriol the Hunter

Title: Vitriol the Hunter
Authors: Billy Martin, Brent Allen
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: November 5th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Diamond Book Distributors


Three stars.

When I saw this title on Netgalley, I got super excited. Billy Martin of Good Charlotte fame, involved with a graphic novel? Sign me up! He was the first (of many, admittedly) rockers in guyliner that snagged my affections, and he's a great guitarist. His dark tone is greatly represented in the artwork and story of Vitriol the Hunter- the last defense against a ruthless vampire gang that soon will take over the city if Vitriol is to fail.

What I really liked about this title is the artwork. It has this really cool contrast somehow that I can't quite explain. A lot of the time, the scenes and landscapes are dark, which is what one would expect from a graphic novel regarding rogue vampires. But because of the design of the characters themselves, and the sometimes bright contrasts, it has this cool look of being animated. I think this would do quite nicely as an animated feature.

What I wasn't crazy about was the actual writing itself. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't anything super outside the box or original. It was rather predictable, until the twist at the end of the story. Vitriol himself is a pretty cool character.

All in all, I thought this to be a pretty good start to what I hope is a series. I would definitely pick up the next graphic novel in this series were he to put one out, despite the average writing. I think it'll get better, and I'd like to see more of Vitriol's ass-kicking skills.

Thank you to Netgalley and Diamond Book Distributors for my copy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: A Practical Heathen's Guide to Asatru

Title: A Practical Heathen's Guide to Asatru
Author: Patricia M Lafayllve
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: November 8th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Llewellyn Publications


Three stars.


A few months back, I read a fictional book in which one of the characters practices the pagan religion of Asatru. I had never heard of it before, but was intrigued when he mentioned that he wore Mjolnir -the hammer of Thor- on a pendant on his neck. I was super excited to see this title, because I was eager to learn more about it.

This is a handy guide of what gods and goddesses are affiliated with this particular branch of paganism. Each is mentioned and explained in detail, and their mythologies are given. I learned a lot, since my own knowledge of Norse gods pretty much only involved Loki and Thor.

This useful book also has instructions and guidance for how to set up prayers and ceremonies, and offers a pronunciation guide for those hard-to-pronounce names and words used in Norse and Icelandic worship. It's well rounded, offering a sampling of knowledge on various aspects of the religion.

While I did learn a lot about Asatru, I feel like this is a title I'd have to read more than once to fully comprehend. It was a slow read for me, because I was so completely unfamiliar with terminology and concepts, I had a bit of a hard time sorting things out.

This is a good book for those who already have an understanding about Asatru, or for those who are looking to learn more about the deities of Norse origins. But if you're new to it like I was, brace yourself. There's a lot of new information packed into this book, and it can be intimidating and difficult to get through.

Thanks to Netgalley and Llewellyn for my copy.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [23]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. Sorry for the post being on Sunday instead of Saturday. Yesterday my friend Jessica and I went to an apple orchard during a tornado watch..... So I was a little preoccupied! Now, shall we get to the books?


Who's 50 by Graeme Burk
Pawn by Aimee Carter
Selling Scarlett by Ella James
Star Trek Volume 6: After Darkness by Mike Johnson
Crash into You by Katie McGarry
Four Weddings and a Werewolf by Kristin Miller
The Crow: Curare by James O'Barr
Hitler's Secret by William Osborne


Maven by S.A. Huchton (Signed, thanks Amanda & S.A.)
Nemesis by S.A. Huchton (Signed, thanks Amanda & S.A.)

What'd you get?