Thursday, October 31, 2013

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani Review {with Audiobook Notes}

The School for Good and Evil
by Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #1
Published by HarperCollins
Publish Date: May 14, 2013
488 Pages
Source: Book - Library, Audiobook - Library 

Find It:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”


This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.


But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…? (from Goodreads) 

The School for Good and Evil 
by Soman Chainani

My Thoughts:  I was so excited to start this book, particularly since I was listening to the audiobook as I followed along with the print copy. The audiobook was marvelous and HELLO THERE ARE MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS so all of these things together, along with the fact that the book has a running theme of good vs. evil, had me jumping up and down with the need to hurry and get started. It was a good book, it was. And I loved so much about it. But there were also a couple of things that I would change if I could. 


First of all, have you all seen this book trailer? 
It's pretty amazing. 


 


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Sophie and Agatha are an unlikely set of best friends. Sophie dresses in lovely pink outfits, loves to fix her beautiful blond hair, and does good deeds like they're going out of style. She dreams of the day she will be whisked away to become a princess because, really, she can see herself as nothing else. Agatha is practically the opposite of Sophie - she dresses in dark clothes, she often grumbles, and she lives in a graveyard. When the two are finally taken away to The School for Good and Evil, the girls can barely believe it. SURELY a mistake has been made, for Sophie has been taken to The School for Evil and Agatha has been taken to The School for Good. Who made this terrible mistake and can someone fix it please? Neither Sophie nor Agatha can see how this could be possible and they both spend a large portion of the book trying to rectify what they consider to be an awful error. 

But is Sophie really good? 
And is Agatha really the evil one? 

The truth is this: once you arrive at the school, your fairytale is written for you. Generally you arrive as a pair - like Sophie and Agatha - which means that one will be the hero and one will be the villain. These two friends initially do not like this and cannot bear the thought that they will be against one another ever in life - (they're best friends, remember?) - but as the book progresses and as Sophie sets out to prove that she is indeed the good one out of the two, Agatha tries over and over to help her reach this goal. (This is awfully good of Agatha, no?) And the harder Sophie tries to win the heart of her prince - so she can become a real princess - she loses sight of proving herself good...which is very telling for poor Sophie and for Agatha. 

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I loved this twist on good vs. evil at a middle grade level. I loved watching how the pursuit of being good can corrupt us and blind us into thinking we are actually good when we are really doing harm and maybe not even realizing it. I loved watching Sophie, beautiful on the outside, come to terms with what "good" really means. I silently and sometimes out-loud cheered for Agatha as she came to terms with the fact that she was neither ugly nor any of the other things she had always believed about herself - she was, in fact, a lovely and good person. Agatha learned that true beauty is just as much on the inside as it is on the outside. Agatha wins all of the awards, in my opinion. 

MAP MAP Beautiful MAP!
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani is such a marvelously fun idea for a middle-grade tale that I could barely stand holding it in my hands when I initially got it - I had to start it as soon as possible. Lucky for me, I was able to grab a library copy of the audiobook to listen to while I read along (oh my goodness, so fantastic!). As I've mentioned earlier, there is actually a map so beautiful I actually Instagram'd a picture of it, and the illustrations throughout the book are just as impressive. SERIOUSLY, THEY ARE IMPRESSIVE YOU GUYS. I think the idea of pairs of children - friends - being snatched up from unsuspecting villages to become famous fairytale characters is fun, and spending time with some of them as they spend a year at The School for Good and Evil seems like a really neat way to see this idea come to life. 


However awesome the idea of the book, however, I did have a few things that I would have changed. Keeping in mind that this is a middle-grade book, the first thing that I would change is its length - this is a chunky book for some middle-graders, coming in at almost 500 pages. Yes, I said there were illustrations throughout, but none were full-page illustrations, so the book is indeed quite long. I think that a big portion of the detail in the story, even perhaps a big chunk of the action, could have been removed and the story would have still remained true and been just as excellent. I think that it would take a devoted middle-grade reader to stick with this one and even I have to admit that it took me FOREVER to finish it, even with the amazing audiobook to nudge me along. In truth, I lost interest a few times along the way and finished several other books while I was reading this book. Another thing I would change is that there are so many characters in this story, I personally wasn't able to keep up with most of them. I actually gave up on trying to keep up with who was who and certainly who was good vs. who was evil. Sure, I could keep up with the main characters - Sophie, Agatha, Tedros - but as far as the rest of them go, I just glossed over the names and kept going, and this was with both print and audio. My hope is that with the second book, there is more focus on fewer characters, if that makes any sense at all. 

Audiobook NotesThe audiobook format of The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani is published by HarperAudio and is 13 hours, 46 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Polly Lee, who is new-to-me in terms of audiobook narrators and flat-out made me excited to listen to this book. She was completely fantastic. In fact, she was THE REASON I stuck with this book during the times I felt like the book was too long. I loved the way she voiced every character in this audiobook, brilliantly and uniquely, each with a personality of his or her own. Her pacing was perfect - never too slow for my taste - and her lovely accent made this whimsical fairytale story that much better. I hope that she continues to read this series because, honestly, it felt like it was written with her voice in mind. I cannot sing the praises of this audiobook high and loud enough. It is amazing. 

Ultimately, I did enjoy The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. I thought that the things that were good about it were brilliant, magical, and kind of mysteriously wonderful. I did have a few concerns with it as a middle-grade book, and even as a younger YA book, but the die-hard reading fans will choose to stick this one out regardless of my opinions. What I loved about this one far outweighed what I would change. As far as this being a series, I am happy with how this book ended - I don't feel any stress about the ending and I actually feel like I could stop after this book and things would be okay FOR ME. I think this author has stumbled upon something really special here and it will be interesting to see where he goes with it. 

I recommend The School for Good and Evil to fans of middle grade fantasy and fairytales, good vs. evil, magic, and character redemption. ALSO MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS, in case I haven't made it clear that they are present in the book. 

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The School for Good and Evil will appeal to fans of:

Middle Grade/Younger YA Fantasy
Good vs Evil
Illustrations & Maps

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
is currently available for purchase.


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Have you read this book? 

Do you read middle grade books often? 

HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE THAT MAP
AND THOSE ILLUSTRATIONS? 




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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker Review & Giveaway!

Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #3
Publish Date: November 4, 2013

Published by Atria Books
Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / 

Simon &Schuster


Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine year old Cain is starting to second guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with the staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control…and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her doesn’t need to complicate her life with romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her. (from Goodreads) 

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It's Coming!! K.A. Tucker's FOUR SECONDS TO LOSE is right around the corner! This contemporary romance novel releases November 4th, and we have a review for you so you can check it out! There's also an International giveaway below for a signed set of TEN TINY BREATHSONE TINY LIE and a galley   of FOUR SECONDS TO LOSE. You aren't going to want to miss getting your hands on this new novel from K.A. Tucker. See below for my review and all of the information on FOUR SECONDS TO LOSE and K.A. Tucker, as well as where to find her. Then make sure to enter the awesome giveaway. You can follow along with the Tour and read all of the reviews being posted below! 


Four Seconds to Lose 
by K.A. Tucker 

My Thoughts:  This is one series that I have loved like crazy since I first started reading it and that love just continues to grow with each installment Author K.A. Tucker puts out there for us.

(You can read my thoughts on Ten Tiny Breaths HERE.)
(You can read my thoughts on One Tiny Lie HERE.)

As the book begins - 10 years ago - we meet Cain as he is in an underground fighting match. Just nineteen years old, he doesn't seem like he is headed in the "rightest" of directions, but his inner thoughts while he is fighting prove that his heart is in the right place. During this fight, he receives word that there is trouble at his parents house and his immediate, immediate thought is of his younger sister Lizzy and her safety. See, his parents have some chosen some unsavory businesses to run out of their home and if there is trouble there - well, it would be all too easy for sweet Lizzy to get caught up in something dangerous. Cain hurries the fight and races off toward his parents' home...only to arrive too late. He sees three body bags being carried out and receives condolences from the officers and medical team working the scene. He was too late to save Lizzy. He was too late to save his sweet little sister. 

Fast forward to present day: Cain Ford is the owner of Penny's Palace, which is an upscale Club for Gentlemen. Yes, there is dancing. Yes, there is stripping. And yes, there are private rooms. Of course, there is a bar. BUT! Let's not judge Cain just yet...Cain has made it his goal in life - his mission, basically - to bring girls in and help them, get them on track in life and out of the sex trade. He is not sleazy. He does not become involved with his staff like so many of those types of club owners do. And he does not tolerate any drugs, pimping/prostitution, or things like that. Cain cares deeply for the ladies that work at his establishment and lately it has taken a toll on him, taking such good care of them and caring so much. Only recently, Cherry has been calling out "sick" again - last time she called out sick repeatedly, it was because her boyfriend was beating her. Also recently, one dancer had to go to counseling for cutting and still another was taken to the hospital for a botched back-alley medical procedure. It is these types of women that Cain tries to help find a better life, particularly when they have children involved. 

Cain's establishment is well-staffed with a low-turnover - most end up on-the-up with healthy life plans after spending some time at Penny's Palace. Cain is working in his office - stressed - when one of his favorite bartenders, Ginger, knocks on the door to remind him that one of her friends, Charlie, is coming by to talk to him about a job. She's give Charlie the once-over: no track marks, no evidence of prostitution, and no drugs - so it appears that she meets Cain's criteria. Plus! She has experience working in Las Vegas! Charlie comes to the door and suddenly it looks as if Cain has seen a ghost. There's something about this girl... 

Charlie Rourke has only known Ginger for about three weeks but the two seem to get along really well - they met at pole-dancing classes. They've formed a bit of a friendship and met up a few times to hang out, but of course everything Charlie has told Ginger has been a lie. Charlie's entire life in Miami is a lie, including her name. She doesn't have any dancing or stripping experience in Las Vegas and she's sure that Cain will do a background check and find no Charlie Rourke anywhere, and she won't get the job - and oh how he needs this job so desperately. Still, the interview went well - Cain didn't make her do anything awful like give him a lap dance or worse. Cain tells her to come back to work tomorrow and if the people like her, she can have the job. Charlie is elated - this may finally be her chance to make the money she needs to get away from him, to disappear. 

A few years ago, Charlie's mom died and left her alone with her stepdad. At the time, Charlie didn't realize the kind of man he was, the kind of job he had. He gives her pretty much anything that she wants and needs, but she is required to run jobs for him, jobs of the illegal variety. Lately, these jobs have been becoming bigger and more scary, more and more dangerous. Charlie's dad recently moved her down to Miami to expand his business - this has given her the opportunity to gather herself, make some quick money, and get away from this life that she doesn't want to live. This is why the job at Penny's Palace is so important to her - quick money, if she can make herself actually do it. Charlie has never danced in front of men before, and definitely not without any clothes on. She can do this, she thinks. It's for a good purpose. 
To Cain, there's just something about this girl that gets under his skin. He can't shake her. He can't stop thinking about her, can't get her face out of his head. He never, ever gets involved with his staff - but this girl is doing a number on him and he needs to figure out why. He also thinks she has some secrets, but he can't put his finger on exactly what yet, but HE WILL find out. He has connections. 
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Man, I love this story. Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker absolutely didn't disappoint me at all. Cain is this tough guy - very complex - that doesn't let people in very easily. He's a little bit hardened because of his past but I love that he helps all of these women clean themselves up and find a better way in life. It absolutely takes a toll on him but I don't think he would have it any other way. To Cain, it's one way that he can make himself feel the slightest bit less guilty for Lizzy's death so many years ago because he believes that she may have been headed down the same path as some of the girls he works with. Also, despite the things that he has done in his past - some of them are things he is not proud of - he is a great guy with a great heart. He may give off a first impression of the bad guy, but he most certainly is not. 

And Charlie - wow, I really liked her too. What a strong girl! She grew up in the middle of something pretty awful and didn't even realize it - once she did, she wanted out but was so embedded into the lifestyle it was basically impossible. Charlie had enough wits about her to use what was at her disposal - a new location provided by none other than her boss/stepfather - to work toward getting her life together, and under a veil of secrecy. Charlie initially comes across as kind of unexpressive or maybe hard, it takes her a little while to realize that the people she is working with and coming in contact with actually care about her, and that is something that is new and fresh for her. She has to learn to let her walls down because for her entire life, having walls up has literally kept her safe. 

Cain and Charlie together - hello, slow-burn! Hello, swoon! Hello pitter-patter of my heart! Author K.A. Tucker has NEVER failed to do this to me, and I love the way she wrote these two. In a way, Cain and Charlie were kind of perfect for one another because they both have such different and unusual and tough backgrounds - it's like they automatically are predisposed to understand one another. Of course, Four Seconds To Lose is much more fun to read as far as the romance goes when you know that Cain's rule is to never get involved with his staff and when you know that Charlie doesn't want to become too attached to life in Miami because she wants to get out of there as soon as she is able. Sometimes love and attraction changes our plans, guys, and it is glorious when it is in a fantastic book with a fantastic story that you can swoon the heck over. LOVED IT. 

OF COURSE I loved the heck out of this book - I love this series as a whole. Interestingly, in my opinion, this one is more like a standalone story than the other two. The previous characters do appear, but they spend less time in this one than they did together in the first two. I say that to say that readers that pick this one up probably would have no trouble starting with Four Seconds To Lose, although if some of you readers are anything like me, you have to read books in order. I do think that you would be fine to read this one first and then go back and read Ten Tiny Breaths and then One Tiny Lie, though, which should be read in order. 

I recommend Four Seconds To Lose to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance (although, you know what: I'm gonna recommend this one to Adult readers as well because of Cain, his job, his age, etc). I also recommend it to readers that enjoy slow-burn romances, characters that find redemption and growth and development, and stories involving the (ssshhh) mafia/crime. I am all over this series like white on rice. I'm in it to win it. I'm not sure how far K.A. Tucker is going to carry it, but I promise you that if she writes twenty books in this series, I'll read them all and if they keep getting better and better like they're doing, it'll just keep MAKING MY DAY. 

ALSO: Once again, THAT COVER. This author's design team gets all of the awards. Seriously. 


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Four Seconds To Lose will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
with Issues
Romance: Slow-burn. No triangle. 

Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker
will be available for purchase on November 4, 2013. 

*I received a copy of this book  from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. Thank you Atria! 

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Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

Find K.A. Tucker: 

*********************************************************************

And now for two HUGE Giveaways! 

**Both are Open Worldwide, guys!**

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rule by Jay Crownover Review & Giveaway

Rule by Jay Crownover
Series: Marked Men #1
Published by William Morrow
Publish Date: October 22, 2013 

(first published December 30, 2012)
339 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters 

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want—and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess—and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw—even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.


But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other. (from Goodreads) 



Rule by Jay Crownover

My Thoughts:  Aside from the great cover, Rule by Jay Crownover won me over with 1) great, well-developed characters that we will see in this book and in future books in this series and 2) THE MENTION OF THE BAND LUCERO, which kind of owns my heart a little bit. I realize Lucero has nothing to do with the story, but HEY sometimes it's the small things, right? YES. 


Okay, so the Archer family consists of three brothers - older brother Rome and twins Remy and Rule. Then there's Shaw, who really isn't a part of the Archer family as much as she's been sort of "adopted-in" because she's spent so much time with them over the years. A long time ago, Remy - just two years her senior - brought her home and she's basically been there since then, in her free time. Shaw's own home life hasn't been the best of times but she found comfort and love and acceptance and understanding not only with the Archer boys but with their parents, and they've considered her daughter and sister. 

As the book opens, Shaw blows into Rule's apartment to drive him to Sunday brunch with the Archer family...only to find him *ahem* entertaining someone else. He quickly gathers himself, dresses, makes the gal leave, and allows Shaw to drive him home, where - just as he expected - he is met with exactly the acceptance from his family that he's had for years now:  in other words, NONE. Aside from Rule's "different" appearance - tattoos and piercings - his mother has blamed him for the untimely death of his twin brother several years ago and his father has gone along with his mother's hurtful words. Really, the only reason he attends the Sunday brunches is because Shaw practically forces him to go, but this time - this time - Rule decides that he has had enough of the hurtful words and the lashing out, and he isn't coming back. And you know what? Shaw stands by him and tells his parents that until they decide to accept and love their son for who he is, she isn't coming back either. This is kind of a big deal. 


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Okay, so Rule by Jay Crownover! This is a totally unexpected fun new series for me! I've been seeing it around in the bookish world but hadn't taken the time to read it yet - BOY am I glad that I did now! I found that this story is relatively possible and that it was pretty easy to conjure up visually in my head as I was reading, which is something that I really love. I love the great characters - how they are all developed really well, to the point that I feel like I know them. 

I want to give some nods to the characters in this book because they are almost all pretty great. One of the things that I really enjoyed about these characters - the main cast and the secondary cast - is that I already know that I'll be spending more time with some of them in the future as there are already companion books out supporting some of these people. And it isn't like these characters are glossed over, mentioned only in passing - some of them are given enough of a personality that I feel like when I read the next books, I'm going in with great information and a pretty realistic visual image of them. I LOVE THAT. There are other companion series out there that mention future main characters, but I'm not sure that I've read any (or many, at least) that have spent so much time on developing the characters right away. (However, this series is an exception and a favorite.

Let's talk about some of these great characters
  • Rule: Surviving Archer twin. Talented tattoo artist. Many tattoos and piercings. Archer family outcast. Main character. 
  • Shaw: Female lead that has been "adopted" into the Archer family. Assumed to be in a relationship with Remy by the rest of the family even though she consistently maintained that she and Remy were always just friends. Beautiful, from a wealthy and influential family. Plans for medical school. 
  • Remy: Rule's identical twin that died about three years ago on his way to pick up Rule from a party in which Rule didn't feel safe driving himself home. Always clean cut. Was in school. Very similar to Shaw. Opposite of Rule in many ways, but they were very close. 
  • Rome: Oldest Archer brother. Currently at home temporarily after being injured during active duty in the military. Respected by both the twins and parents. He and Shaw have a special "brother/sister" relationship. 
  • Nash: Rule's roommate. Fellow tattoo artist at his Uncle Phil's shop alongside Rule. Been Rule's best friend since fifth grade. 
  • Jet: Good friend of Rule and Nash. Lead singer in a local rock band. 
  • Ayden: Shaw's roommate. Has a crush on Jet. 
This is a big batch of solidly recurring characters, but there is an ease with which Author Jay Crownover writes them - it isn't even possible to confuse them. It's like you've known them in your own life or you're possibly a part of their group of friends. I absolutely love the way that Jet, Rome, and Nash have their own books in this series - reading about them so much in this book allows us as readers to go into those books with great prior knowledge about them. I'm not talking about the standard mention of them - I'm talking about the fact that I can carry on a conversation about each of these characters with a fellow reading friend that happens to be reading this book along with me. Also I'm very excited to see what will happen with each of these characters in future installments

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Regarding Rule Archer - in the beginning he appears to be one of those broody and angsty bad boys, but I love the way that my initial reaction to him was stripped away once I got to know him. Rule has had an icky hand dealt to him in his life with the loss of not only his brother but his twin brother and with his mother placing that blame on him. It doesn't surprise me that someone with that sort of weight and guilt acts out the way that Rule does. However, he's also had Shaw to stick by him even when she probably had great excuses to let him go. He's been rude to her, he's not deserved the care and attention she's given him, and he's flat-out disrespected her on occasion - but Shaw never gave up on him. In all honesty, it was Shaw and her kindness above all others that brought Rule out of his funk, that taught him that he was worthy of love and acceptance and kindness, and that he didn't have to subscribe to the ideas and feelings that his mother was laying on him every week at Sunday brunch. When Rule decided to quit visiting his mother until she treated him better - and when Shaw stood by him in this without provocation - that opened Rule's eyes. Plus the perfect timing of older brother Rome being home and helping support Rome and Shaw, and standing up to their mother, also proved to Rule that he didn't have to feel guilt and shame and any of those other negative feelings either. I loved Rule's growth. Such a fun character and really, such a great guy. 

Then there is the romance:  I kind of loved it. Shaw put herself out there to Rule to show him how she felt and even though it took a while, it was really something super swoony. I loved the way their relationship built - slowly and steadily and awkward at times. Isn't that often how it is in real life? It took a lot of trust from both of them, but MAN it was great to read. I'm not giving anything else away about these two because I think it's best to JUST READ IT. 

Honestly, this has been one of the best surprises in New Adult for me in a long time, and you guys, I read a ton of New Adult. I loved that there was relationship building, great friendships, and actual time spent on a college campus and building careers. I loved so much about this book and am already making plans on reading the next book along with a friend - hopefully the whole series. I am a FAN of the Marked Men. 

I recommend Rule by Jay Crownover to fans of New Adult Contemporary Romance, fans of college campus as a setting, fans of tattoos, and fans of great friendships. This has just been a joy to read and DID I MENTION THAT THE BAND LUCERO IS MENTIONED IN THE BOOK? Because that was pretty awesome too. 


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Rule will appeal to fans of:

NA Contemporary Romance
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle.
Great Characterization
Great Friendships
Alternating POV
Tattoos
Surprises!

Rule by Jay Crownover
is currently available for purchase.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for me to read and review on this blog. My thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone, and I received no compensation for them! Thank you William Morrow!

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And now for the Giveaway! 

I have two copies of RULE by Jay Crownover up for grabs! 
One copy will go to a US/Canada resident. 
One copy will go to an International resident. 

Contest ends 11/12/13. 

Good Luck! 

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Monday, October 28, 2013

The Prey by Andrew Fukuda Review & Giveaway

The Prey by Andrew Fukuda
Series: The Hunt #2
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: January 29, 2013
304 Pages
Source: Publisher 

Find It:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 


For Gene and the remaining humans—or hepers—death is just a heartbeat away. On the run and hunted by society, they must find a way to survive in The Vast... and avoid the hungry predators tracking them in the dark. But they’re not the only things following Gene. He’s haunted by the girl he left behind and his burgeoning feelings for Sissy, the human girl at his side.

When they discover a refuge of exiled humans living high in the mountains, Gene and his friends think they’re finally safe. Led by a group of intensely secretive elders, the civilisation begins to raise more questions than answers. A strict code of behaviour is the rule, harsh punishments are meted out, young men are nowhere to be found—and Gene begins to wonder if the world they’ve entered is just as evil as the one they left behind. As life at the refuge grows more perilous, he and Sissy only grow closer. In an increasingly violent world, all they have is each other... if they can only stay alive.
-(from Goodreads) 



The Prey by Andrew Fukuda 

My Thoughts:  It had been a while since I read the first book in this series, The Hunt, but I quickly remembered how much I liked Author Andrew Fukuda's original take on vampires. Fukuda's follow-up, The Prey, was a fast-paced book that read much like a survival story and I actually think I may have liked it more than the first book. 

This is the second book in the The Hunt Series. 
There are some minor spoilers in this review, 
so proceed forth at your own risk and choosing.  
I have tried to keep spoilers limited to what is 
included or alluded to in the summary. 

- HOWEVER -

PLEASE enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post
for a copy of the first and second book in this series
whether or not you read this blog post to completion! 
I would love for you to start the series AND
the giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE! 

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To recap these particular vampires: While these vampires tend to follow some of the "regular" vampire mythology that we're used to: no sunlight, bloodthirst, super strength and speed - they also have some unusual characteristics that I thought fascinating in the first book. For example: they do not laugh, they do not sweat, they have an unusual reaction to water and do not require it as they don't thirst for it, etc. While these characteristics were much more prevalent in the first book than in the second book, it's important to have a good understanding of exactly the type of creatures main characters Gene and the rest of his gang are dealing with in this installment. In The Hunt, Gene was trying to blend into a world where being one of these creatures out in society was the norm, but now in The Prey - Gene no longer blends in and is in survival mode. 

(You can read my thoughts on The Hunt HERE.) 

Speaking of Gene: He is the main character from the first book, and he is indeed still the main character in the second book. However, some of the more secondary cast has stepped up and become much more important to the story as they are running together from these creatures - there are a small but tight-knit group of humans just like Gene that have bonded over someone that they loved mutually - someone that is not currently with them. 

The basic premise behind The Prey is that Gene and his pals are on the run from vampires that wouldn't hesitate to rip them apart and feast on them in a second. When Gene and his friends pool their knowledge together, they realize that there is the possibility of a safe place for humans like themselves - the only problem is traveling to this place and making it there alive and in one piece. And you know what? They DO arrive there - this place is called The Mission. At first, it seems amazing. There is food everywhere, super-nice people (all human!), no threat from the vampires that want to kill them, and did I say food? However, the more they look around, something just doesn't seem quite right about The Mission. It takes the group a few days to figure a few things out, but once they do they realize that they can't stay there any longer - they're just as in danger there as they were on the run. Leaving The Mission proves to be nearly as difficult as getting there. 

In talking and secretly asking around at The Mission, the group realizes that Gene's father (aka The Scientist) previously had ties there, although he is no longer affiliated with the community for reasons - and no one really agrees on what those reasons are exactly. The group decides that the amazing place Gene's father talked about - the Land of Milk and Honey - this paradise that he had told them about couldn't possibly be this place and they decide to set off again. But will they make it this time? And what do they risk by leaving. DO they all make out alive? And will they make it to this paradise that they all long for so much? 

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Nearly non-stop action, this book! The Prey by Andrew Fukuda kept me glued to the pages because not only did I want to know if they were going to make it to their destination safely but I wanted to know what on earth was up with The Mission - it was seriously creepy! This second installment in this fun series picks up soon after the first book ends and DOES NOT LET UP until the last page. I have all ideas that when the third book is released soon, it'll be much the same. 

In the first book, Gene began the book a little on the timid and fearful side but had some character growth as the book progressed - this time, he started out as a strong character because, well, he had no choice. The Prey begins as the group is quite literally running away from a group of vampires and from that point on, Gene is looked upon as one of the leaders of his small group. He doesn't have time to be weak, he doesn't have time to falter, he doesn't have time to do anything other than LEAD. Sure, Gene has times where he thinks back and wishes he'd have done things differently before. He has times when he thinks back on those he loved and lost. He has times when he thinks it would be easier, much easier, if life just wasn't this way. The difference is that he doesn't let his other group members - particularly the younger ones - realize this and he continues to be strong for the others in the group. He is a decision-maker, a fighter, and a good example. And he continues to show growth even in this second book - by the end, he is even stronger than he was in the beginning, often having to make some very difficult decisions (that I probably wouldn't even be able to make myself). Gene's growth across the series thus far has been fantastic and I enjoy his character, even in this unique and very unusual world. 

His sidekick this time around is Sissy - she's a bit of a fiesty mind and an independent thinker, and I love that about her. She was very present in the first book - just in a different way - and I absolutely love her in this book. Sissy is what you could call, I suppose, the other main character, and I love that she is a strong female that isn't afraid to make decisions and lead the group as well. Even Gene looks to her for guidance sometimes. Once the group arrives at The Mission, Sissy is treated a bit unfairly for some of The Mission's oddball reasons, but I love the way Gene and the others in the group band together and see to it that she is not only taken care of but rescued. Her character has really taken on a life in this second installment and I'm very anxious to see what happens with her in the next part of the series. 

I mentioned in my review of The Hunt that the world that was created for this series was "just as unique as [the] vampire lore" and that I had an inkling that the world would be expanded in this second installment and BOY WAS I CORRECT. It was so cool to see the world beyond the city Gene previously lived in and the institute from the first book - in The Prey we are actually able to see how the landscape of the world has been changed drastically by the infiltration of these creatures into the population as well as learn some theories as to how it may have happened. 

All in all, this is a strong second-book to this series and I don't know why I waited so long to read it. The positive to that is that I won't have quite so long to read before the third book, The Trap, comes out in a couple of weeks. I had no idea when I began this series that I would enjoy it as much as I have/am, and at this point, I REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Like, a lot. 

I recommend this series for fans of vampires and interesting/different vampire mythology, survival stories, action-driven plots, and male main characters. I'm itching to find out what happens next very soon! 


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The Prey will appeal to fans of:

Vampires
Paranormal/Post-Apocalyptic
Action-Driven Plot
Survival
Male Protagonist 

The Prey by Andrew Fukuda
is currently available for purchase.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for me to read and review on this blog. My thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone, and I received no compensation for them! Thank you St. Martin's!

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And now for the Giveaway! 

Author Andrew Fukuda and the folks at St. Martin's Press
have generously provided copies of both 
THE HUNT and THE PREY 
for ONE LUCKY WINNER! 

*Open Worldwide!*Ends 11/10*



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