Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review | Consume by Melissa Darnell

Consume by Melissa Darnell
Series: The Clann #3
Published by Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: August 27, 2013
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


Tristan Coleman has survived the change from Clann magic user to vampire, much to Savannah Colbert's joy—and despair. By changing the Clann's golden boy and newly elected leader, even to save him from death, she has unleashed a fury of hatred and fear that they cannot escape. 
As the Clann and the vampire council go to war, Tristan and Sav face a new threat—a fracturing of the all-consuming bond they share. To fight for peace, they must forge a new trust and risk everything to take down their deadliest enemy, even as they must run for their lives. Soon they will learn that some bonds are stronger than love—and some battles cannot be won without sacrifice.  (Goodreads) 

Consume by Melissa Darnell

My Thoughts:  I read The Clann Series by Melissa Darnell in an effort to read some of the backlist titles that I had shelved on my Kindle. (See my thoughts on Crave and Covet.) 

Consume begins with Tristan way out in a secluded forest cabin with Savannah and her father, learning to adapt to his body and to the new cravings and lifestyle that accompany being a vampire. In a relatively short time, he and The Clann have been through quite a bit, having lost Tristan's parents and Clann leadership. When The Clann and the vampires go to war, Tristan, Savannah, and her father leave their secluded cabin and go on the run in order to stay safe. Tristan and Savannah are wanted by both sides because they are so powerful - being both witch and vampire - but they aren't sure at this point who they can trust.

Now that it seems like they can finally be together since they are both witch and vampire, there's this little war to deal with and also staying hidden and Tristan's new vampire needs. Oh, and Tristan's sister is with them and pregnant, and they're all stuffed into Savannah's mother's camper. 

Being constantly on the go in the small camper makes this a grouchy. To this end, there is plenty of nitpicky drama in this book that became sort of wearying after a short while. Savannah and Tristan had additional problems because they could hear one another think, so their thoughts weren't protected and private anymore. I think that the dramatic arguing and complaining in this story made this third installment less enjoyable than the previous two in this series.  (They also spent a huge chunk of the book on the run, and I found myself ready for that portion of the story to hurry up and be over.)

The parts of Consume that weren't the on-the-run, stay-hidden parts were fairly fast-paced with plenty of action, and I liked that. I liked that after the build-up of the past three books, everything finally came to a huge event. While the ending tied up pretty neatly, I liked it just fine and feel happy with the resolution and the way things are. There were some interesting things that popped up here and there throughout the book concerning the plot. The twists were fun. 

The romance was satisfying. I'm happy that Tristan and Savannah were able to stick it out and work through their problems, and by the end they seem to be in a pretty good place. I appreciate this romance in this series - there are troubles, as with any couple (and plenty of drama, as with any couple), but they worked it out and persevered. It was entertaining. I really appreciate that this is a series that my entire family can read. 

I recommend Consume by Melissa Darnell for readers that enjoy young adult paranormal stories with romance. 

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Consume will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Paranormal with Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Alternating POV's

Consume by Melissa Darnell
is currently available for purchase.

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More by Melissa Darnell:

  


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review | Inside Out by Lia Riley - with Audiobook Notes

Inside Out by Lia Riley
Series: Off The Map #3
Published by Forever
Publish Date: December 2, 2014
Source: Book - Publisher, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


Love is their best adventure yet . . .

Talia Stolfi is deeply in love with the brooding Aussie surfer who stole her heart-but their infrequent letters only get her so far. While she fulfills her dream of being in the Peace Corps, a dangerous condition jeopardizes her life . . . and threatens to shatter her heart.

After nearly losing Talia forever, Bran Lockhart sailed to the stormy seas at the ends of the earth. Deep down, he knows that all roads worth traveling lead back to the beautiful California girl with the sunny smile. There's no denying that he belongs with her, but to have her by his side means Bran must dare to do something he's never done before: hope. 

Everything they've fought for has come down to this moment. Can Talia and Bran discover the courage to claim their future and learn that sometimes, in order to earn true love, you need to venture off the map?
 (Goodreads) 


Inside Out by Lia Riley

My Thoughts:  Inside Out is the third and final book in the Lia Riley's Off The Map Series . I've inhaled this entire series, novellas and all, in just a few days, approaching this final installment with both excitement and nervousness. This entire series follows the same couple, Talia and Bran, so I've been watching their adventures (and misadventures) throughout the first two books. The previous book ended on a slightly-cliffhangery-but-very-good note, so I couldn't imagine what would be ahead for these two, particularly after everything they went through in the first two books. 

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Inside Out begins with a load of excitement. Talia and Bran are separated, in a long-distance romance; she is working for the Peace Corps when she becomes gravely ill. Unconscious for a few days, Talia is taken to a hospital and then given leave from the Corps. Bran arrives at her side as soon as he possibly can, as his time with the Sea Alliance has also been cut short for reasons beyond his control. The couple decides to return to California while Talia rebuilds her strength, and they'll re-align their futures. 

When they get back to America, sure the two have some great time together. The banter that I've loved is still present and the two still have their charm and sense of humor. Talia still has the OCD issue, though, and she is recovering from a grave illness - so there's that. They both also still have little issues nagging them that they've carried around the world, individually and as a couple. Stuff begins to pop up, one thing at a time, that the two have to navigate together - not all bad, but even good things can be very stressful and trying on relationships. I had to put the book down a time or two because I was like now this! are you kidding me! more than once. 

Even so, even with the high stakes and issues, Inside Out never felt too dramatic or cheesy to me - and thank goodness, because it would have broken my heart after enjoying the story so much. I loved seeing resolution or progression with some of the things that kept surfacing for Talia and Bran - for example, issues with Talia's mom. It feels great that these two can shake off some of the weight that they've been carrying! I also love the way that Talia and Bran seem more equipped to talk through and plan for their future; they seem to understand that they will be moving ahead as a one if they remain together as a couple, and they begin to better plan accordingly. This was SO GREAT to see, because I think that they both felt like this was a struggle for them in the past. 

I feel like I'm talking about these two like they are real people. 

Regarding working through their past romantic histories: there is no love triangle here. These two have been committed to one another throughout this series and continue to be. What I meant here is that these two are confronting issues from their own pasts, resolving them, and laying them down forever. 

While I omigosh-loved the Australian setting that was present in the beginning of the series, I have to say that I fell hard for some of the California setting in this book. I miss Australia, but if it had to be replaced with something, California isn't a bad replacement! There is one scene that I especially loved involving a rocky state park and some of the usual craziness that followed these two. I held my breath throughout the scene, but then practically squeaked with happiness at the end of it. 

So, yeah, I'm a little sad that my first time reading this series is coming to an end. There are two novellas accompanying, as extras. Talia's best friends Beth and Sunny get a chance to tell their stories. I've read those too. In fact, I stopped reading Inside Out at around the halfway-point because I didn't want it to be over - then I read both novellas - then finished this one. I've enjoyed my time with Talia and Bran, and I've found myself a fan of Lia Riley's storytelling. I'll be moving onto her other romances, hoping they are just as fun as this one. I recommend Inside Out by Lia Riley and the entire Off The Map Series to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance, true series, romances without love triangles, and HEAs.

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Inside Out by Lia Riley is published by Hachette Audio and is 7 hours and 45 minutes, Unabridged. 
It is narrated by Brittany Uomoleale and Tim WrightI've completely enjoyed listening to this entire series on audiobook, narrated by these same readers, and I'm a little sad that there isn't another book for me to listen to! I recommend this entire series on audiobook for first listens or for first reads, and I'm so glad that I purchased these audiobooks so I can re-listen in the future whenever I want a fun romance with an HEA!

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Inside Out will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Great Setting: Australia
Issues: OCD
Alternating POV's

Inside Out by Lia Riley
is currently available for purchase.

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The Off The Map Series: 

  
     

I enjoyed this series so much! 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review | Sideswiped by Lia Riley - with Audiobook Notes

Sideswiped by Lia Riley
Series: Off The Map #2
Published by Forever
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Source: Publisher, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


It was only meant to last the summer . . .

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless NorCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight—because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .
 (Goodreads) 

Sideswiped by Lia Riley

My Thoughts:  Sideswiped is the second book in Lia Riley's Off The Map Series and picks up soon after the first book ends. (You should read the first book, Upside Down, before you read this one because this is not a companion series, this series follows the same couple.) Talia is about to leave Santa Cruz, California to join Bran in Australia where she will continue her studies and they will continue their lives together as a couple. 

I love the continuation of their relationship although it soon becomes clear that their time is limited: Talia's Australian visa will expire soon so a decision has to be made about her next step or risk being deported. Will she join the Peace Corps, which has been her dream for years? Or will she stay with Bran, which is a new dream? Talia tries to manage her OCD and an unhealthy relationship with her mother while she ponders over what she truly wants for her immediate future. 

Fearing the loss of Talia, Bran comes up with an idea that works in their favor, that keeps everyone happy, that keeps anyone from having to give up anything. Sort of. 

Bran changed his mind about his future when he fell in love with Talia. He doesn't do long-distance relationships after a past relationship nearly destroyed him, so going away to Antarctica to work with the Sea Alliance for a year is out of the question - he only wants to be by her side. He loves her too much to leave her. Bran is a little perplexed at how Talia is having a difficult time accepting his idea, with the back-and-forth she is experiencing in her thoughts. For him, the decision was super easy. 

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To be honest, Sideswiped began a teensy bit slowly. After a few chapters, though, I was right in there again, because I felt like I was living out the intensity of their relationship. Not necessarily that there is a high level of angry-angst here, but this is such a huge time in Bran's life and Talia's life, and the expiration of a visa is such a big deal - and the decisions they were making, almost all of them, were so big. Even with all of the intensity, I found myself chuckling again at Bran's wit and at the situations these two found themselves in - I appreciate the humor written into this book. 

By the time I got to the last chapter, I was holding my breath because I wanted so many good things for Bran and Talia. And SO MANY DECISIONS had been made and they'd been through so much. Good grief. And gracious, that ending. I'm starting the next book as soon as I publish these thoughts. 

Structurally, there are alternating chapters, just as with the first book, and I was delighted to see that Bran has more to say in this installment - I hope this continues into the last book. The setting continues to be STELLAR because: Australia! I felt like I was there. 

With the way that I've experienced the first two installments in this series, and with my anticipation over the next book - I'm very excited to read it, but I'm almost afraid! I have no idea what's about to happen with Talia and Bran. I want the best outcome for them. 

I recommend Sideswiped by Lia Riley to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance and an excellent Australian setting. 

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Sideswiped by Lia Riley is published by Hachette Audio and is 8 hours and 28 minutes, Unabridged. 
It is narrated by Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright I enjoyed the first installment of this series on audiobook, and this second installment is more of the same -- except for more of Bran's POV, which I love! I'm going to listen to the third installment of the series on audiobook as I follow along with print because I enjoyed listening so much. I recommend these audiobooks for first-time readers or those that want to reread.

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Sideswiped will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Great Setting: Australia
Issues: OCD
Alternating POV's

Sideswiped by Lia Riley
is currently available for purchase.

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The Off The Map Series: 

  
     

I'm both excited and nervous for the third novel in this series! 
(Then onto the novellas.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review | The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: November 11, 2014
Source: Library
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world's most successful music Kickstarter.

Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn't alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.

Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.
 (Goodreads) 


The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

My Thoughts:  I finished this book a few days ago but I can't stop thinking about it, which usually tells me that I have a new favorite for my shelves. I only found Amanda Palmer a few years ago after hearing her husband speak - he mentioned her in his talk. I began reading her blog, and following her antics including the Kickstarter that changed music, her TED Talk, etc. I love some of the things that Amanda says - I think she is super-positive and energizing and I've always enjoyed reading her thoughts. 

It was on a whim while on vacation that I downloaded this book and began reading - I couldn't stop reading, actually. I thought I'd learn a thing or two about how Amanda used crowdsourcing to change music a little bit...but I got SO MUCH MORE from this book, and now I want my own paper copy for my shelves so I can underline and circle and highlight and write in the margins. 

In The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer gives us insight into her life, her process actually. Things like: how she started working a job that isn't really that "normal" after graduating college and learned so much from it, and this propelled her into this amazing life that isn't exactly ordinary. She gives us plenty of her good experiences in her book, but she is also honest enough to share what hasn't worked for her, what were her fears, her insecurities, things like that. I appreciate the transparency of this book so much. I think that one of her main messages is that she arrived to the place she is at present largely because she allowed herself to rely on other people - her community - because she is as close to them as possible, and also honest and personal, by way of the internet. The relationship she has made with her fans and online community has allowed her to be as physically close to her fanbase as she can be, which is what she really seems to want as much as anything as a good artist, and her experiences with fan-interactions is very entertaining and encouraging to those of us that really enjoy interacting with artists that we support and admire. 

Amanda talks about the criticism she has received, mostly online, when doing things like couch-surfing and asking for the things that she needs, mostly online. This is very interesting, because I think it is always easy to criticize other people behind a computer and I wonder if so many people would criticize what she has been doing if they talked to her face-to-face and heard her thoughts and ideas? Probably not. 

"Asking" seems like such a simple concept when you take the time to listen to her story: when you make yourself vulnerable to people and ASK them for things that you need or want, most of the time people come through because people genuinely want to help one another. People want to see others and be seen, to trust and be trusted. People want to be part of the solution to a problem. People love art and don't mind paying for it. 

One of the best things about The Art of Asking is not necessarily the story of how Amanda Palmer launched this wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource an album and changed music forever, but how she interjected bits and pieces of her life into the story. I was sucked into the little pieces of Amanda throughout the story. For someone that is a rock star, she seems like someone that is very down-to-earth and so human, and I just love that. She also shared these great little interactions herself and Neil Gaiman, which felt like such a treat to those of us who are fans of the both of them. The exchanges between Amanda and her friend Anthony are like giant hugs. Immediately when I finished the book, I opened her music and listened again to her TED Talk, which I had already heard before. But this book is still with me. 

It's just a great memoir. It's a great story. Oftentimes books like these are only a little bit okay to me; they're great for super-fans of the subject and sometimes even poorly written. But this book isn't that. I got so much more from this than I expected and I'm kind of fangirling this book so hard, days after finishing it. Not because I'm an uber-fan, and please don't take that wrong. But because it's a dang good book and I like it what says in there. I think that I'd like to have tea or coffee with Amanda one day and I would certainly like to see her perform live. 

I recommend The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer for people that are interested in the music industry, people that are interested in making art or doing a job that they enjoy to the fullest, and people that enjoy human-interest stories. Actually, I recommend this one to anyone. This is definitely on my favorites list for this year.

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The Art of Asking will appeal to fans of:

Memoirs
Music, Art
Amanda Palmer  ( & Neil Gaiman)
Vulnerability

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
is currently available for purchase.

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This book was WAY more incredible than I could have imagined. 
Favorites shelf!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review | Upside Down by Lia Riley - with Audiobook Notes

Upside Down by Lia Riley
Series: Off The Map #1
Published by Forever
Publish Date: August 5, 2014
Source: Publisher, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 


If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found 

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying goodbye to painful memories—and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll pretend to be a carefree exchange student. Everything is going to plan until she meets a surly surfer with hypnotic green eyes, and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he slunk back to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. A single semester abroad won’t cover something this serious. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once-in-a-lifetime . . . or if there’s a plane to California with her name on it.
 (Goodreads) 



Upside Down by Lia Riley

My Thoughts:  It's always such an A+ moment when a book ends up being more than I expect it to be. That's exactly what happened here with Upside Down by Lia Riley. Sure I expected to like it (I already love the cover) but I didn't expect to love the emotional components that it included quite so much: both main characters had some pre-existing grief issues. The story was not too heavy, but the issues were still there.

So Talia not only has a pretty intense case of OCD, but she is grieving the loss of her sister and some guilt over her death. Instead of mourning their loss together, her family has pretty much grown apart since they lost Pippa. Talia's parents, especially her mother, cannot help her through her grief/loss because of their own issues - Talia just feels the need to get away, hence the study-abroad in Australia. Arriving in the new place is like lifting a weight off of her shoulders. New place, new people, new life. 

And she meets Bran. And there is an instant spark. And they are attracted to one another, and they begin to spend time together. He is smart, outdoorsy, and Australian, and Talia likes that! (He likes a lot of the same things about Talia!) They like one another, like really like one another. It seems like it should be an easy relationship to build, but there is something holding them back from fully-committing - Bran always seems to be just within grasp, but not quite. Talia has her issues that we begin to learn about early in the story, but what is Bran's deal? Well, we learn his backstory slowly, in bits and pieces, and it is emotional and interesting. (Does it make me weird to say that I liked that? Maybe. I don't know. I hope not.

I like Bran. A lot. He seems very real, I think. Like a nice guy. He has thoughts and actions that are both respectful and seem very much on par with what I consider true-to-life, which made me chuckle quite a bit; I love this about this book. The thing about Bran is that he has a hard time opening up to Talia because of the difficult and sensitive nature of what happened to him, and essentially ends up almost losing her, which is heartbreaking. And unfortunate and stressful at a certain point in the story, like very stressful. There is some stubbornness and some assumptive behavior for a very short time, and I held my breath, but then okay okay, exhale

And Talia's mother - awful. She has her own drama in her life (grief, remember?), but UGH. Bran has an uncle that is so great. And there is one random secondary character that Talia meets while out on a run, a professor - I liked him a lot. Perhaps he may be in future installments? I'm not sure, but that would be okay with me. 

So, yeah, this one was fun to read. I'm excited to continue with it. So many of the series that I'm currently reading are companion series, where each book features a different couple - I'm interested in following Talia and Bran for a few books to see how they'll cope with being two young people living on two different continents - will one of them move? Will they try a long-distance relationship? Will they help one another cope with their issues from the past? I'M HOPING FOR THE BEST FOR THESE TWO, I really am. 

A sidenote - this story has alternating points-of-view. Both Talia and Bran tell the story, but Talia has way more chapters than Bran does. I want to hear more from him! I like to hear his thoughts. (He made me laugh!) I'm hoping for more in the way of his point in view in future installments. Crossing my fingers!

I recommend Upside Down by Lia Riley to readers that enjoy New Adult Contemporary Romance and an Australian setting. 

Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Upside Down by Lia Riley is published by Hachette Audio and is 8 hours and 39 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright. Both of these voice actors do a great job with this dual-POV story. Both readers have nice, clear voices and complement one another well - and Bran's chapters and accent! Love it. I'm looking forward to continuing this series by supplementing my print reads with these audiobooks. I recommend these audiobooks for first-time readers or those that want to reread. 



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Upside Down will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Great Setting: Australia
Issues: OCD
Alternating POV's

Upside Down by Lia Riley
is currently available for purchase.

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The Off The Map Series: 

  

I'm excited to continue with this series! 
I want to see what happens with Talia and Bran. 

 
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