Review: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Scarlet
Author:  Marissa Meyer
Publisher/Year:  Square Fish  2/4/14
Length: 512 Pages
Series: Lunar Chronicles #2

Overview

Cinder is back and trying to break out of prison—even though she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive if she does—in this second installment from Marissa Meyer.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother, or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana.

My Thoughts

Loved it!  I’m really a fan of how Ms. Meyer writes – we get a sequel to a well written first installment of the series, and it’s full of surprises and adds depth to the series.  When we left off in Cinder, book 1, Cinder was imprisoned after the chaos that ensued at the ball when she went to warn Prince Kai of what Queen Levana was planning – if he were to accept the marriage deal.  Of course things went from bad to worse, and Cinder ended up losing her cyborg foot, damaging her hand, and being captured.

We pick up in book 2 when Cinder’s still in jail, Dr Erland comes to her rescue in a sense with a new foot and hand that are much more advanced and equipped to help her in the future, as well as with a plan for escape – as he informs her that he’s going to flee to Africa and she should follow.  He also drops the bomb on her that she’s the long lost (and thought to be dead) Princess Selene and that people had gone to great lengths to ensure that she was hidden and never discovered.

So what we have here is the quest to escape from jail, and discovery of why and how she was hidden as well as figuring out a way to help over come the fear and death that Queen Levana and the Lunars pose.  In her escape, Cinder encounters ‘Captain’ Carswell who helps her by providing his stolen ship and assistance through their travels.

What’s nice to this story is that there’s a parallel story going on – with Michelle Benoit going missing in Rieux France – halfway across the world and her grand-daughter Scarlet is left to pick up the pieces and really figure out what’s happened to her ‘grand-mere’ since she doesn’t believe that Michelle just disappeared from her own reasons.  This is where the story takes a nice twist…and i have to say that it took me a few minutes to follow that book 1 was ‘cinderella’ and book 2 is ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

In this parallel story, Scarlet is reunited in a sense with her father, whom she has no relationship with, after he’s been returned to the family estate, being released from his captors,whom we then learn have Michelle.  This is where the story gets interesting.  Scarlet’s father is firm in the sense that the captors think that Michelle is hiding something, and Scarlet can’t imagine what that could be.

At the same time, Scarlet has crossed paths with a street fighter named Wolf who plays an interesting role in the whole story as well, given that there is a nice twist that we learn about him as the story progresses.

It’s only after about 2/3 of the book that paths fully cross – and it’s interesting to see how it all meshes together.  We’re taken on a journey with all these characters, wondering who can be trusted, who knows what about whom, and really wondering if Queen Levana will succeed in turning the whole planet into an uproar.  We can only assume that she will since she’s just that evil.

The other piece that’s nice about this story is that we still have the underlying story of Kai who has now assumed the role that his father had before his death as Emperor.  Kai is forced to continue the search for Cinder in the hopes of saving the planet, yet his heart’s not in it.  We see that he’s flip flopping a bit about what’s real and what’s not, and what he wants to believe.  It’s pieces like this in a story that keep me engaged since we see him coming of age in a sense, thinking for himself and questioning everything that he knows and is being told.

The question now becomes in book 3 – Cress, who’s going to survive, again who’s on which side, and what will become of those in power.  I can’t help but adore the role that Iko plays in this story – taking on new forms and roles to help, and i love the interactions between Scarlet, Wolf, Cinder, Captain and even Kai.  I also wonder what Levana knows and what she’s capable of.

Well, good news is that i have book 3 ready to go tonight, and i can’t wait for the next phase of this story.

Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Cinder
Author:  Marissa Meyer
Publisher/Year:  Square Fish  1/8/13
Length: 448 Pages
Series: Lunar Chronicles #1

Overview

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Thoughts

Have you ever had a book that you’ve seen over and over and said you’d read but just keep putting off?  that’s this book for me.  and i honestly don’t know why.  I love the cover art, and i like that it’s dystopian and futuristic in a sense.

We come into this story after World War 4 has destroyed all that Earth knows from the past for survival and civilization.  We meet Cinder at the onset of this story – she’s in her booth at the market where she has a booth to repair things since she’s the ‘best mechanic’ in New Bejiing.  On this particular day, she’s waiting for Iko her android to come back with a new foot for her since hers is too small.  Oh yes, Cinders not a regular girl, she’s a cyborg-  meaning that she’s part human, and part machine.

While she’s waiting for Iko to get back, she has the surprise of a new customer, who turns out to be Prince Kai.  Completely unexpected since he’s the prince and all, and well, Kai also expects Cinder to be a man, so that was a shock for him.  He needs her to repair his personal android for reasons unknown at this point in the story, but we know that it’s important, so Cinder does what she can.

Just when Kai leaves the booth, chaos ensues in the market – a child shows signs of a plague that has been spreading, and is taken away.  Cinder and Iko leave the market quickly, trying to get out of there unnoticed since there’s this taboo on cyborgs already and she doesn’t want to be blamed for the disease.

When she gets home though, things aren’t any better.  This is where i enjoyed the comparison to the Disney element here.  Of course, Cinder is going to be the ‘red headed step child’ of sorts – with the adoptive mother who doesn’t want her and makes her work as a servant or slave all the time.  See, Cinder was found and adopted by Garan, her ‘father’ who rather soon after bringing her home comes down with the plague and dies.  Adri his wife then has the obligation of keeping Cinder and raising her with her other 2 daughters who are all fully human and don’t have the stigma of being a cyborg.  so you can just imagine the struggle that Cinder has to go through.

We have a new take on the Cinderella story in a sense since of course there’s a ball that everyone goes to, where the prince is trying to find a wife, and Cinder’s not allowed to go.  It’s her sisters instead who get to go and that makes things complicated – although Cinder knows that being a cyborg means that she’ll never have that happiness.

The other story along side this family annoyance is that Prince Kai’s father has come down with the plague and is on the verge of dying.  All the while, Earth is trying to work through a treaty with the Lunars – a society that lives on the moon and has these interesting ‘magically’ powers that are unsettling.  They can glamour people to see and think whatever the Lunar wants them to.  Their Queen, Lavena is especially horrible, given that she’s been said to have killed her family so that she’s the leader.

Where this story takes us is on an interesting journey of Cinder trying to come to grips with what she is, deal with her growing feelings of something that she never knew could be a possibility (her crush on Prince Kai), and knowing that she can’t stay in New Bejiing

There’s also an underlying story about the search for the cure of the plague, and Cinder is volunteered for testing by her stepmother in a way to get her out of the house, and for Adri to get more money since volunteers get paid.  In Adri’s mind, all volunteers die from the research so this is a way to get rid of Cinder as well.  What happens though is unexpected – when Cinder is taken in for testing, they learn that she’s immune to the plague and the reason why is very unexpected.

So…the lead up in this story is a bit drawn out, but the premise is really interesting.  I think that there’s something to be said about taking a story that we all know and giving it a dystopian twist – and in this case Marissa Meyer does a decent job.  There’s this side story about the lineage of the Lunar royalty that makes us wonder what’s the true story – knowing that Queen Lavena has had folks killed  yet all the while we’re forced to wonder if they are dead?  We also want to know the story behind Cinder a bit more since she doesn’t remember her life prior to her hover accident before Garan found her – and that makes things even more exciting.

Where this story ends up is a nice cliff hanger – it’s a great way to set up book 2 – Scarlet, since there’s a lot that can happen and a lot htat should happen.  We’re left wondering if Cinder will survive her situation, what choices Kai will make, What Dr Erland is really up to and why?  and well, what the Lunars are preparing for back home.  So much to think about, and i’m sure only some will be answered in book 2.  Enjoy!

Review: Three (Article 5 Trilogy #3) by Kristen Simmons

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Title: Three
Author:  Kristen Simmons
Publisher/Year:  Tom Associates LLC  2/11/14
Length: 384 Pages
Series: Article 5 #3

Overview

Ember Miller and Chase Jennings are ready to stop running. After weeks spent in hiding as two of the Bureau of Reformation’s most wanted criminals, they have finally arrived at the safe house, where they hope to live a safe and quiet existence.

And all that’s left is smoking ruins.

Devastated by the demolition of their last hope, Ember and Chase follow the only thing left to them—tracks leading away from the wreckage. The only sign that there may have been survivors.

With their high profile, they know they can’t stay out in the open for long. They take shelter in the wilderness and amidst the ruins of abandoned cities as they follow the tracks down the coast, eventually finding refugees from the destroyed safe house. Among them is someone from Chase’s past—someone he never thought he’d see again.

Banding together, they search for a place to hide, aiming for a settlement a few of them have heard about…a settlement that is rumored to house the nebulous organization known as Three. The very group that has provided Ember with a tiny ray of hope ever since she was first forced on the run.

Three is responsible for the huge network of underground safe houses and resistance groups across the country. And they may offer Ember her only chance at telling the world her story.

At fighting back.

My Thoughts

I’m always a little apprehensive when i get to the finale of a dystopian trilogy, but this one really delivered.  We get the exciting conclusion of Ember and Chase’s story – as they try to find freedom and keep those they love safe.

We meet up with Ember and Chase as they are trying to find the Safe House which they learn has been blown up.  They are searching for other survivors – following the direction that they’ve been given to get to other outposts in the hopes that they’ll find help and supplies.  Rebecca and Sean are still with them, Rebecca still being quite injured and slowing them down a bit, but Ember’s guilt of being the cause of her injury still weighs heavy so she fights to keep Rebecca with them.

This group has split from another part of the group which includes Tucker – and we’re still on the fence about being able to trust him.  In this book ,Ember still believes that he’s one of the good guys now, even though he killed her mother and hasn’t been on their side the whole story.  She just needs to hold onto the hope that there are more survivors, and holds onto his voice that’s on the other end of the radio.

As they travel, Chase and Ember’s group come across what they call the Lost Boys – a group of wild boys that try to capture Ember, and someone comes to their rescue – that turns out to be Jesse – Chase’s uncle.  they link up with Jesse who seems to have an uncanny knowledge for all things leading to safety and that makes Ember wonder why he knows so much and what that means.  Ultimately though, Jesse leads them to Endurance, a camp that is set up by a well established group – and the question becomes, is Three there?  What power does Three have, and will anyone be able to help keep Ember and Chase safe given that they are being acused of so much and are being hunted since a picture has surfaced of them from the hospital in Chicago.

This story takes us on a roller coaster of emotions and fear.  They are running constantly, from the MM, from other soldiers, and trying to find those that they can trust in order to hide them and keep them safe.  They get injured to the point of being on the brink of death, some don’t even make it.

What’s really nice about this finale is that it’s realistic.  You get the nice twist at the end about where the story stems from and where it’s going.  You see that there’s more to some of the folks that seem quite hard, and you want to hope for the best, knowing that it’s war and that won’t happen.  We see Ember come into her own, at the beginning of the series she was just another teenager, trying to get by – missing her love (Chase) because he had been taken away by her uncle and then joined the army.  Because of the circumstances of her life, she’s forced to become someone strong, someone who can lead and someone who fights not only for her survival but for the hope of others.  All the while we get a really sweet love story – not just between Chase and Ember but with Sean and Rebecca.  It shows us that there’s still something good that comes out of War and that there should be something to hold onto even when things look bleak.

The epilogue was exactly what i needed for closure of this story.  so often i feel let down by authors of dystopia – they seem to feel like keeping things a little open ended is what readers want, but i have to say, being finite about an ending – that’s something that i can appreciate, even if it’s not where i thought the story was going to take us.  Suffice it to say, there are a lot of tears at the end of this story – so i hope that you are prepared when you come to the close of this series.  Enjoy!

Review: Contributor (Contributor #1) by Nicole Ciacchella

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Title: Contributor
Author:  Nicole Ciacchella
Publisher/Year:  Sweenix Rising Books 1/2/14
Length: 233 Pages
Series: Contributor #1

Overview

Book 1 of the young adult/new adult post-apocalyptic and dystopian Contributor trilogy.

When the Great Famine threatened the existence of mankind, the Creators saved humanity. Humanity has been their loyal subject ever since.

This history has been ingrained in seventeen-year-old Dara Morrow since her first day of Creator-sponsored school. Grateful for the life-giving necessities her Creator provides, Dara is thrilled to be one of three students chosen for an elite, year-long apprenticeship program. Now is her chance to prove herself a devoted Contributor.

But Dara’s competition is ruthless and will stop at nothing to win the competition. Worse yet, her exacting master has little patience for her.

Then Dara’s mother is seriously injured, and Dara realizes the price of being a Contributor: once you’ve outlived your usefulness, you’re discarded. Can Dara learn to manipulate the system to save not only herself, but everyone she loves?

My Thoughts

I had this in my list to read on NetGalley for a few weeks, and I don’t know what took me so long to read it.  I’ve been in the market for a new Dystopian series, and this one was just what i needed.  I should say though that i was a bit nervous when i started it since the first seen was very reminiscent of the Matched Series – in the sense that we meet our female lead Dara just as she’s taking an evaluation that will determine what her job and role in life will be.

Anyhow, this story begins the journey for us with Dara who’s just finishing school and will be assigned to her role as a Contributor in society.  To back up a second, what we do know about what’s going on is limited, but this is it:  The environment outside in the world is unstable and dangerous so domes have been built to house humanity.  within the domes is a caste system of Ballasts and Cores, with the Ballasts being Contributors – those who are able to provide some value in society that’s needed.  Jobs that are technological, medical, or of those higher levels.  Cores or the service folks, blue collar workers if you need a comparison.  Dara is the top of her class and finds herself excelling in her evaluation and landing an apprenticeship for the head of Engineering, which is a blessing and something horrible all rolled together.  She’s assigned to Letizia who is a top engineer to be lead through her apprenticeship which turns out to be a competition of sorts between Dara and 2 other classmates to be the Head’s assistant.  Of course, we know that this means that they will do whatever is necessary to show that they are the best and are most deserving of the assistant role.

Along with meeting Dara, we meet her boyfriend Jonathan who is also at the top of his class, but in Logistics.  So they are a great match since they are both very skilled and don’t have to compete with one another.  Jon has a great heart and will do just about anything for Dara.

Where this story takes us in on a journey of growth and learning about the things that you’re never taught in school.  of course, it’s expected that there are things that Dara has been sheltered from – the understanding of what’s really going on and what the ‘government of sorts’…the Job Creators want everyone to know – so that they fall in line.

Through a series of unfortunate events, Dara begins to see that there’s more than what she knows.  She and Letizia are on a transport coming back from another dome and they crash.  this is the first thing that opens her eyes as she’s forced to see what’s going on outside the domes and she meets some friends of Letizia’s who are able to help her in that experience.

Dara also has to deal with the serious injury to her mother, she’s forced to choose between work and family at first in order to continue on in her studies, and then once that’s decided, she and her father are forced into a stressful situation in the care for her mom.

Where this story leaves us off is a turning point, we see successes for some of the cast, but we also see that things are changing and it’ll be interesting to see what those will be, who will be important, and what it means for survival.  Dara has decided to stand up against what she’s learned so far, and is taking on a role of leadership in a sense – she’s willing to compromise all that she knows that keeps her safe in order to make a change.  Who’s going to be harmed in the path we don’t know yet, but we can hope that her family and friends will be safe.  I wonder what role Jon will play in this as well.

I’m also curious if the Roots will come in handy.  In addition to the Ballasts and Cores that we talked about, there are the Roots that are the folks that have been cast out of the domes that are living outside in the elements.  A few folks that we’ve read about have been referenced to be out there, so i’m curious if we’ll come across them again.

The one thing that really frustrates me though is that we don’t get the back story on what happened to force everyone into domes.  we know that the environment and atmosphere outside isn’t stable enough for sustainable living.  But we don’t know what happened to make it like that.  we know that there were books talking out it that the free thinkers have, but again we don’t know what those books say.  Even if it’s not a huge importance, i’m curious.  It also put context to things that i enjoy.  In any event, i can’t wait to see where the story continues.

Review: Coming Home (The Surrender Trilogy #3) by Lydia Michaels

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Title: Coming Home
Author:  Lydia Michaels
Publisher/Year:  Penguin USA 1/21/14
Length: 300 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #3

Overview

The conclusion of the savage, sensual Surrender trilogy in which betrayal, pain, and vengeance threaten to destroy a passion between two damaged souls…

Evelyn “Scout” Keats thought she finally found her long-sought happiness in billionaire Lucian Patras. But even though Lucian has always treated her like a queen, she has discovered she is nothing more than a pawn in his own secret game.

Worse, her long-time friend and supposed shining knight, Parker Hughes has also used her for his own interests by playing a part in Lucian’s game. Everyone’s honor is suspect, and no one can be trusted. It is Scout’s worst nightmare come to life.

As she struggles to comprehend the cost of a broken heart and the value of love, she must choose, once and for all, how much her pride can endure—and how much she is willing to risk to be truly happy

My Thoughts

I have to say that i really enjoyed where this story went, and what i was expecting to be the case for some of the issues, actually wasn’t the case at all.  nicely done Ms. Michaels, Nicely done.

We re-join this ill working love triangle just as Evelyn has run away from both Parker and Lucien, after learning of the deal that was struck – making her in a sense a possession and breaking her trust.  From this point forward, Evelyn decides that she needs to be solely on her own, yet it’s not so easy.  while she has been able to put Parker in the back of her mind, her hatred for him being something that she can hold on to, she can’t quite let go of Lucien.  While she’s incredibly upset with him, she also loves him and isn’t able to move past it.

She has a plan though how she can forge a new path for herself.  not only does she have her job, but she wants to better herself, and this takes money.  She goes to Lucien to get a loan, hoping that he will be able to do that for her, without pulling her back in, but of course things aren’t so cut and dry.

We know that Lucien is barely surviving without her, and he’s more than ecstatic when she comes to him.  While he knows that it’s not going to be easy to get her back, he’s very persistent, and does what he can to keep some sort of attachment.

It’s only when Evenlyn is able to use the money that she got to get her own apartment that things turn worse to a point where Lucien really re-enters the picture.  On the 2nd night that she’s in her new place, she’s on her way home and crosses paths with some less than savory folks.  because of the ensuing fight, her information ends up in the papers, and Lucien finds her and isn’t very pleased.  He feels like he needs to protect her, and well, this is really the turning point for them.  It’s not all smooth sailing though from that point since she’s not ready to really let him back in.  it’s all at arms length.

One day while at work, she sees a tabloid with a picture of him and another woman and that sets her off.  She manages to attend the same function as him with another guy so that she can not only get a better sense of what’s going on with Lucien, but also to make him jealous.  it works.  This is the true turning point for things.  but never an easy task.

Just when things start to look up, rumors and information about Evenlyn is leaked to the press, Lucien feels he has to protect her even more, and the question becomes who’s behind it.  not only that, while Scout has the issue of her past haunting them, someone’s trying to mess with Lucien’s business and they have to sort out who that is.

So, as you can see, we have a very complex finale here, with a lot of passion in terms of love hate, love some more and hate some more.  Forgiveness among friends and family….perhaps, but maybe not….and then the concerns and questions for the future.

Lucien wants more than Evenlyn is still willing to give and it’s an underlying theme throughout on how much she’s going to give up, and what the sacrifice means.  There’s also a mystery of a secret that Evenlyn is keeping and that’s a bone of contention with Lucien.  there’s also the question of what will come of Pearl – whom we know is still in a rehab facility unhappily.  Will Lucien continue to pay, will she stay at rehab, will Evelyn and her form a better relationship?

There’s more role-playing in this final installment which is always entertaining, and quite a bit of passion as feelings are rekindled.  All in all, a nice conclusion.  I’m still surprised about some of the things that happened, and where the story took them, but overall, i think that it was nice…and the epilogue was sweet as well.  Not taking the story in the expected place  which is great, all the while, ending the story as it needed to be.

Review: Breaking Out (The Surrender Trilogy #2) by Lydia Michaels

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Title: Breaking Out
Author:  Lydia Michaels
Publisher/Year:  Penguin USA 11/19/13
Length: 300 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #2

Overview

Second in the darkly compelling, sexually-charged contemporary romance trilogy, in which two men vie for the mind, body, and heart of a woman who may never give in to their wishes—or her own…

Evelyn “Scout” Keats has left behind her painful past of surviving on the streets, and is now living in the luxurious penthouse master suite of Hotel Patras with her lover, billionaire Lucian Patras. But what she doesn’t know is the price Lucien paid for her freedom.

To protect Scout’s life, Lucian cut a deal with a dangerous man from her past, Parker Hughes. He swore to stay away from her for thirty days, even though he knows Parker will be fighting to keep them apart for good and take Scout as his own.

Yet neither man realizes that Scout is not about to be used as a prize or a bargaining chip for any man’s power play—and she falls back on her hard-earned self-respect and courage to show both men that the only person she truly needs is herself.

But Lucien has other plans…

My Thoughts

WOW!  so, i’m really enjoying this series so far in case you hadn’t noticed.  Not only is it steamy and romantic, you really have to wonder about the twists that are coming.  In the first installment, we meet Evelyn/Scout when she’s working as a maid at the prestigious Patras hotel when she encounters Lucien, the owner who makes her an offer she cannot refuse.  To be taken from homelessness and despair into a world of security with a roof over her head, clothes, food, and all just at the price of herself.  Being his company.  As we got to know this duo a bit more in book 1, we saw that there was much more there than just a deal, and this is what takes us into book 2.

There’s a fair bit of role playing that makes things really interesting at the onset – we see fantasies coming to life, and a sense of realism, it’s not all heated passion that we get, it’s adventure and romance and the thrill of things which kept me entertained.

In this 2nd installment, things definitely become more challenging for them, and Evenlyn isn’t sure what she’s able to give of herself because of the trust issues that she has from her mother.  This story takes us on the journey of Lucien trying to show Evenlyn how strong she is, but being patient with her in the skills that she wants to develop, all the while, allowing his love for her to grow and becoming vocal about it.  The issue here though is that while Evelyn appreciates that, she’s not able to tell him how she feels.  she shows it, but doesn’t say it, and it becomes a bit of a wall between them.

At the same time, Parker, Evelyn’s best friend from the streets comes back around and really wants to make a play for her affection.  His deal that he’s struck with Lucien (from back in book 1, as a reminder that in order for Parker to tell Lucien where Evelyn was, he had to give Parker a job and then give him a chance at wooing Evelyn).  Lucien was banking on that time not coming for quite some time, so that he can build the security that he has with Evelyn and convince her that there’s no one else for her.

As we saw in book 1, Parker and Slade cross paths and since we know there’s been a falling out with Lucien and Slade over Evelyn, it’s not surprising that Parker has been helped by Slade and is now able to take full advantage of the deal.

the question is – what will happen now right?

Lucien’s made a big gesture to Evelyn in the hopes that it’ll secure his place in her life and vice versa, it back fires a bit unexpectedly and Evelyn runs to Parker.  Lucien fears that his world is coming tumbling down now, ends up flying to Paris to see his father whom he has no relationship with because of his own indiscretions and all in all you have a huge mess.

Where we’re left off in book 2 is quite the edge of a cliff – we’re at a turning point where it’s a matter of pride, love and friendship that makes things the most complicated, and you have to wonder how paths are going to cross again.

Personally though, i’m most intrigued by what Slade’s doing and what his motivation is.  I wonder what the story is there and i have my inklings about it.  I’m also curious why Parker is the way that he is and what he plans to do with it.  We get his back story a bit more, but still…i’m left wondering.

I really enjoy though how Lucien’s character is written.  He’s not afraid to be emotional and show how he feels which we don’t often see.  We see him lose control of things, go into a tail spin but it all comes from a great place.  He has this sensuality that he shares with Evelyn that’s amazing.

I’ve just got my hands on book 3 the finale in the series and i can’t wait to see how they get to the end point, and hopefully my intuitions are correct on how things will pan out.  Enjoy!

Review: Falling In (The Surrender Trilogy #1) by Lydia Michaels

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Title: Falling In
Author:  Lydia Michaels
Publisher/Year:  Penguin USA 9/17/13
Length: 309 Pages
Series: The Surrender Trilogy #1

Overview

The debut of an emotionally charged and highly erotic contemporary romance trilogy, in which love and trust are the most dangerous games of all…

With a dark past that would have shattered most people, Evelyn “Scout” Keats is doing what no one in her bleak world thinks possible—getting off the streets and leaving her impoverished life behind. She’s a new maid at the luxurious Patras Hotel, and aims to keep her job no matter what. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to sacrifice her dignity, or let anyone into her heart. The risk of losing either is just too great.

When hotel tycoon Lucian Patras discovers Evelyn in a compromising position, he uses everything at his disposal to seduce her—a proposition that both surprises and frightens her.

Ignorant to her true circumstances, Lucian relentlessly pursues Scout as a prize to be won. But he is soon given an unforgettable lesson in love and sacrifice when he learns how far Scout has gone to gain her independence and discovers that there are some things money can never buy.

My Thoughts

Based on the premise of these characters, i got a bit of a sense of Maya Bank’s Fever Trilogy – since we first meet a girl who’s homeless and trying to make it honestly, while encountering her ‘boss’ in a sense.

We meet Scout / Evelyn when she’s rushing to make it to her new job – the high end Patras hotel where she’s a maid.  It’s there that her life changes forever.  It’s on the day that she fills in for another maid Bridget who usually works on the Penthouse level that she meets a man who’s staying/living there that things change.  She accidentally knocks papers off his desk just when he enters the room, and that’s where things go downhill.  He gets mad because he thinks she’s snooping and of course that’s not the case since she can’t read.  From there – the roller coaster ensues.

The man, Lucien Patras, owner of the hotel propositions Scout to do something that would make her life so different, yet take her out of her comfort zone.  He offers her a roof over her head in a room in the hotel, clothing and everything that she could want.  All for the trade off of her ‘company’ which of course means more than just being by his side at biz functions.  In Scout’s mind, there’s a trade-off of course because while she really wants the shelter and the goods that she can sell for money in the future when things end, she’s not ready to give herself to him given that she’s a virgin.

Some how, Lucien manages to convince her to agree, and their relationship grows and builds from there.  Scout does her best to keep her past a secret and Lucien begins to unravel her story.  They begin to grow together, which turns out to be not such a good thing for a few people.

Scout’s best friend is Parker, a boy that she met a few years back on the streets, and while she considers him to be her best friend, Lucien knows that Parker is in love with her.

The other guy – Slade is Lucien’s business partner and best friend.  He doesn’t take a liking to Scout and actually really dislikes her to the point that there’s a falling out, which of course is a foreshadowing.

What makes things more exciting though is that while this story could be a streamlined version of the usual – down on her luck girl meets rich guy, gets schooled in all things passionate and sexual….that’s not what we get here.  There’s a deal that Parker scores with Lucien in the hopes that he can make Scout his…and that complicates things .

I have to say though, that all in all, the writing of this story is nice.  i’ve been stuck in a rut lately where some authors don’t write the heated scenes in a way that makes me want to read more, but these were steamy scenes.   Even the instances where they hadn’t fully consummated their relationship, it was still hot and i really appreciate that.

I can’t wait to see where book 2 goes since the very end of this introduction story takes us to a ‘dark’ place.  It’ll be interesting for sure to see who’s going to fight for what, what tactics they’ll use, and where passions will net out.

ARC Review: Divergent Thinking by Leah Wilson

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Title: Divergent Thinking
Author:  Leah Wilson
Publisher/Year:  BenBella Books Inc 3/4/14
Length: 256 Pages

Overview

Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy (DivergentInsurgentAllegiant) has captured the hearts and thoughts of millions of readers. In Divergent Thinking, YA authors explore even more of Tris and Tobias’ world, including:

• What Divergent’s factions have in common with one of psychology’s most prominent personality models
• The biology of fear: where it comes from and how Tris and the other Dauntless are able to overcome it
• Full-page maps locating all five faction headquarters and other series landmarks in today’s Chicago, based on clues from the books
• Plus a whole lot more, from why we love identity shorthand like factions to Tris’ trouble with honesty to the importance of choice, family, and being brave

With a dozen smart, surprising, mind-expanding essays on all three books in the trilogy, Divergent Thinking provides a companion fit for even the most Erudite Divergent fan.

My Thoughts

I know what you’re thinking – i’ve actually seen the comments online so far as to why we need to have a book that dissects what we’ve all come to love, and apply it in ways that are far outside of the reasons for the series to begin with.  I have to say, while i like to be a skeptic, i pride myself in being a thinker, not a philosopher, but someone who likes to play devils advocate, who loves dystopia for some sick and twisted reason and likes to apply all that i’ve read into what is going on now and what i’m fearing for my kids in the future.

Divergent Thinking takes us outside of the fiction and applies quite a few bits of the story into theories and life situations that make you want to keep thinking.  We get various essays/thoughts/stories by YA authors that are applying things and making you think.

The introduction starts off really re-hashing what’s gone on in the series – picking out game changing moments and drawing comparisons into what we’ve seen throughout.  We get to think about what makes Divergence something to fear, we talk about what brings Allegiant closer to our society, drawing the link that we need and then think a bit more about where it ties back to life.

For example, the first segment is is by an author named Rosemary Clement-Moore where she’s talking about the faction system and how it’s really grounded in what we have in life right now, and what it means.  She has a section where she equates the meanings of the factions into elemental signs.  she dissects the idea of choosing your faction to even pick up lines of ‘what’s your sign’.  honestly, it’s not earth shattering insight here, but it makes you think.

There’s even a section called Choices can be made again by Maria V Snyder and her 16 year old daughter Jenna.  what’s interesting here is that they are drawing constant similarities between Tris and Jenna. ….and what life was like then and what it would be for Jenna now.  While i want to enjoy this section a lot, i feel like i’m forced to think about it too much like a ping pong.  not everything needs to be directly related.  but all in all, it’s interesting.

all in all, while not a dystopian novel, it makes you think, and it brings things full circle.  Dystopia is just about post-apolcolypic stuff right?  where we are in the future?  so it’s based in the ‘now’ or what will be the past – so it’s nice to think about it from time to time.

Review: He Claims Me (The Seen Trilogy #3) by Cynthia Sax

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Title: He Claims Me
Author:  Cynthia Sax
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins 8/20/13
Length: 128 Pages
Series: The Seen Trilogy #3

Overview

A billionaire’s desires and a virgin’s wish to be claimed come together.

Two men want Anna Sampson. Gabriel Blaine is powerful, intelligent, the CEO of a successful company, and a billionaire. He’s watched her, touched her, encouraged her to become a strong, independent woman, a woman unafraid of her desires.

Now secrets from the past are exposed, threatening Anna’s freedom and safety. Will the man she loves stand by her side, or will he desert her, leaving Anna once again to face the future alone?

My Thoughts

well, it’s about time that we got some of that expected anxiety and stress int he series.  The hard thing here is that while this is a trilogy (meaning there are actually 2 books) i feel like it was a trilogy of novellas.  not a bad thing since sometimes you just want a quick read – but i think that it could almost be just 1 long story.  In any event, this final installment in the series took us where this genre is expected to go, and into such a nice place.

We are reunited with Anna and Blaine – when they haven’t taken their physical relationship quite where it needs to go yet, but they’ve solidified their emotional bond.  Anna is still working for Blaine at night while working at the charity during the day.  having a tough time not only managing to get donors (which is the only way to keep her job) but to avoid hurting Michael (her sorta boss).  He’s in love with her and she clearly doesn’t return the feelings, but it’s hard for her to let him down since she’s not a mean person.

What i really enjoy about this final book is that we get some depth.  it’s not just only about the relationship between the 2 but we get to see more into the world of Blaine Technologies in the sense that Blaine does work, and that things don’t always come easy to him.  We see Anna feel the need to stand up for him and protect him.

We also see Anna’s family history come up and bite her a bit.  She’s put into a situation where she was hoping she’d never find herself, and the question is what stigma will it put on her and what will it mean for her and Blaine.

Throughout this book though is the question of when/where will Anna lose her ‘innocence’.  right?  I mean, we know that she’s inexperienced and that Blaine is trying to be respectful and take things slow.  How long will he wait and what will it mean for Anna who’s had this control over herself for so long?

I really enjoyed where this story took us.  While none of it was unexpected, it was sweet and nicely done.  The only read downfall is something that i’ve seen in the last 2 installments.  There’s some writing nuances that i really dislike. there are words/phrases/descriptions that are really off putting. they seem very juvenile and somewhat ‘high school’ and kind of detract from the flow of the story.  It’s how Anna describes some of the things that she does with Blaine.  it makes me cringe.  At least i’m able to look past that and get on with the story since there’s a nice plot line going on.  Enjoy!

ARC Review: His Secrets (Inside Out #3.1) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Title: His Secrets
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Gallery Books 2/24/14
Length: 60 Pages
Series: Inside Out #3.1

Overview

In this dark and sensual e-novella, which ties into Lisa Renee Jones’s bestselling Inside Out series, Chris’s dark point of view comes to light as he tries to win—then hold onto—Sara’s heart.

In a world where my only escape has been my art, Sara has been the light in my darkness. And there is darkness, the kind of inky black that can bleed from my life into hers.

She doesn’t see it. She doesn’t understand what I’ve shown her. And my biggest fear is that soon…she will.

My Thoughts

We knew that Chris had his demons, but i guess the question that we were left with was whether he would ever admit them to Sara and if they would be able to move past it.  In this novella, we learn that while he doesn’t have the intention to share that stuff with her, he has no choice. Of course you know how these stories work, just when things seem like they may calm down on one aspect of their lives, something pops up.

When we last left this couple, they were in Paris, Sara’s being investigated for all sorts of stuff, her passport’s been stolen and some how they’ve managed to get it back, they are still tracking Ella and have an idea of where she is but not how to get to her, and well, with all that going on, at least they’ve found a way to be happy – Chris proposed, and Sara accepted.

So, this story takes us to the point when they are just about to return to the States so that Sara can deal with the legal nonsense and just hours before they are due to leave, Chris gets a phone call from Tristan that his past is haunting him again, Amber has gone to Isabel and that’s never a good thing.

Plans are put on hold, and Chris has to decide what he’s willing to do, if he’s been pushed to far, and if dealing with this will break him and Sara apart.

I think that we all know that Sara’s made of the good stuff – the strong stuff, so in my eyes, i wasn’t concerned, however i think that’s one of the nice things that Ms. Lisa Renee Jones does for us.  We are put into a position where we think that things are all good and safe, and then she throws us for a loop.  Sara does things and says things that i didn’t expect and their future is all up in the air.

While i really enjoyed this short and quick read, i’m always left wanting more.  I get the point of these novellas, to continue the story, perhaps from a different point of view, but i’m always left wanting and wishing that it was an even more complex story.  i guess we’ll have to wait – especially since the epilogue takes us to a GREAT place that excites me a bit.  I can’t wait to see where the line of questioning to Mark takes us.