Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lauren Reviews Brother by Ania Ahlborn

Brother by Ania Ahlborn
Published: September 2015 by Gallery Books
Source: eARC
Rating: 5 Stars

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place...

It comes as no surprise that I'm a die hard Ahlborn fan, but REALLY?!? She did it again. She has written another relentlessly appalling, yet magnetic book that I adored. 

The Morrow family is the stuff of an old school horror family - all the sadistic tendencies included. One day the baby boy of the family, Rebel, decided he wanted something... kind of like when a kid wants a pet. Except Rebel saw a boy outside. Michael was taken from his front yard at a young age and was raised as a Morrow.

The inner dynamics of the Morrow family are soul-crushing. I'm not talking about Lifetime movie qualities here - more like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family or one of those messed up stories you glanced at on your social media feed and you thought, "Wow. These things really happen?" That's how this book sucks you in. Just like reading that one sentence news line that catches your eye so you'll click on the link to read the full article. If this book had links, I'd have arthritis from so much clicking. 

This book has a story to tell and I  promise it is one you'll want to hear.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Top Ten Things We're Thankful For... That Actually Aren't Books

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This Week's Topic
TTT Freebie Week: Top Ten Things We're Thankful For... That Actually Aren't Books

Lauren's List

1 -- I'm thankful that my health is better than it has been. Long story short, I have a lot more medical issues than most 27 year olds and life is often a struggle. I have many doctor appointments in my future, but I am thankful that I am as healthy as I am now.

2 -- I'm thankful for my boyfriend. Not to start a pity party, but my childhood and love life could have definitely been easier. I have been dating a wonderful man for over two years now who treats me with respect, but also understands my need to be independent at times. I couldn't be happier that I met my soul mate this early in life.

3 -- I'm thankful for therapy. Yes... you read that correctly. There isn't as much as a stigma surrounding people who attend therapy anymore, but it still piques other's curiosity of why a person would need therapy. Therapy can help so many people with so many different issues, many of which people don't even realize they have. I am thankful that I have finally found a therapist who listens and who is concerned for my mental well being.

Daisy's List

4 -- I'm thankful for my friends, the ones I've had since high school, the ones I met in college, the ones I've only known since I started my residency and also my book club friends: I love that I can share anything with you guys and we can laugh together, cry together and have dance parties or parties where we're all wearing onesies. Basically, I just have so much love for my friends!

5 -- I'm thankful that I'm at a point in life where I get to take trips to beautiful places and then also get to come home after to our wonderful house that I'm also thankful for.

6 -- I'm thankful for my boyfriend, we've been together for 10 years now and just love him so much! He makes me a more social person and is the best at being a supportive, caring boyfriend and I love that even though he's not much of a reader, he will occasionally pick up a book I push at him. I just love him, dirty socks lying around and all.

Kimberly's List

7 -- I'm thankful for my family. They're the best sort of people you can ask for, they really are. We've had a few health scares this year, and it just makes me even more determined to spend as much time with them as I can. I also have some pretty amazing in-laws. I got really lucky there. I love them all, and have so much fun spending time with them. My nieces and nephews are the best kids ever. I mean it when I say my nieces and nephews are cuter, smarter and more fun than yours. Not that I'm biased. ;)

8 -- I'm thankful for my hubby. He's basically the best guy around. We've been married a year (November 14th!), and it's been a crazy and fun first year together. He puts up with all of my eccentricities, gave me a library, enjoys a night on the couch with Netflix as much as I do and even makes me spaghetti when I've had a bad day. (Let's face it. He cooks no matter what. Which is awesome, because he's a great cook.)

Jamie's List

I'm genuinely thankful for all the usual things I try to be grateful for daily -- health, my family, for a roof over my head, etc -- but really wanted to focus on 2 things I'm super thankful this year.

9 -- I'm thankful for new friends: This year I've put myself out there a lot more IRL and it has paid off a lot as I've met such a wonderful group of ladies. It's easy to let myself be jaded because of past things that have happened with certain friendships but I'm feeling very optimistic and I know I have a lot of friend love to give and it's been great to be able to feel free to be that person who is a good friend again -- not walking on eggshells like I used to. I'm always a work in progress and I've been trying to be better all around with new and old friends with things like keeping in contact and making the effort (things which I either got lazy with or didn't feel confident with anymore). I realize how OFF I've been not having a couple solid IRL friends and it's nice to FEEL like myself again.

10 -- My upcoming trip with my husband in 2016: Will and I are going to be heading to London (so excited to go back) and Madrid (my first and we are visiting good friends of ours) and I'm just so thankful we are able to make this trip happen. It's been a rough few years for us since 2006 -- my mom passing, his dad passing, me losing my job and dealing with lots of financial issues because of that and so many other things that have just been like HEY WTF LIFE?!  It's going to be so nice to just get away with him for 2 weeks and feel a bit more free -- we have felt like we've been in such a holding pattern because of so many things and I'm so happy we are just going for it. We love travel and it's just been so frustrating to not be able to do it super often like we want because of shitty job situations.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lauren Reviews Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Published: January 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: eARC
Rating: 4 Stars

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods - a powerful family in the colonies - and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them - whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

The plot of this book was made of gold and the author spun a web of treasure with it. Etta Spencer is thrown into a new way of life that she never could even imagine was possible. She is strong-willed and determined, but she still has the same emotions and reactions that any of us would have.

After literally being pushed into a different time period, Etta meets the handsome and smart Nicholas Carter. Nicholas has been saving up to buy his own ship and has done everything in his power to stay away from the family who used to own him as a slave.

These two characters take us on an amazing journey through different time periods and different countries. Each unique place was described perfectly for me to imagine without going overboard with details and information about the time period. I followed their journey right along with them. 

There is so much to tel, but such a journey needs to be walked by an individual and not just be told. There were many times I just had to put the book down to sleep. I truly believe everyone will love this book, not just young adults or science fiction readers. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Julia Reviews The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

Title/Author: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year Published: 2015 by Avon
How I got this book: I bought it from Half Price Books for my sister
Why I read this book: Last book in a series of four and I needed something to read on the plane. 
Rating: 3.5 stars

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can't be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family's infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She's the type of girl you don't notice until the second—or third—look, but there's something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she's the one.
Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can't quite believe it's all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can't help thinking that he's hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

Recently, Julia Quinn's books have been hit or miss for me. I love her humor and her characters, but the stories just seem a bit old and overdone. They are light and fluffy and that's about all. It was actually perfect for the plane ride back after a rough week at work. 

The thing that kept me reading this book was the Secret. What was it? Why couldn't I figure out what was going on with Sir Richard that was making him act so strange? I like that she kept his secret from the reader as well as from Iris. It took me a bit to figure it out, but once one piece of information fell into place, I figured it out.

The love story is sort of cute. I liked the time Iris and Richard spent together playing off each other the best. The characters are quite strong, even the secondary ones. I just miss the unpredictability.

Overall it's a nice story and a good end to the four Smythe-Smith books. I still read Julia Quinn, and I probably still will read her new books, but it is just not something I am flocking toward with any sort of urgency anymore. Ah well. Still worth the time it took to read it :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So


For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This week's topic:  Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So (taken from Jamie's post topic from Freebie week)

Jana's Picks:

1. “That's the thing about silences and futures; someone always comes along to fill them in. If you let them.” - Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

2.  “Don't feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.” - A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

3. “Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you.” - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Daisy's Picks:

4. “I was the DUFF. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn’t feel like the DUFF must not have friends. Every girls feels unattractive sometimes. Why had it taken me so long to figure that out? Why had I been stressing over that dumb word fors o long when it was so simple? I should be proud to be the DUFF. Proud to have great friends who, in their minds, were my DUFFs.” - The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

5. “Please excuse Jason from eternal damnation. He has had amnesia.” - The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

6. “He’s horrible.”
“But effective. Being angry at Kaz for being ruthless is like being angry at a stove for being hot.” - Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

7. “I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.” - Since You've Been Gone by Mogan Matson

Jamie's Picks 

 8. "Brave isn't something you are. It's something you do. " -- The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

9. "It was unrealistic to expect to be constantly in the happy place. In real life, you're lucky just to be always somewhere nearby it. " -- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

10. May we live impossibly,” Sebby said when he opened his eyes. “Against all odds. May people look at us and wonder how such jewels can sparkle in the sad desert of the world. May we live the impossible life.”  — Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa


Friday, November 13, 2015

Tahleen reviews: Audiobook of "Armada" by Ernest Cline

Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House Audio
Narrator: Wil Wheaton 

Rating: 3.5 stars 

When I found out that Ernest Cline was coming out with another book, and it was also going to be narrated by Wil Wheaton (like his first book, Ready Player One, was), I was super excited. So of course I put that on my TBR immediately. And I finally had the chance to listen to the sci-fi book a few weeks ago.

The basic plot is this: Zach Lightman, a typical 18-year-old, sees something out the window of his classroom that can't possibly be real: a fighter ship from the alien videogame he plays every night, Armada. Soon he finds out that this craft is all too real, and because he is one of the top-ranked players in the world, he is recruited into the Earth Defense Alliance as a pilot. What follows is your basic hostile alien story.

I was kind of disappointed in the book itself. It wasn't terribly original, and I thought characters could have been better developed, especially secondary characters. The ending was kind if interesting, and it makes me wonder if Cline has a sequel in the works. Cline really likes the deus ex machina in his stuff; everything isn't happy by a long shot, but there were a lot of convenient things that happen. It was still fun though. I enjoyed all of the references to different pop culture alien stories, and Cline writes with a lot of humor, which Wheaton delivers extremely well.

As always, Wheaton's narration is on point. I loved listening to him tell me this story, even if the actual story wasn't my favorite. Plus he does voices, like Yoda, so bonus.

Disclaimer: I got this audiobook using my free trail for

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lauren Reviews The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melissa Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melissa Salisbury
Published: February 2015 by Scholastic Press 
Source: eARC
Rating: 3 Stars

I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is. 
Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told... 

Twylla is the appointed reincarnation of the Daunen Embodied, who is the goddess worshipped in the kingdom of Lormere. This goddess is feared for many reasons. The queen of the kingdom chose Twylla (or recognized her) as the reincarnation of the goddess because legend says the Daunen Embodied will have fiery red hair and will sing beautifully. 

Twylla lives her life inside the castle walls, feared by all the servants and guards. Her skin is poison. With a simple touch, she can kill a full grown man. Such as, she is tasked with doling out punishment to all traitors, for which the consequence is death. Twylla despises killing, but she knows this is her calling and that it must be done. Then one day her childhood friend is sentenced to die. Twylla does her job once again, but she is a child no more. 

The queen is fierce and violent. She really just needs a swift slap to the face, but this book is not set in my time period unfortunately. The queen is the kind of person that you don't even look at for fear she'll take your expression the wrong way and have you killed. The prince, whom Twylla is betrothed to, travelled for most of his younger years only to come back to witness the corruption his mother has bestowed. He glimpses Twylla's distaste for the kingdom's queen and for the death penalties she is forced to perform. Twylla's long-time guard becomes ill and is replaced by Lief, an expert swordsman from a different kingdom, where their society and politics are quite different. Twylla slowly warms up to her new guard and actually has conversations with him, which is something unheard of in the castle. Lief causes Twylla to take a step back and look around her... to see the things she should have noticed before. Twylla and Lief eventually become romantically involved, but its not so annoying as it is at least not insta-love. 

This book was definitely an interesting read. The fantasy element wasn't as prominent as I thought it would be, but that was made up for with the folklore. The author basically conjured up a new religion so... kudos.

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