Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Of Neptune by Anna BanksEmma and Galen have decided to get some much needed alone time by taking a road trip. Emma’s grandfather pushes them in the direction of a small town called Neptune, which turns out to be something completely unexpected. In Neptune, Syrena live in harmony with humans and Half-Breeds. Emma begins to realize that she may have another choice for her future and when a Half-Breed named Reed begins to pay her extra attention, Galen is worried that Emma may decide to stay in Neptune forever.

The first book in this series was really good–it was one of the first mermaid YA books I’ve read and it seemed really original and had a great plot. The second book fell pretty flat in my opinion and I nearly gave up on the series after that. However, because I feel compelled to always finish a series (the exception being Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, ugh), I decided that I had to read Of Neptune. I was hoping that it would revive the trilogy for me, but unfortunately it was more like the second book than the first.

The romance between Emma and Galen seemed to die after the first book. I felt like I had little interest in their love story anymore because there didn’t really even seem to be one. Their love story, along with much of the plot of this book, seemed contrived. Emma and Galen seem like they keep trying to force their relationship to be something it’s not, and by going on a road trip it seemed like they were trying to get everything back on track. However, when they find Neptune and realize they both have radically differing opinions on the small town, it just drags them further apart.

Emma and Galen are both extreme in their personalities–Emma is super trusting and so ridiculously naive that sometimes you just want to slap her, and Galen is super overprotective and sometimes channels Edward Cullen. So when they meet a Half-Breed named Reed who invites them back to their town, Galen automatically hates him just because he so much as glances at Emma, and Emma automatically trusts him and agrees to go with him with or without Galen, just because he is a Half-Breed like herself. The guy could still be a murdering psychopath! Who just runs off with someone they meet in the woods? So naturally, Reed creates a rift between Emma and Galen because he obviously has the hots for Emma, which annoys Galen. And what’s even more annoying is that Emma pretends to be unaware of it, and even when Reed is blatant about it she just shrugs it off and ignores it.

The bigger conflict in this book is that technically a town like Neptune where humans and Syrena live together and where Half-Breeds exist at all is illegal by Syrena rules, and since Galen is a Triton royal, he is under obligation to tell his brother, the king. The problem is that Emma loves the town and loves the idea of mermaids and humans living together, so Galen and Emma soon find themselves in the middle of a political struggle. This leads to the even bigger issue surrounding their relationship: they have no idea what they will do when they’re finally mated–will Galen live on land with Emma or will Emma live in the ocean with Galen?

Overall, Of Neptune was kind of a blah ending to the trilogy. Everything was basically wrapped up plot-wise, but much of the book felt contrived and Emma just got more annoying as the series progressed.

Of Neptune was released on May 13, 2014 and is the final book in The Syrena Legacy.

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BEA 2014

This past weekend I attended Book Expo America for the second time! I was so glad that I was able to make it because being eight months pregnant, I wasn’t sure it was in the cards this year. Fortunately, I’m having a really great pregnancy and not only was I able to attend BEA 2014, but I actually got some great exercise in from walking around NYC and the Javits Center!

DAY 1:

BEA 2014 Day 1For those of you who have never attended BEA, let me assure you that your first year can be very overwhelming. The temptation to just pick up every book you see is so great that you end up nearly breaking your back trying to carry everything home. This year, being 32 weeks preggers, I knew that I had to be much more selective about the books I picked up. So, being the super book nerd that I am, I made myself a detailed (and color coded) schedule of which author signings I wanted to go to most. I’m so glad I did this because while I didn’t bring home as many books as last year, every single book I brought home is something that I really want to read!

My first day I was lucky enough to get books signed by Lauren Oliver, Melissa de la Cruz, and Alexandra Adornetto. I’m really excited about Lauren Oliver’s book Rooms, because it is actually geared towards adults and is her first non-YA or middle grade book.

 

DAY 2:

BEA 2014 Day 2My second day at BEA was a huge success! I was able to get in line to get a bunch of great ARCs from Harper Collins, and I got an ARC of Heir of Fire signed by Sarah J. Maas herself! I had to wait on line for TWO HOURS for Heir of Fire, but it was totally worth it! My baby girl will be here at the end of July and Heir of Fire doesn’t come out until September so I knew I would never get to read it if I wasn’t able to get it at BEA. This one is next on my TBR list, so keep an eye out for my review soon!

 

 

 

 

DAY 3:

BEA 2014 Day 3My third and final day was CRAZY!! Last year at BEA on the final day they allowed consumers to come to the show as “Power Readers,” which was really cool because they got their own badges and were able to participate in the show even though they weren’t part of the book industry. This year, the people who run BEA changed the way they handled this and instead of having people come as “Power Readers,” they changed the last day to be BookCon. The problem with this was that they closed off only a small area of the Exhibit Hall and designated it as BookCon and people who only had tickets to BookCon were only allowed to stay in this area. The result? Thousands upon thousands of people concentrated in a small area, pushing and shoving each other like crazy. For a little pregnant lady like me, it was a bit scary. Also, my mom came with me on the final day and since she had a ticket to BookCon only, was not allowed to come into the rest of the Exhibit Hall with me and was not even allowed to go in the same entrance!

Even with the pandemonium that was BookCon, I still managed to have a great time on the final day. I stood in line for another almost two hours to get a copy of Sinner signed by Maggie Stiefvater (also worth it!) and was able to get a copy of Talon signed by Julie Kagawa as well. The amount of people at BookCon definitely made the lines super long–you literally had to get on line an hour and a half in advance for EVERYTHING–and the BEA only side of the Exhibit Hall was basically a ghost town, which I’m sure publishers on that side were kind of bummed about, but all in all I still had an amazing time and was so glad my mom was able to enjoy BookCon/BEA with me!

One of the best parts of BEA this year was that my amazing pen pal and fellow blogger, Lisa Parkin over at Read.Breathe.Relax., was able to join me! Lisa and I have been pen pals for about two years now and have actually managed to meet in person a few times, but this was the most time we have been able to spend together and I’m so glad we were able to! We had such a great time, even waiting two hours in line for Heir of Fire, and I’m so grateful we were able to share two days at BEA together this year!

Did any of you guys make it to BEA this year? Which Fall 2014 books are you most excited to read?

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On by Katie McGarryHaley Williams was a championship kickboxer until one night changed everything. Since then, she refuses to fight or train in her grandfather’s gym, even though it upsets the rest of her family. However, when she meets West Young, things begin to change. He accepts a mixed martial arts fight with her ex-boyfriend in her honor, and she is forced to either train him or watch him lose. West begins to form a new life for himself, one in which he isn’t just a Young, and he regrets the day when Haley will find out who he really is and where he comes from.

I’ve been a huge fan of this series since the very first book, and three books later Katie McGarry does not fail to disappoint! Haley is great character–she is super tough and able to defeat guys twice her size, but unfortunately she loses her will to fight after a tragic event. She also deals with her horrible living situation in the best way she can and continues to suffer in silence so that she can put the rest of her family first. Her family had to move in with her uncle’s family after her father lost his job, and her uncle constantly demeans her and orders her around. Instead of complaining about her situation she tries to do whatever she can to find her own way to pay for college and works part time after school to help her family with money.

West’s life is completely different–his family is the richest family in town. He has his own car, a huge mansion, and his own credit cards, all paid for by his parents. When he gets kicked out of school and his parent’s home and is forced to enroll in the local public school and live in his car, he realizes how much he takes for granted. For the first time, he is responsible for himself and has to get a job in order to pay for his own food and gas. Once he meets Haley and realizes how resilient she is even when faced with the problems she deals with every day, he is worried that she will never see who he really is if she knows where he comes from, so he hides the fact that he is a member of the Young family.

West gets involved when Haley’s ex-boyfriend’s brother causes trouble for her one night, and because he steps in he is challenged to an official fight in the ring. West agrees, both because he wants to defend Haley and he wants to prove that he isn’t weak, but he doesn’t realize this isn’t just a regular fistfight. He will be fighting against a trained mixed martial arts fighter and is entirely unprepared. Haley agrees to train West so that he can stand a chance in the ring, and tries to keep herself from falling for another fighter.

I loved Haley and West’s story! They are both struggling in their own way and are able to help each other get through a really rough time. Haley is such a strong fighter yet she has to learn how to stay strong where her uncle and her family are concerned. She also has to learn to accept help from others. West has to learn that proving himself doesn’t necessarily mean proving himself physically, and he has to realize that getting his father’s approval may not be as important as he thought. I also loved how we get to see characters from previous stories in this book–there are appearances by West’s sister Rachel and her boyfriend Isaiah, and their friend Abby as well.

Overall, Take Me On was a great romance about two great characters. I loved this story and I’m hoping that the next one will be about Abby!

Take Me On will be released on May 27, 2014 and is the fourth book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star by Alyssa B. SheinmelWendy Darling’s brothers Michael and John disappeared one day, and her parents have basically decided that they were killed in a surfing accident. Wendy doesn’t believe them and decides to go and look for them herself. What she finds is a hidden cove inhabited by runaways where the waves are always perfect and everyone is always surfing. She becomes torn between two of the runaways–Pete, who has his own band of runaways that he protects, and Jas, Pete’s nemesis and a drug dealer on the other side of the cove.

I was excited to read this because it was the first retelling of Peter Pan that I have come across. Unfortunately, it was also really disappointing. First of all, Wendy is the most blah main character ever. I felt absolutely no connection to her and she made the dumbest decisions and then wondered how she ended up in such bad situations. After months and months she just decides to go out looking for her brothers, who she still believes are alive. This didn’t make sense to me–if she was so sure that they were alive, why would she want to find them after they’ve put she and her parents through hell? Anyway, she goes out on her own and thinks for some reason she can do better than the entirety of the California law enforcement, and when she comes across the hidden cove called Kensington, things begin to get really bad.

She meets Pete, who is obviously the reinvented Peter Pan, and who is nothing like the original. He’s kind of a jerk who keeps secrets from Wendy yet for some reason after knowing her only a few hours can’t bear to have her leave. Wendy of course develops her own insta-love for Pete, even though they have basically no chemistry and barely know each other. Belle, who is obviously the reinvented Tinkerbell, was the only character who seemed to develop a bit throughout the book, but her character was still very cliche–the typical jealous ex-girlfriend who wants to make Wendy’s life miserable.

But it gets even worse: Wendy develops insta-love for another character–Jas, who is basically the Captain Hook of the story yet personality wise is a much better guy than Pete. Wendy goes from being head over heels for Pete to being head over heels for Jas so quick that it is obviously she has no idea what she really feels for anyone. The story then takes a twist near the end that I’m sure was supposed to wow the reader but basically made me angry because it was so ridiculous.

Overall, Second Star was a huge disappointment due to too much insta-love, underdeveloped characters, and a horrible ending.

Second Star will be released on May 13, 2014.

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepard“Sometimes you have to embrace the darkness to stop it.”

Juliet Moreau escaped her father’s island and returned to London. She is trying to rebuild her old life and forget about her father and the secrets she left behind on the island, but when people she knows begin to get murdered in an all too familiar way, she fears that the secrets have caught up with her after all.

The Madman’s Daughter was both creepy and amazing, so I was very excited to read this sequel, which is basically a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While this was definitely a great follow up to the first book, Juliet herself annoyed me a bit in this one.

People that have previously wronged Juliet begin to die, and they are killed the same way that the victims on the island were murdered. Juliet begins to think that Edward followed her back to England, and she is worried that the monster part of him has taken control. At the same time, Juliet is still pining over Montgomery, who admitted to caring for her but then stayed on the island rather than coming back to London with her.

It was Juliet’s back and forth between Edward and Montgomery that annoyed me in this book. I didn’t mind the love triangle in the first book because it was easy to see how Juliet could be torn between the two, but in this book it got to be a little bit too much. She literally bounces back and forth between the two and constantly feels guilty about it. Instead of just not involving herself with either man until she figures out what she really wants, she basically gets the best of both worlds for awhile at the expense of both of their feelings.

However, other than this problem, I really loved the rest of the book. Juliet is trying to solve these murders and at the same time is trying to figure out how to make a new serum to keep her condition from ruining her life. She basically sets up her own chemistry lab in a little room and tries over and over to replicate the serum that her father invented. I liked how she was able to throw herself back into her old life in society yet keep her independence by sneaking out at night to experiment.

I also loved seeing Edward’s constant conflict with the monster that lives within him. It’s easy to understand Juliet’s own inner conflict when it comes to Edward–on the outside he is a kind and respectful man who adores her, yet inside him lurks another being that enjoys killing and will stop at nothing to gain control. She is torn about what to do with him because she doesn’t want to hurt him, yet doesn’t want the Beast to hurt anyone else.

Overall, I enjoyed Her Dark Curiosity even though the love triangle bothered me a bit. I’m excited to see how this will all end in the final book.

Her Dark Curiosity was released on January 28, 2014 and is the second book in The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. The final book, A Cold Legacy is expected to be released in 2015.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiKestrel is the general’s daughter in an empire that is constantly seeking out new territories and enslaving those they conquer. As such, she can either join the military, or get married. However, neither option appeals to her. On instinct in the market one day, she bids on a defiant slave and ends up winning, bringing him home unexpectedly. What is even more unexpected is the way she begins to feel about this slave, Arin, who seems to have his own secrets.

This is one of my favorite books from this year so far! There are so many different elements to this story and the way the world is built in this book is phenomenal. Kestrel’s people took over the land that Arin’s people had long inhabited and turned his people into slaves. They actually took over their former homes and claimed them as their own. Since Arin’s people did not have a great military presence they were unable to fight back successfully, and those who were once nobles in their society were forced to become slaves just like the rest.

Kestrel seems to have much more of a moral compass than her father and the rest of the empire. She also is very strong, and not just because her father forced her to train with weapons since she was a child. Her intelligence and wit is what makes her strong, and she is able to out wit almost anyone, even when her life is at stake.

This story is told from both Arin and Kestrel’s perspective, and what this really serves to do is allow the reader to get a glimpse into the secrets Arin is keeping. Therefore, we learn what is really going on before Kestrel does, which makes the story even more interesting. This was definitely a smart narration choice because it kept me biting my nails wondering how Arin was going to reveal the truth to her. Arin himself is a very complex character–he is old enough to remember his previous life before slavery and he is educated enough that he can speak the language of Kestrel’s people, which gives him an advantage. Despite their obvious differences and conflicts, Arin and Kestrel begin to fall for each other, unfortunately at a very inconvenient time.

Overall, The Winner’s Curse was an exciting read that kept me on the edge of my seat. This was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year so far, and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

The Winner’s Curse was released on March 4, 2014 and is the first book in The Winner’s Trilogy.

The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross

The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady CrossMila has been spending the last few months with Jack Dandy, learning how to be a real girl and live in society. When he breaks her heart she runs away and joins the circus, determined to be independent. While Jack is trying to find her and bring her home, Griffin King is captured by Garibaldi and taken into the Aether. Finley, desperate to rescue him, temporarily dies in order to go into the Aether and bring him back.

I loved this book! It is the final installment in The Steampunk Chronicles, which is bittersweet because I’m really going to miss these characters. Everything finally gets wrapped up in this last book, and Griffin finally faces down Garibaldi for the last time.

My favorite thing about this book was that it was centered around my favorite character: Jack Dandy. I’ve loved Jack since the first book, mainly because of his complex character. There is much more to Jack than meets the eye, and he hides his true self behind the criminal persona he allows other people to see. In this book we finally find out why Jack is the way he is and we get a closer look at the real Jack Dandy.

Mila is another great character, and her interactions with Jack were great. She’s able to bring out Jack’s true self, and he allows himself to be vulnerable around her. She is incredibly strong and smart, and when she begins to fall for Jack he realizes he cannot allow that to happen because he believes that she deserves better. I really loved their story and the way Mila refused to let Jack treat her like a child.

Meanwhile, Finley is trying desperately to save Griffin from the Aether. Garibaldi imprisons and tortures Griffin, and Finley must temporarily die in order to enter the Aether to find him. The whole group bands together to try and defeat Garibaldi once and for all, and make sure that Griffin does not get killed in the process. In order to defeat Garibaldi, Griffin must face the magnitude of his ability, something he has been afraid of his whole life.

Overall, The Girl with the Windup Heart was a great final installment in The Steampunk Chronicles. I loved Jack and Mila’s story and the way the series ended, but I will miss these characters very much!

The Girl with the Windup Heart will be released on May 27, 2014.