Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: Rapture

Author: Lauren Kate
Series: Fallen #4
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Pages: 448
Source: The library
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: The sky is dark with wings....

Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.

Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this — live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies...and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.

And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her — and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters.

In the fight for Luce, who will win?

Rapture is the astonishing conclusion to the Fallen series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.

 LC's Take:

The epic conclusion to the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.  

And by epic, I mean the following:

1.) Totally ridiculous
2.) Painfully cliche
3.) LOL hilarious for all the wrong reasons
4.) Convoluted beyond all human reasoning
5.) Inexplicably addicting in a *slightly* unsettling yet delightful kind of way

Yep, it's been a looooooong time coming for this one guys. Fallen was the first book I ever read and reviewed on LC's Adventures in Libraryland so you might say I have a bit of a soft spot for it-- but that doesn't mean I won't respectfully rip it to shreds where needs be. 


OK, so let's just get right into it. Now, after three ranting reviews for the previous 3 books where I gripe at length about this series, a lot of you are probably wondering why the heck I even bothered with the last one. Well, my relationship with Fallen is complicated. I love it and hate it at the same time. The main characters are beyond aggravating, the dialogue is so cheesy you have to wonder what planet they're from where people actually talk like that, the romance is completely dysfunctional, and I lost track of the plot about 800 pages ago. 

So. My reasons for reading this book? 

A.) Figure out what the flying fig newton all of this has been leading up to 

B.) See if Luce becomes less of a brain-dead idiot and Daniel becomes less of an ass-hat, and 

C.) Find out if the entire series could be redeemed by some miracle in the last installment. 

~Brief Summary~

I'm going to try and not give away any spoilers for those of you who are just dying to read this series or haven't finished it yet, but here is the gist of things: Luce and Daniel have been falling in love, over and over again in every lifetime, for thousands of years. Daniel is a fallen angel and Luce is just a normal girl-- except for the fact that in every lifetime she ends up bursting into flames the minute Daniel and she kiss. Bummer, right? So in the last book, Luce went back in time through a bunch of her past lives to figure out why she and Daniel are cursed and try to fix things. Along the way, she met this little gargoyle named "Bill" who was shady as f*** and who turned out to be the devil in disguise [Note: This really wasn't that big of a surprise-- it was actually pretty predictable-- so I don't feel bad about giving that much away]. And now good ol' Lucifer has plans to basically wipe out the last 7,000 years of human history because Luce didn't destroy her soul at the end of Book 3. (Why does the Father-of-All-Evil have it out against Luce and Daniel? Beats the crap out of me-- none of this was explained until about the last half of the final book...) So, in Rapture,  Luce, Daniel, and their other angel friends have NINE DAYS to find out where the original Fall of angels took place when God threw them out of Heaven, effectively stopping Lucifer from carrying out his diabolical plans to destroy life as we know it. 

Confused yet? Join the club.

~Three Things I Liked (sort of)~

So first off, I have to say, there were aspects to Rapture that pleasantly surprised me; even impressed me in how well they were done--you know, compared to the craptastic first three books. So let's start off with the positives:

1.) The descriptive language was good. Like, really good. For all the ick I find in these books, I have to hand it to LK, she is pretty talented when it comes to providing readers with rich, vivid descriptions of the scenes playing out-- and Rapture more than any other book in this series is a testament to her ability to do this. Kudos on the scene-setting Lauren, it really was beautiful.

2.) There was FINALLY a sense of urgency in the plot that was completely missing from the last three books. Fallen, Torment, and Passion were not only painfully slow but they seemed to be going absolutely nowhere. By the end of the third book, I was so flipping confused I had a headache. But Rapture managed to capture my attention because it had a direction-- things happened and things were explained. Was it a water-tight plot? Not so much, but thank the Good Lord Almighty, there was at least action!

3.) I can't rave too much about this because it was only a slight improvement, but both Daniel and Luce were *marginally* more likable in this book than in any of the previous ones. What I could NOT stand about these books was the totally unbelievable and dysfunctional relationship between Luce, the desperately-clingy and dumb-as-a-rock female character, and Daniel, the chauvinistic jerk-wad who constantly belittles and pushes her around. This was ever-so-minutely improved in this book, BUT I still have plenty to say about how sucky the two of them are overall, so stay tuned.

OK so those are the good things about Rapture-- three things that resulted in my three-star rating. Now onto the fun part!

~Ten Things That Sucked~

So what didn't I like about Rapture? I've already elaborated at length about the many aspects of this series that made me want to knock my head against a wall-- repeatedly-- so I'll spare you and say that if you're really that interested, go check out my past three reviews. But more specific to this book and how the entire series wrapped up, here are my thoughts on the parts that seriously blew:

1.) According to this story, Luce and Daniel's love is the most epic, mind-blowing, knock-your-socks-off love ever to exist. The very beginning of good and evil all originated because of their love. The fate of Earth and all human history basically comes down to them. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY??? I still have no idea. WHY is the love between Luce and Daniel so stinking profound that everyone and everything hangs in the balance because of it, and legions of angels are willing to fight and die over it? There is absolutely NOTHING exceptional about either Luce or Daniel-- they are in fact pretty darned boring-- and their relationship is beyond mundane. In the entire length of this series, not ONCE have I found anything remotely grand or real about Luce and Daniel's "love." Not once did I go, "Aww they're so cute!" or "Shucks, I hope I find someone that dreamy someday." On the contrary, they're both hopelessly self-absorbed and their relationship is at the best of times awkward, bland and generic, and at the worst of times abusive, dysfunctional, and in dire need of Dr. Phil. 

2.) Luce was the same pathetically useless, boring, and wimpy lump of oatmeal that she has been throughout the whole series-- I could see where LK was trying for some character development in this last book where Luce finally gained a backbone-- but honestly it just didn't happen. There were parts in this book where Luce was so freaking pathetic that I wanted to slap her across the face and scream, "What is WRONG with you?!" Here are some examples that nearly sent me up in flames of rage:

SCENE #1: Luce and Daniel are going after one of the ancient relics they need to find out the location of the Fall from Heaven, and Luce has to swim under water to get to it because it's in a sunken cathedral. Well Daniel can't go into the cathedral because it's sacred ground and he's a fallen angel, so he stands guard outside of it to make sure Luce is OK. But THEN he swims away and just leaves her there. Sh-yeah!  LEAVES HER THERE UNDER WATER IN A FLIPPING CATHEDRAL TO DROWN. So Luce-- the girl Daniel supposedly would risk Heaven and Earth for-- nearly dies because Ass-hat Daniel abandons her. And when she makes it back up to the surface and tries to ask where the heck he went, this is how it goes down:

"What happened to you?" [Luce] cried. "I almost--"

"Luce," he [Daniel] warned. "shhh."
                                                                                                                                     ~p.91
Whoa, whoa, hold the phone. Are you freaking kidding me? The girl is trying to find out why her boyfriend almost let her drown and he's telling her to "shhhh"?!? 

I'm pretty sure that makes him the biggest butt-face known to man, but of course, Luce being Luce, she let's it slide and doesn't seem to be at all miffed by the fact that Daniel abandoned her underwater to fend for herself and almost die. No biggie right?

SCENE #2: Near the end of the book, Cam (who happens to be one of the only likable characters in this series) goes to talk to Luce and sort of smooth over their rocky past. All Luce can do is practically have a brain aneurysm because she's freaked that Daniel is going to see another guy talking to her. Heaven flipping forbid.
"She wanted to leave. What if Daniel looked over and saw her in this dim cave with Cam? They were arguing, but Daniel wouldn't be able to tell that from a distance. What did they look like, she and Cam?"                                                                                                      ~p.319
                                                                                                                                      
Now, let me make this clear-- there was nothing shady going on between Luce and Cam, this was a totally platonic conversation they're having-- and Luce is scared to death that her psycho-jealous angel bf is going to flip a crap if he sees her with Cam. There's something majorly wrong with this, no?  

SCENE #3: This was my favorite-- I was reading this and just wanted to set the book down and start a slow-clap for Luce after this:
"Now, tell me who you are." [Daniel speaking]

"Well... I'm Lucinda Price. I'm the girl you fell in love with."

Daniel's violet eyes filled with tears. He whispered: "More."

"Isn't that enough?"                                                                                                   ~p.327

Really Luce? Really? Isn't that enough? Why are you such a pathetic loser? How is it that after this entire time you still have about as much self-confidence and identity as a ball of lint? The fact is that up to the last few pages of this series, Lucinda Price is still absolutely nothing without a guy to fawn over, and she sees herself as having no value beyond what that guy thinks of her. It's just sad. And makes me want to wring her neck to be quite honest. "Isn't that enough..." GAWD!!

3.) While we're on the subject of how cray-cray Luce and Daniel's "relationship" is, another thing that really bothered me was the fact that there was absolutely no true feeling or passion between them. Nada. Which is nuts, considering that one of the books was titled "PASSION" and their love for each other is supposedly off the charts. But no-- the heat-factor was somewhere between tepid and 1950's-style frigid. There is one point where Luce is embarrassed to tears just standing in front of Daniel in her underwear. What the crap?! This is the guy you've been madly in love with over and over again for thousands of years, who you're willing to lose everything for, and very well might, you potentially have nine days left to be together-- and you don't do anything. I'm pretty sure that any normal human being with blood pumping through their veins in the same situation would be getting it on like bunny rabbits, but the only thing we get out of Luce and Daniel are a few totally lame kisses that were about as sexy as a lima bean casserole and dialogue that was so awkward, I felt embarrassed for them. Their relationship was completely artificial and I was not once convinced that they truly loved one another. End of story.

4.) There is pretty much no continuity in the writing, or the plot, or the characters. In anything. Seriously. Go back to Fallen where we started out in a reform school in rural Georgia, and I have no idea how we got from Point A to Point B. It's like they aren't even in the same series. Yes Luce and Daniel were slight improvements in this book, but they acted nothing like they have throughout the rest of the books. This makes me think that the author really had no idea where the story was going so she had to fudge everything as she went. Maybe that's a jerky thing of me to say, but that's just how it came across.

5.) LK killed off one of the only likable and semi-intelligent characters in the book. I won't say who, but dude really?! Couldn't you have killed off Luce instead lol.... just kidding. Kind of.  

6.) The ASPARTAME.... in diet soda..... was created by GOD..... and it has magical properties to HEAL ANGELS. 

I-- my God, I have no words. 

I swear I'm not making this up.

7.) When you get right down to it, the plot still made absolute ZERO sense. Lucifer, the Creator of Evil, is planning to re-create the Original Fall, so that he can effectively wipe out 7,000 years of human history, and it all boils down to the love between Luce and Daniel. OK, um... what?? How, why, and what the hell does this have to do with anything? I'm sorry but I. Just. Didn't. Get. It. I mean at times I thought I was catching on, but to be perfectly honest with you, I could not explain the course of action and how it unfolded or why it unfolded the way it did to save my life, probably because it was EFFING CONFUSING AS HELL. And nothing was ever clearly explained. The whole thing about a "key angel" tipping the scales between Heaven and Hell, the reasoning behind Luce and Daniel's "romance" and how it set everything in motion, just everything was so convoluted and off-the-wall nuts. I don't know, maybe I'm just a total idiot, so please, if you are a semi-intelligent person who actually understood what the hell was going on from Book 1 to Book 4, please leave me a point-by-point explanation in the comments-- I would greatly appreciate it.

8.) I cannot tell you how many times the other supporting characters talk about Luce as though she's freaking Daenerys Targaryen on steroids. And I, of course, just couldn't help but shake my head and laugh, because they're all like, "Oh Luce, you are such a strong person! So tough, so brave!" And I'm thinking, did you see Luce in the last three books? Are we talking about the same person?? Are you guys drunk? She's a total idiot! There is absolutely nothing about her that is strong or brave and if I ever came to be as pathetically attached to an a-hole boyfriend as she is, I would probably go jump off a cliff. Luce brave, yeah OK Lauren, nice try. It doesn't matter how many times you have your cast singing praises about Luce being Wonder Woman, you can't take a totally bland and unexceptional character who has "Mary Sue" written all over her and try to make her sound like a Mensa-acing Navy Seal just by having everyone else say that she is. Her actions were not smart or brave, just clueless and sad.

9.) The dialogue. Holy crap, it was painful. Like, I don't know how the book went through to publishing with some of this hockey dialogue. Cheesy is the understatement of the century, it was just that bad. Half the time the (teenage) characters talk like they're straight out of 1842 and the other half is soppy back-and-forths between Luce and Daniel that were so stinking awkward I was cringing. The villain dialogue was equally hilarious, and while it provided me with a few laughs, it did nothing for the rest of the story.

10.) OMG the ending. It was so unbelievable cheesy and sooooo lame and anticlimactic, I don't even know where to begin. But here was what I loved most about it-- remember how I said that the plot was insanely confusing and I had no idea how LK was going to wrap things up? Well get this, because I have to admit it was totally brilliant: GOD Himself comes onto the scene and yells, "ENOUGH!" and all major action stops, and then we get about 25 more pages to quietly explain away any other major complications. I swear to you, I am not making this up, THAT is how the whole series and all its conflicts and convoluted loose ends were neatly tied. Well played, LK, well played. That was quite the crafty move to wrap up this humdinger of a series.

So, final verdict? Well, believe it or not after all this ranting, it actually wasn't as bad as it could've been. I'm glad I finished the books and got to see where everything ended up, even though I still have no idea how or why anything happened the way it did. There were parts to this book and the series overall that were good, but in the end it just didn't deliver. Entertaining, yes. Good writing with good story and interesting characters, hell to the freaking no.

**Final note-- and THIS IS HIGHLY IMPORTANT!! Also, highly immature and inappropriate. You have been warned. I need to throw out a big thanks to SKB on Goodreads, who is a total girl genius, for her invaluable tip on reading these books-- and I'm going to pass her secret on to you guys so that you can enjoy them infinitely more as well, because it is flipping brilliant and I love you: Every time you read the word "wings" in this series, replace it with "balls."  I promise you, it will have you rolling on the ground in tears laughing. 

You're welcome :)

~Cover Talk~

I definitely love the final cover in this series. It's dark and ominous, but very beautiful at the same time. I love how the softness of Luce's dress stands out against the jagged rocks, and even though the colors are mainly gray and black, it still catches your eye. I think it also goes back to the super dramatic and Gothic cover of the first book-- Fallen's cover will still remain my absolute favorite.  I only wish I could take the actual story inside as seriously as I do these gorgeous book covers!

LC's Rating:
Photobucket
Its been a long and bumpy road with the Fallen series, but Rapture managed to pull it off and end things on a fairly positive note. Yes, there were nearly a dozen things that really annoyed me, but overall Rapture made for a good ending to an otherwise very confusing and frustrating series.

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Book Blog Design! Rotten Apple Reads


PhotobucketOH. MY. GOD. WHERE THE HECK HAVE I BEEN?!?!?

Yes, I am sure that a few of you have been wondering that :)

Well, a lot of crazy things have been going on in my life lately, and as much as I have wanted to keep up with reading, reviewing, blogging, and designing, and without going into all the gory details, it just hasn't been possible for the past couple of months. Bummer, I know.

BUT! Good news is-- I DO plan on getting back onto a semi-regular blogging schedule, complete with new reviews, new memes, new blog designs, and of course new V-LOGS too!! WooHoo! :D

...And today I wanted to kick things off with a brand new DESIGN that I have been hard at work on with a wonderful book blogger who goes by the name of Alice Belikova from Rotten Apple Reviews. So Alice has a really sweet book blog, and while she had a rotten apple theme going on to begin with, she really wanted to take things in a whole new direction-- with a Snow White theme!

So of course when I heard this, I rolled up my sleeves and was like, "YES!! Let's do this!!" Here are some of the things Alice really wanted in a blog makeover:

1.) It had to be light and fun, but also a little more soft and elegant than her current design.

2.) Sticking with the whole "rotten apple" theme, she wanted her version of Snow White to be shown right after biting into the poison apple, and there had to be books incorporated into the header as well (so that visitors could easily tell it was a book blog of course!)

3.) She wanted traditional Snow White colors of blue, red, and yellow but she wanted the color scheme to be softer and more muted-- basically a little easier on the eyes.

4.) Layout was very important! Rotten Apple Reviews had A LOT going on in the old layout, so new organization into a neat, easily readable format was key.

SO! With all that, I went to work on a brand new blog design for Rotten Apple Reviews-- starting with the header, I sketched out a version of Snow White and incorporated her into a "cut-out" type style. You may have seen how I do this in previous design posts, but here is a screenshot of me working on Alice's new header:


Alice also ordered a few extras, such as Custom Post Signature, Custom Rating System, and Basic Post Dividers. Here are the before and after pics of the Rotten Apple Reviews Makeover!!

~Before~


~After!~

As you can see, we really toned down the colors to make it softer and more elegant, and if you go to the live blog, you can see all the apple-themed details we added in. I am SO happy with how the design turned out, and the layout is now much easier to follow as well!




<-----  I REALLY hope you will stop on over to Alice's blog at Rotten Apple Reviews by clicking on the NEW DESIGN IMAGE ABOVE or by clicking on her blog link-- ESPECIALLY since she is having an awesome GIVEWAY in celebration of her new look!! Yep, Alice will be giving away ONE (1) SIGNED COPY of Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie! Sweet deal right?!






~Grab a Button!~ 

And while you're add it, be sure to grab one of Alice's new blog buttons as well for your collections-- find the grab code below!


*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Book Blog Design! Mostly YA Book Obsessed



Photobucket ...Aaaand it is DESIGN time again my lovely book bloggers! Despite being M.I.A. for the past few weeks, I have been trying to stay on top of my busy blog design schedule, and I am SO flipping excited to show you guys the latest completed design I did for Nereyda at her blog Mostly YA Book Obsessed!

Nereyda is actually the first person I've had who came to me just wanting a new custom header and grab button-- usually people want an entire blog makeover, but Nereyda had actually just had her site re-designed and only wanted to have a brand-new header/button combo to make her blog really stand out.

Well as you guys probably know by now, my specialty is creating custom-drawn, one-of-a-kind vector illustrations. I use these in all my custom graphic headers, buttons, and meme badges and they are ALL made to order, created exactly to your specifications :) Nereyda wanted to have a girl with pink hair as the focus of her blog header-- similar to the one she had been using in her Blogger profile (which unfortunately I don't have to show you) and then she also wanted her to be wearing a tiara and dress and there would be a stack of books somewhere too...

SO here is the final result of Nereyda's all-new header and grab button! I am SO so so incredibly happy with how it turned out, and am a **little** jealous that I can't have this be my blog header haha :D Let me know what you guys think in the comments below!

~Header~
 
~Grab Button~ 

What It Looks Like on Her Blog!


AND GUESS WHAT?! Nereyda is hosting an awesome GIVEAWAY on her blog right now in celebration of her new blog design! Be sure to stop on over by CLICKING HERE to enter! :)
*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! I'm a Book Shark

PhotobucketHello everyone!! So today I have an all-new MAKEOVER to show you guys-- one that was a long time in the making due to my crazy schedule and some technical difficulties, but nonetheless it still turned out pretty awesome! Today's blog design was done for Mickey from I'm a Book Shark...

So Mickey's old blog design was definitely cute, but she really wanted it to be updated and re-vamped. She loved the colors in her old design (teal and purple) and she also still liked the girl character in her header, but overall the whole thing just needed a little bit of love and some tweaks to make it fresh and new :) We both worked together on a design that had some similarities to her old one, but would still have a totally new and updated look for her site-- see the results of Mickey's Book Blog Makoever below!

Before**

**NOTE: Unfortunately, I totally forgot to take a screen shot of Mickey's old design before I installed the new one (**slaps forehead**), which I always do so that I can show you guys the before and after pics-- clearly the above picture isn't Mickey's actual site, but the template is the same as the one she had before, so you get the idea of what it looked like :)
After!


As you can see, we kept a lot of similar elements in Mickey's new design-- she really wanted her site to still be familiar and recognizable to her followers, so we didn't go too crazy with changing things. However, I did draw her a brand-new vector girl reading a book and listening to her music, and a stack of books that matched the design's color theme. I also wanted to sort of "lighten up" the whole look, so I added the lavender and white striped background. The finished look was similar enough to the old one that you can still tell it's Mickey's blog, but there are also plenty of fresh new updates as well!

I am super happy with how Mickey's makeover turned out! What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below, and also be sure to stop on over to I'm A Book Shark to say hey to Mickey and let her know what you think of the new design!

~Grab a Button!~

*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Update!

Hello everyone!

So, clearly I have sucked at blogging lately. Not that I was ever on a regular posting schedule to begin with, but I do try to post at least 3 times a week, with at least 1 book review in the mix as well. So I just wanted to write a brief update on why I have been M.I.A. for the past few weeks and to let you know that I haven't disappeared completely! Basically September is an extremely busy month for me at the library (for those who don't know, I'm a librarian) and I've been running around like crazy lately. It seems that at the end of each day, despite my best efforts, I look something like this:


Add in some fun personal drama, a weird but temporary living situation, job hunting, and well-- it just hasn't been very easy to post like I used to.

With that being said, I do plan on getting the ball rolling again with my blog, because I feel bad for slacking. I know it's a pretty big downer when you visit someone's blog and they haven't posted in nearly a month, so I'm going to try to get things going again as soon as the September crazies are over. I have a HUGE list of books I'm dying to start in on, and also two blog tours coming up in November. Plus I'm still working (sporadically) on my book blog designs, so I will have a few new makeovers to show soon as well.

Love all you guys and I hope to talk to you soon!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cover Reveal! Through These Wicked Nights

Hello to all my lovely readers! Today I am so excited to be giving you the cover reveal for the latest book out by my good friend and fellow blogger, Pixie Lynn Whitfield. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, be sure to find the link below!

Through These Wicked Nights is the second book in Pixie's action-packed Paranormal/Urban Fantasy trilogy called The Guardians of the Night. Back in April I featured the cover reveal for Darkness Comes This Way and I hope you will all add this exciting, fabulous debut series to your To-Be-Read lists! Check out the details below, and there is also a link to Goodreads :)

Author: Pixie Lynn Whitfield
Series: The Guardians of the Night #2
Expected Release Date: January 8, 2013

Summary: The world isn’t the same anymore. Not since humans discovered vampires are real. Zarah and her new team of Guardians barely escaped and are in hiding. What once was her job of protecting them, now she is stuck cowering away as a new threat emerges from the humans: Hunters. War is approaching. To add to her list of growing problems, a group of Fallen have been living in The Compound. Seth is one she can't seem to resist. He teaches her a lot about the side of her she's never known about until recently. Draven has grown cold and distant again since the battle with Nathanial, and she is left feeling conflicted. These are the least of her worries though. Something else is up. A video is discovered with a shocking revelation, and Zarah has a feeling things are about to go haywire.

Everything is crashing down around her. If she doesn't do something soon, they all will suffer the consequences. Even if it means destroying her beliefs and extinguishing what little compassion she has left.
~Find Pixie!~


About the Author: Pixie Lynn Whitfield uses three names because she likes to be a little extra spunky. Not really. Underneath it all, she’s just a little short geek who loves to always have a nose in a book or learning about history. She’s lived in Texas her entire life, and despite her fear of flying, is determined to visit Ireland one day because it’s where all of her ancestors are from. Her father taught her how to read at the age of four, and it was all over from there. She’d known from that first “I do not like green eggs and ham” line that all she wanted out of life was to be a writer one day too. And when he started telling her ghost stories and true legends about Vlad the Impaler, etc. when she was six, she fell in love with the paranormal.

Pixie writes YA--Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Dystopian, and some Horror. She used to write news articles, but never liked it much because she had no freedom to write to her heart’s desire.

Outside of writing and reading, she loves all things baseball and tennis, rock music/concerts, and blogging. She adores the book blogging community, having been a part of it herself for over a year now as well. Be sure to drop by her blog--she always enjoys making new friends and following others too!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Cold Fury

Author: T.M. Goeglein
Series: Cold Fury #1
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Pages: 313
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: Sara Jane Rispoli is a normal sixteen-year-old coping with school and a budding romance--until her parents and brother are kidnapped and she discovers her family is deeply embedded in the Chicago Outfit (aka the mob).

Now on the run from a masked assassin, rogue cops and her turncoat uncle, Sara Jane is chased and attacked at every turn, fighting back with cold fury as she searches for her family. It's a quest that takes her through concealed doors and forgotten speakeasies--a city hiding in plain sight. Though armed with a .45 and 96K in cash, an old tattered notebook might be her best defense--hidden in its pages the secret to "ultimate power." It's why she's being pursued, why her family was taken, and could be the key to saving all of their lives.

Action packed, with fresh, cinematic writing, Cold Fury is a riveting and imaginative adventure readers will devour.

LC's Take:

Cold Fury was a book that I was really interested in reading because it sounded pretty much like nothing I had ever read before-- and let's be honest, it isn't very often that you see the Mafia coming up as a genre in YA fiction! So I knew that I had to give this one a try, especially since it looked like it was going to be an action-packed thriller that would be keeping me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end...

Now, don't get me wrong-- I did enjoy reading this one. However, I can't say that it turned out to be *quite* the crazy adrenaline-rush that I had been hoping for. It was still a really great book, but I had some issues with it-- which is unfortunate, since Cold Fury did have many really good things going for it too.

First of all, I definitely liked Sara Jane as the main character. I thought she was a tough, kick-butt kind of character and she managed to have this great assertiveness about her without coming across as being cocky or overly aggressive. I loved that she was a boxer and knew how to fight but that she also had this whole girly thing going on too with her crush on Max. So points have to be given out to the main character in this book-- I thought she was strong, brave, and totally rocked.

Another thing about Cold Fury that I loved was that a lot of the writing was incredibly good-- case in point:

"The recesses of a troubled brain at rest are terrible places because they have no boundaries-- no backward or forward or beginning or end. They are timeless, bottomless pits where a sleeping soul goes to sort out its worries and woes...  The subconscious spins like an awful, haunted buzz saw. It turns faster and faster, ripping through the day's events, shredding forgotten memories, and slicing to bits all hope for the future."  p. 128-9

Some of the more reflective and descriptive writing in Cold Fury was amazing, and a lot of the action scenes were just as well done. T.M. Goeglein is one super-talented writer who stands out against many other YA authors I've read lately, so I have to gush a little about the awesome writing style in this book. The back of the cover described it as being "cinematic" and I absolutely have to agree-- you felt like you were right in the middle of a Mob movie during certain scenes!

So... when it comes down to it, my main issue with Cold Fury was the pacing-- it just did not work for me. The beginning was filled with lots of flashbacks and memories, then around page 100 some present-day action starts to take place, but then we're thrown a bunch of family history and super-lengthy explanations about the Mob, and it just really threw me off. I felt like things were all over the place-- we have Sara Jane on this hunt to find her family while being chased by this crazy Ski Mask guy, then there's a sub-plot going on at Sara's school with her crush Max and her outcast suicidal friend Doug, and then there's all of these flashbacks about boxing and backtracking to Sara's childhood... not to mention, the whole long-winded chapter explaining the Chicago Outfit-- AKA The Mafia-- and to be honest, some of it just seemed to drag a bit, pulling me away from the main action. So with the pacing, it seemed to start slow, then sped up, then it slows way down with tons of explanation, and then slams you back into the action again-- it just didn't flow very well in my opinion.

Cold Fury was one of those books that I have a hard time putting a rating on, because there were aspects to it that I really liked and others that fell flat for me. On one hand, I loved the main character, the writing was really great, and I thought that the plot that centered on a girl from a Mafia family was really unique. Unfortunately, I also felt like there was just way too much back-tracking, Mafia history, and explanations-- and not enough action. It's not that I didn't find these things interesting, but they majorly slowed the plot down to a crawl in some spots and made it really difficult for me to stay invested in what was going on. The ending was still really good, and I would say give this one a shot if you want a genre that's really different-- and even if you do like action, I think this series has great potential to step it up in the next book and get really good!

~Cover Talk~

This is SUCH a kick-ass cover, and I absolutely love how it looks like a movie poster. Once again though, and not to beat a dead horse, but the cover for me turned out to be slightly misleading, because I looked at it and figured this was going to be an all-out adrenaline-fest kind of story with tons of action and a super fast-paced plot. The story didn't quite live up to my expectations in the end, but the cinematic cover is still pretty awesome.

LC's Rating:
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The writing was really great and the main character was one tough chick-- I only wish that the pacing hadn't been so sporadic and the plot less choppy! I would have liked this one more if there had been more action and less explanation/back-tracking.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! Forever 17 Books

PhotobucketIt's MAKEOVER time at LC's Adventures again! I am really excited to show you guys the latest re-design that I did for Sara over at Forever 17 Books!

Sara got in touch with me awhile back wanting to have something done for her book blog-- up until now, she had just been using one of the generic Blogger template styles and she wanted to have something more unique that reflected her own style. She told me that she liked tigers, especially white Bengals, and her fave color was sky blue. We decided to create a design with a white Bengal tiger lounging on a stack of books, and have a color theme of icy blues and light grays. Since she didn't want anything too flashy or over the top, I kept everything pretty subdued and simple. So.... here are the results! Check out Sara's new Book Blog Makeover below!

Old Design...



New Design!


I am so happy with how Sara's new blog design turned out, because I know that it fits her personality and style so much better than the old Blogger template. Not to mention that tiger turned out better than I thought it was going to-- he looks so regal sitting on his stack of books haha! ;)

I hope you guys will take a minute to stop on over to Sara's blog at Forever 17 Books and let her know what you think of her new look-- and be sure to follow her as well! ;)

~Grab a Button!~


*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cover Reveal + Giveaway! Timeless by Michelle Madow


 OK everyone, today I am SO flipping excited to be participating in the cover reveal for a wonderful YA series by an absolutely lovely YA author-- her name is Michelle Madow and the series is the Transcend Time Saga. The third and final book in this saga is called Timeless, and will be released November 20 of this year...

Yay! So onto the cover reveal, which will be followed by a totally sweet giveaway, so be sure to check that out below as well-- and yes, it is International! :D
 
~Timeless Cover Reveal~

Author: Michelle Madow ♥ Series: Transcend Time Saga ♥ Publisher: Dreamscape ♥ Release Date: November 20, 2012

Now, I have actually not read any of the books in this series yet, but I am seriously dying to-- ever since I saw the cover for the first one, Remembrance. I just love how they all have that beautiful masquerade theme going on!

Have you started the Transcend Time Saga yet? If not, be sure to check out the first two books in this series below-- you can get the e-version of Remembrance for only $2.99 so be sure to add it to your TBR lists!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

And now time for...

~The Epic Giveaway!~

So in celebration of Timeless' cover reveal, Michelle is having an absolutely AMAZING giveaway--and also, it is International! Here is what Michelle will be giving away to one really lucky winner:


One (1) signed copy of Remembrance
One (1) signed copy of Vengeance
One (1) signed copy of Timeless (when it's released)
Three (3) signed Remembrance bookmarks
A gorgeous mask that looks like the one on the cover of Remembrance
A mention in the acknowledgements section of Timeless

Interested?? Just fill out the Rafflecopter Form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~About Michelle~

Michelle Madow was inspired to write Remembrance after seeing Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video while a junior at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. The song and video gave her the idea about a high school girl reincarnated from Regency Era, England. She handed in the first chapter as a homework assignment for class, and when her teacher and classmates wanted her to continue writing, she decided to go for it. By the end of the school year, her first novel was
completed!

Along with the Transcend Time Saga, Michelle Madow has written two other young adult novels, both which will be developed into series.

Michelle Madow graduated from the Park School of Baltimore in 2005, where she always took two English classes each semester. She graduated from Rollins College in 2010, cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English. At Rollins she was a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and a member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.

She received the Charles Hyde Pratt Award for Excellence in Creative Writing in 2010.

For more information on Michelle and her books, please visit www.michellemadow.com.

Michelle lives in Florida, where she is hard at work writing more novels for young adults. She is represented by literary agent Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency.

~Author Links~

BlogFacebookGoodreadsTwitterYouTube

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Reading Book Review: Darkness Before Dawn


LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I've read or plan on reading! :)
*****

Author: J.A. London
Series: Darkness Before Dawn #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Pages: 342
Read it in: 2 days
Source: ARC from the Publisher
Summary: Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what's left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it's up to me--as the newest delegate for humanity--to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it's safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.

LC's Take:

Darkness Before Dawn was SUCH a wonderful surprise for me. Honestly, I started out worried that this was going to be yet another cliche vampire story, but boy was I wrong-- with a Post-apocalyptic twist in a world where vampires rule over humans, this book surprised me in all the right ways, and I am really, really glad that I chose to give it a chance!

Dawn is the delegate of her city-- a job her parents held for many years until they were unexpectedly murdered. In a dark post-apocalyptic world, it is her job to represent all the people living within the walls of broken down Denver and make sure that the vampires lurking outside are kept happy with a steady supply of blood. Reporting to the lead vampire, Lord Valentine, Dawn must negotiate and be diplomatic enough to fight for the human race but also be careful not anger him. Keeping the peace between vampires and humans is a constant struggle, and it isn't until Dawn meets Victor that she learns not all vamps are blood-thirsty monsters. Only problem? Victor happens to be Lord Valentine's son...

So like I mentioned, Darkness Before Dawn was one of those books that I was a little "iffy" about at first-- and even in the first half of the book, I was sort of scared that it was taking a wrong turn into Been-There- Done-That territory-- but the last half of it totally blew me away and I ended up absolutely LOVING this book. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on the next one in the series!

So first, a word about the beginning and why I was worried about this book becoming super cliche-- first, we all know there are like a gazillion YA books about vampires. They are freaking everywhere. And even though this book claimed to have a fresh, new take on the vamp genre, I was a little skeptical, especially since right away there was the ever-dreaded, waaaaay over-played--


wait for it....


Love triangle!


Oh yes, we have a good ol' love triangle, and not only that, but it started out as THE most typical kind of triangle there is. Dawn is caught up in her feelings for Michael, the good-guy athletic boyfriend with blond hair and then she gets all tangled up with Victor, the darkly mysterious and seductive vampire whom she isn't sure she can trust. I KNOW. I can't even flipping count how many times this same kind of love triangle has been played out in YA books, BUT-- and here's a big but (haha I'm such a dork)-- I actually ended up liking this one. Yes, it was the Good Boy vs. Bad Boy love triangle, but you know what, I totally became wrapped up in it by the end of the book. (And I'm so Team Victor by the way-- hott, sexy, brooding vampire with a tragic past? Ummm yeeah.... sign me up for that please LOL :P )

So points are being awarded to the love triangle in Darkness Before Dawn-- which I almost never give, because love triangles typically annoy the holy bejeezus out of me, so this is a pretty big deal guys. Just sayin'.

Next awesome thing about this book? I absolutely loved how it mixed a Post-apocalyptic world with the whole vampire genre, it worked SO well and gave the story a very dark and eerie feel to it. Dawn's world is dark, dangerous, and provided the perfect backdrop for an awesome story.

I was also a big fan of Dawn Montgomery herself. As the main character, I liked that Dawn had a strong-willed personality and was slightly reckless. I also liked that she could stand on her own two feet and didn't spend the entire book mooning over which guy she liked more. I mean yes, there is some of that obviously, but it didn't overwhelm the rest of the story and get to be super annoying. So I loved Dawn and I would definitely read the next book because she was such a great character. 

The writing style itself was a little difficult to read at first because it seemed choppy, i.e. there were lots of small, broken up sentences that felt sort of clunky and made me stumble over a lot of it while I was reading. I would have liked it if the writing had flowed a bit better instead of being so broken up, but the fragmented style didn't kill the story for me in the least, and by the end I was dying to get into the next book-- mainly because the author did the most genius thing possible by introducing us to some awesome new characters (Victor's sister Faith for example? I loved her!) and giving only hints as to who they were, which was like dangling cake on a stick because now I cannot WAIT to read the sequel! Well played, J.A. London. Well played.

So all in all, Darkness Before Dawn was an awesome vampire book-- it had originality, good characters, and an intriguing storyline. The post-apocalyptic twist was pulled off really well, the love triangle wasn't too annoying and actually had me interested, and Dawn was a main character I'd want to follow into the next book. And with the ridiculous number of vamp books out there, I think that this one did a really awesome job at standing out on its own. So to all my paranormal fans out there-- be sure to add this one to your TBR lists right now!! :)

~Cover Talk~

OK, so I know that a lot of people might think that this cover is sort of generic and looks like a million other YA book covers but... GAH! I just LOVE it so much! It's just so elegantly dark and Gothic, and the first time I saw it I was just like **wow!** First off, that dress is absolutely to-die-for gorgeous, and I love the air of mystery surrounding the girl whose face is hidden, and the gloomy clouded sky in the background with the black birds just sets the tone for how dark the story is. The *only* thing-- and this is so dumb-- but it bothers me a little how the "R" in Darkness is backwards. I don't know why! Haha, but other than that I really adore this cover.

LC's Rating:
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LOVED IT.  With an action-packed plot and a cast of awesome characters, Darkness Before Dawn also had a Post-apocalyptic twist that was refreshingly original and kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!

Check it out!
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