Fangirl Book Club Pick of the Month: “Darkfever” by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever by Karen Marie MoningEvery month, our club votes on the book that we will read for that month. February’s winning book was Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning. The following review is based on a verbal discussion at February’s meeting.

Spoiler-­free Synopsis:

Darkfever is the first book in Karen Marie Moning’s bestselling Fever series. The series follows bubbly, spoiled MacKayla Lane from her idyllic home in Ashford, Georgia to Ireland as she searches for answers to her sister’s murder.

Mac’s perfect life was turned upside down after her sister Alina is killed while studying abroad. The police in Ireland have no leads and no suspects, which leaves Mac frustrated and grieving without hope of finding closure. The discovery of a voicemail, left by Alina moments before her death, spurs Mac into action. She travels to Ireland against her parents’ wishes, determined to do what the police can’t. Her investigation seems fruitless until a chance encounter in a bar leads her to uncover a gift that she didn’t know she had– she is a sidhe-seer. Mac is able to see into the world of the Fae. This rare power is more dangerous than she knows, for it allows her to see past the glamours that members of the Fae use to blend – and hunt – among humans. It’s likely what got her sister killed. With the reluctant help of the mysterious bookstore owner Jericho Barrons, who know much more than he admits, Mac is on the trail of Alina’s killer.

Fangirls’ Analysis:

February’s hostess chose this book for us to vote on because she “absolutely loved it” when she read it several years ago.

What We Liked:

Club members liked Mac’s stubbornness and determination, and the way the author showed her personal growth throughout the book. She goes from acting entitled and somewhat bratty to grieving and then to determined. We appreciated seeing the main character gain perspective and maturity in the face of tragedy and disappointment. This book focuses on the human aspects in a fantasy-based world, which was refreshing. Members also enjoyed the descriptions of the dark Fae and Mac’s encounters with various races, both dark and light.

What We Didn’t Like:

Some members found Mac to be too whiny in the beginning. It made it difficult for them to sympathize with her. She seemed to be perpetually stuck as a teenager, instead of a twenty-two year old woman. Mac also had a habit of giving the Fae silly names that made her seem flighty when things were getting serious.

Overall, we really liked the first book and many of us plan to continue the series.

Fangirls’ Recommend:

Fans of this series might also enjoy the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, The Hollows series by Kim Harrison,  The Others series by Anne Bishop, and books by Keri Arthur.

Fangirl Rating: 4/5 stars

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Sing For Me” by Gracie Madison

Sing for Me by Gracie MadisonA review by Maria.

I received a copy of Sing For Me from author Gracie Madison to review for her book blog tour. I would like to thank the author for allowing me to review her book.

Madeline is a Choir, one of the highest and most sacred sects of angels. She and her guardian, the demon-hunter Damascus, are hiding on earth among the mortals. Madeline is a soprano for a theatre group and spends her time amidst costume alterations and one terrible prima donna. Her voice is intense when she sings, has the power to shatter glass and can even kill. She is forbidden to use her voice at full potential and must tamper her emotions to keep herself under control. This includes all emotions, even love, which is forbidden to those of the Choir.

This book was very well written and thought out from the steps of the angel hierarchy down to the demons. I enjoyed the different take on angel/demon mythology. When one of Madeline’s human friends, Natalie, encounters her secret, readers are introduced to Madeline’s world at the same time.

Natalie is a lovable character and her banter with demon hunters Shiloh and Tyre totally steals the show. I loved these three characters and their exchanges. I couldn’t decide who I liked more with Natalie since she had great chemistry with both Shiloh, who was funny, and Tyre, who was the serious one. I can only hope these three get more time in the next book!

But not everything was fun and games. Madeline fled heaven because it wasn’t safe, but then she and Damascus discover something is hunting down and killing members of the Choir and all five characters must race to save her life. Further complicating things are Madeline’s feelings for Damascus.

I enjoyed the fact that it is forbidden for demon-hunters and a member of the Choir to be in love. It made the romance very star-crossed and entertaining. Also, knowing that they would be killed if they touched each other added another level of thrill and excitement to the romance, making Damascus and Madeline’s passion for each other extremely hot.

This book had a ton of action, romance, and comic relief and was full of surprises. I couldn’t put it down from start to finish and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

Rating: 4/5 stars.

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Madeline Noel fled war-torn Heaven to hide within the mortal world, but the blessing that could protect her from evil is the holy realm’s forbidden power.

As a talented soprano for the Eden Theatre Company, Madeline hides among prima donnas and tone-deaf flutists. Her perfect voice may entertain audiences, but a careless laugh may shatter glass, and her greatest scream can kill. To control her unrestrained voice, the angels forbid Madeline from embracing the emotions that strengthen her song. Anger. Fear.

Love.

The demon-hunter Damascus vows to defend Madeline from Hell’s relentless evil, but he cannot protect her from her own feelings. Though they deny their dangerous attraction, her guardian becomes her greatest temptation.

Surrendering to desire may awaken the gift suppressed within Madeline’s soul, and neither Heaven nor Hell will allow such absolute power to exist.

About the Author:

Author Gracie Madison

Gracie Madison would spend every day, all day writing…if it were socially acceptable.  Ever since she was a little girl scribbling with a crayon, Gracie’s dedicated herself to her books and all the supernatural and paranormal, creepy and beautiful stories and characters born within the pages. Now Gracie is committed to finally sharing those books with the world.  When the laptop is pried from her hands, Gracie is probably working her day job, rooting on the Steelers, or out with her husband searching for Pittsburgh’s best sushi.

Twitter: @authorgracie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gracie-Madison/1531494023761655

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23314885-sing-for-me

Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/7zCnv

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Spark Rising: Progenitor Saga #1” by Kate Corcino

Spark Rising by Kate CorcinoA review by Amanda.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, and I would like to thank author Kate Corcino for the opportunity to review Spark Rising.

This book begins two hundred years after a cataclysm rocked the world. Electricity went out all over the world and something called Dust seemed to be the cause, although no one really knew what Dust was. Citizens were moved to “temporary” relocation centers for their protection, the Council of Nine was formed, and everything changed.

Lena Gracey is a Spark; a human with the ability to communicate with Dust and manipulate electricity. Sparks are considered a valuable commodity to the Council, to be used for the betterment of mankind. Cities have grown from the original relocation centers and citizens are allowed electricity in rations, electricity that is provided by hard working Sparks. Children are tested at five years old for any Spark abilities and those who pass are sent to Council-run schools to be trained to serve the government. According to the men of the Council, powerful female Sparks do not exist – and they work hard to maintain that position. Girls who show the potential to be strong Sparks disappear under suspicious circumstances. Lena’s family fakes her death to protect her from this fate and she is raised in hiding. At fifteen, she is forced to run and fend for herself outside of the city walls. Nine years later, Lena is discovered by Alex Reyes, a double agent who wants to destroy the system from the inside.

Spark Rising intrigued me from the start. I am a fan of post-apocalyptic stories in general and this had a unique premise that kept me interested. Lena comes across as cynical and independent in the beginning, but subsequent emotional blows cause her to doubt herself and everything that she’s believed in. She doesn’t know who to trust and though she enjoys sex, she has a certain innocence when it comes to matters of the heart. At her core, Lena is lonely. It doesn’t diminish her strength but adds depth to her character. There is a love triangle in play, which is overdone, but the majority of focus stays on Lena, and her newfound mission to find out what happens to the girls taken by the Council. In addition to Lena, there are several well-rounded characters to adore. Alex plays a large role in recruiting Lena to the rebellion. He’s a serious man, older and sexy, dedicated to his work, and it is fun to see Lena bring out his softer side. Jackson is a soldier in the rebellion, closer to Lena’s age, with hopes of moving up in the ranks. He’s charming, adorable, and no less attractive for his youth.

My only issue with this book is that the pace of the story felt choppy in the beginning; the plot seemed rushed in places that caused some confusion and some spots dragged in longer than seemed necessary. The pace smoothed out eventually and the story found its groove. I am excited to continue this series!

Rating: 4/5 stars.

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All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.

Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.

Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.

Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.

The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.

Purchase:
Amazon: Here!
AUTHOR BIO:

Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. A recovering Dr. Pepper addict, she knows the only addiction worth feeding is the one that follows the “click-whooooosh” of a new story settling into her brain.

She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for publication of Ignition Point and Spark Rising , the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.

 

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire” by Rachael Stapleton

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire by Rachael StapletonA review by Danielle.

On the first anniversary of Sophia literally falling into Cullen’s life, everything seems perfect. She is celebrating one year of pure happiness with her soul mate, surrounded by his adoring and vast clan at a glamorous restaurant in Ireland, when Cullen suddenly proposes. As Cullen proceeds to place the ring on Sophia’s finger she recognizes with horror a piece of the cursed purple Delhi sapphire.  With no time to object to the ring and all of Cullen’s family happily expecting an answer, Sophia is suddenly transported back in time to the 1920’s, and a former life as her great aunt.

It soon becomes clear that NICO, the same cursed soul who has been chasing Sophia through history and past lives, has been reincarnated in this life as well. With only memories of stories passed down by her Grandmother, Sophia tries in vain to stop history from repeating itself. Unable to stop the massacre, Sophia is slammed back into the present with a new, deep understanding that she will never have peace unless she can break the curse before her enemy finds her in this life and kills her again, and a dream wedding to simultaneously plan.

With one clear suspicion about who Nico is in this life, Sophia tries to stay ahead of the game, to both stay alive and keep the purple Delhi sapphire away from Nico so he cannot use the dark magic the sapphire possesses. But when her lone suspect is murdered and the list of possibilities starts to include people she loves and trusts, Sophia is not sure where to turn or who to trust. Will she be able to stop the ruthless Nico this time or will her life be cut short again?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire; Rachael Stapleton does an excellent job of describing different periods of history in vivid detail. It was exciting to take a walk through two vastly different time periods through the main character’s perspective. Time travel can be very confusing in fiction, or even a little cheesy, but the symmetry of Sophia always being reincarnated as someone still in her family blood line is both beautiful and easy to follow. Cullen and his family being intertwined with Sophia’s past and present just felt perfect. Something about a love so strong it never dies but is instead passed down through the ages, defying logic and death, is so poetically beautiful it takes my breath away and I never get tired of a storyline like that.

Dark twists in the story line and suspicion of who Nico was this time around really surprised me and Rachael Stapleton is brilliant in leading the reader in one direction while discreetly foreshadowing who the killer truly is. I found the hints at sexually charged scenes without describing them in explicit detail to be a breath of fresh air. Gently teasing the reader instead of providing a full show truly set a sexy tone while still leaving plenty of room for imagination and interpretation.  I can’t wait to read the next book and see what is in store next for Sophie and Cullen.

 

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Just Pru” by Anne Pfeffer

Just Pru by Anne PfefferA review by Amanda.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author, Anne Pfeffer, for the opportunity to review Just Pru.

25 year old Pru Anderson has been raised to believe that she is incapable of functioning on her own. She lives with anxiety and depression, and with the help of her therapist, has moved away from her over-protective mother and domineering father for the first time. Two months into her new life, she’s barely left her apartment, her savings are almost gone, and she’s facing the horrible prospect of moving back home. Catastrophe strikes and propels Pru into an unfamiliar world.

Forced to interact with her neighbors after the building catches on fire, Pru is befriended by Ellen. Slightly older and ambitious, Ellen is a brilliant playwright and director. She takes Pru into her home and under her wing, introducing her to handsome, neurotic Adam and sexy, narcissistic Blake. When Pru proves to have incredible skill at managing difficult people, Ellen hires her as an assistant for her latest play. Suddenly, Pru has a job, friends, and a purpose for the first time in her life.

Just Pru is a cute, funny, poignant story. It was refreshing to meet a main character who defies the usual tropes. Pru is overweight and has very little self-esteem. She bases her interactions with other people on characters from TV shows and Lifetime Original movies and keeps a daily journal. Unlike other books with similar themes, Pru’s increasing sense of self-worth does not come from outside sources. She takes pride in accomplishments that might seem small to others and learns to trust her instincts. Her interactions with her parents are nicely balanced between horrifying and comedic. This could easily have become an overused Ugly Duckling story, where the plain girl is unaware of her appeal, gets a makeover and suddenly has men falling at her feet. Instead, when Pru’s clothes are destroyed in a fire, she borrows outfits from another neighbor and discovers that bigger women can dress fashionably, despite what her mother claims. Pru doesn’t have to lose weight or change her appearance on a fundamental level to feel good about herself.

This book was a simple, engaging story, with relatable characters and an emphasis on personal growth. Friendship takes precedent over romance, and readers will find themselves rooting for Pru to find happiness on her own terms.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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Welcome to my tour stop for Just Pru by Anne Pfeffer. This is a review tour and runs February 16-27th.  Just Pru releases March 2, 2015. Check out the tour page for more information.

About the Book:

JustPru_Lo res_11.20When twenty-five-year-old Pru Anderson—braless, pajama-clad, and clutching her cat, Chuck—is rescued from her burning Los Angeles apartment, the thing that scares her most is meeting the neighbors. New people make her hide in the bathroom, counting by sevens, but when her home is destroyed, she must turn strangers into friends …  or crawl back to the controlling parents she only recently escaped.

What would her idol, Pepper Hathaway, do? That’s a no brainer: the detective-slash-supermodel heroine from Pru’s favorite TV series would take no prisoners while looking fierce in a tankini and stilettos. So when the chance comes up to live with playwright Ellen, Pru sets aside her fears and goes for it.

Thus begin the adventures of a girl who’s never had a job, a friend, or a first kiss. Swept into Ellen’s whirlwind life, Pru begins to build her own, as director’s assistant for a new play, muse to brooding actor Blake, and possible love interest to adorably neurotic neighbor, Adam.

Only one thing can derail Pru’s exhilarating journey. Well, actually, it’s two things—and they’re in a car headed straight for LA to torpedo her life. When the past that nearly destroyed her comes calling, who will she be: a Prudence or a Pepper?

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout the Author:

Anne Pfeffer worked in finance and was a children’s rights attorney before she decided to follow her respective dreams of writing books and working in her pajamas. Since then, she has self-published the novels Any Other Night, The Wedding Cake Girl, and Girls Love Travis Walker, which was named one of IndieReader.com‘s Best Indie Books of 2013.
Anne loves her family, cool breezes, carbohydrates, and elastic waistbands. She lives in Santa Monica, California, with her dachshund, Taco. Learn about her latest projects at http://www.annepfeffer.com.
 
 
 
Giveaway:
Two (2) winners get a paperback set of Anne Pfeffer’s books, Any Other Night, Girls Love Travis Walker, The Wedding Cake Girl and Just Pru.
Open to US only
Ends March 4, 2015

Blurbs for the books in the giveaway:

Just Pru

When shy, anxious Pru loses her apartment in a building fire, she learns how to make friends and find love.

“….a laugh out loud, heartwarming story…. The eccentric characters are easy to fall in love with and to cheer for…” The Self Publishing Review

Girls Love Travis Walker

Despite his sexy charm and good looks, Travis must struggle to get the job and girl that he wants.

“This novel deserves every award it got… an incredible redemption story that’s both lighthearted and sincere…” http://www.talksupeblog.com


The Wedding Cake Girl

When expert scuba diver Alexandra wants to leave her island home for college, she must stand up to her difficult, demanding mother.

“A well written emotional plot with a lot of twists and turns that will keep you hooked from the beginning. Highly recommended for all YA genre fans…” http://www.coziecorner.blogspot.com

Any Other Night

After Ryan’s friend Michael dies with a secret, Ryan must take over Michael’s unfinished business.

“…. beautifully realized characters in a gripping, page-turning plot….This lively, fresh young-adult romance is Say Anything for a new generation…”

Reviewed as Loving Emily. www.kirkusreviews.com

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review: “Sublime Wreckage” by Charlene Zapata

Sublime Wreckage by Charlene ZapataA review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Charlene Zapata for giving me a copy of her novel Sublime Wreckage to review honestly.

Some books have the power of changing perspective and impacting the heart so profoundly. I read through Sublime Wreckage in a few hours without putting it down. It made me laugh, cheer, cringe, and sob uncontrollably.

Maggie can’t wait to escape her small town and tries to keep her grades up to help her make it out. She lost her father at a young age. Her mother is mentally unstable, abusive, manipulative, and controlling.  Maggie keeps everyone at arms-length, except for her best friend, Amanda. Having had her heart broken once she has no time to spare on romance, and remains focused on her goals. But then she meets reformed bad boy Vincent and suddenly all her careful walls start to break down.

Maggie took a few chapters to really grow on me as the main character. But once I had a good idea of Maggie’s abuse, she suddenly became a completely different person for me. Instead of driven and insecure, she became strong, smart, and very brave. Her goal was to get good grades and go to college out of town and escape her life. She had a bad experience with sex before and learned that her body was important to her and she wanted to be in love first. But fearing that she wouldn’t have time, she closed herself off from love.

Vincent was just absolutely a swoon-worthy hunk of a male character. Many things he said or did would just curl my toes -usually Maggie’s too! He managed to break down some of her walls, but Maggie was smart about it and insisted they only be friends. A beautiful friendship developed between the two of them which made for an even more romantic relationship further on. It was a very slow move to romance, but very well done. And at times very hot!

The abuse in this novel is gritty, gory, and hard-core in-your-face. Child abuse is an awful subject and it is portrayed in this novel very realistically. Zapata doesn’t sugar-coat it, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Many times the abuse scenes had me cringing, nauseous, or full out sobbing. But it made this novel real, and had a huge impact on me as a reader.

One character I absolutely adored and wished for more time with was the best friend, Amanda. This character went through a huge transformation, kind of in the background, and I’m really hoping she could eventually get her own series. Amanda was in a terrible spot being a friend to Maggie, but unable to help her.

The novel was a love story but at its core it is a story about a survivor; about a brave girl willing to overcome terrible obstacles. Maggie is a teenager, so it could be seen as a YA novel, but I would recommend that only mature teens should read it due to the content. It is absolutely worth the read.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Once Upon a Road Trip” by Angela Blount

Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountA review by Danielle.

Fresh out of high school, Angie, a headstrong, fiercely independent teen from Minnesota, struggles with self-discovery.  Not sure who she is, what she wants to do with her life, or what kind of person she wants to become, she decides to take a cross-country road trip in hopes of finding some clues that will point her in the direction of adulthood.

This story is set fourteen years ago, nine months after the twin towers fell, and before GPS, iPhones, Facebook and mass media communication, when the internet was just beginning to gather steam; back when being on the open road by yourself truly meant you were utterly alone, unless you happened upon a pay phone. Angie travels the country, staying with acquaintances she meets on a virtual writing forum. Dead set on finding some sort of understanding of the woman she wants to grow into one day and armed with nothing but road supplies, one can of mace, a knife and her unshaking faith and trust in God, Angie sets out on the journey of a lifetime. She is not even close to being ready for the struggles, lessons and unexpected joys she finds along the way.

Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela Blout starts out very slowly, taking it’s time to reveal the main theme and Angie’s character. Between Angie’s religious judgment and the tired description of a female protagonist who’s gorgeous but doesn’t know it, I struggled at first to really get into the book. None of her peers saw her beauty, but magically, when you introduce a slew of new male characters, they all fall deeply in love with her. I get it, women relate to those insecurities and general feelings of being overlooked for a lifetime, and thoroughly enjoy being able to project themselves into the main character for all those warm fuzzy feelings when that special guy finally does notice, but it’s overused and tiresome. That being said, there are a few dark and twisted moments I was not expecting that really add depth to the story and some important life lessons I think all women should be aware of.

The author does an excellent job of vividly describing both destinations and the overall collective atmosphere of this particular time in history. I recognized it easily having been a teenager myself when the terrorist attacks on 9/11 rocked our nation, but it was truly eye-opening to view it through an adult point of view. The ending, however, I felt was a bit lackluster. After such a strong opening about this story being about self-discovery, I don’t feel that Angie gained any real insight of herself. While she did learn an important lesson in accepting disappointment, the reader is still left feeling a bit let down. There is a second installment though and I will keep my fingers crossed for Angie as she learns to navigate the real world and her first love at the same time.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

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