Thoughts for Thursday (5): Halloween Edition - Our Fear Landscapes!

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

Our Fear Landscapes.

Inspired by the Divergent series (which we still like because we haven’t yet read Allegiant), we chose to celebrate this Halloween with our readers by giving you all a glimpse into what our fear landscapes would likely be. Now, we are limiting ourselves to three fears each, otherwise this post would be endless because Nicole is afraid of everything. And we are going to be honest, but try to also keep it light so as not to be depressing. Feel free to share with us your own fear landscape in the comments below!
1. My biggest fear is losing my grandmother. Next to my mother, she is easily the most important person in my life seeing as she practically raised me and is the best woman in the world (by popular opinion). This is also a very real fear for me because she is 84 and it is inevitable. That being said, if I had to face my fears, I know one of them would be losing her and I expect my challenge would be to not completely fall apart. Alright, on to less depressing things…

2. I am terribly afraid of spiders, among other creepy crawly things. Like so afraid, that any time I see one, no matter the size, I scream bloody murder and suddenly have super human speed as I move myself as far away from hideous beast as possible. Considering I live in the woods, this happens more than I care to admit. I have also given my friends and family heart attacks on several occasions. So I can only imagine that to face this fear I would probably be attacked by hundreds of unnaturally large spiders (think Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) *shudders* and would have to calm myself down. This would be more than impossible to do but in all likelihood I probably wouldn’t make it past the first fear, so it doesn’t matter much.

3. Lastly, I am afraid of being tortured. I’m not afraid of dying or even experiencing pain in the traditional sense but rather having pain inflicted upon my person in imaginative and horrifying ways. I can thank all of the horror movies I’ve watched as a kid for this one and my addiction to Criminal Minds for feeding it every Wednesday at 9pm EST on CBS (I blame Shemar Moore and Matthew Gray Gubler for making me tune in every week). I don’t even want to think about how this fear would manifest. Put me in any horror movie with a gruesome prolonged death and that’ll do it.

Why did I think this was a good idea for a post again? Cue the nightmares.
1. It is going to sound crazy but one of my biggest fears is throw up. Both throwing up and being around it. The whole concept creeps me out. It is not just a dislike it is a run away or have a panic attack kinda fear.  So in my fear landscape I would probably have to either get sick or remain calm with people getting sick around me..... **shudders**

2. One of my other fears is being asleep and having someone break into my house or having someone hiding in my house until I go to sleep and then sneaking out and robbing me or worse.  Every time I am in bed and hear a weird noise I jump a bit.  Though I am not quite sure how that would manifest in a fear landscape besides having to overcome the robber.

3. My third fear that would probably manifest would probably be being chased by bad guys or being wrongly accused.  Some how getting framed for something and being chased by police or bad guys.  Again I am not sure how it would manifest exactly - maybe me being chased then having to surrender.

What do you think would appear in your fear landscape?

REVIEW: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Series: Between#1
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: August 15th 2013
Pages: Hardcover, 360 pages
Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

I have been struggling with this review; it is a hard book to summarize and review because it was a different and unique book.  Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a dark gothic love story with mysterious main character and a creepy old town setting.  Basically a great Halloween read :)

Violet White and her brother are living in their recently passed away grandmother's house while their artist parents are off traveling the world, so they are essentially on their own.  Violet decides to rent the guest house to the new dark haired mysterious and intriguing young River.  Right off the back Violet can tell something is different about him.  River can set her on edge and gives off an overall sense of unease while on the flip side when they touch she is just absorbed right into him and his charm.

My biggest issue with the book is the ending, I was so intrigued and in a state of suspense the whole story until the end.  There was so much build up but not enough resolve.  The book is supposed to be a series so I suppose that could explain it but I wanted to know more about the River's family traits and needed more out of the love story.  Don't get me wrong I did like River, he was dark and kind of evil and that made him all the more intriguing but the roller coaster love hate between him and Violet started to get old.  I do hope that the love story stabilizes more in the following book.

I do not normally comment on the writing style yet I feel compelled to mention how well the story was written.  Tucholke's words drew me in immediately and just kept me enraptured in the eerie old town's drama and devilish happenings.  The overall mood of the story is actually perfectly captured in the cover, the old script writing gives off a haunting vibe, with the red devil lettering covering the powerful ocean and the romantic cliff side.  

Overall, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was 3.5 stars, after thinking on it some I felt the ending could have been stronger, the supernatural aspects were unique but needed more development, and the love story was quite a roller coaster.  That being said the story blends gothic horror with romance to make a one-of-a-kind captivating story.


Top Ten Scariest Looking Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is "Top Ten Scariest Looking Book Covers".

We don't read very many scary books so we expanded the scope to include creepy book covers too.

What are your top ten?

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Never Fade
Series: The Darkest Minds #2
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Pages: 512, Hardcover
Source: ARC obtained at BEA

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?


My thoughts on this book are a bit contradictory. At 500+ pages, I think this book is unnecessarily long. However, I never got bored with the story. In fact, I think I might have liked this book more than the first. But I guess I feel that, although I was entertained, the plot didn't progress as well as it should have, especially for such a high page count. 

This is through and through a road trip book. Ruby and gang do not stay in one place for very long. But unlike the middle of The Darkest Minds, I do think Bracken fills the pages better this time around. Unfortunately it still reads very much like a middle book in terms of plot development. Aside from the very beginning and very end, when we get some answers, the events that take place are probably inconsequential to the overall plot.

However, I do think Never Fade had great character development, which is probably where most of the focus goes to. This is most noticeable in Ruby's character. Ruby's learned a lot about her powers and by the end of the book she can control them very well. But the more she uses her powers, the more conflicted she becomes over the person she's turning into. There is also the return of some old characters but with an entirely new dynamic which leads to some very interesting encounters. I liked where Bracken took things for the most part. And we also meet a few new secondary characters. Most noteworthy is Vida, who requires a certain level of patience on our part not to want to slap, repeatedly. But she could also be a breath of fresh air. 

One thing I must comment on is that I was really happy to see Ruby use her powers, for better or for worse. I really hate when an MC has powers and doesn't use them much, if at all (very common in YA). Where is the fun in that?

Oh, one more thing. I am not sure I agree that the ending was AMAZING. I mean it was good, but yeah.... 

So I think many fans of The Darkest Minds will enjoy Never Fade. If you tend to be more critical of writing, you might take greater offense to how the story progresses. But overall this is an entertaining book that I enjoyed reading. I think the premise is really interesting and I look forward to reading the next book. 


Stacking the Shelves (43) - Oct 26th

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

This is what's on my shelf for upcoming reads:

What books are stacking your shelves??


REVIEW: One (One Universe #1) by LeighAnn Kopans

Title: One
Series: One Universe #1
Author: LeighAnn Kopans
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: June 11th 2013
Pages: Paperback, 374 pages
Source: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:
When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

Never have I encountered such an emotional character.  I was about 1/4 of the way through the book and I started to notice how often the main character, Merrin cries.  ALL THE TIME.  I started to highlight how often she cries, I know I missed a couple in the beginning before I realized it was a trend but she cried at least 11 more times after I started counting.  
This made it very hard to enjoy the story.  I just found the main character to be a bit over the top with roller coaster emotions, one minute she is kissing her crush the next she is sprinting away in tears.  I just wanted to shake her and tell her to stop crying. The other characters were nothing special either.  
The development between the friendships and relationships was quite insta-love and insta-friendship.  Merrin was a bit hesitant actually noticing the instant friendships and relationship but that seem to be a quick fleeting thought.  It all felt quite forced which made the plot seem forced as well.  The supernatural aspects were mediocre; while the idea seemed to somewhat original it just lacked execution.

Overall, I could not give One more than 2 stars due to the over emotional main character, forced relationships, and average supernatural plot elements.  It felt like Alex Mack (the old TV show) gone wrong.  Unfortunately, I won't be picking up the next one unless I see some raving reviews. The super powers were not as awesome as I was hoping and crying teen drama is not for me.   Emma Stone portrays how I really left most of the book.


Thoughts for Thursday (4) - Oh, Lorde.

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

Oh, Lorde. 

I have pretty much been listening to Lorde's new album, Pure Heroine, on repeat. I think her songs are awesome so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with my fellow music enthusiasts.  I will try to limit myself to only a few.


White Teeth Teens

Swingin' Party

Tennis Court


Still Sane

Alright, I really want to keep going (I am obsessed) but I will stop myself. Some honorable mentions are A World Alone and Million Dollar Bills (very catchy). Enjoy!


DUAL REVIEW: Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #1 and #2) by Kerstin Gier

Title: Ruby Red
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Pages: 322, Hardcover
Source: Library, Audiobook

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Title: Sapphire Blue
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #2
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Pages: 362, Hardcover
Source: Library, Audiobook

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

I am combining these reviews because I have pretty much the same thing to say about both books, which is – I liked it but I wanted more.

Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue are the first two books in what I consider a charming series. Gwen is a very likeable MC. She is a bit of an underdog in the sense that the odds are somewhat against her. She hasn’t been raised for time traveling and only just discovered she has the gift when she was literally thrown into the past unexpectedly. Her cousin Charlotte was supposed to be the one to time travel, but now Gwen has to catch up fast because she has a job to do. Needless to say that Gwen is in a bit over her head. And she keeps getting accused of things she might do in the future because she is this wild card all of a sudden. But despite it all, Gwen has such a pleasant demeanor. She is fairly humorous as she fakes it until she makes it.

A time travel story is a fun and entertaining premise. As much of the story takes place in the past as it does in the present. And it’s interesting to see how time weaves together and how events that have already happened, in the same sense, have not yet happened because they might not have traveled back yet (did that make sense?) It’s a bit puzzling but in a good way. The plot itself involving other time travelers, secrets and prophecies, and opposing sides definitely adds suspense but it could have been better. Again, with this theme of wanting more. And as an aside, I really think the whole ghost thing should have stopped with James. A demonic gargoyle as a friend is a little harder for me to accept than a regular ol’ ghost.

But what I am most hung up on is that, when you isolate these two books, not a whole lot happens. This series suffers from the trilogy effect where book one and two are not really that strong alone and mainly serve to set up for a (hopefully) killer third book. The ending to each book was rather anticlimactic in my opinion. It could be just the books I’ve been reading lately but I finished each one thinking “That’s it?” And Sapphire Blue is largely romance focused and doesn’t progress the plot as much as I would have liked. Part of my luke-warm feelings probably have to do with the fact that I didn’t harbor any strong feelings for Gideon or this particular romance. I liked Gideon, I guess, but he could be a bit of a dunce. In general, I don't approve when a romance overshadows the rest of the story (unless I’m reading a romance novel, which this is not).

So that being said, am I glad I read these books? Sure. After all, I thoroughly enjoy time travel stories and this series has a lot of good qualities. And I do plan on reading Emerald Green at some point. (If it comes out on audio, that will happen sooner rather than later). But did either of these books knock my socks off? No, not really. So I’d recommend them for a good, fun, time travel read, but without a whole lot of conviction.

Top Ten Character Names We Love or Find Unusual

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is "Top Ten Character Names I Love or Top Ten Unusual Character Names".

1. Ronan in The Raven Boys (Love)
2. Blue in The Raven Boys (Unusual)
3. Rhine in Wither (Love)
4. Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars (Love& Unusual)
5. Lilia in Burn for Burn (Love)
6. Roar in Under the Never Sky (Unusual)
7. Penryn in AngelFall (Unusual)
8. Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Unusual)
9. America Singer in The Selection (Unusual)
10. Sophronia in Etiquette and Espionage (Unusual)

What are your top ten?

Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands #2) by Sarah Fine

Title: Fractured
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #2
Author: Sarah Fine
Publisher: Skyscape
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Pages: 357, Hardcover
Source: ARC obtained at BEA

In the week since Lela returned to Rhode Island as Captain of the Guard with Malachi as her second in command, local news has been dominated by chilling sightings of human-like creatures running on all fours. Lela knows there’s only one explanation: the Mazikin have arrived in the land of the living.

Needing to maintain the appearance of a normal life for her foster mother, her probation officer, and her classmates, Lela returns to Warwick High along with Malachi. At night they secretly hunt for the Mazikin nest. To assist, two new Guards from very different parts of the Shadowlands are assigned to Lela’s unit, including the bad boy Jim, who repeatedly challenges Lela's authority. Lela struggles to keep all her Guards on the right side of the law, but their mistakes come at a terrible cost.

As one painful revelation follows another and the Mazikin start targeting those closest to her, Lela finds herself more vulnerable than she’s ever been, wanting a future more than she ever has. With an enemy determined to separate soul from body, one question remains: how much is she willing to sacrifice to protect those she loves?


Recently I listed 5 of my favorite books that I wish more people would read. Sanctum was number one on that list. I loved Sanctum, and after reading Fractured, this is easily one of my new favorite series. Right up there with the likes of Throne of Glass. I actually think Sanctum was a stronger first book than Throne of Glass was. Yes, I said it. That should be reason enough for everyone to go pick up this book now. There is literally nothing I dislike about either the first or second book. I think they are that great.

Since it’s safe to assume that anyone reading this review hasn’t (yet) read Sanctum (I don’t understand why this series isn’t hugely popular), I am going to attempt to write this review spoiler free for both books.

So what makes a great book? Well, I think really strong characters are essential. But I also think the relationships between the characters are equally important. And this series excels on both accounts. Lela and Malachi are not only amazing individuals but they are now one of my favorite couples. Both are such complex characters with dark histories, and both are among the most capable, passionate, smart, loyal beings I know. And together? Holy sexual tension. Gosh the chemistry between these two has a physical presence in this series. Think Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy. Lela and Malachi are akin that relationship. The secondary characters are strong too. In fact, I think Fractured does a better job with the secondary characters than did Sanctum. By the end of the book I cared just as much about Jim, Henry, Ian, and Tegan, as I did about Lela and Malachi. And that’s just to name a few. There are few series where I love all the characters as much as I do here.

Setting and world building can also make or break a book but Sanctum/Fractured will not disappoint you on this front either. The Suicide City that Fine created in Sanctum is so eerily fantastic that it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. I marvel at her imagination. And even though the second book takes place in Rhode Island, Fractured is just was exciting as Sanctum, so let me put to rest any worry over the setting change right now. Fine manages to make RI feel just as dark and ominous. In fact, I may be scared of Rhode Island now too. And from the way things ended in Fractured, readers can look forward to what should be one hell of a third book.

Now let’s talk about the plot and the writing. In my opinion, Fine has some serious talent. Both books are extremely well-written, with a good mix of story and character development and plenty of action and suspense to keep the pace moving. What was started in Sanctum was nicely continued in Fractured, with no signs of middle book syndrome whatsoever. Actually, I think Fractured is a stronger book than Sanctum. Sanctum was Fine’s debut novel, and it was a great one, but to me there are signs in Fractured that she is becoming more sure of her storytelling and willing to take more risks plot wise. There are a lot of emotional moments in Fractured and one explosive ending. The third book is easily one of my most anticipated 2014 releases (as was this book for 2013).

I don't think I know of anyone who has read either book and disliked it. Christianna from The White Unicorn gave both Sanctum and Fractured 5/5 stars. Lili from Lili's Reflections gave Sanctum 5/5 stars. Sam from Realm of Fiction gave both Sanctum and Fractured 4/4 stars. There are more out there but you can see the trend forming... I am not the only one who loved these books!

I understand that there are a lot of great books out there, and all of our TBR piles are overflowing. Even though I'd like you all to go out and start this series right away, I know that is unrealistic. But I highly HIGHLY recommend this book and cannot imagine anyone would wind up disappointed by it. So it can't hurt to bump it up the TBR, right?


Stacking the Shelves (42)-Oct 19th

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

This is what's on my shelf for upcoming reads:

 What books are stacking your shelves??


ARC REVIEW: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Title: How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Pages: 389, Hardcover
Source: ARC obtained at BEA

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

There is no rhyme or reason to how one person feels about another. You like who you like, amiriight? The things that often connect two people are not always easily explained or understood, just as are the things that often tear two people apart. Feelings are messy. Feelings don’t always make sense.

It’s not exactly clear what draws Serena and Sawyer together. After all, they couldn’t be more opposite. But their attraction is so strong it is almost tangible.  I wouldn’t exactly say that they work well together but there is no doubt that they care about each other immensely. And when it comes down to it, they are the only two people that have to get it.

How to Love is told in the “Before” and the “After”. In the “Before” part of the story, Sawyer and Serena are like two oncoming trains. You can see that collision is inevitable, and when it happens it is explosive, and messy and confusing. And as is the case with any train wreck, witnesses can’t look away. Readers know what is going to happen to their relationship; not only does the synopsis tell us but we see the “After” unfold at the same time. Yet the story is still irresistible. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly of relationships. We see two people who love each other so much it hurts.

In the “After” part of the story, Sawyer and Serena are thrust together yet again in the wake of Sawyer’s sudden return. Serena tries not to fall into the same destructive patters with Sawyer but finds it difficult to resist his charms. But what she doesn’t account for is that maybe he’s changed. The “After” is just as heartfelt as the “Before”. Timing and circumstance were against them in the past but things are different now. They get a second chance.

I can see readers relating to Sawyer and/or Serena and/or their situation in at least some way. I found it easy to connect with the feelings in the story even though I've never been in a similar situation (teenage pregnancy and destructive relationships and all that). Speaking of teenage pregnancy, I had no qualms with this aspect of the story. I think it was handled really, really well.

The writing in this book is just beautiful. The way the ending comes together with the “Before” and “After” is pretty perfect. There are just so many feelings and I really enjoyed this read.

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