Saturday, March 29, 2014

Manga Review: Mars by Fuyumi Soryo - 5 Star Review!

Hi all!

My first manga review here! Yay! :)

To make it short, I'm also moderate reader of manga and since there are lot of great series out there that people may know or have not heard of or even haven't heard of manga, then I thought I'd share some of the series I've read form now on from time to time.




Author: Fuyumi Soryo
Title: Mars
Release period: 2002-2003 (In English)
Volumes: 15
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Tokyopop
Pages: Around 200 pages each volume
Source: Bought from manga shops
Availability: Slim to none, they have been out of print for a long time already and the best bet where to find it are libraries

Summary:

Popular Rei and shy Kira are worlds apart, until one fateful day brings them together. Rei stumbles upon Kira in the harassing hands of her sleazy art teacher and saves the quiet girl from his clutches. And when the jock plants a kiss on a statue of Mars in the studio, Kira finds herself drawn in and even summons up the nerve to ask him to model for her but problems already lurk on the horizon.

Vicious upperclassman Harumi has had her sights set on Rei for a long time, and is not about to let go now.

One of the most popular teen girl manga series in Japan, Mars is a drama that will meet the demand of the growing female comic-reading market.

Review:

This was one of the first manga I’ve ever read and being in the intended target group (and at that time there being no YA fiction in the current sense) it’s no surprise that I loved it to bits. Come on… it had everything my later teenage heart wanted: a hot guy falling in love with a quiet and shy artistic schoolmate, this hunky guy racing motorcycle, getting into fights, being a big flirt, but settling down for this troubled cutesy girl, there was bulling and justice being served, so much baggage and issues to overcome, oh… and angst, glorious painful angst! After rereading it a while ago, it still left me with a happy sigh on my lips when closing the last volume.

Times have of course changed my perspective of some of the aspects of this manga that I didn’t mind or notice during my first read, namely, oh my god, how much can Kira cry! She cries over everything, if she would even cry because of taking out the trash, it wouldn’t surprise me. But yet again, my overly emotional late teenage heart felt her a kindred spirit, because as shamed I am to admit it, I also cried on the drop of a hat and over everything (the most fatal trigger were movies with animals – and it didn’t matter if nothing really bad actually happened to the animal). I now understand that this is quite an overdramatic and over-the-top series and, yes, well… it is as it is, BUT you know what? I don’t care! This series is awesome new adult romance in manga format that was great then and is more than up to the level now, even compared to similar themed and new adult genre books popping out like crazy nowadays.

More on the plot:
Well, as I said there’s a lot of emotion and feelings, pain and past secrets, twists and turns building up the basis of this series. Both Kira and Rei have enough sinister skeletons in their pasts that they wouldn’t want to, but are forced to face sooner or later, the question just stands if they are strong enough to deal and if they are dedicated and bound together tightly enough to remain by each other’s side. Next to past issues, there are circumstance and most of all several selfish, messed up and intruding characters trying to break them apart, mainly because Rei is apparently hot merchandise and everyone is drawn to him for one or another reason and want him for their own egoistic purposes. So, due to there always being some obstacle on the path to happiness for Kira and Rei, the pace is quite fast and there is constantly something looming over the temporary peace time in their relationship. It's definitely never boring during this manga. Plus, there is also humor in this series, it’s not only crying, pain and dark clouds. Rei is a seemingly careless and easygoing wiseass who doesn’t seem very bright at first so there is much fun on his juvenile delinquent persona’s expenses.

This manga isn’t, however, only about the angst, there are also positive topics in the foreground: friendship (from enemies to friends), forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, … there are various values highlighted. Nevertheless, there is also quite a bit of violence, sexual situations and other delicate topics shown and explored, so this is a mange more for the older teens and young adult audiences.

Something about the characters:
There certainly was a lot of psychologically less or extremely wacko people in this. Almost everyone seemed to have some complex, issue, insecurity, or a definite mental disease – it made the cast quite colorful, unpredictable and was the basis of the whole plot. Kira and Rei were the opposites attract couple that I totally bought. There was stuff that annoyed me about them, but I liked them as the main couple.

I also like the art in this. While nothing overly spectacular, it’s clean and clear with less emphasis on background and detail, and more on making characters distinguishable and pleasant looking. Kira is cute as a button, but Rei is most definitely modelly gorgeous with his outgrown blonde hair (yes, a blonde Japanese, deal with it – hair in manga/anime doesn’t really reflect reality, especially the color) long limbs and a pretty face.

P.S: If you’re a romance reading girl and also like motorcycles and racing then this is just what the doctor ordered! There really is a lot of emphasis on racing and the part it plays in Rei’s life, he wants to live and breathe for the racetrack most of the time. The art during competitions is quite excellent and engaging storyline-wise.

Overall:

Since it’s one of my first manga then I feel confident in recommending this to people who haven’t really read manga before, but are interested to try it out. Especially, if those people also enjoy YA or new adult fiction – it has the same basic gist, but simply the format is different, so the transition shouldn’t be too shocking. All in all, this is a great manga series that I still remember clearly and wouldn’t mind rereading it again in the future.

5 stars!

And here are some more covers from the series:

  


  

 


LIIS

Friday, March 28, 2014

SEP Review: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - 5 Star Review!

Hi all!

Another SEP book, I'm really in the mood for her books lately!




Title: Natural Born Charmer
Release date: 13th of October 2009
Series: Chicago Stars #7
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: HarperCollins e-books
Pages: 400 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard's larger-than-life world. He slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.

The beaver marched right past, her big, flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed . . .

She was definitely a girl beaver because her beaver head was missing, revealing sweaty, dark hair pulled into a scraggly ponytail. He'd been praying for a little distraction from his own depressing company, so he threw open the door and stepped out onto the shoulder of the Colorado road . . .

Funny, sexy, and touching—Natural Born Charmer is the unforgettable love story of a golden boy who might be losing his luster and a spirited woman who's learned never to depend on anyone but herself. 

Review:

The beginning of this story was epic – it was so incredibly random yet completely brilliant, what a way to get straight into the action already during the first paragraphs. So, you have a gorgeous, rich, successful, albeit, with a lot of baggage, guy peacefully driving in his fancy car for a small vacation … and what does he come across in the middle of nowhere? If your first guess was a beaver, then you were stop on! Well, in reality it was a woman in a beaver costume without the head part, but close enough. And then the laughs start coming. The dialogue was comedy gold and it kept pushing the limits of high class hilarity through the beaver fight, the whole gay topic, and till the newly met couple reached the destination – the farmhouse. From there the comedy took it easier, but compared to any other books I’ve read, it still remained in a class of its own. 

This was an awesome push and pull, I-like-you-but-won’t-admit-it, slow burn, couple attraction denying romance and I absolutely loved it. The fact that Blue doesn’t fall into Dean’s arms as he expects (come on, he’s rich, hunky, famous, fit, jada jada jada, and also subtly obnoxious about that – but not annoyingly so) totally throws him off and so the battle beings. I thought their first night in the hotel was an hilarious display for the fight to come and it showed how Dean didn’t take any prisoners, but Blue just might be steadfast enough to resist him, when in reality she wanted the same as him. Not to mention, Dean and Blue were a really sexy couple with an intriguing air about their relationship, more so than other SEP couples I’ve read about. They were both forces of nature and through banter, snarkyness, denying, sharing pain, and through the undeniable attraction burning brighter day by day, they began to sift closer and closer. And what an exciting journey that was!

Next to the romance, which was my definitely highlight in this story, there were also (as is accustomed to SEP books) quite a colorful cast of secondary characters who all had their parts to play in our hero and heroine finding true happiness. Most of those characters had to do with Dean and is messed up family and difficult childhood and, while his attitude towards his parent I completely understood, I also cheered when they slowly made progress in batching up past scars and trying to make it work. I wasn’t too fond of Riley for some reason, but I guess she was still necessary to the plot.

The only complaint I can think of is that the ending felt rushed and certain actions of the couple left me puzzled, but oh well, I can turn a blind eye to that and enjoy the cake with the other characters in the end of the book. 

Characters:

Dean was a dreamboat and the whole package who had a lot of issues to overcome and people to reconcile with and forgive. He was a smart and sexy guy and fit perfectly with the bohemian and appearance-is-secondary Blue.

Blue was my kind of girl – snarky, opinionated and capable. I would have preferred her to stand up for herself more in regards to her mother, Dean and most definitely that annoying old bat Nita, but her cons also made her vulnerable yet loveable. I was really fond of her as the heroine.

Overall:

One of my definite favorites from SEP. It had all the good stuff she excels at and not much of the bad, so if you can look aside the quite improbable plot, then sit down, relax, get your laughter ready and swoon-meter on for this great SEP masterpiece.



5 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: I See London by Chanel Cleeton

Hi all!

Some new adult this time!




Title: I See London
Release date: 3rd of February 2014
Series: I See London #1
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 319 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Maggie Carpenter is ready for a change—and to leave her ordinary life in South Carolina behind. But when she accepts a scholarship to the International School in London, a university attended by the privileged offspring of diplomats and world leaders, Maggie might get more than she bargained for.

When Maggie meets Hugh, a twentysomething British guy, she finds herself living the life she has always wanted. Suddenly she's riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? Another guy, the one she can't seem to keep her hands off of.

Half French, half Lebanese and ridiculously wealthy, Samir Khouri has made it clear he doesn't do relationships. He's the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted…and he's everything she can't resist. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. In a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Review:

I haven’t really read any new adult in a long time, so this was a good change from everything else I’ve had on my plate lately. And while I liked it overall and think it’s a decent addition to the genre, I shouldn’t in the future read anything for a while after finishing a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. While the latter may always have faults, everything else kind of more or less pales in comparison.

Anyway, back to this story and the aspects I liked:

The international setting and multicultural characters were different and out of the usual “comfort zone” I’ve come across a lot in new adult.

I thought the chemistry between Maggie and Samir was not maybe exactly explosive, but it was definitely such a slow burn that it made me basically long for the scrapes of moments they were together. And each and every one of those moments had me on the edge of my seat, they were the worst kind of teases, but then again, I like tension, development and the wait, if it’s worth it in the end. I’m really starting to get fed up with new adult where the main couple meet and more or less are joined by the hip from then on and are pretty sure that it’s big love (even though most of the time I don’t really understand what exactly makes him or her so irresistibly awesome to fall in love from first glance… or the second).

I liked the ending, it was somewhat of an open ending, but there wasn’t much to speculate on how things stood. So, I don’t think it’s completely necessary to read the second book, but I will do it anyway so it doesn’t matter.

And, the things I didn’t enjoy:

Hugh, oh my god, what a bore. Plus, the supposed romance between him and Maggie was an even worse bore. There was no excitement, no anticipation, no attraction, …. nothing. They were a snooze fest together. And him being handsome, hot and wealthy does not automatically mean it would be great. I couldn’t help but be glad when his parts were over and Maggie could get back to flirting and desperately trying to resist Samir.

Maggie annoyed me from time to time as well due to her inability to choose, her blinds she had on regarding the two guys in her life and supposedly being so innocent and then clubbing and kissing random guys like it was all in a day’s work. Still, I liked her more than I wanted to give her a piece of my mind.

Why was there a need to have a love triangle? I don’t think it added anything to the story and the book would have been more than fine without that blasted triple terror plot trope. Then again, there was no insta love, attraction maybe, but no insta love, so yay for that! 

Characters:

Apart from the main three, Maggie also made a lot of friends including the seemingly mean ice queen Fleur and the nice and supportive Mya. The made up a team of good casual/serious friends that were there for each other. I also hope that Fleur finds someone nice for her and, luckily, there were already some promising hints, so I hope those would be more explored in the next book.

Overall:

In some way different and in other ways the same old new adult. Still, I liked this book (it had a type of romance I usually am most fond of) and will check out the second one to come out in the summer.

3 stars!

LIIS

Monday, March 24, 2014

SEP Review: Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Hi all!

Something for the beginning of the week!





Title: Nobody's Baby But Mine
Release date: 13th of October 2009
Series: Chicago Stars #3
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: HarperCollins e-books
Pages: 384 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

The Plan

Genius physics professor Dr, Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby. But finding a father won't be easy. Jane's super-intelligence made her feel like a freak when she was growing up, and she's determined to spare her own child that suffering. Which means she must find someone very special to father her child. Someone . . . well . . stupid.

The Target

Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars' legendary quarterback, seems like the perfect choice. But his champion good looks and down-home ways are deceiving. Dr. Jane learns too late that this good ol'boy is a lot smarter than he lets on -- and he's not about to be used and abandoned by a brainy baby-mad schemer. 

The Explosion

A brillant, lonely woman who dreams only of motherhood . . . A take no-prisoners tough guy who'll settle for nothing less than surrender . . . Can passion and physical attraction propel two strong-willed yet vulnerable people to a totally unexpected love?

Review:

It’s no secret that I adore SEP books and think she is the boss of hilarious dialogue and crazy (read embarrassing/awkward yet comical) situations. So, it’s a given that I will worship anything she writes, BUT while the aspects she excels at always are quite brilliant and on par to what I expect from her, then the overall plot can sometimes be somewhat of a downer. This is also the case with this book.

Ok, yes, the banter, the smart and sharp conversations are as always priceless and there were some wacky and totally unbelievable scenes which I absolutely was over the moon about (which left me excited, swooning, angsty, feeling secondhand embarrassment – a wide array of emotions), BUT the plot of this genius scientist wanting a baby and deciding to have the baby from this allegedly idiotic football jock, and succeeding and with her high IQ blessed head not understanding how incredibly wrong that was, especially if she didn’t intend to share the information regarding the baby with him. I felt that she was like from another planet where there exists a totally different set of social norms and rules or that she had the brain of a genius, but the sensibilities and basic behavior comprehension of a child. Yes, her views and actions led to some high class humor and were the basis of the plot, but I simply couldn’t comprehend or accept her decisions. Also, this is why I couldn’t really understand why Cal had to grovel so much in the end, she was so righteous as if someone had gravely mistreated her, but I remember her being responsible for this whole mess (most of it anyway, it wouldn’t be right to claim that Cal was an innocent “victim”), and falling in love and not getting the same in return didn’t give her the right to mope so much. So, my main con with this book was: I couldn’t by it, which isn’t to mean I didn’t enjoy it, but my discontent was always at the back of my head.

Nevertheless, I like the romance and the chemistry between Jane and Cal. They were an interesting couple. Still, I have to admit that the secondary romance was more to my liking: sweeter, had more quality angst (in the making from decades) and was more fulfilling when successfully settled.

I also have to mention some great scenes to look out for (and alone they are the reason to read this book):

The first time Jane was presented to Cal and her trying to seduce him and getting more desperate by the minute (her ancestors, the bow, the virgin prostitute, “Hurry up,” etc).

When Cal discovered Jane’s real age. That was a truly priceless scene.

Meeting Cal’s grandmother for the first time (the “old bat” had me rolling with her squirrel questions and overall attitude).

The naked Jane scene with more than one spectator.

Characters:

Jane – I understood her pain and longing, but she didn’t really win my approval, she came across to selfish for that. Also, at times it seemed that while she was supposed to be real smart, she was the dumbest in real life situations outside her research.

Cal – He was a grumpy hotty and while I was annoyed by him only preferring really young girls (and taking aging quite hardly), he made up for it with his smart brain and honorable intentions regarding the Jane and baby – he didn’t hesitate to take responsibility.

Overall:

I liked this book because of the reasons I usually like SEP books, but the plot did rub me the wrong way. Again, it doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun and enjoy the story, but it’s definitely one of my least favorites from her I’ve read.

3 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Hi all!

Another first book to a series!




Title: Perfect Ruin
Release date: 1st of October 2013
Series: Internment Chronicles #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Dystopian, YA
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 369 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. If she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, he is the boy being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

Review:

I don’t read dystopian YA, at all, it’s simply not my thing and I haven’t really encountered anything gripping that could pull me into this genre despite the hype. So, I’m a little confused why I took on this book, but there must have been something that persuaded me in deciding to give it a try – it may have been the promised sweet fiancé from birth boy thing – a really random reason, but there you go.

All in all, I can say that I didn’t like the book, it was different, intriguing and seemed quite original (with the setting), but since I don’t have a solid comparison baggage then I can’t really say where it stood in a more wider position. The background to the ongoings and world building was excellent. There was a lot of information provided, but it wasn’t too technical, boring or overwhelming. I knew all that I needed to know to understand this world (or as much as I needed to that point) and to believe all the circumstances, issues and character behavior.

I also thought the being paired from birth idea really worked for me in this and that mostly due to observing the couples in the forefront of the story. I really liked how they were so in tune with each other, exactly what the other needed and it didn’t seem forced, at all. I usually read books where such connections and romance is in the beginner phase and being established so it was interesting to read something where the groundwork and a sense of familiarity/stability was already present. Otherwise, while a vital part of all characters through their intendeds, the romance aspect of the story was quite subtle, basic and secondary. Since I personally prefer more spark in romance (Pen and Thomas were more to my liking – but they aren’t the main couple), then it wasn’t entirely something I was 100% satisfied with, but let’s see where it leads in the upcoming books. I’m hopeful.

The first half or so of the book was somewhat slow and nothing much happened – things obviously did occur, but there weren’t enough answers or fast developments to keep the tension high and me on the edge of the seat. The small details and questions did make me extremely curious on what would come about and what was really going on behind the scenes, but it still needed effort to get through the first half. The second part, however, suddenly went on full force, especially after that incident where everything changed for Morgan and we were finally given answers – at least regarding one aspect of the mystery.

The cliffhanger in the end left me frustrated, but more on the positive side, making me anticipate the next book and the possible developments there.

Characters:

Even though it was a quite character driven/centered story, meaning that Morgan was pretty much the center with her thoughts, views and being, I felt her and others remaining quite distant from me as a reader. Not that they were bland or lacking, but I simply couldn’t identify with them at all – they had their heads too high in the clouds. The characters that felt real were Pen, Alice and Judas – they were also my favorite characters.

Overall:

An intriguing book and I’m most definitely taking on the second one, even though, despite me enjoying this, I still don’t get the hype and popularity of dystopian YA and I still, generally, don’t like the genre. So no, it didn’t manage to convert me to dystopian lover, but at the same time neither did The Hunger Games (Am I the only one who doesn’t like the series? Not that it’s badly written or boring – I just don’t like the plot!).

3 stars!

LIIS

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: Alliance by Mark Frost

Hi all!

Happy weekend!



Author: Mark Frost
Title: Alliance
Release date: 26th of December 2013
Series: The Paladin Prophecy #2
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Fantasy, Adventure
Published by: The Random House Group Limited
Imprint: Corgi Books
Pages: 352 pages in paperback format
Source: Bought from the Bookdepository

Summary:

Readers of I Am Number Four, The Maze Runner, and Legend will love this sophisticated adventure series by the cocreator of the groundbreaking television show Twin Peaks, with its unique combination of mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.

After exposing the sinister underground society of students known as the Knights of Charlemagne, Will West stays at the Center over the summer to explore his newly developing physical and mental abilities. Meanwhile, his roommates investigate the Knights' shadowy purpose and discover unsettling information about their own backgrounds. Will and his friends must quickly figure out what's going on and separate friend from foe as they prepare for the coming fight.

Review:

I thought the first book was an intriguing start full of mystery, adventure and burning questions I couldn’t wait to have answers for, so here I am back from delving into the second.

Yay! There were some mysteries solved and explanations on what the … was going on (honestly, the first book didn’t really provide any answers at all, just threw out questions), and what’s more, I was satisfied with those answers because they didn’t make me scratch my head in confusion or yell in frustration (what happens when answers only lead to more questions). The big picture is still kind of vague, but I can already see shapes and images forming that make sense. So, overall, I was really satisfied on how the plot was developed and that it decided to unveil some aspects of what puzzled me through the first book.

The whole series till now has certainly been imaginative and different from other such series, not so much regarding the characters and basic plotline, but more on the fantasy and paranormal side. The world building is excellent. The concept isn’t really something I’ve read about before, not even close. 

This book was more heavy on the tension, buildup, action, investigating, close calls and snooping around. I felt that it was less character driven and more concerned with the plot compared with the first, where we were introduced to the major players and what they were about. The plot is on center stage and there was less focus on the people. Also, the school played a clearly more minor role in this than it the first, the gang was constantly chasing the storyline and obviously there was no time for lessons, teachers, studying – they were rarely even mentioned. What felt like a school based series now came across as something totally different. Not that I mind any of the previous because despite the changes in direction, the book remained entertaining and exciting.

The characters were still distinct, made good jokes and I liked reading about them and their group dynamics – everyone had their role and purpose. I was quite unhappy, however, that at the moment it seems like most are involved with the evil side of this war and the good guys are seriously out numbered. I hope the teens get some back up or guidance soon – preferably a big brigade of help forces.

The cliffhanger was a real whopper and had a really unexpected plot twist as well, and I loved it. Also the revelation in the final chapter about one other character was quite surprising. I can’t wait to see how Will gets himself out of this sticky situation, what is the faith of the teens and where the story leads.

Characters:

As mentioned I didn’t see this book as being very character driven, at least regarding the five teens. Yes, there was progress and individual discoveries, but there wasn’t much time for that since the plot was hot on the kids’ heels.

Will kept being the leader, brave and proactive, Ajay was the brain, Nick was the class clown, Elsie the touch chick and Brooke the love interest, who maybe has more to her than originally thought. There was also more insight into the pasts and lives of some of the supporting characters, some stories were quite intriguing yet sad.

Overall:

A great addition to the series, the stakes have got higher and the plot has most definitely picked up. I can’t wait to finally grasp the whole picture and see where everything leads. A fun series for both boys and girls.

4 stars!

LIIS

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Behind the Screen (26)

Happy Thursday!


You have no idea how long it has been since the last Behind the Screen post. Believe me, I was shocked! It was posted in July 2013 and since it has always been my favorite weekly post, then I am picking it up again. There are many interesting things going on with Me and Reading and therefore I am happy to share some news with you and also share what we have been doing behind the obvious what you see on the blog.

While blogging:

You probably know, that there are two of us blogging here: me and Liis, my co-blogger. We have had couple of interesting discussion about how to develop the Me and Reading blog and I think the results of these talks will be visible soon.

What we want to change? Besides writing reviews, posting interviews, book spotlights etc we are planning to start creating our own content as well. We have had it also before, so it is essentially not a new idea, but both me and Liis would like to share more of our own thought about what is going on in the wide world of reading, books, publishing, authors, genres. We want to bring in either weekly or monthly appreciation posts about things and/or topics we like and that intrigue us. The last one was Liis's idea and I like it. Like a lot!

I am going to re-establish Behind the Screen and Wednesday Wonderings posts as well, because I enjoyed writing them. I miss it!

We also decided to update pages part of the blog. I have had limited time to keep up with all the updates, but Liis is going to give me a hand updated the Reviews page. We agreed, that she will start linking the newer reviews to the Reviews page and I will start with older ones. Some of the blog readers have mentioned, that they miss having an overview of all the reviews that have been posted here at Me and Reading. Honestly, can't blame them, because I miss that too!

I would also like to start creating posts with our own writing. You see, Liis is taking creative fiction writing course (yes, I am green of envy because I couldn't join due to not being able find a babysitter for my kid) and I also write. It would also be great to get some feedback to our own creations. I just need to convince Liis about that one! :) I also think you would enjoy seeing bits and pieces of our literary world.

I am very happy having Liis as a co-blogger! She writes great reviews and she is awesome to talk to everything related to literature.

Oh, there is also one big event coming - Me and Reading's 3 years anniversary. More about it soon!

While reading:

I have a confession to make.
Hello, my name is Inga and I am addicted to books written by Kristen Ashley. And I am not ashamed to talk about it. Want to know how many of her books I have read within 2014? OK, here it comes:

Rock Chick Series - 8 books
The Burg Series - 4 books
The Colorado Mountain Series - 6 books
Dream Man Series - 4 books
Heaven and Hell - 1 book
Play It Safe - 1 book
Unfinished Hero Series - 1 book
The Chaos Series - 2 books
Lucky Stars - reading it now - 1 book

That makes 1,2,3,4.... 28 of Kristen Ashley books... in 2 months.
If that is not addiction, I don't know what is.

There is something in her writing which pull me in and never lets me go. I simply love her writing.

It's a miracle, that I have been able to read and review and post anything at all while reading her books. It's a plain miracle, that I have also managed to live my own life.

I guess, I am really into reading and escapism during this winter. If you haven't read any of her books, do it now!!! Seriously!!! I wish I had time to review all of her books, I have read, but as said, I need to have a life as well. Read them! I might create a blog post about her different series, just to give you an overview of what I have enjoyed most and what I would recommend. (Well, all of them?!) I do have my favorites though.

With that said and with confession done, I have read more than 50 books this year. Yes, that's a lot. Which means, that I should update my Goodreads challenge, there are around 20 to be added there. I wish I had more time to write reviews for all of the books, I am reading, but not a chance. With the speed I am going this year, can't simply review that much. But I promise, I will do my best!

Old debts:

I have to announce the giveaway winners. I am sorry I am delayed with that. I sincerely am, but I will do it as soon as I am back from my vacation. Going to Egypt next week! And when I am back, then I will deal with it.

Facts and numbers:

Let's take a look to some numerical data as well. It's been a while.

The most popular post this week has been Review of Bootlicker by Steve Piacente with 86 page views (from 2012), the second popular post is Starseed blog tour post (from 2013) with 32 views. The third popular post is Complete Me by J. Kenner with review and guest post with 26 page views.

GFC followers is at the moment 3559  and it has increased with +68 since the the end of July. The growth has slowed down which I understand and I also know what the reasons are. Linky links follower number is 604 with +8 followers, Networked Blogs has 318  followers with increase of +2, Twitter has 4438 followers and has increased with +179. Me and Reading FB page has 3391 likes and this number has increased +101. I will add the increased numbers again next week.

The biggest number of visitors this week are from US - 933 hits (thank you my dear friends from US!), the second place goes to China with 282 hits and third place to Germany with 174 hits and the fourth to Ukraine with 150 hits.

Last week there were visitors from 32 countries.

Page views all time history shows 425.568 which makes the average daily views of 388.

Not bad!


Happy reading, everyone!

Review: Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

Hi all!

The second book to a series I started some time ago.




Author: Kerstin Gier
Title: Sapphire Blue
Release date: 28th of May 2013
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, YA, Time travel
Published by: Mcmillan
Imprint: Square Fish
Pages: 354 pages in paperback format
Source: Bought from the Bookdepository

Summary:

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.

Review:

I thought the first book was quite charming, but didn’t completely manage to win my favor. Still, it was a very promising book with a unique storyline I wanted to further follow and see where it would lead. To my huge surprise, I ended up enjoying it and being totally sucked in by the events and characters I think even already during the first pages. And the only thing on my mind was why didn’t this story have the same effect on me during the first book?

Let’s start with the negative: When I think about it thoroughly, nothing really happened for the majority of the book… nothing I could really deem as significant or constructive at all. Gwen went through another hot/cold shower with Gideon, spent time elapsing in a cellar, chilled with Lesley and tried to tolerate Charlotte (poorly I might add), managed to fail at everything that required social skills and constantly demanded to know what was going on (and not getting any answers). As I said, not much was going on, but boy did things suddenly pick up in the one or two last chapter. Things started actually happening and the plot let itself show. But with all this second book curse cons (the second book is always kind of just hanging in the air and a somewhat prequel to the last book), I found myself really engaged with the ongoings and enjoying the character interactions, not to mention the book really flew by me and I finished it in no time at all.

I can’t wait to find out what is actually going, I’m almost as clueless as Gwen and it’s frustrating because the mystery comes across so intriguing and exciting, but at the same time my cluelessness doesn’t annoy me, on the contrary. I can’t wait to have the puzzle solved and all the loose ties finally answered. Some clues were provided, but I still absolutely fail to grasp the whole picture. I expect some juicy secrets, diabolic conspiracies and world domination plans yet to be fully reveled! Also, the cliffhanger ending really made me anticipate the third and final book.

The characters were for the most part distinct and colorful with many of them having secrets and things they were obviously trying to keep hidden – everyone related to the order was so suspicious. I also liked the humor. There were some laugh-out-loud moments by yours truly, Gwen, who came up with some hilarious comments/explanations/stories and found herself in ridiculous situations.

Characters:

Gwen was great! I really like her as the heroine. Snarky and sassy, but not too much, dorky and awkward, but again not too much. I would have hoped she would kick more butt because people were at times all out mocking and downplaying her, but all in all she handled herself and the way others treated her with ease and humor, not that she wasn’t hurt by other’s attitude though.

Gideon I’m still confused by. I didn’t know if he was faking/acting or really being himself, I was so suspicious of him all the time, because I can’t seem to understand him. He was like a hunky aloof mystery person, who had issues with temperature where Gwen was concerned (he was scorching hot one minute, freezing cold the next). The ending chapter really did him a favor, I finally got to see some genuine sides to him and get more insight into his head.

Overall:

The first book was a three star review and this is definitely one step upwards. Not that there was anything overly exciting going on or we were given answers, but simply because I really had fun reading this one, more than the first. Now, I just have to find time to get my hands on the third.

4 stars!

LIIS

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom - Review!

Happy Thursday!


Welcome to my stop at The Cruelty blog tour! This tour is organized by JKS Communications and by the author Scott Bergstrom. My stop includes a review of the book and some information about the book and the author.

Let's start with the review!


Title: The Cruelty
Author: Scott Bergstrom
Publisher: NuCodex Publishing
Publishing date: 26th of February 2014
Genre: YA/NA, Thriller
Pages: 322 pages
Source: From the JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.










Buy links:

amazon
amazon UK
Barnes & Noble



My review:

I love reading thrillers, especially when they are dark, well-plotted and with interesting characters! It's like adding some bite and spice to my usual reading habits.

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom gave me exactly what I want from the thriller. I was amazed that The Cruelty is actually his debut novel and that can only mean one thing - he is very talented writer and I will definitely keep an eye on his upcoming novels.

Plot:

Gwendolyn Bloom, a 17-years old girl is raised by her father. Her mother died and her father is everything Gwendolyn knows and has. When Gwendolyn hears that his father, who works at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is kidnapped, she does the only thing she finds reasonable - finding her dad no matter what it takes.

Her search takes her to different European cities, Paris, Berlin and Prague to name the most important ones. Her search is far from the usual visits to these cities. You will not see the beautiful scenery and pictures of them. What you will see is the darkest corners of them: abandoned prisons, nightclubs and other not-so-well-known-and-creepy places.

I have to admit, that I have travelled a lot and visited the mentioned cities and what Gwendolyn experiences and sees, is very far from the safe and secure parts where a 17-years old should be visiting, but the descriptions and scenes seem so freaking real on the locations, so it seems, that the author has seen the places with his own eyes, because the places he took the reader were incredibly real. This was one of the things I loved about this book! The use of the language was great because it made the ugly into beautifully written scenes. It also shows that the world today can be a very scary place. And it is.

The plot kind of shocked me. In a good way, if I may add. First, it was filled with the unexpected and I did not see what was coming until it already hit me and left me wondering - what the heck just happened?! Second, I had doubts if a 17-years old is capable of doing what Gwendolyn did. What I mean is, that how many young girls do you know who would just grab her passport and rush to the unknown while knowing that it's not going to be a walk in the park? Gwendolyn knew that her father had a job which could be very dangerous and life threatening and still she stormed off to save her father. This was a part which left me conflicted.  With that said, I forgot her age while reading because both the plot and her character were compelling, they just sucked me in. The conflict appeared AFTER I finished reading and started thinking about it. But that's the beauty of the literature, it's fiction and when the fiction is good and well-written, the age of the main character is not as important as the story itself.

Characters:

Gwendolyn was extremely mature and independent for her age. She makes decisions quicker than most of the adults I know, so I was quite impressed. It's probably because I like women who don't hesitate and who at the same time think before they act. I also liked, that she was not your typical heroine, being outgoing and outspoken. Gwendolyn was shy in her very unique way, because there is a lot going on in her mind. She is smart and bold in a quiet way and when she grows up, she will be a woman to admire: strong and a force to be taken into consideration.

Generally:

The Cruelty is a very good book and I highly recommend it! It's definitely for thriller lovers and people who enjoy good writing!


5 Flowers!

5 stars!

Biography


Scott Bergstrom is a writer and traveler fascinated by the darker, unloved corners of the world's great cities. His books and articles on architecture and urbanism have been widely published both in the United States and Europe. The Cruelty is his first novel.

Author Links below:


Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp8vrEoP7iA&feature=youtu.be


Thanks for coming by!
Happy reading!

 
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