Jul 24, 2012


So I've Been Thinking.... #1: Taking Chances

Yes, I know this is not a book review. And I also know that the book spotlighted here is not typically something I would read. But that's what this whole thing is about: willing to stretch outside of your comfort zone and take a chance at something wonderful.

I started reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern a few days ago, and I have to say that I'm very glad I did. I'm not finished with the book yet, but knowing me, it won't be long until you find a complete review of it up here. 

Now this type of book is not usually one that I would find myself drawn to. Don't get me wrong, I love all things fantastical, and this definitely fits the bill, but that's not all it takes for me to choose a book. There are so many wonderful books out there for me to read that I could never even imagine trying to read something I wouldn't adore after the first page; that would just be a waste of my time.

I normally choose funny books. If it can't make me laugh, then I don't think it did it's job very well. They'll almost always be paranormal or urban fantasy as well, along with a healthy dose of action and adventure, but there needs to be some comedy in there or it just comes off as.... dry.

The concept of The Night Circus sounded wonderful: two magicians battling to the death in a circus arena to settle a longtime rivalry between their mentors. They were trained for this. It's all they've ever known even though they've been told next to nothing about how it would happen. And it was all going down with the whole world watching, even if they didn't fully realize what was going on before them. Sounds great, right?

Well it is. Skimming through the first few pages, the story seemed beautifully written, but there was definitely something notably off about the writing style, at least in my opinion. It was very formal. Kind of sounded like a place where jokes would be strangled to death before they had a chance to spread their wings and the mere mention of sarcasm would get you burned at the stake. Not my kind of environment.

But it was still so tempting. The idea itself is so old, but it was presented in a way that made it seem completely original. So I started to read, expecting to like the book, but not really love it the way I do with my more comedic favorites.

I was wrong.

This book completely drew me in in a way that I never expected it to. It is so completely different from everything else I read, but "different" doesn't necessarily mean "bad." That was the mistake I almost made when deciding whether or not to start this book. But because I was willing to give it a fair chance, even when I didn't expect too much out of it, I fell in love in a way I never expected to. And I'm so glad that I did.

Jul 19, 2012


Review of Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent

Internet, I bring to you some disturbing news. This book is pink. And not just a pink pink, but a PINK. I find it to be most terrifying. It is seriously sticking out like a sore thumb on my bookshelf. It almost hurts to look at it. See what I mean?

I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul. 
The good news? He didn't get it. 
The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school...  

Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent "recovering," she's back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won't keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn't just gambling with her own life....

This book is…. something. I'm not quite sure what that something is just yet. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved it. Before I Wake dragged me onto an emotional roller coaster that left me a little shaken up. I must have literary vertigo. Yeah, that's it.

As always, this book was beautifully written without seeming to be too formal. As a reader, it's very important to me that each of the characters have a "voice." This sort of mental tenor I hear every time they speak, or in Kaylee's case, throughout the entire narration. The twisted mess that is my brain needs this as an anchor to tie the entire story together because without it, nothing seems real enough for me to believe it.

Each of the characters needs to be so defined that they create their own person. Someone that I can count on to maybe not always make the right decision, but one that makes sense for them. They have to be able to surprise me without making me feel skeptical, and they definitely have to make me miss them when they're gone.

Before I Wake had all of this and more: it was an entire whirlwind of craziness. It made me laugh so often that I was sore, and it made my heart swell with pride during those "awwwww…." moments. But I was so in shock throughout the entire thing that I don't think I fully came to terms with all that had come to pass until long after I reached the last page.

And that's when I broke down into tears.

Everything was kicked up another level from where things stood after If I Die. The stakes are higher, rules are broken, and suddenly everything is on the line because no one is safe anymore. All hell is about to break loose. Literally.

Rating: 5 stars

No trailer?! GASP! Super fans unite!

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Jul 17, 2012


Review of If I Die by Rachel Vincent

I think I'm in love.

This book.... there's not even words to describe it. It is so unbelievably incredible, I don't know what to do with it. Other than read it again. And again. And again. I already knew that I loved Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, but this book went above and beyond all of my expectations. This one is really something special.

The entire school's talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee's no ordinary high-school junior. She's a banshee—she screams when someone dies.
But the next scream might be for Kaylee.
Yeah—it's a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee's going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend's needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren't quite human, either.
But Kaylee's borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life.

Holy…. swiss cheese. That was…. indescribable. Wow. I don't know what it is about this book that makes me want to laugh and cry and do a little dance in pure joy of the moment all at the same time. There is just something so special about this book that leaves me speechless. So much wonderful all crammed into so few pages that are never enough; it's just not fair. There's a lust demon posing as her math teacher (if that's not proof enough that math's evil, then I don't know what is), her boyfriend's falling off the wagon again, and oh wait, there's more: she's dying! But that's not all!

There's Tod. Oh my Tod. Sweet, sweet Tod. You've always been there for Kaylee when she needs you, and now you're finally making your big debut. I don't know what there is that I can possible say about you that won't ruin the story for anyone more than I already have, but I must mention that you were completely right all along. Apricot jam really is where it's at.

But back to the most pressing matter at hand: Kaylee's death. It's not really surprising that she tries to set the world to rights before she's gone, it's what she does. She puts the weight of the world upon her shoulders and never tries to shrug the burden off onto another because she thinks it's her job. As heroines go, she's not going to be donning a cape and taking the comic book world by storm anytime soon, but she doesn't have to have super strength or shoot laser beams out of her eyes to be a superhero. Kaylee has something that kryptonite could never give her: a heart. Cheesy as that may sound, she is a purely good person. While that may have come back to bite her in the butt, Kaylee is undeniably one of those few characters that readers are always proud to watch grow because they know that she will never disappoint.

Sabine, surprisingly, has gained a bit of my respect in this book as well. While some may argue that's it's only Kaylee's impending demise that's shining a light upon her soul, I disagree. Sabine's really not that bad of a person. Sure her "passion" may be described as "ruthless," but when has she ever done anything to really hurt someone just for the fun of it? That's true evil, and that's not her. In this book, we see how an abandoned little girl was left for dead because of something she couldn't control, and how she is terrified of becoming the monster that so many people believe her to be. While no one will ever mistake her for a loveable teddy bear, she does care for those few that believe in her, and considering everything she's ever been through, I'd say she didn't turn out so badly.

That is, except for her choice in males. Oh Nash, how I despise you. You have really gone downhill lately and your ways of dealing with unfortunate situations certainly leave something to be desired. I'm afraid the world is not plotting against you, and dare I say it, you might be partially responsible for some of what's been going down. It need not be said that you don't exactly exude grace under pressure, but really man, words hurt. Just because you're having a bad day, doesn't mean that you can take the rest of the world down with you. Show some class.

Luckily, the most renowned Rachel Vincent has weaved enough amazing-ness into this book to cover up his frequent social blunders. This book really is the "BEST ONE YET!", and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for it. It's impossible to try to put this book into words worthy enough to describe it, but I can think of at least one that fits:


Rating: ∞ stars

For When Words Aren't Enough

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Jul 12, 2012


Review of My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent

By now you guys have probably noticed how obsessed I am with Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series. To be honest, this was my least favorite book in the series, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. I did. It just...... frustrated me. Very much so. Kaylee's life is really being turned around in this book, and the first time I read this book, I didn't like it one bit. I've always been a huge supporter of Kaylee, and I was royally ticked off that things never seem to go her way.

If that is what happened to you too, do not give up. Because things get so much better. You know, "the sun will come out tomorrow" and all that jazz. Whatever pain and suffering goes down in this book, trust me, it is all completely worth it.

Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.
See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.
And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

This book has presented me with a bit of a problem. While I loved all of the new elements introduced into the story, namely the world's most determined mara, it frustrated me so much that I almost had to throw the book against the wall a few times. Almost. I could never bring myself to put the book down because I just had to find out what happened next. Of course, I already knew, considering this is a reread, but everyone changes so much in this book that it feels like I'm finally rediscovering the characters that I knew from after If I Die.

There are some new things that I was glad to see had slipped through the cracks the first time around. I began to notice the little details that I had missed before, like who is always there for Kaylee when she needs them, and who is definitely… not. Seemingly insignificant changes in the way certain people look at her – insignificant because they never really mattered until later on in the series. That doesn't mean that they weren't noticed, just that there were more important things going on at the moment, so they were overlooked.

And there was so much going on in this book. Just because Kaylee was going through a bit of a rough patch in the romance department, doesn't mean that there won't be some world, or at least Texas, threatening dilemma for her to solve.

Then there's Sabine. The first time through this book, I hated her for everything she was and everything she did to Kaylee. It just wasn't fair. She had been through so much already and she still felt responsible for saving the world with her own two hands. Now there's a Nightmare with abandonment issues determined to pry her maybe-boyfriend from her cold, dead hands. The universe was tragically out of balance.

This time, I looked at it in a whole different way. After reading the short stories from Sabine's point of view, "Neiderwald" and "Fearless," I can completely understand why she's not willing to play fair. She never meant to hurt Kaylee – in fact, on many occasions she called her a friend – it's just that she was the one thing standing in the way of her life. And Nash was her life; he was everything she needed to keep going on, and once he left, she had nothing.

It doesn't take a genius to see that Kaylee and Nash are no longer perfect for each other. Kaylee doesn't need Nash like Sabine does, at least not any more. Whether she likes it or not, he has changed, and the Nash that she fell in love with is no more.

But she is not alone. To take the place of her fallen hero is another, one that I have been very glad to see. Whether or not he will stay is one question, but without a doubt, he will be causing quite a bit of trouble, which is why we love him oh so very much.

Rating: 4 stars

For When Words Aren't Enough 

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Jul 11, 2012


Review of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

From the bestselling author James Patterson comes the stunning, breathtaking start to the blockbuster series! 

Six unforgettable kids—with no families, no homes—are running for their lives. Max Ride and her best friends have the ability to fly. And that's just the beginning of their amazing powers. But they don't know where they come from, who's hunting them, why they are different from all other humans... and if they're meant to save mankind—or destroy it.

Ok, so maybe werewolves and shape-shifters are getting kind of stale. That might be so. But what about mutants? Well, more specifically, humans with avian DNA and wings? Pretty cool, huh? That is the treat you are in for if you read James Patterson's book, Maximum Ride Series.

The story starts off with meeting the FabSix: Max, Fang, Nudge, Iggy, Gassy and Angel. These kids are from all different backgrounds and ethnicities but they all have one thing in common: wings. They are 98% human and only 2% bird. You would think that these kids would be all weird and have twisted features, but that is not the case. The 6 of them have the most wonderful time together despite the fact that they are on the run from some psychotic loons that want to track them down and force them to be lab rats. Er...birds, sorry.

They spend all their time running, hiding and pretty much being kids, that is, when they aren't kicking some serious butt. You see, when you have these things, well, mutants after you called Erasers, you kind of get an urge to run. Tell me, if someone came running up to you, yelling that Erasers were after them, you would either think, "What a nut," or you would want to help them. Its only logical.

Anyways, throughout the book, (and the series) the six friends overcome obstacles, learn new fighting techniques, as well as run for their birdy lives. But despite all the drama and trauma, they still learn to love and  work together as a family. Because otherwise, they get caught and made into soup. And who in the world would want that?


Don't believe me? Check it out yourself and tell us what you think!

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Jul 10, 2012


Review of My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

Life kinda sucks sometimes. You think that everything is going wonderfully, and then BAM! The cosmic mojo of the universe gives you a huge punch in the face. And why does this aforementioned mojo have such a mean streak? I wish I knew.

This book is the sucker punch that sets off a whole train of unfortunate events in the novels to come. Some may be good, some may be very, very bad, but all of them are going to cause a whole lot of commotion at one point or another.

My Soul to Keep is the game changer in the Soul Screamers universe, and after this book, nothing will ever be the same.

 Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.
Until something does.
Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends--one of whom is already hooked.
And so is someone else...

And so it begins. When I first started re-reading this series, I thought that there was no way I could possibly fall in love with Nash all over again, knowing what he would do to Kaylee. It would be impossible that he could be able to tear my heart out one more time while I sat there seething against the injustice of it all. Needless to say, I was wrong.

Nash seems to have a certain effect on people. Even with all of the evidence against him staring you in the face, you don't want to believe that he would ever do something wrong. He does love Kaylee, that much is obvious, but he's no longer her knight in shining armor. He got knocked off of his horse, and he won't be coming back up again without a few dents. Nash isn't nearly as perfect as everyone seems to expect him to be, and he's been dealt one of the worst hands so far. To say that he had no power to fight fate wouldn't be true at all, but now I've come to understand his circumstance a little better. I could never forgive him for the part he played, but at least my boiling hatred has cooled down to a passionate dislike the second time around.

The fact that I feel any emotion so strongly towards these characters is an immense pat on the back for Rachel Vincent. You can't possibly expect to like everyone, that would make the novel unrealistic, but nothing is worse than complete indifference. A lack of feeling for anyone means that they take up useless space on a page that could have been better spent. Luckily, the author never allows this to happen. Whether it's the new strength I see growing in Tod, sympathy for Alec's situation, or even distaste for Sophie the Ice Queen, everyone plays a deep enough role to mean something to the reader. Everybody and everything that happens in this book is important. Even if at times you just want to throw it against the wall, at least it makes you feel something, which is as much as I could ever ask out of any of the books I read.

Rating: 5 stars

For When Words Aren't Enough


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Jul 8, 2012


Review of My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

I absolutely adore the Soul Screamers series. Rachel Vincent has crafted a world where everything and everyone has its place. All of the characters are so believable that I never question their actions and quite often find myself talking to them. Or yelling at them. But the fact that these books can make me do either is so incredible. Everything just feels so real and I never want to leave that world once I turn the last page.

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.
So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn’t wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can’t cry for someone who has no soul.
The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad’s ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend’s loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can’t possibly understand.
Kaylee can’t let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk...

And here I was thinking that it couldn't get any better than the first one. Silly me.

Kaylee and the gang are off on a whole new adventure, this time to save the souls of a fame ridden pop star who forgot to read the fine print when she was promised the world. And she also happens to have an interesting connection with our friend Tod.

Being a re-reader, I can't help but try to give Tod the benefit of the doubt, but with what he's already shown here, I wouldn't exactly give him a golden star for ethics. Both of the Hudson brothers are fiercely loyal, refusing to give up on the ones they love, even when it's too late. Even though this loyalty is something to be admired, at times they will take it too far and put others in danger because of their own plans.

Even Kaylee, who has absolutely no obligation to risk life and limb for people she's never met before does so anyway, simply because she has a heart of gold. She feels like she has to make up for the damage her aunt caused, especially once she learns the truth about what happens to people who die without their soul. The Page sisters have done nothing to deserve her help, yet she still gives it, even at times when their ignorance causes them to be ungrateful to the only person standing between them and an eternity of torture.

And I can't leave without mentioning our two new reaper friends: Libby, who has seen the millenniums stretch across the Earth, and Levi, Tod's adorable, manically terrifying boss. While he isn't quite as bad, they both seem to be unused to interacting politely with others. Even though to them humans have not become more than measly specks of life and bean sidhes only a royal pain their rear end, they both have a surprising affinity for Kaylee. They respect her quick thinking and ingenious attitude in solving problems that most people would balk at. She surprises everybody with her endless determination, even when staring death in the face. She may not have mind blowing super powers, but this girl is definitely someone to watch out for.

Rating: 4 stars

For When Words Aren't Enough

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Review of Marked by P.C. & Kristin Cast

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.  In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire -- that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  It's tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.  She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

Some people are childish enough to say that vampires are overrated. And I am mature enough to say that that is not the case. The stereotypical take on vampires is what's overrated. But when you have an original and talented authors such as P.C and Kristen Cast, vampires never go out of style. And with their series, House Of Night, we can view this firsthand.

I had the pleasure of reading Marked a few years ago and by the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. The series is about a teen, Zoey Redbird, who is Marked as a vampire when she is 16 years old and she has to uproot from everything she has ever known, and move to the scary House Of Night in Tulsa Oklahoma. Turns out, its not so scary. She meets her new best friend, Stevie Rae Johnson, as well as 3 other wise cracking teenagers that turn out to be her best friends throughout the series.
This new take on vampires, (vampyres, as spelled in the series) is refreshing to say the least, because it doesn't involve murder and midnight excursions to hunt humans for the sake of survival. Yes, throughout the series there is murder and blood drinking, but not in the sense of Bram Stoker (Yes, I am a Dracula fan as well. I am a nerd, I admit it). The book is even written in first person through the eyes of the protagonist herself, Zoey Redbird.

Now, like my partner, this is the first ever book review I have written so cut me some slack if it isn't as interesting as you would have liked. However! I do have experience when it comes to reading and writing so stick with me here and I will do my best to fulfill your needs. Bookwise, that is. Thanks for reading!!

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Jul 6, 2012


Review of My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

I'm just going to start by saying that this was the first review I had ever written. This came out of the colossal mess that is my brain for a reading challenge hosted by the absolutely wonderful Rachel at Fiktshun. To her I owe the inspiration for even starting to review books. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

That being said, I didn't have the slightest idea as to what I was doing at the time. Which means I sincerely apologize for my awful writing style and very cheesy thoughts on a book that COMPLETELY BLEW ME AWAY!

She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

Rachel Vincent, I tip my hat to you. With this being my second read of My Soul to Take, I had expected to glaze over the many twists and turns in this book that had once left me breathless and, at times, a little annoyed with some of the characters. While it is true that I remembered many of the surprises, I was left with an even greater understanding of how amazing of a writer she really is.
The character development in the Soul Screamers novels is outstanding. When you read through each of the books, very rarely do you notice any uncharacteristic traits appear out of anyone, but they all change just the same. Starting over from the beginning has shown me this. Each of the characters grew so much throughout the story, but it was so believable that I never questioned it. In fact I wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't met them again from the start.

And it does feel like I know these characters. Each of them are so settled into their own person that I can count on them to be true to themselves without falling into the cookie cutter snare that so many succumb to.

Kaylee is as strong of a heroine as they come. So much has been thrown at her in these past few days: she's met a grim reaper, seen people drop dead right in front of her eyes, learned the truth about what happened the night her mother died, and on top of all of that, she isn't even human. How's that for a surprise?

Even though she's had to deal with more than should ever be expected of anyone, she handles it all like a pro. Only once or twice does she break down under the weight that has been placed on her shoulders, but even then, she recovers to deal with the matter at hand. Kaylee may not be your average kick-butt, demon slaying, paranormal heroine, but her strength as a person gives her much more to offer.

If you're looking for a book to steal you away and bring you into a world to fall in love with, go read this right now. Otherwise, dig yourself out of your hole and embrace the light because this book will pick you up and never let you go.

Rating: 5 stars

For When Words Aren't Enough


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Jul 5, 2012


The Other Welcome

Hello Internet. You've just heard from my very good friend Gabby as she gave you guys a little introduction as to what we'll be doing here. If you haven't noticed yet, we both run this blog to show people that two conflicting personalities can be brought together to form the most magical of unions.

Yeah right.

To be completely honest, we ran out of people to talk to about books. So we turned to you. Because everybody knows that the Internet fixes everything. You name it, lonely book addicts, athlete's foot, diabetes, laryngitis, even cancer.

Wait, what? You mean the Internet doesn't fix that? Oh well, one out of five isn't too bad.

Proxima tempus.

Jul 3, 2012



Ever read a book that looks good but turns out to be one of the most terrible or boring books that you have ever had the misfortune of reading? I know I have and I know that I have hated those times with a passion. That is why this blog was created. Mostly we will deal with Supernatural or Urban Fantasy books, but we will throw in some variety. Marked By Books is a blog that will rate books and tell you if you should check it or chuck it. If you have any suggestions about a book, just email us at markedbybooks@gmail.com