Soul Crossed

Soul CrossedTitle: Soul Crossed
Author: Lisa Gail Green
Series: Of Demons and Angels #1
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 252
Published by Full Fathom Five Digital on 2015-02-25
ASIN: B00QMQLIOS
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, controversial topics, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

One Demon.

One Angel.

One Soul.

Josh lived a reckless, selfish life, so upon his death, escaping the eternal torments of Hell by assuming the role of a powerful, soul-corrupting demon is an easy choice. His first soul assignment doesn’t seem too hard: the mortal Camden is already obsessed with weapons, pain, and torture. If only Josh wasn’t distracted by Cam's beautiful friend, Grace.

Grace never expected to die violently at age sixteen, but now she’s an Angel, responsible for saving a soul. She can already see past Camden’s earthly flaws, so the job should be be easy. If only that handsome, playboy Josh would stop getting in the way.

It’s forbidden for an Angel to be with a Demon, so if Josh and Grace stop resisting each other, the results would be disastrous.

And only one can claim Cam’s soul.

My Review

This book was such a twist on the usual angels and demons storyline.  It was the kind of story that almost redefines the ideas of what is evil or what is good.  There are sometimes just no clear lines.

The story opens with a bang, with Josh finding himself in Hell immediately after his death.  He is faced with an unexpected choice… become a demon or face eternal torture.  His mission is to push a troubled boy over the edge, to push him into becoming the Antichrist.  Lucifer himself gives Josh his assignment, believing it to be the End Times, his time to rule the world.  Cam, his assignment, is so disturbed that it seems like an easy task.  Until Grace.  Beautiful, Angelic Grace.  Her mission is the same, to turn Cam, but to good and to save the world from Lucifer’s reign.

It was a surprisingly intense and dark read.  Cam is such a disturbed kid that it was often hard to read.  With Josh, he exposed his dark side, a side so dark that it deeply disturbed Josh.  With Grace, you could see him try to find his good side.  But it was so easy for him to explore his dark side, but his good side seemed to be a struggle, only explored because of his attraction to Grace rather than something that truly existed within him.  It makes you questions the capacity for evil and motivations for good that can exist within any of us.

The characters were so amazing, whether you loved them, hated them, or were terrified of them.  Who was truly evil, and who was not?  Were the good always good?  Were the evil unable to find redemption?  The characters made you question everything.  Josh made terrible mistakes when he was alive, mistakes that brought him to Hell.  But was he really evil, or was he just his own victim?  Even Cam… were all of his evil tendencies really only his own fault, or did his life push him in that direction?

My Recommendation

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was dark, disturbing, and intense and beautifully constructed.  There was the ever eternal battle between good and evil.  There was forbidden love.  There was mystery and intrigue.  There were happy moments and horribly sad moments.  And there were so many twists and turns.  A really great read!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

About Lisa Gail Green

Lisa Gail Green lives with her husband the rocket scientist and their three junior mad scientists in Southern California. She writes books so she can have an excuse to live in the fantasy world in her head. She likes to share these with readers so she’s represented by the lovely Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content. She has a parrot but would most definitely get a werewolf for a pet if she weren’t allergic.

Lisa loves YA. She believes with all her heart that teen readers are ready and willing to experience things that some adults have closed their minds to, that books are the safest way to explore, learn, and escape, and that imagination is the key to just about everything.

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Clockwork Angel

Clockwork AngelTitle: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: Infernal Devices #1
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 497
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on 2010-08-31
ISBN: 978-1416975878
ASIN: B003UYURXS
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Magic is dangerous; but love is more dangerous still.

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London's dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters; including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans.

Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....

My Review

Clockwork Angel is the first in the prequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments series, set in London during the late 1800s.  There are a lot of Shadowhunter family names that are recognizable if you have read the Mortal Instruments first, as well as a few characters that were seen in those books.

The Shadowhunters of Victorian England are fighting a war against a group of rogue Downworlders that almost seems unwinnable.   Tessa is pulled into the world unepectedly, never dreaming that werewolves, vampires, and warlocks truly existed.  Her world is turned upside down when she finds out that nothing is as she thought, even herself and her brother Nate.

Althought Will and Jem are the ancestors of characters from the Mortal Instruments, there are traits about both of these characters that remind me of their descendents and I really appreciated that connection.  Magnus makes an appearance, whom I love, as does Camille… furthering the connection between the two series.

I honestly wasn’t sure how much I would like this book, for two reasons.  The first was that I loved the original series so much that I was afraid that this would maybe pale in comparison.  The second was that historical fiction just isn’t generally my cup of tea.  My husband, having finished this series before me, assured me that I would enjoy it.  In fact, this series is his favorite of the two.  I was very happy to discover that he was right.  I loved the characters and the story line so much.  It was engrossing and entertaining and it was historical fiction that was well done!

I love that the culture of the time is so seamlessly blended into the fantasy of the story.  It is a time when there were certain views on the social value and place of women and that is reflected even within the Shadowhunter world.  Charlotte is constantly challenged in her role as the head of the London Institute, simply because of her gender.  Tessa is amazed at the thought of women fighting and Jessamine, although of Shadowhunter blood, turns her back on much of it, preferring to live her life as mundane society dictates.  In addition to the blending of the social norms of the time was the steampunk element that is such a part of the time.  The inclusion of the clockwork Angel, among others, was at times both interesting and terrifying!

My Recommendation

I read this after Mortal Instruments and I think that it actually enhanced this book for me.  I think the original series, even though it comes later chronologically, really creates the Shadowhunter world for the reader.  Great book!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.5

About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

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Comeback

ComebackTitle: Comeback
Author: Catherine Gayle
Series: Portland Storm #6
Also in this series: Breakaway, On the Fly, Light the Lamp, Delay of Game, Taking a Shot
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Sports Fiction
Pages: 278
Published by Night Shift Publishing on 2015-02-19
ISBN: 978-1942177050
ASIN: B00QD69290
Format: eARC
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Nicklas Ericsson is an addict. He’s also a star goaltender with the NHL’s Portland Storm, or he was until his addiction changed everything. Now he’s throwing himself into doing all the necessary things to pave his path to a comeback, both in his personal life and on the ice. Nicky’s run out of options, and now his sister and her children are in Portland. They need help he has no clue how to provide, though, and figuring it out might derail all the progress he’s made.

For a few years now, Jessica Lynch has been running the Portland office for the Light the Lamp Foundation. Between her work and several people from her past, she knows more than she’d like about addicts. One lesson she’s learned is that even when addicts try to turn their lives around, more often than not, they fail. That’s why she takes a hands off approach, keeping her heart well away from the addicts she works with, like Nicky Ericsson.

Nicky’s recovery efforts put him directly in Jessica’s path, and she can’t ignore his very real need for help. Where Nicky is concerned, she can’t separate her emotions. His niece and nephews further complicate her efforts to guard her heart. The attraction between Nicky and Jessica is instant and mutual, but she’s misplaced her trust too many times before. Can he prove that he won't fall back into old habits in time to complete the perfect comeback?

My Review

As always, this is a book that brought me to tears.  As much as I love a good hockey book, this series is about so much more than that.  They are emotionally charged characters going through real issues.  Those issues aren’t prettied up and softened, but shown in all their raw, gritty reality.

This new book focuses on the Storm’s Swedish goalie, Nicky Ericsson, who sidelined his own career because of his grief and subsequent addictions.  Now he is struggling not only to come out on the other side of that, but to regain his place on the team and the trust of his fellow players.  He is living his life day to day when, out of nowhere, his sister and her three young children show up, literally on his doorstep.  It is in that moment that he discovers that his world is about to change dramatically and he turns to his friend Jessica, who works for the foundation his teammate created for addicts, Light the Lamp.

This is a story that must be experienced to be fully appreciated so there are key plot points I don’t want to touch on for fear of spoiling that experience.  Nicky’s struggles are palpable and he doesn’t always handle himself well.  If he had sailed through those struggles with only a moderate amount of hardship, I would have hated it.  But his struggles were real, dark and hard to overcome and very realistic.  Jessica, too, has her own struggles with addiction, albeit in a very different way.  Her story was filled with as much struggle and angst as Nicky’s, their stories weaving together beautifully!

There are moments of humor, of love, of acceptance, of sadness, of heartbreak.  This is a book that tells a real story and all the emotional messiness that comes with life.  This is a big part of the reason that I have loved this series so much!

Things to love…

  • The author’s detailed hockey knowledge
  • The strong emotional pull of the stories and the characters
  • The portrayal of the team as a real family
  • The fact that nothing is sugar-coated
  • That we still see bits and pieces of the stories of the other characters from past (and future) books

My Recommendation

Read the first  8 Portland Storm books (5 books and three novellas), and then run, run, run to get this one.  These stories are fantastic!!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Catherine Gayle

Catherine Gayle is a bestselling author of Regency-set historical romance and contemporary hockey romance with a New Adult feel. She’s a transplanted Texan living in North Carolina with two extremely spoiled felines. In her spare time, she watches way too much hockey and reality TV, plans fun things to do for the Nephew Monster’s next visit, and performs experiments in the kitchen which are rarely toxic.

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The Great Zoo of China

The Great Zoo of ChinaTitle: The Great Zoo of China
Author: Matthew Reilly
Genre(s): Action & Adventure, Mystery & Thrillers
Pages: 416
Published by Gallery Books on 2015-01-27
ISBN: 978-1476749556
ASIN: B00J69Y52K
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, controversial topics, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

My Review

I am honestly not sure how I feel about this book.  It is very reminiscent of Jurassic Park, just on a larger scale with much more intrigue and, if it is possible, more action.  The premise is fascinating, the lengths to which China would go in order to become a cultural superpower.  The prologue of the book is fascinating, and truly set the context for the rest of the novel.  While the novel is sci-fi/fantasy, the prologue’s tinge of reality created the framework, and believability, of the story.

The story is set in a zoo in southern China, a zoo like no other on earth.  Several VIPs from the fields of politics, science, and journalism have been invited to a special tour of the facility, a move to create global buzz in advance of its opening.  And, as one would expect, chaos ensues.

I love the premise of the book.  It is unique, despite its similarity to Jurassic Park, and the implications of it are astounding and rather horrifying.  To say that the novel is action-packed would be an understatement.  It was definitely on the gory side, which isn’t something I necessarily mind.  But there were times that the action was so intense that it was as if the human characters got a little lost.  We just didn’t get to know the individual characters very well and, although there was a large cast, very few were really developed.  And that made it a little hard to connect sometimes.

I think it was the lack of a lot of characterization that bothered me, but there is no denying that the premise is fantastic.  There are so many interesting elements to the story that make you think about what superpower status should really be worth.  It also makes you take a look at humanity and really wonder about it.

My Recommendation

If you love thrillers with non-stop action and a good story line, this is a good read!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 3.8

About Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly is a New York Times best-selling author of eight novels that have been published in eighteen languages in twenty countries. He has sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide.

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