My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of Booked Up 2012

Well, it's the last day of 2012, and I thought I'd take some time today to look back at what I've read over the year, and lay out my top picks of the year. I've read some genres more than others, so some genres will be limited to one 'the best of', while others may have up to 5 books rockin' the charts. I don't know, maybe there will be a tie or 2!

So, pretties, let's skip down the long and winding road through 2012. Did your favorite book make my list?

 Adult Fantasy - Traditional
I read some very good books in this category, The Lords of the Underworld, by Gena Showalter, had the most well-written, creative, and unique story-lines. There are so many books in this series, that I'm still reading, but all of my favorite adult fantasy books this year have come from this series. So, how to pin down to the top 3? Hard, I know. Nothing was like reading the first book in the series and knowing you just hit on something really special (which technically I read in 2011, so that doesn't count). So it really comes down to personal favorites, because each book features a different character, one of the Lords of the Underworld, and new characters that interact with that Lord.

(3) The Darkest Whisper, LOTU #4, features Sabin, the Keeper of Doubt. Even though I'd hardly noticed Sabin in earlier books, this particular book featured Gwen, a Harpie, and I quickly signed up for Team Harpy. This book had so many twists and turns I had mental whiplash.

(2) The Darkest Lie, LOTU #6, features Gideon, the Keeper of Lies. Gideon was another under-the-radar Lord...he was that goofy guy in the corner that never made any sense, because everything he said was a lie. In this book, the whole lying thing was endearing, adorable, and downright funny. Gideon quickly became one of my favorite Lords.

(1) The Darkest Surrender, LOTU #, features Sabin, Keeper of Defeat and comes in at my #1.

 I really didn't like Strider in earlier books, mainly because of his demon. See, Strider can't lose at anything, which makes him cocky and arrogant. Didn't think I was going to like his book, and I loved his book. A lot of that probably had to do with the harpies...yeah, the book is loaded with harpies, and in fact, might be more about the harpies than Sabin. Harpies are strong, confident, tough, beautiful, sarcastic and just a whole lot of fun. I gobbled this book to see how on Earth things were going to come together, and it was indeed, wholly satisfying.

Adult Fantasy - Indie
In this category, indie includes not only self-published authors, but those authors published by small press publishers. There are some rockin' books in this category, so never, ever sell an indie book short just because it's indie. There's a lot of untapped talent out there.

(1) On the Edge, by Ilona Andrews. Solid writing, great characters, and a believable world, called the Edge, between worlds of magic and non-magic. While the plot was a little predictable, the book was totally enjoyable.

(2) Reaper of Sorrows, by James A. West. This is a gritty story of men and war and betrayal. It is non-stop action, a long list of betrayals, and very solid writing with a strong plot.

And coming in at #1....

(1) Betrayal's Shadow, by K.H. LeMoyne. This book is solid. It has action, great characters, romance, sex, torture, good and evil. The characters are believable, the plot is well-rounded, motivations are clear. It has an ensnaring, delicious character named Turen that will leave you longing to jump into the pages and touch him. If you haven't hopped on the KH LeMoyne train, I suggest you do. 

Adult General - Indie
This general category is a pot-luck, filled with contemporary, mystery, suspense, thriller, horror. I don't read enough in each of these genres to expand on each one separately. And despite that, only one book made the list in this category.

Life of the Party, by Christine Anderson. This is a gritty look at addiction, how it ravages your life, your soul, and even those who love you. The only draw-back to this book was the length, which to me was a little long, but captivating none-the-less.

Adult General - Traditional
Nothing made the list for me. My skirt was inadequately blown.

Young Adult Fantasy - Traditional
This is a very tough category for me, as I did read a lot of good YA books this year. So what it really comes down to for me is memorable characters and/or outrageous imagination. I couldn't limit myself to 3. Sorry.

(5) Poison Princess, by Kresley Cole. Another story featuring an apocalyptic event, but what's unique about this story is how the characters are tarot cards come to life, set on a plane where they have to battle each other in this new world where nothing grows. Very interesting. What leaves this in the bottom 5 is that the 2 main characters, Evie and Jackson, are absolutely horrible to each other at times. It was frustratingly over the top. Is that how kids treat each other these days? Maybe. Do we want to read about it in our characters? Nope. Jackson's Cajun accent, however, is undeniably sexy and well worth the read.

(4) Sweet Evil, by Wendy Higgins. Okay, this is the teen version of the Lords of the Underworld. Same premise, except with teens. I loved it, full of sexy bad boys, lots of tension and romance and fraught with vice and temptation. There was just something a little abrupt about the ending.

(3) The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3), by Julie Kagawa. While I seriously enjoyed the first book in this series, I read it in 2011 so can't count it. Ash, the Winter Fey Prince, is by far one of my most favorite of characters in YA fantasy. What I loved about The Iron Queen most, though, is the growth, strength and conviction of Meghan as she sacrifices much to be a Queen she doesn't want to be.

(2) Divergent, by Veronica Roth. This dystopian novel shows a world that's divided into 5 factions (honesty, selflessness, bravery, peacefulness and intelligence). The factions work together to create a well-run society. Ms. Roth has created a realistic world where our main character, Tris, leaves her family to live with another faction. But in this perfectly-run society, there are those who are still greedy and power-hungry and will stop at nothing, including genocide, to get what they want.

And, by a close call, the #1 pick is:
(1) City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. We have demon hunters in this book, which are descendants of the Nephilim. I have a soft spot for fallen angels to begin with, and this book doesn't fail to deliver on action and intrigue and mystery. The best thing about this book is the didn't-see-*that*-coming ending. It was one hell of a twist!

Young Adult Fantasy - Indie
Young Adult fantasy indie writers really shine, and they are well-deserved.

(3) The Demon's Apprentice, by Ben Reeder. This book rocked. The characters have depth and are well-drawn, motivations are clear. The plot is well-paced, with excellent tension in all the right places. The bad guys are bad, the good guys good, and our main character is stuck in a gray world where a good guy can do bad things. I absolutely loved that. I had a little trouble following ages and spent too much time trying to figure out what age our character was, and I thought the sister wasn't portrayed realistically for her age.

(2) Touch, by Jus Accardo. At last, a YA book with a believable YA heroine. She's not perfect, not a great student, is sarcastic, likes to party and have fun, and you know what? It was so refreshing. Perfection is, shall I say it? Boring! No offense to those straight A students out there, but naughty is much more entertaining. In this book we have a group of super-power peeps, evil adults who want to take over the world, and a whole lotta intrigue and action. And our main guy kills with a single touch, hence the title. But there is one girl who doesn't croak at his touch, so natch, he latches on to her. I would, too.

And the #1 pick of this incredibly talented pool of authors....

(1) Rapture, by Phillip W. Simpson. 
Okay, so Sam, our main character, is, well, a demon. But despite the bad karma of his birth, Sam wants so badly to be a good, kind,normal kid. The problem is, he's not. The portrayal of Sam is so well-written, so heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching at the same time, you have no choice but to be pulled in to his story and feel for him. You like him. You want things to be different for him. You want him to succeed. And don't let the religious premise of the book lead you into thinking this is a heavy-handed-preaching-religious-platform kind of's not. Secular audiences will enjoy this book just as much as the Christian audience will.

Young Adult General - Indie

(2) I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells. The premise of this book is chilling, and the characters realistic, the setting utterly believable. You have a kid who knows he's a sociopath, his doctor knows he's a sociopath, his family knows he's a sociopath. But what what John knows best is that he doesn't want to become a serial killer. He's got all the signs; instead of letting his psyche choose his path, he takes matters into his own hands and sets rules for himself, rules that he hopes will stop him from becoming a serial killer. What keeps this book on the bottom of the list is that John is, well, not all that likeable. It's kind of hard to root for him because he doesn't really feel anything for anyone deep down, he's just going through the motions, because of course, he's just not normal.

And my #1 choice in this category:
(1) Fix by Force, by Jason Warne
This book is not an action-packed, on-the-edge-of-your-seat action thriller. It's an introspective look at a bullied loner's downward spiral into aggression and addiction. It highlights the lengths some kids will go to to fix themselves so that they can fit in with the crowd. This story takes an in-depth look at how one teenager, Spencer, views his life, his family, and himself. He carries the emotional baggage from childhood through adolescence, seeing only what he thinks everyone else must see. No matter how hard he tries to fix himself, the image in the mirror never changes. It takes a series of traumatic events before Spencer can shatter that image and see what's been reflecting back at him all along. It's a gripping read, and probably all-too-real in today's world that focuses on sports and the win, win, win attitude of adults forced upon our younger generation.

Young Adult General - Traditional

(3) Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson. An amazing look into the psyche of a teenage girl who falls into the anorexia trap. The writing is just short of brilliant as the reader is immersed into the twisted thought process of a girl who is literally withering away.

(2) The Christopher Killer, by Alane Ferguson. 17 year old Cameryn Mahoney wants to be a forensic pathologist. Living in a teeny town in the mountains of Colorado, she doesn't get to see much in the way murders and forensics, even with her dad being the county coroner. So Cameryn learns what she can by studying her books. Until a new deputy comes to town, and the Christopher Killer drops a body right at the town's doorstep. This forensic mystery is rock-solid. Solid characters, solid plot, solid writing, and solid details regarding the science of forensics. There was just a little too much time describing the forensic lab processes. But what really pushes this read to the #2 spot is Ms. Ferguson's ability to write suspenseful tension. Wow! The writing keeps you on the edge of your seat.

And the #1 spot in this category and, dare I say it? Perhaps my favorite read over-all in the year 2012:

(1) I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga.

Wow. This book is, shall I say it? A killer of a book. If you think it's about death and gore and horror, it's not. It's a psychological case study of a kid who tries so hard to not be what he thinks the world thinks he is going to grow up to be, and trying so damn hard to be a decent human being, but ends up internally questioning his every thought and motive 24/7. It was brilliant. The title indicates there is more Jasper Dent to come. God, I hope so.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: The Darkest Secret, by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Secret (Lords of the Underworld #7)
Gena Showalter

Summary (from Goodreads):
Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty.

Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun's kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul...and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.

My Rating: 4 Delicious Stars! 

My Thoughts:
I've always had a soft spot for Amun. He's the tortured guy who's afraid to talk because all those awful secrets he's accumulated over the years might spill out and hurt people. No one *really* wants to know what others are thinking all the time. There's just something about the strong, silent types that I adore. 

And Amun is adorable.

But he deals, cuz he's a tough guy and despite hosting a demon, he's a nice guy, too. And he would do anything for his brothers.

As usual, characters are great, story is great, writing is great. But this one is a little slower, not as much action. Also, I was very unsettled about some of the, hmm, not animosity--that word's too strong--but opposition between some of the Lords. Okay, between Amun and Strider. There's a challenge there, and it didn't really end well, and it's over a woman. I didn't like it. I understand it, and in reality this is probably something that would and could happen in a household of men. But you know what? Reality bites, sometimes. The ending left me unsettled and I wasn't totally in my happy place.

I mean, I still liked the story, just not quite as much as some of the other books in the series.

Still a great read, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Book Review: Cursed, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
Dying sucks--and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows. 

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?
But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.
My Rating: 4 Awesome Stars

My Thoughts:

First, a comment on the cover. On a scale of 5, I'd say this is a 2. The cover really doesn't blow my skirt, if you know what I mean. All I can say is don't judge this book by this cover. Seriously. The book is so much better than its cover!

So let's break it down, shall we?

Likeable characters: check.

You have to like Ember and her strength and determination to protect her invalid mom and her younger sister. Both Ember and Olivia are 'different' from other kids, and she tries so hard to protect their secret and keep Olivia from experiencing the same crap that Ember does. Hayden is a delicious knight in shining armor...well, almost shiny. He's got a few secrets and issues of his own, which makes a good character. No one likes absolute perfection, ya know what I mean? There are gobs of minor characters that are mysterious and have depth and you really don't know who Ember should trust. They are not all nice, but that doesn't mean that they all want Ember dead...gone maybe, but not dead. And as for trust issues? Sometimes I wanted to shake Ember a little, because I think on some levels she took the mis-trust to an extreme, but whatever. Like I one likes perfection. It's boring.

Good plot: check
The plot was twisty and turny and went up and down. It was like a roller coaster ride. I don't recall any plot holes, but just this intense desire to keep reading and see what Ms. Armentrout was going to throw at me next...I think she likes her readers to trip and fall. A lot. I don't mind. Makes the reading good! A little bit of a take on X-Men...same kind of premise, just a different story.

Quality writing: check
Really, some quality writing

Recommended reading: check
I'd recommend it to anyone who likes YA fantasy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Funnies!

I was looking at these with a co-worker, at work, and disrupted our quiet office environment, I was laughing so hard at some of these pictures. I hope you find them as humorous as I did!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Look What I Just Got!

Look what I just got!

Three years have passed since the Rapture occurred, and teenager Samael was forced to wander the post-apocalyptic world alone to the City of Angels to meet his nemesis and his fate. Now halfway through the desolate period known as the Tribulation, Sam is still alone, with only his beloved Samurai swords and memories of his loved ones to sustain him. 
This is the sequel to Rapture, which I *loved*. I can't wait to read this!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review: Down a Lost Road, by J. Leigh Bralick

Down a Lost Road
J. Leigh Bralick

Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
For 16-year-old Merelin Lindon, the only secret her family ever had was the reason behind her father's mysterious disappearance, four years ago. But when an old family friend gives her a small, strange metal circle that once belonged to her father, Merelin discovers just how deep the family secrets run. Without any warning, she finds herself swept into a foreign world mysteriously linked to Earth's mythical past — a world with no remembrance of its own history, tottering on the brink of a devestating war with an enemy it cannot recall.

As Merelin begins to understand her own place in this world, she learns that her father may have held the key to unraveling all the mysteries. With the help of a fascinating and sometimes infuriating young man named Yatol, she chooses to hazard everything, to suffer things she never imagined, in a foolhardy quest to rescue her father and save his people.

But it may cost her more than she can imagine...

My thoughts:
What a world, what a world! J. Bralick portrays such a vivid, imaginative world that is easy to visualize. The characters are memorable, believable, lovable, hatable (is that a word?), and strong. The writing is very, very good, descriptive without being over-bearing.

The male characters are just so...male. The female character (really, there's only one to speak of through most of it), is both weak and strong. Strong politics, though maybe just a tad reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. Great, unexpected ending.

So as much as I loved this book, you may be wondering why only 3.5 stars. Let me tell you.

First, and this is really just my opinion, the names were hard to master. I spent much of the first part of the book struggling with names rather than paying attention to the story. It's me, not you, and I know some of you may be saying...yeah? so? Some people love that...I don't, personally. So this, really, is a little thing. Not worth down-grading a 1/2 star.

Merelin seemed to spend a lot of time passing out or crying. Total girl. Yuck.

I thought I was going to swoon over her brother...the first chapter set him as cool and languid, like a tall drink of water...but that magic didn't carry though the whole book. He ended up being pretty ordinary.

What bothered me the most is that I felt like I went through most of the book in a fog. I finished the book, and I still have no clue what Merelin's gift is. I mean, and here's the foggy part, she'd be doing something, end somewhere else after blacking out, not knowing what she did. I'm really, really not sure what she was doing, why she was so important, or what she contributed to the mission. Maybe it's just me being obtuse. Maybe I just didn't get it.

Despite this, I really am going to get the next book and continue the journey.

Friday Funnies HO HO HO!

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did. Can you say 'therapy'? See if you can find *your* family photo!

This puts a whole new spin to the phrase "family tree"!

Either Grandma is getting her sexy on, or Mom is looking for her youth - stop looking.

OMG - it's like Christmas "camo"!

What's with the Clown??? And the eyebrows????????

Lil' Jo may be seeing the Baby Jesus sooner than he thinks.

What was the motivation behind this one - Merry Christmas from Mom, the kids and Dad the porn star?

Yeah, that'll keep him quiet for a while.

Get a room. On second thought, our hands are full, never mind.

Holy Christmas Batman, Batgirl, Batdog and Robin.

The annual Christmas picture of the "I'm never getting laid" club.

Is Santa being held hostage?

Dad realizes that if the 40 pounds of tinsel catches fire on that tree, he has a better chance of survival without the flammable matching pj's.

Why is it that people think it's okay to make a complete a#* of Grandma.

"Oh Joseph, he looks just like you!"

These guys are trying way too hard to be bad. It's painful.


Merry Christmas from the Dork family, thank you, thank you very much.

This takes Christmas to a whole new level.


They have entirely too much time on their hands to dream this one up.

I don't know what's more horrifying - the family pj's or the hideous furry couch.

Get your snowman on!

I don't know who's more horrified, Santa or the "Death Becomes Me" kids.

To you, an your kin, we wish you peace and joy!

The first signs of little Jimmy's psychotic break.

This is wrong on so many levels.

Hey kid, is that your balloon, or are you happy to see me?


Speechless (I just hope that they have money tucked away somewhere in those fig leaves for counseling for the kids).

I can see why they won't let you have children of your own.


Seriously, that was the shirt you decided to wear for the family photo with Santa?