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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: The Soulkeepers, by G.P Ching

The Soulkeepers
G.P. Ching

Initial Thoughts: LOVED this book!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars!
Summary (from Goodreads):
When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. A beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom.

But in exchange she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a protector of human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him.

My Thoughts:
This book starts off with intense action, and just keeps on going. It sucks you in, grabs you and just doesn't let go. 

The characters are awesome. They are real-to-life, from Jacob to his family to his friends to the minor characters. They're well thought-out, easily believable, and convincing.

I like the subtilties of the characters as well. Some of them, you simply don't know if they're going to be bad or good, but it's so subtle you start to question motives. As you read, it's apparent they could swing either way. I like books where there's a gray area between good and evil; bad people don't necessarily always do bad things, ya know? Some of them you're not sure what's  motivating know there's something behind the scenes, and you just have to keep reading to discover some of the lurking secrets.

There's a take on fallen angels that was refreshing; I haven't read an urban fantasy that quite depicted them this way.

The plot moves fairly well. It cruises along nicely, though the end felt a little rushed. Sort of like being at a great party and the host suddenly shoves you out the door, saying "Party's over!" Some resolutions could have been lingered over, given us a little more detail and substance. While I accept the ending as far as the main characters, I didn't believe the reactions of the families involved who didn't know what was going on. 

One other thing that bothered me just a little bit, was the preachy feel toward the end. It felt intrusive. Though I understand the motivation behind it, it didn't fit in with the natural flow of the story.

Despite that, I have to say one of my favorite indie reads of the year!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Prophecy Girl, by Faith McKay

Prophecy Girl
Faith McKay

Initial Thoughts: Entertaining Read!

My Rating: 4 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Ever since Samantha Winthrop's mother moved them to Lacuna Valley, supposedly in search of better weather, the list of strange questions she has no answers for has been growing out of control.

Does her little sister, Violet, have the ability to make things happen just by "praying" for them? Are Sam's dreams really predicting the future? Is she destined to marry the boy she just met, and what is the mysterious orb that he's guarding? Why does she get the impression that there are dangerous creatures watching from the woods?

While Sam should be focusing on answering those questions, there is one other that makes them seem almost irrelevant: Is her mother planning on killing her and Violet?

My Thoughts:
First off, this was a very entertaining read. There were a few things that kept me from rating this 5 stars, but I'll get to those later. Let's start with the yummy stuff first!

Real-life, strong, like-able (and hate-able) characters: Check.
All of the characters are well-developed. What's good about these characters is that they are not all perfect. Even the good guys have flaws. You like Sam, you like Violet, and you just straight-on hate the mom. They 'boy she just met'--Nick--is very like-able. He's strong and cute and I love the way he jumps to Sam's defense. Sam shows growth in this story, becoming stronger and more confident as the story  moves along...maybe a little too confident as she and Nick get in over their heads.

And is Nick just a normal boy? You tell me! And there's a part in this book about Nick that is revealed that will make the young girls eat their hearts out. They'll all be saying, "I want a boyfriend like Nick!" Girls. Will. Love him.

Visuals: Check
The writing gives the flavor of the can picture Lacuna Valley, feel the heat and boredom, feel the cold, picture the school. All very nicely drafted to give the readers a place to ground themselves while reading.

Flaws: Check (what novel doesn't have them??)
The beginning of the novel moved a little too slowly for me. It takes a looooong time to get to the heart of the book: Sam and Violet's powers and what that means. I mean, Violet's powers are see them almost immediately, but it takes Sam far too long to accept that something strange is going on. I found myself getting frustrated that the same questions keep arising with no answers until close to the middle of the book.

Sam and Nick laugh too much. Sorry. Yes, they're happy together and I get that, but I need some other description than "She laughed" or "He laughed" or "They laughed" to keep my interest.

There has to be more to Nick and his Dad than meet the eye, but I don't know what. Otherwise, not sure how they protect the orb against the unworldly beings. This is sort of just hanging out there...not sure if this is what it is (I hope not), or is developed in later books (I hope so). What is it about David that makes the bullies back off with just a word? Not sure. Like I said, he's a strong character, but I'm not really sure 'why'. I was hoping to get more.

I definitely have this in My Series To Keep Reading list!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: Project ELE, by Rebecca Gober & Courtney Nuckels

Project ELE
Rebecaa Gober & Courtney Nuckels

Initial Thoughts: Good premise, and interesting read.

My Rating: 4- Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Millions have already died, and thousands more are perishing daily. As a last ditch effort to preserve the human race, the government implements Project ELE. With the earth heating at rapid speeds, all remaining survivors are forced to turn to F.E.M.A. shelters to wait out ELE's wrath.

Fifteen-year-old Willow Mosby's life, as she knows it, ends the moment she walks through the shelter's door. Willow has to quickly adapt to the new challenges that shelter life demands, the least of which includes making new friends and working a full time job.

Soon after making an interesting discovery, Willow and her friends start exhibiting strange abilities. Seeking answers, they embark on a mission to find out what these new abilities mean and whether they are a gift or a curse.

This new adventure can send her world crashing down around her. The question is: Can Willow survive the fall?

My thoughts:
I struggled with the rating on this one, because while the story was very good, at times the writing wasn't. I finally decided on a 4- instead of a 3+, in order to give the plot its due credit.

This story started out with all the interesting facts about the imminent extinction of the human race, and the race to get into one of the shelters. It grabbed me from the first chapter, and the excitement continued (mostly) all the way through to the end.

I liked Willow and her friends. I also liked that who I thought was going to be the love interest, wasn't. You kind of know who the bad guys are from the start (though I was pleasantly surprised at one turn of events in the end), so there's no mystery there. You have betrayals, you have romance, you have a couple of twists and bam! It's a day of fun in the reading park.

The concept was interesting, and I enjoyed reading about patches on the ozone layer, and what ELE ultimately stands for. I thought these were creative aspects to the story.

What bothered me is that at times the level of writing seemed a little immature, and some of the dialogue bordered on kinda corny. Some times I was gripped, other times I was rolling my eyes. I also was bothered by numerous grammatical errors (such as using peak instead of peek, not once, but over and over), and there was a severe case of comma-itus especially towards the end where commas don't exist and the sentences were kind of running on do you see what I mean? There is a note on the Goodreads page that after reading reviews, that they've corrected all the errors they could find. Could be that I have an earlier version of the book (I *have* had it for awhile!) so these errors could be corrected. Not sure if maturity level of the writing has been aged or not. 
With that being said, I read this book straight through on a Saturday, and really quite enjoyed it. Had a good cliff-hanger that has me wanting to continue reading the series to find out what those dastardly SOBs are up to!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: Tribulation, by Phillip W. Simpson

Phillip W. Simpson
Initial Thoughts: Not quite the same thrill as the first

My Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Halfway through the desolate Tribulation, half-demon Samael is still alone, with only his Samurai swords and memories of the dearly departed - especially his beloved Aimi - to sustain him. Fighting for the innocents who remain behind, Sam has thwarted the plans of the Antichrist once before. Now, having already conquered Europe, America remains a thorn in his brother’s side. At the head of a massive invasion fleet, an army of demons, and his sights firmly fixed on New York, he will not be denied again ...

Beset on all sides by adversaries, aided by friends old and new, Sam must stop his brother before America falls. And if that means killing him, then so be it. He failed once before; this time he will succeed - or die trying.

My thoughts:
This is the 2nd book in the Rapture Trilogy, and while I still love Sam's character, this book didn't quite grab me as the first book did. I had to ponder why.

I feel so bad for Sam. I continue to root for him, and feel his confusion over the tug-of-war both sides (demons and angels) seem to be playing. For me, a human, I don't think I like the black-and-white view of the angels...they would seem to condemn someone because of the fault of their birth, not what's in their heart. I'm not a fan! However, I absolutely love that the angels aren't portrayed as perfect (from a human's empathetic point of view). 

I also enjoyed seeing the Watcher come into play, and giving Sam a third option. How interesting! There are some interesting story lines being presented, which keeps the reader wondering exactly how book 3 is going to end.

So, that brings me back to my pondering. What didn't work for me? And if I'm going to be honest, it's the writing itself that slowed the story down. Oh, that and the fact that it's mostly prose with no dialogue. That in itself will slow a story down.

I felt, at times, that I was just watching Sam going through his daily life, doing this and dodging that, without really moving the story forward. The funny thing is, that's what I felt while reading it. However, when I did go back and sort of flip through, I found that that isn't necessarily true. The story starts out with action (Sam gets a new 'partner') and does keep going...but what happens is that there is so much internalization, and much of it repetitive, that I felt like the story wasn't going anywhere. I remember feeling that the story didn't actually start until 1/3 of the way into the book...but that's a feeling and not fact. 

What also slowed the story down was the amount of telling, rather than showing or describing what Sam was feeling. With some good editing, those issues can be fixed and this story would be that much stronger.

Oh, and one more thing...great cliffhanger ending!

I plan on reading the 3rd and last installment of this series, and still recommend it as a read.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Creatues, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garci & Margaret Stohl

My Rating: 4 Stars

Initial Thoughts: Ends with an "wow!"

Summary (from Goodreads):
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My Thoughts:
I decided to read this book because there's a lot of hype...and I wanted to read it before seeing the movie (which I haven't seen yet). I have to admit, the book started very slowly, and I was wondering what all the hype was actually about...because honestly? I wasn't hyped. I was okay, not hyped.

Of course, this book starts out with something agents and editors and "those kind of people" tell authors never to start their books with: a dream. So, right off the bat, this book throws it in the face of convention. I admit, I'm not a fan of starting that way either. Almost feels like cheating, ya know?

Anyhoo. I love the voice of Ethan. I love reading books told from the dude's point of view. It's actually quite refreshing in YA fantasy books, which typically portray perfect female teenagers who never do anything wrong and get perfect grades and are never, ever naughty. I like it when my characters have, well, a little character. Nothing says boring like perfection.

Anyhoo. Ethan's popular, good looking, has his issues at home, has his best friend (whom I love), and his housekeeper/grandma figure who tells it like it is (whom I also love) and likes to dabble in voo doo, is in with with southern belle barbie dolls in his small is-it-even-on-a-map town...but what I like about Ethan is that though he has it all, he questions why he has it all. He's not happy with it all. He wants O.U.T. of that one-trick-pony town.

Let's introduce Lena, the new girl in town. And of course, she is exactly opposite of the little southern belle barbie dolls that Ethan's grown up with. Ethan and Lena have this strange connection, and while she fights it, he fights *for* it.

There's romance, there's snobbery, there's mean-ness, and when I say mean, the women in that town can be incredibly cruel. It's that cruelty that has you rooting for Lena and kinda hoping someone will kick in some barbie doll's teeth (and no, it doesn't get violent like that...words hurt more than ass-kicking).

So while the first 100 pages or so were 'eh' for me (basically, 'eh' means that I can put it down and do other things...which I did...often), the 2nd half of the book more than makes up for it. The 2nd half of the book was 'wow!"...and I *couldn't* put it down. The 2nd half of the book was hype-worthy.