The Rise of Genesis (Ash Lawson #1) by M.R. Merrick – Bout-of-Books 16 Review

1102c-theriseof_finaleebookthumbIn a world where being Supernatural means you’re in danger, Ash Lawson is front and center. After years of helping others escape ATOM—a government entity known for abusing Supernaturals—he’s captured, and saving himself will prove to be the most difficult task he’s undertaken.
Tryst Rivera is a Succubus and veteran at the Academy, a facility tasked with converting underage Supernaturals into cooperative ATOM soldiers. She’s endured her time mostly unscathed, but when Ash arrives and their lives are tethered to one another, she’s placed in immediate danger.
With escape at the forefront of his mind, Ash struggles with the idea of life under ATOM’s thumb. He’ll die before he converts, but his life isn’t the only one he’s responsible for, and he already has more blood on his hands than he can bear. When a chance for freedom arises, Ash needs to decide how much—and who—he’s willing to risk for a second chance.
 

I can honestly say that I’ve missed M.R. Merrick’s fantastic world building and descriptive writing. I can also honestly say that I didn’t miss the torture he puts his characters through. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other and it only takes reading the first chapter of The Rise of Genesis to prove my point.

Ash Lawson is a hero, or at least he tries to be. He lives in a world where few know about the existence of supernatural beings and those that do want to harness their power. He also deals with the fact that his particular brand of supernatural being is hated by the others. To make matters worse, shortly after he’s introduced to readers, his entire world is shattered and he ends up captured… and worse. Yeah, M.R. Merrick wins the #evilauthor prize for not wasting any time. Things are intense in The Rise of Genesis from the beginning to the end.

Of course I loved Ash, but the author didn’t stop at him when it came to amazing characters. Tryst and Soren were among my favorites. They gave Ash a reason to fight as well as protect. Even the characters I hated in the beginning had their moments. Not enough to forgive them entirely, but Gage and Gareth had a few redeeming moments. There were those that I could never forgive though and I don’t even have to mention them. Once you meet them, you’ll understand.

As for the rest of the story… I can’t do it justice by trying to explain. There were so many levels to this world, but then that came as no surprise. Merrick is a master at world building, which he proved in The Protector series. His supernatural beings have their own twist and the different levels of the world he created look on a life of their own in The Rise of Genesis. The characters, with a few exceptions, are not entirely good or evil. Just like the human race, they cross the line.

There are moments that broke my heart, but also moments that made me smile. And in true M.R. Merrick form, the ending made me want to scream. (Can you say cliff hanger???) Needless to say I’ll be stalking this particular author on a regular basis to try to find out when the next book in the Ash Lawson series is expected. The fate of more than one character was left hanging at the end and I need to know what happens next… sooner rather than later. o.O

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Deceived (Jade Ring #2) by Danielle Young

DeceivedLife is fleeting. No one knows that better than Jasper.
After failing his mission, Jasper puts his trust in an unseen source in order to reverse the magic that’s been done.
Unfortunately, magic of that magnitude has consequences. Only time will tell what those are, and what they could mean for magic… as well as Jasper’s heart.

This is the second book in Danielle Young’s Jade Ring series and even though it’s shorter than Guided, it’s not lacking… at all.

As I may have mentioned (actually, I think it was more of a warning) Guided ends in a cliff hanger. Thankfully, Deceived picks up where Guided left off. Unsurprisingly, that means that it starts with a heart wrenching intensity. Just so you know, that intensity doesn’t ease up or slow down through most of the book. Jasper makes a decision in those first few minutes that will pretty much lock Jo’s destiny with his in an unexpected way.

My heart broke for these two characters. They obviously cared about each other, but because of their ‘magical’ connection, neither one of them were sure what was real and what was a product of what they had gone through. That was doubly heart breaking for Jo, who had to re-live memories that she had lost.

There were quite a few revelations and more than a few twists and turns and a couple of characters that my opinion changed about… almost. One thing I know for sure is that I’m going to have to do a complete re-read of this series before the next book is released… which I’m hoping is sooner rather than later 😉

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You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison

YouMeHim“Do not ignore a call from me when you know I am feeling neurotic about a boy. That is Best Friend 101.” —Nash
Maggie and Nash are outsiders. She’s overweight. He’s out of the closet. The best of friends, they have seen each other through thick and thin, but when Tom moves to town at the start of the school year, they have something unexpected in common: feelings for the same guy. This warm, witty novel—with a clear, true voice and a clever soundtrack of musical references—sings a song of love and forgiveness.

I admit, most of the time I avoid contemporary young adult books. Honestly, it’s not them, it’s me. Cliche, I know, but I raised 3 daughters through their teenage years into adulthood and I’m so over the drama that those years entailed that I can’t even explain it. Every once in a while though, I make an exception. Like when another blogger takes the time to throw a recommendation my way. That’s why I picked up You and Me and Him and I’m not sorry that I did.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So, if me making that statement makes you think that this book didn’t contain teenage drama, you would be wrong. Wrong on so many levels. Just the drama that’s caused by Nash alone would debunk that theory. You and Me and Him is full of drama, but even so, it’s different. Vague I know, but trust me.

When I first started reading this book I thought I had all the characters figured out. I was wrong on that count too. There were a lot of layers that were begging to be revealed… and not just with the teens in the story. Speaking of which, my favorite character (aside from Maggie) wasn’t a teen at all. I’m not going to tell who, because his wisdom kind of sneaked up on me, but I’d bet I’m not the only one who fell in love with him 😉

Maggie had a lot to come to terms with in You and Me and Him, but she did it with a wisdom and grace that few teens find while they’re still ‘teens.’ Not that she didn’t have a couple of teenage angst moments herself. That would have been totally unrealistic.

I have no regrets with my first dip into the Contemporary YA pool in ages, thanks to this story woven by Kris Dinnison. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to pick up all of this genre that cross my path, but it does mean that I’m willing to give a select few a second glance. 😉

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New Blood (Bloody Little Secrets #2) by Karly Kirkpatrick

NewBloodThere is a killer in Bartlett, Illinois and it isn’t Vicky Hernandez. New vampire Vicky and her friends are determined to figure out who is filling their senior year with dead bodies. Vicky suspects the killer is from close to home, but her discovery ends up sending them far from Bartlett.

I was honestly debating on whether or not to re-read Bloody Little Secrets before picking up New Blood. Since it’s been taunting me to read it since I downloaded it I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried. Karly Kirkpatrick did an amazing job of catching me up as I read. That doesn’t mean that I won’t ever re-read the first book in this series and it definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read the books in order. There wasn’t a lot of back story given, just enough to jog my memory and to know that New Blood takes up pretty much where Bloody Little Secrets ends.

Vicky and her friends thought they got rid of the danger stalking them and things would settle down enough for them to relax a little. Turns out getting rid of one source of danger was inviting another. They soon found out that the vampire hierarchy is far reaching.

I have to admit that the scenario set up in New Blood was a little crazy, but it still worked. I don’t want to give anything, so there’s not a lot I can tell you. Regardless of how crazy the circumstances, it still made me think ‘what if?’ I love when authors do that. I also still love Karly Kirkpatrick’s vampires. They’re not perfect. They’re monsters who are trying to survive without killing anyone in the process, which isn’t always easy. They’re teenagers who thankfully have a moral compass. They still do impetuous things and end up paying the consequences.

New Blood doesn’t end in a cliff hanger, but it’s obvious that there’s more to come. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for this human/vampire mix before they end their senior year.

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With All My Soul (Soul Screamers #7) by Rachel Vincent – Bout-of-Books 11.0 Review

WithAllMySoulWhat does it mean when your school is voted the most dangerous in America? It’s time to kick some hellion butt…

After not really surviving her junior year (does “undead” count as survival?), Kaylee Cavanaugh has vowed to take back her school from the hellions causing all the trouble. She’s going to find a way to turn the incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another in order to protect her friends and finish this war, once and forever.

But then she meets Wrath and understands that she’s closer to the edge than she’s ever been. And when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realizes she can’t save everyone she loves without risking everything she has.

I have to be honest. I really drug my feet on finishing this series. I’ve loved every single minute of my time spent with Kaylee and company. Saying goodbye to this amazing world was just part of the reason why I was dragging my feet though. The more I read, the more I knew that there was no possible way for things to end well for everyone. These characters had suffered so much loss I wasn’t sure I could endure experiencing any more of their pain and suffering. I was told by more than one reader to put my ‘big girl’ pants on and trust the author to not totally crush me. So, now that I’ve finished the Soul Screamers series, what’s the verdict? *sigh*

These characters have come a long way in a short amount of time. It seemed like years had passed from the time that Kaylee first learned exactly who and what she was. That time frame was put into perspective when Kaylee mentioned that she and Nash had only been a couple for six months. Wow… A lot happened within that year. A lot happened in With All My Soul as well. New demons were introduced, more people were put in danger, sacrifices were made along with decisions that changed everything for everyone. There were times when I wanted to wrap my arms around them all and tell them it would all be okay, even though I knew it wouldn’t be.

So, about that verdict… I can honestly say that With All My Soul falls into that ‘thumbs up’ category when it comes to series finales. Yes, there were tears. Yes, these characters faced more danger and tragedy, but there was a balance to it all. I was amazed at how well things were wrapped up in the end.

SoulScreamers4Even though I’ve read the final book, I still have a few novellas left to read. I’m kind of glad that I held off so I could read With All My Soul as part of Volume 4 in the series. The final volume also includes Fearless, Niederwald and Last Request. See, sometimes procrastination does pay off 😉

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Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures #1) by Kami Garcia & Magaret Stohl

DangerousCreaturesA new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed…others are dangerous.

Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she’s a bad girl. She’s Dark. She’s a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she’s around. Lucky for her, Wesley “Link” Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn’t hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Sometimes you pick up a book just because you can’t resist. That’s what happened when I requested an ARC of Dangerous Creatures. I loved the world that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created in the Caster Chronicles series. The Dangerous Creatures series is a spin-off of that series. I hesitated for a millisecond before I picked this one up, only because I’ve only read the first book in the previous series. I knew going in that I would inevitably run across some spoilers and that there would be times that I would be lost. Do I regret my decision to pick up Dangerous Creatures before catching up with the rest of the Caster Chronicles series? Maybe just a teeny, tiny bit, but not enough to not want to get my hands on the next book in this series as soon as it’s available. (More on that later….)

There was a lot to like about Dangerous Creatures. There were more than a few characters that were familiar and some that weren’t. Even if I hadn’t read Beautiful Creatures, I would have been fine picking up Dangerous Creatures. There’s enough back story to keep new readers in the loop. There were parts that were border line silly, but those moments didn’t last long because there were life and death moments that followed. Link and Ridley were an interesting pair to say the least. The ‘friends’ that they made in New York were even more interesting. This book had twists, turns and then came right back to where you were in the beginning. I loved every minute of it!

Ridley pretty much broke my heart in Dangerous Creatures. She took things for granted, she wasn’t perfect, but she also didn’t feel like she deserved anything beyond what she received.  She made a lot of bad decisions, but she also cared a lot more than she wanted to admit.

This is one of those books that merit a re-read. I’m sure that I’ll get a lot more out of it the next time I read it, which will probably happen after I finish the Caster Chronicles series. One thing that reading Dangerous Creatures did was make me want to go back and play catch up. If you decide to pick this one up, which I highly recommend, play close attention to the flash back scenes. They’re not just filler, they reveal more than you think…. trust me, you can thank me later.

As for the way things end? Oh, I won’t spoil that for you. All I’ll say is that it’s been a while since I read a book that ended leaving my jaw dropping as much as Dangerous Creatures did. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the way the authors left things…. Repeat after me “Authors Are Evil.”

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Bite Club (Morganville Vampires #10) by Rachel Caine – Bout-of-Books 10.0 Review

BiteClubAfter discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There’s a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare—knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other—or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire—accompanied by her friends and frenemies—to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville.

Well, this one wasn’t easy to read. I knew going in (because some of my blogger buddies warned me) that this one wasn’t going to be my favorite. Sometimes those warnings are good and sometimes they give you a jaded view going in that you just can’t shake. I don’t think that happened to me, but you never know.

Rachel Caine did something totally different with Bite Club. She got in someone else’s head. Readers are used to getting everything from Claire’s POV. In Bite Club readers were given glimpses of what was going through Shane’s mind. His POV was more like a diary than the 3rd person account that readers get from Claire. I didn’t mind it, but it’s worth mentioning since it seemed to throw some readers off. Plus, being inside Shane’s head in Bite Club wasn’t a happy place to be. At all. He was angry, confused, bitter and depressed and under the control of people who used that to their advantage.

Bite Club was also hard to read because readers are used to the occupants of Glass House working together to fight off the bad guys. With Shane out of the equation they were not only down one man, it ended up being Michael, Eve and even Claire against Shane… more than once.

The rest of the story was pretty normal… bad guys (and girls) you thought were gone come back, vampires square off against humans, Oliver can’t be trusted, Amalie is unpredictable and Myrnin is crazy… yep, pretty normal for Morganville. Normal, but not predictable. Never predictable. That’s one of the things that I like most about this series. Even if you think you know what’s going to happen, things can change in a heart beat… or maybe ‘blink of an eye’ would be a better term to use when talking about the residents of Morganville 😉

Next up is Last Breath and it’s waiting for me on my bookshelf. I’m seriously close to finishing this series. Which reminds me. I just crossed another book off my Seriously Series reading list 😉

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Gray Moon Rising (Seasons of the Moon #4) by S.M. Reine – Bout-of-Books 10.0 Review

GrayMoonRisingIt’s been almost a year since Rylie Gresham was bitten by a werewolf on Gray Mountain. Now something is beckoning her back to the place she was attacked, along with every other werewolf in the world. But they aren’t the only ones heeding the call. A group of hunters notices them gathering and sees it as their chance to wipe out the entire species.

Seth is about to graduate high school when he learns of the final hunt. He secretly plans to save Rylie and his werewolf brother even though he has to play along with the hunters to do it. But Rylie doesn’t want to be saved. She’s already decided to solve her problems with a silver bullet if answers aren’t waiting on Gray Mountain.

One way or another, everything is about to end—whether it means Rylie’s liberation or the end of her life.

The beginning of this book was tough to read. Rylie is in so much pain… both physical and emotional. She doesn’t want to be the ‘monster’ that she’s become. She’s at the sanctuary to get better and gain control, but she has spent most of the time there hiding and protecting everyone from her wolf. She’s not trying to cope, she’s not even trying to survive.

Seth was doing better than Rylie, but the fact that he hadn’t heard from her or seen her was always weighing heavy on him. He had faith in Rylie. Besides missing her, he was happier than he had ever been. Then his mother comes back and everything changes.

This book is our first real introduction to the Union. If you’re reading these books in the correct order, just know that this will not be the last time you meet them. They have two goals: to protect humans and to destroy werewolves. The problem is that things aren’t black and white. There is both good and evil on both sides and Gray Moon Rising makes that point more than once.

Gray Moon Rising also introduced characters that readers will see later series. It was kind of fun picking them out. Of course I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t done such an amazing job of screwing up the reading order, but I’m trying my best to catch up… or back? Regardless, I’m enjoying getting to know these characters in a different light. This book also melted some of my not so friendly feelings toward Abel and helped me even like him just a little.

Even though this book marks the end of the Seasons of the Moon series, the story is far from over. As a matter of fact, the ending is kind of open ended. It lays the perfect ground work for what’s to come and not just in the Cain Chronicles, which  continues the story of Seth, Riley and Abel. Seasons of the Moon is just the beginning of a wild, intricately woven, scary, crazy world that S.M. Reine has created. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6) by Rachel Vincent

BeforeIWakeI 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

The closer I get to the end of this series, the more afraid for the characters I become. *bites nails*

Lots of things happened in Before I Wake. A lot of things I never saw coming and more than a few that broke my heart. Yes, there were tears. More than I expected and Kaylee had to make some agonizing choices. For all those reasons I need to apologize for the vagueness of this review. Just know that this book will make you feel… a lot…. so be prepared.

Through all the chaos, her friends and family are there to support her. The thing is that they’re also her weakness and her enemies know that and they use it to their advantage.

Regardless of how scared I am for all the characters, I’m loving this series. I trust Rachel Vincent not to totally break me before it’s over so we shall see. She came very close in Before I Wake, but I’m not going to keep that from not wasting any time picking up the next book. With All My Soul is the final book in the series and I’m reading that as part of Volume 4 along with Fearless and Last Request.

SoulScreamersVol3I read Before I Wake as part of Volume 4 in the Soul Screamers series. I’m really glad I read them that way, especially since once I was done with one book I didn’t have to wait to pick up the next one. Now I have the complete set which will make re-reads extremely convenient… and this is one series that will definitely be re-read. ❤

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Never to Sleep (Soul Screamers #5.5) by Rachel Vincent

NeverToSleepDon’t Close Your Eyes.

Sophie Cavanaugh is not going to let her freak of a cousin’s strange psychiatric condition ruin high school for them both. Not after all the work she’s put into cultivating the right look, and friends, and reputation. But then, Sophie sees something so frightening she lets out a blood-curdling scream–and finds herself stuck in a bizarre parallel world where nothing is safe and deadly creatures lurk just out of sight, waiting for her to close her eyes and sleep…forever.

Could this world be real? Or does insanity run in the family…?

Oh Sophie…. clueless, self-centered, selfish and more often than not, just plain mean. I was really hoping that her knowledge of the world she was oblivious to before would make her a little more likable. I suppose there’s still hope, but it didn’t happen in Never to Sleep.

SoulScreamersVol3I did like this installment in the series though and it was a great segue into the next book because it introduced a new character. It also gave us a personal glimpse into Sophie’s world. I was just really hoping that getting in Sophie’s head would give me some reason to like her. *sigh* Petty, I know, but that’s the only reason that I held back a 1/2 star in my review. LOL!

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