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review 2015-12-01 15:29
My God the writing is beautifully dark!
Eleanor's Gift - Isis Sousa,Isis Sousa,Clare Diston

After reading the first sentence of Eleanor's Gift, I thought, my God, Sousa's writing is beautiful! And it's not the kind of writing that's just beautiful for the sake of beauty without going anywhere - no, the story is enriched and propelled forward by it. The characters are richly drawn and come to life on the pages, and you can imagine what they would be like in real life. 

There is a subtle sense of horror underlying the events that happen in Eleanor's Gift, a creepiness that you can't outright define, an insidious danger lying in wait. At first, I thought the mysterious stranger was walking into danger at the hands of her rescuers, but then I began to sense that there was something mysterious and indefinable about her. She's found with strange marks on her neck, and I couldn't wait to find out how she was the only survivor and where those marks came from. 

Sousa is a master at weaving a Gothic tale and leaving you satisfied though Eleanor's Gift is a short story. If you tend to shy away from short stories, I really think you should pick this one up because it's exactly the way a story should be set up and told.

 

I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

Check out more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl!    

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review 2015-04-09 14:35
gritty interracial romance but weak heroine
Incarcerated - Inger Iversen
I reviewed the audio book version of Incarcerated for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

I've heard great things about author Inger Iversen, and her books have been on my must-read list for a while now. I've been getting into audio books lately and really love them. Depending on the narrator, just by listening, you can lose yourself in the story in a different way than if you were reading it yourself.

Olivia Peppersmith does an excellent job narrating Incarcerated and has a pleasant voice to listen to. She gives each character his or her own distinctive voice, and I'd listen to any audio book she narrates.

Incarcerated gives you insight into what some of the men in prison could be like. Maybe there are guys like Logan in there who don't deny what they've done and who want to finish serving their time so they can get out and make a life for themselves. I didn't hate him, but I didn't quite like him either. I didn't know what to think about his racism. It didn't seem he had learned it from his parents, so it wasn't something that seemed to be deeply entrenched in his belief system. But I wanted to scream at him, you didn't know what Katie looked like or what her ethnicity was but you fell in love with her anyway!! So what does he think that tells him??

I think Katie was a weak heroine, but I think she was supposed to be shown as vulnerable. If she hadn't been, she probably wouldn't have started the pen pal program to begin with. She's dealing with a lot - the death of her mother, her overbearing father, pressure from work deadlines, her former boyfriend abandoning her right after her mother's death, and agoraphobia. I just wish she had grown and become stronger by the end, but to me, that never happened.

I didn't think Katie's friend, Teal, was much of a friend. I know she wanted Katie to break out of her self-imposed exile, but forcing her to go to parties is not the way to go. To me it was the equivalent of telling a depressed person to "snap out of it!" or "get over it!" The only time I liked Teal was when she tried talking sense into Katie when she found out about Katie falling in love with an inmate from the pen pal program. Everything Teal said to Katie at that time was true.

Incarcerated kept me riveted. I wanted to know how everything was going to turn out in the end. Would Katie and Logan be able to make a romance happen? Truth be told, I wasn't totally rooting for them but wasn't completely against them either. I thought Katie could do a lot better, especially when it's apparent Logan is racist, but also thought she was a better woman than I for not judging Logan solely based on his prison sentence, before she knew he was racist.

Realistically, they have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to make it as a couple. I don't know if I would want to make it work with someone like Logan who judges me based on my skin color even after getting to know me, but Incarcerated gave me a lot of food for thought, and for that, I'm grateful.
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review 2015-02-12 17:44
a gender flip fairy tale masterpiece!
The Stillness of the Sky: A Flipped Fairy Tale (Flipped Fairy Tales) - Starla Huchton,Jennifer Melzer

I received a copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

The Stillness of the Sky is a gender flipped take on "Jack and the Beanstalk" with originality. I ADORE Starla's Evolution series and her other gender flipped fairy tale, Shadows on Snow. I not only wish I had thought about this, too, but also wish for her to gender flip everything! XD

In this rendition, Jack is short for Jacqueline. Jack's mother is tired of dealing with her father so she tries to convince Jack to leave with her. Jack chooses to stay with her alcoholic father because she worries he won't be able to take care of himself. He's abusive to her and one day orders her to sell their cows to cover his debt. On her way to town, she stops to rest, falls asleep, and wakes up to find the cows are gone and in their place is a pouch of beans.

Jack ends up leaving, wondering if it would have been kinder to have left earlier so her father would have been forced to face his demons a long time ago. She doesn't have a clear plan or idea of where she's going, but that's what makes her departure so adventurous and exciting. Not to mention that she's finally free - away from her father's abuse and only has to worry about taking care of herself rather than someone who doesn't appreciate all that she does.

I was so excited for her! She's setting out on this journey this for herself, no one else. To me, the journey she embarks on was also symbolic of the kind young people take to discover themselves. Along Jack's way she meets different people whom she helps because she truly embodies kindness, and they recognize the quality in her.
One stormy night, the beans are accidentally planted, and she wakes up to find a towering beanstalk. From there, everything becomes magical.

I love the characters, especially Jack, and the adventure and romance woven into this tale. Starla has the imaginative chops to take this well known story and make it her own. From now on, I'll look at "Jack and the Beanstalk" with a new and fresh perspective. Every time I think about it, I'll think of The Stillness of the Sky and how beautiful and uplifting Starla retold this tale.

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review 2015-01-06 00:31
definitely worth losing sleep over!
Blood and Shattered Glass - Tyffani Clark Kemp

I received an ARC for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

With that synopsis and that cover, I knew I had to dig into Blood and Shattered Glass and find out for myself what the mystery was all about. It seemed too twisted and fun to pass up, plus I love Tyffani Clark Kemp's writing. I've read the first two books of her LeKrista Scott, Vampire Hunted series, and I love it when authors branch out into other genres.

I'm going to have to be really vague with this review because too much can be given away if I start getting into specifics. And I definitely don't want to give anything away, not one single thing. There were so many surprises around every corner that I wasn't expecting, and the plot blew me away. It's fantastic. I want you to have the opportunity to be blown away by this book, too.

Trista and Jeremi depend on one another - I could tell that right away. At first it appeared he was the one taking care of her, but I think he relied on her almost as much as she did him. I couldn't wait to find out the secrets he was keeping - I had no idea what those could be. Plus I was looking forward to finding out if there was something fishy going on at the psychiatric hospital.

Blood and Shattered Glass is full of secrets waiting to be found out. There were just a couple of small issues I had with it plot wise where things happened a bit too conveniently, but it didn't detract me from enjoying the story as much as I did. I highly recommend this romantic thriller - it'll keep you up reading way past your bedtime and is totally worth losing sleep over!

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review 2014-12-31 18:25
a delicate soul & a selfish one = fire & water
Fire and Water - Andrew Grey

I received a review copy for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

I haven't read too many M/M romances but plan to start, and Andrew Grey is a wonderful author for me to start with. Fire and Water is just one of many books he has written, and I definitely plan on reading more of his novels. When I checked out his page on Goodreads, I was impressed with the number of books he's written! I'm so glad to have been introduced to this author.

Red is a delicate soul which sharply contrasts with his hardened physical build and presence. He's such a good guy and has faced terrible tragedy with losing his parents and dealing with people's reactions to his disfigured face. He's been living an isolated life, keeping his distance from other people out of fear they'll judge him based on his appearance, which most do.

Terry is younger than Red and less experienced in life overall. He's left a bad relationship behind him, but his ex just won't let go. He's extremely attractive and knows it, using his looks so far to get what he wants in life. Once he meets Red however, he begins to question the choices he's made.

Red and Terry make a good match, cheesy at times, but I thought they were good for each other with Terry bringing out a braver side of Red and Red bringing out a less judgmental side of Terry. I enjoyed Fire and Water quite a bit and would have have rated it higher than a four but felt the characters rushed into a physical relationship before they got to know each other. I had been hoping their attraction would simmer for a while longer while they learned more about one another.

I love Andrew Grey's writing style and am looking forward to delving into more of his titles. I recommend Fire and Water to anyone who enjoys M/M romance and to anyone who is looking to start reading the genre as long as you don't mind the characters jumping into a physical relationship. I think you'll agree with me that Andrew Grey is an author you'll want to read more of like I do.

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