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review 2016-02-23 00:00
From Sanctum with Love
From Sanctum with Love - Lexi Blake From Sanctum with Love - Lexi Blake 3.5 Stars!

Nothing excites me more then a new Master & Mercenaries book by Lexi Blake.


I've been waiting for a book about that dirty sadist Kai for awhile now, because lord knows I LOVE a good sadist and Kai has always been an intriguing character. Plus it's always great to catch up with the gang from M&M.


SO, why only 3.5 stars you ask?

This book was busy, like really busy. With Kai's brothers serial murder stuff, with the introduction of Mia that connects to the next M&M, and the new series LAWLESS..https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27833807-ruthless Plus the stuff relating to Erin. So busy in fact that it felt like Kai and Kori's relationship took a backseat. Unfortunately because of that I never connected with them as a couple. My other issue was that Kai just never came off like the dirty sadist he has been referred to in earlier books. This could be because of the lack of sex scenes between them (it seemed like there were less of them then usual) in any case I was left wanting the bad ass sadist Kai from previous books. Also, a lot of the "core" M&M group were missing from this one, which was a bummer. Someone else in another review mentioned that without all the extra story lines this felt like it was more along the lines of the novellas in this series. I have to agree with sentiment!

Overall though Lexi Blake can really do no wrong in my eyes, and although this wasn't one of my favorites in the series it progressed the series nicely, and sets up all kinds of new potential couples, and situations.
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text 2016-02-10 04:40
Underrated Books!
Under The Never Sky - Veronica Rossi
A Shade of Vampire - Bella Forrest
It All Started With An Apple - Ashley Winters
Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz
Sanctum - Sarah Fine

Hello all! This post will be about amazing books/series that I have read that are so, so amazing but have like no fanbase! We need to change that pronto! 


Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi

This trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies of all time and I'll tell you why. I found this first book after looking at iBooks after I got my first iPhone two years ago. Here was the first book for like $2.99 and the cover was gorgeous. So, I bought it. This book has everything anybody could want. Dystopian world? Check. A kickass heroine? Check. Hot guy with family issues? Check. Amazing writing? Check. Fast-moving plot? Check. THE OTP OF ALL OTPS. Check. Seriously, this book had one of my first big book OTPs. I think that's why it hold such a special place in my heart. Perry (the main guy character) is one of my baes and will forever remain so. 

A Shade of Vampire Series by Bella Forrest

This series is the best. It's a very long series. I think we're up to like book 21 now. That being said, I haven't read all of it only up to like 11 or 12. But that doesn't make it any less amazing! Want a story with a sexy vampire? Yeah its a lot cliche but it's worth it. Yeah it's a love story between the girl and the main vampire like every vampire story ever. But...I don't know, it's hard to explain. It's almost a new take on things. There so, so many characters but you get to fall in love with (or hate) all of them! The POVs tends to switch at time but it gives you a well-rounded view of the story. Too long of a series for you? The first seven books tell the story of the two main characters. The next like 9 tell the story of two other characters, and so on. Love spin offs? Well there's A Shade of Kiev which is a direct spin off of like the sixth or seventh book. And then there's Shade of Dragon which I thought had nothing to do with the series but apprentlty I've heard it's going to tie in. It's a long series to read but a fun one at that. 

It all Started With an Apple by Ashley Winters

What happens when your best friend convinces you to throw an apple across the cafeteria to find out who you'll fall in love with? An amazing book that's what. This book started out as a story on Wattpad and it was one of the first things I ever read on there, I think that's why it has such a special place in my heart. This book is a great story about two kids falling in love (or do they?) and then there's a shocking plot twist that made my throw my phone across the room. The best part is this story is FREE on wattpad! However if you enjoy I would suggest buying it from the author! That's why I have a copy sitting on my shelf! (EDIT: apparently it's not being sold any longer :/) https://www.wattpad.com/story/2598009-it-all-started-with-an-apple

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

I've seen about zero hype about this series and it's kinda sad. I started reading this in 8th grade because my teacher made us read the first book for an assignment (he wasn't a very good teacher by school standards). It was amazing. I loved it and read the second on straight away. And then I went out and bought the rest of the series, or what was out at the moment. I haven't actually finished the series because I lot interest in it (not because it wasn't amazing, just because I started reading teen ya romance and like fantasy stuff). But if you want a story about a teenage spy then this novel is for you! Don't like romance? That's fine! This series has next to none! 

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

If you've been following my blog for forever and have read every post then you'll know I got the second and third book of this trilogy from a giveaway on Goodreads. Sadly I didn't win the first book and had to tract down a copy. This series really surprised me. I thought it wasn't going to be that great but it was really really good! I fell in love with the main guy character! The main chick got on my nerves at time but she was okay. And the side characters were life! Basically this series is about a girl ending up in Hell and working her way through it to find her friend who she doesn't think belongs there. Okay, it's a lot better then it seems and I recommend a try at least. It is (or was when I read it) available on Kindle Unlimited so try that! 






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review 2016-01-18 13:23
#PBwekendread Review: Sanctum
Sanctum: An Asylum Novel - Madeleine Roux
So book two I have to say was pretty cool. The pictures within was pretty awesome though not as creepy as in book one.
Dan, Abby and Jordan are still having nightmares from Brookline though they are trying to move on. So when they get sent some pictures it just goes to show they can not get away from the terrors that are within Bookline. They decide it is time to go back and get some answers and put this all to sleep once and for all. Though what they end up uncover is way more than they ever thought. It seems that this goes deep like government, students and so forth. We also get some past history on Daniel Crawford and it seems to me the poor man had some problems growing up just saying. This book is far from creepy there is not horror to it. Though I have to say the cover makes it seem that way it is not. The trio have some good investigation going on and I liked how they didn't give up even when terror was staring them in the face. I do hope to read book three as I want to know if the three accomplished putting Brookline and the trouble it has behind them or will something else come to light. Will Dan ever figure out how he is related to Daniel Crawford?
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-10-10 17:39
Sanctum - Sarah Fine

Spoiler Rating: Moderate/High-ish


Hey Lizzy,


Sanctum was high on my To Read list when you died, at which point I chunked it deep into the wastelands of my (internal) This Can Wait list. 


I've been strictly avoiding anything that involves (or looks likely to involve) loved ones dying, especially if those loved ones are sisters or best friends. Nope nope nope. Not ready.


Well, until a couple days ago, when I hovered a finger over Sanctum's cover on my Kindle app, and thought maybe I could do this.


So I opened it, and read the first line of the prologuenot even the first full sentence, just the first line!and said something out loud like, "Of course."



Of course this novel takes place in Rhode Island. Of course. Because reading about a best friend dying unexpectedly doesn't hit close enough to home.


(Andrew heard me and asked what was up; he knows I've been struggling to prepare myself for this book, and recognized the tone of that "Of course." So I told him what was up. "Now you really aren't allowed to read it," he joked.)


But I did read it, and didn't collapse into a weepy pile even once.


Could my lack of weepiness be in part be because the raw panicky wound of losing you is finally starting to heal? Sure. But it's more likely because the bookwhich promises so much, and has so many neat things to offerwas surprisingly disappointing.


“My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple.”


A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.


As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.




 Things to enjoy about this book include:


a) A heroine who's a person of color!



b) A love interest who's a person of color!



c) A bad ass warrior who's a woman of color!



d) Those three above-listed charactersthe most significant and active characters in the bookare both strong and damaged in serious ways!



e) A genuinely gross and creepy purgatoryish world!



f) Honest portrayals of depression, and the struggle to discover one's self-worth!



g) It's a story about love and self-sacrifice in the face of danger!



h) It's a story about the friendship of two girls, and how their love for each other has (and will) affect their lives (and deaths)!



See? A lot of great stuff going on here.





The Totally Fine Stuff


The writing style was finenot as imaginative or expressive as I would've liked, but fine.


The plot was finenothing that kept me enthralled, but fine.


The antagonists were finenot as scary as they were perhaps intended to be, but fine.


The conclusion was finenot as deeply moving or surprising as I was hoping, but fine.


Maybe I just wasn't really in the mood for this book; maybe I was feeling generally apathetic while reading it. There certainly wasn't anything glaringly wrong with the writing style, the plot, the antagonists, or the conclusion. It was all competently written. But I can't muster up the enthusiasm to say more than It was fine.


The Problematic Stuff




While Lela didn't fall all over herself at the first sight of Sexy Dude Malachi, Malachi pretty much dropped everything at the first sight of her. Which, uh, isn't good, because he has things to do.


He may look like your average super-muscled high school student (that's almost a direct quote, FYI), but he's the captain of the Guards, with apparently countless inhuman men (and one human woman, Ana) under his command. He oversees the important duties of patrolling the massive-and-ever-growing city, aiding the occasional citizen, and combating the growing horde of Mazikin.


(Mazikin: spirit things that escape their own super-hellish realm by possessing the bodies of the human citizens of Malachi's city, thereby banishing those human souls to the super-hellish Mazikin realm.)


If there is one person in this novel who shouldn't drop everything the moment they see someone attractive, it's Malachi. And yet.


Within hours of meeting her he's tossing himself into near-fatal encounters, he's forsaking his duties, he's creating uncertainty and distrust among his troops. Why? Because Lela's a strong, self-sacrificing girlwhich makes her intriguingand she looks so smoochable.


Overall, the romance felt rushed and melodramatic, and I never really bought it.


Rape Trauma


Trigger warning: discussion of how the after-effects of rape are handled in this book below.


Just scroll on down to point number three if you don't want to read this.


So Lela's been chunked from one terrible, abusive, neglectful foster home to another, landing eventually in the home of a man who repeatedly beat and raped her. Lela committed suicide to escape him, but he revived her and continued his abuse of her until she (eventually) tries to kill him, which lands her in juvie.


She's later taken in by a kind and supportive foster mom, but Lela's horrible life (especially at the hands of that man) have left her seriously scarred. The memories haunt her, and frequently threaten to overwhelm her. She has trouble trusting people, and refuses to let anyoneeven her best friendtouch her. She's never so much as touched a boy (except to beat them up, if they're threatening her).


Her trauma is portrayed fairly well in the book, with two glaring exceptions.


Exception Number One: Trying To Seduce Malachi


Shortly upon arriving in the city, she's captured by the Guards and beaten almost to death. When she wakes up (miraculously healed), she's naked in a small room, lying on a cot, covered in just a sheet. A strange man (Malachi) is in the room with her. She's locked in. He's there to interrogate her. She's seen this man kill before, and knows he can kill her.


Oh, and he's checking her out. Awesome. What a stand-up guy!


So when it's clear that Malachi won't let her just stroll out into the city unaccompanied to find her lost friend, she decides to do something extreme:



What does she consider "sneaky," "pathetic," and "manipulative"? Seducing him and stealing the key she knows must be on his body somewhere.


Here's my initial problem: she nearly blacks out from fear when she remembers what her foster father did to her. How does she think she can convince this man she wants to have sex with him with no ulterior motive? There's no way she'll be able to convince him that she isn't doing this just to try to escape.


Here's my second problem: why does she condemn her own plan as sneaky, pathetic, and manipulative? Those words frame herself as the villain and Malachi as the victim. When he's the one keeping her in a locked room against her will.


The seduction attempt is well-written; she's terrified, and her terror is obvious. Malachi's rejection of her is also good; he tells her he knows what she's trying to do, and leaves the room (with her still locked in it).


What's horrible is her reaction to his rejection.



Hold on a moment. I'm getting all red-eyed with anger over here.




a) Humiliation


Why on earth is she humiliated? Because Malachi turned her down? Because she was caught using a "sneaky," "pathetic," and "manipulative" tactic to try to escape? Sure, it's okay to feel stupid for not considering that Malachi didn't have the keys on him. What's not okay is (according to my reading of the scene) that the humiliation seems to be tied to both Lela's inability to turn a guy on ("Oh my god, I'm not sexy enough") and the fact that she tried to use sex as a weapon ("Oh my god, I'm so shamefully impure").


But Lela had run out of options; the thought of using sex as a way to get out utterly terrified her, but she was so desperate that she used it anyway. Lela's humiliation in this situation is such a clear response to our society's idea of a proper woman (must always be attractive to all men all the time, must not have agency over her own body or sexuality) that I nearly cried. Anger-tears, obviously.


I'm 100% okay with Lela experiencing these thoughts and emotions, because yeah, they are (unfortunately) a realistic outcome of our society's views on women and sex. What I have trouble swallowing is heroines of young adult romance-y novels experiencing these thoughts and emotions without it somehow getting through to the reader that Hey, this is the result of misogyny, and girls shouldn't think this way about themselves. I'm horrified to imagine that young women will read books like this (or, for a more extreme example, Twilight) and accept the heroines' ideas about themselves/women/sex as the gospel truth.




b) Shame


Why is she "shamefully relieved" that Malachi didn't take her up on her offer? Why can't she just be "relieved"? There's no shame in a rape victim being relieved that she doesn't have to seduce her captor in order to escape him. To be "shamefully relieved" means to feel relief when you or your society believes that you should be feeling the opposite; in this case, apparently, Lela is supposed to be disappointed that Malachi turns her down. (That sound you're hearing right now is my keyboard splintering under the force of my angry-typing.)


The fact that Lela feels shame is (to me) another outcome of our society's view of women and sex: once a woman (willingly or not) makes herself sexually available to a man, she can't withdraw that availability. (If she does, she'll likely face some degree of repercussionsuch as being called a tease, or socially labeled a fickle, cold, manipulative bitch. The man's desire for sex trumps the woman's lack of desire, and the woman is in the wrong for not recognizing/submitting to that "fact.")


Lela has clearly internalized this belief, and is consequently ashamed at her own relief that she won't have to have sex with this guy after all. Again, I'm fine with this, because it's (unfortunately) a realistic response for a girl in our society to have. But I really, really don't want readers to internalize this belief themselves because it pops up uncontested in both the society they live in and the books they read. I wish this book had somehow indicated that this way of thinking isn't okay.


c) Sex Kitten


Setting aside my feminism, let's look at the last sentence in this chapter: "Thus ended my initial foray as a sex kitten." That's it. "Thus ended my initial foray as a sex kitten."


Are you kidding me? This one jokey sentence reduces the scene from "rape victim forced to use sex as a tool to escape her captor" to "girl's sexual advances embarrassingly rejected by guy." Totally cripples the scene's significance to Lela and the emotional impact to the reader.




You know what? I'm not even going to go into my second example.


For the most part, Lela instinctively flinches away from being touched, she panics (even to the point of having flashbacks and blacking out) when she's grabbed from behind, she goes cold when men look at her as a sexually available body. All very realistic responses. But during a couple scenes, the trauma of her rape is conveniently forgotten for the sake of (a) making Sexy Awkwardness between Lela and Malachi, and (b) making a jokethereby undermining Lela's character development, and downplaying the very real trauma that victims experience.


And I repeat: aaaaargh.


Moving on!




I'm talking about consent to touch and be touched in romantic but not-explicitly-sexual ways now. This might warrant a trigger warning for abuse, in which case you should skip down to the concluding section of this letter.


As a rule, Lela doesn't let people touch her. But then Malachi starts looking pretty attractive, and Lela wonders what would it be like to, say, hold his hand?


They do have some excellent conversations about consenting to be touched by each other, which are awesome and I'm 100% in favor ofbut then Lela forces non-consensual touching on him anyway.


I'll just use one example again, for the sake of time and my blood pressure.


Lela is about to go put herself in extreme danger, and Malachi responds by pulling away from her emotionally, hoping to protect himself from the pain of (what he views as) her almost certainly imminent death. Naturally, she's scared of what's to come, herself.



He explains in clear terms that he isn't emotionally or mentally prepared to lose her, and that he wants to stop all the cuddling as a self-defense measure.



That's right. He begs her not to touch him, and she's all, "Oh, but it'll help me to touch you," and she touches him. Over the next couple pages he keeps begging her to stop, and she keeps touching. When she leaves a few minutes later, she glances back at him:



Yeah, looks like that encounter went well.


She later reflects on her actions and realizes she probably did something she shouldn't have. Hurray! And then. And then they discuss it (and by "it" I mean the fact that her forced cuddling got his scent on her clothes, which their sensitive-nosed enemies noticed). Malachi apologizes for, I don't know, having a scent to even get on her clothes, and Lela brushes off his apology.



That's right. He begged Don't touch me, she touched him anyway, she realized belatedly that maybe that was a jerk moveand then ultimately decides she's not sorry about it, because touching him is so awesome.


Lizzy, I could use one of your wrath-soothing hugs right now.



It perhaps doesn't help this book's rating that I read it so soon after reading An Ember in the Ashes, which does a hugely better job of showing a girl infiltrating a terrifying place in order to save a loved one. I might've rated Sanctum a half-star higher without An Ember in the Ashes lingering behind my eyelids like a delicious, wonderful nightmare. In terms of power and realism, Sanctum just can't compare.


But that's okay. Sanctum isn't a bad book. It definitely has great things going for it, and it faces the worthy issues of abuse and depression and self-worth. It's easy to see why so many people love it.


And I may not be one of those people, but I will be picking up the sequel at some point.


Missing you,



Source: heyashers.com/2015/10/10/sanctum
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quote 2015-09-24 20:09
" It was a fantasy of lights and sounds and smells, crooked candy-striped tents, and laughter that burst like cannon fire out of the winding paths. Curiosities lurked around every corner. "
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