Wednesday, September 25, 2013

3.5 stars: Spellcaster (Spellcaster series, #1) by Claudia Gray

"When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them. Shimmering with magic and mystery, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray’s new novel is sure to draw fans of the Hex Hall and Caster Chronicles series, and fans of the hit CW TV show The Secret Circle."

Published March 5th 2013 by HarperTeen. I listened to the audio book format of this book.

I honestly don't have much to say about this one, because it seemed to be for a younger age group than what I normally read. If I didn't know when it was published or who it was by, I would seriously think that it was an R.L. Stine Fear Street book. So I give it points for the nostalgia factor, plus it did hold my interest. I just wanted something deeper and a bit more grown up. 

I also want to add that the narrator for the audio book is fantastic! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

4.5 stars: A Little Too Far (A Little Too Far series, #1) by Lisa Desrochers

"Have you ever gone just a little too far?

Lexie Banks has.

Yep. She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother. In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it’s more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation. But still, he’s been her best friend and confidant for the better part of the last few years … and is so off limits. It’s a good thing she’s leaving in two days for a year abroad in Rome.

But even thousands of miles away, Lexie can’t seem to escape trouble. Raised Catholic, she goes to confession in hopes of alleviating some of her guilt … and maybe not burning in hell. Instead, she stumbles out of the confessional and right into Alessandro Moretti, a young and very easy-on-the-eyes deacon … only eight months away from becoming a priest. Lexie and Alessandro grow closer, and when Alessandro’s signals start changing despite his vow of celibacy, she doesn’t know what to think. She’s torn between falling in love with the man she shouldn’t want and the man she can’t have. And she isn’t sure how she can live with herself either way."

Published September 17th 2013 by HarperCollins. I received a digital copy of this story from the publisher.

What drew me to this book? I'll be honest, it looked awesomely bad, and I can't stay away from train wrecks. You know, like I Know Who Killed Me. Can you blame me for thinking that I was going to get something awesomely bad when the summary says that this woman gets it on with her stepbrother and then gets involved with a man becoming a priest?

This was not awesomely bad. It was actually a really great book, that was honest, beautiful, and even educational, which I could tell early on. So while I was reading it for the wrong reasons at first, I was reading it for the right reasons after just 10 pages or so. 

The emotions in this story and the reactions to events that happen all seem incredibly realistic. Lexie avoiding her brother right after making love? Yep, sounds right. That's only a tiny example, but the characters have a lot of dimension and the story has a lot of depth, and within it, each thing correlates with what is currently going on in the story and with what has already happened in the book. It's not hard to start feeling everything that Lexie feels; you can really insert yourself into the story.
Speaking of which, the descriptions of Italy are fantastic. I haven't been there myself, but I felt like I was there or watching a film that was shot there. Desrochers captured the culture, the streets, the food, the architecture, the art, and the accents. It was very vivid. 

The descriptions in the book captured my imagination and piqued my interest; I ended up googling things from the book, because I wanted more information or just to see it's beauty for myself (like the Pieta by Michelangelo). This is why I called the book educational; there was a lot of information about Italy, architecture and art.

What I found beautiful about the story was that Lexie went on this exciting journey--Italy was only part of it, the other part was her receiving her "calling" in life. Her relationship with the sexy Reverend Alessandro Moretti, made her realize what she wants out of her own life (one example is that she learned she wanted a career working with children). Moretti also got a very important takeaway as well, so it was a journey for him too (the sequel to this book is about him).

From the summary of the book, I thought that Lexie was going to meet Moretti and then shag him right away. No, they actually had a friendship... one where you could feel the sexual tension. That relationship was built very slowly, and was actually the perfect pace. It was because of this, that you could feel the electricity when even their knees touched while they were sitting next to each other-this is what is missing from so many books, especially New Adult.

This was such a refreshing New Adult book, which nowadays seem to be erotica or just really formulaic. The only ways that it followed the formula are the following: Trent, her brother, is a musician who rides a motorcycle and has a tattoo (most NA heartthrobs have many tattoos though). Moretti is a tortured man with a dark past. And yes, there are some graphic sex scenes, but that's just a small portion of the beautiful story.

Once Lexie gets to Italy, there are a lot of religious references, and her character is mildly religious too, but this is done in a way where the book isn't actually religious. It's not trying to convert and the constant mention of Jesus isn't going to disappoint an Atheist. Come on, she had pre-marital sex with her brother and has a sexually charged friendship with a man who has taken a vow of celibacy. See, no need to worry about this book!

I also need to add that both Trent and Moretti are amazing guys. You actually want her to end up with both of them in some way.