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brandikosiner

Blkosiner's Book Blog

Review YA and Teen books with the occasional NA thrown in.

Currently reading

He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear From God
Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore
Resist
Sarah Crossan
New Day, New You: 366 Devotions for Enjoying Everyday Life
Joyce Meyer
Politically Incorrect Wife with Study Guide
Connie Grigsby, Nancy Cobb
The Power of a Praying® Parent
Stormie Omartian
Forever Innocent - Deanna Roy Hot and holy emotional as hell. I loved Corabelle and totally could not even imagine what she has been through losing her baby and then other mistakes out of grief and hurt. Gavin is hot, frustrating yet sweet considerate all at the same time, well maybe slightly different times, but I can def understand where his instinct to flee came from while still respecting how he slowly got things together. The parts where they flashed back to being pregnant, then having the baby and losing him broke my heart into pieces. I don't cry very often at books but this one made me cry. I felt their sorrow radiating from the page and I cannot and hope that I am never in a situation to understand that kind of pain and loss. The moments where Corabelle and Gavin are thrown back together are heart pounding. They have this irresistible chemistry but so much history and pain between them. It made for a deliciously satisfying read where my heart was torn to pieces and slowly, oh so slowly put back together. As for Corabelle's addiction, her habit that helps her get through, I have no experience reading about anything like this and it was handled so well. I understand more and more why she did it and why it brought her release. Also, I love the theme of love getting a second chance, and it was well written here! The ending was heartbreaking but laced with so much hope. I am so excited for the sequel to come out and I know that I want to get back into their heads and see where the healing and love takes them and how they keep Finn's memory alive. Bottom Line: Made me cry and that doesn't happen much AT ALL.
WILD CARDS - Simone Elkeles This was a fun and tense contemporary romance. I connected with both characters, and the dual narration gave me access to their thoughts, reasoning, and emotions. Ashtyn is amazingly tough in the physical sense since she is a female football player. She has faced so many challenges to do what she began to get her father's attention but ended up falling in love with. She's proved herself to her teammates and they trust her and protect her, accept her as one of theirs. I love the easy but deep friendship she has with the guys, especially Vic, who never failed to make me smile. Derek is a hot cowboy type, who has a lot of pain underneath the surface. He is harboring a lot of guilt in regards to his mom and football, so he quit. After that he couldn't seem to stop getting in trouble, which leaves him following his stepmom from California to a new town--Chicago. It is hard watching him try to fit in, and still keep who he is. The tension and chemistry between Ashtyn and Derek is palable, and I love every minute of it. They are both holding each other at arm's length though which sometimes I just wanted to smack them and tell them to get on with it. I really appreciated the family aspect of this one. While neither side was perfect, there were members that I liked. I appreciated that Derek's dad was a navy man, and even though his absence was hard, he is doing it for a good cause, and even though Derek has issues you can tell that his dad did his part when he was home. I love little Julian, he is such a sincere and well done The ending did feel a little rushed, but I am eagerly awaiting more from these characters.Bottom Line: Sparks and tension between the main characters kept my attention.

Blackout

Blackout - Robison Wells The world set up in this one was really interesting, but I think that my problem is that I didn't connect with the majority of the characters. I think that the lead up to the mutations wasn't well done, and I think that it should not have started from the terrorist point of view to start because that dropped my attention level. I didn't connect with them or understand why they were doing what they were doing. Once I got going I did like Audrey and her story line. I think that her and Jack are what kept my interest. It was a gentle and then building connection between the two, because when it starts, Audrey is actually with someone else. I think maybe a lot of the issues would have been fixed if there weren't so many points of view, but I felt bounced around. As is, I don't think that I will be continuing with the series. Bottom Line: Great premise, but meh world building.
How to Love - Katie Cotugno This is a very engrossing book. It is a theme that has been done before but what makes this story special are the characters. The main character, Reena, had a compelling voice. She felt so natural as a character and since she doesn't like the party scene and is more quiet, book smart, and to herself, I def related to her. Her strength isn't found in balls to the wall kick ass, or fiestiness, although you find that some in a sarcastic way, but sometimes she just wins arguments in her head, not aloud, allowing her best friend to save face. She gets herself in a hard spot, with a daughter from the boy she grew up falling in love with who finally found her only to disappear. When the boy, now young man, Sawyer, comes back in town, there is delicious awkwardness. Reena is understandably hurt and holding him at an arm's length. She doesn't know if he will disappear, and since the narration goes from one time (before) to another (after) I know that there is some unresolved feelings. But she does have a whole new life, and even a boyfriend who makes her happy and doesn't judge. Speaking of the time shifts, they are written very well, and flow seamlessly. It never jarred me and I was always able to keep up with what happened before or after. I couldn't help but keep Aaron, the current after boyfriend at an arm's length because the synopsis implies that we get to see Sawyer and Reena fall in love again.I didn't want my heart broken falling for him and I didn't want the poor guy to get hurt. But I also just couldn't completely fall for Sawyer either because he really just seemed like a big jerk. I totally understand that he was in pain, that him and his parents had problems, he suffered a loss, but when he came back (which I never really understood why he left so suddenly and no one knew how to get in touch with him, almost seems like plot device.) he was such a jerk to Reena. Though I have to at least give him props for trying when he did return, and that he did come back since he apparently didn't know she was pregnant. By the end though I was beginning to see them as a couple and how they both have the exterior and interior and have a hard time letting their true selves show. I was pulling for them and didn't think that Sawyer was as complete of a jerk by the end, and wanting them to be happy. I think it was fitting, and even though a bit of an open ending, it tied up everything in the story we just don't know what their happy ever after will exactly look like. Bottom Line: Great storyline and main character, though I had some issues with the love interest.
A Radiant Sky - Jocelyn Davies Radiant Sky is a fitting and good end to this series. I enjoyed it and was taken on the ride right along with Skye. It was so hard to see Skye chose against the man she loves in order to do what is right, where her heart is leading her, and what her parents fought and sacrificed for. Her and Asher's hearts were so hurt and broken and that was emotional to read about. One thing though that I didn't understand is why Asher couldn't have chosen silver and to follow her. It was awesome though how there were steamy moments that sustained me and as usual made my heart beat faster. I loved Earth, she was a great new character. She was fleshed out well and smart beyond her years. There was also an old character who turned out to be a unlikely alliance and I was surprised how much I grew to like her and what she contributed to the story. Cassie is a welcomed relief in the comedic area. Though she was serious when she needed to be, her loyalty and character shined through. The ending wrapped everything up really well, though I didn't like who ended up dying. Bottom Line: Good series ending.
A Fractured Light - Jocelyn Davies 3.5 This picks up right after the other ended, and while it has only been a short time, I had already forgotten some details, but it gets you right back to speed. There is a lot of tension in this one as Skye comes back home, with her aunt because she suddenly disappeared, at Devin because he tried to kill her, with herself at all of the guardians around and the fact that she is still out of control more than she wants to be. But Skye is getting more control, becoming more confident even through the confusion and tension with others. I admired her for that. Her relationship with Asher is still fun to read about. We get to see a slightly darker and deeper side of him in this one that I totally appreciated. And then his lighter, joking side also came back out and that kept things from getting too bogged down and completely serious. For the most part this one it is mostly character development and build up of the tension. Luckily I got the next one from Harper to review so keep your eyes peel over next few days for it. Bottom Line: Good second book.
All of You - Christina  Lee Bennett is such a nice change from other YA or NA male characters, because he is the one who is more restrained and who is all innocent in the sexual area. It was seriously appealing to me and a breath of fresh air. I loved his every scene and wanted to know what he was thinking. It was attractive that he was chivalrous and treated her with even more respect than is the norm. Avery is such a strong character. She knows self defense, and she knows how to get what she wants. She is more like guys in the normal aspect of she doesn't want commitment, just sex most of the time. She normally doesn't really let others in, and it is fun to see Bennett worm his way into her life and then into her heart. Admittedly, the plot is similar to most of the other NA's the damaged individuals helping each other heal and learning to love again. Still it was addictive, and I am not tired of this story line at all. I know some of my readers are, and this is probably not the story for you if you are burned out, but to me, I enjoyed every page. I also love that Avery is a lpn and that her job is a passion. There, at the nursing home where she works, she has formed a deep friendship with one of the residents. Her name is Mrs. Jackson and I adored her. She is fiesty, smart and intuitive, and I love the bond that her and Avery has and how much she helps her realize about life, herself and love. All of You is a great title for this one because we get to see Bennett, who not only wants a hot body, but he wants commitment, emotions, conversation, and most of all--love. He wants every part of Avery and I loved watching Avery realize that she too wanted every part of him. Both of their families and backgrounds plays into who they have become, and they are still dealing with repercussions of how they grew up and faults of their parents. But it molded them, and they have siblings that depend on them and share in everything that they went through. The ending was perfect. Everything wove together and it was wrapped up beautifully. I sighed a contented sigh at the end, although I am eager for the companion novel to read more of Lee's masterfully crafted characters and intense chemistry. Bottom Line: Amazing journey of Avery learning to love, helped along by the hot chemistry of virgin tattoo artist Bennett.
A Little Too Far - Lisa Desrochers Wow does this book cross so many lines, and take me on the adventure every second of it. I thought that I might have issues with the step-brother and especially the priest, but the build up really made me see it in a new light. The forbidden romances are something that seems to find Lexie. Like a magnet. And they are hot, and sweet, and a little too far. Trent wormed himself into my heart because of their open and trusting relationship. How much they were to each other, and if it is step, how wrong is it exactly, that is what I explored with Lexie as it happened. Trent has this whole troubled musician vibe going for him, and he is a good listener and supporter of Lexie. So, I totally didn't know. Because really, how could this work for them? They could never be together in public. Then to further confused Lexie's heart (and mine) as she went to Rome and found herself doing confession and penance with a priest in training. But as they share experiences, art, attractions, dinner, and then confidences, I can def see the attraction. There is chemistry and tension with both guys and I couldn't decide how I wanted it to end. Alessandro (wanna be priest) has such a dark past, and I never would have guessed. The things that he wants to change and his reason for answering the calling is so powerful that you can't help but pull for him. But then I am also pulling for him and Lexie, which wouldn't work out if he were a priest, and I didn't know if I wanted him to give that up, no matter the feelings. So, like I said. Complicated, messy, emotional. Perfect. I had so many feelings in this one, but mostly I just related with and liked Lexie. She knows she's not perfect, but you can tell she is a good person. I know absolutely nothing about art and I don't know if Lisa (author) does either, but if she doesn't it is really well researched. Her passion shines through and makes me care about what she does. She is funny and complicated, so being in her head kept me interested through the whole book. And oh the setting. It's so much fun to be in another country surrounded by history and culture! A heart pounder, where I didn't know exactly what I wanted the end to be for Lexie, and exactly how far is too far. Bottom Line: Great book about what lines you can cross and should you?
Breaking Nova - Jessica Sorensen I got lost in Nova's story. It is so powerful emotionally because she has so much pain and heartache and break in her past, and to watch her figure out who she is and how to deal with that pain is such a journey. I think that I also connected with her on a personal level because my dad committed suicide, and she found her boyfriend Landon after he killed himself. That on top of losing her dad, I was so invested in her, and gave me hope to watch her begin to heal and find herself in this huge swirl of emotions and in the scary world where it seems that most people just don't understand. Quinton also brinks a perspective that I haven't read much about, the secrets of his past are just as painful and hard to get past, and it is interesting to see the extremes that depression, guilt and feeling left behind can do to people. There was such chemistry between the two, and they sparked something in the other, a desire to feel again, a reason besides their once beloveds that stirs their heart. I will say though that the constant talk of weed got to me. I understand that it gave them a numbness and a second to forget and not feel, but I understand they are doing something they never once would. I get the need and addiction, but it just felt to me that it was to entwined into everything and that is time that could have been better spent working on the character development or the chemistry. The secondary characters bring things to the table as well. Nova's friend Delilah is quite the character, and I am glad that she accepted Nova. There were some rocky points in the friendship and it was hard to see her hurting but going back for more with her on again off again boyfriend. The ending was nice, but it also didn't really give me the wrap up that I wanted with Quinton. But there was an excerpt from the next book, so I know their story continues and I can't wait to see where that goes. Bottom Line: Powerful story with very hurt characters.
Where the Stars Still Shine - Trish Doller Wow. What an emotional and raw book. I cannot imagine growing up like Callie did. Her mom abducted her as a child and they have been on the run since. Callie doesn't know if she will be in a new state in 24 hours, or where her next meal will come from, but she still manages. She fiercely loves her mom even when she is tired of the lifestyle, and that shows a lot about her character. I felt for her, and totally understood where she had build up walls, but loved to see the tender side, and that she still stands up for herself--she makes strides to read and learn even when the odds are against her, and she has her own personality instead of drawing into herself like I probably would. But her and her mom are caught and she is returned to her Father. She didn't really know much about him and as she soon realizes, most of what she thought she knew just wasn't true. She also learns things about her mom that makes things all begin to make a lot of sense about how she grew up and the decisions her mom made. I saw such growth in Callie as she realized what life could be like. Learning a new kind of familial love, what having a true friend means, and through some very cute kids, her half-brothers a lot about life, love and acceptance. She also has a large extended family, and I loved that atmosphere, and can totally see how it would be a shock to her--coming from a life of basically just her and her mom and the occasional boyfriend of her mom's that lasted more than a week. There is a semi-triangle, but it never really escalates because she makes a clear choice, and while I feel bad for the guy not chosen because he really was a good guy, in the end chemistry is really needed and she had that with her choice. Alex is handsome and I thought that he had amazing layers. I didn't think that he would at first, but he really pleasantly surprised me, and I was so glad to see the trust built between the two and their affection and hot chemistry. Kat is her cousin and appoints herself her best friend because they were as kids, and I love how she is with Callie. She teaches her what being a friend and family is all about and even though it was rough because Callie never had a girl friend before, I am so glad that Kat proved herself worthy and stuck by her. There is flashbacks of molestation in this one. Callie went through some really tough stuff, and she has nightmares about it. It is fairly descriptive, but it just, for me, added to the power of the story. I know that might be a limit for some, so I thought that I would mention it. The ending wraps up a lot, but it does leave some threads open, but I think it is fitting with this and my mind went to town with the hope, promise and twinge of uncertainty. Bottom Line: Powerful and raw story that centers on Callie's character growth.
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis Wow. I totally can't imagine living in a world like this and can't help but think that I would be one of the people who couldn't survive. So, when I meet a strong and capable main character like Lynn, I am always in awe. Lynn grew up with her mom, and her mom taught her everything she knew. In this world, their pond is the most important thing, and they defend it with their lives, and for them that also means taking lives. Lynn knows how to shoot, purify water, cut down trees, skin and dress a deer basically everything that keeps them alive in a world without help, stores, electricity, or running water. It is so hard to review without spoiling things, but basically Lynn grows through some of the people that unexpectedly comes into her life and makes her question some of the things she was taught about outsiders. There are also some that prove everything right. There is such character development and that is one of the things that I love. Through a little girl Lucy, the most change, determination and strength came out in Lynn. She not only had a helper in Lucy, and someone else to teach how to survive, but she also had a lot to learn from the little girl. Seeing the bigger picture, survival, and not bothering the adults even with something that should have needed their attention, she was selfless and caring to others. The theme of family, togetherness, and friendship really shone through these two characters in particular. The romance is sweet and subtle, a slow build, my favorite kind. Lynn knew nothing about men except they were evil from her mom, and she realizes that just like women, they can be good or bad, or some shade of gray in the middle. So it is really fun to watch her learn what flirting is. The story would have been a five star if it weren't for the ending. I guess that for some it would be great, realistic, and fitting for the story, but for me, it did not work. I was so heartbroken and though the way it ended up was full of hope in promise in others, I still couldn't get over the shock and the loss. Bottom Line: Loved the main character, and 3/4 of the story but the ending was NOT for me.

Tumble & Fall

Tumble & Fall - Alexandra Coutts Overall this is a good story, and I love the premise of a week until the end of the world, and what these characters will do with their time. Lots of things worked really well, I liked the presence and theme of family in this one. Given there are some really dysfunctional ones between the characters, but when it comes down to the end of the world, I like to see who is surrounding and left standing by your side. I also really connected with Sienna and her depression. It is something that I battle with myself and I think it was portrayed pretty well and I def. understood where she was coming from. We get off to a sad and gripping start with her, and she was my favorite of the three. I also thought that Zan's loss of Leo, her boyfriend was a powerful motivator in the story, and I just wish that it was written in first person, because I think that I would have been more invested in the characters than I already was. With the beginnings of new love, questioning things you thought were certain, love whether romantic, friendship or familial, healing and grief are all pushed to the max when you try to cram everything that's important into the last week with the end of the world staring you in the face. There was some insta-love, but I guess given the circumstances, anything the characters felt would be amped up, so I guess I can excuse it. And I will go back to the third person as another reason that I didn't fully feel Sienna and Owen together. I wanted to really root for them and be invested in their blossoming relationship but I just didn't quite as much as I wanted to. What I really loved though was seeing what was important--finding truth, forgiveness, and being around those you love--all showed itself in different ways in the characters. They all seem so disconnected when the story started, but I liked seeing everything coming together. Seeing how they all handled the last week, their feelings, and their lives so differently, but there are still similarities that seemed to be universal. I also was a little disappointed that Zan and Sienna's voices weren't more distinct, and again I will go back to my preference for 1st person, because I think that would have given them a greater chance to have their own personalities and for their voices to shine through. But as it was, I didn't have the smoothest transitions as it switched back and forth between their stories because I was getting details confused. Tumble and Fall really caught me at the beginning, though it did slow some for me in the middle it was still enough to keep it going. But I thought the ending was spectacular. I think that all of the elements worked together so well, and I couldn't imagine it all turning out so fitting for the story. Bottom Line: Things working both for and against it, but I couldn't put it down.
Stained - Cheryl Rainfield It had a very powerful start, putting us in Sarah's shoes, showing how it feels to have such a prominent stain on her face. She is tormented and she feels like no one gives her the chance to see who she is besides someone that is not physically perfect. I liked the dual perspective and getting to know Nick. He is nerdy and he is kind so I automatically was cheering for him even though he knew that she didn't see him like that. He saw past her face, and found her beautiful anyways. He thinks she is strong and they have a connection through comic books, he draws and she writes them. There is a lot going on with Sarah, her dad has trouble at work and while she was going to get treatments for her face, that had to be put off because of the finances. I did like her mom, and I know as a teen that had to be annoying to be constantly told your parents think you are beautiful and that it is more than physical beauty to the world. But I am glad that she is present and saying these things. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the formatting. I am not sure, it is probably a product of being an ARC (advanced reader copy) but there were "l"s missing, and some of the lines were cut off. But anyways, Cheryl Rainfield the author writes with such passion and so beautifully dark and gritty. The details of what Sarah went through weren't skimmed over, they were examined and it focused on her feelings too. I was amazed at how strong she was, how courageous and the will to survive. I also thought this story was all the more powerful because Cheryl writes from personal experience in abuse. That really touched me that she can relate with her main characters that way, that the feelings and emotions come from a very real place. And that she is able to share the stories, no matter what details are fiction and what comes from what she has experienced is a real gift. Not only to survivors of abuse or captivity that there is hope and that outlets exist for pain, but to those who haven't been through something like this to get a harrowing and realistic look at the mindset and experience of someone kidnapped, raped, and manipulated. I also rooted for Sarah so much because she was smart. Even though desperate, she used her brain and did what she needed to in order to survive for the most part. She learned from her mistakes and her pride, and she was a mental fighter. I love how she became her own hero and learned to see the beauty inside and out.Bottom Line: Powerful look of a courageous main character with a will to live.
Once We Were - Kat Zhang 3.5 I enjoyed this book and it was a pretty good middle book in a series. This one focused more on Addie and Eva as individuals since they have figured out how to go under and give the other a modicum of privacy. They both even have romances in their alone time. But they also discover how much they need each other and how they value the other's presence and input. While there was action, this was mostly character driven. Which I am down with because I love some good hints of romance and character building and growth. I liked getting to know all of the secondary characters better and the roles they play in their new life away from the institutes. What got me thought was it seemed like Eva and Addie switched, that Addie was now in control more often and really taking charge with decision making and I guess that makes sense because she hadn't for so long, but I just wanted to see more of the Addie that I was from the last time. The big struggle is how far is too far when it comes to rescuing other hybrids, and what risks are worth it. The moral and social issues with hybrids are really interesting to me, and I liked seeing how it all played out and I am somehow hoping for a happy ending for this series. The Addie and Ryan romance while not drastic was one of the things that I enjoyed most and kept me turning the pages. I will be continuing this series, and can't wait to see what happens next. Bottom Line: I liked What's Left of Me better, but still enjoyed the character development and progression in this one.
3:59 - Gretchen McNeil This idea of parallel universes, traveling in time and such have always fascinated me. Because what if I had made a different decision, what if I had more money, what if, what if, what if. And this explores that, Josie jumps at the chance to live a different version of herself. There is a lot of suspense in this one, with attacks and action right away. I connected with and felt for Josie. Her parents were going through a tough seperation and it can't be understated how hard that is. Especially since they both put her in the middle and to top it all off, her mom has been working non-stop and she just feels so isolated and alone. The science in this one really went over my head, but it seems well researched and thought out and though of course stretches the realm of possibility it is grounded in solid ideas. There is a whole other spin on this alternate universe that Josie decides to jump into and try the life of Jo. This world has monsters and they will claw and eat you if you are in the dark. But of course Jo didn't tell Josie that, and she also hid other details from her so that she is surprised while living Jo's life. The romance is interesting, and I liked seeing how nature and nurture made the parallel characters both alike and very different at the same time. I do see a difference between the two Nicks, but I still wish that I would have seen some growth with Josie that she wouldn't have based everything on a boy. I mean, I understand the hormones and attraction, but still. It was unreal how it all worked together and how it was all linked together. The worlds, the characters, the incidents that set it into motion was all crafted well. I also liked how the ending was, I was left with this sense of hope and closure. Bottom Line: Loved the premise and the characters were pretty well written.
Origin - Jennifer L. Armentrout I love everything that she writes, and Origin was no exception. I loved being back with Katy and Daemon, in their heads, in their world, and wrapped up in their steamy and devoted relationships. Though it was hard because for part of this one, they are separated. Katy sees and endures some pretty horrific things while captured, and shocking truths about the world she thought she understood. There are some very touching moments, some hot ones between the two, some very intriguing new characters, surprising twists in the plot, and of course some action. There is the usual snark thrown in and I really can't say a lot without spoilers, but if you haven't started this series, I would get on it pronto. I didn't think I would like an alien story but I have fallen head over heels for this world and these characters. The ending as usual left me open mouthed and wishing that I had Jennifer's computer so I could read the next book NOW, because I have to know more. Bottom Line: Another work of genius from Jennifer.