February 28, 2015

Review ~ 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil


Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.

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I have been fascinated by alternate universes, particularly because I believe that somewhere out there is a buff, sporty version of myself wreaking havoc but that's another story.
In 3:59, that alternate universe is a scary and dark place. Josie is the reflection of people’s hidden desire to go somewhere where they are loved, popular and rich. But even that supposed paradise had a hidden dark side.

I love Josie's character because you don't see geeks as heroines these days. But, despite being a supposed genius, she was still trick in by her other self, Jo, into switching places with her. I mean come on, a popular, rich girl who seems to have it made would switch with your mediocre self? Kind of a red flag right there.

The science behind the way the alternate universe and the passage are quite sound and well researched. Although, I think the mirror bit should be a little more explained. I mean, how did that particular mirror become the only passageway to that dimension? What about other mirrors?

Plus, that explanation on where objects disappeared without explanation was switched around between worlds was enlightening. So that's where my old books went. I hope my alternate world self reads it. Or maybe not, seeing as I'm the smart, nerdy, homebuddy version.

~ Djan

What are your thoughts in this book/review? Tell us in the comments! :)

February 26, 2015

Review ~ Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard


Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army, she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had.

Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

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Graceling meets The Selection? More like Red Rising in the world of Graceling, and some of the characters are from a lot of different YA books.

There is no The Selection bit in this novel, except the royalties and the choosing for the next queen. However, where the prince in The Selection is allowed to take his own decisions into consideration, that is not the case in Red Queen, not at all. The next queen is already chosen the crown prince, even before the Queenstrial has begun. There really is more Red Rising in here than The Selection. I normally don’t compare books by their similarities, but I just can’t help it with this one.

I didn’t feel that invested in the characters, but Mare Barrow has an interesting mind. I like the way Victoria Aveyard wrote Mare, though when it came to the other characters, not so much. Mare’s “voice” has a poetic feel to it in the monologue. I enjoyed reading her thoughts, which gives off a dark vibe. I didn’t connect with the other characters, and most of them blurred into each other until I cannot see the differences in them at all.

The plot was appealing and intriguing, but I don’t know what to feel about it. I can say it’s good, but it lacks the action and intensity I am looking for. Let me tell you that this book did not make me smile even once, and the dark vibe in everything that’s happening built my anticipation for what’s coming next. But it just keeps building and the only action I saw—which is in the climax, about more or less ten pages—is not enough to do that anticipation justice. It felt like I was anticipating an exciting, adrenaline-filled hundred-foot drop but instead the drop was only five feet. That was the only disappointing thing in this book for me, but it feels like one too many.

The thing I hate the most about a book series is the questions it leaves me. I have so many, and I can’t complain that they’re unanswered because there are sequels that have yet to come and those answers might be in there. I hate it that I can’t rant in my reviews about the plot holes and confusing things—like that thing with Shade—because it might be deliberate and I might see why in the coming sequels. I hate it that I have to wait years before I can complain about what I think are plot holes.

The thing I liked best in here is the twists and turns of events, which totally deceived me. I love it that Aveyard switched the readers’ focus in other things so we cannot think much about the coming twists, which then made it unexpected. I love it that she wrote in the way that the readers will think what she wants us to think, so we will all be surprised when she drops the bomb. I love it that even though I felt like Red Queen is not too action-packed and intense for my taste, I still like it because the way Victoria Aveyard wrote it is beautiful and it didn’t give me a choice but to like it.

I would have liked to see more back-story about the Reds and Silvers and their abilities and the war—more than the more or less five pages of explanation we were given. This books is all about moving forward and thinking of the future, like the history matters very little. I also did not like that.

Red Queen felt like a mix of several different YA books, but it has its own charm that will hook you into the story and never let go even after you’ve turned the last page. It’s a novel where you will count every day left before the sequel comes out. It’s a book that demands to be read.

~ Zee

February 21, 2015

Release Blitz ~ Suspicious Minds (Fate #3) by Elizabeth Reyes

Title: Suspicious Minds (Fate, #3)
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: NA | Contemporary Romance
Release Date:  January 21, 2015
Blitz Hosted by: As the Pages Turn


Good girls cheat too.

It's a bitter reality Lorenzo Moreno knows all too well.
After his "good girl" fiancée blind sides him by cheating on him with her ex Lorenzo swears off relationships for a while, if not forever.

Until Fate steps in.

Unable to fight the incredible pull he feels to Olivia, a girl who was supposed to be just a meaningless one night stand, Lorenzo gives into his heart. But only after making one thing utterly clear. He will not deal with any exe's or other men in her life. Period.

She's not that person anymore.

For too long Olivia Romero shamefully put up with an manipulative and overly controlling boyfriend. So when fate pairs her up with the gorgeous but intense Air Force pilot she's ready to stand her ground. Cutting all ties with her ex is no sacrifice for Olivia. It's why she willingly complies with Lorenzo's uncompromising stipulation.

As their relationship intensifies so do Lorenzo's suspicions about any man in her life. Determined to not be that weak girl anymore, Olivia demands to be trusted. Despite how vehement her new boyfriend can be, her diligence seems to be working.

But when an unforeseen crisis arises Olivia is forced to make a decision. A decision she knows in Lorenzo's jaded and suspicious mind could be unforgivable.

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"Did you sleep with him?" Lorenzo asked his heart spiking despite the fact that he already knew the answer to that.


"Don't call me that!" he said loudly. "Just answer the fucking question! Did you sleep with him?"

"It's complicated."

"No it's not!" He backed away from her bed feeling the enormous ache in his heart mixed with the anger and disgust inundate him. "It's simple enough. Either you did or you didn't. Which is it?"

(Click on the book cover to be taken on the Goodreads page)


USA Today Bestselling Author, Elizabeth Reyes continues to answer to her calling on a daily basis. Since releasing her debut novel Forever Mine (Moreno Brothers #1) in 2010 she has now published 9 full length novels total and fast at work on the next. The excitement her Moreno Brothers, 5th Street, and Fate series have garnered has far exceeded her wildest dreams. It is with as much excitement that she'll continue to put out books related to these series as well as introduce brand new ones very soon.

In 2014 she will take her next step in the exciting world of writing and publish her first traditionally published book with Simon & Schuster/Atria. But she will continue putting out self-published books as well.

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February 20, 2015

Review ~ A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn


A stunning debut novel about a girl who is half dragon, half human, and wholly herself.

As the only heir to the throne, Marni should have been surrounded by wealth and privilege, not living in exile-but now the time has come when she must choose between claiming her birthright as princess of a realm whose king wants her dead, and life with the father she has never known: a wild dragon who is sending his magical woods to capture her.

Fans of Bitterblue and Seraphina will be captured by A Creature of Moonlight, with its richly layered storytelling and the powerful choices its strong heroine must make.

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A stunning debut novel about a girl who is half dragon, half human, and wholly herself.

As the only heir to the throne, Marni should have been surrounded by wealth and privilege, not living in exile—but now the time has come when she must choose between claiming her birthright as princess of a realm whose king wants her dead, and life with the father she has never known: a wild dragon who is sending his magical woods to capture her.
At a young age, I was a connoisseur of the Fantasy genre, reinforced by my wild imagination and an addiction to Harry Potter. I was always in search for that 'magical feel' where I can be lost in another world filled with endless possibilities.

A Creature of Moonlight was that fix I was looking for. Each word was magic onto itself. Rebecca Hahn wove a story so vivid that it felt like I was seeing through the eyes of Marni, as she played with the sprites, had conversations with the Lady of the Forest and shivered in awe against the presence of the mighty dragon.

The book is mostly about choices. How the world calls out to individuals to explore and be lost in the wonders. It is about how some got lost exploring those wonders, forgetting those they left behind and becoming controlled by their desires. But every once in a while there were those like Marni, who went out to see those wonders, but came back better and who never forgot what she wanted or who she was.

It tells a story about how a girl with her heart set after something and who has the courage to follow it through, can never be stop even if you’re a great big dragon.

The story is warm to the heart, made for reading on those cold, rainy nights when you decided to put down your phone, dim the lights a little and leave only a reading lamp on.

~ Djan

February 13, 2015

Review ~ Fast Track by Julie Garwood


A corrupt congressman, a mother’s secrets, and a sizzling romance ignite passion and suspense in the new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Cordelia Kane has always been a daddy’s girl—her father raised her alone after her mother died in a car crash when Cordelia was just two years old. So when he has a serious heart attack, Cordelia is devastated, and the emotion is only intensified by the confusion she feels when he reveals the shocking truth about her mother.

Cordelia can’t suppress her curiosity about the woman who gave birth to her, and when she discovers the answers to her questions lie in Sydney, Australia, she travels there to get them.

Hotel magnate Aiden Madison is Cordelia’s best friend’s older brother. He’s oblivious to the fact that she’s had a crush on him for years. When he gets railroaded into taking her along to Sydney on his company jet, he unknowingly puts her life at risk. He’s recently angered a powerful congressman by refusing to purchase overvalued land. Congressman Chambers is not a man to let such an offense slide, and he has the resources to get even and to get what he wants.

In Australia sparks are flying between Cordelia and Aiden, but multiple attempts on Aiden’s life are made while Cordelia is with him, and he realizes he must put a stop to the madness before he loses the thing he values most.


I didn’t like this book as much as I expected to, but I didn’t get bored while I was reading it.

Fast Track is fast-paced and entertaining enough, but it is lacking in the romantic, chemistry and emotional department. There is no particular moment that hooked me. This book didn’t have as much impact to me as Garwood’s previous books.

The characters are okay, the plot is okay, I liked the twist of mystery, but there’s just really nothing that stayed with me. I must say that Julie Garwood might be loosing her touch.

Still, I liked this book much more than the other romance books I’ve read recently.

~ Zee

February 06, 2015

Blog Tour ~ Dead in a Dumpster (Leah Norwood Mystery #1) by B. L. Blair (Review, Excerpt and Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop in the Dead in a Dumpster blog tour, hosted by Twin Opinions. This is only the second mystery book I've read (yes, ever!), so read on for my review, excerpt and a tour-wide giveaway. Enjoy!


When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t liked Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies.

There is Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe.  Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death.

The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder?

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Dead in a Dumpster is only the second mystery books I’ve read, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed and I actually finished it cover to cover.

I am happy to see that even though Leah Norwood is attracted to men, she did not go around swooning every time they are around. She knows her priorities. I like this woman. She’s portrayed as easy to talk to and she’s really good with people. This made her the best person to help for the investigation, though the stubborn Chief took a lot of time figuring that out.

This book is enjoyable enough, though there were some bumpy parts that I did not find appealing at all. For instance, I did not find the flow of the plot smooth. There are too many unnecessary back stories, which dampened my enthusiasm just when I was really starting to gear up. I mean, it’s great and all that Leah explained who’s who, but I found the back stories unnecessary long and not important enough for what was currently happening. I also didn’t like it that I almost immediately guessed who the culprit was, but then I have a knack for predicting culprits even though there’s no indication of who it might be. I dunno, I guess the mystery I will give a perfect rating is the one that will really make me think and never guess.

Dead in a Dumpster has a good mystery, surprising twists and turns, and likable characters. I found it to be a light read, but I will recommend it to mystery lovers.

~ Zee


 “So you found the victim about seven fifty?” asked the baby-faced young cop.
 Why was everyone so young?  The name on his badge read Keith Cisneros.  I have always been a little nervous around police officers.  I’m not sure why.  However, I couldn’t be nervous around Keith.  First, he was just too young.  Second, I didn’t have any nerves left.  I was too wet, too cold, and too miserable.  And third, I knew Keith.  Not well, but well enough to not find him intimidating.
 We were standing by the dumpster and trying not to look at Isabel.  I don’t think Keith had ever seen a dead body either because the look on his face made me think he wanted to follow in my footsteps – scream, run into the nearest building, and lose his lunch.  But the kid was made of sterner stuff.  My estimation of him rose as he held his ground and questioned me.
 “What were you doing out here?” he asked.  Okay, so my estimation of him fell a little.  I glanced at the trash bags sitting at our feet and tried to keep my voice even as I answered.
 “I was taking out the trash.”  I don’t think I succeeded as he looked at the trash and then flushed.   Now I felt bad, like I had kicked a puppy.
 “So did you …”
 “Cisneros.”  A deep, smoky voice cut through the night.  Both of us jumped and then turned toward the voice.  From the shadows, a figure emerged.  If I had any nerves left, I might have been a little anxious.  The man walking toward us moved like a stalking panther.  Smooth, long strides that ate up the space.
 He was breathtaking.  Not gorgeous or handsome but there was a power about him that drew the eye.  He wasn’t exceptionally tall, standing about five eleven, but his shoulders were broad and his hips narrow.  Dark hair cut short in a military style, covered his head.  His face was attractive in a timeless way.  Chiseled and clean-shaven but with just a hint of a five o’clock shadow.  He had a small indentation on the right side of his mouth that was trying very hard to be a dimple.  It was as if he was willing it not to appear with the strength of his personality alone.  He had intense green eyes that swept over me briefly before settling on Keith. 
 He looked familiar, but I knew we had never met.  I would have remembered him.  He stopped between us and turned to Keith.  “What have we got?”
 “Victim identified as Isabel Meeks.  Gunshot wound to the chest, close range.  She was found about seven fifty p.m. by Ms. Norwood.”
Keith pointed to me, and the man turned his eyes to mine.  His gaze swept down my body and back up.  He then dismissed me without a second glance before turning back to the rookie.  “Has the ME been called?”
 Now, I know that I am not the most attractive person in the world.  I am what most people would call average.  Average height, average weight, average looks, but being dismissed so completely really pissed me off.  I was cold, wet, tired, and quite frankly, still a little queasy.  And it had been a really bad day. 
 “Can I leave now?”
 Both of them turned toward me.  Keith seemed a little surprised that I was still there.  The other man just seemed irritated that I had interrupted him.
 “You found the body?” he asked and then continued when I nodded, “We will need to ask you some questions.”
 Keith had been asking me questions.  My nerves were shot and my temper short.  I am not usually such a bitch, but I had enough of standing out in the freezing rain.  I probably shouldn’t have mouthed off to a police officer, but I figured my day couldn’t get any worse.  I summoned up my inner diva, gave him my most haughty look, and asked in a snooty tone.  “And you are?”
 He stared at me a minute, his eyes hard and unyielding.  He raised his eyebrows just a notch, pulled out a badge, and held it toward me.  “Chief of Police Alexander Griggs.”
 Well, damn, my day just got worse.

Author Info:

B. L. Blair writes simple and sweet romance and romance/mystery stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Holton Romance Series and the Leah Norwood Mysteries. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.


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