Just One Day

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Pub­lisher: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: Hardcover, 368 pages
Series: Just One Day
Pub­li­ca­tion date: January 8th 2013


When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.



Being a huge fan of Forman's, I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard she'd be writing another 2-book story centered around a couple and told from both their POVs. I'm happy (and more than a little relieved, considering my track record so far this year) to report that Just One Day lives up to the hype, and while I had a few minor problems with the story, I still ended up immensely enjoying it.

I wasn't too impressed with Allyson at the beginning, and with "Lulu" even less. That didn't deter me from the book at all, however, because if there was one thing I was sure about getting into this, it was how Forman has a knack for making her readers become subtly yet intricately captivated by her characters and their lives. That certainly held true for Willem and Allyson, and despite those aforementioned issues I had, I'm looking forward to Just One Year with even more fervor than I did Just One Day.

There are too many unknowns about Willem for me to be 100% sure I love him, but I will say this: I am absolutely and completely in love with the Willem Lulu met and fell for. As for the rest, I'll reserve judgment until I've read Just One Year and heard his side of things.

“Who takes care of you now?”
At first I’m not sure I said it aloud and, if I did, that he heard me, because he doesn’t answer for a long time. But then finally, he says, “I take care of me.”


Willem and Allyson are simply beautiful together. The magnetic attraction between them is apparent from their first meeting and it only gets more intense as they get to know each other properly. I loved reading their dialogue and witnessing them slowly fall in love. Even knowing they'd separate after just one day, I couldn't prevent myself from becoming invested in their romance.

And that's when I understand that I have been stained. Whether I'm still in love with him, whether he was ever in love with me, and no matter who he's in love with now, Willem changed my life. He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.


The writing is dazzling with its depiction of life in Paris and the historical sites there and in neighboring countries. The setting shifts from London to Paris to America to all over Europe once again and the writing adds an almost mystical atmosphere to these well-known places. For me, this book had the feel of a revered black&white movie, despite how vibrant and colorful the story is.

Overall, this was not as good as If I Stay, nor was I expecting it to be because epic stories like that only come around once in a while. Nonetheless, Just One Day is an exquisite depiction of first love and the uncertainties, risks, and hopes that come with it. Just One Year can't get here fast enough!

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Prodigy

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

Prodigy by Marie Lu
Pub­lisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: Hardcover, 374 pages
Series: Legend
Pub­li­ca­tion date: January 29th 2013


June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

 

Prodigy was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2013. Unfortunately, it might be one of the most disappointing reads of the year as well, for the following reasons:

1. The beginning bored me to death. The recap was lacking and I felt lost reading the story for a very long time. Also, the first half was unbearably slow. I kept skimming through large chunks of the narration in hopes that the pace would eventually pick up but it took over 50% for the action to really get going.

2. The dialogue felt unnaturally stiff and the lack of communication between June and Day made me inwardly cringe more times than I can count. Their understanding does get better towards the end, but they had way too many awkward moments during the book for me to devotedly cheer them on. With these two, I'm just not sure if they're better off with or without each other.

3. Day's POV did not feel realistic at all. Truthfully, I haven't read that many young adults with male POVs, but his doesn't sound at like a teenage boy's, even one that's been through as much as he has. He was overly dramatic at times and drastically moody at others.

4. I never thought I'd say this about a Legend novel, but there's more angst in this book than action. And more surprising still, it's Day who was the angsty one. June had her moments too, but they were greatly outnumbered by Day's melodrama.

5. The love square is the most disappointing and irritating part of the book. I was so happy that Legend didn't have one that this almost feels like a betrayal. I'd become deeply invested in Day and June and their romance by the end of Legend, and now I'll be surprised if we can get a half-way decent sequel to Prodigy. I admit that Anden was unexpectedly likable, but the love square is still terrible.

That said, I predicted June would come to like Anden, but there were definitely a lot of unpredictable plot twists in here as well. Not as many as in Legend, but good enough that I didn't go through with the 1-star rating I was initially leaning towards.

The ending was certainly shocking and perhaps even heartbreaking for some, but not for me. If I'd actually cared for the characters, I would've felt a lot more anxious and a lot less detached about everything. Sadly, I was just about ready for the book to be over at that point.

Am I interested in finding out how this latest crisis resolves itself? Absolutely. Will I be anticipating the sequel half as eagerly as I anticipated Prodigy? Not even close. It was interesting while it lasted, but overall, a very disappointing sequel. Too much teenage angst and not enough action, which was pretty much the one thing that made Legend stand out amongst all the other formulaic YAs released last year.

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Trickster (Ustari Cycle #1)

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

Trickster by Jeff Somers
Pub­lisher: Pocket Books
Pages: ebook, 384 pages
Series: Ustari Cycle
Pub­li­ca­tion date: February 26th 2013


From master storyteller Jeff Somers comes a gritty new urban fantasy series starring a pair of unlikely heroes: low-life blood mages caught up in a violent scheme not of their own making.

Lem has ethics in using his magic. Therefore Lem is hungry and broke most of the time.

Ethics in the world of blood magic, however, is a gray area. While Lem will grift his way through life by using small glamours to make $1 bills appear as $20s, enabling him and his none-too-bright pal Mags to eat, he won’t use other people's blood to cast. Stronger spells require more blood, and hardcore magicians use Bleeders or “volunteers” to this end. Not Lem.

So when these down-and-out boon companions encounter a girl kidnapped and marked with magic rune tattoos, it’s not at all clear that they’re powerful enough to save her…or themselves. Turning to his estranged Master for help, it quickly becomes clear to Lem that not only is this beautiful, strange girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage had big, earth-shattering plans for her—and he and Mags just got in the way.

We were not good people.

Trickster should be turned into a movie, and Tom Hiddleston should play Lem.

I really liked this book. At first I thought I will end up DNFing it because the start was rather strange, and I thought it wouldn’t be my kind of book. But after a while, as I read on, I started to care about the characters and the story didn’t bother me anymore. On the contrary, it became extremely interesting. The characters are the strong point of Trickster. Their complexity makes them feel genuine. Oh, and the MC is more of an antihero. I likes me some antiheroes.

If you want to give Trickster a try then go ahead. But I must warn you, if you’re looking for pink clouds and mushy bears then this might not be the book for you. They call it Noir for a reason.

3.5 stars


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On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street, #1)

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Pub­lisher: -
Pages: Kindle Edition, 414 pages
Series: On Dublin Street
Pub­li­ca­tion date: August 31st 2012


Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.



Welcome to the wonderful world of ovaries, where every couple of months or so every girl who isn’t into reading romance novels will feel compelled into picking up these said romance novels and revel in their magnificence. Ok, they’re not really magnificent, but some are pretty good. Like this one, for instance.

I was in that time of the month (no, I’m not talking about my period) when I needed mush. And not any kind of mush, I needed the perfect mush. Now, I need to mention that I’m not into reading romances. I’ve tried reading some several times before, and I find it difficult to enjoy them. I need the characters to be original, and their relationships believable.

On Dublin Street offered me exactly what I wanted. It’s not the perfect romance novel, mind you, but Samantha Young managed to create a super-cute couple that managed to entertain me. A lot. And that’s saying something.

I am a bit biased in my score because I really like Sam Young’s work, so you can consider my rating more of a 3-star one. I would have given it the big 5 if Joss wasn’t such a dick at times.

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The Duchess War

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Pub­lisher: Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister
Pub­li­ca­tion date: December 8th 2012


Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.

Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly--so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

 But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match...

What an original, soothing read! The Duchess War took my completely by surprise, and I'm shocked I still recall most of what happened in it, nearly two months after I read it. Given my crappy memory, that's a sure sign I enjoyed this book.

No doubt, the greatest appeal of The Duchess War lies in the characters. I had trouble fully relating to Minnie, but there's no denying how awe-inspiring she is. After being betrayed by the one man her entire world revolved around at a young age, Minnie reconstructed her life by the help of her great-aunts and through sheer determination. Her willpower is absolutely remarkable, and the many facets of her enigmatic personality are revealed little by little as the story progresses. While I can't say I love her, I certainly came to admire her for her resilience.

Robert was simply adorable. I love how Minnie outsmarted him at every turn but he was so obviously better with emotions and completely devoted to her. There was a lot more to this book than just the romance however, and I loved reading about the workers' movement in England at the time.

The ending was practical and prefect, something that's tough to come across in historicals featuring dukes and duchesses and happily ever afters. Though a bit on the serious side, I highly recommend The Duchess War to anyone looking for a refreshingly different HR.

Favorite passage:

“You see, there’s this woman. [...] Normally, one might say that there was a beautiful woman—but I don’t think she qualifies as a classical beauty. Still, I find that when she’s around, I’d rather look at her than anyone else. [...] There’s something about her that draws my eye. Something that defies words. Maybe it’s her hair, but I tried to tell her that, and she told me I was being ridiculous. I suppose I was. Maybe it’s her lips. Maybe it’s her eyes, although she so rarely looks at me. [...] She’s clever. Every time I see her I discover that I’ve underestimated her prowess. She ties me in knots.
[...] So beat me to flinders. Win. Overmatch me, Minnie. And when we’re alone…”
His fingers touched her chin lightly. “When we’re alone,” he whispered, “look up.”

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Ten Tiny Breaths

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Pub­lisher: Papoti Books
Pages: Paperback, 262 pages
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths
Pub­li­ca­tion date: December 11th 2012


Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths, #1)Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.4/5 stars

“There’s no excuse. Only terrible consequences that people have to live with for the rest of their lives when they make one stupid decision.”

In my opinion, that's what Ten Tiny Breaths comes down to. One stupid decision and its awful consequences. And how, from something completely shattered and horrible, something gorgeous and whole can emerge.

Kacey lost her parents, best friend, and boyfriend in a drunk driving accident. She and her sister, Livie, move in with their aunt and uncle but when the uncle nearly assaults Livie, they run away to Miami and rent an apartment. There, Kacey truly comes to term with her past and learns to move on with the help of her sister and two neighbors, Trent and Storm.
“Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”

The writing is simple and gorgeous, without any excessive details. Ten Tiny Breaths is just the right length, not too long but not overly short either and with a great epilogue to boot, which wraps up Kacey's story nicely but still leaves plenty of room for Livie's. I have absolutely no complaints about the pacing of the book, everything worked for me.

The sizzling hot chemistry between Trent and Kacey is apparent from the get-go. I love how they're crazy attracted to each other from the beginning but still go through all the natural stages in a stable relationship, fighting off demons from their pasts and getting to know one another properly, before sealing the deal. The epilogue was absolutely perfect, wrapping up the book nicely but still leaving plenty of room for Livie's story.
“Forever’s a long time.”
Trent’s arms squeeze around me. “Forever’s not long enough when it’s with you.”

The character development is just amazing. I think everyone goes through it to some extent, from the main characters (Kacey and Trent), to the side characters (Storm and Livie), to even the minor ones like Tanner and Carter.
“You hate me, don’t you? You must hate me. I can’t help it. I’m broken.”
Trent squeezes me close to him. “I don’t hate you. I could never hate you. Give me your heart, Kacey. I’ll take everything that comes with it.”
I start to cry. Uncontrollably, for the first time in four years.

If I were to describe Ten Tiny Breaths in one word, it'd be forgiveness. Ultimately, that's what this book is all about, forgiving and being forgiven. If the gorgeous cover hasn't convinced you yet, I'd recommend this book for the message alone.

Extra:

After reading the book, be sure to check out the mirror scene from Trent's POV here.

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Beauty and the Bounty Hunter

 
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire, #2)

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin
Pub­lisher: Signet Eclipse
Pages: Mass Market Paperback, 300 pages
Series: Once Upon a Time in the West
Pub­li­ca­tion date: October 2nd 2012


Love and revenge both come at a price.

Cathleen Chase is no killer—but as Cat O'Banyon, she is a ruthless bounty hunter who always gets her man. Catching one lowlife after another, she continues her search for the only man she really cares to locate. The one whose voice she will never forget; the man who murdered her husband. She'll stop at nothing to find him.

Con artist Alexi Romanov taught Cat every trick she knows. He is a master of deceit, disguise, and desire. He's difficult to trust, and even more difficult to resist, but he has news she can't ignore. The man she's after has placed a bounty on her head. To get him before he gets her, she'll have to team up with Alexi again...and just like before, the two of them together are nothing but trouble.

 

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter is the first Western I've ever had the pleasure of reading and definitely won't be the last. Previously, I had no idea "Western" was actually a proper subbranch of historical romance and I don't think there could've better introduction to the genre than Beauty and the Bounty Hunter. I loved this book!

Cat's husband was murdered in front of her and she's vowed to hunt down all the thugs in the area until she finds the one who killed her husband. After making up her mind, she meets Alexi, a con artist, who teaches her everything he knows about disguises and combat. Alexi demands her body in exchange and after spending a couple of years together, they part ways, until someone puts a bounty on Cat's head and Alexi comes back into her life to help and protect her while she continues her quest for revenge.

Cat is an all-around badass. There's nothing meek or submissive about her and I loved her from the beginning. While most women would have spent their remaining days completely crushed or even committed suicide after the death of their husbands back in that era, she decided to become a bounty hunter to hunt down the man who murdered her husband instead.

Alexi Romanov is even sexier than his name suggests. As evasive as Cat is direct, Alexi's enigmatic personality balances out their romance perfectly. I adored his use of foreign endearments when addressing her. They've both been through a lot, but there's absolutely no angst in this book. Both characters manage to reshape their lives after their respective tragedies and help each other come to terms with everything that happened, all the while fighting off their current pursuers. They're simply beautiful together.

“Moya krasavitsa,” he murmured into her hair. “I will always find you. You shine like a beacon in the darkness of my world.”


The story comes together quite nicely, with the perfect balance between action and romance. The epilogue isn't too cheesy, but it still made me grin like a fool. The next book is supposed to be about Ethan and I hope we can catch glimpses of Alexi and Cat in there as well.

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter was a romantic, entertaining, and touching read throughout, one I'll be revisiting again for sure. Highly recommended for fans of historical adventures!

My Versions of Alexi and Cat:



 

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