Thursday, December 12, 2013

The end.

It is with a heavy heart but lighter shoulders that I say good-bye to my blog today.  It's a decision I haven't come to lightly, but my responsibilities between work and home and grown to the point where I simply cannot keep up with my blog.  The thought of having to write a well-thought out review has been preventing me from reading recently.  Quite simply, I want to go back to reading for me and for fun.  This past year, my blog has unfortunately become more work than fun.

If you have been following my blog, I cannot thank you enough.  The response to Panda Reads was much greater than I ever anticipated and even though I never made it to superstar status I appreciate each and every one of you.  If you want to keep up with what I'm reading, please feel free to follow me on Goodreads.

Thank you and goodnight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Lanie Bross
336 pages
Releases: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Corinthe has been exiled from her home in Pyralis and sent to the human world.  There, under the guidance of her mentor, Miranda, she must complete several tasks before she can return home and be with her sisters.  Her tasks involve making sure people's fate turns out as they are supposed to, including making sure they are in the right place at the right time for death.  But her final task is new... she must actually kill.  Problem is, she's feeling more and more human these days and she's starting to fall for her target, Lucas.

Not gonna lie, I was drawn in by the cover of this book.  I was searching through NetGalley for something new and the blues and greens of this cover really drew me in.  The description sounded like something I would like, so I requested it.  Good job, Delacorte, for this gorgeous cover that's sure to draw readers in.

Fates really made me think about the question of choice versus fate.  Do we have free will or is everything planned out for us?  Sure we have choices, we make them every day, but are we really choosing or is the outcome already predetermined?  These are fun things to ponder, especially if you're into Philosophy - it reminded me a lot of my PHL101 class in college.  Although I spent time reflecting on this while reading, it wasn't something the author spent a lot of time on.

Like I said, Fates has a gorgeous cover, but a cover alone does not a good book make unfortunately, and I found more problems with this book than I found things to love.  What stood out the most to me was the author's writing style - it seemed simplistic to me and I noticed it a lot more in the second half of the book.  Also, I don't know if this was a formatting problem with my eGalley, but there didn't seem to be much of a distinction between scenes.  That, combined with the fast paced nature of the book, made me feel like I was on a literary bullet train.  I love fast paced novels, but it seems like the book lacked some detail that would have enriched the text.

Three stars.  There were more downsides to this book for me, though ultimately I liked it enough to give it three stars.  Fates might not have done it for me, but I can see a readership out there.  I think fans of Aprilynne Pike's Wings series would adore Fates.  If you're a fantasy or mythology fan, this one's for you.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blog Tour: The Lair (The Farm, #2) by Emily McKay

The Lair
Emily McKay
424 pages
Released: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Source: the publisher

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

NOTE: This review will contain SPOILERS from The Farm.  Proceed with caution.

Just about a year ago I read and reviewed The Farm and really enjoyed it.  It was unique and I spent most of the time while reading it on the edge of my seat, so naturally when the opportunity arose to review The Lair, the sequel to The Farm, I was all over that.  (FTC: I received a copy from the publisher for free, but that did not affect my review.)

The Lair picks up where The Farm left off - Mel is now a vampire and must come to terms with not only her new existence, but also the fact that her autism is now gone.  The world is a completely different place for her as she navigates vampirism with Sebastian - the vamp that changed her.  Meanwhile, Lily and Carter arrive at Base Camp with a very pregnant McKenna.

I was on the edge of my seat while reading The Farm and I was for most of The Lair, as well.  This fast paced follow-up is full of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.  Lily and Carter are forever trying to come up with a plan when before you know, circumstances have changed and so must their plans.  I guess it just goes to show, if you're living in a post-apocalytpic world filled with vampires and Ticks - you've got to be flexible!

Pretty much everything in The Lair was interesting to read about - there are so many things I could talk about!  Relationships are key in this series and there are two major ones that come to mind - Lily and Carter, and Lily and Mel.  Lily and Carter's romance was in high gear in the first novel, and while they are still together in the second, I didn't feel that same chemistry between them.  Maybe times are just too stressful for them to have that kind of chemistry, since pretty much everything falls on the line in The Lair.  And course - Lily and Mel who have spent all their days together until point when they are separated for the first time ever.  I admired their courage and resilience in being apart, though they never forgot about one another.

In addition, I was immediately drawn more into McKenna's story this time around since the birth of her baby as imminent.  In a world with essentially no doctors, I knew teenage pregnancy could be dangerous, but imagine trying to handle being pregnant while also fearing for life.  I can't even.  McKenna is such a quietly courageous character and I rooted her, especially in her birth scenes.

Of course, probably the most interesting part of the novel was the ending - now, obviously I cannot give that away, but there were several moments of "What?! I did not see that coming!"  The whole ending set up the scene for what I can only assume is a forthcoming third book, although Goodreads is quiet on that matter.

Four stars!  I really liked The Farm and The Lair was an impressive followup.  The only complaint I have is I wish there had been more Mel in this book, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of her in the next novel.  If you haven't started this thrilling series yet, you might want to check it out soon!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gratitude Giveaway Hop!

Thank you thank you thank you!  I love the Gratitude Giveaway Hop because it's a way to thank my followers for just that - following me!  Enter via the Rafflecopter below to win a ten dollar Amazon e-gift card.  All you have to do is follow me one way or another: GFC, Bloglovin, Networked Blogs, Twitter (@daspanda)… however you want!  Thanks so much!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Reunion Lie

The Reunion Lie
Lucy King
224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin KISS
Releases: November 19, 2013
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

On a whim, Zoe decided to attend her high school reunion despite the fact that she was bullied by practically everyone in attendance.  She thought her successful professional career would finally impress them, but instead all they care about is her love life.  On the spot she makes up a boyfriend and convinces a stranger at the bar to play the pretend boyfriend… but little does she know that Dan Forrester is more than she bargained for and soon the two are embarking on something much more real.

Ah!  It's so strange for me to get all excited over a romance novel, but I really liked this book!  I was drawn in right away and read the whole thing on one sitting, turning the page as fast as I could so I could see what was going to happen next.  It is a romance novel, so we know how it's going to end, but watching Zoe and Dan get there was so much fun, they took so many twists and turns it was like a roller coaster.  And you know I'm a sucker for romances where the girl accidentally falls in love with a famous person (Decked with Holly by Marni Bates is another great read, especially this time of year!)

What I loved the most was the way the author tied Zoe's past as a high school student in with her current life.  As a fan of YA, I really enjoyed that realistic glimpse at Zoe's past and how she was still struggling to overcome it. As we all know, Bullying is a real epidemic right now and a book focusing on the outcomes for those who are bullied will always be relevant.  Zoe didn't need saving, but it was great to see Dan's primal instincts come out when he found out about the bullying.  That's when I knew they had to be together!

A quick note about the Harlequin KISS line of books - it's a relatively new line for the publisher and I've been wanting to try them out for awhile now because they seemed so refreshing.  This is the second books I've read from the line and I've really enjoyed both.  They seem to feature independent, driven women who know how to balance their careers with love.  They also feature some pretty steamy scenes, which is always a plus, eh?

Four stars!  The Reunion Lie and the rest of the Harlequin KISS line seems like a refreshing change for the romance publisher.  I'm looking forward to reading more KISS books soon and I recommend them for those readers who like traditional romance occasionally, but are sick of the formulated plot lines.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
April Genevieve Tucholke
360 pages
Released: August 15, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Another YA book with shockingly absent parents, but Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was absolutely fantastic.  I spent most of the novel quite enthralled with the storyline.  Twins Violet and Luke live in a huge, old mansion in a small town.  Their parents are off painting who knows what in Europe. so they're left to their own devices for the summer.  Violet is reading outside one day when River West, a complete stranger, shows up to rent her guesthouse.  But soon things in town start getting strange; children claiming to have seen the devil, brandishing sticks in a cemetery; a man slits his throat and commits suicide right in the middle of town; a little girl goes missing... something's going very wrong and even though Violet thinks River has something to do with it, she's too in love to care.

Right, so how can you not be drawn in by a plot like that?  River was admittedly swoon-worthy when he's first introduced in the novel and even though it was obvious something was up with River, like Violet I just didn't care.  Their romance is front and center at the beginning of the book, and while it was insta-love, it wasn't the kind so many readers roll their eyes at.  Instead, their insta-love was an integral part of the plot because it was River who made it happen.

But soon it's not just Violet that's affected by River, it's practically the whole town and that's when I snapped out of my dreamy "I love this book because of the love!" and realized something was seriously wrong with River.  The difficult part, however, was figuring out what was wrong with River.  River is liar and it's hard to know when he's telling the truth.  So it was a bit of a relief when one of this relatives showed up to clear things up.  Meanwhile, people were dying and children were acting crazy.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a definite page turner.  If it wasn't one thing then it was another that kept me turning the pages.  Mixed in is a mystery surrounding Vi's deceased grandmother and their family history.  And if you thought all I've mentioned so far sounds crazy, just you wait until the climax of the novel!  I can't even... I was so concerned when I finished the book, I had to rush and find out if there was a planned sequel, and thank goodness there is.

Four stars!  If you love creepy book, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a must read!  It ended in such a fashion, I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel... in summer 2014.  *gulp*  What a long wait.

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From Sourcebooks....

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Right before her senior year, Savannah’s father whisks the family off to Tennessee to work as head groom at fancy Cedar Hill Farms. Savannah finally sees it as the perfect opportunity to earn extra money as an exercise rider—no matter how many others don’t want a girl around the barn.  But she’s also caught the eye of Jack Goodwin, the owner’s son. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries. With her dream of becoming a jockey, Savannah is not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack.

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A Gift for You, for Pre-Ordering RACING SAVANNAH by Miranda Kenneally

We have a special offer for U.S. and Canada YA fans for the release of RACING SAVANNAH by Miranda Kenneally in stores in a little over three weeks! If you pre-order the book, we will send you an exclusive horseshoe key chain—perfect for any busy teen on the go! You have until December 2 or until quantities run out.

Here’s how to get your charm:
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