The Modified by C.A. Kunz

The Modified by C.A. Kunz is another book on my #UtopYA2014 reading list.

15986049What would you sacrifice to save the one’s you love? To save the one who holds your heart? To save the world?

Kenley Grayson is all too familiar with these questions.

After Earth is thrust into its first intergalactic war with an unknown race called the Bringers, our military forces begin to suffer heavy losses. Desperate for a solution, the Allied Federation issues a worldwide draft for every able seventeen year old to enlist. As Kenley turns seventeen, she finds herself thrown into the very war that took her older brother’s life.

This year’s draft is a little different than in the past though. A new program, known as the Magnus Project, has been introduced, and only the best and brightest qualify. Kenley is amongst a select few whom are chosen to join this elite group of soldiers, and as a part of this project, undergoes a modification procedure that leaves her and her peers endowed with powers beyond their wildest dreams.

As Earth continues in its struggle against the Bringers, Kenley is transported to a high-tech training facility, the Magnus Academy, to prepare for the major battle that lies ahead. It’s here that she meets the California heartthrob, and son of a legendary war hero, Landon Shaw. As unexpected feelings toward Landon begin to develop, Kenley wonders if this is the right time or place for romance to bloom, especially when those feelings start to interfere with her training.

With the weight of the world on her shoulders, Kenley is constantly reminded of how important she and the rest of the Magnus cadets are to the fate of humanity. She is one of the Modified, Earth’s last line of defense against utter destruction.

The Modified had everything to be a great dystopian novel, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. I felt like there were a few key things missing that would have really put this book on the map.

First, this book was written by a Mother-Son team, which is so unique and I have to give mad props for that kind of passion and coordination. However, that may be the reason this story felt a little disjointed.

I loved the premise for this novel. The idea of a war with an alien race and recruiting the best of the best to train for battle was compelling.  I really enjoyed the different kind of powers they were given, which made for an action-packed story. The world building around the characters was spot on. It’s when you get to the relationships between the characters that it fell short.

Kenley is a strong, female heroine. The way she missed her brother who was killed in battle was a believable and heartbreaking characteristic. However, her relationship with Joey, the guy best friend, and her love interest, Landon, who were both alive, seemed too forced. For example, Joey only seemed to be in the picture if he was needed for the scene. Nothing is really done to grow his character, the reader is just informed as the story goes on. With Landon, there was no chemistry between Kenley and Landon. Their stolen kisses seemed awkwardly placed and lacked description to capture the emotion of the moment. I feel like if these relationships were better cultivated it would add a whole other dimension to the story.

I did enjoy the story itself, but I felt like an outsider looking in, not as part of the story or characters. The story had chronological momentum that had edges that needed to be smoothed to prevent the “and then..and then” type of story telling, where it always jumps to the next set of actions without stopping to check in with the feelings or status of the characters.

The Modified is the first book in a series. I’m not sure if I’ll read the next book, but we’ll see.

STARS: 3 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations:Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world. Today, I am looking forward to the release of Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

18104607The Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster phenomenon continues in the first heart-pounding new adult romance in The Maddox Brothers series.

Fiercely independent Camille “Cami” Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

In the first installment of the Maddox Brothers books, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again.

I LOVED Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. I cannot wait to read about his brothers! Plus, I’m hoping for a glimpse of  Travis. It’s really important that Jamie brings the heat with this series and I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

Whisper to Me by Christina Lee

Whisper to Me by Christina Lee surpassed any expectations I had for the New Adult genre. I instantly fell in love with her characters and Christina Lee is now on my list of all-time favorite authors.

18885666A hot and consuming New Adult romance about a wayward musician and the one girl who keeps him grounded…

At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for star athletes. No one at school knows that she’d had her heart ripped to shreds by her high school sweetheart, who’d driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle, and then abandoned her. No one knows the real Rachel Mattson—except one person…

Ever since he helped nurse his sister’s feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can’t risk letting Rachel know the truth—especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that fateful night. Never mind that Rachel’s ex is back, groveling for her forgiveness.

Shaken by her ex’s return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Kai is willing to hide his feelings for her, just to have Rachel touch him again. After all, this is only a temporary fling. Until it becomes something more. But maybe it had been more all along.

When I first started reading Whisper to Me, I didn’t realize it was the third book in the Between Breaths series but it can definitely be read as a standalone. Now, I just have some more books by Christina Lee that are readily available to put on my TBR pile! I am madly in love with this book, this series and this author. Lee gives the reader exactly what they expect from a New Adult book; there is a steamy romance, tough decisions, heartache and redemption, and relatable characters. I was blown away!

First, the sexual tension between Kai and Rachel was off the charts. The pages were practically sizzling in my hand and when things go down, Lee delivers. The chemistry between Kai and Rachel left me panting and ready for more. Lee has this amazing ability to give the reader a little taste, letting the reader fully savor it before pulling back, leaving the reader breathless. Plus, the writing seemed effortless and the responses from each character seemed genuine. This is a story that you can truly get lost in.

The story also possesses a different kind of tension — a resistance of both characters to fall in love. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking the way both Kai and Rachel tried to deny their feelings and falling into the trap of assuming the other felt differently or had different intentions. It made for a suspenseful romance, leaving the reader anticipating the next move.

I also enjoyed the growth of both characters. Kai finds himself and decides what he wants to do with his life and Rachel finally gets closure from her accident. It’s another beautiful thing about the New Adult genre; the growth of each character during those critical college years. I love, love, loved this book! It was romantic and sexy, both fun and serious. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys New Adult or steamy romances. Whisper to Me will be released on May 20, 2014.

 STARS: 5 out of 5

Thanks NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol

Next on my #utopYA2014 reading list is Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol.

12925063My name is Evie Claremont and this was to be the making of me–my freshman year of college. I’d been hoping that once I’d arrived on Crestwood’s campus, the nightmare that I’ve been having would go away. It hasn’t.
I may be an inexperienced seventeen-year-old, but I’m grounded…sane. I look for rational explanations to even the strangest circumstances. Since meeting sophomore Reed Wellington, however, nothing makes any sense. Whenever he’s near, I feel an attraction to him–a magnetic kind of force pulling me towards him. I know what you’re thinking…that sounds fairly awesome. Yeah, it would be…if he liked me, but Reed acts as if I’m the worst thing that has ever happened to Crestwood…or him. But get this, for some reason every time I turn around he’s there, barging into my life.
What is the secret that he’s keeping from me? I’m hoping that it’s anything but what I suspect: that he’s not exactly normal…and neither am I. So, maybe Crestwood won’t be the making of me, but it could be the breaking of me. I’ve been left to wonder if the dark future my dream is foretelling is…inescapable.

My first impression of Inescapable was that the writing style was a bit descriptively dense and peculiar. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what this book was about. Although, that initial confusion turned to intrigue and by the time all the facts came to the surface, I was blown away by a twist I did NOT see coming.

The story had an exciting premise with strong secondary characters. My initial pet peeve was the lack of relationship development in the beginning. Let me explain. So this book has a love triangle (oh goody!) and it’s a bizarre love triangle because it seemed a little one-sided. There was plenty of development between Evie and Reed, but Russell and Evie’s relationship started based on a single conversation and a sexy southern accent (which was a bit overdone, but I tried to look past it). However, Evie was sufficiently torn between them throughout the novel, so much so that I could feel her pain.

I always pick a side, and this time I was surprised because I usually pick the underdog (in this case Russell) but I pick Reed. He had a strength to him that made the rare moments of vulnerability adorable. Evie, as the female lead, was pretty entertaining; she was right at the cusp between independent and annoying by putting herself in danger. But ultimately, I would have done what she did making it seem more realistic. I also enjoyed the field hockey scenes. I’ve never seen Lacrosse or field hockey so it was fun to live in a preppy, private university setting for a while.

Although Inescapable had to grow on me, it was beautifully done and I thoroughly enjoyed Bartol’s characters. There is so much that has changed since the beginning that the next book will be very interesting. I’m looking forward to good things. The second book in the premonition seires is Intuition, which is already out.

STARS: 4 out of 5

Jordyn by Tiffany King

For the third book on my #utopYA2014 reading list, I selected Jordyn by Tiffany King and I was pleasantly surprised.

17225270Hand to hand combat training: Check

Cardio and strength training: Check

Daemon hunting: Check Anomaly: Check

Check, check, check, check…That’s all my life is. There’s nothing ordinary about me. I’m “special.” I know this because I’m reminded of it every stinking day. I can kick a Daemon’s ass with both hands tied behind my back. I can run up a mountain without breaking a sweat. Know what I can’t do? Get guys to notice me, or hang out with friends like normal people do. I can’t just be ordinary because I have an Arch Angel for a mentor who is always breathing down my neck, and a family of angelic Guides and Protectors who scrutinize every little thing I do. Just for a day I want a life where I’m no longer some anomaly, where I don’t have to feel like a lab rat.

And then I met Emrys. Okay, so my mentor and family hate him, but probably for good reason. After-all, he is a Soul Trader, and they aren’t the most trust worthy beings. But, he is sooo hot with his green eyes, leather jacket and the sexiest tattoo you’ve ever seen running down his back. And-he doesn’t treat me like a project. I’ve got myself in quite a little quandary here. Choosing between my responsibilities and the Trader that holds my heart is something I didn’t sign up for. Torn between two different worlds, I must now decide who to trust and who to walk away from. What’s a girl to do? See what I mean? I am an anomaly. I am Jordyn.

If I could describe this book it would be simplistic with nothing but the good stuff. The plot was simple with a twist at the end but Jordyn’s lack of memory still kept the reader interested in who Jordyn really is. This is the first novel I’ve read by Tiffany King, but I could tell right away that the secondary characters were more than they appeared; I later figured out that they were the main characters in her previous series, The Saving Angels (which I am putting on my TBR list).

The main character, Jordyn, is a badass. It’s no secret that I love heroines that kick ass, and Jordyn even had a witty, sarcastic tone. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t portrayed as a “dumb” teenager, because it could have easily gone there. I think if she hadn’t willingly gone with Emrys the first few times he popped into the situation, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. However, she seemed smart and capable, which is something I look for in a good Young Adult heroine.

My favorite part of this whole book was Emrys, the male love-interest. He was smoking and I’m not even talking about his tattooed, leather jacket-wearing exterior, I’m talking about the sizzling dialogue that took the scene from lukewarm to scorching in a split second. It was the kind of dialogue that required a glass of cold water poured over your head to cool you down. (Let me remind you that this is Young Adult so you will be left wanting!) The interchange between Emrys and Jordyn was so well done. Emrys hit all the elements of a sexy male lead without being cheesy or predictable.

I felt like the book ended right when it was taking off so I’m really looking forward to reading the second book in the Daemon Hunter series, Jordyn and the Caverns of Gloom. Based on this one book, Tiffany King has made it to my authors to watch (and read) list. She delivered a smart heroine and a sizzling love interest with an intriguing plot and an enjoyable writing style — this book deserves all five stars.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world. Today, I am anticipating the release of K.A. Tucker’s Five Ways to Fall, which comes out Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

18170583Purple-haired, sharp-tongued Reese MacKay knows all about making the wrong choice; she’s made plenty of them in her twenty-odd-years. So when her impulsive, short-lived marriage ends in heartbreak, she decides it’s time for a change. She moves to Miami with the intention of hitting reset on her irresponsible life, and she does quite well…aside from an epically humiliating one-night stand in Cancun with a hot blond bouncer named Ben. Thank God she can get on a plane and leave that mistake behind her. Football scholarship and frat parties with hot chicks? Part of charmer Ben Morris’s plan. Blown knee that kills any hope of a professional football career? So not part of the plan. Luckily Ben has brains to go with his knockout looks and magnetism. After three long years of balancing law school with his job as a bouncer at Penny’s Palace, he’s ready to lead a more mature life—until his first day of work, when he finds himself in the office of that crazy, hot chick he met in Cancun. The one he hasn’t stopped thinking about. If Ben truly were a smart guy, he’d stay clear of Reese. She’s the boss’s stepdaughter and it’s been made very clear that office romances are grounds for dismissal. Plus, rumor has it she’s trouble. The only problem is, he likes trouble, especially when it’s so good-looking…

This is the fourth book in the Ten Tiny Breaths series, and I’ve only ever read the first book, Ten Tiny Breaths, but I fell in love with K.A. Tucker’s writing style and I will be devouring the rest of her books soon. I am so looking forward to reading Ben’s story.

Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis

Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis is the second book on my #utopYA2014 reading list. I haven’t even gone to the conference yet, and I already love it because I’ve been exposed to authors I may not have ever heard of. Quinn Loftis is one of them and just based on this first book, I can tell she’s going to be one of my favorites.

11947156 Jacque Pierce was just an ordinary 17-year-old girl getting ready to start her senior year in high school in Coldspring, Texas. When a mysterious foreign exchange student from Romania moves in across the street, Jacque and her two best friends, Sally and Jen, don’t realize the last two weeks of their summer are going to get a lot more interesting.

From the moment Jacque sets eyes on Fane she feels an instant connection, a pull like a moth to a flame. Little does she know that the flame she is drawn to is actually a Canis lupis, werewolf, and she just happens to be his mate; the other half of his soul.

The problem is Fane is not the only wolf in Coldspring, Texas.

Just as Fane and Jacque are getting to know each other, another wolf steps out to try and claim Jacque as his mate. Fane will now have to fight for the right to complete the mating bond, something that is his right by birth but is being denied him by a crazed Alpha. Will the love Fane has for Jacque be enough to give him the strength to defeat his enemy, will Jacque accept that she is Fane’s mate and complete the bond between them?

Prince of Wolves was so amazingly delicious. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Told in two alternating perspectives between Fane, Romanian prince of the grey wolves, and Jacque, normal teenager girl, this story was exciting, romantic and consisted of all things were.  When Fane comes to town as a foreign exchange student and instantly connects with Jacque, nothing will ever be the same. However, when another wants to claim Jacque for his own, things get real.

Full disclosure: I love werewolves and stories about werewolves. (I am and forever will be Team Jacob.) Plus, with the whole male bonding and fighting another alpha over the girl, the book practically had my name on it. The best part is it was everything I had hoped it would be and I absolutely loved it.

First, I loved that Jacque and Fane had an instant connection which started off with witty banter back and forth, but it wasn’t insta-love, which is such a breath of fresh air. Even though their relationship seriously progressed in a matter of a week, it was wonderfully paced and realistic in the ups and downs of Jacque meeting her soul mate, who just so happens to be a werewolf and for reasons beyond her knowledge MUST complete the bonding ceremony STAT. That’s enough to make any girl go crazy, but it was super exciting to watch.

Second, Jacque’s two best friends were awesome. Their hilarious comments and funny barbs were so entertaining. I also loved the representation of true friendship, which is often seriously overlooked in paranormal romance. I foresee more from these secondary characters in this series.

Finally, all I can say is I loved it. This book had me grinning from ear-to-ear, swooning over a Romanian Prince, and laughing out loud. It was so much fun to read and so addictive. I immediately started the second book, Blood Rites, after finishing this book because I had to have more.

If you’re into paranormal romance, love werewolves or just love a good normal-girl-falling-for-a-prince plot, this book is for you.

 STARS: 5 out of 5