Shine Not Burn, by Elle Casey

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A review by:  Terri Kinckner

I will start out by saying that yes, Elle Casey is my favorite author. She writes amazing YA books and although I’m almost 40 years old, I will buy and devour each book the day it is released. That being said, I usually HATE romance books! I’m not sure why, except that maybe they gave me unrealistic expectations of what love was when I read them as a teenager. I now know that romance novel-type love is possible (although not nearly as perfect), but I still can’t bring myself to read romances…until now.

Elle has a knack for creating strong female characters with just enough flaws to make them endearing and believable. Andie is no exception! I loved her from the very start! I could relate with her childhood, and I even understood her need to create a life plan and stick to the script. I was absolutely shocked when she went to Las Vegas and threw that plan out of the window, if only for one night. I actually high-fived my kindle for that one! Of course, if I ever came across a Mack in real life, I’d certainly put my life plan on hold, too!

Speaking of Mack… I just ignored the last three letters of his name and named him Mmmm. It fits! I love nothing more than a sweet, honest and HOT country boy (I’ve got one myself). Mack is the kind of man that loves completely, hurts deeply, and knows exactly what he’s doing under the sheets. For a country boy, he’s also well-educated, which surprised Andie. The personalities of these two characters fit each other like a glove! It was a perfect balance of strengths and weaknesses.

I absolutely adored Mack’s family. I wanted to find them and invite myself to dinner! The love in that household, and the way Maeve kept all of those men in line and managed to do it so gracefully, made me smile. Even Boog, the “man bear pig” brought a smile to my face. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, just because Elle wrote a romance book does NOT mean that she isn’t going to fill it with her wonderful colorful banter and unique expression. This book has Elle written all over it and there were moments that had me laughing out loud, grabbing for tissues and sobbing, and even fanning myself while debating whether I should put the book on hold and go spend time with my “Mack” or not.

I read this book in almost one setting. I would have, had I not brought a bottle of wine out to my deck with me to read under the stars. That book was distracting… I kept refilling that glass until the bottle was empty! Although I usually am not a fan of romances, I will not hesitate to read more of this genre…as long as Elle writes it!

I give this book 5 holy hot wow stars out of 5!

Duality: Vol 1, Melancholia by Elle Casey

 

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon:  Malcolm’s had a problem for as long as he can remember. No matter where he goes or what he does, he leaves misery in his wake. Sadness and negativity are his constant companions, influencing others around him until they cannot bear to live.

But then Rae shows up in his life, and everything changes. Darkness cleaves to light. Anger yields to joy. The question is whether she’ll be his salvation or his destruction.

DUALITY is a 3-book Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Romance. Volume 1 will be published April 30, Volume II May 31, and Volume III June 30, 2013.

My take:

This book was so different than any books of Elle’s I’ve read before, but it’s still Elle! I loved it! The characters were amazing (as usual) and their banter had me laughing SO hard through most of this book! Jazzy was by far my favorite character… who knew a “neutral” could be so awesome? Rae and Malcom were remarkably wonderful, considering their “gifts” (curses?). I just wanted to hug them both! I think I’d be a miserable rainbow, but hey… maybe they’d feel better! I’m not sure I’d be nearly as well adjusted as they were! They still had their fair share of teen angst and were written as such so accurately. I often wonder if Elle hides out in high schools listening to the interaction, because she is always so spot on! Kootch was hysterical, his and Jazzy’s conversations had me belly laughing and at the same time, I wanted to knock both of their heads together for not seeing the chemistry that was between them!

Speaking of chemistry… the chemistry teacher Holder and his lackey Derek were ultra creepy. Not only was their behavior creepy, Holder had a comb over. Gross AND creepy! I’m very interested to see exactly why they are after Rae, and what their game is! All in all, I loved this book. It’s unique, witty, scary at all the right places, romantic without being sappy, and had a cliffhanger ending! You all know how much I love those…seriously, I do!

I give this 5 rainbow stars out of 5!

Apocalypsis: Book 4: Haven, by Elle Casey

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A review by Terri Kinckner

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest and fair review. Any review I can do providing detail will be nothing but spoilers, so I will not. This final book was incredible! I gave the previous books in this series a five star rating, and if I could, I’d give this book ten!

When you get to know a group of characters like you do when reading a series, they become your family. Everyone wants their family to have a happy ending. There were plenty of those, but not without their fair share of heartbreak and loss. This post-apocalyptic America was so believable, these characters so unique and diverse, that one can’t help but be drawn into this world themselves. These young people are adjusting to their new life, and finding ways to make it better. Bryn has transformed. We all knew she was tough and rational and hilarious, but it was really nice to see her mature and let her kindness show. I laughed and cried with her (A LOT) during this book, and held my breath in the tense situations. I loved that she wrestled with her guilt, and chose honesty over the easy way out. Bodo has grown a lot in this series as well. Looking back to the first book, the change in them both is evident, and for the better. I am going to miss them both immensely! I’m sad that I won’t get to know Jackson and his sister better. They were a really cool addition to the book!

The “canners” in this book got even more horrible. They were vicious, heartless killing machines, and they truly scared me. I forgot that they were humans, let alone kids! On the subject of gore, being a post-apocalyptic world, they had a lot of unpleasant things to do. These scenes turned my stomach, but they were integral to the book and frankly, written extremely well! The combination of horror and characters that you absolutely forget are fictional is an amazing combination.

The book did NOT end the way I thought it would. I knew Elle couldn’t end the series on a cliffhanger (that would be so mean!), so I was prepared for her to find a way to stun us in the end. She sure delivered! Oddly enough, it’s not the ending I imagined, but it was perfect. At first, I literally yelled “NO!”, but by the time I finished the last page it seemed that there was no other way for it end.

I only have one gripe, and that is with the epilogue. Five years later. This tied up the entire story…almost. I loved it, but I wish I knew what happened to a certain someone that left Haven. I don’t want to spoil the story by giving a name, but man… I really wish I knew what the future held for them! I am now forcing myself to let these characters go, but even just typing that brought tears to my eyes. This is definitely a series I’ll keep reading over and over again!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars (and a tissue rating of one whole box…sniff sniff, I’ll miss you!)

Aces High, by Elle Casey and Jason Brant

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A review by Terri Kinckner

I consider myself insanely lucky to have gotten this book to read as a beta. I’ve been a big fan of both Elle Casey and Jason Brant for a while now, and LOVE interacting with them as they insult one another on Facebook. That being said, when it comes to beta reads, I’m tough, impersonal, and fair.

This story had me hooked by the very first paragraph. One can not simply walk away and leave this book to read more later. This is a one sitting, marathon, fly by the seat of your pants ride! Being so familiar with both writer’s styles, I could tell who wrote what parts, but they meshed so perfectly. This book is a work of art!

Charlie has been in foster home after foster home her entire life. Now, at 18, she is on her own and has the street smarts to survive. Normal rules don’t apply to Charlie. She is bold, smart, funny, and has the quickest wit of any of Elle’s characters to date (that is saying a lot!) She gets by beating old men in poker in the basement of a Chinese restaurant. When she catches her across the hall neighbor, Douglas, peeking into her keyhole, Charlie does what she does best. A shock and awe type confrontation ending in a meal of eggs and an unlikely partnership. (Huh? Yeah, I know, but it makes sense once you read it, I swear!)

Douglas is a recently expelled college student. He was expelled for hacking into his teacher’s computer for all the right reasons. He wasn’t ready to tell his mother and decided to spend some time living in his deceased author father’s apartment, living off of his father’s royalties until he could work up the nerve to tell her. Too late. She found out, wiped out his accounts and evicted him, literally leaving him homeless and broke. His only hope to make enough money was partnering with Charlie to catch fugitives and collect the reward money. With him as the brain, and her as the brawn, what could possibly go wrong? Jason Brant wrote this character incredibly well. Douglas is insanely smart, awkward, germaphobic, and exactly just enough wit to compete with Elle Casey’s Charlie. A perfect match! The evolution of their partnership into friendship, and the trust that it required was really heartwarming.

The story itself is flawless, the characters so real that I completely forgot I was reading a book. That is what seals it for me, I HAVE to be emotionally involved enough in the story that I forget that I’m turning pages and reading words. This book did this for me! I laughed out loud (not recommended for reading in a place where hysterical bouts of laughter are not acceptable), I shook my head at the decisions these youngsters were making, cheered them on, and when I got to the supernatural twist, I was floored. This is something I’ve never read about, but always wondered about. I won’t divulge more information, you’ll have to get the book and find out yourself! I also learned a whole plethora of new insults that I’ve already tried on my co-workers. You can never go wrong with Casey/Brant insults!

If it were possible to give more than five stars, I’d give…like…elevendy seven! I am so looking forward to the next book in this series. (YAY! It’s not going to end!!!)

I give this book 5 stars out of 5 (a royal flush, of course!)

Reckless (Wrecked, #2) by Elle Casey

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A review by Terri Kinckner

I waited a long time (for Elle Casey standards) for this book, and it was definitely worth the wait! I would have devoured the book in a matter of hours had it not been for that irritating real life thing that I have to do sometimes. After reading Wrecked, I was really hoping there would be a sequel because I grew to love those kids. In fact, I have a 19 year old son named Jonathan that I could swear was the Jonathan in this book, with the brainiac stats and physics spouting.

I wasn’t sure exactly how Elle was going to make the second book as exciting and soul-searching as the first one, but she blew any expectations I had out of the water… literally! These four characters have really grown into wonderful, smart, incredibly decent young adults. It’s really nice to see young characters grow without all of the typical drama in YA books. This drama was far more real and dangerous than petty high school stuff, and made for a much better story! After their rescue from the drug dealers on the island in the book Wrecked, they face a new threat from the organization when waiting to testify. That’s all I really want to say because I don’t want to give away any spoilers!

I experienced the entire gamut of emotion in this book, from heart-warming, to laughter, to fear, to gut wrenching sadness. This is a great story (and series) for everyone to read, from teenagers to adult! I will be recommending this book and Wrecked to every bookworm I know! (as I usually do with Elle’s books)

My personal message to Elle: You’re batting a thousand woman!!! Oh, and the shout out to mullet head at the end of the book gave me a chuckle, too!

I give this book 5 out of 5 carefully calculated stars!

Portal Guardians (Clash of the Otherworlds #3) by Elle Casey

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A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon website:

 

–The Final Installment of the Clash of the Otherworlds Series–

The fae assigned by the council, shadowed by Jayne the elemental and Spike the incubus, journey to the Otherworlds, seeking the portal guardians. An epic journey filled with danger, adventure, and revelations that even the most ancient fae do not expect.

** This books contains foul language, violent battle scenes, and non-explicit mature situations that may not be suitable for middle grade readers (younger than 15). **
My take on this book:

Jayne and her fae friends will be missed! This was an epic ending to two wonderful series’. This book had a lot of loose ends to tie up, and I wasn’t sure if Elle could do it in one book, but the master has accomplished the impossible… wonderfully done!

Thinking back to the very beginning of the War of the Fae series, I’ve realized Jayne has come a long way. She’s always been awesome, but now she has grown into an awesome leader with an even bigger heart. Despite all of her colorful language (which I loved about her), she is a great role model. I love that she always wanted to do the right thing for everyone when she could have easily taken the opposite route.

I was happy to see who she ended up with in the end… it’s who I liked from the very beginning! (Yay me, for getting my way!) I don’t like spoilers, so I won’t say who it is. In this book, she became quite mature. She was able to put her personal feelings aside and really look at a situation, which in the end, was a real blessing. Jayne truly had a ton of people that finally “got” her. I was relieved to see that she had so many friends and family that loved her.

The very end of the book ended in a very nice way. I was so used to cliff hangers with these two series’, and it was refreshing to be stunned by an ending that wasn’t leaving me wondering what was next! I am looking forward to the epilogue because, well… I’ve come to feel like these characters have become family to me, and I’ll never be able to totally let them go!

I give this book 5 badass stars out of 5!

 

And now the Epilogue:

I read the epilogue yesterday… was so excited for it to be released!  I was thrilled with the way things ended.  One last game of spider nakies, more Beckie and Finn, one last visit from Chase,  gassy Tim and his shellacked-hair awesomeness, and of course, Jayne and Spike!  It was as if Elle Casey heard me say “No guys, don’t go… you can’t leave me yet!” and let them all come back for a final encore.  I’m going to miss them!  Wait… I can just read them all over and over and over……..

I give this epilogue 5  stars out of 5!

Apocalypsis Book 3: Exodus, By Elle Casey

A review by Terri Kinckner

Book description from Amazon

APOCALYPSIS is a 4-book, YA Post-Apocalyptic series: Book 1, KAHAYATLE; Book 2, WARPAINT; Book 3, EXODUS; Book 4, HAVEN (coming 2013)

EXODUS
My name’s Bryn Mathis. I’m seventeen years old, and my world has been turned upside down and inside out. I’m racing towards a future I cannot control.

I thought I had everything worked out, but then things changed. I thought we were all cut off from one another, but it turns out, we’re not.

They say people are talking, and word about me and what I’ve done is spreading like the virus that wiped out millions of people, leaving us teens alone to fend for ourselves. And depending on who you are, and what you eat for dinner, I’m either your salvation or your target.

**Contains violence, some foul language, some drugs, and non-explicit sex scenes. This series is in the DARK SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR/POST-APOCALYPTIC genres, featuring teen characters only. May not be suitable for younger/middle-grade teens.**

What I thought:

Brilliant!  I hurried right from book two to book three, and finished the book in a matter of hours.  I couldn’t pull myself away, no matter that it is Thanksgiving and I have tons to do.  Thanksgiving could wait!

At the end of book two, I was worried about Bodo.  He has become one of my favorite characters in this series.  I was happy to see that issue resolved… I was a little worried that Elle would make me wait until the end of the series to find out what happened to him, and I probably couldn’t wait until 2013 to know!

I love the friendship that Bryn and Winky have, their personalities are so similar, yet they keep each other grounded.  The new characters kept the story fresh, and I always love the way Elle creates her characters.  I have no idea how she can make each character’s dialogue, mannerisms, and personalities so unique and different from the others!

I knew it!!! That’s all I’m going to say about Peter and his personal life.  This development made me happy!  His character is so different from any character in Elle’s books.  It’s a wonderful step outside of the norm, and I absolutely ADORE Peter!

The people this group encounter while on their exodus were really interesting.  It gave me a feel for the emotional state of all of the survivors of this virus.  It was also heartwarming to see other groups out there that were trying to create a world worth living in, too.

Finally, the “waystation” with Sissy and Jimmy is really starting to be a great thing.  I hope these two characters are seen in book four!  From the Cracker Barrel, to the Everglades, to a prison;  who needs telephones and internet when you have a messaging network like they do!

I honestly couldn’t put this latest book down.  When my kindle battery died, I switched to reading it on my computer, then back again when it was charged.  I even read while I showered (don’t ask!). It’s really hard to write a review for this book without giving away crucial elements of the story, and I want everyone to enjoy the book as much as I did without any spoilers.

I give this book five stars out of five!