“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Vincent Brothers

Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that I’m eagerly anticipating.

I’ve been out of the WoW world for the last few weeks due to vacations and computer problems, so forgive me if I’m posting something that you’ve seen a dozen times already. I read The Vincent Boys a few months ago, and completely and irrevocably fell in love. I love this author’s voice, and while I’m so happy The Vincent Boys ended the way it did, I was sad that Sawyer was left with nothing. Thank you Abbi Glines for giving us his story, because the good guys need their happily ever after just as much as the bad ones.

Abbi Glines

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult (New Adult?)

He may have given her up without a fight, but Sawyer Vincent is far from over losing the girl he’s loved all of his life. Instead of giving up his best friend and the girl he thought he’d spend forever with, he gave Ashton and his brother Beau his blessing. However, adjusting to seeing Ashton wrapped up in Beau’s arms isn’t easy. Complicating everything even more, Ashton’s cousin Lana is in town for the summer. Sweet, kind, soft-spoken Lana, who gets under his skin. Just being near her makes him forget all about Ashton and his broken heart. Lana is everything he wanted Ashton to be except she isn’t Ashton. She lacks the backbone to stand up for herself and confidence that Ashton wears like a crown.

Lana McDaniel has lived her life in her cousin’s shadow. While Lana struggled with her grades no matter how hard she tried, her mother praised Ashton’s intelligence. She hadn’t been blessed with Ashton’s blond hair and flawless skin, but that didn’t keep her mother from lamenting her naturally red hair and freckles. But none of that would have mattered if Ashton hadn’t always had Sawyer Vincent wrapped around her finger — the only boy Lana wanted. Once Ashton let Sawyer go, Lana had been so sure that he’d move on. Determined to make Sawyer finally see her, she’d talked her mother into letting her spend the summer with Ashton. But Sawyer is still in love with Ashton, and Lana isn’t going to be anyone’s rebound girl. No matter how yummy Sawyer Vincent’s kisses taste.

Goodreads Summary

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Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4)

Stacia Kane

Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Publication Date: Mar 27, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Netgalley

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Goodreads Summary

I didn’t pick this seris up until the third book, City of Ghosts, was already out. I distinctly remember searching through my GR friend’s favorites lists, looking for something new to read. I was in the mood for something a little dark, a little gritty and almost everyone who recommended this series described the books using those exact words. It was meant to be. I originally thought the series was supposed to stop at three books, and I was thrilled when I found out that Stacia Kane would continue on with Chess’ story.

As as a Debunker for the Church, Chess has been assigned to some strange cases in her career. This is the first case, however, that she’s been given that now has the previous investigator on the run. But, whatever, Chess is a professional and is good at her job so she accepts the case. It isn’t until after she opens the file that she discovers the case is on the other side of town, in the heart of Slobag’s territory, the rival crime lord.

Meanwhile, Chess is summoned by her drug dealer, Bump (the Man in Charge over her part of town), to investigate an arson that took place in one of his supply buildings. This isn’t any ol’ arson though, since it covered up an even more sinister event – a ritual sacrifice. This kind of dark magic may not be her forte, but as Bump’s unofficial Churchwitch, she really has no choice but to say yes. Chess is getting hit from all sides as she pursues leads for both cases, and has frequent run ins with Lex which causes a bit of tension between her and Terrible. Not only because Lex is her former lover, but Bump has a snitch and Chess is very afraid Terrible might suspect her.

Chess isn’t your typical heroine. She’s a drug addict, and her level of self worth is non-existent. The only area where she has any confidence in her abilities is her work for the Church. She knows she’s a good witch, and she’s worked dang hard to be that way. While the majority of the book focuses on the mystery of her cases, it’s also about the growth of this one very flawed individual. Chess grew up in foster homes, and has never been loved before by anyone. She honestly feels like she doesn’t deserve it either. She and Terrible are trying to navigate this relationship, and she is consantly worried that the bottom will drop out, and Terrible will realize she is nothing and leave her. Being apart of a relationship for Chess isn’t easy, but I love her all the more for sticking it out and doing the best she can.

Chess’ character is one of the main attractions of the series for me. I never, in a million years, would have thought I’d come to care so much for a character like her. It’s a fascinating thing to be in her head. The self-loathing aside, the glimpse into what it must be like to be a drug addict is particularly interesting. She knows exactly how many pills she can take or lines she can snort before it becomes too much. I wonder where the author is going to take her addiction. Will Chess continue to use drugs as an escape, or will she continue to grow as a person and in her relationship with Terrible and kick the habit?

As a side note, I love how Terrible loves Chess despite the constant pill popping. I also love how Terrible wants her, not just her body or her witch talents. Mostly I just love Terrible. He’s so solid and strong and perfect for Chess.

My Summary: Stacia Kane doesn’t disappoint with Sacrificial Magic. I’m so happy to be back in the Downside world with Chess and Terrible. I love both of their characters, and I can’t help but hope for their happily ever after. Thankfully I have the next book already downloaded on my Kindle, so it won’t be such a long wait this time to find out what happens with them next!

My Rating: A+

Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2)

Because of LowBy Abbi Glines

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased

Marcus Hardy had hoped to enjoy a year away at college while he put the summer he’d rather forget behind him. But instead, he’s jerked right back to the coastal town of Sea Breeze, Alabama due to a family crisis. His dear ol’ dad found himself a girlfriend only a few years older than Marcus. So now his sister needs help dealing with their mother who is mentally falling apart. The only bright spot to returning is the fascinating red head who sleeps over several times a week. The problem is she’s sleeping in bed with his new roommate, Cage Watson.

Willow “Low” Foster needs a place to live. Running to Cage’s apartment every time her sister kicks her out isn’t exactly a long term solution. Juggling her courses at the local community college and a part time job doesn’t produce excess income. But Cage has a new roommate and suddenly sleeping over at her best friend’s apartment isn’t such a bad thing. Not when she gets to see those sexy green eyes of Marcus Hardy’s twinkle when he smiles at her like he wants her there.

Even though Cage seems a little territorial where Low is concerned, Marcus finds time to spend with Low without upsetting his roommate. Cage may use his small college baseball star persona to sleep with every hot female in his path but he’s still under the disillusion that when he’s through sowing his wild oats, he’s going to marry Low. Marcus intends to change that assumption for both Cage and Low. Until his carefully laid plans come crashing down with a revelation he never expected. He’ll have to choose between Low or his family. Because once the truth comes out…. there’s no other choice.

Goodreads Summary

This was the first time I’d read anything by Abbi Glines even though I have a couple of her books on my Kindle waiting for me to get to them. After finishing this, I moved them to the top of my leisure-reading TBR pile because if they’re anything like it they’ll be worth getting to faster.

Low Foster has a track record of being left by everyone in her life – her father, mother, low-life sister who kicks her out of her house on the nights she isn’t babysitting her niece – everyone that is, except her lifelong friend Cage. He’s fanatical about being there for her, including making sure she stays with him when her sister kicks her out. When his new roommate Marcus is attracted to her and Low wants to try a relationship with him, he warns her that everyone leaves her except him. Rich boy Marcus is out of her league and will hurt her and Cage will be around to pick up the pieces.

Holy cow. I honestly can’t remember what the last book was that I cried so much through. I checked the progress bar on my Kindle and I started at 59% and counted when I was done and had gone through 8 tissues. This book seriously wiped me out. I actually had to lie when my son wanted to know what was wrong with me – I told him I was reading a book and a bunch of people died because I didn’t want to tell him that I was crying because a girl was having a panic attack because she thought a friend was leaving her.

The narration flips between Marcus and Low and it definitely makes it more emotional to read. I really fell in love with Low who had this horribly battered heart but managed to love Cage, Marcus and her niece so fiercely. She wasn’t perfect – she got jealous and did things that were kind of silly and for someone her age, she was unbelievably sexually naïve. She just felt very real, from the way she spoke to the way she acted. I’d want her for a friend.

Both Marcus and Cage were pretty wonderful (although Cage being a man-slut sort of made him less adorable, you know?). Marcus made a number of mistakes with Low, some worse than others but they were slightly explainable if not excusable. His story is a little more divided than Low’s because he’s also dealing with his family so while she’s thinking of him almost the whole book, he’s involved with her for only about three-fourths of it. It sets up a very painful section of the book later, one that I’m estimating accounted for three tissues.

There are references to sex and a couple of sexual situations but nothing explicit. Low is a virgin and I really couldn’t tell you if she still is at the end of the book or not because it isn’t described.

I’d love to see Preston or Cage’s book next! I know Cage seems pretty irredeemable but he’s such a sweetheart really, he needs a nice girl to set him straight.

My Summary: I ended up reading this twice before writing this, because it was just that good and because I was trying to actually gather some coherent thoughts about it. This reminded me quite a bit of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, but without all of the controversy. Marcus and Low weren’t as explosive as Travis and Pidge, but the intensity of the relationship was there and I know I cried at least as much. If you read YA/New Adult romance, I’d buy it for you if I could – that’s how hard I recommend this one.

My Rating: A

Graffiti Moon

Graffiti MoonBy Cath Crowley

Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: February 14, 2012 (original pub August 1, 2010 in Australia
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Source: Purchased

“Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”
It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Goodreads Summary

It’s graduation night and friends Lucy, Jazz and Daisy are determined to have an adventure. Daisy’s occasional boyfriend Dylan (when she doesn’t want to kill him) claims to know the infamous graffiti artist Shadow and his narration sidekick, Poet. Lucy leaps at the chance to search for them. She’s been stalking Shadow for over a year, sure that if she can find him, he’ll be the ying to her yang, definitely do-able. Dylan comes attached to friends Leo and Ed though – generally not an issue since Jazz sort of has the hots for Leo. It’s a problem for Lucy and Ed though, since she broke his nose after a disastrous date in the tenth grade and his nose is about the only thing that’s been mended.

The guys reluctantly agree to Dylan’s plan – very reluctantly for two highly secret reasons. Ed is Shadow and Leo is Poet and after midnight, they’re going to break into the high school to steal some stuff to pay back a loan shark that Leo borrowed some money from. It’s not exactly something you take a date on but Dylan convinces them all that Shadow and Poet will be at a house party and the guys that it’ll all be over before they have to be somewhere else. When they get there, the three couples end up separated and Ed and Lucy end up leaving on their “search” for Shadow alone.

Sometimes when a story is told in alternating first-person narration it can be annoying, but or awkward but it was so perfect here, there were places I wanted to page through faster to get to either Lucy’s or Ed’s perspective. Their home lives and feelings about their futures were total opposites but as the night went on, they connected through art, the one thing Lucy’s always been sort of snobby about. The more Lucy sees Ed in the graffiti he paints (although she’s still too blind to figure it out), the less he wants to show her – and the more determined she is to find more of it. Sort of like a mom.

Technically, the story is a three person narration, since between Lucy and Ed’s chapters are poems from Leo. I think Lucy put her finger right on it when she asked Ed if he thought Leo/Poet was a poet or social commentator and he didn’t know. They’re a nuanced mix and can be taken either way although some are clearly about love or romance. Leo himself comes across as someone who doesn’t take things very seriously or is at least a little irresponsible and the poetry adds something big to him. Lucy’s friend Jazz is psychic (seriously sort of proven to be!) and if she can see the good in Leo, then there must be a future that works out for him.

So much is packed into the story it’s hard to believe it all takes place in one night. There are a lot of flashbacks, mostly to Ed’s life that’s been a series of struggles that he uses his graffiti to express and Lucy spends the night unmasking. Lucy’s studying to become a glass-blower and there are some gorgeous descriptions of the process, pieces and some artists. The whole book is littered with references to art as Ed and Lucy get to know each other, this time without the broken nose.

I don’t even know what to say about everything else in the book except that it was so much fun to read. I loved Lucy and Ed’s friends – Jazz was funny with her psychic predictions that always managed to come true and that she fiercely ignored Lucy’s pleas to get her away from Ed. Daisy was so cute because she was always furious with Dylan but would never tell him why leaving him clueless but still following her around and even when someone told him what he’d done wrong he still managed to bungle things. Some guys really need an instruction manual about how to handle girlfriends. The little subplot about what Leo did to need money from a loan shark and everyone trying to dodge him was always there as was the question of why Lucy’s dad was living in the shed.

My Summary: This started out pretty slow – almost slow enough that I thought about putting it down which is almost unheard of for me. I really would have kicked myself since it ended up being a book I’ll reread. The unexpectedness of Ed’s indecision through the entire story was a realistic addition that made it even more interesting and I wanted to read faster, get into his head more and figure out what he was going to do. I’m so glad this got picked up for US distribution because it turned out to be a little unearthed gem.

My Rating: A

Where She Went (If I Stay #2)

Where She WentBy Gayle Forman

Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary
Source: Netgalley

It’s been three years since the devastating accident … three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Goodreads Summary

This is the sequel to Forman’s 2009 book, If I Stay, which was Mia’s story and while this can be read alone and still be enjoyed – it’s loaded with flashbacks and information about Mia’s story – I don’t think the emotional impact of the story will be the same if you haven’t read the first book.

Adam is New York, doing some promo work and getting ready to head to Europe with his rock band Shooting Star for the first leg of their new tour.  He’s burned out on the band, on life with his actress girlfriend back in L.A., and is considering leaving music altogether.  Their manager has been forced to keep Adam’s pocket stocked with anti-anxiety pills and reporters are given a laundry list of things they’re not allowed to ask him.  What’s on top of the list is what dark place Adam was in when he wrote the pained, often bitter songs for their smash breakout album.

Adam thought nearly losing Mia to the horrific accident that claimed her entire family would be the hardest test of his heart’s strength, but in the three years since, he’s begun to wonder if having her choose to come back to him only to leave him afterwards like trash on the side of the road might be worse.  Mia left for Juilliard as planned, then just drifted away, eventually cutting all ties with him.  In a deep, dark pit of depression, Adam wrote the music that would eventually catapult him to stardom, but he hasn’t been able to move past his feelings for Mia or stop wondering why she left him.

On his last night in New York, restless and desperate not to be alone with his own thoughts, Adam heads out into the streets and walks right into a poster for a concert Mia’s playing that night, then and there.  He can’t help but go in and when she invites him backstage afterwards, he has no idea what she wants.  When she invites him on a tour of her New York for the night, he doesn’t know if this is a chance for him to find the answers he wants, but he says yes.

I had very mixed feelings about this initially – so mixed that I read it twice.  This is completely Adam’s book, from his perspective, and it’s hugely emotional.  He’s depressed, anxious, bitter and frequently wallowing in self-pity.  He’s furious with Mia for leaving him without explaining why and over-dramatizes things.  He’s also still grieving over the loss of Mia’s family and dealing with other emotions he had to shelve while he was supporting Mia through her recovery.  He put his life on hold to take care of her and now he’s full of all of this anger – and fear, because he made her a promise when she was in a coma and he hasn’t kept it.

Sometimes Adam was a really difficult character to want to read about.  Most of the time, Forman moved the story along quickly enough that he didn’t get mired down in one mood or another for too long, but as much as I hate overusing the word, there were times when Adam was simply too emo for my taste.

The more I read though, the more he became the character I loved from If I Stay – the flashbacks were heartbreaking, especially the ones with Mia’s family.  I was surprised that I felt a little apathetic towards her and the future of their relationship the first time I read this – it’s yet another of the reasons I read it twice.  The second time around I felt a little better about her, a little lighter about the story in general.

My Summary: If you read and loved If I Stay, this is going to be an auto-buy for you and you’ll most likely love this.  It’s messy and full of heartbreak and love, anger and forgiveness and while sometimes it was hard to wade through, it was worth it to get to Adam’s rebirth.

My Rating: B

Barbara