Realms of an Open Mind

Forbidden romances. Dystopian worlds. Unimaginable creatures. Dark nightmares. Beautiful dreams. All within the Realms of an Open Mind.


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Excerpt: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood  - Victoria Scott
A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

In 2013, The Collector was one of my most anticipated reads. Dante Walker rocked my world, and I absolutely adore Victoria Scott for creating him. This year, she's releasing Fire & Flood, and it sounds nothing like Dante's series. It sounds a lot like The Hunger Games meets The Amazing Race. *Intrigued.* I love it when authors surprise us with something completely different than what we know them for. 

Fire & Flood releases on February 25th, a mere three weeks from now and I, for one, am counting down the days. As a little treat, I received this little nugget to share - an excerpt from Victoria Scott's newest release. Enjoy!!

“If you are hearing this message, then you have successfully completed the Pandora Selection Process. It also means you are now at the official starting line.”Around me, Contenders whoop with excitement. Seriously? They’re about to plunge into a wild jungle, and that brings them happiness? Once again, I realize how out of my league I am. I don’t even have a change of clothes, for crying out loud.
“As you may have realized, you are on the outskirts of a rain forest. This will be the jungle part of the course. You will have two weeks to arrive at the jungle’s base camp. You will find this base camp by following the path of blue flags.”Contestants glance around, immediately looking for the first blue flag. As for me, I’m watching the taillights of the semi and having a massive coronary.
“If you are the first to encounter a blue flag, you may remove it, but you may not remove the stake it is attached to. Doing so will result in immediate disqualification.”I wonder why anyone would want to remove the flag to begin with. No one else seems concerned by this.
While the Cure will be awarded to a single winner at the end of the last ecosystem, we will bestow a smaller prize for each leg of the race. The prize for the jungle portion will be monetary.” The woman pauses dramatically. “I’d like to officially welcome you to the Brimstone Bleed. May the bravest Contender win.”
That’s it? That’s all she’s going to say? Because it seriously sounds like she’s wrapping up. So why aren’t I running after the trucks? Why am I not chasing after my only way out of this jungle like my life depends on it? I know the answer — though I wish I didn’t. Cody would do this for me. I am his only hope. I have to believe his cure exists. My only other option is to return home and watch my brother die. If I could even get back home.
I glance around frantically, looking for someone to tell me what to do. The Contenders have formed a long line, the kind you see at the start of a marathon. A few yards down from where I stand — I see him. My throat tightens when I realize his cold blue eyes are locked on me. It’s the guy from the Pandora Selection Process. The serial killer–looking dude who I thought was going to kidney punch me. He glares in my direction like he might take this opportunity to finish what he never started. I raise my hand in a small wave, hoping it says something like: See? Look how friendly I am!
He lifts his own enormous hand. For a moment, I brighten. I think maybe that — even though it looks like he hates every fiber of my being — he’s going to wave back. But he doesn’t. He holds up two fingers — his pointer and his middle — places them under his eyes, and then points in front of us.
Oh no, he didn’t. I think he basically just told me to pay attention. I’m still processing this when the woman’s voice rings in my ear.

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Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces - Amy Harmon

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

Wow. Just. Wow. Two days later and I still am having issues finding anything else to say. You know that feeling... You're sad but at the same time you can't help but feel good about your heartbreak? That's Making Faces.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. Beauty is what you've come to know and not necessarily what's at eye level. 

True beauty, the kind that doesn't fade or wash off, takes time. It takes pressure. It takes incredible endurance. It is the slow drip that makes the stalactite, the shaking of the Earth that creates mountains, the constant pounding of the waves that breaks up the rocks and smooths the rough edges. And from the violence, the furor, the raging of the winds, the roaring of the waters, something better emerges, something that would otherwise never exist.

It's not only the lessons that makes this story, but the characters that are enveloped in those lessons. Bailey Sheen, for example (and my favorite). The kid was handed a shit hand in life, but he is probably the most inspirational character I've had the pleasure of meeting. He suffers from muscular dystrophy, so instead of legs, he has a sense of humor; instead of arms, he has snark; instead of that athletic skill he's always craved, he has brains and a big heart. I absolutely fell in love with Bailey - he saves so many, whether it be their lives or their drive and motivation. If anyone is a hero in this story, it's him. 

"I have no pride left, Ambrose!" Bailey said. "No pride. But it was my pride or my life. I had to choose. So do you. You can have your pride and sit here and make cupcakes and get old and fat and nobody will give a damn after a while. Or you can trade that pride in for a little humility and take your life back."

I could really keep gushing about the heroism that is Bailey Sheen, but I should also mention Ambrose and Fern. Ambrose is lost and is having trouble holding on to who he thought he was. He lost his friends, his good looks, and, truly, his respect for himself. Fern knows exactly who she is but has trouble believing it is at all beautiful and deserving. I wouldn't say she's insecure, just resigned, and it is this acceptance of who she is that makes her unique. 

The romance between these two takes its time, spreading itself out over the course of years, slowly building a history and a solidity that can't be broken. It's real and amazing, and although it may have seemed odd at one time for them to come together, two people could not be more perfect for each other. It is through each other that they find their way, each of them proving the other wrong.

This books takes tragedy and allows us to see the light that rises from the darkness. One of my favorite quotes sums it up nicely:

"Maybe everyone represents a piece of the puzzle. We all fit together to create this experience we call life. None of us can see the part we play or the way it all turns out. Maybe the miracles that we see are just the tip of the iceberg. And maybe we just don't recognize the blessings that come as a result of terrible things."

Everyone is connected in one way or another, and everything we do has an effect, whether we realize it or not. 

I really could go on and on and ramble until you have no idea what I'm talking about. Just read the book. Seriously. 

Amy Harmon is a beast when it comes to writing. The emotions I experienced while reading Making Faces is something I will remember for years to come, and I have no choice but to believe this will be one of my favorite books, not only of this year, but ever. 

Highly recommend!


buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Or via Amazon or B&N

Visit Amy Harmon viaGoodReads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website

5/5 Stars


Netflix for Books?

Okay. I'm a firm believer in real books. The ones you can touch, smell, and put on a physical shelf. But I also live in a place where the nearest bookstore is about, oh, an hour away, so e-books are pretty much necessary unless I use my free shipping via Amazon. 


I know. I'm not being a very good bibliophile, but I just want to read! And as a new mom, I simply don't have the time (or the gas money) to trek it to the bookstore all the time - then I have to hope they are carrying what I'm looking for. Besides, what does it matter in what format we read so much as that we do read. Right?


So, as a result, I'm probably a little too excited about this app by the name of Oyster. Who has Netflix? Oyster is supposedly like the Netflix for books. What a concept. Pay a monthly fee and get access to hundreds of thousands of books. Read unlimited. Two words that fit wonderfully together.


I really want to support local bookstores, but in my neck of the woods (literally - the woods), there simply aren't any. So, I'm not going to feel guilty. I'm just going to enjoy reading in whatever form I can get. 


But before I get off point, click the link above to check out Oyster. They have some fabulous titles, and I love the idea of being able to read a book before I buy it in hardcover. (I guess I can't feel too guilty - if I really love a book, I have this obsessive need to display it like the work of art that it is on my bookshelf.)




Check it out! Enjoy!









Teaser Tuesday

Making Faces - Amy Harmon

Stop by the blog for a sneak peak into Amy Harmon's Making Faces



Review: Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

Thorn Queen (Dark Swan) - Richelle Mead

Let me start by saying that I wasn't sure how to rate this book. I really like the way Mead thinks, from her world-building to character development to the surprises she holds in store for Eugenie. But at the same time I'm just kinda like... eh...


Maybe it's because toward the middle of the story I found myself asking..."So what's really happened so far? Hmmm... Not much." It dragged a little, and while it picked up toward the end, getting to that point was a little monotonous. It's because of this monotony that I'm just getting kind of bored with the whole story. Relationships and characters have changed, but as for everything else that's going around them, I feel like Thorn Queen is one of those filler/stepping-stone novels. 


I do have to say, though, that I love how Eugenie has evolved and transformed through her experiences. Comparing her to the way she was when we first met, the only thing that's remained unchanged is her strength and sass. Everything else has shifted, and Eugenie is anything but a stagnant and stuffy character.


Her relationship with Kiyo is - and here's that "word" again - eh. Honestly, the guy has never felt right for Eugenie and I could never sense that spark between them no matter how much she said she loved him. Sorry, Eugenie. I'm not convinced. 


Dorian, on the other hand... The one guy that Eugenie thought she could never trust seems to be the only one who truly loves and understands her unconditionally. Go figure. You've made me a believer, Dorian, even if Eugenie is too pigheaded to see it herself.


In the way of evil-doers, Mead surprised me with her knack for creating a truly sick and twisted villain - you know the kind who don't even know they are evil? The ones that think they are good and right? I relished at the idea of him getting his ass beat - or worse. 


To sum the rambling up, Mead's character development is amazing (even if the one relationship kinda flopped for me). You know these people - they are real within the pages - and you hurt and hope for them (even if you want to clobber them sometimes).


The writing style, as always, is fluid and easy. Eugenie keeps things light even with shit hits the fan and the descriptions do well to build this solid little world that you can see and almost touch with your own two hands. 


So while there's a lot of good that I have to say about what gives this book readability, it's just that - "good." Not great or mind-blowing or any of those other adjectives that you'd use with a 4+ star review. I don't really feel that I'll remember much about this story a few months down the road. It's worth reading - don't get me wrong - but, for me, it wasn't anything to glow about. 



So, would I recommend? Yeah, sure. If you're looking for some easy reading that'll keep you entertained until your next read. Richelle Mead has definite talent and potential - no argument - I just don't think I'm in a huge hurry to finish the series. 








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Reblogged from Angels With Attitude Book Reviews:

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Review: Storm Born by Richelle Mead

Storm Born  - Richelle Mead

Eugenie Markham is a badass. She's a sort of hermitized badass, but when you're introduced to the world of shamanism and banishing Otherworldly creatures from adolescence, regular life just seems a little…out of your element.


In Storm Born, Richelle Mead introduces us to a world hidden behind the one we know. Demons, spirits, faeries (or gentry), shape shifters… you get the idea… Eugenie is a major player in this world, mostly feared by all these creatures as she banishes them back to their own world or worse - to the Underworld - their own personal hell. 


Things get a little personal, though, when Eugenie comes across more than one Otherworldly creature that knows her by her real name and makes more than one perverse attempt to get into her pants. What? How? Why?


Creepy, yes, but Eugenie has yet to discover many truths about herself, especially when it comes to her ties to the Otherworld and these… forceful flirtations… lead her to a past that she had no idea existed. A history that puts her at odds with herself and everything she's always believed.


Richelle Mead has a simple, straightforward, and hilarious writing style as well as a talent for world and character building. You can see, feel, and relate to the characters as well as envision the complexities of this whole other world that is created from Mead's imagination. 


All in all, definitely not a bad way to kick off a new year of reading. 




Merry Christmas!!! 

Review: Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn

Poe - J. Lincoln Fenn

It’s Halloween, and life is grim for twenty-three-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.


But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.


There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.


As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.





After months of being in a book slump, I was perusing through my Kindle recommendations praying that I would find something that would snap me out of it. I don't know what it is lately, but every book I've picked up has completely failed to hold my attention or suck me into its world in that characteristically bookish way that made me fall in love with reading in the first place.


Poe has definitely pulled me out of my reading slump. J. Lincoln Fenn has an amazingly witty writing style, giving Dimitri a voice of pure sarcasm and self deprecation. While I would normally find a guy who puts himself down annoying, Dimitri is hilarious about it and always maintains a little hope that maybe he'll come out on top. He rarely takes anything seriously, even when it comes to Lisa, and in a story that could be completely macabre, his vivid personality brings unexpected comedy to the table.


Fenn has a knack for character development. Even when it came down to the most insignificant appearances, I could always connect and visualize any character that was introduced. From personalities and quirks down to each person's physical description, you knew who you were seeing, and as a character-driven reader, this was huge


The mystery itself that ties in with the ghost story takes turn after wild turn, but not in that cheesy and eye-rolling way that can occur when it comes to the fantastical. Fenn ties it all together, making us believe the unbelievable with incredible world building and vivid glimpses into the past. 


Poe is a spooky mystery of a ghost tale. Demons, possession, hauntings, murder, and hidden pasts. 


Get it. Read it. Love it.



Never understood those people who don't like to read... I can't even wrap my mind around that concept....

Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

Red Hill - Jamie McGuire

I'm a HUGE fan of Jamie McGuire. HUGE. I freakin' love her, so when I discovered that she was collaborating with one of my favorite monsters - zombies - I was stoked, to put it mildly.


I won't say I was disappointed. I can't. But I also can't do my usual 5 stars for McGuire, as much as I want to. Red Hill is a fantastic read - especially for the special month of October, but I can't really say that it blew me away.


Red Hill is reminiscent of The Walking Dead. Completely. It's a beautiful thing, but... it felt too familiar, if you know what I mean. From the way the story began, progressed, and ended... It was almost as if I'd heard it all before.


In true McGuire fashion, though, the characters of Red Hill really do their job of sucking you in. I love when authors use multiple points of view, and in this book, McGuire's characters cross paths and come together perfectly. 


In addition to her well developed characters, McGuire's writing style is the super glue that holds her stories together. It's witty, smooth, and just flows in a way that holds your attention and doesn't let go. 


I think the only thing that is keeping me from an all-out rave review here is the ending. It was... abrupt. Almost to the point that it was anticlimactic - it definitely left me a little deflated and wishing for more. 


But you know, I've been in a bit of reading slump lately, and I finished this book in two days. I couldn't put it down. McGuire's descriptions, characters, and writing style have a way of doing that, and even though I can't say this is my favorite of her novels, I can definitely tell you that it's worth your time. 


Get your zombie on ;)