Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review & Giveaway - The Sunshine Series by Nikki Rae

Author: Nikki Rae
Release Date: January, 2014; June, 2013; March, 2014
Pages: 330; 299; 235
My Series Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
My Content Rating: NA/Very Mature YA (Some sex, but not explicit; Some language; Mature themes, including cutting, death, rape and sexual abuse; Homosexual characters)

Summary from Goodreads: Sophie Jean is pretty good at acting normal. She can pretend she’s not allergic to the sun. She can hide what her ex-boyfriend did to her. She can cover up the scars she’s made for herself. Ignore anything. Forget anything.

Then Myles enters her life, and he has more than a few secrets of his own. Sophie discovers that when she's with him she is feeling too much. Remembering too much.

It’s one thing covering up her own dark past, but does she really need to worry about people finding out just how much Myles likes her? Or that despite how much she doesn’t want to repeat past mistakes, she kind of likes him back? Not to mention the fact that she now has to conceal that Myles drinks blood-that he says he’s about four hundred years old.

But Sophie can deal with this little glitch, no problem. Even if she’s putting the few people she loves at risk. Suddenly, those who were monsters before are just people, and the monsters? They’re real. Now being a normal human being is the least of her problems. Now she has to stay alive.

Summary from Goodreads: Sophie’s life has changed. She’s moved to New York, she’s playing music for new people, and she’s making new friends. Then there’s Myles, and the fact that he is now her boyfriend—and everyone knows it.

She’s not exactly normal, living in a half-human, half-vampire world, but she’s finally, truly happy. However, some parts of Sophie and Myles’ old lives still hide in the dark, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.

Sophie’s having nightmares again, but they aren't about her; Myles is hiding something as well, something Sophie isn’t sure she wants to know.

And one lie will change everything.

No matter how hard she tries to cover up the marks her monsters have left behind, they never truly go away, and Myles’ monsters are no different.

Once again, Sophie’s caught between life and death, but this time, only she can save herself.

Summary from Goodreads: Life wasn't what Sophie was expecting, so why should death be any different? 
She’s come back from swimming between the two, and every problem she left is still there. And then some.

There’s the human world, where she has a brother on the verge of ruins, band mates all set to go on tour, and people she thought she wouldn't be seeing for a long time showing up.

Then there’s her new world, where she’s seeing and hearing things that should not be heard or seen. Where Myles knows more about her than she could have ever guessed. She still doesn't know exactly why Michael is tormenting her, but somehow, everything is connected.

The monsters are closing in on all sides and the question is, will Sophie be able to defeat them before it all ends?

***This review is for all three books in the Sunshine series.  I tried to keep the review spoiler free for all of the books.***

I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started reading the Sunshine series.  I guess I was thinking this would be sort of like Twilight - high school girl (at least in the first book) falls in love with a vampire ... Well, I was in for a surprise.  This series was MUCH edgier, darker and deeper than that. Rae tackles some truly touchy subjects here - and she does it well. I was blown away by the first book and couldn't wait to read the second! The second book was equally good - there was no middle book syndrome with this series.  The third book didn't quite live up to the other two, in my opinion, but I still thought that the series overall was amazing. I highly recommend it!!

The series follows Sophie, a teenage girl with an allergy to the sun and a whole host of psychological issues (I'll get into those more in my actual review). She spends her life avoiding people - everyone except her two best friends and band mates. When she meets Myles, at first she wants nothing to do with him, but she soon finds herself letting him in. She finds that they have a few things in common - but it doesn't take long for her to realize that Myles isn't just a regular guy.

What I loved about this series:
  • Tough subjects.  Like I said, this series tackles some really tough subjects and it handles them incredibly well. Sophie has gone through a lot in her short life, and the results aren't always pretty. In order to numb herself to her psychological pain, she uses physical pain in the form of cutting. I thought that Rae handled this in a very raw and realistic way. I can only imagine that she did a lot of research into why someone might feel driven to cutting when life gets hard because Sophie's emotions and reactions felt very real to me. Added on top of that, Sophie suffers from a very tumultuous relationship with her mom, an absent dad and past abuses that haunt her. Each of these things have impacted Sophie in major ways, and none of them are thrown out lightly. My heart broke for Sophie often in this series.
  • Issues that don't go away.  One of Sophie's many issues is that she has trouble getting close to people and doesn't like to be touched, mostly because of a past traumatic experience with her ex-boyfriend (though there are a few other reasons as well).  What I liked best about the way that Rae handled this was that Sophie didn't get over her aversion to touch quickly or easily.  So often in books, a character will have an issue like this, but will meet the man of her dreams and suddenly get over all of her hang-ups - if not immediately, then relatively quickly.  That is not the case with this  series. Well into the second book, Sophie is still fighting to overcome her fear of intimacy - it affects her interactions with  Myles, even after she trusts him with her heart. This seemed so incredibly realistic to me, and I loved it. Likewise, Sophie also has trouble trusting others - this becomes a huge hurdle when, in book 2, she finds out that Myles is hiding things from her. She can't just easily forgive and forget and the repercussions are felt for the rest of the series.
  • Myles and Sophie.  I absolutely adored Myles and Sophie together. I loved the fact that Myles wasn't the typical brooding, bad boy vampire. He was sweet and down to earth and almost ridiculously normal next to Sophie's messed up existence. He was really just what she needed in order to help her tame her demons (somewhat surprising since he was a vampire!).
  • Supporting characters.  There were some really wonderful secondary characters in this series, none of them at all two-dimensional. Sophie's best friends Boo and Trei are a great support system for her and also great fun! Her brother and his partner Stevie also play a huge role in her life (and in the books!).
  • Music.  Music is Sophie's passion. It's the one thing that she can turn to when she's feeling out of control and it's an amazing outlet for her. I loved the passion that Sophie put into her music and what an impact it had on her life.
  • Vampires!  Loved the vampires in these books - both good and bad. Starting about midway through the first book (or perhaps a little further), things start to get pretty dangerous for Sophie and company - the big bad vampires definitely do not let her off easy! There was lots of action and some pretty major twists and turns that kept me constantly guessing.
The negatives:
  • Book 1.  I felt like the ending of book #1 was drawn out just a little bit. Still, it was definitely exciting!
  • Book 2.  I honestly can't remember anything that I didn't like from the second book. There was certainly nothing major. Sometimes I didn't like Sophie's choices, but it didn't really mar my enjoyment of the book.
  • Book 3.  I did have a few issues with this one. Sophie's misery in the third book started to feel a little unnecessary and I was kind of waiting for her to get over her problems with Myles. Also, the series ended with an interesting, unexpected twist that was somewhat bittersweet, and I wasn't sure I totally loved it. I understand Rae's reasoning for this ending, but it didn't quite sit perfectly with me. Just my opinion.
    If you're a fan of vampire books and you're looking for something new and different with a bit of an edge to it, definitely pick up the Sunshine series! You will not be sorry! Overall, I give the series 4.5/5 stars.

    ***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

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    About the Author

    Nikki Rae is a writer who lives in New Jersey. As an independent author, she has appeared numerously on Amazon Best Seller lists and she concentrates on making her imaginary characters as real as possible. Nikki writes mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.

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