Monday, September 29, 2014

Sloppy Seconds #9: Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6) by Rachel Vincent

Welcome to Sloppy Seconds which is a monthly feature hosted by myself and Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives. Sloppy Seconds is a feature in which Teresa and I buddy re-read some of our very favorite books and then post our thoughts and feels. So sit back, relax, grab a glass of wine, and re-live some great reads with us!

Release Date: June 26, 2012
from Harlequin TEEN
Goodreads | Amazon

"I died on a Thursday killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul.

The good news? He didn't get it.

The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school…
Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent "recovering," she's back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend.

But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won't keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn't just gambling with her own life…."


**spoilers ahead**

Teresa Mary Rose
Wifey... re-reading Tod.... I mean Before I Wake with you was magical simply magical! This series just OWNS me and Tod OWNS me and then I think back to how this series brought us together and it makes me flail like a cracked out muppet baby.
Michele Belle
Haha! I think you were right the first time! Oh my goodness -- it was so perfect re-reading with you. This is the series that put us on one another's radar so it will always be extremely special to me. This is one of the very BEST young adult series out there. I could hardly wait until my kiddo was old enough for these, and you know how fast she has consumed these books since she started them. I loved giving her books that had such a brilliant and selfless heroine! Kaylee is an outstanding MC and wonderful role model for young readers. And Tod. Oh my Tod. We are ALL Tod girls here. Sharing the feels with you this week has been so much fun! Before we really get going, we should mention that this discussion is going to contain serious spoilers. We have it at the top, but I think it bears repeating since this is the next-to-last book in the series and it will be impossible not to talk about major plot developments.

Teresa Mary Rose
Yes yes... MAJOR SPOILERS ahead.. knowing us this conversation will delve into spoilers for With All My Soul as well.. so if you haven't read the series and you plan to... just back away now. 

But seriously, this may be my favorite re-read of ours to date! I just missed Tod so damn much and I was so excited to visit him again. Tod is easily a top 5 book boyfriend for me. Just everything. He is so strong and caring and funny. And I love that he knows Kaylee is strong and can handle herself but he will always be there to help her in any way he can. He never holds her back and I love how well they complement each other. They saved each other in so many ways. I know I fell for Tod in book one. He wasn't a love interest, not even close to being one, but I just knew that he was going to be my favorite. I believe you were the same correct?

Ahh Kaylee… that chick is hardcore and I love her. She is truly a wonderful heroine. She is strong and courageous and giving and selfless and so many other admirable things. I love that she doesn't let anyone makes decisions for her but thinks for herself. I also love that she broke the mold in the boyfriend department. So many other heroines would have taken Nash back immediately after the demon breath fiasco, and I love that Kaylee didn't just forgive immediately. Because I don't blame him for the whole thing, but he did some terrible to stuff to Kaylee during that time.

Michele Belle
Absolutely hands-down a favorite! Tod and Kaylee and all the other wonderful characters in this series are the type of characters that never leave you. I know the two of us can usually manage a way to work them into conversations from time to time, but I don't think we realized just how much we missed reading about them. 

Tod. He is all of those things, and I have to emphasize the funny. The things that come out of that beautiful reaper's mouth: HILARIOUS. He makes you laugh out loud with no respect at all for the fact that you might be in a public place. Yes, they truly do complement each other -- they were just meant to be. And I adore how smart Kaylee is -- the things she figures out, even before those who have had much more experience with the Netherworld and the supernatural lives they all lead.

You are correct -- I fell for Tod in the first book. I had no idea where any of it was leading, but there was just something about him. I wanted more, and more, and then a whole lot MORE. Nash. Sigh. I love him, I do. And this may sound insane, but I LOVE his fall from grace. What the author did there was genius. It's unique and realistic in so many ways. And even though what happened was incredibly sad, it doesn't change the fact that he made those poor choices and what he did to Kaylee can never be erased with "I'm sorry." The way she handled it and the fact that she stayed true to herself even though it was breaking her heart as much as his made me love her even more. 

After the ending of the previous book, some may view this new occurrence as a happy alternative. And don't get me wrong -- I'm thrilled we get more Kaylee and Tod... but... it's also insanely heartbreaking. I may have gotten more choked up with Kaylee learning to "live" again than by her death. Does that make sense, Wifey?

Teresa Mary Rose
We do work them in all the time! That just shows how much we love them. But you are right, I didn't know how much I missed them until I was back in this world again.

So true! I cackle and laugh and giggle constantly with Tod.... even the serious scenes somehow make me laugh. But I love his serious side too... I mean... bathtub scene anyone? That may be my favorite moment in the entire series! Ahh yes! I love that Kaylee is intelligent! We need more intelligent heroines I think. I mean how many times do we yell at a book going "DUMMY DO THIS THING!" That doesn't happen with Kaylee.

Ohh good! Not just me then! There is just something about Tod right from the moment you meet him that makes you want to never see him leave the page again. 

Yes! Nash made me crazy at times- CRAZY. But I do love him and I also loved how the author portrayed his character. He wasn't perfect and he made mistakes and those mistakes had consequences. Kaylee was 100% right in the way she handled that. She forgave him in time, but she did not forget what he did. And honestly, I don't think you can just forget what he did. They were no longer good or healthy for one another. 

I also want to discuss how much better Tod is for Kaylee and how much better they worked as a couple. Even from the beginning, I never liked that Kaylee felt like she wasn't enough for Nash or that she didn't belong with him. She was never comfortable with him, even when they were happy together. And then towards the end when he started pressuring her.... no no NO. With Tod, Kaylee was comfortable and herself. I loved the difference in her and I loved that it showed that when you are with the right person you can be yourself. Kaylee may not have broken it to Nash very well, but again I loved this. It showed that she is human too and in fairness to her she had like 24 hours left to live, doesn't leave you much time to think your actions through. What are your thoughts on all of this?

That makes perfect sense! What you said reminds me of the scene with Sophie where she is like "you got your happily ever after". In a way, Kaylee got Tod and a second chance-- BUT I wouldn't say it was perfect. It was so tough watching her deal with the afterlife and it really broke my heart.

Michele Belle
I LOVE THE BATHTUB SCENE! And before that, the scene in her bathroom with the dagger, which leads to other beautiful and full-of-feels moments. Those two have some seriously good times in bathrooms! Only Tod and Kaylee could make that setting perfect. 

Right?? We vent to each other constantly about heroines being a wee bit too slow on the uptake for our tastes, but we never have to worry about that with Kaylee. Not only does she impress the readers with her cleverness, but she impresses her friends and family also; and I think that and her heroism are what caught a certain reaper's attention. And that is yet another thing I love about them -- the reasons they are drawn to each other -- it's so much more than physical attraction. It's their inner qualities and their hearts that hold the appeal. That's a chemistry that's never going to fade. 

That is an excellent point!! She really never was comfortable with Nash and she had so much self-doubt when they were together. That was never an issue with Tod. I agree with that wholeheartedly -- it may not have been the best way, but it does show that she isn't perfect, which makes her even more lovable and so easy to relate to. 

That part -- yes! That actually really irritated me, but then again EVERYTHING that comes out of Sophie's mouth infuriates me. She is the only character I never warmed up to. I think I would take 5 minutes with Avari over 5 minutes with Sophie anytime. 

And speaking of secondary characters and warming up to them, I think the character that I struggled with in the beginning but really grew to love was Kaylee's dad. As a parent, I was so frustrated with his absence in her life. No explanation was going to make that okay for me. BUT the way their relationship grew and seeing how much Aiden loved his daughter really warmed my heart. Their scenes in this book are some of my favorite. And any scene between him and Tod is hysterical. Some of my favorite quotes involve those two!

Teresa Mary Rose
Right? That bathtub scene just melts my heart. I know that is a quote both of us adore! OHHHH the dagger scene! Another beautiful one! You know... you make a good point. Kaylee and Tod spend a lot of time in the bathroom... They do this in With All My Soul too!

Yes! Another excellent point! Kaylee and Tod are drawn to one another for all the right reasons! It goes so far beyond the physical. 

Oh you and me both Wifey! I cannot stand Sophie! That girl is just a nightmare... and considering this book has an actual nightmare in Sabine... that is really saying a lot. Sophie is just a horrible person. She treats Kaylee terribly and just has no remorse for her horrible actions. Why couldn't Avari be obsessed with her? 

I am so glad you brought up Kaylee's Dad! I love him, but I struggle with him a lot as well. See, it doesn't sit well with me that he disappeared for years just to return and be Dad again. I know he meant well, but I thought he could be a bit overprotective of Kaylee. Which, I get it, she is his daughter. But you were gone for years, you can't just show up again and not realize that Kaylee grew up during that time. Also, is Tod really your biggest worry? Kaylee is dead and has a crazy hellion after her.... cut Tod some slack! 

Since I brought up Sabine before... she is another one I struggled with in the beginning.... actually I hated her for a bit. However, I really came to like her over time and I love the weird relationship she and Kaylee develop.

Michele Belle
Exactly! They have the most amazingly romantic moments... in the bathroom! With those two, though, it just works. 

Oh, I love that about the nightmare. So true!! I wanted to smack her the entire series, and nothing ever changed that. Ha! Avari was probably afraid of her! But seriously, he couldn't covet any of Sophie's qualities because he already owns those. She's a bad egg, that one, and Luca, who I adore, deserves better. 

He abandoned her. Plain and simple. That is a bitter pill to swallow, and again I commend Kaylee on how she handled it... and especially on how she called him on it. But that was one part of the story I felt worked out beautifully. I really love her dad and especially how close they became. 

Dearest Sabine. You just can't not like that crazy mara!! Even when I was hating her, she could always make me laugh. She is almost as funny as Tod, but not nearly as charming. I loved that she could make Kaylee's life a living hell one minute and in the very next would jump to her defense and threaten anyone who dared to mess with Kaylee. I definitely ended up loving Sabine and the weird friendship those two shared. 

You and I sometimes struggle with the MCs' best friends. We have some pretty high standards for the friends of our beloved characters, and we've gotten on more than one soap box in these discussions about BFFs. I can say without a doubt that Emma is a great best friend to Kaylee. I loved their relationship and the fact that no matter what they had to face, they always had each other's backs. What happens to Em and what she has to go through in the next installment is something else that broke my heart; but I thought it was a very interesting development, and I just love how Rachel Vincent's brain works!! What did you think about Emma?

Teresa Mary Rose
Yeah... Sophie is just a bad person. I completely agree about Luca! I adore him and he deserves so much better than her. Although, I admit he made her a little (minuscule really) bit easier to deal with. 

Yes, he did. I know he was hurting, but I just cannot excuse it. I too love how their relationship developed though and that they became so close. 

Seriously! Sabine is just too crazy not to love. And I loved the back and forth... like it was only acceptable for Sabine to mess around with Kaylee, everyone else was in trouble if they dared. But when you think about it, those two had some very important conversations as their relationship developed. Also, I think Sabine really needed a girlfriend and she found that in Kaylee.

I love Emma and I agree that she is a great BFF! She kinda just takes the crazy and rolls with it. There is no doubt that she is willing to do almost anything for Kaylee. My heart truly broke for her and what she had to deal with.

Michele Belle
You are so right -- Sabine did need Kaylee! Her story was another troubled and heartbreaking one. As prickly as she can be at times, you just want to hug her; and I'm so glad she found this fantastic little group of misfits to be a part of. 

And Alec. Can we talk about Alec? *sniffles* Hold my hand, Wifey, 'cause this one hurts. Alec is another character that I really liked from the beginning and grew to love. I wish we had gotten more of him, but what we did get was so perfect. His story was sad, and I was so happy that Kaylee was able to rescue him and give him back his life. He was adorable -- his love for cupcakes and the brotherly affection he showed Kaylee were great parts of the story. He didn't deserve the ending he got and the turn his story took was just horrific. I cried so many tears for him and especially for Kaylee. It broke me. Seriously broke me. I am so happy she had Tod because he really came through for her there. It even helped their relationship with Nash turn a corner.

Teresa Mary Rose
Alec.... his story broke my heart. He was such a good and uncomplicated friend for Kaylee and he didn't deserve what happened to him. Kaylee also didn't deserve that. That scene hurt so so so bad. Thank God Tod was there with Kaylee because I really don't know what she would have done without him. He took care of that situation completely. He was so determined not to lose Kaylee. And yeah, that was a pretty pivotal moment with Nash... also it led to our favorite... the bathtub scene *sigh* 

Michele Belle
There are just so many to love! Harmony, Brendon, Addison -- and I'll confess... I love Levi! 

And there are so many to hate. This series has the best villains. Rogue reapers, monster hellions, sucky incubi, demented aunts, and all the creepy crawlie things the Netherworld can produce! 

Teresa Mary Rose
Yes! So many characters! We could never get to them all in a reasonable amount of time! Also.. I completely agree with you on Levi. 

Yeah... Avari is ruthless, which makes him an awesome villain and the Netherworld is just creepy and horrible and blech. It really is such an insane world. 

Michele Belle
Exactly! Insane and brilliant and addictive! 

I love all the books in this series, but this one and the final book are my favorites. This book has the best Tod moments. He really shines; and all the hours, minutes, and seconds spent with Kaylee are poignant, sweet, and perfect. We couldn't have bonded over a better book. 

Teresa Mary Rose
I am in complete agreement with you... this one is my very favorite and With All My Soul comes in a very close second. If I didn't love these books already, I would love them even more because they brought me to you =] 

Okay, I know we both probably have a ton of quotes to share and since we overlap a lot with this book shall we go ahead and share our favorites?

Michele Belle
Wifey... now you've got me all teary eyed. I love you, and I'll always be the Emma to your Kaylee.

So. Many. Quotes. This series is just brimming with beautiful passages, hilarious lines, and moments that make your heart go KABLOOMY.

Our Favorite Quotes:
"Touching Tod made me feel more alive than anything else had since the moment my heart stopped beating." 

"The living bring out what life remains in the dead." 

"'Forever used to feel like a curse. Now it feels like a promise.'" 

"'Hi, Tod, I didn't realize you were here. In my daughter's bedroom. With the door closed.' 'Happy to be here,' Tod said, and I groaned out loud." 

"'You know your dad's the coolest dad on the face of the planet, right?' 'I know. One of these days, I may just tell him.'" 

"Hang on, Pa, don't reach for yer shotgun just yet ... We were just circlin' the wagons, not having an orgy." ... 'Please don't ever say that word again.' 'Wagons?' ... 'Yes, you're much too young to be using Wild West analogies.'" 

"'This is my very favorite moment.' 'Ever?' I said, staring down at him, watching the blues in his irises swirl. 'Ever. Of every moment I've ever not-lived through, this one is the best.'" 

"'For being here. For saving my afterlife and my sanity. For making me look forward to every single day, instead of dreading eternity.'" 

"'My eyes don't want to open when he's not there to look at and my hands feel empty when I'm not touching him. It's the scariest thing I've ever felt.'" 

"His gaze burned into mine, like he could see past my eyes into parts of me no one had ever seen, and I knew I was seeing the same in him. No one else had ever seen him so vulnerable before, like if I pushed him away, he might crumble into pieces that could never be put together again. Yet there was strength, too. He was strong beneath that fragile need, and I knew that I could never fall with him next to me. If I tripped, he would catch me. If I lost my balance, he would find it." 

"'Not much scares me anymore, but I'm terrified of losing you, Kaylee.'" 

"'Why are you the only thing in the world that feels good right now?'" 

"Eternity isn't long enough.'" 

"'I want to feel alive again, Tod. Make me feel alive.'" 

"'You are selfless on the inside and beautiful on the outside, and I am the luckiest man who has ever walked this earth, alive or dead.'" 

"'I love you, Kaylee. More than I've ever loved anyone. More than I will ever love anyone. If I could freeze this moment in time and never have to let you go, I would do it without a second thought.'" 

"'We're the twenty-first century's Mystery Inc.' 'Well, that's comforting, right?' I said, summoning a grin in spite of the circumstances. 'Scooby always gets his man....'" 

"'You're not lost, Kaylee. You can't ever be lost, because I'll always know where you are. And if I'm not there with you, I'm on my way, and nothing standing between us will be standing for very long.'" 

"'You didn't have to stay...' 'Yeah, I did. There's no door.'" 

"'What's a little crime-scene tampering between immortal lovers?'" 

"'She can make it through eternity on her own. But I swear on my soul that as long as I'm here, she'll never have to.'" 

"'Enough. You were cute.' He scowled. 'I am not cute. I am the dreaded Grim Reaper. People fear me, you know. There's a whole song about it.' 'Only because they don't know about the dimples. People don't fear a man with dimples.'" 

"'How could I be standing here right now if I were dead?' Tod made an exasperated sound. 'Oh, let me count the ways...'"

"Why do I always have to be the one who says 'stop'?" I demanded, my voice little more than a moan. "You don't. In fact, at this point I'm considering a petition to have that word stricken from the English language." His grin was almost lazy, the gleam in his eyes an effortless challenge. "If I did, would you sign?" "No fair. If there was a pen in my hand right now, I'd sign whatever you put in front of me."

""It's a little creepy, but he's the one who found Thane this morning. I'm thinking a necromancer on our side is infinitely less creepy than one working for the bad guys." "I guess..." "It gets weirder. He's dating Sophie." "On purpose?" Tod looked horrified. It takes a lot to scare a reaper."

"He was warm, when everything else was cold. He was sweet, when the world tasted bitter. He was mine, and I wanted to be his, in every sense possible."

"For those who may not know this, Madeline recruited me specifically to help hunt and take out a serial soul thief--" "I call him Cap'n Crunch," Luca interrupted, and was rewarded with a roomful of frowns. "You know. Because he's a cereal thief?"

"Hellions can't lie, but we all know reapers can." "Careful, pot," Tod said. "Someone might notice your resemblance to the kettle."

"I believed him. I'd never believed in anything more."

"Mr. Cavanaugh. I know this isn't the future you wanted for Kaylee, and I know I'm not who you wanted for her. And I'm not even going to pretend to think I'm good enough - I know I've made mistakes, and I'm probably going to make more. But I love her with every single cell in my body. She's the reason my heart beats - literally. There's nothing I wouldn't do for her. There's no one I'd put ahead of her. And I will never, ever leave her, as long as she wants me. Kaylee's the strongest person I've ever met. She can make it through eternity on her own. But I swear on my soul that as long as I'm here, she'll never have to."

Teresa Mary Rose
Oh Wifey I so love the quotes we picked to share. We may have shared half the book, but how could we not? Just so many truly wonderful moments. Thank you for reading this one with me. It was so much fun!

Michele Belle
They are just TOO good not to share. Wifey, anytime you want to dive back into this series, I'll be right there with you. Thank you for all the laughs and feels! *smooosh*

Soul Screamers Vol. 1: My Soul to Lose • My Soul to Take • My Soul to Save Soul Screamers Volume Two (Soul Screamers #3, 3.5, 4) Soul Screamers Volume Three (Soul Screamers #5, 5.5, 6) Soul Screamers Volume Four (Soul Screamers, #7, 0.4, 7.5)