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REVIEW: Royal Guard of Draga

Royal Guard of Draga Book Cover Royal Guard of Draga
Draga Court #0.5
Emma Dean
Sci-Fi Romance
August 3, 2017
Kindle
174
The Author
Jillian Ashe
July 2017

In a galaxy far from our own in a faraway future humans have settled among the stars, altering their genetics to create a more peaceful society where dominance and rank are known instinctually. Princess Adelina of the Draga royal family seeks love before political gain and her guard is the only male her eyes see. Alpha is the most beautiful man she's ever laid eyes on and ever since he came back from his training Adelina can't get him out of her mind.

The strength and dominance Alpha has tests her will and all Adelina wants to do is submit to him, but she has duties required by the crown. When her father becomes ill her life, and that of her siblings are turned upside down. Can Adelina find love with her royal guard before it's too late and the choice is taken from her?

My Review

This is a prequel to the new Draga Court series by Emma Dean (pen name of author Jillian Ashe).

So, right off the bat, the heroine of this story, Adelina, is kind of hard to like, at least for me. This epic, sci-fi universe takes place in the far distant future and people have been genetically altered so that they are born with a natural “dominance” level. Princess Adelina is at the bottom of that chart, being very submissive. She can come across as a push over and weak at times. Do NOT let that turn you off. Keep reading.

This story is a short little introduction to this new world. It’s descriptive, interesting, and very sexy. This particular story, as I said before, is a prequel and takes place before the events of book 1. You don’t have to read it to know what’s going on in the series, but you’ll understand the events referenced later a little better having read this.

Basic gist – the princess has feelings for her personal guard. He shares those feelings. You have to read on to find out what, if anything, becomes of that.

I also feel like this isn’t too heavy on the sci-fi so anyone who enjoys steamy romance, who is open to non-contemporary genres, can enjoy this series. It is VERY steamy at times.


Quotes

How one was born was reflected in their personal, natural scent. It broadcasted their abilities to everyone around them and created a safe environment where those who were dominant protected those who served. She always knew who to defer to and how to act thanks to protocol. As a royal she should have been more dominant.


Alpha didn’t move for a second. His whole body tensed and then it was like he let go of everything holding him back. His arms went around Adelina’s waist and held her close. Alpha’s touch was soft and gentle – barely there – but he kissed her back with force.

REVIEW: A Shadowed Beginning by Alice J. Black

A Shadowed Beginning Book Cover A Shadowed Beginning
Demon Hunter #1
Alice J. Black
Teen Paranormal
Fire & Ice Young Adult Books
November 14, 2017
Unedited Manuscript
280

Ruby Dawson is about to discover a whole new world—one of demons and devils.

Following the death of her father four years ago, Ruby is sure her life can't get any harder. Living in a care home for girls, struggling with the last two years of school and working part time at an employment agency seem almost too much at times.

And then she sees the man with the crescent scar. He's a memory from her past and one that she knows will have answers. He's the last link to her dad.

Ruby goes looking for answers but only ends up with more questions as everything she thought she knew was real is turned upside down and her own life becomes all too connected with a world she didn't know existed.

My Review

Wow. This story is everything I love about teen fiction. The badass heroine who doesn’t really want the life that’s been thrust upon her. The smoking hot love interest full of chaste sexual tension. And demons.

Ruby thought her dad died of a heart attack, but years later when a man she recognizes from her fathers funeral walks into The Agency where she works, she takes off on a whim, following him into the streets. It’s there that he reveals that all is not as it seems. He’s a demon hunter working for The Agency… and so was her father.

Things get weirder when Ruby begins seeing things, and she is attacked by shadows. With the help of Vaughn, the son of her father’s former partner, she must train in order to fight the demons and save her town.

This was such a well-written story, all of the pieces weaved together beautifully, giving all the information the reader needs without info dumping or getting boring. The plot moves, information is slowly revealed, and some things the reader may initially read as just scene setting information, only to later discover it was actually crucial to the plot.

The chemistry between Ruby and Vaughn was realistic. The sparks flew. There was so much sexual tension between them, I just wanted them to KISS ALREADY! But do they? Hmm… I can’t tell you that. I can tell you before the end of the book I was mad crushing on Vaughn and shipping R/V.

And what teen book would be complete without the mean girl? This one is no different. She’s not the villain of the story, but she’s certainly not someone the reader is meant to like.

There are 6 more books in this series and I ended this one BEGGING the author to send me the next one!

 

NOTE: I am an acquisitions editor for this publisher and also the cover designer for this book. This in no way changes my opinion of this book. I would not contract a book I didn’t believe in and enjoy myself. In short, this book is AMAZING.


Quotes

“Sheila wants you in the family.”

“You make it sound like the mafia.”

“Not quite. But close…..”

And then finally a picture of Vaughn formed in my mind where I lingered. A smile creased my lips as I remembered what he’d said to me, the way he pressed his number into my hand and the way he looked at me. Tingles spiralled out from my stomach diffusing some of the tension there. Maybe today hadn’t been all bad.

When he came at me, lunging quick as a feral cat, his arms cradled my waist and I was knocked backwards. My arms flailed above my head as I fell to the mat. Vaughn came to rest just on top of me, slightly out of breath and a cheeky grin on his face. His eyes met mine and we stayed there for a moment, his eyes lingering just that second too long, searching for something. 


 


My (Writing) Life

I’ve been MIA from the blog for quite a while and I apologize for that. I’m still reading and have a HUGE list of books that need reviews posted! I’m hoping to really get on that this upcoming week.

I’ve also been making a huge dent in my 12 Days of Christmas reading list. 8 books read, 2 yet to start, and 2 to finish. I still have to review at least half of them though.

In the writing world I’ve been (failing) NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s where crazy people like me attempt to write a 50k novel in one month. I was doing really well for about a week, then I fell off the wagon. At this point I need to write about 2055 words per day to reach goal. I’m not panicking yet, and I’m still really proud to have written over 20k this month so far. I’m hoping next week to have a couple REALLY good day where I can pound out 3-5k and really bridge the gap.

This upcoming week I have a very light work schedule at my hotel job, and I’m basically caught up for the year with my publishing job. I just have a few tasks to complete in the coming weeks, and then everything else I do is for 2018. My resolution for 2018 is to NOT let myself fall behind at ALL!

I also sent my first reviewer inquiry for PEACE IN FLAMES. (If you’re a fellow reviewer and up for reading and reviewing an upper-YA contemporary romance novella, hit me up!)

So yeah, that’s what’s going on with me! I’m happy that things are starting to settle down a bit here.

Is life slowing down or getting more hectic for you?

REVIEW: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia Book Cover Nyxia
The Nyxia Triad
Scott Reintgen
YA Sci-Fi
Penguin Crown Books
September 12, 2017
E-ARC
384
Penguin First Reads
August 20 - September 20, 2017

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

My Review

I received a copy of this book from the Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

I heard good things about this book, so when I saw it on Penguin First To Read I took a chance and guaranteed a copy for myself. I started reading soon after… and it took me a long time to get through his one.

Brief summary: a big corporation in the not-so-distant future has gathered a group of poor teenagers, offered them enough money to keep them and their families comfortable for life, and taken them aboard their space ship en-route to a new planet called Eden. They need the kids because the native peoples on this planet hate humans, but they have a deep affection for children and won’t hurt them.

So, I’ll start with the negatives…

  • Early on I was honestly bored. This book had a little bit of a Divergent feel to it, but I didn’t really feel any emotion or connection to the characters. I think part of the problem was that they dumped SO many characters on us at once. By about 15% things were looking up and I was enjoying it a little more.

 

  • The main character, Emmett, has some characteristics that bothered me. He would call his parents “moms and pops” – I’ve heard pops before, but something about moms just grated on me. It’s a personal thing, not a deal breaker.

 

  • The other thing Emmett did that drove me crazy was saying things like “I filed that under A for Anger” all the time. They finally explained WHAT that was all about, but it was too little too late for me. The annoyance was firmly there.

 

  • Too many characters were introduced all at once and I was really never given a chance to really get to know them. Not even the one involved with the first big plot twist around 30%. Had I been really given a chance to connect with that character I might have gotten bent out of shape.

 

  • The villains were a little one dimensional. I’m hoping they will evolve when it comes to book 2.

 

Okay, all that said, there were a lot of things I DID like. I mean, I’m giving it 4 stars after all.

  • This book is very creative. Just the concept of Nyxia (this alien material that can be controlled by your thoughts) is fascinating as all get out. There’s more to the substance than we know as well, it’s already been alluded to, and I look forward to finding out more.

 

  • The challenges the kids underwent were also very creative and unique. They got a little repetitive at times, but overall I did enjoy them.

 

  • This book is as about diverse as one can imagine. The protagonist is African American from Detroit, his bestie on board the ship is from the Middle East. His roommate is from Asia. There’s tons of representation in this book and it was pretty awesome.

 

  • The plot twist at the end. I did NOT see that coming. I was left speechless. With an ending like that there’s no way I can skip book 2.

 

So, should you read this? If you’re looking for a (mostly) unique Sci-Fi teen novel, this might just do the trick. It has a few flaws, but on a whole the creative and unique bits (and that ending!!!) make for a pretty compelling read.


QUOTES

When Babel recruited me, they said all of this was a game. I like playing games, but I like winning even more.

“The reward for your efforts will be beyond your imagination. A trust fund has already been established for each of you. A check for fifty thousand dollars will be put into your account every month for the rest of your lives.”

I almost laugh, thinking we’re the politically correct version of the Justice Squad. But if Babel’s looking for heroes, they picked the wrong guy.

Habitable planets. Aliens. Right. Our generation watched the Mars landings. We’ve seen NASA’s recruiting posters all over our high schools. But there’s never been a whisper of other life-forms.

“I get a suit?”
He nods. “And a gun.”
“Really?”
“No.”

“Congratulations,” Defoe says. “Expect adjustments to the course tomorrow.”
Translation: The glitch will be fixed, but we like that you took advantage of it.

“Yes, but are you familiar with the phrase, ‘you should see the other guy’?”
I nod. “Of course.”
“Well, you should see the other guy,” Defoe says, throwing me that dangerous grin of his.

“And how did it make you feel?”
Oh. He’s one of those doctors.

“The sky isn’t much of a sky. More of a misty overload pressing down on any and every thing.

“Everything causes cancer,” Vandermeer deadpans. “Except Nyxia. We’ve tested it.”

Does Morning want to talk, or does she want to talk? I may have bragged otherwise to the Most Excellent Brothers, but I’ve never really done that kind of talking with a girl like Morning.


My (Writing) Life

I took my girls to their school skate night (yep, roller rinks are still a thing here) and got a nice bit of writing done on SUMMER OF PEACE while the kids burned some energy. I may have lost some of my ability to hear thanks to the shrieking kids during the Hokey Pokey and YMCA, but overall—despite the evening ending in tears when my little one dropped her hoop right away during the hoola-hoop competition—it was a good night.

I’m trying to get some work done today before I start another long weekend at the hotel. Hopefully it will be pretty tame and I’ll have an opportunity to write during some down time.

In other news, I binged season 2 of Outlander over the past 3 days. Now I’m going through a bit of withdrawl. Never have I wished more for the Starz channel!

Anyone have big plans for the weekend? Or are you lame like me and spending it at work?

REVIEW: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Midnight Jewel Book Cover Midnight Jewel
The Glittering Court #2
Richelle Mead
YA Historical Romance
Penguin Razorbill
June 27, 2017
Kindle
416
Amazon
June 27 - July 2, 2017

In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.

My Review

If you know me at all then you know that Richelle Mead is my favorite author. She is my idol, my inspiration, my spirit animal. Richelle Mead is my Patronus. I fell in love with her Vampire Academy series, and once I read her Bloodlines series I knew we were author/reader soulmates. Every new book of hers I read makes me love her even more. So, it’s no surprise that Midnight Jewel, the second in her Glittering Court stand alone series gets 5 stars.

I loved the first book in the series so much I was afraid she couldn’t top it. And then, in some ways, she did. While I loved Adelaide’s love story in the first book, Mira’s is also extremely enjoyable in different ways.

If you haven’t heard about The Glittering Jewel series yet I’ll give you a super fast recap. The books take place in a fictional world similar to England/America at the time of the colonization of America. The Glittering Court is a program that trains underprivileged girls in the way of being proper ladies, then ships them off to the New World to wed the men who have settled in the colonies. But the girls Mead writes about don’t exactly play by the rules, and they all have ulterior motives for joining The Glittering Court.

Midnight Jewel is Mira’s story. 
Mira is such a strong and independent character. A refugee, she’s an outsider and shunned no matter where she goes. But that doesn’t stop her. She’s completely kick ass in a time when women are not supposed to be kick ass. She enters into an unlikely alliance working undercover for a spy named Grant. The sparks between them? Get your fan ready! Ms. Mead knows her way around romance! The build up between these two is almost painful, but Mead is the queen of ripping out hearts, crushing them, and piecing them back together.

The only negative I can even say about this book is that readers who have NOT read the first book may not have as clear of an understanding of how The Glittering Court works, simply because most of Mira’s story takes place after her “training” and she’s gone across the sea to the new world. If you’ve read the first book this should be no problem. If you haven’t you may be left a little confused. Don’t let that stop you though, because once the new world plot was set I was 100% invested in Mira and her story.

Should you read this? Fans of Richelle Mead will rejoice. Readers of historical romance will rejoice. (And did I mention there are pirates???) So basically if you want to give Richelle Mead a chance and Vampires aren’t your thing, give this series a try.


QUOTES

 

“No more alley fights.”
“I know.”
“No more daggers to throats.”
“Cedric, give me some credit.” If we hadn’t been in the cathedral, I would’ve shouted it. “I’ll be the picture of decorum at this finishing school of yours.”

A few other comments from Mistress Masterson’s neat writing mentioned my life at the manor thus far and contained a backhanded compliment: Progressing well for a Sirminican.

“Did they let you in here,” I asked, “or did you just pick the locks?”

“And neither of you understand how badly you’re hurting me! You two are ripping me in half! I’ve seen what happens when neither side back down in a fight. No one wins, Tamsin, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of pain. I’m tired of loss. I can’t do it anymore—and I can’t lose you guys.”

The irony of using Grant’s gift to break into his possessions wasn’t lost on me.

“Let me go!” I yelled, trying to crane my neck and look up at him.
“Hush, I don’t want to hurt you!”
“You slammed me against the wall!”
“I restrained you so I could find out why you’re robbing me! Who sent you?”

“Fifty—or no deal. You’ll regret it if you lose me.”
“I have a feeling I’ll regret this no matter what.” Grant held out his hand to me. “Fifty it is.”

“These traitors we’re dealing with may be crafty, but even a brilliant man will get stupid with a pretty girl. And almost all of them will underestimate you.”

“You don’t have to like me,” I reminded him. “We just have to work together.”
His response was to take off his long coat and toss it to me. “Put this on.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s freezing out here. And I do like you.” He sounded as though it annoyed him to admit it.

“You really are reckless.”
“I think you meant to say ‘fearless’.”

“Aiana, do you think it would ruin the party if I choked someone?”
Her lips twitched with a smile. “I think the Thorns might frown upon that, yes.”

“Don’t correct me on your second language.”
“Isn’t it your second language too?”
“I’ve been speaking it longer.”

“You’re a little overdressed. Or maybe underdressed? That bodice looks. . .”
“Distracting?” I suggested.
“Cold.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll change so you can focus on the job.”

“Men rarely keep honest records hidden under their mattresses. It’s not the bed’s purpose.”
“You mean sleep?”
“Oh, Mirabel. You’re such an innocent.” Grant took out pen and paper from inside his coat and began copying the records. “It’s like you don’t even understand men sometimes.”

He was an exceptional actor, but he hadn’t kissed me like he was putting on a show. He’d kissed me like he wanted to consume me.

Surprise lit Grant’s face when he opened his door. Surprise and. . . something else. Wariness, maybe. Then, his features smoothed, and he was his usual blunt self. “Wisteria Hollow has terrible security.”

I looked like. . . like a girl who’d just let a man have his way with her on the floor. Except he hadn’t.

“I told him he was leading you into things you aren’t ready for.”
“And what did he say?”
“That you were doing the same to him.”

“Whoa, hey, you knew what you were getting into here. If you want hours of flowery speeches, you’d better go find out if Cedric Thorn has a brother.”


My (Writing) Life

No updates. Nothing. I literally posted my review yesterday, went to bed (okay, I ate then played ‘Choices’ on my phone, THEN went to bed) and now I’m here again, up way too early this morning, and posting this review. This much, much overdue review.

Now I’m going to take a nap.

REVIEW: Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke

Waters of Salt and Sin Book Cover Waters of Salt and Sin
Uncommon World #1
Alisha Klapheke
YA Fantasy
April 4, 2017
Kindle
386
Amazon
Flights of Fantasy
September 4 - 11, 2017

Set in a lush, high-fantasy world inspired by ancient Mediterranean cultures, Waters of Salt and Sin is perfect for Game of Thrones and Sabaa Tahir fans.

When seventeen-year-old salt witch Kinneret learns of a lost island of silver, she sets out to find it, raise her status, and finally have a chance to wed Calev, the high-caste friend she secretly loves.

But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Find the island to secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the woman’s fighting sailors will rescue Kinneret’s sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she will cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

My Review

 

I stumbled upon this book sort of by accident. I saw it listed for free in one of the book bargain newsletters I subscribe to. I download a lot of freebies that way and I was feeling a little guilty because they sit there unread. So, after a wave of guilt, I pulled up my massive list of books and chose this one at random.

And boy was I glad I did!

This book has it all. Action and adventure; a kick-ass heroine; a sweet love interest; and so much more! Taking place in a fantasy world where slavery is still an accepted practice, Kinneret is in the lowest caste there is. She and her sister, Avi, man a boat with a grumpy man named Oron. When her sister is kidnapped by slavers while they are on a quest for treasure that would buy their way up to a higher caste – a caste high enough to marry Calev, the boy she loves – her mission becomes more difficult than ever.

Over the years since indie publishing has become a thing I’ve had a lot of negative experiences with poorly written and unedited books being put out for public consumption. Fortunately, that was not the case with Waters of Salt and Sin. I could not tell you the difference between this and a book published by one of the big NY publishers. The authors writing is compelling and interesting. Something was always happening in the story and I had a hard time putting it down. If there had been a cliffhanger ending I would have bought book 2 right away. Fortunately for me there wasn’t, but I do have the next book in this series on my TBR for when my obligated reading list shrinks a bit.

So, should you read it? Fans of YA fantasy will gobble up this adventure. Great characters, an interesting plot and world, and pretty much non-stop action.


QUOTES

The glimmering saltwater winked at me and I gave it a lazy smile.
“Soon,” I whispered before heading back down.

 

I was a great liar, but I didn’t rejoice in it. Lying was the skill of the desperate, something I intended to stop being as soon as possible.

 

I shook, my teeth grinding, and the bells of my sash jingling. My dreams were broken, cracked at mid-mast and beyond repair.

 

Silver. Loads of it. More than I could picture in a thousand of my low-caste, spit-on, calloused dreams. It would be raw. It could be cursed. But it would be ours.

 

I was in love with my best friend.
And he couldn’t know until I had the silver to buy my way to high-caste. Only then could he consider me.

 

“What’s this about?” Calev asked. “I’m all for avoiding harvest prep—it’s exactly as appealing as a hug from Aunt Y’hudit—but usually I know what kind of adventure you’re dragging me into.”

 

I ignored his all-too-common, close-minded view on the line between religion, magic, and science. To me, they were just different words for the same thing.

 

“You don’t know what it’s like to have people push in front of you. To be refused service at the market because of bells.”
To watch the boy you love be promised to a girl only because of her caste.

 

“I was raised in a roadside brothel by a mother who fancied traveling theatre players,” Oron said to Calev, his words whipping toward us as the wind rose even higher, and we sped forward. “I speak the tongue of the wicked and witty.”

 

“The amir might not like this. You must be quiet, and still.”
I nodded. “I’ll be as inactive as your mind.”
“Wht?”
“What?” I echoed.

 

A ruthless amir grabbing for my silver.
My innocent sister twisting and screaming in the hands of a madman.
Salt Wraiths and legendary sea monsters.
I looked down at my hands, which suddenly didn’t seem as strong as they’d always been.

 

He was my luck, my heart, the blood in my veins, and somehow, some way, I would have him.

 

His first loyalty was to his people. Not to me. Not to the love sprouting between us.


My (Writing) Life

It’s the same thing I always say, it’s been too long between posts. I’ve been staying busy with a thousand things with my publishing job. I’m hoping things will slow down a little with the year coming to a close. Though we don’t aim to publish in December, there’s still plenty work going on in the background getting ready for January. But I’m still hoping the workload will slow at least a bit!

I’m officially DONE with edits on PEACE IN FLAMES! I’m going through a final proofing right now. I sent the book to my Kindle and I’ve got the device reading to me so that I can catch the little errors that my eyes may miss. I’m so excited to have her ready to go well before her release in February!

I had a glorious evening last night working on SUMMER OF PEACE. So much progress made. Unfortunately my heroine, JoJo, is mad at me today, so I’m a bit stuck. I know that sounds weird, but I swear, this character has taken on a life of her own. I always thought authors were crazy when they talked about “characters talking” to them. But alas, I’m one of the crazies now. JoJo is very loud, except today. Today I threw something at her that she’s having trouble processing.

Until next time….

Deja Revu – October 8, 2017

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
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Original

Meme

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Contemporary

Fantasy

Romance

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Romance

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Contemporary

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Paranormal

Romance

Suspense/Thriller

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Non-Fiction

Romance

REVIEW: Pucked by Rachel Walter

Pucked Book Cover Pucked
Rachel Walter
Contemporary YA Romance / Sports Romance
February 10, 2015
Kindle
328
The Author
Beat The Backlist
August 15, 2017

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

Who keeps the puck?

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

Review

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Let me start by saying I hate sports. I don’t “get” them and don’t follow them. I always work during the Superbowl because I could care less about the game. That said, I loved this YA sports romance! This book made me want to be a hockey fan. I mean, sports still bore me, but Rachel Walter made me feel like maybe I’m missing out on something.

This book is very deep, especially for a YA novel. Riley has a very shitty home life. His mom is a real piece of work and he has basically raised his little sister since his dad left 5 years ago. When his dad left he shut down. He turned to hockey as his only outlet, his way of making something of himself and getting out of his crappy situation.

Audrey is his best friend. She’s the only one who really gets him. She’s the only one he doesn’t ice out. Their friendship is perfect. And then he kisses her and things get weird.

Told in dual POV (Riley and Audrey) this book takes place over a long period of time. It’s not a quick romance, and I loved it that way. So much happens over a long period of time that I really got to know these characters. I was rooting for them. When Riley proclaimed time and time again that love gets in the way, my heart broke. I kept waiting for Audrey to fix him. But his issues ran so deep it wasn’t a quick fix and I think the author did the subject matter justice by not making it seem like one girl could fix a boy so broken. All she could do was help.

So yeah, I loved this story. I loved these characters. And this book made me want to love hockey as much as the Mighty Ducks movies did when I was 12! A+

So, should you read it? YA contemporary fans will eat this one up. And I can attest to the fact that you can hate sports and still love this story!


Quotes

The pissed off, Frozen Silk look comes back. The look that turns his iceberg blue eyes into sheets of steel. The same look that my dad says is rage turned to stone. But it doesn’t scare me on Riley.


I can’t hear anymore. Not everyone has a happily ever after. And not every couple stays together.


“Why do you keep apologizing?”
I sit back on my knees and help her up.
“Lots of reasons. First, I just pucked you.”


He doesn’t get to kiss me and then give me away to his best friend. Not me. Not him. I turn away from my locker, fully preparing to lay into Riley.


“I was beginning to think you wanted me to be the next crazy, cat lady.”
He smiles gently. “Never, you deserve more than cats. Maybe a ferret, they’d keep you on your toes by hiding your keys.”


Love gets in the way of everything. If I could kick my heart to the curb, I bet I could get through life easy.


“Wear the yellow dress, and he’ll do anything you say.”
“You’re trying to thaw him out, not heat him to a boil. Do not ever wear that dress around Riley again!” Candy argues.


Love is pain.
Love is empty.
Love hurts.
Love isn’t in my house. My house is a hellhole.


In my head, this is a play. It’s a one on one with interference, I feel like the puck. I’m passed, I’m sliced, I’m shot, I’m backhanded, and I’m blocked from both nets. The net minders are in control.


Ice is relatable. It’s unforgiving but freeing.


“I wasn’t sure if we would ever give our relationship a name-,”
“A name? It’s not a pet, Audrey.”


There’s ice in my head, ice in my lungs, and ice in my heart.


“Louise was right about you,” he says softly. “You’re too young to be this old.”


My (Writing) Life

I just got done with the loooongest weekend in a while. 7 hour shift on Friday, 12 on Saturday, and 8 on Sunday. Whew! It feels good to just stay home today!

Of course, my work at home is never one either. I’ve spent my morning so far setting up Amazon ads for some the books at my pub house. I’ve still got a few more to set up, not to mention covers to design, files to format, and so on.

I got word this weekend that the Peace group is planning some fun writing projects for October. So stay tuned and I’ll post more details about that soon. (Or you can just follow our Facebook page!) All I know for sure is that I’ll be writing a short flash fiction Halloween tale involving JoJo (Summer of Peace – Feb 2018) and Valerie (Peace in Flames – April 2018) which takes place before the events of both novellas. It should be fun!

I finished my proof reading job last night (woohoo!) and will have a review for that book in the future. Seriously, getting paid to read is the best. And now that I’m done with that project I can really focus on finishing the editing on Peace in Flames and the re-writing of Summer of Peace. THEN I can dive into my YA contemporary romance series, hopefully just in time for NaNoWriMo!

But enough about this. I’ve got work to do!

Did you have a long, busy weekend like I did? Or were you able to sit back and relax?

Deja Revu: September 25, 2017

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
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Original

Meme

Boho Book Club:

Reading Challenge:

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Contemporary

Fantasy

Paranormal

Romance

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Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Fantasy

Romance

Science Fiction

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Contemporary

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Historical

Mystery

Non-Fiction

Paranormal

Romance

Science Fiction

Suspense/Thriller

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Romance

REVIEW: Live Fast, Die Young by Vanessa Barneveld

Live Fast, Die Young Book Cover Live Fast, Die Young
Vanessa Barneveld
Contemporary YA Romance
September 27, 2016
Kindle
118
Amazon
Beat The Backlist
August 5, 2017

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret. Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.

My Review

If ever there was a book that made me think twice about skipping the sunscreen, it was this one.

I’ve been downloading a lot of free books lately from all those newsletter full of book deals. So many that I started to feel guilty. So, I took a break from my ARC reading and chose a book at random from my Kindle backlog. I chose this one because I liked the title and the cover looked fun. Perfect for a summer read. Bonus it was a novella!

Then I started and oh boy…

Live Fast, Die Young is an emotionally turbulent novella. Alex has terminal cancer (melanoma) and doesn’t want anyone to know. Not even his best friend, Molly, the girl he’s also in love with. He doesn’t want people to look at him differently. So, he keeps his cancer a secret and vows to live what’s left of his life to the fullest.

This story is tragic and beautiful. It can be hard to connect to characters in novellas sometimes because of the limited number of pages you have to get to know them. Vanessa Barneveld portrayed these characters seamlessly. I got to know them and grew to care for them.

The only disappointment I had was that this book, which I got as an Amazon freebie, wasn’t a prequel! I was really hoping to go buy the next book, in which Alex and Molly work to complete Alex’s bucket list before his time runs out. Or to watch Molly learn to love again after Alex’s death. I’m uber bummed that this wasn’t the case. I will however be on the lookout for more from his author.

So, should you read the book? If you want a short, well-written, tragically beautiful story look no further. If books about cancer trigger you, maybe leave this one alone.


QUOTES

Kip’s tongue flicks out and laps sauce off the corner of his lips. Could this guy be any more reptilian? I shudder.


“…But right now? I’m thinking I want to be like James Dean. You know, live fast, die young. Do things at full speed and go out with a spectacular crash.”


This is what dying feels like. When your heart pounds hard enough to crack a rib. When loud, squealing noises echo from an unseen source. When you look around and the world distorts, fades to black. When the last thing your brain registers is the thud of your head hitting the linoleum.


I don’t even remember the exact moment I fell in love with her, but I can’t imagine being out of love with her. Yet I don’t want Molly to fall in love with me. Not when I’ve got a death sentence.


My (Writing) Life

I’m a terrible, horrible person. Instead of doing real work a couple nights ago, or going to bed like I should have, I stayed up late mocking up two book covers. For myself. For books that don’t exist yet. Except very loosely in my head. To go along with another book cover I mocked up for myself. So.. yeah. I’ve pretty much got myself committed to at least a three book YA contemporary romance series, each book a standalone. Hopefully I’ll get started on that by early 2018, if not sooner.

In other news, edits on Peace in Flames are going well. And re-writes on Summer of Peace are moving along nicely as well. A new plot twist popped into my head, so hopefully that works out. I’m very excited to share these novellas with you all.

Here’s a little teaser from Peace in Flames.
(Peace in Flames is Valerie and Liam’s story. Summer of Peace is JoJo and Matt’s story.)

REVIEW: The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

The Secret of the India Orchid Book Cover The Secret of the India Orchid
Nancy Campbell Allen
Historical Romance
Shadow Mountain
August 1, 2017
E-ARC
320
NetGalley
August 28 - September 4, 2017

Anthony Blake is in love with his best friend's sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the façade of a flirtatious playboy.

Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn't as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.

She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?

My Review

 

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had just read another historical novel before I started this one, so I wasn’t really in the mood for another historical romance. My NetGally backlog was glaring at me from my Kindle though, and I knew I did have to read this sooner rather than later. All that said, I did still enjoy this story.

The first chapter was a little boring for me, but completely necessary for the plot. I enjoyed the story quite a bit actually. I was expecting a little more James Bond or Jason Bourne with the spy stuff, but it was (thankfully) not like that at all.

Both the hero (Lord Anthony Wilshire) and heroine (Sophia) are well thought-out and interesting. I especially enjoyed how strong-willed Sophia was, especially in a time where women were expected to be the opposite. The chemistry between them was also quite fun, especially as he had to watch her be admired by other men, while secretly still in love with her.

What I loved most about this book, however, is that while it is most certainly a romance, I think it was more of a mystery. Both Anthony and Sophia are trying to solve the disappearance/possible murder of… well, they actually don’t know who at first! I always find it fun to try and guess whodunnit in mystery novels and this was no different. In this book there are a number of suspects and though I wasn’t ENTIRELY surprised by the answer, I also didn’t exactly see it coming, so that’s a good thing! Additionally there were a couple other subplots that tied in with the murder plot, adding more interest and intrigue.

Should you read it? Overall this was a solid historical mystery romance. I haven’t read a lot of historical romance to compare this to, but I enjoyed it quite a bit and think it’s worth taking a chance on.


QUOTES

 

Braxton’s very presence now in his home engendered emotions that had no place in his current life, a new life he’d planned to begin that very evening by announcing his intentions to court a beautiful woman who had become his dearest friend.

She narrowed her eyes, her nostrils flaring slightly, much preferring anger to heartache. Perhaps it was time to petition God again about striking him dead. That thought cheered her immeasurably, and she looked forward to the coastline with a smile.

The familiar sound of his voice had washed over her like warm rain, and it had taken true restraint to keep from launching herself at him.

“You frighten me, Rachael Scarsdale. What will you do? Make sure of medieval torture devices?”
“Oh, Sophia, what nonsense.” They reached the drawing room and Rachael smiled. “I don’t have access to any of those.”

“Oh, it is no impertinence on my part, I assure you! Lord Wilshire and I are the dearest of friends, you see. He is rather like my own brother. We are truly family.” Sophia thought she heard Anthony grinding his teeth, but she wasn’t certain.

Anthony’s eyes narrowed fractionally. She felt a thrill course through her limbs and caught her breath. He was irritated. Well, let him be. He made this friendship bed, and now he could lie down in it.

“You never even kissed me! I had no desire to be publicly ruined, but gentleman steal kisses from ladies frequently. I heard all sorts of gossip in the retiring rooms. Do you have any ida how long I was waiting for you to snatch a momenta t a party, perhaps two seconds in the shadows of the balcony—” He tilted her face up with both hands and cut off her sentence.

“Are you well?” he asked Sophia quietly.
She nodded, but swayed on her feet.
“Shall I carry you to your bedchamber?” His lips twitched, and she smiled.
“Yes, please, my lord. Perhaps if I should faint, you would be obliged.”
He leaned close to her ear, taking advantage of the distraction now spilling through the house. “And then I should be obliged to loosen your stays so you might regain your breath. Strictly for your well-being of course.”

And by all that was holy, if Braxton did not stop leering at Sophia, Anthony was prepared to put his fist in the man’s throat.

“My petticoat is exposed, but not my ankles. My modesty is preserved.”


My (Writing) Life

Ahhh……

It’s been a long weekend. After a busy Friday evening at the hotel, I spent all of Saturday doing party prep. Cleaning, assisting with removing branches from trees (this is normal party prep, right???), and baking. Plus birthday dinner at Culvers. Today, on my daughter’s 6th birthday, we had family over to celebrate. It went off without a hitch. And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’ve come out of hosting a party not utterly exhausted. It does feel nice to just relax though after all that!

This week is an exciting one. I’m off work (at the hotel) until Thursday evening, which means I’ll be dedicating a lot of time to working and setting myself a schedule for my days offincluding a house cleaning schedule. I’m also going to make sure I get at least a couple hundred words written each day.

And speaking of writing, I received the first round of edits on Peace in Flames back on Friday. I skimmed through the edits/comments from my phone and there isn’t a whole lot to address aside from accepting some punctuation changes. Yay! I do need to add a bit more with my villain but she already warned me about that.

So, yeah. That’s what’s up.

 

Did you have a busy weekend? Or were you able to just relax?