Tag Archive | 4 Stars

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: 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: 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?

REVIEW: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak

Paper Hearts Book Cover Paper Hearts
The Heartbreakers Chronicles #2
Ali Novak
YA Romance
Sourcebooks Fire
July 4, 2017 (Originally published 2014)
E-ARC
384
NetGalley
Beat The Backlist
June 1-3, 2017

"I'm sorry," he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. "It's just-I didn't want you to think of me any differently."

Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn't accept that he was the person looking down at me.

"My real name is Alec."

Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she's had the full weight of her mother's expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he'd flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he'd turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity's missing sister. And she's about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be...

My Review

This book sounded way too cute to resist requesting from NetGalley. Lucky for me, I was approved, and shortly thereafter dove in. Let me tell you, the story is as cute as the cover!

I was once a fangirl who dreamed of falling in love with the cute boys in the boybands I obsessed over. Lucky Felicity in this story actually gets the chance! When Alec Williams, lead singer for The Heartbreakers accidentally spills his drink on her during a charity ball, an unlikely romance and adventure begins.

Felicity likes Alec, but more important than starting a relationship, she wants to find her sister who disappeared three years ago. When she gets a lead on her sisters whereabouts, it’s Alec to the rescue, driving her and her two best friends across 3 states.

I loved the characters in this book. Felicity is very smart and driven, she doesn’t think twice about Alec’s fame and fortune. That means nothing to her. Alec is shy and quiet, nothing like she imagined from his public persona. Asha, Fel’s best friend, is the ultimate fan girl. She makes questionable choices, but her heart is in the right place. Boomer, her other bestie, is great comedic relief as well. Each character was utterly their own person and I loved them all in their own ways.

This is just an utterly feel good kinda book. The ending was very nicely done and everything came full circle.

The only negative thing I can say is that there was a portion of the book that took place with the rest of Alec’s band members and it just seemed to drag on and not move the story forward. Aside from that single scene, I loved this story and would love to read more from this series and this author!


Quotes

Aaron instantly backtracked, waving his hands in defense, “Crap. I didn’t mean it like that. You have a lovely face…er…I mean, you’re really pretty.”

 

His eyes were breathtaking, really, and I decided that gray was my new favorite color.

 

Every few pages were dogeared. It drove my mom crazy when I did that. She likes to keep her novels in top condition, as if they’d never been opened, but I was of the opinion that books were made to be loved and worn.

 

A magnetic energy of sorts swelled between us. It was charged and electric and impossible to ignore.

 

It was possibly the most romantic thing a guy had ever said to me, that he wanted to read the book because it was my favorite.

 

“Basically you need someone to suffer alongside you?” I asked, and satisfaction shot through my chest at my witty, almost flirty response.
His mouth quirked into a crooked grin. “Exactly. It will be terrible, I promise.”

 

“Can you give us a moment?” Then she pulled me out of earshot and hissed, “Did someone hit you over the head? There’s a fin-ass boy offering to take you on a road trip, and you can’t say no fast enough. What is wrong with you?”

 

“Alec, I can’t not go to Harvard.”
“Sure you can,” he replied. “Your problem isn’t that you have to go. It’s that you’re afraid of not knowing what you’ll do if you don’t.”

 

What in the world was a Poseidon? Clearly he wasn’t talking about the Greek god, which made me wonder if Oliver’s uncle kept some sort of finicky sea monster in a backyard pond.

 

“Hatred takes up more space in your heart that you realize, and it doesn’t leave room for things like love and joy. Trust me.”

 

“Don’t worry about me,” I replied. “Never been much of a frosting fan anyway.”
JJ gasped. “Told you she has no soul.”


My (Writing) Life

I’m very excited to announce that I’m THIS close to sending Peace in Flames, my YA contemporary romance, to my editor. I’m currently going through all of the feedback provided by my beta readers and cleaning things up and clarifying things I didn’t get across properly the first time.

The release isn’t until February (I’ll post the OFFICIAL date when it gets closer!) but I’m eager to finish this one so that I can move on and do the re-writes for Summer of Peace, my new adult contemporary romance in the Peace Novella Series. Then I can move on to the many OTHER projects I have planned!

Things would probably go faster if I quit getting distracted. Like that time I stopped mid-chapter to make the following teaser. haha

I (and the other Peace Series) authors would LOVE it if you’d be willing to support our Thunderclap here.

Oh, and we’ve launched a website for the series (I designed it!) that you can check out here: www.peacenovellaseries.com

 

REVIEW: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Watch Me Disappear Book Cover Watch Me Disappear
Janelle Brown
Mystery
Spiegel & Grau
July 11, 2017
E-ARC
368
NetGalley
July 3-10, 2017

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

My Review

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

When I started this book I thought I would hate it. I didn’t care for the narration style. But as I continued to read I found myself growing more and more invested in the mystery. Was Olive really psychic and seeing real visions of her mother? Did Billie fake her death? Was she kidnapped? Murdered? Did she really just fall into a ravine or something equally as tragic and awful while off hiking alone in the woods?

The theories were circling through my head the entire time I read this story. By the time I got to the epilogue, I had to pull my jaw off the ground. Janelle Brown really hit the nail on the head with this amazing ending.

The real central theme of this book is, can you really know someone? Really truly know the real them, not just the mask they wear for the people around them? As Jonathan and Olive dig into Billie’s life and her past, that question begins to really take over Jonathan’s thought process. As he attempts to write the love story he shared with his wife, before her death a year earlier. As he attempts to have her officially, legally, declared dead so he and his daughter can move on. As he begins to dig up more and more of Billie’s secrets…

I really don’t even know what to say in this review because everything I want to gush about will ruin everything for anyone who hasn’t read this book.

I haven’t read a lot of mysteries, but this is one of the better ones I have read and I’d rank Watch Me Disappear one almost as high as Gone Girl.

Should you read it? If you like book that keeps you guessing until the last page, THIS is the book for you!!!


Quotes

You don’t realize how much you’ll miss the asphyxiating intimacy of early parenthood until you can finally breathe again.

 

“Stop it, Olive. This isn’t healthy. Your mother is gone. Dead,” he snaps before he can stop himself. Immediately, he is stricken with remorse.

 

He used to feel like there was something of the sea hidden inside her; something wild and unfathomable.

 

She would soak up her mother’s stories about her own Lost Years—the decade during which Billie, a teenage runaway, had roamed around the Pacific Northwest and then travelled the world, hanging out with artists and activists and drug dealers—and would sense that she was failing her mother in some way. “Anyway, you didn’t want to do what I did,” Billie would say, abruptly cutting herself off, but somehow Olive knew she meant the exact opposite.

 

…the world is so vast and so beautiful and so forever—and then she remembers that she is supposed to be sad, too. How can she feel both of these things at once? The loveliness of being alive and the knowledge that it can never last?

 

There’s no rational explanation for his wife being alive that doesn’t point to her being some kind of monster. And he’s not ready to change the point of view of his entire life’s story.

 

And yet how can you ever really know the truth about another person? We all write our own narratives about the people we know and love, he realizes. We choose the story that is easiest to tell, the one that best fits our own vision for our lives. We define them in the way that’s most convenient for our own sense of self-aggrandizement. Glossing over anything that doesn’t fit into the neat little narrative because we don’t want the whole fiction to fall apart.

 

Only someone fearful of his own ordinariness would buy, so unquestioningly, someone else’s extraordinariness.

 

If I dig back far enough in Billie’s history, will I finally find someone who knows what was really going on inside her?

 

You believe what you think you believe, until suddenly, you realize that you don’t anymore. Or maybe you do believe, but it’s no longer convenient to do so, so you decide to forget. You decide to find other beliefs, ones that more comfortably fit the constant evolving puzzle of your life.

REVIEW: The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy

The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy           

Read: March 2016

Format: Uncorrected Manuscript

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Fire & Ice Young Adult Books

Release Date:

Genre: Time Travel YA

Pages: 217


ABOUT THE BOOK

Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.

Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.

With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.

Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.

Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.

Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.

Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.

Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.


REVIEW

Cassie Miller is not handling her parents divorce well. Her mom is a work-a-holic judge in England, and her dad moved to France.

After she’s kicked out of her boarding school, Her mom takes Cassie and her little brother to her ancestral home, Ludlow Park, for some quality family time. But that first night, after a big fight with her mom, a storm rolls in. While trying to sneak a cigarette, the power goes out, right as she’s standing by the creepy wolf mirror in the East Wing.

Suddenly Cassie finds she’s been sent back in time to 1714. Meanwhile, the Lady Cassandra Miller of 1714 finds herself in 2014.

This is an interesting story because while the main plot is that Lady Cassandra’s father is dying and Cassie has to stop that from happening in order to save her lineage. But more than that, it’s about family. Lady Cassandra’s mother is dead, and Cassie doesn’t get along with hers at all. During her time in 1714 she quickly realizes there are many times she wishes her mom was there for her.

Both girls find an ally/confidant in their new time and it’s quite interesting to watch them try to adapt.

I also praise Ms. Healy for her descriptions of 1714. She wasn’t overly descriptive, but there was enough for me to get a feel for a time long past.

The real gem of this story however, is the characters. From page one, I loved Cassie. I felt for her and I wanted her to find acceptance. Sure I didn’t approve of a lot of her life choices, but at the same time I understood her reasons for acting the way she did. I thought she was very well written.

I’d recommend this book for teen and adult readers alike who are looking for interesting, well-developed characters, a little mystery, and the magic of time travel.

 

Disclaimer: I do work for this publisher, and I designed the covers for this series. My rating and opinions are 100% my own. I love this series!


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REVIEW: My Delicate Destruction by Jillian Ashe

Ahhh! Goodreads somehow flagged this book as READ before I wrote the review! There was a very real possibility this could have gotten lost in my incredibly unorganized Goodreads account and never reviewed. Good thing I realized I never wrote this review and hunted it down today! Whew!

What I love about well-written indie books, like this gem by Jillian Ashe, is that it fuels my own desire to finally finish my novel. Right now I’m working on a novella for a super-secret group project (actually, I’m not really sure how secret it is any more…)

You can learn more about that project herehttps://www.facebook.com/PeaceNovellaSeries

Once I get through this story (which I’m really loving and proud of so far!) I’m planning on getting back to my paranormal YA series which I began during NaNoWriMo 2013. I won that year, but the book is still not where I’d like it to be. So… more edits!

Until I have more news about that, keep reading my book reviews. Let me know if you find a book from my reviews – I love sharing the gift of a good story and I’d love to hear from you!


My Delicate Destruction by Jillian Ashe

Series: Wolfgang #1

Read: April 16-18, 2017

Format: Kindle

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: October 11, 2013 (originally published)

Genre: Sci-Fi

Pages: 266

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

They Promised her Hope…

My name is Katerina Anderson. In 2016, a drug called Hope was created. Administered during suspended animation, the drug was supposed to cure the cancer my twin brother and I had. When an earthquake leveled Los Angeles, we were presumed dead.

Forgotten, we slept.

The day I woke up, I realized everything had changed. My brother was missing, and everyone else I knew was dead. I booked passage on a ship to find Kris. The government thinks I’m a criminal and the cure did more than just cure my cancer. My brother is the only one who might have the answers I need, but that drug and all its false hope set me on a path I’m not sure I can follow.

Will I find my twin and learn exactly what they did to me before it’s too late?


REVIEW

I was a little bit hesitant when I began reading My Delicate Destruction by Jillian Ashe because I just wasn’t sure this was the kind of book I’d like. Not to mention it’s self published, which is always a little scary for me as a reader, because I never know exactly what kind of quality of writing/editing I’m going to get. I had no need to fear with this book though, Ms. Ashe has put out a fine finished product!

Things start off strong with Kris coming out of a pod after having been cryogenically frozen. Though very cool, this seemed like it might possibly be too sci-fi for me. And then we jump back in time and meet his twin sister and the protagonist of this series, Kat, who is totally into racing cars. Which I’m sooo not into. But I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did.

Even though car racing just isn’t my thing, I was able to move past it and it really did end up being important to the story, aside from helping to give this character a personality. I really liked Kat, she was feisty and strong. Despite being thrown into a really scary and horrible situation, knowing her brother was out there somewhere really helped her through it all and forced her to push through it. Gave her a purpose in this new and confusing life.

I loved that the author could have chosen to have Kat, who is now so far in the future that everyone she ever knew or loved is dead, instantly fall in love (or at least in bed) with Captain Chase Wolf, but instead went for a more realistic approach. Kat is a little depressed, and rightfully so, over her situation. The man she was in love with is nothing but dust in the ground somewhere, along with her parents and friends. That’s a lot to wrap your mind around.

Despite that sadness, this book has plenty of lines that made me chuckle. And plenty of characters to fall in love with. (I’m personally a big fan of Ricky. Read the book and I think you’ll quickly find out why!)

The ending came upon me quick, and it was pretty epic, and I wish there was more! But this little segment of the story was clearly done, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next for Kat and the gang on the Wolfgang!

 

So should you read it? I think so! This is a fun and fast paced sci-fi space opera – and the story is just starting!


Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

There was nothing like good friends to keep you out of trouble, or to get you into it depending on the situation.


Kris was dying and I needed to feel like I was living enough for the both of us.


Was I afraid to die? Truthfully, there were worse things than death.


I couldn’t help but think about every science fiction movie I’d ever seen and book I’d read. Which one did my life fall into now? Would it be a false utopian society or a war torn galaxy full of freedom fighters working against evil?


They went to all that work to arrest me, but for none of the things I was actually guilty of.


The fear was almost like a friend now. It wanted to keep me alive. It was like a stuffed animal that turned into a golem when I needed it. I read about that once in the Bible. Or was that Grimm?

 

I wanted the time of heroes to return—white knights and dragons. How desperately I used to dream of dragons. Now all I had was this steel ship and the vacuum of space.


I was playing at cowboys and aliens, and I had no idea how I was ever going to find Kris without getting killed.


I didn’t know why I ever thought I could stay out of trouble. It always seemed to come looking for me.


“Not bad,” she said. “For a human.”

 

 

REVIEW: Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Read: December 27, 2016 – January 10, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC / NetGalley

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Random house

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Literary Mystery

Pages: 352

Challenges: none

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut suspense takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.


REVIEW

Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.

 

Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.

As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.

One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.

The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)

Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!

I’ll sum it up this way – for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.

So should you read the book?

If you’re into literary books – YES.

If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking – YES.

 

 I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.



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QUOTES

I’m an idiot and accidentally deleted all of my quotes from my phone! Yikes!

 

REVIEW: Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Read: February 2 – 19, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: Humor

Pages: 288

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Complete with painfully wry observations and delightfully caustic wit, this novel is a gritty exploration of what it’s like to feel incomplete in the world. All five fingers up for this bitterly satisfying tale.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Aaron is not a man on a hero’s journey. In the question of fight or flight, he’ll choose flight every time. So when a car accident leaves him suddenly asymmetrical, his left arm amputated, looking on the bright side just isn’t something he’s equipped to do.

Forced to return to his boyhood home to recuperate, Aaron is confronted with an aging father (a former Olympic biathlete turned hoarder), a mother whose chosen to live in a yurt with a fireman twelve years her junior, and a well-meaning sister whose insufferable husband proves love isn’t just blind, but also painfully stupid.

As Aaron tries to make the world around him disappear in a haze of Vicodin and medical marijuana, the only true joy in his life comes from daily ninety-second radio spots of fun science facts: the speed of falling raindrops, batteries made out of starfish, and sexual responses triggered by ringtones – all told in the lush, disembodied voice of commentator Sunny Lee, with whom he falls helplessly, ridiculously, in love. Aaron’s obsession with Sunny only hastens his downward spiral, like pouring accelerant on a fire. Pressured to do something – anything – to move his life forward, he takes the only job he can get. As a “fish counter” at the nearby dam, he concludes that an act of violent sacrifice to liberate the river might be his best, final option.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Some of the books I win from Goodreads get relegated to the DNF pile so quickly they don’t even get reviews. This is not one of those books.

Amp’d by Ken Pisani is a real treat. Take one 40 year old man, recently sans-one arm, force him to move home to live with his dad (who may have a mild hoarding problem) and his pet alligator (who lives in the bathtub) and you’ve got a recipe for hilarity.

I’ll admit, the beginning of this book felt a little too literary for me, but I chuckled a few times so I kept with it. Soon enough I’d completely fallen in love with this story. I had no clue where the plot was going until the very end, but I was eager to read more about what was going to happen to Aaron next. Everything was so over the top and cartoonish it was hard not to love it. There’s a lot of drug humor, and I’m so not a drug humor kind of person, but these characters are just so charming. Besides, it was just medical Marijuana.

Honestly, this is the kind of book I have a hard time reviewing. A lot of things happen. Most of it was funny. Maybe not fall over crying with tears funny, but consistently garnering chuckles funny. I mean, Aaron befriends a little boy with cancer, who he refers to as Cancer Boy in the narrative. He gets a job counting fish. Yes. Counting fish. I refuse to expand upon this, you need to read the book to find out more. He has a friggen alligator living in his house!

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have any heart. There is quite a bit of emotion at the end. I didn’t cry, but the story literally came full circle and left me with a solid sense of closure that I feared I wouldn’t get from a book like this.

I’m glad I read this book. And I know this review is pretty abysmal, but I highly encourage those who enjoy humorous tales to read this as well. Amp’d is a hidden gem.



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QUOTES

 

If this were a book you’d know that the guy you meet on page 1, shattered and mutilated and staring into the abyss, would by the end of the story transcend his terrible circumstances to become a better man. But this isn’t a book, this is just me talking… and I’m not the guy who beats the odds and overcomes adversity; I’m the guy who wakes up in the hospital to find out his arm has been amputated and says, Fuck me.

 

“There’s an alligator in your bathtub.”
“I thought you knew.”
“If I did, I’d forgotten.”

 

“This is why I worry about you, honey. When things are bad, you pour accelerant on them.”

 

That’s how Dad finds us on his return, both picking our noses in his kitchen, his bottle of Fleischmann’s a guilty accomplice.
“Right,” he finally says. “There never was anything to do in this town.”

 

“What are you doing now?”
“Learning Chinese.”
“See? I just learned a sentence: Kway-UR yin-UH chee. Happy baby eat. Or it could be Eat happy baby. Yes, that’s better! The next time I see a happy Chinese baby, I can tell his parents to eat him.”

 

Her glare wilts, no match for my status as object of pity, an awesome power I should probably use for good, not evil, but know I’m going to milk like dairy farmer.

 

“If there was a future in bullshit, Aaron,” she says, “you’d be unstoppable.”

 

“I don’t remember what you wanted to be when you grew up—”
“Pretty sure it was a guy with two arms.”

 

As any hockey player could tell you, it’s harder to score after repeated blows to the head, rendering future offspring unlikely.