Tag Archive | 5 Stars

REVIEW: Meet Me There by Judy Corry

Meet Me There Book Cover Meet Me There
Ridgewater High Romance #1
Judy Corry
YA Contemporary Romance
March 6, 2018
Kindle
266
Amazon
April 12-13, 2018

A dark Chemistry lab. A fake British accent. It's all fun and games until somebody falls in love.

When sixteen-year-old, Ashlyn Brooks, runs into a sweet British guy in the dark Chemistry lab, she has no idea she's actually sitting in the pitch black room with her longtime rival, Luke Davenport. She also doesn't know that she's stepped into another one of the football captain's pranks. It isn't long before she's sharing things she's never told anyone, and starting to fall for the mysterious guy with a sexy accent who seems to understand her in a way no one ever has before.

When Luke's mom dies the summer before his senior year, he turns to pranking Ashlyn to keep his mind off his loss. But the more he gets to know her, the more he regrets using his fake British accent in the first place. Soon Luke is walking the thin line of keeping his lies a secret and wishing he could tell her that the boy she's falling for is really him.

Meet Me There is a standalone novel in The Ridgewater High series, a collection of simmering YA contemporary romances. If you like sweet romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, swoony kisses and endearing characters then you'll love Judy Corry's latest book.

Current Books in the series:
Meet Me There (Ashlyn and Luke's story)
Don't Forget Me (Eliana and Jess's story)

My Review

I’m pretty sure this is my first book by Judy Corry, and I don’t think it will be my last. This is also the first book I’ve read in a while that I bought on a whim. I think I saw the cover or a teaser or something on Twitter, clicked the link for Amazon, skimmed the preview, and the next thing I know I’d one clicked.

I’m sure glad I did, too, because Meet Me There was an absolute treat! My Kindle read this to me over the course of two days (probably 6.5 hours?) at work. (Yeah, I know, my job is amazing.)

I bought the book because the concept reeled me in. A couple of teens who have had a prank rivalry going on? Sound awesome! A British accent? Like 99% of all American girls, I swooned a little.

So yeah, you’ve got Ashlyn the dancer who’s falling for this mystery British boy, and you’ve got Luke, the cute football player who’s always pranking her and also pretending to be said British boy. As they’re falling for each other with his pretend identity, she’s enlisted to teach him to dance for a fundraiser event. Obviously hijinks and swoon-worthy moments are going to ensure.

Seriously though, scroll up and read the blurb if you skipped it. This book is absolutely adorable and is pretty much guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. I wish I had written this book. Wait, no, I don’t. Because then I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading this book. But really, if you love sweet romance stories featuring realistic characters with steamy chemistry, give this book a try.

Once I’m caught up on my backlist a little more I’m sure I’ll somehow find my way back to Amazon to pick up the second book in this series, Don’t Forget Me.


Quotes

(Confession – I was SO into this book as I was listening at work that for the first half I forgot to highlight good quotes! Oops!)

British Boy’s kiss wasn’t hurried and rushed like the other guys I’d kissed in the past. His hands didn’t try wandering to places I didn’t want them to go. Instead, he made me feel like I was special, like we had all the time in the world to get to know each other better. Like we had more than just today to kiss. And suddenly, I knew these few minutes wouldn’t be nearly long enough.


Dang. I bit my lip. His arms were definitely not made of air. They were made from heaven itself.


“You seem cheerful. Something good happen this morning at drill practice?” Her smile made me uneasy. Had she figured out the truth somehow and was just being really sweet before she smacked me?

“Not unless you call being chewed out by your coach for dancing too sloppily good.” She sighed.

“Nope, not my kind of fun. I’m pretty sure I know what you’re talking about. Just last week, my dance coach told me my muscles were made of air and that I couldn’t dance to save my life.”


My (Writing) Life

I’m still slowly but surely writing my new YA contemporary romance, code name SIGA. It’s coming along, but I’m having this problem where I’m having all these ideas for the second book…. #WriterProblems

In other news, I was feeling super stressed with too much on my plate, but I’m suddenly feeling lighter. I think I was stressing, without realizing it, about being a guest presenter at an RWA meeting yesterday. Now that I’m done with that I’m feeling better. And before that I was stressing about getting my house ready for my daughter’s birthday party. Then we got hit with a blizzard. In April. (Someone PLEASE remind me why I live in this frozen wasteland??? Oh, right… family… and amazing summers!) Anyway, that’s postponed for end of May. So that stress will return in a couple weeks!

I’ve also been keeping busy beta reading for the amazing Rachel Walter. I envy her ability to create such flawed and awesome characters.

In case you’re not counting down the days as I am, FIVE MORE DAYS until the release of Summer of Peace! I’m more than a little excited you guys. I’ve got a blog tour starting Friday (I still open slots if any of you are bloggers and interested – shoot me a message!) JoJo is my favorite character I’ve published to date. (My hero from SIGA is my all time favorite character, sorry JoJo.) And Matt is pretty swoon-worthy IMO. I can’t wait for everyone to read their story.

I’m setting a goal for myself to post a review once a week, on my one day off work. (Yeah, the crappy thing about working two jobs is that I only have one day off each week now! That’ll change come summer though, I’m cutting back my hours at the hotel!)

So, hopefully you’ll see me again next Saturday on my day off! (Although I’m out of town most of the day, so we’ll see if it happens!)

 

Spotlight Tour: BUSTED by Gina Ciocca + GIVEAWAY

Busted Book Cover Busted
Gina Ciocca
YA Contemporary Romance
Sourcebooks Fire
January 2, 2018
E-ARC
352
NetGalley
December 13 - 16, 2017

Catching cheaters and liars is a lucrative hobby—until you fall for one of the suspects. Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, this new novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake will steal your heart!

Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation—and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take “cheater” to a whole new level…

Review

I loved this book! It’s been far too many books since I’ve had a YA in front of my eyes, and I’m so glad this was the one I picked up at this time.

Marisa, Charlie, TJ and even Nick were all great characters to read about. They all had their negative character traits and their positives, which made them feel very real. By the time I finished the book I was glad to have gone on this journey with them, but also sad to be saying goodbye. I want a sequel to read more about Marisa, but I don’t want any more bad to come to her, so… I guess I don’t want a sequel?

I loved how there were so many layers in this book. Anything could be a clue as to what the hell is ACTUALLY going on, and you just don’t know until you get to the end and realize the significance something you read earlier has.

I even loved Marisa’s parents. They were very cool and trusting parents.

It’s been… a few years… since I was in high school, and I just hope that not all high schools are full of such shitty boys like the two schools in this book! The good guys in this book certainly seemed to be the exception to the rule.

I would absolutely recommend this to teens and adults alike who are looking for a fun contemporary with a touch of romance and mystery. Nice work Ms. Ciocca, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!


Quotes

If I hadn’t been in line behind—what the hell was his name? Greg? George?—my double order of Sexual Chocolate (yes, really) and I would be on our way to Charlie’s house for a Saturday movie, gossip, and anti-nutrition night like so many other Saturday’s before.

 

Outing a scumbag felt more badass than anything I’d ever done—especially when I told her how I’d gotten the picture, and she looked at me like I’d parted the Red Sea.

 

And that’s when the bubble of positivity I’d been floating in since reconnecting with Kendall Keene in the parking lot bust like a microwaved marshmallow all over the room.

 

“I don’t know, Kendall,” I sighed into my cell phone. “This is different from what I’ve done before. You’re not asking me to follow him for a night or two. You’re basically asking me to stalk him. This feels… sneaky.”

“How is it any sneakier than trespassing on private property and aiming a camera inside someone’s living room?”

She had a point.

 

The word okay came out of my mouth, but in my mind it sounded a hell of a lot more like oh shit.

 

“When you care about someone, you don’t sneak around and do things that would hurt her if you did them o her face. You care about how your actions affect her.” I took a step toward him. “You don’t worry that the grass is greener in every goddamn yard but our own. You put her first once in a while instead of think about yourself all. The. Fucking. Time.”

 

He’d been rubbing his chin—which he still hadn’t shaved, and I wondered if i was specifically to drive me crazy.


Marisa’s Top 5 Tips For Sleuthing:

Hey there. Marisa Palmera, Private Eye here. Okay, so I don’t actually call myself that, and neither does anyone else. In fact, I never meant to become a sleuth-for-hire. But spend one night scaling your best-friend’s boyfriend’s house to take incriminating pictures, and suddenly everyone wants you to be something you’re not…and when they’re willing to line your sadly lacking pockets for it, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

So, should you find yourself an unwitting Girl Friday (or even a witting one… Is “witting” a thing?) like I did, here are some tips that just may save your butt:

  1. Always have a camera handy. Whether it’s your cell phone, or the fancy camera you borrowed from your school’s yearbook club, you never know when you’ll need to snap an evidence shot. Just, um, make sure you turn off the flash if said camera is aimed through a window into a dark living room. I may have learned this the hard way.
  2. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Sounds ominous and dramatic, I know. But if someone gives you the vibe that they shouldn’t be let out of your sight? GO WITH IT.
  3. Think fast. Suck at lying? Me too. Get over it, because you’ll be fudging the truth a lot.
  4. But know when to say no. Weave enough white lies, and suddenly they’re a sticky, tangled web with you trapped inside. Know when it’s time to run, and do it like the flames of hell are licking your feet.
  5. Don’t fall for the person you’re investigating. You’re just gonna have to do as I say and not as I do on this one. Oops.

Excerpt

My eyes darted from TJ’s dark, furrowed eyebrows to the logo on the left breast of his shirt and I sat up straighter.

“Um, where’d you get the Maple Acres shirt?”

His expression didn’t change. “Maple Acres.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “Right. I meant, do you work there?”

“Yup.” He sat back in his chair and pulled at the logo, stretching the white cotton away from his chest before turning his attention back to the computer screen. “Long time now.”

As soon as he said it, my memory was triggered. I’d always thought he looked familiar but could never quite place where I’d seen him. As I thought back to every trip I’d taken to Maple Acres, twice a year since I was two years old, the image of a boy with dark curls stuffed beneath a knit cap and a heavy flannel coat that made him look like Paul Bunyan clicked into place. The farm stretched over two hundred and fifty acres, selling pumpkins and cider and offering hayrides and a corn maze in a fall, then Christmas trees that you cut down yourself in the winter. The place had a storybook quality to it that I loved, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out TJ was a part of it.

“We go there for our tree every year. I think I’ve seen you.”

TJ kept his eyes on the screen. “Probably. I’m usually bundling the trees or in the checkout area. Sometimes I drive the tractor for the hayrides.” He glanced over long enough to shoot me a half smile. “Maybe you’ve seen the back of my head.”

That would’ve been an occasion I definitely hadn’t noticed him. The one and only time I’d taken a hayride had been the lone trip I’d made without Charlie or my dad, both of whom are allergic to hay. I’d gone with Jordan. Superman himself could’ve been driving the tractor and I would’ve been too busy drooling over Jordan in his plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up around his gorgeous forearms to notice.

Vom, vom, vom. I pushed the chunks down and forged ahead. “So, that thing you didn’t want to do the last time we talked, is that… still an issue?”

“Uh, no. That fell through, so my article should be good to go on Monday.”

He’s not making this easy for me, that’s for sure.

“Take your time, really. I hope you didn’t cancel your plans because of me.”

He glanced over and gave me a wry smile. “No.”

“So, um, the tree farm. I go all the time.” I mentally slapped myself. Twice a year is all the time? “Do you live nearby?”

“You know the green colonial across the street behind the barn?”

“Uh huh.”

He smiled again. “That’s my house.”

“Wait, I thought the owners lived there.”

“They do. We have for my whole life.”

“Your family owns Maple Acres?” I blinked a few times, dumbfounded by my own dumbness.

“Well, co-owns. Have you seen the guy with the white hair who sneaks free gourds to all the little kids at Halloween? That’s my Uncle Roger. He’s there all the time, but my dad does more of the financial stuff.”

My face lit up. “That’s awesome! I love that place! I took a picture of the white barn from the top of the hill once and tried to sketch it. All the trees had snow on them, the sky was this amazing gray color and the pond was reflecting it” – I remembered mid-babble that I’d veered off course and reigned myself back in – “anyway, let’s just say it was magical, but drawing isn’t my strong suit. So, um, if you didn’t move, then why did you switch schools?”

TJ’s eyes slid back to the computer screen and his shoulder tensed ever so slightly, as if I’d brought up something he didn’t really want to talk about. Now I was getting somewhere.

“Our property is right at the intersection of three town lines. Technically, I could’ve gone to any one of the high schools.” He stabbed a few keys with his pointer finger, eliciting three clipped clicks. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I swore his jaw tightened. “I left Templeton because it was time for a change of scenery.”

“It must’ve been hard, though, transferring for your senior year.” And pretty odd, in my opinion. “I’m sure you had a lot of ties there.”

TJ’s fingers paused in mid-air over the keyboard and he looked at me. “Not that many.”

This time when he turned his attention back to the screen, I knew our conversation had ended. He ran a hand through his hair in a gesture that had a definite undertone of irritation. Whether it related to my question or some memory pertaining to the school, I couldn’t tell. But when I caught sight of the leather bracelet on his wrist, my desire to exclaim OMG THAT’S GORGEOUS WHERE DID YOU GET IT almost overruled my desire to ask what the hell his comment was supposed to mean. I’d been baiting him to say, “Yeah, my girlfriend goes there.” He hadn’t. What did that mean?

Maybe nothing.

But damn it all to hell, I suddenly had to know for sure.


The Author

Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood. Gina can also be found online at writersblog-gina.blogspot.com, on Instagram as gmciocca, and Twitter as gmc511.


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


My (Writing) Life

First things first….. PEACE IN FLAMES is available for preorder! I’m totally psyched about this because it’s my first solo release and the first completed project I’ve been proud of! Now I just need to finish my read through of the follow up novella, SUMMER OF PEACE, and send it off to my editor. That one will be available for public consumption in April.

Otherwise I’m working on a NA PNR, but I’ve hit a bit of a wall, so I may flip over to my YA contemporary romance instead. We’ll see. I’ve got a lot to ponder plot wise on both. (I’m still working on mastering that whole “outlining” thing. LOL)

In other news, I’m working on catching up on writing my last couple reviews from 2017. I’m hoping to post them ALL before the months end. I’m also at least halfway through two separate backlist titles for 2018 and the #BeatTheBacklist reading challenge, then I’ll jump into my NetGalley pile.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

REVIEW: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones Book Cover The Beautiful Ones
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Historical Romance (with a touch of paranormal)
Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
October 24, 2017
E-ARC
320
NetGalley
August 20-23, 2017

In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband. However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive.

The Beautiful Ones is a sweeping fantasy of manners set in a world inspired by the Belle Époque.

Review

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

  

Oh goodness this book….

Okay, right off the bat I wasn’t crazy about his one. The blurb promised me telekinesis and I expected this big paranormal world with hidden superpowers or something. Instead, I got a Victorian romance.

Once I got over the disappointment that the telekinesis was really just used as a plot devise, (both the hero and heroine have this power), I really got involved with the story and the characters.

Let me warn you, right off the bat, that the main characters are not instantly likable.

Hector begins courting Nina just to be close to Valerie. He and Valerie, a decade before, had shared a whirlwind romance complete with a secret engagement. An engagement that she ended when she married another man—Nina’s cousin. Though he did things for the wrong reasons, it was easy to like and forgive Hector.

Nina is a so naïve at times it’s hard to root for her, but she grows so much as a character in this book.

And Valerie… well, to put it nicely, she is a selfish brat for 99.9% of this book. She has her reasons, but those reasons never justified all the wicked things she did in this reader’s opinion. She was an excellent villain.

This book is told in third person POV from all 3 of the aforementioned characters. Getting into each of their heads was really crucial to the execution of this story. Without each of their internal thoughts there’s no way a reader could feel anything except hatred, or at least annoyance, with them.

The story is also told in two parts and lasts the course of an entire year. When I reached the end of part 1 I was heartbroken. I was flipping pages like mad trying to get through part 2 to see the happy ending I wanted.

And in the end, the telekinesis played an important role in the story. It wasn’t just there to add something new and different. It actually was important to the plot.

So, should you read it? If you enjoy historical romances of epic proportions and are looking for something new and different…. and if you’re the kind of person who loves to see characters redeem themselves and get what’s coming to them, read this book. (There’s also a good old fashioned duel. No joke. It’s great!)


Quotes

(From an advanced digital review copy. Actual print copy may differ.)

 

“It’s probably best if we exit this room now. A bachelor such as myself, a young lady such as yourself— we wouldn’t want to cause a scandal.”

  

“Do you make it a habit to go to balls, then, and creep into the library to brush up on your history?”
“Do you talk to all men in this manner?” he replied, growing more curious than irritated.

 

While her mother was expecting only a suitable match, Nina was hoping for the romance of a lifetime followed by the grandest wedding imaginable.

 

The universe was unveiling new wonders every day, motorcars and the photographic camera, to name but a handful of the inventions dazzling the world. She preferred to classify herself as one of these new wonders.

  

Valérie had shattered him. The intensity of emotion he felt in those days had vanished, and in its place there lodged a tepid, distant approach to everyone.

 

She was Gaetan’s cousin, but also one of those people, the country folk who seek to ingratiate themselves with the Beautiful Ones and must be repelled.

 

Perhaps he expected her to fail in this demonstration. But she had not been called the Witch of Oldhouse for no reason.

  

You’ve come to hurt me, Hector. You’ve come to toy with us. Feel free to toy with her. But you’ll find I am not a piece you can slide across your board.”

  

He tried to imagine what he might be like if he’d never laid eyes upon her, if they’d never spoken. Whether he might be happy or equally miserable. Perhaps he was predisposed to follies, the victim of a nervous ailment.

  

Hector had spent so many years being the man who loved Valérie that he could not conceive of becoming anything else. She was a goddess at whose feet he worshipped, and to cease in his adoration of her would imply he had spent a decade following a false idol.

  

“You don’t know how it was when I was small, how they’d taunt me for it. I didn’t mean to make the flour fly through the kitchen, I didn’t mean to make the stones rain or the porcelain shatter. It happened and they’d frown or they’d laugh or they’d say, ‘There goes the Witch of Oldhouse.’”

 

Valérie had never been gentle or simple. But her passion, tucked under her perfect exterior, had echoed the passion within him. They were both creatures of tempestuous seas and stormy nights.

 

 “Why do they call it the Philosophers Club?”
“After a few drinks, all men become philosophers.”

 

 The food there was excellent and the service appalling, which was a requirement at any chic restaurant.

 

She looked at him carefully, and saw a man. Not the romantic notion of a man she’d glimpsed before, her vision colored with memories of books and plays. A man, flawed and sad, who’d hurt her once , but whom she nonetheless esteemed.

  

“Do you think he is serious?” Hector asked.
“About what, breaking your jaw?”

  

She was the princess in storybooks, the embodiment of every girlish fantasy she’d ever had.
She felt, however, as if she were drowning and kept thrashing her legs in a futile attempt to remain afloat.

 

 “What happens when you stop loving me?” he asked tersely.
That was the crux of the matter, the invisible dividing line on the floor.

 

 

“When you knocked on my door, I was half-dead. I had spent days dragging my sorry carcass around my room, convinced I would not see you again and wishing I could tear the world apart for this injustice.”

 

Nina giggled as he tried to undo the buttons of her dress. “Here?” she asked. “But the bed—”
“Books detailing the mating habits of beetles don’t explain everything, it seems.”

 

 

“You look as happy as a clam.”
“I would think clams cannot be happy, since they are mollusks who spend their days filtering water,” Hector replied.


My (writing) Life

Last week I got hit by a nasty bug, like, to the point where I went to The Urgency Room to get it checked out because I thought there was a chance I had strep. Turns out it’s just a nasty virus. I should have known better, I never have symptoms when I get strep – I just spread it. Just call me Typhoid Mary! Anyway, aside from a cough and stuffy nose I’m past the worst of it. The peak of horribleness was Thursday when I spiked a fever of 101.8 – at work! That was fun. NOT. At least I got paid to be sick though?

The good thing about being so sick and miserable those few days? I didn’t feel well enough to do any work for my publishing job, so I pretty much didn’t. That left me plenty of time to write. Yes, writing is work, but I can’t screw it up, like I could, say, formatting a book. Okay, I mean, I can screw it up, but I end up reading through my work 50 bazillion times (minor exaggeration) for errors anyway, so it didn’t matter. I ended up making great progress on Summer of Peace. I’m so excited for this series!

I’ve also had some EUREKA moments while planning out my YA contemporary romance series that’s coming next. By planning, I do I mean thinking of random details/plot points while doing other things. Usually listening to music. Current country music has been awesome for my writing.

So yeah, that’s about all that’s going on.

Has anyone else been hit by one of the nasty bugs going around?

 

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: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Read: July 24, 2017

Format: NetGalley E-ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Pages: 304 Pages

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?


REVIEW

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

 

BE STILL MY HEART!

This book grabbed me from page 1. There’s so much I love about this story. On the surface it’s a friends to lovers romance, but it’s deeper than that.

First of all, there may be some spoilers here. I’m trying to keep them VERY mild so they won’t spoil your enjoyment of the story.

The characters in this book are amazing.

Jillian is the good girl. She’s an only child, a straight A student, and an excellent baker with dreams of going to a prestigious cooking school in New York City.

Max is the bad boy. He was Jillian’s best friend growing up, but after his father had a stroke, he took it really hard. He started acting out, getting drunk, and partying.

But these characters are so much more than that. When Jillian’s family life gets rocky, we see her struggle to cope. Meanwhile, we see that Max is more than a party boy. He’s really broken up, wracked with guilt over his father’s stroke, convinced it’s his fault. He’s in a rocky relationship with his sisters best friend, and though she treats him like garbage, he knows that part of that is because of how he’s treating her. But being a teenager under so much stress, he doesn’t have the maturity to handle things properly.

When Jill and Max fall into a physical (kissing/making out) relationship this sparks new feelings and emotions in both. They both know it’s wrong, because Max has a girlfriend, but they both want it.

If you hate cheating under any condition, this might not be the book for you. I personally feel it was handled well. There are actually multiple cheating storylines going on here, and I felt like the author tackled them nicely. Because here’s the thing. We’re all human. People make mistakes. Is cheating right? No. It’s selfish and disrespectful. But what makes this story so beautiful is how the characters deal with their actions. The consequences they suffer. I really don’t want to say too much because it would really spoil the book. I’ll just say this, Jillian feels 100% guilty for having ever kissed Max while he was still seeing his girlfriend, even if he instigated it. She even puts an end to things because even though she does want to be with him, she doesn’t want to be the other woman.

So should you read this? If you have zero tolerance for cheating story lines under any condition, run far away. However, if you want a steamy/funny/sweet romance with a good message – despite the cheating – dive into this one.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

– From an advanced release copy, subject to changing in the final copy

 

Max is little more than a peripheral figure in my life these days, but Dad’ll be pissed if he finds the neighbor boy lurking outside my window like a creeper.

 

I have the briefest, most inappropriate thought ever: I wonder what he tastes like?, before I remember how damaged he is.

 

Just like that, I forget all the reasons why kissing Max Holden is an awful idea.

 

He’s probably nursing a hangover, and he’s sporting his semipermanent scowl, but still. He looks good.

 

I want to go to him because, more than anything in the world, I want him to tell me he’s willing to try to get his life back on track. But I don’t think he is, and I won’t enable him—not like Becky.

 

How on God’s green earth did I think this was a good idea? How can Max and I be friends when I’m hyperaware of the energy crackling between us? When I know how his kisses make my skin sing.

 

“I don’t understand why, but you’ve stayed with Becky through thick and thin and all the bullshit in between. Even though you cheated on her, she still wants to be with you. Honestly, I think you guys are terrible for each other, but for whatever reason, you’re hanging on. At the risk of sounding like a shrink, I feel like you need to do some serious thinking about what you want from her. It’s not fair otherwise.”

 

Break the rules blatantly and people rarely question you—a lesson I learned from Max.

 

“Thank you, Nostradamus. Consider your prediction noted and ignored.”

 

“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but my happiness relates directly to yours. I never want to see you cry again.”

 

“What’d you do this morning?”
“Made fondant.”
“What the hell is fondant?”

 

“Even though I knew cheating was fundamentally wrong, I still took part…. Does genuine emotion pardon unfaithfulness?

REVIEW: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Read: June 25-27, 2017

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Random House, Del Rey Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: YA / NA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.


REVIEW

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

 

First of all, can we look at this cover? How cool is this cover! And it’s entirely appropriate for this book. Like, I can’t think of any cooler cover for this book. It perfectly sums up the story and the character Elanna.

So, as far as I can tell this is a stand alone fantasy novel. It’s billed as YA, but it’s really more upper YA into NA due to one steamy scene. I hope this becomes a series though, because I was blown away. I’m just not sure what is left of the story to tell… but I’d still read it!

This world and magic system is so cool. Basically, El lives in a country where magic is outlawed. If someone is suspected of magic, the Witch Hunters are called, and it’s a death sentence. So El doesn’t tell anyone that plants come alive around her – one touch of her finger and she can make them grow. She has big plans of going off for further training to be a botanist. Of course, the king might have other plans, like an arranged marriage.

No worries about that whole arranged marriage by the king thing though, because the king is murdered. Oh, and El is one of the prime suspects. And aside from taking her away from her parents and homeland at five years old to become a political prisoner—due to her father leading a rebellion, she actually kind of liked the guy. So begins her tale. She goes through a lot of changes of heart in this book, starting with not wanting anything to do with her parents. Not wanting to accept her magic. Wanting things to stay the same for her in King Antoine’s court.

El’s journey is a long one. Like, this book could have been broken into like, at least a trilogy, but it wasn’t, and I’m glad the author chose to keep it as one book. It meant no wait time to finish this journey!

The magic in this book is so cool. The land is literally alive and that power lives inside Elanna. There’s a lot of talk of the ancestors and ancient magics and so on. I loved it.

The romance? I don’t know if I was just in the mood for this kind of romance or what, but I immediately fell under Jahan’s charms. His personality was just so… charming! And he’s got secrets of his own. He was very easy going and had a nice sense of humor.

This review does this book no justice. Seriously, none. I can’t even describe all the feels. I can say this though, I did not want to put this book down. Most times I have my specific reading times and I stick to them. With this book? That went out the window. I read and read, and then I read some more. Until I’d devoured this entire thing in 3 days time—which is pretty quick for me for a book this long.

So, long story short: fans of YA fantasy tales with really cool and unique magic systems and a swoon worthy love interest will enjoy this story.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

It’s been fourteen years, last night. Fourteen year since King Antoine took me hostage; fourteen years since I’ve seen or heard from my parents.

 

I’m supposed to be safe here, safe to taunt myself with a magic I am not supposed to possess. A magic I still don’t understand.

 

I have no power but the king’s mercurial affection, which would vanish as soon as anyone named me a witch.

 

For a moment, I forget to be afraid. I just want to listen. I want to understand what the plants are saying.

 

“Jahan what?” I demand. “And I’ll thank you to state your intentions as well!”

A snort escapes him: He’s definitely trying not to laugh. “Jahan Korakides, at your service, demoiselle. I swear to you, my intentions are nothing but honorable.”

“Indeed?” I say. “A man takes a woman—by magic—and knocks her senseless, and she comes to on a horse in the middle of the night, and she’s supposed to assume his intentions are honorable?”

 

But I won’t use my magic to help them. It’s too dangerous, and it gives others ideas. It makes them think I might be what they want me to be.

 

“But you never came for me,” I say. “You left me there. You left me—”

“No,” she says fiercely. “I was always with you. Every day. Every moment. I am your mother, and I was with you.”

 

There’s a story in which Wildegarde makes an entire forest grow overnight; the next morning, the trees rip their roots from the ground and walk.

 

“…The Ereni had to fight their way through shifting forests and hills; they drowned in streams that appeared out of nowhere and valleys that seemed never to end. So by the time they reached Barrony, they wanted more than conquest. They were half mad. They wanted blood.”

 

The earth knew what I wanted. It did as I asked.

 

“So you trust me now?” His breath touches my face; his fingertips linger on my neck.

“Maybe,” I say with a laugh that catches in my throat.

 

REVIEW: Echo of the Cliffs by D. G. Driver

Echo of the Cliffs by D. G. Driver

Series: Juniper Sawfeather #3

Read: September 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Fire & Ice YA Books

Date Published: June 6, 2017

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy / Mythology

Challenges: Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Three warriors asked the sun to grant them wishes
of immortality to protect their people forever.

One was turned into a merman,
another was turned into a tree,
and the final warrior was turned into a stone.

Juniper Sawfeather has learned there is truth to this American Indian legend. She knows how it connects the mermaids she saved from an oil spill to the ancient spirit that trapped her in the branches of an Old Growth tree. Now she wants to find out if the final part of this legend is true: that some kind of magical stone exists. A lone mermaid finds her and shares a vision of a cliff along the ocean shore. This must be the place, and June knows she needs to find it.

Tragedy happens when June and her boyfriend, Carter, join her parents on a mission to the San Juan Strait to collect evidence of construction run-off pollution, and they are attacked by a killer whale. June is convinced that the killer whale was led by mermaids, and she is desperate to find out why they attacked and where they are hiding. Once again, Juniper is on a heroic mission, the most frightening adventure yet. A thrilling ending to this award-winning trilogy!


REVIEW

 

It’s no secret how much I absolutely love D. G. Driver’s writing. She could probably make a shopping list interesting. When she sent me the final book in the Juniper Sawfeather series I was ecstatic to dive in and find out what happens next.

It was a bittersweet journey; June’s story arc is complete, answers are given, and the ending is highly satisfying. But… it’s the end. And that saddens me. The bright side is that Driver has written the story to include a possible New Adult spin off series. Fingers crossed that happens!

In Cry of the Sea June discovered real mermaids and helped rescue them from the evil oil tycoons. In Whisper of the Woods June was almost trapped in a tree for the rest of eternity by an ancient Native American spirit. She also learns of a legend she’s determined to get to the bottom of. Now, in Echo of the Cliffs, June sets off to find her mermaids again and find the final piece to put the ancient spirits to rest.

This story is packed full of action, magic, and Native American legends. Far more action than the other two books put together, this book is an action packed ride. Beloved characters go missing and magic goes awry.

EotC begins shortly after the events of WotW, with June watching the ocean with her boyfriend Carter and best friend Haley. Sure she saw a mermaid below, June frantically tries to get to the water and nearly dies. And this is just chapter one. From there we set off with Carter and June’s parents to collect water samples from a potentially polluted home development on the shore, to searching for a mysterious cliff and waterfall. There are killer whales and mermaids and spirit dreams. Things with Carter get shaky and we find out some not so good things about his parents. The media are after June and her parents yet again after a run in with a killer whale ends badly. Not to mention, Haley is fighting to get the school principal reinstated and the assistant principle fired!

Seriously, this book was full of so many feels for me. If you haven’t read this series yet, now is the time. Grab a copy of Cry of the Sea first, then read through to the end. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you love stories set in our world with a touch of magic and mermaids.

(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!)


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Print

~ Add to Goodreads ~


Catch up with book 1, Cry of the Sea, here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Print

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

Mermaids are real.

Teenager Juniper Sawfeather rescues three of them from dying in an oil spill. She thinks sharing news of them will convince people to fight against oil pollution, but she’s wrong. Things quickly spiral out of control. How can she prevent the mermaids from being exploited by the media? Or murdered by the oil company?

 

 


Read the prequel to the Juniper Sawfeather series  in the ~ FREE ~  Kick Ass Girls of Fire & Ice freebie collection:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Print

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Series: Follow Me Back #1

Read: January 15 – 17, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: June 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 368

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA Reading Challenge

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.


REVIEW

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

 

Words cannot epitomize the epicness of this book. My mind still reels every time I think of it!

Girl (Tessa Hart) has something bad happen to her. Girl becomes agoraphobic. Girl turns to obsessing over a super hot singer boy (Eric Thorn), following him on Twitter. Without intending to, girl starts a hashtag trend about boy.

Boy has his own issues. Sees the hashtag and who started it. Creates fake twitter. Trolls girl. Somehow ends up in a friendship with girl. Together they share a deep personal connection, even though they’ve never seen each other and she doesn’t know his true identity.

This book is all kinds of epic. We get to experience the cliched fangirl and her celeb crush fall in love scenario but in a completely unique and twisted way that is 100% awesome and only about .05% cheesy, but good cheese, like Asiago.

I love how the author dropped little clues as the story went on as to exactly what happened to Tessa that resulted in her agoraphobia.

I loved the twisted, twisted ending! At about 67% I was CONVINCED I knew whodunnit. Then TWIST!

The absolute end… this is a cliffhanger done right. I wanted to throw my book at the wall, but I love books too much to hurt them, and besides I read on my Kindle and that’s an expensive book to break. Instead I sat in shocked silence, gaping at the screen, cursing myself for reading so soon before the release date and therefor the sequels release date.

I seriously can’t even talk about all the intense amazing things that happen because it would totally ruin the story for anyone who has not yet read this.

THE ENDING YOU GUYS! This is the kind of book that ends and you desperately search Goodreads for a friend who has also read it so you can share your freak out with someone. Alas, none of my friends have read this yet, so if you have, contact me and we can freak out together!

 

Bottom line: READ THIS BOOK! This is one of my top picks of 2017.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES
~ From an advanced release copy. Actual text in final copy may vary. ~

“Have you seen TMZ? It’s like fan fiction but less believable.”


“You smell like a zoo animal, by the way. Did you shower?”
“Body Odor isn’t in the contract,” Eric said dryly.

He’d slipped into attack mode so easily. It was just Twitter after all. Just words. Not real.

She could do the front stoop. She must have run down those steps a million times over the course of her childhood. She just needed to shut her mind off. Focus on the task at hand. Her mother reached for the door, but she stopped and stepped aside. She knew the drill. The two of them had been doing these desensitization exercises for weeks now. It was Tessa’s job to open the door herself.


He paused and swallowed hard against the lump inside his throat. “Please, just this once. Just let me be the guy that takes you home.”


There was a pain in his chest—the last ember of a fire that hadn’t quite died. He had to give it one more try before the flame went out for good.


His fingers were freezing, but his lips melted a path straight through her icy core. She felt a crack in the numb exterior—a fissure that slowly spread until she crumbled.

REVIEW: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Series: Book #1

Read: May 9-11, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 352

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy, 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .


REVIEW

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

 

 I honestly wasn’t sure if I even wanted to read this book when I requested it from NetGalley. I’ve read quite a few YA fantasies in the past year or so and they sort of start to blur in my head. This book though? I’m so glad I read it!

Royal Bastards was a unique fantasy read for me. The dialogue is often very contemporary and comical – which I love. The overall feel is like a watered down Game of Thrones—but without the dragons, and significantly less pages.

I love that this book really emphasizes the gray areas — as in, the world isn’t just black and white, good and evil. Tilla and Jax have a conversation about whether they’re doing the “right thing” by betraying their land and their people, and what it boils down to is, there is no right thing.

I loved the characters in this book.

Tilla is the bastard daughter of the Lord of Kent, his firstborn. She spends most of her time with her stablehand half brother, Jax (same mother, different father). She’s often crass and unladylike—especially in her internal dialogue—but secretly wishes to be legitimized and fully accepted by her father.

Jax is a stablehand, built like an ox, and quite the ladies man. He’s full of inappropriate things to say. He’s loyal and funny and charming. It’s hard not to love him.

Lyriana is the princess and though at first she comes across as very boring, prim, and proper, as she begins this adventure with her newfound friends, we realize very quickly that there is much more to her than meets the eye.

Zell is a “barbaric” warrior from a land not ruled by Lyriana’s kingdom. He’s incredibly sexy, tough, and though he’s everything she shouldn’t want, Tilla finds herself trying to prove herself to him. I have a little book crush on Zell.

Miles is a wussy pain in the ass. He’s a book nerd, but not in a cool way. He’s kind of annoying, but begins to get better. He’s also completely hung up on Tilla, even though she wants nothing to do with him.

There’s danger everywhere.

Some authors are afraid to put their characters in any real mortal peril. That’s so not the case here. There were a few times where I seriously worried that someone would die. There are creepy gross monster bug things, too.

Another cool thing this book does is represent diversity. Lyriana is described as having dark skin and hair, while I believe Tilla and Jax are described as more fair. I remember, as I read her description, being pleasantly surprised that the author decided to make the ruling people dark skinned. Such a nice change from the traditional choice of making dark skinned people either slaves or evil! I imagine the Zitochi (Zell’s people) as ancient Asian warriors, like Ghengis Khan. I could be completely off base with that though. I don’t always remember exactly how characters are described and instead come up with my own visualizations in my head.

The pacing of this book was excellent. There were no dull points in the plot and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

There’s also a really cool magic system that has its own twists in the story as well.

And finally, THE FEELS.

That’s right, this book had me full of feels. I was rooting for some things to happen, almost in tears over other things that happened. A book that makes me feel and/or really think like this one did, is a book that’s going to STAY with me.


So, should you read this?
YES. A loud and resounding yes. At this point in time, this is my top read of 2017 so far. I may even go out and actually purchase a hard copy to have on my shelf to re-read in the future and to have my daughters read (when they’re old enough – this is definitely an upper YA book with the language, violence, and insinuated—not graphic in the least—sexual content.)


Royal Bastards is on sale May 30, 2017, but you can preorder at the following sites:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

(NOTE: Quotes are from an advanced release copy of the book and MAY be changed in the final printing.)

(NOTE 2: There are a lot of quotes here. This book is SO quotable, I couldn’t trim my favorites down anymore!)

 

“I was…um…” I scrambled for a plausible excuse. Bathing? I was too dry. Riding? I was too clean. Studying? No one would ever believe that.


You know that awkward silence where someone has committed a horrible social blunder, but no one knows how to react, so everyone is just staring at their feet? Imagine that, but in a hall with two hundred people.


The message was clear. Bow to the King or die by the Ring.


Lyriana Volaris, Princess of Noveris, was genuinely excited to sit with a bunch of bastards. That was just about the craziest thing I could thing of, on a day that was already feeling pretty crazy.


Jay shrugged. “I mean, Whitesand Beach is the perfect place to bring a girl if you’re looking to get laid.” Lyriana gasped. “Or…so I’ve heard some guys say. I, uh, wouldn’t know anything about that.”

I let out an amused snort. Zell just shook his head.


“Jax,” I said softly, “I’m so sorry…”

He glanced at me, one eyebrow cocked, the same sweet, goofy brother I’d loved my whole life. “Shut your face, sis,” he said, and walked off toward the outcropping.


I hadn’t paid much attention to my etiquette lessons, but I was pretty sure there wasn’t a standard expression for Sorry my dad killed your uncle.


I blinked. “You don’t know how to put on pants.”

“I’ve never had to. No woman in Lightspire would!”

Jax snorted.


Training with Zell that day consisted of him honing my reflexes by having me attempt to catch rocks. Mostly I just got hit with rocks.


With a particularly mushy smack, the orifice in the center of the starling’s head puckered open, drooling a yellowish gunk that sizzled against the stone. Four spindly tendrils shot out.


Holy shit. We’d been so focused on our disguises and backstories, we’d completely forgotten about money. We had to be the dumbest fugitives who’d ever lived.


My mind had been resisting what my body had wanted, but I’d been through way too much hell to give it that power anymore. He held me close and I pressed in closer, and damn if this didn’t just feel so, so right.


“Holy frozen hell,” Jax said. What happened to you guys?”


I was starting to think that Miles’s mom was a huge bitch, but that wasn’t really the point.


Mile’s face had never looked more punchable.


Was he hitting on me? That would be weird, right?

 

 

REVIEW: Secret Vampire by L. J. Smith

Secret Vampire by L. J. Smith

Series: Night World #1

Read: April 6-8, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Archway Paperbacks / Simon Pulse

Release Date: June 1996

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Pages: 242

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

The diagnosis for Poppy was death. there was no hope—until James, her best friend and secret love, appeared in the hospital. But this was a James she didn’t know. He offered Poppy eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World. They’re soulmates—but can she follow him into death and beyond?

THE NIGHT WORLD isn’t a place. It’s all around us. The creatures of Night World are beautiful and deadly and irresistible to humans. Your best friend could be one—so could your crush.

The laws of Night World are very clear: humans must never learn that Night World exists. And members of Night World must never fall in love with a human. Violate the laws and the consequences are terrifying.

These are the stories about what happens when the rules get broken.


REVIEW

This is actually a re-re-re-re-re-etc-read for me. Its been roughly 20 years since I first discovered L. J. Smith and her Night World series. (Did I just age myself???) Unlike another favorite series from those days, which I re-read in recent years and then questioned my middle grade taste in books, this series is still as amazing as the day I read it.

Smith doesn’t waste time with describing every little nuance that her readers honestly aren’t going to care about, but within 2 pages I had a solid sense of who the heroine, Poppy, was as a person and how she felt about James, the hero of our story.

I was always a huge fan of the whole Soulmate trope and this series executes it perfectly. For me, there needs to be some kind of supernatural reason for Soulmates to exist, and in a world of vampires, witches, and shifters, it’s very easy to buy into that reasoning. Add in forbidden love and what teen girl could resist! Certainly not this one, even now that I’ve said goodbye to my teen years ages ago.

This is a short read, but it is utterly satisfying. There’s the star-crossed lovers, the villain, and vampires and witches galore! I seriously can’t wait to dive into the rest of these books. Who knows, maybe by the time I re-read the last of them, there will finally be a new release date set for the final book in the series. It’s only 17 years past due.

So should you read this one? YES. This was the book for the generation before Twilight. (And the author also created The Vampire Diaries – though the TV series took great liberties with the story. For the better IMO. But that’s a whole other book review!) So, what are you waiting for? Go sink your fangs into this amazing series!



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QUOTES

Looking at him, Poppy felt a pang—as always. It didn’t matter that she had seen  him every day, practically, for the past ten years. She still felt a quick sharp throb in her chest, somewhere between sweetness and pain, when first confronted with him every morning.

 

Until today she’d assumed it was her unconditional right to live. She hadn’t even been grateful for the privilege.

 

You don’t love a girl because of beauty. You love her because she sings a song only you can understand…

 
“There are two cardinal rules in the Night World,” he said steadily. “One is not to tell humans that it exists. The other is not to fall in love with a human. I’ve broken both of them.”