Tag Archive | 5 Stars

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!



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

OR GET THE FIRST 3 BOOKS IN 1 VOLUME

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


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.”

REVIEW: Bad Luck by Pseudonymous Bosch

Bad Luck by Pseudonymous Bosch

Series: The Bad Books #2

Read: February 26 – March 1, 2017

Format: ebook ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 9, 2016

Genre: MG Fantasy

Pages: 288

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA, TBR 2017, 2017 Beat The Backlist, Flights of Fantasy 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some people have all the luck.

Unfortunately, Clay isn’t one of them: He’s the only camper at Earth Ranch without a magical talent. As if feeling totally useless isn’t enough, Clay has to figure out what to do about Brett, a castaway boy who has just washed ashore and is determined to keep his presence a secret. Even as Clay helps his new friend hide in the remote volcanic island’s wilderness, another fiery mystery begins to emerge, with all signs pointing to the impossible idea that dragons once roamed the island…and may still. Can Clay and his friends turn their luck around in time to uncover Price Island’s secrets–and save it from a scorching end?

Danger, adventure, mischief, mystery, old foes, new friends, and a delightfully elusive narrator make bestselling author Pseudonymous Bosch’s latest novel completely irresistible.


REVIEW

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

 

I acquired Bad Luck as a READ NOW from NetGalley. Back when I was devouring books one after the other and didn’t need to worry about my score because I was going through them so fast. Then my work situation changed and suddenly I wasn’t going through books so fast. Suddenly I had less time to read, and a pile of books from NetGalley that weren’t really catching my interest.

Shame on me. When I took on the #BeatTheBacklist challenge my goal was to clear out my NetGalley list. Looking at all the little thumbnail covers none of them jumped out at me. I knew I wanted something clean, so I held my breath and dove into this middle grade book.

And then I was kicking myself for not starting sooner. Upon closer inspection of the cover (darn you little thumbnail images that hide details!) there’s a DRAGON! That right there gives a book an automatic star. Probably. Okay, not really, but it certainly is a sign that I will probably enjoy the books contents.

So what’s this book about? Clay is a boy who attends Earth Ranch, a summer camp for misfits who happen to be magicians. Like, the kind of magicians with real magical powers. Earth Ranch also happens to be located on an island in the middle of nowhere. When Clay comes across a boy washed ashore, things get weird. Soon the island is swarming with men in search of the missing boy, but Clay and his friends are sure something else is going on.

This is a solid middle grade read that was enjoyable for this girl who has not been in middle school for… well, a very long time. There were bits of middle grade potty humor, but nothing too over the top, just enough to remind me “oh yeah, this is a middle grade book targeted at boys”. I loved the footnotes the author included, filled with humor. I loved the dragon. I loved the excerpts from the book about taming a dragon scattered through the novel. Though it was nothing too complex, I loved the plot.

This is a book I’ll be giving my 10-year-old daughter to read and, just maybe, purchasing the rest of the books.

Don’t overlook this series. I can’t speak for the first book, as I haven’t read it, but now that I’ve read this one I plan to!



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

You can find book 1, Bad Magic, here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

A sunburned boy pointed at him. “Hey, penguin, wrong cruise—North Pole is the other way.”

“You mean South Pole,” Brett replied automatically. “No penguins in the north. Just… elves.”

And next time, try a higher SPF, he thought. Lobster.

 

…But at Earth Ranch the campers tended to confuse crime with magic. Both things, after all, involved the breaking of laws—the one the laws of the land, the other the laws of nature.

 

Clay knelt by the boy’s side and put his hand on the boys cheek. It was cold and clammy. But was it dead clammy? Or just clammy?

 

Always remember, dear apprentice Dragon Tamer, that you are not and never will be a tamer of dragons. A dragon is not a lion in a circus. A dragon cannot be trained any more than it can be caged. It is foolish to think so—and almost certain death if you try.

 

Although dragons are infinitely smarter than people, they are also simpler. Push a dragon and it will push back. Treat a dragon gently and it will treat you gently. Try to kill a dragon and it will try to kill you.

No, it will kill you.

This is not justice. Nor is it unjust. It just is.

 

“There is no need to shout, puny human creature.”

 

On the other hand, part of being a scientist, as she understood it, was accepting empirical evidence when it was presented to you. You didn’t simply deny the existence of a thing because it didn’t fit your theory of the universe; the existence of the thing meant that your theory of the universe was flawed. And a dragon—a real dragon—what an amazing discovery that would be!

 

(From the footnotes)

According to DC Comics and some Greek pottery, Themyscira was the home of the Amazons, the all-female warrior tribe of ancient Greece. Not to be confused with The Amazon River, which derives its name from the same source. Nor with the giant, bookselling website, which, though seemingly invincible, may yet someday fall prey to a vengeful tribe of warrior women out to reclaim their rightful name.

 

REVIEW: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Some Boys by Patty Blount

Read: January 27 – February 4, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Genre: Contemporary YA

Pages: 339

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.

When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But…Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send.


REVIEW

Some of the books I win from Goodreads I’m pretty meh about. I’m like, “Oh, cool, I won a book.” But this book? This book I was excited for! I mean, LOOK at that gorgeous cover! The high contract, the beautiful background color, what’s not to love? And then I open it, and on page one I’m in tears. Okay, I didn’t actually cry, but only because I was sitting outside my kids preschool classroom waiting for the class to be released. I held back, but I wanted to cry. I really did.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t read a whole lot of contemporary YA. I’m a paranormal/fantasy kind of girl, but I’m working on branching out. The book this most closely relates to from my catalog of books read is Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag. Both books deal with very tough subject matters. In this case, we’re talking not only rape, but bullying and slut shaming.

I love Grace so much. Grace has had to put up with so much shit since her rape. She’s been called a liar, a slut, and worse. She’s had her property damaged. She’s had her own parents blame her for what happened to her. There were so many times I wanted to cry for Grace, but you know what? Grace is badass. She’s not the kind of girl who is going to just let people get away with this stuff, especially not her rapist. She kept fighting even when she was told it was hopeless.

Then there’s Ian. Ian liked grace before she dated his BFF Zac. But friends don’t date friends exes. Despite acting like an idiot for most of the book, Ian is a good guy. He has good parents who raised him right. It takes a really long time for him to step up and do the right thing and from other reviews I’ve read, a lot of people hate him for that. You know what I think? I think that makes him real. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against your friends and team, especially as a teenager. If Ian were to drop his best friend just because the girl he liked cried rape, I wouldn’t buy it. So yeah, while it’s frustrating at times to read some of the things Ian did/said, it made sense. And in the end, we see him grow and change into a better person.

As for Zac, it was so easy to hate him from Grace’s POV, and at times question her story and almost sympathize with him from what he tells Ian in his POV. (Did I mention this is dual POV alternating between Grace and Ian? I love dual POV!) I mean, I never liked Zac. He was always a sleaze ball, but the author was able to really help me understand why Ian felt the way he did for Zac based on his interactions and conversations with Zac.

There were a couple of times in this book where it bordered on After School Special territory, but even with those way too cheesy moments, this book is a 5 star read. Every girl should read this. Every boy should read this. Hell, every parent and teacher and human being should read this!

This will not be my last Patty Blount book. She is an author to watch out for.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

I want to turn to look at him, look him dead in the eye, and twist my face into something that shows contempt instead of the terror that too often wins whenever I hear his name so he sees—so he knows—he didn’t beat me.


She always wants me to run with her, but I strongly believe if God had intended man—or woman—to jog, he’d have scaled way back on breast size and sent some of that padding to the soles of our feet. Just sayin’.

 

“Everybody says it’s my fault because I got drunk, and you know what? That doesn’t count! Everyone was drinking that night. There’s only one thing that counts, but nobody wants to hear it.”


Maybe the whole female sex is worse than the males, the way they turn on each other, transforming from bat-shit crazy into straight-up vicious over some guy.

 

I just want to shatter so I never have to feel anything again.

 

Review: Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition by Richelle Mead

Series: Vampire Academy #0.2

Read: January 11 – 16, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Penguin Razorbill

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: YA Paranormal

Pages: 483 (332 pages of VA + 151 pages bonus stories!)

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Richelle Mead celebrates 10 years of Vampire Academy with an exclusive, never-before-seen collection of stories that sheds new light on the world and its players:

The Turn and the Flame takes a deeper look into the dark stain on the Ozera dynasty…

From the Journal of Vasilisa Dragomir unearths the princess’s private thoughts from a transformative period of her life…

The Meeting gives us a glimpse of Rose Hathaway through Dimitri’s eyes…

Hello My Name Is Rose Hathaway tracks the shenanigans that ensue when Rose and Dimitri become unlikely teammates in a high-stakes scavenger hunt…
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.


REVIEW

Those who know me can attest to the fact that Richelle Mead is my favorite author. Her characters are amazing and I never want to let them go.

Fortunately for me, with 2017 bringing the 10th anniversary of the original Vampire Academy novels release, Penguin Razorbill put out a 10th anniversary edition.

Who cares that I already have the original paperback (personally autographed last spring!) AND the ebook edition. The cover of this edition is absolutely epically beautiful. I couldn’t pass it up. And as if that weren’t enough for me to throw my money at them, they went and threw in a bunch of bonus stories for us diehard fans to more fully immerse ourselves in the VA universe.

And immerse myself I did.

I didn’t re-read the original story because I’ve read it so many times already, but I did read all of the short stories and they ended far too soon!

 

THE TURN AND THE FLAME

This story features Christian’s aunt Tatiana, just before and shortly after her brother and his wife—Christian’s parents— willingly choose to become Strigoi, the dark and evil undead vampires.

Tatiana is a controversial character in the VA universe due to her relationship with Dimitri and…arm…some poor life choices she makes later in the series. I’ve always found her fascinating so I loved getting this peek into how she went from a young girl questioning her place in society to a strong woman fighting for the rights of the Dahmpires and Moroi.


QUOTES:

Tatiana leaned closer. “You’re only here to look pretty, dear. Not to give your opinions. See that you remember that.”

 There were a million possible responses to that, but there was only one that Tasha was allowed to make: “Th-thank you, your Majesty.”


FROM THE JOURNAL OF VASILISA DRAGOMIR

Throughout the VA series we don’t get to see much from Lissa’s POV, so this was a really interesting look not only at the life she and Rose had while on the run (see quote below), but also of her descent into the madness Spirit causes. Loved this.


QUOTES:

March 25
It turns out you can’t put aluminum foil in the microwave. We have to go shopping again to buy a new one for the house.

 

THE MEETING

This story is SUPER short, but it gives us a small glimpse into Dimitri’s head when he first meets Rose. A must read for Romitri shippers!

QUOTES:

But there was a look in her eyes now that said this was no joke, that she would die a thousand times over before she let anyone harm the princess at her back. She reminded me of a cornered wildcat, sleek and beautiful—but fully capable of clawing your face off if provoked.

 

HELLO, MY NAME IS ROSE HATHAWAY

Hands down my favorite bonus story. Rose takes on the task of winning a covert scavenger hunt on campus. Full of Rose’s loyalty to Lissa, chemistry with Dimitri (Swoon! I don’t even ship them all that hard!), and hilarious antics. With Rose, if it can go wrong, it probably will.

QUOTES:

Mason regarded me with awe and affection—and also concern. “Rose, I love it when you’re crazy, but this might even be beyond you.”

 I stood up, turned around, and found myself looking right at Dimitri.

And not just any Dimitri. Dimitri dressed as a cowboy.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

REVIEW: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

 Read: October 2 – 5, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…


REVIEW

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

 

One Was Lost is my second Natalie D. Richard’s novel and will not be my last.

First – look at that cover! That screams thriller. I actually get kind of a Blair Witch vibe from it, which isn’t too far off the mark. The basic premise is a group of kids (and two teachers) lost in the woods with a killer on the loose. They’re drugged, wake to have words written on their arms, and nobody knows who to trust.

The way this book starts, we’re thrown into the story. Sera is on a “Senior Life Experience” camping trip with 4 classmates and two teachers. Early on the group gets separated, leaving Sera with Mr. Walker (a teacher), Emily (a girl with unexplained bruises), Jude (a rich boy with a set of gay dads and a chip on his shoulder), and Lucas (the boy Sera has history with, that she’s been trying to avoid for months). In the other group are Ms. Brightman (another teacher), and Madison and Hayley, who are sort of interchangeable to Sera.

Richards doesn’t info dump like a lot of authors do, spending pages at the beginning explaining backstory and characterization. Instead, we’re thrown in with these kids and slowly get to know them over the course of the novel. Immediately we know how Sera feels about each of her classmates, though we don’t really know the why’s just yet. It isn’t until the end of the book that I really understood all of the characters. By the end I’d also felt like I experienced this ordeal with them, and it was interesting to see how their experiences changed them.

The mystery in this novel is awesome. Just like the kids in the book, I had multiple suspects in mind as I read through. My theories of whodunnit fell on each of the students and teachers in turn, and even at one point went to, “this is all planned by the teachers to mess with the kids.”

I think this story possibly could have benefited from starting a touch sooner, to include the ghost stories told around the campfire that are mentioned throughout the story, but we as the reader didn’t experience. But I really don’t think the story lacked anything not including that scene. It just would have been nice to have more “on camera” time with the other group who Sera is separated from early on.

As with the previous Richards book I read, My Secret To Tell, she shines at characterization. She throws little pieces of the characters back story at the reader, giving them time to absorb before handing over another piece of the story. We know from the beginning that Sera’s mom left, but it isn’t until the end that we know why. We know Sera has a history with Lucas, but we don’t know what that history entails and who was at fault. By the end I completely understood Sera and why she acted the way she did throughout the story, and I appreciated where her character development left her by the last page.

I also give props to Richards for including a diverse cast. Sera is Lebanese. I believe Jude is African American, and Emily may be non-caucasisian as well. The way Richards writes, skin color is not a top priority. The characters are just people, three-dimensional characters. Sera may not be of European descent like me, but I could put myself in her shoes and relate to her.

Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This is a fast paced, mystery thriller with well-defined characters. I know I’ll be getting my hands on the rest of Natalie D. Richard’s publications.



Get the Truthsong here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

(RE: Lucas’ height) I have no idea what you have to eat to grow like that. Corn? Eggs? Small children?

 

Whatever script we’re following out in these woods—this is my role… and I’m supposed to die out here.

 

Something snaps in the distance, and I flinch, scanning the darkness. Leaves rustle, and then I hear the scrabble of tiny claws on a trunk.

 

Nothing has ever hurt like the peroxide he pours over my hand. It hits my tender flesh like lava, flashfire painful and leaving a loud throb in its place.

 

…thinks he’s guilty because I kissed him? My desire did this. I followed my heart, and it might kill him.

 

I close my eyes and feel my heart slow even as my stomach rolls. A mourning dove coos softly. Sadly. Rain drips. My hand burns. Nothing is different, and nothing is the same either.

 

I went sixty-two days without looking at him after the first time we kissed, but that was then. And now it is very different.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

So, last Thursday I got to meet my all time favorite author, Richelle Mead. It was amazing. I actually recorded all 20 minutes of her speaking and Q&A which I keep forgetting to upload to YouTube, but when I finally remember, I will share it with you all. Until then, check out this fabulous Instagram post I made that night.

 

 


 

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

Series: Thunder Road #2

Read: May 1 – 7, 2016

Format: ARC Print Book

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary YA Romance

 

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, even in YA books. (Though, I feel like I have been reading more lately…) And I really have no interest in motorcycle clubs, I tried watching Sons of Anarchy but it didn’t hold my interest. So imagine my surprise when I sat down to start reading Katie McGarry’s Walk The Edge with the intent of “just one chapter” and ended up reading the first six instead. And I would have kept going, had it not been so late at night. This book is a page turner.

Despite being a book about a guy in a motorcycle club, something I don’t really ‘get’, I loved this book. The characters, Thomas aka “Razor” and Breanna, are both so real. They’re flawed and relatable and I was rooting for them the entire time.

 

“There are lies in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss, or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.”

Razor is “the boy everyone sees but nobody knows.”

Born to ride with the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, Razor is one of the newest members, but the club is keeping secrets from him. They say once he’s proved he trusts the club, the club will then trust him in turn with its secrets. This doesn’t sit well for Razor. His mother drove off a bridge years earlier and everyone in town says she killed herself to get away from Razor’s father and his club. Razor wants the truth, and he’s afraid the Terror played a role in his mothers death.

 

“I’m overjoyed by their faith in me, but on the inside I’m a rose wilting fast forward on the vine.”

Breanna is “the girl who everybody knows, but nobody sees.”

She refers to herself as “5 of 9” because she is the 5th child in a family of 9 kids. Her older siblings do their thing, her younger siblings do theirs. Then there’s Breanna, alone in the middle. She’s the responsible one, often left to parent her younger siblings. She’s never fit in due to her uncanny ability to remember and regurgitate random facts. Once a puzzle is in her head, she can’t move on until she’s solved it. She’s a freak and has been treated as one by everyone her entire life, including her siblings. She just wants to be accepted.

Razor finds Breanna’s brain remarkable, but she’s too good to be with a guy like him.

Though he starts as just her bodyguard, Breanna quickly realizes there’s more to Razor than meets the eye, and she’s falling for the boy her parents would never allow her to be with.

When these two unlikely people come together, will they find what they need in one another?

 

“Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be this twenty-first century woman and obsessed with a man desiring me for my massive intellect. I am woman, hear me roar, and all that stuff, but once, it would have been pretty freaking awesome to be the girl in the pretty dress let alone with the gorgeous bad boy who wants to kiss me.”

 

 “She should be worried,” he breathes into my ear.

“Why?”

“Because you’re alone with me.”

 

If you’re in the mood for a realistic romance between total opposites who compliment each other perfectly, this is the book. If you’re looking for a romance that also has a bit of a mystery to uncover, again, this is it. If you’re looking for a book with characters who grow and change as the story progresses, look no further.

This is the second in a series, and I have not read the first. Everything was set up so the book can be read as a stand alone. I plan to get my hands on the first book eventually, as well as the third book when it releases sometime in 2017.

So far, this is one of my top picks for 2016. Go grab a copy!

 

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads.

 

BUY THE BOOK

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

Add To Your Goodreads Shelf

 

REVIEW: Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

Read: April 24-26, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:
After witnessing the devastating events of September 11th firsthand, Olivia Van den Berg turned to drugs in hopes of burying the horrifying memory of her parents’ deaths. Nine years later, she’s sober and back in New York for the first time to visit her dying grandmother. With no other heirs, the family business will fall on Olivia’s shoulders, but is she strong enough take her rightful place at the head of a multi-million dollar corporation?

Duncan McMurray is a FDNY firefighter and a hopeless mess. He lost so much that fateful day – his family, his department brothers, his will to live. Years later he’s still struggling to come to terms with his survivor’s guilt and he does it with any substance he can get his hands on. One thought keeps him going … the girl with the chestnut hair he saved as hell crashed down around him, the only proof he wasn’t a complete failure.

A strange encounter reunites Olivia and Duncan once again and the two feel an instant connection. As Olivia falls in love with the man from her past, doors to her future begin to open and she must decide which path to follow. Who I Am With You is a story of love, fear, addiction and coming to terms with who you are and who you are supposed to be.


MY REVIEW:

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

 

Who I Am With You is not a typical romance novel, it’s far more.

Olivia and Duncan are both broken people. It’s been 9 years since the Twin Towers fell on September 11th and both are still dealing with the trauma of being at ground zero. Olivia was meeting her parents, who were in the second tower. Duncan was a firefighter, rescuing people from the towers. On that tragic day, Duncan saved Olivia.

In the nine years since the towers fell, Olivia ran away to California, abandoning her responsibilities as the heir to her families company, and turned to a life of hard drugs to numb the pain of her PTSD. Clean and sober (for the 2nd or 3rd time — I can’t remember which) for a little over 10 months now, Olivia is forced to face her past and return to NYC when she learns her grandmother, the only relative she has left, is dying of cancer and doesn’t have long to live.

Duncan has remained a NYC firefighter, dealing with his own PTSD and survivors guilt with prescription drugs and a hero complex, taking chances on the job he shouldn’t. His actions in the years since 9/11 have distanced him from his family, he’s now separated from his wife and doesn’t spend much time with his two children.

But when Olivia has dinner with her BFF and Duncan walks in, everything changes. He’s never left her mind, nor she his. They never thought they’d see one another again. It was like fate, like they were meant to meet again. And so they begin a relationship. But is it healthy for Olivia to be with a man who is still so angry and broken, when she’s doing so well on her path to sobriety? Will he lead her astray, into yet another relapse? Or perhaps, can she save him, just like he saved her all those years ago?

This story is so beautifully written. I’ve been a fan of Missy Fleming for years now and I’m always so excited to read her next book. Her teen Savannah Shadows series is toward the top of my all time favorite books, so when she offered me a chance to read this book I jumped.

This book has a beautiful love story with twists and turns along the way. There’s sadness and joy, grief and anger. I don’t recommend reading most of this book in public. I cried more than once. Anyone personally affected by 9/11 will probably have trouble as well. It’s obvious the author did a lot of research. I felt like I was at the base of the towers, watching the aftermath. I felt the dust and ash on my skin as I read the words, I felt Olivia’s fear and pain.

I can’t recommend this book enough. So, go grab it. It’s currently free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $1.99 to buy. That’s a steal.


GET THE BOOK

AMAZON KINDLE  |  GOODREADS

 

REVIEW: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Series: Black Blade #3

Read: April 8 – 21, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy

 

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

 

I. LOVE. Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series. Love it. I mean, look at this cover? See how amazing it is? The book inside is just as amazing!

Lila lives in Cloudburst Falls, a town in Virginia where monsters roam free, and the whole city is run by The Families (they’re like mob families, but they’re not all bad). Those in the families also possess varying degrees of various magical powers; enhanced strength or speed, the ability to see in the dark, or if you’re Lila, Transference: the ability to take others magic into herself and use it to enhance her own strength, speed, etc.

Lila is also a thief, but she’s a good person. She’s joined up with the Sinclair family and is acting as bodyguard to Devon, son of the head of the family, Claudia.

This book is the third in the series, and while I felt that book 2 could have been read without reading book 1, I don’t think that’s the case with book 3. There is so much that happens in those first two books that the reader won’t get the full enjoyment without reading the previous books .(Or at least book 2.) This book brings the overall story arc to an end, but also leaves the door open for more books should the author choose to write them. (I hope she does!)

Lila has a lot of history with The Families. Years ago her mother fled from them for her own safety. Upon her death, Lila stuck around town, hell bent on someday getting revenge and taking down the man who killed her, Victor Draconi.

This book starts out with a bang. Lila, Devon, and their friend Felix are on a mission to steal from Victor. The next day, all hell breaks loose. Seriously, this book did not waste time with unnecessary set up, we’re thrown right into the thick of things.

I loved the relationship development between Lila and Devon in this book. I also warmed up a little more to Claudia, who I was on the fence about before.

The action in this book is awesome. Some of the movement descriptions were quite repetitive, but that’s probably true to life. If it works, keep doing it, right? And there was no shortage of fighting.

My favorite character, hands down, is the Lochness who lives under the Lochness Bridge. I love that Lila treats the monsters with respect, paying the Lochness his toll and the tree trolls their chocolate bars. The monsters have played an important role in the previous books, and that’s the same here too.

I love this entire series. I recommend it for those who like fast paced, action filled clean YA stories. (There’s kissing, but that’s it. And it’s minimal. It probably could stand for more kissing! There’s plenty of violence, but nothing too graphic.)

Go now and read this series. Seriously. Bright Blaze of Magic releases Tuesday April 26, 2016. That gives you a few days to binge read the first two book!

REVIEW: Athena The Brain (Goddess Girls #1)

Athena The Brain by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Series: Goddess Girls #1

Read: March 23 – 24, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

 

I actually checked this book out from the library for my daughter who is almost 9. I didn’t know if she’d like it or not, but I wanted her to like it. This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved to have read at her age. If there were books like this. At her age I was devouring the Sweet Valley Kids books.

Anyway, this book is so cute. It’s the story of the Greek Goddess Athena. She’s twelve years old and just learned she’s actually the daughter of Zeus, king of the gods, and she’s been invited to Mount Olympus Academy to learn to be a goddess with all the other godboys and goddessgirls.

This book takes on a lot of different themes that are relevant to kids and puts a magical spin on them, all the while introducing kids to the stories in Greek Mythology.

We get to know Athena (the new girl), Aphrodite (the popular girl), Medusa (the mean girl), Poseidon (the dreamy boy every girl is in love with), and more. Athena deals with leaving the home she’s grown up in and going to a new school and making new friends. She has to prove that even though she’s a girl, she’s just as good as the boys. After catching the eye of Poseidon, she’s also made her first enemy and has to handle the resident Mean Girl. But first, she has to learn the new rules of Olympus.

I highly recommend this series and I look forward to reading more of them in the future.