Tag Archive | 5 Stars

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:

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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

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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

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

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Print

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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:

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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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OR GET THE FIRST 3 BOOKS IN 1 VOLUME

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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.”

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!



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You can find book 1, Bad Magic, here:

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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.


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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.



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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:

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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.