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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:

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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: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Read: May 11-30, 2017

Format: NetGalley E-ARC

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Publisher: Clarion Books

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Pages: 360

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.


REVIEW

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

This poor book sat on my virtual TBR shelf for ages. It sounded interesting, so I requested and was approved for it on NetGalley… but then I never quite felt in the mood for an urban fantasy. Unfortunately, when I finally made myself read it, I still wasn’t quite in the mood for an urban fantasy.

To start off with, this book is based on A Tale of Two Cities. I’ve never read that one, but I honestly don’t really like classics. I know. Blasphemous. But it’s true. Sorry, not sorry.

The atmosphere is really dark. Which makes sense, but it was darker than I was in the mood for. There’s another strike.

The characters just never pulled me in. I really didn’t care about any of them. The only character that actually interested me at all was the doppleganger, but we honestly didn’t get to know enough about him to really even care about what happens to him.

The plot moved at a snails pace. There were at least two instances where I thought about quitting, only for things to pick up again shortly after. I did make it til the end, and the ending was interesting, but like I said before, I wasn’t invested in the characters or the plot enough to actually care about the big “twist” that occurred.

In all, this was a rather lackluster read for me. Fans of both Dickens and urban fantasy may enjoy this one, but unfortunately it just didn’t do it for me.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

* From an advanced release copy. May differ from final text.

 

No normal Light magician would be trained to fight their own guards.
But I was.

 

The only thing standing between Ethan and death was me.

 

“Are you asking me out on a date?” asked Carwyn. “Because your boyfriend’s right here. Awkward.”

 

When his eyes opened they were covered with darkness, as if under a film of oil.

 

“The whole Dark city killed my other?” Ethan asked. “How did they all fit in the apartment?”

 

I wondered what my father really thought about me, about my lies, about my consorting with the Light Council, whose guards had killed mother.

 

People will come up with a hundred thousand reasons why other people do not count as human, but that does not mean anyone has to listen.

 

 

REVIEW: The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

Series: Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #3

Read: June 5-7, 2017

Format: Kindle ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Moose Island Books

Release Date: March 17, 2016

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Pages: 320

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Just because she can see the dead doesn’t mean Verity Long wants to spend her days hunting ghosts. Instead, she’s over the moon to land a marketing job at the local bank . . . until she finds her new boss dead in the vault. Even her ghost friend, Frankie, knows that’s no way to start a career.

Relieved to let the police take charge, Verity steps aside, bound and determined to keep her ghost sightings to herself. But when she learns the main suspect in the murder is a very crooked, very dead mobster, Verity knows it’s up to her to solve the case.

She teams up with her ghostly gangster buddy Frankie, as well as the irresistible and charming Ellis, as the three of them search haunted mob hideouts, hidden passageways, and historic cemeteries for the facts behind the heist of the century—and a modern-day motive for murder.

Too bad uncovering the truth could very well make Verity the next victim…


REVIEW

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

 

I’m not sure why I put off reading The Haunted Heist for so long. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for a cozy mystery? Regardless, I felt guilty staring at it in my NetGalley queue, so I bit the bullet and started reading.

This is the third in a series and I haven’t read any of the previous books. Unfortunately for me, that meant the first chapter was full if info dumping to catch me up on what I missed in books 1 and 2.

I read 99% of this book via text-to-speech (aka, listening to a semi-robotic voice read to me while I did other things, like exercise or fold laundry). Text-to-speech is great for multitasking, but I know I missed some things along the way, but it didn’t hurt the story for me.

I like the main character, Verity Long. She doesn’t want to have the ghost of an old mobster hanging around, but she’s stuck with him. (I’d have to go read the first books to find out exactly why, see the paragraph above!) The ghost, Frankie, was a blast. Seriously, his questionable morals and zero filter made the book.

This story revolves around Verity trying to get a job doing marketing work for the bank, but instead she finds herself at a crime scene. Sounds like this is something that happens to her fairly regularly.

I loved the subplot with sexy cop Ellis—and his overbearing mother who hates her. Apparently, Verity was supposed to marry Ellis’s brother, but she left him. It sounds like their Facebook relationship status should be ‘It’s Complicated’ because it is. But they’re soooon cute together!

So, basically, after a rocky start, I enjoyed this story full of southern charm and ghosts. I was never completely hooked, but as I said above, I just haven’t been in the mood for a cozy mystery, so I think that detracted from some of the enjoyment for this book.

If you’re into cozy mysteries, go pick up this series. It’s a cute, quick read, and book one is currently FREE on Amazon (and maybe other retailers?) at the time of this review posting.



Get the Book here:

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Catch up with book 1, Southern Spirits, for FREE here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

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QUOTES
(From an advanced release copy. Actual quotes may differ in final book.)

 

I felt my smile go wooden It was one thing to have a bad couple of days or even years, but to disrespect my town?

“Bless your heart,” I said, stepping past her desk, determined to end this conversation on a civil note.

 

“What do you want me to do?” Frankie huffed. “Embroider it on a pillow?”

 

“You got some natural talent behind the wheel,” Frankie said, approving from the passenger seat. “If you ever wanted a career in getaway—“

I clutched the wheel. “I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Just saying…”

 

“You mean like when I shot Crazy Louie in the leg to get your gun?” I challenged.

Frankie grinned wide. “You should have shot him in the balls.

“They chased us,” I said. “I had to dodge bullets. Ellis took us off road.”

“You’re just trying to make me jealous, aren’t you?”

 

“Who gets your house when you die? Your sister? God I, I hope not. I can’t break in another perky blonde.”

 

 

REVIEW: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdone

Read: April 18-May 3, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: April 25, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Before Salem, there was Manningtree. . . .

 “This summer, my brother Matthew set himself to killing women, but without ever once breaking the law.”

Essex, England, 1645

With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.

There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with harrowing storytelling for a truly haunting reading experience.


REVIEW

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

 

I’ve had a fascination with the Salem Witch Trials since I first heard about them, ages ago. So when I saw The Witchfinder’s Sister available on NetGalley, I thought this was a perfect read for me. It may not be the Salem witch trials, but they were still witch trials.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is based upon a real man named Matthew Hopkins who actually did put over a hundred women to death. This book is a fictional account of what happened, told from the first person perspective of his (fictional) sister, Alice.

This book started out solid. I loved the details of Alice’s life, from before she left home, while she was away with her husband, and then as she returned, a (secretly pregnant) widow.

But while the details of this story were engrossing, the plot never completely came together for me. Alice is, for the most part, an outsider watching her brothers actions but unable to do much. After all, she was just a woman and in the 1600’s they had no power. It’s possible this story could have benefited from being told in 3rd person, because then we could have seen past Alice’s limited view, but I honestly don’t know if that would have helped.

What I did really like was the way the author weaved a possible explanation for Matthew’s actions. His mother (Alice’s step-mother) is described as basically having a mental illness of some sort. Of course, back then, that wasn’t a thing. However, Alice at one point wonders if their mothers “weakness of mind” could have passed on to Matthew. Of course, there are also supernatural possibilities thrown in as well, but those never felt completely valid to me.

Overall, for a book that promised to be “haunting” and “spellbinding”, it really wasn’t. There was minimal interaction between our narrator and the accused witches. The one accused she did spent time with, never really seemed like a woman who had just been, essentially, sitting on death row. The feelings never felt genuine. I never felt the fear or the anguish of those who knew they were going to die, and most of that was because we very, very rarely saw it happen. I suppose you could say, for a book about women being accused of witchcraft, the accused were very secondary to anything else.

 

Would I recommend this book? Eh… not really. I mean, if you have interest in this particular witch hunt and want to read a fictionalized account of Matthew Hopkins, you might enjoy this. But for this reader, it was unfortunately pretty forgettable.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES
(From an advanced release copy. Final text may vary.)

I am resolved to mark the season in the old way, but making a Christmas gift, and my gift will be to myself. It will be the chance to tell the truth. I will set it down now, while my memory holds. There is nothing to prevent me, for though I am imprisoned, I am not forbidden writing materials: ink, and pens, and paper have been brought to me without complaint. I fear it means they do not intend to let me go.

 

“Mary says the master has greater learning than any round here. She says he has as much knowledge of religion as the minister and of the Bible also. He has a book as well that has the names of all the witches written down in it. Mary says.”

 

I think now that to be close to someone can be to underestimate them. Grow too close, and you do not see what they are capable of; or you do not see it in time.

 

But there had been no spates of witch hanging for many years. Such things were a matter for Scotland, France, wild places across the sea or north of the border.

 

Names were how it had begun. One woman accuses another in a fit of grief or rage. And once you have said a name, there is no unsaying.

 

I wonder, not for the first time, whether Mother’s weakness of mind could have passed to him in the blood. Whether he was himself quite well.

 

“I think in truth I am here so that the good folk of Manningtree cannot come where I live and torch me in my bed.”

 

“We called a physician out, once. He said it was a brain sickness,” the night nurse told him. “But I do not believe in brain sickness. She is entirely the devil’s creature.”

 

It was a sin, the worst sin. But to say the truth, I would do the same again.

 

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, as far as I can reckon, is one hundred and six. He accomplished it in two of our short English summers, and the months between. One hundred and six women, through Essex, Suffolk, and beyond: that much is certain.

 

 

REVIEW: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June + Recipe Link

Wow, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had a chance to post a review. Sorry about that! I am woefully behind. I’m actually feeling like I might need to take a brief reading break, both to give my brain a break and to give myself time to post my backlog of reviews. (Maybe it’ll help me focus on my Super Secret Group Project Short Story too…)

Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I have a problem with going to bed at a decent time. My FitBit tells me to start getting ready for bed every night at 11pm. And there I am at 2 am saying, “Just one more chapter!”

This past week I’ve been working really hard to fight my bad habits though. I managed to go to sleep at a semi-normal hour like a real grown up. (Except for the night I had to be at work until 12:30 am.) Fingers crossed I can keep this up and establish a good routine!

Also new this week? I tried a new recipe, using an ingredient I hate (Balsamic Vinegar) and ended up loving it! WHO KNEW!

You can check out the recipe for Honey Balsamic Chicken Breasts and Veggies on DamnDelicious.net (1o year old LOVED the chicken, and liked the asparagus and potatoes. She wouldn’t eat more than a bite of the rest. 5 year old LOVED the potatoes, tolerated the chicken, and wouldn’t touch the rest. Husband said I put in too many tomatoes – which were one of my favorite parts of the recipe!)

We’ll definitely make this again. I added the red bell pepper for extra color (it was on sale). This was my first time cooking asparagus and I think it turned out pretty well. The Husband was shocked at how big (fat) the asparagus was…. but I’ve only ever eaten it once before so I didn’t even realize it was huge until looking back at the original recipe’s photos! Oh well, it was tasty!

Without further ado, enjoy today’s book review!


It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Read: March 2 – March 7, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins

Release Date: May 9, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 304

Reading Challenge(s): Retellings 2017, 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.


REVIEW

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

 

It Started With Goodbye is a charming, modern adaptation of Cinderella. When sixteen-year-old Tatum finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, she ends up arrested and sentenced to a summer of community service and a hefty fine. Shortly thereafter her father leaves on a business trip, leaving poor Tatum alone with her overbearing and impossible-to-please stepmother and her perfect step-sister, Tilly.

Worst. Summer. Ever.

Or is it?

Despite being forced into manual labor and iced out by her bff, Tatum finds new friends and learns a lot about her family, friendships, and herself over the summer. With the encouragement of her “fairy godmother” (aka her stepmother’s mom), she starts a secret online design business. And begins flirting online with a client, her very own prince charming.

I loved the dialogue in this book. I would love to hang out with Tatum. I loved all of the characters actually, I thought they were very well rounded. The “evil stepmother” wasn’t really evil, she always meant well and just didn’t see eye to eye with Tatum. Neither of them communicated with each other very well. I loved the “fairy godmother”, she was a real gem, offering just the right advice when Tatum needed it. I even loved Tilly, the step-sister—the perfect daughter—who Tatum comes to realize maybe isn’t all that bad after all.

I’m not sure this is a book that will stay with me forever, but I truly enjoyed this story and the characters and would absolutely recommend it for fans of young adult fiction, and especially modern fairy tale retellings.


Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

I stared blankly at him, still trying to process what he was saying. My head was spinning, and it sounded like he was speaking Greek while his cheeks were stuffed full of mashed potatoes.

“Yes, I know exactly what I’ve done. And that would be a big fat nothing wrong. The only thing I’m guilty of is trying to protect my friend from her sketchy boyfriend, and failing. No, I didn’t know he was going to steal that stuff. No, I didn’t help him. My plan was to go to Mason’s, buy some pencils, maybe help Ashlyn pick out some nail polish, and come home. Contrary to popular belief, a field trip to our city’s finest was not on my agenda today. So can everyone please calm down?”

None of them had on eyeliner or showed bare knees, two things every parent knew were gateways into delinquency.

“My leprechaun actually got deported. He brought illegal “items” into the country when he arrived, and DHS sent him right back. Such a shame.”

Abby’s sympathetic face was on, and she looked itchy to give me a hug, but also wary, like she was afraid that if she touched me, I might cry or break or punch her. Maybe all three.

Sometimes I was rage. Sometimes I wallowed. Most of the time, though, I felt defeated.

I sucked in a breath. Flirting in person was so much better than over the internet.

 

REVIEW: Leaving Yesterday by Zoe Dawson

Leaving Yesterday by Zoe Dawson

Series: Laurel Falls #1

Read: April 6-13, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Loveswept

Release Date: February 9, 2016

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 268

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

If you love Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, or Rachel Gibson, don’t miss the start of this captivating small-town romance series! Laurel Falls, Montana, features spectacular mountain scenery—but it takes a rugged cowboy to convince one woman to slow down and enjoy the view.

Rafferty Hamilton doesn’t plan on putting down roots anytime soon. With her divorce final, the hotel heiress has left Manhattan behind to scout new locations for her family’s chain of resorts. Which is why it’s so frustrating to be stranded in Laurel Falls while a good-looking, slow-talking, Stetson-wearing mechanic takes his sweet time with her overheated coupe.

A decorated vet who paid his dues in Afghanistan, Trace Black can fix anything with an engine and get it revving—even Rafferty’s ridiculous sports car. He couldn’t say the same for the knockout driver, who looks like she’s never gripped a gear shaft in her life. Women like Rafferty don’t usually stick around in Laurel Falls, but Trace finds himself showing her everything his hometown has to offer before she cruises on down the road.

As the days pass, Rafferty finds herself charmed by the pace of life and the openhearted warmth of the residents. She’s even tempted to trust again—and it’s all thanks to Trace. He’s not the kind of guy she’s used to falling for, but he just might be the man she needs.


REVIEW

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

 

Leaving Yesterday started strong with a hero and heroine I liked. Right off the bat I could tell they were both good people, each with their own set of baggage, each deserving to find real love.

Things I liked: The hero and heroine. They were both strong and independent and meshed well together. I loved the nickname he had for her (Commander Princess). I liked the town, I want to visit and see the mountains and springs and stay at that rundown abandoned old inn! This book also had great, fully developed side characters who have been set up to get their own novels.

What I didn’t like so much: Those side characters I mentioned? While I loved them all, I wasn’t a fan of the POV shifts into their heads. Call me a traditionalist, but I’d rather my romance novels stick with the h/H POVs and leave the side characters to the side. I don’t want in their heads yet, learning all the details of their personal stories. I think this would have benefited with either a revised blurb indicating that there were more stories here than just the main characters romance, or reclassifying this as…. something else. A contemporary drama maybe? I don’t know. It just wasn’t what I expected and that sort of put a damper on my reading experience.

All that said, this was an enjoyable story about enjoyable characters. I would gladly revisit Laurel Falls to see what happens for those secondary characters as well as to see how things are going with Trace and Rafferty. (I really hate her name by the way. But it is the perfect trust-fund baby name.)



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

“You don’t know how to fix my car. Do you?”
His eyes flashed. “Never said that. I can fix anything, sure as shootin’.”


“My bullshit meter has a low threshold. We’re bound to strike sparks off each other.”


“I don’t live here, Trace, and I’m not staying. We’ve established that. As soon as you put in my new transmission, I’ll be gone. So what if they do talk? Nothing happened, well, except for that kiss.”
“Except for that kiss? Doesn’t sound like I tried hard enough there. Maybe I should give it another shot.”
“Trace…”

 

“He needs help picking out a shirt.”
Reese looked puzzled. “Are the fashion police after you or something?”

 

“So tell me something bout yourself not many people know.”
“I believe in alien abductions.”

He huffed out a laugh.

 

You’re always so careful, holding back. Always doing some deal for your dad. You’re his closer, his hit woman.

REVIEW: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

Read: December 21-28, 2016

Format: ARC Kindle Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Abrams / Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary / Magical Realism

Pages: 384

Challenges: 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?


REVIEW

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

I acquired an ARC of this book from NetGalley and read it pretty quickly. The cover was what first attracted me to this book.  It’s just so… pretty with the blues and pinks and stars. I love the text and the imagery (which is entirely appropriate for the story) and… everything. The second thing that hooked me was the story concept, teen girl is pregnant… but she’s also the the daughter of a politician. I wanted to see how this drama unfolded. And honestly, it was not at all what I expected.

This is kind of an odd book. Not odd bad, just… hard to put my finger on how exactly to describe it.

16 year old Quinn is pregnant and has no recollection of ever having had sex. Sure, she’s messed around with her boyfriend, but nothing that could result in a baby! But there she was, pregnant.

This book follows Quinn throughout the nine months of her pregnancy while she tries to figure out when and how she ended up pregnant. She’s convinced it was rape and she has blocked any memory of the event. Until she discovers a secret about her grandmother.

I seriously can’t say much else about what happens without spoiling the story! I can say that I could not put this book down. I devoured it. I needed to know what happened next. At 76% I updated my reading progress on Goodreads with: “I still have no clue where this is going! And I’m loving it!” and my final thoughts were: “Wow! What a beautiful book.”

The only negative I have about this one aren’t really negatives about the story, just personal hatred for Quinn’s father. He just rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the rest of the family, but her dad is kind of a jerk.

So, I guess I’ll just tell you to give this book a chance and go into it with an open mind and be prepared for ambiguity.



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QUOTES

 “But I’m not lying. I don’t know how it happened! How am I supposed to figure it out if I’m telling the truth and none of you want to hear it?”

“…but I wanted to mention that my daughter had . . . an active imagination when she was younger. If she says anything that seems upsetting or unusual, please let me know . . .”

Because something was wrong, and if she could figure it out, maybe she could help.
Maybe she could save her.

If she hadn’t happened to go to the doctor, would she have been one of those girls who went all nine months without knowing? Because, clearly, there was something really wrong with her.

“…But you realize my boys would have to be superheroes? Like, wearing tiny little capes and doing impossible things.”

The words crept under her skin and stayed there, crawling around like maggots. And what other things had people said? What else did they think about her and her baby? The curiosity worked up into a frenzy inside of her. She didn’t care if the people were insane. She needed to know what they were saying.

Too many questions.
All she wanted was for someone to give her the answers.

“Seriously?” Jesse said, breaking into a jog. “You get to be friends with the ocean, and I get a pigeon?” 

 

REVIEW: Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Read: December 27, 2016 – January 10, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC / NetGalley

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Random house

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Literary Mystery

Pages: 352

Challenges: none

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

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

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

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

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


REVIEW

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So should you read the book?

If you’re into literary books – YES.

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

 

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



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QUOTES

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

 

REVIEW: Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Series: The Ryogan Chronicles #1

Read: January 17 – 28, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.


REVIEW

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

 

Island of Exiles fits in well with the popular YA titles of current times, but at the same time, it is unique enough to set it apart.

If you look at my reading progress comments on Goodreads you can see that up until halfway through the book I was confused and struggling, but by around 50% I was completely sucked in. This book is worth the struggle in the beginning.

What I had the most trouble with was all of the new vocabulary words in this world that Khya lives in. They have an entire caste system (mostly based on magic) that is easily confusing, plus a few other words that are substitutes for what we would say and honestly, I don’t see the point in the author changing them.

For the longest time while I liked Khya, I didn’t really care about her. I blame this on the above vocabulary issue. It took me a while to really engage. Once I really committed, I discovered I did like her. She is a strong female character and her personal growth throughout the story was wonderful. I loved where her character ended up by the end and I look forward to seeing how she continues to grow and change throughout the series.

I give the author credit for this unique desert world she’s created, as well as the Miriseh people. All very cool, especially once I let go of trying to keep track of the ranks and titles and what it all meant.

A cool thing bout this particular community is that they’re part militia-part hippie commune. Parents don’t raise their kids, they’re all put together and raised together. Blood siblings are rare, and Khya is fortunate enough to have one. Sexuality is also very open and free, everyone is allowed to love whomever they want. Khya has has multiple relationships with her peers, both male and female. In this world, that’s the norm. There are no boundaries on love.

Tessen is my favorite in this book. His undying loyalty to Khya, even when she doesn’t entirely deserve it, is wonderful. I don’t even remember how he was described in the book, but in my head he’s pretty dreamy. Definitely book boyfriend material!

 

SHOULD YOU READ IT? Readers who enjoy unique fantasy worlds that are somewhat similar to our own will probably enjoy this book. The new vocab can be a bit intense, so my advice is to let it all go and just enjoy the story being told, don’t even worry about trying to keep track of the ranks.



Island of Exiles releases February 14, 2017
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QUOTES

Animals can be outsmarted. Enemies can be fought. Storms can only be survived.

…on Shiara, death is the one think that’s inevitable.

Heat, dirt, blood, death. Life is made of these things.

“I don’t want to talk,” I warn him. “About anything.”
“That’s fine.” His grin spreads across his face like the first glint of sunrise. “You know I can talk enough for the both of us.”

“You know me.” Tessen’s smile grows, like he knows he’s won this argument. “I’ve always been too curious for my own good.”

There’s at least an inch of space between us, but I can feel him in a way that makes my skin seem sunburned—warm and prickly to the point of painful.

I’ve never allowed myself to have this. I’ve never let myself trust anyone enough to dare let my guard down enough to have this. No one else has pushed past my walls persistently enough to earn this.

 

 

REVIEW: Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

Series: The Hitchhiker Strain #1

Read: January 28-30, 2017

Format: Kindle (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Patchwork Press

Release Date: March 19, 2013

Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic (Zombie)

Pages: 254

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death.

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.


REVIEW

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

 

This poor innocent book was received from NetGalley a little over a year ago. Due to it’s past release date it kept getting set aside in order to read and review books that were not yet released. I’m sorry to the author AND to myself, because this book was great!

This is a dual POV story set in a post-apocalyptic world. The zombie apocalypse is here, and to make matters worse, a “vaccine” was distributed, but all it did was turn those who were vaccinated and then infected into living zombies.

The story switches back and forth between Savannah and Zarah, two girl trying to survive pretty much on their own. Savannah is the character we spend the most time with. She’s 17 and sick of being cooped up in the high school, she wants to prove she’s grown up up enough to be out there fighting with the adults. She can definitely handle herself. Zarah on the other hand is more of a pacifist. After teaming up with Liam, a classmate, when it becomes clear they’re on their own they set off on their own trying to stay safe. She leans on Liam a lot to take care of her.

It was interesting to see how each of these very different girls handle the situation they’ve been forced into. I was also surprised to find that this wasn’t a typical zombie novel, we got to see some insights that I did not expect! When the girls paths cross it’s really hard to know who to root for.

This is actually only like, the fourth dystopian zombie-type novel I’ve ever read and only the second with true classic zombies. It had similarities to The Walking Dead, but it absolutely stands apart from the show.

My only minor qualm was in the sort of insta-love between the two sets of characters. I’m giving it a pass because for Savannah it wasn’t really instant, it just came sort of out of nowhere. For Zarah the build up just wasn’t shown because she didn’t have as much of the story as Savannah did. I don’t think most teen readers will have a problem, and honestly, I didn’t really either.

The ending had a slight cliffhanger, but if there wasn’t a sequel the reader wouldn’t be left completely hanging. There’s some closure, and the mission Savannah set out on does reach a somewhat satisfying end point.

I’ll probably read the second book in this series at some point down the line.

 

SHOULD YOU READ IT? If you’re into zombies and teen fiction yes. It’s a fast paced enjoyable read.



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QUOTES

We were prepared for this, but my heartbeat still quickened. This was everything I had been waiting for, but suddenly I was less enthusiastic. My hand shook and I fumbled loading my weapon.

 

He wasn’t dead, and that was a very, very good thing. Then it hit me—this situation was still far from a good one. Letting out a strangled gasp, I clasped my hand over my mouth. He was probably still alive, but I might never see him again.

 

I would never be given the chance to bury my parents or my brother. I’ll never even know if there is anything left of them to bury. But I’m trying not to think about that.

 

Cole had come up with this entire plan in less than ten minutes.
And people say I’m impulsive.
No. I was just the idiot who agreed to this insanity.

 

“Come out with your hands over your head.” Apparently I wasn’t the only one reliving every action movie ever made.