Tag Archive | NetGalley

REVIEW: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

  

Oh goodness this book….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quotes

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

  

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

  

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

  

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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


My (writing) Life

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

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

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

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

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

 

REVIEW: The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

The Secret of the India Orchid Book Cover The Secret of the India Orchid
Nancy Campbell Allen
Historical Romance
Shadow Mountain
August 1, 2017
E-ARC
320
NetGalley
August 28 - September 4, 2017

Anthony Blake is in love with his best friend's sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the façade of a flirtatious playboy.

Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn't as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.

She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?

My Review

 

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

I had just read another historical novel before I started this one, so I wasn’t really in the mood for another historical romance. My NetGally backlog was glaring at me from my Kindle though, and I knew I did have to read this sooner rather than later. All that said, I did still enjoy this story.

The first chapter was a little boring for me, but completely necessary for the plot. I enjoyed the story quite a bit actually. I was expecting a little more James Bond or Jason Bourne with the spy stuff, but it was (thankfully) not like that at all.

Both the hero (Lord Anthony Wilshire) and heroine (Sophia) are well thought-out and interesting. I especially enjoyed how strong-willed Sophia was, especially in a time where women were expected to be the opposite. The chemistry between them was also quite fun, especially as he had to watch her be admired by other men, while secretly still in love with her.

What I loved most about this book, however, is that while it is most certainly a romance, I think it was more of a mystery. Both Anthony and Sophia are trying to solve the disappearance/possible murder of… well, they actually don’t know who at first! I always find it fun to try and guess whodunnit in mystery novels and this was no different. In this book there are a number of suspects and though I wasn’t ENTIRELY surprised by the answer, I also didn’t exactly see it coming, so that’s a good thing! Additionally there were a couple other subplots that tied in with the murder plot, adding more interest and intrigue.

Should you read it? Overall this was a solid historical mystery romance. I haven’t read a lot of historical romance to compare this to, but I enjoyed it quite a bit and think it’s worth taking a chance on.


QUOTES

 

Braxton’s very presence now in his home engendered emotions that had no place in his current life, a new life he’d planned to begin that very evening by announcing his intentions to court a beautiful woman who had become his dearest friend.

She narrowed her eyes, her nostrils flaring slightly, much preferring anger to heartache. Perhaps it was time to petition God again about striking him dead. That thought cheered her immeasurably, and she looked forward to the coastline with a smile.

The familiar sound of his voice had washed over her like warm rain, and it had taken true restraint to keep from launching herself at him.

“You frighten me, Rachael Scarsdale. What will you do? Make sure of medieval torture devices?”
“Oh, Sophia, what nonsense.” They reached the drawing room and Rachael smiled. “I don’t have access to any of those.”

“Oh, it is no impertinence on my part, I assure you! Lord Wilshire and I are the dearest of friends, you see. He is rather like my own brother. We are truly family.” Sophia thought she heard Anthony grinding his teeth, but she wasn’t certain.

Anthony’s eyes narrowed fractionally. She felt a thrill course through her limbs and caught her breath. He was irritated. Well, let him be. He made this friendship bed, and now he could lie down in it.

“You never even kissed me! I had no desire to be publicly ruined, but gentleman steal kisses from ladies frequently. I heard all sorts of gossip in the retiring rooms. Do you have any ida how long I was waiting for you to snatch a momenta t a party, perhaps two seconds in the shadows of the balcony—” He tilted her face up with both hands and cut off her sentence.

“Are you well?” he asked Sophia quietly.
She nodded, but swayed on her feet.
“Shall I carry you to your bedchamber?” His lips twitched, and she smiled.
“Yes, please, my lord. Perhaps if I should faint, you would be obliged.”
He leaned close to her ear, taking advantage of the distraction now spilling through the house. “And then I should be obliged to loosen your stays so you might regain your breath. Strictly for your well-being of course.”

And by all that was holy, if Braxton did not stop leering at Sophia, Anthony was prepared to put his fist in the man’s throat.

“My petticoat is exposed, but not my ankles. My modesty is preserved.”


My (Writing) Life

Ahhh……

It’s been a long weekend. After a busy Friday evening at the hotel, I spent all of Saturday doing party prep. Cleaning, assisting with removing branches from trees (this is normal party prep, right???), and baking. Plus birthday dinner at Culvers. Today, on my daughter’s 6th birthday, we had family over to celebrate. It went off without a hitch. And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’ve come out of hosting a party not utterly exhausted. It does feel nice to just relax though after all that!

This week is an exciting one. I’m off work (at the hotel) until Thursday evening, which means I’ll be dedicating a lot of time to working and setting myself a schedule for my days offincluding a house cleaning schedule. I’m also going to make sure I get at least a couple hundred words written each day.

And speaking of writing, I received the first round of edits on Peace in Flames back on Friday. I skimmed through the edits/comments from my phone and there isn’t a whole lot to address aside from accepting some punctuation changes. Yay! I do need to add a bit more with my villain but she already warned me about that.

So, yeah. That’s what’s up.

 

Did you have a busy weekend? Or were you able to just relax?

REVIEW: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak

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

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

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

"My real name is Alec."

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quotes

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


My (Writing) Life

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

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

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

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

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

 

REVIEW: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quotes

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

REVIEW: The 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: 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:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

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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.



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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.


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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:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


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.