Tag Archive | YA

REVIEW: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Midnight Jewel Book Cover Midnight Jewel
The Glittering Court #2
Richelle Mead
YA Historical Romance
Penguin Razorbill
June 27, 2017
Kindle
416
Amazon
June 27 - July 2, 2017

In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.

My Review

If you know me at all then you know that Richelle Mead is my favorite author. She is my idol, my inspiration, my spirit animal. Richelle Mead is my Patronus. I fell in love with her Vampire Academy series, and once I read her Bloodlines series I knew we were author/reader soulmates. Every new book of hers I read makes me love her even more. So, it’s no surprise that Midnight Jewel, the second in her Glittering Court stand alone series gets 5 stars.

I loved the first book in the series so much I was afraid she couldn’t top it. And then, in some ways, she did. While I loved Adelaide’s love story in the first book, Mira’s is also extremely enjoyable in different ways.

If you haven’t heard about The Glittering Jewel series yet I’ll give you a super fast recap. The books take place in a fictional world similar to England/America at the time of the colonization of America. The Glittering Court is a program that trains underprivileged girls in the way of being proper ladies, then ships them off to the New World to wed the men who have settled in the colonies. But the girls Mead writes about don’t exactly play by the rules, and they all have ulterior motives for joining The Glittering Court.

Midnight Jewel is Mira’s story. 
Mira is such a strong and independent character. A refugee, she’s an outsider and shunned no matter where she goes. But that doesn’t stop her. She’s completely kick ass in a time when women are not supposed to be kick ass. She enters into an unlikely alliance working undercover for a spy named Grant. The sparks between them? Get your fan ready! Ms. Mead knows her way around romance! The build up between these two is almost painful, but Mead is the queen of ripping out hearts, crushing them, and piecing them back together.

The only negative I can even say about this book is that readers who have NOT read the first book may not have as clear of an understanding of how The Glittering Court works, simply because most of Mira’s story takes place after her “training” and she’s gone across the sea to the new world. If you’ve read the first book this should be no problem. If you haven’t you may be left a little confused. Don’t let that stop you though, because once the new world plot was set I was 100% invested in Mira and her story.

Should you read this? Fans of Richelle Mead will rejoice. Readers of historical romance will rejoice. (And did I mention there are pirates???) So basically if you want to give Richelle Mead a chance and Vampires aren’t your thing, give this series a try.


QUOTES

 

“No more alley fights.”
“I know.”
“No more daggers to throats.”
“Cedric, give me some credit.” If we hadn’t been in the cathedral, I would’ve shouted it. “I’ll be the picture of decorum at this finishing school of yours.”

A few other comments from Mistress Masterson’s neat writing mentioned my life at the manor thus far and contained a backhanded compliment: Progressing well for a Sirminican.

“Did they let you in here,” I asked, “or did you just pick the locks?”

“And neither of you understand how badly you’re hurting me! You two are ripping me in half! I’ve seen what happens when neither side back down in a fight. No one wins, Tamsin, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of pain. I’m tired of loss. I can’t do it anymore—and I can’t lose you guys.”

The irony of using Grant’s gift to break into his possessions wasn’t lost on me.

“Let me go!” I yelled, trying to crane my neck and look up at him.
“Hush, I don’t want to hurt you!”
“You slammed me against the wall!”
“I restrained you so I could find out why you’re robbing me! Who sent you?”

“Fifty—or no deal. You’ll regret it if you lose me.”
“I have a feeling I’ll regret this no matter what.” Grant held out his hand to me. “Fifty it is.”

“These traitors we’re dealing with may be crafty, but even a brilliant man will get stupid with a pretty girl. And almost all of them will underestimate you.”

“You don’t have to like me,” I reminded him. “We just have to work together.”
His response was to take off his long coat and toss it to me. “Put this on.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s freezing out here. And I do like you.” He sounded as though it annoyed him to admit it.

“You really are reckless.”
“I think you meant to say ‘fearless’.”

“Aiana, do you think it would ruin the party if I choked someone?”
Her lips twitched with a smile. “I think the Thorns might frown upon that, yes.”

“Don’t correct me on your second language.”
“Isn’t it your second language too?”
“I’ve been speaking it longer.”

“You’re a little overdressed. Or maybe underdressed? That bodice looks. . .”
“Distracting?” I suggested.
“Cold.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll change so you can focus on the job.”

“Men rarely keep honest records hidden under their mattresses. It’s not the bed’s purpose.”
“You mean sleep?”
“Oh, Mirabel. You’re such an innocent.” Grant took out pen and paper from inside his coat and began copying the records. “It’s like you don’t even understand men sometimes.”

He was an exceptional actor, but he hadn’t kissed me like he was putting on a show. He’d kissed me like he wanted to consume me.

Surprise lit Grant’s face when he opened his door. Surprise and. . . something else. Wariness, maybe. Then, his features smoothed, and he was his usual blunt self. “Wisteria Hollow has terrible security.”

I looked like. . . like a girl who’d just let a man have his way with her on the floor. Except he hadn’t.

“I told him he was leading you into things you aren’t ready for.”
“And what did he say?”
“That you were doing the same to him.”

“Whoa, hey, you knew what you were getting into here. If you want hours of flowery speeches, you’d better go find out if Cedric Thorn has a brother.”


My (Writing) Life

No updates. Nothing. I literally posted my review yesterday, went to bed (okay, I ate then played ‘Choices’ on my phone, THEN went to bed) and now I’m here again, up way too early this morning, and posting this review. This much, much overdue review.

Now I’m going to take a nap.

REVIEW: Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke

Waters of Salt and Sin Book Cover Waters of Salt and Sin
Uncommon World #1
Alisha Klapheke
YA Fantasy
April 4, 2017
Kindle
386
Amazon
Flights of Fantasy
September 4 - 11, 2017

Set in a lush, high-fantasy world inspired by ancient Mediterranean cultures, Waters of Salt and Sin is perfect for Game of Thrones and Sabaa Tahir fans.

When seventeen-year-old salt witch Kinneret learns of a lost island of silver, she sets out to find it, raise her status, and finally have a chance to wed Calev, the high-caste friend she secretly loves.

But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Find the island to secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the woman’s fighting sailors will rescue Kinneret’s sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she will cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

My Review

 

I stumbled upon this book sort of by accident. I saw it listed for free in one of the book bargain newsletters I subscribe to. I download a lot of freebies that way and I was feeling a little guilty because they sit there unread. So, after a wave of guilt, I pulled up my massive list of books and chose this one at random.

And boy was I glad I did!

This book has it all. Action and adventure; a kick-ass heroine; a sweet love interest; and so much more! Taking place in a fantasy world where slavery is still an accepted practice, Kinneret is in the lowest caste there is. She and her sister, Avi, man a boat with a grumpy man named Oron. When her sister is kidnapped by slavers while they are on a quest for treasure that would buy their way up to a higher caste – a caste high enough to marry Calev, the boy she loves – her mission becomes more difficult than ever.

Over the years since indie publishing has become a thing I’ve had a lot of negative experiences with poorly written and unedited books being put out for public consumption. Fortunately, that was not the case with Waters of Salt and Sin. I could not tell you the difference between this and a book published by one of the big NY publishers. The authors writing is compelling and interesting. Something was always happening in the story and I had a hard time putting it down. If there had been a cliffhanger ending I would have bought book 2 right away. Fortunately for me there wasn’t, but I do have the next book in this series on my TBR for when my obligated reading list shrinks a bit.

So, should you read it? Fans of YA fantasy will gobble up this adventure. Great characters, an interesting plot and world, and pretty much non-stop action.


QUOTES

The glimmering saltwater winked at me and I gave it a lazy smile.
“Soon,” I whispered before heading back down.

 

I was a great liar, but I didn’t rejoice in it. Lying was the skill of the desperate, something I intended to stop being as soon as possible.

 

I shook, my teeth grinding, and the bells of my sash jingling. My dreams were broken, cracked at mid-mast and beyond repair.

 

Silver. Loads of it. More than I could picture in a thousand of my low-caste, spit-on, calloused dreams. It would be raw. It could be cursed. But it would be ours.

 

I was in love with my best friend.
And he couldn’t know until I had the silver to buy my way to high-caste. Only then could he consider me.

 

“What’s this about?” Calev asked. “I’m all for avoiding harvest prep—it’s exactly as appealing as a hug from Aunt Y’hudit—but usually I know what kind of adventure you’re dragging me into.”

 

I ignored his all-too-common, close-minded view on the line between religion, magic, and science. To me, they were just different words for the same thing.

 

“You don’t know what it’s like to have people push in front of you. To be refused service at the market because of bells.”
To watch the boy you love be promised to a girl only because of her caste.

 

“I was raised in a roadside brothel by a mother who fancied traveling theatre players,” Oron said to Calev, his words whipping toward us as the wind rose even higher, and we sped forward. “I speak the tongue of the wicked and witty.”

 

“The amir might not like this. You must be quiet, and still.”
I nodded. “I’ll be as inactive as your mind.”
“Wht?”
“What?” I echoed.

 

A ruthless amir grabbing for my silver.
My innocent sister twisting and screaming in the hands of a madman.
Salt Wraiths and legendary sea monsters.
I looked down at my hands, which suddenly didn’t seem as strong as they’d always been.

 

He was my luck, my heart, the blood in my veins, and somehow, some way, I would have him.

 

His first loyalty was to his people. Not to me. Not to the love sprouting between us.


My (Writing) Life

It’s the same thing I always say, it’s been too long between posts. I’ve been staying busy with a thousand things with my publishing job. I’m hoping things will slow down a little with the year coming to a close. Though we don’t aim to publish in December, there’s still plenty work going on in the background getting ready for January. But I’m still hoping the workload will slow at least a bit!

I’m officially DONE with edits on PEACE IN FLAMES! I’m going through a final proofing right now. I sent the book to my Kindle and I’ve got the device reading to me so that I can catch the little errors that my eyes may miss. I’m so excited to have her ready to go well before her release in February!

I had a glorious evening last night working on SUMMER OF PEACE. So much progress made. Unfortunately my heroine, JoJo, is mad at me today, so I’m a bit stuck. I know that sounds weird, but I swear, this character has taken on a life of her own. I always thought authors were crazy when they talked about “characters talking” to them. But alas, I’m one of the crazies now. JoJo is very loud, except today. Today I threw something at her that she’s having trouble processing.

Until next time….

REVIEW: Pucked by Rachel Walter

Pucked Book Cover Pucked
Rachel Walter
Contemporary YA Romance / Sports Romance
February 10, 2015
Kindle
328
The Author
Beat The Backlist
August 15, 2017

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

Who keeps the puck?

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

Review

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

 

Let me start by saying I hate sports. I don’t “get” them and don’t follow them. I always work during the Superbowl because I could care less about the game. That said, I loved this YA sports romance! This book made me want to be a hockey fan. I mean, sports still bore me, but Rachel Walter made me feel like maybe I’m missing out on something.

This book is very deep, especially for a YA novel. Riley has a very shitty home life. His mom is a real piece of work and he has basically raised his little sister since his dad left 5 years ago. When his dad left he shut down. He turned to hockey as his only outlet, his way of making something of himself and getting out of his crappy situation.

Audrey is his best friend. She’s the only one who really gets him. She’s the only one he doesn’t ice out. Their friendship is perfect. And then he kisses her and things get weird.

Told in dual POV (Riley and Audrey) this book takes place over a long period of time. It’s not a quick romance, and I loved it that way. So much happens over a long period of time that I really got to know these characters. I was rooting for them. When Riley proclaimed time and time again that love gets in the way, my heart broke. I kept waiting for Audrey to fix him. But his issues ran so deep it wasn’t a quick fix and I think the author did the subject matter justice by not making it seem like one girl could fix a boy so broken. All she could do was help.

So yeah, I loved this story. I loved these characters. And this book made me want to love hockey as much as the Mighty Ducks movies did when I was 12! A+

So, should you read it? YA contemporary fans will eat this one up. And I can attest to the fact that you can hate sports and still love this story!


Quotes

The pissed off, Frozen Silk look comes back. The look that turns his iceberg blue eyes into sheets of steel. The same look that my dad says is rage turned to stone. But it doesn’t scare me on Riley.


I can’t hear anymore. Not everyone has a happily ever after. And not every couple stays together.


“Why do you keep apologizing?”
I sit back on my knees and help her up.
“Lots of reasons. First, I just pucked you.”


He doesn’t get to kiss me and then give me away to his best friend. Not me. Not him. I turn away from my locker, fully preparing to lay into Riley.


“I was beginning to think you wanted me to be the next crazy, cat lady.”
He smiles gently. “Never, you deserve more than cats. Maybe a ferret, they’d keep you on your toes by hiding your keys.”


Love gets in the way of everything. If I could kick my heart to the curb, I bet I could get through life easy.


“Wear the yellow dress, and he’ll do anything you say.”
“You’re trying to thaw him out, not heat him to a boil. Do not ever wear that dress around Riley again!” Candy argues.


Love is pain.
Love is empty.
Love hurts.
Love isn’t in my house. My house is a hellhole.


In my head, this is a play. It’s a one on one with interference, I feel like the puck. I’m passed, I’m sliced, I’m shot, I’m backhanded, and I’m blocked from both nets. The net minders are in control.


Ice is relatable. It’s unforgiving but freeing.


“I wasn’t sure if we would ever give our relationship a name-,”
“A name? It’s not a pet, Audrey.”


There’s ice in my head, ice in my lungs, and ice in my heart.


“Louise was right about you,” he says softly. “You’re too young to be this old.”


My (Writing) Life

I just got done with the loooongest weekend in a while. 7 hour shift on Friday, 12 on Saturday, and 8 on Sunday. Whew! It feels good to just stay home today!

Of course, my work at home is never one either. I’ve spent my morning so far setting up Amazon ads for some the books at my pub house. I’ve still got a few more to set up, not to mention covers to design, files to format, and so on.

I got word this weekend that the Peace group is planning some fun writing projects for October. So stay tuned and I’ll post more details about that soon. (Or you can just follow our Facebook page!) All I know for sure is that I’ll be writing a short flash fiction Halloween tale involving JoJo (Summer of Peace – Feb 2018) and Valerie (Peace in Flames – April 2018) which takes place before the events of both novellas. It should be fun!

I finished my proof reading job last night (woohoo!) and will have a review for that book in the future. Seriously, getting paid to read is the best. And now that I’m done with that project I can really focus on finishing the editing on Peace in Flames and the re-writing of Summer of Peace. THEN I can dive into my YA contemporary romance series, hopefully just in time for NaNoWriMo!

But enough about this. I’ve got work to do!

Did you have a long, busy weekend like I did? Or were you able to sit back and relax?

REVIEW: Live Fast, Die Young by Vanessa Barneveld

Live Fast, Die Young Book Cover Live Fast, Die Young
Vanessa Barneveld
Contemporary YA Romance
September 27, 2016
Kindle
118
Amazon
Beat The Backlist
August 5, 2017

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret. Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.

My Review

If ever there was a book that made me think twice about skipping the sunscreen, it was this one.

I’ve been downloading a lot of free books lately from all those newsletter full of book deals. So many that I started to feel guilty. So, I took a break from my ARC reading and chose a book at random from my Kindle backlog. I chose this one because I liked the title and the cover looked fun. Perfect for a summer read. Bonus it was a novella!

Then I started and oh boy…

Live Fast, Die Young is an emotionally turbulent novella. Alex has terminal cancer (melanoma) and doesn’t want anyone to know. Not even his best friend, Molly, the girl he’s also in love with. He doesn’t want people to look at him differently. So, he keeps his cancer a secret and vows to live what’s left of his life to the fullest.

This story is tragic and beautiful. It can be hard to connect to characters in novellas sometimes because of the limited number of pages you have to get to know them. Vanessa Barneveld portrayed these characters seamlessly. I got to know them and grew to care for them.

The only disappointment I had was that this book, which I got as an Amazon freebie, wasn’t a prequel! I was really hoping to go buy the next book, in which Alex and Molly work to complete Alex’s bucket list before his time runs out. Or to watch Molly learn to love again after Alex’s death. I’m uber bummed that this wasn’t the case. I will however be on the lookout for more from his author.

So, should you read the book? If you want a short, well-written, tragically beautiful story look no further. If books about cancer trigger you, maybe leave this one alone.


QUOTES

Kip’s tongue flicks out and laps sauce off the corner of his lips. Could this guy be any more reptilian? I shudder.


“…But right now? I’m thinking I want to be like James Dean. You know, live fast, die young. Do things at full speed and go out with a spectacular crash.”


This is what dying feels like. When your heart pounds hard enough to crack a rib. When loud, squealing noises echo from an unseen source. When you look around and the world distorts, fades to black. When the last thing your brain registers is the thud of your head hitting the linoleum.


I don’t even remember the exact moment I fell in love with her, but I can’t imagine being out of love with her. Yet I don’t want Molly to fall in love with me. Not when I’ve got a death sentence.


My (Writing) Life

I’m a terrible, horrible person. Instead of doing real work a couple nights ago, or going to bed like I should have, I stayed up late mocking up two book covers. For myself. For books that don’t exist yet. Except very loosely in my head. To go along with another book cover I mocked up for myself. So.. yeah. I’ve pretty much got myself committed to at least a three book YA contemporary romance series, each book a standalone. Hopefully I’ll get started on that by early 2018, if not sooner.

In other news, edits on Peace in Flames are going well. And re-writes on Summer of Peace are moving along nicely as well. A new plot twist popped into my head, so hopefully that works out. I’m very excited to share these novellas with you all.

Here’s a little teaser from Peace in Flames.
(Peace in Flames is Valerie and Liam’s story. Summer of Peace is JoJo and Matt’s story.)

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: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Read: July 24, 2017

Format: NetGalley E-ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Pages: 304 Pages

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

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

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


REVIEW

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

 

BE STILL MY HEART!

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

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

The characters in this book are amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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QUOTES

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

REVIEW: The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy

The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy           

Read: March 2016

Format: Uncorrected Manuscript

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Fire & Ice Young Adult Books

Release Date:

Genre: Time Travel YA

Pages: 217


ABOUT THE BOOK

Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.

Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.

With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.

Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.

Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.

Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.

Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.

Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.


REVIEW

Cassie Miller is not handling her parents divorce well. Her mom is a work-a-holic judge in England, and her dad moved to France.

After she’s kicked out of her boarding school, Her mom takes Cassie and her little brother to her ancestral home, Ludlow Park, for some quality family time. But that first night, after a big fight with her mom, a storm rolls in. While trying to sneak a cigarette, the power goes out, right as she’s standing by the creepy wolf mirror in the East Wing.

Suddenly Cassie finds she’s been sent back in time to 1714. Meanwhile, the Lady Cassandra Miller of 1714 finds herself in 2014.

This is an interesting story because while the main plot is that Lady Cassandra’s father is dying and Cassie has to stop that from happening in order to save her lineage. But more than that, it’s about family. Lady Cassandra’s mother is dead, and Cassie doesn’t get along with hers at all. During her time in 1714 she quickly realizes there are many times she wishes her mom was there for her.

Both girls find an ally/confidant in their new time and it’s quite interesting to watch them try to adapt.

I also praise Ms. Healy for her descriptions of 1714. She wasn’t overly descriptive, but there was enough for me to get a feel for a time long past.

The real gem of this story however, is the characters. From page one, I loved Cassie. I felt for her and I wanted her to find acceptance. Sure I didn’t approve of a lot of her life choices, but at the same time I understood her reasons for acting the way she did. I thought she was very well written.

I’d recommend this book for teen and adult readers alike who are looking for interesting, well-developed characters, a little mystery, and the magic of time travel.

 

Disclaimer: I do work for this publisher, and I designed the covers for this series. My rating and opinions are 100% my own. I love this series!


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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.


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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.



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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: Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger

Series: Follow Me Back #1

Read: January 15 – 17, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: June 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 368

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA Reading Challenge

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

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

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

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

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.


REVIEW

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Get the Book here:

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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