Tag Archive | ARC

REVIEW: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
Read: February 11 – 19, 2016
Format: ARC Print Books (Goodreads Win
My Book Rating:  3.5 Stars
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Chic-Lit

I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads First to Win. This in no way affects my review or feelings toward the book.

Keep Me Posted is a book that’s hard for me to review. I don’t really read Women’s Fiction, so I’m really not the target audience. I’ll get to more on why it’s hard for me to review in a bit.

The basic premise is two sisters, Cassie in NYC and Sid in Singapore, who decide to start writing each other letters and mailing them to one another, in order to reconnect the old fashion way. All is good and well, until the letters become public on the Internet and the sisters become pseudo-celebrities on the Net.

So, as I said before, this is a hard one for me to review. I don’t read Women’s Fiction, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I will start by saying that I loved the letters. I honestly didn’t know if I would, but I really enjoyed reading the letters each sister wrote to the other. The story is told from Cassie’s POV, but even reading Sid’s letters, I felt like I knew her. I think that’s not always easy to do, so well done Ms. Beazley!

On the other hand, I didn’t really like Cassie. She’s the protagonist of our story, but she was very hard for me to like. Which is kind of funny, because I see a lot of myself in her as well. Cassie is in her mid-30’s, married to a wonderful man, and in the last year or so she’s given up her career in order to stay home and raise her twin boys. She pokes fun at crunchy mommy bloggers (I only know these terms because I myself had my last baby 4 years ago and was immersed in much the same world as Cassie.) I laughed and agreed with a lot of what she had to say about those kinds of parents. I shared a lot of the same habits and feelings as her (she’s a social media addict, as am I. She has an incredibly well-liked big sister and has always been in her shadow, as do I. She constantly questions whether she should have even had kids and feels like an utter failure, to which I think all moms can relate!)

However, I hard a hard time connecting with her because of how she’d throw around money like it was going out of style, and this is probably my own hang up from not being in the same income bracket as this character. $3,900 on a new summer wardrobe — which, I get how it is after having a baby and having no clothes that fit — but that seems excessive to me. Or a spur of the moment trip to Singapore to see her sister, there’s a few thousand more. But what kills me is when her husband makes a comment to the extent of, “I guess we’re eating rice and noodles for a while,” and then she throws around more money! Again, I’m in a different income bracket as this character, and I have a hard time relating to someone who doesn’t seem to understand the value of a dollar, but other readers may not take issue with that at all.

The first half of the book felt like a lot of filler to me as well. Some parts were funny, but there were a lot of tangents that didn’t move the plot forward, info dumping at times. When I reached the end, I think a lot of it could have been left out. Maybe this is how Chic Lit is, I don’t know, like I said, I don’t usually read it.

Chapter fifteen though? That’s when things got real. Cassie discovers that the blog where she’d backed up all of the letters between her sister and herself, has suddenly gone live. She was sure she set the privacy settings to PRIVATE, and yet, there’s her blog, out for the world to see… gone viral. Now she has to deal with the aftermath, all of her and her sisters private thoughts out in the world. Confessions about her in-laws, her husband, and her friends. She has to tell her sister what happened, and her husband, and she confessed to some terrible things in those letters that her husband can’t just brush aside. I really felt for her there and in the end I was rooting for her.

I think my favorite character of the whole book, however, was Uncle Sal, Cassie’s husbands uncle. Cassie and her sister-in-law are convinced he’s in the mafia, and he’s just a delight to read.

Ultimately, I think my biggest hang up with this book was that it often wasn’t told in chronological order, the tangents I mentioned before. That and Cassie’s throwing around money like it’s going out of style. But, the ending was beautiful and full of heart, which ultimately saved me from regretting having read this book.

Would I recommend Keep Me Posted? Yes. But not to everyone. Those who like Women’s Fiction and more literary works might enjoy this, or even those with young children who can commiserate with Cassie and her feelings. Those who stick mostly with genre-based fiction probably wouldn’t enjoy this as much.

NOTE: After writing this review and sitting on it for a while, it occured to me what I think my problem with this book was. It read more like a memoir instead of fiction. 

REVIEW: Monarch by A. R. Ivanovich

MonarchMonarch by A. R. Ivanovitch

Series: War of the Princes #3

Read: January 24-25, 2016

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

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

 

Monarch, like it’s predecessors, Haven and Paperglass, is a fantasy / steampunk novel packed with action, adventure and surprises.

We pick up immediately after the events of Paperglass with Katelyn and crew fulfilling their promise to Common Lord Brendon Axton in helping to aid the city of Breakwater.

I love that in this book we get to learn more about the Northern army. We already learned a lot about the Dragoons and Margraves of the West in previous books, but the Northern army has their own tricks up their sleeves as we learn in this book. And secrets.

I really can’t say much without spoiling the plot, but I’ll tell you this. There’s a huge secret unveiled and a huge betrayal. Beyond that… I just can’t!

I know this is pathetically short, but if you enjoyed the previous books, I think you’ll enjoy this one. The set up for the end is beautiful and I honestly don’t know how everything will go down.

The only criticism I have is that up until the 40% mark it kind of dragged. Then—BAM! We’re thrown into the action again. There were also a couple of editing mistakes I caught as well, but not enough to pull me out of the story or lower my rating.

REVIEW: Haven by A. R. Ivanovitch

Don’t forget to enter to win the ghostly romance The Way Forward by Jill Bisker over at THIS post!

 


 

Haven by A. R. Ivanovitch

Series: War of the Princes #1

Read: January 3-5 2016

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

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

This book. Wow. This is the kind of book that keeps you turning the page, not wanting to put it down, saying ‘just one more chapter!’ only to get to the end and need to dive into the next book ASAP. That is Haven.

Katelyn Kestrel is the heroine of this series. Seventeen years old and a bit of a rebel, Katelyn doesn’t just accept the way things are, she questions them. Growing up in Haven, an isolated kingdom/country nestled in a hidden mountain valley, she knows that to try to find a way out is the greatest law, punishable by imprisonment or worse. However, Katelyn can’t help herself. She’s always had an instinct about finding what she’s looking for, and finding her way out of Haven is no different. She suddenly finds herself in a cave, forced to choose between taking the safe route and going back, or helping a wounded soldier in her path. Katelyn helps the soldier and that’s where the story really begins.

There is a minor-almost-love-triangle in this book. Katelyn has strong feelings for her rescued soldier, Rune, but the other young man she meets, the Common Lord Dylan Axton, has his eye on her as well, showering her with gifts.

Katelyn discovers secrets about herself and her people and soon, Haven’s fate is entirely in her hands.

The world building in this book is captivating. There were little things that drove me a little crazy, like the Haven people’s superstition that name alliteration was good luck (hence our heroine being Katelyn Kestrel, sister to Kevin Kestrel, friend of Kyle Kiteman, etc.) I quickly forgot all that once the plot moved forward. The powers are very cool, and the military and royal hierarchy well thought out.

The best part of this book though? It’s a fantasy novel done right. The reader is not inundated with pages and pages of description, we’re given just enough to set the scene to feel as though we’re there, and then we move on. As I stated before, I could not put this book down. I said ‘just one more chapter’ for a good seven chapters before forcing myself to go to bed. I told myself I would get some work done before starting book 2, however I’m already almost 20% into Paperglass and let me tell you, it’s as good if not better than Haven!

There are plenty of questions left unanswered in this book; for example, if the Haven people have been secluded from the Outside World for over 700 years, why do they still speak the same language, albeit with a strong accent? At least some of these questions are answered later in the series (which I only know because I’ve started the next.)

In my opinion, this is a must read YA title for readers looking for a strong heroine, adventure, magic, and alternate history. I did deduct half a star because there were more than a couple editing errors, perhaps not enough to distract the average reader, but definitely enough for me to catch.

Haven and the rest of the series was originally self-published and now available from Alloy Entertainment.

REVIEW: Should’ve Said No by Tracy March

Should’ve Said No by Tracy March

Read: September 2015

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

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

 

Should’ve Said No is exactly the type of romance I enjoy reading. It’s clean, you know there’s going to be a happy ending, the characters are easy to like, and there’s an actual plot – not just relationship drama!

After losing her job at the Smithsonian, Lindsey takes a job as a museum curator in the small town of Thistle Bend, Colorado. Moving from D.C. to this tiny town is a bit of a culture shock for her, but she makes the best of it, knowing she’ll be out of there within a year or so.

Carden is basically a dream boat. Not only is he extremely successful and one of the most eligible bachelors in Colorado, he’s also immensely generous, helping out anyone who needs it, despite his obligations to his career and the ranch he runs. When Lindsey first meets Carden, he’s taking care of some last minute fixes in the house she’s renting and she mistakes him for a handyman. He’s absolutely gorgeous, but Lindsey doesn’t want to get involved with anyone, doesn’t want to put down roots.

Another reason Lindsey knows she can’t be with Carden, despite the sparks that are flying, is the family feud. Carden’s family has been feuding over a land deal that happened over a hundred years ago, with Lindsey’s family. Well, her family by marriage anyway – her aunts marriage into the other family involved in the feud. Nobody knows that Lindsey is connected to one of the families, and as curator to the museum, it’s her job to try and find the truth of what really happened in that land deal and hopefully put the feud to rest once and for all.

I enjoyed trying to guess what really happened all those years ago along with Lindsey as she dug up the clues. She was a strong, independent woman who knew what she wanted. I often dislike the heroine’s in romance novels because their main focus is getting the man. That’s absolutely not the case here. And, if I don’t hate the heroine, I hate the hero. But I didn’t hate Carden either. They were both well developed, interesting characters.

This is absolutely an enjoyable read and I most definitely recommend it. I’ll be looking for more from Tracy March in the future!

REVIEW: Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

Read: September 2015

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Mystery YA

 

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

 

I actually didn’t think I was going to like Dead Ringer at all when I first started reading it. The point of view started with the new girl in school, Laura, then started jumping to other characters and I’m honestly not a real big fan of that. It has it’s moments, and it has to be done right. I forced myself to keep reading and I came to appreciate the multiple POV’s, ultimately they did work, I just wish the transition had been smoother.

As I said, Laura is the new girl at school and she looks eerily similar to Sarah, the girl who died almost two years prior. As Laura adjusts to live in her new school she begins digging around the past, trying to figure out what really happened to Sarah.

We also get into the head of Charlie, he’s the schools star soccer player. He has his own secrets to hide about Sarah and he’s also getting close to Laura. I really liked Charlie, I liked how his character was developed. I was able to sympathize with and root for him.

The third character from whom we see a POV is Sasha. She’s also out for answers to Sarah’s death and an enigma herself for much of the book. We initially don’t know her motivation or how she even knows about Sarah. I think she was a great addition to the story and added a nice extra layer of mystery.

All of this was great, except…. details were given in the beginning of the book don’t match up with the end game. I really can’t say a whole lot or else it will ruin the book for those who have not yet read it. The ending is fabulous, minus the terrible cliffhanger the author leaves us with. But, the motives and inner thoughts from the beginning of the book do not fit with the character after the big twist. There’s suspension of believe in fiction, and I’m pretty lenient with what I’ll let slide, but this stuff was big. Like the author changed the ending as she was writing it and didn’t go back to change those earlier details.

The characters were likable though, and trying to solve the mystery was fun, but I’m a stickler for the details and I’m just really irritated with this one

Will I read the next book? If NetGalley offers it up to me, I will happily take it to see if the resolution to the cliffhanger will make up for the details in this book that didn’t make sense.

Ultimately, I’d say this book is average. It had a lot of potential but it needed some reworking in order to make the pieces fit together properly. If you’re less of a stickler for details and are just looking for a nice mystery with some interesting twists, this may be the book for you.

 

 

REVIEW: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

(The Black Blade, Book 2)

 

Read: September 2015

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy YA

 

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

 

When I requested to read and review Dark Heart of Magic from NetGalley, I didn’t realize it was the second book in a series. I actually didn’t realize until partway through the book!

I do recommend starting with book one, because I’m pretty sure this one is full of book one spoilers. Even without starting at the beginning this was highly enjoyable and I was not lost.

Lila is a thief and makes no excuses for it. She’s a strong female lead and absolutely entertaining to read about. Lila also a person of magic in a very unique town. Set at the base of Cloudburst Mountain, Cloudburst Falls is full of magic and monsters, and the ruling families (mobs) have taken full advantage, turning their little town into a tourist trap. People come from all over to see the monsters that live in the parks, petting zoos, forests, and on the mountain.

Lila works for the Sinclair Family as bodyguard to their leaders son, Devon. There’s obvious chemistry between the two, but Lila is all business. She’s doing her job as a means to an end — revenge on the Draconis family, those responsible for the murder of her mother.

Trying to blend in and stay invisible (she’s a thief, remember?) becomes very difficult, however, when Lila is entered into the summer Tournament of Blades, an annual battle of magic among the families, and fodder for the tourists. And, it seems as though someone is out to get Lila.

There’s magic and mystery, action and romance. And, though I figured out who was behind it all before the characters did, I enjoyed every second. So much so, that soon after, I one-clicked book one for my Kindle!

As a fan of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, I think other fans of that series will love Jennifer Estep’s series. While in TMI the magic is kept hidden from the normal humans, in DHoM the magic is flaunted and used as a source of income. The magic system is pretty cool as well, with everyone who has magic having some variation of strength, speed or senses as well as some level of power – minor, moderate, or major. Some powers are more rare and desired than others. Some are more of a curse than a blessing as well, we learn in this story.

The end of the book was a satisfying conclusion to this story arc, yet it left me thirsting for more of Lila, Devon, and the rest of their crew.

Dark Heart of Magic is available from Kensington Books on October 27, 2015. Until then, you can check out book one, Cold Burn of Magic. (Book three, Bright Blaze of Magic will be available May 2016.)

 

REVIEW: Overexposed by Adrianne James

Overexposed by Adrianne James

Read: September 2015

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary YA

 

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

 

Overexposed is the story of three friends (Vi, Ashley and Macy) who get more than they bargained for when they uncover something dark in their small mining community. While working together on a project for their high school photography class, they see something that will put their lives in danger.

Overexposed was a book where, upon beginning to read, I wasn’t sure I’d like. In the beginning, the characters all seemed to blend together, and we’re told that Vi is a big gossip queen but we’re not really shown. We’re told over and over again how she needs to watch herself, but I didn’t observe her really doing any gossiping. We’re thrown right into the thick of things instead, which isn’t a bad thing, but being that gossiping is such a big part of who she is, I wish I’d been shown this instead of just told. I feel like Ashley was a little more developed, she was sort of a wallflower artist chick, with cool hair (it changes frequently.) I would say Vi was the main character, Ashley was her sidekick, and Macy was along for the ride, so we didn’t get to know Macy as much but that was okay.

The second half of the book almost made me forget the lack of showing-not-telling in the beginning. There was action and drama and people that made me so mad! When a fictional character can have you wanting to punch them in the throat, you know you have a winner.

I really don’t want to say much for fear of giving away the plot. I will say that this was an enjoyable read and I’m glad I read it. It touches base on bullying in school and so much more. Aside from the character development that I felt was a little lacking, I would recommend this book and also read more from Adrianne James in the future.

REVIEW: Wishing For You by Elizabeth Langston

Wishing For You by Elizabeth Langston (I Wish #2)

Read: September 2015

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

 

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

 

Tip for reading this book – do not begin immediately after reading book one, I Wish. Both books are told in first person, but two different characters. Book one is Lacey’s story. Book two is Kimberley’s. I had to keep reminding myself this was not Lacey narrating, this was Kimberley.

We first met Kimberley in I Wish, as Lacey’s new-to-town friend. A cancer survivor, one major lingering side effect from her ordeal is brain damage. Short-term memory loss to be precise. Kimberley has to carry around an iPad to record everything she does, otherwise she may not remember.

When Grant appears in a puff of smoke she is only mildy surprised to learn he’s a genie and there to grant her wishes. I honestly wasn’t sure how Grant could help Kimberley. Her challenges were so different from Lacey’s I couldn’t imagine where this would go. As it turned out, Grant was entirely beneficial for her.

Due to her disability, Kimberley relies very heavily on her parents, her mother in particular. Instead of helping her to be self-sufficient, they have kept her in a protective bubble. They drive her everywhere, she has no chores aside from keeping her bedroom clean, she doesn’t know how to cook or do laundry, the list goes on. With Grant’s help, she’s able to identify the reasons she should not do a particular task, and then find a way around that obstacle safely. Most importantly, Grant helps her become her own person and not just the person her family thinks she is.

Even though Grant was there to help her, that really wasn’t the main plot point of this book. Someone close to Kimberley has been diagnosed with cancer. She’s been there, she knows what he’s going through. Her friend is keeping mum, he asks her to not tell a soul (aside from her mom) and she agrees, because how could you let down your friend when he’s terminal?

The romance in this book was far superior to I Wish, in my opinion. It built slowly and realistically. There was no love triangle for Kimberley (thank goodness!)

What really makes this book memorable though is the friendship between Kimberley and her friend with cancer. Watching their friendship grow, only to end in heartbreak had me tearing up.

I have an idea of what will likely happen to Grant next, now that he’s completed his month with Kimberley, but I won’t say anything for fear of spoiling anything from this book.

Ultimately, I’d say this book was a little better than its predecessor and I do look forward to what book three will bring.

REVIEW: I Wish by Elizabeth Langston

This review is for book one of the I Wish series, a unique take on genies.
I would say this book is more of a contemporary fiction novel with a fantasy spin.

This was another I read via text-to-speech on my Kindle at work.


 

I Wish by Elizabeth Langston

Read: September 2015

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy Romance

 

 

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

On the surface, I Wish is a paranormal romance about a human and her genie. But really, it’s more than that.

I Wish is Lacey’s story. She’s nearly eighteen and the primary caretaker of her family. Her father died when she was six and her stepfather died one year before the books events take place. Her mother is suffering from sever depression and Lacey is sure if she tries to get help there will be social workers who will take Lacey and her eight year old brother, Henry, away. She’s been in child protective services once before, after her father died. She doesn’t want Henry to have to go through that.

To support her family and pay the bills Lacey has a job at a bookstore and she’s been pawning the family valuables at the local flea market. She receives money from her dad’s military death benefits, and her mother and brother receive social security, but it’s barely enough to pay the mortgage. They are in dire need, late on bills and living on pasta.

When Lacey gets her hands on a beat up music box at the flea market she thinks if she can clean it up she might be able to sell it for more. So she takes it home, starts scrubbing the box, and in a puff of smoke, her genie appears. And he’s an extremely attractive teenage boy who tells her his name is Grant. He quickly explains that he is there to serve her, she is his mistress, and there are rules. Lacey will not receive 3 wishes, instead she will receive 30 wishes—one per day for the next 30 days. There’s a catch, while Grant has magic, he is only able to grant wishes that are humanly possible. No wishing for a million dollars or a new car.

Lacey, being the practical and responsible person she is, makes a list of everything Grant can help her with and soon he becomes her personal handyman. While he helps her fix up the house and find ways to make money to help support the family, she also learns some life lessons. Lacey does not like to accept charity, she’s doing just fine supporting the family. Grant helps her learn to accept help and realize she can’t do everything on her own. It was interesting watching Lacey grow.

One of the things I most enjoyed about the story were the letters from Grant to hiss Boss at the end of each chapter, outlining the wish he granted for the day and his overall feelings/observations. It was interesting watching him learn and grow.

Now, my one gripe with the story is the romance between Grant and Lacey. The whole story we’re building up a relationship between Lacey and her classmate Eli (who is also her brothers soccer coach) and then we’re thrown a curveball when Grant and Lacey fall for each other. Sure she’s been physically attracted to him from the get go, but he does not have a full range of human emotions, because he’s not human. He doesn’t think the way humans think. I sort of feel like the author was expected to have Grant and Lacey be together, so she made it happen. Ultimately, I don’t think it really added a lot to the story the way it was done. If the romance build had been more organic and less sudden, I would be more okay with it.

Even with that small gripe (that others may not share at all!) I still give it 4 stars and do recommend this book. The sequel Wishing For You releases October 13. Watch for my review on that book very soon!

 

 

REVIEW: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone

This one is for the gamers and geeks out there!

The publisher describes this book as: “for fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.”.

 


 

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone

Read: September 2015

Format: Ebook ARC (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: New Adult Mystery – humorous

 

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

 

Confession: I used to be a World of Warcraft addict. It’s true. I participated in lan parties in my boyfriend’s apartment with his roommates and their girlfriends. We were cool like that.

What does this have to do with The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss? Well, this book is ideal for anyone with basic knowledge of MMORPG’s. (That’s massive multiplayer online role playing game’s for those not in the know.)

This book is absolutely ridiculous in all the right ways. Everything that happens is so completely unbelievable, it’s believable.

Dahlia has been out of work for over a year. She graduated college with her fancy business degree, then proceeded to spend a year interviewing and not getting hired anywhere. Enter Jonah. He offers Dahlia $1,000 to find out who stole a digital weapon in the MMORPG he plays. Why? She has no background in detective work – save two days as a temp answering phones. She’s the worst (wo)man for the job, but she’s broke. So she takes his money and gets to work.

I can’t say too much about the plot without giving anything away, but it’s a ride. There’s murder, crazy people, gamers (another variety of crazy people – trust me, I know) and learning to deal with the cards life has dealt.

Another confession: I didn’t read this book, while working I used text to speech on my Kindle and it was read to me in a very robotic female voice which I now identify as the voice of Dahlia Moss. I believe this made the humor in this book a thousand times funnier. I actually had a moment where I had to stop working and stifle my laughter, which was turning to tears. It was hilarious. There are references to MMORPG’s (obviously), Pokemon, gaming conventions and so much more. One of my favorite parts was while in the game gathering clues, Dahlia discovers one of Jonah’s guild members is pregnant, and another guild member says said pregnant gamer will be leaving the game soon, because that’s what happens when female players have babies. Real life takes over and they quit their MMORPG’s. I laughed a lot, and shared this part with my husband, because when I had a baby I quite playing WoW.

The best part about the book is Dahlia herself. She’s gotten to the the point where she just doesn’t care. Nothing is working out, so she’ll just roll with the punches. If that means dying her hair pink, so be it. If that means planning a virtual in game funeral for the death of a real person? Why not. She’s surrounded by an oddball cast that are too insane not to be real. Like her roommate Charice, who has completely spontaneous theme parties in her apartment (which incidentally lead to Jonah showing up to offer Dahlia the detective job).

The mystery in this book is resolved perfectly. The clues are all there, though I didn’t have an inkling of ‘whodunit’ until nearly the big reveal.

Seriously, anyone who has ever submerged themselves in geek culture must read this book. It’s a healthy dose of Veronica Mars (though slightly less competent) and The Guild. In a movie, Felicia Day would play Dahlia. There’s simply no other choice.

If there’s a sequel I want to read it to find out what mess Dahlia will get herself into next!