Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Sword by Realm Lovejoy


By Realm Lovejoy

Evil lurks. Camelot sits, vulnerable. The fate of a future king hangs in the balance.

After surviving a string of brutal trials, sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is an official member of Camelot. But beneath its shining façade, Camelot is a crumbling government where loyalties are divided.

Nobody believes Morgan’s suspicions that enemies are closing in. Prince Arthur, a boy more interested in playing video games than ruling, will not listen to her, and neither will Lancelot, Camelot’s head of security. Even Morgan's friend Merlin refuses to take action.

When Morgan discovers that someone is plotting to assassinate the future king, she must take her destiny—and his—into her own hands. With the sword Excalibur beckoning in the distance, Morgan embarks on a seemingly impossible mission. And before her journey ends, everyone will know what she is truly capable of . . .

In this second book in the LE FAY series, author Realm Lovejoy takes readers deep into the heart of a splintering Camelot. 

Genres: Young Adult, Retellings, Fantasy

Publication Date: November 10, 2015

Series: Le Fay (book 2)

My Rating: 5 stars

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

I loved the first book in the Le Fay series. Dearly. It's still one of my favorite indie books of all time--BUT I think Sword was even better. Yes, you read that right, better. No second book slump whatsoever, which is pretty rare. The characters, plot, the various emotions...everything was just beautiful.

I enjoyed reading about Morgan in the first book mostly because she was such an intriguing character. That intrigue continues in Storm, but more so. The book really delves into her mental state; there's a lot of focus on her emotions, which I loved but at times I could not stand because I just wanted her to be okay is that too much to ask. (That goes to show how emotionally invested in this series I am, so not necessarily a bad thing.) There are some shocking reveals about her past in this book, which I did not see coming at all. These reveals really added to her relationship with Prince Arthur.

Prince Arthur was a character I had no real feelings for in Henge, mostly because he was not shown very often. That changes in Storm, and I ended up really loving him. He's a very complicated character; not spoiled like he originally seems to be, but instead a very damaged kid. He and Morgan have a complicated, yet endearing, relationship. The way this plays into his personality is very interesting to see, and it adds a bit of ambiguity to how his character will turn out in the next book.

Merlin...I cannot describe how I feel about Merlin. He summons up a well of mixed emotions in me. I can't really say I want Morgan and him to end up together--I think their relationship has become a bit too complicated and borderline-toxic for that to happen, so sorry to anyone who ships them but I am rooting against that. However, despite my reservations on that end, I really do like reading about him, because he's not a black-or-white character. Sometimes I will hate him and sometimes I will feel extremely sorry for him. My feelings for him have not really changed since the last book.

BUT...LANCELOT. LANCELOT IS NOW ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS AND I SHIP HIM AND MORGAN I SHIP IT SO HARD. I thought he was a bit boring in Henge, but seeing him care for Morgan and be so tender to her really awakened my feelings for him. He is a precious person, and I want him and Morgan to be happy forever together.

The plot was fantastically executed. There were some very tense moments; up until the very end, I was not sure how the book would end. (Spoiler, highlight to see) Even though I knew there was another book after this one, I was 90% convinced at one point that Morgan was going to die. That seems stupid to write in hindsight, but the author was very good at keeping me guessing. (end spoiler) In most second-books-in-a-series, the plot kind of drags--it's more of a bridge from the first book to the second book than its own entity. In Sword, the book wastes no time; there is action right from the start, and even when the book slows down a bit, there are revelations and emotionally-packed scenes that kept me interested.

I cannot wait to finish the rest of the Le Fay series. If the next book is as good as this one, I know I will love it. Even if you have never read the Arthurian legends--or, like me, you read them when you were eight, thought they were dumb, and subsequently forgot most of the story--I guarantee you will still be able to love these wonderful, wonderful books.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani


By Intisar Khanani

Blurb: The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: June 17, 2013

Pages: 142

Series: The Sunbolt Chronicles

My Rating: 2 stars

I have read and loved other books by this author, so I was really surprised when I finished Sunbolt and was not fangirling over it. The problems I had with it were numerous;

First off, it's shorter than I would have expected. The longer the fantasy book is, the better, in my opinion, because there's a lot of ground that needs to be covered in a fantasy novel. It needs to create a new world within its pages, and to do that sometimes you need length. There was not length here, and the world suffered because of that. It wasn't a cheaply created setting--on the contrary, there are some new things in here that I've never read about before. It just needs some more depth in it to make it seem real to me.

The second thing is the fact that the plot flowed choppily. In my opinion, the story had evolved drastically from what it was at the beginning to what it was at the end. It was like there were two different plots, in a way. I didn't necessarily like it.

The characters were alright. I didn't have any significant qualms with Hitomi; however, she failed to really stand out to me. I'm having trouble remembering any traits I really loved in her. She did her job as a main character, but she didn't do an outstanding job.

I have no plans to continue the Sunbolt Chronicles at this time. It was kind of forgettable, with all its flaws. Sunbolt didn't meet the expectations that I had for it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolan

The Ark

By Laura Liddell Nolen

Blurb: There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.
It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.
If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .
Genres: Young Adult Dystopian
Publication Date: March 26, 2015
Series: N/A at this point
Pages: 239
My Rating: 2 stars
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Ark was one of those books that I definitely would have enjoyed if I had read it earlier. By that, I mean, if I hadn't read so many dystopian novels that they all begin, at this point, to blend together, unless the premise is something that I haven't read before.

The Ark is something I have read before, however. The 100 has a premise somewhat like it. So do a few lesser known Dystopians, mostly indies, that I read very early after starting YA. So, I can't say it really stood out to me, and that definitely hurt it. Plus, it just has some of the formula that is getting re-used and re-used in YA, so that didn't hurt the cause.

I thought that I might like Char. She doesn't seem, at first glance, to be the typical YA heroine. She isn't, really. She's the typical dystopian heroine. 

What I mean by that is; her life sucks majorly. It keeps on sucking. And her attitude about the suckishness that is her life is the same as most Dystopian heroines; she's rather pessimistic, at the beginning, there's not *much* emotion in her at all, she's independent...I know, I know. These don't seem like bad traits, necessarily. But when every single heroine in Dystopian seems to have them...I get peeved. 

The plot was predictable at times, for the most part. I mean, there were one or two things that I didn't see coming, but come on. You know that Char is going to have to make it on the Ark, so there goes that suspense. You know which characters are going to be love interests and you know that the story probably won't end happily BECAUSE THIS IS DYSTOPIAN ONLY THE LAST TEN PAGES OF THE LAST BOOK IN THE SERIES ARE EVER HAPPY. 

I think, also, that part of the reason I didn't *love* this was because of me, and solely me. It is just really dark at times AND I COULDN'T TAKE IT. The book mentions babies on Earth that don't get on the Arks, and then pages later, Char sees the whole planet die. Dead children tend to be the trigger for when books start to enter the truly dark territory for me, and usually, in Dystopian, I am able to block it out, but when it gets mentioned in such a blatant, not-skirted-around way, I have trouble. And that was one of these times. 

Of course, there were moments I liked. Isaiah and Char's relationship is definitely interesting to read about, albeit a bit...unhealthy. Isaiah was a very fleshed out character; just when I loved him I hated him and just when I hated him...I loved him then hated him again. The other boy in this book, Eren, is nowhere half as interesting as Isaiah. In fact he's kind of basic. I don't have much to say about Eren other than that. Basic just about sums him up.

I'm going to take a break from Dystopian for a little bit because I think I've kind of gotten swamped by this genre. The Ark definitely suffered from this. A lot of the complaints I had with it were "I've read this before" rather than it flat-out sucking. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

The Heartbreakers

By Ali Novak

Blurb: "When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. Unbeknownst to him, I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Stella will do anything for her sister—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD... for three hours. At least she met a cute boy at the Starbucks beforehand. A blue-eyed boy who looks an awful lot like...

Oliver Perry. Of course Starbucks guy is the lead singer for her least favorite band. Thanks, universe. But there may be more to Oliver than his world-famous charm, because even after she insults his music—to his face—he still gives her his number. Seriously, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver—dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band—when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Genres: Young Adult Romance

Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Series: N/A

Pages: 336

My Rating: 1 star

This is one of the most unrealistic books I have ever in my life read. It is so improbable. There were some cute moments, but they were drowned out by the fact that these cute moments have about a 0.001% (I am going to be optimistic here) percent chance of happening.

First off, how Stella meets Oliver Perry twice within such a short span of time without actually trying is beyond me. I couldn't even find a celebrity if I tried. Let alone twice...and we won't even mention the fact that both times she was actually able to have a normal conversation with them. Well...I'm bending the definition of normal when it comes to their second conversation. On that note, let's get on to the second point.

WHO YELLS AT POPSTARS IN AN ELEVATOR JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE THEIR MUSIC?? Psychos. And snobs. Notice that I haven't listed 'girlfriend material' on this list. Because if this happens, GET AWAY FROM THE CRAZY PERSON. Don't date them.

OR LET THEM IN YOUR HOTEL ROOM MINUTES LATER!!! I swear, where is their sensibility? Actually, forget sensibility, where is their security? If the girl who had just gotten done yelling at you in an elevator came up to your hotel room and wanted to talk to you...would you let them in? Especially when you're famous and there is a possibility they are psycho?

And then they have a nice fun session in the pool and such. At this point I was beyond skeptical. It was at this time that I realized that the Heartbreakers are, in this literary world, the most laid back and stupid boy band to ever grace the music industry.

Stella...she is definitely a wattpad heroine. She's plain. She's boring, as a character, but there's like one redeeming feature about her that's supposed to make her 'different' from those other girls. (In this case, she likes photography. She doesn't sound all that great at it, so how she impresses everyone is beyond me.) Everyone always has to tell her how great she is because she, herself, has absolutely no clue. Stella was pretty awful to read about.

I actually liked Oliver in a way, though I still think he is a piss-poor example of what any normal pop star would do when presented with the series of events that happen in this book. He's nice, and troubled, but not in a creepy way, but in a 'I want to help you poor baby' way, and welllll....he's kind of hot.

The Heartbreakers should have ended with Stella being carried out by security. It should not have been a romance. I rest my case. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

The Last Good Day of the Year

By Jessica Warman

Blurb: A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author of Between.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

Genres: Young Adult Thriller, Mystery

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Pages: 278

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4.5 stars

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

Wow. This is by far, one of the most realistic, emotional 'thrillers' I've ever read. It's much more just simply a tragic story then an actual thriller, though the mystery is definitely intriguing. This is all over just simply a good book.

This tells the story of the aftermath of a child abduction. Not the immediate aftermath, but the long-term, ten years ago aftermath, which really isn't focused on as much in many books dealing with the topic (in my opinion). Sam's sister Turtle was stolen on New Year's, never to be found. This is the story of how the family learns to cope, just as much as figuring out what really happened that night.

And let me tell you, it's emotional. My throat was so sore after reading this because I had such a big lump in it nearly the whole time. I'm actually kind of tearing up just thinking about it, because I could not imagine this happening to one of my siblings. I would just die. It's really realistically portrayed, which means it is sometimes difficult to read.

This family is definitely still grieving, though there are times when it is not as apparent. What's worse, Sam is beginning to question what happened that night, and the answers she's getting aren't what she would want. This mystery was So. Good. I was on the edge of my seat; the empathy I felt for these characters only amplified my desire to figure out what actually happened. It's wild, guys. I did not see it coming at all. There were about five trillion plot twists near the end, and my eyes just got wider and wider with each one.

My favorite part of the book was the discussion between Sam and Noah about their sisters. It's so shocking and not what you ever really would expect when reading about abduction, but that's what I love about it. It's so raw and authentic.

Let me tell you, this ending is just...I love it, but it's so freaking CRUEL, because it begs for a sequel that I'm not sure is coming. I have a feeling this book will just be one of those horrifyingly awful yet wonderful cliffhangers, torturing me with its desire to get resolved. Seriously. A bomb got dropped on me and then the book literally ended. Not one more sentence. Not one more word. I was so pissed.

This book was great. It blended emotion with mystery perfectly to make this beautiful book, one where I have never nor probably will ever read something like it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Not Every Girl by Jane McGarry

Not Every Girl

Release Date: 04/27/15

Clean Reads

275 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Olivia Davenport’s plan is destined to fail.

She is going through with it anyway, of course. After all, it is the chance of a lifetime. The unreasonable rules of others should not stand in her way.

In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. He has indulged her passion so far, but they both know a simple fact – girls may not attain knighthood. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, she makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself as a boy in order to sneak on a mission. The consequences are not at all what she anticipated.

When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace; however, an unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, yet these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional. 

Buy Links:

My Rating: 3 stars

Not Every Girl was one of those books I know I would have absolutely adored if it was not for just one simple element; insta-love. As soon as that came into play, I had a hard time enjoying it as much as I know I could have.  

The book follows a girl named Olivia, who wants to be a knight, but can't for the simple reason that she is a girl.  I know that Olivia should have been a character I loved, definitely had potential to be at the beginning. She is headstrong, she hates the disadvantages she has just because of her gender, and she has a pretty good head on her shoulders. All things I tend to like in my protagonists. The one thing is...the insta-love. Olivia herself calls it love at first sight. As soon as this happened, it was harder for me to relate to her, because this just seemed a bit improbable to me.

Then there's Liam. He's at first glance a rude, brooding prince, but there's another side to him. I did like Liam; he was sweet and I was definitely a fan of the way he treated Olivia. The one complaint that I would have with him is that he went from having one personality to having another pretty quickly. Though there was an explanation for it, I still found it a bit strange. 

Of course, I did not like the romance very much. The fun of reading romance is the people actually falling in love, realizing that they care about each other, discovering new things about each other that make them fall a little deeper. And I just didn't get that here. What happened was that Olivia hung out with Liam, found out she wasn't a jerk, and then decided that she loved him. I felt cheated.

The plot was fun; I really liked reading about Olivia's schemes, and about how they set out to rescue the King and her father. Athos reminded me a lot of Robin Hood, and I enjoyed the element that he added to the story. Seeing Olivia prove everyone wrong, that even though she was a girl she was still valuable as a squire, made me proud.

Not Every Girl was entertaining, but it would have been more so without the whirlwind romantic feelings. I would have liked more of a slow burn on the romance. Other than that, I don't have many qualms with this book.

About the Author

Reading was always a big part of my life. Creating my own stories developed out of this love. Finally, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel and that was when Not Every Girl was conceived.

I live in New Jersey with my husband, two sons and an extremely spoiled cat. When I am not running around with my family or writing, I can be found curled up with a good book and said cat. It is my belief that a good book, a loyal pet and anything made of chocolate can brighten just about any day.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally
(Hundred Oaks)
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: July 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Practice Makes Perfect.
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.
But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?


My Rating: 3 stars

This was my first Miranda Kenneally book ever. I've heard great things about each story she has written, so needless to say I was pumped for this. It was...different than I expected. I liked it, but not as much as I was expecting to.

The good things first; I loved reading about Maya's music journey. Overcoming her stage fright, overcoming rejection from her band (seriously, what jerks) and just following her dreams was really inspiring and I was definitely rooting for her. 

Secondly, reading about why Jesse was all prickly and rude at the start--because, trust me, he is--was a big eye-opener and really made me warm up to him. At first I wasn't sure I could get behind this romance at all because I started off not liking him, but his demeanor made sense once I got the backstory.
I loved that there were references to songs with the titles of the chapters. It's such a small thing to love, but I loved it nonetheless. Mainly because one of the songs was Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver and I LOVE THAT SONG.

The romance didn't fill me with feels like I was expecting it to. I never got a shipping sort of feeling from the relationship, which was the big reason I ended up only giving this romance three stars. Because, as good as the rest of the plot was, at the end of the day, contemporary romance should fill me with happy giggles because everything is just so perfect and I didn't get that vibe from Jesse's Girl. It's not that the chemistry was mysteriously off; I can actually see a lot of people clicking with this couple because they do have some good chemistry--the chemistry just wasn't registering with me. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the main point of the start of the romance is when Maya is shadowing Jesse, and I thought that she went from not liking him all that much to really starting to like him pretty quickly. 

I think fans of the previous books in the series will enjoy this book, especially because there are apparently references to other couples in the series. I liked it, but I didn't love it like I wanted to.

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Author links:

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