Review: Cold Shadows by J.L. Bryan

Posted September 25, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  Cold Shadows by J.L. BryanCold Shadows by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #2
Published by Createspace on October 29th 2014
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 178
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Footsteps in the attic. Toys that play by themselves. A dark presence in an upstairs room. Paranormal investigator Ellie Jordan faces a difficult new case. Her new clients are a family haunted by multiple ghosts and a poltergeist that wrecks their home at night. Their seven-year-old son's invisible friends may not be imaginary at all, but the restless spirits of dead children. To clear her clients' house of the dangerous entities, Ellie must unravel the mysterious deaths of another family who lived in the old mansion more than a hundred and sixty years ago-and she must do it before the ghosts can carry out their malevolent designs on her clients and their children.

I cannot believe it took me nearly a year to finish Cold Shadows, but once I had the time to pick it up again, I found that I had a really hard time putting it down. It doesn’t help that I can only read this book dead in the middle of the night, because J.L. Bryan weaves a story so realistically creepy, it really brought a chill up my spine.

Stacy and Ellie are back at it again and this time the ghosts are far more dangerous and terrifying. Upon investigating their new clients house, they run into restless ghosts of dead children and malevolent entities that are out to harm the family living in the house. As Ellie and Stacy unravel the mystery behind the death of the family who once lived there, the haunting spirals into a very dangerous territory that leaves them running low on time.

Adored this book so much.. Bryan really knows how to tell a realistic ghost story with an interesting background that just hooks you from the start. It’s extremely engrossing and I for one have a hard time untangling myself into the real world. I love everything about the writing and the way the story and the characters progress.

Ellie is a great character, with a lot of heart. She really cares about her friends, but due to a very complicated past and her very dangerous job, she has a really hard time letting people in. She is also quirky, as well as Stacy which creates really fun banter between them that leaves a smile on my face. I love the connection between them, they feed off each other as friends so well and I believe Ellie really needs that in her life.

I cannot wait to see what Bryan has in store for these two. This has easily become one of my all time favorite series. Did I mention that I truly enjoy learning the history behind the haunting? I think it’s so fascinating and so well thought out and put together that it just delivers a really good ghost story. Bryan did not hold back with this one, the haunting was sinister, it was so creepy that any fan of ghost stories should really give this series a shot.

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Review: The Isle by Jordana Frankel

Posted January 24, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review:  The Isle by Jordana FrankelThe Isle (The Ward, #2) by Jordana Frankel
Series: The Ward #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 19th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The heart-racing and thrilling sequel to The Ward about a teenage female drag racer who will do anything to save her sister—and a flooded futuristic Manhattan.
Drought season is coming....
The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.
Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.
The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.
But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the Tètai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city.

The Isle

It feels like forever since the first book came out, but imagine my joy when I finally saw the announcement of the sequel that it felt like I have been waiting for forever for. I almost wished I re-read the first book to brush up on what it left off because The Isle starts shortly after the events of the first and when it takes off, it really takes off.

I found the second book of the series to be pretty faced paced, because before I knew it, I have devoured it in no time. It sets the tone from page one, and it pretty much for the most part, sticks to it.

I warmed up to Ren a bit more. She is still pretty reckless, but I admired her dedication to the people she loves and cares for as well as the lengths she would go to keep them safe, even if the price is her own safety most of the time. I loved the sibling relationship that is going on between Aven and Ren, how true to form it is. This book also happens to be from the point of view of Aven and Ren together, but it was easy to follow.

The romance does take a bit of a back seat in this book, but that’s okay, I did not mind it much. Do I wish there was more? Of course I do, I always do. But, I enjoyed continue to watch Ren develop into the person she becomes at the end of the book. I enjoyed the action and the adventure, and it felt a bit final, so I am guessing this was only meant to be a duology. Sure, there were still moments that made me angry, but the tear jerking moments, and some heartwarming scenes, definitely balances the book out.

I did have a hard time with Aven at some parts. She did remind me a bit of Ren from the last book. A bit reckless, and a total kid when it comes to not getting things her way. To be fair, I believe Aven is 14 in this book, so for the most part, it makes sense. She let her feelings sway her, she made promises she probably couldn’t really keep, and she endangered Ren because of these promises. I can’t say that I didn’t want to throttle her when she asked Ren to save the people when she knew the mission is dangerous, it was like expecting your sister to give up her life for others, it just didn’t seem fair to me.

Overall, I did enjoy this one. I wished it came out quicker than it did, it seemed like a long time to wait for this sequel. I did find it worth it. I enjoyed the authors writing, imagination and the world she had created with this series. I will miss it, but I am looking forward to what else she has in store for us next.

Giveaway:
3 Finished copies of THE ISLE
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

1/11: Night Owl Book Cafe – Review

1/12: Swoony Boys Podcast – Q&A

1/13: Live To Read – Review

1/14: Seeing Double In Neverland – Top 10

1/15: Take Me Away To A Great Read – Review
Week 2

1/18: The Cover Contessa – Review

1/19: The Irish Banana Review – Guest Post

1/20: Reads All the Books – Review

1/21: A Leisure Moment – Guest Post
1/22: Emily Reads Everything – Review

This review was originally posted on Night Owl Book Café

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Review: Strange Girl by Christopher Pike

Posted December 14, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  Strange Girl by Christopher PikeStrange Girl by Christopher Pike
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon Pulse on November 17th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 413
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From the moment Fred meets Aja, he knows she’s different. She’s pretty, soft-spoken, shy—yet seems to radiate an unusual peace. Fred quickly finds himself falling in love with her.
Then strange things begin to happen around Aja. A riot breaks out that Aja is able to stop by merely speaking a few words. A friend of Fred’s suffers a serious head injury and has a miraculous recovery.
Yet Aja swears she has done nothing.
Unfortunately, Fred is not the only one who notices Aja’s unique gifts. As more and more people begin to question who Aja is and what she can do, she’s soon in grave danger. Because none of them truly understands the source of Aja’s precious abilities—or their devastating cost.
Love Aja or hate her—you will never forget her.
In Strange Girl, number-one bestselling author Christopher Pike has created the rarest of novels—a love story that swings between a heart-pounding mystery and a stirring mystical journey.

I have to admit, from the moment I read the blurb, I was sold on this book. A girl with special abilities that carry an unimaginable cost? Yes, please.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I was so hooked on the blurb I couldn’t wait to read it, but it ultimately fell a little short for me.

I want to talk first about what I liked about the book. I really liked that it felt like it was written as a sort of memoir told of the events of Fred’s life and how he met the mysterious girl named Aja. I really loved the way it reads. The idea behind the story was interesting enough, just I guess not what I expected and honestly I liked Aja more than I liked Fred.

There was romance in the story, but it did nothing for me. Honestly, it was kind of meh. Maybe it was because I honest to goodness disliked Fred. I did not like his attitude, I did not like some of the things he said or thought about Aja and overall I just did not love his character. I just could not connect on the romance, it was sudden, it was odd, and overall a bit boring.

The plot was interesting, but I felt like there was a dig at religion in a way. This is a YA novel I felt like that could have been left out of it.

The story progressed quickly, characters offered up the info quickly. Fred was annoying and boring, and flew off the handle way too easily. Honestly, I felt like the author was bored with his own writing because the twist that was added at the end felt out of place and so random my head was spinning. (Also, someone watches too many action movies – cough)

There was an interesting take on people being selfish and greedy, especially in the end and what it cost. I wanted to throttle the character for asking Aja for what she did, I did not think it was fair, it was greedy, and I guess a bit part of the human nature.

I wanted to love this book, I did and I tried, but it just fell quite a bit short with me. I did give it three stars because I did enjoy it, to an extent. Just some things did not work for me

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Review: The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah Fine

Posted December 8, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah FineThe Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.
But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.
Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between her love for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must choose the right side before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I think I am in love with Sarah Fine’s writing and I have Ali @ My Guilty Obsession  to thank for that. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine ended up being a buddy read with Ali, to whom I am thankful for introducing me to Fine’s writing.

I loved The Impostor Queen, a well crafted story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Elli who is a Saadela and the next in line to take over when the Valtia of the Kupari passes and leaves her magic to be passed on to the Saadela. When Elli’s Valtia suffers a terrible tragedy and the young girl ends up witnessing the horrid moment of her Valtia’s final breath, the Elders blame Elli for rejecting the magic when it does not enter her. With a help of her handmaiden, Mim, Elli escapes the temple and the cruel fate that awaits her and disappears beyond the village walls where she is rescued by a boy named Oskar.

Now Elli is living among the very people the Elder’s have been trying to force out of the mines, while trying to learn about her own ability that she is asked to keep a secret by the mysterious old healer.

I won’t lie. The story started out kind of slow, but this is a high fantasy, and it is kind of expected. When the story finally picked up, and boy did it pick up, not only was it impossible to put down but I found myself wanting to savor it. I admit, I was a little disappointed and sad that the book has ended. I went through a book withdrawal and it’s been a long while since any book has caused such a reaction out of me.

Fine’s writing is brilliant, her imagination runs wild in the beautifully crafted magical world. I love that there are two forces that make up the magic, fire and ice, and how the two effect the Valtia as well as the magic wielders.

The plot itself was amazing and interesting. It had me so hooked, I wanted and needed to know how it was all going to turn out, what was going to happen next and how Fine was going to leave us at the end of the book. I was so glad to learn that this is part of the series, though as of right now Goodreads lists the series as the Untitled. I also loved that the ending did NOT feel like a cliffhanger.

Let’s talk about Elli for a second. Elli lived a sheltered life in the temple because she was being molded to do what the Elder’s wanted her to do. The only knowledge she really had about anything was what the Elder’s wanted to tell her, so she comes off very naive. Boy does she learns her lessons quickly when she is forced out of the shelter of the home she knew forever and onto the streets and into the winter cold. I really enjoyed watching Elli develop as a character. Her struggles when she is brought to the camp are real. The fact that she suffers a physical “disfiguration” maker her character appear flawed, but at the same time very human.

Though the book is listed under glbt genre under Goodreads, and does have references to it (Elli’s love for her handmaiden) the book mainly follows the romance between a boy and a girl.

Oskar was amazing. Brownie points to him for taking Elli in. Their meeting in an unusual circumstance ended up being quite entertaining. I loved their interaction and the slow simmering romance that had me holding my breath more than once.

The world-building in this book was remarkable, original and very interesting. It is one of those fantasy novels that you cannot help but fall in love with everything, the writing, the world-building, the well fleshed out characters, it just keeps you wanting more. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I cannot wait to see where this story goes from here, because the ending totally blew me away.

If you enjoy a high fantasy novel with an incredible world, with talented writing, what are you waiting for? I strongly recommend this book

 

 

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Review: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Posted November 15, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  Dangerous Lies by Becca FitzpatrickDangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Stella Gordon’s life is a lie.
She does not belong in Thunder Basin, Nebraska. As the star witness in a murder trial against a drug dealer, Stella is now in the Witness Protection Program. The small-town locals can never know who she really is. Not even Chet Falconer, the one boy who makes her want to reveal her true self. She knows that telling the truth will only bring violence to this safe haven.
Despite how hard Stella tries to stay under the radar, danger is fast approaching. Criminals have a way of getting rid of witnesses, and Stella may have made the one mistake that could lead the cold-blooded men hunting for her right to her doorstep.

Estella Goodwinn has witnessed a terrible crime and upon agreeing to testify against the man who is sitting in jail, she must enter the witness protection program in order to keep her from the dangerous crime world the man is involved with. Because Danny Balando is pissed, and his connections in the cartel will want to find the girl who tossed him in jail.

I am completely stunned by this book, Becca Fitzpatrick really blew this one out of the water for me. She took the main character, made her utterly unlikable and through careful character development and growth, swiftly changed how I felt about Stella. At the beginning I wanted to grow at how inconsiderate and ungrateful Stella was. These people were putting their lives on the line to protect her and kept hitting the wall of snob that this character came built with. I wanted to throttle her. I literally put the book down for a few days because I was so angry at how she was handling her situation. After calming down, I plowed on, because despite my utter hate for Stella’s character, Becca Fitzpatrick’s writing was absolute perfection. Her way with words really knows how to pull you in, and her talent for writing really shines through the book. Once I was engrossed and trapped, I could NOT put this book down.

Mystery, secrets, lies and the mix characters of Thunder Basin, Nebraska made this book a real page turner. I loved seeing Stella grow and develop as a character. I love seeing her shed her jaded ways and accept Thunder Basin for what it was and the people surrounding her as friends. I also came to admire her as a character. In the end, I saw her for what she was, at the beginning a scared and lost girl who lashed out at everyone because she was losing her identity and growing into a strong and remarkable woman. I was glad to see her refuse at being pushed around when she ran into her troubles with Trigger and proud that she took action instead of letting the guy get away with everything he was getting away with, just because of who he was to the town.

I admired the way she treated the character’s close to her, including Inny and Chet. The growth of trust and relationship building between her and Carmina, the woman who took her under her wings when she entered the protection program.

There was just so much going on, never really a dull moment. The secrets and lies Stella told really were taking a toll on her and made her question her morals.

Learning about Carmina’s past, really made you feel for the character. It’s devastating, it’s poignantly sad and it touched my emotions on so many levels. It left me a bit startled that after everything she went through, she wasn’t a more jaded character.

The romance in this was slow-burn and I loved it. I was so glad because it was such a refreshing change from all the recent insta-love. Because of Stella’s previous relationship that she had to leave behind, and all the lies she has to keep secret, her and Chet’s relationship starts as friendship that very slowly blooms into something more. It was believable and fantastic because I totally adored Chet. He has his own share of demons in the closet, things in the past that he has to live with because a part of the town does not seem to want to let him forget. He is such a strong, moral character with a heart of gold. The way he felt he needed to take care of his brother was both as heart breaking as respectable. The ending only made me love him ever more.

Chet was a good guy – a great guy. He didn’t deserve the deception and heartache that would come from getting involved with me.

 

Despite Stella’s mother being a sorry excuse for a human being and bringing all this trouble coming down on top of her daughter’s head, there was still a strong sense of family in this book, especially when Carmina and Stella started to form a deeper bond. The care was obviously there, especially a moment that moved the bonds of their relationship and made it stronger.

Another part wanted to hug her. Maybe even shed tears of gratitude. She had my back. I wasn’t alone.

 

I didn’t like Stella’s mother’s character, she was a junkie who Stella as a minor ends up taking care of because the drug addiction and depression was so strong she could not function as a normal mom.

A glimpse of blue sky, a singing bird on the windowsill. Or, in my case, not having the weight of caring for my mom dragging me under. What if Thunder Basin was my chance to come up for air?

 

I think the only reason I did not give this book 5 stars is because everything happened in the end so quickly, all the actions and the sense of forbodding that was happening in this book exploded and wrapped up rather quickly. I was also confused with what happened to Reed, the author never really touched on that in the wrap up.

Outside of that. I really enjoyed the masterfully writing that kept me turning the pages late into the night. Even if it did give me a couple of black circles under my eyes, it was totally well worth it. I adored it all and can’t wait to see what Fitzpatrick has in store for me next.

I leaned my back against the wall and shut my eyes. I rested a hand on the windowsill and let the cool air wash over my clammy skin. I breathed deeply, trying to plant my feet solidly in Thunder Basin.


images

My problems receded into the shadows and life seemed simple again. I felt cool, sweet relief. Tonight Thunder Basin didn’t feel like a prison. It felt like a set of open doors at the end of a long, painful road, beckoning me closer.


out 007
This review was originally posted on Night Owl Book Café

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Review: Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Posted February 16, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review:  Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan MeissnerSecrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Series: Stand-alone
Published by NAL on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 386
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…

The moment I saw that Susan Meissner wrote another book, I knew I had to have it. Last time I read one of her books I fell completely in love with her elegant writing and storytelling and found myself falling in love all over again. She is one of many authors that keep my interest with historical fiction alive and why I keep coming back to this genre over and over again.

The story mostly follows a 15-year-old girl Emmy Downtree, her story told by Isabel McFarland when a young scholar comes to interview the elderly woman in hopes of learning some secrets about the war. Emmy has big dreams, and all she really wants is to find love and acceptance from her mother, for her to be proud of Emmy. She loves to draw wedding dresses, so when she get’s a job at a wedding dress shop, it feels like a dream come true. When her boss informs her that she knows a man who is willing to look at Emmy’s brides and could offer her an apprenticeship, Emmy can’t believe her luck. Luck, that unfortunately soon starts to run out. When the war escalates, Emmy’s mother signs both of Emmy and her half-sister Julia to evacuate London and find refuge in the country side. What happens next changes both of the girl’s life forever…

Such an emotional, riveting tale about love, lose, hope and perseverance. I found myself glued to page after page, immersed in the fantastic storytelling by Meissner. Emmy was just a young girl who thought she was doing the right thing, who just wanted to make her dream come true. In turn she watched her entire world crumble into pieces when the blitz hit and she found herself losing everything that has ever been important to her. I don’t want to dig into the story as much as I want to talk about it more with a fear of revealing a little too much. I did find myself irritated by Emmy’s reckless behavior, I found it selfish and one-sided, but I understood that she was just a young girl who was looking to make her mother proud. In hopes that Emmy would never feel like she had ruined her mother’s life, she wanted to show her that she could do something good with hers.

I found myself in tears by the end of the book. Everything that left me with questions midway through did get answered at the end of the book. Luckily there was closure, or else I am not sure how I would have done without it. I wanted to know what became of Emmy and how she coped with the hand that was dealt to her. How she managed to get through with losing so much in so little time. Her tenacity and ambition to make things right were inspiring, so was the fact that she had a hard time giving up. The 15-year-old girl had to grow up fast during the blitz and become a strong and independent woman.

I could have just hugged this book after reading it. Enjoyed it immensely, glad I gave it a shot and hope to see more from Susan Meissner soon.

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