Icon Tag: ARC

Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted February 26, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn SparksHow to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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.

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.
Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?
If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

It’s really tough to write bad reviews. Especially bad reviews on books that I end up feeling like the only black sheep.

I picked up How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days because so many of my friends loved it, and I went into the book with a lot of excitement.

It started out great, with an interesting premise, an interesting beginning of the world – but ultimately faltered by half way.

There are a few things I really dislike in my books and it’s like this one hit each one with a nail on the head.

1. Insta-love – The characters fall in love almost right away. She was drawn to him by just seeing him and was already claiming love after only talking to him twice? Five days in, two conversations later and the poor girl Luciana couldn’t live without Leo. She was so terribly in love with the man of her dreams, who happened to be the man she was being forced to marry.

2. Rapid Fire Writing – what else would you call this? umm… Hectic writing? I don’t know how to explain this, but it’s when things happen so quickly and so much at a time it makes your head spin, but things also get resolved within a first few paragraphs and we move on to more really quick scenes, you know what I mean? I hate that. I feel like the author was trying to smash together too many things into one book and it kind of ended up a big giant mess. First, she didn’t have to put so many things in one book. Second, I felt like it left the book with no detail nor substance.

3. Too much drama – seriously, especially near the end. There were just one too many things happening and so quickly, it probably would have been better if one or two big things happened. I felt like I was reading a movie on rewind or cliff notes. A lot of drama was happening in the end there and it was getting resolved so super quickly that my brain was hurting.

4. Plot – Okay this wasn’t all that bad, but I had some issues. First, Luciana is being forced to marry in place of her twin dead sister because if she doesn’t – her father dies. She accepted her faith, way too easily. Next, she must pretend to be her sister Tatiana, and she ends up being really horrible about it because her sister was a complete opposite. People are suppose to believe that she is one in the same person. The two girls grew up in two different places, so even if they were identical (I am assuming?) there would probably be some differences due to their environment and not enough time had passed between the death and Luciana assuming the role that would make up for these discrepancies. Also, I did not expect the book to resolve the problem with the king as fast as it did. I expected this to be ongoing in the series.

5. World Building –  I was really, really, excited about the world at first. There are many different kingdoms and they are at war…but.. why? I wasn’t 100% sure why they kept attacking each other. Maybe I accidentally glazed over that part. There were different regents of the world, but not much is known about any of them, with the exception that the main land does not tolerate the embraced – yet multiple characters are without consequences. I felt the book would be stronger if there was more focus a bit more on world building. I get it, it’s just a paranormal romance so technically there isn’t a need for complete world building. But, since this is also a fantasy, it really would have benefited from more building.

Overall, I was really excited. I came prepared to love it and really wanted a solid paranormal (fantasy?) . Instead, I found myself rather disappointed. It didn’t help that Luciana was the most awkward virgin ever and the love scene made me cringe hard.

I think my favorite part was Brody and the dragon scene. A bit disappointed there wasn’t more of it. Instead, most of the story focused on finding assassins or assassination attacks and just, blah..

And this is just a mild annoyance, but the male lead had a head full of red hair… the cover model, doesn’t.

Now this totally could just be a me kind of thing and not the book, but for me, there was just too many things that I am not a complete fan of when it comes to books. I will probably give this author another chance as I keep hearing wonderful things about her other series.

Rating Report
Plot
2.5 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
2 Stars
Pacing
2 Stars
Cover
2 Stars
Overall: 2 Stars

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Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted February 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam RiveraThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Series: Standalone
Published by Simon & Schuster on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 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.

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social lifePapi, for allowing Junior to become a NeanderthalJunior, for becoming a NeanderthalThis supermarketEveryone else
After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

When I got a copy of The Education of Margot Sanchez, I was extremely excited. A diverse book that takes place in the Bronx, being from New York City myself, yes please?

I went in with high hopes, I walked away strongly disappointed.

Margot and I started off on the wrong foot of the bat. The character was superficial, selfish and walked around with rose colored glasses on. After “borrowing” (stealing) around $600 from her father’s credit card on new clothes – Margot a.k.a Princesa is forced to work at her father’s supermarket. It’s the last way she wants to spend her summer, as Margot would much rather spend her days on the beach in the Hamptons swooning over a boy named Nick. But, on her first day on the job she meets a Latino boy named Moises. Moises is an activist in the Bronx with a sketchy past who has managed to reform himself.

I wanted to love this I really did, but there were several problems I had with this book.

1. Junior – Junior is Margot big brother who basically got kicked out of college. Junior is an angry person who treats Margot like crap. Apparently that wasn’t always the case as Margot explains that Junior was once a sweet and caring brother and she doesn’t know what happened to him and thinks much of his anger is aimed at something she did. I thought that as well, as it felt hinted through the story – unfortunately the big reveal wasn’t surprising but why was never really explained. I wanted to know what drove Junior to take up with the people he did and why he got into so much trouble.

2. Margot – I did not like Margot from the beginning and that feeling never changed. She was suppose to grow as a character, but none of that happened till like 5% left over in the book. Even after everything she went through, she still ends up pulling this horrible stunt that sends a lot of things into motion. Margot disrespects her parents, ditches people who are her actual friends, obsessed over some boy, and is friends with two girls who are really bad influence. She can’t be real around them, so she pretends to be something she is not. She is completely thick when it comes to what is going on around him at home and at the story as well.

3. The dreaded love triangle – don’t hold your breath, the romance in this book was completely horrid. First, the two boys have no personalities, what so ever. We see them so little and get very little feel for them all together. I didn’t like the romance and I especially did not like the events at the beach in the Hampton’s between Nick and Margot. It was reckless, did not make complete sense and it was kind of left unresolved. I didn’t believe that it didn’t effect her in any way.

4. The parents – They kept claiming they raised Margot to be better than she is, they could have taken their own lesson from that. I didn’t like the parents in this story. Did it feel real? Maybe, but maybe there needed to be more background. We don’t know why Margot’s father did what he did, there wasn’t much explanation behind his actions and everything ends with an open ending…which brings me to point number 5.

5. Open ending – the ending just wrapped up kind of weird, kind of open. We don’t get to find out what happens between Margot and Moises. We don’t get to find out if she has ever dealt with what happened between her and Nick. Not with what happens between her parents and not even as how they were going to go and save the store. If there was some sort of a message the author was trying to send with this book, I felt like it completely missed the mark.

The writing was fast paced, so I kind of enjoyed it. Made it easier to get through the book. Overall, the authors writing is actually pretty good. It’s the execution of the plot, underdevelopment of characters that was it’s ultimate demise.

Rating Report
Plot
2 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
3.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
3 Stars
Overall: 2.5 Stars

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Posted February 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Series: Standalone
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

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.

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

A story about a seventeen year old girl named Norah and her take on living with agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety.

This was interesting. As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books featuring mental health, I jumped into this unsure what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to read a book from Norah’s point of view. Under Rose-Tainted Skies takes us for quite a ride when we enter Norah’s head and get a taste of what it is to experience everything she is going through, and at times it wasn’t pretty.

Gornall’s debut novel was well written. It wasn’t suppose to be pretty, and we get to know Norah pretty personally.

She spends most of her days at home, afraid to leave her house. She builds stuff out of food and spit, watches junk TV, surfs the web and has to attend therapy at least once a week. Than her life takes a different turn when a boy named Luke moves in next door and he becomes instantly fascinated with her.

I found that I couldn’t put this book down and devoured it fairly quickly with a day with a lack of sleep. Gornall’s writing really pulled me in and immersed me in a story that was both fascinating and not always an easy read. But I love the way Norah prevails everyday despite what she finds herself going through. The snarky tone of the book does make this a lighter read. I adored Norah’s personality and her spunk.

The romance was an interesting twist, but I did find myself wondering how realistic was it really? Luke was a seventeen year old boy, and despite me absolutely adoring the relationship they form and how he sends her letters through the mail slot – I wasn’t completely sold on the romance.

I think my favorite part of the book is the relationship between Norah and her mother. The support she gets from her is moving and the closeness they share just squeezes my heart. It is so good, so refreshing to find wonderful, caring adults in Young Adult fiction and not painted into someone who doesn’t get it, and is downright evil. It was good, it was more of a realistic feel.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship is when her mother goes away for a few days on a business trip. I didn’t know if it was also really realistic for a mother to leave Norah, given her situation, alone like that when she has so many things going on inside her head and can panic at any given moment. I felt that maybe she would have gotten her like a caregiver or a neighbor to check on her more often?

The ending was also a bit different. The wrench that the author threw into the mix did not make sense unless she intended it to be a way that Norah finally moves forward with her treatment. The ending was a bit open and basically left me wondering what was next. But, I really enjoyed the writing, it was really good. I enjoyed the humor. I was heartbroken by some of the more difficult moments and found myself really connecting and feeling for Norah.

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Review: Highland Vixen by Mary Wine

Posted February 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Highland Vixen by Mary WineHighland Vixen by Mary Wine
Series: Highland Weddings #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Scotland
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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.

Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage
Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He's used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he'll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant... Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.
It's anyone's guess who'll win this battle of the heart...

I didn’t actually know what to expect from this book. I wanted something Highlander, and Mary Wine’s book jumped out at me. I have not read her before, and she is a new to me author who has pleasantly surprised me.

Highland Vixen jumped into a story leading from book one, so if you haven’t read book one, like me, I strongly suggest starting from there so you don’t have to face the same confusion.

The book opens up with Helen and Brenda Grant escaping the MacPherson Castle and looking for shelter at Court. Helen was a captive in the MacPherson castle because Marcus took her as a prize, but her life wasn’t bad by any means. The last thing Helen wants to do is sit around and wait for the Laird to marry her off.

Helen and Brenda end up at court, where they are immediately called to Earl of Morton’s attention. Morton is a regent of Scotland, and seems to think he can wield power over the Highlanders. So when Marcus shows up at Court in order to bring Helen back, he is stuck under Morton’s claws, who wants Marcus to marry a girl barely 14 to strengthen alliances. Disturbed by the prospect of sleeping with a 14 year old girl, Marcus refuses, ends up in chains and Helen comes to his rescue with the prospect of marriage to her in order to save them.

This was an interesting read. Once I was able to get used to the writing and the dialect, I found myself fully immersed in the story. It did take some time to put the pieces together, since I have not read the first book, but other reviews helped with that.

I really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t just a romance novel, there was a lot going on, there was a full storyline with the Earl of Morton trying to cause trouble for Helen and Marcus, bringing in other clans into the fold to try and get in their way.

I was confused about why Helen and Brenda went to look for safety in Court, mainly since the two seem to be aware of Earl of Morton and just how despicable and awful the man is. It seems to me the entire situation could have been avoided. I also still am not entirely sure who Brenda is to Helen and how Helen did not come to help her friend after the escape. Especially now that they know what Morton is capable off as he tried to derail Marcus and Helen at every turn.

The romance itself was actually pretty good. I loved that there was some resistance from Helen at first considering the rocky start the two had, but I loved Marcus and his patience. He wasn’t really good at charming his new bride by any means, considering he is the War Chief of clan MacPherson and his wooing skills are zilch next to nothing. The bickering and the growing attraction were a major plus in this book amidst all the danger and excitement thrown their way.

I liked the secondary characters and their storylines and wonder how this series will progress. Well, now I am finding myself invested and hope to learn what will become of them in the future and how it will play out. Especially since the issues with the Earl of Morton have still been unresolved.

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Review: Wicked Cowboy Charm by Carolyn Brown

Posted February 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Wicked Cowboy Charm by Carolyn BrownWicked Cowboy Charm by Carolyn Brown
Series: Lucky Penny Ranch #4
Published by Forever on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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.



ONE BLIZZARD, ONE BUNKHOUSE,AND A WHOLE LOTTA TROUBLE . . .
Josie Dawson is new in town, but it doesn't take a local to know that Deke Sullivan is trouble--in a smokin' hot package. He's sweet, sexy, and has charmed just about every woman in Dry Creek, Texas. Well, Josie won't be next. She'll keep her distance, even if he is great with babies and makes a mean cup of homemade hot chocolate. Deke Sullivan really is a one-woman type of guy. He just had to do a lot of looking to find that one woman. Now he thinks he's found her and he won't let a strong, sassy gal like Josie slip away. Just when he's wondering how to convince her he only has eyes for her, they get stranded in a tiny cabin during a major blizzard. If Deke can melt her heart before they dig out of the snow, he'll be the luckiest cowboy in Texas . . .
The Lucky Penny Ranch Series: Wild Cowboy WaysHot Cowboy Nights Merry Cowboy ChristmasWicked Cowboy Charm

With all my trusted bloggers fussing over Carolyn Brown and her writing, I knew I had to give in and give this author a try. I am glad to say that this is my first read by this author and although I wasn’t in love with this story, particularly, I did really enjoy and really, really, liked her writing.

This is book four in Lucky Penny Ranch series and I believe it’s the last book in this particular series, so shame on me for starting here – we get Deke and Josie’s story to tie it all up.

Deke is a cowboy who loves his women and he isn’t shy about it, spending lots of time in bars and picking up his one night stands. Josie is Jud’s sister, who seems to think she has a prickly exterior and isn’t looking for romance, but cannot deny the sudden attraction she feels towards Deke.

When the two hit the road to pick up a couple of bulls and horses (in Josie’s case), the two never imagined that a big snowstorm was going to merge their paths together and get them stuck on the same farm when both were supposed to be miles apart.

It was a cute story, a bit of destiny tied into it. I did enjoy it, it was a soft read with what seems like perfect romance, a bit too perfect in this case. Nothing really goes wrong for Josie and Deke until like 70% into the book when they get home and hit a bit of a hick-up – but even then it felt like Brown was trying to stir things up a little. It didn’t last long, but it felt unnecessary.

The book moved a bit slow for me, especially the first part. I couldn’t wait for Deke and Josie to leave the bunkhouse. I usually enjoy snowed in plots, but this just felt a little monotonous for me, nothing really happens for the two until late in the 70% and by 90% I was just reading it as quickly as I could to move on.

What I did really like was Deke, I liked that he was such a HUGE animal lover and that was what warmed me up to him most. He was so swoon worthy. I wanted him to be more believable in his role as a woman’s man, but he seemed to settle into settling down for one woman fairy quickly without much anxiety and that did not feel believable – but then I have only just met Deke – so maybe my opinion will change when I visit the rest of the series.

Josie seems to think she has a prickly exterior, I didn’t get that vibe from her. She cares about her family, she was very quick into going into business with Deke instead of fighting out over the bulls with him, and overall she just seemed like an easy going, sweet person. She did take that one indiscretion with a solid skin though.

This overall was a really sweet story.

The writing, though, I really liked the style and I think I would enjoy the first few books in the series so I am definitely giving them a try. This book did not deter me from trying more of Brown’s books, in fact, I cannot wait to read the other ARC’s that are waiting for me on my kindle as well as some other backlist titles that have caught my eye.

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Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Posted January 26, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill ShalvisAccidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, #3
Published by Avon on January 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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.

There’s no such thing as a little in love…
Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .
There’s no such thing as a little in lust…
Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .
There is such a thing as…
As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

Ever since I met Elle and Archer in the last book, I knew I needed their story. I think with the explosive dynamic between the two, they were hands down easily my favorite two characters to fawn over.

Discovering Elle and Archer’s history wasn’t easy, it was both heartwarming as it was heartbreaking. Archer basically saved Elle when she was younger and got mixed up with some bad people thanks to her sister. After being attacked by her sister’s boyfriend for stealing something of his, Archer had to blow his cover in order to save the young girl and with that Elle has since believed that she owned Archer for not only saving her life, but for getting him kicked out of the police force.

What Elle didn’t know for a long time, that after that night Archer never really strayed too far away from her life.

I adored their story. I adored Archer so much and his protectiveness. I felt that they had such a wonderful connection, especially after being bought together by such unfortunate events. Elle holds a bit of a grudge against Archer, because when he saved her, she thought he wanted sex as a payment and he just laughed at her.

I never really fully understood why the two took such a long time getting together. There was a bit of angst, perhaps a bit more than it was necessary. Their back and forth fighting was also starting to get repetitive but I was glad when Shalvis knew when to move on in the story. I felt that both Elle and Archer had an alpha complex, both were too stubborn, too proud, but I did love everything Archer did for her.

It was a great book, I loved the story and the secondary characters were amazing. Archer’s men are funny and awesome and I hope they get their story as well. I enjoyed the humor and the romance, Shalvis writes just felt so familiar and warm. I did notice over time that she likes to use the same phrasing over and over again. I haven’t read enough of her books to find it annoying, but Timbaktu comes up a lot as well as climbing him like a tree.

I was also grateful for Morgan, Elle’s sister showing up when she did. Not only did she add to the story and substance, but also moved the story away from the back and forth between Elle and Archer. It was getting frustrating when she kept telling him to stay away, but returned constantly herself. Half the time, I didn’t understand her anger towards him. But, the story between the two sister’s was also a bit sad. What Morgan did at the end of the book might have been stupid, but it was selfless and I feel like she too will get her own story, because it fell a bit open ended there?

Overall, I am glad I read it. I did adore these two. Still don’t like Willa.

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Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Posted January 12, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review:  Ever the Hunted by Erin SummerillEver the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms, #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on December 27th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 392
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

When I first picked up Ever the Hunted, I was extra excited for the book. I was very much in the mood for a fantasy, and lately there have been some very interesting YA fantasy books that I thoroughly enjoyed. My expectations coming into this book were high, but not much of them have been met.

We meet Britta, a girl whose father has died and now she is in mourning. She is forced by the rules? Religion? Of the land to be secluded only in her house until an appropriate amount of time has passed. Well, apparently during the mourning period, Britta ran out of food and was forced to hunt for it. Hunting is also illegal on kings land and Britta is found and thrown in jail where she must await her sentence. I was a little confused why hunting is illegal and punishable by death if caught, which is what happens. I did not feel like this was ever explained. But very little was explained about the world, and world building in general is very limited in this book. Given that this is a fantasy novel, world building is especially important.

Britta is then given a choice, be executed or help them track the man who killed her father – which happens to be the boy she has been fawning over for what feels like most of her life. Britta has this ability, she can tell when people are lying – so she believes what the man is telling her is the truth because apparently he believes it as well. Shocked, she takes the bargain and decided she will risk Cohen (the boy killer) life over herself and track him down for the king’s man. She is sent on this journey with three very questionable guardsmen who make her life hell on the road. If she is someone who they must protect, they did sort of a poor job of it and their treatment of her was unsettling at times especially with Tomas.

The entire book had my head spinning. Britta was suppose to be this awesome tracker, but she either missed some clues or had stuff fall onto her lap. For someone that is suppose to be able to tell when people are lying, she is also a bit thick, whiny, and overall a useless character. I wanted to like her, I wanted Britta to be strong, independent, and maybe not dense? I didn’t get that out of her. She relied on other people to do the job for her, and she had a horrible time of following simple rules that kept putting her and Cohen in danger. Like don’t touch the fire cause it burns, okay Britta?

She also has magic – which she apparently did not realize even thought her mother is a Channeller and people hate her, and she can tell who is lying or not? And she also is pretty special and defies all the rules of magic because she is just so damn special – cue eye roll here – Like the moment I found out she has magic I had a moment of oh no, here we go again here!

The biggest problem I had, despite the weak and dense female lead was the world building. I didn’t understand what was going on and it felt like it was important? There are two kingdoms, and they are at war with each other. One kingdom has these women who are Channeller’s and the other doesn’t. Somewhere along the way they decided that all of these people are evil because they have magic, but the bases on WHY they think these people are evil is vague and not well explained. So the king decides he is going to go to war with this kingdom. Right… Got it.

Also, because of Britta’s looks and where her mother was from everyone automatically hated her except her best friend Cohan who is from the same time and everything.

I did like Cohen, despite him being painted the way he was.

I also had a problem with some of the gruesome violence in this. I felt like it was a bit off in a YA fantasy, or maybe I just didn’t care for it, but there has been a scene or two a bit too detailed and cringe worthy for my taste. I wasn’t actually expecting it, nor did I really have a care for such detail. It probably could have gone away with it, as much as other details in this book that didn’t exist.

The ending was too predictable and left potential for a very cringe worthy trope in the next book.

Can I just say that all the lies that were in place by her father for her ‘safety’ where just downright cruel? I mean…. if you read the book, the thing with Britta’s mother? Like, why would you do that to a kid? You know? I can’t talk much about it because of spoilers, but I knew something was wrong and when the truth was revealed I was a bit angry on that part.

Also, at the end there? If Britta was able to tell the truth, how the hell did the one major lie get by her? Readers of this book, you know what I mean? Especially if he didn’t know that she has this ability to begin with.

I actually did not come on here to write almost a fully negative review. I felt like the world had a lot of potential here, but it lacked in building. The romance was sub-par as best, but I liked Cohan anyway. I wanted Britta to grow as the story went on, but I didn’t feel there was any progression there. But seriously, can we tone down the level of special here? and maybe avoid the ugly love triangle?

 

 

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Review: Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah Raughley

Posted December 4, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review:  Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah RaughleyFate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Series: Effigies, #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
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.

Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.
When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.
But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.
But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…

In a world where Phantom’s terrorize the people, Effigies are meant to protect it. Four girls appeared at the same time these nightmarish creatures came to light. Each girl is able to control their own classical element, but only one type of elemental Effigy can exist at the same time.

When the last Effigy, Natalya, who controls fire dies, Maia becomes her successor and inherits Natalya’s powers and memories.

Maia is scared and does not want to admit that she is the fire Effigy even thought she doesn’t have much time before the organization known as the Sect – who train the Effigy’s comes for her. Maia has a hard history, her mother, father and twin sister perished in a fire. Even thought Maia idolized the Effigy’s, the last thing she expected was to become one.

Now something is going wrong, by random each big city in the world is having a problem with the device that keeps Phantom’s out from entering the cities and hurting people. The devices are failing, cities are getting attacked, people are getting hurt and they don’t know what is causing it.

A mysterious stranger named Saul wants something from Maia, and he just might be the link to all of these attacks.

It was in interesting read. Overall, I felt like this series has a lot of potential, if the kinks could be sorted.

I really liked the plot, to me it felt original and refreshing. I liked that there are four girls who control four different elements of fire, ice, earth and wind. It reminds me a little bit of Captain Planet growing up. The story-line thought engrossing had a lot of holes, and I think that is where it faltered most.

First, I did not understand the need to glamorize the Effigies. They are these normal girls who end up being chosen at random? And they fight the Phantoms until their last breath, protecting the people from harm. They turn into these celebrities with photo shoots, and it was just weird to me.

Second, all their personalities were such a big cliche. Like, you could just feel it coming from each girl, what they are going to act like, and it really had me rolling my eyes.

Third, Maia is obviously special, but why? Why is she the special one, especially since the Effigy before she is supposed to be a sort of legend. Maia is thrown into this fight with NO training, and despite obviously being a huge burden on the girls who suddenly have to protect her, she ends up doing things she shouldn’t really be able to do. She can wield her powers in such way that it takes a lot of work to be able to use, that she is suddenly good at. I felt like it was unrealistic and frustrating.

There were a lot of holes in the plot and most of it was left that way. I wanted to know more about the origins of the Phantoms. Where did they come from? Are they aliens? Are they an experiment gone wrong?

Why is Saul special? The whole mystery surrounding him kind of had me shrugging my shoulders. He told Maia that she wouldn’t like what she discovered and I didn’t see that reaction at all.

There is obvious some internal dirty stuff going on within the Sect itself.

There is a hint of romance… I guess.. It’s a little dry and Rhys, the Sect agent and the romantic interest is hiding a lot of secrets. One of which I think Maia is totally blind to, but is easy to figure out. He is also Geeky Chic… There is a lot of use of the word Chic to describe people in the book.

Overall, it was interesting no doubt it has a lot of potential and I will be reading the next book to find out where it goes. Despite all those things that might have aggravated, it was a great book to pick up when I wanted to get lost in something outside of the real world. I really wish it didn’t leave us with more questions then answers, but I am looking forward to seeing where the author goes with this next.

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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Posted November 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  Scythe by Neal ShustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

I didn’t know how to start or write this review, I didn’t think it was easy to put my thoughts together for this book, as you see, it was a bit complicated.

The book is about a Dystopian world set in the Age of Immortality and what happens when the mankind has achieved about literally everything, including immortality.

There is a group or an organization of people called the Scythes, who are professional reapers that glean people by random and they are the only ones that can cause permanent death.

After both Citra and Rowan run into Scythe Faraday during his gleanings and he sees something in them that would make both a great apprentice. It’s unusual for a Scythe to take on more than one apprentice, but Faraday takes a risk anyway. Unfortunately, only one of the two can become a real Scythe and earn the ring – so both Rowan and Citra have to pass three tests before being granted the ring.

When a Scythe at the annual Scythe enclave points out that it’s unheard of, Citra and Rowan now face an even greater risk of one of the winners being forced to glean the loser and puts a lot of things at stake.

I thought the concept was interesting. I liked the world that the author had created and I kind of wanted to know more about it. It felt just a tad bit confusing at times. I did not understand how revivals in the world worked. I get that people could not die, but some of the deaths seemed really unrealistic for people to come back from no matter how you swing it.

The pace of the book itself was a bit slow and well over 400 pages, at times I found myself completely dozing. Most of this  book is about Citra’s and Rowan’s apprenticeship and it moves at a snail pace.

Half the time you are just waiting for something, anything to happen.

The romance was awkward and felt forced. There was no need for it. There is no build up. So if you are a lover of romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book based on that. It plays a really minor part of the whole picture.  I felt like the author threw it in as an afterthought because he believed that somehow it’s a must to have romance in books – it isn’t and it could have done without it. Really, I would have been okay with just friendship in this.

The format and the writing of the book is well put together. The character development was really well done as well. Both Citra and Rowan end up being shaped by their experiences and their training and both in the end come out completely different people with a different kind of purpose.

There is a conflict going on between the Scythes with those who believe in a different kind of gleaning and their ‘leader’ was a monster. I think that is where the book got a little weird for me. I understood the purpose of showing those kind of monsters and what happens when you get the power to kill people, but it was still hard. That being said, yes, there was lot’s of killings in this book and the author tried to paint a picture of what happens what you get the power to kill people. The mass murdering was just absolutely hard to read.

Overall, it was interesting and a decent start. Hopefully I will get to pick up book 2, and hopefully it will move at a quicker pace.

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Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Posted November 11, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  This Adventure Ends by Emma MillsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

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.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I picked this one up on the whim because a few of the book reviewers that I trust really enjoyed it, and I don’t regret it. What a pallet cleanser!
The story is actually pretty simple. It’s about a girl in high school named Sloane, who is newer to the area and doesn’t really have many friends and

She meets Vera and Gabe after stepping up and giving a guy at a party a tongue thrashing and the two twins immediately adopt Sloane into their friendship fold.

The friendship ends up meaning so much to Sloane, that when a painting that Gabe meant to save from his late mother ends up being sold, Sloane goes out of her way to try and get it back.

It was a cute story. I thought the writing was great and I absolutely loved the quick and witty dialogue. I think the interaction between the character was my favorite part of the book. The friendship between Sloane, Gabe and Vera was kind of heart warming. So was the fact that Sloane would have done anything for them in order to show the twins how much she loved them and what their friendship meant to them.

This Adventure Ends is not just filled with positive friendships in high school, but also positive parenting and interaction. The relationship between Sloane and her father touched my heart. It is always so nice when there is closeness and understanding in young adult books between the parent and the child because I am so tired with the bad parent trope that seems to be floating around young adult books lately.

In all honesty it was a quick light read. There wasn’t much heart ache in the book and the author handled what little that might have happened very well.

There was a bit of romance, but it’s a sub plot and doesn’t play a huge part in the book. But when it does happen, it’s pretty sweet and I adored it.

I also loved the fact that the author branched out with a mixed bag of characters both in race and sexuality. Also, Sloane’s father is a romance writer who is struggling with writing after a bad review, which I found interesting.

That being said, there is a bit of cursing in this book so be aware. It didn’t bother me, but some people might be taken back by that language in young adult. To me? It sounds pretty realistic.

Overall, a wonderful light read, with witty and quirky dialogue that sticks with you long after it’s over. If you are looking for something light hearted with positive young adult relationships with both friends and family – you need to give this book a shot.

Memorable Quotes

-“I didn’t need anyone’s help. Everything was under control.”
“So the part where he plied your face like Play-Doh was a critical step in your plan?”
The girl snorts, and Gabe shots her a glare.

“Where were you?” he asks when I come in.
“Hanging out.”
“Ooh, with who?”
“Some local youth.”
“You sound eighty.”
“And you look like a maniac. what are you doing?”
“I’m relaxing.” He rubs the towel. “Terry cloth is good for the brain. I read an article on it.”

“Hot Pockets- what were you really doing there?”
I turn to Gabe, that orange shirt glowing in the setting sun. “sorry?”
“Hot Pockets,” he says.
“cinnamon Toast Crunch,” I reply.
“Are we saying this we like?”
“It’s a thing,” he says. “You have to tell the truth. It trumps penguin party.”
“Nothing trumps penguin party.”
“Hot Pockets does.”

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