Icon Tag: ARC

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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Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Posted November 9, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. KincaidThe Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:half-flame

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

A science fiction, standalone novel that uses politics and religion to build a unique, brutal world, but ultimately falls short.

Nemesis is a diabolic, a genetically engineered humanoid that is built with one purpose in mind and that is to protect the person they are bonded to until their very last breath.

When Sidonia, a senator’s daughter is called to court as a hostage – because of her father’s meddling in trying to bring back the study of science – Nemesis finds herself impersonating the one person she would give her life to make sure she is safe. Nemesis thinks she is heading to court to her death, but ends up finding an entirely different, vicious reason for why she was called to court along with the other heir’s of the ruling families.

It’s been a while since I read a science fiction novel, let alone a young adult science fiction novel, so when I saw The Diabolic, I knew I had to read it right away. Unfortunately the book started off on a rocky ground for me and continued to crumble along. It did not help that it sounds like it is in fact a standalone and has left me with more questions than answers.

I didn’t really know how to rate this book, and I didn’t really know how to review it. Even as I sit here and write it now, it has taken me a few days to chew over my thoughts and try to put them out there as a written word.

I liked the fact that the setting of the book took place in outer space, but where the setting could have really shined – it barely played a big part of the book. The story is that the emperor has suppressed the education of sciences, so the current technology used by the people is so old they don’t even know how to fix it. All these ships that carry people through space break down and cause a rip in the space itself – they call it malignant space that closely resembles a black hole and people are scared that as it expands it will eat up their existence.

But this is just a background story that sets the brutal mood of the book. Most of the story takes place on Chrysanthemum, which is where the Emperor lives and I believe it’s a ship? I found that a little unclear.

I felt like the author was trying to make some sort of political and religious statement here as both play a large part and NOT in a good way. The people are very religious and devout and the political control these people with an iron fist to the point where the emperor and his followers have no qualms when it comes to killing a lot of innocent people. There is a statement that the author makes that the moment people expand their knowledge and discover their capability there is a political revolution and they try to overthrow the current government and that is something the emperor is so afraid of that he even killed his own family members to get to where he is today.

There was a lot of killing, brutal killing and a lot of innocent people and animals alike die in the hands of more powerful. I don’t know why I didn’t like this, it didn’t settle well in my stomach and maybe it’s because it hit too close to some kind of a twisted reality that we are trying not to acknowledge, and I hope that is not the case, but that turned me off from the story.

I didn’t understand Nemesis character. Was she a machine or a human? She has no tear ducks, but many times it mentions that her eyes blurb when she doesn’t blink. She is suppose to have one mission in life and that is to be a cold heartless killer in order to protect the one person she is bonded to. Okay, but as the story goes on, Nemesis has a conscious and she can think, act, and even feel as we grow to find out. This baffles me a little, as the other Diabolics in this book don’t seem to exhibit similar traits. What made her so different?

I was also a bit confused about the issues in this book. It mentions people now knowing even how to fix the current technology, but how did they survive this long on such old ships? Things break down, period, even the ships they live on should be able to break down and they should be able to fix them – so this idiot didn’t make sense to me. If they didn’t have the basic of knowledge on how to fix their ships, then they couldn’t have survived as long as they did – even the ships they live on would have broken down. Even general maintenance need some sort of knowledge.

I felt there were a lot of holes. The romance was meh to me at best. I felt when it finally happened, it was a bit quick, but I guess these two deserved each other.

Overall, I was hoping to be more impressed and I wasn’t. The writing was good, but the pacing faltered at times. I spent have the time wondering if it was over yet or when it will be over. I felt there was a lot of holes left in the story and the ending happened kind of quickly, things just fell together for the characters a little too well.

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Review: Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason

Posted November 1, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 26 Comments

Review: Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie MasonMistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason
Series: Harmony Harbor #1
Published by Forever on October 25th 2016
Genres: Romance, Holiday
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:one-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.

'Tis the season for love . . . Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she's forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter's blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.
Sophie's return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they've concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic...

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Sophie DiRossi fled Harmony Harbor out of embarrassment years ago, only to return to the place she once grew up with after her other home went she lived in went up in flames. Now Sophia is back in Harmony and is a carrier of a heavy secret herself. It’s bad enough she is afraid that the secret about her daughter will come out, it’s worse that she has child services on her tail due to the fire that happened to traumatize her little girl – who is now refusing to speak.

Mistletoe Cottage is the first book in Harmony Harbor series from Debbie Mason and it was a decent start to what is looking like an interesting series.

I really liked the little girl Mia, the DiRossi loud and funny family and Liam Gallagher, the hero of this story. It was a relaxing read after all the dark stuff in October and I thought it was a great read to start of the pile of upcoming Holiday stuff.

mistletoe-cottage-quote-graphic-2

The story was interesting as Sophie tries to put together a high profile wedding to save the mansion that Liam’s family happens to own. She is hired as a manager to make it happen right before Colleen, Liam’s great-grandmother passes away. Now Sophie is all stressed because she is planning a Michael’s wedding and that is the last person she wants to see. Not because she is in love with him, but because of the secrets she thinks she is keeping from him.

This was… it started out cute and promising, bu  t somewhere along the way I felt a bit of confusion. I did enjoy the story, as it sets a lot of interesting potential for the upcoming books. I really, really want to know what happened to Sophie’s cousin Ava and her ex-husband and kind of hope we won’t be left waiting too long.

I loved the interaction between Liam and Mia, it was so heartwarming the way he took to the little girl right away and how she took to him.

There was romance, but it didn’t feel like it overpowered the book. When it happened it was nice and added warmth to the book, especially due to Liam.

mistletoe-cottage-quote-graphic-3

My biggest issue was Sophie, I just couldn’t like her and her mood swings gave me a whiplash. I didn’t like the way she behaved with Mia’s father and telling him he didn’t earn the right after SHE was the one who kept the secret away from him for seven years. I also didn’t like the fact that she had the nerve to slap him.

I was a fan of Mason’s other series, this one felt a bit rushed, especially the ending – it left my head spinning as things started to go wickedly fast and scenes just skipping and bouncing all over the place.

Overall, the series has my attention. I am especially interested in Ava and hope she gets her book next. It was a good holiday read with some tender moments and I am looking forward to more

 

Excerpt

 

The door to the bathroom opened. Liam lowered his razor to smile at Mia and Sophie.

Sophie slammed the door in his face.“You stay right where you are,” she ordered him from the other side. “Mia baby, let’s go check out your bedroom.”

He heard the sound of their retreating footsteps and shrugged. He wasn’t sure what the problem was. He’d just lifted the razor to his chin when the door reopened and Sophie stepped inside, closing it behind her. Her eyes flitted over him, then she raised her gaze to meet his, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. He grinned at her reaction. At least he wasn’t the only one feeling the attraction.

She glared at him. “If you wanted to give me a welcome-to-the-apartment present, flowers or a plant would have been a better idea than . . . than this.” Her hand fluttered between them.

“You think I’m your welcome-to-the-apartment present?” he said, unable to keep the amusement from his voice.

“It’s not funny, Liam. I have an impressionable daughter. You can’t just show up at my apartment half naked, expecting to—”

He put the razor down and turned to her, crossing his arms. “Think what?”

“Don’t do that. It won’t work,” she said, her eyes landing somewhere between his chest and the towel.

“Soph, you’ve lost me. I don’t have a clue—”

“Please, as if you don’t know how sexy you look right now standing there all naked and wet with your muscles on display.”

He looked down at himself then raised his gaze to hers while holding back a full-out grin as it hit him what was going on. He didn’t plan to enlighten her just yet. He was having too much fun. “You forgot my impressive abs.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Where are your clothes? You need to get dressed and . . . What are you doing?” she asked as he closed the distance between.

Her palms landed on his chest when he crowded her against the door. “I just thought, since I went to all this trouble to surprise you, you could at least give me a kiss.”

“No, Mia is in the next room.” She stared at his mouth. “And even if I wanted to kiss you, you have shaving cream on your face.”

“Admit it. You like your present. And you really, really want to kiss me.”

The corner of her mouth lifted as her hands inched their way up his chest and around his neck. She leaned into him. “Yes, I like my present. But I’d like it a whole lot more if Mia wasn’t with me. And I might want to kiss you a little.”

“A lot,” he said and cupped her face in his hands, lowering his mouth to hers. He wanted to linger, to explore her sweet mouth with a deep, consuming kiss. Instead, because Mia was down the hall, he went with soft and tender and long enough that she’d feel how much he wanted her.

He pulled back. Her face was tipped up, her eyes closed. He smiled at the shaving cream covering the lower half of her face and slowly trailed his finger through it to draw a foamy line of white down her neck. With her eyes still closed, she leaned back against the door, a small hum of pleasure escaping from between her parted lips. He ducked his head and whispered. “You like that, don’t you?”

She opened her heavy-lidded eyes and nodded, watching him as he dipped his fingers beneath the V of her caramel-colored sweater.

He felt her shiver beneath his fingers and moved her hair off her shoulders with his other hand before rubbing his cheek against hers. He’d never look at shaving cream the same way. He wanted to cover every inch of her . . .

A knock sounded on the door. She shoved him away. Her eyes wide and glazed, she wiped frantically at her face. “Be right there, baby.”

Liam grimaced. He’d gotten so carried away he’d forgotten about Mia. “Sorry, Soph. Give me a sec, and I’ll get some clothes on.” He turned to open the door leading into his apartment.

“You have got to be kidding me,” she said.

Liam glanced over his shoulder. “Nope, your apartment shares a bathroom with mine. Welcome to the neighborhood,” he said with a wink.

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About Debbie Mason

Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

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Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 13, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review:  Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth OppelEvery Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:one-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.

The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this beautifully written new novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt it’s the “rex”, the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.
But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. Because if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.
As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry—and with it a new life together—or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Every Hidden Thing is described as a story of Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. It’s a story about two paleontologists and their kids in search of the Black Beauty or “rex” one of the biggest dinosauria to be discovered at its time in North America. It is also loosely based on a historical event called “Bone Wars

I don’t know where to begin. I hate, HATE writing bad reviews so I am going to make this as positive as I can.

Samuel and Rachel are the children of two feuding paleontologists. Both of their father’s get a hint from the same source about a possible massive carnivorous dinosaur, awaiting to be discovered in the west in the area called the Badlands. A lot becomes at stake as the two families compete as to who is to find the dinosaur. Samuel and Rachel find unlikely in each other as their father’s behaviors drive them to form a force in hopes of recovering the bones themselves.

What did I like about this book?

  • The story-line was interesting. I like that Oppel went out of his way and did a bit of research into both the Native American culture and the Bone Wars before including it in his book. It added substance to the book and made it slightly more believable.
  • The writing in itself was pretty good and consistent. Nothing in particularly dragged and I managed to get through the book fairly quickly.
  • The book was about discovering dinosaurs and working in the field, which I found fascinating especially given the time period and the territory wars between Native American’s and the white man.

 

So why the two and a half stars? POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  • I disliked the characters tremendously. I absolutely hated the fathers and the two main characters alike. The adults in this book had been just very childlike, and although I don’t doubt that maybe there was some truth to it based on history, the behavior at times were downright disgusting. Honestly, I disliked all the characters so much I am surprised I finished this.
    Rachel’s father was especially horrendous in his actions, especially when he sawed off the dead Native American’s head and then at one part of the book ironically insisted that he was not a savage. Their actions sometimes made me sick.

“We  could give him a good trashing,” said Daniel Simpson.

I looked at him in revulsion; at the same moment my father sternly said. “That won’t be necessary. We’re not savages. What you can do is fetch the heads. They’re in the storage wagon.”

  • The book is from the point of view of Rachel and Samuel and I just couldn’t get behind these two characters. Rachel was in no way someone I could relate to and Samuel I just generally disliked. There was instant love on Samuel’s behalf, and Rachel was about as emotional as a dry wall. There was no substance to her character outside of her passion for going to a university.
  • The romance was horrible. Samuel fell in love with Rachel quickly and could not understand why she did not reciprocate his feelings. He acted as if he was doing her a favore at being in love with her and basically called her emotionless and plain looking to her face. Once again, I found myself struggling to finish this book at that point. I found the behavior disgusting and childish and I was starting to wonder if Samuel was younger then he was suppose to be because he sure as hell acted like he was.
  • To top it off the two decide to ditch their father and their childlike behavior and join forces by running off and getting married. What? Why? How does this make any sense? The romance felt forced to begin with and all the sudden these two are getting married? Of course after they get married Samuel’s behavior towards Rachel turns absolutely crappy when he starts to realize they got married too young and he might not be able to support her. So he gets pissy and moody and treats her like crap. She knew how he was before she got married to him so it absolutely makes NO sense that she decided to go through with it anyway. And oh god, he gets super pissed off because she doesn’t want to have his babies… what? what? what did I just read?!
  • Also, there were super awkward sex scenes, farts and armpit hair. Need I say more?

I got a little more passionate and irritated as the review went on, I apologize for that. It could have been better, it had the potential to be fantastic, but it fell flat. I came into this book ready to love it, expectations were high. When I think of Indiana Jones the first thing that comes to mind is archeology, adventure, action, danger and passion. Indiana Jones this book was not.

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Review: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Posted October 11, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill ShalvisThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, #2
Published by Avon on September 27th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

If she has her way . . .
Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .
He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.
Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .
Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .
Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .

I was super excited when The Trouble with Mistletoe showed up in my mail box. I recently fell in love with Shalvis and her writing and was really looking forward to her new series. The fact that this book had the promise of holidays written all over it was a huge bonus, I am a sucker for holiday books.

Jill introduces us to Willa, an owner of a pet shop and Keane Winter’s – a man who stood her up at a high school prom and is not knocking on her door to cat sit.

Willa is butt hurt that Keane does not seem to remember her from high school, but takes in the sassy cat Petunia under her wing.

The two cannot deny the pull of the attraction between them, Keane just needs to climb over the wall that the pet shop owner flung up first before he can ask her out.

It was a cute story. The high school grudge was only a small part of it. Keane has an attachment issue and isn’t looking for anything serious and Willa was looking for something permanent at first.

I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. I couldn’t connect with Willa at all and although I appreciated her spirit and love for animals, her sudden role reversal with Keane was really unrealistic and did not seem justifiable. It didn’t make sense to me when Keane was suddenly okay for more and Willa was running for the hill, not when she for so long wished for true love.

I did not understand Keane’s attachment issues either. I didn’t feel there was enough backstory to make make him who he was. But, I did love Petunia the cat and their interaction, I thought it was funny, cute and heartwarming.

The romance was still cute. There was still a sign of classic Shalvis banter, but I didn’t feel that it was no where near good as her Cedar Ridge series. I totally adored everyone in that series and their connection. it was still a good escape from all the creepy stuff I have been reading, something on a much lighter side.

The next book is Elle’s book and since I was extremely interested in the relationship she shares with Archer I am eagerly looking forward to that one, it promises to be antagonistic and I am holding it up to that promise.

Memorable Quotes

His dark eyes had warmed to the color of melted dark chocolate. “One question.”
“What?” she asked warily.
“Do you always wear X-rated headbands?”
Her hands flew to her head. She’d completely forgotten she was wearing the penis headband. “Are you referring to my reindeer antlers?”
“Reindeer antlers,” he repeated.
“That’s right.”
“Whatever you say.” He was smiling now, and of course the rat-fink bastard had a sexy-as-hell smile.

“Listen,” he said completely honest. “I’m the guy who needed a fur-sitter because he was terrorized by a ten-pound cat, so I’m not throwing stones here. Speaking of which, where is the little holy terror?”

“She left me half a field mouse,” Mason said.
“She’s noticed your lack of hunting skills and inability to feed yourself,” Sass told him. “She’s trying to show you how to hunt. It’s a compliment.”

“What the hell was that?”
“Me getting you candy.” He held up the bag.
“No, you just peed on me in public.”
His mouth twitched.
“You did!” she said, tossing up her hand. “You totally intimidated that poor guy and all he was doing was talking to me.”

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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: 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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