Source: Publisher

Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 29 Comments

Review:  On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsOn Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Series: Standalone
Published by HQN Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
Pages: 480
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-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.

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel
If You Only Knew
, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together 
Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband. 
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 
Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

It’s been a really long time since I have read a Higgins book, but when this was brought to my attention, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

On Second Thought was a book that not only surprised me, but blew my expectations out of the water. To date, I think this is the best book Higgins has ever written.

The story is told from the POV of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. Kate is the older half sister from their father’s first and current marriage, and she is also a 39-year old widow. For twenty years Kate never thought she would have a chance to marry with her bad luck and a string of bad relationships, she gave up hope – until Nathan came over into her life.

I became Nathan’s wife. One hundred and two days later, I became his widow.

Nathan was sweet, talented, came from a wealthy family and wanted to have children. They dated for a few months before quickly getting married and not too soon after their marriage, Nathan dies, leaving Kate to pick up the pieces.

Ainsley is the younger half sister, who comes from a woman that the girl’s father was actually in love with. Kate’s mother took her in, and for the longest time Ainsley felt a little alienated. She was in a relationship with Eric for 11-years, up until after he recovered from his cancer, watched Nathan die at their life party and decided to cut ties with Ainsley with a very ugly public blog post to top of the hurt.

This book was everything, it had everything. I had my reservations at first, Nathan dies getting a glass of wine for Kate and it is mentioned several times as the guilt sits heavy on her chest. At first I was a little worried that this was going to be a very to shame anyone who drinks wine, but as the story went on, it was proven otherwise and I relaxed a little.
The story pulled on my heartstrings, squeezed my heart, broke my heart and cemented it back together with love and warmth.

It was frustrating, shocking, sad, heartbreaking, but at the same time it was wonderful, full of love and just downright realistic. There were moments that made me really feel for the two women, but Higgins hands the entire situation not only with wit and charm, but with humor cleverly woven in.

The story was about death, grief, moving on after, love, heartbreak, and family all the good, the bad and the ugly. I loved how the heartbreak and the events in both of the sister’s lives bought them together and formed a stronger bond. I liked learning  about their family, and how Candy (Kate’s mother, Ainsley’s step-mother) felt about having another woman’s child trusted upon her. For a long time, I didn’t know how to feel about her, but Candy redeemed herself tenfold by the end of the book.

Kate’s story was rough. I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt being widowed so fast, but I also had to take into the account that Kate didn’t even know her husband for a year, so the experience must have felt different to other widows who knew them for years.

I loved the romance, especially between Ainsley and her boss Jonathan. When Jonathan appeared more and more in the story, he won me over quickly. He isn’t your typical love interest, which was so refreshing. He is awkward, he doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, his interaction with Ainsley is amusing. She calls him Captain Flatline for a reason, he is hard to read and she often compares him to an alien. But I loved that, I loved that Jonathan wasn’t like the rest of the alpha males in the books, it made him so much more endearing and memorable.

Daniel the hot Fire Fighter was also an awesome addition to the book, and I loved the way he treated Kate and pulled her out of her funk.

The entire story was just great, but I think I already mentioned it. It was well over 400 pages and I was sad that it was over, I will definitely miss Jonathan. I liked both of the sister’s voice and their sarcastic witty humor, I never found a dull moment.

If you want to give Higgin’s a try, I strongly recommend this book.

“Are you crying?”

“Oh…I just…I’m a little, uh premenstrual.” Shit.

He gave me a long, unblinking look. Strange pale blue eyes, like an alien. “Will that be a problem during this interview?” he asked.

“Let’s hope not. But those first two days can be murder.” I smiled. He did not. I felt my uterus shriveling, as if his disapproving gaze was bringing on menopause.

Finally, he blinked. “I’m Jonathan Kent. This way.”

Inside the grocery store, it was as cold as a morgue. Poor choice of words.

I couldn’t remember what I’d come for, Vegetables? Why not? Whole Foods did have the prettiest produce in the entire world, even if it did cost a million trillion dollars.

I was dying to know what my stick-up-the-colon boss did in his spare time. Taxidermy seemed about right.

I pulled into Kate’s driveway, once again doing the walk of shame (though damn proud of it), went into the kitchen and screamed

A very large man was there.

“Hey,” he said. “How’s it going?”

“Who are you and why are you wearing my sister’s shirt?” I yelped..

He smiled. I smiled. The cat smiled.

He had a cat!

“You have a cat!” I said. Maybe shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. Too late now.

I could seriously go on with snips and quotes forever. Go read the book!

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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: A Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted January 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  A Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne ThayneA Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek, #14
Published by Harlequin on November 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 233
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-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.

Sparkle In The Snow Leads To So Much More 
Celeste Nichols has always preferred to keep to herself in her hometown of Pine Gulch, Idaho…until she becomes an instant celebrity! When one of her children's stories becomes a major success, she's suddenly the talk of the town. Celeste should be gloriously happy…but something, someone, special is still missing from her life. Could the return of her childhood crush be the answer?  
Flynn Delaney has moved back home for his daughter's sake. Yet all the millionaire's resources can't help the little girl heal from the tragic loss of her mother. Shy librarian Celeste and her stories do hold some indefinable magic, though. Flynn came home looking for support—can he find that, and true love, in the one who got away?

I was so delighted when I found this book on my kindle while searching for something good to read and equally disappointed that I have not read it yet. Reading Thayne book now feels like coming home to me. It’s always filled with magic and warm fuzziness that stays with me long after I am done with the book and A Cold Creek Christmas Story was no exception.

The book follows Celeste, who lives in the comfort of Pine Gulch Idaho, with a very sad past, who writes children’s books for a living. Her recent hit is about a reindeer named Sparkle that seemed to have touched both children and parents alike across the country like a sweeping storm. She had a major crush on Flynn, a boy who would come to Pine Gulch every summer to visit his grandmother. The boy has grown up and is back in town in order to clean out his grandmother’s place after her passing, so he could put it up on the market. Flynn has a daughter, who doesn’t speak after she watched her celebrity mother get shot by her mother’s boyfriend in front of her and almost dying herself. Flynn is hoping that their stay in Pine Gulch would give his daughter a break from their fast paced life in California and away from the spotlight.

It was a story of perseverance, coping with loss, moving on and finding love in the most unexpected places. I absolutely loved Celeste and how passionate she was about her books and the character she created, so passionate that she had a hard time allowing Sparkle to go big with a movie. I loved Flynn’s sweet daughter and the bond she had formed with Celeste over Sparkle that not only got her to open up, but find a way to deal with her mother’s death and return the magic of Christmas back into her life. Despite me having a few issues with Flynn, I knew it stemmed from the fact that he was just trying to do his best as a father and was only trying to protect his daughter from the world his wife and parents had been sucked into.

Everything about this book besides my annoyance with Flynn at times, was just plain wonderful. The writing, the slow burn romance Thayne is so good at, the characters, the setting – all warm and sweet. I loved it, was unable to put down the book and devoured it over the holidays. It was just a perfect read for me and I am looking forward to more of her wonderful writing.

If you are a fan of slow burn romance that focuses on the development of attachment between the characters and the community, I think you should give this one a try. Thayne always is known for mostly clean romances, but it’s so worth it.

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Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Posted January 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Into the Dim by Janet B. TaylorInto the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim, #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Time-Travel, Science Fiction
Pages: 428
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.

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. 

Phew, took me a lot longer than I thought to finish this book – almost a year. Into the Dim follows a girl named Hope who believes her mother to be dead, until her estranged aunt comes to find her and tells her otherwise. Now, Hope with a couple of friends, must travel back in time to her mothers last known location and rescue her.

I really wanted a good time traveling book, so I was really excited for this one, but it fell a bit flat for me. I loved the concept of the dim and how it worked in the way that you can only travel to a certain location only once to prevent yourself from running into yourself and causing some major disturbances. I thought that was kind of neat and different.

I had the hardest time connecting with Hope and all of the characters read and acted younger than they were suppose to be. Hope was homeschooled, she doesn’t know how to approach other people, boys are an alien to her, but she has a great photographic memory. Her actions at times were a bit annoying, especially when it came to the books two leading boys, Collum and Bran. Right away when you hear two leading boys, you go, uh oh right? Yup, there is a big potential for a love triangle on the horizon. Hope is desperately pinning over Bran and how handsome he is, and how a boy like him would never look at a girl like her – despite the fact that he was coming on to her clear as day. Bran and Hope are also connected in more way than one, but his biggest secret doesn’t seem to deter her from being all goo-goo eyed over the boy.

Collum was brave, kept to himself and his interaction with Hope leads me to believe he is developing feelings for the girl – even if she has wool over her eyes and can’t seem to get it through his actions because she is too focused on Bran.

Phoebe is Collum sister and honestly from her actions and her character, I thought she was like 8? But no, this girl is not only a teenager, she spends a lot of time clinging to her boyfriend before they are sent into the dim to help rescue Hope’s mother.

One of my main issues was the fact that somehow these adults in the book end up sending 3 teenagers into a very dangerous era, knowing well that there is a woman who is out to get them, purposely putting them in danger without the chaperone. Not only must they recover Hope’s mother, they must also seek out a stone that will allow them to travel wherever they choose to. So the result? These kids get almost killed, over and over again if it wasn’t for the Queen of the era they were traveling to overseeing their safety.

Also, the repetitiveness was strong in this one. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I found myself frustrated. No matter where these kids went, or did, they always got caught over and over again and had to find a way to escape over and over again. Honestly, I wanted to scream for them to just give up trying, it was only going to end the same anyway.

In the end, I guess a part of me enjoyed it, because the concept was interesting and now that I know that there seem to be only two books – I might eventually read the second just to see how it ends.

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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: Christmas in Destiny by Toni Blake

Posted December 21, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Christmas in Destiny by Toni BlakeChristmas in Destiny by Toni Blake
Series: Destiny #7
Published by Avon on October 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 358
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

“Go to Destiny. There’s something waiting there for you.”
Shane Dalton’s new life is waiting in Miami, complete with fast cars and faster women. But first, he’s heeding his father’s dying words and stopping off in Destiny, Ohio. The detour wasn’t supposed to include a busted pickup and a blizzard. But Candice Sheridan, the cute redhead who reluctantly offers shelter, could prove a pleasant diversion. Trouble is, she thinks Shane’s bad news. And he’s pretty sure she’s right . . .
Candice had her trust broken once before. Yet something about Shane won’t let her stay away. By Christmas, he’ll be gone. Until then, she’s itching to stop playing nice and safe . . . and try being a little naughty for once.
As their holiday romance heats up, Shane uncovers a shattering secret and Candice is preparing to face heartache once again. But there’s no better place than Destiny—especially at Christmastime—for two lost souls to find the gift of sweet, surprising love . . .
 

Shane Dalton is ready to face his new life in Miami, with a new job, fast cars and fast women. But first, he has to make a quick detour in Destiny, Ohio because of his father’s dying last words – that something is waiting for him there.

With now much, but the clothes on his back and a couple of dollars in his pocket, Shane finds himself broken down in Destiny in a middle of a snowstorm standing on Candice Sheridan’s doorsteps.
The last thing Candice expected was for a strange man to be pounding on her door in the middle of the night, worse? He is inviting himself to stay the night because his car has been in an accident. Candice doesn’t want a strange man staying at her home where she lives alone, but the stranger saves her cat when he runs off into the snowstorm, and she allows him to stay from the kindness of her heart.

Now Shane must find what his father was talking about, even if the only clue he has is what was in his father’s last dying breath. But it’s almost Christmas time and the town and with it’s people are slowly growing on him.

This was a really lovely romantic read for the holidays. I really adored Candice with her big, kind heart for allowing herself to get close to Shane even if she knew that there was a HUGE possibility that he was going to leave like he had planned.

I also adored all the town’s festivities they had planned for Christmas. With a Christmas wedding to a small little thing for the kids, Destiny sounded like a really cozy place.

The secondary characters were really amazing as well. I loved the way Shane encouraged Grampy to pursue his love interest, no matter what age. I did enjoy the whole air of mystery around Shane, even if it wasn’t that hard to figure out and the author hints at it really early in the book. I was really curious how it all turns out.

Overall, Blake really does an amazing job spinning the magic of the holidays with a dash of romance and a couple of really unforgettable characters with tons of chemistry.

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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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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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