Monday, June 11, 2018

The Testing (The Testing, #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

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Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honoured to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every gruelling (and deadly) day of the Testing.

To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

The pacing was slow at the very beginning of the book when the author was setting up the world and establishing the main character. I had a hard time paying attention and getting invested in the story. I had heard that the story becomes more fast paced when the candidates reach the testing center which turned out to be true. I was glued to the story from that point on and the pacing steadily increased as the testing phases were completed.

I really liked Cia. She seemed like a jack of all trades type of character in her skill set but wasn't a warrior by any means. She mostly used her intellect to solve the problems she encountered which I admired. She didn't seem like the typical heroine that kicks butt. I enjoyed that she was more of a pacifist and wanted to believe the best in people. I feel like there is a fine line between optimism and naivete in characters and feel that the author was able to strike the right balance with Cia.

I enjoyed the book but I wish that it hadn't reminded me do much of The Hunger Games. The similarities distracted me from the story and I feel that I could have enjoyed it even more if that weren't the case.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

I had heard good things about The Wicked Deep. People seemed to be very excited about a book that had witches that were a bit like sirens. I decided to give it a try because I have been wanting to find a good fantasy novel to sink my teeth into. I loved the eerie, creepy tone to it and the characters in the story were interesting. It felt like each of them had a secret and I wanted to read more so that I could uncover it. 

While I liked this book, the direction that the author took the story in wasn't for me. My problem was the romance and how everything happened for Penny, Bo, and the three sisters. The ending that the author leaves readers with is more of a depressing or bittersweet ending. The romance was quick to begin with but then feels forced towards the very end. There was a feeling of Bo settling for second best that I didn't like that made the ending of the book feel like no one really got a happy ending. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

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In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price...
Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there's anything I've learned from him in the years since, it's that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice.

I tried to finish this book but eventually DNF at 55%. It was upsetting for me because it is a good book. The writing is great as is the world that the author created. I found the story interesting and thought that the author had fresh ideas on witches and monsters/demons. 
My issue with the book was the pacing. I felt like the story dragged and got bogged down in details such as chores the main character had to complete and bone witch training. I was waiting for something to happen. I wanted some conflict or for the book to be heading somewhere. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Talker 25 (Talker 25 #1) by Joshua McCune

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Debut author Joshua McCune's gritty and heart-pounding novel is a masterful reimagining of popular dragon fantasy lore, set in a militant future reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker and Ann Aguirre's Outpost.
It's a high school prank gone horribly wrong-sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon-and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune's debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.

Talker 25 reminded me a lot of How to Train Your Dragon if it was set in a militaristic society and was much darker. I enjoyed the darker tone of the story and certain characters' flawed and twisted logic when it came to dragons. The author presents the reader with the question of "If one person or animal does something horrible, does that make all of them evil?" 
Melissa has hated dragons for years because of what happened to her family but she comes to realize that humans and dragons can both make choices with deadly consequences for either side. 
I thought that the concept for this book was interesting but I would have liked to see it carried out in a clearer and more concise way. As I was reading it, it felt like the author jumped from one event to the next without any kind of fluidity or explanation. This led to me feeling confused and then frustrated because there would usually be a lull in the book right after. It seemed like characters were repeating certain lines of dialogue over and over. The same things kept happening without any kind of change and then the book ended in a predictable way to lead into the sequel. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I didn't really have this book on my radar of things to read but I wasn't avoiding it either. I had heard it mentioned a few times and thought that the premise was a relevant and powerful one.
Have you ever started a book that you knew would change how the world looks to you? So much that nothing will ever be the same? I think that I knew that going into this book. 

It is clear from my rating that I loved this book and found it to be a very meaningful read. I decided that I'm not going to focus on why I loved The Hate You Give in this review but rather why I feel that it is so important that you read it. I believe that there is so much hate in the world. Hate like the racism that is on display in this book. Why? What is the point? To keep people lower than others? To show them they don't have as much value as others with different skin color or culture or money? What gives anyone that right? People like the characters in  this story make choices everyday and you never know why unless you have a conversation with them instead of assuming you know everything about them using snap second judgments. 

Everyone should read The Hate You Give because it covers this topic very well. The author doesn't say that any one race or job title makes a person evil but rather that lives matter. Black lives matter. I realize that this is a work of fiction bur it doesn't need to be approached that way. The events that take place in this book happen to real flesh and blood people. The only way to change the world is to recognize that these events happen. Don't turn a blind eye and question the messages that you hear in the media and from those around you. Read this book. Take the messages in it to heart. Listen and use the power of your voice for good. Speak out and let yourself  be heard. I promise that if you read it, you will not be disappointed. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

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One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian DIVERGENT series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

I tried to read Insurgent a while back but I couldn't get past the first 100 pages. I thought that maybe it just wasn't for me but after reading the entire thing I have changed my mind. I think that I may have just been burnt out from reading at that point or needing to read a different genre. This is one of the best sequels that I have read. The continuation of the story is so well done unlike other sequels that I have read. I think that sometimes authors may not have a clear direction which makes them try too hard. They end up adding unnecessary elements to the story that over-complicate things. 
I loved the direction the author took Insurgent in. It added a complexity to the story by delving deeper into the flaws of their society and each faction's reaction to them. I also thought that the author showed the effects of events in Divergent well. Tris clearly has PTSD from having to shoot Will as well as witnessing her parents being killed. She is hypervigilent in her search for truth and justice, she has nightmares/flashbacks, and is constantly throwing herself into dangerous situations with no regard for her safety. I can see why people love her so much.
I do feel that I have to disagree with other readers on her relationship with Four. I'm not sure I'm convinced that it is a good relationship because neither of them seem to fully trust each other. They keep things from each other and are not open about their feelings. I didn't like Four as much in this one. He is too hardened by the world around him to empathize fully with what Tris is dealing with. 
I was shocked by the reveal at the end of the book. I did not see that coming at all. I'm now wondering what will happen in the next book and how each of the leaders in this book will react to the information that was revealed. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen #2) by Emily R. King

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In the second book in The Hundredth Queen Series, Emily R. King once again follows a young warrior queen’s rise to meet her destiny in a richly imagined world of sorcery and forbidden powers.

Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.

But as Kalinda’s tournament strengths are once again challenged, so too is her relationship with Deven. While Deven fears her powers, Ashwin reveres them—as well as the courageous woman who wields them. Kalinda comes to regard Ashwin as the only man who can repair a warring world and finds herself torn between her allegiance to Deven and a newly found respect for the young prince.

With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?

While I thought that this book was good, I liked the first one better. I think that the story was well put together with pacing that was appropriate to pronounce the tension. The Fire Queen was still good but felt somewhat contrived. The new characters that were introduced didn't really add anything to the story. They felt pretty bland but the characters from the first book show more growth. I loved seeing Deven and Kalinda grow and change as characters together and separate from each other. Kali grows more into her powers and her role as kindred. I respected her decisions because I felt she made the right ones even if they were hard for her and we're things that she want to do. 
It was difficult to differentiate between who was on who's side in the book because it seemed like everyone was against Kali and her friends. The author added more villains to the mix in this book although I feel as if many of them will have been eliminated by the third installment. I'm hoping that the author won't add any more bad guys in the third installment of the series because it would be too much.
There were things that happened that were a little too convenient so I think that Kali has some traitors among her group. I'm not exactly sure what will happen going forward in the series but I'm hoping that Kali and Ash win will be able to restore their kingdom to what it should have been all along. A peaceful place where people work together in harmony respecting each other despite differences.

Stealing Snow (Stealing Snow #1) by Danielle Paige

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First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

I haven't read any alternative versions of Snow White so this book was new for me unless you count the lunar chronicles.  I enjoyed Danielle Paige's version. She added a darkness and psychological elements that made the book hard to put down. I loved the world that she created that involved magic and so many different motives for wanting power. I enjoyed the fantastical elements to the world she created including the animals made of snow and ice as well as the witches that looked the elements that they wielded
The main problems I had with the story were the pacing and the main character Snow. The pacing felt slow to me which made the book drag on. There were times when it was hard to pay attention because it felt like nothing was happening. Another thing that made the book difficult for me yo enjoy was Snow. She clearly had anger issues. She hurt those around her and didn't seem to give a crap about it. She was extremely selfish. I tried to understand her feelings about entering a new world where people expect her to be a hero but to completely turn your back on that for one person?! I found her to be unlikable and had to constantly tell myself to give her a chance. I didn't understand how there were so many love interests when she didn't have many or any redeeming qualities. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) by Emily R. King

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He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.
As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

I enjoyed the stories of the gods and what the powers are like for the half-demon/ half-gods. It reminded me slightly of the last Airbender with the use of elements and being able to draw on them but with the difference of the powers being within and not necessarily having to draw on the environment to use them. 
I loved the authors writing style. She had the ability to draw me into the story without having to write about battles or bloodshed. In this way, the book reminded me a lot of The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adieh but with a less romantic feel and more of an inner warrior fighting against tyranny vibe. 
I could have done without the familiar tropes that are included in the book as well as the romance. I feel like these things just got in the way of the story and didn't add as much. I felt that some of the characters motivations were confusing and I couldn't understand why they made the decisions that they did unless it all came down to power and jealousy above all else. I would have liked to have seen different reasons and explanations of their actions to make them more relatable and three dimensional. 

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌓 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is a world divided by blood - red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

I'm not exactly sure why I waited so long to read the Red Queen. I know that I wasn't thrilled with the amount of hype that it received and I'm pretty sure that numerous people told me that it wasn't that great. I decided the other day that I would just take the plunge and finally read it to know for myself if it was great or terrible. 
I'm really confused as to why people told me that it wasn't good. From the moment I began reading this book, I was entranced. There is not much that happens in the first few pages but the tension emanating from Mare is incredible! Her personality became clear very quickly. I immediately felt a kinship with her and liked her. She doesn't fall for the intimidation tactics of the silvers and has her own mind although she is humble enough ti see that there are other sides to issues in her world. 

The author does not go into depth when building the world but the slow, steady  progression was the perfect way to set up what things are like for the people. I also appreciated that the author speaks about the difficulties that all of the people in the world are facing not just the poor and downtrodden. It doesn't take the author long to have the book progress into what will become the main story line of the book. I was afraid for Mare and what took place there would mean for her going forward. 

I really enjoyed the characters and the amount of depth that they had. It seemed like all of the characters in Red Queen felt important to Victoria Aveyard because even the minor characters had some sort of conflict that they had dealt with or were currently dealing with. An example of this is that the reader only gets to know snippets about Mare's father but it adds to his character and how it shapes her family. I suspected who the villains were because things just seemed too neat and easy. I didn't believe that things could happen that easily or turn out that well. There are a few characters that I am not sure of their motivations after finishing Red Queen but I'm sure that things were clear up in the sequel. I feel like there was a hint if insta love which annoyed me but since romance was not heavily focused on I didn't dwell on it too much. 

I did feel like I have seen many of the parts of the story before in other books that I am familiar with. I am hoping that the series will diverge from that so that it becomes more unique. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L'Engle

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It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I want to start this review off by saying that I haven't seen the movie so I don't know if it is better or worse than the book. If the trailer is any indication, it seems like the director and writers included at least certain parts of the book in the movie. A Wrinkle in Time seemed like an interesting book but I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it until the movie came out. The trailers for the movie made the book seem more interesting to me so I figured I would give it a chance. 
I did think that the book was interesting but I wasn't in love with it. When Meg and company go on a mission to rescue her father things got a bit too religious and philosophical for my taste. That's not really something that I want a book to focus too heavily on when it is a children's book. I think that I ended up having a problem with it mainly because it was so on the nose. It wasn't subtle at all. I also had some trouble getting into the book at first due to the writing style and language that the author used. I'm not big on historical novels even if it is historical fiction so it turned me off of the book for the first 30 pages or so.  I also felt that things were resolved too easily. A character would say let's go accomplish this and then they would band together with others and it would be accomplished without any kind of exploration of things that went wrong or could go wrong. I wanted more conflict than there was in this story. That being said A Wrinkle in Time is certainly imaginative. The author creates a colorful fantastical world that I wanted to know more about. I wish that she would have explored it more in this book but I suppose you have to read on in the series to get more of that. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

ISAN by Mary Ting

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The world has changed.

Scientists warned it would happen.

Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.

Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.

While on a mission, she is abducted by a rebel group led by Rhett and told that not only does she have a history with him, but her entire past is a lie perpetuated by ISAN to ensure her compliance. Unsure of who to trust, Ava must decide if her strangely familiar and handsome captor is her enemy or her savior—and time is running out.

*This ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I thought that the premise was very interesting. I like the idea of an agency that trains assassins and also the concept of having them injected with a special serum that makes them far more effective than they would otherwise be. It reminded me of Captain America in that regard with the exception of the assassins having to be injected every time they have a mission. 
I liked the main character. She wasn't naive by any means but is trying to survive is a world where she is essentially alone. When she is given a choice between remaining in juvenile detention or joining ISAN, she chooses ISAN which she feels is a no brainer. She comes to realize that all is not what it seems and that she may not last long there if her usefulness runs out. I enjoyed her tough take no prisoners attitude. She was pretty bada$$ and reminded me of a greener version of Nikita. 
I thought that the storyline was well done and I look forward to reading the next installment to see what choices Ava will make while at ISAN. I'm hoping that the author will explain more about the world and Ava's past. I got the gist of why there was so much destruction and why food was harder to come by but I'm not sure that I understand the governing body of the world that Mary Ting created. 

Anonymous by L.P. Dover

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Synopsis:Every person has a story to tell. Some may be sweet with a happily ever after, but there are others that end in tragedy. Mine has yet to be finished.
My name is Elizabeth Kingston and this is where my story begins.
I never thought my life could be so perfect. I have an amazing job owning my own bakery, and a wonderful husband who I love and who loves me back. Never once did I have to worry about anything, at least, not until the texts started coming in. They always begin the same way … numbers that spell my nickname when read upside down.
It’s someone from my past, only they won’t to tell me who they are, but that by talking to them, I’ll figure it out. It’s a game I refuse to play. Unfortunately, I’m left with no choice when things begin to take a dangerous turn.
His name is Anonymous and there’s only one thing he wants … ME.

*ARC provided through Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I love thrillers that make me feel tense and afraid for the main character and those around them. Anonymous fit the bill! I had meant to read this until I began to get drowsy one night but I became so captivated by the story that I ended up staying up and finishing it in one night. I had to know what was going to happen! I enjoyed the progression of the book from the first moment that Elizabeth is contacted by her stalker on. At first, it seemed like a harmless text but it quickly turns into something far more dangerous and sinister. I loved the tone of the story which I attribute to the writing style of the author as well as the choices and personality of the main character. Elizabeth doesn't want to believe that there is someone out there that means her harm but eventually can't wish away what is happening. There is someone watching her. Someone that wants her for his own. 
I thought that the identity of the stalker was obvious but I enjoyed how everything played out in the story. The reasoning behind the stalker's motives made sense and in the end the author showed what a twisted and skewed perception he had. I wish that the book would have been longer. i woud have liked to have seen the stalker developed even more and maybe even had his point of view in the story. I thought that the characters actually made decisions using common sense which I appreciated. I could understand why they made certain choices because I believe that I would have made similar ones. 

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars #1) by Frank Beddor

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Yet another version of Alice in Wonderland that I have fallen in love with...Why can't someone besides Marissa Meyer do this with Cinderella and other fairy tale stories?

Alyss of Wonderland?When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss' story - and he's searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.

It's funny...I think that I have a thing for Alice in Wonderland. I keep finding and reading books based off of the original books but with a twist that makes them different. I find it even more hilarious that I have yet to read the original books that started it all. Anyway, I just finished reading the The Looking Glass Wars which is the first in a trilogy by Frank Beddor. The books focus on the story of Alyss Hart who journeys through the pool of tears after her Aunt Redd stages a coup to take back control of Wonderland by murdering anyone that stands in her way. 

I enjoyed Frank Beddor's take on Alyss, Wonderland, and all of the other characters I have come to love and appreciate through all the versions I have read. It was interesting to see these characters interact and change within the setting that the author placed them. The Looking Glass Wars was a much darker version of Alice in Wonderland which is probably because there is a war happening between white imagination users and black imagination users or Redd vs. Alyss. So, if you picture the characters as generals, bodyguards, and assassins then you have a pretty good idea of how they are changed in this book. I loved Alyss as a character though I found her to be whiny in the beginning. The portion of the book when she was not in Wonderland was a bit slow which made for a slower pace to the book. However, the pace was helped along by the characters that remained in Wondreland and were fighting the good fight. There were fight scenes mainly during the beginning and ending of the book with a smattering a different points with action throughout. 

I think that my main problem with the story besides the slower pacing to it was the fact that Alyss becomes a warrior very quickly despite the rough beginning as well as having assimilated to the world of London in the 1800s. I found it very convenient that she was able to progress in her imaginative powers so quickly after not using them for so long. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Infinity (The Infinity Division #1) by Jus Accardo

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Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away… That’s taking it a step too far.

Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.

Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Koris, infinite Cades…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.

Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

I was excited when I heard that Jus Accardo was writing a new series that involved parallel dimensions because I had loved The Eternal Balance series so much. I thought that the story line was interesting but I was hoping for something more originalI felt like I had read this story many times over already and loved them. This along with the predictability of the story made it very difficult for me to pay attention and love this story as much. 
I had a hard time with the characters because I thought that the love interest was bland and the main character was a bit too ready to run into trouble rather than thinking her actions through. She was a bit of a spoiled brat which turned me off from liking her. 
I also didn't understand why the romance aspect of the book was shoved in the readers face so much throughout the story. I felt like there was too much attention on that and not enough on the people that were suffering because of the technology to travel to different dimensions. I honestly didn't care what happened to either character due to being annoyed by the author repeating that they couldn't be together over and over. I just wanted to yell "I get it! Now move on!"

Everless (Everless #1) by Sara Holland

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The movie In Time would have been a better movie if it was based on this book!

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I've seen how a lot of reviews have compared this book to the movie In Time with Justin Timberlake. While I can definitely see the similarities, Everless is far better. I loved the world that Sara Holland created wherein blood equates to a person's amount of time left to live as well as currency used. I could easily see how a society could equate to a shortened life span and corruption. These types of things were spoken or hinted about in Everless and I'm hoping that Sara Holland will take it a step farther in the sequel. I think that she can easily do this considering how Everless ended. I think that the sequel needs to be even darker in order for the tension to grow. 
I thought that the addition of the mythology was interesting but a bit difficult to follow at times. I think that that portion of the story line would have been better served by the author sticking to one version of the story of the sorceress and alchemist. That is...unless the reader is supposed to be confused much like the main character was. 
I thought that the heroes and villains were easy to guess. It seemed fairly obvious due to big reactions to information by certain characters. I didn't feel that some of the characters in the book were necessary. It felt like they were just there to be some sort of filler for the story. 
The romance, if you want to call it that, felt forced. Then there was the weirdness between the main character and another boy. It seems like that might turn into more which happened a bit fast for my taste. I mean how can you hate someone and then suddenly think you could have a thing for them?! It makes no sense.
I was able to overlook the minor annoyances I had with pieces of the book because I thought that the idea behind the book was amazing. It seemed so different from what I have read before and I enjoyed the novelty.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Defiance (Defiance #1) by C.J. Redwine

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 out of 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Defiance by C. J. Redwine is rich postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce.
While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel's father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city's brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father's apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Wow! C. J. Redwine had me hooked from the first page of this book! I remember thinking that that Defiance sounded like my kind of book when it came out but I had no idea that it would be this awesome!  I like to take time to digest a book after I have read it to see if I can find fault with anything and I couldn't think of anything that I didn't like about this book. 

The story was crafted well. The pacing was amazing because there was always something happening which ensured that I was never bored while reading.  The author was able to strike the perfect balance of having an action-packed story but not overwhelming the reader with too much at once. 

We first meet Rachel as she is waiting by the wall for her father to return after one of his journeys. It is clear that she is feeling desperate for some shred of hope that he is out there somewhere alive. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the world is not what it once was and that the leaders are bloodthirsty and have been driven mad with power. Surprise, surprise...leaders that are horrible. I feel like every book has them to come extent but I didn't care about that. 

I loved the characters in this book! They were each strong and powerful in their own right. Oliver was a gentle soul that fought to keep his loved ones safe in a more subdued manner. Logan had a darkness inside of him that he attempted to keep under wraps around others and was highly intelligent but also an amazing fighter. Rachel acted without entirely thinking things through but was not afraid to be herself. She could be ruthless at times but it was in the quest for revenge. I actually really enjoyed the villain in Defiance as well. He was intense, brutal, and cunning. He tried to be three steps ahead of his enemies and would use or kill anyone regardless of the consequences. I loved to hate him while I read the book. 

I enjoyed the relationships in the book and was happy to see the relationship between Rachel and Oliver due to its familial nature. Sometimes, books will only focus on the love interest so it was fun to have the book spend some time on this particular relationship. I thought that the pacing of the relationship between Rachel and Logan was really well done. It didn't seem rushed or forced. It felt natural. 

Overall, Defiance was a fantastic beginning to the trilogy and I am excited to read what the author has in store for the characters in the next book! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Traitor Born (Secondborn #2) by Amy A. Bartol

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Rebel warrior Roselle St. Sismode returns in the second book of the epic Secondborn series by USA Today bestselling author Amy A. Bartol.
In the Fates Republic…
Firstborns reign supreme.
Secondborns kneel in servitude.
Thirdborns face death.
And Census shadows them all.

Secondborn Roselle St. Sismode was pressed into military service to battle the rebel uprising threatening the society that enslaves her. Now, powerful factions conspire to subvert the lines of succession, positioning Roselle to replace her mother as leader of the Republic’s armed forces. But the woman who bore her would sooner see Roselle dead than let her usurp her firstborn brother’s command.

The deadly war of intrigue between her new masters and her ruthless family is but one conflict challenging Roselle. A soldier for the rebellion has drawn her into a rogue army’s plot to overthrow the Republic and shatter its brutal caste system. Targeted by assassins and torn between allies, Roselle’s loyalty, love, and honor will be tested in the greatest battle of—and for—her life.

*I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I was extremely excited to get an ARC of this book! I read Secondborn and I loved it but that ending left me with questions. I had to know more! I feel like that is Amy Bartol's signature when she is writing a series. After every book she leaves readers wanting more because of the cliffhangers that she leaves them with at the end. Traitor Born is no different in that regard. That ending will haunt me until the next installment in the series is released!  Amy Bartol is such an amazing writer that she is the only author that I will put up with cliffhangers from. Traitor Born is the second book in the SecondBorn series so if you have not read the first book then you should stop reading this review as there may be spoilers. 

This book begins with Roselle living in the Fate of Virtues, under the protection of Fabian Bowie. She finds herself in dangerous situations as more attempts on her life are taken. She is surrounded by different rebel factions that would see her put in a position of power each for their own reasons. I honestly don't know if any of them have her best interests at heart. Each of the groups just seem to want a seat at the table so to speak. Some of the hidden agendas are revealed and Agent Crow is back! I despise him! I hope that he meets the end of Roselle's fusionblade! 

Then there are the men in Roselle's life....Need I say more?! The author has taken this book a step further as it is not a love triangle. It seems more like a love square which leaves me somewhat bewildered but it somehow still works. I'm not sure who everyone else is rooting for but I am team Reykin all the way! I think that Salloway has his own agenda and is lusting after Roselle more than anything else. Hawthorne is a nice guy but seems naive and is living in the past. I feel that Roselle has outgrown him to a certain extent. 

I honestly did not see the ending of the book happening. I mean I was able to guess some of what would happen but Amy totally took it all to a different level. I have to say that I was heartbroken about parts of what happened. I'm still holding out hope that certain characters are going to be okay but I guess I have to wait a year to find out. Argh! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This Time Around (Love in the Heartland #1) by Stacey Lynn

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Cooper Hawke was everything I didn’t need. Rich and famous, and a high-profile actor, he lived a life of luxury while my life had always been much more simple.
Yet when he showed up at my cattle ranch in Kansas, he gave me everything I didn’t think I wanted again.
His marriage was over and he was lost.
I was still barely surviving in my grief after my husband’s sudden death.
As hard as I tried to keep him out, he slipped past my defenses, and slowly, a connection grew between us I could no longer deny.
But this time around, we were on borrowed time. Because Cooper still had his real life waiting for him back in Hollywood.
*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review*
I thought that this was a cute romance that was a quick and easy read. The characters were genuinely good, down to earth people that I feel readers will like. I know that I enjoyed having characters that were each flawed but didn't have any kind of traumatic past or addictions. It was a nice break from novels like that and I appreciated it. Each of them were let down by their other halves within the context of their marriages. In other words, they each have had a hard go of it and find the healing that they need through each other. This book was not all hearts and flowers due to the sad nature of how Rebecca lost her husband but I found that it didn't put my heart through a blender either. I liked the book but I'm not sure that I connected to it the way that the author meant for me too. I was sad for Cooper and Rebecca but I wasn't as emotionally pulled in as I wanted to be. I think that if their relationship would have been developed more or if there were flashbacks of each of their relationships, the story would have had the depth needed to pull me in more. I also would have liked for certain ideas to have been developed more like what happened between Rebecca and her husband before he died. I would think that would complicate her grieving process but I feel that was not really shown throughout the book. It is mentioned and then brought up again towards the end of the book in greater depth.
“What are you doing here?” I wrapped the robe around my waist, tightened the knot.
Goddamn it! He wasn’t supposed to see this.
“Couldn’t sleep?”
That was what he asked. The urge to scream at him, to unleash holy terror for putting the idea into my head and making me feel, clawed at my throat. “No. Why are you in my room?”
“Because I couldn’t sleep on the couch thinking of you and then I started hearing all this racket like the ceiling was going to cave in on my head and thought I should come check on you.”
My brain must have malfunctioned. I must have skipped some words, rearranged them in the wrong order. He didn’t say what it sounded like.
He pinned me with a look. It stole the breath from my lungs. “You heard me.”
“Yeah, shit.”
I slammed my mouth closed. If words were slipping out, when I didn’t mean them to, it was best to be quiet.
“Come out of the closet, Rebecca.”
He held out his hand. I ignored it.
I couldn’t breathe or move or focus.
He was standing outside my closet, and he was naked.
Not naked, naked. Mostly naked. He’d taken off the pants and shirt I’d given him and all he had on was a pair of black boxer briefs.
Skin-tight boxer briefs.
That showed every outline of him. And there was a lot of him to see.
My eyes darted to the side of the closet I’d swiped clean. Tomorrow, I’d bleach my eyes to erase that visual.
“I’m fine here.”
He laughed low and slow, beautiful and over too quickly. I was not moving.
“You don’t come out, I’m coming in there to get you.”
No way in hell was he touching me. Not dressed like that.
I stepped over the bucket of shoes at my feet and stepped into the room. He moved back, giving me space and crossed his arms over his chest.
It hid nothing. I couldn’t find a place to focus on.
I was losing my mind. It had to be sleep deprivation. I looked to my bed and ruffled covers which made me think of…
Nope. Not going there. I stared at the wall. It was cream and void of any decorations or photos. It was safe.
Finally, I breathed. He stood there, watching me, I felt it like I felt my skin crawling from his inspection.
“Want to talk about this?” he asked.
Nope. I didn’t. I didn’t want to say a single word to Cooper Hawke. The man in underwear in my bedroom.
I crossed my arms over my stomach. Uncrossed them. “No.” My hands went to my hair and I untangled my hair tie, shoving my hands back into my hair and re-fixing the messy knot. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I might be able to help, you know. It’s not like I haven’t stood in a closet, wanting to do the exact same thing you’ve just done.”
“You can’t help me.”
He stepped closer. I shuffled back. He moved again. I retreated. He was getting closer when he needed to move back.
“Cooper,” I said, “Please. I need to be alone.”
“I thought we were friends.”
“What?” My gaze jumped to him, fell. Tight, tanned skin and black boxer briefs. A trail of hair from his bellybutton that disappeared beneath those briefs burned into my retinas. I squeezed my eyes closed. A futile attempt to erase that pretty, pretty sight.
“I thought we were friends,” he repeated.
I forced my eyes open and choked out, “We are.”
His full lips quirked into a grin. I knew that look. He had it downstairs. I did not like that look. Not one little bit. “Friends help each other, don’t they?”
“Friends respect what the other person wants and needs.”
I scooted away from him again and bumped into the wall next to my closet.
He took one more step toward me. Slowly. Like he’d done downstairs, allowing me time to move away, allowing me time to see his intention. My head screamed to move out of the way while my body shouted stay right where you are.
My body sucked.
He was in front of me, not touching me. Far enough away where he was in no danger of touching me.
I still wanted him to touch me.
His hand raised and he settled it on the wall above my shoulder. And I could smell him.
“Cooper. Why are you here?”
He didn’t even blink. “Because I want to help you.”
“You can’t.”
“I can try.”

About the Author
Stacey Lynn currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. When she’s not conquering mountains of laundry and fighting a war against dust bunnies and cracker crumbs, you can find her playing with her children, curled up on the couch with a good book, or on the boat with her family enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful, yet too short, summer.
She lives off her daily pot of coffee, can only write with a bowlful of Skittles nearby, and has been in love with romance novels since before she could drive herself to the library.
If you would like to know more about Stacey Lynn, follow her here:
Twitter: @staceylynnbooks
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