Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review: The Romantics

The RomanticsAbout the Book:
Title: The Romantics
Author: Leah Konen
Pub. Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 336
Rating: 3.5/5 stars




Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell, The Romantics will charm readers of all ages. Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care. 

Review:

We've all heard the verse: Love is patient, Love is kind...well Love kinda got distracted and messed up the love life of 2 people that were supposed to be together forever. So the only logical thing to do, fix the love life of their son. Nothing could go wrong, right? The Romantics is a fun, quick read that will leave you laughing out loud and enjoying every second of reading. The book is fast-paced and well written, and I loved the unique twist of Love being the narrator of the story. The plot is lighthearted and cute, but predictable (only reason I gave it 3.5 stars instead of a full 4). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story, and I'll definitely be checking out more from Leah Konen in the future!

Having Love as our narrator added some hilarious commentary but also very relevant advice to all those who are dating. I did like the change of having the MC looking for love be male instead of female. It was a refreshing way to read a contemporary story, and I liked the different perspective. Gael was a great lead character for the story. You see he's a romantic, not the guy that's into romantic comedies or that mushy gushy stuff (he's actually the exact opposite); no, he's the guy that falls hard and falls fast...in other words he says those 3 big words way too quickly. He was definitely cute and I could easily tell who he was going to end up with in the end. Love's interventions in his life (without Gael knowing of course) caused some pretty spectacular moments in the book, and kept the story fun and unexpected.

I definitely recommend checking this out if you're looking for a quick, cute read that takes a different perspective than your classic love story. Even though the plot is sort of basic and predictable, it didn't make reading the story any less fun! Based off of the ending, I would love to see a sequel to this focusing on other characters. Leah Konen has a great talent for storytelling and she is one to watch!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #87

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves 
Publication Date: March 28th, 2017


Synopsis: 

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

While I wasn't a huge fan of Red Queen, this seems a little less predictable. I love fantasy novels and I'm always willing to give them a try. I love that this is war-based and it seems to have a large family aspect, which is a huge plus to me! I might just have to pre-order this one! 

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)Cassie's Waiting On: 


A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi 
Publication Date: March 28, 2017


Synopsis:

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.


I can't even tell you how excited I am for this book! Ms. Chokshi's first novel blew my mind and was brilliantly written so I can't even imagine how amazing this book will be.  I know it probably sounds like my hopes are high, and that's because they are....but I have no doubts that Ms. Chokshi will deliver another novel that will sweep me away and stick with me long after I finish reading!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Kingdom of Ash and BriarsAbout the Book:
Title: Kingdom of Ash and Briars
Author: Hannah West
Pub. Date: September 15, 2016
Publisher: Holiday House, Inc
Pages: 352
Rating: 3/5 stars




Synopsis:

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two - now three - after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince's band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

Review:

Kingdom of Ash and Briars is an interesting retelling of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and even a bit of Mulan, and will appeal to many readers. As a whole, the story is fast-paced and an exciting adventure. The characters are intriguing and you have this urge to read more to learn about the characters and see where the story is going. There were some things that I found just okay about the book, but it was fun read filled with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.

I greatly enjoyed Bristal's character and she was extremely relatable. The one thing I liked the most though was her relationships with the other characters. You could tell how much she cared about the 2 main girls that she cared for, and I liked how Hannah West wove the retelling aspect into these relationships. Even though this is a retelling of (mainly) Sleeping Beauty, the story isn't actually told from Rosie's (aka Sleeping Beauty) POV, it's told from the person who is protecting her. I thought this was a unique way Hannah West incorporate the fairy-tale aspect into the story while still maintaining her own spin on things. I definitely shipped Bristal and a certain other character (I don't want to reveal who it is since it actually does happen). I loved their interaction and I thought they were great for each other. I know a lot of people didn't actually like this aspect of the story, but I personally enjoyed it and thought Hannah West progressed their relationship in a realistic way. 

The plot itself was interesting, however I did have some problems with certain aspects. I thought the elicromancers were a fantastic element of the story, but I do wish it would have been expanded upon a bit. I found myself wanting just a bit more detail about the elicromancers and their history. We're given a general overview, which is plenty to get us through the story and understand the events of the war, but it would have been nice to have just a little bit more. Also, I would have liked to have a bit more characterization of the secondary characters. Many of them came across as very one-dimensional. Obviously, Bristal's character was very well-developed, and arguably she was the most important character in the story. However, I still think that even if the secondary characters don't play a huge role, they still need to be fleshed out more. Nevertheless, I still think the plot was well done, and Hannah West did an excellent job at incorporating different fairy-tales with magic and mystery.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a fun retelling that is a sure hit for fans of fast-paced fantasy and fairy-tales. There is a little something for everyone...magic, shape-shifting, love, death, and twists that you won't see coming. While there were some aspects of the story I felt could have been done better, I would definitely recommend checking this one out!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1)

About The Book:

  Title: Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1)
  Author: C.J. Roberts 
  Pub. Date: July 20th, 2011 
  Publisher: C.J. Roberts  
  Pages: 276 
  Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Erotica
  Rate: 5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

Review:

So I've never been a huge fan of dark erotica. And it's not that I don't like the genre - I think it's that every book I've read has never been anything spectacular to me. They were mostly corny or predictable. I downloaded Captive in the Dark when it was FREE on Kindle, that's right FREE. I think it might actually still be free. And I just chose to start reading it when I didn't want to turn my lights on at night to read a physical book. Boy, am I glad I did. Captive in the Dark absolutely blew me away. This should be the billboard book for the dark erotica genre, let me tell you what.


There were really only two characters - Olivia and Caleb. There were a few secondary characters but they honestly weren't that involved in the story to make a huge impact on me. However, Olivia and Caleb were more than enough characters for me. Both of them had so much angst in their life as well as passion for one another. Their story-line didn't make you feel short-changed at all, it just worked. The second book, however, looks like it might bring some new faces. I was extremely impressed with the author's ability to change perspectives and flashback, because it never felt confusing.  And while there's always a lot going on in this book,  it never gets messy.


This isn't a romance. 
You're not a damsel in distress and I'm not the handsome prince come to save you."

So, of course I purchased the second book on my kindle even though I have other ARCs I should be reading right now *hides*. But it's SO good. Now this book does deal with dark subjects like I said before. Rape, kidnapping, so if those are trigger situations for you, I'd stay away. But if you are a fan of this genre or erotica in general then DEFINITELY give this a try because I don't think that you'll be disappointed.



- Jocelyn

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #86

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller 
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017


Synopsis: 

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Honestly, I've never read a pirate book and there really isn't an excuse as to why. Daughter of the Pirate King seems adventurous but also fun! I think this will be a good one for me to try for my first pirate book. Luckily, it won't be too much of a wait! 

The White Road of The MoonCassie's Waiting On: 

The White Road of the Moon by Rachel Neumeir 
Publication Date: March 14, 2017

Synopsis:

Imagine you live with your aunt, who hates you so much she’s going to sell you into a dreadful apprenticeship. Imagine you run away before that can happen. Imagine that you can see ghosts—and talk with the dead. People like you are feared, even shunned.

Now imagine…the first people you encounter after your escape are a mysterious stranger and a ghost boy, who seem to need you desperately—though you don’t understand who they are or exactly what they want you to do. So you set off on a treacherous journey, with only a ghost dog for company. And you find that what lies before you is a task so monumental that it could change the world.

Their saying this is Leigh Bardugo meets The Sixth Sense so I'm very intrigued to it.  I feel like even though the synopsis is kind of long, I still am not totally sure what this book will be about so I'm hoping to be surprised.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blog Tour: Saying Goodbye

About the Book:

Title: Saying Goodbye: Part 1 (Passports and Promises #1)
Author: Abigail Drake
Publication date: September 10th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary


Synopsis:
Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world, and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.
All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.
Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.
--

Title: Saying Goodbye: Part 2 (Passports and Promises #1)
Author: Abigail Drake
Publication date: September 10th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary


Synopsis:
What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?
When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.
Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?
Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.

Author Bio:
Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.
Review:

Part One:

This is the first book I have read by Abigail Drake, but it certainly won't be my last! This book blew me away, and I certainly wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. With great writing and even better characters, Saying Goodbye, Part One is a book that all contemporary romance readers will love!

I think my favorite part of this story was the characters. There was fantastic characterization and I felt as if I knew every character in this book very well...even the side characters. Don't get me wrong, I would love to learn more about some of the side characters, but I think Ms. Drake did an amazing job at fleshing everyone out. She also never once relegated the side characters to the background. Everyone had a specific role to play in this story, and every character ultimately had an impact on helping to shape Samantha into the girl she was by the end of the story. Samantha, our MC, was a great lead. I never expected to connect to her as much as I did, but she was very real throughout the entire story. While I did think she was a bit unfair to Dylan (our romantic lead), I think she did what a lot of girls would in the situation she was in. Sam was attracted to Dylan right from the off and in the back of my mind, I knew that their relationship was headed in a not-so-good direction. Dylan was mysterious and charming and seemingly the perfect boyfriend. I was hoping I would be wrong, but when we find out a certain secret about Dylan's past, it changes the entire story. 

The other thing I appreciated about this story was the focus on friendship. Sam is extremely close with her two girlfriends throughout the story, and they stick together no matter what...even when something shocking happens. Sam is there for her friends (just as they are for her when she goes through some rough things), and the friendship they all have with each other is exactly what every person should have in his/her life. 

I can't say too much about the plot because I don't want to spoil anything, but trust me when I say that you will never see the conclusion coming. As I said, once we find out a big secret, the book takes an entirely new direction. It's a direction I never saw this book headed in, but it made the story that much more real and raw. Ms. Drake did an excellent job at handling the subject matter, and it was extremely well written. Suffice to say, Ms. Drake definitely left us with a shocker of an ending going into Part Two!

I would definitely recommend checking out this story if you are a fan of contemporary romance novels. Ms. Drake's writing is spectacular and I'm glad I had the ability to read Part Two right after I finished! 

Part Two:


Saying Goodbye, Part Two had a much different vibe than Part One, and it made me love the story even more! While the first part was very much the college romance story, this second part was more about Sam finding herself. It had a more quiet, calming essence that was introspective and reflective. And the setting...I couldn't think of a more perfect place for this part of the story to occur in. Japan has such a rich culture that is sure to jumpstart that travel bug in any reader. There is so much to love about this story, and Ms. Drake blew me away once again with her amazing storytelling.

Sam is a very different person in this book. Her characterization alone is amazing, and some of the best I have read. Obviously, the events that occurred at the end of Part One was going to affect her in a major way, but I don't think she even knew how much it would impact her future. Sam allows herself to grieve and overcome her troubles. She is dedicated to learning and becoming a new person...a better person...the person she is truly meant to be. And she definitely achieves that, although not through the way she would have originally expected. Sam meets new friends, one in particular that becomes something more. Thomas was such a great addition to the story, and he was exactly what Sam needed. He helped her realize things about herself, which added to her ultimate transformation. However, Sam's development is purely through her own doing. And that was where the beauty of this story shone through. 

As with the first book, there is a pretty big plot twist that occurs, and just as in the first part, it made the story move in an entirely new direction. My heart broke for Sam multiple times while I was reading, and I think that is why I loved these stories so much. Ms. Drake has this way of writing that makes the emotions so tangible. These characters feel as if they are your friends (or even a part of you) and you can easily relate to them. Who among us hasn't endured a loss and had it affect every aspect of their life? You feel lost and confused and maybe even a bit of guilt. But at the end of the day you overcome and build yourself back up. And while that pain might still be with you, you learn how to live your life to the fullest. There was one scene in particular involving a letter to Sam that made me tear up a bit (okay okay...I was gross sobbing and it was definitely not a pretty sight). So you definitely need some tissues for that part! I'm warning you now!

The setting was also so perfectly written. I've wanted to travel to Japan for awhile now, but this book made me want to go even more. However, what I liked is that Ms. Drake didn't just focus on the beauty of Japan and the culture that is in all the textbooks. She decided to also shine the light on the underbelly of the city. This just added to the realistic nature of the story, and something that I appreciated. I applaud Ms. Drake for not shying away from the shocking and seedy underbelly that lies in the city. It reinforces the idea of two sides to every story (a very common theme in her books). 

I would highly recommend checking out the Saying Goodbye series as it is not to be missed! With amazing characters and a beautifully written story, Ms. Drake crafts a wonderful novel that is sure to stay with you long after you finish reading. I hope there are more novels in this series about the side characters because I would love to know what happens to them in the future. Definitely read this as soon as you can!


Average rating for both parts: 

Happy reading :)



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~Cassie

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

About The Book:

  Title: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2) 
  Author: Sabaa Tahir 
  Pub. Date: August 30th, 2016 
  Publisher: Razorbill 
  Pages: 464 
  Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, High Fantasy 
  Rate: 4.5/5 stars




Synopsis :

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Review:

“You are a torch against the night - if you dare to let yourself burn."

Torch Against the Night is the follow up to An Ember in the Ashes, which was one of the most popular books of 2015. It picks up right where An Ember in the Ashes left off. Torch had all of our favorite characters back in full force, and I couldn't be happier to see them again. The plot was steady and kept me glued to the pages. It was a great read, and I'd definitely recommend it to all fantasy lovers.

If you would have told me at the end of the last book that I would love Helene Aquilla, I wouldn't have believed it. I felt like I couldn't really connect with her in book one. Helene is an added POV in this book and it WORKS. I wouldn't have thought it works. Ringer's point of view really hurt my opinion of The Infinite Sea just because she wasn't a character I connected to. However, this was nothing like that. She was kickass and we got to see a more sensitive side to her. The only thing keeping me from giving this book a full 5 stars is that I feel like I didn't see a lot of character growth from Laia. She seemed a lot like book one Laia and maybe even more selfish than she was in Ember.

“But you are dead. You just don't know it yet."

Torch Against the Night is a fantastic follow-up to An Ember in the Ashes. It had everything I want to see in a second book: passion, love, surprises, magic, and more. This added on so much to how much I loved the first book and the characters,  I can't wait to see where Ms. Tahir takes this series next. Have you read A Torch Against the Night? How do you like it compared to Ember?


“When you love, there is always more pain."


- Jocelyn