Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: Ice Kissed (Kanin Chronicles #2)

Iced Kissed (Kanin Chronicles #2) by Amanda Hocking
Publication Date: May 5, 2015

In the majestic halls of a crystal palace lies a secret that could destroy an entire kingdom…

Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…and the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal enemy that’s been threatening the Kanin, and Bryn is there to help. Being half Skojare herself, it’s also a chance for her to learn more about her lost heritage. Her boss, Ridley Dresden, is overseeing her mission, but as their undeniable attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level—one neither of them is prepared for.

As they delve deeper into the Skojare world, they begin to unravel a long-hidden secret. The dark truth about her own beloved Kanin kingdom is about to come to light, and it will change her place in it forever…and threaten everyone she loves.
  


Ice Kissed is a great sequel in the Kanin Chronicles (see my review for the first novel, Frostfire here ) that is full of action, adventure, and romance. It will definitely please fans of the series and Amanda Hocking fans alike. Full of deception and betrayals at every turn, you never know what to expect! The story will have you on the edge of your seat (most times), and leave you breathless until the very last page. The ending of this novel alone makes this entire book worth reading, and in you will be longing to get your hands on the next book. Let me tell you, I'm expecting BIG things to happen in the next book based off of this ending, and I know Amanda Hocking will not let me down. It is going to be one killer finale!

I was very excited for this novel as I have always loved the world Amanda Hocking created originally in the Trylle Trilogy. This book made me remember why I loved the world so much. Rich and lush descriptions of Skojare palace left you feeling like you were actually there, with the coldness and conspiracy seeping into your bones. Suffice to say, I loved the entire time Bryn was in the Skojare palace. There were so many twists and turns that happened during this time that I couldn't stop reading.

The plot of this novel was also very good. However, the reason I had to go down a bit in the actual rating was the up and down feeling of the plot. I know I didn't go down much, but this aspect of the plot did prevent me from actually giving it a full 5 stars. For me, there were parts of this book that were absolutely phenomenal and I couldn't read fast enough, but then there were other parts that I felt were added just to make the book longer or just were just kind of there. As such, there were highs and lows. These parts weren't exactly boring, but they weren't really necessary either. I guess what I mean is that I didn't find it as exciting as the first book. Don't get me wrong, the story was still an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, but not as much of a thrill ride as the first book in the series.

However, the writing was still amazing as ever. I have always loved Amanda Hocking's writing. She crafts such wonderful worlds that you simply never want to leave. And when you pick up her stories again, it feels like coming home. That is always the sign of a good storyteller. She gives her characters so much growth and depth that you feel as if you truly know these characters, but you never get bored with them either. In the end, they feel like friends. Bryn is such a strong heroine, and I have loved her character from the beginning. She has such a determination to succeed and overcome all of the obstacles that are in her path. She never lets her differences get to her, and always does her own thing. Most importantly, Bryn never loses herself or give into others demands of what is expected of her. She lives her own life, how she wants to live her life.

The romance in this one is steamy, especially one scene in particular. You'll know exactly what scene I'm talking about once you read it. And trust me, it will leave you fangirling so hard. I have shipped Ridley and Bryn from the moment I met them, and this book just made my shipping of them go into overdrive. They are seriously so perfect and one of my favorite couples. As long as Konstantin doesn't interfere with their relationship, I'll be a happy fangirl.

Overall, while there were parts that weren't the most exciting, Ice Kissed is still a very worthy sequel in the Kanin Chronicles, and is not to be missed by fans of the series. If you haven't checked this series out yet, you need to because you don't want to miss out on a new favorite!! I can't wait for the final book, Crystal Kingdom as it is sure to be an amazing end to an amazing series (I'll be reviewing it next week)!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Popular series I haven't read … yet


Yes, I have not read that series! There are so many super popular book series that I am almost embarrassed to say that I haven't read yet.    I bet they are really great. It is especially upsetting because I gave so much attention to popular series that were kind of pretty bad (not mentioning any names). I did take like a small hiatus from reading my first two years of undergrad so I feel like maybe they were published then? I don't even know! So the books in this post I definitely plan on getting to sooner rather than later. They are like shadows looming over my bookshelf. So here are the book series I think are popular that I have yet to read:

1. The Lunar Chronicles 
I have NEVER read The Lunar Chronicles, but I am reading Cinder right now because I want to be all caught up with everyone for Winter. Also, I don't want anyone to spoil me because apparently I follow a bunch of people who love spoiling stuff on Twitter.

2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series 


I actually don't think this one is as popular as other series, but I've still heard really good things about it and since I have the series I still want to get to it!

3. The Raven Cycle Series


I have heard this is one of THE best book series, ever. I literally ordered it last week from Barnes and Noble and they send me a damaged one. That actually happened to me the first time I ordered Throne of Glass from them but that time I was just like ehhh whatever. Now I regret just letting it go. So this time I sent it back and got an undamaged copy! I plan on starting it in the near future.

4. Percy Jackson & the Olympians 


I KNOW, I KNOW what am I doing with my life? I don't really have an excuse except for I only started blogging this year and I don't really walk into the middle grade part of the book store and how else was I supposed to know about this series, guys?!

5. The Mortal Instruments (Kind of) 


I am stuck half way. I will finish it. Sometime…

6. Mara Dyer Series


This is another series I have heard nothing but good things about. I heard it has one of the swooniest book boyfriends in the history of book boyfriends. I mean, debatable because I'll clearly have to be the judge of that! But this is the only one out of all of these that I do not have! I really want it, though! :)

7. Grisha Trilogy 


With all of the Six of Crows hype going on, I can't help but feel left out. I don't want to even read the description for fear of spoiling anything. I know something about Mal and I know something about The Darkling and Mal and his friend get split up when his friend shows powers when a monster shows up. Am I right? lol. I'm definitely planning on marathoning the series before Six of Crows! Cool covers though. I dig them hard.


So I totally am going to read this books soon! I'm thinking Lunar Chronicles, Grisha, Raven Cycle then I haven't got past that in terms of ordering them. What popular series have you never read?

- Jocelyn

ARC Review: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything: Nicola Yoon
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

This book is really hard to review. For some of the book, I was kind of apprehensive because it just seemed like a generic love story kind of thing with a twist on the disease. Boy, was I wrong. Everything, Everything was one of the most beautifully written and heartfelt stories I've read. It had so many different elements that make you think about and value life. 


“Maybe growing up means disappointing the people we love.” 

I have felt extremely sorry for Madeline in the beginning with her mom and her nurse being her only friends. Not being allowed out of the house due to her disease, she basically cannot have contact with anything from the outside world. Even though Madeline hasn't experienced a lot, she really has an old soul. She reads a lot of books and she knows what she is missing on the outside but she doesn't feel it inside until Olly moves in next door.

Olly is fiercely protective of everything he loves and while the book did turn out to be a lot of insta-love, I never mind that kind of thing ;). And I think that you'll maybe even if you aren't a fan you'd excuse it in this situation. Olly has problems of his own and he tries to hide them far away from Madeline in order to protect her and himself. Olly ends up loving Madeline in the only way he knows how, which is all new to him.  


“The only thing I know for sure is that this, being here with Olly, being able
 to love him and be loved by him, is everything.” 

I have seen reviews of people saying they would be crying if they weren't in public and I mean I wouldn't go that far about the emotion of the book. Then again, I've been a graduate student in the medical field and I've seen some pretty messed up stuff so it does take a lot to make me cry. I recommend this book to all of you reading this review! I know you'll adore it! Madeline and Olly won't just tug at your heart strings, they'll snap them! This is a powerful story about life, love, and growing up that you will never forget!
- Jocelyn

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Isle of the Lost (Descendants)

The Isle of the Lost (Descendants Novel) by Melissa de la Cruz
Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?  Maleficent, who has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil, and whose only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost? Mal, who at sixteen, is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes? Evie, who has been castle-schooled for years, and doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall; but is a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks? Jay, a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few? Or Carlos, who may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever?

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad.


Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a fan of all things Disney. Put simply, I'm a Disney fanatic. So if there's a story that has Disney characters...well count me in! I wasn't actually aware when I picked this up that this was a prequel novel (I know, I know. I should have probably researched a bit more, but what can you do?). So it kind of upset me that the story was being continued in the movie. I don't know if there are going to be more books in the series, and if there are, I'll probably check them out because I did actually enjoy this a great deal. However, if the series is just this and then the movie...well I'm not exactly a happy camper then. I don't know what it is, but it just kind of bugs me, especially with how much I did enjoy this book.

This book definitely has an interesting premise. What happens to all the "evil" characters after the princes and princesses got their happily ever after? I loved being able to read about Mal (Maleficent's daughter), Jay (Jafar's son), Carlos (Cruella de Ville's son), and Evie (the Evil Queen's daughter). Every character is snarky, sassy, and a lot of fun. There were a lot of Disney references, both Disney past and Disney present, which made the story even more fun. I won't say who all makes an appearance, but it definitely makes for some great surprises and moments while reading. Melissa de la Cruz's attention to detail is phenomenal, and you could tell she spend a lot of time making sure this book would be a hit for Disney fans. Honestly, this attention to detail really what made the book special for me, and an enjoyable read.

However, even though this is marketed as a YA novel, it is definitely middle grade. It reads like MG and is written like MG. Not that this is something that makes or breaks a book for me, but I do wish I would have known beforehand that it was MG (again, this was my fault for not doing a bit more research...but I got distracted by the Disney aspect and didn't care, I wanted needed to read it). There were some younger moments that distracted me while I was reading, and I do think the book could have been made to be YA if the writing was elevated a bit. Nevertheless, it was still a good book that I think is a hidden gem. It's actually makes for a fun game to see how many Disney references you can pick up on while reading. This is a quick, easy read that is sure to appease any Disney fan.




Happy reading :)  


~Cassie 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter, #1)

The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter, #1): Virginia Boecker 

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.


I was really excited to read this one because witches have always been something that interested me. I think I've been interested in them since I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond in middle school, lol. The book was ok, but it isn't a new favorite of mine. I started reading this book in May I believe, and I just finished it recently. I did put it down for a month, so I wasn't actively trying to read it everyday. I was almost going to DNF it, but I'm glad I stuck with it because it did turn out better in the end.  

The first half of the book was just really boring to me. It was a lot of information and I was having trouble keeping track of the new characters she meets after she was charged with being a witch. They kind of all mushed together for awhile, there was no distinguishing feature that set them apart. Around halfway is when I started to be able to know who was who by their characteristics and mannerisms. After getting to know the supporting cast, they really were an amazing bunch. My favorite is Fifer, who hated Elizabeth from the first time she met her lol. Fifer was a brat and I loved her. Elizabeth on the other hand was kind of bland and lackluster. She definitely didn't stand out in any way to me. 



"I'm quiet for a moment, enchanted by the idea of something stealing over you, settling
 into you, and telling you, with absolute certainty, who you are and what you're meant to do."

Elizabeth fought as a witch hunter alongside her childhood friend, Caleb. I continued to really like Caleb throughout the story, even though I think the plot wanted to turn him off to readers. I think that the author made Caleb too desirable in the beginning and there was no point throughout the story that really made me hate him. I liked Caleb better than the romance that ended up blooming with Elizabeth throughout the story. So, I really wasn't a fan of the romance. Actually, I think my favorite romance was Fifer's romance! Can there be a book about Fifer? 

The plot had a nice premise, but I was expecting more. While it was very well written, the plot was very sporadic. There were only a few scenes with action and the rest of the time it was very predictable. While I wasn't impressed with this one, I will probably continue with the series. The supporting cast has enough power to carry the weight of the book, so I will be continuing just for them! I definitely think this one is worth the read for you fantasy fans. There wasn't any big plot twist at the end - but I'll keep any eye out for the next book. 


- Jocelyn

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Paper Towns

So I thought that since the movie is coming out tomorrow, I would share my thoughts on Paper Towns.  I would love to know if people plan on seeing the movie, and then what your thoughts are with it!  I definitely am going to check it out, so fingers crossed it will be good!!

Paper Towns by John Green
Publication Date: Sept. 22, 2009

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...
  


Even though this review will just get lost in the thousands already written, I did want to get my thoughts out there too. This is another great read from John Green that will have you laughing out loud and thinking deeply at the same time. I loved the metaphorical aspect of this novel, in that we are all connected to each other, sometimes in ways we don't exactly expect. However, at the end of the day, our lives are interwoven with others and we never really know the impact we have on other people's lives. The one thing that resonated with me while reading this novel is the fact that one person can truly change and shape your life; they can come in like a burst of color and your life will never be the same.

Quentin (or Q) is our lead character, and has that dry, witty, sarcastic voice we have come to love from John Green. I felt though that in this novel, it shined through the pages. It was radiating off the pages, and you just couldn't help but laugh at things the characters would say, or Q's inner monologue, or even just the situations. It makes for such an amazing read, and makes you love Quentin as a character that much more. The one thing I loved about Q's character though is his growth over the course of the novel. We see this guy at the beginning that is afraid to take risks, and is perfectly fine with just taking a backseat in high school so he can move on to Duke for college. But over the course of the novel and having Margo crash back into his life, we witness Q become a risk-taker that realizes the importance of living in the moment and going the distance to discover the things you want to know. And Quentin's friends just make the experience all the better. You seriously want to be best friend's with all of these people.

However, one of my favorite aspects of this novel was the way John Green wove in poetry. It wasn't just there in the story, it was actually a part of the story. It had it's own role. It moved the story forward and never once felt like a forced element. The poetry flowed so effortlessly in the story, and you find yourself wanting to go and find the full edition of the poems so you can discover the beauty for yourself and come up with your own interpretation.

Overall, this was a touching contemporary novel that is definitely for fans of John Green. If you haven't read this one yet, check it out. John Green does what he does best...writing realistic characters that you instantly fall in love with and makes you question things about yourself and your thoughts.

Happy reading :) 
~Cassie

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review: Hero

Hero: Samantha Young

Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that she and her mother weren't his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.

Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair.

Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they're on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again…


I am a huge fan of NA, which I think is what this is classified as. I've heard extremely good things about Samantha Young's other books like "On Dublin Street", which happens to feature a girl named Jocelyn. So obviously I'm going to have to read it soon. I wasn't impressed with Hero. It featured a great deal of stereotypical NA plot and characterization. 

For about a few chapters, I was actually confused about the plot. Now, I'm definitely not stupid and I literally thought Caine was her half brother, it took me awhile to sort out in my head this family line. Her father was sleeping with Caine's mother when he was a child, but he wasn't Caine's father. He just ruined Caine's life. After I was able to sort that out, the plot proceeded in your typical NA romance fashion. Which I don't mind at all, because I love NA! It was just drawn out longer than it needed to be in my opinion. Now, the plot wasn't really what turned me off about this book. I was totally into her working for him and him kind of wanting to make her life miserable. It was funny and intriguing. The thing that disappointed me was the characters. 

Alexa is the billboard for your NA romance doormat. I love romantic books with strong female characters, not ones that will bow down and submit to whatever the other main character is feeling at the time. Alexa lets Caine tramp all over her. She bugs him and bugs him until he really has no choice but to pay attention to her since they are obviously made for each other. Then, she complains about the type of attention she's getting. I mean, come on you asked for this. She is just one the dumbest characters I've ever met. 
"Of course, I'd just agreed to a no-string-attached affair with him, 
so I guessed I shouldn't hold out for silly little important things like affection." 

I sort of understood Caine. He really didn't want anything to do with Alexa at first. It's totally understandable though, because she was insufferable. He had a lot of problems growing up and she kind of just brought them all back for him. He was kind of over the top indecisive and moody, though. One minute he was ok with her and the next he wasn't. And I've read a lot of reviews saying he was an asshole to her, but she kept telling him that she's fine. Maybe he was supposed to be a mindreader? She is a serious dumbass. 



So basically, this one just wasn't a win for me. I am definitely going to try out her other books, because I've heard fantastic things about them. If you are a diehard NA fan, I would probably recommend this book. You may like it! I know people who really did like it and people who weren't fans. Anyway, I think my next NA conquest will be K.A. Tucker's Burying Water series or Ten Tiny Breaths series! 


- Jocelyn

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

ARC Review: Reawakened (Reawakened #1)

Reawakened (Reawakened #1) by Colleen Houck
Publication Date: August 11, 2015

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.


description

This is yet another winner from one of my favorite authors, Colleen Houck. I was so excited to read this because Colleen Houck + Egypt+ hot Egyptian price = guaranteed amazing adventure and just plain awesome-ness. When I found out Jocelyn got this book for me at Book Con, I was beyond ecstatic!! To get a chance to read this novel early was the win of the century. This definitely did not disappoint, and is not to be missed.

description

Everything about this book is fantastic, from the characters to the world building to Ms. Houck's fantastic writing. Ms. Houck has an amazing gift, and she crafted a world that I certainly never wanted to leave. The one thing that I always love about Ms. Houck's writing is that it has many intricate details that require much research. She wants her readers to have an accurate reflection of whatever culture she is writing about, and she achieves this yet again. I'm in love with Egyptian culture, so obviously this book was right up my alley. However, what I loved is that the Egyptian aspect of this novel wasn't just there, it played a role in the plot. You could almost say that it was a character itself! While I am certainly no expert, and I only have dreams of going to Egypt, I felt instantly immersed in the Egyptian culture, and Ms. Houck did an excellent job at capturing the fascinating and extremely interesting ancient (and present) Egyptian culture.

“Eternity is a long time to exist without something to remember.”

While this book starts in New York, the reader is taken to Egypt rather quickly, and this is where the story really picks up. The plot moves at a fast pace, but never feels rushed. It is quite the adventure, and you will feel like you are right there standing next to Amon and Lily in the pyramids, tombs, and the hot, arid desert. There are many scenes and moments to love in this novel, and many scenes will both warm your heart and leave you begging for more. And similar to her Tiger's Curse Saga, there are plenty laugh out loud moments that will leave a smile on your face for many pages.

Finally, one of my favorite aspects of this novel was the characters. There are many loveable characters in this novel: Lily, Amon, Asten, Ahmose, and Dr. Hassen. Lily is an extremely likeable character that is longing to break free from the restricting chains of her parents and their lifestyle. She longs for adventure and something more than having her life pre-determined for her. One of my favorite aspects of her character was her growth throughout the story. She starts off as someone who doesn't really have a backbone, but quickly grows into a young woman that will fight to the very end, sacrificing everything and anything for the person she cares about. When Lily is finally able to be herself, she is quite hilarious. I loved her sarcasm and witty responses, but most importantly, I loved her large heart. She truly cares about helping Amon and his brothers, and you could see that from the get go.

Amon is just plain wonderful and you will easily fall in love with him (and as such be wanting an Egyptian mummy prince as a boyfriend). He is such a sweetheart, and I loved his naivety throughout the novel. Amon had me cracking up so many times, and I could never get enough of his character. However, I loved the care he showed for Lily. He hated the situation they were placed in, and he too, fought with everything in him to make the situation right. Amon was determined to get Lily back to the life she had before, while also serving his duty to protect the world from the evil that was looming. Asten and Ahomse, Amon's two "brothers," we're a riot and I loved them so much. I truly hope we see more from them in future books because they added such a great element to the story. They served as a reminder that although they are princes of Egypt burdened with protecting the world from the evil god Seth, the 3 of them are still brothers that joke with each other, banter back and forth, and at the end of the day, will stand with each other.

The romance in this novel is very sweet and never overwhelms the story. While it does have its own role, it is not the main focus. However, that being said, I would have been very upset if this was a standalone because I would not have been satisfied with the ending. The ending is certainly not bad by any means (in fact it serves as a very nice conclusion to the story), but I still need more!

I don't think it has quite the same magic as her Tiger's Curse Saga, but Reawakened is still an excellent story and is not to be missed. If you are a fan of Egyptian culture, adventure, and romance this book is for you! This novel is another surefire hit for Ms. Houck, and is not to be missed by her fans! I can't wait for the next book to come out!

Happy reading :) 
~Cassie

Monday, July 20, 2015

ARC Review: The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1)


The Bourbon Kings: J.R. Ward
Publication Date: July 28th, 2015

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.


I used to read J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but I stopped after the 4th one I believe because I didn't really have much of an interest in any of the remaining characters. However, the books I did read I really did enjoy. When I found out J.R. Ward was writing a new book, I immediately put it on my TBR list. I just had to find out what it was all about. This book ended up majorly exceeding my expectations, and I really can't wait for the next one! I don't think the description of the book gives it enough justice. The description basically only covers Lizzie and Lane, which are not the only main characters in the book! The book is kind of majorly about Lizzie and Lane, but the secondary characters are just as amazing and I can't wait to see forthcoming books about them. All of the characters had so much chemistry with each other, it was easy to root for them together. 



Lizzie is not just the lead gardener, she has a masters in horticulture and it seems like she is a very important worker at Easterly. She's always busy preparing for parties and she really doesn't go around looking for drama. When her old flame, Lane comes home from NYC she tries to avoid the shit out of him. She's been hurt once by him, and she doesn't want it to happen again. So obviously, she runs into him and he begs for her forgiveness. Lizzie is tough and nails and doesn't rely on anybody to help her.  Lizzie doesn't really buy it - and why should she? He got married! 

Lane is coming home from NYC because his mom is sick. Well really it's the chef of the house, but she's always been more of a mom to him than his actual mom. When he comes home, he also has to see his bitch wife who lives at Easterly while he's been in NYC. Chantal pretty much ruined his life to serve her own personal needs, so he's ready to serve her with divorce papers pretty much immediately. Lane wants to get back in Lizzie's favor, which is a lot more difficult than he initially thought. And he soon finds out that he also has a lot of family troubles to worry about. 


“Don’t be ridiculous. Besides, she’s black— ”
Lane grabbed Chantal’s arm and yanked her up close. “Don’t you ever talk about her with that kind of attitude. 
I’ve never hit a woman before, but I guarantee I will beat the shit out of you if you disrespect her.” 

Edward is the damaged one of the family. He reminds me a lot of Zsadist from BDB, who I happened to really love! Edward has been taking hostage a few years prior in South America, and was almost killed during that time. His world changes when an old friend's daughter comes to him looking for work with his horses. It just so happens that Edward owes him a favor, so he gives Shelby a job. But then Sutton, another old flame, comes back into his life under very strange circumstances. I'm wondering if this is going to be a love triangle of sorts in the upcoming books. 

“I’m not lookin’ for no handouts. I need a place to stay and work to do. 
I’m good with horses, just like my father, and bad with people— so you’re warned up front on that one.
 I got no money, but my back is strong and I’m not afraid of nothing. When can I start.”

Gin was my freaking favorite character! Living in a house with 3 older brothers, she is kind of the neglected one. She had a child as a teenager, who won't come home for holidays or birthdays since she's been at school. Gin also has never told the father that her daughter belongs to him. She kind of has an on again - off again relationship with Samuel T., who happens to be a long time family friend/attorney. In my opinion, they had the most chemistry in the entire book! I couldn't get enough of Gin and Samuel T. The next book better be about them because J.R. Ward didn't end Gin's part of the story favorably enough for me! 



I love books that take place in the south. The culture and attitudes just astound me, The Sookie Stackhouse series and Wicked by JLA are a few of my favorites that take place below the Mason Dixon Line. I was so immersed in TBK that I literally felt like I was from the south, too. J.R. Ward accomplished the setting, family drama, and fashion effortlessly. It made this book SO addicting. I really couldn't put it down, which happened to be a major problem for me because I had school stuff to do! TBK isn't as sexual as BDB, but there is some. The sex is just put in there sporadically and it really fits with the story. This book is kind of more of a fiction about family drama than just a romance. Another side note: I could seriously see this book as a TV show! 

Lovers of mature YA, NA, and fiction will all enjoy this book. You guys have to read this book if you're a fan of family drama, romance, or the southern culture. It was seriously amazing! I wouldn't steer you guys wrong! 


- Jocelyn 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sea of Stars (Kricket Series #2)

Sea of Stars (Kricket Series #2) by Amy A. Bartol
Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Eighteen-year-old Kricket Hollowell was looking for her place in the world when she discovered that the universe was bigger—and more dangerous—than she had ever dreamed. Now, whisked across space to the planet Ethar, Kricket learns that her genetic ability to see the future makes her a sought-after commodity…and the catalyst for war between her star-crossed parents’ clans. According to Alameedan prophecy, one house will rise to power and the other will be completely wiped out, and Kricket’s precognition is believed to be the weapon that will tip the scales.

A target of both the Rafe and the Alameeda houses, Kricket finds protection—and a home—in the arms of Trey, her Etharian bodyguard-turned-boyfriend. But her visions of what’s to come disturb her deeply, especially since she must discover whether the gift of foresight will allow her to rewrite the future, or if her fate is as immovable as the stars.


This was an amazing sequel that sets up the third book in the Kricket series perfectly. Honestly, this was one of the best sequels I have read, and I can't wait to see what happens in Darken the Stars! Sea of Stars is action-packed, full of twists and turns, and sweet, beautiful romance that will sweep you off your feet. I couldn't put this book down, and you won't be able to either. The writing was gorgeous and just as her previous books, Amy Bartol has a supreme talent that will leave you breathless. Every scene is richly described and you feel connected with the characters in a way that few authors can manage.

Kricket herself is stand out in this novel. She grows so much in this book, and is no longer meek and mild. Kricket speaks her mind, does what she wants, and fights with everything in her for those she loves and cares about. She is willing to go to any length to fight for what she believes in, and Kricket is truly one of my favorite female leads. We also begin to understand more about her powers and exactly what she can do. There are major changes in this book, and I can't wait to see how her powers are furthered explored in the third book. I loved her relationship with Trey--the just mix so well together, and are meant for each other. Put simply, they have magic.

Trey is just swoonworthy, and the heat that comes off the page in this book is like no other. You will definitely be fanning yourself while reading some scenes because they are HOT, HOT, HOT! Sea of Stars is definitely NA rather than YA, so this is something to keep in mind before picking this sequel up. But don't let this prevent you from reading it because the few scenes are very tasteful and excellently written. The other boys: Jax and Wayra are wonderful as well, but they did fade to the background a bit. I hope we see more of them in the next book. However, the scenes they were in, they had me cracking up and added some levity to the book. Kyon, well he's Kyon...what can you expect? He's evil and slightly crazy, but we see a softer side to him so I have no idea what to expect from his character after reading this.

The action is on point in this novel, and the violence is definitely at an all time high. As I said, there are major changes in the Ethar world that is sure to make for some very exciting and heart-stopping moments in the next installment in this series. This book has it all, and I highly recommend reading this if you enjoyed the first book. This book elevates the series to a whole new level, and you will be begging for the third book. At least we don't have too long to wait!



Happy reading :)  

~Cassie 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Giveaway!


10,000 page views! I am just so thrilled to have gotten 10,000 page views because in the first few months I started blogging I literally had no followers and nobody to talk to. It was quite discouraging. Now, I have met so many amazing people from blogging and I just want to thank all of you guys for being so awesome and supportive and following my blog. That's why Cassie and I are doing an international giveaway for a preorder of a fall release book from the book depository!


The rules are simple! Book Depository must ship to your country, you must respond to our email within 48 hours, and we are not responsible for lost or damaged packages!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What book are you most excited for this fall?



- Jocelyn and Cassie

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Under Different Stars (Kricket Series #1)

So this has been another slow week/weekend for reading because of grad school (I have a major test coming up this week).  So I wanted to spotlight one of my favorite series by one of my favorite authors, Amy A. Bartol.  For fans of hers, I know that there has been a lot of complaints because it's been such a long wait with the Premonition series, but I'm looking at it as she wants to give us a book that is worth reading.  However, I want to review her second series, the Kricket series.  The third (and I do believe final) book will be coming out in September, so if you are interested, you can read these back to back and be caught up just in time to read the 3rd one!  It would be perfect :)

Under Different Stars (Kricket Series #1) by Amy A. Bartol
Publication Date: Dec. 19, 2013

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket's gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?
 


Holy amazeballs this was good!!! Under Different Stars was quite simply one of the best starts to a series I have read in a long time. Amy has once again crafted a story that is unlike any other. She has given us a sexy new alien to pine after, and ladies he will have you drooling and swooning! His name is Trey Allairis, and ooh boy, I can't wait to read more about him. But more on him later. The world building is great; it is partially dystopian, but more alternate reality. Amy introduces readers to Ethar, a planet similar to our own, but still very different. My one complaint would be that some of the terminology the boys used in the beginning were a bit confusing at first, but by the end of the book, I could pretty much tell what all the terms meant.

The main character Kricket, was a fantastic lead. She is strong, brave, and doesn't put up with anything. She knows how to survive on her own, and doesn't back down from a fight. She's sarcastic and goes to great lengths for those she loves and cares for. Kricket is definitely a character to look up to and admire, which is something I greatly enjoy while reading a novel. The other thing that I loved about her character was her reaction to the whole situation. She had a typical reaction to everything that was happening, and didn't just accept the situation she was thrown in to. Overall, Kricket was a very relatable character, and I can't wait to read more about her. Now the part you want to hear about, Trey...first things first, I'm claiming this boy! He's a bad boy on the outside, and a good guy on the inside, which is the best of combinations. He tries to fight his feelings for Kricket, but fails miserably, and you can easily see how much he cares for her. There's some steamy scenes between the two of them, and I"m sure there will be more to come! The other boys are just as swoonworthy, and added a lot of humor to the story. I liked that even though they were secondary characters, they didn't fall to the way-side. They were in a lot of scenes and had a voice in those scenes. I hope we find out more about them in future books. I would also love to read from both them and Trey's POV because it would add an even better element to the next books in the series!

This novel is fraught with tension and suspicion; you don't know who to trust or believe, and it makes for a wonderful, interesting, and intriguing story. This one will definitely leave you guessing till the very end. There is plenty of action and adventure, as well as new creatures and a brand new world to enjoy. The writing flowed expertly off the page, and this novel will amaze any reader, especially Amy Bartol fans. I can't wait to see what Amy has in store for us next because judging by this book, the story will be even more mind-blowing. I highly recommend this book to everyone!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lois Lane: Fallout (Lois Lane #1)

Lois Lane: Fallout (Lois Lane #1): Gwenda Bond 

Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy.

I wanted to love this book so bad. I've been a fan of DC comics since I was little, literally I had batman villain search and find books from before I could even read. I think I was going into this book expecting something different, which you should never really do with a book. I did end up really liking it, but I didn't outright love it. 

Lois Lane was a great character, and reminded me of just how young comic book Lois Lane would react to things. She's hot-headed, impulsive, caring, and she just can't seem to stay out of trouble. It's almost like it follows her around! When she is seeing a girl get bullied, she has to step in. She doesn't realize the people who are bullying her - The Warheads, are working on some super secret research project that the principal of the school is endorsing. Lois obviously needs to get to the bottom of this research project with the help of a few other of her friends at The Daily Planet program for young journalists under the supervision of the iconic Perry White. 


“I was many things, but I wasn't a quitter. I didn't give up, and I wasn't going to start."

We never really meet any other characters in depth. There obviously are secondary characters that play large roles in the book, but Lois narrates and never has an extremely close relationship with anyone. You may think "Smallville Guy" would play a large role in the novel, but that sadly is not the case. The time with him is limited to whenever Lois can find time to log onto her computer or rarely on her phone. Later on in the book, he appears in a virtual reality game (not as himself, either). I was hoping to see more of him, but I'm hoping Gwenda is just building up the tension for the next few books! 


The plot seemed very middle grade, which I wasn't expecting. The book is actually a short read because the pages are very thick and the font is quite large. Like I said before, I definitely want more interaction between Lois and "SmallvilleGuy". I was expecting this book to be revolved around Lois, yes. However, I always thought that Clark Kent would also play a large role in it, too. While Lois admits to her attraction to Smallville Guy, she still doesn't know who he is. In fact, I think there are other secondary characters who play a much larger role in the story than Smallville Guy. Besides that, I think the plot was really solid. I really enjoyed the dynamics between Lois and Perry White. 


“But, Lois, I promise you that someday I will. You'll be the first person I tell."  

I can't wait to see what Gwenda does in the forthcoming Lois Lane books. Aside from wanting to see more of Superman and Lois, I also hope to see more characters from the DC Universe. Im interested in seeing Superman's Big Bads show up at some point throughout this series. If you are a DC comics fan, this book is definitely worth the read. You'll be able to appreciate young Lois in an environment you haven't seen before. Even if you aren't a comic fan, but enjoy middle grade - then I still definitely recommend this book to you! I mean Clark and Lois are one of the most iconic superhero couples, aside from Barry and Iris of course ;) 



- Jocelyn 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Crow's Rest

Crow's Rest by Angelica R. Jackson
Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Avery Flynn arrives for a visit at her Uncle Tam's, eager to rekindle her summertime romance with her crush-next-door, Daniel.

But Daniel’s not the sweet, neurotic guy she remembers—and she wonders if this is her Daniel at all. Or if someone—some thing—has taken his place.

Her quest to find the real Daniel—and get him back—plunges Avery into a world of Fae and changelings, where creatures swap bodies like humans change their socks, and magic lives much closer to home than she ever imagined.


If you're looking for a quick read that's a little fun and nothing to take too seriously, this is the book for you. It's not that I didn't enjoy this novel, but it wasn't anything exciting. I feel like this book had a lot of potential, but didn't quite get there. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but there was just something missing, something that would have given the extra oomph it needed to make this a great story.

The book moves quickly, and the world building, while done well, I still wanted more. It felt like things weren't fleshed out enough. It was interesting, but also kind of run-of-the-mill. There was nothing special with the paranormal aspects of the story. Don't get me wrong, it was entertaining to read though. I just wish that the faerie world would have played a bit more of a role in the story. The beginning did feel slow, but by about half way through the story picked up. But with this book being so short, I do wish that the story would have gotten moving sooner.

Our main character, Avery, was interesting, but she did get on my nerves at times. There were times while I was reading where she seemed much younger than her age. A couple choices she made were childish, and she did seem all over the place. However, I did like how independent she was. She knew what her priorities were, and she stuck to that. She did have me cracking up while reading with her witty humor and commentary. I think my main problem with her character, as well as the other characters in this novel, was that they weren't fully developed. I wanted to know more about them, but I felt that by the time we were just starting to get to know the characters, the book was done. Again...I just wanted more.

There are 2 love interests in this book, Lonan and Daniel. Let me just say that I was rooting for Lonan right away. Daniel was really annoying to me, and I never could get into his character. He honestly got on my nerves while reading, and I couldn't wait for Lonan to come onto the scene. And as much as I love Lonan, I do feel that he didn't really get to shine like the author intended, mainly because Avery is basically the person that always "saves the day."

I did like this book (I know it doesn't seem that way, but I did). It just wasn't anything fantastic. It didn't blow me away like I expected, and I just felt incomplete after finishing. I said it multiple times in this review, but once more, I just wanted more. I don't know if this is going to be a series (it doesn't look like it is but who knows?), but there is definitely potential for another book. I probably wouldn't check it out, but I might depending on reviews. Overall, I just don't think this book was my cup of tea.




Happy reading :)  


~Cassie 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2)

*This review contains spoilers for The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)*

Heart of Betrayal: Mary E. Pearson 

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.
 


This Kiss of Deception seriously made me fall in love with historical fantasy books. As someone who was always apprehensive of the amount of fantasy given at one time, I reveled in these books as Mary E. Pearson just delicately sprinkles just the right amount of fantasy in the plot. This book is just as amazing as Kiss of Deception in the number of swoons, the beautiful friendships, and the shocking moments. If you liked Kiss of Deception, you will love Heart of Betrayal. It is a kick-ass second book following an amazing first book! 

Lia is a ball of freaking fire in Venda. She refuses to be suppressed and that comes with a lot of consequences. She has been betrayed by both Rafe and Kaden, so who can she really trust? She has to trust her instincts and she's not even 100% sure where they are coming from. At this point, Lia wants to get revenge for her brother and get the hell out of Venda. But when she meets other people in Venda that don't seem to be as barbaric as she thought they were going to be, she realizes she may need to help more people than herself.

“We were told to watch for it, that it was the promise of a new day for Venda 
- the claw, quick and fierce; the vine, slow and steady; both equally strong.” 

Now for what everyone has been waiting for … Rafe and Kaden! Now, I could never decide between them in book 1. I literally loved them both! While I still do love them both, I think I have made up my mind on Team Kaden! We learn more about Kaden's backstory and I'll just BE DAMNED if it doesn't BREAK your heart! The ending left me with so many feels between both of them like no spoilers but why … how … :(. This really is a love triangle for the books because Lia isn't a petty teenager who keeps going between the two of them trying to decide. She thinks she has her mind made up, but maybe fate has a different opinion for her? 


“Do you always dance with the girl you plan to murder?” 

We meet some new characters in HOB! One being Komizar! The Komizar … surprised me. When we first met him I was picturing him like a bad guy but not ACTUALLY bad like Klaus from The Originals or Eric Northman from True Blood. He kind of seemed like he was a lot of bark and not a lot of bite. Alas, I ended up just hating him. We also meet Aster, who is so young and tries to help Lia in every way possible regardless of thinking about what the consequences will be for herself. 

If you loved Kiss of Deception, or fantasy or historical fiction I highly recommend this book to you! Lia is everything you want a hero to be. She's not perfect by a long shot, but she fights like hell! The Heart of Betrayal is one of my favorite 2015 reads, and the best fantasy book I've ever read. Mary. E. Pearson is sure to be one of your new favorite authors. 

- Jocelyn