Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Review: Beyond the Red

Beyond the Red by Ava JaeAbout the Book: 
Title: Beyond the Red
Author: Ava Jae
Pub. Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Pages: 360
Rating: 2.5/5 stars




Synopsis:
Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Review:
I had a very difficult time rating (and reviewing) this novel because on one hand I did like it. It wasn't a book I was completely over the moon about or anything, but still...not bad. But on the other hand, there was A LOT I didn't like. And in some ways those things outweighed the good. I think the thing that bothers me the most is the fact that this is only one book (at least as of right now). To my knowledge, there is no sequel being published, and this is something that really irritates me, but I'll get to that later on in this review.

As I said, there were several elements of this book that I enjoyed. The setting and the world-building in general were great. I actually thought everything was well explained, and I got a good sense of what the world was. The Sepharon culture is extremely well-described. They're cruelty toward humans, while terrible, was very believable and well done. I could feel the hatred leaking off the page as I was reading. I also liked the Sepharon species in general. The direction Ava Jae took with the alien species was unique and creative. Add all of this to the fact that the book actually did keep me interested/hooked to the very end...you might be saying, Why are you only giving this 2.5 stars?? Well, let's move onto what I didn't like about the book.

First, I had several problems with the actual characters in this book. Originally, I didn't mind Kora, but as the book progressed, I became more and more frustrated with her. She is the queen, but she certainly doesn't act like it. It almost felt like in Kora's mind, she was this kick-butt, take charge queen, but in reality...she wasn't in the slightest. Her brother walks all over her, and I can't even begin to count the number of times he orders her to do something and she just does it, no questions asked. I kept waiting and waiting for her to stand up and become this awesome leader, but it never really happened. She remained very meek. On top of this Eros, who is one of the love interests (yes, there is unfortunately a love triangle), just never wowed me. I didn't necessarily feel indifferent to him, but I also wasn't in love with him. I thought he deserved much better than Kora, and I didn't get his attraction to Kora. 

The insta-love in this novel was extremely odd to me, and felt borderline unbelievable. No, I'm not a fan of insta-love, but I can get over it. However, in this novel, it was just bizarre. Kora literally orders the murder of Eros' family hours before, and he goes from seething hatred to lovey-dovey, stars-in-his-eyes love for her. It just didn't make any sense whatsoever. I get that Kora's orders were taken out of context, but still. On top of this, they become very close, very quickly. Then, there was the introduction of Serik, her betrothed. Now I actually liked Serik a great deal, but again, I felt that he deserved much better than Kora. Nevertheless, he too fell in love with her within hours of meeting her. I mean, I think these characters should really at least take the day to fall in love with someone (I know, I know...I'm crazy for thinking that). Granted, this love triangle is resolved by the end, but it wasn't that well done either.

My biggest problem with this book though was the ending. There is literally no resolution to anything except the love triangle. As I said before, as far as I know there is no sequel to this novel. And as a reader, I feel like there should have been some sort of resolution if a sequel was still up-in-the-air. While reading this book (even when I was 85-90% done with it), I kept reassuring myself that there was plenty of time for some things to be resolved. But they never were. I just wanted more. On top of this, even though the love triangle is resolved, the actual romance between the two characters isn't. They have no clue where they stand by the end of the book, and they aren't even talking to each other when it's all over. This made me so frustrated because again...some sort of conclusion, even if it was just a slight smile or hand graze or something would have made me happy. But there was literally nothing. 

Overall, I can't say that I would recommend this book simply because of this last point. If this ends up being a series, this would change my mind and I would say go ahead and check it out. But as of right now, it's probably not worth it, which is really unfortunate because this book had a lot of potential. 


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Review: Beautiful Burn (The Maddox Brothers #4)

Beautiful Burn by Jamie McGuireAbout the Book:
Title: Beautiful Burn (The Maddox Brothers #4)
Author: Jamie McGuire
Pub. Date: Jan. 31, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 251 

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary 
Rating: 4/5 stars



Synopsis:

Fresh out of college, Ellison Edson has fallen through the cracks of rock bottom. While staying in her family’s vacation home in Colorado, her behavior has finally gained the attention of her parents—but not in the way she hoped. Cut off from the millions she’s always taken for granted, and left alone to fend for herself, Ellie spirals further out of control, making a mistake she can’t take back.

Like his twin brother Taylor, Tyler Maddox is a member of the Alpine Hotshots, fighting wildland fires on the frontline. As arrogant as he is charming, Tyler’s nomadic lifestyle makes it easy to contain his relationships to one night. When he meets Ellie at a local party during off-season, her extreme personality and dismissive attitude fascinates him at first, but as his feelings deepen, Tyler realizes that the crippling inner demons of the woman he loves might be the strongest enemy any Maddox has ever faced.

Review:

I'm so sad that Beautiful Burn is the fourth and final novel featuring the Maddox Brothers, but all good things must come to an end. Beautiful Burn was an excellent way to end the series and say goodbye. Jamie McGuire will always be one of my all time favorite authors, and while I might not have loved every Maddox Brother story, she still gave me a set of brothers that have a special place in my heart. This can be read as a standalone, but come on...you need to experience all of the Maddox Brothers, starting with Travis in Beautiful Disaster. It adds to the experience of these novels, and makes you love these books that much more. 

This is Tyler's book, and let me tell you...I absolutely loved Tyler. Tyler is an Alpine Hotshot, who risks his life by fighting forest fires. He falls in love with Ellison, our main character. Ellison is the main reason I couldn't give this book 5 stars. I honestly strongly disliked her character for the majority of the book, except for certain moments. She was such a spoiled brat that I never actually got what Tyler saw in her, and because these boys are so important to me, every single one of them has to have a girl that is amazingly special. And for a good chunk of this book, I didn't think Ellison was that girl. There were parts where she showed potential, and these were the parts that I liked her. But then she would go back to her old ways, and I couldn't stand her. However, by the end, she won me over, and I did like them together. Tyler and Ellison had an interesting dynamic, one that is definitely unique and unlike any of the other brothers' relationships. 

The one thing that I applaud Jamie McGuire for though is making Ellison a likable character by the end of the story. I think if any other author would have written this book, my feelings toward Ellison would have been much different. Heck, my rating would have been much different. But, because of the situations and issues that Ellison had to endure truly made her grow up, which is something she desperately needed. 

The one thing I will say is that certain twists or "heart-pounding" moments weren't as twist-y or as heart-pounding because I already knew how things would turn out. This has always been something that I disliked about the timeline in this series, since every book basically overlaps. It made for a unique reading experience, and for the most part I always enjoyed it. But, it does take some of the surprise out of the story. Nevertheless, Jamie McGuire concluded this series well, and I highly recommend reading this if you are a fan of the Maddox Brothers. You'll love Tyler, and while you might not completely love Ellison immediately, she does turn things around in the end.


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cover Reveal: Fall of Thrones


Fall of Thrones and Thorns
Jennifer Ellision
(Threats of Sky and Sea #3)
Publication date: September 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
War hurtles in, a typhoon over the sea.
After Bree’s life was torn apart, Nereidium had represented a haven to her. A place that—if she could save it—was beyond the King’s reach.
And, at last, she’s arrived upon its shores. But things in Nereidium are not what they should be.
The land is plagued by a rash of mysterious earthquakes, the likes of which it’s never known. The governors are distracted by old traditions, while Bree and her friends grapple with changing identities and the sense that the longer they wait to take action… the greater the danger from Egria grows.
Bree is tired of living under the shadow of King Langdon’s power. And she’s tired of waiting for him to be the first to act.
In this final chapter of the Threats of Sky and Sea series, it all comes down to Nereidium or Egria. To Bree or the King. It’s kill… or be killed.
And not everyone will escape the battle unscathed.
Previous books in the series:
20498423 Beautiful woman with katana isolated on the white background


Author Bio:
Jennifer Ellision spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn't find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She loves words, has a soft spot for fanfiction, and is a master of the fangirl flail. She resides in South Florida with her family, where she lives in fear of temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit

XBTBanner1

~Cassie

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #53

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: 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016


Synopsis: 

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.

The first and last time that I heard of a bruja was on True Blood - and I LOVED Jesus and his storyline. So I must say that I'm pretty excited to read a book surrounding it. 


Cassie's Waiting On: 

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Untitled Trilogy #3) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Synopsis:


Stalking Jack the RipperPresented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.


This sounds like such an interesting read.  Just from the synopsis, the cover fits seems to embody this book perfectly.  I'm really intrigued to see where the author takes the story, and I'm hoping that Audrey is a strong MC! Fingers crossed that this is a win and I have a new series to take me into 2017 :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cover Reveal: Torn (A Wicked Saga, #2)

    The highly anticipated second book in #1 New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout's Wicked Trilogy has a cover! The amazing TORN cover was created by Sarah Hansen from Okay Creations with photography by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton from K Keeton designs. Check it out below! TORN is set to release July 19th. Be sure to grab the first book in the series, WICKED, which is on sale for $.99 for a limited time!
 

TORN Synopsis:

Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her.

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him?

But as the Fae Prince begins to close in on Ivy, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.

 

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans…

Don’t miss the first title in the series, WICKED, now just $.99 for a limited time only!

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iBooks ** Kobo

About Jennifer L. Armentrout: #1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.  

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Novel Goodreads ** Author Goodreads


~Cassie

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched QueenAbout the Book:
Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Pub. Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Page: 342
Rating: 4/5 stars





Synopsis:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

Review:

“A memory is a fine legacy to leave behind.” 

The Star-Touched Queen is one of my favorites of 2016 so far and has given me an excellent reading memory! Everything about this book is perfection, and I highly recommend that you read this book as soon as possible. If you're looking for an amazing read, this is it. From the gorgeous writing, to the amazing characters, this book has it all. A mix of Indian folklore and Greek mythology, this book truly blew me away. There is incredible detail that is not always typical with a debut novel, and it is clear that Roshani Chokshi is definitely an author to watch. I can guarantee that I will be checking out any future novels that Ms. Chokshi writes!

“I see only night and smoke, dreams and glass, embers and wings. 
And I would not have you any other way.” 

One of the first things that will make you fall in love with this novel is the absolutely gorgeous writing. If it doesn't blow you away, I'll be surprised. Every single sentence is beautifully written, and I couldn't believe that this was Ms. Chokshi's first novel. She writes with a grace that seasoned authors have, and it shows how gifted an author she is. The novel is set against a lush, vivid background, and it adds to an already captivating story. The one thing that I did wish was that there was a bit more world building, but honestly, this didn't bother me that much in the grand scheme of things. While usually this is a huge thing for me because it typically makes the book suffer a great deal, this wasn't the case with this story. There was never any time that I was confused or lost due to lack of details surrounding the world. However, it was enough that I couldn't give this novel 5 stars. I was hoping that there would be more detail (and in turn, some brand new concept) in regards to the horoscope aspect of the story, but this was basically shoved to the background. But it also makes sense with the fact that this is a standalone novel. Because of this I could forgive the lack of expansion, but if this was a series...I would feel much differently.

“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible, which made it that much easier to push out of my mind.” 

Moving on though...the characters of this novel were simply amazing, primarily our female lead, Maya. I connected with her right away, and loved her fiery attitude. She was very much the feminist. Faced with scrutiny and hatred her entire life, Maya had to grow up with a strong disposition. I admired this strength and attitude she possessed, and I loved how Maya never once gave up. She longs for a life filled with education and freedom to be whatever or whoever she wanted. However, she also is the hero of the story, in more ways than one. Amar is also a wonderful character. It was clear from the start how much he cared about Maya, and sought to give her what she wanted from life. He emphasized equality and respect, which obviously is not something Maya is accustomed to. Amar had my heart from the get go and I was rooting for them throughout the entire book.

"You are my night and stars, the fate I would fix myself to in any life.” 

I honestly wish this was a series because I would absolutely love to revisit this world in another novel. Nevertheless, the conclusion of this story was fantastic and definitely will not disappoint. The Star-Touched Queen is an extremely unique and original novel that will appeal to many readers. It will sweep you away into a fantastical land that you will never want to leave. While the world building was lacking a bit, I still greatly enjoyed this story and its lovely characters. Definitely add this to your TBR now!



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #52

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: 

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled, #1) by Rosamund Hodge 
Publication Date: September 27th, 2016 


Synopsis: 


When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . 

Can we take a minute to appreciate that stunning cover, I mean really! It looks extremely creepy. I know that Rosamund Hodge wrote a bunch of retellings in the past but I must regretfully say that I haven't read any of them. I think this might just have to be my first! 


Cassie's Waiting On: 

Frost Like Night (Snow Like Ashes #3) by Sara Raasch
Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Synopsis:


Frost Like Night (Snow Like Ashes, #3)Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.


I am super excited for the third book in this series to be released! The cover is gorgeous and just from the synopsis, this book sounds action-packed and full of twists that we won't see coming! Even the title has me intrigued since it usually plays a big role in the book itself.  I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book Review: Unhooked

UnhookedAbout the Book:
Title: Unhooked
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Pub. Date: Feb. 2, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings 
Pages: 342 
Rating: 3/5


Synopsis:

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Review:

I have been on the hunt for a great Peter Pan retelling, and while this did show some promise, there were some things that made this book just a good retelling rather than a great one. There was a lot to love about the story, and Lisa Maxwell certainly knows how to spin a good story! Her writing flows effortlessly across the page and she creates a truly fantastical Neverland that readers have certainly not experienced before. It's a very intriguing read that is a dark twist on Peter Pan. I loved this aspect of the story since this is not something that has been well done in previous books I have read. Lisa Maxwell succeeded in keeping the reader guessing until the very end of the story. The book is relatively fast-paced, and has plenty of exciting action. 

I truly enjoyed Lisa Maxwell's take on Neverland. No one is as they seem, and this is a recurring theme throughout the novel for every single character. There are many twists and turns that were completely unexpected, and it was these twists that made the book fun and enjoyable. Lisa Maxwell also did a great job at putting an emphasis on relationships, whether it involved friends, a love interest, or an enemy. The one relationship that I was originally interested in was the relationship between Hook and Pan. I always like to see where authors will take this particular relationship, and Ms. Maxwell definitely offered a creative spin on the relationship between the two. It made the book more compelling because of how each of these characters affected the other. The other relationship that was extremely well done was the one that existed between Gwen and Hook. It was definitely a slow-building/slow-burn type relationship, which worked perfectly with the flow of the book. Their budding romance never overshadowed the underlying plot, and was very well written. Finally, I loved how dedicated Gwen was to rescuing her friend, Liv. Gwen would go to any length to save her friend, and it was definitely an admirable characteristic for her character to have.

However, there were several aspects of this story that made the story a little less enjoyable. First was Gwen's character. Don't get me wrong, overall she was a good, solid character. BUT, I kept waiting and waiting for her to just DO SOMETHING. With every hesitation and every unsure thought, I became more and more frustrated Gwen. Her character was extremely inconsistent throughout the book, and it got to a point where I actually started not liking her as much as I did at the beginning. Gwen would be brave and have a spirit that was on the edge of becoming something great. And then she would retreat and become extremely passive, shying away from the events of the book. Ultimately, this inconsistency made her character fall flat, and not as likable as she could have been. I also had a problem with Neverland (but just a bit). This mainly was because I wanted more...more explanations on different aspects of the wonderfully creative Neverland that Ms. Maxwell established. This was more towards the end especially where new parts of Neverland were introduced but not explained, and I had no clue why events were occurring as they had never been mentioned or hinted at anytime previously. 

Overall, I would recommend checking it out if you like Peter Pan retellings. While this isn't the greatest retelling I have read, it still is much better than others I have read. It is a very compelling and intriguing read, but with a flat, passive main character and a lack of description in regards to certain elements of Neverland, I wasn't blown away. So, while I'm still on the hunt for a retelling of this story that will make me happy, this will definitely appeal to a wide majority of readers.


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Review: A Child Called "It" (Dave Pelzer #1)

About The Book:

  Title: A Child Called "It" (Dave Pelzer #1)
  Author: Dave Pelzer
  Pub. Date: September 1st, 1995 
  Publisher: Health Communications
  Pages: 184
  Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Abuse
  Rate: 2/5 stars




Synopsis :

This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it." Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

Review:

I actually had to read this one for school. At first I was super bummed, sighing because I had to put down Torch Against the Night because I only had a week to read this and write about the risk factors surrounding it. However, I quickly found that it was a really quick read and my kindle percentage was multiplying rapidly. With that being said, I still didn't really like this book. But I don't think this a book you're supposed to love. It was hard to read at times, but I expected that. What I didn't expect was the sloppy writing style and the incoherent thoughts.

I definitely think that the meaning of this book was to get the message out there about child abuse, which it 100% did. The fact that anyone can do that to their child absolutely sickens me to my core. I needed to take breaks during some of the scenes because they were so difficult to read about. The thing I hated most about this book was the writing. It was so sloppy. Not only was the style just awkward but the timeline was all over the place, I literally mean EVERYWHERE. From when he was rescued to before he was abused to when he was abused to when he was an adult and everywhere in between. There was no rhyme or reason and sometimes it just switched with no warning.

However, one thing I started questioning at the end of this book was why this author wanted to be in the spotlight after so many years of abuse. Why wouldn't he just want to live a quiet life? After reading reviews on Goodreads, I found many accusations that this entire story is just a bunch of fabricated events. I don't really believe that and I think without any evidence that's probably very hurtful to him especially with so much he's endured in his life. I mean the things in this book were truly terrifying. I understand him wanting to advocate for the cause but I'm not sure I understand the desire to make money off of it, do you understand what I'm saying? I'm not trying to come off as condescending, but I just don't personally get it.

“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; 
not living a nightmare in the darkness of a soul"

If you are a YA reader, I don't think this book is off-limits to you. I know a lot of people who read this book in middle school, so it's definitely not restricted to one age group. While this book was a hard one to get through, I know why I had to read this for school since I'll be seeing and dealing with child abuse cases first hand. I do want to read more books about child abuse, so if you have recommendations of any good ones that you've read - please let me know!

- Jocelyn

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Review: Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart #1)

About the Book:

Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart, #1)Title: Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart #1)
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Pub. Date: Feb. 2, 2016 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 420 
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 2.5/5 stars



Synopsis:

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

Review:

This book let me down in so many ways I probably couldn't list them all. This was a book I was greatly looking forward to reading, and I bought it as soon as I could.  Suffice to say, this book wasn't at all what I was expecting, and it left me disappointed.  

Let me start with the bad since that vastly outnumbers the good. First was the writing...it was boring and suffered a lack of emotion. There are many books out there where you can feel how much of the author's heart and soul is in the book, but with this novel, I didn't get that feeling. There were times I felt it was just something she chose to write because why not? The plot was way too convenient. I can't even count the number of scenes where everything worked out perfectly and in just the right way no matter how unrealistic it was with the rest of the scene/storyline. On top of that, even when things started getting bad, there was always something there to get the characters out of the situation. It was just very unbelievable in many scenes and it made my interest in the book decrease more and more over the course of the story. 

Then there was the idea of the assassins clippers. There wasn't much in the way of backstory to give us an understanding why there were 9 families (think mafia) that were the powerhouses in the city. There was a king, but apparently he didn't really serve any purpose next to these families. The one major thing that bothered me about the whole idea of the clippers was the fact that they justified murder by saying it was a "mercy" since the people that were killed were going to be reincarnated. But then they would turn around and virtually lose their minds over something relatively minor in comparison (like stealing from a citizen). On top of that, every clipper wore a mask. Why? I have no idea...this was never explained, and it made zero sense since everyone (even the citizens) were able to recognize the clippers by their masks. So I ask, what was the point??

The romance was something that I had a love/hate relationship with. The hate part came with the fact that this book is marketed as a comparison to Romeo and Juliet. However, this is not at all what it is. For the first couple of chapters it is, slightly. Val and Lea are from opposing families and are supposedly in love. I never felt the love between them, but maybe given time, I would have liked them together more and felt their romance. It's a shame that the idea of forbidden love wasn't explored more because I think this would have made the book a lot more interesting. But as I said, they are together for literally the first several chapters and then they're done...albeit for a good reason, but they're caput. The romance I did love though was the romance between Lea and Les (don't even get me started on the character naming in this book). They truly had chemistry right from the off and I loved them together! And purely because of how much I loved them, I was willing to round up to the 3 stars. 

Overall, I would recommend skipping this one. It was a flop for me, but it could actually be a great read for some. The main reason this book was a flop was because I felt it wasn't as well thought out as it should have been. Let me be super straightforward, this book had a TON of potential. This could have been an excellent book, on the level of Throne of Glass. Unfortunately it wasn't. There were some exciting parts and the romance between Lea and Les was the highlight of the story, but that was about it. Oh well...on to the next!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #51

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: 

The Fever Code (The Maze Runner, #0.6) 
Publication Date: September 27th, 2016 


Synopsis: 
Once there was a world’s end.

The forests burned, the lakes and rivers dried up, and the oceans swelled.

Then came a plague, and fever spread across the globe. Families died, violence reigned, and man killed man.

Next came WICKED, who were looking for an answer. And then they found the perfect boy.

The boy’s name was Thomas, and Thomas built a maze.

Now there are secrets.

There are lies.

And there are loyalties history could never have foreseen. 

This is the story of that boy, Thomas, and how he built a maze that only he could tear down.

All will be revealed.

A prequel to the worldwide Maze Runner phenomenon, The Fever Code is the book that holds all the answers. How did WICKED find the Gladers? Who are Group B? And what side are Thomas and Teresa really on? Lies will be exposed. Secrets will be uncovered. Loyalties will be proven. Fans will never see the truth coming.

A sequel ... to the prequel? Has this ever happened before? I don't know but I'm willing to read it! I really liked The Kill Order - I know a lot of you didn't. Some people say them not liking it is an "unpopular opinion" but honestly I've seen so many people NOT like it that I think LIKING it is the unpopular opinion. I loved the Maze Runner Series. So I'm excited for this one! 


Cassie's Waiting On: 

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) by Traci Chee
Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Synopsis:

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1)Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

I've heard a lot of positive things about this novel already, and it sounds really intriguing.  I'm hoping that this will be a unique read and the start of an exciting new series.  I haven't had much luck with new series this year, so hopefully this will be different and I'll have a new series to add to my TBR!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology #1)

About the Book:

The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology, #1)Title: The Great Hunt (Eurona Duology #1)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Pub. Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 416
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Retellings 
Rating: 4/5 stars




Synopsis:

“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”

She could only stare back, frozen.


When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.
 

Review:

While this book wasn't exactly what I was expecting, I still absolutely loved this new book by Wendy Higgins! Wendy Higgins takes us on yet another exciting adventure that is filled with thrilling moments and a slow-burn romance that will leave you begging for more. I will tell you now that this books might not be for everyone. This is a major set up book, but there is still plenty of action and excitement to please the reader. However, the ending is killer and with the cliffhanger is MAJOR. I am so excited to see where Ms. Higgins takes the next (and final) book!

As I mentioned, this book is definitely a set up book. I think there will be a lot more action and (hopefully) romance in the next book. Because of this, the first part of this book was a bit slow. It took me a little while to get into the characters, and really enjoy the story. However, this is mostly before the Hunt actually began. After the Hunt started though, this book took off and I never wanted to stop reading. I will admit that I have never read The Singing Bone so I don't know how it compares as a retelling, but I am definitely interested in reading it to see! The romance in this book is also very slow and gradual, but that made it feel more realistic. I actually really enjoyed this aspect of the book because it made me want Aerity and Paxton together that much more!!

This book was written in the 3rd person, so we are able to see the story from not only Aerity's perspective, but also Paxton's. This made the book more well-rounded in general as we were able to experience all sides of the story. We understood what made Paxton his broody, mysterious self. Aerity was a great female lead. She was kind, selfless, and strong. I admired her courage and bravery, and I am interested to see how she grows in the next novel as well. The romance between the two is very sweet. There's no love triangle, which was very nice, and it's pretty straightforward. The one aspect of this book though that really stood out to me was the focus on family. This was not only between Aerity and her sister, brother, and parents, but also between Paxton and his brother. You could feel the love they all have for each other, and the lengths they are willing to go to ensure their safety. The bonds that exist between every character are so strong and amazing!

Overall, this was an interesting start to this duology, and I can't wait to see where the story goes. The world-building was fantastic, and Wendy Higgins has created such a unique world! I am very intrigued with the Lashed Ones, as they will play a very large role in the next part of this series. I would definitely recommend this if you're a fan of Wendy Higgins, but seeing as this is a duology, you could also wait until the next book comes out so that you could just read these back to back. That way you don't have to deal with the terribleness that is the cliffhanger!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie