Thursday, April 27, 2017

Blog Tour: Harmful Rush

About the Book:
Title: Harmful Rush (Remedy #3)
Author: Debra Doxer
Publication date: April 24th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: 
Harmful Rush is a standalone, full-length novel set in the Remedy world. You do not have to read the first two books to read this book.
Skylark Samuels has a secret.
She’s not a normal teenager, although she plays one in real life. Pretending to be something you’re not isn’t easy, especially in high school where gossip is gold. For years, Sky manages to hide her uniqueness, until one fateful day when she exposes her gift, her curse, and all her fears come to pass. Now instead of going to college near home like she planned, she has to leave town and go someplace where the rumors can’t follow. The plan when she gets there: keep to herself and stay under the radar.
But blending into the background is impossible when local heartthrob Dylan Parks notices her. Even though Sky keeps her distance and doesn’t act like one of Dylan’s adoring fans, he goes out of his way to talk to her. Her. The girl who wants to be invisible.
Sky isn’t immune to Dylan’s charm, but getting close to him is a bad idea. It goes against the promise she made to herself. Besides, if Dylan knew the truth, he wouldn’t want her. If he discovered her secret, he’d treat her differently and possibly fear her. It’s happened before. But the more Sky gets to know Dylan, the harder it is to resist him, until fate intervenes.
A tragic event forces Sky to reveal herself to the one person she’s come to care for, and his reaction is unexpected. For the first time, she doesn’t feel so alone. But what she doesn’t realize is that she’s never been alone. When she finally lets her guard down, someone comes along who threatens to unravel everything, because being normal was never Sky’s destiny.

Author Bio:
Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”




Review:

"I want to live in the same moment I'm breathing in." 

This is the first book I have read by Debra Doxer, and boy was I impressed. I received an ARC of this book as part of the upcoming blog tour, and was relieved when I saw that it was a stand-alone. I was worried that I would be missing something or that I wouldn't be able to connect to the story as much as I wanted because this was technically the third book in the series. However, this is definitely not the case!! Debra Doxer wrote an excellent story that I would highly recommend checking out. It's the perfect mix of paranormal elements and contemporary romance. The college setting made for the perfect backdrop to the story, and every character was well-developed. 

"My whole life has been spent waiting for something more. Answers, reasons, truths." 

Skylark (whose name I love by the way for its uniqueness) is our MC, and she was absolutely amazing. I loved her from the get go, and she is easily relatable. She has a secret and when that secret is exposed, she's forced to start her life over in a new town and around new people. I loved how seamlessly this "paranormal" element was incorporated into the story. It definitely drove the book forward, and I was eager to see how exactly it would come into play during the story. One of the first people Sky meets when she starts her life over and begins college is Dylan. And boy did I love him! The chemistry that Sky and Dylan have is off-the-charts!! I loved their scenes together and he truly helped her become the person she was meant to be. 

"Every touch of his skin scorches mine, and the way he tastes is as though I've been craving some intangible thing forever, and I've finally found what satisfies it." 

One thing that I appreciated was the slow burn of Sky and Dylan's relationship. Ms. Doxer never forces their relationship in your face...she just lets their relationship build naturally. They experience ups and downs like any couple their age (or any age for that matter). They work together to build each other up and support each other in any way the other needs. From the minute they meet, you can easily see they are meant for each other. And I was definitely rooting for them the entire novel! 

"Just when I think he's going to push me away, he gathers me in his arms like he'll never let go." 

I wish I could go into the plot but I don't want to spoil anything. However, what I will say is that it is extremely unique and exciting. Ms. Doxer balances the mystery element with the romance/contemporary elements very well. There is plenty of exciting/thrilling scenes, especially toward the end, when Sky's secret is threatened to be exposed and she is left vulnerable and torn on what she should do. Ms. Doxer's writing is gorgeous, and the entire story is beautifully written. The story is very compelling and addicting, and I never wanted to stop reading!

I would highly recommend checking out this story by Debra Doxer! It is definitely one you do not want to miss, and it makes it even better that it's a standalone. I know that I will 100% be checking out the other books in the series as soon as possible though! The story is unforgettable and will stay with you long after you finish reading. With fantastic writing and an exciting story, this is a must read for 2017!


Happy reading :)

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~Cassie

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #96

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.

Cassie's Waiting On: 

Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent
Brave New GirlPublication Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis:

In a world where everyone is the same, one girl is the unthinkable: unique. A high-stakes fast-paced series launch from New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent.

We have brown hair. Brown eyes. Fair skin.
We are healthy and strong and smart.
But only one of us has ever had a secret.


Dahlia 16 sees her face in every crowd. She's nothing special—just one of five thousand girls created from a single genome to work for the greater good of the city.
Meeting Trigger 17 changes everything. He thinks she’s interesting. Beautiful. Unique. Which means he must be flawed. When Dahlia can't stop thinking about him—when she can't resist looking for him, even though that means breaking the rules—she realizes she's flawed, too. But if she’s flawed, then so are all her identicals. And any genome found to be flawed will be recalled.
Destroyed.
Getting caught with Trigger would seal not only Dahlia's fate, but that of all five thousand girls who share her face. But what if Trigger is right? What if Dahlia is different?
Suddenly the girl who always follows the rules is breaking them, one by one by one. . . .
 

I'm always interested when Rachel Vincent writes a new story, so I added this to me TBR without even reading the description. But after reading the synopsis I knew I wanted to read it more than ever. This is the first time Rachel Vincent is writing a sci-fi novel, so I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Roar (Stormheart, #1) by Cora Carmack 
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017


Synopsis:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.


Has Cora Carmack ever published a fantasy book? I'm not really sure, but I know her contemporaries are great. I know it sounds weird, but I love books about arranged marriages. I think because most times it doesn't work out and the girl ends up being a huge badass. It seems like Aurora is going to be such a great character in this book and I can't wait to for it to come out!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Blitz: How We Fall

About the Book:
Title: How We Fall
Author: Melissa Toppen
Publication date: April 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis: 
It’s not always about how we fall- it’s about where we end up once we land.
I remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cole Lincoln. It still feels like yesterday when he stumbled into my life with his messy brown hair and dark eyes. Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I knew right then and there that he was going to change everything.
From that point on Cole and I were always together—inseparable—and I naively believed we’d be best friends forever. But forever didn’t last nearly as long as I expected.
We grew up and grew apart, life driving the distance between us, but my love for Cole never faltered. Even long after he moved away, leaving me and our little town behind, I still carried a piece of him with me every single day. Because Cole wasn’t just my childhood best friend- the boy who knew me better than anyone else in the whole world. He was also my first love- a part of my very core.
When a tragic death brings us face to face again after six years, every single memory comes rushing to the surface. Only this is not the boy I fell in love with all those years ago. The man before me is hardened, intimidating, and so damn sexy I practically melt when those dark eyes meet mine for the first time in six years.
And like the first time he walked into my life, I know with complete certainty that everything is about to change.
How We Fall is a STANDALONE Contemporary Romance.


Author Bio:
Melissa Toppen is a Reader's Choice Award Winning and Bestselling Romance Author of New Adult, Contemporary, Erotic and Romantic Suspense. She is a lover of books and enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a good novel. She has a soft spot for Romance and focuses her writing in that direction; writing what she loves to read.
Melissa was born and raised in a small town in Ohio and now resides in Cincinnati with her husband and two children, where she writes full time.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Melissa loves going to concerts and is obsessed with the T.V. shows Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time and Outlander.

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~Cassie

Monday, April 24, 2017

Discussion: Why Thirteen Reasons Why is Not OK

I'm sure you've heard the buzz surrounding the book/tv show Thirteen Reasons Why. As book bloggers, we may know Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was published in 2007 by Razorbill. Since the debut of the TV show on Netflix, book sales skyrocketed on numerous bestseller lists including NYT and Audible. Was it a good book? When I read it, I was in middle school and I hated it. I didn't feel the need to re-read it before watching the TV show, so these opinions are solely based on my opinion of the TV-show adaptation. As a school psychologist, I watched this show critically from a mental health standpoint and cringed during many of the parts. I am writing this blog post to share with you the main problems I have with this show and how it portrayed suicide.

If you are unaware of what this book is about: here is a short summary

You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.



#1) Hannah blamed everybody for her suicide 
Not just Hannah, EVERYONE pointed fingers. It was his fault, her fault, the schools fault, the parents fault. These tapes were the blame game, and it finally put the power of voice back in her hands. I am aware that many of the individuals on the tapes were in the wrong for bullying and engaging in other illegal actions. However, this gives the illusion that someone is to blame in the case of suicide, which is not the case. This is dangerous and can perpetuate the idea of revenge suicide being the only way to get someones point across. 

#2) There was no mention of mental health/depression 
90% of those who commit or attempt to commit suicide have depression or another mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. Isn't that worth bringing up? Suicide is an important topic, but so is mental health. Everyone always talks about the "stigma" of mental illnesses, but how can the stigma disappear if it's pushed away and superficial causes are brought to the surface?

#3) No School Support 
Why was this demonstrating that schools react like this when students reach out for help? INACCURATE! That is illegal. Threat assessment would have been performed, mental health professionals and parents would have been notified. This is extremely upsetting given that if adolescents who might be depressed are watching, they may be discouraged from seeking help because they think that nobody will listen to them.

#4) It shows that there is a point to suicide 
Hannah's point was to make other people think about their actions. Is it good to reflect on bullying and realizing that you made a wrong decision? Of course! However, killing oneself doesn't "teach anyone a lesson". Suicide never has a positive outcome and this TV show is demonstrating that this was the only solution to seeing a change in anyones actions. Basically, it seemed like Hannah was a martyr whose death finally allowed people to see the problems of their actions. Say it with me, suicide is never the answer. 

#5) "Research shows that exposure to another person's suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide."
Where does this come from? NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) issued a cautionary article regarding the TV show "13 Reasons Why" and this was included in the article. This show portrayed graphic rape and suicide scenes which correlates with "graphic or sensationalized accounts of death". If you'd like to read the article, I have a link for you right here:
NASP Article


I'd just like to know - who is this helping? I'd love to know your opinions of this show or the book. Now I realize that on the surface that the "moral of the story" is to be nice because you don't know how your actions are really affecting people. However, I feel like this TV show does NOT accurately depict suicide or mental illnesses, as a lot of books about mental health actually don't. I didn't mean to offend anyone with this post, they are simply my opinions and I'd also love to hear yours in the comments below!


- Jocelyn

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the PictureAbout the Book:
Title: The Girl in the Picture
Author: Alexandra Monir
Pub. Date: Nov. 15, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House
Pages: 272 
Rating: 3/5 stars




Synopsis:

Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep.

The Girl in the Picture.

After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace's girlfriend.

Nicole is that girl and now she's the primary suspect in his murder.

But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him?

Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed.

Review:

This is a tough review to write because on one hand I really liked the story, but also it was a bit predictable and cliche which ended up taking away from the entire book. I loved the mystery part of the novel and I thought it was very well done. It kept me interested until the very end, and while the person behind the murder wasn't a big surprise to me (I did figure it out before the person was ultimately revealed), it still was a jaw dropper when everything comes to light. Alexandra Monir has always known how to weave a good mystery and this book is certainly no exception. I love her writing, and her novels are the perfect length. The story is fast-paced and extremely well written (especially since it's dual POV). If you're already a fan of Alexandra, then this book is for definitely for you! 

The story is told for 2 perspectives, Nicole, the shy girl who is a brilliant musician, and Lana, the queen-bee who's not so nice and gets everything she wants. I thought that Alexandra wrote the dual POV very well, and the stark contrast in their personalities really drove the story forward. When secrets come out, and Nicole becomes "The Girl in the Picture" everyone turns against her. However, it was nice to see that her mom played a major role in supporting Nicole. It's refreshing when the parent actually plays a role in the story, and helped her avoid making mistakes that could have irrevocably changed her life. Both characters are extremely well-developed, and I felt that we knew both girls very well by the end of the story. 

The one thing that I didn't like though was the love triangle. I didn't think it served a purpose at all and wasn't really needed. I thought it was going to play a much bigger role in the murder in the end, but it didn't. I would have been perfectly fine with how much focus was placed on the love triangle if it did actually end up being the answer to everything. Another thing that slightly bothered me was the ending. I thought it was a bit rushed and it was a bit too easy for the truth to be revealed. 

Overall, The Girl in the Picture was a solid story that had well-developed characters and an intriguing mystery that keeps the reader interested. There is a paranormal element (just like all of her books) which added a thrill to the story but it didn't distract from the plot in any way. While it wasn't everything I wanted, I would still recommend checking it out especially for fans of psychological thrillers and suspense novels.



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #95

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.

Cassie's Waiting On: 
The Battlemage (The Summoner, #3)

The Battlemage (The Summoner #3) by Taran Matharu
Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis:

One boy's ability to summon demons will change the fate of an empire ... The epic conclusion to the fantasy trilogy described as 'Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings meets Pokemon'.

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

Epic battles, dramatic revelations and breathtaking drama await in the third and final book in the New York Times bestselling Summoner series.


Words can't even describe how excited I am for this finale in The Summoner series!! Taran Matharu has consistently delivered an epic story that has swept me away in an amazing adventure, and I know this one will be no different.  It's sad that this will be the end of the series, but I'm excited to see what happens to Fletcher and his friends!


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson 
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017 


Synopsis:

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.


I absolutely love fantasy and books about the paranormal. Since Evelayn has the ability to shape shift, it seems like this is an awesome cross between the two. I feel like I haven't read a good book that features shapeshifting in quite some time so I can't wait to dive into this!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: What Light

What LightAbout the Book:
Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Pub. Date: Oct. 18, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 251 
Rating: 4/5 stars




Synopsis:

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .
Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

Review:

I was actually really surprised by the low rating that this book has received on Goodreads when I first started reading it (and I still am), but I didn't let this sway me while I was reading. I also tried to go into this book with a clear mind, and not compare it to Jay Asher's brilliant work (Thirteen Reasons Why, which if you haven't checked out yet, I highly recommend that you do). So with those 2 things in mind, I ventured into reading his newest novel, and was extremely impressed. Did it blow me away, no, but this was a cute, quick story that was the perfect Christmas-time read. I read this literally 2 days before Christmas, and it had everything that I wanted at that time...Christmas trees, pretty lights, hot cocoa, ugly sweaters, candy canes...I could go on and on! Honestly, I could easily see this being a Hallmark Christmas movie (and I'm a sucker for those things). The story was incredibly heartwarming and just a feel-good, light romance, and exactly what I needed. 

Jay Asher delivered another book with characters that you easily begin to care about as soon as the story begins. Sierra was a caring, kind person that just wanted the best for everyone. She was down-to-earth, and a great MC to read about. Caleb made me swoon multiple several hundred times, and despite his secret (which wasn't as dark as the synopsis made it out to be), he more than made up for his "mistake." I honestly loved his character, and how selfless he was. Every girl deserves a Caleb in her life. But most importantly, I loved how mature they were in their relationship. When they got into an argument, they actually used their words and didn't just make those snap judgments that every other couple in books these days tends to do. It made their relationship more believable to me because it showed that 2 people can actually be adults and handle an argument maturely. Also, despite how quickly they "fell" for each other, their relationship seemed extremely natural and progressed at a normal pace. Again, this was refreshing to read since this isn't common in books anymore. Caleb and Sierra's relationship is very clean, and it focused more on them getting to know each other than trying to get in each other's pants. 

I will say that I flew through this book and easily read it in one sitting. In some ways it actually felt more like a novella rather than a full length novel. I'm not necessarily saying that I wanted more pages in the book, but the book just seemed incredibly short to me. Nothing particularly exciting or dramatic happened in the story, which in my opinion would have felt out of place if it did. And those are my only complaints (which really aren't complaints more just observations). 

Overall, Jay Asher's, What Light is a lighthearted, fun Christmas romance. Sure, you could easily write this one off as "just another holiday inspired story," but it truly is a great novel that takes you into a winter wonderland for a couple hours. It's not as gripping or thought-provoking as 13 Reasons Why, but I never expected it to be. So grab some hot chocolate, cookies, and this book, and read this book now! 



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Friday, April 14, 2017

Blitz: April Book Fair

April’s Freebie Fair! 46 FREE Books for a LIMITED TIME!
If you’re looking for free books and a way to connect with new and exciting authors, you’ve come to the right place! Visit this link and you’ll be able to select up to 50 FREE BOOKS! Definitely take advantage of this while you have the chance! We also have a Guest Post about one of my favorite genres...STEAMPUNK! I 100% agree with all of this, and steampunk is just so much fun to read!
GUEST POST

5 Elements of Steampunk & Why You Should Add it to Your TBR List

1. Beautiful World-Building 

 howls moving castle GIF


Steampunk is science fiction which takes place in the past. An alternate history where inventions, gadgets, and personal conveniences do not belong, and yet, are there. Often these inventions are powered by steam, hydraulics, clockwork, gyroscopic action, or pretty much anything but gasoline. The author has to create a beautiful Victorian setting where mechanical items exist that shouldn’t in Victorian history.

2. Strong Female Characters – 

HULU GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


It was in the Victorian era that feminism grew by leaps and bounds and the suffrage movement gained major traction. Because of the strong influences of women in the time period in which steampunk has its roots, they tend to take centerstage in the interpretation of this genre. Who doesn’t like a woman who steals the show or takes charge?


3. Action and Adventure – 

                      

What would inventive fiction be without an inventive plotline? In Steampunk you will find a bit of drama, a bit of fantasy, a tad of mystery, but generally, you’ll find adventure that expands the horizons of your imagination… often viewed from an airship or mechanical animal.

4. Fun Fashion and Costumes – 

 stardust robert de niro charlie cox michelle pfeiffer neil gaiman GIF

Not many genres can boast an entire theme of Cosplay. People love to dress in steampunk fashions for Comic Cons, book conventions, Halloween, and parties. Even the high fashion world has runway shows dedicated to this style of dressing. Go to Etsy and search “steampunk” you’ll find all sorts of fun things to wear while you read.

5. It’s More Familiar Than You Think


The gifs in this post are all from movies or shows you may have watched: Wild Wild West with Will Smith, Stardust with Claire Danes, the animated film, Howl’s Moving Castle, and episodes of Dr. Who. If you’ve loved any of these shows, you’ve already gotten a taste of Steampunk. Don’t pass up the chance to read a book or watch a movie just because of the clever combination of past and present themes. Give it a try and you may find yourself a new fan of the genre!

By Pauline Creeden
http://paulinecreeden.com
http://facebook.com/PaulineCreeden


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~Cassie

Thursday, April 13, 2017

ARC Review: Royal Bastards

About The Book:

  Title: Royal Bastards 
  Author: Andrew Shvarts 
  Pub. Date: May 30th, 2017
  Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
  Pages: 352
  Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult 
  Rate: 4.5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Review:

I feel like a lot of fantasy books recently have been exactly the same. Basically if you've read one, you've read them all. Royal Bastards breaks that mold. I was so excited to FINALLY read a refreshing fantasy novel. Royal Bastards is jam-packed with an eclectic cast of characters that really make the book stand out. No one character is alike, but they are all (well... mostly) lovable. Basically Tilla, her half-brother (Jax), annoying childhood friend (Miles), sexy warrior (Zell), and princess to a nearby Kingdom (Lyriana) witness something that happened that puts a huge mark on their head because nobody involved wanted any witnesses. So they go on the run to get back to Lyriana's Kingdom where they will be safe. On their way they encounter murders, monsters, and other disasters.


I loved the characters. Tilla and Jax were immediately my favorite characters. They were relatable, funny, and crass, however it was clear that they cared about each other and their friends. Lyriana was your token princess, which I loved. She is everything you'd think a princess would be - she's quiet, gentle, and kind. I loved this because sometimes you read fantasy novels and the princess is just so unbelievably unruly or unprincess like that it makes the whole novel almost inconceivable. Then there's Zell.  He comes from the North, whose people have violent beliefs and morals. He's very rough around the edges, but oh so swoony (trust me on this one). I shipped him and Tilla from the very beginning, they are SO funny together. And finally, Miles. I HATED Miles. It's not that I didn't like how he was written, because I think he adds a lot to the story and that was the intention. But I just disliked him from the very start and he just annoyed me more and more as the book went on. While there were times he was useful, he was mostly clingy, helpless, and annoying. He was so cringe-worthy that I literally rolled my eyes whenever he did something. I think
I disliked him so much because whenever he did ANYTHING he would always want someone to validate him on a job well done. You're ALL in this mess together Miles, get over yourself. All of the characters are definitely memorable. Their journey puts them through a lot of troubles and stress, and seeing them go from strangers to basically family makes the book just so much better.

With the hilarity of a contemporary novel and all the action of a fantasy, Royal Bastards is a hilarious, fast-paced fantasy novel that will have you laughing, swooning, and on the edge of your seat. I would give you recommendations based on books you've read, but this book is so unique and unlike any other fantasy book that I don't think it's fair to do so. You just have to read it yourself! Was Royal Bastards on your book-radar before? I hope it is now!



Thank you to Disney Hyperion for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #94

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.

Cassie's Waiting On: 

Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Violet Grenade
Synopsis:

DOMINO: A runaway with blood on her hands.

CAIN: A silent boy about to explode.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.


I'm so intrigued by the synopsis for this new book by Victoria Scott. I'm not sure what to expect, and if I know anything about Ms. Scott it's that unpredictable is what she does best! I'm really looking forward to checking this one when it comes out in May. It's definitely going to be different from what we have come to know of Ms. Scott, and that's one thing that makes this one so exciting!


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Lucky in Love by Kasie West 
Publication Date: July 25th, 2017 


Synopsis:

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment --

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?


This book seems so cute! I'm not usually one for frilly contemps, but Kasie West has a way of making them swoony and enjoyable. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is waiting for the release of this one!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Blitz: Too Much

About the Book:
Title: Too Much
Author: Ella Miles
Publication date: April 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis: 
A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.
He’s not coming.
He promised.
He swore.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t f**king here.
Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got sh**ty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.

Author Bio:
Ella Miles writes sexy romance with strong females that could kick your butt if you piss them off, which they often do to the men that fall for them. She's currently living her own happily ever after near the Rocky Mountains with her high school sweetheart husband. Her heart is also taken by her goofy two year old black lab that is scared of everything, including her own shadow. Ella is the author of the Aligned series. Get a free book by visiting her website. Or by stalking her on Twitter or Facebook.

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~Cassie

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: Fear the Drowning Deep

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn MarshAbout the Book:
Title: Fear the Drowning Deep
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Pub. Date: Oct. 11, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Pages: 304
Rating: 3.5 stars




Synopsis:

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Review:

This debut novel from Sarah Glenn Marsh truly surprised me with how much I enjoyed the story. With a fast pace and unique twists, this book is sure to impress many readers. It was dark and haunting, and extremely original. I can definitely say that I didn't guess most of the plot, and it was a refreshing read. However, the one thing that made me lower my rating was the insta-love (I'll go into this in a bit). Set against a gorgeous backdrop of the Isle of Man in early 1900s, Sarah Glenn Marsh has written an impressive novel that shows she is an author to watch!

The one part of this novel that stood out to me was Ms. Marsh's writing. It was beautiful, and you're instantly transported to the Isle of Man. The beginning chapters grip you and never let you go. As I said, the book is very fast paced and I was never bored. The mystery of what is truly behind the disappearances of the young girls on the island is something you would never expect, and I loved this unique twist to the story. I had a lot of theories, but nothing even remotely came close to what was actually going on. The other aspect of this novel that stood out to me was the focus on family. Considering this is a book that actually features the main character's parents, it already gets a gold star from me since this is extremely rare in any book these days. But Bridey's relationship with her family is strong and a very important aspect of the story. They all stood by each other even when the rest of the Island was turned against Bridey and Fynn. I loved that her family played a role in the story, and it truly enhanced the story. 

I did enjoy Bridey as our main character. She's headstrong, stubborn, and willing to do whatever it takes to help her family. However, she is very much the outcast because of the events surrounding her grandfather's death and the "crazy" things she saw. Regardless of this, she's determined to live her life how she sees fit. She has big dreams of getting off the Island, and I was rooting for her throughout the entire story. Fynn was a great character as well, but as I said, the big problem I had with this book was the insta-love. They didn't even speak 2 words to each other and they (well mainly Fynn first and foremost) was in love with Bridey. Their entire romance was incredibly rushed and because of this felt extremely unbelievable. And then when the big twist comes, Bridey does a complete 180 and doesn't love him anymore. I don't know....it just made me do a huge eye roll while reading. The ending also left me feeling a bit unsatisfied because I felt that it too was rushed and then the story just ended. I wanted more of a conclusion overall.

Sarah Glenn Marsh has written a great debut novel that definitely proves she is an author to keep an eye on. I know that I will be checking out future books from her for sure! Despite the insta-love and the slightly unsatisfying ending, I would recommend checking this one out. It's fast-paced, beautifully written, and features something new and unique, and who doesn't like that? 


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1)

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)
About the Book:
Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1)
Author: Jessica Cluess
Pub. Date: Sept. 20, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 416
Rating: 3.5/5 stars



Synopsis:

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

Review:

Jessica Cluess' debut novel features a unique spin on witches and Victorian England, and is sure to impress many readers who enjoy fantasy. While I did have some ups and downs with the book, I was still intrigued from the get go, and greatly enjoyed the story. The beginning sets up the story nicely, and the plot moves along at a fairly good pace (the middle being a bit slow). With thrilling displays of magic, dangerously terrifying creatures, and an interesting world, this book is sure to be a hit! 

The world building was fantastic in my opinion, and I loved the way that things were slowly revealed over the course of the story. We don't just get an info dump, which is one of my pet peeves when we're being introduced to a new world. Jessica Cluess weaves Victorian England elements into the story seamlessly, and it served as the perfect background to the plot. I loved learning about the different monsters that plagued the world, and there was so much more to the history that we first learn about early on. Jessica's writing is terrific and she has such a great talent. I was never confused while reading, and thought everything was very clear. In fact, everything was set up perfectly for future books in the series, and I'm excited to learn more about the world later on! 

Henrietta was a good main character to follow. She's stubborn and fiercely independent. I loved her strong, determined attitude. However, I didn't feel that instant connection with her like I usually would when a book is from only one character's perspective. I do think that due to the events at the end of this book, we'll get to know her much better in future books and see her potential recognized. The other characters in the book were great as well but I did think they were very one-dimensional. Magnus, Blackwood, and Rook were given more attention than others, but I did find myself wanting to learn more about them. Even though they played major roles in the story, I didn't feel like I knew that much about them or why they should be important. Nevertheless, Jessica does do a good job at making sure we don't know which characters are good or bad (in fact, none of these characters are strictly good or bad). In this way, every character was relatable because they had to make tough choices, some of which were not the best or smartest, but dealt with the consequences. It definitely made for some interesting twists later on in the story though to see which characters were ultimately the betrayers to Henrietta.

There is some romance in the story, but it definitely isn't the main focus. I wouldn't necessarily say that this book has a love triangle because feelings are kind of all over the place, but there are hints at a possible love triangle developing in the next book, so I'm kind of interested to see where this goes. Overall though, the romance is very light and very much in line with the time period I feel. Despite the romantic relationships that seem to be developing, I thought the standout part of this novel was the focus on friendship and working as a team. I loved not only the support certain characters gave to each other, but also how they cared deeply for each other. It was a true testament of friendship to stay by each other's sides despite everything that occurs in the climax and conclusion of this novel.

As I mentioned, there were some slow parts, but there were plenty of action scenes to make up for this. There were also plenty of twists and turns that I (and the characters) never saw coming, which kept the book plenty interesting. I would definitely recommend checking this book out as it is a promising start to a potentially excellent series. It might not be for everyone, but I am highly looking forward to reading the next book in the series!



Happy reading :)

~Cassie