Friday, May 26, 2017

Audiobook Review: Heartless

About The Book:

  Title: Heartless 
  Author: Marissa Meyer 
  Pub. Date: November 8th, 2016
  Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 
  Pages: 453 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings 
  Rate: 2.5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Review:

If it's one thing that will make or break an audiobook for me, it's the narrator. There's been too many audiobooks that I just had to stop because the narrator's voice was so nauseating. Lucky for me, Heartless had an amazing narrator that kept me engaged throughout the entire book. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to make me love this. I don't know anyone who loves Alice in Wonderland as much as me, I've been a huge fan ever since I was a little girl. I also am a fan of Ms. Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series. So, I was HIGHLY anticipating the release of this last year. Heartless follows Cath, who is destined to become the Queen of Hearts.

Ok - the Queen of Hearts is SUCH an infamous villain, you can't help but be drawn into her story. She's truly iconic. She's so iconic that the majority of this book is almost unbelievable. Cath doesn't want to be married to the King, she wants to open her own bakery. This is all fine and well, but the only thing she does is complain and whine, never doing anything constructive about her situation to change it. Does this sound like the Queen of Hearts you know? It doesn't sound characteristic of the one I'm familiar of. While she develops a crush on the court jester to the King, she becomes even more idiotic. She starts blaming everyone in her life for her problems except for herself. Literally everyone. It's Hatter's fault, or her maid, her mother's, father's, the King's, and the list can go on and on. This would be fine if it wasn't the ORIGIN story to the famous Queen of Hearts. You're meaning to tell me the Queen of Hearts was so caught up over a boy she refused to function in the world of Wonderland? I just can't believe it. I of course loved the whimsy and magic of Wonderland, and seeing our favorite classic characters the Hatter, March Hare, and the Cheshire Cat. However, I don't think this did our evil Queen of Hearts justice.

So while the narrator of this audiobook definitely made this somewhat enjoyable, I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped. The whimsy of Wonderland was definitely brought to life with Heartless, which I obviously loved. I just couldn't get over how unbelievable Cath was as the Queen of Hearts. I thought her origin story would be a little bit more epic than being sad over a boy she knew for a few months at the longest. Are you a fan of Alice in Wonderland? What did you think of Heartless?



- Jocelyn

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cover Reveal: Amnesia

About the Book:
Title: Amnesia
Author: Cambria Hebert
Publication date: June 12, 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Synopsis: 
I washed ashore in a little lake town.
A place where everyone knows everyone, yet…
No one knows me.
I don’t know me.
If a woman doesn’t know her own name, does she really exist?
I don’t know my natural hair color, my birthdate, or where I live.
I am invisible.
To everyone, to everything, even to myself.
Except to him.
I see the recognition deep in his stare, the way it lingers on my face as if I’m a puzzle he’s desperate to put together.
I just want answers, the truth… knowledge.
His lips are sealed. Still, his eyes beguile me.
I can’t trust anyone, not even myself. Someone wants me dead, the same someone who tried to bury me in a watery grave.
They’ll come for me again… I won’t know their face.
I don’t even know mine.
I am amnesia.

Author Bio:
Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.
Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).
Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.
Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

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~Cassie

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #100

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 Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride 
Publication Date: July 4, 2017
The Bakersville Dozen
Synopsis:
You have four days to locate five treasured trophies. Break the rules and you all die. Happy hunting!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.


This sounds like an interested mystery novel...hopefully it's unique enough that it won't be predictable because that's always the killer (pun intended) with these novels. This is the first book I'm reading by Ms. McBride, so I'm excited to see what she has in store for readers!

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 
This is Not the End by Chandler Baker 
Publication Date: August 8th, 2017


Synopsis:
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.

The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.

Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.

The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.

Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.

Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can't move on?


After reading Scythe by Neal Shusterman, which also talks about resurrection technology, I must admit I think this subject is very intriguing. While both seem entirely different in subject matter, I can't wait to see Mr. Baker's spin on the topic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blog Tour: Chance at Redemption

About the Book:
Title: Chance at Redemption (Madison Square #3)
Author: Samatha Harris
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: May 23, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:
Gwen Stevens had a privileged life until her father spoke three little words that turned her world upside down. “You’re cut off.”
Broke and desperate, Gwen is forced to accept a waitressing job, but this glimmer of hope has a price. As if being a cocktail waitress isn’t bad enough, she has to do it in a dive bar called The Den, and her bad luck doesn’t stop there. She also needs to deal with the new owner, a blue-eyed, self-righteous ass determined to make her life miserable.
Liam Sinclair walked away from the entitlement and obligation his family planned for him, vowing to make his own way in the world…
Adjusting to life as a new business owner, Liam has experienced more than his fair share of setbacks. When his only waitress breaks her leg, his sister takes it upon herself to hire a replacement—a spoiled, self-indulgent hothead with too much makeup and more than enough attitude. Gwen represents the world he’s trying to escape, a world of excess and greed that he was never cut out for.
Appearances can be deceiving, and first impressions aren’t always right…
Despite their apparent differences, the tension between them turns to a fiery passion that neither of them can resist. Together they find balance and learn to appreciate the simpler things in life. But Gwen soon discovers that old habits die hard, and one mistake is all it takes to ruin everything.
Forgiveness must be earned, but even a villain deserves a chance at redemption…

Author Bio:
Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid.
Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.
Review:

I have been a fan of the Madison Square series ever since it came out, so when I was able to read the third book a little early...well I jumped on the chance! Similar to the previous 2 novels, Chance at Redemption can be read as a standalone, but it's so much better when you read them all start to finish. The characters from the prior novels make appearances quite frequently, so it's nice to be able to catch up with them and see how those relationships are going while still enjoying a brand new couple/story. This one focuses on Liam and Gwen, both characters which were featured in other books. I was very excited to read Liam's story, but I wasn't so sure about Gwen. Gwen was always pretty nasty, but I was interested to see where Ms. Harris would take her character. This is a nice, easy read that you'll get through quickly and is the perfect way to start the summer!

Liam was an excellent character in this novel. I loved everything about him from his big heart to his overall good nature. He is easily likable, and I wanted the best for him throughout the entire book. He's had a pretty rough life dealing with his parents, and now that he's finally doing something he loves and making a great name for himself, he's still facing backlash for those choices. But he pushes through and doesn't care for anyone's opinion on his choice of career or lifestyle. The one thing I loved about his character was his characterization. Ms. Harris did an excellent job at developing his character throughout the story. We watch this man who is very closed-off become someone who takes risks and opens himself up to the girl he loves. Gwen on the other hand was a pretty tough character to like. As I mentioned, she has a very strong attitude and is basically mean to the core. She's very entitled, something that I thought was still there in the end, and I did find her "transformation" a little too sudden. But she did grow on me by the end of the book. I would have liked to see her do a little more around Liam to show how much she truly changed (instead of just superficial changes that is). 

The one thing I will say that I didn't feel as much in this book as the previous books was the chemistry. I couldn't 100% get into Liam and Gwen's relationship. To me, they seemed more of the type of couple that would stay together for maybe a year and then realize they were just good friends, not soulmates. There wasn't that buyable "spark" or passion between them like I felt with the other relationships featured in this series (which I felt was most obvious when those other couples would be in the scenes with Liam and Gwen). However, I do want to say that I think their relationship was excellently written because it was extremely realistic and in many ways, relatable. Who doesn't have ups and downs when it comes to love? I do think that given some time, Liam and Gwen would be perfect for each other, but I think Gwen still needs to find out who she truly is first before committing to the type of relationship that Liam wants. 

The one thing I was thrilled to see was a wedding between a certain couple. I'll refrain from saying who in case you haven't read the other books yet, but it was a long time coming and I'm glad they finally got their happily ever after. My only other complaint is that I felt the story kind of cut off and there was no true resolution. I think an epilogue would have helped a great deal because then I would maybe feel better about how things were left between Liam and Gwen in the end. 

I still highly recommend reading this book if you are a fan of contemporary romance or this series! While it isn't my favorite in the Madison Square series, I really enjoyed it and was easily drawn right back into these characters' world. I truly hope there's another book in this series because I don't want to say goodbye yet!

Happy reading :)
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~Cassie

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns & Roses #3)

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)About the Book:
Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children Books
Pub. Date: May 2, 2017
Pages: 699
Rating: 5/5 stars



Synopsis:

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
 

Review:

“When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.” 

I seriously have no idea where to even begin with this review. I'm going to try not to include any spoilers, but if there are any, I'll give you fair warning before reading further. Honestly, I am absolutely blown away by this novel and it took me several days to adjust to the world after finishing this beautiful book. I honestly don't know how SJM can top this book, but let's get real here...she will because she's just that amazing. I read this in one sitting overnight because I simply couldn't put it down. It's true, this book is a Court of Pain and Feels but it is absolutely mindblowing and I felt incomplete after finishing. SJM seriously took her writing to new heights, and I can't even begin to explain how fantastic it was to experience this journey.

“The great joy and honour of my life has been to know you. To call you my family. And I am grateful - more than I can possibly say - that I was given this time with you all.” 

I have been such a fan of this series from the very beginning because I always felt that it showed Sarah J. Maas' extreme writing talent. It's so different from the Throne of Glass series, and I loved the creativity and dedication that she puts into this story. You can clearly tell just how much all of these characters mean to her, and every scene is richly described. Her writing truly sweeps you away and it's something that you easily lose yourself in. I know that if someone would ask me tomorrow to leave this world behind and instead go into Feyre's world, I would not even hesitate. This story is complex and I never expected for SJM to build on the world so much more than previously, but she does, and it's excellent. There is a great progression to the story, and this means new faces and new places come into play all while still developing our beloved characters.

“What we think to be our greatest weakness can sometimes be our biggest strength.” 

The book starts with Feyre back in the Spring Court with Tamlin. While some people might have found this part slow, I think it showcased just how far Feyre has come as a character. The strength that it took to go back and set the foundation for her (and Rhysand's) plot was utterly fantastic! I think it helped set up the story perfectly and it showed us Feyre's mindset at the time. I definitely got some Aelin feels in this part because of how awesome and kickass Feyre was, which just added to my love for her character. But the best thing: Feyre's characterization. I thought she was well-developed already, but SJM added yet another layer to her character. Feyre is such a strong and powerful character and has come such a long way since the first book. Looking back, I can't even believe that this is the same person...and that is an excellent thing. It shows how much Rhys and the Night Court have impacted her and aided her in the person she was to ultimately become. 

“I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have... the wait was worth it.” 

Rhys is as perfect as ever. I mean come on...who doesn't love him?! The way he treats Feyre made me swoon every darn time, and she is his High Lady in every single way. He gives her something that Tamlin never did...respect. He believes in her and that she can accomplish amazing thing. He allows her to spread her wings (<-- this is an excellent pun btw...I know I'm really not as funny as I think) and embrace her magic. The constant support and love Rhys shows her is something every girl should have. Plus, he's freaking hilarious...you can't get a better man! I honestly will never get enough of him and he will always stay firmly in my top 5 book boyfriends. Obviously the chemistry between Feyre and Rhys is off the charts, and all the sex scenes are perfectly written. I love them together so much, it just makes my heart happy. 

“It's a rare person to face who they are and not run from it - not be broken by it.” 

Cassian and Nesta are brilliant and I firmly believe that they will be a focus in one of the upcoming books. I need them together, and I need to have a book with them as the main characters because it will be such an epic story! They have the perfect dynamic that is present throughout the entire book. We learn more about Mor, and my heart broke for her multiple times. I just wanted to give her a giant hug, but I loved delving deeper into her character. Azriel is brooding as ever, but I love him. There is definitely something up with him and Elain, and I need to know what that something is. Amren's sass is pure gold and I love her so much. There are definitely some surprises with her character that left me (along with the characters) shocked. We also meet a new High Lord, Helion and god do I love him! He has to be in these next 3 books because he's awesome. We also see the return of the Bone Carver and the Suriel. And seriously...they play epic roles in the story. And Tamlin...I have to mention this guy. I actually liked how SJM handled him in this book (especially at the end). It was realistic and believable. And (Lord help me), I didn't hate him anymore. 

“My rage had become a living thing inside my chest, an echoing heartbeat that soothed me to sleep and stirred me to waking.” 

My favorite part about this book though (besides all the other stuff) is its unpredictability. Seriously, SJM gave me a heart attack multiple times. Just when I thought the story was going in one direction and bombshell twist would come out of nowhere and completely change the entire story. And there was not 1, not 2, but 3 major things at the end in which I was freaking out and making very weird noises that I'm sure my neighbors in my apartment building did not appreciate. The one MAJOR (and I mean MAJOR) thing involving a certain character at the end had me with tears in my eyes and my face the picture of shock. I seriously have never been more scared for a character in my life, and I was praying so hard that SJM didn't do what she did. I think I stopped breathing at one point, so HOW DARE YOU SARAH J MAAS!! HOW DARE YOU SCARE ME LIKE THAT! 

“It is a new world, and we must decide how we are to end this old one and begin it anew.” 

If you couldn't tell, I LOVED this book! I still am not okay after reading the entire battle since SJM made me lose my mind, but everything was tied up nicely and the conclusion was everything I could want. Most of the main questions were answered, but she definitely planted the seeds for a new foe for our group to be facing. I think it would be interesting if the books were from different characters' perspectives, but I'm never going to mind more Feyre and Rhys. This is by far the best read of 2017, and you need to read it as soon as humanly possible!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #99

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: 
Salvaged (Saints of Denver, #4)
Salvaged (Saints of Denver #4) by Jay Crownover 
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

Synopsis:
Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancĂ©e who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.


I cannot even tell you how excited I am for Poppy and Wheeler's story.  This is one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, and I know that Wheeler is going to steal my heart after the first page (heck, he's already done it just from the little bit he's been in the series so far). I already know this book is going to be a masterpiece! June 20th can't come soon enough!


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 
Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3) by J.R. Ward 
Publication Date: August 1st, 2017 


Synopsis:

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.


OMG - I absolutely LOVE this series. The southern charm, family ties, and sensual romance make this one of my favorite series EVER. If you haven't picked up this series yet, I highly encourage you to do so! It's also full of mystery, betrayal, and lots of sexiness. I must admit my favorite character is Ginny and I hope we get to see so much more of her in this installment!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Blog Tour: The Truth About Happily Ever After

About the Book:
Title: The Truth About Happily Ever After
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 16 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis: 
Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.
A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in The Truth About Happily Ever After, a contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa’s perfect summer falls apart.
Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her friend Miller’s support, she’s determined to prove that she’s more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she’s finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she’s ready for something real.

Author Bio:
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.



Review:

I'm a sucker for theme park princess books, so I knew after reading the description of this book I had to read it! The Truth About Happily Ever After was a cute read that will appeal to a lot of readers who are looking for something light to read. It felt like a good summer read to me, so it's coming out at the perfect time. I really liked how the author tied Disney into this without ever saying the actual name. I thought the way she went about it was brilliant, and it added to the atmosphere of the book. While I wasn't sure about our MC, Alyssa, at first, I did grow to like her. This book is all about the importance of friendship and how sometimes true love comes to you in the way you didn't originally expect!

While I have no actual experience to relate to with being a theme park princess, I could easily believe that this is an accurate portrayal of what the actors have to go through. However, I hope it's not that cutthroat and that people aren't picked apart like that because it's such a shame if that's truly the case. I also did grow to like Alyssa's character, which surprised me. I was very hesitant at first because I she originally seemed like the stereotypical blond airhead and I was really hoping the author wouldn't give into that trope. But let me tell you, after the princess stuff falls away...Alyssa becomes a very relatable and realistic character. I was really rooting for her to have her happily ever after in the end! Her growth throughout the story was excellent and I liked that she realized what was truly important. 

The one thing that I had a problem with (which is similar to others who reviewed this book) is the focus on Alyssa's weight. Yes, it makes sense it the story, but there were times I felt it was a talked about a bit too much. I mean there were many instances where Alyssa was verging on eating disorder type behavior and I didn't really like the way this was portrayed. This could easily be damaging to a young girl in many ways because of the park's unrealistic expectations. However, I will say that I applaud the author for including a character such as Miller, who actually confronted Alyssa about her behavior before it went too far. This doesn't always happen in real life (which is extremely sad but ultimately true), and I was happy that Alyssa was able to realize how far she was going and how unhealthy her mindset was toward her body and image. 

My only other complaint was that the ending did feel a little rushed and childish at times...so it didn't really match up with the rest of the book. However, I definitely was happy with how the story ended and who Alyssa ultimately ended up with. I would recommend checking out this book if you are a fan of Disney and want to read about a realistic happily ever after. 

Happy reading :)

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~Cassie

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ARC Review: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)

About The Book:

  Title: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)
  Author: Renee Ahdieh 
  Pub. Date: May 16th, 2017
  Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 
  Pages: 368
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
  Rate:  4.5/5 stars 




Synopsis :
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.
 

Review:

"Be as swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. 
As unshakable as the mountain." 

At first glance, this might seem like a Mulan retelling. But this book is so much more. A combination of folklore and fantasy, Flame in the Mist will revolutionize the way you think about fantasy. Mariko's cunningness and survival skills save her from being murdered in the Jukai forest when her convoy delivering her to her new husband is slaughtered in cold blood. It just so happens that this forest is frequented by a dangerous gang, known as the Black Clan. Mariko infiltrates this infamous gang to find out exactly why someone wanted her killed. 


"She was without a doubt strange. Maddening.
A force to reckon and be reckoned with." 

Told in a voice that only Ms. Ahdieh has, we read as Mariko learns more and more about the mysterious Black Clan and the secrets they hide inside of the Jukai forest (including deadly trees and beasts made of shadow). We finally get a relatable heroine who wants her freedom and independence, while at the same time making mistakes and fumbling through life. Because after all, she doesn't have all of the answers. Trying to earn the trust of Ranmaru and Okami, Mariko finds herself drawn to them in more ways than one. Alternating perspectives only adds to the mystery of the situations in the book, forcing you to turn the pages. PLUS, the only thing steamier than the bits of romance we get in this novel is the constant action being thrown our way. When worlds finally collide, Mariko has to find out who she is truly loyal to. Her family, her betrothed, or the unexplainable black clan who might have tried to kill her? 

Flame in the Mist spins a tale of feminism, romance, and fantasy. It's uniqueness is sure to set the tone for future fantasy novels to come and will become an instant favorite to all fantasy lovers alike. As I'm sure you've heard of this book before, let me just assure you that you will not be disappointed come May 16th. Because you've already preordered it, right? 



Thank you to Penguin Young Readers for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #98

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 Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer, #3)
The Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3) by Elizabeth May 
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Synopsis:
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer's story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion. 

This conclusion has been a long time coming and I couldn't be more excited for it! The second book blew me away and that was well worth the wait, so I don't expect anything different with this one! Elizabeth May knows how to tell an extraordinary story, so I can't wait to see how the story ends. Plus, isn't that cover gorgeous??


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell 
Publication Date: July 18th, 2017 


Synopsis:

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.


Magic and time travel? Yes please! I have yet to read anything by Ms. Maxwell, but I've heard great things about her peter pan retelling, Unhooked. This seems like a book about classic magic, and I can't wait to see what The Last Magician has in store for us! Also, beautiful cover am I right?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blog Tour: Groupie

About the Book:
Title: Groupie (Rock-Hard Beautiful, #1)
Author: C.M. Stunich
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis: 
“Can one of these five rockstars fill the hole in my heart? Or will I stay broken forever?”
Young, dumb, and broke.
That’s what started everything. With five dollars in her pocket, and everything she owns stuffed in the back of her car, Lilith Goode’s life is over. Done. Destroyed.
Ten words. One text. That’s what it took to change the whole world.
A crumpled concert ticket. A chance encounter. That’s what it takes to start all over again.
Five rockstars. One girl. Six dark hearts, six withered souls.
But can one broken person really put another back together again?

Author Bio:
C.M. Stunich is a self-admitted bibliophile with a love for exotic teas and a whole host of characters who live full time inside the strange, swirling vortex of her thoughts. Some folks might call this crazy, but Caitlin Morgan doesn’t mind – especially considering she has to write biographies in the third person. Oh, and half the host of characters in her head are searing hot bad boys with dirty mouths and skillful hands (among other things). If being crazy means hanging out with them everyday, C.M. has decided to have herself committed.
She hates tapioca pudding, loves to binge on cheesy horror movies, and is a slave to many cats. When she’s not vacuuming fur off of her couch, C.M. can be found with her nose buried in a book or her eyes glued to a computer screen. She’s the author of over thirty novels – romance, new adult, fantasy, and young adult included. Please, come and join her inside her crazy. There’s a heck of a lot to do there.
Oh, and Caitlin loves to chat (incessantly), so feel free to e-mail her, send her a Facebook message, or put up smoke signals. She’s already looking forward to it.
Excerpt

***This scene is racy, so if you're not into the raciness (which is perfectly fine!) you can skip to the giveaway below***

(Sex Scene From Copeland's POV)
 I close my eyes, my skin achy and hot, my balls tight, my entire body this ball of energy that craves more of whatever this is, this twisted ball of four fucked-up souls.  We might just be bodies in motion, but there's something more here.  I can feel it.         The sex was good—it was great, actually—but it wasn't their be-all, end-all.  No, it was their outlet.  Whatever they did, however kinky, dark, twisted, or different, it was all just an expression of their love, a way to get as close as possible, to keep the blackness inside their souls at bay for another night, another day.  No, the touching, joining, rubbing of their bodies wasn't the answer to all their problems, but it was the symptom of their solution.         I blink past the swirl of literary porn inside my head and drive myself into Lilith harder, deeper, rocking the couch and everyone on it with each thrust.  A single movement of my hips drives my cock into Lilith, slides her pussy along Ran's shaft, pushes Muse deeper into her throat.  I control the entire thing, moving us in this strange, wild rhythm that shouldn't work but totally does.         It's Lilith that comes first, before all of us, screaming and arching her back, her lips temporarily falling off Muse's shaft as she digs her nails into Ran's shoulders and shudders around me and him both, squeezing us with her body.  It's intense and long, but I keep moving through it, even as she tries to collapse, holding her up by tightening my fingers on her hips.         As soon as she recovers a little, Lilith sits back up and wraps a hand around Muse, pulling him back to her mouth, squeezing the base of his dick as she swirls her tongue along the underside, teases the sensitive spot just beneath the head.         I enjoy watching that, moving faster and harder, feeling my pulse race inside my head, my skin tightening as an orgasm builds up quick and desperate inside of me.  Muse comes next, both hands on the back of Lilith's head as he makes these wild sounds low in his throat, making Ran buck and thrash beneath us.  I realize he's coming, too, and hold a steady pace, sweat dripping off my chin onto Lilith's perfect round ass.  Once I drop my gaze down to the joining of our bodies, I can't look away, watching her take both Ran and me, soothe away some of that darkness in our souls with the beauty of her own pain.         “Fuck, sweetheart,” Ran gasps, shaking and quivering again as Muse stumbles away and collapses into one of the swivel chairs.  But Lilith and me … we're not done.         Carefully and quickly, I pull out and toss my condom into the trash, putting a new one on and pulling the sweaty crying girl into my lap.  Because she is crying again, and that's okay.  She can cry as much as she wants.         I swipe a tear away with my thumb as I pull her onto my shaft, filling the space where Ransom just was and curling my arms around her waist as she rides me.  Those hunter green eyes finally meet mine, searching and tearing through me, asking me what secrets I have to uncover, making me actually want to spill them all.         It's her next orgasm that finally gets me, her body grasping tight, her face pressed into my neck, hot lips against my pulse.  Her bare breasts smashed up to my chest, I groan and we both end up screaming a little, making so much damn noise that Michael comes storming out of the hall to stare at us.         The look in his eyes … it's pure hunger.



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Friday, May 5, 2017

Book Blitz: Ensnared

About the Book:
Title: Ensnared
Author: Rita Stradling
Publication date: May 23, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction

Synopsis: 
A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
EXCERPT:
December 2, 2026
Alainn woke knowing someone was in her room.
Whoever it was sat behind her. Quiet, even breaths rasped through the air. Alainn’s eyelids peeked open. Moonlight cast a grayish glow, cutting deep shadows into the space around her bed.
“Good morning, Alainn,” Rose said in a quiet voice. When Alainn didn’t respond, Rose said, “I can tell from the change in your breathing pattern that you are awake.”
“Rose?” she whispered, not quite ready to let out a sigh of relief. Alainn twisted to look at her. “What are you doing here? Did you break my lock?”
“I picked it,” she said. “It is now locked again.”
“Oh, uh—” Her heart pounded in her chest; she sat up and faced the robot. “Why—why would you do that?”
The moonlight lit half of Rose’s face as she watched Alainn, expressionless. “Do not be alarmed. You are obviously having a fear reaction, but I was simply waiting for you to wake up.”
“Don’t you need to sleep—recharge?”
Now that Alainn faced Rose, she smelled the faint odor of her exhaust. Rose continuously exhaled the lightest tang of something sweet and acidic. The air in the room felt used, like a plane cabin after a cross-country flight.
“I was not completely forthcoming with you today. While what I said was true, I have for a time now believed that having Father imprisoned would impede my potential. While I have far surpassed his skills in software, there are times when I need assistance. I am limited by my need to stay near my charging station. Your brother is often absent for days at a time—and you, months.”
“Okay, wait—you’re going to go tomorrow?” Alainn scooted forward on the bed. A dormant hope resurged through her. Alainn would do anything—she’d worship at the robot’s feet if Rose agreed to go.
“No, you are going to go tomorrow.”
Alainn froze, staring at Rose. “What?” she whispered.
“I have calculated one way in which all parties can achieve their desires.”
“I’m sorry—I’m not understanding.” Alainn shook her head. A hard knot formed in her stomach.
“I am not surprised.” Rose reached out to pat Alainn’s hand. “You are not as intelligent as the rest of your family.”
“Spell it out in really simple terms, then.” She just managed to not growl the words at Rose.
Slowly, Rose looked up to the ceiling, moonlight slashing up the curve of her neck, her chin, and the line of her nose. “Earlier tonight, I arranged for you to be picked up by Mr. Garbhan through e-mail, writing as if I was Father. In one hour, a car will arrive outside to take you to his building. I have designed and created hardware for your body. If you are scanned, a chip in the hardware will communicate to the scanners that you have an organic circuitry system rather than a human brain.”
Alainn shook her head, hoping to dislodge some of the grogginess there. “I’m still not following—you’re saying you want me to pretend to be you and turn myself over? That you already arranged it?”
“Yes, you are following. That is exactly what I am saying.”
“I—I—” Alainn shook her head again. The air thinned around her.
“I have a working plan for the transplanting. You can assimilate easily into a life of servitude as you are already accustomed to the labor you will be asked to perform.” Rose lifted a hand, ghostly gray in the low light, and ticked off the chores on her fingers. “Cooking, housekeeping, and bookkeeping. Unless . . . is your concern that he might use you for sexual gratification?”
“What? No.”
“I believe that this would be a particular concern of yours.”
“I never even considered that he would do that to you—I, of all people, would never have tried to push you into going if I thought you’d be used that way.” Alainn blinked furiously. “Rose, do you really think that I would have let myself be the model when my dad printed your face and body if I thought Mr. Garbhan was going to do that to you?”
“It is highly unlikely that I was designed for this function. I have also been assured that there were documents signed to that effect addressed to Father.”
Alainn held out her palms to Rose. “Rose, it’s not just that. I can’t take your place. There’s no way that would work . . . and I can’t live in that tower for the rest of my life. I’m a human. I know that probably sounds callous to you, but you were created to not need sunshine and fresh air. And you don’t need exercise. Humans need those things, me especially. Everything I am,” she touched her chest, “is centered on being in the outdoors.”
“The duration will be seven to fourteen days, no longer.” Her head swung down, causing shadows to swallow her eyes. Two black hollows focused on Alainn. “When Mr. Garbhan pays Father, he and I will make the Rosette model; this process should only take a week, unless there are complications. And then I will devise a way to switch you with the new model.”

Playlist:


Listen to the entire playlist here: Ensnared Playlist

Author Bio:
Rita Stradling is the author of The Deception Dance series, the Dakota Kekoa series and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox Novella Serial. She has a BA in Art History and a particular love for modern and medieval art.
Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California.
She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: romance, paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.

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~Cassie