Review: Carve the Mark

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisIn a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“I am sharp as broken glass, and just as fragile. I tell lies better than I tell truths. I see all of the galaxy and never catch a glimpse of it.”

I really did enjoy this book. What drew me to it the most was that I had read somewhere that the author was inspired to write Cyra because she knew people who had experienced chronic pain. Cyra looked promising as a character in a new way, she represented the chance for a character to be strong and powerful but also experience suffering and even after all the reviews I’ve read to the contrary, I think Roth accomplished exactly what I and so many others needed to see in Cyra as a character.

Cyra’s pain is a gift. Now before you go beating me up and telling me that pain isn’t a gift, I get where you’re coming from. From having been through life disabled and in pain ranging from mild to severe over the years, I understand. But what I also understand is that it has made me a stronger person. Having to go through trials and hardships (even if they are permanent) teaches us things about ourselves we could have never known without them. Without going through the pain her currentgift caused her, Cyra would’ve never developed the other strengths she needed to overcome Ryzek and her own emotional pain. By having the physical pain of her gift to overcome she had something to focus on, which made her become a better fighter because she felt powerless to control her gift, it made her a more compassionate person as she felt the suffering of others through her gift, even if she caused it through being forced by Ryzek, and didn’t want to hurt anyone. In that way her currentgift was a “gift” because it empowered her to realize how strong she already was as an individual person. It just took Akos coming into her life to really open up what she already knew. He showed her that adversity doesn’t have to make you a monster.

Cyra’s brother Ryzek is a fantastic foil for her character. In his avoidance of pain, he shows that when you avoid pain at all costs it actually makes you the thing you hate most. Ryzek didn’t want any pain to touch him, he was afraid of it and didn’t like witnessing it, but his avoidance of pain to himself only made him a completely sadistic and malicious person, just like his father, he lacked any empathy, which you gain through understanding pain and experiencing it yourself. His attendant, Vas, couldn’t feel pain at all but that made him nothing more than a glorified servant and in the end it was his undoing because he had never learned to deal with pain and that was a fatal weakness.

I liked that the author showed that Akos’s strength wasn’t really in his size or how well he could fight, but in his inherent compassion for others, which is what Cyra feared he was going to lose the longer he was trapped with her and Ryzek. Although she may have thought Eijeh was a lost cause, she admired that Akos never lost the love for his brother, something she could no longer feel for her own. And his compassion towards her when everyone else treated her like something to be feared helped to open her up to show him kindness and, ultimately, love in return. Their dynamic together and slow-burning romance was my favorite part of the book. I’m excited to see how much more it develops in the sequel.

The world building was so-so, considering how long the book was I still had trouble picturing things clearly and figuring out where and what exactly was being described. That being said I really liked the over all sci-fi feel of the world and the diversity among the planets and how they operate, it would be amazing if there were some more sojourns in the next book so we can get a peek at the other planets.

The side characters were great, I liked Jorek a lot and was a little disappointed that he and Cisi didn’t have a thing. I kinda wanted Isae just to be on her own, she struck me more as the awesome standalone cool chick, I liked her more right when she was introduced than I did as the book was coming to a close and she became the panicky, whiny one. Teka was a great character, I liked that they kept her around as one of the more prominent members of the renegades and I’m hoping she’s featured more in the next book. I’m interested to see where they go with Eijeh and what exactly Ori did to him, that was an interesting sort of twist right at the end there.

I really want to know more about the fate-favored and what exactly that means because the whole concept was really interesting and of course with the big reveal with Cyra at the end there’s bound to be some shake-ups in the next book. I already have a couple of theories on how the fates of each of the characters are going to work out, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

So overall this was a very in-depth, wonderfully complex read and I’m glad I decided to plug ahead with it in spite of what others had written. I thoroughly enjoyed it, Cyra really resonated with me as a character and I applaud Roth for going through with writing a character inspired by something as divisive as pain. I look forward to the next installment.

 

Review: Nerve

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Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisARE YOU PLAYING THE GAME OR IS THE GAME PLAYING YOU?

Vee doesn’t know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever’s behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it’s easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it’s thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“I’m not the girl I thought I was either. I don’t know who I am.”

Full disclosure here, I actually watched the 2016 movie version of this before I picked up this book, I know, shocking, but in a weird way I’m glad I did because I can confidently say that the book and the movie are almost NOTHING alike so I could enjoy them as completely different pieces of material.

I was excited to read the book because I ended up really enjoying the movie. It was a simple but thought provoking movie so I thought the book would be even better of course because it would likely get more into the characters and the backstories than the movie did. If I’m honest I probably enjoyed the movie more, but again, I would say that they were truly like two different stories all together.

My favorite part about this book is of course the fact that you can draw so many comparisons to real life. It’s funny how a lot of the books we relate to the most, like The Hunger Games and this one seem to stem from what we fear our world will become in the future.

The characters were easy to root for, although I can understand why some other reviewers were saying that Vee felt flat at times. I think the pacing made her thoughts feel disjointed, although her humor was fantastic.

“How thoughtful, audience. I’ll have to remember to send you thank-you cards, laced with anthrax.”

And even though I sometimes wanted to smack her just a bit for how shallow she seemed, everything made sense through the lens of a young girl who feels like she’s been overlooked.

The insta-love really didn’t bother me all that much, it never seems to anymore, I guess I’ve gotten used to it as a trope now and honestly if it’s done well I don’t tend to care. The “relationship” between Ian and Vee was handled well enough that it wasn’t completely eye-roll worthy and added a nice amount of light heartedness in the tense circumstances they were under. I’m so glad the author chose not to delve into a love triangle with Tommy because that could’ve easily been a train wreck. Luckily I was super happy to see the direction the author went with his character, super surprising and a really good twist.

My biggest peeve with the book that made the movie so much better was the resolution with NERVE in the end, now I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read the book or watched the movie, but for me I just felt that the way the book ends is sort of anti-climactic after everything that happens. It’s a really good suspense ending, but what the movie did was so much more satisfying. That being said, the movie ending wouldn’t have made any sense given that the plots were 100% different between the two.

I do want to mention that while I did enjoy this book I do feel that the dares were very intense for a young adult novel, and I would not want to see teens doing any of those things in real life. But part of enjoying fiction is the hyper-realism where the characters get to do things real people would never engage in so I’m letting things slide in the narrative that would be completely outrageous in the real world.

Overall a well written, gripping, page turning till the end read, I recommend this book to anyone who wants something fun and interesting to delve into!

 

DNF: A Hope at the End of the World

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis: In the chaos of World War II, Polish teenagers Helena and Luzyna Grabowski have lost everything. Without parents or a home, they are shipped to a refugee camp in Persia, where the days ahead hold only darkness. When they hear that orphans are being selected for relocation to New Zealand, Helena is filled with hope—until the officials say they have a place only for her younger sister.

On the morning she is to be transported, Luzyna fails to join the chosen group, and Helena takes her place. But the horrors of war—and her guilt at abandoning her sister—follow Helena on the journey across the sea, as a man from her past preys on her fear and remorse.

Though the people in New Zealand embrace her, the traumas Helena has suffered threaten her peace and blind her to the devotion of James, a charming, heroic young Allied pilot. If Helena can let go and dare to hope again, she may finally step out of the long shadow of her past to find a future made whole—a new community, a new family, a new love.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Normally I don’t rate DNFs but I did get 50% through so I decided to rate what I did read, that is what my rating is for…

Review:

*I received this book as a Read Now through NetGalley from AmazonCrossing*

Full disclosure I only made it through 50% of this book so please take this review for what it is considering I did not finish the book.

I will admit, this book did not pull me in at all. I kept going hoping that it would pick up at some point but it just didn’t.

The main character Helena felt too one sided and boring to me, she betrays her sister, horrible things happen to her and then all she thinks about is these horrible things and ending her own life. Now don’t get me wrong, I get why she would be a somber character, but I’ve read about somber characters before without them making me feel miserable as well and all Helena makes you feel when you read this book is misery.

Even when she meets James I don’t even really feel a pull to his character at all. Most of the characters are just too one-note.

I was looking forward to this book as I really like WWII books and with the romance plot it seemed like a good mix, but I couldn’t get past the dreary first half. Even if the book picked up later there really wouldn’t be much of it left when the first half drags it down so far.

I will say that this could be a good read for someone interested in New Zealand life or culture back around that time period because while I was utterly confused I’m sure there are some people who would enjoy the cultural context in which the book is set.

So overall I thought the book had a good premise and had lots of potential, but in the end I just didn’t feel like it was the right choice for me to continue reading.

 

Review: Unspoken

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Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance, Mystery

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisCharlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.  The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She’s changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.

She’s never said a word–to the cops, to her doctors, to family–about those four years.

A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn’t find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened. And her silence is what has protected her family for years.
Bryce Bishop doesn’t know her past, he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather’s estate–and that the FBI director for the Chicago office made the introduction. The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her. But nothing else is working in his favor–she’s decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she’s willing to forego a huge inheritance to keep her privacy. She’s not giving him much of an opening to work with.

Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved, has only opened another chapter…

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

I’m honestly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book. That might sound funny given I gave the book four stars but hear me out…

The book starts off VERY slow, I agree with a lot of other reviewers who say there is a lot, if not too much emphasis on coins and all of trading or whatever else had to do with the money and property Charlotte was dealing with. In the end it all came together to work with the mystery/crime plot, but it was sort of an arduous trek listening to pages and pages of something I still don’t understand. If you love trading and handling coins you won’t have a problem and maybe these sums of money won’t seem grossly unrealistic to you, but there were times where I was rolling my eyes and wondering if the author was stretching the truth a bit to make the dollar amount fit what she needed for the characters in the end.

I get also how it was hard for people to relate to the main character Charlotte. But in context her aloofness made sense and I felt much closer to her as a character by the end of the book, through Bryce, which I think was the ultimate point. Bryce became her conduit to open up and connect with life and so her character and story unfolded more as she was with him.

Truly the reason I stuck with this book was for the romance between Bryce and Charlotte. Although extremely slow going and still somewhat bittersweet in the end, I really enjoyed seeing them develop and grow. You never get a complete picture of the trauma Charlotte went through, and while that bothered me at first it made sense more as the narrative went on because you realize that even she can’t remember it all and that her future should be dictated by more than what her past horrors have been.

In all honesty I think the author has done an excellent job of capturing the subtle beauty that comes from slow growing relationships here. What comes from patience in a marriage, friends who really care about each other and trust in God even when we don’t understand his ways. I’m glad I decided to stick with the book and I encourage anyone who may be having a rough time with all the coin jargon, it’s well worth the extra pages to get to the real heart of the story, just keep reading.

 

Review: Counted With the Stars

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Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisSold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

For a debut novel, this is quite impressive. Through the first-person narrative of Kiya I felt completely immersed in her world and life as she experienced both life as an Egyptian and a wanderer in the desert.

Although I don’t know anything about historical Egypt apart from the historical documentaries I have enjoyed, I have to say that I really felt the author did an excellent job of making everything feel completely authentic. The same goes for the Hebrew culture.

I also admire her way of making the biblical stories more personal. Being a Christian I have read and studied the Exodus story many times, but the way this author presents the story from a first person narrative and even an outsiders point of view is refreshing. She deftly weaves a tale of faith and belief while making the journey believable and heartfelt.

I adored the slow growth of relationship between Eben and Kiya, it was nice to have a slow unfolding of friendship, kinship and love with them as the story progressed. I do wish there had been some sort of epilogue to finish their story off more, but I do get the point of leaving their story in a hopeful place. Plus I think the author wrote other books in this series with the different characters and these two make cameos so that will work for me haha!

The other characters were lovely as well, Shira in particular and Kiya’s brother Jumo was such an understated treat with his silent observations, although I kind of wish he hadn’t been healed in the end. I know that sounds horrible but what made him endearing was his wonderful spirit and belief in the face of his disabilities.

Overall such a wonderfully deep and yet still fun and engaging read.

 

Review: The Clockwork Scarab

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Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisEvaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

I purchased this during a round of shopping at BAM! and was intrigued by the interesting twist on the Holmes & Stoker lore. I’m pleased to say that this ended up being a very delightful read.

This book is one of those that seems to span many different genres as it delves into the fantasy, historical and some science fiction as there are mentions of vampires and a fair amount of what I would consider “steampunk” concepts in the book. The story is set in the 1800s and the author does a good job of blending accurate period descriptions with her steampunk aspects and some modern mannerisms to fit the stronger attitudes of the heroines.

I will admit that while reading the book I definitely enjoyed Evaline’s POV more than I did Mina’s. While they both were good and I liked the use of the dual narrative, I found that Evaline was a much more relatable and fun character, whereas Mina could come across as very stuck up at times which could be off-putting.

Another thing that really made me enjoy Evaline’s story more than Mina’s was her love interest, Pix. No offense to Dylan or Inspector Grayling, but Pix seemed like a much more complex character and every time he appeared and then disappeared I wanted to know more about him. My only issue with his character was that the “accent” the author chose to use for him was somewhat difficult to read and I kept having to reread his lines over to make sure I was understanding the text.

It was nice to see all of these characters from stories woven into the book, like Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker, of course going along with our two main characters. I hope that maybe they can have more of a presence in the next books.

The overall plot of the book was good and I enjoyed the mystery of it all revolving around Egyptian mythology and religious practices. There was never really any lag in the pace and the book sped by quickly. I can see how some people say that the book felt like a lot of disjointed things crammed into one story, but I feel the overall idea is for there to be several mini mysteries that encompass one overarching story. This could be why there are several threads left unfinished and details that feel unnecessary in this first book.

Overall I’m happy I picked this up and hope that sometime soon I can read the sequels.

Review: The Thorn Healer

25062497-_uy750_ss750_Genre: Romance, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Release Date: December 6th, 2016
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisJessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans. To Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of the treacherous internees.

August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he finds Hot Springs and the intriguing Jessica Ross a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs.

Will August’s tender pursuit bring Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a “true” enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

“Scars held power, their lingering sting bleeding into the present.”

*I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review*

This book is my first real foray into Christan Fiction. I have always wanted to read a true “Christian” book as I am a Christian myself and am finding that I want to read cleaner material in my books (hence the changing in my review style) but every time I have tried to read a book with the Christian label they always seemed so…forgive me…boring. The plots were dull, the characters unimaginative and the narrative surrounding the religious aspects just seemed so forced. So what on earth made me pick up this book, pretty simple actually, the World War 1 storyline.

Being a history buff and The World Wars being one of my favorite topics of interest, I was drawn to the time period this book takes place in, so I knew even if the book itself wasn’t spectacular I could at least enjoy the setting. But, luckily for me, this book ended up being a really wonderful, well-written and beautifully soul-catching piece of literature. Everything about the time period, dress style and mannerisms of the day seemed well researched by the author and were wonderfully executed. It helped to keep everything in perfect sync as I read along and really got engrossed into the book.

Of course, I am a sucker for epic romances. And with the glut of insta-love and characters falling in love that really shouldn’t in books I’ve read recently, this book was such a breath of fresh air. Since the narrative plays from both perspectives we get to see how each character changes and grows through their feelings for each other and just how beautiful that relationship is. So much these days we forget that friendship and companionship are as important as passion and love. This book deals wonderfully with the idea that August knows he needs to heal Jessica’s wounds by showing her that the person she is matters more to him than the scars she bears. I adored how this book showed through several relationships (like Anna & Cliff’s) that the mending of a heart doesn’t always have to come through overt declarations of love or affection. Sometimes just being a calming and reassuring presence has more effect than anything else.

The religious elements didn’t feel overbearing to me in any way as the author wove them in to the plot line perfectly, showing how August’s gentle care of Jessica’s heart paralleled God’s everlasting love and unchanging faithfulness. I liked how the author would put in the small interludes that I took to be God’s voice whispering to Jessica, that felt very sweet and endearing to me as God is known as the “still small voice” which I feel the author represented well in this book.

There are many other elements of this book I could praise, like the author’s medical knowledge of the period as well as her wonderful crafting of miniature mystery plots, even though I wish more had been done about Mr. Little in the end. The secondary characters were beautifully written too, and I particularly loved Jessica’s brother and sister-in-law.

Another great thing about this book is that although it’s technically a part of a series (Penned in Time #3) I never felt like I was missing any huge pieces of a story or that I was lost when trying to understand the plot. I’m sure there are things I would’ve grasped better had I read the first two books, but this one stands perfectly on it’s own.

Overall I feel very blessed I got the opportunity to read this book and I recommend it to anyone who would love a good read to cozy up with on these upcoming holiday evenings. It will give you all the warm feelings of love while transporting you to another time on a marvelous adventure through the lives of some fabulous characters.

Review: Ever the Hunted

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: December 27th, 2016
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisSeventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“Bravery is a choice that is yours to make. Don’t let fear steal your will.”

*I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group in exchange for an honest review*

This was a really fast paced and interesting read. Of course anything that involves some sort of medieval bows and arrows plot line has me interested from the get-go but I really did get more invested in this book as it went along.

I’m glad that the author chose to go with a faster and more involved pace where the characters are on a journey for almost the entire book as it kept the story interesting and there weren’t really any periods where the story dragged or felt like it was slowing down. There were some great little moments though that I really enjoyed, like when Britta was talking to Siron, or when she would relive old memories of her father, those were nice little pieces of story I really soaked up.

The romance between Britta and Cohen was sweet, and I was so happy with the fact that there was no love triangle at all in this first book (although I’m not sure if it will stay that way going into the sequel). Their romance was sweet and chaste, but you really believed in their love for each other because of the complex history between the two of them. All of the sweet moments were some of the best parts of the book.

The magical/fantasy elements were nicely woven into the plot without being overly explained or too hard to grasp and I’m looking forward to possibly finding out more in the next book. I’m glad that even though you figure out pretty quickly were the plot is headed regarding Britta, it doesn’t seem annoyingly forced or out of place. Finding out more about Channelers and their abilities was a natural flow for the plot and it was engaging in a way that felt like I was being told a story while reading one if that makes any sense.

The author draws you into this world by making you feel as if you are a part of its history. We experience Britta and Cohen’s journey along with them, which makes us feel more connected to their characters and their struggles.

I really liked the secondary characters as well in this book, Enat and Leif in particular and I hope they stick around for the next book! I would even be okay with a reappearance by Captain Omar, considering how everything turned out and with all of the new developments regarding the King, I am super interested to see where the author takes that relationship between Aodren and Britta in the sequel.

Overall this was an easygoing, fun read with well developed characters and a world that I would be happy to visit again!

Blog Tour Review: Red Winter

9781988153070Title: Red Winter
Series: The Red Winter Trilogy #1
Author: Annette Marie
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: October 21, 2016
Links: Goodreads / Amazon

SynopsisEmi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.

Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.

On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.

Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

*I received an e-ARC of this book through Barclay Publicity in exchange for an honest review as part of a promotional blog tour*

“They took everything from me in exchange for a promise they knew was a lie.”

Before I get to the review I just want to say a quick thank you to Barclay Publicity and Annette Marie for giving me the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and read this wonderful book! Alright, now we can commence with the review…

You know you’re in trouble when you’re already drooling over the cover before you even start reading the book, lucky for me what was inside the book was just as fantastic as what was on the outside! I couldn’t have asked for a more fun, intriguing, magic filled, squeal inducing read than this one!  Now, I’ll admit to watching a fair share of anime, but that’s about as much about Japanese culture as I really know, which is a shame because I would love to know more. Needless to say, this book really satisfies on that account, at least as far as I am aware. From what I’ve read and been able to look up myself, Miss Marie has done a spectacular job of really weaving the ideas of a feudal Japan with modern elements together, and the story she has created is nothing short of spectacular!

Considering I knew nothing about Japanese folklore going into this book it is impressive that I never felt lost for one moment while I was reading. The author even included a glossary and pronunciation guide for help, but honestly her writing and explaining within the book were so well done that I didn’t even need them. I completely understood what was going on in the world she had created and how each of the characters fit together in the narrative.

The magical/spiritual elements were really beautifully described as well and I felt as if the illustrations provided by Brittany Jackson were very helpful in creating a vision of the characters and world to follow along with. Plus they were just so stunning to look at, I wish all books had illustrations like those in them.

Let me just say that when Shiro showed up on the scene I was having serious Inuyasha flashbacks here. Some of you may know what that is, some may not, but believe me anyone who does will probably get the reference when you read the description of Shiro, plus when Emi put on that schoolgirl uniform I swear I almost lost it 😝. And kept losing it as Shiro and Emi got more and more swoon-worthy throughout the book. Their romance is definitely on the somewhat subtler side, but I liked that and I’m BEYOND excited to see where the author takes it in the next book.

Somehow even the side characters like Fujimoto and Nanako still really drew me in to this book because even they had dimension and a purpose to the story. Of course I loved Emi and Shiro the best, although Katsuo definitely put up a good fight with his adorable protectiveness and is tied for third place with Yumei. That being said, Yumei was a bit frightening at points during the book but I warmed up to his character a lot more towards the end in his interactions with Emi.

Emi was an exceptional heroine to read as it was nice to see her grow from being so sheltered in her own perspective to seeing how others view things and realizing that maybe she needs to stop being so one-minded about everything. I applaud Miss Marie for being willing to spend time developing every character’s personality and not just focus on Emi, which she could’ve easily done.

Overall this was a spellbinding, fantastical read that pulled me in from the first page and I recommend it to anyone who wants to go on a fun journey with some great characters through a completely different culture, believe me it’s well worth the read!

Celebrate the Release of RED WINTER with a Giveaway! 🎉

Grand Prize: 1 Winner will Receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card
Runner-Ups: 3 Winners will Each Receive one $10 Amazon Gift Card Each

Link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef29289/?

About the Author:

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Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every book.

Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

Virtual Book Tour Review : All Her Secrets

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Title: All Her Secrets
Author: Kate Avery Ellison
Genre: Young Adult, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / Kobo 

Synopsis: A GIRL WITH SECRETS

Eighteen-year-old Victoria, the daughter of inventor and visionary-genius Bill Faraday, was almost murdered by a stranger four years ago. She’s been trying to forget the incident ever since. When Victoria discovers something that might explain why she was brutally attacked, she heads home from college to uncover the truth. Then, she’s kidnapped.

A GUY FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS

Sam’s just a poor kid from Valley City, but he knows who Victoria is as soon as his cousin Craig drags her from the trees. He doesn’t want anything to do with what appears to be a revenge kidnapping, but Craig has a gun and needs someone to take the fall if things go wrong.

A DESPERATE PLAN TO SURVIVE

Craig and his buddies imprison Sam and Victoria in an abandoned mountain cabin to await ransom. Putting aside mistrust for tentative friendship, Victoria and Sam conspire to escape together, and the close quarters ignite a startling attraction between them. Then they discover strange tunnels beneath the cabin. And what they find inside the tunnels proves more bizarre. With a plan in place to escape, freedom seems within reach. But Sam and Victoria are both keeping secrets about their past.

And secrets can be deadly.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review:

*I received an e-ARC of this book through Barclay Publicity in exchange for an honest review as part of a virtual book tour*

“I was blind to the truth. Emotions do that. They make you a fool.”

I am so excited to be doing my first Virtual Book Tour post on this blog! And many thanks to Barclay Publicity and Kate Avery Ellison for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book as part of the tour! On to the review…

I don’t read a lot of thriller novels, probably because I’m a giant chicken in real life. I’m still afraid of the dark and when someone comes around a corner too quickly, I jump out of my skin…but for some crazy reason I really wanted to read this book. When I put in the request to do the book tour I was almost apprehensive that I wouldn’t like it simply because this genre wasn’t in my wheelhouse, but ironically that wasn’t the case AT ALL.

My favorite thing about this book has to be the pacing, the reason why thrillers haven’t been able to ever pull me in before was that they took too long to really drag me into the action or make me feel like the characters were in real peril. This book doesn’t do that. Right away there is a real sense of foreboding that sticks around through the whole book and I ended up speeding through it in one day simply because I HAD TO KNOW what was going to happen with the characters!! That niggling feeling the author was able to add of constant paranoia and fear through using the double POV was brilliant and I liked that the chapters were short and concise, making everything feel more desperate.

Victoria and Sam were great characters, and like I said above, the dual POV really worked here, using their dueling narratives to help me really get centered in the plot and how exactly everything was unfolding from each character’s perspectives. I also enjoyed that the author didn’t get bogged down with too much backstory in the beginning and chose to slowly unveil things as the story went on. That was a smart move when it came to the whole “secrets” idea that runs deep in the book. There are times when I don’t like books because I can’t visualize a character or a place if there isn’t enough information, but Ellison did a great job of giving just enough information to keep the setting alive, while leaving details out so I was hungry for more.

(potential spoilers) I was also pleasantly surprised at elements I did not expect to be there. I knew the book was supposed to be set in our not-so-distant-future, but some of the ideas like robotic technology and the concept of a utopian society gone wrong were executed wonderfully. I especially enjoyed the idea of a “secret narrator”, which only helped to increase the suspense and mystery.

Honestly the only thing that made me give the book 4 stars instead of 5 was the ending. I just felt that after so much tension and build up over the book the ending was very rushed and abrupt. Especially considering that there doesn’t seem to be a sequel in the works, which makes sense, but I would’ve liked to have known more about how the different characters stories unfolded after everything they went through.

Needless to say I am very I happy that I got to experience this book and I would recommend it to anyone who wants an excellent, fast-paced thriller that will get your blood pumping and your mind spinning!

Rafflecopter for All Her Secrets Virtual Blog Tour Giveaway 🎉 :

Kate Avery Ellison is offering one (1) lucky winner a $25 Amzon Gift Card and five (5) runner-ups an eCopy of one of her books (winner’s choice)! To enter, simply click this link below!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef29286/?

About the Author:

kateaveryellison

Kate Avery Ellison decided she wanted to be an author when she was five years old, and with hard work, determination, and the support of loved ones along the way, her dreams of telling stories for a living came true in 2011 with her first novel, The Curse Girl, and continued with her Amazon bestselling series The Frost Chronicles and numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. She loves putting a dash of mystery in everything she writes, an ode to her childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes, and she can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever she can.

Kate wishes she could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, she makes her home in humid Atlanta with her husband, son, and two spoiled cats. When she isn’t dreaming up her next novel or holed up writing it down, Kate can be found binging her favorite shows on Netflix, reading on her Kindle, building intricate train track configurations with her toddler, and playing board games with her husband and friends.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Last Thoughts: Thanks to everyone who read this review! Please feel free to drop by the blog and comment on what you think about the book after you read it so we can all discuss!!