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Book Review: Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Vinspire Publishing, LLC, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Bad luck seems to follow Grace Fortune wherever she goes. She was orphaned at a young age, and her musical talent got her accepted to a prestigious school for the arts, where she was caught in the middle of horrific school shooting that nearly takes her life. But then she meets gorgeous loner, Jared Lorn, and falls madly in love. There is only one problem. Jared is not exactly human. He’s a Nephilim, an angel/human hybrid, descended from a cursed line of fallen angels known as the Watchers. Having a half-demon boyfriend who’s under a curse from God can be tough enough. But then Grace decides that she wants to help free Jared from the curse by killing his angel father, Azazel, who is bound up in the Abyss, where he will be judged at the End of Days. She has a powerful ally in her guardian angel Ariel, who has given her a weapon: a Song that can tame demons. With a crew of loyal friends, Grace and Jared will travel to the ends of the earth, battling the forces of heaven and hell that seek to defeat them. Yet as their love grows stronger, they will find themselves in danger of succumbing to the very corruption that caused the Watchers’ downfall.

Opinion:

Don’t hate me for this guys

….but this is a review of an unfinished book. I know, I know…it’s all very dismal.

I am forgoing my own synopsis of this book for my review, as the plot above gives all the information that is needed to read this story. Though I did not end up finishing this book, it doesn’t mean it’s the most terrible thing that has ever hit a bookshelf. It really isn’t. It’s a fast read, easy to follow, basically enjoyable, and the writing is fair. The main reason I couldn’t finish Forlorn, was because I lost interest and I didn’t care for it enough to pick it back up once I had closed it. I am quite confident that I could have finished it, but there were just too many distracting flaws in it for me to continue.

This story starts with a prologue, in which it describes what happens to Grace when she is involved in a car accident with her parents. Here we learn that Grace had a guardian angel watching over her, and that really is where the story takes off. At first, I kind of liked that the writing in the prologue was short and to the point. It is sort of “clipped” or in “bullet note” form for the reader so only the most important points are said. However, this made the scene feel less important than it should have. It made me not take it seriously, and in turn made me not really care about the deaths. Heartless? Ehhhhh, maybe. But come on, a book is SUPPOSED to make me care about the characters and events, isn’t it?

Another issue I had was that I kept getting a gnarly sense of Déjà vu while reading. I feel like I have read that EXACT car accident in another book. To make matters worse, THE Twilight moment happens. What moment do I speak of? Oh, you know that one from the first book. When Bella and Edward first catch some eyes and Edward gets all cringe-worthy weird and awkward? As if it wasn’t awkward enough if the book, the movie makes you literally scrunch your face up because of how weird it is. Well, that moment happens in this book and I couldn’t handle it.

As the story continues and I start to meet some of the other characters at Grace’s school, I just see a lot more cheesiness and simplicity. I feel no connection to any of the characters because they feel boring and underdeveloped, and they also over-dramatize everything. Once the story starts to pick up and some action starts happening, I still can’t quite get into it. Even though this is a Fantasy story and things are meant to be unbelievable, it just felt…literally unbelievable. It honestly just felt like too much “fluff” was being put into the story, and not enough substance.

I stopped reading when a character named Penny claimed that she was addicted to X. That did it for me, so I put the book down and haven’t touched it since. With all this said, I just couldn’t finish the story. Meaning: You may actually like it and I might just be ridiculous. It’s for you to decide in the end, this is just my opinion. I really wanted to like this story because of the fallen angel and demon themes (one of my favorite Fantasy themes), but it just wasn’t up to par for me.

1-star

 

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Book Review: Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, H.A. Leuschel, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction

Plot:

Five stories – Five Lives

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well-balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

Opinion: Hello readers, today I bring you a collection of short stories! Manipulated Lives showcases five different stories, with each story portraying a different form of manipulation. The reader is introduced to five characters who either come in contact with a manipulative person or prove to be the manipulator themselves.

The first story is called Tess and Tattoos and focuses on an elderly woman named Tess who resides in an “old folks home”. Tess is a very kind and artistic person and yearns for company and affection from others. As Tess forms a friendship with one of the staff members, she begins to open up about her past and an abusive relationship. I found Tess and Tattoos to be an uplifting and hopeful story about friendship and acceptance. Tess was a very gentle character who had been manipulated when she was younger into staying in an abusive relationship. Though this story is about how Tess was manipulated by another, I found that Tess even had her own forms of manipulation that were more positive. She would do small things in the mornings of her assisted living home to receive extra attention from staff, and this COMPLETELY pulled on my heartstrings. I think this is a FANTASTIC example of how manipulation doesn’t always have to be negative either.

The second story is called The Spell and is one of the longer short stories in the collection. It is about a woman named Sophie who meets a young boy named Leo and forms an instant kinship with him. Soon after Sophie meets Leo’s father (David) and they begin to date. Sophie becomes a mother figure for Leo, as his mother is out of the picture. David explains that Leo’s mother was a horrible and manipulative woman, and was put into a mental hospital years before. The Spell is interesting because there are two manipulators that come into Sophie’s life. One more obvious than the other. I found this dynamic to be very interesting, and it proves how hard it is to know when someone is manipulating you. Like Sophie, I am still not quite sure who was telling the truth by the end of this story. And like life, sometimes you never really know.

The third story, Runaway Girl, really hits home for me. This story was the one I really connected with, and it left my heart aching quite a bit after reading it. It follows a sixteen-year-old named Holly who is saving up every penny she has in order to run away to Scotland to live with distant family. One day at school, a boy named Luke starts to show interest in Holly. At first Luke is charming and caring with Holly, but that quickly changes. He begins taking advantage of her for her money, and smoothly talks his way out of things to continue manipulating her. I was once a Holly, so this story really resonated with me. It saddens me that this sort of thing happens a lot to young girls and women, and that so many boys/men can get away with it. I adore the ending and the strength Holly has, you go girl!

The Narcissist is the fourth story in this collection, and a great example of another type of manipulator. In this case, the character the reader follows is the manipulative person. The reader is introduced to an old man in a hospital who is dying and is having a hard time remembering his life due to his medical condition. Eventually, the reader learns that this man has been manipulating people his entire life in order to get himself ahead. He lived a double life and challenged and mocked anyone who tried to tell him he was wrong or incapable of something. In the end, he does something horrible which leads him to dying alone. This story ends on a sad note where I wished that the main character could have realized things sooner. Karma, karma, karma.

The last story is The Perfect Child and is about a woman who coddles and gives way too much to her child, and the repercussions of doing so. This mother spends most of her life making excuses for her “perfect child” by blaming others for his faults and insisting that he does no wrong. This obviously teaches her child how to manipulate others for his advantage, especially his mother. I know a mother and son just like these characters, and let me tell you, this author is SPOT ON. It is a great example of how a parent needs to be more objective and standoffish with certain things when it comes to raising their kids, in order to teach them right from wrong. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect child.

Go out and get this story guys, the writing is descriptive and paints a beautiful picture for the reader to get lost in. I think anyone can connect with at least one story in this book, and hopefully it can bring clarity to your personal life. I am so glad to have read Manipulated Lives, and so grateful for the author for reaching out to me. I think this is a great story for all ages to read, because it can teach everyone something different. I strongly urge you to read this, and if not you, your friends or kids! There are so many important lessons in these stories. I wish someone would have given me this book years ago. It is something EVERYONE should read!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen & YA/Coming-of-Age/Fiction

Plot:

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Opinion:

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a refreshingly different sort of story that centers on two young teens. After stumbling upon this story on NetGalley and liking the description that was provided, I requested it with an excitement to see what I would be getting into. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. This story feels genuine and realistic, and there is an innocence around it that hugs the reader until the end.

For years Steffi has lived with a crippling anxiety that has ruled her life. Her social anxiety has caused her to become a selective mute, and she is only able to speak freely and comfortably around her family and best friend. At school the teachers are understanding to Steffi’s situation, and it allows Steffi to sink into the shadows and become invisible to her peers. But when a new boy enters her school, Steffi realizes that she might not be as invisible as she thought. Rhys transfers to Steffi’s school in the hopes of having a more normal school experience, even though his hearing impairment requires special attention from teachers. Together Rhys and Steffi find common ground by way of communicating through sign language and form an instant friendship. As they grow closer and a relationship begins to form, Steffi notices herself starting to change for the better. A Quiet Kind of Thunder showcases the hardships two teens face as they navigate through school and personal relationships, while also learning how to adapt themselves into a normal way of life.

I found A Quiet Kind of Thunder to be a very unique and endearing YA story. I found Steffi’s situation to be VERY interesting…a selective mute? WHAT?! Steffi explains that she is psychically able to speak, but her social anxiety and fears make it hard for her to form sentences as easily as others do. Due to her having a hard time communicating in front of her peers, she chooses to be mute in public and at school. The reader catches up with Steffi as she starts her first year of school without her best friend by her side, which means she doesn’t have an ally or someone to talk freely to. But when Rhys comes along and her learns that she knows sign language, they form an instant friendship and understanding.

This story really gives the reader an inside look into what it is like for teens with hearing and speaking impairments. For Steffi, her parents explain to her how hard it’s going to be to go to University and to have a life on her own when she is unable to communicate with others. For Rhys, the reader sees that a lot of times he gets lost in translation if he is unable to read lips or if someone isn’t speaking in front of him. It made me much more aware of both conditions and made me realize how much we take for granted on a daily basis.

In regards to the writing and story, I found Steffi to be very mature for her age…but maybe even, too mature? I found her speaking to be very eloquent and beyond her years, which made me feel that it was a bit unbelievable. I also found the characters of Rhys and Steffi to be a little too positive and peppy. Obviously, I am not saying that these two should be depressed and sulky! I just thought that their characters were very fluffed and over-the-top with how perky they were. The manner in which they spoke was very formal, and it makes them feel a bit detached from their emotions. These are teenagers, not adult acquaintances! It felt a bit too “cookie cutter” for me, and it made me not connect with them as much as I would have liked. This was bothering me a lot while reading and is a reason why I didn’t fall 100% in love with the story.

The plot was entertaining, and I liked where the author went with the relationship between Rhys and Steffi. Their conditions put stress on their relationship and the relationships around them, and I thought the author showcased these hardships effectively. It was empowering to watch Steffi grow and begin to succeed. The dynamic of how it affected Rhys was something that any couple could relate to, and I began to really feel for his character in that sense. These conditions can make a person feel very alone and isolated unintentionally, and it was sad to see Rhys begin to feel defeated.

Overall, I enjoyed this read but I didn’t love it. It was even-paced, keeps the readers attention, and is entertaining and informative. In the end, I wanted a little more grit and raw truth from these characters. That being said, I think this might be aimed at a younger audience. Though this won’t be one of those books that I put on my “Have to Read Again” shelf, I still found it to be a sweet story that had a strong amount of innocence.

3-5-stars

 

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Reviews

Book Release: Reign of Ash (The Chosen Book 2) by Meg Anne

Title: Reign of Ash
Series: The Chosen: Book 2
Author: Meg Anne
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Cover Design: Lori Follet, Hell Yes Design Studios
Release Date: January 16th, 2018

 

“You will damn us all.”

Kiri Helena Solene thought her trial was over. She was wrong. Prophesied to be the strongest of her kind, Helena is still coming to terms with the depth of her power and what it means to rule.

Unfortunately, there’s little time to learn.

“Without the tether you will fracture.”

As her soul mate, Von is Helena’s balance. Too bad he’s missing. When he disappears, her tenuous hold on her magic begins to slip. Helena must find Von, and soon, or risk losing control completely.

If only she knew where to look.

“You have a choice before you.”

A malevolent force has risen; threatening the lives of Helena and those in her Circle. What they don’t realize is that without Von she will become the thing they most fear. How do you choose between the people you’ve vowed to protect and the one person you can’t live without?

How do you choose when there’s no choice at all?

Snag your copy while it’s still only $.99 or find it on KU.

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

 

 

“This book was one of my most-anticipated books and I was not disappointed.”

“Meg Anne did it again with the second book in the Chosen Series, Reign of Ash. She drew me back into the world that she had created with vivid descriptions and cracking jokes. When I wasn’t laughing, I was crying. The plot was fast paced and the suspense was insane. I craved each new paragraph like a child wanting chocolate cake. Reign of Ash picks up where Mother of Shadows left off and takes us on a journey that at times feels soul destroying, as we witness the characters we’ve grown to love experience the worst of what Meg Anne’s world has to offer and the best. I can’t recommend this book enough.”

“Meg Anne weaves an intricate tale that sucks you in with its increasingly mounting tension and doesn’t let go until you have been on one hell of a ride. As before, we are left starving for more of her incredible story.”

“This series had me on the edge of my seat. I absolutely love that the hero is a bad ass woman with an axe to grind. The author took me to a world filled with action, suspense and fantasy and I really want to stay there. Kudos to Meg Anne for an amazing series.”

The figure in the center moved forward. Long skeletal fingers appeared from the bottom of its sleeves to lift the hood back to reveal its face. There was a startled gasp behind her, but it was the only sound in the entirety of the clearing. Even the animals had decided to make themselves scarce for this particular meeting.

Helena couldn’t blame them. The Keepers were terrifying. There was no other word for the beings that stood before her. The other two followed the lead of the first and removed their hoods. She swallowed thickly, silently wishing they would put them back.

Their faces were gaunt, hairless, and a white so pale, she could make out the pulsing of purple veins beneath the thin skin. Their eyes were pits of black and their mouths were stitched shut, thick black cords woven in a crisscrossing pattern along the length of them. The only distinguishing marks between them were the swirling tattoos that covered almost every visible inch of skin. The markings were a deep navy blue, but as Helena stared at them, they seemed to shift and move in a serpentine fashion.

Without conscious thought, Helena decided the only way to get through this encounter was to brazen it out. “It would seem that Miranda got the looks in the family.”

Behind her Kragen and Ronan snickered with appreciation, while she saw Timmins close his eyes in dismay. Miranda’s own lips curled in an approving smile.

“Kiri, may I introduce you to the Triumvirate,” she said by way of introduction. “These are the oldest of the Keepers, those who have sworn their loyalty to the realm and have shaken off all vestiges of their past lives in order to lead and offer guidance without any of the bias of mortality.”

“One could argue that it is mortality that allows for the most valuable of guidance,” Helena murmured.

“Our Kiri is wise,” the voices hissed in her mind. It was hard to discern any type of emotion, but Helena could have sworn she sensed amusement.

“You will have to forgive my ignorance,” Helena replied, “I had not realized the head of the Keepers would be gracing us with their presence.”

“Nor had I, Kiri, or I would have better prepared you,” Miranda said drolly. There was a hint of censure in her voice, as though she was not pleased by the appearance of the Triumvirate.

The figure in the center tilted his head to the side as though examining her. “Perhaps it is us who should ask your forgiveness. We were merely curious to see whom the Vessel would be, after carrying the prophecy for so many years. We could not miss an opportunity to meet the woman who is responsible for the fate of the Chosen.”

“No pressure,” Ronan muttered.

Helena raised an eyebrow in response, “I hope that I have not disappointed you after such a long wait.”

“You are more than we allowed ourselves to hope for,” the voices echoed.

Helena shivered at their response, not feeling overly comforted despite the words.

“Seeing as we are all aware of the prophecy how is it you think to help us?” Timmins asked. It was the most outright disrespectful she had ever heard her Advisor and Helena turned towards him in surprise.

The Keepers’ faces turned towards him in unison. “You know of the Mother of Shadows, of what will befall the Chosen if the Vessel becomes corrupted, but you know nothing of the Corruptor. Nor what it will take to defeat her. We merely offer information… and a choice.”

“A choice?” Helena repeated, her eyes snapping to the central figure.

There was a slight dip of its head, “There is always a choice, Kiri.”

“Convenient,” she bit out, her stomach twisting inside of her.

“Our words will be for you alone, Kiri, if you wish to hear them.”

Helena swallowed back her fear and stepped towards them, “Very well.” As she spoke, all three lifted their hands towards her.

“Helena!” Darrin cried out in warning.

“Kiri!” the others’ voices echoed, the whistle of blades being drawn sounding behind her.

The black pits where their eyes used to be began to glow scarlet. Helena could not look away, drawn to what she saw within the fiery depths. As one, the Triumvirate touched her. Helena heard someone scream and had the distant thought that it might be her. There wasn’t enough time for her to consider the notion further because she was already falling.

Email: Meg@MegAnneWrites.com
Website: facebook.com/MegAnneWrites
Facebook: MegAnneWrites.com
Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/MegsChosen
Goodreads: goodreads.com/Ms_Meg
Instagram: @MegAnneWrites
Twitter: twitter.com/MegAnneWrites
BookBub: bookbub.com/profile/meg-anne

 

See where it all started, with Mother of Shadows.
Also available on Kindle Unlimited.

 

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Book Review: Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1) by Amanda Hocking

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy

Plot:

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin must decide where her loyalties lie and if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Opinion:

A slaying female heroine, naughty immortals hell-bent (haha, pun) on staying alive, and long walks into the underworld. Suh-Woon.

Kind of.

A Valkyrie has the sole duty of returning immortals to the afterlife once their lives are up. As one of the feared and sometimes hated Valkyrie, Malin dedicates her life to her job. When given a target, Malin knows not to ask questions and to complete her task as quick and efficiently as possible; when your time is up, your time is up. As Malin trains alongside her mother and learns her ways, she proves that she is almost ready to go out on her own. But when a boy named Asher attacks Malin in her apartment, she learns that her mother may have let one of her targets go in the past…and the repercussions involve the death of an innocent and the fate of their existence.

Sounds like a killer fantasy tale of badass female fighters and demons, right? Well, it is. It’s packed with action, has an INCREDIBLY strong female lead, a little romance, a little betrayal, and the ever-loving descent into the underworld. Though the author, Amanda Hocking, has laced this book with everything I love in a story, I still wasn’t completely blown away. I was intrigued with the direction that it took, and it successfully pulled me in. I just didn’t feel like I HAD to keep reading it. It didn’t seem to flow as easily and naturally as the other works from Amanda, and it left me a little disappointed.

Do not let that discourage you, because I am still giving this book a semi-positive review. I can honestly report that I did find enjoyment out of Between the Blade and the Heart, and I am still impressed with the idea and plot. I think my main concern was that I felt a lack of connection to the story and the characters. Malin is a fierce and insanely awesome main character, but I don’t feel like I know her as well as I would have liked. For me, the character and world development didn’t translate properly into something relatable. Obviously, it’s hard to do that in a Fantasy story about creatures that don’t exist. But making the reader feel like they could fall into this world with just a touch to the page is what makes a Fantasy story relatable, and I just wasn’t feeling it with this one.

I think my final opinion on Between the Blade and the Heart is “Eh okay, good…but not my favorite”. Since this is a series, I probably won’t go on to read book 2. BUT, there have been many a series to turn my opinions around in the second installment, so I will have to wait and see. Honestly guys, Amanda Hocking is one of my favorite authors, so I am a bit bummed out to be writing a not so stellar review for one of her works. I know this story really worked for a lot of other readers, but it just wasn’t all the way there for me.

2-5-stars

 

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