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Book Review: The Myth Seeker by Cory Barclay

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Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Urban Fantasy

Plot: A banshee who just wants to sing.
A leprechaun with a gambling problem.
A sex-addicted succubus in recovery.
Vampires who want a sunny day at the beach.
And then there’s Steve, the regular Joe who inadvertently brought these flawed mythical beings to our world. But he has no idea how he did it, which is a problem, because it’s his job to bring them home.
All this responsibility is putting a serious damper on Steve’s directionless lifestyle. Then he finds out a dark force is trying to kill him and his friends. And he might be falling in love with one of his charges…
Steve realizes he must get his act together, before it’s too late…

Opinion: If you have been keeping up with my reviews lately, you will know that I am a big fan of Cory Barclay’s Of Witches and Werewolves series. It had grabbed my attention with its imaginative story that is based loosely on true events, the wonderful character and story building, and Cory’s ability to write in a way that transports the reader back in time.

So naturally, when Cory asked me to read and review his newest story The Myth Seeker, I jumped at the chance. I love witnessing an author I enjoy trying something new and stepping out of their writing “norm”, and this new urban fantasy sounded really promising. Unfortunately, this just really didn’t hit the mark for me and I am left feeling a little disappointed and confused.

Steve Remington is trying desperately to make it in the music world and to hold on to his sobriety, just one day at a time. While at his father’s funeral Steve comes across a young girl named Annabel playing a guitar against a headstone, and offers his services to help her make a record. But little do Annabel and Steve know that their worlds have changed forever. Soon strange things begin to happen every time Annabel sings, and even stranger characters begin to pop up in Steve’s life. Leprechauns, angels, vampires, druids are suddenly everywhere, and Steve seems to be at the epicenter of the chaos.

As I had said above, I was really looking forward to reading this story. I love ANYTHING Fantasy, especially when it involves such an array of mythical creatures and magic. I am very fond of Cory Barclay’s writing style in the Of Witches and Werewolves series, as well as his ability to connect the characters and the reader so easily. I have found that this author writes lengthy stories that build a fantastic plot and world, but doesn’t overdo it with giving the reader too much information and “fluff”. His characters are always quirky and somewhat flawed, but feel very real and important to the reader. Not only do I always stay completely glued to his stories, but I often find myself not expecting the ending or what will happen next.

When it comes to The Myth Seeker however, I feel like it is lacking in a lot of those qualities that I enjoy from this author. Though the idea for this story is both thoughtful and intriguing, I personally feel like it missed the mark. This story is an urban fantasy set in present times in Southern California, and combines the world that we know with another mythical plane/realm/world. I felt that this movement from Cory writing historical fictions set in the 16th century to present, changed his writing style to something that felt more forced than natural. The writing felt too wordy at times and focused on one moment or scene for way too long, which in turn made it seem like a lot was being repeated. It felt a bit too wordy during many of the dialogues, and took away from the overall story and what was happening. It seems like a lot of useless “fluff” was put in to fill up space when it came to conversation between characters, or our main character observing or describing something. I would have preferred more story building rather than reading about a lot of things that felt unnecessary, in my opinion.

I also had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. By the end of the story I found Steve to be pretentious, arrogant, overly crude and honestly…he just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I was a little turned off by the overuse of crudeness and excessive cussing by him. DON’T GET ME WRONG. I cuss like a sailor, and I understand he’s a macho kind of character. But when it comes to writing, I think there should be a distinction between the character being cruder and the entire story adopting that style. I think that an author using more raunchy ways of writing takes away from their writing skills and the story, and it makes it look like that they don’t have the ability to write in a more sophisticated way. Which I KNOW to be untrue regarding Cory Barclay, because I have seen proof of his amazing writing.

The character of Annabel also threw me for a bit of a loop. She spoke in a very formal way that was meant to make her look worldly and to back the notion that her parents (who are vampires) are from a VERY long time ago. All fine and dandy. But for some reason, the way she “spoke” kept making me visualize a pre-teen rather than a young adult. Her character came off as very young and naïve, and even Dale and Steve would speak to her like she was a young child. So obviously when the romance between Steve and Annabel eventually arouse, I was more than a little taken aback and confused. Because of my disconnect for these characters, I didn’t find myself caring about what happened to them.

I think because of those issues that I had while reading, it took away from my appreciation from this story. I found myself predicting the ending and speed-reading through because of the little things that were throwing me off. I think Cory had the right idea for this story, but that it could have been shaped a little better. I am really upset that I wasn’t as enthralled with this story as I was with his other series, but I have confidence in Cory’s writing that he will produce countless enjoyable and interesting stories in the future.

2-5-stars

 

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Book Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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

Genre: YA/Teen/Fantasy

Plot: Princess Ivy has one goal—end the war against the Forces of Darkness.

Ivy’s magic is more powerful than any other Royal’s, but she needs a battle partner who can help her harness it. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword should make them an unstoppable pair—if only they could agree on…well, just about anything.

But Ivy’s magic can only fully unlock with Zach’s help, and he’s not exactly cooperating.

Zach believes Ivy’s magic is dangerous. Ivy believes they’ll never win the war without it. Two warriors, one goal, and the fate of their world on the line. But the more they argue, the more they fall for each other. And only one of them can be right…

Opinion:

Goblins, dwarves, griffins, dragons, curses, witches, magic, Princes, Princesses, KISSES!

Oh my word, it MUST be another fairytale!

But NO! It isn’t! It’s BETTER than JUST another fairytale. This is the tale that puts all those other stories of fairies and….tales…to rest! ENOUGH of those sputtering damsels in distress. Poison apple this, lost slipper that! “But It can all be cured by TWU WUV’S FIRST KISS!”

LADIES! Get a HANDLE on yourselves!

HONESTLY!

By the seventh day of constant agony, I wished I hadn’t already killed the dwarf who cast this locking curse on me. I wanted the opportunity to kill him again. Slower this time.”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

In Ivy’s world, the ones with royal blood are the ones that fight on the front lines of battle. With the four kingdoms in a five-hundred-year battle against the Evil Queen and her dark forces, the need for royal warriors is in high demand. A partnership between a Prince and Princess is a force to be reckoned with, but the kiss that a Princess can bestow on a Prince is even stronger. Each kiss can heal a Prince of a curse put on them by a troll or dwarf, and it can also give the Princes the warrior power of ten men. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger the kiss and magic. As Ivy is a direct descendant of the original Queen Myriana, her kisses are the most powerful. But with the death of her fifth Prince, Ivy must find another partner to go into battle with. Enter, Zach. Zach is unlike any Prince Ivy has ever met, and to say he is unorthodox is an understatement. Soon Zach and Ivy are given a dangerous task that holds every kingdom’s fate in their hands, but Zach refuses to kiss Ivy or cooperate with her in any way. With two very different outlooks, these two must come together to defeat a common enemy.

A prince that won’t kiss a princess?!? Color me SHOCKED and SPEECHLESS, and heavy on the sarcasm! 😉

Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

So where this story differs from our regularly scheduled fairytale programs, is that these Princes and Princesses are bred to be warriors. Literally. Princesses are sent to a place called Frieda to be paired with Princes and produce strong royals to be trained for war. Once a Prince or Princess has gone through training, they are bonded with a partner who matches their skillset or power. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger they are. In this story, the Princesses are the real heroes. As the Princes charge into battle, the Princesses stay back an act as their eyes and ears; firing at anything that gets close to their Princes. If a prince goes down, their bonded Princess gives them a healing kiss and saves their lives. But these Princesses can kick ass too! They train just as hard as the Princes, and I love it!

Obviously, the main aspect of this story centers around kissing. When I started reading I kept thinking what a funny concept this was. For these Princesses to just be running around kissing Princes like it’s nothing? Oh, no big deal! But due to how these royals are raised, it isn’t a big deal. They believe in lust, but they don’t believe in love. They believe that love is a fantastical thought and idea that the “Romantica” created, and that there is no such thing. For these royals who put their lives on the line each day, kissing is what keeps them alive and fighting. It is a weapon, and that’s it.

But for Zach, that isn’t the case. Zach is a Saevallan Prince who travels to the Crown City of Myria with his Saevallan army to aid in the battle against the dark forces. He is rumored to be the best swordsman and fiercest warrior they have, which isn’t a lie. But Zach is unlike the rest of the royals. He was raised on the streets, didn’t acknowledge his royal blood until recently, and best of all…he was raised as a Romantica. DING DING DING. ROOOOMAANNNCEEE. So naturally the pairing between Ivy and Zach would be a formidable one, except for the part of Zach not wanting a partner. As a Romantica, Zach doesn’t agree with using the “kiss” as a weapon because it means something different to him. Which is true…but there is WAY more to it that I obviously can’t tell you.

As one could guess, a romance develops…but a difficult one at that! A boy who was raised on love and a girl who was raised to not even think it was real? Talk about complicated! As the two set out on their task, they encounter countless battles and dangers. Though I was a bit miffed about that ending, it wasn’t a complete issue for me. I wish the author would have wrapped everything up JUST a little better. I feel like I missed a ton of important moments between the ending of the story and the epilogue. I felt like this could have been elaborated on more because it left me feeling a bit rushed.

There is a ton of action in this story, a few close calls, countless arguments between Ivy and Zach, and a truly different outlook on the normal fairytale. These characters are developed in a way that showcases their fierceness, as well as their innocence and value. The reader is encased in a battle between doing what one is taught, and doing what one wants and feels. It is SUCH a different outlook and take on the “true loves kiss” idea and it is done PERFECTLY! I’m only wishing this was a ten part series…I want more, more, more!

When had I become someone who struggled with the difference between a kiss and a Kiss?”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

4-5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Prophecy (The Healer, Book 4) By. C.J. Anaya

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: Armed with memories of her past life and the identity of her true soul mate, Hope is bound and determined to fulfill her destiny and heal the veil…on her own terms, that is. Unfortunately, Hope’s inability to play by the rules causes a rift in the group and discord with Tie. Dark forces are at work fighting to tear them apart, while Victor, Ms. Mori, and Dr. Fairmont attempt to understand Tie’s role in saving the world.

Hope’s inability to sense the veil, Angie’s visions of loved one’s deaths, Kirby’s vulnerability, and an unwanted bond with a dangerous kami are certain to prevent her from ending the conflict once and for all. The group needs answers found in an ancient prophecy and written in a language few understand.

And they have no idea where it is…

And Amatsu’s servants are hunting them…

And the veil is failing…

Opinion:

It has finally come: the end of the road. The last crumb of the pie. The last of the Mohicans.

(This has nothing to do with the Mohicans).

After a long and emotional tug of war between soulmates, centuries, Gods, demons and amnesia; the Prophecy Series has come to an end.

But to be honest, I am left feeling pretty disappointed by this installment.

With every bit of knowledge from her past life, and the dangers in her present, Hope has finally reunited with her soulmate and begun the task of healing the veil. But nothing ever comes easy for Hope. With the Black Blossom binding her to the demon God Amatsu, she struggles to fight against her forced feelings for the God of the underworld and her true feelings for the God of Marriage, Tie. But with the bond between Hope and Amatsu only growing stronger, Hope and her friends rush to find the prophecy in hopes of learning the true translation. Only with the prophecy will Hope and Tie have a chance at healing the veil and saving the world, which means they must travel back to where it all started. In Kagami.

This is the fourth book in The Healer series, so check out my reviews for Book 1 – The Healer, Book 2 – The Black Blossom and Book 3 – The Grass Cutter Sword!

Let me begin by saying how much I enjoyed reading this series. The entire storyline is creative, well developed, and extremely addicting. The separation between past and present lives is so eloquently laid out, and the movement of the story between 1000 A.D. to the present gives this series an extra layer of WOW. I truly commend this author for creating such an exciting and detailed world for us readers. Even though Kagami was a dangerous place for Hope, I couldn’t help but want to be there with Musubi and Victor. This series gave a mix of history into this well created fantasy story, while also showcasing some brilliant girl power and complete badassery by our female characters. My weakness is a strong and capable woman who can do anything, so thank you to the author for…mostly doing that.

I do however, have a few qualms with the last installment of this story. First is with Mikomi/Hope when it comes to her being this strong and fierce female character. In her first life she was Mikomi, and she was a princess of the Kagami empire in 1000 A.D. who was the prophesized Healer meant to heal the veil. This character was beaten by her father, forced to be meek and obedient due to her culture, and given nothing in terms of choices for her future. But was this girl weak, HELL NO. She had strong morals and a wicked sense of what she wanted for herself. She did what she wanted, regardless of the consequences or what path was set out for her. So why, pray tell, does she become such a doe-eyed, man-needing, pre-teen as Hope? It broke my heart a little to see her become this childish version of herself that NEEDED Tie so badly that she became less independent, and more DEPENDENT. Tie’s wishy-washy behavior of “I’ll fight for you” and “I’ll let you go” was nauseating. If he goes, LET HIM GO. BYE!! Heal that damn veil on your own girl, you got this! I know it was love that conquers all, and that was one of the message from this story, but the Tie meltdowns were making me wish Hope would just finish it. THANKFULLY, Angie was my saving grace for a female who doesn’t need a man to do anything.

The only other issue I have with The Prophecy is the reason that it took me so long to get through the last book of The Healer series. I had a hard time with the characters transitioning from their lives in 1000 A.D., to their lives in present times. It wasn’t exactly the flashbacks from then and now, because those were constructed perfectly. It seemed as if the characters went from being these strong and mature people, to immature adolescents. In Hope and Angie’s case, I could understand them acting a bit younger due to them ACTUALLY being teenagers. They had only just remembered their previous lives, so naturally the culture now will have made them a bit more…innocent and childish? Sure, I can get on board with that. Makes sense. But WHY are Victor and Tie acting this way? THESE GUYS ARE GODS WHO HAVE LIVED FOR CENTURIES. They literally went from being MEN to BOYS. Why is Bishu the only character that has kept his eloquent form of speaking, and why is he the only one that still holds himself like he’s had years upon years of walking this earth? This made it incredibly hard for me to read this last book in the series. It made these characters feel so transparent and ridiculous, which is the exact opposite of the people I knew them to be. Needless to say, I am more than a little bummed out about how they turned out.

But with my complaining of characters aside, a review of this story as a whole is what I am really trying to get to. Hope finds herself bound to the demon God Amatsu, with his darkness only growing stronger inside of her. The true question of this book is this: Can Hope overcome this binding and fight for what she really wants? Because that is the REAL question in this entire series isn’t it?! Mikomi and Hope have been suppressed and forced to do so many things through their lives, except choose their own fate. So gold star for that! The real PEARL of this story is Amatsu though. Move over Musubi, Amatsu is my new male love for The Healer series. What can I say? I love a bad boy! I love a hated character, especially one engulfed in darkness and bad decisions! SWOON! Thankfully my boy finds himself a happy ending, though it was a bit unexpected.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the battles and the imagination behind the place that Kagami had turned into. These battles are EPIC and there are a TON of them. Someone is constantly trying to kill Hope and her friends, and I have to be honest, I was feeling it. Demon cat-like creatures coming from the underworld trying to maul them? Um hello, sign me up! We even get to meet Bishu, a demon who was a God once upon a time who lives as a hell cat, but has a heart of gold! Aw. The world of Kagami is where this story really excels though. The trek to Hope’s former home is a dangerous one, and the forest they travel through is crawling with all sorts of dangers. Every aspect of this land can kill you, and everything is alive. This makes for an AMAZING and EXCITING adventure.

All in all, I did really enjoy this series. I was pretty disappointed with this book in regards to the characters, but the story makes up for it. I read a few other reviews from other readers who DO NOT share my opinions on the characters, so keep that in mind. These are just my feelings and observations. This is still an amazing and creative series, and I think it is well-worth any readers time.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s – Delacorte Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Opinion:

Though I DID read this MONTHS ago, I didn’t review it right away, which in turn has caused me to re-read it so that I could properly refresh myself.

So, my review for Ash Princess…better late than never, right?!

10 years ago, Princess Theodosia Eirene Houzzara’s country was invaded by the Kalovaxians. Her people were slaughtered and enslaved, her home overrun by her enemy, and her mother’s throat was slit before her eyes. Now at sixteen, Theodosia wears a new name, Thora the Ash Princess. She now lives among the people that brought destruction upon her kind, the Astreans, and endures torment and abuse to just live another day. But life as the Ash Princess doesn’t come without it’s catches. Her best friend is a Kalovaxian named Cress who is the daughter of the Theyn, the man that killed Theodosia’s mother; she is whipped and beaten by order of the Kaiser when rebel Astrean groups attack, and she is guarded at all times to ensure that she stays loyal to her enemy. But everything changes when the Kaiser forces Thora to kill a man from her childhood, a man loyal to her mother. Soon Thora finds herself in a position to strike against the Kaiser, and to exact revenge on the people that stole everything form her. But sometimes not everything is fair in love and war, and Theodosia must make a choice when it comes to what she thinks is right.

My mother was known as the Fire queen, regal and strong. But I am the Ash Princess, a living joke.” – Thora, Ash Princess

Okay guys, Check. This. Out.

If any of you know me, you know that I LOVE a great fantasy read about royals and a little bloodshed. It just makes my blood thrum with happiness! Ash Princess does just that by giving the reader a little romance, suspense, turmoil, a question of morals vs. karma, magic, and of course some killing to keep in interesting. This is definitely a story you will have no problem devouring and speeding through, but be warned that it might feel a little “young” depending on your age/preference (despite the killing, etc.) which I will get into in a moment.

Firstly, more about this story! Theodosia (Thora) is sixteen years old and living in her palace that the Kaiser and the Kalovaxians took over ten years prior. After Theodosia’s mother was killed, the Kaiser gave Theo the choice to die or live amongst her enemy. She chose to live, thus thrusting her into the lions’ den and leading a life pretending to hate her own people. The Kaiser is a brutal man who takes what he wants and has no remorse for what he does. He uses Theo as a tool against the Astreans by publicly whipping and beating Theo every time rebel groups try to fight against the Kalovaxians.

When the reader is first introduced to Theodosia, she is living as Thora the Ash Princess. Thora is a timid, meek and subservient girl. Her spirit is broken, and she seems to have given up on ever being rescued and freed from her cage. Though she does have a friend in the palace, Cress, it is still a friend she can’t speak freely to. She is forced to censor herself and put on an act to show the Kaiser that she is loyal to the Kalovaxians, and it is truly sad to read. But what I liked about Thora was that even when she had metaphorically locked Theodosia away, there were still moments where she showed the reader that she hadn’t completely lost herself.

‘“You requested my presence, your highness?” I ask, dropping into a curtsy so deep I am flat against the ground. Even after a decade, my bones still protest the posture. My body remembers-even when the rest of me forgets-that I am not made for curtsying.’ – Thora, Ash Princess

But after the Kaiser forces Thora to kill one of her own, things start to change drastically.  Thora finds herself among rebels that want to rescue her, but instead she makes the decision to stay and work as a spy. Now I can’t go in to too much more detail because I don’t want to give away the good stuff, but I CAN tell you guys about this little romance we have brewing!

Insert: A Love Triangle. Or…is it?

Soren, the Prinz of the Kalovaxians and the son of the cruel Kaiser. He has just come back from apprenticing under the Theyn for 5 years, and APPARENTLY he is a legendary and fierce warrior. Soren proves to be the opposite of his father, and seems like he might genuinely care about changing the world. Blaise is our other male in this triangle, and he is an Astrean who grew up with Theodosia. As part of the rebels plan for Theo, she must basically make the Prinz fall in love with her. Of course along the way some true feelings arise between Theo and the Prinz, but not without some moments happening between Theo and Blaise as well. I can honestly say guys, I am TORN on this one. Usually I ALWAYS favor one character over the other, but I don’t in this story! Will she choose Blaise? Will she choose Soren?? Well I don’t know, because the author left me with this annoyingly HUGE cliffhanger!

Now there is also some magic that is happening in this story. For the Astreans, Spritgems were sacred gems that made up the four elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water. The gems would give the wielder an extra boost of power to use with their magical element, and were considered very sacred. A select few Astreans would spend years in temples praying to their gods in order to be blessed. Some would be blessed with powers and become guardians, while others would go mad. Once the Kalovaxians took over, they forced the remaining Astreans into the mines to mine for the Spiritgems, while disgracing their beliefs and using the gems as jewelry. Wicked, right? Of course, our poor Theo was forbidden to be around any sort of gems. But if you are wondering why this poor girl is called the “Ash Princess”, the obvious reason is this: the Kaiser forces Thora to wear a crown of ashes every time they throw a party. Now if that isn’t the most legendary and cruel symbol of someone destroying your entire life and forcing you to show it off, I don’t know what is.

The only qualms I have with this story are this: it feels a little TOO young at times, and some things aren’t fully explained. Now I know that our main character is sixteen, but there are some HEAVY things happening in this story that make this character grow up fast. My issue is that Theo, Blaise, and a few of the other characters act and speak in such an adolescent way…that I found myself getting confused. The author is pulling me back and forth between them being mature, and not mature, and I am just not sure which direction I should be going in. If this supposed to be a YA read, or a Teen YA read?

My other small problem is the author not fully explaining things, or not fully building up moments. For example: Blaise tells Theo that she always gets a certain look on her face when she is about to do something rebellious. Theo retorts that he can never stop her anyways. As the reader, I don’t recall this happening much at all? I feel like I am being told something rather than just coming to that conclusion on my own. Another example is when it is said that Soren is a legendary warrior. This seems so shocking to me because I can’t help but imagine Soren as a teenage boy, not a fierce and feared man. There was no context that proves he should be anything else than what I am visualizing, so it left me a bit confused.

Those things aside, I think this is a really great read. I am sitting her twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next book, which I know will be a while from now. Sorry for that LONG ass review, but there was just so much to talk about! Though I did have a few annoyances while reading Ash Princess, I wholeheartedly recommend it if you love YA/Fantasy reads. I am a sucker for anything with royalty and fantasy, so if you are the same then you will REALLY enjoy this book.

4-stars

 

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Book Review: The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: War is coming, and the veil between life and death is weakening.

As a trusted member of the Samurai Rebels, it is up to Mikomi to gather information that will stop her father from creating a kami army. Katsu’s constant interference impedes her progress, and she is torn between her duty to the world and her love for one very reluctant rebel. Unfortunately, more than one party is interested in using the kami army for their own malicious purposes.

Mikomi’s enemies quickly multiply as a plot far more devious in nature is unearthed. Though Musubi works to prepare her for the many dangers she must face, remaining within the palace walls may no longer be an option. She must protect herself against nekomata disguised as normal humans, while a far greater threat lurks within the heart of a man whom she loves and trusts.

Opinion:

WOOOOOOOOO! Things are HEATING UP boys and girls!

Can you guys feel it?! That…that tingling?! It’s almost like goosebumps, or maybe butterflies? It…it almost feels like…NO! Could it be???

HOPE?

…I’m actually referring to the feeling or desire here though, not the character Hope…HA! *sigh* bad joke.

As Mikomi’s ascension and wedding to the warrior God Katsu nears, the threats against her life and her kingdom are at an all time high. With Katsu unable to heal the significant damage done to Mikomi’s Ki due to the healing of her mother, Mikomi and her teacher begin to wonder if the prophecy was interpreted correctly: if Katsu is even her soulmate. But while Mikomi searches for the truth, new concerns begin to arise. The Nekomata are attacking Mikomi left and right, and an army more sinister than the Emperor’s is readying to attack. With the rebels and Musubi at her side, Mikomi fights to free the enslaved God’s in the palace while looking for her own way out in the process.

*It’s Spoiler City down there*

That was probably a REALLY confusing summary that I just laid out for you guys if you haven’t started this series yet. So, what are you waiting for? Get on it! The Grass Cutter Sword is book number THREE in The Healer series, and it is just as action/sadness/heartbreak/romance packed as the previous! The reader continues to relive Hope’s past life with her as Princess Mikomi: the prophesized Healer who will join with the Warrior God Katsu to heal the veil between life and death. Now there really isn’t any way for me to review this story without giving away some HUGE moments from book two, so…beware? 😉

The Grass Cutter Sword leaves off right where The Black Blossom (book 2) ended; Mikomi has red eyes from her Ki being severely damage after she was forced by the Emperor to heal her mother, she isn’t sure if Katsu is actually her true soul mate, she has the serious obsessions with Musubi, and she is still trying to figure out how to win the war against the Emperor. This girl has A LOT to handle. But to her credit, Mikomi is turning into a real badass. She is honing her samurai fighting skills in order to protect herself, and even her healing abilities are getting stronger. Not only is Mikomi progressing on her own in this third installment, but FINALLY we are seeing some progression with Musubi!

The relationship between Mikomi and Musubi (remember kids, it’s also Hope and Tie) has FINALLY made a turn for the right!! But then…oh wait…it crashes and burns again. -__- *sarcastic monotone excitement* – WOO. These two…*le sigh* are trying to kill me. Every time I saw a little glimmer of hope (hehe) between them, just a little smidge of progression to “twue wuv” and happiness, Musubi literally runs away. Literally. He just leaves.

Umbye?

Now, this book ends on a somewhat bittersweet note. It filled me with romance, only to empty me halfway. Romance aside though, The Grass Cutter Sword  kicks some serious ass. The threat to the rebels becomes INSANE as they learn some dark news about their enemy. This is BIG guys, and it’s downright horrible. I have to say that where this book leads up to is by far my favorite, the epic battle scene and the end of Hope’s life as Mikomi is a true punch to your gut. What happens to Mikomi and her friends is DEVASTATING. But truth be told, as soon as I followed Mikomi back to the present, back into her life as Hope, I was a little bummed. I have grown to LOVE who these characters were in their past lives. They acted with so much more conviction and wisdom, and I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed when they started acting like ridiculous teenagers again when Hope woke up. My only complaint is that these characters shouldn’t have changed, and that the badassery that was showcased during Mikomi’s life should have DEFINITELY continued.

Ending aside, I am looking forward to finishing up book four and checking this awesome series off my TBR list. I am hoping for improvement when it comes to the characters and how they act in the “present”, but we shall see where the author takes this story. I am SO ready to get back to this epic love/adventure story!

4-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Book Wrap-up · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

January 2018 Book Wrap-Up

January Wrap-up

Hello readers! Today I bring you my Book Wrap-up for January 2018!

I have given myself a goal of 75 books to read for 2018 (via my Goodreads challenge). Last year I tried for 100, but I sadly didn’t make it. So for this year, I made it more attainable for myself. Who knows, maybe I will go above and beyond 75. We shall see… 😉

As for January 2018, I read/reviewed 6 books, which I am kind of bummed out about. That’s it? Yikes. I need to step it up!

Shatter (Glitter Book 2) by Aprilynne Pike

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Shatter follows up the incredible first book in this two book collection, Glitter. Though it doesn’t look like there will be a book three, I am wishing with all my might there will be. These books ROCK! This story blends present times and the 18th-Century, set with the corsets and big wigs! Our main character is Queen and living in the Palace of Versailles, but she is doing everything she can to get out. This book is packed with murder, jewels, backstabbing, and romance. I LOVE these books. ❤

The Healer by C.J. Anaya

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The Healer is the first in this series and it gets kicked off fairly well. I have read books two and three already (look for my upcoming reviews) and am currently on book four. I thought this was a great intro to what this series is really about, and I am still happily lost in the world this author created. Hope has the ability to heal people, but she keeps it a secret. But when two mysterious boys show up at her school who know of what she can do, her world drastically changes. We eventually learn that Hope is involved in a prophecy and that these two males are Gods. Let me tell you guys, swoon-worthy.

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

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This sadly wasn’t a big thriller for me. I am a HUGE fan of Amanda Hocking and will read just about anything she writes. So when I saw this on Netgalley, I NATURALLY did an instant request. Between the Blade and the Heart is basically about a Valkyrie’s and their purpose to send immortals back to the underworld. I wasn’t overly impressed with the result, and I probably won’t continue to read the series. Amanda usually blows me away with her fantasy stories, but this one didn’t. 😦

A Quiet Kind of thunder by Sara Barnard

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THIS is such a sweet story guys, definitely the first heartwarming read of 2018. A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi, a selective mute, and Rhys, a new student to Steffi’s school who is deaf. The story gives the reader a glimpse into the relationship that forms between these two characters, and the struggles they have in a world where most people can speak or hear one another. These two go through a lot together, and it was a truly endearing book to read. It was something different than what I had ever read, and I really enjoyed it.

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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AH! THIS!

I mean…what can I NOT say about this book? It is probably one of the most important pieces I have read in my life. No joke. It is a collection of five short stories, and each story spins a tale of a different kind of manipulative person. It ranges from manipulation of others for greed to manipulation for innocent attention. One story in particular really resonated with me; a story about a young man manipulating a young girl into thinking he loved her, but he was just using her. YANKS on my heartstrings.

This book, I strongly and seriously urge every one of you to purchase. You NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need to read this, your children…NEED to read this.

Forlorn by Gina Detwiler

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Forlorn….eh. I couldn’t even finish the book, and I kind of wish I had just so I could have given a full review. This story is about angels and demons, so naturally i thought I would love it. However, I did not. There were too many holes, undeveloped characters, and a load of cheesiness going on. I couldn’t handle it. Not my cup of tea.

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Amazon.com – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal.

This sweeping story of palace intrigue, class hierarchy, and deception will keep readers hurtling along, desperate to find out Mare’s fate. Her honesty and determination, quick wit, and no-holds-barred attitude will surely make readers fall in love with her.

Opinion: Red Queen has been sitting pretty on my bookshelf for a few months now, but I keep putting it off for a few reasons. The first being that I had WAY too many books from authors/publishing houses to get through, and the second being that I didn’t want to get addicted to this series and read it too quickly…which I always do. The Red Queen series has been very hyped up in the book community, so I figured it must be amazing. I found myself really enjoying the story line, but something was missing for me.

Mare Barrow lives in a world where humanity is separated by the color of your blood. Silver bloods are blessed with powers that make them both godlike and elite, while the Red bloods are forced into servitude due to their lack of abilities. Mare, being a Red blood, has been living in poverty her whole life and has mastered the art of stealth and pick-pocketing in order to survive. But as her 18th birthday nears, so does her conscription into a never-ending war. As Mare desperately searches for a way to save herself and her best friend Kilorn from being put on the front lines, she finds herself in an even more compromising position…being a new servant to the Silver King. But when Mare begins work in her new position, her world flips upside down as she finds that she not only possesses an ability of her own, she is now betrothed to a Prince of the Silver court. With a hatred for the Silver kingdom and everything negative that they have brought against the Red bloods, Mare secretly joins the Scarlet Guard, a rebel group. Now Mare must decide who she can trust and how to survive, even if that means living with the enemy.

Long description I know, but these books are LONG. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games while reading this book, and I think it had to do with the themes of rebellion and a court of insane characters. The Silver bloods are very similar to those that live in the first 3 districts of The Hunger Games, they are cruel, cold, and calculated. Of course the obvious difference is that the Silver bloods possess some seriously amazing gifts from the gods. Their powers range from super strength, wielding fire, manipulating metal, having control over someones abilities or mind, and so on. These traits are what make the Silver bloods more powerful than the Red bloods, and what allows them to control the lives of every Red blood in their kingdom. The Silver bloods are a brutal group in how they act and what they can do, but their appearance only adds to their dominance. Having Silver blood running through their veins makes them look pale and hard, almost inhuman. These traits definitely work to serve as many reasons as to why the Silver bloods have taken power of the Red bloods, and why it has been so hard for the Red bloods to rise up over the years.

Mare Barrow is an interesting character. She is a Red blood and has been in poverty all of her life with her family. She has seen all three of her older brothers go off to war due to conscription, and she has fought hard to find a way to help provide for her family. Unfortunately for Mare, she lacks any particular skill and is unable to find herself work as an apprentice. While living in the shadow of her perfect sister, Mare uses her time to steal from the Silver bloods in order to compensate for what she cannot do. I like that mare has a fierce and quick tongue, and has no problem speaking her mind. She holds strong morals and beliefs, and she bares these on her shoulders throughout the story.

What I found frustrating was that the chemistry and connection between characters, and between myself and the characters, was really lacking. I didn’t feel Mare and Kilorn’s strong life-long connection to each other, or a connection between mare and any other character for that matter. The author EXPLAINS the relationship between Kilorn and Mare or how the bond between Mare and Cal and Maven grows, but I didn’t believe it. It’s like someone just telling you that they have undying trust for someone else, rather than you noticing it and believing it. I just didn’t buy it. So naturally when the romances started to come forward, I was left rolling my eyes and thinking that they felt forced and unnatural. I find this happening in so many YA stories now, and it saddens me. I JUST NEED MORE!

Characters aside, this story has a really great imaginative feel and flow. The world that the author has created is wonderfully described and made up, even though I sometimes get a little lost in the countless names of characters, places, and abilities.  There is A LOT of description and character reflecting in this story, so be prepared for that. I found myself skimming through some of the paragraphs once and awhile because of the overload of explanations, but that’s just me. Besides a lot of great detail putting this story together, the author does a great job of inserting some amazing blindsides and twists and turns. I honestly had NO IDEA that the story was going to take a turn like it did, and I LOVED it. I mean naturally I am a bit crushed, but I adore when an author can do something unexpected.

Long review I know, but this story deserves it. I know that my review ended up sounding a bit more negative than even I was expecting it to be, but rest assured that this story really is enjoyable. I think that because this story was so hyped up, I was expecting it to be “out of this world” amazing. I am currently reading book 2, Glass Sword, and trust me…it’s getting crazy good. I am hoping the character development improves and becomes stronger, because I really want to have a connection o these characters. Keep a lookout for my review of book 2, Glass Sword!

3-5-stars

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