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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 · Books · Reviews

Book review: The Black Blossom (The Healer Book 2) 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: Forced into a dream-like state, Hope is now reliving her life as Mikomi, Princess of the Kagami Empire and The Healer of the world.

Life as an Imperial Princess is rife with danger, betrayal, and intrigue as Mikomi joins forces with a rebel group of samurai warriors in order to usurp the throne from her tyrannical father. To win this seemingly hopeless war, she must train with Musubi, a warrior in the rebel army, and learn the art of the sword without revealing her identity as The Healer.

Unbeknownst to her, Musubi harbors his own secret identity and personal agenda, both of which hold dark consequences for Mikomi’s future. Neither one can afford to share their secrets, nor can they ignore the powerful chemistry building between them.

Further complications arise at the arrival of her betrothed, Katsu, who must aid her in mastering control of her own gift before she ascends as a full kami on her eighteenth birthday. Katsu is not the cold-hearted warrior god she expected, but how can she spend eternity with a deity she may never love?

Determined to avoid her destiny, she spies on her father and his generals, collecting intelligence for the rebel army in the hope that one day the empire of Kagami will be liberated and her own future will be hers to control.

Opinion:

Today from my far away land of Northern California, I bring you a riveting review of The Black Blossom, the sequel to The Healer by C.J. Anaya. I reviewed The Healer MONTHS ago, so if you have forgotten or never saw it, please go here before continuing. Or if you’re feeling rebellious and refuse to take s**t from me or anyone else, don’t. You go, you little rebel you! 😉

After nearly draining her life force in order to save Kirby, Hope has been forced into a state of dreaming so that she is able to relive the memories of her past life. The reader is taken back in time to Hope’s first life in 1000 A.D. as Princess Mikomi, the healer that is prophesized to heal the veil between the living and the dead with her betrothed, Katsu. Though Mikomi has a strict life path laid out before her, it doesn’t stop her from sneaking away from her duties in order to heal villagers in need. But the moment of her arranged marriage and ascension is nearing, and the vile Emperor’s countless abuse of Mikomi’s powers is beginning to wear her thin. In an attempt to defy her father, the Emporer, Mikomi joins forces with the rebel armies intent on taking back the Kagami Empire; and begins training with the mysterious and cold Musubi. Months of training and attempts by Mikomi to crack the hard shell of Musubi begins to make improve, but her conflicting feelings for her betrothed begin to rise as well. All Mikomi can do now is gather as much information against her father as possible, and hope that it will be enough to change her destiny.

Did somebody say…SWOON?!?

THIS is where this series takes off and becomes a story worth raving about. Though I did enjoy book one, The Healer, I can’t even compare the level of amazing that The Black Blossom is. This author COMPLETELY revamped the “enjoyable but okay” book that the reader starts out with. The characters, the world, the danger, and the intrigue are at LEVEL 10 and I am like a bug to a lamp…smashing my head against it for MORE, MORE, MORE! The Healer had a great direction that it was moving towards and introduced some dreamy characters, but it felt so adolescent and a bit “eye-rollish”. In The Black Blossom we are transported back in time, but these characters are EVOLVED. The men are actually MEN and there isn’t all of this immature banter going on between the males and females that makes me want to barf a little. Instead of feeling like I am reading a teen story, I feel like I am immersed in a true YA Fantasy series. HELL YES to that!

This installment of The Healer series starts out in 1000 A.D., where Hope is experiencing her first life as Princess Mikomi of the Kagami Empire. It has been prophesized that a Kami and a human woman will bear a child (Mikomi) that will be the key to healing the veil between the living and the dead. Once of age, Mikomi is meant to marry Masaru Katsu, Warrior God and keeper of the Grass Cutter Sword, where they will combine as one to heal the veil and save everyone…blah, blah, blah…happily ever after. For Mikomi, this life isn’t at all what she wants for herself. She dreams of being able to choose her own destiny and make her own choices, which includes sneaking out of the palace and healing villagers in secret.

Eventually circumstances land Mikomi in a position to help rebel armies overthrow her father, the Emperor. Now, in her defense, the Emperor is a Grade A Asshole. Not only is he power hungry and ruthless, but he uses Mikomi’s healing abilities to suit his own needs by interrogating rebels. He has no respect for human life, so you know…off with his head. As Mikomi begins to aid the rebels in healings, she also insists upon being trained in combat so that she is able to take care or herself and her loved ones. Enter: Musubi.

Now Musubi is an interesting fellow. Tall, brooding, cold, mysterious…a real prick. But a dreamy one at that! This guy is the epitome of SUH-WOON! Not only does he have a menagerie of secrets that he is hiding, but the reader just can’t help but fall in love with him. I mean come on, I’m in love with him.  The relationship between Mikomi and Musubi is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, hopeful and delicate, but actually plain confusing and aggravating. There is an OBVIOUS connection between the two, but past circumstances have made Musubi cold and closed-off from his feelings. Every time Mikomi begins to break through his walls, Musubi adds more bricks. With Katsu, Mikomi’s betrothed, added into the mix, things really start to get interesting. HELLO LOVE TRIANGLE! We begin to see Mikomi struggle to do what is expected of her, and what she wants for herself. It truly is a hard thing to witness and I can’t help but give this character major props for being such a resilient little badass. The question of the century for her is simply this: which path is the right path?

I don’t want to give too much more away, but I think that will give you guys a great idea of what to expect from this book and the one following. The world that this author creates is detailed and dangerous, and it becomes a story that you just can’t imagine putting down. I am ENRAPTURED with these characters and the ride that I am being taken on. I am in the middle of the next installment, The Grass Cutter Sword, and I can barely describe to you how this author is making my heart feel! I feel sick and elated, but mostly full of hope. I know that there is SO much more turmoil and depressing events to come, and I am preparing myself now for some heartbreak. I am so glad that this series has turned into something SO much more than I had expected. This is truly a winner for me.

Book two is going to leave you with a bit of a cliffhanger, so have number three on hand so that you can dive in right away. Trust me, you’re going to need it. Good luck readers, this one is going to make you go crazy!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, ABRAMS Kids, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen, Fiction

Plot: The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.

Opinion:

Hookers, suicide, and skimmingoh my!

Along the Indigo: A tale so doused in grittiness, it almost feels lighthearted.

A book set in present times with a town that feels stuck in the 1800’s. There is romance, there is death, and you can bet your bottom dollar there is a whole lot of detail just DRIPPING in “oh yikes”. It might just be the most depressing book that will make you weirdly happy and overjoyed.

Emotionally confused? Perfect, you’ll fit right in here.

Sixteen-year-old Marsden wants nothing more than to leave her cursed town, Glory, and to start a new life with her little sister Wynn. Living in a boarding house that provides extra services to “Johns”, Marsden works as a cook in the kitchens while her mother serves as one of the prostitutes. Now that Marsden is getting older, the boarding house owner (Nina) is taking an interest in Marsden and trying to recruit her to become one of her “girls”. But Marsden only wants to get out of Glory, and the only way she can do that is by skimming. Down from the boarding house lies the covert, a piece of land that is believed to be cursed after her great-great-grandfather murdered his family before pulling the gun on himself. Now the covert is a place the locals go to commit suicide, and Marsden and her family are looked upon by the residents of Glory as lepers. Marsden walks the covert every morning in search of bodies, and upon finding one, she will take whatever money she can find before reporting the body. But the newest body she comes across is the brother of one of her classmates, who shows up at Marsden’s door one day with an interesting request.

Weirded out by that description? Good! I assure you, this is a strange story and I don’t blame you for thinking wtf. Maybe I’m just a creepy little woman-child, but I live for these abnormal stories. So when I saw this on Netgalley I thought this book looks like a winner, and low and behold, I was right as usual. Although I am seeing mixed reviews on it because some readers can’t get past that little ol’ “prostitute” thing, and I wrote prostitute as “prostitute” because come on guys…she’s just a prostitute. I am here to calm your sensitive nerves to tell you this, there is a YA/Teen story okay? You won’t be getting any graphic prostitute moments, I promise. These are nice prostitutes. Some of the best, I’m sure.

anyways

This story really isn’t as bizarre as it sounds. To be completely honest, it’s one of the best stand-alone stories I have read in a LONG TIME. It’s different, it’s dark, but it’s lined with a sunshiny innocence that makes it feel…normal? Yes, normal. Elsie Chapman has a gift, and that gift is that she can make weird ass s**t seem completely casual. My first impression about a chapter or two into Along the Indigo, was that it felt as if it as written YEARS ago. Though it is set in present times, I couldn’t help but imagine Marsden in a ratty white dress living in a house full of women in corsets and bustle skirts. I loved that I got this impression though because it made the grittiness of the events so much more sinful. I kept picturing an old ghost town with a crooked sheriff and handsy old drunk men stumbling out of the local saloon. If that’s too inconceivable, think To Kill A Mockingbird…that actually makes more sense.

Marsden Eldridge is the main character, and MY OH MY has that girl had a rough life. Not only does everyone (including her own family) think that the covert and the Eldridge family is cursed, but they are also treated like they don’t exist. Nobody in town will hire them, which is why Marsden’s mother works as a prostitute for Nina. Eight years prior, Marsden’s father was found in the Indigo and it was reported that he drowned on his way home from gambling one night. Now Marsden’s only goal is to save enough money to get her and her sister Wynn out of Glory, in hopes that they can start fresh. Skimming bodies is how Mars makes most of her money, and it is a task she has been doing for years. It is a truly dark and heartbreaking thing to witness through the eyes of Mars, and you can’t help but still love her…even though she’s stealing money from dead bodies.

One of the newest bodies that Mars comes across is a young man named Rigby, who is the older brother of one of her classmates, Jude. After his death, Jude shows up at the boarding house in search of Marsden with a strange request. He suspects that Rigby had buried something in the covert as a child, and he wants permission from Marsden to go into the covert to find it. Here begins a complicated friendship and romance. I adore Jude and Mars. Jude is incredibly sweet and caring towards her, and their relationship is very unique and special.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m going to stop right there. I have seen a lot of mixed feeling, on this story, but I personally loved it and couldn’t put it down. It is SUCH an interesting story with so many layers and emotions packed into it. Though so much of what happens feels crazy and abnormal, the author does a wonderful job of making sure the reader can relate to Mars and her family. If you guys have liked some of the weirder books that I have reviewed, you MUST read Along the Indigo. This story leaves you in a twisted dreamlike state that can only be described as “comparable to seeing your ex get lit on fire. Kind of sad and scary, but mostly pretty f*****g enjoyable”.

5-stars

 

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Book Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

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Amazon.com – 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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Book Review: Not My Life (Time Shifters Book #5) by Bob Kat

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~ Buy through the link below ~

Amazon.com – NOT MY LIFE: Time Shifters Book 5 (Time Shifters Romance / Time Travel) by Bob Kat


Barnesandnoble.com – Not My Life – (TimeShifters Book #5) by Bob Kat

~ Buy Books 1-4 ~

Amazon.com – CHANGE THE PAST: Time Shifters Book 1 (Time Shifters Romance / Time Travel) by Bob Kat
Barnesandnoble.com – Change The Past (Time Shifters Book #1) by Bob Kat

Amazon.com – DAY AT THE BEACH: Time Shifters 2 (Time Shifters Romance / Time Travel) by Bob Kat
Barnesandnoble.com – Day At The Beach (Time Shifters Book #2) by Bob Kat

Amazon.com – RUNAWAY LOVER: Time Shifters 3 (Time Shifters Romance / Time Travel) by Bob Kat
Barnesandnoble.com – Runaway Lover (Time Shifters Book #3) by Bob Kat

Amazon.com – FOREVER LOVE: Time Shifters 4 (Time Shifters Romance / Time Travel) by Bob Kat
Barnesandnoble.com – Forever Love (Time Shifters Book #4) by Bob Kat

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Bob Kat, for an honest review.

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Adventure/Mystery

Plot: Right place wrong time…that’s never happened before and what they don’t know could kill them.

On their way home from a trip to the Stanley Hotel in 1911, an accidental detour drops Kelly, Austin, Scott, and Zoey in 1977. They discover that their old friend, Dan Denucci has been arrested for murder. They knew him as a homeless man living under the fishing pier and making jewelry. How had this gentle old man become a killer?

He needs their help, but first they must convince him they have the power to travel through time. But can they trust him?

Opinion: Yes! We have made it to book 5 in the Time Shifters series by Bob Kat, and I am loving every minute. Our lovable gang is traveling back in time again, but this time they have personal ties. Readers get a whole new adventure to submerge themselves into, and we FINALLY get to see some sparks fly between our characters. *Sigh*…this must be what happiness feels like.

After successfully traveling back 1911 to save the life of a young girl named Emma, while traveling back to present time our young time travelers find themselves miscalculated into 1977. Scott, Kelly, Austin, and Zoey have no idea what went wrong, but soon they discover that there is someone in need of their help there too. As they learn of a serial killer being on the loose, they also catch wind that Austin’s good friend Dan had been accused of murdering his wife and newborn son. Shocked and confused, the group has no idea how such a nice man could have done such a thing. After finally making their way back to present time, Austin and Kelly find that they NEED to get to the bottom of what happened. In the hopes of proving Dan’s innocence, the four travel back in time again to 1977. This mission proves to be dangerous, and the lives of three people are at stake.

So if you guys have followed my reviews of the last four books in this series, you know that this is aimed at a younger audience. YA/Teen/Pre-Teen ages, but I think it is a great story for anyone. These books are extremely creative in how the authors have mixed the past and present, and they make sure to make some amazing references that will be sure to make you smile. The adventures that the reader takes with these characters makes reading this series MORE than enjoyable.

Speaking of the characters, my have they grown in such a short time! I think I am most pleased with the character of Zoey, who has turned into a truly warmhearted and sweet person. She started out being a very stuck-up and rude girl, and I was really having a hard time reading her snide comments and remarks. Thankfully, she is MUCH improved.  After I had finished book 4 in the series, Forever Love, I was DYING to get my hands on the next installment. The authors left me hanging in suspense about what would happen between Austin and Kelly, and it was driving me CRAZY! I am happy to say that their relationship has stepped up, but I am definitely sensing some serious roadblocks in the future. Fingers crossed that these two work out!

Maybe I’ve lost my mind a little, but I thought that this was going to be the last book in the series. Well, well, wellNOT the case. Bob Kat leaves us with yet another cliffhanger, and this one looks like it is going to be a DOOZY. I am very happy to see that this series is continuing and can’t wait for more. The only concern I had with this book was that it felt a little bit…less than the previous books. It was a bit slower and didn’t seem to have too much happening in it, which was kind of a bummer. The previous books had been much faster paced and packed with danger, so I think I was expecting more of that.

All in all, another enjoyable and pleasing installment to the Time Shifters series. As said above, this book is for all ages but is aimed at a younger audience. I have put the links to the previous books in the series if you guys haven’t started the series yet. Happy reading!

4-stars

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Book Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

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Genre: Young Adult/Teen/Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal

Plot: Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

Opinion:

This book sings to my dark and wistful little soul, and I just can’t get enough of it.

It is always so hard to find a YA story that has a little bit of everything in it. I love a story that touches on fantasy and paranormal aspects, but is packed with sorrowful pain and whispered little secrets. This story has everything I crave tucked into its beautiful pages. This story needs to be read, trust me.

For as long as they can remember, Cara and her family have been falling into unexplained accidents at a certain time of the year. Most seasons result in deep cuts and countless bruises, but some seasons end in the death of loved ones. As another accident season comes near, Cara starts to notice the disappearance of a girl from school, Elsie. When Cara begins to question her teachers and classmates about the quiet girl, nobody seems to remember her or know anything about her. But what is even stranger, is that Cara starts to notice that Elsie is in every single one of her pictures. As Cara, her sister Alice, her stepbrother Sam, and her best friend Bea begin to search for Elsie, they also start to realize that each one of them has deep and hidden secrets that they keep from one another. As the season moves forward they start to learn that the accident season isn’t all that it seems, and that their secrets are about to come forward.

This book has been compared to We Were Liars, and I definitely see a resemblance. A group of teenagers who are lost and angst-ridden, and who have countless secrets drowning them. This story follows Cara, but also her family members and her best friend. They are subjected to countless accidents during the accident season, and it keeps the reader on edge. I found it interesting that these characters take such precautions during the accident season, in that they wear protective clothing and have padded their entire home. Though Cara and her siblings are meant to be extra careful during October, the reader will still find them doing reckless things which I loved. It lets the reader know that these characters are extremely human and still seek thrills and trouble, and I found myself smirking at the ridiculous things they would do.

There are two specific elements of this story that I am infatuated with. The first being the way the author has entwined such creative fantastical and paranormal themes into the pages. The entire book has a dark and spooky theme, which makes it a perfect read for around the Halloween season. These characters are constantly running into each other’s imaginations, where they get lost in magic and beasts. Cara has visions of seeing the four of them looking as they truly should: Bea as a mermaid, Alice as the Earth, Sam as character from a silent film, and herself as a fairy. Bea sees herself as a witch and looks to her tarot cards for answers, and speaks of ghosts and witches and werewolves. These aspects of the story gives the actual events that happen a dreamlike feel for the reader, almost as if to say “Is what you think is real, actually happening? Or is it all in your imagination?” Can you say WOAH?

The second thing that I adore about this book is how the author has played with secrets. Instead of it being known from the beginning that these characters are keeping secrets, the idea of secrets is presented to the reader in a poetic way. At their school, there is a typewriter and a box where students may come and type secrets anonymously. At the end of the year, these secrets are strung up on clotheslines around the school, for everyone to see and share. The author throws the idea of secrets into the readers face so quickly, that they become blinded by the fact that the main characters will have severe secrets of their own that they are hiding. All I kept thinking about was WHY the accident season was happening and WHO Elise was.

Although some things were not fully answered in black in white in this story, I think it is one of those reads that can be left for interpretation. I was pleasantly blindsided by a HUGE secret that came forward at the end of this read. In NO WAY did I see that coming, and I am so happy that this author could shock me in such a way! All in all, I am in love with this book. These characters felt real and flawed, almost as if they were real kids that I had spent time with. The imagination and poetic nature of the story is what pulled me in and kept me reading, and I had SO much trouble putting this story down. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants a DIFFERENT YA story that will get them thinking. This is definitely going to be a book that I reread for years.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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

Genre: Teen/YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was murdered in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives, and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

Opinion:

AHHHHH! THIS book! THIS FREAKING BOOK!

You are probably thinking to yourself Wow, WHAT about this book. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK! I have been searching high and low for a specific genre of story to read for WEEKS now. A story that will make my heart hurt and my stomach flip due to eloquent and depressing sentences. You know the kind of story I am talking about. The sort of tale that doesn’t just make you sorrowful, but a story that makes you MAKE yourself sorrowful because you don’t want to stop feeling what the characters feel.

Well, this story comes pretty close to that.

Call it a gift or a curse, but ever since Ivy was a child she knew when the people around her were going to die. The ability to see a countdown of each person’s remaining time over their heads has proved to be most difficult for Ivy, especially when her own death has been approaching quickly over the past few months. After the murder of her best friend, Ivy falls into a downward spiral as she realizes that she can’t save the people she loves. But the need to find out the truth about what happened begins to consume her, and soon Ivy finds herself on the trail to figuring out who the murderer is. As Ivy’s last weeks begin to draw near, she fights to live her final days instead of just watching them tick by.

I can’t express enough how much I loved the concept for this story. Ivy is forced to watch the people around her die as their life clock comes to an end, while feeling helpless the entire time because she has no way to save them. I felt like I had a truly strong connection to this character. She is a loner at school and made to feel like an outcast because of events from her past, but she has a snarky attitude and is quick to fire off amazing zingers. When first introduced to Ivy, the reader quickly learns that there is a sense that she has already given up in life. With the death of her best friend being so recent and her own clock only being a few months before ending, Ivy has an overwhelming sense of despair and sorrow engulfing her. She has nobody close to her that she can talk to, and her family is very distant and wrapped up in their own lives.

As the story progresses, Ivy starts to become obsessed with finding out who killed her friend and why. In regards to the mystery aspect of this story, I was pretty surprised to figure out who it was. I had about one or two main suspects that I thought had definitely done it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong. The point where this story starts to get truly heart wrenching, apart from the already depressing events, is when the reader learns about Myers. Myers is the ex-boyfriend of Ivy, and let’s just say that relationship ended horribly on a night when everything else shattered Ivy’s world. I found that this author EXCELS when she is describing a sorrowful or dark moment. Not many authors know how to capture a feeling in words, and I thought Kelsey Sutton did a great job of it. This story is riddled with amazing descriptions of sadness and regret, and I adored every single minute of it.

Even after he’s gone I let my fingers linger on the glass, until the cold creeps under my skin and into my bones. Maybe if it goes deep enough, it will numb everything.

As numb as death.”

-Ivy

Overall, this was a TRULY wonderful read. I was hooked the entire time and felt connected to the characters and the story throughout the read. I am excited to see what else this author has done. If her writing is as good as this in all of her stories, then she is going to become a favorite of mine quickly. I recommend his to all ages, but primarily Teen and YA readers. It has a strong message of finding acceptance and living your life to the fullest, which I think anyone can relate to.

4-5-stars

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