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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: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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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: YA/Teen, Fiction, Fantasy

Plot: Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Opinion:

Witch hunts, romance, drownings, and the ever-lovely rocks being tied to boots to make 3 women sink to the bottom of the ocean; this one’s a doozy.

For my fellow spell casting witches and wizards, I bring you The Wicked Deep.

Every Summer in the town of Sparrow, death marks the waters. Multiple young men are found drowned in the ocean, without any sign of a struggle or foul play. But the residents and tourists of Sparrow are never shocked, because they celebrate this time of year as part of their towns history. As the legend goes, the three Swan sisters (Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel) traveled to Sparrow by boat in 1822 and started a perfume shop. Quickly, the local men started to take interest in the sisters due to their intoxicating beauty and allure. But soon the three sisters were accused of being witches and casting spells on the men of Sparrow. So, the three were taken on a boat with rocks tied to their boots and thrown into the ocean where they drowned. Now in present times, Penny Talbot fears the coming of the new “Swan Season”. Her mothers condition has worsened due to the disappearance of her father 3 years earlier, and Penny only hopes that the deaths stop in Sparrow. But with the arrival of a boy named Bo, this Summer proves to be something else entirely.

Guys, this book is WILD! It has an even pace throughout and it kept me CRAZY interested the entire time, but the best part is the twist that Shea Ernshaw throws in! I will admit that I suspected at least part of what happened, but this author took it a step further and left me more than a little shocked.  The entire idea of this story feels very HOCUS POCUS, but with a style all its own. We’re talking some SCI-FI/Fantasy stuff here guys, and I am loving it! I also want to say that there is a bit of a mystery going on here that the reader gets to participate in. Are the legends true? If they aren’t, then why are girls randomly drowning boys? If they are true, how is that even possible?!

Penny Talbot is a tough character for me to give an opinion on, and after reading this story, you will understand why. From what I have gathered of her, she is a calculated and careful young girl. She is compassionate towards her mother and the state that she has left herself in, but she still has dreams to leave Sparrow. I really liked the character of Bo as well. He has a dark aura of mystery floating around him for a while, but he slowly starts to shed that as he gets to know Penny. Their relationship is…*sigh*…so complicated. It is incredibly hard to elaborate with out spilling the beans of the masterpiece that is this story. So trust me when I say, this romance is a heavy one.

The author made sure to keep my head going in multiple directions as I tried to figure out just WHAT THE HELL was going on in this town of Sparrow. It was so eerie yet entertaining to see all of these teenager’s party down at the beach as the Swan Season began, bating and teasing the girls to go into the water to be inhabited by a sister. This made me assume that most of the locals didn’t believe in the legend…but then. The witch hunt begins. These kids are INSANE. They accuse each other of being a swan sister and for drowning a boy, and then they hold each other captive. What’s worse is that the local police don’t do anything. That’s BIZARRE! I also liked that Penny and her mother lived on a separate section of Sparrow. At first, I was picturing a beautiful mountain range and cliffs with an inviting private dock, but then I was picturing a dark and scary setting straight out of Frankenstein.

I don’t want to give anything away because that would ruin the entire story, but I MUST express my distaste for that ending. It was an ending that we have all come to as readers, one that screams “I had no idea how to wrap this story up”. How Penny and Bo end up is just bizarre to me, but I guess to Penny it wouldn’t be considering the circumstances (I know this is painfully cryptic, I apologize). Regardless…the ending feels like a lie, and I loathe it. Also, these are teenagers. I know Penny’s mother is a little out of it since her father left, but honestly. Where is she every time Bo and Penny start hooking up?! Her senses are obviously off…

Apart from the ending, I loved this story. I thought the story line and the characters were riveting, the flashbacks to parts of the Swan Sisters time in Sparrow gave great insight, and the dark and eerie foreboding the author kept up during the read kept me slightly creeped out (in a good way). I love when a story keeps me guessing and questioning what I think will happen. Though some things were explained a bit too late, I was still able to keep up and enjoy every moment. I am definitely going to keep this author on my radar, especially if she keeps with this witchy theme!

4-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: 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: 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: 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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Book Review: Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

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Genre: YA/Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Plot: Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny.

Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.

But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

Opinion:

Picture it my darlings: The palace of Versailles, gold trimmed everything, corsets and coattails, jewels upon diamonds, frivolous spending, a cutthroat society and cakes that would make THE Marie Antoinette weep with longing! *Sigh* cinched waists, social climbing and overly-priced deaths?! What more could we ask for!

Now if that doesn’t make you twiddle your fingers with delight, then maybe this will! This little gem is set in modern times, but the inhabitants of the palace of Versailles keep tradition. Their fashions, politics, and dialect haven’t changed a bit…except they make have toned the French down a bit in exchange for English. This, my dear readers, is something like you have NEVER read before.

Danica Grayson is trying to buy her way out of Versailles, in the hopes that she won’t be forced to become Queen. Though becoming Queen is a dream for most of the Lady’s residing in Versailles, for Danica, it’s her biggest nightmare. After Danica accidentally witnesses the King murder a young women, her mother blackmails the King into making Danica his betrothed.  Now with only months to escape the palace, Danica must find a way to raise 5 million Euros to buy her way out forever. But how? After discovering that her father has a nasty addiction to a street drug that comes in the form of patches, Danica comes up with a brilliant idea and gets herself in touch with his supplier. The drug is called Glitter, and Danica plans to sell it to everyone in the palace of Versailles, in a new cosmetics line. With this highly addictive drug made into shimmering face creams and lip balms, the extravagant women of Versailles begin to spend everything they have in order to be in trend with the fashions and get their fix. But the King is smarter than he looks, and Danica is about to realize that the game she is playing make cost a life or two. She must decide if it really is worth it, to leave the palace of Versailles forever.

“With both of us in our finery and my arm on his, we appear to be a blissful couple headed off to a night of feverish revels—not a jailer escorting his prisoner to her cell in the first blush of sunrise.

THIS BOOK. IS. AMAZING.

Though this is placed in the palace of Versailles, and has some SERIOUS Marie Antionette-ness all over it, this story is truly something new and exciting. I found myself becoming truly enraptured with the world that Aprilynne Pike submerges the reader in, a world that holds both past and present times. Danica lives in Sonoman-Versailles, where the fashions and lingo mirror that of 18th-century France. But outside of Sonoman-Versailles, the world is very much like the one we live in. People where jeans and hoodies, they have cell phones, and they certainly do NOT have Kings and Queens. The meshing of these two worlds is truly something else, but I enjoyed that most of this story takes place in the palace. The fashions and politics displayed in Versailles are done beautifully by the author, and she even ensures to give the characters a very proper and distinct way of speaking to differentiate them from the rest of the world. I fell in love with the world that Danica was living in, even the horrors of it.

“Not something a gentlemen of breeding would ever do. Strangle a woman half his size during their amorous tryst? Yes. Crush her dress in public? Never.”

Danica was VERY interesting for me, because I still feel as if I don’t quite know her. At first her character seemed much smarter than all the riffraff that inhabits the palace, but at other times she seems just as ignorant. One moment I find her having a very mature and educated outlook on the world, and the next moment she is just as materialistic as the rest of women sauntering around the palace. That aside, I can’t help but adore her ferocity. This girl can be downright cold and calculated, and I…absolutely LOVE her for it. She can make cutthroat decisions and live with them, even if they tear her up a little inside. Though when it comes to a certain death, I am baffled at how tame her reaction is. I was expecting her character to have more human feeling than just crying a bit and moving on! She’s supposed to be the good one!

This story is ripping at the seams with manipulation and calculated moves. There are so many ruthless and deviant players that are working against Danica, even herself. The women of the palace are just as you would expect them to be, crawling over each other for the smallest crumb of extra acknowledgement or a chance at a higher social standing. But the biggest player of them all in this tale, is the king. The reader finds out early on that Justin (the king) is an atrocious and vile young man. He is arrogant, selfish, and is not above murder and scandal. His character DOES have a few moments of being…less horrible, which I find myself FASCINATED with! I have a hunch that he might turn a new leaf, maybe become somewhat less of an ass? Maybe not. But the fact that Danica is noticing these small moments as well makes you wonder…

“When one is dining with the devil himself,” I mutter, “a vast amount of preparation is in order.”

Glitter is one of those stories that entices you with a gorgeous cover and begs to be read. It snatches your attention and refuses to let it go, leaving you craving more and more…just like Danica’s cosmetics. I HIGHLY recommend that you guys purchase this book TODAY! Not only did it pull me out of my reading slump, it left me with a bit of a book hangover (which I am okay with). Gowns, games and glitter! You don’t need much else!

4-5-stars

 

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