Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Throne by Samantha Whiskey - Review

Disclaimer: This is a scorching hot forbidden romance that involves one bad-boy Prince, an untouched Duchess, and the sparks that are hot enough to ruin them both.

You know what you can have when you’re a Prince?
Anything you want—anyone you want.
Except her.

Charlotte Carlisle is the only woman I’ve ever loved and never touched—because lusting after your brother’s future queen is frowned upon. It never mattered that their betrothal was a political move made by our parents, that they didn’t love each other—she was completely off limits to everything but my constant fantasies. And I’ve spent the last decade pushing her away, desperate to save my sanity.

Now that my brother abdicated the throne for his true love and left me holding the crown, the one woman I’ve always wanted is the same person enlisted to help me choose my future Queen.
Thirty-six gorgeous debutantes are vying for the position, but Charlotte’s it. The only woman I’ll accept, and the only woman who refuses the offer. Constantly.

I’ve got four weeks to marry to solidify my claim to the throne, or my country will descend into chaos. The anti-monarchists are waiting for me to slip, and with over a thousand years of Wyndham tradition running through my veins, I can’t afford to fail.

But to win Charlotte, I’ve got to give her the one thing she’s never had: A choice.

And her decision could burn us all.

---------------------------- Amazon, Goodreads ----------------------------

The Throne is a great follow up to The Crown

I loved Jameson and Xander's relationship in the first book but getting inside Jameson's head was a unique and great experience. He is such a different animal than his brother, but the way he takes on his new responsibilities and the desire he has to protect the ones he loves is commendable and heartwarming. 

While I enjoyed the tensions surrounding his need to find a wife, and liked that he was so set on trying to be happy and winning over the woman he loves, I thought that Charlotte's denial and blindness lasted slightly too long. For such an astute, headstrong woman, it seemed slightly unrealistic that she wouldn't see Jameson's plan from a mile away. That being said, their chemistry is off the charts, as is their banter, and I loved seeing where the next page was going to take them.

While the book ends on a sort of cliffhanger, the story arc between Charlotte and Jameson comes to a nice conclusion. I'm assuming there's a Book 3 and I can't wait!
** I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

Samantha Whiskey is a wife, mom, lover of her dogs and romance novels. No stranger to hockey, hot alpha males, and a high dose of awkwardness, she tucks herself away to write books her PTA will never know about.

To keep up to date with her latest sexy little reads, join her mailing list! 

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review


"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.


Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.

---------------------------- Amazon, B&N, Goodreads ----------------------------

Everything is picking up in Amanda Bouchet's fantastic world so get ready! I also have my former job to thank for this copy of the book.

So we return to Cat and Griffin as they try to figure out how they are going to save the world. I loved how much Cat has changed since the first book, how she's opened her heart to not only Griffin but his family and her new friends. With this growing family, however, comes fear and doubt about Cat's choices, for now she has something to lose. I loved seeing her development, seeing her realize that the reasons she fights (and has fought) isn't out of selfishness but rather her ability to love and care. She is such a strong, complex character (and that's not even counting her magical abilities) and it's great to watch her grow as she conquers these huge obstacles.

You get a larger sense of the world in Breath of Fire, traveling through Fisa and the Ice Plains and meeting more magical creatures, such as the centaur-like Ipotane. The Greek gods also come into play, revealing more about Cat's destiny but also adding great characters to the story. The action is ramping up and the political tensions are on the rise.

The intricacies of the world and magic system becomes more developed, as does Cat's relationship with Griffin. Their chemistry is still amazing, but even more than that they are learning more and more about each other and becoming amazing supporters of one another. They are both so intelligent and brave and the way they not only match each other but push each other makes for a great romance and relationship in an already great fantasy world.

While readers may get a sense that this book is set up for the finale, it is still a unique part of the series that stands firmly on its own. I liked the expansion of the world and Cat's character. You learn so much more about what is in store for Cat. Her relationship with Griffin, his family, and her team also develops so much in this book. Sequels can sometimes lag, but not this one  - it is filled with the same snark and romance and even more action and magic.

And the last book is out next month, so you don't have to wait too long to know what will happen!

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!


Monday, December 4, 2017

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden - Review

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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Hey guys! Long time no see. Today I have a review for The Girl in the Tower, the sequel to one of my favorite books I read in 2017, The Bear and the Nightingale (you can read my review here!). 

The Girl in the Tower starts shortly after The Bear and the Nightingale, though the focus is very much on Vasya as a young woman and what she wants out of life rather than the story behind her gifts of seeing spirits, which is a large part of the first book. Here we really get to see her take charge of her destiny after the traumatic events of her past.

One of the most interesting things about this book is how different Vasya is from the first, and how much she changes even in this story. She is more sure of her abilities and isn't afraid to use them to protect her siblings and those she loves (even when sometimes those people may not it). Vasya spends much of this book disguised as a boy and the freedom and confidence it gives her makes an interesting commentary about the social constructs of the time, especially since what makes Vasya rebel and run away in the first place is the idea of the convent or marriage. 

If I'm being honest, I personally liked the setting and environment in the first book a little better than in this book. The eeriness of the forest and the bitter cold and Vasya's home was a more unique setting than Moscow, at least for me. That being said, the vastly different setting makes for a really fresh story with so many new details. The cast expands with great secondary characters, all orbiting Vasya as she navigates the new world of court life and her place within it, as a woman, a sister, and a witch. I thought that sometimes the plot lagged a little but Vasya is a strong enough character to quickly pull me through. I was also put on an emotional rollercoaster with Vasya and Morozco *swoon*. In the end I really liked the way their relationship grew but I can not wait until the last book to see what's going to happen. 

The dangers being slightly more human in nature, though no less threatening. Seeing how Vasya takes them all head on, despite the doubts and limitations placed on her by society, is exciting and inspiring. I highly recommend this series if you liked The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. The writing is dark and lyrical, the world more like a vibrant Russian fairy tale. Much like a Russian winter, Vasya's story is unpredictable and dangerous but also beautiful and magical. 
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Random House/Ballantine! **
Find out more about Katherine and her book here: http://www.katherinearden.com

Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to guiding horse trips. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

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Phew guys. This review has been a long time coming. I'm not sure what took me so long, other than the fact that it's hard to think of words when you love something so much? But anyway, here is me trying to explain why love this series so much and why you should go out and read it immediately. I'm posting the review for each of the three books each month until January 2, when the third and final book releases (so you have plenty of time to binge the other two). 

I managed to snag an advanced copy of this book at work right before Thanksgiving, and then proceeded to finish it during the ride to my grandma's house, after dinner, and the ride home. It follows Cat, a feisty, sarcastic, head-strong young woman who is hiding from her past. After meeting Griffin, the newly crowned leader of a neighboring land, everything changes. 

The magic system in the world is great. It plays off of Greek mythology and yet has a really refreshing and unique feel to it. While the gods meddle and still have a sway over people's actions and beliefs, other elemental powers come into play with the Magoi (those who can use magic) and the Hoi Polloi (those without). So already you have those tensions, not to mention the politics, and the rising tensions between what Cat is running from and what she ends up running toward. 

Griffin's kingdom and the land of Sinta is so vibrant and interesting. And then there's Griffin, who is just as stubborn and headstrong and amazing as Cat. I thought their banter and relationship was hilarious and touching and very genuine. Their dialogue and the growth in their relationship was a joy to read and while there are sparks and hints throughout, I loved the way they changed throughout the story. 

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that fans of Throne of Glass will absolutely love this book. While the world is completely different and original, Cat is such a great female character with a hidden past and a destiny that isn't all her own. Along with Griffin, there is an amazing cast of characters that all have their backstories and personalities, helping create a well-developed, complex, vibrant world. Full of action, magic, and romance, Promise of Fire is a stellar debut and a fantastic start to the series. 

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!


Monday, September 18, 2017

Royal Attraction by Tiffany Truitt - Release Day Review

Alexandra Ryans’s life has been anything but normal. Some might even call it a fairy tale. As the daughter of the former U.S. ambassador to England, she grew up within the palace walls, best friends with the three young princes. Adored by the press and the British people. What more could a girl want?

If only the press knew the real story behind her relationships with the Dudley boys. Then, they’d really sell some papers.

Oliver Dudley, youngest son and third in line for the throne, loves everything about his life. The fame. The parties. The women. The utter lack of expectations and responsibilities that come with being last in the line of succession. But while the world thinks he has everything he wants, there's one thing he was never able to call his own—the beautiful and spunky American Aly Ryans. But how can he convince her when she hates everything about his life? And what is he willing to give up to get her?

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Royal Attraction is the perfect book for someone who loves royal romances but is looking for something a little different. Alexandra's relationship with the Dudley brothers is a really different take on the traditional tropes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Let's start with Alex. I loved her character, mostly because she is incredibly flawed. She is haunted by her past mistakes and feels inadequate not because of her looks or anything but because she has a learning disability and I really appreciated that part of her. I liked the solace and friendship she has with the male characters in this story, like if they were the boys next door - except they are princes. The voice is hilarious and fraught with doubts and I enjoyed getting a look inside her mind.

Then there's Ollie. Oh, how I love Ollie. I love him more because he is like the boy next door, her best friend, and a prince, all in one. The way that he is portrayed as the playboy but not in a super vulgar way is refreshing. I liked that he struggles with the pressure of being a prince and being the younger brother, and why he does the things he does. I liked that the fact that he is a prince is also not really the main point, but rather a part of his internal and external conflicts. It's more focused on young adults coming-of-age than anything, with the added pressure of royal obligations.

This story is all about relationships, romantic or otherwise, and I thought they were all incredibly well-developed and adorable and great. The flashbacks to when they were children, then teenagers, did a lot to build upon a familial relationship that you immediately believe once Alex reunites with the Dudley brothers. The way the characters grow in the flashbacks, and then the way they grow in the present, is fantastic, and I think adds a depth that is sometimes lacking in other royal romance stories. You are really invested in these character's pasts and growth and friendships and just want them all to be happy.

Royal Attraction was an incredibly refreshing, romantic, hilarious story, with well-developed and believable characters that I fell in love with.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Learn more about the author and her books here: https://www.facebook.com/authortiffanytruitt/

Tiffany Truitt lives with her Netflix and junk food in Virginia. She is a graduate from Longwood University with a Masters in Literature from Old Dominion University. Previously she has worked in the realm of Young Adult literature having written The Lost Souls Series, Because You Exist, and The Language of Silence.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken - Release Day Review

Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…

No fraternizing with the players.

Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.

Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.

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Fraternize is a great combination of a lot of things readers look for in romance  - love lost, love triangles, sassy female heroines, sports, and sexy times. However, it is unique in so many ways that it was a new and great reading experience, a refreshing new take on a sports romance!

I loved Emerson, and that she was insecure about her body but continued to pursue her passions until she made her dream come true. Despite these insecurities, she is such a sassy and strong female character. She is constantly battling between what happened in her past and what she wants for the future, and I thoroughly enjoyed following her on her journey. I thought that it approached Emerson's insecurities in a realistic way and I personally enjoyed that nutrition and realistic body image was a main part of the story. 

The real star of this book, what makes it great and makes it different, is the way the love triangle functions. Miller is Em's past love and she's never forgotten him, much like he's never forgotten her. They love each other as much as they hate each other, from things left unsaid, but the flashbacks of their relationship in high school are fan-tas-tic. I loved them so much (they are so cute, you guys). On the other hand, Sanchez is a completely different animal than Miller, and I loved, loved, loved the way he and the older Emerson interact. They become friends first, but friends in a different way than you do when you are a teenager, and I never thought that they book would take the path it did. The way all the relationships in this book develop, between Em and Sanchez, Em and Miller, and Miller and Sanchez, are all great and really make this book unique and special.

The chemistry is off the charts. The dialogue is hilarious and heartbreaking. And the characters will never cease to surprise you as they figure out what truly matters. A fun, unique sports romance.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Check out more about Rachel Van Dyken and her books here: http://rachelvandykenauthor.com

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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So I went to ComicCon International in San Diego in July and rushed to the Simon & Schuster booth to ask about this book (because faeries, duh) but I wasn't able to attend the day they were giving them away. HOWEVER, the awesome people there told me to email them and very kindly sent me a copy!

An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a gifted painter in a world where the powerful, i.e. the Fae, are unable to actually create things. The people in the town of Whimsy use their Craft to create things of beauty that the Fae from the World Beyond want, mostly to appease their vanity. When Isobel's gift reveals weaknesses in powerful Fae, including the Autumn Prince, Rook, she is taken into the World Beyond to face punishment. However, the Faery world is in chaos, and a little bit of humanity might be exactly what they need. 

I had such high expectations of this book, and in most ways it met them. I love the ethereal yet dark style that books about Fae usually have. The world that Margaret Rogerson has created has all that - a town on the border of magic that only experiences summer, beautiful and yet incredibly cruel creatures that come out of the forest to buy (and trick) humans into giving them what they want. Names and words mean everything and Isobel is incredibly adept at keeping herself and her family safe. I loved the idea of Craft, that things of beauty can only be made by people who can experience the full spectrum of feeling and emotion (which, arguably, most Fae cannot), that humans and these mythical creatures are inevitably tied together somehow. I liked Isobel and thought she was so intelligent and cunning and resourceful. I liked the development of Rook as he realizes that the thing that makes Isobel such a good artist (her ability to understand people) isn't a weakness, but something beautiful. 

There were also some things that didn't meet my expectations. I wished there to be more development between Isobel and Rook. While I was on board for their interactions and thought that the progression of their relationship made sense, I was left feeling like there could have been more depth and nuance to their changing feelings, especially considering the end. That being said, their chemistry was believable and you are rooting for them almost from the beginning. I also felt there was a strange balance of action and world building. I thought that the world was well developed and unique and that Isobel and Rook's journey had some great action scenes. However, a good part of the story also happens in the Faery court and it felt a little laggy to me. There were parts I liked there, such as going back to Craft and the price of immortality, and seeing Isobel become really strategic, but the story lost my attention at times. 

Overall, I loved the world and characters that Margaret Rogerson has created. I have been waiting for a haunting and lovely Fae story for a while and this totally met that need. I think the real strength of the story is Isobel (and Margaret's) experience with creation and art and the important place it has for people. An Enchantment of Ravens is a floaty and romantic story, with a resourceful, headstrong artist unafraid to use her passion for painting to save her family and the world she loves (no matter how messed up it may be). 

** I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks S&S! **
Check out more about Margaret Rogerson here: http://www.margaretrogerson.com

Margaret Rogerson has worked a variety of jobs ranging from canoe livery counter girl to graphic designer. She has a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing, she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio. An Enchantment of Ravens is her debut novel. 

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Taran Wird, who commands the power to wield fire and lightning, is an oddity in the supernatural world. But neither Taran nor her unique sisters compare to the bizarre entity known as Destiny. And Taran is assigned to protect her.

Born of two witches, Destiny is revered among the supernatural elite for her acute ability to predict the future. Her biggest prophecy involves Taran’s sister, Celia, whom Destiny decreed will bear children strong enough to take on the evil that’s rising. Yet Destiny is not alone in her predictions, or individuality.

When Johnny Fate, a rock star among humans and a male version of Destiny is discovered, his powers and Destiny’s clash, triggering the start of Destiny’s demise and altering the fate of Celia’s unborn children.

Taran, her werewolf lover Gemini, and their allies must determine if it’s Fate who will decide what will become of Celia’s children, or if their lives and the world will perish with Destiny.

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Of Flame and Fate is 8th book in the Weird Girls series and the 3rd book focusing on Taran. It follows Taran Wird as she and her sisters try to protect their sister Celia and the world from impending magical doom (dun dun DUUUUNNNN). 

The strength of the whole series and Taran's books in particular is her voice. Sassy and hilarious, Taran makes for a great narrator. She is so focused on her mission of protecting her sister and in turn, saving the world. The stakes are raised in this book, and Taran's tone and her determination parallels the rising tensions among the supernatural community as things spiral out of control. Through it all, though, is Taran and Gemini's relationship. Sweet, supportive, and always amusing (because their personalities are polar opposites), it is the guiding light in a world of crazy. 

Cecy has set the groundwork for a complex supernatural world and conflict. With Fate and Destiny at odds (literally, as people with strong personalities to boot), the lore is deep and is only building with each book. As more and more is revealed, not only about Celia but about all the Wird sisters, readers can get more and more excited about where the story is going to go (and what the future holds, no matter which sister is your favorite!). 

The book starts off with an action packed battle scene, and while I think they are well written and pull you in immediately to not only the conflict but also Taran's personality, I wish there were a few more intimate moments between Taran and her sisters (and Gemini, though those aren't really lacking) and less non-stop running around. I liked the fact that more is revealed in this book, though I kind of wished that it was revealed more throughout, rather than a lot of it towards the end. It would have tied the story together a little bit between the fight scenes and the ensuing chaos. While I love this series, Celia is still my favorite, and I found myself skimming over some of the fight scenes and not missing any crucial information to look for the presence of the other Wird girls. 

Overall, Of Flame and Fate is a romping, action-packed, romantic story of Taran and her sisters. You have the read Taran's other books, Of Flame and Promise and Of Flame and Light to understand literally anything in this book. My review for Of Flame and Promise is here. I also highly recommend reading the first five books in the series that star Celia, Taran's sister! If you are looking for a well-written, exciting, humor-filled paranormal novel for the fall, this series and this book is just the ticket. 
** I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review **
Find out more about Cecy Robson and her books here: http://www.cecyrobson.com

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is the new adult and contemporary romance author of the Shattered Past series, the O’Brien Family novels and new Carolina Beach series, as well as the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A 2016 double nominated RITA® finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, Cecy is a recovering Jersey girl living in the South who enjoys carbs way too much, and exercise way too little. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, you can typically find her on her laptop silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kennealy - Review

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

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I am so happy that I got to review Miranda Kenneally's newest Hundred Oaks installment, Coming Up for Air. I love the whole series, one of my favorite books of all time being Breathe, Annie, Breathe (haven't read it? WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GO GET IT!), but Coming Up for Air rose to a solid second. 

Coming Up for Air has all the things one would expect from Miranda: hilarious characters and situations and swoon worthy love interests combined with truly touching conflicts that come with growing up and trying to define yourself and what you want. 

Maggie is such a great character but I really enjoyed how close she is to her group of friends. They all work to bring out characteristics in one another that make all of them more developed, complex, and believable. I thought the dialogue and action between them was so organic and entertaining it was like watching a movie (a really good one). After visiting Cal (Wat up alma mater! GO BEARS!) as an incoming freshmen athlete, she realizes that she isn't as experienced with boys as she thinks she should be. When she comes back, she asks her best friend, Levi, to help her get more comfortable hooking up with guys. Then all the fun stuff starts. What could go wrong, right?

As always, Maggie's story is the perfect combination between rom-com hilarity and very real, very believable coming-of-age struggles. I thought that the friendship between Maggie and Levi was wonderful and organic and that the romance between all the characters and their various interests so accurately describes any and all forms of romance and infatuation found in high school and college. Maggie's relationship with Levi (and Hunter and Georgia) is so open and nonjudgemental (they remind me a lot of Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door!).  The whole idea of "hookups" has been prevalent in so many young adult and new adult novels, but I truly thing that Coming Up for Air is a really great example of exploring the idea in such a way that is respectful and completely believable. I liked that these are semi-professional kids that still flounder around teenage issues. I liked that they are all making mistakes and kind of have no idea what they are doing but are still able to learn from them and laugh about it. I like the range of familial and platonic relationships, from the ideal parents, to the not so ideal, to split families. I LOVED that she talks about casual (safe) sex, the worry around being inexperienced, and high school students being sexually active in various ways. Her characters make as many mistakes as they do good choices and the balance is fantastic. 

Maggie's battle with her own self worth as an athlete and her doubts about what she has and hasn't experienced because of this ambition is a great center to a story of a young woman trying to figure out what's important to her, as both an aspiring Olympian and as a young woman. She must learn to not compare her own accomplishments to others, to be comfortable with change, and to stand up for herself and what she wants. The sports aspect, as usual, is a wonderful frame to a fantastic and dynamic cast of characters, hilarious writing, and swoon-worthy romance. It can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend all of Miranda's books. 
* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Find out more about Miranda and her books here: http://mirandakenneally.com

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Find her on Twitter!

Look at this cute comic of all the amazing female protagonists in the Hundred Oaks series! LOOK AT IT!
Happy Reading!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm Not With the Band by Amber Garza - Review

I like Kassidy Milton. There, I said it. She’s funny, beautiful—even though she doesn’t know it—and my favorite kind of weird. But I can’t tell if she’s into me or just trying to get close to me for a chance with my famous twin brother instead. I mean, it has to be me. I am the better-looking one.

But Kassidy has some demons, and she’s not good at letting people in. That happens when you’ve been hurt by someone close to you. I can relate. Trust is a funny thing; it’s hard to gain but easy to lose. I might just learn that the hard way.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book includes a snarky heroine, a swoon-worthy hero, crazy best friends, your favorite music, and lots of feels.

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I'm Not in the Band is an adorable story of two teenagers battling their insecurities by relying on their friendship and romantic chemistry. I liked Kassidy and as a person with anxiety, I thought that the character was well written. The reasons she does (or doesn't) do the things she does and responds the way she does, is authentic and really adds to the character.

Sometimes is hard for me to really get into books with dual POVs, especially ones with different genders. However, I think that I'm Not in the Band did a great job of having two very distinct, interesting voices and characters and I loved Archer's sections as much if not more that Kassidy's. 

Archer and Kassidy's relationship, despite starting with a cliche bump in at a concert, develops in a relatively believable way, and the conflicts and insecurities brought to the forefront for both of them make sense and add to the character development. Sometimes I felt that Kassidy's character fell a little flat and was sometimes a little inconsistent. However, her development throughout the story, and Archer's place in really pushing that development, really drives the story. Archer's band of friends also really work to push the story forward and add a lot of voice and humor, making for a funny, sweet, romantic summer read. 
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

Find out more about Amber and her books here: https://ambergarza.wordpress.com

Amber Garza currently lives in California with her amazing husband, and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Amber loves to connect with her readers. You can visit her at ambergarza.com, or find her on Instagram and Facebook as ambergarzaauthor, or on twitter @ambermg1.

Happy Reading!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Happily Ever After by Kelly Oram - Review

The end of one story is often the beginning of another. Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver and his Cinderella princess Ellamara Rodriguez have finally found love outside the digital world. But leaving their anonymity behind creates a whole new set of obstacles for the nation’s new favorite sweethearts. With the stress of Brian’s fame and the pressures of a new relationship weighing down on them, the It Couple quickly begins to wonder if they can hold on to their newfound joy, or if maybe happily ever after is only a fairy tale.

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Hey guys! Long time no see. I'm back with a review or Kelly Oram's Happily Ever After. This is the sequel to Cinder and Ella, an adorable YA modern retelling of the classic fairytale, which some really interesting and unique twists (like Cinderella having a physical disability, a father that is still there but sometimes horrible, and a step-sister who isn't always so bad). This review will contain spoilers for the first book, so if you haven't picked up Cinder and Ella, do so here

Happily Ever After was a fantastic follow up to Cinder and Ella. I read the first book a while ago and for some reason didn't review it, but I remember enjoying it a lot. This book did a great job continuing the story and building the characters, especially our female heroine Ella. After her internet best friend of three years, famous actor Brian Oliver, declares his love for her after meeting at a con promoting his movie, an adaptation of their favorite fantasy book series, she decides to take the plunge and follow her heart. Happily Ever After starts only a week after the end of Cinder and Ella.

I thought that the main conflict of the story was different than most of these kind of retellings (normal girl meets famous boy type). Often the conflict ends up being with dealing with fame or attention or unequal social standing. However, Happily Ever After takes all that in stride to instead focus on Ella's self-confidence issues, as a young woman with a physical disability, and the pressures young people feel towards sex and physical relationships, which are only highlighted by the glamour of Hollywood. 

Ella and Brian are fantastic in this book, and I really appreciated the fact that most of the drama was not about the impending doom of their Cinderella story relationship and more focused on Ella's familial relationship with her estranged father and relationship with her body and mental health as she becomes a public figure via her celebrity boyfriend. The way that the book follows Ella on her journey of self love and self worth is interesting and genuine, and as a person who also struggles with these issues, I found her choices and her bravery to overcome her fears inspiring. I really enjoyed the way that Brian insists on communication and is so supportive as she works through it all. I'm not sure if a guy as perfect as Brian exists, but if he does, I need to find him. Their interactions and dialogue made it feel as though I was watching a romantic comedy and I loved their banter and their connection. All the relationships in both this book and Cinder and Ella are nuanced and authentic and I thoroughly enjoyed following Ella on her journey to being the kickass woman that everyone knew she was. 

Happily Ever After is a fantastic follow up to Cinder and Ella. Expanding on the deep set issues such as family, self-worth, and peer pressure, it is a romantic, hilarious, heartfelt story of a girl who is not afraid of anything but her own potential to take the world by storm and the people who help her realize she is capable of anything. 
Find out more about Kelly and her books here: https://kellyoram.com

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton - Review

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

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But actually this book was fantastic. The world building and characters are incredibly developed and complex. The mix of cultures and eras and genres is exciting and original while also harkening back to traditional folklore and stories. I'd like to see Amani take on any of the famous, badass women that are taking over YA right now, for it would be a sight to see (or read, I guess). In short, I thought that Rebel of the Sands was a unique, exciting adventure with an amazing and inspiring heroine and I can't believe I didn't read this sooner. 

Two things really shine in this book: the characters and the world-building. These two elements tied together are what really makes this story amazing, in my opinion. Amani reminded me so much of Renee Ahdieh's Shahrzad from the Wrath and the Dawn but is wholly a badass female heroine all on her own. Her determination really drives the story and is at the center of its motivation. The way she approaches the world takes the caution and the cynicism seen a lot in YA literature but also adds this element of hope and ambition and sensibility. The way that she uses weapons, mechanical ones like guns and bombs, in a world that resonates with old fairytales set in Persia or the Middle East (or almost like Agraba from Aladdin) really differentiates Amani's story from any others. I loved the mixture of machines and magic, and how those tensions affect the world as well as Amani's own personal journey. The story as a whole likes to play with shades of grey - one can be a hero and an outlaw, the land can be as barren as it is lush, and everyone is more than they seem. Part fantasy, part western, the world is familiar and yet undiscovered - the readers and the characters keep finding new ways this world works and is changing, balanced on the edge of a knife between ancient magic and mechanic modernity.

An excellent cast of secondary characters round out this series. Jin is a perfect foil to Amani. I really enjoyed that I didn't like him at first, that I was as suspicious of him as Amani was. I also liked that while I could predict what part he was going to play, his character didn't read as too predictable, and his part in the story is one that barely slips by being too cliche. The rest of the cast of characters, while all working to fill in the necessary gaps of an adventure/fairytale story (the "evil" aunt, uncle, and cousin, for example), are all well fleshed out and, like Jin, I think do just enough to not fit too nicely into the classic molds. 

If you couldn't tell, I loved this book. I started reading it late one night after noticing that Traitor to the Throne had come out and then kicked myself for waiting so long. The only consolation was that the sequel had just come out, so I didn't have to wait. Unfortunately, now I have to wait for the third book.

If you haven't read Rebel of the Sands yet, I highly recommend. It has something for everyone - a kickass heroine who lives in a world with both guns and magics, with trains that roll through deserts that were once ruled by ancient, powerful, ruthless beings. It has action, magic, a little bit of romance, and a world that leaves the reader with infinite imaginings. 

The second book, Traitor to the Throne is out now! My review for it will be out next Tuesday. 
Find out more about Alwyn Hamilton and her books here: http://alwynhamilton.com

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston - Review

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

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Geekerella fulfilled all of my expectations plus more. It was a fantastic take on the classic story with the addition of fandoms, a crazy convention, unique characters, and one adorable Weiner dog (who I didn't even notice on the cover at first but look! He's SO CUTE!). 

Like I said, Geekerella is (obviously?) a modern retelling of Cinderella. However, Ashley makes this story interesting and unique with a fan convention instead of a royal ball, a vegan food truck instead of a magic pumpkin, and an adorable Frankenweiner instead of mice. The characters have more depth, being diverse and representing often overlooked minorities. I loved the small touches that give all the characters life and thought they worked together to make the book original and not too predictable in a story everybody already knows. Elle and Darien make for believable heroines, each with their own conflicts and struggles, particularly with their families, their aspirations, and their love of Starfield

The other star of this story is the focus on Starfield and the people that love it. I loved the way Ashley discusses the passion fans feel towards their favorite shows, the way both Elle and Darien overcome other's ideas of fandoms to show how much they relate to Starfield and how much it means to them. In a world where they both feel like outsiders and alone, this con and this show gives them a safe place with characters and people they love. The way they gain courage and inspiration from the characters of Starfield is relatable and adorable and really helps both the characters and the plot to be fresh and relevant. 

There were points where I wished there was slightly more original elements from Cinderella, though I totally understand why it followed very closely to the classic story. Darien and Elle both spend a good while taking crap from people around them, over and over again, when I felt like it wouldn't have been weird begin to break away a little sooner. I also wished we got even more information on Starfield (I know, I'm crazy, right?!). While I love retellings, sometimes knowing exactly what's going to happen wears on you as read, and I think that for the most part, Ashley did a great job in keeping the story new and different. 

Overall, I loved Geekerella. It's a fun, original romp through a classic story. The characters are great (I especially loved Sage and Franko) and the details surrounding the fictional Starfield are fantastic. I loved the modern touches and the representation of characters. The passion with which these characters love the things they do, and learn to love them without shame or embarrassment with those who love and support them, is a wonderful message and is at the heart of this story.
* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *
Find out more about Ashley Poston and her works here: http://casuallybeingweird.com

Ashley Poston's fangirl heart has taken her everywhere from the houses of Hollywood screenwriters to the stages of music festivals to geeky conventions (in cosplay, of course). She lives in South Carolina, where she hangs around the internet tweeting as @AshPoston.

(I highly recommend following her on Twitter!)

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning - Review

#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning returns with the epic conclusion to her pulse-pounding Fever series, where a world thrown into chaos grows more treacherous at every turn. As Mac, Barrons, Ryodan, and Jada struggle to restore control, enemies become allies, right and wrong cease to exist, and the lines between life and death, lust and love, disappear completely.

Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the Earth. Yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: the Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.

The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the Earth. But to achieve these aims, sidhe-seers, the Nine, Seelie, and Unseelie must form unlikely alliances and make heart-wrenching choices. For Barrons and Jada, this means finding the Seelie Queen who alone can wield the mysterious song, negotiating with a lethal Unseelie prince hell-bent on ruling the Fae courts, and figuring out how to destroy the Sinsar Dubh while keeping Mac alive.

This time, there’s no gain without sacrifice, no pursuit without risk, no victory without irrevocable loss. In the battle for Mac’s soul, every decision exacts a tremendous price.

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Feversong is the conclusion to Mac's and Barron's story in the Fever series. In order to have any idea of what's going on, you have to read at least the majority of the books before it. But if you're all caught up, I have to say that Feversong is a fantastic ending to Mac's story and one of the better, if not best, story in the series thus far. I don't have the expertise to summarize the story so far so this review is going to focus primarily on the story in this book alone. 

This series is incredibly complex, with a lot of characters and developed magical lore and a unique version of Dublin. Sometimes I find it a little too confusing. Who is Barron's? What is Mac, really? Who is the Unseelie King? How the heck can a magical book be so freaking evil? Is all this written in the stars or is it a mess of their own making? WHO KNOWS? NOT ME!

That being said, Feversong does a great job of answering a lot of these questions (but not all). I think that the development of the characters, from Dani/Jada to the Unseelie King and his consort, and then especially with Mac and Barrons, really drives this story forward and helps readers understand what is really going on. I really enjoyed seeing these characters grow and figure out how to save the world from being sucked into a magical black hole. Literally. You also learn more about the Unseelie King and the magic he created for his human consort and how that plays into the problems for Mac and the crew, which makes what might otherwise be seem like a disjointed story more linear. 

At its heart, this book is the story of Mac. Barrons and Jada play a large part as well but I've always felt like Mac is the heart of this series. And in this book, Mac experiences an entire spectrum of highs and lows and everything in between. Even when she makes decisions with the best intentions, horrible things happen. Karen Marie Moning pulls no punches when it comes to violence and darkness and the evil found in the world and Mac takes the brunt of most of it. The person that she comes out of in the end, though, is a revelation and her relationship with Barrons is fantastic. I always felt a little uneasy about the ways they used one another but the way their relationship develops in this book is great and soothed my aching soul (and made the book what it is, I really think).

I don't want to spoil anything, so I feel like I can't say too much more. Basically, I think that Feversong, while sometimes being too ambitious in its storytelling and becoming too convoluted, does a pretty good job in wrangling readers back into the characters and the world and the romance, not only of Mac and Barrons but of humanity with the earth, with the things that people love that are ugly and messed up and utterly human. It stays true to the series by being purposely ambiguous at the end of the true nature of the story, if it was destiny or choice, if the people you thought you knew were more than you were ever told, but if it was all spelled out for us, it would be a fitting ending to this story. Part of the magic that first captured Mac's eye is the mystery of beautiful things like Barrons, and so it's only right that it's what captures reader's eyes as well.

Overall, I think this book is a great ending to the series, as well as one of the stronger books of the series on its own. I highly recommend that even if you had some trouble with some of the Fever books you read this, if only to get some well-deserved answers and some steamy Mac/Barrons romance. 
Find out more about Karen Marie Moning and her works here: https://karenmoning.com

KAREN MARIE MONING is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fever series, featuring MacKayla Lane, and the award-winning Highlander series. She has a bachelor’s degree in society and law from Purdue University.

You can find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/​KarenMarieMoningfan

You can fin her on Twitter at @KarenMMoning

Happy Reading!