Sunday, July 23, 2017

July Book Club -The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant

We've been making themed refreshments for our book club get-togethers. That was my husbands brilliant idea and it has turned out to be one of the high-lights of our meetings every month, and this month, since it was a vampire book, I knew we would have to include blood. But what to do other than a red colored drink? After thinking on it for a while I started wondering if I could actually get drink pouches that looked like blood bags. You know, so we could drink from blood bags the same way Fred the vampire does in the book. And lo and behold, look what I found on Amazon...


We ended up filling them with a mixed berry drink and we sipped on them while we talked about the book. We had so much fun this month and I'm looking forward to next month when we all read Ready Player One. We already know we are going for an 80s theme, but no idea what the refreshments will be yet. Anyway, here is my review of the book:



The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire AccountantThe Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew  Hayes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Comedy


Some people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one.

This was our book club pick for July. I enjoyed it quite a bit and found Fred the vampire to be quite clever and lovable, even if he was somewhat boring as an individual. In the beginning Fred goes to his high school reunion and runs into an old friend who ends up spicing his life up a bit. The book is divided into different stories about Fred. He ends up collecting a new friend in each new story, until he has his own little group of friends, who all happen to be supernatural beings like him. Besides the high school reunion story there are also stories about a LARP, a trip to Vegas, and a couple of kidnappings.

This book was funny, but not as funny as I was expecting it to be. For me, the best part was the jousting duel in Vegas. Just picturing that makes me laugh, but I don't want to spoil anything so I'm not going to give away any of the details. It turns out there are more books about Fred but I think I'm fine with calling this a stand-alone. It was a fun diversion, but not something that I really want to invest a lot of time in. If you are looking for something light to read between heavier, more complicated books, than this would fit the bill perfectly.



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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Steampunk, fantasy



Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality...But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped.

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.


Reading Gail Carriger is always a delightful experience. Her characters are charmingly quirky and just plain fun. I love the funny and absurd names she gives her characters too. There is Mrs Barnaclegoose, Frowbritcher the butler, and Lord Dingleproops to name a few. Not only are the characters funny and quirky but her descriptions can be too. This paragraph is a good example:

"He was very pale and boasted an unassuming mustache, which was perched atop his upper lip cautiously, as though it were slightly embarrassed to be there and would like to slide away and become a sideburn or something more fashionable."

Overall Etiquette & Espionage is a very fun, lighthearted read that is set in the same alternate Victorian steampunk world as the Parasol Protectorate series. Time-wise this one is set before The Parasol Protectorate and we get to meet Genevieve Lefoux as a 9 year old and Sidheag Macon as a 14 year old. The setting works well in a YA novel, although this novel did feel somewhat more like a middle grade novel at times.

While I find certain aspects of Carriger's writing delightful, there is something that doesn't pull me in as much as I would like and I never really feel compelled to move onto the next book. Sadly that is again the case here. I'm not sure if I will ever read further into this series, but this book was fun and it did make me laugh which is always a plus.



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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Paranormal, Mystery


 
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--

The moment I saw that this was being marketed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who I knew I had to read it. I also knew those were huge shoes to fill so my expectations were rather low. I must say that I really liked Jackaby. It has a nice quirky charm to it.

The character Jackaby is very much like Sherlock and The Doctor rolled into one. He has the Doctor's eccentricity combined with Sherlock's blunt rudeness. Like Sherlock he is a private investigator, but like The Doctor he deals with the strange and unexplained. The strange and unexplained consists of several paranormal creatures.

I do feel inclined to add that there is no time travel. The comparisons to The Doctor are strictly personality based. This was a fun read that had a few laugh out loud moments. It was easy to figure out who the bad guy was, but mostly I was not disappointed in this book. I look forward to reading more in the series.



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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Novice (Summoner, #1)The Novice by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

I've been looking forward to reading The Novice for a while and it mostly lived up to my expectations. I loved getting to know Fletcher, Sylva, and Othello. Fletcher ends up being pretty brilliant in this book. I loved the ideas he came up with for the tournament. This is a pretty standard mage school type book with tension between the students of different races (humans, elves, and dwarves) as well as between the upper and lower classes, with some of the nobles being predictably snooty and mean. However, I was pleased that the book didn't always follow the predictable path. There were a few times I thought the story was going to be predictable and it wasn't.

The thing I liked best about this book were the pet demons that the mages had. From cute little mites that could spy on people to powerful griffons and golems, they were all interesting. I also enjoyed reading the guide about them at the end of the book. The ending was a bit frustrating and it left me really wanting to know what happens next, so I'll definitely be reading more.



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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Caged GravesThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction 


 
17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery...Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in...

The Caged Graves really grabbed me from the very beginning. It was not as creepy as the description made it sound, but that was ok with me. There was a mystery to figure out and while I figured most of it out pretty early on I still enjoyed reading this. The book is meticulously researched. The time period felt authentic and the characters felt well developed. There is a love triangle in this book, but I actually liked it. It was well done and didn't feel just thrown in for no good reason. It was actually an important part in the development of the main character. In the beginning liked things about both love interests, but the one she ends up choosing in the end was definitely the best choice. I won't spoil it by saying why though.

The mystery surrounding the graves is what drew me to this, and the fact that there really are caged graves near the town in this book. No one knows why the real graves have cages around them. I liked the fact that the author actually used the names on the real headstones in the book and created a history and a reason for the cages.



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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stitching SnowStitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera



Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.


Stitching Snow is a sci-fi space retelling of Snow White. What I really liked about it was that Snow or Essie as she calls herself, is a smart capable girl. She didn't just get that way by accident either. She had to be or she wouldn't have survived. I also liked that the romance didn't take over the story or Essie's brain for that matter. She didn't let her feelings for Dane interfere with what had to be done, and he didn't either. They were both willing to sacrifice what needed to be sacrificed to do what needed to be done. I liked the support they gave each other, it was just really sweet.

I enjoyed the way the different elements of the Snow White story were added to this version. I thought the drones in the place of dwarfs were a great idea and really would have liked to have seen more of them. The apple shaped pendant was another nice touch. The hunter who takes her off to kill her at the queen's orders was there as well, but in the form of a guard. There was no mirror, but the queen's jealousy was given a different reason in this story, a more disturbing reason than just vanity. I was a little surprised that was included in a YA book, not that I think it shouldn't have been it's just not a subject that is included very often in YA. I felt like the author handled the subject well and that it fit into the story and wasn't just added for pure shock value.

One of this book's shortcomings I think is a lack of world building. The tech side of the sci-fi was well covered, I just felt like the space side could have been more detailed. I would have liked more description of the different planets and all of their surroundings so I could feel like I was in space. This did remind me a lot of The Lunar Chronicles but Marissa Meyer did something completely different with her retelling of Snow White. This is also a stand-alone. There is a companion novel coming out this year, but no sequel. I like that.



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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SkyfarerSkyfarer by Joseph Brassey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Catergory: Adult
Genre: Fantasy



I really enjoyed this book! The mages in this story open portals for their Skyships to pass through, allowing them to travel from place to place more quickly. Aimee is an apprentice portalmage whose first portal casting goes awry, and she and the crew of her ship end up somewhere other than where they were supposed to be. They end up right in the middle of a war. While there Aimee and the rest of the crew learn about a mythical relic called the Axiom Diamond that has the power to show its bearer any truth they desire. They set out to find it before the ruthless Lord Azrael and the infamous Knights of the Eternal Order find it and use it to their advantage.

Skyfarer ended up being just about everything I was hoping it would be. It was a fast, fun read and I loved the characters. Aimee and Azrael were my favorites. There are some plot threads that were left hanging and I'm hoping there will be a sequel. I would really love to read more about this world.

Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.



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Monday, July 10, 2017

Lady Fiasco (Regency Trilogy, #1)Lady Fiasco by Kathleen Baldwin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance


 
Can a lady with a reputation for disaster, stumble into love?

Lady Fiasco is the first in a series of companion books. I did not read these in order. I read book 2, Mistaken Kiss first. Book 3, Cut From the Same Cloth second, and this book I read third. Out of the three this one was the one I liked the least. The series features Aunt Honore in all three books. In each book she "helps" along the romantic relationship of one of her nieces or nephews. I felt like she was a little inconsistent throughout the books. In this book she is pretty outrageous and some of the things she did would have been pretty shocking for the time period. In book two she just seems like a meddlesome busybody and was not featured nearly as much, and in book three she schemes but is not nearly as outrageous as she was in book one and I liked her the most in that one.

This is a humorous regency romance, but for the most part the humor fell flat in this one. I thought Mistaken Kiss was the most humorous of the three and that one is my favorite. A couple of things that annoyed me about this book were the foot stamping the main character does several times, and the aunt and love interest keeping something from the main character that they could have let her in on. As far as the foot stamping goes, I didn't notice it so much in the other two books, although I think it happened once or twice. I have a hard time picturing a grown woman stamping her foot like a little girl when shes upset. It's a childish and unattractive thing for a grown woman to do. I don't know if there will be more books in the series, but for the most part I've enjoyed the ones I've read. They have been a fun diversion and I would be willing to read more.



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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #1)Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk



Retribution Falls is a steampunk fantasy that has loads of action. The air ships were interesting and I especially liked the air battles. The second half was better than the first half, but I pretty much liked it from the beginning. The characters were all interesting but Frey, the captain, had to grow on me.

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something.

I wouldn't say fate had anything to do with it. More like personal choices. Frey does have extremely bad luck, mostly brought on by his own choices. I wasn't sure what to think of him at first, then I pretty much hated him for a while, and finally I ended up kind of liking him. Why the big change in the way I felt about him? Character growth. There was a lot of character growth and in the end Frey was not the same man that he was at the beginning of this book. I really like when books have flawed characters that actually grow.

Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death.

That's most of the ship's crew and I must say that I liked the crew a lot better than Frey in the beginning. I think my favorite character in the book was probably Jez. She also was the only one who wasn't in her predicament because of some choice she made. Crake and his golem, Bess were also very interesting. My least favorite crew member was probably Pinn. He's a real dimwit and clearly he's not playing with a full deck. This I suppose could be funny at times, but I didn't find much to like about him, except for when he was in the cockpit of his little airship entertaining us during the air battles.

When an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

The crew takes on this mission that sounds really simple and is supposed to make them rich. Of course the mission goes south. I've never read a book like this where it didn't. Could you imagine if everything went as planned and the characters all ended up filthy rich almost from the beginning? How much fun would that be and what story would there be left to tell? I would actually like to see someone try to pull that off in a book. I'm not sure what the rest of the story would be about, but hey, it would be different. So of course things don't go as planned, and in the most horrible way, and Frey and the crew of the Ketty Jay are left trying to figure out what is going on while on the run.

Most of what happens in the book is pretty predictable, but still entertaining, It does remind me a lot of Firefly, which many people have compared it to. I didn't have high expectations going into this so I feel like it checked off all the boxes of what I wanted it to be. A fun, rather light steampunk fantasy. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.



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Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Splendor FallsThe Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Southern Gothic



Can love last beyond the grave?

3.5 stars I like the cover of this book and even though I'm not exactly sure why it's called The Splendor Falls, I like the title too. Both the title and the cover just sort of beckoned me to read it, promising a lot of good gothic mystery.

The book is about Sylvie, a girl who lives in Manhattan, and who is recuperating from a tragic and freak accident which has left her unable to continue with her ballet career, a career that meant everything to her. Sylvie has also been struggling with the loss of her dad, and to make matters worse her mother has now remarried and this has driven a wedge between Sylvie and her mother. Her mother decides that what Sylvie needs is to visit a distant relative in Alabama who happens to be restoring an old family home there. Strange things begin to happen and Sylvie begins to think she's seeing things that aren't there.

I must say that I had a hard time keeping my head in this book for about the first 100 pages. In my opinion it took way too long to get to the meat of the story. I think the book is just too long in general, and it didn't need to be over 500 pages long. When we finally get to the old southern mansion where the story takes place, instead of pulling us into the mansion and its surroundings and enthralling us with it, the author makes the mistake of focusing in too much on Silvie's pet dog Gigi for a good portion of the book. I felt like this distracted from the mystery and the feel of the surroundings.

I can't really say at what point I became engrossed in the story, it was well into the book, but there was a point where Gigi seemed to fade into the background and the story finally took off. The atmosphere of the book changed and suddenly I couldn't put it down. From that point on the book deserves 4 stars. I would say it probably deserved 2 stars before that.

There were two guys in this book that Silvie meets and finds attractive for different reasons. Rhys and Shawn. I liked that even though she was interested in them and they in her it didn't take over the story. The romance was very light and Silvie wasn't all consumed by thoughts of the two guys, so it didn't feel like I was reading a love triangle or anything. I thought Silvie and of course Gigi, were both very well drawn characters. Its just a shame that the rest of the supporting characters couldn't have been more fleshed out. More attention to Rhys and less to Gigi would have improved the book. I liked Rhys and I just wanted more of him.

Overall I ended up liking this book quite a bit. I thought it ended well although there was one thing I thought might be revealed that ended up not being the case.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dark Horse (Class 5, #1)Dark Horse by Michelle Diener

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera



Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn't know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he's not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5's owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn't the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he's going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.



Dark horse is a light space opera read. I've enjoyed several of Michelle Diener's other books and was excited to see that she ventured into space opera territory. For the most part the main character Rose was very likable. She was smart and resourceful. I would have liked to have seen more PTSD as a result of her captivity and torture, which I might add was not discussed in any detail in this book. There were a few scenes where she became upset over things that had happened, but those seemed to be conveniently placed so that the potential love interest could get close to her and comfort her, which is fine to a point. The scene at the pool felt especially awkward and seemed a bit strange for two people who hardly knew each other. It was a little bit too insta-love for me. I would have liked to have seen them come together differently, but I did enjoy their romance and liked that it wasn't overdone.

There was still plenty of story that didn't involve the romance part. I loved Sazo and his relationship with Rose and I kept wondering if he could really be trusted for a good portion of the book. I really would like to read more about the other class 5s and also find out more about the other alien species that were mentioned in the book. A bit more action in future books would be nice a well. I'm looking forward to eventually reading the two companion books.


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Monday, July 3, 2017

One for SorrowOne for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Paranormal


 
Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie.

2.5 stars. I've read a few of Mary Downing Hahn's books and liked them quite a bit. I don't read a lot of middle grade, but her books are usually fun, creepy reads. This one I did not like as much as the others I've read. Despite there being a ghost, this was not a creepy book, and that disappointed me. Most of this book was not pleasant to read. There is a lot of bullying done among school girls and although I wanted to feel badly for the girl that was being bullied, and I did at times, it was hard to because she was just as mean as the bullies. For most of the book none of the girls were really likable because of all of the meanness, but in the end the girls all do change. But it does take a vengeful ghost to get them to that point.

The thing I found most interesting about this book was that it was inspired by a story from the author's mothers own experience of living during the Spanish influenza and surviving it. The part in the book when the girls go to the different homes to pay their respects to and view the dead, mainly so they can get free cake, candy, and punch was something her mother and her mother's friends actually did, and they really did end up at a house that belonged to one of their classmates that they had no idea had died until they saw her in the coffin.

If you like reading books about mean girls or vengeful ghosts you might like this book, but for me it was just ok.

Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for giving me a copy of this book.



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Friday, June 30, 2017

Our Little SecretOur Little Secret by Darren O'Sullivan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller 



A deserted train station: A man waits. A woman watches.

In the middle of the night Sarah is waiting for the train when she notices a man standing on the platform. A man who thought he would be alone at this hour. Alone so he could step under the train and end his life without any witnesses. Because he doesn't want any witnesses, Chris tries to get rid of Sarah by offering her money so she can go buy herself a cup of coffee to warm herself up while she waits for her train. She mistakes his offer as an act of kindness and instead of leaving feels drawn to him. She soon realizes that something is not right and stays until finally Chris leaves the train station. After Sarah stops Chris from committing suicide she becomes obsessed with finding out who he is and why he wanted to kill himself.

But there are some secrets that are meant to stay buried…

Our Little Secret was a quick read that was pretty engrossing even though the plot was obvious to me almost from the beginning. In fact it was so obvious that I wondered if it was supposed to be a mystery who the killer was. The book is broken mostly into two points of view, Sarah's and Chris's, with the occasional point of view from Chris's friend Steve thrown in. There are also journal entries from Chris's murdered wife. The mystery is all about who killed Chris's wife and why. As I already said though, I figured it out very early on so there was very little mystery for me in this book. Mostly just how exactly it all happened. The why was pretty easy to predict, almost as easy as who had done it.

I thought Sarah made some incredibly stupid choices at times and that really annoyed me. Sarah was not the best judge of character, especially when it came to men and her younger sister and her fiancé pretty much took on a rather parental type role to try and save her from her stupidity. This irked me a little, but I could also understand why they did this. I did not always feel like Sarah's actions were plausible. Who meets some random person and then becomes that obsessed with them? I guess the whole suicide thing played a big part in it, but still, Sarah just seemed like a glutton for punishment with the ex-boyfriend who she kept going back to in the past, even though he treated her badly. To the way she kept going back to Chris, even when he made it clear he didn't want her there. I really can't say that I cared whether she lived or died at the end of the book, but I won't spoil that here.

Despite not really connecting with Sarah and the lack it mystery I  still enjoyed this enough to give it three stars. This is one of those books that does not end happily for everyone, but the end was fitting.This is one of those books that does not end happily for everyone, but the end was fitting.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher HQ Digital for giving me a copy of this book.


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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (The Evaporation of Sofi Snow #1)The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary  Weber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi


 
Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi's dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth's corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth's Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi's the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she's convinced he's been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.


The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is a YA sci-fi story that I thought had potential, but ended up being just mediocre for me. I thought the games in the book were interesting. The mix of real and virtual reality was an interesting concept but I was a little confused about how exactly it worked. I also felt like the part at the beginning with the games was maybe a bit too long. One of the most interesting parts of the book was the "planet" and the aliens. I'll give you one guess what the planet really was, think Star Wars. Why no one figured this out before a bunch of teens did is beyond me. I really don't care for books that make the teens smarter than the adults.

I really didn't care for any of the characters in the book. Both Sofi and her ex, Miguel had too many issues for me. Sofi is angry with her mother, with good reason, and she is acting out and doing things just to spite her. And Miguel has done some really shady things in his past. These kids are way too young to have so much baggage which is really sad. I think it would have worked better as a story if it had been written about adults. Then maybe we would have been spared the teen angst. There is also the friend Heller who initially seemed really cool, but then got super annoying with his jealousy.

The book ends on a huge cliffhanger and you definitely have to read the next book to find out what happens next, but I'm pretty sure I can predict what is going to happen and what all the secrets probably are, so I'm good leaving it where it is.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Thomas Nelson for giving me a copy of this book for review.

Review also posted at https://writingsofareader.blogspot.com/




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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saving Grace (Hearthfire Romance, #1)Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance


 
Saving Grace is a Regency romance set in the latter part of the Regency period. Just like in most of these type books there was a lot of second guessing how the other person feels and being foolish about it, but for some reason I just keep enjoying these anyway. They are mostly great for when I don't have a huge attention span for reading, but just want to breeze through something light and easy. And they also warm the heart and make me feel good, sort of like a Hallmark movie. This one had a very grumpy love interest whose heart needed melting after the loss of his sister and father.

The novel started out a bit shaky, but got much better as it went on. At one point I wasn't sure if I liked the protagonist when she was so willing to ruin other people's reputations without seeming to give them much thought, even if it was to save her sister. But later she seemed to realize what she had done and she grew on me until I really liked her. This is a clean romance and can be read by teens as well as adults. There are two companion novels that I also read and enjoyed that I'll post about later.

Review also posted at https://writingsofareader.blogspot.com/





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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sweet Little LiesSweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery


 
What happens when the trust has gone?

Cat Kinsella was always a daddy's girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.

When Maryanne later disappears and Cat's father denies ever knowing her, Cat's relationship with him is changed forever.


I was expecting Sweet Little Lies to be suspenseful, but it was more of a police procedural. Although I thought the mystery was rather intriguing at times, ultimately I did not find it all that compelling of a read. Parts of it felt really drawn out and I had a hard time wanting to pick it up and read it when that happened. The main character, Cat was not all that likable to me either. The good thing about this book is that I did not figure all the details of the mystery out. On a random note, since finishing this I've had the Fleetwood Mac song stuck in my head.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Bonnier Zaffre for giving me a copy of this book for review.


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Monday, June 26, 2017

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk



Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity. Within their halls, the ruling aristocratic houses develop scientific marvels, foster trade alliances, and maintain fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Jim Butcher is one of my favorite authors and I thoroughly enjoyed the Aeronaut's Windlass. The world is interesting; a great steampunk and traditional fantasy mix, and I am looking forward to more world building and character development in the next books in the series. The characters were all great. I can't think of one that I didn't like. If you like cats you will love this book. I loved the addition of Rowl the cat, and I think this book would be appropriate for my teen daughter to read even though it's written for adults. I ended up reading excerpts aloud to her when the point of view shifted to Rowl.

I think besides Rowl, what I liked the most about this book were the airship battles and the quirky Etherealists. I loved the Etherealists and can't wait to read more about them in coming books. I'm looking forward to reading more and hopefully also finding out a lot more about the world on the ground.



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Friday, June 23, 2017

In the After (In the After, #1)In the After by Demitria Lunetta

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian



They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.


I was really glued to In the After during the first part of the book when it was sort of like reading a mash up of I am Legend and Falling Skies. Amy is left on her own after everyone around her has been killed by "Them". The news has reported that they are aliens who have landed to take over the earth. Soon there is no more news and as far as Amy can tell no other people. She observes how the aliens behave and figure out how to hide from them and get around them. I thought it was different that they were day time creatures instead of night time creatures and I liked that about the story.

One day while scavenging for food in a grocery store Amy finds a 3 or 4 year old child who she names Baby. There is never an explanation as to how Baby got there in the first place, although we learn some other important things about her later. I kind of thought this was a hole in the story. I loved Amy and Baby and I think their relationship is one thing that made the book work so well. However, in part two the post-apocalyptic survival story turned into a dystopian society story. From then on I thought it lacked something. The interaction between Amy and Baby became sparse and we are introduced to a lot of other characters that I really didn't care about.

Amy was mostly pretty smart while she was living on her own, but after she was brought to New Hope I thought she kind of stopped being smart and started doing some really stupid things. Knowing that the doctor didn't trust her and had his eye on her, you would think she would have been quieter about her suspicions and rebel in a more covert manner. Unfortunately she makes stupid mistake after stupid mistake for the whole rest of the book.

While I liked this book ok, I wish it had ended with this one instead of being a duology. At this time I feel like one book is enough so I'm not planning on reading the next one.



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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bonecaller: Book OneBonecaller: Book One by Logan Keys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy


Raven doesn’t know she’s the most important player in a magical war.

Raven is a servant girl to the cruel witch Esme. She doesn't remember much about her life before. A young wizard cursed with old age also lives there. Raven and the wizard Sim become close friends and help and support each other through the witch's cruelty. One day Raven accidentally steals an old magic that the witch has been looking for. This sets off a chain of events that finally leads them away from the witch who has kept them captive for so long, but that doesn't mean they are going to be safe.

Across the sea John is a ship captain who has been running from his past. One day John finds the witch Mira stowed away on his ship and little does he know how drastically his life is about to change. Eventually the lives of these characters intersect and quite a few secrets are revealed.

Bonecaller is a young adult fantasy that could pass for adult as well. The writing style is easy to read, but the characters feel more grown up than most characters in young adult books. With the exception of maybe Raven who has to be at least 17 or 18 they all seem to be adults anyway so I'm not sure why this ended up being a young adult book.

I was drawn into this story from the very first page. The witches reminded me a little of the Fae at times with their elemental characteristics stemming from the seasons. I also really liked the romantic elements of the story. The relationship between Raven and Sim was a sweet one and I couldn't help but think of Howl's Moving Castle with the whole aging curse. However the relationship between John and Mira was more tumultuous, and though I liked them together some of the things John said and did irked me a little. Despite that I still couldn't help but like him.

At only 200 pages this is a very quick read and it was just what I needed after reading a very long fantasy. This ends with some of the characters still in bad situations and I have no idea when the next book will be released but I definitely want to continue on with the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book for review.



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The Legion of Flame (The Draconis Memoria #2)The Legion of Flame by Anthony  Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy



For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood--and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed--to fuel and protect its empire. But now, a fearsome power has arisen--a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it.

What? No!!! No no no! That ending is killing me! To say that I didn't see that coming would be an understatement. And the way we leave Clay at the end of the previous chapter...Ugh! Anthony Ryan has definitely mastered the cliffhanger chapter. This time around I did resist the urge to peek ahead though.

After reading The Waking Fire back in December I was looking forward to reading this sequel, and happy that I wouldn't have to wait too long for it. This book was everything I was hoping it would be, except maybe for that ending! There is never a dull moment in these books and I enjoyed catching up with Clay and Lizanne and the rest of the characters. I think the only thing I didn't like so much were the chapters from the Spoiled's point of view, but it did give us more insight into the Spoiled and the drakes. Out of the different story lines in the book I think I liked Clay's the most. The journey he goes on was full of interesting revelations and he just continues to grow on me as a character.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I really need to know what happens next! But unfortunately it won't be released until next year.

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for giving me a copy of this book to review.



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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spirit and Dust (Goodnight Family #2)Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal



Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide.

I was pretty disappointed in Spirit and Dust. It's a companion novel to Texas Gothic but it was nothing like Texas Gothic. All of the things that made me adore Texas Gothic were missing in this book. This book lacked the charm that was present in that one. There were no quirky, eccentric characters, unless you count Daisy herself and the rest of the Goodnight family was absent for the most part. Where Texas Gothic was light-hearted and funny, Spirit and Dust was more tense and serious.

Honestly though, this wasn't a bad book. It was a pretty good mystery that contained a few good twists and had it been a separate novel with nothing to do with Texas Gothic I probably would have liked it better. Even though this one disappointed me I would still love for Rosemary Clement-Moore to write more books about the Goodnight family.

One thing worth mentioning is a certain scene in a museum in Chicago that contains a dinosaur named Sue. Anyone that has read The Dresden Files will feel a certain deja vu.



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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mistaken Kiss (Regency Trilogy, #2)Mistaken Kiss by Kathleen Baldwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Romance



Willa is nearly blind, but she knows trouble when she trips over it.

Willa, the vicar’s little sister knows full well that her prospects are bleak. When she accidentally kisses Alexander Braeburn, her dull predictable world turns upside down. Logic dictates that she should stay away from the handsome Corinthian. He’s the black sheep of their village. But how can she resist?


I got Mistaken Kiss for free from Amazon. It's probably one of the best free books I've ever read. I really liked Willa who is practically blind without her glasses and still has a hard time seeing with them on. Will's brother's best friend Sir Daniel asks her to marry him, out of charity of course since she has no other prospects and her brother is his best friend. Willa is reluctant to agree to this marriage but asks Sir Daniel to kiss her. Only she doesn't realize that she has just asked the wrong man to kiss her. The man she thought was Daniel is in fact his brother Alex. What follows is a delightfully funny story. I especially liked the last chapter. I really liked Willa and Alex and the supporting characters were all good too, although I wanted to slap her brother Jerome for being an insensitive, clueless jerk at times.

This book was just the kind of fluff I needed between my more serious reads. There are companion books to this one and I enjoyed reading those as well, but this one is my favorite of the three. If you like regency romance with some humor you may like this one.



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Monday, June 19, 2017

The DogsThe Dogs by Allan Stratton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal



Mom and I have been on the run for years. Every time he catches up with us, we move to a new place and start over.

But this place is different.

This place is full of secrets. And they won't leave me alone.


Cameron and his mother have moved four times in five years. His mother has kept them on the run, hiding from his father whom she says is hunting them. Cameron was only 9 when he last saw his father and he wonders if his mother is telling the truth about his father or if she's just crazy. After seeing a mysterious car parked out on the street several times, his mother decides it's time to move again because she is convinced it's Cameron's dad. They move several hundred miles away to a dilapidated farm house in the middle of a corn field. Cameron isn't happy to be moving out to the middle of nowhere, but he soon finds some disturbing drawings in the basement that seem to have been made by a boy who lived there long ago, and suddenly he is occupied with unraveling the mystery of what happened to him.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving by the barn.

When I look, it disappears. Wait. There it is again, at the cornfield.

Some movement, some thing. 


The Dogs is a ghost story, but it's also a story about domestic abuse and the aftermath of it. Cameron is affected by the life he's lived on the run and by things he remembers from his past. He's grown up with a mom who is paranoid that his father is going to catch up to them, and it shows. Cameron begins seeing the ghost of the boy named Jacky who lived in the house, but disappeared back in the 60s. He is convinced that Jacky and his mother were victims of domestic abuse and he sets out to prove it. But is Jacky's ghost really there or is Cameron just imagining him? You are left wondering a lot whether Cameron is really seeing and talking to a ghost or whether he is just mentally ill because of the trauma he's experienced in his life.

I liked Cameron as a character. His behavior wasn't always likable. He said some mean, sarcastic things to his mom, and kind of blamed her for their situation at times. He also wasn't very nice to the one boy at school who befriended him, but it fit the fact that he was a teen boy who was confused and hurting emotionally, so I think he was very realistically drawn. I picked this book up because it looked like a good creepy, thriller with ghosts added to the mix. While it's not all that creepy, I did like it a lot and I thought it packed a good emotional punch.



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Friday, June 16, 2017

Elantris (Elantris, #1)Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category:Adult
Genre: Fantasy 




Elantris was a place of glory.

The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.

But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks...

But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives.


When I first picked up Elantris I was immediately drawn into the story, but after about four chapters it started to drag a little. I thought for a while there that I would probably end up giving it three stars. I admit I was impatient for something big to happen. However I did begin to realize that the part in the middle that seemed to drag was necessary for the rest of the story. There was a lot to be learned about the characters in the story from those pages in the middle. Eventually the plot did pick up in pace and I was rewarded with plenty of fast paced action.

One thing I liked the most about this book was that while it's fantasy, it is different from the run of the mill fantasy story. I liked the idea of the Aons and it reminded me of the rune magic used by the Sartans in the Deathgate Cycle, another fantasy series that I very much enjoyed reading. I’ve heard a lot about this book not being as sophisticated or well written as Sanderson’s later books, and that may be true, but this was the first Sanderson book I read and I liked it a lot despite some of it's flaws.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Unwind (Unwind, #1)Unwind by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia



Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.


Unwind is one of those rather disturbing stories that stick with you for a while. The part where one of the characters is unwound is pretty disturbing. Shusterman is an excellent writer and his stories really make you think.

My main reason for only giving this three stars is simply because I find the whole premise of the book highly unbelievable. One of those reasons being that I can't see either side of the reproduction rights argument ok with it as a solution to anything. Pro-lifers would never be ok with killing their teens. The whole idea of being pro-life is being against killing children even before they are born. Why would they be ok with it afterwards? Pro-choicers wouldn't be ok with it either. I don't think the pro-choicers would want to go through the pregnancy, give birth and half raise the child. The whole pro-choice stance is that it's not a person yet and a woman shouldn't have to give birth to a baby she doesn't want. So why would they be ok with this as a solution? Maybe I could see the government deciding this was the way things should be and imposing it on people's lives, but I don't see most parents volunteering to do this to their kids.

Despite the implausibility of the story I still really enjoyed this book. I appreciated the fact that the author didn't take a stance on either side in this book, but rather just wrote a "what if things ended up this way" story and let the reader think for themselves. I like Shusterman as a writer and I loved his Everlost trilogy. I highly recommend reading that one and I don't not recommend this one. If you like dystopias you should try it. It does successfully do what a dystopian novel is supposed to do; make you think and make you appreciate your freedoms.



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Magician's LieThe Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Mystery



The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.

The Magician's Lie kept me hooked pretty much from start to finish. It's historical fiction and magical realism with a touch of mystery thrown in. I was actually expecting much more investigation of that mystery, but instead we get the back story of the main character after she is arrested as she tries to explain what happened and why. The story was very interesting and I got sucked into it right along with the police officer in the book, it kind of felt like Scheherazade spinning her tale all through the night to save her life. It really left me wondering throughout most of the book whether or not she was telling the truth and what the lie is that the title eludes to.

Probably the biggest flaw of the book for me was the police officer didn't seem very competent. Nothing he did seemed very much in line with what a police officer would do, even back in the early 1900s. I could also probably pick the book apart and say that the way men and women acted around each other wasn't always in line with the way they would have behaved around each other during that time period, but it really didn't bother me in this particular story. I'm happy to say that this one lived up to my expectations.



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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Midnight at the Bright Ideas BookstoreMidnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller



Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey McGinty, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s back room, Lydia’s life comes unglued.


The suicide in the bookstore is what really drew me to this book. Had Joey MGinty killed himself anywhere else I may not have been interested. I liked that the suicide triggered a part of Lydia's past that she had buried and run away from. But while the plot sounded intriguing, I felt the book fell a bit flat. There were some big coincidences and the murder mystery from Lydia's past was easy to figure out. I knew who did it right away if not why.

I would have enjoyed the book more if I had found the characters more likable. While Lydia wasn't unlikable, I really didn't like some things that she did. I did like her boyfriend David, but he was mostly just a background character, and I disliked the way Lydia ended up treating him. I could sympathize with Lydia's father in the beginning but that changed later in the book. Raj was just ok and honestly came off a little creepy the way he fixated on Lydia so much. And the things that some of the people did in this book were pretty awful and sad. For the most part this was a book full of unhappy people, and that was just sort of depressing. In the end it left me feeling kind of blah.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Scribner for giving me a copy of this book.



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Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing, #1)The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Suspense



She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky ... But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

The Rules for Disappearing starts out with a 17 year old girl and her family, who are in witness protection being moved from one location to another. We soon learn that this isn't the first move, but that there have been 6 moves so far. The main character, who is now going by the name Meg knows her own mess up caused them to be moved from one location, but she doesn't know why they have been moved every other time or why they are in witness protection in the first place. Tired of making new friends only to leave them yet again, she's getting increasingly desperate to know the truth. No one will tell her anything though, not even her own parents, so Meg decides it's time for her to uncover the truth on her own.

This was an ok read. I expected it to be filled with a lot more danger, a lot more suspense, and well--be a lot more thrilling. The author instead, chose to focus too much (for me anyway) on the teen romance and the high school drama, which included the standard mean girl and her posse of cheerleaders, and a couple of parties with underage drinking and other shenanigans. Honestly I could have done without most of that. What I really wanted was to feel danger creeping around every corner. I wanted to wonder who Meg could trust and who she couldn't. There was very little of that feeling of danger and I knew right away who she couldn't trust. It was staring me in the face like a flashing neon sign.

Meg really wants to have her old life back through most of the book. In the beginning she doesn't like who witness protection has caused her to become, but from the bits that are revealed about her in her past life, I think I like the new Meg a lot better than the old one. There is no way she can ever go back to being the same person she was before, at least not completely, and in some ways that's a good thing. In the end she realizes that too.

While I liked the “witness protection” Meg and I thought her sister was ok too when she wasn’t acting like a brat, Meg’s parents were a different story. They annoyed me with the way they wouldn't talk to her, and her mother completely failed them by becoming a drunk. I just wanted to slap her. And back to the sister acting bratty, she was an 11 year old who was traumatized by all the moves so I was mostly able to cut her some slack. Ethan, the love interest was ok, but didn't make my heart flutter or anything. I'm not really into farm boys that go to restaurants with mud all over them. Couldn't he have cleaned up first? I did find it hard to believe that he was the only person Meg befriended out of the whole 6 moves that knew something wasn't right about her.

I liked that this book was set in the town of Natchitoches, Louisiana. When Meg first finds out she is in Louisiana all she can think of are hurricanes and oil spills. I'm surprised she didn't add swamps to that list as well. But for a nice change there was no mention of a swamp in a book set in Louisiana. I liked that this book was set in the cute, little, historical town of Natchitoches but I do wish that we had gotten more description of the town. It's the town where Steel Magnolias and several other movies were filmed, and it would have added a nice atmospheric touch to the novel if there had been more description of it.

This looks to be book one of a duology. It could easily have been a stand-alone. It ends nicely and leaves the reader wondering about who one person really is and what their motivation was. This is not enough to make me want to read the next book though. I'm fine being left with that slight little mystery.



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Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Moon Shines Red (Heart of Darkness #1)The Moon Shines Red by Pamela Sparkman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: fantasy, Romance



Lord Lochlan was cursed in the womb, condemned by the perceived crimes of his parents.

I should have stayed away from him. But I couldn't.
HE was my love...my life. And he just might kill me.
So I guess that means...he may also be my end.


The moon Shines Red is a clean historical fantasy romance that has a bit of a fairy tale feel to it. I loved this book and the beautiful messages within it about love and perseverance so much. I haven't felt this way about a book since I read The Bird and the Sword earlier this year. There are a couple of heart-pounding romantic scenes in this book and I fell in love with the tortured Lochlan right along with our leading lady.

Lochlan is a tortured soul who has lived cursed for 500 years unable to touch anyone without killing them, so he has isolated himself from most other people. One day Elin is out walking in the forest and she sees a beautiful white owl. She starts following it until she ends up at a clearing and there she meets Lochlan. They are immediately drawn to each other, but Lochlan warns her to keep her distance. They part and Lochlan plans to never see her again but fate has different ideas.

I liked Elin as a character a lot. There is a secret about her that is eventually revealed and while it's pretty easy to predict, I still really enjoyed the story. The only complaint I have about her is that she is pretty defenseless in the beginning and stays that way throughout the whole story, even after she begins to learn how to protect herself she never has the opportunity to use those skills. I really would have liked it if she would have had the opportunity to come into her own in that aspect.

The antagonist Zeph ended up being more layered than I initially thought and I liked the story behind him and what was revealed about him. I don't always sympathize with the bad guy in books, but this was one of those times where I could feel badly for him to an extent. The next book is going to be about him and I do wonder how he can be redeemed after some of his actions. He just went too far and so I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about him in the next book.

As for the fantasy aspect of the story, I thought it was pretty well done. The story involves the Seelie and Unseelie courts in the faerie realm. We don't actually get to see too much of the faerie realm in the book as it takes place mostly in the human world, and that's something that I would have liked to explore a little more. I'm pretty sure that will happen in the next book though, since it will be about Zeph.

Thanks to NetGalley, Book Enthusiast Promotions, and the Author for giving me a copy of this book.



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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Snowed Inn (Who-Dun-Him Inn #1)Snowed Inn by Heather Horrocks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery



Mystery buff Vicki Butler plans to kill someone this weekend. Nothing personal, just business.

The killer grand opening weekend at her new Who-Dun-Him Inn is all fun and games---until an unplanned dead body makes an appearance.


Snowed Inn is the first book in a cozy mystery series. I thought it was cute, but just a little dull at times. Not enough really happened for me to rate it more than 3 stars. The best thing about the book is the Who Dun Him Inn, which is a Bed and Breakfast with a mystery dinner theater, and where every room is named and decorated after a famous mystery detective. I really liked some of the rooms, like the Sherlock Holmes room and the Miss Marple room, but others, like the Magnum P.I. room seemed a little cheesy.

I'm mildly curious about where the series goes next and it's pretty good brain candy, so I will probably eventually read the next book.



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Monday, June 5, 2017

Cadáin's Watch (Storms Of Transformation Series, #3)Cadáin's Watch by Daniella Bova

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Dystopia



Michelle and Jason escaped the wreckage of their beloved hometown and are determined to live free. Though they are hunted by the totalitarian bureaucracy, they vow to resist oppression no matter the cost.

Cadain's Watch is a Christian dystopia set in our world. I must admit that I don't read a lot of dystopian novels so I'm probably not the best audience for this book, but I did end up enjoying it a good bit. This is also the third book in a trilogy and though I wasn't lost at all story-wise, I did feel a certain disconnect from the characters that I don't think would have been the case had I read the first two books.

There is a pretty large cast of characters here, but the story line mainly revolves around Michelle and Jason who are in hiding, with Michelle's brother Brad being a very close second. While the story revolves around both Jason and Michelle I felt like Michelle didn't really get enough page time. I really would have liked it better if she and a couple of the other women in the book had been more actively involved in things instead of being sort of background characters for most of the book, but this is the third book in the series and that may have happened in the previous two.

The story got a bit wordy and slightly repetitive at times. I also personally would have preferred less cursing, name calling, and smoking in the book as those things don't appeal to me, but for the most part the writing was pretty solid, and the characters were interesting. There are a lot of nostalgic type things from the 70s and 80s in this book, from cars to music to cologne. GTOs, Firebirds, Led Zepplin, Springsteen, Drakkar Noir (sorry but that cologne reminds me of a jerk I dated once. I never want to smell it again! Haha.) And a few that are older than that, like Elvis. I enjoyed this stuff to a point. I felt like it would have been nice to include some more modern things in the mix as well since we are talking about the not so distant future from where we are now, but I did think the author included most of these things in the story in a way that felt right. She was good at writing the male characters and the things they liked and were interested in; better I think than she was at writing the female ones at times

This being a Christian novel, it involves a lot of prayer and church, and even an angel. I liked the addition of the angel, Cadain to the story, but I would have liked it even better if he had taken a more active part in the events that were going on instead of mostly giving warnings. I think I was expecting something more like Castiel from Supernatural, without Castiel's flaws of course. But that's just a personal preference, probably stemming from my love of urban fantasy. There was one part however, where Cadain did get more involved and it was pretty darn good. That was one of my favorite parts of the book.

I tend to stay away from dystopian novels because they can be dark and depressing, but that is also the thing that worked in this book's favor. I think the author did a great job of conveying that feel in this story. For the most part this is a tense story with everyone wondering if they will be caught and how they are going to survive what the world has turned into. Jason is just a regular person trying to do what is right amidst the chaos that the world has become. Sometimes what is right isn't always clear in the situations he and his friends and family find themselves in. While I didn't always like the way they handled things I could understand what they were going through, and I would never want to have to be in their shoes. Some of the things that happen in this book are truly terrifying and I wouldn't want to live in that world. The bad guys-and girls-in this book were very evil and a few of them were even demon possessed. There is a certain one in this book that for some reason I kept picturing as a cross between Ursula the sea witch and a certain politician that will go unnamed here. I have to giggle to myself a little every time I think of that.

If you like Christian fiction that features the Catholic religion and dystopian fiction you might like this one.

Thanks to the author Daniella Bova for giving me a copy of this book to review.



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The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen, #2)The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



Princess Wilhelmina is ready for her crown, but declaring herself queen means war.

Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter.


The Mirror King had all the elements I love in a fantasy; soaring highs, a few heartbreaking lows, tough moral decisions, masked vigilantes, some romance, and even a map. While the magic and how it worked wasn't all that detailed, and we've seen this type of story before in several other fantasy novels, (the wild magic escaping a barrier and ruining the land kind of thing) I honestly didn't care. This was a perfect conclusion to the duology, and while I'm happy this didn't get dragged out as a trilogy, I do feel like I need more Black Knife!

If you read this duology I recommend reading the short prequel stories between book one and book two. There are four of them and they offer some insight into Prince Tobiah and Black Knife that you don't get in the books.



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Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen, #1)The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



When Princess Wilhelmina was a child, the Indigo Kingdom invaded her homeland. Ten years later, Wil and the other noble children who escaped are ready to fight back and reclaim Wil’s throne. To do so, Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate the Indigo Kingdom palace with hopes of gathering information that will help them succeed.

But Wil has a secret—one that could change everything.


This ended up being one of my favorite YA fantasies. What can I say, I love reading fantasy about displaced royalty, spies, and vigilante heroes with secret identities. The Orphan Queen certainly isn't anything new as far as high fantasy goes but I still found it completely enjoyable. So I just plain loved everything about this book, even if a lot of it has been done before. For me there was never a dull moment. The characters were great. I loved everything about Wilhelmina. The parts when she interacted with Black Knife set my heart to fluttering every time. I guessed Black Knife's identity early on, and most readers probably will but that didn't ruin the book for me. That ending though was devastating. It was truly one of the worst cliffhangers ever! If you enjoy YA fantasy and you're looking for a fantasy that includes some romance then this one might be for you. Just make sure you have the next book readily available.



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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The WindowThe Window by Jeanette Ingold

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal



Mandy survived the terrible accident that killed her mother, but she was left blind and alone. Now she lives with relatives she doesn't know, attends a new school, and tries to make friends--all the while struggling to function without sight.

Her unpredictable life takes its strangest turn when she begins to hear the oddest things through the window of her attic room. In fact, what she hears--and seems to "see"--are events that happened years ago, before she was even born. . . .


I enjoyed this book. The main character, Mandy loses her mother in a car accident and also loses her sight. She goes to live with relatives that she didn't know she had. While there she deals with her blindness and with meeting new friends and going to a new school.

Mandy chooses the attic room on the third floor of her aunt and uncle's old farm house and soon she begins to hear voices outside her window that no one else can hear. I thought this would be on the creepy side, but it isn't creepy at all. The paranormal elements are like visions of the past. The window in Mandy's room is sort of a portal that lets her see back in time even though she is blind.

This wasn't a very long book, but it was a sweet story and I liked Mandy even though at first she could be a little prickly and grumpy. I thought it was realistic considering her situation and it wasn't overdone to the point that she pitied herself too much. I could sympathize with her instead of find her annoying. The friends that she makes in Hannah and Ted were also nice touches to the story and I was glad to see that there were no mean girls or high school bullies included in this book.

I liked the development of her relationship with her aunt and uncles and how she learned to trust them and let them help her. She learned that sometimes it's ok to admit that everything isn't alright.



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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Once Upon a ScandalOnce Upon a Scandal by Julie LeMense

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance



Caught up in a scandal of her father's making, Lady Jane Fitzsimmons is now an outcast in the society that once prized her. So when Lord Benjamin Marworth offers to help redeem her good name, she leaps at the chance.

Too bad his plan requires her very public demise.


This was an ok if predictable read. I couldn't give it more than 3 stars because the plot was somewhat ridiculous and unbelievable. I did enjoy the spy bit, even though it was rather far-fetched. As for the rest of the plot, the same old story line was used that has been used over and over where the characters fall for each other when they don't want to because for whatever self-imposed reason they can't be together. I thought the reason in this case was silly and didn't make much sense. Of course we all know they will get together in the end.



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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)Skin Game by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy



Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Isn't that the way it always is for Harry?

This is simply the best urban fantasy there is. 15 books into this series and I am not even a little bored with it, nor am I tired of reading about Harry Dresden. I loved that Michael was back in this one and that Harry seems to be almost back to himself again after the events of the last three books. The visit with Michael and Maggie were long over-due. There is also Mab to contend with and the Denarians are back too.

Bob and Butters were both awesome in this book and I can't wait to see what happens with the new spirit and how Bob might react to it. I also am really impatient to see what comes next after that little scene at the hospital with Murphy. And can Harry please, please have a home in the next book?

This could be the best book out of the whole series, but there were a couple of others that I loved just as much. This book moved me in a way that most urban fantasy doesn't. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Hurry up Mr. Butcher!



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