Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss


Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book Review

January 26, 2018 Book Review, Debut Author Challenge, Young Adult 16 ½

Everless by Sara Holland | 2018 Debut Book ReviewEverless by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #1
Published by HarperTEEN on January 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I’d really been looking forward to Everless. The cover is pretty cool, the premise sounded unique (although I recently watched In Time, so it’s less unique now. lol), and I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick as of late. Sadly, though, things fell a bit short for me and I wasn’t impressed. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I tend to reserve the spot of my first book of the year for a book I’m really excited about. I’m not sure if that impacted my overall opinion of the book or not, but I had a lot of expectations going in. I was excited about it, it was going to be my first book of 2018, it was going to be my first debut of 2018, etc. It was a huge letdown. It is receiving rave reviews from readers, including many of my fellow book blogger friends, so am I missing something? I don’t even know, but I am seriously confused as to why I’m one of the very few people who did not like this book.

2. So… Everless is pretty much exactly like the movie, In Time. A Goodreads user asked how similar this book is, and Sofia Frost answered the question better than I could have. Possible spoilers below, so jump to point #3 if you don’t want to be spoiled!

*Main character’s family members die, cause they run out of time.
*Main character moves to place where rich and royal live.
*Main character falls in love with rich and famous (although in the book it is not really love at that point, but I am sure in future books it will become a full love story)
*Main character gains a lot of time. (book: ofc she can not just be a regular poor kid from the country)
*Prediction: Main character would try to break the curse of blood and time- and make everyone equal.

The end.

So… yes. Very similar to In Time. And I hated the movie, too.

3. Scroll back up and read the synopsis of the book. Sounds kind of cool, right? Well… think again. It’s depressing. This book was so depressing. Everyone is a ticking time bomb, not sure exactly how much time they have left. Unless they are rich, they live in an almost constant state of panic. I could never live in this world! I’d be filled with so much anxiety. I’d be scared to sleep. I’d be scared to read or watch movies because I’d worry I’d lose track of time. I’d constantly be worried I overestimated the time I had left and just fall dead one second. I’d never be carefree or happy. Even worse, I’d be scared to fall in love because I’d have to worry about someone else’s time, and not just my own. I’d be worrying about my family and my friends. How depressing is a life like that? Not only is the world depressing, but so is the backstory of almost every single character. Why did I ever think this was going to be a fun book to read? I read to escape to a happier place, and this book needs escaping from. I’ll take my real life, thanks.

4. Jules comes from tragedy. But did it make her smart? Did it make her strong? No. She fell in love with a boy when she was 7 while working for his family, his family ruined her life, she sneaks back to their estate to make blood-irons to help save her dying father even though he’s super against it, and she still has a crush on this boy. I’m sorry, but at 17-18 I didn’t know who I had a crush on 10 years prior, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still have a crush on him. Especially after his family ruined my life and the lives of others I care about. Nope.

5. The romance…? It was barely there and added nothing to the story, but I see where things are going. No. I’m not at all on board. There’s no swoons, and I really don’t like the guy. Maybe there’s going to be a love triangle and the guy I preferred will end up with Jules, but I probably won’t ever know.

6. Something very Hunger Games happens (and not at all in a good way), and it’s totally spoilery for both this book and The Hunger Games series, so highlight the white space between the brackets if you’re curious. Needless to say, I was pretty furious. If you’re reading via email subscription or RSS reader and you don’t want to be spoiled for either book, jump ahead to point #7 because my whited-out text will only hide the spoilers if you’re reading on my blog. You’ve been warned.

[[[[[[Jules throws everything away to go to a very dangerous place to save her father’s life. He’s so so so against it, to the point of actually following her to beg her to come home. They speak for a few moments, she lies to him and tells him she will come home… all the while never actually planning to. She sends him home, lying that she will come soon. And what happens? He dies on the way home. He was so hell-bent on getting back to her that he wasted his time to try and save her instead of making sure he had enough time left for himself! SHE HAD BLOOD-IRONS WITH HER!! Why did she not give him any to ensure he would have enough time? She was literally there suffering in order to extend his life, but nope. Just like Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister Primm, only to have Primm die at the end, Jules sacrificed for her father, only to lose him anway. It’s maddening. I hate it when authors kill off the reason for a huge piece of the story. At least Katniss was amazing, though. And at least it wasn’t her fault that Primm died. Jules’s father’s death is totally her fault.]]]]]]

7. That was a much longer rant than I thought it would be, but I get madder and madder the more I think about this book. Jules is a wimpy idiot of a character. She has no street smarts, no brain, no fight in her. She has no personality whatsoever. I spent so much of the book yelling at her. By the end of Everless she has not grown at all, and I’m too exhausted to read another book so she can try to prove herself to me. And let’s be fair… every characters was flat and shapeless and boring. I wanted to smack them all.

8. So much of this plot was driven by miscommunication and pointless secrets. If the characters would just TALK to each other instead of waiting for everyone to figure it all out and find the answers themselves everything would have resolved on its own! Jules’s dad comes to the estate to warn her and instead of actually warning her in a way that makes sense he spouts out a bunch of mumbo jumbo that would have only made sense to Jules if she had already known what he was talking about. They say mankind is getting suckier and suckier at communicating with one another due to social media and texting, but these characters have neither. So what’s their excuse? When the fate of humanity rests on a teenaged girl, don’t you think the guy with all the answers could at least give them to her? That’d be too easy, though. Then we wouldn’t have a trilogy.

9. The characters and the world were underdeveloped. There was nothing keeping me there except my desire to actually finish a book so I didn’t start out the year already behind on my Goodreads goal.

10. This might be the most critical piece of my review… but the writing just wasn’t good. And I feel so bad for saying that. It’s easy to not like a story. We all have our likes and dislikes, and that’s widely accepted. All authors know that the story or the characters or the world, etc. that they wrote will not be loved by all. But I always feel so horrible for saying I didn’t like the writing because that removes the story completely and has to do with the actual words instead of the details. But I just didn’t like the writing. It wasn’t memorable or filled with pretty details. There were no quotes I highlighted to save and re-read later.

All in all, I could not get past the fact that this felt like a copy of the movie In Time. Immediately I started looking for all the similarities, which just frustrated me to no end. And I really think that if it had been amazing I would have been ok with those similarities. I hated the movie, so it would not have taken much for me to like it more. lol. But I just didn’t. It was depressing and underdeveloped and frustrating. I’m sorry to say that I would not recommend it to anyone, unless they were looking for In Time fanfic… and is that even a thing?


Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

December 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewChasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4
Also in this series: One Snowy Night
Published by Avon on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

I think it’s worth recognizing and celebrating my very first full-length novel by Jill Shalvis! I’ve read a handful of her Christmas novellas, and I decided that it was finally time to settle in for a longer novel and really discover what all the fuss is about. I own all but one of the books in the Lucky Harbor series and all the Heartbreaker Bay books that have been released thus far, so I really haven’t had any excuses to not read them yet. The synopsis of Chasing Christmas Eve really grabbed me, and it ended up being a really good choice! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I wasn’t too excited about reading a Christmas book that takes place in California. I lived in California for 6 years and it’s a beautiful place, so this isn’t personal, Californians! I just love snow in my Christmas novels, and that obviously was not going to happen here. Colbie is nuts for fleeing New York at Christmas, but I digress.

2. The lack of snow didn’t take away from the festiveness of the book, though! There were Christmas lights and enough warm fuzzies to make me forget that there wasn’t snow swirling around outside.

3. Colbie is a verrrrry successful YA author, and that’s the main reason I was drawn to this book! I love YA, and I love many YA authors, so Colbie immediately felt like my friend. I thought of her the way I think of any of my favorite YA authors. She’s so sweet and down to earth, not to mention incredibly nice. She’s dealing with writer’s block and she’s under a ton of stress from that, plus the fact that her entire family depends on her for every little thing. I love that she took the plunge and ran away to take care of herself. She’s also really funny and has this bright personality that made me smile. I would totally be friends with her.

4. I loved nerdy Spence. He’s a hot, rich, reclusive genius. But he’s not rich in a snobby way. He takes care of a homeless man that lives outside the building! He keeps to himself and lives his own life, and when he needs a breather he walks dogs! I mean, come on. He’s a bit of a workaholic, which has sealed off the part of himself that can have a love life. But all it takes is the right girl, right?

5. I love how Colbie and Spence meet for the first time. The description mentions a meet cute, and that’s exactly what we were given with this book. I’m not even going to say how it happens because I don’t want to spoil it. Just know that a dog is involved.

6. The romance is very sweet, regardless of the secrets they are both keeping from each other. What was supposed to be a quick little fling turns into something more than that, and forces Colbie and Spence to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship.

7. I liked the supporting characters a lot, but can tell it would have really been great if I’d read the other three books in the series first so I’d know them a little better. The book works fine as a standalone, but I could have used a few more details on Spence and Elle especially.

All in all, this was a very fun Christmas romance! I loved watching Colbie and Spence fall in love and work through what being in love means to them. I’m definitely a fan of Jill Shalvis, so yay! It would have really sucked if I’d come out of this hating her and already owning a million of her books. I’m excited to read more of the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series and then start working on Lucky Harbor!

Which Jill Shalvis book is your absolute favorite?


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book Review

November 7, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book ReviewAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I really love the movie You’ve Got Mail, so when I heard that Alex, Approximately is a You’ve Got Mail kind of story I was sold. And with the little references to one of my favorite movies throughout the story, I wasn’t disappointed by the comparison. This book was sweet and light and fluffy and so perfectly teen. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too old for stories like these, but then one really grabs me and brings nostalgic feelings of young love and teen crushes and I decide not to write them off just yet. That’s kind of what this story did for me. It’s quirky and cute and adorably awkward.

Bailey avoids uncomfortable situations at all costs. She’s a film geek who develops a thing for a boy she meets in an online forum named “Alex”, who lives on the other side of the country. But then she moves to California. To his town. And it’s like, “NOOO AWKWARD!” Instead of telling Alex she’s moved, she just sneaks around trying to find him without him knowing there’s even a possibility she might. She sees a cat on the boardwalk ad is convinced it’s the same cat Alex wrote to her about. She keeps thinking she finds him, only to realize that she’s wrong. There’s so much excitement and insecurity and curiosity and shenanigans throughout her search, and it’s cute because it’s the kind of thing I would do. lol. All the while, she gets a job working at this really weird museum with a guy named Porter that she cannot STAND. As the book’s official summary so rudely spoils for us, Porter is actually Alex. And it’s kind of hilarious watching these two crazy kids work through all of that. At times I kept thinking, “Duh, you two silly little ones! Why can’t you see the signs!?”

All in all, this was such a cute little book.My biggest complaint is that we knew immediately that Porter was Alex. The publisher really should not have made the You’ve Got Mail comparison and not told us who Porter really was because it would have been more fun to work things out and discover things with Bailey. It really took me out of the story. But oh well. The damage has been done. Regardless, it’s fun to watch them figure it out even though it got annoying at times watching from the sidelines already having all the answers. Jenn’s writing is delightful, and I enjoyed the banter between Porter and Bailey. Definitely give it a shot if you enjoyed Kasie West’s P.S. I Like You. That’s another cute contemporary with similar feelings.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book Review

November 3, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | Book ReviewThe Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on July 19, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 340
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

I really, really love mysteries and I love them even more if they are set at sea. So obviously the cover and the synopsis had me sold, not to mention that our heroine is a travel journalist sent to write about a luxury cruise on a small, elite, incredibly expensive vessel during its maiden voyage. The Woman In Cabin 10 is suspenseful, exciting, chilling, and completely enthralling. While trying to write my review I realized I don’t want to stick with my usual format of bolding my points and elaborating on them. I just want to list things out instead, so here we go!

What I liked:

  • We start off with a bang. We immediately learn that Lo has crippling anxiety, which was very well written. In the beginning of the story, someone breaks into her house while she is there. Understandably, she is already on edge and quite paranoid when she boards the ship and soon hears something horribly wrong happen in the cabin next to hers on night.
  • The setting. The Aurora has 10 cabins, with only a handful of guests (20 at most) and a few common areas. It’s lavishly decorated and sounds super cozy and intimate. The guests are sailing the freezing Norwegian fjords, which is a huge bucket list item for me. I’m so jealous of the beautiful scenery they saw. Northern Lights, people!!
  • The mystery. One night, Lo hears a scream followed by a splash. She sees blood on the balcony next to hers, but the person who was supposed to be in that cabin never boarded. But Lo met the woman in cabin 10 the day before. So what is even going on? What caused the splash? Whose blood was that on the balcony? And why are there more questions than answers? Lo’s anxiety is blamed as the investigation proves no help, so she’s left completely helpless on a little boat in freezing waters, surrounded by guests and crew that do not believe her and that she cannot trust.
  • The atmosphere. As amazing as the Aurora sounds, it turns into a very creepy place once murder is suggested. Things felt very ominous, unsettled, and unsafe as Lo laid in bed at night trying to sleep or as she walked the halls looking for answers.
  • There’s a twist that I wasn’t expecting at all.
  • I didn’t know who did it until the end.

What I didn’t Like: 

  • The characters. Lo exhausted me. Her anxiety and paranoia, while very well done and very realistic, kind of wore me out because I never got to know anything else about her. She became a condition instead of a character, and I could not separate the two and see who she truly was. She also makes some silly mistakes for the sake of making the story work. And she has no backbone. The supporting characters were shells, and not very memorable or used to their fullest potentials.
  • Parts dragged a bit and slowed down at times.
  • The narrator of the book is rather long-winded and repetitive at times.
  • The resolution. The end went in a direction that was interesting, but not what I was hoping for. Things started to feel unbelievable, but not enough for me to be irritated or upset.

All in all, I really enjoyed the mystery. I tend to like the story more than the characters in mysteries like this, so the fact that I didn’t enjoy the characters didn’t bother me. I love mysteries at sea, and this one was quite entertaining. I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for an entertaining mystery.


Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee | Mini Book Review

July 28, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ½

Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee | Mini Book ReviewLove Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee
Published by Atria Books on August 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
If you loved Luckiest Girl Alive and The Girl on the Train, you’ll devour this stunning debut novel about an intense best friendship between two college girls which leads to the abrupt disappearance—and presumed death—of one and the survival of the other, who reveals the twists and turns of their relationship seven years later.

Glo never thought she’d become best friends with a girl like Cyn. Blonde, blue-eyed, and stunningly gorgeous, Cyn is the kind of girl other girls love to hate. Yet Cyn is the only person who embraces Glo when she transfers to their tiny liberal arts college in Florida, looking for a second chance to get things right after falling apart at her first-choice school. With her dark sense of humor and bad-girl ways, Cyn is captivating to a nice girl like Glo, and soon they’re inseparable.

Until they both fall for the same guy.

It’s Cyn who suggests they share Raj. Half the time he’ll be Cyn’s boyfriend, the other half he’ll be Glo’s. And for a while, everything goes smoothly. Until Glo realizes that she doesn’t know Cyn or Raj half as well as she thinks. Until Glo and Cyn’s friendship implodes while they’re studying abroad in Costa Rica. Until Cyn disappears one night, setting off a media firestorm and leaving Glo in the dark for seven long years.

Until Cyn resurfaces.

Another book that claims to be just like The Girl On the Train that so totally is NOT. This. Was. Awful. And seriously, it could have been so good! Girl goes missing in Costa Rica after being chased into the ocean by ominous men while studying abroad? And then BAM, resurfaces later? I was seriously intrigued. But this book was so unbelievably terrible that it got its slime all over me in the process.

I HATE these two girls, Cyn and Glo. They are awful awful people. I hated reading about their history and how they became friends. I hated their toxic, creepy friendship. They spent so much time doing drugs, getting drunk and high, sleeping around… one of them was a prostitute. And then they decided to SHARE a boyfriend. How gross and demented is that?? I mean, clearly he enjoyed it but seriously? I’ll never like a friend enough to let her share my boyfriend with me. It was a very weird threesome, with him using one for physical closeness and the other for emotional closeness. Until then he’s sleeping with them both and connecting with them both and they get mad at each other for connecting with him in the wrong ways. I don’t know exactly what they were expecting. Really, these two were extreme cliches to me. There are all kinds of people out there, but I think these two were specifically designed to come off as a combination of all the worst kinds.

When Cyn resurfaces things got even worse. I can’t even begin to explain how implausible this story felt to me. Everything was just so convoluted that it felt convenient, not to mention clunky and unbelievable. If I liked the two girls I might have somewhat enjoyed the story before Cyn’s return, but her return was the last nail in the coffin for me. I wish I had not finished this book. Or opened it, for that matter.


The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye | Book Review

April 17, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 3

The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye | Book ReviewThe Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #2
Also in this series: The Crown's Game
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 16, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Here I sit, broken-hearted after taking a month to read this book. Guys, I loved The Crown’s Game. LOVED it. I was so excited for this sequel and ended up having to talk myself out of DNFing an infinite number of times because I so wanted to get back there to that place of love for this world and these characters. Sadly, it didn’t happen and I’m left so disappointed that I don’t even have much to say.

I felt like I was in a different world with this book. It was dark, depressing, and to be honest… boring. I found myself skimming at multiple points due to a complete lack of interest. The Crown’s Game was magical and whimsical and light and full of color and excitement. All of these things that I loved so much were gone in The Crown’s Fate. Nikolai’s character was unrecognizable in a bad way. He went in a very heartbreaking direction that I did not get over even after all loose ends were quickly tied up into a convenient little bow at the end (seriously, that ending was a huge disappointment after everything we’ve been through). Pasha and Vika both seemed weaker than they used to, and never really did or said anything important. There was very little going on in the story, and I felt like what did happen just continued to repeat itself because there was nothing else to say. What little magic there was was just not good for me. And I did not like seeing the characters I once loved being evil and plotting against each other. The book was too long for the story, and I ended up just going through the motions by the end. Let me just say: some horrible stuff happens that any normal person would not be ok with as quickly as these characters were ok with it.

So yeah, that’s all I have to say. The only thing good I can take away from this is that there were a few glimmers of the world I loved. Evelyn’s writing is also still lovely, but I was just not happy with where the story went. I’m so SO sad, as I was highly anticipating this sequel. I will forever recommend The Crown’s Game, but will that suggest people treat it as a standalone.


Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Book Review

March 15, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Book ReviewHunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperTEEN on March 14, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

*happy sigh* Boy, did I love this book. I love Beauty and the Beast. Always have, always will. I’m pretty picky with B&B story lines because I kind of have a favorite (*cough* A Court of Thorns and Roses *cough*), but Hunted by Meagan Spooner has definitely taken a spot next to ACOTAR on my list of favorite retellings! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. This story is super unique, while still remaining true to the elements I’ve come to love from Beauty and the Beast. It felt very much like a fairy tale, but one that Meagan has made her own. She added some twists that kept me guessing!

2. I was immediately captivated by Beast and his voice. At the end of every chapter there’s a piece of his mind—what he’s thinking and feeling. He’s not just a man trapped in a beast’s body. He’s both. He refers to himself as “we” and is struggling every day to not be lost in this primal, violent creature that is trying to take over. Sometimes he’s more of one than the other. Here’s a quote from one of his sections that I just loved, and it perfectly illustrates his beautiful voice and his split personality.

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. She reminds us of what we used to be.

She reminds us of what we could be.”

Beauty’s presence in his life helps him push the beast away, but it is a constant battle that I loved witnessing. I wish I had gotten to learn more about his past. I love what I did learn, though, and I particularly love how his past was used throughout the book.

3. Things started out very slowly, but it was so worth the wait. This was partly due to the fact that Meagan’s writing is gorgeous and partly because the climax and resolution were so beautifully perfect for the characters. I got to a point where I read slower to try and savor the story. I literally didn’t want it to end.

4. I loved Meagan’s usage of Russian folklore to shape the story. Reading about “The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf” was wonderful and I’d never heard of that story before. I want to go look for it now and read it.

5. Beauty’s character is great. She’s still bookish, but also a fierce hunter. Beast captured her because he needed a strong hunter to capture the thing that would put an end to his curse. I loved this twist, and I loved the feisty, fearless heroine we got as a result.

6. Hunted is very light on the romance, but I love slow burning love stories so I was fine with this. Do I wish there had been a little more of the sweeping love story in the Disney movie? Kiiiind of (I never say no to romance), but I think the ending of Hunted is so much sweeter because of how Meagan chose to treat the romantic element. There are subtle hints of intrigue throughout the story, and I loved that. It also felt realistic and less Stockholm Syndromey than it might have otherwise (I’m not saying the Disney movie feels Stockholmy, just that there was potential for it here depending on how the author chose to write it).

7. Seriously, the writing is gorgeous.

8. The ending. *swoon*

All in all, I have found a new favorite in Hunted. I went and pre-ordered it as soon as I was finished because I need a copy to sit on my shelves that I can pet whenever I want. I really hope Meagan Spooner chooses to write more fairy tale retellings because


One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

December 17, 2016 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ★★★

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewOne Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #2.5
Also in this series: Chasing Christmas Eve
Published by Avon Impulse on November 8, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 160
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3 Stars
It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.

Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too. But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.

They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.

I love those romances where the love interests knew each other as kids (and usually hated each other) and then are brought back together by the craziness of life. I also love it when blizzards act as matchmakers and force people to develop deep bonds. And I love animals that seem to thrive when people fall in love around them. This is One Snowy Night in a nutshell, and I really enjoyed it! I was expecting it to be longer, though. The book file told me I had about 40% of the book left and BAM, it ended and gave us previews of other books by Jill (so no, this novella was not 160 pages and if I had bought it I would have felt seriously cheated). I was looking forward to more details and romance… I did feel like things were resolved super quickly, but I had so much fun with the romance and the festiveness and the small story that I did get. I liked Rory and Max individually and together, and I liked their heavier back stories and those resolutions (although Max’s grudge against Rory was silly and unfounded, so he did bug me some…). Was the romance a little fast-moving to feel realistic? Yes. But I tend to be lenient with Christmas romances so it’s ok.

This novella was my first taste of the Heartbreaker Bay series and my second Jill Shalvis book, the first of which was also a Christmas novella. I’ve decided that I like Jill and her characters, but I think I need to read her full length novels. I think they are probably stronger and more developed.


Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh | Debut Author Book Review (+ Giveaway)

June 17, 2016 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 3 ★★★½

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh | Debut Author Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh | Debut Author Book Review (+ Giveaway)Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Series: Ivory and Bone #1
Published by HarperTEEN on June 7, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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3.5 Stars
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Julie Eshbaugh’s debut novel, Ivory and Bone, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m so happy to be reviewing Julie’s unique pre-historic fantasy novel today! This is the first novel I’ve read set in the old, olden days (mammoths, people!) and I really enjoyed it. As always my main points are bolded. :)

1. This book is narrated by a boy, Kol. Already, this is a unique and refreshing change for me from the usual female narrator. Even more unique, though, is that the story is written in second person. Kol is essentially telling the story to the reader as if they were his love interest, Mya. It was super hard for me to get used to this, but once I did I found it to be very well done and fun to read… especially when I discovered why it was written this way.

2. You can tell that Julie did a lot of research on the prehistoric era for this novel, and she really brought the time period to life for me. Kol has a close encounter (or two) with some saber-toothed tigers and mammoths. We also get to read about stretching animal skins to make blankets and clothes, tribal lore, and hunting/gathering to survive. The setting and time period really was my favorite part of the book.

3. I liked Kol a lot. He’s such a good, sweet person, with a strong sense of loyalty and a good set of morals. I enjoyed his voice and his thoughts, and am so happy Julie chose to have him narrate the story.

4. I hated Mya from the very beginning, but I gradually started to like her as I learned more about her and her story. I’m still not her biggest fan, but the potential is there for me to like her more in the future.

5. The romantic aspect of the story is very minimal for the most part. The real focus was on the setting and the world of the story, which I really liked. There’s no insta-love and no love triangle. Again, yay unique and refreshing! The romance that was there was very slow burning and filled with tension, just the way I like it.

6. There are a LOT of characters in this story, and I had a little trouble keeping everyone straight. As such, I didn’t really connect with anyone but Kol. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though, since I really got to know Kol. I loved seeing everything through his eyes.

7. I think it’s worth mentioning that there’s a lot going on in this story, but really only during the second half. The first half of the book set the scene, and then things really picked up for me. Definitely hang in there if you’re feeling iffy because I really enjoyed where things ended up going. Old secrets and mysteries surface and there’s some action and suspense that had me flipping the pages as fast as I could.

8. Julie’s writing is very lovely, although some descriptions and stories were a little bit long for me at times. Even so, her writing is very flowing and she does a wonderful job of painting a picture in your mind.

Bottom line, this is a very strong, unique, refreshing read that had me truly captivated. I loved Kol’s storytelling, and I really loved the prehistoric setting. I’m excited to see where things go next!


About Julie:

Julie Eshbaugh is the author of the upcoming Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.

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Tour Schedule:

6/6: Quite the Novel Idea – Q&A
6/7: Alexa Loves Books – Review
6/8: The Forest of Words & Pages – Guest Post
6/9: Swoony Boys Podcast – Review
6/10: Avid Reader – Fashion Inspirations
6/13: The Irish Banana Review – Review
6/14: Such A Novel Idea – Guest Post
6/15: No BS Book Reviews – Review
6/16: The Book Cellar – Top 10
6/17: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review

 


The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Debut Author Book Review

June 13, 2016 Book Review, Young Adult 4 ★★★★★

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Debut Author Book ReviewThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #1
Also in this series: The Crown's Fate
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 17, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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5 Stars
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

I pretty much knew I was going to love this book when I read the synopsis and discovered that it takes place in Russia during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Combine that with two enchanters, magic, an ancient game, opulent St. Petersburg, and a forbidden love story and I was sold. I’m happy to say that The Crown’s Game was everything I had hoped for and so much more! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Skye does a wonderful job of blending history with fantasy in a way that had me convinced that this magic and the game is real, and that these enchanters really existed all those years ago. The people and the culture and the setting… it’s all very Russian. The magic just makes it all sparkle.

2. The idea of the actual Crown’s Game is brilliant, and the world-building that goes along with it is so well done. When two enchanters are born in one generation, they must battle each other in a set of magical tasks to see which one is fit to become the Tasr’s on and only enchanter. The other one dies. In this story we have Vika, a mysterious girl from a small town, and Nikolai, the best friend to the son of the Tsar (Pasha). Pasha’s birthday is coming up, so the Tsar instructs these two enchanters to engage in a magical battle to make Pasha’s birthday something special. The battle begins, and the beauty and opulence that encompasses St. Petersburg as a result of this magic is amazing. I won’t give too much away, but I absolutely must mention the intricate system of fountains and color-changing lights that fill the city’s canal system. That entire scene was beautiful, and is still my favorite in the entire book.

3. The characters are great, but I was so swept up in the magic that I never ended up caring about any of them. I know this will change in book #2, though. I know, it’s so weird that I’m allowing this. I’ve always had this rule that I must connect with at least one character in order to even finish a book. So why did I continue even though that didn’t happen this time? And why did I give it a 5-star rating? Guys, it’s like I was hypnotized. I was so captivated, so intrigued, so mesmerized, that I didn’t even notice I wasn’t connecting until I sat down to write my review.

4. I owe my feelings about this book to Evelyn’s writing. She has such a way with words, and wrote such beautiful scenes. There’s one scene that takes place on a little island that one of the enchanters created for one of their tasks. The other enchanter followed along behind and created magical benches that, when you sit on them, transport you to an exotic location where you get to hear and smell and see everything. It was a beautiful, scene, and so wonderfully written and described. I just loved it.

5. The romance is pretty non-existent in this book. There are hints of it and some somewhat unrequited love (?) going on, but it just wasn’t developed into much of anything. Again, that might change in book #2. I was ok with this because everything is so mysterious in this book that you never really know for sure what’s going to happen anyway.

6. The book moves really slowly, but that was fine with me. I did have some trouble getting into it in the beginning, but then I was hooked and I got swept away. If you find that it’s not grabbing you like you hoped, just hang in there and keep going. Let it get its hooks into you.

7. The ending pretty much slaughtered my feels. Like, what do I even do while I wait for the second book?

Overall, this was a very beautiful, magical, mysterious, and captivating tale. I loved the setting and the magic, but I loved the way in which it was written and pieced together the most. I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially after that ending!