Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.



3.5/5 STARS

I struggle with reviewing this book only because of it's pace. As much as I loved the royal premise and fantasy elements, I just could not get over how slow the story was... It's not the fact that the book was 450 pages. Its the fact that in all those pages, barely anything happened. Cut the page count in half, delete repetitive scenes, and erase the over detail and this book would have been amazing. I'm afraid the Author just overdid it. 

While the scenic descriptions added to the overall feel of the book, I did not need to hear about the water 10 times. I also didn't need to know everyone's every move. I like mystery in my stories and with this one you get burdened by each character's inner battles. You also get a major twister that will make you scratch your head and think wth? I'm not sure where it came from or if I missed hints leading up to it, but it blindsided me and I was confused to say the least. Assassin... Prince... ? 

Besides the tedious overkill, I enjoyed the love triangle and the dialogue. With that being said... I needed MORE dialogue. When the characters interacted the pages flew by. I was intrigued by attitudes and consumed by the passion of words. I loved the interaction between all of the characters. I really connected to the story as I read their conversations. The dialogue is sparse though... As stated before it's a lot of first person emotional thoughts and feelings. It didn't kill the story for me, but it didn't make it any better either. 

I think I struggle with this one because I've read so many similar reads... Can I say this one stands out? No. Can I say I'll read the sequel? Yes. I liked where the story was going and still have a cravings that need met. I need to know what happens to Rafe and Lia. Kaden could go MIA though. His character is meh at most. 

All in all. It was a slow read that pulled you away from reality and dropped you into a high fantasy world with lots of descriptions. I liked the plot and am interested in the romance. I recommend it to readers that like slow build stories with a intricate fantasy world.

Losing Gabriel by Lurlene McDaniel

This emotionally-charged novel about three high school seniors who in the midst of planning their futures after high school are instead faced with present circumstances that force them to grasp what it means to make choices, take responsibility, and truly become an adult.
Lani Kennedy has dreamed of becoming a nurse since her cousin Arie died of leukemia. Nothing will stop her from getting into the local nursing program.

Dawson Burke hasn’t dealt with his mom’s death, and he’s angry at his dad for moving them to Windemere right before senior year. He grudgingly accepts that he must wait till graduation before he leaves.

Sloan Quentin can belt out a song and knows that her band is her ticket to fame and fortune. When she discovers that her boyfriend—the band’s lead guitarist—is cheating on her, she finds comfort—and revenge—in someone else’s arms.

When the lives of Lani, Dawson, and Sloan become entangled in unexpected ways, reality hits harder than anyone could have imagined.



Thank you Penguin & Random House Kids for the ARC! 

Losing Gabriel wasn't at all what I expected. I think in the back of my brain I expected the cliche contemporary read with a roller coaster romance and an immature plot. However, McDaniel gave us a complex story with twists and turns, emotional turmoil, life struggles, and heart ache. The premise felt very mature and the overall outcome was quite beautiful. 

Lani, Dawson, and Sloan... They all went to school together yet never knew how much their lives would intertwine. The book starts with a brief intro to each character and then focuses on the romance between Sloan and Dawson. She wants to be a rockstar. He has college plans. All that changes though when something big happens between them. Eventually that something big tears them apart only to bring them together again. Enter Lani, the nursing student who finds Dawson attractive and Gabriel adorable. It is her job to protect them and when tragedy strikes her heart is shattered. It takes self exploration and forgiveness to put her back together again. 

The concept was great and overall I really enjoyed Losing Gabriel. I did however feel that the beginning and end were the strong points. The mid section was a tad slow and I didn't enjoy how the story jumped so much time. I also felt that the subject matter could be triggering to anyone who suffered abandonment or infertility. Sloan is a tough character to read about. Her behavior is despicable at times and truly, I never really grew to like her. Besides those minor things I think it is suitable for readers 15+ that enjoy books about life's struggles.

I Shall be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War.

Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father's side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.

With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredubous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marraige is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, "I Shall Be Near To You" is the intimate story, in Rosetta's powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman's amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life's challenges side by side. "From the Hardcover edition."




My heart hurts and my stomach aches. This book wrecked me, but in the best way possible. When an Author can write a story that is based around a tragic historical time and make it beautiful I am held captive by ink. This book made me feel like few others have. It pulled me in and swallowed me up. My whole heart was filled with hope and compassion and towards the end the words slowly broke me. Tears filled my eyes and butterflies eased their way to my stomach. Each page led to an intense inner battle that not only affected the fictional world, but also my reality. My mood fell somber and I had to let the words carry me through the final pages.

To say Rosetta is a fierce heroine is an understatement... For the pains that she experienced and things she willingly gave up for love made her not only strong on the inside, but also on the outside. She took on a new role and did everything she could to protect the one she loved. She served her country and fought like few other women could. The relationship between her and Jeremiah is one of devotion, sacrifice, friendship, and compassion. Things weren't always simple, but together they faced it with unity. It was a classic timeless romance they shared, but also a tragic gut wrenching love. It brought commitment into focus and showed us that it's not about the time together, but how we spend that time...

The book seemed to wrap around me like a ribbon... With each page, I turned in another circle. And another. And another until finally my arms were bound at my sides with nowhere to go. It took self identity and strength to cut the ties and get the freedom I searched for. I picture that is how Rosetta felt... Wrapped up in secrets, lies, and love. Completely and utterly lost until the point of being found. I imagine that she always felt safe in the shadow of Jeremiah, but desperately needed to find herself in order to let go completely. Love grounded her, but fight is what pushed her to live.

I obviously was overwhelmed and have all kinds of personal feelings I could spill, but I will stop and leave you with this. If you love an epic love story with historical roots and inspirational ties, BUY THIS BOOK. It shall be near to your heart forever. That I can promise you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.



Wow! This Author is a mastermind at creating a unique world filled with danger, intrigue, magic, and love. I was captivated by the descriptions and intrigued by the haunting plot. This world is unlike any other I've ever read about. It's a world where hunters stalk their prey at night wearing masks of bone with intricate details in the color that represents their family. It's fantasy meets horror. It's honor meets fear.

Lea is the main character and a clipper. Her job is to murder for Safraella. She knows her poisons and takes pride in her kills. By placing a coin on the deceased' tongues she can give her victim a chance at life again. She is a kick *ss heroine with a tough persona. However, her heart is set on the forbidden. She loves a guy from another family... Each night they spend time together on the rooftops or dining in privacy. They know it's dangerous, but can't stay away. It's takes tragedy to tear them apart to the point of no return. Lea's home is burnt to the ground with her family inside. She is the lone survivor and desperately seeks revenge. She doesn't know it, but the revenge she seeks may just be against the person she loves most. Through her feelings of guilt she presses on to take down the family that took hers away. She seeks out a long lost family member to help and he is quick to shove her away. The boy living with him however is intrigued by her presence. They strike up a deal and end up using one another to get what they want. A new love blossoms, deaths occur, and in the end belief and love is their resurrection. 

This book had so many awesome points. The magic laced within the pages really brought the fantasy feel I crave. There was no choice but to leave reality behind when reading... It brought unique characters with unique stories. I was held captive by the twists and turns and couldn't wait to see how it all played out. The romance was unconventional and for that I am thankful. Talk about a swoon worthy couple. Les and Lea were the best book couple ever! There was kindness in him and fierceness in her. Together they protected one another with their lives. It was very Romeo and Juliet and I loved it. 

Overall, I can't say enough wonderful things... I enjoyed the book and how it was different from all the other fantasies I've read. I can't wait to read more by this Author.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

I lean forward, pushing my body out past the battlements. The wind plucks at my cloak, buffets against me, as if it would carry me off in flight, just like the birds or the knight's soul. Let go, it cries, I will take you far, far away. I want to laugh at the exhilarating feeling, I will catch you, it whistles seductively.

The convent has returned Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

3ish*/5 STARS

I am so on the fence with this one... It could have been my mood or the fact that my reading time was always cut short, but something just didn't click. 

The premise of an assassin nun reeking vengeance was quick to pull me in... However, I just never felt fully connected. I loved Sybella and I loved Beast, but I did not like them together. While I felt the chemistry at times, for the most part I felt more committed to Sybella & Tephanie. I know it's crazy wanting a f/f romance, but after Sybella fleed d'Albret's home I found my heart so conflicted. I thought there were real feelings there and then she just walked away as if Tephanie never existed. Maybe I read into it all wrong... I don't know. There was just intimacy and gentleness between them and I felt like that was the kind of relationship Sybella deserved. While Beast was kind and gentle in his own way, I thought Sybella deserved more. She lived such a heart wrenching life that I wanted her to find comfort and safety.  Maybe that is what she found with Beast, but something was missing for me. I started to feel the relationship bloom towards the end, but it wasn't enough to convince me. There was a lot of talk about Beast being ugly... Where was the talk of his ugliness making him beautiful? Ugh my heart is so torn. Why must Sybella and Beast be together. I need them in their own books.

Obviously, you can tell that I'm conflicted. The first half of the book I was committed to one thing and then BAM Beast is the new focal point and I'm left wanting to go back to the beginning. This review isn't much help so I will leave you with this... The plot was interesting, the character building was intriguing, and of course the story was well written. My issues were with expectations. I wanted one thing, but that was not Sybella's destiny I suppose. Oh well, this series is still one of my favorites and I will continue onto book 3. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.



"Guilt is a hunter.
I was it's hostage."

Salt to the Sea brought focus to an historic event that deserves the attention of every person in the world. On January 30, 1945, 9,400 lives were taken when their ship to "freedom" was struck by torpedoes and sunk. That is the most human loss in a single ship sinking in history; So why haven't we heard of it before? Why has this important piece of history been wrapped in darkness for so long? I'm not sure, but Ruta Sepeteys brought light to the event with her intricate poetic words and did it the justice it deserved. When I think of this Author I think of what a mastermind she is at bringing history into our lives and making it the present. She weaves epic moments of tragedy and uses words to teach us things we ought to know. Her stories are so potent that sometimes I feel they will swallow me up whole. This book was no different... It was a gut wrenching story of war struggles, history, hope, death, desperation, and love. 

Their were four main characters...
Joana, the nurse.
Emilia, the pregnant polish girl. 
Florian, the mysterious boy with an important mission.
& Alfred, the psychopath sailor that I honestly didn't care for. 

Their lives overlap when they seek out on their personal missions... Emilia encounters Florian and looks to him as a hero. She feels he is vital to her survival so she follows him and forces her presence in his life. When they come across a group of refugees they aren't sure who to trust, but quickly take an interest in the leader Joana. For she is the glue to the group... She mends their wounds. gives encouragement, and shows care when it is needed most. The group consists of a wandering boy, a knowledgeable shoe maker, a whiny giantess, and a blind woman. They each have a brutal story, but have chosen to come together in hopes of finding the happy ending they all crave. Through heart ache and sickness they make their way to the boat that suggests freedom. No one could guess that their fates lie within a steel prison, but it does and quickly, that prison turns into their death sentence. 

This book was epic. I couldn't turn the pages quick enough. I became emotionally invested in the characters and took each word to heart. The writing was exquisite and I was a huge fan of the short chapters that punched a lot of impact. After each character's part I was anxious for another chapter. It really pulled me into the story and left me begging for more. The desperation in the story was one for the books. The emotion seeped from the pages and romance hid deep within the paragraphs. The lies flowed freely and the brutal reality slowly crept in. I don't think I've ever encountered a more well rounded book... It's definitely a top read for 2016. Everyone MUST read it! 

*Even if you don't like history I think you will still enjoy this book. There was a romance that was quite contagious. I loved rooting for their happily ever after.*

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.



Oh Heck Yes! It's not often I find a sequel that lives up to book one, but this one exceeded all wants, needs, & must haves. I couldn't put it down. I was instantly pulled into Shazi's world from page one and didn't want to let go after the final page. It's safe to say that this one goes on my top reads of 2016 list! If you love mystery, magic, beautiful romance, and royalty in your reads then you MUST pick this one up. 

The Rose and the Dagger started with Khalid and Shazi apart. He was trying to mend his kingdom and she was trying to survive being trapped with strangers she didn't trust. Both missed one another, but knew they had to do their part in order for them to reunite. Shazi began to explore her magic carpet more and realized that she must follow her heart in order to get her happily ever after. With the help of a friend she is able to grasp her magic from within and find a solution to Khalid's curse. It is then that he gets pulled into her magical world and together they seek to destroy a book that controls everything. There is war, lies, and tragedy, but what love story doesn't have turmoil before beauty? It was all consuming, frustrating at times, and just flat out amazing.

As I sit here thinking about it I am baffled by the intricate plot turns and flawless writing style. To find a book that captures the reader is one thing, but this book held my attention through every word on every page. There was a magic feeling that seeped from the pages and it was quite contagious. I wanted to wrap my arms around the book and never let go. My heart was consumed with love for each character and my mind was entranced by the pivotal moments of the story. I was eager to figure out what happened, but also a tad timid when approaching the final page. I didn't want it to end and even after the final word I still craved more. It was a beautiful story with so many high points. I applaud the Author and guarantee that this series will get the attention it deserves. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you do. It will make you love reading and it will pull you out of any book rut you are in.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.

But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck's death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck's reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea's past has become shrouded in mystery, and it's only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle - curious, disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.
Whatever that past holds.

Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . .

3.5/5 STARS

Compared to the others in this series I found Bitterblue to be a tad long... At times the overly detailed chapters about the past drug out and seemed over developed. The plot was still intriguing and well thought out, but I would've liked to see less pages or more intensity.  It was rich in history, had tons of mystery, but lacked that overly romantic feel that I craved. I would've liked to see more of Bitterblue and Saf, but still I found myself glued to the story and couldn't wait to see how it all turned out. 

Bitterblue captured my heart in Graceling and I was super excited to read about her life years later. She didn't disappoint. I found her to be honorable, strong, and genuine. I admired her care for those around her and envied her strength when reliving her nightmares. I enjoyed reading about her nights in the city and of course reading about her and Saf. Their connection was friendship to lovers to enemies to friends. It was hard at times to not throw the book or scream "just forgive her already" and to be honest, I'm still on the fence about how their relationship left off. I suppose it had to be that way, but the selfish part of me really wanted more! I feel like I need a sequel to know if they are reunited and if so, on what terms....

All in all it was another fantastical read by Cashore. Each time I open a book by her reality evaporates and I am swept away by a magical world with a fairy tale feel. There were things I would have liked to see different in this book, but I think by the end, I was quite satisfied. I recommend it to all readers that enjoyed Graceling, but I urge you to drop all expectations. It's a different feel with a new take on this fantasy world.