Review: “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J Maas

A review by Amanda.

Nineteen year old Feyre is the sole provider for her family. Her father is unable to work after losing the family’s fortune and his merchant business in a risky venture. Feyre’s two older sisters seem content to live off of what meager rations and coins her hunting brings in, while giving only bitterness and indifference in return. Feyre is accustomed to burying her hurt and anger under a mask of ice and is marking time until her sisters can be married off to become someone else’s burden. She longs to be free of her responsibilities but a vow made to her dying mother keeps her stuck in place.

Everything changes when Feyre hunts too close to the border between her human village and Prythian, a land of myth and magic ruled by faeries. Retribution comes in the form of Tamlin, a powerful faerie lord with a cold, secretive demeanor who gives Feyre a choice between death or captivity. She chooses to become his prisoner to live out her life in Prythian in hopes that escape might someday be an option. She does not expect to enjoy the beauty of Tamlin’s estate,nor to develop friendships with the faeries who reside there. She does not expect that the real danger of Prythian may be one that isn’t from the legends with which she is familiar.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a beautiful reimagining of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. The inspiration is clear while reading, but Feyre’s story is uniquely her own. Feyre is a wonderful protagonist. She is rough around the edges, distrusting of everyone and everything, and incredibly stubborn. Her strengths and weaknesses are rounded out, making her into a whole person. At no point is she a damsel in distress, although she is put into dangerous situations, some of which require help from others for her to survive.

Romance has a natural progression in this story, and is given enough weight to feel real, but not so much that it overshadows everything else. The world-building is seamless and beautiful. The plot is character-driven, and perfectly paced. Supporting characters are well-rounded and given plenty of agency, although there is a lack of diversity in both ethnicity and sexual orientation. Future books may address this issue. There is some violence in this story but nothing terribly graphic. There are a couple of consensual sexual encounters, as well as some non-consensual touching and kissing (again, not too graphic), but without compromising the integrity of the story or the characters. Fans of the author’s other series Throne of Glass and fans of authors Cinda Williams Chima, Marissa Meyer, and Cassandra Clare may enjoy this book. Book two, A Court of Mist and Fury has been released in hardcover. The third book, A Court of Wind and Ruin, will be released on May 2nd.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “At First Blush” by Beth Ellyn Summer

Review:

A review by Amanda.

At seventeen, Lacey Robbins has her future all planned out. She has spent years developing LaceyBlushes, her makeup tutorial channel on YouTube, although her romantic life has suffered a bit because of it. Her dedication has earned Lacey a coveted summer internship at On Trend, an online magazine. The internship could help Lacey reach her goals of finding sponsors for her channel and landing a contract with Glass Cube, a marketing and talent management company for YouTube. Life is looking bright for Lacey as well as her best friend Cynth who has the chance to intern for a late night show across the street. In a bid to help Lacey let some romance into her life, Cynth makes a bargain with her – she will accept the internship with the late night show if Lacey will flirt with hot guys at On Trend. Lacey reluctantly agrees, if only to ensure that Cynth takes the job. Little does Lacey know, the hottest guy at On Trend turns out to be their surprise guest editor and cover feature, musician Tyler Lance, whose reputation as a narcissistic party boy does not impress her. Add in a sponsorship from a subpar makeup company, family stress, and the struggle to keep her fans happy, and Lacey may have to reevaluate her life plan.

At first glance, this book may appear to be superficial and silly, like just another frilly story about a teenage girl falling for the cute boy. By the end of chapter one, however, Lacey has shown her potential to be a fully realized, multidimensional character. Her passion for makeup is not borne from a desire to simply look pretty; she has a natural eye and a deep appreciation for presentation and aesthetics. Lacey has found a way to turn her love of beauty into a profitable career, and she has sacrificed other aspects of a well-rounded life to make it happen. She has a genuine enjoyment of the process as well, from choosing the tutorials, to staging the background, filming, and interacting with her subscribers. While many adults consider teenaged girls to be silly and inconsequential, Lacey showcases the reality that girls can have ambition and goals beyond dating and boys. While there is romance in this story, it doesn’t dominate the plot. It is balanced nicely with both obstacles and pleasant surprises, and serves more as a metaphor for unexpected disruptions to even the best laid plans. The supporting characters have a realistic vibe and provide both drama and relief in Lacey’s life. There are some very minor cliché aspects, mostly regarding the romantic drama, and this is not a book that is full of dramatic plot twists but that does not take away from the enjoyment of the story. This is the first book from author Beth Ellyn Summer, and I will happily read future books.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Final Girls” by Mira Grant

Review- Final Girls by Mira Grant

A review by Amanda.

I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Doctor Jennifer Webb has invented a new therapeutic treatment, which utilizes proprietary virtual reality technology to help people heal psychological injuries. Clients are placed in special pods, induced to deep sleep, and given carefully monitored injections. Technicians run a dream-like scenario through the VR program, which the client experiences as reality. Each scenario is tailored to the client, to help resolve their specific issues.

Esther Hoffman is a journalist who has made her career by debunking pseudo-science. Due to tragic circumstances in her own past, involving fraudulent regression therapy, Esther is out to prove that Doctor Webb’s work is phony at best; at worst it could be dangerous. Jennifer is determined to prove the safety and viability of her therapy and Esther reluctantly agrees to go through the process, to experience it firsthand. Things do not exactly go as planned, in either reality.

This is a novella written by Mira Grant, which is the pseudonym of best-selling author Seanan Maguire. It’s length does not diminish the horror aspects, thankfully. Readers get just enough insight into the main characters to care about their fates. Industrial espionage, murder, and supernatural elements mingle to make a perfectly horrifying tale. The science behind the therapy is explained in a way that feels natural and easy to understand, which is not always the case in science fiction. There are several delightful twists, and the ending is unexpected perfection. Seanan Maguire has also written the Newsflesh trilogy, a horror series, under the Mira Grant pseudonym.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Beauty and the Book Boyfriend” by K.M. Galvin

BOOK TOUR Review:

A review by Brit.

Bellamy Strong has it all. She’s the author of a bestselling series, and she’s about to embark on an epic book tour/road trip with her best friend (who also happens to be her assistant and publicist). It’s a bit surreal that this all happened because of the book series she wrote in high school. Her social anxiety and self-image as a “nerdy girl” have made her feel like an awkward person to this day. Though she’s going to have to get over that soon when she meets Caleb—the tall, golden and handsome man who’s accompanying her on the road trip. He’s being paid to pose as her protagonist’s love interest, i.e. the character she created to be her image of the perfect man.

Caleb is a model, but not the kind of model you would expect him to be. He’s gorgeous but also acutely aware of how he’s perceived by everyone around him. His attraction to Bellamy is first fostered by a desire to protect her from her own social anxiety. But as time goes on, he truly admires Bellamy’s work at such a young age and can’t believe she doesn’t regard herself as highly as everyone else who knows her. The result is a detour from the romance-as-self-esteem stereotype that can happen when the main character is painted as an ugly duckling. Caleb’s affection for Bellamy grows alongside her coming to terms with her own social anxiety. It inspires him to show off his own nuance.

The plot was against the grain for a romance book, especially for an unlikely lover plot. There were moments where I didn’t truly buy the extent of Caleb’s physical lust for her. The “I love you” moment also felt like the author wanted it to happen but it wasn’t natural to the characters. But Caleb and Bellamy’s buildup and the head-over-heels nature of it all felt very natural. Every character has something to like about them, and the road trip nature of the story worked very well for getting to know them. Galvin has built a very natural relationship that I hope will come back in future books.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review- Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by K.M. Galvin

About the Book

Title: Beauty and the Book Boyfriend

Author: K.M. Galvin

Genre: Contemporary Romance

When Bellamy Strong started writing, it wasn’t with the intention of becoming the next phenomenon. It was…to be blunt she had no friends. School is rough on the anti-social. It’s even harder publishing your books and the world decides it wants a piece of you.

Now her series is ending and her publisher is demanding she show up for her fans. End her reclusive persona. A three month, worldwide book tour dressed as Makyla, the lead character in her book. As for Maxsen, the love interest, her fans pick model Caleb Pace to play the role during a casting contest. No big deal right?

What happens when your fantasy comes to life and turns out better than you imagined?


**Recommended for ages 18 and up**

Author Bio

K.M. has a coffee addiction that’s just begging for an intervention and an obsession with music that borders on unhealthy. She’s undefeated in the Office trivia and looking for her own Ron Swanson while she writes. The entire Twenty-Something series is now available.

Links

Twitter: @kelsiegalvin
Instagram: @authorkmg
Website: http://kelsiegalvin.wix.com/kmgalvin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7750593.K_M_Galvin
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/K.M.-Galvin/e/B00I80Z2JI

Preorder on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJ7Y6MT/

Book Excerpt:

Growling under my breath, I bend down and begin shoving my stuff back into my bag.

“Here, you forgot this,” a deep voice says from behind me. Still crouched, I spin on the balls of my feet and immediately fall flat on my ass when I see who’s behind me.

Standing above me is Max. My Max. But that’s not possible, right? Maybe I’m having a psychotic break; the stress of the series is causing me to hallucinate.

Max bends down, bringing us to eye level. His face is millimeters from mine. He lets out a breath and it washes over me. Actual breath. From his lungs. In. My. Face. I gulp in air, finally able to breathe, and that’s a little better. I blink.

“Huh?” I croak. Brilliant.

“I said you forgot this,” he responds, his voice filled with laughter as he waves a tampon in front of my face like a magic wand.

Goddammit, it’s a super.

My face fills with so much heat I’m surprised it doesn’t singe my eyebrows straight off. Jumping to my feet, I scrutinize him carefully. He follows my movements, standing to his full height, and holy hell he’s tall.

At least a foot taller than my 5’4.” Just like I’d imagined. His hair is a dark auburn, so dark it looks like spilled blood at midnight; so dark it looks black until the sun hits it. His eyes are honey-brown, almost supernatural in their color.

It’s supposed to be unreal because he’s not real. What the frick?!

His face looks as if it’s carved from granite. In fact, every inch of him is defined. Light golden skin is stretched tightly over his muscles, and even though he is wearing a loose work out tank and track pants, I can tell he’s hard all over. I can tell because that’s how I wrote him. I’ve known him for almost ten years now.

“Are you ok?” he asks, his eyes crinkling at the corners with concern.

So many thoughts and words, too bad they’re all trapped in my throat. My hand rises on its own violation and… I poke him.

I poke his chest.

I touch him.

Holy effing shit!

“Oh my God!” I whisper-yell. Am I dreaming? I pinch myself hard and yelp. Nope, I’m awake. “Oh my God. This is not happening!”

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Review: “The Mediator Book 1: Shadowland” by Meg Cabot

Review: “The Mediator Book 1: Shadowland” by Meg Cabot

A review by Vanessa.

Susannah Simon has a special gift. Well, she wouldn’t call it a gift, really, because it certainly comes with its obligations. Namely, the requirement that she speak to and help out all of the dead people whom she can see. As much as she would prefer to ignore them and be a normal high school sophomore, their reasons for hanging around sometimes interfere with her life; and her life has enough interference already. Her mother has married a really nice guy named Andy, and although Suze approves of him for her mom she’s not so happy about the moving from New York to Carmel, CA. Or being stuck with three new annoying stepbrothers, and changing schools, and leaving her one and only friend behind. What’s worse is that her new home has an unwanted guest residing in her bedroom. His name is Jesse, and he was so obviously young, handsome, with six-pack abs, lovely dark eyes, and gorgeous hair when he died. Suze doesn’t like having him as a distraction when she is trying to adjust to all the changes. But he is not the only distraction she finds.

Suze is startled to find several surprises waiting for her at her new high school. There is Heather, the very angry and dangerous dead girl haunting her locker. Then there is Father Dominic, the school’s principal, who it turns out is a mediator just like her! Suze doesn’t know what to think about meeting someone like her for the first time ever, and fitting in with other kids at the school. It seems like things might be ok in her new life. But Heather has some very dark revenge to enact and Suze is just getting in her way. Plus her youngest new stepbrother, a sweet and super smart kid who Suze actually likes, seems to know way more than he is saying. She’s always taken care of things all on her own, but this time it might be too much for her. Can she stop Heather, and protect the people in her life that she is really starting to care about?

As always, Meg Cabot delivers a wonderfully well told story of young life, but this time with a supernatural twist. Her famous Princess Diaries series may have put her on the map as an author but this series showcases her ability write in the paranormal genre as well. Her characters are totally engaging, and utterly realistic. The supporting characters fit right into all the expected tropes, but at the same time each of them holds their own interest for the reader. They might be typical, but they are so great to read it just doesn’t matter. Suze is both a “typical high school girl” and a very unique character. She struggles with school, friends, boys, raging hormones, and annoying brothers. She thinks about fashion and clothes, and what it would be like to be kissed.  But in between all that she struggles with suppressing her own emotions to accommodate the happiness of her mother, the ever present influence of death, the moral implications of forcing a ghost to cross over unwillingly, and the guilt that comes with being forced to lie to her family and friends for their own good. She also harbors a quick temper and some violent tendencies that make her an ever more interesting character. The only drawback to this book would be that some of the stereotypes might be embraced a bit too willingly. But even then, the characters cannot be described as boring or one dimensional. I love this series, and I would recommend it to young, and adult readers alike.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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