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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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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BOOK TOUR Review: “A Bond of Venom and Magic” by Karen Tomlinson

BOOK TOUR Review: "A Bond of Venom and Magic" by Karen Tomlinson

A review by Domoni.

Diamond’s life isn’t easy. She is a half blood, half human and half fae. Unlike many half bloods, she cannot pass as one or the other and so she fits in with neither. In a world where prejudice against half bloods is strong, she has only her father and her friend Tom. Until the night the seekers found her. Sent by the Wraith Lord to kill her and steal her necklace, Diamond’s father is killed trying to save her.  Diamond is saved by Hugo and his troop of warrior Fae.  She is far from safe and far from being accepted.  Why does anyone want her dead, when half bloods matter so little?

This was a great read and an interesting story in the Fae world. The author did a wonderful job creating the characters and the world they lived in. The imagery was beautiful and the personalities distinct. Diamond is one of the more realistic female characters I have read in a long time. She is insecure and flawed with a habit of panicking. Her evolution through the story is not rushed, but flows in a manner that makes her believable and likeable.

Hugo is gruff and stern and a contradiction. He is a soldier of the queen, who hates all half bloods and is obsessed with magic. Currently he is assigned to fight under her ally the prince, to help him battle The Wraith Lord Ragor. Underneath his soldier exterior and the appearance of prejudice, he seems to be kind and loyal. And of course he is gorgeous, so how could Diamond not develop feelings for him?

I loved the evolution of this story; it did not feel like a typical fantasy with a forced love at first sight romance. The depiction of good and evil was complex and the presentation of magic was captivating. I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

I received this book as an ARC copy in exchange for a review.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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A Bond Of Venom and Magic
Karen Tomlinson
(The Goddess and the Guardians #1)
Publication date: October 14th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.

For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.

As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?

A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Guardians and The Goddess.

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Author Bio:

Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic will be released October 14th 2016.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.

About me!

As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not many…I spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didn’t rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven…(there was no Harry Potter then) As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dad’s discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Girl Within Girl” by S.P. Aruna

BOOK TOUR Review:

A review by Domoni.

Katrina is a nurse in a psychiatric hospital.  She goes about her day helping the doctors help the patients. She notices things are off, but she just ignores them, even when those things are about herself.  Cherry is a photojournalist who wants to travel the world, take pictures of famous men, and sleep with them. The rougher the sex, the more she likes it. Anisa is a spy for the government. She will use her vast abilities to take out her targets; the perfect soldier. What do these three women have in common? They all exist in one body. Now they know about each other, and the government can’t have that. Things are falling apart, they are unravelling.  With the help of  young Dr. Paisley they run and hide, hoping to be saved and in the end be healed.

This was a strange take on The Manchurian Candidate. The Cia operates in a hospital where they use extreme electroshock therapy to erase people’s minds and reprogram them. The goal is to create the  most loyal, perfect soldier. It appears they have done that with Katrina. She is completely unaware of the acts her other personalities participate in. Even when she stumbles over evidence that makes her wonder, she is programmed to ignore it.  Until she meets and falls for the new doctor.

Dr. Sean Paisley is enjoying helping patients and really enjoying getting to know the nurse Katrina. Though when he follows the prescribed protocols on the patients needing shock therapy, he starts to feel like things are not right in the hospital. Somehow he locates a file on katrina, Anisa, and Cherry. He makes sure she sees the file before he is fired and this starts them on the path of learning the truth and running for their lives.

The book had some good moments and some not so good moments. I did not like it for the first half. The characters felt cliche and the events rather implausible. The sex scenes were detailed but the wording was juvenile. As I pushed through the book, I was more interested and invested in the storyline. Though the ending was very abrupt and I don’t know if I would wait around to read the next book in this series, it did somewhat redeem itself to me. This book would appeal to fans of rough erotica and those who enjoy the 50 Shades series.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: About the Book
Title: Girl Within Girl
Author: S.P. Aruna
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Katrina is never alone. She is bound to others inside her, tighter than any Siamese twins could ever be: Cherry, the freewheeling photojournalist, Anisa, the covert spy-assassin, and others as yet unknown, all sharing her body and mind as she goes about her work in a psychiatric hospital. But she is starting to unravel, and her sole hope is the handsome Dr. Sean Paisley, the only one who can make her whole again.
Girl Within Girl is a dark erotic thriller that wanders through a sensual maze of mind control and torture.

S.P. ArunaAuthor Bio
Half French, half Khmer (Cambodian), I’m a woman whose head is filled with fantasies and intriguing stories, and who wants to share them with others.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Wear White to Your Funeral” by Lisa Acerbo

Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo

A review by Domoni.

Rory just moved to Trumbull, a tiny slice of hell. Her mom took a job in Japan and sent her to live with her aunt. Used to a full life in Atlanta, this town with one movie theater and a mall does little to make her excited about her senior year of high school. No friends, no volleyball, no job and no car; what is there to do but be miserable? The first day of school brings Bowen, an attractive boy who convinces thier journalism teacher to pair them up for the big project. Rory and Bowen are going to write an article about the woman in white that haunts the local cemetery. Their first study date (or is it a real date?) has them sitting in the cemetery at night. When the woman in white appears, the teens flee. Unable to believe what they saw, Bowen convinces Rory to return on another night.  When Rory stumbles over a dead body before seeing the ghostly apparition again, things start to get complicated and terrifying.  Now the teens are trying to understand what they saw. Will they solve a murder mystery, a ghost story, or be victims themselves?

This was a great read for me. Well written and interesting, I liked that it wasn’t a classic ghost story. Rory is a rather typical 17 year old girl and Bowen an average 18 year old guy. They dig each other and romance develops. The romance aspect was not the central focus of the story and I liked that. The story mostly followed Rory’s story progression but occasionally we got the aspect of the mystery killer. I enjoyed the progression of the story and getting to know the inside thoughts of this character.  The story took interesting turns that kept things fresh and made the book an easy one-sitting read.

The author does a great job creating the scenes playing out in the story. The characters are fleshed out well and it is fairly easy to grasp who they are and their motivations. I liked the development of the recurring characters that kept this young couple living a normal life amid the unrealistic story that unfolds around them. Many times a book will focus so much on the mystery that you wonder how a couple of teenagers are able to just galavant around focused on being the Scooby Gang and not facing consequences; this story gave a more natural progression to the happenings experienced by Rory and Bowen. I enjoyed this book and would gladly read more by this author.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Wear White to Your Funeral
Lisa Acerbo
Publication date: October 28th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Young Adult

Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt’s house unharmed and unmolested.

Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost. In addition to the ghostly woman, a half buried dead body leads Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly?

The police are of little help, Rory’s aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can’t stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer’s house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural haunting. Before Rory can discover the identity of the killer, she is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens the door for some very real danger.

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Author Bio:

Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.

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Review: “The Afterlife of Alyx & Israel” by Hanna Peach

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Alyx and Israel are soul mates, warriors from heaven who gave it all up for a mortal life together. Only things did not work out how they had planned. Born to mortal bodies on Earth, they grew up in the same town and never met. Now Alyx is engaged to Daniel, a boring man she doesn’t really love, but he is dependable and Alyx craves dependable. Their friends from the other realm have watched over Alyx and Israel and refuse to sit idly by while Alyx marries the wrong man and turns down her dream job for the boring stability that keeps her fear of abandonment at bay. But messing with fate has consequences.

When their friends arrange for Alyx and Israel to meet on the steps of the cathedral, for the first time in this life, everyone finds out why intervening with fate is a bad idea. The lost loves meet and feel strangely drawn to each other, like a memory hiding in the back of one’s mind. Suddenly a storm kicks up and lightning strikes a gargoyle, causing it to fall and hit Alyx in the head. Now she’s locked in a coma the doctors cannot explain. Back at his apartment, Israel is confronted by two friends he doesn’t remember from the past life he has not unlocked. They tell him Alyx is locked in her own mind and the only way to save her is to go into it with her. Now Alyx and Israel must fight through the labyrinth of her mind while learning who they are and remembering who they were.

I enjoyed this complicated love story; two people meant for each other held back by their own insecurities and fears. Alyx lost her mortal parents when she was young and developed a severe case of abandonment issues. She has to learn to trust Israel, though she fights the resurfacing memories out of fear and stubbornness. Israel is witty and cocky and sure of himself. He has made mistakes that make him feel like he does not deserve happiness though. He has to learn to let go of the past to open himself up to a future. As they let go of their walls and recover their memories they have to battle time and the trap of Alyx’s mind to release her from her coma before it is too late. The couple battles for each other even though they do not know if they will wake up and retain all the memories that they recovered.

The writing style was nice. The author did a good job of creating the world the characters inhabited. I enjoyed the banter, especially from the group of friends who often could only watch, hidden while Alyx and Israel found their way. This book found a way to touch me and there was a moment where tears sprang into my eyes. Books that can bring out emotions are the best, in my opinion.

This is the 6th book in a series, though it was easy to read as a stand alone. I have not read the previous books in the series but I enjoyed this one so much I will be starting from the beginning. Containing some romance and violence, this would be a good book for YA audience and older.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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