The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

While I have rarely read a book about pirates, it isn’t for lack of trying. I LOVE PIRATES but I just haven’t found many novels that feature them. That’s why I was absolutely psyched to be approved for this title and give my opinion on it! So here is my review:

32295460Summary (Goodreads): There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.


Review:

Oh boy… where do I start with this novel? I so wanted to love it but it just did not work at all. I think the idea was fantastic. It just failed on execution.

I found the story to be quite boring, which is weird because this is a book about PIRATES. But it really just felt like nothing was happening throughout the story; at times, it even felt like a biography than an actual fictional tale. I think this can be attributed to the fact that the characters were very one-dimensional and were hard to connect with. It was hard to distinguish the different voices of the characters because they just didn’t really have much of a personality. I think Anne Bonny was developed a little bit better than Mary Reade, but even that is a bit of a stretch. I also didn’t love the writing as it was far too juvenile for this type of story. It read more like a middle grade book than a YA fiction novel. It also seemed as if it was just a draft copy and not a full-fledged book. It definitely needed a lot more editing for the story to really shine through.

I don’t want to go on and on bashing this novel. Clearly, the author had a really great concept and just wasn’t able to follow through with it. Suffice to say that it wasn’t what I had wanted or expected. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 1/5 stars.

1 star

Happy reading ~

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Copycat by Hannah Jayne

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Most of the thrillers I read are for an adult audience, so I was quite interested to see how a thriller written with a teen audience in mind would differ. I also thought the premise, which involved fan fiction, was an interesting one. I decided to request this novel and give it a chance. Here is my review:

36691530Summary (Goodreads): Everyone is dying to read the latest book in the popular Gap Lake mystery series, and Addison is no exception. As the novels biggest fan, Addison is flattered when the infamously reclusive author, R.J. Rosen, contacts her, granting her inside information others would kill for.

But when the most popular girl in Addison’s high school is murdered, Addison can’t help but think that life may be imitating fiction. And as other terrifying events from the book start happening around her, Addison has to figure out how to write her own ending -and survive the story.


Review:

Well …. I didn’t like this book.

Let me start with the positives: this book was a fast and easy read. Things moved along quite quickly and there were quite a few interesting moments that had a lot of tension and even some gore. I also liked the dual narrative style with one taking place in reality and one taking place in the fictional Gap Lake. 

But I disliked pretty much everything else in this book.

The story was extremely juvenile. Again, I understand that this was written with a teenage audience in mind but it sounded so unrealistic. The author’s forced attempts to make the narrative style sound like that of a teenager only served to make it sound artificial and unnatural. This meant that it was really hard to connect with the characters.

I also don’t think things were set up very well. The connections between the different individuals was not developed too much; it was as if the author just wanted us to assume the characters were close (or not close). Considering that this story is all about being suspicious about people, this was not a good thing.

I also thought that the motive and the murderer’s identity were developed in a very lazy way. It simply didn’t make sense. When I read that part of the story, I had to reread it to make sure I understood it properly. My frustration was that there was absolutely no way that any reader would have been able to guess this because the author hadn’t given the necessary information to the reader. The motivation was so far-fetched and there was barely any background to it, so it felt very much like a last-minute decision.

I think that the author really tried to come up with a unique story that would be appealing to a teen audience. But the juvenile writing combined with the lack of proper set up just didn’t work for me. Simply put …. it just wasn’t that good. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

1 star

Happy reading ~

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t read many science fiction novels that take place in space. I think I’ve always been very worried about there being too much space jargon that would leave me befuddled. However, I’ve been actively trying to change that and when I read the premise of this novel, I thought it was interesting enough to give it a go!

36066142Summary (Goodreads): Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .


Review: 

While the story sounded interesting, this novel ended up being a flop for me – but not for the reasons I was anticipating. I actually did not feel overwhelmed at all by any of the science. In fact, dare I say, there wasn’t enough science in this story? But that’s me being a little unfair so I won’t get into it. However, I definitely had an issue with the execution of the story.

There were multiple ways in which the execution just did not live up to my expectations. For one thing, the main character was just a little too normal for her situation. Think about it: you are the first child to ever have been born in space and you have been alone there for years! For her to be such a normal teenager was quite unexpected. Her typical teenager would have been something to be loved had she been in a story that was more realistic. I also thought it was a bit too weird that the author focused so much on Romy’s love of fan fiction; it just served to make the story sound more juvenile.

And that was my general problem with the entire story. Everything was so juvenile. Even though the actual concept behind the story was very plausible, it came off as ridiculous because of its execution. There was just no serious undertone to the story and everything sounded very childish. Even the way the characters revealed their motives sounded fake and lacked the genuineness and emotion I was hoping to see. Now, I know this is YA fiction but that doesn’t mean that it should seem kiddish. This element of childishness really threw me off and it made it hard for me to connect with the motives of other characters in the story. It also made it hard for me to believe in the gravity of the situation, and it caused me to never properly connect to Romy.

Honestly, I pushed through this novel until the end in the hopes that the plot would be good enough for me to forgive the execution fails. But it wasn’t. The story was just blah and the only thing I remembered about the story was how much I didn’t like it. There just wasn’t enough depth and development to keep me interested. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

1 star

Happy reading ~

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

As I wait for the sequel to The Cruel Prince to be released, I decided to check out other books by this author. I was really happy to find that the author has written many standalone books, because I’m not sure if I’m up for the commitment of a series right now – I have far too many series to complete as it is! I decided to read this one in audiobook format, because I’ve been doing a lot of commuting and haven’t had a lot of time to crack open a physical book. Here is my review:

20958632Summary (Goodreads): Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

 


Review:

So the premise of this novel was very interesting. I loved the idea of putting a story about the fae in a modern setting. Usually, you only read about characters being transported to the world of the fae or vice versa, so it was refreshing to have this element of magical realism/urban fantasy in the story.

But while the story started off well, it didn’t stay that way. Something about the way the story was presented just didn’t hold my attention. I wasn’t really able to pinpoint if it was the writing style itself or the plot, but it just felt a bit bland compared to the description I was given at the beginning. I was missing that building tension, that darkness that this novel was promising to deliver.

Some of my unhappiness with the story can also be attributed to the portrayal of the characters: it just wasn’t done very well. They just lacked personality and I couldn’t feel a connection to them – or between them. There were quite a few instances of romance in the story but it just felt so unnatural and forced; it was more of an insta-love situation than a gradual buildup of emotion. Even the fact that there was an LGBTQ+ presence couldn’t save it.

Maybe it was the poor characterization. Or maybe it was my expectations for a dark and creepy tale. Either way, this novel let me down. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t try other books by Holly Black. I clearly LOVED The Cruel Prince. However, this is one of her earlier books and it may just not have been my cup of tea. I’m giving this story a 2/5 stars, but I am definitely not giving up on this author!

2 star

Happy reading ~

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

I read this book back in March but I wanted to time my review to be closer to the release date so that it could be more relevant for readers! Thank you to Edelweiss for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

I love mythology and seeing that this book is inspired by the story of King Midas was one of its biggest selling points. I was excited to see how the author would take the original story and put some life into it!

36575823Summary (Goodreads): King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.
Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?


Review: I wish I could say this book earned high praise from me. But I can’t. This book, with its amazing premise, fell short of my expectations and ended up being just like every other generic teen fantasy novel out there.

Let me start by saying that the writing was very nice. There was consistency in flow and voice, so that it was easy for the reader to stay immersed within the story. I wouldn’t say that the world-building was terribly unique; there was a little bit of name-dropping but other than that, the details of the world were quite sparse. However, I wasn’t too bothered with it.

Unfortunately, the writing is the only positive thing I can say about this book. Everything else was just too cookie-cutter for me to enjoy.

First of all, we are shown our main character who is naive to a fault, and is scared of everything. She is your typical plain heroine who needs someone to save her and make her feel better about, well, everything. I really dislike main characters who are dependent on others and don’t do anything on their own. So this novel automatically got one strike from me.

The next problem I had with this novel was that it was predictable. SO predictable. By the time I finished a quarter of the book, I had already figured out how everything would work. And I was right about almost everything. I pegged the villains perfectly as well as the love interest. I was also able to figure out the direction of the story. I hate that I was able to guess everything right away because I immediately lost interest in the story; there was nothing new to it so I just couldn’t care. I liked the pirate aspect of the novel, which I thought was very unique. But there wasn’t enough of it and it wasn’t developed very well. If I had to describe this novel, I would say that this is more about Kora’s insecurities than about her quest to save her father. Everywhere you turn, you have to brace yourself against Kora’s need for others to help her and her inability to figure anything out for herself. All of the action was mired by this intense focus, and that is such a shame because this novel had so much potential.

I think that this novel is for a very juvenile audience, and for those who love romance and insecure protagonists. I was expecting a story rich in mythology and with plenty of adventure. Instead, I was saddled with Kora and a plot that was too simplistic to hold my attention. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

Happy reading ~

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I really wanted to read something lighthearted recently. I’ve been under a lot of stress in my Masters and I wanted a funny book that would lift my spirits. I’d been seeing this book everywhere and was lucky enough to get my hands on an audio version of it, making my commute to my school that much better. It did take me longer to get through this novel but I was happy to have read something that was more of a comedy! Here are my thoughts:

29283884.jpgSummary (Goodreads): Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.


My Rating: 3 star

Review: This was a funny read, for sure. But while I liked it, I can’t say that it was my most favourite of reads.

Let me start with some of the positive things about this book:

I loved the setting and the premise for this story, with its diverse cast of characters. I am seriously obsessed with anything from the Victorian era and this book did not disappoint! The author seamlessly integrated the historical time point into the actual plot of the story, making everything sound so natural that I felt like I was living in that era myself! There wasn’t a single point where the author slipped up and I was so happy to see that level of consistency!

I also loved that the story prominently features LGBTQ romance. At first, I was a little worried as to how the author would blend this with the historical time frame that the story was set in, but it was done really well! I also thought the interactions between the two characters (and yes, I’m referring to Percy and Monty, which is quite obvious from the premise) was really really cute!

My two favourite characters of the story were definitely Felicity (Monty’s younger sister) and Percy, as both were very intelligent. They were logical and were able to perfectly balance out Monty’s narcissistic and stupid tendencies.

Because, I’ll be honest, I really didn’t like Monty. To be fair, I did think he was funny in the beginning. He is a selfish character but he is hilarious and I could see why having him as an MC could really make this book shine. However, his selfishness and stupidity soon grew old. I did like that the author made him have some depth by bringing up the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. It gave him something more than just the shallowness he exuded. But while the author made this a consistent part of his personality (which I appreciated), it wasn’t enough to redeem his other behaviours.

I also felt that the plot had quite a few elements that seemed to be out of the blue and were just unnecessary. While it made sense, it wasn’t necessarily the greatest plot to follow and I found myself losing interest at times.

And yet, despite these negative elements, I really did find the story to be cute and funny. I enjoyed listening to the trio go on their adventure and see Monty start to change a bit here and there. I was looking for something lighthearted and I got it. And I have to admit that the deeper themes of the story were definitely there, so this wasn’t just a shallow cute read. Since I still enjoyed the book, I’m giving it a 3/5 stars and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a cute historical fiction story!

Happy reading ~

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy – Dumplin’ #2

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

When I first read Dumplin’, I absolutely adored it. It was by far one of my favourite teen books and its focus on body image and body positivity was absolutely fantastic. I was super excited to hear about this novel, which focuses on another character that was featured in Dumplin’ and I’m so glad I got to read an eARC of it! Here are my thoughts:

28269171.jpgSummary (Goodreads): Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.


My Rating: 4 star

Review: If you liked Dumplin’, then you will certainly love this book! It has all of the charm and cuteness of the first book in the series, and a lot of new characters to fall in love with, too!

Like Dumplin’, this novel has a huge focus on body positivity. I think that books that promote love for our body need to be put out there. With so much social media out there, it is easy to feel shame about one’s body or to compare oneself to extreme beauty standards set out by society. Having a book where characters love themselves as they are and aren’t afraid to feel insecure is important for readers out there; it makes you feel less alone and gives you a safe space to feel more positively about yourself. This is one of the things that drew me to Dumplin’ and I’m so glad that it stayed a primary message in this novel.

This novel is also about friendship and identity. We are introduced to a few different characters, all from different backgrounds that have their unique perspectives on the world. I loved how the author managed to incorporate all of these different viewpoints and broaden the reader’s own perspective through them. It really reinforces the idea that there is always more to a person than what meets the eye! I loved how the different characters got to understand one another and form close bonds with each other. It was just so heartwarming to read about it!

This novel was full of cuteness and positivity as these teens maneuvered high school drama and their own internal struggles to become the best versions of themselves. I don’t read many contemporary novels but this is one that I know I will be promoting to everyone I know! I give this book a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

 

Tradition by Brendan Kiely [BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY (US Only)]

Once again, I’m participating in an awesome blog tour, this time hosted by the Fantastic Flying Book Club! I’m so excited to be working with them to bring this awesome book out to everyone!

36373518.jpgBook Title: Tradition

Author: Brendan Kiely

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Synopsis:

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous. Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us. When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates— and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36373518-tradition

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1481480340?tag=simonsayscom

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tradition-brendan-kiely/1127208788?ean=9781481480345&st=AFF&2sid=Simon%20&%20Schuster_7567305_NA&sourceId=AFFSimon%20&%20Schuster

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/tradition-13

The Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tradition-Brendan-Kiely/9781481480345?ref=grid-view&qid=1523363168209&sr=1-2

This story is told from dual perspectives, and I really loved this part of the story. Both James and Jules are going through their own struggles at Fullbrook. James is struggling to figure out the nonchalant way people act about wealth and how they use their money to solve all problems. I really liked James’s character, who is slightly timid and is scarred from his own past experiences. He knows better than these privileged students: money can’t solve everything. I didn’t love Jules’s character as much because I found her a little too in-your-face. Of course, I didn’t want her to be someone very submissive, but at times, I found her attitude to be a bit … annoying, and perhaps not the best way to describe a feminist.
I also wish that James and Jules had a stronger friendship. At times, the story felt like it was telling two separate tales – which is really fine, because it would have worked well and connected well at the end. However, the author kept expressing that they were good friends. If this had been established better, I think my rating would have gone up.
I absolutely loved the writing style and flow of this novel. It was tense and engaging and it took the reader to places that could be uncomfortable, but were ultimately necessary in order to shed light on topics like consent, privilege, assault, and respect for others. Yes, there are other books out there that also speak about these issues. But I think that the more books that bring this to the forefront, the better. The novel handles these issues with delicacy and does a fine job of getting people to really understand what it must feel like for those stuck in similar situations to Jules and James.
This is a thought-provoking and gripping tale and I urge everyone to go give it a shot! I’m giving this book a solid 4/5 stars! 4 star.png

Check out these amazing blogs that are also a part of this tour!

Tour Schedule
May 1st
May 2nd

Book Freak Out

The Book Duchesses

May 3rd

We Live and Breathe Books
Living A Hundred Lives
Literary Meanderings

May 4th

Diane’s Book Blog
BookCrushin

May 5th

Blossoms and Bullet Journals
A Dream Within A Dream

May 6th

Confessions of a YA reader
YA/NA Book Divas

May 7th

Camilla Reads
Jill’s Book Blog


And now…. for the GIVEAWAY!

฀Prize: 5 copies of TRADITION by Brendan Kiely (5 winners will be chosen)

฀US Only

฀Starts: 5/1

฀Ends: 5/10

Click here to enter – this is a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all those who enter!

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope [BLOG TOUR]

I’m so stoked to be a part of the blog tour organized by St. Martin’s Press and the author!

Song of Blood & Stone_cover image.jpgSummary: Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Here is an excerpt from this book:

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year. The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts. His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her
head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ing in, his muscle memory offended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a
confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?
Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle. The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari
army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.
“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­self. There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth. “You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the effort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the
gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ant to look at. He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.” She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him. “You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.
“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said.
“I doubt that.”
Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again.“The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”
“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolish­ness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.” She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless. He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.” Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to
find shelter.” She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and
began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.
“What is that?”
“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.” He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”
“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”
“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.

Be sure to check out this book – it is out today! If you like fantasy and clashing kingdoms, then this is a novel worth checking out!

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – The Shadow Game #1

This book has been making the rounds EVERYWHERE and I seriously cannot avoid it any longer. It is just far too intriguing and too many people have been raving about it for me to ignore it. So here I go!

30238163.jpgSummary (Goodreads): Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


My Rating:     2 star

Review: So I really wanted to love this book but I didn’t. While there were some elements that I really liked, there were others that I found less than appealing.

I found the idea behind this book to be really unique and interesting. Granted, I have never read Six of Crows and everyone is saying that this book shares many similarities to it, but this had a very noir vibe to it and I loved having a very different fantasy setting than the usual kingdoms.

I only wish there had been better worldbuilding! I wanted to know more about the Mizers and the way society came to be, but I either found that the author was too vague or just dumped all the information at one go. There was no smooth delivery of information and the story suffered for it; when I wanted more information, I didn’t get it and when I didn’t need the information, I got it. It also meant that the amount of information was too much to process, so I would forget details and wonder why certain things worked in a certain way in the book.

Initially, I really liked Enne and Levi. I thought they were both very unique characters. However, that opinion didn’t really stick for too long. As the story progressed, I didn’t really see how these two characters were supposed to connect when they kept doing their own thing. Each of them was handling their own separate crises that were connected through only the thinnest of plot lines. Enne was handling her issues quite well on her own, which is something I really liked because most novels make the heroine incapable of doing anything on her own. But then this meant that Levi was really not too necessary. There were all of these mentions of what Enne and Levi are supposed to be but I never actually saw any behaviour that matched it.

I also really didn’t like the romance. At first, I enjoyed the way Enne and Levi interacted with each other. However, the feelings of romance and attraction between them were too far-fetched for me. I just couldn’t understand how their emotions for each other were so deep so soon.

Overall, I thought this novel had a really unique premise but I didn’t think the execution was up to the mark. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~