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 ~

 

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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rarely read contemporaries. It’s not that I have anything against them, it’s just that I love reading fantasy, thrillers, and science fiction books so much that I don’t have time for other genres. However, the cover and description for this book intrigued me enough that I wanted to try it. Here is my review:

35297272Summary (Goodreads): For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


Review: I wasn’t expecting to love this novel as much as I did. But yeah, I loved it! I actually could not pull myself away from this book!

I think that the characters in this book were absolutely brilliant. I loved that our protagonists were so different from others, and yet, were easy for the reader to relate to. Their way of thinking isn’t something that is so out of the ordinary, it’s just the way they express themselves that is so unique. I loved how these two got closer to each other and I liked that the author used text messages as the main platform for their communication; any time an author uses a different medium and structures passages from their books in that format, I love it.

This novel didn’t have a super speedy plot. It was definitely a slow burner but that meant there was plenty of time for the relationship to develop between Penny and Sam. I think that in order for the romance, which is the main focus of the story, to develop properly, it needed to take as much time as it did to be successful. So I really didn’t mind the slower plot. And it honestly didn’t feel that slow to me! I chalk it up to the really great writing and the way that the author allows the readers to connect with the different characters; I was too invested to care about how slow the story was moving!

However, there were certain things about this book that weren’t handled as well. The author creates two characters that have a whole bunch of other issues and traumas in their life. Slowly, we find out what these traumatic incidents/issues are … but they don’t get properly addressed or resolved. They are put in there to explain certain aspects of behaviour, but are easily dismissed or “fixed”. This annoyed me a bit because it’s a very unrealistic portrayal of how people cope and change over time. If this had been properly executed, I would probably have given a higher rating. Better yet, why even include those aspects if they don’t play a central role to the story or won’t be addressed properly? The story wouldn’t have suffered without their inclusion, and I really don’t get why so many authors feel the need to introduce traumatic pasts into their characters’ lives.

Despite this last issue, I still really enjoyed this novel. It exceeded my expectations in a lot of ways and it was an engrossing story. I fell for the characters and their romance, so for those reasons, I’m giving this a 4/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

 

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

If you didn’t already know, I’m obsessed with anything related to Every Heart A Doorway. It was the first book I read by Seanan McGuire, and it blew my mind. Every chance I get to jump back into that whimsical and twisted world, I take it. I’ve been anxiously anticipating this book, and it was such a great read! Here’s my review:

27366528Summary (Goodreads): Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.


Review: I’m aware that this is a very short summary of the book … but really, if any more detail was given, then the story would be ruined. Let me begin by saying that I highly recommend you to read Every Heart A Doorway before reading this one; while it may be marketed as a standalone, there are too many references and details to the original book for that to work. Reading Every Heart A Doorway will really give you a glimpse into the whimsical mayhem that is this world – or rather, worlds.

If you’ve read the other books that are part of this series, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It features a diverse group of characters, all from different worlds that come together to help Rini, a stranger who literally fell into their lives. I love all of the characters in this book; they are vibrant, and unique, and beautifully created. There is nothing I love more than good characters – and these ones are great! I enjoyed reading about the ways they interacted, how they learned to respect the differences that made each person unique, and how much they embraced their own uniqueness. Not only are the characters diverse because of their experiences in their different “worlds”, they have diverse ethnic background, gender identities, and abilities. I love that this book focused on body image and identity, highlighting the difficulties and assumptions that come with these issues as well as ways in which to feel positive about these issues. It’s important for an author to talk about real-life issues and the way that Seanan McGuire does it is phenomenal; underneath all the whimsical magic of the story lies important messages that everyone needs to hear.

I also love the setting. It is gorgeous and magical and open to every possible thing you can imagine. This book series is amazing because of the beautiful way the author describes everything – and I’m not going to say any more on this because I want you to experience it for yourselves!

The great thing about this book is that it is really short, but leaves plenty of avenues to explore and discover. I love the sense of adventure in this book and how things make no sense and yet are still logical. It was perfect and I cannot wait to see what else the author has in store for this series!

I really cannot rave more about this book. I love this series so much because it is so out of the norm. I have no idea how the author comes up with these crazy ideas … but I hope it never stops! I love that these books have deeper meanings and themes underneath the surface and features a diverse host of characters. For all those reasons, I’m giving this 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

I read Seraphina a while back and I fell in love. It had dragons and court life and great world-building. It was definitely very different from most fantasy stories I’ve read but I enjoyed it immensely. When I saw that LibraryThing was hosting an Early Reviewer giveaway for Tess of the Road, I immediately jumped at the chance, and was delighted to receive a copy. From the synopsis, I was aware that the book took place in the world of Seraphina and I was excited to get back into it. Here is my review:


Summary (Goodreads): 

33123849In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.
Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.


Review: Getting back into the world created in Seraphina through the eyes of a new character was really exciting for me. That being said, I would HIGHLY recommend that you read Seraphina before this one; this novel draws on many terms and concepts from Seraphina and the author doesn’t really take the time to explain it again in this book, so readers might find themselves lost.

When I started reading this novel, I was surprised to find that it was quite slow. Based on the premise, I think I was expecting a faster pace to the story. I also found Tess’s character to be … well, not to my liking. She is quite selfish and a little too impulsive. However, as I was thinking this, I also found myself liking this choice for a protagonist. I have always favoured flawed main characters to perfect one – and Tess is definitely in the former category.

As the story continues, there is an allusion to an incident that Tess was involved in that has made her undesirable and given her a bad reputation – and it is connected to a sexual encounter. The mystery surrounding this incident immediately made me want to know more, and it served as a pushing force for me to continue with the story. At the same time, I was surprised that the author wanted to discuss sex and sexuality; I hadn’t pegged this as the direction for this novel.

One of the major problems I encountered in this book was that it had very slow pacing. Not much happens in this story. Tess goes on a journey to escape life in a nunnery – and to escape the judgmental attitude of her family and friends. There are bouts of adventure but for the most part, there was just a lot of walking and talking and philosophizing. Now, I’m not really a fan of philosophy so I found some of these talks to be a little tedious to get through but I found that they were important for setting the stage for some of the moral issues the author explores.

Because while Tess was going through a boring outward journey, she was going through a rigorous inward journey. This novel was all about Tess’s ingrained views on sexuality and proper behaviour (as she was taught by her mother) and the way her experiences and the views of others’ challenges these beliefs. The reader gets to see how Tess has been bullied and shamed into feeling inferior and how she rises from this and starts to love herself again. I think that this theme is a really important one to cover and I think that, while the author had a shaky start with it in the beginning, it all came together quite well in the end.

This is a book that won’t work for everyone. The slow pacing and the initial un-likable-ness of Tess can be offputting for a lot of readers. But if you push through, you’ll see that this novel has its merits. It’s all about self-love and taking care of oneself. It’s about different ways to think about sex and sexuality, and the issues of being judged by traditionalist views on a female’s role in the bedroom. I like how the novel challenged these issues through Tess’s character and for that reason, I’m going to give this a 3.5/5 stars. The reason I can’t give it a higher rating is because the pacing was difficult to deal with and there wasn’t really much of a plot.

This is a novel I would recommend for fans of Seraphina and for those who are looking for a novel that looks into morality through the genre of fantasy.

Happy reading ~

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco – The Bone Witch #2

When I first read The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, I absolutely adored it. I love that it reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha – but with a fantasy twist! I was excited to see where the author would go with the second book, considering that The Bone Witch ended on a cliffhanger … so here is my review:

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Summary (Goodreads): No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.


Review: Considering that it had been a while since I had read the first book, I struggled a bit to recall the different elements of the story and the connections between the different characters. But once I refreshed my memory, I was able to really enjoy the story.

This novel was a lot more action-packed than the first book, which would please a lot of people who had struggled with the slower pace of The Bone Witch. I liked that the story expanded beyond the Memoirs of a Geisha flow because it allowed me to connect with the characters in a different way than before and let me see them in action. However, there was a downside to the faster pace: I had gotten used to the detail-oriented storytelling from the first book, and having a faster pace meant that there wasn’t as much detail or world-building. With The Bone Witch, I fell in love with the world that was created. And while I fell in love with the plot and character in this novel, I still wanted more descriptions of this gorgeous universe that the story was taking place in.

Not only was the pace faster, the plot was also really engaging. I loved the action, and the fighting and the way the different characters had to work together to resolve the problems at hand. I also loved all of the romances that took place, which is a rare compliment to hear from me! My favourite parts of the story were the excerpts from the Bard’s perspectives because they showed the present situation, whereas the rest of the story told episodes from the past (but in present tense), and they allowed the reader to see Tea, the heroine, as a complex person struggling with the battle between good and evil. At times, the Bard’s passages were confusing, but it all came together beautifully to tell an intriguing and exciting story.

Overall, I think I quite enjoyed this book almost as much as The Bone Witch. It had a beautiful cover, and an exciting story with a great cast of characters. I’m glad I stuck with this series and that the sequel lived up to my expectations. I cannot wait to read the conclusion to this trilogy as I’m sure it is going to be just as fantastic as this book! I’m giving this a 4.5/5 stars!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Sourcebooks Fire for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

The cover of this book was absolutely gorgeous and, combined with the intriguing premise, made it impossible for me to not pick this book up. Necromancers, zombie-like monsters…. what more could I ask for? I grabbed a copy from Indigo and set to reading.

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Synopsis (Goodreads): Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?


Review: My love affair with this book ended as quickly as it started. While the premise was interesting, the actual execution failed to impress me.

This story seemed like it would be fast-paced, full of action as Odessa tries to figure out what is going on with all of these Shade attacks. Instead, it is about Odessa battling her grief after she loses someone she loves. Now, I have no problem with her feeling grief. But the story doesn’t set itself up well for this scenario. For one thing, we don’t ever really feel the strong romantic connection between Odessa and her partner; it’s just something we have to assume is strong. There wasn’t enough time given to develop this relationship – and then he dies. The other problem with the grief scenario is that Odessa becomes addicted to potions in order to deal with the pain. With that, my hopes of a strong heroine were dashed. Given the reputation she has (according to what the book tells us), shouldn’t she be out there trying to avenge him? Why is she succumbing to addiction? My initial thoughts were that this addiction angle might serve a different purpose later on. It does not. It could have been cut out. And the worst part about it was that this took up almost 50% of the story. That’s right, 50% of the story is us reading about Odessa’s self-pity and gloom. All this for a relationship that wasn’t even fostered deeply in the book.

Not only did Odessa turn to addiction during her time of grief, she also used this time to throw herself into the arms of her best friend. Her need for physical comfort was a little … well, I didn’t like it. I would prefer if she had been a stronger character, or at least relied on her friends in a platonic way. But she chose not to do that.

Moving on from the huge grief aspect, I also thought it was completely bizarre that so many people were willing to throw themselves at Odessa. I couldn’t see the appeal. Was it her charm – or lack thereof? Was it some history that they had had previously, which the author had failed to mention? I just found myself perplexed by a lot of the character interactions, and really wished that the author had spent some time giving them more of a backstory so I could follow along. This lack of a backstory and lack of strong world-building really affected my ability to enjoy the story. There were random details thrown in that took me aback because there was no reference to it before that point, and suddenly, it became important. I like my stories to make sense and flow, and this novel didn’t do that all the time.

I also found that the actual fighting scenes were a bit dull. When the main character is a necromancer, I expect a lot more scary things to happen, and there just wasn’t enough action to keep me engaged. All the action scenes were over quite quickly and left me filling disappointed, like that scene in Breaking Dawn where Alice showed what could have happened if there was a war … but nothing actually happened (Twilight reference for the win!!!).

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this novel. It had the potential to be dynamic and crazy. While it maintained a fast pace, it didn’t have sensible character interactions and really lacked strong backstories and world-building, which would have made this a more engrossing read. Also, Odessa is a very needy character who can’t stop falling for other people while grieving for someone who was supposedly the love of her life. It was just too much. I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

Happy reading ~

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

I had a long day in the lab, and I’ve been meaning to really get through my reading list so I decided to start with this one. Other people who read it considered it a quick but good read, and I thought it would be perfect for me, especially since I’ve been on a thriller binge right now!

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Synopsis (Goodreads): Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.


Review: While I didn’t find this story to have anything surprising to it, I must say I quite enjoyed this novel. Margot Hunt is the pseudonym for a bestselling author who has published 12 books before this one. And it shows because the quality of the writing is very strong. I couldn’t stop myself from flipping one page after the next because the writing style allowed for this novel to maintain a fairly fast pace (even though there wasn’t actually a lot happening) and be an easy read.

What made this novel really work is the characterization of the 2 female characters, which was great. The story is from Alice’s perspective and she is a great protagonist. Alice is a logician, and her logical mind is evident in her various interactions with other people. She is described quite a few times as being cold or too calm, and this has been attributed to her logical thinking … but reading from her point of view showed that this isn’t necessarily true. Alice feels a lot. She feels protective towards her family and friends, driven by her love for them to do whatever it takes to make them happy. She was a character I could really connect with, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective as she went from loyal defender of Kat to doubting their friendship.

Kat’s character was also very interesting. I could tell right away why she wasn’t to be trusted…. but also why she was so easy to be best friends with. Heck, even wanted to be friends with her! I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Kat and Alice and how it may have seemed like a tight bond at first, but was just a manipulation by Kat.

The conclusion of the story, while predictable, was still quite good because the author really stuck to the theme that she had introduced from the start. This is a story about what it means to be a friend, and how friendship can be manipulated. I’m giving this a solid 3/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers!

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

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I started reading this book with no real expectations about it. And then IT BLEW MY MIND.


Synopsis (Goodreads): Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re every girl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.


Review: This book is by far one of the most powerful stories I have ever read. It is a book that deals with so many different issues like rape and rape culture, sex positivity and choosing to be sexually active or not, sexual identity, ableism, racial discrimination, and biased school systems – and these are just a few!

The story is told mainly from the perspective of 3 girls: Grace, Rosina, and Erin. But there are also sections of the story called “Us” and they are from the perspective of various female characters in the book, that remain unnamed. I absolutely loved this approach. Not only did the author give us central characters to focus on and form connections with, she was also able to showcase various other perspectives. By creating anonymity through these voiceless other girls, she allowed other readers to put themselves in their place. It worked for me on so many levels, and gave me the chance to see so many different outlooks on various topics.

The main characters themselves were perfect choices for the story. Grace comes from a religious background, what with her mother being a pastor, and her views were about how her faith influences her choices. I really loved this angle and the way that the author developed Grace; she doesn’t blindly accept beliefs but tries to question them and analyze them so that they are relevant to her current life. These are things that I try to do daily with regards to my own religious views, and it was heartening to see an open-minded and faith-oriented character. I also loved that Grace, while being considered “fat”, never focused on her body issues. Her body did not become the main focal point, and that gave room for the reader to focus on her personality and thoughts.

Rosina comes from an immigrant family and struggles with her sexual orientation. Her worries that her mother will not accept that Rosina has feelings for women is a concern that I think many teens can face. Through her character, we get a glimpse of what it feels like to be marginalized, not only for your sexual preference but also for your race and immigration status.

Erin has Asperger’s Syndrome and her character deals with the struggles that come with being labelled. She has feelings, she has thoughts, and she wants to be able to show that Asperger’s in no ways limits her as a person. I loved how defiant she was about this label, how strongly she would say that this is a part of her that she would never change. There are plenty of times when someone says “I’m so sorry” when they hear about a child who has autism or Asperger’s and it bothers me a lot, because there is nothing to be sorry about. This person is still a person, who has wonderful gifts to offer the world, just like every other human being. Erin embodies this sentiment, and her experiences show that she is just like everyone else – and deserves to be treated that way.

I don’t want to speak too much since I don’t want to ruin this story, but it is an absolutely stunning read. Amy Reed is not afraid to pack the punches and this book has so many of them. I think that everything that this novel covers is relevant to people today – not just girls – and I would want everyone to read this. It’s a near perfect book for me, and I’m giving this a 5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Our Dark Stars by Audrey Grey and Krystal Wade

Synopsis (Goodreads): While she sleeps, the whole universe changes. Princess Talia Starchaser has it all. Wealth. Status. Adoring citizens. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to publicly betray her best friend, a companion mock she’s had since birth, setting events into motion that lead to the destruction of the humans, and the princess floating through space, a remnant of a time when humans ruled over droids. One hundred years later, half-mock captain Will Perrault and his ragtag crew discover a device floating in space. When a very human Talia emerges from its depths, Will suspects she’s the key to buying his way back into the regiment he once commanded against the last remaining rebel humans—and the ruling mock queen’s good graces. Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.


My Review: This was a really fun read for me. I read quite a bit of science fiction but I don’t read many books that are based in space. The authors incorporated a really great adventure through space with just enough detail to understand the basic mechanisms of things without bogging the reader down with inane facts. This story is told from 2 perspectives: Talia’s and Will’s. I really liked that the first part of Talia’s perspective took place 100 years prior to the present (which is where Will’s perspective takes place) because it allows the reader to understand what Talia was going through at that time and how she ended up where she was. It also allowed the reader to see the stark contrast in the political climate from the past versus the present. I liked both Will and Talia’s character and appreciated the fact that the authors didn’t spend too much time developing the romance between them. However, I did have certain issues with the story. While the story went along at a fast pace, I didn’t necessarily think there was enough development of character and plot for the story to really cement itself; there was a lot of jumping around without enough grounding to let the reader believe in the direction of the plot. I also had an issue with the romance, which I know sounds hypocritical but hear me out: the novel is sold as a science fiction and romance, and yet the romance barely develops; I really didn’t feel a romantic connection between Will and Talia so when they suddenly express their feelings for each other after such a short period of time, I was quite taken aback. Maybe the romance should have been left out of the story. I also thought that the ending was a bit too convenient and positive. After such a struggle in the beginning, things were resolved way too easily.

Overall, this was a fun read with a good amount of action and good characters. However, I think the story and romance could have benefited from some depth, which could have been accomplished if the authors had made the story longer and taken the time to allow for some development. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Blaze Publishing for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #3

It may have seemed like I forgot about this series. BUT I DID NOT! I have been biding my time, trying to make a dent in my TBR list, and I’ve decided to make a real go at catching up with this series. Here is my review:

Synopsis (from the book): After Olivia Taylor-Jones found out she was adopted – not the child of a privileged Chicago family, but of a notorious pair of serial killers – her life exploded. Fleeing the scandal, she found a refuge in the oddly secluded but welcoming town of Cainsville. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a precociously successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she managed to partially clear her parents’ name in an investigation that also revealed darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. Fleeing Cainsville, Olivia now finds herself not only the target of the Cainsville elders and of the Huntsmen, but also of her ex-fiance, James. And this happens as her feelings deepen for Ricky, the son of the leader of a motorcycle gang, and confusingly also her feelings for Gabriel. Visions continue to haunt her; particularly ones of a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia. Will Olivia be able to prevent the tragic outcome that has been foretold?


So if I’m going to be honest here, I don’t think I enjoyed this book as much as I did the rest of the books in the series. And I think it had to do with the content of the novel. For most of the other books in the series, the story was about solving a mystery while understanding more about the fae. That’s what I loved about the series: there were sinister characters and gruesome deaths, and Olivia was learning how to recognize and interpret the omens and visions she was receiving. However, with this novel, there was a huge focus on this love triangle that the author decided to add into the mix. This book was more of a romance than a mystery novel, and it felt like I had been deceived (haha – get it, deceptions, deceived?!) by the premise of the story. I really don’t like love triangles because they are so tedious to get through and they don’t really add anything to the story. I also don’t like it because it changes the dynamics between certain characters. There was some mystery to it because we learn some more about the fae and Olivia’s connection to everything, and we do find out about the Larsens and whether they are innocent …. but it was all overshadowed by the love triangle, which was a little annoying for me. I will still be continuing with this series because I think it still has merit, but I definitely hope that the love triangle gets resolved soon so that I can focus on the really juicy stuff! But this book specifically gets a 2/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~