Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
304 Pages

 Jayne Ann Krentz, the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Sisters, delivers a thrilling novel of the deceptions we hide behind, the passions we surrender to, and the lengths we’ll go to for the truth...

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way...

A nice, solid mystery. 

Charlotte and Jocelyn have always been close - it's that sisterly bond everyone always talks about. But when one of Jocelyn's friends is murdered, Charlotte starts to think that maybe her sister isn't at a retreat at all, but has instead disappeared off the grid. Working with Max Cutler, a PI hired to look into the murder, Charlotte stumbles into a very deadly game of cat and mouse - only she's not sure which role is her sister.

This was my first book by Krentz and I found it enjoyable. It moved along at a good pace for a thriller and the premise seemed plausible. In the beginning of reading, I got a little jarred by the many POV's that popped up - it seemed there was a new one every chapter and that made it hard to grasp the characters so it took me a bit to really feel out Charlotte and Max, who were ultimately the main characters. 

The breakdown of the mystery flowed well. Once you realize how all the pieces fit together you kind of get that AHA moment and then buckle down for the resolution. The one thing I had an issue with, or that rubbed me the wrong way, was the romance. I'm all for romance and can get behind the whole 'circumstances brought us together'. But what didn't sit well with me came in right before the end. I get that Charlotte and Max shared this insane experience together and I bought their connection, but that ending - talk about moving way too fast.

Overall, this was a good book. Perfect thriller for those cold winter nights. Grab a blanket, some tea, and curl up on the couch!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ARC Review: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1) by Erin Summerill

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
400 Pages

The first in a duology, Ever the Hunted is a romantic, page-turning fantasy debut that will appeal to readers of Sarah Maas and Rae Carson about the outcast daughter of a bounty hunter who must track her father's killer in a world of mad kings, warring kingdoms, and dangerous magic.

Well, this book was a pleasant surprise. I'm going to try to give a brief little summary without spoiling anything - almost any bit of detail is a spoiler in this case.

Following the death of her father, Britta gets captured by the King's guard after poaching on his land. In exchange for keeping her house and freedom, Britta makes a deal to track down her father's killer and bring him back to answer for his crimes. The problem with this is her childhood best friend, Cohen, is being charged with the crime. Knowing that she's basically exchanging his life for hers, she sets out with three of the King's guard on a trek across the kingdom to find Cohen. Running parallel to this story is the fact that there are two kingdoms on the verge of war - one houses magical users, the other forbids the use of magic. Both plots stand on their own but weave together at the end that just makes me excited to read the conclusion.

Britta wasn't exceptional. The story not entirely unique. But the way the author told it made it enjoyable for me. There were even parts that I thought I had figured out but then was pleasantly shocked at the reveal. I loved Cohen's horse - talk about sass, Siron definitely had it and I loved it. I can't wait to learn more about side characters that I found intriguing and hope that Summerill expands on them in the follow-up.

And also, there was no insta-love! The love story that exists, exists because of a history between the two characters. It's believable especially with the flashbacks interwoven throughout.  If you're a fan of fantasy and magic, I think you would really enjoy this one.

And look how shiny the cover is!

 I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 14, 2016

ARC Review: Cursing Fate (The Fated #2) by Brenda Drake

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 21, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen
220 Pages

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?

The second in The Fated series follows Iris Layne, younger sister to Aster who we met in book one. Some of the Layne sisters have a gift - the gift of changing fates. After seeing her older sister mess with everyone's fate, including her own, Iris wants nothing to do with this magic. However, one accidental brush with a set of tarot cards releases an evil spirit into Iris and she's forced to face the magic that she was running from.

I'm going to be honest, I enjoyed the first book a little more than this one. It felt more whole. Cursing Fate seemed to focus more on the 'woe is me' side. But that didn't mean I didn't enjoy it, because I did. I still really like the idea of the fates and the curse that binds them. What I really liked about this book was we got to see where the curse came from. We meet the first fate changer who set the curse on the Van Buren's and began this legacy within the Layne girls. 

When the spirit takes over Iris it starts to extract revenge on those who the spirit feels have wronged Iris and through the spirit, Iris begins to unwilling change peoples fates. But what's unknown to her it that every time she changes a fate, she moves closer and closer to losing everything. What bothered me was how Iris initially handled this spirit. She kind of operated under the 'if I ignore it it will go away' mantra. I feel like if in a family where you know magic exists, when a spirit starts talking to you, you tell someone. By the time she decides to seek help, the spirit is strong enough to resist her. Well, duh. It was just little things like this that made me frustrated. Did you learn nothing from your sister???

Overall, this is a very interesting and new series. I continue to be interested in what's going to happen. I was happy to see Aster and Reese make an appearance and I hope to see more of them to come. I'm assuming there will be at least one more based on how this one ended. 

I received an e-copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

ARC Review: Forget Me Always (Lovely Vicious #2) by Sara Wolf

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen
250 Pages

All warfare is deception. Even in high school.

It’s been nineteen days since Isis Blake forgot about him. The boy she can't quite remember. She's stuck in the hospital with a turban-size bandage on her head, more Jell-o than a human being should ever face, and a tiny bit of localized amnesia. Her only goal? To get out of this place before she becomes a complete nutjob herself.

But as Isis’s memories start to return, she realizes there’s something important there at the edges of her mind. Something that may mean the difference between life and death. Something about Sophia, Jack’s girlfriend.

Jack Hunter—the “Ice Prince”—remembers everything. Remembers Isis's purple hair and her smart-ass mouth. Remembers that for a little while, Isis made him feel human. She made him feel. She burned a hole in the ice…and it's time to freeze back up. Boys like him don't deserve girls like her. Because Jack is dangerous. And that danger might be the only thing protecting her from something far more threatening.

Her past.

Well, I didn't like this one as much as I liked the first one. I don't know, this is a hard series for me to rate. On one hand, I absolutely love the undertones of the plot that the author sneaks in there. And then there's the snark, and if you know anything about me, you know that I love love love snark. But then there's the story itself and the snark overload to the point that I just want Isis to shut up. frustrating.
Forget Me Always begins with Isis having selective amnesia. She remembers everything about her past except anything surrounding Jack. It's almost like her brain was just like, 'nope, not going there'. While in the hospital, Isis befriends the mysterious Sophie and the events surrounding Jack's past all start to fall into place.

For a work of contemporary fiction to make sense, the events in the book need to seem as if they would happen in real life. They need to be believable actions. Most of what happened in this book just didn't seem plausible and that alone kept taking me out of the story. It was drama with a capitol D. There were too many subplots that when tied together either left so much information out that it didn't make sense or just jumbled up together and were forgotten. It's almost like Wolf forgot what story she wanted to tell: love, mystery, self-actualization, comedy...

But again, what kept me going and what I loved from the first book is Isis's pain. Not in the way of, I want her to hurt forever. But more in the way of how constant bullying and torment can take effect on a person. I want to see her heal and that's the story that I am interested in. To stop putting up this comedic front because that's not who she is. Yes, I do believe that Isis has snark and humor within her, but the way it's showcased now is very much obviously a front.

The one thing Wolf does exceptionally well is write emotional pain. You almost don't see it in the first book because of the humor, but it makes its presence known here in the second. With all of our characters heading out to college, I'm interested in knowing how all of the events in book 2 will effect each of them and how will they heal. Will they heal?

Book two's always tend to be the bridge from here to there in a trilogy. Well, this one kept me interested so I guess it did it's job.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 7, 2016

ARC Review: Finding Jade by Mary Jennifer Payne

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 17, 2016
Publisher: Dundurn
216 Pages

The year is 2030, and climate change is making life on Earth more challenging. In the midst of it all, fourteen-year-old Jasmine Guzman struggles to come to terms with the abduction of her twin sister, Jade, and with her mother’s illness. Things go from bad to worse when a series of bizarre occurrences lead Jasmine to fear she’s losing her mind. But, with help from Raphael, a boy at her new school, Jasmine learns she actually has special powers as a Seer that are putting her life in danger.

Most surprising of all, she learns that her sister isn’t missing at all … Jasmine just needs to look in the right place: the Place-in-Between, where the demons dwell.

This one was...well...different. Like one of those where I think I liked it, but I'm not really sure.
Finding Jade takes place in the not so distant future. The world as we know it has succumbed to major climate change making most of the world unlivable. Jasmine and her mother live in Toronto, one of the only major cities to be habitable. But aside from the ever changing climate, Jasmine is also still coming to terms with her twin sisters disappearance. Then Jasmine starts a new school, one where she knows no one, and suddenly weird things start to happen - like boarding a subway in 2030 Toronto and traveling to World War 2 London.

This book focuses on the importance of twins and Seers. There's a way coming and the Seers will be the ones to save everyone. Problem is, Jasmine doesn't know she's a seer and doesn't take that information easily. But then she finds out her sister is alive and being kept from her in the In-Between, of sorts. Armed with another set of twins and mysterious boy, Jasmine ventures into the Place In-Between to rescue her sister, no matter the cost.

I liked what the author was going for. It's a bunch of tropes that have been used, but not quite in this way. Payne was trying something new. But somewhere along the way, it just became a little too much. There was just too much going on with so much information being thrown at us. I didn't really get a chance to connect with the characters the way that I wanted. Based on the way it ended, I assume it's going to be a series and I would be interested in seeing where the author takes it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

ARC Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
400 Pages

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Ugh...this was just...

And I really wanted to love it because that cover is beautiful and I love that same sex relationships are starting to break into young adult, but I just couldn't.

Dennaleia (Denna) travels to the country of Mynaria to wed the Prince with whom she's been promised to since pretty much birth. Their wedding will solidify an alliance between their countries. But Denna's hiding something. She has an affinity for fire - a kind of magic that's not tolerated in her new land. When people start dying from magical means, Denna starts to wonder when they will point the finger at her. And on top of all of her troubles, she seems to have fallen in love with the Prince's sister, Mare. 

Gah! It could have been so good!

But alas, it was mostly people just sitting around talking about what they should do. How has this country survived so long by just placing blame wherever they felt like it. It was pretty much, 'This county over here hates us. It's them. Let's plan an attack.' Great deduction skills there. Never mind all of this evidence to the contrary.

Then there was the love story - or rather, lack of. Mare despises Denna instantly. Then is forced to teach her how to ride a horse (yup, the caretaker of the horses is named Mare...okaayyy...). And somewhere they fall in love. If anyone can find out where this happened in the book, please let me know. I seemed to have missed it and just jumped from hate to love.

And there was no real character development. It's like the author wrote her character descriptions down as:
Mare - hates anything feminine, rebellious, bad
Denna - proper, perfect, good

And that's all. Such a small little box for the two main characters. The side characters weren;t much better. Whatever first line the author used to describe them was basically how they were for the rest of the book - which was mostly things like Prince, King, Lord... no one was interesting. Character growth is so important in books.

The world building was lacking. Important history glossed over to further the plot faster. Also, is this a series? Because it kind of ended like one.

Sigh...pretty cover, I need to stop falling to your whims!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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