New Adult Book Review – THE BLOOD WILL DRY by Kate L. Mary

THE BLOOD WILL DRY by Kate L. Mary

THE BLOOD WILL DRY by Kate L. Mary

Synopsis
Five years after an alien invasion, the earth is unrecognizable. The human race has been decimated and the sun completely blotted out by dark clouds that bring constant rain. All indigenous plant life has been killed off and replaced by vegetation that has proven to be as deadly as it is invasive, and the aliens that have taken over the planet are seemingly invincible.

Living in a crowded building with other survivors, Diana Foster wants nothing more than to forget what she lost the day the aliens arrived. But an incoming platoon brings a familiar face, one that not only opens old wounds, but also forces her to deal with the painful memories she’s worked hard to forget. Bryan may not be the same cocky kid he was before the invasion, but his sudden appearance still turns Diana’s world upside down in ways she never expected. When he showed up she knew it would mean finally facing her past, but she never thought she’d find a future that was actually worth living.

After years of struggling to find a weakness in the aliens’ defenses, Diana stumbles upon a solution just as a new and more deadly threat surfaces. Faced with an attraction she never expected and a battle that most believe can’t be won, Diana must work through her painful past as the survivors mount a battle that may determine the fate of mankind. If her plan fails it very well could be the end of humanity, but if works it will mean having a real future, and a chance to allow the blood to dry once and for all.

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of Kate L. Mary’s Moonchild series, but this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. THE BLOOD WILL DRY is set in a near-future dystopian America after an alien invasion. Think the TNT series Falling Skies. The premise is fantastic with the survivors attempting to live beside the aliens they refer to as bugs. At least until something changes after nearly five years of peaceful co-existence. A ragtag group sets out on a suicide mission to reclaim their planet. At the heart of the story is Diana, who lost everything she loved on the day of the attack. Along with her friends, they discover the bugs’ weaknesses and attempt to use those against them.

Plot
The plot is primarily the story of Diana and taking down the aliens, but there is a strong romantic subplot involving the younger brother of her dead husband. The romance didn’t work for me, since it was nearly a love at first sight kind of thing. There was no build-up, no “will they or won’t they”, the kind of romance I’ve come to expect from Kate L. Mary. The alien plot, on the other hand, is a gripping, intense, rollercoaster ride of action and suspense. While there are no jaw-dropping twists or unexpected turns, the story is well plotted and entertaining.

Characters
The characters are where the book falls short for me. I loved the depth and development of all of her characters in the Moonchild series, so maybe I expected too much here. I found Diana to be exceedingly annoying, to the point that I had a hard time caring what happened to her. The romance between Diana and David was too fast and almost forced. Diana experienced very little growth, unless going from annoying to super annoying is considered growth. However, Diana’s best friend, Daisy, was a breath of fresh air and I think this story could have been a solid 4 stars for me if she’d been the protagonist.

World Building
The world building is where the author shines in everything I’ve ever read of hers and THE BLOOD WILL DRY is no exception. The dark, post-apocalyptic world she creates is both depressingly awful and realistically hopeful. Her alien antagonists are well constructed and suitably evil.

What I Enjoyed About THE BLOOD WILL DRY
1. The setting.
 Having been born in Dayton, Ohio, I absolutely loved reading about so many of the local landmarks and neighborhoods of my childhood. I haven’t been back in more years than I care to think about, but even covered in all those vines, I can still vividly picture many of the locations mentioned.

2. Daisy. Her bubbling optimism was a contrast to Diana’s eternal pessimism. More than that, she’s vulnerable, honest, and has a great arc.

3. The plot. The author does a great job of creating a well-plotted scifi adventure.

4. Aliens. Okay, I didn’t LIKE the aliens, but I enjoyed the horrors the author showed us of their world, bringing an even darker element to an already bleak tale.

5. The strategy. Without giving anything away, I love the strategy the team comes up with to fight back against the aliens and the fact that it’s been right there in front of them the whole time.

Bottom Line
A good scifi/dystopian/post-apocalyptic tale, but with a protagonist I had trouble connecting with or rooting for.

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About the Book – Read for free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: THE BLOOD WILL DRY
Author: Kate L. Mary
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Pages: 322
Genre: New Adult Dystopian/SciFi/Post-Apocalyptic Romance
Rating:
 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Kate L. Mary

Author Kate L. Mary

About the Author
Award-winning author of WHEN WE WERE HUMAN and the Amazon best-selling BROKEN WORLD series, Kate L. Mary writes everything from post-apocalyptic tales of the undead to new adult contemporary romance. A mother of four and an Air Force wife, her days are divided between keeping her household in order and creating new worlds for readers to get lost in.

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Where to find Kate L. Mary
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review – PRESCIENT (The Delphi Chronicles) by Derek Murphy

Prescient (Delphi Chronicles #1) by Derek Murphy

Prescient (Delphi Chronicles #1) by Derek Murphy

Synopsis
A GENETIC EXPERIMENT. AN APOCALYPTIC VISION. A RACE AGAINST TIME.

You’d think time-travel would be a useful gift, for cheating on tests and winning the lottery–stuff like that. I might have enjoyed my ability…if I hadn’t discovered humanity is on the brink of a genetically-engineered apocalypse.

Bodies rotting in the streets.
Wilderness eating away at my hometown.
Monstrous creatures hunting down the few survivors.

No one can save the world… except me.Because for me, it hasn’t even happened yet.For me, it might never happen.

All I need to do is kill the man who will destroy the world. The father of my high-school crush.

The only problem is, the more time I spend in that dystopian wasteland, the less I want to erase it.To save the future, I’ll need to sacrifice the one person I can’t bear to lose.

Prescient (Prophet of Doom) is a young adult science fiction adventure for fans of the Maze Runner and Divergent. Let yourself be captured by this zombie-infested time travel adventure based on Greek mythology. .

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My Review
Young adult time travelling dystopian with a side of romance? Sign me up. This book is every genre I love rolled into one. The premise is fascinating — a teen girl has the ability to travel to the future where she discovers an earth she doesn’t recognize. Something in the very near future brings about devastation of apocalyptic proportions, and Alicia may be the only one who can stop it. While her ability to time travel isn’t fully explained, it has to do with experimental drugs that only affect Alicia in a way that allows her to time jump. At first, she believes she’s dreaming, except it’s far too real and she has lasting physical reminders of her journey. Of course her friends think she’s crazy at first, but soon they’re on board. However, the more time Alicia spends in the future and the people she meets there, she’s less sure disrupting the future and preventing their existence is something she wants to do.

Plot
The story is well-plotted and intriguing. It’s a little slow in a couple of spots early on, but more than makes up for it later. As Alicia navigates her two worlds, more than a few twists are thrown her, and the reader’s, way, adding complexity and intrigue. My only real complaint is that although this is the first book in the series, it just sort of ends. Not on a cliffhanger, but more like in the middle of the story. I kept trying to swipe my Kindle to see if there were more pages, because surely that couldn’t be the end.

Characters
Most of the characters were interesting enough, but this is really a plot-driven story, so they don’t have a lot of depth. I don’t know if that’s all that necessary in this type of book, though. Alicia is well-rounded enough as the protagonist, so I was able to overlook the lack of depth in the supporting characters.

What I Enjoyed About PRESCIENT
1. Premise.
 Time travel is my favorite genre of all time.

2. Alicia. She’s a strong female lead, and although she’s written by a male, she comes off completely female.

3. Zombies. While they’re not called that, it’s what they are and including them in this dystopian adventure was pure genius.

4. World Building. The author does a decent job of setting up the rules for his world. I look forward to exploring more in the next book in the series.

5. Twists. Loved all the twists and turns. Some I saw coming, but most I didn’t.

Bottom Line
A fun, unique time travelling dystopian zombie adventure.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: PRESCIENT
Series: The Delphi Chronicles #1
Author: Derek Murphy
Publisher: Urban Epics
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Pages: 460
Category: Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian/Time Travel
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Derek Murphy

Author Derek Murphy

About the Author
I wrote my MA thesis on Harry Potter and my PhD thesis on Paradise Lost. Now I write YA fantasy novels and design book covers. I blog about self-publishing, book design and book marketing on www.creativindie.com and am renting a castle for Nanowrimo 2016. I hope you like my writing!

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Where to Find Derek Murphy
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – NEXIS (Tricksters #1) by A.L. Devore

NEXIS (Tricksters #1) by A.L. Davroe

NEXIS (Tricksters #1) by A.L. Davroe

Synopsis
In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.

Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again.

But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is.

And it’s been waiting for Ella.

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My Review
NEXIS is a rollercoaster ride in only the best of amusement parks. A soup pot of adventure, virtual reality, science fiction, romance, in a utopian/dystopian setting, it’s a delicious read. Ella is the daughter of the creator of Nexis, a virtual reality game that is taking her world by storm. After a tragic accident leaves Ella with a life she barely recognizes, she escapes into Nexis. Inside the game, she meets Gus and his merry band of friends and gets sucked into their quest. In Nexis, nothing is as it appears, setting up a fantastic adventure full of action, drama, and intrigue.

Plot
The plot centers around the quest, but there’s more to it, including Ella’s budding romance with Gus and a number of mysteries that I won’t spoil. Some I had figured out from the beginning, others not so much. I think that’s what makes this so much fun to read. It’s part story, part game, part story within a story.

Characters
Ella is annoying at times, but given how she was raised, I could overlook most of it. Gus is an enigma who becomes less so through the story. The rest of the characters play minor roles for the most part. This is probably one of the areas that I least liked about the story. The characters seem to only be there to support the plot, so it’s a good thing the plot is so amazing.

World Building
This is where the story shines like the midday summer sun. Author, A.L. Davroe has created a fascinating world that is layered, detailed, and full of rules that drive everything. What makes this world building so interesting is that there are multiple worlds, each just as detailed as the previous. At times it can be tough to keep it all straight, but the author does most of the hard work for you.

What I Enjoyed About NEXIS
1. World building.
 Absolutely top notch. Complex, detailed, and vibrant.

2. Plot. The plot is layered and brilliant. I love the whole concept behind this and can’t wait to dig into the second book in the series.

3. Gus. He’s the one character I felt had the most development. Guster is infinitely captivating, and while I was pretty sure I figured out who he was from the beginning, his character unfolded through the pages like a flower blooming in spring.

4. Nexis. Why is this not a real thing? If it was, I’d have a hard time not going into Nexis every day.

5. Technology. The author’s imagination comes alive, creating technology that would make Steve Jobs salivate.

Bottom Line
Nexis is a plot-driven story that delivers with plenty of action and lots of twists.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: NEXIS
Series: Tricksters #1
Author: A.L. Davroe
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Entangled

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Author A.L. Davroe

About the Author
I write both YA and adult speculative fiction. I prefer revisionist tales in paranormal, romance, Steampunk, and fantasy. I’m the author of Salvation Station (adult psych horror), The City Steam Collection (adult psych horror), For Your Heart (YA Paranormal Romance) and my YA Sci-Fi novel, Nexis, is coming out with Entangled Publishing in 2015!

By day, I live in Connecticut with my two feline hench-creatures.  I’m a terrible blusher, have a weak spot for cuddly animals, love Laffy Taffy and Cadbury MiniEggs, and I’m a huge advocate of alternative healing methods.  I also wear Vibram five-finger toe shoes and corsets…Though not always in the same ensemble.  I’m a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.  I also suffer from Resting Bitchface Syndrome (RBS), so even though I might look like I’ll tie you in a knot if you come near me, I’m more afraid of you than you are of me (see blushing problem above).

Where to Find A.L. Davroe
GoodreadsWebsite | NewsletterFacebookTwitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Young Adult Book Review – WHEN PLANETS FALL (Stars Fall Circle) by Abby J. Reed

WHEN PLANETS FALL (Stars Fall Circle #1) by Abby J. Reed

WHEN PLANETS FALL (Stars Fall Circle #1) by Abby J. Reed

Synopsis
Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.

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My Review
WHEN PLANETS FALL is unlike any other book I’ve read. Mixing equal parts science fiction, dystopian, and romantic elements, it weaves a tale of complex characters in an even more complex world. Told from three different first-person points-of-view, I initially thought it was one POV too many, but about halfway in, it becomes apparent that third POV is necessary for the story the author wants to tell. Breaker is a fix-it guy, able to make just about anything with the parts at hand. Malani is a red blood, raised by the blue bloods after the green bloods kidnapped and tortured her. To save her life, they infused her with living metal, which creates whatever the person needs most. In Malani’s case, it’s a set of metal wings. Luka is in the militia with dreams of advancement. When the war between the red, green, and blue bloods comes to a head, their three worlds collide in unexpected ways and no one is exactly as they seem. The author has a unique voice that I immediately fell in love with. This is her debut novel, so I’m looking forward to so much more from her. She paints a brilliant picture of her settings and characters. There were several twists I never saw coming, particularly one near the end.

Plot
Breaker stumbles upon a wrecked starship while out scouting, which triggers the green bloods to kidnap him. Their king holds the lives of his red-blooded community over his head unless he fixes starship. While in custody, he meets Malani and the two of them form an unlikely alliance in order to escape. With the safety of his home hanging in the balance, Breaker has no choice but to repair the ship for the green blood s. Between Melani, his family, and a very suspicious Luka, Breaker struggles with where his loyalties lie, but underneath it all, is a driving need to protect those he loves.

Characters
The three main characters were all extremely well developed, with sufficient growth through the first book in the series. Even secondary characters came across fairly well developed. I found Breaker’s parents to be somewhat two-dimensional as well as the red-blooded leader, but overall, I think the character development was great.

What I Loved About WHEN PLANTES FALL
1. World building.
 This is among the best I’ve read in young adult fiction. The author has created a vibrant world with stunning technology that feels both exotic and familiar.Everything from the red trees to the way blue bloods reproduce is not only unique, but contributes to the plot. Even the language was great. It took a bit to pick up the lingo, but now I use “banging” as one of my favorite swear words.

2. Breaker. This tough teen with an artificial leg named Circuit is tough, independent, cunning, and charming. He has a solid moral compass, even if his means are questionable.

3. Malani. The girl who belongs nowhere with the metallic wings is a one-of-a-kind protagonist. Because she’s human and not some paranormal being, everything she does is flawed and imperfect, but she’s so easy to root for.

4. The cover. When I first saw the cover, I was drawn to it, but once I was deep into the story, I kept going back to the cover to look at it. It truly encapsulates the story within.

5. Luka. I’m still on the fence about him, but I cannot deny he’s one of the most complex characters in the story. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes him next.

Bottom Line
I loved this story and all of the characters. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: WHEN PLANETS FALL
Series: Stars Fall Circle #1
Author: Abby J. Reed
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Pages: 420
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Abby J. Reed

Author Abby J. Reed

About the Author
Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, When Planets Fall, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint.

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Where to Find Abby J. Reed
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr
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Young Adult Book Review – Liberation (Moonchild) by Kate L. Mary

Liberation (Moonchild #2) by Kate L. Mary

Liberation (Moonchild #2) by Kate L. Mary

Synopsis
From two-time award-winning author, Kate L. Mary, comes the sequel to MOONCHILD, “a much needed breath of fresh air in the world of YA fantasy.” After surviving the auction and a near death experience at the hands of Asher’s father, Scarlett Moon is more than ready for life to settle down, and with each passing day she starts to feel more at home in Columbus. Even with Asher ready for more than Scarlett can give, she manages to fall into a routine that almost feels like a normal life.

But one distress call is all it takes to destroy the serenity the group has managed to build.

As far as anyone knew, Paget had moved on with her life after storming out months ago, but the fear in her voice when she calls the warehouse tells a different story. Even though Scarlett never liked Asher’s ex to begin with, she can’t help feeling a little bit responsible for Paget’s situation.

Searching in the seediest part of the city, the group picks up clues as they try to piece together what might have happened. The more Scarlett learns about what the other woman has been through over the last few months, the more concerned she becomes. Even worse: there’s no sign of Paget anywhere in Columbus.

With all the clues pointing in one direction, the group leaves the city and heads for Hocking Hills. Only it seems the danger may have followed them, leaving nothing but death and destruction in its wake and putting Paget in more danger than ever before. As Scarlett learns more about the woman who used to hold Asher’s heart, she suddenly finds herself unable to deny how she really feels about him. Only, with Paget in trouble, Scarlett can’t help wondering if Asher might still have feelings for his ex.

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My Review
I freaking love this series! I was delighted to find out that Moonchild was the first book in the series and bought the sequel the day it came out. Book 2 picks up a few months after the end of Moonchild. Scarlett is still convinced she’s bad for Asher and Asher is still convinced she’s wrong. Things have settled into a new normal until Asher’s ex, Paget, sends a distress call. With no idea where she is or where the call came from, the pirates set out to find her and bring her home. While there is no love-loss between Scarlett and Paget, Scarlett knows she must be part of the rescue effort. These are the moments I absolutely adore her. Her sense of duty and right and wrong is so much a part of who she is.

Plot
The plot centers around the search and rescue of Paget, but the romance is still a very strong subplot and incredibly well done! I love the angst and drama surrounding Scarlett and Asher’s relationship. There is so much action in the plot, the story moves at a clipped pace, only pausing long enough to allow us to catch our breath. Once again the story is well-plotted and expertly executed.

Characters
All the characters I fell in love with in the first book are back and a few new ones are added. Scarlett and Asher both undergo a decent amount of development, more so than before. The good news is, there’s still plenty of room for growth, so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of these two. The author creates so much depth in her characters that there are still many unexplored depths to discover in this installment. We not only learn more about Scarlett and Asher, but Paget really comes into her own.

World Building
The world building continues to be one of the most impressive I’ve read in the past few years. Kate L. Mary’s attention to detail makes her settings come alive in very vibrant and realistic fashion.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The editing.
 Once again, both the content and copy editing disappointed me, pulling me out of the story more than a few times.

2. The cover. The cover still doesn’t grab my attention, but I’m so invested in the series now, it could be a plain brown wrapper and I’d still pick up the next book.

What I Loved About Liberation
1. The setting.
 Again the world the author has created just shines. I love everything from the settings to the costumes to the technology.

2. Scarlett. While I was slow to warm to her in the first book, I had no such issues this time around. I was already a big fan. It was great to see some true growth in her. While she’s still a teen and has plenty of angst, she’s starting to mature.

3. The plot. Another perfectly plotted and executed story!

4. Asher. If possible, I love him even more now. We get to see a new side to him, a softer, more vulnerable side and it made him more human.

5. Paget. She’s still the same romantic foil and no fan of Scarlett’s, but she has her own growth in this installment and seeing more of her, hearing more of her story, endeared her to me in a way she hadn’t before.

Bottom Line
Liberation is my favorite book of 2016 and with tighter editing, it would have been damn near perfect!

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About the Book
Title: Liberation
Series: Moonchild #2
Author: Kate L. Mary
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Pages: 280
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/SciFi/Steampunk Romance
Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Kate L. Mary

Author Kate L. Mary

About the Author
Award-winning author of WHEN WE WERE HUMAN and the Amazon best-selling BROKEN WORLD series, Kate L. Mary writes everything from post-apocalyptic tales of the undead to new adult contemporary romance. A mother of four and an Air Force wife, her days are divided between keeping her household in order and creating new worlds for readers to get lost in.

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Where to find Kate L. Mary
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review – Moonchild by Kate L. Mary

Moonchild by Kate L. Mary

Synopsis
In a world fueled by greed and corruption, where airships rule the skies and coal mines have been turned into prisons, Scarlett Moon has one goal: Survive. Being tough and looking out for herself is the only way to stay alive, but when her best friend, Rory, is arrested and returned to the mines, all of Scarlett’s carefully built walls threaten to crumble.

After being rescued by an airship full of pirates, led by the sexy and irresistible Asher Kimura, Scarlett finds herself surrounded by cons and fugitives, and thrust into the middle of a coal-smuggling business. When they take her to Columbus, the one place she never wanted to set foot in again, she wants nothing more than to get away. And her discomfort only grows as she becomes increasingly drawn to Asher.

But everything changes when she discovers there may be a way to rescue Rory. Enlisting the pirates’ help, Scarlett sets out on a mission to save her friend, praying that her overwhelming attraction to Asher doesn’t mean the end to her freedom—in more ways than one.

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My Review
One of my favorite books of 2016. This is one of those that will stick with me weeks or months after I’m done. It took me about a third of the book to warm up to Scarlett, but once I did, I loved her immensely. I was worried at first that in order to create a strong female character, the author felt she needed to make her heroine more like a male character. Scarlett is always wanting to hit someone or something. She’s aggressive, uses sex as a diversion, and has a hard time expressing any emotion other than anger. But as we learn more about her backstory, her personality begins to make sense. I still think strong female characters don’t need to be written as guys with skirts, but in this case it works.

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When Scarlett’s best friend, Rory, is taken to the mines, Scarlett gives up any hope of ever seeing her again. She and her friends barely escape capture themselves, only being rescued at the last moment by a group of ragtag pirates, including extremely hot Asher. When Asher explains  what happens to pretty, innocent girls in the mines — they’re auctioned off as sex slaves to the highest bidder — Scarlett enlists the help of her friends to rescue Rory. This is the main plot and it unfolds at a rapid pace as they seek information on Rory’s whereabouts and come up with a rescue plan. Underlying it all is a simmering sexual tension between Scarlett and Asher. The back and forth is worthy of an eye roll or two, but the rest of the story more than makes up for it.

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Plot
The plot is fantastic. Set on rescuing her best friend, Scarlett embarks on a dangerous mission, risking everything for the only person she considers family. The pacing is perfect, unfolding at a clipped rate,without overpowering us with action. There’s enough romance to keep the story from being just an action/adventure and more than adequate character development to make this a well-balanced novel.

Characters
Scarlett is fascinating. As I mentioned above, it took me awhile to warm up to her, but once I did, I was committed. She’s deeply wounded and yet realizes others have had it far worse than she has. That self-awareness is what keeps her from becoming too jaded or wallowing in a pit of self pity that would doom her character in my mind. Asher is the hot, witty pirate with the disarming smile and a past of his own that shapes everything he does. The rest of the characters have their own stories in this dystopian world that Kate L. Mary has created.

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World Building
This is where the story really shines in my eyes. The attention to detail in the author’s vision of a future where technology is taboo and coal-fired steam power is where it’s at. This steampunk world is dark, yet vividly rich, full of airships and pirates and victorian-era costumes that come alive as much as any of the characters that inhabit it.

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What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The editing.
The book could have benefitted from tighter editing. There were more than a few missing/extra words than were easily overlooked. There was also some repetition that was distracting that should have been picked up by a good editor.

2. The cover. There’s nothing really wrong with it except there is nothing really right about it. This is a totally kick-ass steampunk dystopian sci-fi adventure and the cover, along with the title, made me think it was going to be a paranormal romance. I wouldn’t have bothered picking up this book if I’d only seen the cover. Luckily I read the blurb first!

3. The ending. This is the only reason I’m giving the book 4.5 stars instead of 5. I can overlook a crappy cover, because that can be fixed. So can lackluster editing, but the ending is the last thing I have, the thing that sticks with me long after I turn off my Kindle. It feels unfinished, as if this is the first in a series, but there’s no indication it’s only book 1 of anything. I do hope the author decides to write more about these characters and this world. She’s done an incredible job creating everything and there is so much potential for more of Scarlett’s story.

What I Enjoyed About Moonchild
1. The setting.
The author has created this fabulous, futuristic, steampunk world that is vivid and imaginative. Her attention to detail is phenomenal, and yet the world building is subtly worked into the plot.

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2. Scarlett. She’s tough as nails with a heart of gold. Although it took a little bit for me to warm to her, she is everything I want my young adult heroine to be.

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3. The plot. It’s near perfect in it’s development and execution. Only information necessary to move the story forward is provided and is done so in the proper sequence.

4. Asher. The complex pirate with the winning smile won me over at first sight. I’m a sucker for pirates with a heart, think Hook from Once Upon a Time. Asher is all that and a bag of chips!

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5. Loyalty. This is the enduring theme of the story, whether it’s Scarlett’s loyalty to Rory, Dex’s loyalty to Scarlett and Rory, or Asher’s loyalty to everyone he cares about, this works so well in an otherwise dark tale.

Bottom Line
Moonchild is a wonderfully plotted action adventure with deeply developed characters. I will definitely be reading more by this author!

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Moonchild
Author: Kate L. Mary
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Pages: 295
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/SciFi/Steampunk Romance
Rating:
 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Kate L. Mary

Author Kate L. Mary

About the Author
Award-winning author of WHEN WE WERE HUMAN and the Amazon best-selling BROKEN WORLD series, Kate L. Mary writes everything from post-apocalyptic tales of the undead to new adult contemporary romance. A mother of four and an Air Force wife, her days are divided between keeping her household in order and creating new worlds for readers to get lost in.

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Where to find Kate L. Mary
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review – The Departed by Kristy Cooper

The Departed by Kristy Cooper

The Departed by Kristy Cooper

Synopsis
What if someone tried to fake the rapture?

When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen’s best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can’t be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.

At first, Gwen doesn’t know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen’s dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.

Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free..

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My Review
I love the whole concept behind The Departed. When 300 thousand people disappear overnight without a trace, the world’s Christians believe the Rapture has occurred and they missed the bus. Panic drives people to search for answers, including both religious and scientific. High school sophomore, Gwen, lost her best friend, Lana, in the disappearance. She’s caught between the boy she likes, who’s an atheist, and her other close friend Mindy, who’s trying to convert her to become a True Believer. At home, she’s caught in the middle of a similar battle between her parents.

Plot
The plot is intriguing. The idea of a faked Rapture has so much potential for conflict and author, Kristy Cooper, delivers. The pacing is good and I never found myself skimming. There were a couple of interesting twists to keep the reader hooked.

The Writing
The writing disappointed me. There are paragraphs of exposition that are difficult to get through and far too much telling rather than showing. It’s a good story but could have benefited from the services of a decent editor.

The Characters
I love Gwen. She’s a sweet main character with a healthy dose of skepticism, probably as a result of being raised by a scientist. Isaiah is the potential love interest and self-professed atheist. He comes across as very authentic. And Gwen’s other friend, Mindy, is believable as the teen who turns to religion to find meaning in what’s happened.

The Ending
So the ending didn’t really work for me. It just sort of stopped, nothing really resolved. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger either. In fact, the author includes the first page or two from the next book in the series, and I think it would have been better to end the first book either a few pages earlier, or included the first part of the next book in this story as a cliffhanger ending. I realize that can upset readers, but I think I’d rather be upset than left feeling “meh” after the ending.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About The Departed
1.The story. It’s a great premise and a good plot.

2. Gwen. I love her perseverance when it comes to finding out the truth.

3. Isaiah. He’s one of the truly good guys in young adult fiction.

4. The cultish religion. The author does a great job of creating a plausible reality with power-hungry crazy religious types as well as logical, honorable believers, who truly believe they’ve been chosen by God for their adventure.

5. The plotting. It was really well done and the main plot points were wrapped up by the end.

Bottom Line
The Departed is a great premise with decent plotting and likeable characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Departed
Author: Kristy Cooper
Publisher: Oliver
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Pages: 137
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Kristy Cooper

Author Kristy Cooper

About the Author
Kristy Cooper found herself often contemplating unusual what-if scenarios and knew it was time to start writing them down. She worked as a librarian for years and is now busy raising small children and writing YA novels. Stay up to date with her books at kristycooper.com.
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Where to find Kristy Cooper
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Ignite the Shadows by Ingrid Seymour

Ignite the Shadows Blog Tour

Ignite the Shadows (Ignite the Shadows #1) by Ingrid Seymour

Ignite the Shadows (Ignite the Shadows #1) by Ingrid Seymour

Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Marci Guerrero is one of the best teen hackers in Seattle. However, she’d give up all her talents to know she isn’t crazy.

Marci feels possessed by what she perceives as shadowy spectres that take control of her body and make her do crazy things. While spying on the clandestine group known as IgNiTe, she’s confronted by the leader, James McCray. His presence stirs the spectres inside her brain into a maddening frenzy. Her symptoms and ability to control them don’t go unnoticed by James, who soon recruits her and shows her the awful truth.

Half of the world’s population is infected by sentient parasites. They bind themselves to the human brain and replace the pathways for all thoughts and actions. The creatures then morph their hosts into grotesque monsters with extraordinary strengths. Winged, clawed, fanged half-humans become living nightmares. Now Marci wishes she was crazy, because the truth is worse.

She’s infected.

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My Review
Ignite the Shadows is a dark story of brain parasites, survival, friendship, and loyalty. Marci has spent her entire life chasing the shadows inside her. They only seem to be getting worse as she gets older until she’s convinced she’s crazy.. Until she meets an unlikely group of people who show her the truth, which is far more terrifying than anything she could have imagined. She and her best friend, a non-infected, Xave, join forces with IgNiTe to do something before it’s too late. Add a long-lost twin brother and this book is rife with conflict, danger, and excitement.

Plot
Author, Ingrid Seymour’s, pacing is nearly perfect. From the opening pages we’re plunged into a world of danger that seems out of place for a sixteen-year-old girl. At least until we discover the horrifying details of her life, and soon we realize we’re not in Kansas anymore. Well, at least not present day Seattle anyway. This dystopian future is scary and nearly hopeless, yet the story isn’t one of hopelessness, but rather one of promise, if only we can just hang on.

The Writing
The writing is unique, adding to the themes of darkness and fear. I love the way she shows us what’s inside Marci’s head instead of telling.

The Characters
The characters are fantastic, deep, rounded, seriously wounded. Marci is amazing as the haunted heroine with the twin brother separated at birth. With demons running around in her head, a dead father she was close to, a mother who pines for the child she lost, there’s not much right going in Marci’s life and she’s sufficiently jaded. Xave, the best friend and potential love interest is also great, although not nearly as wounded. He has unrequited feelings for Marci. Or are they?

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Ignite the Shadows
1.The pacing. It starts off with a bang and never stops.

2. Marci. She’s tough, vulnerable, sharp-tongued, terrified, and brave all rolled into one.

3. Xave. I love him. His feelings for Marci are evident from the beginning. He’s a loyal friend, even if he’s setting himself up for heartbreak.

4. The science. The author does a great job of making her terrifying future plausible.

5. Elliott. Ingrid Seymour has created the perfect villain, the kind we love to hate.

Bottom Line
Ignite the Shadows is a terrifying thrill ride with a well-crafted plot and characters you can root for.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Ignite the Shadows
Author: Ingrid Seymour
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: October 22, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Ingrid Seymour

Author Ingrid Seymour

About the Author
Ingrid Seymour is the author of IGNITE THE SHADOWS (Harper Voyager). When she’s not writing books, she spends her time working as a software engineer, cooking exotic recipes, hanging out with her family and working out. She writes young adult and new adult fiction in a variety of genres, including Sci-Fi, urban fantasy, romance, paranormal and horror.

Her favorite outings involve a trip to the library or bookstore where she immediately gravitates toward the YA section. She’s an avid reader and fangirl of many amazing books. She is a dreamer and a fighter who believes perseverance and hard work can make dreams come true.

She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, two kids and a cat named Mimi.
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Where to Find Ingrid Seymour
Goodreads | Website  | FacebookTwitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Rising Tides by Katy Haye

Rising Tides Blog Tour

Rising Tides by Katy Haye

Rising Tides by Katy Haye

Synopsis
The truth won’t stay submerged forever

City is the last civilised place left on a drowned Earth, a floating town built from metal and plastic from the Time Before. It’s the only home doctor’s daughter Libby Marchmont has ever known or wanted – until her father helps the wrong patient and she’s forced to flee.

Cosimo came to City for one reason. Then he should have vanished back to his people on the Wastes. But what about his promise to Libby’s father?

Stranded in the middle of the sea, can the two enemies learn to trust each other? And can they survive long enough to uncover the truth: City isn’t the safe haven Libby always believed it to be …

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My Review
Like Waterworld with teens, Rising Tides is a fascinating dystopian tale of life on earth after the rising seas all but obliterate life on earth. A small floating city survives along with an island that grows all of their food. Liberty, daughter of the most respected doctor on all of City, and Cosimo, a reamer and nautilus man, someone with surgically implanted gills, form an unlikely partnership when circumstances force them together.

It takes a little bit to understand the vocabulary of this future world, but once I did, I was as submerged as the houses from the Time Before. After Liberty’s father is killed, she flees with Cosimo, a person of lower class and suspect morals. The two deal with massive trust issues, secrets, and more than a few mysteries. After a storm destroys the boat they’re fleeing in, they wash ashore only to be faced with more distrust and prejudices. But if they’re ever going to find out the truth, they need to trust each other first.

Plot
The plotting is really well done, moving at a consistent pace with lots of action, suspense and drama. It primarily centers around the secrets that City and the others harbor from Liberty. She spends most of the book trying to figure out what’s true and what’s not. But it’s also about seeking a sense of belonging. She never felt as if she fit in at home and now she’s wondering if she can make a life for herself elsewhere, but the more she’s with others, the more she feels like an outcast no matter where she goes.

Characters
Liberty and Cosimo are both well-developed, deep, flawed, and in need of some personal growth, which they both get. Haye does an excellent job of differentiating her characters, and the supporting cast on City, New Eden and elsewhere are more than just background noise and round out the cast of characters nicely.

The Writing
The writing is a little stiff for a first-person teen narrative. The author is Australian, though, and I’ve noticed this is more common in Australian young adult fiction. Still, having taking in two Aussie teens through an exchange program, I know they are just as goofy and full of teen lingo as their American peers, and I would have liked to have seen more of that in the dialogue and interior monologue of the younger characters. What the dialogue lacks, though, the descriptions more than make up for. Katy Haye paints vibrant canvases full details of her bleak future world, drawing me right in.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Rising Tides:
1. World building. Katy Haye’s world building is flawless. It’s easy to understand how her world came to be and the details she feeds us, are always the right thing at the right time.

2. Cosimo. He’s abrasive and arrogant, but loyal and nearly impossible not to love.

3. Libby. She’s abrasive in her own way, and at times grates on my nerves, but I always pulled for her, rooted for her to keep digging and get at the truth.

4. The pacing. It was nearly perfect.

5. Technology. Although technically part of world building, it deserves it’s own shout-out because it was so creative. Everything from the implanted gills of the nautilus men to the technology that allows humans to create and inhabit City were inventive and added to the readability and enjoyability of the story.

Bottom Line
Rising Tides is a fascinating young adult dystopian tale with a dousing of adventure and a splash of romance.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Rising Tides
Author: Katy Haye
Publisher: Plumshine Books
Release Date: June 24, 2016
Pages: 264
Genre: Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Katy Haye

Author Katy Haye

About the Author
Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else’s imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling.

When not lost in a good book, Katy may be found on her allotment growing veg and keeping hens in order to maximise her chances of survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse or similar catastrophe (admittedly, this would not help if the entire country flooded…).

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Where to Find Katy Haye
Goodreads | Website  | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
Win a book-lover’s survival kit.

Your survival kit is as follows:
1. An Amazon voucher for £10/$15US/$20CAN, AUS, NZ. Load up your Kindle with books to read, while shops remain.
2. A solar charger so when the national grid fails you can still read your books.
3. A mirror. When you are stranded in the open sea you can signal for help by reflecting the sun’s light. Alternatively, if you have no wish to be rescued because you still have reading to do, flip the mirror over to depict the slogan, “Go away I’m reading.”
4. Ribbon bookmark. If all your books have been washed away by the rising seas, this can be rolled up and packed into the neck of a cut-open bottle and will double-up as a water filter. Note: this will not desalinate salt water, sorry.
5. A bag to put the last of your belongings into. DO NOT LEAVE THIS BEHIND.

Check out the ways to win with Rafflecopter.

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Legacy (Legacy Series) by Ellery A. Kane

Legacy Blog Tour

Legacy (Legacy #1) by Ellery A. Kane

Legacy (Legacy #1) by Ellery A. Kane

Synopsis
How do you want to feel today?

In 2041, the choice is yours.

San Francisco is deserted, the Bay Bridge bombed, and the BART subway trains grounded. The Guardians, members of an elite and mysterious government-appointed military police force, are maintaining order at all costs—thanks to emotion-altering drugs like Emovere that suppress fear and anxiety. Lex Knightley, daughter of a prominent forensic psychiatrist, risks entering the devastated city to partner with the Resistance, a group of rebels intent upon exposing the dangers of Emovere. Lex discovers an ally in Quin McAllister, a magnetic Guardian Force recruit with a haunting past that binds them together. As she uncovers the secrets of the Guardian Force and confronts the truth about her family, Lex begins to realize that even those closest to her are not quite who they seem.

Legacy is the first book in the Legacy trilogy but can also be enjoyed as a standalone..

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My Review
Legacy has all the elements of a good young adult dystopian — a believable premise, an oppressive government, a heart wrenching romance, and lots of action. When sixteen-year-old Lex is sent by her mother into the city of San Francisco to infiltrate the Resistance, she’s not even sure she’ll survive. After she’s forced to kill a member of the Guardian Force, she becomes someone she never wanted to be. Distrustful of everyone and everything, she finds herself reluctantly attracted to Resistance member, Quin, a former member of the Guardian Force. The two begin a fragile friendship that blossoms into more as the foundation crumbles beneath their feet. They flee back to the suburbs to find answers from Lex’s mom and discover the fate of the world as they know it may rest upon them.

Plot
The plot was equal parts action/adventure and romance and both were well done. The chemistry between Lex and Quin is immediate, but the relationship develops slowly. Quin has his secrets which force him to keep Lex at arms’ length at first. But everyone has secrets and they’re revealed one by one, adding twists and turns to the adventure half of the story.

Characters
The characters were really well developed, including secondary and even tertiary characters. They all had a depth that brought them to life. I liked all of the characters well enough, but there was no single character that I loved, and that may be what has kept me from rating this book higher than four stars.

Writing
The writing was great. The author’s voice is fresh and youthful and her writing is fluid. It may have been one of my favorite aspects of the story.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. I couldn’t really embrace a single character. I liked them all and rooted for them, but there was no single character, not even Lex, that I was pulling for over all the others.
2. The early pacing. It got off to a slow start, but once it found it’s footing, it took off.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Legacy
1. The romance. It’s angsty and intense, just the way I like my teen romances.
2. The danger. The author does an excellent job of seamlessly weaving danger into the conflict and romance.
3. The science. Kane’s dystopian future relies heavily on science and she does a good job of presenting a believable future where science is our downfall.
4. The writing. I love the use of metaphors and the fluid writing style that remains youthful as well as dark, appropriate to the subject matter.
5. The ending. The book wraps up the main story questions while leaving the door wide open for a sequel.

Bottom Line
Legacy is a solid young adult dystopian with the right mix of action and romance. I’ve already bought the next two books in the series!

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Legacy
Series: Legacy #1
Author: Ellery A. Kane
Publisher: Balboa Press
Pages: 258
Category: Young Adult Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Ellery A. Kane

Author Ellery A. Kane

About the Author
Forensic psychologist by day, young-adult novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing—professionally and creatively—for as long as she can remember. Just like her main character, Lex, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. An avid short story writer as a teenager, Ellery recently began writing for enjoyment again, and the Legacy series was born.

Ellery’s debut novel, Legacy, has received several awards, including winning the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, young adult, e-book category. Ellery was recently selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition..

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Where to find Ellery A. Kane
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

There Once Were Stars Blog Tour

There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

Synopsis
Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations.

Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?

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My Review
I love the concept of this book — young adult dystopian meets The Walking Dead with a twist of Stephen King’s Under the Dome and a dash of Wall-E — and it delivers. After a virus turns people into flesh-eating monsters, the earth’s population builds protective domes and nukes the outside to kill the zombies and the virus. They live inside their protective bubbles until the outside is safe enough to inhabit again. Four generations later, a new breed of pioneers search the great outdoors for evidence of sustainability outside the dome. When Natalia is just nine, her parents are killed on an expedition due to radiation exposure and the expeditions cease. Orphaned Nat is sent to live with her grandparents until she is eighteen.

After graduating from the Institute, Nat needs to figure out what to do with her life, but she’s uninspired until she sees two people outside the dome — alive and well. Suddenly Nat wants answers and her reckless pursuit of those answers lands her in trouble with her dome’s leadership, her grandparents, and even her best friend, Jak, who has also been harboring romantic feelings for Nat for a long time. When Nat is forced to work with Evan, one of the Outsiders she saw, she discovers the dome is hiding a lot from its citizens. Evan and Nat work together to expose the secrets and seek the freedom the both so desperately want.

Plot
The plot was interesting. There was definitely a lot of intrigue over what the Dome government was hiding. The pacing was perfect. Never once did I feel as if anything stalled, although there was some repetitiveness, but it was easy to overlook. I didn’t much care for the love triangle, though. Nat was too back and forth with her feelings. And I don’t mean over the span of days or weeks, I mean in the span of minutes. One minute she’s pushing a guy away, the next minute she’s mad that he’s ignoring her. Once or twice would have been just flakey teenage behavior, but it happened too many times and far too often to not roll my eyes.

Characters
Most of the characters were interesting and developed, but this is a plot-driven story so there isn’t a lot of growth in any of the characters during the story with the exception of maybe Jak. Some of the more villainous characters were cliche, but I think that works in a story like this. Sometimes you just need  your bad guys to be bad, and their sad backstory isn’t necessary.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Nat’s waffling on her feelings. It was too much too often.
2. Lack of character growth. Even though the story was plot-driven, I would have liked a little more growth to really suck me into the story.
3. The writing. It was a little clunky at times which pulled me out of the story. It may just have been my version, since it was an ARC and those sentences might be smoothed over and refined in the final, released version.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About There Once Were Stars
1. The world building. The author did a fantastic job of creating a believable dystopian future, with enough backstory without going overboard.
2. Evan. The moody/brooding Outsider was just the right amount of light and dark to carry one third of the romance.
3. The ending. There were a few really good twists and all loose ends were wrapped up nicely.
4. The pacing. The story pacing was superbly done.
5. The characters. Sometimes authors include too many characters or they’re not utilized enough, but McFarlane created only those necessary to tell the story, and incorporated them throughout, so we never forget who they were or why they were in the story.

Bottom Line
There Once Were Stars is a great plot-driven young adult dystopian with a nice balance of action and romance.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: There Once Were stars
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Pages: 331
Category: Young Adult Dystopian/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlus | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Melanie McFarlane

Author Melanie McFarlane

About the Author
Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her upcoming YA trilogy: THERE ONCE WERE STARS and her YA urban fantasy series: SUMMONER RISING..

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Where to find Melanie McFarlane
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitte
rYouTube | Pinterest

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – Ascendancy (The Van Winkle Project) by Karri Thompson

Ascendency Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Ascendancy, the second book in the young adult science fiction/dystopian romance series, The Van Winkle Project, by Karri Thompson. See below for my review as well as details on her giveaway, and be sure to check out my review of Mirror X, book one in the series.

Ascendancy (The Van Winkle Project #2) by Karri Thompson

Ascendancy (The Van Winkle Project #2) by Karri Thompson

Synopsis
I’ve been lied to, deceived, and manipulated—again. You’d think I’d be treated with dignity and respect. I’m the one who’s supposed to save humanity, right? I’m the one with the power to re-populate this dying world. But the clones want to control me, force me to give birth over and over again. And my daughters will face the same fate—unless I change it.

My awakening into this future should have been a chance for a new life, but it just promises a living death. With Michael on my side, though, maybe I can save us. He’s the only person I can trust.

I hear rumors of others… A secret society is growing. Tension is building.

A rebellion is imminent.

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My Review
This review includes spoilers for Mirror X. Please don’t continue if you haven’t read the first book in the series.

Ascendancy picks up right where Mirror X leaves off. Cassie and Michael are on their way to Tasmania to hopefully be reunited with their twin daughters and run The Van Winkle Project under their own terms. Almost immediately, Cassie senses something is off, and she’s not wrong. Where the first book took some time to build, Ascendancy starts off with a bang that launches Cassie and Michael on a rollercoaster ride through hell. There is a lot more action this time around, but Michael, as the love interest, still rubs me the wrong way. He’s whiney, needy, and though he’ll do whatever it takes to save Cassie, that’s his only saving grace in my view. He gets frustrated and pouts when Cassie won’t sleep with him, which is something I’d expect from a fourteen year old, not a man in his twenties.

Plot
The plot is a lot more action-packed than in Mirror X as Cassie and Michael are almost constantly fighting to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and remain alive. While it was fun, there wasn’t nearly as much character growth as last time, and far fewer plot twists,

Characters
I dislike Michael even more than before, and even Cassie started to get on my nerves, although it may have just been the fact that she likes Michael that bugged me about her. A few new characters were introduced, but I never got a deep sense of who they were. As I mentioned above, there isn’t much character development because the action overshadows nearly everything else.

Ending
The ending was more of a cliffhanger than I was expecting, and I’m definitely anxious to find out what happens next!

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance.
 Michael is still all wrong for Cassie. I’m really hoping she doesn’t end up with him.
2. Cassie’s attitude. She came across as far more angry this time around. Understandably so as everyone continues to lie to her, wants to use her, and attempts to manipulate her, but I found myself liking her less because of this.

What I Enjoyed about Ascendancy
1. The twists.
There were two pretty unexpected twists that were perfectly foreshadowed in retrospect.
2. A mother’s devotion. Where Cassie really shines is when she’s fighting for her daughters. Not just for their lives, but for their futures and their freedom. Sometimes I had to remind myself she’s only a teenager, though.
3. The action. There was a lot of action, which kept the story moving from start to finish.
4. Magnum. Still my favorite character in the series. He’s smart, funny, and loyal.

Bottom Line
Ascendancy moves fast, combing danger and intrigue, culminating in a cliffhanger leaving me wanting more.

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About the Book
Title: 
Ascendancy
Series: 
The Van Winkle Project #2
Author: 
Kerri Thompson
Publisher:
Entangled Teen
Release Date: 
November 30, 2015
Pages:
216
Genre: 
Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | !ndigo | Entangled Teen

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Author Karri Thompson

Author Karri Thompson

About the Author
Growing up in San Diego, California, Karri Thompson spent much of her years at the beach, reading novels, tanning, and listening to music.

At SDSU, she earned a BA in English, MA in education, and her teaching credential. As a wife, mother, and high-school English teacher, she began writing novels, giving all of the compelling plots and unique characters in her head a home.

Victorian literature rocks her socks, and when she’s not writing, jogging, going to concerts, or watching her son play football, she’s reading Dickens.

Where to find Karri Thompson
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project) by Karri Thompson

Ascendency Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for Ascendancy, the second book in the young adult science fiction/dystopian romance series, The Van Winkle Project, by Karri Thompson. See below for my review of Mirror X, the first book in the series as well as details on her giveaway, and be sure to check back later in the week for my review of Ascendancy.

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson

Synopsis
I was born more than a thousand years ago. Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I’ve finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future.

But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me.

Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets.

The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either.

When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it’s clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…

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My Review
Fellow young adult dystopian and San Diego author, Karri Thompson’s, novel intrigued me. The concept of a young woman frozen for more than 1,000 years, waking to a new world order is such a fascinating idea, I couldn’t wait to dig into it. The story weaves, bends, and twists through more than 350 pages of surprises, danger, and righteous indignation.

I thought it took a little long to really get going, but there are a lot of changes in the world Cassie wakes up in. Cassie, along with the reader, are slowly introduced to these changes, each new piece of information building upon the previous pieces. Just when we think we finally have a grasp of the situation, the author gives us a little more information, challenging everything we thought we knew. One of my favorite parts of the writing is the way Karri Thompson continually changes the playing field, keeping her characters and readers guessing.

Plot
The plot revolves around Cassie’s unique role in the world, and whether she’ll willingly embrace it, or succumb to it kicking and screaming. She vacillates a lot on exactly how she feels about what’s going on. Sometimes, I feel as if she’s too quick to give these people a pass and reason away their behavior. Other times, she’s the scared seventeen-year-old I expect her to be. There’s also a strong romantic plot that weaves through the story and drives many of her decisions.

Characters
I straight up didn’t care at all for Michael, the young doctor Cassie is instantly attracted to. He rubbed me the wrong way from the start and never redeemed himself in my eyes. Cassie is pretty believable as the conflicted teen in a Buck Rogers situation, but there were times I thought she didn’t seem as overwhelmed by her situation as I thought she should have been. The supporting characters are really my favorites. They’re all fascinating and easy to love or hate, depending on their role in the story.

Ending
The ending was yet another twist I never saw coming, but wrapped up the main story of Mirror X well, leaving plenty open for a sequel, without being a cliffhanger. That can be tough to do, but I feel as if the author pulled it off well.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance.
It felt forced from the very beginning. When Cassie wakes up more than a thousand years in the future, her immediate attraction to her young doctor seems to overshadow what should be grief over the loss of her family, friends, and way of life. Michael’s obsession with Cassie always came across as kind of creepy to me. There wasn’t any chemistry between the two of them. And the way Michael continually lied to her makes him completely unredeemable as boyfriend material in my eyes. I kept hoping for something romantic to develop between Cassie and Magnum, though, but their relationship is more like siblings. Too bad, because they have a truckload of chemistry.
2. 31st century Earth. I never fully was able to wrap my head around what the world looked like, particularly the buildings. All I really know is there’s not much vegetation, but I had a hard time picturing what this world looked like through the descriptions provided.
3. Cassie’s introduction into the new world. As I stated above, she put her attraction to Michael front and center. I would have liked her to struggle more with the new world she’s found herself in. I never got a sense of the utter devastation and hopelessness over her situation I was expecting. She’s experienced something no one can really relate to, so I would have liked the deeper psychological aspects to have been more thoroughly explored.

What I Enjoyed about Mirror X
1. The surprises.
There were so many twists and turns, I never knew what was coming next and that was so much fun to read.
2. The emotions. Where I felt the story was lacking when it came to Cassie’s response to the new world she finds herself in, the writing shines when Cassie is dealing with the emotions surrounding her role in the 31st century. Not only is she unique in that she was born in the early 2000s, but she possess an ability no one else in the future has. This ability drives the plot and her reactions to her expected role are raw and palpable.
3. Technology. There is some fascinating technology in Mirror X and Karri Thompson does a great job of helping us understand the role of this technology in the world she’s created.
4. The secondary characters. Magnum, Travel, and a whole host of other characters are intriguing and colorful and really brought the story to life.
5. Magnum. The technology whiz kid was easily my favorite character in the book. He’s a breath of 31st century fresh air!

Bottom Line
Mirror X is an interesting scifi/dystopian adventure with some unique aspects. I’m interested to see where this series goes.

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About the Book
Title: 
Mirror X
Series: The Van Winkle Project #1
Author: 
Kerri Thompson
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: June 30, 2014
Pages: 360
Genre: 
Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Karri Thompson

Author Karri Thompson

About the Author
Growing up in San Diego, California, Karri Thompson spent much of her years at the beach, reading novels, tanning, and listening to music.

At SDSU, she earned a BA in English, MA in education, and her teaching credential. As a wife, mother, and high-school English teacher, she began writing novels, giving all of the compelling plots and unique characters in her head a home.

Victorian literature rocks her socks, and when she’s not writing, jogging, going to concerts, or watching her son play football, she’s reading Dickens.

Where to find Karri Thompson
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
.

Month in Review – November 2015

Since I decided to give NaNoWriMo another go this year, I didn’t get as much reading done as I normally would. Still, sixteen hours in a car, travelling to Northern California and back, provided some much-needed reading time last week. Here are the books I reviewed in November:

Return Once More by Trisha Leigh

Return Once More (The Historians #1) by Trisha Leigh

Return Once More (The Historians #1) by Trisha Leigh

4 Stars

About the Book
Title
: Return Once More
Series: The Historians #1
Author: Trisha Leigh
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Pages: 289
Category: Young Adult SciFi/Time Travel/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes and Noble | Bloomsbury

Synopsis
If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?

Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.

If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?

Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroymore than just her new romance.

Or would you have the strength to watch him die?

But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

Bottom Line
Return Once More is an engaging time travel scifi romance with an intricate plot and intriguing characters.

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Rival Love (Rival Love Series) by Natalie Decker

Rival Love (Rival Love #1) by Natalie Decker

Rival Love (Rival Love #1) by Natalie Decker

4 Stars

Title: Rival Love
Series:
Rival Love #1
Author: 
Natalie Decker
Publisher:
 Swoon Romance
Release Date: 
August 26, 2014
Pages:
286
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Skylar Fletcher is a proud Harris Academy Bulldog! She has everything she’s ever wanted: a perfect boyfriend, great friends, and her dream college waiting for her in the fall. But nothing lasts forever. Skylar’s world shatters when her mom decides it’s time to move and drags Skylar, kicking and screaming, into Bobcat territory.

At Delmont High School, home of the Bobcats, Skylar has no friends and is often bullied. To make matters worse, her home life sucks thanks to all-star quarterback Caleb Morgan, nephew of her mom’s live-in boyfriend.

At first, Skylar and Caleb want nothing to do with one another. But they soon discover they’re not that different after all–and each is harboring a secret attraction to the other. But can a Bulldog and a Bobcat ever really be more than friends? And are Skylar and Caleb willing to risk everything to find out?

Rival Love is a debut young adult contemporary romance from Natalie Decker.

Bottom Line
Rival Love is an contemporary teen romance with themes of bullying, belonging, and finding love and acceptance for who you are.

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Never Trust a Happy Song by Natalie Bina

Never Trust a Happy Song by Natalie Bina

Never Trust a Happy Song by Natalie Bina

3.5 Stars

Title: Never Trust a Happy Song
Author: 
Natalie Bina
Release Date: March 14, 2015
Pages: 180
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
When Cassidy Diamond is admitted to a prestigious summer program at Stanford University, she looks forward to being surrounded by people just like herself: smart, studious, and antisocial.

But when Cassidy is assigned to stay with the Harper family and meets their vivacious and uninhibited daughter Grace, the two girls clash at first sight.

Cassidy is determined to not let Grace distract her from her studies, while Grace wants to show Cassidy that maybe her grades aren’t all she has going for her, and that life might be about more than building the perfect resume.

Bottom Line
Never Trust a Happy Song is a realistic contemporary teen story about learning to let go in order to find yourself.

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The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy Series) by Amy Engel

The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

5 Stars

Title: The Revolution of Ivy
Series: The Book of Ivy #2
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoogle Books

Synopsis
**WARNING: Contains spoilers if you haven’t read book one**

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

 Bottom Line
The Revolution of Ivy moves away from familiar territory, raising the stakes, and finishing the series on a high note.

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Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp

2 Stars

Title: Get Yourself Organized for Christmas
Author: Kathi Lipp
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 144
Genre: Organizing/Holidays
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis
Have you lost your Christmas joy? Does the thought of jam-packed malls, maxed-out credit cards, overcrowded supermarkets, and endless to-do lists give you the feeling that maybe Scrooge was on to something?

In Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, Kathi Lipp provides easy-to-follow steps to reduce the stress of the holiday season, including tactics for how to

put together a holiday binder you’ll use year after year determine a budget that won’t break the bank gather your elf supplies get your gift list together (including ideas for various ages and relationships) collect your recipes and prep your kitchen

By putting into practice Kathi’s tricks and tips, you’ll finally be able to fully enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.

Bottom Line
A good book for someone who is really disorganized. If you’re looking for something revolutionary, it’s not here.

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Abby and the Cute One (Backstage Pass) by Erin Butler

Abby and the Cute One (Backstage Pass #5) by Erin Butler

Abby and the Cute One (Backstage Pass #5) by Erin Butler

4 Stars

Title: Abby and the Cute One
Series: Backstage Pass #5
Author: Erin Butler
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release Date: November 16, 2015
Pages: 172
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
He’s cute. He’s famous. And he could ruin everything…

Every member of Seconds to Juliet has a girlfriend-except for Nathan Strong. Now the band’s manager is leaning hard on “The Cute One” to play the role of the band’s heartthrob. With the band’s sales in decline, it’s up to Nathan to keep the fans’ fantasy alive.

The plan is to stage a fake relationship and a fake breakup, and then let the fans fight to be the one to mend Nathan’s broken heart. Just one problem. There’s another girl in the picture-one Nathan can’t stay away from. In private, Nathan’s stealing kisses with the band’s new opening act, Abby Curtis.

If they’re caught, no one wins. Abby will be fired, and the band might not recover the success they need to survive. But even with the pressure mounting, Nathan and Abby can’t stop themselves from stealing one more touch, one more kiss. And it’s only a matter of time before it all falls apart.

This Entangled Teen Crush book is as forbidden as the secret romance it contains! It has hot kisses, graphic language, and extreme misbehaving. DO NOT GET CAUGHT WITH THIS BOOK…unless you want everyone to know you believe in true love.

Bottom Line
Abby and the Cute One is a lighthearted contemporary romance that’s as adorable as the characters themselves.

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Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project) by Karri Thompson

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson

4 Stars

Title: Mirror X
Series: The Van Winkle Project #1
Author: 
Kerri Thompson
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: June 30, 2014
Pages: 360
Genre: 
Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
I was born more than a thousand years ago. Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I’ve finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future.

But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me.

Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets.

The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either.

When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it’s clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…

Bottom Line
Mirror X is an interesting scifi/dystopian adventure with some unique aspects. I’m interested to see where this series goes.

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Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Writing Deep Scenes - Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Writing Deep Scenes – Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan E. Rosenfeld

3 Stars

Title: Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme
Authors: Martha Alderson and Jordan E. Rosenfeld
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Publication Date: October 2, 2015
Pages: 248
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Take a Deep Dive into Plot and Scene and Improve Your Writing

Whether you’re planning your first novel or have already written a first draft, you need to master the concepts of plot and scene to truly realize your story’s potential. “Writing Deep Scenes” teaches you how to write strong, layered, and engaging scenes–the secret to memorable, page-turning plots. It’s filled with practical tools for building layers and nuance into your scenes, employing the right scene types at the right junctures, and developing a profound understanding of how plot and scene intertwine.

Inside you’ll learn: How scenes are comprised of three key layers: action, emotion, and theme.How to recognize each layer and weave them seamlessly into a scene.How to develop an intricate relationship between the action and emotion in every scene.How thematic imagery embedded in scenes increases a story’s tension and contributes to the story’s meaning.Using contemporary examples from a variety of genres, “Writing Deep Scenes” provides an effective method for plotting at the scene level. Use these techniques and enrich your fiction and memoirs with page-turning suspense and pathos, and explore new depths in every story you write.

Bottom Line
Writing Deep Scenes presents solid techniques for developing your plot and creating layered scenes, but the terminology takes a little getting used to.

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Young Adult Book Review – Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project) by Karri Thompson

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson

Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson

Synopsis
I was born more than a thousand years ago. Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I’ve finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future.

But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me.

Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets.

The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either.

When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it’s clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…

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My Review
Fellow young adult dystopian and San Diego author, Karri Thompson’s, novel intrigued me. The concept of a young woman frozen for more than 1,000 years, waking to a new world order is such a fascinating idea, I couldn’t wait to dig into it. The story weaves, bends, and twists through more than 350 pages of surprises, danger, and righteous indignation.

I thought it took a little long to really get going, but there are a lot of changes in the world Cassie wakes up in. Cassie, along with the reader, are slowly introduced to these changes, each new piece of information building upon the previous pieces. Just when we think we finally have a grasp of the situation, the author gives us a little more information, challenging everything we thought we knew. One of my favorite parts of the writing is the way Karri Thompson continually changes the playing field, keeping her characters and readers guessing.

Plot
The plot revolves around Cassie’s unique role in the world, and whether she’ll willingly embrace it, or succumb to it kicking and screaming. She vacillates a lot on exactly how she feels about what’s going on. Sometimes, I feel as if she’s too quick to give these people a pass and reason away their behavior. Other times, she’s the scared seventeen-year-old I expect her to be. There’s also a strong romantic plot that weaves through the story and drives many of her decisions.

Characters
I straight up didn’t care at all for Michael, the young doctor Cassie is instantly attracted to. He rubbed me the wrong way from the start and never redeemed himself in my eyes. Cassie is pretty believable as the conflicted teen in a Buck Rogers situation, but there were times I thought she didn’t seem as overwhelmed by her situation as I thought she should have been. The supporting characters are really my favorites. They’re all fascinating and easy to love or hate, depending on their role in the story.

Ending
The ending was yet another twist I never saw coming, but wrapped up the main story of Mirror X well, leaving plenty open for a sequel, without being a cliffhanger. That can be tough to do, but I feel as if the author pulled it off well.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance.
It felt forced from the very beginning. When Cassie wakes up more than a thousand years in the future, her immediate attraction to her young doctor seems to overshadow what should be grief over the loss of her family, friends, and way of life. Michael’s obsession with Cassie always came across as kind of creepy to me. There wasn’t any chemistry between the two of them. And the way Michael continually lied to her makes him completely unredeemable as boyfriend material in my eyes. I kept hoping for something romantic to develop between Cassie and Magnum, though, but their relationship is more like siblings. Too bad, because they have a truckload of chemistry.
2. 31st century Earth. I never fully was able to wrap my head around what the world looked like, particularly the buildings. All I really know is there’s not much vegetation, but I had a hard time picturing what this world looked like through the descriptions provided.
3. Cassie’s introduction into the new world. As I stated above, she put her attraction to Michael front and center. I would have liked her to struggle more with the new world she’s found herself in. I never got a sense of the utter devastation and hopelessness over her situation I was expecting. She’s experienced something no one can really relate to, so I would have liked the deeper psychological aspects to have been more thoroughly explored.

What I Enjoyed about Mirror X
1. The surprises.
There were so many twists and turns, I never knew what was coming next and that was so much fun to read.
2. The emotions. Where I felt the story was lacking when it came to Cassie’s response to the new world she finds herself in, the writing shines when Cassie is dealing with the emotions surrounding her role in the 31st century. Not only is she unique in that she was born in the early 2000s, but she possess an ability no one else in the future has. This ability drives the plot and her reactions to her expected role are raw and palpable.
3. Technology. There is some fascinating technology in Mirror X and Karri Thompson does a great job of helping us understand the role of this technology in the world she’s created.
4. The secondary characters. Magnum, Travel, and a whole host of other characters are intriguing and colorful and really brought the story to life.
5. Magnum. The technology whiz kid was easily my favorite character in the book. He’s a breath of 31st century fresh air!

Bottom Line
Mirror X is an interesting scifi/dystopian adventure with some unique aspects. I’m interested to see where this series goes.

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About the Book
Title: 
Mirror X
Series: The Van Winkle Project #1
Author: 
Kerri Thompson
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: June 30, 2014
Pages: 360
Genre: 
Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author Karri Thompson

Author Karri Thompson

About the Author
Growing up in San Diego, California, Karri Thompson spent much of her years at the beach, reading novels, tanning, and listening to music.

At SDSU, she earned a BA in English, MA in education, and her teaching credential. As a wife, mother, and high-school English teacher, she began writing novels, giving all of the compelling plots and unique characters in her head a home.

Victorian literature rocks her socks, and when she’s not writing, jogging, going to concerts, or watching her son play football, she’s reading Dickens.

Where to find Karri Thompson
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy Series) by Amy Engel

The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

Synopsis
**WARNING: Contains spoilers if you haven’t read book one**

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

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My Review
The Revolution of Ivy is even better than the first book. It starts off strong and keeps building. Everything in the first book that kept it from being a full five stars for me were non-issues in this one. The action is intense, the characters grow and develop in organic, realistic ways, and the plot twists are unexpected and jarring.

Ivy’s been put outside the fence for conspiring to kill her husband, Bishop, son of the President of Westfall. She has no survival skills, but a strong survival instinct, which keeps her alive until she meets up with other survivors. Ivy befriends two of them and these relationship, tenuous and complex, are one of the best aspects of the book. When Bishop shows up looking for her, Ivy’s conflicted. This is the one part of the story that didn’t seem authentic. I never really understood why she struggled with his presence, but I was able to easily overlook that because the rest of the story moved so quickly.

Plot
The plot is fantastic. Ivy needs to decide what her future holds, and because she’s never had a choice, it’s not as easy as it should be. She tries to make peace with the way her family failed her, with the way they let her take the fall for their failed plot to wrest control of Westfall from President Lattimer, even though her punishment was certain death. But more than that, Ivy needs to figure out who she is when she’s not Bishop’s wife or her father’s daughter or even Callie’s sister. She has secrets that pose a danger to herself and others, and a big decision to make that could destroy everyone she loves.

Characters
Both Ivy and Bishop grow so much over this book. There’s far more character growth than in The Book of Ivy. The addition of of Caleb and Ash bring out different sides of their personalities and give them an opportunity to explore themselves in the context of life outside Westfall. This installment does a masterful job of wrapping up all the loose ends, and most of those have to do with the characters themselves. We finally understand Ivy’s dad and sister as well as Bishop’s father and mother. Every action in both stories finally makes sense in the context of who these complex characters are.

Ending
I loved the ending. I think author, Amy Engel, wraps up the story beautifully, but not in a nice, neat, easy package. There’s gut-wrenching emotion and tough choices, but it’s all so perfect for the characters, the setting, and the story.

Top Five Things I Loved about The Revolution of Ivy:
1. The dystopian aspect. This was far more dystopic and the first book. More action, drama, fear, survival. I loved it!

2. Bishop Lattimer. Once again, Bishop is the perfect guy, without being too perfect.

3. Caleb and Ash. I love these two. I would kill for a book about them!

4. Tough choices. Amy Engle raised the stakes, forcing Ivy into an impossible situation. Watching her wrestle with her decision was pure page-turning delight.

5. Starting over. The ending wraps up the story nicely but the future is wide open for the characters, leaving me completely satisfied with the conclusion, but hopeful for what’s next. The hallmark of a good ending to a dystopian series.

Bottom Line
The Revolution of Ivy moves away from familiar territory, raising the stakes, and finishing the series on a high note.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my review.

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About the Book
Title: The Revolution of Ivy
Series: The Book of Ivy #2
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoogle Books

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Author Amy Engel

Author Amy Engel

About the Author
Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas; California; Missouri; Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two kids.

Before devoting herself full-time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV.

When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping. The Book of Ivy is her debut YA novel. Find her online at http://amyengel.net/ or @aengelwrites.

Where to Find Amy Engel
GoodreadsWebsite | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Return Once More (The Historians) by Trisha Leigh

Return Once More Blog Tour

Return Once More (The Historians #1) by Trisha Leigh

Return Once More (The Historians #1) by Trisha Leigh

Synopsis
If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?

Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.

If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?

Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.

Or would you have the strength to watch him die?

But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

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My Review
I’m a sucker for time travel. Young adult time traveling romances? Yeah, that’s like my trifecta right there, so I eagerly snatched up this gem from talented author, Trisha Leigh. I was sucked into her Cavey Files, and had high hopes for her take on the time travel genre. This is such a unique twist that it really stands apart from any other I’ve read. The book is set in the future, after Earth’s destruction. Kaia is a Historian, someone who travels back through time to study historic events and learn so they can avoid making the mistakes that led to the demise of Earth.

One of the side benefits of their futuristic science and technology is they’ve discovered they can identify everyone’s soul mate. The one person who is your perfect romantic partner, regardless of when and where they were born, even if the soul mates were never destined to meet. It’s mostly just something done for fun, but when Kaia learns of her soul mate, she breaks all the rules to meet him. Just to find out what it would feel like to see the boy who is her perfect match. The love-at-first-sight aspect of this plot point requires a little faith on the part of the reader, but it’s not so over the top given that they’re soul mates.

I really only have two problems with the book that kept it from being a full five stars. The first is that it takes awhile to develop. I picked it up and put it down several times before I got to that point where I was thoroughly engrossed. The second is that it ends in a cliffhanger. I’m not a big fan of those, particularly when there is a long wait for the next book.

Plot
The plot is intricate and layered, with a lot going on. Since this is the first in a series, many questions are left unanswered, but everything does move forward. Some to conclusion, others not. And because of the cliffhanger ending, a huge question is raised in the very last sentence of the book. Other than a slow start, the plotting keeps up a steady pace through the middle until the end.

Characters
Kaia, her soul mate, and Oz, another historian, are well-developed and interesting. I got much less of a sense of the rest of the characters, though. But, because the plot centers on these three, it’s important that they’re fully fleshed out, and they are. I had a hard time connecting with Kaia in the beginning, but as the story unfolded, she becomes more likable and sympathetic and by the end, I was twisted up inside for her. Her choice is heartbreaking and I felt her pain and anguish as she struggled to find the right path.

The Ending
Aside from the cliffhanger aspect, the ending is gut-wrenching, emotional, and wraps up many of the plot lines, leaving more for the next book.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed about Return Once More:
1. Time travel. I never get tired of this genre.

2. Oz. He’s a tough egg to crack and I can’t wait to find out more about him.

3. Scene setting. Trisha Leigh does an incredible job of painting such a vivid picture of the scenes, it’s hard not to believe you’re actually there..

4. Forbidden love. In a unique twist on a common trope, this is one of the most well-done subplots in the book.

5. Impossible choices. Never knowing what was going to happen kept me turning the pages.

Bottom Line
Return Once More is an engaging time travel scifi romance with an intricate plot and intriguing characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher. This in no way influences my review.

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About the Book
Title
: Return Once More
Series: The Historians #1
Author: Trisha Leigh
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Pages: 289
Category: Young Adult SciFi/Time Travel/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes and Noble | Bloomsbury

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Trisha LeighAbout the Author
Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now, and has published 4 young adult novels and 4 new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies, reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90’s-00’s.

Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories—made up, of course, but true enough in their way.

Trisha is the author of THE LAST YEAR series and the WHITMAN UNIVERSITY books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Where to find Trisha Leigh
Website | Goodreads Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest

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Month in Review – October 2015

October is by far my favorite month of the year. I love when the temperatures, sort of, sometimes, get cooler in San Diego, plus Halloween. But mostly it’s all about the pumpkin. Pumpkin spice lattes, This Pumpkin Walked into a Bar, pumpkin pasta, muffins, pie, and more. I also managed to do a little more reading this month than I did earlier in the summer. These are the books I reviewed in October:

Mad Love 2 by Colet Abedi

Mad Love 2 (Mad Love Series #2) by Colete Abedi

4 Stars

Title: Mad Love 2
Series: Mad Love #2
Author: Colet ABedi
Publisher: Bird Street Books
Pages: 262
Category: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Heartbroken by the handsome and enigmatic Clayton Astor Sinclair, Sophie Walker has put her whirlwind romance with him in the Maldives behind her and is determined to focus on her career as an artist.

But when her new job in the south of France turns out to be too good to be true, she can’t help but wonder if she is making a mistake. Their passion cannot be denied, but when Clayton shuts her out after a family tragedy, Sophie is determined to fight for what is right. She must defy all odds to find her own happily ever after. 

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Bottom Line
A worthy follow-up to Mad Love, it’s intense, emotional, and delves deeper into the characters we’ve come to know. The jury is still out on whether or not I love them.

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Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones Series) by Ali Dean

Pepped Up Forever (Pepper Jones #5) by Ali Dean

4.5 Stars

Title: Pepped Up Forever
Series:  Pepper Jones #5
Author: Ali Dean
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 180
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
This is the fifth and final book in the Pepper Jones series, and it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Pepper Jones is ready to start breaking some records. She’ll be a junior in college, and if she wants to run professionally when she graduates, it’s time to step things up a notch. This time around, she knows it won’t be accomplished by ramping up her training. While Pepper’s hoping for a race day breakthrough, she wonders if there’s a mental barrier holding her back, and if so, how is she supposed to confront it?

Meanwhile, Jace Wilder wants Pepper back any way he can have her, but he’s reluctant to bulldoze his way into her life having already crushed her once (okay, probably a few more times than that) before. More scenes from Jace’s point of view in the book shed a new perspective into the character Pepper fans love to hate, and hate to love, delving into those layers he’s only given glimpses of in the past.

The Brockton crew is growing up. Zoe and Wes. Jenny and Rollie. Lexi and Brax. Bunny and Wallace. Pepper and ??? It’s time to find out what Pepper’s happily ever after will be.

Bottom Line
A worthy ending to a great series.

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The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

4 Stars

Title: The Rebel
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 234
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay | Harlequin

Synopsis
Bad to the bone…in all the right ways

A brilliant civil lawyer, David Hennings has always been the outsider—at odds with his wealthy family, shunning relationships, defying convention as a sexy leather-jacketed biker. Which is why sculptor Amanda LeBlanc agrees to his request to reconstruct a skull from a cold case murder. The instant heat between them is scorching.

But once Amanda takes the job and gets too close to the rebellious attorney, her carefully balanced life is upended by a series of methodical attacks. Someone doesn’t want her to finish the job. Now David will risk everything not to lose the woman he unknowingly put in jeopardy.

Bottom Line
The Rebel is a mystery wrapped in a romantic suspense with a big dose of fully-developed characters.

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How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

5 Stars

Title: How to Say I Love You Out Loud
Author: Karole Cozzo
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they’re related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby.

But despite her best intentions, she just can’t shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again.

Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

 Bottom Line
How to Say I Love You Out Loud is an emotional look at finding your own words and the strength to say them out loud.

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How Fiction Works by Oakley Hall

How Fiction Works by Oakley Hall

3.5 Stars

Title: How Fiction Works
Author: Oakley Hall
Publisher: Story Press
Publication Date: January 5, 2001
Pages: 240
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
In How Fiction Works, Oakley Hall expands upon and broadens the instruction that made The Art and Craft of Novel Writing so successful.

This new book covers all forms and lengths of fiction, probes deeper into every topic, offers new examples and includes exercises and the end of every chapter. He explains the basic and finer points of the fiction-writing process from word choice and imagery to authority and viewpoint.

The book is divided into three sections, beginning with “The Basics.” In this section, Hall explores the micro elements of storytelling, such as details, word choice, images, symbol and metaphor. He then moves on! to “The Elements,” which covers the primary elements of fiction: point of view, characterization and plot. Citing numerous examples from classic and contemporary work, he shows readers how these elements function separately and in concert. Finally, the focus shifts to the specific types of fiction – short shorts, short stories, novellas, and novels – also known as “The Forms.” Each form presents a unique challenge to the writer, and Hall explains how to meet those challenges.

Beginning, as well as more advanced writers, will find much to like about this book.

Bottom Line
How Fiction Works includes sound advice for fiction writers with illustrative examples. It’s definitely worth a read.

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The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy Series) by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

4 Stars

Title: The Book of Ivy
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo BooksiTunesGoogle Books

Bottom Line
The Book of Ivy is a familiar dystopian tale with enough of its own uniqueness to set it apart from the rest.

Synopsis
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

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Young Adult Book Review – The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy Series) by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

Synopsis
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

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My Review
The book started off slow for me. In fact, it took a good 100 pages for me to become thoroughly engrossed. But once I did, it had me by the throat until the last page. There are a lot of similarities to other dystopian stories. There’s a fenced city (Divergent), government pairings (Matched), an oppressive government (Hunger Games, Matched), banishing people from society as punishment (Matched), but there are enough new elements to keep the story from being predictable.

Ivy and her family feel as if they are the rightful ruling family of Westfall, a post currently held by the Lattimer’s. But Ivy’s family has a plan to get control. It just involves Ivy marrying and then killing the president’s son, Bishop. It’s a chilling premise that took a while to develop, but it was easy to see as the days passed that Ivy wasn’t going to have an easy time killing her husband. Because he’s none of the things she was raised to believe. He’s compassionate, fair, considerate, and doesn’t agree with everything his father says and does.

While I had a pretty good idea how things were going to end up, I didn’t know how they would play out, and didn’t see the ending coming. I’m just glad I don’t have to wait a year for the second book since I didn’t get my copy of The Book of Ivy until ALA in June.

Plot
Other than slow pacing, the plot was intriguing. There isn’t a lot of action, but this is more of a psychological tale than an action adventure. Ivy’s journey takes her from dutiful daughter to scheming wife, to confused and conflicted teen, to terrified girl, back to dutiful daughter in the course of a few months. As her relationship with Bishop develops, it’s easy to see that she’s going to struggle with carrying out her task. What keeps this story moving is wondering how she’s going to get out of an impossible situation.

Characters
Bishop and Ivy are intriguing and complex, while the rest of the characters are more nebulous. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, though. Ivy spends an incredible amount of time inside her head, closing herself off from everyone around her. She’s introverted, lonely, and it’s easy to see that other people don’t factor in heavily in her world. They exist, but she doesn’t truly interact with them on more than a superficial basis, so they come across as superficial. But in a way that shows them to us only through Ivy’s prism. Except for Bishop. And as she allows herself to get closer to him, we get to see his layers and depth blossoming from black and white to full technicolor.

Ending
The ending was unexpected, so in my opinion, that makes it strong. If you don’t like cliffhangers, be forewarned, but it’s a satisfying enough ending to tide you over the few days until book 2 comes out.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed about The Book of Ivy:
1. Ivy’s sacrifice. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I’ll say.

2. Bishop Lattimer. The president’s son is swoonworthy in a completely different way than a lot of teen love interests.

3. The plot to bring down the president. It’s surprisingly simple, yet brilliant.

4. Falling in love. The way Bishop and Ivy, virtual strangers on their wedding day, evolve their relationship from stiff and awkward, to friendship, and then something more is beautiful.

5. The ending. I love when I can’t anticipate how everything is going to play out. I didn’t believe Ivy would be able to kill Bishop, but I had no idea how that was all going to resolve, and I was way off base in my prediction.

Bottom Line
The Book of Ivy is a familiar dystopian tale with enough of its own uniqueness to set it apart from the rest.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher at ALA in San Francisco. This in no way influences my review.

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About the Book
Title: The Book of Ivy
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo BooksiTunesGoogle Books

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Author Amy Engel

Author Amy Engel

About the Author
Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas; California; Missouri; Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two kids.

Before devoting herself full-time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV.  When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping. The Book of Ivy is her debut YA novel. Find her online at http://amyengel.net/ or @aengelwrites.

Where to Find Amy Engel
GoodreadsWebsite | Twitter

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YA Book Review – Defective (The Institute Series) by Kayla Howarth

Defective (The Institute #3) by Kayla Howarth

Defective (The Institute #3) by Kayla Howarth

Synopsis
Eighteen months has passed since the Institute was liberated.

For Allira Daniels, she’s still trying to live with the consequences of her actions. The Defective are free, but are their lives truly any better? Attacks on Defectives are on the rise, and Allira has to wonder if she’s directly responsible.

Keeping busy to escape her guilt, Allira is trying to move on, but how can she when her past is always haunting her?

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My Review
I had bittersweet feelings about starting this book, knowing it was the last in the series. It exceeded my expectations and is easily my favorite. Allira is having a tough time coming to terms with the loss of Chad, and she reluctantly agrees to pose as presidential candidate, Paxton James’s girlfriend. While she cares for Paxton, she’s not in love with him, but acting as his date for political functions helps her focus on something other than her grief and guilt for a short period of time.

When she meets Jayce, a cute boy who stirs something she hasn’t felt since Chad died, her sham relationship is just one obstacle to living her own life. And that’s only the beginning. When someone begins to stalk her, she has more than a handful of suspects, and more questions than answers.

Plot
This third installment is action-packed, between Paxton’s campaign, the maybe, sorta, could be romance with Jayce, mysterious packages that raise her suspicions, and a strained relationship with her family. Kayla Howarth throws in more than a few unexpected twists that are expertly foreshadowed and  left me screaming, “no way!” at my Kindle.  I can’t say much more without spoiling anything, so I’ll just say it was one nail-biting rollercoaster ride.

World Building
The primary world is created in the first two books, and further elaborated upon here. With the end of the the Institute’s imprisoning of defectives, the new world Allira inhabits is different than the other books, but it’s familiar enough I never felt untethered from the series.

Characters
The new characters introduced are as well developed as I’ve come to expect from Howarth. And Allira’s character arc is deep and emotional, but utterly satisfying. I love how Drew has evolved as well. Ebb, is still Ebb, but she didn’t really have as far to come as the others.

The Ending
The series wraps up with a satisfying conclusion along with another fun surprise.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Defective
1. The twists and turns. Dang, all I can say is that it’s been awhile since I’ve had my jaw slam into my chest like that. It takes a lot to throw me, but yeah, never saw THAT coming.

2. Drew. Still love him. Yeah, I like Jayce, but Drew earned a place in my heart.

3. Nuka. Paxton’s daughter is an adorable bundle of defective fun.

4. The ending. I felt like everything was wrapped up in a satisfying series conclusion, something that seems to be harder to find these days.

5. Jayce. The boy is sweet, patient, and everything Allira needs.

Bottom Line
Defective is full of unexpected twists, fascinating characters, and nail-biting action.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Defective
Series: The Institute #3
Author: Kayla Howarth
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 385
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Dystopian
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon

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Author Kayla Howarth

Author Kayla Howarth

About the Author
Kayla was born and raised on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. She still resides there with her husband and son, working part time for a medical pathology lab while working on her writing.

Her love of reading and movies inspired her to start something she never dreamed possible: Writing her first novel.

When she’s not working, looking after her son, or writing, you’ll most likely find her hosting her own dance party in the kitchen while she does the dishes. (Where her husband will argue that more dancing is achieved than clean plates.)

Where to find Kayla Howarth
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter
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