Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – Fates Entwined (Halven Rising) by Jules Barnard

Fates Entwined (Halven Rising #3) by Jules Barnard

Fates Entwined (Halven Rising #3) by Jules Barnard

Synopsis
They can never be together. The notion is laughable. Humans are inferior, a scourge on the Fae and on the magic passed down to them by angels millennia ago. And if Keen finds himself drawn to the tiny human female, he keeps it to himself. He won’t add to the half-breed problem that threatens his people’s existence.

Reese can’t stand Keen. He criticizes her clothing, won’t answer a straight question, and is too handsome for her peace of mind.

Her entire life, people have pegged Reese for a shallow, ditzy blond. She won’t accept the stereotype from the large, arrogant Fae too. But after Keen saves her life, she begins to question what truly lies beneath his stoic demeanor.

Forced together, Keen and Reese fight to survive among enemies, and Keen makes choices Reese couldn’t have predicted. She glimpses a side of him that is protective and dangerously seductive.

But Keen refuses to acknowledge their connection.

Until he’s faced with the decision to betray his people, or lose Reese forever.

*This mature YA series is intended for readers 17 years and older.

**Each Halven Rising novel features a different couple and may be read as a standalone, but an overreaching story arc connects the series, so it’s fun to read them in order.**

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My Review
Fates Entwined picks up where Fates Divided left off, only this time we get Elena’s roommate, Reese’s, point of view along with Keen’s, Elena’s fae body guard. There is more angst this time around, which is my not so secret passion. The whole forbidden love thing is a favorite of mine and it works really well here. When Reese is kidnapped at a frat party and taken into the fae realm, Keen lives up to his promise to Elena to find her and bring her back. The problem is, the evil fae queen is using her as a bargaining chip. With the war of the fae worlds about to erupt, there’s more action this time around, and Reese is a little spitfire caught in the midst of it all.

Plot
The main plot is really the battle between the old and new world faes with the romance as a strong subplot rather than the main plot. However the romance drives Keen’s and Reese’s actions for much of the story. The pacing is well-done, and I never got bored. I loved the way the author teased us throughout with the whole “will they or won’t they” trope.

Characters
We get both Reese’s and Keen’s points of view, but Reese is the narrator for well more than half. She’s spunky, smart, and brave, but she also experiences growth throughout the story. It was fun watching her evolve from the opening pages through the nail-biting ending. Keen has his own character arc and his is more full than Reese’s as he’s forced to acknowledge his Halven bigotry in order to get what he wants — Reese.

World Building
Once again, Jules Barnard delivers an imaginative world in vivid detail. Everything from the landscape and castle to the clothing is richly detailed. The rules of the fae world are as intricate as many of Reese’s formal gowns.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Fates Entwined
1. Reese. She’s so awesome. I love her attitude, her strength and courage. Really everything about her! She was my favorite character in Fates Divided, so I was thrilled to read her point of view.

2. Keen. Still love him just as much as I did in the first book, and maybe more now that I’ve been inside his head.

3. Fae politics. Come on, what’s not to love about that?

4. The action. I loved all the battles in this installment.

5. The angst. The best kind of romance.

Bottom Line
My favorite book in the series so far. I can’t wait to read the next one!

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:
 Fates Entwined
Series: Halvan Rising #3
Author: Jules Barnard
Release Date: November 14, 2016
Pages: 270
Genre: New Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UKBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author

Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.

She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
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Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Review + Giveaway – Fates Divided (Halven Rising) by Jules Barnard

Fates Divided Blog Tour

Fates Divided (Halven Rising #1) by Jules Barnard

Fates Divided (Halven Rising #1) by Jules Barnard

Synopsis
Elena Rosales has busted her ass to get into a good college. She’s the only one in her family ever to attend, and expectations are high. No pressure. But Elena’s got this one in the bag, because she’s as dependable as the molecules she studies, as reliable as the chemical reactions that comfort her in their predictability. Until they don’t.

Elena has always wondered why her mother abandoned her on her first birthday. It’s not until she turns eighteen and her chemistry experiments go berserk that she learns the truth: Her mother wasn’t human, and the Fae are willing to harm those Elena loves if she doesn’t use her power over the elements to cure them of a deadly disease.

Derek, Elena’s brooding neighbor, isn’t the friendliest guy, but he has access to an off-hours lab and is willing to help Elena create the antivirus. He has his own secrets to keep, and this business Elena is mixed up in could blow his cover. But when Elena and Derek get together, more than chemicals spark fire-and they soon discover just how complicated attraction can get when they find themselves on the other side of the portal, fighting for survival. Lives collide, and allegiance and love are tested, in Fates Divided.

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My Review
I loved the Blue series by Jules Barnard, so I was excited to dig into her latest urban fantasy series, Halvan Rising. I’m happy to say it met my expectations! It has all the new adult romance I’ve come to expect from Barnard as well as a healthy dose of danger, adventure, and a brilliantly-created fantasy world situated within a modern-day college campus.

As Elena learns to navigate her new normal, Derek keeps an eye on her, both out of a sense of responsibility as well as attraction, and these two are a combustible combination! Elena and Derek each learn about their own pasts, families, and their newly acquired Fae powers, all while trying to stop a deadly virus poised to wipe out the entire Fae population. But not everyone wants them to succeed, and soon they’re fighting for their own lives as well as the Faes’.

Plot
The plot revolves around finding a cure for the virus, but there is plenty of subplotting, including who’s behind the virus, Elena’s missing roommate, Resse, a reluctant attraction between Reese and Elena’s Fae bodyguard, Keen, and of course the romance between Derek and Elena. About the only thing I felt lacking was the romance between Derek and Elena. I thought it developed too quickly and took a backseat to the main plot.  But that is really my only complaint.

Characters
Told from alternating points of view, Derek and Elena are both well-rounded with decent character arcs. The secondary characters, including Keen and Reese are as fascinating as they are likeable.

World Building
The realm within modern life world-building is really well done. The descriptions are rich and they transported me to another place with vivid detail. The rules surrounding the status and discrimination of Fae versus the half-blooded Halven was believable and drove some of the best conflict in the book. I can’t wait to see how that resolves over the series.

The Ending
The main story was wrapped up well, but left open enough for the series to continue. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Top Five Things I Love About  Fates Divided
1. The world building. Rich, vivid details brought the story to life in an exciting way.

2. Reese. Elena’s roommate is a hilarious spitfire, and I loved watching her get under Keen’s skin.

3. Keen. The big Fae bodyguard with a superiority complex is a riot. I really hope we get some scenes from his point of view in the future.

4. Magic. Because, come on, who doesn’t love magic?

5. Derek and Elena. They’re good together!

Bottom Line
I don’t read much fantasy, but if Jules Barnard is writing it, I’ll take more, please!

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:
 Fates Divided
Series: Halvan Rising #1
Author: Jules Barnard
Release Date: August 31, 2015
Pages: 430
Genre: New Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Author Jules Barnard

Author Jules Barnard

About the Author

Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.

She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.

Where to Find Jules Barnard
Goodreads | Website Facebook | Twitter

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Book Review + Giveaway – Flukes by Nichole Chase

FlukesTour

Flukes by Nichole Chase

Flukes by Nichole Chase

Synopsis
Meena has a secret guarded closely by her family—a secret as dangerous as the sea and buried just as deep. When court-appointed community-service workers are assigned to Flukes, the family-owned animal sanctuary, everyone is on high alert.

It doesn’t help that Meena finds herself attracted to sexy-as-sin Blake Weathering, one of the new workers. If he wasn’t so distracting, she might be able to land Flukes a much-needed cruise-line contract.

Blake Weathering, the first in his family to attend public school, has developed a tough image. Unfortunately, it lands him in trouble. Now banned from his high school graduation ceremony, getting his diploma is dependent upon a community-service gig cleaning up fish crap.

No diploma, no trust fund fortune—and no way to escape his overbearing father. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a mysterious girl with teal eyes who pulls at his heartstrings.

When Blake discovers Meena’s secret, they are both thrown into a desperate search for information about her past. Two worlds pull them in opposite directions, and they will have to fight to hold on to all that really matters.

*** This novel is not intended for young readers. ***

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My Review
This is a fun, new adult paranormal/fantasy romance with plenty of heat and several good plot twists. Set in the Caribbean, it feels equal parts Splash the movie and the Australian teen mermaid adventure, H2O. Meena is a mermaid, adopted by two humans after her mother is killed by a fisherman’s net. Her parents own and operate a marine animal sanctuary that’s barely in the black. To help maintain the facility, they use the services of ne’re do wells fulfilling their court-ordered community service.

One of those just happens to be Blake Weathering, son of one of the wealthiest inhabitants of the island. Blake has his own secrets, like why he’s stuck doing community service the summer after his senior year instead of escaping the island and the stifling life under his father’s thumb.

Sparks fly when Meena and Blake meet, but the two bicker more than anything else. At least in the beginning. That bickering turns to playful banter, before turning into full-on flirting. But secrets, a pair of mysterious strangers, an angry guy named Devin with a chip in  his shoulder, and Blake’s impending departure from the island Meena feels she can never leave, keep Meena and Blake at arm’s length.

Plot
Primarily an older teen romance, there is a fair amount of angst, which is what I love most about this genre. Add a couple of mysteries, hidden secrets, and the plot unfolds with a lot of obstacles that make it an engaging read.

Characters
Meena and Blake are interesting and well-developed. I didn’t get that same sense with Meena’s parents, although Blake’s dad has some interesting layers. There is some subtle character development, but this is definitely a plot-driven story.

Writing
While written about older teens, it’s definitely more new adult than young adult. The characters are older teens, out of high school and there are some scenes that are inappropriate for younger readers. That said, the author does a good job of creating the kind of tension and angsty drama that makes a teen romance work.

Ending
I liked the ending. It wasn’t necessarily thought-provoking or overly emotional, but it works for this story.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Flukes:
1. Dolphins. I love Meena’s relationship with Mitch, Jallia and the gang.

2. Blake. He comes off as just another cocky, arrogant good-looking douche, but he’s got a heart of gold and the way he protects his brother makes him a hero in my book.

3. Meena. She wears her snarkiness like a protective armor and that makes her a more interesting character.

4. Mermaids. Nichole Chase’s mermaids are so different from anything else I’ve read or seen with these mythological characters and it’s a fun twist on fantasy.

5. The Caribbean. Beautiful, relaxing, exotic. It sounds like a fabulous place to visit, if only in my mind.

Bottom Line
Flukes is a new twist on the mermaid genre with fresh characters and an intriguing plot.

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: Flukes
Series:  Flukes #1
Author: Nichole Chase
Release Date: October 7, 2012
Pages: 162
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

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Author Nicole Chase

Author Nicole Chase

About the Author
Nichole Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Suddenly Royal, Flukes, The Dark Betrayal Trilogy, and several short stories.

She is also the instructor of Say What? a dialogue class at the Romance Academy.

Nichole lives in Georgia with her husband, energetic daughter, superhero dog, Sulcata tortoise, and two cats.

When not writing, you may find her reading, painting, crafting, or chasing her daughter around the house while making monster noises.

Where to Find Nichole Chase
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon

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Book Review – Forever Found (Neverland Lost) by Nazarea Andrews

Forever Found (Neverland Lost #2) by Nazarea Andrews

Forever Found (Neverland Lost #2) by Nazarea Andrews

Synopsis
Losing Gwen was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to survive. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love her.

But finding her was never about that. And now that I have found her–now that she knows the truth about me and the Island, I have to trust her to believe. Because her leaving me didn’t just destroy me–its killing Neverland.

I need her to love me. But we all need her to believe again.

Peter Pan has grown up and found the girl who left–but the stakes are higher than ever in this romantic conclusion to the story begun in Girl Lost.

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My Review
I didn’t read Girl Lost, so I didn’t know what to expect other than it’s a modern retelling of Peter Pan and that was good enough for me. Told from Peter’s point of view, it definitely picks up where Girl Lost left off, but Nazarea Andrews does an excellent job of providing just enough backstory at just the right moment to make sure I didn’t get lost.

This grown up character is tough and broken. He’s trying to save Tinkerbelle (aka Tiny) who is threatened along with Pan’s island because Gwendy no longer believes. He needs Gwendy to believe again to save both, but she thinks her time on the island was all a figment of her messed up mind.

Plot
The plot is pretty straightforward. Peter needs to save Belle and the island, but he needs to convince Gwen to believe again. The fact that he’s lost her and doesn’t know how to live without her is the subplot that drives a fair amount of angst in the short 43 pages. It’s a darker tale than the Disney version, but has far more depth and raw emotion.

World Building
There was probably extensive world building done in Girl Lost that spills over into Forever Found. This is the one area where I felt like I had to play catch up and never quite got there. But assuming the world building was done in Girl Lost, I’d say the extension is into the sequel is complete. There are definitely rules and a world order that come into play that I’ll have to learn about when I read Book 1.

Characters
Peter is complex, damaged and sympathetic. I had less of a feel for Gwen, but I think that’s because Girl Lost is told from her point of view and therefore it’s assumed the reader understands her. The rest of the characters weren’t particularly deep in this novella, but again, this is Peter’s story and he’s really well done.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Girl Lost
1. Peter’s loyalty to Belle/Tiny. That kind of friendship is rare and beautiful.

2. Peter’s love of Gwen. The fact that he’d do anything for her is sweet and tells us a lot about his character.

3. The conflict. There’s a lot of it. Peter seems to be at odds with everyone, but it keeps the story moving at a clipped pace.

4. The ending. Won’t spoil it, but I didn’t see this bittersweet twist coming at all.

5. Gwen. She’s a free spirit, damage and all. I can’t wait to get to know her in Girl Lost.

Bottom Line
I was never a fan of the story of Peter Pan until now. The author drew me in and made me care.

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: Forever Found
Series: Neverland Lost #2
Author: Nazarea Andrews
Pages:
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Author
Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids.

She is the author of the University of Branton series, Neverland Found series and Edge of the Falls.

She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog.

Where to Find Nazarea Andrews
Goodreads Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Street Team | Amazon

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YA Book Review – Orenda (Orenda Series) by Ruth Silver

Orenda (Orenda #1) by Ruth Silver

Orenda (Orenda #1) by Ruth Silver

Synopsis
Join forces with a parallel universe.

Dark forces, magical creatures, and the world Lil thought she knew collide when a dream transports her to the strange world of Orenda. Stunned and terrified, Lil comes face to face with her doppelganger, Willow, who possesses the ability to travel between the two worlds.

Everything Lil knows logically says that Orenda can’t exist, but a small clue may be proof that it was more than an ordinary dream. With the threat of her sister in danger, Lil crosses dimensions but it may cost her even more than she bargained for.

A sword wielding girl, the eternal suit, and a parallel universe come together in this action- packed Young Adult fantasy adventure that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages. Orenda is the first novel in the Orenda series.

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My Review
Lil discovers an alternate world similar to her own, including Willow, Lil’s very own doppelganger. In Orenda, Willow has a younger brother, Jamie, the same age as Lil’s younger sister, Jamey. But that’s not where the weirdness ends. When Lil accidentally ends up in Orenda, and her best friend, Bray, comes looking for her, her life becomes a nightmare. She’s forced to rescue Willow and Bray from an evil sorceress who brought about the Scourge to Orenda and plans on doing the same in Lil’s world.

She meets Willow’s boyfriend, Rawlie and his good looking cousin, Hudson, who may or may not have a thing for Lil. They go to the Fae for help, and everything culminates in a pretty intense climax, with the door wide open for a sequel and a return visit to Orenda.

Plot
The story opens with a bang, but then takes its time getting back there. The plot moves, but also sort of meanders in that movement. All Lil initially wants is to go home, but she can’t do that without Willow’s help, nor can she leave her best friend, Bray, behind. There were several really good plot twists I never saw coming.

The book is pretty short, particularly for the fantasy genre. Many events are told to us rather than being shown. I think this could have been a really engaging read, where I was completely immersed in the world of Orenda, with a little deeper point of view and drawing out some of the pivotal moments a little more.  But the story is definitely interesting and I will definitely read Elfinland, book 2 in the series, when it comes out.

World Building
The world building is good. Orenda is fascinating place, and I would have loved for the author to have spent more time drawing me into it, showing me more of this world. Most fantasy is really heavy on world building, and I felt Orenda could have used a bit more. It’s an intriguing place, but I feel like we’ve only really scratched the surface instead of being immersed in it.

Characters
Because Ruth Silver uses third-person point of view, it’s difficult to get very deep into any one character and the random head-hopping can be distracting. But the characters are interesting and not stereotypical. It would have been nice to get a little deeper inside their heads, though.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Orenda
1. The Lil/Willow dynamic. These two doppelgangers are not the same and their love/hate relationship with each other is snappy.

2. The Lil/Jamey and Willow/Jamie relationships. I love the sibling love between these kids.

3. Hudson. He’s probably the most interesting character in the story. I can’t wait to see more of him in the next book.

4. Orenda. Although I feel like I need to know more about it, the pink skies alone have me itching to go back.

5. The infinity suit. Because who doesn’t want clothes that can save your life?

Bottom Line
Orenda is a decent first book in a fantasy series that lacks some depth, but is a fun, fast read.

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:
 Orenda
Series: Orenda #1
Author: Ruth Silver
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Pages: 143
Release Date: April 13, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Ruth Silver

Author Ruth Silver

About the Author
Ruth Silver first began writing poetry as a teenager and reading heaps of fan fiction in her free time. She has written under three unique pseudo names and penned well over a hundred stories.

She attended Northern Illinois University in 2001 and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication. While in college she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, “Deuces are Wild”, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories.

Her love of writing, led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading YA novels and sharing her favorite books with other readers. She runs her own book blog and also enjoys photography and traveling.

Her favorite YA genre is a mix of Dystopian & Fantasy which is evident in the upcoming release of her latest book, Aberrant. Slated for release April 2013 by Lazy Day Publishing, it is the first in a trilogy.

Where to Find Ruth Silver
Goodreads │ Website │ Twitter │ Facebook

YA Book Review – Sentinel (Covenant Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis
It’s a beautiful day for a war.

As the mortal world slowly slips into chaos of the godly kind, Alexandria Andros must overcome a stunning defeat that has left her shaken and in doubt of their ability to end this war once and for all.

And with all the obstacles between Alex and her happily-ever-after with the swoonworthy Aiden St. Delphi, they must now trust a deadly foe as they travel deep into the Underworld to release one of the most dangerous gods of all time.

In the stunning, action-packed climax to the bestselling Covenant series, Alex must face a terrible choice: the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear… or the end of herself.

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My Review
I want to give this book more than five stars. Because I gave Apollyon five stars and this is even better. Because this is how you end a young adult series. Not a happily ever after, but it’s satisfying and leaves us with hope instead of despair. Because it didn’t ruin the entire series for me for a change.

This final book in the series is almost non-stop action, but not to the point that it becomes exhausting. The author slows it down enough to allow us to catch our breath before ramping it back up again. I’m not someone who is easily moved to tears. Just ask my husband. He cries during movies before I do. But a few really moving, bittersweet, and heartwarming moments managed to wet my Sahara-dry eyes.

Plot
Sentinel is almost entire plot-driven, although there are still a few moments of character development that are like the most delicious cherry on top of the perfect sundae. With everything in the previous books leading to war, war has finally come and Alex and her friends must fight for everything they know, love, and believe in.

And because it’s war, people get hurt and people die, but there are no senseless deaths. Each death serves a purpose, to move the plot, to further the story. And as painful as it is to lose characters we love, when well-done, they make the story richer.

World Building
If possible, the world building is even more complete this time around. It was already incredibly well developed, but the more the world unfolds, the more there seems to be to still learn. Like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside.

Characters
The characters in Sentinel are still fascinating, still fully developed, but they had room to grow, and that’s exactly what they do. Seth is the boy I always knew he would be and that was beautiful to see. Watching Alex accept her fate with grace and dignity was worth the wait. And Aiden…what can I say, he is the ultimate book boyfriend to the very end.

Top Five Things I Love About  Sentinel
1. The action. There’s a lot of it and it’s all really well done.

2. Alex and Aiden. Still the cutest young adult couple in all of Greek mythology.

3. Seth. Seth is back and better than ever.

4. Apollo and Alex. There is a really bittersweet scene between the two of them that just really works.

5. The end. A completely satisfying conclusion to a fun series.

Bottom Line
The perfect example of how to wrap up a young adult series in a satisfying way.

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Title: Sentinel
Series: Covenant Series #5
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 316
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – Daimon (Covenant Series) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daimon (Covenant #0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daimon (Covenant #0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis
“Love in my world usually ended up with someone hearing ‘I smite thee!’ as she was cursed to be some lame flower for the rest of her life.”

For three years, Alexandria has lived among mortals–pretending to be like them and trying to forget the duty she’d been trained to fulfill as a child of a mortal and a demigod. At seventeen, she’s pretty much accepted that she’s a freak by mortal standards… and that she’ll never be prepared for that duty.

According to her mother, that’s a good thing.

But as every descendant of the gods knows, Fate has a way of rearing her ugly head. A horrifying attack forces Alex to flee Miami and try to find her way back to the very place her mother had warned her she should never return-the Covenant. Every step that brings her closer to safety is one more step toward death… because she’s being hunted by the very creatures she’d once trained to kill.

The daimons have found her.

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My Review
This prequel to the Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, introduces us to headstrong Alex, swoony Aiden, Alex’s mom, and the world of Greek Mythology that these characters inhabit. In flashbacks, we see a young Alex stand up to her elders and her mom abandoning their world to protect her daughter. As a half blood (half demigod, half human) Alex is stronger than mere mortals, and that strength and her strong will, keep getting her into trouble in the mortal world.

They live a life on the run, never staying in one place too long. Until the daimons, evil creatures driven to drink the blood of demigods,  find them, then all bets are off.

This short prequel does a really good job of establishing the world and Alex’s character, but it fell short of really engaging me. If I wasn’t already a devoted JLA fan, I’m not sure I would have bothered reading the first book in the series. It isn’t necessary to read this prequel to enjoy the series, but after you’ve read the first book, it might be good to go back and read the prequel to help understand how things got to be the way they are. In fact, I think if you read in that order, Book 1, Prequel, Book 2, then Daimon is actually a pretty good story.

Plot
The plot is somewhat lacking since the purpose of the prequel is to set up the series, which is why this isn’t necessarily a compelling read. Even so, there were some surprises that set everything in motion for book 1, Half-Blood.

World Building
This is where Daimon really shines. Introducing us to modern-day Greek Gods, their hidden world, and the mortal world they sometimes interact with, sets the stage for the series really well.

Characters
We mostly get a look at Alex and her character, as well as the evil of the daimons. It’s obvious from the first chapter that Alex is complex, unconventional, and completely unpredictable. We also get to see how much Alex’s mom loves her and what she was willing to sacrifice for her daughter.

Bottom Line
As a prequel, it’s not really necessary and not all that compelling. But if you read Half-Blood first, it fills in some blanks.

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Title: Daimon
Series: Covenant Series #0.5
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 62
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – Letters to Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere Series) by Julie Cross

Letters to Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

Letters to Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

Synopsis
From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest Series…

Set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics…

I’ve gotten used to the dead parents face. I’ve gotten used to living with my gymnastics coach. I’ve even adjusted to sharing a bathroom with his way-too-hot son. Dealing with boys is not something that’s made it onto my list of experiences as of yet. But here I am, doing it. And something about Jordan–being around him, talking to him, thinking about him–makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. That’s something I haven’t been able to do lately. He knows what it feels like to be me right now. He knows what it’s like to wonder–what now?

I think about it constantly. I need answers. I need to know how to get through this. In the gym, if you’re struggling, you train harder, you do drills and conditioning. How do I work hard at moving on? At being on my own? And what happens if I might be…maybe…probably falling for Jordan? I mean we live together now. That can’t happen, can it?

But kissing him…well, let’s just say it’s not an easy activity to forget.

My Review
I discovered Julie Cross when I reviewed Whatever Life Throws At You. I was so taken by her voice, by the story, by the characters, that I rushed out and picked up Letters to Nowhere. Sometimes it’s a gamble to go back and read an older book by an author I love. This isn’t one of those cases. I loved everything about Letters to Nowhere. Seventeen-year-old Karen Campbell is a spitfire at under five feet and a gymnastic dynamo. When her parents are killed in a car accident, she’s left an orphan, struggling to understand how she’s supposed to go on. Forced to choose between a promising gymnastics career and family, her coach steps in and offers to be her guardian in place of her grandmother, allowing her to continue her training. Gymnastics is the only thing Karen understands and takes him up on the offer.

Things get interesting when she meets her coach’s seventeen-year-old son, Jordan. He gets her in a way no one ever has and soon she discovers why. With shared pain, they bond on a deeper level than either of them has ever known. When friendship becomes something more, things get complicated considering they live in the same house. And oh yeah, his dad is her coach. Karen struggles with how to cope with unimaginable loss, plans for her future, and how to help Jordan cope with his own pain.

Plot
The plot is complex, layered, and deep. The main plot is likely the relationship between Karen and Jordan, but there are strong subplots, including Karen’s gymnastics career, her ability to cope with the loss of her parents, the mystery surrounding their accident, the secret Jordan’s best friend Tony is hiding, and Jordan’s relationship with is father. Julie Cross manages to weave all of these together seamlessly so its impossible to differentiate the plot points as the create a beautiful tapestry of emotion. Letters to Nowhere is definitely a page turner with increasing tension and heartfelt moments that are worth the wait.

World Building
As a former gymnast, Julie Cross creates an authentic and detailed world of international gymnastics. I don’t know enough (anything) about this world, but she so fully immersed me in the language of  juniors, worlds, elites, olympics that I feel like I understood Karen’s drive, her fears, doubts, and goals, as well as the drama and politics that are a part of any elite sport.

Characters
All the characters are strong. Karen is deep, troubled, sympathetic and exceedingly believable. Watching her process grief and anger over her parents’ deaths was intense. I love that Julie Cross doesn’t give her an easy transition. I never got the sense that the tragedy, her parents’ deaths, was just a plot vehicle for the romance. It’s more like the romance is there to help drive the grief plot. Everything Karen does is laced with thoughts of her parents. I love that she writes letters, sometimes only in her head, that she never intends to send. These letters help her process her thoughts and emotions. She writes letters to Jordan, to her parents, and to her coach, giving us glimpses inside her head and allowing us connect with her on a very deep level.

Jordan is equally fascinating, yet we only see him through Karen’s eyes. He’s sweet, loyal, a total daredevil, and he’s deeply wounded himself. I love that Karen recognizes his pain for what it is and tries to help him through it.

The rest of the cast from Coach Bentley to the other gymnasts, and even Jordan’s best friend Tony, are well-rounded and support deeper plotting and characterization with their presence.

Bottom Line
Letters to Nowhere is an intensely beautiful young adult story that is as uplifting as it is tragic. Karen deals with loss, triumph, and first love, with equal parts grit and humor.

About the Book
Title:
 Letters to Nowhere
Series: Letters to Nowhere #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: August 1, 2013
Pages: 356
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Young Adult Book Review – Iron Pendulum (The Periodic Series) by Megan Curd

Iron Pendulum (The Periodic Series #2) by Megan Curd

Iron Pendulum (The Periodic Series #2) by Megan Curd

Synopsis
A month ago, Avery thought the world ended outside Dome Four. Thought she was one of the few of her kind. Thought the war that brought the human race to the brink of extinction was over.

But a month can change everything.

After fighting to escape a tyranny she didn’t even know existed, Avery has had to come to grips with all the secrets she’s uncovered. But more secrets continue to come to light, revealing how little of her world she truly knew. When evidence starts to show that Dome Four might be under siege, Avery knows what she must do.

Returning to the dome she longed to escape is a challenge for Avery, but now she knows there’s corruption lurking in the shadows. A massive steam shortage leaves half the dome without power, and people are falling ill. Dying.

And they’re blaming Avery.

A month can change everything. One more month could kill everyone. The clock is ticking.

My Review
Although I keep hearing dystopia is dead, I’m very that Megan Curd doesn’t agree. Iron Pendulum is the second book in her Periodic Series. I haven’t read the first one yet and was concerned that would be an issue, but it wasn’t. The author does a fabulous job of providing just as much of the backstory as necessary to keep up with  what happens in Iron Pendulum. And a lot happens. The book is full of action with a lot of unexpected twists.

There are a few relationships that would probably be more meaningful if I’d read Book 1 first, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying this fast-paced young adult novel that is part fantasy, part steampunk, and a whole lot of pulse-pounding adventure.

Avery Pike is an elementalist, someone who can control the elements. Her specialty is creating steam which is used to provide oxygen to the inhabitants of Dome Four. Even though she generates enough steam in a matter of minutes to power the dome for a month, it disappears almost overnight. Add to that a deathly illness plaguing the Traditionals (non Elites), creepy zombie-like guards, and the erection of the iron pendulum that’s supposed to keep everyone safe, and things aren’t adding up. Avery and her friends try to find out what’s going on, save the lives of the Traditionals, and bring about a revolution. Like I said, action packed.

Plot
The plot is gripping and only slowed long enough to let me catch your breath, but just barely. There were a couple of areas that I thought didn’t seem plausible, but this is a fantasy, so I chose to ignore those and just enjoy the ride. Iron Pendulum is pure entertainment. It’s on the longish side at 335 pages, but it never drags. The author has created a fascinating world that is both dark and hopeful. And because of that, anything is possible, which means nothing is predictable.

Characters
The story is full of deep, complex, colorful, and nuanced characters that are easy to root for, to love, and even to loathe. Everyone from Jaxon, the sexy dreadlocked love interest and fellow rebel, to smart-mouthed, Christian house mother, Dana. I would love to get a peek a Vincent’s character bio. He’s the son of the Dome’s Governor Lindroth and is neither completely good nor bad, but is perfectly flawed to the point that he is believably human and infinitely fascinating.

I had a hard time getting a sense of who Avery is, though. This might be where reading Book 1 first would have paid off. If I had, perhaps I would have had a better sense of who she is. Because she’s the narrator, I can’t tell if she’s deliberately holding herself back, or if the author spent so much time creating such an amazing cast of supporting characters that she forgot about Avery. Regardless, it works really well because it’s easy to step into her shoes and experience the novel as Avery.

Bottom Line
A unique story in the young adult dystopian genre with its elements of fantasy and a fun steampunk vibe. The characters are fresh and a setting so brilliantly crafted, it’s almost a character itself. Now I’m off to read Steel Lily, the first book in the series available now for just $0.99.

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

About the Book
Title: Iron Pendulum
Series: The Periodic Series #2
Author: Megan Curd
Release Date: August 28, 2014
Pages: 355
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Steampunk Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Megan Curd

Author Megan Curd

About the Author
Megan Curd is a graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While having always enjoyed reading any books she could get her hands on, Megan didn’t begin writing until a friend encouraged her to do so while in college.

When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Photography, traveling and snowboarding are hobbies she loves, and she doesn’t turn down the opportunity to play xBox with her brother and friends when it presents itself.

Megan currently resides in Ohio with her husband and son, where she is trying to convert them into Buckeye fans.

Where to Find Megan Curd
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Review + Giveaway – Young Adult – Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi #1) by Diantha Jones

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful Book Tour

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones

Synopsis
She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.

Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of “Whack Job” in her home town of Adel, Georgia. Fed up with prescription meds and therapists, she wishes for a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and mockery.

Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.

After a vicious attack and learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. While on a mission to discover the Most Beautiful, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.

My Review
I love Greek mythology so I jumped at the chance to read this young adult book by Diantha Jones. It started off slower than I would have liked, but once it got moving, it took off. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of Chloe Clever. Her use of the word “retard” repeatedly early on, turned me off to her immediately. For one, that word is loathsome, for another, her fear of being lumped in with kids in special education classes showed her ignorance. But her character growth was more profound as a result. She becomes someone completely different after learning her destiny. I had to let go of the girl who held such disdain for children with learning difficulties, which is easier said than done. But she is a teen, so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.

The two aspects in this book that worked the best for me were the action and the romance. The sexual tension between Chloe and Strafford was palpable, and the action scenes were dramatic, intense, and never rushed. What didn’t work as well were the long winding descriptions, and the sheer number of characters introduced, making it nearly impossible for me to keep them all straight.

Plot
Overall, the plot worked well. It was an interesting take on the gods and mythology and it moved along for the most part, although there were a few places where I found it dragging. The author does a good job of doling out just the information we need when we need it, so that we understand what’s happening without burning her hook. Despite a good flow, there are places where it gets very busy and it becomes difficult to follow the plot.

The main plot is really well done — discovering what the Prophecy of the Most Beautiful means. The romantic subplot also works really well, teasing us, making us wait, and then delivering a strong, emotional reward, like a carefully wrapped gift. I also particularly enjoyed the creative license Diantha Jones took with Greek mythology to fit her story. It was fun to see the worlds blending, bending, and diverging from what’s real, what’s myth, and what is pure author imagination.

Characters
As I said above, Chloe is initially unsympathetic. She was surly, rude, selfish, and damn hard to like. But it was more satisfying to watch her grow because of that s she began to put the needs of others above her own. Strafford Law was divinely delicious as the hot demigod love interest and his younger brother, Ace, is perfect in his role as cohort and foil. The dialogue is mostly well done, but there are far too many pages without any. I tend to like dialogue-heavy stories.

Some of the characters felt flat to me, which made it difficult for me to form an opinion about them. There are a lot of characters so it’s hard to really delve into so many. Maybe it would have read better with fewer, but more fully-developed characters.

Bottom Line
I enjoyed Prophecy of the Most Beautiful and recommend it to anyone who likes a well-researched modern Greek mythology story lots of romance and action.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book
Title: Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi #1)
Author: Diantha Jones
Pages: 331
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Diantha Jones

About the Author
Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries.

The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star.

Where to Find Diantha Jones
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway