Young Adult Book Review – MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

MY SOUL TO KEEP (Rise of the Fallen) by Sean Hayden

Synopsis
Ever have one of those bad ideas just pop into your head? You know the ones. They seem like a great idea at the time, but if you had stopped to think about it a moment…

I’m talking about those ideas where you just seize the moment and do what your heart tells you to. Then, after the dust settles and you get bandaged up, your parents say, “What the hell were you thinking?”

“But, Dad, I wasn’t!”

I had one of those moments.

I guess if you want to be technical, I had a whole chain of those moments leading up to the big bang moment. The problem was I didn’t have anyone standing around saying, “What the hell were you thinking?”

The moral of this story?

There are several.

First, stores don’t sell black candles for a reason. They’re bad news. If you happen to come across one in the mall that sells questionable items…walk away. Trust me on this one. Black candles are bad.

Second, always know what you want out of life. Coasting along, not caring about anything will get you into trouble. Maybe more than you can handle.

Lastly, if someone offers to grant you your fondest wish, wish for something you really, truly want. Wish for something that will make the world a better place or you a better person. Never ever wish to be a monster… .

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My Review
This was a fun, fast read with lots of action and great characters. Connor is a sarcastic teen with a quick wit and a sharp tongue, but he’s got a heart, which is his redeeming quality right out of the gate. When he says a mysterious chant he isn’t sure where he heard, he’s offered the opportunity for immortality. Connor turns it upside and asks for the one thing no one has asked for before, to become one of the Fallen, those with the powers to grant immortality to others. To say Connor doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into is an understatement. Along with and annoying younger sister, clueless parents, and a snarky Fallen to help train him, Connor navigates the waters of his new “life.” What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with a mortal.

Plot
The plotting was solid and there were more than a couple of unexpected twists. The pacing was constant, never dragging. The story mixes equal parts paranormal adventure and romance, with a hint at a love triangle, that’s well enough done to not be annoying. My only complaint is the ending. Even though this is a paranormal where anything goes, I thought it was just a little too neatly resolved.

Characters
Connor is well-developed and a delightfully refreshing protagonist in the genre. The author brings a male perspective to young adult romance that fully illustrates the awkwardness and self-doubt of teen boys. Clarisse, as Connor’s unwilling teacher in all things Fallen, is also fully fleshed out and lends an element of angst that is anything but pathetic. Her feelings for Connor or clear, but she’s tough and determined, with a hint of anger thrown into the mix. By far, she’s my favorite character in the series to date. The remaining characters, including Connor’s sister, friends, and even his love interest, Jessie, fell a little flat for me, though.

What I Enjoyed About MY SOUL TO KEEP
1. Connor.
 His sarcastic wit made him easy to like, but his big heart made him an even better character that I came to love.

2. Clarisse. She’s totally kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, with a streak of vulnerability that easily made her my favorite character.

3. The Fallen. I love this twist on the paranormal genre. Looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

4. World Building. The author did quite a bit of world building, developing nuanced rules to create his own take on this aspect of the paranormal, creating a different stage upon which to set his characters.

5. Twists. There were a fair number of twists that kept the story engaging.

Bottom Line
A fun twist on the paranormal genre with intriguing characters and a fast-paced storyline.

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About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: MY SOUL TO KEEP
Series: Rise of the Fallen #1
Author: Sean Hayden
Publisher: Untold Press
Release Date: April 4, 2012
Pages: 187
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Sean Hayden

Author Sean Hayden

About the Author
Born the son of a fire chief, Sean naturally developed a love of playing with fire. His family and friends quickly found other outlets for his destructive creativity. Writing is his latest endeavor.

Always a fan of the macabre, mythical, and magical, Sean found a love of urban fantasy and horror. After writing several novels in this genre, he found, fell in love with, and immersed himself in steampunk. He has always wanted to rewrite history and steampunk gave him that opportunity.

Sean currently lives in Florida as a fiber-optic engineer as well as an author. He was blessed with the two most amazing children he could ever hope for, has met the absolute love of his life, who coincidentally is his partner in everything. His hobbies include grand designs on world domination as well as a starring role in his own television sitcom.

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Where to Find Sean Hayden
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Young Adult Book Review – UNDER SUNLESS SKIES (Starlight Saga) by Sherry Soule

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES (Starlight Saga #2) by Sherry Soule

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES (Starlight Saga #2) by Sherry Soule

Synopsis
True love is hard. And a doomed relationship with epic trust issues and shady secrets? Even harder.

For Sloane Masterson, her forbidden love with Hayden Lancaster has been a series of highs and lows, which is overly complicated by those annoying interstellar dating laws.

But once Sloane discovers a shocking family secret, she won’t let those lame rules get in her way—she’s on a mission to win back her hybrid!

Too bad convincing her stubborn ex that they belong together isn’t Sloane’s only problem. . .

After receiving creeptastic blackmail messages, Sloane’s life becomes a real-life horror movie. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Hayden slimes her with smelly ectoplasm and freaky mutants start tracking her every move. Insert one more major disaster. . .the unexpected arrival of Sector Thirteen.

If she hopes to survive all the crazy with Hayden at her side, Sloane needs to expose the blackmailer and get that potent residue off her skin—fast. Because with Sector Thirteen’s monsters hunting her, Sloane’s not going down without a fight, even if that means trusting the one boy who broke her heart.

*This series is intended for upper-YA readers, has lots of steamy romance and campy humor, and is not considered hardcore science fiction.

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My Review
Book two in the series picks up where the first one ended. Sloane is reeling from being dumped by Hayden, but oh yeah, she’s got a secret, apparently she’s part alien, too. Hoping this will convince Hayden their relationship isn’t doomed after all, she sets her sights on winning him back. This was the first time I disliked her. Her singular focus on getting a boy to like her made her seem very un-Sloane like, the girl I loved in book 1. She spends a fair amount of the book pining over him, but since he’s equally lost without her, it’s mutually pathetic. That said, the angst is well-done, the snarky dialogue is as good as ever, and other than being a lovesick puppy half the time, Sloane is as kick-ass as ever. My biggest problem with this book is that it feels oh so familiar. Anyone who has read the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout will notice many, many similarities. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, Armentrout’s own Covenant series borrows heavily from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. My issue is that too much of it was predictable as a result. However, if you haven’t read the Lux series, you’re in for a real treat with this.

Plot
Primarily a romance, this main plot centers around the Sloane/Hayden will-they-or-won’t they dance. But there are subplots involving Sloane’s alien dad, Sector Thirteen, Hayden’s missing adopted sister, and the mystery surrounding who is blackmailing Sloane. Underlying all of that is Sloane’s obsession with all things horror, including her love of hanging out in her town’s cemetery.

Characters
I still adore Sloane. She’s tough, witty, and so secure in who she is. She’s a great young adult role model except when she obsesses over Hayden. Don’t get me wrong, this is young adult fiction, and teens definitely obsess over the opposite sex. I just felt that in this case, it sas of out of character. With her newfound alien blood, she’s even a little tougher in some respects. Hayden seems to have lost some of his umph from the first book. He had that dark, brooding alpha male thing going on, but he came across as more…I’m not even sure what the right word is. Just less Hayden-esque.  The supporting characters are all there to prop up Sloane and Hayden, but Sloane’s BFF seems to accept her huge secret a little too easily. That didn’t ring true. I think she’d want some proof or something. There was also something about Sloane’s mom that felt off, like she didn’t come across as authentically parental, even a parent married to an alien.

What I Enjoyed About UNDER SUNLESS SKIES
1. Dialogue.
 Once again, the author excels at witty repartee that deliciously moves the story along.

2. Blog Posts. I love how Sloane’s horror film blog posts help the reader grasp what Sloane’s going through without extensive internal monologue or exposition.

3. Sloane. She’s simply one of my favorite young adult protagonists. She embraces her plus-size self and doesn’t fret over her body image at all.

4. Hot Make-Out Sessions. Soule knows how to bring the heat without crossing a line.

5. The Mystery. I have to admit, I was never sure who the blackmailer was. The author does a great job of creating a pool of plausible suspects.

Bottom Line
A fun, fast read that’s light on sci-fi and heavy on teen angst.

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

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About the Book
Title: UNDER SUNLESS SKIES
Series: Starlight Saga #2
Author: Sherry Soule
Pages: 335
Category: Young Adult Paranormal/SciFi Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Sherry Soule

Author Sherry Soule

About the Author
Sherry Soule lives with her family and two black rescue cats in Northern California. She’s always wanted to live in a world where sweatpants are sexy, cupcakes don’t make you fat, and she could adopt every homeless animal.

She writes young adult, new adult, and adult in urban fantasy, romantic comedy, and paranormal romance genres set in fictional places within the SF Bay Area that feature independent females and sexy alpha males.

Many of Sherry’s books have spent time on the Kindle bestseller lists and have been nominated as top picks in the “Best Paranormal Romance” categories.

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Where to Find Sherry Soule
Goodreads | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano

TRAVELER Blog Tour

TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano

TRAVELER by L.E. DeLano

Synopsis
A teen writer discovers that every mirror is a portal into an alternate version of her life in this romantic YA fantasy by author L.E. DeLano.

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all teacakes, pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

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My Review
This was a fresh take on the urban fantasy genre. Jessa discovers she’s a Traveler, someone who can move between parallel universes. The purpose of the Traveler is to keep all the universes orderly, fixing things that can become catastrophic if left unchecked. Together with fellow Traveler, Finn, Jessa reluctantly accepts her fate until she discovers someone is trying to kill her, one universe at a time.The tale is magical with incredible world-building and complex characters. Because each character is slightly different in each universe, the author crafted a wonderfully deep cast. As Finn and Jessa race through portals, they develop a deep bond, but Jessa’s best friend, Ben, has strong feelings for her, setting up one of the most unique love triangles I’ve come across. The teen angst is palpable without being overly dramatic.

Plot
The plot centers around Finn and Jessa’s search for whoever is trying to kill her. There’s a solid mystery component to it with some exciting moments. The romance almost takes a back seat, though. I was hoping for more romance earlier in the book. It takes a good three-quarters of the story to fully develop. Even so, it is well done and I feel as conflicted as Jessa does about the two boys in her life.

Characters
While this is definitely a plot-driven story, the character development really shines. I loved seeing all the slight ripples in personality from Jessa’s viewpoint as she traveled. It’s clear the author spent a lot of time getting to know her characters.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Pacing.
 The story took too long to really get ramped up. At least for me. I had to plod through the first third waiting for it to grab me, and some sections I ended up skimming.

2. World Building. Don’t get me wrong, I love the world the author created, but I found some of the rules confusing and hard to follow.

What I Enjoyed About TRAVELER
1. Ben.
 I liked him immediately and I love how much he cares for Jessa.

2. Danny. Jessa’s brother takes different shape throughout the story as she travels to different dimensions, but her love for Danny, and seeing him the way he is in other realities and the way it affected her, was one of my favorite aspects of the story.

3. The ending. Even though it took awhile to build, once the story reached its pinnacle, it was a non-stop ride to the finish.

4. Alternate Universes. Or AUs as my teen likes to call them. This is almost as fascinating as time travel.

5. Finn. He’s such a tormented, complex hero. Strong, resilient, and so easy to love.

6. The cover. Seriously, this is absolutely gorgeous!! I’d totally frame it and hang it on my wall!

Bottom Line
TRAVELER is everything I hoped it would be, a fascinating plot with plenty 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: TRAVELER
Author: L.E. DeLano
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Pages: 351
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Author L.E. DeLano

Author L.E. DeLano

About the Author
L.E. DeLano is a YA novelist rep’d by Barry Goldblatt Literary agency, author of the upcoming “Traveler” (Swoon Reads/MacMillan 2017) and lifelong writer. Her work has been featured on various online outlets and she lives in Pennsylvania with two very adventurous kids and two very ridiculous cats. In her spare time, she writes (of course) and binge-watches way too much Netflix.

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Where to Find L.E. DeLano
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Forever Blue by Abby Wilder

Forever Blue Blog Tour

Forever Blue by Abby Wilder

Forever Blue by Abby Wilder

Synopsis
I never thought it would end like this.
I never thought it would end at all.
But not all stories get a happy ending.

When Lennon Donnelly moves back to the quiet town of Puruwai, she never dreams that a chance meeting with a boy sitting at the cemetery will change her life. Her best friend warns her about Judah Mitchell. There are rumours that he killed his brother. But as Lennon is drawn deeper into the mysterious boy’s life, the events of his past unravel until she finds herself driving over the edge of a cliff and into the depths of the lake below.

Spanning over two years and starting at the end, this compelling novel tells of the intertwining relationships of Lennon, Ruben, Judah, and Cara. Told from the different perspectives of before and after, the story unfolds like a puzzle and reveals secrets that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

“Devourable” – YA Books Central

“An unforgettable experience” – Readers’ Favorite

This story contains mild use of strong language and references to underage drinking and smoking..

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My Review
A week after finishing Forever Blue I’m still not sure how I feel about it, and that’s the hallmark of good storytelling. I knew going in that there would be no happy endings. I can tell you that without spoiling anything because that’s right there on the very first page. Readers know from the get-go it’s not going to be a happily ever after kind of tale, but I still don’t think I was fully prepared for the way it ended. Forever Blue is the story of Lennon, new to town after her parents split. She hangs out with her cousin who is completely opposite of Lennon. Lennon is wallflower material, her cousin is the life of the party, the girl everyone wants to be around. No one really notices Lennon or pays much attention to her until Judah. Somehow this tortured boy with a tragic past really sees her. The two begin a strange romance that only gets stranger as the past and the present collide.

Forever Blue GIF 1

Plot
The plot centers around the romance between Lennon and Judah and the mystery of what happened the year before. Judah knows what happened, but no one believes him, except Lennon. But as she learns more of the truth, she’s shocked in a way she never dreamed possible and everything she thought she knew is turned upside down.

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The author slowly reveals the backstory through multiple points of view, finally giving us what we want to know in the closing chapters. The pacing is a little slow at first, but it picks up in the middle and kept me guessing until the very end.

Characters
The characters are interesting, but one thing they lacked was a lot of differentiation. They were all dark, angry, tortured. It makes sense, they all lost someone, but with so many varying first-person POVs, it would have been nice to really delve deeper into each character and find those pieces that set them apart from the others. They all sounded a little too much alike.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The ending.
 I’m still not sure what to make of it. Not everything was resolved and I’m left with just as many new questions as I am answers.

2. Multiple points of view. I understand why the author took this route and the concept works, but as I mentioned above, I would have liked more differentiation of the characters.

What I Enjoyed About Forever Blue
1. The ending.
 Yeah, I know, I loved it and I hated it. What can I say? It’s an enigma which leaves me conflicted.the-row-gif-3

2. Lennon. She’s loyal and generous, two outstanding qualities in a protagonist.

3. The plot. I loved the unusual twists on both the mystery and the romance plot lines.

4. Twins. As the mother of identical twin teenage boys, I found this part of the story particularly intriguing. Especially since the brothers in the story were so different and mine are so alike.

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5. Symbolism. The author uses symbolism throughout in sometimes unique ways that really tied the story together with the themes so well.

Bottom Line
Forever Blue is a dark young adult romance with a paranormal twist, wrapped in a mystery.

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 Blue
Author: Abby Wilder
Release Date: June 17, 2016
Pages: 372
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Paranormal Romance
Rating:
 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Abby Wilder

About the Author
Abby Wilder is an author from the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand. She loves stories in all forms; film, photography, music, but it’s the simplicity of written words that she loves the most . . . well, written words and binge watching television series.

Since a love of reading has remained constant in her life, she couldn’t imagine anything better than being a writer so she set out to achieve just that. Abby has one husband, two children, three cats and a dog called Joss.

Girl Behind Glass is her debut novel. Boy in Uniform is a short companion story and Girl Beneath Stars is the final in the Behind Glass Series to follow Willow Stanton..

Where to find Abby Wilder
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – The Delphi Effect (The Delphi Trilogy) by Rysa Walker

The Delphi Effect Blog Tour

The Delphi Effect (The Delphi Trilogy #1) by Rysa Walker

The Delphi Effect (The Delphi Trilogy #1) by Rysa Walker

Synopsis
In this thrilling new series from Rysa Walker, the award-winning and best-selling author of Timebound, a teen psychic is the key to stopping a government conspiracy.

It’s never wise to talk to strangers . . . and that goes double when they’re dead. Unfortunately, seventeen-year-old Anna Morgan has no choice. Resting on a park bench, touching the turnstile at the Metro station—she never knows where she’ll encounter a ghost. These mental hitchhikers are the reason Anna has been tossed from one foster home and psychiatric institution to the next for most of her life.

When a chance touch leads her to pick up the insistent spirit of a girl who was brutally murdered, Anna is pulled headlong into a deadly conspiracy that extends to the highest levels of government. Facing the forces behind her new hitcher’s death will challenge the barriers, both good and bad, that Anna has erected over the years and shed light on her power’s origins. And when the covert organization seeking to recruit her crosses the line by kidnapping her friend, it will discover just how far Anna is willing to go to bring it down.

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My Review
Part paranormal, part thriller, part scifi, this book is really unique. Seventeen-year-old Anna has an unusual ability to channel the dead by touching something they have also touched. It’s like The Sixth Sense, except the dead know they’re dead, they just have something left undone before they can let go of their old lives. When Anna picks up Molly, a trafficked teen who was brutally murdered, she contacts Molly’s grandfather, a former detective, for help. To say Anna has an uphill battle convincing him that Molly is residing in Anna’s head would be an understatement. Together with friends of Molly’s, Anna and her best friend, Deo, try to help Molly get the closure she needs, only to realize they’ve stumbled into something huge that might have roots all the way at the highest levels of the government.

Plot
The story is well-plotted, but takes longer to get going than I would have liked. It’s definitely an intriguing story, but there’s a lot of world building involved that is necessary to understand Anna’s situation and the world she lives in, but at times, it slows the story down. There is also far less romance than I like in my young adult novels. Which means this is perfect for anyone who thinks young adult has too much romance 🙂

Characters
Anna is a fascinating character. I had a difficult time warming up to her, though. While I understand why she’s so distrustful and standoffish, it made it difficult to identify with her. Still, she’s intriguing with one of the best backstories I’ve read in awhile. I loved the rest of the characters as well, all are so well-developed they jump off the page. Everyone from Deo to Aaron, Sam, and even Daniel are living, breathing characters that drive the story as much as Anna.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The pacing.
 It was slow at times, almost too slow.

2. The ending. I realize it’s the first book of a trilogy, but it was still too much of a cliffhanger for me.

3. The cover. It doesn’t really do anything for me. It didn’t grab my eye at all, but the author’s name sure did, and the description sold it.

What I Enjoyed About The Delphi Effect
1. The world building.
 True perfection!

the-row-gif-32. Deo. He’s anything but stereotypical as the gender-questioning best friend.

3. The plot. Unique. And that’s about all I can say without giving anything away 🙂

4. Aaron. He’s amazing as the guy, with a secret of his own, who swoops in to help Anna and Deo.

5. Conspiracies. I adore a good conspiracy, particularly one with ties to the U.S. government. This was my favorite aspect of the story!

Bottom Line
The Delphi Effect is a fascinating paranormal/scifi/mystery/thriller for young adults.

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: The Delphi Effect
Series: The Delphi Effect #1
Author: Rysa Walker
Publisher: Skyscape
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Pages: 380
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Rating:
 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Rysa Walker

Author Rysa Walker

About the Author
Rysa Walker is the author of the bestselling CHRONOS Files series. Timebound, the first book in the series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Rysa grew up on a cattle ranch in the South, where she was a voracious reader. On the rare occasions when she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stoplight. She currently lives in North Carolina, where she is working on the next installment in The Delphi Trilogy. If you see her on social media, please tell her to get back to her Writing Cave.

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Where to find Rysa Walker
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Crossing the Barrier by Martine Lewis

Crossing the Barrier Blog Tour

Crossing the Barrier (The Gray Eyes #1) by Martine Lewis

Crossing the Barrier (The Gray Eyes #1) by Martine Lewis

Synopsis
High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.

Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.

Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?

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My Review
Lily Morgan is an empath. She feels what everyone else feels, but she has the ability to block those feelings. That is until Malakai slams into her in the hallway on his way to football practice. Lily hits her head and loses that ability. In high school, she’s overwhelmed with teenage emotions. Not to mention that Lily’s own mother hates her, which she can no longer shield herself from. Lily’s best friend, Sandra, and her brother, David, are the only two outside her family who know about Lily’s gift and they’re supportive in a way friends should be. Sandra helps her navigate the school hallways as she’s bombarded with everyone’s angst, drama, anger, fear, and every other emotion teens feel in the span of three minutes between classes.

Malakai and Lily have strong feelings for each other from the get go, but forces outside their control threaten to keep them apart. Other than Lily’s inability to block emotions, the paranormal aspect doesn’t really come into play much in the story. Until the very end in a surprise twist I didn’t see coming and absolutely loved!

Crossing the Barrier Teaser 1

Plot
The plot is a young adult romance. Will Lily and Malakai be together? There is a fair amount of angst threaded through this plot as one thing after another forces them to wonder if they are really meant to be. The subplotting of Lily’s relationship with her mother is interesting and a little over the top at first, until more is revealed about their relationship in yet another twist. The pacing was a little slow throughout, but not to the point that it dragged, but for a paranormal, I guess I was expecting more action.

Characters
The third-person point of view made it difficult for me to really connect with either character the way I normally do in young adult. At least at first, but once I got into the story, I almost forgot it wasn’t first person.Lily, despite her ability, is a little naive and a bit of a doormat at times. It made it hard to identify with her. I would have liked to see more backbone in her. She does grow through the story, though, and she’s tougher toward the end. Malakai has his own issues. His mother left him and his father as a child without explanation. Abandonment by your mother is tough on any kid. Add to that a usually absent military father, and Malakai is basically raising himself. I thought Malakai had a lot more depth than Lily and I was glad we got to see Lily through his eyes. I think that made her more sympathetic.

Ending
The ending was my favorite part of the book and left me breathless for the next in the series.

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Top Five Things I Enjoyed about Crossing the Barrier:
1. Transparency. Because Lily could feel everyone’s emotions, nothing was hidden. That was a cool angle for young adult.

2. Sandra and David. Loyal best friends are my favorite young adult trope.

3. Drama. The conflict between Lily and her mom was some of the best in the book and as the reasons became apparent, it only got better.

4. The ending. I won’t spoil anything, but it was one of the best twists I’ve read lately.

5. Football. This is my favorite sport. I thought I was going to be reading a paranormal, so the sports angle was a pleasant surprise.

Bottom Line
Crossing the Barrier is essentially a contemporary young adult romance with a paranormal twist.

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 – FREE from Sept. 1 through Sept. 5!!!
Title: Crossing the Barrier
Series: The Gray Eyes #1
Author: Martine Lewis
Publisher: BMJ Chanapi Press
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Pages: 380
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Crossing the Barrier

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Author Martine Lewis

Author Martine Lewis

About the Author
Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived.

Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has.

All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net.

Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist.

Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers.

Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats..

Where to Find Martine Lewis
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon

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Giveaway
Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a free copy of Crossing the Barrier
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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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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – Deception So Dark (Run to You Series) by Clara Kensie

Deception so Dark (Run to You #2) by Clara Kensie

Deception so Dark (Run to You #2) by Clara Kensie

Synopsis
Originally published as the Run to You serial parts 4-6— Fourth Shadow, Fifth Touch, and Sixth Sense.

Deception So Dark is the complete second novel in the Run to You series, a riveting thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past, and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

With no more secrets to keep them apart, Tessa and Tristan embark upon a desperate search to find her missing brother and sister. But not even Tristan can keep Tessa safe from the hostile classmates at her new school…or from the nightmare that haunts her even while she’s awake. As Tessa’s nightmare becomes all too real, her hope of getting her family back together feels ever more out of reach. When a psychic warns her that leaving town may mean her death, Tessa still cannot stay when she uncovers a potential lead to her brother and sister. Not even if she must go alone and risk losing it all: Tristan, her family, and even her life.

Run to You is Tessa and Tristan’s story—two full-length books about psychic gifts, secret lives and dangerous loves. Danger. Deception. Betrayal. It must be true love.

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My Review
Book 2 picks up right where Book 1 ends with Tessa now  staying with Tristan and his family. Jillian and Logan are on the run, believing Tessa and their parents are dead. Only Tessa knows the awful truth about their family. With Tristan’s help, Tessa searches for Jillian and Logan, only to be met with one setback after another. The author throws in a lot of twists, introduces some fascinating new characters, and takes the level of adventure up another notch.

Plot
Romance takes a backseat to the adventure and danger this time around. Now that Tristan and Tessa know each other’s secrets, they’re together. They have some ups and downs, but the story is about finding Jillian and Logan more than about whether Tessa and Tristan will end up together. The plot is interesting and anything but predictable, and aside from a few pacing issues, moves pretty well.

Characters
Tessa has a lot on her plate and I think she deals with it the way I expect a teenage girl to. She’s only known life on the run and settling down doesn’t come naturally to her, even though its what she’s craved her whole life. She struggles to come to terms with her parents’ crimes, and the constant taunting by the families of their victims isn’t helping. I got a better sense of Tristan this time around and he’s a good guy, although at times he’s almost too good to be true.

World Building
The world of psionic powers is further explored, particularly when it comes to Tessa’s gifts and, again, the author weaves it into the story seamlessly.

Writing
I didn’t think the fluidity was quite as strong as with the first one, but Clara Kensie is a master at creating tension and throwing in twists that in hind view, were perfectly foreshadowed. There’s a lot more symbolism in this story and I love the author’s use of it.

Ending
I enjoyed the ending. I thought it wrapped up well but leaves the door open for maybe a spin-off from another character’s point of view.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Deception So Dark:
1. Tessa’s loyalty to her brother and sister knows no bounds and it’s one of her strongest character traits.

2. Aaron. The sweet nerd of a boy with a computer-like brain who helps Tessa is someone I’d like to see more of.

3. Surprising plot twists. There were more than a few and they were all deliciously unanticipated.

4. Tristan. I wasn’t sure about him after reading Book 1. And although there were times he seemed too good to be true, his love for Tessa was never in doubt and he’d clearly do anything for her.

5. Dennis and Deirdre. They love Tessa as their own and they provide the paternal stability that Tessa needs.

Bottom Line
Deception So Dark is a solid follow-up to the first book with lots of action and suspense.

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: Deception So Dark
Series: Run to You #2
Author: Clara Kensie
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 1, 2015
Pages: 252
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

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Author Clara Kensie

Author Clara Kensie

About the Author
…don’t forget to breathe…

Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is the author of dark fiction for young adults. Her debut series is the romantic thriller RUN TO YOU: Deception So Deadly and Deception So Dark.

Her favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

Where to Find Clara Kensie
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram
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Young Adult Book Review – Deception So Deadly (Run to You Series) by Clara Kensie

Deception so Deadly (Run to You #1) by Clara Kensie

Deception so Deadly (Run to You #1) by Clara Kensie

Synopsis
Originally published as the Run to You serial parts 1-3: First Sight, Second Glance, and Third Charm.

Deception So Deadly is the complete first novel in the two-book Run to You series, a riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Sarah Spencer has a secret: her real name is Tessa Carson, and to stay alive, she can tell no one the truth about her psychically gifted family and the danger they are running from.

As the new girl in the latest of countless schools, she also runs from her attraction to Tristan Walker—after all, she can’t even tell him her real name. But Tristan won’t be put off by a few secrets. Not even dangerous ones that might rip Tessa from his arms before they even kiss…

Run to You is Tessa and Tristan’s story—two full-length books about psychic gifts, secret lives and dangerous loves. Danger. Deception. Betrayal. It must be true love.

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My Review
The story starts off with a bang as Sarah, aka Tessa, gets a text while sitting in class that it’s time to run. Again. Something her family has been doing for the past eight years. Her family isn’t normal. They have secrets. Secrets that the government wants.

Tessa doesn’t make friends, because what’s the point? But when they settle into Twelve Lakes, she’s pursued by Tristan, a boy with beautiful blue eyes and broad shoulders. She initially pushes back, but she’s a girl and he’s a boy and…hormones. While Tessa keeps her true identity from Tristan, she can’t help falling for the sweet boy who makes her feel things she never has before.

The push and pull of their relationship is raw and real and kept me turning the page. As Tristan and Tessa fall for each other, Tessa is constantly looking over her shoulder, never able to relax and be normal, because at any moment she’ll be on the run again, leaving Tristan behind forever.

Plot
The plot is a dual-pronged. It’s the story of Tristan and Tessa, but it’s also the story of Tessa’s family and their survival. They must stay one step ahead of their pursuers, never knowing when they’ll be found, because it is only a matter of when, not if. Both plots are very well done and kept me on the edge of my seat. They’re woven together seamlessly, each driving the other in complex fashion.

Characters
Tessa is complex, deep, and wounded — everything you want your teen protagonist to be. And while I liked the other characters, I didn’t get the same level of depth from them. Even Tristan didn’t come across as fully-developed as I would have liked. That may have been deliberate on the author’s part, though. We see the world and the other characters through Tessa’s eyes, and she’s got a lot going on, what she chooses to observe and not observe are part of her character. Tessa’s well-developed enough, I don’t know that the lack of depth of the other characters is really a problem, but I did notice it.

World Building
The world of psychic gifts is a central part of the book, and while there isn’t anything really new here, it’s detailed and flows effortlessly through the story.

Writing
Clara Kensie does a great job of building tension, making Deception So Deadly read much like a thriller, but without the gore, violence, and language often found in adult thrillers. A number of twists wind their way through the plot like vines. Some I saw coming, some not so much, and the pacing was damn near perfect.

Ending
Considering this is the first of a two-book series, I thought the author did a great job of wrapping up the main story lines, leaving me satisfied, but still wanting to read the second book.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Deception So Deadly:
1. The psychic abilities. Let’s face it, no matter what you call them, super powers rock!

2. Tessa. All four-foot-ten of her. She’s feisty, determined, and loyal. In her case, size really doesn’t matter.

3. The twists and turns. I won’t mention any of them because even one could spoil things, but I love the plotting in this book.

4. Tristan. I was hot and cold on Tristan throughout the book and I think that’s part of his appeal. Just like Tessa, the author was able to pull me in before making me doubt him and his motives, then pull me in again, only to question everything I thought I knew about him all over again.

5. Jillian and Logan. As Tessa’s older sister and younger brother, they look out for Tessa, but they each bring something different to the dynamic. Jillian pushes Tessa to have fun, to fall in love, because even love lost is better than not at all. Logan is two years younger, but he acts more like an older brother at times, protecting Tiny Little Tessa at all cost.

Bottom Line
Deception So Deadly is a fun, fast-paced young adult paranormal romantic adventure that is as much about the danger as it is about the 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: Deception So Deadly
Series: Run to You #1
Author: Clara Kensie
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 1, 2015
Pages: 264
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

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Author Clara Kensie

Author Clara Kensie

About the Author
…don’t forget to breathe…

Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is the author of dark fiction for young adults. Her debut series is the romantic thriller RUN TO YOU: Deception So Deadly and Deception So Dark.

Her favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

Where to Find Clara Kensie
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram
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Review + Giveaway – Revolution (Revelation Series) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Revolution Banner

Revolution (Revelation #4) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Revolution (Revelation #4) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Synopsis

A King Rises

A Fate Seals

Realms Fall

Eve Collins has set in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything she’s ever loved. Surrounded by dangerous creatures, dark worlds, and the struggle to become who she was meant to be, Eve must complete her ascension and accept her destiny.

War has begun. Losing is not an option. With dangers lurking around each corner, and everything against her, will Eve sacrifice her own happiness in order to tip the scale of balance? Which side will rise to power, and which fall to fate?

In this fourth installment in The Revelation Series, Eve must risk it all in order to prevent a centuries old war.

Everything comes with a sacrifice, even love..

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My Review
Revolution is the darkest installment in the series to date. It also covers a lot of territory. Picking up immediately after the end of Redemption, Eve is on a quest to save her mother, after mating with Asher and stabbing him in the heart, then leaving with Gage. As usual with the Revolution series, nothing is easy for Eve. Not rescuing Elizabeth, not accepting that the woman she thought was her aunt is really her mother, nor gaining Asher’s forgiveness. While it’s clear he still loves her deeply, she wounded him on such a fundamental level, she’s got her work cut out for her.

Plot
This fourth book is action-packed, moving from one exciting, dangerous adventure to the next in rapid succession. As always, the best moments come in the rare quiet times when the characters interact with witty dialogue and playful banter. There are enough of these moments to offset the darkness.

World Building
Once again, Randi Cooley Wilson paints a colorful world populated by equally colorful characters. The settings come alive through rich details that put the reader in the thick of it.

Characters
There is a little more character development taking place this time. While Eve still gets on my nerves at times, it’s nice to see the St. Michaels coming around. I’ve always loved Callan and Abby, but now we get to see another side to both Keegan and McKenna, that shows them in more depth than in the previous three books.

Top Five Things I Love About  Redemption
1. Gage. He might just be my favorite gargoyle, but he needs to quit smoking.

2. The Witty Banter. Randi Cooley Wilson creates dialogue that sparkles like a Stephenie Meyer vampire.

3. Callan and Abby. They’re totes adorbs.

4. The Twists. There were several plot twists I didn’t see coming and I love when an author can do that and still foreshadow.

5. The Ending. Yeah, yeah, it’s a cliffhanger, which I’m not a fan of, but it still wrapped up the main plot lines from this story and left me wanting more.

Bottom Line
The story moves us forward, revealing a devastating secret and setting up the fifth and final book in the series in typical RCW fashion.

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

About the Book
Title: Revolution
Series: Revelation #4
Author: Randi Cooley Wilson
Pages: 319
Release Date: May 31, 2015
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Smashwords

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Author Randi Cooley Wilson

Author Randi Cooley Wilson

About the Author
Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years.

Randi and her husband recently moved back to Massachusetts with their daughter where she was encouraged to begin writing again.

Revelation is her first novel and The Revelations Series is her first New Adult Paranormal Romance book series.

“I’ve had a love affair with books, writing and storytelling since childhood. It has been a dream of mine to introduce this world and these characters to you. I hope I’ve done them justice.”

Randi loves to hear from readers, you can reach out to her via Twitter: R_CooleyWilson and/or Facebook: authorrandicooleywilson

Where to Find Randi Cooley Wilson
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
One Winner: Signed Apron, Revelation, Restraint, Redemption and Revolution signed paperbacks.
Five Winners: One Signed Paperback of Either: Revelation, Restraint, Redemption or Revolution
Ten Winners: One Digital Copy of Revolution

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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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Giveaway
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YA Book Review – Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

Synopsis
Allison McKready is a succubus. So is her twin sister. But while Allison spends her summer break hiding in the library behind her Goth makeup, Jade fools around as often as she can.

Allison can’t believe Jade would ignore their mother’s fatal example so recklessly, but concealing a cursed bloodline and its dangerous effects is far from Allison’s only problem.

Mean girl Julie’s snob mob is determined to ruin her summer, and Aunt Sarah’s Bible thumping is getting louder. Only her new friend, Ren Fisher, offers safe haven from the chaos of her life.

When one of Jade’s risky dates leads to humiliation and sudden tragedy, Allison reels, and Ren catches her. But as her feelings for him grow, so does her fear that she’ll hurt him—or worse—in an unguarded moment.

The choice is coming—love him or save him—but Allison might not live to make it. One way or another, the curse will have its due.

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My Review
I’ll admit going into this, I had no idea what a succubus was. Yes, I know… But I really didn’t. Paranormal isn’t my normal genre. Sure, I read the Twilight series, but after that, I’d kind of had my fill and only pick up a handful of of paranormal stories a year. But this one, with the twin sisters and the bible-thumping aunt, caught my attention. As the mother of twins, I’m fascinated by stories about twins.

Allison tries to fly under the radar. She’s a succubus, and falling in love just isn’t for her. So by dressing like a goth girl, she attempts to keep people, particularly boys, at arms’ length. Somehow Ren sees through the facade to the beautiful girl inside, but they can never be anything more than friends. Or can they? Allison’s and Ren’s relationship moves beyond the friend-zone with consequences, but Ren is willing to take the risk, even if Allison isn’t. When her twin sister, Jade’s, riskier behavior comes back to bite her, it also affects Allison, resulting in tragedy. But Ren is there for Allison, taking their friendship to yet another level.

While the story starts off slower than I would have liked, it picks up about a third of the way in when it takes a twisted detour into tragedy. That was difficult to get through, but once I did, the story gripped me and never let go. Into a Million Pieces is a paranormal romance, but it reads far more like contemporary with a paranormal twist. That twist is responsible for creating a forbidden love that was so angsty, I could almost physically feel it at times. It’s also a bit of a mystery, which I didn’t see coming, although once I knew what had happened, I did figure out pretty quick who did it. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book, though, because at it’s core, it’s not a mystery.

World Building
The world building is very subtle, but utterly believable. The whole succubus thing is woven through the story without overpowering it. The story is about the romance between Allison and Ren. She just happens to be cursed with a gift that could kill the boy she loves if she ever has sex with him. If that isn’t the world’s best birth control for teens, I don’t know what is. But rather than a story about the world of succubi (is that the plural of succubus?), it’s about a girl, who just happens to be a succubus, falling in love with a boy.

Plot
The main plot is definitely the romance of Allison and Ren and it’s extremely well done. The teenage angst is as good as any I’ve read, and I felt the emotional pull far more than I ever did with Edward and Bella. The subplot revolving around Jade is strong and weaves through the main plot, touching every aspect of Allison’s relationship with Ren. Other than the slow start, I thought the plot was strong and there were a couple of really well-done twits.

Characters
Allison and Jade are both well-developed as is the aunt. Ren is a little more than just two-dimensional, but I never felt like I got as good of a sense of who he is as I could have. He’s got some issues in his past as well, which are brought out, but I still felt like a little more development could have been done. However, if this is the first book in a series (please, please, please let this be the case) then it’s fine that the author has left this for a later book.

The Writing
The writing is solid. Cook excels at scene setting and creating an incredible amount of heat between her characters without ever getting graphic. I wish more authors would do this, because it’s not easy, but it’s so much more intense to read.

The Ending
The ending wrapped up all the main plot points, but left enough for another book (see above begging) if the author feels inclined. The conclusion is satisfying and hopeful without needing to create the perfect happily ever after. Because succubus and human.

Top Five Things I Loved About Into a Million Pieces
1. Twins. Because who doesn’t love stories about twins?

2. Ren. He’s sweet and the way he cares for Allison makes him a perfect book boyfriend.

3. Ren’s Grandmother. She’s an amazing woman who supports both Ren and Allison as only a grandmother can.

4. The mud fight. I actually smiled as I pictured the whole thing.

5. Allison’s integrity. The fact that she never gives into her desire in order to protect Ren is one of the things I love most about her.

Bottom Line
Into a Million Pieces is a different kind of paranormal romance with a hint of a mystery that left me wanting more.

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: Into a Million Pieces
Author: Angela V. Cook
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 206
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Angela V. Cook

Author Angela V. Cook

About the Author
Angela V. Cook lives a very unexciting, but never boring, life with her husband and two children just outside of Detroit. Like most writers, she’s been making up stories for as long as she can remember and can’t imagine a life that doesn’t involve creating worlds.

Angela loves to write novels for teens because it’s the best outlet for her sarcastic personality, immature sense of humor, and love of romantic firsts. Her idea of the perfect day involves a quiet house, a good book, and a piece of cheesecake. Or two.

Where to Find Angela V. Cook
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | RAP
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YA Book Review + Giveaway – Where Dead Bodies Lie (The Body Dowser Series) by Kat Cazanav

Where Dead Bodies Lie Book Tour

Where Dead Bodies Lie (Body of Dowser #1) by Kat Cazanav

Where Dead Bodies Lie (Body of Dowser #1) by Kat Cazanav

Synopsis
For as long as I can remember, I have been told to follow three important rules;
Always guard my ability
Never share my secret
And pretend to be normal.

However, those three little rules don’t make my life easier. I still find dead people and deal with strange visions. Not to mention, an attraction to a boy who doesn’t exist. Whenever we cross path’s he mists away like smoke on a mirror. He drives me crazy, that Kaff Cooper.

As a flock of dead crows fall from the blackened sky, Kaff becomes the only one who can see the truth straight to the dark underbelly of who I actually am.

My hands feel the pull to extract the forsaken, the lost, the forgotten. It comes as naturally as breathing and there is no stopping it.

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My Review
I was intrigued by the premise of this book. The idea of a body dowser was too good to pass up. Stella has the ability to find water with nothing but her fingertips. Her father uses her ability to mine for gold, until Stella’s powers dredge up more –dead bodies and possibly something dark from another realm. The cave-in that follows kills her father and almost Stella herself.

Stella moves in with her Aunt Lily, who is barely an adult herself, but does her best to raise her young niece. Lily sends Stella to boarding school in Canada to give her an opportunity at a better education. There, Stella meets Kaff Cooper, who’s as mysterious as he is good-looking. Creepy things begin to happen in the small Canadian town, and everyone is pointing the finger at Stella.

Plot
The story starts off with a young Stella, then jumps forward to her freshman year where she first meets Kaff and unleashes her ability on a school field trip. She’s sent back home, being too weird for the exclusive school, and home schooled until her senior year. The school offers to expunge her record, giving her a chance at a full college scholarship, in exchange for three days of community service at the school.

The rest of the story unfolds over those three days and it’s a lot. Maybe two-thirds of the story take place over a short window of time. The story is almost exclusively plot-driven and it’s a busy, twisty plot. There are some things that didn’t make sense to me and others that seemed implausible, but for the most part, it’s a good, fast ride.

World Building
The world building is fantastic. Author, Kat Cazanav, paints a dark world that is as gloomy as the stunning cover of her book. Her settings come alive in intense fashion. The world of body dowsing is complex and sometimes confusing, but I think that’s okay, because the story is told in first person and the protagonist herself doesn’t seem to fully understand it all.

Characters
Stella is a unique character. She’s grim, brooding, and yet likeable, in a Tuesday Aadams sort of way. Kaff Cooper is the most intriguing character in the book. I never quite figured him out, but I want to. Kaff Cooper alone will get me to read the next book.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Where Dead Bodies Lie
1. The settings. The descriptive details the author uses paint a beautiful, dark picture that comes alive in stunning and sometimes terrifying ways.

2. Aunt Lily. Stella’s young aunt puts her life on hold to become a mother and you never doubt that she’s always got Stella’s best interests at heart.

3. Kaff Cooper. The boy is an enigma, but he can be sweet and he truly cares for Stella.

4. Body Dowsing. This was a really creative, unique twist on the paranormal.

5. Kaff’s Bedroom. When Stella breaks into his room to find out more about the mystery boy, what she discovers gave me the chills.

Bottom Line
Where Dead Bodies Lie is a unique twist on the young adult paranormal genre with interesting characters and plenty of plot twists.

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

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Title: Where Dead Bodies Lie
Series: The Body Dowser #1
Author: Kat Cazanav
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Pages: 245
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Author Kat Cazanav

Author Kat Cazanav

About the Author
I keep thinking I’m almost done writing this novel. Just one more chapter and I’ll let it go into my editor’s hands. Then something happens and I delay the inevitable; ending a relationship with a bunch of cool characters and saying good bye to a story that lived in my head forever. I use any excuse not to finish what I started nine months ago.

I have to pay bills, feed the dogs, feed myself (repeatedly) pick lint off my sweater, stare at the floor. The list goes on and on. But then I snap out of it. What am I thinking? Of course. I’ll turn it into a series. My characters will never die. I call my editor and give her a date. Now there’s no way out. I have to finish and set the story free. So this week I’m completing “The Body Dowser” with the hope all my readers enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Where to Find Kat Cazanav
Goodreads │ Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Giveaway
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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

Book Review – Redemption (Revelation Series) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Redemption Blog Tour

Redemption (Revelation #3) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Redemption (Revelation #3) by Randi Cooley Wilson

Synopsis
A LOVE RETURNS.

A LOYALTY IS BROKEN.

AND WAR BEGINS.

For Eve Collins, darkness has descended after her love vanished into the night sky. A new protector has been appointed, one who challenges everything she’s believed to true.

In this third installment of The Revelation Series, Eve will become aware of dangers and worlds that exist only in her nightmares and bloodline secrets that will trigger a centuries old war.

You can escape anything, except your destiny.

Readers captivated by Revelation and Restraint will become enthralled with Redemption.

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My Review
This is my favorite book in the series. So much happens that I almost couldn’t catch my breath. Almost. The author skillfully ensures that I could in fact catch my breath. But just barely, before she sent me careening off again.

Eve is adjusting to life without Asher, but not very well. Things go from bad to worse when she finds out who is now in charge of protecting her.  She’s thrust from one crazy adventure to the next with danger around every corner.

There are some bittersweet moments, including her reunion with Asher, but because this is the Revelation series, it’s only the calm before the storm. I love where Eve and Asher are relationship-wise in Redemption. And I love the themes woven throughout. The stakes are higher than ever this time around and Eve learns a devastating secret that changes everything.

Plot
As always, Randi Cooley Wilson plots like a fiend. So much happens, but I never lost sight of the story. The main plot is strong and the subplots wind through like tiny vines, enhancing the main plot rather than detracting from it.

World Building
This is where Redemption really shines. Everything from the world of Gargoyles to heaven and hell and everything in between (leprechauns anyone?) is richly detailed and thoroughly developed.

Characters
The characters are the same ones we know and love, with no new major characters introduced. I see some growth in a few characters, less in others. I’d like to see Eve do a little more growing up in the next book. In fact, I believe that’s exactly where she’s headed based on how things end.

Top Five Things I Love About  Redemption
1. Eve and Asher’s relationship. I love where it’s going.

2. Callan’s aprons. I mean, come on, they’re awesome!

3. The growing tension between Asher and Keegan. This has potential to building into a wicked conflict.

4. The Leprechauns. They’re not what you think.

5. The big revelation. No, I won’t give it away, but I kick myself for not seeing it coming.

Bottom Line
I love Redemption, with all of its twists and turns, passion, danger, and yes, even the cliffhanger ending.

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

About the Book
Title:
 Redemption
Series: Revelation #3
Author: Randi Cooley Wilson
Pages: 246
Release Date: December 15, 2014
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

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Author Randi Cooley Wilson

Author Randi Cooley Wilson

About the Author
Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years.

Randi and her husband recently moved back to Massachusetts with their daughter where she was encouraged to begin writing again.

Revelation is her first novel and The Revelations Series is her first New Adult Paranormal Romance book series.

“I’ve had a love affair with books, writing and storytelling since childhood. It has been a dream of mine to introduce this world and these characters to you. I hope I’ve done them justice.”

Randi loves to hear from readers, you can reach out to her via Twitter: R_CooleyWilson and/or Facebook: authorrandicooleywilson

Where to Find Randi Cooley Wilson
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
$25 GC to B&N or Amazon (winners choice) and a digital copy (Nook or Kindle, winners choice) of: Revelation, Restraint and Redemption by Randi Cooley Wilson

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

Apollyon (Covenant #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Apollyon (Covenant #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis
“History is on repeat, and things didn’t go so well the last time. “

Alexandria isn’t sure she’s going to make it to her eighteenth birthday–to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she’s a goner… and so is Aiden.

If that’s not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time “training”–which really is just Seth’s code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time–she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she’s caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed… and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate…

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My Review
So far, this is my favorite book in the series. It’s full of action, danger, romance, unconditional love, duty, responsibility, and conflicting emotions. Oh yeah, and lots of Greek Gods. With Alex having awakened as the Apollyon, she and Seth now have a duty to perform, but Seth and Lucien have different goals from the others. We finally learn who on the dark side is helping Seth and Lucien, and why Seth trusts Lucien so emphatically, even when the rest of us can see he’s no good.

I’ve always been a fan of Seth. Even when he seemed something other than ideal. But then I was always able to see in the good in Snape, too. So I’ll be thrilled if I’ve been right about Seth all along. And if my feelings about Ward from Agents of Shield can be proven accurate, I’ll be in a happy, happy place.

Plot
There’s less of a plot in Apollyon than in previous books in the series, because there is a lot more character development. Alex finally, finally begins to grow up and take responsibility for her actions. The relationship between Alex and Aiden intensifies in a positive way. He clearly loves her and that alone makes her more endearing. Because let’s face it, Aiden is perfect.

There are a few action scenes, but it’s more suspense that drives the story. You know something really ugly is about to happen, you just don’t know when or where. The big action scene at the climax is INTENSE, but really well done. And the ending is sweet, but perfectly sets up the last book in the series.

World Building
I love Armentrout’s world building. The way she weaves in Greek mythology with current day life is seamless and just unpredictable enough to keep us on our toes.

Characters
Characters is what JLA does best. She does a good job of creating such diverse personalities and keeping them true to themselves. Apollyon is no exception. As I mentioned above, Alex finally grows up a bit, Aiden is beautifully perfect, and we finally get a better understanding of Seth. One that only makes me root for him more. And without giving anything away, we get to “visit” with Caleb. Because as everyone knows, death is not the same in the world of Greek mythology as it is in reality.

Top Five Things I Love About  Apollyon
1. Alex and Aiden. Seriously, they are just so darn cute together.

2. Seth. Yes, I adore Seth. I know he’s got some sort of God-crazed power trip going on, but I suspect he will redeem himself.

3. The Big Action. Yes, that scene is tough to read, but man it’s just so good.

4. Character Development. I love Alex’s growth. It’s long overdue, but I it’s worth the wait. I think Alex had to go through everything she has in order to get to the point where she was ready to grow up.

5. Caleb. I missed him. I love that we get a glimpse into his afterlife.

Bottom Line
Apollyon is my favorite book in the Covenant series so far. Plenty of action, drama, and steamy Alex/Aiden time.

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Title: Apollyon
Series: Covenant Series #4
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 363
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – Twilight (Twilight Series) by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight Series) by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight Series) by Stephenie Meyer

Synopsis
About three things I was absolutely positive:

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

When Bella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

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My Review
I read Twilight a few years ago and just now getting around to reviewing it. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and I approached it with cautious optimism. I’d heard all the negativity as well as the over-the-top swoon-worthiness of it, but wanted to read it with an open mind. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t nearly as bad as all the bashers would have me believe, but I don’t think it came even close to hitting the romantic mark. I never really felt the chemistry between Bella and Edward. These two couldn’t be less perfect for each other. But where Twilight really shines is in the world building and in the action and suspense.

Plot
Clearly the main plot is the forbidden romance. Edward is attracted to Bella’s “special” blood in a way he’s never been before. But he’s sworn to protect humans, not kill them, so he attempts to stay far away from Bella. Bella has never seen a more beautiful boy (or bigger asshole if you ask me) and can’t help falling for him. She ultimately figures out his secret and the two begin a romance that is devoid of any heat, and not just because Edward is a cold-hearted undead vampire. There is zero passion between these two. But the other vampires hellbent on drinking the elixir that is Bella’s blood provide a page-turning subplot that far surpasses the romance, making this a compelling read.

World Building
The world building is one of the strongest aspects of Twilight. Stephenie Meyer has created a world of vampires with its own rules that sets it apart from others I’ve read in the genre. Her vampires don’t die in sunlight, the sparkle, hence their need to live in places like Forks that are perpetually overcast. Her depiction of the small Washington town has more charm than any of the characters who inhabit her story. I can totally picture the town, feel the cool air, almost smell the fresh pine.

Characters
While I didn’t connect with any of the characters, I can’t deny that they are well-developed. Bella might be annoying, but she’s multi-dimensional. I have less of a sense of who Edward is, but I believe that is intentional. He’s supposed to be an enigma. Bella’s relationship with her father develops through the story from awkward to something less than awkward which is believable for a teen daughter who’s lived with her mother before suddenly moving in with her small-town sheriff dad.

Top Five Things I Love About  Twilight
1. The World Building. Stephenie Meyer has her own view of vampires and it’s radically different from the world of Dracula. It’s a fun twist.

2. The Setting. Forks, Washington comes alive between the pages in vivid fashion.

3. The Adventure. The story of the vampires out for Bella’s blood and the events that follow are what kept me turning the pages.

4. Character Development. While I’m not necessarily a fan of the characters, I can appreciate that a lot of work went into developing them.

5. The Baseball Scene. Because it’s just plain fun.

Bottom Line
Twilight is actually pretty good. No, it’s not a good romance, but if you aren’t reading it for romance, it’s not a bad story.

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About the Book
Title:
 Twilight
Series: Twilight #1
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: September 6, 2006
Pages: 544
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – Save Me by Jenny Elliott

Save Me by Jenny Elliott

Save Me by Jenny Elliott

Synopsis
Debut-novelist Jenny Elliott’s thrilling romance, chosen by readers, writers, and publishers for the first list in the new Swoon Reads imprint, pours on the tension and danger in an addictive combination that will keep you turning pages!

Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

But then she learns something about David that changes everything, and Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft, and is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend….

Cara has lost her best friend, discovered that her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?

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My Review
Save Me is not your typical paranormal romance. This is a fresh take on the genre with a supernatural twist. Something dark and sinister is afoot in Liberty, a fictional town on the Oregon coast. Cara, a high school senior with a love of whales, volunteers part time for Liberty Charters, a whale watching tours business. While working a tour, she meets a cute newcomer to town when both are tossed overboard by a transient killer whale. Thus begins an intense romance that is doomed before it starts because David is completely off limits.

A second newcomer, Garren, provides a much-needed, albeit not romantic, distraction as she pines for David and watches her best friend, Rachel, become that girl. The one who ditches her best friend for her new boyfriend, Ethan. But there’s more to Ethan than meets the eye and Cara soon fears for her Rachel. Add to that a jealous girl with her sights set on David, more transient whale sightings, and things become mysteriously eerie.

Save Me takes a traditional, religious look at witchcraft and demon possession that is both creepy with shades of The Exorcist, as well as endearingly sweet. There is no overt horror, no strong language, and no sex, making this a safe choice for younger teens and even middle grade students who like their stories on the darker side.

Plot
The main plot revolves around the witchcraft and there are a lot of balls in the air, making it fun to try to figure out what’s going on. The subplots involving who Garren really is, Cara’s affection for Grayback and Bobbie, the local whales, and the romance with David all add lighter moments to the darker main plot. Author Jenny Elliott doles out the information we need, as we need it, to keep us in the story. She builds to a climax, weaving together all of her subplots into the main plot, and tying up all the loose ends in a satisfying conclusion.

World Building 
World building is where Save Me really shines. I can almost feel the briny ocean air, sense the cool sand beneath my toes, hear the waves crashing to shore through the descriptive settings, tone, and word choices the author makes. Liberty, Oregon comes alive inside the pages. The world of witchcraft, demon possession, and religious symbolism and rituals all have an air of authenticity, but are fueled by Elliott’s imagination. She’s clearly done her research, but allows her own creativity to influence the rules around the world she’s created.

Characters
Cara is mature for her age which keeps her from making so many of the impulsive teenage mistakes a lot of characters in this genre are famous for, and it’s refreshing. It also makes her relationship with David, who is a bit older, not only believable by understandable. It never seems implausible that a man four years older would be attracted to a teen girl because she’s intelligent, wise beyond her years, and caring.

The conflict between Cara and her mother over her relationship with David is realistic. David was also quite believable in his role as the forbidden love interest who tries so hard to do the right thing, despite his strong feelings for Cara. The romance between Cara and David is so sweet that it is a welcomed offset to the dark themes of witchcraft and demons. It’s like the perfect sweet and sour chicken – just enough of both to make a delicious blend.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About  Save Me
1. The descriptive details of Liberty, Oregon and the way the author makes the setting come alive.

2. The paranormal twist based on religion and witchcraft which is a refreshing departure from what I’ve read in this genre recently.

3. That cover! I mean it’s gorgeous and it fits the mood for the story so perfectly.

4. Cara’s devotion to her best friend, Rachel, and how determined she is to save her.

5. The underlying story of the whales that threads through the story, tying everything together and epitomizing the themes of good versus evil.

Bottom Line
Save Me is a fresh take on the paranormal romance that is both darker and lighter than many others in the genre.

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:
 Save Me
Author: Jenny Elliott
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Jenny Elliott

Author Jenny Elliott

About the Author
Jenny Elliott is a lifelong resident of Washington State and lives in Spokane with her husband and four kids.

Writing fiction is her favorite method for avoiding insanity. Other avoidance techniques include reading, playing Scrabble, and browsing social media sites.

Save Me is her first novel.

Where to Find Jenny Elliott
Goodreads | SwoonReads | Facebook | Twitter

YA Book Review – Tortured Souls (The Orion Circle) by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Tortured Souls (The Orion Circle #1) by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Tortured Souls (The Orion Circle #1) by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Synopsis
Sometimes Rest in Peace isn’t an option…

Kacie Ramsey sees ghosts—and it’s ruining her life. Her mother left, her father blames her, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t keep the ghosts away. Now a new power has emerged. Nightly visions of grisly murders and a relentless predator draw her to the brink of insanity.

When the phantom appears at a party, Kacie’s longtime crush, Logan, saves her. He invites her to join the Orion Circle, a group of supernatural hunters with chapters in schools all over the country. Through the Circle, Kacie learns to embrace her spiritual powers, and for the first time in her life she feels in control rather than a victim.

But the Foxblood Demon will not give up so easily. A demented serial killer in life who trapped the souls of the thirteen children he murdered, imprisoning them within the walls of his mansion. Now in death, he plots his return while drawing power from the pure souls of the children. He recognizes something in Kacie he’s never seen before—a medium powerful enough to provide a vessel for his tainted soul.

Kacie can’t ignore the tortured souls of the children crying out to her every night. With Logan at her side, she will fight the Foxblood Demon. But can they banish this powerful phantom, or will Kacie lose not only her body, but her eternal soul to the monster.

My Review
Kacie has an unusual gift that she’s kept hidden for most of her life. When she did try to confide in her family, it didn’t go so well. So when the guy she’s been crushing on not only suddenly shows an interest in her, but invites her to join the Orion Circle, the most exclusive club in school, things are about to get interesting.

Kacie learns that there are others with similar talents to hers and the Orion Circle are just one group of these. They use their abilities to investigate supernatural claims around town. Things go from interesting to dangerous pretty quickly as it appears dark demons are after Kacie.

The story moves, sometimes too quickly, not allowing me to catch a breather, and the relationship between Kacie and Logan is in that category. I felt like they jumped from mutually interested to full-on couplehood rather quickly. Logically, within the context of the story, it makes sense. They have a bond, but as a reader, I would have like to see this develop more naturally and at a slower pace.

Plot
This is a fast-paced story without a lot of subplots. As I mentioned above, there are times it feels like it moves too fast without giving the reader a chance to relax between the action. The plot isn’t necessarily ground-breaking either, but it is a solid paranormal tale with some interesting twists.

World Building
I’ve decided world building is my new favorite aspect of a story. When it’s well done, it transports me to a completely different place, even if the world is contemporary small-town America. But if I can picture the places where scenes take place, understand the social hierarchy of the subculture involved, I’m invested in the story. Tortured Souls has decent world building. Kimber Leigh Wheaton has developed a paranormal world with defined rules for interaction that is logical and flows well within the story.

Characters
Kacie is the only character I really felt like I knew. Even Logan is a bit of an enigma to me. The other members of the Orion Circle are more shallowly defined than I would like. That said, this is a plot-driven story and the plot holds up, even with a less-developed supporting cast.

Bottom Line
I enjoyed Tortured Souls. It’s a good paranormal adventure with enough romance to satisfy teen readers (and adults).

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

About the Book
Title
: Tortured Souls
Series: The Orion Circle #1
Author: Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Publisher: Sea Dragon Press
Pages: 227
Category: Young Adult Paranormal
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton

About the Author
Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a bestselling YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance.

She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs, four cats, and lots of dragons. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals.

Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, video games, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!)

She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states.

Where to Find Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon