Monday, November 13, 2017

Shadow Rise by Audrey Grey

Wow! I just finished reading this book and have two disappointments: the first is that this is again a book 2 and I haven't read book 1 and the second is that I'm going to have to wait for book 3.

This is a great story full of revenge, rebellion and moments of romance. If you liked the Hunger Games series, the Divergent series or the Graceling series, then you are likely to fall in love with the cast of characters from the Shadow Fall series.

Like I mentioned before, this is yet again a story that I am reading in the middle of the series. I was able to read book 2, Shadow Rise, as a stand alone. Mrs. Grey provided enough prior moments from the first book to help me understand the context of the story. And yet, I could tell that I was missing some of the defining moments. I plan on reading the first book to help me catch up and in preparation of her eventual third book. There were moments that would most likely have been heart wrenching for readers of her first book and I escaped some of those as I had not formed previous attachments to the characters.

The central figure of this book is Maia Greystone. She has faced odds that none of us would relish. She was orphaned by the murder of her father and the removal of her mother. She was forced to abandon her younger brother in the hopes of protecting him. She was placed in a trial of some gruesome nature (more details must be in the first book). She was groomed to infiltrate the enemy and assassinate the leader. All the while, she is trying to figure out how to fulfill a promise she made to her father. She has been thrust into a position where she is trusted by neither side in a terrible war.

She must face a former friend, ally and love that seems to either disdain her or does not remember her. She must face her brother, whose view of events differ vastly from hers. She must find a way to save the world through a promise she made to her father.

She is joined by an unlikely crew of rebels: a beautiful young woman, labeled a subversive because she loves another woman; a crippled Lothario, who wants nothing more than to be given a chance to prove he is still able despite his injury; a former friend, who is plagued by an addiction to the drug tar; and others she collects along the way.

Through it all, Maia's strength of character shines through. There are moments when I had hoped she would take the easy way, but I was so glad when she chose the more difficult path of purpose or honor.

This is a great, clean read. There is no profanity and no explicit scenes. The focus is on a strong female character and a cast of unexpected friends. There are sci-fi, revenge, rebellion, fighting, and coming of age elements.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Scion of the Fox by S. M. Beiko

Scion of the Fox is a very interesting story. I was given an advanced copy in May in return for my honest feedback. (disclaimer: my copy had an abundance of editing errors, I am hoping they get ironed out before the release)

Roan is just trying to lead a normal teenage life. Unfortunately, there are forces at work that refuse to let her have what she wants. Her parents were killed when she was young. From around the same time, she has had an eye problem that causes her to wear a patch and cover her face with her hair.

Without revealing too much, the world was originally governed by five animal families. Each family was connected to life in a different way. Owl was wisdom; Seal was water; Deer was spirit; Rabbit was earth; and Fox was fire. These families worked together to maintain balance. However, there are also dark forces that they must contend with, one of which if the Moth Queen, harbinger of death.

Roan finds herself a key piece of the puzzle in all of this balance between good and evil; light and dark. She must not sway from the path created for her or the recourse is death.

I really enjoyed this book despite the editing errors. I think any fan of the fantasy genre would enjoy this new and engaging tale.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Just Maybe by Crystal Walton

Just Maybe is a great, clean, contemporary work of fiction. This is the third book in the Home in You series. I saw an underlying theme of redemption in this book. Both Quinn and Cooper have to face redemption in their own lives and I think that they are their own biggest stumbling blocks.

Quinn is a journalist for a struggling magazine. She wants nothing more than to land the big story that will prove she is worthy of the editor's position so that she can revitalize the magazine and protect her jobs of her co-workers. She is assigned the impossible task of getting an interview with Cooper Anderson, the Top Entrepreneur of the Year, a man who refuses all interviews. In fact, he despises journalists.

Through a misunderstanding, Quinn finds herself in a position to get the story she needs but under false pretenses. Cooper begins to see Quinn as indispensable. Quinn quickly discovers that returning to her home town is much more difficult than expected.

The hardest part for me was reading about the character with Alzheimer's. I lost my grandma to dementia far sooner than we lost her to death. It is such a painful experience to watch a loved one start to forget. I definitely experienced my share of some of the moments of confusion and the moments of lucidity. 

Despite the painful moments, I really enjoyed reading Quinn and Cooper's story. Sometimes, I was cheering them on and at others I wanted to shake some sense into them. This is a great story full of poignant glimpses, missed opportunities, confrontations and redemption.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A New Shade of Summer by Nicole Deese

Nicole Deese never fails to create a story that draws me in. A New Shade of Summer is a continuation of the Love in Lenox series; the third in the series. It could be read as a stand alone, but would definitely have some spoilers for book 2.

Davis is a strong and level guy, maybe even no fuss. His most recent relationship did not end the way he had hoped. He, in turn, has devoted his time and energy to his veterinary practice. Davis's son, once an amazing student, is making bad choices at school.

Callie comes breezing into town in a worn down vehicle. She intends to stay with her sister while working on a mural project in town. She is shocked to find out that her sister's perfect world isn't as perfect as she always thought. 

Through an unfortunate misunderstanding, Callie and Davis start off on the wrong foot. She braves the rift when a dog is injured and Davis is the only one in town that can help.

Throughout the story, it is Davis's patience and kindness that really got me. Offsetting his calm, is Callie, a force of nature and color. I loved watching the story unfold. They had friends on their side, I think Shep was my favorite. They also had others who were working against them. 

If you are looking for a modern romance with a clean story line and realistic characters, this is the author for you. Don't miss this opposites attract summer romance!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Begin Again by Crystal Walton

When I started reading Begin Again, it felt a lot like the first book. Drew was the reserved one trying to overcome past hurts while trying to save his father's heritage and Ti was the one pushing his boundaries. There was even the spunky senior, Grandma Jo.

However, the more I got into the book, the more I realized that it was its own story. I think that I love this one even more than Write Me Home. I could hear the New York sass pour out of Ti. She was be choice a superficial person, so that she could hide all the deep hurts started by her parents and perpetuated by every male relationship that followed; until Drew.

Drew reminds me of my husband. Someone who is thoughtful about his approach to life. He analysis and processes how to take care of the people in his life. Drew demonstrates a love and patience that is not often found. Despite the cost to himself, he continues to deliver what he feels the other person needs. He isn't perfect and some of his responses are quick and selfish. For those he loves, it is a steady love.

Ti battles issues of sexual abuse, forgiveness, belonging and love. While other characters also tackle neglect and love. Faith played a stronger role, as you will see characters battling with their understanding of a loving God.

This was definitely my kind of story and I am eager to read the next story, Just Maybe.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Write Me Home by Crystal Walton

Write Me Home centers around a run down summer camp. Cassidy is intent on repairing the damage to the facility so that she can sell the camp. The money from the sell of the camp will go to paying off the lien on her mother's business, which also contains her residence. She is unpleasantly surprised by some of the challenges she faces. One of them is a man named Ethan.

Ethan has spent the last several years as far away from his hometown as possible. He is burdened by his past and everyone in that small town knows his story. Yet, his grandmother's health draws him back. In an attempt to salvage his grandmother's pride, he makes a business deal with Cassidy that allows him to stay at the camp. Close enough to help his grandmother without making her feel like he was taking over.

It's hard not to fall in love with Ethan and Cassidy right away. Ethan turns out to be a hard working handyman who lends his strength and presence to all the projects at Cassidy's camp. There are many roadblocks that get in their way. I found myself rooting for my favorite characters every time the odds were against them.

I just finished reading Write Me Home and am a first time reader of Crystal Walton. This contemporary fiction is well written. I loved the clean romance and elements of mystery. There are elements of faith present, but not in a pushy way.  The characters were well thought. They have layers and personal flaws that make them feel like someone you might know. They struggle with issues that many people face. My favorite part of any book is an uplifting ending and Write Me Home didn't disappoint. It is always a good indication when I am sad that a story ended and thrilled that the next book is already written.   If you enjoy a good contemporary story, you should definitely read this one.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloan

This book has been compared to Twilight, a series I deliberately avoided. I still don't know how I feel about the comparison. I also tend to stay away from the werewolf section of fantasy, but this book is heavily saturated with werewolves. Despite all it had against it, I did enjoy reading this story.

Eden has been moved from place to place and never truly fit in. She moves again her senior year and her only goals are to finish with good grades and stay unnoticed. She doesn't realize it, but her goal of staying unnoticed flies out the door the moment that Noah sees her. There is an instant connection between the two. There are also some surprises waiting for Eden as she is soon to discover that her new friends are, in fact, werewolves.

This was a clean read. Anyone who is a fan of young adult fantasy would most likely enjoy this story.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen

This book really challenged me to change my perceptions of Trolls. Two images come to mind when I think of trolls: the little dolls that were popular when my mother was young and again when I was young,
and then this guy ------>

Neither one of these trolls would be my idea of something beautiful. However, from the beginning of the story, the author asked me to think of trolls as beautiful creatures. She described them as

The story is technically a prequel, but is suggested by the author as the third book to read in the series. The order is as follows: 1. Stolen Songbird, 2. Hidden Huntress, 3. The Broken Ones, and 4. Warrior Witch. To see more of her reasoning, visit her comment on Goodreads. I read it as a stand alone before seeing the suggested reading order.

The setting is Trollus, a cursed land that the inhabitants cannot leave. They rely on the magic of the King to protect them from an avalanche of stone. Even so, the King is somewhat of a tyrant. He sends half-bloods and humans to the labyrinth, a certain death, for not meeting quotas in the mines. Only those with magic are worthy. Years in partial imprisonment has led to inbreeding and an affliction of iron poisoning. Bonding to an iron poisoned Troll can lead to death for both bonded partners. Amongst all of these concerns, emerges the prince, Tristan, who opposes his fathers position on those who are not full-blooded Trolls. He enlists the help of his friends to begin and sustain a resistance movement.

Two of his friends are the voice of this novel. Marc and Penelope alternate perspectives. More than anything this is the story of Marc.

This was a clean read but does contain basic information regarding premarital sex, pregnancy, miscarriages, death, physical and mental abuse, and insubordination. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, was surprised by the unique elements, and plan on reading the other stories in this series. This would be a great story for anyone who loves fantasy and are willing to give trolls a chance.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Rise of the Dawnstar by Farah Oomerbhoy

This was a pleasant surprise. I have not read the first book in the series, The Last of The Firedrakes, but I definitely plan to now. The author provided enough connection to the first story that I was not completely lost in the events that led to this book. The beginning was a little slow for me, but the pace definitely picked up and proved exciting. I appreciate that the romance element was clean and that it took a backseat to the elements of fantasy and adventure.

Aurora must set out on a journey to her grandmother's kingdom, the only place that she will find safety. While there, she must also learn about her heritage and improve her skills with her fae abilities. She is met with animosity and resistance, as she is not a full fae, instead she is half mage and in danger from the very people with which she seek refuge.

This is a dazzling coming of age story full of intrigue and politics. I think fans of the Fantasy genre will greatly enjoy this story.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Hidden Legacy by Christine Rees

I really enjoyed reading this story full of teens with para-normal abilities. It reminded me of X-Men in a way. Faye is an outcast at her school but gets a new start when she moves to her Grandmother's house in Astoria, Oregon. She has to navigate a new school while trying to keep her abilities hidden. Unfortunately, she has a premonition of someone's death. Even more unfortunate, that person is the first person she meets at her new school. Faye finds a place for herself at the new school, only to find out that someone is searching for her and does not have good intentions.

Some might find the story predictable, but I do not feel like it diminished the quality of the story. I enjoyed the twists that were thrown in and was surprised once or twice by the author. I feel like she was able to capture the feel of high school without making it overly juvenile. The author provided a suspenseful tone that kept me engaged. She also answered enough of my questions before she ended with a cliffhanger. This was a clean read. I look forward to reading the next chapters of Faye's story.

The Unseen by Jacob Devlin

If you are a fan of fractured fairytales or the show Once Upon a Time, The Unseen is a book you would enjoy. Set in both the Old World and the New World, Alice, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio try to rescue their children who have been pulled through a mirror. The children are on their own quest to reunite with their parents. They must battle the forces of the Red Hearts and the Ivory Queen. Love is lost and found, friendships are tested and battles are won and lost. I would suggest reading the first book, as I was a little lost at first, although you can read it as a stand alone. There is also a book #1.5 called The Ivory Queen.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Windrunner's Daughter by Bryony Pearce

I really enjoyed reading this story. It is set in the future after Earth dies and the human population has settled on Mars. They have worked together to create a habitable atmosphere on Mars, but saboteurs destroyed much of the work and set progress back greatly. The humans live in several biospheres spread out among the Martian landscape. Each biosphere has a certain function for the community as a whole. One engineers seeds, while another houses scientists that work on replicating, another creates hybrid animals from DNA and others work on various other projects. At each biosphere, there lives a group of messengers called Runners. The humans have lived in these conditions for several generations. Their goal, always working toward a sustainable living environment, is impeded by dissension and sickness. Wren is a girl and must adhere to societal rules that say she can only contribute by either marrying a Runner and maintaining one of their outposts or by producing offspring for the baby exchange, a way to prevent problems from inbreeding. Wren is left alone with her mother as the men in the family are off on Runner's business. When her mother is taken ill, she is left with the decision to stay and tend her mother, possibly watching her die, or to reject societies mold they have set for her and try to find help.

I loved the attention to detail that was afforded to the dynamics of flight for the Runners. I was scared of the creatures and still have several ideas in my head about what they are. I was so invested in Wren's story, the decisions she would make and their outcomes, that I would have read this story in one sitting, but I had to go to work. This is a great book for young and old alike. There are realistic consequences to each choice made and there is a love story that is fitting but doesn't take center stage. I only wish there was a sequel.