Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Deliverance by C.J. Redwine

Deliverance by C.J. Redwine
Book Three of the Defiance series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everything hangs in the balance, and nothing is certain: Rachel has been kidnapped by enemy forces and is being taken to Rowansmark while Logan, imprisoned and awaiting trial, is unable to leave Lankenshire. Separated from each other and their Baalboden comrades, each must find a way to achieve what they desperately want: to rid their world once and for all of the Commander and the tech that controls the deadly Cursed One.

Fighting through her pain and embracing the warrior she’s become, Rachel will do whatever it takes to escape her enemies’ clutches and join Logan in his fight. But when she learns a secret that changes everything, she realizes that escaping Ian and his tracker friends is no longer an option if she wants to save the people she loves. Instead, she’ll have to destroy Rowansmark from the inside out—if she can survive the journey through the Wasteland.

Logan needs allies if he wants to thwart Rowansmark’s power grab and rescue Rachel. But securing allies will mean betraying his beliefs and enlisting the help of the man he hates more than anyone: Commander Jason Chase. Driven by his fierce love for Rachel and his determination to make their world safe, Logan may be just the weapon the city-states need to defeat the Cursed One.

But as Rowansmark bears down and uneasy alliances are tested, will Rachel and Logan’s love for each other be enough to surmount the unbelievable odds against them?

What I Liked:

Wow. Just... wow. This book was incredible. I was speechless, when I finished. There was no way I could write my review minutes, hours, almost days after reading it. You know that feeling when a book is so powerful, it resonates within you? Like watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and reaching the end, and you're swept away, caught up in the moment, the very powerful moment. That was how I felt, after finishing this book. I knew, I just knew, after reading the description of the first book, reading about the author, seeing its cover, reading it, reading book two, reading book three... that this would be one of my favorite fantasy series. A powerful, remarkable one, at that.

Rachel has been taken by Ian, who is dragging her to Rowansmark. There, James Rowan will punish her for not turning over the device. Logan has been imprisoned in Lankenshire. He pleads his case with the officials of Lankenshire, and forms uneasy alliances with Lankenshire, and the Commander. Logan and his group travel from city-state to city-state, building an army to defeat James Rowan and Rowansmark. But the journey isn't easy for Logan, or Rachel. Trackers, tanniyn, betrayals, secrets, and failures stand in the way of being reunited and and seeking justice.

For once, I wasn't scared to read this one. I have a problem with conclusion novels, just like I have a problem with sequels. Sequels often have cliffhanger endings (like this one, with Rachel being taken by Ian, and Logan being captured in Lankenshire), so that makes the third book really tense and frightening to read. What if everything DOESN'T work out?! What if they never make it back to each other?! What if everyone dies!? The struggle is real.

But Redwine has a way of weaving a tale without making readers go crazy. Or maybe I was actually going insane, but in a controlled chaos kind of way. I just KNEW that Logan and Rachel would find their way back to each other. Even if it took nearly the entire book. 

Even if both of them were basically in pieces by the end.

I promised myself I wouldn't peek at the ending of the book, and I didn't. I'm not in the habit of doing that (gosh, what an awful way to ruin a book! You have absolutely no context whatsoever!), but I was so tempted! But I didn't. The storytelling of this book is SO well-done. It's like there's another story within the series in this one book. Redwine is a natural storyteller, so it was easy not to peek at the ending. I wanted to keep reading and reading, not skip ahead.

And to be honest, a lot happens in this book. It's nearly five hundred pages, but it never FEELS that way. This book feels like a TV show or something, in my opinion - meaning, it's highly engrossing and keeps your attention. Also, the descriptions are extremely vivid. Or maybe my imagination is highly active. But I could totally SEE this book happening, in my mind. I love the Redwine didn't just drag us through the mud. Rachel is struggling to escape, trying to stay alive, dodging Ian's temper and vengeance. It's literally life or death for her - if she wasn't wanted alive in Rowansmark, Ian would have killed her. And Logan - all of the unstable alliances that he has to make are tested. His decisions about the tech are constantly questioned. And he often questions himself, if he's doing the right thing by leaving Rachel to rescue herself, essentially.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was Rachel's character development. I really liked her in book one, though I did think she was irrational and impulsive. In book two, she was extremely emotional, unstable, and bent on exacting her revenge on the Commander. I liked this raw side to her, but I wasn't a fan of what I thought was wallowing. In this book, Rachel is tested so much, in terms of survival. There is no room for feeling sorry for herself, or being in shock, or making excuses, or giving up. She has to save herself, and she has to help Logan destroy Rowansmark and the Commander. I LOVE that she wasn't all like, why isn't Logan coming for me, I'm more important than the whole world!? No, Rachel took matters into her own hands, and made decisions to protect herself. Her character development has been carefully spun throughout the three books. Redwine did this masterfully.

The same can be said about Logan. Logan is fiercely protective, always has been. But by the third book, he no longer has the one goal of protecting Jared's daughter. Protecting his people, his family, his girl, his life, holds much more significance. I love that Logan realizes that it's okay to be unsure, to be imperfect, to not always know. 

The cast of supporting characters is wonderful! I especially like how much page-time Willow gets. I'm not sure if I liked her or not in the other books, but I REALLY liked her in this book. Same with Quinn. Frankie, Smithson, Nola, Adam... I even felt for the Commander, and Ian. It's amazing how you'll feel, so conflicted, when you get to know the villains of a story. Because to the villains, they are the heroes of their own story.

The romance - like I said, Logan and Rachel aren't physically together until the last fifth of the book. However, that doesn't mean that the romance, the love, the depth of their relationship isn't present throughout the book. I love that Redwine didn't focus on the physical nature of Logan and Rachel's relationship - though I wish there could have been a little more. I did want more scenes with Logan and Rachel. However, I do see why Redwine made the choices that she did, with the romance.

This is an extremely powerful novel, in many aspects. I love how this book focuses so much on choices, plans, survival, pain, healing. Rachel learns that revenge isn't everything. Logan understands that not be able to save everyone, or plan for everything, or shoulder all the burdens, doesn't make him a horrible leader. The implications of this book are so powerful and noteworthy. I wish anyone and everyone could read this book (series), to understand what I mean about pain and healing and overcoming.

I didn't really mention the world-building or the fantasy aspect because chances are, I covered that in book one or book two's reviews. But I guess I kind of had an epiphany in this book - this story is post-apocalyptic, so it happens on Earth, in our contemporary world, after a disaster. So it is fantasy, but post-apocalyptic. Neat!

Basically... I think this book is awesome. The series in general. Fantasy is my favorite genre, so naturally, I'm very hard on fantasy series. This one is amazing! Go read. *shoos* 

What I Did Not Like:

Hmmm... I mentioned that I wanted more scenes between Logan and Rachel - and I'm not necessarily referring to the romance aspect. Their relationship is very solid, despite how much they've endured, and I wanted to just see them interact more. I don't think I'm explaining what I wanted very well... but maybe you understand what I'm saying.

Other than that, I'm doing the "feeling" thing with this one, not the "calculating", and it's a four-star read from me. No good reason, it just *feels* that way. Actually, 4.5 stars, but Goodreads and Amazon and Barnes & Noble don't do half stars.

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! If you've read the first two books, fear not, weary (hopefully not too weary) traveler! The third book does not disappoint. If you've only read the first book, it's totally worth your time and feels to read the second book and third book. Of the three, I think the second book is my "least favorite" - if such exists in this series. I LOVED the first book, really really enjoyed the third, and seriously liked the second book. That's my order of things.

And if you haven't started the series at all... you should fix that. Definitely binge-read the series, now that the series is (almost) over!


4.5 stars. Technically, I'm leaving it at 4.5 stars and not rounding down to 4 stars. A satisfying and thrilling conclusion to a stunning series! I cannot wait to read Redwine's next books. If all of her books are so beautifully, brokenly written, laced with power and infused with pain and endurance, then I'm all about that!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Swoon Thursday (#79): Deliverance by C.J. Redwine

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Deliverance by C.J. Redwine!

(From Logan's POV)

"We do. But not tonight. Tonight, I have other things to worry about." I lean down and kiss her again, keeping my hands gentle as I hold her, though there's nothing gentle about the way she holds on to me. "Tonight, I have you."

"You said I don't worry you." She traces my jaw with her lips.

"You don't." I'm breathing too fast. Or too slow. I can't tell, but my chest is tight and my pulse is racing, and I'm underwater again. If this is how it feel to drown, I can't wait to suck the water into my lungs and let it take me.

"You said I consume you." Her lips find the pulse on my neck and press while my heart hammers inside my chest.

"You do." My voice is rough.

"Prove it."

I smile as I hear the challenge in her voice, and then, as the moon drifts across the sky above us, I dedicate myself to the task of kissing Rachel until she runs out of air, and we drown together.

- ARC, pages 417-418

Read my review HERE.

What an excellent end to a fabulous series! Definitely one of my favorite YA series of all time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#83): Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock
Book Three of the Hemlock series
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 6, 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ever since Mac's best friend, Amy, was murdered, Hemlock has been a dangerous place. But now that Mac, her boyfriend, Kyle, and Amy's ex, Jason, have investigated a mass breakout from Thornhill, a werewolf "rehabilitation" camp, the danger has only grown. Fear of the infection spreading is now at an all-time high, and anyone with a scar is suspected of being a wolf.

What makes Mac even more afraid, though, are the dark experiments that the warden of Thornhill was performing on wolves in a secret asylum called Willowgrove. Uncovering the truth about what happened may be the only way for Mac to save everyone she loves and end her nightmares for good.

Another series ending! Read my review of book two, Thornhill, if you're interested (I wasn't reviewing and blogging when I read Hemlock, but you can see my Goodreads rating and note).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Welcome to the Magnolia blog tour! I am soooo excited to be a part of this tour! I loved Cook's debut series, and I loved this standalone novel even more! Be sure to check out my super glowy review, and enter to the giveaway!

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Official Summary:

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn't exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

What I Liked:

AHHH, I ENJOYED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!! I had a feeling that I would, because several things from the synopsis called to me, but it's so wonderful when something you think will be awesome actually IS awesome! Really awesome! YAY!

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden don't like each other very much. Their families have been waiting for two generations in each family to line up. The families are the opposite of the Montagues and the Capulets - the Caffertys and the Mardsens LOVE each other, because one ancestor saved the other, during the Civil War. So Ryder's family and Jemma's family keep pushing Ryder and Jemma together. But Jemma has Ryder all figured out, and Ryder is chasing after her cousin, Rosie, anyway. But when a freak hurricane sweeps through Mississippi, stranding Jemma and Ryder in Jemma's house, things don't necessarily change - they become clearer.

There are so many things I would like to share with you all about this book! First, let me tell you how much I loveeee books that feature a romance in which the protagonists hate each other and then fall in love. That's not *quite* the case in this novel (I'll explain later), but it mostly is, and I LOVE IT. The tension, you all, it is palpable! Cook did a really great job of developing this type of romance. I seriously need more books with romances like these! If you know of any, please tell me!!

I also loveeee that this book is set in the Deep South. You didn't find too many of these books in YA these days, set in the Deep South. South, yes - Florida, sure. Texas, even. But not necessarily states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia. The South is veryyyy different from the good old North, Mid-Atlantic, New England, West, etc. Personally, I've lived in Baltimore for forever, so I'm happy to see a setting in the Deep South. That's diversity too!

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ROMANCE!! This book is Romeo and Juliet backwards - meaning, the families aren't feuding, they're totally best friends, and WANT their children to date, go to school together, get married, etc. There are a lot of great Romeo and Juliet parallels in this book, like the first letters of the first names and last names, a sort-of balcony scene, Rosie, etc. 

The thing is, over the years, Ryder has found that he really does like Jemma Cafferty. And Jemma has found that she really does like Ryder Marsden. But one night changed everything, when Jemma overheard Ryder saying things about her. Now, Jemma is determined to stay away from Ryder. And Ryder - well, Jemma is sure that he is just an arrogant, smug, stuck-up player who doesn't miss a chance to aggravate her. 

So as you can see, it's not quite hate-at-first-sight-then-love, because the two of them liked each other a lot at first... then grew apart. I LOVE THIS. Jemma kisses some other guy, Patrick, and then goes out with him a few times. This shakes things up, upsetting Jemma's mother, and making Ryder... jealous? Maybeeee.

Then the hurricane happens. I'm neither a fan nor a hater of crazy natural disasters that throw the protagonists together. This one served well though, especially since a hurricane isn't too uncommon in the Gulf south (not like here in Baltimore). I loved every moment of Ryder and Jemma, stuck in that house, in the storage, in the bedroom. The tension was thick enough to cut open! Jemma never really "got over" her feelings for Ryder - in fact, they may or may not have developed more, especially with that hurricane.

All the wonderful alone time due to the hurricane is amazing. Ryder and Jemma's relationship blossoms on the romance side, without becoming too cliche or overwhelming. And the aftermath of the hurricane is perfect, strained, awkward, and perfect.

There is more to this book than the romance. Jemma and Ryder are seniors, and both are expected to go to state schools. Ryder is an amazingggg quarterback, so he could get his choice of any division 1 school, it seems. Jemma is a cheerleader with excellent grades, so it's expected of her to basically go to a state school, and still cheer on Ryder (on the sidelines or in the stands). But Jemma has always had the dream of making films, and she wants to go to NYU for film school. But her parents are like, no, state schools only. I like that this is such a huge deal, because it totally makes sense. Moving allllll the way to a huge, mass-populated city is a big deal of anyone in this quaint town.

Also, something really significant happens with Jemma's older sister, Nan. This isn't a spoiler because you have no idea what happens! I promise it's probably not what you think. But it's huge, and takes up a lot of Jemma's thoughts. Her parents put her college application process on hold, because of Nan's situation (which makes sense, but really, it's the perfect excuse for them to say no, we're not going to consider letting you apply to NYU). 

So it's not just all about the romance. BUT THE ROMANCE IS AWESOME. I just *knew* I would enjoy this book, but I LOVED it! I'm so glad I pushed myself to be on this tour, to read this book! 

What I Did Not Like:

Perhaps everything ended a little *too* perfectly? I wasn't too bothered by this, but this is something I would usually note. So, you are warned. Happy endings are, well, happy. Not a bad thing, necessarily.

Would I Recommend It:

YES, YES I WOULD!! I loved this book a lot, and as someone who isn't the biggest fan of contemporary romance novels, that's impressive. I've pushed myself to read more contemporary romance novels this year though, but I've been really picky. So far, so good! This is just one more that I really enjoyed!


4 stars. A lovely standalone novel! I love books with hate-turned-into-love romances - if you know of more, let me know! This one certainly featured an awesome one. And much more!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

About the Author:

As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

That’s the official version–here are some other fun facts:

~ As an undergrad, I majored in History and minored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, I was a member of Phi Mu sorority, and I was a Dixie Darling. And yep, Brett Favre was our quarterback at the time!

~ I studied American History in grad school at Columbia University. I *love* history, especially the Civil War era (U.S.) and Regency- and Edwardian-era British history.

~ My all-time favorite book *and* movie is GONE WITH THE WIND. My favorite literary characters are Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, and Mr. Darcy. I kind of want to add Peeta Mellark to that list!

~Weirdly enough (or maybe not so weirdly?) I’m also a big fan of STAR TREK (the original series). I never can remember if I’m supposed to call myself a “Trekkie” or a “Trekker,” though!

The Giveaway:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn

Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead, and who looks at Marie-Thérèse as if she can see all of her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye.

What I Liked:

Oh, the French Revolution. I LOVE historical fiction, and I especially love the time period of the French Revolution! There is a neat "Bad Romance" parody describing the Revolution, if you're interested. My tenth grade World History teacher always shared it with her World History classes. It's a really good one!

Marie-Thérèse is the French princess of this time. She lives in complete contentment with her father, mother, little brother, and friend Ernestine. She and Ernestine have eerily similar physical features... which always them to swap places. Ernestine becomes the princess for the day, and Marie-Thérèse runs around the palace, enjoying freedom she wouldn't as a princess. One day, Marie-Thérèse decides to leave the palace. Soon, she sees what France REALLY is - a poor country, its citizens starving, destitute, and calling for revolution. Marie-Thérèse stays with Henri, a kind boy who takes pity on her, and Madame Grosholtz, a woman who models faces and sculptures of wax - among other things. The country's situation deteriorates, and the royal family is captured. Marie-Thérèse doesn't want to flee when her family and Ernestine will be killed...

This book is super short, but A LOT of time goes by. It takes us from Marie-Thérèse's childhood all the way through the French Revolution, I believe. Because it's pretty strictly historical fiction, in which it's historically based on a time in France's history, we know what's going to happen to France, to the royal family, etc. But I enjoyed the ride. 

I love the vividness of the scenes in this book. Weyn has really brought to life the realness of what was the French Revolution, the starvation, the poverty, the guillotine. The luster of the palace and Versailles and the royalty was easy to imagine. The writing style of this book is pretty awesome, and the imagery is even better. I was impressed!

Even though I'm very familiar with the French Revolution, I was still hooked on the story, and couldn't wait to see what happened next. Especially with the paranormal aspect - I kept wanting to know how that would factor into the book (see below). Knowing the outcome didn't ruin the journey for me!

There is a touch of romance - it's not very subtle, because you know it's Henri and Marie-Thérèse, as soon as Henri is introduced. But it's not insta-love, because they don't "get together" until late in the novel. Nevertheless, the romance isn't overpowering or dominant, which was nice.

Overall, I liked this book. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, so I couldn't say no, when I saw this one. 

What I Did Not Like:

This book is getting three stars (versus four or five) for several reasons. For one, I was heavily disappointed by the promised paranormal aspect of the book. Oh, it's there. We know Madame Grosholtz and Rose is up to something. But it was disappointing, once we get to know what it was. I was like, that's it? That's all? And its influence of the story... wasn't all that awesome. I was expecting so much more, in terms of the faces of the dead, the death masks, the "magic", etc. The author just didn't deliver!

That being said, I found the ending to be rushed and hasty. The ending is dependent on the paranormal aspect, as it changes things for Marie-Thérèse. I kind of rolled my eyes at the end, because OF COURSE xyz thing would happen (no spoilers here). And OF COURSE this one thing with Henri would happen too, at the very end. I spoil things, but while I was happy with the ending, I wasn't necessarily satisfied. Everything ended... too perfectly and merrily. In the actual French Revolution, that wasn't the case. But this is fiction, of course.

Would I Recommend It:

I would recommend you read this book if you already have it, or were already interested in it. If you've never heard of it, or the author, then it's totally fine to keep going on with your life and pretend you never read this review or saw this book. 


3 stars. I'm happy that I had the chances to read this book! Hopefully future novels by this author will be just as impressive, in terms of the imagery, and maybe fleshed out, in terms of the plot and things.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Welcome to the promo tour for the third and final book in Susan Dennard's steampunk, zombie trilogy, hosted by Itching for Books! I'm honored to help promote such an awesome author. Check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Book Three of the Something Strange & Deadly series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

About the Author:

Susan Dennard is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. Strange and Ever After is the conclusion to her trilogy, which includes A Darkness Strange and Lovely and Something Strange and Deadly. Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.

The Complete Series


a-dawn-most-wicked-a-something-strange-and-deadly-novella something-strange-and-deadly a-darkness-strange-and-lovely strange-and-ever-after


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: The Arrow by Monica McCarty

The Arrow by Monica McCarty
Book Nine of the Highland Guard series
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

As King Robert the Bruce of Scotland plots to retake his English occupied castles, he needs the stealth and skill of his elite soldiers, the Highland Guard. Fearless and indomitable, no men are more loyal to their king, or cherished by the women they love.

The talents of legendary marksman Gregor “Arrow” MacGregor are crucial now, as Bruce moves to reclaim his Scottish holdings. Gregor is considered the most handsome man in Scotland, and his fame as an archer is rivaled only by his reputation with the lasses as a heartbreaker. But when his infamous face is exposed during a covert mission, Gregor is forced to lay low. He returns home only to find a new battle waiting: a daring game of seduction involving his now very grown up and very desirable ward, Cate of Lochmaben.

A born fighter, Cate was clinging to life when Gregor rescued her after a vicious English raid on her village left her mother dead. But five years later, the once scrappy orphan Gregor took under his protection has become a woman. Brave, strong, and skilled in warfare, Cate is determined to lay claim to the warrior who refuses to be trapped. The heat in his eyes tells her she has his attention . . . and his desire. But will Gregor allow his heart to surrender before danger finds them, and the truth of Cate’s identity is revealed?

What I Liked:

First - thank GOODNESS they changed the cover. This new one is MUCH better than the first one. If haven't seen the original cover, be glad you didn't. It wasn't that great. Ab-licious, but not that great, aesthetically. I'm loving this guy's biceps. Arms are seriously important for "The Arrow" - Gregor, the skilled archer of the Phantoms.

Gregor saved Cait when she was fifteen and trapped in a well. She was hiding after seeing her mother brutally raped and murdered by a lord that she has been trying to locate for the past five years. At twenty, she's still in love with the man that saved her, even more so than before. When he returns home for a break, she is determined to show him how she feels, and that he feels the same way about her. But Gregor doesn't want to do wrong by his ward. He feels very strongly towards her, but love? It would be easier to rid himself of her wonderfully distracting self, and marry her off. But more is at stake - Gregor's identity as a Phantom may have been compromised, and the man that killed Cait's mother may be after Cait - and Gregor.

I really, really wanted to enjoy this book. Of all of the Phantoms, the Arrow is probably my favorite. I totally have a thing for archers, especially pretty ones. Blond hair, over-muscled, roguish attitude, arrogant - and an archer. Gregor is a perfect mix of the "best" qualities of a Scottish warrior. I had only read two of the eight books published in this series (before this one), but I was highly anticipating this one, because The Arrow is supposed to unattainable, impossible to ensnare. I just knew his love story would be epic.

Well, it wasn't. You already gathered that I really liked Gregor - I do. He doesn't trust women, and for good reason. Because he's so good-looking, women throw themselves at him all the time, and while he doesn't mind the, um, company (so to speak), he could never trust one to care about them, or more. I love his confident but cautious nature. I also love his perfect physical being, but that's neither hear nor there.

I also really enjoyed the story of this book, minus the romance. Of course, the romance and the story are intertwined, but I really liked how McCarty wove a story into the romance, and an interesting, surprise-filled one at that. I didn't see one of the twists at the end coming. Genius! 

I love this series, guys. I've only read three of the nine, but I really enjoyed books seven and eight, and was really excited for book none (the Arrow)! But now, read on.

What I Did Not Like:

I. Hate. Cait. Love how that rhymes. Hate her. Hate hate hate. When I have a problem with the heroine (ESPECIALLY in historical romance novels), I'll very much likely have a problem with the book overall. And I do not like Cait. 

She's overbearing, bossy, and annoying, and not in a "cute" way, as Gregor and others see her. Gregor took her in when she was fifteen, taking her off the battlefield, away from hurt and ruin. Years later, Cait takes it upon herself to "borrow"/invite in four random "orphans" (they're not orphans, they have families), and surprise Gregor with four new "children". Literally, she says, he's your father, you're their father, the children are yours. She even believes that biologically, they could be!

Right then, from the start, I knew that I would hate her. How dare she dump four children on her guardian's lap, like it's his job to take care of children that he's never seen before, that aren't his responsibility, that HAVE FAMILIES?! And she - she's not even his daughter or sister or cousin - how could she try his patience with her, when he doesn't even owe HER anything?!

It gets worse and worse with her, honestly. Her indolence and stupidity are ridiculous. Apparently she's strong and courageous and clever and intelligent - I saw none of that. I saw a coward, who forces children into a man's hands. I saw a fool, who forced a man to notice her, just like all of the other women were trying to do, always. I saw an idiot, whose feelings were hurt even though it was HER FAULT that Gregor walked away from her - SHE broke his trust. SHE knew what she was doing, trying to "trap" him, which is basically what all of the other women were trying to do. How was he supposed to know that she really loved him? As readers, we see it from her perspective, but looking at things without her perspective, she seems just like a brazen, irritating hussy, trying to catch a handsome, powerful lord.

Hate hate hate her. Sooo much. 

Honestly, I hated the back-and-forth in this book. Gregor realizes that he indeed loves Cait about 50% into the book, which is totally fine by me. But then things get to be like a see-saw. Cait does something to try Gregor's trust, Gregor thinks the worst, they make up. Gregor misinterprets a situation, Cait does nothing to disprove it, HER feelings are hurt (God only knows why, since it's HER fault), his heart is broken, life sucks. Back and forth and back and forth. 

Not the way I like my romance.

Basically, I hated Cait, and I really didn't like the romance. The male protagonist and the actual story were great, but not enough to save this one. This book was definitely a disappointment, since I expected so much more for Gregor. I expected his love story to be amazinggggggggg. Like, who could this girl be, that slays the dragon (so to speak). No one remarkable, apparently. I expected better, but Cait made me want to vomit everywhere, honestly.

Would I Recommend It:

Hmmm. Read it if you're loving the series, but seriously drop your standards and expect a pile of poo. I'm being totally serious and straight-faced right now. And no offense or disrespect to the author, publisher, etc. But readers, you might enjoy this book more if you weren't super excited to read it and expected little to nothing. I know, it's hard, because we're all like OMG GREGOR'S STORY, GREGOR'S STORY, THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD.

Get that out of your head right now, and you *might* enjoy this book. Enjoy Gregor, at least. He is magnificent!


2 stars. I'm so disappointed... but I still want to keep up with this series. And I still want to read the first SIX books of the series (must find timeeee). I seriously hope this wasn't the last book in the series? The epilogue kind of made it sound like it is... that would me so sad. Why end on such a horrible note? Sadness.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#83)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, July 20th to Saturday, July 26th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Thank you, Harper! I have two ARCs of The Perilous Sea - well, that's a problem, isn't it? In any case, expect reviews of these two in August!

For the Blog Tour:

I'm honored to be on the blog tour! I was on the blog tour for the first book, Gilded, and really enjoyed the book. Excited for Silvern!

Last full week of July, yo! It was a great week, even better than last week. There wasn't anything too special about this week, but there wasn't anything horrible about it... which was great :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Book One of the Pivot Point series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC won from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

What I Liked:

Well, after months and months - actually, years - of pushing this book off, I've finally read Kasie West's debut novel! I got this book in December 2012 (I actually won it from Jennifer, so, thank you, Jennifer!). I kind of saw a spoiler about the ending, and that ruined the book for me. A year and a half later, my friend Pili insisted that I read this book, as my "Pili-Pushed" book recommendation of the month. Guess what, you all? I LOVED THIS BOOK!!

I think it was the motivation from reading and loving one of West's other books that really solidified my intentions of reading this book once and for all. As many of you know, I read my first West book - On the Fence - and really loved it. I have no doubt that I will enjoy Split Second and The Distance Between Us, now that I've really enjoyed two of West's four published books.

Addie has the ability to Search decisions in her future. She can explore the two paths of that decision in the future, and then choose which path is favorable to her. Like, whether or not to turn down Bobby's invitation to the dance. Or... which parent to live with, when they decide that they need to get a divorce. With Mom, who is staying inside the Compound (for paranormals), or with Dad, who is leaving the Compound to live in the Norm world. So, Addie decides to Search her future of both paths. This book is entirely that - a flip-flop between one path and the other.

At first, I was confused. The very beginning is present time, in which Addie's parents tell her that they're getting a divorce. Addie's friend Laila convinces Addie to Search her future, and Addie does so, for six weeks in the future. This book alternates between Addie's life with her mother (in the Compound), and her life with father (outside of the Compound). Each chapter alternates between the two different paths.

There are two paths, two parents, two lives, two boys... I actually really liked this type of hypothetical story. This entire book is hypothetical, and Addie must choose a path, once her six weeks in the future is over (for the real world, real time, it's like, five minutes of a Search). I liked the alternating chapters. I ESPECIALLY loved seeing the paths getting closer and closer... until they finally intersected. Of course, one path couldn't directly overlap and leak over. But it was so cool to see one scene in two different paths.

I love how West weaves a good story and mystery in this book. It isn't just about what Addie's life will be in each path. Addie must assimilate to the human world in one path, or get used to being a golden-buy, footballer's girlfriend in another. But there is something eerie about both futures. Something doesn't add up, and it's not just the football. Trust me, you'll get it when you read the book.

In the path with Addie living with her mother, Addie develops a relationship with Duke, the Compound's star quarterback, and eventually, they start dating. The very first scene of the book features Duke. Duke is persistent and patient, terrible and hilarious. I liked him from cover to cover, despite some things that should have made me hate him.

In the path with Addie living with her father, Addie develops a friendship with Trevor, a former quarterback for the high school Addie attends. They develop feelings for each other, but Addie pushes them down, knowing that she can't tell Trevor who she really is, that she can't really be herself with him. Living in the human world is a really difficult adjustment for Addie, and she almost blows her cover many times. Anyway. I really liked Trevor. His relationship with Addie seemed more real to me, than Duke's relationship with Addie.

And I like Addie. She's a lot like me, or we're a lot like each other, whatever. I guess that makes me a too-good girl, which is fine. Maybe hot quarterbacks will drool over me and my wonderfully good self. Actually, I'm hoping it will be sexy center forwards. Or any soccer player, for that matter. Anyway.

I really liked the world-building in this book. We get life in the Compound, we get life in the human world. West does an EXCELLENT job of showing us how different life in the human world is for Addie. Things like door keys and contact lenses are weird for her (in the Compound, doors open because a scanner scans your retinas, and no one has imperfect vision, so no need for contact lenses). 

So I'm really excited to read the next book! This book ended with Addie coming out of the Search, and choosing a path... I won't tell you which path she chose. The six weeks that Addie lived in the Search ARE included in this book too, but since we already know what happened in that path, West doesn't repeat it all. It's the epilogue, which was smart. Now, book two! I want to read about the aftermath!

What I Did Not Like:

Usually, I would say the love triangle, because there IS one girl and two guys interested in the one girl... but there really isn't a love triangle. I won't say anymore. But remember, this is coming from the girl who HATES love triangles. 

I can't think of any other dislikes. I can't think of any, period. 

Would I Recommend It:

I would most definitely recommend this book! If you've read any of West's books, then you KNOW. If you haven't read any, read ALL OF THEM. You won't regret it. This one is paranormal - it reminded me a lot of Natalie Whipple's Transparent (although, Transparent came out after Pivot Point. I read Transparent first though.), with the girl having superhuman abilities and living in the "real" world. This is a great paranormal novel!


4 stars. I really should have read this book sooner, and not paid attention to what I read about the ending! Of course, what I read was true, but I shouldn't have let it ruin the book for me. Check out my review of book two, Split Second, next Friday (August 1st)!

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