Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review: Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton

Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Raucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic’s all part of student life on Embassy Row.

Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country.

Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington.

The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?

What I Liked:

This book was more enjoyable than I expected! Then again, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I remember trying Ashton's debut novel and not being able to get through it. I recently read My Lady Jane (co-written with two other authors) and liked it. I wanted to give Diplomatic Immunity a chance because it looked like cute contemporary and it was a standalone. I'm glad I gave this book a chance!

Piper Baird wants to be a journalist, and she's very good at being one. She has applied for a scholarship to the prestigious Chiswick Academy for the last three years. Finally, at the start of her senior year, she gets the scholarship. But Chiswick is completely different from her public high school. Chiswick is full of rich, privileged kids, children of international politicians and diplomats who have diplomatic immunity, a free pass to bad behavior. Piper really wants to win the Bennington scholarship offered by Chiswick, but the competition for the scholarship is fierce. She'll have to rite a juicy story that no one can write. But to do so, she'll have to hone in on one of the diplomatic immunity kids - Rafael Amador, the hot Spaniard who has a penchant for making mischief and trouble and being spontaneous. But there is more to Rafael than his bad boy status, and as Piper discovers this, she finds it harder and harder to publisher her scandalous story.

I totally felt for Piper, from start to finish. Her family is on the low end of middle class, and eventually, they reach the point of food stamps and bankruptcy. There was a time when they were richer... but that time was years ago. The only way Piper can follow her dreams of going to Columbia next year is to get a scholarship. The Bennington is a great scholarship, but she needs to get into Chiswick first. Piper is entirely focused on the Bennington (once she gets into Chiswick), and being a cutthroat journalist is exactly how she plans on winning the Bennington.

She doesn't plan on Rafael Amador though. On her first day at Chiswick, he saves her from an already embarrassing situation. Piper recognizes his insane hotness, but she also recognizes the massive amount of privilege he has. Diplomatic immunity covers his butt for everything - and Rafael takes advantage. There is nothing bad that he won't do - like climbing national monuments, or setting off the school's fire alarm to get out.

I personally thought Piper was justified in her disdain for all the rich, privileged students at the school. She definitely had some resentment for them at first, which I could relate to. But as she got to know more of them (especially Rafael), her attitude changed. She mostly hung out with other scholarship kids at Chiswick, but you could see her gradual change in attitude towards the diplomatic immunity kids.

Rafael... what a swoony dreamboat. Honestly he seemed a little too perfect, a little too bad-boy bad, but I really liked him. I've always liked Spaniard hotties, and it wasn't hard to fall for this particular one. He liked hearing Piper's opinion on the students at Chiswick, and how privileged he was. Rafael is totally unconcerned with rules and laws - or so it seems. But there is more to him, and I liked seeing behind the walls. 

The romance in this book is fairly slow-burn, and all of the musy-gushy crush feelings come first. It's cute, watching Piper fall for Rafael. At first I thought Rafael was hanging around Piper because she was a challenge, but it became clear that he really liked her. I love slow-burn romances, and a love a good girl/bad boy romance, so the combination was fantastic. The only thing that would have made it better was a slow-burn, good girl/bad boy, hate-to-love romance. A trifecta of romance awesomeness!

But still, the romance was cute. During half the book, Piper is in denial about her feelings for Rafael. Around three-fourths in, both of them hash it out. I liked the dates and the crazy outings and the warm and fuzzies I got, during the whole book.

No love triangle. Piper goes on a "date" with another boy, but literally nothing happened, and she wasn't interested in him at any point, really. It was all Rafael, physically and emotionally and such!

As mentioned, Piper begins writing her big story for the Bennington scholarship on the diplomatic immunity kids, including Rafael. So you can imagine how that goes... girl starts hanging out with boy to get dirt on him, but ends up falling for him... how is that going to end? I was so nervous about the ending, because Piper's story could end up ruining Rafael's life. But the ending was a happy one, if a little abrupt (see below), and I could get behind it since this is a standalone. The evolution of Piper's story was interesting, and a little heartbreaking too.

Did I mention that this book is hilarious? The humor is so on point. I had several good belly laughs while reading, which is actually pretty rare for me. Somehow, books don't get too many extreme reactions from me (belly laughs, crying, etc.). The mild ones (giggling, irritation, etc.), sure.

So I liked this book! It's the first solo book I've read by Ashton (I do not count Everneath), and it turned out to be great. If she keeps 

What I Did Not Like:

The ending is a little abrupt. I wanted to see more development in the ending! Why did Rafael choose to do this? Where did Samuel go? How did Piper's parents get by? I wasn't satisfied with the ending. It felt too neat and tidy. I loved that it was a HEA, but again, too neat and tidy.

Would I Recommend It:

I liked this book and I would recommend it, if you like cute contemporary! The romance is cute and there isn't too much drama, until the climax. The big climax scene at the end is as painful as you expect it would be, but the ending makes up for it (mostly -- see above). But this was a great standalone and well worth the time!


4 stars. I wasn't sold on Ashton's debut series, but I liked her co-written book and I liked this one. I may read more books by Ashton if they're anything like this one! Standalones are a wonderful thing. And I'm not usually a YA contemporary person, but this one was pretty great!

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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#188)

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 24th to Saturday, July 30th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Thank you, Macmillan! You can see my review HERE (hehehe).

I loved this book! Thank you, Tor. 

Unsolicited from Harper - thank you! I can't wait to read it.

Various swag

Another swag trade! Thank you, Flo. =)

I won this from Novel Novice's blogoversary - thank you, Sara!

From Edelweiss:

YAY! A new book by Katharine Ashe! I can't wait to read this one.

And that's that! This week had its highs and lows, and ultimately I'm really glad it's the weekend. Time to catch up on sleep!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Copy borrowed

Summary (from Goodreads):

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. 

What I Liked:

I've had this book on my TBR for a long time, but never pushed myself to read it. A loooong time ago, I read Shiver and Linger by this author, but didn't like Linger so I never finished the series. I haven't read her Raven Cycle series either, though I do want to binge-read that series in the future. The Scorpio Races seemed like a good place to try again, since it's a standalone, and my good friend Pili read it recently and liked it a lot. So, I'm counting this as my July Pili-Pushed novel!

The Scorpio Races happen on the island every year. Every year, riders choose a water horse, train for a month, and race. Puck Connolly lives with her older brother and younger brother, getting by meagerly. When Gabe (her older brother) tells them he's leaving the island, Puck decides to enter the Races, something no female has ever done. Sean Kendrick has won the Races four times. But winning isn't what he cares about - he loves the ocean and the horse he rides, Corr. But both he and Corr are owned and have no freedom. Freedom is what Sean wants, and this year's Races might be the way to get it.

This book is told in alternating first-person POVs, so we get to experience both Sean and Puck's thoughts and feelings. I liked both perspectives a lot, which doesn't typically happen with me! Another thing that I liked about the narrative was the length of the chapters - the chapters were fairly short. Usually you find fifteen to twenty page chapters in YA books? These chapters were three or four pages long, most of the time. Which I thought was very different and cool!

I liked Puck - or Kate, though she prefers Puck. She's learned to take care of herself and her brothers long ago, after her parents were killed by the ferocious water horses. When Puck enters herself in the Races, she enters her horse, Dove, who isn't a water horse. There are so many complexities to Puck that I liked discovering and figuring out.

If Puck was complex, then Sean was a maze of intricacies. Sean is a man of few (no) words, and yet his presence is enormous. He's a four-time Champion, but he's also something of a water horse whisperer. No one can train the beasts and keep them under control like Sean. Sean works for Malvern's stables, who practically owns him. Sean seems to only have one weakness - Corr, the blood-red stallion that is Malvern's, that Benjamin Malvern lets Sean ride every year.

The pair meet after Puck decides to ride in the Races. Many people of the island do not want Puck anywhere near the Races. It is Sean that sways the people to let her sign up, and Sean that gives her tips about the Races, and Sean that helps her and her horse train. 

In a way, this book was completely about the Races, and yet not about the Races at all. It's about Puck's growth from a directionless girl to a stubborn rider who fights for what she wants. It's about Sean's fight for his freedom and his horse, both of which are more important to him than the Races. Sean's journey was more interesting to me, and more heartbreaking. 

Sean is the brooding, mysterious boy that everyone is curious about, that everyone loves and everyone stares at. He's the one that everyone knows and is in awe of. Puck is the girl that no one wants in the Races, the poor girl whose house is about to be taken away. I love this story of two unlikely characters finding their way.

So there is romance, a subtle and barely-there type. This book takes place over the course of a month or so, but it doesn't feel that way (it feels like days). It felt like Puck and Sean barely knew each other, but they trained together a lot, and days blurred together. I liked seeing the subtle romance, though it felt a little too barely-there at times.

The Races themselves happened in the last twenty pages or so, so it felt like it was over before it began. But like I said, the Races were both everything and nothing in this story. The Races were short but heart-stopping, and the outcome was both unsurprising and shocking.

Overall, I liked the book. I do have some complaints, but I can see the appeal of this book. Books centered around horses typically aren't my thing, but I enjoyed this one!

What I Did Not Like:

I kept hearing about the beautiful romance in this book, and so I think I had pretty high expectations... the romance is subtle and slow-moving, and it's barely there... I guess I was expecting fireworks? So I was a tiny bit disappointed. But hey, those were my high expectations, not the book/author's fault.

The pacing of this book is soooooooo slow. Like, incredibly so. The first one hundred pages of this book were so so so boring. The writing of this book is great but it really adds to the slowness in the beginning. Once I started getting into the Puck/Sean interactions, I started to get more invested in the story. But this book moves very slowly, in pacing.

In terms of actual time, it's very deceptive. I think at least a month passes, but it honestly felt like a week or two. I don't think the author did the best job of conveying the passing of time. But that could be just me!

Would I Recommend It:

If you've been a part of the YA world of literature, I'm sure you've heard of this book, or at the very least, this author. I can see why people love this book, and why there is so much hype surrounding the author. I did like this book and I would recommend the book if you're like me and had been wanting to read it - it's worth it, if you were already curious! 

But if you weren't really curious... meh. To me, it was magical and life-changing like I expected. Part of me expected epic action (I saw somewhere that someone compared this book to The Hunger Games? HOW?!), and while I wasn't disappointed that there wasn't any, I wasn't particularly thrilled with the really slow pace of the book. Again, this wasn't magical and life-changing for me. It was good, but not amaaaazing.


3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I enjoyed this book and am glad I finally made myself read it! It was worth sating my curiosity. I can't see myself rereading it for any reason, or singing its praises from the rooftops, but I do see why so many people flipped out (in a good way!) over how awesome they thought the book was.

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Swoon Thursday (#183): The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas

- 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 The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas!

We stand in front of each other, staring... and our rage changes into something else. I breathe out shakily and shrug off the goose bumps, watching as his eyes fall to my lips before quickly flicking back up to meet my gaze. Fire crackles between our bodies.

I try to straighten my thoughts, but I don't get the time that I need to analyze it all. Jake's coming at me fast grabbing me and slamming his lips to mine. I feel like all the pressure bursts out of me, the stress and confusion going with it. His kiss is primal and unforgiving, his hard body forcing itself against my front. I whimper, accepting his power, grabbing at his shoulders while we explore each other's mouths, hungry and desperate. My hands move to his hair, the pleasure wracking me, making my knees weak. I start to wobble, holding onto him to keep from falling out of his strong arms.

- eARC, 37%

I really enjoyed this book! This is Jake and Camille's first kiss, and it's a pretty explosive scene. ;)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#187): Returned by Kimberley Griffiths Little

"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:

Returned by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Book Three of the Forbidden series
Publisher: Harpercollins
Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Official Summary:

She thought she was done fighting. . .

After tragedy strikes on the day they were to wed, Jayden must support Kadesh as he ascends the throne and becomes king of Sariba. But with the dark priestess Aliyah conspiring to control the crown and turn his own people against him, Kadesh’s status as king is at stake.

And then Horeb, the jealous ruler of Jayden’s tribe, and Jayden’s former betrothed, appears at the gates of Sariba. Horeb has amassed a desert army to take back everything that Jayden has worked so hard to protect. And he’s willing to ally with Aliyah and use her dark magic to destroy the kingdom and all of Kadesh’s people. 

Jayden knows that the time to be merciful has come and gone, and that some enemies can only be halted by death. In this gorgeous and heart-pounding conclusion to Kimberley Griffith Little’s epic desert trilogy, Jayden and Kadesh must prepare to fight not only for their love, but also for their kingdom and everything they know to be good.

Check out the series:


This series is one of my favorites! I love desert fantasies. If you haven't seen it already, there is a giveaway for sets of the trilogy. Click on the banner below! (Thank you, Nick!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas

The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

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

Summary (from Goodreads):

People think they have Camille Logan nailed: daddy's girl; beautiful, spoiled young woman with her father's bank balance to fund her lifestyle. But Camille is determined to have a life free from his strings. Out on her own, she's made mistakes, including one that found her clawing her way back after a stint in rehab and plenty of bad press. Now, after fighting so hard to be independent and happy, she finds her life threatened as a result of her father's ruthless business dealings. Caught between resentment and fear, Camille prepares herself for the measures her father will take to protect her. But nothing could prepare her for the ex-SAS sniper who crashes into her life.

Jake Sharp resides in his own personal hell. He was distracted from duty once before, and the consequences were devastating--both personally and professionally. He vowed never to let that happen again. Accepting the job of bodyguard to Camille Logan isn't the kind of distraction from his demons he should take. Women and Jake don't mix well, yet protecting the heiress seems the lesser of two evils. But Jake soon discovers that she isn't the woman she's perceived to be. She's warm, compassionate, her presence settling, and his duty to protect her soon goes deeper than a well-paid job, no matter how hard he fights it. He needs absolution. He comes to need Camille. But he knows he can't have both.

What I Liked:

This is the first book I've read by JEM, who I've seen is very popular in the UK (she's British). I picked this one on a whim. I'd never heard of the author or book, but I really liked the cover, and I LOVE bodyguard stories. This book seemed perfect for me - and it was pretty great!

Jake Sharp is an ex-SAS sniper, dangerous and lethal and very good at what he does. He's currently working at a security firm, and his next assignment is to protect and shadow a rich daddy's girl 24/7. Camille Logan is exactly the type of woman Jake likes to avoid. But Jake has her pegged all wrong. She isn't pompous and self-centered and fake; she's stubborn and sweet and independent, and she fights for every inch of freedom that her father allows her. Jake has been living in darkness for four years, and Camille is his sun. In this standalone novel, the bodyguard and the protected become something more - but what happens when secrets are uncovered and lines are blurred?

This book, to me, is all about Jake. Camille has her own past and demons, but they are nothing compared to Jake's history. He served in the army, which alone is enough to haunt a man. But his personal life took a rough turn, and he became distracted while serving, and he was discharged. His work at the security firm is his purpose and his drive, and a flouncy heiress isn't going to distract him. Right? 

Wrong. Camille worms his way past his shields without even trying. I liked Camille - she wasn't prissy and snobby and selfish like I expected. Her father has her under lockdown even before the bodyguard. At first, Camille hates the idea of Jake following her everywhere, all the time. But she's also ridiculously attracted to him. And eventually she decided that she wants to puzzle him out. Who hurt him? What haunts him so badly? I liked how much Camille grew to care about and for Jake. It isn't easy, to be with someone with PTSD and with so many skeletons in the closet. But Camille is definitely the right person for Jake.

Jake... he's tortured by his past. Yet he is driven and focused, and very good at his job. He has a quiet yet large presence, an alpha swagger and air about him. And he is 100% alpha male, which I loved (obviously). This man is fiiiiine and while he has his issues, I liked seeing him work through them.

The romance is slow-burn, although the attraction was lust-at-first-sight (this almost never bothers me, and I was fine with it). This relationship is somewhat hate-to-love, which is quite possibly my favorite romance trope. Malpas writes this romance well, with very steamy scenes balanced with emotional ones.

Major plus to this book for having a great female friendship. Camille and Heather are hilarious, and a little crazy, and very supportive. There are subtle scenes that show how much each woman cares about the other and has the other's back. I only wish Jake had a male friend to rival this friendship!

This book has two stories, in a way. The primary story is dealing with the threats against Camille, which is why Jake was hired in the first place. Something about the threats don't add up, and something about Camille's father makes Jake suspicious. This plot was interesting, and the end was a good reveal, though not too surprising. The second plot is Jake's emotional journey, and how he overcame four years of pain and anger. The ending is surprising, but there is so much healing involved, and I thought the reveal about Jake's big secrets was well written.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. I'm interested in reading more of Malpas's books in the future, though I do hope this book is truly a standalone. It wraps up really well and stands on its own perfectly. Jake and Camille are sizzling together, and their story is wonderful.

What I Did Not Like:

Part of Jake's big secret irritated me, and that's because That Thing is something I generally HATE in romance books. Secret _____ really bother me. However, while I didn't like the surprise, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I kind of liked it, but I still didn't want it in this story.

Some of the dialogue and phrasing was so strange! For example, exclamation marks where there really should have been period, and phrases that seemed too blunt and out-of-place for the tone of that scene. The author is British, so it's possible that I'm just too used to American-written romance novels that have different nuances in writing. But those dialogue and phrasing really threw me off.

Would I Recommend It:

I liked this book - it's not a new favorite, but it was well-written (except those weird phrasing, but I think that's just me being American and the author being British) and very enjoyable. It took me by surprise, as I had no expectations. I savored this book as I read it, which I don't do often! So, short answer would be yes, I recommend it. It's not a must-read, but it's a good one! 

Also, if you think you have an idea of what That Thing is (that I mentioned above), and it's something that you don't like in romance novels either, please (privately) ask me about it! I'd hate for someone to read this book and absolutely hate it because of that aspect. And really, it wasn't even that bad! *vague Alyssa is vague*


4 stars. If you enjoy bodyguard/protected woman stories, then this one is for you! It's a great example of that kind of story. I was a tiny bit worried about how everything would work out in the end, but the author handles the ending well. Nothing cliche here! 

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

Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens: July 26th

Welcome to Week Thirty of Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens! To see more details about Sweet Talk as well as previous posts, see the introduction post. Thanks to Charlene (Bookish Whimsy), for designing the banner and button for Sweet Talk.

Today, I'm featuring the authors and books publishing during the week of July 26th!

The Questions:

1. Describe your debut novel in sixteen words.
2. Pitch your book! For fans of _____, _____ meets _____, etc.
3. What are you working on now – is it related to your debut novel?

The Authors:

Sonya Mukherjee, Author of Gemini

1. Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins struggle to reconcile their wildly differing life plans and love interests.

2. For fans of contemporary YA who like their identity crises with a dash of sarcasm, a dollop of romance, and no easy answers.

3. It's a story about a teen girl who's grown up in an isolated group with a very unusual belief system. It's not related to Gemini.

Follow Sonya Mukherjee: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

The Book:

(Click on the cover to go to Goodreads!)

Other Sweet Sixteens Books Publishing This Week:

(Click on the cover to go to Goodreads!)

The Giveaway:

- Learning to Swear in America swag
- The Season swag
- The Killer in Me swag
- Gemini swag

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

Welcome to the blog tour for The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey! Today I'll be sharing my review of this sequel novel. Plus, there is a giveaway!

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey
Book Two of The Girl at Midnight series
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Official Summary:

Everything in Echo's life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she's already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature--or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what's left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour. 

What I Liked:

I've read exactly two reviews for this book, both from bloggers that I trust and respect. One was a two-star review, one was a 3.5/4-star review. The two-star review was really helpful because a lot of the issues that the blogger had were issues that I could see myself having. And while I definitely took issue with some of those aspects, I felt prepared for them, thanks to that review. I liked this book, though I didn't love it, especially compared to The Girl at Midnight

In this sequel, Echo has to embrace her true nature as the firebird. She's left behind the Nest, the Avicenlings, Rowan (he's the "boyfriend" mentioned in the synopsis). But with Caius, Jasper, Dorian, Ivy, and the help of a warlock, Echo must fight the shadowy darkness that was awoken when she unleashed her firebird power. The new Dragon Prince (Caius's sister) is hunting for the firebird, but something even more sinister as well. Echo could be the salvation of her loved ones - or their destruction.

I liked Echo in this book, though I think I liked her more in The Girl at Midnight. We get to see more into her past, as her fears, and it's sad to see. I think Echo needed to voice her opinion at key times and use her presence and charisma. Everyone likes Echo and thinks she's clever, and Echo does make some good decisions in this book. Overall, I liked Echo, but maybe not as much as I could have.

Caius, I adore. He is easily my favorite character in this book. I know many people love Jasper, but Caius is such a sweetie. He's a quiet alpha male, especially having been the powerful Dragon Prince for a hundred years or so. In this book, Caius is a constant, solid presence to Echo, offering strength and issuing orders when needed. He lets her be, and never tries to control her. This is important because there is a relationship budding there, AND Echo is the firebird (which is what Caius was hunting for quite some time). It's clear that Caius would follow Echo to the ends of the earth. I also loved seeing Caius's devotion to his dragon people, and even his crazy sister.

The other primary characters in this book were cool, and definitely lovable. Jasper is so cheeky and charming, and Dorian is adorable with his blushing self. Ivy has really blossomed into a strong, brave girl, though she always was. I'm really rooting for her, more than ever!

The romance... well, I didn't love it. See more on it below. But I'm 99% sure that Caius and Echo are endgame. I LOVE the Dorian/Jasper romance, which was the main romantic focus of this book (and not as much Caius/Echo). Jasper and Dorian are adorable! They have a slow-burn relationship, which was sweet to watch develop.

This story unfolded beautifully, with a good balance of action and feels. I was never bored, and I zipped through this book really quickly (yay!). I didn't find it as magical as The Girl at Midnight, but it was definitely a worthy sequel. The plot thickens when Echo and Caius understand what the shadows really are, and what Tanith (the current Dragon Prince) plans to do. High stakes here!

The ending is a horribly mean cliffhanger (more on that below), but Grey has guaranteed that I will be reading The Savage Dawn. Ugh, I need it!

What I Did Not Like:

I hate to say it, but the love triangle is back. I thought it was done for, by the end of The Girl at Midnight. But as you can see, the synopsis of this book lists a "boyfriend", and it's not Caius. At one point in the book, Rowan calls Echo his girlfriend... in front of Caius (he was also speaking to Caius). Caius knew that Echo and Rowan were close, but he didn't know that they were like that. And Echo doesn't correct Rowan.

THIS is where I thought Echo should have spoken up and used her words. In her inner monologue, you can clearly see that she dreads seeing Rowan, talking to him, and the girlfriend/boyfriend thing seems wrong to her. But she doesn't correct Rowan. When they talk, she doesn't specifically tell him that she doesn't love him like that anymore. Echo doesn't use her words, even though she CLEARLY knows her mind, and it frustrated me.

The love triangle is frustrating, because of that, but also because it's just annoying. Rowan is annoying. He acts like a child. Caius... I really felt for him. Every time Rowan and Echo were in the same room, after Rowan called Echo his girlfriend, Caius would distance himself and become like stone. He rationalized to himself that he didn't deserve Echo and that Rowan did. 

Rowan is extremely terrible to Caius, so even if I were #TeamRowan (clearly I am not), I would be furious at his behavior towards Caius. Really, the man is helping you. 

The ending of this book leads me to believe that Caius/Echo is endgame, but I thought that about the ending of The Girl at Midnight, so I don't know. I really hope Rowan ends up being a casualty in the end of The Savage Dawn (there is always at least one main character killed off at the end of the series). Sorry not sorry!

Oh and the ending is a ridiculous and horrible cliffhanger, in case you wanted to know. Maybe binge-read the series, or the last two books if you've read The Girl at Midnight. I hate cliffhangers.

Would I Recommend It:

Yes, I recommend this book in the long run, but in the short run, no. The love triangle is irritating (it's like an annoying fly that keeps returning), the cliffhanger is cruel, and this book doesn't feel quite as captivating as The Girl at Midnight. Basically it doesn't go through sequel slump, but it isn't a omg-must-read-next-big-thing sequel. 


3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. Good, entertaining, but not without flaws. I did like this book and I am liking this series, but I guess I wish I knew the outcome because the journey is a little painful in some areas. It's an intriguing fantasy series with some really cool characters, and would probably be a fun series to binge-read in the future!

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About the Author:

Melissa Grey was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn't stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn more about Melissa, visit and follow @meligrey on Twitter.

Check out The Girl at Midnight:

(Click on the cover to go to Goodreads!)

Praise for The Girl at Midnight:

"Grey’s energetic debut offers a strong protagonist…[and the] well-built world, vivid characters, and perfect blend of action and amour should have readers eagerly seeking the sequel." — Kirkus Reviews, Starred

 "Sparks fly...This first novel will please fans of Cassandra Clare and Game of Thrones watchers with its remarkable world building; richly developed characters...[and] a breathtaking climax that...cannot come soon enough!""—Booklist starred review

"Inventive, gorgeous, and epic—Grey dazzles in her debut." — Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

“A stunning debut. Equal parts atmosphere and adventure … positively divine.” – Victoria Schwab, author of A Darker Shade of Magic 

The Giveaway:

1 winner will receive a paperback of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT, US Only.

Follow the tour:

Week One
7/18/2016 - a GREAT read - Interview
7/19/2016 - MEREADALOT - Review
7/20/2016 - Literary Meanderings - Excerpt
7/21/2016 - Zach's YA Reviews - Review
7/22/2016 - Fiction Fare - Interview

Week Two
7/25/2016 - The Eater of Books! - Review
7/26/2016 - YA Book Madness - Excerpt
7/27/2016 - Ex Libris - Review      
7/28/2016 - BookHounds YA - Interview
7/29/2016 - The Cover Contessa - Review

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: Exiled by Jasinda Wilder

Exiled by Jasinda Wilder
Book Three of the Madame X series
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Rating: 1 star
Source: eARC from NetGalley

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

Summary (from Goodreads):

My name is Madame X.

My heart is torn in two.

And now I have to choose...

Caleb is everything to her: lover, caretaker, the man who gave her life meaning when she had none. But as she seeks the truth about herself and her past, she discovers that unravelling Caleb’s web of lies might very well be impossible.

Logan is everything she never knew she wanted: freedom, joy, and a passion she couldn’t anticipate. But is Logan’s love enough to save her from herself, from Caleb, and from the tumultuous truth of her past?

Caught between two equally compelling and seductive men, X must make the ultimate choice. But there’s more at stake than just her heart...

What I Liked:

Nothing. Moving on. 

What I Did Not Like:


Seriously, I held nothing back.

Honestly I never should have read this series. I knew there was a love triangle before reading Madame X (book one), but I never would have read the series if I had known how bad it was. I have really enjoyed Wilder's books in the past, and I love Berkley's romance novels, so that I thought this series wouldn't be too bad.

Books one and two were fine, and I liked them... but I really disliked this book, and I'm half-tempted to change my ratings of books one and two. I liked those two on the foundation of certain expectations for the conclusion novel. The conclusion novel (this book) was terrible for me, so those books don't seem as good anymore.

If that makes sense. 

Spoilers ahead, just so you're aware. Throughout this whole series, X (or Isabel, her real name), has been having sex with both Caleb (the man who rescued her years ago when she was in an accident that left her physically harmed and with no memory) and Logan (the man she meets in Madame X and falls in love with). This bothered me but not too much, because her and Caleb having sex seemed mechanical, detached, like a chore. It didn't seem real for either of them... until this book.

Several things here that I'm mad about: 1) that Isabel had sex with Caleb at all IN THIS BOOK. She made a choice, in book two! She chose Logan! But in this book, in the first chapter, she "falls back under Caleb's spell", and they have sex. Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Even she knows it's wrong, after the fact. During, she's loving it.

What's worse is that that time is different - Caleb just opened up to her about his past... and then they have sex. Uuuuuuugggghhhhh. Seriously, Isabel?

What's even MORE worse is how understanding Logan is, when Isabel tells him. He makes excuses for her, and tells her that it's okay and it doesn't matter and it's not her fault. Um, what? She wasn't raped. She didn't say no. She didn't push Caleb away. HOW are you making excuses for her?

That leads me to my next problem -- Logan seems way too perfect and understanding. He seems one-dimensional and so, so fake. How are you okay with the woman you love having sex with another man WHILE you're in a relationship with her? Making excuses for her too? He seemed way too okay with all of that.

Which leads me to my NEXT problem -- I don't really understand how Logan loves Isabel that much. I don't understand the basis of this powerful love. It didn't really matter to me in books one and two, because it seemed like their relationship was slowly growing, and Logan wasn't really moving heaven and earth for Isabel (not really). But he almost dies FOR HER, and he's totally okay with her having had sex with another man and then returning to him... 

Look I'm a fan of monogamy, so I'm sorry if my tastes are getting in the way of my judgment of the book itself. If none of these things bother you, then you'll love the book.

Another thing, the big thing, that made me hate this book is that Isabel finds out that she's pregnant in this book. And of course, there is no way to know whose baby it is - it could be either man's. And guess freaking what -- Logan doesn't care if it's Caleb's or Logan's. I... I do not understand adults. If I knew that the baby my girlfriend is having (or had) is another man's, especially a man who took advantage of her, seduced her, practically raped her, I would not be able to look at the kid. No child asks to come in this world, but at the same time, Logan seems way too selfless in being totally okay with taking care of a child that could be that monster's.

Here's the icing on the cake -- Isabel finds out that she is having twins. And yup, you probably can guess what happens next: one of the babies is Logan's (with pale blond hair), and one is Caleb's (with dark hair and brown eyes). SERIOUSLY?! Jasinda Wilder, really?? Do you all know the statistical probability of that happening? It's almost zero. I wanted to burn the book when I read that. I get it, babies are human beings and deserve to be loved, blah blah blah. If I were Logan, I wouldn't be that understanding, and I wouldn't be able to look at the kid with love in my eyes. Maybe I'm selfish? But I wouldn't want to see the kid of that rapist/monster. 

In a way, I understand why Wilder wrote that into the story. She wants Isabel to have something to remember Caleb by, to show how far Isabel has come from meeting Caleb, or something. But statistically speaking, you really can't just drop heteropaternal superfecundation into a book. Especially after magically dropping in twins. That's so similar to deus ex machina and that phenomena is a poorly literary tool.

Caleb turns into a crazy person in this book too - he kidnaps Isabel, almost shoots Logan again, fakes a car bomb. I don't know how Isabel still harbors some kind of positive feeling toward Caleb. Stockholm Syndrome or whatever. HOW was Caleb a love interest? Was anyone ACTUALLY #TeamCaleb? He is abusive, manipulative, disgusting, not to mention a pimp and a whore who sleeps with hundreds of women within a month. *vomits* Why did I read this series. Why.

I hate love triangles, but against my better judgment, I read Madame X. And I thought I liked it. I thought I liked Exposed, it seemed like love-triangle-y things were disappearing (plus the Caleb-Isabel sex decreased significantly and seemed more rape-y. NOT that rape is good, but it showed that Isabel started to see Caleb for who he was and what a monster he was). This book? This book showed that Isabel loved a rapist, a john, a pimp, a monster, for some dumba** reason. And Logan loved her for it. Someone explain to me how his fake a** was okay with everything, like it took him ZERO time to get used to Isabel going back to Caleb and having sex with him (again... and again...), and Isabel giving birth to a Caleb baby and a Logan baby. Yikes.

Finally, this book could have been condensed into, like, 50 pages. Not much happens. The author should have skipped all the fluff and the panic attacks and the coddling and just jumped to the "choose me or me!" scene. She should have skipped the babies, too. Or made them both Logan's. Or made both Caleb's (somehow, I might have preferred that to one and one. Actually, I would have preferred no babies at all). 

In hindsight, I was a dumba** for ever thinking I would like this series. Book one hooked me, book two was good because Isabel seemed to finally hate Caleb, but book three ruined everything (including books one and two). 

Would I Recommend It:

Nope. I recommend absolutely none of these books in this series. I didn't even want to write this review because I was so irritated with this book. If you have no issues with polygamy and heteropaternal superfecundation, go for it. No judgment from me.


1 star. This is the third book in a row that has received two stars or less from me... someone please point me in the direction of something good. This book was sickening and just awful. I have a paperback copy of each of the books in this series, so if anyone is interested, please let me know. I want them out of my house!

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