Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Review

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.






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Phew guys. This review has been a long time coming. I'm not sure what took me so long, other than the fact that it's hard to think of words when you love something so much? But anyway, here is me trying to explain why love this series so much and why you should go out and read it immediately. I'm posting the review for each of the three books each month until January 2, when the third and final book releases (so you have plenty of time to binge the other two). 

I managed to snag an advanced copy of this book at work right before Thanksgiving, and then proceeded to finish it during the ride to my grandma's house, after dinner, and the ride home. It follows Cat, a feisty, sarcastic, head-strong young woman who is hiding from her past. After meeting Griffin, the newly crowned leader of a neighboring land, everything changes. 

The magic system in the world is great. It plays off of Greek mythology and yet has a really refreshing and unique feel to it. While the gods meddle and still have a sway over people's actions and beliefs, other elemental powers come into play with the Magoi (those who can use magic) and the Hoi Polloi (those without). So already you have those tensions, not to mention the politics, and the rising tensions between what Cat is running from and what she ends up running toward. 

Griffin's kingdom and the land of Sinta is so vibrant and interesting. And then there's Griffin, who is just as stubborn and headstrong and amazing as Cat. I thought their banter and relationship was hilarious and touching and very genuine. Their dialogue and the growth in their relationship was a joy to read and while there are sparks and hints throughout, I loved the way they changed throughout the story. 

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that fans of Throne of Glass will absolutely love this book. While the world is completely different and original, Cat is such a great female character with a hidden past and a destiny that isn't all her own. Along with Griffin, there is an amazing cast of characters that all have their backstories and personalities, helping create a well-developed, complex, vibrant world. Full of action, magic, and romance, Promise of Fire is a stellar debut and a fantastic start to the series. 

Find out more about Amanda Bouchet and her books here: http://amandabouchet.com

Visit the website for the Kingmaker Chronicles here: https://kingmakerchronicles.com

Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England where she spent much of her time tromping around in the woods and making up grand adventures in her head. It was inevitable that one day she would start writing them down. Drawing on her Greek heritage for the setting and on her love of all things daring and romantic for the rest, her debut trilogy, The Kingmaker Chronicles, took form. She writes what she loves to read: epic exploits, steamy romance, and characters that make you laugh and cry.

Her first novel, A Promise of Fire, won several Romance Writers of America chapter contests, including the Orange Rose Contest and the paranormal category of the prestigious Golden Pen.

A French master's graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For updates and exclusives, sign up for Amanda's newsletter (you can easily unsubscribe at any time).

Happy Reading!

Jasmine


Monday, September 18, 2017

Royal Attraction by Tiffany Truitt - Release Day Review

Alexandra Ryans’s life has been anything but normal. Some might even call it a fairy tale. As the daughter of the former U.S. ambassador to England, she grew up within the palace walls, best friends with the three young princes. Adored by the press and the British people. What more could a girl want?

If only the press knew the real story behind her relationships with the Dudley boys. Then, they’d really sell some papers.

Oliver Dudley, youngest son and third in line for the throne, loves everything about his life. The fame. The parties. The women. The utter lack of expectations and responsibilities that come with being last in the line of succession. But while the world thinks he has everything he wants, there's one thing he was never able to call his own—the beautiful and spunky American Aly Ryans. But how can he convince her when she hates everything about his life? And what is he willing to give up to get her?


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Royal Attraction is the perfect book for someone who loves royal romances but is looking for something a little different. Alexandra's relationship with the Dudley brothers is a really different take on the traditional tropes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Let's start with Alex. I loved her character, mostly because she is incredibly flawed. She is haunted by her past mistakes and feels inadequate not because of her looks or anything but because she has a learning disability and I really appreciated that part of her. I liked the solace and friendship she has with the male characters in this story, like if they were the boys next door - except they are princes. The voice is hilarious and fraught with doubts and I enjoyed getting a look inside her mind.

Then there's Ollie. Oh, how I love Ollie. I love him more because he is like the boy next door, her best friend, and a prince, all in one. The way that he is portrayed as the playboy but not in a super vulgar way is refreshing. I liked that he struggles with the pressure of being a prince and being the younger brother, and why he does the things he does. I liked that the fact that he is a prince is also not really the main point, but rather a part of his internal and external conflicts. It's more focused on young adults coming-of-age than anything, with the added pressure of royal obligations.

This story is all about relationships, romantic or otherwise, and I thought they were all incredibly well-developed and adorable and great. The flashbacks to when they were children, then teenagers, did a lot to build upon a familial relationship that you immediately believe once Alex reunites with the Dudley brothers. The way the characters grow in the flashbacks, and then the way they grow in the present, is fantastic, and I think adds a depth that is sometimes lacking in other royal romance stories. You are really invested in these character's pasts and growth and friendships and just want them all to be happy.

Royal Attraction was an incredibly refreshing, romantic, hilarious story, with well-developed and believable characters that I fell in love with.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Learn more about the author and her books here: https://www.facebook.com/authortiffanytruitt/

Tiffany Truitt lives with her Netflix and junk food in Virginia. She is a graduate from Longwood University with a Masters in Literature from Old Dominion University. Previously she has worked in the realm of Young Adult literature having written The Lost Souls Series, Because You Exist, and The Language of Silence.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken - Release Day Review

Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…

No fraternizing with the players.

Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.

Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.

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Fraternize is a great combination of a lot of things readers look for in romance  - love lost, love triangles, sassy female heroines, sports, and sexy times. However, it is unique in so many ways that it was a new and great reading experience, a refreshing new take on a sports romance!

I loved Emerson, and that she was insecure about her body but continued to pursue her passions until she made her dream come true. Despite these insecurities, she is such a sassy and strong female character. She is constantly battling between what happened in her past and what she wants for the future, and I thoroughly enjoyed following her on her journey. I thought that it approached Emerson's insecurities in a realistic way and I personally enjoyed that nutrition and realistic body image was a main part of the story. 

The real star of this book, what makes it great and makes it different, is the way the love triangle functions. Miller is Em's past love and she's never forgotten him, much like he's never forgotten her. They love each other as much as they hate each other, from things left unsaid, but the flashbacks of their relationship in high school are fan-tas-tic. I loved them so much (they are so cute, you guys). On the other hand, Sanchez is a completely different animal than Miller, and I loved, loved, loved the way he and the older Emerson interact. They become friends first, but friends in a different way than you do when you are a teenager, and I never thought that they book would take the path it did. The way all the relationships in this book develop, between Em and Sanchez, Em and Miller, and Miller and Sanchez, are all great and really make this book unique and special.

The chemistry is off the charts. The dialogue is hilarious and heartbreaking. And the characters will never cease to surprise you as they figure out what truly matters. A fun, unique sports romance.
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **
Check out more about Rachel Van Dyken and her books here: http://rachelvandykenauthor.com

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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So I went to ComicCon International in San Diego in July and rushed to the Simon & Schuster booth to ask about this book (because faeries, duh) but I wasn't able to attend the day they were giving them away. HOWEVER, the awesome people there told me to email them and very kindly sent me a copy!

An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a gifted painter in a world where the powerful, i.e. the Fae, are unable to actually create things. The people in the town of Whimsy use their Craft to create things of beauty that the Fae from the World Beyond want, mostly to appease their vanity. When Isobel's gift reveals weaknesses in powerful Fae, including the Autumn Prince, Rook, she is taken into the World Beyond to face punishment. However, the Faery world is in chaos, and a little bit of humanity might be exactly what they need. 

I had such high expectations of this book, and in most ways it met them. I love the ethereal yet dark style that books about Fae usually have. The world that Margaret Rogerson has created has all that - a town on the border of magic that only experiences summer, beautiful and yet incredibly cruel creatures that come out of the forest to buy (and trick) humans into giving them what they want. Names and words mean everything and Isobel is incredibly adept at keeping herself and her family safe. I loved the idea of Craft, that things of beauty can only be made by people who can experience the full spectrum of feeling and emotion (which, arguably, most Fae cannot), that humans and these mythical creatures are inevitably tied together somehow. I liked Isobel and thought she was so intelligent and cunning and resourceful. I liked the development of Rook as he realizes that the thing that makes Isobel such a good artist (her ability to understand people) isn't a weakness, but something beautiful. 

There were also some things that didn't meet my expectations. I wished there to be more development between Isobel and Rook. While I was on board for their interactions and thought that the progression of their relationship made sense, I was left feeling like there could have been more depth and nuance to their changing feelings, especially considering the end. That being said, their chemistry was believable and you are rooting for them almost from the beginning. I also felt there was a strange balance of action and world building. I thought that the world was well developed and unique and that Isobel and Rook's journey had some great action scenes. However, a good part of the story also happens in the Faery court and it felt a little laggy to me. There were parts I liked there, such as going back to Craft and the price of immortality, and seeing Isobel become really strategic, but the story lost my attention at times. 

Overall, I loved the world and characters that Margaret Rogerson has created. I have been waiting for a haunting and lovely Fae story for a while and this totally met that need. I think the real strength of the story is Isobel (and Margaret's) experience with creation and art and the important place it has for people. An Enchantment of Ravens is a floaty and romantic story, with a resourceful, headstrong artist unafraid to use her passion for painting to save her family and the world she loves (no matter how messed up it may be). 

** I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks S&S! **
Check out more about Margaret Rogerson here: http://www.margaretrogerson.com

Margaret Rogerson has worked a variety of jobs ranging from canoe livery counter girl to graphic designer. She has a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing, she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio. An Enchantment of Ravens is her debut novel. 

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson - Early Review

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Taran Wird, who commands the power to wield fire and lightning, is an oddity in the supernatural world. But neither Taran nor her unique sisters compare to the bizarre entity known as Destiny. And Taran is assigned to protect her.

Born of two witches, Destiny is revered among the supernatural elite for her acute ability to predict the future. Her biggest prophecy involves Taran’s sister, Celia, whom Destiny decreed will bear children strong enough to take on the evil that’s rising. Yet Destiny is not alone in her predictions, or individuality.

When Johnny Fate, a rock star among humans and a male version of Destiny is discovered, his powers and Destiny’s clash, triggering the start of Destiny’s demise and altering the fate of Celia’s unborn children.

Taran, her werewolf lover Gemini, and their allies must determine if it’s Fate who will decide what will become of Celia’s children, or if their lives and the world will perish with Destiny.

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Of Flame and Fate is 8th book in the Weird Girls series and the 3rd book focusing on Taran. It follows Taran Wird as she and her sisters try to protect their sister Celia and the world from impending magical doom (dun dun DUUUUNNNN). 

The strength of the whole series and Taran's books in particular is her voice. Sassy and hilarious, Taran makes for a great narrator. She is so focused on her mission of protecting her sister and in turn, saving the world. The stakes are raised in this book, and Taran's tone and her determination parallels the rising tensions among the supernatural community as things spiral out of control. Through it all, though, is Taran and Gemini's relationship. Sweet, supportive, and always amusing (because their personalities are polar opposites), it is the guiding light in a world of crazy. 

Cecy has set the groundwork for a complex supernatural world and conflict. With Fate and Destiny at odds (literally, as people with strong personalities to boot), the lore is deep and is only building with each book. As more and more is revealed, not only about Celia but about all the Wird sisters, readers can get more and more excited about where the story is going to go (and what the future holds, no matter which sister is your favorite!). 

The book starts off with an action packed battle scene, and while I think they are well written and pull you in immediately to not only the conflict but also Taran's personality, I wish there were a few more intimate moments between Taran and her sisters (and Gemini, though those aren't really lacking) and less non-stop running around. I liked the fact that more is revealed in this book, though I kind of wished that it was revealed more throughout, rather than a lot of it towards the end. It would have tied the story together a little bit between the fight scenes and the ensuing chaos. While I love this series, Celia is still my favorite, and I found myself skimming over some of the fight scenes and not missing any crucial information to look for the presence of the other Wird girls. 

Overall, Of Flame and Fate is a romping, action-packed, romantic story of Taran and her sisters. You have the read Taran's other books, Of Flame and Promise and Of Flame and Light to understand literally anything in this book. My review for Of Flame and Promise is here. I also highly recommend reading the first five books in the series that star Celia, Taran's sister! If you are looking for a well-written, exciting, humor-filled paranormal novel for the fall, this series and this book is just the ticket. 
** I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review **
Find out more about Cecy Robson and her books here: http://www.cecyrobson.com

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is the new adult and contemporary romance author of the Shattered Past series, the O’Brien Family novels and new Carolina Beach series, as well as the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A 2016 double nominated RITA® finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, Cecy is a recovering Jersey girl living in the South who enjoys carbs way too much, and exercise way too little. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, you can typically find her on her laptop silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kennealy - Review

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

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I am so happy that I got to review Miranda Kenneally's newest Hundred Oaks installment, Coming Up for Air. I love the whole series, one of my favorite books of all time being Breathe, Annie, Breathe (haven't read it? WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GO GET IT!), but Coming Up for Air rose to a solid second. 

Coming Up for Air has all the things one would expect from Miranda: hilarious characters and situations and swoon worthy love interests combined with truly touching conflicts that come with growing up and trying to define yourself and what you want. 

Maggie is such a great character but I really enjoyed how close she is to her group of friends. They all work to bring out characteristics in one another that make all of them more developed, complex, and believable. I thought the dialogue and action between them was so organic and entertaining it was like watching a movie (a really good one). After visiting Cal (Wat up alma mater! GO BEARS!) as an incoming freshmen athlete, she realizes that she isn't as experienced with boys as she thinks she should be. When she comes back, she asks her best friend, Levi, to help her get more comfortable hooking up with guys. Then all the fun stuff starts. What could go wrong, right?

As always, Maggie's story is the perfect combination between rom-com hilarity and very real, very believable coming-of-age struggles. I thought that the friendship between Maggie and Levi was wonderful and organic and that the romance between all the characters and their various interests so accurately describes any and all forms of romance and infatuation found in high school and college. Maggie's relationship with Levi (and Hunter and Georgia) is so open and nonjudgemental (they remind me a lot of Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door!).  The whole idea of "hookups" has been prevalent in so many young adult and new adult novels, but I truly thing that Coming Up for Air is a really great example of exploring the idea in such a way that is respectful and completely believable. I liked that these are semi-professional kids that still flounder around teenage issues. I liked that they are all making mistakes and kind of have no idea what they are doing but are still able to learn from them and laugh about it. I like the range of familial and platonic relationships, from the ideal parents, to the not so ideal, to split families. I LOVED that she talks about casual (safe) sex, the worry around being inexperienced, and high school students being sexually active in various ways. Her characters make as many mistakes as they do good choices and the balance is fantastic. 

Maggie's battle with her own self worth as an athlete and her doubts about what she has and hasn't experienced because of this ambition is a great center to a story of a young woman trying to figure out what's important to her, as both an aspiring Olympian and as a young woman. She must learn to not compare her own accomplishments to others, to be comfortable with change, and to stand up for herself and what she wants. The sports aspect, as usual, is a wonderful frame to a fantastic and dynamic cast of characters, hilarious writing, and swoon-worthy romance. It can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend all of Miranda's books. 
* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Find out more about Miranda and her books here: http://mirandakenneally.com

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Find her on Twitter!

Look at this cute comic of all the amazing female protagonists in the Hundred Oaks series! LOOK AT IT!
Happy Reading!

Jasmine

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm Not With the Band by Amber Garza - Review

I like Kassidy Milton. There, I said it. She’s funny, beautiful—even though she doesn’t know it—and my favorite kind of weird. But I can’t tell if she’s into me or just trying to get close to me for a chance with my famous twin brother instead. I mean, it has to be me. I am the better-looking one.

But Kassidy has some demons, and she’s not good at letting people in. That happens when you’ve been hurt by someone close to you. I can relate. Trust is a funny thing; it’s hard to gain but easy to lose. I might just learn that the hard way.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book includes a snarky heroine, a swoon-worthy hero, crazy best friends, your favorite music, and lots of feels.





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I'm Not in the Band is an adorable story of two teenagers battling their insecurities by relying on their friendship and romantic chemistry. I liked Kassidy and as a person with anxiety, I thought that the character was well written. The reasons she does (or doesn't) do the things she does and responds the way she does, is authentic and really adds to the character.

Sometimes is hard for me to really get into books with dual POVs, especially ones with different genders. However, I think that I'm Not in the Band did a great job of having two very distinct, interesting voices and characters and I loved Archer's sections as much if not more that Kassidy's. 

Archer and Kassidy's relationship, despite starting with a cliche bump in at a concert, develops in a relatively believable way, and the conflicts and insecurities brought to the forefront for both of them make sense and add to the character development. Sometimes I felt that Kassidy's character fell a little flat and was sometimes a little inconsistent. However, her development throughout the story, and Archer's place in really pushing that development, really drives the story. Archer's band of friends also really work to push the story forward and add a lot of voice and humor, making for a funny, sweet, romantic summer read. 
** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

Find out more about Amber and her books here: https://ambergarza.wordpress.com

Amber Garza currently lives in California with her amazing husband, and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Amber loves to connect with her readers. You can visit her at ambergarza.com, or find her on Instagram and Facebook as ambergarzaauthor, or on twitter @ambermg1.

Happy Reading!

Jasmine