Description: Seventeen year old Ringzette Almer is a Torosapien that lives in a world that is just as gripping as it is beautiful. The world, Floresha, has taken the place of Earth which was destroyed centuries ago by an unknown power. There are four main tribes that live as a part of its inhabitants: The Chayas, the Marconnis, the Wielders and the Juugulars.
Ringzette, a Chaya, is plunged deeper into her world when she comes across a mysterious man who implants a gem on her stomach. As if things couldn’t get any stranger, she is told that her claimed to be dead brother may not be dead after all and a father she never knew has left her with an unfeasible mission that he himself was unable to complete. Now with her whole world on her shoulders, Ringzette must break the forbidden rule of travelling to the other tribes and find the six guardians that are born to protect this planet. She not only has to race against time, but also the enemies destined to destroy the very same people she must find and protect. To make matters worse, she will have to accomplish all this while managing to survive the treacherous lands of the tribes she's only heard of from her textbooks. As a lazy teenager born from a tribe of peacekeepers, what are her chances of making it through this alive?
Maggie's Review: [2 out of 5 Stars]
Before I get too deep into my comments about this book, I want to start off with some general observations about Young Adult Fiction in order to set the baseline for this review. YA books can fall under two categories for me:
1. Awesome literature written for tweens and up that involve adolescents going on adventures and doing cool things that also appeal to older adults because of their great storylines, interesting characters, and challenging writing that can keep a person of any age's attention. A great example would be The Harry Potter Series.
2. Literature written for young adults that is paced specifically for young readers in mind with a simpler form of vocabulary and mild adventures. An example of this would be A Wrinkle In Time.
This book falls into the second category - slower paced, less challenging vocabulary, and less complex characters. As I am a 30-something-year-old, I struggled a lot with continuing to read the story, but I had to keep in mind that I'm not the target audience. Case in point: I read A Wrinkle In Time last year for the first time (a book I had somehow missed in my childhood), and found it slow and quite boring. But again, I wasn't the target audience, and saying I didn't enjoy a treasured book of kids approaching double digits or heading into their tweens is more of an issue of me missing out on the experience when I was kid, rather than the author neglecting its readers. I would like to make one distinction: though the writing of this book is geared towards young readers, it still has an older audience in mind with its use of strong language (something I’m not opposed to, but need mention for younger readers considering this book), and also instances of sexual predators that may not be suitable for young readers.
I will pull out the classic school-aged phrase to say, This Book Had a Lot of Potential. The world of Floresha sounded very interesting - the different ethnicities, the glowing plants and forestry, and the wildly colored people - but it could have gone much, much deeper in its development. The author attempted to form a cultural base of this new planet, Floresha, and yet they ended up with a poorly translated version of Earth instead of a vibrant new world that had long ago replaced Earth as we know it. Taking common nouns from Earthen days and translating them into new spellings does not put much trust into the reader's creative mind. To fully succeed in creating new people, landscapes, and cultural diversity in one's writing, you must abandon the thought that your readers are Earthlings, merely handing them pieces of your world one bite at a time. Instead, take ownership of your creative new planet and act like the reader is right there with you. You can describe the new world in new terms and new visuals. Saying a "bus" is now a "bushier" simply adds a new name to something the reader already knows exists, and also makes the reader hesitate in their reading of the book; they must pause and think, What is a 'bushier'? A brush? Or bushes? Oh wait, it's a bus! And then they have lost the flow of the story all to try to remember what is meant when a character needs to find a bushier. Also, visuals are so important when creating new worlds. If you want large vehicles that ride around the city carrying passengers, feel free to call it a “bushier”, but have a visual to back-up what this new term is, instead of relying on the reader’s current knowledge.
I enjoyed the ragtag pack of travelers that band together in hopes of saving Floresha, and the author does challenge the reader to consider how leaning entirely on stereotypes and cultural assumptions won’t get you far in life. This concept, and embracing one’s individuality while finding the good in others, is something we all could hear more often.
I shall return to my original point as I close out this review: I am not the intended audience. Had I been a thirteen year old reading adventures about a young girl traveling unknown territories with her best friend and sidekick animal, I would probably find it entertaining and love every page. But for this 30-something-year-old who loves challenging vocabulary and immersing herself in fully developed worlds and great adventure, this book did not meet the mark for me.
Please note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. A big thanks to the author for sharing their work!
Description: In the times after the reformation, the leaders of the new world have created the perfect society. There is no exaggerated wealth or famishing poverty. There is no starvation or crime or disease. The citizens of the sectors are secure and well nourished, forever protected by the life the Monarchy have so gracefully afforded.
No one mentions the things that are lacking. Constance thinks about it often.
At the age of sixteen, Constance is snatched from her family in a twisted ceremony called 'Removal.' Forced to reside in the Citadel, the fortress of the Monarchy, she faces a brutal induction to evolve into a soldier of the Brigade; sworn peace keepers of the sectors. While she grapples with the feeling of revolution that rage in her mind, Constance is trained by Calloway, the guard with an elusive past who shadows her every move.
Remaining peaceful, however, is the last thing on the minds of the inhabitants of sector six. Uprisings and rebellions are common place with her own kinsfolk being injured and killed as a consequence. When the time comes, Constance must decide which side she will choose in a battle that will determine her future. It is a choice that she should never have to face; weighing her own life against the lives of those that she loves.
Lindsey's Review: 3.5 Stars
When I first started reading Monarchy, I almost couldn't get past the first chapters because it was so much like Hunger Games. One of the best things about dystopian literature is the ability to create a unique and compelling world, with an entirely new culture, history, and social structure. Granted, it is tough to be completely original, but this book had so many similarities, it was painful, even down to the phrase "May the odds always be in your favor" was emulated with "May you always be graced with their approval".
But I continued reading because the author is a skilled writer, and as I read, I began to enjoy the world she created, regardless of its close similarities to other popular dystopian fiction. I also began to care for the characters she crafted, and wanted to find out what was going to become of Constance, our protagonist, and her friends.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. I was a little perturbed by the abrupt cliffhanger ending. Personally, if a book is part of a series, I like to see at least some sub plots resolved so I feel like it is a complete book, rather than just half of a book I need to pay more to continue reading. This book just stops at the climax, and I'm not sure when the next book will be released. If you enjoy YA dystopian books with a little romance and teenage angst combined with action, this would be a great read.
Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book for review. "May you always be graced with their approval"!
Description: Samantha Hastings lived a quiet, peaceful life on her family’s country estate. With no man to order her around and no stifling society rules to follow, she considered herself blessed. However, when her brother’s ship sinks during a short trip to France, Samantha receives a request from her sister-in-law to return to town and manage the late Earl’s finances. Suddenly thrust into society, Samantha faces an unfamiliar world and a pair of very familiar green eyes.
Lord Benjamin Westwood never intended on following through with his rash promise to his best friend. Now, with Edward’s death, Benjamin becomes the unwilling guardian to Edward’s bratty little sister, who has grown up considerably since the last time they met. His intention to marry her off to the first available suitor is thwarted when he finds himself falling for Samantha’s unique demeanor. He lights upon the perfect plan; a marriage of convenience, giving him the opportunity to romance Samantha without distraction.
However, when they discover Edward’s disappearance was due to foul play, Benjamin’s perfect plan begins to quickly unravel. Now, Samantha is in more danger than either of them realized and Benjamin is running out of time.
Review by Maggie 5 Stars
So here's the deal: I love me some Austen-esque, period drama. Toss me a book with a moody British guy, a mouthy heroine, and the intensity that ensues between them as they bicker and try to mark their independence, and I am one happy reader. Since this book falls under the Romance category and wasn't written in the 18th or 19th century, the details are much juicier and avoid the subtleties of those times, which admittedly is a bonus for me. Add to that a suspenseful plot of murder and intrigue, and you've officially got me hooked and binge-reading late into the night.
My only disappointment - which the author will not find disappointing at all - was the cliffhanger at the end. I found myself clawing for more pages to know what happens next, or more specifically in my case since it was on an eReader, I was frantically assaulting the button to go to the next page to no avail. I guess I might just have to get book two of the Wiltshire Chronicles!
Great characters, exciting storyline, totally hooked.
Description: Brodie Muir likes his relationships uncomplicated, and paying women to put up with his sexual demands means he doesn't have to consider their feelings. Due to his disaster of a childhood, he has no intention of inflicting the abuse he experienced on anyone else. The cheaply dressed but pretty friend of his PA Alicia peaks his interest when she comes to Scotland to gather herself after the death of her only relative. The fact that Lucy is probably already a sex worker, just as Alicia used to be, will make hiring her for a mistress contract straightforward, besides she clearly needs money. Fitting her into a small part of his well-ordered life will be easy, if it wasn't for the fact that Lucy Gibson is a virgin, and Brodie’s father is owed a few things by the successful hard-nosed business man he produced.
Warning: Adult content includes M/F and M/M scenes. The Call Girls Series follows five women as they explore the sometimes dark but always brightly passionate world of paid love. Themes in the series, but not in every book, include FTF, voyeurism, BDSM, multiples (including M/F/M and M/M/F), role play and always a seriously sexy man or two. Although not all the girls have a ‘happy ever after’ they at least have a ‘happy for now’ ending.
Lindsey's Review 4 Stars This book started out a little slow for me. I had a difficult time feeling the growth in relationship between Brodie and Lucy; it appeared to focus primarily on their sexual relationship, which after the first few encounters, gets a little stale for me. However, about halfway through the book I really started to enjoy the growing bond between these two very different characters. I am a sucker for "hard-nosed billionaire who needs the soft touch of a woman to tame him" and the author did that wonderfully in this book.
The story takes a dark turn, giving me the suspense that I crave in my romance, and I feel like this was very well-written by the author. I was left guessing how the author was going to work out the trauma and have a HEA ending from what happens.
Also, Ms. Jaye's books always have some fantastic side characters, and LUCY did not disappoint. Nick was my favorite character in the book, and even though he was gay, I couldn't help but fall a little in love with him.
Lucy's story is full of the quirky humor, alpha males, and great characters I've come to expect from Ms. Jaye's books. While it may have had a slow start for me, it finished with quite a bang (no pun in intended ;). If you like your romance a little on the dirty side, this will be a great book for you to pick up. Just be sure to read the author's warning first, as it does contain some pretty dark content, as well as M/M content.
Many thanks to the author for providing her book in exchange for an honest review.
Description: In 2157, a mysterious gas known as Variant spreads across the globe, killing or mutating most organic life. The surviving humans take refuge in an underground city, determined to return home. But after generations of failures and botched attempts, hope is beginning to dwindle. That is, until a young scientist makes a unique discovery—and everything changes. Suddenly, there’s reason to hope again, and it rests within a group of genetically engineered children that are both human and Variant.
Terry is one of these children, modified and trained to endure the harsh conditions of a planet he cannot begin to understand. After years of preparation, Terry thinks he knows what to expect. But the reality is far stranger than anything he can imagine—and what he will become is far more dangerous.
Lindsey's Review 5 Stars What a compelling start to an exciting new dystopian series by author JN Chaney!
Yup, I now hate JN Chaney because I'm going to have to buy all his books. Loved everything about it. He is a superb writer. Even if I didn't love dystopian, I would enjoy the book because the author created great characters and a very realistic world. Chaney does a great job describing the sci fi elements without bogging the reader down with too much detail. I did find it difficult to imagine what the underground city looked like and would have liked a little more description of the surroundings.
I always struggle in dystopian books to see the leaders as "bad", because sometimes they do things that really make sense overall for the population. The author has the burden to show how these leaders are willing to cross a line before I can see them as evil, and sometimes their descent into evil doesn't seem realistic to me; it seems forced or contrived to drive the plot. Chaney does this in a realistic way: (spoiler alert) I am glad he had Bishop try to assassinate the Matron, because until then I wasn't convinced he was the bad guy... he and Archer were on their way to saving the underground city, and their creations (aka the kids) did actually stop Variant (at least that is what you make us believe), so they are sort of heroes, albeit tarnished heroes, until they conspire to kill their adversaries.
Overall, this was a well-written, entertaining read I would definitely recommend! I'm looking forward to reading the next installment!
Description A girl who uses her illusions to fool the world into thinking she's just like all the other magi.
A dragon who sees through her lies.
Together they just might survive a world that wants to control or destroy them both.
Kimberly may wield ultimate cosmic power, but even a mage has to pay the rent. No one will hire her for her magic talents until she's got the credentials, so she’s stuck in a crappy rent controlled apartment with her mother, yearning for treats she can't afford at her part time job in a café, counting down the days until she graduates the secret Blackhollow Academy school for magi. Only then will she have the certificate she needs to land her dream job in a coven.
The problem? She needs a familiar to graduate.
As an illusionist, she doesn't have the ability to summon or create a familiar of her own. Her only option is to convince a supernatural creature to let her bind it instead. Since having a powerful Other at her beck and call would guarantee her a place in a coven after she graduates—and legendary treasure hoards are an added bonus—she thinks binding a dragon as her familiar will solve all her problems...
Because sometimes a girl needs a dragon, not a knight.
Maggie's Review: 5 Stars I really enjoyed this book. Part of having a successful book or series that deals with magic or fantastical things is creating a believable world, and the author did just that. There are the obvious things like whether magical creatures are out in the open or hidden, and who the different beings are (from vampire to dragons to your average magical human), but the book went beyond those details and dealt with discrimination, slavery, powerful leaders that could misuse their influence, and the taboo-ness of magical and non-magical co-mingling. This was a well developed world and I loved to soak in all the details of it.
What I also really enjoyed about this book was the main character, Kimberly. She oozes pride and standing up for what is right and honorable, and yet she has this streak of unsureness and shame brought on by her circumstances in life. My favorite parts of the book were when she had this deep well of pain when people would look down on her, and then she would rise up and stand tall, over-coming great obstacles.
I can't wait to see what happens in book two once it's out!
Please Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author for sharing their work!
Description Sydney West enjoys sampling summer boys, but this year, one refuses to be a one-night stand…
Twenty-one-year-old Sydney doesn’t believe in relationships. Her parents’ toxic divorce has taught her love is nothing but a sinister fairytale. So every summer she parties, hooks up, abandons her lover before dawn, and repeats.
That is until she meets gorgeous local surfer Jason King at the beach…
When Jason fails to flirt—or even give her a second glance—she decides something must be wrong with him, and it’s safer to stay away. But when Sydney and Jason’s best friends hook up and become Malibu’s hottest couple, they are forced to spend more time together than either of them cares for.
Armed with a sharp tongue, Sydney works to keep Jason at bay…
In a moment of weakness, Sydney lets her guard down and confides in Jason, realizing he’s more than just a hot guy—he’s also a friend. And when Sydney’s need for a summer boy results in her falling into bed with Jason, despite her better judgment, she runs away from him by morning.
The problem is, he won’t accept being another one-night stand, and will do anything to prove…
Love really does exist.
Maggie's Review: 3 Stars
Admittedly, I was a little stumped in trying to write a proper review for this book. I was drawn to read it after the blurb because I wanted to see how the author would take a character who didn't believe in love whatsoever, and change their mind; I was intrigued to see what could make them change so drastically. So when I found myself turning the pages quickly, and craving to read the book when I was stuck out doing other things, I was puzzled when I finished the book and I felt a little disheartened. It was then that I realized: I didn't like the main character. I didn't want to root for her.
Sure, Sydney had had a rough childhood, so it's understandable she developed certain coping techniques. However, that just meant that every action she made was to serve her own needs, or complain when people got in the way of those needs. Upon further examination of the overall story, any conflict that arose was from Sydney's own making: partying too hard, putting herself in dangerous situations, or getting mad with her friends when they didn't fall into line with her plan. There was no external conflict that forced her to change her ways or reconsider how she should look at her life. Instead, it was an anti-climactic shuffle towards maybe considering love as a concept.
Sydney did start to redeem herself somewhat towards the end, but I still wouldn't say I'm Team Sydney. It was a well paced book, and an interesting glimpse into the Malibu party scene, but it's hard to stick with a book when you don't jive with the main character.
Please Note: I was given a copy of these book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author for sharing their work!
Description In the aftermath of a devastating breakup Emmaline Bartlett flees the city leaving behind a faithless boyfriend and her half-interest in their successful restaurant. A normally determined redhead, Emma struggles to repair her self-esteem and accept the revelation that toppled it. Risking the last of her reserves to convert a trio of weathered outbuildings into a rustic Italian bistro, she soon discovers that winning over locals and building profitability is easier than denying her growing attraction to the property owner's nephew. Conner Mitchell, ruggedly handsome despite wounds more visible than Emma's, isn't living the life he expected since quitting the rodeo circuit to help run the ranch. Devoted to his aunt, he is as suspicious of Emma's motives as he is resentful of the hunger she immediately inspires.
Just as Emma gains enough confidence to share her secret, her old life comes calling with the unexpected arrival of her ex. To complicate matters, a series of baffling mishaps and anonymous complaints threaten the restaurant's reputation.
Now both Emma's new, simmering relationship and Sweet Corner's future could be in danger.
Maggie's Review: 4 Stars I've always been a sucker for books that have a protagonist that suffers from heartache and self-doubt, and an author that takes a seemingly broken person and shows how they can rebuild from that state of brokenness. This was a really enjoyable read. I loved the main characters: Emma and her "brokenness", stoic Conner, Nell the steadfast, and flirtatious yet dependable Bella. Not to mention the story had me at the edge of my seat with the building of trust, the loss of new gains, and the tension between characters. Great chemistry, a bit of mystery and intrigue, plus a dash of that needed self-doubt and heartache to make it feel authentic yet redeeming. I look forward to reading more from this author if/when they publish again!
Please Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. A big thanks to the author for sharing their work!
Description The third installment of RC Boldt’s Teach Me series returns with two people who once had it all… Over a decade ago, fourth grade teacher Tate Donnelly was attending college with the love of her life by her side. She had been certain, even then, that it was the forever kind of love. But she was proven wrong when he left her all alone to pick up the pieces of her life—and heart—when her entire world imploded. Former Navy SEAL Miller Vaughn once had the love of a girl he thought would be his, and be by his side forever. Unfortunately, that only lasted until after he joined the Navy. Then she vanished, never to be heard from again. Throwing himself into his training, he vowed to become the best, toughest SEAL he could be, and never let a girl get the best of him again.
Years later, a man who resembles a boy she once knew reappears in her life. A boy she had loved with her whole being. A boy who had eviscerated her heart. Though much time has passed, Tate and Miller still feel that same “pull” they did years ago. When truths about the past are revealed, will they both be able to move on from their painful past … or are they destined for heartbreak again? Can they remember when their love was the most important thing in their world?
Maggie's Review: 5 Stars
RC Boldt did it again: another really great read with awesome characters. If you haven't gotten into this series yet (book one "Wildest Dream" and book two "Hard to Handle") go out and read them. Read them NOW. The friend group in this series is reason enough to read these books - hilarious interchanges, heartfelt loyalty, and such great dynamics among the various friends - but the books have had so much more. This third book in the series was thick with tension, some heartache, and also gave glimpses into what military life - both during and after service - could be like. I admittedly don't have much direct contact with military personnel, but even starting with the author's note in the beginning of the book, I got a sense of an authentic representation of how servicing one's country can make such huge changes in a person's life, as well as those around them. I highly recommend this series, and book three did not disappoint. I can't wait for the next book to come out!
Please Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. A big thanks to the author for sharing their work!
Description A psychic interior designer reluctantly agrees to renovate a sexy investor’s abandoned hotel on Loch Sheldrake, a lake rumored to have once been the mob’s body dumping ground.
Interior designer Kate Bardach loves her single girl's lifestyle, living in Manhattan and spending weekends at her lake house. She's passionate about her career, too—reinventing old buildings. But there are some projects she can't take on because of the spirits trapped inside. Kate is psychic—she sees dead people.
Marco Lareci is one of Wall Street's most successful investment brokers who's achieved all of his life's goals—except for finding his soulmate. His latest project, an abandoned resort on Loch Sheldrake, needs a savvy designer to transform the crumbling complex into a boutique hotel. When Marco meets Kate, he can't believe his luck. She's the perfect match for his business and his heart.
Marco's body excites Kate even more than does his renovation project. But he wants more than a casual relationship, and she's not willing to give up her freedom. Plus, the haunting at Marco's resort, a bonafide poltergeist, affects her on an intensely personal level. Kate's aunt disappeared from the place fifty years ago.
Will the spirit doom Kate and Marco's love, or drive them closer together?
Maggie's Review: 4 Stars
I have a confession: I get REALLY creeped out by ghost stories. Like can't sleep alone, leave some lights on, and I envision creepy hands reaching out from all the dark corners of a room and from under beds. I'm a wuss. So why read a book that hints at spirits and ghosts? The blurb had me intrigued, so I gave it a go. The verdict? This was a great read. Did I have to sleep with lights on, snuggled up a little too close to my husband with the blankets pulled high? Heck yes. But it was worth it.
The characters were really well developed, the plot line kept me staying up too late to try and find out what happened next, and the relationship between Marco and Kate was really well done. Often times if a book leans towards the romantic genre at all, it can have intimacy just for the sake of checking off a box, but the progression of Marco and Kate's relationship - with flirtations, jealousy, and a good ol' splash of self-deprecation - greatly complimented the mystery, intrigue, and suspense of the Loch.
And I have to mention the psychic component. In my experience, "psychic" can usually translate to "tacky" or "ridiculous" pretty quickly, so part of my draw to the book was to see how the author had Kate be a successful interior designer, but also psychic. The author did a great job of making Kate's abilities both believable and *not* laughable. I found myself feeling sorry for Kate and her episodes, and at the same time impressed that she held her head high and kicked ass at things.
Admittedly, I don't know how soon I'll be picking up another book by this author, but she should be flattered - her wonderfully descriptive writing compounded with her ability to make legit scary stories is the only thing holding me back. I need a little bit of sleep at night that doesn't start with me questioning how many creepy things are going to grab me once the lights go off.
Please Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author for sharing their work!