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The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos by Kristin D. Van Risseghem – Review

Title: The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos
Author: Kristin D. Van Rissegham
Series: Enlighten
Book: 1
Format: Paperback
Pages: 260
Rating: 3.5/5

25168166**I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review**

Zoe Jabril’s life completely changes when she finds out her best friend is an angel. Things get even stranger when it turns out he was sent to be her guardian angel. Zoe is the supposed Redeemer, meant to keep the devil at bay, but meant to bring about Armageddon in the process. Only Zoe can stop the end of the world from happening. If she’s the Redeemer, she will take on her true form when she turns 18, sprouting wings and taking on her angel form. It doesn’t help that, along with the weight of the world, demons are trying to kill her at every turn and her feelings for the nephillim, Shay, are amplified beyond anything she’s ever felt before. Can Zoe overcome her feelings and do what she needs to before the devil is released? Or is Armageddon hopeless to stop?

I found that this was a quaint, fast read. The story had a good flow and made me want to keep reading. I can’t help but note, though, that every guy in this book is model-like and charming. I understand that 2/3 of the guys are of some angel form, but you have to draw a line at some point. While I love Shay, he’s simply too open. I respect it, but even nephillim guys can’t be that willing to be open about their feelings. Other than that, the relationship between Shay and Zoe is adorable and I ship them so hard. The music references threw me off a little. I was willing to let it by with Glad You Came by The Wanted, but I draw a line at One Direction. Guys aren’t usually open about stuff like that, especially to the point where they admit to having their emotions take over when listening to a certain song, it just threw me off. I liked this book, but it focused more on relationships and talking about Armageddon rather that actually trying to stop it. If there’s a whole new world opened up to a completely ordinary person, I want the action behind that, there was more time for talking before, now we need action! I’ll place an assumption that there’s more action in the next book. Overall, it was a lovely book and I can’t wait for the story to continue on to the next book!

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The Young Elites by Marie Lu – Review

Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites
Book: 1
Format: Hardback
Pages: 355
Rating: 5/5

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When a terrible blood disease storms through Kenettra, the land is left with a surprise. Most of the young people that survive come out of the disease differently, some with terrible markings and scars, some with mild changes, but all are outcasts. They are called malfettos. Some malfettos are different than others. While all of them are marked by the disease, only a few of them develop abilities. Adelina lost her left eye to the disease and is a malfetto, cast aside by her father and forever living in the shadow of her younger sister who came out of the disease unmarked. After a horrible accident, Adelina finds herself among a group of Young Elites that call themselves the Dagger Society, but darkness is growing and no one can trust anyone.

Marie Lu never fails to amaze me with her lovely writing and utterly heartbreaking stories. She pulls together things that some authors never seem to think about. I don’t know many female leading characters that have been scarred to the extent of losing an eye. And then there’s so much darkness that you can’t help but get sucked into the story. Main characters are almost always these light, bright people that are trying to bring out the good in everyone, but with The Young Elites, they embrace the darkness. 

I could never get enough of Enzo. His character fascinates me. Especially when he’s with Adelina, because I feel like we didn’t really get a lot of their relationship. Minus a roadblock or two, I really hope we get to see more of the two of them in future books. Then, there’s Raffaele. Sweet, beautiful Raffaele that made me so sad over and over again. Yet another surprising thing Lu brings to the table, Raffaele is a consort in a ‘pleasure court’, which is a nicer and a watered down version of a brothel. Overall, I truly can’t wait to get my hands on The Rose Society.

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Outsiders by Tammy Ferebee – Review

Title: Outsiders
Author: Tammy Ferebee
Series: Outsiders
Book: 1
Format: Paperback
Pages: 335
Rating: 4/5

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**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Jaylen’s life changes when she starts attending Trinity High. Her expectations for a church school go out the window when she meets Indigo. She feels a connection to Indigo unlike anything she’s ever felt for anyone else. A sense of belonging. Indigo and Jaylen instantly become friends. But Indigo isn’t the only person Jaylen feels a connection to. Her connection to Michael is just as strong if not stronger than her pull to Indigo. But there’s clearly some bad blood between Michael and Indigo and Jaylen doesn’t know who to believe.

This was a fun, fast read. The plot moved smoothly and there was never a time when I felt like putting the book down. If there’s anything I love it’s relationships like Jaylen and Michael. Heartbreaking and heart warming at the same time! I love the idea of the whole “pretending to be human but really we aren’t” thing, but I feel like it wasn’t played up as much as it could have been. There was a whole opportunity to explore the culture and to ask questions, but the book focused more on human stuff with a few scattered tidbits of other-worldliness. Of course, that might just be because it’s the first book, so it’s developing the characters and all the information about the “other species” will be in future books, but I would have enjoyed just a little bit more of it in Outsiders. 

I love the incorporation of LGBTQIA+. You don’t see that a lot in books, especially in the case where all the character seemed really chill about it instead of being flabbergasted. But even so Indigo made me quite mad at times and by the end of the book I was thoroughly convinced that she’s slightly mentally unstable. Michael was by far my favourite character. He just seemed so at ease all the time and every scene with him and Jaylen together just made me want more. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2 when it comes out!

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The Whispers of the Fallen by J.D. Netto – Review

Title: The Whispers of the Fallen
Author: J.D. Netto
Series: Whispers of the Fallen
Book: 1
Format: Ebook
Pages: 245 (according to my Nook)
Rating: 1/5

18399878I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Isaac and Demetre are simple farm boys. They help their village and their parents on a daily basis, harvesting, planting, and anything they can do to help. Until one day when they both wake up to find their parents missing. Turns out that their parents are a part of a group of people that protect a diary. A diary written by the devil. Their lives go from simple to complicated and in a work with angels and demons, no one is really safe.

I followed the author J.D. Netto on Instagram long before I read this. First off, the covers look amazing, the idea sounds unique (an angel book told in the POV of a guy…RARE!), and I felt a pull to it. It started off well enough, but I started noticing a few things that just bothered me and as I progressed through the story, it kept nagging at me and I found more and more small little problems. It began to take away from the story.

Warning: This will probably have spoilers, so if you don’t want to see that, look away now.

1. The very first thing I noticed in the dialogue is the severe lack of contractions.
These boys are farmers, they aren’t royalty or poised in any way, they should know a contraction or two. In my mind, the lack of contractions leads to the voice sounding bland and mechanical. It sounded stiff and awkward. The more I thought about it, the more I noticed it happening. For example: “What is wrong?”. Now, I might be able to accept this if it was an exclamation, but in normal conversation, I would think someone with Isaac’s background would say “What’s wrong?” or “What happened?”. Another example: “‘It does not look so bad,’ I said in a cheerful tone”. It sounds too formal for a farm boy and happened consistently throughout the novel.

2. The use of “us” and “our” for things that Isaac alone knows he’s feeling.
This one isn’t that big of a deal. It’s mainly me focusing on the smallest, most pointless detail ever, but it bothered me for some reason. I can’t find an example straight from the text, because I forgot to bookmark one, but there was a time when Issac said something along the lines of “It made us feel safe” or “It unsettled us both” in times where they never talked to each other about their feelings and Isaac couldn’t possibly know that Demetre felt that way. Like I said, though, just me nitpicking.

3. The use of “now” and “this”.
I don’t even know if this is technically grammatically incorrect, but in a past tense book, I don’t expect to see this. For example: “I had never heard of the Kingdom of Mag Mell, but right now the only thing that concerned by was leaving”. By saying ‘right now’, to me it indicates that it’s really happening right now, not in the past, so I don’t think that fits. I forgot to mark an example for ‘this’ as well, but it’s something like “This tower is tall and obviously showed it’s age”. That’s an awful example, but it’s the best I could think up. It makes me think the narrator is literally looking at the tower, not looking back on it. As a bonus for this, I also found a part that used ‘these’ in a place I didn’t think fit. “I suppose they were paying tribute to these two beings”. I don’t know if this is technically incorrect either, but maybe if ‘these’ was replaced with ‘the’ instead it would make more sense.

4. The characters are emotionless and flat.
Issac’s life is literally thrown away and he gets all this information thrown at him, but he just doesn’t care and he goes along with it. If I was put in that situation, I would ask a few more questions, not just blindly throw trust to people I don’t know! At some point, Demetre gets killed and Isaac watches completely stone-faced as his best childhood friend gets murdered. No tears, no emotion, just nothing. How awful is that?

I wanted to like this book, really I did, but even without the grammatical stuff that I was overly focused on, the story just lacked the kind of emotion and adventure that I need in a book like this. There was too much description for little things and too little description and explanation for things I really wanted to know about. The character’s flatness just caused me to not care about any of them. When Demetre died, I felt nothing, because there was nothing to feel, we never get an emotional connection to the characters and in books, that’s very important.

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To Nowhere by C.E. Wilson – Review

Title: To Nowhere
Author: C.E. Wilson
Format: Ebook
Pages: 205
Rating: 4/5

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I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Lyris’ life is turned upside down when she meets a handsome stranger while getting coffee. He’s odd and doesn’t say very much about himself. All Lyris knows is that his name is Wyatt and he has an obsession with the house next door to her’s, an abandoned building called the Shaw house. Wyatt warns Lyris against going into the house without him, especially a door that leads to nowhere. When her curiosity gets the best of her, Lyris is thrown into a world full of giants that speak in a language she can scarcely understand. Is Lyris stuck living the life of a pet or are things not quite as they seem?

When I first started reading this, I was a little confused. Wyatt seemed off and way too shifty for my liking. I kept wondering what on Earth was wrong with Lyris to trust a guy like that, clearly he had some problems! Their flirting was awkward and it just seemed weird. Things really picked up, though when Lyris ended up in “nowhere” . However, even with all the excitement, I was extremely frustrated with the exchanges between Brindt and Lyris. The amount of time they spent trying to understand each other threw me off and left my eyes swimming trying to make sense of the odd language. It was around this time I expected this to be a 3 star book. Thank goodness for the collar, without the communication between Brindt and Lyris, the constant back and forth of piecing together the giant language would have driven me up the wall. As the story progressed, I really felt sorry for Brindt, but Lyris was certainly not wrong in fearing him, because if someone triple my size that didn’t speak my language and kept me in a cage occasionally would scare the crap out of me. By the end of the story, I just loved the interaction Lyris had with Brindt and the last fifty or so pages caused me a lot of emotional distress because of it. Only problem with the end is that it ended off with such a cliff hanger I wonder if my copy somehow shaved off the last hundred pages. I do hope we get more of “nowhere” in the future!

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The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse (ARC) – Review

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Format: Ebook
Pages: approx. 231
Release Date: 5/9/2016
Rating: 4.5/5

27910924Gwen’s stories are captivating and amazing. At least, that’s what her sister Rose would say. As much as she loves telling her little sister stories, Gwen has accepted that that’s all they are. Stories. Having already given into the inevitability of growing-up, her life gets turned upside down when Peter Pan steals her sister away during the night. It isn’t long until Peter and Rose come back to take Gwen with them to be a storyteller to the lost children. Unwilling to let her sister out of her sight, Gwen leaves with them without a second thought, when she’s sucked into the magical world of Neverland. A beautifully freeing place with mermaids and fairies seems all fun in games, but Neverland is being threatened. Is Gwen stuck in a doomed Neverland? Or can she team up with Peter and the lost children to fix everything?

I can honestly say that I’ve never actually read the original Peter Pan and what I remember is based solely on what I can remember from the Disney movie adaptation. This book is interesting instantly, because Gwen’s description of growing up and high school life is one of the most accurate that I’ve ever read. I loved how aware Gwen was with the world and accepting about how things play out. Peter was not what I expected. Again, basing my assumptions on the Disney movie, I expected a completely flighty (no pun intended) child that just wants to have fun, but Greathouse gives Peter’s character so much depth that it’s not hard to see what emotional traumas Peter’s been put through. The reader can obviously tell he’s struggling with keeping everyone safe, including Neverland. I was thrilled to see the controversy around the redskins. Before picking this up, I myself actually thought about that. As a child, it never occurred to me that that could be offensive, but society now has molded my mind to know that calling someone a redskin could be and most likely is entirely offensive, so I love how that was pinpointed! Gwen’s time with the mermaids was one of my favourite parts and something I would like to learn more about, I found them very interesting and they added greatly to the plot. The only thing that kept this from a solid 5 stars is the ending. In a way I like how open it was, because it leaves room for perhaps (I hope) another book in the future, but if there isn’t a next book, I’m left unsatisfied. It’s a toss-up, really, but overall I certainly recommend this book for lovers of Peter Pan and fairy tale retellings!

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Instinct by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Review

Title: Instinct
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Chronicles of Nick
Book: 6
Format: Hardback
Pages: 368
Rating: 4/5

21944038Nick’s in a great mood. There’s no one out to kill him, no one is dying, and it seems like a perfect normal day where he can pose as a perfectly normal human having a perfectly normal life. For an hour maybe. That is, until an omen of death that only Nick can see goes flying through his school hallway. All of a sudden, Caleb falls ill, which is impossible for demons. Everything comes crashing down at once. Nick’s mother disappears and he begins to realize that the people he held closest to him are lying to him almost constantly. He doesn’t know who to trust or who will betray him. And with his new Malachai powers barely under control, will Nick be able to save everyone with his best friend out of commission and his slippery grip on sanity?

I didn’t think this was a particularly spectacular book. I absolutely adore the Chronicles of Nick books, I think they’re interesting and full of interesting lore, but this one didn’t catch my attention as much. Best part of this book by far – Malachai Nick. The fact that he can lose control any second and completely destroy the world is awesome, but when he uses his power to save his mother and his friends, I love it. Nick almost dies about twice and it had me freaking out both times. The first time was a little sudden and was never really explained, but the second time…phew! Overall, though, I still think this is a great book, full of action and everything I love in a book, but not as outstanding as the others. Here’s to hoping for more Malachai Nick!

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo – Review

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grisha
Book: 3
Format: Paperback
Pages: 422
Rating: 4/5

14061957This book demonstrated less rising and more ruin if you ask me. While the first hundred pages didn’t drag me in, it certainly more than made up for it in the last two hundred or so. I’m not even all that sure about how I feel about Ruin and Rising, there were so many twists and turns and even then I didn’t really like how it ended.

Alina Starkov is on the lookout for the third and last amplifier, the firebird. The Darkling’s forces are closing in and the need for Alina’s power is greater than ever. Torn between a life she wants and the life she has, nothing has ever seemed so helpless. People are dying left and right and no one even has an inkling as to where the firebird could be or if it even exists. Can Alina battle her heart and gain the power she needs to defeat the Darking? Or is all lost?

I usually try to keep my reviews relatively spoiler free, but for this one I can’t promise anything. There will be spoilers in here, so if that bothers you, I suggest you look away now.

The first one hundred pages was all information I already knew or didn’t particularly care about. Alina healing, angsty stuff, self loathing, the normal stuff. Things really picked up when Nikolai came into play. I cannot express my love for that prince enough. He has a silver tongue and he’s interesting, he’s just a great character. And when he told Alina he would propose to her if they survived the battle, I was all over that. It might not be the most romantic, but I really thought they’d be a cute couple. I honestly thought Nikolai was going to die. When he turned into that creature I was so upset. Next person, the Darkling. I love him. I shipped him with Alina so hard. I really think that if Alina had stayed with him, she could have changed him. In the end, I felt so bad for him, he just wanted to be loved and to share his life with someone like him. Mal. I never particularly liked Mal, I thought he was a little too needy and that he held Alina back most of the time, but I actually found myself liking the scenes between him and Alina. Now, that ending. I didn’t want to the Darkling to die. In a perfect world, Alina would have used her light to cast out the darkness in him and made him a better person so they could live together happy with their power. Instead, I got almost the exact opposite. Not only did the Darkling die, but Mal was resurrected. Biggest kicker of all, Alina lost her powers. All of them. Completely normal. That made me mad. Phew! So much happened, I couldn’t possible address all of it. Overall, I respect the action and writing and the overall amazingness of Ruin and Rising, but I can’t agree with that ending.

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Angelfall by Susan Ee – Review

Title: Angelfall
Author: Susan Ee
Series: Penryn and the End of Days
Book: 1
Format: Paperback
Pages: 284
Rating: 5/5

24936921Devastatingly heartbreaking and intense, Angelfall is the one angel book that everyone needs in their life. The second I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. When I finished it, I knew this was going to be going on my favourites list.

Penryn Young is exhausted. Day and night, she juggles keeping her wheelchair bound sister and her paranoid schizophrenic mother alive when the angels attack. When they get caught up in an angel skirmish on the streets, Penryn gets separated from her mother. She witnesses an angel lose his beautiful white wings and helps him fend off his attackers. All seems calm when one of the angels comes back in steals her sister out of her wheelchair. Survival becomes a rescue mission. Penryn teams up with angel Raffe, who hopes to get his wings reattached, in order to sneak into angel territory and get her sister back. Angels are then enemy, but Raffe seems almost different. He’s kinder and more thoughtful, but is he really different? Or is he just pretending for his own personal gain?

Susan Ee was born to torture me with her wonderful stories and her amazing characters that make me feel obsolete. Raffe. I cannot stress my love for that sarcastic asshole enough. And can we talk about how when Raffe first meet, before they even know each other’s names, he smiles at how funny she is when she acts like he weighs a ton. That is so cute and no one can convince me otherwise. But then, all of a sudden he wakes up and tries to kill her and sitting there reading as if I could actually reach through the pages and slap some sense into him. There are just some times where I’m wondering “RAFFE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” and then sometimes I had to set the book down and curl up because aww cute. And then “I don’t even like you.” and I’m dead. Don’t even get me started on how they can’t be together because that would result in Raffe being sent to Punishment and possibly a Nephilim, it just breaks my heart. They so obviously belong together and it makes me so mad. The ending made me want to throw the book at the nearest wall. Luckily, I purchased book two when I got book one, so I’m going to do something I don’t do often and read the second book instead of reading what I planned to read next.

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The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis – Review

Title: The Colossus Rises
Author: Peter Lerangis
Series: Seven Wonders
Book: 1
Format: Hardback
Pages: 348
Rating: 3/5

16061340I had some high hopes for this book regardless of it being a Middle grade read. I try not to let things like that define how it makes the book feel. For example, Percy Jackson is a Middle grade book as well, but it doesn’t read like that, it actually has an interesting story with humour and violence and it could appeal to almost anyone. The Colossus Rises is a Middle grade book and reads like one as well.

I knew right from the beginning that I wasn’t going to fall in love with this book. The characters lack a certain something that makes them easy to connect to. Jack McKinley is the main character, he has a knack for coming up with complicated solutions to seemingly easy problems and he’s dying. Not that he knows this as first, he doesn’t find out until he’s taken to an institution that helps people just like him…all three of the others. Each of the other major characters, Aly, Marco, and Cass, are all given odd little quirks as well. Aly is a computer genius that can hack like a professional, Marco is an athletic star, and Cass is a mental genius with the ability to remember seemingly everything.

This book had such great potential, but even for a fantasy book it felt stretched a little thin. It throws odd scenarios with oddball names into a multitude of unlikely events that made my mind swirl a few times. While still maintaining a highly unique idea, it didn’t seem like it really focused on the fact that these kids are all dying which for some reason doesn’t phase any of them. That seems like a big deal to me, but clearly I’ve missed something more important than impending doom.