Review: Cracked Kingdom by Erin Watt

Cracked Kingdom
Series: The Royals, #5
Author: Erin Watt
Publication Date: February 28, 2018
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 


These Royals will ruin you.

Ever since Hartley Wright met Easton Royal, her life hasn’t been the same. There are enemies behind every corner and dangers beyond each door. When tragedy strikes and steals her memories, she can’t trust anyone, not even the blue-eyed boy who promises her that everything will be all right.

Because while Hartley’s memory is full of gaps, her instincts tell her Easton is dangerous. She doesn’t know if he’s the snake in the garden or her chance at salvation. The chaos he brings wherever he goes is too much to handle, the intense feelings he evokes are too confusing to unravel.

Easton wants her to remember. Hartley thinks it’s better to forget.

She might be right.

Tragedy. Treachery. Trust. Hartley has to face the facts—in this world, you can’t escape the Royals.

Either you live by their rules or you die by them.

Fallen Heir, book four in The Royals series, gave us an Easton we weren’t familiar with. Gone was the protector and friend we thought we knew. In his place was a womanizing alcoholic. It was hard to match the Easton of the first three The Royals books up with the broken boy from Fallen Heir. Because of this change in Easton, some people weren’t very happen with that book. I still really enjoyed it, but I was curious to know how Erin Watt would get us back to the Easton we knew and loved.

The answer to that was Cracked KingdomCracked Kingdom felt more like the first three books than the fourth. It had Erin Watt’s amazing writing, all of my favorite (and not so favorite) characters, a swoon-y love, and drama galore. I also can’t leave out the shocking surprises it had in store. Those are what make The Royals series so hard to put down.

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about Cracked Kingdom‘s storyline at first. I’m not usually into amnesia plots. This one really worked, though! It was set up a little differently, and I loved that. Hartley was uneasy most of the book, and that was actually fun. I also found myself connecting better with her character as she got to know herself. I ended up liking Hartley a lot more than I did in Fallen Heir. Having her own point of view really helped.

Easton… Well, Easton still had problems, but what happened at the end of the fourth book and the beginning of this one seemed to pull him out of what held him captive. I truly felt like I had one of my favorite characters back. I loved how he was with his family and Hartley in this one. This book felt almost like a fresh start for Easton and Hartley.

As for the rest of the Royal clan, they were as fun to read about as always. I loved being back in their world with all the deceitful people surrounding them. Every character brought something I wasn’t expecting to the story.  I even liked seeing those characters I hate.

I flew through Cracked Kingdom and enjoyed every minute with it. I was surprised by some of the directions the authors went, but I liked how it all worked out. I’m sad The Royals series is over because I would have loved a book about the twins (I still need to know exactly what was up with them and Lauren.), but I understand why the authors are ending things where they did. Cracked Kingdom was a great end to a truly amazing series.

Review: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

Far from the Tree
Author: Robin Benway
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

Far from the Tree is about three biological siblings who have been raised in three separate homes. After giving her own baby up for adoption, Grace is desperate to find her biological mother. In her quest, she discovers she has two siblings: Joaquin and Maya. Grace and Maya were each adopted at birth. Joaquin, the oldest of three, was raised in the foster care system. As they get to know each other, the siblings begin to discover their similarities, their differences, and what family really is.

So here’s the deal. I just… I don’t even know how to put into words how I feel about Far from the Tree. Please forgive me if this review rambles or makes no sense. Far from the Tree broke me in so many different ways.

First, it broke me because I ached for Grace. Grace’s story was the one I was most curious about. After having my own child, I cannot imagine giving up a child — especially one I desperately wanted — no matter how much I knew it would be the best thing for that child. It would kill me. Grace’s experience brought me to tears more than once.

Second, I’m an adoptee. While I haven’t been through much of what happened to Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, I have felt some of the feelings they felt. Maya’s thoughts were the ones I could relate to the most. Our situations were the most similar. We are both adoptees whose adoptive parents went on to have biological children of their own. Maya’s thoughts gave validity to ones I have felt in the past. Her feelings combined with those of Joaquin and Grace touched something deep inside me.

Third, Joaquin’s whole situation hurt. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in his world. It makes me ache for all the foster care children out there. I want an adoption as amazing as mine for them.

My review is making Far from the Tree a complete downer. It’s not. There’s heartache, but there are so many amazing moments. The characters learn so much about themselves and what family and loving someone means.

I was a fan of Robin Benway’s writing from her début novel, Emmy & Oliver, but Far from the tree blew me away. It is my favorite book I’ve ever read about adoptees. It encompassed so many different feelings surrounding being adopted. In my opinion, Far from the Tree was perfection. It’s a very special book.

Release Day Review: Saving Me by Sadie Allen

Title: Saving Me
Author: Sadie Allen
Genre: Mature YA Romance
Release Date: February 21, 2018
On the outside, Ally has everything any teenager could want. She’s beautiful, popular, and athletic. She has the right friends, an adoring boyfriend, and the picture-perfect family. 

Too bad it’s all a lie.

Every day she’s dying a little on the inside, drowning in everyone’s expectations and opinions, the weight of it all pulling her under. 

She wants to do the unthinkable … until a boy with shaggy hair, unusual eyes, and a lip ring changes her plans.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Ally has always been the best. She’s popular. She’s the best hurdler on the track team. She has the the boyfriend every girl desires. Life should be easy, but it’s not. Her life is driven by the pressure of her peers and parents — until an injury sidelines her from the track team. The carefully crafted life she was living falls apart in one big swoop. Tired of living a life she doesn’t want, Ally makes some desperate decisions.

I was impressed when I read Sadie Allen’s début novel. I am even more impressed by her second novel, Saving Me. It was beautifully written and packed with emotion. Being a teenager is hard. Sadie Allen showed just how hard it can be. She also showed how the kindness of others can change the course of a life, and how important having supportive  friends (and family) is.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen in Saving Me was a greater focus on the feelings Ally felt at the beginning of the book. She was being so drastic, but those feelings seemed to greatly lessen so quickly.

Overall, Saving Me was a great YA novel. It was so much more than just another contemporary romance. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy books by Tijan, Ginger Scott or other authors who tackle deep issues.

“Wow, I love this book! A beautifully uplifting coming-of-age story with a vulnerable yet strong heroine that you cannot help but love, and an absolutely gorgeous YA romance that had my heart pounding, and a huge smile on my face.
Ally’s story captivated me from start to finish. I loved her as a character, and I thought this was a beautifully written story of family, friendship and love, of learning who you are and fighting for what you truly want.
Absolutely beautiful – 5 stars!” – The Escapist Book Blog


“You know that you have found the perfect book when you find that you can relate to the story and characters in such a way that it feels like the author could be retelling your own story. We are allowed access to the very soul of Ally, and we can feel her emotional despair, her hopes, desires and what will ultimately be life changing moments. I wept for her, felt anger for her, but I also felt moments of extreme happiness for her. The reflective message contained within the pages of this book will stay with readers of all ages.” – YA Book Divas
“This book was hella melodramatic “to the nth degree”—the amount of drama in this book could have kept a teenage soap/drama from The CW spoon-fed for a complete season.” – Goodreads Reviewer 
“SAVING ME by Sadie Allen is a beautiful story of finding strength, trusting in others and learning what love truly is, whether it is romantic or familial. Prepare to have your emotions twisted, to become angry, to smile and to have hope for the future of these characters.” – Tome Tender Book Blog
“This is a gorgeously written mature YA book – an emotional, dramatic and romantic story that deals with some pretty heavy themes, but that is also sweet, funny and uplifting. This book captivated me from start to finish, and I loved it!” – The Escapist Book Blog

Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her husband and three young children. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.


Review: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Long Way Home
Series: Thunder Road, #3
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½


Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

Utter devastation. That’s what I’m feeling right now. I am so, so sad the Thunder Road series is over. Done. Caput. No more books. Finishing Long Way Home has given me book hangover.

Long Way Home was just as amazing as the first two books in the Thunder Road series. The plot was brilliant, the characters continued to shine, and it was just so much fun to read. My experience with reading it was a little different from my experience with the first two book because I listened to them. I enjoyed both formats. I do have to admit that I did miss listening to the narrators’ accents, though. They made the first two books exceptionally fun.

Katie McGarry had to up the ante in Long Way Home. We don’t just get one Reign of Terror / Riot plot with this one, we get two. Violet and Chevy face a life changing ordeal together. It faces them to deal with lingering questions they’ve had over the years. Each forced to deal with an issue they have regarding the clubs they’re dealing with. This made Violet and Chevy’s book more stressful than the last two books.

I can’t say I was particularly a fan of Violet in the past couple of books. I felt a dedication to the Reign of Terror like the other characters did. I wanted her to get over her problems with them. Long Way Home had me rethinking my judgement of Violet. I finally understood her point and got it. She was right in a lot of ways I didn’t realize. I loved how Violet stood her ground and didn’t back down based on tradition.

Chevy was as lovable as I knew he would be. He had a happy-go-lucky feeling to him. I enjoyed getting to know him better. I loved the realizations he came to in this book. He really matured from a teenager to a young man during Long Way Home.

Violet and Chevy’s relationship had a special magic to it. They were childhood best friend, practically siblings, who grew to love each other. I hurt for them when they weren’t together, and knew how tough their decisions to be apart and together were. Their love was cemented down deep, and I couldn’t imagine them not ending up together.

As for the other series characters, don’t worry, they make appearances. There were some great moments between both Violet and Eli. I especially liked the touching moments between Violet and her mom and Eli and his mom and Cyrus.

The only slight frustration I had with Long Way Home was some unanswered questions that lingered after finishing it. I had some confusion surrounding Issac’s mother in relation to his father. I didn’t how she ended up somewhere based on his job. It didn’t add up to me. Also, who was the new prospect mentioned toward the end that was mentioned with Addison? I really needed the fourth book we didn’t get to make things clearer for me. Dang Harlequin Teen for keeping it from me! 😉

Long Way Home was everything I expected it to be. It reunited Violet and Chevy in the best way possible. It was a fitting ending for the series, even if I wanted more. I guess the sadness of losing this series will motivate me to read the rest of McGarry’s books (I didn’t really need motivation. Her writing speaks for itself.).

Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk the Edge
Series: Thunder Road, #2
Author: Katie McGarry
Narrators: Callie Dalton, Andre Eiden
Publication Date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

Last month, I listened to Katie McGarry’s Nowhere But Here. It was my first book by McGarry, and I fell in love with her writing. I couldn’t wait to continue with the Thunder Road series. Walk the Edge was just as amazing as Nowhere But Here. Everything about it was incredible.

I loved the plot of Walk the Edge! It had a similar feel to Nowhere But Here, but was completely different.  Both books are about bonds and trust between family members and friends. They’re also about the characters finding their own truths, and learning to live with what they have discovered. Oh, and falling in love. What sets each book apart is the characters and their situations. The blackmailing plot and the mystery of Razor’s mother’s death were addicting!

Razor and Breanna were extremely lovable. Razor was a young man on the edge. The mystery of his mother’s death had left a piece of him missing. He never felt like he was truly happy until he met Breanna. Breanna was the insanely smart girl who everyone knew of but few really knew. She was one of nine kids and was completely lost in the middle. The last person Breanna ever thought she would find a connection with was Razor.

Razor and Breanna seemed like an unlikely pair, but I immediately felt their connection. I loved how they became their true selves with each. There was a sweetness between them that I loved.

Just like the first book, I also fell in love (or more in love) with the rest of the characters. I grew to love the Reign of Terror family even more. I loved Razor’s relationships with Violet, Oz, Chevy, and Rebecca. Breanna’s family was harder to love. I mostly loved the younger kids, but I appreciated the roles of her older siblings and parents for what they brought to the book.

Walk the Edge was such a great book. I can’t even properly write about how much I enjoyed listening to it. The writing was amazing and addictive. I adored the characters and their story. The narrators were fantastic. I could go on and on. I can’t recommend this book and the Thunder Road series enough. I am not so patiently waiting for my library hold to come through on the third book. I can’t wait to continue the series.

Review: The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

The Last to Let Go
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: January 6, 2017
Publisher: McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, LBGTQ
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

Amber Smith’s The Way I Used to Be was one of my top reads for 2016. I couldn’t get over the fact that a début author had written such an emotionally raw book. I loved everything about that book. It touched me so deeply. I’ve been waiting for her next release from the minute I finished that book, so I was very eager to read The Last to Let Go.

Everything about The Last to Let Go was so raw. Brooke had too much to deal with in this book. Her mother killed her abusive father, she’s worried about her siblings, she’s making unexpected friends, meeting new family members, and she might just be finding love. Everything is more than she can handle. She was doing everything to hold onto her family and what she thought was important.

I felt so bad for Brooke. As much as I wanted her to get herself together, I completely understood why she was falling apart. It broke my heart. Luckily, I’ve never been in Brooke’s situation. It’s one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Obviously, I can’t relate completely with her life, but I felt like her feelings of needing to control and having a hard time letting go were something everyone can identify with at some point.

The Last to Let Go was so good — in a painful sort of way. What I mean is that it was utterly heartbreaking. Amber Smith has a way of writing that makes me feel the emotions her characters are feeling. It’s breathtaking and it’s brutal. The Last to Let Go is a book that’s going to stick with me for a long time, and it’s one I definitely recommend.

Mini Reviews: Miss Mechanic, Caraval, The Vincent Boys, The Vincent Brothers

Miss Mechanic
Author: Emma Hart
Publication Date: December 12, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½


Two mechanics. One rivalry.
She’ll prove she’s as good as she says she is.
He’ll prove her place isn’t under the hood.
It’s over it.

“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”
For twenty-six years, I lived by my daddy’s motto. Which is why “Mechanic Wanted” is all it takes for me to apply for the job at the garage we once owned.
And I meet the biggest bastard of them all.
Dexter Ryne. Hotter than Hell in July and a firm believer that my place is on reception, taking phone calls and looking pretty. Not getting dirty under the hood of a car.
Determined to prove each other wrong, we make a deal.
I have three weeks to prove my worth as a mechanic. If I don’t, I’m on telephone duty.
If I do, he’ll accept defeat and make my job permanent.
Now, all I have to do is fight my attraction to the cocky little… beep.
Problem is, an engine isn’t the only thing he knows how to make purr…

A while ago my blogger friend Cristina told me I needed to read Emma Hart’s Miss Fixit. I completely trust her opinion on books, so I immediately read it…and fell in love with it. When I heard Emma Hart was coming out with a new book, I had to pick up Miss Mechanic. Unfortunately, it took me a month or so to get to it.

I was hoping Miss Mechanic was going to be a spin-off of Miss Fixit. It wasn’t, but that ended up being okay. It was still hilarious. It made me smile and laugh so much. I adored the love-hate thing Jamie and Dex had going on. They  had such chemistry! Miss Mechanic was such a fun read. It got me out of a book slump I was in. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to readers who like romantic comedy.

Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½


Welcome, welcome to Caraval! Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

My feelings about Caraval are complicated. I enjoyed it for the most part. The world of Caraval was beautifully created and the story well crafted. My issue with it was that parts of it dragged. I felt myself getting bored right before all the big action parts. If it wasn’t for those action parts, I might have not finished the book. Which would have been sad because the ending was quite good. I also want to mention that the narrator, Rebecca Soler, was amazing.

I’m really happy I decided to listen to Caraval. It was an interesting ride!

The Vincent Boys
Series: The Vincent Boys, #1
Author: Abbi Glines
Narrators: Kirby Hayborne, Shayna, Thibodeaux
Publication Date: October, 12, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Just when you thought things couldn’t get any hotter…Beau and Ash’s sinful romance now includes super scandalizing, never-before-published scenes in this special, eBook-only companion to the steamy printed original.

There was something wicked about Beau that drew me to him. What was wrong with me? Why did I want to sin so badly?

Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it’s his cousin Beau who catches Ashton’s eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, and even though he’s dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.

Beau loves his cousin like a brother, so the last thing he wants to do is make a move on Sawyer’s girl. Ashton is off-limits, absolutely. That’s why he does his best to keep his distance, even though he’s been in love with her forever. When Ashton wants to rekindle their childhood friendship in Sawyer’s absence, Beau knows he should say no.

Ashton and Beau don’t want to hurt Sawyer. But the more they try to stay away from each other, the more intense their urges become. It’s getting way too hard to resist…

OMG. The Vincent Boys is a total guilty pleasure. I was surprised at how much I loved it. I decided to listen to it because it was the only book I was slightly interested in on Overdrive. I wasn’t sure I would like it because of the love triangle, but I did. The love triangle didn’t bother me at all. I think it was because of the nature of Sawyer and Ashton’s relationship. Plus, for most of the book Sawyer wasn’t even around. I loved Beau and Ashton together so much. If you’re looking for a fun YA contemporary romance, you should try this one out!

The Vincent Brothers
Series: The Vincent Boys, #2
Author: Abbi Glines
Narrators: Kirby Hayborne, Shayna, Thibodeaux
Publication Date: June 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Getting a boy to fall head-over-heels in love with you isn’t easy. Especially when he’s been in love with your cousin for as long as you can remember.

Lana has lived her life in her cousin’s shadow. Ashton always made perfect grades, had tons of friends, and looks model-perfect. And she’s always had Sawyer Vincent—the only boy Lana’s ever wanted—wrapped around her finger. But now things are different. Lana has a chance to make Sawyer see her, and she’s taking it. If only he’d get over Ashton—because Lana is sick of second-best.

Sawyer’s heart is broken. He’s lost his best girl to his best friend. And then Lana comes to town. Ashton’s cousin has always been sweet and soft-spoken, but now she’s drop-dead gorgeous as well. Sawyer doesn’t know if Lana can heal his broken heart, but spending time with her might at least make Ashton jealous.

What starts as a carefree fling becomes a lusty game of seduction. Sawyer and Lana may have different motives, but their scintillating hookups are the same kind of steamy. . . .

The Vincent Brothers was a great follow up to The Vincent Boys. It was just as addictive. I was so happy that Sawyer got a book. His feelings were so raw and brutal. After his loss in the first book, I wanted him to find his truth. I love that Lana was the one to help him find it.