Review: In Dreams by J. Sterling

In Dreams
Series:
The Dream, #1
Author: J. Sterling
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

When Katherine Johns starts dreaming about a boy she doesn’t know, her college roommate Taylor is determined to find him. Convinced he must exist, Taylor is relentless… until she finds out exactly WHO the mysterious stranger really is.

The realization rocks the girls to their core and sends them down a path of unimaginable heartbreak as they learn to navigate their new reality.

Follow Katherine & Taylor’s journey through love, friendship and tragedy in this emotionally captivating debut novel by J. Sterling.


A couple of weeks ago, I read Dear Heart, I Hate You. In it I got a peek of Katherine and Cooper’s relationship. There was a little mystery behind it and I had to know more, so I decided to read their story.

In Dreams really surprised me. First, the writing wasn’t as sharp as it was in Dear Heart, I Hate You. I realize now that was because In Dreams was J. Sterling’s début novel. Her writing was good, but it’s definitely become amazing over the years.

Second, it wasn’t based in reality, but fantasy. While some aspects of that fantasy were cool (fortune-teller), I would have rather it had been based in reality. The fantasy parts left me frustrated. I couldn’t understand why Kat was so wrapped up in her dreams. They were just dreams — no matter how they made her feel. It’s not like she could live life forever in her dreams. I hated the choices she was making because of them and the love triangle they created. I only liked that Kat that was grounded in reality with Cooper.

Cooper was just as awesome as I expected him to be. He was the most sought after hockey player and guy on campus, but he was so down to earth. He didn’t deserve what Kat put him through. I was surprised he took it so well and didn’t think she was crazy.

As for the other characters in the book, Taylor and Danny were a lot of fun. I loved the friendship foursome they created with Cooper and Kat. Kylie I could have done completely without. The only thing I liked was when she took charge of Cooper and Kat’s messed up situation.

So, would I recommend this book. Yeah, probably. It was a really good début novel. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had either read it prior to reading Dear Heart, I Hate You or realized it was going to be based in fantasy rather than reality prior to reading it.

 

 

Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

The Bird and the Sword
Author:
Amy Harmon
Publication Date: May 11, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Synopsis:

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Beautiful.

That’s the word the comes to mind whenever I read an Amy Harmon novel. It doesn’t matter what genre it is or what the story is about, the writing is always flawlessly beautiful. The words she weaves bring emotions to life in a way that’s hard to describe.

If you know me or my blog you’re probably tired of hearing me say this, but I am not a Fantasy reader. I have a harder time getting into and staying interested in them. That was not the case with The Bird and the Sword. I was immediately pulled into the story by the words and the imagery they created. I was fascinated with the characters and found myself not wanting to put the book down.

I loved Lark. She may have seemed timid and weak, but there was way more to her than meets the eye. Her inability to speak played such a special role in the story. I enjoyed seeing her character grow and change throughout the book.

Tiras surprised me in several different ways. I didn’t expect to love his character as much as I did. Or maybe I just expected it to take longer to fall for him. His relationship with Lark was complex and multifaceted. They need each other in so many different ways. I loved how their relationship drove the story.

The world Amy Harmon created was filled with all sorts of amazing characters. I could easily imagine a sequel or spin-off to this story revolving around any one of them. I would especially love to read about Kjell. There was so much potential in his character!

If you’re curious about this book, a Fantasy lover or just someone who enjoy brilliant writing, I would highly suggest The Bird and the Sword. I was truly fascinated by the story and the characters.

 

Review: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

The Neverland Wars

Author: Audrey Greathouse

Publication Date: May 9, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling 

Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.


  ★ ★ ★ 


The Neverland Wars takes the reader on a return journey to Peter Pan‘s Neverland. Gwen, a teenager who would rather spend time telling her younger sister stories than wearing makeup, isn’t aware magic exists in the world. When her sister goes missing, their parents are forced to tell Gwen that magic rules the world and her sister has been abducted by none other than the mythical Peter Pan. Gwen is completely shocked and extremely worried about her sister.

Gwen doesn’t have much time to wallow in her fear because soon Peter and her sister have returned to fly Gwen back to Neverland with them. Gwen only goes to keep an eye on her sister, but finds herself enchanted with Neverland. But Neverland isn’t the safe, happy place it should be. There’s a war brewing between Gwen’s world and Peter’s Neverland. Soon, she’s forced to make the decision to grow up in her world or stay eternally young in Peter’s.

My favorite thing about The Neverland Wars was Audrey Greathouse’s writing style. I was enchanted by her vision of Neverland. I could easily imagine what it looked like through Gwen’s eyes. The descriptions were very vivid and really cool. The characters fit perfectly in this setting, especially Gwen with her hesitance to leave childhood behind. I also loved the way magic was woven into the real world setting. It was fun to read.

My least favorite thing about it was the war plot. With it being part of the title, it wasn’t included in as much of the story as I expected. When it was, it just felt kind of thrown in. I never felt like the war was explained well enough. I also felt a little confused by Gwen’s return trip home and the party at the end of the book. I couldn’t tell if it was setting things up for a sequel or if Gwen’s decision at the end was the end. That being said, The Neverland Wars was still a fun read.

Teenage fans of Peter Pan will like returning to Neverland in Audrey Greathouse’s The Neverland Wars. It’s a good, “clean” fairy tale retelling that can be enjoyed by ages.

 

Review: All of It by Kim Holden

Title: All of It

Author: Kim Holden

Publication Date: November 24, 2013

Publisher: Do Epic, LLC

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old VERONICA SMITH has it all: a loving family, a funky car named Jezebel, and a plan to go to college after graduation. On the first day of senior year, she meets DIMITRI GLENN–a mysterious transfer student with gray eyes and a mischievous smile who seems determined to win her heart. But there’s something odd about Dimitri, leading Veronica to wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye. Before long, she finds herself in a whirlwind romance that seems too good to be true–until a series of devastating events leaves her questioning everything. It’s not until she chooses to think with her heart instead of her mind that she can rise from the ashes to learn the truth of their connection.


 ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


I’m really struggling with my feelings about All of It. It was written by one of my favorite authors, Beth Flynn. Her novel Bright Side is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the follow up to it, Gus. I wanted to enjoy All of It just as much. I didn’t.

All of It was a struggle for me to read from the beginning. I had a hard time getting into the story. (I even set it aside for a couple of months.) I just didn’t connect with the main characters, Ronnie and Dimitri. Ronnie was annoying. The way she spoke and acted didn’t remind me of a high school senior at all. Dimitri was kind of creepy at first. He was way too forward, and Ronnie was way too accepting of it for having basically no experience with guys. If a guy talked to me the way Dimitri talked to Ronnie after only knowing me for a week, I would be avoiding him. I didn’t get their insta-love. I also didn’t get the way they talked to each other. They sounded way too mature and formal for teenagers.

Somewhere around the sixth or seventh chapter, I began to get into the story. As Ronnie and Dimitri’s relationship progressed, I began to like them more. It lasted like a minute because the story moves forward in time and Ronnie’s making really dumb decisions. Decisions we have take her word on because we didn’t see any of it happen. She just tells us. When she finally comes to her senses and I start liking the story again, not one, not two, not three but FOUR deaths take place. That was pretty crazy. Of course, Ronnie can’t handle it (Who could?) and Dimitri has to save her.

Through all the depressing craziness, the bright light in the story is Dimitri. He has her back. He stands by her when he probably shouldn’t. It was sweet and I loved how he got Ronnie back on track.

But then the story jumps time again. Now, it’s 20 years in the future. Ronnie catches us up on what’s happened and where she is now in her life. This is when the biggest mystery of the book is revealed. It’s also my favorite part of the book. Ronnie and Dimitri’s connection was so cool. I wish the rest of the story would have been as cool. I want to say the journey was worth it to get to the ending, but I’m not sure it was.

Obviously, I didn’t love All of It. I wanted to because, hello, it’s Kim Holden’s. It had a couple of amazing parts, but the rest was just so-so. I had to remind myself that it was her first book. If I put it in that perspective, it’s a pretty good debut novel. It just wasn’t phenomenal like Bright Side. So, it falls somewhere around 3 stars for me.

 

Review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

23174274Title: Glass Sword

Series: Red Queen, #2

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Goodreads Synopsis:

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.


3 / 5 Stars


A while back I answered a book tag question that asked whether I thought books were character or plot driven. I answered character driven because, for me, the main character is one of the pieces of the puzzle that either makes or breaks a book. If I’m reading something through a character’s eyes who is boring or annoying, it can ruin or make a book less satisfying for me. That’s kind of what happened with Glass Sword.

Mare Barrow was so annoying in Glass Sword that at times I wanted to put the book down. Her self-centered outlook and trust issues drove me crazy. There’s only so many times you can read “Anyone can betray anyone.” and not want to hurl the book against the wall. Even the author must have felt this because it was pointed out to Mare more than once during the story.

As for the storyline, at times it was amazing and action packed. Other times, it was slow going and boring. It couldn’t seem to find a happy medium. The new characters were exciting and added a lot of interesting things to the story. The old characters continued to entertain me and keep Mare on her feet.

In my opinion, what made Glass Sword worth reading was the ending. I didn’t see it coming at all. Victoria Aveyard gets an A++ in cliffhangers because, after struggling through most of Glass Sword, I still desperately want to read the next book.

 

Review: Sex Lies & Fruit Flies by Paullina Nichols

28432783Title: Sex Lies & Fruit Flies

Series: Sex Lies & Fruit Flies

Author: Paullina Nichols

Publication Date: January 1, 2016

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, Erotic Romance, New Adult

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Nurse Morgan Jacobs is ordered to tend to the wounds of an injured detective, Francis Wyatt (Wyatt), she is taken aback by his arrogance, yet undeniably attracted to the beautiful man conceitedly pursuing her. Morgan tries fighting her overwhelming feelings for Wyatt in an effort to keep her secret past hidden. With Wyatt refusing to take no for an answer, he chases her until she finally breaks and lets him into her world. He’s astounded by Morgan’s secret, but agrees to keep it and protect her at all cost.

Morgan has never been in love before and she can’t explain her feelings for this man that she knows she is forbidden to be with. Unable to stay away from him any longer she gives into her new found freedom and risks it all as she knows her past and present colliding could mean the end of everything.

Morgan turns Wyatt’s life upside down and shines light on secrets he didn’t know he had. Their affair was dangerous, but that didn’t stop them. They agreed that the ecstasy they shared when they were together was worth dying for.


3 / 5 Stars


Paranormal romance isn’t the romance genre I normally reach for. I’m a realistic fiction reader, so getting into Sex Lies & Fruit Flies took me a while. I had to get used to the mermaid aspect of the story, which was more interesting than I expected it to be (to me). It was a really creative and well thought out storyline.

Morgan and Wyatt had a very strong connection. Morgan instantly trusted Wyatt to protect her and her secrets. They also had a very sensual relationship – both in human and mermaid form. I have to be honest. The mermaid-human sex creeped me out a little. Their other sexual encounters were hot.

Another little thing that bugged me at the beginning of Sex Lies & Fruit Flies was Morgan’s first person point of view. I think it might have been the way she was explaining her life up until that point to the reader rather than just delving into what was happening now. I was also a little surprised when I got a couple of chapter’s with Wyatt’s point of view toward the end.

My favorite part of Sex Lies & Fruit Flies was the last fourth of the book when there’s a big twist and a lot of suspense. How the story ended really intrigued me and had me wondering what was going to happen next.

Oh, and I can’t leave out the fact that the cover and title are a perfect match for the story!

If you’re a paranormal romance reader who loves mermaid tales filled with erotic and suspenseful scenes, you should pick up Sex Lies & Fruit Flies.

**I received an electronic copy of Sex Lies & Fruit Flies from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Review: Six of Crows

23437156Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.


My rating: 5 / 5 Stars


Six of Crows in one word: EPIC.

I read somewhere that Six of Crows is Oceans 11 meets A Game of Thrones. I couldn’t agree more. The plot was amazing. It had a criminal mission like Oceans 11 and a cool world and multiple view points like A Game of Thrones. There were also so many surprises I didn’t see coming. And I love being surprised!

What really made this book outstanding, though; was its characters. They were all so different and interesting. I loved reading their backstories. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. It didn’t matter that they were criminals. I wanted them to succeed and find the happiness they were all searching for.

Six of Crows is surrounded by a lot of hype. In my opinion, it’s worthy of said hype. I more than loved this book. I don’t have the words to even describe how I felt about it. I’m going to be telling everyone (inlcuding you!) to READ.THIS.BOOK.

Side note: I borrowed an electronic copy of Six of Crows from my local library. I really wish I would have borrowed a physical copy for two reasons:

1) I would have liked to have been able to flip back to the maps at the front of the book while reading the story.

2) I didn’t realize the story was going to end at 85% completion. There are acknowledgements and a sneak peak of Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy at the end. I thought I had more story but got a cliffhanger instead!