Recent Reads

I’ve been on a reading spree lately where I finish one book and dive right into another.  This is wonderful of course, but it also means I haven’t been stopping to write reviews after I read each book.  Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing, but for me I need to write the review soon after finishing otherwise I forget what I want to say.  So here are some mini-reviews of recent reads that I never wrote actual reviews for.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.27.26 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.48.39 PM

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

*no rating*


Well. I read it.

The End.

JK

I don’t review Classics and I rarely rate them because I don’t really have anything meaningful to add to a book that has been critiqued and evaluated for 100s of years. Also,   how am I supposed to rate this?? Obviously it’s an extremely important work of literature to have such lasting power but honestly?  I was bored. As I usually am when I read classics.  I mostly listened to it because every time I tried to slog through 19th century text I felt my eyes closing. But I did finish it and that is all that matters. I have officially read my first Austen novel and finished the first month of the Classics challenge. So that is all that really matter. Also, I didn’t hate it.  It wasn’t Ethan Frome  bad and I will probably read more Jane Austen, but not for a few months.

*this book goes towards the 2016 Classics Challenge*

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.png

theroguenottaken

The Rogue Not Taken 

Scandal & Scoundrel, #1

Sarah MacLean

2015

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


The 4 star rating is a bit arbitrary because this is my first ever Adult Historical Romance, so I have nothing to compare it to!  I really enjoyed the book, so I defineitly plan on exploring more of the genre, so who knows, this could end up becoming  a 5 or a 2 star book!

It’s been about a week since I read the book and unfortunately, I did not take any notes while reading. (I find it often distracts me from the novel and lowers my level of enjoyment).  So while I remember the plot and the general demeanor of the characters a lot has already faded.

I do know that I thought Sophie was a wonderful character.  From the first page when she defended her sister I knew I would like her.  She was funny, smart, and ready to take care of herself even if she did often end up being rescued.

For the most part, I did also enjoy King.  However, he might have been a bit too broody for my taste.  Give me sarcasm all day long but you need to stop whining about your dead love.  Plus he became a huge dick towards Sophie at the end.  And he refused to believe she was being honest throughout the entire book.  He did have his moments, which saves him from going on my “WTF Love Interest” shelf.

The romance, when King wasn’t being a brooding little bitch, was wonderful. I’m glad my first foray into historical romance was a success and I will definitely be checking out Sarah MacLean’s other work. If you guys have any suggestions of other authors or favorite novels let me know! I’m ready to get sucked into this genre!

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.49.46 PM

The Iron Daughter

The Iron Fey #2

Julie Kagawa

2.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


That 2.5 rating is all due to Meghan and how ridiculously annoying and stupid she was in this book.  This review comes off a bit like a rant, but I really did enjoy the plot of this book.  I just HAVE to complain about Meghan.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Meghan in the first book BUT OH MY GOD. She was so annoying in this one. So obsessed with Ash and so stupid. He literally tells her that he will not be able to talk to her and treat her the same way because he can not betray his queen (um DOUCHE ALERT).  I also remember them talking in the 1st book and both of them acknowledging that it is HIGHLY illegal for them to be together and they could both be killed or banished because of it.  But what does  Meghan do the first time she sees him? Gets SUPER upset and complains for what felt like 5 hours about how she can’t believe he would betray her and believes that he never cared about her.  I HATE HATE HATE when characters are this stupid.  YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS.   HE LITERALLY TOLD YOU ALL THIS.

And don’t get me started on that weak attempt at a love triangle. “Oh Ash is leaving me. How about I try it with Puck because he’s here and he loves me  and I realize out of no where, with no prior indication, that I love him too”. Nope. Get out of here.  First of all Puck is 500x better than broody Ash and he doesn’t deserve for you to do that to him.

But, as I said,  I do actually really enjoy the plot of this series so I will continue to put up with dumbass Meghan and hope she gets better in the last book (or last 2 books I’m still confused about the Iron Knight).

*this book goes to the 2016 Audiobook challenge

Reviewing the Sequel: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.27.26 AM

untold

 

Untold

The Lynburn Legacy #2

Sarah Rees Brennan

2013

3.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


It’s time to choose sides….

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.


Some spoilers for the first book.

So since the last book, Kami and Jared have broken the link between them, Jared hates her and Kami has no power. Rob is raising a Sorcerer army, and Lillian wants nothing to do with Kami, Ash, or Jared.

This was another reread for me.

This was my original review:

not as good as the first one, but I have hope for the third. I don’t really consider Kami Jared Ash to be a love triangle because it’s obvious at this point that she really doesn’t care for Ash the way she does Jared. There is no competition at this point. Also, where the fuck is Kami’s mom and why does she suck so much?

It wasn’t as good as the first one, but I think I will change my original 3 star rating to 3.5. I still really enjoyed the book, it’s just not much really happened. It was kind of a filler book, with a weak battle scene at the end. There was a lot of relationship drama and SO MUCH could have been avoided if Kami and Jared had just had a conversation where neither jumped to conclusions about what the other one wanted/meant.

Again, the characters make this book, and again Kami comes out as the true winner.

She cried quietly, hands pressed to her eyes, and as she cried she was almost relieved. Here she was, lonely and miserable, and she was still going to go into the gym and do what needed to be done. She had wondered who she was without Jared, stripped of all her supports and forced to stand on her own. She had worried that she would break if her heart broke, but she wasn’t broken. She had lost everything, but she was not lost.

NOW THIS IS HOW YOU HANDLED A BREAK UP.   Honestly, I don’t think I can think of another book, especially a paranormal romance book where a character so maturely handles a break up. Honestly, for all it’s faults, this one paragraph alone makes up for a lot of the bullshit drama. Kami NEVER lets the fact that she is upset over a break up stand in her way. I mean, that is seriously bad ass. At her age, I would have taken a day or two off from trying to fight evil. But NOPE. Not Kami. And that is why she is possibly one of my favorite heroines ever.

Oh, and lets not forget about the fact that throughout this book, Kami is literally powerless. Yes she was a source in the first book, and was at some points able to control the magic, but she has lost that link. All she has is her brains and her mouth and she kicks serious ass. I mean, not exactly in the fight scene that comes at the end, but just in general. She doesn’t need special magic powers to be awesome. And I love that.

The other characters were just as awesome, with the exception of Jared. He was funny again, but way too melodramatic. And I really hate Kami’s mom. She is completely useless as a human being. Jon Glass for the win. Rusty Montgomery was another winner in this book. I just love him so much. I really want Kami to forget the Lynburns and be with him, but you know…platonic friendships are cool…I guess.

Ooh, just something else, the book actually mentions bisexuals!! An actual mention, which is almost unheard of in, ANY form of entertainment.

All in all, I enjoy these books mostly for the characters. Untold read almost a bit too much like a filler book and the drama was a bit much, but I would still totally recommend it.  I am super excited to FINALLY read the last book and find out once and for all how this all ends!

s2f

A Not So Happy Ending: DNF Report of Bookishly Ever After

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.33.43 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.35.26 PM

 

Bookishly Ever After

Ever After #1

Isabel Bandeira

Publication: 1/12/2016

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

*No Rating*

Goodreads

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?


**I started reading this book and then I got sick which messed everything up.  I seem to have lost my notes, so this isn’t exactly a real review.  Well, it’s not a real review anyway since I DNFed it**

I am simply too old to enjoy this book. I stopped reading at 47%.

First of all, nothing is happening plot wise.  She goes to school, work and band practice, she reads and talks with her friends. Nothing else has happened. And the romance? I like a slow burn romance, but this is taking it way too far.   Too much of them just flirting and then Phoebe freaking out and then more flirting and freaking, on and on.  And I’m not even half way through! What the hell else could happen in the next 50% to make up for the fact that I wasted so much of my time watching them flirt and Phoebe freak out over it.  Apparently they go to a camp at some point?  That isn’t even really explained because it’s winter?

I really liked Dev. He seemed extremely sweet and nerdy in the most adorable way.

I wish I had liked Phoebe.  She comes off as incredibly juvenile and naive.  I hate when I have to remind myself that a character is 16 and not 12.   And she was kind of really annoying. She is constantly jumping to conclusions and that IS SO ANNOYING.  I just wanted to shake her. In fact, when she saw Dev talking to another girl and INSTANTLY wanted to cry because of COURSE he couldn’t like Phoebe! He’s totally into this other girl! And then she runs off and cries, I was done.  Yeah, I get that sometimes when you’re 16 you may think these things.  But it is up to the ADULT writer to tell the teenager reading that THIS IS STUPID. DO NOT DO THIS. Like come on. Let us share some of the wisdom we have gained in the decade (well for me anyway) it’s been since we were 16.  God, I’ve learned so much.  Anyway.

I did like that she had some out there hobbies and interests, like archery and knitting. Those aren’t things you see is YA very often.  But I just couldn’t connect with her at all because, honestly, it felt as if she was 12 years old.

And don’t even get me started on Em. What an obnoxious, horrible friend. Ugh I could not stand her one little bit.

I’m sure this ends adorably, but I’m already behind on my reading schedule, so I’m giving up.  I’m just not that interested.  From what I’ve read, I would still totally recommend it, but probably to the younger set of YA readers.

Also…where could this series possibly be going?? Are there going to be 2 other books focused on Phoebe? Or are they going to follow around 2 other equally naive girls?

Retelling a Classic: ARC review of Teen Frankenstein

acharmedreview

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 1.51.44 PM.png

Teen Frankenstein

High School Horror # 1

Chandler Baker

Publication: 1/12/16

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost–Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life…

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

 


 

I’ve never read Frankenstein. Actually, it is on my list of books to read for the Classics challenge I am participating in in 2016. But since it is one of the most famous novels ever written, of course I know the gist of the story.  Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates a “monster”, who everyone always labels as Frankenstein. I’m not sure if in the book he brings together a bunch of different body parts from different dead people or just brings back a dead body back to life, but Teen Frankenstein has a bit of both.

Victor is now Victoria, or Tor Frankenstein.  She is extremely smart, something that separates her from the majority of her podunk Texas (? I think) town.  She and her friend Owen have been experimenting on animals, trying to use electricity to bring them back to life, but nothing seems to be working.  Then one rainy night, Victoria hits a boy with her car and he dies.  Instead of doing the normal thing, and you know, calling for help and explaining what happened, she has the brilliant idea that maybe the reason the experiments were failing is because the subjects were too small! She decides that the newly dead boy is the perfect new specimen. And it works.

But he has no memory of his previous life, no ability to feel pain, and what seems to be the mental capacity of a toddler…So they decide to name him Adam and enroll him in high school the very next day.  I’m not even going to go into how crazy I think this whole beginning is. I mean, beyond the fact that she killed someone, covered the crime up and stole a corpse, she then decides it will be a good idea to enroll it in high school??? I get that she needs to see if her experiment can succeed in assimilating into society, but the very next day???  But fine. I’ll look past that. Suspension of belief and all that.

Adam, who again, has the ability to talk, and walk and even play football, is extremely child like, but of course, everyone loves him. He joins the football team, gets a girlfriend and makes friends, all to the delight of Tor, his creator.  And then boys start being murdered all over the town and people are pointing fingers at the new kid and Tor doesn’t know what to think.

I am having such a hard time writing an actual review of this book.  The plot was pretty basic and the murder mystery was pretty bland. It wasn’t a bad book; I did enjoy reading it and I did end up giving it 3 stars.  I’m just having a hard time putting my thoughts into words.  So instead of even trying to write an actual review, I’ll focus on Tor.

Before I get to Tor, however, I have to mention her best friend, Owen.  Owen was the saving grace of this book. He was hilarious and without him there would have been no one around to humanize Tor.  The only reason I even considered liking her was because of her relationship with Owen.

The entire time I was reading this book I kept going back and forth about whether I liked Tor or not. What I liked most about her was her sense of humor.  I love a good, sarcastic dry humor.  But there was always something that kept me from liking her.  You might think it was how judgemental she was and how she thought she was better than everybody, but honestly that didn’t even bother me that much.  I think it was the way that she continuously referred to Adam as hers or as the “experiment”, or how she kept forgetting that she had KILLED someone and that’s why she had this new “experiment” and that he was once an actual human being.  That he might still in fact be an actual, human being, only a bit living challenged.  And that ending.  It wasn’t a cliffhanger exactly, and it was pretty great.  It definitely cemented every feeling I had about Tor.  I can’t tell you though.  Spoilers.

All in all, it was an interesting book and I think it was a pretty good introduction into Frankenstein.  I do plan on continuing with the series, although it’s not a real series, but more of a bunch of companion novels.  I’m guessing they will be other modern day retellings of classic horror stories.

 

My first DNF of 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.33.43 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-17 at 6.43.59 PM

Zero Day

Jan Gangsei

Publication: 1/12/16

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

*no rating*

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?


 

I’m going to be honest. This DNF is a direct result of a book slump.  Even though I know I shouldn’t have, I tried and forced myself to continue reading when I was simply not in the mood and I have taken it out on the book. There are a bunch of glowing reviews on Goodreads but this was not the right time for me to read this.  I might go back to it when I am not so bitter at my lack of desire to read.

I made it 41% and I’m just not feeling it. I’m bored and I honestly don’t care what Addie is hiding. There are multiple POV and random ones at that.  I mean I don’t care about the police officer whose car was attacked by Cerberus.  It’s just a weak way to create suspense. I always feel like random POV shifts are cop outs for bad storytelling unless you find a really interesting way to do so. And Addie and Darrow are supposed to be the MCs and I swear by 41% of the book, it seems to focus way more on these random POVs.

Also so far the hackers have shown that yes they are able to hack into a bunch of shit but they haven’t actually harmed anyone so I’m not sure why everyone is freaking out.  Well no. I get why everyone is freaking out I just think they are a really lame “Big Bad” so far.  Not that I want them to be killing people, but murder does always up the suspense!!   Whether Addie is a part of this or not should be like a burning question but I just don’t care.

And Addie. I mean she was kidnapped. She was kept from her family for 8 years. She is possibly involved with the domestic terrorists.  And she is extremely blah.  She has no personality.  She is an unreliable narrator and she LOVES to point it out to us.

“You know, like Adele, the singer.”

“Oh. I don’t know her,” Addie said even as “Rolling in the Deep” started looping through her mind.

I would have loved to have more focus on the fact that SHE WAS KIDNAPPED and she is possibly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or she has been completely turned evil by her captors. But I don’t care because she has absolutely no personality. Where is her suffering? Where is her turmoil over being reunited with her family and the fact that she is possibly trying to bring down her father’s administration?

And Darrow is just as boring.  Yeah he was the last person to see Addie before she was kidnapped, but is really realistic that he is basically in love with her when they meet again at 16?  Both of them have this weird insta-love thing going on, all based on the fact that they were friends when they were 8.  Also, his secrets the government agent is threatening to expose?  As far as I got into the book, they were pretty weak secrets and would not be that big of a deal if it got out.

Honestly, at this point Addie’s sister Elinor is my favorite character and she isn’t even actually in the book yet because she is away at rehab.

I just don’t have the patience to finish this book at the moment.  I wish I had waited to read it but now I’m just annoyed.  I will admit that it does provide one of the most accurate descriptions of DC, which is always appreciated.

ETA: I survived the book slump!  I am almost back in full swing with my reading (of course it took reading a “just for fun” type book.  I did go back and try to read this again.  I got up to 54% and I still wasn’t feeling it.  It’s just not all that interesting and there are way more exciting ARCs/books I already own I could be reading.  I still might go back to it eventually. 

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.58.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 5.09.10 PM

 

This is Where it Ends

Marieke Nijkamp

Publication: 1/5/16

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.23.39 AM

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

*I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.*


 

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.


 

I don’t like to read books about serious subjects. When I read I want to be taken to a place where I don’t have to face problems and issues that we already see too much of everyday. That is why I don’t like books about disease/death, rape/abuse or even really mental illness or suicide. I get that these books are important and totally support them being written and other people reading them, I would rather just read a book where all of the worlds problems are disguised in terms of magic and whatnot.

So, for the life of me I don’t know why I requested This is Where it Ends, a book where the plot is told over 54 in the midst of a school shooting. I had no plans on actually reading it. And then I decided to make a blog and to dedicate myself to reading all of the ARCs I was lucky enough to be granted (future ARCs, that is. The ones from last year will probably continue to sit on my kindle).

So I went into this book knowing it wasn’t a subject I wanted to read about. I’d like to add that when I do decide to venture into the realistic, difficult topic type books, I expect to be destroyed. I want to be sobbing in a ball by the end of the book. Or I want to be so angry that I could rage for hours. Or my head to hurt from all the thinking the book forced me to do.

And all I feel right now is indifference. Ok, my eyes got a bit blurry at the end, but the rest of the time I was reading? I felt nothing. Actually, I was bored. Every time I “turned” the page, I had to tell myself not to DNF it. That a book with such a delicate topic deserved to be read. That these voices deserved to be heard.

But I kind of wish I DNFed it around 50% when I first wanted to.

I didn’t exactly expect it, but the synopsis told me this would be the ultimate game of survival. And while it was, because it was told from the POV of 4 different victims, it was still boring. It was basically a bunch of flashbacks so that readers can understand what made these four narrators special and their relationship to, Tyler, the shooter.

Autumn: Tyler’s sister. An aspiring ballerina with an abusive father.

Sylvia: Autumn’s girlfriend. POC. Mother is very ill. Tyler has it out for her for “stealing” and “corrupting” his sister

Tomas: Sylvia’s twin brother. Has gotten into fights with Tyler and knows Tyler did something that made his sister terrified of him. Is a lovable troublemaker.

Claire: Tyler’s ex girlfriend. ROTC member, does her duty. Has a brother with Lupus.

See these characters are so wonderful. And so, so boring.

Obviously a book with such an important topic doesn’t have to be non-stop action for it to be worthwhile, but I just couldn’t get over how bored I was.  I could barely tell the characters apart and there wasn’t a single one that I actually connected with.  Maybe I can’t connect with them because I have, thankfully, never experience anything as harrowing as this, but I should feel something for them.  And I didn’t. If I didn’t have their names right up there I probably wouldn’t even remember them.

There was quite a bit of romance that I was not expecting for a book about a school shooting.  Half the time the characters were going on and on about their love lives. And yeah, I’m sure it’s impossible not to think about the people you love in times of crisis, but it just went a bit too far in this book.

I have seen a few other reviewers mention that Tyler is presented as almost entirely evil .  And I would kind of have to agree.  It wasn’t my main issue with the book, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it and that it  didn’t detract from my overall feelings for the book.

Sidetrack here, but the thing I love most about the Game of Thrones series (ASOIF) is that there are such wonderfully complex, morally grey characters. Every time I read it, it reminds me that we don’t live in a world of Good vs Evil. It’s human vs human. In the wise words of some character in Harry Potter (can’t remember for the life of me): “the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.” And this book doesn’t take either of those ideas into consideration.

So if there was ever a time to see someone like Tyler’s POV, this book would be it.  Instead we are presented with pretty much just an evil kid hellbent on revenge. Actually, just go read  Nenia Campbell’s review. I agree with everything she says and she does so  way better than I can.  Presenting the shooter in this way does nothing to help us understand how/why school shootings happen or how we can help prevent them.

Also, a lot of what bothered me about this book was that I couldn’t get a clear image in my head of what was going on. And it has nothing to do with the fact that in times of crisis things blur together. I think it had less to do with the fact that it was told from 4 different POV, and more to do with that it is told within 2-4 minute increments, with each character retelling the same events in some cases. An example is when Autumn is walking towards her brother in the auditorium, and it goes on for like 15 pages where he hasn’t noticed her and she is still walking.  I’m probably not explaining it right, it just bothered me.

So I gave this book a 2. I was strongly in the 1 camp for the majority of it, but it did make me tear up and I did end up finishing it, so I didn’t exactly hate it. I was just disappointed.

ARC Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

acharmedreview

passenger1

 

Passenger

Passenger #1

Alexandra Bracken

Publication: 1/5/2016

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


 passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever


*I feel like I should start off my review by saying that I am completely and totally biased when it comes to this book.  I LOVE books with time travel. That totally might influcence by ability to write an objective review*

With that said, I really did enjoy this book.  It actually reminded me a lot of the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier (which is one of my favorites)  only, expanded.  Etta and Nicholas go all over the world and through all these different time periods, which was really, really cool.

I think the plot started off a bit slow in the present day and even once Etta arrived in the 18th Century.  I feel like there was too much time spent on the ship.  I get that these scenes held character development, but it slowed the book down.  Once Etta and Nicholas escape into the past again, that’s where the story picks up.  And it was awesome.  It was jam packed with action, as well as wonderful worldbuilding and even more character development.

And I loved being transported  to the different years and locations and I think Bracken did a wonderful job of bringing everything to life. Some periods were stronger than others, but I did feel as if I were in the middle of the Bltiz in London, or in the jungle in Cambodia.  She paints vivid scenes, and in a book like this that’s what you really need.

I really enjoyed that the plot and the characters discussed the difficulties (which is putting it very mildly) that both women and people of color faced throughout history.  And not just in the 18th century.  Even when they go to 1940s London they have to assess their situation to see how appropriate their behaviors are for the the time period. I also appreciated that it didn’t shy away from, not only the sexism and racism of the past, but acknowledged that we don’t live in some beautiful Utopia where everyone is finally equal.

Etta is a strong heroine.  She can take care of herself, even in the past in worlds she should be totally lost in. When she is thrown into the past, moments after her mentor is brutally murdered, she doesn’t break down (which is kind of a let down.  I don’t know about you, but if I had just seen the dead body of someone close to me and THEN I was brought back to the 1700s I think I would freak out a little) but I guess it just goes to show Etta is more composed than I am.  She stands up for what she believes in and is quick to point out the injustices of not only the past, but the present.

I couldn’t really get as strong as a read on Nicholas.  There are so many different aspects that influence his personality: he’s a freed slave; it’s a pirate (legally); he’s the bastard son of a rich and powerful white man, and he was separated from his mother at a young age. He is as strong willed and stubborn as Etta and hates being a pawn in the game of his powerful grandfather.

The romance was a bit meh.  It was sort of insta-lovey, but not really at the same time.  And I’m always quicker to ignore insta-love in cases where two characters are thrown together in dangerous situations.  I feel like if they are going through all of this shit together, relying on each other to survive and whatnot, it’s no surprise that they would fall in love.  I guess it was just the beginning of their romance, which is always the most passionate coupled with the fact that they are from such different times and may lose each other forever which stops me from hating on it.

There were some issues that I feel like probably might be bigger deals to other readers (but as I said, I love time travel books so I’m willingly to look past a lot).

I was very confused about the science (magic?) behind their abilities but I usually am when it comes to time travel books.  It didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the reading (maybe because I just accept that I am not smart enough when it comes to physics (??) to understand that type of stuff).  Also, by the end of the book I had a more concrete understanding, but even so it wasn’t all explained.  I basically just told myself that I would have to re-read it which I will, because there is no way I will be able to go into the sequel in a year without rereading it.

It also suffered from some things that do annoy me in books: Etta’s totally and complete acceptance within 5 minutes that she can time travel, which I already mentioned.  I guess once you’ve already done it has to be easier to believe, but still. And the fact that everyone gets angry at her for not knowing the laws of time travelling. LIKE HELLO she just learned about it yesterday.

But even with those issues, I still loved it.  I still can’t wait for the sequel because that ending was just so cruel!

Sanctuary Bay by Melinda Metz and Laura J Burns

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.58.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 6.08.06 PM

Sanctuary Bay

Laura J, Burns & Melinda Metz

Publication: 1/19/16

Source: Netgalley e-ARC

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.24.01 AM

Goodreads | Amazon |The Book Depository

*I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.*


 

 

This was my WOW post a few weeks ago. I love boarding school stories and I was really hoping for a creepy, atmospheric read.   While it wasn’t exactly creepy, I think the authors did a great job at bringing the setting to life.

Sanctuary Bay Academy is the most elite prep school in the country. Located on an island off the coast of Maine, once you arrive, there is no leaving. Total immersion is how the school describes the situation. There is no contact with the outside world until you graduate. But when you graduate you are almost guaranteed a spot, and probably a scholarship, to your pick of Ivy League colleges. And for Sarah Merson, a foster kid who has been tossed around the system, the school is a godsend. It is her best shot at securing a better life for herself. So she goes all in and decides there is nothing she wouldn’t do to better the chance of achieving that future. But she soon discovers that not everything is as it seems. There are secrets within the walls of Sanctuary Bay and it is up to Sarah to find out the truth.

For the most part, I liked Sarah. She’s bi-racial, half black and half white. In fact, a lot of the characters in the novel are POC, which is a nice change. They didn’t seem to be tokenized either. Sarah’s had a rough upbringing. Thanks to her eidetic memory she is able to remember in full detail her parent’s brutal murder and sometimes suffers from flashbacks where she is totally immersed in memories from the past. There are brief mentions of sexual abuse at the hands of foster families, although it’s brushed over pretty quickly. I said for the most part I liked her, because her poor-me attitude did get a bit tiresome. She of course has every right to be angry with her lot in life, but she has a hard time recognizing that other students, even the rich, more privileged ones could have hard upbringings too.

There was a little bit of romance, and even a possible love-square situation, but it’s not really focused on that much. In fact, around 30% through the book things get weird and any real romance is set aside.

It’s hard for me to talk about the other characters without giving away plot details, but I will say that I did like Ethan, her roommate’s boyfriend. Yeah he comes off as an ass, but sometimes those are my favorite types. Plus, he’s not really as jerky as he seems.

It’s a “psychological thriller” but it’s also a lot more than that. There were many different turns in this story. It started off as one thing and ended up somewhere completely different. Towards the end I kind of guessed where it was headed, but if you had told me within the first 20% of the book I probably would have been shocked.

The writing style kept me engaged throughout all of it. I gave it 3 stars, so I did enjoy reading it, but there was a lot that felt off. There were a lot of questions I had that were kind of answered, but also not really at the same time. And the ending is definitely set up for a sequel. In fact, if there isn’t a sequel, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest that there will be, I would totally move this down to a 2 star rating. If there ends up being a sequel I would probably feel better about that nagging feeling.

 

 

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.58.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 7.17.41 PM.png

Belle Epoque

Elizabeth Ross

2013

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.24.18 AM

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.


I understood something I will never forget: how I wished to arrest all the beauty that came before me. Not the classical beauty of symmetry and exact proportions or the fancy of fashion, which is ever-changing with the seasons, but the beauty of a soul, that inner life that reveals itself so seldom, just for an instant, and only if you look closely and learn to see with an open heart.

When she discovers that her father is planning to marry her off to the butcher, a man 20 years her senior, Maude decides to run away. After years of wanting to see the world and all it has to offer, she takes the train to Paris. She envisions herself working in a shop, and being the independent young woman that was becoming popular in the late 19th century. But with no references and her village upbringing, her dreams are soon dashed.

Desperate for work, she finds herself applying for a job with Monsieur Durandeau. Once she discovers that she was hired as a repoussoir, an ugly women rented by high society women in order to make themselves look better, she is rightfully horrified and humiliated. She leaves and tries to find “honest” work but when things get desperate she finds herself on Durandeau’s doorstep once more asking for the job.

She is hired by the Countess Dubern, to be her daughter’s companion through the Season. The Countess hopes that by having Maude next to Isabelle will only work to highlight Isabelle’s beauty and help catch a husband.

This was more of a quiet story than a slow one. Not much really happens plot wise. It is much more just Maude slowly getting caught up in the world of high society and her internal conflict. But that didn’t stop me from reading it really quickly. I love when books remind me that they don’t have to be non-stop action to be enjoyable.

So much emphasis on beauty in society, whether today or in 1888. That has not, and probably will never, change. And most stories are told from the POV of the beautiful. Yeah they might consider themselves plain, but there are always people there to remind them how special they are. But not Maude. She is plain, and has it pointed out to her on a daily basis. (although if you put a picture of a girl on your cover, I automatically assume that that girl is the MC, so Maude is far from plain).

I felt for Maude though. I understood her shame, but was also happy how she never really lost her dreaming spirit. Even when I wanted to shake her to remind her of her situation so she wouldn’t get hurt, I kept rooting for her. I wanted her to have a better life; the life she deserved. I enjoyed seeing how Maude’s opinions changed and shifted over the course of Season.

I was much more interested in Isabelle’s character though. She doesn’t really go through character development so much as we see the already developed layers of her character unfold. Like Maude she doesn’t wish to be married off to the highest bidder and fights her mother’s will for a successful Season. She has her own dreams, and like with Maude, I wanted to see those come true.

The ending wrapped up very neatly, which sometimes I have an issue with, but not this time. It was just so wonderful and I don’t think I could have asked for a better ending for all these women.

The writing was beautiful. It was so descriptive and I felt as if it really brought 19th century Paris to life. As much as I enjoyed reading about the “Season”, I wish there had been more focus on the Bohemian aspect then on high society. The discussions of art and music were an added bonus and it actually made me want to learn more about the culture of the period.

And, another bonus is that this story is very light on the romance. It is always refreshing to find a book in which the plot survives if you remove the romance entirely.

So if you’re looking for a low-key, character driven historical novel that is light on romance, I recommend you give this a shot.