Review: Time for the Stars – By Robert A. Heinlein

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Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com

Title: Time for the Stars

Author: Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Sci-Fi / 256 pages

Summary: Travel to other planets is a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity to find habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. With no time to wait years for communication between slower-than-light spaceships and home, the Long Range Foundation explores an unlikely solution–human telepathy.
Identical twins Tom and Pat are enlisted to be the human radios that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. The only problem is that one of them has to stay behind, and that one will grow old while the other explores the depths of space.Always a master of insight into the human consequences of future technologies, this is one of Heinlein’s triumphs.

My Review: Man, this was a weird book. Yeah, I know, Heinlein practically specializes in weird, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But Time for the Stars was it’s whole own category of strange… But I liked it. Also, this book was published in 1950. That’s crazy to think about! Over 60 years since it’s publication, and this unusual book still fascinates sci-fi readers today. Myself, most certainly included. Heinlein’s

Hero/Heroine: Our two leads here, identical twins Tom and Pat are fascinating, and a refreshing change from the cliche way that twins are often portrayed in novels. Tom and Pat aren’t just in constant competition – frankly, they don’t even like each other very much when our story begins. They are fun characters to read about, and their morals are deep and complex.

Plot: It’s hard to explain the allure of a Heinlein book to someone who has never read one before. His writing is masterful, and his plots are slower paced than what you will see from 21st century writers. But the slow pace is to their benefit, and you never lose interest in the story at hand. They’re nearly impossible to put down, and frankly I find it charming. We follow our young heroes as they begin to experience the consequences of FTL travel, and what that means to them and those they left behind. At the same time, you are experiencing the daily monotony of life on a spaceship that only sees one major battle. The story is not monotonous, though, and you become truly invested in the character’s lives and interactions. Just like with Star Trek. Except there are near constant battles in Star Trek… So, probably not by best comparison, but, whatever.

And, for reals, y’all: THAT ENDING THOUGH. I was in shock for hours! It was crazy.

Content Advisory: An intense battle scene involving significant loss of life. This is a story featuring teenage boys, so there is also romance and some kissing.

To Sum it Up: Heinlein’s storytelling is timeless, charming, and reminiscent of a different age of literature. Time for the Stars is a fun, thought provoking sci-fi adventure that explores FTL travel, telepathy, and what life on a spaceship really means. I recommend this book to readers ages 10+.

Siren’s Song has arrived!

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“Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.”

Siren’s Song, the third book in the Storm Siren trilogy was just released a few days ago, and Mary Weber sent me this gorgeous package. Look at that map! I love maps! Maps are the coolest!

I think this series needs to get the award for the Most Gorgeous Covers Ever. I’m super excited to start reading the grand finale of the Storm Siren trilogy! I’ll be posting a review as soon as I finish it! Thank you so much, Mary Weber for the gorgeous book!

Review: A Tale of Light and Shadow – By Jacob Gowans

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Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com.

Title: A Tale of Light and Shadow

Author: Jacob Gowans

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Fantasy / 400

Summary: Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it, where magic is feared by all but a few, and where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station. Though Henry is but a carpenter, his devotion drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives. At the same time, a secret, dark prophecy has set in motion events that will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas, threatening to eclipse the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.

Cover Art Expectations: This is one of the new sections I’ve started adding to my reviews, and I’m loving it! Let’s be real here, everybody judges a book by it’s cover. You kinda have to, because there are so many books to choose from, you have to quickly narrow down choices somehow. There are certain expectations one gathers based on covers. Mine were the following:

  • Sweet Romance novel (Kinda true, kinda not, I’ll explain later.)
  • Medieval fantasy (Yup, this one’s true, for sure)
  • Old, Patricia Wrede style, writing (No, not really)

Overall, it’s a simple, pretty, cover that brings to mind epics such as the Princess Bride. I did read on the author’s website, that he was very opposed to these new covers that were marketing his books as a romance, but, in all honesty, I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of the book’s content. Cover art rating: ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

My Review: A quick shoutout to my friend Jonah for recommending that I read this book – thank you! Little bit of a tangent here, but I love reading books on the recommendations of my friends, because then you have a built-in fellow reader with whom to discuss the book once you’ve finished it! It’s always a bit disappointing when you read a book that you love and then don’t have anyone with whom to discuss it.  So thank you to all my awesome bookish friends, be you people I know in real life, or my fellow book bloggers. :)

From the very first chapter, this epic fantasy enchanted me, intrigued me, and pulled me into the world. The rest of the book didn’t disappoint – I loved it! It was the author’s first written book, and that is noticeable at times, but I always cut debuts a little bit of extra slack. (Not his first published book, but a book that he wrote when he was 18, and published later). I really wish that this book had explored the magic and magical creatures aspect of the world more. It was referenced and alluded to multiple times, but was never actually fleshed out, which disappointed me a bit. The magic was built up to be important, used when needed, and then brushed aside to avoid having to dedicate time to addressing it. My guess is that the author decided to wait till the second book to address it (I am SUPER excited to read the second book, btw). Aside from the magic thing, I think the author did an excellent job of world, plot, and character building. It was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. I also really liked that the story was being told by a storyteller, that was a fun aspect.

Hero / Heroine: Henry: The youngest master carpenter around, and in love with a fallen nobleman’s daughter, Henry’s life isn’t very easy. However, he is a fantastic and realistic character, and one that I think you will thoroughly enjoy reading about. One of my favorite aspects about his character is that he isn’t a great warrior, he doesn’t have much combat training, and he’s not the first fictional character I’d call up if I had been kidnapped by an evil tyrant. But,”Life [had] taught [Isabelle] that Henry could protect her without using a sword.” I found that to be a very refreshing take on the lead in medieval fantasy such as this one. Henry may not be a natural leader, or skilled in swordplay, but he is incredibly brave and loyal – and I think that counts for an awful lot.

Isabelle: Fiesty is a good word to describe her. She’s kind, brave, and ready to stand up for herself and her friends. She’s more than just the love interest, which is great, because characters that exist only to be love interests are always boring. I don’t feel like I got to know her as well as I would have liked, due to certain circumstances, but what I did learn about her, I really loved. She was complex, flawed, and incredibly compassionate and courageous. What’s not to love?

Plot: Tale is a romance in the same way that The Princess Bride  is a romance – there’s plenty of adventure, action, and intrigue, but it all exists for the purpose of advancing the romantic plot. In fact, the more I think about it, the more Tale does remind me of  The Princess Bride, in the very best of ways. The only thing I really disliked about this book, was the ending. Due to the events of the last 5% of the book, it kinda felt like nothing ended up being accomplished by the characters at all. I think that’s something that comes with the debut novel part, though… The author just didn’t have the pacing or plotting quite mastered yet. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the plot. The adventure was fun and unpredictable, the characters were well developed, enjoyable, and realistic, the brewing war and political subterfuge was intriguing, and the betrayals were unexpected but believable. Honestly, I think one of my favorite aspects of the novel was the character dynamics – they were unlike any other band of unlikely traveling companions I’ve ever read about, and it was really fun.

Content Advisory: Some violence, captivity, torture, execution, and death (both in battle and at home). Mentions and threats of sex slavery. A teenage girl is sold into sex slavery. Alcoholism and drunkenness. Intense sequences of father-daughter domestic violence. Nothing sexually explicit or graphically violent. 

Raising Awareness: I’ve discovered that you can learn very important things from every book you read, so I will start highlighting one of those things in this section of my reviews. The rising action of this book is when a teenage girl is sold into sex slavery. It’s very easy to read this book, be horrified by the idea of sex slavery, and then feel comforted to remember that we abolished slavery 150 years ago. See how civilized and humane we are? Slavery is all gone now! Um, no. No, it’s definitely not. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than ever before in human history. These are labor  (mining, sweat shops, etc) and sex (Brothels, massage parlors, trafficking rings, etc) slaves . But that’s in the third world countries, right? Sorry, but no. I live in Dallas, Texas. Houston, Texas, USA is 4 hours away from me. Houston is the number one sex trafficking hub in the entire country. This is in your neighborhood, your strip mall, your workplace. It’s everywhere. Check out Traffick911 and the 8 Days film for more information, and to see how you can help. #AwarenessISkey #SlaveryStillExists #ThisEndsNow

To Sum it Up: 400 pages may seem long, but I read this book in almost no time at all! I could hardly put it down. If you like The Princess Bride story feel, quirky characters, and crazy adventures, then A Tale of Light and Shadow  is the book for you! I loved it and I bet you will, too. :) I highly recommend this book to readers ages 13 and up. 

 

Review: Illusionarium – by Heather Dixon

 

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Illusionarium

Author: Heather Dixon

Rating: ★★☆ (4.5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Steampunk / 361

Summary: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Cover Art Expectations: I started this book with a specific set of expectations from the cover art (Because let’s be real here, who DOESN’T judge a book by its cover???):

  • Female protagonist (Definitely not true)
  • Steampunk (True)
  • Fairytale (Nope, not this one)
  • Romance (erm, not really. I mean, kinda. But it’s not a romance novel)

Prior to reading the book I probably would have given the cover 4 stars. The  character artwork is nice, the backdrop is gorgeous and mysterious, and the gear border brings to mind the steampunk genre. However, my expectation score was 1.5 out of 4 correct, bringing the cover art rating down to 3 starsI think it’s important that a cover properly represents the book’s contents. Cover art rating: ★★★☆☆

My Review: First off, there is nothing intrinsically fairytale-esque about this book. (That expectation came from the author’s other works, and the cover art) I must admit, I was very confused when I realized that the protagonist was a teenage boy. Nothing wrong with that, but that was definitely not what I was expecting. Aside from those two things, I absolutely adored this book! I think I read it in about 2 or 3 sittings.

Hero/Heroine: Jonathan: This was the odd part. I’m not sure if this came from my prior expectation, or from the author’s actual writing, but it took me a good 5 or 6 chapters before I stopped having to remind myself that the protagonist was NOT a teenage girl. My mother had the exact same problem with this book. Jonathan’s voice was very confusing at times. Once I got over that block, I was able to truly enjoy and become invested in Jonathan’s character. His loyalty to his sister was one of my favorite aspects of his character. And that plot twist at the end? Pure. Gold.

Plot: Parallel worlds, addictive hallucinatory drugs with devastating consequences, alternate personalities, Science Magic (it’s a thing, y’all. Admit it.), high stakes, a deadly virus, a ticking clock, and some good ol’ fashioned gladiator style violence… Illusionarium has a little bit of everything! The finished product is entrancing, intriguing, and lots of fun. I thought I knew what was going to happen… but there were plenty of beautiful plot twists that kept me guessing. Fantastic plot, and an even more fantastic world. I think the world was my favorite aspect of this book.

Content Advisory: Some violence, death, and disturbing content, but nothing excessively graphic. 

To Sum It up: The world building is really what makes Illusionarium. It’s insanely cool, and thought provoking to boot. It reminded me of an episode of the sci-fi TV show Sliders. Refreshingly unique and spectacularly creative, this steampunk novel is fun for everybody over the age of 12.

On Sale Now! The Ugly Stepsister – by Aya Ling

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.

Publication date: June 12th, 2015

Genre: YA fantasy/fairytale retelling

Blurb:

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

Buy links: Amazon  ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Kobo

As you can tell from my review of The Ugly Stepsister, I absolutely adored this book! It easily makes it to my top 3 favorite fairytale retellings of all time. If you love Cinderella and are looking for a fresh, new take on an old favorite, this book is for you! And for a limited time only, it is available on Amazon for only $2.99!

How the book came to be:

“Some readers liked the idea of Kat entering the fairy tale by ripping apart the book. Well, here’s the actual book that inspired the concept. You can see that the cover has completely fallen off:

*note: this book is at least 20 years old! I’m so glad I was too sentimental to toss it away, or I might not have come up with the idea!” – Aya Ling

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Excerpt:

“Girlie, wake up.”

I open my eyes again. This time it’s dark, but from the moonlight streaming through the window, I sense that I’m still in this strange historic-setting room. The candelabra next to my bed has been snuffed out. The fire in the hearth has gone out, but the embers are still glowing.

Then I discover something more shocking than the weird room I’m in.

A semi-transparent being is hovering in thin air, right above the bed. It’s quite ugly—its eyes and nose look squashed together, and it has a stumpy body with arms and legs that look alarmingly short in proportion to the torso.

I am so shocked that I just stare with my mouth wide open. Is that ghost going to eat me up?

“Awake now, are we?” the ghost speaks. His voice is kind of high-pitched with a note of playfulness in it.

Oh no, not again. I pinch my arm again, really hard this time, and yelp in pain. My fingernails have drawn blood.

The ghost starts to laugh. “Two hundred years later and humans are still as dumb as before.”

I am beginning to feel crazy. Here I am in a strange room, with an ugly ghost, and no matter what I do I can’t wake up.

Maybe I’m dead. Maybe when I fell down the stairs I got hit with something really sharp and bled to death. Ouch. I feel over my head, but it seems all I’ve got is a sore spot that feels more like a bruise than a gaping wound. Besides, this room seems a far cry from hell.

“Hey you,” I call to the ghost. “I’m dead, aren’t I? Is this a place I go to before I go to heaven?”

The ghost throws his head back and laughs—a high, raucous sound. I’m surprised that no one hears him—either they can’t hear him or are too deeply asleep. “She thinks this is heaven! Wait till I tell His Majesty…”

What the hell is going on? “Aren’t you a ghost?”

That only makes him laugh harder. He clutches his sides, wheezing, like I’m the greatest comedian in the world.

“You…thick-headed, pea-brained human,” he gasps, wiping his eyes. “Haven’t you seen this room before?”

“In the downtown museum?”

“No, silly, a book.”

Moonlight streams in through the window. Several framed paintings hang on the walls—the biggest one depicts a beautiful garden. The scene does seem familiar; all it lacks is a maid kneeling in front of the fireplace.

Cinderella?” I gasp. This is the room that’s illustrated on the first page. “Why am I seeing it in a dream?”

“She still thinks it’s a dream…” the ghost mutters, shaking his head. “Look, don’t you remember what happened to the book?”

I rub my temples. “It…fell apart?”

He nods. “When you ripped up the book our king created, a curse is triggered for tampering with his magic. So as punishment, you’re transported into the story itself.”

“Your king?” This is getting simply ridiculous. “Who is this king, and who are you?”

The ghost settles on the foot of my bed. “Might as well tell you or you’ll never get it—I’m Krev. I’m in service of His Majesty Barthelius, the Goblin King.”

“Goblins?” I fall back on the pillow, narrowing missing the headboard. “Please tell me I’m hallucinating, or I got a concussion.”

“We’re from another dimension, but our king has always been interested in human stories. That’s why he created his own books hundreds of years ago. He left a few copies in your world, but never expected that they’d disintegrate.”

“Oh god,” I sink down further into the blankets. There has to be some mistake.

“You’ll find out soon enough. Or you can just go back to pinching your arm.” He rises in the air—now I notice he has a pair of tiny wings. “Bye.”

“Hang on,” I blurt, and sit up. “Okay, suppose I believe you. How am I going to get back?”

Krev grins, showing a row of pointy teeth. Now you’re listening. All you have to do is put the story back together again.”

“Huh?”

“Finish the story to the very end, where they live happily-ever-after.”

Damn. I’m in a role-playing game. Not that I’ve played any, but it just seems that way to me.

Speaking of role-playing

“That woman Martha called me Katriona. She said I lost my memory, so I’m not a newcomer in this world. So who am I?”

His bulging, toad-like eyes gleam. “Guess.”

I scowl at him. Well, obviously I’m not Cinderella, given the silken nightdress I’m wearing. And obviously I’m not the evil stepmother either. In the mirror I look just as I am, not some middle-aged woman.

“Am I one of the ugly stepsisters?”

His grin grows wider.

Damn. “If I have to be in the story, why aren’t I Cinderella?”

The goblin suddenly goes off in a peal of laughter. Cinderella! She thinks she’s pretty enough to be Cinderella!” And he rolls over and over in the air until I feel dizzy and embarrassed. “Don’t you know how the spell works? You assume the role of the person you resemble most.”

Yeah, thanks for pointing out the impossibility of me being the protagonist. I suppose if Paige is the one who dropped the book, she’d become Cinderella.

And even though I still find the whole thing ridiculous, I’m kind of intrigued as well.

“So all I have to do is get Cinderella to the ball, the prince falls in love with her, and then the curse is broken and I can return?”

He waggles a crooked finger at me.

“Not yet. You can’t stop at the ball, when she runs out and leaves her slipper behind. You must follow it all the way to the end. The story is only finished when they’re married with wedding bells pealing and white doves soaring.”

Whoa.

“So when is the ball?”

“No idea.”

“Where’s the fairy godmother?”

“No idea.”

I drop my jaw. “Hello? Are you telling me that I have to find everything on my own while you just hover there and do nothing?”

He shrugs. “That’s because you ripped everything off except the first page. The curse starts where you leave off.”

“And if I do nothing? What if the prince won’t hold the ball? What if I can’t find the godmother?”

Krev lets out an evil chuckle. I have an ominous feeling of impending doom.

“Then you will remain in this book. Forever.”

*read more excerpts on Aya’s website: http://www.ayaling.com/the-ugly-stepsister.html

About the Author:

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Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.

Connect with Aya: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release, Aya is also offering a giveaway in which THREE winners can:

1. Get a paperback copy of The Ugly Stepsister OR any book Aya has on paperback (open internationally!)

2. Get to name a minor character in the “sequel” novella (will probably be Edward’s niece and nephews)

Here’s what you can do to enter the giveaway:

1. Click HERE to share the book release on Facebook

2. Click HERE to share the book release on Twitter

3. Share the book release on your blog. Click HERE for an easy copy-paste media kit that you can adapt however you like. For example, if you have already posted a review on your blog, you can add my author bio, excerpt, giveaway info, etc. Please fill in the link of your post as well, so I won’t miss a single entry.

If you do everything above, you’ll get three entries and have a greater chance to win!

The giveaway ends on June 20. Winners will be announced on June 21.

Cover reviews! Daughters of Zeus Trilogy re-released!

Kaitlin Bevis recently re-released her Daughters of Zeus series — with new covers this time! If you’ve been following me for very long, you’ll know that I am head-over-heels in LOVE with this series. So when I heard that they would be available for paperback for the first time ever, and with new covers, I had a serious fangirl freak-out moment. So without further ado…. Cover review time!

Persephone — By Kaitlin Bevis

Check out my review of Persephone HERE!

Cover Image and summary from Goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.
Cover Image and summary from Goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.

Summary: 

One day Persephone is an ordinary high school senior working at her mom’s flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she’s fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s a bonafide goddess—a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until Spring.

There she finds herself under the protection of handsome Hades, the god of the dead, and she’s automatically married to him. It’s the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn’t interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. But every time he rescues her from another of Zeus’s schemes, they fall in love a little more. Will Hades ever admit his feelings for her?

Can she escape the grasp of her powerful dad’s minions? The Underworld is a very cool place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living? Her goddess powers are developing some serious, kick-butt potential. She’s going to fight back

Thoughts: Yes, yes, YES! Persephone is one of my absolute favorite books EVER, and this cover is spectacular. I will always prefer real artwork on covers (painted artwork, not models or clipart), but even then… I must admit, this cover is stunning! I love the fancy title band, and that dress is gorgeous! Very Persephone. I can’t wait to buy my own physical copy for my bookshelf!

Image from Kaitlin Bevis' Facebook page. Image links to Amazon.
Image from Kaitlin Bevis’ Facebook page. Image links to Amazon.

Daughter of the Earth and Sky — By Kaitlin Bevis

Check out my review of Daughter of the Earth and Sky HERE!

Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.
Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.

Summary: 

Some vows can never be broken, especially with you’ve recently found out you’re a goddess.

In the flick of a eyelash Persephone has gone from being a high school junior in Athens, Georgia to the wife of Hades, god of the Underworld. Under his platonic protection, she’s waiting for springtime, when Boreas, the sinister god of winter, will stop stalking her.

But even Hades can’t keep Boreas and his minions from threatening her. Finally she escaped back to the world of the living. Maybe she can just go back to normal—and forget that she’s fallen in love with Hades.

She’s wrong.

Thanatos—a friend from the Underworld, has betrayed her. Persephone can’t tell anyone about Thanatos’ betrayal, and it drives a wedge between her and Hades.

And then there’s Aphrodite, the gorgeous goddess who was born among the ocean waves with more charm than she can control. Persephone’s dearest ally, Melissa, is furious and jealous when Aphrodite starts winning Persephone’s friendship. Persephone turns to a human boy for friendship. But will their relationship put him in danger?

Persephone must choose between her human life and her responsibilities as a goddess. If she doesn’t, she could lose that life and Hades, too.

But either way, she may not survive her father’s schemes. After all, she’s Zeus’s daughter.

Thoughts: Yes. Daughter of the Earth and Sky was an incredible book, and this cover is breathtaking! I am LOVING the continuity of these covers! Especially the title band and fonts. I definitely would prefer artwork, but this is a beautiful shot. I love the copper, earthy tones, and how they contrast with the bright red lips. (Also, I’m pretty sure that quote is me! Excuse me as I fangirl squee!) Make sure to buy your copy of Daughter of the Earth and Sky today!

Image from Kaitlin Bevis' Facebook page. Image links to Amazon.
Image from Kaitlin Bevis’ Facebook page. Image links to Amazon.

The Iron Queen — By Kaitlin Bevis

Check out my review of The Iron Queen HERE!

Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.
Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.

Summary:

 His love could destroy their world.

Life is hell for Persephone. Zeus will stop at nothing to gain access to the living realm and the Underworld. As the only living god with a right to both, Persephone’s in trouble. Captured and tortured beyond the limits of her resolve, Persephone must find the power to stand against Zeus. But will she be strong enough?

Meanwhile, Hades contemplates desperate measures to rescue his queen. Persephone never thought of herself as dangerous, but there’s a reason gods never marry for love. A being with the power to destroy all of creation shouldn’t place more value in one individual than the rest of the planet. But Hades . . . Hades would break the world for her.

To save the world and stop both Hades and Zeus, Persephone must make a difficult choice. One that may cost her everything.

Thoughts: No, No, NO. I HATE this cover. I loved The Iron Queen. And I adored the artwork on the original cover, so it was already going to be really hard to sell me on a new cover… but this one disappointed me. I really do love the continuity of the bottom half of the covers — and I think it’s beautiful! I love how the dress is flowing and in the clouds (which is a really great nod to the contents of the book itself), but I was quite disappointed with the figure in this one. It loses the continuity of having models, and as much as I prefer artwork, if you start with models, you should end with them.

The sensually stripping woman (because, let’s face it, no dress can actually stay up designed like that) combined with the one-line review from “Love Romance Passion Blog”, gives The Iron Queen the appearance of an erotica – which is a completely inaccurate presentation of this book. I hate that. I don’t see why on earth it was necessary. Agh. Why couldn’t the dress actually be covering her??? I really wanted to own a complete physical set of this trilogy – but I don’t want this on my bookshelf. NONE of this is saying anything bad about the author – I adore Kaitlin Bevis! – but this cover does not impress and in my opinion it does NOT properly portray the contents of the book. Don’t forget to get your (e-book or physical!) copy of The Iron Queen!

Image from Kaitlin Bevis' Facebook Page. Links to Amazon.
Image from Kaitlin Bevis’ Facebook Page. Links to Amazon.

And the next book in the series, publication date TBD:

Venus and Adonis — By Kaitlin Bevis

Audiobook cover!

Cover from KaitlinBevis.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.
Cover from KaitlinBevis.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.

Summary:

Being perfect isn’t easy, but Aphrodite is determined to live up to the ideal. So when Poseidon asks her to investigate strange happenings on several cruise ships, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Demigods are going missing, and no one remembers them having been on board. Aphrodite charms herself into the best room on the ship, prepared to investigate in style. Unfortunately, the room belongs to the one man immune to her charm.
Adonis.
When Aphrodite realizes that he could be the next target, her investigation gets more complicated. Worse, whoever is responsible for the missing demigods charmed the passengers and armed them with long-forgotten weapons designed to kill gods. When the ship goes dark, Aphrodite and Adonis have to work together to discover who is behind the mayhem before Poseidon decides their ship, and every charmed and armed human on it, are more trouble than they’re worth.

Thoughts: Beautiful! For continuity’s sake, I hope this means that this new trilogy will be based in artwork. I really love this cover. I think the artist does a spectacular job at capturing the beauty of these two iconic mythological characters. I’m so excited for this book!

Overall, I love these new covers, and I’m so excited about them!

ARC Review: The Ugly Stepsister – by Aya Ling

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon

Title: The Ugly Stepsister

Author: Aya Ling

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/5 stars)
Pages/Genre: 452 / YA Fairytale Retelling

The Ugly Stepsister will be available for purchase on June 12th! Pre-order your copy NOW! You won’t regret it!

Summary:

To-do list:

*Persuade the prince to give the ball

*Learn how to act like a noble lady

*Find fairy godmother

*Prevent other stepsister from sinking her claws into Prince Charming

*Find out why Cinderella has a mother and two brothers in the poorhouse

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

One Line: This book is absolutely phenomenal.

I almost gave up on it, though. The beginning was very rocky as the author struggle to establish the world. If it wasn’t for my love of all things Cinderella, I might have given up on this book. But I’m so glad I didn’t! By the end of the third chapter, I was hooked, and couldn’t put it down! There was the occasional instances throughout the book that flashed back to the ameteur writing of the first two chapters – things like Kat yelling “Noooooo!” in her head when something went wrong. Luckily, those occasions of amateur writing were relatively few and far between, but when they were there, it was painful. I also wish we’d been given more insight into the goblins. Who they are, why they do what they do, etc., etc. We didn’t know enough, and a more complete knowledge would have significantly added to the book. The writing may still lack a certain maturity at times, but the plot, the world, and the characters MORE than make up for it.

Honestly, those first two chapters, and the swearing were the only things that kept this book from getting a six star review, because I adored everything else about it. Also, I really want a physical copy of it. Because that cover is gorgeous. And I loved the book.

Hero/Heroine: Kat & Edward. Without giving anything away, I’ll attempt to explain everything I love about these two characters.

Kat: When creating a character like Kat, I often see authors make one of two mistakes: a whiny feminazi who ruins the entire book with her elitism and superiority, OR a boring cliched teenage girl who refuses to see the bigger picture – ever. Luckily, Kat was NEITHER of those things and I adored her! She stood up for herself and for others. She kept her head and was both fun and relatable. I wish there were more protagonists like Kat!

Edward: *Swoon* Ahhh, Prince Charming. (I cannot say enough how thankful I am that “Charming” was absolutely nowhere in Edward’s name. So sick of that. Anyway.) Edward was the Prince Charming I have been waiting for. I’ve read and watched countless Cinderella retellings, and there was always something off about the Prince. Something that I just didn’t like. Never could put my finger on it. But whatever it is, Aya Ling fixed it. Edward is a refreshing take on an age old cliche – this prince is dedicated to his country and his people, and absolutely hates social gatherings. He is also totally swoon-worthy, loves gardening, always knows what to say (but is still a flawed character) and I cannot even begin to describe his perfection.

Content Advisory: The swearing, though only S, B, D, and H, was excessive. I notice this often when adults are trying to write for teenagers. Swearing is thrown in randomly, and without any real meaning or usefulness – just kinda forced in. Some of the swearing had merit, and worked well, but some didn’t. Aside from that, there are some make out sessions, but nothing detailed or inappropriate. Mentions of rape, and of the horrific conditions of child labor in factories.Again, no more graphic than necessary.

Plot: You go into a fairytale retelling knowing the story – and counting on the characters and setting being interesting enough to make up for the lack of suspense. In The Ugly Stepsister the characters and setting were absolutely phenomenal — but so was the plot! For the first time in my fairytale retelling days, I was actually kept guessing the entire time! I’d think I knew exactly what was going to happen, and then Aya Ling would throw another curve ball. I was literally on the edge of my seat in excitement (and sometimes on the floor in despair) as I devoured this book. THE FEELS WILL KILL YOU AND YOU WILL LOVE IT.

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Kat’s adventures (and misadventures) as she attempts to set up Prince Charming with Cinderella, find a fairy godmother, and organize a ball will keep you laughing (and screaming at the characters) for hours. You delve into a rich and meticulously created world of social classes and rules of etiquette and you enjoy every second of it. I’m probably not describing this book very well, but just know that you WILL LOVE IT. The Ugly Stepsister is probably my favorite fairy tale retelling – ever. It has taken incredible self restraint not to go full-on Caps Lock ASDFGHJKL fangirl on you during this review.

To Sum it Up: If you like fairytales at all — Please, please, please read this book! You will love it, I promise. Aya Ling manages to successfully tackle a very difficult premise (I’ve never before seen it accomplished to my satisfaction), while simultaneously keeping you engaged and invested in the story and happy with the ending. This was a very warm fuzzy happy book — and one that I will definitely be re-reading time and time again. One of THE BEST Cinderella retellings I have ever read (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them) I would recommend The Ugly Stepsister for ages 14+.

Attention Horse-lovers! Review: Wednesday Riders — By Tudor Robins

Cover image from author, summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.
Cover image from author, summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.

Title: Wednesday Riders (Island Trilogy, #2)

Author:

Goodreads.  Amazon.

Summary: 

The island.
Meg can’t wait to get back. She’s excited to see her new mare kick up her heels in Salem’s old paddock. She’s impatient to run on country roads between breeze-blown hayfields.
Mostly, Meg longs to be back with Jared again.
It’s going to be the perfect summer.
But can real life live up to Meg’s huge expectations?

When Jared makes a heart-wrenching confession, Meg has to re-evaluate everything. If perfection’s not possible, can Meg find a way to build happiness for herself?
Fans of Appaloosa Summer will welcome the return to familiar places and characters, with the chance to be captivated by more of the beauty, romance, and dreaminess of Meg’s summer island life.

Pages/Genre: 181/Equestrian Fiction

Rating: ★★★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: You may recall the not so distant past when I was gushing to you about Appaloosa Summer, the horse book that restored my faith in equestrian fiction. And not to long ago, I was claiming that I believed that Wednesday Riders would be just as much of my “Happy Book” as Appaloosa Summer had been. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Probably no more than two or three chapters in, I was sobbing and throwing things.

So, thank you to the incredible Tudor Robins for sending me a free copy of Wednesday Riders!

I could just cut this review short and say “OHMYGOSH I LOVE TUDOR ROBINS SO FREAKING MUCH SHE WRITES THE BEST BOOKS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD I CAN”T EVEN ASDFGHJKL”, but that really wouldn’t be professional, so I’m going to write a “real” review.

Hero/ine: Meg: In my review of Appaloosa Summer I gave a pretty good overview of all the things I loved about Meg. Appaloosa Summer was a happy book. It had conflict, yes, but it was happy. In Wednesday Riders, Meg was faced with horrific circumstances that would change anybody. Meg became a little bit of a whiny teenage girl in this book, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It didn’t make me mad like it did when characters like Tris or Katniss did it. Because it was different. She was incredibly complex and deep – she was a real character, with real feelings, emotions, and reactions. She was utterly relatable and therefore utterly lovable. Remember Amy Fleming from CBC’s hit family drama Heartland? (if you haven’t — BEST. SHOW. EVER.) Though the characters are each very different and unique, and I’m not saying that Ms. Robins ripped off Heartland by ANY stretch of the imagination, but the two women are very alike in a few ways. I love it. I think they would be best friends.

Jared: Without giving anything away, I can say that Jared was colored with an unfavorable light from the very beginning. And it broke my heart. Because I adore Jared. But even though he was not as physically present in Wednesday Riders as he had been in Appaloosa Summer, I still absolutely adored him. He was still very real, complex, and engaging. That’s what I loved most, actually. He wasn’t forced into the Male Love Interest YA Fictional Novel stereotypes. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t terrible – he was a real person. Good things, bad things, perfectly romantic and adorable things, ALL of those things are what make me love Jared so freaking much.

Plot: I felt the agony, I experienced the pain. This was a very pain filled book for me — and quite the shocker, since I’d expected it to be super happy and perfect. But, another PHENOMENAL thing about this book? It wasn’t all about the romance. Yeah, that factored into it, and yeah, it affected the characters, but they still had lives. I loved the plot about the Wednesday Riders, and about Bridget. Tudor isn’t afraid to address the hard issues. Nor is she afraid to resolve them. One thing is for certain, Wednesday Riders does NOT suffer from Second Book Syndrome. I wish I could say more about the specific things I loved, and the character decisions that I didn’t love, and the overall freaking amazingness that is this entire book, but, alas, SPOILERS. :(

Content Advisory: Eesh. This made me sad. I found it largely unnecessary, BUT… There was one scene of a sexual nature, went to second base. There was one scene of an implied sexual nature, but largely it took place off-screen. There were mentions of drinking, smoking, and of having sex. I can’t recall much swearing, so it was probably a relatively small amount of D’s, S’s, and B’s.

To Sum it Up: Though the sex scenes did disappoint me, aside from that I adored this book – almost as much as the first – even MORE in some ways. Appaloosa Summer put the bar ridiculously high, but Wednesday Riders did not disappoint. The complex and engaging characters (I loved the integration of the children!), the emotional and heart wrenching discoveries, and the horses (oh, the horses!) – this book was fabulous from beginning to end. I was crying, I was laughing, I was screaming, (and if I owned the physical copy, I would have been throwing it, as well). This is one of the best equestrian fiction novels you will ever read. I highly recommend it to 16+.

Embassy Row Security Risk! Review: All Fall Down — By Ally Carter

Cover image from Goodreads.com. Summary from Amazon.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.
Cover image from Goodreads.com. Summary from Amazon.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.

Title: All Fall Down

Author: Ally Carter

Amazon. Goodreads. Audible. Barnes & Noble.

Summary: A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

Genre/Pages: YA Fiction/320

Rating: ★★★★★ (6 of 5)

My Review: I loved this book. Like, adored this book. Like, was-supposed-to-read-my-college-textbooks-but-totally-didn’t-because-I-couldn’t-put-this-book-down loved this book. Maybe I loved it a little TOO much:

Embassy Row Security Risk! #AllyAmbassador #SpiedReadingAllyCarter
Embassy Row Security Risk! #AllyAmbassador #SpiedReadingAllyCarter

Oh, I had no idea how much I had missed Ally Carter and her writing! Fun, tough heroes and heroines, with a non-cliche, unpredictable, heart-stopping plot, and writing so beautiful it nearly makes you swoon. (Then again,  maybe the swooning part was just my new Book Boyfriend Zach, HalAlexei.) Every love interest Carter writes just gets better than the last! This book restored my faith in YA fiction. Ally Carter is the master of intrigue.

Plot: There were countless times when I thought I had the rest of the book figured out — times when I thought I know Whodunnit. But I was wrong! Carter manages to find the tricky balance between the reader solving the mystery in the first chapter because it’s obvious, and the reader getting to the end of the book and having none of it make sense. She finds that happy medium that makes her novels so very enjoyable. Everything came together so neatly and cleanly at the end, and I loved it! I didn’t feel lied to or cheated like I do after some YA intrigue/adventure novels, I just genuinely loved it. I really loved seeing how everything came together in the end. The characters are introduced in an orderly fashion, and they are easy to keep track of while still being complex and intriguing.

Hero/Heroine: Grace. I flippin’ LOVED Grace Blakely (though I definitely wouldn’t remember her last name if it wasn’t for the synopsis, haha)! When you first meet her, she is strong-willed, stubborn, fiery, and very, very, guarded. As you get to know her, you get to see who she really is. The girl behind the mask. And that girl is what made me love this book so much. She was so very REAL. Carter managed to create a real character who wasn’t just whiny and selfish (which is a problem I often run into when a character achieves that level of realism). You find yourself beginning to sympathize with Grace, and when she does something stupid you don’t just *facepalm* and roll your eyes at the cliche plot point — because it isn’t cliche. I never thought “OhmyGOSH Grace, you’re an IDIOT!” Like I find myself doing with most protagonists at some point. Because you truly understand, empathize with, and love this character. Three cheers for Ally Carter.

Setting: I don’t usually have this section, but I thought it was necessary for this one. I was apprehensive about the Embassy Row setting. How could Ally pull it off? Well, let me tell you, she definitely did. I loved it! Plus, because of that setting and world, we were able to have a cast of very diverse characters, which was fun. The world was amazing, and I truly did love every second of oit! I’m looking forward to the next books in the series!

Content Advisory: Some violence, nothing graphic. 

To Sum it Up: Even if you don’t typically read YA, I think you’ll enjoy this book. Carter doesn’t fall prey to any of the stereotypical YA follies. Fast-paced & character driven, with a healthy dose of sass and diplomacy, All Fall Down is impossible to put down. I fell behind in my textbook reading for my college classes, because, despite all of my good judgement, I kept on finding myself picking up All Fall Down again, and again, and again, until I finished it. I haven’t read a book this amazing for quite some time! I’d forgotten how much I’d missed Ally Carter’s writing. I highly recommend this book to readers 12+.


Something new I’m starting: Using Reenin from Deviantart’s sketch Reading Zone, as a guide, I will determine which Reading Posture I was using during this book. :)

Chances Are Reading Posture: – Lost to Reality Reading

Click here to see Reenin's sketch on Deviantart!
Click here to see Reenin’s sketch on Deviantart!

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it? 

Review: Hidden Enemy (Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files, #7-9) – By Pittacus Lore

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Goodreads book page.

Title: Hidden Enemy (Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files, #7-9)

Author: Pittacus Lore

Summary: 

You know we have been betrayed.
You must discover why.
You must learn the truth.
They have put a plan in motion.
They have infiltrated your government.
They have already turned some of you.
They will do whatever it takes to have your planet.
The battle lines have been drawn.

Whose side are you on?

Genre/Pages: Science-Fiction/416

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: To this day, 9 novellas later, I have very mixed feelings on this series of novellas. In some ways, I feel like it’s just weird. It’s confusing to be constantly attempting to remember when the next trilogy of novellas comes out, and what they say. I do find them useful in many ways, though, because they keep me in the world, since they get released so often in between “real” books, they give me a chance to refresh my memory of the world, story line, and characters, while still getting a lot of new info. Is it necessary to read these novellas? No, I don’t think so. But I think they are VERY enlightening, and if you really like the “real” series, and want to get the full experience, PLEASE, read them. They’re wonderful, and you learn a LOT of new info.

Also, despite trying very hard not to let my personal feelings get in the way of my enjoyment of a book, I’m absolutely horrified by the alleged actions of the so-called “author” of these books, and if I didn’t love the series so much, I would never support him. But, anyway, I’m going to do a short paragraph on each of the novellas.

Five’s Legacy: In this novella, we get to explore Five’s early life, with the timeline matching up to I Am Number Four, his first encounter with the Mogadorians, and his motivation behind eventually joining forces with them. Here, Lore attempts to get us to love Five. To feel sympathy and understanding for him. And you kinda do. You get to know him, his interactions with others, and his motives. You get to see him as he discovers his legacies. It’s kinda heartwrenching, this one. But still plenty of action.

Return to Paradise: In Return to Paradise, we follow Mark Evans. (excuse me while I shiver and gag). I hate Mark Evans. SO MUCH. UGHHHH. Anyway, timeline-wise, this takes place shortly after the finale of I Am Number Four and the the destruction of Paradise high school, and, if I’m remembering right, after / in the middle of Power of Six, when Sarah goes missing. Another problem with  these novellas? I CANNOT keep the timeline straight! It’s an absolute mess! Anyway, Mark is an absolute idiot and jerk and lots of other words. But it is really great to finally see what exactly DID go on in between Mark and Sarah, after the battle at Paradise High School, and before Sarah gets captured. Also, I have a feeling this “Garde” guy will become very important…

Five’s Betrayal: Here, we deal with Number Five again. WOW, talk about a jerk. I cannot stand this kid. Anyway, he has sworn complete allegiance to the Mogadorians and promised to kill Number Nine to prove his loyalty. And that’s the premise for this one. In it, all the work Lore did to try to make us like Five was destroyed. You fully discover his complete motivation for infiltrating the Loric in Fall of Five, and OH MY GOSH. Well, that’s just say there were plenty of jaw-dropping moments in this, as you really begin to understand the twisted and brainwashed character that is Number Five.

Content Advisory: A handful of F-bombs, maybe 4? A smattering of D-words, H-words, and S-words. A lot of violence. I think in some ways, the Lorien Legacies can be more twisted than the Hunger Games ever was. The Hunger Games always dismissed reality. It had elements of reality, but Collins always skirted it, wanting it to give the impression of reality, without quite the horror of it. But Lorien Legacies? Lore embraces the realness, the reality, of the violence, of the horror. He does everything possible to make it seem more real, like it could be happening right now and you wouldn’t now. It’s disturbing. Does any of that make sense?

To Sum it Up: I really enjoyed it. I guess. That sounds kinda twisted, to enjoy something like this. But, anyway, it’s a really good collection. You get some really fascinating insights into character’s minds, and you get to see how the whole story plays out, not just the one sided version you get during the original series. Along with giving you a bigger picture than you previously had, it gives you some fascinating insight into what might go down in book numbers 6 and 7. Action packed, and a wonderful read, if you’re a (do we have a fandom name???) Lorien Legacies fan, I highly recommend it. For ages 13+. 

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it?