Stranger and Stranger

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Stranger and Stranger

By Rachael Arsenault

The Duircean Trilogy

A Five Star Rating

 

 

This is a novel that would make C.C. Hunter proud! In case you all didn’t know C.C. Hunter is my all-time favorite YA Author who writes in the school or camp based setting. Please understand for me to give a book a five-star rating it means that it is a book I would read more than once, which next to never happens. I am not a huge fan of Faerie books in general but this one is a breath of fresh air.

Stranger and Stranger blends real-life feel with the believably fantastical. I believed every word of this book, and the writing was gorgeous. If you are a fan of professional grade world building, seamlessly integrated into a plot then this is your book! I’m not kidding it was masterful. The magic system had some of your expected tropes, (elemental manipulation) but there was a whole other side to the magic system that made it one of a kind. Since I am not a huge fan of spoilers I will give none.

The character personalities resonated as real, and I was attached to every single one on a significant level. I loved some and really didn’t like others. The older generation of faeries is a good example of the ones I don’t like. Their points of view really just pissed me off, but then I get the feeling that is how the author was hoping the reader would feel. My favorite character is Shawna which may come as a surprise because she is not the protagonist, but you can’t help but get wrapped up in her specific struggle.

There is a little bit of something for everyone in this book, it runs the spectrum, from mixed political views to the legalized kidnapping of human teens to be changed and become faeries (changelings). The process this author dreamed up for this development from one race to another is remarkable, to say the least. There are also the elements of a meaningful bonding friendship, a friendship corrupted by unavoidable circumstance, and an M/M relationship prospect (which I am dying to see just how that plays out). There is ignorance coming from a painfully obvious source and seething hatred coming from a source I didn’t even know was there but made complete sense once it was revealed.

I could go on and on about the things I loved about this book! The only complaint I have is one of personal preference, and that is that it leaves you hanging at the end. I am buying book two today, (Yes this book was THAT good!) and will be back in about a week to tell you about it! I can’t wait!

 

 

 

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Gold Shadow

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Gold Shadow

(Bronze Rebellion #1)

By L.C. Perry

A Three Star Rating

 

 

I know I’m not the only one to say this, but I wish that Goodreads had a .5 star option. This book in all honesty rates a 2.5 with me, but since a half star is not available on Goodreads it will be rounded up to a 3. I feel it is only right to give fair warning that while I do not actively seek dystopian reads, I do enjoy the subgenre from time to time (Divergent Series, Hunger Games, and things the like). It’s not by any stretch of the imagination my first choice though. I was left with mixed feelings and a complete sense of confusion after I read this book, and I didn’t like that one bit.

There were a lot of things that bothered me about this novel, and I had to really struggle to get through it. It took me a lot longer to read than other books its size. I would love to say it was because of the long length (416 pages), but it wasn’t. The story in general didn’t hook me, or keep me immersed, and as a result I found myself having to take a break…often.

My first major issue is that this book seemingly had no direction. It didn’t even give the hint that the plot was moving forward… for the first ten chapters. That’s almost 100 pages of the miserable hell that was Ebony’s life. Do we get a feel for the main character? Most definitely! Do we get a good idea of the heavy political presence this story is wrapped around? Again, that’s a yes. Do we take much more away from the first quarter of the book? Not really.

Although to the author’s credit, I will say that I had a crystal clear picture in my head of the world she created in those first 100 pages. I could feel the stagnant quality of the air, see the lack of natural light, experience the detestable living conditions of the slaves, and the absolute brutality they were forced to endure. Oh yes, this was absolutely beautiful world building. Unfortunately that brilliant world that was created gets left behind in the first 100 pages never to be visited again. I understood the why of it, but was extremely disappointed when the only element that kept me reading was snatched away.

My second issue was the head hopping. It was real! There were times that I had to reread passages five and six times to figure out who was talking, and even then sometimes the identity of the one speaking remained a mystery to me.

At first I thought that this was Ebony’s story, but then a new character was introduced in chapter twelve (page 110) who would be the new focus at least for a short time. The princess (Irene) would alternate taking center stage with Ebony as the book’s main character from here on out. The alternating POV after being a single POV for so long was jarring, and it left me struggling to figure out whose story this actually was.

The whole of the story leads to the imminent kidnapping of the princess by the rebels, which Ebony is now a part of (which was predictable once we learned of the rebels). That is pretty much where the story ends. I was supremely pissed at the end of this book because there was ZERO resolution, but it wasn’t a cliff hanger either. Standing there clutching the necklace you are wearing (symbolic or not) was not a good way to end the book for me. I am not a fan of cliff hangers either, but no resolution in my opinion is worse!

The cover seems completely irrelevant to the story and is very misleading! As a Ballroom Dance Instructor, I was intrigued by the white clad, dark haired, ballerina on the cover. Just a side note, Ebony is a blonde, so I am lead to believe this might be Irene potrayed. This book is not about dance so if you are the type to pick a book based on the cover, I would refrain from doing so here. Read the blurb it is a very accurate account of the story.

The author’s writing style is actually really enjoyable. I like the way she writes and the character’s voice even if I hated Ebony’s over the top tendency toward a stoic attitude and Irene’s irrational Bi-polar mood swings. All that aside, by the time it was all said and done I had grown a grudging attachment to both girls, and actually want to know what becomes of them in the next book. So I will be buying it in the hopes that I will like it better than the first. This story just left me twisted, disappointed, and with a truck load of questions that had NO answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Immortal Descent

Immortal Descent

By Carolyn M. Walker

A Four Star Rating

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I have to say right out of the gate that this is NOT a YA review. Once in a blue moon I stumble across a NA (New Adult) novel that is absolutely riveting and it is that, and that alone which causes me to stray from my normal exclusive love of YA. Where to start with this one! There were so many elements about this book that kept me from putting it down. Not to say there was nothing about this novel I didn’t like, there was, but they were few and far between. I am going to start with the things I loved about this book!

The writing…oh my lord, the writing! The prose of this book was a compact, concise, and a well-oiled example of a fluid and masterful command of words. You know the saying, “make every word count”? This author makes every word count, I cannot recall one incident of meaningless passage in this novel. It is that kind of writing that kept me glued to my seat and forgetting to blink. Nothing about this book was predictable and as a result it always kept me wondering what would happen next. There is action (droves of it), there are lies, deceit, hatred, manipulation, mystery, friendship, and the age old battle of self-preservation versus the greater good.

In the world of fantastical fiction we have seen many amazing creatures, vampires, werewolves, witches, wizards, angels, demons, and demigods, to name a few. Well move over and make room for the Lorn! A new race of the fantastical like none anyone has ever seen before. Lorns spurred their roots clear back to before the days of the great deluge. Yeah you read that right, you know way back when the whole world was flooded in a mass cleansing of corruption. It is here that this race really starts to forge their unforgettable history. The lore and the world building are like nothing I have ever seen. The characters are unique and very believable. I have never met two characters quite like Ethan and Rue. Hmm I probably shouldn’t pair them like that because romance is not something that plays a leading role in this novel. Oh no! There are bigger fish to be fried in this plot and absolutely no time for the pull and distraction of romance. Although I was hoping something substantial would blossom in the romance department, it didn’t hurt the story one bit when it didn’t.

I didn’t like the way the story ended I suppose that’s because it left me feeling like there was no satisfying resolution; however it did leave gaping questions and towering uncertainties that most definitely scream there will be a second book! Like I said in the beginning I rarely stray from my beloved YA Genre but this book made it worth the walk on the wild side!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36582427-immortal-descent

 

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Don’t Wake Me Up

mother-nature-2785299_1280Don’t Wake Me Up

By M.E. Rhines

A Four Star Rating

 

As an avid reader of YA novels and a traditionally published YA author myself, I have to say this novel pulled at all the right emotions, and some of the wrong ones (in the best way possible). I laughed, I cried, felt rage, excitement, and empathy as I experienced the ups and downs of Colleen’s incredible journey. Colleen is a very believable character that you can’t help but fall in love with. She deals with the very real issues and dangers that come with an abusive teen relationship and just how bad that can be. The story also teaches through example on the page, how to rise above a situation which seems impossible to escape. “Don’t Wake Me Up”  takes us through the trials and tribulations of love, acceptance, and desire from an authentic teenage point of view.  As paranormal romances go, this was not at all what I expected; after all knowingly putting yourself into that space between being alive and waiting to cross over has its own set of rules. One wrong decision when it came to how long Colleen could linger to help a lost soul could potentially make her become one. The world building was vividly detailed, so much so that envisioning the setting the author painted with the words was easy and delightful. This beautiful work of art teaches us that sometimes the best display of the truest love is also the hardest…letting go. A true and genuine gem masterfully crafted to the page, “Don’t Wake Me Up” is an unforgettable tale and I can’t wait to see what story M.E. Rhines will breathe to life next. I read this book in a single sitting and recommend it to anyone who loves a classic romance that resonates with self-sacrifice to do what is best for the one you love. Grab a box of tissues and make sure you have the time to not put it down until the end, because you won’t want to. This book could rival the feel and voice of Gayle Foreman’s, If I Stay.

 

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Stolen ( This is one for my favorites list)

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By Jessica Titone

A Five Star Rating

 

Being a Ballroom Dance Instructor, I am really critical when it comes to stories that incorporate dance as a strong or main theme. I am happy to report that this book did not disappoint! This is a novel that starts out in London at the tail end of World War Two. I was certainly not alive in this particular era. After reading this story I felt like I had a good sense of what it must have been like to be a young girl going through what someone of the era and in that part of Europe must have gone through. The detail paid to the world building and the emotional reaction was hauntingly vivid. The author captured the cadence of British speech perfectly. I know that is a very bold statement for an American to make, but I feel qualified to make it because my mum is from New Zealand, born and raised. While there are distinct differences between how New Zealanders and the British speak the core and cadence is much the same in the way of terms and how they are used. Believe me when I say that this author nailed the execution to the wall.

It is not an easy feat to create a world around dance that can so completely suck a reader in. Usually there has to be a previous disposition that leans towards a fondness of the art to draw ones attention to want to read such a book in the first place. Understanding the world of dance can be difficult for someone who is not familiar with it. This is not the case with Stolen. You don’t know a thing about dance? That’s okay because things are explained in such a way that a preteen with zero dance knowledge could follow it. The writing is that clear and concise. I was absolutely delighted in the genre melding of this novel as well; there was sweet and innocent romance, historical ambience, adventure, and my personal favorite, fantasy. It starts with a contemporary feel, rises to a high fantasy plateau and then descends, somewhat heart wrenchingly, back to contemporary. This story embodies the love story a reader wants to champion and fight for. I was worried toward the end that the female lead I fell flat on my face for, would end up a spinster and never find happiness again. After all, so much had gone so horribly wrong. It was a relief and an unexpected delight that even when seemingly all hope was lost, the HEA we all crave in romance was indeed, alive and well. I finished this book with a feeling of elation and complete contentment; a level of bliss I have not felt over a book in a very long time.

So to the author I say Thank you for sharing this story with the world. I would recommend this book to literally anyone who loves a good love story woven together with magic, culture, and the not so distant past as a back drop.

 

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UpDrift

background-647559_1920Updrift (The Mer Chronicles #1)

By Errin Stevens

A Three Star Rating

 

There were things about this novel that I both liked and disliked. With that in mind, I will start with the things I liked. The premise was original and it was clear a lot of thought, research, and imagination was put into this tale. I found that to be completely refreshing. The characters were believable and very likable as well. The emotional arc that each character displayed was both realistic and genuine. This author is gifted in making the characters seem incredibly life like to the point that you grow rather attached to them. There were times where I was emotionally drawn into the story as well because of how realistic these characters actually were. There was sweet romance, as well as romantic tension, action, scandal; criminal motives, jealousy, and the list of all the amazing elements crafted to the page can just go on and on. The way that the Merfolk were portrayed and brought to life was truly a work of art. I was absolutely enchanted with their rendering by the author. With all these positive things this book would have easily rated a four or better in my opinion, however there were a few things that kept me from a higher rating.

The book started out with the main character being five years old and then through the course of the book she grows into a woman in her twenties. That is a great feat to accomplish in any one novel without skipping over the majority of the childhood. I originally went into reading this book thinking it was a YA novel…which it is not. The vast jump in the first half of the book makes it very hard to stamp this book with one particular age genre. Furthermore, for the first third to half of the book I was confused as to who the main character actually was, Kate (the daughter) or Cara (the mother). Needless to say there was a decent amount of head hopping through all of the characters which is fine if it is done just right. I found myself having to reread passages twice sometimes even three times to understand whose point of view the narration was coming from. The last issue I had is more of a personal preference tick than anything else and not necessarily a problem with the story. The beginning seemed to drag and drag for me seemingly not going anywhere. I get the need to build a history but it took almost half the book to see where the plot was actually leading and then once it took off boy did it ever. The last fourth of the book took a turn so sharp that I was left a little blindsided. So in short this book started off incredibly slow and then once the pace picked up it was sudden and left you hanging on for dear life.

I couldn’t put this book down once the intended plot started moving which by all counts is a fantastic quality in a book, unfortunately for me, it took too long to get there. I’d recommend this book for someone who likes being slowly eased into a story and walked through an entire childhood before the adventures of adulthood whisk you away.

 

 

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Marked By Time

Marked By Time

By Victoria Basnuevo

A Four Star Rating

 

As a reader who enjoys a character driven story, Marked By Time was definitely right up my alley. This novel is a classic case of starting out slow and picking up momentum as the plot starts to unfold. While I feel like the pace in the beginning could have been faster the story as a whole outweighs that potential flaw. That saying, “Good things are worth waiting for,” applies to this story. If you can get past the first chapters you’ll be happy you didn’t put it down, because after that you WON’T be able to put it down. There is a good balance of action, coy romance, magic, unforeseen family situations, tragedy, and humor. It’s a novel that provokes a wide variety of emotional reaction, as the story triggered almost every imaginable feeling. The prominent emotional reaction for me was humor with the way that the two main characters, Skyler and Daris, quipped back and forth. It was a never ending battle of wits (which was clearly veiled flirting) that left me laughing out loud more than just a few times.

I will say that I wished the romantic elements in the story came to some sort of desirable fruition. I was disappointed that while it was clear feelings had developed, the characters in question seemed to tiptoe around them. It went as far as sitting on the edge of my seat thinking they are finally going to have a romantic moment that would move them past the “friend zone”, but then something would interrupt said moment and it would be lost. I found that particularly annoying, but that is more my preference than a flaw in the book. Now my biggest issue with the book was the ending. I understand that the immediate threat was…dealt with, but I flipped that last page and was upset because I felt like there would be more. Even went as far as to make sure that I hadn’t skipped a page. Nope that was really the end…dang! Was there a resolution, kind of, was there that satisfying glow I get at the end of a book, no. Technically it was a cliff hanger, and I do not like cliffhangers! Don’t do that to me! With that said it is clear in the ending that there will be another book which I will be buying immediately when it releases. There are too many questions I need answered to not!

Overall the charters are memorable and endearing. The writing and world building would rival that of Cassandra Clare’s first book City of Bones. That’s really saying something seeing how I adore that whole series. Marked By Time screams the start of a series that has the same success potential as the Immortal Instruments Series.

 

 

 

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