Book Review: Waterfall

review-cover-waterfallTitle: Waterfall [River of Time 1]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds…until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into when I picked up Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren. I knew it was a YA, Time Travel book, and I’d read a few 1-3 star reviews (as is my habit. I want to know the bad points of a novel before I get into it)… but my hopes for the book weren’t particularly high.

Let me preface this review by saying: The cover has nothing to do with the book, and neither does the title. There are no waterfalls in this book, and no glowing doorways. Zip. Nada—and honestly… who cares? This book was fan-freaking-tastic. Waterfall is the story of two girls, sisters, who inadvertently time travel back seven hundred plus years into the Dark Ages. Separated and unsure of how to get home, Gabriella (the older of the two sisters) attempts to blend in with the new world around her, and finds herself caught between two factions of the war-torn countryside. War, Politics, arranged marriages… Gabi can’t seem to avoid any of it, and all she really wants is to find her sister, Lia, and return to their own time. She doesn’t know that she’s about to fall head-over-heals for the dashing (and already taken), Marcello.

There were a few aspects of this story that weren’t ideal. It was a little convenient that Gabi spoke both Latin, French, and ancient Italian, and was handy with a sword. Also, despite no evidence to support her claims, she had little trouble claiming to be a Lady of Normandy. I couldn’t help but feel that things sometimes fell into place a little too easily for the teen, but considering this book was written for the YA crowd, I’m hesitant to dock it points. Whatever negative aspects there were to the story, they were eclipsed by the positive.

This story was filled with daring sword battles, nefarious trickery, political drama, heart-stopping romance, and hilarious teen hijinks set against the gorgeous backdrop of ancient Italy. The world building was wonderfully done, and the characters were full of personality and depth. The little asides of modern-day slang and sensibilities made Gabi a witty and unforgettable character. I found myself sucked into the story from the very beginning, and even laughed aloud on several occasions. When the last page was turned, I literally clutched my hand to my chest and stared at my kindle, horrified. I didn’t want it to end.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I’m appalled to discover that there’s two books in the 5-book series that I don’t own yet. That will be remedied immediately. I would gladly recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA fiction, and I will certainly be continuing on with the series.

Book Review: Meeting Mr. Wright

review-cover-meeting mr wrightTitle: Meeting Mr. Wright

Author: Cassie Cross

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars (4.5)

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Callie Kirkpatrick promised herself she’d never fall in love again.

After catching her boyfriend Ethan cheating on her, Callie decides to retire from the dating game at the ripe old age of twenty-four. Unfortunately for Callie, she’s going to have to see Ethan at her best friend’s upcoming wedding. Stranded in the airport during a weather delay on her way to the nuptials, Callie meets Nate Wright. He’s sexy and uncomplicated, and a one-night stand is just what the doctor ordered for a girl with a broken heart. Callie thinks she’ll never see Nate again —until he shows up at the wedding.

Nate is hell-bent on making Callie forget about her ex, and he makes her question whether she was ever really in love with Ethan at all. As she begins to fall for Nate, Callie wonders if promises were meant to be broken…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

A good, solid, 100% heart-warming romance book is near and dear to my heart. It was one of the first genre’s my mother shared with me at the tender age of 13 that I quickly fell in love with, and this book was no exception. Meeting Mr. Wright by Cassie Cross is the kind of romance story romantic comedies are made of.  It is endearing, sexy, and hilarious—filled with snarky characters, embarrassing, blush-inspiring moments, and touching moments between two people who are madly in love… and aren’t willing to admit it.

Technically speaking, the narrative was fairly well written. There were a few tidbits here and there where a word was missing, poor word choice cropped up, or a detail was left out, but these were few and far between. The story moved along at a decent pace, and never seemed to drag. I was a little thrown by the tense (I’m not a fan of present tense), but that lasted all of a split second.  I’ll admit, the first sex scene seemed to move by a little quick, and had a line that stuck out as poorly phrased, but the following sex scenes (of which there were several) passed without incident. Eventually, I was so engrossed in the romance between Callie and Nate that none of that seemed to matter. Overall, the writing was above the standard, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The dynamic between Callie and Nate was giggle-worthy on more than one occasion, and I found myself grinning as I read through the pages. The only true complaint I had, was that Nate was perhaps a little too perfect. It seemed that from the very beginning, Nate fell madly in love with Callie, and despite her very clear decision that she wasn’t looking to date anyone, his heart never wavered. He didn’t fight with her, he didn’t get frustrated with her… he only ever seemed to welcome her into his life with open arms. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with a romantic interest who’s sweet, caring, and thoughtful…(yes please!) but it felt a little dubious that while Callie was wavering all over the place and running into a whole mess of troubles, Nate never blinked once. I really wish there’d been some flaws in the man.

That aside, overall, I genuinely loved this story. It made my heart warm and fuzzy, and if you enjoy heart-warming stories, you’re going to love it too. I would be happy to recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Romance genre.

Book Review: Switch

review-cover-switch

Title: Switch [New World 1]

Author: Janelle Stalder

Genre: New Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance, Post-Apocalyptic

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Two thirds of the world’s population has been wiped out, devastated by the worst war earth has ever seen. Still standing amongst the ruins is a mind reader who finds herself on the wrong side of the war. Everyone does what they must to survive. When the rebels bent on bringing down the New World leader start to rise up, it is her job to make sure they stay down where they belong. That is, until one rebel sneaks past her defenses and into her heart. Love will blossom from the ashes, but will it be enough to save them, or will it mean the end of them both?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I very nearly gave this book 5 stars. Almost. I’ll admit, at first, I wasn’t so engrossed in Switch. The narrative was choppy, typo’s popped up, the story sometimes contradicted itself, and Charlotte/Dinah was not a character I easily fell in love with. She was cold and calculating—brutally so—and honestly, it made it hard to like her…. at first.

However, the deeper I sunk into the story, the more I began to really enjoy Charlotte/Dinah and her crazy dystopian world. Life was hard for the mind-reader, but she took a practical stance and did what she had to in order to survive. Sometimes that meant doing horrible things, and most of the time she didn’t blink an eye, but I could see how she was able to rationalize and separate what she had to do in order to stay alive. If I didn’t love her, I could at least respect her.

There was so much going on in this book between the different viewpoints, the political plots, and the thrilling action, that it is hard to sit back now and try to encompass everything I’d love to talk about with this book. There was so much depth to the world building and characters, that after the first initial chapters, I was completely sucked into the narrative, and forgot to come up for air. It was only when the last page rolled by that I sat back, stared at my kindle and went “It ended?” I would have loved to have had another 200 pages to this story. The romance between the different couples was full out giggle-worthy and filled with tension. Ms. Stalder made the true tension and danger of this world evident with every turn of the plot, and despite the rocky beginning, I fell in love with the story.

Would I read it again? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. This is not your average YA Dystopian…. Charlotte/Dinah is a complex, and less than perfect protagonist who is not at all air-headed, and despite her lack of apparent heart, I fell in love with her by the end of the book.  If you enjoy dark dystopian novels with a bit of romance and a lot of dangerous political strife, you’ll love this story. Give it a shot.

Book Review: The Hunted One

review-cover-the hunted one

Title: The Hunted One [End of Days 1]

Author: Meg Collett

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

The fallen have trespassed into Heaven for the first time in eternity. Prepared for battle, Michaela and her Archangels open Heaven’s gates to confront the fallen. Only, Michaela’s Archangels—her brothers and sisters in Heaven—betray her. And when the fallen attack the sanctuary in the skies through the gates Michaela inadvertently left open, the holy angels accuse Michaela of planning the invasion.

One simple mistake with a thousand consequences.

Dragged to Earth by an Archangel turned fallen, Michaela will do anything to return to Heaven and save it. In her fervor, she kills the Archangel—something no angel has ever done before. Wingless, without any hope, Michaela welcomes death when an unlikely human ally, Clark, finds her. With the help of Clark and Gabriel, an innocent Archangel whose friendship deepens into something far more torrid and unexpected on Earth, Michaela must prove the holy angels have their own plan for Heaven, and it is one that may prove to be the End of the Days.

It may be too late to save herself, but Michaela is the only one who knows the truth about the holy angels. If she fails, she may never be able to return to Heaven. But even that may be a hopeless dream.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Nitty Gritty:  Cover? Gorgeous. Writing? Excellent. The narrative was clean, grammatically correct, and with the exception of one typo that I found, error-free. The imagery in this novel was outstanding, and I felt sucked into the story right away. The pace never lagged, and I never got lost or felt the need to skim.

I enjoyed this story immensely. I’m not a religious person… I can’t name off the arch angels in heaven or any of the mythos behind the Christian umbrella of faith, but I certainly enjoyed this foray into the fantastical world-building of Ms. Collett and the rich story-telling she built off of it. It’s almost a discredit to limit this book to the genre’s of New Adult Fantasy Romance, because there was a lot more to it than that. The Hunted One was a story of betrayal, politics, adventure, and mystery. There were bits of thriller and action, and yes, a little bit of romance, but also themes of tragedy and faith. I went into this story expecting a lovey-dovey paranormal book, and came away feeling like I’d read a gripping action/adventure tale filled with the battle of good vs. evil and true friendship.

The characters in the book were well-fleshed out and filled with depth. I especially enjoyed the hesitant friendship between Clark and Michaela. They were an odd pair, and often the friendship was skewed towards one side or the other, but their antics were both heartwarming and gut-wrenching at times. The two characters couldn’t be any more different, but they united in a way that was natural and didn’t feel forced.

The ending was powerful, and I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m looking forward to the next book in the series with baited breath. Would I recommend this book? Yes. Capital Y. Would I read it again? In a heartbeat.  If you enjoy paranormal/fantasy fiction, action and adventure, and battles of good vs. evil, you’ll probably love this book. It wasn’t what I expected, but it turned out better than I’d hoped. Can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: Song of Scarabaeus

review-cover-song of scarabaeus

Title: Song of Scarabaeus [Scarabaeus 1]

Author: Sara Creasy

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, Edie’s mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she’s not entirely sure it’s a bad thing . . . until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn—a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn’s side, he dies. If she doesn’t cooperate, the pirates will kill them both.

But Edie’s abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn as her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she’ll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure . . . a world called Scarabaeus.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Nitty Gritty: Technically speaking the book was well written for the most part. I only caught one typo—otherwise the narrative was clean, easy to follow, and moved along at a decent pace. There weren’t any noticeable grammar errors or huge plot holes, and to be honest, I enjoyed it tremendously.

I will admit, the beginning was a little hard to get into. It reminded me a bit of the first time I picked up a copy of the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Great world building—but hard to sink into. A lot of technical jargon was being thrown about with little explanation of what it actually meant, and for the first few minutes I slogged through the pages trying to piece together what was going on. Once I got past that, things moved along quite well.  I really enjoyed how Edie’s talent with biocyph translated out almost as lines of music that she had to move around and compose as a way of hacking through the code. It made the technology seem more organic and beautiful than most coding sessions you read about in science fiction—and certainly easier to visualize.

The characters were well-written and with the exception of Haller (who I hated with a passion) and Cat (who I didn’t trust for some reason), they were easy to fall in love with. The chemistry and dynamic between Edie and Finn was amazing. Their conversations were filled with tension and an underlying sexual frustration that made their relationship work well.

The world building was rich, and once past the initial jargon-slog, was relatively easy to sink into. I liked that the story was told on a variety of stages—markets, ship interiors, decimated planets… it was nice to get to see so much of the world Ms. Creasy had imagined. These days it seems like a lot of books tend to be a little more insular, with characters confined into one or two locations throughout the book, and it was a welcome change.

I don’t want to give too much away about this book because it was such a wonderful read, but I will say that it was a beautiful story, filled with fantastic characters, and in a way, it was also a bit of a tragedy. My heart broke for Edie when they arrived on Scarabaeus. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Science Fiction adventure tales with a twist of romance. It was an excellent read, and I’ll certainly be going on to read the next book in the series.

Book Review: Her Tom, Her Lover

reivew-cover-her tom her lover

Title: Her Tom, Her Lover

Author: Nicole Hofbrauhaus

Genre: Erotica, Romance, Fantasy, Novella

Rating: 2 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

First she gets dumped and then she can’t even get laid, but a curvy girl’s luck is about to change when she has a paranormal encounter with the cat shifter God of love.

He is a divine alpha beast, wild in bed, and powerful. His only weakness are her plump curves, which drive him crazy with desire. Is she voluptuous enough, sexy enough, to please an ancient god?

After a day like she had, she never thought she would have a chance to mate with a super-hot ancient werecat shifter god!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I came about this book in a rather unexpected way. I don’t have a problem with erotic fiction, but I tend to avoid it because more often than not, the writing is more trashy than erotic—particularly in shorter stories. So, as you can imagine, I was a little surprised to get an e-mail from Amazon saying that some random user I didn’t know had gifted me Her Tom, Her Lover. I shrugged, accepted the challenge to read through this novella (despite my misgivings… I am a book reviewer after all) and dug in. I really wish I hadn’t.

The novella started off all right. My original impression of the narrative was that it was written in an above-average manner. It wasn’t great, but it was easy to follow along with and somewhat engaging. That didn’t last long. The story was littered with typos, bad dialogue, and crass sex scenes that made the overall effect more of a comedy than an erotic novel. The author switched the gender of the god Bast, and basically had him sexually assault the main character. I’m sorry, but penetration of any kind without consent (specifically if she’s outright fighting it) is a form of rape. Period. The world building was non-existent. For heaven’s sake, a God that’s been around for thousands of years called a TV “the magic box”.

By the end of the story I could only shake my head. It was awful. It wasn’t sexy or erotic. The actions of “Bast” concerning the main character were in poor taste, and overall, I found the story insulting to me, as a woman. The only reason this book got 2 stars instead of 1 is because I finished reading it.

Book Review: Graduation Day

review-cover-graduation day

Title: Graduation Day [The Testing 3]

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What can I say about this book that wasn’t said with the previous two? Not a lot. As always, the main character, Cia, is a brilliant young lady with a strong moral compass (or she was, but we’ll get to that). As far as the technical side of things go, the writing was spot-on. There were no noticeable grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and the narrative moved at a decent pace (although things were a bit slower in this third installment to the Testing series).

To be honest, I liked the book… I love the series… but this wasn’t the strongest edition to the trilogy. The pace was quite a bit slower this time around and there were a few instances were Cia was so overwhelmed with what was going on around her that her brilliance got a little lost. She made a lot of stupid mistakes in this book. She made some moral choices that probably could have been handled better, and she put her trust in people she probably shouldn’t have. That doesn’t make me love Cia any less as a heroine, but it did make it harder to enjoy her story. I couldn’t help but feel that the core of her character got a little lost.

Also, I’d like to point out that up until the very end of this series (and though I didn’t notice it until I looked back at the series as a whole) a lot of world building was left out. It is never explained why the testing process is so harsh or why it was allowed to continue on in this manner. Life isn’t great in Cia’s world, but I didn’t see anything truly startling (past part of the first book) that indicated any reason why the Testing needed to be as harsh as it was. The world building felt a little empty by the end of the trilogy, and I really wish the author would have delved further into it. There was also a lack of cohesiveness about it. For instance, the characters have all kinds of tiny technology that is being used to track them throughout the series, yet basic infrastructure in the cities is falling apart. The whole place, even the school, is a crumbling mess. Where is this technology coming from? The world Cia lives in feels so insular when you get down to it. Every book in the series is basically the same process of Cia being tested and throw together with the same rag-tag group of kids (though their allegiances are all over the place.. you never know how to trust). The settings are small and confined.

Another gripe I had with this book in particular, is that the ending didn’t feel finished. The accomplishments Cia and her friends made in this series were small, and we don’t see a lot of pay off (outside of them staying alive). We don’t have a chance to see the government be overturned, or the testing truly stopped. We don’t really get to see Cia go home to her family. It feels like there should be another book… and there isn’t.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I love Cia as a character, and I was interested to see the new ways she was challenged throughout the series, but if you’re looking for a satisfying conclusion, or a fast-paced battle of intelligence and will (as with the previous two books) you’re probably going to be disappointed. In my opinion, this is probably the weakest link in the Testing series.