Book Review: Rebel Bound

cover-review-rebel boundTitle: Rebel Bound

Author: Shauna E. Black

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A city without light … without hope.

Caelin is a survivor. It’s been eleven years since a nuclear disaster drove much of the population underground. Caelin and her young sister Mardy were left topside, where Caelin uses salvage to trade for shelter. Until she gets hurt.

To save her life, a handsome stranger named Jate brings the sisters to rebel turf where plans are being hatched to conquer the Undercity. The rebels preach good life for the masses, and both Caelin and Mardy are hooked on the dream. But as Caelin is drawn deeper into the rebel’s inner circle, passion ignites between Caelin and Jate, and he suddenly seems determined to push her away.

Then she discovers the harsh price of loyalty. The rebel’s dream becomes a nightmare that puts her sister on a dangerous mission to the Undercity. Caelin must determine who to trust before Mardy and the population of the Undercity are wiped out.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Rebel Bound by Shauna E. Black was a fast-paced danger-filled tale of two sisters trying to survive in the wreckage of a post-apocalyptic world. The book was well written – the narrative easy to follow and lacking more than one or two obvious typos. The characters were solid, unique, and their story was rife with danger and uncertainty.

I loved every minute of it. The uncomfortable tension of Caelin’s world and the distrust she had for those around her brought a very real feeling of disquiet to the narrative that made it feel like I was truly part of the story. Caelin was smart, untrusting, and although sometimes made decisions based on a lack of information, she never made stupid choices. She was fiercely loyal to her family and friends, and not afraid to jump into the fray to keep what was hers. I thoroughly enjoyed her as the main character.

Overall, I loved this book. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction, I highly recommend you give this book a try. It is well worth the time.

Book Review: The Queen’s Training

cover-review-the queen's trainingTitle: The Queen’s Training [The Queen of Oran 1]

Author: Noelle Riches

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Betrothed to the King of Oran, Soriana must undergo a year of training to learn all that’s expected of her before the wedding, but when the king’s second in command, an unreachable man marred by scars, takes over her training, she’s finally rocked by the passion necessary to fulfill her new role as queen. Unable to keep her heart from the man she cannot have, but with the possibility of finally being able to change the lives of her people, and her childhood rival doing all she can to usurp her position, Soriana must decide if she’s strong enough to give up the love she never hoped to find to become the woman her people so desperately need.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Queen’s Training by Noelle Riches was so much more than I expected when I picked it up. I often have a hard time sinking into fantasy stories, especially those of the variety that are set in a world completely different than our own. Too many names, places, and unfamiliar customs, and my head starts to spin. It’s safe to say that when I picked this book up, it was with the trepidation of that sensation of free-falling through mind-numbing information. Luckily, the book did not send me into a spin. Although set in another world, I found the author did an excellent job of giving the reader only the information necessary for further understanding the book up until that point of the story. It wasn’t bogged down by needless historical explanations and intricate details meant to color the world fare more than necessarily – and still, there was enough information given to the reader that it was clear how the world functioned and how different, or similar it was to our own.

The characters were unique and easy to keep straight. The romance was steamy and just a little taboo. The narrative was deliciously well written. The way the society worked in this fantasy world was both new and uncomfortably familiar in relation to our own – and that’s part of what really drew me into the story. It was easy to look back on the history of our own world and imagine the insane circumstances in which the girls in training in this book were brought up – because they were not that dissimilar to how things were once done, as strange and foreign as they seem to us now. The choices they were asked to make and the freedoms that were taken away from them put the reader in a position to ask themselves how it was possible to make such impossible choices as Soriana had.

Overall, I loved this book. It had a depth to it that not every reader will grasp. Some will read it and think that it is little more than a thinly veiled erotic read… but there was so much more to it than that for those willing to look at the history and emotional nuances involved in Soriana’s life. If you like Epic Fantasy stories, YA, or Romance, I highly recommend you give this book a chance.

Book Review: Calmer Girls

cover-review-calmer girlsTitle: Calmer Girls [Calmer Girls 1]

Author: Jennifer Kelland Perry

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Samantha Cross is introverted, highly sensitive, and is falling in love for the first time. The biggest problem? The guy she’s falling for is her older sister’s boyfriend, Ben Swift.

Her sister Veronica is beautiful, outgoing, and confident. Samantha is used to her sister getting all of the attention and everything she wants, even if she’s never liked it. But now they’re being torn apart by love for the same boy, their parents’ separation and mother’s declining emotional state, and their move away from Calmer Cove into city life in St. John’s.

As her life crumbles apart around her, Samantha’s feelings for Ben only grow stronger. Then she finds out the boy driving the vintage Thunderbird has mysterious issues of his own. Will Samantha let Veronica keep the only boy she’s ever loved, or will she end up ruining her sister’s happiness to take control of her own? Tensions between the siblings escalate, and Samantha is torn between doing what she thinks is right and acting on her heart’s desire. One thing becomes clear: One of the Cross sisters is in for a broken heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have to say, Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry was not exactly what I expected. Though labeled as a Young Adult Contemporary Romance, I would venture to say that the book isn’t much of a romance at all. Instead, I’d say that the true calling of this book is as a Contemporary Coming of Age story, or perhaps even venturing into Literary territory. Romance it was not – because despite the core of the plot revolving around a single boy who has two sisters falling madly in love with him…. there really isn’t much romance to be had. This was more of a story about a broken family in a small town trying their best to skate by in life, and the bumps that got in their way. One of those bumps just happened to be a boy equally as broken as they are.

The plot dealt with themes of domestic abuse, adultery, divorce, alcoholism, dementia, teen pregnancy, and a whole host of other problems, and for the most part, the author integrated these believably into the narrative. I did have a few qualms though that kept this from being a five-star read. Maybe it is my ignorance surrounding the local of the story – and that may very well be – but despite the fact that two underage girls were drinking alcohol and having sex with a boy who was very much considered an adult (18), there was never any mention in the narrative by any of the characters about the dangers of what they were doing from the law’s perspective. The girls never made a nod to the idea that what they were doing could be considered illegal or how their actions may play out for the boy (man) they were dating. I’d be willing to even let that slide, considering the terrible parenting the girls were in the midst of at the time… but there was another problem. I had a hard time pinning down Samantha, the protagonist of our story and the voice of narration. Though clearly written to be 16 years of age, she didn’t act 16. The language she used and her thought processes tended to meander between being hopelessly naïve – making her seem barely older than 10 or 12 – or they pushed her in the other direction and made her seem much older than she was.

I didn’t dislike the book, however. I enjoyed the characters. I enjoyed their troubles and drama, and for the most part, the book was very well written and engaging. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. If you like literary coming of age stories, I think this book will probably be right up your alley – but I wouldn’t go into reading it thinking that it will be a true YA Romance, because that isn’t really what it is – and you’ll be disappointed if that’s what you’re looking for.

On a more personal note: I really wanted Samantha to wizen up and date Kalen. He seemed sweet.

Book Review: Mated To The Dragon

cover-review-mated to the dragonTitle: Mated To The Dragon [Fated Dragons 1]

Author: Emilia Hartley

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

All her hard work had paid off. Dakota was finally going to be studying Art History abroad at Bangor University in Wales. It was a dream come true, everything was going to be perfect. Or so she had hoped. She knew about the dragons of Snowdonia, how couldn’t she? The whole world knew dragons existed ever since The Occurrence. It’s been years since then, but the one golden rule of the university was never get involved with a dragon. Dakota knew the consequences, she’d be sent home if she was caught even looking at one. Yet… here one was, standing in front of her in all it’s glory. There was absolutely no way she could tell anyone about this.

Wesley was a bit of a show off. To be fair, he was flying home when he heard the girl gasp. His beast took control and flew straight toward the pretty little vixen. There was something different about this woman, he couldn’t quite figure it out. She clearly thought he was magnificent, she wouldn’t have gasped otherwise. Then why didn’t she pay attention to him when he approached her? Even hours after he’d left, she was all he could think about…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Mated to the Dragon by Emilia Hartley. The book was fast-paced, fun, sexy, and held just a bit of danger. The writing was easy to follow and sink into, and the characters were fun and approachable. If anything, my one and only complaint is that I wish the book was deeper. I wanted more backstory to sink into at the beginning. I wanted the story to go on longer, the danger to be more present. The story was short, but I really wanted it to be meatier.

That being said, it was still a fun little romance – and I enjoyed the out-in-the-open aspect of the dragons in the world building. Usually, in books like this, the more supernatural aspects of the plot are hidden from the general public by a veil of secrecy. It was nice to find a story where something so ancient and magically was right at the forefront and accepted by the modern age.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun paranormal read with dragons, this is the story for you. I recommend you give it a try.

Free Fiction Friday #150

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #150! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is:  Mystery, Thriller & Suspense!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: The Influential Author

cover-review-the influential authorTitle: The Influential Author: How and Why to Write, Publish, and Sell Nonfiction Books that Matter

Author: Gregory V. Diehl

Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing, Self-Help

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Do you have something important to say? Are your knowledge and experience unique, valuable, and in demand? Do you want to write a book that changes the way people think and live?

By combining his experience as an educator and entrepreneur, author Gregory V. Diehl teaches passionate thinkers how to turn unique messages into profitable books—without sacrificing royalties or creative control to a publisher.

With in-depth advice about all stages of book creation, publication, and marketing, The Influential Author takes a uniquely grounded and intellectual approach to nonfiction self-publishing. Unlike self-publishing guides that promise to teach you how to write a bestselling book quickly and easily, Diehl’s book actually walks you through the complex details of planning, writing, editing, and promoting your work at the standards of traditional publishing.

Whether you are an experienced writer or have just started thinking about how to write a nonfiction book, The Influential Author will teach you about:

• Combining your passions and experience with reader demand to decide what book to write.
• Organizing your knowledge into sections and chapters for maximum comprehension and flow.
• Refining your book with feedback from editors, proofreaders, beta readers, and market testing.
• Choosing a title, subtitle, description, and cover design that capture your message and create sales.
• Pricing and promoting each format of your book (digital, print, and audio) for maximum readership and revenue.
• Enjoying lifelong passive income, influence, and meaning from your book’s success.

Publishing a book could be one of the most important things you ever do. Read The Influential Author to begin your path to writing nonfiction books that matter.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It took me a long time to decide how I was going to rate and review The Influential Author by Gregory Diehl. On the one hand, there are some tips and advice held within this book that are solid… but that’s about all I can say about the book that’s positive. This book missed its mark. 90% of the book is not useful information – it’s self-aggrandizing philosophizing and “fluff”. The book is incredibly dense, dry, and hard to get through. I started skimming very early on because I got tired of wading through the thesaurus of words being spewed out to get to a useful piece of advice. It completely missed the mark of what a self-help book is meant to be…something easy to read through and grasp for its audience – something attention-grabbing.

There was nothing in this book that made me want to keep reading. I was bored. I skimmed. I didn’t learn anything that wasn’t the bare basics of writing – and what the author tried to teach his readers about writing influential non-fiction –the entire namesake of the book itself – was lost, because he didn’t apply the very basics of writing to your audience to his own work. Who is meant to read this? Your everyday person who scraped by learning the very basics in high school? That’s all the information is useful for, and they aren’t going to make it through the incredibly dense text. So, I gave this 1 star – because I stopped reading. If you’re looking for a good book on writing, there are better more accessible ones out there.

Book Review: Touch of Smoke

cover-review-touch of smokeTitle: Touch of Smoke

Author: Karissa Laurel

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars (4.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Three years ago, Rikki Albemarle watched her best friend die at the hands of a supernatural evil. Certain she was slated to be the next victim, Rikki fled her small Smoky Mountain hometown, vowing to never come back. Plagued by nightmares and knowing she’s the only one who believes Mina’s death was no accident, Rikki returns with hopes of finding answers and holding the killer accountable.

Rikki is convinced the key to unlocking the secret of Mina’s death lies with Owen Amir, the alluring young army vet who once claimed her heart. But the deeper Rikki digs into Owen’s past, the more she’s torn between the urgings of her heart and her memories of him on the night Mina died.

After falling further into the rabbit hole, Rikki lands at the feet of an ancient and powerful evil determined to finish what it started years before. To survive, she’ll have to make a decision: believe Owen is the monster she always feared he might be or trust him enough to stay and fight for a second chance at love.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel was a uniquely fantastic tale of a small town romance overshadowed by the danger and allure of old magic. The story was fast-paced, well written, and easy to sink into. I thoroughly enjoyed the small cast of characters – Especially Rikki.

My only complaint is that the narrative had a tendency to be a bit overly dramatic, especially in the beginning, and I really wish that the author had spent more time delving into the darker and more mysterious aspects of the plot.

That aside, it was an intriguing paranormal twist on the usual small-town contemporary romance, and I really enjoyed it. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance who is looking to delve into the paranormal genre – this was a nice blend of the two.