Book Review: Wild Blue Yonder

cover-wildblueyonderTitle: Wild Blue Yonder [Ceruleans 3]

Author: Megan Tayte

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When Scarlett Blake chose life-after-death as a Cerulean, she expected to grieve for all she left behind: her boyfriend, her best friend, her mother, her home. But at least Cerulea, her heaven, would be… well, heavenly. Right?

Wrong.

The world in which Scarlett awakens is very far from her idea of a utopia. Picturesque, sure, and serene. But there can be no paradise within the unforgiving walls of a prison, be they of cold, hard stone or beautifully blue water.
Now Scarlett faces her hardest decision yet: be a good, dutiful Cerulean, or be true to herself and fight for freedom.
And if she can find a way to escape, what then? Can she finally reunite with her lost sister? Can she save Sienna from the murderous Fallen? Can she evade her destiny with the Ceruleans?

Can Scarlett Blake ever reclaim her life-before-death… or must she let go of all she loves?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It was difficult for me to choose a rating for Wild Blue Yonder by Megan Tayte. After reading the first two books in the series I was practically waiting with baited breath for the third installment—and despite the fact that I had other things to do and genuinely tried to put off reading Wild Blue Yonder, I found myself picking it up to “read one chapter” late last night. Before I knew it, I had demolished the book.

Like the previous books in the series, the writing was flawless and effortless in its execution. I didn’t stumble over awkward sentence structure, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. I was immediately drawn into the story by the characters and the mystery of the plot. Like I discovered with the second book in the series, Wild Blue Yonder was both a well pieced together addition to the previous books, and yet something completely different at the same time. The first book was all about the romance and the mystery, the second book about grief, and this book? This book was about deception, betrayal, and ultimately, truth.

The reason this book was so hard to rate came down to the uncomfortable feeling that rooted in the pit of my stomach as I read. The Ceruleans, to me, went from being this vague magical race to these terrifying cult-like people who operated on blind faith and careful deception. The story was tense, and so was I. As riveted as I was by the plot, by the end of the book that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach had grown into anger. Oh, how angry I was! At Jude, the Ceruleans, Siena… I wanted to cry right alongside Scarlett. It left me unhappy.

When the book was over, I had to take a step back. My initial thought was “I didn’t like this book” because I’m not used to walking away from a book feeling as uncomfortable and angry as I did—but the more I thought about it, the higher the rating for this book went. The thing is, I didn’t like the book—I didn’t—but I’m okay with that. What this book did was powerful. For a few hours, I was put into Scarlett’s shoes and I lived in the world of the Ceruleans. No, I didn’t like their world—but that was sort of the point. I wasn’t supposed to like their world. I was supposed to empathize with Scarlett… and I did.

As unhappy as I was with certain aspects of the book, this was a phenomenal read. I’m glad I read it, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series—but I think I’m going to need a little while to recover. It may be time for a fluffy, HEA next. If you enjoy complex mystery-oriented YA fantasy, you need to give this series a try. The series has been exceptional so far, and I’m happy to recommend it.

Book Review: Beast

cover-beastTitle: Beast [Norseton Wolves 1]

Author: Holley Trent

Genre: Paranormal (Werewolves), Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Novella

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Christina Stilton has waited all her life to become a wolf’s bride. Becoming mate to a stranger in a faraway pack is the only chance she has to escape her Appalachian life of poverty and abuse. She wants safety, but trusts The Fates to steer her toward love, too.

Love is the last thing on Anton Denis’s mind. He doesn’t want to saddle some hopeful woman to him. A brutal fight left him scarred and half blind. He’s a mercenary who can’t drive, can’t shoot straight, and on most days, can’t even crack a smile. He fully intends to send his mate away—to give her a chance at being matched to some stronger wolf—but stubborn Christina is intent on staying.

She might have been treated as a useless female back in Virginia, but her role in Anton’s small pack is clear. He needs to be loved and loved hard, and she’s just the woman for the job. She just needs to convince him to get out of her way and let her do it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to give Beast by Holley Trent the benefit of the doubt. I’m not generally a fan of novellas; I prefer to sink deeply into my novels and not come up for air for several hours, and that just isn’t something I can do with shorter books. They tend to feel rushed and incomplete. That wasn’t so with Beast, however.

Despite being a novella, the pacing was spot on. I never felt like I was missing part of the story, that the details were being skimmed over, or that I was being rushed. The writing too was clear and easy to follow, and with the exception of one typo, well-written. The world building was a fresh take on the werewolf lore, and a welcome change in a theme that’s been recycled over and over in the past few years.

I liked Christina and Anton as a couple. They contrasted and complimented each other in a way that I found endearing and fun to follow along. My only major point of contention was that neither were very strong characters. Anton was plagued with self-doubt that lead him to verbally put himself down on a regular basis—and it wasn’t a very attractive feature of his. I almost would have preferred that he be standoffish or outright mean. Christina, on the other hand, despite purportedly being regularly abused throughout her life, ended up being the stronger, more domineering of the couple. She was a bit of a spitfire (which I love in my female protagonists)—but it didn’t seem to fit with her backstory, which lead to her earlier abuse seeming to be more of a needless plot device to drum up sympathy for the diminutive girl.

Overall, I liked the novella. It wasn’t typical of what I normally read, but the chemistry was steamy, the character were interesting, and despite a few weak points where the characters were involved, I can genuinely say that I liked it. If you’re looking for a short, fun erotic/romance read that isn’t too vulgar, this would be a good pick for you.

Weekend Wrap-Up #9

What I Read

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Oh man, I can’t believe I missed two weekend wrap-ups… okay maybe I can. Here’s the thing: I read no books for two weeks, and I didn’t have any updates. There came a point where I was so ahead of schedule with my reading, that I had to stop and just mess around for two weeks. I’m still ahead of my reading by two weeks, even after slacking off. Yah, it was that bad.

The first of the three books I read in the last week or two was The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. I picked this up in a GoodReads Giveaway, and decided to finally get around to reading it. The book was a Fantasy/Dystopian/Literary work, and it was an interesting book, but very slow paced. I liked it, but I can’t honestly say that I’d ever read it again. The book was a little too literary for my liking, and a little too unclear on the plot.

The second book I picked up was yet another GoodReads Giveaway book, this time a contemporary romance. The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter was amazing. It was rather long for it’s genre, but honestly, I’m glad. It was nice to sink into a bit of a longer romance for once, and it was really well written.

The third book I picked up, yet again another GoodReads Giveaway book, was Discovering April by Sheena Hutchinson. The book was a New Adult Contemporary Romance… and eh… it was okay. The writing and characters were a bit of a mess, but I didn’t hate it.

(obviously, I was trying to work my way through my Goodreads Giveaway shelf this week.) All of these will have reviews up in the very near future:

  • July 6 – The Gracekeepers
  • July 8 – The Hotter You Burn
  • July 13 – Discovering April

What Was Posted

What I Did

2015-06-24_00001So what did I do this week? Mostly, ran around in ARK: Survival Evolved a lot—and I do mean A LOT. This was sort of a strange week. My husband was out of town for work, school’s out for my daughter, and I was on a book ban for a few weeks so that my reviewing schedule could catch back up with me.

ARK is definitely my new favorite early-access survival MMO. It’s really fun, full of dinosaurs, and it gives me a chance to play games with my twin sister, Jamie, who lives in a different state than I do.

Other than playing games, I spent the last few weeks suffering from allergies, cleaning my house, and last, and more importantly, I updated my blog.

I finally set up my Copy Editing / Proofreading information so that hopefully I can get some brave indie authors to give me a shot as their editor. I’ve spent the last few years studying up on grammar and copy editing/proofreading, and I finally feel comfortable enough to open myself up to some freelance work. I’m new to the business, and I know it’s probably going to be awhile before I work up a base of clients, but I’m excited to get started. Editing has been a field I’ve always had an affinity for, and the extra income would certainly help my household.

Next Week

Let’s be truthful here… next week will be basically the same as this week. I have some reading I’d like to do, but otherwise, things are the same. My husband is once again out of town for work (and will be for the next two weeks), so I’m pretty much on my own and without a car. There will probably be a lot of ARK playing, cleaning, reading, and just waiting for the week to end. Man, summers always seem to drag on forever!

Free Fiction Friday #51

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #51! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday (okay, almost every Friday—I try), 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 with over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum if I can (it isn’t always possible)—so that you can get a list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: LGBT Romance! (In celebration of the supreme court’s ruling that it is unconstitutional to prevent same-sex couples from marrying anywhere in the U.S. Congrats to the LGBT community—I couldn’t be happier for you!)

NOTE: I apologize to my LGBT readers—there is not a lot of LGBT geared romantic fiction, and even less that isn’t pure erotica or novella-length. I’ve picked what I could out of the group I managed to find, but the numbers are definitely underrepresented. If you know of any good LGBT fiction, feel free to leave a comment and let others know what to look for.

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Book Review: The Heir

cover-the heirTitle: The Heir [The Selection 4]

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What can I say other than I’m disappointed? I loved the first three books in the Selection series—in fact, I gave them all 5 and 4-star ratings… but the fourth book in the series, The Heir, didn’t live up to the hype. I was so excited when I learned that a fourth book had been written. I’d assumed after the first three that the Selection was over. Now, I kind of wish it had ended.

Eadlyn was hard to like. She was self-centered, arrogant, and childish. It was impossible to like her—and though I understand that she was in a difficult position, I found it hard to empathize with the spoiled princess. Honestly, I’m a little mystified how America and Maxon’s daughter could turn out to be such a brat.

My inability to empathize with Eadlyn wasn’t the only problem, however. The plot was basically a rehashing of the entire three books before it. I don’t know that I needed to see the selection again enough to warrant a re-start. It felt like the whole process was already hashed out with the first three books, and suddenly we’re back at it again. I enjoyed it the first time around, but this time, it felt a little tired. I was over it. Sure, I appreciate the role reversal of the main character being a princess rather than a prince or a contestant, but I honestly think the contestant’s point of view is more interesting in this case.

Pouring yet another round of salt onto the wound, the romance and intrigue of The Heir was a bit too fluffy for my tastes. By the end of the book, there is no clear love interest for Eadlyn. Sure, there are a few boys she likes, but none that jump out as being possibly “the one”. The romantic tension I was expecting just wasn’t there. I almost feel as if nothing was accomplished. The romances were never really developed, the threat to the monarchy was vague at best and only a distant threat. Other than gaining a few friends, Eadlyn didn’t change much throughout the book, and nothing happened. When the end of the book rolled around I was genuinely surprised. It felt unfinished.

That isn’t to say it was all bad though. I did like quite a few of the male characters in the book. There’s a special spot in my heart for Erik, Henri, Kile, and a few other of the boys. Most of them were better written than Eadlyn, and I wish they had gotten more “screen time” so to speak. It was also nice to see America in her role as mother—her character seemed more put together and well rounded in this installment to the story, and she came across as a strong figure.

The writing itself was well done. I didn’t notice any awkward sentence structures, punctuation or spelling mistakes. Despite my dislike of the main character, the narrative was easy to follow and engaging.

Overall, the book was okay. I’m glad that I got another chance to peek inside the world of the selection, but I wasn’t blown away. The book just didn’t deliver what I was expecting, and I can’t say that I’d recommend it.

Book Review: Invaded

cover-invadedTitle: Invaded [Alienated 2]

Author: Melissa Landers

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Cara always knew life on planet L’eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L’eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L’eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L’eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side. Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L’eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx’s people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists’ multiple attempts on Aelyx’s life. The Way clearly needs humans’ help but with what? And what will they ask for in return?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Invaded by Melissa Landers—though not for the same reasons I loved the previous book in the series, Alienated. Where Alienated was fun and centered mostly around the romance between Cara and Aelyx, Invaded took things to a whole other level. The book was fast-paced, filled with political drama and danger, and although the romance between Cara and Aelyx was present, it took a back seat to the rest of the plot. For the majority of the book, the couple was apart, and in the absence of their relationship, the complex plot began to shine.

As with the previous book, the world building, and character development was outstanding. I found Cara and her bubbly and sometimes sarcastic personality, less annoying this time around, and I’ll hand it to the girl—she really stepped things up. The plot threw everything it could at Cara, it isolated her, threw death plots at her, and tried to frame her for every crime under the sun, but Cara held her own and pulled herself through despite having almost no one to rely on. There were twists and turns I didn’t see coming (and a few I did), and I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story.

As for the technical side of things, the book was well written. I didn’t stumble over awkward phrases or pacing problems. There were no noticeable typos or grammar blunders. I was sucked into the story from the very first page and wasn’t let go until the very last.

There will probably be some readers who don’t appreciate this book as much as I did. I’m sure they’ll go into this book expecting it to mimic the light-hearted heavy-romance theme of the first book, and they’ll be disappointed. Personally, I love this book for entirely different reasons than I loved the first book. Where I loved the first book for its romance and clever but understated science fiction theme, I loved Invaded for it’s complexity, danger, and drama. The book was equally fantastic, just for different reasons.

Overall, I enjoyed Invaded, and I’m excited to see if there will be a third book in the series anytime soon (please, oh please). If you like science fiction, YA, or romance, and you don’t want to be bogged down with a ton of science terminology, you’ll love this series. I highly recommend it. The book is perfect for pre-teens on up… the romance, while steamy, is clean—there are no graphic sex scenes, and I’d be perfectly fine handing this book to my pre-teen daughter. I’m looking forward to more by this author—this entire series is going on my keeper shelf.

Free Fiction Friday #50

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #50! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday (okay, almost every Friday—I try), 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 with over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum if I can (it isn’t always possible)—so that you can get a list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: ROMANCE! Enjoy!

A Note: You may have noticed, there was no FFF last week. I apologize. I was busy, and so caught up in doing other things that by the time I realized it was even Friday, it was 10pm. Also, because this is our 50th FFF, I wanted to give it a little more thought and do something a little different in celebration of this milestone.

So, because this is a very special edition of FFF, I’ve decided to showcase my favorite genre: Romance… because this is the genre that lead me into reading in the first place, and then back into reading once I was an adult. I owe my love of literature to this genre.

Because this is the very special 50th edition of FFF (and we missed the last one) I’m going to extend the number of books available in this edition. So, if you’ve never read Romance, take this time to expand your world. There are so many good romance books (and so many trashy ones too, let’s be honest) there’s all sorts of subgenres, so unless you’re against romance as a principle, everyone is likely to find at least one kind of romance book they can appreciate. Give it a chance! If you’re new to the genre or even if you’re on a first name basis with it, I’d love to hear about your forays into the world of the romance genre.

 

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