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: 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.

Free Fiction Friday #147

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #147! 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:  Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Poseidon’s Academy

review-cover-poseidon's academyTitle: Poseidon’s Academy

Author: Sarah A. Vogler

Genre: Fantasy, Middle-Grade

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Getting sucked into a whirlpool, sleeping in monster-infested woods, and battling psycho sea-nymphs was not how Hailey planned to spend her first year of high school. But when you’re the only Zeus in the world, life tends to get a bit complicated…

The Great Battle saw the world changed forever when humans killed the gods and absorbed their powers. One power was coveted above all others: Zeus’s. Thirteen-year-old Hailey Woods is the first Zeus in over a century. Unlike everyone else, she hates her powers because of an ancient prophecy that claims a Zeus will have to save the world someday.

Hailey doesn’t want to save the world. She wants to be a normal teenager, whose biggest dilemma in life is deciding what to eat for lunch, rather than training to become the ultimate weapon. Poseidon’s Academy, an underwater palace where her powers don’t work, was meant to give her that opportunity. But when she arrives, she discovers the sea-nymphs living there are plotting to resurrect the gods, and Hailey must find a way to stop them before they can enact the prophecy.

So much for normal!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

My review of Poseidon’s Academy by Sarah A. Vogler is a bit polarized. Although listed as Young Adult fiction, I assure you that this is very much a middle-grade book. The characters are 13-years-old, despite the fact that they’re on their way to high school. As a middle-grade book, if I were a middle-grade reader, I’d probably love this book. It was full of daring adventure, rule-breaking, and revenge against bullies.

As an adult reader, I do have some bones to pick, though. The editing of this book was lackluster. I came across various misused words, sentences that were incomplete, incorrect punctuation, and misspellings – and that’s taking into account and disregarding cultural differences, as the author is clearly from another country than my own. I found a time or two when the wrong tense was used, common says were butchered, and glaringly when the narrative contradicted itself on the first page. I’d venture to say that any middle-grade readers out there may not notice the majority of these mistakes, but as an editor, I was cringing. It should have been cleaned up.

My next major qualm was the world building – which, again, if I was thirteen, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but as an adult…. it was full of holes. To be honest, it was just flimsy in general. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, but for a book that was firmly rooted in a world very different from our own, a little more depth would have been nice. This was one of those books where the reader is presented with an outlandish world and expected to not question anything the author puts before them – and I find that hard to do. The characters, adults and children alike, lacked depth or any sort of individual characteristics to really make their personalities stand out. The adults often spoke and acted very much like the children – who acted older than they were. It was indistinguishable. Poor decisions and danger were around every corner, and there were no overall consequences…. and yet there was death and gore and torture – which, in combination with the rest of the lack of world-building, just kind of made it all fall apart. It was hard to distinguish the reading age meant for this book, other than the character’s own ages as an indicator.

Did I enjoy the book? Sure. It was cute, I like the concept behind the story, and it was fairly easy to read – which is why I gave this three stars. The book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. If you like middle-grade fantasy stories in the vein of Harry Potter, you’ll probably like this book – but if you’re an adult, you probably won’t enjoy it as much as you are meant to.

Book Review: The Genesis of Evangeline

cover-review-the genesis of evangelineTitle: The Genesis of Evangeline [The Lost Royals Saga 1]

Author: Rachel Jonas

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Evie Callahan is positive there’s something strange going on in Seaton Falls, her new home. The locals are bigger, stronger, and faster than most. That includes Nick, the boy next door who’s become her silver lining in this godforsaken town.

She wants to trust her instincts–about Nick, about what she suspects in Seaton Falls–but rumors of wolves and dragon shifters makes it hard to tell what’s real. With a history of odd dreams and the nagging sense that she’s never belonged, Evie fears she’s losing touch with reality. Her concern only grows when someone who’s haunted these dreams is suddenly tangible… and claims to hold the key to unlocking her true identity.

Finding out her entire life has been a lie is scary enough, but what’s downright terrifying is discovering who she’s destined to become.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Genesis of Evangeline by Rachel Jonas was a solid, fast-paced read. I immediately sank into the story and fell in love with the characters. The author did a good job of making the reader empathize with all of the different characters, particularly the love interests. I’m a firm believer that love triangles only work if both choices are equally appealing, and the author managed to pull that off.

The world building, though cryptic in this first installment of the series, hinted at a depth that I look forward to expanding upon in the subsequent books. The characters were authentic and smart – none of the ridiculous choices and actions you find plaguing young adult fiction these days. My only complaint really is that I did run into a handful of spelling errors. That aside, I would easily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys supernatural YA stories. This book was well worth the price for a fully-fleshed out read hinting at a larger saga.

Book Review: Speak of the Devil

cover-review-speak of the devilTitle: Speak of the Devil [Speak of the Devil 1]

Author: Shawna Romkey

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the crash and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she discovers who…what they really are and learns they are falling too.

Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, figure out how to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Speak of the Devil by Shawna Romkey was a fast-paced intriguing twist on the battle between good and evil. The writing was clear and easy to follow, the characters were interesting, and the plot was fresh and entertaining.

All that being said, the book wasn’t all rainbows. There was some very serious subject matter handled in this book and it may be a bit triggering to some. The main character deals with the death of her friends, depression, and thoughts of suicide. There is a brief scene of a near-sexual assault. However, I do think that the author handled these well. They weren’t egregious or used to spur on drama. A lot of care was taken to put the reader in the main character’s mind so we could understand her feelings. It never got whiney or over-dramatic.

Overall, I enjoyed how this book was handled and I found it both interesting and entertaining. It isn’t going to be for everyone – as it deals with some heavy subject matter – but if you enjoy good vs. evil YA fiction, I recommend you give it a try.