Book Review: Afterlife Academy

cover-review-afterlife academyTitle: Afterlife Academy

Author: Jaimie Admans

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Even being dead isn’t enough to get you out of maths class.

Dying wasn’t on sixteen-year-old Riley Richardson’s to-do list. And now, not only is she dead, but she’s stuck in a perpetual high school nightmare. Worse still, she’s stuck there with the geekiest, most annoying boy in the history of the world, ever.

In a school where the geeks are popular and just about everything is wrong, Riley has become an outcast. She begins a desperate quest to get back home, but her once-perfect life starts to unravel into something not nearly as great as she thought it was. And maybe death isn’t really that bad after all…

Welcome to Afterlife Academy, where horns are the norm, the microwave is more intelligent than the teachers, and the pumpkins have a taste for blood.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, I liked Afterlife Academy by Jaimie Admans more than I thought I would when I first opened up the cover. The main character, Riley, was rather difficult to like at first. She was a bully, sarcastic, quick-tempered, and most definitely in denial. She was the kind of girl you love to hate – because we’ve all met Riley Richardson. She’s the popular girl that everyone looks up to and despises in equal parts. As the story wore on, however, I learned that there was a lot more to Riley. She was capable of introspection, she was fiercely protective of her friends and those she loves, and while she isn’t always the most down-to-earth, she is strong-willed and determined.

Technically speaking, the book was written decently well. There were a few words that I stumbled over and would normally consider as being used improperly, but because this book was set in Europe, and I am from the US, I will give it the benefit of the doubt—as I’m sure it’s most likely a cultural language difference. Other than that, the narrative was easy to follow, the plot was intriguing, and the shenanigans and colorful world built around the Afterlife Academy were geared perfectly towards the audience. I think for what it is, this worked well – and I had a fun time reading it.   If you like  YA romances with a paranormal twist, this was a fun one to get into, and I recommend it.

Book Review: Lost Girl

cover-review-lost girlTitle: Lost Girl [The Neverwood Chronicles 1]

Author: Chanda Hahn

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Thriller, Adventure, Science Fiction, Paranormal

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Wendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.

A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn was a familiar story with a science fiction twist that was both delightful and fast paced. The author did an excellent job of taking the well-known children’s story of Peter Pan and twisting it into a face-paced YA Thriller/Romance. There were themes of genetic manipulation, human testing, super-powers, and even a taste of the supernatural.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. At times the repetitive use of character names could come off as a bit overdone, but it was easy to understand why the author chose to do it. The style of the book was easy to follow and understand for teen readers without dumbing it down too much or over-hinting at any of the story twists. There were some surprising twists and turns to the story, and I found the characters complex enough to hold my interest despite their familiarity. The romance was expected, but intriguing once the unfamiliar character of Jax was introduced.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and would certainly consider moving on in the series. I’ll be interested in seeing how this series pans out.

Free Fiction Friday #134

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #134! 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:  Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

fff-1fff-2fff-3fff-4fff-5fff-6fff-7fff-8fff-9fff-10

THE BARGAINS

bar-1bar-2bar-3bar-4bar-5

Book Review: Protect My Heart

review-cover-protect my heartTitle: Protect My Heart

Author: Judy Corry

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars (3.5)

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Emma Howard has sworn off hot guys, but Arie Blackwell has sworn to protect her.

After a series of cheating ex-boyfriends, Emma goes on a self-prescribed boy cleanse and plans to spend her senior year focused on the important things in life, like deciding which college to attend. She has no idea she’s an heiress with a target on her back and boys are the least of her worries.

Arie thinks his college internship will be easy: pose as a high school senior and protect Emma. He never expected to fall for her.

Sparks ignite, but danger is near. If Arie can’t keep Emma hidden, her fate will be infinitely worse than falling for the guy she shouldn’t want.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

On one hand, I really liked Protect My Heart by Judy Corry. The characters were likable, the romance was cute, and there was an underlying mystery to the plotline that kept me intrigued as the story went on. The book was well written, with clean and easy to read narrative, and a narrative voice that made it easy to sink into the story.

On the other hand, there were also some rather questionable aspects of the story as well. The main male lead is 22 and falls in love (on the job no less) with the minor he’s meant to be protecting. It’s unprofessional and morally questionable. Also, the evil mob-boss-like uncle was a bit of a letdown. He came off as a terrible cliché. I was expecting something more after the lead-up of the mysterious things going on up until that point with the bodyguards and surveillance of Emma.

Overall I wouldn’t say that it was a bad book – because I liked it. I liked the characters, I liked their romance, and I enjoyed the writing. The few aspects of the plot that I didn’t appreciate as much weren’t enough to make me dislike the rest of the book. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a tiny bit of the inappropriate mixed in, you might really enjoy this story, and I do recommend it—but if the negative aspects of the plot are going to bother you, you might want to give it a pass.

Book Review: Red Queen

review-cover-red queenTitle: Red Queen [Red Queen 1]

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. It wasn’t what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised anyway. As far as the technical aspects of the book go, the writing was flawless. I didn’t run into any obvious typos, grammatical errors, or formatting issues. The narrative was clean and easy to read, and I enjoyed the narrative voice.

This was a YA book, so yes, the storyline and the characters were simple, even familiar, but I’m not going to hold that against it. Was it a ground-breaking novel? No. Probably not… but it was interesting. I liked the characters, I liked the world building – what there was of it – and I enjoyed the romance. Had this been a book geared towards adults, yes, I would have held it to a higher standard. There is no poetry to the narrative voice, the characters aren’t complex, and there’s no simmer to the romance… but this isn’t an adult book. This is a book meant for teens, and for them, I think this hits a lot of the points it needed to. there’s a cute romance, an element of danger, superpowers, fancy dresses, and a very fairytale vibe to the plotline.

Overall, I think this is a good book for the YA crowd, particularly those that are actually teens – but if you’re an adult reading into the YA genre, this may be a bit below your level. Either way, I found it to be a good book, a fast-paced read, and I’m glad to have picked it up.

Book Review: Twisted Palace

review-cover-twisted palaceTitle: Twisted Palace [The Royals 3]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

From mortal enemies to unexpected allies, two teenagers try to protect everything that matters most.
Ella Harper has met every challenge that life has thrown her way. She’s tough, resilient, and willing to do whatever it takes to defend the people she loves, but the challenge of a long-lost father and a boyfriend whose life is on the line might be too much for even Ella to overcome.

Reed Royal has a quick temper and even faster fists. But his tendency to meet every obstacle with violence has finally caught up with him. If he wants to save himself and the girl he loves, he’ll need to rise above his tortured past and tarnished reputation.

No one believes Ella can survive the Royals. Everyone is sure Reed will destroy them all.

They may be right.

With everything and everyone conspiring to keep them apart, Ella and Reed must find a way to beat the law, save their families, and unravel all the secrets in their Twisted Palace.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thought I had mixed feelings about the first two books in this series—and then I read the third book. At this point, I’m not sure why I spent money on these books. The drama in this book was so ridiculously overblown to the point of absurdity. The series took a sharp left turn by re-introducing Ella’s father when he was firmly dead in the first two books of the series. He wasn’t a likable character, but instead, overbearing, aggressive, and cruel.

The one redeeming point of this book was that there was an actual plotline, and the murder mystery aspect of it was both well-plotted and interesting. The technical aspects of the story, once again, were well-done. That being said, I’m not sure they made up for the characters and their motivations. This whole series has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m exhausted by the cruelty and narcissism of the characters and the banality of the social drama in their lives. This book, in particular, felt like a left-over storyline, introduced in an attempt to contrive more drama in the quickly fizzling plotline of the first two books.

I sincerely have to caution you if you choose to pick up this series: this isn’t for teen readers. This series is full of sex, drugs, sexual assault/attempted rape, murder, and cruelty by 98% of the characters. It isn’t a fuzzy romance despite the sparkly covers, and despite the luke-warm ratings I’ve given the series, I can’t honestly say that I’d recommend it to most readers.

Book Review: Broken Prince

review-cover-broken princeTitle: Broken Prince [The Royals 2]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars (2.5)

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Reed Royal has it all—looks, status, money. The girls at his elite prep school line up to date him, the guys want to be him, but Reed never gave a damn about anyone but his family until Ella Harper walked into his life.

What started off as burning resentment and the need to make his father’s new ward suffer turned into something else entirely—keep Ella close. Keep Ella safe. But when one foolish mistake drives her out of Reed’s arms and brings chaos to the Royal household, Reed’s entire world begins to fall apart around him.

Ella doesn’t want him anymore. She says they’ll only destroy each other.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Much like the first book in the series, Broken Prince by Erin Watt left me feeling conflicted. Again, the technical aspects of the book were pretty spot-on. I didn’t run into a lot of grammatical errors, typos, or formatting issues. The narrative was clean and easy to read, and it was simple to get sucked into the story because of it—but the plotline and the characters were painful to experience. The romance between Ella and Reed felt so wrong because of the way they’d treated each other throughout the first book. Their relationship was unbelievably unhealthy.

On some levels, this book was possibly worse than the first. Not a lot happened other than pure fluff drama that’s so ridiculously overblown that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. The content was far from being YA appropriate, and the characters left me disgusted… and yet I kept reading. I guess I love drama.

I want to like this series because I’m being entertained, but the entertainment value is like watching a reality show about the Trumps: it’s gross and cringy, and completely unrelatable—but you watch it anyway just to see what’ll happen. Overall, I’m not impressed with this series thus far, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a teen, but if you enjoy this kind of social abuse, drugs, sex, and scandal, you might find this entertaining.