Free Fiction Friday #87

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #87! 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 Romance!

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Free Fiction Friday #70

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #70! For those of you who are new to this blog, or 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 that 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 them is: Young Adult!

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: I Was A Bitch

review-cover-i was a bitchTitle: I Was A Bitch

Author: Emily Ruben

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Discover the story of Lacey Jones, former queen bitch, as she tries to put together the pieces of the puzzle that has become her life.

After a horrific accident, Lacey Jones wakes up from a two month long coma only to realize that she’s lost all memory of the last two years. In this time, she has turned from a wallflower into the gorgeous and popular Queen Bee of her high school. Adding to the confusion, she is confronted with two guys who claim to love her; her football star boyfriend and the mysterious and attractive Finn.

Now Lacey has to figure out who she can trust as she starts to put her life back together and slowly discovers what really happened on the night of the accident.

Will she be able to resist her developing feelings for Finn and stay loyal to her boyfriend?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was so much fun! I’ll admit, there were a few pretty blatant typos—the grammar especially seemed to be a problem in the dialogue, but although it stood out, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the story as a whole.

As for the characters—I liked them. Some, like Derick, or Lacey’s two popular best friends, were a bit one-dimensional, but Lacey and Finn were full of depth. As a couple, they were at times sweet, funny, and even steamy. So steamy, in fact, that I’d caution that although this is a YA book, I probably wouldn’t hand it to my 13-year-old. It’s bordering on NA.

The only true problem I had with the story was the ending. There was a cheesy, very Mean Girls moment of social confrontation and apology, and I get it… it was an ideal teen drama moment—but…. it was very cheesy.

Overall, I really liked the story. I think it could have used a little polishing, but I’m glad to have read it, and I’d probably read it again. If you enjoy teen romance stories full of mean girls, amnesia, and popularity drama, you’ll probably like it too.

Book Review: Spark

review-cover-sparkTitle: Spark

Author: Atthys J. Gage

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: 4 (4.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

People are dying downtown, their bodies shriveled away to almost nothing. The police are mystified, and outrageous rumors are flying: flesh-eating bacteria? an experimental bio-weapon? mutant mosquitos? Fifteen year-old Francy Macmillan listens, but says nothing. It isn’t a comfort knowing that no matter how far-fetched the theories, the truth is even stranger.

For Francy, that truth wasn’t very hard to find. It followed her home from basketball practice one night, a floating bauble of light that speaks inside her mind and shares her thoughts and her feelings. Is it an alien wanderer fallen from some distant star? Or a shard of some divine entity? Whatever it is, it seems to like her. She calls him Spark.

But as their friendship grows, a disturbing fact emerges: Spark knows who is responsible for those deaths. With Spark’s help, it is up to Francy to stop them. Spark leads Francy into a strange alternate reality, along with her friends: beautiful Echo with the dragon tattoo; moody Brooke with the wicked jaw; and Owen Owens, the boy with the fascinating eyes who may just get around to kissing her one of these days—assuming the world doesn’t end first.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have the oddest feeling walking away from this book that I’m not sure I can even begin to describe. Spark by Atthys J. Gage was not what I was expecting, and yet it hit the bullet points of everything it promised.  Even now, half an hour after finishing the book, I sit here and marvel at what I just read in a strange state of confusion.

Technically speaking, the book was very well written. I ran across two typos in the entirety of the book, but the narrative was otherwise clean, easy to follow, and lacked grammatical mistakes. The dialogue felt natural, and the characters felt real. I liked them. All of them—even the mean-spirited sarcastic best friend. I was pulled into the story from the get-go, and never felt the need to skim, put the book down, or re-read. Francy, strange name aside, was a compelling and likeable character, and Spark, her light-ball sidekick was a curious—dare I say, “interesting”—little creature that kept me hooked until the very last page. (See what I did there, fellow readers?)

The plot itself… well, that’s where some of my confusion comes in. Don’t get me wrong, I –loved- this book. I really enjoyed it and was thoroughly entertained… but there were parts that were hard to follow. The pocket universe was, well, weird to say the least. Even having finished the book I’m not sure I understand what all was happening throughout those sequences even when I understood the concept of entropy. Frankly, my dissatisfaction (and why this didn’t get a full five stars) came down to the ending. The book felt unfinished. There was this sense of increasing tension throughout the book with the murders, the appearance of spark, and the pocket dimension that begged for a huge mind-blowing reveal and ultimate battle to save Francy’s world… and I felt the ending fell short of that. I won’t get into too much detail because SPOILERS—but it fell a bit flat for me. I was expecting more…. and then the end o the book came and went, and I sat back and went “Oh. That’s it?”

Does that change how much I liked the book? No. I enjoyed it, and I want to read more from this author… but on the same token, I’m seriously hoping for a sequel to help explain and further iron out what happened in Spark. It doesn’t feel done to me. Overall, I loved the book. It was both better, and odder than I expected, and I was entertained. Spark is perfect for young teens on up, and I’d have no problem handing it over to my twelve-year-old to read. If you like YA fantasy or science fiction with a little bit of romance and a whole lot of strange, I’d definitely suggest checking this out.

Free Fiction Friday #63

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #63! 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 that you can get 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: YA Romance!

THE FREE

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Book Review: Shadows

review-cover-shadowsTitle: Shadows [The Rephaim 1]

Author: Paula Weston

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

Rating: 4 stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn.

And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, when I first picked up Shadows by Paula Weston, I wasn’t sure I liked it. It’s hard to put my finger on the exact problem, but I think some of it had to do with the slow start and the author’s penchant for over description. I’m not saying the description is bad, but there comes a point when it can be distracting, and I feel like the story hovered right on the border of having too much when I first delved into the story.

Luckily, things improved.

From a technical standpoint, and other than the over-description, the book was pretty flawlessly written. There were one or two typos (an incorrect word, a missing space), but nothing too jarring, and certainly nothing distracting enough to pull me from the story for more than a split second. Though the book started off a little slow, the narrative hit a nice pace after the first few chapters and stayed steady throughout. I didn’t feel rushed or bogged down. I did have some difficulty with the language, but that could be attributed to the book taking place in Australia, rather than America like I’m used to. There were times I didn’t understand the slang, and it took me a little while to catch on that the book was taking place in another country, but once I figured it out, things went smoothly. Most of the time I could guess, or skip over the slang that I didn’t understand, and it didn’t cause me any problems with the story—though I did get to learn a few new words!

As for the characters and the plot? I loved them. The story was interesting, the characters were dynamic and well fleshed out, and the questions the author presented for both the main character, Gaby, and the reader, kept me reading. I desperately wanted to understand what was happening, just as Gaby was, and I was equally wary and stunned as she figured out the answers. I loved every minute of it!

Now, other than the over-describing of the beginning, there was one other aspect that did give me pause: the story is familiar. Nephilim, demon hunters.. sanctuary in churches—excuse me, monastery… this isn’t a fresh story. There’re a million and one YA Paranormal Fantasy books with the same theme, which is fine, but it was a bit uncomfortably similar to a particular series that was noted in the book’s synopsis across the internet (I’ve left it out here) in several ways—including sharing an enamored, but somewhat geeky kid named Simon. I’m not saying this was a clone. It wasn’t—at all, believe me… there were so many differences that made this clearly unique!—but these details and the author’s note in the description recommending it to fans of that particular series didn’t go unnoticed.

That being said, I honestly loved the book. Had it not been the niggling little details about the familiarity and the slow beginning, this would have gotten a resounding five stars. I truly enjoyed the book, and I’m very excited to read on in the series (I’ve already purchased the second and third books!)

If you love YA paranormal urban fantasy that deals heavily with angels, demons, Nephilim, and super-power-like abilities, you’re probably going to love this book, and I’d be happy to recommend it. If you’re a fan of similar series, try to keep an open mind, though similar, this is definitely something new, and you’ll probably enjoy it every bit as much as I did.

Book Review: Poison

review-cover-poisonTitle: Poison [Wind Dancer 1]

Author: Lan Chan

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.

In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.

It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.

Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.

However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before–this time she’s learned the value of poison.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAYE ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Poison by Lan Chan. The first book in the series, and my first foray into Lan Chan’s writing, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up this book, but I soon discovered the amazing action-packed adventure of Aurora Gray.

As far as the technical side of the narrative is concerned, the book was extremely well written. I ran into no more than two or three errors in the entire book (which is pretty damn good considering this was an ARC from NetGalley). The sentences were well structured and easy to follow, the narrative kept a steady, fast pace, and I didn’t stumble over awkward phrases, tense, or POV problems. Setting wise, Poison forayed into a unique dystopian world, set in a far future Australia. The world building was easy to pick up and detailed in a way that seemed expansive without bogging me down with too much terminology or explanations. I was engaged with the story from the very beginning and had trouble putting it down. It was that good.

The characters were both complicated and unique, and though some of them weren’t particularly nice, I can’t pick out any that bothered me or irritated me in any way. I liked even the characters who avidly worked to thwart Aurora in her quest to reach and then survive the Citadel. I think out of all the characters, though, Aiden and Aurora were definitely my favorite. There was a chemistry between them both as rivals, friends, potential lovers, and enemies that I ate up with a spoon. Even when they were bickering I loved the dynamics of their relationship—and honestly, I’m still not sure which side Aiden stands on… Aurora’s, or the Seeders.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I’m extremely glad that I picked it up on a whim. It was everything I love about YA Dystopians without any overly whiny characters. If you’re looking for an action-packed YA Dystopian that’s heavily situated in fantasy and world building (and NOT zombies for once), I’d highly recommend that you give this book a try. It isn’t heavy in romance, so if you’re looking for a book with more story and less teenage angst, this may be the book for you. I know I’ll definitely be heading on into the rest of the series. This one is going on my keeper shelf.