Tuesday, October 20, 2015

CASTLE OF SIGHS by Jennifer Murgia

Rating: B
Release Date: 10/27/15
Some secrets cannot be kept—in life or in death. 
Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. 
After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon and Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs—shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping to find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. 
As secrets unspool, the delicate thread of Rune’s world is threatened when she realizes the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

My thoughts on the book:
Castle of Sighs was a creepy follow-up to Forest of Whispers. Where the first novel fell a bit flat for me, this book did not. Murgia's writing improved a lot, and the characters grew by leaps and bounds in this installment. The plot was fast-paced and intriguing, and even though I was thoroughly creeped out at several points, I couldn't put this book down. This is the perfect Halloween read.

Rune wasn't the best character, in my opinion, in the first novel, but she really stood out in this book. She had grown up a lot, and she was determined to do what was right for herself, her family, and those she cared about. She was brave, though sometimes reckless, and she learned a lot about herself and her craft this time around. We also got to learn more about Laurentz in this book! He wasn't around as much as I would have liked for him to have been, but we learned a lot of stuff about him, including a secret that he didn't even fully know about himself. He was gallant and responsible, as usual, but he really opened his mind in this book. By the end of the story, I really loved and supported both Rune and Laurentz.

The plot was really creepy, and at times flat out horrifying. Murgia had a lot of my fears in this novel, and I'll admit that I had to have my cat, Joey, protect me one night while I slept after I'd stayed up late reading. Yea, I'm a pansy like that, haha. Murgia's descriptions came alive in this book. I was fully immersed in the historical world she painted, and I felt as if I were there with Rune. The switching from Rune's perspective to Matilde's perspective in the middle of the story really made everything seem more realistic. The author did a fantastic job of showing instead of telling. The writing itself was well-done, and the story unfolded at a fast pace. The ending tied everything up, and the big reveals and action sequences kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't see a lot of the revelations coming, and I enjoyed that.

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to anyone who wants to read a good historical fantasy story with a super creepy twist. This novel isn't light and cheery. As I said, it's perfect for the Halloween season. Give these books a try. You won't be sorry.

Pre-order Castle of Sighs

Saturday, October 17, 2015

DARK HEART OF MAGIC by Jennifer Estep

Rating: C
Something Wicked This Way Comes...

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there's no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he's my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what's supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious "accidents," it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone's going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing's for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else...

My thoughts on the book:
Dark Heart of Magic was a bit of a letdown for me. I generally love Jennifer Estep as a writer, but I knew what was going to happen in this book way before it did. The "bad guy" and the "big reveal" didn't shock me in the least. I don't know if Estep's hints were just really obvious or if I was just super astute while reading this, but it took a lot of the excitement out of the story for me. The characters were fine and developed at a believable rate. The worldbuilding was well done, as usual with the books. The excitement just wasn't there. 

I liked Lila in this book, but she got a little annoying with some of the stuff she did. However, she had grown a lot from when we first met her, and she did some things that made me like her more than I did in the previous novel. Devon was okay, and while he was present a lot, I don't feel like we got to know him any better. Felix annoyed me, and Deah seemed really weak. However all of the characters did evolve over the novel, and I'm interested to see what they do next.

As previously stated, the world-building was well done, and Estep did great with the descriptions. I wish she didn't focus on food so much in every single one of her novels, though. It makes all of her books seem the same at times. The plot was solid enough, but the twists were weak. I saw them both coming from miles away. The ending was a cliffhanger of sorts, even though it did tie up a lot of loose ends in this novel. All of this being said, I'm looking forward to the next installment. Things are about to get interesting. 

Overall, this book and series is a must-read for fans of Jennifer Estep's other novels. It's unique and stands out, but it also is clearly her work. 

Order Dark Heart of Magic

Monday, October 12, 2015


Rating: C+



That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

My thoughts on the book:
We'll Never Be Apart was a solid debut from Emiko Jean. The novel managed to keep me interested the entire time, and I was able to have sympathy for the main character. The writing was top notch, and the narrator's (Alice) voice was believable. The big reveal didn't shock me, though, and the Epilogue kind of bothered me. However, I did enjoy this book, and I'm going to attempt to write this review without giving anything away.

Alice was a great narrator. While I never trust narrators who are institutionalized, I couldn't help but sympathize with her. She'd had a horrible life, and it broke my heart to see what she went through. Chase was a great leading guy, too. It didn't take me long at all to warm up to him. He was a good guy, even though he was broken, and he just wanted to do what was right. The supporting characters, such as Donny (who had a mullet) the tech and the psychiatrist were also well-rounded and intriguing. 

Jean's writing was top-notch. The author really has a knack for great storytelling. The big reveal wasn't shocking; I had it figured out by the 20% mark, but I kept thinking and hoping that I was wrong. That hope kept me turning the pages. The novel was fast paced, and I flew through the pages. Some of the revelations were shocking, but the main one was not. I'm really glad that there are more books coming out that deal with mental health issues. It's so important for people to understand those with mental health problems, and I'm happy to see that more is being done to foster that understanding. The Epilogue was a big letdown, and I really hope that things don't end up the way the author hinted they would. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy psychological thrillers. There were some parts of the story that turned my stomach a bit (some graphic violence), but for the most part, this novel was gritty without being too harsh. It dealt with some real life problems, and sometimes those are harder to take than fantastical problems. This wasn't a feel good book, but it was good nonetheless. It'll stick with me for awhile, that's for sure. 

Order We'll Never Be Apart

Friday, October 9, 2015

THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS Blog Tour Stop Review + Giveaway!!!!

Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Pages: 432
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.
However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort....
Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.
My rating: B+
I absolutely fell in love with this story and all of its characters in the first novel, The Burning Sky, and I knew that I would be with this trilogy until the very end. The Immortal Heights did not disappoint. It was one of the best trilogy endings I've read this year. While the pacing was a bit slow to start with, the character growth, continued world-building, and lovely narrative more than made up for it. I couldn't recommend this trilogy highly enough.
Iolanthe and Titus were two of my absolute favorite YA leading characters. They were a fantastic couple, and the power dynamics constantly switched between them, painting them as equals. Iolanthe is a brilliant leading lady, and she's strong, smart, and powerful. Even with all of the nonstop trouble she faced, she managed to still evolve throughout the novel, and the big surprise to do with her shocked me to my core. I did not see that coming. Titus also grew throughout the novel, and I always loved how he battled between being a "normal" hero and a "princely" hero. I also enjoyed getting to know more about Khaskhari. He was a bit of a mystery up until about the middle of the last installment, so learning about him was a real treat. 
The writing, for the most part, was brilliant, though the use of "his person" or "her person" instead of the word body or anything else STILL annoyed me. Nonetheless, the author stayed true to form, and I admire that. The descriptions were beautiful and completely immersing. The balancing between the real world and the fantasy world was interesting throughout the entire series, how they interacted, and how they stayed separate at the same time. Thomas did an excellent job with that in this novel, too. The pacing at the first part dragged for me a bit, but it was still full of suspense, which kept me reading. About halfway through, the pages flew by, and after an emotional ending, I was left wondering what just happened to the last half of the book. I was in disbelief that one of my favorite trilogies was truly over. 
Overall, I really adored this book and trilogy. If you like fantasy at all, you need to read this series. Fans of Harry Potter will eat this up. If you haven't read any of these yet, pick up The Burning Sky. You won't be sorry. 
About the Book:
Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Pages: 464
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.
The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.
Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Pages: 414
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
About the Author:
Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award.

English is Sherry's second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

Sherry’s next book, The Immortal Heights volume three of her young adult fantasy trilogy, will be available fall 2015.

Author photo by the lovely and talented Jennifer Sparks Harriman at Sparks Studio.

The Giveaway!!!!
For First Place US Only:

1 winner will receive. The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, The Immortal Heights, and a handmade solid lotion bar and some homemade face scrubs, plus a burning sky bag. US Only

Runners Up US Only
 2 winners will receive The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, and The Immortal Heights US Only

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Rating: B
Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men shows up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired. Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word, and her brothers are dead. Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home—a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back? Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans fuses all the heart of the classic tale with a stunning, imaginative world in which a star-crossed family fights for its very survival.

My thoughts on the book:
I absolutely loved Stitching Snow by this author, and when I saw that a companion novel was coming out, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Spinning Starlight did not disappoint. Some of the writing choices the author made didn't really appeal to me, but overall, I really enjoyed the book. I liked the characters a lot, and they grew throughout the story. The pacing was pretty spot on, and the world-building was fantastically done. I hope that Lewis decides to write more fairy tale retellings. 

Liddi was a great leading character and narrator. She was incredibly strong and reliable. She had some hang ups about herself, but that just made her that much more realistic. She had some tough things to go through and some difficult decisions to make, and I think she did her best with the hand she was dealt. Also, she was super smart, and I liked that a lot. We need more highly intelligent female heroines. Tiav was a great love interest. He was her equal and supported her. He didn't act all caveman crazy about things, and he gave her space to do what she needed to do. The rest of the characters weren't focused on much, but they all seemed okay. I wish we could have gotten to know the brothers better. I mean we got flashes of them in the flashbacks, but I didn't feel super attached to any of them. 

The pacing was pretty spot on with this book, and I wasn't bored at all. I really wasn't a fan of the flashbacks. I get why they were there, so we'd care about who Liddi was trying to rescue, but they really broke up the story and made things kind of clunky at times. However, Lewis' world-building was amazing. I could fully picture each of the planets that we visited with Liddi. Also, I really loved the idea of a sci-fi version of a fairy tale. That was a lot of fun. The ending made me cry a little bit, but that just means this was a good book. 

Overall, I'd recommend this novel to anyone who loves sci-fi and/or fairy tales. Lewis is an excellent author, and you don't want to miss out on these stories.

Order Spinning Starlight today!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Rating: B-
Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.

My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed The Jewel, so I was looking forward to its sequel. While The White Rose didn't necessarily disappoint me, it didn't really live up to my expectations, either. The relationship between Violet and Ash is already falling flat, and Raven is annoying, too. The plot itself is okay, but some of the stuff is just not 100% believable, even for a work of fiction. The pacing is a bit slow in spots, and the ending isn't exactly memorable. I'm still looking forward to the next installment, but I'm not as excited about it as I was before reading The White Rose.

Violet is a decent character, even though she's a bit self-absorbed at times. I still enjoy reading from her perspective, and she is growing throughout the course of the novel. Some of her decisions are strange, but overall, she's a pretty solid lead. Ash is getting to be annoying. He's like a child who wants to help his mommy in the kitchen, but only makes a mess. I'm just not a huge fan of his anymore. The same goes for Raven. She's obnoxious and needy, and I kind of just want her to go away. The rest of the characters aren't that memorable. Lucien is becoming pretty interesting, though.

The plot itself is a bit boring in places, though it does take detours through Ash's past. At the end of the day, though, Ash just seems bitter, angsty, and whiny. I would much prefer a different love interest. Anyway, on top of that, the world-building and growth is extremely well-done, The writing itself is lovely and engaging. And aside from some clunky parts, the story flows nicely. The ending isn't exactly memorable, but it isn't awful, either. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Jewel. It's definitely a decent follow-up. 

Order The White Rose

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Rating: F
Release Date: 10/6/15
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

My thoughts on the book:
This book has an amazing premise, and I was so excited to read it. However, it really fell flat for me. The writing is awful. The author doesn't use contractions. at. all. I almost pulled my hair out by the end of the book. The story is a bit convoluted. The characters are all the same, and have the same voice, so when conversations were had, I couldn't even tell who was talking. The ending is meh. The pacing is slow. This was just a dud. I say check it out from the library first. Some people really loved it, but I really hated it. 

The two sisters are just really boring. I can't even remember their names, or if they had names. I dozed off reading this book several times. Also, they were exactly alike. They talked the same and acted similarly. It was so dull. I didn't like either of them. Lo-Melkhiin is also boring. This villain was supposed to be terrifying, but he was a total snoozefest. I really didn't care if he killed everyone and everything. Maybe the world could start over with more interesting characters then. 

The writing was horrendous. In a lot of parts it was unclear, the narrative just didn't fit with the story it was supposed to be re-telling, and the lack of contractions made me want to die. I was hoping Lo-Melkhiin would come for me by the 50% mark, just so I could be put out of my misery. The pacing was so slow that I thought the book would never end. The world-building was unclear at best and non-existent at worst. 

Overall, I'd recommend skipping this book, but since some people did like it, I say check it out from the library. If you enjoy it, that's great. If you're like me and lack of contractions, awful writing, and vapid characters make you want to die, then pass on this one.