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November Rain: This is a Battle of Blood and Genetics

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November Rain (Bad Bloods, #1)

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

Bad Bloods, #1
YA/Dystopian/Urban Fantasy
230 Pages
Clean Teen Publishing
Publication Date: July 18th, 2016
Get a copy here!

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: intricate, interesting world-building; this is a bit reminiscent of The Darkest Minds series; I wish I knew more about the rules and limitations of the “blood” disease; awesome, strong characters; no romance for the win

Huge thanks to Shannon A. Thompson and Clean Teen Publishing for sending me a digital copy of this title free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Okay. So, this book starts us literally off RIGHT in the middle of the action, and that’s great because readers are thrown in and expected to keep their heads above water while the world of our characters is falling apart. But I sort of wish, having finished this first part, that we’d gotten a few more answers along the way. For instance… I feel like I know very little about how the “blood disease” (not quite what it is, but that’s the best way I can think to describe it) works. I guess I wish I knew more of the rules and limitations; it seems like a lot of kids have this affliction, but I’m not sure if it’s ALL the kids. It mentions something about a gene being the cause of it, but it doesn’t say WHO carries that gene or how it’s passed down. And it seems like there are varying degrees of “powers”….but again, it’s not clear how this works. Is it a product of the gene–the more prominent the gene is, the “stronger” your powers? I don’t know, and I wish I did.

The plot, though, is action-packed, and I really appreciated how intricate and complex Shannon A. Thompson made the world-building. It’s not made clear WHY these people are being rounded up and executed, apart from their “differences.” It’s mentioned several times that there are people who support and fight for them, and there are people who turn them in…but it’s unclear if this is a requirement (i.e. if families are required by the law to turn in relatives who begin showing powers) or if they do it out of fear. Actually, I feel like I know very little about the law of this world in general. I know this is set just before election day, and it’s between a man who is willing to fight for and protect the “blooded”…and a man who is willing to kill them all. But beyond that, I’m not sure what the laws are or how they effect the different groups of people–the “blooded,” the normals, etc. So while the world-building seems complex, I suppose I am a bit disappointed in the things I don’t currently know; hopefully book two will help to clear some of my confusion up.

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Regardless, these characters are unique and fun. This is a two person POV, split equally between Serena and Daniel, which I appreciated–it allowed me to see from both POVs, even when the two characters weren’t together, which they weren’t for a large portion of this book. There also seemed to be very little romance between the two main characters. While I think it COULD go that direction, eventually, there is no romance in this first book–instead, the plot is focused on the politics (sort of), the drama of the world around them, and their individual struggles. At this point in the read, while I realize that it *could* happen that Serena and Daniel form a romantic attachment…. I don’t see it happening, which I sort of enjoy about this book. With the pressure of chemistry and “believable romance” taken off the table, Shannon A. Thompson was allowed to better focus on the world-building and the action.

Overall, this was a super intriguing and fun read. The world-building seems intricate and complex, though I’m a bit disappointed in how little we actually KNOW about the politics and rules surrounding the “blooded.” I definitely recommend to lovers of dystopian novels, fast-paced and action-packed plots, and strongly defiant characters. I cannot WAIT to pick up book two; hopefully, it’ll help clear up some of my lingering confusion!

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Damned If I Don’t: These Vampires are not Vegan

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Damned if I Don't

I may be a vampire hunter.
But I’ve single-handedly screwed up big time.

After botching our chance to cure vampirism and the infection that’s killing me, I’m at a loss. My cousin Carl won’t speak to me. The bastard who killed my sister is still alive. And Jude, the amnesiac vampire, says he’s in love with me.

What’s even more shocking is that I love him back.

But the more Jude learns about his past, the more it will tear our relationship and our lives apart. I’m running out of time to find a new successor to become the new Progenitor. Because when I die, it’s game over for all of us.

The Harker Trilogy, #2
New Adult/Romance/Urban Fantasy
292 Pages
Publication Date: March 2016
Get a copy here!

See my review for Damned If I Do (The Harker Trilogy, #1) RIGHT HERE!

 

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: well, THAT was not the ending I expected; I need book three, someone GET ME BOOK THREE!; I cannot even explain; character love, plot adoration, I am hooked; these vampires aren’t shy about biting; watch out for gore; this book hurt my heart so hard

Huge thanks to Erin Hayes and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Oh, my. OHHHH, my penguins–this book! This book knocked me backwards, guys; I’m not sure I’m strong enough to pull myself back up. This book just… Gah. I am so, so sorry I didn’t read this sooner…and yet not, because I need book three, and book three isn’t even a THING yet. Someone, please, get me book three? You’ll be my hero for the rest of forever. Also, someone PLEASE tell me the romance between Edie and Jude finally eventually at some point becomes a REAL THING and not just a danced-around concept, because I mean… THESE TWO! These two characters are just…they’re total romance #goals for me right now, okay? And they need a happy ending. They need…they NEED TO BE. #sobsforever

Let’s start with first things first: these vampires? Are not shy at all about biting. About killing. About being VAMPIRES, because who ever heard of a vegan vampire anyway? (Please don’t answer this, it’s a rhetorical question) The only one who’s partially shy about being who they are, is Jude…and he gets a pass in my mind because amnesia. This plot is FULL of action, battles to the death, and gore. If you’ve got a weak stomach or are easily disconcerted by blood and violence…don’t–I repeat DO NOT–pick up this book, because there’s a LOT of blood and ick and grossness, especially near the ending. (Though I mean, really, if you’re disgusted by gore….why?!?!?! are you reading a vampire book to begin with? They’re not all fluffy ponies, you know!)

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These characters continue to thrive and surprise me–not necessarily because what they DO is surprising, I guess, but because they continue to push forward and retain their…er…optimism? Despite the many trials and tribulations they face? Despite the consistent amount of times they get knocked down? Seriously, someone needs to bottle the optimism some of these characters hold, so I may drink it and be inspired in my own life. MAKE THIS A TEA, penguins! Optimitea, for the win!?!?!

I just… This book. This series. The characters are snarky and snippity and perfect; the plot is fast-paced and action-packed; and danger lurks around every corner. Literally. If you LOVE vampires (and who doesn’t?!), a graphic amount of gore (yas, BLEEEEED!) and a burgeoning romance that has no room to spread wings because END OF THE WORLD HELLO!?…I’m willing to bet you’ll love this series. SO GO PICK IT UP!

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The Boy with Words: Haiku, Star-Crossed Lovers and…Giants?

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The Boy with Words

Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars
460 Pages
Live and Love the Fantasy Publications
Get a copy here!

Two Books in One Volume! (Five Seven Five & Five Seven Six)

White Frost has only ever known the darkness. Everything outside of her closed society is The Unknown – a strange and dangerous place accessible to only a chosen few. White’s only glimpse of the world beyond comes from her beloved cousin in the form of mysterious collections of words that hint at astonishing wonders. When an accident upends her simple existence, she’s given an unlikely chance to see the truth for herself.

What she finds is greater and more terrible than she could have imagined, and before long she is forced to make the most important choice of her life: does she accept her safe, limited world that she’s known or take a desperate gamble in a world not meant for her with the Boy with Words?

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: this was an interesting fantasy story that went an unexpected direction; interesting characters and plot; the romance was believable and made a fairly hefty moral statement; White was weirdly wishy-washy at times; I’d have liked to know more about the HOWs behind this world; definite intrigue and mystery

Huge thanks to C.E. Wilson and Live and Love the Fantasy Publications for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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This book was weird. And by weird, I mean right up my alley!  And by right up my alley, I mean…Do I really have to explain that part to you guys?  I hope not.

 

First and foremost…this was NOT the read I was expecting going in. Based on the blurb, I was expecting a type of dystopian society much like a lot of other novels we’ve been seeing the past few years. What I got? Definitely not that—and I both enjoyed, and was also surprised, by this fact.

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The characters are quirky and a ton of fun. There’s a lot of snark and sass going on, especially from our meddling MC, White… but there are also endearing moments, drama-filled moments, heartbreaking moments… This book, in other words, is filled with ALL THE FEELS, and I enjoyed every moment of the read. I particularly liked the morals being passed along throughout the romance between White and Kes—I feel like there’s a pretty heavy statement being made about love, the outside world, and differences. I feel like there’s a lot to learn from these characters and their journey throughout this read. I feel like more people need to pick this book up, and perhaps find a different way of looking at things. A different perspective, if you will.

 

I was a bit disappointed in White throughout, however. She came off very wishy-washy to me, and I don’t feel like she did a lot of growing (emotionally; no pun intended! or is there?). While Kes goes through so many changes and emotions, I felt like White might have been a bit stunted in this book; I don’t feel we got much from her, apart from her juxtaposed sense of adventure and habit of running away when scared. She was contradictory in many ways, and didn’t, in my opinion, find much in the way of her own ground to stand on, even at the end of the read. Regardless, the romance felt believable, despite the differences in our characters, and the read was both quirky and entertaining.

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Overall, this was a fun, endearing fantasy read—I had a ton of fun following Kes and White on their journey, though I wish there had been more to the world-building. While I know the hows and whys, I’m a little disappointed in how…LITTLE…of the world we actually got to see in this book. I’d still recommend this read to lovers of sci/fi and fantasy; wild, whirlwind romances; and books that make you look at the world from a different perspective. This was a great adventure!

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Cover Reveal–TAXI

TAXI
Cambria Hebert
(a Take It Off novel)
Publication date: May 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

The meter is running…

One night as Rose Crawford steps out of a bar, she gives no second thought to lifting her hand to signal for a cab. After all, it’s the responsible thing to do.

A common occurrence.

Far safer than walking several blocks, alone, in the dark.

A familiar-looking yellow taxi with black, faux-leather seats, running meter on the dash, and a smiling driver pulls up to the curb.

Rose slides in. Gives the driver her address…

But she never reaches her destination.

Instead, she finds herself captive, at the will of a man who isn’t a driver, but a bona fide psychopath.

Trapped in a taxi she can’t escape, Rose begins to panic. As the miles between her and safety grow, hope dwindles. It isn’t until someone else joins her in captivity that her spark of hope is rekindled.

Derek is strong, capable, and surely together they can fight their way to freedom.

Then Rose finds out exactly why she’s been driven into hell. Derek may be an unwilling captive, but he isn’t going to help her.

In fact, he’s there to do the exact opposite.

Add to Goodreads

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Author Bio:

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 

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Bookishly Obsessed (#6)

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This is a weekly post for Saturdays featuring anything “Bookish” I find myself obsessed with.  In most cases, this will be a certain type of book/read/author.  I might branch out to include covers, as well, but we’ll see.  By “obsessed”…I mean I own tons of/go out of my way to collect!

This week:

Complete Series Collections
Post 1=Not a Trilogy

(also, I’ll be denoting how many in each series I’ve read so far!
clicking the images will take you to the FIRST book in the series on goodreads)

Read: 1/6

Read: 7/8

Read: 7/7

Read: 0/3

Read: 2/2

Read: 1/4

Read: 3/5

Read: 3(???)/5
***I think I need to reread these, though…***

Read: 1/4

Read: 1/4
***though I think I need to just start at the beginning, again***

Read: 4/5

Read: 6/6

…And I stop there, because all the OTHER ones I own so far are (of course!) trilogies.  I have a major reading problem!…

Until next time, happy book-ing!

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A Review of Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

– – – – –

Rating: 4/5 Stars (more like 4.5 though guys)
Quick Reasons: ADORABLE Gansey/Blue moments that also simultaneously ripped my heart out because hello we’ve been warned since page one what’s to come and I’m NOT ready; interesting character growth, particularly in Blue; interesting plot; complex characters and relationships; gorgeous prose

So far, all the books in this series have been given 4 stars from me. This is not because I don’t LIKE them; I’m just perhaps not as attached to them as the rest of the world is. I feel like the last book might be the kicker. I feel like the last book is going to break me. I’m so not ready for that.

I have to start here: the prologue for this book?! IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. The prose was lyrical and poetic in a way I haven’t seen much from Stiefvater. I mean, don’t get me wrong, her prose is always poetic…but the prologue somehow seemed MORE, if that makes sense? It was jaw-dropping. I held my breath through all of it. Seriously, the prologue alone… I just couldn’t handle how beautiful it was. How magical. How much of myself it took out of me and left dangling.

In the rearview mirror, he caught Blue’s eyes by accident. Strangely enough, he saw his own thoughts reflected in her face: excitement and consternation. Casually, out of view of Ronan, making sure Adam was still sleeping, Gansey dangled his hand between the driver’s seat and the door. Palm up, fingers stretched back to Blue.

This was not allowed.

He knew it was not allowed, by rules he himself had set. He would not permit himself to play favorites between Adam and Ronan; he and Blue couldn’t play favorites in this way, either. She would not see the gesture, anyway. She would ignore it if she did. His heart hummed.

Blue touched his fingertips.

Just this —

He pinched her fingers lightly, just for a moment, and then he withdrew his hand and put it back on the wheel. His chest felt warm.

This was not allowed.

This book broke me in several ways—and makes me very, very afraid of what’s still to come. The delicate threads of connection between Blue and Gansey; that hint of possible, maybe, in a different life if I wasn’t me and you weren’t you but even still maybe we wouldn’t be doing this… They are going to be the death of me. And that, in itself, is the problem: because we’ve been warned from page one, and even still, despite understanding that there are reasons, that this must be… It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot. These two characters, more than the others I think, I’ve fallen in love with. It’s like reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time; I know it’s a tragedy, and yet I can’t help but let the butterflies take flight. It’s dangerous.

Gansey stepped in then, putting his phone neatly into his pocket, fetching out his keys instead. There was still something stretched thin about his expression. He looked, in fact, like he had in the cave, his face streaked and unfamiliar. It was so strange to see him without his Richard Campbell Gansey III guise on in public that Blue couldn’t stop staring at his face. No — it wasn’t his face. it was the way he stood, his shoulder shrugged, chin ducked, gaze from below uncertain eyebrows.

“SHE WAS ALL RIGHT,” Jesse assured him.

“My head knew that,” Gansey said. “But the rest of me didn’t.

Despite being so connected, so TOGETHER, the characters remain almost aloof. They hold themselves apart while running toward each other at breakneck speed. They keep things to themselves; they work toward different motives; they retain a hold of their seperate senses, personalities, and dreams. For a friendship as strong as theirs, the things they hide are damning…and entirely redeemable. I think that’s the thing I love most about this group: they shouldn’t WORK, as friends. They shouldn’t all get along so well. And yet, they do…but they do in a way you don’t expect. They keep each other aloft while allowing themselves to drown in their own desires, and when those desires become too much, they’re there to pick each other up when they should be running the other direction. It’s a beautiful choreography.

Maggie Stiefvater knows how to write and write well. The atmosphere of her words, the journey she always leads her readers on, the fact that she reminds us TIME AND AGAIN to never stop expecting, to never relax—she is a master of haunting, creepy, jaw-dropping reads. I always feel as if I’ve stepped into a different world when reading her work; as if I’m experiencing something out-of-body, something almost forbidden, something I won’t be able to explain when I wake in the morning.

Blue,” he warned, but his voice was chaotic. This close, his throat was scented with mint and wool sweater and vinyl car seat, and Gansey, just Gansey.

She said, “I just want to pretend. I want to pretend that I could.

As with the other two books in this series so far, I really enjoyed the read. The journey is a difficult one: tough love, heartache, the searing sense of something beautiful coming to a close… But it’s so, so worth it. I recommend this series to lovers of magical realism, poetic/lyrical prose, and breath-taking stories. Despite the heartache I know is rushing at me headlong, I can’t wait to see how this journey ends!

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A Review of Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

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After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: kick ass female assassin; interesting world building and characters; a writing style that made it difficult to pin down or guess plot twists (which I love!); a quasi love-triangle (which…seemed a bit unnecessary?); a lot of weird tie-ins/wrap-up sections in the end that might not have been needed

This is a book I picked up SOLELY because of the amount of rave reviews I’ve seen lurking around the last few months; it seemed everyone was talking about this series, and I decided I wanted to know why.

It took me a little while to actually settle IN to Celaena’s story, to be honest. The beginning, for some reason, seemed a bit rough…as if the author was patchworking all her ideas into a quilt, but hadn’t quite closed up the seams. I have to say, I don’t think I really became invested in the story and the characters until AFTER chapter fourteen; something about the first 13 chapters just didn’t appeal or call to me.

Once I got excited about what I was reading, however, it didn’t take long to get me hooked. The writing is pretty, the style intriguing and thought-provoking. It’s a style that doesn’t leave readers grasping at straws OR guessing the plot twists before their time; instead, it’s a healthy blend of back story, character arcs/motivations, and present action–just enough to keep readers always reaching for more, flipping the pages.

I feel as if perhaps Celaena, our main protagonist (as well as the other main characters) wasn’t really given much room to GROW here. While it’s true she stops seeking escape around every corner or plotting the destruction of everyone who dares look at her, there’s not much past her stone-cold shell and wise-cracking demeanor. I LOVE how fiery and fierce she is, and we are given a few glimpses at a side of her I WISH we’d seen more of in this book–particularly in instances with Dorian.

I wasn’t pleased with the relationship aspect, however. While Dorian and Chaol each maintain their own unique relationships with the assassin, I didn’t see a reason to have it become the quasi love-triangle it did in the end. I NEVER ONCE thought that she and Dorian made a good couple; in fact, I REALLY hated the idea of them winding up “together” at the end of this book. Something about the way Celaena treated him, perhaps, or acted around him… I can’t explain it, but I just couldn’t picture her actually loving him in THAT way. That’s not to say I didn’t like the scenes with the two of them–she’s different around him in a way I hadn’t expected. The scene in the bedroom the morning of Yulemas is one of my FAVORITES, because she lets her guard down completely–we see her in a completely different light, and I loved it. I just… I don’t understand why every book anymore NEEDS a love triangle. They’re usually done only for the drama…and OVERLY done, at that.

The ending, also, seemed a bit…unnecessary? I understand Sarah J. Maas was attempting to clear up loose ends or tie in future plot lines, but… can’t she have done that in a different way? The last few chapters just seemed to DRAG…I wish they’d been written differently, or taken out altogether. I don’t feel (at this point, having only read this first book) we really NEEDED all the wrap-ups we were given. This is a series, after all…shouldn’t some things remain sort of mysterious and unexplained, at least for now?

Overall, I enjoyed this read. The characters are quirky and fun, the story is different from what I’d been expecting; Sarah J. Maas knows her craft, that’s for sure. I will be picking up the next book sometime in the future, definitely!