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Review: BLACK DAWN

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Title: BLACK DAWN
Author: Mallory McCartney
Release date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Clean Reads
Pages: 152
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Description…

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life that is until two mysterious, and dare I say handsome soldiers show up at her apartment doorstep and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Coming from the magical and ravaged world of Kiero, Emory is brought back not realizing that both men are darkly woven in her past. Discovering she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line Emory is thrown into Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne. With both lives clashing Emory uncovers hidden secrets from her past, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

AMAZON PB | AMAZON eBook | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS

NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received from the tour hosts in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.


The Review

BLACK DAWN has a gorgeous cover and an exciting premise but the execution fell a bit short. At just over 150 pages, there wasn’t enough world-building or character development. The beginning, which quickly switched between different character’s points of view, was somewhat confusing and could have benefited from being fleshed out more.

The idea of a girl “savior” who is hidden in another world for her safety, whose memories are erased, and who is taken from that world into one that is in turmoil, where the rebellion is on the verge of collapse, and where the rebels and the villains have special powers, sounds incredible. But not enough history is introduced, the pacing is too quick, the writing is awkward, and not enough attention is paid to the development of story and characters or to the consistency throughout.

There are also problems with flow, imagery, syntax. And there are a number of instances where the characters’ reactions contradict their actions or where facts provided contradict other previously provided facts.

And instead of letting the reader experience certain emotions or actions, the author simply tells the reader. Instead of spending time building connections between the characters, or delving deeper into the characters’ thoughts and feelings about what’s going on, the author introduces unnecessary details.

Taking the time to smooth the transitions, expand the scenes, slow the pace, add more detail, make the grammatical fixes, would have allowed for a stronger bond with the story. It would have given readers a better sense of this new world and its citizens. And it might have made it a much more enjoyable and exciting read.

While some of the issues may be attributable to the fact that this is an advance readers copy, the story’s flaws are far too numerous to have been fully addressed in the finished version, as evidenced from the “look inside.”

BLACK DAWN has elements of fantasy, of a fairytale, of an X-Men superhero story. It has a diverse group of characters that are or could be rather interesting. It promises a sequel with potential that might introduce some or all of what was missing from this novel. Unfortunately, this first installment failed to meet expectations for an epic and thrilling read.

The Rating


Review: A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING

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Title & Series: A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING (Kingdom on Fire #1)
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

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NOTE: This review is based on a finished copy of the book received from Blogging for Books. A kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


The Review

A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is an instantly captivating, utterly enchanting, lightning-fast and unputdownable read. It is filled with delightful, interesting and creepy characters, exciting and deadly battles, dark and light sorcery, secrets, deception and betrayal. It introduces a main character who is strong, determined, loyal and kind-hearted, with amazing abilities, and with dangerous secrets to protect. And it promises to keep readers riveted with incredible writing, intriguing world-building, thrilling magic, a touch of romance, and the anticipation of what is still to come.

In a world where magic is outlawed, having the ability to create fire is dangerous and not being able to keep it hidden could mean death. But with an ability that is hard to control when angry or upset, Henrietta Howel knows she won’t be able to keep her secret for long. Not when everything the headmaster does causes her hands to burst into flames.

And when her secret is revealed at last, she thought she’d be taken to London to be imprisoned or executed. She never imagined that it would be to train with other sorcerers, that she was a sorcerer, that she could be the prophesied one. Or that she could be something else.

With the Ancients wreaking havoc and getting closer than ever before to defeating the sorcerers and with even more more to lose, Henrietta will have to find a way to master her ability, learn to harness all sorcerer powers, and keep all of her secrets from coming to light. A near insurmountable feat at best, but with threats from within and without, her attempt to succeed may just be futile.

Jessica Cluess spun a tale that will make readers fall in love with her characters, their abilities, their world. She created the perfect blend of action, suspense and spellbinding magic. She delivered frightening and gruesome enemies, charming and mysterious sorcerers, along with moments of humor, horror and adorableness, making A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING an absolute must read.

The Rating


About Jessica Cluess

Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

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Review: WAYFARER

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Title & Series: WAYFARER (Passenger #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 544
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Description…

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

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NOTE: This review is based on a copy of the book received from the publicity agency in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eBook copy was purchased for my collection.


The Review

There aren’t enough words to describe just how amazing and incredible and epic a sequel WAYFARER is. It is action-packed. It is suspenseful It takes you to fascinating places and times. It will keep you guessing. It will keep you hoping. It will break your heart again and again. It will take you on an adventure and on an emotional roller coaster. And then it will blow your mind.

Without the ability to travel through time, Etta Spencer and Nicholas Carter never would have met, gotten to know one another, fallen in love. Being a traveler wasn’t inherently a bad thing. But there were risks. And there were often serious consequences. And over the centuries those with the ability to travel, intentionally or not, caused so much damage and destruction that reverting back to the original timeline seemed like the best solution to a growing problem.

But the only way to do that would be to find the device that could make that happen. Again. This time without any clues as to who has it, where it is, or when it is. This time facing even more danger, confronting deadlier foes, working with an even more challenging timeframe. This time searching without each other.

Twists and turns, secrets and betrayal, heartbreak and loss fill this story. Love and hope, strength and honor, bravery and sacrifice infuse its every page. The journeys are harrowing, nail-biting, tension-filled, heart-stopping. The love story is sweet, bittersweet, and so very romantic. The ending is unforgettable.

What Alexandra Bracken did in this follow-up to an extraordinary first book in the series is outstanding. She delivers more beautifully-written passages, paints more stunning pictures with her words, invents more intriguing time-travel locations, introduces more interesting characters, reveals more about the travelers, the families, the past, offers more food for thought, creates more heart-wrenching moments.

WAYFARER will fill you with wonder, bring tears to your eyes, and leave you desperately wishing your travels through time with these characters never had to end.

Expect to be surprised. Expect to be transported. Expected to be riveted from start to finish. And expect to fall madly in love with this rich, gorgeous, and absolutely remarkable read.

The Rating

06

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.


About Alexandra Bracken

Photo credit: John Geyster

Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona. The daughter of a Star Wars collector, she grew up going to an endless string of Star Wars conventions and toy fairs, which helped spark her imagination and a deep love of reading. After graduating high school, she attended The College of William & Mary in Virginia, where she double majored in English and History. She sold her first book, Brightly Woven, as a senior in college, and later moved to New York City to work in children’s book publishing, first as an editorial assistant, then in marketing. After six years, she took the plunge and decided to write full time. She now lives in Arizona with her tiny pup, Tennyson, in a house that’s constantly overflowing with books.

Alex is a #1 New York Times bestselling and USA TODAY bestselling author. Her work is available across the world in over 15 languages.

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Other Books in the SEries

PassengerCover

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Title & Series: PASSENGER (Passenger #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 496
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

Description…

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

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Book Thoughts: VIAL THINGS by Leah Clifford

vial_thingsTitle & Series: VIAL THINGS (Resurrectionist #1)
Author: Leah Clifford
Release date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 221
Formats: eBook

Find it: AMAZON | GOODREADS

Description…

When the resurrectionists of Fissure’s Whipp begin disappearing, eighteen-year-old Allie knows someone is after their blood—or, more accurately, the genetic mutation that allows their blood to heal wounds, save lives and even bring back the recently deceased.

Raised by her aunt after her parents’ deaths, Allie knows staying vigilant means staying alive. She’s trained her whole life to protect herself by any means necessary, from self defense classes to extensive weapons training in knives. Now, she’s gone so far as to befriend a homeless boy named Ploy who unknowingly trades a few nights a week on her couch in exchange for being a human tripwire to those hunting her.

But as Allie and Ploy’s feelings for each other grow, Allie realizes this time, she’ll need more than fighting skills and a sharp blade to beat a villain literally out for blood.

Protecting a girl he shouldn’t love, from a threat he understands too well, Ploy must face his past to save his future in Allie’s world—a world where bringing back the dead can cost you your life.

Note: This review is based on an eARC received from the author’s publicist in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.


Book Thoughts

If you’ve ever read anything by Author Leah Clifford you know it’s going to be unique. And a bit dark. And a whole lot awesome. Well that pretty much sums up VIAL THINGS. It’s all you really need to know. Of course, if you want to know more…

While you may have read stories about resurrection, the method is fascinating. Clifford created a very distinct process with strict limitations and rules that she adheres to. It is definitely not for the squeamish – things get pretty messy at times. (Though if you’re reading a book whose title font is written in blood, you’re probably not one of those readers.) But it is a key component of this story and presents quite a few challenges for the main character.

You also may have read stories that had mystery, thrills, action. But with Clifford’s distinctive voice, her characters really make this thrilling, mysterious and action-packed story memorable and addictive and exciting. Told from both Allie and Ploy’s POVs you’ll get to know their secrets, fall in love with them, feel protective of them. You will definitely be hoping for the best possible outcome even if you think it might be impossible.

It took all of twelve seconds for me to become hooked. The author got my interest with the play on words title and the blood drenched cover. She had my curiosity piqued by the very first sentence telling of a late night job and an accidental death. And she had me hooked with the character’s no-nonsense first words – “Time of death?” – to the crying girl she encounters.

And I remained riveted throughout. From its “icky” moments to its “wow” moments. From its nail biters to its heartbreaks. From the suspense. From the surprises. From the twists and turns.

I could not have loved this story more. (Well, maybe I could have if I had the next book in the series to dive into and didn’t have to wait. But that wouldn’t be fair to this story.) I loved that it was messy and gruesome at times. I loved that the characters were kick-ass and edgy and distrusting and secretive and dirty and a touch odd. And I loved that the author made me believe in her reality – where resurrection is possible and there are people whose job it is to give their life’s blood to make it so.

I cannot recommend VIAL THINGS enough to anyone who isn’t afraid to read about needles, blood, or the gory stuff, and who loves reads that are interesting and different and amazing.

The Rating

06

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.


Review: DAY ZERO by Kresley Cole

Day-Zero

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Title & Series: DAY ZERO (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)
Author: Kresley Cole
Release date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Valkyrie Press
Pages: 180
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Description…

Arcana means secrets, and these Arcana Chronicles short stories from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole are filled with them. Experience firsthand the beginning of the end and behold the apocalypse through the eyes of characters you only thought you knew.

Ashes to ashes . . .
Evie Greene’s story of the Flash is just one of many. All over the world, those connected in some way to the lethal Arcana game–like Death, Jack, and Fortune–must first survive a horrifying night of blood and screams.

We all fall down.
Some will have to grapple with new powers; all will be damned to a hellish new existence of plague, brutality, desolation, and cannibalism. Find out who they lost, why they endure, and what they sacrificed in order to live past Day Zero. . . .

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | GOODREADS

Note: This review is based on an eARC received from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.


The Review

If the wait for the next installment in Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles has been killing you, DAY ZERO is guaranteed to help ease the pain. With Arcana Rising’s release still two weeks away, this companion novel will bring you back into the world, give you heretofore unseen peeks at the characters you adore, detest, or are intrigued by, introduce you to characters you haven’t yet gotten the chance to know, and tease of things still to come in this deadly game they’re playing.

DAY ZERO is not a “take it or leave it” tease of a story. It offers real insight into the game and its players. It expands the world. It’s substantive enough to make you feel invested in the characters’ outcomes. It is every bit as riveting as the full-length novels. And it leaves you just as eager for more.

If you have not yet read the other novels in this series it is not recommended that you read this book, as it does contain major spoilers that are better discovered in context.

If you’re not typically a fan of companion novels, set any hesitation you may have aside. You should definitely read this book. It’s awesome and amazing. It’s not some random plot outside of the main storyline with characters you may or may not be interested in. It involves the main characters, at a pivotal point in the story. It introduces other key characters who either have or will play a major role. And it teases the start to the next book in the series.

Plus, as is always to be expected from Kresley Cole, there is fantastic writing that will make you want to immediately restart the series from the beginning with the information you now know. It will also make you wish you could read even more from the points of view of the characters whose Day Zero experiences she shared.

Whether you’re hoping the game will end without a victor, or you have chosen who you think you want to win, reading DAY ZERO might just change your mind. So, if you are invested in the outcome of the series and its characters, discovering what this novel reveals is an absolute must.

The Rating

06

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.


Coming August 15th

Arcana-Rising

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Title & Series: ARCANA RISING (The Arcana Chronicles #4)
Author: Kresley Cole
Release date: August 15, 2016
Publisher: Valkyrie Press
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Description…

Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . .
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind–but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . .
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter’s reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future–and her chilling past–will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter’s ashes, stronger than ever before?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | GOODREADS


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