Book Review: From Blood and Ash “Just Make it Through the Beginning Parts”

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From Blood and Ash

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Blood and Ash #1

Genre: Romance, NA, fantasy

Publisher: Blue Box Press

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A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

Normally I would just include spoilers in this book (since it’s been released for a while now), but for specific reasons (I will elaborate below) I am making this review spoiler-free so you dear reader who hasn’t read it can go read it.

Why am I making the effort to do this?

Well here’s the things. I actually dropped it myself around almost halfway to this book. It was just…I don’t know, it was a bit confusing? It didn’t capture my attention as well as I hoped in the beginning. Poppy’s first…interactions with Hawke also caused me to mistakenly think of this book as instant love for a while, until I decided to give this book a second chance (and I’m kind of glad I did). Because I ended up enjoying the book quite a lot and binged the rest of it a single sitting.

This is why I’m making this review spoiler-free. JLA did not fail. This book is pretty good. I know that when you first read it you may feel inclined to drop it like I did (if you didn’t already do so). But just trust the process. Finish the entire book. If you still don’t like it? Then it’s probably not for you. But if you gave up halfway you may be missing out on something here. Don’t do that to yourself.

If you like initial attraction to belligerent sexual tension to betrayal then to hate-love? Then I think you would enjoy this book. Obviously, if you ended up not liking this book it’s perfectly understandable because this book didn’t really follow the typical enemies to lover blueprint in my opinon. They had a lot of attraction in the beginning and Hawke never tried to hide his attraction for her either. But there is a pretty pleasant twist at the end and I just really had fun reading this book.

So give it a chance. If you don’t like it, that’s perfectly fine. I ended up enjoying it (very much to my own surprise), that’s why I’m recommending it to you.

Hope you enjoy it!

Rating: 4/5

# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.

ARC Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #1

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Mystery, YA, Contemporary, Thriller, Fiction

View on Goodreads

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

New York Timesbestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

*Sigh*

Where do I start?

I don’t get it. I don’t get it. What went wrong? This book’s synopsis seemed so good. There were no clear things to “hate” about this book, but it just…failed to keep my attention. Reading this book, I failed to experience the Adrenaline rush, the “not being able to put the book down” feeling that I get when I read a book that I truly enjoy. Was it the romance’s fault? Or were my standards for murder mystery too high? A book that I don’t even hesitate to think, “Wow, I goddam love this book”. My experience with this book is more so like I keep putting it down and I keep forgetting about it. And when I try to pick it back up I literally cannot remember anything about what I just read even when I swore I did actually read it. When I finished the book, I sit on it for a while before I wrote my review because I wanted to talk about it with a clear mind. But before I knew it, days passed, weeks passed. Whenever I tried to review it I realized I am forgetting more and more about it…

This is so sad. But here we go (I had to rescan this book multiple times for this review).

Truly Devious follows the protagonist Stevie. Stevie was a huge murder mystery fan, and this her passion. It’s also the thing that got her into Ellingham Academy, the mysterious gifted academy that everyone wants to get into. Looking back, I did not realize the giant logic plot hole behind this school’s entire existence. I saw the words “academy” and I lost all sense of logic. It was only reading this book that really got me to realize how this school’s existence kind of…made absolutely no sense.

First off, Ellingham Academy is completely free. Only the most intelligent, capable students are admitted. Sounds reasonable right? But is it just me or is it…completely unrealistic? A school like this would never exist in real life. I have never heard or don’t think there would ever be a prestigious school that is completely free purely for the sake ofeducation.

Sorry, no offense, but in the world of American capitalism that is never going to happen. And since this book is a contemporary YA novel, I’m going to judge this from the basis of a real-world perspective, because that’s what contemporary is.

Okay, but because this is anoveland interesting plot-line-worldbuildings arenecessary, I am more than willing to temporary forget I have a brain and throw it out of the window for the sake of just enjoying the book, which I’ve done countless time before.

But something else caught me off-guard. The writing style. This book’s unique writing style reminded me heavily of Furyborn. If you remember, Furyborn is a story about two queens who were thousands of years apart, but both their stories had a direct impact on each other. This book is written alternatively between the actual events in the past that Stevie is investigating in the present.

This should be a good thing, because non-linear writing styles can be really cool and eye-catching, right?

But here’s the thing: I never really…liked the Furyborn books as much as other readers.

If I didn’t lose my memory, I gave Furyborn a decent review because just like Truly Devious, I want to give both books credit for the obvious hard work the authors put in the writing, story, and characters. But both failed to capture enough of my attention for me to love it.

However, I would finish it. This series was not horribly enough for me to be like “I would rather remove my eyeballs than to read it again”. So because I have all three copies, me being (such) a frugal person, I don’t want to waste the three books. So look forward to those. So this series definitely still have a chance of transforming my opinion immensely. Let’s see how it goes.

(please be good please be good I actually want to give you a chance)

Rating: 3/5

about the author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

Book Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

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House of Earth and Blood

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: Crescent City #1

Genre: Fantasty, Romance, New Adult, Paranormal

Publisher: Published March 3rd 2020 by Bloomsbury

Goodreads | Amazon

Bound by blood.

Tempted by desire.

Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

my review

Leave it to Sarah J. Maas to create a capable and female character with a very readable slow-burn romance.

Alright, here we go.

Let’s start with Bryce. Bryce reminded me so much of Aelin, because both keep up with an image of fooling around to hide their secret agenda. Both females also tend to not reveal the plan until the last minute because they always get everything done herself. So I may recommend this book to readers who favored TOG over ACTOR (but SJM fans nevertheless).

The House of Earth and Blood is more low fantasy than the typical high fantasy we saw from TOG and ACTOR, because although it still heavily involved supernatural and fantasy aspects such as angels, magic, etc, it was more modern. The vibe from the world-building also really reminded me of the world-building from Angelfall by Susan Ee. Both series had a distinctively modern vibe while still heavily revolving around the famous angel mythology (Raphael, Michael, etc).

And because this is a Sarah J. Maas’ book, all the main cast must be going through some sort of physiological traumas such as PTSD (yes, just think ACTOR and TOG, it’s just like that). Bryce is suffering a lot from Danika’s death, and it didn’t help that she purposely refused therapy and other treatments to keep to wounds fresh for her investigation. Hunt is an angel who was involved in a rebellion (due to…reasons, you’ll see in the book), resulting in him becoming a murder weapon to pay off his “sins”. He has to kill the same number of people that died due to the rebellion for someone else as punishment. The fact that this punishment was literally designed to help one powerful (and arguably evil) individual maintain their power in questionable ways and no one even tried to stop it is beyond me. But at least now he has a chance to get this over with quickly as long as he finds the mysterious murderer with Bryce. Both are strong (and damaged) individuals who were thrown together against their will, so it’s interesting to see how two damaged people in an uncomfortable situation like this would become almost a form of salvation to ease each other’s past pains. All in typical SJM style, of course.

But what made this book more different from SJM’s other two series was the “murder mystery” type plot-line along with the fantasy adventure plot-line. The story largely revolved around Bryce trying to find the true murderer behind a series of death (including her beloved friend Danika), but it slowly transformed into a fantasy-adventure story-line as the investigation into Danika’s death unfolds layers upon layers of ugly truth and mysteries in this world.

My underlining statement regarding this book is that if you love SJM’s books are is her ultimate fan, yes, you should read it. You would find the things you loved about her other series in this book as well, so I’ll pretty much guarantee you would enjoy it, that shouldn’t be a problem. But if you didn’t like her previous books I still would argue you to give it a chance. I feel like this book was more different than any fo the other works she’s ever done so far, so if there’s a chance that you might like one fo her works when you didn’t before, this book might be it.

(but either way please don’t get mad at me if you still didn’t like it ahaha).

Update: Okay I read some other reviews after I published mine, and I realized that even SJM fans may not be a fan of the vulgar language/references and especially how Hunt and Aelin is completely identical very similar with Aelin and Rowan. I thought this would almost guarantee fans to like this book as well if you’re looking for more of what you loved from TOG, but I definitely it’s not guaranteed. So I’m putting this out as a warning to even SJM fans that…yeah, prepare yourself. Good luck, my beloved fellow readers.

Rating: 4/5

about the author

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, Book 4, will be out in September 2015), as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out 5/5/15).

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

Book Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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The Queen of Nothing

Author: Holly Black

Series: The Folk of the Air #3

Publisher: Little, Brown

Genre: Fantasty, YA

Goodreads | Amazon

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

my review

This review has spoilers. You have been warned.

Okay, so I either I somehow read the wrong copy, but did we just get a happy ending?

Oh my god, we got a happy ending.

We got it.

We actually got it.

I’m going to cry.

There is such a popular concept where people believe tragedies equals good writing, and so if your story has a happy ending it’s “cheesy” and hence “badly written”. But I’ve been getting really, really sick of that. I read books, watch TV shows, and movies so that tI can escape reality. If I want pain, I can just to back to reality and stop reading. The reason I read is that I want to live through happy endings in the form of novels.

I cannot be happier with the ending of this series. This series has proved itself and to use readers that you can have the most tortuous and cruel storyline but still end up with a happy and satisfying ending. Although I feel like it is a bit rushed, and logically Cardan’s bad tendencies should take a longer time to be fixed. The entire snake storyline was random and it was over before I knew it. I could see this being one of the biggest hated points in this entire series. However, because I just so goddam static that Cardan and Jude ended up in a happily ever after as High King and High Queen that I completely said “screw it” and threw all the problems this book has out the window.

Now, if you can excuse me, I’m going to go off in my little celebration 🎉.

Rating: 5/5

about the author

Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

ARC Review: Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

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Incendiary

Author: Zoraida Córdova Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Series: Hollow Crown #1 Release Date: April 28th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

View on Goodreads ——————-

I am Renata Convida.

I have lived a hundred stolen lives.

Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

This is a character-driven novel.

This is good and bad news for me. This meant that the characters are very well developed and written out, but that also kind of reduced my enjoyment for the book. The biggest difference between a character-driven and plot-driven novel is while one is how characters affect the plot, the other is the characters’ reaction to the plot.

Also, some warnings for impatient people (like me). This book is almost filled to the brim with italicized flashbacks thanks to our protagonist’s magical ability, but patience is key. Those are very necessary for the development of the story and should not be scanned. I know that there are other readers like me who always kind of lose focus whenever I see “italicization”(it’s like the moment my brain sees them they kind fo turn off), but it’s really important (I promise). So be prepared for these.

It’s also been a while since I read a book with a romance subplot where the two are already a pair, and that was quite refreshing for me. Dez and Renata are both extremely respectable, lovable, and capable loves that are well created. They feel genuinely real due to their solid backstory and creation.

Sadly, this is one of the books where I can recognize its quality and effort, I can’t fill a huge amount of enthusiasm for. Sure, I enjoyed and finished it, but I don’t’ think it was good enough to be one of those books where I would go back and re-read again. It was okay, that’s the best I can say for it.

Rating: 3.5/5

about the author

Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels for kids and teens, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, and Star Wars: A Crash of Fate. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, Come on In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old: Eleven Tales with Fresh Bite. Her debut middle grade novel is The Way to Rio Luna. She is the co-host of the podcast Deadline City with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she isn’t working on her next novel, she’s planning a new adventure.

NOTE: Direct messages on this account may not be seen. Send her an email at zoraidabooks@gmail.com

Blog Tour: Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen ARC Review

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Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance

Author: Jennieke Cohen

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: December 3rd 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fiction

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

I don’t read historical novels often, so this was a refreshing and fun read for me. And after reading this book, I realized I should read historical novels more often. Because I have been learning history throughout the years, my knowledge in this area had grown. Hence, I was able to relate to many of the historical references this book made and improved my reading experience. You know how sometimes you crave specific genres or types of books because you read one you like? I like to describe those books as “catalysts” for these phases, and this is what this book had done for me.

I personally really enjoy the alternating perspectives between Vicky and Tom. Although technically both are from high society, the differences in their financial situation and their gender gave me different perspectives on how their lives are like. Both were really strong, independent, and capable characters that have solid goals in their lives, making them very pleasant to read.

The book’s story has great entertainment value while still touching on serious topics. Although some of those topics are “outdated” because of the time it took place, many could also be cross covered to present-day since a lot of the problems are just reduced, not completely gone.

One last thing: I love how the book carried out the relationship between Vicky and Tom. The interconnected threads that bring them together were complicated but still organized (logically making sense), and I appreciated how the book had a solid story-line that didn’t completely depend on their romance. I love books where there’s a good romance on the side but still exists a solid story for the book to revolve around.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read… and I’m craving historical fiction. I guess I’m going to spend the next hour scrolling through Goodreads’ recommendation lists again (haha).

Rating: 4/5

about the author

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

ARC Reviews: Announcing Trouble by Amy Fellner Dominy

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Announcing Trouble

Author: Amy Fellner Dominy

Genre: YA, contemporary, romance, sports

Page number: 306 pages

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

View on Goodreads

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I may know everything there is to know about baseball, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Or like him. Garrett Reeves: sidelined player and the embodiment of everything I’ve learned to hate about baseball. He’s gorgeous, he’s cocky, he’s laser-focused on getting back in the game, no matter the cost.

When he convinces me to call games alongside him, our chemistry heats up the booth. We’re good together, whether I want to admit it or not. I’m finding that I like baseball again, but even worse, I’m liking Garrett. A lot.

But when he has to decide between our future and a new shot at his dreams, I know baseball will win out every time.

My Review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

I liked this book! When I first requested and received this book (thanks Entangle teen), I was really just looking for a standard YA contemporary book where I can “read and chill” and gush over overly cliché YA contemporary story-lines. Hence why I enjoyed it.

The romance is cute, which largely is thanks to the realistic portrayal of the cast that makes it so no character is annoying enough to make me want to kill my Kindle. The contemporary story managed to have a fair amount of conflict to keep the story going without being too over-dramatic to the point of being unbearable.

To sum up, what this book it’s like, it’s really just the typical YA Entangle Teen perfect for relaxing. But beware: your enjoyment of this book can drastically change depending on what you are craving now. Because I was just craving a fun contemporary book to read with an enjoyable romance, I liked this book. But if I’m wasn’t…then this would’ve been a horrible reading experience and I would have shredded this book in this review due to its unoriginal and “boring” story-line.

So as long as you know what you want (especially if you are just craving an easy fiction book), I would (or would not) recommend this book.

Rating: 3.5/4

about the author

Hi! I’m the author of novels for teens and tweens as well as picture books for toddlers. I love writing stories that will make you laugh, sigh, swoon…and if I break your heart I promise to patch it up by the end. 🙂 New in YA romance: ANNOUNCING TROUBLE: There’s no crying in baseball. But no one said anything about kissing.

I live and sweat in Phoenix, Arizona with my hubby and a puppy who is training us.

Learn more about all my titles at http://www.amydominy.com. You’ll also find a link there to sign up for my newsletter with exclusive news, excerpts, and giveaways.

Follow me on Instagram: @amydominy

Blog Tour: Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel ARC Review + Favorite Quotes + Exclusive Giveaway

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Every Stolen Breath

Author: Kimberly Gabriel

Publisher: BLINK

Release date: November 5, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

View on Goodreads

__________________________________________________________________________

The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the master puppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review:

Three topics I want to talk about:

– The dangers of mental disorder associated labels

– The protagonist’s sarcasm is beautiful

– Not too cliche

– Really original idea actually

– Wasn’t stretched for the sake of being longer

– The pleasant blend of different genres that make up the unique vibe of the book

As you can see from the (extraordinarily sophisticated) list I made above that I’m totally going to discuss in order, I…actually really like this book. It was a book that I not only enjoyed for the sake of entertainment but also because of the deeper messages I can associate with.

Lia’s treatment from the people around her – including even her closest friend and mother – really reminded me of the unfortunate topic of labels. I have heard this from countless people who have voiced this (which I cannot agree more): the labels that associate with mental disorders is completely unjust. When you have a cold, people would not look at you differently or treat you with prejudice especially after it’s gone – there’s no label in society for “people with cold”. However, if people catch wind (even if it’s a rumor) of you having any sort of mental disorder, you get labeled – and this label is embedded to you no matter how long as passed and whether you still have it or not. This is a truly tragic phenomenon that ruins people’s lives and greatly hinders the progression of mental health improvement among people.

But even within just a grim topic, Lia makes everything better even for me as a reader. Her pure sarcasm toward the ignorance of people around is truly the most beautiful thing I have seen I’ve seen in a long time:

“Both library assistants are absorbed with their computers. Before a social worker or principle comes to whisk me away to a private room where I can discuss my feelings on the tragedies of my life, I need to at least figure out who the rest of these men are”.

(That was beautiful *dramatically wipes away tear*)

Lia’s brilliant narration also boosts the entertainment value of the book despite its grim themes around 50 – 70%, which makes it one of the biggest reasons why this book was a hit for me personally.

Another praiseworthy aspect of the book is in its originality, which is a byproduct between the incorporation of the futuristic-like story-line to young adult mystery and romance. The whole concept of “swarm” was really interesting – and frankly quite realistic for a story that took place in another replicate of our world that is not our own. This threat doesn’t feel over-the-top and definitely has a symbolic undertone open to the reader’s interpretation.

Ultimately, I would recommend this book for people who are purely looking for entertainment and readers who are craving books with a deeper connotation.

Rating: 4/5

favorite quotes

“My Cell buzzes like it’s having a seizure, pulling me from a deep sleep…”like a puppy who wants to be fed, my phone won’t shut up.

This is exactly why I don’t have a dog”.

“I library assistant with heavily dyed dark hair and red lipstick peers down at us. I scan the library for the other library assistant, the one I first talked to when we came in. I want her to wave her friend off, but he’s nowhere to be sen. I can’t remember her name to even reference her. Just like this library assistant, they tend to blend in with every other nameless adult wandering the hallways of our schools. It would be so helpful if they worse name-tags like waitresses at dinner”.

“‘I give us five minutes, tops’. Adam directs my attention to the library assistant returning to the circulation desk. She whispers to her anonymous colleague, something about us that causes Library Assistant Number Two to glance my way with a look of horror and pity. One of them picks up the phone.

‘Five minutes is generous,’ I say.”

“Mr. Mater starts talking to both library assistants, who once again flash me a look of pity.”

exclusive giveaway

about the author

Kimberly Gabriel started writing in fourth grade when she wrote, bound, and gave away books of terrible poetry to family and teachers as holiday gifts. Today she is an English teacher, who still squanders all free minutes to write and uses it as the best scapegoat for her laundry avoidance issues. When she is not teaching or writing, Kimberly is enjoying life with her husband, her three beautiful children, and a seriously beautiful boxer in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Every Stolen Breath is her debut novel and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

ARC Review: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

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The Shadows Between Us

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre: Fantasy, YA,

Publication date: February 25th 2020

Publisher: MacMillain

View on Goodreads

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.

2) Marry him.

3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

A lot of times (especially recently), more unique or “less-common” works are appreciated. If a work – especially if it’s more high profile – gives off even a little bit of cliche or cheesy vibe, that often would become a huge source of controversy among the readers. People these days seem to associate cliche and cheesiness immediately and indefinitely to be flawed.

This book reminded me how books – and works in general – could have some cliche (arguably cheesy) moments while being INCREDIBLY enjoyable (and a good book too). I have read so many different books that have the more unique story-lines but still….bored me to death, to the say the least. But although this book could be a little bit stereotypical with the behaviors between the characters (and their lines) in the end, it’s not…bad. It did not negatively affect my reading experience (if any at all).

If this is causing you to be wary to read this book – please don’t. It’s really not that bad, and it’s not that common. Also, if it makes things better, there’s a decent plot-twist at the end that improved the general quality of the plot as well (it was very well-thought-out and not random).

Among all these good things, some things stood out not just good but quite exceptional. One thing is the character’s nature and personality.

Are you sick of reading stereotypical kind-hearted protagonist that always spare the villain because “he’s not worth it” or any other things like that? Especially the villain almost always come back to do the same thing?

This book would be the anecdote to the absolute frustration from those characters.

The logic nature of Alessandria and the Shadow King paved way for the one particular scene near the end which demonstrates how different these two are from stereotypical characters. I can’t say much because of spoilers, but do you remember how a lot of times, powerful people in stories would not use their full abilities to solve problems (so the story can be longer and create more “drama”)?

Yeah, that’s all I’m going to say.

Rating: 4.5/5

about the author

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing OVERWATCH, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Blog Tour: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring Promotional Post + Exclusive Giveaway

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The Tenth Girl

Author: Sara Faring

Publisher: Imprint

Release Date: September 24th 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Historical Fiction

View on Goodreads

———————

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Exclusive giveaway

Prize: Win a copy of THE TENTH GIRL by Sara Faring (US Only)

Starts: 18th September 2019

Ends: 2nd October 2019

about the author

Born in Los Angeles, Sara Faring is a multi-lingual Argentine-American fascinated by literary puzzles. After working in investment banking at J.P. Morgan, she worked at Penguin Random House. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in International Studies and from the Wharton School in Business. She currently resides in New York City. Her first novel, The Tenth Girl, will be released by Macmillan/Imprint on September 24, 2019. Sara is represented by Sarah Bedingfield at Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency.

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