Book Review: Winter Falls by Nicole Maggi

Genre: 

Young Adult, diagnosis Fantasy, discount Romance

Pages: 

N/A

Part of a Series?:

First in the Twin Willows Trilogy

Release Date: 

December 22nd, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small town of Twin Willows, Maine. Things look up when a new family comes to town, but when she falls for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.

Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals.

Alessia never would’ve suspected it, but her boring town is the site of an epic struggle between the Benandanti and the Malandanti to control powerful magic in the surrounding forest.

As Alessia is drawn into the Benandanti’s mission, her relationship with Jonah intensifies. When her two worlds collide, Alessia’s forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make.

My Review:

 

After meeting Nicole recently at the Ontario TBF, and moderating not one, but two panels with her, I knew I had to get my hands on her books. She had so much to share about her series and it sounded so intriguing especially since she had done so much research about the Benandanti, and it just all sounded really awesome. Plus she was so passionate about her books and I just loved Nicole period.

And I’m so glad that TBF, as usual, brought a new author into my life because I truly enjoyed this book. I’ve been in somewhat of a slump lately (as you could probably tell from my lack of reviews) and was pleasantly surprised when I borrowed the ebook from the library and proceeded to devour in the span of one day.

Nicole has a way of capturing your attention immediately from page one until the last. The idea of a normal young girl discovering there’s much more to her own story than she thought is not something we haven’t seen before but I loved the way that Nicole tackled it. Alessia has a very unique power, being able to separate her soul from her body, transform into a falcon and become a part of the Benandanti. But she also shares it with others as well. I liked that. Yes, this was a journey she had to take within herself but she also became part of something bigger than herself and I loved every bit of it. I was rooting for more than just Alessia, I was rooting for her companions and everything that the Benandanti fought for.

But I also love the romance. As someone who usually spends most of her time writing romance, I appreciate a story that can balance some really great fantasy with really great romance and I absolutely love the connection and story between Jonah and Alessia. It feels whimsical, magical, unbelievable, like a fairy tale almost (which is how the story feels at time, in a good way!) but it also feels real, because when you fall in love for the first time, all of those things are so true!

I’m really excited to see what Nicole has done with the first book of this trilogy and even more excited that I don’t have to wait long for the next installments. I just need to get my hands on them to find out what happens next, especially after how the book ended! I had a feeling something…big was going to be revealed but it wasn’t quite the way I had expected and damn, I have no clue of how this is going to play out but I definitely can’t wait to see how its done!

Rating: 

4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Power by Jennifer L Armentrout

Genre: 

New Adult, order Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 

344 pages

Part of a Series?:

Second in the Titans series, companion to the Covenant series

Release Date: 

February 23rd, 2016

You Can Find the Book At:

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GoodReads Summary: 

With any great change, there is always strife, and the Covenant University has become the frontline between pure-bloods who want the Breed Order reinstated and the half-bloods who want the right to control their own destinies.

Fate has other plans.

 The violence is escalating and war between the races seems inevitable, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Hyperion may be out of commission, but Josie and Seth know they have only earned a reprieve.  Seth must get Josie fully prepared, which means controlling her newfound abilities, and they need to find the other demigods before the Titans do.

 But the gods are sensing a greater threat. 

 Only one thing is more dangerous than a bunch of starved Titans, and that’s an out-of-control Apollyon. The aether in Josie is drawing Seth in deeper, and when lust mixes with love and gives way to power, he knows being close to her is not only dangerous to her, but to everyone around them, but letting her go requires a level of selflessness that just isn’t Seth’s style.

 The paths taken in the past are becoming the roads of the future.

 Just as chaos breaks out, familiar faces from the past return, complicating the already strained bond between Josie and Seth, and when the danger from the Titans erupts with devastating consequences, the dark allure of power calls to Seth again, but this time Josie might not be able to pull him back.

 And when the struggle between power and love becomes the deadliest battleground, there may be no salvation.

 

My Review:

I was so afraid that when I went to read this book, I wouldn’t remember a thing about the first book and I was mostly right about that. I read the ARC of the first book nearly two years ago, so I had forgotten a little bit about what was going on. Luckily, the story picks up quickly and I was caught up fast. I immediately fell back in with Seth and Josie, both of whom I love to death.

What I really loved about this book was the struggle that both of the characters were going through. Seth really is trying so hard to be different than literally what he was born to me. And its a physical struggle for him and there are times when I want to throttle him and there are times when I just want to wrap him in my arms and cuddle him like a little baby. Oh, Seth, he does things to a reader’s emotions, especially since we had gotten to know him so well, as the bad guy, in the Covenant series. But I adore him, and I feel so much sympathy for his struggle, especially since he cares for Josie so insanely much.

Oh, and Josie! This is a girl after my own heart! I love her stubbornness and I love her flaws and I love how she is trying so hard to be a demigod and learn and harness her powers to get ready to fight the Titans but she’s also in love with French fries and she struggles with her feelings for Seth. I love that she’s SO incredibly human, because despite the fact that she’s this great power and she’s intended for great purpose, she’s so relatable. She reminds me of Alex that way.

Which brings me to my FAVORITE part of the whole book, the fact that we get to have Alex and Aidan back! I love the Covenant series so much, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love that series and Alex is one of my favorite characters ever, period, and that series has been so incredibly influential to me. So having them back, both evolved characters from when we knew them in their own series, but also so so…them, was amazing. Any time they were on the page, I did a little happy dance in my chair. I hope to see more of them in the next book!

And the next book! I need it now. Its called The Struggle, which is a fitting title since it doesn’t come out til NEXT YEAR. I don’t like waiting, especially after that incredible ending. I knew something big was coming but what happened was so unexpected and I am dying to find out what happens next!

All in all…another fantastic book by JLA!

 

Rating: 

5 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Passenger (ARC) by Alexandra Bracken

Genre: 

Young Adult, page Fantasy

Pages: 

464 pages

Part of a Series?:

First in a planned trilogy

Release Date: 

January 5th, adiposity 2016

You Can Find the Book At:

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Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

passage, diagnosis 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

My Review:

I am actually kind of sad that this is the first novel that I have ever read by Alexandra Bracken. I have owned The Darkest Minds for quite awhile and haven’t read it because honestly I just haven’t gotten to it. I was lucky enough to get this ARC of Passengers (which came in the coolest ARC box – see picture below) and I dove right in. I mean, look at that book cover. That book cover is absolutely gorgeous and that book grabs you as soon as you open the cover.

This book is absolutely incredible. I think its such a great blend of fantasy and history and mythology. I love that there is a time travel aspect and I love that it just flows seamlessly, that it just works. It gives that sort of fantasy to it but Alexandra writes it so well that it just is so easy to accept. I love time travel and I love this approach to it. Its beautiful. Its a beautiful example of world building and I give Alex massive props for creating it. I love it all.

I also love the history aspect of it. Seriously. A lot of research had to go into it. This book jumps from 2015 to the 1800s and the 1600s and World War 2 and all over the place and I love every single moment of it. I am a former history major and I love history. I love historical novels so the various time and places that Etta and Nicholas visit are just beautiful. I seriously hope there is more of that in the sequel, I imagine so, because that was easily my favorite part of the book. I love the time travel and the history and the myths and the way it sort of flowed together. It was part fantasy and part science fiction and 100% amazing.

I also really loved the dynamic of Etta and Nicholas. There is obviously a romance there but the difficulties between them are so real. Two different time eras, and the way they think and the way they were raised, the things they want in life. And then there’s this complication of them running through time, on an endless scavenger hunt for a hidden object. And Nicholas is, I believe, half-black, which makes him traveling through time, difficult, to say the least. There are so many aspects to this novel, obstacles and such and they’re blended so wonderfully. I loved it.

I loved every bit of this novel. I am seriously so impressed with this novel and I can’t wait to get the finished copy in my hands. I’m so lucky that I got to read it early because seriously it was so good.

The only problem with it though is now I have to wait MUCH longer for the sequel.

I’m so bad at waiting.

 

Rating: 

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

Genre: 

Young Adult, side effects  Romance

Pages: 

373 pages

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

October 7th, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

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Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

My Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for so so long. But I was avoiding baseball books, especially romances because I was writing my own. I’m so glad that I finally was able to read it and I’m so glad I did.

This book combines two of the things that I love the most: baseball and romance. And it makes me so happy. I also really loved that it was very different from the books I’m writing haha so I didn’t feel a despair at failing to write as well as Julie. Because she writes so well and I totally loved her story.

And I seriously loved Jason. Oh god. He’s a fictional baseball player but I love baseball players. Oh how I love baseball and baseball players and I was so in love with Jason Brody, both as the guy off the field that Annie falls in love with and the incredible pitcher on the field. He’s an incredibly complex character and I love him so much. Thank you, Julie Cross, for extending my love of baseball boys into the fictional world. Really, I didn’t need that.

I think the thing that made me love this book the most was the blend of romance and sports. There was a great balance between the two. I think that’s hugely important when it comes to sports related books. Not everyone is going to love it so you have to find a great balance. There’s a ton of romance, but great romance, a realistic beautiful friendship, leading into a believable, great romance. And there’s a lot of great baseball.

I loved every time the Royals played the Angels. I was like, ah, my babies. But, like, the Royals wouldn’t beat them ;)

Actually they probably would…

Go Angels!

Anyway, I really loved this book. Not only was it great to read a really great romance, it was great to get some baseball love too. I think Julie writes a great novel and I love all the characters in the book. Annie, Jason, Annie’s father, all of them. Great characters, great story. The story flows well and it works so great. I love it. I wish she would write more!

 

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Leveled by Jay Crownover

Genre: 

New Adult, buy Romance

Pages: 

224 pages

Part of a Series?:

Prequel Novella to the Saints of Denver series. This is a spinoff of the Marked Men series.

Release Date: 

November 2nd, clinic 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

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GoodReads Summary: 

Orlando Frederick knows what it is to be leveled by pain. Instead of focusing on his own, he’s made it his mission to help others: sports stars, wounded war vets, survivors of all kinds. But when Dom, a rugged, damaged, sinfully attractive cop, makes his way into Lando’s physical therapy practice, he might be the biggest challenge yet. Lando loved one stubborn man before and barely survived the fallout. He’s not sure he can do it again.

Dominic Voss is a protector. The police badge he wears is not only his job, it’s his identity, so when he’s sidelined because of an injury, the only thing he cares about is getting back on the force. He expects Lando to mend his body, he just doesn’t realize the trainer will also have him working toward a hell of a lot more. As attraction simmers and flares, Dom sees that Lando needs repair of his own…if only the man will let him close enough to mend what’s broken.

My Review:

Dear Jay Crownover:

Damn girl, you write some good M/M. And I think this was a GREAT introduction into the Saints of Denver. It may have taken me some time and push to get into the Marked Men series but I fell hard and I’m so excited for the Saints of Denver series. More tattoos, more sexy men and more romance and drama. Everything that makes Jay’s novels fabulous.

So I loved this short introduction into the series. I discovered recently that I really enjoy reading M/M stories. I wasn’t sure if I could relate to them at first. I’m obviously not a boy. I’m not a boy attracted to other boys. I’m great at hetero-romances and I’m great with lesbian romances (yay for being bi!) but I wasn’t sure if I could connect.

I was proven so so so wrong. I loved the first few M/M books I read and now I seriously love this book. Dom and Lando have such a quick, and crazy relationship but I love every single moment of it. I love how they meet, I love the immediate chemistry, I love how they fall in love. I’m rooting for them from page one to the last page. There’s something about them that just seems to work.

Plus, sweet jesus, Jay Crownover has a way of writing the sexiest scenes sometimes. She makes me pant even in an M/M story and I love it.

I did have a small problem with a decision that Dom makes at the end of the novella. I thought it was a slight cop out and I was a little disappointed that he made it. I have been trying to rationalize it as sacrifice or compromise or something like that but I don’t know, its hard for me, especially…okay, its so hard to do this without spoilers. But read it and talk to me and I’ll explain haha. Because despite this little tiff I had, I still loved this novella and can’t wait to read the first book in less than a month!!!

 

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Genre: 

Mature Young Adult, cost  Romance

Pages: 

496 pages

Part of a Series?:

First in the Thunder Road Series

Release Date: 

May 26th, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

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Book Depository

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

My Review:

I absolutely adore Katie McGarry. I think her books are absolutely fabulous. Before I turned my novel Benched into a straight up new adult novel, I was trying to accomplish that sort of in-between YA and NA feeling that she has in her books and damn, I just don’t do it the way she does. She blows my mind every single time in creating fabulous characters and incredible stories.

Here’s the thing: the whole motorcycle gang thing has never ever appealed to me. I don’t know. I love motorcycles but the story of it really never appealed to me. But its Katie and I figured…I need to read this. She just writes such fantastic romance stories and I was so in the mood for one of those.

Now I want to be part of the Reign of Terror. The camaraderie and the family feeling and all the amazing characters that Katie created in that family ….I love them all. I want to be a part of that. I love that there is such a family feeling to it. There’s a magic to the way Katie describes the Reign of Terror, who they are, what they stand for, the things that they do. God I loved every single bit of them. I wanted so badly to be a part of all that.

I also, of course, just loved the romance. The build up between Emily and Oz, the undeniable chemistry, the way they get together. Be still my beating heart, it was beautiful. As always. Katie writes amazing, but also incredibly realistic and relatable romances. I always love all the couples. They don’t always have happily ever afters, and they have to work hard for the things they want. Its not easy. Its ups and downs and Emily and Oz have all of those. And that’s what makes their relationship so beautiful.

But its more than that. Its more than just the romance novel. Emily creates a bunch of new relationships and I love every bit of her. Her grandmother, her grandfather, her biological father, new friends, Oz. She even builds different relationships with her mother and stepfather. I love that its about discovering different parts of herself and figuring out how she can expand her family, to both biological and not biological people. Its so much about her overcoming fears and growing up and I loved every bit of it.

And I’m seriously DYING for the sequel.

 

Rating: 

4 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Stand-Off by Andrew Smith

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

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