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Friday, January 12, 2018

Release & Review - Everless (Untitled #1) by Sara Holland

Title: Everless
(Untitled #1)
Author: Sara Holland
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

Buy Link: Amazon

3.5 "Time is Money" Stars

Everless’ time is currency concept was definitely the thing that appealed to me the most when I first heard of it, and this remains the best part of the story now that I’ve finished reading it.

I don’t know if the author took inspiration for this concept on that Justin Timberlake movie—In Time—but there were some similarities there. Not enough to make the book seem like a copy of the movie, though. Either way, I thought that the world the author created here was pretty impressive.

Aside from the idea that time can turn into blood-iron coins that, if digested, add days/months/years to a person’s life, the story also comes with its own mythology about two ancient and powerful beings, a Sorceress and an Alchemist, who, in their quest to keep their immortality, have turn into enemies.

All of that is the background for the world inhabited by Jules, a girl who grew up in Everless in the company of the two very rich Gerlings brothers, Roan and Liam—one who Jules believes to be good, the other bad, but things might not be as they seem at first. After an accident, Jules and her father are forced to flee Everless and that’s when all the starving and struggling to survive begins. Many years later, out of option, Jules decides to go against her father’s warnings and returns to Everless to work as a servant for the wedding between Roan and the Queen’s adoptive daughter.

My first issue with the story starts here, because Jule’s father clearly knows something big. Something that has the potential to endanger his daughter’s life, but instead of telling her what it is, he simply begs her not to go back to Everless without giving her a reason. Jules got on my nerves plenty of times later, but I couldn’t blame her initial decision to go despite her father’s vague warnings. The man was practically dying, and I would’ve been much more irritated at her if she had sat back and done nothing. Later on, her father gets another chance to tell her the truth, but decides to keep being vague until he can tell her nothing more. *sighs* All this holding back information obviously serves no other purpose but to keep the main character in the dark until the big reveal. It works, but it’s a little annoying.

Something else that annoyed me a lot was Jules’ recklessness, especially toward the end. It was incredibly hard to follow her line of thought when she made decisions that were clearly not very smart and were bound to end up in disaster—as they did. I found myself rolling my eyes more than once when it came to her complete lack of strategy. It seemed that she often sent a prayer up, wished for the best scenario and jumped into the most dangerous situations, then she’d blame her lack of luck for the obvious outcome. Girl, please!

She wasn’t all bad as a protagonist, but she wasn’t all that likable, either. Her impulsiveness and naivety made it hard for me to connect with her. Despite having a feeling that things weren’t as they seemed, Jules often stuck with blurry memories from her childhood, ideas her father had put in her head and concepts that no longer applied. She didn’t try to see things from a different perspective, no matter how many signs there were that maybe, just maybe, things weren’t exactly how she thought. This, for example, is the case when it comes to the Gerlings brothers. I don’t know if everyone will see things the way I did, but I could see from the start where that was leading.

Jules was also quick to trust the people around her. Although, I can’t quite blame her for the big reveal in the end, because not even I could see that one. The villain caught me totally by surprise—great job on that part—so I’ll cute Jules some slack.

Speaking of the villain, I think her motivation works well and the whole thing behind the big reveal was smart and well-planned. That and the world the author created were my favorite things about the book by far! 

But I was confused about how the villain got that “breaking the heart” solution. Was that just a guess she was willing to try because she’d failed in her previous attempts? Or was she sure it’d work with the right person? If so, how did she get that information? Maybe the sequel will bring the answer to that and to some other questions that were left unanswered.

As to the romance, I’m guessing that will be left for the sequel, too. At least I can’t complain about the direction it seems to be taking, because Jules’ infatuation with her childhood crush made no sense whatsoever. She hadn’t seen the guy in ages, but I was supposed to believe she was so in love with him still? Other than that, the whole thing came a little too close to cheating for my taste, and Jules never once showed any sign of regret for lusting after another woman’s man (something that was even worse after she found out the truth about the princess).

Despite my reservations, Everless was a quick, entertaining read. I don’t imagine it’ll be on my top reads of the year list, but it wasn’t bad, either. Besides, the book also gets extra points for that pretty cover!

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: The Cruel Prince
(The Folk of the Air #1)
Author: Holly Black
Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: January 2th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Adults

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Buy LinkAmazon

4 "Teen Scandal in Fae  World" Stars

The Cruel Prince didn't turn out to be the five-star read I was expecting. But it was close.

A mix of ACOTAR, Game of Thrones and Scandal, it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. Still, it was still a lot different from what I expected. Maybe it was how light on romance and high on scheming and betrayals it was. Maybe it was my lack of experience with anything Holly Black. Whatever it was, it was different--but still pretty amazing.

Cleverly plotted, The Cruel Prince stood out in a crowded YA Fantasy market because of the main character’s arc and also because it was smart and focused on more than world building (thought that was beautifully detailed). It was a story about finding/making your place amongst those who don't respect you, about making tough choices, about fearing and overcoming fear, about loyalty and family. 

Despite the fact that I guessed early on the turns the story took, I still thought it was a smart book. It made the main character, Jude, seem smart. Sure it reminded me a lot of Shonda Rhyme's Scandal, but in a good way. And though the TV series hasn’t been as stellar as it once was, I guess I can’t fault the writers’ intelligence and creativity when it comes to plotting intrigues and betrayals. The same can be said about Holly Black regarding The Cruel Prince.

Jude is my kind of heroine. Lost at first, but desperate to find purpose. Badass with and without a sword. Clever and cunning. She's a no-white-hat (fans of the show will get the reference)  and yet likable Olivia Pope. Jude is the Olivia Pope Shonda Rhymes wished she had written these past couple of seasons, because Jude managed to become the big player, the powerful one without turning into the person everyone hates. I can't go into details about how she gets there because of spoilers, but she is the one to fear now and I wholeheartedly approve!

Now, I didn't care much for Jude's relationship with her twin sister, despite the interesting drama in the end. Nor did I care for the lackluster romance with Locke. But I loved the borderline absurd and extremely complex relationship between Jude and her "father"--the man who killed her real parents and kidnapped her into the fae world. Side note: despite my comparison to ACOTAR by Sarah J. Maas, The Cruel Prince presents a fae world much more complex and detailed, and also much darker. Anyway…Jude loved her “father”, just as much as she feared and hated him for who he was and what he'd done, and in the end, she almost became him. Once again, I have to compare that relationship with the one between Papa Pope and Olivia. The man is a monster who loves his daughter but will still does monstrous things to her. And the daughter fears and admires him while she travels down a path that will lead her to become him. It’s as dark and emotional as it sounds, and it’s what made this story so interesting to me.

That, and Cardan, the Cruel Prince himself. Fear and hate mixed with something else were also themes for Jude's relationship with Cardan. And I loved it and him. Sure Caran was a huge jerk during the first part of the book, but it was clear that there was more behind that facade. I got major Rhys from ACOTAR vibes from him. *swoon*

Since Jude was convinced Cardan hated her and was intent on destroying her, she ignored the signs that he wasn't as he seemed, but those signs were still there and they were many. I also adored how Jules acted/reacted when it came to him. For those worried that she'll turn into a love sick puppy because "Oh, Cardan is a prince and he's oh so pretty despite being so cruel", you have nothing to worry about. Jules is too smart for that. She knows better and she'll make Cardan work to get her forgivness. 

I’m already obviously Team Cruel Prince all the way, because what were the chances I’d resist a smirking, antihero hottie?

The romance fan in me wished we'd seen more of Cardan and Jules' awesome dynamic in this book, but I'm betting we'll get plenty of that in the sequel. With everything that was going on in Jule's life, the hints of romance were left for the later chapters, and I was beyond ready for it. Again, spoilers will prevent me from saying much, but I can't complain that things are still unfinished and even more complex now, because that makes me desperate for book 2. 

Overall, The Cruel Prince was a stunning start to what I can see will become a favorite series, introducing a smart, complex and likable main character, a strong world, tons of intrigue and the hints of what will be a enemies-to-lovers, slow burn romance that will make my heart beat fast. Basically, it's a lot of what I wished I had seen in the past few seasons of Scandal, one of my favorite shows.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Release Blitz - Tuesdays at Six by KJ Lewis



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  To say his life has been turned upside down would be laughable at best. In a business where people's livelihoods depend on the decisions he makes every day, Walt Nelson never wanted a life built around anyone but himself. With a fiancée equally versed in self-centeredness, he is living the life he created, until the call that changed everything. Forty-eight hours later, he buried his best friend and became the guardian to his two daughters. Forced to admit his life is no longer just about him, he hires his brother's personal assistant in a moment of desperation. His goal, to survive this new normal until he can arrange a boarding school for the girls. The last ten years have kept Samantha Abbott in an endless cycle of regret and sorrow as she slowly rebuilt a life she never wanted- a life alone. When her boss's brother offers her a job that solves her money troubles, her only goal is to put her past behind her. What she gets is a head-on collision between a loss she has yet to survive and a love she doesn’t think she deserves.  


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Portrait of kissing attractive couple

Love in the rain / Silhouette of kissing couple under umbrella  

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KJ is a novelist, hot tamale-addict, and an abolisher of grammar. When not writing, you can find her reading at the beach, exploring New York City, or hanging out in her hometown of Memphis, TN. She started hitting Amazon's top 100 lists with her first novel, Taylor Made, in 2016. She is currently working on the next installment in the Sunday Love Series.


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Monday, January 08, 2018

Blog Tour & Review - Nikan Rebuilt (Preload #3) by Scarlett Cole

Title: Nikan Rebuilt
(Preload #3)
Author: Scarlett Cole
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press SWERVE

Review & Excerpt Tour for NIKAN REBUILT by Scarlett Cole

Does the past ever really stay in the past? Find out in Scarlett Cole’s NIKAN REBUILT, the steamy, third standalone in her rockstar romance series, Preload. After years of no contact, Nik and first love Jenny’s connection still blazes between them. Will they have their second chance at love? Or will the weight of their past crush their future together?
Don’t know about you, but we love a great Rockstar romance. And Scarlett Cole knows how to write a great Rockstar romance. We are excited to share with you NIKAN REBUILT, book three in Cole’s Preload series. Follow the tour for reviews, excerpts, and enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card + ebook copies of JORDAN RECLAIMED and ELLIOTT REDEEMED!

From the queen of heart-pounding, sexy, emotional romance Scarlett Cole comes Nikan Rebuilt, the next novel in the Preload series.
Does the past ever really stay in the past?
Nikan can never be complete. He's got a rock group made up of the family he built for himself, more money than he knows what to do with, and a stream of groupies falling over themselves to date him. But none of them are her. The one regret that still plagues him, still taunts him with what he could have had.
Jenny is a survivor. Now running a group home after overcoming life in a cult lead by her manipulative father and watching her mother drink the poison he fed his followers, she fights to keep the light in the eyes of every boy who walks through her doors. Far from simple young love, Nik taught her to trust, showed her how good life could be. Before he formed the band. Before he became a famous rockstar. Before he destroyed it all.
A chance meeting after years of no contact shows the connection still blazes between them. But will they have their second chance at love? Or will the weight of their past crush their future together?

Buy Links: Amazon US Amazon UK | B&N | iBooks | Chapters Indigo
Copyright © 2017 Scarlett Cole

Nik took the towels out of her hands and placed them on the dryer. “Hey, come here,” he said as he reached for her hands. “Talk to me.”
She wasn’t ready to, not least because she didn’t understand the swirl of feelings sweeping through her. To put into words for Nik exactly how that felt was impossible. “I’m fine, I’m good. I just have a lot to do here now.”
Nik placed his finger under her chin and raised her eyes so she was forced to look at him. “I think we can safely say that lies have no place between us. So, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking, and then you can tell me what you’re thinking. Okay?”
Jenny sighed and nodded. “Okay.”
“I didn’t come here tonight expecting to kiss you like this. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it, but I know I have a lot of work to do to prove myself to you. But seeing you laugh, and seeing you look at me, just for a moment, without the pain I caused you in your eyes . . . Well, I don’t even know how to begin to explain what that felt like to me—except that I didn’t want to be away from you for another moment, and that it felt like a new beginning of sorts. If there’s any doubt in your mind about what that kiss did to me, I’d encourage you to touch me and check, but I think that might be a step too far, given where we are. Now it’s your turn.”
His words made her stomach flip, and despite her best efforts she was filled with a warm and fuzzy feeling. She looked over to the staircase again to check that nobody was within earshot. “We’re coming at this new friendship . . . relationship . . . from two completely different places. I’m mad at myself for letting you get this close to me again. It’s reckless to fall for you all over again and I know it. But when you stand so close to me, I can . . .” Crap. How could she explain that the way the smell of him, and the heat of him, and the proximity of him, and the touch of him took her straight back to that time and place where she wholeheartedly loved him?
“You can what?” Nik asked, moving his hands to her hips.

“I can remember us. Before.”

3.5 “Second Chances” Stars

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, Swerve!

I’ve been following this series from the very first book, so I was obviously excited to get my hands on Nikan’s story.

While I have to say Lennon’s book is the one I’m most anxious about, I had a good time reading Nikan Rebuilt. It was a little different than what I expected, and maybe lower on the suspense and angst vibe than the previous titles in the series, but it was a pleasant read.

Speaking of Lennon, I often felt he was the star of this book, despite it being about the love between Jenny and Nik. At times, it almost felt like this was a book meant to set things forward for Lennon. But that’s not a complaint, because he is one of the most intriguing members of the band.

Now, about Nik and Jenny. I had my doubts I’d like the romance because it’s centered in two major problematic plot points for me: cheating and second chances.

Cheating is something that normally ruins the book for me, as made clear by many of my reviews. And of all romance tropes, second chances is probably my least favorite. Still, Scarlett Cole managed to write these elements in a way that didn’t make me dislike the story.

Yes, let’s make it very clear from the start, Nik cheated on Jenny when they were young and in love. This book brings an explanation to his behavior. Was it satisfactory? Not really. Would any explanation ever be? Probably not. It wasn’t a horrible explanation, either, so I’ll give him that. It doesn’t hurt that he spent the better part of the story trying to show Jenny he had changed. Was I convinced? Not really. Was I swayed? Probably.

The two of them had chemistry, and I could understand why Jenny decided to forgive him. I could easily tell she loved him a lot, and he did his best showing her he loved her, too. I just don’t know if maybe she should’ve held on a bit longer. Maybe that would’ve helped with the forgiveness angle a bit. Or maybe not. But that’s mostly on me and my intolerance for cheating.

I did love the way Jenny and Nik found purpose working with foster kids and giving them a chance at life. They were both important in the roles they played in those kids’ lives and it certainly helped build a connection between reader and character.

So, while Nikan Rebuilt was not my favorite book from this series, I was happy to see how it moved the overall story forward, and it’s always a pleasure to see the members of Preload again.

The tattoo across my right hip says it all really. A Life Less Ordinary. Inked by the amazingly talented Luke Wessman at the Wooster Street Social Club (a.k.a. New York Ink). Why is it important? Well, it sums up my view on life. That we should all aspire to live a life that is less boring, less predictable. Be bold, and do something amazing. I’ve made some crazy choices. I’ve been a car maker, a consultant, and even a senior executive at a large retailer running strategy. Born in England, spent time in the U.S. and Japan, before ending up in Canada were I met my own, personal hero – all six and a half feet of him. Both of us are scorpios! Yeah, I know! Should have checked the astrological signs earlier, but somehow it works for us. We have two amazing kids, who I either could never part with or could easily be convinced to sell on e-bay.
I’ve wanted to be a writer for a really long time. Check through my office cupboards or my computer and you’ll find half written stories and character descriptions everywhere. Now I'm getting the chance to follow that dream.

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