Book Review: Again, but Better

again but betterTitle: Again, but Better

Author: Christine Roccio

Pub. Date: May 7, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless. 


I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This will also be a spoiler free review!

*Disclaimer*

I feel like I need to put this here, to inform you that this is indeed an honest review. I’ve seen some downright discrediting and not nice reviews simply due to who wrote the book and how the MC comes across. If you didn’t like the book, fine, you’re allowed. If you did, fantastic, you’re also allowed. 

I think Christine worked her ass off for this book and I think it shows. I know some people are going to assume because of her connections, it’s the only way she got a deal, and that book was written to be a best seller. So what if she used connections, it’s why we make them. So what if it’s a best seller, that’s freaking amazing. I read this book and fell in love with the story and it’s characters. I don’t know Christine. I don’t know how much her online persona, matches her real life persona, I can’t assume anything about her, except that based on her YouTube series chronicling her writing Again, but Better, she worked her ass off writing this book. I didn’t seen Christine as Shane either. I’m not giving it 5 stars because it’s Christine or because she’s a booktuber. That’s just diminishing the hard work she put into this book. I’m giving it 5 stars because I resonated with the story, as you’ll read about in the following review. 

I only include this, because I’ve seen some reviews claiming otherwise, negating the hard work it is to write a book, let alone edit it and read it about a million times until it’s *perfect*. No, you shouldn’t just rate it high because of who the author is, but you also shouldn’t just rate it low because you feel like the book deal is undeserved. Read the book before you make your snap judgements. Finally, know going into my review, that it’s honest, and I’m not just raving and gushing about this book because it’s Christine. 

*End of Disclaimer*

I was shocked when I got approved for Christine’s debut on NetGalley, I kind of freaked out. I’ve been following Christine’s progress of her writing this book for what feels like forever now and couldn’t wait to read it. I was excited and a little wary going into it, not sure what to expect. Excited because based on the description it sounded great, wary because I don’t always hit it off with contemporaries. I don’t usually go for contemporaries unless they are highly recommended by someone I trust, or they’re by a favorite author.

I freaking loved this book.

 So much in fact, it’s earned a spot on my Top Fave Contemporary List – I should do a blog post about those books specifically.

I expected – once I started the book – that I would end up enjoying it, but I didn’t expect it to be a favorite. It’s only been eight hours since I finished the book, and I wish I could wipe it from my mind and re-read it again for the first time. I keep thinking about it, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. I already know that I’m going to push it on so many people. I might even reread it when I go on vacation this summer.

Where do I even begin? I could just go on and on about how much I love it without saying anything but that – which is what I want to do and am trying to avoid, because not helpful.

So I’ll start with this:

I don’t think there is a single person out there who doesn’t wish they could go back in time and make a different choice, do something different, redo a moment…do it again, but better. We’ve all be there; all have some kind of regrets. We all think about if we were able to go back in time and do it all over, how we’d do it, and hopefully do it better. I know I have, which is why I think this book will resonate with so many people. Well, that and it’s just a great, enjoyable read.

I thought the pacing of this book was perfect and the writing had this witty and fresh feeling. At first, I thought it the writing, which felt a little unpolished, a little strange, would hinder the story. It doesn’t. As the story unfolds, the writing style makes so much sense, and it works with the characters, the story, the atmosphere. The characters were unique and relatable. And oh, how I now wish that I had done a study abroad program. I went through a range of emotions while reading this book, though, most of the time I was a giddy, grinning, melted mess. There were moments when I wanted to shove the two MCs together and be like, “kiss already dammit”, I teared up and cried a bit at another point, and in still other moments, I felt the second hand embarrassment for real.

I need Netflix to pick this book up and make a romcom. That’s what this book is – a romcom about second chances.

Did I mention I loved this book?

Let’s talk about the characters – Shane, Pilot, Babe, Sahra, Attticus, Chad, Amy, Shane’s family…the fantastical element.

I really liked Shane and really connected with her. She’s spent her whole life following the rules, doing what she knew her parents wanted her to do. This trip was a way to start fresh, have a new experience, to break the rules. Now, my life isn’t…or wasn’t exactly like Shane’s during college. I wasn’t pre-med, but I did just go to school. I didn’t live on campus (I lived too close to justify the expense), but for the most part, I went to my classes, spent time in between classes doing work, or reading, or writing. That whole “college experience” I didn’t have it, and there was a moment, a month out from graduating, where I wished I could go back and do it slightly differently.

I understood where Shane was coming from. It wasn’t my parents desires for me to do my work, but maybe my own fear? Regardless, I know I missed out on some things. Did I still have a good time? Yes. If given the chance, would I do it differently. Some parts, yes.

I also felt connected to Shane through her love of reading and writing and blogging – three things I do on a daily basis – or at least I try to do on a daily basis.

Her growth in this novel is wonderful, and her character was just quirky and fun, and there to have a good time. She was so realistically human, and there were times that I felt for her.

Pilot, Pilot, Pilot. Why are all the good guys fictional? I loved him, even for his flaws. No one is perfect and definitely not at 20 years old. Mistakes are made. He’s here for adventure and to have a good time and to work on his music. I can’t say I related much to Pilot, but if I were in London, and needed a sightseeing buddy, I’d choose him. Easily. In a heartbeat. He makes some questionable choices, which did leave me a little hesitant to truly like him, but to make mistakes, to make bad choices it to be human. The whole purpose of this book, is to be better, to have the chance to do it again, and do it better.

The two of them together was easy. It was natural, it was right. But like any romcom, shit hits the fan before the happily ever after happens.

Babe and Sahra, Shane’s roommates and eventual friends. I loved them. They were so different and unique and existed outside of Shane. They weren’t just there to add to Shane’s story. They had their own stories, and experiences, that helped to add to Shane’s experience abroad. They had their own lives, their own troubles. I wouldn’t mind having friends like them.

Atticus, Pilot’s roommate, and all around, good guy. He doesn’t hesitate to offer a shoulder to lean on, or an ear if someone wants to talk. He’s always down to have fun. He’s pretty busy, so most of his time is spent away from the group, but he’s there when things get hard for Shane.

Chad. Chad. I have no words, because, he wasn’t a main character, but he kind of had a role. He was just Chad, and Babe deserves better.

Amy, again not a huge role, but her appearance has impact. Can’t really talk much about Amy without spoilers.

Shane’s family…she’s always felt like an outsider, always on guard against teasing and being the butt of all the jokes. It’s one of the big reasons she chooses to do the summer abroad. Just like her family doesn’t seem to truly know who she is, she doesn’t know everything that goes on with others. Like with any family, there is hardship and drama, and things don’t always go over as smoothly as we’d hope.

And finally, the fantastical element, the spirit guide, or fate if you will. She pops into Shane’s life very early on, and it drives Shane crazy. This is another one of those things, that I can’t go into too much detail on, due to spoilers.

This book was everything I wanted and didn’t know I needed in a contemporary. I loved it from beginning to end – and stayed up all night reading it because I just couldn’t put it down. I loved following Shane’s journey of self-discovery and growth. I loved watching her interact with her friends and Pilot and watching her fall in love. It was evident the time Christine spent writing and editing this book to make it be what it is. Based on her YouTube series on writing this book, she spent so much time writing and rewriting until it was perfect – for lack of a better word.

There were so many scenes in this book that I loved and having been to most of the places they went to during their travels, I could picture in my mind very clearly. Some of the scenes had me doing that thing when your super excited and anxious and you just have to shake your arms and legs and squeal – do you know what I mean? Like when you see (or in this case read) something so cute, so cheesy you just burst? There was also a moment when I threw myself out of bed and had to do that standing up – that excited happy dance…it was like 3 AM, and I’m sure the dogs didn’t appreciate my interrupting their sleep.

I love this I book and cannot wait to have a physical copy for my shelves. I can’t wait for everyone to meet these characters and hopefully fall in love with them like I did. This book will leave you feeling so warm and good inside. If you’re looking for a new contemporary romcom, with traveling abroad, making new friends, having new experiences and falling in love, then you’ll want this book!

Check out Again, but Better by Christine Roccio when it comes out May 7, 2019 – you aren’t going to want to miss it!

 

 

 

 

OTP’s

Once again, I was going to have a book review up for you all to read, but whatever is wrong with me, whether it’s a really bad case of Spring Allergies or some kind of bug, my poor nose can’t take it anymore.

To paint you a not as of a gross picture, I’ve been in various states of consciousness since Monday when this whatever hit me – all I’ve wanted to do is sleep and have slept. Yesterday while running errands, I nearly fell asleep in the parking lot outside my grocery store…I came home, threw the cold stuff in the fridge and crashed on the sofa for two solid hours. It’s been a mess and I’ve been highly unproductive.

So, we’re going to talk about the first five OTP’s – One True Pairing – that come to my mind. These are in no particular order, and just because other OTPs didn’t make the list, doesn’t mean that I don’t think they matter. These are just the first five that came to mind – it doesn’t make them my favorites, but I do love these pairings.


John Crichton + Aeryn Sun

FarscapeImage result for farscape gifs

Their chemistry is so great, and their relationship from their first meeting to the end feels so organic and they aren’t just shoved together due to convenience. It’s definitely a hate to love relationship and a bit of a slow burn, but their story is a so well done, as is the show.


Audrey Parker + Nathan Wuournos

Haven

Image result for haven gifsTalk about fated. This show has its ups and downs, but one thing remains constant – Audrey and Nathan’s relationship. From apprehensive co-workers, to friends, to more they complement each other well and would legit do anything for one another – would go to the ends of the earth to protect one another. Even when they aren’t getting along, they still have each other’s backs.


Vhalla Yarl + Aldrik SolariRelated image

Air Awakens Series

I will forever be trash for these two. From their first meeting, to the tension and infatuation of their growing relationship, to their unbreakable bond, they’re complements to each other. They balance each other out, and don’t hesitate to question the other, or call them on bullshit. When you’re trying to save the world, you need at least one person you can undoubtedly rely on.


Image result for OTP gifsAlexandria Andros + Aiden St. Delphi

The Covenant Series

Another couple I will forever be trash for. I love Alex and her hot-headed, punch and ask questions later, and Aiden’s calm and assertive demeanor, it means they balance each other out really well. Their forbidden romance is full of tension and denial of feelings, but when that control snaps, there isn’t a thing that they wouldn’t do for one another.


Image result for OTP gifsAudrey Rose Wadsworth + Thomas Cresswell

Stalking Jack the Ripper Series

Ugh. Yes, I raged through book 3, but I do honestly believe that the two of them are perfectly suited for each other. Thomas will never try and hold Audrey back, and will always champion for her, just as she will for him. Their relationship is also an enemy to significant others, and it’s amazing. You can see a lot of the little moments that they fall for each other, and a lot of those moments are just swoon-worthy.


What are some of your fave OTPs – books or movies. And if you want me to do another post like this one, let me know!

 

 

Currently Reading & Watching #2

This is going to be a short post because, Allergies. Are. Kicking. My. Butt.

This past weekend I’ve existed with a headache and now it’s morphed into a sore throat. I sound like a toad. #winningatlife

Jk.

I’m dying and I’m exhausted.

I don’t know why my allergies are acting up so badly this year, but I’m ready for everything to stop blooming. I want to be able to breathe freely, go about my day without a headache and swallow without it feeling like fire is being poured down my throat? Is that too much to ask?

I was going to have a book review posted for today, but instead you’re going to get a new Reading & Watching update since I haven’t done one for about two months. And this way I can rave about my favorite show that I’m re-watching…and talk about the 3 books I’m reading…okay 1 I haven’t actually started yet, but it’s in my purse, so it counts!


Let’s start with the books:

Cardinal Machines by Tracy Eire – PDF via Kindle

The author of this book reached out to me and asked me to read it, and I said sure. Since I’ll have a full review posted when I finish it, I won’t go into too much detail. I’m enjoying it, the writing is pretty solid, there are just some little things I have issues with. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

**All my thoughts and opinions are my own honest ones.

The Blood Spell – C.J. Redwine – Audiobook via Audible

I’m probably about half way through this book and I’m loving it, but that’s not surprising. I love this series so much, and each book has been so good, and this just might beat out The Wish Granter as my favorite in the series, but I’ll let you know once I finish it.

Eyes on Me – Rachel Harris – Paperback

Okay, so I haven’t actually started this yet, which I’m mad at myself for. It’s been in my purse for about two weeks, and every time I go to pick it up to start it, I realize that I have another book (due to release dates) that I have to read first. Soon! Very soon, I’m going to start it!


Now for the shows:

Vikings – Amazon Prime

I’ve been watching this with my family, and we just reached the midseason finale of season 5, and the second part isn’t available to watch on Prime yet. *screaming*

I can’t believe I waited so long to watch this show. It’s gotten a little tedious after a certain character death, but overall, it’s been consistently good. The acting is amazing, and the settings are gorgeous. The plot/story overall is really good. Definitely a show people should check out.

Farscape – Amazon Prime

THIS SHOW. It’s the best. It’s probably my third – maybe fourth time re-watching and it’s still amazing. I was in the middle of a Doctor Who re-watch when I found out that Farscape was on Prime, and I had to stop everything to watch it. The plot, the characters, the story, the settings – it’s everything I want in a sci-fi show, and it’s so good. The main character Crichton, he’s so flawed, so human, but he’s also so good and so human. The chemistry between him and Aeryn is perfect, and the other characters are all so unique and interesting. I mean, I could go on and on about this show until I’m blue in the face, but I won’t because I just took allergy meds, and I think they’re going to start kicking in soon, and I need to have this post written before then.

If you’re looking for an amazing sci-fi show, set on a living spaceship, with a fun cast, brilliant one-liners, romance, friendship, and unique planets, then you definitely want to check it out.

Doctor Who – Amazon Prime

This is back burner for now, but I’m mid-season 702 (season 7, second part) with Eleven and Clara. I’ll dive back in once I’m (sadly) done Farscape.

Game of Thrones – Live TV

Like most of the world, I’m back in to the world of Game of Thrones, and I wish I could just binge it. At the pace it’s going, it’s almost tedious to wait. I’m enjoying it so far, but we will see. I don’t know what the outcome will be. I’m wary.


Now, I’m going to go fall into bed, and sleep, and hopefully tomorrow I won’t wake up in a worse state than I am today – which is, sore throat, can’t talk, every time I swallow I feel like throwing up, and every time I swallow my inner ears itch, and now, my nose is getting stuffy and I’m blowing it constantly.

Finger’s crossed it’s just allergies, but we’ll see.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Chosen Champion (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #2)

Chosen Champion Final Cover 72Title: Chosen Champion (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #2)

Author: Elise Kova

Pub. Date: May 1, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


A princess on the run, with enemies on all sides…

Vi Solaris is on the eve of getting everything she’s ever wanted—her family, her home, her throne—and to save the world she’s going to have to give it all up.

The Empire sees her as their Crown Princess, returning at long last. But Vi only sees visions of fate guiding her to the world’s gruesome end. Across the sea is a man who holds the keys to deciphering her premonitions and thwarting the ancient evil ravaging their world. But to get to him, Vi will have to contend with enemies of the crown, romance she didn’t expect, sorcerer pirates, and a betrayal she never saw coming.

She will learn the hard way that some evils never die… They only bide their time…


I received an eARC of Chosen Champion via its author – Elise Kova – in exchange for an honest review. It will be spoiler free!

Oh my god. Oh my god. Ohmygod. I still cannot believe that I was able to read this early, and it’s been roughly two weeks since I read it. I’m so grateful that I was able to, and now able to help promote it early! I’m in love with this world and all these characters (old and new) and it’s definitely one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. I think the world of Air Awakens is so underrated, and more people definitely should be reading it and checking it out.

Now, you might be wondering why it’s taken me two weeks to write this review. I’ve been holding off writing my review for this book because I wanted to gather my thoughts…that sounds ominous, but it’s not meant to. I knew if I wrote my review directly upon finishing the book it would have looked something like this:

Image result for screaming gif

Or like this

Image result for screaming gif

Another reason it took me this long because I’m two seasons deep into a FARSCAPE re-watch and I’m loving it. It’s on Prime, it’s an amazing sci-fi and it’s my favorite. You should check it out.

But I digress.

The ending is omfg worthy and I was just a ball of feelings and emotions upon reading it. Now that some time has passed, my thoughts are less fangirl, and more deliberate and concise – though, there is still plenty of fangirl and I’m dying for book three.

DID YOU SEE THE TITLE REVEAL?????

I’m so worried.

I have legitimately no idea what to expect in book three after the way Chosen Champion ended and what’s happening in the world, I just don’t know what’s in store for Vi and Taavin. I’m terrified, but I know I can trust Elise…even if she rips my heart out almost every single book. I won’t say what it is – not sure if it’s been released to the public yet, but oh man. If you’re a part of Elise’s Tower Guard you might’ve already seen it. It’s epic.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

*not fine*

Now onto the actual review and not just me screaming. See I told you, fangirl is not gone.

But before I get too into it, I would recommend reading the Golden Guard Trilogy before diving into this book…or at least The Crown’s Dog…certain characters are mentioned and provide some background information that is useful. (But you should also read them because they are so good).

I loved this book, a lot, and binge read it. I had no idea that I was going to receive an early copy, and the minute it popped into my inbox I downloaded it and started reading. Who cares about the other book I was reading, I had Chosen Champion and I was going to read it now.

Book two picks up right where Vortex Visions left off, with Vi knowing that she had a very hard choice and some sacrifices to make. Elise doesn’t spend a lot of time world building in this book, and spends more time forging the relationships between characters – making it a very character driven book.

While you don’t have to have read the original series – and the Vortex Chronicles does stand on its own – the lack of world building for some of the locations takes into account that the reader is already familiar with it. By lack of world building I don’t mean that there isn’t any, but it’s not super heavy in the book. Already Soricium is familiar due to the world building Elise does in Vortex Visions and the journey south is familiar due to the previous series.

A lot happens in this book, Vi finally meets her twin Romulin and I cannot wait to see more of him in the rest of the series, certain secrets are revealed and betrayals are made – there isn’t really time to stop and describe the world around them. From the very first page of this book, Vi is on the move, constantly doing, constantly going – trying to get as much done, gather as much information as she can…the world depends on it…on her. \

We also meet a Pirate Queen – Adela – who if you’ve read The Golden Guard Trilogy isn’t a new name to come across. I’m sure we’re going to get more of her frosty badassery, at least I hope we are, because she’s a myth, a scary story to tell children, she’s not supposed to be real, to be alive and yet…

Then we also get a closer look at Taavin – who I love – though I wish their relationship/romance was a little slower of a burn, but I have a feeling that it’s not going to be comforting for long (remember how I said Elise rips out my heart at least once a book? I think something is going to shatter their relationship – that’s my prediction). But like any story, things are ultimately going to get worse before they get better, and with the world at stake, I would say it’s safe to assume that it’s going to get much, much worse before we see any kind of silver lining.

Now, the ending of this book…I have questions. So many questions. And a sense of dread and foreboding. There’s also shock and a feeling of “yup you deserved that” as well as “oh shit, I can’t believe that just happened” and “I f***king knew it!”.

I’m terrified and oh so ready to find out what happens next. I know Elise is going to write another amazing book, and probably torture some characters, but I trust her and her ability to write an amazing story. I just hope by the end of this new series there’s some sort of happily ever after, or a happily for now. I hope my favorites don’t die and they triumph over the bad.

I’m so in love with this vast, diverse world she has created, and I can’t wait for this next book and everything it’s going to be.

Chosen Champion comes out May 1, 2019, and book 3 comes out July 2019! And if you haven’t already, make sure you check out Vortex Visions to prepare! You can read my full review for it here, or check my mini reviews for the original series here!

Book Review: Soul in Darkness

soul in darknessTitle: Soul in Darkness

Author: Wendy Higgins

Pub. Date: February 10, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 3.5


People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. 

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Psyche’s punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely.

Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche by Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.


This will be a spoiler free review.

I’m going to be candid. It’s been about two weeks since I read this book, yet I’m still struggling to write the review. I enjoyed it, so you’d think the review would be easy to write. It’s proving to be the opposite, and I’m not sure why. I don’t know if it’s a lack of motivation or if there is some other underlying reason. The words just won’t come, so this review might be really short.

When I found out that Wendy Higgins was doing a Greek/Roman mythology retelling, I knew I was going to read it regardless of what it was about. She’s basically an auto buy for me, so I knew Soul in Darkness would be a purchase I would be making. Beyond the major couples in the mythology, I’m not incredibly knowledgeable on the lesser known ones. I had no idea that there was a relationship between Cupid and Psyche. Also, I had no idea Cupid was Venus/Aphrodite’s son. It makes sense though. I really enjoy the mythology, but I don’t spend a lot of time looking up the various relationships. You learn something new every day.

Anyways, I enjoyed this book, flew right through it – basically read it in one sitting over a few hours. It’s not a hard read and it’s pretty easy to follow. I will say, I wish it had been a little longer, or maybe spread across two books. The fast pace was nice for a quick read, but I felt like the story suffered a bit because of it.

I think that’s my biggest complaint and why I might be struggling with writing up this review. I think I just wanted more. More story, more world, more time with the characters. It truly felt rushed, and obviously despite my almost adamant refusal to acknowledge that, that might be the problem, I think it is.

I felt like there was no real time to get to know the characters, to really feel for the predicament that they were in. Which I think is translating into struggling to write this review. I want to rave about this book, and the fact that I can’t is forcing me to procrastinate and stall with this review.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed reading it, enjoyed the story, but I think the fact that it felt so rush is negatively impacting me.

So, let’s quickly talk about what I did like:

I liked Psyche’s character; thought she was likeable. I felt for her…predicament. It wasn’t fair to her, but she did handle the attention respectfully and tried not to draw attention to herself. I liked that from an outsider’s perspective her life was perfect – like invisible wind blowing hair, slow walking in shining light perfect – but in reality, it’s the story of how beauty doesn’t necessarily make life better.

As for Cupid, I wish we had more time with him. By that I mean, more time from his perspective. I knew from the beginning that he wasn’t the monster Psyche made him out to be, but overall, (as the reader) we don’t get much. Maybe we (the readers) were supposed to grow to like him as Psyche does, but it would have been nice if the book had been more equally dual POV. (Though I get why it can’t be.)

But that brings me back to the pacing and lack of time spent in this novel. I truly think that just too much time – which wasn’t actually much time at all – was crammed into one book. The ending felt super rushed and contrived. I understand it’s based on a mythology, but damn, did the ending get rushed. Hardly any time was spent ‘in capture’ and then the journey at the end was rapid fire. I get that there really isn’t (based on this book) much to the story/romance of Cupid and Psyche, but it still, in my opinion, could have been longer. I think that’s the crux of the matter – there’s only so much mythology, so much story. Maybe some liberties should have been taken. Again, I’ve done no research into the story of Psyche and Cupid, but maybe there should have been some author liberties taken with Soul in Darkness to make it not seem like such a fast paced read.

Overall, this book seriously needed to be another hundred pages at least, or another book. If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable, Greek/Roman mythology to get lost in for a few hours, with a God and mortal relationship with a dash of familial drama, then definitely pick this up. IF you’re a Wendy Higgins fan, definitely pick this up, her writing is enjoyable and wonderful as always. Would I recommend this book – yes, because I will always recommend mythology books – especially Greek/Roman.

Also, heads up, I would definitely classify this as a New Adult read, there are some explicit scenes as well as mature content…but we are dealing with Greek/Roman Gods here…and let’s be honest, none of them were exactly discreet.

 

 

Quarterly Anticipated Releases #2

Let me start this by saying, that there is a reason I’m a writer and not a mathematician. Clearly my brain wasn’t working properly when I did my first Quarterly post, since I included April in it.

4 x 3 = 12

That was my logic. Therefore, for each post, I should have four months which will ultimately by the end of the year equal twelve months covered. Now, it wasn’t that, that logic was wrong, it just wasn’t right.

I needed to look at it this way:

3 x 4 = 12

Three months, four times a year, would give me twelve months covered. Otherwise I would need to change the heading of these posts to reflect my poor math skills. Again, math is not a strength. I know what logic I was thinking of when I posted the first one, I just was wrong.

So, in order to get back on track, and seeing as how I’ve already done my Quarterly Anticipated Releases for April – you can check them out here – This post is only going to focus on May and June, and come July, I’ll be officially back on track.

I also want to mention that, yes, this post should have been up this week, but since my math was all off, I don’t mind uploading it later, since it will only cover May and June!


May:

Chosen Champion Final Cover 72Chosen Champion – Elise Kova

Pub. Date: May 1, 2019

GR

I’m currently reading this now! Elise was kind enough to send me an advanced copy, which that act itself is still blowing my mind. So far, I’m really enjoying it and cannot wait to see what happens! I did the cover reveal for this book, you can check out that post here!

A princess on the run, with enemies on all sides…

Vi Solaris is on the eve of getting everything she’s ever wanted—her family, her home, her throne—and to save the world she’s going to have to give it all up.

The Empire sees her as their Crown Princess, returning at long last. But Vi only sees visions of fate guiding her to the world’s gruesome end. Across the sea is a man who holds the keys to deciphering her premonitions and thwarting the ancient evil ravaging their world. But to get to him, Vi will have to contend with enemies of the crown, romance she didn’t expect, sorcerer pirates, and a betrayal she never saw coming.

She will learn the hard way that some evils never die… They only bide their time…


again but betterAgain, but Better – Christine Riccio

Pub. Date: May 7, 2019

GR

I’m currently reading this now, NetGalley was nice enough to send me an eARC. So far I’m enjoying it.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.


Dark Shores.jpgDark Shores – Danielle L. Jensen

Pub. Date: May 7, 2019

GR

I’m looking forward to this, I always want more Pirate books!

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.


RomanovRomanov – Nadine Brandes

Pub. Date: May 7, 2019

GR

Yes! Give me Anastasia reimagining’s! I’m super excited for this!

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.


June:

The Evil QUEENThe Evil Queen – Gena Showalter

Pub. Date: June 25, 2019

GR

This sounds so good! I can’t wait to read it!

Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil. A dream come true, and a living nightmare.

Evil isn’t born, it’s made. One thought and action at a time. Take a good look at what you’ve made.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real life fairy tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control—and determined to change Fate itself—Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed.

As bits and pieces of the prophecy unfold, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

 

Book Review: No Ordinary Star

No ordinary StarTitle: No Ordinary Star

Author: M.C. Frank

Pub. Date: November 25, 2015

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do. 
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
The year is 2525.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas -among other things- is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace. 


I was wary going into this book, because I read Salt for Air by the same author and was not a fan. I definitely enjoyed this book more, and want to read the next two books, but I still had some issues with it.

I’m really not a fan of this author’s writing style, but for the sake of the story (which I’m interested in) I can deal with it. To be honest, it felt a little juvenile and it needed some more editing. I thought that maybe I could push past it, just ignore it and keep reading, but ultimately, I couldn’t. The writing style was so in my face and my distaste for it continued to grow. I put so much effort into just focusing on the story and ignoring the writing style, but damn was it hard. I also wish that the story wasn’t broken up into three books. It’s not like a traditional trilogy, where each book tends to have its own arc, but is only 1/3 of the story. This book was literally just 1/3 of the story, and not a very long one at that. So I’m kind of annoying I’m going to have to pay over $20 just to finish the last 2/3 of the story.

I don’t see a reason why it was split into three separate books, except for monetary purposes. I could be wrong, but from my end, that’s what it looks like. But I’m also the person who will buy the books to finish the freaking story, so…

Also, can we all just agree that Utopias suck. So much. They can’t actually exist and legitimately every book that has a utopia in it, they are crap places to live. Like, no thanks.

Onto the two main characters – I don’t really feel strongly about either of them, either way. Well, actually, my whole feeling towards the book is ‘meh’ – not good not bad, has some issues, but the story is interesting. Though, I do think that the quality and style of writing negatively impact the story as a whole. I think I just need to agree that this author just isn’t for me. I strongly feel like the author needed to clean up their writing.

I haven’t read the Bradbury works that inspired these books, so I can’t speak to the original, but I’m sure they are good.

Though, with that all being said, I am glad that I gave this author another chance. Salt for Air left me so disappointed I almost didn’t pick this other book up. Once I finish this ‘trilogy’ I don’t think I’ll read anything else by this author. For such short books, there is no reason for me to have to literally struggle and drag myself through them. Overall, it was an interesting story, and since I haven’t read the Bradbury piece, it felt unique.

 

Book Review: Evermore (Everless #2)

evermoreTitle: Evermore (Everless #2)

Author: Sara Holland

Pub. Date: December 31, 2018

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one. 


This will be a potentially rant-y review, so there may be a spoiler or two that slips through, but I’m going to try and avoid them. It will probably also be a shorter review.

I had been really looking forward to this book ever since finishing Everless. While there were parts I really liked, the book, overall fell really flat for me. I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t like it more, but it was a book where so much happened, but at the same time, not a lot actually happened. The story kind of felt like it [Everless & Evermore] should have maybe been a longer standalone novel. Or it should have maybe been a trilogy vs. a duology.

I’m bummed that my expectations weren’t met. I don’t think they were extraordinarily high, but with Everless being one of my favorite 2018 reads, there were expectations. With that being said, it was an enjoyable read, and I found myself lost in the book. I just didn’t like it was much as the first one.

I think – besides the pacing – my biggest issue was that the book was pretty much just about Jules trying to figure out who she is, without really figuring anything out. We (as the reader) also spend so much time watching her try to figure out her power – which kind of sucks to be honest. We spend so much time watching her learn things, only for them to be non-answers and for her to not really learn anything at all. For every tiny fact she learns about herself, she then is left with a million more new questions she needs answers to. For me, it became tedious very quickly.

The ending is what probably made me the most mad and annoyed. All through the book, new information was revealed. I don’t mean, new information that was helpful to Jude, but like actual new information. Like new parts to the story that played zero part in the first book. And we’re talking about being in the second half of this second book, the final book of this story, and there’s new information. Why.

And as for the very ending, it just made me mad – like I stated before. It felt super convenient and [to me] basically negated everything Jules had been through up until that point. It was like all her fears and feelings didn’t matter, she gets the happily ever after and the bad is gone…or is it.

*eye rolling*

I could spend more time ranting about this book and how much it let me down and didn’t meet my expectations…but I won’t. I would say, if you read Everless and enjoyed it, then read Evermore and find out how Jules’s story comes to a close. If you read the first book and it wasn’t a favorite, but you’re interested to see if the second one is better – that’s on you. I won’t tell you not to read it. I’ve seen some reviews of people who didn’t like the first one but enjoyed the second book more.

Overall, I didn’t love the book, but I also didn’t hate it. I’m just kind of ‘meh’ about it.

Book Review: The Beholder

the beholderTitle: The Beholder

Author: Anna Bright

Pub. Date: June 4, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.


This will be a spoiler free review!

Firstly – I freaking love the cover of this book. It’s one of my favorites. It’s just so pretty, and when it was revealed, I couldn’t stop staring at it. I would have bought this book for the cover alone. Just so I could have it on my self.

I loved this book, though it did take me until about 200 pages to get to that point. Regardless, even from the beginning I knew I was going to enjoy it immensely. It’s definitely a new favorite book.

I didn’t realize going into The Beholder that it was a fantastical alternate history story – I thought it was straight fantasy. I thought it was really cool how Anna wove this story, but I do kind of wish there was a map to go with it, or some kind of index. I’m okay-ish at world geography on a large scale, but it would have been nice to have a map to show where these places were. I can assume and infer from what I know, but a map would have been cool. I think maybe this is a ‘me issue’ – I kept second guessing my geographical knowledge, constantly trying to make sure I was inferring correctly, and placing places correctly.

But back to how Anna made this story so interesting. Between the alternate historical timeline and the seemingly seamlessly woven together fairytales and stories that she sprinkled throughout the book, she’s created a very unique and captivating world that keeps you engaged. Her writing is also very pretty but not overly flowery, and everything was easily imagined (besides my aforementioned world geography skills). Each time Selah arrived in a new place; it was easy for me to see it.

I knew going into this book that the romances would hook me – Anna told me as much, and they definitely did…one significantly more than the others. With that being said, let’s talk characters:

Selah:

At the beginning, I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other towards her. She’s a little naïve and has a very limited, romanticized world view. She’s mapped out her whole future, assuming it will all go according to her plan.

Quick aside – I’m sure everyone has done this at some point, but you know when you’re lying in bed at night and you create a whole relationship, a whole future with a fictional someone- whether it be a celeb, or the perfect person…or when you wake up from those so real, so vivid dreams only for the real world to crash down around you…

Selah is just like every other person. And like most romanticized fictional relationships and things, it doesn’t end with that Happily Ever After. It’s more like a bucket of cold water has been thrown upon you.

Throughout the book, she never really loses her naivety, and because of that, she always tries to see the good in others. It’s not necessarily a bad view to have, but it doesn’t leave for much of a guard against ill intentions.

She does do some serious growing when she meets Torden – aka my new book boyfriend – but more on him in a bit.

In the beginning, she’s a bit of a puppet, mostly unwittingly, but by the end of the book, she seems like she is finally taking control of her own life. Goodbye rose colored glasses.

Captain Lang + Perrault + the Crew:

I think the crew; the captain and Perrault are going to play a much bigger part in book 2. It’s kind of hard to talk about them, without talking about some spoiler-y things, so I’m going to keep it pretty vague. It’s hard to explain why I think this, also due to spoiler-y thing, but the bigger picture becomes clearer to Selah and she’ll need them to help her.

I liked Lang and thought that maybe he’d be a love interest, but he’s super secretive (for good reason) and I think that they’d just be better off friends.

Perrault, despite his annoyances, is basically as much of a puppet as Selah is, but he enjoys his ‘power’ and likes feeling superior.

And the Crew – they’re fun and unique and are super supportive of Selah.

Bachelor #1: Bertilak

I don’t even want to comment because this whole thing that went down in England infuriated me on Selah’s behalf.

Also, it’s a huge spoiler if I were to talk about him. I’m 100% behind Selah on what went down. As for Bear – cute, disarmingly charming, likes Selah. I loved him until I didn’t.

Bachelor #2: Torden

Can I marry him? Please?

I knew I’d fall for the romance, and oh how I did.

Think, Thor, but red hair. He even prefers to use a hammer.

I’ll legit fight Selah for him. She views him as her opposite, but fundamentally they are pretty similar if not the same. He challenges and pushes her out of her shell. He’s gentle with her, and almost reverent, and he’s exactly what she needs.

I could go on and on, but again, we reach spoiler territory.

As for his family:

I love them all.

But I do think Anya acted selfishly – though that could just be my bitterness talking on Selah’s behalf.

Alessandra:

Evil Stepmom. Enough said.

Selah’s Father:

Clearly torn between his love for his wife, and his love for Selah. His failing health further complicates things.

Godmother Althea:

I can’t wait to see more of her!

Now that we’ve talked about the characters, let’s talk really quick about some of the things that I wish had been done better? Differently? More to my taste? These are personal preferences. As the story stands, it’s a good book, with very good writing, an interesting plot that will further unfold, and one that I will recommend to everyone to read.

Other than wishing for a map or index, I wish more time had been spent with each suitor. I know it was supposed to be a fast ploy to get Selah married and away from Potomac, but two weeks? That’s insta-love territory and I’m not a huge fan of that. Though, I love Selah and Torden and how quickly they hit it off…I’m a walking contradiction.

And the other thing, I didn’t find much plot to this book. Other than Selah’s character growth and some adorable romantic scenes, not much happens. I definitely think it’s going to be explored and explained further in book 2. We [the reader] don’t really know why – beyond rhymes – Selah is so terrified of entering the Imperiya, since in Potomac, they seem relatively untouched by it. Yet Selah has this intense fear.

I’m hoping there is more conflict, than just being forced to find a husband in book 2.

Though, I guess The Beholder’s conflict is the internal struggle Selah has to face – the worry for her home, her father, finding a husband and returning home.

Overall, I finished this book with a dire need for book 2 – and this isn’t even out yet, so I’m screwed. I’m really excited and interested to see what kind of journey Anna takes Selah [and us] on in the next book. I’m so grateful I got a chance to read The Beholder early – I’m still kind of shocked that I did, and I’m happy that I get to share it with you all.

But seriously, can I marry Torden? I can’t wait for you to meet him.

Check out The Beholder when it comes out June 4, 2019!

Book Review: Through the White Wood

through the white woodTitle: Through the White Wood

Author: Jessica Leake

Pub. Date: April 9, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 3.5


Katya’s power to freeze anything she touches has made her an outcast in her isolated village. And when she loses control of her ability, accidentally killing several villagers, she is banished to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev. 

At the castle, though, she is surprised to find that Sasha is just like her—with his own strange talent, the ability to summon fire. Instead of punishment, Sasha offers Katya friendship, and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.

But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies have organized their own army of people who can control the very earth. Bent on taking over the entire world, they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed everything.

Katya and Sasha are desperate to stop the encroaching army, and together their powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, leaving destruction in their wake, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will they lose everything they hold dear?


This will be a Spoiler Free review! I was able to trade for an ARC on Twitter!

I didn’t read Beyond a Darkened Shore but now I want to. I’m glad that this one is more of a companion novel, than a direct sequel. I liked the world and the characters. I really enjoyed this book, but the ending fell flat.

Let’s start with the good first, before I get into the issues I had with this book.

Overall, it was a fun, engaging and quick fantasy read. I was able to knock it out in a handful of hours. It kept my interest and there were a few moments of heart racing anticipation and heartfelt moments.

The book starts off in the middle of a conflict, full of fear and dread and it blooms into this kind of epic journey of self-discovery on Katya’s and Sasha’s part – though it’s predominantly Katya’s story.

The writing was pretty, but not overly flowery. It was descriptive enough to create a clear picture of the world and the different places they travel to. I liked all of the characters, well, all the ones you’re supposed to like, and rooted for the good ones to triumph over the bad ones.

As for the characters, I liked Katya. I liked how her fear was handled and her apprehensions. I thought the author did a good job at handling her trauma and self-doubt. To me, it made for a believable character arc for Katya.

Prince ‘Sasha’ was almost too perfect? Like I kind of wish he’d been a little darker. But he’s definitely different than all the rumors paint him to be. He’s intrigued and enamored by Katya and he does take care of her feelings – even when she misinterprets his towards her.

As for the other characters, I wish more time was spent with them. We get glimpses into their lives, their wants, desires, but they’re only glimpses.

I loved the dynamic with their powers, I thought it was pretty cool. I also had my suspicions about Elation.

I strongly believe that this book could have easily been at least two, and I kind of wish it had been. Obviously, this author is trying to tell multiple stories set in the same world, and those stories overlap. I love this and hope one day I can do this with my stories. And who knows, maybe at the end, all the stories set in this world will overlap into one giant conclusion.

While I really did enjoy this book, I did have an issue…

The pacing. It was rushed and also too slow. Now, you’re probably wondering how that makes any sense, and I’m still trying to sort it out. Maybe I missed it, but not a lot of time seemed to pass between the start and the end of the book – maybe a handful of weeks or a month or two. It didn’t feel like a long time at all, which I find a little unrealistic in the scheme of things.

Like I said earlier, I think this book could have benefited from being two books, instead of one. It was just so much story, packed into 400 pages. And the ending. The ending was so unsatisfactory. Mainly because there just wasn’t enough time to really feel the impending weight of the invading armies. There just wasn’t enough time to really feel grounded in the world.

Unfortunately for me, the pacing was just off with this book. I think if it were to be slowed down, or spread out across two, or even hell, make it a 500-page book, it would have rated higher.

Overall, I liked this book, and as an introduction to Jessica Leake, I’m totally happy to read anything she publishes. I’m hoping to get to Beyond a Darkened Shore soon, now that I’ve read this.