Phoenix Fire by SD Grimm | ARC Review

PHOENIX FIRE BY SD GRIMM

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Publication Date: March 5th 2018

Synopsis: 
After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.

Goodreads | Amazon

 *I would like to thank Entangled Teen for the chance to read and review this book in return for my honest opinion!*

I am not even sure where to start with this review. Let me start by saying PHOENIX !!!! This is the first book I have ever read that focused on the phoenix and I thought S.D Grimm did a good job developing a story off of the phoenix and creating this whole world and backstory for the Phoenix and their purpose in our world. Now let me also say that the phoenix was not the only mythical creature that made an appearance.

I don’t want to say much about the phoenix incorporation or backstory because you learn more throughout the whole story alongside the characters, but the whole idea of rebirth and past lives has always intrigued me. Grimm was able to slowly reveal the story and have the characters put in together piece by piece with such great detail and thought. The story was complex and had a lot of moving pieces for awhile that I was pulled even deeper in trying to figure out what had happened, what was happening and what was going to be the result.

I am not usually a huge fan of multiple POV but thought it worked so well for how this story was being told and in putting together all the pieces. Each of the characters had their strengths and weaknesses. There were quite a few times I found myself screaming at Ava and the choices she made. All the different interactions and relationships really added to the story.

Overall I enjoyed this story and the way it was written. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and had me yelling at characters at other times. I loved the fact that it revolved around the idea of this Phoenix community and would love to see more books incorporate the idea of phoenix. The world building and background development were well though out and I didn’t feel like I had a lot of questions that went unanswered which is always a plus. Grimm balanced the characters and multiple POVs so well and really drove the story forward at a nice pace. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys paranormal reads or wants to experience an interesting novel containing phoenix!

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By A Charm And A Curse by Jaime Questell | ARC Review

 

BY A CHARM AND A CURSE BY JAIME QUESTELL

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: February 6th 2018

Synopsis:
Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Goodreads | Amazon | Entangled

 

Leslie smiles at the girl with a mixture of pride and tentative hope. “It took us a few days to get Sidney set up somewhere else, and I’m sorry about that. But this wagon belongs to the occupant of the box.” Leslie strokes the side of the ladder that leads to the door. “What you’re going through is terrible, we know it is, though we can never truly understand. It’s a small comfort, but we want you to have a place that’s just your own, a place that you can use to escape.”

A weak, wobbly smile lifts the corners of the girl’s mouth as her gaze roves over the outside of the wagon, a shadow of the smile I saw the other night, when she was with her friend. I wonder what it would take to get her to smile for real.

“What about Sidney?”

“Sidney can make do.” Leslie’s smile broadens into a grin. “Have you seen the way he’s been eating? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him waddle out of the cook shack one of these mornings like Templeton the Rat.” She dangles a small copper key from the end of a length of faded red ribbon. “It’s like I said—the carnival owes the person in the box. This is the least we can do for you in return.”

The girl’s hand shakes as she reaches for the key, and she wraps her slender fingers around it tightly, as though she’s afraid of dropping it. I lose sight of her as she steps inside, and all I can do now is hope she likes the wagon.

I turn to head home and feel the sickening lurch as my foot lands in a slick patch of mud and whips out from beneath me. I throw out my arm. A flash of white-hot pain flares through my hand, but I manage to keep my footing. I step out of the mud that had nearly sent me sprawling on my ass, unsure as to how I even missed it in the first place. Then my hand begins to throb.

A gash runs diagonally across my palm. Blood wells from the wound, filling my cupped hand. The pain sets in, a deep pulsing starting in my palm and radiating up my arm. I glance over at the trailer and see a splash of red smeared along a sharp flap of metal. I must have sliced my hand on that as I tried to grab onto something to keep from slipping.

Falling on carnival grounds doesn’t happen; the charm sees to that. But my bloodied hand begs to differ.

 

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 *I would like to thank Entangled Publishing greatly for the opportunity to read this book!*

It seems like the past year carnival books have been all the rage. I find them absolutely intriguing and think they are filled with so much magic. But for some reason this was the first carnival book I read in completion. I am beyond happy that I was given the chance to review this book because I needed it in my life! This book was the perfect combination of magic, mystery, characters filled with personality and childhood vibes!

At the beginning I thought this might be inspired from Pinocchio and was getting some major flashbacks to the movie BIG. By A Charm And A Curse was so much different then I expected and found the mystery behind the charm and the curse to be so interesting. Questell really painted a detailed picture of carnival life and the ties that bind so to speak of those individuals who make up the unique performers of the carnival. The characters were full of personality and their own little quirks. I found the whole love aspect a little too fairy tale for me with the whole curse, but enjoyed the story behind the charm and curse associated with Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic.

I enjoyed that this books was driven by the characters and their personal development and growth. Sometimes when there is the background of a carnival or something like it, I feel like it is sometimes easy for the author to focus on that event or element too heavily. Not that I do not enjoy world building or magic around things such as a carnival, but I absolutely hate when the characters are flat and stagnant. I have to admit at the beginning I was annoyed with Emma as a character, yeah a lot of horrible stuff happened but she was so whiney. I loved seeing her evolve throughout the story and was her biggest fan at the end of the book. I was a fan of Ben from the beginning and adored him all the way through. He was perfect and what every girl dreams of when in search of a love interest. It was nice to see that despite what happens to Emma he doesn’t see her as different and fights like crazy for her. There were some other characters that I quite enjoyed, but really wish more time was spent on some of them. I wanted to know more and learn more about them and their background.

Overall, Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic is a carnival I would want to runaway to a be a part of! They were such a family, they cared and defended one another. It was unique and magical. There were some issue with the story, I would have loved more details about the carnival instead of such a heavy focus on the romance. Because of that the plot fell flat at time, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read and has made me want to pick up more carnival focused books!

About Jaime Questell:

JAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing.

 

Author Links:

Author Website: jaimequestell.com

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaimequestell/

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jaimequestell

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396319.Jaime_Questell

Newsletter: http://jaimequestell.com/events/

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel | ARC Review

BLACK BIRD OF THE GALLOWS BY MEG KASSEL

Genre: YA, Paranormal

Publication Date: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: Entangled Publishing in return for an honest review

Synopsis:
A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Goodreads | Amazon 


*I would like to thank Entangled Publishing and the author for the copy of this book in return for an honest review*

A love story in the midst of mass chaos. A interesting and creative YA paranormal read that presents unique mythology and characters. It dove into the world of Harbingers of Death, beekeepers, and the hidden magic within.Angie is no stranger to traumatic events, but life has been going so much better for her, that was until a hunky boy moved in next door.

I enjoyed Kassel’s writing a lot. She uses great details and paints a beautiful picture. The way the story unfolds was a great pace although I feel like the ending was a little rushed. With 20 pages left I was unsure how she was going to wrap everything up. I liked what Kassel did with the characters and mythology. It was a unique curse that I haven’t read about before in a YA novel.

I did find Angie a little annoying at times. She carried on this whole “woe is me” a little too much. I understand everything she went though and she did have a right to some of her actions and feelings, but she really hid herself too much because of this suppose title of “freak“.I thought Reece was a great character and was really complex. Kassel did a good job at filling out his character and giving him those emotions and feelings that should be associated with someone with his curse. I also found the romance to be very typical of a YA novel. It was too fast and unrealistic. It went from a crush to madly in love in 0 to 60 seconds. The romance felt very Twilight to me. One of the notes I made multiple times while reading was this reminded me of Twilight. It just has the same vibe and a similar type of storyline.

Overall I found this to be an enjoyable and fast read. The unique mythology really intrigued me and was what sold me on the story. I loved the cast of characters and the friendships throughout the book. The reason it did not get a 5 star rating for me was because of the unrealistic romance and Twilight vibes. Although the story was different then Edward and Bella’s I could not stop comparing them and thinking about it throughout the book. The mass chaos and effects of the curse were fantastic additions that added to the overall atmosphere of the story. I recommend this to those who enjoy dark paranormals with mythology and romance.

You might also like:

Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

The Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

RoseBlood by A.G Howard

 

Odd & True by Cat Winters | ARC Review

ODD & TRUE BY CAT WINTERS

Genre: YA, Historal Fiction, Paranormal

Source: Netgalley in return for an honest review

Publication Date: Sept. 12, 2017

Synopsis:
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Goodreads | Amazon 

*I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for the copy of this book in return for an honest review*

I do not know how this is my first Cat Winters book. She has been on my radar for awhile and I have only heard amazing things about her books and writing. When I saw this on netgalley I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed. I want to state it at the beginning of my review that what really sold me on this book was the ending.

I loved the time period in which this book took place, it was absolutely perfect for the story and gave something extra to the overall atmosphere of the story. I was also greatly pleased that Winters focused on the relationship between sisters and made that the large focus. So much in YA lately there is such a huge dedication to romance. I believe there is more to life and sometimes more important relationships that should be focused on and spotlighted to let those young adults know it is not all about a love interest. The relationship between the sisters is what really what drove the story and made me love this novel.

At the beginning of the book I felt myself losing interest, it did take a little while to really get the story and characters to grab me, but it was worth it to complete to book. I felt like there was great character growth throughout the book and really enjoyed seeing it slowly take place as the story goes back and forth between present time with Tru and the past with Od. I found that Winters did a fabulous job with incorporating Tru as a disabled character. Winters showed that Tru was able to persevere and not let her limited mobility keep her from going after what she wanted. I thought it was really important that Tru never let it hinder her. It was really inspiring. The sisters were so full of life and imagination.

Overall I found the story to be heart warming and full of whimsy. It had some really important messages that Winters really drove home at the end that many people can find guidance in. Od and Tru are some pretty kickass sisters who never give up. This story was absolutely marvelous and full of monstrous creatures. I will for sure be reading Winters other works and cannot wait for this book to be published.

The Cruelty by S. Bergstrom | ARC Review

 

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THE CRUELTY BY S. BERGSTROM

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery

Source: The publisher in return for an honest review

Publication Date: Feb. 7, 2017

Synopsis:
When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

Goodreads| Amazon | Audio Clip

 

A fast paced action packed mix between Taken and The Wanted.

Gwendolyn Bloom is a well-cultured feisty teenager who is just trying to make it in a preppy and snobby school in NYC when her father who is a U.S Diplomat gets kidnapped.

The writing immediately pulled me into the book. I wanted to be best friends with Gwendolyn and was cheering for all of her sass. The Cruelty was chock full of intrigue right from the beginning. Everything was happening so fast and you were as lost as Gwendolyn with the mystery of her father’s disappearance. I do not want to go into much detail because I do not want to ruin the story for everyone but there were tons of surprises and I never knew where the story was going. Gwendolyn’s adventure to find her father took on the experience of a Liam Neseon movie, specifically taken. There were times where it seemed unrealistic for what Gwendolyn was doing, but I was impressed with how realistic the story was and how true it held to the fact that Gwendolyn was a teenage girl with little experience.

The book had me hooked from the beginning and I had to know what was going to happen next. The story was layered with surprises and twists and showcases a strong female lead. She is a great role model for younger women to show them how strong and determined a girl can be and how she is able to do anything on her own.

5s

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate | ARC Review

26240663SEVEN WAYS WE LIE BY RILEY REDGATE

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Netgalley in return for an honest review

Publication Date: March 8th 2016

Synopsis:
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Goodreads| Amazon

review

Seven Ways We Lie is an interesting high school drama story told from the perspective of seven different main characters. As a scandalous controversy plagues the school it seems to add more drama and conflict to the lives of these seven students. Each is dealing with their own struggles and consequences of their actions.

From the cover of the book and other reviews I have read the book being told in 7 POVs is suppose to represent the seven deadly sins. After reading I can see how that is suppose to be incorporated, but while reading I do not think that idea really worked into the book. Each character while representing a certain sin was also influenced but the other sins as well. I just felt like it wasn’t very well done and executed using the bases of the different characters being different sins.

That being said I did think that being considered, Redgate did a good job developing the characters and carrying a story with seven different perspectives. Each character while having their own issues also share secrets and are woven together nicely. The thing that I really enjoyed that Redgate did to help with the transition between characters was to use different writing styles. I did think it was a little odd that Juniper’s chapters were written in poetry, it just doesn’t seem like a way someone actually thinks. It was interesting, but I just did not feel like it feel very well. Also in Matt’s chapters I got really annoyed because of the repetition of words (one of my big pet peeves) He used the work “like” way too many times .

Overall I enjoyed the book, I just felt like it was missing something. The characters were able to learn and grow from the sandal that struck the school and the situations there were put in, but I didn’t feel like there was a real plot. I know most contemporaries tend to focus on the characters and are sometimes weak on plot, but this book was just lacking in some areas. It was intriguing and fast paced so I was engaged and couldn’t put it down. Just when I got to the end I felt like I missed something somewhere because I was just not completely satisfied. I would recommend this to anyone who loves interesting characters and high school drama or just a fast enjoyable read!

RATING

 

Volition by Lily Paradis | ARC Review

Volition Amazon (1)VOLITION BY LILY PARADIS

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Source: Author/Publisher (Empire Books) in return for an honest review

“I need to know that I’m not alone, because my mind is a dangerous place to be without company.”
– Lily Paradis, Volition

Publication Date: Feb. 9, 2015

Synopsis:
You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that stays with you, then tears you apart slowly at first, and all at once shreds every fiber of your being?

It’s because you’re contradicting the universe.

Everything lines up so perfectly that you couldn’t have imagined it to work out better, but then you have to go and do everything humanly possible to ruin it because you can’t stand to have it go right?

That’s what I did.

I did it because there’s a darkness that surrounds me, and I think I want it there.

My name is Tate McKenna, and my soul is blacker than my heart.

Goodreads | Amazon

review

*I would like to thank the publisher and author for having the opportunity to work as a beta reader for this book and receiving an arc copy in return for my honest opinion and review* 

The author wrote a foreword for this book explaining it a little (which make sure you read to understand the story and where it is coming from) This is a story she wrote for herself and has a deep place in her heart. Just seeing that makes the feelings and story have that much more of an impact. I feel like books that are written for a purpose such as this show a part of authors you do not always get to see. You can tell that Paradis poured her heart and soul into this book and that passion shows through. The book is told from the head of the main character and through it you see her darker side as well as all her struggles. Everything is about perception and in the end it isn’t how you feel about what is going on, but how the main character, Tate is feeling, handling and overall dealing with the situations and inner struggles that is important to take from the story. 

Beautifully twisted…A novel that shocks and surprises, and is not your typical love story. A gripping read filled with complex characters, dark humor and lyrical writing that leaves you wanting more! Paradis produced a story that carried a lot of emotion that dealt with love, relationships, and the darkness that surrounds death and the mark it leaves on those who have escaped it.

I have to admit that I am very picky when it comes to contemporary and romance novels. This has been a recent genre that I have been breaking into and have found that I really enjoy the new adult genre. It might be because I can really relate and understand where they are at in life as I have just graduated college or it might be that those new adult books that I have read have accomplished great stories that are darker, complex and missing those corny cliches and cheese that I associate with romance. Volition was no exception, it surprised me, shocked me and really captivated me on more levels then just the love story.

Paradis produced a story that carried a lot of emotion that dealt with love, relationships, and the darkness that surrounds death and the mark it leaves on those who have escaped it. The writing is playful, youthful and almost lyrical, while still covering complex and dark subjects. The story unfolding from both side of the past and present really provide an insight into the characters and the situation that add the depth and complexity that drives the story to be more than just a story. You are lead to become attached and feel for the characters throughout the story. I got so invested that at times I wanted to throw the book across the room at points when I was frustrated or the story did not go the way I wanted it to. I did have a few small issues with the last few chapters turned into insight from each character on a certain situation and although I enjoyed seeing the events from their perspectives there was just something awkward about it for me. Other than that I thought it brought the story full circle and really gave you a story that felt like the main character was sitting next to you telling it herself.

Not only did Volition have a fun,feisty and a little twisted main character, Tate, but it also had a great complex love interest full of his own secrets and great supporting secondary characters that had their own quirks and issues. Paradis really developed these characters and their relationships and gave story that dealt with more than fluffy, all consuming love. The love wasn’t the cliche, insta-love, but there was hurdles and struggles that the characters had to face while building their relationship. I was a huge fan of both Hayden (the love interest) and Colin (Tate’s best friend). They were both witty and definitely swoon worthy!  Hayden was a really intriguing character. He was complex and was more than what he seemed. The love he has for Tate and the things he would do and does for her made me fall so in love with him. (Hayden is definitely a new book boyfriend for me) Although you hate Jesse because you are seeing him from Tate’s eyes and perspective I thought his character really added to the story and Tate as a person. It is something that made her who she is and it was nice being able to see the impact that the toxic relationship had on the rest of her life and how she was able to over come and move on from the strings she had so closely intertwined with him.

Overall I found Volition did exactly what a good book should do. It created a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings throughout the whole story. I got attached to characters, was able to identify and understand them, their quirks and choices. The relationships were flushed out and well developed, layered with twists and shocks that created for a more believable and realistic relationship. There were parts were I was laughing at the witty banter between characters, moments I was frustrated with the situation and actions of the characters, times were I was tearing up and those beautiful awe-struck scenes that I was filled with happiness. It was an extremely captivating and dark read that was layered with humor, some plot twists and some questions about if the author has been scorned!

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy more from a romance/contemporary novel with some complex and at time dark/twisted characters layer with some deep meanings and subject. This is my second time reading this book and I just feel a strong connection with Tate and in a way feel a connection to the author through this story. This book is not for everyone, but it is one that has completely won me over and I can see myself rereading this many times.

5s