Book Review: Knight Assassin by Rima Jean

Book Review: Knight Assassin by Rima JeanKnight Assassin by Rima Jean
Published by Entangled Teen on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 242
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn’s mother at the stake for witchcraft. When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem's court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother’s condemner. But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don’t miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?

Book Review:

Featuring a female assassin with magical powers, KNIGHT ASSASSIN has a lot of elements that I normally like. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to get into the book. It just didn’t click for me.

Zayn has mysterious powers she can’t control, powers that make her faster and stronger than others. She and her mother are not welcome in their village, and keep to themselves. When she rejects the marriage proposal of an important man in the village, her mother is burned at the stake, accused of being a witch. Zayn herself is raped by Guy de Molay, son of the lord of the land.

Emotionally and physically abused, and without her beloved mother, Zayn doesn’t know what to do. She just wants to die. But before she can do anything, she’s rescued by Junaid, an Assassin of a heretical Islamic sect. Because of her rumored abilities, Zayn is given the opportunity to train as an Assassin. Thirsting for revenge against Guy, she goes for it, becoming the first female Assassin.

Although both Christianity and Islam play a role in the book, the author doesn’t shove religion down anyone’s throats. In fact, Zayn is not religious at all. Take the Dome of the Rock — both religions find it important, and fought over it. Zayn can’t understand why anyone would kill over a rubble-filled spot. In a time (~1180) where people were extremely religious, it was refreshing to see a main character who wasn’t. Zayn really only joins the Nizari Isma’ili so she can gain the skills she’ll need to kill Guy.

The romance wasn’t a big portion of the book, which I liked. Zayn has no use for men after her rape, and she didn’t really care for them before, either. She wanted to be independent, not shackled to any man in marriage. But she runs into Earic Goodwin, a Saxon Knight Templar, while trying to accomplish her assassination of Guy. She vaguely knew Earic when they were children, and almost the minute she sees him again, she starts thinking she loves him. I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. I wish they had stayed friends, and let the romance come along in the next book.

At 242 pages, KNIGHT ASSASSIN isn’t too long, but it read like a longer book for me. I think this was because of flashbacks, which the author would use whenever an important event from the past came up, such as Zayn and Earic’s first meeting.

I did like that the book was set in Syria and Jerusalem. It’s good to have a fantasy/historical romance that isn’t set in medieval England. However, I didn’t get a good sense of the world, other than the types of food they ate. I also wanted to know more about Zayn’s powers. I’m still confused on what they actually are. I’m guessing that will be explained more in the next book.

Overall, KNIGHT ASSASSIN was missing something for me. It was okay, but flawed.

Socialize with the author:

Rima Jean:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse (Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 4, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 355
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Book Review:

“Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married.”

That sentence in the summary for THE WINNER’S CURSE is what caught my attention. Immediately I wanted to know what sort of world Kestrel lived in, that those would be her only choices. And I wanted to know what she would do, because I was sure it wasn’t going to be either one of those things. That wouldn’t have made for a very exciting book.

THE WINNER’S CURSE is a book with a lot of hype behind it. A lot of other readers have LOVED it. For me, it was a so-so book, mainly because I never got behind the romantic relationship. And as that relationship is pretty important to several of the events in the book, I had an okay reading experience. Not a great one, but I probably will continue this trilogy, because I do want to see what will happen next.

Kestrel is a Valorian. Her people have conquered the the Herrani, turning them into slaves in their own land. The Valorians are great warriors, especially Kestrel’s father, who was responsible for the victory over the Herrani. General Trajan expects his daughter to follow in his footsteps by joining the military, and while Kestrel is a brilliant tactician, she can’t fight very well and doesn’t want to kill anyone. But she doesn’t really want to marry, either. She wants to play the piano, but playing music isn’t something the Valorians regard highly.

When a slave goes up for sale, one who supposedly sings, but is defiant on the block, Kestrel impulsively buys him. You know what happens next: forbidden love develops between Kestrel and Arin. At least their relationship wasn’t insta-love, but I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. They spend time getting to know each other, Kestrel asking Arin to always be honest with her, but … I don’t know. I’m not going to spoil the story, but as I said above, their feelings for each other turn out to be quite important, and because I didn’t feel the relationship, I was meh on a lot of the events.

I also wanted more worldbuilding in the book. In the Author’s Note, the author says she was inspired by the Greco-Roman period after Rome conquered Greece. Little bits of the world are revealed, such as all Valorians wearing weapons, or the wall color in a Herrani room signifying its usage. But I had a lot of unanswered questions, from where Valoria was located in comparison to Herran, to why Kestrel had to have an escort for going out in public.

THE WINNER’S CURSE does unfurl slowly, the story building layer upon layer. I did enjoy that aspect, as well as the writer’s style. Marie Rutkoski has a way of describing things in this book that I found poetic but readable. Here’s an example from Arin’s auction: “The bidding spiraled higher, each voice spurring the next until it seemed that a roped arrow was shooting through the members of the crowd, binding them together, drawing them tight with excitement (p. 14, ARC).”

While THE WINNER’S CURSE didn’t quite hit the mark for me, it wasn’t bad, and if you’re a fan of forbidden relationships, you might enjoy it more than I did.

Socialize with the author:

Marie Rutkoski:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 436
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

stolen songbird tour banner

The second I finished reading STOLEN SONGBIRD, I emailed Strange Chemistry and begged them to let me be on the tour for the book. I might have jumped around when they said yes. :D So today I’m super happy to share my review of the book, and an interview with author Danielle L. Jensen.

I wrote a super long review, so there’s a cookie for you if you make it through!

Book Review:

STOLEN SONGBIRD had me at trolls. Yes, there are TROLLS in this book. I’ve been waiting forever for a troll book, and STOLEN SONGBIRD was more than worth the wait. This is a book I savored, and I didn’t want to turn the last page because I didn’t want it to end!

Based on my years of World of Warcraft and other fantasy games/books/art/etc., I sort of expected the trolls to look like this:

troll for stolen songbird book review

But Danielle L. Jensen’s trolls look a bit more like this:

troll for stolen songbird book review

The trolls of the court, anyway. They’re inbred, creepy, and powerful beyond belief. The magic of the royal family keeps the city and its inhabitants from being crushed to death. Cursed by a witch five hundred years ago, Trollus is a city buried and forgotten beneath the world.

Cécile is a gifted singer, about to start her career when she is kidnapped and taken to Trollus. Before she knows it, she’s bonded to the troll prince Tristan; their bonding is supposed to undo the curse keeping the trolls caged away from the rest of the world. Plunged into a life she doesn’t want, Cécile doesn’t spend a lot of time crying. She doesn’t give up her hope of escape, but she bides her time, learning what she can of the trolls and their lives.

That’s how she becomes invested in the plight of the half-bloods. In Trollus, if you aren’t a full-blooded troll, you’re less than nothing. Half-bloods are property, bought and sold as slaves to the powerful, or sent to short lives in the mines.

And let’s not forget Cécile’s new husband, Tristan. Their relationship gets off to a rather rocky start, as neither want to be married, and trolls hate humans. There’s lot of fighting, but because they are bonded, they can sense each other’s feelings, and Cécile is surprised by a lot of what she senses from Tristan. For example, when their bonding fails to end the curse, Tristan is actually relieved, instead of upset.

Their relationship is one I really liked. I’m critical on relationships in YA books, because all too often they are based on insta-lust. Not so with these two. Tristan is horrible to Cécile in public, keeping up his cover of hating humans, but in private, he does nice things for her, like making a flashlight so she can see in Trollus. Over time, they develop real feelings for each other, aided by their bond.

The majority of STOLEN SONGBIRD is from Cécile’s POV, although there are a couple of chapters from Tristan’s perspective. I really loved both of their characters. Cécile and Tristan are complex, well-developed, and real. They both make mistakes, but learn from those mistakes. They both grow over the book, especially Cécile, as she learns more about Trollus and its politics. The few chapters from Tristan’s POV expanded his character and motivations; I liked his voice just as much as Cécile’s.

Aside from Cécile and Tristan, the other characters in the book are also awesome. Everyone, from villains to servants, has their own motivation and desire for wanting Cécile to fail or succeed at breaking the curse. The villains in STOLEN SONGBIRD are delightfully evil, and will stop at nothing to keep Tristan’s plans from succeeding. I love when villains have no apologies for being bad guys. I also want to mention Victor and Victoria, twin trolls who become Cécile’s friends. They constantly compete with each other to see who is the best, in everything from fishing to spear throwing. They provided some much needed humor, and also showed Cécile that not all trolls are bad.

The worldbuilding in STOLEN SONGBIRD is also super interesting. Trollus seems somewhat inspired by the French court, as the royalty and nobles reminded me of the decadence of Marie-Antoinette’s reign. So did their attitudes of being better than everyone, especially half-bloods. The politics of Trollus are extremely complex — nothing is what it seems at first glance, and that was great for me. It’s never fun when it’s easy to predict how a book will play out within the first couple of chapters. STOLEN SONGBIRD continually surprised me. I had NO idea what was going to happen, and that ending! Oh stones and sky, that ending. It’s going to be a long wait for the next book in the trilogy, because I have absolutely got to know what happens next to Cécile and Tristan and everyone else.

It’s really hard to pick what I liked most about the book, since I loved practically every single part of it! STOLEN SONGBIRD is one of those rare books where I was happy with every element as it was. Usually I critique something, or want something done differently… but I can’t think of anything I’d want changed in this book. So I’m going to take the easy route and say I liked EVERYTHING.

STOLEN SONGBIRD is a book that will stay with me for a long time. It’s a wonderful mix of smooth writing, nasty and nice trolls, complicated politics, intrigue, and even some well-done romance. It’s categorized as young adult, but I think it’d be a good crossover book for adults looking for a new fantasy series.

About the author:

author danielle l. jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Book Review: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy KalicickiBranded by Abi Ketner, Missy Kalicicki
Series: Sinners #1
Published by Self-Published on June 28, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 252
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

Book Review:

BRANDED has an interesting premise, but poor execution. I was excited to start it, but once I got a few chapters into the book, I had to make myself keep reading. I was hoping the book would pick up near the end, but overall, it just didn’t work for me.

In Lexi’s world, people can be accused of one of the seven deadly sins. Just the accusation is enough — there are no trials or chances to proclaim your innocence. Then you’re branded with the color of your sin (blue in Lexi’s case, for lust), and sent to the Hole. Once in the Hole, your life is basically over: you’re stuck there, in a dirty, stinking, guarded town, and forced to work until you’re too old to be useful.

Cole is assigned to guard Lexi and escort her to and from the hospital where she’ll work. Relationships between guards and sinners are strictly forbidden, and in her first days in the Hole, Lexi sees a sinner and guard punished and executed for committing that crime.

But of course, Lexi and Cole fall in love, and that’s the big problem I had with BRANDED. I just did not believe in their relationship. It happened way too fast, and the authors told me they in love instead of showing me. Okay, I have to admit that I can see Lexi coming to care for Cole, because he goes out of his way to protect and keep her alive. But I do not see WHY Cole risked his life for her when he barely knew her. I learned almost nothing about Cole, other than that he’s a pushover when it comes to Lexi. For a guard, he was pretty wimpy.

The middle of BRANDED was boring. There were literally paragraphs like this: “Monday. Paint my room. Miss Cole. Tuesday: Train. Miss Cole.” Things like that should have been replaced by scenes of training or painting, etc. The end is packed with action, but again, I just couldn’t believe it. There’s a big reveal about who the villain is, and I cannot believe Lexi didn’t know who he was. Or that anyone else didn’t know who he was.

Lastly, although the world the authors created was interesting to me, I had so many unanswered questions. Why did Lexi get special treatment (Cole as a guard)? How are the denizens of the Hole getting access to weapons and bombs? Why is there even a hospital if it’s obvious no one cares what happens to the sinners? Etc.

Zeus, Cole’s dog, was the one bright point for me. He was probably the character I liked the most, because he was consistent. He didn’t undergo a massive change from one page to the next, like Lexi and Cole’s “relationship.”

About the authors:

branded authorsAbi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Fighting for the Edge (Edge #3) by Jennifer Comeaux

Book Review: Fighting for the Edge (Edge #3) by Jennifer ComeauxFighting for the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux
Series: Edge #3
Published by Astraea Press on November 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Sports
Pages: 305
Format: eBook
Source: Author, Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Two friends. Two dreams. One night that changes everything…

Ice dancer Aubrey London scoffs at romance. She’s focused on winning a medal at the upcoming Olympics and uses that as her excuse to avoid serious relationships. But when she and longtime friend Chris Grayden are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances, Aubrey finds herself questioning everything she's ever known about love, complicating her life both on and off the ice.

Pairs skater Emily Petrov embraces romance. She and her husband Sergei still act like honeymooners two years after their wedding. As Emily’s coach, Sergei provides constant support while she prepares to challenge for gold at the Olympics. But Sergei’s support might not be enough to help Emily overcome the one challenge she never saw coming.

With the Games only weeks away, Emily and Aubrey are on the verge of realizing their dreams. But one snowy, stormy night sets in motion a series of events that will test them in ways they never imagined, giving them more to fight for than Olympic medals.

Today on the blog tour for FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE by Jennifer Comeaux. The tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours and you can check out all the stops here. There’s a tour-wide giveaway after my review.

Book Review:

FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE is the third and last book in the Edge trilogy. However, it stands alone quite well, and you don’t have to have read the other two for this one to make sense. It follows figure skaters Emily and Aubrey on their journey to the Olympics. There’s plenty of skating and romance, and I’d say it’s the perfect book to read if you’re looking for more figure skating or Olympic action.

Emily plans to retire after the Olympics, and so this is her and her partner Chris’s last chance for a gold medal in pairs figure skating. Guided by her coach and husband, Sergei, they’re ready to conquer the world … until the unexpected happens. I’m not going to say what happens, but I liked how Emily handled the challenge, refusing to give up something she had worked most of her life for. Her relationship with Sergei was portrayed realistically; it was good to see a couple after marriage without them fighting or ready to break up.

Aubrey also plans to retire from ice dancing after the Olympics. For the majority of her career, she’s sworn off romance, not wanting it to get in the way of her dreams. But when she and Chris end up sharing an apartment, she starts to question herself. Chris is such a great guy: sweet, caring, nerdy, athletic… really, the list goes on and on. I laughed when he asked who would win in a showdown: Tweety Bird or Chewbacca. Aubrey’s dislike of romance and relationships is strongly influenced by her parents’ relationship, and I thought she worked through that realistically. Not always in the most logical way, but that’s real.

The book does switch between Emily’s first person perspective and Aubrey’s third person, which is a tad confusing at the start. I liked Aubrey’s voice, and so I would have also liked her sections to be told from her POV, which would have made the switch between the two girls less jarring. I also would have liked more of Aubrey and her partner’s routines described, so I could have gotten a better feel for ice dancing. But those are my only complaints.

FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE was a feel good book for me. I had fun reading it, and was immersed in the characters and their quest for perfection on the ice. Although I haven’t read the rest of the series, I wasn’t lost at all, and now I want to go back and read Emily and Sergei’s story from the beginning. I felt like the author really knew what she was talking about with figure skating, and I really liked that there was so much of it in the book! Sometimes books that are about sports barely mention the sport, so I was happy to see skating actually have a lot of page time in the book.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is void where prohibited. Entrants must be 13 or else have parent or guardian’s permission to enter. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner’s name will be selected. Winning entries will be verified for authenticity.

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

jennifer comeaux authorJennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a diehard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing. Jennifer loves to hear from readers! Visit jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com for contact information and to learn more about her books.
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FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE buy links: Amazon | B&N
LIFE ON THE EDGE: Amazon | Goodreads
EDGE OF THE PAST: Amazon | Goodreads

– leeanna

Book Review: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Book Review: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #2
Published by Feiwel and Friends on February 5, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 454
Format: eBook
Source: Own
Goodreads
5 Stars
The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Book Review:

The second book in the Lunar Chronicles, SCARLET picks up where CINDER left off, continuing Cinder’s story while bringing in a new character, Scarlet. The fairy tale influence for SCARLET is Little Red Riding Hood, but I promise you’ve never seen it done this way.

Marissa Meyer is a superb storyteller. I’ve read CINDER and SCARLET multiple times since each book’s release, and I often mention the Lunar Chronicles as one of my favorite series. The books are such a great combination of fantasy, adventure, creative worldbuilding, brilliant characters, and fairy tale retelling.

At first I was worried to start SCARLET, because I loved Cinder so much and I wanted every book to be all about her, and no one else. But I fell in love with Scarlet too, with her impulsiveness and how she was so determined to rescue her grandmother. Wolf was like a whipped puppy, and while I’m normally meh on male characters, I couldn’t help but like him. I like pretty much every character in this series, because they all have personalities. They’re all real. I’m a character-driven reader, so I couldn’t get enough.

After escaping prison, Cinder and a fellow convict go to France in search of information about her past. At the same time, Scarlet is trying to find her kidnapped grandmother. I’m making this sound so much more boring than it really is — SCARLET is full of action and adventure, near misses and escapes. What I really want to say about the different plots is that Cinder and Scarlet’s stories mesh seamlessly. Although I had originally wanted the series to be all Cinder, now I can’t imagine it without Scarlet, and Wolf, and Captain Thorne… and I’m sure I’ll keep saying that with every new book and new characters.

Socialize with the author:

Marissa Meyer:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Seers (The Holders #2) by Julianna Scott

Book Review: The Seers (The Holders #2) by Julianna ScottThe Seers by Julianna Scott
Series: The Holders #2
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 430
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike... but is he willing to help?

Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out for Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.

A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE SEERS by Julianna Scott. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours and you can check out the full schedule here.

Book Review:

THE SEERS is the second book in The Holders series by Julianna Scott. Last year I described book one, THE HOLDERS, as “a perfect book for an afternoon of light reading.” I’d describe THE SEERS the same way: it’s an enjoyable fantasy with a sweet romance and outspoken characters. A good book to spend the afternoon with.

THE SEERS picks up a couple of weeks after THE HOLDERS. There’s not a lot of recap of the events of book one, so for the first couple of chapters, I was lost and couldn’t remember who anyone was or what had previously happened. Basically, Becca, her father, and a few others are trying to find information on Ciaran Shea, but he died three years ago … and therefore couldn’t have been part of Darragh’s quest for power. Darragh is an extremely powerful Holder; he’s the bad guy of the series.

THE SEERS takes Becca and co. into the world of full-blooded Holders. Think of the pure-blood wizards of Harry Potter — the Bhunaidh place high importance on purity and magical ability. Becca really doesn’t like Bhunaidh society, especially once she finds out the head family has disowned one of their sons because he’s powerless.

The start of this book was a bit rocky for me. I couldn’t remember much of THE HOLDERS, and Becca was somewhat annoying at first. Her inner monologue and the way she was acting made me want to tell her “get over yourself!” But then I realized she was acting like a teenager would. And as the book went on, Becca’s attitude gradually changed, and I liked that she grew up somewhat.

Once I got to the halfway point of THE SEERS, I really got into the book. In the quest for information on Ciaran, Becca has to learn more about her own power, be more mature in the ways she deals with people, and work on her relationship with Alex. Oh, and do some rescuing, too, when things don’t go according to plan. I got into the mystery of Ciaran’s journal and what it would reveal. I thought the author used the power to see the future in a neat way.

The ending of THE SEERS might have been the best of all. Without giving too much away, I’ll say there’s a big rescue, a big tragedy that affects one of the new characters, and some good development for Becca and Alex’s relationship. Yeah, they go there, which I always love to see in YA books!

Giveaway:

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About the author:

author julianna scottJulianna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent the majority of her educational career convinced she would be a musician. However, after receiving her music degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, she realized that she’d been born in the wrong era for her dreams of singing jazz to adoring fans clad in zoot-suits and flapper dresses to come true, and began to wonder if her true calling might be elsewhere.

While Julianna had always excelled in writing throughout school, she’d never considered it a career possibility until about three years ago, when she’d gotten her first story idea and decided to go for it. She grabbed her laptop, started typing away, and has never looked back.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Hatshepsut’s Collar (Artifact Hunters #2) by A.W. Exley

Book Review: Hatshepsut’s Collar (Artifact Hunters #2) by A.W. ExleyHatshepsut's Collar by A.W. Exley
Series: Artifact Hunters #2
Published by Curiosity Quills Press on November 13, 2013
Genres: Adult, Adventure, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 280
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
"Loving you is easy, it's living with you that's killing me."

An ancient Egyptian artifact is driving Queen Victoria insane, and that's not top of Cara Devon's growing list of problems.

Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is a man of numerous secrets, but there is one in particular that threatens his fledgling relationship with Cara. Stunned by Nate's revelation, and before she can absorb the ramifications of his actions, he is arrested, charged with treason and imprisoned in the grim Tower of London. He stole something the mad queen wants, and only has days to deliver, before his date with the executioner.

Although sorely tempted, Cara can't let him die on Tower Green, not when their connection means she would share his fate.

Only together can Cara and Nate figure out how to wrestle Hatshepsut's Collar from around the queen's neck, before she plunges Britain into a world war. The search for answers sends Cara to the opulent Winter Palace of St Petersburg and the frozen depths of Siberia, with every step shadowed by an enemy with his own dark plans.

Book Review:

Last year, NEFERTITI’S HEART was a book I enjoyed a lot. It’s a quirky, unique book, blending steampunk and Egyptian mythology along with romance and adventure. When I read it in April 2013, I wasn’t sure if it was the start of a series or a standalone, so I was quite pleased to see HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR come out this year. I couldn’t wait to join Cara and Nate on their next adventure.

And boy, HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR is one hell of a ride. The book starts about six weeks after the events of NEFERTITI’S HEART, and doesn’t waste too much time recapping the past. I don’t think you need to have read book one to be able to read this book, but you’ll have a better understanding of Cara and Nate’s relationship if you’ve already read NEFERTITI’S HEART.

That fledgling relationship is put to the test when Nate drops a gigantic bombshell on Cara (really, I wanted to take his head off myself). But before Cara react, Queen Victoria’s troops arrest Nate for high treason. Even though she’s tempted to let Nate rot in the Tower, Cara has to help rescue him, because if he dies, so does she, thanks to the bond they have through the Nefertiti’s Heart artifact. Another Egyptian artifact is influencing the queen, the Hatshepsut’s Collar of the book’s title, driving her towards worldwide conquest.

HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR takes Cara and Nate from England to Russia as they try to clear his name. I really enjoyed the glimpses of the author’s version of St. Petersburg, as well as two new characters, Nikolai and Natalie, acquaintances of Nate’s. They, as well as Loki the air pirate, provided amusement and seriousness, as needed. There’s a good dash of humor amongst the more dangerous moments. There’s nothing like laughing just before or even while characters are charging into danger. I mean, where else can you imagine a pirate blasting Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries as he attacks the Tower of London in an airship?

Cara spends a lot of the book wondering if she should stay with Nate, as she’s tired of him hiding things from her, including Very Big Secrets that impact her too. Even so, they don’t hold back on the physical side of their relationship; they have a lot of sex. I wish those scenes had been more consistent, because some were more explicit than others, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but one or two pulled me out of the story. Until I got to the middle half, that is, where the action really picked up. Then there wasn’t as much time for shenanigans between the sheets, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I did like that Cara thought a lot about Nate and their relationship, and just didn’t forgive him off the bat.

HATSHEPSUT’S COLLAR takes everything I enjoyed in NEFERTITI’S HEART, from the world to the action, to kick butt Cara to scene-stealing Loki, and builds upon it. The book is a fun romp through a steampunked London and St. Petersburg, and the ending promises more such adventures for Cara and Nate. Definitely recommended, especially if you want some romance along with your steampunk and mystery.

Socialize with the author:

A.W. Exley:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Secret Lies by Amy Dunne

Book Review: Secret Lies by Amy DunneSecret Lies by Amy Dunne
Published by Bold Strokes Books on December 16, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?

Book Review:

I’m really torn on SECRET LIES. On one hand, I liked the relationship between the two main characters, and also liked that their love gave them both the strength to face their demons. But on the other hand, I didn’t believe how quickly that relationship developed, with Jenny bringing Nicola into her house after knowing her for a day, and then “I love you” being said within two weeks.

I did like how the author handled Jenny’s character. Jenny hurts herself so she can feel the pain she can’t express, but has already realized she’s in an unhealthy cycle. At the start of the book, Jenny is in counseling, and I liked that she was proactive and wanted to help herself. I also felt for Nicola, who has endured years and years of vicious abuse at the hands of her step-father. It was nice to see that neither one of them judged the other for their problems, but tried to help and be supportive.

I was also happy to see sex scenes in this book. One of my big peeves with young adult books is they often focus just on kissing and unresolved sexual tension which is unrealistic, so it was awesome to see two girls experimenting and going beyond kissing.

But … the speed of their relationship. Yeah, I know teens can move quickly with relationships, but it was just so awkwardly done between these two that I couldn’t buy how they met and were attracted to each other. Nicola runs into Jenny in the street, Jenny invites Nicola to her house to fix a scraped palm, and after spending the whole day together watching movies, Nicola ends up staying at Jenny’s house for the next few weeks.

Overall, I didn’t feel like SECRET LIES was a YA book. Jenny and Nicola are in their teens, but they talk and sometimes act much older. If the story had been about two girls in their twenties, and spent some more time getting to know each other, it would have felt more authentic to me.

Socialize with the author:

Amy Dunne:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Relic (Books of Eva #1) by Heather Terrell

Book Review: Relic (Books of Eva #1) by Heather TerrellRelic by Heather Terrell
Series: Books of Eva #1
Published by Soho Teen on October 29, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
The truth will test you...

For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.

When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.

Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.

But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.

Book Review:

Okay, so RELIC is billed as a cross between THE HUNGER GAMES and GAME OF THRONES. It’s not. It’s nowhere near either one.

I struggled a lot with this book. Here’s an example of one reason why: “The Gods told our Founders that we needed a Triad of strong leaders, ones who could teach the New North people the dangers of our past, worshipping the false god Apple. Leaders who could show the people we must live in accordance with the Lex, which dictates mankind live as we did in the Golden Ages, that idyllic time before the false neon of modern advancements set mankind on a path to wickedness and lawlessness (p. 16).”

WHEW, right? I was constantly rereading passages, trying to figure out Eva’s world. The first few chapters gave me a headache because I was trying to keep everything straight. Once I quit attempting that, the book did get more bearable, but I never really got into it.

Another reason I struggled with RELIC is the unbelievability and flatness of main character Eva. Eva is, well, she’s boring. As the first Maiden to Test in 150 years, you would think she’d be a dynamo, and have some compelling reason to break the Maiden mold. Nope. She’s just doing it so her brother’s dream doesn’t die like he did. Now, I can understand that motivation, but once Eva started the Test and had NO TROUBLE at all, I just didn’t believe it. She had three months of training. The other Testors, including her brother, studied their whole lives. So I didn’t buy her being the fastest dog sledder, or that she could kill a gigantic ox, or that she built a picture perfect igloo, all on her own.

To top it all off, RELIC just seemed like setup for the rest of the series. Yeah, stuff happened, but not a lot. Only near the end did the book really get going, and then it was over. Would I read the second book? Most likely not, because I just wasn’t impressed by RELIC.

I only kept reading RELIC because I did want to find out what the author had in mind with Apple as a false god. There’s a lot of brand/name dropping, from Apple to Coke to MasterCard, all of them being seen as evils that led to the Earth being flooded. Unfortunately, I was never sure if the author was being serious or going for an attempt at satire at how we live life now.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think of books being compared to other popular books?

Socialize with the author:

Heather Terrell:
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– leeanna