Jaclyn’s Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)Hopeless
written by Colleen Hoover
published by Colleen Hoover, 2012

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book? 
Oh my goodness. This is one of the best books I have read in quite a while! I’m not even sure how to review this book without completely gushing over it and ruining it for everyone else! There is something about Sky that draws you in from the very beginning. No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot find a single fault with Holder. You start this book and think you know where it is going–and then it changes. You’ll hate that it changes, but then you’ll love it even more. This book is, quite literally, breathtaking. I found myself holding my breath through passages, gasping with shock at others, heaving sighs–everything! The ending brought me to tears. This book gave me one of the worst book hangovers that I have EVER had! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pick up another book after this one–it took me DAYS to recover! I may go reread it now . . .

 

 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! This book has some sensitive subject matter, so I would be cautious with anyone younger than high-school age (and I’m still not sure that it’s OK for teenagers, but Sky is a senior in high school). This book is phenomenally written, well thought out, well developed–everything in this book is completely perfect. I can’t say enough about this book. Go read it!

 

jaclyn

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: Made for Me by Kathryn R. Biel

Made for MeMade for Me
written by Kathryn R. Biel
published by Kathryn R. Biel, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book? I really liked this book! Michele has a series of unfortunate events and decides to use them to her advantage. She auditions for a reality TV show where the contestants have to design and make clothes for a member of a (fictitious) royal family. The usual hijinks ensue. The plot is cute, I liked the characters, and it had a happy ending–what more could you ask for?

 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! This was a fun, cute read.

 

jaclyn

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Michele’s lack of focus in life hasn’t bothered her, until the day she finds herself with mounting credit card debt, unable to afford her rent, and without a job. While her meddling family questions how she can end up in this predicament, at the age of 29, and single to boot, Michele doesn’t want to admit the truth. All she wants to do is sew.

Faced with the prospect of moving back into her parents’ house, Michele throws a Hail Mary pass and applies for a TV design contest, Made for Me. In order to win the contest, Michele will have to compete with nine other contestants to design the new wardrobe for Duchess Maryn Medrovovich, who’s about to marry Prince Stephan of the United Republic of Montabago.

While in the seclusion of the show, Michele starts to realize where her focus in life should be, and what’s truly important to her. However, a dashing competitor might just cause her to lose her focus once and for all. Can Michele keep her eye on the prize while being true to herself?

 

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Beat the Back-to-School Blues Blog Tour: Bridge of the Gods by Dian Rios (Melissa’s review)

Bridge of the Gods (The Silver Mountain Series #1)Bridge of the Gods
written by Diane Rios
published by She Writes Press, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book? 
So here’s what happened. I promised I’d have this book finished for the blog tour, then promptly forgot about it until two days before I was supposed to post. So obviously I’m reading like a maniac–while folding laundry, while stirring dinner . . . you get the idea. Here’s the thing: this is a book based on a world where mountains decide to fall asleep. Because the only thing less mobile than a mountain is a SLEEPING mountain. Guess what. This is not at all a fast read. It’s downright molasses-in-winter slow.

If I’d have had more time (totally my fault), I’d likely have said how I loved the sleepy, old world pace. I’d have drawn lovely parallels between nature and prose and mentioned how despite the creepy body-collecting ambulances this was a beautiful ramble through both the outdoors and the plot. As it were, though, I just kept thinking to myself, “HURRY UP ALREADY! I KNOW FROM THE BLURB YOU’RE GOING TO GET KIDNAPPED AND SOLD TO VAGABONDS. WE’RE NEARLY HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK AND YOU’RE STILL HOME! GET ON WITH IT!”

Though I do feel like Rios waited until the midpoint of the book to really get things started, I did enjoy it. I love Chloe and Shakespeare. I love the idea of “natural magic” instead of wands and spells. I LOVE Mrs. Goodweather (and I sort of want to steal her recipe book). I was hoping for some resolution at the end, but I suppose I’ll just have to wait for the next book to see how things play out.

 

Would I recommend it? I mean, YES, but please make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy it . . . this is not the sort of book one ought to read on a deadline.

 

Melissa

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Chloe Ashton is an only child living in the remote wilderness of Oregon. She spends her days happily exploring the forests around her home, and is astonished to find the animals seem to know her, to follow her, and even try to speak to her. When a family tragedy results in Chloe’s abduction and sale to the vagabonds, she is taken deeper into the woods, and finds out just how much the animals know. Set at a time when technology is first touching the west, there is an evil rising in the land. The country is under attack, and all creatures, man and beast, must hide. The old legends speak of an ancient, natural magic deep within the mountains and rivers, and as Chloe struggles to survive, she finds that it still exists deep within the forests. Friendship can be found even in the darkest of places, and it doesn’t always come in human form. Bridge of the Gods is a novel for all ages about the magical power of nature, and of finding friendship in the darkest of places.

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Jaclyn’s Review: Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Woman No. 17Woman No. 17
written by Edan Lepucki
published by Hogarth, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I kind of liked this book. It was definitely not my favorite, but I really wanted to see how it was going to end. What’s funny is I actually didn’t like what was happening throughout most of the book, but I liked that I had such a strong reaction to the plot. The main characters are written well–you alternate between liking and hating them. You are constantly questioning motives and meanings behind actions.

 

Would I recommend it: If you want to read a book that is not a cheerful, happy, fluffy book, this is for you. This book is a bit dark and doesn’t have a happy/warm and fuzzy ending. If you like books that aren’t cookie-cutter clean, I would go for it.

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California.

High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. She’s going to need a hand with her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In comes S., a magnetic young artist, who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s young toddler son, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage, one. S. performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady. But as the summer wears on, S.’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. Lady and S. will move closer to one another as they both threaten to harm the things they hold most dear.

Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.

 

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Melissa’s Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

 

Stealing Snow (Stealing Snow, #1)Stealing Snow
written by Danielle Paige
published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, WalmartiBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I mean, if by “enjoy” you mean “binge read all afternoon while letting the children overdose on screen time,” then YES. ALL THE YES. I mean sure, the book has its flaws (mainly, how does a girl who spends her formative years in an insane asylum seamlessly adjust to an alternate, magical reality so gosh darn quickly?), but wow. I fell in love with this book, and I can’t wait to see what Snow does next. Hurry, Ms. Paige! Hurry!

 

GOLDEN LINES

“It is possible with enough time and imagination to break your own heart.”

“Sometimes we have to steal our future.”

“And maybe, just maybe, it didn’t matter how you looked going into battle. It just mattered that you went.”

 

 

Would I recommend it: Yes, yes, yes!

 

Melissa

 

About the book – from Goodreads: First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

 

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Beat the Back-to-School Blues Blog Tour: The Raven God by Alane Adams (Melissa’s review)

The Raven God (Legends of Orkney #3)The Raven God
written by Alane Adams
published by: expected publication Sept 12, 2017 by Sparkpress

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I think I waited too long between the first two books and this one. I struggled a bit to find my way back to the characters, and when I finally did remember their stories, I just wasn’t as invested as I should’ve been. I blame me. The story itself is still cool–I mean, how often do you get to read about “modern day” Norse mythology?

Anyway. I guess I’m disappointed in myself more than the book–I expected to love it as much as I loved the first two books in the series, and, well, I just didn’t.

 

 

Would I recommend it: I mean, YES. I think it best to read the series back-to-back (especially if you’ve a terrible memory like mine). Don’t let my failure stop you from reading–Alane Adams is still awesome!

 

Melissa

 

About the book – from Goodreads: After defeating the Volgrim witches, life in Orkney is quiet. Too quiet. Before Sam Baron can catch his breath, an army of fire giants led by Surt gather in the Eighth Realm of Musspell, determined to destroy Orkney–and it’s all Sam’s fault. After all, he took Odin’s life with an ancient cursed dagger, and now, mankind has lost its protector. To make matters worse, the God of Mischief, Loki, is on the loose and determined to reunite with his evil wife, Angerboda, and their three children: Fenrir the wolf, Jormungand the sea serpent, and Helva, Goddess of Death. Orkney’s only hope lies with Sam and his stalwart friends. As Surt prepares to launch his forces against Orkney, Sam and two of his fellow witches, Perrin and Mavery, set out on a journey to rescue Odin, aided by Skidbladnir, a magical ship of the gods that can fly over land and sea, and Geela, a Valkyrie who can transform into a battle-ready goose. Meanwhile, Leo and Keely travel north to stop Loki from starting a war between the Eifalians and the Vanir, while Howie is left to watch over Skara Brae. With time running out, our heroes try frantically to prove once again that they can find the courage to do what’s needed when the odds are stacked against them–even when the sacrifice asked is greater than any of them could imagine.

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

The Amateurs (The Amateurs, #1)The Amateurs 
written by Sara Shepard
published by Disney-Hyperion, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Target, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
First let me say, I do NOT read a book series until the whole series is published (at least, not if I can help it). I was really skeptical about starting this book since I was going in with an obvious bias. This book is also billed as a great read for someone who liked the Pretty Little Liars series. Since I didn’t care for that, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like this one. Big surprise! This was a good read! I thought it was a great “whodunit” kind of book. It wasn’t horribly gory, and the plot kept moving at a good pace. I liked the characters–they were revealed slowly, which makes sense for book 1 of a series. I found myself binge reading toward the end, because I just HAD to figure out who did it!

Would I recommend it: I would recommend this, despite being book 1 of a series. This would be a good read for a mature pre-teen to get them into the murder mystery genre. There was some violence, but nothing out of control or inappropriate. I would consider reading the next books in this series–which is really saying something!

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: I need some answers about my sister. Help…

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: Death of a Flapper by Marva Dale

Death of a FlapperDeath of a Flapper
written by Marva Dale
published by Dark Oak Mysteries, 2012

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
UGH. I did NOT like this book! The writing wasn’t good, the characters weren’t likable, and the plot was a cheap ripoff of The Great Gatsby. The 1920s was such a great era–I can’t believe the author couldn’t come up with a more original story.  This one was a painful, slow, and disappointing read.

Would I recommend it: Nopity nope nope nope. If you are even considering reading this, go back to your notes on The Great Gatsby from 11th grade English–that’s all the author did.

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: The Roaring Twenties — a decade of wealth, abundance and decadence…. When two weeks pass with no contact from her daughter, Lucille Prado enlists the help of Tin Pan Alley ace private eye, Carney Brogan to find Alice — a NYC career girl. With a dollar retainer, Carney quickly identifies Alice Prado as Arabella Germaine, the ultimate flapper girl, a beautiful platinum blond who loves a good time and ingratiates herself into all the right circles — and who has just turned up dead at the city morgue. As Carney digs further, he finds a whole slew of suspects… Sally Blair, the actress and Arabella’s roommate Victor Cathcourt; the flapper’s mentor The wealthy Landon siblings, Robert and Regan….and more… From the Landon’s Long Island estate to the dark streets of the Bowery, Carney follows the clues. But after a run-in with mobsters, has to wonder if he can survive long enough to discover who really wanted the gorgeous party girl dead. About the Author: Marva Dale is the pen name for author Debra McReynolds. Retired from the public relations field, Debra now spends her free time indulging in her passion for writing. “I used to fill my school notebooks with stories,” Debra relates, “and then add artwork to go along with them. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Daley, predicted that I would be a writer one day.”

 

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Melissa’s Review: Rotten Magic by Jeffrey Bardwell (guest post, giveaway)

Rotten MagicRotten Magic
written by Jeffrey Bardwell
published by Twigboat Press, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did!

I can’t decide whether I want Devin to end up as villain or hero . . . it was hard not to feel as though I was reading the backstory for a Vaderesque bad guy, but part of me can’t help but want Devin to overcome his disappointments. I’m definitely interested in continuing this series so I can find out!

I think there was enough plot in this story for it to be a full novel. Bardwell could’ve developed his characters much more fully (especially the Drusilla/Devin interplay), and I’m hopeful he’ll flesh things out more in Broken Wizards.

 

Would I recommend it: Sure. You don’t have to be too invested in either Steampunk or Fantasy to enjoy this novella–it’s a pleasant mixture of both.

 

Melissa

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Devin will do anything to win. Even resort to magic!

Devin competes to become the best artificer in the mage phobic Iron Empire. Who needs magic when you can master the art of machinery? The other apprentices envy his genius and skills . . . especially Benson. Every apprentice hones their craft building and fighting in crude prototypes of powered armor. Some add frills, others barbs or horns. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer.

But Devin harbors a secret as he claws his way to the top of the Artificer’s Guild: he’s a mage. These new abilities are thrilling and frightening, and the voices more so. How long can Devin be content wearing a steel dragon mask when the seductive promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?

Experience the novella prequel to the Artifice Mage Saga: a fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.

 

THE FALLEN KNIGHTHOOD by Jeffrey Bardwell

Nobody mourns the collapse of chivalry as they should. The regression of knights from their historical roles as mounted heroes, nobles, and stewards of the king’s justice to common gutter trash riding in wrinkled, red uniforms is a symptom of a greater disease. When we lost our knights in shining armor, we lost that which shines within ourselves.

It was not always thus, although few now are old enough to remember. But I can still close my eyes and feel the warm breeze on my back, hear the pennons snapping in the wind, smell the scent of oiled leather, and see the sun shining off that brilliant, burnished armor as the knights paraded down the street, waving to the crowd. I must have been a lad of five or six, but the memory lingers. The sun set that day and never rose again. The knights rode to battle one last time, perchance to kill an upstart duke for the glory of their monarch. But now that duke sits upon the throne, a cold chair washed in the blood of our king while the blood of our knights polishes the flagstones at his feet.

We have replaced a kingdom with an empire, glory with greed, and chivalry with cavalry. When the imperial soldiers ride through the streets, it is no gay parade, but a grim patrol. The neighboring kingdoms fear us now, and well they should, for we have conquered two of them and soon we shall conquer the rest. Only Corel, by the grace of her dragons and her mountains, remains secure. But the others? Farse, the land of Graceful Mountains? Kindar, the quiet Kingdom by the Sea? They are shackled to the empire, reduced to mere provinces.

Remember the knights. Remember the brilliant knights in shining armor. A darkness is spreading across the land and we will never shine again.

The empire is harsh to those who refuse to conform. The Artifice Mage is coming. Will he bring new light to the empire or his own brand of darkness?

About the Author: Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.

The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at: jhbardwell@gmail.com

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: Gamer Girl by Glynis Astie

Gamer Girl

Gamer Girl
written by Glynis Astie
published by Tikinou Publishing, LLC, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
This one took some time. I did, eventually, really like this book. It was hard to get into at first because the beginning of each chapter starts in an alternate video game reality. The main character, Meri, escapes into this video game to live an alternate life–one where she isn’t so introverted, one where she doesn’t have to deal with the reality that her parents died when she was just a child. Throughout the course of the book you are introduced to an eclectic cast of characters. You will find yourself simultaneously feeling sorry for Meri for the tragedy she endured at such a young age and envying the family that she has around her. The budding romance with Morgan is nearly unbelievable–but you WANT to believe it, so you ignore the improbability. About halfway through the book, I started to get into the video game part of the narrative and it really added to the story. This was a pretty big hurdle to overcome, but I loved what the author did with this part of the story.

 

Would I recommend it: Yes, I would absolutely recommend this book. The video game part is a struggle, but power through that part–it’s worth it at the end!

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: Struck by tragedy at an early age, Meri Palmer escaped into the only world she understood. Within the virtual realm of online gaming, she lived a life filled with mythical creatures and thrilling adventures, where she was strong, powerful, clever, and beautiful—everything she believed she wasn’t in real life. As the years went by, her desire to cling to her cherished fantasyland only grew stronger.

But when Meri meets Morgan, equal parts gorgeous and goofball, she begins to wonder if the time has finally come to rejoin the so-called real world. Channeling the bravery of her fairy warrior alter ego, Meri slowly lets Morgan beyond the protective walls she’s built around her heart. Just as she finds a comfortable groove in an uncertain world, Morgan succumbs to insecurities of his own, leaving her lost and confused. Through her battle to regain her equilibrium, Meri will discover that even in reality, things aren’t always what they seem.

Will Meri win the battle raging in her heart and summon the will to rescue her knight in shining armor? Or will she give in to the fear and find her game over?

 

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