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Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper

Source: Netgalley
* I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Release date: November 4th, 2011
Series: The Sea Monster Memoirs #1
Edition: Ebook, 314 pgs
Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble/ Book Depository

Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.

When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.

Tangled Tides did not win me over in the first chapter, or even the second for that matter, but the description had me so intrigued that I didn’t want to stop for fear of missing out on something great. I mean.. what’s more precious to Yara than HER LIFE?! I just had to know. My gut was right and I ended up loving this story!

This story is a combination of multiple paranormal / fantastical creatures. It’s not just mermaids and selkies like the description includes. There are also bird like Sirens, Ghost like figures, and Gorgons!! Yes Gorgons, as in Medusa. Snake hair and a gaze that turns you to stone MEDUSA! Karen Amanda Hooper added elements that basically made it to where I could not put this story down because I just HAD to know how it all tied together. 

The characters were strong, though some more than others. You may think that there is going to be a love triangle in the beginning of the story, but rest assured there is not. I really enjoyed the push and pull of the romance that was there and really can’t wait to see how it grows! Yara was a very …. Stubborn girl.. but she has her reasons. With all the lying going on around her and being forced to become a mermaid against her will, who wouldn’t be a bit pissed off and hard headed?

Sometimes the world got a bit confusing with so many elements going on. At times it frustrated me, and at others I thought ” this is probably how Yara feels about everything that’s going on. Overwhelmed.” 

The story has some great scenes. The concepts were wonderful and really had me entranced during certain scenes. There is some wonderful humor, interesting mythology, new ideas on mer and selkie lore, some heartbreak and deceit…. It just really all blended together wonderfully. 

There were definitely some complications with the story. Some ideas that didn’t quite mesh well, some moments when it seemed over the top, and some writing that didn’t quite feel polished. BUT the overall story held me and had me wanting more. None of those things made me want to stop the book or even put it down for a moment.

I would highly recommend Tangled Tides to fans of Mer and Selkie stories, and also fans of mythology. These elements are combined in a way that I hadn’t experienced before and I think other readers will really enjoy it!



Steel Lily by Megan Curd – Dual Review and Giveaway

Steel Lily (The Periodic Series, #1)

Steel Lily by Megan Curd

Source: Received a copy from author in exchange for an honest review, no compensation.
Release date: August 12th, 2013
Edition: Ebook
Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Dystopia
Rating: Brittany: 5/5
              Michelle: 4.5/5

Synopsis via Goodreads: 
AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

Brittany’s Thoughts

This book was awesome!  It is steampunk, dystopian, elemental and science fiction heaven.  I LOVED the world building, it was so unique.  From the idea of domes, to the elemental abilities, to the character’s problems everything was so remarkably different than other books in this genre.  I was feeling tired of the dystopian genre but this book was the perfect cure. Megan Curd’s ability to create images is out of this world!  I felt like I was in the dome with the characters! The plot twists and turns enough to keep you guessing but not feeling dizzy.   

I really liked Avery’s character.  She is one of the strongest water Elementalists despite that she very much wants to be a normal teenager.  At first I was not sure if I was going to enjoy Avery but she really grows into a more sassy and spitfire character by the end.  I also really enjoyed the banter between Avery and Jaxon.  Yes, there is a swoon worthy boy in the book! 🙂

I haven’t read a dystopian this good since The Maze Runner, Divergent, or even Hunger Games.  It just caught my attention from the first sentences to the last!  The ending was ARGH and a little bittersweet but it makes me want the second! 

If you are looking for something different and love dystopian novels, than this book is for you!  I also really think fiction readers will like this book, it has just a little bit of something for everybody.

Michelle’s Thoughts

Ah Steampunk how I love you so! If it weren’t for the inevitable bad guys that always show up in steampunk novels I would want to dive in and live there. It’s just such a unique world. Right from the start of Steel Lily I could picture the world playing like a movie in my head, I could smell the rusty metal I could hear the gears turning. Megan Curd did a wonderful job of pulling me into Avery’s world and keeping me there… 

The characters in Steel Lily were entertaining, strong and varied. Jaxon was one of my favorites, so cocky and full of sarcasm but also a bit vulnerable once you break though the layers. Avery was a “spitfire” as well, She is tough and stands up for herself and her family and friends no matter what. I wanted to get to know some of the side characters more.. they kinda pop out of the background every now and again and leave you stunned. But it didn’t deter from my love of the story. 

The magic or Elemental side of the story was really interesting, I can’t wait to see how the idea grows with the characters and what more will come. Steam punk and magic was a perfect blend and really kept me hooked on the story. 

I agree with Brittany, Steel Lily has a bit of everything. Magic, Romance, Action, Adventure, Science and Survival. Mix it with amazing characters and Megan Curd has a fan in me! I can’t wait for # 2!!


We are so excited to offer you a chance to win a copy of Steel Lily for yourself! Megan has offered up 2 Ebook Copies ( international ) and 1 signed paperback for the U.S. ! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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King Hall by Scarlet Dawn

King Hall by Scarlett Dawn

Source: NetGalley

Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release date: August 1st 2013
Series: King Hall #1 – No series name yet
Edition: Ebook, 280 pgs
Genre: New Adult/ Paranormal/contemporary-ish
Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon
* We receive a small kickback from amazon purchases, all will go towards funding future giveaways!
Rating: 4/5

King Hall — where the Mysticals go to learn their craft, get their degrees, and transition into adulthood. And where four new Rulers will rise and meet their destinies.

Lily Ruckler is adept at one thing: survival. Born a Mystical hybrid, her mere existence is forbidden, but her nightmare is only about to start. Fluke, happenstance, and a deep personal loss finds Lily deeply entrenched with those who would destroy her simply for existing — The Mystical Kings. Being named future Queen of the Shifters shoves Lily into the spotlight, making her one of the most visible Mysticals in the world. But with risk comes a certain solace — her burgeoning friendships with the other three Prodigies: a wicked Vampire, a wild-child Mage, and a playboy Elemental. Backed by their faith and trust, Lily begins to relax into her new life.

Then chaos erupts as the fragile peace between Commoners and Mysticals is broken, and suddenly Lily realises the greatest threat was never from within, and her fear takes on a new name: the revolution.

I have been looking for a awesome Paranormal New Adult book ever since this whole New Adult thing started. I mean.. I’m 24. I LOVE YA, but sometimes I want to read about characters that are more around my age, and experiencing the same things as me. Yes I remember my High school loves and losses like they were yesterday, but I don’t always want to relive that. I am so happy to say that I have Finally found a NA Paranormal that I highly recommend! 

King Hall wasn’t what I prepared myself for. The description and the cover art led me to believe it was going to be more of a historical fiction story. I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading it to find out that it was actually set it pretty much current times. Internet, cell phones, tv all that Jazz. King Hall is just a secluded school.. so the mystical world is kind of separated from all of the Human World stuff for the most part. 

This story will break your heart right in the beginning, I felt like I spent the rest of the book trying to heal that heartbreak right alongside Lily. It was really interesting to me that, while there is romance in the story, Lily’s story isn’t really about romance. It’s more about Healing, and growing into herself. The Mystical races are kind of known for their ” friendlyness ” though, and even though she may be healing from losing her soul mate, she still gets herself into some .. compromising positions … ( Please remember this is NA not YA, I do not recommend this title for younger readers as there are “sexy times” to be had.) 

This story had amazing characters. I loved the relationships between the Kings and Queens, both the friendship and the romance sides. They were all so unique and each brought something different to the table. They helped remind me what REAL friendship is. 

There is NOT a love triangle. But there is… a kinda taboo relationship.. though at the same time it’s not really Taboo… and it’s not really a relationship :/ It’s kinda a : they are there for each other in anyway that they each need, it was something that I could really relate to and helped me truly feel for the characters. 

The Paranormal aspect of the story is really interesting, each race bringing something different to the table, and also each relationship creating their own magical bond, then the Kings and Queens having unique gifts themselves. It may sound complicated but it was complex in a way that kept me wanting to know more! Great action scenes that kept me on my toes and intrigue to keep me guessing. 

While the writing style at times left something to be desired; a bit repetitive and simplistic at moments, it did not stop my from absolutely LOVING this story. I cannot wait to see what happens in book #2. 

Rating: 4.5/5




Stepping out of your YA element (4)

Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro

Source:Entangled Publishing – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.

Published: December 2011 by Entangled Publishing, LLC

Edition: Ebook
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon/Barnes & Noble

**We receive a small kickback from Amazon purchases, all of which will go towards giveaways!
Brittany’s Rating: 4/5

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Emma Jane Hellsbane always knew she was different, but she had no idea she wasn’t even human. Well, at least she’s half-human. She’s half-fallen angel, too, and now dear ol’ dad wants her dead. All the Fallen angels want all their troublesome offspring removed from the mortal coil so she’s trying not to take it personally. Besides, she wants him dead just as much. Her father’s death is the only way she’ll be forgiven for his sin, stop those pesky demons from trying to hack off her head, and have any hope at all of getting back to a normal life as a wicked slick Intuitive Consciousness Explorer.

Of course, first she’ll have to figure out which fallen angel is her father, avoid accidentally seducing her angelic mentor, help an old friend conquer his own fallen sperm donor, and basically save the world from a cataclysmic divine smack down.

No problem. With a last name like Hellsbane, Emma Jane was definitely born for the job.



REVIEW

Hellsbane is a fast paced, quick read. I was fully invested in the plot line and will be reading the next immediately.   Emma, the main character, is a lovable character with YA girl problems.  She confirms her suspicions very early that she is not normal, not even fully human.  Of course, they are men in her life that complicate life even more (YA girl problems)! She even seems to embrace her non humanness and her ability to kick some “fallen” butt!

This book is like a roller coaster ride in the dark.  Only about half way into the book Paige Cuccaro crushes your heart and all you are left to do is keeping reading. I have not read a book like that in a long time!  The sappy part of me was hoping something magical would happen and make it all better, nope!  BUT, as much as I was super sad, it is nice for things to seem realistic sometimes.  Am I terrible for saying that or what? However, Emma doesn’t have time to do the Bella sit and stare out the window thing, she has some butt to kick!

This book is listed as New Adult but I think it is also a great fit for YA readers.  Emma’s character is relatable and the story is creative and fast paced.  Minus some swear words and some slight sexual references, I also think that this book would be appropriate for teens.  I have not read further in the series but this one is definitely ok!

Overall a pretty good read with some awesome series potential!

      


The Summer I became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

The Summer I Became a Nerd 
by Leah Rae Miller

Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: May 7th 2013
Series: Standalone
Edition: Ebook, 267 pgs
Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary/ Comedy
Rating: 5/5

Description from Goodreads:

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl’s body isn’t just unknown, it’s anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Oh how I adored this book. Seriously. Full of Adorkable awesomeness that had me laughing and reminiscing like crazy.

I am a nerd. Plain and simple. I have no shame. …. now. – middle school is another story, I hid my nerdiness in a deep dark cave of shame unless I was with my family doing Harry Potter quizzes. – I’m not just a book nerd. Oh no, that’s been out for awhile now. I can obsess over movies and TV shows with the best of em. The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Musical episode? I can sing it all loud and proud! But this book is about more than being a nerd, it’s about being scared to let your nerd flag fly.

The Summer I became a nerd is a Contemporary YA that I can totally get behind recommending to my Teen friends. So many Contemporary YA’s focus on high school drama and crushes and I just can’t get behind them :/ But this one.. This one is so much more. Maybe your not a nerd. That doesn’t mean you won’t still appreciate this book. Maybe you won’t get the ” Who would win in a dual between Voldemort and Vader? ” Reference ( Voldemort obviously ) But It shows the other side of the card too. It shows Maddie simply trying to fit in in high school. Fighting with her inner self over what she feels she should do, and what she wants to do.

Yes there is a romance. But it’s a perfect geeky one! Logan helps Maddie come out of her shell the way non of her other friends can. He shows her how it doesn’t matter if everyone doesn’t get your passion, as long as you admit that it’s your passion! My favorite scenes were probably the LARPing ones 🙂 ( Live Action Role Play ) Not because I do that. Ya, I was in theater, but I haven’t gotten into LARPing yet. My boyfriend on the other hand get’s mighty close. He doesn’t do live action, but every now and them him and some of our friends will hide away in a deep dark cave of a room, pull out their notepads, and explore unknown worlds as different people.

I never got it. I laughed I admit. I couldn’t follow how it all worked and got confused when he tried to explain. But The Summer I Became a Nerd explained it from a different viewpoint that I was able to understand. Now it just sounds fun! I still don’t think I will do it. But I understand the appeal more.

Basically. The Summer I became a Nerd is pure nerdy geekdom awesomeness. It has so many fun and witty references – some I got- some I went and looked up. It reminds me why I love being a nerd and am now unafraid to share my passion. It reminds me that not everyone is comfortable with who they are, sometimes they are fighting an inner battle that we just can’t understand.

The Summer I became a nerd is more than just a wonderful comedy, it’s a contemporary story about accepting who you are and realizing that other people don’t have to like it, as long as you do.

Shadows of Glass by Kassy Tayler – Ashes Trilogy #2

Shadows of Glass by Kassy Tayler

If you have not read Book #1 Ashes of Twilight do not read further – Spoilers ahead!

Source: St. Martin’s Press
* A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release date: July 23rd 2013
Series: Ashes Trilogy #2
Edition: ARC – Paperback, 320 pgs
Genre: Young Adult/ Post Apocalyptic / Dystopia
Rating: 3.5/5

Description from Goodreads:

Wren’s world has changed. The thing that she fought for, escaping the dome has come to fruition, but it’s not the paradise she thought it would be. Most of the shiners have died, and according to James, she is to blame for many of the deaths, a burden which sits heavy on her shoulders. Still some have survived and Wren is determined to keep them safe as they fight to establish a home outside while hiding from the rovers who have weapons that can kill from far away. But as long as she has Pace she knows everything will be fine. Still Wren wonders, as she sees the smoke that continually pours forth from the dome, how did her friends inside fare? Will they ever find out if Lucy, David, Jill and Harry, along with Pace’s mother survive the explosions?

Meanwhile, someone else has also seen the smoke. A band of explorers from across the sea arrive in an airship, curious about the dome, and offering help to those who survive. When Wren meets the handsome Levi Addison, she suddenly questions her love for Pace as Levi offers to show her the world from his airship. Does she really love Pace? Or was it just the circumstances that made her think she did? Meanwhile, word arrives from inside via Pip, and Wren is forced to go back inside the dome, a thing that terrifies her more than anything else, to save her friends. Once she’s back inside will she be able to escape again? 

Devastation: the perfect word to describe the beginning of this book. Kassy Tayler doesn’t give you a chance to work your way back into the story, readers are immediately thrown into a whirlwind of emotions. So many have been lost in the floods, little ones forced to grow up fast and accept that most, if not all, their family are dead. Now they have to fight in order to survive the world outside the dome.

Wren’s character takes some major hits. She is strong, if not stronger, than she was in book #1, but now she has to burden some massive guilt. She is constantly questioning herself and her actions ( and I questioned her as well ), shouldering the blame for all that has occurred. It was hard for me as a reader to watch her go through this, knowing how hard she fought to get to this point.

Pace is still around… but his and Wren’s relationship is on the rocks a bit. Wren is unsure if her feelings are real, or the result of the closeness forced upon them by their situation. The world outside puts everyone through some serious challenges. Imagine experiencing thunder and lightning for the first time, having never heard of either of them and not knowing what it was?!

Not only do they have nature against them, they now also have to protect themselves from the people outside the done. All they have heard about them are horror stories, and they have no way to defend themselves. Thankfully Wren meets up with some outsides that would rather help than hurt them! Newcomers Levi and his family are incredibly interesting!

While there are many things to love about these new characters, my favorite thing they brought to the table was stories! I feel that too often in post apocalyptics/ dystopias the rest of the world is left out. All we learn about is the immediate surroundings. Even if this was a very small part of Shadows of Glass I still really liked that it was brought up. I liked hearing about the different countries and how each one is handling things differently. I have high hopes that we will learn more in book #3! These new characters also bring with them knowledge and skills that Wren and her people Desperately need. It was interesting to see how everyone took to the changes and how their personalities changed because of it. You may end up liking a character.. that you had some hatred for before.

Shadows of Glass is not completely action packed, though there are some awesome scenes. This part of the story focuses on survival and learning about life outside the dome. The characters go through “character building” events that can never be undone…. Their lives are chancing rapidly and the ending will leave you wishing it was faster, and that you already held book #3 in your hands!




Fate’s Fable by T. Rae Mitchell – Dual Review and Giveaway

Fate’s Fables
by T. Rae Mitchell

Source: We received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Published: February 1st 2013 by Original Mix Media Inc.

Edition: Paperback
Series: Fate’s Journey #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon

**We receive a small kickback from Amazon purchases, all of which will go towards giveaways!
Brittany’s Rating: 5/5
Michelle’s Rating: 5/5

Synopsis via Goodreads: 
Seventeen-year-old Fate Floyd loves adventure –– as long as it’s enjoyed from the comfort of her couch. So it’s probably best she has no idea the future of the universe rests squarely on her shoulders.

Summoned by a desperate stranger’s spell in a last ditch effort to fix a colossal screw-up, Fate’s cast into a secret world bound by the ancient Book of Fables to retrieve a magical object powerful enough to set everything right. The only problem is, once she’s inside this savage wonderland, her only way out is to change the endings of the book’s eight dark fables into their mirror opposites. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to run this gauntlet alone, because she meets the mysteriously familiar Finn, who’s as inexplicably drawn to her as she is to him.

As they endure horrors beyond imagining, Fate awakens to powers she never knew she possessed and Finn questions his very existence, while an insidious darkness changes him in frightening ways. Ultimately, Fate must confront the faceless evil concealing itself behind the eyes of her one true love or remain trapped within the Book of Fables forever.


Brittany’s Thoughts:

This book was everything I have been missing in the YA scene.  It has the imagery and the storyline of a great fantasy novel.  I have not read anything this imaginative since Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter.  Yes, you know how much I love Harry Potter.  The book is so beautifully and creatively written that I was lost in the story the minute I started.  The paperback is 478 pages so it’s long but it is well worth the time. 
Here are my quick words of wisdom about the story: The first two chapters are a sort of prologue to Fate’s story. It was a bit confusing and choppy but once those two chapters are over it is smooth sailing. Also, some younger readers may not appreciate this writing style because it is not a quick story like so many are in the current YA scene but this is a writing style I really appreciate.  
In a reader’s world, there is not much to time to do any re-reading but I will be rereading this story again and again.  Already can’t wait until Fate’s Keep!

My favorite interaction between Fate and Finn:
Tears stung her eyes as she shook her head, “If you’re trying to say you’re leaving me again, I’ll just follow.  You’re stuck with me, buster. Just think of me as barnacle…or one of those suckerfish. Better yet, duct tape.” 

Michelle’s Thoughts: 

My Gosh where has this been hiding!? I’ll put it this way. I already plan on purchasing this as a gift for 3 of my friends- one of them being my mom :). I loved it so much I refuse to even give them a choice! lol.

I agree with Brittany, the first few intro pages are confusing.. I did not enjoy the characters that were dominant in those chapters and feared for the rest of the story. But then it switches over to Fate’s story and oh my goodness does it pick up!

The writing style is kind of.. mixed. But in a good way! There are the more updated parts where Fate is in the ” real world ” Then there is the beautiful, rich, enchanting style of the Fables. I really couldn’t get enough of those. You get a story inside a story! They were perfect. Very Storybook-esk they just have that perfect feel of something that needs to be read aloud, in a cozy dark room with a candle glowing. Ah man, seriously. I loved the fables. All unique and so interesting!

The few main characters are very interesting, all with very different back stories which make for great interaction between them. I loved getting to see how they each reacted to the different fables, with each having a bit of a different theme it was interesting to see how they handled the situations and how they were going to change things.

With the story switching over to a new fable every few chapters it was easy for me to just keep turning pages. If my boyfriend hadn’t come in multiple times to remind me I only had a few hours to get sleep before work.. I probably would have just read through the night without stopping! While it is not exactly a fast read, I do think it had a great pace that will keep readers itching for more!

This is a story I feel I will be recommending very often. It’s great for fans of more classic fairy tales, for fans of retellings, Epic fantasies, as well as some lighter fantasies. And just.. All around awesomeness really.


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