Throne of Glass

ImageTitle- Throne of Glass, Throne of Glass #1

Author- Sarah J Maas

Rating- 5 Stars

I enjoyed Throne of Glass, despite what others may say this is a fun read, I devoured this book in less than a day. I found the plot to be rather unique, perhaps there were some cliché parts but you have let that go as the rest of the book is just awesome. Here we have a young female assassin who is to compete with others for her freedom. Not all the competitors are competing for their freedom as Calaena is- some just vie for the position of the King’s Champion. This is just another YA; it’s a YA full of intrigue and high fantasy, where there is plenty of magic, demons, and spirits.

Maas did a great job with her characters they each show depth and individual personality. Calaena is an 18 year old assassin who was sentenced to a slave camp for her crimes. At times, I found Calaena to be extremely conceited, I had to keep reminding myself that she is the best of the best and that’s why she was chosen for the competition. There were times when I just had to roll my eyes at her conceit but it really made her more exciting and not just some cut out version of what you would imagine and assassin would be. Calaena also had a quiet side that enjoyed reading, playing music, and a love of animals that showed while she could kill at will she was also capable of having other emotions as well. I think all these qualities made her more likeable. I was surprised that she didn’t actually kill anyone in Throne of Glass, but that doesn’t take away from it.

I absolutely loved Chaol. I don’t know what it was about him that made me fall for him. Maybe it was the way he wasn’t afraid if Calaena or maybe it was the way despite his distrust of her and his low opinion of her he slowly realized she wasn’t just a cold blooded assassin. Chaol was rather quiet and mysterious but at times showed his depth in that he was a true friend to Prince Dorian and a loyal servant to the King.

Prince Dorian I found to be a snob, he didn’t have anything going for him, he enjoyed hanging out with Calaena probably because she wasn’t a lady of the court and he was bored.  Yes, he was willing to be kind to her as any good man should be but I would have liked to see a harder to side to him.  I think he has good potential I’m sure he will impress me later. I don’t know what Calaena liked him other than he was the Prince and very handsome. I guess she felt a little flattered that he would or could be interested in her. At the same time he was described as a flirt and fond of the ladies period so who cares if he was interested, it’s not as if she were the only one.

I won’t call this a love triangle because it wasn’t as if Chaol and Dorian were truly trying to woo her. Also, it is not as if Calaena couldn’t decide between the two.

I think this first book was more for character building and world building. I won’t say there is a cliff hanger at the end but it was defiantly set up for another, Crown of Midnight. The best thing about being late reading this is that I don’t have to wait for the second book! I think I will also enjoy the little in between books Sarah J Maas has written as well. I know some don’t like those or feel as those should be necessary for complete novel but I love them. I get a secret thrill out of reading an alternate POV after reading the full novel.

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My Lady of the Bog

arcTitle- My Lady of the Bog

Author- Peter Hayes

Rating- 1 Star

My Lady of the Bog is described as an archeo-forensic mystery yet in my opinion it was anything but an archeo-forensic mystery. My Lady of the Bog started as something I truly wanted to read. Xander Donne is an anthropologist who has discovered the body of woman in a bog. Her body has been perfectly preserved by the bog for 700 years. Xander is desperate to find out more about this mysterious woman as there is a warning with her body saying she is a witch. Sounds like a great read right?

Well, it probably would have been if the story had actually revolved around the body and what the discovery means to the world of anthropology and maybe what it means for the community and the history surrounding it.

My Lady of the Bog should be described as a story within a story within a story. First, I was reading about Xander then suddenly I’m thrust into a love mess with Vidya who may or may not have murdered her husband. Then I am in another story about the artifacts found with the body. There were some other little side stories on top of these as well. I found Xander just annoying the way he was so in love with Vidya. Vidya well I couldn’t figure out anything about her. Half of the time I was trying to figure out if she was some possessed by the witch or just a liar or both. Anyway, she did absolutely nothing for me and I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of what was going on. I almost didn’t finish this book and probably shouldn’t have.

With that being said, I have to admit, I do think Peter Hayes is good at details. He can bring details to life without going overboard with words. Even though My Lady of the Bog was terrible in my opinion, Peter Hayes can write on heck of a description, when he tells you what the Lady of the Bog looked like you can imagine her perfectly in your mind. I can’t say I would recommend this book but I will give him credit for being able to give such wonderful descriptions.

I won this ARC on Goodreads, this is my honest review.

 

The Pledge

ImageTitle- The Pledge, The Pledge #1

Author- Kimberly Derting

Rating- 3 Stars

The Pledge is labeled as a dystopian but I feel it was more fantasy than dystopian. The Pledge takes place in Ludania, where they use a class system.  This class system has people divided by the language they speak, each class has its own language and no other class is allowed to understand it or speak it.  There is however, a common language Englaise that everyone speaks in order to communicate with other classes.  If a person is caught speaking or knowing a language that isn’t theirs they are executed. 

Charlie has always been able to understand all languages; she usually tries to only speak Englaise so she won’t slip up speaking or understanding another language.  Charlie herself works hard at her parent’s restaurant and takes care of her little sister.  When Charlie meets the mysterious Max she is immediately afraid yet drawn to him because he speaks a language she has never heard before.  Even though she has never heard it, she can understand it.  It doesn’t take long for Max to find out Charlie’s secret, she knows she should stay away from him but she finds herself thinking of him all the time.

Max himself is very mysterious.  I kept trying to figure out if he was trust worthy; it’s really the main thing that kept me interested in The Pledge.  The more I read the more confused I became by Max but the dual POV helped but not enough to reveal if he was trust worthy or not.  I wasn’t sure if I liked him, he seemed liked a good guy but you can never tell with those types because they usually have some kind of ulterior motive.

Xander also confused me; he came in out of nowhere and seemed to know Max.  He obviously didn’t want Max to know he was helping Charlie in anyway.  I found the whole thing intriguing yet confusing.  I just kept turning pages thinking, “What the hell is going on?”

To be honest, I didn’t think the character building was very good.  I didn’t understand Charlie, I found her rather boring other than she has the unique ability to understand all languages….Well ok but how do you know you are the only one if you have managed to hide it for so long?  Why was she so smitten with Max?  He never did anything special for her, or acted as if he cared about her other than in bits and pieces and that’s if I am being generous.  Max didn’t have much of a personality either, he was just there and then he wasn’t and then he was. 

Now, I call The Pledge a fantasy because not only were the subjects not allowed to know another language, it simply couldn’t be done, well that’s what everyone believes anyway.  The Queen, who rules Ludania, is a magical queen.  She is able to hurt people with a flick of her wrist.  Charlie’s little sister has a little magic of her own as well, all these qualities to me scream fantasy versus dystopian.

I didn’t think this was a great book, I think there was a lot lacking in the world building and character development.  I did think The Pledge was a unique storyline but far from a dystopian fix if you are looking for one.  If you like fantasy, I think you will like the story if not the writing.  I am going to read The Essence because I am curious if it’s going to get better and I want to know what it is going to happen now.

Alienated

ImageTitle- Alienated, Alienated #1

Author- Melissa Landers

Rating- 4 Stars

When I first began to read Alienated I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like it.  I admit it; I am suckered in every time by a beautiful cover.  I was actually at the library and saw this on the shelf and snagged it because I thought it was pretty.

Cara is the type of high school student that everyone looks back and wants to be.  She is the valedictorian, the debate team captain, class president, and everything else you can imagine an over achiever would be.  I liked her spark; she went as far as to take summer classes just to make valedictorian.  With all of her achievements the ambassadors of L’eihr have chosen her family for an exchange program granting her with the opportunity to host an exchange student from the planet L’eihr for a year.  Clara isn’t excited about the opportunity mainly because many people of Earth oppose the exchange program especially her boyfriend and best friend.  What I love about Clara is that in the grand scheme of things she didn’t care what everyone else thought, she accepted the exchange program because she needed it and felt she owed it to the L’eihrs  because they have advanced technology  that cured her mom’s cancer. 

Aelyx has been chosen to go to Earth because he excels in communication and languages. Aelyx really reminds of Kyle for Kyle Xy!  I think all the people of L’iehr excel at everything but that’s beside the point.  The people of L’eihr are thousands of years ahead of Earth; they have sustained themselves and their planet by selective breeding programs and manipulating the environment for optimum farming and comfort levels.  Aelyx didn’t want to be part of the exchange program; he felt his people didn’t need what the people of Earth have to offer.  What he can’t see is that the people of L’eihr are missing humanity and I get that they are technically a different species but at the same time they are very close to being human even if they don’t believe it.  Aelyx comes off as thinking he is much better than humans because he is much more intelligent than they are and he is almost hard to like but yet I did like him.  Well, once you take into consideration that he is an alien and can’t be expected to act just like humans.

ImageThis is Aelyx!!

 I also loved that Aelyx and Cara took their time getting to know one another.   Their love blossomed from an awkward friendship into love which is something I like to see especially when so many YA novels have too much insta-love. 

I wouldn’t say this is the best book or even the most original, it felt a little Kyle XY to me but it was good.  I can see why it would be labeled or compared to a sci-fi but it isn’t really sci-fi, it’s more of a romance story, lucky I am good with either, I love a good romance just as much as I love a good sci-fi.  I liked the main characters right away, the both had a passion for life and their homes that you rarely see and feel.  What I loved the most was Cara; she stood up for herself and what she really believed in, she never strayed from who she was.  No matter how many people hated her and threatened her she stood by her decision and tried to make Aelyx feel at home and welcomed.

I am not sure how the second book is going to be.  The ending for Alienated was somewhat of a cliff hanger and we have to wait until 2015 to find out what happens!  I can already feel a love triangle coming on but I am not sure where it is going to come from yet I have a strong feeling there will be one.  Or maybe there are going to be some major secrets making it hard for Cara and Aelyx to trust each other.  I’m not sure where the story is going but you bet I will be finding out. 

One Heart to Win

oneheartTitle- One Heart to Win

Author- Johanna Lindsey

Rating- 4 Stars

Tiffany Warren has grown up living the posh life of a New Yorker. She has never been to the west but in order to fulfill her mother’s promise, Tiffany must travel to the dusty west to meet her fiancé Hunter Callahan. This isn’t your usual betrothal, not only have Tiffany and Hunter never met; their marriage was arranged to end a feud that spans several generations. The idea is to unite the two families by blood in order to stop all the fighting and hatred between the two families who not only can’t get along but are neighbors that share a watering hole for the cattle on their ranches.

As Tiffany sets off to meet her fiancé and estranged father the train is robbed. As it just so happens her father’s new house keeper is on the train as well and decides the west is more dangerous than she thought so she heads back east. Tiffany decides to take advantage of the situation-assuming her identity so she can gauge the personalities of her father (she has never met him) and that of Hunter. Tiffany thinks if she meets Hunter as herself he will play up his sweet charming side and she will never know the real man she is supposed to marry. When the Callahan’s offer more money to “Jennifer” the housekeeper Tiffany goes along with it because she realizes she isn’t ready to meet her father and living with the Callahan’s will give her the opportunity to get to know the whole family before she decides if she should go through with the marriage.

I really found One Heart to Win almost confusing at times and it kept getting side tracked. Tiffany and Hunter were immediately attracted to one another. Tiffany was upset that Hunter was attracted to “Jennifer” which didn’t make sense because she is Jennifer! I wanted to yell at Tiffany the whole to time to just be honest because she was getting feelings and he was getting feelings. Things can never end well when you are catching feelings under a lie on top of a feud! What was she thinking? I liked Hunter; he is much like Lindsay’s other characters, kind, caring, charming, rather funny, and good humored with an apt for nicknames. Overall he is a great guy albeit a little dull compared to Degan. Although I did love imagining him coming out of the bath!

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The other part that was confusing was the part about the feud. The Calhan’s had their side of the story that says Mariah Callahan was in love in Elijah Warren but he supposedly cheated on her before they could get married. That is what started the whole feud; she went as far as to follow them out west because she couldn’t get over him and wanted to make his life hard at the same time. So what I couldn’t figure out was if he really cheated on her. I guess in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter because both families believed what they wanted too. I wouldn’t really call it a feud, maybe it was at one time but Hunter and his bothers seemed to enjoy fighting with the Warren’s. They played pranks on each other and fought occasionally but to be honest it seemed like they rather enjoyed it, it was more a challenge than a feud.

Then there was the story of her lady’s maid that came with her. She was waiting in a hotel for her Tiffany to make up her mind about Hunter, in the mean time she was thinking about working as a cabinet maker. Say what? Then there was the mysterious hired hand Degan. I found myself just as interested in him as I was Hunter. At one point I wondered if he may be the one for Tiffany. Tiffany maybe wasn’t attracted to him per se but she was curious about him and there wasn’t much back story to him. I would have liked to know more about him. Maybe he is the love story for the lady’s maid?

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I was sad there wasn’t an epilogue to wrap it up. I wanted to know if the feud was definitely ended, I wanted to know more about Tiffany’s parents, more about Tiffany and Hunter together as couple, I was hoping for a spin off about Deacon and the lady’s maid or maybe a book for each. I really felt there was a huge interest in those characters to just end the book.

Dirty Angels by Karina Halle- Cover Reveal

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Title: Dirty Angels (Dirty Angels #1)

Author: Karina Halle

Release Date: Spring / Summer 2014

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Synopsis

For Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to survive.

When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that threatens her every move.

Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst way possible.

As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to take her, keep her, ruin her.

Unless she ruins him first.

***WARNING*** This book deals with drug cartels and as such it contains a lot of sex and violence and some violent sex. It can get pretty ugly, pretty dark and pretty crazy. There is drug use, abuse, a bit of torture and dubious consent. The hero is not a hero and the villains…well, they’re even worse. If this sort of thing bothers you, please do not read. This ain’t no cupcake farting unicorn kind of book***

Excerpt

There was a strange moment of silence and I concentrated hard, trying to hear more than the obvious. They were all waiting. Waiting for the order. Waiting for the man in charge to speak.

He did.

It came from the left of me. His voice was cool, calm and collected. I didn’t have to see to know who had taken me. The man I’d heard so much about. The man I’d been taught to fear.

“Gentleman,” he said and I could almost feel his infamous eyes on my body, “remove the bag.”

There was a rustle and my face was immediately met with cool air that seized my lungs and bright lights that blinded me. I scrunched up my face, afraid to look, to see. Now it was all so real and I wanted to stay in the dark.

“Who did this?”

Suddenly cool hands were at my swollen cheek and I flinched.

“Who did this?” my captor repeated, an edge to his level voice, his cigar-laced breath on my face.

“Sorry,” Franco mumbled. “It was the only way to quiet her.”

A heavy pause filled the room like deadweight. Finally the fingers came away from my skin and my body relaxed momentarily. I felt the man stand in front of me, bending over so he was in my face, the spicy scent of tea and tobacco emanating off of him.

“Look at me Luisa Reyes.”

Chavez, I thought to myself, I will always be Luisa Chavez.

“Darling, aren’t you curious to where you are?”

“My name is Luisa Chavez,” I said. I opened my eyes to see golden ones staring right back at me. It was like looking at an eagle. “And I know where I am. I know who you are. You are Javier Bernal.”

He raised his brow in amusement and nodded. I’d seen his picture before, on the news. There was only one and that was his mugshot but even in that photo, his eyes made an impression on you. They saw right into your depths and made you question yourself. He was one of the men whom Salvador feared, even though Salvador had more power. He was the one I had been told to watch out for, the supposed reason why I’d always been locked in the compound or escorted by the local police to go shopping.

And yet here I was, tied to a chair in a cold, leaking basement with nothing in it except five cartel members, a video camera and a knife that lay on top of a stool in front of me.

All of that for nothing. I could escape Salvador but I could never escape the cartels.

I had asked for this fate.

“You know why you’re here,” Javier said with deliberation, straightening up in his sharp black suit. He walked over to the stool, swiping up the knife, and glancing at me over his shoulder. “Don’t you?”

I could only breathe. I wanted to look at the others, at Este, at Franco, at the two other mystery men, but I was frozen in his gaze like a cow in headlights.

“What is the knife for?” I asked, my throat painfully dry.

“You’ll find out after,” he said. “It is for your husband. For your Salvador.” He stepped to the side and waved his arm at the camera. “And this is also for him.”

He eyed someone over my shoulder and gave a sharp nod. I heard a rip from behind and a piece of duct tape was placed over my mouth. I squirmed helplessly and the lights in the basement dimmed. The men stepped to the side while Javier went behind the video camera. A white light came off the front of it and bathed me in an eerie glow.

Javier cleared his throat, his face covered in shadow and said loudly, projecting to the camera, “This is Luiza Reyes, former beauty queen of the Baja State and property of Salvador Reyes. Salvador, we have your wife and we have a long list of demands, demands which I know you can meet. I expect full cooperation in this matter, or she dies in the next seven days. If she’s lucky. I’ll give you some time to think about what you’re willing to give up for her. Then we’ll be contacting you. Good bye.”

The light on the camera switched off but the rest of the room remained dim.

“I hope your husband checks his emails often. It would be a shame to have to put this on YouTube.”

There was a smirk on his face at that as he slowly walked toward me, the knife glinting in his hand. His eyes burned through the shadows, then grew somber.

He held up the knife. “I think it’s only going to hurt the first time.”

My eyes focused on the silver of the blade but the terror inside me grew too strong and my urge to breathe through the duct tape became too difficult. My lungs seized in panic, pulsing dots appeared in my vision. I felt a hand on my collarbone, gripping the edge of my blouse and then everything went black.

About the Author

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With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiance and rescue pup.

Karina is represented by Scott Waxman of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.

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Cruel Beauty

ImageTitle- Cruel Beauty

Author- Rosamund Hodge

Rating- 4 stars

Since birth, Nyx has known she must marry the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of an impossible bargain struck by her father. Her father foolishly thought he could bargain with the Lord of Bargains, he should have known no bargain can be ever won, yet he bargained anyway.  His wife could not have children so he thought to seek help from the Gentle Lord, the Lord of Bargains, in the end he would have to give up his daughter in exchange for his wish to be granted.

Left with no choice but to wed the Lord, Nyx finds herself hating her family for the choices her father made.  She hates her mother for allowing him to bargain with their lives, she hates her sister for not being the one chosen to marry and defeat the Prince, and most of all she hates herself for hating her family. On her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

There is one major problem with Nyx’s plan.  Ignifex isn’t what she expected to find in a demon lord.  He is charming, handsome, and even witty at times. I think his patience with her shows her that he isn’t as bad as his reputation.  His castle is a magical labyrinth that changes all the time, she finds herself counting down the hours until she can explore the wonderful maze of doorsand hallways.  The castle itself comes to mystify and charm her almost as much as Ignifex does. It changes and challenges her just like her husband.

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As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself drawn to him as only a person with a dark heart can be. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?  Decisions, decisions.

This novel is supposed to be based on the classic beauty and the beast tale we all have known and probably loved.  I don’t see the beauty and the beast tale, I see a girl who is broken and has had to hide her feelings her whole life.  Now that she finds herself married to a man who really isn’t all bad but still bad enough, she feels she can finally acknowledge her own heart.  She isn’t beautiful she is actually described as rather plain by Ignifex himself.  Nyx is drawn to Ignifex because she too can be evil but unlike him she feels remorse for her actions and thoughts.  She knows she must defeat him in order to save her home but that will mean giving up her love for him and let’s face it, we can all be selfish in the name of love.

Ignifex is a demon who has been bargaining with the lives all those who are trapped in Arcadia.  I think he enjoys what he does not because he is an evil demon but because those who come to him aren’t pure of heart anyway.  When he bargains with a person he always gives them what they want but in a twist or with carefully chosen words, he will always win.  Nyx begins to see that he doesn’t always like making deals with people but he is the Prince of Demons not the King.  He is ultimately sealed to his fate just as she is. Ignifex loves her, he really does because she challenges him, she is cleaver, and strong.  He loves her because he knows her heart and inside there is a tiny bit of hate and evil lurking there with just enough kindness to love him back.

I know a lot of reviews complained of ista-love but I don’t think there was any insta-love going on.  When Nyx first got to the castle she spent weeks searching for the hearts of the castle.  She dined with Ignifex and saw him here and there and developed a bond with him.  She even struck a deal with him that together they would try to free him but in the mean time she would still finds ways to destroy him and he still went about his business of ruining the lives of those who seek to challenge their destiny.  I felt as if enough time went by for these two to fall in love.

I won’t go too much into the end but I really wanted the two of them to be evil together and maybe even free Arcadia but still rule it.  I wanted Nyx to learn to enjoy making deals with people because Ignifex was right, did those who came to him really think they were going to win?  Those people kind of deserved what they got.  I liked how their love and relationship was dark and twisted yet gentle and kind at the same time.  I wanted it to stay that way, I wanted her to tell her family to fuck off she was the Princess of Demons now!  Arcadia had been trapped under that parchment bubble for 900 hundred years and occasionally plagued by demons, what’s 900 more or even an eternity when she had love? I know it’s dark but hell, this book is a dark fantasy after all.

Ok, the only problem I really had with this book other than it didn’t turn out the way I wanted *sigh* was the beginning.  What was all that mythology crap?  I get the book is based on mythology and folk lore whatever but the first 30 pages made me want to put it down.  I hated all that myth background crap because it was just too much, too in depth, and I just didn’t give a crap because it was confusing. I really do recommend this book for those of you who like dark fantasy type books.  I don’t think it’s too fast paced but it was good read.  I really did enjoy it and will probably read it again at some point.couple