Review: One Fell Sweep

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One Fell Sweep by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!!

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning: Mention of war, death, and mention of annihilating a species.

Despite being a tad disappointed in Sweep in Peace I was still looking forward to reading One Fell Sweep. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it!

It’s been a few days since Sean and Dina went to the movies together. Gertrude Hunt has become quite. Sean and Dina are attempting to form a relationship. At night Dina senses a presence. It turns out to be Sean. Sean explains that he had a really bad feeling and came to the inn. A wormhole appears in the sky and a supernatural being emerges. Sean and Dina quickly deal with the situation.

The supernatural being is a Ku who has come to deliver a message to Dina. The message turns out to be from Dina’s sister Maud who is in trouble. Dina requests Arland to take her to Maud (who is on a different planet). All three then go to retrieve Maud and her daughter Helen. This journey will be the last of Dina’s problems.

I’m so happy that I enjoyed One Fell Sweep! The book is narrated in first person following Dina. There are some more pictures. And new characters. As well as an expansion on the world.

One Fell Sweep was more action packed! I enjoyed the additional new characters. Maud and Helen were awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship Maud shared with Dina. It gave readers an insight to Dina’s life before the book series. Helen was so cute! I really enjoyed reading about her interactions with all the characters.

The Hiru and Draziri situation was well done! The Draziri believe that if they kill one Hiru then they are guaranteed a place in heaven. It is not stated in any records why it is that the Draziri God’s preach this. A Hiru comes to Dina requesting help. The Hiru states that they have found a solution through the Archivarian. A sentient being of intelligence. In order to accomplish this the Hiru says that they will need to gather all the Archivarius. Once all the parts are gathered then they’re home free. In return Dina will get to ask the Archivarian a question. 

Dina wants to help but can’t really put her guests in jeopardy. The Draziri are known to not obey rules. And will likely reveal themselves to her neighbors. Which goes against the Earth treaty. However she ends up accepting as the Draziri launch an attack on her inn for housing the Hiru. Dina decides to ask the Archivarian about her parents.

Maud’s character was very intelligent. Maud’s ex-husband was a vampire who pulled a lot of stupid actions. This resulted in them being sent to Kahari an almost dead planet. Maud’s husband was murdered for his actions, leaving her to fend for Helen. Her insight into politics was awesome to read about! Also she was such a great parent!

The romance was really good! Maud and Arland had some of the best interactions. Arland falls hard for Maud. He’s also really great to Helen. Sean and Dina were adorable in this installment! I actually felt something for them. I didn’t feel much in the second installment. Sean’s parents also come in. They were actually really nice to Dina. Which I really appreciated.

George should truly get a medal for all his scheming. It’s revealed that George is the one that gave Maud the Ku and sent the Hiru to Dina. It’s really amazing how much he can accomplish in the name of good. Officer Marias gets involved in the supernatural war. He takes the information about the supernatural pretty well and proves to be helpful towards their cause. The Assembly and Ad-Hal is expanded upon. I really like how in every book that is some world-building. 

I really appreciated all the quirks in this installment. Gertrude Hunt, Olasard (Dina’s cat named by Helen), Caldenia, Beast, and Orro. Each off these characters made such a great addition to this installment. I especially loved Gertrude Hunt’s role. 

I’m just going to clarify something: One Fell Sweep is not a final book. It ends on a cliffhanger. Dina doesn’t find her parents (she does get some information), the Assembly summon Dina but you don’t get to meet them, and there is something that is hunting the Ad-Hal’s.

Considering how popular these authors are, I don’t think they mean to end the series on a cliffhanger. This series is self-published and over the past two years they’ve been really busy with other releases. There will likely be more books. It’ll just take some time. Thus far (on their website) they are working on a short story with Arland and Maud. I do still hope that it comes soon though.

Overall I really enjoyed One Fell Sweep! I highly recommend this series.       

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Review: Defy the Stars

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Defy the Stars by: Claudia Gray

 Nate Begle (Narrator) and Kasey Lee Huizinga (Narrator)

My Rating: 4 Stars

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: War and death. Dystopian society.

Part of Defy the Stars was read during #rimpysreadsathon. 

Defy the Stars was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Elise! Click on her name to read her review. When I heard that Claudia Gray was releasing a new book I didn’t particularly care. I’ve never read any of her books nor did I care too. Then I came across Elise’s review and was instantly captivated! Listening to the audiobook sample sealed the deal. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

Noemi along with the rest of the pilots is about to go on a suicide mission. She isn’t necessarily comfortable with this, but is still ready to die. However Noemi is considered with her adoptive sister and best friend Esther. Plunged early on into the an attack from Earth Noemi sees Ether’s ship in the far distance. Steering herself to it, Noemi comes across an abandoned looking ship.

The two land on the ship, while Noemi quickly tries to save Esther’s life. In the process she runs into Abel. A mech that has been abandoned for the past 30 years. Abel swears himself to Noemi and proclaims that he will follow her every order. Thus shenanigans ensue.

Defy the Stars is a unique Sci-Fi! I had a lot of fun reading. It is narrated in third person omniscient following Noemi and Abel. There are some flashbacks. The narrators did an excellent job bringing the characters to life! Nate Begle was especially impressive as he did a monotone robot like voice for Abel.

Let me start off with saying that Defy the Stars is a journey book. I mean this in a literal sense. Abel and Noemi travel to many different planets. This took up a good 20 percent. So if you don’t like that then I would suggest that you read another book. Or you could finish this, as each planet had it’s own culture and religious views. Which was written beautifully!

My other point is that there is a large focus on religion. Noemi identifies as a Christian and throughout the book she is questioning God’s existence. And how she fits into this world. I personally thought that the author did an excellent job! It was relatable and I do think that others would relate. There are also several other religions and races. Yay for well done diversity!

And lastly Defy the Stars deals with refugee’s, assimilation, and the messy war. Each planet has a different culture and in order to fit in to said planet you have to assimilate to said culture. Also when Earth was in terrible condition they migrated to the other planets and assimilated. The refugee’s actually had a name but because I was listening to the audio I have no idea how to spell it. The refugee’s travel the galaxy and try to find a home. The Liberty War and all the different sides was handled excellently! It was messy and really great to read about all the different sides and opinions.

Defy the Stars is very similar to most YA dystopian books. I personally think that this book is much better than a lot of dystopian books. Earth is the villain, which is a surprise because most books have another planet as the main villain. There is a man made disease, a rebellion, and a war. Regardless all these points are handled really well where as some books aren’t.

Noemi and Abel’s relationship was fantastic! They don’t agree with each other at first. And all Abel is to Noemi is a tool and a means to a mission. As they spend more time together Abel grows to genuinely care about Noemi. From her health to her mental well being. Noemi too grows to really care for Abel. They develop a really great friendship! The romantic aspect doesn’t come until the end of the book. I appreciated that the author develops Noemi and Abel through their friendship. 

Noemi’s relationship with Esther and Esther’s family is a huge part of her character. She thinks that she’s always angry and not compassionate. Abel is the one to point out that isn’t true. Noemi overcomes a lot of her misgivings with the Gatson’s and tries to move on with her life. Her parents and baby brother died in a car accident. Noemi is a Lationa! Her culture isn’t mentioned but her religion is.

Abel’s fatherly relationship with his creator Mansfield is a huge part of his character arc. Abel truly loves Mansfield and wants to see him one day. Throughout the book Abel comes to terms with the fact that he has feelings. And even begins to question Mansfield and his motivations. This is partly due to Noemi. Also Abel’s sarcasm was really funny! And it was surprisingly sweet to read about his love for Casablanca. 

While on their journey Abel and Noemi come across various people. They come across the Razors. A group of hackers who aid Noemi and Abel. The leader of the Razors is Virginia and she was awesome! Her and Noemi’s friendship was really sweet to read about. Also Virginia is implied to be LGBTQ. Virginia’s lines were some of the best. Like so on point and hilarious. 

Harriet and Zayan are a biracial couple. Harriet a black and Zayan an Indian. They were so nice! Riko and Ephraim are a part of Remedy which is a rebellion. Both were very interesting as was their relationship to one-another. All the side characters are useful to the plot and have their own back stories. Which is quite rare in YA.

There are multiple hints throughout Defy the Stars about Mansfield’s questionable motives and the reason behind creating Abel. I still have to admit that I did not see that plot twist coming! I look forward to reading about more of his motivations in the sequel. 

The book does end on a sort of cliffhangers. Noemi and Abel are separated. With Noemi being back on Genesis and Abel seemingly starting up a business of sorts. Considering how high the stakes are I am excited for the sequel!  

I only had a few problems with Defy the Stars. I wasn’t invested in the first 20%. This is a character driven book, so in the beginning I wasn’t that into Abel and Noemi’s story. However the more I read the more I grew to love Abel and Noemi! Seriously those feelings kind of snuck up on me!

With the amount of POC and religions I was really surprised that there wasn’t any racism. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just kind of odd. And logically speaking it doesn’t make sense. To be honest I didn’t really mind while I was reading. But now that I’m typing this review I’ve come to realize this. Maybe this will come up in the sequel. We’ll have to see.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Defy the Stars! I am looking forward to the sequels. I highly recommend it! 

 

Review: Piecing Me Together

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Piecing Me Together by: Renée Watson

My Rating: 4 Stars

A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Racism and police violence.

Piecing Me Together was completed during #rimpysreadsathon. Piecing Me Together was a book talked about last year through booktube. Surprisingly I hadn’t heard about it through GR or Twitter. After reading some reviews and seeing that it was in my library, I requested a copy. I’m very glad I did!

Through her mother’s encouragement Jade has taken every opportunity her school has offered. The latest opportunity is Woman to Woman. A mentorship program. Jade is initially reluctant to accept. Jade feels that she won’t gain anything from it, and it’s not really for her. Until her guidance counselor mentions that if Jade completes the program then she’ll receive a scholarship for any university in her area. Naturally Jade accepts. Throughout the book Jade learns more about speaking up, and gains some vital experiences.

I was happily surprised about how much I enjoyed Piecing Me Together! I didn’t have high expectations. It is narrated in first person following Jade’s point of view. Each chapter has title, wherein there is a word in English and translated to Spanish. Some chapters were shorter than others.

Jade was such a great character! I found her to be relatable. I too have some trouble speaking my mind from time to time. I loved reading about her growth and how she gained the courage to speak up! Jade actually read mature for her age, which I appreciated.

Throughout the story Jade struggles balancing her two worlds. At school she has to act and dress a specific way. At home she reverts to normal but her friends are still a bit apprehensive with her attending a mostly white school. Spanish and art is a huge part of Jade’s character. Jade makes collages about her surroundings and the people in her life. Her biggest dream is go to Spain and experience the culture first hand. I enjoyed reading about her passions and how much work she put into achieving her goals!

I loved Jade’s family! Her mother worked as a caretaker and was such a strong woman. She had a lot of good advice to give Jade and Maxine! And for once a parent in YA actually gave meaningful and relevant advice. Jade’s relationship with her uncle E. J. was so sweet!

Jade’s best friend Lee Lee was also fantastic! These two supported each other and were for each other there in times of need. Jade’s relationship with her mentor Maxine was also well done! They had lots of rough patches but in the end they became close. Maxine was a good mentor to Jade and two helped each other grow. Maxine frustrated me in the beginning. But once she told her side of the story, realized her mistakes, and started to grow I grew to admire her. 

Jade’s relationship with Sam was complicated. Sam is a white poor girl, whereas Jade is a black poor girl. The author effortlessly shows the reader the difference between their situations and how it is linked to their skin tone. Sam does and says some pretty hurtful things to Jade. She realizes this comes back and apologizes. Jade also owns up to her own mistakes. Together they start their friendship anew with no more secrets from each other.

Woman to Woman was an amazing edition! I honestly wish there are books with this type of mentorship which I can read about. All the women had different experiences and supported each other! The trips that Sabrina assigned were fun to read about! I truly believe that all women should have access to this type of mentorship. Regardless of color and background. It’s necessary and you can gain so much knowledge.

Several different issues are brought up! From police violence, social class/status, racism, to catcalling. The author handles this all effortlessly without sounding preachy. I loved how Jade teams up with her fellow classmates and friends to do something to raise money for Natasha Ramsey, a black girl who was brutally attacked at a party. All the conflicts were realistic and I rooting for Jade.

I’m just going to mention two things that really surprised me. Towards the end of Piecing Me Together Jade confronts her teacher about not being nominated for the school trip to Costa Rica. He explains that he has to give other students a chance, and that Jade already has so many opportunities. Jade calls him out on his prejudice and leaves.

The teacher comes back around to Jade to apologize. He also mentions that she has been nominated for the trip next year. I found this to be truly beautiful! Rarely do you ever experience let alone read about a teacher realizing his/her mistakes. And actually acting upon that realization!

There is no romance! That’s right you heard me, a contemporary without romance. While it isn’t impossible it’s quite rare. Jade does make mention off maybe dating and getting married. Right now Jade remains focused on her life and school. I really appreciated this!

The only problem I had was that I wasn’t invested. I was enjoying reading but I just wasn’t invested. Then out of nowhere Piecing Me Together grabbed hold off me and never let go. I was invested in Jade’s life and all the characters. While this is a minor complaint it still prevented me from giving a 5 star rating. 

Overall I really enjoyed this! I recommend this book for everyone. You’ll all find something to relate too.           

Review: Clean Sweep

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Clean Sweep by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Beware spoilers ahead! 

Trigger warning: Gruesome animal murders, descriptions of murders (fantasy creatures), and abusive behaviour.

Ilona Andrews is an author pair that I have been hearing about for years now. The duo are well received within the paranormal and adult community. I was in the mood for a strong female character book, so I found Clean Sweep. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

One of Dina’s neighbors dogs has been murdered yet again. Although this time the body is nearby her Bed and Breakfast. The neighbors leave Dina to talk to said neighbor. In the process Dina confronts new neighbor Sean Evans about the murders. The conversation doesn’t go well with Sean calling her crazy. That night Dina sees an unknown monster. Presuming this is the monster attacking the dogs, she attacks and kills it. Dina then finds herself facing something that she may not be prepared for. And she can’t do it alone. 

I had so much fun reading Clean Sweep! The book is written in first person whilst in Dina’s point of view. There are chapter numbers as well as pictures. The pictures are in color. I really liked how the authors added that. You don’t really see many adult books with pictures in color.

The world building was incredible! It was a perfect blend of paranormal romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. There are actual planets that Dina has traveled through. The vampires and werewolves have their own residing planet.  I have never read a book as such. The magic system was unique! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dina’s role as an innkeeper and the rules behind the world. I even enjoyed reading about the broom, the house, and Dina’s dog Beast.

Dina was such a breath of fresh air! She had a no-nonsense attitude, was highly intelligent, hilarious, and very relatable! And she read like a 24 year old. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the disappearance of her parents. It’s only barely touched upon in this book. While Dina wasn’t aware of everything that was happening, she knew enough about her the magic system. Breaks the stereotypical females in fantasy.

Sean was previously in the army and has recently retired. He moved to Dina’s neighborhood for a peaceful life. Of course this gets disturbed when the attacks start happening. Sean really grated on my nerves in the beginning. A majority of his behaviour was abusive. He did get significantly better as the story went on and apologized for his behaviour.

Sean’s interactions with Dina do cause him to grow. Dina is the one to explain the world his people comes from and the magic system. I have to admit that he did grow on me. Also his military knowledge was useful whenever they needed to plan anything. 

There isn’t much to say about Arland (the vampire). He has a very esteemed position in the army. The plot actually does revolve on him and some of his connections. He was smart and a charmer. That’s all I can think off. Arland is introduced towards the end of the book. Not much was revealed about him.

Caldenia is the only guest at Dina’s Bed and Breakfast. Holding a high position of sorts, she is a wanted murderer. Caldenia has killed thousands and for her own safety she is sent to Dina’s inn with the orders off never leaving. She actually paid Dina a lifetime worth of stay. In her own right she is also mysterious. Not that much is known about her. Caldenia knows quite a bit and was able to piece everything together before anyone else. Some of the best lines come from her. She was seriously funny.

The highlight off Clean Sweep is how well Dina managed to handle everything. She never resorts to anger. While she does get angry here and there, she is able to maintain a level head. She handled both Arland and Sean excellently. I just really love and appreciate Dina!

I had two problems with this book. I felt that the love triangle bogged everything down. Arland and Sean actually have fights over her. Usually which way is best to protect her. Although I appreciated that it was because of her lack of combat skills. Not her good looks. I also felt that Sean’s feelings for Dina were rushed. I felt no chemistry between them. While I would prefer for Sean to be end game, I mostly felt mutual respect and friendship between them. Not a crush. Had it not been for these points I probably would’ve rated it 5 stars otherwise.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Clean Sweep! I am looking forward to the next book. I highly recommend this series.         

Review: Finding Felicity

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Finding Felicity by: Stacey Kade

My Rating: 4 Stars

Felicity meets Fangirl in this contemporary novel about a young woman who must leave behind her fantasy life—inspired by her favorite WB show from the 1990s—and create a real one at college.

Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.

But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.

Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I have read Kade’s series and enjoyed them. Naturally Kade has been on my radar and I constantly keep a look out for her new releases. In 2016 Kade started writing contemporaries. Before reading Finding Felicity I was nervous, as I didn’t enjoy her previous contemporaries. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Finding Felicity!

Caroline has finally graduated high school. Her mother and her celebrate by going to their favourite restaurant. Once they reach home her mother reveals a surprise party and encourages Caroline to invite her friends. Only Caroline’s ‘friends’ don’t exist. Of course Caroline has to confess to her mother. Caroline’s mother is in shock and suggests that she see a therapist.

Dr. Wegman doesn’t give Caroline a diagnosis but instead suggestions for college. Caroline sees him for the whole summer before school. He also has her make arrangements to communicate while she’s at Ashmore University. Caroline has a semester to prove that she can thrive and make real friends. Otherwise it’s game over.

I’m really happy that I enjoyed Finding Felicity! I’ve been on a roll of reading underwhelming books. Finding Felicity ended that record. As per usual the writing style was good! Finding Felicity is narrated in first person focusing on Caroline’s point of view. There were chapter numbers.

First off you don’t have to watch Felicity to read this book. Caroline explains the general plot, giving readers enough information to understand everything. I liked how there were so many tv show references! And for once I actually understood them all.

I was so happy when I heard that Finding Felicity is a YA college book! Usually book’s with college are NA. I really appreciated it. And it remained me off my college days. There was some diversity here and there! Caroline’s RA was a Pakistani muslim. And one of the counselors was half-black.

As mentioned in the synopsis Caroline took the characters from Felicity and told her mother she had ‘friends’. There is actually a specific reason Caroline chose this particular university to attend. Caroline has a crush on Liam. They went to high school together, but she couldn’t really bring herself to talk to him and Liam had a girlfriend.

Like in Felicity Caroline plans to get with Liam whom she believes is her Ben (one of the characters in Felicity). In order to accomplish this plan Caroline reinvents herself. She buys a whole new wardrobe and puts on a bubbly persona. This was obviously omitted from the synopsis because it sounds very cringey. And most people wouldn’t read it.

I’m not gonna lie when I heard about this, I was planning on canceling it. I changed my mind as I’m sure there are some girls who would carry it out Caroline’s plan in reality. Thanks to media plenty of girls believe that if they have the right wardrobe and persona, people will like them and they’ll get the guy. I liked how the author through Dr. Wegman and people in Caroline’s life address this.

Caroline doesn’t really know Liam. She’s just built up this whole image about him based on the few interactions they had in high school. And Liam was not end game. There were subtle hints throughout all their interactions that Liam wasn’t who Caroline thinks he is. I appreciated Caroline standing up for herself when it came to Liam.

In so many contemporary novels authors write their heroines with the abusive love interest. There is another romance which was very subtley hinted. I liked Del a lot better and it was cute to think of them as eventually starting a relationship. 

Caroline’s growth was so well done! She actually made some friends and was happy to be at Ashmore. She made a change in herself, without Liam. Liam was certainly a part of Caroline’s growth but not in the same magnitude as she initially thought. And minus the whole stalking Liam to college, Caroline was a pretty smart and mature girl.

I related to Caroline quite a bit. When I was growing up I didn’t have any real friends. And because of that school life sucked. I definitely had it easier because I have siblings and we’re close. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if I was an only child like Caroline. Lying about ‘friends’ certainly wasn’t smart but I understand why she did it. And honestly who doesn’t do stupid things from time to time?

I loved the relationship that Caroline had with her mother! Her mother cared so much about Caroline and blames a lot of Caroline’s problems on herself. Caroline previously lived in New York. Then her parents divorced and the two of them moved to Arizona. I enjoyed reading about her mother’s advice! Her mother was actually a huge part of the story and Caroline’s life. Which is another rarity in YA. Their make-up at the end was written beautifully!

I was actually quite surprised by Caroline’s roommate Lexi. Lexi was not exactly appealing in the beginning. But her character was a huge part of Caroline’s development. I enjoyed getting Lexi’s back story and reading their interactions. And through some of Caroline’s influence Lexi’s character also grew. They made such great friends!

Dr. Wegman played a huge role in Finding Felicity. Caroline refers to their therapy sessions throughout the book. And she started realizing how wrong she was, Dr. Wegman was mentioned. I really liked how their was a positive therapy rep throughout the book.

Overall I really enjoyed Finding Felicity! I recommend it for everyone as I’m sure you’ll all find something to relate to.        

Review: Traitor to the Throne

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Traitor to the Throne by: Alwyn Hamilton

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I buddy read this with my dear GR friend Tova! Click on her name to check out her profile. When she post’s her review I’ll link it. 

Traitor to the Throne opens with a prologue in Jin’s point of view. The Sultan is planning a peace treaty between all the nations. Jin knowing his father all too well, starts fearing that this supposed ‘Peace Treaty’ will end badly for everyone. Jin leaves his undercover mission to go back to the rebellion and report all this to Ahmed. 

On Amani’s end the rebellion has just taken back a city that once belonged to the Sultan. Unfortunately a few lives where lost in the process. Much to Amani’s surprisement one of the women the rebellion saves, calls Amani by her mothers name. The rebellion then proceed to make their way back to camp.

At camp it is revealed that the woman is actually Amani’s long lost aunt. However they do not have the time to catch up as the camp is attacked by the Sultan’s men. The rebellion split up into groups and run to a safe location. Much to Amani’s surprise, she is betrayed by her aunt and sold to the Sultan as a Demdjii. For there onwards Amani has to try and escape the Harem as well as hide that she is the Blue-eyed bandit.

Traitor to the Throne was fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed it! We are given a character list and the mythology list. Rebel of the Sands is written in first person all in Amani’s point of view. Whereas in Traitor to the Throne there are a few chapters narrated in third person from various character’s. Those chapters also have a chapter title along with the chapter number.

Shira, Tamid, and Amani’s aunt (as stated above) make an appearance. For drama’s sake and for Amani’s growth, I wasn’t that surprised that Tamid would come in. Shira on the other hand shocked me. I really didn’t like her in Rebel of the Sands. Color me surprised when Shira not only became a main character but was the Sultima. The equivalent of a queen in the harem. Amani’s aunt Sayyida coming in actually made me happy. Until she sold her to the Sultan. Despite her short appearance Sayyida’s betrayal stays with Amani throughout the whole book.

Traitor to the Throne was filled with more politics and the setting of the harem made it particularly interesting. The politics were well done and actually interesting. The harem setting made for an interesting undercover operation, as Amani spends her duration trying to hide who she really is. The harem setting also reminds the readers how brutal this world is and to what extent people will do to survive.

Despite there not being many fighting scenes I felt that Traitor to the Throne was more action packed then Rebel of the Sands. The stakes were much higher. Especially with the Sultan watching Amani’s every move and having the power to control her.

There are a slew of new characters that come in. The most important one’s being Sam, Leyla, and Rahim. These three characters play a central part in the plot. Lots of new information was revealed. You get to learn more about the Dijinn’s, the history, and what they are capable off. Some Dijinn’s actually come in this book including Amani and Noorsham’s father.

As mentioned above, Jin left the rebellion to do some undercover work for Ahmed. When Jin returned Ahmed wasn’t too pleased with his brother. There was a strain in their relationship leaving Shazad and Delila to deal with the fallout. This strain lasted till the end of Traitor to the Throne. 

Once face-to-face with Shira and Tamid, Amani has to accept her mistakes. Amani and Shira were able to create a relationship of sorts. I and Amani slowly began to understand and like Shira as a character. Her interaction’s with Tamid were strained but they eventually come to a truce.

Despite Amani being separated from the rebellion, her relationship with Shazad was still strong. I really like the friendship that they have! Amani come’s to accept that she is a Demdjii much more than she did in Rebel of the Sands. This allowed her to actually have a good interaction with Hala.

While Jin and Amani were separated for most of Traitor to the Throne their interactions were still fantastic! The two of them make-up and all is well in the romance department. There will likely be more romance in the last book with the other characters. Imin and a new rebellion member Navid actually get married. The wedding was really sweet to read about!

The Sultan played a huge role in Traitor to the Throne. Amani has quite a few interactions with him. Readers and Amani are given some more insight into the ruthless man and some of his history. Amani spent a good ordeal of their interactions wondering whether Ahmed actually has what it take’s to be a Sultan. Hamilton did an excellent job with the Sultan! He wasn’t an annoying character or a stupid villain. The Sultan is very intelligent with terrifying plans for those opposing him.

My only complaint is that it took me awhile to get into Traitor to the Throne. I was honestly wondering whether or not I even enjoyed the series anymore. The more read the more I was proven wrong. That’s the only reason I haven’t given a 5 star rating. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Traitor to the Throne! I am looking forward to reading Hero at the Fall. I recommend this series for people who wanted more from The Wrath and the Dawn.   

Review: Girl Out of Water

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Girl Out of Water by: Laura Silverman

Rating: 4 Stars

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating with the Sunday Street Team to help promote this book. I had heard about this book through GR. I liked the synopsis (mostly because of her cousins mentioned) and when I saw it on Netgalley I immediately requested it. I am happy to say that I quite liked this book!

The book begins with Anise surfing and generally enjoying her summer. Anise and her friends are looking forward to this surfing competition (I think). Anise also has a possible romance blooming with a friend of hers.

This all changes when she goes home. Her dad informs her that Aunt Jackie got into a car accident and broke her legs. Anise is in shock and concerned about her young cousins. Anise asks her father whether or not they (cousins and aunt) will be visiting this summer considering the accident. Her father then informs her that they (Anise and him) will be staying with them for the whole summer. This doesn’t sit well with Anise as she had plans this summer and doesn’t like the idea of traveling. 

Anise then informs her friends about this development via text. All of her friends spend the night together celebrating. As Anise is leaving tomorrow and she likely won’t see all of them when she comes back (some of her friends have graduated and are going to university). Anise and her father fly the next day to take care of her cousins.

Wow this book took me by surprise! I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. This book is written is first person in Anise’s point of view. There are some flashbacks here and there as well as text messages.

My favourite part about the book was without a doubt how family had such a big role in this book. There aren’t a lot of contemporaries where family is a major focus. And I really appreciated that! I felt that Aunt Jackie’s accident was handled well. Everyone’s reactions was realistic and I really felt for all of them.

I really liked Anise’s relationship with her father. They were really close. And both supported each other while Jackie was in the hospital. Anise’s mom also played a huge part of the book. Even though she didn’t actually come in. Her mom really shaped Anise as did her father.

I really enjoyed reading about her cousins! Parker and Nash were adorable as was Emily. I liked reading about their interactions with one-another. And how much they looked up to Anise and her father. Especially Emily. I liked how despite Anise struggling to comfort them and give advice, that she didn’t give up.

The romance between Anise and Lincoln was sweet. I especially loved how it didn’t take over the plot. And for once the male lead didn’t have some horrible dark past. I liked how Lincoln encouraged Anise and helped her with her cousins. I also felt that Lincoln having one arm was handled well. And it was interesting to read about.

Anise’s relationship with her friends was also fun to read about! I especially loved the best friend (whose name I’ve forgotten).  The almost romance was also sweet and sad to read about. 

I liked how the internet played a big part of the book. As the was Anise’s way of contacting her friends. It was also fun to read about surfing and skateboarding. Anise is really competitive and I liked that about her.

I really enjoyed Anise’s character. I liked how she subtlety grew throughout the book. It was really heartbreaking to read about her mother and just how much it shaped her as a person. When she moved she lost contact with her friends in fear that they were moving on without her. It was done well and realistic. I liked how throughout the course of the book that Anise found a way to balance her friends and family. The ending really proves it to you. It was sweet to read about.

 I only had a few problems with this book. I did not like Anise’s reaction to moving at first. After reading more I came to understand her reaction because had it been me I think I would’ve had a similar reaction. I especially did not like her friends contacting her and trying to convince her to come back. Her aunt could’ve died and Anise’s friends know this. There were times that the dialogue was off and left the book feeling slightly dramatic. Nonetheless I slight enjoyed this book!

Overall I really liked this book! I highly recommend this book to contemporary fans.