Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins

Title: Belonging
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: Temptation series
Pages: 408 pages paperback, 416 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I had some problems with Temptation. I felt like the relationship was very one-sided and that Rose was giving more to the relationship than Noah was. After all, Rose was the one giving up everything in order to be with the person she loves. I still wanted to give Belonging a fair shot, though, because there was potential there. Hopkins could make something fantastic out of this series.

Temptation was all about the sweetness of falling in love for the first time. It was about the putter-pats your heart makes the first time you love someone and that all-consuming feeling that comes with being with them. Belonging was about was comes after that, about finding yourself, and discovering what you are willing to sacrifice.

Rose thought becoming Amish would be easy. She needed to do it in order to be with Noah and that was all that mattered. Her father might not be in agreement, but she was going to prove him wrong. She adapted to her new life, even though Noah has started acting like the Amish boy he is instead of like the boy she first met. After a while, doubts start to creep in and make her think about the choices she is making. They aren’t just temporary; she is giving up nearly everything from her former life in order to be with Noah. She has to find a balance between sacrifices she can make, and ones that would crush her.

Belonging dealt with my issues with Temptation. Rose starts to feel crushed under the weight of the new rules in her life. People point out how one-sided her sacrifices are. Sure, she gets to be with Noah if she becomes Amish, but in order to do that, is she just giving up modern advances, or is she giving up herself? All of that is addressed and Rose starts to think beyond the feeling of first love.

There is a cliffhanger of an ending, so if you don’t really like those, I’d wait to read until the next book is out. I could see the twist coming and yet it still made me catch my breath. Belonging moves beyond the fluttering feeling of first love and starts taking a look at how life can be altered by that love. It was a good read and has me invested in Rose and Noah’s story.

If Belonging sounds like your kind of book, you find find it here:

Thank you to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Review: Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: Another Little Piece
Author: Kate Karyen Quinn
Pages: 432 Pages
Rating: ★★★★

It takes a lot for a book to creep me out. My heart doesn’t race, I don’t get goosebumps, and bumps in the night don’t scare me.

Another Little Piece had that creep factor. The jumping perspectives meant I was never sure what was going to happen next. Sometimes Annaliese just wants to be normal and other times the monster inside wakes up and wants to come out. The memories of the past start to haunt her and it’s easy to see that something isn’t quite right.

I didn’t find the jumping perspectives confusing. While they weren’t clearly marked, I found it easy to tell when Annaliese was seeing the world through different eyes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it felt like a different person, but if felt like seeing an actor play multiple roles. Each time the perspective changed, it was like seeing Annaliese taking on a different character.

I liked that the relationship isn’t one of those “love you forever” ones. These are teens and they act like it. They speak of the future a little bit, but it’s never like some of the other novels out there, where the characters just know they’ll be spending the rest of forever with each other. In a story where there are a lot of unearthly elements, this small tie to the real world helped balance out the novel.

There were only a few things that took me out of the novel a little bit. I wish there was a little bit more explanation for why Annaliese is what she is now. It’s touched upon, but there isn’t ever really much depth in the explanation. I was also expecting a little bit more when it came to how the story ended. I felt like there was a lot of buildup for this dramatic event and then it fell a little flat. The resolution still worked, but it felt a little weak and lackluster.

Another Little Piece is a creepy novel that gave me goosebumps. It deals with the monster inside and what to do before that beast is unleashed. There’s a level of danger and urgency that made me keep reading until I had reached the end. The idea that everything could go completely wrong was always lurking in the background. If you’re looking for a novel that will give you that creepy feeling, Another Little Piece is it.

If you’d like to purchase Another Little Piece, You can find it here:
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Thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

Title: The Boleyn King
Author: Laura Anderson
Series: The Boleyn Trilogy
Pages: 368 pages paperback/ebook, 386 pages Kindle
Rating: ★★★★★

Okay. So. Alternate history. I wasn’t sure about this. I’m a huge history buff. As I write this review, the History Channel is on in the background and they’re talking about the founding fathers. Not only do I love history, but Tudor history is a time that fascinates me. Every person had a part, even the women (even though they were severely underestimated) and the fact that a country and religion was turned upside down because of a few select people amazes me. Writing a rewrite of that history could either be one of the best things I’ve read or one of the worst.

I am over the moon that The Boleyn King awed me. The way Anderson has crafted her story makes it feel as though this really could be the true history. She could have easily made the characters fit the better moral standards we have now, but it would not have felt authentic. The drama is there, both in the court and with France, and Anderson has done an extraordinary job of imagining how the past could have been dramatically different. With one change, so much potential was unleashed and Anderson took full advantage.

The story is written mostly in 3rd person from four points of view; Minuette, Dominic, Elizabeth, and William. Minuette is an orphan born on the same day and William and grows up as a part of his and Elizabeth’s lives. She is fortunate and knows it, but never takes advantage. Dominic is the best friend of Will and always speaks his mind when others would lie to the king. William knows he needs that and trusts Dominic more than nearly everyone else in his household. Elizabeth is the dutiful princess wishing for something a little more free. She knows her role, but that doesn’t stop her from dreaming of having choices.

These four have grown up together and their friendships create a fantastic story. I cared for every single one of them and the dynamic between all these characters unfolded wonderfully. Will and Elizabeth had their moments of being royal, and then a few pages later they are just people with their friends. Minuette and Dominic are able to speak more freely with the royals than most and that creates a special kind of tension and jealousy within the court.

The Boleyn King drew me in on the first page and it only got better from there. It’s not hard to picture this as a history book instead of a fiction novel and that is what I love most about it. Anderson completely convinced me of this alternate history and waiting for the next book is going to be its own form of torture.

If The Boleyn King sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass Series
Pages: 404 pages hardcover, 420 paperback, 351 ebook, 384 Kindle
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been looking forward to reading Throne of Glass for a while. It seemed like the kind of book that I would love. It has a touch of the historical, a little bit of romance, and a take-no-names heroine.

Celaena was the most notorious assassin in the country, but someone betrayed her and she ended up as a slave in a mining death camp. She managed to keep surviving long past the average, even making it through an escape attempt, before the Crown Prince brings her as his entry in a competition for the king. If she wins, she will be at the king’s beck and call to kill whomever he wishes without question for four years, after which, she will gain her freedom.

As if the competition wasn’t enough, something is killing off the competitors and what is left behind looks anything but human. Not only does she have to worry about the other competitors, she has to worry about whatever is killing them, as well as blending into court life.

Celaena is one of the strongest characters I’ve read and she knows it. She has the right amount of cockiness about her assassin skills mixed in with her insecurities about fitting into court life as a lady. She’s not afraid to downplay her abilities and talents, but knows when it’s best to take a step back and come at a problem from a different angle. She definitely relies on the help of others, but not to save her. She uses the help of others to make herself stronger and better able to move forward.

There is a bit of a love triangle, but I like how it is done. Without delving in too much and risking spoilers, I see one guy as a first love that makes her heart soar and gives her a secret smile, and the other guy as the one that will find a way to ingrain himself in her life forever. Either way it goes, I’ll be happy, even though I am secretly routing for one of them a little bit.

Throne of Glass is anything but fragile. It’s tough, yet sweet. It has the action that keeps me flipping pages woven in with the little moments that make me sigh and smile. Celaena is an amazing female figure to read and I’m looking forward to reading more of her strength in the books to come.

If you think Throne of Glass is your kind of read, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin series
Pages: 549 pages hardcover, 484 paperback, 560 Kindle, 340 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

Grave Mercy is one of those books that I’ve been thinking about reading for a while, but I was never quite sure about. I’d take a look at it and consider picking it as my next read, but I was never sure the history and the supernatural would mix well, so I’d put it aside and pick something else up instead. Finally, after a year, I decided it was time to read it.

It was amazing. There was everything I love about a historical fiction novel, from the drama and deceptions to the language and people. LaFevers even sticks pretty close to the actual history, which made me enjoy it even more. Even the assassin nun aspect fit perfectly, and I wasn’t sure it would. It adds another layer to the novel that makes it even more intriguing.

Ismae has been marked by Death and after a disastrous arranged marriage, she ends up at the convent of St. Mortain. She is trained to deliver death to those that are marked, and because of how the convent saved her life, she agrees to do Death’s bidding without questions. It’s only after she is sent on a lengthy mission outside the convent that she begins to wonder where her loyalties lie.

Gavriel Duval is the bastard half-brother of the young Duchess Anne of Brittany. Everything he does is to protect his sister, her title and lands, and her happiness. He and Ismae begin to work together in order to discover and take care of the traitors hiding in her court.

I think what I loved most about this book is how strong Ismae is; not only in physical strength, but emotionally as well. She has faced a tough life because of who she is, but instead of giving up, she finds a way to make her pain her power. Her strength also comes in her ability to see people for who they are, not what they say they are. She can see why people do what they do and tries to understand a little piece of everyone she comes across.

Grave Mercy is an intriguing read that will have you holding your breath as you wait to see how it all unfolds. There’s history, drama, romance, and death all wrapped into one gorgeous package.

If Grave Mercy sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: That Boy by Jillian Dodd

Title: That Boy
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: That Boy series
Pages: 287 pages
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been in the mood for a sweet book that will give me the flutters without having a supernatural component, or a ton of drama, or break my heart. That Boy is exactly that. Plus, it takes place in Huskers territory, and as a proud Huskers fan, that made the book even better.

Jayden has grown up with Phillip and Danny. They’ve been her best friends through everything, always there when she needs them. Even as they grew up together, their relationships never really moved past friendship. They liked how things were and didn’t want to jeopardize that.

Phillip is the calm one, the rational one, the one that will drop everything when Jayden needs help. Danny is spontaneous, doing things without thinking it through, and knows when to let Jayden stick things out. I like that the boys in her life are so different. Each boy has a role in her life and it’s easy to see how their little group builds each other up and supports one another.

Jayden isn’t more mature than her age, but she also isn’t stupid. She has to grow up fast in some ways, but she also acts her age at other times. She’s not the most responsible character I’ve ever read, but she’s also not irresponsible. She’s just a girl enjoying her life and making the most of it. Of course there were times I wanted to shake her and make her see what was going on around her, but it wasn’t out of frustration. It felt a little like when your friend can’t see what everyone else sees and you just want to talk some sense into her. For an author to make me feel like I’m actually friends with one of her characters is amazing.

That Boy gave me the flutters often. I’d read a page and get a silly smile and have that fluttering feeling. This book was exactly what I was in the mood for. I’m sure I’ll pick up the next books in the series whenever I need the silly smiles.

That Boy is a silly, happy, and sweet read that will leave you smiling and content. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking for a romantic read without it being so sweet your teeth hurt, That Boy is definitely a great book to pick up.

If That Boy sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Scarlet
Author: A. C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet series
Pages: 292 pages hardcover/ebook, 304 paperback/Kindle
Rating: ★★★★★

Everyone knows the basic story of Robin Hood. He and his band of Merry Men steal from the rich and give to the poor. There are so many versions of that basic story that adding yet another tale to the mix seems a bit too much. Don’t let that stop you from reading Scarlet however, because this is one of the best twists on the story I’ve ever read.

Scarlet is a girl hiding in Robin’s band. She doesn’t want it known that she’s a girl and she doesn’t want those that do know to treat her any differently. She’s hiding her true identity from everyone, even Robin and John, who think they know her best. When her past catches up to her and starts putting people at risk, she must decide how far she will let the violence go before she steps up and puts an end to it.

There is a bit of a love triangle, but it isn’t overdone. John is the flirt of the group, but when he starts to feel more for Scarlet, he starts to change his ways. Robin tries to stay away, knowing any feelings could put the group in jeopardy. Both boys give Scarlet feelings she isn’t sure how to handle, or if she even deserves the attention. By the end of the novel, it is clear where the romance is going to go, even if Scarlet has only just figured out her own feelings.

I loved reading about the fighting. Gaughen can write fight scenes amazingly well. I followed the action and could picture every move in my head. I could see Scarlet throwing her knife and jumping around. Each time she was faced with something, she found a way to fight through it. She knows sometimes it’s better to run than to stand and fight, even when all you want to do is make a stand.

Scarlet is a fast-paced novel that pulls you in right away and makes you feel for the characters. It’s a fantastic twist on the Robin Hood tale and I’m glad there will be more to come. I can’t wait to see where Scarlet, Robin, John and the rest of the boys go next and who they will face.

If Scarlet sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

Title: Let the Sky Fall
Author: Shannon Messenger
Series: Let the Sky Fall series
Pages: 416 pages
Rating: ★★★★★

I went into this book doing something I try so hard not to do. I hoped. I hoped this book was going to whisk me away and make me fall in love and be everything I wanted it to be.

Usually, hoping about books leads to disappointment. When I’m disappointed in a book, it’s hard for me to look past my hopes and dreams and find a way to love a book despite not living up to expectations.

Let the Sky Fall not only lived up to what I had hoped, it soared so far past my hopes that I didn’t know what to do with myself when I finished. I literally sat in my chair and stared at a wall for five minutes because I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do with myself.

The story is told from Vane and Audra’s points of view. Vane can’t remember what his life was like before he lost his family to a tornado. Audra knows exactly what Vane is missing, but doesn’t want him to remember one part of it. Audra must keep Vane safe at all costs, but doing so puts both of them at jeopardy for feelings they shouldn’t have.

The story of the sylphs is something I had never read before. The world of the sylphs is so wonderfully crafted, that I could almost believe there are true sylphs that walk among us. Messenger created a parallel world that fits so perfectly into our real one that I found myself looking at the trees move in the wind tonight and wondered who was controlling it.

The relationship between Audra and Vane is sweet and powerful. There’s something there that I can’t explain. It just fits. It’s like when you see those elderly couples in love, 75 years later, and you know that there is just something between them that isn’t supposed to have a name. It goes beyond love and I can’t say enough how much I loved it.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I have to wait forever for the next one. I’ll be reading this book several times between now and when the net novel is released. This is definitely a must read book.

If you think Let the Sky Fall is your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

Title: The Rose Throne
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Series: The Rose Throne series
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: ★★★

The Rose Throne felt like historical fiction, even though it wasn’t. Harrison built the world so well that I could picture it like I picture real places. I was drawn into the novel and felt for both girls having to live a life that wasn’t quite theirs and wanting to do something they actually wanted to instead of what was expected of them.

Ailsbet isn’t considered to be anything more than a pawn, to do with as the king pleases in order to meet the goals he wishes. She doesn’t possess the female magic, she isn’t the most beautiful woman in the land, and she isn’t the most personable. Her music is what makes her who she is, but her kingdom doesn’t appreciate that talent. The kingdom she lives in appreciates raw power, the strength of men. She’s trapped in a place that doesn’t appreciate her but will use her any which way she can be used.

Marissa grew up in a kingdom that celebrated the female powers. She’s lived a different life than Ailsbet and has ended up a bit more sheltered. She knows what a princess must do, but until it is right in front of her, she didn’t accept it as her fate. Where Ailsbet just wants to play her music, Marissa wants to follow her heart and find a love that means more to her than any title.

The lives of these two princesses depend on each other and each choice one makes affects the other. There is only room for one of them on the throne, but many ways for one of them to get there. They are both faced with tough decisions and both face an uncertain future.

The turmoil in this novel is written superbly and made it tough to put the book down. The main thing that drew me out of the novel was the passiveness that seemed to flow from the pages. There were many moments where the tension would have been wound even greater, but the style of writing made those moments fall a little flat. I’m sure there are some that adore this style of writing, but I felt it didn’t fit the novel.

The Rose Throne is like reading historical fiction with a twist. The magical elements made the story stand out and kept me turning the pages. I’m interested to see if there is more o this story and how it all plays out.

If The Rose Throne sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to EgmontUSA and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L Reid

Title: Pretty Dark Nothing
Author: Heather L. Reid
Pages: 321 pages
Rating: ★★★

Pretty Dark Nothing started off with a bang and the drama just kept coming. By the time the big plot reveal happened, my head was spinning.

Quinn is being haunted by demons and they are messing up her life. She’s fallen on the high school popularity totem pole, her father ran away and created a new family, her mom is hardly ever around, and her boyfriend left her. She’s feeling lost, alone, and confused. She wasn’t the strongest character, but she wasn’t trying to be. She was trying to get through each day without making it known to the world that she might be going crazy. That takes a different kind of strength.

Aaron has always watched from the background, but when his ability brings him to Quinn’s rescue, he’s thrown into her life. They go back and forth for a while, not confident in themselves to make a move. While I’ve read more swoon-worthy boys, Aaron was real. He didn’t always have the perfect thing to say, but he was a real guy. I don’t always need the swoon in order to fall in love with a character and that’s definitely true for Aaron.

I didn’t even try to guess what was going to happen in this novel. Quinn’s unpredictability and unreliable narrating made the twists and turns that much more interesting to read. I definitely wasn’t expecting the ending, but once it happened I could see all the clues fit together. The ending was dramatic and has a wonderfully horrible cliff hanger. I am really hoping there is another book to this series because I want to know what happens with Quinn and Aaron.

Pretty Dark Nothing drew me in right away and kept me reading long after I should have gone to bed. A book that makes me give up on sleep just to finish it is definitely a book I enjoy.

If Pretty Dark Nothing sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:

Thank you to Month9Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in return for a honest review.