Review: The Deepest Night by Shana Abé

Title: The Deepest Night
Author: Shana Abé
Series: The Sweetest Dark series
Rating: ★★★★

The Sweetest Dark snuck up on me with its uniqueness and how well written it was. The Deepest Night didn’t quite live up to the first novel, but it was still wonderful.

Jesse is gone, he has died and is now a star, watching over Lora. Lora is reaching the end of her first year at the Iverson School and she isn’t sure where she will be going for the summer. Armand is falling in love with her, but after the pain of losing Jesse, she is shut off from those kinds of emotions. Armand changes his home from a large, empty estate into a hospital for the war wounded, volunteering Lora as a nurse to keep her close by for the summer. After being told it is her mission to rescue a captured drákon, she and Armand set out, following the stars’ voices for guidance.

In The Sweetest Dark, the romance between Jesse and Lora is intense and encompassing. It’s Lora’s first taste of love and it leaves an impression in her heart, one that can never be fully repaired. Lora spends parts of The Deepest Night feeling that hole, feeling the loss of Jesse. But she also starts to feel more confused towards Armand, not understanding how she can have that hole and have these feelings towards another.

Armand, for all his cockiness, is amazing in this novel. His confidence and devotion to Lora are apparent from page one. Abé didn’t make him feel wholly threatened by the memory of Jesse, but used it to make him work harder for Lora’s affections. He knows he is the second love, but he makes sure he isn’t second rate. I loved the little moments between them, like when he tries to teach Lora to swim. Those small moments brought a smile to my face.

The plot of this novel once again has to do with the war. Armand hears messages from the stars, telling him that he and Lora must venture into enemy territory and rescue a drákon prisoner of war. They must fly over several countries in order to find him and try not to get gravely injured along the way. They encounter a number of obstacles, but between the two of them, they find a way to keep going. The journey strengthens their relationship and shows Lora what her true feelings are.

The Deepest Night is a fantastic sequel, even if it didn’t quite live up to the magic of the first novel. It is still a page-turner and will keep you reading until late at night. There’s drama, action, and romance all wrapped up in beautiful words.

If The Deepest Night sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Batnam publishers and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Can’t Wait for Mondays: The Retribution of Mara Dyer

I had a little bit of a love-hate relationship with the Mara Dyer series. The first book was good, but I was split on it. The romance part of the story was spot on, even if Noah was a little too perfect, but the paranormal side fell a little flat for me. I thought the series had promise though, and picked up The Evolution of Mara Dyer to read. Everything that i felt wasn’t there in Unbecoming was in Evolution. I went from feeling a little meh about the series to being in love. And that’s why I can’t wait for The Retribution of Mara Dyer. I am so incredibly excited to see how this story ends.

There is no book blurb yet, so I have no idea what to expect from this final book. The ending of Evolution had me pacing, wishing time would go just a little faster so we could see what happens next. There is so much left that needs to be explained and dealt with. There is so much more Noah that we need to see. Because, really…Noah.

I’ve been waiting patiently for this book to come out and that time is getting closer and closer. As soon as that pre-order button becomes available, you can be sure I will be clicking it.

If you’re interested in the full reviews for Unbecoming and Evolution, you can find them here:

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles series
Rating: ★★★★

I was extremely surprised when I liked Cinder. A cyborg retelling of Cinderella didn’t sound like my thing. But when I loved it, I figured I had found a series that would be worth sticking through to the end. As a sequel, Scarlet is surprisingly unique. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it could be a stand-alone novel, but it doesn’t rely on Cinder more than it needs to. It has its own story that slowly weaves itself with that of Cinder’s.

Scarlet lives on a farm with her grandmother. They are the only two people there, so when her grandmother vanishes, Scarlet is worried. There are too many signs that her grandmother did not go willingly and Scarlet is determined to find her. That’s when Wolf enters her plan. As her only possible link to her grandmother, she must rely on him to reach her grandmother in time.

Scarlet and Wolf aren’t my favorite relationship. Yet, anyway. There’s something that just feels a little forced and not quite right. I believe in the attraction they feel for each other, but that’s about it. I’m really hoping Meyer expands on this relationship as much as possible in the upcoming novels.

We can’t forget about Cinder, though. She’s been captured and put in prison, held until the Lunar queen is ready to get rid of her. Cinder doesn’t wait around for that moment and breaks out. She has questions and she is going to find the people that have the answers.

Scarlet sets a fast pace, but it’s easy to follow along. The jumping perspectives didn’t bother me at all, even though I know some people don’t enjoy that. It works for this book. Aside from Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship, there wasn’t much that I didn’t completely love about this novel. I’m looking forward to reading what comes next.

If Scarlet sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

Title: The Winter Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Rating: ★★★★

The Winter Witch is a bit different than The Witch’s Daughter. The storyline doesn’t span as many decades, nor does it travel the world. It’s not set in modern times, but instead a couple centuries ago. It is just as wonderful, if not more so, than The Witch’s Daughter.

The village Morgana grew up in knows she’s a little different. She doesn’t speak, not because she can’t, but because she just doesn’t. She has powers that she hasn’t been taught to control and that show themselves when the time is wrong. Her mother arranges for her to be married to Cai, a marriage that will take Morgana from home and hopefully away from the whispers. While she falls in love with the land immediately, it takes some time before she can admit her feelings for Cai. There’s a force in town working against her that will stop at nothing to get what it wants.

Morgana is a fantastic character. She may not speak, but she finds ways to communicate as best she can. She doesn’t know how to handle the magic inside of her and she’s smart enough to know that’s a problem. She might have been impulsive as a child, but she has a little more control over herself now. Strong emotions are what bring out her magic. Even though the story takes place in the 19th century, Morgana does not fall into that submissive female role. She fights for herself and those she loves, doing what is necessary and right to save the people around her.

Cai is not the strong, dominate male you’d expect from a period novel. He has a great respect for Morgana and views her more as his equal than his property. He wants to do right by her, something that he doesn’t have to do according to the standards of the time. He’s sweet and loving, and even though he misses his first wife, he is able to understand that she is gone, but Morgana is right in front of him. He’s also willing to act however he needs to in order to provide a wonderful life for Morgana.

Mrs. Jones is one of my favorite characters of the novel. Her personality is perfect and exactly what Morgana and Cai need in order to find a happy life together. Mrs. Jones fills in as Morgana’s mother figure and gives her the love she needs to make the transition into married life as smooth as possible.

The story itself was simple, yet beautifully done. It all centers around the love that Cai and Morgana have for each other, and how they will each stop at nothing to protect their life together. Morgana must fight the magical forces trying to separate them and Cai must fight the physical threats. They work fantastically as a team, both in the relationship and defending it.

The Winter Witch is a wonderful, beautiful novel that will both tug at your heartstrings and have you sitting on the edge of your seat. It leaves a content feeling as the last page closes, one that lets you take a breath and relax. It’s a lovely novel and Brackston is working her way onto my must-read author shelf. This is definitely a good book to read if you enjoy historical fiction with some magic and romance thrown in, this is the book for you.

If The Winter Witch sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Morning Glory

I was introduced to Sarah Jio when her novel Blackberry Winter was a Kindle Daily Deal. Her name had never crossed my radar before, but the book sounded good and it was on sale. Those are two things I can’t resist. I didn’t realize at the time that I would love her words as much as I did. Sometimes it takes a couple of books before I know I’ve found an author I love. I knew halfway through Blackberry Winter that Jio would be taking up a prominent spot on my bookshelves.

Her next novel, Morning Glory, is expected to be published November 26 and that feels entirely too far away.

From Amazon:

New York Times bestselling author Sarah Jio imagines life on Boat Street, a floating community on Seattle’s Lake Union—home to people of artistic spirit who for decades protect the dark secret of one startling night in 1959

Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street. She discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier. Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but little suspects that Penny’s mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge.

I love how Jio mixes history with the current times. Her focus on how the past can affect today is something I have always been fascinated by and I’ve yet to find an author who can blend the two as well as Jio. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason I love her novels so much, but there’s something about the characters and how timeless they are that I adore. I will be telling everyone I can to read her novels.

I will read anything Jio publishes and Morning Glory is no exception. I really can’t wait for this novel.

Review: Elegy by Tara Hudson

Title: Elegy
Author: Tara Hudson
Series: Hereafter series
Rating: ★★★★★

This is one of the most bittersweet novels I’ve read in a while. I knew what was coming, but that didn’t stop tears from welling up in my eyes. I stayed awake until 3am to finish reading this book. I couldn’t put it down.

On one side stand the evil forces that will not stop until they have Amelia under their control. They give her an ultimatum…she must give herself over to them, or they will kill someone she cares about every week until she gives in. On the other side, the forces of good offer her the chance to join them and save souls. The one thing both sides have in common is Amelia won’t be able to see Joshua again.

The relationship between Amelia and Joshua was heart-achingly beautiful. The love between them is so obvious, it’s practically a visible tie between them. Their love makes them stronger as individuals. They don’t try to stop each other from making the choices they need to make. Their relationship is what good, healthy, amazing relationships should be.
The secondary characters play a huge role in this novel. They are there for support and make Amelia stronger, more ready to face her personal demons. She trusts them to be there for her when she needs them most and they are there. Amelia gives back as well, being a friend to Jillian and creating friendships that will leave a lasting impression.

I could see how the novel would end from early on. Hudson doesn’t take the easy way out, that’s for sure. I spent most of the novel getting ready for the end, savoring each word on the page, not wanting to miss anything. Without giving away too much, the ending is not that of a fairy tale, but it’s what the series deserved.

Elegy is a touching, bittersweet, heartbreaking, make-your-heart-soar book that ends the Hereafter series in the way it deserved. It brought tears to my eyes, but the good kind. To put it simply, Elegy is beautiful.

If Elegy sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Book Talk: The e-Book vs. Physical Book Debate

E-Book or physical book? They each have the benefits and downfalls. I have a Kindle, but I still love physical books. For me, a world with both is best.

I read fast and always have. For example, during a recent 22 day hospital stay, I underwent one surgery and one procedure.  I had family visiting 4 of those 22 days. That gave me 16 days where I had nothing to do but read. And read I did. I finished  12 books during that hospital stay. That’s nearly a book a day. If I had tried to bring enough physical books to occupy my time, I would have needed a separate suitcase just for books. Instead, I made sure my Kindle was full of waiting books so I would never be without something to read.

Sometimes, though, you just need to hold a book in order to get the full experience. That moment when you open a new book and you can smell the words floating off the page. My family thinks I’m strange when I say that there isn’t much that compares to that new book smell, but it’s true. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a new book.

Another benefit of physical books is putting them on a bookshelf and getting to see all those spines looking back at you. All those books that you’ve read and have yet to read, just sitting there, looking beautiful, and waiting. And if you’re like me and have slight OCD tendencies, the organizational properties are a joy in themselves.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. I just happen to like both, but either format means you are reading. That’s the important part. Whether you read form a physical book or from an e-book, the important thing is to just read.

So, which format do you prefer?

Review: Rise by Anna Carey

Title: Rise
Author: Anna Carey
Series: Eve series
Rating: ★★★★

Eve and Once set up a world that was going to crumble before things could change. Rise is that crumbling.

Eve is married to Charles, unhappy and anxious. She is silently working for the rebels from within the castle. The death of Caleb strengthened her resolve and she’s not going to let anything stand in her way.

I didn’t mind Charles. He wasn’t a villain, but he wasn’t a grand hero either. He played his part well and it was obvious that he cared for her in some capacity. I wish Eve had given him the chance to be friends that they deserved.

Eve takes action in this novel. She’s one the move and has to make decisions quickly, thinking through the outcomes as far as she can, but still not knowing entirely if she’s right. There are some deaths in this novel and each one hit hard. Eve’s ability to keep moving even though everything around her seems to be stopping is something I admire.

The supporting characters play an important role in this book. Characters that hadn’t been involved much become key players and without them, Eve would have failed at some of things she needed to do. Without getting into spoilers, there are a few scenes that would have ended the book if Eve did not have support. I’m glad Carey made it a team effort at times. One individual cannot do everything alone, but with help and support, anything is possible.

Rise is the third series finale I’ve read in a row. Like Requiem the ending is left open, but it works. There’s enough of an ending that I feel closure. I don’t know where the characters will end up, but Rise still felt wonderful. I’m glad the Eve series ended the way it did.

If Eve sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: Goddess by Josephine Angelini

Title: Goddess
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: Starcrossed series
Rating: ★★★★★

I held off from reading anything about Goddess before reading the book itself. I loved Starcrossed and Dreamless so much that I didn’t want to have anything spoiled for Goddess, whether it was plot points or swayed feelings. I knew absolutely nothing going into reading this final book.

I loved it. It was the perfect way to end this series. Everything isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough. People are happy, but the future is still unknown. That is how an ending to a series like this should be.

Helen has gone through a lot for her family and friends. She’s faced down evils and traveled into Hades. She’s spent two books learning about herself and the world of gods and now it’s time to put all her knowledge to use. She has to be ready mentally and physically, and I liked that about the book. It doesn’t focus on needing to be the strongest or the smartest, but finding the best balance between the two. Helen has to figure out which battles to fight and which to outsmart.

Lucas and Orion. Angelini made me love them both. I felt just as torn as Helen when it comes to these two men. There is nothing that sets one far above the other, but I knew through all three books which way I wanted Helen to go. I think what made me happiest, though, was Angelini didn’t leave it up to fate. She didn’t make it seem as though Helen had to end up with one because the fates made it so. Helen listened to what her heart and mind was saying and made her choice that way, not letting fate decide for her.

The entire Starcrossed series has been amazing to read. Angelini created a fantastic world revolving around the Greek gods and goddesses that felt as though it fit in perfectly to the real world. I’ve fallen in love with these characters and am sad to see the end of their story, but I look forward to rereading in the future and falling in love all over again.

If Goddess sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Book Talk: First Crush

For nearly anyone who reads for fun, there is the first. The first book crush. If you’re anything like me, you can remember the first character that you desperately wished was real. My first book crush started during the summer of 2002. Sure, I had read some pretty good books before that year, but 2002 is when I met Gilbert Blythe.

My grandparents, sister, and I were spending the summer in Eastern Canada and one of our stops was Prince Edward Island, home of Anne of Green Gables. I bought that first book and there was no going back.

I fell hard for the Anne of Green Gables series. I couldn’t tell you then and I can’t tell you know why I loved them so much. I don’t know. I don’t understand it, really. But I bought every single one of the books in the series and devoured them. In the process, I fell in love with Gilbert Blythe.

Gilbert starts out as the annoying boy in class and ends up stealing hearts. He is so breathtakingly beautiful and perfect that I know no man I meet in real life will ever live up to the standards set by Gilbert. He loves Anne and their family so much that I could feel it floating out of the book. Even now, 11 years later, thinking about Gilbert makes me smile.

I’ve read a lot of books in my life. I’ve had a lot of crushes on book boys. But  the first is always the most special. That first book crush fiddles his or her way into your heart and won’t ever let go. It doesn’t matter how long you go between readings (because let’s face it, if you love the character, you’re going to read the book often), that fluttering feeling will still be there. The words the say will still make you smile. And just when you think you couldn’t love that first more, somehow you find yourself falling even further.

So now that you know my first book crush, what’s yours?