Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Title: Wildefire
Author: Karsten Knight
Series: The Wildefire Trilogy
Rating: ★★

I wanted to like Wildefire, I really did. A book that includes all gods and goddesses from the world’s cultures sounds like it could be amazing. Instead, the book felt disjointed and the action didn’t really start until near the end. I’m all for a thorough set-up, but the ratio of set-up to plot was off for me. The reason I kept reading, however, were the characters Knight created. They weren’t enough to save the novel though.

The book starts in the middle of a fight between Ashline and Lizzy, a girl at her school. Ashline’s sister arrives and escalates the fighting to a crazy level. From there, the story takes a while to unfold. Ashline leaves her school in favor of a private school, far away from the events of the first chapter.

Knight was able to write fantastic characters. They encompass the teen years perfectly. With each character, not only could I picture them as real, but I could see how they would have fit into my high school circle of friends. Ashline’s sarcasm won me over. She had a quick wit and a dry humor that I loved. Colt is sweet and persistent without being too much. Even Eve, the evil sister was written well. She was evil, but Knight wrote cracks into her toughness.

My main problem with the novel is how long it took to get to the things in the book description. Maybe it’s because I was expecting something else based on that description, but I found myself anxious and not in a good way. I was interested in the action of the book description. It’s quite possible that if someone had handed me the book, told me it was about a teen goddess, and sent me on my merry way, I would have enjoyed it more. I just didn’t find myself enjoying the build-up. It seemed like there was a lot going on, but it didn’t seem to move the novel forward much.

The other thing that turned me off right away was the fight in the beginning. Not that it was over a boy, things like that happen when you’re a teen girl. I was a little bothered by how violent it was even before Eve arrived and made things worse. I’m not usually bothered by violence, but something about these few opening scenes bothered me. It might be because I didn’t know the characters before being dropped into the middle of a violent fight.

Ultimately, this wasn’t the book for me. The characters were well written, but that couldn’t make up for the rest of the novel. Things took a little too long to develop and by the time the action really started, I was already taken out of the novel. I know this will be a book for some, but just not for me.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Wildefire, you can do so here:
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Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Title: Firelight
Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: The Firelight Trilogy
Rating: ★★★

I have not read many books about either dragons or the decedents of dragons. The idea interests me greatly, so when I came across Firelight I decided to give it a try. It had some issues, but overall it was a good book with an interesting backstory and plot.

Jacinda is the only fire-breathing dragon in generations. Her future has been mapped out for her from now until the end. In an act of rebellion and defiance, she flies during the day and is spotted by hunters. In her attempt to flee from them, she ends up trapped but meets Will for the first time. A series of events unfold and soon she and her mother and sister are on the run from the pride. She feels entirely out of place at the new school, until she crosses paths with Will again. For some unknown reason he both calms and excites her, putting herself, her family, and Will in danger.

Jacinda was an interesting character. She had good and bad traits, which I liked. I like when characters come across as real people. The dynamic between her and her family was really fascinated me. I think the entire family could benefit from sitting down and just hashing things out. There’s a lot of frustration and disappointment that stems from a lack of understanding from everyone. Jacinda can’t understand why her mother turned away from her draki side, why her sister can’t understand how hard it is for her living away from the pride. But on the flip side, Jacinda doesn’t try to understand their points of view very well.

There were a few issues I had with the book. I wish the dragon world was set up a bit more, maybe a little more background given or have the pride fleshed out a little. It didn’t really take away from the story; I just wish it had been included. Another issue I had was how quickly Jacinda and Will declared they were in love. It’s just difficult for me to believe that without being together for very long, love has blossomed. Maybe that’s just a personal thing with me, but I’d always rather have characters admit attraction and strong feelings instead of calling it love.

Firelight is one of the few books I’ve found that has a dragon understory and is a good read. The story is unique and has a lot of promise. I’m looking forward to reading what comes next for Jacinda and Will.

If Firelight sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman’s Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman’s Daughter Trilogy
Rating: ★★★★

Even a day later, I’m still having trouble figuring out what to write about this book. It’s dark, twisted, and a little horrific at times. It brings up an interesting topic and works to address it. There’s a love triangle that doesn’t annoy me. This definitely isn’t a book everyone will enjoy, but I loved it.

Juliet Moreau has lived with the consequences of her father’s actions for years. He vanished in the midst of a scandal, leaving Juliet and her mother to fend for themselves. After her mother dies, Juliet goes to work as a maid. After a series of events, she travels to visit her father, living isolated on an island, accompanied by Montgomery, the son of a former servant, and Edward, a castaway. Once on the island, Juliet discovers the truth about her father’s madness and how she is connected to it.

I’m torn in my feelings about Montgomery and Edward. In Montgomery’s favor is the childhood bond he shares with Juliet. They grew up together and there’s something about childhood friends that lasts a lifetime. But he also witnessed and was a part of her father’s actions, something Juliet isn’t sure she can handle. Edward is mysterious, running away from a past he doesn’t want anyone to know. Juliet can understand that desire after seeing the madman her father has become.

I had never read H. G. Well’s The Island of Moreau, but that didn’t take anything away from the novel. It’s dark and twisted, but not overly so. Things are discussed and Juliet comes to her own conclusions, but for the most part, the evil takes place outside of the novel. We get to see the consequences instead of the actions. I figured out one of the twists and had a feeling about another, but I was so drawn in that it didn’t slow my reading at all.

The Madman’s Daughter poses interesting questions. What is it that gives someone his or her humanity? Is it simply being human? Or can it be created? Dr. Moreau is clearly a madman, conducting experiments that should never happen. Does he still hold on to his humanity because he was born a human? What about the creatures he created? They were not human to begin with, but through the doctor’s experiments, did they gain their humanity? Are they people because they have human emotions, thoughts, and morals? Or are they forever doomed to be nothing more than monsters, the product of a madman’s desires?

The Madman’s Daughter fascinated me. I couldn’t put it down from beginning to end. The content is shocking and a little grotesque, but it is still an amazing novel. I think this is definitely a must read as long as you think you can handle the twisted nature of Dr. Moreau’s work.

If you think The Madman’s Daughter sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Title: Sweet Evil
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: The Sweet Trilogy
Rating: ★★★

Sweet Evil is a perfect title for this book, although probably not in the way Higgins intended. Parts of it are wonderful and had me pulled in, while other parts fell flat and had me scratching my head.

Anna sees and feels the emotions of people around her. Her other senses are stronger than a normal human’s should be. She’s never known why, choosing to deal with things as they come instead of look for answers. Things change suddenly after a chance encounter with Kaidan. Suddenly she wants to know more and is sucked into a world she never knew existed.

I was worried about this book in the beginning. It looked like it was headed for one of those “insta-love” teen books where without knowing each other, suddenly the two main characters are head over heels in love and everything feels a little too overblown. Thankfully, Higgins played most of the romance as major attraction, which I can believe. Unfortunately, this small saving grace came at the cost of good characters. Kaidan is a bit of a jerk and Anna needs to grow a spine.

Anna seems a little weak to me, but I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one. I’m willing to look past her weakness when to comes to fighting the evils. She’s just been thrown into an intense world where everything she knows is shaken. I am not willing to overlook her weakness when it comes to Kaidan, though. In my eyes, even if it is the most amazingly attractive man on earth, if he behaves like a jerk and treats a woman like Kaidan treats Anna, he is not worth any extra effort. I know it’s for the story, but I can’t overlook how Anna deals with Kaidan. Being rejected by a guy you barely know and who treats you horribly is not a reason to lose yourself. It’s hard for me to look past that.

The one thing that might get me to read the next book is the storyline. It’s interesting and holds promise, even if the characters didn’t really work for me. I was able to look past that and see the bones of the story and I liked them.

Sweet Evil is one of the most appropriately named novels I’ve read. I know some people will love it, but I’m a little lukewarm on it. I’ve read worse, but I’ve also read better.

If Sweet Evil sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Series: The Program
Rating: ★★★★★

I don’t keep my depression a secret. I’ve been to the bottom and fought my way back and I’m proud of that. Something about The Program got to me though. It took a while for me to figure it out, but once I did, I only loved the book more.

Sloane lives in a world where suicide is an epidemic, something that spreads from person to person, killing as it goes. Teens aren’t supposed to show grief or be upset. Crying can get them pulled away from everything they know and put into the Program. Memories are erased, leaving teens as a shell of their former selves. For Sloane, she’s watched even closer. Her brother committed suicide, leaving her more susceptible to the same fate. James, her brother’s best friend and her boyfriend, is watched closely as well.

I adore Sloane and James. Their relationship leapt off the page and had my heart beating faster. James is the perfect mix of cocky and insecure. He clearly puts on a brave face, but lets it down when he must. Unfortunately, this also leads to his downfall.

This is the part that had me invested even more. The idea that depression is something that needs to be hidden, that putting on a brave face is better than being true. It hit extremely close to home because for years, this is what I did. I ignored everything my head was screaming at me and acted as though everything was fine. I managed to keep the act going until I finally cracked. I did this because of the stigma that accompanies depression. I didn’t want to be seen as weak. For years, all I had heard was that I was so brave and strong for dealing with my disease while keeping a smile on my face. I felt that if I admitted how draining it was and how much I hated it, or how often it made me cry, that I would be letting everyone down.

The Program is the fictional version of that stigma. It represents the idea that pushing thoughts and feelings aside, instead of dealing with them, is the cure. Granted, suicide is not an epidemic, but I can see it heading that way. I felt so completely connected to Sloane as I read. Her feelings and thoughts hit home. I could not stop reading because I had to know what came next for her. I spent the entire novel rooting for her.

I didn’t expect The Program to hit me like it did. I figured it would leave some impression, given my connection to pieces of the subject. As I read more, though, I felt myself being drawn further and further into the novel. I’m extremely glad I read this book and I’ll definitely be reading The Treatment.

If The Program sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Series: Paranormalcy
Rating: ★★★

Paranormalcy was a decent book. The characters are interesting and the plot has promise. However, it felt like the book was trying to be too much. There was not only the paranormal aspect, but there was a lot of teen attitude. I had a bit of an issue with Evie, but overall the book was better that I thought it would be.

Evie works to contain and control paranormal beings. She can see through their glamours to what they really are, something no other person can do. She’s grown up in a world of the supernatural; not much surprises her anymore. After years of semi-peaceful existence, things are changing. An unknown being broke into the IPCA headquarters and paranormals are being killed off. The intruder won’t speak of his reasons for breaking in and the IPCA can’t figure out how the beings are being killed. Everything Evie has grown up with is changing and being put to the test.

Lend, the love interest, has his moments. He’s not the most swoon-worthy character I’ve read, but he did come across as a normal teenager. He had sweet moments, cheesy moments…everything you’d expect a normal teen boy to have. I especially enjoyed his insecurity about his true self. It was refreshing to read about a male character that wasn’t the perfectly confident teen. I’ve never met one of those. Instead, he puts on a front of confidence, but the moments when his guard came down were the best. They made him real.

Evie is the one that I struggled with. Putting aside some of her characteristics that I find annoying in any person, her strength was what bothered me. She started out pretty fearless, taking on challenges and figuring her way out of tough spots. Then she became a little too whiny for my tastes. Instead of fighting back like I would have liked her to, she put aside her feelings as to not anger the people around her, but the internal whining was a bit much. Near the end, her fight came back, but it was a little too late for her to be fully redeemed in my opinion.

Paranormalcy is a fine paranormal book and a decent teen novel. It just has a difficult time bringing the two halves together in a way that works and flows well. I’m not sure if this will be a series I continue, but if you really enjoy the paranormal novels, this would probably be a good book to pick up.

If Paranormalcy sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy
Rating: ★★★★★

In all honesty, I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed by this story. It seemed a little too good to be true, with an amazing sounding plot and good reviews. Sometimes I get a little cynical and don’t trust what I see. For The False Prince, I think this was a good thing. It let me be wowed and amazing with how quickly I fell in love with Sage and the story.

Sage is an orphan when he is bought and dropped into the middle of a plot to place an impostor prince on the throne. Four years after the death of Prince Jaron, Connor selects four boys he plans on training to be the prince, then selecting one to be the prince. Sage wants nothing to do with this, preferring his life on the streets to being a pawn in someone else’s game.

There is a touch of romance in this story, however it’s more of a promise of more. The main focus on this story is setting Sage up for the future events and demonstrating how quick and clever he his after his life on the streets and in orphanages. That said I’m very interested in seeing how things play out in Sage’s love life after reading just the little pieces in this novel.

I don’t think I realized how much I was enjoying this book until it seemingly hit me in the face. I was going along, having a nice time reading when it suddenly dawned on me just how much I was loving it. I didn’t want to read another word because that was one word closer to the end. Of course, by that time I couldn’t stop reading. I’m pretty sure I had a semi-permanent cheesy grin on my face for the last fourth of the novel.

I will say I guessed the surprise, but even so, it was wonderful to see how things actually played out. It is obvious Nielsen spent time fleshing this story out and making sure each little detail fell perfectly into place. I liked that she didn’t describe each little thing Sage did, because when Sage whipped out a coin he had stolen or revealed the other mischief he had been up to I was entertained, happy, and wowed.

The False Prince lived up to every expectation I had going in and continuously surpassed any ideas I had about the novel. It has drama and family and a bit of romance. Every little piece of the story was wonderful and I can’t think of anything I’d want different. I can’t wait to get through what’s left of my to-be-read pile and read what comes next.

If The False Prince sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Beloved Enemy by Ellen Jones

Title: Beloved Enemy
Author: Ellen Jones
Series: The Queens of Love and War

There are so many people in history I still know too little about. I know names and some dates, but there will always be more. Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the characters of history that I know of, but haven’t really looked into. Beloved Enemy was the first book I had read that attempted to create the world and life of this extremely powerful and influential woman.

In a time when men ruled and women were made to be wives and mothers, Eleanor had power. After her father died without a male heir, she inherited the duchy of Aquitaine, becoming the most eligible woman in Europe. Placed under the care of the king of France, she is married to Prince Louis and becomes queen of France only one month later. She is trapped in a loveless, lifeless marriage where the vibrant life of her youth is stifled and looked down on. After many years of marriage, she is finally about to get herself free from Louis.

Free from the French king, she wishes she could stand alone and rule the duchy in her own right. A few circumstances prove the times won’t allow this, so she allies herself in marriage with Henry, the Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou. In complete contrast to her first marriage, this one is filled with passion, both good and bad. Both Eleanor and Henry are strong-willed and stubborn, leading them to spend as much time in love as they do fighting. Henry wants to conquer everything he believes to be his and Eleanor is more than willing to go along, ultimately securing their fates at king and queen of England.

Before reading, I did a little digging into Eleanor. I like to know something about the people behind the characters. Eleanor had power in a time when women had none. She fought for things to be done her way, looking to see how she could better herself and the people of her land. She was smart and beautiful and knew how to use that to her advantage. All of that is in this book, but it also makes her into a woman who yearns for power and love, something that was rarely found.

Eleanor is not the only female this book centers on. Bellebelle, Henry’s mistress, is also a major character. She is largely a figure of Jones’ creation, although put together based on details from the times. She is a prostitute who captures Henry’s attention. In complete contrast to Eleanor, she is timid and quiet, fitting the role of women of the time.

The contrast between the two stories was fantastic. Eleanor is powerful and Belle has nothing. Both have the love of Henry, but they are different kinds of love. Henry loves Eleanor because she is like him: powerful, passionate, and cunning. Henry loves Belle because he does not have to be anything but himself with her. When these two women finally meet, that climactic moment shows that behind the facades, they are simply two women fighting for their own power in a men’s world.

Beloved Enemy is a very apt name for the events of this novel. It was an excellent first novel to read about Eleanor that ended up being a lot more than I expected. Each little piece Jones drops only makes me want to read more of her novels and about Eleanor. This is an excellent historical fiction novel and I will definitely be reading more.

If Beloved Enemy sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols

Title: Playing Dirty
Author: Jennifer Echols
Series: Stargazer

I love Echols’ Young Adult novels. Each time I read one, I fall a little bit more in love. So when I got the chance to read one of her Adult novels, I was excited. For the majority of the novel, I felt it was fantastic. The people have dimension and the plot line is interesting. I could see where things were headed, but I still wanted to read more. The last few chapters were a little heavy on the drama for my tastes, but I still enjoyed the novel as a whole.

Sarah has just returned from South America where she tackled a crazed rock star problem for the PR firm she works for. Despite her success in securing an album from Nine Lives, he still ended up in jail, leaving Sarah’s job with the agency in question. With her future on the line, she is given the task of keeping The Cheatin’ Hearts, a country band, from breaking up. They must deliver a new record in a week and perform at a 4th of July nationally televised concert. Sarah goes in prepared, but ends up having to change her game at every turn.

The characters that make up the band are interesting and easily held their own. Erin, the female of the group, has a lot more beneath the surface. She puts on a Daisy Duke southern chick act, but it is easy to see that she’s not completely that person. That might be a piece of her, but there’s a lot more to her. Owen, the drummer, has the reputation of being the sweet, albeit slightly slower, member of the group. But like Erin, it’s an act the public buys and wants more of. Martin is the musical genius that isn’t as put together as well as everyone thinks. And Quentin is the leader, the one that makes the pop hits and big decisions for the group even while acting like an uneducated hick. They all bring so much to the story that I could easily read a book about each of them.

The romance part of the novel wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, in that it moved extremely fast and while it was easy to get caught up in it, it was also easy to remember that this novel takes place in about the span of two weeks. I felt like I could go along with it up until the end of the novel, when I kind of wanted to hit the brakes hard.

Overall, Echols has a good Adult novel. I’m still loving her YA novels more, but the balance between characters and drama in Playing Dirty was good. Once I was sucked into the novel it took a lot to pull me back out and that’s enough for me to still be interested in reading whatever Echols publishes.

If Playing Dirty sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to NetGalley and Pocket Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

I didn’t get to have the roommate experience in college. I had a single room for my three semesters for health reasons. If I could have had my way, though, I definitely would have given the roommate a try, at least the first year. Roomies takes that experience and weaves an interesting tale of friendship, family, and moving on.

Elizabeth is anxious and ready to get her college years started. Things at home are fine, but she wants a change. So she sends an email to her future roommate, starting what she hopes to be a friendship. Lauren wanted a room of her own after sharing a room and a house with her ever-growing family. She begrudgingly replies to Elizabeth’s email and the relationship between them begins.

Each girl has drama and complications at home. The emails become their way of venting and working through their problems. Having an impartial listener gives each girl the chance to get an opinion not clouded by years of knowing each other. Of course, not being able to hear tone via email leads to problems within the growing friendship as well. The love interests are just a little too perfectly nice and sweet for me, but that’s a personal preference.

Elizabeth knows she is moving away from her friends, but it’s more than the physical distance that worries her. She doesn’t feel like she fits in with the group as well. She doesn’t really feel anything special for her boyfriend, her best friend is spending more time with the others in the group, and Elizabeth knows things will change even more when she finally leaves. So when new people enter her life and shake things up, she’s not sure anymore how she feels about leaving town.

Lauren has five younger siblings and has always felt like more of the third parent than a teenager. She builds her schedule around when her parents need her to watch the younger ones and she hasn’t had a room to herself in years. She has a possible new romance forming with the guy she works with and her parents finally cut the parenting ties with her, giving her the summer to be who she wants to be and do what she wants. All her newfound freedom has her questioning herself and what she wants going forward.

Roomies is a wonderful book for anyone about to enter college. It handles the transition time wonderfully, with just the right about of drama. That time is already stressful and crazy enough, and Zarr and Altebrando don’t add more than necessary. There are many teen books that just seem to pile on the drama to make the book tense, but it fails and they end up eye-roll inducing. Not this book. If you’re looking for a book for anyone about to go from high school to college, consider picking this one up.

If Roomies sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Reader for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.