Book Review: Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock

Title: Willowgrove
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Series: Hemlock trilogy
Rating: ★★★★


I have really enjoyed reading the Hemlock series, and Willowgrove is no exception. After escaping Thornhill, Mac and her friends know there’s a target on their backs. They learned secrets they weren’t supposed to know and got away from the camp. But they’re left with more questions, and Willowgrove sets out to answer them.

Mac has been seeing her best friend Amy’s ghost in her dreams. Mac knows she’s missing something in the larger picture, something that might help her werewolf friends. But any knowledge hovers at the edge of her mind, and disappears when she tries to focus on it too hard. When she does finally uncover the secret, she’s shocked and knows she and her friends will have to do something big to change the perception of werewolves.

I like Mac. I do. She’s sweet with Kyle, and it’s clear she loves him. She loves him enough to want him to stay with her, but understands why he feels the pull to leave and join a pack. She cares deeply for all her friends, knowing that a virus is not who they are. Mac understands the fear werewolves instill in people, but she knows the affected are so much more than a virus. She wants to change how the world views those affected.

I love the relationships in this book. It’s clear that the little group is there for each other and is going to fight to keep it that way. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I like that through it all, Mac has a few friends to travel the road with.

Everything about this novel is well rounded, from the characters to the plot line. I certainly didn’t expect the book to end up where it did, but everything made complete sense. As each little piece of the puzzle was revealed, it was amazing to see how quickly everything else started to fall into place.

Peacock created a fantastic world where werewolves and humans exist, and not once did the series ever feel like it was out of place in this world. Mac and her life are so wonderfully written that Lupine syndrome feels like it could easily be a true syndrome. I applaud Peacock for taking what could have ended up as a cheesy love story and turning it into the action packed, drama filled, romance story it is.

If you’d like to read Willowgrove, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle
Rating: ★★★★★

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

I’ll be honest. I went into this book thinking it couldn’t live up to the last two books. Not because I don’t think Stiefvater can’t write well, but because I couldn’t see how the story could possibly get any deeper than it already was. The last two books were so good that I didn’t think there was much room left to develop the story. And I was completely wrong. Thankfully.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue starts right where The Dream Thieves left off. Blue’s mother has gone missing and everyone is about to start school again. Gansey is devoted to finding Glendower. Adam has promised himself to Cabeswater and is feeling the weight of his promise. Rowan is trying to bring his dream world and the real world together. Blue is experiencing what true friendship is as she falls even more for Gansey.

Each of these characters has a piece of my heart. They each have their struggles, but they are really showing how true and strong their friendship is. They are there for each other, not out of obligation, but because that is what friends do. The little moments between Blue and Gansey are slowly cracking my heart. Each time they have a moment alone, the emotions are right there, nearly punching me in the gut.

I don’t want to talk about the plot of the story too much, since I think this novel is best experienced without and preconceptions. I will say that new characters are introduced, new complications arise concerning Glendower, and the world of the Raven Boys becomes even more clouded and wonderful.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. It had a little of everything I wanted. Characters are continuing to develop, as are their relationships with one another. There never feels like there’s a slowing of the pace and I was anxious with every page turn. I’m in love with this series and can’t wait to see how everything finally comes to an end.

If you’d like to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

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

Book Review: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Title: Forbidden
Author: Kimberley Griffiths Little
Series: Forbidden series
Rating: ★★★


Forbidden is different from any other book I’ve read before, in that it takes place in ancient Mesopotamia and revolves around the life of a tribal girl. It’s historical fiction, but not my usual type of historical fiction. I thought the idea behind it was incredibly interesting and could create the backdrop to a beautiful novel.

Jayden is about to go through the betrothal ceremony that will bind her to Horeb, the son of the tribal leader. Jayden cared for Horeb at one time, but he has changed and she no longer feels the same affection for him. She fears for what her life will become once they are married. When she comes upon a wounded stranger named Kadesh, she starts to question her feelings about the tribe and where her place truly is. Horeb is her betrothed, but Kadesh warms her heart.

I liked Jayden. I didn’t really feel connected to her until later in the novel, but it’s clear that she loves her family and always wants to do what is best for them. She understands that to make life better for her family, it is a part of herself that will be sacrificed. She had come to terms with that until Kadesh came along. She also knows that to be a woman in to be in danger, and she takes steps to ready herself for whatever comes her way.

The plotline was interesting and engaged me enough that I wanted to keep reading. The focus on dancing is interesting, although I tended to glance over those pieces after a while. I liked the emotions Little wrote about during the dances, but the details of the dances didn’t work for me. The only other issue I had with the book was with the pacing of the story. A few times it felt like time was dragging on. I’d start to skim until I read about something new happening.

Forbidden wasn’t as great as I’d hoped it would be, but it was still a good book. The ending made my breath catch and I’m definitely going to read the next book.

If you’d like to read Forbidden, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You

There are a few book themes and topics that can end up making a book amazing or absolutely destroying it. Jumping between alternate realities is one of those. Not only does an author have to create one world where reality jumping is possible, but the other realities must be developed as well. Plus, the science behind the jumping has to at least make a little sense. I picked up A Thousand Pieces of You because I wanted to see if Gray was able to create a book that sounded as good as the book description. While I wished for a little more development in some areas, Gray was able to write a book I really enjoyed.

Marguerite has just lost her father. He’s been killed and she knows who the killer is. So she takes the technology her parents developed, the Firebird, along with Theo. Theo is one of her parents’ research assistants. Together, they take off through alternate realities in search of Paul, another research assistant and the killer.

First things first. The world building. We are dropped right in the middle of Marguerite’s mourning of her father. It’s a bit different from the norm, and in this case it just didn’t work. I wish I could have seen a little bit about Marguerite and her father’s relationship, so I knew where we were starting. I didn’t feel her grief as much as I would have liked. I think maybe dropping the story in a day before everything happened would have given me that connection.

As for the other worlds, I think they were sufficiently described and created. Would I have liked a little more in-depth building? Sure, but I also realize that would have made the book ridiculously long and wouldn’t have served the greater purpose.

I’m a little on the fence about Marguerite as a character. I think she’s incredibly brave for using untested technology to search for her father, but also a little unstable, understandably, for it as well. She also makes a few decisions that left me scratching my head. She believes people in certain situations that most people with common sense wouldn’t believe.

In the end, A Thousand Pieces of You was a good book. It handled the alternate reality well. I just found it a little difficult to fall into the story and connect with the main character. I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t the amazing book I’d hoped for.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of A Thousand Pieces of You, you can do so here
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes series
Rating: ★★★★★

Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes has an amazingly built world. The struggles of the different Kingdoms are extremely real. We don’t get to see the “before” in this story. We begin with struggles and those struggles remain and change through the book. Meira struggles to find her place in the world, and the fact that her struggle is all a part of a much larger, more encompassing struggle is what makes this book so wonderful.

Meira is one of a handful of survivors from the Kingdom of Winter. She was only an infant when Spring attacked and destroyed Winter’s magic conduit. Without the conduit, the Kingdom’s magic can’t be accessed and used. A small group was able to escape and have spent the last 16 years trying to find the pieces of their conduit and restore the royal line to the throne. When one half is discovered, it sets off a series of events that changes everything Meira knows about herself and the group of survivors.

I liked Meira. She was a real girl, with fears and insecurities, but she also wanted to make a difference. She wants to be able to help the survivors restore their magic. She’s tired of being kept safe and protected. When she is finally able to go on a mission, she makes sure she shows just how much she wants to help.

Meira is also in love with her best friend, who just happens to be the king of Winter, if there was a Winter to rule over. She knows they can’t have anything, since he must be married to someone equal in status, but she can’t just turn off her feelings.

There is a bit of a love triangle in the book, and I’m not entirely sure where I want it to go. Both guys are wonderful, so far, and it’s clear Meira likes both. I’m not even sure if it’s a full-fledged love triangle yet. It’s more of a swoony feelings triangle. I rather enjoyed this triangle.

I am incredibly interested to see where Raasch takes this story next. The ending of Snow Like Ashes wasn’t a big cliffhanger at all. It only teased at what is to come. I’m looking forward to getting the next book and finding out what is next for Meira to tackle.

If you’d like to read Snow Like Ashes, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Title: Exquisite Captive
Author: Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan series
Rating: ★★★★★

Exquisite Captive

I loved this book. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. If I’m being honest, my only real experiences with jinn are those of “I Dream of Jeannie” and Genie from “Aladdin.” Those are not even close to the jinn in Exquisite Captive; Demetrios created an amazing story surrounding her characters.

Nalia is the last jinni of her race. She survived a coup that left everyone she cared about either dead or tortured. She is stuffed into a bottle and sold into slavery. Enter Malek. He is her master. He is abusive. And controlling. And confusing. But he is not a love interest.

I am sure some people will disagree with me on that point. Nalia does have conflicted feelings about Malek, but I don’t believe she ever feels love towards him. Caring? Sure. Sympathy? At times. But not love. Her relationship with Malek is like that of a Stockholm Syndrome victim with his or her captor. Malek has had power and control over her for so long, and has scarred her enough with her bottle, that when his behavior changes, she finds kindness.

The relationship between Malek and Nalia is an abusive one. Nalia recognizes that what she feels for Malek can’t be called love, just as what Malek believes he feels for her is not love. Not once did I get the feelings that I was supposed to want a romantic relationship between them.

On the other hand, Nalia’s relationship with Raif is not abusive. It starts out rough because they each want to use the other for a purpose. Raif wants the ability to save the Jinn races, and Nalia wants to be free from her bond to Malek. However, there is not the same abusive tone with their relationship. They certainly don’t like each other right away, but neither individual abuses the other. They develop their relationship slowly, and I enjoyed every second of it.

I am absolutely enthralled by this story and hate that I have to wait so long for the next book. I want to know what is going to happen next, both on Earth and in the jinn world. There are so many pieces to this story that just as I start to think the book couldn’t get any better, it does.

This is definitely a must read book. Demetrios will draw you right in and, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to put the book down.

If you’d like to read Exquisite Captive, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: Stray by Elissa Sussman

Title: Stray
Author: Elissa Sussman
Series: Four Sisters
Rating: ★★★★


I was intrigued when I read the description for this book. A new fairy tale? As someone who grew up on fairy tales, I knew I had to read this book.

Aislynn is a princess. She’s not exactly a popular princess, and she struggles with the magical power she’s being trained to control. All her lessons have reinforced the idea that magic is bad, and that to use magic is to stray from the Path. When her magic overwhelms her at the Introduction Ball, where she’s supposed to be introduced to her future husband, she is redirected and becomes a fairy godmother instead.

Fairy godmothers aren’t supposed to feel anything. They are trained to use their magic for specific purposes and to help their master’s control their own magic. But Aislynn is different and she soon stumbles into a secret others at the school are determined to keep quiet.

I wasn’t sure I’d like Aislynn’s character. When she was a princess, I felt very meh about her character. Once she was made a fairy godmother, she started to really question things and I started to like her more. She saw that the way of the world was flawed. She saw that everything she was told wasn’t always correct. She questions the rules and The Path and that made her much more likable, in my opinion.

There’s a hint of romance in this book, but it’s not overwhelming. It was just enough to have little sweet moments and happiness. Each time something happened, I smiled.

The world Sussman built is wonderful. I can easily picture everything in my mind. More than that though, she created a world that made me cheer for Aislynn, even when I wasn’t her biggest fan. The fact that she made everyone, in the beginning of the novel, seems on focused on The Path and how wonderful it is. Not one questioned it. It was the way of the world and didn’t deserve to be examined. Or that’s how it appeared on the surface. Once Aislynn becomes a fairy godmother, she realizes the system should be questioned, and she starts asking.

I’m interested in seeing how this becomes a series. I can see both companion and sequel novels working. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for Sussman, and this is a book anyone who loves fairy tales with a twist will enjoy.

If you’d like to read Stray, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Title: The Fall
Author: Bethany Griffin
Rating: ★★★★

The Fall

I will admit to not knowing of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” before getting this book. So I looked the story up and read it. And became thoroughly creeped out. And then I picked up Griffin’s story. And got the chills.

The Fall of the House of Usher makes up only a portion of The Fall. Griffin takes Poe’s story and expands on it, turning it into a novel about growing up in a house that makes you crazy. I even felt a little off while reading it. Madeline was born in the house, grew up in the house, and understands that the house will eventually destroy her. Generations before her have gone mad, the house pushing them to insanity and death. Madeline and her brother Roderick are next. Roderick was sent away to school with the hope that keeping him away from the house will keep the curse from harming in.

This causes Madeline to face the brunt of the house’s feelings. The house feels heavy. It feels cursed. But the house also protects Madeline and gives her a dog for a companion. Growing up, her feelings about the house aren’t completely black and white. As the story progresses, it’s clear that the only hope for Madeline and Roderick to escape the curse is to destroy the house.

Through flashbacks, Madeline’s life story is told. I really felt for her. She didn’t have the same opportunities her brother had, and she was subjected fully to the house’s whims. She was lonely, aching for human companionship. Her brother is away at school, the doctors that live at the house only want to test her, and the only friend she’s ever had is a dog.

Based on the opening chapter, as well as Poe’s short story, you know where the story is going. But getting there is horror-filled and chill-inducing. Just reading about the house gives the feeling of heaviness and of evil. The history of death and insanity flows through every page and it honestly made me uncomfortable at times. I loved it.

The Fall is a fantastic paranormal horror novel. My only complaint is that sometimes the pacing didn’t feel right to me. However, this is definitely a good book to read if you want to get that creepy feeling. It’ll give you chills from first page to last.

If you’d like to read The Fall, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: Deliverance by C.J. Redwine

Title: Deliverance
Author: C.J. Redwine
Series: Couriers Daughter Trilogy
Rating: ★★★★★


I have been anticipating this book for a while. Defiance and Deception set the bar high, but I had faith that Redwine would deliver. Something about how well she crafted the characters and created the world made me believe she would be able to not only meet my expectations, but also surpass them. With Deliverance, she did.

Creating a wonderful romance, and then separating the characters might put off some people. It could show the characters’ weaknesses, or even turn them from characters I once loved to characters I find annoying. Yet when Redwine did it, I saw the reasoning. I saw how Rachel wasn’t ready to face Logan yet. I understood how Logan needed to do this on his own first. Their romance was sweet and wonderful first. Deliverance is what made them real.

The rest of the story kept me guessing. These characters constantly found themselves taking one step forward, only to be shoved three steps back. Just when they think they’ve got a plan, someone throws a wrench and their plan has to change. Separately, Logan and Rachel are working with friends to reach an ultimate goal of destroying the tech that controls the Cursed One and removing the Commander from his power.

I think the most interesting thing about Deliverance is that Redwine takes the villainous characters, characters that you don’t want to like, and makes them relatable. You see that the Commander has his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. You see what him the man he is in the story. People aren’t born evil, and Redwine shows that.

I’m sad to see the Defiance series end. I’ve fallen in love with Rachel and Logan. I want to have friends like Quinn and Willow. As much as I wish there was more story to tell though, Deliverance ended the way it should. The story had reached its end and the characters were ready to move on. Deliverance is one of the best examples of how to end a series that I’ve ever read. Definitely put this entire series on your “To Read” list.

If you think Deliverance sounds like a good read, you can purchase a copy here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

New Review: Blackbird by Anna Carey

Title: Blackbird
Author: Anna Carey
Series: Blackbird Duology
Rating: ★★★★


Blackbird was not quite the book I thought it would be. I was really interested in the story, but I wasn’t sure if I could get into the 2nd person point of view. The first few chapters didn’t really connect with me, but eventually the story drew me in and the 2nd person point of view became an incredible way to feel like part of the action.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks with only minutes to react. She doesn’t know who she is, where she is, or why she’s there. She can’t remember a thing. She wants answers, but has the sense to know that answers are likely dangerous. She has a feeling that she is being hunted, but doesn’t know why or by whom.

Imagine that type of scenario. That panic and fear. The desire to know what is going on, but the worry that searching for answers will only make things worse. That is what the 2nd person point of view conveys in this book. It makes you, the reader, the main character. It’s not like other books where you have to imagine yourself in the place of one of the characters. Instead, the entire book is detailing your life, and you’re just as clueless to what’s happening around you as the main character is.

I think that’s the really interesting thing about this book. I think this would have been a good book from any point of view. The story is interesting and engaging. The characters feel real. But using 2nd person puts the reader directly into the action. I felt the same panic and fear that I was supposed to because I wasn’t reading about some character’s life. The entire book is filled with “you” statements. “You run,” “You are about to do this,” made me feel although I was the main character. I was the one in the book. It’s a feeling I rarely experience so fully in novels written in 1st or 3rd person.

I completely understand that the POV of this book will likely turn some people away. It’s not for everyone. But for me, it made the book more exciting (once I became used to it). I stopped picturing a character doing all those things and was instead putting myself into the book. I don’t mind that there weren’t many answers. It’s all a part of the 2nd person and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this story goes.

If you’d like to read Blackbird for yourself, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.