Cover Reveal: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Okay, so all of you know of my love for C.J. Redwine and her “Defiance” series. I loved that series to death (still do) and it has been an agony waiting for C.J.’s newest book, “The Shadow Queen,” to come out. Sadly, it won’t be coming out for another eight months, but it does have a cover now, which makes me SO excited! Alright, here it is!

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THE COVER FOR IT IS GLORIOUS! “The Shadow Queen,” besides its stunning cover, sounds like it will be a crazy good story. It’s a dark “Snow White” retelling, much like the “Snow White and the Huntsman” movie, and I’m flipping out with how amazing it’s going to be!

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I love Balzer +Bray and C.J. Redwine SO MUCH, and I’m really looking forward to reading “The Shadow Queen” when it comes out!

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The Heir by Kiera Cass (The Selection #4)

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“The Heir” by Kiera Cass

4 out of 5 stars.

Two decades ago, America won the Selection and the heart of Maxon Schreave. Now the time has come for Maxon’s and America’s daughter, Eadlyn, to hold a Selection of her own. But there’s just one problem: Eadlyn doesn’t want to a husband.

Raised to be a capable and powerful ruler, Eadlyn has never given marriage a serious thought, but both of her parents are adamant about her having a Selection. Determined to not find a husband during her Selection, Eadlyn attempts to avoid entanglements with the 35 male contestants, but Eadlyn soon finds that a few of them have captured her attention, and maybe even her heart despite her resistance. More important than her current relationship status, though, is her precarious political position. Eadlyn is not beloved by Illéa like her mother and father are, and she doesn’t know if she has the heart like them to lead her people. With so much to learn, Eadlyn has to discover what it truly means to be a good leader and earn the trust and love of her people before Illéa erupts into chaos.

I have mixed feelings about “The Heir.” Kiera Cass is one of my favorite authors, and you all know from this blog that I ADORE “The Selection” series because it’s magical and practically perfect! I loved America Singer SO much in the first book, and Kiera did such an amazing job of helping her to grow and blossom into a strong and kind young woman. Adding Maxon and Aspen into that mix didn’t hurt, but I really did love the first three books for how much America grew and evolved while still being America. Ball gowns and charming boys aside, I loved “The Selection” series because of America and her spunky charm and beautiful heart. “The Heir” was just as well-written as Kiera’s other books in this series, but what distanced me a bit from the story was Eadlyn and her perspective.

Eadlyn was a princess with some massive ego issues, and she didn’t treat other people very well in “The Heir.” For me, Eadlyn was nearly the complete opposite of America, and so I felt like that distanced me from the story a bit because I had a hard time connecting with this character. I know that Eadlyn was not really meant to be liked at this point in the story because this book was about her growing into a strong female character; character growth is one of Kiera’s specialities, so I do not doubt that it will happen. I trust Kiera Cass completely with making her characters grow into kind and strong individuals, but it was still hard to like Eadlyn at this point in her story because she was kind of snob. She did have some growth as an individual towards the end of “The Heir,” but by the time I could enjoy her perspective, the book was over and the long wait until book five began. While reading “The Heir,” though, I could see that Kiera wanted to create a character that was the opposite from America, and she totally accomplished that in Eadlyn. One of the main differences between Eadlyn and her mother was how they did or, in Eadlyn’s case, didn’t befriend others. Eadlyn’s lack of constant friends outside of her brother, Ahren, made sense because of the way she acted around people. America, however, was an amazing friend because she was sincere towards other and fearless when it came to protecting the people she cared about, and that was why I loved her character so much in the first three books. Eadlyn, unlike her mother, treated others as if they were below her a lot of the time, and she was selfish and did not think about how her words and actions affected those around her.

All of that being said, however, I do want to note that I get where Kiera was going with Eadlyn as a character, and that I’m sure that there is a lot of growth coming for her in book five. I wish that I could have seen a bit more character growth from Eadlyn in “The Heir,” but despite that I ended up still enjoying this book. What I enjoyed the most about this book, though, was Kiera Cass’s side characters her choice in romantic interests.

Kile…

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I really loved this boy. I loved that he and Eadlyn had been at odds since childhood and that there was no initial romantic connection between these two, yet that they had history, which made their relationship more believable. Out of all of the suitors, Kile was definitely my favorite because he was so charming, sweet, sincere, and he also brought out the best in Eadlyn whenever he was around. Kile challenged Eadlyn and made her think for once about the feelings of others above her own. I loved that Kile wanted more than what the castle walls offered him, and that he didn’t treat his family’s favor with Queen America as something to abuse. I also enjoyed Kile’s presence in “The Heir” because it gave me a slight reprieve from Eadlyn’s cloistering snobbery.

Another reason I liked Kile so much was because he did not belittle others, and his character  was also quite smart. I mean come on, the boy carried books around wherever he went, so how could I not love him?Once again, I’m just going to say that I loved Kile because he never acted uppity despite the privileges granted by his mother’s friendship with the Queen. That would go to most people’s heads, but if anything, it drove Kile to do more and be more than just someone who leached off of the royal family and used their favor to get ahead in life. I think that only time I was in question about Kile’s character was when he let Eadlyn use him for publicity, but then I thought about it, and honestly, it didn’t make me like him less. All that the situation did was make me dislike Eadlyn more.

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Now that I’ve babbled forever about Kile’s character, I just want to say that what I really wanted from “The Heir” was more time with Kile. I got a lot of time with Eadlyn doing her internal dialog when what I really wanted was more interactions and conversation, with the other characters in this book. I desperately wanted more Kile and the other suitors, so that I could get to know the characters better, but the majority of this book was about Eadlyn’s inward struggle. It bummed me out a bit because I felt like I got to know the characters from “The Selection” so well, whereas in this book I felt like they were more of outlines of characters I could grow to care for (with the exception of Kile, who I already love!).

Another thing that I loved about this book was that Aspen and Lucy made an appearance. All the adults (America, Maxon, Marlee) felt like different people from the ones we got to know in the first three books of “The Selection” series, but not Aspen, not Lucy. They were adults in “The Heir” but they were still the Aspen and Lucy I had grown to love, and reading the parts with them made me want to go back and reread the other three books. I seriously needed more of them in this book!! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH ASPEN!!!

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Every moment with Aspen and Lucy just hit me in the feels like no other, and I hope there’s more of them in the conclusion to this series. Another part of “The Heir” that hit me hard was the ending…gosh, I cried a little bit with it.

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I did not expect that, and I hope Kiera doesn’t end up ripping my soul out in the next book with a very sad turn of events. Things were just fine as they were, so I am hoping for a happy ending concerning that particularly heartbreaking twist. Please, Kiera, be merciful…

Overall, I enjoyed “The Heir,” I just didn’t love. I am expecting tremendous character growth for Eadlyn in the fifth book, and I know that Kiera can and will deliver, I just have to be patient!

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

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“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Shahrzad has revenge on her mind. After her best friend, Shiva, was murdered by King of Khorasan, she made up her mind to make the heartless man pay for the light he snuffed out. Shiva was bright and wonderful and Shahrzad can’t bear another day that her best friend doesn’t get the justice she deserves. The King of Khorasan may be nearly untouchable, but Shahrzad has figured out how to repay Khalid for all that he stole from the world…

After being married to Khalid and becoming the Calipha of Khorasan, Shahrzad is closer than ever to obtaining her revenge, but unforeseen events happen and she discovers something that shouldn’t exist, something that should be impossible: Khalid, the King of Khorasan, has a heart. Khalid barely resembles the cold monster from Shahrzad’s nightmares, and her traitorous heart begins to wonder if there is more to this boy than the monster she imagined?

The longer Shahrzad stays in Rey as Khalid’s wife, the more realizes that nothing is as it seems within her husband’s palace. Webs of secrecy and mystery surround the caliph, and Shahrzad is determined to uncover the truth behind why every dawn a girl of Khorasan was murdered, and understand the reason for Khalid sparing her for as long as he has. Shahrzad’s stories are only a part of why she still takes breath, and she is racing against the clock to uncover the truth underneath of the lies before her time rounds out like the girls who proceeded her.

 Renée Ahdieh’s writing style was truly beautiful to read.  Renée had a rich vocabulary that painted elegant and three-dimensional scenes, and I was shocked by how her style of storytelling immediately pulled me into “The Wrath and the Dawn.” Normally it takes me a chapter or two before I adjust to an author’s style, but  Renée had my attention from the start, and I can honestly say that I loved her way with words. Everything she described was done so with rich detail, making me feel like I could reach out and touch it, and I found that to be very impressive. I love reading a book and feeling like I am being transported to another time or a different land as I turn its pages, and that’s exactly what Renée achieved in “The Wrath and the Dawn.” While reading “The Wrath and the Dawn,” I loved how Renée’s words moved me, and the only thing that I wasn’t the hugest fan of in this amazing book was Shahrzad.

I know that sounds like a huge thing NOT to like about a book, her being the heroine and all, but it honestly made no difference in my love for this story. I never felt like I connected with Shazi as a character while I read “The Wrath and the Dawn,” but I also didn’t hate her. She was angry and bitter because best friend, Shiva, had been murdered by Khalid. Shazi was out for revenge from page one, and although I wasn’t particularly fond of her voice, I understood her desperate need to make Khalid pay for his crimes against Shiva. I could respect her hate for him, but I had a really hard time feeling compassion towards her because of her sometimes petulant and childish behavior. Shazi acted like an entitled brat most of the time, and her metal haughtiness was kind of irritating and overpowering at certain moments in “The Wrath and the Dawn.” Honestly, who do you think you are to treat others as beneath you when you’re no one of real consequence, Shazi? She even got super offended when Khalid walked away from her at one point in the story, and the whole time I was thinking, “Really? You still hate him at this point in the story, yet you are offended when he doesn’t indulge your irrational mood?” *sighs* What I wanted to know was where she had learned to act so superior? I even felt like Khalid, who was a king, was more grounded and humble than her at times, and he treated others with a larger measure of respect than she ever did.

Please don’t misunderstand what I just wrote: I don’t believe that social or economic standing have any bearing on whether you’re important or not. We’re all humans with feelings, and it doesn’t matter whether your rich or poor, royal or a factory worker, because we all deserve equal rights, opportunities, and to be treated with respect in the same measure that we give it to others. With Shazi’s character, what popped out to me with her personality was that she came off as brazen and haughty instead of courageous and bold. I get that Renée Ahdieh was trying to make her come off as “larger than life” and , dare I say, ballsy, but sadly for me, Shazi did not come off that way.

I know that it seems like I hated Shahrzad, but I didn’t. Her childish and bratty responses only caused me to be kind of dispassionate towards her character rather than liking of disliking her; I didn’t want to see harm come to her but I also wasn’t really rooting for her to come out on tope either. All this being said, my dispassion for Shazi never made me waver in my love for  Renée Ahdieh’s writing style and her wonderfully designed world. 

Shahrzad aside, though, I found Khalid to be a really interesting character. Khalid had done a lot of bad things before “The Wrath and the Dawn” ever began, but he was far from the monster I expected. He had a lot of secrets that didn’t get revealed until the last fifty pages, but piece by piece the puzzle of who he was and why he had committed those heartless crimes began to make sense. What he did was wrong, but his moral dilemma made sense while I read “The Wrath and the Dawn,” and my heart ached for him. Maybe something was/is wrong with me, but even before any of those secrets started to be uncovered, I grew to love Khalid; every scene he was in was my favorite, and I he felt like such a rich, dynamic character to me.

As I said before, Khalid proved to be less arrogant than Shahrzad despite how he was raised. There were also a few moments when I could see that he understood that he was just a boy with far to many burdens to bear, that his status as King of Khorasan did not make him impervious or untouchable. Khalid may not have been arrogant, but he was hot-tempered, and this trait, made worse by his strong-willed personality and precarious situation, was one of his greatest downfalls. He may not have been brat like Shazi sometimes was, but he was definitely not without his flaws. Somehow, though, his weakness and faults only made my heart ache all the more for this him. Khalid’s position due to his “curse” caused me to have compassion for him when I probably should have disliked him, and I think it is interesting that Khalid, who was the “bad guy,” moved me to strong emotions whereas I was stone cold towards Shazi, the character I should have been sympathizing with.

 I really have to commend Renée Ahdieh on how she swayed my heart concerning Khalid. I usually dislike male characters like him because of their bad-boy, broody attitude and “misunderstood” actions, but Renée wove such an incredibly story around him. Khalid was truly misunderstood due to the secrets he had to keep and the things he did; interestingly enough, he wasn’t wicked or manipulative like the generic bad-boys authors tend to write. Renée Ahdieh caused me to see the humanity existing within him, see the heart he had, and understand the boy who had been turned into something cruel and cold without his consent. Khalid was a smart, cunning, and unassuming figure that stood silently but was always present in a scene. Khalid was tangible and I wanted to fully understand him and to discover who he actually was, I wanted to see the person he could have been if he hadn’t been dealt such a cruel hand in life; Renée Ahdieh accomplished all I wanted and more concerning Khalid’s character. I was especially impressed by Renée’s phenomenal job of developing Khalid in “The Wrath and the Dawn” despite him not having the most page time; when he was present, he made it count.

The romance between Khalid and Shazi was pretty good. Shahrzad’s perspective of Khalid slowly shifts from hate to dislike to something like love. Again, I felt a bit dispassionate towards Shazi, so I wasn’t rooting for her happiness, and was instead rooting for Khalid’s. I loved seeing Khalid open up as a character even if it was to Shazi, and the words  Renée Ahdieh wrote for his character were truly beautiful. What made them even more moving was how he was such a broken person, but somehow found these beautiful words within himself to share with someone he cared about. 

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The building the Shazi’s and Khalid’s relationship through scenes where such words were either spoken or written rang more true than a lot of other romances in books I’ve read, and even though I felt nothing towards Shazi, I shipped this couple because their relationship made Khalid happy.

 There are a couple of other characters in this book that have some bearing on the story behind “The Wrath and the Dawn” like Tariq, Rehim, and Despina, but the only side character that actually interested me was Jalal.

Jalal was the cousin of Khalid, and I really liked him. He was a charmer and weaver of beautiful words, and he was the character in this book who made me smile the most. I loved the scenes he took part in and I really liked how he challenged Khalid as a person, called him out on his crap, and supported the relationship that Shazi and Khalid had. Jalal believed in them even when those two characters had doubts or distrusted their relationship. I wish that I had gotten more time getting to know this supporting character because he felt like one of the more dynamic characters in “The Wrath and the Dawn” besides Khalid, and I hope that book two will have a lot more of Jalal.

 Everything about this book was really well-developed and creatively plotted, and although I had my favorite characters, I enjoyed everything about “The Wrath and the Dawn.” I was okay with Shazi and I never felt like she detracted from my enjoyment of this story despite my lackluster feelings towards her. I am hoping that I will enjoy her more in book two, but even if she doesn’t grow on me I know that I will love it! Khalid was amazingly dynamic and I loved him so much as well as Jalal, but what really impressed me while reading “The Wrath and the Dawn” was Renée’s quality of writing and her style. Renée Ahdieh wielded the sword of the written word so elegantly, and I found her storytelling to be truly beautiful. I loved how she wrote such vivid and rich scenes from the feel of the breeze on her characters skin, to the warmth of the sun seeping from the marble tiles at their feet. Her storytelling completely drew me into her world, and I wish that this book had been more lengthy so that I could have stayed in its grasp for longer.  Renée Ahdieh’s writing was my favorite part of  this book, but Khalid was a very close second!

Oh, gosh, and the ending of “The Wrath and the Dawn” made me love it all the more. So much had been revealed in the last sixty pages and so much had happened in the last couple of chapters that my emotions had been all over the place already, and then to have it end like THAT. It involved a heart breaking and soul shattering letter that left me near tears, and I loved that Renée ended it that way. It hurt, but it was brilliant.

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 Overall, I really loved “The Wrath and the Dawn.” It was so wonderful being swept away into a land unknown to me, and I loved discovering the truth behind the mystery alongside  Renée Ahdieh’s characters. “The Wrath and the Dawn” was elegant and entrancing, and I thought that it was a wonderful retelling of the “A Thousand and One Nights.” I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an adventure and for their heart to be broken. P.S. I NEED “The Rose and the Dagger” to be released right now!!! a3edd5dd05512be66ec5a40d1c5aac1f

Cover Reveal: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The beautiful and glorious cover reveal for “Their Fractured Light” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is finally here! Me and my sister have waited for what seems like FOREVER, but with how pretty it turned out to be, I’ll say that it was well worth the wait! Drum roll please!

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My reaction to seeing the cover for “Their Fractured Light” is depicted in the gifs below.

unnamed 2I accidentally stumbled upon a picture of “Their Fractured Light” on amazon.com, not realizing that the cover reveal was happening today. It was shockingly exciting to say the least.

pushing daisies3I went and grabbed my sister so we could fangirl together since this has become one of our most beloved series.

fangirlMy fangirl reaction to studying the beauty of the cover was a little bit of this,

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hook feelsand this,

fangirland this,

tangled deadand finally this. Flynn knows what it feels like to be a fangirl.

I am so excited for “Their Fractured Light,” and I cannot wait to see what Amie and Meagan have planned for their final installment in the “Starbound” trilogy.

Follow this link to the original cover reveal post to read an interview with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2015/06/11/their-fractured-light-cover-reveal-kaufman-spooner/71065252/

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

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  “Off the Page” by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van leer

4 out of 5 stars.

Delilah is the luckiest girl in the world. After having fallen in love with a character from the fairy tale book, “Between the Lines,” Delilah is granted her wish and Prince Oliver is brought to life and into her world. Pulled straight from a fairy tale means that adjusting will be difficult, but both Delilah and Oliver are excited to start their new adventure together beyond the pages of a book.

As wonderful as the thought of a beloved character coming to life is, the truths of reality are much more difficult to accept. Adapting to his new life is challenging, and to make matters worse, the book Oliver was taken out of is trying to correct itself, which means that it wants him back. Fighting against the book, maybe even fate itself, Delilah, Oliver, and their fictional and not-so-fictional friends try to make one last go of getting their happily ever afters. But then tragedy strikes, and each of them wonders whether anyone can ever truly have a happy ending in reality, or if they must accept the bitter truth that such things can only happen in fiction?

There were three different perspectives in “Off the Page,” and I enjoyed each one of them. Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah were fairly cookie-cutter characters, and at times their voices seemed to blend together a bit. Despite that fact, however, I grew to enjoy their voices for what they were: narrators of a “fairy tale.” Most of the traditional fairy tales tended to have multiple characters who all seemed to have the same voice, and so that aspect of “Off the Page” didn’t really bother me once I had adjusted to the fact that they acted much younger than I am used to characters acting. This was not a survival story where sixteen-year-olds were fighting for their lives, this was a fairy tale with a twist about a couple of kids in high school. Once I had accepted that, I began to enjoy reading from the three different points of view.

Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah were all cute characters despite their sometimes immature actions. Delilah irritated me at times because she seemed to be the most selfish and thoughtless of these three perspectives with her expectations of how things should unfold. Delilah wanted situations to go her way, and I can’t fault her for that because we all do it at times, but I disliked that most of the time she didn’t consider other people’s feelings. Despite that, though, I ended up being okay with this character because she grew a lot as an individual in “Off the Page.” As long as a character turns their attitude around and grows as a person, then I’m fine with them starting out a little bit vain and juvenile; it’s when they don’t learn anything that I’m bothered with attitudes.

Edgar and Oliver were cute, if not a bit juvenile, but I grew to like their perspectives as the book went on and I thought that they were sweet characters. I had a difficult time at first connecting to Oliver and Edgar, but eventually I adjusted to the kind of book “Off the Page” was and could then fully enjoy these two boys. They both had their moments of selfishness and weakness, but they also had times of heroism, bravery, and hope in the face of what looked like insurmountable odds. They were darling and I liked them.

All three characters experienced forms of personal growth, and I liked how each of them learned to be more selfless and sacrifice what meant the most to themselves to help someone else. Hope, selflessness, and creativity were the underling themes of “Off the Page,” and I thought that Jodi and Samantha did a very good job of making their characters, and in turn, their readers think about how far those three items go in the real world. With them, we as individuals could do SO much in the world to improve it. In the end, I liked Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah and how they grew in their awareness of others besides themselves.

I think the hardest part about this book for me was getting through the first hundred and fifty pages. I went in with the understanding that it was going to be a super sweet and completely unrealistic story, but I was prepared. Somehow despite my preparation, I still found myself growing a little nauseous and/or irritated at times because of  the characters’ actions, and that initially made it hard for me to connect or get attached to the different people in “Off the Page.” Maybe it was because I hadn’t read the companion to this book, “Between the Lines,” but I had a hard time getting into this story and characters in the beginning. I was a little worried for the first third of this book, wondering off and on whether I had wasted my money on a pretty cover with a lackluster story, and I just was not invested in the story or characters.

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I kept reading despite this because I honestly did want to love “Off the Page,” and around page one-fifty, I got my wish! Once it got to that point things started to get interesting, the plot and character relationships from the first book started making sense, and I began to enjoy all of the characters perspectives. I was happy how either I or the book shifted a bit, and once I got to that point I started to really like “Off the Page” beyond its stunning map and gorgeous cover design.

Surprising to me in this book were the parts that made me choke up; I didn’t expect to almost cry in this book, but I teared up multiple times before I finished it. There are two very emotional parts that made my heart break for the characters involved in them, and I thought it was interesting how Jodie Picoult and Samantha van Leer decided to approach the topic of death in this book since it was so overly sweet. Bravo on their part for almost making me cry while reading what I had expected to be an excessively happy story.

There’s a plot in the previous book, “Between the Lines,” that involved Edgar’s mother Jessamyn rewriting her fairy tale book so that Oliver could get out and become a real person, and it instantly made me think the show “Once Upon a Time.” Now, let’s remember that “Between the Lines” came out two or three years ago, way before the Author in “Once Upon a Time” was ever mentioned. I’ll be honest, the way “Between the Lines” and “Off the Page” went down, I wondered if the TV show might have jacked that idea without people knowing it. It was just so darn similar in that someone (an author) rewrote a fairy tale to influence reality, and it felt like the show had taken that plot line or been inspired by “Between the Lines.” This was probably me going off of the theorizing deep end, but I just thought that the similarities between the plots of the book and show were kind of interesting!

I know that I am giving “Off the Page” the same number of stars as Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” even though Sarah’s was epic and it blew my mind; there were a couple of things that I didn’t love in it that kept me from giving it a five star rating. With “Off the Page,” however, I graded it on a different scale. This book was on the cute chick lit scale whereas Sarah J. Mass’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” was graded on the epic fantasy scale. “Off the Page” accomplished what it was attempting to do for readers, it had an inventive and sweet premise, and it ended up being a well-written and cute story. Personally, that equals a really good, sweet chick lit book to me, and it was a fairy tale story on top of it. One blogger who liked this book said that it was “puke inducing cute,” and that’s exactly what this book was born to do. It was meant to be overly sweet and unrealistic with a few moments that made you cry, and I feel that “Off the Page” deserves a four star grade because it accomplished its goal. Not a lot of authors or book can say that for themselves, so I commend the authors on creating such an adorable fairy tale and picture perfect story.

Overall, “Off the Page” was a really sweet story that was endearing for its humorous moments and its tearful truths. It had moments of true and sincere depth, and I loved those pieces of this book. I think that young readers as well as older ones will fall in love with this book. If you love fairy tales and happily ever afters, then “Off the Page” is the book for you!

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry (Thunder Road #1)

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“Nowhere But Here” by Katie McGarry

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Emily is happy with her quiet, peaceful life. She loves her mom and adoptive father, Jeff, and she doesn’t feel the need to explore her family ties on her biological father, Eli’s, side. Once a year he comes to visit, upsetting Emily’s comfortable routine, and then he leaves and her life returns to normal. After Eli goes back to his side of the tracks, Emily resumes her daily life of peaceful, safe predictability, and she is perfectly happy with the arrangement. But when a family member dies on Eli’s side, her parents take her to Kentucky to say hello and goodbye to someone she hasn’t met before.

What was supposed to be a short visit for Emily becomes a summer stay. The opposing motorcycle club across the tracks are after Emily for reasons unknown to her, and the only way to remain safe is to stay with Eli’s family. The unexpected shift in plans aren’t ideal, but the longer Emily stays in Kentucky, the more this off-beat family grows on her. Emily had always understood that family was more than blood, thanks to her adoptive father, but the bond between this group of people is fascinating to her. As long as she’s been separated from this half of herself, Emily wonders if she can somehow be accepted by this loyal family that has chosen to protect her?

But bigger problems are at hand than whether the Reign of Terror motorcycle club will accept her or not. Lies surround Eli’s and her mother’s past together, and Emily doesn’t know who she can trust. Despite all of her doubts towards the rest of the club, Emily feels drawn to Oz, as if she can, should, trust him. Caught between the Reign of Terror’s and the Riot Club’s age-old war, Emily desperately searches for answers concerning her past and a way to unravel the lies everyone has told her. With the Riot Club determined to see her hurt or worse, Emily wonders how she and the members of the Reign of Terror are going to survive the coming storm.

 I am such a huge Katie McGarry fan! She is such an amazing writer and really the only contemporary author that I like to read. I’m sure that there are other good YA contemporary authors out there, but Katie McGarry has been the only author who has continued to keep my attention and capture my heart as I read her books. For me, it has been basically Jenny Han’s “To All the Boys I’ve Love Before” duology and Katie McGarry’s series in the contemporary world that I have loved to read and reread. That being said, I was both anxious and excited about Katie McGarry starting a new series.

I loved “Dare You To” and “Crash Into You” from Katie McGarry’s “Pushing the Limits” series because of how they made me cry and cheer for her different characters; I especially loved “Crash Into You” because Isaiah and Rachel were so great together, and I loved how each of them grew as individuals. “Crash In You” was one of those books that just completely melted my heart, and it remains a favorite of mine. As much as I love Katie McGarry and her previous books, I was a little scared about starting a new series with a completely different concept. I think that most dedicated book readers eventually feel that way when they are madly in love with a series/trilogy an author has written, but then something new and unfamiliar comes along and it makes them anxious as to whether the new series/trilogy will be as good as the previous one. I was there before I read “Nowhere But Here”; I was really excited for a new, fresh story from Katie, but I was also a little worried that I might not like it as much as her other books. I wasted a lot of energy worrying because “Nowhere But Here” was a fantastic new story to start off what looks to be a great series!

“Nowhere But Here” felt very different from both “Dare You To” and “Crash Into You,” and I kinda liked that. As much as I love those two books, it was refreshing to have the same caliber of writing from a beloved author while experiencing a new concept. I loved how the motorcycle club and the family it had formed was at the heart of this story, and that aspect did remind me a bit of a motorcycle version of “Crash Into You.” I definitely prefer cars, especially when they’re classic sport cars, but the motorcycles were very cool and interesting. As important motorcycles were to the people in this book, family meant more.

Oz was a very interesting male lead. When I first started reading “Nowhere But Here,” I assumed that he was going to be the bad boy character that the girl would help to redeem. I’ll admit it, I was completely wrong. My sister pointed out that Oz, if anything, was like Ryan from “Dare You To,” and I have to agree with that assessment. Yes, Oz was in a motorcycle club, but he was straight-laced, high school graduated, law-abiding citizen. Dare I say it, but he was kind of goodie-to-shoes in “Nowhere But Here”! Honestly, I thought that was smart of Katie McGarry because there are a lot of bad boy characters out there to the point that they are fairly unoriginal, and Oz felt pretty distinct from that stereotype due to his more straight-laced personality. Obviously there will come a book with the bad boy who will get redeemed, and definitely I’ll enjoy it, but I liked that the start of this new series ended up being a little from what I expected in both characters and approach. I ended up liking Oz as a character, and I thought that his loyalty to the club, which was his family, and it was quite interesting.

Emily reminded me a little bit of Rachel from “Crash Into You,” (I got to stop comparing these books!), and I liked her. She had her fears which were the result of some traumatizing events during her childhood, and I thought that it was interesting watching her grow as a person in “Nowhere But Here.” Despite all of the stuff she had gone through and the way everyone was lying to her in this book, she did not choose to cower and hide from what was happening. Emily had her moments of being afraid, but don’t we all? I enjoyed that she felt a bit more real than some of the female characters that I have read in contemporary fiction, and that was nice. Rachel from “Crash Into You” was the most relatable female character that I’ve read, but Emily was a close second.

I liked Emily and Oz together, but what really hit me in the feels about this book was the relationship she had with her adoptive father, Jeff. Jeff and Emily hurt my heart in a good way, and their’s is the best father-daughter relationship that I think I have ever read. They had a truly beautiful and heartwarming relationship, and I kinda wish that there had been more of them interacting in “Nowhere But Here” than with the other relatives on the motorcycle club’s side.

There a fair amount of side characters in this story, all with bit parts except for Eli and Olivia. I hate to say it, but I REALLY disliked Olivia. Maybe it’s because I was comparing my gentle, sweet, and spunky grandma to the very abrasive Olivia, but I did not like her. I felt really bad that she had cancer and I was so sad that she was suffering, but I still wasn’t a fan. Another thing that I didn’t like was that she was really judgemental of Emily’s mom and pushy with Emily when she really had no right to be. I especially didn’t like when she wouldn’t give her granddaughter the full truth, and when she did give her something, it was always in riddled pieces that took a lot of time to put together. Honestly, just be honest and tell Emily! I liked Cyrus, her husband, but the matriarch of this family bothered me. Now that I’ve rambled on about Olivia, I just want say that I thought Eli was a pretty good character. I disliked how much he lied to Emily, but I do get why he did it even though it was wrong of him to do so. Plus he was no Jeff.

This book was really enjoyable, and it was a fast read too! I sat down for an afternoon reading session and finished it just before dinner; considering the fact that it’s nearly 500 pages, it was definitely an addictive read. I really liked “Nowhere But Here” and I thought that it was just as good as Katie McGarry’s previous books while feeling really new and fresh. “Crash Into You” will forever and always remain my favorite Katie McGarry book, but I really liked the story of “Nowhere But Here,” and I am really looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I have a feeling that Razor’s story will be a very interesting one!

Food for thought…

Now my sister was reading “Crash Into You” earlier tonight, and she recognized a name in it from “Nowhere But Here.” McKinley was the family name of Eli, Emily’s biological father, and in “Crash Into You,” Isaiah talked with his mom about his dad and they went to the cemetery where his dad was buried. The name on the headstone was “James McKinley.” Isaiah’s mom told him that James was a great guy, came from a big and good family, and that he died in a car crash before Isaiah was born. The real kicker (besides the same last name) was when Isaiah’s mom said, “James loved motocycles…”—“Crash Into You” (page 456). My sister literally blew my mind with this connection of the two series, and I read that scene for myself to fully let it sink in. I am really hoping that there might be a possible crossover of Isaiah in the “Thunder Road” series.

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So far I haven’t read any review that have made this connection, so I am really curious if anyone else picked up on this subtly hint like my (observational genius) sister did. Thanks for reading!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

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“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas

4 out of 5 stars.

Hard times have taken nearly everything away from Feyre, and even though she is the youngest of three daughters, she has become the sole provider for her family. The burden of a promise she made long ago weighs Feyre down, but so far she has managed not to break it and has kept her family alive for all of these years. But one cold, harsh day in winter changes Feyre’s life forever.

Driven deep into the dangerous forests near the Wall, the only thing that separates the Mortal Realm from the realm of the Fae, Feyre kills a what appeared to be a great wolf so that she and her family can eat. But the creature she killed wasn’t a wolf at all, but a Fae that had crossed the Wall, and such a mistake will cost Feyre her future, her life. After a deadly, beast-like creature bursts into her family’s home, Feyre is given two choices: die now for her crime or live out a life sentence across the Wall in Prythian. The choice Feyre makes takes her to Prythian, a land unlike any other she has ever seen, as a prisoner of the beast, Tamlin.

The Spring Court appears as beautiful and bright as the ancient legends have said, but looks are just as deceiving in Tamlin’s land as they can be in Feyre’s world. Her first impression of Tamlin was also deceiving, and the longer Feyre lives in the Spring Court, the less beast she sees in him than man. Feyre doesn’t understand why, but she is drawn to him and the mysterious land he lives in. Secrets encircle the faeries of this Court, and Feyre is determined to find out why everyone on Tamlin’s manor wears a mask and why they act so suspiciously all the time. Something dark and vicious lives within the Spring Court, and some unknown force drives Feyre to uncover the truth behind its link to Tamlin before it is too late.

“A Court of Thorns and Roses” was a truly addictive read. My older sister was super sweet and she let me borrow it, and I sat down that afternoon, consuming it in practically one sitting. I was utterly captivated by Sarah J. Maas’s new version of the beloved “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale, and I was surprised by just how much I ended up liking it. I had read “Throne of Glass” a few years ago, and I enjoyed Sarah’s writing style, but high fantasy fiction is just not my deal. A much as I liked “Throne of Glass,” I didn’t end up following the rest of the series because of the high fantasy themes in it. “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” however, became one of the first traditional (fae, fairy tale themes, etc.) high fantasy books to truly hold my attention. Sarah J. Maas completely captured my heart with the fantastical world she created within this book, and I adored how it transported me to the beautiful and fierce land of Prythian.

The world that Sarah J. Maas created in “A Court of Thorns and Roses” was stunning and layered, with parts of the book shifting from the dreary coldness of the human world deep in the winter season to the bright, earthy, and ethereal atmosphere of the Spring Court. Each land that Sarah took me through was distinct in feeling and looks; I was so impressed with how markedly different each of her lands felt within this book, and it made for such an all-encompassing story. It was truly magical!

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One of the things that I am really looking forward to in the next book in this series is learning more about the Courts, how they function, and what kinds of fae live in them. I loved the map in the front of this book and I can’t wait until I can fill in the “blanks” concerning all of the Courts!

In the past year or two of reading, I have really grown to love world-building. I love how it draws me into the story as well as giving me a taste of the environment that the characters live in, and I love how it feels be taken to a place I’ve never visited before. But what I love most of all about world building is that it gives me the opportunity to understand the characters in the book. When an author builds their world well, I feel that I can connect with the story and characters so much better because I understand where they come from; it doesn’t always mean that I’ll adore the characters, but it really does help me. Sarah J. Maas not only delivered on the requirement of fabulous, in-depth world building, but she also managed to create equally fantastic and intriguing characters.

I ended up liking Feyre as the protagonist a lot. In the beginning of this book she came off a bit prickly because she’d had a rough life, and the toll of taking care of her family all by herself had jaded her. I was completely okay with that fact because I understood where Feyre was coming due to Sarah’s effortless world building; the human world I was introduced to was cold and heartless, and only the strong could survive in it. Feyre had a tough exterior with a mildly tough interior because, in her eyes, that was the only way for her to survive in the Mortal Realm. I found it interesting while reading “A Court of Thorns and Roses” that the environments, whether it was the Faery or Mortal Realm, reflected what was happening internally with the characters and vice versa. Feyre appeared to be neck-deep in despair during the first act of this book which could be seen in the cold, harsh undertones of the human world, but as the second act commenced, Feyre began to blossom into a more hopeful individual while she lived in Tamlin’s Court. The Spring Court had its own dark underbelly, but the way Sarah J. Maas wrote it made the Court seem like it was brimming full of life and light with its gorgeous gardens, thick magical forests, and ethereal creatures. There were a few scenes that displayed the Spring Court’s brokenness, but mostly I envisioned it to be beautiful and bright.

There were designated Lords over each of the Courts in this world, and Tamlin was Lord of the Spring Court. I went into “A Court of Thorns and Roses” without any expectations for the character of the Beast. Traditionally, the Beast was initially cruel towards Belle and her father, and he was a fairly ferocious creature. Obviously Belle brought out the good in him, but I went into this book being a little wary because, yes I loved the movie, but I didn’t know how I would feel about a guy character being that unkind towards the heroine in a book. I shouldn’t have worried, though, because Tamlin ended up being the less prickly of the two main characters. I liked Tamlin a lot because he never acted like the Beast in that he wasn’t brutish or vicious (he was a little broody at times, but I could get over that). Obviously, the Beast from the original fairy tale was pretty mean at first, but I felt like Tamlin was never that way except for when he first came and got Feyre to take her to Prythian. It was an unexpected, but not unwelcome, twist to the original tale. After I had finished reading “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” my sister and I started to chat about it and she pointed out that Tamlin was actually the one to engage Feyre in conversation and he helped her to become less wary of her surroundings. Tamlin had his moments of being the Beast, but for the most part he acted more kindly towards Feyre than she did to him. I really liked that Sarah wrote it that way because even though I wasn’t in his head while reading “A Court of Thorns and Roses” I could still get a feel of his character while reading. Tamlin was a strong male lead and I liked what Sarah did to the original fairy tale’s character to make him her own.

Both Feyre and Tamlin were really great characters, and Sarah J. Maas did a wonderful job developing them. I thought that the romance between them was well-founded and it never went into insta-love territory, so I really appreciated that while reading “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” I also really loved some of the side characters like Lucien, who ended up being fabulous! I’m hoping that Lucien will be a main player (or hero) of the next book in this series because he was just so great! One thing that irritated/scared me about this book, though, was Rhysand. I am sorry, but I hated him! Most of the bloggers that I follow really liked his character, but he was just SO evil and he never showed me that I should consider him as anything more than wicked; if anyone was a beast in this story, it was Rhysand. I really hope that Sarah J. Maas doesn’t take us readers into love triangle territory concerning this character, and that is honestly my biggest fear for the next book.

Rhysand aside, another aspect of this book that I found interesting was how the “Beauty and the Beast” curse was approached, and once again Sarah did a lovely job of making the original fairy tale her own while paying homage to it. I loved that I could almost see both the scenes of this book and the movie “Beauty and the Beast” playing-out side by side, and I could pick out which moments matched up and also what was different about them. It was really ingenious of Sarah J. Maas to write and recreate this beautiful fairy tale.

As I said before, I basically read this book in an afternoon. It was addictive and consuming, and page after page I kept reading until I got to about page 300, and at that point, the story slowed a bit because it got darker in feeling and theme. I wish that it had stayed in that etherial, magical place forever, but I did understand that Sarah had to change it up so that numerous issues could be addressed. I didn’t like it, but I understood. Seriously, though, those last hundred pages were brutal, so prepare yourself. I kinda wanted to yell at Sarah a couple of times to stop all of that from happening!

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Considering the chaos that Sarah unleashed upon her characters in the third and final act of “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” I thought she did a pretty good job of wrapping it up so that some questions were answered before new ones were introduced. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” was a really great read, and Sarah J. Maas did a fantastic job of creating vivid, dynamic characters and a beautifully fearsome world. Sarah also managed to take the story of “Beauty and the Beat” and stayed true to it while having made it entirely her own; “A Court of Thorns and Roses” read like a fairy tale, but it also felt unique and fresh. Overall, I think this book was one of the best retellings I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

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