Book Beginnings: April 21, 2017

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. Every Friday share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.


“Running along the edge of the rooftop, Allyssa kept an eye on the man below.”

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This week’s book is:

Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis

Description:

Sixteen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion–she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as the royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona–that of a vigilante–to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.

Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their kingdom and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life.


My Thoughts:

I liked this first sentence so much that when I went looking for one for this meme, I found myself reading on. What on earth is she doing on the roof trailing a guy? I want to find out more! Now I have a new currently reading book.

What do you think of this first line? Would you read on?

Review: Hunted

Hunted

by Meagan Spooner

Stars: 4 out of 5

Source: Won from Shanah from Bionic Book Worm

She has an awesome blog! If you haven’t already checked it out, you definitely should.

Description:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Review:

In this beauty and the beast retelling, I felt like it was almost more philosophic than romantic as I’m used to it. I still enjoyed reading the story though. The writing was well done and Yeva’s story kept me engaged.

“I will call you Beauty, for that is what you are.”

What I liked:

  • Asenka, Yeva’s sister. There’s something about her that really drew me. I wouldn’t mind reading her story even though it’s pretty much wrapped up in this book. She was an interesting character that left me wanting to get in her head.
  • There are little notes from the beast in between certain chapters, and I really enjoyed reading these. The insights into his thought process was engaging.
  • Yeva is tough and has great skills with the bow and arrow that grow through the book. I didn’t felt like her character changed much through the book though, just her skill set.
  • Yeva’s father. I really liked him and the thoughts Yeva has of him. The quotes she thinks of are always good ones and help tie the story together nicely.
  • The setting was well done, what with all the winter surroundings. The snow and crisp winter air were well described. Made me want to go crunch some snow underfoot. Luckily, it’s spring so it’s actually nice and warm after I got done reading parts of this chilling read.

What I didn’t like:

  • The romance was minimal. It’s the biggest reason I knocked off a star. The book was much more about Yeva and her journey than her falling in love. With a description that it has, it shouldn’t be a surprise, but it still had me wanting more from the love department.
  • The pacing was mostly good, but there were a few spots I found myself able to put the book down and not have a pressing need to come back to it. That’s never a good sign, but despite this, I still really enjoyed the read.
  • I thought there would be more to the end. Once it gets there, everything is rushed through. If it was a problem of the book being too long, there were some other spots I felt like could have been cut or shortened from the book to be able to lengthen the end.

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. she reminds us of what we used to be.

She reminds us of what we could be.”

All in all an enjoyable read. Also, I forgot to mention, I liked the cover, then I received the book in person and it’s even prettier. All shinny and what not. Fits well with the setting inside the book. Anyway, I would recommend this for someone who wants a different take on Beauty and the Beast without a lot of romance.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you want to read this book? Why?

Review: Heir of Illaria

Heir of Illaria

The Illaria Series #1

by Dyan Chick

Source: Bought ebook

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Description:

In Illaria, there is a fate worse than death.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been taught to fear the Necromancer King. He controls the kingdom of Illaria with dark sorcery and the constant threat of his undead army. I never thought I’d have reason to cross his path. Everything changed the day his guards tried to kill me. That’s when I found out my whole life has been a lie. By joining a resistance group called the White Ravens, I’ve claimed new roles. Princess of Illaria, sorceress in training, and threat to the Necromancer King.

Review:

Doesn’t that first line of the blurb just grab you? It totally did me. I found this book from Teacher of YA. She has some great reviews, so if you’re not already following her, you should be!

I really enjoyed this book! Was it perfect? No, but then no book is. With how much I enjoyed the book, I was easily able to overlook any minor problems I had with it.

What I liked:

  • The cover is gorgeous! I totally love it!
  • Wilona’s character growth is great. At the beginning of the book she bugged me a little, but it totally fit her personality and where she was coming from. Then as the book progressed, so did she. It was fun watching her grow.
  • The action scenes were fun to read!
  • I love the world Dyan Chick created. It was a creepy world, one I wouldn’t want to spend any time in until it got fixed up, but perfect to read about.
  • I enjoyed Wilona’s love interest. He was there without being too much or too little.
  • The magic was interesting to read about. I wanted a little more explanation about it, but I’m sure that will come in later books. I liked seeing the growth of magic throughout the book.
  • Saffron. Can I just say she kicks butt? But there’s more to her than just being a tough chick. I really enjoyed her character.

What I didn’t like:

  • My biggest complaint is that the book moved too fast. That’s why I knocked off a star. I wanted more time with everything, but it rushed by so swiftly, I had a hard time keeping up with it. It does make for a quick read though. More details would have really made it.
  • The ending. *Spoiler Warning* I wanted to know why the villain thought his plan would work. Why did he think Wilona would agree to marry him? Totally didn’t get that, and I wanted a clearer explanation of what was going through his mind.  I know that he had her grandmother brought back from the dead, but that didn’t seem like enough of a reason for me. *End of Spoiler Warning*

Overall, this was a great book. An excellent debut novel! I highly recommend it to any YA Fantasy lover that wants a quick read.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Do you have plans to read the book? What interests you about it?

Top Ten Tuesday: April 18, 2017

This week I’m participation in a new meme. Yay! It’s a hard one because you have to think of ten things to go with a topic, but I’m up to the challenge. I can come up with at least five anyway.  I’ve seen this meme around before and thought it looked like a lot of fun to participate in.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t post Mailbox Monday, it’s because I was trying to cut back the amount of books I got last week. Good thing too because I only read one book. Eek! I did get one book, which was one I read, but I’ll add it to next weeks list.

Without further ado, Top Ten Tuesday. Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They have questions posted on their website in advance if you want to participate.

This week’s top ten: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

  1. Romance. I am a sucker for all things love. Now, it does need to be a sweet/clean romance, but as long as you have that, I will read ASAP!
  2. Fantasy of some sort. I’m crazy about all things magical and different. Our world is fine, but I live it every day. I’d like to be in a world where new and extraordinary things happen.
  3. Fairy Tale Retelling. What can I say? I’m still young at heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. I just love a good retelling. Bring it on!
  4. Non Western Settings. Don’t get me wrong, I like the traditional western setting. But it’s so common. Base a fantasy off of Russia, Egypt, India, or some other more unique world and I am there!
  5. Princesses. Or queens. Or any royalty. I’m not picky. But give me someone with power or the chance at power (with romance in their future, see note #1) and I’m all over it.

Whew! Good thing I was only aiming for five and not the full ten. The first couple were easy to come up with, but then I really had to think, haha.

What things make a book an instant read for you?

Review: Endure

Endure

Defy #3

by Sara B. Larson

BEWARE! Even the description is a spoiler!

Description:

At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

Review:

I so wanted to like this book, but it wasn’t meant to be. After the last book, I had high hopes for this one, but they weren’t realized. I had a problem with one decision that spiraled into the plot for the entire book, ruining it for me. Someone else that wasn’t upset with the decision may have enjoyed the book better than I.

“Above us, the sky was an endless expanse of velvety black, with millions of stars spreading like glittering diamonds spilled across the dark canvas.”

What I liked about this book:

  • The epilogue. I really like what the author did with the end. It turned out good for me.
  • If I hadn’t had a problem with the decision, the middle would have been very intense, full of all sorts of angst and worry. I think it was very well done.
  • Some of the writing was just pretty

 

What I didn’t like about the book:

  • That decision I mentioned earlier, yeah, it was thoughtless and stupid. Alexa didn’t really think things through, she just jumped in not realizing it that it would have been a bad idea not matter how you looked at it. The problem is, this ended up being the basis for the entire plot. Frowny face. I think the author could have taken it in a direction that I would have liked better, but still stayed true to the story.
  • There wasn’t enough romance. Damian just wasn’t in the book as much as I wanted and it was kind of a bummer.
  • The cover. I know, superficial of me, but I liked the other covers. Something about this one seemed off. Like it was almost cartoonish. I know others like it, but it just didn’t do it for me.
  • There was something never explained about why the villain wanted Alexa. I mean, they gave a reason, but we never found out if that reason was true or not. I would have liked to know and not just guessed at it.
  • The end. Sigh. Spoiler Warning: Alexa only sorta ended the battle with the King. I mean, she killed him, yay her! But the real fight with all the black sorcerers and everything with the King being killed was able to happen because of the Unseen power giving it to them. I just wanted to see more of the people overcoming this and not have it magically taken care of. Also, why we have to spoiler warning here, why didn’t Alexa ever tell Damina Rafe had power over her. It was just silly that she didn’t. No reason for it. *Spoiler over* -Note: if you want to read the spoiler, just highlight the section of text.

“I am Damian, the king of Antion, and no one will ever take someone I love from me again and live.”

I hate not giving more positive things about this book, but it just wasn’t there for me. Honestly, after reading the last book, I would not recommend this series. On the other hand, lots of people didn’t seem to have the same problems as me reading it. There’s some great reviews out there of it. So if you’re a fan of YA fantasy, this may just be the series for you.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

Book Beginnings: April 14, 2017

It’s been another week and here we are back to Book Beginnings Friday. It’s be a busy week of work and chores. Not as much reading because of that, but still chugging along. Here’s my book beginning for the week. Feel free to leave a comment and say hi or link up to your blog and I’ll pay a visit.

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. Every Friday share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.


“They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod ‘The Death Shop’. A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.”

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And the book is:

Under the Never Sky

by Veronica Rossi

Description:

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland–known as The Death Shop–are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild–a savage–and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile–everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.


My Thoughts:

This is an oldie, but in my opinion, a goodie. I really like these first lines. They are intriguing and drew me forward. I really enjoyed this series. I’d recommend it to YA dystopian lovers out there that haven’t read it yet.

What do you think of this book beginning? Have you read this book before? What did you think?

Review: Descendants

Descendants

Book #1 of the Arete Series

by Rae Else

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley – This in no way affects my review. I still provide an honest opinion

Description:

There are lots of stories about the children of gods. But what about those cursed by the gods, and their descendants…

El, a seventeen-year-old has inherited an ancient and deadly power. She loses control of it, causing a horrific accident, and becomes the prey of a secret organisation, known as the Order.

Forced from her family and home, she hides in plain sight amidst the crowds of London, and is thrust into a world she never knew existed; one full of arete: beings with extraordinary powers like hers.

Arete are beings that can trace their lineage and powers from ancient Greece. They do not claim their inheritance comes from the gods, rather legend says they are descended from cursed beings, such as Medusa.

At the heart of their world is the kerykeion, the symbol that protects them from the humans and the humans from them. El is trapped between two factions, one that has built an empire around the kerykeion and another that is determined to bring it down.

As she is drawn deeper into the conflict, the only way to find the truth is to take matters into her own hands, and the line between friend and foe becomes dangerously blurred.

Review:

This one I picked out because I really liked the sound of being Medusa’s descendant. I thought it could have some really cool tricks up its sleeve. Unfortunately, for me it just didn’t work out quite as well as I hoped.

Things I liked:

  • I enjoyed the world building. In parts, it could have been described better, but you could tell the author had a deep and thorough world built.
  • I liked El’s grandma, though I wish we would have got to know her better.
  • The idea of having powers of control over people is the basis for a really cool thought. Just wish it had been explored more.

Things I didn’t like:

  • The start is rather abrupt. It would have benefited from some introduction to the world. And as the story progressed, the more I wanted that little bit of introduction at the beginning to tie things together. There were parts of the story that she looked back on that if we would have seen in the first place, would have really made it a lot cooler.
  • When El is introduced to the world, she doesn’t ask any questions. We go through two long drives without her saying anything. Sometimes she thinks a question, but she doesn’t say it aloud.
  • I wish El was stronger. I’m good with tears, but she had a lot of tears. I wanted to see her become a kick butt character. To have her grow through the story, but there wasn’t much of that. Just a lot of crying when things went bad.
  • I didn’t like the good guys or the bad guys. No one in this story was someone I would want to side with. I like that they weren’t perfect, but it’s like they didn’t care that they weren’t perfect. They didn’t want to try and be better. One scene in particular with the “good” guys had me wondering what was wrong with them
  • The characters didn’t have much depth. There were a few twists and turns, but without real depth, it was hard to care about them.
  • The romance was almost non exsitant. What was there was an almost love triangle. I don’t know it was hard to tell because there wasn’t a lot of details which brings me to…
  • The whole book was lacking in details. We jumped from one thing to the next that there was hardly time to feel anything.

Overall, this book just need more time in the cooker I think. I doubt I will read more in the series, but I would be willing to give the author another chance once she’s gotten more books under her belt. I think she has a lot of potential with her world building and basic story idea. I would recommend this book for someone who like YA urban fantasy, and who wants a quick read without all the details explained.

Review: Ignite

Ignite

Defy #2

by Sara B. Larson

Spoiler Warning if you haven’t read the first book! You can check out my review of the first book here.

Description:

Murder, abductions, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson’s acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy—before it’s too late?

Review:

I enjoyed this book even more than the first! It was really good, only I was bad and saw part of the description for book #3, Endure, before I read this one. Just that little bit I saw revealed one of the plot points. Oh well. It was still an entertaining read!

What I liked:

  • The romance! Loved it. Definitely my favorite part of the book. For anyone worried about the love triangle, it’s still there in this book, but even less prominent. And honestly, with where she took the book, I think it had it’s place.
  • The pacing was great. It kept me on my toes. I read it in one day, only stopping to eat dinner and take care of my kiddos.
  • It was action packed, in a really good way. Lots going on, fight scenes galore. It’s all very kick butt of Alexa.
  • I liked all the setup for the next book. Something big is coming (or better be!), and the author wasn’t afraid to let us know it.
  • I connected with Alexa. I enjoy her as a character, except for the one time noted below when she made a choice that I thought she shouldn’t have made.
  • I also enjoyed the internal conflict that Alexa had with her feelings for her king. It was never overdone. Just emotions that were very real to deal with and well handled.

What I didn’t like:

  • Vera. Had her figured out almost from the start. I wish she would have been a little harder to read.
  • One choice Alexa made about the middle of the book had me going, “No! Don’t do it!!!” But of course she did anyway. I suppose the whole plot would to have been changed had she done what I wanted her to, but it still left me wanting her to make another choice.
  • At one point, there’s a person whose eyes she’s not supposed to be looking into, but then she describes the eyes. I think that was a mistake because to see them she has to be looking in them, right?
  • There was one point at the end (that I can’t talk about much without spoiling it–drat) that left me a little confused. I had to go back and reread a section, and I’m still confused, sorta. I think I have it figured out, but I thought it needed to be clearer. Maybe it says in the next book and that’s where the clarification will come, but I wanted it in this book.

While Defy can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend anyone that enjoyed it to read the sequel. It was romantic, engaging, and fantastic!

Stars: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Apple

Source: Borrowed the Hardback from the library. Love the library!

Mailbox Monday: April 10, 2017

Welcome to Mailbox Monday created over at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page which has found a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog, check out the links, and link back to your post.


This past week was spring break for the schools around here. That means I didn’t have as much time for my usual reading because I was spending it with my kids. I’m totally good with that. They’re a fun little bunch to spend time with. Plus, some of that time together we were reading aloud, and we also spent a lot of time at the library since they had lots of fun activities. Gotta love the library. But, without further ado, here’s what books I got last week.

Books I acquired:

Bought:

This one has been on my list for a while now, so when I saw it had gone on sale, I had to pick it up. I must say, I’m a total sucker for princess stories which is exactly what this is. Even better, she hunts down criminals at night and is now going to help stop a war. Definitely sounds like my type of book. Can’t wait to read it!

Ever since I finished God of the Sun I have wanted to read this. I’m excited it’s out now so I can dive in. It might just be my next read.

 

What books have you gotten over the last week?

Leave a comment or link up, and I’ll check them out.

Review: Defy

Defy

Defy #1

by Sara B. Larson

Description:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

Review:

This is going to be a shorter review because it’s been a while since I’ve read this book. I wanted to review it though in preparation for reading and reviewing the rest of the series.

It took me a while to pick this book up because whenever I tried I was like, oh, just another girl dressing up as boy to fit in fantasy story. And, yes, it is that, but it’s more than that too.

What I liked:

  • I enjoyed the journey that the character when on. I was able to relate to Alexa, maybe not as dressing up as a boy, but with her feelings.
  • The romance was awesome. Yes, there was a love triangle, no it wasn’t a big deal, at least not to me. I thought it was well handled. But if you don’t like them at all, you probably want to avoid this book. Also, if you don’t like overly romantic books, you might want to skip this one, but for me I liked how it wove into the story.
  • It can be read as a standalone. I loved that, though I found myself enjoying the characters so much that I wanted to read the entire series. Bonus: it’s all out already!
  • Alexa is a tough chick. I love that about her. She strong and gets stronger throughout the book.
  • I enjoyed the lush jungle setting
  • The cover is pretty. I like that’s it’s not a girl on the front cover, that we get a hint of danger through the dagger, but not overwhelmed by clutter.

What I didn’t like:

  • The breeding/rape houses. This could also be put in the “What I liked” only for the fact that it does a good job showing how cruel the current king is. I didn’t like the ick factor though I suppose that’s what the book was going for and accomplished. A warning for those who don’t want to read that it’s here.
  • It needed a map. The whole series would have been better with it.
  • It seems like there was something else I didn’t like about it too, but it’s been so long, that the things I did like overwhelmed the things I didn’t, lol.

And this review, while not long, was longer than I expected after being a while since I read the book. My memory isn’t as bad as I though, haha. Overall, this was a good book. I would recommend it for anyone who likes YA Fantasy Romances and doesn’t mind that there’s a love triangle in it.