Monday, March 19, 2018

A Torch Against the Night - Review

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2; Ember Quartet #2)

By: Sabaa Tahir

Published: August 30, 2016 by Razorbill

456 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

This is the updated book cover. When I first purchased the kindle version of this story, the new covers hadn't yet been made. I like them a lot better. I love when book covers, especially fantasy book covers, tell a story all on their own with characters who are easily recognizable.

It appears that I read and reviewed An Ember in the Ashes in June of 2015. That was a long time ago! You would think that after nearly 3 years, this series would have fallen off my radar, but not so! I purchased book two at least a year ago, if not more, and had every intention of reading it quickly. But as time goes on and reading genre preferences change, I found myself looking at this one and passing it over for something else. So here I was, the beginning of 2018, and the story of Laia and Elias was continually on my mind, so I knew it was time to pick up book two. Sometimes you have to go with your gut on these kinds of things. Otherwise, if you're like me, and you pick up another book in a series just for the sake of continuing on with it, but you really aren't in the mood for it? It can be disastrous for both your overall enjoyment of the story and thus your review.

I'm sure some details were fuzzy for me going in to book two, simply because so much time has passed since I read book one. However, the characters and their situation was still fresh on my mind still. A Torch Against the Night picks up right where I remembered An Ember in the Ashes ending. Laia escaping the city with Elias as her guide to rescue her brother.

"He is Elias Veturius, heir to one of the Empire's finest families. He is a former Mask - an elite soldier of the Martial Empire. And he is my ally - the only person who can help me save my brother, Darin, from a notorius Martial prison." 

I'm going to be extremely vague and non-descriptive about the details of this story. When it comes to most fantasy stories, to give more away in the later books in the series, is to give away a great deal of the plot. Suffice it to say that they can't escape as easily as they would like. They have an entire army set on finding and stopping them, all because the new emperor has given an order to his new Blood Shrike to kill Elias. The problem with that, is that they used to be close friends.

There is a bit of a love triangle in this story that bugged the stew out of me! It felt all wrong to me and it felt forced. There's a quote that comes out of nowhere about this "unspoken love" and I remember thinking to myself "I guess I missed this emotional buildup between them". It was a head scratcher for me! And when the revelation comes surronding it, it made more sense why I was never on board with this triangle.

I can't say I'm stoked about the ending of this one. There's a bit of a cliffhanger, but not a jaw dropping one. Knowing there's more to come, and that most likely means more twists and surprises, I'm hopeful enough to see some things I'd like to happen. I've got fingers crossed for it anyway!

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
"Family is worth dying for, killing for. Fighting for them is all that keeps us going when everything else is gone."

"As long as there is life there is hope."

"You are my temple," I murmur as I kneel beside her. "You are my priest. You are my prayer. You are my release."

Laia and Elias are each other's countermelodies.

"Failure doesn't define you. It's what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air."

Language: 1 (light)
Mature Content: 1 (light)
Final Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, March 11, 2018

2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge: February Wrap Up

Time for our second Monthly Wrap Up for the 2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Since the January Wrap Up, Sandy finished The Last Star (The 5th Wave, # 3) by Rick Yancey. Holly hasn't finished any.

Which series enders did you finish? Link up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the February giveaway runs from February 25th - March 25th. On March 25th we will use and the linky entries to pull a winner.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Different Blue - Review

A Different Blue

By: Amy Harmon

Published: March 29, 2016 by CreateSpace

322 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: Freebie, Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Blue Echohawk doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn't attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing. 

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don't know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can't love you back might be impossible.
I've enjoyed several of Amy Harmon's books so when I came across this one as a FREEBIE?!, it was a no-brainer! I loved it! From the Native American story background, to the British teacher who takes a healthy and innocent interest in Blue, to the struggles and growth of Blue's character, to the friendship, romance, emotion and sadness. I loved it all!

The story begins with Blue Echohawk, a 19 year old senior in high school, older than the usual age of seniors, who has created quite the unhealthy reputation for herself. She is tough, rough around the edges, no non-sense, but yet vulnerable and guarded and lonely. So she tries to fill the emptiness with the wrong kind of attention. It's not love really, but it's some kind of connection she is desperately searching for. Her young, history teacher begins to slowly chip away at her bricked up heart by using the events in history to teach these young adults how to write their own history. And wow the idea that history can be taught in such a way as is written here! I was enamoured by it!

I loved the spiritual aspects in this book. While Amy Harmon's books are not necessarily spiritual in nature, meaning they aren't Christian Fiction by any means, she usually weaves Biblical topics into her stories (at least the ones I've read so far). In this one, Blue finds herself praying to God at the lowest of low in her life seeking redemption. It's there in this moment when she empties herself of herself and asks to be made new, for God to "take away the ugliness" that she begins to feel the release from the mistakes and bad decisions she's made. An honest heart truly seeking repentance and finding salvation along the way. As a Christian myself, it was quite the beautiful picture.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers beware! This is your fair warning that there's some gut wrenching scenes that are emotional enough on their own but if your hormones are heightened right now, you'll likely need a lot more tissues close by. As it was, I just seriously teared up several times.

This was a very enjoyable story! My only "wish" was for a little more to the ending, a glimpse further into the future perhaps. As a standalone we won't really get that unless there's another story so I guess here's to hoping for more!

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
Ya'll - I had SOOO many favorite quotes but sadly, I ran a sync on my Kindle app and when it finished all of my highlights, bookmarks and notes for ONLY this book were gone. The app acted like I hadn't even read the book. I was so disgusted and disappointed. After a battle with Amazon's support chat, who was of no help, they ended up only suggesting it was an "isolated technical issue" and gave me a $5 credit. What even?! But let me just say that this story was full of wonderful lines and thoughts that I had wanted to share and I was truly sad when it was all deleted.

Language: 2 (medium)
Mature Content: 1.5 (light-medium)
Final Rating: 4.5 stars

Monday, February 5, 2018

Tower of Dawn - Review

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)

By: Sarah J. Maas

Published: September 5, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Children's

668 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy,

Source: Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica-the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both-and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
After a dud of an end of 2017 year reading wise, I decided to start out 2018 with two of my favorite authors, the second of which was Maas. This was the longest book I've picked up in a long while. Any book over 400 pages can seem like a big task for me these days, but Maas has never disappointed me by her stories.

I have continued to be blown away by the complexity of the Throne of Glass series. There are always twists and turns, new characters, new love stories woven into the character's lives. One thing stays the same, the evil they face and are journeying to learn how to destroy.

In this installment of the series, the book follows Chaol, who was Captain of the Gaurd of Adarlan, and then became Hand of the King. He has been left wounded beyond what the healers he knows can do and as such has been sent to the land of Antica to where the great healers live that have been known to heal injuries such as his. While there, he and Nesryn, the new Captain of the Gaurd, have been given another task. To try to gain the trust of the King and gain a new ally in the war and to bring back aid in the fight.

This book didn't quite hit all my emotional feels that the other books in the series have touched, but it was so, so very good! This 600+ page book flew by as I was engrossed in the story and what lay ahead for Chaol, Nesryn and the new people they meet along the way, of which I'm a huge fan of two in particular but will leave their names out for a spoiler free review. Fans of this series that have yet to read book 6, don't be anxious to get in to this one. It gives more to the story that we've all come to love and deepens the connection that we have to these characters.

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
"Love cannot exist without trust."

"Nothing valuable comes without a cost, boy," Houlun countered.

I was like waking up or being born or falling out of the sky. It was an answer and a song, and she could not think or feel fast enough.

"Mountains. And seas," she whispered. "So you never forget that you climbed them and crossed them. That you - only you - got yourself here."

"I loved you before I ever set eyes on you,"

Language: 2 (medim)
Mature Content: 2 (medium)
Final Rating: 4 stars

Friday, January 26, 2018

2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge: January Wrap Up

Time for our first Monthly Wrap Up for the 2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Since starting the 2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge, neither Holly nor Sandy have finished any series enders.

Which series enders did you finish? Link up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the January giveaway runs from January 25th - February 25th. On February 25th we will use and the linky entries to pull a winner.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Without Merit - Review

Without Merit

By: Colleen Hoover

Published: October 3, 2017 by Atria Books

384 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.
Knowing this book was going to be somewhat lighter than her usual books, less intense and graphic, and more suitable for young adults, as the genre that it's in, I was prepared for all of that. What I wasn't prepared for was how touching it still would be to me.

Really what this story narrows down to is a family who is at odds with one another because of secrets eating away at their family unit, and very poor communication among all of them. Jealousy eating away, and people not trying to look at situations from other's perspectives. At the center of this story is 17 year old Merit, a senior in high school. She's a twin to sister Honor and they have a brother named Utah who is 18. There's Dad and Mom, though Mom currently lives in their basement and never goes outside, and Dad is remarried to a woman by the same name of his first wife, and they together have a son named Moby. But that's not all, add in the mix a 19 year old step-uncle who shows up out of nowhere and now lives with them and a guy by the name of Sagan. There's a lot of crazy that occurs and most of it is bad. But I FELT for these people and the struggles they each had. Then again, this is CoHo, right? For those of you who are her fans, knows that it doesn't really much matter what she writes about. She has this gift to connect you to her characters.

There is one small frustration I had. I honestly can't remember anything frustrating me terribly with her books and I definitely can't remember ever including said frustration in a review. That's not to say I haven't....just that I can't recall a time. So here goes... One repeating theme I noticed in this story, that I haven't picked up on in any of her other books, is that characters thoughts were often being repeated. Sometimes in the exact same wording and sometimes worded slightly different, but always within a couple pages or less of each other. Each occurence of it had me like "yeah we KNOW that because you've already said/thought it" <insert eye roll>. For the first time I do believe EVER in my reading of CoHo books, it got me a bit irritated. I was left with this weird feeling because it was so out of left field for me!

Overall this book left me with a good feeling. I enjoyed seeing reconcillation take place and wounds begin to heal and light begin to shine where darkness had taken its toll.

The one main thought I had that I took away from this story was this: Hugs can truly change hearts.

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
"Don't make your presence known. Make your absence felt."

There's something freeing about refusing to stress over stressful situation.

A person can't help their attraction to another person, but a person can help their actions toward another person.

"You don't get to decide what your life means to anyone else."

"We aren't put on this earth to be carbon copies of our parents. Peace doesn't come to everyone in the same form."

Language: 2 (medium)
Mature Content: 2 (medium)
Final Rating: 4 stars

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sweetness - DNF Review

Sweetness (The Sweetest Thing #1)

By: Sierra Hill

Published: July 24, 2016 by Ten28 Publishing

244 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Source: Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

I’m the girl from the school of hard knocks. 

Nothing has ever come easy for me. So forgive me if I’m a bit reluctant about Kincaid Griffin – born-with-a-silver-spoon in his mouth, conceited college hoops player. A guy who could get any girl he wants, and yet, is suddenly everywhere I am trying to woo me. The more I protest, the more persistent he becomes. 

I’m a lucky guy. 

Let’s face it. As a college athlete, I don’t chase girls – they come to me. I’m as arrogant and cocky as they come, getting nearly everything I want, whenever I want. But there is nothing sweeter than a girl who plays hard to get. And Ainsley Locker is so full of confidence that she knocks me off my feet from the moment I meet her. She’s a challenge. And I like challenges. So I go full-court press to win her over. 

But when a stupid mistake turns viral, slam dunking all over my life in a media frenzy, my spot on the team may be in jeopardy, along with my shot at winning the girl. 
To be fair, I started reading this in August 2017 and due to life circumstances and my going back to work outside the home full time, reading took a serious back seat in my priorities. I would read here and there over the next 4 months but could never get really into the story to want to push faster to finish it. What I did read (80% to be exact) had moments of interest but it was mostly predictable, a tad cheesy, and had quite a few eye rolling moments.

I didn't have the time or energy to read at a faster pace and after 4 months felt it was necessary to "move on" and consider this one a DNF.

Favorite Quote:
Everyone - and everything - in this life is deserving of some form of human kindness.

Language Rating: 2 (medium)
Mature Content Rating: 2 (medium)
Final Rating:  DNF at 80%
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