Monday, April 16, 2018

The Smallest Part - Review

The Smallest Part

By: Amy Harmon

Published: February 13, 2018

325 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Source: Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Summary:
“In the end, only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” 
- Unknown 

It was a big lie. The biggest lie she’d ever told. It reverberated through her head as she said it, ringing eerily, and the girl behind her eyes—the girl who knew the truth—screamed, and her scream echoed along with the lie. 

“Are you in love with Noah, Mercedes?” Cora asked. “I mean . . . I know you love him. You’ve been friends forever. We all have. But are you in love with him?” 
If it had been anyone else—anyone—Mercedes would have stuck out her chest, folded her skinny arms, and let her feelings be known. She would have claimed him. But it was Cora. Brave, beautiful, broken Cora, and Cora loved Noah too. 

So Mercedes lied. 
And with that lie, she lost him. With that lie, she sealed her fate.
She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down. 

This is the tale of the girl who didn’t get the guy.
MY REVIEW:
Let me start by saying that I've really enjoyed the previous Harmon books that I've read. So I had good expectations for this story. I wouldn't say I had high expectations, but definitely vibes that I would enjoy it as much as the others I've read. Well....although I enjoyed parts of the storyline, this is not among my favorites by her.

I loved the storyline of the childhood friends. Mercedes and Noah lived in the same apartment complex and from ayoung age they had been friends. Two peas in a pod. One day a new girl moves in, Cora. Being the lonely new kid, Mercedes announced that they would become her friend. They did, and from then on the three amigos were best friends through every stage of their young lives and through high school. Through traumatizing events no child should have to go through, they were always each others best and closest friends. At some point, Noah felt more for Mercedes and before leaving for boot camp he tested the waters of showing her how much more he felt for her, but he didn't think his feelings were reciprocated. And then Cora began showing a greater interest and eventually Noah felt more for her too. With Mercedes hiding her true feelings and giving in to Cora's feelings again, as she had done their whole life, she allowed a relationship to form and deepen, knowing all along she could have had the guy. But she chose to give the guy to her best friend.

Harmon's books have all included something about God and the Bible. As a Christian, I appreciate and look forward to seeing how she weaves this into her stories. She's not at all a Christian fiction writer, but I enjoy this part of truth in her stories. In this one, one of the main characters is Noah, and it's made mention of Noah and the ark and the flood.

"You know. He had a big ark and put the animals on it because the world was going to be flooded. The guy who's responsible for rainbows."

Everyone knew about Noah's ark, didn't they? She'd been raised on Noah's ark and Daniel in the lion's den and Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. She knew all the Bible stories.

If you haven't read The Law of Moses yet (which by the way was a 4.5 star read for me!) then I would recommend reading that first because there's a cross over from that story that you'll miss the uniqueness of if you haven't yet read it.

Okay, so now to what I didn't care for:

The story goes back and forth between events in the past and those chapters are marked by years: 1985 through 2004. It's flashbacks of their childhood, which do help to better understand the dynamic between the three of them as well important events which shaped who they become as adults. Then there's current events. But there's a lot of bouncing back and forth. So much so that I was having to highlight each year so I didn't miss where in time we were.

Cora, ooh man, I despised her character! I viewed her as selfish and self-centered. Even as children she was constantly trying to one-up Mercedes, to have what she had, to do what she did, and to take what Mercedes wanted. Her character was quite despicable!

The ending wrapped up too neatly and too quickly. I'm all for happily-ever-after's but something just felt a little too neat and I felt some things weren't fully fleshed out.

There were some twists I wasn't expecting. I always appreciate that in a story. It's not at all that I didn't enjoy it, because I did. It just won't fall in my list of favorites by Harmon.

Top 5 (plus a bonus!) Favorite Quotes:
...he realized joy was possible amid terrible pain.

"In the end, only three things matter," Abuela said. "Who He is." She pointed at the sky. "Who you are, and who your friends are."

"Our friends shape the course of our lives. You have to choose them very carefully. But if you know who He is, then He will help you know who you are. And if you know who you are, you will know who your true friends are. One thing leads to another, you see."

...just because something is meant to be, doesn't mean it's meant to be right now.

"Words are like souls. Soundless, even shapeless. But full of substance. You are getting all substance and none of the distraction in a letter."

"I need you to love me enough to tell me the truth, even when it's ugly."

Language: 1.5 (light - medium)
Mature Content: 1.5 (light - medium)
Final Rating: 3.5  stars

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge: March Wrap Up

Time for our third 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 February Wrap Up, neither Sandy nor Holly 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 March giveaway runs from March 25th - April 25th. On April 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.



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)

Summary:
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.
MY REVIEW:

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 random.org 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)

Summary:
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.
MY REVIEW:
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)

Summary:
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.
MY REVIEW:
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 random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.



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