The Girl the Sea Gave Back Review

*WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*

*Thank you so much to the publisher for provided me with a free advance copy in exchange for my honest review.*

I’ll be honest, I was a little disappointed with this book, because I went into it with fairly high expectations. Sky in the Deep wasn’t a super complex novel, but it was a compelling story with characters I bonded with. This one felt almost like the sort of early draft I would write for a book: the main plot points or bare bones were there, but it was missing the meat of the story where more character development happens. If it weren’t for Sky in the Deep, I’m not sure I would have connected at all to the characters or world. As it was, I mostly connected with Halvard…because of Sky in the Deep.

The characters weren’t bad, the writing style was all right (there was a point I felt a little confused during a battle scene, but those rough patches were, I believe, the uncorrected parts of the ARC I was reading and nothing more), and I still enjoyed the world building and how Young continues to develop the world of Sky in the Deep. But I wanted MORE. More character development, more chances to see the relationships develop between characters (especially the romantic relationship), and more suspense. The plot didn’t grip me like I wanted it to because there just wasn’t that much suspense. I don’t mind being able to predict some things in books (which characters will end up together, etc.) but I need some unpredictability to keep me really invested. Additionally, the romance was…barely-there. Which is OK, except that I didn’t really see the point in having one at all. The hint of romance that did happen had the “fated to be” trope of two people feeling a mysterious connection even though they barely know one another. If there is going to be a romance in a book, I like to see it develop a little and give me a few chances to swoon. I want a couple I can root for!

I also wanted to see Tova developed more. I liked her character, but again, I just didn’t feel like I knew her as well as I should have. And I certainly didn’t feel like I had enough for that abrupt ending when she was finally reunited with her people. It was the mystery of her origins and what had happened to her early on that compelled me to keep reading the book, more than anything else.

All of that said, Young still has a way with words. There were still moments I could see the heart of the story. I just needed MORE. It could have taken this story from “All right, but I may never read it again” to “I MUST have a copy to reread someday!” It mostly just made me want to reread Sky in Deep

Four Dead Queens Review

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 *SPOILER ALERT*

SYNOPSIS

Four dead queens. Three days to catch a killer. Two forbidden romances.
One shocking twist you won’t see coming.

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

~~~

First off, I enjoyed the mystery and atmosphere of this book. From the layered culture that felt like a fun blend of fantasy and sci-fi–kings and queens and carriages mixed alongside holograms and futuristic suits formed from microorganisms that regulate your body temperature, help you heal, etc.–to the murder mystery added into the mix, I was immediately drawn into the concept. After all, fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery are all genres I love to read!

The plot kept me guessing, too. For someone who grew up on Agatha Christie and her ability to ceaselessly shock readers with her books, the ending definitely surprised me. I kept suspecting the inspector, to be honest. At first, I was a little disappointed when Arebella came into the picture…it felt, too obvious. Of course it is Marguerite’s missing daughter! However, I thought the sci-fi-tech twist of Mackiel using Keralie to commit the murders was pretty clever. The clues were all there, and even I failed to see them.

There were, however, a few places where the plot was fuzzy or boring for me. In the beginning, many of the queens’ narratives were slow-paced, because they told rather than showed a lot. There were a few info dumps to explain Quadara’s history, and those dragged for me. A few times I was tempted even to skip the queens’ POV chapters (I didn’t). Then more queens began to die and I was dragged in, wanting to know what was happening and half-hoping one of them would manage to survive.

Another aspect that bothered me was the way time was handled at the end of the story. I found myself a little confused about the passage of time when Keralie and Varin were in the palace–four days passed? It felt like less time. What did they eat? How often did they sleep? It felt a little garbled to me. I understand, now that I’ve read the ending and know what was happening to Keralie, that that was at least partially intentional on the author’s part, but these issues pulled me out of the story a little. It was hard to focus on the action when I was wondering, Where the heck have they gotten food while they’ve been hiding in the palace for four days?

One final thing that really nagged at me was the moment when they overheard the inspector, and he later revealed he’d known they were there. I thought it was weird that he knew but didn’t try to capture and question them sooner. He admitted he thought they were suspicious, but did nothing about it while queens were continuing to die? It was because of things like this that I spent so much time suspecting this guy!

In the end, I found myself desperately wanting Keralie to succeed in her mission to save the queens. It was a bit of a relief to see at least one of them survive, because after it all I felt a little bit more connected to the queens and wanted them to survive. I liked that twist as well, since it gave Marguerite the opportunity to confront her daughter. The plot twists shocked me. I enjoyed watching Keralie’s character develop, and I thought she and Varin were cute together, adding in just enough romance to give us some swoon-worthy moments. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, with a unique genre mash-up that I would like to see more of in books, and I’m interested to see what Astrid Scholte writes next.

Silver Dagger Blog Tour!

silent kigdom banner

Silver Dagger Book Tours is hosting a blog tour of both Silent Kingdom and Forsaken Kingdom! Maia is kicking off the tour today on her page, with excerpts from both books (if you haven’t read Silent Kingdom yet and don’t want SPOILERS for book two, skip the excerpt for Forsaken Kingdom for now!) Also included is a guest post from me.

You can follow the tour for guest posts, book reviews, a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway, and more!

Blog Tour Schedule:

July 5

Silver Dagger Book Tours

The Sexy Nerd ‘Revue’ 

July 6 

Character Madness and Musings – GUEST POST 

My Devotional Thoughts 

Book-Lover 

 

July 7

nanasbookreviews 

Readeropolis – GUEST POST 

Scrupulous Dreams

 

July 8

Ilovebooksandstuffblog 

Shannon Muir, Author – Infinite House of Books – GUEST POST 

What Is That Book About – GUEST POST 

 

July 9

Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews 

3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! 

Reign of Fantasy

 

July 10

Diane’s Book Blog  – GUEST POST 

The Magic Of Wor(l)ds – GUEST POST 

The Bookshelf Fairy

 

July 11

Viviana MacKade – GUEST POST 

YA/NA Book Divas 

Twisted Book Ramblings

 

July 12

Java John Z’s 

Literary Gold 

 

July 13

Always Love Me Some Books Blog – GUEST POST 

Reviews and Promos by Nyx– GUEST POST 

 

July 14

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers 

2 chicks and a book 

 

July 15

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author 

A Pinch of Bookdust

The Book Dragon

 

July 16

Bedazzled By Books 

Book Corner News and Reviews 

Triquetra Reviews 

 

July 17

Books a Plenty Book Reviews 

Books, Authors, Blogs 

Word Processor, Romance, Cats, Kids and Creed

 

July 18

Tome Tender 

Books all things paranormal and romance 

 

July 19

Chapters through life 

books are love

 

July 20

Craving Lovely Books 

Drako’s Den 

 

July 21

Breanna Hayse Romance 

Dragon’s Den 

 

July 22

TMBA Corbett Tries to Write – GUEST POST 

Bookworm for Kids 

Yearwood La Novela 

 

July 23

Educated Book Freak 

Inside the Insanity – GUEST POST 

 

July 24

Jazzy Book Reviews – GUEST POST 

Girl with Pen 

 

July 25

4covert2overt ☼ A Place In The Spotlight ☼ 

Luv Saving Money 

 

July 26

eBook Addicts 

Maiden of the Pages– GUEST POST 

 

July 27

❧Defining Ways❧ 

Midnight Book Reader

 

July 28

Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read 

Paranormal Palace of Pleasures 

 

July 29

ⒾⓃⓉⓇⓄⓈⓅⒺⒸⓉⒾⓋⒺ ⓅⓇⒺⓈⓈ– GUEST POST 

Paranormal Romance Trance 

 

July 30

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews 

 

July 31

Better Read Than Undead 

raeblake.com 

 

Aug 1

Stacking My Book Shelves! 

Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’ 

 

Aug 2

Speculative Fiction Spot 

Sylv.net 

 

Aug 3

Anna del C. Dye official page 

T’s Stuff 

 

Aug 4

DEEKAY | Daily Dose of Reading –  GUEST POST,  REVIEW BOTH 

Teatime and Books  

 

Aug 5

Port Jericho – REVIEW BOTH

Lisa Book Blog 

 

 

Always Never Yours & If I’m Being Honest Review

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Because I read these books back-to-back, I’m doing back-to-back reviews of them. As always, beware of SPOILERS if you haven’t read these books.

Always Never Yours Review:

I loved this book! It was exactly the cute, fluffy read I was looking for. With a delightfully bold and witty heroine and an adorable and intelligent love interest, the banter was great, the romance was swoon-worthy, and the Shakespearean references made my nerdy heart happy. Plus, seeing the twist that the authors put onto a classic Shakespeare play and letting us see it from a different perspective was fun and refreshing.

I also appreciated the way family was portrayed in this book. Though Megan doesn’t have perfect relationships with all her family members, she loves them. It was a beautiful depiction of brokenness in family being mended back together in a new way…despite the fact that hurt will always linger, it shows readers that healing and happiness can be found again. Even when your family falls apart. Considering how many teens have to deal with divorce and step-parents, I found this to be a compassionate, heart-felt depiction of that struggle.

Yes, some of this book’s plot was predictable, but aren’t plots always a bit predictable in a rom-com? I think that is half the appeal. 🙂 I loved seeing this happy ending come together and our heroine grow into herself and become even more confident. She finds that she doesn’t always have to hang back and subject herself to behind-the-scenes roles, or sell herself short. When Megan realizes she’s been letting people walk on her–even her best friend–she doesn’t fall apart. She doesn’t accept poor treatment. She learns to value herself and believe in herself, whether it’s in daily life or on the stage.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, light-hearted teen romance. 

If I’m Being Honest Review:

This book still included the fun Shakespeare references, a twist on one of his classic plays, a strong heroine, and cute romance, but, in my opinion, it also dealt with some heavier topics. Cameron is, at first glance, a classic mean girl. It was almost hard to read the book in the beginning, with how manipulative and mean she was at times.

However, this book handled Cameron’s “transformation” in a great way. I loved the message that someone can maturely face their mistakes, apologize for them, strive to be kinder, and yet still remain true to who they are deep down.

The dysfunctional family was again addressed in this book, but this time with a mother that seems to be fighting bipolar disorder and a nasty, verbally abusive and distant father. Cameron has had to be the adult for too long in her house as her mother struggles and dips into bouts of depression and pines for a cruel man.

Seeing how Cameron grows, how she learns to accept that maybe her father isn’t worth it, and how she develops new friendships and comes to terms with losing some old ones–all of this was almost more interesting to me than the romance! Not that I didn’t love Cameron and Brendan’s banter.

After these two adorable books with heroines you love to root for, I can’t wait to see what these two authors come up with next. I’m sure Time of Our Lives will be as wonderful…I just wish we didn’t have to wait until next spring for it!

Call It What You Want Review

4.5 Stars

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher. This is my honest review.*

**I tried to keep this review SPOILER-FREE**

This is only my second Brigid Kemmerer book, and I think it has solidly placed her among my favorite authors.

I loved the way she dealt with grey areas and controversial topics with grace and compassion. This story covered a variety of characters in a variety of situations and struggles. None of the main characters were fully innocent, but they were all relatable and all people you wanted to root for.

Characters like Rob and Maegan are held accountable for their mistakes, but they also have second chances to make things right. All of the topics Kemmerer covered, she handled well by showing that there are always two sides to every story. She didn’t skim over difficult topics or problems real teens might have to wrestle with. Instead, she faced them head-on. It was refreshing to see her characters address them with honesty and always work to pursue what was right.

We see consequences for bad choices and we see realistic struggles even for good choices made. I will say that I saw one of the big plot twists coming, but it didn’t really seem to take away from the book overall, so I only took off a half star. (Because personally, I like to be surprised.)

I look forward to reading more of Kemmerer’s work!

The Big 2-9!

It’s the first day of summer! And it’s my birthday! 🎊🎂☀️⁣

To be honest, I’ve kind of dreaded turning 29 for most of this year. Maybe some of last year. If I’m being honest. 😉 (One of the books in this photo seems to be telling me I should be.) ⁣

I expected to be somewhere more “settled” by now. After all, aren’t your twenties the years you’re expected to be figuring life out and progressing to the stages of marriage, successful career, home ownership, and parenthood? I have accomplished one of those things, and I’m pushing toward my thirties. ⁣

Oops.⁣

But then I stopped to think about everything that I actually have accomplished. I may be struggling to figure out my career, to settle into a new state, and to chase my dreams, but I’m doing it. My husband and I moved across the country to start over and pursue a better life for ourselves. A better chance at some of those other things on that above list. ⁣

I’ve survived trauma and loss, picking out my parents’ coffins at an age when most of my peers were picking out their wedding colors. It was awful, but I 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥. I helped my baby brother graduate homeschooled high school when Mom and Dad were no longer there to teach and encourage him. (He worked so hard and I am incredibly proud of the courageous young man he is!) I ran a marathon before I turned 26. (My boss best friend was beside me the whole way.) I recovered from the anxiety induced by a car accident that broke my leg, and continued to drive. (Who knew driving could be an act of bravery?) I’ve published 2 novels and a children’s book, and I’m working on my third novel. ⁣

This is not meant to be me bragging…I just want to remind myself (and others) that sometimes success isn’t the cookie cutter look we make it out to be. (Seriously. Make a list of the amazing things YOU have accomplished, if you are feeling a little “behind” like me. Also note that none of those things I accomplished were done on my own. TEAM EFFORT, always.) For me, I have spent my 20s loving even when it hurt, pursuing hope even when I didn’t think I wanted to be alive anymore, and fighting for my family. Now I’m entering a period where I get to fight for my dreams.⁣

I am privileged to have experienced so much wonderful love in my life. I am privileged to have the chance to start over, even at age 29. I am privileged to be able to read and write books, to enjoy the bookstagram community, to be breathing today. To know my Mom and Dad loved and still love me more than I can comprehend, and instilled the strength I need to survive whatever life throws at me. To have a God who carved stories in my heart and gifted me with passion and hope and joy. To have a husband who holds me when I grieve and rejoice. To have a close-knit family who united to overcome pain together, and to have friends who are as dear as family and who have walked with me through my best and worst days. ⁣

Yes, 29 may feel like an age when I should have a beautiful house or a thriving career. But I think what I have is much bigger than a pretty home or a fancy job. 💕 ⁣What are some amazing things you have accomplished that might fall outside the “expected” milestones for your age? And which amazing people were there for you along the way?