Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: The Girl in the Picture

The Girl in the PictureAbout the Book:
Title: The Girl in the Picture
Author: Alexandra Monir
Pub. Date: Nov. 15, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House
Pages: 272 
Rating: 3/5 stars




Synopsis:

Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep.

The Girl in the Picture.

After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace's girlfriend.

Nicole is that girl and now she's the primary suspect in his murder.

But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him?

Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed.

Review:

This is a tough review to write because on one hand I really liked the story, but also it was a bit predictable and cliche which ended up taking away from the entire book. I loved the mystery part of the novel and I thought it was very well done. It kept me interested until the very end, and while the person behind the murder wasn't a big surprise to me (I did figure it out before the person was ultimately revealed), it still was a jaw dropper when everything comes to light. Alexandra Monir has always known how to weave a good mystery and this book is certainly no exception. I love her writing, and her novels are the perfect length. The story is fast-paced and extremely well written (especially since it's dual POV). If you're already a fan of Alexandra, then this book is for definitely for you! 

The story is told for 2 perspectives, Nicole, the shy girl who is a brilliant musician, and Lana, the queen-bee who's not so nice and gets everything she wants. I thought that Alexandra wrote the dual POV very well, and the stark contrast in their personalities really drove the story forward. When secrets come out, and Nicole becomes "The Girl in the Picture" everyone turns against her. However, it was nice to see that her mom played a major role in supporting Nicole. It's refreshing when the parent actually plays a role in the story, and helped her avoid making mistakes that could have irrevocably changed her life. Both characters are extremely well-developed, and I felt that we knew both girls very well by the end of the story. 

The one thing that I didn't like though was the love triangle. I didn't think it served a purpose at all and wasn't really needed. I thought it was going to play a much bigger role in the murder in the end, but it didn't. I would have been perfectly fine with how much focus was placed on the love triangle if it did actually end up being the answer to everything. Another thing that slightly bothered me was the ending. I thought it was a bit rushed and it was a bit too easy for the truth to be revealed. 

Overall, The Girl in the Picture was a solid story that had well-developed characters and an intriguing mystery that keeps the reader interested. There is a paranormal element (just like all of her books) which added a thrill to the story but it didn't distract from the plot in any way. While it wasn't everything I wanted, I would still recommend checking it out especially for fans of psychological thrillers and suspense novels.



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #95

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 
The Battlemage (The Summoner, #3)

The Battlemage (The Summoner #3) by Taran Matharu
Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Synopsis:

One boy's ability to summon demons will change the fate of an empire ... The epic conclusion to the fantasy trilogy described as 'Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings meets Pokemon'.

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

Epic battles, dramatic revelations and breathtaking drama await in the third and final book in the New York Times bestselling Summoner series.


Words can't even describe how excited I am for this finale in The Summoner series!! Taran Matharu has consistently delivered an epic story that has swept me away in an amazing adventure, and I know this one will be no different.  It's sad that this will be the end of the series, but I'm excited to see what happens to Fletcher and his friends!


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson 
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017 


Synopsis:

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.


I absolutely love fantasy and books about the paranormal. Since Evelayn has the ability to shape shift, it seems like this is an awesome cross between the two. I feel like I haven't read a good book that features shapeshifting in quite some time so I can't wait to dive into this!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: What Light

What LightAbout the Book:
Title: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Pub. Date: Oct. 18, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 251 
Rating: 4/5 stars




Synopsis:

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .
Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

Review:

I was actually really surprised by the low rating that this book has received on Goodreads when I first started reading it (and I still am), but I didn't let this sway me while I was reading. I also tried to go into this book with a clear mind, and not compare it to Jay Asher's brilliant work (Thirteen Reasons Why, which if you haven't checked out yet, I highly recommend that you do). So with those 2 things in mind, I ventured into reading his newest novel, and was extremely impressed. Did it blow me away, no, but this was a cute, quick story that was the perfect Christmas-time read. I read this literally 2 days before Christmas, and it had everything that I wanted at that time...Christmas trees, pretty lights, hot cocoa, ugly sweaters, candy canes...I could go on and on! Honestly, I could easily see this being a Hallmark Christmas movie (and I'm a sucker for those things). The story was incredibly heartwarming and just a feel-good, light romance, and exactly what I needed. 

Jay Asher delivered another book with characters that you easily begin to care about as soon as the story begins. Sierra was a caring, kind person that just wanted the best for everyone. She was down-to-earth, and a great MC to read about. Caleb made me swoon multiple several hundred times, and despite his secret (which wasn't as dark as the synopsis made it out to be), he more than made up for his "mistake." I honestly loved his character, and how selfless he was. Every girl deserves a Caleb in her life. But most importantly, I loved how mature they were in their relationship. When they got into an argument, they actually used their words and didn't just make those snap judgments that every other couple in books these days tends to do. It made their relationship more believable to me because it showed that 2 people can actually be adults and handle an argument maturely. Also, despite how quickly they "fell" for each other, their relationship seemed extremely natural and progressed at a normal pace. Again, this was refreshing to read since this isn't common in books anymore. Caleb and Sierra's relationship is very clean, and it focused more on them getting to know each other than trying to get in each other's pants. 

I will say that I flew through this book and easily read it in one sitting. In some ways it actually felt more like a novella rather than a full length novel. I'm not necessarily saying that I wanted more pages in the book, but the book just seemed incredibly short to me. Nothing particularly exciting or dramatic happened in the story, which in my opinion would have felt out of place if it did. And those are my only complaints (which really aren't complaints more just observations). 

Overall, Jay Asher's, What Light is a lighthearted, fun Christmas romance. Sure, you could easily write this one off as "just another holiday inspired story," but it truly is a great novel that takes you into a winter wonderland for a couple hours. It's not as gripping or thought-provoking as 13 Reasons Why, but I never expected it to be. So grab some hot chocolate, cookies, and this book, and read this book now! 



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Friday, April 14, 2017

Blitz: April Book Fair

April’s Freebie Fair! 46 FREE Books for a LIMITED TIME!
If you’re looking for free books and a way to connect with new and exciting authors, you’ve come to the right place! Visit this link and you’ll be able to select up to 50 FREE BOOKS! Definitely take advantage of this while you have the chance! We also have a Guest Post about one of my favorite genres...STEAMPUNK! I 100% agree with all of this, and steampunk is just so much fun to read!
GUEST POST

5 Elements of Steampunk & Why You Should Add it to Your TBR List

1. Beautiful World-Building 

 howls moving castle GIF


Steampunk is science fiction which takes place in the past. An alternate history where inventions, gadgets, and personal conveniences do not belong, and yet, are there. Often these inventions are powered by steam, hydraulics, clockwork, gyroscopic action, or pretty much anything but gasoline. The author has to create a beautiful Victorian setting where mechanical items exist that shouldn’t in Victorian history.

2. Strong Female Characters – 

HULU GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY


It was in the Victorian era that feminism grew by leaps and bounds and the suffrage movement gained major traction. Because of the strong influences of women in the time period in which steampunk has its roots, they tend to take centerstage in the interpretation of this genre. Who doesn’t like a woman who steals the show or takes charge?


3. Action and Adventure – 

                      

What would inventive fiction be without an inventive plotline? In Steampunk you will find a bit of drama, a bit of fantasy, a tad of mystery, but generally, you’ll find adventure that expands the horizons of your imagination… often viewed from an airship or mechanical animal.

4. Fun Fashion and Costumes – 

 stardust robert de niro charlie cox michelle pfeiffer neil gaiman GIF

Not many genres can boast an entire theme of Cosplay. People love to dress in steampunk fashions for Comic Cons, book conventions, Halloween, and parties. Even the high fashion world has runway shows dedicated to this style of dressing. Go to Etsy and search “steampunk” you’ll find all sorts of fun things to wear while you read.

5. It’s More Familiar Than You Think


The gifs in this post are all from movies or shows you may have watched: Wild Wild West with Will Smith, Stardust with Claire Danes, the animated film, Howl’s Moving Castle, and episodes of Dr. Who. If you’ve loved any of these shows, you’ve already gotten a taste of Steampunk. Don’t pass up the chance to read a book or watch a movie just because of the clever combination of past and present themes. Give it a try and you may find yourself a new fan of the genre!

By Pauline Creeden
http://paulinecreeden.com
http://facebook.com/PaulineCreeden


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~Cassie

Thursday, April 13, 2017

ARC Review: Royal Bastards

About The Book:

  Title: Royal Bastards 
  Author: Andrew Shvarts 
  Pub. Date: May 30th, 2017
  Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
  Pages: 352
  Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult 
  Rate: 4.5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Review:

I feel like a lot of fantasy books recently have been exactly the same. Basically if you've read one, you've read them all. Royal Bastards breaks that mold. I was so excited to FINALLY read a refreshing fantasy novel. Royal Bastards is jam-packed with an eclectic cast of characters that really make the book stand out. No one character is alike, but they are all (well... mostly) lovable. Basically Tilla, her half-brother (Jax), annoying childhood friend (Miles), sexy warrior (Zell), and princess to a nearby Kingdom (Lyriana) witness something that happened that puts a huge mark on their head because nobody involved wanted any witnesses. So they go on the run to get back to Lyriana's Kingdom where they will be safe. On their way they encounter murders, monsters, and other disasters.


I loved the characters. Tilla and Jax were immediately my favorite characters. They were relatable, funny, and crass, however it was clear that they cared about each other and their friends. Lyriana was your token princess, which I loved. She is everything you'd think a princess would be - she's quiet, gentle, and kind. I loved this because sometimes you read fantasy novels and the princess is just so unbelievably unruly or unprincess like that it makes the whole novel almost inconceivable. Then there's Zell.  He comes from the North, whose people have violent beliefs and morals. He's very rough around the edges, but oh so swoony (trust me on this one). I shipped him and Tilla from the very beginning, they are SO funny together. And finally, Miles. I HATED Miles. It's not that I didn't like how he was written, because I think he adds a lot to the story and that was the intention. But I just disliked him from the very start and he just annoyed me more and more as the book went on. While there were times he was useful, he was mostly clingy, helpless, and annoying. He was so cringe-worthy that I literally rolled my eyes whenever he did something. I think
I disliked him so much because whenever he did ANYTHING he would always want someone to validate him on a job well done. You're ALL in this mess together Miles, get over yourself. All of the characters are definitely memorable. Their journey puts them through a lot of troubles and stress, and seeing them go from strangers to basically family makes the book just so much better.

With the hilarity of a contemporary novel and all the action of a fantasy, Royal Bastards is a hilarious, fast-paced fantasy novel that will have you laughing, swooning, and on the edge of your seat. I would give you recommendations based on books you've read, but this book is so unique and unlike any other fantasy book that I don't think it's fair to do so. You just have to read it yourself! Was Royal Bastards on your book-radar before? I hope it is now!



Thank you to Disney Hyperion for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #94

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 

Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Violet Grenade
Synopsis:

DOMINO: A runaway with blood on her hands.

CAIN: A silent boy about to explode.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.


I'm so intrigued by the synopsis for this new book by Victoria Scott. I'm not sure what to expect, and if I know anything about Ms. Scott it's that unpredictable is what she does best! I'm really looking forward to checking this one when it comes out in May. It's definitely going to be different from what we have come to know of Ms. Scott, and that's one thing that makes this one so exciting!


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Lucky in Love by Kasie West 
Publication Date: July 25th, 2017 


Synopsis:

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment --

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?


This book seems so cute! I'm not usually one for frilly contemps, but Kasie West has a way of making them swoony and enjoyable. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is waiting for the release of this one!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Blitz: Too Much

About the Book:
Title: Too Much
Author: Ella Miles
Publication date: April 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis: 
A romance that starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.
He’s not coming.
He promised.
He swore.
He said he would always be here for me.
Except this time, when I really need him to be here, he isn’t.
He isn’t f**king here.
Quinn met Hunter five years ago at age eighteen. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was the complete opposite. But they did make a promise that day. If times ever got sh**ty again, all either of them had to do was text each other for help. For five years, they had always been there for each other until…they weren’t.

Author Bio:
Ella Miles writes sexy romance with strong females that could kick your butt if you piss them off, which they often do to the men that fall for them. She's currently living her own happily ever after near the Rocky Mountains with her high school sweetheart husband. Her heart is also taken by her goofy two year old black lab that is scared of everything, including her own shadow. Ella is the author of the Aligned series. Get a free book by visiting her website. Or by stalking her on Twitter or Facebook.

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~Cassie