My Fair Assassin by C.J. Anaya

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

“It’s not everyday a teenage girl is singled out for assassination.

Crysta has come to accept the fact that she is freakishly different. Her shocking white hair, creepy powers, and weird eating habits have prevented her from fitting in with her various foster families. Now that she is fully emancipated and providing for herself, she hopes that life will settle down and become something halfway normal.

Her hopes are shattered when a dangerous man with lethal intent breaks into her apartment, but this enticing stranger isn’t what he seems. Is he here to kill her or protect her from others who will?

My Fair Assassin is a romantic short story with elements of paranormal and urban fantasy woven in for an entertaining read. It also touches on social issues involving personal self-esteem and acceptance. Adults and teens alike will enjoy getting lost in the pages of Crysta’s story as she finally comes to accept who she is…or rather what she is.”

My Review:

Oh dear. If assassins are anything like the assassins in My Fair Assassin, I would very much like to be singled out for an assassination.

Oh that sounds just horrid doesn’t it?

You don’t understand! Anaya wrote an amazing book.

I love love love Crysta. She is hilarious and she tries so hard to do her best and she is just perfect. She has her flaws and sometimes she tries to ignore what’s right in front of her face, but she’s perfect. I loved her. You need to read this line:

The well muscled warrior standing several feet in front of me had made that abundantly clear [that she wouldn’t live long]. I studied him intently, deciding it would be best to memorize every inch of him in case I managed to escape and succeeded in describing my would be assassin to the local authorities.

Right!

My need to drink in his image had absolutely nothing to do with his six-foot frame, broad shoulders, sharp, chiseled features, and flawless crystal-blue orbs framed by a sturdy brow.

Insert wistful sigh here.

Doesn’t description make you want to just squeal? It made me want to squeal.

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The Lake by AnnaLisa Grant (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

At 17, Layla Weston is already starting over. Having lost both her parents and grandparents, and with nowhere else to go, Layla is moving from Florida to a small town in North Carolina to live with the only family she has left: her estranged uncle and aunt.

The last five years of Layla’s life were spent appeasing her lessthan-loving grandmother, followed by being her grandfather’s caretaker. Growing old before her time, Layla lost her identity. Now she must learn how to allow herself to be the one cared for and loved.

Life takes an unexpected turn when Layla meets Will Meyer. His breathtaking good looks are enough to catch her eye, but his sincerity and passion are everything she needs to find the strength and confidence she lost — and lead her into love.

When tragedy once again strikes Layla’s life, her hope is all but completely crushed. Through it all, Layla learns what it means to truly love and be loved.”

My Review:

I have read many books in my lifetime. And I have read many books just in the (almost) year and a half that I’ve had this blog. I’ve encountered great books, awful books, mediocre books. I’ve met complex characters and simple characters…but never have I met such an awful character as Layla Weston. It isn’t just her either…this whole book was just bad.

I’ve got to talk about Layla first. I hated her. At first, I felt kinda bad. She’s had a hard life, not too many rays of sunshine came her way, but she was still pushing on. Then, it all went downhill.
Her grandparents die, which isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the synopsis. Layla goes to live with her aunt and uncle, who she calls Claire and Luke, without the “aunt” and “uncle” prefix, respectively. The reason for this wasn’t disrespectful, as Layla explains to Will, but just that it would feel weird to call them Aunt and Uncle when there’s really no real relationship among them. That wasn’t my issue. My issue with Layla is that she is the most selfish, most disgusting, most annoying character in this entire book and quite possibly in all the books I’ve read so far.

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In Your Dreams by Amy Martin (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

“Sixteen-year-old Zara “Zip” McKee lives for three things: basketball, books, and bailing out of tiny Titusville, Illinois, where the junior high and high school are in the same building and everyone’s known everyone else since birth. But when Kieran Lanier moves to town and passes out on her desk on his first day at school, Zip’s life gets complicated in a way she never dreamed.

Kieran has narcolepsy, and although he sometimes struggles to stay awake, he has no trouble capturing Zip’s heart and trusting her with his most guarded secret–he sees bits and pieces of the future in his dreams.

But just when Zip thinks that maybe she can handle having a boyfriend who sees things before they happen, her budding relationship with Kieran gets a jolt when Kieran’s parents reveal that his sleeping disorder is not what it seems and may be putting them in harm’s way. And when Zip begins to have unsettling dreams, she must decide if she can live with knowing the future in advance when she’s afraid of what might happen.

*Recommended for Young Adult readers 13 and up (mild cursing, some adult situations)”

My Review:

When I was In Your Dreams’ synopsis I was suspicious. Was Martin going to play this off as a “we were destined to be together” kind of plot? Or, worse yet, a “I’m a mysteriously gorgeous man who saw you in my dreams but I have to stay away because I. Just. Can’t. Control. Myself. Argh!” Answer? None of the above.

I really liked that the majority of the book wasn’t focused on Kieran’s dreams. It’s true, his dreams are a large part of the plot, but it’s just as important to develop the rest of the book. I also liked that he wasn’t gorgeous or anything, but a regular kid with irregular tendencies. Martin took the time and care to create a relationship between Zip (love the nickname!) and Kieran and supporting characters before she introduced much else. It allowed me the time to learn about and eventually fall in love with the characters she presented and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Each character was well-rounded and the families were represented as they actually are in reality.

Zip is a “I’m not like other girls” kind of girl, but not in a bad or pompous way. She doesn’t have to say it because she is her own person without anyone needing to let you know.

Gosh, I loved Kieran. He’s like a really sweet book boyfriend that’s actually believable. He had moments when he needed to be alone, a gorgeous sense of humor, an equally wonderful personality, and was a great kid overall. Kieran had to ask tough questions and answer them and was always fighting to overcome his narcolepsy. Sometimes he needed to be alone and sometimes he needed friend so. There was an excellent balance.

The family dynamic, in both Zip and Kieran’s, was well done. There were arguments and tears and confusion and sometimes even mistrust and I liked that. No family is perfect and everyone has secrets, so to make sure that these families were not only involved in their children’s lives, but had differences that sometimes clashed was an excellent idea on Martin’s part.

The plot was excellent too. There was a sense of mystery and uncertainty that floated along. It was kind of like when you smell something in the air briefly and you’re not sure what you’re smelling, but you like it. Ever had that? By the end of the book, I was pleased to find that there was no cliffhanger, but everything was explained, but still had the hint that there could be a next book.
Would you recommend In Your Dreams? I would! I think it was a fun read and definitely something that’s perfect for a rainy day. It’s a book that will keep you occupied and interested for a good while. Plus, it’s free! The synopsis does say that there are adult situations, but I never saw them or felt uncomfortable with anything so I’m not sure what the warning is for. 

Watched by Michael August (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

“A short tale of suspense set at Pembrook High and exclusively available for Kindle.

Everyone expects Brianne Pratt to plan the scariest Halloween dance ever, but she’s facing a few challenges. School authorities want to keep the theme too tame. Her folks don’t like her college boyfriend who’s coming back for the evening, and worst of all, someone’s watching.

Someone’s spying on Brianne, sneaking messages into her locker and placing strange phone calls that make it clear her secret admirer won’t give up easily.

Even if she can navigate the treacherous waters of school politics and pull off a wild and exciting Halloween event, she’s worried she could be the real focus of the horror on the big night.”

My Review:

I’m not sure what I expected, but this was the weirdest short story I’ve ever read. Thirty pages worth of “What?” “Really?” and “Wow, okay.”

The story is only thirty pages long so really, how long can a review for it be, but we’ll see.

I’ve seen piece of paper that’s thicker than Watched’s characters and plot. Brianne was disrespectful towards adults and it was completely distasteful. I don’t even remember any of the other characters. There was so little suspense that it completely surpassed zero and went into negative infinity. I never even guessed who the stalker was and I didn’t care when it was revealed. There was nothing scary about him, just creepy. It wasn’t a mixture of a creepy stalker with a terrifying plot with a eerie setting, it was just “No thanks, this is weird.”

Honestly? The scariest part of this story was how everyone didn’t care about the stalker.  (spoiler)He actually manages to kill a fellow student just because they were going to attempt to stop the party and was nearly going to kill Brianne. No matter what awful things the stalker did, the people who find out who the culprit is don’t seem to care. Instead, they’re concerned about how realistic Brianne’s boyfriend looks in his wolf costume.
Would I Recommend Watched? No, definitely not.

The Last Orphans by N.W. Harris (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world.

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas—an out-of-his-league classmate—who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance.

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected—the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead.

A spine-tingling adventure that will have you gasping for breath all the way until the last page, The Last Orphans is the first book in an all-new apocalyptic series.”

My Review:

This was just poor quality. The Last Orphans is completely devoid of substance, conviction, development, and logic, while overflowing with poor writing, poor characters, and a poor plot.

Shane Tucker is a seventeen year old kid and, I was actually interested in reading about him. Harris gives you a glimpse of Shane’s life and the daily demons he wrestles with before he whips that view away and thrusts you into the action. And it left me a very disappointed reader.

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Anathema by Megg Jensen (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

“Forget prophecy. Make your own destiny.

Reychel is a slave girl surrounded by magic, lies, and manipulation. Her best friend disappears in the middle of the night leaving Reychel to face her fifteenth birthday, the day her master burns his brand into the back of her bald head, alone.

Sheltered from the outside world and without any hope for escape, can Reychel learn to believe in herself?”

My Review:

Maybe I’m getting old. Perhaps that’s why I often find myself guessing the plots of YA novels and essentially ruining it for myself. It’s very disappointing, but also inescapable. How do you tell your own mind “No spoilers!”?

Anathema has been on my “want to read” list for quite some time. “Quite some time” meaning since January 9th (2015), when I bought it. Why did it take me so long to read it? I can’t give you a solid reason, but from what I read, I wasn’t missing anything.

The synopsis lured me in, but the writing and plot let me down. Let’s talk about why.

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Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Stone Braide Chronicles)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.”

My Review:

Thunder was an interesting novel that I was skeptical about. I read the synopsis and thought, Hm, the title and the cover are rather cliche, but it doesn’t look awful. Wait…hunting other people and selling them? Isn’t that…slavery? After I saw that, I was even more interested in reading this book. I know a guy who woke up one day and attempted to write a book about slavery, with little to no legitimate researched knowledge on the topic. The book quickly, painfully, thankfully fell apart. Slavery just isn’t the type of topic you can just hop out of bed and start writing about. So when I noticed (and it was impossible not to) that Calhoun has it as a rather large part of the book, I had to see how she was going to pull it off.

The verdict? It was respectful and I wasn’t left with the feeling that Calhoun wrote Thunder in a lackadaisical manner, but it still was centered on the capturing and selling actual beings. A post-apocalyptic slavery (in America no less) that sprang up due to another type of person that someone put a bounty on is an odd choice, given America’s history.

Onto the actual book: I wasn’t impressed. There was just no…Google, help me out, what word am I looking for? Enthusiasm? Maybe. When I read a book, there’s always some sort of inner voice that I hear reading with me. The one that creates the characters’ voices and really helps my mind use my five senses to really read. My inner voice was reading this story to me in the same way you talk about something you aren’t really interested in. A flat tone of voice, mechanical descriptions, just disinterested. Make no mistake, having the right amount of description in a young adult novel is hard. You either have no descriptive words/phrases or all of your sentences sound like this:
She gently lowered herself to the ground until her delicate fingers grasped the flower. Its pink color looked like the rosy cheeks of a newborn baby, quiet gibberish on their lips. The flower’s gossamer petals tickled the nerve-endings in her fingers as she sighed, thinking about Joseph.

Admittedly, this is a really descriptive piece, but in my opinion–even though I wrote it–it’s trying too hard and I don’t like it. It’s incredibly difficult to find that descriptive balance, but when it comes down to it, you would want your book to be over-descriptive, rather than not descriptive at all. Continue reading

Without You/Unending Love (Unbreakable Love series) by Yesenia Vargas

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

“It’s the senior year of high school. Ariana has a second chance at love, and this time, with a much better guy, Lucas.
She also sends off her application to her dream college knowing Lucas can’t afford to go anywhere but the community college in their hometown. If she can get in and afford to go herself (and that’s a big if), Ariana will have a tough choice to make.
Attending community college with Lucas or leaving him and everyone else behind to head off to the University of Georgia.
Which regret will she choose? Not going to the school of her dreams or possibly ruining her relationship with the guy of her dreams? Meanwhile, Ariana’s brother, Jimmy, and best friend, Mayra, contemplate the idea of giving each other a chance.”

My Review:

If I have to read the word ‘groan’ one more time, I may scream. I’m disappointed in Without You. I had no expectations for it after reading the synopsis and seeing the cover, that is to say, I wanted to see what Vargas had to offer. Vargas unfortunately didn’t offer much. I guessed the plot once I had reached the one-third mark in the story and from there I lost interest. Even the title, “Without You,” didn’t seem to tie in with the story.

I don’t quite know how I feel about Ariana because there were parts of her missing. All I knew about her, for sure, was that she wanted to go to University of Georgia, she had some kind of terrible experience with a mystery guy named Carlos, she speaks Spanish, is rather selfish, she curses when it’s not necessary, makes poor decisions, allows herself to be pressured into things, and she’s rather okay with lying to her parents and keeping serious secrets from them. I’m not sure about her hair color, eye color, her personality, why she’s the main character, or any of the basic things that make up a character. Ariana needed to be developed into a more interesting and wholesome character before she would have resembled a teenager in my perspective.

The other characters were in the same situation. I didn’t know their personalities, their interests, what they looked like, and they all (except for one!) freely lie to their parents. None of these teens are role models.

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Frey (The Frey Saga) by Melissa Wright

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

“Unaware she’s been bound from using magic, Frey leads a small, miserable life in the village where she’s sent after the death of her mother. But a tiny spark starts a fury of changes and she finds herself running from everything she’s ever known.
Hunted by council for practicing dark magic, she is certain she’s been wrongfully accused. She flees, and is forced to rely on strangers for protection. But the farther she strays from home, the more her magic and forgotten memories return and she begins to suspect all is not as it seems.”

My Review:

Firstly, I was drawn to this book by the cover. Frey, who I assumed was the girl behind the flames, looked powerful, mysterious, and emotionally strong. The hawk that lurked behind the smoke only seemed to heighten my expectations. The hawk seemed to be a hint, meant to lead me to believe that Frey’s powers reached beyond expectations. Dare I say it, that her powers soared. The hawk didn’t mislead me either.

Frey was powerful. She had yet to reach her full potential, which I understand, Frey is just the first book. Frey is learning herself and the ways of magic and I, as the reader learned alongside her. I assumed that Frey is around sixteen or seventeen, but I don’t recall it ever being mentioned inside the actual book or synopsis. Granted, the book does fall under the Young Adult category, so I believe that her being around the young adult age group is a safe assumption. As I said, Frey was powerful. I loved reading about her small adventures while she tested out her magic. They were interesting and I wish she had fully embraced the magical elf in her much more quickly than she did. Sadly, Frey had no emotional strength.

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Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Lacey’s Story (Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? series) by Julia Keanini

TRIGGER WARNING: BOOK TOPIC IS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

“Hate is a powerful word, especially when you’re using it against your own reflection.
In fourteen-year-old Lacey Steele’s world, being “skinny” equals no more caustic remarks comparing her to Shamu the Whale, meriting the attention of her ten-year crush aka the beautiful quarterback next door, and finally deserving her distant mother’s love- pretty much goddess status. But diets, nor health food, nor exercise bring Lacey desired results and her future looks everlastingly chubby.
Unexpectedly, Lacey and her friend Ashley stumble on an easier method. Extreme calorie cutting may seem a little drastic, but of course it’s better than … an eating disorder. Unfortunately, the easy route has a price neither girl planned to pay, but it comes due anyway, for one of them.
A story of hope and eventual acceptance, Skinniness is Next to Goddessness?Lacey’s Story, takes a brighter approach to an age old tale.
Book One in the Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Series.”

My Review:

In the Author’s Note, Keanini’s first sentence is, “An eating disorder, in any form, is never something to take lightly.” Then she explains that she’s “heard the criticism that if I write about such a heavy issue in a light, or as I like to think of it, bright manner, it slights the importance of the issue.” She goes on to say that she hopes Skinniness is Close to Goddessness? accomplishes the exact opposite. And it would have, if the eating disorder aspect of the story was focused on more.

Meeting Lacey Steele was an event that started off sad. You receive a glimpse into the life of rejection, insecurity, and disgust that she has lived since her days of being overweight. From being constantly teased by her peers to her mother always being ashamed of her, Lacey isn’t sure what to do with herself. As the story progresses, Lacey and her best friend, Ashley, as the synopsis says, “stumble on an easier method.”

Lacey Steele was somewhat of an admirable character. She has dealt with humiliation all of her life, yet she still hasn’t given up on herself yet. Although she is ashamed of her waistline and the number that shows up when she steps on a scale, she still hasn’t let herself go. Her first words to her sister and father after not seeing them for four years were, “So we’ll pretend the last four years never happened? Sounds like a plan to me. The kitchen rug seems plenty big enough to hide that amount of baggage.” Lacey was a real fourteen year old girl with insecurities, worries, concern for others, normal anger issues, and she was very loveable. She accepted things that came her way and found a way to deal with them, not always in a negative way like her eating disorder. I appreciate her as a character and her relationship with the other characters were adorably innocent.

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