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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Steel Lily (Periodic series) by Megan Curd

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis:

“AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.
She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.
Or so she thinks.
That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.
…Which means digging deeper.
When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.”

My Review:

I honestly love the title Steel Lily as well as how the name arrives in the book. I rather enjoyed myself reading this, but I still had to give it a review of 2.5.

Avery Pike, the heroine, wasn’t as complex as she needed to be. In a dystopian world where you can hardly trust yourself and, in Avery’s case, your class hates you because of your abilities, you need to be complex. Firstly, you need a poker face. Throughout the whole book at least three characters comment on how Avery’s face is a snitch when it comes to how she feels. And this never changes, which I will get to shortly. Secondly, be more than just your superpower/what makes you stand out. Besides Avery’s special power, there wasn’t much to her. She was just a pawn in her own book! Avery felt very naive to me and for the most part, just wandered around hoping to uncover “secrets” even though she wasn’t doing much. All of the secrets were conveniently given to her by a few of the friends that she surrounds herself with. It wasn’t the heroine the world needed after what everyone says was a terrible World War III, which I will also get to later. Thirdly, don’t swoon over the first guy you meet. It’s just so sad. All it takes is one look and suddenly “Does he feel the love too?” Please don’t do that, focus on your goal in life, you know, the one that involves people you love that may die? Thanks. Curd tried to make Avery seem somewhat quick-witted, someone who bravely (or stupidly) pushed her captor’s patience to the limit, but it fell flat. I found myself rolling my eyes when she tried to be a smart-aleck towards anyone besides Jaxon because at least Jaxon wasn’t taking her seriously. She never fixed her poker face issue either, she just continued to walk around with her thoughts written out on her face and eventually everyone just accepted it. It was very unrealistic.

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Awakening (Absence of Song series) by C.B. Stone

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

Though music is forbidden and could get me in big trouble with the Ministry, I nevertheless often find myself singing softly in spite of the danger. Little do I know just how much hot water my strange compulsion to sing will actually land me in.
What is happening in the world around me? How is it happening? How does the stranger Noah fit into things? And most importantly… why me? I’m no more special than the next person.
So many questions and so many dangers. All I can do is trust that whatever is happening, it is good. I can see that it’s good, and I refuse to let anyone convince me otherwise.

My Review:

This was a weird experience and not in a good way I’m afraid. A world where singing, humming, and music in general is banned is difficult to imagine. It is undoubtedly a horrifying thought. Yet, this is the world that Jaelynn lives in.
I think that maybe Awakening was some sort of a “pre-book,” but there is no excuse for the rather poor quality. It was not engaging, it was not descriptive, it was emotionless, severely under-developed, and drab. Now here’s why.

Jaelynn Rose is the heroine. Why? I have a strong guess, but for now, I don’t know and neither do you. Since neither you nor I know why she’s the heroine, I would assume that Stone would give hints. Maybe try to make it less obscure as to why she decided Jaelynn is the heroine I want to spend some of my limited time on earth reading about. Instead, all I am given is that when she sleeps, she hears songs. Phenomenal. Not to mention, at one point, Jaelynn isn’t sure what her own name is. She introduces herself as Jaelynn and her parents call her Jaelynn, but then she called herself Jaclyn when she was thinking. It happened once, but it was there. I for one would be terrified if I relied on a heroine who forgot what her name was.

I felt that Jaelynn was pretty naive. A few sentences here and there did their best to make her seem intuitive and always questioning things, but it didn’t happen. If anyone’s ever experienced a really long winter with a ton of snow, they know that there are huge potholes in the road and they easily fill up with water. Now, anyone with common sense wouldn’t look at a pothole filled with water and think “Haha! I’m going to jump in, it can’t be that deep.” because that’s just not a good idea. Sadly, that was mostly what Jaelynn did. She had no self-control whatsoever for example: “Whoa! A strange man is approaching? I’m totally safe if this fence is between us. Let’s exchange names! I want to tell you my secret that could get me and my family killed.” or even “I barely know you, but let’s cramp ourselves in this very small room all alone and hope nothing bad happens.” Really? Are you kidding? That is very dangerous, please don’t do that. Her inability to lie to her parents was eye-roll worthy. Of course she can’t lie to her parents, what does she have to lie about? She doesn’t do anything at all, besides a mundane routine and then hears some songs in her dreams. I’m sure this is just a tool to make sure in later books it seems like her “innocence” is being taken away because of the government. I didn’t see a leader in Jaelynn and while it could be a way to show character development throughout the later books, this wasn’t the way to do it. Instead of making me interested in seeing Jaelynn develop, it made me write her off the “Could Be a Heroine” list.

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The Cure by Stephanie Erickson

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Price: $3.99

Official Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

“One life will make the difference.” Macey Holsinger has been hearing that promise her whole life. But it hasn’t saved anyone yet, not even her little brother.
The disease has claimed countless lives in the last hundred years, and the government is working hard to find a cure through human testing. Testing that has killed nearly as many people as the disease.
At sixteen, Macey has better things to think about than saving lives and submitting to any rule other than her parents’. As a budding artist, she has her whole life ahead of her, at least until she faces her own testing.
Questions plague Macey. Questions that make everyone else nervous. How can death be justified with more death? What’s the point of all this?
Answers evade her until she’s left with only one question: How much will she sacrifice in the name of the cure?
If you liked The Hunger Games or Divergent, you’ll love The Cure!

My Review:

I’m always very skeptical about books in the free section and in the dystopian, Young Adult genre. The abundance of the less-than-riveting choices is astounding and not in a good way. But, The Cure shocked me and I loved it.

The first thing that I noticed was that this is under the dystopian genre, but if you look at the title of this review, this isn’t a series. Yes, this is a young adult dystopian book that is not a series. Everything is tied up in just one book and that is amazing.

Macey Holsinger is the heroine, and she honestly is. Macey is in tenth grade, loves art, misses her little brother, has two parents and a best friend who’s like a brother, and a whole lot of questions. Her questions and natural instinct to defy what everyone just accepts gets her in trouble in school, but lands her an opportunity she would’ve given almost anything to participate in. Macey had a well-developed personality. She went through a range of emotions: anger, sadness, fear, depression, determination, and so on. Her main objective wasn’t to take down the government nor was it to just let the government do whatever it wanted and I respect Erickson for pulling that off. Macy was real, a person who just happened to live inside of a book. She loved, cried, screamed, defied, glared, stayed in a vegetable state for a week, stood up for herself, questioned everything including herself, thought outside the box, cared, and never stopped being human.

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The Trouble with Flying (Trouble series) by Rachel Morgan

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Official Review: 3/5

Synopsis:

When nineteen-year-old introvert Sarah boards a plane to fly home after an overseas holiday, the last thing she expects is Aiden, the guy sitting next to her who’s never flown anywhere before and refuses to shut up. Hours of random conversation later, they part ways. Sarah can’t stop thinking about Aiden, though, and wondering if she made a terrible mistake letting him go.
Should she abandon her safe, predictable life and go in search of him, or would she be chasing a happily ever after that could never exist in real life?

My Review:

This was a cheesy romance book with a bit of religion slipped in, but it was cute. The synopsis, in my opinion, makes the book seem bland, but it wasn’t. There aren’t any hair-raising incidents or edge-of-your-seat issues, but it isn’t boring.

Sarah Henley is a shy push-over that isn’t aware of how easily controllable she is. She was an unique and interesting character and her point-of-view was refreshing. She enjoys writing, but she’s allowed herself to try to get her Bachelor of Science instead of pursuing her dream, despite the fact that she’s miserable. Her character development was done tastefully. Aiden pushed her out of her comfort zone because he was out of his comfort zone and she benefited from it. I liked watching her slowly step outside of her protective bubble more frequently as the book continued on, even though it obviously made her uncomfortable at the start. She’s a talented writer from the responses the other characters have made towards the things she’s wrote, but she doesn’t believe it due to a verbally abusive and manipulative boyfriend. I was really rooting for her by the time the book ended.

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The Legacy of the Key (Ancient Guardians series) by S.L. Morgan

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Official Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis:

“Discover today a new dimension that will remove you from reality as you know it. Welcome to the new book series: Ancient Guardians. Book One, The Legacy of the Key, promises to give you a fun, new, and thrilling reading experience!
No matter where you are, facing your reality with passion and purpose will always lead down the path you were intended to go.
Reece Bryant was able to pick up the pieces of her broken life after the sudden death of her father. Though emotionally draining, she found the courage to move on, which would have made her father proud.
After finalizing the last of his estate, and returning to pursue her degree in medical school, she has never felt so confident. While making her way through this world on her own, she is
suddenly confronted with the truth of her existence, and the reality of her future.
It is when she encounters two alluring and mysterious men, that a series of extraordinary events takes place, putting Reece’s life in grave danger. With her life in the balance, Reece must blindly trust the two mysterious strangers; and when she does, she is brought into an enchanting world that is beyond her logical comprehension. This captivating land reveals new worlds and new dimensions to which her existence is paramount.
But it is once she falls in love with the stunning Levi Oxley that everything will change, and Reece’s life will be in more danger than ever before. Forced to return to Earth and face a Council of Worlds, Reece discovers there is more to this enchanting dimension than she could
have ever imagined.
At a moment’s notice, even thru the fog of our denial, our journey can become
crystal clear. And within the revelation, once our fear subsides, we can find contentment and purpose if we focus on the things that matter most.
Trust—Courage—Love.”

My Review:

If I have to read the words “grin” (in all tenses) or “my love”, which appeared throughout the book sixty-nine and twenty-three times respectively, I will scream. Just because you’re in love with a woman, doesn’t mean you have to forget her name and call her “my love” constantly and, Morgan, there are other words for “grin.”

The synopsis makes Reece seem like someone who knows how to handle abrupt situations and pull through: “Reece Bryant was able to pick up the pieces of her broken life after the sudden death of her father. Though emotionally draining, she found the courage to move on, which would have made her father proud.” Yet, when you read the book, you get none of this. Reece doesn’t seem distraught and when she goes back to visit her hometown to finish up some paperwork about her father’s death she has a “let’s get this over with” attitude. We’re told that she misses her Dad, but I didn’t see any evidence that make me believe she was (spoiler) except when her “Dad” visited and she started crying for a bit. Even that wasn’t much evidence. Reece isn’t a terrible character, she’s not interesting but I didn’t dislike her. The two main issues I had with her was that she shrugged her shoulders and accepted whatever two men she’s never met and doesn’t know tell her. If two men insisted I get into the car with them and that “all will be explained later,” I would be very uncooperative and the alarm bells would be ringing loudly. I also didn’t appreciate how she went from a seemingly independent woman to “I love you so much that it’s rendering me helpless!!” A Saint Bernard would be in awe of the amount of drool that came out of her mouth.

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Land (Stranded series) by Theresa Shaver

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Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

Five go by Land – Five go by Sea

A group of teens on a class trip to Disneyland are left stranded. An EMP over North America has destroyed everything electronic. No cars, no planes, no phones, no electricity. Refusing to wait for someone else to help them, ten courageous young people take charge of their future and choose to begin the long journey home. 1500 miles of adventure and lawless country await. Will their determination be enough?
Alex, Quinn, Josh, Cooper and Dara – setting out on foot with nothing more than some soon to be worthless cash and a little advice from a trusted teacher, they walk through a burning city that has come to a halt. The devastation they see as they make their way out of the city is a small part of the horror that the nation will become. As the days go by with no food deliveries and no water flowing from taps, civilization will start to crumble and it will be survival of the fittest. With five States and half a Province to cross they will need to plan well, count on each other and pray for a little luck. Even with that, chances are slim of getting home when you are Stranded.”

My Review:

This book was the epitome of ridiculous. A bunch of teens go to Disneyland from Canada and a nuclear bomb is dropped which causes an EMP. That’s not the ridiculous part. The ridiculous part is that in three seconds everyone starts freaking out. One of the teachers DIES, the teachers left start calling students expletives, the teachers are telling each other to shut up, all the adults somehow have thousands of dollars on their person, and the teachers calmly let a bunch of kids go off on their own because they’re “leaders.” Everyone is convinced that a group of sixteen year olds can make it from Disneyland to Canada on their own. What? Why? The whole scenario was absolutely ludicrous and it was painful to read. It takes one day before everyone just starts looting and gangs start to rise and all manner of order is one-hundred percent gone. Also, “five go by land, five go by sea.” If two groups are mentioned, why doesn’t the book ever follow the group that goes by sea? I would have liked to know what happened to them. (Further research shows that we find out in the next book.) (spoiler) At the end, all we are told is that “the other kids are dead” by a “former” bad guy that was friends with Cooper’s dad.

The characters. Each one of the characters were bland and annoying stereotypes. And almost all of them had alcoholic parents. Why? There was the goth girl (Dara), “Mr. Responsibility” (Quinn) (yes, they said that), the bad boy (Cooper), and the class clown/jokester (Josh). They even managed to create a love triangle. You know how in a lot of teenaged movies, adults play the teenagers? That’s what it was like. Only the adults are in clothes that are too small and they have stereotypical voices and sometimes forget that they’re teens and use their natural adult tone.

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Sophie’s Secret (Whisper series) by Tara West

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Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

“After shedding 30 pounds of baby fat, Sophie Sinora has grown into a pretty, but insecure, teen in bloom. To make her life more complicated, Sophie can sometimes read minds.
Sophie’s BFFs, AJ and Krysta, are also ‘gifted’ with paranormal abilities. Keeping their gifts secret proves difficult, as their powers are strengthening, making them feel more and more like freaks.
When Sophie falls for Jacob, she hopes he’ll ask her out to the Freshman Formal. But when she’s forced to cheat and lie for him, she wonders how far she’ll have to go to make him like her. Add to her growing list of problems – her teacher’s suicidal thoughts, a locker bully who wants to kick her butt, the hot school flirt who won’t stop teasing her, her pregnant sister who boots Sophie out of her room, and the growing tension between Sophie and her best friends.
Sophie’s got issues. Hopefully, she can fix them in time to save her teacher’s life and her social life.

My Review:

When I opened this book, I didn’t have access to the internet so I couldn’t double check what the synopsis was on goodreads. Everything that was in the synopsis occurred in the book, but it was very watered down. I was expecting the book to be more about the supernatural powers that Sophie, AJ, and Kyrsta have. Instead, I got bits and pieces about their powers and mostly learned more about Sophie’s her pregnant sister, depressed teacher, her rather small issues with her friends, and her romance life.

Sophie is the main character and the whole book is from her perspective. It was interesting to see things through her eyes and read other people’s minds, but she insulted people too much for me to enjoy it. While yes, a teacher that picks his nose is very gross, to call him “Pick-and-Flick” isn’t very kind. Nor is calling Cody Miller “Grody Cody” polite either. Sophie uses her power to try to understand a few people better, but only if it benefits her. For example, Frankie (spoiler) who she uses her telepathic powers to figure out if he likes her or her favorite teacher or her new best friend, Lara. Yet, not with Mr. Dallin or Cody. Why doesn’t she want to know what those two are thinking? Surely they know about what people call them and I’m sure their feelings are probably hurt. Everyone is dealing with something, being ridiculed by the “entire” school can’t help. But Sophie doesn’t care because she has already labeled them and therefore doesn’t want anything else to do with them.

The rest of characters were just as okay. They all felt 2D and I didn’t connect with any of them. Sophie’s best friends, Krysta and AJ, didn’t really do very much, especially Krysta. AJ only served to give the plot a bit more “trouble in paradise” between friends. The only interesting part in the whole book was the issue between Sophie and her sister, Rosa Marie. I would have like to have seen more bonding between them, but it just didn’t happen.

The plot was rather interesting, but it didn’t hold up because of the lack of anything that actually had something to do with the three main characters’ powers. In order for me to have even thought about the sequel, there had to be more than a few obscure hints about the girls having an increase in power. There had to be more to the plot and I was disappointed that there wasn’t.

V is for Virgin (V is for Virgin series) by Kelly Oram

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Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

“When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?”

My Review:

To be totally honest, I didn’t really like this book. I liked the concept, a teenage girl not being afraid to stand up for her opinion on abstaining from sex until she was married. Her cause and purpose was admirable, I wouldn’t disagree with that. But there were a few other aspects in the book that made me uncomfortable.

The first issue I had was that there was no obvious character development. People can always improve, people in real life and characters in books. Always. There are perfect characters, but they aren’t realistic. What does an author have to do in order to make them realistic? Give them flaws and gradually develop the character(s) as they start to realize their issues and try to fix them. I didn’t see any development in Valerie, but plenty of flaws. When “Virgin Val” becomes public and her campaign “V is for Virgin”, starts to become more popular, she starts to blow off her friends. The first person being her best friend, Cara. It was honestly disappointing how their friendship turned out in the end. Valerie made it seem like everything was Cara’s fault. While I do agree that Cara was very selfish in some of the decisions she made, Valerie wasn’t a saint either. She ignored Cara and started to make new friends, casually leaving Cara behind and then blaming it all on her. Then Valerie does maybe two things to try to “patch” the relationship and when it doesn’t work out, she storms off as if she had be bending backwards trying to make things work. But in all honesty, she wasn’t. All Valerie did was “fit” Cara into her schedule and she barely even did that. There was no change in Valerie’s perspective on the situation nor her actions, even though she was wrong.

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