DNF Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

 

What in the ever loving heck was this book. Seriously. What was it? I love a good classic retelling but I’m sorry to say this was not one of those. I DNFd 20% into the story and it was a painful 1/5 of the book. I cannot imagine what the rest was like.

This is supposed to be a (loose?) retelling of Scrooge but it isn’t a version of the story I have ever heard of before. The protagonist, Holly, is the most shallow, self absorbed, bitch of a spoiled brat I have had the displeasure of reading. After she died in a freak accident, she was recruited to be a part of a Scrooge organization that helped people realize the error of the ways and redeem themselves. Holly was recruited to be the Ghost of Christmas Past? You need to go somewhere else and sell that because I’m not buying it. This girl had the personality of a wet bag. She was only interested in being a bitch to everyone around her because her father had money and she was never told No a day in her life. She talked like a stuck up valley girl, which is always a huge pet peeve of mine. She was already vapid enough, don’t make it worse by making her sound like the only things she had worth living for were good manicures and sushi. I don’t have time for that nonsense. The way she treated people in real life and in death was offensive. She yelled at her housekeeper for turning the heat on during a very cold day and you want me to cheer for this girl? Get out of my face with that noise.

I decided to DNF when, after a debrief of “Scrooge #(whatever)” Holly was introduced to the next “Scrooge”, Ethan, and she fell lust-over-heels instalove with him. He was just as shallow, spoiled, and rotten as Holly. That was when I threw in the towel. We all know if there is one thing I cannot stand in a book is instalove. This story had it in spades. You want me to believe that Holly suddenly had the holiday spirit and wanted to “do her job” after seeing a photo of a hot guy? Reference above note about the character being shallow and self-absorbed. I had no cares to give about what happened after that. Holly’s character was given a chance to make other people happy but she chose to be bitter to the core about it. That made her so much worse! I wanted nothing to do with her or her story so I quit. I have read more than enough books in my day to know when a story is up my alley or not. This is most certainly not one for me.

If you made it through this book, let me know. I wish I could have read it through your eyes. I wanted a feel good holiday story and I really thought this would hit the spot. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh how wrong I was.

 

 

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

An Enchantment of Ravens

 

If I said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: stunning covers like this always make me want to read the story. I don’t care what it is about because I want it in my hands. Well, my darlings, do not let this cover fool you. This story was just ho-hum at the very best of times. The rest of the time it read like every other fae story out today.

Short recap: Isobel has a gift for painting human emotions into the paintings of her fae clients. The fae love anything and everything that is a human craft as they cannot do that on their own (cook food, clean laundry, etc). But when the mysterious Rook has his painting done. Isobel is swept away by Rook into the Fae lands to answer for the crime she has committed.

Are you as confused as I am? I sort of understood that Isobel (not her real name, by the way) had a gift for painting portraits but the fact that she could paint emotions into them baffled me. Why was that such a big deal to the Fae community? Did they not express emotions themselves? And then for Rook, the mysterious Fae prince, to wish Isobel away for crimes against him just had me scratching my head. So what if she painted emotion into his likeness? I never understood why that was such a big deal. Maybe it was explained and I missed it, or maybe it was supposed to be a conclusion I came to on my own (I never did, in case you were wondering). Either way, that made zero sense to me.

The other thing that stood out to me was the dreaded instalove. GAH! My arch nemesis! It burns! It burns! I cannot stand instalove but yet there it was, bold as brass. Instead of the romance between Isobel and Rook developing gradually and naturally, Rogerson made it instalove from the start. Yes, their relationship does continue to develop over the course of the story but to force it upon me from the very start made me disbelieve it even more.

I’m still at a loss of words for this story. I wanted to like it so much more but there was no way I could. When the story morphed into an adventure through the fairylands it quickly became every other fae story that is out and has been out. Nothing felt original or unique. The fae characters had the same qualities: they had to bow if someone bowed to them; they were wearing glamours to hide any imperfections; they spoke in riddles; the food they offered to humans guaranteed the humans would be trapped in the fairyland; magic spells spoken by fae people often had loopholes; etc. You get the idea. It had all been done before many many times. I grew bored while reading those parts because I felt as if I was reading plagiarized work from another author. Cruel to say but nevertheless true.

I did not enjoy this like I thought I would. The ending left me wondering what the hell was going on and what happened. I’m almost kicking myself for not DNFing this when I lost interest the first time. This was one of my most anticipated reads yet I walked away feeling completely disappointed. I really wanted so much more from it. In good faith I cannot recommend this to anyone. Do not fall victim to pretty covers like I did.

 

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ARC Review and Giveaway: Freed by Flame and Storm

Freed by Flame and Storm (Bound by Blood and Sand, #2)

**I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.**

I stumbled upon Becky Allen’s first book in this duology, Bound by Blood and Sand, last year and fell madly in love with Jae and her quest. The underlying plot (oppressed people versus the upper class with power) is not original, but the reason for it certainly was. I was thrilled when the publisher asked me to review the second book and host a giveaway. So prepare yourselves, you lucky readers, for a glowing review and a giveaway for both books! WOO! Now first… the review. 😉

This book picks up right after the first book ends. Jae and Elan are on a quest to free the Closest. Jae has recently freed herself from the dreaded Closest curse and knows in her heart of hearts she can free everyone else. Their quest is dangerous but necessary. Along the way, new characters are introduced that will change the course of the this battle in ways nobody could see coming.

The one thing that stood out the most to me was Jae. Her character was complex, well developed, and real. She felt real, anyways. I was in constant awe of her strength, determination, and selflessness. Jae was always the first to run into battle or give up her meal so someone else would not go hungry. She was never sacrificed to show she was better because she was a mage, it was always for the good of someone else. She knew better than anyone what it was like to not have anything and she never wanted anyone else to go through that. That was so refreshing to read! It really made me admire her even more. In a way, it made me want to be more like her. I also really enjoyed how there was an attraction between Jae and Elan but it was not the focus of the story. Whatever was going on between those two was a side story and a slow burn. Elan had one of the best character arcs I’ve read in awhile. From where he started this series to where he ended was brilliant to see. I’m thrilled I was a part of his change. ‘

There are a host of new characters introduced in this story but all necessary. I won’t give away who they are and what position they hold as you’ll need to get the book to find out for yourself. 😉 What I can tell you is that you should not trust what every says and don’t always believe what you read. Everyone is trying to either save themselves or protect someone else.

The plot was a non-stop action packed ride! Allen started the action right out of the gate and never let up until the very end. She did a wonderful job of keeping the reader (me) in this world she created. The way Jae weaved her magic and how she was able to summon it was so well done. I’m not a big super huge high fantasy reader and I don’t feel this was a high fantasy read. It was just enough fantasy and just enough of everything else to be the perfect balance. It was not over complicated and I liked that. No love triangles (WOO!), no instalove, no confusing names for people/places/things that caused me to stumble every time it was mentioned. Like the last bowl of porridge for Goldilocks, it was just right.

I cannot and will not stop gushing about this book! It was the ending that I hoped for. It was so well done and nothing is left to question. Allen did a wonderful job of putting everything in its place and that made me happy.

I want everyone to read this duology so the publisher has offered a copy of both books to one lucky winner! Below is the Rafflecopter giveaway (US only, sorry!). Please enter and add this to your TBR!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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ANGEL OF DEATH Book Tour: Interview and Giveaway

ANGEL OF DEATH (1)

 

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About the Book:

Angel of Death - CoverTitle: ANGEL OF DEATH

Author: Eamonn Hickson

Pub. Date: December 4, 2017

Publisher: Eamonn Hickson

Pages: 338

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon

 

Tormented by dreams and visions from an early age, Emily Dunhurst battled her way through childhood, missed the excitement of teenage years, yet still managed to arrive in her twenties with some shard of sanity.
But, when the Angel of Death appears at her grandmother’s bedside, Emily’s world is remolded in pain and worry. Her ability to see otherworldly creatures is the only way to stop the Creator’s Servant—and save her family.
However, Emily soon finds out that angels are hard to stop.

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Interview

Can you tell us one random fact about yourself that usually surprises others?

This surprises everyone! I set two official Guinness World Records: The Longest Journey Reversing a Tractor and Trailer (17.3 kilometers) and The Most Squats in 1 Minute While Carrying a 40lb Backpack (57). The first one (2014) was inspired by my farming background, and the second was related to another passion of mine: keeping fit (2016). Both have since been beaten, but it was nice to be the current holder for a while.

 

Do you read much, and if so, who are your favorite authors?

I read all the time—you’ve no choice if you want to become a great writer. I’ve a soft spot for Dan Brown even though he’s not the most fantastic writer of all time. It’s more of a guilty pleasure. In recent months I’ve found myself delving into the classics. Edgar Allan Poe’s work has struck a chord with me and I’m now working through a few of his better known pieces. Also, as I’m an Irishman, James Joyce is never far away. I can re-read The Dead (especially the ending pages) and never get bored. My favorite book of all time is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, even though I’m not a huge fan of his other work. Albert Camus’ The Stranger is a book I re-read every now and again, and I find something different with each reading.

 

Were there alternate endings you considered, or did you know where the story was headed?

I knew from the outset the general line the story was to take. However, as I got closer to the end, I had a change of heart. I decided to write the original ending and see how it ‘felt’. When that was done, I rewrote the final chapters with the ending that had drifted to my mind during the writing process. Then, after a few weeks of letting both endings stew, I re-read them both. It killed me, but there was a clear winner: the original ending was miles ahead. How did I know? It was simple; the original ending—the one that made it into the final draft—left me a little heartbroken. I found out that day that authors and writers are not creators, but storytellers. The story ‘exists’ somewhere and it’s our duty to grasp it, translate it into combinations of letters and words, and put it down on paper. And should we try to alter it to suit ourselves, it’ll fit as snugly with us (and the reader) as a pair of two left shoes.

 

Did you celebrate when you found out your novel was being published? If so, how?

I’m quite boring in that regard. My celebration comprised staring at a proof copy for about an hour and then going for too many drinks (Irish affliction!). However, my celebration is ongoing; I bask in silent moments of pride every now and again.

 

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

I’m not an author who wants to impose their way of thinking on the reader. If each reader had a moment—be it two or three seconds—where something that I wrote made them question an aspect of their lives, then it’s mission accomplished. Even if the reader disagrees with what my characters think, do or feel, it’s still a success. Why do we read? Is it not to experience something other than what we’re currently experiencing? If words that I (some random author in Ireland) arranged can make readers in different parts of the world feel something to break them from their own reality for even a moment, that’s incredible.

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About Eamonn:

Eamonn

Eamonn Hickson is an Irish author. He released his first novel, The History Maker, in December 2012.

He has undertaken a number of creative writing, and writing for print courses recently.

His second novel, Angel of Death, was released in December 2013.

Twitter | Goodreads

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Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of ANGEL OF DEATH, International.

 Rafflecopter link:

 

 http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2674/?

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Tour Schedule:

 

12/4/2017- Am Kinda Busy Reading– Review

12/4/2017- A Gingerly Review– Interview

 

12/5/2017- Jena Brown Writes– Review

12/5/2017- BookHounds– Guest Post

 

12/6/2017- Bookalicious– Review

12/6/2017- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt

 

12/7/2017- Stuffed Shelves– Review

12/7/2017- Confessions of a YA Reader– Guest Post

 

12/8/2017- Abooktropolis– Review

12/8/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Excerpt

 

 

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Review: Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1)

 

I know I have struggled when it comes to reading fantasy books but this was one that I truly enjoyed. The story flowed and the characters worked. I really liked this one.

Short recap: Sal has not had an easy life. She was forced to become a thief and defend herself at a very young age. Her homeland was destroyed by shadows and her people used as bait. After years of sneaking around and training, an opportunity presents itself for Sal to audition to become a member of the Queen’s Left Hand. Sal is trying out to become the new Opal, but she must survive and prove herself worthy to carry the title.

I already mentioned how much I enjoyed this book and I cannot saying that. I really enjoyed Sal’s character and her story arc. I felt as if I really connected with her and her struggles. What stood out to me the most about her was that she was the first gender-fluid character I had read as a MC. How awesome is that?! To be able to read a character that changed their entire wardrobe based on their mood for the day was enjoyable. I know that sounds weird to say about a fantasy book but that’s how it was for me. I was not ever confused about how Sal was on any given day, it was very clear and concise. Miller did such a wonderful job that I cannot give her enough props.

I think I have just nailed down why I enjoyed this fantasy novel – it was a rather generic plot and those are the easiest for me to follow. Anything more than what this book gave and my brain stops functioning. I know that may sound confusing or crazy but high fantasy books throw me off my game. This was a wonderful plot with the right amount of fantasy to make it more than regular fiction story, if that makes sense. There was nothing complex or utterly mind blowing but it was still very enjoyable.

Mask of Shadows does have a Hunger Games feel, which I really liked. Sal was warned early on that s/he would have to survive the other players and their murder attempts. If one of the competitors died, oh well, one less person to beat later. Marvelous! The competition starts within three chapters of the start so Miller wasted no time in getting the action started. I am not going to give a lot of this story away because I want everyone to read it.

While parts of this story were predictable, it still held my attention to the very end. I cannot wait for the second book! Please, give this one a try and let me know your thoughts.

 

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Review: The Future of Us

The Future of Us

 

What in the ever loving actual was this. I wasn’t sure there was a way to screw up a sci-fi time travel-ish story but Asher and Mackler found a way to do it.

I’m not even giving a short recap. What you need to know is that this is set in the early 90s when the internet is still BRAND NEW and AOL is the only way to get internet access. Emma has just gotten a computer and her bestest friend (and crush) Josh has graciously brought her an AOL computer disk.

Let me stop here. Anyone born before or during this period of time will have no freaking clue what AOL disks are. *sigh*

Moving on. Emma creates an AOL email and suddenly has a “favorites” bookmark to Facebook. She cannot help but wonder what this is about so she clicks and discovers it is a way to see into the future! She realizes she can see what she is doing in 2011 and what everyone else is doing as well. This girl quickly becomes obsessed with making sure she is happy in 2011. If she sees she’s married to XXX, then she obsessively stalks XXX until she finds out who he is, what he does, and if she is happy. She cannot stop thinking about herself in the future.

I am going to stop again because this is where the book seriously started to piss me off. Emma’s character was so vapid and self-absorbed that she cared about nobody but herself. She could not stop trying to change every single thing about her life 15 years in the future. Example: She found out she was living in Ohio and blew a gasket. She then swore that she would never move to Ohio, checked FB, and BAM! She was living in a new city. She did stuff like this throughout the entire book. Not once did she stop to ever wonder why she had a link to a website 15 years in the future. *bangs head against desk*

Josh’s character was just as bad. He found out who he was married to in the future and then could not stop obsessing over it. I guess “obsessing” was the theme of this book. Anyways… he finds out he is married to the hottest girl in school and proceeds to walk around with a boner for the rest of the story. This boy was running on hormones and nothing else. That is all he could talk about and all he could think about. Gross. Emma was all about boys and “fixing” her loveless marriage so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. These were badly written characters in a badly written story.

I think this was supposed to be an attempt at a light hearted, somewhat comedic story but I never read it that way. What I read was pages and chapters of Josh and Emma reading their FB status updates from the future. SNOOZEFEST. Who cares?! Nothing happened. This was not a fantastic throwback to the 90s type story. There was so very little that linked this to the 90s other than the reference to AOL and a modem. Oh, there is heavy reference to the Dave Matthews band so be prepared for that. But outside of those few items, this could have been set in 2007 and had the same effect. Writing a book for YA readers that were born in the same year as the story probably wasn’t the smartest idea. Again, pretty damn sure not all teens today even know what cassette tapes are, or Walkmans for that matter. Stop trying so hard to be hip and cool.

 

This was so much more than a let down for me. Maybe if I was a much younger reader I would be fascinated by this story but as I am not, I was not into this story. It was painfully dull and boring. The overall plot was weak at best. The characters were self centered, shallow, and lifeless. I didn’t care what they were doing or who they ended up with. I had zero cares to give about this book. The premise and cover promised a cyber-type mystery but I’m here to tell you, my friends, that was not the case. Don’t be fooled, this is not the best use of your reading time. Find another book and move on.

 

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Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

 

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

Do not be fooled by the blurb of this one. It promises a story of betrayal, suicide, and hidden pasts full of secrets. What it actually turned out to be was something much different and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Short recap: June’s friend, Delia,that she distanced herself from has committed suicide by burning herself in a fire. June doesn’t believe it and vows to find out what really happened. What she uncovers shakes her to her core.

Well, after writing that recap maybe I should change professions because I made this story sound good. I struggled to finish this book and often thought about DNFing. Once it was over and the big plot twist was revealed, I wish I had DNFd. It was not that much of a twist, I saw it coming a mile away. The story started out with so much potential – a suicide that may possibly be a murder instead. Who did it?! What happened?! Lies! Mystery! Betrayal! Secrets! Sigh This story just did not deliver the suspense and mystery I expected.

Let me start with the characters. I could not stand June. She was in school when it was announced over the speakers that her former best friend Delia had passed away. It is a sad and tragic announcement, as it should be. But what really stood out to me is that June took it personally. She openly admits that she and Delia used to be inseparable until June decided to distance herself. June decided that Delia was not a good friend anymore and chose to not talk to her. But after the announcement, June felt it was her responsibility to find out what really happened? Riddle me this – WHY. This girl chose to not be friends with the one person who was nice to her and then, what, out of grief chose to get to the bottom of Delia’s suicide? Why was it any of her business? She chose to leave Delia’s life, that doesn’t entitle her to anything. It felt like a long (boring) story of June sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Now Delia. What a cluster eff of a character. I felt bad for her home life after learning her side of everything. I stress it that way because we are talking about the churched up version of what happened from a very troubled teen that didn’t like being told what to do. Let that sink in and soak for a few moments. The friendship Delia and June did share was nothing but toxic. Delia was a very bad influence on June and she used that to her advantage to get what she wanted. June just wanted a friend to like her so she went along with whatever Delia told her. Everything between them got worse as the story continued and I ended up despising both characters.

The plot. This was supposed to be about misdirection and betrayal. I’m here to tell you that nothing was really as mysterious as Weingarten was trying to make it out to be. She tried to include a plot twist about 40 or 50% of the way into the book but it is painfully obvious what it was going to be. There was to shock factor or gasp moment. What did throw me for a loop and really made me dislike the story was how it started out as a typical high school drama story where a teen doesn’t like how her parents are trying to parent her (rules! OMG!) and it turned into a story about running away, lies, stealing, and murder. That’s right! MURDER. This went from high school stuff to MURDER. Slow down, Speed Racer. How did that escalate so quickly?!

The pacing of the story was bad. There were long stretches of moments where nothing happened and longer chapters where nothing made sense. There were weird flashbacks thrown into chapters randomly – either at the end or they were chapters all on their own. Regardless, they did not make sense, they did not help propel the story forward, they did not give great insight into the characters. They felt like weird fillers to make the story longer.

You can probably guess that I did not like this story. I’m all for a good messed up story of betrayal, secrets, and hidden truths, but that did not happen in this book. It was an unoriginal concept that I have read many times before in other books (Gone Girl, what?) I am still kicking myself for not DNFing because I will never get that time back. I do not recommend this to anyone. It was not clearly developed or executed. Do yourself a favor and pass on this one.

 

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