Review: Bright Burning Stars

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

I went into this with high hopes but I was not able to connect to any part of the story. I expected more of a mystery story than hardcore ambition. The synopsis promised one thing but the actual story delivered something else. It took a lot of willpower to not DNF.

The main characters, Kate and Marine, were underdeveloped, flat, lifeless, and dull. All of their POV chapters sounded the same so it was difficult to tell who was actually speaking. That went hand in hand with the plot being weak. and full of holes. It all tied together to create one story that was tough to get through. I didn’t care what was going on with anyone so it was hard to pay attention. I’m not sure I could recommend this to anyone as it needed serious reediting and proofing.

ARC Review: More Than Just A Pretty Face

More Than Just a Pretty Face

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

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this debut novel in my mailbox and immediately started it. It was a fun contemp romance read with culture, race, and religion themes. Do not be fooled, there is also a serious tone to the story. I cannot speak to the the representation of the Muslim culture/religion/race, but I can speak to the overall description of the main characters. That being said, I did not enjoy how the MC was described as being so good looking but not the smartest. It gave the impression that really attractive people are not smart. That did not jive well with me. Honestly, there was not much about Danyal that I liked. He was portrayed as an incredibly conceited character and I don’t like that at all. He had a somewhat believable character arc and I disliked him less by the end of the story. I did enjoy Bisma’s character and felt like I wanted to be friends with her in real life. I enjoyed reading the interaction between her and Danyal. Their innocent romance was fun to read.

The writing itself was well done. This was a quick read with a good pace but I did find that I was truly involved in what was happening until over halfway through. It should not take that long for a story to hook me as a reader. I didn’t ever feel like stopping and putting this one down, but it stood out how long it took me to really become engaged with this.

Do I recommend this? Yes, I do. I believe a lot of readers will love this. Sadly it was just an okay read for me. Maybe I wasn’t the right reader for this story but I’m happy I gave it a chance.

ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)

**I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion**

Holy Goddess. Be still my wicked heart.

This book was delicious from start to finish. There was so much I fell for in this one. Ok, let’s be real. I fell for everything in this story. The chemistry between a witch (Emilia) and a demon (Wrath) was sizzling and I found myself needing to take breaks to fan myself. Holy Hell. Emilia and Wrath were … for the lack of a better word … PERFECT. Emilia, with her strong connection and dedication to her twin, her family, her beliefs, her talents, her magic, her commitments, her determination, her self confidence was intense, powerful, and dazzling. Match that against one of the Seven Princes of Hell, Wrath, and you’ve got a spark waiting to ignite in the best way possible. These two characters were flawed, don’t think they were without faults, but that made them more believable. I was addicted to them and wanted more.

The history Maniscalco peppered into this story was exceptional. The way she wove magical tales that were supposed to be just ghost stories but turned out to be more, were nothing short of genius. That lead to the world building being remarkable. It was so lush, so engrossing, so realistic that I felt I was right there with Emilia on her quest. Several times I thought I could smell the moss on the walls or the vendor carts in their stalls. Maniscalco has a gift and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

This was a fast paced magical thriller that I devoured. I was thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and that’s rare. I wanted to take my time with this as I didn’t want it to be over too quickly, but once I started reading I couldn’t stop. Everything around my disappeared and I neglected everything I was supposed to do ( I have no regrets).

This book comes out soon and I know you’ve already preordered it or request from your library, but if you haven’t make sure to find a way to get your hands on it. You will not be sorry.

Review: Rated

Rated

Anyone who knows me as a readers knows that I live for a good futuristic/dystopian story. The synopsis of this story alone checked those boxes. A society where anyone can affect your user rating and everything about you is tied to that rating might be closer than we think. It also sounded exactly like what I needed in my life, which is why I snagged a copy to devour. Well… what I read didn’t match the expectation I had in my head. While this was a fascinating premise and the world building was rather good, the story line itself fell flat. I kept waiting for the hook of the story to happen and sadly I had to wait until almost the very end of the story for it to present itself. The rest of the time I sat through so many characters being introduced. So. Many. Characters. Should they all have been there and given their own voices? No, they shouldn’t have. Having that many POV voices did not add to the story. I struggled to keep them all straight, most of the time wondering if I even needed to keep them all straight.

Grey certainly knows how to properly world build so I will not ever say she cannot do that. What she struggled with here was developing her characters and giving them arcs. One character was an anorexic figure skater and there was too much attention given to those things about her, but they did not have anything to do with the overall story. The topic of anorexia was also not discussed or addressed at all and that really bothered me. Another character was good at hacking, and another was good at studying. Whoopie. They were just boring, flat, one-dimensional characters. I felt nothing for them.

Am I upset I read this? Upset is strong but I’m disappointed in what I read. The ending was a total let down as nothing was revealed until the last few pages of the book. I do not like when that happens because it just feels like the author phoned in the end of the book. If this is a series I will not continue. I don’t care enough to find out what happens next.

DNF Review: Crave

Crave (Crave, #1)

This may be a quick review as I DNFd this book early into the story. I listened to the audio and I’m here to say the narrator was all kinds of wrong for this story. The bad voice mixed with horrid instalove and over the top cheesy writing made me quick this with no regrets.

If you do opt to read this story, set up for a long spell because the book is massive. Is it packed full of great backstory, intriguing characters, and a captivating plot? Yeah, no. There is a lot of time (meaning pages/chapters) where there is nothing happening. I do not ever need or want to read multiple paragraphs/pages/chapters that describe in minute detail what is hanging on the walls, what the hallway rugs look like, or how perfectly a hemmed skirt fits. I am positive that if all of the unnecessary fluff was removed, this book would drop by 1/3, easily. Plus, it might make the story a wee bit more interesting.

Nothing about this story felt original or even remotely interesting, unless you’re in the mood for a lot of adult swearing and even more erotic scenes. (I’m not kidding.) Girl has tragic event happen that causes her to be uprooted to middle of nowhere (think Pacific NorthWest region of the US) where she runs into supermodel hot boy. Supermodel hot boy finds girl attractive but girl has the “I’m a nobody” mentality but is really a stone-cold hottie is one that gets old fast. I am not going to give exact details because it’s not necessary. If you’ve read one cheesy YA vamp story, you’ve read this one, except the vamp doesn’t sparkle. Pity.

Crave was supposed to be the new, reimagined Twilight but it wasn’t. It fell short of its promises. Stick with the original and reread Twilight. At least that story had some sort of substance to it and that’s saying something.

ARC Review: Winter, White and Wicked

I receive an eArc from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

First, that cover. Holy smokes it is stunning and it is what caught my eye. Second, the premise. While I’ve never seen Frozen (I will probably go to my grave no having seen that movie…), the promise of a Mad Max: Fury Road story is what sold me. How has there not been a story with this type of set up done? Maybe it has been and I’ve overlooked it, who knows, but what I do know is this story was phenomenal.

I was afraid I would struggle with this one as it’s a fantasy but it was brilliantly done. This story held nothing back as it was non-stop action from the very start. Full of complex characters, mythical creatures, ancient legends, mysterious secrets, and a lush magical world, this story was the entire package.

I want to talk about so many things that happened in this one as I enjoyed it so much, but I promise I won’t spoil anything. In one last ditch effort to hook you on wanting to read this powerhouse, I’ll leave you with these thoughts: some people are made of stone, some people can control Winter, Winter is a vicious foe, battle ready wolves, monsters that make themselves out of random body parts, and a flower that becomes addictive when burned and it drifts through the air. Curious yet? This author was far more morbid than I realized and I loved it. I absolutely enjoyed ever single second of this thrill ride. I cannot wait to read the next book.

Review: The Winter Duke

The Winter Duke

This story was captivating. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I felt as if everything was very well done – the world building, the character development, the pacing, all of it. The world building and the magic within this dukedom stood out the most to me. I was surprised that magic did not have a bigger role to play in this world but it was added in just enough to make the read that much more enjoyable. Image, a world of ice ruled by a family who alone hold the secret over how to use magic. Genius.

I also enjoyed the LGBT romance within this story. It was refreshing to read story in which the characters live in a world where gender/sexuality do not define a person. If the Duke (who happened to be a female in this story) wanted to be with/engaged to a man or woman, so be it. Nobody batted an eye. Marvelous.

The mystery found within the pages was very well developed and executed. I was tearing through this trying to figure out who put the family to sleep. Just when I thought I figured it out, I was wrong. I had a delightful time trying to figure out all out! The danger, the romance, the action, the challenges, all of it was so well done that I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Review: Valley Girls

Valley Girls

I went into this neutral and unsure of what would happen. I didn’t read any reviews so I could have a blank mental slate. That was probably the best thing because nearly all readers are split on this one. Some liked it, others did not. This will be a “either you love it or you won’t” type book. I am here to say I am on the did not enjoy it side.

I almost DNFd this book in the first 100 pages because I was bored. The plot was painfully slow and the characters were just as boring. Setting up the story is one thing, but going on about nothing at all is something else. The MC, Rilla, was moved to a state where outdoor adventures are a way of life , yet she doesn’t do any of that? She doesn’t rock climb or hike? Then why does she make friends with a group that loves to rock climb? I get that it was probably for a character arc but it came across cheesy and painfully predictable.

Sadly there were not a lot of redeeming qualities to this one. In the end it was not for me. The entire story was heavily laden with technical jargon for rocking climbing, most of which made zero sense. I did not read this to learn how to rock climb, I wanted to read a coming of age story. The ending was so rushed that it felt forced and written as an afterthought. I wish I had DNFd because this did not get better and I would not recommend to anyone.

Review: Neverworld Wake

Neverworld Wake

I had such high hopes for this one but it did not live up to the hype. The cover is stunning but it does not properly reflect the hot mess that is found between the covers. While this is primarily a thriller/mystery book, it has some sci-fi aspects. I’m usually good with that, heck I’m usually excited for an addition like that, but it was just not done properly.

The main reason I did not DNF this and move on was because I wanted… no, I needed to know about Jim’s death. I kept turning the pages in the hopes of reading a delicious reveal but alas, it was a massive let down. It was unexpected, disappointing, and confusing. It made zero sense. It read like a cop-out, like it was added as an after thought. I almost did not want to finish the book but I was already 280 pages into a 320 page book, what else did I have to lose?

I would talk about the characters and how flat they felt, but this was more of a plot driven story so it would be a moot point. The characters had too many secondary story lines happening so it was all over the place. It felt as if maybe this story didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up.

Review: Goddess in the Machine

Goddess in the Machine (Goddess in the Machine, #1)

Like so many other readers, I was excited for this one. I had it as one of my most anticipated releases and could hardly contain my excitement! Sadly, this failed to deliver for me. I struggled to stay interested in what was going on for several reasons, the biggest being the made up language. That bothered me more than anything because it felt as if it brought the entire story down. The pacing slow down to a crawl and nothing the people said made sense. I shouldn’t have to fight so hard to figure out what is being said.

If it wasn’t the strain to figure out the people are saying, it was the main character constantly repeating herself. Andra was a tough character to get behind. I wanted to rally behind her but she didn’t make it easy. She constantly reminded the reader that she was a “fat” biracial character but never dove into what that meant or how it was truly relevant to the story. She was always fat-shaming herself but never had the character arc that turned her size into something positive, it was always negative for her. For all I knew she had a mental illness, like BDD, that caused her to see herself differently than how others see her. I was never given the backstory on where the label came from and that was frustrating.

The premise of the story itself was enticing but the delivery was expected. I saw the ending coming a mile away so I wasn’t surprised. I struggled too much with this first book to say if I will pick up the second or not. It’s sad because the cover is so striking.