The Jane Austen/X-Men Crossover Continues | These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas [ARC]

These Ruthless DeedsEvelyn is still trying to cope with the loss of her sister and the discovery of her healing powers. The last thing she needs is for the Society of Aberrations to barge into her life once again. When they give her the opportunity to help people with her power, however, Evelyn knows that’s what Rose would have wanted her to do. But even though she’s joined the society, Evelyn still doesn’t trust them. There are some things that don’t quite add up. Like, who exactly is the head of the Society? And why are some people with powers being locked up for no good reason?

I really liked the first book in this series (see my review for it here) but in this book I had a really hard time remembering characters from the previous book. I think that may be a sign of having a few too many characters and those characters not being very important. The main characters themselves are fine and pretty well-developed. At the very least, they seem like they probably have depth even if that depth is not explored to the fullest (*ahem* Mr. Kent *ahem*). In the last book I was pretty torn between our main character’s two love interests, but in this book I found myself firmly rooting for one in particular. I won’t name names or spoil whether or not Evelyn ends up with him though. As I said in my previous review, I hate love triangles, but this one was okay. Not GREAT, but okay.

The plot fit together really nicely. I remember from the last book I enjoyed that Evelyn had to stop her investigation every once in a while to participate in society. For some reason that just seemed humorous and realistic to me. In this book, there are still some obligations that Evelyn has to meet, but for the most part the book is focused on the other part of her life. This just means that the book is a little more action-packed and mostly occurs at night. Evelyn as a character was pretty much the same as she was in the first book, but I did feel that she made some really annoying decisions at times. Mostly what I wanted from her was just some transparency. It felt like that was really lacking between characters and that always frustrates me to no end.

The last part of the plot was…interesting. It was unpredicted, I’ll say that. I felt that the first book had this really powerful conclusion that I didn’t necessarily agree with, but appreciated nonetheless. But then this book comes in and basically reverses that really powerful conclusion but then it also has its own huge ending. All of that serves to almost cheapen the ending for me. I feel like the third book is going to come along and be like, “JK we’ve actually found out a way for none of that to have happened.” In the end, I guess we’ll just have to see what the next book has in store.

Overall, I really did like this book. I appreciate that the authors aren’t afraid to make big moves. I like the main cast of characters that we have and as I get to know secondary characters, I start to appreciate them more as well. I would definitely recommend this book for people who are fans of both Jane Austen and X-Men.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Prince & Me except not as good | There’s Something About Nik by Sara Hantz [ARC]

There's Something About NikPrince Niklas of Lutgenstadt just wants a chance at living a normal life. As second in line for the throne he doesn’t expect normal treatment all the time, but he just wants to try it for at least a year. His parents reluctantly allow him to enroll in a boarding school in New Hampshire for his junior year of high school where he meets Amber. Last year, Amber was fighting cancer and reeling from the discovery that her boyfriend was cheating on her while she was recovering from treatments in the hospital. This year, Amber plans to focus on applying for a prestigious photography internship by making this year completely boy-free. Then she meets Nik Gustafsson who is as arrogant as he is attractive.

I thought this book started out okay. As characters I wasn’t a big fan of Nik, but I did like Amber quite a bit. I think my deal with Nik is that he seemed unrealistically clueless. I mean, I’ve never been rich, but is it so completely crazy that you have to take your own suitcase to your new dorm room? Then Nik and Amber meet and we’re switching off between narrators and things just started to feel…inconsistent. That’s always a big issue for me–especially in books coming from this publisher. I mean, does no one read these books all the way through to look for that kind of thing before they get published? If not, I am available for hire.

First of the inconsistencies: during his sections, Nik is always hyper-aware and concerned about spilling his secret. But then during Amber’s sections he (seemingly nonchalantly) drops that he’s got servants at home and MULTIPLE DRIVERS to take him wherever he wants to go. Someone who is actively trying to keep their identity secret would not say stuff like that. A second inconsistency that really stood out to me was regarding Amber. She’s supposedly SUPER close to her family but we never once see her brother even though they go to the same boarding school. She tries to explain that away by saying that he’s only in ninth grade so they never see each other, but if her family is so close wouldn’t they eat together or hang out sometimes? And then all this stuff is happening to her and Amber never once even THINKS about calling her parents. Instead, she just turns to Lauren for all life advice. I’ve had roommates that are super close with their parents and let me tell you, they talk to their parents every single day (sometimes multiple times a day) and they tell their parents everything that is happening to them. I understand that, as a reader, we don’t see every aspect of these characters’ lives, but it seems like calling her mom would be a very natural reaction for Amber to have after everything hits the fan.

But anyway, the book is moving along and like I said earlier, I’m not a huge fan of Nik but I like Amber pretty good. Then the big dramatic scene happens and things get really intense between them and Amber’s reaction was just…not good. She compares Nik hiding his true identity from her to her ex-boyfriend Wade cheating on her while she was fighting cancer. She literally says that what Nik did was worse than what Wade did. WHAT??? I mean, of course Nik didn’t tell her who he really was! I don’t feel like he was obligated to tell her even if they’d been dating for two whole weeks. Anyway, the book goes on to place all of the blame squarely on Nik’s shoulders and I just don’t agree with that. Even though I liked Amber better as a character, everything was pretty much her fault and she never owns up to it.

Overall, this book started out pretty good, but then crashed and burned at the end in my opinion. I tend to like the trope where a commoner meets and falls in love with a member of some royal family, but I just felt this one was poorly executed. If you’re looking for something similar, I would recommend reading The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright instead (while still not GREAT, it was at least better than this one).

Overall Rating: 2
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild, some kissing

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Great premise, disappointing execution | Gilded Cage by Vic James [ARC]

Gilded CageIn an alternate world, there are those who are Equals and there are those who are not. Equals rule while non-Equals must donate ten years of their lives to working for them. In one of the factory towns, revolution is in the air–but can they really succeed when they’re fighting against people with such immense powers?

First, I think that’s an awful cover. Despite that, I still thought the book’s premise sounded really promising. It sounded like there was going to be some star-crossed lovers, a revolution from the lower class, and a mysteriously powerful, game-changing person. And the book had all of that, but it all just felt so…bland. I didn’t really care about the characters–I feel like I wasn’t given a reason to care about them. Even though we get to see the story from both Abi and Luke’s perspectives, I don’t feel like I know who they are or what they care about or mostly WHY they care about what they do. I mean, obviously they care about their family, but is that their only motivation to do anything? I don’t know how to explain it…I just didn’t feel a connection there.

The romances and general relationships between characters were strange too. Honestly, it feels like the younger sister has been hypnotized or brainwashed or something. We saw no development in her relationship with the eldest brother (though not romantic in nature, still strange and slightly disturbing). The overall plot is hard to discern and may be more fleshed out in future books, but I’m not personally planning on continuing the series. Mostly I just feel confused. I don’t understand how powers work or what they do (but I guess nobody really does). There’s some weird generational explanation for some stuff, which didn’t really make sense and just seemed super random and more confusing.

I’ve seen so much hype around this book, but it seriously let me down. I didn’t hate it, but the story just felt so uninspired and flat. Too much happened with too little explanation. Despite such a great premise, I’m afraid I have to recommend that you give this one a hard pass.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria [GIVEAWAY]

Iron CastIron Cast
by Destiny Soria
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

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SYNOPSIS: It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

REVIEW: The author starts the book with a note regarding her two main characters. She emphasizes that she really wanted to focus on their relationship as opposed to their individual relationships with the boys they like. I always like a little romance in books, but I really appreciated that the romance wasn’t the sole focus. This book has much more depth to it than that. The thing that I really loved about this book is the interactions between Ada and Corinne. They’re so different and the author does a great job of really portraying them as individuals. Their loyalty to each other is inspiring and I love that the author didn’t have them get into any catty arguments or jealous fights. Their relationship is so much bigger than that.

I loved the atmosphere of this book as well. It’s set in a Boston winter shortly before Prohibition is passed. This book makes Boston seem like this really magical and atmospheric city and I think it was the perfect setting for this story. The magic was also very intriguing to me though I don’t think it was explained very well. What exactly is hemopathy? Why does iron effect hemopaths? And how do they get their powers? What determines what kind of powers they have? Even with all of these questions, I like how wordsmiths and songsmiths have their powers so closely tied to emotion. On the other hand thespians and whatever Saint’s hemopathy is called don’t really seem to tie-in. While I like all of the different skills, it seems like there’s a disconnect. The four “powers” don’t really seem to connect to each other. That being said, they’re all extremely cool.

Overall I really enjoyed this book even though the plot was pretty slow at the beginning. There’s a lot of background and character development that the reader needs to get first, but once the plot really got going, I was hooked. I’m just so intrigued by this world! I don’t know if the author plans on making it a series, but I would love to read another book featuring these characters!

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild



Destiny SoriaABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Destiny Soria writes Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel, IRON CAST, will be published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2016.

Destiny lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Mini-Reviews: In Which I Review Some Average Books

The month of July was a struggle for me reading-wise. I was just so busy with schoolwork and such that I really didn’t have long stretches of time to dedicate to reading. That being said, I was also reading a string of average books that didn’t particularly make me want to read faster. Here are some of those books that I was reading.

The Walled CityThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
This one had been on my list for a while and my husband had already read it and loved it. This book took me longer than expected to read and I think that’s because I didn’t really feel particularly connected to the characters. I loved the setting and the way that the streets and the Walled City itself is described, but the characters were a little lacking for me. I didn’t feel like they had all that much depth. I could sympathize with the characters, but towards the end of the book when the plot was most suspenseful I didn’t feel myself agonizing over whether or not the characters would make it (as I did during Winter by Marissa Meyers). One thing I did really like about this book is that it features Asian characters. In the end, I liked this book and I might even read it again someday, but it was no Wolf by Wolf.

Overall: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate


The Lie TreeThe Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge [ARC]
Throughout this book I felt vaguely uncomfortable. The main character’s dad seriously creeped me out and a lot of the other characters were either creepy, unlikable, or both. The main character was fine, but I found it hard to sympathize with her because of how willfully blind she is to all of her father’s faults. She’s so committed to him when he’s obviously not a good guy. I did like her relationship with her little brother, Howard, though. I could not handle her mom and Uncle Miles was just another creepy character. It wasn’t exactly clear to me, at first, how the plant was supposed to work. This made some parts of the book just really confusing to me. I did like seeing the planning and plotting that went into each lie, though–that part of the plot was enjoyable. I also can’t say that I saw the ending coming.

Overall: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild


Loser/QueenLoser/Queen by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Overall, I thought this book had a pretty interesting premise even if it’s not altogether believable. There are so many questions that could be asked…like how does someone know everyone’s secrets? How can someone text you from a number that doesn’t work? Why isn’t the main character creeped out that someone seems to be spying on her all the time? Our main character is somewhat unbelievably naive about things which made the book less enjoyable for me to read. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would react in this situation and I think that I would have refused to do anything that could have been remotely harmful–I’m not really sure why she thought it was a good idea to go through with some of these things. I don’t want to have any spoilers, but if she hadn’t done anything questionable then some stuff wouldn’t have happened later… In the end, the book was okay, kind of sweet, but overall just okay.

Overall: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


9781619634961Poppy by Mary Hooper [ARC]
I felt like this book was a really good portrait of what it would have been like to live through WWI. A lot of the time WWII gets all of the attention, so I did appreciate reading a book set during WWI. I also liked that our main character seems to be intelligent and wants to help the war effort. However, she didn’t have much depth. The book is very much about the things that are going on and less about who the characters are–I guess I was just expecting it to be a little different. I also didn’t really thing there was much of a plot which kind of made the book drag a little bit. So yeah…this one was just another okay book. I thought it ended in a really weird place too–super sudden. I understand that there’s going to be another book, but still… It was just like *BAM* the book’s over.

Overall: 3
Language: None
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


Note: ARCS were received free from NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

BLOG TOUR: Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker [GIVEAWAY]

Smash and GrabSmash & Grab
by Amy Christine Parker
Release Date: July 19th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

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SYNOPSIS:
Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story.Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful….

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.

REVIEW: There were some things that I really liked about this book and then some things that I didn’t like as much. First, I liked that Lexi and Christian were from different walks of life. There was a little bit of stereotyping that happened, but it wasn’t a lot and I thought that was really refreshing. I also (overall) liked the friend groups that they had though I wish the secondary characters had been developed a little bit more. Our two main characters are definitely the stars and they tend to outshine their backup crew–I kept confusing who was who.

The setting was supposed to be LA, but I kept imagining everything going down in New York. I’m not sure if that’s really the book’s issue though…I think it might just be me. I’m also going to put it out there that this book is not going to seem very realistic–at least to me it didn’t. These teenagers are way more skilled than I think they should be, all things considered. Also, I’m not exactly that happy with the casual way the book treated breaking the law. Sure, the characters had some conflict, but the conflict didn’t really seem genuine to me and I’m not sure how I felt about the ending. Obviously I didn’t want anything bad to happen to our characters, but it left me feeling like they got off without any kind of consequences. Like it’s just that easy to break the law and then nothing will happen to you.

Overall, I thought this book was a pretty good heist book–if you’re into that kind of thing, I think you’ll enjoy the planning that goes on in this book. I liked switching perspectives between Lexi and Christian as well so that the reader can get both sides of the story.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild (a minor character is an alcoholic)
Sexual Content: Mild


giveaway (1)

Click on the picture above to be taken to the giveaway!


Amy ChristineABOUT THE AUTHOR:
AMY CHRISTINE PARKER writes full-time from
her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat. Visit her at amychristineparker.com and follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.

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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Thieves Attempt to Overthrow an Evil Government | Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

V51e2b7v-pdyl-_sy344_bo1204203200_in is lucky to be part of a crew instead of in one of the whore houses–even if her crew mates are abusive at times. Her whole life is changed when Kelsier walks through the door. Kelsier is Mistborn and claims that Vin is too. The Mistborn have a special ability to burn metals which give them special powers. Vin immediately takes to these powers, which are called Allomancy, and Kelsier asks her to join his crew on a very special job–to overthrow the Lord Ruler along with his Obligators and Inquisitors. Vin doesn’t believe this can be done, but she’s eager to learn more about Allomancy and wants to see how Kelsier’s plan will play out.

This book has been on my radar for a while now, but it took a book club to get me to actually read it. The size itself is pretty daunting (the book is 600+ pages) and as I started reading the book I felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm. I liked the story fine, but I just felt like a fish out of water–I don’t really read much heavy fantasy, I try to stick to YA. I felt overwhelmed at first by this new world and the magic and keeping the metals straight and all of the different characters. That being said, 600 pages later I still have trouble remembering what each of the metals do, but I have the characters down and feel like I have a better understanding of the world and Allomancy in general. I do want to read the next two books…but it might be a little while. These books are LONG and take some commitment.

Getting into the plot itself, I thought the pacing could have been a little quicker, but it wasn’t bad. I appreciated that the entire “job” is supposed to be completed over the course of a year. A lot of times I feel like authors rush the timeline, but I thought Sanderson did a really great job of having a reasonable timeline while keeping the story moving. The world was interesting, but I admit to not really getting it. The world itself doesn’t play that big of a role in this book, but I feel like it’ll play a bigger role in the next two. Allomancy is a really interesting concept to me and I really liked the scenes where we see how it’s used from Vin or Kelsier’s eyes. However, I don’t really understand the “burning” of metals in one’s stomach–that just seems so weird to me. I also don’t get why it’s an “either you can burn one metal or you can burn them all” kind of thing. That part just seems a little forced to match what the author wants to do with the story. Lastly, I wasn’t very happy when Sanderson introduced a second type of magic into the story. Yeah, I understand why it was necessary for the overall plotline, but I still don’t like it. Let’s just have ONE type of magic in a world at a time, okay?

The characters themselves were interesting. I really liked the cast of secondary characters and I wish that we had gotten to know them a bit deeper–maybe in the next books. Kelsier’s motives were a little hard to understand at times, but in the end I really liked him. Vin, on the other hand, was harder for me to like. I just felt like she kept making these dumb, stubborn decisions. I understand that she’s been raised to expect betrayal and to not trust anyone, but still… I guess her actions may have been consistent with the character that Sanderson was trying to develop, but I had a hard time connecting with her as a reader.

Overall, I thought this book was really intriguing and I’m glad that I read it. Like I said earlier, I plan to get to the other two books…but maybe not right away.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Extreme
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate