Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston


The Valiant
by Lesley Livingston
384 pages
Published by Razorbill Feb. 2017

Plot: Princess. Captive. Gladiator. Always a Warrior. 
 
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary fighter Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed by the armies of Julius Caesar. 
 
On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.
 
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival. 
 
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy (Amazon, 2018).



Review: Fallon, the daughter of a Celtic king is captured and sold as a slave to Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar.  She becomes a female gladiator and has to fight in the arena for survival. It’s a brutal and unforgiving life, but she’s been training since she was a child to become the famed warrior her older sister Sorcha once was.  So, becoming a gladiatrix is not difficult for Fallon to grow accustomed to. But, life as a warrior slave in the Ludus Achillea is not how she envisioned her future. With the advice of some unexpected allies, Fallon learns she can earn her freedom by performing well in the arena and winning the admiration of the crowd.  

During this time she meets Caius Varro, the son of a wealthy senator, and her and Cai develop a forbidden romance.  There is not a lot of interaction between Fallon and Cai, so falling in love was slightly unrealistic. I would say it was more falling in lust than love.  I did enjoy the plot overall. It was an interesting story-line with the gladiator warrior being a female. I would have liked to have seen more interaction between Cai and Fallon, and maybe that will happen more in book 2.  The only part of the story that didn’t make any sense to me was the ending. Obviously, there is going to be some sort of cliffhanger because it is a series, but the ending was not realistic in my opinion. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but a decision that Fallon makes is very surprising.

Rating: 3 Hearts!
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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Lone Star Book Blogger's Tour: The Edge of Over There by Shawn Smucker ***ENTER GIVEAWAY***

THE EDGE OF OVER THERE
The Day the Angels Fell (Book 2)
by SHAWN SMUCKER
  Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: July 3, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

Scroll down for Giveaway!

The captivating sequel to the award-winning The Day the Angels Fell

Abra Miller carries a secret and a responsibility she never expected. 
Before the Tree of Life, everything in Abra Miller’s life had been predictable. Safe. Normal. But after the Tree, everything has felt fragile . . . like holding a soap bubble in the palm of her hand. After years of fruitless searching for the next Tree, she begins to wonder if it was nothing more than a vivid dream.
Now sixteen, Abra finds a clue to the whereabouts of the next Tree of Life when an ominous woman—who looks exactly like a ghost from her past—compels her to travel to New Orleans where she’ll find one of seven gateways between this world and Over There. But she’s not the only one interested in finding the gateway. There’s also a young man searching for his father and sister, who escaped through it years before. As Abra enters the Edge of Over There and begins her pursuit of the Tree once more, she doesn’t know whom to fear or whom to trust. She’s also starting to think that some doorways should never be opened.



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Shawn Smucker’s Top Ten Favorite Candies
I am a self-proclaimed candy expert, and I have the cavity history to prove it. You may notice the lack of chocolate candy on my list, but I’m just not a big chocolate fan.  I like it, but not as much as the fruity, chewy, pull the teeth from your mouth variety.  I have no idea where this sweet tooth came from, but the following are my top ten favorite kinds of candy:
10) Gigantic Jawbreakers – there were many different types of candy vying for this tenth spot, I’ll be honest.  And I’ll also tell you that Gigantic Jawbreakers are not my personal favorite . . . but when I was young my even younger sister got one of these stuck in her mouth, and ever since then I’ve had a special place in my heart for them (sorry, Shar, if this happened again, now that we’re older, I wouldn’t just put my hand over my mouth and point . . . and laugh . . . I’d try to help remove it).
9) Pop Rocks – I still remember the first time I tried these, at a roller skating rink when I was about 10, and the explosions they made in my mouth had me hooked, if not for their flavor then their similarity to firecrackers.
8) Sour Patch Kids – I also remember the first time I tried Sour Patch Kids: the sourness caused my whole mouth to suck in on itself until I looked like one of the Dementors from Harry Potter.  It was awesome.
7) Blow Pops – Candy?  Good.  Gum?  Good.  Blow Pops?  Good.
6) Nerds – who named these, and what were they thinking?  Somehow this candy overcame one of the dumbest names of all time, of any product, to make my candy hall of fame. 
5) Sweet Tarts – one of my old stand-by favorites.  Once I open the pack I cannot rest until I have devoured each and every piece.
4) Skittles – when Maile and I went on our honeymoon we had a long drive to make, something in the realm of 14 hours, and on the trip, we would eat Skittles without looking at them and try to guess the flavor.  I think we got through 8 or 9 packs.  To this day, Maile will not eat Skittles.  The fact that this excess had no negative impact on my sweet tooth, or my desire for Skittles, will tell you a lot about the depraved level to which I have fallen.
3) Swedish Fish – so many varieties: small, large, grape, orange, lemon, cherry . . . but in junior high I would go to the soccer games and buy the small versions at the snack shop for one penny each.  Do I sound like a grandfather? 
2) Sour Skittles – these would have made number one except recently I ate an entire pack on a long drive and sort of burnt my tongue on the sourness. 
1) Now N Laters – as I look over the rankings, I’m beginning to realize that the higher the ranking the more detrimental that particular candy is to tooth structure.  Now N Laters personally sucked at least 2 fillings from my teeth at various points in my life.  Because of this I boycotted them for about ten years.  But I’ve returned to eating them recently, and they’re better than ever.
So, what did I miss?




Praise for The Edge of Over There: “Blending Biblical elements and urban myths, Smucker creates an enthralling story of supernatural battles between the forces of good and evil.” -- Publishers Weekly “The Edge of Over There is a mesmerizing, menacing fantasy. Shawn Smucker fuses New Orleans lore, Christian themes, and dystopian landscapes in a thorough exploration of love and its unintended results.” -- Foreword Reviews (Starred Review) 




Shawn Smucker is the author of The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There. He lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him on his website, where you can also sign up for his newsletter in order to find out when and where the Tree of Life will turn up next.
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***GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!***

GRAND PRIZE
Both Books in the The Day the Angels Fell series + Color Changing Tree Mug + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card 

2ND PRIZE: 
Both Books + Tree of Life Journal 

3RD PRIZE:
Both Books + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

(US ONLY)
  July 17-26, 2018

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
7/17/18
Author Interview
7/17/18
Book Trailer
7/18/18
Excerpt
7/19/18
Review
7/20/18
Review
7/21/18
Top 10 List
7/22/18
Notable Quotable
7/23/18
Author Interview
7/24/18
Review
7/25/18
Guest Post
7/26/18
Review


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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga


Kiss of the Royal
by Lindsey Duga
400 pages
Published by Entangled Teen
July 2018

Plot: In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that (Goodreads, 2018).



Review: First of all, I love the cover of this book!  Very striking and eye catching.  The plot to the story was an interesting concept - a magical kiss between royals to fight evil in the land.  In the beginning you learn that Princess Ivy's kisses are the strongest and so they want to pair her with a strong prince.  Unfortunately, so many princes have died that there are few pure bloods left.  That's where prince Zach comes in.  He is only half royal, but his fighting skills are unsurpassed and he is their best choice for Ivy.  

Even though Zach's father was a Royal, his mother was a "Romantica" (a group of people who believe in love).  The Royals do not believe in love, only lust.  So, Romanticas are considered heretics and outcasts.  But, desperate times call for desperate measures and they don't have any other options but to partner Ivy with Zach.  At this point, Ivy doesn't care as long as Zach is strong and skilled. Together, they must find a dragon egg before it hatches because then they'll all really be in trouble.  

But, what Ivy and the rest of the Royals don't know is that Zach has no intention of kissing Ivy.  He is a Romantica like his mother and it's not until they leave to find the egg that Ivy realizes this.  Zach's kisses mean something to him, and he will not be kissing Ivy just because.

However, there is another reason why Zach won't let Ivy kiss him and use her magic.  But, he's going to have a hard time convincing her because it threatens to destroy everything Ivy  has been taught her entire life.

Overall, I did enjoy the story because it was unique and interesting.  I did like the connection between Ivy and Zach.  Some may feel that Zach falls in love with Ivy a little too quickly, but it really can't take too long since this is a standalone book. Recommended for readers 13 and up and if you like story's about the power of true love and true love's kiss!   

*Received a DRC for an honest review

Rating: 3.5 Hearts!
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