Friday, July 29, 2016

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined by Amy Tinera
355 pages
(Published by Harper Teen)

Plot: When Emelina Flores' parents are brutally murdered and her sister Olivia taken away by the King of Lera, she plots revenge.  The King of Lera fears the magic powers of the Ruined people and will stop at nothing until every last one of them is dead. Unfortunately, not all Ruined are born with magic, and Em is one of those powerless few - even though her mother was a very powerful Queen. But, with the help of her Ruined friends, Aren and Damien, Em comes up with a plan to infiltrate the Lera throne by marrying Prince Casimir.  Pretending to be a princess from another kingdom, Em, along with Aren, have successfully tricked the Lera royals.  But, Prince Casimir is not what Em expected him to be, and the more time she spends with him she realizes he's nothing like his father.  Falling for the prince was not part of the plan, but everything Em holds dear rides on her playing her part.  Em must choose between her people and her love, but either one is deadly.

Review:  Ruined by Amy Tintera was one of the best books I've read so far this summer.  It's right up there with the Winner's Curse series by Marie Rutkoski.  Tintera does a great job bringing Em's world to life and she has you really caring for the characters.  I enjoyed the gradual relationship between Em and Cas. It was very believable since Em had a lot of tragedy and anger to deal with.  I also enjoyed the POV switch between Em and Cas throughout the story.  It gives the readers a lot of insight as to why certain characters act the way they do.  I'm very curious as to the extent of the Ruined powers.  Tintera gave us just a taste of it with Aren and Olivia. There is a lot at stake for Em and Cas with all the bad blood between Lera and the Ruined, so it's hard to see how they would ever be able to continue their relationship.  A fast-paced, and exciting read I just couldn't put down until the last nail-biting page! Recommended for ages 13 and up.
Rating:  5 out of 5 stars! A Must Read!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lazy Crafternoon by Stella Fields

Lazy Crafternoon by Stella Fields
128 Pages
(Published by Capstone for Young Readers)

Review: Lazy Crafternoon by Stella Fields is the perfect craft book for easy DIY maker-spaces for libraries, or for spending time with your kids creating fun projects at home!  I was pleasantly surprised at all the different craft ideas that were not just creative, but easy to do!  From lamp shades to flower pots and from birdhouses to school supplies!  There is so much to choose from that you will definitely find a project to enjoy every afternoon!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dream Casters: Light by Adrienne Woods

 Dream Casters: Light by Adrienne Woods
436 Pages
(Published by Fire Quill Publishers)

*I received a DRC of this book for an honest review.

Plot: 17 year-old Chastity "Chas" Blake was your normal teenager until one day golden sand started coming out of her hands.  She soon finds out from her mother that she is a Dream Caster.  A being who can not only control dreams, but also create anything she wants from the sand she wields.  But, although her father was a Light Caster, her mother is a Shadow Caster.  Which means, light and dark sand can flow through Chas' hand and it's up to her to choose.  But, being a Shadow Caster means you cast nightmares and not dreams.  And, you don't get to live in the beautiful Light Caster's realm of Revera. So, Chas' mother doesn't want her to be like her because then she will be sent to Oblivion - a place of horrendous nightmares.  When Light Casters find out about Chas, they want to take her to Revera.  But, this means she will be taken away from her mother and that's not something she wants.  

So, Chas' mother comes up with a plan to hide her Shadow Caster heritage, but when she is taken to Revera she is afraid to show her sand because she doesn't know if it will be gold or black.  With the help of Leigh, a mysterious boy from the virtual realm of Revera, Chas is trying to figure out a way to stay out of Oblivion and reconnect with her mother.  But, keeping her Shadow Caster secret is not her only problem. Shadow Casters are looking for Chas and after a few attacks, Chas' presence is starting to raise suspicion among Revera's leaders. Chas' only hope is to hide her dark side by not using her sand.  But, when the world of Revera is threatened to the point of extinction, Chas will have to decide if the life of her friends is worth being exiled to Oblivion forever.

Review: Dream Casters by Adrienne Woods is a very imaginative and interesting story where dreams and nightmares have their own worlds - literally!  I loved the concept of Chastity being a combination of both Shadow and Light.  The backstory of how Revera and Oblivion came to be was a little confusing, but the reader will still be able to get the gist of it.  It will be interesting to see the relationship of Chas and Leigh in the second book.  He is real in the virtual realm, but not in Chastity's world.  So, she mostly sees him in her dreams or when she enters the virtual realm.  I am looking forward to the next book, which should give us more answers as to Chastity's Shadow Caster heritage, what happened to her mother, and Chastity's unique powers. Great start to a new series!  Recommend 13 and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista

No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista
228 pages
(Published by Swoon Reads)

Plot: Caleb has one rule about relationships - Do not fall in love.  When his last girlfriend breaks his number one rule he dumps her.   However, he didn't know that his now ex-girlfriend is the daughter of his father's most wealthiest client.  Not wanting his gap year vacation to Europe taken away, Caleb has to work as an unpaid intern at his father's law firm and attend all their events and parties.  Now, Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend to help him uphold all his obligations.  He also needs someone to help keep the match-making mothers of his family's social circles at bay.  Didi Alexander, a recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, doesn't want to have a boring summer and is more than happy to be Caleb's fake girlfriend.  In return, she gets to enjoy parties and wear pretty new clothes.  And pretending to be a gorgeous, rich boy's girlfriend doesn't sound so bad either! But, Caleb makes it clear to Didi that she must not fall in love.  The only problem is, Caleb is having way too much fun with Didi and he can't stop thinking about her.  Soon, Caleb is the one who finds himself in trouble of breaking his own rule!

Review: No Love Allowed was a fun summer read! I really enjoyed Caleb and Didi's characters and how their relationship grew throughout the story. Evangelista added a good mix of romance and humor that really made this book hard to put down.  I liked that Didi and Caleb both had their issues and it was interesting to see how they dealt with them.  Caleb with his family issues and Didi with her health and financial troubles.  I also enjoyed how Didi always remained true to herself, even though her life had a lot of ups and downs. The other characters in the story, especially Caleb's cousin Nathan, were funny and really made Didi's experiences with Caleb even more entertaining. Recommend for readers 13 and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Girl of Myth and Legend by Giselle Simlett

Girl of Myth and Legend  by Gisselle Smilett
346 Pages
(Published by WWS Publishing, Ltd.)
*I was given a DRC (Digital Reader Copy for an honest review

Plot: On her 16th birthday, Leonie Wooville finds out that she is a Chosen, a being from another dimension.   Not only is she a Chosen, she is also a Pulsar.  But, Pulsars have been extinct for over 200 years in the Chosen's world of Duwyn.  Pulsars are the most valued beings in Duwyn because they have the most power.   But, Leonie was never told about her heritage by her parents and she doesn't know how to use her powers.  But Chosen people are not allowed to live in the human realm and so she is forced to travel to Duwyn.

All Chosen are assigned a Kytaen, an immortal being whose sole purpose is to protect the Chosen it is bonded too.  Soon, Leonie is bonded to Korren, a Kytaen who can shape shift into a hideous beast or a beautiful boy. But, Korren has been around for thousands of years and the last time he was forced to protect a Pulsar was 200 years ago.  He hates that Kytaen are considered slaves to the Chosen.  He especially hates the leaders of Duwyn who treat his kind as if they are less than animals.  But, Leonie has a lot to learn about her role as a Pulsar, and desperately needs a friend to help understands her role in Duwyn.  But, Korren is determined to make the Chosen pay for what they have done to his kind for centuries. Yet, he is not prepared for Leonie, the girl from the human realm who treats him like her equal.  A girl who he so passionately wants to hate, but it's not as easy as he thought it would be. And the Kytaen are not the only ones with a reason to hate the Chosen and especially the Pulsar. There is a group of Duwyn rebels that want Leonie too.  The question is: What do they want her for, and how far are they willing to go to get her? 

Review: Girl of Myth and Legend was a very interesting read.  It did start off a little slow, but mainly due to world building. I think Leonie's character was a good portrayal of a teenager from a broken home and no friends. She had a lot of emotional ups and downs, which would make sense due to what she was dealing with. The story was pretty fast paced and action packed once Leonie got to Duwyn.  Korren was a well developed character with his tragic and mysterious past.  Simlett does a good job letting us see the two main characters through their own POVs, which I really enjoy in stories.

I did have trouble remembering the names of the characters and everything in Duwyn, so it was a bit confusing.  There were lots of characters with different roles, and each role had it's own name too.  You don't get to see Leonie's powers at all in this book, which I was hoping for towards the end. So, I'm hoping book 2 will reveal that.  I also wanted to see more of a connection between Leonie and Korren.  It's there, but very subtle.  I'm not sure how Korren really feels about Leonie.  He does fight his emotions a lot when it comes to her. So, although I would have liked to see his heart melt a little more, his past makes it easy to see why he wouldn't take to her for a while.  Very curious to see what happens in book 2! There were a lot of questions left unanswered, but I know it's to set up the next book. Looking forward to it!! Recommend for 13+ and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Ansty

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey
344 pages
(Published by Swoon Reads)

Plot: When Miss Juliana Telford agrees to attend the Season with her cousin
Carrie, she did not intended to go on the husband hunt.  Instead, she would use her time in London to find a publisher for her and her father's research on the "lady beetle." Little did she know that safeguarding her heart would be more difficult than she initially thought.

Spencer Northam has no time for relationships, and especially no time for parties with The Ton and their silly marriage mart games once the Season begins.  However, his work at the war office has put this handsome bachelor directly in the center of what he wants to avoid.  Finding spies for the French has lead him in the company of Miss Juliana Telford, and somehow Spencer has to keep reminding himself that he has no time for relationships, and especially no time for love.

Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey is a must read for any Jane Austen fan!  I completely adored this book.  Juliana and Spencer are both very likable characters and you cheer for them right from the beginning. Juliana is smart, good-hearted, but spunky too.  She is not one to be walked all over or fall for devious plots.  Spencer is the perfect gentleman and tries his best to balance his job, all while keeping a close eye on Juliana.  All for work purposes, of course.  Anstey has adds the perfect balance or humor and intrigue to keep the reading wanting to know what will happen next.  The story also alternates between Juliana and Spencer's POV, which I really enjoy in storytelling.  It gives the reader a better opportunity to get to know the main characters much better.  Recommended for 13+ and up.  A clean read.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars