Book Review: Rebel Sands

24934065Title: Rebel Sands

Author: Alwyn Hamiltion

Book blurb:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Review:

Alwyn Hamilton did amazing job with the voice in this book. Her heroine, Amani, captured me right away.  She was unique and relatable. She was tough for sure, but she did not fall into the trap of unrealistic YA tough-girl protagonists who can slay any boy down in her path. Amani had her flaws, her uncertainties, and her insecurities. But what made her toughness real is what she used it for–her freedom. This made sense to me, and I rooted for her all the more for it.

I refuse to give any spoilers but the discovery of her later gifts and identity fall perfectly into place. Hamilton has us asking questions and discovering things at just the right time. I love a story that unfolds in such a way that we later look back and realize it was already laid out before us! *Kudos.

Another major thing I loved about Hamilton’s writing were her prose. There was nothing cliche about it! Her use of language, metaphors, and description were so fresh it kept me reading just for that. I’d recommend it to writers just to study how she used new ways of showing and not telling.

As for the plot, it was unpredictable and kept crescendoing until the end. She did not commit the YA sins that I despise, mainly insa-love. The love story was so organic, built on friendship and true appreciation of each other, I loved it. *That said, there was a bit of drama later 🙂

Her setting was super enthralling. It was exotic and rich. Her mythlogy and mixture of religions made her world believable and interesting. As for the way she wrote it, she left a lot explained–it left the reader thinking about and exploring the country and culture like a real tourist. I appreciated the thought I needed to use to put her world together.

Totally recommend this book, and I look forward to reading the sequel, Traitor to the Throne. 

author-nova-mcbeeNova, signing off.

 

Book Review: Doon Series By Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp

BOOK REVIEW

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Title:  Doon Series, (4 books.)  Doon; Destined for Doon; Shades of Doon; and Forever Doon.

Authors: Lorie Langdon & Carey Corp

Goodreads Blurb:

Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the ALan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation.

Review:

I’ve got to be honest. I was hopelessly addicted to this series. So much love for these characters, and their story. It pulled on every string in my heart. The series brims with hope, innocence, adventure, faith, love, power, risk, dreams, truth, and power.

One of the coolest things in the book was the friendship between Veronica and Mackenna, the two protagonists. These best friends surprised me and quickly become my friends too. Lorie and Carey talk about these characters here in an interview I did with them.

Lorie and Carey co-authored the series, which gave them a unique advantage with their characters’ voice. Each MC was so different, so likable, so full of quirks and personality. I loved that the moment one of them spoke, I knew who was speaking. Best of all, Mackenna and Veronica were relatable in every way.

Through the book, and the series, I enjoyed the hilariousness. The musical obsessions. The Shakespeare. The references. The sense that we are made for more. The fantasy. The power of the love calling. And the desire to enter into other realms. I was drawn to Doon just as much as the girls!

And what of the two swoony, Scottish princes, you ask? Jaime and Duncan put on such a good show! They continued to impress or drive you crazy or melt your heart the entire series! **Kudos, ladies.

On world building. For someone who has lived in the UK, spent time in Scotland, and Italy, and around the world, I was smitten with the use of language and culture and setting, and even how in DOON it took on so many other cultures. Guys, it seriously made me want to hop on a plane…and I mean, searching internet prices. 🙂

Now here’s an confession.. the book cover gave me a different idea of what the story might be like. I almost didn’t read it! How silly is that? But we do judge books by their covers…Thank God I kept flipping!!! When I read the first chapter, I was enthralled with the voice of the book.

The plot was fast paced and not predictable. It held my interest the entire series.

In book one, I was drawn more to Veronica and Jaime’s story. When I started book two I didn’t think the plot or their love story could be as good or better…but wow. I was wrong!

Highly recommend this series 🙂

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Book 2: Destined for Doon

Mini Review: LOVED this book.

The love story between Mackenna and Duncan was so different to Jaime and Veronica’s and the plot so vastly new, again, I was so impressed and sucked in. I finished so quickly, it was one of those moments you were happy that you didn’t know about this series until all of them were out so you didn’t have to wait!

 

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Book 3: Shades of Doon.

Mini Review: Again, by this time, you are so invested in the characters that you love doing things with them. This book adventured, and dreamed, and did again, new things! It was one of those books you didn’t want to be over, and Lorie and Carey gave me that in this book.

 

 

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Book 4: Forever Doon

Mini review: Finally, I knew this was the end. The last book. It had better go out with a bang.

Then of course, what we don’t want to happen, happens. But the book does something new yet again and it does not disappoint.

Final word? Read it!

 

author-nova-mcbee

 

Nova, signing off.

Book Review: Soulmated by Shaila Patel

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Title: Soulmated14451292

Author: Shaila Patel

Goodreads Blurb:

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

Review:

First of all, it’s a dual POV, girl-boy. I kind of love those stories. Author Shaila Patel does it so well. Liam and Lucky each have a very distinct voice and personality.  Liam’s Irish accent and assertiveness, Lucky’s gentle charm. Very authentically done.

So, essentially the crescendo of Liam and Lucky’s relationship and their journey is the heart and soul of the book. It is perfectly done, not too fast and not too slow. I adored the way Liam could “read” her so well because of his abilities and I anticipated the development of her gift. At first, I worried about reading another insta-love book, but it was far from that, especially if you consider the impact of finding your royally matched soulmate. *And, wow, finding your soulmate in this book is no small experience! (no spoilers.)

More depth and layers were added by the unraveling of Lucky’s fears and obstacles, and Liam’s secret world; conflict was set up through dangerous rivals; and mystery was established by unexpected help.

On a side note, the sprinkling of Irish and Indian culture and language felt real interesting (obviously, its an OWN voices.) I’m a sucker for all things cultural.

Also, as a writer, I was impressed with Shaila’s giving and withholding of information. It was well delivered (pace-wise) and kept the interest growing– until she reaches her climax, which was….oh so unexpected and left me wanting more!

Looking forward to book 2 🙂

*Note: For sensitive readers, there is strong language.

Review by: Nova McBee

author-nova-mcbee

Book Review: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

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Title: Toward a Secret Sky

Author: Heather Maclean

Publisher: BLINK Harper Collins (This book is NEW. It was released April 4th!)

Goodreads Blurb:

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you

Review:

If you like books like Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake then you will love Toward a Secret Sky. It had so many of the same vibes (and even a character named Gia!) Supernatural – human partnerships, different realms colliding, darkness and light battling, a uniquely gifted girl protagonist thrown into her destiny, and super hot mysterious boys running around with weapons. What’s not to like?

As a writer, I particularly liked the opening chapter. It roped me in with mystery, voice, plot, and premise. Kudos there. For the rest of the story, the pace remained steady. 4180eb4e466b4f7578710dfd86b773a1

The story, being paranormal, had some twists I wasn’t expecting but it was done well. It also dealt with a few dark issues like grief (expected) and date rape (unexpected). There was a bit of the instalove romance between Maren and Gavin, (the two protagonists) considering how many times they had met, but honestly, if I met Gavin, I’m pretty sure the same thing might have happened!

As for setting, Heather Maclean, having married a Scotsman, really does culture well. I really enjoyed the Scottish atmosphere, UK accents, and trips to London. Made me want to hop on a plane to Edinburgh!

All in all, it was a fun, clean read, lovely descriptions, and I think teens everywhere will adore it.

author-nova-mcbee

Review By Nova McBee

Book Review: “You Are Mine” by Janeal Falor

Book Review: YOU ARE MINE

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Title: You Are Mine

Author: Janeal Falor

It sounds so grim. And, in many ways, it is. But this is also a story about hope, healing, and redemption.

Serena was emotionally and verbally abused since childhood. In her world, women had no rights. No voice. Serena was a “mistake”; the first of fifteen mistakes, actually. Her father wanted a son, and so he sold Serena to the highest bidder the moment she was of marriageable age. Because Serena had a lot of magic in her blood, her new owner was a man of prestige and wealth, but he was also just as cruel as her father. However, an unexpected turn of events left her fiancé dead, and Serena unwillingly transferred to the ownership of a foreign barbarian named Zade. A barbarian her father despises, and everyone distrusts. A barbarian who, she slowly realises, is kinder and more humane than any man she has ever met.

Janeal Falor’s “You Are Mine” will take you into a world of brokenness and atrocities hardly imaginable. Yet it is also a journey into hope and inner healing. It will leave you wondering, “How much of this book is based on reality?” And as you ask that question, you may also ask yourself, “Do I have the same courage to help victims like Serena find dignity?”

I picked this book up with a little trepidation, worried that the darkness might be too much. I was pleasantly surprised to find the light winning… even if only one life at a time. It is fairly well written, and I enjoyed it to the end.

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Review by Sarah Synder

Book Review: Sunset Rising

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Title: Sunset Rising Series

Author(s): S.M McEachern

Publisher: Clownfish Publishing

Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

There are four main words I use for the Sunset Rising series by S.M. McEachern: I love these books.

These books will have your heart pounding on two levels. The obvious is the rich, action-packed scenes that flow seamlessly one to the other. The other is how Sunny and Jack demonstrate a heart-deep courage to be vulnerable and to change. Continue reading

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

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Title: An Amber in the Ashes

Author(s): Sabaa Tahir

Publisher: Razorbill

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Young Adult book world if full of dystopian tales, which suits me just fine as I usually enjoy them immensely. It does take quite a bit to stand out from the crowd, though, and I will say that Tahir’s Ember shot leaps and bounds in front of many of the YA dystopian books I’ve read recently.

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Book Review: Storm Siren

images-11Title: Storm Siren

Author: Mary Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian

Rating: 5 out of 5

Mary Weber knows how to break a heart. For anyone who has yet to experience her debut novel, Storm Siren, you’ll understand what I mean once you dive into her incredible story world. From the lush settings to the descriptive and cleverly immersive vocabulary, the reader is immediately deposited in the middle of Elemental slave-girl Nym’s world, and will soon find yourself attending ridiculously lavish parties, running from bolcranes, dodging flesh-eating horses, preparing to enter the long-waged war against Bron, and hoping you don’t come in contact with the dreaded and infamous Draewulf—because if you do, you’re as good as dead.

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Book Review: Salt to the Sea

salt-to-seaTitle: Salt to the Sea

Author(s): Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel Books

Genre: Historical

Rating: 5 out of 5

Wow, did this book make me CRY! I don’t often cry because of a book, but Salt to the Sea pierced my heart deeply! Ruta Sepetys did not disappoint with her third novel. She continues to reign as the queen of young adult crossover historical fiction.

Salt to the Sea is the fictionalized version of the true but little-known tragedy of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that was meant to carry Germans fleeing the Soviets across the Baltic Sea to safety. Over 9,000 people are thought to have perished when the Gustloff was sunk by Soviet submarine torpedoes. That is more than the Titanic and the Lusitania combined.

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Book Review: Tainted

 

51Tipyv8FfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_-2Title: Tainted

Author(s): Alexandra Moody

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5

Meet Elle Winters, an ordinary teen who turns out to be extraordinary. A terrified girl compelled by love to tremendous acts of boldness. A loner who lives her life for others. And the bearer of an orphaned heart that just might open to family and to her true identity.

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