eARC Book Review: Among the Flames by Shelby K. Morrison

25662710Goodreads Synopsis

After fleeing her home in Tharien with the Emperor’s forces hot on her heels, Aia Wynnald has only one goal: To end the two-thousand-year-old discrimination against Benders—a race of beings like her, with a misunderstood gift. But when the Emperor’s Church of Mighty retaliates with a new threat, her noble plans are put on hold.

With her companion Cole Balain, a former enemy, by her side, Aia must halt the devastation triggered by her well-meaning actions. The only way she can fight the Church is with the help of a disenchanted group of rebel Benders who’d sooner submit to their fate than follow Aia’s lead.

Can she inspire them to fight and work together to resolve this new crisis, or will her ingrained submissive nature bring her, and the Benders of Dyel, to their knees?

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Among the Flames is the long awaited sequel to From the Ashes (review here). After the events that took place in book one, Aia and Cole flee and end up teaming with a group of rebels claiming Aia to be their liberator.

I didn’t remember much of the first book as it’s been years since I read it. A few scenes did pop into my head here and there but I was still able to enjoy this book as events from the first book were mentioned often.

“Remember, you are elite, and the elite do not bow to the weak.”

The book was fast paced from the first page and I liked that. I knew I was going to finish it pretty quickly. And I did. I started the book but then got distracted and ended up staying up through the night to finish the other 80%. Near the end, I even forgot that I was running against a deadline because of how much I was genuinely enjoying the book. As I said before, the book was fast paced, so as big as it was, I barely felt it.

There wasn’t any character development in this book but that’s okay because instead we had consistency. There weren’t random changes made in the story. If a guy was bad in the beginning, he was bad at the end too. No one had a sudden change of heart and I appreciated that. I’m glad that we got to enjoy our villains as they were. The rebels were like a group of family and when the rest of the world is against you, family is a welcome sight to come home to.

I like Aia as a character. She wasn’t afraid to ask for help and when she did, people thought her weak because it seemed like she couldn’t make decisions on her own. I did notice how at random times Aia would pull the ‘is it because I’m a woman’ card and it felt a bit forced in the sense that it seemed odd in the situation and very noticeable, distracting me from what the original argument was.

I feel like the story has definitely progressed from the first book and I enjoyed this a lot more than I did From the Ashes. After finishing this book, that two year wait was really worth it. I’m eager to see where this story goes.

Read: 25 April 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 25 April 2017
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Shelby K. Morrison

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eARC Book Review: XODUS by K.J. McPike

XODUS (Astralis, #1)

Goodreads Synopsis

All Lali Yavari wanted for her sixteenth birthday was for her mom to come back. Instead, she starts flashing between realities and seeing people disappear before her very eyes. Then the unsettling Kai Awana shows up at school, and Lali soon discovers she has inherited the ability to astral project—with a surprising twist. When Kai offers to use his own unique ability to help Lali find her mother in exchange for her help on a misguided mission, she can’t refuse…even if she’s not quite sure she can trust him.

Don’t miss this award-winning urban fantasy adventure, where what one girl learns about her mother’s past will make her question everything she thought was true—and just might put her family in even more danger.

I received this book from the author on Instafreebie in exchange for an honest review.

XODUS tells us the story of Xitlali, dealing with the fact that her mom left, and figuring out her newly found powers of astral projection.

I found the beginning of this book to be slightly fast paced which was good as I thought I’d get through it quickly. I’d never read a book about astral projection before so I was really excited and since the writing style was pretty good, I had high hopes. Turns out that the writing style ended up being the only thing I liked about this book.

My two main pet peeves regarding books are annoying MC’s and a bad writing style. Since I didn’t need to worry about the latter, the former ended up delivering an extra dose of annoying MC. I wasn’t a fan of Lali from the get go. I’d be a bit freaked too if I discovered I could have out of body experiences but I feel like Lali’s freak outs were over the top. Sometimes I’d wish that she’d cool down a bit so we could get some explanations. This is when the story started dragging for me. Every chapter brought something new to freak out about and I was sick of it already.

You know what this book was full of? Lies, lies and yep…you guessed it: more lies. As a reader, seeing all this play out, I didn’t like it. It got old really quickly and to cover up for one lie, more lies would be added. And I’m not just talking about Lali. This entire book was just one big lie.

The supporting characters…can I even talk about them? To be honest, how this book played out it was all about Lali. So do they even matter? As long as she got everything she wanted, things were okay, right? *cue eye roll* Another thing this book was: complicated. One disaster after another and nothing could fix it.

I expected a lot more from this book but that’s okay. I’m just glad I could finish it even though I was so close to DNF’ing it.

As I said above: I liked nothing about this book except the writing style. The idea was a good one and I feel like the plot could’ve gone far but it wasn’t executed very well. I will not be continuing this series.

Read: 23 April 2017
Rating: ★.5

Publication Date: 19 September 2015
Publisher: Terracotta Rose Publishing in association with Fuzzy Hedgehog Press
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: K.J. McPike

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eARC Book Review: The Auctor Trilogy by T.R. Wolf

The Auctor Trilogy

Goodreads Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Addie Auctor’s mother is murdered by her father, she must confront many secrets that her family has hidden from her. The worst of these secrets is that Addie’s father, Donovan Hawthorne, is still hunting Addie because of an ancient blood feud between her mother’s family, the Auctors, and her father’s family, the House of Hawthorne. In order to be protected from the House of Hawthorne, Addie and her brother, Augustus, are sent to Initiation at an exclusive University, the Wicked Cabal.
Initiation is nothing like Addie expects. She is immediately separated from Augustus and thrown in with four complete strangers – Fallon, Maddox, Liam, and Tempe. Addie must try to forge friendships with her fellow Initiates while they solve clues, battle mystical creatures, and explore increasingly dangerous places.
Readers of all ages will love this adventure filled with suspense, treachery, and romance.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Adelaide Auctor’s life is flipped around when she finds out that her whole life has been a lie. She comes from a family of sorcerer’s who’s been part of a feud with the House of Hawthorne for centuries and unfortunately, she’s caught right in the middle of it as her father, Donovan Hawthorne, is searching for her even more so now that he has killed her mother. She then meets her grandmother and uncles and learns that she and her brother are to be sent to be magically trained at a university called The Wicked Cabal.

The synopsis and prologue of this book was enough to get me shifting to a more comfortable position because I thought it was really interesting. After about 3 or 4 chapters, doubt started seeping in. Addie only really spoke to her brother so there wasn’t much dialogue since he wasn’t up for saying much. The secret was already out, I didn’t know what he could possibly still be hiding.

As I continued reading, I didn’t know whether I was going to like this book or not because I really wanted to enjoy it. I had high hopes going in. My issue was that there was too much description going on. Addie described every single detail and I think that wasted time. Many a time I thought: ‘how long is she taking to think? Shouldn’t she be doing something right now?’ She relied on her brother too much and I think the separation helped her a lot more than she thinks.

I did like where the plot seems to be going and the story overall was really interesting. The author’s writing style is really good and it was a pretty quick read once Addie stopped being as annoying as she was in the beginning. Although…we still don’t really know what the Auctor Trilogy is. There were a few holes in this story but I hope they’ll be filled in as more books are released.

I’m really eager to continue the series because I do think that the author had an awesome idea. The idea of Initiation and what it entailed was really interesting and exciting and it was cool to see how a group of kids who barely knew each other got along in the wilderness.

This story isn’t ever yet and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Read: 13 April 2017
Rating: ★★★

Publication Date: 28 November 2016
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: T.R. Wolf

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eARC Book Review: A Bit(e) of Discretion, Please by T.A. Miles

A Bit(e) of Discretion, Please (Dreamer #1)

Goodreads Synopsis

Caught in the act of being a supernatural creature, Stuart, a former Prince of the Dreaming has been brought into mortal custody. As part of his sentence, he’s required to perform public service duties, assisting other supernaturals and gifted mortals in solving cases of an other worldly nature. Armed with only a fraction of his faerie glamour, and an intense passion for tea, Stuart partners with a young spiritualist to resolve a case of missing souls.

A lighthearted and humorous approach to the varying fantastic and supernatural realms and beings as they intersect with a not so defenseless or unsuspecting mortal world. This is the first in a series of short stories/novellas.

I received this book from the author on Instafreebie in exchange for an honest review.

A Bit(e) of Discretion, Please tells the story of Stuart who was revoked of his fairyism and sentenced to help other supernatural creatures. As the story progressed it felt like Stuart’s punishment was basically making him a cop…or a criminal informant.

I don’t always reread the synopsis of a book just before I start it because I like the element of surprise but with this book I had to go back and read it since I was quite confused. I’m not entirely sure if that was because I forgot what the book was about or because of how the book started. The synopsis gives you the introduction, and it’s not repeated again in the book. And that’s where I got lost.

As I continued reading, my interests were piqued enough for me to want to continue this story. As it was only about 30 pages, I was wondering how much the author would reveal. Would it read like a full novel and would I get a good feel of the author’s writing style? All my questions seems to have been answered. This did not read like a full-length novel but enough information was given that it filled in some holes.

I wondered about Stuart’s name. I’m used to fantasy characters having these weird and sometimes complicated names and here we get Stuart. I thought that maybe he was unlucky in that regard but it turns out that it was part of his cover, among other things to help hide that he was a Dreamer/Fairy-this wasn’t fully explained. I was a few pages in and I still didn’t know much about Stuart. All I knew was that he loved tea and didn’t like this punishment.

I found the concept of an empty town that wasn’t empty extremely fascinating. It was described as being hollow but it was obvious that there were dark forces in the area. I was confused by what a night angel was. I’m still confused. Is it an angel? A vampire? They mentioned the fallen, actual angels and some vampires made an appearance. I would’ve appreciated a more detailed explanation though.

I rather liked Daniel. I found him to be quite cunning and devious and while I know now what his story was, him jumping like some macho man brandishing that gun was grounds for heart eyes. Mei Lin was awesome and I easily forgot that she was a child.

The story showed a lot of potential and I liked what the author was trying to say. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and found it to be easy to read.

I’ll admit that were some confusing bits but they didn’t take away from the enjoyment. I do wish the book was slightly longer though. I’m very interested in seeing what happens next.

Read: 6 March 2017
Rating: ★★★.5

Publication Date: 12 August 2011
Publisher: Raventide Books
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: T.A. Miles

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eARC Book Review: Hockey Karma by Howard Shapiro

Hockey KarmaGoodreads Synopsis

The highly anticipated sequel to the award winning “The Hockey Saint” taking place ten years after “Saint” ends. The legendary Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson, now thirty two, has been the world’s best hockey player over his fourteen year career because of his out of this world talent level and his smart play. But he can’t stay on top forever, and when he starts making mistakes on the ice, his career and family life start to crumble.

At the same time, Tom Leonard, his agent and best friend, is completely overwhelmed by a project that he and Jake were supposed to be working on together. A project that could have a huge impact on people throughout their city in need of a helping hand. As Jake sinks deeper into a funk over his lost status due to his deteriorating play and the emergence of teammate and rookie phenom Barclay Pedersen, Tom realizes he’s on his own. At the same time he rediscovers someone from his past who he never thought he’d see again. In that burgeoning relationship, Tom discovers the importance of taking chances and starts to believe in himself.

Can Jake break out of his downward spiral and Tom finally find the courage to step out of Jake’s shadow?

I received copies of this book from NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hockey Karma is the third and final book in the Forever Friends Trilogy and I feel that it’s come such a long way since the first book was set almost 20 years ago.

The amount of character development that took place in this graphic novel was extraordinary. I felt like I grew with the characters and the way it was written really makes you feel like you’re a part of the story. I liked Jake in the second book but in this one there were times when he annoyed me. That was what I meant by the character development. He didn’t flip a 180 in an instant, the artwork portrayed the changes he went through and how he worked to get better.

Seeing Tom grow up and become more successful in each book made me feel like a proud mom. He’d probably be the character I miss the most.

I loved the throwback! The fact that we were taken back to where it all started made for a bitter sweet memory. This was the best way to end the trilogy in my opinion. While it wasn’t my favourite of all three, I did like the send off we were given.

See my reviews for books 1 & 2 in the Forever Friends Trilogy:

The Stereotypical Freaks
The Hockey Saints

Read: 22 October 2016
Rating: ★★★

Publication Date: 1 November 2016
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Howard Shapiro

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eARC Book Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

WreckedGoodreads Synopsis

Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wrecked focuses on rape and the culture that surrounds it. There’s a lot that a person can say regarding this topic and it’s easy to jump to conclusions because in this case all anyone wants is justice and closure and more often than not, that is not delivered. In this book it’s ripped open and revealed for what could possibly be how it really is but I can’t say because I’ve never been in a situation like that and I think it’ll be like a slap in the face to say ‘I can count myself lucky’ because honestly, I think luck has nothing to do with it. Rape is not about who’s lucky enough to avoid it, because it’s not something that has to be avoided. People are a-holes and it’s people who do the bad deeds.

When people start blaming the victim, it reminds me of a popular saying ‘A good carpenter never blames his tools’ or something like that. A person shouldn’t blame the victim because of what they looked like, how they dressed or acted or even what they implied. A person can say ‘yes’ one minute and halfway through decide to change their mind. It doesn’t make them a tease, it makes them a person with the right to say no.

*I know I went off on a tangent there but I hardly find myself in a situation where I talk about this topic and I found myself with a lot to say.

This book really put things in perspective and I think what takes place in this book is real. Not that it’s a true story- someone might have experienced something a lot like this, I wouldn’t know- but this is realistic and I think that’s what scared me. I got actual chills while reading this book and I’ll be honest, the way this is written, how it’s from the POV of the roommate of the victim and also of the housemate of the accused, the story get’s mixed up quite a few times and I didn’t even know where I stood.

It’s honesty hour over here. My first instinct was to side with the victim and that was all well and good, I expected that even. But as the story unfolded I was so confused with my thoughts because I was put in that place that I’ve read some victims fear: I didn’t know whether I believed her story or not. See what I mean? I was scared because I knew where I had to stand but there was a part of me that kept screaming: ‘You don’t know the full story. Don’t jump to conclusion!’ This book was a real eye opener and I am so glad that the author didn’t sugarcoat anything.

Characters: Haley is the roommate of Jenny, who reports that she was raped on the night a party. She- Haley- has her own problems to deal with and she prefers dealing with them but she gets sucked into Jenny’s situation and at first she acts like she doesn’t have a choice. Who’d turn someone away when they’re clearly in the need of help? Haley does decide to actually stay not because she was coerced, but because she wants to. I think her main goal was to be as uninvolved as possible but that didn’t work out so well. She sleeps in the same room as the girl, for crying out loud.

Richard lived in the same house as Jordan, the accused, and I didn’t know what to make of this guy at first. He seemed weird and we were introduced to him with a bad start. Rape jokes are not cool. They shouldn’t made. Ever. Richard was creepy and bordered on being a stalker but I think his mind was a bit jumbled. This guy was bad with words so people disregarded him often.

Carrie was, well I didn’t like her much. She had her views and sure I respect her for that but I felt that she came on a bit strong and seemed forceful sometimes.

Jenny’s case, her life in general wasn’t an easy thing to deal with. I mean, the one time she decided to step out of her comfort zone, everything just gets flipped upside down. What I did admire about her was her constant vigilance. Not about the rape, about how she went about life. She didn’t back down and I liked that about her. She was in no way running away but she had a plan and continued going on.

Jordan was a d*ck really. Not for what he did/was accused of doing, but in general. He wasn’t a nice guy. He had absolutely no redeeming qualities.

Likes: I like the fact that this book exists. It’s needed especially with what’s going on in the world. I loved the writing style. This author has a way with words and I found myself drawn in with how well it was written. I liked how the author went about the plot. Giving both sides of the story but at the same time allowing the readers to make up their own mind about what went down.

Overall Thoughts: This was an important book that needed to be shared with the world. The pace was excellent and I think the author did a good job especially given the situation. I would definitely read other works by this author.

Read: 4 July 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 4 October 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Maria Padian

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eARC Book Review: Detached by Christina Kilbourne

DetachedGoodreads Synopsis

Anna has always been so level-headed, so easy-going, so talented and funny. How could anyone have guessed she wanted to die?

Anna is not like other people. For one thing, she’s been an accomplished artist since she was a preschooler. For another, she’s always felt like she didn’t belong: not with other kids, not with her family, not in her body. It isn’t until her grandparents are killed in a tragic accident, however, that Anna starts to feel untethered. She begins to wonder what it would be like if she didn’t exist and the thought of escaping the aimless drifting is the only thing that brings her comfort.

When Anna overdoses on prescription pain killers the doctors realize she has been suffering from depression and start looking for a way to help her out of the desperate black hole she never thought she would escape. It’s then that rock bottom comes into sight and the journey back to normal begins.

See the trailer here! https://t.co/ISbsu7CsdN

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Warnings: Mentions & Attempts of Suicide, Underage Drinking.

This story focuses on Anna, the MC. Her bestfriend, Aliya and her Mom. From the beginning of the book we see that Anna clearly suffers from depression even though she herself doesn’t know it.

We see Anna lead a seemingly perfect life but inside she’s dying. There were signs of course but I think this book shows us that sometimes people just don’t want to see what they know will hurt them.

Anna herself thought that it was insane to want to die knowing that her life was practically perfect. Anna’s lack of feeling during the rise of her depression is what I believe drove her over the edge. She felt nothing at all except that she didn’t want to be alive anymore.

Characters: I really liked Anna as a character and thought that she was strong despite what one would think as a weakness. Her depression didn’t weaken her. It made her more…wilful. She didn’t seem to be too scared about what she was doing and was adamant about finding a way to finish off. I’ve heard recently in a show, ‘the first step in solving a problem is to admit that you have a problem’ only Anna didn’t see her dying as a problem…

I didn’t like Aliya’s POV as much and she made me feel like I was in a 13 year old’s mind. These characters were 16 and acted their age for the most part but I think the fact that Aliya’s mom was so overprotective made her come off as younger.

Anna’s Mom was clearly a caring and loving mother. I wouldn’t say that she or anyone else did anything wrong that in the end aided Anna’s need to not live anymore. The mother was pretty supportive and tried her best to be there for her children. I loved how she had her own POV. It gave us a different angle that I haven’t seen before.

Likes: What I really liked about this book is how different it was. Usually you see the aftermath of what a suicide does and this was the leading up to. It was a fresh view for me and a really interesting one too. This was a fairly quick read once I actually decided to sit down with the book. The characters were pretty good and all of them brought a little something of their own to the table.

Overall Thoughts: This book showed only one of the ugly sides of Depression. It can lead you into such a spiral that everything you knew, everything that made you happy now leaves you feeling nothing at all. I’m glad that Christina wrote the book in this way and that the world gets to see what actually goes through the mind of the victim of this illness before they go off the edge.

Read: 21 August 2016
Rating: ★★★.8

Publication Date: 13 August 2016
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Christina Kilbourne

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