Blog Tour & Giveaway Review: Gravity-Shayne McClendon

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4/5 Stars

Gravity-Shayne McClendon

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+I received Gravity for an honest review on the Mackable Book Babes Blog Tour. 

“No, I’m not under any illusions. To me, life is like gravity. You have to let it keep you grounded, but you can never let it keep you down.”

***

“I want to give you lots and lots of windows-so you can see all the beauty you’ve been denied, JoEllen.”

I rarely cry during books. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times it’s happened ever and remember acutely which books and which moments did me in. On my Goodreads status updates I had a cry count for this book, seriously, 3 1/2 times. You may be asking yourself, how is 3 1/2 cries possible, well lovelies, that is when you’re so cried out you start to cry again and run out of tears. This book wrecked me in a beautifully tragic and moving way. You’ll laugh, you’ll certainly cry, you’ll feel anger, pity, and so many, many feels it’s pretty overwhelming. If you’re looking for a book that will wake your dormant emotions up, get your tissues ready, this is it.

+++To my blog followers, this is NA it does contain graphic sexual scenarios and does involve abuse. Some images may be too strong for some.

Plot: All JoEllen wants is to escape the life she was given. Her mother was 15 when she had her and hasn’t grown up since, she never really knew how to take care of a child. JoEllen struggled to make ends meet, working jobs, going to school, skipping grades, graduating early and getting certified in carpentry. JoEllen never wants to be in a position to end up like her mother. Living in the poorest trailer park in Oklahoma, JoEllen has watched over mother as if she were the child, as she fell into a pattern of destruction and depression. JoEllen’s mother is a working girl, bringing her johns back to the trailer and leaving JoEllen to wait outside until they’re finished. Despite everything, JoEllen loves her mother and is doing everything in her power to build a stable foundation for her before she goes off to start her own life. Going through everyday life as a robot, JoEllen has plans and she’s going to see them through, she doesn’t have time for distractions and is caught totally off guard when an attractive, older man shows interest. Holden Mayes knows she too young for him but something about her is compelling, magnetic, he can’t help but be drawn to this beautiful, fierce woman. Holden is persistent, for months on end he has pestered JoEllen for  a date, so much so that he has become a close friend, a solid part of her everyday life. When tragedy strikes and JoEllen falls apart, Holden is there to pick up the pieces, to protect her, and most of all, love her even if she doesn’t ask for it, he can’t help himself. So begins JoEllen’s story, one that will test her strength, her will power, and her heart.

Additionally, here is the Goodreads synopsis: 

JoEllen Astor grew up poor in one of the worst trailer parks in Oklahoma. A childhood spent taking care of her mother and working hard has made her world-weary already.

One night, she meets Holden Mayes, a man who thinks she’s far too young for a man like him but can’t help but want her. He makes a mistake that almost derails their relationship before it ever starts and is determined to make it right…no matter how long it takes.

Their accidental friendship is the only thing that keeps her together when tragedy strikes that shakes the very foundation of Jo’s world.

When a man is slow, steady, and determined in his pursuit…how long can you fight your feelings for him?

PROS:

  • JoEllen is the strongest female protagonist I’ve ever read. She’s determined, driven, and filled with such powerful hope that it’s inspiring. Her story is heartbreaking, raw, and fueled by poignantly painful moments that will break your heart into little pieces only to be glued back together again by JoEllen’s light. Although she’s been jaded and wounded in the past, she’s never been broken, JoEllen always fights for her future and her mother’s without judgement. Once of the most striking aspects of JoEllen’s character is her ability to be a cynic, to feel so much anger over her situation and yet, she’ll fight tooth and nail for her mother’s honor, she’s not afraid to throw a few punches or cause drama, she will always speak her mind and in unafraid of the consequences. JoEllen is incredibly brave but afraid to open her heart. The struggle within to combat Holden’s advances is infuriating at times but understandable.
  • The feels guys. I’m telling you, this story is more than an emotional roller coaster, it’s an explosion of events that will claw at your heart and leave you feeling open and breathless, not to mention the tears.
  • Holden is an amazing man. He has such a perfect, warm and compassionate heart. His love for JoEllen is so pure and his focus on caring for her will melt even the frostiest of hearts. Plus, this man knows how to talk dirty and be insanely romantic in the same instant.
  • Passionate, steady, and really hot, the chemistry between JoEllen and Holden is unconventional. It’s not a force of nature or an exaggerated pull but a real, honest build up between a man and a woman whose friendship evolves into something so much more.

CONS:

  • There was the occasional typo or tense issue.
  • Most of the secondary characters were left undiscovered, they’re underdeveloped and not really present in the plot. There are small snippets but not enough to fully grasp their personalities.

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YA Book Madness 2

Happy reading,

-BB

ARC Review: When Stars Die-Amber Skye Forbes

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5/5 Stars

When Stars Die (The Stars Trilogy, #1)-Amber Skye Forbes

*** This ARC was given to me as a gift for an honest review.

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He’d be mine. No one else’s. He’d be my sin, and for this one moment, I could forget all my feelings and pretend that I’m not doubting Oliver, Colette, or anyone else in the world.

***

“Being able to power through one’s own weakness is a sign that one had the strength to endure this type of life. You weren’t ready, Amelia. You weren’t ready to accept that weakness is an inevitable part of life, and that true strength lies in not giving in to that weakness, but accepting that weakness as a part of yourself and using it to find strength.”

Where do I even begin? This book is fantastic, easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and for those of you who haven’t checked out my Goodreads tally that’s close to 170 books. Let me start off by saying that going in, I had no idea what to expect, you think becoming a nun? Hmm? Perhaps not the traditional route for paranormal YA but honestly, this is such a creative, beautifully crafted concept that juxtaposes the traditional ideas of sin, fate, temptation, and damnation with redemption, choice, abstinence, and salvation, it’s got something for everyone.

If you are a fan of Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns series, Amy Plum’s Revenants series, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth series or even Cheri Lasota’s Artemis Rising add this to your TBR pile NOW! You won’t be disappointed.

Plot: Amelia Gareth wants nothing more than to save her brother Nathaniel from eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell. Nathaniel is a witch. This alone is enough to condemn him. Born of a Seven Deadly Sin, witches are not only a product of sin but their families are destined to be destroyed by it. In a heroic, desperate effort to escape this fate, Amelia and Nathaniel flee to Cathedral Reims where she hopes to become a professed nun. This is no small sacrifice. The steps to become a nun are a grueling system of devotion to Deus and blind supplication. Girls go through years of training before reaching the trial stage. These trials are a tortuous test of endurance, mixing flagellation, blood-letting, isolation, and fear. Many do not pass with approval from the head nun but Amelia is determined to prevail despite the pain.

Everything is going according to plan, and with the trials looming, the end is finally in sight after 3 hard years. That is, until Amelia starts seeing things. Shadowmen; dark, sinister , blistering cold beings roam the halls of Cathedral Reims searching like madmen for those who can see them. Amelia thinks that she’s going crazy, her hallucinations spiraling out of control like one of the girls who couldn’t handle the pressure of sisterhood and committed suicide. As the Shadowmen draw ever closer, Amelia can no longer doubt their existence. After a horrible accident involving her best friend, who has terrible burns that no one but Amelia can see, she is faced with two life-altering realities: first, that she, like her brother, is a witch and second, that the Shadowmen are very real and have their sights set on witches within the Cathedral.

Amelia, more confused than ever, and in serious danger, doesn’t know where to turn, whether she should continue down her path to professing as a nun-even though she’s a witch and there’s no chance at heavenly paradise-or to flee from the Shadowmen that threaten to take not only her life but to destroy those she loves.

PROS:

  • Every character is multidimensional, well-developed and has qualities that question how we define good and evil and whether or not it’s possible to be redeemed. There are no strictly evil characters, each “bad” guy down to the fleeting characters has a background story that will melt the ice in your heart despite their past transgressions. They’re remarkably real, complex, and full of heartbreak and yearning that creates a raw, beautifully transcending reading experience.
  • The relationship between God, church, redemption for sinners, what happens after death and the judgements faced are all explored in a way that will leave you bursting with questions and reassessing how you think about faith. The themes are thought-provoking and profound on many levels.
  • Amelia is beautifully passionate about her faith, determined, headstrong, and has an astounding amount of perseverance. She’s stubborn sometimes to a fault but her strength of conviction is admirable. Although she claims she’s selfish, she is one of the most sacrificial, giving people in the book. Her love for her brother, her  devotion to her friends is put above her own welfare and she gives up her life as the wealthy daughter of a prominent accountant, forfeiting her future of marriage and children to save her brother’s soul. Occasionally, Amelia is foolish in her assumptions and trusts her heart over her head but this is hardly her downfall, and often it awakens her to a greater understanding of herself.
  • The Shadowmen are creepy in a semi-Dementor way. They skulk in the hallways, radiating cold, pain, and darkness. They watch, wait, and listen ever searching. They’re like vicious hunters on the prowl for blood, which they often find. They kill in truly horrific ways. They are sociopathic murders with a single-minded determination and fealty to their ruler. The whole system of their strengths and weaknesses manifested in supernatural power and compelled goals is fascinating and complex.
  • Love is an aspect of this story but not the feature. Amelia’s heart is full of love and respect for so many people but when she falls she falls hard. Completely, utterly consumed by her heart and how she feels to the point of blindness and denial. This is both a positive and negative aspect of her character. Her love is given fully and as a gift. How quickly she falls, and how soon she becomes okay with temptation is a little questionable when her entire life since joining the Cathedral Reims was to reject this temptation and it is fighting against sin that drove her from her home.

CONS:

  • Because Amelia is 18, some of the situations are a little more mature than what is generally in YA fiction. There are a few steamy sexual situations, and two rape scenes.

If you liked any of the following, you’d love this:

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crown

AR-CVR-FNL

3432478

diss

18144259Happy reading all,

-BB

Cover Reveal: The Fine Art of Pretending-Rachel Harris

Today I’m really psyched and honored to be participating in Rachel Harris’ cover reveal for her upcoming YA contemporary. Rachel is well known for her My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century series, her wonderfully real characters and the sizzling chemistry between them. So without further ado…

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Isn’t this cover gorgeous? It’s flirty, fun, and has just enough mystery 🙂

So what’s The Art of Pretending about?

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Author: Rachel Harris 
According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.
Find Rachel Harris Online: 
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Don’t forget to add The Fine Art of Pretending to your TBR pile!
Happy reading all,
-BB

New Adult Weekly Announcement

Hey everyone,

I hope you’re having a lovely weekend and keeping warm. I’ve finally nailed down my schedule and am now set to participate in several reveals, releases, book blasts and giveaways in the New Adult genre. The first in a series of posts on New Adult books will begin on Jan. 31st. Get excited, I know I am.

This is still a YA blog but who doesn’t like a little variety now and then?

Just thought I’d give you guys a heads up for what’s to come and also share some fun stuff.

Swedish Marines Lip-Sync ‘Greased Lightning’ via HuffPost

50 Tattoos Inspired By Books via Buzzfeed I personally love 6, 39, 46 and 47.

I wrote a piece inspired by Hanna Marin’s coloful blazers on Evatopia The Art of the Colorful Blazer

Excerpt from Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire via Entertainment Weekly

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Book Blast & Giveaway for When Stars Die-Amber Skye Forbes

A couple months ago I received an ARC of When Stars Die for review. It was one of my top books for 2013 and so I eagerly joined this book blast. When Stars Die is unlike any YA book I’ve read to date. Set in a convent? Go figure. But truly, it’s a wonderfully creative and beautifully written book that sparks many serious internal questions. The interplay between faith and magic presents a conflicted, raw, and incredibly real protagonist that will have you cheering her on even through her darkest trials.

I gave this book 5 STARS. If you’re interested in reading my review, I’ll be reblogging it tomorrow so check back!

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“Being able to power through one’s own weakness is a sign that one had the strength to endure this type of life. You weren’t ready, Amelia. You weren’t ready to accept that weakness is an inevitable part of life, and that true strength lies in not giving in to that weakness, but accepting that weakness as a part of yourself and using it to find strength.”

Summary: “Yet, even when stars die, they leave a lasting impact through their light, their diamond brilliance as they scatter their material to form new stars. When people die, they leave the same impact with the footprints they leave on people’s hearts. Even the ones who feel insignificant go out, leaving behind dust that can nourish the world anew.”

Amelia Gareth wants nothing more than to save her brother Nathaniel from eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell. Nathaniel is a witch. This alone is enough to condemn him. Born of a Seven Deadly Sin, witches are not only a product of sin but their families are destined to be destroyed by it. In a heroic, desperate effort to escape this fate, Amelia and Nathaniel flee to Cathedral Reims where she hopes to become a professed nun. This is no small sacrifice. The steps to become a nun are a grueling system of devotion to Deus and blind supplication. Girls go through years of training before reaching the trial stage. These trials are a tortuous test of endurance, mixing flagellation, blood-letting, isolation, and fear. Many do not pass with approval from the head nun but Amelia is determined to prevail despite the pain.

Everything is going according to plan, and with the trials looming, the end is finally in sight after 3 hard years. That is, until Amelia starts seeing things. Shadowmen; dark, sinister , blistering cold beings roam the halls of Cathedral Reims searching like madmen for those who can see them. Amelia thinks that she’s going crazy, her hallucinations spiraling out of control like one of the girls who couldn’t handle the pressure of sisterhood and committed suicide. As the Shadowmen draw ever closer, Amelia can no longer doubt their existence. After a horrible accident involving her best friend, who has terrible burns that no one but Amelia can see, she is faced with two life-altering realities: first, that she, like her brother, is a witch and second, that the Shadowmen are very real and have their sights set on witches within the Cathedral.

Amelia, more confused than ever, and in serious danger, doesn’t know where to turn, whether she should continue down her path to professing as a nun-even though she’s a witch and there’s no chance at heavenly paradise-or to flee from the Shadowmen that threaten to take not only her life but to destroy those she loves.

Meet the Author: WSD2Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn’t like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward…again. But she doesn’t care because her cat is a superhero who will break her out. 

You can find Amber at Amber’s Official Website or Amber’s Blog

Purchase Links:

When Stars Die on Amazon

When Stars Die on Smashwords

When Stars Die on Kobo

When Stars Die for Nook

GIVEAWAY:

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Happy reading everyone and really, this is a great book, if you’re a Girl of Fire and Thorns fan looking for a new read this is for you.

-BB

Review: Enders-Lissa Price

3.5/5 Stars

Enders (Starters, #2)-Lissa Price

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We kissed until our lips burned. I traveled to another place, a place that would never have anything as mundane as a name.

+++If you haven’t read STARTERS the following review contains spoilers. 

Plot: Following the daring destruction of Prime headquarters, Callie thought that she’d finally be able to get back to normalcy after the horrible devastation of the spores and devious plot of the Old Man to mindjack Starters for good. Callie now has a guardian and a mansion for her and her little brother Tyler to come home to. Just when things seem to be calm, Callie is contacted by the Old Man, in her head. Somehow he’s latched onto her chip frequency and in a terrifying display of power, hijacks another girl’s body at the mall and causes her chip to explode. The explosion left Callie with little doubt that the Old Man was still around and eager to get his hands on her special chip. Not only would being around her brother and her best friend Michael be risky but it could be a serious threat to their lives. Callie, concerned for her brother’s life, doesn’t know what to do but knows that the war against the Old Man and his evil plans is far from over. When another voice invades her head, Callie is more disturbed than ever because the voice sounds exactly like her father’s, who she thought died from the spores.+ Callie feels like her life is quickly spiraling out of control and she needs to do something drastic to reclaim her body. When the Old Man threatens her brother, Callie follows his instructions to meet, against her best judgement but she doesn’t have much of a choice. In an unexpected turn, before she can get to the Old Man, she is abducted by none other than the Old Man’s son Hyden. From here it’s an action-packed, thrilling race against the odds to rescue Starters, stop the Old Man, and destroy Prime once and for all.

+The spores are a sort of plague that infected all the middle-aged people (Middles) killing off all who couldn’t afford a vaccine. The majority of the Middles died, leaving behind Enders (the elderly) and Starters (the youth).

With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save Callie’s life – but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too …and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body? This is the thrilling sequel to “Starters” via Goodreads*

*I’ve included the Goodreads summary because Enders is a complex book and the summary is a bit complicated.

PROS:

  • Terror. Serious, disgustingly intrusive loss of control. Your skin will crawl. The sheer evil and disquieting, morally bankrupt choices that Callie and co. are forced to make are truly repulsive and FABULOUS writing. You can feel their conflict, their racing hearts, their strong will to fight the monstrous tasks in front of them and their queasiness in their stomachs when they realize they have no real choice.
  • The climax, plot twists, and reveals are so surprising you will not see them coming.
  • Callie is determined, brave, and willing to sacrifice everything for the people she loves. She wants to save all the suffering Starters from gross manipulation by greedy Prime members but above all, wants to save them from ever having to deal with the sense of hopelessness she has when her body is hijacked. Callie is a fighter, fueled by hope and love, she believes that the world can be saved and a positive future is possible. The dreamer and the badass inside her make the perfect heroine.
  • Hyden is an extremely interesting character. There are so many layers just waiting to be unwrapped. His vulnerability, his drive, and his intelligence are compelling and instantly attractive.
  • The sheer mass of technology and the creative descriptions are brilliant. Quirky, fun, and completely innovative. If you’re looking for futuristic technology, this is definitely something to check out.

CONS:

  • Some sections were a bit slow and lacked the adrenaline, nail-biting energy that should have been present during crisis scenes.
  • Sometimes escape or solving problems was too easy, everything seemed to fall in place when it seemed like it would have been much more complicated.
  • Love. While there was some mild flirtation, it came out of nowhere really, there was hardly any build up.
  • Michael. As a character his presence was missing.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB

Review: The Conduit-Stacey Rourke

4/5 Stars 

The Conduit (Gryphon, #1)-Stacey Rourke

12995248Like a switch had been flipped, the light vanished. The eagle was gone. In its place was a woman-of sorts. Her face was flawless beauty, made odd by the golden feathers that cascaded from her head in place of hair. Her curvaceous body was absent of clothing but adorned with bronze feathers. Gigantic wings of the same color sprouted from her back and fanned out behind her.

***

“You kissed a guy and then floated? Geez, can you imagine what would happen if you let him get a little boobage?” His eyes widened in mock alarm. “Lasers might shoot out of your eyeballs. You could completely eviscerate the guy.”

***The Conduit is technically classified as New Adult but I feel that it fits in both NA and YA. It’s right on the border and there’s nothing wildly inappropriate or horrible language.

***The Goodreads summary for this book is a little off. Honestly, I don’t know where they got some of that stuff.

Plot: After the tragic, untimely death of their father, the Garrett siblings are sent to live with their grandmother in the quaint town of Gainesboro, Tennessee while their mother waits for their house to sell. Gainesboro is tiny, everyone knows everyone’s business and nothing is left unknown in that town. Their grandmother is a funky former nurse with leopard bikini-wearing tendencies and a feisty, flirtatious personality. All Celeste wants is to find some piece, to escape to a clearing in the mountains where she can work on her artwork. Her brother Gabe is a former athlete who got injured, her sister Kendall is a ethereal beauty with a bubbly personality and Celeste is just Celeste. Her goal is to start college and work on becoming an art teacher. However, it seems the universe has other plans for her. Forcing her way through the crowded garage to get to her car, Celeste is startled by her brother’s stupidity. The truck is really packed in there. Celeste starts to pull out and tons of boxes of who knows what crash into the car. Working to clean up the mess and way to eager to punch her brother, Celeste stumbles upon a statue of a weird bird creature. Celeste’s grandmother explains that the statue is a a gryphon, half bird half lion, a creature of Celtic mythology said to guard some of the world’s most precious relics, like Noah’s Ark. The gryphon is also a protector that shelters the world from evil. Somehow, Celeste is stabbed in the finger by the statue and immediately feels a kinship towards it. She takes the gryphon and places him in her room. When Celeste finally gets to the clearing, a magical being tells her a prophecy, a legend really, that labels her and her siblings as the Gryphon’s warriors. When strange things start to happen, Celeste and her siblings set off on an accelerated course in Celtic mythology 101, learing of the horrible past, a heroic choice, and an inescapable fate that haunts their bloodline. A battle of good vs evil hundreds of years in the making, The Conduit is an adventure you should definitely take.

PROS:

  • Where do I even begin you guys? I really enjoyed this book, I read almost straight through and if it hadn’t been for class, I probably would have. The bond between siblings is so authentic and full of wonderful comic relief and so much love for each other. As someone who has three siblings, the compulsion to simultaneously strangle your sibling and wrap them in a hug is just too real and all too funny. Their dialogue is seamless, completely fluid and fueled by a witty, powerful energy. They’re compelling as individual characters but as a family, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
  • For those of you who don’t know, a gryphon/griffin is this:Griffin
  • The Celtic mythology, the complex intertwining of legend with the contemporary was brilliantly done and drags you into the story, eager for more. I adore books with new mythological creatures, something different from the werewolves and faeries. Gryphons, who knew they could be so fascinating, not to mention hardcore warriors.
  • Battle scenes. It’s easy to feel let down or cheated when a battle scene seems too easy or dare I say, boring. Rourke’s battle scenes are filled with blood, broken bones, twisted bodies and action galore. Heart racing, palms sweating and racing through pages to see who will survive the epic battle or good vs evil will ensue.
  • THE DESCRIPTIONS. They’re breathtaking, beautiful wordcraft, and something I’ve been missing as of late. SO MANY now are telling and not showing, this book definitely paints glorious, detailed pictures and the word choice=<3.
  • One-liners. Rourke seems to be a master at witty, sarcastic banter much in the vein of Jennifer L. Armentrout. Laughs in abundance.
  • Celeste is an unconventional heroine. She’s clumsy, she’s a little shy but as her destiny takes hold she becomes the epitome of strength. Celeste finds her voice, some B.A. fighting skills, sassy comebacks, and confidence but mostly she finally discovers who she wants to be.
  • Kendall. Kendall is that glowing, always happy beauty that everyone loves to hate but she’s so cute that you can’t help but be enchanted. Kendall goes through a dramatic change through the book and her development into an edgy, bold young woman is inspiring.
  • Gabe is the typical brother. He’s obnoxious, competitive, energetic, and full of pent up aggression. However, he has a broken, jaded side that is so raw and real that you’ll forgive him his annoying comments.

CONS:

  • There wasn’t enough conflict. The majority happened near the end of the book and the main antagonist wasn’t around except for a scene or two.
  • Love. Alec and Celeste, Keith and Kendall, the chemistry wasn’t there.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Pleasant reading,

-BB