Review: Pneuma-Serena Kearney

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Estelle Caldwell caused a war with her birth.
She didn’t find out until her eighteenth birthday. She was normal, or so she thought. She had regular, divorced parents that she still kept in touch, and a trio of best friends that had a bond so strong, they gave her a meaning to existence.

When her life started to unravel the truth, it started with her grandfather, Larry, giving her a special necklace the night before her birthday. Not only did it start changing her, but it showed her the truth of her past in her dreams that she couldn’t quite grasp, or accept.

pneu·ma
ˈn(y)o͞omə/
noun
the vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person.

Do you know what it feels like to hold fate in your hand?
Was it fate that my whole life got turned upside down?

He was the reason I had to leave.

Making the sacrifice caused my heart to rip in two.
I wanted normalcy. I wanted my life to be my own.
But it’s nothing without the people I love, and it’s for
the people I love that I have to leave.

Fate. Please be kind.

Will he still remember me?
Will our first and last kiss be one and the same?
Please remember.
Please be with me.

Family is tested.
Memories are everywhere.
Love is one of the biggest reliefs and hurts you can have at the same time.

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3/5 Stars

+++This book is currently #FREE

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re into love triangles
  • You’re all about sassy, strong minded heroines with tons of courage
  • You’ve been searching for an alien story that’s NOT centered around invasion

PROS:

  • Estelle is a feisty little thing. She’s fierce and strong and sticks up for the weak. She’s no afraid to throw several punches and get in trouble for what she believes is right. Estelle thinks fast and makes rash decisions that place her in precarious situations but always, always to save those she loves. Estelle has a big heart, lots of love, a nice group of friends and a serious handle on her rapidly chaotic and terrible situation. She’s likable and will make you root for her. 
  • The world building, when it gets to that point, is fantastic. The 3 planets, the ancestral magic, the rivalry, and threats. It’s an epic interplanetary battle of wills. 
  • Friendship is a major theme. How to be friends with a bunch of guys when feelings get involved. The bonds that are formed in childhood. Those that are made through trauma. All the ways that these special relationships are built and the feelings of comfort and trust that come with them. Estelle’s feelings towards her friends are never in question. Kent is like this big, cuddly teddy bear who happens to be pretty hot. Aiden is that sarcastic jokester that has a bunch of ridiculous lines, and Reed is the something more. Estelle turns to them for everything and that warm feeling she gets when she knows they’ll always be there for her is extremely powerful.

CONS:

  • Some parts are slow and full of telling. Pacing.
  • There’s not enough build up of the relationships. You know they’ve been friends forever but there aren’t enough scenes to establish the emotional connection as powerfully as it could have been. Because of that, scenes that should have been emotionally crippling were only slightly sad. 
  • Some parts were far-fetched (yes, I know this is an alien story). Reactions to situations were unbelievable. Reed, I mean, the guy is thrown into this crazy world with a bunch of strangers, basically teleported and he barely blinks an eye? He’s way too laid back. I was searching for a freak out or something but it made Reed seem robotic. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: After the Woods-Kim Savage

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Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

review3.5/5 Stars

+++I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Farrar, Straus and Giroux

***Contains triggers: abuse, violence, abduction, assault

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re interested in recovery after trauma
  • You enjoy mysteries that are complex and thought-provoking
  • You like puzzles

PROS:

  • After the Woods examines trauma at the roots and asks questions. Looking at the girl that got away and the one who sacrificed herself for her best friend, Kim Savage peers into the recovery process post-abduction. Everyone deals with trauma differently. 
  • After the Woods also looks at the damaging effects of emotional abuse. The scenes between Liv and her mother are disquieting and heartbreaking, that someone could treat their daughter as if they were imperfect and never one deign to compliment her. Every time Liv’s face fell or she replied with a sarcastic comment, it struck a chord. 
  • The flashbacks to the abduction are terrifying and sickening. The foreboding will set you on edge. Even though you know she makes it out of that situation, what actually happened during the time is a bit of a mystery. As the clues come out, the anxiety increases to a dangerous level. 
  • Julia is a selfless person. She puts her friendship with Liv up on a pedestal, refusing to believe anything but the strength of their bond. All others are second to Liv. Best friends for life and then some. Julia needs to learn how to cope. She’s sarcastic, brash, and haunted by the events in the woods. She clings to statistics and facts as a way to understand her abduction. The odds are low but they comfort her. Julia is fascinating. Seeing the way her mind works, how she analyzes and keeps meticulous lists helped me better understand the many ways people deal with trauma. 
  • The cover is gorgeous. 

CONS:

  • The big reveal was kind of a letdown. There are so many signs pointing to the ending that I figured it out before the halfway point. 
  • Julia is constantly making decisions that make you want to shake some sense into her. Her delusions about the media, the deals she makes, how she dismisses Liv’s wacked out behavior for most of the book, it all is so frustrating. 
  • If you’re looking for a romance, After the Woods is more about friendship than swoon. While there are a few moments, it’s secondary to everything else. The romance itself felt a bit like instalove. Suddenly, it was there. Not much build up. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: You’re Still the One-Rachel Harris

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Love is one dare neither of them can take…

Arabella Stone, Nashville’s darling, is eager to shuck her prim-and-proper rep, and a few wild months spent checking items off her ” summer bucket list” is the way to do it. First up: kiss the man she’s crushed on since she wore a training bra, the bad boy of country himself, Blue bassist Charlie Tucker.

For Charlie, a beautiful woman flirting with him isn’t out of the norm–but a beautiful woman bolting after the hottest kiss of his life sure is. And when he finds out his kiss-and-run Cinderella is none other than Arabella Stone, daughter of his label’s CEO, he knows he’s in trouble. Because not only is she a Stone, she’s also his employee for the next few months at the recording studio he just bought.

Over the course of one thrilling summer, Arabella and Charlie chip away at her bucket list and fight the simmering attraction between them…knowing that once it’s all over, so is their time together.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Entangled Bliss

You’re Still the One is a sweet and steamy romance featuring one Nashville country hottie and the boss’ daughter. What happens when your celebrity crush becomes a reality? Off the walls chemistry. 

PROS:

  • Charlie is a sweetheart with a bad boy rep. He loves women, knows he’s sexy, and has charm galore. He gets what he wants and due to seriously horrible bad luck, has a tarnished rep that he can’t seem to come back from. So he goes with it. Underneath the player visage and past the leggy blondes, Charlie has a heart of gold. He’s loyal, compassionate, and an advocate for using music to combat depression and bullying. The way he is with his niece is SWOON for centuries amazing. When he speaks…holy hotness. When he says, “baby girl” SLAYED. Seriously. 
  • Rachel Harris is incredibly skilled at balancing that playful flirting of new romance with sweltering attraction. Charlie and Arabella, that scene in the pool. Get ready to fan yourselves ladies. ALL THAT KISSING. 
  • Arabella feels trapped. She wants to make it on her own in the world but is constantly thwarted because of her famous father. Guys only want to date her to drop off demos for her dad or are too scared to risk his wrath. Anyone in the business would hire her one principle. It’s hard for a girl with a music degree and her daddy’s last name to get hired based on her own merits but she tries. Arabella desperately wants freedom and love. She’s terrible at flirting, to the point where it’s laughable, and discounts her attractiveness because of her gorgeous best friend. Her insecurities are relatable and her clumsy attempts at flirting are spot on for anyone who has ever stumbled to speak in front of their crush. 
  • Life and Lyrics is a beautiful idea. 

CONS:

  • You don’t really get an idea of what the band is actually like. There’s hardly any music making and that time in Nashville is so short that the sort of country star aspect of it fades into the background. This is the between time and that was occasionally a little slow. The pacing felt off. 
  • The plot was fairly predictable but engaging. The bucket list-style goals for the summer were laugh-out-loud wonderful and added spice to the plot. 

authRachel Harris 022 - compressed for webWebsite/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/Newsletter

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom,she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Scavenger Hunt & Giveaway: Seven Black Diamonds-Melissa Marr

Seven Black DiamondsSevenBlackDiamonds cGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: HarperCollins

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This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them…and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.

SCAVENGER HUNT

***The secret word can be found in RED

Chapter 2: LILY

                 “You need to stop hiding and go downstairs.” Shayla stood in the doorway to Lily’s bedroom. Her long greying hair fell neatly over her shoulders instead of being bound into some kind of twist or held captive under one of her innumerable scarves. An elegant dress, no doubt by a runway designer, made her look like the lady of the house rather than Lily’s caretaker, assistant, governess, whatever-her-title-was-now.

“I know. I just don’t want to. Daidí knows I don’t like parties.”

Shayla’s entire attitude switched from sweet to stern. “You’re being honored. Act like it.”

Lily couldn’t meet Shayla’s eyes.

“You will put a smile on that pretty little face of yours and march yourself down there,” Shayla continued. “You’ll go thank your father for the party, and you’ll smile at the guests, and make a point to say hello to that Morris boy that’s going to sing.”

Despite herself, Lily smiled. Creed Morrison was in every tabloid, toured worldwide, and was even in a movie. As if being a rock star wasn’t enough, he had to add acting. He had been her fantasy since she’d seen her first photo of him—and now he was here in her home.

“Morrison,” she said. “His name is Creed Morrison, Shayla.”

Shayla waved her hand dismissively. “Whatever. Creed. Morris. Unless he is in one of those musicals your father gets me tickets to see, I don’t care.” She came over to stand in front of Lily and fussed with her hair, pulling at the curls, unpinning and re-pinning it in several places as she spoke. “What matters, Lilywhite, is that Nicolas brought the boy here to sing for you. So go be charming.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Lily leaned in and kissed Shayla’s cheek before heading toward the door. Once she was sure she was out of reach, she teased, “Maybe you ought to come down too and check on Daidí. Make sure he’s not under siege from one of the fripperies.”

“Your father can handle himself just fine with those girls,” Shayla said.

“Come on. For me?”

“Hmph.” Shayla didn’t bother arguing further. She went on in front of Lily, effectively buying her a few minutes of peace.

Shayla was the closest thing to a mother that Lily had. Shayla and Daidí both swore that there was nothing romantic between them, but Lily kept hoping. Her mother had been gone for twelve years, and Shayla had filled her vacant place. They certainly functioned like a family. Shayla raised Lily when Daidí was off on business trips, and she looked after both of them when he was home.

Slowly, Lily walked through the hall, hating that she had to wear shoes, even though the tiny sandals were nothing more than a few strips of leather. She’d learned to tolerate shoes, but heels still made her feel wrong. Feet were meant to touch the earth, the floor, the sea. They weren’t to be locked away in prisons of leather or fabric. Sandals were the closest to normal that Lily had found, and tonight—surrounded by people—she needed the comfort of nearly bare feet.

At the top of the great staircase, just out of sight, Lily paused to smooth down the skirt of the dress she’d been given to wear. It wasn’t as fancy as Shayla would like, but the pale green dress made especially for her was as flattering as any dress could be. An asymmetrical neckline and fitted bodice topped a skirt made up of layers of some sort of delicate material. Tiny stones sewn into the layers caught the light and shimmered as she moved. Lily didn’t have the heart to ask if they were real gems or not. It was easier to avoid an argument if she didn’t know. She’d already lost the fights about her bracelets. Obscenely expensive diamonds and emeralds dangled from her wrists and ears.

The short blade that Lily had sheathed in a hand-sewn leather holster under her ephemeral dress was real too, though. Its weight made her feel secure despite the glittering facade. Lilywhite’s blade was a double-edged dagger that had been handcrafted for her. She wasn’t eager to use it, preferring the tidiness of her longer blades, but she could never be truly unarmed.

For all of her father’s protections, he’d also taught her that she was ultimately responsible for her own safety. The party was at her home, and the guests had all entered through a metal detector and been patted down, but she was the daughter of the head of one of the most successful criminal organizations in the world. That meant that, even here, she was armed.

Lily rounded the corner and started down the stairs. Her father looked up at her, and the pride in his face made her feel guilty for delaying. He smiled at her, and she knew that she’d been wrong to stall. Mingling at the over-the-top birthday party that Daidí insisted on this year was a little bit beyond terrifying, but he wanted to celebrate her birthday, so celebrate they would. These events layered civility and elegance onto their often violent world, and Lily knew well that the layer of softness was important—not just for how others saw the underworld but for how the demimonde saw itself.

As she walked down the stairs, she could hear soft music in the ballroom. Soon, Creed Morrison would sing, but right now, a chamber orchestra played classical music that wove around the spaces between conversations. Servers circulated with finger foods and drinks.   Usually, Lily stayed at her father’s side when she had to attend these sorts of things. Tonight, though, Daidí insisted that she talk to people her own age—other than just her friend Erik.

authMelissaWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr

Melissa Marr is the author of the bestselling Wicked Lovely series as well as the adult fantasy novels Graveminder and The Arrivals. When not writing, editing, or traveling, Melissa is buried under a plethora of books, dogs, and children in Virginia or online at www.melissa-marr.com.

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6 winners will receive a finished copy of SEVEN BLACK DIAMONDS, US Only.

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Dead Girl-Tessa Marie

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synIf her mother wasn’t watching, Kylie Presby would punch Queen Bee, Natalie Silvers, in the face -again. But as Kylie wipes her tears away with the layers of toilet paper encasing her car, she knows she can’t retaliate like she did last time. Her dead mother wouldn’t approve. Kylie no longer cares about popularity. Invisible would work just fine.

Then the new kid, Braydon, mysterious, good looking and too clever for his own good, shows up and sacrifices his social status, becoming Kylie’s shield from the front line assault. After enough chocolate ice cream and movies it’s as if they’re best friends. Crazy, since Kylie knows so little about him.

As Natalie continues her relentless attacks on Kylie another person deals with his own line of bullies. Jack Stine was popular until his deepest secret was revealed and his friends abandoned him. Kylie and Jack bond over their tormentors and form an unbreakable friendship.

Three lost souls each with a story that binds them together, but will it be enough when the bullying goes too far and secrets are revealed?

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Tessa Marie aka Theresa Paolo lives on Long Island, NY with her fiancé and their fish. She is the author of NA and YA contemporary romances. Her debut novel (NEVER) AGAIN, released in Fall 2013 with Berkley (Penguin) and the companion novel (ONCE) AGAIN released Summer 2014. Both her books HOME IS WHERE YOU ARE and PROVE ME WRONG are Amazon bestsellers. She is also the coauthor of the Amazon bestselling Beds Series. She has a hard time accepting the fact she’s in her early thirties (very early), and uses her characters to relive the best and worst years of her life. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Dowling College. When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera, reading, watching Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, or can be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz: Wickedly They Dream-Cathrina Constantine

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00002]Amazon/Goodreads

synEvil never rests.

Jordan hoped her life would change after the fiery death of the devious sorcerer, Asa Trebane. She was wrong. The Black Order of the Cult is gearing up to select a new Supreme Leader, and Lucifer will be judge and jury.

Seeley, Jordan’s mother, is possessed with a curse, and even the priests can’t find a solution to defeat the evil devouring her. Jordan must dig deeper into the Satanic realm and joins forces with a wicked witch to save her family from the clutches of Hell.

However, when things go awry with her guardian angel, Markus, Jordan is shrouded in her own longing as she faces the darkness without his light.

There’s trouble in paradise and souls are at stake as Jordan fights to hold onto a normal teenage life ~ the angel she loves ~ and a family that hangs in peril.

ExcerptSnippet 1:

Every so often, Jordan’s gaze strayed to the finely built human angel. His jersey spread over his muscled pecs, running the length of his narrowing torso. Her eyes dawdled on the exposed skin where his shirt had ridden up past the waistline of his jeans. Curious, she wondered if he bore a scar from the knife wound inflicted by Asa Trebane a month before. She’d always bear the burden of being a pawn in her angel’s intended demise.

Snippet 2:

While turning, Em’s hand dipped into the pocket of her chenille robe. Out poured a chain of beads, a rosary. She’d looked done in. The proof was in the slope of her shoulders as she hobbled down the hallway, fingering the beads.

Jordan was more than certain that Em hadn’t been fooled. Her grandmother had seen and heard plenty through the years. Also, she was convinced her grandmother was a true warrior in her own right. Her fight consisted of harnessing Satan with a beaded chain of prayers.

Snippet 3:

Breathing shallow, she scanned the thicket. Five yards ahead, she envisaged transparent waves, like shimmering heat on a blacktopped road. Within the airwaves, an image appeared, an exact replica of Father James kneeling, his spirit-like figure fading in and out.

His lips moved. “Join. Spiritually. Time. Running out.”

The words pitched in and out of her ears as if he was speaking through a

dysfunctional megaphone. “Weaken enchantments . . .”

Snippet 4:

With his back to Seeley, Mortimer called over his shoulder, “Asa’s procrastination in annihilating you, body and soul, has made you stronger.” He made a sweeping turn. “Heavenly powers guard the Chase women like hawks. Nevertheless, Jordan’s blood, and may I add, yours—” His red-rimmed eyes locked on her. “—will eventually be ours.”

Missed the first book?WTC Ebook CoverGrab it now on Amazon for only 99 Pennies!

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Jordan

ARC Review: Love Me, Love Me Not-Alyxandra Harvey

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Dating isn’t easy when you’re in the middle of a blood feud.

Anastasia Vila’s family can turn into swans, but just once she’d like them to turn into responsible adults.

After hundreds of years, they still cling to the blood feud with the Renard family. No one remembers how it started in the first place—but foxes and swans just don’t get along.

Vilas can only transform into their swan shape after they have fallen in love for the first time, but between balancing schoolwork, family obligations, and the escalating blood feud, Ana’s got no time for love. The only thing keeping her sane is her best friend, Pierce Kent.

But when Pierce kisses Ana, everything changes.

Is what Pierce feels for her real, or a byproduct of her magic? Can she risk everything for her best friend? And when the family feud spirals out of control, Ana must stop the fight before it takes away everything she loves.

Including, maybe…Pierce.

This Entangled Teen Crave book contains language, violence, and lots of kissing. Warning: it might induce strong feelings of undeniable attraction for your best friend.

review

4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Crave

Love Me, Love Me Not is an enchanting romance that reads like a fairytale. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into a magical Disney story. That fluttery, giddiness that comes with stumbling upon something out of this world is there in full force. Think Practical Magic when the jump off the rooftop at the end. THAT feeling. 

PROS:

  • The concept is fantastic. It’s a play on Romeo and Juliet with a fairytale twist and tons of swoons. The Vila’s are amazing. From their haunting songs and playful ballads that can call up the winds to their fierce bows and arrows, they’re quirky and powerful. Their parkour training and self-defense skills make them all sorts of empowered. Each Vila has a unique voice and personality-from the crazies to the promiscuous ones, they’re memorable. 
  • The story is fueled by love. In order to become a swan, the Vila girls must fall in love to earn their wings. Romance is everything to them and it’s through falling in love that they find themselves and truly understand what it means to be a swan. 
  • Swoon. Sigh. Swoon. Seriously. Smells like books and coffee? Um…is there anything sexier than that? On top of that Pierce is loyal, compassionate, playful, and always there for Ana. Their friendship is strong and feels oh so right. Their wish tree. That’s probably one of the coolest and most romantic things I’ve read in a long time. 
  • There’s some assault violence that is pretty terrifying. The feud between the foxes and swans is crazy intense. The bruises and bloodshed, the taunts, stealing special tokens, pulling pranks, it all adds up to a deadly battle of whims fueled by hundreds of years of hatred. 
  • Twists and turns that will keep you guessing. The clues are subtle. 
  • Gosh, where do I even begin? She’s adorably flustered and clumsy at times, her moments of trying to speak to her crush and failing miserably are not only something anyone can identify with but will make you die laughing. She’s open-minded, independent, and fights for what she believes in. And of course, she’s blind to what’s right in front of her but you can’t blame a girl for being scared to take the leap from friends to more. 

CONS:

  • There wasn’t enough kissing. No. Seriously. For a romance there wasn’t enough build up but the kisses that were there…you’ll feel like you’re floating. Total out-of-your-mind, butterflies.
  • The villain felt randomly inserted, well, the main villain. The clues were so sparse that when the reveal happened, yes, it was shocking but you also had to scramble to figure out why. There wasn’t enough to lead you to that conclusion.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

 

NOTE: I am using this for the “main character who is not human” on the 2016 YA Reading Challenge

 

Happy reading, 

Jordan