Review: Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters

20749039Blurb from Goodread

Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.

Ellie Mccallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.

Particularly Freaky Flynn.

Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger’s. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.

But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.

And moved on.

Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.

When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.

And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.

But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.

Kindle Edition, 295 pages
Published March 17th 2014
language edition: English
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
This book, just like Find You in the Dark teaches me something new, about Asperger’s. I never heard about it till I read A Song for Julia, it doesn’t mention much there, but it gets my attention. So when I knew A. Meredith Walters has new book and that her other mental illness story was really good, I know that I have to read it.

And I’m happy I read it. I know now about Asperger’s more than before. It’s so sad to know that Flynn has to struggle really hard every minute yet so damn proud when he can do thing that he’s afraid to do. I think it’s because the way Ms. Walters writes it. She describes it so clear at some part I hate the way Ellie and her friends treat him. I was just so angry I want to scream at her and ask her how can she do that, doesn’t she have a heart? And when they finally realize their feeling I was wondering how they make their relationship work because I know it will be so hard.

Reading the story from Ellie POV brings a lot of emotions to me, sad, sympathy, proud, happy and mostly angry and hate are there along the story. However, I wish I get more Flynn POV, especially regarding his feeling about his present relationship with Ellie while I only get his story when they were teenagers.

However, the plot is quite predictable I can see it clearly. There isn’t anything that surprised me. It’s like I don’t need to wonder what will happen next, instead I only read and waiting for it to happen.

This is definitely one hard reading for me. Again, there are so many emotions in it and so much dislike toward Ellie. And at some point I also couldn’t quite believe how easy it seems for Flynn to forgive Ellie. But in the end, I think to forgive and forget is their way to make their relationship work because they believe that they do have relationship.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

17368138Blurb from Goodread

A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?

ebook, 111 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Balzer + Bray
language edition: English
series: Cruel Beauty Universe
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
This book begins with “My mother loved me more than life itself. That’s how everything went wrong.” That single paragraph intrigued me, because what can be wrong with the love of a mother who loves you more than anything, though there is also a song, Indonesian song, that called “Love that Kill You”. And after reading this novella, I know that yes, apparently love can kill you.

To be honest, I don’t know much about Cinderella story. I only know one version of the story. It’s Disney version which is way different than this story. Just like Cruel Beauty, this retelling is far from sweet, easy, cheerful story like Disney created. It’s the opposite. It’s dark, eerie and cruel with ironic story. After all, it’s about the bargain with the demon, nothing sweet you will get when you do it, right? That’s the connection between Gilded Ashes and Cruel Beauty. Gentle Lord makes an appearance here, to grant wishes from characters in this story. With him alone and his connection, I think the author can create many stories.

Again, just like Cruel Beauty I feel like it’s a new story. Maia or the Cinderella in this story doesn’t need prince charming to save her from her stepmother. She’s strong and brave enough to save herself and help her stepsisters. She’s also witty, smart and honest, though in her honesty there is also deceit. She likes and good at deceiving, though her reason is to protect her love ones. She’s a complicated and a weird character. And that’s why I love her.

I think this is a perfect companion for Cruel Beauty, one thing that doesn’t quite perfect is it’s a novella. It’s too short while I want more of Maia and Lord Anax and even Kore and Thea, Maia stepsisters.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: The Malediction Trilogy #1, Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

17926775Blurb from Goodread

For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy…

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

ebook, 324 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Strange Chemistry
language edition: English
series: The Malediction Trilogy
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Although I can’t wait to read this book, there’s a part of me that doubt it will be good. As the blurb says, it’s about troll while the troll I know is the kind that turn to stone under the sun, the ugly creature who loves to boil human, the one like Tom, Bert and William from The Hobbit. So I was kind of wondering how will Danielle Jensen creates it into something good, nice, if not pretty creature without being too romanticized it. Tristan, the troll prince, says the troll I know is just human made-up, a myth that far from reality. Through his voice, along with Cécile, a human girl and the main character in this story, I believe that that is true.

It’s been a while since I read a fantasy book that feel like it takes place in and/or part of this world history. Most of fantasy books I read these days seem so far away from our time. Yeah I know that’s why it’s called fantasy but it also feels nice when I read fantasy that I feel like it’s a part of human history. A story I can relate too. Reading this book bring those feeling. The troll world with their knowledge of solar system, earthquake, and all make it close to the world I know. Hence I feel like Cecile and Tristan story is a part of our world, a history that can be read and relate to. It might sound weird, but I like that feeling.

As the main characters, Cécile and Tristan are easy to love and connect with. Tristan, the heir of Trollus has different perspective of his world from his father. It leads him into rebellion. Through Cecile’s eyes, I get that he’s perfect and swoon worthy. He is indeed perfect but it’s Cecile that makes me keep reading this book. She doesn’t have strength or magic like troll, easy to bleed and needs time to heal. She’s fragile compare to troll. She’s human. But to me she’s strong and brave. She refuses to be helpless and useless. Aside them, I also love supporting characters. Tristan friends, the twin Vincent and Victoria, I never get bored reading their antics. Marc, I love him I want him to have his own happy ending and Anais, she’s surprising me through and through. I even like reading Zoe and Elise and other half-blood.

I don’t think this book can begin and end better than what already has. The beginning makes me curious of the story. It draws me to read more, to know and understand the characters and their story while the ending makes sense, believable and left me wanting more. It also begins and ends with action. I think I can say that this book is full of action and tension, at least that’s what I feel. It’s fast-paced, though the pace is a little bit slower in the middle of the story. But it isn’t a problem for me because that’s where I learn more about Tristan world and their political intrigue. It doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happened in the middle of the story, though. I assure you, there are a lot of things happened, some predictable, some aren’t. One thing for sure there is always tension in it.

All in all, I love this book. Everything in it is perfect. And should I say that it’s well written with beautiful-magical worldbuilding and doesn’t have an insta-love or I-feel-like-I-know-you-forever-and-can’t-live-without-you kind of line? For me, it couldn’t be more perfect.

Result: 5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Winner’s Trilogy #1, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

16069030Blurb from Goodread

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

ebook, 355 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
language edition: English
series: The Winner’s Trilogy
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Oh, hype why can we not be together?

With the blurb that intriguing, glorious reviews and a very pretty cover, I have high hope with this book. Unfortunately it’s just another perfect packaging that didn’t match my hope.
First few chapters were a page-turner for me. It can capture my attention to the story and I was so curious of what will happen next to Kestrel and her world. But my curiosity was just a curiosity since there isn’t much happens on the story it became boring at first part of the book. Thank goodness the pace finally picked up and there are thing that made it more interesting, though I have to say that it wasn’t surprising either since I mostly can guess it.

I think this book has good idea and could be an awesome book but somewhere along the pages there are a lot of plot holes, stupid-unbelievable holes that I can’t help to not ignore it. It made me think that how came most of the characters act so reckless, if not stupid.

10 years isn’t a long time for a new nation or state of whatever I should call Kestrel place, especially when the conqueror lives side by side with the conquered who become a slave to the new ruler at their own house and land. There will still be prejudice, hate, suspicious and whatnot with each other. Hence, it’s on their nature and instinct if they protect each other highly. But I didn’t see it in this book, at least not in the way Kestrel, Arin and even her father, who is a general of the empire, act and treat each other. They trust each other easily. It’s just not right and I didn’t buy it, instead it made me mad of their recklessness or ignorant or even stupidity?

And then there is also romance between a mistress and her slave which I was waiting for it anxiously, to be honest since I love star-crossed romance, but more than half of the story I didn’t buy it either. I couldn’t see why they’re fall in love. Yeah I know love doesn’t need reason but it has to believable for me to buy it. I don’t think it’s an insta-love since there is time for each other to build their relationship. But they don’t see, meet or interact as much either. I felt like they romance comes out of nowhere just for the sake of star-crossed love story.

However, I’m kinda liked the way it ended. I liked Kestrel decision for Herrani and its impact for her life. I think it’s the only thing that made me decided to round it up to 3 stars, aside that I’m feeling generous right now. And I’ll read the sequel for sure, just for the sake of my curiosity.

Result: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Review: In Too Deep by Coert Voorhees

15998997Blurb from Goodread

Annie Fleet, master scuba diver and history buff, knows she can’t fight her nerd status as a freshman at her Los Angeles private school. And she doesn’t care—except for the fact that her crush, Josh, thinks she’s more adorable than desirable. Annie is determined to set him straight on their school trip to Mexico. But her teacher has other plans: he needs Annie to help him find Cortez’s lost-long treasure.

Suddenly, Annie finds herself scuba diving in pitch-black waters, jetting to Hawaii with Josh, and hunting for the priceless Golden Jaguar. But Annie and Josh aren’t the only ones lured by the possibility of finding the greatest treasure ever lost at sea. Someone else wants the gold—and needs Annie dead. In deeper danger than she ever imagined, can Annie get the boy and find the Jaguar, or is she in over her head?

Critically-acclaimed author Coert Voorhees delivers breathtaking romance and non-stop action in his newest novel, the spirited and captivating In Too Deep.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Disney Hyperion
language edition: English
genre: Contemporary, Adventure, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I think this is a really nice adventure young adult (YA) story, though in some part I felt like what happened with the treasure hunting was way simpler and easier than it could be. I spent most of my YA life reading adventure stories and remember that I always wanted to be part of it, this book brings those memories.

I know nothing about scuba diving or places that take place in this story. But the way the author wrote it, made it wasn’t difficult for me to be there in the story. It’s well written with enough description to guide reader, who doesn’t familiar with diving and treasure hunting like myself, to picture it and understand what Annie was talking about.

As YA, I’m aware that there is romance story in it. I’m glad that it didn’t take over the story. It wasn’t an insta-love, and when it happened, it felt more real and natural. It’s a subplot but it didn’t overwhelm the main focus, the treasure hunting. And that treasure hunting part was really good. In some part I really couldn’t wait of what will happen with the characters and their golden jaguar hunting.

However, my favorite part was Annie Fleet, the main character and narrator of this book. She’s what I think a scuba diving and treasure hunting geek is. She’s well train and a certified scuba diver and has a huge crush to Josh Rebstock a son of an academy award winning actress. I think she’s a lovable character. It was easy to love her from the moment she’s introduced. She’s smart, witty and I just love her geekiness, though she tries to hide it so many times. But it’s just cute and most importantly she could be funny without being force to do it.

ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
Result: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: Everneath #3, Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

13626692Blurb from Goodread

Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself… which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Balzer + Bray
language edition: English
series: Everneath
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Yes, Nikki, not only queen Adonia, I can also see you. I see your journey from the Everneath to the Surface and back again to Everneath and then another trip to the Surface to end up again in Everneath. Yes, I follow you from book 1 to this book in less than a month. And yes, it means that I read your first journey long after the hype. Although it wasn’t great, I think it can be awesome so I still follow your journey till the end.

The thing is I don’t quite like you in first two books. To me you’re a whinny ungrateful heroine. But again I still read your story. I’m kinda wish that after back and forth between the Everneath and the Surface you will change into someone I can love. But you’re still you. Well…maybe it’s just you being who you are but after three books who you are are annoying the hell out of me. I thought you can be braver, wiser and more responsible after so many things happened to you. And why do you often repeat what is told to you again and again and still doesn’t understand it? when you repeat it once or twice just to make sure of it, I can understand it but when you talk the same time more than twice, you’re kinda insult me because it makes me think that you’re not sure that I can understand what you and other characters talk. You and also other characters have a habit that I don’t like. You guys love talking and rambling about everything very much. I think the main thing of this book is only in a few chapters toward the end.

I also have to say that I don’t like Jack either here. Well…I don’t quite like him before since I couldn’t connect to him in the first place. In this book, he’s just so overdramatic (?) He’s like another drama queen to me. Yes I’m aware that this book is also, if not mostly, about romance but reading his undying love profess to you and the way he act like a caveman while you don’t have any choice is very annoying.

The only think I liked from this book is Cole. I don’t even pay attention to the action scenes anymore since most things are annoying and frustrating from the beginning. Actually I don’t care about the love triangle either. I’m fine with whoever you choose but I can’t see that you and Jack are meant to be together while I think you and Cole are perfect. I liked him more than I like any other character, including you, Nikki. I can connect to him, understand him and he’s a believable character to me.
Result: 2 out of 5 stars

Review: Breathe Into Me by Sara Fawkes

18524000Blurb from Goodread

How did my life get so broken?  It’s a question Lacey St. James asks herself every day. Stuck raising her little brother in a trailer park while she works a dead end job at a grocery store, she has a stalker exboyfriend, a bad reputation, and no way out.

And then she meets Everett, whose presence changes her entire existence.

Everett is an outsider to her small community, in town for the summer housesitting one of the grand mansions off the Mississippi coast. When he saves her in a bar one night, she’s grateful but wary of his intentions. Lacey doesn’t trust most men in her life, but for reasons Lacey can’t understand, Everett is completely captivated by her. He’s determined to show her that life can offer more than she’d ever hoped for, if only she believes in herself. As she works with him to free herself, Lacey desperately yearns to trust him, to move on and perhaps start fresh.

But what happens when she finds out that everything he’s told her about himself was a lie?

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by St. Martin’s Press
language edition: English
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
I think this book started pretty good, despite my feeling toward Lacey, the main character, who lets Ashley, her so-called friend, treats her like a trash. I just couldn’t understand why she lets Ashley uses her. So I’m happy when she realizes it and cut their friendship. Aside Ashley, most of everyone in her small town also treats her badly, especially her mom, her grandmother and her boyfriend. Again, I’m frustrated with the way she handles them. I really want her to have gut to stand up for herself, though I also quite understand her fear. The thing is she’s an adult. I see her as an adult so I want her to act like an adult, to stop reasoning her fear, stop running away and stop being a victim. On the other hand, her life creates drama and angst which are my guilty pleasure in romance books. Hence I really enjoyed reading it.

Unfortunately, the more I read it’s kind of loose focus to me. There are a lot of things, bad things happens to Lacey at the same time. In some part, it feels like it’s described only in the surface, not deep enough to make me connected to the characters and story well. And I feel like it becomes too much drama and angst. With those drama and angst, I think Lacey has to take her priority, decides what is the most important thing in her life. And when she doesn’t take it, I’m quite disappointed. I just can’t believe she’s barely does anything regarding her brother when I think he’s her priority in her life at the time. Yes, again I understand how deep her grandmother words influence her, but can she at least tries? It’s like she’s waiting every bad things to happen all at once before she seek help and handle it at the end of the story, all at the same time.

However, I really like the way Lacey and Everett relationship builds. It’s believable and makes sense to me. The same case happens to Lacey relationship with Clare. She takes both relationships slowly and it suits with her personality, a person who cannot trust people easily. I think this book has so much potential but at the same it also too much and lack something and there are inconsistency with the characters and the story.

ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
Result: 2.5 out of 5 stars