Review: Nature of Grace #1, Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

12731861Blurb from Goodreads

16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

Kindle Edition, 315 pages
Published November 29th 2011 by Coleman & Stott (first published November 15th 2011)
edition language: English
series: Nature of Grace
genre: Suspense, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

Let’s be honest, I requested this book from NetGalley because 1) the cover reminded me of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. 2) The main character, Grace Wells is quite similar to Caledonia from The Athena Effect series by Derrolyn Anderson. I love both series and somehow I thought that I might like this one too, though I didn’t set my hope high. Just in case it isn’t as good as I think before so I won’t too disappointed, if you know what I mean.

So this is a story about 16 years old girl, Grace Wells, who loves nature. Her dad is a wildlife officer. One day her dad is gone, missing, out of the blue. Everybody in her town believed that he’s already died because of drowning in one of the rivers in Smoky Mountains. Grace refused their thought she believes he’s still alive. Therefore she does her own research into the deep Smoky Mountains.

[…]I – a sixteen-year-old tomboy who can build a fire from scratch, yet can’t seem to cut her own bangs straight— […]

From the moment Grace was introduced I already loved her. She’s smart (though she said it depends on to whom you talking to), fierce, brave and independence. But she’s also impulsive and stubborn. Those qualities sometimes annoying me but other time have its perks for her research. One thing I understand well is her love for nature and animals. It’s like her purpose is to protect them, aside to find her dad, of course. She talks about it all the time. She even made a metaphor/analogy based on animals and nature which I really liked, by the way. It convinced me of how good she is as a character.

Without saying anything, I study his eyes. They’re similar in color to mine, except mine resemble algae; his are more of a muted pine green, which reminds me of the deep forest.

I peer through a crack in the wood, wondering if this is what a roach feels like.
The story itself was quite simple, I can guess some of the important things from first part of the story. But the way it was written made me kept wondering whether what I thought was right or wrong. It surely was a page-turner book since I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It also has a very good paced. I liked how the author built the tension. There were time for funny and sad moments but there was also times when my heart beat fast with Grace. I just love the roller coaster feeling that I got while I read this.
However it also has things that felt like kind of farfetched to me. It didn’t make me less enjoy it, though. In fact reading this book brought back my memory and feeling like when I read one of my favorite detective books when I was a child, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. It’s a good feeling since I seemed couldn’t get enough of the story, just like now I think I should read its soon
Result: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Review: Queen of the Realm of Faerie #2, Flower of Isbelline by Heidi Garrett

The Flower of Isbelline (Queen of the Realm of Faerie #2)

Blurb from Goodreads

Now, the half-faerie Melia must save her sister from a false marriage, and their world from a dark power. Her sister is determined to pursue their father’s damning legacy—even if the cost of denying true love is apocalyptic. Melia races to possess the magic basin and sword, but will she be in time to stop her beautiful sister from unleashing the powerful Umbra from the Void?

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie series is inspired by the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine.

ebook, 3rd edition, 195 pages
Published December 2012 by Half-Faerie Publishing
edition language: English
genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
series: Queen of the Realm of Faerie #2
My Thoughts
This second book of The Queen of The Realm of Faerie series is the beginning of Melia’s journey. In the end of Nandana’s Mark we knew that Plantine was captivated by Lord Zacharia Goring. He needs her as Umbra’s ‘body’. In order to avoid Umbra’s incarnation Melia together with Ryder and Sinjiin have to prevent it. And so her journey begins.
Like other fantasy stories, Melia needs companion to help her along her journey. Aside Ryder and Sinjiin, Flora, Tuck and Tatou accompany her. Each companion has own purposes and different from Melia’s goal but it makes the story interesting because in some way they have to make priority.If you think Nandana’s Mark was slow-paced, you wouldn’t find it here. This story is fast-paced and there are a lot of actions. I mean there are surprises and more adventure than book one because Melia’s journey didn’t easier. Although her main purpose is to go to Stronghold, she has to take many routes with interesting adventure. Each journey intertwined and influenced each other.
As a sequel, Ms. Garrett didn’t waste time and pages to tell the story. The introduction of the world building and the characters had already done in Nandana’s Mark. It made this book worked faster than the prequel. And make me as a reader couldn’t keep my eyes of it. I also love the way she introduce her next focus character from previous book. It’s like she prepares it for her reader to pay more attention to her next characters, at least that’s what I felt. In Nandana’s Mark she told Flora only in two chapters but then she has bigger role here. She is one of Melia’s companions. Similar case for Sevondi, the dragonwitch also has more stories here (and after the cover and the title of book 3 reveal) I bet main focus of The Dragon Carnivale, will be about her. It makes me think that she indeed writes her books as a series. She has already planned it before wrote it.
But I have to admit that I’m quite hard to connect to the time setting in The Realm of Faerie that seems parallel to my time, with the guns and movies that mention in it. But then again, I guess I have to adjust my mind and keep remember that it indeed has the same time as our world.
All in all, I love this sequel more than Nandana’s Mark and look forward for book #3, Dragon Carnivale.
Result: 4/5 Stars
*Paintings courtesy of Allan Lee.

Review: Queen of the Realm of Faerie #1, Nandana’s Mark

Nandana's Mark (Queen of the Realm of Faerie, #1)Blurb from Goodreads

As a half-faerie and an outcast, Melia longs to fly–like her mother and the other fullblood faeries. However, her lack of wings becomes the least of her concerns when startling visions of destruction, linked to her father’s ambitions, escalate. Desperate to stop them, Melia visits the Illustrator and receives a strange mark on her forehead. The mark will draw a green-eyed stranger–one who shares her obsessions–to the Realm of Faerie.

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie series is inspired by the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine.

ebook, 210 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Half-Faerie Publishing
edition language: English
genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
series: Queen of the Realm of Faerie #1
My Thoughts
Fantasy is my most favorite genre. It’s full of imagination and magic. I didn’t mean other genre doesn’t have it but fantasy book always has stories beyond my imagination and allow my thought wandering to the mystical place with awesome characters. Nandana’s Mark has a lot of thing a fantasy book I loved and it contains with characters from original story. I love when story takes from the original. A story that I used to know then the author creates a new one. Here I met elves, faeries, trolls, witches, dwarves with their metalwork skill, serpentine and even a tool that can see what happen in the present and future, a tool similar to the mirror of Galadriel or Dumbledore’s Pensieve. Here it called Ormrun, a bejeweled basin forged by Gweff, the dwarf.
I have to admit it was a little bit hard reading this book in the beginning of the story. There are a lot of name for a lot of character and places. In some parts I cannot differentiate whether it is a place or character’s name. On the other hand, I love those names. It feels and sounds suitable with the story. The elves and faeries name sounds beautiful, as beautiful as their appearance. The places name match with its magical world. I even think one of the character’s names, Ryder, is a good choice for him. He isn’t from The Realm of Faerie so his name has sound different from Melia’s kin but fit with the whole story. I kind of hope his name has another meaning, more than just a word to call him. Just like Aragorn who also known as Strider. Yet, I like the way Ms. Garrett wrote her story. The writing was beautiful and flawless. I can’t believe this is her debut. She and her editor surely did a great job.
Another thing that quite hard for me was its geography. After read chapter one I knew that there are two worlds, The Enchanted World and Mortal World. At first I thought that The Enchanted World is consists of Illialei and Tyrannis then I read about Ryder. I feel he isn’t from The Enchanted World but I know that he isn’t from Mortal World either. That left me a question where is he come from? Then it reveals in a couple more chapters that The Enchanted World actually consists of The Realm of Faerie and many other places while Illialei and Tyrannis are countries in The Realm of Faerie. The Realm of Faerie itself described in chapter 11 so I misinterpreted it for 10 chapters. It kind of irritated me, but to be honest I actually can avoid it if I look at in the back of the book. There are glossaries in the back but I’m kind of person who don’t like to look at the end of the book to avoid spoiler. So I didn’t realize there are glossaries in it until a while. It taught me to look carefully to book’s contents though 😀To avoid the confusion of its geography I think it will be good if Ms. Garrett put a map on the book or even better 2 maps. A map about The Realm of the Faerie put in the front and The Enchanted World in the back of the book. I bet it will help readers to read and picture it easily.

Other than that, I love Nandana’s Mark, it has everything I love from fantasy book. I honestly think it needs to be recognized and read by many readers.
Result: 4/5 Stars

Review: Elements of Power #1, Fire by Heather James

Fire (Elements of Power, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads

Is control over the elements a gift, or a curse?

Roxy thinks that she is in control of everything: with flames flaring at her fingertips and an equally fiery attitude, what more could she need? But then she meets Brae, a prince from a rival Realm, who turns her assumptions of superiority upside down.

Jasmine has none of Roxy’s confidence or intensity. But she does have a secret – and Brae – and she’s not going to give either up willingly.

ebook, 202 pages
Published: January 5th 2013 by Heather James
(first published January 1st 2013)
edition language: English
genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
series: Elements of Power #1
My Thoughts

This review contains spoilers, I cannot hide it since it needed in my review.
This is a story about a world with 4 realms, Helian, Arcan, Sephan and Brizan. Each realm has different element as their power. They live side by side but don’t get along well there is prejudice against each realm. In this series the stories focus on Helian and Arcan realm. Helian with fire as their power considered the strongest among others while Arcan has air as their protector.

When I read the blurb I thought it will be like Brigid Kemmerer Elemental Series especially book #2, Spark.
I love her books so I kind of prepare myself Fire will be predictable and similar to Spark. But Ms. James proved me I was wrong. She created a very different story with unpredictable plot line in some parts. Why were only some parts? Because in another part I still could guess it. But I still love unpredictable story nonetheless.I rarely read a story told from 2 heroines. It usually told from female or male POV or even both of them, but rarely from 2 females POV. So I was quite surprise when I found out I read it based on Roxanne and Jasmine POV. Roxanne or Roxy, as she prefer is a Helian who is just completed her training as a Protector. She, of course, can control fire and a second line of throne. While Jasmine aka Jazz is raise as an Arcan. She (thought) didn’t have a power. She’s an orphan who has a close relationship with the royal family especially with Brae, the prince of Arcan. Between those POV it’s quite hard to guess who are the protagonist and the antagonist. Each person has their own virtue and vice. Although I like Roxy more than Jazz I think I can predict what will happen to Jazz next, yet I would like to know more about her. Hope Ms. James surprises me with her story and proves me wrong once again.

I like the idea of this story but I’m quite confused with the world building and the setting of it. In the beginning of the story, I picture it happen in some long time ago. The elementals that influence 4 realms and the dagger which Roxy used made me think it’s like in Robin Hood kind of time. But then I read about technology and electronic devices. They have car yet they take their journey to another realm by ship. I assumed if they invented car, they also have a plane and live like in our time now. While I picture the ship is just like a traditional ship from a long time ago.There is also inconsistency which made me have to reread a couple times to understand what it’s all about. In chapter 11, it mentions that Roxy take a ride by bike with Vincent I was desperate for the bike to move faster so that I could reach them then it mention they got out of the carVincent pulled over in a secluded district by the river and got out of the car. And then again Elated by my double victory, I followed him back to the bike.

Then in chapter 32 Jazz and Imogen hide under the table I gestured wildly to one of the tables which had a long table cloth hanging down in front of it and Imogen and I dived underneath, moments before the door opened and a large group walked in. Through a small gap to my left I watched as five Helians came into the room, accompanied by Lorelie, the youngest of the Brizan Protectors.I recognised one of the Helians as Roxy’s friend Avery, but Roxy herself was missing. She was smiling joyfully at an older man – also a Protector – and said “I can’t believe it’s worked! This is fantastic! What are we going to make her do?”A tall, stern woman, whose brown hair was bland compared to the vibrant blue and reds of the Protectors, rounded on Avery instantly. They dive underneath the table so I assume they aren’t stand straight but some kind of in squat position or even sit down. Hence they couldn’t see who are stand beside the table moreover see their smile and hair color. They more likely could only see their feet.

Again in chapter 35 Before I could react he grabbed my wrists and slotted ornate manacles onto them….. Avery grinned widely as I approached and I was quick to conceal the manacles behind my backhow do you conceal your wrists which have manacles on it behind your back? I couldn’t picture it.

The inconsistences kind of bother me but after read a few reviews it seem no body mentions it. Am I the only one who realizes it? Or did I misunderstand it? Or did I miss something along in the sentences?Thanks to Ms. Heather James and YA Reader’s Lounge from Goodreads for the opportunity to read it for honest review. This is as honest as I can be.

PS: I love the cover but I think the tag line is better in different font color, so that I can read it from afar. It can be in the same color as the author name or same color with book’s title.

Result: 2.5/5 Stars

Review: The Athena Effect #2, The MacKenzie Legacy by Derrolyn Anderson

The Mackenzie Legacy (The Athena Effect #2)

Blurb from Goodreads

As their story continues, Calvin and Caledonia find themselves madly in love, on the run, and nearly out of money. When Cal stumbles upon a way to cash in on Cali’s powers, their life on the road becomes a life of leisure. Despite the easy money and newfound luxury, Caledonia’s conscience begins to trouble her.

A disturbing warning only serves to confirm her misgivings, making her question her purpose in life. Finally, a shocking discovery about the true nature of her powers points the way forward, sending the two Cals on a dangerous rescue mission.

Caledonia tries her best to right the wrongs of the past, but will she only end up provoking new and even more dangerous enemies?

ebook, 200 pages
Published 2012 by DerrolynAnderson
edition language: English
genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
series: The Athena Effect #2
My Thoughts

The MacKenzie Legacy contains of two stories, Cali & Cal and Layla & Michael. It takes place right after The Athena Effect. Cali and Cal are on the run from Professor Reed into Cali’s cabin which will belong to her when she’s 18. In order to save their money, they took the journey in a very tight budget they mostly spent the night in a tent. I love the way Cal described how good Cali is with all of camping and hiking things. I can see that she’s in her element, things that she’s familiar with. And I still consider that they are one of my favorite couples. I love their relationship, they are so cute together. But Cal begin questioning himself whether he is worth enough for Cali and afraid that she will leave him eventually. This thought kind of engrossed him along the story. I like this new Cal, I mean in The Athena Effect he’s just a popular boy who didn’t care about the world, here he realize that he have to keep Cali save and at the same time he wants to make her happy. It makes him do the things that I know will cause them trouble when I first read it, they gambling on horse track and went to Vegas.

Meanwhile Layla and Michael have bigger story here. Max has his own agenda when he took them from Professor Reed. He takes advantages from the twins. Layla wants to run away but didn’t have a gut to do alone while Michael gladly become Max right hand since he’s kind of jealous with Professor Reed attention to his sister and made him feel less worthy. At first I was a little bit annoyed with Layla, I keep telling her to just run away, leave Michael and ignore Max threat yet I understand her fear. She spent her life do everything she was told, when she was ordered to do it. In some way her life is worse than Cali.

As the sequel, Derrolyn Anderson didn’t spend pages to introduce her characters and the story anymore. Sometimes when I read a sequel, the authors tend to describe or retold the prequel, I didn’t see it in here. Instead she develops the story and the characters, especially Layla and Michael. She also made the story more serious, I can see that the characters realize that their live is in danger and they have to run away. But I still find funny moments from Cali here and there since she’s still learning new things.

Calvin upgraded their motorcycle gear, buying them expensive leather jackets and pants, heavy boots, and shiny new helmets. He picked out new T-shirts with all kinds of images printed on them– designs that puzzled her. “Why are there so many skulls on them?” she asked, “What does it mean?” He shrugged, “I dunno, I just think it just looks kinda cool.” “It looks kind of anatomical” she observed

Although I’m not quite sure about the theme changing of the story. I really enjoyed reading it. It has surprises and twist that I didn’t see at all and when I read it I wonder why I didn’t think about it. This story is fast-paced but I think I need more drama in it. I’m kind of hope gambling and Las Vegas story and Layla and Michael run away from Max ended more dramatic. I think that their journey too easily. But then again, if I can manipulate people’s mind maybe there is nothing impossible and I can do anything easier.

In the end, the characters are like out of the frying-fan into the fire (again). I hope the sequel will not only tell the bigger ‘fire’ that chase the characters but also explain more about The MacKenzies and the unfinished business that Layla feel she has to do makes me eager to read their next journey, Caledonia inheritance.

Result: 3.5/5 Stars

Review: The Athena Effect by Derrolyn Anderson

The Athena Effect (The Athena Effect, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads

Caledonia has been kept a secret her entire life, raised in isolation by two very troubled people. Despite her parent’s disturbing fits, Cal is perfectly content, living at one with the nature that surrounds her, and finding adventure inside the pages of her beloved books. When an awful tragedy tears her away from her remote cabin in the woods, nothing she’s ever read has prepared her for a world that she knows very little about.

Girls and motorcycles are what bad-boy Calvin’s life is all about. Brought up in a raucous party house by his biker brother, he’s free to do as he pleases, going through the motions on his final days of high school. Aimless, Cal stopped thinking about his future a long time ago.

Attacked by a gang of thugs while running an errand for his brother, Cal is in serious trouble until a fierce girl appears out of nowhere to intervene. She chases off three grown men, sparing Cal a brutal beating before disappearing into the night like a spirit. He can’t stop thinking about his mysterious rescuer, and when she turns out to be the weird new girl at school who goes out of her way to avoid him, he can’t contain his curiosity.

He’s never met anyone like her before, and the more he learns about the unusual girl who shares his nickname, the more he wants to know. Cal can’t help falling for Cal, but can he keep her from falling victim to a dangerous enemy from her parent’s tragic past?

ebook, 221 pages
Published August 30th 2012 (first published August 29th 2012)
edition language:English
genre: Sci-fi, Young Adult
series: The Athena Effect #1
My Thought
He smiled at her again, wondering how she could be such a contradiction. She knew so much, and yet almost nothing at the same time.

This is a story about a girl who lives in the country cabin for her entire life. She never gets formal education yet she’s smart. She’s unique and beautiful but skilled at blending in to the background. She’s good with knife but afraid when have to attend a public school. She had read Grey’s Anatomy but didn’t know its movie. She read a lot but doesn’t know what google is. This is a story about Caledonia McKenzie.

Caledonia or Cal reminds me of Jodie Foster’s Nell. She live away from modern life, it makes her seem naïve and innocent but strong and capable of things most people don’t. I can’t help myself to not love her, she’s so unique. I think she’s the most unusual character in contemporary romance YA books I’ve read. The fact that she’s an avid reader is a plus to love her more. As Calvin said she’s a contradiction.

Calvin or Cal is a senior at the same school with Cal, or he prefer called her Cali. My first impression of this Cal is an ignorant boy. He doesn’t care about school or anyone think and doesn’t have a plan what he’s going to do with his life after high school. But after he met Cali, he’s hard to resist. He’s so focus and persistent in a good way. He teaches Cali and vice versa. I love the way they teach each other. It’s kind of cute and sweet while in some part hilarious.

She met his curious eyes, “How did you know what Caledonia means?”
He looked sheepish, smiling, “I Googled you.”
She looked confused, “You what-ed me?”
“I searched you on the net.” She looked even more confused, and he realized that she really did grow up without electricity. “You know, on a computer.”
“Oh… computers. I don’t know how to use them.”
“It’s not that hard, and you can find out anything you want to know.”
Her eyes flew open wide, “And you found me?”

“It’s good,” Jarod nodded, surprised. “What did you put on the potatoes?”
“Where did you get that?” asked Calvin.
She looked at him like he was mad, “It’s growing all alongside of your house!”

Through Cali & Cal eyes I can see that even a simple thing in live can be a big one for other eyes. Cali spent many her first experiences with Cal while he sees it in a different way. What I like the most about their relationship is it goes slowly. Lots of relationships in the story I read connected with such a rush, an insta-love. It didn’t happen with both of them but it feels more real for me. I can feel their connection grow each pages.As much as I like the writing, in some part I wish that it wrote in first person point of view. Maybe it’s because I’m dying to read through Cali and Cal’s mind, to know their opinion about each other. But then again, though this story wrote in third person POV Ms Anderson wrote it well. And I still really enjoyed it.
To be honest it’s kind of hard to decide how many stars I give it. I really enjoyed it but there are some parts that blur to me. The part that Cal seems has money but I don’t know where he got it. I mean I kinda want to know whether he got it from work or his brother gave him or what else, while I picture him as a middle class citizen without a job with his father in jail. The professor isn’t bad enough for me. Yes he caused many problems but he seems too easily to be tricked. And there are scenes that I’m quite hard to imagine it *spoiler is it possible for Cal to throw pebbles to 4th floor when Cali was kidnapped and stayed in Layla’s room? How can Cali put her head on Cal’s back while she wear a helmet?
And just like another books I loved, I have favorite scenes and a song that fit it. Here they are:
“Don’t be afraid,” he told her, “I’ll be right next to you. I won’t let anything happen to you”

 And then
He understood the feeling, slipping his arm around her waist to draw her closer. She smiled up at him, “Thank you so much for bringing me here.”

“What are you doing?”

“I said I’d make breakfast,” she replied.

He looked over her shoulder at the stovetop, “Yeah, but I figured we needed to go grocery shopping first. We don’t do a whole lot of cooking around here.”

She shrugged, “I’m used to improvising. It should be ready in about fifteen minutes.” She bent over to peek at something in the oven and Calvin had the urge to pick her up, set her on the counter and kiss her passionately. She looked up at him quizzically, as if she’d just read his mind, and it occurred to him that she pretty much could.

“I’d better go take a shower,” he said, kissing her on the cheek instead.

Day Too Soon by Sia is my soundtrack for Cal and Cal

Pick me up in your arms
Carry me away from harm
You’re never gonna put me down
I know you’re just one good man
You’ll tire before we see land
You’re never gonna put me down

Oh I’ve been running all my life
I ran away, I ran away from good
Yeah I’ve been waiting all my life
You’re not a day you’re not day too soon

Honey I will stitch you
Darling I will fit you in my heart
Honey I will meet you
Darling I will keep you in my heart

You’ll risk all this for just a kiss
I promise I will not resist
Promise you won’t hold me down
And when we reach a good place
Let’s be sure to leave no trace
Promise they won’t track us down

Now I’ve been running all my life
I ran away, I ran away from good
Yeah, I’ve been waiting all my life
You’re not a day, you’re not a day too soon

Honey I will stitch you
Darling I will feel you in my heart
Honey I will meet you
Darling I will keep you in my heart

I’ve been running all my life
I ran away, I ran away from good
Yeah I’ve been waiting all my life
You’re not a day, you’re not a day too soon

Oh honey I will stitch you
Darling I will feel you in my heart
Honey I will meet you
Darling I will keep you in my heart

Result: 3.5/5 Stars