Review: The Heart of Betrayal

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. PearsonTitle: The Heart of Betrayal
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2

About: Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

My Thoughts: It’s hard to believe it’s been about a year since I reviewed The Kiss of Deception, the first book in this series. It seems like it couldn’t have been that long ago — and that’s a very good thing. It means I remembered it. And that it really was as good as I’d said. (Sometimes I look back and wonder why I can’t remember something that got such a high rating!)

The Heart of Betrayal is fast-paced, intriguing, exciting, engrossing, and surprising. Yes, some things weren’t so surprising, but I realize that now in retrospect. I didn’t find myself guessing early on what was coming. I think that’s because I was so engrossed in the story that I just enjoyed myself. Nice! :)

Lia is awesome. She’s strong but fallible. She’s easy to love as a main character. And Rafe and Kaden are just as interesting as they were the first time around. Rafe — total book boyfriend! 😉 We learn a lot more about Kaden, and all I can say is that poor boy! We really don’t see as much of the boys as I remember from the first book, but this one really is all about Lia. Yes, we still see things from their perspectives, but this story is more about her than anything else.

One thing I liked was that the love story wasn’t the central focus. It’s still very important, but it was more of a side point. So much else is going on that there just isn’t much time for focusing on it.

There is much, much more I can say, but I will stop. I don’t want to spoil this. It was such a great read! Despite being almost 500 pages, it read really quickly. And, yes, there is a cliffhanger ending, but for once that didn’t bother me. I highly recommend The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson for YA fantasy fans.

5 StarsSource: Sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: The Heart of Betrayal is scheduled for release around July 7, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: This Is Where It Ends

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke NijkampTitle: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Series: n/a

About: 10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Thoughts: This is very fast-paced and exciting. I easily could’ve read this in a single sitting — if I didn’t have real-life obligations (like kids) to keep me busy. Each perspective in this story is unique, but they are all somehow intertwined. There are shocking moments interspersed with heartbreaking moments — and a few deaths you really hope don’t happen. Really, this is a bit of a tear-jerker.

In all honesty, though, I’ve read better school-shooting books. This didn’t grab me quite as well or hit me quite as hard as others. Although it might not be the book’s fault — maybe I’ve just read enough of these stories that I’ve become somewhat desensitized to it. (NOT to real-life incidents, of course, just fictional ones.)

That said, if you enjoy realistic contemporary young-adult fiction, this might be right up your alley. Although if school shootings are a difficult subject for you, you might want to choose something else. This is well-written, very realistic, and likely to hit home — especially if you have kids nearing this age!

3.5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: This Is Where It Ends is scheduled for release around January 5, 2016. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Awake

Awake by Natasha PrestonTitle: Awake
Author: Natasha Preston
Series: n/a

About:Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

My Thoughts: I thought this sounded so good. I was disappointed pretty much from the get-go. The writing just doesn’t work for me. Scarlett and Noah are ridiculous, and the plot just wasn’t all that exciting. The main focus was Scarlett and Noah. Even once it got down to the cult stuff, it’s still more about them. Too much.

Don’t get me started on the “romance.” Noah makes it clear from the beginning that he’s a plant (not to Scarlett, but to the reader – the book is told through both of their perspectives), so there’s little surprise or shock as Scarlett learns the truth about things. Even the circumstances surrounding the fire and all of that — not all that shocking or exciting. Kind of ho-hum.

The saving grace of this book is that it’s a fast read, and the last quarter is fast-paced and more exciting than the rest of the book. Will Scarlett make it out alive? What will happen to Noah? Fortunately, the book ended better than it began.

2 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: Awake is scheduled for release around August 4, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Ice Like Fire

Ice Like Fire by Sara RaaschTitle: Ice Like Fire
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #2

About: It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

My Thoughts: This is a fantastic sequel! Absolutely fantastic. There are twists and turns. Surprise betrayals, and not-so-surprise betrayals. Surprising revelations, and things that — thinking about it later — shouldn’t have been so surprising, but kinda were. This book is a ton of fun, and just about as good as Snow Like Ashes, the first book in the series.

It’s funny, but in the first one, I liked Theron better. This time, Mather. And that’s all I’m gonna say … Meira is still strong, but quite conflicted. She’s struggling with her new identity. How to reconcile who she was before with who she is now. How can she be queen and still be herself?

I did feel the start wasn’t as exciting as I was hoping, but it didn’t take long for me to get sucked in. And the last third or so — I didn’t want to stop reading. My one complaint is that, unlike the first book, this one does not have closure at the end. While I wouldn’t call it a huge cliffhanger, there is a ton of unfinished business. Many unanswered questions. But, it’s still one heck of a great story, and I cannot wait for the next book!

5 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: Ice Like Fire is scheduled for release around October 13, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Centralia

Centralia by Mike DellossoTitle: Centralia
Author: Mike Dellosso
Series: n/a

About: Peter Ryan wakes up on a typical morning only to find his house empty, his wife and daughter nowhere to be found. His world is shattered after a phone call to a friend confirms the impossible: his wife and daughter died in a car accident he does not remember. Haunted by faint memories and flashes of details, Peter becomes convinced that something isn’t right and begins to question reality. When he discovers a note in his daughter’s handwriting, strange memories begin to surface that cause him to second-guess nearly everything he once believed. Suddenly armed men show up at Peter’s home, turning the mysterious puzzle of his past into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. On the run and unsure whom to trust, Peter has to discover what’s real and what isn’t . . . before he loses everything.

My Thoughts: This is fast-paced and keeps you guessing. Right from the beginning, it’s clear that nothing is what it seems. And as the story progresses, it’s hard to discern truth from lies — for Peter Ryan and for the reader. When you think you might know what’s coming or how things will pan out, something new is revealed that makes you second guess it. Or is something new revealed?

Truth and lies are very hard to separate in this book. Peter Ryan is a very likable character right from the very beginning, even as you learn more about who he is, what he’s about, and his backstory — well, any of his backstories. And this book really will keep you guessing right on up to the end!

Fans of fast-paced suspenseful thrillers will enjoy this book. And don’t let it being Christian fiction scare you away — the faith is a smaller thread in the story. You don’t have to be a Christian — or knowledgeable about Christianity — to be able to get sucked in and enjoy the story. The faith is understated and not at all preachy. And if you are Christian and love a good thriller, definitely give this one a read. It’s clean — aside from some violence that is integral to the story — and one wild ride!

3.5 StarsSource: E-copy obtained through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: Centralia is scheduled for release around June 1, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Sweet

Sweet by Emmy LaybourneTitle: Sweet
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Series: n/a

About: The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli—the hottest guy ever!—and she’s too sick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

My Thoughts: Emmy Laybourne has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I absolutely loved her Monument 14 series, and was so excited when I learned of her new book. In all honesty, the description wasn’t something I was so sure I’d normally read. But it’s Emmy Laybourne, so I figured it had to be good.

I was pretty much hooked from the very beginning. It’s fast-paced and very engaging. I found I loved Laurel and Tom as main characters, and enjoyed watching them navigate things as the cruise got underway. Reading the first part of the book — before things get ugly — reminded me of watching Titanic. You know things are going to get ugly, but you are swept away by the excitement and extravagance. As you get further into the book, you know things have to change soon, but you’re kind of not wanting that to happen. And when things get ugly, they get ugly fast. You can see tiny hints at what is going to happen, but aren’t fully prepared for the magnitude of what goes down.

I was ready to gush and gush about this book, until the resolution. It was a bit too out there for me. Too far-fetched. And too, well, silly. And, really, that’s all I can say without spoiling anything.

Despite that, I did enjoy Sweet by Emmy Laybourne. Yes, there are a few surprises. Yes, the characters are fantastic. Yes, this is very well-written. While I felt the motivation behind it all and the explanation for everything was a bit out there, I still very much enjoyed reading the book.

4 StarsSource: ARC sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: Sweet is scheduled for release around June 2, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Until the Beginning

Until the Beginning by Amy PlumTitle: Until the Beginning
Author: Amy Plum
Series: After the End #2

About: When Juneau’s clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people’s gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles’s cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau’s people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people – and herself – Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

My Thoughts: I was very excited to get to read this book, as I’d loved After the End. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

Until the Beginning by Amy Plum, well, let me say that I love the title. I love how it goes with the first book’s title! And the cover is equally beautiful. The story is fast-paced and very interesting. And it’s a fast read. I enjoyed seeing how Juneau and Miles handled obstacles they faced, and I loved seeing things from each of their perspective.

My only complaint was that it’s a bit predictable. I knew well before it was revealed just what the key to everything was, why Juneau was so important. So far as other events? Not quite as predictable. While I wouldn’t say there are all that many huge — and by huge I mean unexpected — surprises, there was plenty of new happening. As Juneau learns the truth about her clan and her family, those details were very intriguing — and not at all something I saw coming.

If you enjoyed After the End by Amy Plum, don’t miss this fantastic sequel. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be pleased with the way it played out and satisfied with the conclusion. (I’m calling it a conclusion, because I’m not aware of plans for another book in this series. The way this ends, it very well could be the end of the story.)

4 StarsSource: Received through Around the World Tours for review.

Read It: Until the Beginning is scheduled for release around May 5, 2015. You can pre-order your own copy via Amazon or Book Depository(These are affiliate links, and purchase through either link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

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