Review: Otherbound

Otherbound by Corinne DuyvisTitle: Otherbound
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Series: n/a

About: Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive — and discover the truth about their connection.

My Thoughts: What an interesting concept! I felt so bad for Nolan right from the start. Could you imagine not ever really being able to rest? Every time you close your eyes, being transported to another world — a far harsher world — can you imagine it? Not only does he see Amara’s life, he lives it through her — he feels what she feels, sees what she sees, and so on and so forth! As a youngster, he lost a foot because of an accident that happened as a result of this — can you imagine?

Amara’s existence is rather interesting. The idea of servants having their tongue removed … ick! And infuriating! That poor girl. She’s a strong character, despite her being a servant. She doesn’t see her own strength, though. But protecting the princess — when you read what that entails, you’ll see her strength.

Overall, the book kept my interest from start to finish. It’s quite the concept, and seeing how it worked — learning why it happened, what was going on — was pretty cool. It’s very well thought out and explained. And well executed. There are some twists and turns. Some were a bit obvious, but most were surprising. Despite the brevity of the book, the whole ordeal is very well explained. I felt like all ends were tied up, and I wasn’t left wondering about anything. Props to Ms. Duyvis for that!

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis is a fast-paced, intriguing story. Be warned, though: it’s brutal. Still, it’s a fast read with a lot going for it. Enjoy!

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

Read It: Otherbound is scheduled for release around June 17, 2014. 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!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review with Giveaway: The Queen’s Handmaid

The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. HigleyTitle: The Queen’s Handmaid
Author: Tracy L. Higley
Series: n/a

About: From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family — his sister, his wife, and their mothers — and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

My Thoughts: What a story! We start in Egypt, take a stop in Rome, and end up in Jerusalem. While the story was a bit slow at first, it wasn’t long before it picked up speed and became one of those books you just don’t want to stop reading until it’s all over and done with. Poor Lydia has quite the rough life — she’s seen more than her fair share of loss, and then some.

I honestly don’t know much about this time in history, outside the whole Antony and Cleopatra story. I hadn’t realized just how ruthless these people — especially Cleopatra — were! Well, I knew the Romans were pretty bad, but I hadn’t realized how bad Egypt and the Middle East were, too. I know this is fiction, but (according to the author’s note) there’s a lot of truth in these pages, too.

I liked Lydia a lot. Her insecurity is much like my own at times. I felt bad for her, but I think I already mentioned that. I wanted to see her find a happy ending — and I so hoped that included Simon. There were many twists and turns, especially as the story draws to a close. I found myself on the edge of my seat (as much as one can be while reading) waiting to see what would happen next.

4.5 StarsSource: Received as part of a blog tour promotion on Litfuse Publicity Group. Find more tour stops on the page HERE.

Read It: You can 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!)

Tracy HigleyAbout the Author: Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored many novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.

See Tracy’s travel journals and more at: tracyhigley.com.

 

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*** Win a Kindle HDX! ***

Tracy L. Higley is celebrating the release of The Queen’s Handmaid with a fun giveaway.

queen'shandmaid-400-click-1
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced April 21st on Tracy’s blog.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Tracy’s blog on April 21st to see if you won.

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Review: Free to Fall

Free to Fall by Lauren MillerTitle: Free to Fall
Author: Lauren Miller
Series: n/a

About: What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming

My Thoughts: This is such and interesting concept, and really not all that far-fetched. Given how much many people nowadays rely on their phones for many things, it’s not too hard to think that the society seen in Free to Fall by Lauren Miller is plausible. It was very intriguing, and had my attention from the get-go.

Yes, there were some predictable things, but there also were plenty of surprises. I loved it all. And, so far as things I could see coming, it didn’t bother me — it was exciting seeing if I was right and how my guess would come to fruition.

Rory is a great main character. I enjoyed her perspective and watching her remarkable growth throughout the course of this book. And North — awesome! A great match for her and really an all-around sweetie. Book boyfriend? Perhaps — he’s definitely a contender!

I would highly recommend this book. It’s a fun ride that takes place in a world that’s not a far cry from our own. Would I read this again? Sure! :-)

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

Read It: Free to Fall is scheduled for release around May 13, 2014. 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!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review with GIVEAWAY: Desecration

Desecration by Hadley HoltTitle: Desecration, Book 1
Author: Hadley Holt
Series: Wizard Queen at Sixteen #1

About: In a hidden world of wizards where only men hold the power of magic, one girl arises with the power to change everything, if she isn’t killed first…

Adriana Victoriana Evangelista (Addie), daughter to the High Chancellor of the Wizard’s Council, has always been the perfect wizard girl. She never questions why men possess magical powers and women have no power at all, magical or otherwise. Male wizards blend into the modern human world, leading huge corporations while wizard women are sequestered away.

On her sixteenth birthday, Addie discovers she possesses magic. Under wizard law, she is a desecration. An ancient prophecy surrounds the emergence of a girl magic-wielder, the wizard queen, who is destined to bring about the downfall of the wizard-kin.

Addie has long had a forbidden crush on a human boy who lives in the wizard stronghold, Rory Devlin. As she delves deeper into the dangerous mysteries surrounding her own destiny, she suspects Rory might be more than just human.

Addie’s fate sends her straight into the path of a powerful and evil sorcerer, but the worst danger of all may come from right inside her own home.

My Thoughts: Well, I must say, I was amazed by how much I enjoyed this book. Don’t get me wrong. I thought it sounded good, like something right up my alley. But, I always brace myself because stories like these can be really good or … not. But, I had high hopes, and was pleased to find they were not disappointed.

There were times I felt the prose was overly descriptive, but by the end of the book, I hardly noticed anymore. I really enjoyed the story. Addie’s surprising discovery of her powers, Rory, prophecies, friendship, and so much more! It’s exciting, a bit suspenseful, and even surprising in a few spots. There were a couple of things I could very easily see pretty early on — such as someone’s parentage — but the story was good enough that it didn’t irk me to not be surprised.

Rory seems rather sweet, and a good match for Addie. Is he book boyfriend material? I’m leaning toward yes, but feel I need to read more of the series to determine for sure. But, overall, I like him as a character. He’s a bit moody, but not so much that it’s off-putting. Plus, as we learn more about him, he’s easily forgiven. Addie is great. She grows a lot from the oblivious girl to the future savior of the world. I’m sure she’s going to be growing up even more by the end of her story.

If you enjoy magic-filled fantasy with a touch of romance, give Desecration a read. I found it very enjoyable — and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next!

4.5 StarsSource: E-ARC received through InkSlinger PR for review. (Click the button below for more tour stops.)

Desecration Blog TourRead It: You can order your own copy via Amazon(This is an affiliate link, and purchase through link will result in my receiving a small commission at no cost to you. Your support is appreciated!)

Hadley HoltAbout the Author: Hadley Holt, author of paranormal, and fantasy YA (Young Adult) has always loved to write. She also nurtures an incurable fascination with all things supernatural and fantastical. From a young age, she imagined stories about dragons, wizards, witches, ghosts, shape-shifters, vampires, and other magical creatures. As life often does, it blessed Hadley with family – a hunky husband and amazing children, and with family came a rewarding career. Hadley spent many years in the not-so-magical world of finance and mortgage banking, but the stories were always there in the back of her mind, demanding to be set free.

Thanks to the housing market crash, Hadley finally realized her dreams. She now breathes life into her magical tales of reluctant young heroes finding their inner power to stand up against terrible creatures and even more terrible odds.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway: Oh, yes! There is a giveaway. Details are in the Rafflecopter form. To enter the giveaway, simply fill out the form. :-) Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Review: The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee

The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee by Laurie CinottoTitle: The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee
Author: Laurie Cinotto
Series: n/a

About: The skinny on itty bitty kitties, from a real-life Kitten Wrangler!

What do kittens eat? Why do they love to play? How should you hold a kitten? Can you train them? Or do they train you?

This photo-heavy, breezy-yet-informative guide book for middle-grade readers and up comes from the hugely popular Itty Bitty Kitty Committee website. It’s full of useful information about kittens as well as funny stories about the many kitties the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee has fostered over the years. The author is the site’s mastermind, Laurie Cinotto, who brings years of practical kitten experience to bear. She’s joined by another pre-eminent expert on raising kittens—Charlene Butterbean, Laurie’s permanent adult cat.

My Thoughts: The ARC I received only has about 20 pages of the book. Because of that, I’m a bit reluctant to give the book a full, in-depth review. But I can give you my overall impression, which is pretty good. While this is marketed as a middle-grade book, I think younger kiddos will like it too. Proof: My 6-year-old cannot resist this book with adorable kittens on its cover! ;-)

The photos are absolutely adorable, and the intros of the kittens in this book makes me want to snuggle each and every one of them. (I’m a cat person, can you tell?) There is a how-to section on how to make “The No-Sew Cozy Kitty Bed.” I actually think the kids and I will try this one. (We have three cats, and these blankets would get lots of use!) This is one reason I just might have to get my hands on the full book — to see what other crafty ideas are included. (Another reason is my daughter’s interest, of course.)

If you’re a cat lover, I think it’s safe to say you’ll love this! If not, The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee by Laurie Cinotto would make a great gift for the cat lover in your life. And if you have kids, well, it’s a no-brainer (assuming they like small, cute, fuzzy things like tiny kittens)!

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

Read It: You can 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!)

 Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review: 99 Stories from the Bible

99 Stories from the Bible by Juliet DavidTitle: 99 Stories from the Bible
Author: Juliet David
Illustrator: Elina Ellis
Series: n/a

About: Following the narrative of the Bible, this collection of 99 stories starts with At the Beginning, and covers a wide variety of key events, including Samuel Listens, Esther, A Blind Man Sees, and Jesus Walks on the Lake, through to One Day Jesus Will Return. Each story is told over a double page spread with illustrations and some full-page art.

My Thoughts: This is an excellent book full of very short versions of some of the most well-known Bible stories. The stories all can be read in less than five minutes, and all are accompanied by beautiful art that is very colorful. My younger children (8 and 6) love looking at the pages. My son (8) has been using this to practice his reading. While he struggles with words like Israelites and Nineveh, the stories are written in a very easy-to-read format. Even he can read one in less than five minutes.

I would call these mostly cleaned-up versions of the stories. There’s no mention of things that would cause parents to have to explain awkward things that they just probably can’t yet understand. Like Bathsheba. I appreciated that these are simplified stories with the basic message fully in tact. For one, they’re easier for the kids to understand. Also, they keep out the things that young kids just don’t yet need to know.

This is a great addition to a library for young children. Also for beginning readers. My kids and I have already gotten a lot of use out of this book, and we’re not done with it yet!

4.5 StarsSource: Received for review as part of a blog tour promotion hosted by Kregel Publications.

Tour Info: For more information about this blog tour, including links to other reviews, visit the page HERE.

Source: Sent in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: You can 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!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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Review: Best Friends (Until Someone Better Comes Along)

Best Friends ... Until Someone Better Comes Along by Erin DowningTitle: Best Friends (Until Someone Better Comes Along)
Author: Erin Downing
Series: n/a

About: Izzy is used to being queen bee — but will she ditch her mean girl status for a chance at true friendship?

Isabella Caravelli is dreading summer. She doesn’t want to spend a month at a remote lakeside resort with her parents and the families of her dad’s coworkers, especially when she discovers that two of the kids go to her school. She thinks Bailey and Ava are beyond weird — and they’re not exactly thrilled to see Izzy, either. Izzy has been their tormentor, the leader of the pack of girls who made their first year of middle school so unpleasant.

Once Izzy discovers that the other kids at the resort have been spending their summers together for years and she’s the outsider, she realizes she’s going to have to change her bossy, stubborn ways if she wants to fit in. Bailey and Ava turn out to be kind and welcoming, and Izzy actually begins to like hanging out with them.

But when summer ends, Izzy realizes that things are probably going to be different when they get home. Ava and Bailey were great summer friends — but are they really forever friends? Can Izzy prove that she really does have the potential to be a true friend? Or is she stuck playing the mean girl forever?

My Thoughts: My somewhat new interest in middle-grade books stems from the fact that my oldest child is now 10 years old. She’s a pretty good reader, so I’m often on the lookout for something that she might like. When I read about this one, I knew it was something she might like. So, I decided to give it a read — and review — in part to help find something she’d like. And also to be aware of what she’s reading. This is a win-win! ;)

Because I read so many YA and adult books, I initially had to remind myself regularly that this is an MG book. It’s for younger readers, and the characters are younger, too. That said, it’s very well-written. Izzy sounds like a preteen, and the writing is perfect for the age, too. The story tells about a mean girl who learns what friendship really is, and that it’s so much easier to be nice and friendly than it is to be mean all the time. She wants to make a change in her life, and she works hard to do so.

While I felt the premise was somewhat unlikely (how many of you know a mean girl who changed her ways in the seventh grade? Me neither!), I still like the message. Hopefully, if nothing else, it will teach young girls what true friendship is, and that will help keep them from seeking the approval of the “popular” mean girls — and steer them toward finding genuine friends.

So far as characters, Izzy started out as someone whose head I didn’t want to be inside (first-person, Izzy). By the end, I was pulling for her and didn’t mind her so much. (If only all of the mean girls in life could have such a change of heart.) I must admit, the cynic in me figures someone else will fill the void, but at least Izzy and her friends have learned the valuable lesson of what true friendship really is.

Interesting note: While I was reading part of this on my Kindle, my daughter (the one mentioned above) read over my shoulder a little. I told her I thought she might like this book, and she said that she already did. Now, I doubt she read more than a few lines, but I was glad to hear it. I have since preordered a paperback copy for her to enjoy this summer.

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

Read It: Best Friends (Until Someone Better Comes Along) is scheduled for release around April 8, 2014. 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!)

Find me on Goodreads.com >>
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