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!)

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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!)

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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!

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Review: Sleep No More

Sleep No More by Aprilynne PikeTitle: Sleep No More
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Series: n/a

About: Oracles see the future but are never supposed to interfere. Charlotte learned that the hard way. If she hadn’t tried to change one of her childhood visions, her father would still be alive. Since the accident, Charlotte has suppressed her visions to avoid making the same mistake. But when she receives a premonition of a classmate’s murder, she can no longer ignore her powerful gift.

Then Charlotte meets someone who not only knows her secret but who also has a way for her to stop the killer. He offers to teach her how to manipulate her visions to change the future. But doing so will put Charlotte in the path of the murderer.…

My Thoughts: I found Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike to be a quick read. And while I found myself engrossed and wanting to see how it all played out, two days after finishing I’m finding it’s not as memorable as I’d like. I enjoyed the book, and didn’t feel it was predictable or anything. Still, even reading the description (which usually is enough to jog the memory) isn’t helping. What does that mean? Well, I’m honestly not quite sure.

I do remember closing the book satisfied. I do remember times of wanting to keep reading to see what happens. I remember the characters: Charlotte, Sierra, Smith, Linden. But I honestly didn’t feel too connected to any of them. I know I felt bad for Charlotte, especially toward the end. I know I really didn’t think too highly of Sierra. And I know I was kinda suspicious of Smith. But, well, I didn’t really feel for them too much.

Still, I found the book had me hooked pretty much all the way through. So clearly it wasn’t bad at all. If you like a mystery with a bit of paranormal thrown in, give this one a read. At the very least, you’ll be entertained.

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

Read It: Sleep No More is scheduled for release around April 29, 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!)

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Review: After the End

After the End by Amy PlumTitle: After the End
Author: Amy Plum
Series: After the End #1

About: World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that this book is as good as it sounds. I was sucked in right off the bat and finished it in less than 24 hours — without staying up until 4 a.m.! ;-)

Juneau’s life at the beginning is really interesting and neat to see. Before leaving Alaska, she leaves her Huskies with a woman who boards animals. And that scene was heart-breaking. I’m telling you this because Amy Plum is a very good writer. I could feel for the characters and really get wrapped up in the story. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop. And, well, it ended way too soon for my tastes. But more on that later.

The story is told from both Juneau’s perspective and also from the perspective of a guy named Miles. And, yes, they cross each others’ paths. And I found reading from both perspectives quite easy to follow, and enjoyable. It was neat to see Juneau through Miles’ eyes. And it was good to know right off the bat that, while perhaps somewhat misguided, Miles is one of the “good” people. (And, no, I’m not spoiling anything.)

My one BIG complaint is that there is a HUGE cliffhanger. And by huge, I mean will-someone-be-OK-big. I don’t like cliffhangers like that. I like knowing everyone’s accounted for (or shown to be gone or whatever), and just that we are so not over with the story yet. I don’t like the ones where a character’s life is literally on the line. And that, dear friends, is why I couldn’t give this a full five stars. I was pissed that there wasn’t just one more chapter to tell me if this person was OK.

Aside from the maddening cliffhanger ending, After the End by Amy Plum is a fantastic novel. I am very eagerly awaiting the next book in this series — and not just on account of the cliffhanger! ;-)

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

Read It: After the End is scheduled for release around May 6, 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!)

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Review with GIVEAWAY: Henrietta and the Dragon Stone

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone by Beth BaranyTitle: Henrietta and the Dragon Stone
Author: Beth Barany
Series: The Five Kingdoms #2

About: What if everyone you loved was threatened by a force you couldn’t see or fight?

Henrietta the legendary dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone and aims to destroy everyone she cares about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, or will the sorcerer destroy everyone and everything she loves?

My Thoughts: This is another fun installment in The Five Kingdoms, a series I’m enjoying more as I go. It’s full of adventure, heartbreak, tenderness, and growth (for Henrietta). While there is plenty of action, I felt that the focus of this book was more the budding romance between Henrietta and Franc.   I didn’t mind at all. It was sweet, tender, and touching to watch the two of them come to terms with their feelings for each other. To let go of their own issues and let love in.

The story had some surprises, and Henrietta is still an awesome protagonist. She’s a kick-ass female hero, and proud of it — as she should be. She’s got skills and heart. I liked her a lot in this book. I also loved Franc (book boyfriend, for sure), and wanted to see them together sooner!

In all, I liked the story and characters better than I had in Henrietta the Dragon Slayer. This is a touching story that I found myself getting more and more engrossed in as I got further into the book. If you like fantasy and kick-ass females, then this book is for you! Not just the book — the series (I can’t wait for more)!

4.5 StarsSource: 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!)

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Review: The Winner’s Curse

The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner’s Trilogy #1

About: 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.

My Thoughts: This was one of those occasional ARCs that just randomly show up at my door. Reading the description piqued my interest, and seeing others’ early reviews made me quite eager to read it. Before I get into the book, though, let’s notice the cover. Isn’t it beautiful? I will be seeking out a hardcover version when it’s released in March to see just how gorgeous it is (when not an ARC).

I’m not entirely sure what to say about this book. It didn’t live up to the hype I’ve seen, but it’s still very good. It’s very well-written and unique. What I love about it is that the story focuses on world building, character development, and plot movement. It’s not revolving around one of those all-too-common romances. However, a romance of sorts is central to the story, but in an understated way. It drives the characters, influences their choices, and causes internal turmoil for each individual. But it’s not the focal point of the novel. Not really. It’s hard to describe how it all works together, but hopefully you’ll understand if/when you read it.

Kestrel is a fantastic female protagonist. She’s smart, talented, and someone worthy of respect. She’s not perfect, but who is? She seems to want to do what’s right, and her budding feelings for Arin make that more difficult for her. The question becomes not what the right thing is, but rather what is right — and for whom. Where do her loyalties lie? How can she stay loyal to herself while not betraying her growing love? Arin is a pretty good match for her. He’s her match so far as intelligence goes, as well as being her equal in talent and respectability. We see things from his perspective a bit less than from Kestrel’s, but it’s enough to get a good idea of his side of the budding romance.

Overall, I found that I really enjoyed reading and didn’t really want to put the book down much of the time. I found the world fascinating, and the people very interesting. I love the idea of the winner’s curse, which is explained very well — not something I feel I can do well, unfortunately. The concept, however, appears to have been what inspired this intriguing new series — the continuation of which I am eagerly (and perhaps a bit impatiently) looking forward to. I would highly recommend The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, especially to fans of fantasy and epic fantasy.

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

Read It: The Winner’s Curse is scheduled for release around March 4, 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!)

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