Reckoning (Silver Blackthorn #1)

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Reckoning (Silver Blackthorn, #1)

One girl. One chance. One destiny.

In the village of Martindale, hundreds of miles north of the new English capital of Windsor, sixteen-year-old Silver Blackthorn takes the Reckoning. This coming-of- age test not only decides her place in society – Elite, Member, Inter or Trog – but also determines that Silver is to become an Offering for King Victor.But these are uncertain times and no one really knows what happens to the teenagers who disappear into Windsor Castle. Is being an Offering the privilege everyone assumes it to be, or do the walls of the castle have something to hide?Trapped in a maze of ancient corridors, Silver finds herself in a warped world of suspicion where it is difficult to know who to trust and who to fear. The one thing Silver does know is that she must find a way out . . .The heart-stopping first book in a new trilogy by UK author Kerry Wilkinson,Reckoning is the story of one girl’s determination to escape the whims of a cruel king, and what she must do to survive against all odds.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18490660-reckoning)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book started really well by introducing us to the Reckoning, a coming of age test that determines to which caste the youth will belong to. The concept was familiar, as several dystopian books work with it, but I felt it was nicely done.

However, when Silver gets to the capital, as an Offering, the book slowed down, and I felt the dystopian aspect faded into the background, and the plot took a turn toward Silver settling into her new routine. Silver was a good character, albeit a little inconsistent. She would be rash in one page and, then, in the next, she would choose to fade into the background. I also missed a bit of background information on the other characters, but as Silver didn’t interact a lot with them, there was no way for me to get that information.

When the plot finally takes shape again, after the middle of the book, things got interesting again, because there was action. The ending was the best part of the book, and made me curious to learn what will happen next.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Debutantes Don’t Date

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Debutantes Don't Date

At the stroke of midnight…

One minute Grace Lancaster is an overworked event manager organising 2013’s New Year’s Eve ball… The next she’s kissing a rather gorgeous man at the Regency themed party. Everyone’s entitled to an out-of-character New Year’s kiss, right? Except Jasper Mossman, Earl of Bingham, isn’t at a costume party – he’s a real-life gentleman from 1813…

And, it seems, kissing a man in Regency London has consequences!

What Grace considers normal behaviour scandalises Regency society and so far she’s provided the irrepressible gossips of the ton with a season’s worth of conversation! In a scramble to protect her reputation, as well as his own, Jasper insists that they marry for the sake of her honour. Marrying Mr Darcy might be a 21st century girl’s dream – but the reality is far from romantic. Corsets are uncomfortable, no running water is disastrous! Grace had always planned on falling in love before she got married, but when Jasper takes her in his arms she just might believe she’s finally found her very own Prince Charming.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21842288-debutantes-don-t-date)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Carina UK for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was reminded of the movie Kate and Leopold, which featured Hugh Jackman and Meg Ryan. While the movie was very sweet, with some funny scenes, this book fell a bit short.

I would say my biggest issue was with character building. I felt some of them, such as Jasper, acted inconsistently. I do not know if it was because the author wanted to write a racy book set in the Regency era, but it was odd to have Jasper thinking as a gentleman of that time and age would and then, in the next page, all that proper behavior and manner of thinking were thrown out of the window.

Another thing that bothered me was that Grace didn’t seem at all bothered with the fact that her showing people her cell phone could have drastic impacts in the future, or rather her present. As that is a concern present in nearly every story that involves time travel, I felt it was really weird. Furthermore, Grace didn’t seem nearly as bothered as she should be by the fact that she somehow ended up in a time 200 years before her own.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)

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White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)

One kiss could be the last. 

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever. 

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17455585-white-hot-kiss)

I know I’ve said this before, in another review, but I’ll say it again: Jennifer L. Armentrout is, right now, one of my favorites YA authors. Her books might have some issues, but I still love them. For me, a good book is one that distracts me, that steals me away for some hours. White Hot Kiss did that. While I was reading, I didn’t pay attention to the issues other reviewers pointed out, such as it is too formulaic or the guys are too perfect. I am not saying that those observations are invalid or untrue, but I didn’t notice and wasn’t bothered by those issues.

I found the concept of gargoyles very interesting. They are a new set of creatures for me, and that made this book refreshing. You see, we all know that vampires drink blood, werewolves shift during full moons etc. But what do we know about gargoyles? Next to nothing (at least in my case).

As for the characters, Layla sometimes frustrated me, especially in the beginning, by belittling herself (which was not her fault, to be honest). Zayne and Roth were the other elements of the love triangle. While this love triangle did not stare me in the face as several others out there, it did exist. Zayne, in my opinion, had nothing on Roth, when it comes to book boyfriends. Roth was far more spicy and alluring. In real life, however, I think I’d have to pick Zayne, as he is steadier, and, therefore, the less likely to fill my life with drama (why am I speculating about fictional characters? I have to get a grip). Oh, before I finally finish the rant about Zayne and Roth, I have to say that I would never trust Roth with naming anyone (Bambi? Really?)

Plotwise, some things were predictable, others, not so much. I did not see the big revelation at the end coming, and it certainly did put Layla in a twisted mess… It would be really nice to see a confrontation about that twist in the next books.

Now, I have to wait until nearly November *wails* for the next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Throwaway Girl

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Throwaway Girl

Andy Burton knows a thing or two about survival. Since she was removed from her mother’s home and placed in foster care when she was nine, she’s had to deal with abuse, hunger, and homelessness. But now that she’s eighteen, she’s about to leave Haywood House, the group home for girls where she’s lived for the past four years, and the closest thing to a real home she’s ever known. Will Andy be able to carve out a better life for herself and find the happiness she is searching for?”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18851343-throwaway-girl)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Dundurn for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have to say I was expecting more out of this book. Going in, I knew it was going to be a bittersweet read, with some downright heartbreaking scenes. I believe that, no matter where or why, having to live in an orphanage is not how a child should grow up. I also know that, at present, most, if not all, of the fostering systems in place are flawed.

While this book had several heartbreaking scenes, especially in the beginning, which prove how strong the main character is, I missed a plot. For me, this book felt as several events, put together for the sake of building a narrative, of setting a background. But I missed the why this book was written. What was the story it wanted to tell me?

It was a short, nicely written book, with interesting characters (all of the other girls at the orphanage, for instance), but, again, I missed the why Andy’s story was told. There wasn’t any redemption, nor any challenge beyond that of day to day life, nor any huge trauma to be overcome.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Backward Compatible

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Backward Compatible: A Geek Love Story

A YA Gamer Geek Comedy in the vein of Scott Pilgrim andNick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Ideal for fans of The Big Bang Theory, The Guild, and all things Joss Whedon.

WARNING: There is no sex in this book. Your Kindle or other device will remain at a pleasant room temperature. At no point will your panties drop. Your significant other will be allowed to snore in peace as you read. You may, however, laugh yourself out of commission.

Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close… (insert Star Wars theme music here…)

It is a time of chaotic hormones. 

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.

During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game’s secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19311332-backward-compatible)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and SDE Press LLC for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

If someone were to ask me, I wouldn’t be able to tell them why I requested this book. What I would be able to them is, I’m glad I did. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by the two romantically awkward main characters.

This book has two very strong points when it comes to relationship development: no insta-love and no love triangle. Furthermore, it was really nice to read a NA book that doesn’t involve some sort of personal tragedy. Here, our main characters are regular people that need to overcome only their shyness and social reclusiveness.

The one thing that put me off a little bit was the excess of gamer vocabulary and sexual jokes. Both were used a bit too often, particularly the gamer vocabulary (I am not, by any means, a gamer girl, though I do enjoy my Xbox).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

White Hart (White Hart #1)

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White Hart (White Hart, #1)

Mae never asked to be craft-born. She never wanted that burden.

The realm needs magic again, and the the King of Aegunlund has been waiting for the first craft-born girl to marry his son, Prince Casimir.

In Mae’s town of Halts-Walden, the ambitious miller claims his daughter Ellen is craft-born. Mae knows this is a load of hogwash, but she’s glad Ellen will have the unfortunate pleasure of becoming queen instead of her. All she has to do is sit back and wait until Casimir and Ellen are married, then she will finally be free of the threat of her fate. But on that day an event so shocking and terrible occurs that Mae finds herself entering the neighbouring cursed forest on a quest she never thought she’d have to follow. 

Join Mae as she rides her white stag through the Waerg Woods with a pampered prince at her heels. She’s out for revenge and nothing, no one, will get in her way.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18760207-white-hart)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Sarah Dalton for providing me with a free copi in exchange for an honest review.

This book had a very intriguing synopsis, which made me request the book. When I finished the book, I realized that what had actually interested me the most was the world-building. I was really intrigued to know more about the forest and why magic all but disappeared.

Plot-wise, however, it was a bit predictable and tiring. The characters never had a break that allowed them to really get to know each other. It was one crisis after another, and that made for a predictable plot. By the time the biggest crisis came, I was sort of numb to it, thanks to all the previous ones.

The prince, Casimir, had a lot of promise as a character in his first encounter with Mae. After that, however, I felt like he became the spoiled prince I expected him to be, and that was a bit of a disappointment.

The most interesting part was the end, when some important information are revealed, not to mention that huge cliffhanger which came out of nowhere.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Midwife

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The Midwife

Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy–and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20156503-the-midwife)

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a hard book to review. At the beginning, I was confronted with some of the ethical aspects of surrogating. After all, the child does not legally belong to the birth mother. But what happens if the legal parents want to terminate the pregnancy and the surrogate doesn’t? How far can the legal parents go in their control of the surrogate’s body? Those questions were not raised in the book, but they did pop up while I was reading.

Beth, faced with the possibility of having to terminate the pregnancy without wanting to, decides to run. She goes to a very isolated community, hoping no one will ever find her. This was, in my opinion, quite unrealistic. When the child is born, she continues to live in fear. After all, the child is not legally hers. This, again, raises some ethical questions. If the legal parents wanted to terminate the pregnancy that originated that child, can they really claim the child as theirs? It’s a bit confusing to think about it.

At points, the story itself became a little confusing, especially when Rhoda starts thinking too much. I also thought it felt predictable, as the twist didn’t surprise me at all. As for the ending, it was also a bit confusing (can’t say anything further, as I don’t want to spoil it), but there is a jump into the future.

What I missed, at the ending, was to learn more of the girls that were staying at Hopen Haus. What happened to them? Did they deliver safely? What about their babies? What about the girls’ families?

Rating: 3 out of 5