The Invasion Of The Tearling (The Queen Of The Tearling #2)

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The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

“With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22698568-the-invasion-of-the-tearling)

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

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015. The Queen of the Tearling just blew my mind when I read it. I loved the world building, the characters, the political plotting… It was just amazing. Because of this, I had to get my hands on THe Invasion of th Tearling as soon as possible. You can imagine how hard it was for me not to squeal like a kid learning she is going to Disney when I logged into NetGalley and saw this on my dashboard (I was at work, which is why I had to restrain myself).

But I digress. While I tentatively classified The Queen of the Tearling, this book is, in my opinion, firmly in the sci-fi/dystopia genre. At this point, I’m not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with that, but I need another book (not so sublte hint) to come to terms with it.

The beginning was a bit confusing, as it is often the case when I go back to a world I haven’t visited in a year. Here, the plot thickens and turns dark and hopeless, as it’s often the case in middle books. I found myself trying to find a way out for Kelsea, and came to the conclusion that, if I was in her place, I’d have thrown myself off a cliff.

This was, for reasons that will become clear when you read the book, not as engaging as the first book. At first, the Lily chapters were not that enjoyable as the Tearling chapters, as there was no apparent connection. I even got to the point of thinking that somehow two books had been mixed together in my ARC. But then it all made sense.

Furthermore, this is NOT a YA book. There is plenty of gore here, as well as other adult themes. This one definitely crosses into the adult genre, in my opinion. Which is not a bad thing, but do keep it in mind when you read this.

There are several questions left unanswered. I’m not going to spoil them, but gosh, it was frustrating!! I hope we get to know for good, as some hints have been dropped here and there (unless they’re red herrings). The ending raises a lot of questions about the Red Queen, about the sapphires, about the Crossing…

And now, I wait for the next book…

Down London Road (On Dublin Street #2)

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Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2)

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control…

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets… even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.”

-Taken from Goodreads

This had a strong heroine, as Jo sacrifices so much to take care of her younger brother and raise him properly. It was actually a nice change to have a main couple that is not filthy rich and actually goes through some financial duress.

What did bother me was that Jo was still attracted to a guy that treated her like dirt when they first met. I wouldn’t forgive so easily, though I am known to hold grudges for years. Still, I felt like I could be friends with Jo, as she felt real in her fears and her struggles. I also loved how she was too proud to take her friends’ help.

Cameron was a nice character, but he had to work for me to like him. The way he treated Jo at the beginning was totally uncalled for, though he did redeem himself later on. What bothered me was the, as it’s usually the case, he was drop dead gorgeous, without a single blemish. I do wish someone would write a main couple that is not magazine cover-worthy. A beer belly and a broken nose would suffice (okay, whom am I kidding here)?

The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)

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The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen, #2)

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town;

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town, this withering kingdom, and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This book was most definitely not what I was expecting. In this case, in a bad way.

The first book had only a nice touch of the supernatural, with the main character, Amelia, being able to see ghosts. Here, the whole thing became supernatural. There were witches, demons, and, of course, ghosts. It felt like there were too many supernatural elements in a plot that didn’t really have any space for them. The end result was quite confusing, for me.

I also had a hard time keeping track of all the characters. Maybe it was because I just wanted to finish this book. The one character that stuck with me was, unsurprisingly, the dog, Angus. He was the one character I kept wanting to see. Furthermore, I felt that the graveyard restoration aspect, which was so fascinating in the first book, was left aside so that all the witches and demons could make an appearance.

After this one, I’m not sure I’ll be reading the rest of the series.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2)

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Killer Instinct (The Naturals, #2)

“Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.”

– Taken from Goodreads

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

In the first book, The Naturals, the main lesson was that no one is above suspicion. In that book, the killer was someone surprisingly close to the program. In this book, I was kept guessing until the very end. I never could have guessed the real identity of the killer. I suspected, however, that some of the suspects were too obvious, and waited to find out who the actual culprit was.

I was very intrigued by the new character introduced in the very beginning, Agent Sterling. She had something going on for her, as Cassie’s profiling of her made evident. Her full story, however, only comes to light toward the end. And it made me respect her. The dynamics between the teenagers didn’t change that much, until, again, the end. Michael and Dean were both annoying at several moments. They had their reasons, granted, but still, there were scenes were I just wanted to throttle them.

As for the love triangle, it was apparently solved in this book, thankfully. I don’t particularly care for them, and this one didn’t impress me.

Given that the first book revolved around Cassie’s past and this one revolved around Dean’s past, I’m guessing we will see killers somehow related to the other three kids (Michael, Lia and Sloane), something I would really like. By the end, it was quite obvious that there will be a sequel, though there is no information yet about the next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

One Foot In The Grave (Night Huntress #2)

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One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, #2)

You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever…and Bones won’t let her get away again. Original.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This was, most definitely, a fast-paced book. There is plenty of action, as well as many twists that I didn’t see coming. What I was hoping for, however, did happen, although I wanted it to have happened sooner.

Cat’s mother deserves to be mentioned. She is still her old, abusive self, and it shocks me to see Cat accepting that, and how all that abuse shaped her, for good and for bad. Whenever her mother, Justina, appeared, I got mad, as I knew she was going to spout some nasty stuff. Seriously, that is one character that needs to be taken care of.

I was confused by one thing: the description of how to turn someone into a ghoul. I just couldn’t understand the process, no matter how many times I re-read the description. And the whole Dave thing felt too surreal, in my opinion. Tate was annoying as well.

I’d say that, what I really like here is that the heroine is no damsel in distress, and refuses to be treated as such. The end, however, was a tiny bit heartbreaking, as Cat makes an extremely hard choice.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Be With Me (Wait For You #2)

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Be with Me (Wait for You, #2)

“Teresa Hamilton is having a rough year—she’s in love with her big brother’s best friend, but he hasn’t spoken to her since they shared a truly amazing, mind-blowing, change-your-life kiss. She got out of a terrible relationship. And now an injury is threatening to end her dance career for good. It’s time for Plan B – college. And maybe a chance to convince Jase that what they have together is real.

Jase Winstead has a huge secret that he’s not telling anyone. Especially not his best friend’s incredibly beautiful sister. Even though he and Teresa shared the hottest kiss of his life, he knows that his responsibilities must take priority. He certainly doesn’t have time for a relationship. But it doesn’t help that all he can think about kissing the one girl who could ruin everything for him.

As they’re thrown together more and more, Jase and Tess can’t keep denying their feelings for each other. But a familiar danger looms and tragedy strikes. As the campus recovers, the star-crossed couple must decide what they’re willing to risk to be together, and what they’re willing to lose if they’re not…”

– Taken from Goodreads

In typical NA fashion, this book has quite a few clichés. Both Teresa and Jase, the main characters, have some issues to deal with. However, what I liked about this story was that it somehow felt more realistic in its characters’ issues than some books out there. You see, by reading those books, one would think that at least half of the college population in the US has been sexually, physically or emotionally abused. Let me emphasize that I do not deny that those abuses are real or that they leave deep scars in the victims. However, abused characters have become too commonplace, in my opinion.

It was, therefore, quite refreshing to have a character whose main issue is dealing with an injury that puts her dream of becoming a dancer in jeopardy. Oh, she has darkness in her past, but it’s not the central issue here, as opposed to the injury. Jase also has issues, but they don’t revolve around any kind of abuse.

It was unnerving to read about those characters, particularly Jase, and their romantic coming and goings. I came really close to throwing my Kindle out of the window at several points. The supporting cast was also really well done. As for the end, it was bittersweet. It was both happy and sad, and my heart really broke for Teresa, but it also filled me with hope for Avery (the main character from the first book).

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Unbound (The Archived #2)

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The Unbound (The Archived, #2)

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13638131-the-unbound)

This wasn’t as gripping as I had hoped it would be. Maybe it was because the novelty of the world building had worn off, and the plot and characters weren’t enough to keep me really interested.

I’d say that not much happens in the first three quarters of the book. There are some flashbacks and Mackenzie whining and complaining and making bad choices that end up endangering not only her life, but other people’s as well. I get it that her parents are a bit overprotective, but I think that is perfectly understandable, as they have already had to bury one child.

I’m all for a good villain, but this book’s villain fell short for me. No spoilers, but when I learned who the villain was, I was sceptic. I don’t think it was a good choice, and I hope the next villain is better (or badder?).

In this book, the world building was the best part, as the main character did not impress me. It’s still a very original concept, though not as novel thanks to the first book.

Rating: 3 out of 5