Review – Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)

Shaila Patel’s second installation of the Joining of Souls series comes out in FIVE DAYS! Today I’ve got an early review for you to help you get excited. Thank you, Shaila Patel, for my eARC. If you missed my review for the first book, check it out here: Soulmated. I also have an interview with the author after the first book’s release HERE, as well as an excerpt of Fighting Fate HERE!

Title: Fighting Fate (Joining of Souls #2)
Author: Shaila Patel
Published: April 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
Goodreads 

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s Okay

fightingfate_ebook-amazon

Synopsis:

Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi “Lucky” Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs–even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam’s life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.

After the unthinkable happened, Lucky’s “hallucinations” have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?

“Who was the real Lucky?” (chapter 17)

Shaila Patel did it again! The characters were captivating, the connections between Liam and Lucky were descriptive, and my heart was beating out of my chest with ANOTHER cliffhanger! Why do you do this to me, Shaila?

One thing I particularly loved about this second book is the more in depth looks into Liam and Lucky’s individual cultures, as well as that of the empaths. The descriptions of the landscape of Ireland and the foods of Lucky’s Indian heritage created a desire to know more, to understand more. I even went and made myself some penda after reading the mouth-watering descriptions! There is also a bunch more background on the empath history, which sometimes slowed the plot down quite a bit, but it all ties up very nicely by the end of the book.

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As Lucky learns more about what it means to be an empath, her powers and connection with Liam, and the dangers racing toward her, it honestly gave me some Twilight vibes. Let me preface this by saying I do NOT like the Twilight books, I DO like the Joining of Souls books. For starters, I think Patel writes these stories better than Meyers did. But the phenomenon of Lucky turning into this supernatural being and Liam teaching her about this world and her powers made me feel a ton of similarities between the stories. Thankfully, while Liam and Lucky can get pretty obsessive about each other, neither are whiney and selfish like Bella and Edward. In fact, one thing I admire a ton about their love for each other is how much they seek to put the other person before themselves, trying to give them what’s best for them. But, like typical teenagers, that’s not always actually the best thing for them.

There is still the tension of Lucky’s mom’s desires and Lucky being straddled between Indian culture, American culture, and empath culture, which is one of the most interesting conflicts in these books in my opinion. How does Lucky stand up to her mom without dishonoring her? How can she be one person split between so many people and worlds?

Patel does a fantastic job of jumping in right where Soulmated ended, while also slowly reminding you of things from the first book without being completely obnoxious. Yes, that’s a thing. I remember hating it way back when I was a kid reading the Nancy Drew books as a kid. YES I KNOW WHO NANCY IS BY THIS POINT, OKAY? The last fourth of the book had my heart racing. I was reading as fast as I can, devouring the drama. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, Shaila LOVES her cliffhangers, so now I have to wait even MORE impatiently for the next book!

Blog Tour – Sneaking Out

Title: Sneaking Out (Chased #1)
Author: Chuck Vance
Published: March 2018
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult

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Synopsis:

Could you sleep next to a murderer?

Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.

For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

“Come quick! You gotta see this!”
Luke was just exiting Talbot and walking toward the quad behind the library when Andy Slater called out to him. He stopped and waited for Luke as several students ran past, taking the path toward the pond.
“What is it?”
“Just come! They think they found something.”
“By the time Luke and Slater made it to the pond there was a large group of kids clustered in the northwest corner pointing at something. Luke could see two security guards in front of the pack, furiously talking on their walkie-talkies, and one on his knees by the pond.
“What is it?” Luke asked.
Andy elbowed through the crowd, with Luke following. There was frenzied excitement in the air, and everyone was pointing and talking nervously.
“It’s a bra!” said Andy, who had a better view from his vantage point.
The news rippled through the crowd, setting off a cacophony of comments and outbursts.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” some student called out.
“The Southborough Strangler was here!” shrieked a girl’s voice.
“Was someone else murdered?” another girl called out.
“Okay, everyone, move aside.” Mr. Hamaguchi, a science teacher, pushed his way through the crowd. “Step back right now or you will be receiving demerits.”
The students dispersed enough to make a path for Mr. Hamaguchi and the additional security guards. Mr. Hamaguchi bent down next to the security guard, who was using a stick to pull the bra toward him. Luke heard footsteps slapping the pavement and glanced to his side to see Mr. P. running from the direction of Archer. His tie was askew and his hair windblown.
“What is it?” asked the dean, moving toward Mr. Hamaguchi.
The guard pulled up the bra in time for everyone to see that it was a lacy and red. He immediately bagged it in a Ziploc and sealed it closed. Mr. Hamaguchi and the dean conferred in hushed tones, and everyone stood still, craning to hear what they were saying.
“Is it Mrs. Heckler’s?” Andy called out.
Mr. P. put his hands up. “Everyone back to class.”
“Should we be worried?” a girl’s plaintive voice called out.
“No. This was obviously a prank, and not at all funny,” warned Mr. P. “We will be looking into this.”
“How do you know it’s a joke?”
“Yeah, maybe someone else was strangled and dumped in the pond.”
That set off a new wave of frenzied discussions.

About the Author

 

 

Chuck

Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.

Website / Goodreads

 

Giveaway

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2x signed copies of Sneaking Out + 2x $25 gift cards

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Review / Blog Tour – Sugar Lump

Title: Sugar Lump
Author: Megan Gaudino
Published: January 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world—CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count.

But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.

“but all I could think about was how Sugar Lump was full of crazy people” (p. 40)

Thank you Entangled Teen, Xpresso Book Tours, and Megan Gaudino for a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review. You can check out the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below.

 

How would the world work if everyone were to achieve the American Dream? What are the stakes in achieving that? CC and her dad move into the most perfect town in the world, with picturesque views that attract wedding parties from across the world. But something very strange is going in and everyone seems to be keeping something from CC, even her own dad.

I couldn’t put this down. The creepy vibes and commentary on the American Dream drew me in and kept me hooked.  The descriptions were vivid and the characters perfectly quirky. CC’s internal struggle between what she thinks she wants and what this strangely perfect town wants for her is riveting. Plus, could Thorne get any sexier? I found my heart racing every time his name was mentioned because I wanted to uncover the mystery of who he was just as much as CC.

However, the ending felt super flat and I was unsatisfied. The conflict between CC and Thorne and the town’s secrets creates this amazing tension and it feels like the ending was a complete copout. I wanted more and was honestly a little bit annoyed. There was no justice and no promise of a continued fight.

This is my first read by Gaudino, and I’m guessing it will not be the last. The writing is beautiful and the characters mysterious. I just hope her other books have a better written ending.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

Megan Gaudino works in a high school library by day and on her own books by night. She’s made up of a mixture of black clothing, iced coffee, and a desire to go adventuring. Those things sort of come together naturally to form a writer. She lives in Pittsburgh where you can find her reading, writing, and Instagraming.

Goodreads / Twitter

 


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Blog Tour/Review – Breaking the Ice

Title: Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2)
Author: Julie Cross
Published: December 2017
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Breaking the Ice Cover

Synopsis:

The second book in the Juniper Falls series from NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.

Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.

But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.

“She leans into my personal space, her eyelids fluttering, all innocent looking. “Are you scared of me, Fletch”” (chapter 13)?

Thank you Entangled Teen, Chapter by Chapter, and Julie Cross for a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review. You can check out the rest of the tour by clicking the banner below. I also reviewed the first book in the Juniper Falls world HERE.

BreakingTheIceTour

Follow the rest of the tour HERE.

While it was fun to come back to the secret filled, hockey obsessed small town of Juniper Falls, I almost feel like I enjoyed this installment more than the last.

Fletcher and Haley both have to take Civics in summer school for different reasons: Fletcher to get ahead and get out of this gossip-filled town, Haley to make a better grade since hers have been suffering. There personalities are even wildly different. Fletcher keeps low under the radar, he is focused and driven, aiming to stay invisible except on the ice. Haley is the queen bee of the school, head cheerleader, easily distracted, but equally driven through her obsessive lists. Who knew they would need each other to get through this class?

The stakes in Breaking the Ice feel high, and are so interesting. The struggle to understand their relationship, their feelings, and the person underneath their labels is super believable and I was completely hooked. As Fletcher and Haley get to know each other, they find so much depth beyond their labels, which was fascinating to discover along with them. The tension between the two of them as they try to work as friends, even friends with benefits, but are so obviously crazy about each other, was just delightful.

Cross sends the reader through so many twists and turns throughout this book, it is almost impossible to know what will happen next. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was rooting for the two the whole time, through each of the twists. Cross’s characters have such depth and are incredibly enjoyable, especially the banter between them. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Anyone else begging for a Jamie story?

About the Author

Julie-Cross_Author-Photo

Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, Chasing Truth, Off the Ice and many more to come! Julie Cross was a longtime resident of central Illinois but has recently moved her entire family across the country to continue her academic studies at Stanford University.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review – Turtles All the Way Down

Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Published: October 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Goodreads

Rating: 5 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russle Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

“Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see” (p. 9).

John Green has finally released another book, and one about a girl navigating life with anxiety and OCD no less. In the promotion for his new book, Green revealed that this story is a special one as he deals with these things as well. No wonder it took a while for him to finish—but the wait was well rewarded!

Green has a style of writing in the YA genre that is uniquely his own. His characters deal with tough issues in a very teenager way, but they are also very smart, which is something that isn’t done much in YA. Not that other authors are writing stupid characters, but Green allows his characters to wrestle with things by asking deep and intellectual questions—ones that I don’t see in other books. As Aza struggles with her OCD, she is struggling to understand who she is and if she can possibly be a person apart from the circumstances in her life. She’s constantly researching facts far beyond high school curriculum because she MUST know the answers. And yet, she is still a short sighted, self-centered teenager like the best of them. Somehow Green is able to create characters that are so intellectual without taking away from the fact that they are teenagers with a lot of life and learning ahead of them. Turtles All the Way Down is just another phenomenal example of this.

Aza explains her anxiety in the best way that she can, which is often jumbled and confusing, but captures the feeling so well. I found myself using some of her descriptions to explain to my boyfriend how it feels when I get anxious about something. Another theme throughout this book that I was actually pleasantly surprised to find was that of economical differences. Davis is obviously the son of a billionaire, but Aza and her best friend Daisy have several conversations about financial privilege and what “poor” looks like to them. I personally grew up in a lower economical status than many of my friends in high school, yet I never felt like we had to go without because of money. This theme throughout the book really resonated with me and I feel like Green raised a lot of interesting points by doing this.

Turtles All the Way Down is a book that our society needs. We need books that are open and honest about mental health, that helps people who don’t know understand, and that shows those who do that they are not alone. However, I love that, while Aza’s struggles were a huge part of the plot, it wasn’t the only thing going on in her life. She was also learning, as most teenagers do, about love, loss, how to be a good friend, and that the world is so much bigger than ourselves. She learns so much more in her own way, but I want you to learn along with her—pick up this book as soon as you can!

Book Review – No Vain Loss

Title: No Vain Loss (No Ordinary Star #3)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: November 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do.
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
This is the One World.
The year is 2524.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic young adult novel in three parts is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three parts, this is the breathtaking story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

In No Vain Loss, the world is on the brink of the greatest war humanity has ever known. Lives will be lost. New truths will be revealed.

*I received a free eARC of this book from the author in return for an honest review. Check out my reviews for the first two books in the series HERE and HERE.*

 The long awaited finale of the No Ordinary Star series is finally arriving November 25th. I’ve loved following along the journey of Felix and Astra in their dystopian world. This final book answers a lot of questions, while bringing me back to this creative world Frank has dreamt up and the characters I’ve grown to care about. The first two books have built up to this big struggle of powers in the final book, and Frank did a good job of keeping the foreshadowed action exciting.

However, I had quite a few problems with this installment. While the ideas are good and the twists have been built up, the writing itself seems incredibly rushed and spacey in comparison to the other books. I found myself getting frustrated because it felt like Frank was talking in circles, frequently repeating herself several times before moving on to the next thing—and I’m not even talking about the different perspectives. Often times I’d finish a page and wonder why it took so long to say one thing. Everything felt scattered and it was exceedingly hard to stick with it. I even feel like the synopsis shows signs of this, and it doesn’t actually tell you anything about the story.

In the first two books, getting Felix’s perspective AND Astra’s perspective added to the plot immensely, especially because they both came from different backgrounds of knowledge. In the third book, the different perspectives seem pointless because they don’t add anything different to the story. There were also these moments where Felix and Astra would have entire conversations with their eyes: fully fleshed out thoughts being conveyed without a sound. I definitely feel like you can tell someone something with your eyes, but these conversations felt like such a stretch, I had a hard time believing it was anywhere near possible. The suspension of disbelief was just not there.

I was so excited about this final installment and, while I felt like my questions were answered and some of the plot twists were long awaited, I just felt like it missed the mark by a mile. I wanted to love it, but I just ended up confused by the circular writing.

Blog Tour – Carry Me Home

Title: Carry Me Home
Author: Jessica Therrien
Published: September 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
Goodreads
Review to come next week

CMH Ebook Cover

Synopsis:

“A riveting page-turner… Jessica Therrien broke my heart into a million pieces — and then put it back together again. This book will haunt and uplift readers long after they turn the last page.”
-KAT ROSS, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

CARRY ME HOME is a fictional novel inspired by the true story of a teenage girl’s involvement in several Mexican gangs in San Jose and Los Angeles. The members of her crew call her, Guera, Spanish for “white girl” and it doesn’t take long for her to get lost in their world of guns and drugs.

* * *

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world.

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

“You ready for this, Guera?” he asks.

It’s a test, Guera. Only thing I can say is you’re allowed to fight back. Take ‘em out with everything you got.

I’d heard of people being jumped into a gang before, maybe it was Rosa who told me about it. As the girls start to descend from their spots around the room, slowly closing in like encircling wolves, I know what’s about to happen.

The realization takes hold in my chest, a quick plunge of the heart into an icy lake of fear. I back away slowly out of instinct, ready to run, but there’s nowhere to go. The sound of their skittering feet is the first thing I hear before they come at me. Me against all of them. Me against Rose Tattoo and Cigarette Twins. Me against the jealous novias. Ten sets of eyes glinting with the thrill of a fight. I flinch and turn my back to avoid the fists, but they’re all around me. One of them catches me by the shoulders, holding me in place as the other girls hit the back of my skull. My head flies forward, chin to chest.

At first I don’t know whether to swing or cover. I reach up to protect myself, but there are too many points of contact. The rush of adrenaline is intense. It blocks the pain, but there is a fiery need in me to get away. I try and kick or punch, feeling one or two connect, but the girls are everywhere. An elbow slams against my temple. My head splits and my ears ring. I go down.

Every infinite minute of being the enemy feels like it’ll never end.

Someone’s shoe stomps my thigh. Others strike my ribs. I heave and gag until I can’t breathe. But that kind of terror turns me into a resilient kind of crazy. The kind of rabid-mad that is born of desperation. I scrape and flail until I’m on my feet, pulling hair and swinging my fists, making contact with whatever I can. I don’t realize I’m screaming until Toño calls them to a stop.

It ceases the moment the girls hear his voice, and I’m left there shaking and crazed, my breath dragging in and out of my lungs in a feverish effort to return to its normal rhythm. I pant and cry, as softly as I can, but it’s hard to deny my body the relief of all-out sobbing. My head hurts. My brain smashes against my skull with the pulse of too much pressure. I taste blood in my mouth, though no one has touched my face. Now that it’s over, the pain of it all rushes to the surface and makes me want to vomit. I feel like I could die.

Why am I here? Why am I doing this?

“She’s in,” Toño says, and the cheers of the group shock my senses and make me tense up.

They all rush me, and at first I’m terrified it’s about to start again, but instead they hug me and pat me on the shoulder all at once. Each hand on my back or squeeze around the shoulders rocks me with pain, but they’re so happy. Their laughter and cheering is contagious, it flows into me, filling me with a strange sense of pride and belonging. I can’t help my smile when I see their encouraging faces. I even start to laugh.

About the Author

Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release. Her trilogy has been translated and sold through major publishers around the world, such as Editions AdA (Canada), EditionsMilan (France), and SharpPoint Press (China).

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica is the author of a kid’s picture book called, The Loneliest Whale. Her award-winning stories can also be found in a published anthology of flash fiction.

Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two young sons. She is working on an a YA suspense thriller series and a middle grade fantasy series.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)

Signed copy of Oppression (Children of the Gods #1)
Signed copy of Carry Me Home
$10 Amazon Gift Card

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