A Love for the Ages

A Love for the Ages

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Passenger

by Alexandra Bracken

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

I don’t often read time-travel books but the cover and the synopsis were just too irresistible. Plus who doesn’t like adventure, romance, and cool ships?

Speaking of romance, this was much more of a love story than I’d anticipated. I mean it makes sense but the synopsis isn’t super mushy or anything, so I thought it be more of a time-travel adventure with a dash or devastating romance. Really it was more equal parts adventure and love, which was fine by me once I got into that mindset.

The characters and the storyline were fabulous. I loved them. The cast was wonderfully diverse. The supporting characters didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped, but the main characters did not disappoint.

The plot was action packed and extremely engaging. It was well paced and I really had no complaints until I reached the end. Towards the end the plot lost a little bit of its energy and its grip on me. Despite having almost 500 pages to go through the beginning, climax, and reach the resolution, the ending gave hardly any solutions or answers and created a lot of questions. I wanted some loose ends to get me excited about the sequel and build some suspense, but unfortunately I felt like there was too much of that and not enough resolution so I was more disappointed than interested. What did I read all that for if I don’t even get to know how some of the main points worked out?

It was beautifully written though, the style was elegant and seemed to be made for telling fantastical tales. It built up an enchanting air of magic that resonated deeply with me. Without such amazing, dimensional writing, this story would not have been nearly as rich and riveting as it was. Alexandra Bracken sets a fantastic example for fantasy authors everywhere.

Add it on Goodreads.

Buy it from Liberty Bay Books.

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January Love Stacks Giveaway

January Love Stacks Giveaway

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What better way to start off the new year than with a giveaway and some of my favorite books? I loved them so much that one of them even made it onto my top 5 reads of 2015 list.

If you’re new to my Love Stacks giveaways, here is a little bit about them: Love Stacks giveaways are monthly giveaways hosted by me, using gently loved ARC copies provided by Liberty Bay Books. The giveaways are open to entries for the entire duration of the month, and it is possible for an individual to win multiple different months’ prizes. All winners are chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Winners MUST BE U.S. RESIDENTS.

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Winnings Include:

Good luck and happy reading!
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Cults, Love and Corn

Cults, Love and Corn

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Blood and Salt

by Kim Liggett

***

Format: Paperback ARC

Source: Liberty Bay Books

Expected Date of Publication: September 22, 2015

***

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

***

This book took my breath away. There wasn’t a single thing about it that I didn’t like. Not one thing. That doesn’t happen very often.

It was sweepingly romantic and the definition of enchanting. It was the wildly unrealistic but dream like, heart pounding, firework, instant love. Despite me saying instant love, this wasn’t the obnoxious insta-love we all know and hate. There were kinks to work through, and feelings weren’t admitted for quite sometime despite the magnetic attraction between Ash and Dane. Somehow it wasn’t insta-love-y, at least to me. I’m not quite sure how Liggett managed but I am glad she did.

The entire storyline is like nothing I’ve ever read. It is hauntingly beautiful and absolutely bone chilling. It was creepy done right. I am often disappointed by books that promise creepy, thrilling, or horror because they never seem to pack quite the scary punch, I hope they will. This is an exception. While it wasn’t scary, it was thrilling and had me on edge. This book will give you goosebumps inside and out.

The characters were amazing. They each had such vibrant and unique personalities that all worked with each other and offset each other perfectly, bringing out each individual’s unique characteristics. They all had a good balance of good and bad, flaws and strengths. It was amazing how they all worked together and you couldn’t help but love all of them.

I was shocked at how funny it ended up being! Ash and her brother had this dry sense of humor that greatly contrasted the intensity and seriousness of their situation. They made jokes and said some really funny things that while seemingly out of place made me laugh out loud and somehow worked with everything else.

The plot was quite intricate and was always a step ahead of me, surprising me at every turn. I predicted some parts of it, but never the major reveals. Also, the pacing of it was perfect.

Last Words: This may very well be my favorite book I’ve read this year. It was an amazing blend of freaky Occult and fairytale romance. It was rich with emotion and written beautifully. Blood and Salt is a spellbinding story that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you tremble with fear all at once. I give it an enthusiastic five out of five stars.

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Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

Gif. Consensus: 

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Yin Loves Yang

Yin Loves Yang

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Everything Everything

by Nicola Yoon

***

Format: Paperback ARC

Source: Liberty Bay Books

Expected Date of Publication: September 1, 2015

***

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

***

Yes, this book was not without some bothersome flaws. But I must say that it was so adorably touching and sweet that although I found somethings irritating, they didn’t stop me from loving this book to bits and pieces.

Lets start off with the issues I had:

1. Why was everything white? Making things white doesn’t make them less allergenic! I don’t know if this was some weird literary device thing and it was just a huge metaphor for her life? If it was, that was just too deep to make all the white stuff ok, or normal.

2. The no touching rule made absolutely no sense. Clara and Maddy’s mom touched Maddy regularly despite living and working outside the house then going through the whole decontamination thing before entering the house again. Maddy’s teacher and Olly also live and work outside and go through the same decontamination system but are forbidden from touching her because it could be so detrimental to her health. That is a direct conflict of logic if I ever read one.

3. The relationship suddenly began progressing extremely fast. Don’t get me wrong almost all of it was the epitome of adorableness and sweetness but the relationship started moving way too fast for my taste towards the end.

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Now let’s move on to something more fun to talk about, all the things I loved!

1. The voice  of the writing was surprisingly clever and funny. I found myself laughing out loud at some parts which is extremely rare for me.

2. The format was also insanely clever and funny, in fact how it was formatted/written is really what brought out more of that humorous voice. There were funny lists, drawings and diagrams in between chapters and it was a great way to tell the story and delve into Maddy’s character.

3. It moved at a surprisingly fast pace, but I couldn’t help but love that about it. It was something different and it was well done.

4. Maddy+Olly. They might just be one of my new favorite literary couples. They were so, nearly unbearably, sweet. They were cute and awkward and heartwarming. There was no way not to love them, both as individuals and as a couple!

5. The story and the writing were both extremely full of life, emotion, and strong imagery. It had a vibrancy that many other books strive for but don’t quite manage to achieve as well as Nicola Yoon did in Everything, Everything. 

6. THE ENDING! Oh my stars, the ending! It was a complete surprise and the perfect twist. It was so utterly stunning and brought everything about the story together. It was heartbreaking but at the same time, everything you wanted to hear, a flawless and passionate antithesis. It very well could have been my favorite ending of all time, and my favorite part of the book.

Last Words: Everything, Everything is a breathtaking tale of growing up, living, and self discovery with a romance that will have you grinning from ear to ear. This story is everything from heartwarming to heartbreaking in all the best of ways. Despite some flaws in logic, it managed to sweep me off my feet. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

new4.5starwithfade Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

Gif. Consensus:

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The Review I Never Saw Coming

The Review I Never Saw Coming

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The Wrath & The Dawn 

by Renee Ahdieh 

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

I was absolutely shocked when I realized that this book wasn’t quite the pile of crap I was bracing myself for. Despite hearing nothing good about it, I decided to follow through with reading it. I love 1,001 Arabian Nights and I was terrified that this book would ruin all that, which in some ways it did, but in many ways it didn’t.

It was interesting because it wasn’t just a retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights, it was also reminiscent of Beauty and The Beast. It was an interesting approach, not just because of this but also because it ventured to answer why the King committed such heinous acts. I appreciated what it was trying to do even if I had my issues with it.

One issue I had was how Ahdieh approached the whole plot of 1,001 Arabian Nights was the execution of Shazi’s stories. It was difficult because I couldn’t help but think, I am reading this whole story in less than five minutes and yet an entire night has supposedly gone by in the book? I get that I wouldn’t want to read a whole 8+ hour long story in the middle of the frame story, but something about the logic of it all bothered me.

Speaking of logic issues, it was a bit hard to believe that Shazi almost completely changed her mind about Khalid when she started off with so much hatred. However, I am a firm supporter of Shazi+Khalid. I thought they were very cute together and their feelings for eachother weren’t a sudden as people had told me. You see some of Shazi’s confliction in her thoughts and the reasons behind them in the time leading up to her complete change of mind/feelings. Maybe all that could have been a little bit better executed, but it wasn’t terrible in my opinion, but that was because of how I read/interpreted it. Like most things in this business, this is highly subjective.

The only real issue I had with any of the characters was the fact that by the end of the book Shazi wasn’t the strong, fierce woman I’d grown to love. Sure she had her moments, but then she turned into a sniveling mess! I get that she was hurt (emotionally) but she was so dramatic and her pain was so drawn out and she handled it in such a weepy helpless way, it got old fast and didn’t fit her earlier personality/character. I did love almost all of the characters the rest of the time though. Jalal and Despina were my absolute favorite! So much sass and charisma! It was fantastic!

I’ll be honest I hated all the sections from Tariq’s point of view. I didn’t like him and his part in the love triangle at all and all the early sections involving him seemed like such a drag in comparison to the rest of what was going on. I don’t really know what it was in particular about those sections that I didn’t like, but I deeply detested it nonetheless.

I both loved the writing, but it also bothered me some for the very same reasons I loved it. Crazy, I know. Ahdieh’s writing was impressively rich and filled with descriptive language and imagery. It was the definition of lush and at first, striking. However, there were times as the tale went on that it felt like Ahdieh was trying way too hard with it all, and there were other times when I felt like there was just SO much going on and being described that I couldn’t take it all in like I wanted to. For the most part though, I really did enjoy the writing.

The plot was fairly well done. It was getting really intricate and intense towards the end and it had some really cool twists that I didn’t see coming. However, I have to admit I was EXTREMELY confused by the last (roughly) two pages. I even reread it because I was so confused about what had happened in between Shazi’s POV and Khalid’s POV at the very end. It didn’t make any more sense to me the second time around. So if you read this book and you understood please email me and explain it all (readerwritercritic.blog@gmail.com). I’m begging you. I want to understand so badly.

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Last Words: Despite the logic flaws that abound in this tale it was rich and ripe with culture, magic, and mystery. It you let the strong and feisty characters, clever plot twists and poetic romance sweep you away, any leaps in logic or holes in the plot seem meaningless. It’s a book readers either love or hate, with no in between, so I can’t say I’d recommend really. All I can say is if it sounds good to you, read it, if it sounds terrible, then don’t read it. I just ask that if you choose to try it, you try it with an open mind, otherwise there is no way you’ll enjoy it. I give it a tumultuous three out of five stars.

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Goodreads and Liberty Bay Books.

Gif. Consensus:
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July Love Stacks

July Love Stacks

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Well, I’m a little late due to being away from internet for a while, but a new month has begun and so has a new Love Stacks Giveaway! I will be away from the internet again for a while soon, but I will try to get some posts scheduled. Goodness knows I have plenty of reviews waiting to be written. In the meantime I wish y’all luck!

All the books being given away are all lightly used ARC copies kindly provided by Liberty Bay Books. The same rules apply and here they are:

Rules:
-USA Residents ONLY, Sorry! (Shipping is pricey!)

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Risky Romances:

-One ARC copy of Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

-One ARC copy of Under the Spotlight (A Jamieson Brothers Novel) by Angie Stanton

-One ARC copy of Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

-A piece of Mystery Reader, Writer, Critic Swag!

These were all fun (and not all strictly romance) and enjoyable reads that are on my list of books to review. So sadly you can’t here all my thoughts just yet. The only exception to this is Better Off Friends which I’ve already reviewed here.The only thing I will divulge is that despite Under The Spotlight being “the final installment in the Jamieson Brothers trilogy,” you do not need to have read any of the Jamieson Brothers trilogy to understand and love it. I certainly didn’t! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t, but rather that it isn’t 100% necessary to read the first two books before getting to this one.
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An Epic Tale of Navigating The Mutual Friendzone

An Epic Tale of Navigating The Mutual Friendzone

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Better Off Friends

by Elizabeth Eulberg

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

Better Off Friends was just the fun summer read I was looking for. It had the perfect balance of comedy, drama, and nerdy fun.

Cait from Paper Fury would appreciate the abundance of food. Macallan was always baking and her friends were always eating, the combination was perfect. Macallan and all of her friends were realistic and light hearted and  their families were actually in the picture! It was amazing, all of them were well developed and realistic. They actually seemed like real teens with real teen drama and problems, interests, and lives. Which made it a lot easier to connect with and relate to them. I loved every single one of the characters even the antagonists because they were so well done and nothing was black and white like it often is in fiction, intentions and actions get jumbled sometimes and not everything is as clear cut as it appears in media and this book’s characters reflected that.

I loved the way the book was formatted. To me, the way it was written and formatted is what made it as good as it was. Between the chapters that alternated POV, there were inserts with conversation between Macallan and Levi talking about what you just read in the last chapter. It was cool to read their thoughts looking back on their past and hearing and seeing all that how the other had at the time. It also added a lot of humor to the book and even had me chuckling (out loud!) at times.

The plot was well done, not too cheesy and dramatic, not too predictable. It was complex but not convoluted and flowed along beautifully.

Last Words: This book is as good as romantic comedy gets. It was a blast to read and perfectly satisfied my summer craving for something sweet and funny. It was surprisingly touching and actually had some pretty deep themes for being the fun and relatively short book it was. Heartwarming, and funny, with just the right amount of awkward, Better Off Friends  is the perfect YA read for romance snobs and grudging fans alike. So go on now, read it! You never know you might just love it.

I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Liberty Bay Books and Goodreads.

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Gif. Consensus: 

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