Sweet Trilogy Series Review

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Sweet Evil (Sweet Trilogy Series, Book 1) by Wendy Higgins

Synopsis: What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

About the Author: Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, along with her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She attended George Mason University for her undergraduate degree in creative writing, and Radford University for a masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught high school English before achieving her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal, romance

More Info: paperback, 447 pages, published by HarperTeen on May 1, 2012


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Sweet Peril (Sweet Trilogy Series, Book 2) by Wendy Higgins

Synopsis: Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

About the Author: Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, along with her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She attended George Mason University for her undergraduate degree in creative writing, and Radford University for a masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught high school English before achieving her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal, romance

More Info: paperback, 384 pages, published by HarperTeen on April 30, 2013


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Sweet Reckoning (Sweet Evil Series, Book 3) by Wendy Higgins

Synopsis: Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the earth of the demons and their oppressive ways.

The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous—especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting. When the Duke of Lust sends Anna’s great love, Kaidan Rowe, to work against her, Anna must decide how much she’s prepared to risk.

About the Author: Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, along with her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She attended George Mason University for her undergraduate degree in creative writing, and Radford University for a masters in curriculum and instruction. Wendy taught high school English before achieving her dream of becoming a full-time author. She now lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, and son.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal, romance

More Info: paperback, 379 pages, published by HarperTeen on April 29, 2014


Series Review

4

Spoilers

This series is another one of my favorites and it is seriously underhyped.

Some people are turned off by the religious elements in this series. But, let’s be honest, can you have a book about angels and demons, sins and virtues, without religion? The religion aspect isn’t overpowering anyway. Anna doesn’t read or cite the Bible excessively (visibly, she only uses the Bible once). Anna is pure of heart and body, so, yes, she prays. Her love for people and love for Him stems from being raised by Patti. And of course, she has a guardian angel for a mother; how could she not be influenced by that, just as much as she gets urges from her demon father? Religion is not forced on the reader, it is simply a part of the world the main characters lives in, and becomes more prevalent as she discovers who she is and what she is meant for.

  1. Anna Whitt: Anna is your classic blonde-haired, brown-eyed, good girl. She does her homework and stays away from illegal substances, because she has strong cravings for drugs and alcohol that scare her. She can see and feel emotions, and has heightened senses. She grew up in a small town in Georgia, raised by a loving guardian. Having never known her real parents, Anna is surprised to find out her deceased mother was a guardian angel, and her father, who is alive, is a demon.
  2. Patti Whitt: Since being led by an angle to the Convent in California to adopt Anna, Patti becomes a faithful and protective mother. She is the epitome of southern hospitality and the pinnacle of motherly-love. She nurtures the other nephilim and works to make sure Anna is safe, despite being only human.
  3. Jay Thompson: Jay is Anna’s best friend. He is also a human, so the other nephilim find their connection odd. He has a passion for music, so he writes lyrics and becomes a DJ. He later gets involved in Anna’s demonic/angelic side of life. There, he meets Marna, and pines for her even when he’s dating Veronica (Anna other friend).
  4. Kaidan Rowe: Kaidan Rowe. 😍 In Anna’s words, he is H-O-T-T. With brown hair, high cheekbones, an English accent, and piercing blue eyes, he is the embodiment of sexual passion. Literally. He is the son of Pharzuph, the Duke of Lust. He is the drummer in a band and gets lost in his music. Kaidan has demons, both personal and physical, that follow him through life.
  5. Johnathan LaGray AKA. Belial: John is Anna’s father and the demon Duke of Substance Abuse. He is a hulking, intimidating man. But don’t be fooled, he is on the path to redemption and has a sweet spot for his daughter and a certain adoptive mother. He loves Anna’s mother, Mariantha, with everything he is and hopes to meet her again one day in heaven.
  6. Kopano: Kope is the son of Alocer, the Duke of Wrath. However, Kope feels a pull for more than one sin. Despite his urges, Kope is practically celibate. He has stopped working, is going to college, and doesn’t do bad. Kope is from Malawi and has brown skin. His goal is to return to his hometown and help his people. He is sweet but quiet. He harbors feelings for Anna, until he meets another passionate nephilim.
  7. Marna and Ginger: The twin are the daughters of Astaroth, and they are vassals of adultery. Marna is sweet and optimistic; Ginger is harsh and pessimistic. Ginger is also incredibly loyal and protective of Marna. They are opposites in personalities, but their sisterly bond is unbreakable, by everything except death.
  8. Blake: Black is an asian thrill-seeker. As the son of Melchom, he has to represent greed. So he has the biggest house, the latest technology, the trophy girl, and the best skills. He desires Ginger and wishes to be free of his horrible obligations to hell.
  9. Dukes: There are twelve Dukes in all; ascendants from hell who embody sins: lust, wrath, greed, substance abuse, adultery, lies, gluttony/sloth, envy, pride, theft, hatred, murder. Since they are demons, they can possess any corporeal person and switch between bodies (deemed the “changing of the guard”). They were originally angels, but sided with Lucifer and got banished from heaven. Their earthly children are called nephilim and are expected to serve the dukes and spread sin.

In Sweet Evil, Anna meets Kaidan and all hell breaks loose . . . literally. She finds out she is a nephilim and that her father is a demon. She goes on a cross country trip with Kaidan, a lust nephilim, and learns about her new world. The purpose of their trip is to meet her imprisoned father and the convent nun. She connects with her dad, who is soft despite his hard exterior. She also receives a message and a sword hilt from the nun.

In Sweet Peril, Anna finds out she is meant for a special destiny. There is a prophecy: when humanity despairs, their will be a Nephilim pure of heart who will cast demons from earth to remain in hell forever, and send the righteous lost angels to heaven with forgiveness. So, Anna and her father recruit member to join the fight. Also, Anna must remain pure to wield the sword of righteousness. By the final stand, all of the nephilim and dukes must choose a side. The second book ends on a good note with Anna’s and Kaidan’s relationship, but a sobering note about the future fight.

Finally, in Sweet Reckoning, the struggle between “good and evil” comes to a close. The Dukes become suspicious of Anna and Belial and their position with the dreaded prophecy. All of the main characters in the group take their relationships to the next level.

I love the relationships between all of the characters. There is so much tension, but there is also a deep understanding between the nephilim, due to their predicament. Patti is the most caring person, and mothers all of the characters. The Dukes are cruel, but some have the potential for good, like Alocer who lets Kope not work.

The conclusion of the series is one of my favorite endings. It was brief, but summed up the whole plot and character’s stories. The finale had my heart melting and had me seeing Kaidan in a new light.

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Daughter of the Pirate King Review

dotpkDaughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Synopsis: There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

About the Author: Tricia Levenseller is from a small town in Oregon, but she now lives in Utah with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read another textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, and watching her favorite TV shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance, historical

More Info: hardcover, 320 pages, published by Feiwel & Friends on February 28, 2017

4.5

Partial spoilers

Alosa is not only the captain of her own ship, the Ava-lee, but she is also the daughter of the Pirate King, Kalligan. Her father monopolized the sea and now rules over all who sail on it. But he wants more. As one of three descendants of the first pirates, Alosa’s father has one piece of a map that leads to The Treasure.  He is determined to get the other two thirds, and claim the mysterious island for himself. As the future queen, Alosa wants the treasure just as much.

So, she purposely gets captured by the sons (Riden and Draxen) of one of her father’s, recently deceased, competitor, Jeskor. She has no idea if the sons know about the map, or if they are hiding it. So she spends every night searching the Nightfarer. Along the way, she gets caught “trying to escape” or “exacting revenge.” But she is really hiding her true motive and her true abilities.

When things take a turn for the worse, she has to work with Riden to save his life, preserve her secrets, and escape their kidnappers.

 

I read this book immediately when it released February 2017. I then started to write a review, but never finished. A few months later and I wanted to reread Daughter of the Pirate King again, because who can resist a swashbuckling, young adult pirate book with a kick-ass female main character. So, here I am with my second attempt at a review.

The book starts out with a bang. There are major twists and some hidden hints along the way. The plot is fast-paced and easy to follow since Alosa has one main task: find the map. The plot is filled with stealthy escapes, witty banter, surprise attacks, and more. There was a huge change/escalation at the rising action/climax of the book. If felt like the book jumped into a different plot altogether. But that section helps readers learn more about Alosa. The end was satisfying, but felt like on ended on a weird note. It was not like the take charge, step up to the ship’s wheel, dramatic, music, ready to go on another adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean ending.

Alosa is fiery, just like her red hair. She is smart, ruthless, strong, and competent; a well-rounded pirate. She is confident and critical; all of which made me enjoy listening to her thoughts. But she is also feminine. For example, she makes her captors bring her clothes and accessories into her cell aboard their ship. While she also uses her belongings to stash lock picks and knives, her demand makes me think of Mulan: “Just because I look like a man doesn’t mean I have to smell like one.” Readers hear a lot that Alosa is holding back because she can’t give herself away. When she makes a mistake, I can tell that she is holding back. But her constant annoyance with minimizing her abilities gets tiring. So, she is not as perfect as she thinks. Alosa also has a tortured past. Her father was brutal in her training as he taught her to learn her limits. Yet, she still works for her father and claims to have freedom. I think she is blinded from his cruelty as he uses her for a weapon. Alosa is also half-human, half-siren. And both half don’t blend. Alosa can call upon her siren self, which she doesn’t like to do often. Readers can feel the change in Alosa through her thoughts, the prose, and people’s perception of her.

Riden can see through Alosa. He sees the change between her two selves and he sees past her facade. Riden is also fiercely loyal to his brother, which I admire despite his brother being an egotistical jerk. Riden is also the opposite of your usual pirate; he has proper hygiene, keeps a pristine room, and holds back on many aspects of pirating.

I totally ship Alosa and Riden. Riden seems honorable, hot, and capable. And it seems that Alosa may agree with me. Aside from their entertaining back-and-forth nature, the fact that Riden can pull Alosa from her siren trance shows a lot about their relationship. While Riden gets caught between his loyalties to Draxen and his feelings for Alosa, I think their strong bonds will prevail.

Draxen seemed like somewhat of a stock characters. He thinks he has it all. The only time I was impressed with him was when he figured out the best way to get information out of Alosa, by threatening to cut her hair. That was a backhanded, clever moved I never expected from him. I like Kearan and Enwen. I don’t have much of a opinion on Kearan, because he always seemed the strong, silent, mysterious type. But Enwen certainly sticks in my mind. He is a rum-good thief and he is a superstitious fool.

While Alosa is an awesome female protagonist, I wish there were more prevalent female characters. Readers see Alosa’s crew through her thoughts and briefly in-person, but not enough interaction to form an opinion of them. I wish there was more about her female crew. I’m sure this will be addressed in Daugher of the Siren Queen, but it was the one thing lacking in this first book.

The setting was just the Nightfarer, and two islands. I think this was the main disappointment for me. I felt like there should have been more exploring and sailing in a pirate book, although I get how that would be hard for Alosa as a prisoner. The ship fights were a good addition but they didn’t strike me like a Pirates of the Carribean attack, because they ended quickly and there was minimal description.

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Happily Ever After Review

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Happily Ever After (Cinder & Ella, Book 2) by Kelly Oram

Synopsis: The end of one story is often the beginning of another. Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver and his Cinderella princess Ellamara Rodriguez have finally found love outside the digital world. But leaving their anonymity behind creates a whole new set of obstacles for the nation’s new favorite sweethearts. With the stress of Brian’s fame and the pressures of a new relationship weighing down on them, the It Couple quickly begins to wonder if they can hold onto their newfound joy, or if maybe happily ever after is only a fairy tale.

About the Author: Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary

More Info: Kindle edition, 342 pages, published by Bluefields on April 11, 2017

4.5

Partial spoilers from Cinder & Ella and Happily Ever After

When Cinder & Ella (review) ended, I wanted more of Brian and Ellamara. Having the two flirt over the internet and meet briefly in person, I wanted more face-to-face interaction. I was happy to see there was a sequel, Happily Ever After.

In this book, readers see Ella and Brian’s relationship develop. Ella has to deal with the fame of being a famous actor’s girlfriend. Ella continues to struggle with her new family. And Ella tries to become more comfortable with her disability and looks.

 

I read through this book quite fast. Although, the plot was all over the place. The main conflict was just Ella dealing with her new fame, which was quite a step from the serious themes in book one. There were also a lot of mini-conflicts that resulted from Ella’s newfound fame. Mostly, I liked this book for the relationships and characters.

I loved seeing Brian and Ella together, dating. I do feel that their relationship was very serious, very fast; this could just be because I haven’t seen their years of interaction online. But for only a week or two of meeting in person, I totally understood Ella’s hesitations.

Such hesitations included having intimate relations and moving in with him, which I understand, because, like I said their relationship seemed to be moving fast. Oram really hit feelings on the head. The jealousies, the love, the loyalty, and other emotions are the most interesting part of the novel. But overall, I loved seeing Brian and Ella’s relationship progress. They grew together, they talked together, and they seemed in-sync.

Brian seemed different from his portrayal in Cinder & Ella. This could be because of the three year difference between the two books in this duology. Either way, he seemed much more mature compared to his childish POV in book one. He was finally acting his age (he seemed to me a petulant young adult in the first book, when he is actually supposed to be about 22). He also seemed too perfect. Maybe because Ella perceived him that way for most of the book and her perspective influenced mine. But he didn’t seem to have too many faults.

In fact, one of Brian’s only faults was his father . . . and well, you can’t choose who you are related to. While readers saw Ella interact with her father and stepfamily in Cinder & Ella, Happily Ever After introduces Brian’s family to the picture. His father, as I said before, is self-serving. I was annoyed on Brian’s and Ella’s behalf, so I was happy he wasn’t a top character in the book. On the other hand, Brian’s mother and stepfather are adorable.

Speaking of family, readers see a lot more of Ella’s father and stepfamily. I actually prefered the stepfamily as opposed to the father—a drastic change from when Ella first moved to California. Ella’s father’s resentment takes another step and his open mouth gets him in trouble. I get that he was stressed and worried for his “real” family, but I’m not sure if I would have forgiven him. Ella is simply too kindhearted.

Ella’s acceptance of her disability/skin is a large part of this book. After the bullying she was victim to in book one, I completely understand her hesitation to be in the public eye. But she has the potential to be an inspiration (even if the companies contacting her are only in it for their own gain). Ella’s steps toward self-confidence is amazing, body-positive, and realistic. Unrealistic body expectations are a major problem in our society.

In the first book we see Juliette’s transformation from bitch to bestie. While Ana doesn’t make such a full change, I was happy to see her being more friendly toward Ella, even with her both behavior.

The ending was cute, just like in Cinder & Ella except at a different stage in the main character’s relationship together. Overall this series is a unique, great read with the balance between the dark and light themes.

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A Conjuring of Light Emoji Review

conjurelight.jpgA Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic Series, Book 3) by V.E. Schwab

Synopsis: THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

About the Author: Victoria (V.E.) Schwab is the author of the NYT bestselling Shades of Magic series, as well as a number of MG and YA novels, including This Savage Song. She has been called “the heir to Diana Wynne Jones.” Her dynamic work has caught the attention of major TV and film studios.

Schwab has a Masters degree in Art History from the University of Edinburgh. She currently lives in Nashville, TN, but frequents Edinburgh.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, adventure, romance

More Info: hardcover, 624 pages, published by Tor Books on February 21, 2017

5

Emoji Review

It is impossible to gather my thoughts about this book in coherent sentences. There is simply too much greatness to talk about. This list doesn’t even cover my feelings for this book . . . it was 100% perfection.

✔️ Amazing writing 📝

✔️ Perfect ending 🎀

✔️ Fast-paced 🏃🏼

✔️ Emotional 😰

✔️ Witty interactions 💁🏼

✔️ Developing relationships 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦

✔️ World-building 🌎

✔️ Subtle romance ❤️

✔️ Holland’s background ⚪️

✔️ Lila’s badassery 🔫

✔️ Rhy’s perseverance ☀️

✔️ Kell’s heroism 🌹

✔️ Alucard’s passion ✨

✔️ Fighting 👊🏽

✔️ Pirate Ships ⛵️

✔️ Secret black market 💰

 

✖️ Sacrifice ❌

✖️ Multiple POVs ❓

✖️ Open ending ➡️

 

Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

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A Gathering of Shadows Review

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A Gathering of Shadows (Darker Shades of Magic, Book 2) by V.E. Schwab

Synopsis: It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

About the Author: V. E. SCHWAB’s first adult novel, Vicious, debuted to critical praise and reader accolades. Schwab is the author of YA novels, including the acclaimed The Near Witch, along with writing Middle Grade for Scholastic. The Independent calls Schwab “the natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and someone who has “an enviable, almost Gaiman-esque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance, action

More Info: paperback, 512 pages, published by Tor Books on February 23, 2016

4.5

Partial Spoilers

I could barely form words for my review of A Darker Shade of Magic. I can’t guarantee that this will be any better, but I’ll give it a shot.

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There really wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about this book. The only reason I gave A Gathering of Shadows 4.5/5 stars is becuase it all seemed like filler. It is mostly character driven. There is a foreboding threat on the horizon, as White London and Black London come back to bite Red London in the butt. This book builds beautifully, but ends with a tense cliffhanger. (Be warned: You might want to keep A Conjuring of Light on hand, ready to read.) I’d compare this series to the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The first movie could stand alone. And the second and third movies are drawn out and connected.

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That being said, the main plot point in part 1 (AGOS) is the Essen Tach or Element Games. The championship is meant for entertainment, while the top magicians battle their way to the top. As an international competition, the Essen Tach also function as a political statement. With all of the importance hanging over his head, Rhy is the one to organize the games. … However, Rhy is not the only one involved; Alucard, Kell, and Lila all enter as contestants . . . although not all of them get involved through “legal” ways.

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Kell and Lila and Rhy, oh my! I loved learning more about my favorite characters. Kell is restless. He’s always working off steam. He feels like a prisoner in his own home. He feels alienated from the King and Queen. And he can’t stop thinking about a certain cross-dressing pirate from Grey London. Said knife-wielding Delilah Bard has spent some time at sea. She’s slowly trying to earn the respect of the crew. She’s also been learning magic from her Captain. She is determined to develop elemental abilities and she pushes herself to every limit. For all her fierceness, her vulnerability gave her a new dimension. And poor, charming Rhy. The darling of Red London has a lot to live up to, with his father letting him run the Element Games. But after dying and coming back to life in A Darker Shade of Magic, he’s having major psychological issues.

Alucard Emery! 😍 This pirate, *clears throat* I mean privateer, joins the team. He’s a Captain by choice and a Lord by circumstance. We get to see parts of Alucard’s backstory, some of which is presented through his interactions with his family. I liked seeing his brother and sister because it made him more developed, but there may have been too much of a focus on the Emery household. I felt like there were three sides to Alucard: the pirate, the lord, and the lover. I both respected Alucard for his present actions, and felt regret for Alucard’s past actions and the consequences.

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Oh, the ships! (Both of water and people.) While this book does not focus on romance, relationships are formed. They are slow-burning and perfect. I was filled with tension, just waiting for the moment when Kell and Lila met again after four long months. And now Rhy has a new love interest, the infamous Alucard Emery! I wasn’t expecting this pairing, especially after Alucard hit on Lila, but I am totally behind it. I enjoyed seeing the expansion between Kell’s relationship with his “brother,” Rhy. Their support for one another only grows, despite their issues. The other non-romantic anti-relationship that caught my attention was the  animosity between Kell and Alucard. I loved Kell’s protectiveness for Rhy, but I felt for Alucard at the same time. I wondered where the tension came from up until it was revealed.

I enjoyed this book, despite the lack of serious conflict. You get to see more of the characters and their motivations, so the character development is on point. This world is perfect and I was excited to see more of Red London. The various competitors and their appearances shed light on the other territories in Kell’s world. For example, I thought it was so unique that one of the groups from another country had Jewels in their skin. The writing is beautiful and the novel is perfect. If you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic, yet . . . then what are you waiting for?

A Gathering of Shadows by @veschwab and Kell's game board. ⚪🔴⚫ In A Darker Shade of Magic, readers hear about the children's toy Kell brings to Grey London. If one has an affinity for magic, they should be able to move some of the elements in the box. Only Antari with strong magic, like Kell, can control them all… including bone. In A Gathering of Shadows, Lila discovers her own ability to manipulate elements. 🍃 If I lived in Red London, I would be able to wield air and/or earth. ❔ Which elements would you associate with if you lived in Kell's world? ☠️🌍💧💨🔥 #YAbook #bookstagram #bookblogger #bookblog #PoreOverthePages #bookreview #ADarkerShadeofMagic #AGatheringofShadows #ShadesofMagicSeries

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Cinder & Ella Review

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Cinder & Ella (Cinder & Ella, Book 1) by Kelly Oram

Synopsis: It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.
Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

About the Author: Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary

More Info: Kindle edition, 322 pages, published by Bluefields on October 1, 2014

5

Ellamara was named after a priestess from the Cinder Chronicles by L.P. Morgan, her mother’s favorite book series. Ella adopts the books herself and becomes a reader with her own blog. She lives with her single mother, and while they live modestly, Ella has many amazing memories, such as author pictures and signatures. Her birthday is a big production; when she turns 18, her mom takes her out of school and they head for the spa. But in the middle of a winter storm, they get into a car crash.

When Ella wakes up from a coma, she is in the presence of her long-lost father. She has missed her mother’s funeral. Most of her things are gone. And Ella has burn scars that cover over 70% of her body. She now walks with a limp and a cane—and it’s a miracle she can move at all. Then, she is taken from Boston to LA, where she is given a handicapped room with a view. Her new life also comes with a supermodel step-mother and twin step-sisters.

She is scorned by her family, tormented at her new school, and haunted by her own thoughts. When she reconnects with her old internet friend, things get better. They move their friendship forward, but the ultimate test of their relationship has yet to come. At the same time, Ella must learn to adapt to her new body, mental health, and environment.

 

I have so much to say about this book, so here I go!

Veronika (The Regal Critiques) recommended this book to me. When I read the synopsis, it reminded me of a recent book I had read: When It’s Real by Erin Watt (review). While When It’s Real was light, Cinder & Ella was heavy. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed and smiled throughout this book, but there was some hefty content.

At her new private school, Ella is the victim of relentless, over-the-top bullying. The bullying was cliché and almost over-excessive; but I’m afraid that such harsh words and actions might actually be a possible reaction in the real world.

That being said, Ella is not your typical, beautiful, white heroine. First off, she is half-caucasian, half-Chilean. She expresses her spanish identity with her mother; but since that timeline is confined to the prologue and brief mentions, I wish there were more about her mixed heritage apart from the food. Now, she has a lot of scars, a pronounced limp, and a cane. Ella also struggles with mental issues in addition to physical ones. She has depression, low self-esteem, and suicidal tendencies. Yet, Ella so is brave and strong. For example, I would be speechless in the face of my favorite author or actor, but here is Ella demanding that the actor playing the main character of The Druid Prince read the book. She fights for her opinions, and the person she (playfully) argues with the most, is Cinder.

Cinder is an online friend Ella met through her blog. He is a mysterious, but friendly persona who lives across the country, until Ella is brought to California. What readers know, that Ella doesn’t, is that Cinder is in fact Brian Oliver, a famous actor. They have been talking for over three years. When, Cinder doesn’t hear from Ella after her accident, so he thinks she is dead. He goes on a downward spiral, until he finally receives an email months later. His whole world flips upside down, and you can tell he really cares for Ella despite the supposed distance between them. For most of the first book, I assumed Cinder/Brian was in his teens. He acted like a spoiled brat, like an entitled child, apart from his devotion to Ella. This does match society’s view of him, with a bad reputation as a teen who’s not serious about his career. But, when I learned that he was supposed to be 22 years old, I was stunned; the age did not fit my perception of Brian. Otherwise, I wish I had seen Brian interact with more people to reveal his personality further.

Ella’s other friend is Vivian. Vivian is the other outcast at school, with red and white streaked hair, violet contacts, and two dads. While she doesn’t have a lot in common with Ella, they click instantly. Vivian doesn’t care about Ella’s deformations, and neither do her fathers. As costume designers, the two gay men make Ella feel beautiful in their home-made dresses. I just love Vivian and her dads. They are an amazing addition to the story and to Ella’s life.

For the rest of the characters, i.e. Ella’s new family, I was back and forth. I sympathized with Ella as the main character, but I occasionally saw the other side. Their actions and words were not always black and white. The characters were so real and flawed. The main thing I have to say for Jennifer, parallels Ella’s assessment: she’s insensitive. Ella’s dad is a conundrum. He obviously has hidden resentment toward his daughter, but he welcomes her into his home. He is over-protective, but doesn’t accept Ella’s own judgement. Anastasia is rude and ruins even the best of times.

Then there is the other twin, Juliette. In the beginning, she was nowhere near as bad as Anastasia. She ignored Ella for the most part. Later, her morals kick in and she acts out for Ella. It’s a bumpy transition, but I loved Juliette’s character arc/development.

The writing was easy to follow, although many of the plot points and character traits are revealed through dialogue. I can’t say I was disappointed; in over-descriptive books I tend to skim over the narration and skip to the talking. And there were many amazing details. Having said that, this book could have used more description. There were times when I couldn’t picture the setting and paint a mental picture of the scene.

One of the positives about this book was the talk about mental health. It was expressed in a straightforward manner. There is a stigma about mental health, so I was happy to see Ella’s sessions with Dr. Parish. Ella may have felt alone in the beginning, but even then she had her hospital team. When she was told to build her support system, Ella contacted Cinder. The best thing about her friendship (infatuation?) was its effect. Yes, her funny friend changed her with smiles, laughs, and normalcy. However, it was not “love conquers all.” Ella still struggles with her appearance and motivation.

The ending was so cute. Personally, I was content with the finale. When I found out there was a book 2, I was happy to be privy to more of Ella and Brian’s forming relationship. I was so excited, that I actually binge read both books within 24 hours. Oops. 😊

Buy it here:

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When Dimple Met Rishi Review

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Synopsis: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

About the Author: Sandhya Menon is the author of When Dimple Met Rishi. She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Now she lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her husband and children watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite. Visit her online at SandhyaMenon.com.

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance

More Info: Kindle edition, 380 pages, published by Simon Pulse on May 30, 2017

4.5

When Dimple Met Rishi is a book that follows . . . you guessed it, Dimple and Rishi.

Dimple is a school/career focused, Indian-American, who loves coding. She doesn’t see eye to eye with her mother’s view on marriage. And she wants to experience life on her own. So, she is heading to Stanford at the end of the summer. But with weeks still ahead of her before she goes to college, she discovers Insomnia Con 2017 and immediately wants to go. When she finds out that the winning prize may include a concept critique with Jenny Lindt, her web development idol, she pleads with her parents let her go to the summer camp. She is skeptical when her parents agree, but takes their compliance and runs with it.

In San Francisco, Dimple meets her roommate . . . and her mother’s pick for her “Ideal Indian Husband.”

Rishi is a hopeless romantic. He goes to Insomnia Con ready to meet his life partner through an arranged marriage set up by his parents. He believes Dimple knows about the arrangement. But she doesn’t, so things go seriously wrong.

“Hello, future wife,” he said, his voice bubbling with glee. “I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!”

Dimple stared at him for the longest minute. The only word her brain was capable of producing, in various tonal permutations was: What? What?

Dimple didn’t know what to think. Serial killer? Loony bin escapee? Strangely congenial mugger? Nothing made sense. So she did the only thing she could think to do in the moment—she flung her iced coffee at him and ran the other way.

They end up partnered together to work on the project for the competition. With Dimple’s idea and Rishi’s art, they attempt to make a great app to help people with medical problems, like her father’s diabetes and his inability to keep up with the changes to his prescriptions. They bond over meals, hard work, dancing, and fun. They challenge each other and fall in love despite Dimple’s vehemence not to commit to a serious relationship.

 

This book is amazing. I was smiling and laughing at various points. This novel just made me so happy. I laughed out loud at the scene where they first met (see above). I grinned at the description of Rishi fan(boy)ing for his favorite comic book artist. I’m pretty sure if I met some of my favorite authors, I would be incapable of speech as well. It was such a perfect and relatable moment.

That being said, I can see myself in so many aspects of the main characters. Like Rishi, I regularly call my parents to check in and talk about my day/problems. Dimple allowing Rishi to stay and be her partner out of guilt for her harsh treatment. I feel guilty a lot, sometimes for no reason at all, and can relate to worrying about human interaction. Also like Dimple, I get obsessive over my work. I’m a perfectionist at heart and want the end result to be perfect.

Despite my perfectionist philosophy, I enjoyed Dimple’s flaws. They are what make her so real and personable. There was some controversy over Dimple throwing coffee on Rishi, but I think her reaction was somewhat practical. I also enjoyed Dimple’s dedication to learning and education.

I wouldn’t mind me a Rishi Patel. As a student myself, I related to Rishi’s struggle of finding a career that is stable VS enjoyable. He is so attentive and considerate. The “date” that he takes Dimple on was so thoughtful and so perfect. He is down to earth too. Despite Rishi’s parents being rich, Rishi is not snobby. This is shown directly by the difference between Rishi and Celia’s friends.

Speaking of Celia, she was a good addition to character list. Her relationship with Ashish, Rishi’s younger brother, is like a story within a story.

Another interesting, albeit less mentioned, character is Dimple’s mom. Her mom is pushy and traditional. They don’t exactly relate. Her mom wants her to wear makeup and become a wife. Dimple wants to further her education and, like most teenagers, occasionally be lazy. The progression of their relationship at the end made me content. Although they weren’t present for the whole story, I was happy to see parental representation (for both Dimple and Rishi) in YA.

The cultural representation and search for identity were amazing. All views of the Indian-American culture were presented in a straightforward manner. The traditional vs non-traditional lifestyles were also shown. There are Hindi terms flawlessly incorporated through dress and customs. Seeing Dimple’s struggle with her Indian half and Rishi’s acceptance, demonstrate the multicultural struggle to fit in and to determine self.

One of the main points in the book is the dismissal and stereotyping of the rich, white people. While the “Amberzombies” do function to show aspects of the main characters’ personalities, the plot could have gone is so many different ways. I think Cait says it best in her review: A Page With a View: When Dimple Met Rishi Review. I was uncomfortable with the party scene when Dimple pressures Rishi to drink. Yes, peer pressure is real, and that scene shows how there can be a potential for danger through Rishi’s hesitation.

This is an amazing, diverse, fluffy contemporary book. However, I wish there was more about the coding and app development. But the pieces of plot match up nicely. The dual POVs made the story fresh, although I had a hard time distinguishing between their voice once or twice. The ending was somewhat cliché, but it brought the story full circle in an adorable fashion.

Buy it here:

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When It’s Real Review

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When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Synopsis: Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…

About the Author: Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up. You can contact them at their shared inbox: authorerinwatt@gmail.com

Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary

More Info: Kindle edition, 416 pages, published by Harlequin Teen on May 30, 2017

4

Vaughn is family-oriented. She strives to help her older sister and younger twin brothers, since their parents died. She is responsible, while her parents were reckless. She likes security, such as her steady boyfriend and job. Then, the ultimate opportunity presents itself for Vaughn to make a lot of money that can be used for her family and college: pretend date a pop star, Oakley Ford.

After hours of legal mumbo-jumbo, she meets the superstar. And he’s the entitled celebrity she imagined him to be. He’s lost his image and his mojo, not having released an album for many years. Now, all he wants is to be taken seriously, to make different music. His publicity team thinks Vaughn is the answer. They go on fake dates, but actually get to know one another after some time. Vaughn discovers Oakley’s secrets and he finds out her ambitions. Eventually, the gimmick becomes something real. But even true relationships still have their issues.

 

When I saw that Erin Watt was publishing a standalone book, I knew I had to have it because I was so engrossed in their Royals series.

The characters in When It’s Real were so different from the characters in the Royals books. It was a great contrast.

After reading the Royals series, this book wasn’t what I was expecting. But it was a good change. This book was directed toward young adults rather than new adults, with less explicit content. Vaughn’s sister even had a swear jar, because she doesn’t like profanity, leading to more censored language.

The plot itself—a homely girl dating rock star, how the scheme was devised, etc—was somewhat far-fetched. However, the depiction of humanity, relations, emotions, etc. were quite real. The people, their actions, and their emotions were flawed, which made the characters so relatable.

I loved Oakley’s character arc and character development. I didn’t like him at first, neither through Vaughns nor Oakley’s point of view. He changed over time, and I enjoyed seeing him change. Which was what his team wanted in the first place . . . for him to settle down. His desperation to work with King, the top record producer, made me cringe, and also find him endearing. Oakley is a man who knows what he wants and tries to get it, even through a right or wrong manner.

The chemistry between Vaughn and Oakley was great. It wasn’t necessarily a hate-to-love relationship, but it was pretty close. Their sexy back-and-forth Tweets and banter was adorable. They didn’t take any crap from one another,

Oakley’s interactions with his fans are on-spot. I would imagine, as a hot celebrity, it must be tiring to talk to every person who wants your attention. As such, I found it very believable that Oakley didn’t like to be touched. So, my favorite scene is when the young girl asks for a picture with him. She won’t touch him, so he initiates a hug. It was so cute! I’m a sucker for gentlemen. And he sings with a passion that comes through when he is relaxed.

Vaughn’s and Oakley’s interactions with the other characters, such as Vaughn’s horrible ex-boyfriend, and Oakley’s parents, made them more 3-dimensional. Overall, I was sucked into this story and emotions. There wasn’t much of a plot, and what existed of plot was light and fluffy. This a great summer read, filled with a dreamy romance, a cliché plot, and realistic characters.

Buy it here:

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Our Dark Duet Review

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Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, Book 2) by Victoria Schwab

Synopsis: Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

About the Author: Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and when she is not wandering in search of buried treasure, fairy tales, and good tea, she’s tucked in a cafe, dreaming up monsters.

Genre: young adult, fantasy, dystopia

More Info: hardcover, 528 pages, published by Greenwillow Books on June 13, 2017

4

Kate has become a monster hunter in Prosperity. August has become a leader in Verity. Both of them have grown in the six months they spent apart, but while Kate has discovered herself, August has only become more lost.

August has been fighting small battles against the Malchai, Sloan and Alice (Kate’s Malchai), and Fangs (collared, vicious humans). Kate has been fighting small battles against the Heart Eaters (the only monster in Prosperity). That is, until Kate encounters a new monster—the Chaos Eater. She inadvertently leads the new, intangible monster to Verity. So, she heads home.

There she finds a city still separated between north and south: humans vs monsters. She also finds a divided group of FTF councillors and people who are fighting, but making minimal progress.

With new threats to face, the FTF fighters must come together to defeat monsters, before they are pitted against each other by the Chaos Eater.

 

First, I would like to say that I am so happy the cover for This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet match. They are both pretty and look great together. I really don’t like when the cover art changes between books in a series.

Schwab’s writing has captivated me again. Our Dark Duet did not have the same impact on me as This Savage Song, but it was still a great read. The sequel/conclusion to the Monsters of Verity duology was very well handled.

The content, such as details and information, was very consistent with the first book. This consistence applies to the characters as well. (Except for Emily Flynn. To me, she was timid in book one and suddenly became a commanding—almost harsh—presence in book two.) However, the characters still underwent significant character development. For Kate, without her father hanging over her head, I believe she found herself. She still struggles with making connections, but she is a fierce yet less distanced person. August became more monster than human (he wasn’t even keeping track of his tallies!). He seemed numb to me as he attempted to be someone the people needed, but someone who wasn’t himself.

On that note, I was so amazed by Kate’s concern for August. The way that she pushed him to face himself made their relationship so much more powerful. I missed their witty banter, and wanted more scenes between the two. But I think exploring their friendship was one of the best parts of Our Dark Duet. As a result, I loved the evolution of August’s music, and the changes in August and he figured out his identity.

Besides the two stars of the novel, there were new characters introduced into the story. While Kate is in Prosperity, she reluctantly teamed up with a group of “hacktivists” called the Wardens. They are kids her age who find patterns of violence, which helped Kate discover and get rid of hidden monsters. I was sad Riley, Bea, Liam, Teo, and Malcolm weren’t more involved in the book after the first few chapters. I was hoping they would make some miraculous appearance in Verity.

Another new character was Alice. Kate’s distorted look-a-like monster is twisted. Strong, violent and determined, she goes after August, and eventually Kate.

The other new character was Soro. Soro is another Sunai, born from a suicide mission to kill Corsai after Harker fell and the monsters took over. Soro uses ungendered pronouns they/them/their! Despite the fact that Soro is a monster, not a human, I was still very happy to see gender-neutral representation in Our Dark Duet. I did think they were a little too serious. They were so convinced of their purpose to reap sinners, that I was intimidated by them. But they were a good soldier and a good addition to the Flynn family.

This is the final book and I felt some of the plot points were skimmed over. I was left with a few questions, like the creation of the Chaos Eater and a definition of Henry’s illness.

Also, the finale felt somewhat rushed. To me, the climax was in the final chapters. The only falling action came from the elegy with no resolution; it felt short. For all of the reveals in the end, I just felt numb…like I didn’t have time to process what was happening. The end was left open. Verity still had problems, just like real life where there aren’t always happy endings. To mimic August, the conclusion went out “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

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The Love Interest Review

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The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Synopsis: There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

About the Author: Cale Dietrich is a YA devotee, lifelong gamer, and tragic pop punk enthusiast. He was born in Perth, grew up on the Gold Coast, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. The Love Interest is his first novel.

Genre: young adult, romance, LGBTQIA+, adventure

More Info: hardcover, 384 pages, published by Feiwel & Friends on May 16, 2017

3.5

Young adults live in a mirrored, white-walled facility for many years and are trained to be successful, lifelong infiltrating spies. They are chosen based on an algorithm to match with subjects. Their purpose? Make the target fall in love with them and then spend the rest of their life spying on their mark.

When the main character is chosen for a last minute project, he becomes Caden: a blue-eyed, blond-haired, chiseled good boy. Although he doesn’t fully fit the good boy mold, Caden pretends to be the perfect student for the institute members, so that he can finally go into the outside world.

He is paired against Dylan: a tall, dark, and handsome bad boy. They connect instantly and end up spending nights together: drinking, talking, driving. They’d rather spend their time in the real world without excessive worry…until the fight for Juliet becomes very real, and one of them is about to die.

They’re both competing against each other for Juliet’s love and attention. Juliet is a girl genius who has the potential to make new advanced weaponry and technology. She lives her life like a normal teenager, going to high school and starting to fall for boys, except she has wealthy parents and her own lab.

When secrets are exposed, the trio must find a way to escape the endless watch of the Love Interest organization.

 

I loved the premise of the book. Two spies—the bad boy and the good boy—fight for the girl. One will win, one will die. But they fall for each other instead!

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It was a good read, but it fell short of the hype.

I think this book would have benefited from multiple point of views. I understand why it was kept to Caden only, to protect secret plot point and surprise the reader. However, I found Caden’s cold-hearted-ness hard to connect to. I didn’t establish any relationship with any of the characters. I had no idea what the other characters were thinking, which made it hard to understand context and links between them. When the characters state something through their mouth or in their mind, I’m like…really? Are you sure? Because I’m not. I have no idea what anyone is feeling or thinking.

This book was corny, clichéd and filled with YA tropes. In the meantime, it skipped over some of the developmental aspects, such as the boys’ transition from the facility to the real world. They’ve never even seen grass before, yet they seem to blend in seamlessly. Yes, they were taught pop-culture references, but seeing and doing are two different beasts entirely.

Caden’s “parents” were also an interesting turn. I thought that they would have more of a purpose than just being annoying dead-beats.

Also, I personally felt like this was two shortened books in one. I almost wish it was separated so that the second half of the book could have been expanded on. The first half was character based and the second, plot based; they were so separated that they felt disjointed. Part one seemed to go nowhere and part two went everywhere in too short a time. The finale felt rushed. And for me, there was no closure at the end in terms of the Love Interest organization. I thought, that was it?! What happened? Where was the fallback?

The book fell flat for me despite its incredible potential. I was somewhat disappointed with character development and plot devices. This book was entertaining, but it’s not in my top favorites.

Buy it here:

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