Book Review: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts:

Legendary is the second book in the series and follows the story just after Caraval has finished. In fact, it is wonderful that this story takes up from the next day! The story follows Donatella, the younger sister as she moves forward from one Caraval game to the next. In the first, she was just a prop while her older sister Scarlett had to play to find her. Moving on from this, the two sisters are free and can try to start their lives again, but Tella has a debt to pay. As the magic and adventure unravel, the reader is once again drawn into the depths of a story where nothing is at it seems or maybe, for once, everything is as real as it seems.

Is it just a game or is it reality? These questions plague not only the characters in the book, but also the reader. The journey to discover Caraval Master Legend’s true name is also a journey of bravery, and love. Tella has many choices to make, even though her path seems clear and in the end, she has to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ones that she loves.

Though Legendary is very well-written and a wonderful sequel, it is not as thrilling as the first book. It is a little slower with more focus on the characters and their identities. We meet a lot of new characters as well and are introduced to the sisters’ past, their family and learn many  truths about many of the people! As Scarlett struggles to find her footing between the one she loves and the one she was arranged to be married to, Tella navigates the game of Caraval again trying to find the answers she seeks. The characters are compelling, you’ll love some, you’ll hate some and there are those that fall in between.

The story is definitely worth the read and the hype and is a fitting sequel to the first, clearing up many things and giving the reader much more in the form of love and friendship. The cliffhanger at the end leaves us wanting for more and will definitely force the reader to pick up the third and final book in the series, Finale!

 

Book Review: Inebriated by Katey Taylor

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Xpresso Book Tours as a part of the Blog tour for this book. Unfortunately I was not able to read and review this book in time for the Blog tour. So read on to know my thoughts!

About the Book:

Inebriated

Barely seventeen and as pretty as can be: the summer is their playground. Cait and her best friends Steph and Allie take on San Francisco’s party scene with fake IDs and short dresses.

When Cait meets Adrien Cross, the charismatic lead singer of her favorite indie band, she’s introduced to a hedonistic world of liquor and lust that she never wants to leave.

But then that world spirals out of control and the harsh realities of reckless living take a toll on Cait and the ones she loves.
What will be left when the makeup masks wash off, the bottles are empty, and Cait begins to lose her grip on everything?

Katey Taylor’s heart-wrenching debut novel will have you strapped into the intense rollercoaster ride of Cait’s life and one chaotic summer that will change it all.

My Thoughts:

Review : 3 stars

Note: This story has many incidents that could act as triggers. So be careful while picking it up to read.

Inebriated follows the life of Cait and her best friends as they tackle their summer holidays with partying and romance. The story is a typical one with teenagers trying to have fun and enjoy themselves. It is predictable for the most part, but there are a few unexpected twists. I like the way the author has described and handled the friendship between the girls. It is quite beautiful. It also helped to understand their backgrounds and the reason behind the bonds they had. Their acceptance of each other and the way they looked at the world is well written. The characters are not wholly relatable. It was not easy to empathize with them completely nor to understand some of the reasons behind their actions.

Some parts of the story just seemed abrupt and the entire focus of the story was on partying and drugs. Cait is focused on trying to handle her relationship with Adrien Cross, lead singer of her favorite indie band. While their relationship is intense, it pulls her away from focusing on her friends and their lives. This leads to so many consequences as she tries to navigate a world of sudden and intense love, family ties and breaking bonds. When tragedy strikes, noone is even close to ready for it and the author handles the emotions in this part of the story very well.

An overall intensely emotional read, even though I did not fully enjoy the book, the parts that I did, prompt me to recommend it!

Book Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

About the Book:

The View from Alameda Island

#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr delivers a poignant and powerful story about how one woman’s best intentions lead to the worst of situations and how the power of love helps her to heal and ultimately triumph.

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.

My Thoughts:

The View from Alameda Island is a simple enough story with a straight-forward and slightly predictable plot but that tugs at the heart-strings and will make the reader stop to think. The story follows the life of Lauren Delaney as she navigates her seemingly perfect life. To the world outside, everything is perfect, but, only she knows how broken she feels inside. However, there is only so much a person can handle and after a point, they just snap. It is common and normal that every human being wants to be happy. So it is normal that Lauren is also looking for the same.

The author does a great job in working on her character sketches and bringing them to life in this book. The story focuses on the concept of self love, and the idea that at some point every person should take decisions that ultimately make them happy. This is the turning point in Lauren’s life when she decides that she wants a divorce and to get away from the darkness that has lurked behind the scenes during her twenty four years of marriage. This decision, though not taken easily, doesn’t sit well with her husband and thus ensues a struggle to get away and move on, in-spite of her husband who tries to win her back and refuses to let go.

The story is well-written and focuses on Lauren’s fight for the happiness that she deserves as she finds the strength to trust and love again! This is definitely worth a read and can be finished in one sitting!

Book Review: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

About the Book:

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

From the bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret comes a compelling story where nothing is as simple as it seems.

Seventy-three years have passed since sisters Rose and Connie Doughty found an abandoned baby in the only other house on their little island, Scribbly Gum. And since then the ‘Munro Baby Mystery’ has brought them fame and fortune.

But now, with Connie dead and newcomer Sophie Honeywell inheriting her home, and everyone around them tirelessly trying to solve the mystery, Rose begins to wonder if they made the right decision all those years ago. How much longer they can cover up the truth behind the mystery that has sustained their community for four generations? And what other secrets might be revealed?

My Thoughts:

The Last Anniversary is a compelling read! It follows Sophie as she comes to the little island of Scribbly Gum, having inherited a house. We meet Rose Doughty, alone after her sister, Connie dies and Enigma. We also meet many other wonderful ladies. The beauty of this book is that the author introduces us to a variety of people, each with their own quirks, worries and secrets. The author ensures that we will connect with some of them and if not, at least come to understand and appreciate them.

Most of the story revolves around the house and the ‘Munro Baby Mystery’. The truth behind this mystery is the secret that sisters Connie and Rose have kept together for more than seventy years! Having maintained the story and kept the secret for more than four generations, Rose starts to wonder whether it is time to reveal the truth, especially now that Connie has passed. Sophie, moving away from heartbreak and needing a fresh start, finds her place among these strong women, lending a shoulder, sharing a kind word and basically adding some color to the ensemble. I was quite intrigued by Grace and Veronika’s characters as well as Margie.

The author has paid strong attention to details while handling the mystery as well as the characters and this makes the story that much more enjoyable. I strongly recommend this book and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as I did!

Book Review: House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

This latest book by Sarah J. Maas has been the talk of the town everywhere! It is literally everywhere! It’s amazing.

Note: The review may have a few spoilers. Be careful when you read it.

Read on to know my thoughts on the book!

About the Book:

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savoring every pleasure Lunathion-otherwise known as Crescent City-has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city-and Bryce’s world.

Two years later, her job has become a dead end, and she now seeks only blissful oblivion in the city’s most notorious nightclubs. But when the murderer attacks again, Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation and paired with an infamous Fallen angel whose own brutal past haunts his every step.

Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye-and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case.

As Bryce and Hunt race to untangle the mystery, they have no way of knowing the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the darkest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir…

With unforgettable characters and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom-and the power of love.

My Thoughts:

Review: 3.5 Stars

House of Earth and Blood is a well-written, fast paced story that has it’s ups and downs. The book started off slowly and abruptly, making it difficult for me to understand the context setting and the initial character introductions. However, as the story progresses, the plot becomes stronger and more interesting. The story becomes gripping and is a wild roller-coaster until the very end. The author ensures that the readers attention is on the book and nowhere else!

Most of the characters are well crafted and interesting. However, I was not very impressed with Bryce, the main protagonist of the story. She is not as relatable as I had hoped, but all in all, she holds her own well in the story. Being half-fae, she is under the protection of the Fae community, but that is where it ends. On her own with her best friends, living away from her loving mother and step-father, anyone will assume that she is enjoying her life. But when tragedy strikes, it all comes undone.

As Bryce is pulled in to investigate her best friends death, the possibility of suicide, then murder all lurk about. Bryce has to sort out the facts and separate the truth from the lies. Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, is forced to step in protect Bryce, while working with her to solve the case. What ensues is a battle of wits and an underlying attraction which the two characters fight. With a lot of secrets being kept, it is not easy to find out the truth.

I did come to love a lot of the supporting characters, Bryce’s best friend Fury, shrouded in mystery. Her step-brother, the Fae prince whom a lot of readers will come to love. His is a very well developed character. I also liked the other Archangels both good and bad. The author brings out a colorful variety in the nature of characters introduced.

One message which is persistent throughout the book is the meaning of friendship and loyalty. The author also shows us the true power of love above all else. The story, even though a little slow at first, was truly a wonderful read! I thoroughly enjoyed the action and appreciate the way the characters find their way in the end! Even Bryce and Hunt grow on you in the end and the reader just has to accept them since they bring the story together!

This book is definetely a must read, especially for fans of Fantasy Fiction and of Sarah J. Maas.

Book Review: Before You Go by Kelly Heard

About the Book:

Before You Go

The bond between a mother and daughter is meant to be unbreakable. What happens when it shatters?

Western Virginia, 1979. Dell Shaw knows the relationship between a mother and daughter should be something warm, soft and safe. But her relationship with her former beauty queen mother, Anita, has never been like that. And then one day, Anita packs up and leaves home, abandoning Dell to look after her alcoholic father and grow up alone.

When Dell meets handsome Mason, who has his own scars, she begins to think she can build a new, happy family with him. A year later, she’s shocked to find herself heartbroken and alone with a new-born baby girl and only her mother to turn to. When Anita refuses help and instead arranges for the local church to take the baby away, Dell knows she won’t ever speak to her mother again.

But all that changes on the day Dell discovers her daughter is missing.

Anita knows where the child might be. There’s only one problem—Anita is in a coma, fighting for her life. As Dell divides her time between her mother’s bedside and searching for her daughter, she finds herself discovering new things about her past that make her wonder if she can forgive her mother after all. But will she be able to reconcile with her mother and find her daughter before time runs out?

An unforgettable and heart-wrenching debut about the endurance of love, the power of forgiveness, and finding beauty in the world around us. Your must-read book of 2019. Perfect for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, Kristin Hannah and Kerry Lonsdale.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of the book was quite intriguing and this promoted me to pick it up. The story follows Dell, a fortune teller as she navigates her way through her present while trying to run from her past. Dell has moved away from Blyth, away from family and friends and away from her new born baby.

The author introduces us to a variety of characters as the story progresses. However, as the plot develops, there is little to no development on the fact that Dell is a fortune teller. This just seems to be a minor reference which exists until Dell goes back to Blyth. Dell races against time to try to find her daughter and spend time with her mother who is now in a coma and may be the only person who knows where her daughter is. The plot itself becomes quite predictable as the story progresses, and even though this story does bring out the importance of forgiveness and love, it becomes difficult to follow after a point. The characters are nice but unremarkable, and not very easy to relate to. The story plows ahead with no major twists or turns and is easy to follow.

The book did not engage me as much as I had hoped, but it is still a decent read! Fans of romance will enjoy this book!

Book Review: Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was offered a chance to review this book via Lake Union Publishing and thus received a copy via NetGalley. I had planned to finish reading the book before it’s release in early December, but due to my busy work schedules, I have not been able to devote a lot of time to my book reviews.

Nevertheless, I managed to read this wonderful book, and you can read my review below.

About the Book:

Just After Midnight

From the New York Times bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes an uplifting and poignant novel about friendship, trust, and facing your fears.

No longer tolerating her husband’s borderline abuse, Faith escapes to her parents’ California beach house to plan her next move. She never dreamed her new chapter would involve befriending Sarah, a fourteen-year-old on the run from her father and reeling from her mother’s sudden and suspicious death.

While Sarah’s grandmother scrambles to get custody, Faith is charged with spiriting the girl away on a journey that will restore her hope: Sarah implores Faith to take her to Falkner’s Midnight Sun, the prized black mare that her father sold out from under her. Sarah shares an unbreakable bond with Midnight and can’t bear to be apart from her. Throughout the sweltering summer, as they follow Midnight from show to show, Sarah comes to terms with what she witnessed on the terrible night her mother died.

But the journey is far from over. Faith must learn the value of trusting her instincts—and realize that the key to her future, and Sarah’s, is in her hands.

My Thoughts:

Just After Midnight tells us the story of two women, one who is running away from an abusive marriage and the other of a fourteen year old girl, running away from her father. The story follows their journey from when they meet, showing us how a bond forms between them and how they lean on each other to sort through all their emotions. This story follows Faith and Sarah as they go on a journey together. Faith is charged with taking care of Sarah by her grandmother who is fighting for custody of the child. Sarah’s mother is dead and she is on the run from her father. While spending time with each other, Faith learns to trust again thanks to Sarah and Sarah learns to open up and enjoy as a child again.

The two main protagonists go on a journey to find Sarah’s prized black mare, with whom Sarah shares a very strong bond. As they find their way there, the journey turns into one of self discovery and understanding of the other. They are forced to navigate through the layers of their emotions and slowly, Sarah reveals the truth behind her mother’s death and what she witnessed. With the bond between these two stronger than ever, Faith reaches the point where she chooses to stand up to her husband as well as defend and protect Sarah.

A very well-written story, this book will take the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Be prepared to be amazed at the bond Faith shares with her horse, the love, care and mutual adoration. The author has beautifully described this bond and this will make the reader love the characters even more. They are real, believable and relatable. The problems they face and the hurdles they encounter will pull you in and keep you there until the very end.

This griping novel is well worth the read!

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

About the Book:

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (The Cursebreaker Series)

Find the heir, win the crown.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Harper has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well; rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.

Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted …

My Thoughts:

Brigid Kemmerer brings to us a well-written, action-packed sequel that follows Grey’s journey as he deals with the truth about who he is. All secrets come to light at some point, and it is the same in this story. When the truth about Grey comes to light, he is seen as a threat to the kingdom. Rhen, now freed from the curse is not ready to see reason or understand. All he sees is betrayal.

The author weaves together a rather complicated set of emotions spread among all the chaaracters, all layered one on top of the other. To get to them, we have to peel back each layer and deal with what is revealed. With so many rumours about Harper and the rival heir about, Rhen is at his wits end to keep everything together. This story mainly focuses on Grey’s journey, his actions and decisions and his interaction with the enemy princess and kingdom. We see how he grows, how he learns to become a prince in his own right and how he interacts with the people around him. There is a stark contrast to Grey’s personality and Rhen’s which is beautifully brought out in this book.

This story is a wonderful sequel to the first, showing us a different aspect of the plot and story and culminating in a cliff hanger, leaving the reader wanting for more! I am sure that every cursebreaker is impatiently waiting for the next book to know what happens!

Book Review: Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan

About the Book:

Blood Song (Raven's Shadow, #1)

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

My Thoughts:

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a friend. I must admit that I was completely blown away.

The story is spell-binding and very well-written, a tale like no other. It begins with a present day account of the goings-on. We are introduced to the main protagonist, Vaelin Al Sorna, who is being taken to the Meldenean Islands as a prisoner. After this account, we are given a glimpse into his childhood and how he came to be a brother of the Sixth Order. This is followed by the story divided into parts, with each part telling the tale of a specific plot line. The reader is introduced to a myriad of characters, a Realm known to follow the Faith and those who do not and the King of the Realm. The characters are interesting, very well crafted and play vital roles in this story.

At the beginning, the story was a little confusing and difficult to follow, but on continuing on, the plot slowly became clearer and clearer. The author tells us tales of war, of power and of plans that seem to be so intricately woven, that noone can understand them. Something is at play in the shadows and not even the reader is privy to what it is. The author handles this intricate plot very well, revealing just enough information to ensure that the book is a page turner until the end. Be prepared to deal with the gore of the battles as they are brutal and the author does a lot of justice with his descriptions.

This is just the first book in the series following Vaelin as he plows through the Tests of the Order, a place that trains and brings up assassins, deals with the battles, all the while trying to understand what his true purpose is. Some of it is indeed revealed in this book, but only enough to ensure that the reader is left hungry for more. With such a strong plot line, I cannot wait to see where the story goes in the next books!

This is definitely a must-read for fans of fantasy fiction!

Book Review: The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski

About the Book:

A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.

About the Author:

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/borstinski

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LeoBorstinski

Website: http://www.leopoldborstinski.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B071ZZXZMR?_encoding=UTF8&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true&ref=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000&rfkd=1&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bowery-Slugger-Alex-Cohen-Book-ebook/dp/B07X7HC4L2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1572945986&sr=8-1

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Bowery-Slugger-Alex-Cohen-Book-ebook/dp/B07X7HC4L2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+bowery+slugger&qid=1572946119&sr=8-1

Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=7L2vDwAAQBAJ&rdid=book-7L2vDwAAQBAJ&rdot=1&source=gbs_vpt_read&pcampaignid=books_booksearch_viewport

NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bowery-slugger-leopold-borstinski/1133282419

My Thoughts:

The Bowery Slugger follows the life of Alex as he steps off a boat and onto American soil. This is a well-written story set during the onset of World War I, bringing the reader to a small part of the world and it’s inhabitants. Alex, in his teenage years, is smart and ruthless, grabbing opportunities and finding his way forward. We are introduced to the Jewish New York mob and how it is run. We meet some very interesting people who add different views and dimensions to this story.

The story is fast paced and at some points is quite graphic and gruesome. However, the author handles the plot quite well and the reader is pulled in the midst of family drama, power struggles, trust and status. The characters are well crafted and fit into the historical setting of this first book. The period and setting is so well described that it is easy for us as the readers to imagine it all in our minds.

Though slow at the beginning, the story picks up speed and pushes forward to an interesting climax. There is indeed some romance brought into the mix, but it takes a back seat most of the time. This story arc shows the reader a contrast in character thinking and brings into focus the skills of the main protagonist. As Alex starts to consider a move from his profession for the sake of love, he starts to wonder at his skill set and whether he is cut out for a world away from crime and the mob.

The plot is elaborately crafted and the reader takes a journey through the hierarchy of people and how the system works. There is a weird sense of justice about the job Alex holds inspite of the violence. there is a sense of honor.

The Bowery Slugger, an apt title for Alex in my opinion, is well worth a read!