Book Review: Vampire Royals (Books 1-3) by Leigh Walker

About the Books:

Book 1: The Pageant

The Pageant (Vampire Royals #1)

Who’s the fairest of them all?
Young women from every settlement in the land are being handpicked to enter The Pageant, a beauty contest reminiscent of Miss Universe from the old days. Gwyneth West’s social-climbing mother wants her to compete, by Gwyn isn’t so sure…
The Pageant is government-sponsored. If you’re lucky enough to be chosen, participation is mandatory. Aggressive competition is allowed, even encouraged.

And then there’s the prize…
The winner of The Pageant gets a marriage proposal from Dallas Black, otherwise known as The Dark Prince. Dallas is the son of King Black, who won the last world war and now governs the new settlements. The Royal Family is mysterious. Rumor has it they don’t sleep. Rumor has it they eschew the sun.
Rumor has it they’re immortal.
When Gwyn is thrust into The Pageant, she fights to survive the competitive nature of the other contestants.
But even if wins…can she survive a vampire fiancé?

 

Book 2: The Gala

The Gala (Vampire Royals #2)

 

FOUR WEEKS. TWENTY CONTESTANTS. ONE PRINCE.

The Pageant is almost over, and Gwyneth West knows she can win—except the prince is a vampire, and some of the other contestants are turning out to be quite beastly.

What do you do when the person you love…might want to eat you alive?

Struggling to hold onto her position in the palace, Gwyn knows her vampire prince could slip through her fingers in an instant. And when human rebels threaten to storm the vampire royals once more, Gwyn finds herself caught between two worlds: her people, and the vampire she loves.

Leigh Walker writes action packed futuristic sci-fi, sweet romantic vampire novels, and stories that capture your heart and then make it race.

 

Book 3: The Finale

The Finale (Vampire Royals #3)

A ROYAL WEDDING IS COMING…BUT WHICH CONTESTANT WILL BE THE BRIDE?

Gwyneth West’s a finalist in The Pageant, the dating competition that’s gripping the settlements. Down to the final week, the dashing Prince Dallas Black will choose one young woman as his fiancé.
One small issue: Gwyneth’s a human and the prince is a vampire. What’s worse? Gwyneth’s family are sworn rebels, out to take back the settlements and overthrow the crown. What’s worse than that? Gwyn’s own rebel brother is a prisoner in the castle dungeons, but the king and queen don’t know his true identity.
Gwyneth and Dallas want to show the settlements that vampires and humans can live together in peace. But as their differences threaten to tear them apart, Gwyneth discovers her love puts the prince at risk.
How do you choose between love and duty?

 

My Thoughts:

This series is very similar to ‘The Selection’ series. However, there are some differences including the fact that the Prince and his family are Vampires. The author starts this off as rumors which are later shown as the truth. The concept of vampires and humans living side by side and co-existing is a strong idea that both the Prince and Gwyn, the heroine of the story, share. The story is indeed fun to read, following the very cliched concept of a competition to find the best suitor for the Prince. However, the idea behind this is to find a way to unite all the settlements and to bring peace while trying to keep the rebel groups at bay.

The synopsis of the story promises aggressive competition, but nothing about the story is aggressive. The story centers on the chemistry between the Prince and Gwyn, giving us only minor glimpses of the interactions with the other contestants. To keep in line with the contest, there are some sections of the story devoted to etiquette training and history of the kingdom and the settlements. However, there is not a lot of character development for the other girls in the story and this takes away from the main theme of the contest.

The story then continues into the two other books, focusing on the Prince’s interaction with the girls, bringing it down to the top four contestants and his relationship with his parents. Each girl is unique in her own way and it is wonderful to read about their rivalries but also about how they come together in the end. We are also provided some insight into Gwyn’s background and her family and her relationship with the King and Queen. The love and understanding that develops between her and the prince is beautiful to read about.

Overall, this series is fun and enjoyable especially for those who love the idea of vampires and human’s together, though there is not a lot of focus on the supernatural aspect of the characters. The books are short and easy to read. They can each be read in one sitting and are a good stress free read!

Book Review: Prism (The Color Alchemist #1) by Nina Walker

About the Book:

Prism (The Color Alchemist, #1)

What if color held the secrets to powerful magic?

Forced to move into the palace, Jessa begins training as a Color Alchemist under the direction of the kingdom’s most eligible bachelor, Prince Lucas. As an alchemist, Jessa must capture and harness the color of living things. Every color has a unique purpose, except red. Red is the untapped magic no one can access—until Jessa.

Prince Lucas is running out of time. His mother is deathly ill and healing magic hasn’t worked. When Lucas suspects someone is using alchemy to control her, he sets out to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

PRISM is the first installment of a unique young adult romantic fantasy series where a dystopian world with a Victorian flair meets the dynamic magic of color!

My Thoughts:

Prism by author Nina Walker introduces the reader to an intriguing concept of magic and magical abilities and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The story is well-written and fast paced, keeping the reader hooked until the very end.

We are introduced to Jessa, who accidently discovers that she is a color alchemist and tries to hide the truth from everyone. Once discovered, we come to know that she might be very powerful and is brought to the palace for training. The author introduces us to a dystopian world where the King rules the New Colony and a certain order is established. Anyone who shows an inclination towards Color Alchemy is brought to the Palace at a very young age and then undergoes rigorous training to join the Guardians of Color (GC).

Jessa faces a lot of push back from everyone at the palace including the other alchemists as she is already sixteen. It seems to be quite late for her to be here. There are many interesting characters including Sasha and Reed who are not easy to get a read on. The reader will not know what anyone’s intentions are until the very end. But, one thing is clear, Jessa is special and an asset to the King for whatever plan he has up his sleeve.

In addition, we are introduced to the Prince, who seems to have a different view of things than his father and is trying to find a way to save his mother who is quite ill. Add into the mix some chemistry between the two main characters and the author provides us with the perfect recipe for a book filled with magic, romance and a wonderfully new concept of magic drawn from colors!

The story will draw the reader in until the very end and is not without some well placed twists and turns. With everyone having their own agenda, what happens to the story and all the characters remains to be seen. This book is well worth the read and I am looking forward to finishing the series!

Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

About the Book:

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)

A dark and enchanting fantasy adventure perfect for girls who prefer their fairytales with a twist.

Every four years, two girls are kidnapped from the village of Gavaldon. Legend has it these lost children are sent to the School for Good and Evil, the fabled institution where they become fairytale heroes or villains.

Sophie, the most beautiful girl in town, has always dreamed of her place at the School for Good while her friend Agatha, with her dark disposition seems destined for the School for Evil. But when the two are kidnapped they find their fortunes reversed…

My Thoughts:

Author Soman Chainani brings us a very dark take on fairytales with several twists and turns. the story follows Sophie and Agatha as they are kidnapped and brought to the School for Good and Evil. If we go by cliches, one would expect Sophie to end up at the school for Good and Agatha at the school for Evil. But fate has a different plan and the two are swapped. Struggling to accept the situation, Agatha feels out of place as she never wanted to be here in the first place. Sophie on the other hand has always dreamed of going here and finds it difficult to settle down at the School for Evil.

As the story progresses, we follow the children through their days, getting trained to be either heroes or villains. The author brings in several twists and drops several hints as to why these girls are where they are at the school. The story is a little slow and at times the content is repetitive which made me slow down while reading.

However, at the end of the day it was a decent read and I did enjoy the premise of the story. I liked the idea that children are trained to be a certain way and then they eventually end up as characters from the fairytales we know so well and love. The climax is interesting and leads to many questions which lay down a good base for the next book.

All in all, give this book a shot! It will take you on a rather enchanting journey!

Book Review: Project Hackathon (Coding Supergirls Book 1) by Arushi Aggarwal

I am grateful to Arushi Aggarwal for reaching out to me for a review of her new release. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Curii is creative. Pia is passionate. Ina is imaginative. Together, they solve real world problems using their programming skills – developing powerful, disruptive, and cutting-edge ideas along the way. Follow these Supergirls who code on their first journey as they navigate the world of hackathons. Can they crack the code? Persistence brings knowledge.

Aggarwal combines education and adventure in her innovative “Coding Supergirls” series. She hopes to inspire the students in STEM she’s supporting by showing the numerous coding related opportunities available. After many parents and students were confused about her own hackathon, Code 4 Cause, she also aims to clarify the event’s important purpose – empowering students in tech.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Connect with the author:

Unknown16.com/codingsupergirls

http://twitter.com/dounknown16

https://www.facebook.com/dounknown16

My Thoughts:

This is a very short and pleasant read detailing the experience of three girls as they attend their first hackathon. Right from trying to understand what it is, to how to prepare for it and finally attending it, we are given all the steps. Arushi undoubtedly draws from her personal experience as the story progresses. I particularly like how she modelled her characters and gave us their descriptions, drawing on different aspects of interests and curiosity.

The story aims to bring about an awareness of coding and the world of opportunities it opens up. Through the hackathon experience, we observe as creativity, art, design, coding skills and a whole other set of skills come together in and idea for an application.

The illustrations in the book compliment some parts of the story and are very well done. Arushi has done a great job in taking us through the steps involved in the hackathon through which our protagonists make news friends, gain confidence in themselves, venture into new areas and learn to think out of the box.

I strongly recommend this book for everyone but mainly middle school children! This book would serve as a source of inspiration!

 

 

Book Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

My Thoughts:

The Beautiful has to be one of the most talked about books! I was quite intrigued by the book cover and premise that I had to pick it up! It is a dark and sultry romance with murder, mystery and thrills all thrown into the mix!

At first, it took some time to get into the book and understand the context and setting. We are introduced to Celine, our main protagonist, a very strong-willed woman who keeps her own council and is not afraid to speak up. At first we see her struggling to conform to the rules of the convent where she has been taken in in New Orleans, having fled from Paris. However, she catches the eye of first Odette and then Sèbastien Saint Germain, all part of a group simply known as Le Cour des Lions. Little does she know that she has stepped into a completely different world, shrouded in darkness and surrounded by the dead, quite literally!

A very well written tale, the setting of New Orleans is very well described, especially the streets and nightlife. The characters are intriguing and well developed. At times, I must admit to getting a little annoyed with Celine, but it was not enough to pull me away from the book. As we are introduced to the creatures of the underworld and Celine starts to discover the existence of the paranormal, a series of murders leads to questions of motive and who the real target is. Not to be left out, Celine tries to conduct her own investigation having the feeling that she is indeed a target.

The developing romance between Celine and Sèbastien is both natural and forbidden and is interesting to see develop. The courtship (a suitable word for the time in which the story is set) is not without it’s problems and when murder and mayhem are thrown into the mix, we have all the ingredients for an entertaining story! The story is a roller-coaster of a ride as we navigate the sub-plots and various supporting characters who add such flavor to the story!

Though there were some ups and downs with the story, it is definitely worth the read!

Book Review: Thorne Bay (An Alaskan Packs Novel Book 1) by Jeanine Croft

I downloaded a free auto approved copy of this book via NetGalley.

I picked it up based on the synopsis which seemed quite interesting. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Thorne Bay (An Alaskan Packs Novel Book 1)

Disillusioned and aimless, Evan Spencer makes a pact with herself. To follow wherever the finger of destiny points. Even if that means heading to some obscure Alaskan town she’s never heard of. A place where the primal beauty of the backwoods is rivaled only by a certain pair of steely green eyes.

But Thorne Bay has a dark side. It’s not just rumors and wary gazes that shadow the darkly alluring Tristan and his reclusive family. Her search for self, as it turns out, leads to a discovery of werewolves and a fight for survival. Alaska might just leave an indelible mark. Love and Death will leave her changed forever.

My Thoughts:

The story follows Evan Spencer as she makes a drastic move to try to follow her destiny and find her place in the world. She moves away from her family to Alaska in the hopes of finding herself and her independence. On the way we meet Tristan who is extremely good-looking, but shrouded in mystery along with his family. Not bothered by rumors, or perhaps eager to discover the truth by herself, Evan forges a friendship with Tristan that seems to be more than that. As their bond develops, we meet some of the people Evan works with and some of the people from Tristan’s family.

The author maintains a level of intrigue around Tristan and drops enough hints without directly giving way to the idea of werewolves. Though the main characters are well developed, some of the supporting characters like Nicole and Dean are just touched upon. It would have been nice to have some more background on them, some insights into their lives before Evan turned up in Alaska and this entire plot line was set in motion. Some horrors of the werewolf world and the laws that govern their existence are brought in and this adds context, but could have been addressed in-depth to add to the storyline.

Some parts of the story are quite normal and expected and the love story that develops between our two main characters is wonderful to read about. I enjoyed the way the author approached the supernatural and the punny banter between Evan and Tristan.

Overall however, I would say that this is definitely an enjoyable and worthwhile read!

Book Review: Summer at Hope Haven (Dune Island #1) by Kristin Harper

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and Bookouture. Read on to know my thoughts on the book.

About the Book:

Summer at Hope Haven (Dune Island #1)

Making her way up the cedar-lined driveway, tears fill her eyes at the sight of the cottage’s faded trim and peeling turquoise shutters. Taking a deep breath, she grasps the heart-shaped iron door handle and steps inside the once-happy childhood home she’s been avoiding. It is time to face up to the past…

When Emily’s fiancé walks out on her while she’s still grieving the loss of her family in a terrible accident, she escapes back to Hope Haven on the remote Dune Island, where her family vacationed every summer. Emily hopes that fixing up the house will also mend her broken heart, but the cottage holds more than just bittersweet childhood memories. Emptying her father’s antique writing desk, Emily finds a letter that reveals a devastating secret about her parents.

With a head full of questions that can never be answered, it seems like returning to the island was the worst decision Emily ever made… until she meets Lucas Socorro, saltwater dripping from his dark curls after a surf session. As they take long walks on the soft sand, and talk late into the firefly-lit night, Emily wonders if Dr Luke—as the kids in the hospital call him—could be the one to help her heal. With Luke holding her hand, delving into her family’s painful past is a little easier.

Painting the gloomy cottage walls the colour of seashells, and revamping her grandmother’s flea-market furniture, Emily starts to feel she might call Dune Island home for good—and that she could build that home right here with Luke. But when Emily’s family secret spreads through a network of local gossips, her fragile heart breaks all over again. Luke is the only one who could have started the rumours. Was she wrong to trust him so easily?

As the sun sets behind the dunes, Emily has a difficult decision to make. Does she pack her bags and leave the island for good? Or take a risk that Hope Haven has everything she’s been looking for?

A beautiful and emotional read that will make you long to feel the sand beneath your feet. Perfect for fans of Nancy Thayer, Tracy Brogan and Mary Alice Monroe.

My Thoughts:

The book introduces us to Emily, the main protagonist dealing with the loss of her family in a terrible accident and a broken engagement. To get away, Emily comes down to Hope Haven, to stay at the house her family vacationed at every summer. Surrounded by many memories and in the midst of discovering new secrets about her parents, Emily is once again shattered as she struggles to reconcile the knowledge she has of her parents and the new information she finds. In the midst of all this, she leans on her bonds with her childhood friend and his wife while trying to forge new with Lucas Socorro, a doctor at the hospital and the people at Dune Island.

As the story progresses, the reader is thrown into the midst of Emily’s emotional turmoil as she struggles to cope. The story is well-written and is filled with some very well crafted characters. They are endearing and relatable and fun to read about. The setting is beautiful and while our characters take long strolls along the beach, it is easy for the reader to imagine themselves doing the same thing.

The story is quite enjoyable and as Emily becomes stronger and accepts her life, the secrets, the people at Dune Island, she also starts to consider opening herself up to love. This is a great read for all the romance fans out there!

Book Review: Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match #1) by Rachael Anderson

About the Book:

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, #1)

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

My Thoughts:

After keeping this book on my to read list for a very long time (at least 5 years), I finally got around to reading it! It is a fun and simple story filled with a lot of entertaining moments. Prejudice meets Pride follows Emma as she moves to Colorado Springs having just taken custody of her two nieces. Learning to be a parent to them, she welcomes the help of her neighbours except for that of Kevin Grantham. What ensues is a clashing of wills as Emma tries to prove that she can handle things by herself and that she can be independent, while Kevin tries to be a gentleman and help out this confusing woman.

A typical clash between two stubborn people, sows seeds of romance as Emma grudgingly learns to trust Kevin and accept his presence while he learns to accept someone who stands up to him and has a mind of their own. Emma needs to learn to trust and Kevin is the person to teach her that. As the story progresses, it is one disaster after another until the two main characters just learn to accept that they need to work together and just maybe love is in the air!

This is a lovely book of self-discovery, family, parenting and of finding love in the most unlikely of places and in the unlikeliest person. This is a wonderfully light read and the characters are delightful though a little unrealistic at times. But sometimes, all a reader wants is a perfect ending and happiness! This story delivers it all!

Book Review: The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White

I would like to stress that the below review reflects my honest opinion.

 

About the Book:

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

*THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*

My Thoughts:

The Guinevere Deception, Book 1 in the Camelot Rising series, is a re-telling of the famous King Arthur story from Guinevere’s point of view. However, this is a story with a twist. Here, the focus is on the heroine, but the story is placed at a time when all magic has been driven out of Camelot and Merlin is no longer present. Arthur sits on the throne, but needs to wed and produce an heir to ensure that his line continues. In this version of the story, Guinevere is not who she claims to be, but is sent to Camelot under the guise to protect Arthur.

The story is rife with attempts on Arthur’s life and we get a glimpse into the his past and a little of the actual legend behind his sword, Excaliber. There is a lot going on, but the character of Guinevere did not grow on me. In fact she quite annoyed me sometimes with the way she thinks and whines. She is not as strong as I expected and not very charismatic. In fact she seems to cause more problems than prevent them. The bond between the principal characters is good, but could have been developed more. Even though the plot is deep, it always seems to be missing something and there are moments when the reader is just spending time wondering where the story is going.

I particularly enjoyed the jousts and the mystery surrounding Lancelot. Though the mystery was unnecessarily dragged on, it was quite interesting to read about the author’s idea of the characters and her versions of them. On the whole the re-telling was interesting, it cannot be right or wrong as it is a point of view, but it seemed to drag on and I am not sure where this will take us in the books to come. I did enjoy some parts of it and I would recommend this book for those who want to try out a re-telling.

Book Review: Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown #1) by Ava Richardson

I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley! Read on to know my honest opinion of the book!

About the Book:

Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown, #1)

One crown can unite them—or destroy them all.

The three kingdoms lie splintered, their aging dragon riders content with stories of glorious battle victories. But a new evil creeps across the land. Inyene, a powerful noblewoman of the Northern Kingdom, plunders valuable resources to power mechanical dragons in her quest to gain a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. From there she will ascend the High Throne, once again uniting the realms under a single crown.

For the wearer of the Stone Crown can wield unlimited power—if it can be found.

Narissea has spent a quarter of her sixteen years slaving away in the mines, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. When word reaches her of the horrors assailing her village, Narissea knows she must act despite the risk. Already her arm is scarred with four brands signifying previous escape attempts. If she’s unsuccessful in her fifth, it will mean death.

But her life forever changes when she stumbles upon an injured dragon, discovers an ancient shrine, and learns the true purpose behind Lady Inyene’s mechanical abominations.

Now, Narissea has only one choice: gain Inyene’s trust and find a way to thwart her plans, even if it means sacrificing that which she desires most of all.

Her freedom.

This book contains violence.

My Thoughts:

Dragon Connection is the first book in the Stone Crown series by author Ava Richardson. It is a well-written, fast paced, YA fantasy fiction novel that follows the life of Narissea as she navigates the mines as a slave and later embarks on a journey to find the Stone Crown. Nari is a strong willed girl, set to work in the mines as a slave along with many of her people, trapped into this situation based on falsified debts that are owed to Lady Inyene.

I particularly enjoyed how the author does not waste time building up the story, but throws the reader right into the middle of it. The author later on takes her time to explain some of the setting and give us a sense of the background of the people and the reason for their current predicament. Most of the things that happen in this book come as a pleasant surprise though some parts are a little predictable.

With a strong desire to thwart Lady Inyene’s plans, Nari embarks on a journey that involves an injured dragon, the Lady’s brother and a mage. Add to this mix some magic and we have the perfect recipe for an enjoyable read! I truly cannot wait to pick up the next book and find out what happens!