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Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga Blog Tour | Review, Fav Quotes, & Giveaway!

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga Blog Tour | Review, Fav Quotes, & Giveaway!Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga
Published by Entangled Teen on July 3, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.

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My thoughts

Kiss of the Royal surprised me. At first the book’s cover and description didn’t grab me, so I passed over it. I’m so glad I ended up going back for a second glance, because it turned out to be one of my favorite 2018 reads!

Goblins and griffins and wraiths oh my! Kiss of the Royal had a great, new magical setting, with a lot of evil creatures, new forms of magic (I.E. magical kisses), and original mythology.

A world that I wouldn’t want to live in. Ivy’s been conditioned into thinking that love doesn’t exist, only lust. She and the rest of the population are expected to produce children with specific people, at specific times, in order to breed the best and strongest soldiers. Kiss of the Royal reminded me of the The Handmaid’s Tale, because of the disturbing, oppresive society that controlled procreation.

Zach stole my heart. He’s not only goofy (knocking things over), and hilarious (constantly cracking jokes), he’s also incredibly passionate. He believes in true love and marriage, two things that are outlawed in his world. Even though being a romantic and preaching about it, can lead to a death sentence, Zach doesn’t hide who he is and what he believes in. I was scared and impressed by his refusal to back down.

Digestion problems. The one issue I had with Kiss of the Royal, was the info dump that happened in the beginning of the book. Instead of a slow introduction, we’re tossed headfirst into Ivy’s world, expected to easily grasp how it works, the creatures, magic, laws, and mythology.  It took about 50 pages before I was able to smoothly follow along. I’m so  glad I stuck it out too, because this book was worth it.

I’m still hungry. I was devastated when I realized this was a standalone book. Even though the story wrapped up nicely, I can’t help but crave more Ivy and Zach, one of my favorite 2018 couples.

Magic spells, sword fights, terrifying creatures, lots of romantic swoon – this book has it all! 


A few of my favorite quotes

An icy ball of fear weighed in my gut. It was so cold I thought it would freeze my insides. But at the same time, something much more powerful burned inside me. In my chest, melting that block of ice, were flames fueled by anger and passion.

Logically, I knew it was a good plan, but it didn’t feel like an evaluation or a test. It felt like a competition for me. And I didn’t like being viewed as a prize to be won.

Isn’t the irony hilarious? The girl I love begging me to kiss her everyday, and I have to refuse. And I have to. Not just for my own beliefs and this golden theory, but for my own sanity. Because a kiss would mean nothing to you, while it meant everything to me.


About the author

Lindsey Duga is a middle grade and young adult writer with a passion for fantasy, science fiction, and basically any genre that takes you away from the real world. She wrote her first novel in college while she was getting her bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University.

Other than writing and cuddling with her morkie puppy, Delphi, Lindsey loves catching up on the latest superhero TV show and practicing yoga.


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four-half-stars
Dumplin

Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller Blog Tour | Review & Giveaway!

Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller Blog Tour | Review & Giveaway!Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller
on June 26, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

Dessa Rhodes is a modern day nomad. Her family travels in an RV, their lives defined by state lines, exit signs, and the small communal caravan they call home. Among them is Cyrus, her best friend and long-time crush, whom she knows she can never be with. When your families are perpetually linked, it’s too dangerous to take a risk on romance.

Instead, Dessa looks to the future. She wants to be a real artist and going to art school is her ticket to success and a new life. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t been accepted…anywhere. Suddenly her future is wide open, and it looks like she’s going to be stuck traveling forever.

Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself: an internship working with a local artist in Santa Fe. Dessa struggles to prove to her boss—and herself—that she belongs there, but just as she finally hits her stride, her family suffers an unexpected blow. Faced with losing everything that she has worked for, Dessa has a difficult decision to make. Will she say goodbye to her nomadic lifestyle and the boy she loves? Or will she choose to never stop moving?

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My thoughts

A distinctive setting. Dessa and her family are modern day nomads. For the last five years they’ve traveled around the US in a tiny RV with a small caravan of other families. I’ve never traveled cross-country. Heck, I’ve never even traveled more than 6 hours in either direction of my house. So I had a hard time imagining what it would be like to constantly travel, never settling down in one place for more than a few weeks. Your Destination Is on the Left helped me gain a better understanding of what constant life on the road looks and feels like.

A relatable heroine. Dessa has many fears and struggles with low self-esteem. She’s passionate about art, but is too afraid to really express herself through it, because she doesn’t think what she creates is good enough. I think most, if not all of us, have been able to relate to Dessa in some way at some point. I’ve definitely missed out on good opportunities in the past, because I let my fears get the best of me and hold me back.

Not the greatest romance. I adore love stories that feature best friends slowly realizing their feelings run deeper for one another. Those relationships are slow-burning, and usually end up being so worth the wait, therefore I started Your Destination Is on the Left with huge romance expectations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand Dessa and Cyrus together, because I really disliked Cyrus. He was selfish, vindictive, and not very supportive of what Dessa wanted to do with her life. Thankfully their romance wasn’t the main focus of the story.

Can we have a companion novel? Pretty please ♥ This book unsurprisingly ended on a bittersweet note. I would really love a companion novel or novella someday. One that takes place a couple years later, showing us where Dessa’s path led after the big decision she made in Your Destination is on the Left. I’m not going to hold my breath.. but a girl can dream right?!!


A few of my favorite quotes

That’s the irony of living in a mobile home. You can travel anywhere you want, but as soon as you need space, there’s nowhere to go. 

Maybe it’s time to try being the laid-back traveler kid my parents always wanted me to be, instead of an uptight artist with a freaking pipe dream.

I was happy before, but it isn’t until now, with his arms around me, that I feel so completely alive.



About the author

    

Lauren Spieller is a literary agent who lives in New York with her husband. When she isn’t writing, she can be found drinking lattes, pining for every dog she sees, or visiting her native California. YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @laurenspieller.


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four-stars
Dumplin

Love Me, Love Me Not by S.M. Koz |Blog Tour| Review & Giveaway

Love Me, Love Me Not by S.M. Koz |Blog Tour| Review & GiveawayLove Me, Love Me Not by S.M. Koz
Published by Swoon Reads on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

When Hailey Brown is removed from her home and put into foster care, all she wants is a safe, comfortable place where she can finish school and move on with her life. It’s not easy adjusting to a new school and a new life, but Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and their teenage son, Brad, welcome Hailey with open arms.

As Hailey begins to adjust to her new life, she and Brad grow closer. For the first time, Hailey feels like she might have a real shot at a future. Soon, however, Hailey realizes her relationship with Brad has crossed the line from friendship into something more. But being with Brad would mean giving up the perfect life that Hailey has waited so long to have.

Can Hailey and Brad resist the feelings that are developing between them—or will they risk it all to be together?

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My thoughts

This book was glued to my hands. On a late Sunday morning I sat down and started reading Love Me, Love Me Not, by the evening I was finished with it. I couldn’t put it down! The moment Hailey was introduced, I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to know how she landed in foster care, and why she was with a guy named Chase, who was clearly a loser, and not good for her.

The short stick. My heart hurt for Hailey, because she had to grow up with a mother that abused her verbally, emotionally, and occasionally physically. Hailey’s boyfriend Chase was no better. He was always putting her down by telling her that she was nothing more than his property. Hailey’s upbringing prior to living with the Campbells was a nightmare, and I wanted to constantly give her hugs because of it. The Campbells, along with her new classmates, helped Hailey start to see that good people exist in the world, ones that want to build you up, not just knock you down.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Hailey and Brad had great chemistry and I was rooting for them wholly. I was also super nervous for them. Their romantic relationship is something they have to keep a secret, because dating your foster sibling is a big no-no. Hailey was constantly afraid that they’d be caught, and that she’d be kicked out of, yet again, another foster home. She was especially afraid because the Campbells were the best foster parents she’d ever had. They made her feel secure and wanted and treated her like a real member of their family.

So many feels. This book just really tugged at my heartstrings. I felt so much while reading. I felt joyous when Hailey started to feel safe and loved. I felt proud when she started to work harder in school, to bring up her gpa, and increase her chances of getting accepted into college. I felt scared when Chase started showing up unannounced, threatening to ruin Hailey’s new, good life. I felt sad, when pieces of Hailey’s horrible upbringing were revealed. Like I said, so many feels! The feels were overwhelming, and made me want to read and read, until I devoured every sentence in this book.

One bone to pick. The only thing I didn’t love about Love Me, Love Me Not was the ending. I thought it was a little anticlimactic. The emotions were always running high in Love Me, Love Me Not, and I was expecting an explosive ending. What we got was bittersweet, and emotional, but not quite the fireworks I thought the story was heading towards.


About the author

SM KOZ is a medical writer from North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and numerous pets. She has a BS in Biology from Duke University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from North Carolina State University.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, photographing nature and her family, gardening, travelling, and attempting, usually unsuccessfully, to decorate birthday cakes. Love Me, Love Me Not is her first traditionally published novel.


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four-half-stars
Dumplin

City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2) by Andrew Shvarts | An okay sequel

City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2) by Andrew Shvarts | An okay sequelCity of Bastards (Royal Bastards, #2) by Andrew Shvarts
on June 5, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 377
Source: Library
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend Zell and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city's prestigious University.

Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate, a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she's suggesting is impossible... and treasonous.

But Tilla can't, won't, let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire Mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.


✦ Click here to see my review of Royal Bastards ✦

I really loved Royal Bastards. It was funny, imaginative, and just overall an enjoyable read. The ending left me wanting more and I was super excited for what would happen in City of Bastards. Unfortunately, City of Bastards didn’t live up to my expectations.

Zzzzzz. The first half of this book felt like a chore to read. Tilla is now at Lightspire with Zell and Lyriana, and all we pretty much got in the first 100 pages was Tilla walking to class, going to parties, making out with Zell, and eating delicious food.

Poor Lonely Tilla. Tilla kept pretending that everything was okay when it clearly wasn’t. She’s still reeling over her brother’s death and her father’s evil deeds, and because Zell is keeping secrets and is often MIA, and Lyriana is almost always on a bender, Till is left isolated and sad. The lack of interaction between these three also contributed to the boring parts of the book.

Whodunit. The murder mystery hinted to on the cover was good. The reason for it, and culprit’s reveal, was surprising and clever.

Shocking ending. There’s a huge cliffhanger that changes everything for the characters, and I’m looking forward to see how they’re going to deal with it in book three.

I’m not totally surprised that book two wasn’t as good as book one. This unfortunately happens a lot. I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that book three will be better.

three-half-stars
Dumplin

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak | It’s raining men

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak | It’s raining menMy Life with the Walter Boys (My Life with the Walter Boys #1) by Ali Novak, Fallzswimmer
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: Self Purchase
Goodreads
three-half-stars

My Life with the Walter Boys centers on the prim, proper, and always perfect Jackie Howard. When her world is turned upside down by tragedy, Jackie must learn to cut loose and be part of a family again.

Jackie does not like surprises. Chaos is the enemy! The best way to get her successful, busy parents to notice her is to be perfect. The perfect look, the perfect grades-the perfect daughter. And then...

Surprise #1: Jackie's family dies in a freak car accident.

Surprise #2: Jackie has to move cross-country to live with the Walters-her new guardians.

Surprise #3: The Walters have twelve sons. (Well, eleven, but Parker acts like a boy anyway)

Now Jackie must trade in her Type A personality and New York City apartment for a Colorado ranch and all the wild Walter boys who come with it. Jackie is surrounded by the enemy-loud, dirty, annoying boys who have no concept of personal space. Okay, several of the oldest guys are flat-out gorgeous. But still annoying. She's not stuck-up or boring-no matter what they say. But proving it is another matter. How can she fit in and move on when she needs to keep her parents' memory alive by living up to the promise of perfect?

I started listening to this book on my work commute, really liked it, got impatient, and bought the eBook so I could read at my own (faster) pace.

The Walter family was too big. I love stories with a lot of siblings, especially boys, because those kinds always end up being super-funny. However, I think that there were too many siblings in this book. I was overwhelmed by there being 12 of them. There were too many to keep track of, their grade, age, and particular interests. I think that this story could have been just as good with a few less Walters.

Jackie surprised me. I totally thought she was going to be stuck-up, or at the least, a little like Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf, because she grew up in an Upper East Side Penthouse, regularly vacationed at the Hamptons, had maids, etc. I thought it was going to be one of those stories where the snobby high society girl gets a slice of humble pie and then has an epiphany. But Jackie didn’t look down on anyone. She was kind, shy, and very worried that her new housemates and classmates wouldn’t like her, because she came from such a different world. She was a sweetie and I liked her immediately.

This book was too short. There was this big moment that happened on the second to last page, and I felt like there was not enough time to digest it. It needed, and deserved, at least a few more pages.

All in all this was a good book and I hope that we might get a sequel some day. 

three-half-stars