Heart of Thorns book cover

Deception So Deadly by Clara Kensie

Deception So Deadly by Clara KensieDeception So Deadly (Deception So, #1) by Clara Kensie
Published by Snowy Wings Publishing on August 15th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Romance
Pages: 360
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Goodreads
four-half-stars

RUN. It’s all sixteen-year-old Tessa Carson has ever known. Hunted by a telepathic killer, Tessa and her family have fled home after home, hiding behind aliases to survive. Her scars are more than just physical, and as the only one in her family without a psychic ability, she lives a life of secrets, lies, and fear.

After the Carsons flee to a new hideout and take on new identities yet again, Tessa meets confident, carefree Tristan Walker. Their attraction burns fierce, but she runs from him too, knowing their love can never be true when she can’t even tell him her real name.

But Tristan has secrets as well—secrets that will either save Tessa, or destroy her. The only way Tessa can save her family—and uncover the real reason they’ve been hunted all these years—is to forget everything she’s learned from a lifetime of running away, and run straight into danger head-on.

 

This book is a whirlwind of action and suspense. I was addicted from page one!

Tessa is the only member of her family who doesn’t have a psionic ability. Her dad has the ability to  see people, what they’re doing, where they are, at any time of the day, and her mom, brother, and sister are telekinetic. Tessa and her family are constantly on the run, hiding from a vile man who is trying to kill them. They’ve been on the run for so many years, never able to stay in one town for more than a year. It’s hard to form any type of relationship when you might have to abruptly leave, and can never return.

Tessa’s family is overprotective of her, because she doesn’t have any powers. They think she’s too fragile and needs constant supervision. This treatment has made Tessa extremely introverted, a recluse who shuts herself off from everyone she meets. She’s so afraid she’ll say the wrong thing. Afraid that she’ll make a connection, and will be devastated when it eventually has to be severed. She’s also angry that she can’t tell people something as simple as her real name. Tessa thinks that there’s no point in connecting with people, if she can’t be her true self.

Tristan is such a sweetie! He sees that Tessa struggles with anxiety, and other fears, but doesn’t address it. He doesn’t ask questions. He just accepts her for who she is,  and tries to protect her, but not in a smothering or pitying way like her family does. Tristan believes Tessa is strong and tries to help her believe it too. Their budding romance is sweet and steady.

The last quarter of this book shocked the hell out of me. There was a huge turning point that turned everything upside down. It made me question everything I thought. I didn’t see this crazy, surprising twist coming, and it gave me chills. It was dark, agonizing, and so, so juicy. It was awesome!!

The ending of Deception so Deadly was major, and a great setup for the next book. I hope that there’s just one more book, because this series could easily wrap with two, and I’d hate for a third, or more to drag the series down.

four-half-stars
Heart of Thorns book cover

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee

Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things by Martina McAteeChildren Shouldn't Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee
Published by Martina McAtee on August 31, 2015
Pages: 510
Goodreads
two-stars

17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

I hate to be so blunt, but Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was a mess. And I’m not just talking about the unlikable characters, and agonizingly slow and boring story-line. This book needs at least one more round of editing.

I understand that no book is perfect, and it matters not that this book was self-pubbed vs. boasting a big name publisher. The majority of books I’ve read, even ones from fancy-smancy publishing houses, have had at least one error, a missing comma, a missing or excessive space, or even a word that got tagged accidentally with an extra letter, making it the incorrect word. It happens and it’s no biggie. However, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things isn’t a no-biggie book. It’s riddled with incorrect words, and so many words are missing spaces. I lost track of how many times the first word of a new sentence was attached to the period of the last sentence.

With the exception of Mace, who is the guarded, broody, bad boy I always fall for, I could care less about this book’s characters. They either annoyed me, or lacked depth. Tristin was quite frankly, a cranky bitch who made the rest of the characters, and myself, miserable. The majority of Belle Haven lost at least one or more parents in a freak accident that took place a decade ago, yet Tristin acts like her life is the worst. She feels undesired physically, even though her friend and admirer, Quinn, is always there, telling her how beautiful she is, and going to great lengths to please her. Tristin acts like she’s the weakest in the group, because she doesn’t have an active supernatural ability like her pack members, but they respect and in some cases, fear her and her physical ability to beat the sh*t out of you. She constantly complains about the girly-girls and the drama they cause, yet she’s the most dramatic of the bunch. It was maddening.

Even though the book is narrated by Tristin, Kai and Ember, I felt like it was focused mainly on Ember, which was unfortunate, because she had no substance. She was raised by a verbally abusive father, and shunned by her peers, which gave her a tough outer shell and sense of self-preservation. However, the moment she’s uprooted to Belle Haven, she devolves into a delicate flower that sits around while her new family and friends protectively orbit around her. They treat Ember like a damsel in distress, and Ember lets them. Where the heck did her tough resolve go?! I’ve never seen a character devolve so quickly and unexpectedly. The whole thing disregards all her childhood tribulations and accomplishments.

I think the author made a mistake by focusing mostly on Ember and then Tristin, when they should have focused on enjoyable and interesting characters like Kai and Mace. I was invested in both, because their funny and smart and had actual, interesting story-lines.

So yeah. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things was not my cup of tea. It wasn’t ready to be published, and the characters were either stab-worthy, or underutilized. Belle Haven was a hidden town full of supernatural beings which sounded so cool, but I couldn’t even enjoy that unique element because I couldn’t get over hating half the characters.

two-stars
Heart of Thorns book cover

Guardian (The Guardian #1) by A.J. Messenger

Guardian (The Guardian #1) by A.J. MessengerGuardian (The Guardian #1) by A.J. Messenger
on May 18th 2014
Pages: 242
Goodreads
two-stars

Eighteen-year-old Declan Jane is just trying to make it through senior year in San Mar, the Northern California coastal town she’s lived in all her life. Perpetually under the radar, she’s surprised by the pull she feels to a mysterious and attractive new student, Alexander Ronin. Despite all the girls vying for his attention, Declan is the one he’s drawn to, and she finds herself returning his interest. As the intensity of their attraction builds and she discovers the truth behind his appearance in San Mar, he reveals the danger she’s in and why their relationship holds deadly consequences. But as Declan overcomes her fears and fights for her life, the connection between the two lovers may be the only thing that can save them both.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, this story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

Guardian wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either.

Most of the characters were fillers who stood in the background barely affecting the story. The MC Declan wasn’t unlikable, just unremarkable. She was the stereotypical, unaware girl that finds herself plain and unassuming, until a gorgeous mystery man shows up a.k.a. Alexander. Alexander is your standard attractive love interest with beautiful green eyes, warm chocolate hair, and a hot Australian accent. I had a hard time enjoying his character, because he’s so typical. Alexander is attractive, protective, secretive, hot and cold, and falls in love with the MC immediately. Alexander’s generic-ism was laughable.

The one thing I truly enjoyed about Guardian, was its take on angels. There were good and bad angels that weren’t capable of physically forcing a person to make a certain decision, but rather they stood on the sidelines emotionally and verbally encouraging them. These angels reminded me of the white and dark lighters in a favorite TV show of mine, Charmed.

At the end of Guardian there’s a breakthrough regarding the weird things that keep happening to Declan, and in future books this reveal could either be really cool, or really convenient to the story. I don’t plan on reading book two any time soon, but eventually I might give it a go just to see whether the series comes into its own.

two-stars
Heart of Thorns book cover

Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1) by Chani Lynn Feener

Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1) by Chani Lynn FeenerAmid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy, #1) by Chani Lynn Feener
Published by Swoon Reads on July 18, 2017
Pages: 368
five-stars

Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.

Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.

No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Squee! Thinking about this book makes me so giddy. It’s such a fun story with a lot of heart and great character-building. Ruckus and Delaney are just too great together. Their interactions made my heart pitter-patter. No insta-love guys. I repeat NO-insta love. Just two individuals who meet in a kind-of-funny, yet also unfortunate way, and make the best of it by getting to know one another.

Delaney is the perfect YA heroine. She’s brave, but not reckless, sweet, but not naive, smart, but not cocky. She’s the complete opposite of Princess Olena who slyly switches places with Delaney. Olena, who everyone (including myself) hates, is a spoiled child who plays with people’s emotions to be cruel and to amuse herself. I felt bad that Olena was being forced into the marriage with prince Trystan in order to solidify a peace treaty between two opposing alien kingdoms, but the more I got to know Olena, the less bad I felt. I feel totally horrible saying that, but she’s not one of those characters you can easily feel pity for. Olena is selfish and entitled and doesn’t see the big picture. She likes to play games and only serves herself. Delaney is like a whiff of fresh air in the palace, because she actually has compassion and cares for others. She doesn’t let the icy prince Trystan intimidate her, at least, she doesn’t let on that he does. Delaney is a fake-it-til-you-make it girl. Even when she’s scared and full of sorrow, she raises her chin and gets the job done.

OMG. Trystan is so horrible. Entitled. Rude. Demanding. Intrusive. And yet. I’m so in love with him. Not like new bookish boyfriend, but just like, invested in him. It’s my weakness, those damn broody, rude, bad boys that I hope a strong girl will come along and soften up. It’s those attractive jerks who are on the cusp of redemption that I fall the hardest for. Regardless, I’m still team Duckus… or is it Relaney?  Ruckus is just so perfect. He’s attractive, sweet, and protective. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t want to lock you away in a tower, because he knows your’e not a damsel in distress. He treats you like an equal and wants to teach you self-defense so you can kick ass too. Those book boyfriends are so hard to come by. Most YA book guys are so overprotective and you have to fight with them constantly just to show them how strong and bad-ass you are.

I felt like this book lacked planet Xenith world-building, and that there was also a lack of details regarding how Earth coped with the aliens revealing themselves a few years ago, but I still gave it five stars. Call it personal preference, but sometimes when a book has characters that are so enjoyable, and reveals that continue to surprise and delight me, I can overlook small disappointments in other areas.

The cliffhanger was totally cruel, but also totally understandable. I mean, how could you not need book 2 immediately after the end of book 1?!!

This book made me smile and melt and left me shocked. I re-read many passages, one, two, even three times, because I wanted to re-feel the feels they gave me. This is one of the books you keep in your head for a while down the road. I just know that I will have a hard time not comparing it to the next couple books I read, because it was so good and the next few have a lot to live up to. I’m not huge fan of aliens, but this book made me a believer!

five-stars
Heart of Thorns book cover

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

This book left me speechless. The last scene was incredible! I was at the edge of seat expecting one outcome, and then the chair was pulled from me when something completely different happened.

When I first heard about The Cruel Prince, I brushed it off. I mean, yeah, the cover looked cool, but the description didn’t immediately grab me. On Goodreads I started seeing a lot of people reading and praising it. But still, I wasn’t going to buy it, because I’ve been avoiding spending money on books lately, preferring to utilize my trial of Kindle Unlimited. But when I got a second reminder email from Barnes & Noble saying I had a credit due to a lawsuit settlement (this is the third time it’s happened which is pretty neat), I was like, what the heck. I might as well take advantage of the credit before I lose it. It only paid for half of the ebook, but I was totally okay with covering the $4-ish dollars.

I’m so glad I made the decision to buy The Cruel Prince. It’s the first book in a long time that had me glued to the pages, forsaking sleep.

Jude and Taryn, both human, live in the land of Faerie, along with their older sister Vivi, who is half-fae. Vivi’s father is a redcap general who, by nature, is extremely violent. The Cruel Prince begins with Vivi’s father slaughtering her mother and the father of her two younger sisters. Vivi’s father drags her, and out of obligation, Jude and Taryn, to Faerie.

If you’ve ever read about the fae and their seelie and unseelie courts, you know how vicious they are. They’re bloodthirsty tricksters that lead humans beneath the hills to dance until they drop, among other horrible things.

Jude and Taryn are lucky because, even though Vivi’s father is not theirs’, he treats them like fae daughters. They have splendid rooms, lovely gowns, take the same classes that noble faes take, and are allowed to go to lavish balls.

Although both Taryn and Jude know that darkness lurks beneath the beauty, they have both, in different ways, adapted to the fae world they were thrusted into. For ten years Jude has resented the fae. She’s responded to their cruelness by becoming a formidable opponent in swordplay and the mind. In The Cruel Prince, after ten years of inferior treatment, Jude starts to bite back. Then you have her twin Taryn who has spent the last ten years keeping her head down, trying to the mimic the graceful ways of the fae. Taryn doesn’t want to just blend in, she wants to have a place amongst the fae. She’s pretty foolish in Jude’s and my opinion. Taryn has this romantic notion about the fae even though she’s witnessed the horror they bestow. I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I say I prefer Jude, the smarter and braver sister who stands up for herself and others that need the protection, even if they don’t deserve it.

There a lot of fascinating characters in this book. You have the twins of course, and their older half-fae sister Vivi who is hilarious. Vivi despises the fae in general and their old ways. She wants to be free, to live in the modern world with electronic devices, like cable. Then you have Vivi’s ‘stepmother’ Oriana, who reminds me of the wicked stepmother from Cinderella. She only tolerates the sisters because their stepfather expects her to. Oriana has a young son named Oak who is a wild child, but clearly loves his older sisters, and they him. There’s Cardan, the cruel youngest prince to the king of the seelie court who I despised in the beginning, but slowly began to love. He’s kind of the typical, attractive, brooding, jerk that is shielding deep problems that you’re dying to learn about. Other characters I enjoyed included an attractive fox-like fae that seems to be part of Cardan’s cruel group of friends, until he slowly changes his tune and takes an interest in Jude. *wink*

This book has action, heartbreak, sabotage, espionage, romance, and more. I was so riveted by Jude. I cheered for Jude when she stood up to Cardan and the other vicious fae, and I felt sorrow when she slowly started turning dark like her recap stepfather. I understood her transformation though, to survive, sometimes you have to become the very thing you hate most.

I can’t gush enough about this book. It’s so juicy and one of kind (in my eyes). Now I’m agonizing over the 1 then 2 year wait for books 2 and 3.

five-stars