Review: Fire Country (Country Saga #1) by David Estes

fire countryTitle: Fire Country
Author: by David Estes
Series: Country Saga #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer’s even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely.

Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.

Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with.

As the desert sands run out on her life’s hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.

My Review:
This is an accomplished book; beautifully written. I’m a fan of this vernacular-style of writing and David is clearly a talented author. It reminded me (a little) of the Dustlands series by Moira Young, though it’s still a unique story in it’s own right.

I struggled to engage in the story at the start. However, that’s happening me a lot at the moment, so it probably says more about me than about any of the books I’ve been reading recently. I became invested about a third of the way in, and I felt the pace and plot picked up then.

It took me a little while to warm to Sienna. While I could empathize with her predicament, some of her actions infuriated me. By her own admission she is weak (physically at least) yet that doesn’t stop her from throwing herself into situations that she can’t handle. Her actions continually put those she loves at risk, and she never seems to learn that lesson. That grated on me a little. Circ was instantly like-able and I thought my heart would break when that twist occurred mid way through. I spent the rest of the book praying it wasn’t as it appeared to be.

I loved the world-building, and I could easily visualize the derelict, primitive environment they lived in. David is very skilled at invoking emotions in his characters, and I particularly felt Sienna’s heartache in the second half of the book. This was extremely well written in my opinion.

Overall, I think this is a good addition to the YA Dystopian genre, and I would recommend it. I’d like to thank David for running a free promotion which enabled me to pick up a complimentary copy of this book. I’ll definitely be checking out some of his other work.

Blog Tour: The Counting-Downers by A.J. Compton

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for The Counting-Downers by A.J. Compton! I am really excited to be part of this tour and will share my review with you. There’s also a tour wide giveaway!

Counting DownersTitle: The Counting-Downers
Author: A.J. Compton
Series: standalone
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ sci-fi Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The stunningly poignant and life-affirming debut novel by A.J. Compton

Imagine if we could see how long everyone around us had left to live. But we weren’t allowed to know our own numbers…

Trying to make sense of life after the death of her beloved father, free spirit Matilda Evans meets Tristan Isaacs and discovers a marrow-deep connection with him.

No stranger to grief himself, lonely artist Tristan is in awe of Matilda’s fun and philosophical approach to life. With every second spent in her presence, he finds his views on life and loss changing, and begins to embrace the beauty of being alive.

As their friendship turns into something deeper, lessons are learned, memories are made, and legacies are created.

But with both of them knowing how long their soulmate has left in this lifetime, important questions have to be asked and tough decisions have to be made before time runs out.

The Counting-Downers is an inspiring story about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.

My Review:
This is an exceptional debut novel by a very talented author. I will even go as far as saying it is one of the best books I have ever read. It has touched me on a cellular level and I’m still trying to compose myself after finishing it. It’s both hugely entertaining and deeply profound. Wow.

The Counting-Downers is a thought-provoking book about life and death, love and loss, fear and bravery. Matilda lives in a world where everyone has a ticking clock over their head confirming when they will die. They don’t know how they will die and individuals aren’t aware or allowed to be told of their own date of demise. Imagine living with the very real shadow of death always hanging over you in such a transparent way? I absolutely loved this premise and the way the author dealt with it. People often flippantly throw out comments like ‘life is too short’ and ‘live life in the moment’ without properly thinking of the meaning behind the words. This book really raised a lot of inner questions and I’ve been in such a reflective/philosophical mood since I finished reading it.

The story is also a beautiful love story and it highlights the importance of family and friendship. Matilda meets Tristan the day of her father’s funeral and they form an instant connection. Unbeknownst to them, they both have the same date of death. That was never explained, but I took it to mean they were true soulmates who would not only share the joy of life together but die together. After their initial meeting, they don’t meet again for two years, but once they do they start spending a lot of time together and very soon realize that they are meant for each other. Their relationship is quite deep and spiritual at times, but also juvenile and funny at others. The dialogue between them is snappy and witty and there were plenty of LOL moments. Matilda is a real free spirit and she helps Tristian overcome the pain of his past. It was a joy to read and I really loved both characters.

The writing in this book is OUTSTANDING. It was so poetic, eloquent and downright beautiful. Award worthy in my opinion. I cannot believe how young this author is because she writes like a seasoned professional, and with such insight. If this is what she is bringing to the table as her debut novel then she is definitely an author to follow.

In a note at the back, A.J states how she wants every page to resonate with the reader. Well, she definitely achieved that in my case. Every word was imprinted on my heart and my mind. Here are a couple of quotes I liked:

“Love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting that they won’t.”

“Nobody sees me like you do, and without you, I’d be invisible. I exist because you see me.”

I am highly recommending this book. It is different, original, thought-provoking, and beautifully written. I hope it’s a huge success for the author because it’s an exceptional piece of writing.

AJ Compton Author PicAbout the Author:
A.J. Compton is a 23-year-old Londoner, professional dreamer, and full-time over-thinker. She is the author of The Counting-Downers and a dozen other unfinished manuscripts which will hopefully see the light of day soon.
A University of Cambridge graduate, A.J. is currently in a polygamous relationship with an embarrassing number of fictional book boyfriends.
Those two facts are not related. Honestly.
She loves people-watching and exploring her observations in her writing.
She really hates writing about herself in the third person.

Links:

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Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

the book of ivyTitle: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: post-apocalyptic/ dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

My Review:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. While the story is quite simple, the beauty is in the exceptional execution. This is a slow-burning character-driven plot which centers around Ivy Westfall and her new husband Bishop Lattimar.

Bishop is instantly endearing, even more so as the plot develops. Ivy was immature at times, but like-able all the same. Her sister and father are despicable human-beings who manipulate Ivy and try to turn her into a pawn in their political game. I hated both of them with a passion.

I was conflicted by events at the end – how Ivy could believe her actions were the only way to save Bishop was beyond me. However, she is only 16 and I understand that she felt trapped.

I enjoyed Amy’s writing style and the book flowed smoothly.

I can’t wait to see how this progresses in the next book. Well worth a read.

Blog Tour: And Then Forever by Shirley Jump

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for And then Forever by Shirley Jump! I’ll share my review and there’s a tour wide giveaway!

shirleyjump_AND_THEN_FOREVER_1600Title: And Then Forever
Author: Shirley Jump
Series:
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Welcome to Fortune’s Island, where the only rule is to follow your heart.

Love is an extravagance Darcy Williams can’t afford. She prefers the simple life, which includes waitressing at The Love Shack on Fortune’s Island and avoiding temptation. But when a forbidden part of her past steps off the ferry, her safe, guarded existence is turned upside down.

Kincaid Foster has never gotten over his first love. When he sees the wild, beautiful blonde again, dancing her way around The Love Shack, the memories of Darcy’s soft skin, gentle touch, and heated kisses come rushing back. As the privileged son of a wealthy family, Kincaid was too young to stand up to his overbearing father when he and Darcy were together. Now, he’s back on the island—free of the family shackles—and the chiseled, big-time lawyer wants a second chance.

But, Darcy made a promise to keep a secret from Kincaid—a secret that is now a six-year-old girl who looks just like her daddy. If Kincaid finds out about their daughter, Darcy could lose everything. But, she can’t resist the man who stole her heart all those years ago. And it doesn’t take long before both of them realize that anything can happen at The Love Shack on a hot summer night.

My Review:
This is a well-written quick read that will appeal to fans of contemporary women’s fiction.

I absolutely loved the island setting of this book and the close-knit community. Darcy and Kincaid met and fell in love when they were just out of high school but fate (and a nasty, manipulative father) was working against them. Both came from dysfunctional family backgrounds though it was on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Kincaid’s father has always tried to control him and direct his path in life, and he took it upon himself to get rid of Darcy seven years ago. When Kincaid reappears on Fortune’s Island, it’s immediately clear that both he and Darcy never got over one another.

Kincaid is pretty relentless in his pursuit of her and the life he has always dreamed of. Darcy caves pretty quickly despite her concerns over her daughter Emma. She is a little sweetheart and Darcy is a fantastic mum.

When everything inevitably comes out into the open, big decisions have to be made. Misunderstandings threaten to tear Darcy and Kincaid apart, but it all works out in the end.

I enjoyed this book and it was very well written and well paced. I liked both Darcy and Kincaid, but Emma stole the show for me. Adorable.

While the plot isn’t overly original, and it’s pretty predictable, it’s still a decent story that is solidly built. Recommended for fans of contemp romance.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Inkslinger PR in exchange for my honest review.

shirley_jump_headshotAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance so she can avoid the towering stack of dirty dishes, eat copious amounts of chocolate and reward herself with trips to the mall. Look for her all-new novella in the anthology ASK ME WHY (with Marie Force, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas), as well as the Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, on Amazon, and her Sweetheart Sisters series, starting with THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN.
Visit her website at http://www.shirleyjump.com/ for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

Links:

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Review: Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

golden sonTitle: Golden Son
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

My Review:
It is difficult to identify the appropriate words to describe this book. Simply stating it is amazing just doesn’t do it justice. I was totally blown away by Golden Son, and I am in awe of Pierce’s ability to weave such a compelling, complex story.

This book hooked me instantly, and though it’s quite long, it held my attention all the way through. I did feel some parts were overly described, and there were some pages that I skimmed without missing anything, however it’s a really minor complaint.

This book is much more than YA sci-fi, in fact I’m not sure I’d even describe it as YA anymore, because I feel the themes are much more mature in this book. There is so much suspense and so many twists and turns in this dark tale: political subterfuge, betrayal, and secrets and lies were all par for the course.

I never knew what was coming next, and the plot developments were totally unexpected. Ordinarily I only like these type of action-adventures if there is a good dollop of romance thrown into the mix. The romance theme is very much a minor plot in Golden Son but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment.

I think Pierce is an exceptional writer, and he truly has a way with words.

That ending left me in pieces. Aahh!! I need to know what happens next, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next installment.

A fantastic read.

Review: Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Red risingTitle: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

My Review:
A scintillating debut from a very talented author.

Red Rising tells the story of Darrow and his wife Eo, as they struggle with life as lower class citizens on Mars. The action ramps up pretty early on in the book, and there were plenty of twists and turns; some predictable, some unexpected.

Darrow’s world is turned upside down in a heartbeat, and everything he thought he knew about their society is shattered almost overnight. The depth of the government’s deception was horrific.

Darrow readily signs up to fight back and this involves significant personal change for him – both physical and mental. Then we enter a part of the story that has plot-lines reminiscent of The Hunger Games. I particularly enjoyed this section of the book.

Initially I struggled to get into the story. I felt there was a lot of information dumping pretty early on, and it was heavy on the descriptions. However, after a while that became a non-existent issue and I got really sucked into the world that the author has created. The world-building in this book is outstanding, and I could easily visualize Mars and all the various places.

I liked the writing style and it flowed really well.

I’ve already started Golden Son, and I can’t wait to see how the story develops from this point.

An excellent read and a very promising series.

Review: Tempting the Player (Gamble Brothers #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tempting the playerTitle: Tempting the Player
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Gamble Brothers #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres:
Links:

Blurb:
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

He’s a player on and off the field…

Chad Gamble, all-star pitcher for the Nationals, is one of the best players on—and off—the field. And right now, the notorious bad boy wants Bridget Rodgers. But with her lush curves and snappy comebacks, the feisty redhead is the kind of woman a man wants to settle down with…and that’s the last thing Chad needs.

When the paparazzi catch them in a compromising position, Chad’s manager issues an ultimatum: clean up his act or kiss his multi-million dollar contract goodbye. To save his career, his meddling publicist says he’ll have to convince everyone Bridget isn’t just his flavor of the week, but his girlfriend.

Being blackmailed into a fake relationship with Chad Gamble isn’t easy, especially when the sizzling physical attraction between them is undeniable. With a month to go on their arranged pretense, it’s going to take every ounce of willpower they have not to fall into bed together…or in love.

My Review:
I enjoyed this a little more than the first book, in particular I liked the story-line around the ‘fake romance’ and how the plot developed. I didn’t like Chase at first but he grew on me. Brigid is a sweetheart from the outset.

I did feel the end was a little unrealistic, but it didn’t dampen my overall enjoyment of this book.

Blog Tour: His Wicked Desire by Dawn Chartier

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I am glad to be part of the blog tour for His Wicked Desire by Dawn Charties. I’ll share my review with you and a tour wide giveaway!

His_Wicked_Desire_500_CS-FinalVersionTitle: His Wicked Desire
Author: Dawn Chartier
Series: Vieux Carré Witch Sister #2
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He’s found himself a wicked witch…

Brye Morgeaux is a half-witch, half-warlock who always relied on her beauty—especially when it came men. After a run-in with a particularly vicious warlock, Brye’s face is left scarred, forcing her to look to who she is on the inside. And what Brye finds is darker than anything she’d imagined…

Then she’s handed a terrible ultimatum—join the warlock clan, or watch her family die.

Josh Copeland has known the Morgeaux family for years, and has been waiting for the time when Brye would see him as something—anything—more than a friend. As she battles darkness from within and without, he realizes the woman he loves might just be her own worst, wicked enemy. Now Josh must find a way to show Brye who she really is…before she kills him.

My Review:
I received an ARC of this book from the publishers via Inkslinger PR in exchange for my honest review.

Brye is waging an inner war in the aftermath of a brutal warlock attack. Always defined by her beauty, she struggles to deal with her disfigurement and she feels lost and unsure of herself. Embarking on a road to self-discovery, she reconnects with her old friend and childhood crush, Josh. Both have harbored romantic feelings for the other though they are reluctant to admit it for fear of being hurt. Timing and circumstances have kept them apart thus far.

I must confess that I didn’t read the first book in this series because I didn’t actually realize it was a second installment. However, it wasn’t an issue in terms of the story because the author did a fantastic job of backfilling essential elements and clearly explaining key plot points and I never felt confused or that I missed out on anything important. So you could read this as a stand-alone read. That said, I may have been more invested in the characters if I had read the first book. I really liked Storm and Nate and I’ll most likely pick up a copy of the first book now to see how their relationship developed.

I liked the fantasy world that the author created and I loved all the paranormal elements – witches and warlocks, familiars, spells, special gifts etc. There was a strong good vs. evil theme and plenty of suspense and intrigue. In the main it was fast paced and there was a decent amount of action mixed in with the romance, exactly as I like it.

While I liked Brye and Josh as a couple, for me the relationship lacked depth. I find this a lot with books of a shorter length – there isn’t enough time to allow the reader to form a genuine emotional connection with the characters, and that is what I felt with this book. Brye also goes through a significant metamorphosis and it just happened too quickly to be believable. A few more chapters to flesh this out would have been beneficial in my opinion.

At times, some of the dialog felt stiff and unnatural though in the main the writing is decent.

In summary: I enjoyed this book though I wasn’t blown away by it. If you are a fan of paranormal romance you should check it out. Thank you to the author, publisher, and PR company for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

Actual rating 3.5 stars.

Dawn ChartierAbout the Author:
Dawn might occasionally have a gator parked in her front yard there on the bayou, but it’s the snakes that really scare the bejeezus out of her. So instead, she tends to hole herself up with a good romance book, chocolate by the pound, or marathon tv viewing of Game of Thrones, Hell On Wheels, Downton Abbey, various home renovation shows and Supernatural—oh Dean. *swoons*

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Review: Tempting the Best Man (Gamble Brothers #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tempting the best manTitle: Tempting the Best Man
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: (Gamble Brothers #1)
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

She’ll make him lose control…

Madison Daniels has worshipped her brother’s best friend since they were kids. Everyone thinks she and Chase Gamble would make the perfect couple, but there are two major flaws in their logic. 1) Chase has sworn off relationships of any kind, and 2) after blurring the line between friends and lovers for one night four years ago, they can’t stop bickering.

Forced together for her brother’s wedding getaway, Chase and Madison decide to call a truce for the happy couple. Except all bets are off when they’re forced to shack up in a tacky 70’s honeymoon suite and survive a multitude of “accidents” as the family tries to prove their “spark” can be used than for more than fighting. That is, if they don’t strangle each other first…

My Review:
I was saving this series for the flight to Australia and I managed to read all three books on the plane.

I enjoyed this book, and it is full of all the favorite things I love about JLA’s writing. Maddie is instantly likeable and I could feel her frustration with Chase, and his apparent lack of regard for her. I was rooting for them from the start.

The only issue I had with this book is the length – it was just far too short and I felt it lacked a bit because of it.

Overall though, a decent read.

Review: Tempting the Bodyguard (Gamble Brothers #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tempting the bodygaurdTitle: Tempting the Bodyguard
Author: by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Gamble Brothers #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

He can protect her from everyone except himself.

Alana Gore is in danger. A take-no-prisoners publicist, her way with people has made her more than a few enemies over the years, but a creepy stalker is an entirely different matter. She needs a bodyguard, and the only man she can ask is not only ridiculously hot, but reputed to have taste for women that goes beyond adventurous.

Chandler Gamble has one rule: don’t protect anyone you want to screw. But with Alana, he’s caught between his job and his increasingly hard libido. On one hand, Alana needs his help. On the other, Chandler wants nothing more than to take the hot volcano of a woman in hand. To make her writhe in pleasure, until she’s at his complete mercy.

She needs protection. He needs satisfaction. And the moment the line is crossed, all hell will break loose…

My Review:
It took me a little while to get into this book as I didn’t like Alana from the outset – as a result of how her character was portrayed in Tempting the Player. But as the story progressed I came to understand her more fully, and began to feel sympathy for her. Overall this was a good read, if predictable.

While I enjoyed reading this series, it is not one of Jennifer’s best in my opinion.