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Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) – Jennifer Rush

Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) – Jennifer RushTitle: Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) by Jennifer Rush
Publishing Info: October 3, 2017 by Hachette, Little Brown
Source: ALAAC17
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 2, 2017

Power corrupts. Magic kills.

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael is surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn't help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe—the dangerous and enigmatic leader of Hawthorne’s kindled motorcycle gang, the Devils’ League.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor spreads that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

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I think DEVILS & THIEVES was my first Jennifer Rush book and I was excited to read about motorcycles and magic. First, let’s get this out of the way — it’s not about motorcycles. The different motorcycle clubs are various families and groups, usually specializing in certain powers (often because specific magics run in specific families too) but aside from riding in on a chopper, the mention of a garage, and general motorcycle attire, there were no motorcycles. It did capture the family, camaraderie, and tight-knit group of a club though.

I actually did enjoy the book and at the same time, it felt like it was missing some good gravy. DEVILS & THIEVES was enjoyable, mostly light with some serious danger (like a lot of paranormal/urban fantasy YA), and had some interesting magical concepts. I’m always a sucker for different categories of magic and add in colors and/or scents to go with them and you have my mind immediately picturing and smelling everything! I loved the sensory concept and it also helped me pick up on the different types and remember them more easily.
And yet… I felt like it just didn’t go as deep as I wanted it to. It wasn’t even that I was missing a history or backstory like I often do for a lot of books when that “thing” is missing, but I just wasn’t as engaged as I had hoped to be. I almost think there were TOO many different types of magic because even by the end of the book I didn’t have them all straight and I guess I would have just loved to see more time spent between a few characters and building their relationships rather than a love triangle, which I actually didn’t hate. Jemmie has a clear winner in her “triangle” but she also doesn’t want it to be him. (I did.)

I actually didn’t see the end coming, even though I really probably should have, but this was another fortunate case of reading the book and not reading too much into everything. I basically read it in 15-20 minute intervals on my lunch break at work so I didn’t have time to sit there and think about what I just read and what might happen next so I don’t pick up on clues and the like when that happens. The short reading time also probably hurts how much I enjoyed the book because it was so pieced up, although it was easy to hop right back in where I had left off.

I’m actually interested to see where the rest of the series goes because I thought it was interesting how it ended and I’m always up for a little twistiness! I would probably continue on audio because this book had a great light and easy feel to it with a delicious dash of darkness that would make for a great audio read (so long as the narrator is a good one).
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Kept Me Hooked On: Different magical structures. I really enjoyed the magic system in this book, as well as the structure of the families behind each ability and how they’re inherited!
Left Me Wanting More: Meat & potatoes. I just felt like there was a little meat left off the bones that could have really enhanced this book and gotten even further into this world!

Addiction Rating
Try it

It didn’t wow me but it was a fun read! I’m still interested in continuing the series because it was a fun and easy read but I’m not sure it’ll be a priority.

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BOOKS LIKE DEVILS & THIEVES

          

Mini-Review: The Demon’s Lexicon (The Demon’s Lexicon #1) – Sarah Rees Brennan

Mini-Review: The Demon’s Lexicon (The Demon’s Lexicon #1) – Sarah Rees BrennanTitle: The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publishing Info: June 2, 2009 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 23, 2017
Related Posts: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)

Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again.
Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is desperate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

This is the Demon's Lexicon. Turn the page.

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I read THE DEMON’S LEXICON on audio before Halloween (well, long before Halloween — in September) when I was in the mood for paranormal/urban fantasy/horror reads so it’s been a while since I’ve read it but I’ve also put off writing the review for a while because it wasn’t as stand-out of a book as I had expected and I didn’t quite know what to say.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book but I was expecting a fun urban fantasy feel and I wasn’t let down in that respect! It was actually a little more fun than I had expected with some nice banter, and interesting family dynamic, and some concepts that actually reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s novels in a way. I’m not exactly sure how but it just had that sort of feel.

The book had its ups and downs, full of some really interesting twists but it also hit some slow spots too. It actually felt more like the writing style rather than the actual plot/book slowing down, but still my interest starting waning once I started losing speed.

I really liked how the end played out and there were a lot of things that really surprised me! The story was really interesting and the reveals were perfect… And yet still, I don’t really feel drawn to continue the series. I found that the second book switches POVs to a character that I don’t really care about and I was invested in these two brothers which was half of the reason I was reading. I meant to start the second book right after and pushed it aside so I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Urban Fantasy. Urban fantasy is very hit-or-miss with me. Some I LOVE and others I really don’t care for. This was a fun one and it hit the mark!
Left Me Wanting More: Momentum. Things slowed down every once in a while and the pacing seemed to lose my interest. If it had kept going, it would have been even better!

Addiction Rating
Consider it

I enjoyed reading this book but I don’t feel driven to continue the series so it’s a tough one to recommend. I wasn’t disappointed with my read and  yet, if I don’t feel like continuing the series, I’m not sure if I’d tell someone to go out and pick it up!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DEMON’S LEXICON

          

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab

I’ve been very hit-or-miss with Victoria/V.E. Schwab but my friends loved this series so I wanted to give it a shot! It made it easy to read with my library having copies of the first audiobook and I ended up purchasing the second to finish it out.

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: July 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 17, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I wrote a pretty quick collection of thoughts on Goodreads and since it’s been quite a few months since I actually read the book, it’s interesting to read these thoughts and look back on my experience reading the book… which is that I don’t remember as much as I had hoped. THIS SAVAGE SONG was a solid read, but it didn’t really stay with me. The book kind of had a feel like THE 5TH WAVE except more of a paranormal/urban fantasy concept with monsters instead of aliens. (I mean, it’s not a direct comparison because a lot is different but that kind of post-apocalyptic feel is there.)

I was entertained the whole way though and I enjoyed the characters of August and Kate. I really liked Kate’s toughness and I appreciated August’s situation but I was always left feeling like I wanted a little more background. It’s only a two-book series so I was hoping there would be more world-building and set-up included in THIS SAVAGE SONG and there wasn’t, so I was left waiting for that in book two.

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 19, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

OUR DARK DUET was a less enjoyable read for me. I kept hearing about all of the FEELS here but since I didn’t really have them for the first book, I really didn’t keep anything moving to the second book. I felt like the author was relying on feelings to carry the book through and still, I was really lacking that development of the world and the background of the story. I wanted so many more details on how the monsters are formed, WHY they started forming in the first place. I mean, this isn’t a fantasy world — it’s our world and monsters have changed the way we live in it… so where did they come from? Why did they start forming? The concept is there of the reason that they do but what changed that this process creates monsters? There’s a difference between an urban fantasy world in which these creatures have always existed and or own world in which a change has been made that created an urban fantasy setting. It’s SUCH an important part of my reading experience and without it, I just didn’t believe the story.

SERIES THOUGHTS

I find myself disappointed again with the lack of development from Victoria Schwab. Just a bit more thought on the background of things could make any one of her books so much richer. There was plenty of space for it and ample opportunities but she doesn’t seem to go that extra step to really make her worlds that much deeper.

I did enjoy THIS SAVAGE SONG but I lost something with my read of OUR DARK DUET. I just have a really hard time when I like the conclusion of a series less than its beginning because it ends on a lower note and I have a hard time wanting to recommend the series.

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Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

SO many people seem to love this series but it wasn’t a hit for me. I had some issues with the structure that really bothered me and it affected my whole read. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend these books but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to tell anyone not to read them. It was just very middle-of-the-road for me.

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BOOKS LIKE MONSTERS OF VERITY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) – Adriana Mather

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) – Adriana MatherTitle: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: October 3, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 16, 2017
Related Posts: How to Hang a Witch

The Titanic meets the delicious horror of Ransom Riggs and the sass of Mean Girls in this follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Hang a Witch, in which a contemporary teen finds herself a passenger on the famous "ship of dreams"--a story made all the more fascinating because the author's own relatives survived the doomed voyage.

Samantha Mather knew her family's connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she'd find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she's been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam's waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

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I really, really enjoyed HOW TO HANG A WITCH from Adriana Mather last year so I was so ready to pick up HAUNTING THE DEEP when I heard of its release! I started reading it close to Halloween, being that HOW TO HANG A WITCH was the perfect Halloween read. HAUNTING THE DEEP didn’t quite have the same vibe for me and it was still enjoyable, but I also felt like it was lacking quite a bit.

I felt like all of the work to incorporate the witch story line was kind of lost. There was still magic involved but HAUNTING THE DEEP was focused more on a ghostly plane versus a ghost being involved in a witchy story. Sam’s interactions with the Titanic and its passengers stretched the imagination a little bit more and moved from what I guess I’d call “believable magic” to a point where it was a bit too far-fetched for me. I also wasn’t as big of a fan of the Titanic concept as I was the connection to the Salem Witch trials.

What is very cool is that Adriana Mather writes these books in connection to her own family  history. Her relatives have some serious American historical roots and their actual involvement in the Salem Witch Trials and the Titanic inspired her writing for these books! It’s really neat to know that she has a personal connection to the stories.

The long triangle from the first book really kind of bothered me but I’m not feeling as bothered by it anymore. I’m still team Human versus team Ghost (the ghost thing is… weird?) but I guess we’ll see where things go! I like the connection but I wish it wasn’t like, a full-on romance thing here.

When it comes down to it, I just really missed the witchiness of the first book and especially reading it around Halloween, that’s just what I really wanted. I’m definitely going to read more from Adriana Mather because I can’t wait to see what else she’s writing about (she has a LOT of sweet family history) and I love the personal author’s notes at the end of these books to explain a lot of that too! I didn’t really connect with HAUNTING THE DEEP like I had hoped but I’m definitely in for the long haul with these books! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The Titanic. I hadn’t really given much thought to the Titanic outside of the movie, but it was actually really neat to get some more history about it in this book!
Left Me Wanting More: Witches. I just looooved that Craft meets Hocus Pocus vibe from the first book and it was really missing here, being about something totally different haha! It was just so much fun, though.

Addiction Rating
Check it out

Lots of fans of HOW TO HANG A WITCH seemed to enjoy this one and even reviewed that they enjoyed it better than the first, with improvements in writing and plot. For me, I was totally hung up on my witchy vibes. It was still enjoyable but I just wasn’t connected. I think totally worth checking out if you read the first (please read the first book first)!

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BOOKS LIKE HAUNTING THE DEEP

          

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William Ritter

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William RitterTitle: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017
Related Posts: , Jackaby (Jackaby #1), Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2), Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

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For some reason, this was the least engaging book of the series for me and I felt a little bogged down and that things were going slowly in the middle. It’s entirely possible that it was because I essentially binge-read the first three books, but that was also only earlier this year and it’s not like there had been THAT much time in between reads. I had a hard time picking the book back up because I felt like it wasn’t really progressing for a while, but I also know that’s my lack of reading time that really hurt my reading pace as well.

I also know that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when so many supernatural creatures are introduced at once because it always feels like overkill to have them all present at the same time, and that was a big part of THE DIRE KING. Things come to a grand conclusion so everyone an everything are involved and it sort of loses that magic for me when so many creatures are present.

I did absolutely love the ending! There was the perfect amount of bittersweet that every series finale should have. Things were wrapped up nicely, concepts exchanged hands, not everyone was perfectly okay, and it presented a new life for the characters after the events of this series wrapped up. I thought that was handled beautifully!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal but historical. This whole series was a lot of fun! I loved the historical meets paranormal and it was great fun to read.
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. I just felt like everything was rushing to a conclusion and it was all a bit much sometimes. It didn’t really feel like a natural flow and it seemed like ALL of the supernatural concepts were thrown in at once.

Addiction Rating
Read it

The actual ending itself is super solid — one of the best wrap-ups, I think — but I just wish I had felt the same about the rest of the book. Still worth the read if you’re already three books in!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DIRE KING

          

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: October 17, 2011 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 30, 2017
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

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I actually tried to read this book, oh about four or five years ago, and decided it was too scary because I hate reading ghost stories but so many people had talked about the book that I had wanted to give it a try. I figured now that I’m braver and decided to read it NOT in the dark, NOT home alone, and NOT in a very old apartment that it would take away some of the fear factor and really… it’s not a scary book at all. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD has some gory and creepy moments but it’s more about the story of Anna and how she came to be, Cas and his family, and the friendships that form, rather than the fear.

The book was fun but it didn’t really pull me in. I liked Cas and enjoyed his point of view but the plot just didn’t quite work for me, which seems to be kind of a pattern with Kendare Blake’s books for me. I didn’t really care about the ending and didn’t really like where the story went. I felt like it would have been a better stand-alone, making this more about Cas and Anna’s story rather than Cas’s family and his history (for once I don’t want character backstory!). Even though there were a lot of things leading up to the conclusion, it still seemed to veer off in a different direction and just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the book.

It was a fun read but I don’t think I’ll pick up the second book. I’m glad I “faced my fears” and tried it again because it really wasn’t scary at all! I had just put myself in a spooky place when I first tried to read it and barely made it anywhere because I freaked myself out with a spooky setting, so I’m really glad I attempted this book again. I feel silly for being scared before but I guess I concocted the perfect storm for a fear factor the first time around!

The audiobook narrator was also very meh. He had breaths and pauses in weird places (the middle of sentences) and didn’t have very good accents at all. Anna’s Finnish accent was more Russian and no one had a Canadian accent or even a hint of one despite the fact that the book took place in Canada. I mean, all Canadians don’t have to have a strong, pronounced accent but I do notice the vowel changes a lot with my own Canadian friends so I guess I expected the same here. His voices for the other guys were like, no one’s voice ever in real life, and the girls were overdone and stereotypical, so that didn’t enhance my reading experience like some audiobook narrators can do.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ghost stories?! I can handle ghosts in books as long as it’s not in a scary capacity. I tend to freak myself out when reading scary ghost books but I’ve read quite a few books where ghosts appear in a less threatening capacity. Anna got a little creepy in this book but Cas’s interaction with her calmed it down.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I felt like the focus strayed, which is silly considering that was the end point all along… So I guess I was looking for the “twist” of the end to play a bigger role in the rest of the book so it didn’t feel like we were talking about two different things.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was a quick and fun Halloween-time read. It didn’t impress me a lot but I had a good time reading it and while it was middle-of-the-road for me, I’m still glad I read it. I probably won’t read the second book, especially the way that it ended, so I can’t really recommend it but others enjoyed it a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

          

Talon (Talon #1) – Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon #1) – Julie KagawaTitle: Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
Publishing Info: October 28, 2014 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 14, 2017
Related Posts: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1)

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

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I had no idea what to expect when I started TALON! I picked up it really only because of the audiobook narrators (MacLeod Andrews is one of my all-time favorites) when it was included in an Audible sale and wanting to start something fun a book that wasn’t TOO long (since I’m always behind on my Goodreads challenge).

TALON wasn’t anything super special for me but it was engaging and fun to read (or listen to). The characters were easy to follow and the book felt a little “typical YA” (things that you might place in a YA stereotype) but it was still a fun and enjoyable book. There was a love triangle which I didn’t expect at first but ya know, I didn’t hate it (maybe because there was a bad boy involved… just sayin’) and I would be interested to see where it goes except for the fact that I’m not sure that I’m motivated to continue the series. I wasn’t suuuper sold on the writing but it was still light and easy. There were two main POVs and then a third shows up halfway through the book so I thought it could have been structured better and I felt like the third POV probably should have been eliminated, even though I kind of enjoyed it.

The concept of dragons who can morph into humans was unique and the only thing I’ve read remotely like it, as far as dragons go specifically, was SERAPHINA. This was more on the contemporary side since it takes place in a contemporary time period, whereas SERAPHINA was more deep into the fantasy and a high fantasy world. I enjoyed the different feel that was involved here and it was fun to see the dragons incorporated into modern society. That being said, it also wasn’t the most well-done and there were some super obvious things about the dragons that I thought anyone should be able to pick up — especially a society that specifically hunts them — but I think this is one of those “suspend your disbelief for the sake of the book” kind of a thing.

The plot was fairly predictable but I still had fun with it. I wasn’t in it to be shocked and surprised so that wasn’t something that bothered me. I am curious to see where the rest of the series will go because it ended with kind of a cliffhanger there! BUT I also don’t know if finishing the series will be priority. Maybe Audible will have more sales for the rest of this series and I can finish that way, otherwise I probably won’t continue. It’s a sort of a read-it-because-it’s-there kind of a series and not one that I’ll really prioritize.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dragons! I haven’t read a lot of dragon books and it was interesting to see the dragon-to-human concept since it’s not one that’s done often. It makes you think a little different versus other supernatural-to-human creatures that you see more often in books.
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. I know I’m reading young adult novels and there’s the whole “teens are the target audience here” but sometimes YA is a little TOO YA for me and that was the case with this book. I’m sure going back to read TWILIGHT (I haven’t in probably… oh almost ten years now) I wouldn’t enjoy it the way that I had when I was much younger and that’s okay! But it’s things like obvious tropes, plot holes, and less mature language that leaves me feeling a bit old for the book when I continue to enjoy so many young adult books out there.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This book was light, easy, and enjoyable but it didn’t really knock me off my feet. I think it’s something to consider if the concept sounds interesting and fun but I wouldn’t put it first on your TBR.

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BOOKS LIKE TALON

          

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) – Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) – Melissa GreyTitle: The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) by Melissa Grey
Publishing Info: April 28, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 29, 2017

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

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I’ve heard so many good things about THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT and with having the second and third books on audio from the publisher, I figured it was finally time to buy the first from Audible to get the series binge going!

This book really reminded me a lot of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and The Conspiracy of Us with a little urban fantasy feel. The tone of the book was fun, with Echo’s sass and sarcasm (always something I enjoy as long as it’s done well) and some nice friendships…

… But the ragtag group of misfits don’t really jive. They all have different personalities and they sort of seem to be fighting each other, not outwardly as character arguments but the personalities just aren’t meshing for me. It really does feel garbled together and not like the misfit group of characters like The Dregs, who are all misfits but all have the same goal and same attitude towards life.

THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT was a fun story but it felt sort of… average in a lot of ways. I’ll admit, the hype really got to me after seeing a lot of fan-girling reviews so I had some very high expectations. The story was enjoyable BUT I’m not sure it was really worth the hype. One thing I was really missing was the world-building throughout the entire book. I was all for the worlds of the Avicen and the Drakharin but… why do they exist? What are they all about? Were they always in the shadows of the human world, in hidden places or did they have to move there? How did this whole war get started? Who pissed off who? Tell me more about the magic, the history, the reasoning… We got a little of Echo’s backstory and how she ended up being taken in by the Avicen but, did she never question who they were and why they existed and why people don’t know about t them?

I have some more spoilery thoughts about the romance and the actual hunt of the Firebird, but I do try to keep my blog reviews spoiler-free so if you want to peek at spoilery thoughts, you can go check out my Goodreads review where you can peek behind the spoiler tags!

The more I talk about the book, the more unhappy I am with it. It just didn’t seem to really do much. It wasn’t intolerable and I had planned on continuing the series binge but I picked up the second book and my heart just wasn’t into it. I stopped my journey with this series after book one and I don’t find myself missing anything.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique fantasy concepts. The Avicen were an interesting creation and I always like reading about new concepts where I can!
Left Me Wanting More: Base. This book just needed more world-building, a bit more character base, and needed to feel a bit more grounded. It just felt very… new.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I have some friends who loved this one but this was a very middle-of-the-road read for me that ended up teetering towards the side of indifference. I just didn’t really care to keep going.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William Ritter

Well, I had the best intentions of binge-reading this series but alas. I found out that it was actually a four-book series and not a trilogy, so today’s series review will have to be for the first three books and then when the fourth one comes out, that’ll be on its own.

SERIES REVIEW: JACKABY, BEASTLY BONES, GHOSTLY ECHOES

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 16, 2014 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 1, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

I wasn’t totally sure what JACKABY was all about but I was excited to start it! I actually hadn’t known that it involved paranormal elements so that was an interesting surprise when I started reading! (Yes, yes, I know that’s what the whole series is about and it’s plain as day in the book descriptions but you know me and going in totally blind.) I actually thought JACKABY was straight historical fiction, like a YA Sherlock Holmes. I was also interested to find out that Jackaby himself wasn’t a young adult, and I thought that was great to have an adult character as a main part of the book since so many YA books skip around older figures and stick with the teens. It brought an interesting dynamic and mix and also allowed Abigail to get involved in so many things that she may not normally have had access to. That’s always my thing with YA mysteries — a big question that always has to be addressed is why a teen wouldn’t go to an adult with a murder-mystery case and in JACKABY, Abigail is working for paranormal detective R.F. Jackaby.

I also figured that there would be a romance between Jackaby (this was before I knew how much older he was) and Abigail and I’m really glad that there wasn’t! It was nice to see the romance built with Abigail and more of a secondary character and that it was a side plot and not a main focus of the book. The quirky mysteries still took the spotlight and there wasn’t any mixing of work and romance. I actually didn’t really care for the romance, though. I thought it wasn’t very developed in the first book, which it didn’t have to be developed right away, but for some reason it felt fast and forced for me.

JACKABY wasn’t a perfect book but it was really enjoyable! Things kind of piled on with the paranormal but it was fun and not overwhelming as some books tend to feel when dealing with so many different para-creatures.

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 21, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

I started BEASTLY BONES right after I finished JACKABY because the first book was just so enjoyable and a breeze to read! I thought BEASTLY BONES stepped it up even more and that William Ritter’s writing really improved, not that I thought JACKABY was lacking, but it felt more mature and more put-together.

I loved the fantastical element in this book and I won’t give it away because it was a super fun reveal for me but it was a creature that I was so excited to see, and even that had a turn of its own. The characters handle the situation adeptly, as always, and the mystery was a hoot!

One thing I actually didn’t like was the appearance of some secondary characters that were immediately eliminated in this book. They had such a heavy focus in BEASTLY BONES and it kind of felt like a waste to get to know them for such a short time only to never see them again. There was also a bit of repetition of terms and words in this book that I started to notice a lot (I didn’t need to read “indomitable” 20 times) so that was a little frustrating but I thought the mystery was even more exciting than the first book and it took a different turn as well!

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 23, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 25, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.
Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

GHOSTLY ECHOES was a bit different all together with one of the main characters being involved in the mystery instead of someone from the outside. I really loved how much more personal the mystery became — to Jackaby and Abigail as well as the reader — and where the whole series went! Things really escalated in this book and I really appreciated how so many things came full circle here.

The friendships in this book were stepped up even more and I love how much tighter this group got! The different elements in this mystery were also top notch and I think this was my favorite book of the series!

SERIES THOUGHTS

 

This series is fun, easy to read, and seems to be getting better with each book! I still am missing that big “wow” factor that would shoot it up to five stars but these are all so solid and really entertaining.

I think William Ritter does a great job bringing all of the plot together, especially in GHOSTLY ECHOES, and it was also nice to have an overall plot but mysteries that were solved at the end of each book so I didn’t have to jump back into a world where I forgot everything that had happened, as with so many series. (Although I did binge read these so that wasn’t a huge issue anyway.)

I do feel like I could do without Abigail’s romance. I personally have never connected to it and it still feels forced to me. I actually feel like Abigail would be a stronger character without it, or she needs a more spirited companion. She’s so spunky and I would love to see her banter with someone instead of becoming softer and more gentle, although I guess she does have a different sort of banter with Jackaby. Still, I love that romantic banter and teasing.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

This is a really solid series and each book seems to get better! The paranormal and fantasy aspects are so much fun and the two main characters (Jackaby and Abigail) are really solid.

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BOOKS LIKE JACKABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on Instalove

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING by Jeff Giles! I was so honored to read the book early and provide a blurb for the ARC, thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, and then to meet Jeff Giles at BEA and be able to say hello. Now I’m a part of the blog tour and it’s been so great being so involved with this book!

For today’s post, Jeff Giles is talking a little bit about instalove. As with some books where two worlds collide, instalove happens. Heck, instalove just happens in real life. When I first saw the topics for guest posts for the blog tour, I instantly latched onto this one because I feel the same way! I even had a post that defended instalove because not all instalove is unrealistic. Today’s post has a full discussion from Jeff and I just love it!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Guest Post on InstaloveTitle: The Edge of Everything (The Edge of Everything #1) by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 27, 2016
Related Posts: The Edge of Everything

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

“INSTALOVE ACTUALLY”
by Jeff Giles

When you’ve got a novel about to come out, you spend a lot of time reading reviews of other people’s books as a sort of dress rehearsal for reading your own.

I love the intensity of opinion among readers, whether it’s positive, negative or sideways. For some reason, I especially love the continuing debate about instalove, so I thought I’d share the thoughts that have been piling up in my head.

When I was younger, instalove was called “love at first sight”—and nobody ever questioned it. People generally liked the idea that, at any moment, they could turn a corner, accidentally spill coffee on someone, and proceed directly to Happily Ever After. The trope was no more realistic then than it is now, but it made every second of every day feel like a lottery ticket that could pay off big.

These days, a lot of readers DNF novels like that, of course. That may be because young people are savvier now. They know, from the internet, that some people lie about/disguise who they are every day.

For the record, I think it’s a good thing to be careful about falling in love and to expect novels to be subtle and realistic. I’m not in love with instalove in any way—but I want to say a few things in its defense, because I think it get a bad rap sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. So let’s pretend that I’m instalove’s court-appointed lawyer and I have to defend it, because it’s my job. Okay?

Here we go.

1. Sometimes people DO fall in love instantly.

It happens, even if it doesn’t happen a lot. One of the gifts, and curses, of being young is that you feel things with an almost supernatural intensity. Juliet was 13. Romeo was a couple years older.

But people of all ages can fall in love fast. It may be because they’re at a transitional point in their lives and especially open to possibility. It may be because they’re vulnerable after a loss or a trauma. It may be because they’re stranded in the Artic during a scientific expedition and the generator’s dying and the helicopter’s not coming after all and they have to huddle for warmth. But it does happen.

2. Not every character who THINKS they’re in love is ACTUALLY in love.

People lie to themselves sometimes. We ALL know people like this. They want to be in love so much that they rush in, in clear violation of the famous Elvis song about how only fools rush in. A lot of times instalove is just insta-lust in disguise, obviously. If you see a character whose eyes turn into heart emojis within three pages, the author may setting him or her up for a fall.  

3. If a novel (or a movie) is good enough, it will make you forget that you hate instalove.

The Titanic sank within four days. Four! That’s how long Jack and Rose had to fall in love. Yes, it helps that Jack selflessly gave his life even when there was definitely enough room for him on that floating door.

4. People are more likely to fall in love fast if someone (parents, say) or something (an iceberg, maybe) are trying to keep them apart.

That happens constantly in books and movies, right? It happens in real life, too. None of us want to be told who to love. None of us want to give up because there’s a war coming, or a dystopian government has outlawed love.

5. Even bad instalove is better than that thing where two people meet and hate each other’s guts before realizing they’re soul mates.

I can’t stand that. Give me anything else. Just because you detest someone does not mean you should marry them!

6. If a character is going through tragic stuff, as many YA characters are, an author may just really want to give them a partner for the journey.

It’s not a great excuse, I know. But authors are protective of their characters, and they often want someone to stand by their MC every second and say, “I love you. You can do this.” Yes, that person could be a friend or a sibling or a sentient robot, but sometimes you really just want to give your character someone to kiss.


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING!

GIVEAWAY

There’s also a giveaway as a part of the tour for one copy of the book + keepsake metal bookmark! This giveaway is open to US/Canada only. Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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