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Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

Monday, June 24, 2019

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Goodreads Summary

I was so excited when our library received this arc! I have loved the first two books in this series and regularly recommend this book to patrons from teens to adults. It's difficult to write a review without any accidental spoilers. I really enjoyed the world-building that Garber is so famous for. The scenery is vivid and the dialogue jumps off of the page. I was a little surprised that this book focused so much on Tella. I can't decide whether I prefer Tella's character over Scarlett's, but I was anticipating more of Scarlett's point of view. I would have preferred to see the sisters develop a deeper relationship throughout this book, but I was pretty happy with the relationships that continued to deepen. Tella and Legend are legendary in the book world (as far as relationships go) to me. Scarlett and Julian are an interesting twist. Donatella, who I regarded as a strong character, seemed to exist merely as part of a love triangle (which I admit to hating). 

The plot was fairly strong. I think I appreciated the first two books more, but I still enjoyed how fast-paced and easy it was to read through the lengthy novel. I had trouble putting this book down and even took it to the beach with me. I loved learning more about the Fates; they were such a dark and mysterious part of this trilogy for me and I finally felt more satisfied as this book was concluding. I wish the ending was a little more fleshed out. I have a lot of unanswered questions and I'm still hoping for a prequel or two.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

HALLMARK LAUNCHES CHRISTMAS IN JULY WITH “CHRISTMAS CAMP" (Movie & novel both written by Karen Schaler)

The Breaking News We’ve Wanted to Share with You Since Last December:

Last winter, Karen Schaler first wrote the movie AND then the book CHRISTMAS CAMP – now, the CHRISTMAS CAMP movie is premiering as a Hallmark Original Christmas movie on July 11th, as part of a special “Christmas in July” celebration!

About the Book:
From Karen Schaler, screenwriter of the smash Netflix hit A Christmas Prince, comes CHRISTMAS CAMP, a heart-warming holiday novel about a woman’s journey to Christmas Camp, where she discovers her Christmas spirit…and a special someone to love.  Currently available as a trade paperback original, William Morrow will release CHRISTMAS CAMP as a mass market paperback on 9/24/19.  The new edition includes the bonus sequel novella CHRISTMAS CAMP WEDDING and exclusive Christmas Camp recipes and activities. 


Haley Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping to the Caribbean to work so she can avoid all the traditional Christmas distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the corporate ladder at a prestigious Boston advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first her boss thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment and ships her off to a Christmas Camp at Holly Peak Inn to help her find her Christmas spirit.

Arriving at the charming mountainside inn, Haley meets the owner’s handsome son, Jeff, and feels an instant spark, but resists the attraction, refusing to be distracted from her goal of doing all the required Christmas tasks as fast as possible so she can get back to work.

At first Haley struggles with all the traditional Christmas Camp activities. It’s not until she finally allows herself to slow down, live in the moment, and let Christmas back into her heart, that she begins to grow closer to Jeff. But when he finds out Haley’s come up with a plan to help his dad save the struggling inn while he’s been trying to convince his dad to sell it, their relationship takes a serious holiday hit. Now it will take the magic of the season to bring these two hearts together. 

Trade Paperback (available now) 9780062883698
Mass Market (on-sale 8.26.19) 9780062950239
eBook (available now) 9780062883681
Digital Audio (available now) 9780062909312

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Remy Tsai used to know how her story would turn out. But now, she doesn’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

She was happy once. Remy had her boyfriend Jack, and Elise, her best friend—her soulmate—who understood her better than anyone else in the world.

But now Jack is dead, shot through the chest—

And it was Elise who pulled the trigger.

Was it self-defense? Or something deeper, darker than anything Remy could have imagined? As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her.

Told in alternating timelines, Thelma and Louise meets Gone Girl in this twisted psychological thriller about the dark side of obsessive friendship.

Goodreads Summary

I've noticed that in books (and probably life) that boys often get in the way of friendships. Remy and Elise were the best of friends, supporting each other through thick and thin. Remy doesn't have a perfect home life and Elise makes that bearable. When Jack enters her life she feels like things are looking up. He is a kind, sweet man who treats her well and seems very invested in her. I didn't get any bad or unusual vibes off of him and their romance seemed to develop normally. When Jack is shot through the chest and Elise is implicated as a suspect in his murder Remy doesn't know who to trust or what to believe.  

I liked how this book focused so much on female friendships. The author took a darker view on them for the purpose of the plot, but it felt more like the book was about friendship and that the romance was a side-plot. I loved the chilly atmosphere (especially during Elise's portion of the books). Although I could see where (in a sick, weird way) Elise may have been coming from I didn't really understand why she took it so far. Remy was a bit frustrating. There were points where I wanted to shake her. I think the author writes characters very cleanly and helps the reader connect to them. I could foresee the ending coming before it came, but that didn't make it any less satisfying. I am definitely looking forward to more from this author and can't wait for her next novel!

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

Friday, June 14, 2019
The new and exciting historial thriller by Lyndsay Faye, author of Edgar-nominated Jane Steele and Gods of Gotham, which follows Alice “Nobody” from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland’s the Paragon Hotel.

The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?

Goodreads Summary

This book took me back to the 1920's Prohibition era. I felt immersed in our country's history from the first page until the intriguing ending. Faye has a way of crafting her diction and her characters' scenery so that the reader can easily picture each vivid event. This book contains a multitude of difficult subjects from racism, to prejudice, to violence, segregation, etc and handles them delicately and effectively. I feel like I know so much more about Harlem, New York and the importance of this time. Somehow, the book spanned America from New York to Oregon. I could tell that the author did extensive research prior to typing this book; I appreciated the many different perspectives and how they added different dimensions to already difficult subject matter. 

This book centered around two strong female characters who adapted to nearly every situation life threw at them. They worked hard and stuck to their ideals. It was easy to root for them and understand their belief systems. Alice/Nobody and Blossom took an already fantastic book to the next level. They added humor to a darker dialogue and undertone. The author took the time to extensively explore their characters and how they fit into (and don't fit into) this time. I spent time reading this book and even went back to reread certain passages I found especially crucial. This is a wonderful read for any historical fan or someone willing to read a fictitious work on an integral part in history.

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Every Moment After by Joseph Moldover

Friday, June 7, 2019

Best friends Matt and Cole grapple with their changing relationships during the summer after high school in this impactful, evocative story about growing up and moving on from a traumatic past.

Surviving was just the beginning. 

Eleven years after a shooting rocked the small town of East Ridge, New Jersey and left eighteen first graders in their classroom dead, survivors and recent high school graduates Matt Simpson and Cole Hewitt are still navigating their guilt and trying to move beyond the shadow of their town's grief. Will Cole and Matt ever be able to truly leave the ghosts of East Ridge behind? Do they even want to? 

As they grapple with changing relationships, falling in love, and growing apart, these two friends must face the question of how to move on—and truly begin living.

Goodreads Summary

I loved receiving this book because I enjoy books that are about current political and social events. I enjoyed that the author handled the topic sensitively and gently while still allowing reality to play a role.  One boy stayed home during the shooting and the other has no memory of it occurring. There aren't too many books concerning male friendships and I've always found that a shame. Matt and Cole are the main protagonists and two best friends. They've supported each other through growing up and many difficult times. When life inevitably pulls them in opposite directions they struggle with the idea of letting go. There were many poignant events that tugged on my heartstrings and made me wish that we could freeze our lives at one moment where we are happiest.

I liked the acknowledgement of mental illness and diabetes in this novel. Although both conditions affect so many people, I rarely find them a focus of any level in a young adult/teen book. I liked how the boys weren't perfect and both had their own struggles. In my line of work, it is rare to see people handling health conditions ideally (it's just difficult). I loved that they leaned on each other and were a stabilizing force in each others' lives. The ending was more or less what I expected, but still a reminder of what is to come for all of us. Not everything can stay the same. I love this author's writing style and realistic take on sad events.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Sunday, June 2, 2019
In this seductive follow-up to Poison Princess, #1 New York Timesbestselling author Kresley Cole takes us deeper into the dark world of the Arcana Chronicles.

Evie has fully come into her powers as the tarot Empress. And Jack was there to see it all. In the aftermath of killing Arthur, Evie realizes that there is a war brewing between the teens who’ve been given powers following the apocalypse, and it’s kill or be killed. When Evie meets Death, the gorgeous and dangerous Endless Knight, things get even more complicated. Somehow the Empress and Death share a romantic history. One that Evie can’t remember, but Death can’t forget. Evie is drawn to Death, but in love with Jack. She is determined to discover why she’s been granted these powers, and in the process, struggles to accept her place in the prophecy that will either save the world, or destroy it.

Goodreads Summary

Kresley Cole's ability to create a world that is so fascinating I had to finish the book in a single day is mind-boggling. I love Evie and Aric together. I hate love triangles and the only way I can stand for this to work out is if Evie gets to have two husbands (right, sister wives?). Evie and Jack and Aric are the only way this well end well for me. Evie was empathetic, intelligent, and brave. I liked how the author scattered remnants of her past, horrific lives throughout the book. It was fascinating to see who Evie was and who she has the potential to become. The scenes with her and Aric were so intense and felt so real. Her gradually building up a relationship built on trust and dedication was fascinating to watch (until she practically wrecked it). I am definitely Team Aric and I rarely am team anyone. 

I love the idea of the Major Arcana and the descriptions of their powers and fights. The book went by lightening fast for me. The beginning, middle, and end had no drag and left me running to the store for the next book (somewhat literally). I was a little surprised by what Matthew and Aric revealed to Evie. Jack was not exactly the man I thought he was. I still get a bit of a bad vibe from Matthew and I wonder if he's going to one day try to destroy them all. Selena, Finn, and Lark and wonderful supporting characters. I loved the dynamic of their relationships to each other and that "fly by the seat of your pants" thing most of them have going on. I absolutely can't wait for the last in the series (better be the last) to come out!

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell

Thursday, May 23, 2019

One week. That's all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future--decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he's run away, but Jessie doesn't believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river--the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie's town who don't like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

Goodreads Summary

Changes can be both positive or negative, but when you know change is coming in the future it is always scary. Jessie and Chris are in love; Jessie is from a poor white family and Chris is a well-rounded black boy. When Chris doesn't return after a jog Jessie accuses some boys from her predominantly white town of killing him. In the meantime, she writes to him to keep him up to date on what is currently going on; she prays for his return. Unfortunately, not everything is simplistic and what it seems; as the novel wears on, Jessie is confronted with difficult realities and must modulate her reaction to them accordingly. 

Jessie's character fit the theme and the overarching tone of the novel. She came off as a bit of a pathetic defender; it was obvious that she truly loved Chris as much as possible for one in high school. Although we never feel like we truly "meet" Chris, Chris appears as the stereotypical good boy. He's smart, charismatic, handsome, and kind. I never fully connected to the characters, but I didn't mind too much since it felt like the author was trying to get a message across versus making the characters overly easy to relate to. The ending fit what I had suspected and I liked how the author handled several difficult issues (i.e. mental illness). This would be a great read on a long plane ride or  rainy day that would allow for some introspection.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Forest Queen (Mechanica 0.5) by Betsy Cornwell

Friday, May 10, 2019

When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen.

Goodreads Summary

This was a nice retelling of Robin Hood featuring Sylvie as "Robin." I liked the twist on the popular tale and the insertion of a strong female character. Sylvie rebels against her brother's cruel decisions and forceful nature. The book consisted of roughly four main characters who all had unique personalities and quirky natures. I personally only preferred Sylvie and Bird. I wished I could have connected better with John and Little Jane. Sometimes, I even confused the characters' names/roles in the story since there seemed to be such an influx of them towards the middle of the story. 

I liked the plot; I did think it could have been infused with a little more action and drama. Sylvie was a bit of a waffler instead of being purposeful. I liked how Sylvie's character was dynamic and developed over the course of the novel. She became more compassionate and self-aware instead of the "wealthy daughter" she previously was. Her brother was made into a true villain; I was a little surprised by how far the author went to make the reader hate his character. There were some tougher subjects touched upon in this book and I kind of wanted more material and more of an explanation to some of them. Overall, I enjoyed this book and consider it a light rainy day read.

 3 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2018 LIVE TO READ

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
He’s the infamous killer no man has ever been able to find.

Now it’s a girl’s turn.

Groomed to be the perfect highborn Victorian young lady, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a decidedly different plan for herself. After the loss of her beloved mother, she is determined to understand the nature of death and its workings. Trading in her embroidery needle for an autopsy scalpel, Audrey secretly apprentices in forensics. She soon gets drawn into the investigation of serial killer Jack the Ripper, but to her horror, the search for clues brings her far closer to her sheltered world than she ever thought possible.

Goodreads Summary

I loved this book. I love all things Jack the Ripper (not the killing part, but the lore and the mystery) and I loved how the author handled the mystery and combined it with a powerful and intelligent heroine. Audrey lives a bit of a double life. Although she is supposed to fit the Victorian ideal of a lady, she is in love with science, not highborn men. She prefers science and cold, hard facts over flirty smiles and pretty dresses. She chooses to learn about forensics right around the time that Jack the Ripper begins his deadly slaughter. Audrey is determined to follow the line of clues right to the killer's front door.

I enjoyed Audrey's character, overall. I liked how she rebelled against her family and society's standards for her. I liked that her uncle supported Audrey's interest in forensics when her own father wouldn't. The adventures her uncle and her went on made me want to go on adventures with my own family more (extended family). The author incorporated secrets and deception to the perfect degree. It wasn't as ridiculous as Pretty Little Liars; a story about the complicated and elusive Jack the Ripper needs a few secrets. Thomas acted as Audrey's foil; he was sardonic and had an unusual mind. Although he was handsome, his intellect and brain drew Audrey to him, not his looks. I liked how Thomas fit into the story; the developing romance did not take over the main plot, but it was a nice interlude once in a while. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Left: A Love Story by Mary Hogan

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

In this beautifully crafted novel from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of a woman who retreats into a fantasy world on New York City’s Upper West Side as she slowly loses her once whip-smart husband to dementia—perfect for fans of Still Alice.

When life falls apart, a little fantasy goes a long way… 

It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia. 

As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept. 

Poignant and beautifully crafted, Left is an unforgettable tale about life’s aching uncertainties—and a woman who discovers that somewhere between hope and reality, an unexpected future will find its way forward.

Goodreads Summary

As someone who often works with men and women afflicted with neurological disorders I found this book particularly interesting. The author executed the progress and horrible demands of dementia well. I could tell that she had done her research or, possibly, experienced this disorder with someone within her own life. The book was well-written and filled with emotion. It isn't easy to lose a loved one and stand by helplessly while he/she leaves behind a shell of his/her former self. With diseases like dementia, is it particularly hard as often there isn't too much initial physical decay. 

Fay's life changes drastically over the course of this book. It causes her to increase her commitment, think over her life with her husband, and realize the importance of living in the "now." Fay's family and friends try to assist her, but ultimately cause interference more than anything. It is hard to truly grasp how difficult it is to be a caregiver until one is put in that position. This is not usually a quick decline. With an increasing elderly population there are more and more cases of dementia/Alzheimer's/etc... This novel would be a good book to read if one is currently going through (or expects to potentially experience) this crisis. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Wild Swans by Jackie Morris

Saturday, April 27, 2019

This very beautiful and lyrical extended version of the fairy tale 'The Wild Swans' by Hans Christian Andersen is the much anticipated companion toEast of the Sun, West of the Moon. With strong characterization of the heroine and also with more rounded characterisation of the wicked stepmother than in the original version, and with delicate watercolor paintings throughout, this is both a wonderful story and delightful gift. Beautifully presented in a jacketed edition with foiled title.

Goodreads summary

This is an extended edition of a well known fairy tale and it is done very well. The illustrations are exquisite and perfectly portray the mood that this book is performing for its readers. I say performing here because there is a perfect dance between the illustrations and the well constructed story. Some people would say that when you make an extended edition of a story or movie that it can get over drawn-out and loose the readers/watchers. This is not the case here and anyone who dives in will be pleasantly surprised.

4 Stars
Reviewed by Chris

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has gone away unexpectedly and left her niece, Missy Piggle-Wiggle, in charge of the Upside-Down House and the beloved animals who live there: Lester the pig, Wag the dog, and Penelope the parrot, among others. Families in town soon realize that like her great-aunt, Missy Piggle-Wiggle has inventive cures for all sorts of childhood (mis)behavior: The Whatever Cure and the Just-a-Minute Cure, for instance. What is a stressed out parent to do? Why, call Missy Piggle-Wiggle, of course!

New York Times-bestselling author Ann Martin brings her signature warmth and comic genius to a new character. And artist Ben Hatke brings it all to life!

Goodreads Summary

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle reminds both my and my mother of our childhoods. I enjoy the books even now and love the quirky and magical cures and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's wonderful way of treating children. This book centers around Missy Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's niece. Missy has the same kind and compassionate nature with a dose of humor and a dash of quirkiness. The reader will get to know children and their families (all with unusual names ranging from Rusty to Petulance). Each family has a struggle with their children (except the perfect Lacarte's, you know!). Missy always has either a potion, word of advice, or common sense approach to help the family through the "I never said it" or chronic lateness.

This book came with a two page illustration that was absolutely stunning and showed how the upside-down house looked like complete with Wag, Lightfoot, and Penelope. I loved how Missy and Harold seemed slightly in love with each other. I hope Missy sticks around and has children of her own in follow-up books! Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was called away the entire book looking for her pirate husband, Mr. Piggle-Wiggle. I cannot recommend this book enough. I believe it can easily be enjoyed by all ages and should be part of every childhood repertoire. 

5 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen

Monday, April 15, 2019

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

Goodreads Summary

Jae reminded me of Ella from Ella Enchanted. She doesn't have magic spell cast upon her forcing her to do what her ownders dictate, but she is forced nonetheless. Jae isn't unhappy when the realm begins to fall apart. She would like to see it all go away and burn up. Unfortunately, Jae ends up finding the secret to the fresh water renewel from the Well. In her opinion, she doesn't have a hard choice. She doesn't want to step in and help a society that has kept her as a slave. Lord Elan belives that she is condemning every living creature over her anger. She decides to help if, and only if, all slaves are freed. Unfortunately, there are powerful institutions in play that will not let slavery go so easily. 

I loved Jae's character. She emodied everything I imagined she would given her horrible situation: angry, resentful, and full of rage. Jae's slavery status is due to her being a "Closest" or one who must obey the "Avowed" due to them behaving as traitors decades and decades earlier. The author spares no details about the horror and abuse the Closest face from rape to beatings. Jae and Tal, her brother, respond to the abuse differently. Neither wants to be touched, but Jae is more full of rage and Tal is tired and beaten down. I was surprised by the ending and it was a little disheartening. I liked that the author stuck to the more realistic version, but I always want happily ever afters.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Invincible by Amy Reed

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Fault in Our Stars meets Go Ask Alice in this dramatic romance about a teenage girl who survives a terminal cancer diagnosis, only to get trapped in the deadly spiral of addiction. Fans of Gayle Forman and Sara Zarr will be swept away by this gritty romance, the first in a duology.

Evie is living on borrowed time. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer several months ago and told that by now she'd be dead. Evie is grateful for every extra day she gets, but she knows that soon this disease will kill her. Until, miraculously, she may have a second chance to live.

All Evie had wanted was her life back, but now that she has it, she feels like there's no place for her in it—at least, not for the girl she is now. Her friends and her parents still see her as Cancer Girl, and her boyfriend's constant, doting attention is suddenly nothing short of suffocating.

Then Evie meets Marcus. She knows that he's trouble, but she can't help falling for him. Being near him makes her feel truly, fully alive. It's better than a drug. His kiss makes her feel invincible—but she may be at the beginning of the biggest free fall of her life.

Goodreads Summary

Evie used to be a cheerleader; she used to love doing stunts and spending time with her boyfriend, Will. Now, she is known as Cancer Patient to all those that do not understand. She has friends in the hospital, Stella and Caleb, who understand what she has gone through. They all know that their friendship may not be permanent as their diagnoses may be terminal. When Evie receives a sudden reprieve right when Stella is dealt a hard blow, Evie reacts to her newfound health by acting out and nearly destroying it.

Evie's character annoyed the heck out of me. I understand that she was a cancer patient, I understand that her life was hard, but she really overplayed the "I can do what I want" card once she was healthy. She gets into drugs (partially due to Stella) and finds herself with "a bad boy." Her parents, friends, and caring boyfriend are worried. Her character and the "too stupid to live" decisions she made really wrecked a good plot-line for me. I'm pretty character driven; it is difficult to care too much about a book once I've checked out of caring for the characters. I may give the next book a try though.

3 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Kiss Cam by Kiara London

Thursday, March 28, 2019

In Kiss Cam, teen author Kiara London asks, what's a little harmless kissing between friends?

Juniper, Jasper, and Lenny have been friends forever and co-own a vlog channel called WereVloggingHere. Their fans are huge "shippers" who believe that Juniper and Jasper are perfect for each other, and, despite warnings from friends and family, a simple Truth-or-Dare inspired kiss soon spirals out of control into a whole new world of making out and surprise kisses.

Juniper and Jasper's relationship begins to shift. But as fan requests for different "Kiss Cam" segments keep pouring in, Juniper puts her worries aside and convinces herself that it doesn't mean anything. After all, it's just kissing… right?

Goodreads Summary

Whenever you try to convince yourself that kissing doesn't mean anything...well, it might work for some people (not for me) and I already knew where this story was going. Juniper, Jasper, and Lenny are vloggers; having a life in front of the camera means that people start to think that they can have many opinions. One of the opinions centralized around Juniper and Jasper. According to fans, they are meant to be. Indulging their fans means kissing each other and pretending that it doesn't mean anything in person, but will feelings get in the way?

Jasper is not the easiest person to resist. He is handsome, charismatic, and built (for many teens, this sounds like the jackpot). Juniper is a little hesitant. She doesn't want to take the chance of wrecking a very good friendship. Their friends Lenny and Allison offer good advice to them and they all provide comedic relief. I liked Juniper's character the most. The ending did not surprise me. It was a sweet young adult/teen read.

3 1/2 Stars

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Beast by Brie Spangler

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Goodreads Summary

I still don't know what to think of this book. I don't think it had a lot of Beauty and the Beast in the plot which was sad for me because that was a huge selling point. The author toed the line in several circumstances of transforming our fun, spunky trans character into a character whose most defining characteristic is her gender. I would have liked Jamie's character with or without the trans addition. She was a foil for Dylan, who needed her down-to-earth rationality and good sense of humor to get through high school. Dylan's character experienced gender dysphoria. His appearance, tenor of his voice, muscular frame, etc...all make people view him a certain way and he isn't comfortable with how they view him. He isn't sure if he fits the mold of what people expect.

I liked Dylan's character generally, but I was happy that his plot-line didn't take over or cast a shadow on Jamie's. The book followed a fairly predictable plot and ending. I wouldn't have minded more of the premise the book promises in the summary actually in the book. I generally liked the author's tone and way of writing. This book would be ideal for young adult/adult readers.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

Goodreads Summary

I can't imagine what it would be like to find out that my parents' lives were a lie. It's made worse for the main character, Owen, who lives in a small town with many whispers.  His mom and he have to deal with his father's web of lies and a completely new lifestyle. The author captures the palpable tension and undercurrent of wariness perfectly. Owen is a well-written character who will instantly capture the readers' sympathies. I wish I knew an Owen in real life. He reminded me of the prototypical gentleman. His love for his mother and even for his father (despite his betrayal) was endearing. I liked his commitment to candor and dedication to family/friends. The other characters in the novel were intriguing, but I didn't find any as memorable as Owen. There haven't been many books in young adult fiction that focused on a young man's relationship with his mother and portrayed it so healthfully. 

I like a good mystery and the author was very good at creating one. The novel's title truly fit the plot of the book. Although it may sound trite and like the character Dr. House from a sitcom, everybody lies. I liked the cadence of the writing style and the quick pace of the plot. The author is very descriptive with the setting and characters to the point where I could picture many scenes from the book. I think the ending will stick with me for a while.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

738 Days by Stacey Kade

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

Goodreads Summary

Amanda Grace is hailed as the Miracle Girl. She survived for years being sexually and physically abused by her creepy bus driver. She managed to escape by alerting a worker who had come to the creepy man's house to fix something. Chase Henry has hit rock bottom. Struggling to get his acting career back on track while also struggling with his alcohol addiction, he certainly is the not person Amanda thought of when she tried to mentally escape from her cell. Chase Henry represented a familiar sight to Amanda (he was from a teen T.V. show). When Chase's publicist cooks up a plan to make Chase back into Miracle Girl's Hero...well, we all know things are going to go wrong.

I loved Amanda's character. I do think she fairly accurately represented PTSD; I did wish she would try to be a little more brave. She pushed through her fears to acknowledge her attraction to Chase. Chase was more self-serving in the beginning, but I could tell (and was right) that he was an overall good guy who did not want to use Amanda for his own purposes. The supporting characters fit perfectly into the novel by providing background and pushing the plot along. I loved how the author pulled the book together; she made it looks easy, but I'm sure it took quite a while figuring out how all the pieces would best fit together. The romance was intense and sweet. I loved that the author did not bring in a love triangle and merely focused on Chase and Amanda's relationship.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Midnight Hour by C.C. Hunter

Sunday, February 10, 2019
After captivating millions across the globe, the Shadow Falls saga reaches its final—and most unforgettable—chapter yet! Prepare to fall in love all over again...

Being a dyslexic witch is a curse in itself, but Miranda Kane’s time at Shadow Falls has helped her harness her magical powers. Now, just as she’s finally mastered them and is preparing to graduate with her friends, a near-death experience threatens to ruin it all.

Miranda awakens in the hospital with a mysterious tattoo that no one can explain. As she struggles to make sense of it – and questions her feelings for a certain irresistible shape-shifter and a hot new guy – the strange markings begin to spread all over her body, leaving her desperate to find answers. But before she can solve that problem, a new one arises: her sister is missing.

Has her sister been kidnapped? Miranda will risk her life to find out. Will she live to share the day she’s worked so hard for with her friends? When the clock strikes midnight, will Miranda make it to her graduation at Shadow Falls?

C.C. Hunter brings The Shadow Falls saga to a spectacular conclusion in this thrilling finale: Midnight Hour!

Goodreads Summary

Miranda is a witch with a death wish (not really, but she gets one anyway). She finds herself in the hospital after an enduring experience that threatens to wreck her graduation plans. She notices an odd tattoo that she knows she did not personally okay. Then she discovers her sister missing and all heck breaks loose. Two men step up to involve themselves (warning: love triangle approaching) and romance winds itself between the mysteries of the tattoo and missing sister.

Miranda was a lot of fun to read about. I loved how the author incorporated dyslexia into Miranda's overall character without letting the disability overpower her. Miranda is a girl who just wants to graduate. She's easy to root for. I hate love triangles and that part of the book wasn't the most fun to read, but I liked how the author deftly handled the strife between the two men and the intensity Miranda experienced being around both of them. I have always enjoyed C.C. Hunter's writing and will continue to!

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ