Review of Ever After by Aya Ling

Ever After
Unfinished Fairy Tales 3
By Aya Ling

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 455

Date Started: May 20, 2017
Date Finished: May 21, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Kat has survived. She returns to Athelia as herself, Katherine Wilson. Edward, elated at learning she is alive, vows to bring her back to the palace. The obstacles, however, seem impossible to overcome. Marriage between a royal and a commoner is not recognized, not to mention that he is already legally bound to Katriona Bradshaw, who will do anything to keep her position as princess.

And there’s even more to worry about. Due to an uncommonly harsh winter, the people of Athelia have been suffering from inflated food prices, and are getting irritated at supporting the small, elite group of aristocrats. An uprising in a neighboring country only adds fuel to the fire.

Can Kat and Edward finally get a happily-ever-after?

Review:
I absolutely loved learning what Kat’s life was like when she ended up back in America, after having been in Athelia for 8 months of modern world time. Learning that another had visited the same place, the same people, though years and years before, was enlightening and wonderful, artfully tied together and perfectly executed. All of the “surrogate” family members in this novel were lovely, and relatable.

There are times where it’s completely uncertain whether or not Kat and Edward will get their happily ever after. Katriona makes no attempt to understand Kat, and believes she is owed being a princess after her ordeals because of Kat’s sudden entrance in their world. Kat’s standing as a commoner is also problematic– especially when Bianca is still out to destroy her.

I absolutely adore Kat’s relationship with Edward’s mother. While they have more in common than meets the eye, it’s clear that she supports her son in whatever makes him happy, and that if he loves Kat, she does too.

Having a role reversal towards the end made me quite happy, because while Athelia is still stuck in the past, it is Kat’s modernity that likely attracted Edward in the first place. Her ability to take care of herself, understand concepts that many of us (male and female) would find common place, and adapt to her situation is refreshing.

While I did quite enjoy this series, this book really should have had a copy editor. There were multiple times when sentences didn’t read right, usually because the phrasing was slightly off, or because the wrong word was used. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed this series!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.
She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com
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Review of Soul Symmetry by J. L. Weil

Soul Symmetry
Book 3 in The Raven Series
By J. L. Weil

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 278

Date Started: May 18, 2017
Date Finished: May 20, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
A BANSHEE.
A DEATH REAPER.
LOVE TRANSCENDING.

War is coming. The veil between the living and the dead no longer exists. Evil is running rampant and the universe’s symmetry balances on my fingertips. No big deal. Of course, nobody knows how or when the hallows will strike, or who among us is a traitor.

Hordes of vengeful spirits are multiplying by the minute, closing in ranks. Zane is poised to strike, but it’s going to take more than his killer instincts, more than swords and shadows to vanquish the hallows back where they belong. Stakes are higher than ever, yet I am determined to protect those I care about—to save the world.

Restoring the veil isn’t as easy as a snap of my fingertips. Nothing worth fighting for ever is. Friendship and loyalties are tested to the limit, sacrifices of unimaginable proportions are made, but in the end, all that matters is whether I succeed or fail.

Review:
Worrying about personal relationships when the world as we know it might be completely in jeopardy is a very immature thing to do, yet our protagonists are quite young, and so it is believable.

I could not help but wonder, with all of the power that Piper had, why she wouldn’t have simply taken out the threat that seemed far too obvious in causing all the mischief in the first place. She could have called the person forward and fought BEFORE all of the vengeful spirits appeared.

While predictable, this book series is exactly the sort of series most teenagers will love to read. In the end, despite being foreseeable and cliched, the complete story was alright overall. I enjoyed the ending, although I thought that the timing was perhaps a bit rushed.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
USA TODAY Bestselling author J.L. Weil lives in Illinois where she writes Teen & New Adult Paranormal Romances about spunky, smart mouth girls who always wind up in dire situations. For every sassy girl, there is an equally mouthwatering, overprotective guy. Of course, there is lots of kissing. And stuff.

An admitted addict to Love Pink clothes, raspberry mochas from Starbucks, and Jensen Ackles. She loves gushing about books and Supernatural with her readers.

She is the author of the International Bestselling Raven & Divisa series.
http://www.jlweil.com

Review of Black Crow by J. L. Weil

Black Crow
Book 2 in The Raven Series
By J. L. Weil

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 285

Date Started: May 16, 2017
Date Finished: May 18, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
I’VE LOST SO MUCH.
FAMILY. MY HOME.
PRIDE. MY IDENTITY.

And I couldn’t help but feel it’s entirely my fault. There is no one else to blame.

I’ve quickly learned that being the White Raven isn’t easy. The dead are restless and angry, and I don’t know the first thing about being a banshee. Those around me will get hurt. To keep them safe, I must endure painful decisions.

Zane Hunter, the ultra-bad boy who stole my heart, is one of those difficult decisions. Our souls are synchronized, making us a compatible duo. Too bad I’m engaged to his brother.

My forbidden relationship with Zane is complicated. Deep down I want more than what my duty demands of me, what my family’s past has shaped for me.

Our problematic relationship only increases in tenfold when a surprise I never saw coming shows up in Raven Hallow, changing the game. I thought I had nothing left to lose…I was wrong.

Yeah, being a banshee isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Review:
Sacrifice. All heroes require sacrifice. Unfortunately, Piper seems to keep getting the short end of the stick in that regard.  Though mostly expected, it was still unpleasant dealing with all of the turmoil on top of the first book’s loss–perhaps something that should have been expected when the book is about ravens, which often symbolize death.

Unfortunately I found most of our star crossed lovers’ issues to be unoriginal and somewhat expected.

Despite the still odd phrases used at times, and my own insight about how the plot would turn out in the end, I still planned to read the the finale, which will be addressed in my next post.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
USA TODAY Bestselling author J.L. Weil lives in Illinois where she writes Teen & New Adult Paranormal Romances about spunky, smart mouth girls who always wind up in dire situations. For every sassy girl, there is an equally mouthwatering, overprotective guy. Of course, there is lots of kissing. And stuff.

An admitted addict to Love Pink clothes, raspberry mochas from Starbucks, and Jensen Ackles. She loves gushing about books and Supernatural with her readers.

She is the author of the International Bestselling Raven & Divisa series.
http://www.jlweil.com

Review of White Raven by J. L. Weil

White Raven
Book 1 in The Raven Series
By J. L. Weil

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 291

Date Started: May 13, 2017
Date Finished: May 16, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
DREADFUL LIES.
UNEXPECTED LOVE.
IMPOSSIBLE TRUTH.

It only took one heartbeat to change my life–one chilling phone call in the middle of the night.

And then, as if my life didn’t already suck, my dad sends my brother and me to some idyllic island for the summer to live with a grandma we never met. WTH. Naturally, I rebel. In the end, I find myself shipped off to Raven Hollow…and bored to tears.

Until I get an eyeful of the mind-bendingly gorgeous Zane Hunter. The dark-hair cutie makes my pulse go bonkers, and I think, maybe this might not be so bad after all. Six feet of swoon inducing looks, with a hint of Celtic charm in his voice, he was the type of guy that left a string of broken hearts in his wake. And I had all the heartbreak I could handle.

Yet, there is something uncanny, almost supernatural about Zane, and it’s not just his devastating smirk. No matter how much distance I put between us, Raven Hollow isn’t big enough, and the sparking tension between is undeniable. Of course, the one person I want to avoid becomes my salvation.

My past comes back to terrorize me. Someone wants me dead, and the closer I get to the truth, the more I realize my whole life is a lie. I am no longer sure what is more frightening–the attempts on my life or the guy whose heart and soul are synchronized with mine.

Review:
Concept seemed good. Writing was… interesting, to say the least. I did like the story, and do intend to read the rest of the series, but there were a lot of little things that could have been done better.

The voice used to write this novel was… unique, but I’m unsure if that’s a good thing. Piper, the main character and narrator, uses language similar to what you’d hear from most teenagers, except in some instances where she uses really odd phrases I’m not sure have ever been used before (and I rather hope they aren’t used again).

Having two people who don’t necessarily get along, yet feel instantly connected, be fated to be together–or connected, at least, is quite cliche. One could say the same about the connection between Zander and Piper.

I was super excited when Piper began to notice something different about some people, but the reveal was not the angle I had expected, and I was rather disappointed. While some reference to pop culture, such as the show Supernatural, and the mention of manga was nice, it seemed in some ways like this was a hodgepodge of various fandom related things the author liked put together, mentioned too often to be a mere coincidence.

Despite the things I personally felt detracted from the overall story, I found it interesting overall, and want to know what happens next.

 

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
USA TODAY Bestselling author J.L. Weil lives in Illinois where she writes Teen & New Adult Paranormal Romances about spunky, smart mouth girls who always wind up in dire situations. For every sassy girl, there is an equally mouthwatering, overprotective guy. Of course, there is lots of kissing. And stuff.

An admitted addict to Love Pink clothes, raspberry mochas from Starbucks, and Jensen Ackles. She loves gushing about books and Supernatural with her readers.

She is the author of the International Bestselling Raven & Divisa series.
http://www.jlweil.com

Review of The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Dragon Heir
Heir Chronicles Book 3
By Cinda Williams Chima

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/YA Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 528

Date Started: May 4, 2017
Date Finished: May 11, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack. Everyone is doing their part — Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls; Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army; even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town’s perimeter. But to Jason Haley, it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action. He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he’s prepared to fight for his friends. When Jason finds a powerful talisman –a huge opal called the Dragonheart–buried in a cave, his role takes on new importance. The stone seems to sing to Jason’s very soul — showing him that he is meant for more than anyone guessed. Trinity’s guardians take the stone away after they realize that it may be a weapon powerful enough to save them all. Without any significant power of his own, and now without the stone, what can Jason possibly do to help the people he cares about — and to prove his mettle?

Review:
Premonitions can be such a … pain. At least, that’s what we learn as we read this book. Unfortunately, there is far more to this story than the synopsis leads one to believe, and I found the synopsis was quite a bit misleading, in my opinion.

Perhaps I became too attached, but I absolutely was devastated towards the end of the novel. The writing was still good, quite up to par with The Wizard Heir, but I had expected the novel to be about quite a different tale than what I found. While the story itself was still good, I felt that the characters shifted far too quickly and roughly, and that in some instances the stakes didn’t seem real, their problems too easily defeated.

It was quite hard to believe that Linda and Leander simply… left. For two people who are supposed to be brilliant masterminds, their parenting leaves much to be desired.

I do still want to read the rest of the series, but my eyes have been opened to what could potentially be in store, so perhaps I’ll look at it with the eyes of a pessimist, expecting what can go wrong just might.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima began writing romance novels in middle school, which were often confiscated by her teachers. Her Heir Chronicles young adult contemporary fantasy series includes The Warrior Heir (2006), The Wizard Heir (2007), The Dragon Heir (2008), The Enchanter Heir (2013) and The Sorcerer Heir (2014) all from Hyperion.

Chima’s YA high fantasy Seven Realms series launched with The Demon King (2009), followed by The Exiled Queen (September, 2010) The Gray Wolf Throne (2011) and The Crimson Crown (2012.)

Chima’s latest series, The Shattered Realms, (HarperTeen) is set in the Seven Realms world, and features a new generation of characters. It includes Flamecaster and Shadowcaster (April 2017) with two more coming.

Chima’s books have received starred reviews in Kirkus and VOYA, among others. They have been named Booksense and Indie Next picks, an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice, to the Kirkus Best YA list, and the VOYA Editors’ Choice, Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and Perfect Tens lists.
Chima lives in Ohio with her family, and is always working on her next novel.

Review of No Escape by Norah McClintock

No Escape
Chloe and Levesque Mysteries
By Norah McClintock

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA Mystery

Number of Pages: 235

Date Started: April 30, 2017
Date Finished: April 30, 2017

Synopsis: (From Back of Book)
When Caleb Darke is released from prison, nobody in town wants him back. Nobody will even give him a chance–except Chloe. She’s sure he didn’t commit the crime he was convicted of.

The trouble is, how is she going to prove it? And if Caleb didn’t do it, who did? Because that person is going to do everything possible to keep Chloe from finding out…

Review:
I was completely hooked from the first line of this book. I loved that Chloe believed there was a mystery while everyone else thought the mystery was long past solved. The characters were well developed and had deep motivations. While I had figured out part of one of the mysteries involved, I was completely wrong and had no idea about the second, which I quite enjoyed.

I’d definitely recommend this book.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Norah McClintock has won an unprecedented five Arthur Ellis Awards for Crime Fiction for Mistaken Identity, The Body in the Basement, Sins of the Father, Scared to Death and Break and Enter. McClintock has also been nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for her non-fiction title Body, Crime, Suspect; No Escape was nominated for the White Pine Award; and Hit and Run was nominated for the Red Maple Award in 2004.