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.

Review of Troll by Ashley C. Harris

Troll
Book 1 of 2 in Troll
By Ashley C. Harris

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 482

Date Started: April 29, 2017
Date Finished: April 30, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
At the age of sixteen, Abby is undergoing major household changes. Her mom is getting ready to remarry and her new step-brother is driving her insane. She is just trying to keep herself busy with school and her part-time job when a most deliciously handsome stranger moves to her little seaside town and won’t leave her alone.

New arrival Wilhelm is unlike any other student at Abby’s school. His emerald eyes and tattooed body don’t truly reveal what he really is: a creature emerged from thousands of miles underground, seeking revenge, treasure, and a key that once belonged to an old enemy – a key Abby wears suspended from a chain around her neck. Why she has it is a mystery that Wilhelm will need to solve, and fast, in order to defeat a powerful mortal adversary.

As an attraction between Abby and Wilhelm develops, more creatures like Wilhelm are drawn from beneath the ground to Abby’s town; wreaking havoc as they offer Abby’s classmates the fulfillment of their deepest desires. Will Abby and her new family survive as a game of magical warfare is unleashed? Her ability to reverse Wilhelm’s bargain depends on it.

Review:
I really enjoyed this book. It was quite original, and fairly deep with interlocking past and present pieces. It’s impossible not to love Abby, our fantastic and down to earth heroine who refuses to believe that anything so outlandish and supernatural could be anything but a dream.

I quite liked Harris’s interpretation of trolls, and I especially like how they are born. The use of jewels was quite ingenious and ties in well with the old treasure trolls people that grew up in the 90s remember. I enjoyed the trolls having magical powers of persuasion, being able to manipulate earthen things to resemble what someone wants most.

The one thing that I really disliked about this novel, and almost caused me to drop down the star rating to a three, was that there were many errors that could have and should have been caught by an editor. Usually it was merely a dropped word, but in a few cases the wrong word was used. If it had been one or two, it wouldn’t have detracted from the novel, yet this was often enough that I had to keep pushing through because I needed to know what happened next, even though I kept being jarred from the story.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Florida. Ashley was first recognized for her edgy writing and unique film work when she wrote and directed the teenage film “Lines”. Lines was the first feature film in the world captured using only Mac Laptops.
In 2013 she teamed up with Barclay Publicity to release the first in a new young adult novel series, “Shock Me”. Ashley then went on to author eight other titles, in multiple genres, as she also worked behind-the-scenes on a morning news show that aired on ABC. In 2014, four of Ashley’s books landed on the Amazon’s Best Selling Top-Ten-List. In 2015, she received her first publishing deal for “Troll”, a KindleScout novel winner.When Ashley is not dreaming up new manuscripts and working on film sets, she loves spending time with her family, obsessing about biblical mysteries, and watching lots of Doctor Who. Keep an eye out for her newest releases!

Review of Twice Upon a Time by Aya Ling

Twice Upon a Time
Unfinished Fairy Tales 2
By Aya Ling

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 462

Date Started: April 27, 2017
Date Finished: April 29, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Seven years have passed since Kat left Athelia. Through the intervention of the goblin king’s baby daughter, the book is re-opened and Kat is transported back to Story World. Upon learning she is given a second chance, Edward is determined not to let her go this time. His chance of succeeding, however, seems like nil. Kat doesn’t remember anything of their past, she loathes life at court, and she’s anxious to return to the modern world. Not to mention that there’s a price to pay for tampering with the book again…

Review:
Half of the book was stupendous, where we anxiously sit on the edge of our seats, wanting nothing more than for Kat to remember who she was, and to be happy finally being with Edward again. While Edward and Kat anxiously fight to have their happily ever after, having gotten to know each other deeply, Bianca threatens to spoil everything for them.

Edward and Kat worked together to lead a new life for the people of Athelia, based greatly upon Kat’s views of modern day American society. Through working together, and getting to know how the other things, and their interests, they became far more intimate than they had in the previous full length novel, something I had mentioned wanting to see. Although I really liked the opening of the novel, it seemed quite harsh to leave Kat and Edward as they were in the end.

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