Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: "Roar" by Cora Carmack

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them. Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people. To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters. Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Thanks to MacMillan-Tor/Forge for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this book is one of my top YA fantasy reads ever! I'm not an expert in this category by any means, I'd say I'm still pretty new to the genre, and I have not even read the Harry Potter series, (how's that for a ringing endorsement!) But this book really captured my imagination and kept me enthralled from beginning to end, and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next installment!

World building - fantastic! Characters - also fantastic! Pacing and action - perfect! Steam level - holy smokin' bonfires! (Actually, if you're in the position of being a parent, wondering whether this book would be an appropriate read for your child, I would consider this upper YA, maybe closer to NA. I would not want my 12 year-old daughter reading it, for example. Maybe when she's fifteen or so!) "Roar" has really got everything I'm looking for in order to bestow a five star rating. I finished it months ago, and I still remember certain plot elements and the things that I felt while reading as if it was yesterday. I'll keep this review short and sweet, because honestly, the best thing to do is just read it - and then recommend it to all your friends! And then wait on pins and needles for the sequel! 

My rating: 5 stars!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: "To Love and to Cherish" by Lauren Layne

Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, a contemporary and witty romance series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own. Alexis Morgan has spent the past six years devoted to turning her tiny start-up into Manhattan’s premiere wedding planning company, The Wedding Belles. Now that her business is thriving, it’s time to turn towards her much neglected personal life, and Alexis approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not a part of that plan is Logan Harris, the silent partner in the Belles, and the one person who’s been there for her since the very beginning. But Alexis needs someone fun, and Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with an unexpected kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling. Logan has lusted after Alexis since the day he walked into the tiny Harlem apartment that used to double as her office. But the ambitious wedding planner has always been untouchable...until now. Alexis has made it clear that she’s on the dating market—and equally clear that he’s not in the running. But when Alexis finds herself in need of a date for her sister’s last minute wedding in Florida, Logan knows it’s the perfect time to show Alexis that there’s more to him than numbers and spreadsheets—and beneath the pinstripes and glasses lies a hot-blooded heartthrob. As Florida’s sultry days turn into even hotter nights, Logan’s out to convince Alexis that the fling of a lifetime could just maybe turn into forever...
Thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
After reading and enjoying several Lauren Layne books, including the second book in the Wedding Belles series, "For Better or Worse", I was pretty excited to get my hands on "To Love and to Cherish". Unfortunately, this final book in the trio did not quite live up to my expectations. 

Here's the thing: Alexis and Logan just didn't do it for me. Alexis was boring, and Logan wasn't really much better. Friends-to-lovers romances can be sooooo good when they're done right, but aside from a teeny bit of palpable sexual tension in the prologue, I just wasn't feeling the connection between these two. Even their eight year friendship felt stilted! The took way too long to build up any steam in this couple, and I ended up being slightly bored. I could understand why Alexis was hesitant to start anything with Logan, given her history, but come on! Eight years is insane!  And Logan was a sucker for hanging around that long without giving her any indication that he was interested in more than friendship. In the end, I didn't really care if they got together or not, and that is the worst! When I'm reading a romance, I want to feel like I could be friends with the characters and that my life will never be the same if they don't get their happily ever after.  If I don't feel these things, then the book will be less than successful for me.

I'm still giving this book three stars, though, because the writing was good and I enjoyed seeing more from the other couples in this series. I will definitely still read more from Lauren Layne in the future, too, because I usually enjoy her writing style, characters, and plot development. It's just too bad that "To Love and to Cherish" didn't hit all the right notes for me.

My rating: 3 stars