ARC Review: Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James


Author: Vic James
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Format: ARC
Page Length: 368 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

This book has caught me completely by surprise. The summary is intriguing enough, but way to go for a story that was going along nicely at a very steady pace to be a HOLY HECK I NEED THE SECOND BOOK NOW. The story escalated very quickly and this book is already one of my 2017 favorites.  Continue reading


ARC Review: Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller


Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 320 pages (Hardcover)
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

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A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

NOTE: This is kind of weird, but I feel like this review should come with a disclaimer? I wrote this review right after I finished reading the book back in November. And overall, I loved it. BUT. There is one chapter in particular in the e-ARC that I do not like, for reasons I’ve listed at the end of this review. As someone who wants to read more inclusive LGBTQ books, I did find that this book (in the ARC version at least) does have something worth pointing out. That said, this review is a bit all over the place.

NOTE2: I have checked the final copy of this book and yes, this book still includes the problematic issue regarding an LGBTQ character, so I will be rating this down to 2 stars.

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Review: Wayfarer (Passenger #2) by Alexandra Bracken


Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Page Length: 532 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

Do you ever just keep put off reading a book because you didn’t want the story to end? Wayfarer was definitely that book for me. I kept starting it, went off to read other books entirely, and then coming back to this in pieces. I simply adore Etta and Nicholas and fell in love with Passenger, and I didn’t want their story to end.

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Review: Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken


Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Page Length: 496 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

Passenger is just one of my all-time favorite books. So far, it is the only book that I have ever liked that has involved time-traveling. I don’t even enjoy movies with time-traveling, so…yes, that does include a certain popular movie (don’t kill me), and sequels, that I’ve watched but wouldn’t say I liked. I loved this book when I first read it last year, and I loved it even more upon my re-read. So, before I post up my review of Wayfarer, here’s my review I posted for Passenger last year on Goodreads. It’s also very short and sweet because this is part of my very first reviews ever on Goodreads (there might have been one or two before this one, but they weren’t as rambling as they are now ^^).

The following review was originally published on Goodreads January 20, 2016.

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Review: Trust the Focus (In Focus #1) by Megan Erickson


Author: Megan Erickson
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 222 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

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With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.

As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.

But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.

Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.

Can I just melt in a puddle of happiness? I’m not used to reading sweet NA books, but this is just the sweetest, adorable NA book I’ve ever read? The book is emotionally raw and feels realistic, and I love this romance so much! The friends-to-lover trope isn’t usually the kind of book I wind up reading because it always seems like we’re missing the backstory  before the friends fall in love. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. Megan manages to create these moments where you get the feeling of really knowing the characters and not feeling like you’ve been left out of the friendship bonding stage.

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Review: Nothing Like Paris (Bend or Break #2) by Amy Jo Cousins


Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 245 pages
My Rating: 1 / 5 stars

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Humble pie wasn’t supposed to taste this sweet.

Jack Tarkington’s life is in the toilet. He was supposed to be spending his junior year studying someplace cool like Paris or Rome. Instead, after taking out his anger on the campus “golden boy”, whose dad ripped off his parents, Jack is facing possible expulsion.

Sure, it’s all his own fault, but coming back to the small Iowa town he thought he’d escaped, after crowing about his admission to a prestigious school, has been a humbling experience.

When he runs into Miguel, Jack braces for backlash over the way he lorded it over his old friend and flame. Instead, Miguel offers him friendship—and a job at his growing farm-to-table store and café.

Against the odds, both guys bond over broken dreams and find common ground in music. But when Jack’s college gives him a second chance, he’s torn between achieving a dream that will take him far from home, and a love that strikes a chord he’ll never find anywhere else.

I was wondering if I could like this book, because Jack was such a bully in the first book, Off Campus, that I didn’t know if I wanted to read his redemption story. It made sense, I suppose, that Jack lashed out at the kid whose father had ripped off his family, but reading about a bully wasn’t high on my priority list.

Turns out, after reading Nothing Like Paris, I kind of liked Jack? He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but it makes sense. His dreams of Paris have been dashed away with no way to afford a study abroad program, he got suspended from college and now has to go back home to his small town in Iowa, and he has to deal with an alcoholic mother at home. He’s not exactly in a great place. It certainly doesn’t excuse how he treated Tom when Tom was terrified of seeing him around campus, but fine. Jack gets his own book. His one bright spot from his past is Mike (Jack calls him Miguel, but I’ll go into that later). Mike was his best friend, his high school love, and Jack had been the one to leave while Mike was the one who chose to stay.

There were some golden nuggets throughout the story that kept me invested enough to finish reading, but this is a book that I had many issues with. I’ll just get this out of the way…This is not an #ownvoices review. I am neither Latino nor identify as a lesbian, but I feel like I should point some things out about about this story that just rubbed me the wrong way as I was reading it. There might be people who disagree with me, so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments. This book has a fair number of reviews for it on multiple sites, but I haven’t seen any of this brought up for this book, so here are my thoughts on the story.

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Review: Off Campus (Bend or Break #1) by Amy Jo Cousins


Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 317 pages
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

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Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

I am not usually this conflicted about a book and what to rate it. This is my first Amy Jo Cousins book. On the one hand, I loved the story. But on the other, there’s all this problematic stuff that happens and I’m all nooooooooo WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS. So, I’m just going for a 3-star rating on this one, since I can’t even decide if I love this book or not.

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