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Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne


Solu's luxurious celebrity-filled Cruise to Lose is billed as "the best cruise since the Titanic," and if the new diet sweetener works as promised - dropping five percent of a person's body weight in just days - it really could be the answer to the world's obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She's already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.


Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his childhood "Baby-Tom-Tom" image. His publicists have even set up a "romance" with a sexy reality-TV star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.

4 Stars

Sweet was my first TBR Jar pick. It wasn't a book I would have picked up this month so I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much (I typically read scary/horror/gory books in the fall/winter). Sweet was equal parts horror and trendy. An odd combinations for sure, but it totally works. The writing isn't perfect but the story was highly entertaining and made up for it. The romance was totally predictable, but I just didn't care. The story moved at a steady pace and the gore was extremely satisfying. Emmy Laybourne doesn't hold back, y'all!

The concept of an artificial sweetener turning people into rabid addicts was morbidly fascinating but also hit close to home considering how diet-obsessed our society is. And let's not forget about that bath salts craze that turned users rabid. 

As far as I've been able to find, there is no sequel which is a bummer because the ending is wide open for one. I really want a sequel! Ms. Laybourne has another trilogy published, Monument 14, which I own and will definitely be picking up in the near future. 

Twitter: @declarefangirl
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: Lexicon by Max Barry

Stick and stones break bones. Words kill.

They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words.

They'll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember.

Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.

There's a word, they say. A word that kills.

And they want it back . . . 

3 Stars

My feelings about this book are all over the place. It starts off with a bang and I couldn't put it down for a couple of chapters. 

Who were these men? Why did they put a needle in Wil's eye? Who the hell is chasing Wil & these strange men? Who is Wil supposed to trust? 

You see what I mean? Confusing but just enough intrigue to keep me reading for a while. By page 53 I was exhausted. I put Lexicon down & read a different book (Sweet by Emmy Laybourne), not knowing if I would DNF it or not. 

By the time I finished Sweet, I found myself wondering about Lexicon and poets and "barewords," so I decided to pick it up again. At first I was glad I gave it another chance, but then I got to the last 5 chapters or so. By then, I was so confused & mentally exhausted again. The climax of the story just kept going and going and going and going...then BOOM. 

The end.

Like, huh? What?!

There were plot twists all over the place too. Just when I thought I understood what was happening & who was who...  BAM! Plot twist. One or two plot twists is awesome, but Lexicon had so many that it made me dizzy. 

I'm honestly not sure if I would recommend  Lexicon to anyone but I'm positive I will never reread it. 

Twitter: @declarefangirl
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Raven by Stacey Rourke

Book 2 of The Legends Saga

Pick up book 1 here:

An infamous love, destined nevermore,

For death could not claim, the enchanting Lenore.

Cursed by the malevolent spirit of the Headless Horseman, Ireland Crane ventures to Manhattan in search of a way to break her soul crushing bond. Instead, she discovers the lines between fact and fiction are blurring once more. Croaking ravens. Telltale hearts. Could the works of Poe be coming to pass with handsome Wall Street Midas Ridley Peolte as their unwilling target?

She walks the Earth, a plague on mankind,
searching for he, her rotted heart doth pine.

Together, the two unknowingly release a dark force death itself could not tame. Surrounded by the unrelenting violence and mayhem they’ve unleashed, Ireland feels her control over the Horseman slipping. Before the beast within consumes her, she and her crew must follow the clues of the dead to right a centuries’ old wrong. Will it be enough to sate the Horseman’s appetite?

Hell hath no fury like a ghoul scorned.

Raven is book 2 in The Legends Saga with Crane being the first book. I am a huge sucker for retellings, but The Legends Saga stands apart from all the others because they are based on DARK tales. Book 1 focuses on the legend of Sleepy Hollow and book 2 revolves around Edgar Allen Poe. Yesssss!! I thoroughly enjoyed Edgar's story, and his "affliction" was super creepy!

Edgar and Lenore's story was so pure yet tragic. I did hope to get a more detailed look at Edgar's writing process/career. Admittedly, I'm not very familiar with the works of Poe, so I'm sure the story is chock full f references I just didn't catch. Stacey is good like that. 

The ending was heartbreaking, satisfying, and left me wanting more, so much more. The only thing I have left to say is...

How could you, Stacey??

Twitter: @declarefangirl
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow thinks that playing the role of the fairy queen Titiana in a production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream could be her lucky break - if she can pull it off. But when she meets the handsome Sonny Flannery, Kelley has to face the shocking truth that the world of Faeries is all too real - and that she an unwitting part of it. Sonny warns Kelley that she is no mere mortal, and that she is being haunted by powerful forces from the Faerie realm. Now, Kelley must come to terms with her heritage - and her growing feelings for Sonny - if she wants to save not only herself, but also the human world that she holds dear.

5 Stars

Wondrous Strange was just plain magical!

Sonny was, by far, my favorite character. He was equal parts swoony sweetheart and tortured soul. I loved everything about him. It was adorable how he would get confused over things Kelley would say. All he wanted to do was figure out why all of the trouble he was dealing with kept leading back to her, but to Kelley it looked like he was being creepy and following her. He kept trying to explain to her what was going on but of course she didn't believe him. 

I felt sorry for Sonny because he didn't really fit in anywhere. 
1- He's a changeling who grew up in the fairy realm and thus has no knowledge of our culture.
2- Oberon made him a Janis, a guard whose sole responsibility is to guard the gateway between our realm & the fairy realm by any means necessary - including death, and so fairies hate him because it is his specialty to maim/kill fairies. He doesn't fit in with the humans or the fairies. 

The story revolves around The Wild Hunt, one of my favorite fairy concepts, and takes place in New York, mainly Central Park, which I also loved. Finally, Puck. His story and how he is connected to Kelley is very sweet and I hope it gets fleshed out more in books 2 & 3. The second book, Darklight, is at the top of my June TBR and I can't wait to visit this world again. 

Twitter: @declarefangirl
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier. 

4.5 Stars

The Valiant was just plain awesome. I can't remember ever reading a book set in the time of Caesar. I found the whole gladiator fascinating.

Fallon is a straight up bad ass. The fact that she didn't whine much after she was kidnapped was great. A lot of times when an MC is dealt a raw deal their internal dialogue turns so whiny, and it makes it hard to focus on the story and their journey. Totally not the case with Fallon. One of my favorite parts of the story was the friendship between Fallon and Elka (who is a bad ass in her own right). Elka was so supportive of Fallon and kept her grounded. I want my own Elka! 

The story didn't solely focus on the "forbidden romance" and it was so refreshing. I loved Cai but I wanted to see more of his life. He would make comments about his father putting him in strategically placed positions for political advancement. I would have liked to have read some of their conversations. 

Cleopatra makes a couple appearances but she is still a mystery for me. I want to know how she met Fallon's sister. I want to know the back story on how they became such good friends. 

Finally, the fight sequences were freaking awesome. As I read them I kept picturing them with a 300 vibe. I could totally see Fallon kicking ass Spartan-style! 

When I got my hands on this book I couldn't wait to read it, but now I kind of wish I'd waited because now I'm dying for the next book!

I really love Ms. Livingston's writing style and immediately picked up her book, Wondrous Strange (a reread for me), after I finished The Valiant. I am determined to read her other 2 trilogies this summer (Wondrous Strange & Starling). 

Twitter: @declarefangirl
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