Judge by the Cover (Hafu Sans Halo #1) by Melissa Abigail

Summary:

Haruna Mitsukai is an overachiever with dreams of attending the University of British Columbia.

Ryu Debiru is a bad boy whose only desire is to escape this ridiculous prison called “life.”

Both attend Shady Glenn Academy and despite their similar “hafu” identity, they couldn’t despise each other more.

Years of avoidance come to an end when a major assignment on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice pairs them together.

Just as everything reaches a breaking point, revelations about an old East Side mansion called “Heaven” causes Haruna to question everything she thought she knew about him.

As for Ryu? Well, all that glitters is most certainly not gold.

Characters

Haruna is a very annoying character. I felt like the author tried too hard to make her unlikable. She doesn’t really improve with the book either until right near the end. Ryu is a different story. He is very complex and well thought out. He had all the character depth that Haruna lacked. He was a shining star in this otherwise bland cast of characters.

Plot

This book tried way too hard to be mysterious. The problem is the first half of the book is so boring. I was actually not enjoying the whole high school plot with Haruna and her friends. It was rather repetitive at times and I felt like the first half of the book could have been cut in half with the second half being expanded.

Also I get that Haruna and Ryu went to school together but sometimes I felt like Haruna and Ryu being thrown together too often. Like they were two bouncy balls tied together by a string that kept contracting and pulling them together. I believe this was worse because it felt forced at times.

That being said the plot after about the 60% point really picks up! I after that I rushed to finish it because the main POV switched from Haruna to Ryu and his POV was much more interesting. There were some aspects of his chapters that fell short, but they were much more lively. I wondered if the contrast between Haruna and Ryu was purposeful to show the gab between them even more, but it felt too wide.

Overall

The writing could be sharpened but was find for a Young Adult read and had limited errors. The setting was flat. Although the characters weren’t all interesting, but some of the characters were fantastic. They could be given some work to polish them up and make them more realistic. Haruna was complex but she also felt fake to me – again this could have been on purpose but to me it was distracting and annoying.

I had a hard time marrying up the first half of the book with the second half of the book. Where the first half of the book was dull and difficult to get through, the second half of the book was gripping and interesting. The pacing of this book could be greatly improved. It was a decent Young Adult novel and for those who like high school based novels with a twist, this is a good read.

Rating

3 stars

I didn’t love or hate this book. If you like books that develop slowly, this book is for sure for you, it just wasn’t for me. It earns 3 stars because I like the root premise of this book: Don’t judge a person by how they look.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Fool Me Twice by Philippa Jane Keyworth

Summary

In the gaming hells of eighteenth century London, orphan Caro Worth is leading a double life. By day she plays a proper gentlewoman on the lookout for a wealthy husband. By night she plays the infamous Angelica, her fictional half-sister with a talent for cards and an ability to finance the life her respectable self has built. An introduction to a rich Marquis brings marriage and security within Caro’s grasp…until the arrival of the unpredictable and totally ineligible Mr. Tobias Felton.

Dismayed by Felton’s persistent appearances, shocking frankness, and enigmatic green eyes, Caro watches helplessly as he comes closer than anyone to guessing her secret, but when complete and utter ruin threatens, she finds that Felton’s suspicions just might become her salvation. As the walls she has built to protect herself crumble down around her, Caro learns that no matter how careful your plans, life and love have a habit of falling quite spectacularly out of control!

Characters

Caro is a feisty but desperate woman. She doesn’t want to abandon all home so instead she assumes the persona of another. Angelica has some freedoms that Caro does not – like speaking her mind. Tobias is a bloody mess. Being the youngest he hasn’t found anything worth while to invest his time or energy in so he just drifts. Rebecca is adorable – I loved her more than Caro most of the time.

Despite the fact that in the end and over all I like Caro, she could be down right wishy washy and irritating. Actually I didn’t like her very much for the second half of the book. Especially after her secret gets out. Instead of rising up – she had to be saved by the men around her. That was the most frustrating thing about this entire book. I thought it would be more about her saving herself but no. So fair warning there.

Plot

Caro’s double life as Angelica catches up with her. There wasn’t a lot of lead in to the bad guy being a bad guy but it was believable. Entitled and malicious. Surprisingly the romance is as important as the rest of the plot. I believe that even some men would enjoy this book due to its duel plot nature. The romantic aspect was really secondary for most of the book – only the last 25% really felt like a historical romance. Which was the worst part of the book in my opinion.

Overall

Absolutely gripping read. The writing flowed well and was at a fast paced tempo. It did a good job of sticking with the era and its colorful vernacular. At times the author overshadowed that something (mostly bad) was about to happen, which took me out of the book. There were a few POV shifts as well but also minimal. Not to mention that the grammatical errors were almost non-existent.

The characters were alright, Rebecca being my favorite and frankly Caro being my least favorite. At least the ‘bad guy’ (don’t want to give away who it is) is consistent – Caro isn’t throughout the book. She is all over the map. The only consistency is her inconsistency. The setting was well done, although more than once breaking the rules of proper society. Which may or may not be a good thing! The scenes between Caro and Tobias are very sweet though and by the end I went from not really liking to Tobias to loving him.

Rating

4 stars

The duel plot and fluid writing that is gripping and interesting is the reason for this rating. Fantastic read for any vacation!

I received a free copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

At First Light (Mount Kiernon #1) by Suzanne Paschke

***This book does not stand alone***

Summary

Having escaped the clutches of her abusive and controlling husband Cheryl Prescott flees the city she grew up in to live a new life under a false name. Years later when her car breaks down in the small town of Mount Kiernon, Cheryl – who is now better known as Sarah Walker – is forced to spend the night waiting for it to be repaired.

Discovering a town that is hurting as much as she is, Sarah decides to settle down and call the town her new home, opening a cafe along with her heart to the people of Mount Kiernon. As relationships with her customers grow, so do the feelings she has for the local mechanic, Jamie.

Will Sarah open her heart to let Jamie in, or will the new life she has built on lies crumble when her past threatens to return?

Characters

Sarah is a super strong, but damaged character. She is very emotional but is completely understandable. The author does a great job bringing back her to her struggles over and over again. Her internal struggles make her previous life seem real – so when Jamie comes along it makes sense that she isn’t ready. Jamie is such a heart throb! Love him. There was a bit of an issue with POV switching between Jamie and Sarah – sometimes in the middle of a chapter with no clear break. It was very confusing sometimes.

The supporting characters very much feel like a small town. I’ve visited a few small towns and they aren’t always as friendly but they are very similar to what the author portrayed. I really liked Jamie’s friends but some of the dialogue was a little too similar between characters.

Plot

I felt like the plot just went on and on. After a while it was a little repetitive and I couldn’t always understand why some parts of the story were told, while others were just skimmed over. I don’t know if all of the chapters actually advanced the plot, which made it difficult to hold my attention the entire time. The worse part was I expected some sort of resolution at the end for how long the book was and how much redundancy was built in – all to build the character up – but there wasn’t. This book cannot stand alone.

Overall

The writing could be fleshed out a bit, particularly the POV switches mid-chapter, but overall was enjoyable. The author did an excellent job with the main characters, and some of the secondary characters, but the dialogue could use some tweaking.  The plot could use some condensing – particularly pieces that didn’t advance the plot or were repetitive. Honestly I don’t know why this was split into two books…if it was for the cliffhanger at the end that is absolutely not necessary and is one of the biggest reason this book is getting the below rating.

The author brought a high level of emotion to this book. I was choked up more than once! I really rooted for Jamie and Sarah to work. This is for sure an unpolished gem that would really shine with some clean up. It was very sweet. I’d hope the second book gets more into Sarah’s strength and not so much her broken side. I’ll admit that sometimes Sarah’s actions really pissed me off but the author did a great job of having Sarah correct it quickly enough that she was quickly redeemed in my eyes every time – which is not easy to do so I applaud the author!

Rating

3 stars

This book has so much potential and excellent character development but needs to clean up. I also don’t think this should be two books based on the excess content of this book. That being said I absolutely love Jamie and Sarah and hope they get their happily ever after!

I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

The Inhibited by Jay Saph

Summary

What if the world around you had no music or art? People had lost the ability to create or daydream. The pursuit of pleasure is now only a forgotten, outdated concept.

“The Inhibited” is a futuristic tale set in the Northern Zone, 2042. It follows the life of Declan Smith, a young aggrieved student intent on uncovering the truth. Smith believes the key to political change lies in understanding the past, but he soon finds out the greater challenge is the discovery of his own soul.

Characters

Lots of interesting characters. I liked Hazel – the little girl – just because of her sweet outlook on most things. Declan was also a likable character although sometimes we was very much a ‘boy’ (caused me to roll my eyes a few times) but absolutely believable. That was something the author did very well – creating characters that felt like they could be real. I won’t say too much here other then that in fear of giving away the story.

Plot

The overall plot isn’t too complicated – a little predictable but I appreciated how real the author kept it. It was very imaginative and well within the bounds of what could happen. That is what made it have such an impact. No froo-froo ending of ‘happily ever after.’ It was a well thought out and realistic ending to this tale. It picked up on very real issue in society and exploited them – for that I have to say well done.

Overall

It felt a bit like reading a biography for fictional characters in a possible future – almost eerily so. Very well done, but it did have areas of languish that made my mind wander and then I’d have to snap back. It was well written and easy to follow – there were some dialogue pieces that read weird and a handful of errors but they weren’t major. The slowness may have been due to the author withholding key information until nearly the very end of the book. However, that mystery was also well woven – like a flower slowly blooming, once complete it was a beautiful thing.

My biggest complaint – besides the somewhat rushed ending – was the setting. I really struggled to understand how the new formed world was set up. Some of it made absolutely zero sense. Mostly distance traveled versus time spent traveling and trying to track how far the Northern Zone really spread. That was underdeveloped and took me out of the story multiple times.

Rating

4 stars

This was a thought provoking read that I was surprised at how much I liked at the end. This author did a good job at weaving a believable dystopian future – anyone who likes dystopian books, this is a must read!

I received an eBook copy in exchange of an honest review.

Godeena by Stjepan Varesevac Cobets

Summary

Major Henry Broncon miraculously survived a battle with Ansker soldiers on the planet Morad. He was found under a pile of corpses, his best friend and the whole brigade remained in the field of death. Broncon was fully acquitted, he got the medal for bravery and was promoted to the rank of colonel, but he cannot forgive himself because he feels responsible because they fell into the trap.
Shortly after the war ended, and terrestrial colonies that came out as winners in the war to receive a distribution system Naude comprised of planets and Godeena. On the surface there was a huge and completely preserved, but uninhabited city that scientists have named the Absolute. Soon he sent an expedition to investigate what happened to the people and animals because he never found signs of life. A few days later he was attacked from the surface and loses all trace of them. General Staff sent two teams of Special Forces to find out what happened to the expedition but they also disappear, leaving no trace behind.
Commander of General Staff, Gen. Hensell due to personal reasons of Colonel Henry Broncon requested to collect the unit, composed of the worst inmates from prison Had, and along with them discover what is happening on the planet Godeena. Henry accepted this task and collected 17 prisoners.

Characters

Henry was an interesting character. A little underdeveloped but interesting. The biggest problem with this book was the point of view (POV) shifts. Within one chapter there would be between 2-6 POV shifts. There was no logic or reason and it was jarring. I did like Diana though, she was the reason I kept reading.

Maria/Kir was the best character but she didn’t really fit in the book. She felt like a fantasy character in a sci-fi novel.  I would have liked to know more about her but I may have lost how Maria/Kir came to be but it may have been lost.

Plot

This plot was pretty straight forward. Go and get some prisoners, get them trained, take them to a crazy planet with a killer creature, and defeat it. The part about going to the prisoners and training them seemed to take forever. I actually almost quit twice. I struggled with the easy comradery that followed — it didn’t feel real. It happened too quickly and everyone just fell in.

Best part of the book was when they finally arrived at the planet. Although that stagnated near the middle. Author did a great job of building the planet — Godeena. I thought the author was going to have a twist at the end but I was thoroughly disappointed when he played it safe.

Overall

This book was too long and I just couldn’t get into it. To me it was wordy in all the wrong places. I did like some of the characters, particularly Diana, but there were some incoherent pieces. The POV shifts were distracting. The author did a good job on the planet’s setting, but took too long to get there.

Rating

2 stars

I didn’t like this book. I couldn’t recommend this to anyone and it needs a lot of work. It has some potential but needs a complete overhaul. Diana and Godeena itself were the shining moments in this novel.

I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

Unfathomable Chance Giveaway – Birthday

April is my birthday month. I love this time of year, spring time, and birthday month. As such I want to share with others by having a giveaway. Since the book features Diana’s birthday it seemed appropriate!

Go HERE.

Best of luck to you all and for those who also have April birthdays, happy birthday!

West Quarry Farm by James Stillwood

Summary

He’s still out there. Still doing the same thing. It’s not just the fact he kills them that’s shocking, but it’s the way he does it. Can you be certain it won’t be you next?

Working at a supermarket, living with her teenage daughter and caring for her elderly mother, on the surface, Mel William’s life appears to be ordinary. But Mel is on a quest. She is determined to find the man who harmed her daughter, and nothing will stop her from hunting him down.
With a loving husband, a young daughter and plans to expand her own business, to the outsider, Rebecca Stead would seem to have the perfect life. Then, one day, she is thrown off course by a chance meeting.
A horrifying event binds these two women together.

Characters

I thought the summary misrepresented who we would see the most of. I expected we’d spend most of the book with Mel Williams but there are twice as many chapters with Phil (Matteson) and Rebecca Stead. This is important because I wasn’t a fan of Rebecca at all. In fact most times I just wanted her chapters to end. Mel on the other hand I had a lot of respect for. Phil is one bad dude and the author did an amazing job making him creepy and calmly evil. Also Jenny (Rebecca’s friend) is a hoot.

Plot

The author had a lot of aspects running at once to keep the reader guessing. It was suspenseful in a slow and ‘not sure when this is going to get really bad’ sort of way. I felt the author spent too much time on Rebecca’s life but I get that it was to build her character and the suspense. I actually felt really bad for her husband and daughter. Rebecca made choices and was a freaking idiot and I couldn’t bring myself to like her for the duration of the book. The author added in a stalker which was great.

Overall

This was such a British psychological thriller. The setting was set to match this. It actually reminded me a big of Blood on the Wire. It was unnerving and suspenseful but took a long time to have something happen. It had weird moments that were meant to increase the intensify. Then the action spikes for the characters and is resolved a chapter later. Thankfully there is an epilogue which shows where all the characters are.

The writing was easy to follow, although there were some British terms I wasn’t sure on. There were limited errors, mostly punctuation errors, but I did note an overuse of colons. The characters were mostly consistent but Rebecca was all over the board emotionally. Honestly she was such a mess that it made the plot believable, but also took me out of the suspense of the book more than  once.

Rating

4 stars

The suspense in the books builds and builds. It was unpredictable and it took me awhile to figure out where it was going. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending even if I didn’t like all the characters.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.